Rocky Road Ice Cream

Rocky Road Ice Cream 2
If you all have been following me for awhile, you know that Joel and I are not big chocolate lovers. It has it’s place in cookies and such but for me, not as the main star. I’ve never been a fan of chocolate cake (except for my sister-in-laws) or chocolate ice cream but somehow Noah got the chocoholic gene. So some kind of chocolate ice cream had to be present at his party and I decided to go with Rocky Road since he also has a love affair with marshmallows and almonds.
Rocky Road Ice Cream 3
This chocolate ice cream is incredibly rich and decadent (thank you dutch process cocoa) so just a scoop is satisfying. Which is good considering the ingredient list. The marshmallows stay soft and the almonds add a delicious, salty crunch.
Rocky Road Ice Cream 5
Although this wouldn’t be the first ice cream I would reach for, it’s pretty tasty even for a non-chocolate lover. And I have to say too, my brother doesn’t care for chocolate all that much either and he said it was his favorite of all my homemade ice ventures. That’s saying a lot when you consider this, this, this, this and this.
Rocky Road Ice Cream 1
Rocky Road Ice Cream
recipe from The Ultimate Ice Cream Book

1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini marshmallows
1/2 cup roasted, salted almonds, roughly chopped

1. In a food processor, combine sugar, eggs and cocoa and blend until smooth.

2. Bring the milk to a boil in a medium saucepan. With the food processor running, slowly drizzle the hot milk into the chocolate mixture through the feed tube. Process until well blended. Pour the entire mixture into the pan and cook over low heat. Whisk constantly until the custard thickens slightly. Pour mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large, clean bowl. Cool slightly then stir in the cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled.

3. Stir in the custard then freeze according to manufacturers directions. During the last 5 minutes of freezing, dump in the marshmallows and almonds. Transfer to a freezer safe container.

Homemade Nut Butters

Peanut Butter
I have a Pinterest board called Storebought to Homemade with all kinds of DIY recipes for delicious items from the grocery store. Things like dulce de leche, wheat thins, graham crackers, extracts and nut butters. Things that I have totally intended to start making from scratch but as you can see, I just haven’t gotten there yet. This whole eating clean thing is forcing me into though and I’m happy about that.
Almond Butter
I almost always have a smoothie for breakfast and one of my favorites calls for peanut butter. Since I can’t eat sugar right now and natural peanut butters come in small, expensive jars (and sometimes still have added ingredients) I decided now was the time to jump in and make it from scratch. Nut butters are incredibly easy to make at home and only require one ingredient, whatever nut you choose. Of course, a bit of oil can be added for additional creaminess but I didn’t feel it was necessary.
Peanut Butter
I decided to make almond butter and peanut butter to have a variety on hand so I will provide the “recipe” for both below and some variations that would be delicious. You can use any amount of nuts you want/need. I listed the amounts that I used below so that you can see how much it yielded. So far, I have only used them in smoothies and for dipping apples so I can’t say how well they will work in recipes but they taste delicious. Make sure you store them in the refrigerator in an airtight jar or container.
Almond Butter

{Photos with almonds scattered are of the almond butter, the other photos are peanut butter}

Almond Butter

2 cups natural almonds
Pinch of salt, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place almonds on a rimmed sheet pan and place in oven for 5-10 minutes. Be sure to check them often and shake the pan to ensure none of the almonds burn. Remove from sheet pan and allow to cool.

2. Dump almonds in a food processer or high powered blender* and turn it on. Scrape down the bowl every minute or so until it starts to form a paste then just let it run until it’s nice and smooth. This took about 5 minutes in my food processor. Add a pinch of salt if desired. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container (I like using mason jars).

Peanut Butter

3 cups roasted peanuts**

Place peanuts in a food processor or high powered blender. Turn on and scrape every minute until it starts to thin out and form a paste. Then just let it process until desired consistency has been reached. Store in refrigerator in an airtight container.

Nut Butter Variations:
-Add a tablespoon or so of honey when blending the nuts
-After the nut butter is completely smooth, fold in some finely chopped dark chocolate (no sugar added)
-Add a teaspoon of vanilla when processing the nuts
-If you prefer chunky peanut butter (I do I do!), after peanut butter is completely processed throw in another handful of peanuts and pulse a few times to add some texture
-This vanilla bean coconut peanut butter also looks to die for delicious

*I tried using my Vitamix at first and I constantly had to push the nuts down into the blades then it started to get really hot and the motor was making a weird noise so I switched over to my food processor which worked much better for this. I’m sure it works but I just didn’t want to risk ruining my beloved Vitamix so just be aware if you are using a blender.

**When buying roasted peanuts, read the label! Every brand at my traditional grocery stores had all kinds of nasty added ingredients. I ended up going to Trader Joe’s and found “clean” peanuts.

Peanut Butter

Almond Joy or Mounds Eggs

Coconut Cream Eggs 1
If you are looking for a fun Easter treat to make with the kiddos, this is it! Noah and I are huge coconut and almond lovers so this was an ideal sweet for us.

Noah loved dumping all the ingredients into the KitchenAid and turning it on. Needless to say, we may have had a powdered sugar shower. Once the dough chilled, I formed the eggs and the dude put the almonds on top. This is my disclaimer to any of you that received these (in case there were two on top of each other or they were pushed down to the bottom). After awhile, he got a little bored and decided he would just eat the almonds while I finished them up. And like a typical boy, he put too much in his mouth and decided he would spit them out into the bowl of almonds…lovely I know. After that little incident, the eggs became Mounds. Oh, the joys of cooking with kids.
Coconut Cream Eggs 3
These turned out absolutely perfect! They taste a lot like almond joys and are the perfect small bite when you have a sweet tooth. The recipe states that it makes 28-30 eggs but I decided to make them a little smaller and came out with about 40. I still placed two almonds on each egg (you know, before the spitting incident) so keep that in mind when considering how many almonds you will need. I sprinkled the Mounds version with sprinkles so that we could tell the difference and well, because sprinkles make everything happy.
Coconut Cream Eggs 2
Coconut Cream Almond Joy {or Mounds} Easter Eggs
recipe from food.com

1/4 lb. butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 lbs. confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
15 ounces flaked coconut
20 -23 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (almost 1 lg. bag)
Unsalted almonds, 2 for each egg

1. Mix the butter and cream cheese together (I use my KitchenAid) Add the confectionary sugar about 1 cup at a time, salt and vanilla then mix well. Add the coconut and mix until well blended (it will be very thick).
2. Place the mixture in the freezer to chill for at least 20 minutes.
3. Take out of the freezer and form into egg shapes with your hands. (It is helpful to put some confectionary sugar on your hands so the eggs don’t stick to them when rolling out the dough).
4. Place each egg on a cookie sheet, covered with aluminum foil. When you are done, add 2 nuts on the top of each egg, pressing in slightly, so they don’t fall out.
5. Place in the freezer again for at least 25 minutes.
6. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.
7. Dip the bottom of the egg into the chocolate, then place it on a small flat dish. Take a large spoon and spoon some melted chocolate on top, spreading around with a butter knife. Make sure you don’t get it on too thick, or you won’t have enough for the whole batch. To put the egg on the cookie sheet, use a sharp knife, and run it under the egg to transfer to the cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil.
8. When done making eggs, put in the freezer for a few minutes to harden. Store in the refrigerator, covered with aluminum foil.
Coconut Cream Eggs 4

Loaded Triple Chocolate Banana Muffins

Loaded Triple Chocolate Banana Muffins
I know these muffins have quite the name and I really should have simplified with the title “best muffins ever.” They really are that good. They were still light and moist, unlike many muffins I have made with whole wheat flour. And they are actually an updated version of the muffins I shared here (before I really experimented and had creativity with existing recipes).

I had been putting off making these muffins because I was feeling lazy and just wasn’t in the baking mood for days. But that poor child of mine went muffin-less for a whole week and he just couldn’t take it anymore. We had some super ripe bananas begging to be used and I remembered this chocolate banana muffin recipe that I had made a long time ago and knew he would love them. It’s a good thing I stalk follow so many blogs and save so many recipes because I’m pretty sure I could make a different type of muffin every week of the year.
Loaded Triple Chocolate Banana Muffins
I liked the base recipe for these but I was craving something with more flavor and texture so I made a few tweaks to fit my taste and mood. I went on a Trader Joe’s binge over Labor Day when visiting my parents so I have a huge stock of nuts that need to be used up. Every time I go in that place I go into a panic like I will never go again and proceed to feel the need to buy excessive amounts of ingredients that I have no plans for immediate use. I could add almonds to just about anything and think it was spectacular but I wasn’t sure about the sunflower seeds. They ended up putting  the muffins over the top for me. They gave them an awesome, nutty crunch that was really wonderful.

The muffins were crammed with delicious goodness in every bite and could be packed with even more depending on your taste or what’s in your pantry. Make sure to check out the additional mix-in ideas before baking them up and comment with any other yummies you add in that I didn’t dream up!
Loaded Triple Chocolate Banana Muffins
Loaded Triple Chocolate Banana Muffins
recipe adapted from Food.com

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup dutch process baking cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup mashed ripe banana
1/3 cup + 2 Tbsp. canola oil (or sub applesauce)
1 egg
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup slivered toasted almonds
1/2 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
Additional Possible Mix-Ins: raisins, craisins, pecans, toffee bits, marshmallows, quick cooking oats

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine first 7 ingredients.

2. In a small bowl, combine bananas, oil and egg.

3. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until moistened. Fold in chocolate chips, almonds and sunflower seeds.

4. Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups three fourths full.

5. Bake for 17-25 minutes or until muffins test done.

Ramen Cabbage Salad

Ramen Cabbage Salad
For Memorial Day this year, we decided to travel to Kansas City to visit Joel’s family. It’s so hard these days to travel 9 hours in the car so we really cherish the times that we are able to get back. We have a lot of fun and exciting things planned for the weekend including an awesome BBQ with lots of family.

This Ramen Cabbage Salad is always a huge hit with my family and I’m sure would be with just about anybody. We make it for almost every spring and summer gathering because its unique and not the typical side dish. It’s pretty simple to throw together but doesn’t keep well so make sure to mix it up right before serving. You most likely won’t have to worry about leftovers.

Ramen Cabbage Salad

6 green onions, whites only
1 medium cabbage, thinly shredded or a bag of pre-shredded cabbage
2 packages Oriental Ramen, crunched
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Dressing:
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup sugar

1. Thoroughly combine all dressing ingredients and refrigerate.

2. Toast sunflower seeds and almonds in a dry pan until you can smell them. Set aside then toast the crunched ramen (without the packets) in the same pan. Combine the nuts, ramen and the ramen packets.

3. Just before serving, combine the cabbage and onions with the dressing. Then mix in the toasted ingredients and enjoy.

Recipe linked to Totally Tasty Tuesday, Cast Party Wednesday and Full Plate Thursday.

Brown Butter Ice Cream with Pralined Almonds

It’s time again to break out the ice cream machine! That little fact pretty much makes my entire week. I have a thing for ice cream in a really bad way. It doesn’t really matter how full I am, I can still manage to find room for ice cream. I inherited this love of ice cream from my dad so whenever I visit my parents I try to whip up a little something for us.
Brown Butter Ice Cream with Pralined Almonds
When I came across this recipe, I knew it was one I would have to try out on my dad. We both love butter pecan ice cream and this recipe looks very similar to it but with almonds instead…even better in my opinion. I’m sure I say this every time I make homemade ice cream but this was one of my best attempts yet! It is super rich and creamy and the pralined almonds throughout add such a delicious, sugary crunch.
Brown Butter Ice Cream with Pralined Almonds
Brown Butter Ice Cream with Pralined Almonds
recipe from Portuguese Girl Cooks

For the Custard:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Pralined Almonds:
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup whole almonds, unblanched and untested
1/8 teaspoon coarse salt, preferably fleur de sel

For the almonds:

1. In a large skillet, combine the water, sugar, and almonds. Cook the mixture over medium-high heat, stir constantly with a wooden spoon, until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid comes to a boil.

2. Decrease the heat to medium and continue stirring for a few minutes, until the liquid has crystallized and becomes sandy. The crystallized sugar will begin to liquify, stir the dark syrup at the bottom of the pan, and begin to coat the nuts with it. Continue to stir and glaze the nuts with the syrup, until the almonds are glazed and become glossy and shiny.

3. Remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle with the salt. Pour the almonds onto an ungreased baking sheet and allow to cool completely. Once cool, break up any almond clusters that have formed. Chop up the almonds into small pieces and any sugar. Set aside.

For the ice cream base:

1. In a small frypan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Cook the butter until it is a dark amber. Stir occasionally and watch the butter closely to avoid burning, about 6 minutes. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl.

2. In a large saucepan, bring  heavy cream and milk to a simmer. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, both sugars, and salt until well blended and mixture is thick. Whisk in the brown butter. Slowly whisk in the hot cream mixture into the yolk mixture. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until the custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon and temperature reaches 170 degrees F. This takes approximately 5 minutes. Strain the custard into a large bowl. Refrigerate until cold. Stir in the vanilla.

3. Process custard in ice-cream maker according to manufacturers directions. Transfer to an airtight container and stir in the pralined almonds. Freeze until firm.

Recipe linked to Mangia Monday, Totally Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Cast Party Wednesday.

Chocolate-Almond Pralines {12 Weeks of Christmas Cookies}

So I’m starting to worry more about Christmas now that it’s November. I don’t have any lists started yet. Joel hasn’t given me any ideas. Not that I should be surprised. That happens every year. And his birthday is 6 days before Christmas so I need even more ideas from him. Darn him. He is just asking to be nagged. So it’s not my fault when it undoubtedly happens. Anyway, onto the food. That’s why you are here anyway.

Ok, so these aren’t cookies but they just sounded way too divine and perfect for Christmas to pass up. I’ve never made pralines before and they turned out to be surprisingly easy. These are great but I could only eat one…they are very very sugary. Make sure that the mixture get thick before scooping them out. I think I jumped the gun on some as the first half were a little thin and soft when scrapped off of the parchment.

The perfect little sugary pick me up!

Chocolate-Almond Pralines
recipe from Southern Living Christmas Cookbook

1 1/2 cups slivered almonds, toasted*
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp. Kahlua, optional

1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugars dissolve and butter melts.
2. Cover and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes to wash down sugar crystals from sides of pan. Uncover and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches soft ball stage or candy thermometer registers 238 degrees F.
3. Remove saucepan from heat; stir in chocolate and Kahlua, if desired. Beat with a wooden spoon until mixture begins to thicken. Working rapidly, drop by tablespoonfuls onto lightly buttered parchment paper. Let pralines stand until firm. Yield: 2 1/2 dozen.

*To toast almonds: scatter in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 10 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Recipe linked to Mangia Monday, Totally Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy TuesdayWhat I Whipped Up WednesdaySweet Treats Thursday, Holiday Sweet Swap, Cast Party Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked, Sweet Treats Thursday, Fusion Friday, Strut Your Stuff Saturday, Sweets for a Saturday, Sweet Indulgences Sunday and Full Plate Thursday.