Easy Pumpkin Ice Cream – (no machine required!)

IMG_1794Okay fine. I gave into the pumpkin. I love pumpkin – I really do. I was just getting tired of feeling like it got all the excitement and spotlight in the fall. As soon as the first hint of fall and September hits people go pumpkin crazy. I thought maybe it was good to switch it up. But you know how I love to use up leftovers, and I love to try new recipes. Well I had a cup of pumpkin puree sitting in the fridge begging to be used, and since I’d recently made cookies I figured I should go a different direction. Ice cream!

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I had had this recipe tagged for a few months now probably – the two ingredient ice cream recipe that promised to be awesome and easy for those without an ice cream maker. I simply had to test it out. I love ice cream, but I try to keep it out of the house as it is just too tempting and easy to overeat. I mean, you can eat too many cookies, but the numbers guilt you out of it usually. It’s quantifiable. You know you ate 4 cookies, but with ice cream you can say, I just had a bowlful. (Does anyone actual measure their ice cream to meet the serving size?) And then ate a few spoonfuls while I was serving it. And my bowl was pretty darn big. <guilty smile> If I owned an ice cream maker, it would just be another one-trick kitchen gadget that I would use as an excuse to make homemade ice cream way too often. That just sounds dangerous.

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Well now that I’ve found this recipe, I might have just found a new level of kitchen danger because this recipe is way too easy and adaptable and delicious. And unless you want to drink half a can of sweetened condensed milk (okay, yeah you probably do) it’s hard to make a smaller batch.

The great thing about this recipe – besides no machine needed – is its adaptability. You can put any flavor you want in it. In fact I had full intentions of making multiple flavors of ice cream with this batch and then completely forgot when it came time to mix in the pumpkin. Oops!

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Anyway, enough of my rambling. You want to know how to make it? You whip some cream. You fold it into some sweetened condensed milk and you freeze it. And you wait. Then ta-da – ice cream!

Easy Pumpkin Ice Cream (no machine)

1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk

1 pint whipping cream (2 cups)

1 cup pure pumpkin

1/4 tsp. allspice*

1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg*

1/8-/14 tsp. ground cinnamon*

1 tsp. maple syrup (optional)

If you have time, chill a large mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for 10 minutes. This helps the cream to stay cold and whip better (in theory). In another large bowl pour your sweetened condensed milk. Stir in remaining ingredients except the cream. Set aside.

In your chilled bowl with your chilled beaters, whip your cream starting out at a low speed to avoid splatters. Gradually increase the speed as it thickens and beat until soft to medium peaks form. It will take some time, but if you’re using a hands-off mixer such as a Kitchenaid mixer, don’t walk away from it or you will end up with butter. After it seems well-whipped, be sure to scrape the sides and bottom with a rubber spatula to make sure the cream at the bottom has been sufficiently whipped. Beat again if you find some cream that is looser.

Gently fold the cream into the pumpkin and sweetened condensed milk mixture. Start with a quarter of the cream and gently fold it with a sweeping motion from the bottom of the bowl to the top and over. Gradually fold in the rest so that the color is uniform. The reason you fold gently as opposed to beating vigorously is so you don’t lose the air you just whipped into your cream. Put a lid on your bowl and freeze for at least 5 hours. You can stir it after a few hours to evenly chill it, but you don’t have to. I found mine took about 8 hours, but it will depend on the depth of the bowl you freeze it in and your freezer.

Scoop into a bowl (or eat straight from the container!) and enjoy!

*You can substitute pumpkin pie spice for the spices I used. Just experiment with the amount. I would guess no more than one teaspoon.

Note: I find this ice cream is best at its “freshest.” Because it is not churned like ice cream machine types it will get icier (instead of staying creamy) as it sits. If you invite your friends over for an ice cream party you can enjoy it at its prime. I also found it helps to let it sit out at room temperature for 15 minutes before scooping, but that will probably depend on the temperature of your freezer.

Bon appetit!

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The Easiest Crispy Roasted Potatoes

Have we talked about potatoes yet? Have we talked about how easy it is to give them crispy browned sides with very little work on your part? We haven’t?! I can’t believe it.

Crispy, roasted potatoes are a staple in my kitchen. They are an easy, affordable, adaptable, people-pleasing side dish that everyone should know how to make. If you don’t, no worries. That’s what I’m here for.

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First things first – potatoes. What kind? How big? How many?

Personally, I am a fan of Yukon gold potatoes. They look buttery and golden, which tricks you into thinking they are covered in more butter or oil than they actually are (use them for mashed potatoes and everyone will ask you, because they are so yellow, how much butter you put in the potatoes to make them so goooood). You can also use red potatoes, purple potatoes, or even Idaho potatoes, but my personal favorite are the Yukon golds.

As for size, it doesn’t really matter how big the actual potatoes are, though it may help you in deciding how many to cook. It matters more how big you cut them for roasting. As for how many to buy, I would cook 1-2 medium sized potatoes per person depending on how hungry your people are. When in doubt, make more. They aren’t as good leftover (no crispiness!) but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Size becomes more important when you cut them into pieces. You want your potatoes all to cook at the same rate, which means cutting them all relatively the same size. Don’t worry about perfection. If there are some smaller ones, they will just get extra crispy!

Next – seasoning.

Potatoes by themselves are pretty boring, let’s be honest. With the help of a little salt, pepper, maybe some garlic powder, rosemary, Mrs. Dash, or whatever strikes your fancy, potatoes become delicious little bites of starchy carbs! Start with your choice of oil – olive oil or vegetable oil – and drizzle evenly over your potatoes. I never measure*** so I don’t want to throw out some number and be totally wrong, but remember less is more. You want your potatoes to be lightly coated after they are all tossed together, not swimming in a puddle of oil. You can always drizzle in more if they look too dry. Next sprinkle in your salt, pepper, and other seasonings. Again, I don’t measure so I can’t help you there, but start by lightly sprinkling the top surface of your bowl of cut potatoes as if you were salting your scrambled eggs. You can always salt them after they’re cooked if they aren’t salty enough, though cooking them with salt will go a lot farther. As Sam always says, you can always add more salt, but you can’t take it away.

IMG_1617Let’s talk about potato layout… has anyone every talked about that before?

One of the keys to crispy potatoes is space! You want the potatoes to be friends, but they also need their bubble of personal space. If the other potatoes are all snuggled up next to them, things will just get steamy, no seriously! If you want soft, mushy potatoes, let them steam. If you want crispy potatoes, give them some room. Check out the photo above for a good example of the closest the potatoes should be. In fact, some of them are probably even too close. If you are cooking fewer potatoes you can obviously spread them out more, but you don’t want them any closer! Pick your pan according to the number of potatoes you’re cooking. Use two pans if you have to. Give them space and they’ll be happy.

IMG_1619(1)Also speaking of potato layout, do you see the two potatoes in the center of the photo above? The one on the left sits on a flat, cut side for better roasting! The one on the right sits on the skin side – less crispy! You want all of your potatoes to be oriented cut side down and not skin side down for ultimate crispiness. Skins can get crispy, but the starchy potato inside gets crispier. You may have to go through and manually flip all your potatoes once you spread them out, but it’s worth it.

Lastly, high heat and an optional flip.

Potatoes roast best when they get a good amount of heat – 425-450 depending on your oven. Make sure the oven preheats all the way before you pop those babies in. If you want them to be crispy on all sides, it will take a little patience and a little extra effort. The laziest way is to do nothing, a step up is to stir and flip the potatoes with a spatula without worrying about if each one is being flipped (what I did for the photo below), and the ultimate effort is to remove the pan and flip each potato onto another side, one by one. You choose how crispy you want them.

Give your potatoes time. They will need to cook all the way through first before they can begin to crisp up. Expect 30-50 minutes depending on the size you cut your potato pieces.

IMG_1622What beautiful roasted potatoes!

Ok, let’s review:

Yukon gold

Seasoned lightly

Give ’em space

High heat

Time!

There you have it – crispy potatoes! I hope it worked.

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***UPDATE: I made potatoes again last night and actually measured this time for everyone’s benefit! For 2.5 pounds of potatoes I used 2 T. oil and 1/2 tsp of salt. The other seasonings are up to you taste buds!

Bon appetit!

Post 122 – Pesto Couscous Summer Salad

Summer’s a coming. It is here! Or at least it feels like it. The weather has turned humid and muggy and sunny and green and the school children are getting restless (the teachers and staff too! Trust me – I work at a school.) But it is beautiful this time of year where I live. I am loving the views!

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Now I love cooking and baking, but when it gets hot and you have no central air I can lose my energy for cooking, especially in a hot kitchen. When I think of a good summer recipe, I think of something that is quick, fresh-tasting, and doesn’t require the oven. When you don’t have an outdoor grill, these recipes can be hard to come by. Sometimes I sacrifice one night of oven cooking for several nights of tasty leftovers, but other times it is just not worth it.

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Here is a summery flavored side salad or main dish that works well in the summer heat and can be changed to suit your tastes too. You can skip the cooked veggies and throw in raw ones instead (cucumbers, red peppers, shredded carrots) and you can even try quinoa instead of couscous. If your garden has overgrown with fresh basil, make your own pesto! If you just want dinner in 10 minutes, use the store bought kind or the batch you saved in the freezer from last month. If nothing else this simple recipe can be a go-to when you are out of ideas and out of time. Throw in some leftover chicken (or even store-bought rotisserie chicken) and you’ve got a meal. You’re welcome. (Another cookbook checked off the list! By the way, this cookbook was first published in 1977 so if it looks a little old fashioned, that’s why.)

IMG_1564IMG_1566Pesto Couscous Summer Salad

from Betty Crocker’s Cook it Quick!

1 cup uncooked couscous

1 T. olive oil or vegetable oil

1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch slices

1 medium yellow squash, cut into 1/4 inch slices

1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 container (7 oz.) pesto (homemade or store-bought)

2 T. balsamic or cider vinegar

Cook couscous according to package – for 1 cup you will boil 1+1/4 cup water, remove from heat, add couscous, cover and let absorb the water (off heat!) for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork immediately and set aside.

Meanwhile heat oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium high heat. Add zucchini, squash, and red pepper and cook about 5 minutes or until crisp-tender.***

Toss couscous, vegetables, pesto, and vinegar in a large bowl. Serve warm or cool.

***Alternative method: Now I don’t know about you, but when I try and saute a large amount of vegetables in a 10 inch skillet for 5 minutes until “crisp-tender” I end up with somewhat softened vegetables and maybe a little browning. I found that this amount of time and vegetables in this size pan leaves no room for crisp or tenderness and even leaves some of the veggies raw from not enough heat exposure. If you don’t mind running the oven I recommend roasting the veggies, well spread out on a sheet pan or two. It does not require as much stirring, and you can walk away from the hot oven for at least a little bit of time while they cook. Cut the veggies into sticks, cubes, or slices (so long as they are all even-ish in size), toss with oil, salt, and pepper and spread out on parchment lined sheet pan. Roast at 425 degrees, stirring once toward the end until they are lightly browned and beginning to caramelize.

IMG_1553IMG_1555Mmm tasting looking veggies.IMG_0890Throw these in with your couscous and pesto or serve on the side of your main dish as veggie “fries.” They are addictive and delicious. Happy almost summer!