Food

Ice Cream Sprinkle Cake

ice cream sprinkle cake sprinkles ice cream sandwiches hot fudge maraschino cherriesAh, cake. I’ve enjoyed quite a bit lately. Springtime is especially packed with birthdays in my family and everyone has been reaping the benefits of all the cake! Memorial Day Weekend was no exception because it was my stepson’s fifth birthday and you can’t have a birthday (when you’re turning five years old no less!), without having some kind of amazing dessert to commemorate the occasion. He requested a cake with green mint and chip ice cream (none of that white mint chocolate chip rubbish they try to pass off on us) and this is what I came up with: an ice cream sprinkle cake. It’s basically the most fun birthday cake a kid (or grown up) could wish for: layers of vanilla ice cream, chocolaty-cakey-cookies, mint chocolate chip ice cream, fudgy chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and SPRINKLES!!! I don’t care how old you are, sprinkles make everything better. Case in point, my husband’s thirtieth birthday is tomorrow and he requested that I duplicate this recipe for him. It’s that good.
ice cream cake ingredients

I used vanilla ice cream sandwiches and mint chocolate chip ice cream, but any flavors you like would taste great in this cake. It’s pretty hard to mess up layers of ice cream, fudge and whipped cream folks, so be creative! Maybe try using Cherry Garcia instead of the mint chocolate chip. Or butter pecan even. Get wild and crazy! In this photo I included some peanuts for a topping idea but you can top it with whatever your heart desires. I ended up using maraschino cherries as a finishing touch and I think it made it just a little extra special.

To assemble the cake, first choose your vessel. An 8×8 glass baking dish worked wonderfully for us. I lined the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper cut to size in order to make my cleanup easier, then placed the ice cream sandwiches in a single layer in the pan, cutting some horizontally and/or vertically to make one full layer. I stuck the pan in the freezer for about 10 minutes so that the ice cream sandwiches would be firm enough to withstand the next layer. vanilla ice cream sandwiches
mint chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches Once they had a chance to chill out, I got ready to scoop! I love that minty color :).

About 9 scoops did the trick to cover the surface of the sandwiches.
scoops of mint chocolate chip

Mmmm, frosty goodness.

green mint and chocolate chip ice cream

Then I smoothed it out with a pie server because I’m cool and good at improvisation, but if you have an off-set spatula, you could also use that. This part was really fun. I felt like I was spreading spackling paste onto a wall. Clearly this cake brings out the inner, childlike imagination in those who prepare it. Yet another reason to make it! But not that you needed one ;).

Pop the whole thing back into the freezer for 10-15ish minutes to keep it from saggin’, baggin’, or draggin’. We want our ice cream cake icy and firm.

Whilst the cake is chilling, you’ll have a moment to make some homemade whipped cream! Awww yeeayah!

confectioner's sugar, whipping cream, whipped cream ingredients

You only need two ingredients for this whipped cream: powdered sugar and whipping cream.

Pour about a cup of the cream and a couple tablespoons of the sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer and whip it up until stiff peaks form.

whipped cream

What a masterpiece. A thing of beauty. Fluffy clouds in a bowl. Heavens to Betsy!

hersheys hot chocolate fudge sauce

After making the whipped cream and taking the cake out of the freezer, add another layer of ice cream sandwiches, and then you get to pour out a choco-river over them. Yum! A jar of Hershey’s hot fudge works perfectly for this because all you have to do is scoop it out and then spread it over the ice cream sandwiches. I should add that you don’t need to heat up the fudge because it would only melt the cake, and the fudge actually spreads very well at room temperature. If you’re feeling especially daring, try using Nutella!

homemade whipped cream made from scratch

Next I poured the whipped cream over the cake and arranged it ever so gently so as to avoid mixing it with the chocolate. Note to self (and to you), that it’s best to freeze the cake for about 5 minutes after pouring on the fudge, just so it can set up a bit before the whipped cream goes on top. ice cream cake

SPRINKLES! That is all.

five year old birthday candle

Fifth birthday candle? I think, yes.
ice cream cake layers

Here’s a side view of the lovely layers. You really, really need to stop everything and go make this ice cream cake!!

Ice Cream Sprinkle Cake

Ice Cream Sprinkle Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 boxes vanilla ice cream sandwiches (12 per box)
  • 3 cups green mint chocolate chip ice cream, softened slightly at room temperature
  • 6 oz. Hershey's Hot Fudge Topping, at room temperature
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup powdered confectioner's sugar
  • Rainbow Sprinkles
  • Maraschino cherries with the stem
  • Chopped peanuts (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a glass 8x8 baking dish, cut a square of parchment or wax paper to fit the surface of the bottom of the dish. Arrange about 6-7 of the ice cream sandwiches in a single layer in the dish. Use a sharp knife to cut some to size so that the entire area of the dish is covered. Freeze for 10-15 minutes in order to let the sandwiches harden a bit.
  2. With an off-set spatula, smooth the mint chocolate chip ice cream over the sandwiches and put the whole thing back into the freezer for about 15 minutes.
  3. While the cake is firming up in the freezer, prepare the whipped cream. Pour the whipping cream and powdered sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer (you can also use a handheld mixer). Mix at medium speed, until the cream and sugar are combined and stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Make sure to stop the mixer once in a while to make sure you're not over-mixing.
  4. Remove the cake from the freezer and arrange another layer of ice cream sandwiches over the mint ice cream, cutting some to fit the entire surface as before. Smooth the Hershey's topping over the sandwiches and then freeze it again for another 5 minutes.
  5. Take the cake out of the freezer and pour the whipping cream over the whole thing, arranging it carefully so as to not mix it with the chocolate. Pour sprinkles over the top and serve with Maraschino cherries and/or chopped peanuts.
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ice cream sandwich sprinkle cake mint chocolate chip

Goat Cheese Crostini Two Ways

goat cheese, crostini, fig, fig butter, smashed peas with mint, lemon I love goat cheese. It’s salty and tangy and oh so creamy, and the perfect vehicle for a variety of sweet and savory flavors, especially when slathered on a toasted slice of crusty baguette. Recently for a family party I made crostini two ways, each having the same lemony, roasted-garlic & goat cheese base. I topped half the crostini with smashed peas with scallions & mint and the other with a simple fig butter spread. And of course I couldn’t forget to finish each and every one with delicate slivers of prosciutto because it makes things more fancy and twice and yummy. These appetizers are incredibly easy to make and each has a such mouthwatering balance of salty-tangy-sweetness, I promise you’ll have trouble saving enough for your guests!

Here’s how I made them:

Goat Cheese Crostini

I compiled all the topping ingredients: peas, heavy cream, chopped scallions, chopped red onions and garlic, lemon (zest and juice), mint leaves, fig butter, goat cheese, prosciutto, and roasted garlic. Yes, I know that seems like a lot of ingredients but they all come together quickly and your tastebuds will be very thankful. This I promise you. (Name that reference).

Here is the delicious fig butter I used which Trader Joe’s sells. Basically the best spread on the planet. Like butta but doesn’t actually contain butter. It’s silky, sweet, and tart and you should go buy some right now!

trader joes fig butter

baguette

Next I got myself une baguette. Tres chic. Remember that scene in Disney’s Ratatouille where Colette is explaining to Linguini the secret to knowing whether bread is good without tasting it? It must have that special “crackle”. That scene always makes me hungry for French bread!

french baguette I sliced the baguette in rounds,

and drizzled it with liquid gold.

I mean olive oil.

But you can use whichever you have on hand.
olive oil drizzled bread

Then I sprinkled them with coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

sliced bread

They looked so pretty on the baking sheet, they needed a close-up.

After this I popped them in the oven to toast.

And voila! Little baby toasts.

toasted baguette

Then I mixed together the roasted garlic-goat cheese blend. You can buy roasted garlic at the grocery store but it’s soooo easy just to make it on your own! Take a whole head of garlic and lop off the top horizontally, drizzle it with olive oil, wrap it in foil, and stick it in the oven for 40 minutes at 400 degrees. The cloves come out soft and squishable so they’re easy to pop out of their papers. I smashed about four of them into a paste for the goat cheese mixture.

goat cheese with lemon zest and roasted garlic

A little lemon zest and cracked black pepper made it perfectly zingy.

Then I moved on to the smashed peas with mint. I sauteed some onions and garlic in olive oil,

red onions and garlic

peas with heavy cream

And added in the peas and heavy cream to heat for just a minute or two.

Then I blended them with my handy dandy hand-immersion blender, (you can use a food processor or any other blending device), and stirred in some chopped scallions, a few mint leaves, lemon zest and a squeeze of juice, and of course S+P.

smashed peas with scallions mint and lemon zest

Easy peasy. Hehe.

Then I assembled it all onto the crostini! I added a schmear of goat cheese to each slice of bread and then spread the fig butter on half and the smashed peas on the other half.  smashed pea crostini with prosciutto and fig butter crostini with prosciutto

Mmmm….Don’t forget the prosciutto, friends. I was very generous in the cured ham department here.

smashed peas with mint crostini

fig crostini goat cheese

Hors d’oeuvre, anyone?

Goat Cheese Crostini Two Ways

Ingredients

  • 1 French baguette, sliced in 1/2 in. rounds
  • 2-3 TBS olive oil
  • 1/2 jar Trader Joe's fig butter (or any other quality brand)
  • 2-3 oz. prosciutto
  • For the Goat Cheese Mixture:
  • 1 8 oz. log goat cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 4 cloves roasted garlic, smashed into a paste
  • 1 TBS lemon zest
  • Cracked black pepper to taste
  • For the Smashed Pea Mixture:
  • 1 10 oz. bag frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 4 mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 TBS lemon zest
  • 2 TBS lemon juice
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • Salt and cracked black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Arrange the baguette slices on a large cookie sheet and drizzle with 2-3 tablespoons olive oil. Bake in the oven for 5-7 minutes, and then flip them over and cook for another 5-7 minutes or until golden brown and toasted. Remove from oven. If using right away, let them cool and then add toppings. If you want to save them for later, let them fully cool, then place in a sealed, plastic container so they don't dry out. Try to use them the same day, if possible.
  2. To make the goat cheese topping, combine the softened goat cheese, roasted garlic paste, lemon zest, and cracked black pepper in a bowl with a fork until well mixed. Set aside.
  3. To make the smashed pea topping, heat a saucepan over medium heat, add 1 TBS olive oil and sautée the chopped red onions and fresh garlic until onions are translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the thawed peas and heat for about 3 minutes. Add in the heavy cream and heat for another couple minutes. Remove from heat and with a hand immersion blender or food processor, blender, etc., blend the mixture until it reaches a "smashed" consistency--it should be somewhat smooth but chunky at the same time. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt and cracked black pepper to taste. Set mixture aside.
  4. To assemble the crostini, spread a tablespoon of the goat cheese on each. Top half with the smashed pea mixture and the other half with the fig butter. Finish each crostini with a slice or two of prosciutto.
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Gluten-Free Chocolate Tart

chocolate tart

Last June my husband and I visited my cousin, Danika and her husband, Billy in gorgeous Truckee, California. They’re a warm and amazing couple and we absolutely love spending time with them. We also love Truckee because it’s such a fun and laid-back city in the middle of some really breathtaking mountain scenery. Everything is surrounded by humongous green trees, the air is so clean, and the town boasts both the Truckee river and Donner Lake. One night from their deck, as we watched the sun set behind Mount Rose in all its pinkish splendor, a family of deer including a pregnant doe came to snack on some shrubs in the yard. It was just lovely!

Billy and Danika own a super awesome store in Truckee called New Moon Natural Foods and if you’re ever in the area be sure to stop by. One afternoon Danika served us a small gluten-free chocolate tart that their store carries and topped it with fresh raspberries. The combination was incredible, and for some reason I had been thinking about that tart and majorly craving it aaall of last week, so I decided to recreate it!

My version is rich and creamy and extremely chocolaty. It’s also completely grain- and dairy-free. Yeedawgie!

To make it, you will need:

filling ingredients

Semi-sweet chocolate chips, full-fat coconut milk, 2 eggs, a lil’ salt and some sugar.

Enjoy life mini chips

The chocolate chips I used are the Enjoy Life brand mini chips which are dairy free (now carried by Walmart, woot woot!), but you can use any semi-sweet chocolate chips you like and/or are available to you.

Lots of juicy, ripe raspberries:

bowl of raspberries

I bought these because they were beckoning me from a display at Trader Joes, and man were they sweet and delicious! My stepson kept asking for, “Just one more!” from the bowl.

For the crust, rustle up the following:

crust ingredients

Almond meal, unsweetened cocoa powder, melted coconut oil, vanilla extract, and sea salt. See, I told you, no gluten!

Next combine the dry ingredients in a bowl:

combine dry ingredients

And whisk….

whisk dry ingredients

Then add in the coconut oil and vanilla.

Once you’ve added the wet ingredients, I find it’s easiest to mix up if you use a wooden or metal spoon (or even a rubber spatula). If you use a whisk, everything gets stuck in one big blob inside the whisk and that’s no bueno.

crust ingredients mixed together

The mixture should look and feel like wet sand and should somewhat hold together when you flatten it against a hard surface. Try pressing it against the sides of the bowl to test it, and add a touch more coconut oil if it’s too dry or a touch more almond meal if it’s too wet. Remember that you’re going to bake it so it will dry out a bit in the oven.

Next select your baking vessel:

Tart/pie plate

I used this darling, glass tart pan with a fluted edge but if you have a tart pan with a removable bottom then you’re in the money!

Just for good measure place a circle of parchment paper on the bottom to line the pan (trust me, your pan will thank you). Then brush some melted coconut oil all over the bottom and sides and press the dough out inside the pan to make a crust, like so:

unbaked crust

Hands are the best tool.

Bake that thing for 20-25 minutes at 350F. Ovens can vary widely in how hot “350” degrees really is, so you may need to either take it out early or leave it in for a little longer depending on yours. Just keep checking on it and use your baker’s intuition! (Yes, that’s a real thing).

After it bakes, pull the crust out of the oven and while it’s cooling, start on the filling, which everyone knows is the best part of any tart/pie. Simmer your coconut milk in a teeny pot over medium heat.

hot coconut milk

Put your choco chips into a big bowl and pour in the coconut milk to melt them, whiskety whisk, add in the sugar & salt, and whisk some more.

getting ready to pour...

Then, in go the beaten eggs (not pictured), and whisk till it’s all combined:

Chocolate mixture

By this time the crust should be ready….

baked crust

And looking more crusty than it was before!

Pour that oh-so-chocolaty filling into the crust and bake for 25-30 minutes at 325 degrees until it’s set. It will come out smelling and looking scrumptious….

tart out of the oven

Let it cool on the counter and then chill out in the fridge for a few hours.

Then it’s ready to be topped with lots of raspberries!

topped with raspberries

I like to arrange mine in concentric circles ’cause they look oh so pretty that way.

2016-03-12 18.00.16

Gotta see it from the overhead angle.

And a slice, of course:

slice of chocolate tart overhead

Don’t forget that side profile….

chocolate tart side profile

The crust held together perfectly! Yay!

Now go make it!

Here’s the Gluten Free Chocolate Tart Recipe Printable

Ingredients

For the filling:

1 10 oz. bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 eggs, beaten

1 13.5 oz. can full-fat coconut milk

2 TBS granulated sugar

¼ tsp. salt

For the crust:

1 ½ cups almond meal

½ cup coconut oil, melted (plus more for greasing the pan)

¼ cup cocoa powder

2 TBS granulated sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

For topping:

Fresh raspberries

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Trace the bottom of a tart pan on parchment paper, cut out the circle, and line the pan with the paper. Brush some coconut oil on the paper and sides of the tart pan.

To make the crust, in a medium bowl whisk together the almond meal, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt until combined. Switch to a wooden spoon or rubber spatula and stir in the melted coconut oil and vanilla extract until the mixture looks and feels like wet sand. It should somewhat hold together when pressed against a hard surface. Test it out on the side of the bowl and add a teaspoon more of almond meal if it’s too moist or more coconut oil, a little bit at a time, if it’s too dry and crumbly.

Press the dough into the prepared tart pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until it’s somewhat hardened. The crust might puff up slightly while it’s cooking, but it will go down as it cools. Take the crust out of the oven and cool completely before adding the filling.

To make the filling, lower the oven to 325 degrees. Simmer the coconut milk on the stove in a small pot over medium-low heat, until it’s heated through but not boiling. Pour the chocolate chips in a large bowl and whisk in the coconut milk to melt them. Add in the sugar and salt and whisk. Then whisk in the beaten eggs until it’s all combined. Pour the mixture over the cooled crust and bake for 25-30 minutes or until it looks set. It will still jiggle a bit in the center but will continue to firm up as it cools. Remove from oven and cool at room temperature. For best results, refrigerate the tart for 2-3 hours, then top with the raspberries and serve.

gluten free chocolate tart raspberries

Sausage, Lentil, & Kale Soup

 

Pinterest Photo Blog 1

So this is my first post. Although it took me a while, I’ve finally mustered up the courage to write something here. I couldn’t be more excited to be starting my blogging journey and I hope that you, dear reader, will stick with me as I learn and attempt to bring you quality content on a regular basis. So without further ado, I bring you my very first blog post, Sausage, Lentil, & Kale Soup!

Here in Southern California it was basically summer the entire month of February, which was sad because I love making (and eating) soup in the winter, but no one wants to do that when it’s 90 degrees outside. Thankfully, the last few days have been cold(er) and rainy, so I felt this recipe was a totally appropriate way to savor the last few weeks of winter.

I’m a firm believer that a good soup should be built from multiple layers of flavor. It’s all about the layers, people! I learned that from watching Lidia Bastianich on PBS. There’s something about the sound of a wooden spoon scraping up little browned bits of tastiness from the bottom of a dutch oven that’s always appealed to me. What makes this soup so good is that each added ingredient gives complexity and depth of flavor and the finished product is so simple yet satisfying. It’s a big, warm bowl of salty sausage, creamy lentils, tangy tomato, and meaty veggies with a kick of spice. Yum. And it’s a one pot meal! Get in my belly.

First assemble your ingredients….

Photo 2

Sweet Italian sausage, lentils, crushed tomato, tomato paste, chicken broth, onions & garlic, carrots, celery, and of course, kale!

 

bay leaves, red pepper flakes, cheese

Don’t forget a bay leaf or two, a pinch of crushed red pepper, and grated cheese of your choice. I used Romano.

 

Photo 4

Remove the casings from a pound of sausage. I find a sharp paring knife works really well for this.

 

Photo 5

Chop zee onion! Brown or yellow is best, but whatever you have on hand will work. An onion’s an onion!

 

gettin garlicky in hurr

Mince the garlic. Your fingertips will probably carry the lovely fragrance around for the next few days. You’re welcome.

 

Peeled carrots

Peel the carrots! I love the way peeled carrots look–so smooth and lustrous. I know, they’re just carrots….but carrots are people too.

 

Chopped carrots

Dice those shiny, little babies up into a pile of orange-y confetti goodness.

 

Chopped celery

Dice up the celery, too.

 

Photo 10

Then brown the sausage in a heavy-bottomed pot. I heart dutch ovens! If you don’t have one that’s okay. Any big and hefty pot should do. Italian sausage contains enough fat that you don’t need to add anything to get it brown, but because I like to live dangerously I used a touch of olive oil. Also, the fragrance of fennel seeds in these bad boys rocks my world.

 

browned sausage

Here’s the sausage all browned up and crispy and ready to go. Set it aside for later and try not to eat it all before it gets into the soup.

 

Veggies and bay leaves

The sausage will have rendered out quite a bit of fat, but don’t throw it all away! Fat is flavor. Leave a few tablespoons of it in the pot and sautee the veggies with S+P, a couple bay leaves, and a pinch of crushed red pepper until they’re translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Your house will begin to smell even more heavenly at this point.

 

Photo 13

Next add in the tomato paste, about 3 tablespoons, and stir it around for about a minute, until it gets a little brown and even more yummy.

 

all ingredients added

Throw in the crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, lentils, and kale, bring it to a boil and simmer for thirty to forty minutes. As the lentils cook they tend to absorb liquid so if needed, add in a little water till you get the consistency you like. I prefer to wait towards the last ten minutes or so to add the sausage back in, otherwise it can get overcooked and somewhat rubbery.

 

Sausage, Lentil, & Kale Soup

Pour into a big bowl and top with as much cheese as your heart desires!

This recipe makes a lot of soup but it freezes beautifully so you can save it for a few meals, or just eat it all with your family and friends in one night :).

Sausage, Lentil, & Kale Soup Recipe Printable

Sausage, Lentil, & Kale Soup

Ingredients:

1 lb. sweet Italian sausage

1 yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

3-4 carrots, peeled and diced

3 celery ribs, diced

2 cups canned crushed tomatoes

3 Tbs. tomato paste

32 oz. low-sodium chicken broth

1 lb. lentils, sorted and rinsed

4 cups kale, leaves cut or torn into 2-3 inch pieces

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

1-2 bay leaves

Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese for topping

Instructions:

Heat a 6 or 8qt. heavy bottomed pot on medium heat for a minute or two. Remove the sausages from their casings and cook them in the pot for about 10 minutes or until browned and cooked through, breaking them up with a spoon and stirring occasionally. Remove from pot and set aside.

Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of the rendered sausage fat and sauté the onions, garlic, carrots, celery with the bay leaf, crushed red pepper, and a bit of salt and pepper until the vegetables are translucent, about 2-3 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste and cook for about 1-2 minutes. Pour in the crushed tomatoes and chicken broth and add in the lentils and kale. Bring to a boil, cover, and let simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the lentils and kale are tender. Add in the sausage for the last 10-15 minutes of simmering so that the flavors can combine. Add in a little more salt and pepper to taste, if desired.

Ladle into bowls and top with grated cheese to taste.