Chocolate Cherry Milkshake

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Well I just went back and read my About Me page.  I must apologize as I failed to mention a favorite food … Milkshakes.  I have a vague memory that I spoke about my love for milkshakes and liquid meals in one of my smoothie post, but if not there it is.  I have always loved milkshakes and before smoothies were a popular breakfast item , I can remember my mom making fruit shakes for my breakfast.  I was and never have been a great breakfast eater.  As an adult, I know how to get food when I need it, but as a child I do not think my parents liked sending me off to school without breakfast.  Thus I can remember fruit shakes, toaster strudels, carnation instant breakfast, and a variety of other items being given to encourage me to eat breakfast.  I probably ate mixture for breakfast as early as middle school and continue to do so at times.  I like cereal.  I just never learned to enjoy it covered in milk and turning soggy as I eat it.  Funny as I think about it.  I love milk and still consume it on a regular basis with meals, but cereal and milk are two foods I do not mix.  However as I am typing it just occurred to me there is one way I would probably enjoy milk and cereal together… in a milkshake.  That is an idea for another day.

Well I love milkshakes, but they are just too filling to accompany a meal.  I actually consume them more in place of a meal.  I used to get them for snacks or as quick bite when I was busy working and sort of missed meal times.  As a kid I remember having milkshakes for lunch on a summer day for occasion, and this is something I have continued to do.  Well it is more of a year round occurrence than a summer thing.  It is just so easy and many times it is the perfect amount of food if we have had a later breakfast or bigger breakfast on the weekends, but need something with substinance to hold us to dinner.  I do have some guidelines with our milkshake meals – they generally always contain a fruit, banana mostly.  Nay sayers go on, but all food has a place and just as I remember it as a memory as a child, so will Little Miss Mixture.  Besides there are worst things that could be consumed than a combination of fruit, milk, and ice cream.

 

The other day Little Miss Mixture and I were invited to have lunch with my mom.  We went to a local restaurant that specializes in sushi and burgers.  Yes it is a strange combination, but it works.  The menu had some unique milkshake, including some adult only ones, but I was there for lunch and did not need that much.  However the idea of a shake seemed to stick with me for the remainder of the day.  Having eaten a somewhat late lunch, not being that hungry, and no pressure to make dinner as Mr. Mixture was out of town.  I decided to eat some of the leftover food we brought home and make milkshakes.  Perfect dinner for a hot night.

As a kid we used to visit Dairy Queen.  In fact I can recall having my first blizzard and it being served upside down to show how thick it was.  I am fairly certain when we got these they replaced our meals as well.  See I am just carry on another family tradition.  I have always liked cherry things.  For years I ordered the Cherries Jubilee flavor at Baskin and Robbins, and one of my favorite blizzards was chocolate covered cherry.  I had never tried to recreate one of these flavors until the other day.  I could be in trouble because the first time was success and why wouldn’t it be.  How can you go wrong with chocolate and cherries.

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Chocolate Cherry Milkshake

20 fresh cherries, pitted

6 oz. Vanilla ice cream

1 tsp. Vanilla extract

1 Tbsp. Chocolate Syrup

Blend until smooth and enjoy.

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I wonder how many more delicious things I can make before cherry season is over.  What is your favorite way to eat cherries?

 

 

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Have S’mores?

Image 2ImageWhen what should have been a quick and easy recipe fails, you can become frustrated.  Truth is there are several ways a recipe can fail – the taste and the appearance.  Depending on the situation you can still enjoy it.  Feeding the family at home no big deal if the lasagna is slightly runny, or the egg broke and the yellow is all over the plate, but when taking food to a get together appearance matters.

I am still not sure why the s’mores cup did not work.  I had the same recipe I used the first time, so possibly the brand of graham crackers, or maybe I will blame it on the weather.  Regardless I was not going to serve them, but after the cups sat for awhile they hardened up and were not a mushy mess, so I tossed them in a rubbermaid container expecting some greedy little eyes and hands to ask for them.  A day went by and the only person whose hands were caught were mine.  I had to try them to see just how bad they were.  The flavor was good, but they still did not look very appeasing.  But why waste a perfectly good flavor especially when beauty of food has never been my number one priority, so I decided to take one summer flavor and mix it with another.

S’mores Ice Cream.  I googled around to get some ideas of the base different recipes used and since I planned on crumbling the cups as a mix in, I decided on a simple sweet vanilla cream base.  I found a simple recipe on http://www.addapinch.com and adapted it to meet my taste.  I love ice cream and the richer the better, but I did not want to run to the store for whole milk, so I decided to adjust for using a lower fat content milk then it is not quite the indulgence, right?

S’mores Cup Ice Cream

1 1/2 cup 1% milk

2 cup heavy cream

1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 cup sugar

Mix ingredients together and poor into ice cream maker and continue until mixture firmer and has grown in size.  This is the air being incorporated into the mixture that makes for delicious ice cream.

1 1/2 cups crumbled s’mores cup

1/4 cup mini marshmallows

2 oz. dark chocolate chunks

Once it is almost done.  Toss is crumbled s’more cups and a small handful marshmallows and chocolate chunks.  You can serve the ice cream as is, but I prefer to transfer to a container and allow to sit in the freezer several hours or overnight for the best flavor and consistency.

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Obviously you could make this recipe without making the s’mores cups.  Simply roast marshmallows in the oven and combine graham crackers and chocolate.  No matter how you create the ice cream, it will take you fireside with its flavor all the while cooling you off.

We seem to have been on a s’mores kick recently as Little Miss Mixture had me try the indoor s’mores.  I have to say they were easy and had a great flavor.  I have to wonder if I am not looking for that fireside experience or enjoying an outdoor fire for another reason, if I would go through the trouble when the flavor can be replicated in 10 minutes inside in the comfort of my kitchen.

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To make indoor s’mores all you need is an oven proof pan that accommodates the amount you want to make.  Enough for one or enough for more.  Cover the bottom of the pan with chocolate chips or desired chocolate.  Place marshmallows atop and place in oven on 450 degrees for about 8 minutes or until marshmallows are golden on top.  Serve in pan along side graham crackers for dipping.

I used a small Le Creuset as they work well at high temperatures in the oven and are easy to clean, but I know have a reason to get one of those cute mini cast iron pans.  I always wondered what to use it them for.

How cute would an individual pan of s’mores be for dessert?

No matter how you decide to get that s’mores flavor.  I think we can all agree that the flavor of roasted marshmallows mixed with or without chocolate and graham crackers is a must in the summer, and now with indoor s’mores it may be an all year treat no matter where you live.

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Healthy Nutty Brownie

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Another week has flown by and I feel as if my to do list continues to build and the counter to try and get things done is getting shorter and shorter. 14 days left of school. 21 calendar days left before school is out, but we all know it is really only 2 days until Memorial Day weekend and isn’t that the starting point of summer.

Summer is the time at which motherhood becomes more enjoyable, at least for a few days. No early morning alarm wake ups, no lunches have to be packed unless they are for everyone to enjoy by the pool. However it also means a period of twelve weeks when a lot less gets done outside the necessary – laundry, cleaning, cooking because it is exhausting and time consuming watching the kids splash with their friends in the pool. Right?

Wow swim team practice began this week and the pools are open. Let me just say I am glad it is the kids and not me. The temperatures have been volatile this spring. No gradual warm up just big jumps and dips from winter rain to summer heat and the last few nights we have had lows in the 50’s. To some that may make for refreshing water. To me I have another term for it…COLD.

I find in the summer the children tend to get hungry from all that swimming.  It is so easy to toss a bag of chips or pretzels in the pool bag, but is that really the greatest snack?  Fruit is always a good choice, but depending on whether you take a cooler or not it can get warm and mushy.  Everyone loves chocolate especially kids, but granola bars or any mixture or anything with chocolate tends not to hold up in the summer heat.  So when I came across this recipe, I thought I would give it a try.

Who would not feel good about feeding their family a brownie that has five ingredients and provides protein, fiber, and some Omega 3’s.

This recipe was adapted from  5 minute espresso walnut brownies 

Healthy Nutty Brownie

1 1/2 cups raw walnuts, divided
1 cup raw unsalted almonds, roughly chopped
2 – 2 1/2 cups Medjool or Deglet Nour dates, pitted
3/4 cup cocoa powder OR raw cacao if you have it
1 tsp. instant espresso

Place 1 cup walnuts and 1 cup almonds in food processor and process until finely ground.
Add the cocoa powder or cacao, instant espresso  and pulse to combine and then transfer to bowl and set aside.
Add the dates to the food processor and process until small bits remain. Remove from bowl and set aside.
Add nut and cocoa mixture back into food processor and while processing, drop small handfuls of the date pieces down into the food processor spout. Process until a dough consistency is achieved, adding more dates if the mixture does not hold together when squeezed in your hand.
Add the brownie mixture to a small parchment lined cake pan or loaf pan and add remaining 1/2 cup roughly roughly chopped walnuts. Toss to combine and evenly distribute, and then press down with you hands until it is flat and firm.
Place in freezer or fridge to chill before cutting. Store in an airtight container to keep fresh. Will keep in the fridge for at least 2 weeks and in the freezer for at least 2 months.

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While I found the flavor a little too strong initially after sitting in the refrigerator for 24 hours they were better.  Unfortunately Little Miss Mixture was not a big fan and the consistency was too crumbly to make a good take along snack.  However if you are looking for a nice little bit (1×2 square) the Healthy Nutty Brownie is great for curbing hungry while satisfying your sweet tooth as well.

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Rum Balls

Every now and then you need a grown up type of dessert.  Just a bite of something that mixes sweet and saucy.  Rum balls are that for me.  They are that one bite wonder that you can never eat just one of.  I am not someone who drinks rum, or at least very often.  There may be a couple of drinks I enjoy most likely with a little umbrella in them while I relax on the beach or poolside, but I am not likely to mix something up. However each time I have a rum ball or a rum cordial there is a taste or that little burn that I enjoy.  Maybe if there was a chocolate rum drink I would take the time to make it.

This recipe could not be easier and it is great for parties and get togethers.

All you need is stale brownies.  WHAT! I know what you are thinking who has stale brownies.  No one in their right mind, but the key is make a double batch of brownies.  That way you can enjoy some and have ample to make your rum balls ahead of time.

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Rum Balls

Ingredients

8oz stale brownies, crumbled

3oz. dark rum

4oz. dark chocolate, chopped

Directions

  1. In a medium size mixing bowl, pour rum over the crumbled brownies and allow to soak for 2 minutes.
  2. Scoop mixture with a teaspoon onto a wax paper lined baking sheet or plate. Place in the freezer for about 20 minutes to firm up.
  3. Remove from freezer and roll into smooth balls approximately 1 inch in size.
  4. Return to freezer to set.
  5. Melt 4oz chocolate in a double boiler or using the microwave method. Remove brownie balls from freezer and gently roll them around in the melted chocolate to coat completely. As you roll each one place it on a baking sheet or plate with a clean piece of wax paper or parchment paper.
  6. The chocolate will firm up on its own but you can place the baking sheet or plate in the refrigerator to set more quickly.
  7. When ready to serve set out and dust the tops with cooca powder or powder sugar for a pretty display.

These are a great make ahead as you can store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3- 5 days or freezer for up to 3 months.

Adapted from a recipe found on allrecipes.com

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Ladies are you ready for the best day ever?

You have been waiting all year for this day.   NO I am not talking about Mother’s Day that is great and all and those of us that are mother’s may get a little break from our everyday duties.  Maybe someone else will take care of the kids, the dishes, the animals, the laundry, etc.

I am talking about ” EAT WHAT YOU WANT DAY”  Woo Hoo this is it the excuse you have been waiting for to indulge and not feel bad.  Oh and did I mention it just happens to coincide with that other holiday this weekend the one you may receive flowers or candy for or get the day off and go to a restaurant.  Yes two days in one Happy Mother’s Day and Eat What you want Day.

So how will you celebrate?

Baked Brownie

I love an excuse to make something rich and chocolatey.  So here it is, my gift to myself to celebrate and yes I might share a piece or maybe two with someone else in the house.  If they are really good to me for Mother’s Day that is. (Hint Hint.. hope you are ready Mr. Mixture or Little Miss Mixture)

When it comes to brownies, this is one food I have been consistently making for years.  There are lots of brownie recipes and while they all have there place when I want a brownie I  find myself to be a brownie purest. Simple, rich, and pure chocolate.  For years I made the One Bowl Brownie and in my opinion perfected it as I knew exactly how long to cook it so that the edges were done and the middle was a little on the raw side, which is just the way I like my brownies.  For the last several years the Baked brownie has been my go to for strictly consumption by itself or a la mode.  As I said there is a place for all the different types of brownies.  This may not be the perfect brownie for cutting and displaying or at least the way I make it, but trust me good food doesn’t always have to look good and I have never had a complaint regarding the looks of these brownies.

Baked Brownie

1 1/4 Cups all – purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp dark unsweetened cocoa powder
11 -13 oz chocolate, coarsely chopped (see note at bottom)
1 Cup unsalted butter, cut into 1 – inch pieces (8 ounces)
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1 1/2 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 Cup packed light brown sugar
5 eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
flour

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DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease the sides and bottom of a glass or light-colored baking pan with butter or cooking spray.  The original recipe I found called for a 9×13, but I accidentally used a 9×11.  Either works you simply may need to adjust the cooking time for the smaller pan since the brownies will be thicker.  Line the pan with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and cocoa powder together.
3. Put the chocolate, butter and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth.  In using different chocolates I try to ensure all pieces are similar in size which sometimes requires cutting, breaking, or shaving chocolate.  The more consistent the pieces are in size the more evenly the chocolate melts and mixes to a smooth consistency.  Turn off the heat and keep the bowl over the water.  Mix in the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan.
4. Whisk in 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and until completely combined.  Add the remaining 2 eggs and whisk.  Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey.
5. Mix the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just barely mixed, allowing some flour to still be visible.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time.  Let the brownies cool completely, then lift them out of the pan using the parchment paper.
7. Store at room temperature in an airtight container or wrap in foil or plastic wrap.

Note:  This particular batch was made with a combination of  dark chocolate bars and semi sweet. I used almost 8oz-10oz Semi Sweet Chocolate chips,  2 72% bars (1.65 each).  Depending on the chocolate I have I have used special dark, baking chocolate, etc.  Each time they turn our rich and delicious.

The Baked Brownie  This link will allow you to print the recipe.

Remember to have a cold glass of milk or a nice red wine to enjoy with your brownie.

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Warning – If you plan on slicing and eating this or serving it on a platter at a party or other occasion, I suggest you cook it an additional 3-5 minutes.  My version increases the chocolate slightly from the original recipe and while it is perfect for consumption (slightly raw) it is difficult to cut and have look good.

 

Enjoy both holidays and remember every day can be “eat what you want day” as all food has a place and enjoying what you eat and the experience is part of what makes food so good.