Lemony Ice Cream Squares

lemony ice cream squares copy

Most people dream about standing naked in front of a large crowd or teeth falling out at a rapid rate. Not me. I dream about food, it’s kind of a problem. This past week I dreamed about ice cream sandwiches every single night. I was eating them, buying them, and making them every time I closed my eyes. I figured that this must be some kind of sign from a parallel universe so I decided to make the ultimate ice cream sandwich. I can’t tell if I’m a genius or a crazy person, but what i do know is that this icy treat is a delicious mashup of lemon squares and ice cream. To create this crazy concoction, we start with buttery shortbread cookies that have just the slightest hint of lemon. Then we whip up some of Ina Garten’s luscious lemon curd. It’s sweet and zingy without being tart. After the lemon curd has cooled, we’ll move onto the main event. I’ll show you how to make the creamiest vanilla ice cream base on the planet and then we’ll swirl in our lemon curd from earlier. If you’re just looking for a tasty cookie or an outstanding lemon ice cream recipe then don’t fret. But if you’re willing to make the trip to crazy town with me, I can assure that you will not be disappointed.


shortbread

Lemon Shortbread

Yields 24 squares

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line 2 13×9 cake pans with parchment and lightly grase. In a medium bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest. Rub the zest and sugar between your fingers until the sugar is fragrant. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the lemon sugar, butter, salt, and lemon juice. Use an electric mixer to cream everything together until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the flour.

3. Divide the dough in half and press into each of the prepared cake pans. Prick the dough with a fork.

4. Bake the short bread for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn a light golden brown.

5. Remove from the oven and loosen the edges with a knife. Allow the short bread to rest for 5 minutes. Remove the shortbread from the pans using the parchment as a sling. Cut the shortbread into 12 pieces using a very sharp knife. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.

Buttery Lemon Shortbread


lemon curd ingredients

Luscious Lemon Curd

Adapted from Ina Garten

  • 2 lemons
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • pinch of salt

1. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest of 2 lemons. Avoid the white pith. Place the zest and the sugar into a food processor and pulse until the zest is minced into the sugar.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add the eggs 1 at a time and then add the lemon juice and salt.

3. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened, about 10 minutes. Be sure to stir the curd the entire time. The curd will thicken at 170 degrees, or just below a simmer. Use a candy thermometer to regulate the temperature. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Refrigerate overnight before using it in the ice cream.


lemon ice cream

Lemon Swirl Ice Cream

  • 2 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups luscious lemon curd

1. Heat 1 cup heavy cream, sugar, and salt in a small pot over medium heat. Cut the vanilla bean pod in half and scrape the seeds into the heated milk mixture. Add the vanilla bean pod to the mixture and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and allow the milk mixture to steep for 15-20 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean.

2. Wash a food storage container thoroughly until no food smells remain. Pour the heated mixture into the clean container along with 1 cup of heavy cream, 1 cup whole milk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. stir well. Allow to chill for 3 hours or overnight.

3. Add the ice cream base to the ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once the ice cream is churned, pour a shallow layer into a clean, freezer-safe loaf pan. Spoon a layer of lemon curd over the ice cream and gently swirl with the tip of a knife to create a marble pattern. Repeat with the rest of the ice cream and lemon curd. Place the ice cream into the freezer and freeze until firm, about 2 hours.

4. To assemble the ice cream bars, heat 2 shortbread squares in the microwave for 30 seconds. Using a sharp knife, slice off a piece of the ice cream. Place the slice onto one of the cookies and top with the remaining cookie. Enjoy!:)

lemon swirl ice cream 2 copy

lemony ice cream squares 2

lemon swirl ice cream

Shakshuka with Eggplant and Cauliflower

single skillet shakshuka

My go-to on a busy weeknight is always breakfast for dinner. There’s not much else that’s as simple and satisfying than fried eggs, hashbrowns, and bacon. But that’s not necessarily the healthiest meal to end the day with. I’ve been completely obsessed with middle eastern food lately so I decided to put a spicy spin on our usual Monday night meal.  Shakshuka is typically served for breakfast in Israel and is a great way to start the day with a kick. Eggs are baked in a spicy tomato sauce flavored with cumin and turmeric and then scooped up with warm pitas. My version is a little more on the hearty side and includes sauteed cauliflower, egg plant, and serrano peppers simmered in a rich sauce of San Marzano tomatoes with a touch of feta. What Max and I enjoyed most about this meal was how fun it was to eat. We simply plopped the skillet onto our coffee table and dug in while watching the new X-Men. Monday nights don’t get much better than that!

shakshuka with eggplant and cauliflowerShakshuka with Eggplant and Cauliflower

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup of diced cauliflower florets
  • 1 small eggplant, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 serrano peppers, diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1 28 oz can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 4 oz feta
  • 4-6 free range organic eggs
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • parsley
  • warm pitas for serving

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a large, cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add eggplant, cauliflower, and onion. Saute for about 10 minutes, or until veggies are softened and the onion is transluscent. Add the diced pepper, cumin, and turmeric. Saute for 5 more minutes. Add garlic and stir.

2. Add the tomatoes to the veggie mixture and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in half of the feta. Taste the sauce and season accordingly. Crack each egg into individual bowls. Use the back of a wooden spoon to make a slight indentation in the sauce for each of the eggs. Carefully slide each egg into place. Once all of the eggs are added, carefully place the skillet onto the middle rack of the oven. Bake the eggs for 8-12 minutes, or until the whites are set and the yolks are firm.

3. Remove the skillet from the oven and sprinkle the remaining feta on top. Garnish with parsley. Serve with warm pitas.

shakshuka with eggplant and cauliflower

The sauteed eggplant and cauliflower spiced with cumin and turmeric provide the foundation for the spicy tomato sauce.

shakshuka sauceThe hearty tomato sauce is ready for eggs.

shakshuka with eggplant and caulifower

Breakfast for dinner will never be the same!

Roasted Banana Biscotti

Hi Friends! It’s been awhile. I’d been feeling a little zapped creatively and I just didn’t have it in me to update this site anymore. I know. I’m a bad blogger. I was putting far too much energy into a dead end job and some freelancing projects that were a real time suck. I’ve decided to simplify my life a bit and focus on the things that are actually important. Like this site and all of my lovely readers. I made the decision to go in a new direction with this blog. It will still be very recipe heavy, but will also include makeup reviews, simple DIYs, renter-friendly decor tips, and maybe a little gardening. I realized there are so many other things I’m passionate about and I wanted to share those with you. But for now, I have a killer roasted banana biscotti recipe for you, just in time for your Sunday morning coffee.

Roasted Banana Biscotti

Roasted Banana Biscotti

roasted bananas

Perfectly Roasted Bananas

Biscotti Log After Baking

Biscotti Log after baking, ready to be sliced.

Sliced Biscotti

Sliced Biscotti eagerly awaiting a ganache jacuzzi.

Roasted Banana Biscotti

Adapted from Homemade Decadence by Joy Wilson

  • 1 medium banana
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon plus 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (divided)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 a stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons sugar (divided)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon molasses

For the Chocolate Ganache

  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place whole, unpeeled banana on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Roast the banana for 15-20 minutes, or until the peel turns completely black. Allow the banana to cool until it can be easily handled. Once the banana is cooled, cut the stem off and and then split it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the fruit and mash. Set aside.
  2. Lower the heat to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Add flour, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, baking powder, and salt to a medium. bowl. Whisk thoroughly.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 3/4 cup of the sugar until fluffy. Beat in the roasted banana and one of the eggs.  Beat in the vanilla and molasses. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and beat on low, until a semi-stiff dough is formed.
  4. Shape the dough into a log that reaches the length of the pan and is about 2 inches wide. In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg with with 1 tablespoon of water. Mix the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon together. Brush the egg wash onto the biscotti log and dust with the cinnamon sugar.
  5. Bake in the middle rack for 25 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet and bake for an additional 25 minutes, or until the biscotti is golden brown and firm to the touch.
  6. Remove the pan from the oven, but keep it on if you prefer crisp biscotti. Allow the biscotti to cool until it can be handled easily. Using a serrated knife, cut the log into 1/2 inch wide slices. Optional, but totally worth it: Put the biscotti cut side down onto a cookie sheet and bake for 7 more minutes for a firmer bite.
  7. Bring a medium pot filled with 2 inches of water to a simmer. Put chocolate and butter into a heat proof bowl and place over the simmering water. Stir the chocolate as it melts. Once it is completely melted, whisk in heavy cream. Dip about half of the biscotti into the chocolate ganache.  Shake off excess chocolate and place onto a piece of parchment. Continue until all of the biscotti has been dipped. Allow the biscotti to cool completely at room temperature.
  8. Serve alongside a cup of coffee and good company. It will last for one week if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Roasted Banana Biscotti

Sweet & Spicy Salmon

salmon finished 3

There’s something about New Year’s Resolutions that I really can’t stand. I think it’s all of the generalizations, like, “This year I’m going to get healthy”, “I’m going to be better with money”, or, “I’m going to start volunteering”. Hearing stuff like that makes me cringe. Let’s skip all of those broad generalizations this year and set more specific goals. Instead of, “I’m going to lose weight”, let’s say, “I’m going to exercise 3 times a week”. Rather than, “I’m going to manage my finances better”, set a goal like, “I’m going to establish a realistic budget and stick with it”. If you want to be more active in your community this year, resolve to find a cause you’re passionate about and volunteer at least twice a month. When you set up concrete goals for yourself, you’re more likely to be successful. And please, don’t be so hard on yourselves. Life is all about living. So go ahead and eat that doughnut, and treat yourself to those new boots you’ve been eyeing, you deserve it!

One of my resolutions is to eat fish at least twice a week. I actually love fish and would eat it everyday if I could, but it’s so gosh darn expensive. After doing a little research about the many health benefits fish provides, it’s easy to recognize that the long-term benefits far outweigh the expense. Eating just 2 servings of fish a week will lower your risk of developing heart disease and increase brain function. So essentially, you’re getting healthier by eating delicious fish and seafood. Now that’s a New Year’s Resolution I can stick with!


 

salmon ingredients 2

Sweet and Spicy Salmon

Adapted from Baker By Nature

Serves 4-6

  • 2 pounds of skinless salmon cut into filets
  • 2 limes, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons of Sriracha
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • green onions, sliced
  • 2 large avocados
  • 2 cups of instant brown rice
  • 24 oz of shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp of soy sauce
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp of grated ginger
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Spray liberally with non-stick spray.
  2. Place salmon filets on the baking sheet and season liberally with salt and pepper. Grate a bit of lime zest over each filet.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, sriracha, and brown sugar.
  4. Coat each filet with the sauce. Place the salmon in the oven and bake for 16 minutes.
  5. While the salmon is baking, prepare the brown rice according to the package.
  6. Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan. Once the oil is hot, add the shiitake mushrooms and saute until they soften slightly. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for a minute. Add the soy sauce and stir. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the salmon is ready.
  7. Pit and dice the avocados. Mix the diced avocados and sliced green onions. Season the avocado mixture with salt and pepper.
  8. After 16 minutes, remove the salmon from the oven and check for doneness. You’ll know the fish is done when it easily flakes apart with a fork. To serve, spoon a bed of brown rice onto each plate. Place about a half a cup serving of the shiitake alongside the rice. Carefully place the filets on top of the rice and then top the salmon with the avocado mixture.

salmon finished 3 psd

 

Chocolate Espresso Snowballs

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I used to be an avid baker. I would bake something sweet at least once a week because I refuse to buy grocery store cookies and cakes because they all taste horrible. Once I started working at a bakery in March, I stopped baking. Almost everything we make at work is better than anything I could ever do, so it became a lot easier for me to just pick up some cupcakes for a party rather than bake my own. There are also those days when I can’t stand to even look at another cookie once I walk out of those doors. Now that the holidays are upon us, I feel like my love of baking has come back in full force. The bakery I work at creates really beautiful baked goods, but it makes me miss the homemade taste and look of my own kitchen. I spend all day tossing cupcakes that are slightly smooshed or cookies that are a little brown. But when I come home and bake, I embrace those imperfections rather than criticizing them. It’s those imperfections that let my family know I made these goodies with my own two hands rather than just taking the easy way out. Even though I love small businesses and family-owned bakeries, I strongly encourage everyone to bake something yourself this Christmas. Your family will love it so much more than anything from a store, I promise!

ces finished green

But anywho, enough about me. These cookies are the bomb. They’re a riff on traditional Italian Wedding Cookies. I took a boring and predictable cookie and punched it up with strong coffee and chocolate flavors. The chocolate isn’t overly sweet and the espresso isn’t too bitter. You’re left with a well balanced and crunchy cookie that’s perfect with coffee and milk. Since they are a harder cookie, they’ll travel well no matter where you go this holiday season. They also freeze beautifully. I made one dozen to enjoy now and set aside 2 dozen to  freeze for Christmas. To freeze, just place the cooled cookies (do not powder them!) into a large ziploc and remove all of the air. Then store them in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to eat, take the bag out of the freezer and pour some confectioners sugar inside. Zip it back up and toss the cookies in the sugar as they’re defrosting. It couldn’t be any easier!


ces ingredients 2

Chocolate Espresso Snowballs

Adapted from Food & Wine

Makes about 3 Dozen

  • 2 sticks softened unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Kahlua
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • confectioners sugar for coating

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.Combine the butter, sugar, Kahlua, cocoa powder, and espresso powder in a large bowl. Mix the ingredients until light and fluffy using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer. Add the flour in 1/4 cup increments until the flour is thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans. Cover and refrigerate the dough for half an hour.

2. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets using the butter wrappers from earlier. Gently roll the dough into tablespoon-sized balls and place them about 2 inches apart from each other on a cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until the tops are dry and slightly firm to the touch and the bottoms have begun to brown. Allow the cookies to cool for 10 minutes on the cookie sheet. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Once the cookies are cool, coat with powdered sugar. Enjoy with family and friends over a cup of coffee or a glass of milk.

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Winter Citrus and Beet Salad

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Many people associate bright citrus flavors with warm summer days spent poolside with a grapefruit margarita in hand. If you’re one of those people, you may be surprised to learn that December is actually peak citrus season. There is no better time than now to stock up on oranges, grapefruits, tangelos, and tangerines. I always try to incorporate many of these summery flavors into my winter cooking as a way to lift my mood during brutal Chicago winters.

wcs finished 1

I created this salad when I was in college and had an overabundance of Cuties lying around. I’m obsessed with those little easy-to-peel oranges and could eat 4 in one sitting. I knew that there had to be another way to eat them other than just by themselves, so I started throwing them in salads. It was then that I learned that bacon and oranges do not mix. I created this salad with what I had on hand at the time and it’s quickly evolved into my absolute favorite salad. I love the contrast of the bitter greens with the sweet juicy oranges and salty spongy feta. The red onions give a much needed spicy bite and walnuts add texture and savoriness. I know that beets aren’t for everyone, but they’re really incredible in this salad. Roasting brings out their inherent sweetness while homemade honey balsamic dressing cuts through their earthy flavor. I think this salad could turn a beet-hater into a beet-lover. I’m also really loving this salad right now because I overindulged way too much over the weekend. I celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday and my birthday on Saturday. So a healthy and delicious meal is exactly what I need!


wcs ingredients 2Winter Citrus and Beet Salad

Makes 4 side salads or 2 dinner salads.

  • 3 beets, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 16 oz of spring mix
  • thinly sliced red onion
  • walnuts or pecans
  • 4 cuties (fresh mandarin oranges), or 1 grapefruit, peeled and segmented
  • 1/2 cup feta

Honey Balsamic Dressing

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 3 tablespoons of aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • a pinch of sugar
  • salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with foil. Place chopped beets on the pan and coat with canola oil. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for 30-35 minutes, or until they’re fork tender. Place beets in a bowl and allow to cool.

2. While the beets are roasting, assemble the dressing. Place all ingredients except for the salt and pepper into a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake well. Grab a piece of lettuce and dip into the dressing to test the seasoning. Season accordingly and test again. Set the dressing aside to allow all of the flavors to meld together.

3. Place a handful of spring mix on each plate. Peel one cutie and place all segments around the outside in a circular pattern. You’ll want to use 1 entire cutie for each side salad or 2 cuties for each dinner salad. Then place a mound of beets in the center. Top it all off with a few slices of red onion followed up by a sprinkling of nuts and feta. Drizzle the honey balsamic on top and dig in!

beets finished

How could anyone not love these earthy little gems?!

wcs finished 2

Jan’s Caramelized Shallot and Chive Mashed Potatoes

scmp finished 4

The latest installment in my Thanksgiving sides feature is a dish that you can, and should, eat all year. Caramelized Shallot and Chive Mashed Potatoes will change the way you look at the humble potato forever. I learned this recipe from Jan, my former boss and mentor. Not only did she teach me so many recipes that I now cook almost weekly, she also taught me a tremendous amount about being a good businesswoman, friend, and future wife. I had the privilege to work with Jan for a little less than a year, and I wish that I could have spent more time under her wing. I miss seeing her smile and hearing her big laugh fill up our little office everyday. She was recently diagnosed with lung cancer so I’m dedicating this post to her.

scmp mixing

Jan always said that in order to change people’s minds, you have to slowly introduce subtle changes over time. These potatoes are a great example of that. The mashed potato base is a very simple recipe. There’s no sour cream or tangy buttermilk. Just cream, butter, and salt. Then you add chives which really isn’t that uncommon. After the chives, you mix in ribbons of sweet, roasty toasty shallots. This may make people’s heads turn, but because the mashed potato base and additional chives are so familiar, people won’t write off the dish all together. I think that after one bite, even your pickiest eaters will change their mind. Gravy compliments all of the flavors so beautifully. It really would be a shame for your amazingly rich gravy to sit on top of ho-hum potatoes. Jan also taught me that shallots are very forgiving. So don’t worry about overcooking them, because it’s virtually impossible. The onion’s milder cousin can really take the heat. This recipe is also very customizable. I went a little conservative with the amount of chives and shallots, but you can tailor it your liking. Max said that each bite was 80% perfect mashed potato and 20% sweet onion goodness. That right there makes me want to get another bowl.

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scmp ingredients

Jan’s Caramelized Shallot and Chive Mashed Potatoes

Serves 10

Ingredients

  • 3 shallots, sliced
  • 6 tablespoons of room-temperature butter, divided
  • 2 pounds russet potatoes (about 7 large potatoes), peeled
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half, heated
  • 1/4 cup chives, finely chopped
  • salt, to taste

1. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan. Add sliced shallots and saute on medium low until they soften, about 5 minutes. Once they begin to brown, cook on low for 15 minutes, or until they’re fully caramelized. Stir often.

2. While the shallots are cooking, boil the potatoes in a pot of salted water until they are fork tender. When the potatoes are done, drain them thoroughly. No one wants soggy potatoes.

3. Transfer the potatoes to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat the potatoes on medium-low until they are coarsely mashed. Then, slowly pour the warmed cream while the mixer is on low. Then add 4 tablespoons of butter. Once the potatoes are mashed to your liking, turn off the mixer and fold in  the chives by hand. Then pour the shallots into the potatoes, brown butter and all. Fold the shallots into the potatoes. Be sure to fully incorporate them. Taste the potatoes and season accordingly. scmp finished 5

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