Christmas in July

Christmas definitely came in July for me this year!  A few weeks ago I found out about this ice cream container that keeps your homemade ice cream from getting freezer-burned.  It sounds silly, but I really haven’t used my ice cream maker in a long time because I haven’t had a good storage container.  Regular plastic storage containers just don’t do it.

Last night, after picking up my Tovolo container, I made a batch of ice cream!  I adapted it from a vegan ice cream cookbook I got a few years ago, and it was only half-vegan, so I can’t say it’s the best ice cream I’ve had or made, but I was so excited to make ice cream that I made do with the ingredients I had on hand.  You could easily convert this back to vegan by using something other than honey for sweetener, and soymilk instead of cow’s milk.  Likewise, you could swap out the coconut milk for cream and the honey for granulated sugar and have a more traditional ice cream recipe.

Ingredients:

1 can full-fat coconut milk

1/2 cup honey

1 Tbsp vanilla

1.25 cups 1% milk

A good handful of chocolate chips

Directions:

Whisk all ingredients except the chocolate chips together in a bowl, and chill for at least 2 hours before making ice cream according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.  Mine took about 20 minutes to make ice cream the consistency of soft serve.  Throw in the chocolate chips when the ice cream is just about done.  When the chocolate chips are evenly dispersed, the ice cream is done 🙂  To firm it up, transfer from the ice cream maker to the storage container and pop into the freezer.  If you blend it any longer than that, the ice cream canister starts to heat up, and it’s counter productive.

It’s a good idea to keep your ice cream maker in the freezer all the time, because even though it only takes 20 minutes to make the actual ice cream, the canister usually takes 24 hours to chill enough to be able to make the ice cream.  Also, your storage container should be well-chilled before you transfer your ice cream into it, so you should also keep that ready in the freezer.  I didn’t, and my ice cream melted a little when I put it in the freezer to chill.

I wasn’t in love with this ice cream, but it did kinda sorta work to fill my ice cream craving, and it was super easy.  Next time I would probably use granulated sugar instead of honey, because it came out with a strong honey taste.  It wasn’t bad, just not what I was expecting.  This definitely isn’t the best ice cream on its own, but chocolate chip cookies on the side, ice cream sandwich style, will hopefully jazz it up.  I have a batch of cookie dough in my fridge… I’ll have to report back on how the ice cream cookies go!

*Tovolo and/or Williams-Sonoma are not compensating me in any way, I was just really excited about my new ice cream storage container, and wanted to share my excitement with you guys 🙂

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Long Ziti Pasta Bake

 Hey everyone!  This post is a long time coming, and I’m excited to share a great recipe with you guys.

Last week was pretty rainy for a few days, which I love because it gives me the chance to cook hearty yummy carb-y meals.  Not that I don’t love summer food, and I did rediscover the hot dog last week, but I love cooking big pasta dinners.

Sunday night I made meatballs and long ziti, and Monday I needed a way to make the leftovers yummy.  This recipe was extra fun to make because my mom and I got to plan for creative leftovers and shop together.

I’d never made long ziti before, and it’s just like the name implies – ziti noodles that they haven’t cut down to regulation size.  I didn’t love it because it was too thick to slurp up like spaghetti and too long not to end up cutting, but it was a crowd favorite in my house, so it’s worth giving a try.

What I ended up making with the long ziti was kind of lasagna-y, kind of eggplant parm-y, but definitely carb-y and good!  It’s super versatile because you can mix up the ingredients and use whatever pasta and meat you like, or even make it vegetarian.  Instead of eggplant you could try zucchini… the possibilities are almost endless!

I haven’t posted my go-to meatball recipe yet, but if you need help with the meatball step, here is a link to the chicken meatballs I made a while back.  The process is the same for meatballs with beef.  If you have leftover meatballs and pasta, this is a great recipe, but it’s just as easy to make from scratch.

Ingredients:

  • Pasta – long ziti or otherwise
  • 1.5 pounds meat – I like 93% lean ground beef
  • Milk – enough for the meatballs
  • Eggs – 1 per pound of meat
  • Breadcrumbs for the meatballs
  • 1 large eggplant
  • Cheese – Parmesan or otherwise
  • 1 large can (28 oz.) diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 jar tomato sauce
  • Olive oil
  • Seasoning to taste – I used a scant amount of fennel to make the meat taste more sausage-y.
  • Diced onion and garlic.

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  • Slice the eggplant into quarter to half-inch thick slices.  Brush with olive oil and grill over medium heat.  If you don’t have a grill, you could fry them in a saute pan.
  • Place oiled-side down on the grill and lightly salt the opposite side.
  • While the eggplant is cooking prepare the meat mixture.  Use a large wooden spoon or your hands to mix meat, one egg, and enough bread crumbs and milk to make the mixture thoroughly moist.  Try not to over-mix.
  • Add about a half-teaspoon of fennel.
  • Instead of forming it into balls, rip into quarter-sized crumbles.
  • Heat olive oil a large saute pan over medium heat and brown onion and garlic, stirring to be careful that the garlic doesn’t burn.
  • Heat water for the ziti.
  • Evenly distribute crumbles and allow to brown. 
  • When all the meat has been browned, add the tomatoes and the sauce to the pan.  Add some cheese as well.
  • Cook the pasta for less time than as directed on the package because it will continue cooking in the oven, and drain. {I cooked my ziti for only 4 minutes and the package said to cook it for 6}
  • Spoon some sauce from the saute pan into a lasagna-casserole to keep the noodles from sticking to the bottom.
  • Layer noodles first (mine look so squidgy in the picture because they’re leftovers, but freshly cooked noodles will look so much nicer).
  • Follow with eggplant, and then meat crumbles and more pasta.
  • Add a layer of sauce, then a layer of pasta, and top with meat and sauce.
  • Sprinkle cheese over the top.
  • Bake until cheese is melted.
  • Scoop out a portion and enjoy 🙂

And that’s it.  Let me know what you think about the long ziti if you try it!!
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French Toast Waffles

In my house we go through a lot of bread.  Not so much sandwich bread, but rather the bread that’s fresh baked at the grocery store or at a local bakery and trucked in hot.  Never ever can I pass up a hot loaf of bread.  Most of the time, it gets eaten at dinner, but sometimes the bread doesn’t actually go well with what’s for dinner, and it gets passed over.  Which means there’s also a lot of French Toast.  And I like French Toast, but sometimes it can be a little blah.  Given the choice, I would probably go for pancakes any day over French Toast, but pancakes don’t use up old bread like French Toast does.  Thankfully, here is a recipe to solve the French Toast Blues; French Toast Waffles!  Having a different texture than regular French Toast makes such a difference!

Ingredients:

As much bread as you want to turn into French Toast.  I find day-old bread works best.

Eggs

Milk

Cinnamon

Vanilla

Butter or oil, for the waffle iron.

With this recipe you’re going to have to judge how much liquid to bread you need.  If you find you don’t have enough, add more milk and or eggs, and if you have too much liquid, you can always add more bread, or cook the remainder like scrambled eggs.

Plug in your waffle iron so it can heat up.  Grease it as well.

Scramble your eggs and milk in a shallow dish.  I like to use a glass Pyrex-type baking dish.  The mixture should be thinner than actual scrambled eggs, but well combined.  Add a dash or two each of cinnamon and vanilla. 

Slice your bread if it’s not pre-sliced already. 

Dip each piece in the batter and flip over to cover the other side.

Transfer each battered piece of bread to the waffle iron and cook until done.  My waffle iron has a light that goes off when it’s finished cooking, but yours might be different.  It probably won’t take more than a few minutes for each waffle, although I wasn’t timing it.

When the waffles are done, they taste like French Toast, but they have the perfect nooks and crannies of waffles. 

To keep waffles warm after cooking, keep them on a cooling rack in a cookie sheet in a 200 degree oven.  The cooling rack should keep them from getting soggy.

Feel free to slather your waffles generously with butter and maple syrup, top with powdered sugar, or eat plain.  Once you start eating them, they’re hard to put down!!

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Montreal Eats, A Farewell

I’m all graduated and done with school!  I officially have a Master’s Degree!  It’s all a little bit (a lot bit exciting)!  While I do have some proverbial pots on the stove, I don’t know exactly where life is going to take me in the near (or distant) future.  And for the moment, I’m okay with that.  After four trips back and forth, all of my belongings have been moved out of my apartment and are back in New Jersey with me.  Moving is not a small task, and I am still stunned by how much stuff I managed to accumulate in one year in one tiny apartment.  I also learned that you can fit a full-sized mattress in the back of almost any car if you have enough determination.

I didn’t think you’d want to read about me being mushy and nostalgic though, or about how Montreal came to be the city that was my home away from home.  I did, however, come to love Montreal, if not always the weather, and it will always be special to me.  Because of that, I thought I’d take this time to show you all pictures of some of the wonderful food I’ve eaten in Montreal proper or back and forth from the city on moving trips over the past few months.  Montreal has some phenomenal food, and you’d also be surprised by what you can find off the NY State Thruway {I wish I’d taken a picture of the quarts of Organic strawberries they were selling at a rest stop – delicious!}.  I’m also throwing in one final shot of my balcony and the view towards Mont Royal, because it’s gorgeous.  Take a seat, let your mouth water, and enjoy 🙂

 

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