Ice Cream Sandwich Cookies

Mint Chocolate Chip? Rocky Road? Blackberry Cobbler? Coffee? Cookies n’ Creme? I almost spent longer in the ice cream isle debating flavors than I did at home making these delightful desserts. Which ice cream will you choose? Get caught in the dilemma by making some today.

Ice Cream Sandwich Cookies

  • 1.5 sticks butter, soft
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1.5 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • about a 1/2 gallon of ice cream

Preparation:

1. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

2. Add the egg and vanilla extract and blend until fully incorporated. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

3. Sift flour and cocoa powder together in a separate bowl. Add half of the flour and mix for two minutes. Scrape down the bowl and add the rest of the dry ingredients, mixing until dough forms.

4. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before rolling out on a floured surface (add some cocoa powder to the flour to maintain the color of the cookies). I used a fluted biscuit cutter for the cookies, but you could also cut the dough in rectangles like traditional ice cream sandwich cookies. After shaping the cookies, refrigerate them while you preheat the oven to 350.

 5. Bake cookies for about 8 minutes. Note: They will not spread much at all so feel free to crowd the baking tray more than you might with another type of cookie.

6. Cool cookies on wire rack for at least 30 minutes before loading them up with slightly defrosted ice cream. If the first cookie you sandwich crumbles, cracks and falls apart, you can try freezing the baked cookies until they have hardened. If you’ve got sprinkles, nows the time.

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Banana Pudding Dessert

This classic Southern dessert is a summertime favorite in my family; I remember hanging around the kitchen until the pudding had cooled, afraid to miss the opportunity to lay out the Nilla Wafers and slop goo onto them. I am, frankly, always surprised at the taste of this dessert, considering the appearance (it won’t be winning any beauty pageants). Looks aside, this tastes awesome and is an incredible solution to the problem of wasting overripe bananas.

I chose to make my own vanilla pudding (to avoid another trip to HEB) and used homemade sugar cookies for the wafers, but store bought instant pudding and Nilla Wafers produce an incredibly agreeable result as well.

Banana Pudding Dessert

  • a dozen baked Fool Proof Rolled Sugar Cookies, or 1 box Nilla Wafers
  • 1 recipe homemade vanilla pudding (see below) or 1 box instant vanilla pudding
  • 6 unripe bananas, or more, if you like bananas

Preparation:

1. Layer sugar cookies/wafers on the bottom of a large bowl or individual bowls. Cover cookie/wafer with layer of pudding followed by a layer of bananas. Repeat until you’re all out of goodies. Refrigerate at least 3 hours (I recommend overnight) before serving.

Homemade Vanilla Pudding
  • 1.5 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2.5 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 Tbs corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbs pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbs butter

Pudding Preparation:

1. Place cream and 2 Tbs of the sugar in bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Mix until stiff peaks form and transfer into a large bowl. Keep cool while preparing the rest of the pudding.

2. Manually whisk the rest of the sugar, corn starch, salt, egg yolks, and 1/2 a cup of the whole milk in the bottom of a saucepan. Once completely incorporated (make sure there’s no lumps of cornstarch stuck to the pan) add the rest of the milk and begin heating on the stove, stirring constantly.

3. Once the mixture begins to bubble and thicken, remove from heat but continue to whisk. If you’re doing this without the aid of an electric mixer, be prepared for a few solid minutes of stirring while this pile of goo cools. It’s super important to be constantly stirring here to avoid forming lumps. If you have a stand mixer, you can use the same whisk attachment and bowl as before, no need to clean it with soap and water.

4. Cut up dem nanas. Once the custard has cooled, use a spatula or wooden spoon to combine it with the whipped cream.

5. Layer pudding with bananas and wafers. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.

Fool Proof Rolled Sugar Cookie

These are the best, simplest rolled sugar cookies I have ever made. The dough comes together quickly, rolls out like a red carpet, and can be reworked and refrigerated multiple times. Perfect for the holidays, or any days.

Wish you had an awesome cookie cutter for any occasion? Check out this post to learn how to make your own!

Fool Proof Rolled Sugar Cookies

  • 3/4 cup butter, soft
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Preparation:

1. Sift flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

2. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. (Need some clarifications about this step? Go here > Creaming Method for a tutorial.)

3.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and making sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl often.

4. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes before adding half of the dry ingredients.  Beat on high for 30 seconds, scrape the sides of the bowl, and beat on high for another 30 seconds. Add the rest of the flour and repeat until dough is consistent.

5. To prepare dough for cookie cutters, tightly wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, then roll out on well floured surface.

6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 6-8 minutes (or longer, depending on the thickness/size). Cool completely before icing.

How to Make a Lattice Top Pie Crust

Alright folks, let’s lattice some pastry! If your dough becomes unworkable (breaks, becomes oily, sticky) during this process, simply refrigerate it for at least fifteen minutes. Chilled dough is best/easiest to work with.

1. Roll out half of the pie dough to make the bottom half of pie crust. Trim excess and use your fingers to crimp edges of crust around the edge of the pan.

2. Next roll out the rest of the dough to desired thickness and cut into strips. The thickness and number of each strip that you cut really depends on what you’re going for with your pie. Thicker strips will allow less filling to show through the top in your final product and using more strips will tighten the lattice, producing the same effect. I cut ten, half-inch strips.

3. Lay about five strips of dough (or however many you think looks best) vertically pie.

4. Carefully pull alternating strips to the top of the pie and let them hang out there. Lay down first strip of horizontal dough at the top corner of your pie. Unfold every other vertical strip back to its original position. Next, repeat with the rest of the dough, making sure to ALTERNATE along your way. And voila!

5. To finish the edges, you could simply trim the edges of the strips to fit inside the pie. For this strawberry rhubarb pie I wanted a heartier lattice so I anchored it to the base crust with a few of the extra strips placed around the circumference, which I pressed together and to the sides of the pan with a heavy finger.

Also, remember to foil those delicate edges during the first twenty minutes of baking! No sense in making charcoal of the beautiful lattice crust you’ve created.

Speedy Quiche

With this from-scratch recipe, there’s no reason not to be making quiche on the regular. Only about an hour of your time and you’ve got the most versatile savory custard in the business. I’ve included a basic quiche filling recipe that, interestingly, calls for mayonnaise. And as for what you should add in to spice up your quiche, I would recommend looking up one that favors your tastes (epicurious is a good place to start) or just working with with any produce or breakfast meats that you’re looking to use up in your refrigerator.

Basic Quiche Filling

  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (I know its gross to some, but the oil in mayonnaise helps create a light, fluffy texture to the eggs)
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 1 recipe Fool Proof Savory Pie Crust 

 

Filling preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk eggs, half and half, mayonnaise and flour. Salt and pepper according to taste.

2. Sautee any vegetables for the filling in a saucepan with oil and cook any meat that you wish to add fully before filling the bottom of the quiche crust. I used vegetarian sausage, green and red bell pepper and onion.

And then I topped it with some cubed swiss cheese.

3. Pour filling into quiche crust. Bake for 40 minutes to an hour or until the center is no longer liquid. Let quiche cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Now, relax & enjoy!

So quick, so delicious.

Peanut Butter and Nutella Cookies

A subtle twist on a classic cookie. Absolutely. This is how I used up a container of (off brand) Nutella when I got sick of eating it by the spoonful.

Peanut Butter and Nutella Cookies (recipe adapted from this post on the sweetest kitchen)

  • 1 and 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, soft
  • 3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup Nutella or chocolate hazelnut spread

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, baking soda and salt together in a bowl. Set a side.

2. Place butter and sugar in the bottom of a mixing bowl with the paddle attachment. Cream the sugar into the butter until entirely incorporated.

3. Add the egg and vanilla extract to the electric mixer. Mix on high speed to combine until the mixture lightens and looks “whipped.” Add the peanut butter and mix to combine.

4. Slowly add the dry ingredients, and mix until incorporated, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

5. Drizzle Nutella over the peanut butter cookie dough and fold it in with a spatula. Refrigerate the dough for at least fifteen minutes before forming balls with your hands. I used a fork to press my cookies down, a traditional method used with peanut butter cookies. You can also just use your palm, but it is important to flatten the batter onto the sheet to ensure even cooking.

6. Arrange cookies on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet (at least a 1/2 inch apart) and bake for 15-20 minutes or until they are slightly browned on the tops. If you prefer a harder cookie, let the cookies sit out, unwrapped for 24 hours. Otherwise, eat asap.

Pretzel Rolls

I was flipping through my journal and had an occasion to remember my love for soft pretzels when I came across a small reminder:

Deep.

So I searched through some pretzel bread recipes, realized they were basically just bagels  boiled in baking soda, and couldn’t believe I hadn’t made these sooner. So easy. And it only takes about hour and a half. Mine were ready by breakfast time!

Here’s what you need:

Pretzel Rolls

  • 1 Tbs dry active yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 and 3/4 cup bread flour
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp salt (plus more for sprinkling)
  • 1 Tbs vegetable or olive oil
  • Nonstick spray
  • 1/3 cup baking soda

Preparation:

1.  Place 1 Tbs yeast in the bottom of mixing bowl fitted with the dough hook attachment. Add 1 tsp of the total amount of sugar to the yeast. Cover with warm water and watch it activate (it’s aliiiiive) over the next 5 or so minutes.

2. In another bowl, combine the flour, salt, and remaining sugar. Once the yeast has activated, add the dry ingredients to the mixer and mix on low speed until combined and the dough forms a ball around the hook. If the dough is too dry and starts to streak in the bowl, add a little more lukewarm water, 1 Tbs at a time, until the dough begins to pull away form the bowl. If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle in some more flour.

3. Once the dough forms a ball around the hook, increase to medium speed and let mix for about 8 minutes. The dough should be elastic and smooth.

4. Add the tablespoon of oil to the bottom of a bowl. Once dough is ready, turn it in the bowl to coat with oil and set aside in a warm dry place for about 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

5. Punch down the dough and turn it out on a floured surface. Knead for about a minute, until the dough springs back when poked. Divide the dough into equal sections (depending on how large or small you wish your rolls to be). I ended up with seven small balls of dough, and that seemed to work just fine. Roll the cut dough into a ball and place on a greased baking sheet to rise for another fifteen to twenty minutes. At this point, if you wish, you can cut a small “X” on the tops of the dough.

6. While you’re waiting for your dough to rise, fill a large saucepan with water, add the 1/3 of a cup of baking soda and bring it to a boil. I would advise against dumping the baking soda into already boiling water, as mine exploded all over the stove upon contact (not pictured). The water should be frothy. Also, preheat your oven to 425 for the pretzel baking. Oh yeah.

7. Using a slotted spoon, drop one of the balls into the boiling water for 1 minute, flipping it halfway through to boil both sides. Place on the greased baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with the rest of the dough balls.

8. Once all the dough has been boiled and salted, bake them at 425 for 10 to 12 minutes. Serve immediately.

Breakfast is served.

Rosemary & Blueberry Muffins

I discovered some rosemary growing in an outdoor decorative vase while craving blueberry muffins and, well, there you have it, Rosemary & Blueberry Muffins began. I knew that I appreciated the piney taste of rosemary in biscuits, and was oh so pleased to discover that this unique taste also compliments sugary batters. They’re a break from the conventional, sure, but just imagine how oven avant-garde you’re going to look…

I added lemon zest and rosemary to this recipe I found on the WWWeb. I was going for a crumbly muffin, so I chose a recipe which uses butter as the fat rather than oil (which tends to produce a lighter textured, cake-like muffin). I also chose this recipe because I was extremely curious of how easy it seemed to just melt all the wet ingredients together in a microwave rather than using the creaming method (where you cream the butter and sugar together then add eggs).  I wasn’t sure at all how these muffins would turn out after baking, so I decided to add some streusel topping because it simply never tastes bad and could prevent the tops from hardening when baked.

Rosemary & Blueberry Muffins

  • 3.5 cups flour
  • 2 Tbs baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 and 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 5 oz of butter
  • 3 cups blueberries (frozen are A-O.K.)
  • the zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tbs fresh rosemary, de-stemmed and finely chopped

Streusel Topping (optional, but recommended)

  • 3/4 cup
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 Tbs water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter (softened)

Preparation:

1. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Toss blueberries in the flour to coat.

2. De-stem and chop rosemary until you have 1 Tbs. Zest the lemon and place both in a microwave safe bowl.

3. Add the sugar, milk, sour cream, and butter to the rosemary and lemon zest and microwave in 30 second intervals, until the butter is completely melted and the liquid appears oily.

4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour melted concoction into the middle. Stir a few times and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula, but make sure to leave some streaks of flour in the batter. Don’t overmix!

5. Mix all the ingredients of the streusel topping together in a bowl (do it). I used a fork at first to combine the ingredients, but later used my hands to melt the butter a bit because I’m impatient. You’ll know when to stop when all the ingredients combine.

6. If you’re using paper liners, get ’em in place and fill to the rim of the paper. If you don’t have any, coat the tins in butter and lightly dust them with flour before filling with batter. Either way, top with streusel and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick is inserted in the middle and comes out clean.

Chocolate Truffles

Until now, I have avoided chocolate confections. But seriously these are so easy it would be mean not to make them for your Valentine or your coworkers or yourself for next Monday’s episode of The Bachelor. All you need is a microwave (and if you don’t have one check your office break room or 7-11, there’s always a microwave to use somewhere).

Chocolate Truffles (Credit Alton Brown’s crazyface)

  • 10 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 Tbs light corn syrup
  • 1/2  cup Hershey’s cocoa powder, or powdered sugar, or both
  • 8 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
  • Optional syrup to flavor chocolate (like raspberry or peppermint, or irish cream)
  • Optional toppings like nuts or white chocolate, sprinkles who cares

Preparation

1. Place 10 oz of chocolate chips and the butter into a microwave safe bowl and nuke for 30 seconds, stir, and repeat once more.

2. Heat the cream and corn syrup in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and pour it over just melted chocolate. Let this sit for 5 minutes without stirring, then, when you can’t take it any longer, stir until the cream and the chocolate combine.

3. Pour the chocolate onto a flat dish like a plate or baking pan. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

4.Just before taking the chocolate out of the fridge, heat the remaining chocolate chips in the microwave in thirty second increments until it has melted. Stir in syrups, if you have any. Arrange the powdered sugar or cocoa powder on plates near the melted chocolate. Save a space to set the truffles once they have been coated and dusted.

I put some superfine espresso grounds in the cocoa powder on the left to make some mocha truffles. I highly recommend this.

5. Take the cooled chocolate out of the fridge and use a melon baller or circular teaspoon measure (really just whatever you’ve got lying around) to scoop the chocolate into bite-sized balls. Don’t worry if it’s not perfectly round, its chocolate so it won’t matter.

6. Drop the chocolate ball into the melted chocolate, and push it around with a spoon to coat it completely. Toss the chocolate in the powdered topping of your choice and set it aside to cool.

Eat them all right away. Refrigerate them and eat them later. Put them in fancy-schmancy box. Share them with someone you love.

Buttermilk Biscuits & Maybe Gravy

Obviously, there’s nothing better than a warm buttermilk biscuit. But it’s Le Sunday, so why not eat like a Queen/King and heap on the gravy? You might not feel like getting off the couch for bit, but you certainly won’t regret it.

Buttermilk Biscuits

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbs + 1 tsp baking powder
  • 6 Tbs butter
  • 1/4 tsp salt (optional)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, or 2 tsp lemon juice in 3/4 cup of whole milk
Preparation:
1. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and combine.
2. Cut chilled butter into smaller sections, and disperse throughout the flour.The goal here is to break up the butter into smaller chunks within the flour before it melts in our hands. One method involves rubbing a handful of the mixture vigorously between your palms until it sifts out, but feel out what works for you. If you’re still not getting the hang of it, check out the beginner basics on the biscuit method.
Just make sure to stop when the mixture begins to look like this:
3.  Add the buttermilk and use your hands or a wooden spoon to slowly work the liquid into the dough.
In order to make sure the biscuits stay crumbly when baked, do not over mix the dough. It should look like it’s way too dry and crumbling apart. Resist the urge to add more liquid.
4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pile the dough onto a floured surface and press it with your palms until it is about 3/4 of an inch in thickness.Use a cookie cutter or another kitchen device (like a jar lid) to form the biscuits and place them “shoulder to shoulder” on a cookie sheet (they will use each other rise -neat huh?).
5. Bake biscuits for 9 minutes or until tops and sides are deliciously golden.
Serving suggestions, as if any are needed, might include more butter, jam, honey, Nutella, leftover fried chicken. Or maybe, make some gravy.
Sausage Gravy
  • About a pound of uncooked sausage. I thought I cheaped by buying Jimmy Dean, but this guy would disagree.
  • About 1 Tbs black pepper
  • Salt (to taste)
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 1.5 cups to 2 cups milk or cream (depending on how thick you like your gravy)
  • Tiny pinch of nutmeg (optional)

Preparation:

1. Cook the sausage and spices of your choosing over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the meat it is no longer pink.

2. Reduce to low heat, corral the cooked meat on one side of the pan and tilt it slightly so that the oil goes to the opposite side. Add flour to exposed oil, one tablespoon at a time, and whisk them together until the liquid is thicker and your strokes expose the skillet.

3. Stir sausage with the flour and oil and add 1.5 cups of milk or cream. Let the gravy simmer on low heat until it thickens. If it thickens too much, add some milk and stir. If it is too thin, add some flour and stir.

4. Slop over biscuits (it won’t be pretty) and fill up for the start of the week.