Coconut Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Will Make Your Life Better, Guaranteed.

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Sometimes you long for something for no good reason other than it would seriously up the awesome quotient of your life. Others don’t necessarily share your rampant desire, and they don’t have to, because you are a person on a mission. A person who needs to own an ice cream maker.

A person who seriously needs to get someone else to purchase said ice cream maker because part of the fun of the chase is getting other people to participate unwillingly in this dream. Plus, who has so many dollars that they can just throw at one more piece of kitchen equipment that only does one thing? Not this person. Nope. That needs to be something that you mention casually to every person you know every single time you see one in a store or a catalog or on an awesome food blog and say just how much better your life would be with the possibility of homemade ice cream just around the corner every second of the day.

Well, ladies and gentlemen…dreams do come true.

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Dan bought me the ice cream maker attachment to my KitchenAid mixer (another fantasy kitchen item acquired through extremely subtle…whining) for our anniversary last week, and we set sail on maiden voyage of homemade ice cream by fixing up some coconut chocolate chip ice cream. Wait…let’s capitalize that up and give it the gravity it deserves. Coconut Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. Made by yours truly.

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A little research yielded up The Hungry Mouse‘s amazing 3-Ingredient Coconut Ice Cream, which is creamy and delicious, and vegan, of all things! Coconut milk, sugar, and vanilla are all you need to get started here.

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Now, coconut milk straight out of the can is pretty disgusting. You just have to get past that part and blend, blend, blend.

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Then you pour it into your awesome new ice cream maker contraption and…just stand there staring. At least that’s what I did. For about 20 minutes straight. Because making ice cream is just slow enough to be both simultaneously extremely boring and immensely engrossing. It’s science! It’s colloids and emulsification and suspensions and chocolate chips.

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And coconut. I added a half cup of semisweet chocolate chips and a half cup of sweetened shredded coconut to the recipe near the end of the mixing process. I should have put more chocolate chips in there. You could always use more chocolate chips. Also, toasting up that coconut is another great idea that I didn’t have the patience for at the time. You should do that.

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True to form, I also made a salad while the mixing was occurring. I used my overly-educated nursing school brain and figured green salad for lunch cancels out ice cream fatty goodness for dessert, right? So much science up in this place, it’s scary, isn’t it?

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And you guys, it was everything I hoped it would be. Awesomeness quotient went up by at least 20 points, by conservative estimates. It was sweet and nutty and creamy and freaking delicious. We couldn’t even wait for it to freeze all the way through, because it was singing its siren song from the freezer, and we were antsy. (And letting it go overnight was just not an option, am I right? That’s just ridiculous.) Also, letting it finish freezing, like you’re supposed to? Makes things even better the next day. And the day after that. And every other day of your life ever.

I think that our summer is going to be full of plenty more frozen treats, and we may collectively gain a bazillion pounds. What do we try next? Italian ice? Gelato? A fancy fruit sorbet of some kind? I seriously need some guidance because my brain may explode from all the possibilities. Lend me your guidance, ice cream fans of the internet. Our summer depends on you!

Cake and Salad and Excuses

Remember when I used to blog regularly? Ha!

Well, just because I haven’t been documenting my creative adventures on here doesn’t mean that they haven’t been occurring. They’ve just been…rather spaced out amongst general stress, work, and getting ready for nursing school which will be happening super soon.

I am excited.

Here is some evidence that I haven’t just been sitting at my computer watching cat videos (even though it feels that way sometimes):

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My favorite project as of late. The Red, White, and Blue cake. This came about when my dad requested a “red, white, and blue” cake for the Fourth of July without any other specifications. I think it looks like the Captain America shield here. Which is awesome.

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Imagine slicing open a plain chocolate-frosted cake to see that swirly goodness. I was such a dork, sitting there and trying to keep my face neutral while I waited for my family to tell me how cool that cake was. As usual, my expectations of how fantastic others will think I am fell a bit short.

But it tasted really good.

After all that, my parents sent me home with a giant bag of tomatoes from their garden that I had no idea how to use. I noticed that I had a bunch of cracked wheat that I had originally bought for some tabouleh that didn’t materialize and some mozzarella waiting for a pizza that I wasn’t going to make anything soon. Ideas began churning.

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Balsamic vinaigrette got shaken up. (I totally had to Google vinaigrette. I’m owning it. That is a hard word to spell.)

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Tomatoes, mozzarella, and baby carrots (I don’t know why, either. They were in the fridge, staring at me.) all diced up.

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Cracked wheat, basil, and dressing added and tossed up.

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It’s definitely a strange amalgam of things, but it was quite refreshing and delicious. I think I’m going to dub it — Caprese Tabouleh. It’s confused about its origins. It doesn’t know why it has carrots in it. But it’s just the thing to use up some tomatoes and cheese that you’d otherwise just shove into your mouth indiscrimately.

Caprese Tabouleh…with carrots for some reason

Ingredients:
4 medium ripe tomatoes, diced
slightly over a cup of dried cracked wheat
1/2 cup diced baby carrots
4 oz. mozzarella cheese, diced
1 1/2 tsp. dried basil

Dressing:
adapted from 200 Super Salads, Vinaigrette

1 tsp. sugar
pinch of powdered mustard
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp. olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Directions:
Prepare cracked wheat according to package instructions. (I just pour boiling water to cover it and let it sit for 15-20 minutes to absorb all the liquid. Then strain it if necessary and let it cool before adding it to the other ingredients, unless you’re alright with soft cheese in your salad.  Sometimes you’re impatient, like me.)

Combine dressing ingredients together in a mason jar and shake it all up. Leave it in the fridge while you prepare everything else to get it good and cold.

Combine tomatoes, mozzarella, carrots, and cracked wheat (once it’s cool) in a large bowl. Add basil and dressing and toss it up!

If it’s not cold enough, chill it in the refrigerator for a little bit so that everything can meld together and get cold and crisp and wonderful. Makes about 4 servings.

Enjoy!

—–

Hopefully, even with the oncoming onslaught of work and school, I won’t drop out of sight again. I’ve got a great new knitting project on the horizon. (Hint: it involves argyle and socks. That’s more like just telling you what it is than just a hint, I know.) I’m excited. I can’t help it.

Name That Salad

I like making salads that don’t involve lettuce. I enjoy lettuce as much as the next person, but it gets boring at times, plus for some reason it tends to throw up its hands in desperation in my refrigerator and give up the good fight way too early.

It’s better to just stick to the good stuff and not bother with the filler, I say. This delicious salad starts off with prepping some delicious quinoa and black beans. No green crunchy leaves, just protein-y goodness.

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Quinoa layer? Check!

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Black bean layer? Check!

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Sliced up tomatoes and cucumbers from my and my parents’ gardens?

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Check!

Let’s pretend that I took pictures of cutting up some bell pepper, too. And that I actually had some red onion to dice up, even though I didn’t (but it’s super duper delish with the onions included, I must say).

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Crunchy, cold vegetable layer? Check!

Now, I wanted to be boring and just call this Black Bean Quinoa Shaker Salad (because it’s all in little layers in the cups and it’s fun to shake it all up with the dressing, and I’m still really boring even parenthetically). Dan liked calling it Jinger’s Protein-Packed Shaker Salad instead. What do we think?

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The Yet-to-Be-Named Protein-Packed Black Bean Quinoa Shaker Salad that Is Quite Tasty Indeed

Ingredients:
2 cups dry quinoa, prepared according to package instructions
2 cups dry black beans, prepared according to package instructions (or canned, if you’re not hardcore like me)
1 tomato, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 medium red onion, diced

Directions:
Prepare quinoa and black beans according to package instructions, and chop up your veggies while they’re cooking (which takes forever with those dry black beans).

Layer your quinoa evenly into 8 medium containers (I love those big freezer jars with the neon green lids!), and then follow up with a layer of black beans. I tend to mix up all my veggies and then throw them all in at the end.

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Refrigerate everything long enough to get it good and cold. Add a big dollop of your favorite salad dressing in there (I like ranch or catalina with this combination.) and then shake it up! Eat it all up and be super happy.

Cabbage Overflow

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I made the infinitely intelligent decision to harvest the ginormous cabbage from our garden right before it started to rain. This resulted in a fairly comic tableau of me running into the house, starting to become covered in mud, holding onto the giant stem, raising what must have been like a ten pound cabbage over my head like some sort of crazy umbrella.  (Seriously, look at that thing!  It’s the same height as a decorative beer stein.  It’s the size of a bowling ball!)

That totally seems like something that would happen in a children’s picture book — all of the characters running around with different vaguely-umbrella-shaped objects over their heads during a rainstorm…cabbages, large birds, side tables…I’ll stop now.  I’ve been spending too much time in children’s book land.

Now, what does one do with so much cabbage? After washing it out and discovering what seemed to be an inordinate amount of tiny slugs, of course.

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Make an insane amount of coleslaw! Is coleslaw one word or two? Let’s stick with one, just to be consistent.

Coleslaw That People Who Don’t Even Like Cabbage Will Eat
adapted from 200 Super Salads, Coleslaw

Ingredients:
1 head of green cabbage
1/2 head of purple cabbage
4 carrots
1 red onion

Dressing:
1 1/2 cups of mayonnaise
2 tbsp. white vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
pinch of cayenne pepper
squirt of spicy brown mustard
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Finely shred the cabbages, carrots, and red onion in your food processor. Do it better than I did. Try to make less of a mess, if possible.

Make the dressing by beating all dressing ingredients together in a separate bowl and seasoning to taste. Toss the cabbage mixture with the dressing and let stand for at least 30 minutes before serving so that the flavors can do a little mingling. And before you ask, the name totally rings true. Dan is not a cabbage fan, and he had himself a big helping and is even suggesting more of it for dinner tonight. We may have a cabbage convert.

Now, what to do with the outer leaves? In the past, I’ve made more traditional cabbage rolls to mixed reviews. I wanted to try to make something a little more crunchy and summery to bring for lunches at work.

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Lettuce wraps are a thing, right? In this house, we’re on the cabbage wrap train.

Curried Tuna Cabbage Wraps
adapted from Cooking for Two, Curried Tuna Stuffed Tomatoes

Ingredients:
2 cans (5 oz.) tuna fish
2 celery stalks, chopped
6 tbsp. mayonnaise
4 tbsp. dried cranberries
3 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. chopped dried rosemary
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
tiny squirt of spicy brown mustard
4 cabbage leaves (break off the large vein at the base of the leaf to make them easier to roll)

Directions:
Mix all the the tuna salad ingredients together well, seasoning to taste, if necessary. The original recipe then has you stuff this delicious stuff into some tomatoes, but spooning some into cabbage leaves, rolling them up, and shoving them into your mouth is also fantastic.

There we go, two ways to use up all that cabbage that I am probably the only person inundated with right now. I wish I had this problem with something slightly less good for me. Like I needed to hurry up and find several ways to use up a whole bunch of chocolate-covered strawberries and rare steak before it went bad. Hmm…our anniversary is coming up soon.  Hint, hint.

Fudge Brownies (and the Karate Kid)

Sometimes you just need to make something over and over.  You need those recipes that are always in your back pocket, waiting to brighten your day. Those recipes that you know you’ll always have the ingredients for, that bring style and class to what can seem like an exceedingly boring pantry.

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Bring in the brownies.

These are my newest modification of everybody likes sandwiches‘s Moosewood Fudge Brownies, which I have probably made eleventy-billion times. They are probably Dan’s favorite thing that I make, and it’s all because of their delicious fudgy texture. They are always rich and sinful, and can be doctored up a number of different ways, depending on what you have in your kitchen.

I love the ritual of baking something that you’ve made several times before. You collect your supplies around you. You go through the steps and do them the same way every time. You enjoy the familiarity and know that you’ll be pleased with the result.  My strong attachment to this kind of feeling probably explains why I’ve watched the tea ceremony scene from Karate Kid, part II on repeat so many times.

Join me.

That’s better.

I’ve made them so many times that I don’t really think about it anymore. The recipe does start the best way that a recipe can start, though, with melting together chocolate and butter.

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Not so attractive yet.

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There we go. This is the point where I have to remind myself that licking the spoon is not yet an option because unsweetened baking chocolate + unsalted butter = taste you can’t get out of your mouth for far too long.

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Everything just gets mixed into the same pot you melted the chocolate in. Only brown sugar in this recipe, for that richness and depth.

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Eggs. I have nothing poetic to say.

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Flour. Again, nothing fancy, just necessary.

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Let’s pretend I took a picture of the chocolate chips that I added before mixing it up. And the walnuts, too.

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The batter is still a little warm when you start mixing in all this goodness, so my chocolate chips are already starting to melt a little. A happy mistake.

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As I’ve said before, eating a salad while you’ve got delicious baked goods in the oven is a guilt-eraser. Also, how did I live a proper life before I got a salad spinner? It makes me happy.

Now, after dutifully eating our salad, we’re allowed to dig in on this gooey, melty, not-properly-left-to-cool-after-coming-out-of-the-oven treat.

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This is my favorite thing about these brownies. They never quite get fully set, especially when you start throwing extra things in there, but that just turns it into a big, rich, ridiculous mess.

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Go and get some baking chocolate and do this for yourself.  Only, you should learn from my mistake and buy some vanilla ice cream to get in on that action.

Moosewood Fudge Brownies
adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, via everybody likes sandwiches

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly coat an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.

In a pot large enough to hold all of the batter, melt the butter and chocolate together on low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat. Add the brown sugar and vanilla and beat by hand or with an electric mixer. Add the eggs and beat well. Stir in the flour and mix until the batter is thoroughly blended and smooth. Gently fold in chocolate chips and walnuts.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes, until the brownies are just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan and are still fudgy in the center. If you prefer more cake-like brownies, bake an additional 5 minutes.

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Avoid Baking Shame with Tabouleh Salad

I bake a lot of cookies. Some have said that it might possibly be too many cookies, but the complaints dry up when the cookies are presented for all to enjoy. In an effort to not eat as many of these cookies (because I can’t be bothered to stop baking them, of course), I’m trying to implement a new system.

While waiting for whatever delicious baked good’s dough that I am making to either rise or chill or rest or cool or etc…I am going to make something healthy to eat for lunch. Chop up some vegetables amidst the flour and chocolate chips. Make something to look forward to for the rest of the day so that I don’t wander down to the kitchen unnecessarily to just “check” on something and grab a cookie on my way up.

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While making pepparkakor the other morning, there were a lot of cooling and chilling steps that needed time-filling. Cue up some tabouleh salad.

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This is adapted from 200 Super Salads, this great little recipe book that Dan got me for Christmas this year, which may seem like an odd gift, but it’s awesome. Lettuce is boring. This book takes you beyond lettuce.

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I didn’t make too many modifications, but I feel like the resulting salad is much lighter and brighter and more summery. The biggest elements are doubling all the good stuff so that I can get enough salad for a good long time, plus taking out the cheese so that Dan can enjoy it, too. I had some of this over some spinach yesterday for lunch, and it was delicious.

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Tabouleh Salad
adapted from 200 Super Salads, Chickpea & Herb Salad

Ingredients:
1 cup bulghur wheat
6 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. lemon juice
3/4 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
2 13 oz. cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
8 oz. grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 medium red onion, finely diced
1 cucumber
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
Put the bulghur wheat in a heatproof bowl, and pour over enough boiling water to cover. Set aside and allow water to absorb completely while you chop up all the other ingredients. Dump all vegetables in a large bowl. Add olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper on top. Add bulghur wheat after moderately cooled, and mix together. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour or two, making sure everything’s good and cold. I like it on a bed of spinach or with wheat crackers and hummus. Yum!

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Eat it all up. It’ll definitely make you feel better about the cookies and milk you plan to demolish later that day.