Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Photo courtesy of Nicholas Draney Photography

Growing up, whenever we went somewhere for ice cream, I always went for the mint chocolate chip. Something about the fresh minty cream and the sweet, crunchy chocolate pieces made for a perfect treat on a hot summer day.

I received an ice cream attachment for my beloved KitchenAid mixer back in July as a birthday gift, but I had yet to try this childhood favorite flavor of mine. I have to take advantage of the mild winters here in Southern California, so I decided to make a batch despite the fact that it's January - hardly a time most people are thinking about eating ice cream! (Although I suspect true ice cream lovers will eat it any time of year, even when temperatures drop below zero.)

I found this recipe on the blog Proceed with Caution after spotting this other recipe for Nutella ice cream (which I would also like to make, although I am afraid to be left alone with the remainder of the Nutella once the recipe is made...highly addictive stuff.) I liked this recipe in particular because she gives suggesting for working with different amounts of creams and milks to bring the ice cream that is not quite so high in fat, but yet still has a rich and creamy consistency, rather than an icy one.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
adapted from Proceed with Caution,
originally adapted from Doc Wilson

- 1 egg
- 1/2 can of fat-free sweetened condensed milk
- 6 Tablespoons white sugar
- 4 ounces heavy whipping cream
- 16 ounces fat free half and half
- 4 ounces skim milk (or 1%, or 2%, whatever you have)
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 3 - 4 drops green food coloring (I only used 3 to keep it from being too green)
- 2 tsp vodka OR mint schnapps OR "The Good Doctor" (optional, I didn't have any so I omitted)
- 6 ounces semisweet or dark chocolate (I used Lindt 70%), finely chopped - keep in freezer until using

In a large mixing bowl whisk together egg, sweetened condensed milk, and sugar until thoroughly mixed. Add heavy whipping cream, half and half, skim milk, salt, vodka or schnapps, mint extract, and green food coloring. Chill the mix in the refrigerator for about four hours which allows the mix to "age" before freezing according to the directions with your ice cream freezer. Add the chocolate pieces in the last 5 minutes of freezing. This recipe makes the perfect amount to fit in a 1.5 quart ice cream maker. Makes between 4 and 5 cups of ice cream.


Cranberry Orange Muffins

I guess I went a little crazy with buying cranberries when they went on sale for .39 cents a bag after the holidays...I was starting to run out of room in my freezer after a recent trip to the grocery store and decided I needed to use some of them up. I had saved this recipe in my Google Reader in December, and came across it this weekend as I was looking for cranberry-related goodness.

I really love the way cranberry and orange go together, and what better way to start your day off but with some tasty muffins? Despite the fact that this recipe only uses whole wheat flour, they were still quite light and fluffy, and make for a (somewhat) healthy breakfast.

Cranberry Orange Muffins
From The Way the Cookie Crumbles,
adapted from King Arthur Flour

Makes 12 muffins

1½ cups whole wheat flour
¾ cup quick-cooking rolled oats
¼ cup buttermilk powder or nonfat dry milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon orange zest (finely grated orange peel)
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
2 large eggs
⅔ cup (4.67 ounces) sugar
¾ cup milk
⅓ cup melted butter or vegetable oil

Glaze (I omitted)
2 tablespoons orange juice
3 tablespoons sugar

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick vegetable cooking spray.

2. Whisk flour, oats, milk powder, baking powder, and orange zest in a large mixing bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk egg until broken up. Add sugar and whisk until combined. Whisk in butter (or oil) and milk.

3. Add cranberries and nuts, if using, to dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add milk mixture and fold with rubber spatula until batter comes together. Do not overmix.

4. Divide batter among 12 muffin cups. Bake until toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes, then transfer them to a rack.

5. If using glaze: In a small saucepan or the microwave, stir together the glaze ingredients. Bring just to a boil, to dissolve the sugar. Dip the tops of the warm muffins into the glaze.


Joy of Cooking Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have wanted to own a copy of Joy of Cooking for the longest time, and this past Christmas I finally received it as a gift. There are so many hints and tips in here, and hopefully they will help me to have many more successes in the kitchen. It is a classic cookbook everyone should have a copy of.

I have become obsessed with chocolate chip cookie recipes. I have set out to try as many as I can. So far, I have blogged about the New York Times Chocolate Chip cookies, which I loved, and my husband enjoyed...but nowhere near as much as the Best Big, Fat Chewy Chocolate Chip cookies from All Recipes.com, aka "Devil Cookies", as he calls them. They are incredibly rich and soft, and my husband's absolute favorite.

But of course, once I have seemingly found the "perfect" recipe for chocolate chip cookies, I decide that there must be an even better one out there. But so far, I have yet to find one. This one from the Joy of Cooking was pretty good, but definitely below my expectations. They are super buttery, soft and chewy, but also fell quite flat. So far it is Devil Cookies 2, other cookies zero.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Joy of Cooking

Preheat the oven to 375. Grease or line 2 cookie sheets.

Whisk together:
1 cup plus 2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda

Beat in a large bowl until well-blended:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

Add and beat until well combined:
1 large egg
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Stir in the flour mixture until well-blended and smooth. Stir in 1 cup chocolate chips (I added an extra 1/2 cup).

Drop the dough by heaping teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until the cookies are just slightly colored on top and the edges are brown, about 8 - 10 minutes. Let stand briefly, then remove to a rack to cool.

Makes about 36 cookies.

Spicy Crockpot Chickpeas

I recently tried hummus, and fell in love. I typically hate beans, and I refuse to call chickpeas by their other name, garbanzo beans (even though that was what the cans I bought at Trader Joes called them.) I have fooled myself into thinking they are not, in fact, a bean, but a pea instead. Whatever you call them, they are delicious, as well as high in protein, fiber and iron. They are a great replacement for red meat in your diet, which is great for someone like myself who does not eat any red meat.

This crockpot recipe is simple to throw together, and can cook in your crockpot while you are at work during the day, providing a great option for a weeknight meal. It is also great with naan or pita bread as an appetizer or snack.

Spicy Crockpot Chickpeas

20 minutes prep, 1/2 day cook time

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 Tbsp minced fresh gingerroot
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (reduce if too spicy for your tastes)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 cups coarsely chopped tomatoes (canned or fresh)
2 (19 oz) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained*

*Be sure to thoroughly rinse your chickpeas before cooking with them, as the canning process alters their taste.

In a skillet over medium heat, cook onions, stirring, just until they begin to brown; then add garlic and all spices and cook, stirring for 1 minute.

Add vinegar and tomatoes and bring to a boil, then place mixture in your slow cooker; add chickpeas and combine well.

Cover and cook on Low for 6 - 8 hours, or on High for 3 - 4 hours, or until the mixture is hot and bubbling.

Serve with hot naan or pita bread (I ate this over brown rice and it was delicious! A dollop of yogurt on the side would also be excellent.)