Thin Mints Ice Cream Cake

IMG_0420

Every year I buy several boxes of Thin Mints from the Girl Scouts and stash them in the freezer.  After the kids go to bed my husband and I will eat a few, ice-cold, out of the freezer.  By some miracle, I still had enough left to make this easy “cake”.  If you have any Thin Mints left in your freezer, this is a winner – no baking involved.

  • I roll of Thin Mints (the box comes with two rolls.  That other one will be really lonely in the box all by itself, so you’d better go ahead and eat it while you’re making this.)
  • 1 pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream, softened to a spreadable consistency.

Line a 6 inch cake pan or ramekin with parchment paper.  Just go ahead and press the paper into the bottom and up the sides, it will be crinkly and uneven in places, no biggie.  Place the cookies in a freezer bag and crush them to a crumbly powder.  Sprinkle half the crumbs into the bottom of the pan.  Drop the softened ice cream on top of the crumbs and use a spatula to spread it evenly.  Sprinkle the remaining crumbs on top.  Pop the whole thing into the freezer for at least 1-2 hours.  Before serving, use the parchment to lift the cake out of the pan.  Peel it away from the cake and place it on a serving plate.  Cut it into wedges with a knife dipped in warm water.

 

Posted in Dessert, Holidays and Special Occasions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies with Melted Butter Icing

IMG_0457

Ten years ago Valentine’s Day was about roses, dinner out, maybe even a new pair of unmentionables. Today, Valentine’s day is about boxes of perforated Power Rangers cards with Tootsie Pops taped to them and forcing my 5 year old to write his own name 28 times like a Drill Sergeant. G-E-O-R-G-E! Again! G-E-O-R-G-E! Again! Just get it done! Oh, and it’s also about frosted sugar cookies. 

IMG_0458

For the dough:

  • 4 sticks salted butter, softened
  • 3 C. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 t. orange or lemon extract
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon (about 1 T. finely grated zest)
  • 4 3/4 C. flour

For the frosting:

  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • food coloring- I used Chefmaster food coloring gel in Christmas Red to get the violent pink color.
  • 2 1/2 C. powdered sugar
  • 1/4 t. vanilla
  • water as needed for thinning

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes on med-high speed. Add the eggs and extracts, salt, and zest and beat until well combined. Add the flour a scoop at a time, mixing just until combined, then stopping the mixer while you add the next scoop. Mix just until combined, repeat. Over mixing creates a hard cookie, so for a tender bite, go easy. Wrap the dough and chill for an hour or two.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut with cookie cutters. Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for about ten minutes, or until just beginning to brown on the edges. These cookies will not rise or change shape if they go into the oven cold. You can place them fairly close together without risking spreading. Cool cookies on a wire rack before frosting.

While the cookies cool, make the icing. Melt the butter in the microwave and stir in the food coloring. Whisk in the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Really beat the heck out of it to get it nice and smooth. If it gets too thick, add water a teaspoon at a time. Really only add a teaspoon- otherwise you will get into this good vs. evil battle with the bowl: too thin! add more powdered sugar! too thick, water! Crap, now it’s too thin again! Trust me and add just a teaspoon at a time. This frosting will “crust” fairly quickly, so frost and adhere sprinkles right away. The nice thing about a crusting frosting is it makes the cookies much easier to package- you don’t have to wrap them individually. Although that would look adorbs. In little cellophane bags with heart stickers…or maybe with a Power Ranger sticker:)

IMG_0456  IMG_0454

 

 

 

Posted in Dessert, Holidays and Special Occasions, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chocolate and Love, Love and Chocolate

Any of these delectable recipes will make your Valentine swoon with euphoria.  

img_0271

Chocolate Sables 

 

img_0411

Special Dark Chocolate Pudding 

 

img_2216

Double Chocolate Bundt Cake

 

img_1594

Chocolate Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream 

 

024

Milk Chocolate Souffle 

 

img_0221

Frozen Chocolate Mousse 

 

img_0262

Tiramisu Cupcakes

016

Black Bottomed Cupcakes

 

img_3039

Mocha Pots de Creme

 

Posted in Dessert, Holidays and Special Occasions, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spring Green Asparagus Soup

There is almost nothing I like to make more than soup.  There is almost nothing I like to eat more than a smooth, pureed soup.  Maybe chocolate.  Make it vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.  I like Better Than Bullion concentrated bases that come in a jar.

  • 2 T. butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 small leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced
  • 2 yellow potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 C. chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 large bunch of asparagus, about 1.5 pounds, diced
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 C. buttermilk
  • olive oil, optional

In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onion, leeks, potatoes, and celery.  Cook and stir for about ten minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften.  Add the garlic and cook for one minute.  Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Allow the veggies to boil for about 5 minutes.  Add the asparagus and cook until tender, about 6-8 minutes.

Puree with an immersion blender, until very smooth.  Stir in buttermilk.  Taste for seasoning and add salt if needed.  Serve with a little drizzle of olive oil on top.

Posted in Healthier Options, Quick Dinners, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Toasted Coconut Energy Bars

IMG_0434

If you regularly buy Larabars, Lunabars, or other energy bar, you should really try these!  They are easy and quick to make, and if you buy ingredients in bulk, you will save some money in the process.  At my local grocery store, I buy Larabars for about $1.25 a bar. This recipe makes 12 bars, and I estimate I spent about 7 dollars on the ingredients. Another terrific thing about these is that they are made completely without refined sugar, they are gluten-free, and naturally vegan, but they are decadently sweet and delicious. You need to look for a product called Earth Balance Coconut Spread. I found it at New Seasons. Do not substitute solidified coconut oil – it doesn’t have the buttery flavor we’re going for. You could try regular earth balance, but I think the coconut spread has amazing flavor.

  • 2 C. raw, unsalted cashews
  • 1 C. unsweetened, shredded coconut, I used the big flakes from Bob’s Red Mill
  • 1 scant C. pitted dates, loosely packed
  • 1 pinch of Kosher salt
  • 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 C. Earth Balance coconut spread

Heat the oven to 300 degrees.  Spread the cashews and coconut on a parchment lined baking sheet and toast for about 5 minutes, or until they just start to turn golden brown. Set aside about 1/4 C. of the toasted coconut.  Pulse the nuts, the rest of the coconut, dates, salt, and cinnamon in the food processor until crumbled.  Add the coconut spread and process until a dough-like ball begins to form. Line an 8 x 8 pan with parchment paper.  Press the mixture into the pan evenly. Sprinkle the reserved coconut flakes on top and press in lightly to adhere.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least two hours.  Cut into 12 bars.  Wrap the bars in parchment or wax paper individually so that they don’t stick together. Store in the fridge.

IMG_0438

 

 

Posted in Gluten Free, Healthier Options, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Festive Aperol Spritz

IMG_0418

Aperol, where have you been all my life? You delicious, bitter-in-a-good-way, orangey, golden-pink, teensy-bit-sweet, apertivo! If you like Manhattans, or other not-too-sweet and slightly bitter flavors, you will really enjoy Aperol.  It’s an Italian apertivo that’s made with bitter orange, and has the most incredible cantaloupe color, perfect for festive holiday mixing.  Makes 2

Combine the gin, Aperol, and bitters in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until the outside of the shaker frosts over, about 15 seconds.  Strain into a cocktail glass and pour the prosecco on top.  Garnish with an orange peel twist.

 

Posted in Drinks and Cocktails, Holidays and Special Occasions, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Almond Apricot Amaretti

IMG_1195

Hands down, my family’s favorite holiday cookie! Amaretti are traditional Italian cookies made with almonds, sugar, and egg whites.  If you buy amaretti they are usually quite crispy and crunchy.  These amaretti are soft and chewy on the inside and a bit crisp around the edges.  In Sicily these would have a candied cherry in the middle.  The dried apricots give them a really nice fruity flavor and chewy texture.  Adapted from Eat The Love.   They are also naturally gluten free!

  • 2 1/2 C. almond meal or almond flour (the ingredients should list only almonds)
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 chopped dried apricots (mine were soft and chewy, not too dry)
  • More sugar and powdered sugar for rolling

Heat the oven to 300 degrees.  In the food processor, pulse the almond meal and sugars until combined.  Add the extracts and egg whites and pulse until a dough forms.  Pulse in the apricots until combined.  The dough will be sticky- that’s ok.  Roll the dough into 1 inch balls.  It will stick to your hands, just go with it.  Roll the balls first in white sugar, then in powdered sugar.  Place the dough balls about an inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for about 24 minutes.  Let them rest for a minute before removing them to a wire rack to cool.  Keep these wrapped at room temperature, but they also freeze very well.  You will want to make a second batch of these, they are sooo good.

Posted in Dessert, Gluten Free, Holidays and Special Occasions, Italian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments