Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cherry Sorbet

Cherries are probably one of my favorite things about summer.  I know there's a lot of things I could say that about, things like ice cream, peaches, barbecues, lobster rolls, and the list could go on and on.  Cherries, however, will always, always, always be at the top of the list.  They're one of those fruits that I will only eat fresh, and summer is the only time to get them.  Whenever I see a good deal on cherries at the supermarket, I tend to stock up because I know they just won't last.  They're the kind of fruit that I will empty the entire four pound bag into a bowl, and just eat by myself.  I'll pick at them while I watch television; whenever I walk by my kitchen I'll take a moment to eat a few; I pack them in my bag to bring to work.  For me, it's never truly a great summer until I've eaten my weight in cherries.

I've never really liked cooking with cherries because I always feel so bad about doing it.  I'll explain.  First of all, cherries are one of the more expensive fruits that you can buy, even in the summer when they're readily available, so things like cherry pie can get pricey rather quick.  Second, and probably more important, cherries are just so good eaten fresh, right off the stem.  I feel terrible eating them in any other way, because I feel like I'm not enjoying them in their best state!  Regardless, every summer I gather all my strength and convince myself to make at least one thing with cherries, because after all, things with cherries in them are still pretty darn tasty.  I mean, I don't think I'll ever turn down a slice of cherry pie or a scoop of warm cherry clafoutis...so this weekend, I did the unthinkable.  I bought two giant bags of cherries, and made not one, but TWO delicious things with them.  

Friday, July 18, 2014

Trail Mix Cookies

How many of you guys are going camping this summer? Or hiking?  Or both? Or going out and exploring nature for hours and hours?  If you have these kinds of plans, you'll need to refuel at some point, and I have the perfect camping/hiking/nature-exploring snack for you.  These trail mix cookies are IT.  They're the perfect portable and cute little snack that you can munch on while doing all kinds of nature-type things, I think.  I'm not a camping kind of gal, but if I did go camping, or hiking, or nature exploring, these are the cookies I would bring. However, since that type of activity is not happening any time soon, I will settle for making a batch of these cookies and eating them while sitting on a blanket in my backyard, or maybe, if I want to get really crazy, while sitting on a blanket in the park.  Eating homemade cookies in the grass in the middle of the suburbs is my way of bonding with nature, and that's ok.

While I may not be the first to sign up for a hiking trip, I have eaten my fair share of trail mix and granola, and I think it's an understatement to say that I like both.  I mean, I haven't met anyone who doesn't like trail mix, because what's not to like about it?  There's M&M's, and nuts, and dried fruit, and all kinds of delicious things mixed up inside a single package.  Trail mix is something I can easily pick at without realizing how much I've actually eaten, so it's a dangerous snack.  Before I even realize it, the whole bag is gone, and I'm left alone, with a stomach ache, and without any trail mix.  In some instances, I'll only like a handful of the things mixed into the trail mix, so I'll pick at what I like and leave what I don't like behind.  Trail mix is just too addicting. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sweet Corn Ice Cream with Blueberry Sauce

Today on the blog we have a recipe for sweet corn ice cream that's been topped off with a delicious blueberry sauce...wait. Are you experiencing slight feelings of déjà vu?  Does this sound a little familiar?  Didn't I only just publish a recipe containing both blueberry and corn flavorings.  If you read last week's post, you'll know that I was a sick soul with a need for the comfort that only homemade pancakes could provide, and that the pancakes that provided that much needed comfort came in the form of blueberry and cornmeal goodness.  Just writing about those pancakes makes me crave them again, because they were really that good.  It seems like I must have really liked that flavor combination because less than a week after those pancakes were made, I was back in the kitchen making something with the same flavor profile. 

My pancakes from last weekend may have been the catalyst that drove me to make this ice cream, but this is one of those recipes that I've been meaning to make for a long time and just never got around to actually making. I first learned about sweet corn ice cream last summer and I thought it was such a brilliant idea.  It seemed like the perfect ice cream for celebrating the best of summer, and I just had to make it...except that I never did.  I really wanted to, but I would always somehow either forget to buy corn or some other recipe that I just had to make crossed my path.  Before I knew it, summer was over and delicious sweet corn was nonexistent.  I told myself last year that I could not let next summer pass by without churning up a batch of sweet corn ice cream, and here it is!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cornmeal and Blueberry Pancakes

The blog and all my social media channels have been unusually quiet as of late.  I mean, I'm not the biggest user of social media (something I hope to improve on!), but I typically have an Instagram-worthy photo of something delicious to share on a fairly regular basis, at the least.  Or, I'll share something scrumptious and delightful that I've found somewhere in the land of the Internet on Facebook.  Or, I'll have something posted by Tuesday, so that my typical two posts per week are nicely spaced out.  None of that is happening this week.  I wish I could say it was because I've been a busy little bee working on secret projects or off on a super top secret foodie adventure (I wish), but the truth is that my single, lonely recipe post of the week and social absence is the result of something far less exciting.  I was just too darn sick to cook anything this past weekend.

Although I guess that's not totally true, because I'm here talking about pancakes (or I will be in a moment).  I woke up in a slight funk on Friday morning and by Friday night I just felt baaadd (great Fourth of July, right?), and on Saturday morning I woke up feeling even worse.  I usually like to play tough and skip out on going to the doctor, but thankfully my mom got angry at me and made me go (thank you, mama!).  I got a bunch of prescriptions that didn't really make me feel any better, but they did a great job at making feel really really sleepy, so I ended up sleeping through what I had been hoping would be a productive, food-centered Saturday (not like I would have been able to actually make anything had I not gotten drowsy  medication, but whatever).  I still felt pretty sick and pretty sleepy on Sunday, but I forced myself out of bed to make something to share on the blog.  I just had to make at least one thing, and while I originally had plans for more elaborate things to prepare, life got in the way.  I was sick and the oven was off-limits because our air conditioning stopped working over the weekend (I'm happy to report that it works now!), so I needed something comforting and really quick to make that was either no-bake or stovetop-only.  Pancakes seemed like the most obvious solution. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies

The Fourth of July is tomorrow, and I'm actually not as excited as I should be.  Mother Nature has once again decided to turn things upside down, and we're in the middle of a tropical storm...?  This means that my plans to picnic and barbecue and grill hot dogs and toast marshmallows for s'mores has turned into an indoor potluck lunch with friends.  I'm sure it'll still be a fun time, and I'm making chocolate chip cookies, which always make my day better.  Regardless it's a bit of a bummer knowing that my favorite Fourth of July activities probably aren't going to be happening.  At least there will be cookies and potentially clear skies at night, so fireworks are still a possibility!  I'll be making the best of my rainy day Fourth of July (except that I'm switching my patriotism at 4 for the Colombia-Brazil game, because that's historic and too important to be missed), but that's not to say that I won't be crossing my fingers for nice weather until it's picnic time!

Hopefully where you live you'll be having a much nicer Fourth of July.  I hope your day is full of sunshine, zero humidity, and a cool breeze.  It's not too much to ask for, right?  It's just a little perfect barbecue weather.  I'm sure that you all have your Fourth of July barbecue menus planned out by now (or at least I hope you do), but like Mother Nature, I'm going to have to turn things upside down with some sugar cookies.  These soft sugar cookies with cream cheese frosting absolutely must become a late, last minute addition to your menu, because they're EASY to make, CUTE to look at, and DELICIOUS to eat.  Easy cute and delicious are the defining qualities of any last minute dessert addition, so these cookies are obviously a must.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Strawberry Pie

Happy July, everyone!  The Fourth is the day after tomorrow, and I can't believe it's already here.  It seems like just yesterday that  New York was covered in snow and super cold temperatures, and yet here we are in the middle of summer.  I'm not complaining though!  New York had a rough winter, and I was so sick of the cold and snow by the time it finally ended.  The lovely weather we've been having recently has definitely helped me to forget about the chilly winter season, but I know that before long, the hot and humid days of summer will arrive and I'll be ready for the arrival of cooler weather.  Until that happens though, let's celebrate summer!  

The Fourth of July is one of my favorite parts of summer, and what's more American than celebrating the Fourth with some pie?  I love a good pie, and experimenting with pie is one of my favorite adventures to have in my kitchen.  Every time I set out to make a pie I learn something new that I try to write down to remember for next time.  Making a good pie has been an extensive learning process, filled with some really bad pies and some really stellar pies.  Like all good things though, good pies take practice, and I'm willing to keep working on mine until I get them perfect!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Mixed Berries

It's almost here, it's almost here! It's almost the Fourth of July! With this holiday now less than a week away, it's time to whip up some delicious and summer treats in our favorite shades of red, white, and blue.  For me, red and blue mean BERRIES.  Artificially dyed treats like cupcakes and cookies dyed in unnatural shades of colors really weird me out (pastel is ok, but super bright and fluorescent is just not ok), so strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are my way of getting my red and blue fix.  Actually, the ultimate red, white, and blue dessert for me would be a simple bowl of strawberries and blueberries topped off with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.  It's the easiest thing in the world to make and it screams summer.  

I thought that I would take a cue from my ultimate easy summer dessert as a starting point for a simple and refined approach to a Fourth of July dessert.  Berries with fresh whipped cream has turned into panna cotta with macerated berries; it sounds fancy, but it's still a really easy dessert!  In Italian, panna cotta means "cooked cream," and that's literally what this dessert is. Panna cotta is traditionally a mixture of heavy cream, milk, sugar, and gelatin that gets cooked together, poured into a mold or cup, and then left in the fridge to chill until solidified. It's a very straightforward dish, and takes very little effort and time to prepare.  Essentially, if you can prepare a batch of Jell-O, you should have no problem making panna cotta.
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