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I’ve been on an ice cream kick lately, mainly because Rachel borrowed an ice cream maker from a friend a few weeks ago. We made coffee frozen yogurt, maple ice cream, and then… Rooibos. I’m not sure whose idea it was, but it is a winner. Each bite is an explosion of creamy, tea-infused nectar. Fit for a queen. My mouth is watering as I type and the conclusion of this post will certainly find my tongue wrapped around a scoop of nutty, tea-y, sweet Rooibos ice cream.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 c whole milk
  • 3 Rooibos tea bags (or a couple tablespoons of loose-leaf tea)
  • 1 c cream
  • 1/2 c sugar (or a little less)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ice cream maker

Heat the whole milk and steep the Rooibos tea in it. Let cool. Whisk together the Rooibos-infused milk with the cream, sugar, cinnamon, and egg yolks. Pour into the ice cream maker- follow the manufacturer’s instructions to churn the milk mixture into ice cream. Our ice cream maker has you freeze the bowl for a few hours before churning, assemble the ice cream maker, pour in the milk mixture, and let it churn for 15 minutes.

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It’s the perfect treat to cool off on a steamy Philadelphia day. I had to try my hand at photographing it so I could share it with you. I think the pictures turned out pretty well. I tried taking pictures of the ice cream on a cone, but they were the same color!

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Making ice cream as many times as we did left us with tons of egg whites. We made angel food cake (which is surprisingly easy to make from scratch) to use them up.

 

 

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My housemate Rachel is quite the amateur mixologist. A couple weeks ago, some friends held a song-themed cocktail contest. Basically, this is a group of people who like to get together to sing old songs and drink. So try not to be too weirded out when I say that this drink is inspired by an old English hymn called Barby. Rachel created this delicious rhubarb cocktail. It is pink (like Barbie), a little sour, and oh so refreshingly delicious. We’ve made this drink a couple times since the contest and agree that it is a perfect spring drink. It looks girly but is much less saccharine than most mixes.

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This recipe calls for rhubarb spirit and rhubarb juice- two unusual ingredients. Fear not, they are easier come by than you would think! The rhubarb spirit comes from a  local craft distillery called Art In The Age Of Mechanical Reproduction. If you are a Philly local, you can pick it up there. If not, vanilla infused vodka or another neutral spirit will work fine (just add more rhubarb juice). To make the rhubarb juice, you can either run rhubarb stalks through a juicer or make juice by boiling the rhubarb. I found a great recipe from Serious Eats that involves cutting the rhubarb stalks into cubes and then boiling and straining the cubes. We made a lot of juice ahead of time and have kept it in the fridge. It lasts a couple weeks in the fridge, or you can freeze it in ice cube trays for later use.

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Rhuby Barby Cocktail

Ingredients:

  • rhubarb spirit
  • rhubarb juice
  • honey or simple syrup
  • chopped mint plus more for garnish
  • ice

Mix together equal parts rhubarb spirit and rhubarb juice- one shot-glass-full of each works nicely. Stir in the honey till it dissolves. Add the chopped mint and ice and shake (in a cocktail shaker if you have it- we used a glass jar). Fill your cup with more ice. Pour the cocktail into your cup through a strainer. Garnish with more mint. Enjoy!

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Rachel says, “If it’s not pink, it’s not Barbie!”

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Rachel with sample sizes of the cocktail during aforementioned party

 

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Until last night, I had never made cheesecake. My parents didn’t make it when I was a kid, so I guess I hadn’t really thought of it until i saw this recipe for banana Nutella cheesecake. Conversation ensued with roommate about the Philadelphia cream cheese cake recipe, so, with a snow day predicted (aka sleeping in today), I decided to hold a late night test kitchen.

Here are the recipes. Both make medium sized cheesecakes.

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Plain Cheesecake
(adapted from this recipe)
Crust
3 Tbsp butter, melted
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 Tbsp sugar
Cake
16 oz cream cheese (two 8 oz packages)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Combine ingredients for crust and press into pan. Using an electric mixer, whip together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract until just combined. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until just blended. Pour on top of crust. Bake at 325 for 40-45 minutes. Let cool before removing from pan.

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Banana Nutella Cheesecake
(adapted from this recipe)
Crust
2 ripe bananas
1/2 cup rolled oats
Cake
16 oz cream cheese (two 8 oz packages)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
3 Tbsp Nutella

Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Mash bananas with a fork and then mix in the rolled oats. Press mixture into pan for crust. Using an electric mixer, whip together cream cheese, sugars, and vanilla extract until just blended. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until just blended. Pour into pan on top of crust. Warm up Nutella, then pour on top of cake and swirl in with a knife. Bake at 325 for 40-45 minutes. Let cool before removing from pan.

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The results!

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The Banana Nutella Cheesecake was good, but didn’t blow me away. My main problem was with the crust. The crust was too mushy and thick, and the flavor didn’t balance out the cake well. Also, it stuck to the parchment paper. Next time I would make the same crust as for the plain cheesecake. The Nutella was a good idea, added a little bit of chocolate to every bite! It also made this cake the better looking of the two. It’s so pretty!

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The plain cheesecake was A-MAZE-ING. Clear winner of the taste test. Creamy and sweet (but not overpoweringly so). The crust held together perfectly, and its sweetness balanced out the creamy, rich cheesecake. Yum.

I will definitely be making the plain cheesecake again. I can see it being popular at a potluck (especially all those Shape Note conventions). Quick oats could substitute for the graham crackers to make a gluten free version.

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Turns out classes were indeed cancelled, so I’m snowed in with my computer and cheesecake. Dangerous combination, but I’ll have to refrain from eating it all so that this weekend’s singing visitors can have a taste. Maybe I’ll cut more snowflakes to distract myself.

From snowy Philadelphia, hope you are staying warm.

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backyard through the kitchen window

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I got snowed in again last week! The snow started coming down so fast and heavy on my drive home that I was a little afraid I wouldn’t make it. It took me an hour and a half to make a 15 minute drive. Scary.
Anyway, I got home and didn’t have many ingredients on hand, so I decided to make these enchiladas. They were great comfort food for the snowy evening.

You need:
Tortillas
Olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
Half a yellow onion, sliced
1 cup shredded purple cabbage (or other vegetable you have on hand)
1 can of seasoned black beans
Cheese
Enchilada sauce (I used an 8 oz can of green enchilada sauce)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Sauté onions and garlic until the onion starts to turn clear. Add shredded cabbage and cook till soft.

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Oil a square baking pan and line up tortillas inside. I was able to fit 5 in my pan.

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Fold up the ends of the tortillas and layer beans, cheese, and veggies inside. Then roll up the tortillas, pour the enchilada sauce into the pan, and sprinkle with cheese.

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Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the cheese is golden and bubbling on top. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. It is hard to see the green sauce in the photos, but it is really delicious. It has a more mild flavor than the red sauce, more like tomatillos than tomatoes. One of my favorites.

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What are some of your favorite snowy day dinners?

A friend mentioned something similar to this recipe, and I decided to make my own version with a sweet potato and feta (instead of a regular potato and cheddar cheese) to give it some extra pizzaz.
You need:
Sweet potato
Salsa
Black beans
Feta cheese

Prick sweet potato all over with a fork and roast it in the oven on a baking sheet at 400 F for 45 minutes or until tender. Warm up the black beans.
Let the potato cool for a few minutes, then a slice down the center and fill with black beans, salsa and feta
Enjoy!

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Quick post: Just wanted to share with you all a very smart/stupid moment I had a couple days ago.
I like eating the natural peanut butter (aka the kind you have to mix when you open it because the oil has separated out), not JIF or anything like that. Smuckers and Whole Foods are my two favorite brands of creamy, salted, natural peanut butter.
But oh my goodness it is difficult to mix. I will spend a day turning the jar on different sides to get it to sort of mix itself, and then will spend at least 15 minutes mixing it by hand. The whole process is difficult, messy, oily, makes my hands tired, and wastes a lot of peanut butter.
So you can imagine how stupid I felt when I realized I could simplify the whole process by mixing the peanut butter in a food processor. Genius. Let me pause here for a moment to mourn all the time I have wasted over the past few years mixing peanut butter.
Moving on… mixing the peanut butter in the food processor, washing and drying the food processor and putting it away took about 5 minutes. Saves time, and so so much mental agony. Sometimes I would just want a PB&J and would have to spend 30 minutes making it because I would have to stir up a new jar of peanut butter.
I literally poured the jar’s contents into the food processor, pulsed it a few times, and then pressed “on” on the food processor. Poured it back into the jar using a rubber spatula, wasting less peanut butter than ever before!
Success!
This is me giving myself a pat on the back.
Hope this tip saves you all some time and agony.

Exhibit A:

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It was a lazy Saturday night hanging out with one of my friends. After it got dark it was too cold to walk to the theater to see Ender’s Game. So we decided to make biscotti, mostly because we needed something to dip in our tea. These biscotti have a nutty almond taste and crispy texture. If you like, you can add nuts to the recipe.

What you need:
2 cups white flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 Tbs almond extract
(Optional- about a cup of sliced, toasted almonds or other nut)

What you do:
1. Mix dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl beat together the eggs and almond extract
2. Using an electric mixer, mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Once everything is combined, use your hands to form the dough into a ball.
3. Split dough in half. On a baking sheet covered with foil and lightly oiled, form the dough into two logs, about an inch thick and 2 1/2 to 3 inches wide. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes, until the logs are firm but bit hard. They should give a little when you press your finger into them.
4. Remove from oven, let cool a little, and then cut into inch thick slices. Turn the slices on their sides
5. Bake for 7 minutes, then flip the slices over and bake for another 7 minutes. They should be golden brown and crispy when cool.

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We dipped our biscotti in honey-lavender tea and relaxed with some Netflix, snuggled up in some blankets. It’s so nice being warm and cozy inside when it’s chilly outside. Biscotti and tea were the perfect compliment to the evening.

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October is almost finished! And with the end of October comes the end of my October Unprocessed challenge. One weekend I ate a couple s’mores, and those marshmallows are super processed. Other than that, I think I’ve done pretty well with the challenge. I have eaten very, very well this month. Curried lentils, squash, coffee cake, salads, stir-fried greens…. the list goes on. I have also enjoyed a few grilled cheese sandwiches with seasonal ingredients.

Oh, grilled cheese. So many different versions. Here is one of mine:

Grilled Cheese with Apples and Arugula

You need: two slices of bread (I used Whole Foods’ oatmeal sandwich bread), two slices of Havarti cheese, butter, arugula, and a sweet, crisp, fresh fall apple.

Basically, you make the grilled cheese the regular way- butter the bread, place the butter-side down on the pan, top with cheese, apple slices, and the other slice of bread, flip once the first side is browned and the cheese starts to melt. The trick here is: when the sandwich is fresh off of the stove, you quickly open the sandwich and stuff in a handful of arugula.  The cheese is all melted and should be stringy when you open the sandwich. Close it quickly so it stays hot!  Then cut it in half. Enjoy.

For those of you who don’t make a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches, it helps to cover the grilled cheese while it is in the pan to melt the cheese faster.

Yum quick dinner.

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I like eating food that is in season- it’s fresh and flavorful.  Fall vegetables, especially squash, are such wonderful comfort food as the leaves turn and the weather cools.  A friend in college showed this recipe to me, and now it is a fall staple. It’s also quick and super versatile.

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Roasted Butternut Squash:

small butternut squash

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp cumin

sprinkle of garlic powder

1 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Cut the neck off of the butternut squash, peel it and then cut into one-inch cubes. Peel the bottom bulb, cut in half, and scrape out seeds with a spoon. Cut into cubes. Toss cut-up squash with spices and olive oil. Spread on a baking pan and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, turning the squash with a spatula halfway through. Let cool.

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I think the paprika suits the taste of the butternut squash well, but it would be easy to change the spices in this recipe to cinnamon and nutmeg, or something else you like.

For dinner, I ate this squash wrapped in a pita with hummus, ground beef and yogurt. It was delicious.  I have also served it as a side dish on its own, or as an appetizer on toast with hard cheese.

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imageHere is another recipe from my October Unprocessed challenge! Kale salad. Around this time of year, the kale gets sweeter as the weather gets colder. This isn’t something I make too much earlier in the season because the greens can be too tough.

Anyway, back to lunch. I love big salads for lunch, piled high with whatever veggies and leftovers I have in the fridge. today it happened to be sweet corn, avocado, and apples.

First, I washed the kale, ripped it into little pieces and then stuffed as much of it as possible into my Tupperware container. I squeezed a lemon slice over it and drizzled on some olive oil and apple cider vinegar. next, I massaged the dressing into the kale. This helps make the greens more tender. I find that if I do this the night before and leave it in the fridge, the kale looks like it has been steamed and is even more tender. I think the acidity of the vinegar breaks it down. To finish I cut the toppings into little pieces and sprinkled them on top.

I popped the top on the container and threw it in my lunch bag, then into my backpack. Don’t forget a fork!

I try to have some protein on lunch salads, like a hard boiled egg or beans. I n this case, I didn’t have either, so I packed half of a peanutbutter sandwich. The salad was sweet, refreshing, and kept me full all afternoon.

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