Friday, July 30, 2010

Ice Cream Fridays: Whoppers Ice Cream

Welcome to another edition of Ice Cream Fridays. Every Friday you can look forward to a new ice cream recipe which will hopefully inspire you to break out your old dust covered ice cream maker that is hiding somewhere in a closet (yes, I'm talking about you). Since I'm always looking for inspiration and ideas, feel free to leave me a comment here on my blog or on my facebook page, and let me know what ice cream flavor you would like to see. Who knows, you might just get lucky and it will be featured the following week.

This week's flavor is a treat for kids, and those who are still kids at heart. I didn't grow up eating Whoppers. In fact, I had never even tasted anything that resembled these little 3/4 inch diameter, chocolate covered, malted milk balls, which are produced by the Hershey company before moving to the United States. Looking at the ingredient list, you'll find out very quickly that these candies are certainly no health food. However, I do like to munch on them on occasion, and they are actually one of the few candies I will pick out of my kids Halloween baskets (shhh, don't tell them).

For this ice cream, David Lebovitz takes a simple vanilla custard base and makes it special by adding malted milk powder. This, in my opinion, transforms this dessert by making it actually less sweet and more creamy. With that, this subtly sweet, malted confection is the perfect canvas for chopped Whoppers. This is certainly not a hard ice cream to make if you are familiar with cooking a custard, but I could actually see this working just as well in an egg-less Philadelphia style base. The hardest part in this recipe was cutting the difficult little suckers (whoppers), who did not want to cooperate or behave on my cutting board.

My kids were extremely happy with this frozen confection, especially since last week's Date, Rum and Pecan Flavor was definitely "adults only". While the kids went to town on this dessert along with their friends, who I assume liked it just as much, considering how fast their bowls were emptied, my husband and I were able to steal a few bites and liked it as well. While I usually prefer a smoother ice cream, it was still fun to eat and felt like being a kid again!

Whoppers Ice Cream
(adapted from The Perfect Scoop)
(Printable Recipe)


1 cup (250 ml) half-and-half
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
Pinch of salt
2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup (90 g) malt powder (like Carnation)
6 large egg yolk
2 cups Whoppers (malted milk balls), coarsely chopped


Warm the half-and-half, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. In a large bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, vanilla, and malt powder and set a mesh strainer on top.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and whisk it into the malted milk mixture. Stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. As you remove the ice cream from the machine, fold in the chopped Whoppers (malted milk balls).

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fettuccine with Fresh Corn Pesto

One thing I look forward to every summer is fresh corn. We eat corn year round, but when it isn't in season, I result to the frozen variety. It is most definitely not the same, and to me nothing beats the taste of fresh corn on the cob grilled with just a little bit of butter, salt, and pepper. Delicious! 
Since right now is prime corn season, and you can get it for fairly cheap at the local grocery stores, farmer's markets, and even road side stands, I keep my eyes open for recipes that use a good amount of it.

Looking through the newest edition of bon appetit magazine, this recipe caught my eye. Corn pesto? Now, this was a new one to me. I've made all kinds of pesto before. From the classic with basil and pine nuts, to sun dried tomato pesto and even a Walnut Pesto, which was featured on this blog before. They are all delicious, and each one lends itself to so many different applications. It is certainly one of my favorite condiments to use. So back to the Corn Pesto which had peaked my interested. It is very reminiscent of a classic basil pesto with the pine nuts, Parmesan and olive oil, but also very different at the same time.

The recipe starts by crisping up some bacon. The fresh corn which is cut off the cobs (I used this gadget which works like a dream), is then sauteed in some of the left over bacon grease along with garlic. Some of the cooked corn is set aside, while the rest is added to a food processor along with freshly grated Parmesan and toasted pine nuts. While processing, olive oil is added through the feed tube and the mixture is blended until almost smooth.  Once the pasta is cooked, the corn pesto along with the reserved cooked corn and fresh basil is added. Cooking water from the pasta will help to achieve the desired consistency of the dish.  Finally, the pasta gets the finishing touch by adding the previously cooked bacon and more basil.

This dish was everything and more we ever hoped for. It was creamy and full of flavor, in a way it reminded me of Spaghetti Carbonara. Corn is certainly prominently featured in this recipe and shines in this dish. I served this with grilled steak and a simple side salad. This was a great meal that I will be making for sure the next time I'm entertaining. I thought it was a very unique way to take advantage of summer's corn bounty!

Fettuccine with Fresh Corn Pesto
(adapted from bon appetit)


4 bacon slices, cut lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 6 large ears)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus additional for serving
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
10 ounces Fettuccine or Tagliatelle
3/4 cup coarsely torn fresh basil leaves, divided


Cook bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp and brown, stirring often. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon drippings from skillet. Add corn, garlic, 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper to drippings in skillet. Saute over medium-high heat until corn is just tender but not brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer 1 1/2 cups corn kernels to  samll bowl and reserve. Scrape remaining corn mixture into a food processor. Add 1/2 cup Parmesan and pine nuts. With machine running, add olive oil through feed tube and blend until pesto is almost smooth. Set pesto aside.

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1 1/2 cups pasta cooking liquid. Return pasta to pot. Add corn pesto, reserved corn kernels, and 1/2 cup basil leaves. Toss pasta mixture over medium heat until warmed through, adding reserved pasta cooking liquid by 1/4 cupfuls to thin to desired consistency, 2 to 3 minutes. Season pasta to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer pasta to large shallow bowl. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup basil leaves and reserved bacon. Serve pasta, passing additional grated Parmesan alongside.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Banana Whoopie Pies with Chocolate Buttercream

Our family goes through "banana stages". Sometimes I can't buy them quick enough before they are devoured, but then there are times when no one will touch them for days. Right now with it being so hot, bananas don't last long on the counter unfortunately. So what's one to do with an abundance of ripe bananas? The most "logical" choice was to make banana whoopies. 

These little cakes are once again from the book "Whoopie Pies" by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell. I love looking through this book since it offers so many possibilities. There are many recipes for each, the pies and the fillings, but it is up to the baker to decide which flavor combinations to use to put it all together. The possibilities are endless, which makes this so much fun.

I decided to use a classic chocolate buttercream as the filling in my banana whoopies. The pies are quickly mixed up, and I loved the fact that this recipe incorporated some whole wheat flour. One suggestion the book offers is to use a tablespoon or two of flax meal or wheat germ, and I went ahead and added some wheat germ into the batter since I had it on hand. I figured this way I could justify how "healthy" they were.
Pecans are optional in this recipe, so I decided to forgo them this time though they would certainly make a great addition. The chocolate buttercream is a pretty basic recipe, so I decided to amp up the "health" factor and go with Hershey's Extra Dark Cocoa Powder. This made the filling less sweet but at the same time, more decadent and rich tasting.

This is comfort food at it's best. These little delicacies were gone in no time. My husband had to sneak a few out to his colleagues who loved them just as much as my kids did. Since the filling wasn't too sweet or too chocolaty, my husband enjoyed a few of them as well. Definitely a repeat recipe, but maybe next time I'll add the pecans and go with a cream cheese frosting, or a maple buttercream, or a ............ I guess you'll all have to wait and see what strikes my fancy the next time around!

Banana Whoopie Pies with Chocolate Buttercream
(adapted from "Whoopie Pies")
(Printable Recipe)


For the pies:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (I used stone ground organic)
2 tablespoons wheat germ (optional)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans (optional)

For the filling:
1 1/3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Extra Dark)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons heavy (whipping) cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt


For the pies: Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees f. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together both flours, baking soda, and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper.

In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, shortening, sugar, and vanilla until light and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and beat until combined.

Add the bananas and the pecans (if using) and beat on medium for about 2 minutes, until completely combined. Add the flour mixture along with the wheat germ if using. Mix until combined.

Using a spoon, drop about 1 tablespoon of batter onto one of the prepared baking sheets and repeat, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. Bake one sheet at time for about 10 minutes each, or until the cakes begin to brown. Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool on the sheet or at least 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

For the filling: In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the confectioners' sugar, cocoa, and butter, starting on low and increasing to medium speed, until the mixture is crumbly, about 1 minute. Add the heavy cream, vanilla, and salt and beat on high until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Assembling the whoopie pies: Spread filling onto the flat side of one cake using a knife or spoon. Top with another cake, flat-side down. Repeat with the rest of the cakes and filling.
Alternatively, you can use a pastry bag with a round or star tip to pipe the filling onto the cakes, which will give you a smoother, neater presentation.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Bruschetta with Rosemary, Roasted Plum Tomatoes, Ricotta, and Prosciutto

I love looking through bon appétit magazine. Many of their recipes have a certain special touch that make them stand out above other recipe magazines. I do have to admit though, only very seldom will I make a dish from their pages since some of their recipes seem almost intimidating to me, and a little fancier than what I would serve on a daily basis. But, if you are looking for wonderful meals to serve when entertaining guests, this is most definitely a magazine to turn to.

Always on the look out for new dishes, I vowed to take more advantage of all of my magazine subscriptions, which includes bon appétit. So when I received my August 2010 edition, I settled in by the pool and started marking recipes that looked interesting. I couldn't overlook many of their wonderful recipes in this edition that take advantage of the abundance of summer vegetables, which is when today's recipe caught my eyes.

Let's just say this dish is one for the senses. It is crunchy and creamy, salty and sweet and honestly one of the best things I have made in a while. The dish is certainly not hard to make, but does require a little bit of time. Tomatoes are marinated in olive oil and rosemary and then roasted in the oven for 30 minutes. Sliced baguette is brushed with leftover tomato marinade before toasting them in the oven as well. Smooth ricotta is spread on top of the toasted bread slices before layering the prosciutto, roasted sweet tomatoes, and finally, a tiny bit of baby arugula for garnish.

Words don't do this dish justice. This was a flavor explosion in your mouth, and we could not get enough of it.  I made this recipe for a light lunch on the weekend, and my husband and I enjoyed the bruschetta along with a nice glass of red wine. Perfection!
This dish is going in my permanent files and I can't wait to serve this as an appetizer to guests. This one deserves the highest rating available for sure!

Bruschetta with Rosemary, Roasted Plum Tomatoes, Ricotta, and Prosciutto

6 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced 
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 large plum tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), quartered lengthwise
12 1/2-inch-thick diagonally cut baguette slices (each 3 to 4 inches long)
12 tablespoons ricotta cheese, divided
6 thin prosciutto slices, cut in half crosswise
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup microgreens or baby arugula

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Stir 6 tablespoons oil, garlic, rosemary, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in large bowl to blend. Add tomato quarters and stir to coat. Let stand 5 minutes. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Lift tomatoes from marinade and arrange, cut side down, on prepared baking sheet (reserve marinade for toasts).

Roast tomatoes until skin is browned and blistered and tomatoes are very tender, about 35 minutes. Cool tomatoes on sheet. Maintain oven temperature.

Meanwhile, arrange bread slices on another rimmed baking sheet. Brush top of each with reserved marinade (including garlic and rosemary bits).

Roast bread until top is golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool toasts on sheet.

Spread 1 tablespoon ricotta cheese on each toast; sprinkle with pepper. Fold prosciutto halves over and place on ricotta. Arrange 2 tomato quarters atop prosciutto. Whisk lemon juice and remaining 1 teaspoon oil in medium bowl to blend; season with salt and pepper. Add microgreens (or baby arugula) and toss to coat. Top bruschetta with greens. Arrange on platter and serve.

Adapted from:  bon appétit

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ice Cream Fridays: Date, Rum, and Pecan Ice Cream

Welcome to another edition of Ice Cream Fridays. Every Friday during the next few months (or until I get tired of it) you can look forward to a new ice cream recipe which will hopefully inspire you to break out your old dust covered ice cream maker that is hiding somewhere in a closet (yes, I'm talking about you). Since I'm always looking for inspiration and ideas, feel free to leave me a comment here on my blog or on my facebook page, and let me know what ice cream flavor you would like to see. Who knows, you might just get lucky and it will be featured the following week.

This week's featured flavor was solely inspired by my love of rum. Now, please let me clarify, since I don't want you to think I'm knocking back rum and cokes every night, and that is what prompted this post. No, in fact, I don't even like drinking it, but for some reason, something magically happens when you add dark rum to desserts. It transforms anything from cakes, pies and ice creams into something I can't resist. The flavor and scent of rum get me every time. It makes me extremely happy that two of my favorite cookbooks "Baking, from my home to yours" by Dorie Greenspan, along with David Lebovitz's "The Perfect Scoop", seem to be having a love affair with the dark "gold" as much as I do.

At first glance, many people might skip over today's flavor in the book, but I'm telling you, it would be a big mistake. Dates in an ice cream might not be your ideal dessert, but with the addition of rum and pecans, the ice cream is transformed into something dreams are made of. This ice cream is custard based with dried dates that are macerated in rum prior to adding them to the mixture, then to take it one step further, pecans are thrown into the mix. David gives you a few options of what kind of pecans. You can either toast them, add spiced pecans, or you can add "Wet Pecans" which is what I chose. They are toasted pecans which are added to boiling maple syrup for a few seconds before cooling the mixture again. All of these different components make this ice cream irresistible.

My husband and I loved this flavor. It is reminiscent of rum raisin, but to me it had more depth, perhaps because of the maple nuts. This is most definitely an ice cream that is "adult only". My children did not care for this one at all, which prompted me to mix up a different kid friendly ice cream which will be featured soon. So, if rum floats your boat, or makes your skirt fly up, this flavor is for you!

Date, Rum, and Pecan Ice Cream
(adapted from The Perfect Scoop)
(Printable Recipe)


12 dates (4 ounces, 115 g) pitted
1/4 cup (60 ml) dark rum

1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
2/3 cup (130 g) sugar
Big pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups (310 ml) heavy cream
6 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons dark rum
3/4 cup Wet Pecans (recipe to follow)


To prepare the dates, chop them into 1/2 -inch pieces. Combine the date pieces with the rum in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir. Cover and let macerate at room temperature for at least 4 hours (this can be done up to 1 day ahead).

To make the ice cream, warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Pour the cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warm egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Mix in the vanilla and rum, then stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. During the last few minutes of churning, add the nuts and date pieces.

Wet Pecans


1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (70 ml) dark amber maple syrup
3/4 cup (75 g) pecans, toasted and very coarsely chopped
Big pinch of salt


Heat the maple syrup in a small skillet or saucepan until it just begins to come to a full boil. Stir in the pecans and the pinch of salt, then cook until the liquid comes to a full boil once again. Stir the nuts for 10 seconds, then remove them from the heat and let cool completely. The nuts will still be wet and sticky when cooled.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Zucchini-Creme Soup

Many years ago, the year I had moved out from my parents home, I received a cookbook from my mom and dad. To this day, it is still a cookbook I love looking for recipes in first. The copy of the book has been through many moves, including even one overseas, has food splatters on it, and got soaked in a water main flooding. Still, this book is perfect, and I can't wait to order a copy for my own daughter when she moves out one day. The book is called "Ich helf Dir kochen" by Hedwig Maria Stuber which practically translates to "I'm helping you cook".

Helping me cook, it sure did. I had helped my mom in the kitchen growing up, but was mostly reduced to easy activities like peeling potatoes, cooking the pasta, or stirring the batter for a quick bundt cake. Seasoning the meals was something that my mother always took into her own hands, and she still does  to this day. So after I had moved out, I needed to teach myself how to cook from "scratch". Let's just say, my poor husband got served a lot of Schnitzel, mashed potatoes and mac and cheese (which I had just discovered after meeting him) and for some reason, oodles of white rice and gravy. He didn't seem to mind at the time, since we were young and in love (we are still the latter but certainly not young anymore), although I'm pretty sure he is glad that my recipe repertoire, along with my abilities, have increased over the years.

This soup was actually one of the first recipes I made out of the book. I had received some zucchinis and tomatoes from my mom's garden and was looking for a dish to make. I don't care for eating many soups in the hot summer months, but this one tastes best if made when the plants are ready for harvesting, plus it is so light tasting that I don't mind. The tomatoes definitely need to be at their prime for this soup. The soup takes start to finish about 25 minutes. The zucchini, onions, and garlic are cooked in olive oil for a bit, then fresh tomatoes along with seasonings are added to the mixture. After the vegetables are soft, you can add either chicken or vegetable broth (to keep it vegetarian) and the cooked soup is blended. For the final touch, heavy cream is added to the mixture for a wonderful creaminess.

I love this soup, and so does the rest of my family. I like to serve it for a quick dinner along with sandwiches, but it also makes for a great light lunch. I've certainly come a long way since the days of easy, repetitive meals, but this soup still remains a favorite!

Zucchini-Creme Soup

1 pound zucchini, cut into cubes
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 vine tomatoes, skinned and chopped*
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup heavy cream

* To skin tomatoes, cut an x in the bottom of the tomato with a sharp knife and submerge in boiling water for a few minutes. Add a few ice cubes, let sit for 30 seconds and drain. The skins should slide right off. 

In a large pot, add zucchini and onion to oil. Saute for a couple of minutes, add the garlic, and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 10 minutes more. Add the chicken (or vegetable) broth and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Add the soup to your blender* and puree in a couple of batches, adding the heavy cream to the final batch. Add soup back to the pot and stir to combine.

*Alternately you can leave the soup in the pot, and blend with an Immersion Hand Blender until desired consistency. Add the heavy cream and give it a final whirl.

Adapted from: Ich helf Dir kochen

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Orange Raspberry Muffins

If you've been following my blog for a bit, you know how important a good breakfast is in our house. I have a few things that I make over and over like the Morning Glory Muffins, the Strawberry Oatmeal Smoothie (especially in the summer), and my freezer always has Breakfast Burritos in it. For me, it is important that my family always has the opportunity to grab something on the run that is made with wholesome, fresh, and most importantly, natural ingredients.

School is starting up again, so I was busy this weekend baking a couple of different muffins for breakfast variety. I always bake my muffins and then end up freezing most them. This way, they can either be taken out the night before to thaw on the counter, or the kids can "nuke" them for a few seconds in the microwave and are good to go. Freezing them works out perfect for us since there always seems to be something available to eat, and I don't run into the problem of food spoiling or getting stale before it can be eaten up.

Both of the muffins I chose were out of Dorie Greenspan's book Baking: From my home to yours, and they are simply wonderful. The first one, which I'm featuring today, is an Orange Berry Muffin. Dorie's original recipe called for blueberries, but since I had just purchased fresh raspberries, I decided to go that route.
The muffin is made quickly and without dirtying a stand mixer. All you need is a couple of bowls, a whisk, and a spatula. The recipe has you using orange zest, which gets rubbed into the sugar (one of Dorie's trademark moves), along with the juice of the orange. Buttermilk, with the acidity of the orange makes these muffins very tender. A little bit of honey, and a very small amount of sugar (only 1/3 cup) make these muffins perfect for breakfast and let the fruit be the real star of this recipe.

These muffins were hands down one of the best fruit muffins I have ever made. I loved that they were tender, and juicy, but not too sweet. In fact, they were perfect, especially when enjoyed with a cup of coffee in the morning. This recipe is definitely a keeper. I can't wait to try these muffins again with blueberries, blackberries, or even cherries.

Orange Raspberry Muffins
(Makes about 16 muffins)


Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
About 3/4 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons honey
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups raspberries - fresh, preferably, or frozen (not thawed)
Decorating sugar, for topping (optional)


Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Butter or spray the molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

Pour the orange juice into a large glass measuring cup or a bowl and pour in enough buttermilk to make 1 cup. Whisk in the eggs, honey and melted butter.

In a large bowl, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance or orange strong. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don't worry about being thorough - the batter will be lumpy and bubbly, and that's just the way it  should be. Stir in the raspberries. Dived the batter evenly among the muffins cups.

Bake for 22 to 25 minutes. If you want to top the muffins with decorating sugar, sprinkle on the sugar after the muffins have baked for 10 minutes. When fully baked, the tops of the muffins will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins will come out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pasta With Fresh Zucchini Sauce

Zucchini dishes for me, are reserved typically for the summer time. I remember growing up, my mom's garden produced some giant zucchinis. We would eat several meals off one of them. My mom would make all kinds of different things with the abundance of Zucchini, but one thing I always remember is her stuffed zucchini. It looked literally like a zucchini boat filled full of a hamburger/rice mixture topped with some kind of Swiss cheese, it was delicious but really doesn't have the same effect with the tiny ones found at the local stores. 

These days, my zucchini finds are restricted to supermarkets and farmers markets but I don't think I've seen such colossal zucchinis since being a child in my mother's garden. They are usually much smaller then what I had been used to. Nonetheless, they are tasty and by being the "baby versions" their skin is usually very tender.

I've had the recipe for this sauce in my files for a long time. I believe my sister was the one that gave it to me many years ago. It is a wonderful, light tasting sauce that is perfect for the summer months. The original recipe called for all mascarpone, but I decided to lighten it just a tiny bit by replacing some of it with light cream cheese. The taste was still just as good, and I actually really liked the little hint of tartness the cream cheese lends to the dish. The recipe also calls for diced prosciutto* which is a wonderful addition in this dish but if you would like to keep this a vegetarian meal you can leave it out and still be left with a fantastic tasting pasta sauce. The key to this sauce is to reserve a little bit of your pasta water and add it when tossing the pasta with the sauce since it can tighten up too much otherwise.

I served this recipe over Angel hair pasta since I had it on hand, but any other pasta would just be as delicious. I have also served it over whole wheat pasta before and it was also very good. A little simple side salad with a vinegar based vinaigrette completed this wonderful summer meal for us. If Zucchini is your "thing" as well, I hope you'll give this sauce a try!

*I love the taste of prosciutto in this dish but have made it before using pancetta or bacon which I cooked prior to adding them.

Pasta With Fresh Zucchini Sauce
(serves 4-6)
(Printable Recipe)


1 medium onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound zucchini, diced
1/4 cup water
1 vegetable bouillon cube
5 ounces Mascarpone cheese
3 ounces light cream cheese
3 ounces Prosciutto, finely diced
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and Pepper to taste
12 ounces Pasta, cooked and drained
2-3 tablespoons reserved pasta water (optional)


In a large pan cook onions in olive oil until tender for about 5 minutes, add garlic and cook for an additional minute making sure not to burn it. Add Zucchini, water and vegetable bouillon cube. Add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

Add mascarpone and cream cheese and cook on low heat until melted. Add the prosciutto, taste for seasonings. Add pasta to the sauce and toss lightly. Add reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce if desired. Serve immediately.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ice Cream Fridays: Nutella Ice Cream with Frangelico

Welcome to another edition of Ice Cream Fridays. Every Friday during the next few months (or until I get tired of it) you can look forward to a new ice cream recipe which will hopefully inspire you to break out your old dust covered ice cream maker that is hiding somewhere in a closet (yes, I'm talking about you). Since I'm always looking for inspiration and ideas, feel free to leave me a comment here on my blog or on my facebook page, and let me know what ice cream flavor you would like to see. Who knows, you might just get lucky and it will be featured the following week.

Since July is National Ice Cream month, which was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, lots and lots of ice cream recipes have been popping up all over the blog world. At least once a day, I will have one ice cream recipe made by one of the blogs I read pop up. Trying to come up with different flavors is actually becoming harder and harder. You can find any and everything from plain vanilla and chocolate to the very fancy ice creams, some even containing basil, lavender or other exotic flavorings, on all kinds of blogs.

So this week I decided to keep it easy and simple, and make a quick ice cream that did not require me to turn on my stove, which right now with temperatures well over 110 degrees, is a welcome relief. A blender is all you need for this ice cream. I was looking all over the place for a good recipe including one of my all-time favorites: Nutella. If you have never had it, you're missing out big time on this delectable chocolate hazelnut cream that originated in Italy. I couldn't settle on one single recipe, so I decided to combine a few that I found, and make it my own. One of the recipes called for vodka, but being the "rebel" that I am I decided to use a liqueur that I thought would complement this ice cream so much better, hence the Frangelico, a hazelnut liqueur.

The ingredients are simply put in a blender, mixed up and then chilled for a while in the refrigerator before churning them in an ice cream maker. 
The result; a most wonderful creamy ice cream that reminded me a lot of gianduja gelato, which is one of my all-time favorites. This ice cream was so good, I could easily eat it every day. Even my chocolate hating husband was in love with this one, and that to me is the best compliment ever.
If you are as excited about Nutella as I am, then this ice cream is most definitely a requirement to make!

Nutella Ice Cream with Frangelico

2/3 cup Nutella
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups milk (I used 1 %)
2-3 tablespoons Frangelico


In a blender add the Nutella, sugar, heavy cream, milk, and Frangelico. Mix until well blended. Refrigerate mixture for about 3 hours, or until well chilled.
Churn ice cream according to your ice cream manufacturer's directions.
Freeze for 4 hours before serving.


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