Lo Mein

After last month’s ice cream bonanza, I thought I might make something a bit more savory. I came across this lo mein recipe on Pinterest and liked how easy it looked. I also liked that it doesn’t really require side dishes since it already includes veggies, grains, and meat. Timing different things to all finish at the same time is my least favorite part of cooking, and the main reason I prefer making desserts over dinner. Okay, that might be a stretch, but it is a pretty big reason nonetheless.

Lo Mein {{Baking Bytes}}

I prepped ahead of time by cutting all the veggies and the meat, and this saved a lot of time when I made it the following night. Putting it together took less than thirty minutes which makes it a great weeknight dinner if you have a little bit of time the night before to cut some veggies. It is still a pretty quick meal even without the prepping, especially if you’re better at cutting things than I am.

Lo Mein {{Baking Bytes}}

I used broccoli and carrots, but it would also be great with peas (frozen or snap), bell peppers, jalapeños, mushrooms (if you’re into that sort of thing), or whatever else you’d like to throw in there. Could also leave out the meat for a vegetarian option. It makes a bunch, so it’s great for a family dinner or as leftovers. It’s delicious, filling, covers several food groups, and reheats nicely. I’m a big fan of meals I can eat for several days, whether for lunch or dinner or occasionally both. (I told you I’m not a big fan of cooking.)

Lo Mein {{Baking Bytes}}

If you’re looking for an easy recipe to dip your toes into the waters of Asian entrées, this is a great one to start with.

Lo Mein

Adapted from Mom’s Dish
Serves 6-8

Ingredients

3 large carrots
3 cups broccoli
1 medium onion
4 cloves garlic

8 oz noodles (spaghetti, angel hair, rice noodles)

1/2 cups boiling water
2 beef bouillon cubes

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
2 tsp sesame oil

1 pound beef steak (I used elk)
oil, for frying

Directions

  1. Mince the garlic, and cut the meat and remaining veggies into bite-sized pieces. Slicing them thinner than I did will help everything to cook more evenly. Pro tip: meat is easier to slice when it is still slightly frozen. If prepping ahead of time, store in the fridge until ready to cook.
  2. Bring water to boiling (scoop out 1/4 cup for your sauce) and cook pasta as directed. Drain and set aside.
  3. Add bouillon cube to boiling water and stir until dissolved. Add soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan or wok, sauté oil, garlic, and onion for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add meat and fry until it’s lightly browned.
  6. Add remaining veggies and fry for another few minutes until veggies are cooked but still crisp.
  7. Add sauce and noodles, mix thoroughly, and cook briefly to ensure all ingredients are warmed through.
  8. Serve immediately.
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Peanut Butter Cheerio Treats

Peanut Butter Cheerio Treats {{Baking Bytes}}

When I was a kid (and to this day), I never cared much for Rice Krispies. They were better in the overly sweet, marshmallow form that graced many of my friends’ lunches, but I’d have preferred cookies or pudding any day. Instead, my mom often made what we called Cheerio treats: the peanut butter and Cheerios cousin of Rice Krispies Treats.

Peanut Butter Cheerio Treats {{Baking Bytes}}

As a household of peanut butter fanatics and Cheerio eaters, these were always a big hit. A bit crunchier than a normal Rice Krispies treat, but with the added flavor of peanut butter, these continue to be one of my favorite easy snacks. Since they are made in the microwave, they are perfect for hot days when you don’t want to heat up the oven. Even better, they only take about 15 minutes to come together, making them a great go-to recipe when you’re in need of a quick treat. Just make sure you always have marshmallows in the cupboard and you’ll be ready to go at a moment’s notice.

Peanut Butter Cheerio Treats {{Baking Bytes}}

I nearly always make them our traditional way, with creamy peanut butter and plain Cheerios, but feel free to mix it up however you like. I’ve given some suggestions after the recipe if you’re looking for inspiration. Whether you go with the original or kick it up a notch, these are a wonderful treat.

Peanut Butter Cheerio Treats

Adapted from Kraft
Makes an 8″ x 8″ pan

Ingredients

2 Tbsp butter
25 large marshmallows
3/4 cup peanut butter

3-5 cups plain Cheerios2

Directions

  1. Lightly butter an 8×8 baking dish.
  2. In a large, microwave safe bowl, heat the butter on high for 45 seconds, or until melted.
  3. Add  marshmallows and peanut butter and stir.
  4. Heat in microwave for 45 seconds, stir, heat again for 45 seconds, and stir until mixture comes together with little to no streaking.
  5. Add cereal, stirring until combined. Mixture will be stiff. After it cools slightly, you may want to use your hands to mix it further.
  6. Press into prepared baking dish and allow to cool. Cut into desired pieces (I usually do 12 or 16) and serve.
  7. Store on the counter in an airtight container.

Variations

  • Add 1/2 cup baking chips (e.g. chocolate chips, peanut butter chips) when you add the cereal
  • Press sprinkles or mini chocolate chips into the top after pressing into pan
  • Drizzle with melted chocolate chips
  • Use crunchy peanut butter instead of creamy
  • Use a different flavor of Cheerios (maybe chocolate?), or substitute Rice Krispies or Chex cereal

Notes

If, you prefer, you can heat the mixture on the stove over medium heat instead of using the microwave.
I like them gooey so I only use 3 cups of cereal; my mom uses 5 cups. The more you use the more important it is to make sure everything is combined really well so it all sticks together.

{National Ice Cream Month} Cookies & Cream Ice Cream

[Welcome! In case you missed it, this month is National Ice Cream month. Each Tuesday I'll be sharing a new ice cream recipe for the entire month of July. If you want to see the rest of month's recipes, they can be found at the following links: orange creamsicle Dixie cups, Baileys, peanut butter fudge ripple,  Kahlúa chocolate.]

And just like that, July is nearly over, making this our last week of National Ice Cream Month; I hope you enjoyed it! Did it go by crazy fast for you, too? I thought the month just flew by. On Saturday I completed my third half marathon for the year, making me halfway through my goal of six. It was a very small race (fewer than 20 for the half distance) but the course was well supported and beautiful. It was not a PR, but I finished about 10 minutes faster than I thought I was going, and given the hellacious side cramp I had for about 6 miles, I’m pleased with my ~2:19 finish. The only way to make my side cramp bearable was to run with my hand on my side and apply constant pressure, and I kept thinking to myself “I’m a little teapot…” Fortunately my fourth thirteener is not until September so I am hoping to get this side cramp nonsense figured out before then. I’m also planning to squeeze in a 5k or two because I figure compared to a half marathon it will be over before I realize I’ve starting running. Haven’t run a proper 5k in over a year, so I’m curious if I’ve improved my time. We shall see!

Cookies & Cream Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

We’re going to round out the month with a classic American flavor: cookies & cream. A staple at ice cream shops and grocery store aisles, this flavor remains one of the best-selling flavors in America since it gained popularity in the ’80s. Personally, I’m a big fan as well. The lightness of vanilla with the added bonus flavor and texture of chocolate wafer cookies.

Cookies & Cream Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Nowadays Oreos (or a similar style) are often used, and I’m not one to argue with the pros. However, given I’m a DIY kinda girl, I opted to make a homemade version of the cookies. You can obviously substitute a store-bought variety if you don’t want to make your own, but this is a quick and easy recipe you can whip up while you’re waiting for the ice cream to chill in the fridge. I used most of the recipe in my ice cream because I like a lot of cookie. If you like less, you may just need half of the cookie recipe. I prefer a coarse grind for even distribution plus some bigger chunks of cookie, but feel free to customize these steps to your own preferences. You could use all coarse powder, or all big chunks, or whatever combination you like best.

Cookies & Cream Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

One of the best parts of cookies and cream is how versatile it’s gotten over the years. Traditionally it uses a base of vanilla ice cream, but these days you can find tons of variations with chocolate, mint, and multitudes of other flavors. If you’re not feeling vanilla today, try it with chocolate or one of the flavors from this month’s lineup. This week I didn’t feel the need to mess with a classic, so below find instructions for homemade Oreo cookies as well as vanilla cookies and cream ice cream. A crowd-pleaser for kids and adults alike, this is sure to become a staple in the house of Baking Bytes.

Homemade Oreos (Cookie only)1

Adapted from Cupcake Project
Makes ~5 dozen cookies

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

2/3 cup butter, room temp
1 large egg

Directions

  1. Preheat over to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line two cookie sheets with silicon mats or parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together by hand the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and powder, and salt).
  3. And butter and egg, and beat on medium speed until well combined and dough comes together.
  4. Use a 1 tsp cookie scoop and place dough 2″ apart on a lined cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for 9 minutes2, then remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

I only include the recipe for the cookie part of the Oreos since that’s all I needed for the ice cream. If you want the filling also, head on over to the Cupcake Project for full instructions. The only thing I changed was the amount of butter, mainly because I’m lazy about measuring. They seemed to work great with 2/3 cup instead of the original, but it’s totally up to you. I also did not bother flattening my cookies and they seemed to get plenty thin enough, and were perhaps a bit larger than traditional Oreos. Bake a test cookie or two to see what works best for you.

If you are using a dark pan and/or parchment paper instead of mats, you may need to bake them less. Start with 7 minutes and taste one after it’s cooled a few minutes: it should be crunchy but not taste burned.

Cookies & Cream Ice Cream

Makes ~6 cups

Ingredients

1 recipe chocolate wafer cookies (above) OR 2-3 dozen Oreos

1 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup half and half (or milk)
1/2 cup egg substitute
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. Crush about half to three-fourths of the cookies into a very course powder1, and chop the remainder into desired chunky size (optional). Set aside.
  2. Whisk together all ingredients except cookies until completely combined.
  3. Cover bowl and chill in the refrigerator at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  4. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions
  5. During the last few minutes of churning, add crushed cookies (you may not want all of them. I added about 1/3 cup at a time.)
  6. Stop churning, and fold in chopped cookies, if desired.
  7. Place in a freezer-safe bowl to freeze for an extra three hours, or overnight. Cookies will soften and meld a little with the ice cream overnight so I like to give it lots of time for that.

Notes

1 For crushing cookies, place them in a Ziploc and use a rolling pin or a mason jar. Or use a food processor if you have one. I crushed about 2/3 the recipe, then chopped (I just broke them into 4-8 pieces with my hands) about half of the remainder and added that in. Add as many or as few as suits you.

{National Ice Cream Month} Kahlúa Chocolate Ice Cream

[Welcome! In case you missed it, this month is National Ice Cream month. Each Tuesday I'll be sharing a new ice cream recipe for the entire month of July. If you want to see the previous recipes, they can be found at the following links: orange-vanilla Dixie cups, Baileys, and peanut butter fudge ripple.]

Ah, Kahlúa. The coffee liqueur we all know and love. (Unless you don’t, in which case today’s flavor is probably not for you.) This is actually a flavor I make fairly often, even though I never got around to posting it before now. It is a slight modification on my chocolate ice cream recipe, but a whole lot more fun. Very popular with all the ladies I’ve served it to, but unfortunately I don’t have a wide male test audience so I can’t speak to its gender neutrality. In any case, it’s one of my go-to flavors and definitely great for ladies’ night.

Kahlúa Chocolate Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Smooth and creamy, chocolatey with a completely customizable amount of Kahlúa, this is an easy recipe to tweak to your preferences. Not big on the boozy taste? Use just two ounces (or even less) of the liqueur. Big fan of Kahlúa? Bump it up to four ounces for more impact. I recommend starting with one ounce, and adding it one half to one ounce at a time until it has your preferred strength. Pro tip: drink some water between each taste test. Also, be wary of adding more than four ounces as the ice cream may not harden properly even after several hours in the freezer.

Kahlúa Chocolate Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

While making a batch for the blog, I tried the blender method from last week’s recipe instead of heating it like I have in the past. It worked beautifully and was way faster, plus it cuts down on chilling time. I will definitely be using this method in the future, and have updated my previous chocolate ice cream post to match.

Like the Baileys ice cream, this one stays very soft in the freezer so you want to dish it up pronto after you take it out. (You can see it starting to melt in my pictures and that was less than two minutes outside of the freezer.) It is excellent both plain and with whipped cream and/or chocolate sauce. Although I’ve never made it this way, I think it would be delightful with the fudge ripple from the peanut butter ice cream.

Kahlúa Chocolate Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Personally I think this recipe needs little talking up, so I’ll leave it here. If you’re a chocolate and/or Kahlúa fan, this one’s for you. If this recipe doesn’t fit your style, be sure to check back next week for the last post: an American classic.

Kahlúa Chocolate Ice Cream 

Makes ~6 cups

Ingredients

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup half and half (or milk)
1/2 cup egg substitute
2-4 oz Kahlúa1

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth and completely combined.
  2. Cover bowl and chill in the refrigerator at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  3. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions, then place in a freezer-safe bowl to freeze for an additional three hours, or overnight.

Notes

1 I usually add 3 oz of Kahlúa, which is semi-strong without overwhelming the chocolate flavor. Use less for just a hint of flavor or more if you’re looking for more Kahlúa than chocolate. As previously mentioned, be wary of adding more than 4 oz as it may not harden properly!

{National Ice Cream Month} Peanut Butter Fudge Ripple Ice Cream

[Welcome! In case you missed it, this month is National Ice Cream month. Each Tuesday I'll be sharing a new ice cream recipe for the entire month of July. If you want to see the first two recipes, they can be found here and here.]

Week three already, can you believe it? This week we are diving headfirst into decadence with a peanut butter and chocolate confection. Regular readers have probably noticed that peanut butter is something I consider to be a staple food. I eat it at least once a day, usually spread atop an English muffin with a dusting of cinnamon and sugar (my standard breakfast), or as a dip for a sliced apple sprinkled with cinnamon (my go-to work snack). I never grow tired of peanut butter, whether I’m eating it straight out of the jar or in a more complicated creation. I even took my own jar of Jif when I spent six weeks in Japan, having learned from my Scotland semester abroad that peanut butter is not quite as common in other parts of the world. (My mom saved the day by mailing me a jar to Scotland so I could eat all the PB&J I wanted, much to the confusion of my British flatmates and friends.)

Peanut Butter Fudge Ripple Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

In any case, peanut butter is a big deal here in the home of Baking Bytes. M almost always tops his preferred flavor of vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce, peanut butter, and a banana. (According to him, the banana makes it healthy.) I thought this week I’d try combining some of those flavors into one sweet treat, namely peanut butter ice cream with a chocolate ripple.

Peanut Butter Fudge Ripple Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

My first attempt had way too much peanut butter (like that’s even a thing) and ended up more like extra fluffy peanut butter than an ice cream. I toned it down for my second attempt and in addition to not freezing hard as a rock, it’s definitely ice cream. Smooth and very peanut buttery, the chocolate ripple breaks up the thickness of the flavor. I’d never tried a ripple before, but it turned out to be very easy. If a mix-in isn’t really your style, just top it with your favorite chocolate sauce or keep it plain; it is certainly delicious all on its own.

Peanut Butter Fudge Ripple Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Below find my recipes for peanut butter ice cream and a chocolate ripple, as well as instructions for combining the two. Keep in mind this is not a hot fudge recipe, it is meant to stay soft in the freezer as a mix-in, rather than be served on top, so it is very thin at room temperature – this is normal. Just make sure you chill it in the fridge before you add it to the ice cream or it may blend in too much.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream 

Makes ~6 cups

Ingredients

3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup half and half (or milk)
1/4 – 3/4 creamy peanut butter1
1/2 cup egg substitute
1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a blender until smooth and completely combined; mixture will be somewhat thick.
  2. Cover bowl and chill in the refrigerator at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  3. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions, then place in a freezer-safe bowl to freeze for an additional three hours, or overnight.

Notes

1 You could use chunky if you want, although likely the texture will still be pretty smooth after blending. The more peanut butter you add, the harder the ice cream will be. I like to use about 1/2 or 2/3 cup, which results in a strong flavor but still stays fairly soft. If you’re looking for a more subtle peanut butter flavor, I’d cut that amount in half.

Fudge Ripple

Borrowed from Brown Eyed Baker
Makes about 1.5 cups1

Ingredients

½ cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
½ cup water
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder2

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together all ingredients except vanilla. Cook over medium heat, whisking often, until the sauce comes to a low boil.
  2. Continue cooking for another minute, whisking almost continuously.
  3. Remove sauce from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and let cool in the pot for several minutes.
  4. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using in ice cream.

Notes

I did not use near this amount in my ice cream, so I’m storing the leftovers in the freezer to use in another recipe. Depending on how much fudge ripple you like, you may end up with extra. I used about a third to half of the recipe, and I would probably use a little more next time to make sure the ripple permeates every bite.

The original recipe calls for Dutch-processed cocoa powder but I just used Hershey’s because that’s what I always have on hand. I used one tablespoon dark cocoa powder and the rest regular.

Peanut Butter Fudge Ripple Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Fudge Ripple Ice Cream

Ingredients

1 recipe ice cream of choice, chilled but not churned
1 recipe of fudge ripple (above), chilled

Directions

  1. If you haven’t already, place a freezer-safe bowl in the freezer.
  2. Freeze ice cream according to your ice cream maker’s directions.
  3. Remove bowl from freezer, and drizzle some chocolate sauce on the bottom.
  4. Gently spread about one cup of ice cream into the bowl, and top with another drizzle of chocolate sauce. Avoid stirring or the ice cream will look muddy. Repeat with remaining ice cream (you may have sauce leftover), finishing with a sauce drizzle on top.
  5. Return bowl to freezer for about 3 hours, or until ice cream is firm (or serve immediately if desired firmness is already there.)