Zucchini Boats

Hello my lovely readers, hope your August is off to a splendid start. I am heading for a trip home to Alaska on Friday but I wanted to make sure and share with you this fantastic entrée. Perhaps, like me, you’re a bit sugared-out after five straight weeks of ice cream and are looking to “detox” with something sans sugar completely. Well, look no further! A couple of weeks ago I saw a recipe for lasagna zucchini boats on Pinterest, which I thought sounded delicious but also like way too much work. If you’re new here, I am pretty lazy when it comes to making things that don’t qualify as dessert or occasionally breakfast. In any case, I liked the idea of a zucchini base but otherwise similar to my stuffed peppers that I have made previously. I threw together some filling and filled up my zucchini, topping them with cheese of course, and ended up with a pretty fabulous meal.

Zucchini Boats {{Baking Bytes}}

Wild rice, onion, peppers, zucchini, Italian sausage and various spices come together in a lovely blend, complemented perfectly by a zucchini base. The filling is cooked beforehand, so baking them is mainly to soften the zucchini and melt the cheese, if you add it. This recipe is superbly easy to tailor, so you can pump up the heat with more red pepper flakes, or go a completely different route depending on what you have in your cupboard. It also has the pleasant attribute of being able to taste the filling before you finish up the entrée, so you can play with the flavors as you make them.

Zucchini Boats {{Baking Bytes}}

Furthermore, you can easily make them vegetarian by leaving out the meat, and vegan by also ditching the cheese. If you’re a mushroom person (gross), they would also go well in addition to or in lieu of the sausage. And, of course, any other ground meat could be substituted just fine, although you may want to add some additional spices.

Zucchini Boats {{Baking Bytes}}

They also reheat splendidly in the microwave, so it makes for great leftovers if you don’t eat them all the first night, so go buy some zucchini and make these for dinner.

Zucchini Boats
Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

1 cup uncooked rice (I used a wild rice blend)

3 large uniform zucchini
1 bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced

1/2 lb Italian sausage (optional)

1 Tbsp Oregano, to taste
1 tsp red pepper flakes, to taste
1 tsp garlic powder, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 cup grated cheese (optional, I used cheddar)

Directions

  1. Cook rice according to directions, set aside.
  2. Trim zucchini to fit in a 9×13″ baking dish (if necessary), then cut lengthwise in half. Hollow out the inside leaving about 1/4″ of zucchini as an edge. (An ice cream scoop works well for this.) Place zucchini in the baking dish and set aside.
  3. Dice zucchini guts, set aside.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. In a large frying pan or wok, cook sausage over medium heat until almost done.
  6. Add diced zucchini, bell pepper and onion, and cook an additional few minutes or until the veggies are warmed and a bit softened.
  7. Add spices and stir to combine.
  8. In a large bowl, combine cooked rice and veggies.
  9. Spoon filling into hollowed zucchini (you will likely have leftover filling), then bake for 25 minutes, or until zucchini are easily pierced with a fork.1
  10. Top with grated cheese, if desired, and bake for an addition 3-5 minutes until the cheese is melted, then serve hot.

Notes

I had about 2 cups of filling left over. It is great reheated in a tortilla like a burrito, or on its own. Or use it to stuff a couple additional bell peppers.

Lavender Vanilla Bean Ice Cream {National Ice Cream Month}

[Welcome! In case you missed it, July is National Ice Cream month. Each Wednesday in July I have shared a new ice cream recipe. If you missed the other recipes, they can be found hereherehere, and here.]

Several years ago, at a local restaurant called Over the Tapas, I tried a lovely dessert: lavender crème brûlée. Before this I’d never had lavender as a flavor, only a scent, but I was immediately a big fan. After debating attempting to copy the dessert, I decided I should probably start with standard crème brûlée before moving on to something that seemed a bit more complex.

Lavender Vanilla Bean Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Four years later I still haven’t made any sort of crème brûlée, but it still remains on the to do list. I’ll get to it some day. Maybe. In any case, I still love the idea of lavender in baked goods, so when Kristin from Pastry Affair posted her Lavender Vanilla Bean Cake, I knew I needed to try it.

However, it turns out I’m incredibly lazy about making cakes so I still haven’t done that either. It did, however, inspire a new ice cream flavor for me to work out. Surprisingly, it only took me one try to find a recipe I am perfectly happy with, so I’m sharing it with you all today.

Lavender Vanilla Bean Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Delicate (but not subtle) lavender combined with the familiar flavor of vanilla bean, this ice cream is the usual smooth and creamy concoction with the somewhat unusual twist of lavender. As mentioned, it is not a subtle lavender but it’s not overwhelmingly strong either. I even got several opinions on this just to make sure I didn’t need to tone it down. It pairs beautifully with vanilla bean, as expected, and the black specs add a little bit of interest.

Lavender Vanilla Bean Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

I strained the buds from the ice cream but a few sprinkled atop each serving is pretty without making the texture strange.

Lavender Vanilla Bean Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

This lovely addition to my repertoire finishes up National Ice Cream Month. I hope you found a new favorite, or at least some ideas to think about. Thanks for joining me and I’m sure it’ll be back next year with a brand new round of flavors.

Lavender Vanilla Bean Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

(And if you’re overwhelmed with all the sugar this month, check back in a couple of weeks for a healthy entrée.)

Lavender Vanilla Bean Ice Cream 

Makes ~6 cups

Ingredients

1 cup whole milk (not half and half; 2% is okay if you must)
4 tsp culinary lavender

1 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup egg substitute
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp vanilla bean powder

Directions

  1. Gently crush the lavender buds with a spoon (or a mortar and pestle, if you’re fancier than I am).
  2. In a small saucepan, heat milk on medium until it just starts to boil, then remove from heat. Add lavender to the milk and allow it to steep for about 30 minutes. Pour milk through a fine mesh strainer to remove the lavender buds, pressing gently on the buds to release the most flavorful milk.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients with lavender milk until completely combined.
  4. Cover bowl and chill in the refrigerator at least 8 hours, or overnight.
  5. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions, then place in a cold freezer-safe bowl to freeze for an additional three hours, or overnight.
  6. A sprinkling of lavender buds makes a beautiful topping.

Notes

1 I found that with the reduced fat from my usual recipe the ice cream froze a lot harder. I attempting adding a little vodka to rectify this, but I didn’t care for the added flavor. Instead, just let the ice cream rest on the counter for 5-10 minutes before you intend to eat it to make it easier to dish.

Coffee Fudge Ripple Ice Cream {National Ice Cream Month}

[Welcome! In case you missed it, this month is National Ice Cream month. Each Wednesday I am sharing a new ice cream recipe for the entire month of July. If you missed the first three recipes, they can be found herehere, and here.]

If you’re not a coffee drinker, you probably just want to skip this one. But if you do like coffee, then boy do I have the recipe for you.

Coffee ice cream is actually something I’ve been ruminating on for quite a while, but wasn’t quite ready to take the plunge. I am not fond of the way instant coffee tastes and I wasn’t thrilled at the idea of buying yet another extract. Obviously the ground coffee I already buy was the answer, but it seemed like a more intimidating adventure than I was prepared for so I put it off for several months. However, the heat wave we had in June reminded me of iced coffee, which reminded me of coffee ice cream, which inspired me to peruse Pinterest for methods.

Coffee Fudge Ripple Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

While instant coffee was by far the most common, I immediately wrote off any recipes that employed it. I saw several that brewed coffee milk as the first step, which seemed promising, so I decided to give it ago. Since I typically use half and half in my recipes, that’s what I tried first. Unfortunately it was too thick for the coffee to brew well, and was nearly impossible to squeeze out of the grounds without breaking the coffee filters.

Coffee Fudge Ripple Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Take 2: Whole milk. This worked fabulously and was surprisingly easy. One of my batches I accidentally left brewing closer to an hour. This made it incredibly strong but since I like strong flavors, I was thrilled with this outcome. Feel free to taste test yours at the 30-minute mark and maybe leave it in a little longer if it tastes too weak to you. Bear in mind, however, that it’ll taste somewhat stronger once it’s in ice cream form. This seems counter-intuitive but it’s the experience I had so I thought I would pass on the knowledge.

Coffee Fudge Ripple Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

By itself, this recipe tastes like an extra creamy, rather sweeter latte. Very smooth and absolutely fabulous on its own, but for visual interest and to go a bit more the mocha route, I added a small chocolate ripple to my batches. This is absolutely not necessary but it is extremely delicious, so I included the recipe and method for this below. Long-time readers will recognize it from last year’s Peanut Butter Fudge Ripple recipe. Add more or less chocolate to suit your preferences, or just make the recipe to use as a topping on the fly.

Coffee Fudge Ripple Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

As a note, I found this recipe froze harder due to its lower fat and sugar than my usual concoction. To combat this, I added a little Kahlúa to my recipe. This is 100% optional but makes the ice cream much easier to dish straight out of the freezer as well as kicking up the coffee flavor a notch. You could also use vodka if you don’t want any added flavor, or basically any alcohol or liqueur of your choice. Baileys or vanilla would be a great addition if you want to switch up the experience a bit.

Chocolate-covered espresso beans make for a lovely, crunchy topping, as well as giving people a hint to the flavor they’re about to enjoy.

Coffee Fudge Ripple Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

If for some reason you’re not a coffee fan but have still made it this far into the post, make sure you check back next week for a totally different taste experience.

Coffee Ice Cream 

Makes ~6 cups

Ingredients

1 cup whole milk (not half and half; 2% is okay if you must)
1/2 cup ground coffee

3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup egg substitute
1-2 Tbsp alcohol, optional

Directions

  1. Place coffee in a sealed coffee filter, cheesecloth, etc. so the grounds don’t get in your ice cream. I used a clip to keep a regular coffee filter closed around the grounds, using one filter per 1/4 cup of coffee.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat milk on medium until it just starts to boil, then remove from heat. Place coffee (in filter!) in the milk and allow to steep for about at least 30 minutes. Remove coffee (and any escaped grounds), squeezing grounds gently to release the most flavorful milk.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients with coffee milk until completely combined.
  4. Cover bowl and chill in the refrigerator at least 8 hours, or overnight.
  5. 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. Or follow fudge ripple ice cream recipe below.
  6. Top with chocolate-covered espresso beans for some extra flair and a little crunch.

Notes

1 You could use decaf if you’re concerned about the caffeine at night, I used it in my second batch and it was just great. Regardless of caffeine content, pick a coffee you like to drink since the flavor is very prominent.

I found that with the reduced fat and sugar from my usual recipe the ice cream froze a lot harder. The easiest way to fix this is to add alcohol, so that’s what I did. I used 2 Tbsp of Kahlúa which not only kicked up the coffee flavor an extra notch, but made it possible to dish the ice cream straight out of the freezer. If you’re using straight alcohol (e.g. vodka) 1 Tbsp is probably enough, if you’re using a liqueur (e.g. Kahlúa, Baileys) then the full two is probably better. Or, add up to 1/4 cup if you want the added flavoring to shine through.

Fudge Ripple

Borrowed from Brown Eyed Baker
Makes 1+ 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

The quantity varies depending on cooking time, in my experience. I used about 1/2 cup in my ice cream and put the rest in the fridge to use later. You can also freeze it but you may need to take it out for a bit before it becomes pourable.

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.

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. Pro tip: end with just a small drizzle on top or it could mix together once the lid is on.
  5. Return bowl to freezer for about 3 hours, or until ice cream is firm.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream {National Ice Cream Month}

[Welcome! In case you missed it, July is National Ice Cream Month. Each Wednesday I’ll be posting a new flavor, so be sure to check back and find your new favorite. if you missed the first two, they can be found here and here.]

Last week we did tea, this week we’re going a bit more traditional and bringing an all-American classic to the repertoire: cookie dough! Despite my adventures in ice cream recipes, M rarely eats anything besides the vanilla and maybe the peanut butter if he’s feeling fancy. I inquired as to what flavors he might deem worthy of veering away from his precious vanilla, and cookie dough was mentioned in the (rather short) list. Since this also sounded delicious to me, I figured I’d give it a shot.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

This is a newly classic flavor (oxymoron, much?) that can be found basically anywhere, but not one I’d really considered making. It seemed a bit tame so it didn’t quite pique my interest in the same way some of the more complex flavors have. But be that as it may, it’s definitely delicious and worth your time.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

I used my go-to vanilla recipe mixed with cookie dough balls from a modified version of the standard Nestle recipe. A creamy base and bites of raw dough make for a more textural experience in addition to being yummy. Great for kids and adults alike, especially served in a cone on a hot day.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

When I made mine, I used approximately 1/2 tsp sized dough balls, but I would make them even smaller next time. This would make them more evenly dispersed as well as be easier to dish, since the cookie dough isn’t quite as scoopable as the ice cream itself. In any case, use whatever size dough balls that suits you, but bear in mind that smaller might be better, just this once.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream 

Makes ~6 cups

Ingredients

1 recipe cookie dough (below)

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

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients except the cookie dough. Cover bowl and chill in the refrigerator at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  2. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions, gently fold in cookie dough balls, then place in a freezer-safe bowl to freeze for an additional three hours, or overnight.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough 

Ingredients

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions

  1. In the bowl of stand mixer, beat butter and sugars until well mixed and fluffy. Stir in vanilla.
  2. Add flour and salt, and mix until just combined.
  3. Stir in chocolate chips until well distributed.
  4. Roll entire recipe into small balls (less than 1/2 tsp each) and place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, or until ready to use.

Chai Latte Ice Cream {National Ice Cream Month}

[Welcome! In case you missed it, July is National Ice Cream Month. Each Wednesday I’ll be posting a new flavor, so be sure to check back and find your new favorite. if you missed last week’s Peanut Butter Banana, it can be found here.]

Welcome back, kids. This week we’re going slightly off trend and bringing tea into the mix. One of my favorite year-round beverages is a chai tea latte: steaming hot in the winter and over ice in the summer. The spicy tea with the creaminess of milk makes for a refreshing drink at any temperature, both for the drink and the weather. I figured I’d up the ante and try to bring it together in ice cream form to mix it up for summer.

Chai Latte Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

My first attempt I didn’t bother to condense the tea and although the taste was delicious, the texture was rather icy and not what I typically strive for. Take two: I simmered away much of the water from the tea, added it to my usual base, and voilà: deliciousness abound.

Chai Latte Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Oregon Chai Concentrate is something I consider to be a staple, so that is what I used. (Pro tip, it’s hella cheaper at Costco.) I love that it comes in several flavors as well as decaffeinated and is super quick to prepare without sacrificing flavor. It blended beautifully into ice cream, that spicy flavor we know and love permeating a cold frozen treat. It is perhaps a bit icier in texture than plain vanilla, but no more so than last year’s Orange Creamsicle, and definitely still delightful.

Chai Latte Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

If you’re looking to step outside the usual peanut butter or chocolate or fruit concoctions found in the ice cream aisle, this may be the recipe for you. I hope you give it a try and let me know what you think!

Chai Latte Ice Cream {{Baking Bytes}}

Chai Latte Ice Cream 

Makes ~6 cups

Ingredients

2.5 cups Oregon Chai concentrate

3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup half and half (or milk)
1/2 cup egg substitute
1.5 tsp vanilla (optional)

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, simmer tea concentrate over medium heat until it is reduced to about 1/2 – 3/4 cup in volume. Let cool while you prepare the base.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Slowly stream in condensed tea, whisking constantly.
  3. Cover bowl and chill in the refrigerator at least 4 hours, or overnight.
  4. 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.