Ice Cream for Breakfast

It’s summer, we can do that, right?!?

Wait, no? Well I did it anyways. Kind of. It’s more like peanut butter-chocolate banana custard.

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You can eat it for breakfast without feeling guilty. To start, you should cut up a banana and put the pieces in an airtight container, a baggie is okay too, and then freeze it for at least 12 hours.

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They’ll look a little frosty, but that’s okay, we want them nice and cold. Next you want to put the banana hunks into a food processor and give it a couple of pulses to start the blending process. but before you get too far, you want to add a nice heading spoonful of creamy peanut butter (if you only have chunky, that’s a bummer but it will work fine).

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And a couple of table spoons of an instant shake mix in a chocolate flavor, like Slim-Fast or Carnation. If you don’t have this, again it’s okay, chocolate milk mix will be fine, but you’ll be missing some of the extra vitamins. Then again, this is kind of ice cream for breakfast.

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Blend that baby until it reaches the consistency of soft-serve ice cream or until all the chunks are gone. Serve it immediately, before it melts away.

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It’s nice and cool for a hot summer morning, but at the same time it has some great nutrition to start the day. You could eat it with some granola on top and keep it pretty simple. Maybe you should have some ice cream for breakfast this week!

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Summer is Crazy

The worst part, and maybe the only bad part (in my opinion), of summer is the lack of organization and structure. Every single week throws something new at me, even if I am working two weeks in a row, I will be doing different things each week with a different schedule. Not to mention if I am not working I have other things to do, and again these things vary on a daily basis, even if it’s the same activity.

Because of this lack of structure I have become disconnected with the blog and been focusing more on maintaining my sanity and enjoying the time I have to read (even if it cuts into sleep). However I really want to change that. In order to do so, I will probably expand my range of topics that I focus on, more towards a lifestyle blog. I will still talk about food, but in addition to food and cooking, I will talk about books, beauty products, and experiences that I encounter while living out the rest of my summer.

I really enjoy makeup and beauty stuff, and I am getting more into skincare (the more my skin clears up the more excited I get about rubbing chemicals into it (oh, wait)), especially when it comes to sunscreen. I now have a  Birchbox subscription and am super excited about that, but at the same time I want to focus down my makeup collection to the tried and true holy grail items, so you can watch me struggle through that.

In addition to the makeup stuff I have more time to read books and articles about random stuff online, so I want to talk about that. I have several books sitting in the drawer next to my bed and I can’t wait to read them, but I have to finish the one I’m on before I can start the others. I am frustrated about this. I hope I can finish my current book (That Hideous Strength, oh man, I am in love with C.S. Lewis, guys) by the end of the week so I can move onto some other reads. I enjoy reading a lot and want to share my excitement with others, so hopefully you can enjoy it too.

And finally I get to do some really neat stuff this summer, like going to Colorado on a High Adventure. I cannot wait to talk about the stuff that I see and do, and maybe even food that I eat. I want to talk about it without feeling guilty because it isn’t about food.

I guess that’s why I am telling you this, not because I think that other people on the internet have no interest in what I want to talk about, but because I think people do. I want to say that even though there are more cupcakes and other fine foods to come, there will be a lot more variety than before. Also I won’t have a weekly word count to live up to so post lengths will vary. WOO-HOO FREEDOM!

Spring-Time Food

As the days of the year pass by, it continually gets warmer and the pollen count increases. It’s miserable to be honest. Even though I am not that greatly affected by allergies, I am surrounded by people that are, and I feel for them-it has to be miserable. BUT the weather is as gorgeous as it has ever been, the sun shines, the birds sing (except that’s not so cool at 5:30 on Saturday and Sunday mornings when I greatly need sleep), the back-yard fires burn, the grills grill, and the students stir with the hopes of persuading teachers into holding class outside.

But all of these things cannot compare to the spring food that happens. Whether it’s strawberry cupcakes or caprese chicken, even the food is light and springy.

Let me tell you about this caprese chicken, though. It’s great. That’s all.IMG_7306

Just kidding, not that it’s not great, but that is not all I’ll tell you about it. The recipe comes from Iowa Girl Eats. Have I told you that I greatly enjoy her blog? I really do.

I pretty much did everything that she did, but I didn’t do it in the same order, so my chicken looks a bit different. To start, you’ll need as many chicken breasts as you have mouths to feed (unless you have a guest that has two mouths, then you should ask them how many helpings they want, ’cause who knows how many stomachs they have?!?). Make sure these are defrosted, then pound them out so that they are nice and flat.

While this is happening have your kitchen buddy wilt down some spinach with some olive oil and minced garlic. Once it’s wilted, let it cool until you need it.

So the chicken is nice and flat, the spinach is wilted, and magically the mozzarella and tomatoes are sliced. Make sure everything is in close reach, because your hands may get messy. To start, place some of the spinach mixture on one side of the chicken, then lay a piece of basil on top of it. Then a couple of tomato slices, and a couple of moz slices right on top of that. Fold the chicken over and stick a toothpick or two in it to secure the chicken.IMG_7298 Salt and pepper them a little and pop ’em in the oven at 350 until the chicken is cooked.IMG_7304

We ate it with roasted broccoli, just like Kristen did in her post. The whole thing was wonderful. I love how light and springy it was. I don’t know what I’ll do in the summer when I want to make it but don’t really want to turn the oven on. Hmm. Oh well, I’ll make it work.

The Best Sign of Appreciation

Cupcakes.

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People feel very appreciated when you give them homemade cupcakes. And they should,  I really do appreciate my teachers. And to show them I made some strawberry cupcakes for teacher appreciation week.

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“Round these here parts the weather has been a roller-coaster ride, but mostly it has been spring like (at least the past two days). I felt like strawberry was the best direction to head with the cupcakes.

So to make these cupcakes you should go check out this page and follow their instructions. It’s pretty simple, even though it does require cake flour and I have never used it before.

I’m sure you could use frozen strawberries to make the puree that goes into both the cake and the icing, but fresh works out best. The flavor will still come through, but you know, it might not be the same.

These have a real strawberry flavor that just shines. It really tastes like strawberries, and doesn’t taste artificial like what you get when you make the box mixes.

Also, the light pink color of the cake comes right from the puree, and even though I added a little red coloring to the frosting to liven it up, you really don’t have to.

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If you plan on frosting them with a knife, I would have to recommend cutting the icing recipe in half because you will end up with extra and it will spill out of your container when you try to close it.

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And it will end up on your counter. Nobody wants that.

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Overall, these cupcakes are spectacular, and would make any teacher (or mother (because tomorrow is mother’s day)) feel greatly appreciated. Because I do appreciate them, whether they force me to do my pre calc or my physics or teach a subject that I really enjoy, and they should really know how much they mean to me.

If you really don’t want to follow the link, this is the recipe, From Blissfully Delicious, again, it’s a wonderful recipe and a great blog

“Ingredients

Cake

2 cups fresh and ripe strawberries, washed, stemmed and hulled

2 1/3 cups cake flour

1 3/4 cups sugar

3 1/2 tsps baking powder

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 egg whites

1 tsp vanilla

Strawberry Butter-cream Frosting

3 sticks unsalted butter at room temp

4 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted

1/4 cup fresh strawberry puree reserved earlier

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions

Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place paper cupcake liners into standard-size muffin pans. Puree the strawberries in a food processor. Measure 3/4 cup for the batter and reserve 1/4 cup for the butter cream.

Sift the cake flour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the sugar and baking powder and blend on low just until combined. Add the butter and strawberry puree and mix on low until combined. In a separate bowl whisk together the egg whites and vanilla. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and mix on low, scraping bowl as needed. Mix on medium a few more seconds until well combined. Using a 1 tablespoon scoop, scoop batter into mini cupcake liners.

Bake for about 10-12 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Bake about 20 mins for standard cupcakes. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, remove from pan and allow them to cool on a cooling rack.

Strawberry Butter-cream Frosting

Cream butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the confectioners sugar about a cup at a time and beat just until blended.

Add the puree and vanilla, scrape bowl as needed and beat until the buttercream is light and fluffy, approximately 3-5 minutes (mine was perfect at about a minute).

Frost cupcakes and decorate as your heart desires.

Yield: 72 mini muffins or 20 standard cupcakes”

It’s a Cookie in a Skillet

There’s a craze in the fine country of ours. It’s a craze of wonderfully gooey and chocolaty goodness. It is a craze of skillet cookies topped with ice cream and eaten with a group of loved ones, normally at a restaurant and for a special occasion. People gather around a table and the server brings out a cast iron skillet of some sort with the cookie inside and a nice big ball of vanilla ice cream on top (it’s already starting to melt by this time, bless its soul). the cookie is still hot, but y’all cannot wait to scoop it up and shove it in your face because it’s that good.

I attempted this yesterday, and I would have to say that it turned out pretty darn wonderful. I had a wonderful day a State Large Group Festival, with four events that all went well, and so we had something to celebrate, but it was only the three of us and we needed to not consume a huge ten inch cookie, so I did something a little different that what was described above, but stay tuned and you’ll hear what that difference was.IMG_7258

To start, preheat your oven to that magic number of 350 and mix up a batch of cookies, THIS recipe does wonders.

Then, take your wonderful friend of a cast iron skillet and put a good layer of cookie dough down and squish it around to make sure that it’s even and not awkward.

Now pop it in the oven until it’s just barely golden brown on the top and take it out of the oven to cool. If you can’t eat it all at once, let it go just a smidgen longer and it will look like this.IMG_7259

Now let it cool for just a couple of moments and then slice it up, serve it with some ice cream and then cry because you have finally witnessed beauty for the first time in your life ever (I’m kidding, that was when you heard music, but still this is also a wonderful experience).IMG_7265

I would like to take this time to remind you that you are a wonderful person and should be celebrated, as is your mother. You could make this for her for next weekend, I’m sure she would love it. I know my mom enjoyed it.

The Best Way to Make a Pizza

You know how I received a cast iron skillet for my birthday, then a few months later I ended up with a second one? Yeah, that happened, so we have been trying to get some good use out of them. One way is bake your pizza in the skillet. I know that there are tons of deep-dish skillet pizza recipes out there, especially on the food pages of Reddit, but trust me, you can use what ever process you want and it will turn out fine as long as you are mindful of it.

To start, you want to preheat your oven to whatever temp that you normally use when you make pizza (whatever temp that your crust recipe tells you, I guess). Then make the dough for you crust, doing whatever you normally do, we use a box mix that turns out pretty nice normally.

Once the dough is ready to be worked with, squish it into the skillet, all the way to the edges, you don’t have to make a crust around the edges, but it kind of just happens anyway.IMG_7248

Once this has been accomplished, spread the sauce around and top it with what ever toppings you like. We went with pepperoni, Canadian bacon, sausage, and small pieces of bacon.IMG_7250

Throw it in the oven until it looks beautiful, just like then. Pull it out and let it cool for a few moments then cut it up and serve it up.IMG_7251

The crust wasn’t incredibly thick, but the edges were nice, and it was pretty. It’s not the only way to ever to pizza, but it sure is one of the best.IMG_7255

Make sure that you have fun with your cast iron skillet, folks.

Bruschetta

When the time comes to admit that eat way too many carbs, you can be sad, but that time is not today. I don’t mean to make light of the situation that you may encounter with the negatives of high glycemic index foods, but it’s okay to eat bread once in a while.

This is the best way to do it other than eating it straight off the loaf._MG_7246

Bruschetta is the bomb. There are a bunch of different views on what’s the “right way” of making it, but my opinion is that the right way is the way that makes you happy and you are comfortable with. Some like garlic, some don’t (if that’s your stance, I’m sorry but your opinion is wrong), some think that you should have some balsamic reduction with it, and some people think that you should construct it before you serve it while others believe that you should let those that are eating it pile the tomatoes at their own discretion. If you want to see just how different people do things, google bruschetta and see all the variations, from Alton Brown to Ree Drummond and many others in between.

Personally I just like bread and garlic but if there are tomatoes, basil, or balsamic on there too, I’m just that much more excited. So here’s how it went down on Wednesday. (By the way, it was really nice outside and I was able to get some good pictures with natural light because of this, too bad that it went downhill from there, I mean there’s snow around the state!)

To start, I minced up some fresh garlic and threw it in a bowl. Then I diced up some pretty little roma tomatoes, and threw them into the bowl as well. I ground some black pepper (not too much) straight in there too and sprinkled some grated parmesan to give it a little something special. Then I mixed it all together and let it sit while I toasted up some bread. However you toast bread, do it that way, in the oven, in a buttered skillet, under the broiler, in your toaster oven, on the grill, WHATEVER! I did it in the oven at 375 and kept my eyes on it to ensure that burning did not happen.

Once the bread is toasted to your liking, let it cool for a few moments and then get ready to top.

Since I did not have any basil in the tomatoes, I used pesto and got basil flavor there. If you are familiar with making pesto you can use your own, if not, you can but a jar from the grocery store and use that. We haven’t made pesto (I promise that I will, also humus because humus is beautiful) so we use stuff from a jar.

Spread some of the pesto onto each piece of bread then top it with the tomatoes and stuff. Serve to hungry parents, children, or even friends. They’ll like it, I promise._MG_7241

One thing to be mindful of though, is that the garlic that ends up in the tomato mixture is raw, so make sure that it’s cut small enough or if you are really scared of the garlic monster, saute it just a bit before you put it in with the tomatoes (obviously you should let it cool so that you don’t end up cooking the tomatoes too). Another option would be to roast some garlic and mush it up and mix that into the tomatoes, it will give it a nice sweet flavor, but it would still be fantastic.

I really want to eat more of it right now, but school is in the way of that.