Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Blueberry Curd

Way back in March when I posted about Edie's 1st birthday, I mentioned that I was going to share the blueberry curd recipe that I used for the filling of her cake. Then the snow melted and I quietly disappeared to enjoy the rest of spring, summer, and a good chunk of fall playing with my kids. Now Abe's back at preschool three mornings a week, Edie's settled into taking one long afternoon nap, and I have a bit more quiet time than I'm used to. So yeah. Welcome to my first post in almost 6 months! It's a yummy one.

Blueberry Curd

2 cups frozen blueberries
zest & juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup juice)
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cubed

1. Combine blueberries with the lemon zest and juice in a 2-quart saucepan, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Blueberries should be very soft. Let cool.

2. Gently smash the berries that haven't burst and pour through a fine mesh sieve. Press with a rubber spatula to extract juice from the berries. Discard skins. Strain juice again (but don't press) to separate the seeds from the juice.  You should end up with about 3/4 cup of blueberry/lemon juice.

3. In the same saucepan, whisk together 3/4 cup blueberry juice, sugar, eggs, and butter. Cook over medium low, stirring often, until all of the butter is melted and the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

4. Optional - Strain mixture a final time (pressing if needed) to remove any remaining seeds or bits of cooked egg.

5. Cooled curd can be kept in the refrigerator for 2 weeks, or poured into freezer safe containers and kept in the freezer for up to a year. Thaw in the refrigerator before serving.

Makes about 2 cups.

A few notes:

* I've found that recipes that call for more sugar than fruit juice tend to be too sweet. You can add up to 3/4 cup sugar to this recipe, but I think you taste the flavor of the fruit more if you use less sugar.

* Straining at the end really helps remove tiny bits of cooked egg, seeds, and fruit skins ensuring you get the smoothest curd possible.

* Blueberry and citrus curds are excellent for filling cakes, cookies, donuts, or even just spreading on biscuits or toast. They're also great mixed with plain yogurt. Mmm....

Last winter, before I attempted making blueberry curd (the first recipe I followed was a terrible failure - way too sweet, and too gritty from the unstrained seeds and skins), I made a whole batch of citrus curds. Pictured above are blood orange, cranberry, lemon, and lime. Below are links to the recipes I followed and my notes for what I'd change about each one.

* This lemon curd recipe is fantastic as is - no changes recommended except to double (or triple) it!

* I used the same recipe just replacing the lemon for lime to make a lime curd, and it was good although a bit strong. I think a bit less lime zest or a little more sugar would have fixed that.

* My blood orange curd turned out sweeter than I would have liked following this recipe. Cut back to 1/2 cup of sugar since the blood oranges are sweeter than lemons and limes. This one had a really beautiful floral scent and flavor!

* This cranberry curd didn't have a strong cranberry flavor. May have been better with less water and perhaps the addition of some fresh orange juice and zest.

* I don't have a picture of this one (made it over the summer instead of last winter like the rest), but this rhubarb curd is great too. Next time I'll have to try making the rhubarb bars that go with it!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Bunny Bait & Easter Eggs

It's not often that I pin something one day and make it the next, but Edie and I had to make a Target run yesterday, and while we were there I picked up the ingredients to make this trail mix

Abe's been interested in cooking lately so I thought he might like to help. I should have known from past experience though, that when it comes to sweets, his only interest is in "quality control."

I basically followed Kellie's recipe except I didn't measure anything. Since I made enough for a crowd I used 2 bags of salted popcorn (I prefer the contrast of salty and sweet), 1 bag of Annie's Honey Bunnies, about half a bag of bunny marshmallows, 1 bag of peanut butter M&M speckled eggs, and the chocolate chips from a bag of Nestle Springtime Morsels. I separated out the pink and yellow morsels and melted those down to drizzle over the mixture in place of the white chocolate called for in the recipe. 

Also, I discovered this egg-dyeing technique on Pinterest and thought I'd share it. I thought it would be a good way to prevent Edie from completely smashing her eggs like Abe used to when he was little

It worked really well...until she dumped the entire mug of dye on her tray. When I took the tray off to pour the dye down the sink, she threw the whisk on the floor, successfully breaking her first egg! I guess some things are just meant to be...

Hope you all have a happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sour Cherry Ice Cream

I've never met Lindsay Clendaniel of Scoop Adventures in real life, but I started following her blog a few years back when I was feeling a bit "homesick" and started searching for blogs about New Orleans. She was living there at the time, and although she wasn't really posting anything about the city, her beautiful photos and intriguing ice cream recipes immediately drew me in. Every time I visit her site I find at least three recipes I want to make RIGHT NOW! (Peppermint Cookie or Black Raspberry Chip anyone?) And if you take the time to scroll through my Frozen Deliciousness board on Pinterest, you'll find an absurd number of pins from Lindsay's blog. (For real, sometimes I feel like a bit of a stalker...) So of course I was thrilled when Lindsay asked me to be part of the blog tour for her new cookbook, Scoop Adventures: The Best Ice Cream of the 50 States!

The day her cookbook arrived on my doorstep, we had just gotten a few fresh inches of snow. After a winter that saw us hitting temperatures at or below 0°F for 53 days, you'd think the last thing I'd want to think about was ice cream, but that night I curled up in bed with Lindsay's book and read the whole thing cover to cover! (Well, not the WHOLE thing. I didn't read the ingredients and instructions for each recipe, but I did read all the yummy descriptions. Is that weird?) 

Most of Lindsay's book is dedicated to recipes she's collected from ice cream shops around the country (at least one from each state). I'm embarrassed to say I still haven't tried the Dark Chocolate Zin from Izzy's Ice Cream here in Minnesota. I know they've been serving it at the State Fair for a few years now and every year I walk into the Minnesota Wine Country booth with the best intentions...but usually leave with a flight of local wines instead of the scoop of Izzy's ice cream I went in for. I won't make that mistake/totally-not-a-mistake again. This summer I'll get both!

At any rate, Scoop Adventures is filled with beautiful photos and lots of great recipes I can't wait to try! I think I'll start with Blueberry Mojito, Huckleberry, Mayan Chocolate, Honey Sunflower Seed, and Rosemary Honey Walnut, and I'm dying to make the Purple Cow and Peanut Butter & Jelly ice cream for my kids! For the blog tour though, I picked Sour Cherry...

I'm not sure where I thought I was living when I agreed to mix up a batch of sour cherry ice cream in April, especially when the recipe calls for fresh cherries which aren't in season in Minnesota until the end of July. #rookiemistake Luckily, Lindsay assured me that I could substitute frozen sour cherries, and after stopping at four different grocery stores, I finally found some organic ones at Whole Foods! (Her recipe also gives instructions for substituting sweet cherries if that's the best you can find.) I usually prefer chocolate or minty ice creams, but this was sooo good. I shared a little bit with the family and ate the rest myself

Colorado Sour Cherry Ice Cream
Makes 1½ quarts (1.4 L)

Inspired by the vibrant red sour cherries grown on the western slopes of Colorado, this flavor packs a punch with elements of tart, sweet and tangy. Sweet Action creates ice creams made with fresh and seasonal ingredients, so the owners only feature this gem of a flavor on their menu when cherries are at their peak season. Lucky for you, they have chosen to share their recipe so you can make this ice cream whenever cherries are in season near your home.

3 cups (465g) sour cherries, pitted
1 ¼ cups (250g) sugar, divided
1 tbsp (15ml) lemon juice
2 cups (473ml) heavy cream
1 cup (237ml) whole milk

Combine cherries with ¾ cup (150g) of the sugar and lemon juice. Allow the cherries to macerate in the refrigerator for approximately 6 hours, stirring every hour. Purée the macerated cherries in a blender. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the cherry skins; reserve the juice. Reserve 2 tablespoons (30g) of the cherry skins and discard the remaining skins.

Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside. Combine the remaining ½ cup (100g) sugar with the heavy cream and whole milk and place over medium heat. Bring the milk mixture to a low boil. Cook until the sugar dissolves, 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer to a medium bowl and set in the ice water bath to cool, 20 minutes, whisking occasionally. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.

When you are ready to churn, combine the reserved sour cherry juice and the milk mixture in an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When churning is near completion, add the reserved cherry skins (adjust based on personal preference). Complete churning, transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

Note: If you cannot find sour or tart cherries, you may substitute sweet cherries. To prepare the cherries, pit and halve before macerating. Add ½ teaspoon citric acid during maceration. The ice cream will not taste exactly the same, but it will still be tart and delicious.

Recipe from Scoop Adventures by Lindsay Clendaniel  
(Page Street Publishing; March 2014)
Printed with permission

And hey, there's a giveaway! You have three chances to enter, but first you must leave a comment below with the most adventurous flavor of ice cream you've tried so far. (I can't remember mine, but I'm pretty sure it had beer in it.) Then click on the Rafflecopter widget to confirm that you've commented and unlock additional ways to enter. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be chosen by a random drawing and notified by email within 24 hours of the close of the contest. If no response is received within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.

Disclosure: I was given a free copy of the cookbook to review, but it was already on my Amazon wishlist when they contacted me, so I would have bought it anyway. Did I mention I stalk Lindsay's blog

Friday, January 31, 2014

Football Stamps

My team (the Denver Broncos) is going to the Super Bowl and I'm not planning a party. What is wrong with me!? Perhaps it's because it's harder to actually watch the game when your house is full of people...and I intend to watch this game! (So if you're looking for party ideas you can check out our Super Bowl party from a couple years ago.) The best I've got for today is a football themed art project for kids.

1. Use a white charcoal pencil or paint pen to draw field lines and numbers on a sheet of green construction paper. 

2. Fold an empty toilet paper roll in half and let it pop back up to make a football shape. 

3. Dip the end of the toilet paper roll in brown paint and stamp footballs on the field.

4. Hang it up as is, or fold it in half to use as a greeting card for your favorite football fan!

Have a great weekend, and if you're watching, enjoy the game!