Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

What I love about today’s post is that upon reading the title everyone in my family will immediately know who this recipe is celebrating. My grandma does not like many foods, but she certainly loves her vanilla ice cream. Of course she would not prefer how it’s pictured here; sprinkles and toppings are a huge no-no. But if she were in my apartment this quart of ice cream would be gone in two, three days tops. You may think I’m kidding, but I am not.

In continuing my Mother’s Day celebration I’m posting this vanilla ice cream to wish my grandma a happy Mother’s Day. My grandma lived with us for eight years so I was lucky enough to develop an extra special relationship with her. If your best friend is someone who you can share anything with, who supports you no matter what, who never judges you, who loves you with all their heart, and who can make you laugh so hard you spit milk out your nose, then my grandma was, and still is, my best friend.

Although we now swap stories over the phone rather than during weekly shopping trips since she is many miles away, I am so fortunate to have such a compassionate and strong person be such a large part of my life. So forget a “dear little bit” and treat yourself to a whole quart of vanilla ice cream this Mother’s Day!

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
 
Yield: 1 quart
Ingredients
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream, divided
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the sugar, milk, 1 cup of the cream and salt. Once warm, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the saucepan and add the scraped bean as well. Cover the saucepan, remove from the heat and steep for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  2. Place the remaining cup of cream into a large bowl. Set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl then set set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl whisk the egg yolks then slowly pour the steeped milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, to temper the eggs. Pour the milk and egg mixture back into the saucepan. Constantly stir the mixture over medium heat with a heatproof spatula making sure to scrape the bottom and not let any clumps form. Continue stirring until the mixture is thick enough to coat the spatula.
  4. Remove the mixture from the heat and pour it through the mesh strainer into the large bowl with the heavy cream. Stir until combined then mix in the vanilla extract. Add the vanilla bean as well.
  5. Insert the bowl into an ice bath and continue stirring until cool.
  6. Chill the mixture in the fridge. Once cold, remove the vanilla bean then the custard into your ice cream maker following the manufacturer’s directions.

Recipe from The Perfect Scoop.

Chicken Cacciatore with Mushrooms and Artichokes

I am shocked and I hope you are utterly disappointed in me. This is only the third pasta recipe that has been posted on Lemon & Mocha. The nerve of me! Pasta is one of my all-time favorite foods. I certainly can’t pick a single favorite because that would be like choosing between children or classic Nickelodeon shows, but pasta is way high up there on the list. So it is only fitting that this post featuring Lemon & Mocha’s second ever pasta recipe is also commemorating another special day: Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day is this Sunday and I wanted to do something special. I am a firm believer in thinking positive, looking for the good in the bad and trusting life’s course. So I can only say that I am both lucky and blessed to have, and have had, three amazing mothers in my life.

Today I am posting this savory linguine with chicken, mushrooms and artichokes dish to celebrate my wonderful stepmom. As you learned back on her birthday, many of my favorite foods and ingredients are the result of my stepmom and her determination to have me eat something other than macaroni and fish sticks for the rest of my life.

This dish is my interpretation of one she used to make to get us to try new things. I know you probably think I’m being ridiculous, but my dad, brother and I were not initially familiar with shredded chicken in pasta and mushrooms on our plate. The original dish had olives, but I substituted artichokes, another food my stepmom opened my eyes to. I am so thankful to have such a great supporter, caring person and friend in my life. Sometimes the best mothers in your life are the ones that don’t go by “mom”, but love you just the same.

Chicken Cacciatore with Mushrooms and Artichokes
 
Yield: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound split skinless chicken breasts, bone-in
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 12 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1 26-ounce jar of tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ cup artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves, about 4 leaves
  • ⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • ½ pound cooked linguine
Directions
  1. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown it, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium on the stockpot and add the remaining olive oil. Add the garlic and shallots and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté until browned, about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Push the mushrooms to the side so that there’s room on the bottom of the stockpot and return the chicken to the pot.
  3. Add the tomato sauce and sugar. Lightly stir then bring the pot to a boil before covering and reducing to a simmer on medium-low heat. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
  4. Keeping the sauce warm, remove the chicken, shred off the bone with 2 forks, then return to the sauce. Add the artichokes, basil and Parmesan to the sauce. Add the linguine and stir to coat. Serve topped with fresh Parmesan, if desired.

 

Black Forest Cupcakes

Ever since I discovered how simple it is to fill cupcakes I have become obsessed with creating multi-component mini cakes. The added layers of complexity take an already delicious treat from a “yum” moment to a “wow” moment. Or, if you’re lucky, a “wow-I-can’t-breath-because-I’m-too-busy-shoving-this-amazing-cupcake-in-my-mouth” moment.

When I was challenged with creating a cupcake rendition of the German classic Black Forest cake I set right to work. The essential makings of a Black Forest cake are chocolate cake, whipped cream and cherries. The chocolate cake aspect was easy as I already have my perfect chocolate cupcake recipe memorized. I decided to keep the filling simple by using pre-made cherry preserves to give me more time to focus on the whipped cream, but you can certainly make the cherry preserves yourself if you are feeling extra ambitious.

Before getting to the whipped cream topping I knew these cupcakes had to have a little something extra. Although the cupcakes are chocolate I wanted something additional since more chocolate is always better. The most delightful chocolate ganache was hardened on the top of each cupcake to create a wonderful hard shell to contrast the lightness of the fluffy frosting, while also helping cover up the incision marks from filling the cupcakes.

Then onto the final piece: the whipped cream. The whipped cream would have to be light and airy, while still being sturdy enough to act as a frosting for the cupcake. With a bit of tinkering I achieved the perfect texture and was soon piping it into my mouth. I mean onto the cupcakes. Topped with some shaved chocolate and a fresh cherry the Black Forest cupcakes were completed. When you make these cupcakes be sure to admire their beauty before serving them as they won’t last very long!

Black Forest Cupcakes
 
Yield: 24 cupcakes
Ingredients
for the cupcakes
  • 1 batch Perfect Chocolate Cupcakes
  • 1½ cups cherry preserves
  • 1 cup chocolate ganache
  • 1 ounce chocolate
  • 24 cherries
for the frosting
  • 1 8-ounce package reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon lemon extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream, chilled
Directions
for the cupcakes
  1. Using a cupcake corer, apple corer, or knife create a large cavity in the center of each cupcake. Reserve the top of the removed cupcake piece. Fill the cavity with a tablespoon of the cherry preserves. Place the top of the removed cupcake piece on top of the cherry preserves to seal the cupcake back up. Place the cupcakes in the fridge to chill.
  2. Remove the cupcakes from the fridge and carefully pour chocolate ganache over the top of each cupcake to coat it. It’s okay if it doesn’t look pretty because it’s going to be topped with frosting. Place it in the fridge for the ganache to harden.
for the frosting
  1. Whip the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and lemon extract in a metal bowl of a stand mixer until fluffy. Transfer to medium bowl then chill in the fridge.
  2. Clean out the bowl of the stand mixer and chill with the whisk attachment in the freezer for 10 minutes. Once the bowl has had a chance to chill, whip the heavy cream on high speed until stiff peaks start to form, but be sure not to over-beat the cream or it will break. Remove the bowl of cream cheese mixture from the fridge and gently fold in the whipped cream.
  3. Remove the ganache-topped cupcakes from the fridge. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a round thick tip with the frosting. Hold the pastry tip over the center of a cupcake and squeeze until a large dollop covers most of the cupcake. Using a microplane, shave some chocolate over the whipped cream frosting and top with a cherry. Repeat for the remaining cupcakes. Store in the fridge until serving.

Frosting adapted from allrecipes

Double Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

I wasn’t always a chocolate ice cream person. During the years of my youth I was a vanilla ice cream gal. Well, my true preference was a chocolate-vanilla swirl, but you can’t always have it all. When forced to decide between chocolate and vanilla at the hands of ice cream or no ice cream, clearly a situation of life or death, I would choose vanilla.

Sometime during my preteen years I smartened up and converted to my current chocolate ice cream ways. I like to attribute the switch to me being older and wiser, but it was probably due to hormones. Lets stick with the older and wiser thing though.

Now I don’t have anything against vanilla ice cream. I love vanilla ice cream. I try not to discriminate against any flavors of the frozen sugary variety, unless it’s mint ice cream. What is that monstrosity? Anyways, all I’m saying is that all vanilla based ice creams are better in chocolate form. Chocolate chip cookie dough, cookies and cream and peanut butter cup ice cream are all delicious vanilla based ice creams. But put them against chocolate chocolate chip cookie dough, chocolate cookies and cream and chocolate peanut butter cup ice cream? Not even close!

Today I’m sharing a rich and chocolate-filled ice cream. Double chocolate chip ice cream. The question becomes is it chocolate ice cream with extra added chips or is it a vanilla based chocolate chip classic turned to the delicious dark side? The answer, my friends, is both. In my humble chocolate obsessed opinion there is no better way to improve upon a vanilla based ice cream than by turning it into a chocolate based ice cream, and there is no better way to upgrade a chocolate ice cream than by adding even more chocolate. So where do you stand in the oldest debate of time: chocolate or vanilla?

Double Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
 
Yield: about 1 quart
Ingredients
  • 2 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 5 ounces semisweet (or bittersweet) chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small chunks
Directions
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat warm 1 cup of the cream with the cocoa powder. Whisk until the cocoa is blended then bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to simmer for 30 seconds, whisking continuously.
  2. Remove the saucepan from the heat before adding the chopped chocolate and stirring until smooth. Add the remaining cup of cream, stir, then pour the whole mixture into a large bowl. Place a mesh strainer on top of the bowl.
  3. Using the same saucepan combine the milk, sugar and salt over medium heat until warm. In a medium bowl whisk the egg yolks then slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, to temper the eggs. Pour the milk and egg mixture back into the saucepan. Constantly stir the mixture over medium heat with a heatproof spatula making sure to scrape the bottom and not let any clumps form. Continue stirring until the mixture is thick enough to coat the spatula.
  4. Remove the mixture from the heat and pour it through the mesh strainer into the large bowl with the chocolate mixture. Stir until combined then mix in the vanilla extract.
  5. Insert the bowl into an ice bath and continue stirring until cool.
  6. Chill the mixture in the fridge. Once cold, pour into your ice cream maker following the manufacturer's directions. During the last 5 minutes pour in the cup of chocolate chunks.
Notes
I prefer to use Ghiradelli chocolate.

Recipe from The Perfect Scoop.

Asian Sesame Mashed Potatoes

I promise these are real mashed potatoes. They aren’t secretly pumpkin cupcakes or some bizarre looking vanilla cotton candy. It’s April 24th, not April 1st. There is, however, a surprise to these mashed potatoes. They don’t taste like any mashed potatoes you have ever had the pleasure of tasting. Sometimes expanding our tastebuds into unfamiliar territories is a good thing. This is one of those times.

When contemplating what to serve with Tuesday’s pacific halibut foil packets with shiitakes and snap peas I could only think of my two asian food standbys:  rice and noodles. Both seemed like fine, but very boring, options for a dish with a light and thin sauce. There was one comment on the original recipe that mentioned serving it with mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes and asian cuisine? It certainly seemed like an odd combination so of course I knew I had to try it.

The humble potato is pretty bland on its own and tends to take on whatever flavor profile it is intertwined with, usually butter, milk and salt for the purpose of mashed potatoes. Mimicking some of the asian flavors in the fish dish would, hopefully, provide the perfect complement. And it did! Success! These mashed potatoes were so uniquely tasty and I can’t wait to serve them with stir-fries, sesame chicken or even to jazz up a meal of simple grilled chicken.

I kept the side dish as healthy as one can when we’re talking about mashed potatoes by substituting Greek yogurt for the usual milk or cream. The potatoes are creamy with a strong nuttiness from the toasted sesame oil. Give it a shot and let your tastebuds venture into delicious unfamiliar territory.

Asian Sesame Mashed Potatoes
 
Yield: 2 servings
Ingredients
  • 3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” cubes
  • 4 ounces plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
Directions
  1. Boil the potatoes in a large saucepan for 30 minutes, or until they are very tender. Drain the potatoes using a colander then place the cooked potatoes back in the pot.
  2. Mash the potatoes very well then add the Greek yogurt, butter, sesame oil, salt and pepper. Mash again until the potatoes are well mixed and fluffy. Adjust sesame oil, salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds on top and serve hot.

Recipe slightly adapted from myrecipes.