I’ve Been Keeping Something From You

No. I am not pregnant. (Matt, you can stop freaking out)

Last Christmas (as in 2011), I received a life changing present from my mother-in-law: ice cream!

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Or more accurately, the ability to make homemade ice cream whenever I want. I know, I can’t believe I haven’t told you this until now either.

Over the past year, every time I made ice cream, I was shocked at how easy the process was and how quickly I was able to make it. I was even more shocked/embarrassed about how quickly Matt and I ate it. As a result, I haven’t had any pictures to show of the process. That is, until now.

For the Super Bowl party, not only did I make a cake, but I made ice cream as well! And thankfully, Matt helped document the process this time (and yes, this is why the pictures show my tummy hanging out of my shirt and a desperate need for new nail polish. Thanks for the warning Matt!)

I decided to make my favorite flavor: Ben & Jerry’s Oreo Mint  (along with the ice cream maker attachment, I also received the Ben & Jerry’s recipe book)

Ben & Jerry’s Oreo Mint Ice Cream

2/3 cup oreo’s, coarsely chopped (I use at least 2 cups and I prefer double stuffed)
2 large eggs
¾ cup sugar
2 cups heavy or whipping cream
1 cup milk
2 tspn peppermint extract

Place the cookies in a bowl, cover and refrigerate.

Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Eggs
Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more.

Sugar

MilkCreamEggs
Pour in the cream and milk and whisk to blend. Add the peppermint extract and blend again.

Milk

Wisking

Peppermint
Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following manufacturer’s instructions.

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Freezing
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After the ice cream stiffens, about 2 minutes before it is done, add the chopped cookies and stir still blended (you may need to use a spatula or wooden spoon for this part).

Oreos

Transfer to a freezer proof container and  continue freezing until the ice cream is ready (minimum of 1 hour).

Done

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Makes 1 quart.

Be prepared – this will go quickly. It went so quickly at the party that I didn’t even have time to photograph the ice cream in my super cute paper cups.

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Here’s to many more ice cream flavors. The sky is really the limit on this one!

I’m Cheating on My KitchenAid Mixer

My favorite kitchen appliance is my KitchenAid mixer. I coveted one for years. And then, after Matt and I moved in together and after I secured a new (and desperately needed) job, a KitchenAid mixer appeared in the mail. My mother, who never owned a one herself, bought me the cobalt blue mixer.

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From the minute I turned it on, I was in love. Making cookies became easier, beating frosting didn’t require holding a mixer for 15 minutes and after my mother-in-law bought me the ice cream attachment, the love affair escalated. I’ve purchased many off friends’ wedding registries and got one for my mom last Christmas. Honestly, I don’t know how she lived without for 60(ish) years. Nothing could tear me away from my KitchenAid.

That is… until my Crock-Pot came along.

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When Matt and I got engaged, registering fro Kitchen appliances, gadgets, pots, pans and dishes was a highlight. With my limited kitchen space in NYC, I hesitated to put a crock pot on the list. Thankfully my mom convinced me, saying even if I could use it now, I would want it in the future. So I registered for one.

My soon-to-be sister-in-law bought Matt and I our crock pot for our shower. I was super excited to receive this gift, but I knew there was no way I could store it at our apartment. So, sadly, like many of our other shower and wedding gifts, I packed it into my bedroom closet at my parents house. And then, I forgot about it.

Not because I didn’t appreciate the gift, but because I didn’t have room for it. However, every time I return to NH, I open that closet and feel an incredible sense of frustration that I have these wonderful, nice things that I simply don’t have room for. And pinterest made it worse.

When I joined pinterest, I immediately started using the site for recipes. And much to my chagrin, a huge number of the recipes I would come across were for crock pots and slow cookers. And I didn’t have one (in my possession). Eventually, it was just too much. After Thanksgiving, I hauled the large box back to NYC and spent a few hours strategically moving things around. Finally I found a spot for the crock pot!

A few days later, I pulled it out and fired it up. The first recipe I made was one recommend by Matt’s mom: white chicken chili (recipe below). I put the ingredients in  before work and by the time I came home, our apartment was filled  was delicious aromas and the cooking was done! It was amazing, delicious and the clean up was just one pot. After dinner, I hopped on my computer and started looking up more crock pot recipes. I was hooked.

It wasn’t long before the crock pot took the place of my KitchenAid. Baking cookies and making ice cream was replaced with chilis, pulled pork and soup. Matt didn’t complain by my co-workers started to question what was going on.

While I can’t say with conviction which is my favorite – I can definitely say that in our 800 sq. ft. apartment, I’m happy to designate at least 10 sq feet to my ever-growing collection of kitchen appliances!

Crock Pot Cream Cheese Chicken Chili

2-3 boneless chicken breast halves (can be still frozen)

2 cans Rotel tomatoes

2 cans corn kernels, do not drain

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 pkg. Ranch dressing mix(dry)

1 ½  T cumin

1 ½  t chili powder

1 8-oz pkg. cream cheese

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Put the chicken in the crock pot.

Top with the tomatoes, corn, drained and rinsed beans,ranch dressing, cumin, and chili powder; stir to combine.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours, stir and add cream cheese.  Cook on high 1 more hour.

Shred the chicken into large pieces, stir to combine all.

Be Your Own Boss – Cupcake Kids!

When I was in college, I had a friend, Jessi Walter, who was a few years older than me, that I looked up to like a sister. She was one of the nicest people I had ever met, extremely smart, and would give me advice whenever I asked for it (which was probably too often!) I loved hanging around her room – it was clean and organized and she had the most amazing hand-painted furniture.  I always felt like I was in a real house, as opposed to a dorm room when I went over there. Whenever I was there, I just felt happy.

I am so glad that we have reminded friends over the years. She is still one of the nicest people I have ever met, extremely smart, and she still gives me advice on life. Now, instead of hanging out in her dorm room,  we hang out in the Cupcake Kids! kitchen.  Every time I walk into the space, I feel that same sense of happiness, that I felt when I walked into her dorm room many years ago.

The idea for Cupcake Kids! was born when Jessi Walter decided to combine her love of kids and food in a practical way. Jessi set out to create a company that would provide students with hands-on cooking experiences designed to provide them with the opportunity to have fun in the kitchen while learning about food and nutrition. Jessi believes that creativity and education in the kitchen play an important role in a child’s development and help kids to build self-confidence and independence. For 4 years, she has been giving this experience to the kids of NYC.

Formerly a Vice President on Wall Street, Jessi’s passion for kids and food and her entrepreneurial spirit have taken her on a new adventure. Jessi graduated from Harvard in 2003, where she earned an economics degree and was a member of the Women’s Swim Team. As one of the oldest of 23 cousins, she has a passion for kids and their development. In her previous life as a swimmer, Jessi started a company offering technique lessons for young swimmers and brought the same enthusiasm and fundamentals to the pool as she brings to the kitchen today.

What sets Jessi and Cupcake Kids! apart from other child-centered companies is the pride that Jessi takes in her work and ultimately in her company. I’ve had the pleasure of helping out with Cupcake Kids! for the past 2 years. Jessi’s focus is on coming up with lessons that entertain, as well as educate, the “budding chefs” who visit her kitchen. She wants them to walk out of the kitchen with a smile on their face and a new appreciation for food and a sense of accomplishment. They gain confidence through measuring, mixing and baking. By combining ingredients to make a delicious treat, these children are able to see their successes right before their eyes, and taste them too! The excitement that Jessi, and her teachers, have for cooking and food is passed on to the children.

 I am so proud of Jessi for all that she has accomplished. I am also honored to have been a part of it  and I can not wait to see what the future holds for Cupcake Kids!

Please visit the Cupcake Kids! website to learn more about classes and birthday parties and, visit Facebook to become a fan of Cupcake Kids!

I heart KitchenAid

I love getting things in mail. The sense of excitement I get when I open the mail box and see something inside is great. Over the years, I have signed up to receive various catalogues so now, it is a very rare occurrence for me to open the mailbox and see nothing inside. I am embarrassed to say that most of the time, the catalogue goes unread and finds its way into the recycling bin rather quickly. My favorite things to receive in the mail are cards, wedding save the dates and invitations and of course packages. Today was a great day, as I came home to find a package, from a loyal blog reader, waiting and I had no idea what it was.

I brought the box upstairs to our apartment and hurried to open it. Inside was something I have been obsessing over for longer than I would like to admit – a glass, anniversary edition KitchenAid bowl (and just when you thought I couldn’t get any dorkier…)

I have wanted a KitchenAid for years. Basically, as soon as I found Martha Stewart owned one, I wanted one for my own kitchen. Growing up, my mom baked a lot, but for some reason she never upgraded from her hand mixer to a KitchenAid. Once I graduated and got my own apartment the thought of buying myself a KitchenAid as a house-warming present, entered my mind. I just couldn’t justify spending so much money on a present for myself, especially when I wasn’t baking that much. Like my mom, I settled for a hand mixer and added it to my Christmas list that year.

However the thought of the mixer lingered and I visited many Macys, William Sonoma and Bed, Bath and Beyond stores to “visit” the glorious machines. A year ago, I told myself that if I found a new job, I would reward my hard work and finally buy a mixer. I picked out the size and color and was ready to drop more than 300 dollars, so that I too, could bake like Martha. Last June, at the beginning of the month, I was offered my current job. While I had met the requirements I set forth for myself, I still couldn’t bring myself to buy the mixer. Matt and I were moving into a new apartment and I didn’t want to overwhelm him with countless kitchen supplies and tools (Silly me, I actually cared about his opinions back then!)

Well, lo and behold… my mom came to the rescue. She realized that I, much like her, couldn’t justify spending so much money on something that I didn’t really need – the hand mixer worked just fine. Macy’s had a sale one weekend and she purchase me the cobalt blue KicthenAid mixer as a housewarming gift. When it arrive in the mail, it was love at first sight.

Right around the holidays, my parents came to visit me and we stopped in at William Sonoma. I spotting the anniversary edition KitchenAid mixer right away. At first, I wasn’t impressed. The mixer was red, which doesn’t really get me too excited; however, then I noticed the bowl. Unlike my mixer that came with a stainless steel bowl, this one came with a glass bowl. As soon as I saw it, I had to have it. Unfortunately (or fortunately according to Matt) the bowl was not sold separately and I was NOT going to buy another mixer, no matter how much I wanted that bowl.

I have searched for the bowl on google, kitchenaid.com, amazon and eBay. Sadly, all of my searches came up empty. I told my mom of this sadness, which she clearly understood.  I told myself that the stainless steel bowl was perfect as it matched my appliances and I eventually moved on.

However, when I came home from work today and opened this unexpected package, all of my original feelings came rushing back. I immediately washed the bowl and started searching my refrigerator and cupboards to see if I could scavenge together enough ingredients for ANY of my baking recipes. Thankfully I ALWAYS have the basic baking ingredients on hand (flour, sugar, vanilla, eggs, etc) and I was able to bake a vanilla cake.

I am now sitting on the couch, perfectly content with my new glass bowl and my beautiful cakes, which are cooling on wire racks in the kitchen. The delicious smell of melted butter has taken over our apartment and I am happy.

Stay tuned to find out if the cake actually tastes good (Matt will be the judge of that as he is typically my taste tester). I will post pictures tomorrow after I have decorated the cake. Please leave suggestions for decorating ideas. Just remember that I am not Duff from Ace of Cakes, although I wish I was.