Friday, July 31, 2009

Apple??? Crisp and Vanilla Ice Cream

Have you ever wondered what to do with one of these---


I know, you're thinking, "Katrina, that is NOT an apple.  I thought we were going to get some apple crisp here?"  Oh, you just wait.  You've seen those giant overgrown zucchini before.  You probably already know that the much smaller ones are better for using in your savory dishes like stir fry and such.  No one ever seems to want the great big ones.  Well, you probably know those are the ones that are best used in baking things, like zucchini bread and muffins and the like.  You can make this with those overgrown zucchini---


I looks like apple crisp and tastes like apple crisp, but it's really ZUCCHINI crisp and guess what--no one would ever know those aren't apples.  Yep, trust me.  You just can't tell.  Pretty cool.  Quite the sneaky way to get a veggie into your loved ones who won't eat veggies!   I first got this idea from Allrecipes (look up zucchini cobbler) years ago.  I made this for a group of ladies from church and they thought it was apple crisp.  They were VERY surprised when I told them later that it was zucchini.  Many didn't believe me.

Katrina's Zucchini Crisp

1 large zucchini (about 1  1/2-2 lbs.), peeled, seeded and sliced

6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1  1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (a little more or less to you liking)

1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional, I used it and kinda liked it, but it was quite lemony)

Crumb topping:

3/4 cup light golden brown sugar, packed

3/4 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup old fashioned oats

1/8 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, (can be pretty cold from the fridge), cubed

1/3 cup walnuts, chopped

In a large saucepan, combine the zucchini and lemon juice.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spray an 8x8 inch baking dish lightly with cooking spray.  Set aside.  

While the zucchini is cooking, make the crumb topping.  Combine the flour, brown sugar, oats, nuts and salt.  Cut in butter--works best using your hands.  Keep combining by rubbing it all together until you have a crumbly texture.  Set aside.  (The crumb topping can be made ahead and chilled or frozen for later use.)   

Remove the zucchini from the heat and stir in sugar and spices (and zest).  Pour the zucchini mixture into the baking dish.  Top with the crumb mixture.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until topping is golden brown.



This looks good, huh!


Well, not quite as good as the one with ice cream on top!   Oh yeah!

I took notes from a bunch of different ice cream recipes and came up with this one--it's a pretty good vanilla ice cream.  I think it tastes like French Vanilla.

Katrina's French Vanilla Ice Cream

1 can (fat free) sweetened condensed milk

1 can (fat free) evaporated milk

1  1/2 cups whole milk

3 eggs

1/4 cup sugar (may not have been necessary with the sweetened milk)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Warm the condensed milk, evaporated milk and whole milk in a saucepan at medium heat.  In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs.  Whisk in sugar.  When the milk is almost scalded, slowing stir about a cup of the hot milk into the beaten eggs and whisk vigorously.  Pour the rest of the milk into the eggs while whisking.  Pour the custard mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat until it reaches 175 degrees and/or thickens.  Stir constantly with a wooden spoon.    (Don't go over 180 degrees.)  Have an ice bath ready in a large bowl.  Pour the custard back into the bowl that had the eggs, first using a strainer to strain any egg bits from the custard and set that in the ice bath.  (This is my favorite way to "hurry up" the chilling process!)  Stir it often.  When the custard is cold, either churn it in your ice cream maker according to manufacture's instructions (about 25 min.), or chill the custard in the refrigerator.  Up to one day later you can then churn the custard into ice cream.  Serve as soft serve or freeze for an additional 2 hours.


Not only does this make for a great dessert, but it also works as a pretty good breakfast as well!


He wasn't tired enough for a nap in HIS bed, but it only took minutes after he climbed in OUR bed and he was snoozing away.  I'd have to say--our bed is much more comfortable than his (not that I've slept in a crib recently.) ha

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Covered Pretzel Balls and Peanut Butter Jumbo Whole Grain Krispies Treats---to Celebrate!

I'm entering this in The Great Peanut Butter Exhibition # 7--Celebration!  You can find out all about it on The Peanut Butter Boy's Blog.  Happy 25th Birthday, Nick! (August 2)


Remember the Chocolate Covered Pretzel Balls I made recently and added to a great peanut buttery cookie?  Well, I saved some of the pretzel balls.  I couldn't get out of my mind the idea to make peanut butter AND chocolate covered pretzels.  Here's what I did.


The peanut butter doesn't "show" as much as I'd have wanted, but you can taste it!  Try to just eat one!  I dare you!  Wait, we're celebrating here--eat as many as you'd like!

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Covered Pretzel Balls, by Katrina

6 tablespoons peanut butter

1/4 cup granulated sugar

6 tablespoons corn syrup

4 1/2 ounces pretzel balls (really any pretzel will work--have you seen the Pepperidge Farm Pretzel Fish--those would be really cute and fun)

6 ounces chocolate, melted (I used milk chocolate chips--I just think milk chocolate and peanut butter go together the best, but you could use any chocolate you'd like)

Cook peanut butter, sugar and corn syrup over med-low heat just until it comes to a boil.  Stir and do not let it burn.  Remove from heat and stir in pretzels coating each with the peanut butter mixture.  Lay out the pretzels on a wax paper lined baking sheet.  It doesn't take long, but as soon as they are cool enough to handle, separate each pretzel and roll it in your hands to evenly coat the pretzel with the peanut butter.  Let cool completely.  You could set them in the freezer for 10 minutes if you'd like to speed things up.

Melt chocolate either in a microwave safe bowl or in a double boiler over low heat.  Dump the peanut butter pretzels into the bowl of melted chocolate and stir to coat each.  Spoon each ball onto the wax paper lined baking sheet and let set.  (Freezer again for fast hardening.)



Dig in!


I also just couldn't resist trying some of these chopped up slightly in some GREAT vanilla ice cream I made!  I REALLY liked the crunchy, salty taste of the pretzels in ice cream.  I also swirled in some hot fudge and peanut butter after the ice cream had it's turn in the ice cream maker.


But that's not all.  While I whipped these up, I also made some quick Jumbo Rice Krispies Treats--with peanut butter and chocolate mind you!  These WERE good!  Even days later, I thought they were still good with a perfect chewy-crunch.


Peanut Butter and Chocolate Jumbo Whole Grain Rice Krispies Treats

6 tablespoons peanut butter

1/4 cup granulated sugar

6 tablespoons corn syrup

3 ounces Jumbo Whole Grain Rice Krispies Cereal (regular ones would work)

6 ounces chocolate, melted (I actually used 1 1/2 ounces of peanut butter chips because I had an open bag, you could use any combination of chocolate or chips you'd like)  I also used semi sweet chocolate for these.

1 tablespoon shortening

1/4 cup peanuts, chopped (optional)

Line an 8x8 inch pan with foil.  Spray lightly with cooking spray.  Set aside.  Add peanut butter, sugar and corn syrup to a medium sized sauce pan.  Melt together over med-low heat and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Add cereal and stir to combine.  Spread evenly in pan, pressing down.  Melt chocolate and shortening in microwave safe dish using 20-30 second intervals and stirring in between.  When melted, pour the chocolate over the peanut butter Krispies cereal and spread evenly.   Sprinkle chopped peanuts over the top.  Let set.  Remove from pan using foil edges and cut into desired size squares.


Just for kicks, I added some of the peanut butter pretzels to one corner square of these before adding the chocolate on top.  They were good, but the height was a little too big to bite into all that crunch. 


Party on!


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

TWD--Vanilla Ice Cream and THE MALL

Our perfectly chosen recipe for today from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours was picked by Lynne at Cafe Lynny Lu.  She chose Dorie's Vanilla Ice Cream.  I really don't have a whole lot to say about it, because it was simple and perfect as vanilla ice cream goes.  I followed the recipe exactly (shocker!) and used vanilla extract instead of vanilla bean. 

I had some cherries and wanted to try making a "healthier" cherry pie.  I did so, then topped  a piece with some of the vanilla ice cream.  The pie wasn't very good, but the ice cream was GREAT!


Still, it felt like something was missing.


There, that's better.  I couldn't resist when I saw that it looked like a smiley face on the ice cream.


But I couldn't just make plain ol' vanilla ice cream (although, it is one of my favorite flavors!)  So I added some of these---to most of it.


Now we're talkin'.


I wanted to make this a couple more times before this post, with different yummy things added in, but we made a quick, last-minute trip out of town this past weekend, so I wasn't able to.  It's okay--I REALLY need to not eat so much of this stuff (and all I've done is clean out the ice cream maker.  I actually haven't eaten any more of it, and the Oreo kind is still in the freezer.  What?  Oh, it calls my name, but isn't nice to my gut. ;)  The boys have eaten a little of it, but since we went out of town we haven't had the chance to finish it off.  I'm happy to have this great vanilla ice cream recipe now in my arsenal.  Check out the recipe on Lynne's blog (link above).  Go see what the other TWDers have done with this.  I KNOW there's going to be some amazing, yummy versions of this out there!  Thanks for stopping by.


We took a weekend trip to Minneapolis.  It was a 7-8-9 hour car drive.  We left Friday and drove all day.  We grabbed a quick dinner and by the time we got settled in our hotel it was nearing 11 p.m.  before everyone was in bed.  Saturday we went and checked out the farmer's market (no one was really thrilled except me).  But the boys did find some cool welded metal sculptures of a guy playing the drums and one playing the guitar that they ended up getting.  Taylor was saving his pick for Legoland at the Mall of America.  After the farmer's market, we made our way to the Mall.  The boys had a blast.  How cool is it that there is an amusement park INSIDE the mall!  I had not been on a roller coaster for YEARS.  Taylor was not thrilled with the idea of going on any of the rides, so Kevin and I took turns with Scott and Parker, then Taylor and Sam.  There was plenty for everyone to do.  S & P had a BLAST going on rides.  I thought it was pretty fun, too.  But even more than that was seeing them so happy and excited and loving it.  A couple of the rides were actually pretty "scary", but still fun.  We had gotten the two of them unlimited passes to ride all day as many times as they wanted and just bought a certain amount for Kevin and I.  It worked out great.  Here's a few photos from the day.





The Water Log Ride






Parker wanted to ride the carousel.  Goofus.



Parker's horse was really buckin'.  ;)



Who knew one of this little 50 cent rides would be so fun?!

Big Truck' Ridin'


Daddy wanted to ride, too.


Okay, maybe it was so Sam could go.


Ghost Blasters



Waiting in line for my turn with the boys on the log.  I just couldn't wait to get wet. (read-sarcasm.)  It was fun!  I loved screaming like I was scared to death and making the boys think I was more scared than I really was.  Builds the excitement for them, you know.  The big roller coasters were awesome, but it's pretty hard to get pictures while zooming around on them.

After a fun day, we found a really yummy pizza place for dinner (not at the mall), called Broadway Pizza.  Then everyone tuckered out back at the hotel after driving each other nuts for a bit in the hotel room.


That evening out of nowhere, Taylor discovered that he had his first loose tooth.  It was REALLY loose, having not been loose at all until then.  The boys have all been a little slow for losing teeth so far.  Scott was in 2nd grade before losing his front teeth.  Parker still has his (about to go in to 2nd grade) and has only lost his two bottom teeth with a third one loose.  It's hereditary.  I didn't loose my two top front teeth until 3rd grade.  You can see in my 4th grade picture my new teeth still coming in.  Taylor worked on that tooth all night.


And in the car on the drive home Sunday.


Sam thought he needed a paper towel to work on his tooth, too.


Parker was trying like crazy to get his tooth out before Taylor.  Taylor's was a lot more loose though.  And just like that, Taylor pulled out the tooth.  Kind of surprised himself.  So now one of the boys has a first tooth out before starting kindergarten (he's almost 6).  And by this time, he wouldn't let me take a picture with the missing tooth.  That's my Taylor!


Hiding behind Froggy.


Not gonna smile.


Gotcha, T.  We can see it!  He's pretty proud of this accomplishment--even moreso that he got his out before Parker could get his out.  It was a great, quick trip and a lot of car time.  I'm glad we got to go.  But I'm thinking next time we want to take the boys to an amusement park, we should just go to the one an hour away in Kansas City! ; )  (Minnesota was really pretty with gorgeous weather!)  And to think, this next weekend I'm going to take the boys to Indiana (about 8-9 hours) without Kevin.  I'll write you later about "what was I thinking?" 

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cute Pictures!--This ones for you Mom and Dad!

Do you recall the days way back'd hear it from afar (a few blocks away) and you'd run in the house to your mother and ask her to, "please, please, please" let you get something from the ice cream man?  "Come on mom, he's coming and please, it's only 50 cents.  Please can I get a popsicle/fudgsicle/ice cream cone/anything from the ice cream man?"  You could hear him getting closer and closer as your mom gave in and searched through her purse for all the change she could find, scrounging for any nickel or penny available.  You would run out to the curb with all your mom's change and get in line with all the other kids as you tried to decide what to get. 

I'll never forget the time we were all (my family) at the city park waiting for it to get dark enough for 4th of July fireworks (I was in my teens).  An ice cream truck was making its way around, so my dad sprung for us all to get something.  I got a fudgsicle.  We all tore into our icy treats and the first lick I took, my tongue was stuck BAD to that thing.  I began screaming as only a person could scream (think the kid in A Christmas Story with his triple dared tongue stuck to the icy pole!).  Anyway, in a rush to help me get my tongue freed, my dad did what only could be done.  He rushed to a near by irrigation creek, filled an old used paper cup he'd found with dirty, mucky creek water and poured some on my tongue and all over the fudgsicle.  It instantly came free from my scraped and bleeding tongue.  Whew!  Saved!  After some gagging and spitting and wiping my tongue I recouped.   I was a little bummed to have a dirty fudgsicle, I really can't recall for sure, but I think I ate it anyway.  What in the world is all this about you wonder?

Oh, so for the first time ever a few days ago the ice cream man came down our cul de sac.  The boys were out playing and Parker came running in the door, begging me to--get this--let him get HIS $20 from his bank so he could buy everyone (Scott and Taylor) something from the ice cream man.  "Aaaa, yes, Son, you can buy everyone something (I didn't have to scrounge through my purse for change!).  He raced downstairs, got his money and bounded out the door, just in time, and the three of them stood looking at the choices plastered on the ice cream truck (i.e. big, old, ugly white van), while I watched from the door.  The nice man waved at me.  Parker and Scott both picked the same, biggest rainbow popsicle I've ever seen.  And Taylor picked a Batman shaped creamy type popsicle.  And for three popsicles, it cost Parker $6.00!  (They aren't 50 cents anymore, people!)  Anyway, I snapped this cute picture.  (Sam was napping.)  It's a good thing Parker paid for this one, I don't think I had $6 change in my purse!


Blue lips and teeth Boy.


Hmmm, what are they watching on tv?  It looks so important and serious.



Something must be so captivating and exciting that they just can't tear themselves away.  What could it be as I remind you that Scott is 11!  Parker almost 8 and Taylor just about 6.  Yes, that's it--it's Blue's Clues!  I'd turned it on for Sam and while Sam wasn't even watching it, these three couldn't even take their eyes off it long enough for me to get them to look over for a picture.  They couldn't even hear me talking to them.  This ought to be a good one to tease them with as they grow up! ;)  bwah ahhh, ahhh, ahhh!

Then there's this guy---


What is he doing?  I was working in the kitchen and turned around to see this.  Sam got all the shoes from the shoe rack by the door (always neatly in place when everyone comes in and removes their shoes and puts them away nicely---ppbbttt, hello-major sarcasm!)  Anyway, Sam was picking up EVERYTHING he could find on the floor and placing it nicely on the coffee table.  He even lifted that big, new box of diapers.  He was attempting to lift the wagon when I caught what he was doing.  He smiled at me and said, "picur, picur."  He wanted me to take a picture of his creation.  Could he be any cuter?  Sigh.


Sure looked nice and clean over at the doorway!  Thanks, Sam!

I think we (Kevin and I) finally got two really important things we wanted as a trait in one of our kids.  Sam LOVES to sing.  Oh, he doesn't sing words, just lots of loud, sing-song sounds.  Kevin is a singer and has always been hoping one of the boys would be a singer.  So far, the three older boys seem to have my side of the family in that area.  As a joke (and because we CAN'T sing, in my family, we always sing the "Happy Birthday" song as loud as we all can all in one note--completely monotone--while the birthday person is waiting to blow out their candles.  It's a fun joke, but really, a great excuse because we just can't sing.  ANYWAY, Sam loves to sing.  We were on our way to the store the other day and saw his little neighbor friend, Sean out playing as we were driving off.  All the way to the store, he mumbled a lovely song, "Sean is poopy," over and over and over.  Have no idea where that came from.  In church, during the songs, he BELTS out the songs--no real words--almost audible over the organ music.  It's too cute and funny.  So there, Kevin, looks like you may have got your singer.

And on that note, looks like I've got the one thing I've wanted in one of our kids---



That's right--he's a beater-batter-dough lickin' boy!  Woohoo.  None of the other boys have liked licking the beaters or eating dough.  Sam, I almost have to worry about--he'll lick or taste things when it's just butter and sugar or bread dough, he's not particular.  Ahhh, my kind of guy!  Train them up in the way they should go.... ;)  (Kevin HATES even the idea of licking batters or doughs off spoons and such.  Crazy, crazy, I tell ya.)

Another time, I turned around from what I was doing and Sam said, "Mom, picur, picur."  He thought his stacking was so cool that he wanted me to take a picture of it!  Nothing is safely left on the counter with this guy.



Today I left this---


on the counter after using a bit of it.  Light corn syrup.  Looks like water to me.  It looked like water to Sam, too.  He found it.  And decided to dump it down the sink.  It was probably 3/4 full.  Glop, glop, glop, down the sink it went.  Then he filled it full of water from the fridge dispenser.    While he was dumping it he dripped some of the sticky substance down part of his arm.  I did not know he did any of this until he came in to the living room to me saying, "iky, iky".  I had no idea what he was saying or why.  But he was getting more and more mad and grabbing his arm.  After going back in the kitchen with him, he showed me the corn syrup bottle, now full of water--which I did not realize at first.  I thought he just got it down from the counter and was handing it to me.  Then I realized it wasn't as full as I'd remember.  I sloshed it around a bit and realized it was water.  Sigh.  He dumped the whole thing down the sink.  (I am grateful at least that it went in the sink and not all over the floor!)  I cleaned him up and we moved on with our day.  Maybe he was just trying to tell me something about the  wonderful nutritional value of corn syrup.  I don't know, but from now on, I'm going to buy the dark kind.  And really, how can anyone be mad at this face---


You can't see it, but I took this picture today because Sam was wearing a headband of mine.  Silly boy!  It was just one of those little plastic flimsy ones and I never wear them--they give me a headache.  He brought it to me a short time later and said, "broke".  Yep, he broke it.  Sigh.  Gotta love my guys!