Summer of Pop – Cool Popsicle Ideas and Recipe

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My kids are usually big on making ice cream in the summer.  We certainly did make and eat some.  However this year at our house it seems to be the popsicle which took center stage for recipe experimentation and overall cool treat winner.  My daughter and her friend Emily, even set up a popsicle stand after experimenting for 2 days with flavors.  Watermelon, mango and strawberry were big hits while peach, raspberry and pineapple not as sweet.  It was actually less about the flavor than the texture.  The girls’ popsicles were nothing but fruit.  No sugar or anything added.  Just take fresh fruit, blend in a blender and pour into a popsicle mold.  That’s it!  This also meant no one would worry about gluten, dairy or nut allergies.  There was discussion and tests about water and they figured our about dilution and flavor vs quantity.  There was also a discovery that fruit should be ripe.  Under ripe fruit meant bland popsicles.

 

You have to give them credit…spending all day blending and freezing (of to be patient) and sign making, they still wanted to then go out and sell.  Here’s where the tricky part came and the logistics of a popsicle stand vs other non frozen edibles.  We thought ahead and used popsicle sticks and straws for sticks so people wouldn’t have to give back the reusable popsicle tops (or I wouldn’t loose them).  We carefully loosened the popsicles, set them back in the trays and carefully placed them in an ice chest with ice packs.  But how long would this last?  Well when opening and closing an ice chest full of frozen popsicles on an 85 degree day at the park the answer is about 30 – 40 minutes before they turn to slush.  Thankfully Emily’s mom to the rescue with a stop at the store to pick up cups.  They then rebooted the popsicles to “new fruit slushies” and ventured to another park to sell. Certainly their popsicle stand wasn’t as big of a draw as their past bake and lemonade stand sales, but you never know what they’ll create next.

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Not over the love of popsicles (or our crazy 90 degree heat), I decided to use some left-over canned coconut milk and create my own popsicle as a surprise for my kids finishing the first week of school.  I made sushi for dinner and then these were the perfect dessert pop to finish the hot evening.  I was inspiredly by a coconut popsicle recipe from Don’t Waste The Crumbs .  I changed mine to all coconut milk (vs mix with cream), reduced the maple syrup, omitted the fresh coconut flakes (my kids wouldn’t have wanted the hairy texture) and increased the recipe for a bigger pop mold.  Next time I’ll check my chocolate stash before freezing as the use of chocolate fudge sauce didn’t give my popsicles the hard chocolate coating I was hoping for.  However there were no complaints.

Coconut Chocolate Popsicles

(makes 4, 3 oz. popsicles)

  • 12 oz light coconut milk
  • 4 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2  tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 3 oz dark chocolate for coating, less if drizzling
  • ½ tsp coconut oil
  • pinch of sea salt
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Combine coconut, syrup and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Add a pinch of sea salt, or more to taste.
  2. Ladle or pour the mixture into popsicle molds and freeze for a few hours, or until set.
  3. Prepare the chocolate “shell” coating by melting chocolate and coconut oil in a small sauce pot over low heat, stirring constantly until just melted.  Or melt in the microwave for 15 second intervals, stirring between each. (This is where I used fudge sauce and although tasty it don’t set in the freezer).  Once melted, remove from heat immediately and stir in a pinch of salt.
  4. When pops are frozen, remove from molds and place on a cookie sheet or plate lined with wax paper. Place pops in the freezer.
  5. Removing one pop at a time, use a small ladle or spoon to drizzle or pour the chocolate over the pop. Quickly transfer the pop back to the lined board in the freezer. Can sprinkle with additional flaked coconut if desired.
  6. Repeat until all pops are coated and in the freezer to set.
  7. Store pops in freezer until ready to eat (cover if storing longer than a few hours).
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July WAS Ice Cream Month

Yes, July was National Ice Cream Month.   And yes, I know it’s August.  But that doesn’t mean ice cream season is over.  My family turned out the ceremonial first batch of homemade ice cream just after school got out in June.  Of course we always start with Mint Chip.  The real deal (see past blog) with real mint.  Not the fake colored, extract stuff.  This year we’ve also made a few new flavors, below.  When making ice cream remember to explain to your kids (and husband) it’s not a quick instant gratification process.  Be sure to read the recipe and see how much time (refrigerator, freezer, machine) you’ll need before you’re actually ready to scoop and enjoy.

 

Vegan Coconut Ice Cream

This was a huge surprise.  I received the Vegan Al Fresco Cookbook and went for this right away.  Overall I like this cookbook, and we love this ice cream.  The coconut oil gives this a great dense and creamy texture.  It has become my husband and daughter’s favorite flavor.  I even brought a batch to a friends’ for dinner and she served it with a homemade peach pie she had made.  It went together perfectly.

I made a few changes you’ll see noted below.  I don’t like the coconut texture so I didn’t add the shredded coconut.  I didn’t have the extract, so I didn’t use that either.  There’s still debate about confectioner’s sugar and whether it’s a “vegan” ingredient.  If you’re concerned buy the vegan brand.  (I explained “bone char” in an earlier post.)  And I didn’t see the need to buy arrowroot when I had cornstarch in my pantry.

Coconut Ice Cream from Vegan Al Fresco by Carla Kelly

Makes 4 cups

2 14 oz. cans full-fat coconut milk

3 tablespoons melted coconut oil

3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder – I substituted cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (optional) – I didn’t use

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional) – I didin’t use

Place 1 can of coconut milk in refrigerator overnight (to speed this up I put in the freezer for 2 hours).  Open can – do not shake – and scoop off 1/2 cup cream from surface.

In a blender, process coconut cream with contents of second can of coconut milk, melted oil, sugars, arrowroot and extract until creamy and smooth.

Transfer blender jar to refrigerator to chill overnight.  Stir in shredded coconut if using, and mix to distribute evenly.

In an ice cream machine, process mixture for 30 minutes, or according to machine instructions, until aerated and cooled.

 

Lemon Sorbet

My daughter requested this when she started her orthodontist expander.  I was happy to oblige.  Especially after realizing I already have the ingredients on hand.  Ice cream requires a trip to the store for cream and whole milk.  Sorbet is simple.  The recipe I used came with my ice cream maker.  I even had simple syrup in the fridge left over from making lemonade.  Next time I need to read the recipe more thoroughly as the one I used made a small quantity (maybe a pint vs our usual quart).

Lemon Sorbet from Allrecipes.scom

Ingredients

Original recipe makes 6 servings
  • 1 lemon’s peel, finely diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup carbonated mineral water
  • 6 strips of lemon zest, for garnish

Pina Colada Sorbet 

This was almost a merge of flavors from the coconut and the lemon.  It was bright and refreshing and we ate it with my daughter’s birthday cake.  Seemed very tropical as we enjoyed it during the Fifa World Cup in Brazil.

Pina Colada Sorbet from MyRecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cubed fresh pineapple
  • 1 cup coconut water $
  • 1/2 cup sugar $
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 2/3 cup cream of coconut

Preparation

  1. 1. Place first 3 ingredients in a blender, and process until smooth and sugar dissolves. Combine pureed pineapple mixture, coconut milk, and cream of coconut in a bowl; stir with a whisk. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
  2. 2. Pour mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer, and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Spoon sorbet into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze for 2 hours or until firm.

 

My son just asked what flavor is up next.  My daughter and husband said coconut.  But he wants something new.  Stay tuned…

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Happy Birthday To Me….Grilled Peach Idea

Wished and Ate Before Photo (sorry)

I’ve been remiss in writing I know.  I chalk it up to summer and fun times with my family.  And although I know it’s August, we’ve finally just finished celebrating our July birthdays.  Having three July birthdays in the family means it’s never ending.  We celebrate together as a family, then with friends and then usually with trips and visit from grandparents and extended family.  We are lucky.  But it makes me lazy too.

 

People celebrating me means talking me out for dinners (more on that later) and hosting my family, where I don’t have to bring a thing (yes, I still bring wine or flowers).  For my actual birth day my husband made a lovely dinner of grilled salmon, asparagus, salad, couscous and bread.  No birthday cake here.  He was a grill master from start to finish and the dessert culmination has become his signature dish…(wait for it…) grilled peaches!  Yep.  These are yummy.  He’s played a bit with the recipe, like any great home chef.  At first he got a little too tricky with marinating the peaches in brown sugar, and soy sauce.  He thought the salty soy would balance the sugar.  The soy was a bit too smokey and overwhelming.  He’s discovered after making them a few more times, that the trick is just to go sweet.   Here are some instructions rather than recipe as there’s no measuring done, or really required.

 

First he cuts each peach in half, and removes stone.  Then he drizzles maple sugar, and sprinkles brown sugar and cinnamon on the halved peaches to marinate for about an hour (long enough to eat your grilled dinner).  Next he puts the peach halves on a hot grill (high temp) for about 2 minutes each side, until the juice and sugar carmelizes a bit and the peach becomes softer (but watch it, not too soft).  Finally he puts each hot peach half over a scoop of cold vanilla ice cream.  Voila!  A yummy, healthy and seasonal summer dessert. Candles optional.

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The Scoop on Scoops

Since it’s July that means summer and birthdays around my house.  I always look forward to some warm days when I can get out the ice cream maker to make our own homemade ice cream.  In the past all my kids wanted to make is mint chip. (see past recipe).  I can’t blame them.  There is nothing like real mint ice cream.  However we need to venture out and for my daughter’s birthday we made a classic vanilla bean.  This was super easy and a bit hit.  My son liked it so much I’m making it again this week to put between homemade chocolate cookies for ice cream sandwiches.  Stay tuned for his birthday post coming next.

 

Anyways…summer is also a time my kids and I like to explore new ice cream flavors around town.  We have our local favorites, but it’s fun to venture out and discover new ones too.  This past weekend we were fishing (nope didn’t catch a thing) in Faixfax’s Bon Tempe Lake.  The thing that got us through the fishing and hiking was knowing we were going to Scoop in Fairfax on the way home.  This place is the real deal.  It’s located downtown at 63 Broadway (no website) About one dozen flavors hand made with local ingredients with classic (chocolate, strawberry) and unique flavors (mexican chocolate and vanilla honey lavender).  Plus homemade waffle cones and bowls.  They think of everyone too.  Fruit sorbets and soy ice cream for vegans and lactose intolerant.  Gluten free cone options.  This place is the best and least expensive scoop around.  They could charge  twice the amount, but they don’t.  They want to keep people coming and they’ve built a real community of suppliers and customers since it’s opening 10 years ago.  My son and I tried the control burn.  Wow!  Vanilla with cinnamon and chilies.  This was certainly a burn on the aftertaste.  We left that to the real men in the line and he went for the milder mexican chocolate (also with chilies, but not as hot) and soy mint for me.

 

So we haven’t gotten as adventurous at home.  However we’ve been making this wonderful and simple vanilla bean ice cream recipe for the birthdays.  I found it on the Joy of Baking site.  It’s easy and only has 5 ingredients!  I’ll be using this as a base for some more creative flavors of our own.  Enjoy!

Vanilla Ice Cream: In a small saucepan, over medium-high heat, bring the half-and-half and the vanilla bean (if using) to the scalding point (the milk begins to foam up). Remove from heat, take out the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds from the bean with the back of a knife, and mix the seeds back into the half-and-half.

Meanwhile in a stainless steel bowl beat the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy (about two minutes). You can do this with a wire whisk or I like to use a hand mixer. Gradually pour the scalding half-and-half into the whipped egg yolk mixture, making sure you keep whisking constantly so the eggs don’t curdle. If any lumps do form, strain the mixture first before heating.

Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook until the custard thickens enough that it coats the back of a spoon (170 degrees F) (77 degrees C). The term ‘coat a spoon’ is a technique used mainly as a way to test when an egg-based custard or sauce is done. A spoon, usually wooden, is placed in the custard and, when the spoon is raised, the film of custard on the back of the spoon will stay in place even when you draw a line with your finger through the middle of the custard. 

Immediately remove the custard from the heat and continue to stir the custard for a few minutes so it does not overcook. At this point stir in thevanilla extract, if using. Cover and let cool to room temperature and then refrigerate the custard until it is completely cold (several hours but preferably overnight). 

Transfer the cold custard to the chilled container of your ice cream machine and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once made, transfer the ice cream to a chilled container and store in the freezer. If the ice cream becomes too hard place in the refrigerator until softened.

Makes about 3 cups. Preparation time 40 minutes.

Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe:

2 cups (480 ml) half-and-half

5 large (90 grams) egg yolks

2/3 cup (130 grams) granulated white sugar

1/2 vanilla bean or 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

Note:  Half and Half cream is a mixture of cream and whole milk and contains 10 – 12% butterfat.

 

 

 

 

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Gazpacho! – God Bless You

My kids never remember the word gazpacho, but think it’s funny when I say it and  and remind them it’s cold veggie soup.  While it isn’t their favorite, it is mine.  Making it for me means summer.  I’ll make a batch and serve it for dinner with salad and/or sandwiches and then enjoy the left-overs for lunch during the week.  It’s great to make in summer too because of the delicious tomatoes in season.  You can really add just about any veggie here.  You just throw it all in the blender with some beans (good protein) and spices and you’re done in 5 minutes from start to finish.  This also makes a nice appetizer to put in small teacups or shot glasses to have ready for summer outdoor gatherings.

 

Gabby’s Gazpacho, from The Petit Appetit Cookbook

Three year old Gabby called this soup “punch”, because it couldn’t be soup, since soup was hot”.  I think it’s a good way to give your family a powerful “punch” of vegetables full of folic acid and fiber.  It’s a refreshing meal on a hot summer day.

5 medium vine-ripened organic tomatoes, quartered (about 4 ½ cups)

½ medium organic cucumber, peeled and sliced (about 1 cup)

½ cup cooked or canned garbanzo beans

1/8 cup chopped organic red onion

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup vegetable broth

¼ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

 

Garnish (optional)

½ cup chopped avocado, tomato and/or peeled cucumber

 

Blend all ingredients except optional garnish in a food processor or blender until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Transfer to a container and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.  Ladle into soup bowls and top with garnish, if desired.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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