Thursday, July 21, 2011

From the Kitchen - Cantaloupe Ice Cream

I'm totally and completely addicted to ice cream.  My mom gave me a Cuisinart electric ice cream maker last summer to help feed my habit and it has changed my life (and my pant's size).  Once you go homemade it's very hard to go back to the store bought stuff, even the good stuff. 

I tend to make custard base ice creams in the winter, like peppermint, cookies and cream.  They are more work but taste very eggnogg-y and Christmas-y.  I like to make easy milk and cream fruit ice creams in the summer when fruit goes on sale and I come home with three bags of strawberries, cherries and melon. 

I bought a huge locally grown cantaloupe that tasted like a party in my mouth.  Kramer would approve of this melon.  I made fresh peach ice cream last week and ate it in about 4 days, so to get my fix I wanted to try adapting my peach recipe to use up some of this gargantuan melon. 

I was worried the melon would hold too much liquid and the ice cream would separate or get crunchy when it froze, but it was fine, perfect even.  The end result is a creamy ice cream (not sorbet-like at all) that smells and tastes like summer. 

Cantaloupe Ice Cream

Half of one very large cantaloupe, or one small melon.
1 cup sugar - divided
Juice of one lemon
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract (use the good stuff)
2 cups cream

Dice up cantaloupe making sure to only include the peachy parts, no rind.  Place the chopped melon in a bowl and mix in 1/2 cup of sugar and the juice of one lemon.  Cover and let it macerate for 2 hours.

Mash the cantaloupe pieces - I use my mashed potato smasher.  You want raisin size pieces - too large and they'll crystallize and get too crunchy in the ice cream, too small and you miss the texture of the fruit.

Mix together 1 cup milk and the other 1/2 cup sugar until sugar is completely dissolved.  Add vanilla extract, and 2 cups cream, then add the mashed fruit and all the liquid.

Add it to your ice cream maker and follow your instruction manual.  Mine was done mixing after about 23 minutes, then I moved it to the freezer to firm up for a couple of hours, until I couldn't wait any longer to dig in!

Click here for a Printable Recipe Card.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Clockwise from the top:

Bad Ass Alley Cat Brooch by RoyalMint, $23

Mean Vegan Cat Canvas Tote Bag by bonspielcreation, $42

Fifi Shirt by PoisonPaws, $35

Cat Nap by jamieshelman, $20

We've been looking for a kitty for months, well Kelly and I have, Gary not so much.  After taking in a stray cat in May then finding his owners we were feeling a little bummed.  Plus, we have a bird and a dog, we needed a cat to fill in the predator/prey circle of life.

Meet Jinx.

We adopted her from a local shelter, she's about 2 months old and craaaaazy!  I haven't had a kitten in 18 years, seriously, I counted.  I forgot they're tiny crack heads for 2 hours a day - but she's a sweetie.  The dog is getting calmer around her, the chaos that was our first few days had subsided, though there are a lot of scenes like this.

Note the cat being "held" in the child's lap and the imposing large dog nose. 

There are a lot of scenes like this too:
 You can't see it, but guess where the birdcage is?

It's a madhouse around here, but a fun one.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Lake House

This year my Mom, Aunt and I planned a ladies week at a lake house in tiny Wautoma, Wisconsin.  We had some requirements for our lakehouse: sandy beach, a pier to sit on and ponder, air conditioning and WiFi.  We found exactly what we were looking for and though the weather didn't cooperate all week, it was a very relaxing get-away.

Little Hills Lake is this amazing spring fed, COLD but quiet oversized pond, I mean lake.  Did I mention it was cold?  Kelly wasn't bothered by the water temperature at all - she was swimming at every possible moment.  My Mom was a trooper too, but the rest of us sane people only ventured in to our knees.

The hammock where Kelly said her "troubles melted away".  Troubles like, how many squares of Hershey bars will Mama give me tonight? How late can I stay up? and Can I go in the paddle boat by myself?

The paddle boat was my favorite, we went halfway across the lake one night - I loved that after 4:00pm it was a no wake zone so us little boats could coast without worrying about rogue waves.

We had a few rainy days but even then it was nice to stay in our pj's till evening, working on puzzles and crafts.  We shopped at local antique stores, bowled a round at the tiny local bowling alley, made s'mores every night, ate at a few supper clubs - man I love complimentary pickled herring.

An entire week was a long time for us to be away from Gary, by the end Kelly was getting a little weepy about missing her Da.  Skype helped, but I'm not sure I'd keep them apart for so long again.

I'd love to plan another trip next year with the husbands, we're gonna need a bigger boat.

Friday, July 8, 2011

From the Kitchen - Crunchy Asian Noodles with Peanut Sesame Sauce

Twitter has a big influence on my diet, people tweet about their late night snack, their dinner plans and it puts those brain worms into my head and I must have it!  The other day Jen from PoleStar was snacking on some peanut noodles and it reminded me of a fabulous recipe from Ina Garten that I had buried in my notebook. 

It has a long list of ingredients, but don't be fooled, it's a pretty quick dinner, and they're all worth it.  I've changed it a little bit, less salt, more ginger, and it's good hot or cold.  Feel free to substitute any fresh veggies you have on hand to give it crunch, I think broccoli would be yummy mixed in.  You could also throw in chicken to add a little protein.  Enjoy!

Crunchy Asian Noodles with Peanut Sesame Sauce (adapted from Ina Garten)

One box spaghetti (I recommend thin spaghetti from Barilla)
1/2 - 1 pound sugar snap peas
1 red pepper thinly sliced
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
2 scallions (white and green parts) sliced
handful of fresh chopped parsley

Cook spaghetti according to instructions on the box.  While spaghetti is boiling, whisk vegetable oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of the sesame seeds together.

*To grate the ginger, cut off a chunk from the ginger root, peel it using a vegetable peeler, then use a grater or microplane, scraping all that fragrant goodness into the bowl.

Cook snap peas - steam them, or cook them according to bag instructions.  Most snap peas at my grocery store come in ready to steam bags.

Combine the spaghetti, snap peas, red peppers and scallions in a bowl, pour over sauce, add the remaining sesame seeds and parsley.  Dig in! Or chill and serve cold. 

 Click here for a printable recipe card.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Dress Yourself in Handmade - Casual Date Night

Not that I've had a date night, in oh, say months, but if I were to plan one, I'd try to keep it casual, with great jeans and some crazy high heels to fancy it up a little.

Clockwise from the top:

Evening Black Wrap Top by AndyVeEirn, $100

Fast Clouds Necklace by littleocean, $32

Mixed Wood Bracelets by DavisMain, $9

Nostalgic Mini Pouch in Linen and Light Blue, $16