Thursday, January 15, 2015

Homemade Moose Tracks Ice Cream

So, I am sitting in the cafeteria because it is finals week and I am supposed to "supervise" aka babysit the children who do not have a first period final and do not want to go to the library to study.  It's times like these where I just love my job....

After this awful time of doing nothing, my finals actually begin and I have a geometry final and algebra final later today.  Although this morning time is pretty much the worst, I am excited to see how my students do on their finals today.

To pass the time, I am sitting with my English teacher friend and we are grading/chatting.  This is really not as bad as it could be.  I could be the person who has to walk around and ask students to settle down even though  it is a totally free time in the cafeteria...I mean, do we really expect them to study in here?

Of course, I am also sitting here thinking about food.  If I wasn't, I wouldn't be writing this blog post.  When I was thinking about what to write, I realized that on a cold day like today, it would be nice to think of something awesome like ice cream!  I can't put into words how much I miss summer and therefore how much I miss ice cream.  A while back, I decided that I wanted Moose Tracks because it is the best and so I made homemade Moose Tracks Ice Cream.  It was freaking amazing.  I spent a day eating it while watching a Sex and the City marathon on HBO and I truly don't have any regrets about it.  I forgot to share the recipe here, but I figured that its never too late or too cold to talk about ice cream.

Moose Tracks Ice Cream

1 egg
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 1/2 cups half and half
1/2 cup skim milk
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp vanilla
20 mini peanut butter cups, halved
1-2 cups fudge sauce:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
6 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Make the fudge sauce: place the sugar, corn syrup, water and cocoa powder in a medium pot.  Heat until the mixture comes to a rolling boil while whisking constantly.  Cook while boiling for about 1 minute while continue to whisk.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.  Transfer to a container and let cool completely in the fridge.
2. In a large sauce pan, pour 1 1/2 cups of half and half and heat over medium until steamy and then remove from heat.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg with the sugar, brown sugar, and sweetened condensed milk.  Pour in 1/2 cup of the warm half and half and beat until combined.  Pour the entire mixture back into the half and half saucepan.  Heat over medium, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of your spoon. Don't let it boil.
4. Pour the mixture into a separate bowl and whisk in the rest of the half and half, skim milk, salt, and vanilla.  Cover and place in fridge to chill for at least 4 hours.  
5. Once your ice cream mixture is chilled, freeze in ice cream machine according to directions.  Once down, pour into a bowl and stir in the fudge sauce and peanut butter cups.  Place in freezer to harden.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Cauliflower Stir Fry

My first day back went pretty much as expected.  Kids didn't want to be there, they complained about having to "do math" and they were annoyed that we had to get ready for finals.  Like any of this is my fault.  I would love to have finals before winter break.

However, in general school has been going really well this year.  I can't believe we are at the end of the semester.  This year seems to be flying by.  With the end of the semester, I am thinking about about my teaching and what to change/keep for next semester.  It's important to always improve and I think that I have already seen great changes from my first year to this one.  Next semester, I am excited to see how I continue to change and improve my teaching practice.

I have also been spending a lot of time looking for new recipes.  These new recipes are frequently inspired by new restaurants.  For example, I recently ate at Cumin, an Indian restaurant in the Wicker Park area of Chicago.  It was amazing!  I can't even remember what I ordered, but everything was fantastic and the service was great.  Our waiter made great recommendations and we had a delicious experience.  I definitely want to try out some Indian cooking in my future.

Today I am sharing a recipe for Cauliflower Stir Fry.  I found the original recipe over at one of my favorite blogs, The Pioneer Woman.  She is so awesome and her food always looks amazing.  I just took her recipe and lightened it up a little bit.  Plus, I added some flavors that I just love.  So, run out to the store, buy a whole head of cauliflower, and whip up this recipe for your next meal!

Cauliflower Stir Fry

1 whole head of cauliflower
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
2 green onions, chopped
1 tbsp siracha or other hot sauce

1. Break off pieces of the cauliflower so that you don't have any green pieces and then chop it up so that you have small florets.
2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and add in the garlic and cauliflower.  Stir until your cauliflower begins to brown.  Turn the heat to medium-low and add in the soy sauce, lime juice, green onions and siracha.  Continue to cook until the cauliflower is evenly coated in the sauce.  Feel free to add more hot sauce if you want a spicier flavor.

Enjoy :)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Slow Cooker Fudge

Well, it's time to go back to school and I don't know about you, but I needed a little something sweet to brighten my day.  The Monday after winter break is typically pretty rough, so whip up a batch of this yummy fudge so that you can shake off the blues a bit.  For high school, the Monday after Winter Break also marks the beginning of getting ready for finals.  Let me tell you, it is not pretty.  Student minds are still on break (and lets be honest, so are teacher minds) and we all have to get ready to start studying pretty intensively.  I try to make class as interactive and fun as possible so that students actually want to come to class....we will see how it goes!

This fudge was absolutely delish!  It was the perfect mixture of chocolate and with the sea salt sprinkled on top it became truly special.  I made this for my new years party and everyone was raving about it.  Plus, it is crazy easy to make! You don't need a candy thermometer or anything.  simply dump the ingredients into a crock pot, stir, and then pour into a pan to set and cool!  Done! When, I saw the recipe over at Creme de la Crumb, I was skeptical.  I thought this fudge was going to take forever, but then I saw that you only have to wait an hour and I was thrilled! I don't like waiting for dessert...

Slow Cooker Fudge

slow cooker fudge

1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
sea salt for topping (optional)

1. Place milk chocolate, dark chocolate, honey and cream into your crock pot and cook on high for 1 hour.
2. Line an 8 by 8 baking dish (or a smaller pan for thicker fudge) with foil.
2. After 1 hour, stir in the milk chocolate chips until you have a smooth and creamy mixture.  Pour your chocolate mixture into your baking pan, sprinkle with salt if you are using it, and let the fudge set at room temperature.  Once set, cut into squares.

Enjoy :)

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Red Wine Risotto with Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

It is absolutely disgusting here! I woke up and looking outside to find a "wintry mix."  That means its snowing and raining and just gross.  I love to go for a nice long run on Saturday or Sunday because I have the time and it gets me outdoors, but not today!  Today, I am heading to LA Fitness to run on a nice warm treadmill where I won't get icy rain in my eyes.  I'm a little bummed about this weather since we have been so lucky up until now.  Every weekend has been in the 40s or 50s and beautiful for winter in Chicago.  I guess that dream is over and winter has finally arrived.

In honor of the yucky weather, I am sharing a comforting recipe that is perfect for when you are stuck indoors, have some time to kill, and want something delicious and warm.  I made this recipe from How Sweet It Is ages ago and when I went to write the post I realized I didn't take any pictures! So, I had to make it again!  I changed a few things, so here is my rendition of a Red Wine Risotto with Mushrooms.

Red Wine Risotto with Mushrooms

16 oz sliced mushrooms
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 sweet onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup red wine
4-5 cups vegetable stock
1 tbsp goat cheese (I used herbed goat cheese...yum!)
parmesan cheese

1. In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat.  Add in mushrooms and cook until mushrooms start to reduce in size.  Add in the cider vinegar and balsamic vinegar and cook until liquid reduces.  Remove from heat.
2. Heat the vegetable broth in a medium pot over low heat.
3. In a large pot, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat and add in the onion and garlic.  Cook until onion starts to become translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add in the arborio rice and stir to combine.  Cook for about 2 minutes.  Add in the red wine and cook until rice has totally absorbed the wine.  Now, add in about 1/2 cup of the warm vegetable broth and stir until it is absorbed.  Continue this process until your rice is totally cooked.  This usually takes about 20-25 minutes.  In the last 5 minutes, stir in the mushrooms and goat cheese.  Once finished, top off the dish with some parmesan.

Enjoy :)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Spinach and Artichoke Quinoa Casserole

A while back, I made an Enchilada Quinoa Casserole and it was so yummy that I went and found other variations on Quinoa casseroles.  I have always been a huge fan of spinach and artichoke so, when I found this recipe over at Two Peas and Their Pod, I was super excited.  Like, more excited than normal people when they see spinach and artichoke.  It was actually a little embarrassing.  But anyways, I ran right out to the grocery store for the supplies and I whipped up a batch of this amazing casserole.  I love that this can be a side dish or your main entree.  Plus, the leftovers taste awesome so I ended up taking this for lunch at school as well!

Now that it is 2015, people are going to go crazy of their new year resolutions.  This recipe can help you out with that as well!  The only ingredient that isn't so healthy is the cheese.  So, use a light cheese and use less if you are looking to lighten this up a bit.  However, cheese is awesome so for all you people out there who have already given up on your resolutions, add all the cheese you want!  I am planning to do a "quick" 9 mile run today, so I am going to put in as much cheese as my little heart desires!  Also, if you are gluten free, sub out the flour for gluten free flour and you have a totally gluten free, vegetarian, healthy meal!

Spinach and Artichoke Quinoa Casserole

1 1/2 cups quinoa
4 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
9 oz baby spinach
2 cups artichoke hearts, chopped (canned are fine)
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour (whole wheat or gluten free is fine)
1 1/2 cups skim milk
3 oz light cream cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded, light mozzarella cheese
red pepper flakes
1/2 cup light feta cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper to taste
optional: parmesan cheese for topping

1. Combine the water and quinoa is a medium pot.  Heat over high until the water boils, lower heat to low-medium and let simmer, covered for 20 minutes.  Water should be absorbed.  Fluff with a fork and remove from heat.
2. In a medium sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium and add in garlic and onion.  Cook until onion starts to become translucent.  Add in the spinach and artichokes and cook until the spinach has wilted.  Season with salt and pepper.  Turn off heat and set aside.
3.  In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, whisk the butter with the flour until you have a paste.  Turn heat up and whisk in the milk until it starts to boil.  Whisk in the cream cheese and 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese.  Stir until smooth.
4. Heat oven to 350 and spray a 9 by 13 inch pan with cooking spray.
5. In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, spinach and artichoke mixture, and cheese mixture.  Stir in the rest of the mozzarella and the feta cheese.  Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
6. Spread quinoa mixture into your baking dish.  If you are using parmesan, sprinkle it over the top.  Place in oven and cook for about 30 minutes or until mixture is bubbly and parmesan starts to brown.

Enjoy :)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Green Smoothie

I figured I should kick off 2015 with a healthy recipe after all this celebrating over our engagement, the holidays, Cancun, and New Years. This smoothie is great because it has so many healthy ingredients and it can also be a meal supplement when you are looking for a healthy detox sort of smoothie.  I was inspired by the recipe over at Sally's Baking Addiction and made a few changes based on my preferences.  So, grab your blender, get some fresh ingredients, and get ready for a delicious way to be a little more healthy!

Green Smoothie

1/2 cup pineapple coconut water
1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
1 cup fresh mango, chopped
2 cups baby spinach, packed
1/2 avocado, cubed

1. Throw everything into a blender and blend until smooth.

Enjoy :)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I can't believe we have reached 2015.  2014 was a big year for me: I completed my first year of teaching, I trained for and ran the Chicago Marathon, I was promoted to director for camp, and Bri and I got engaged.  I am so excited to spend 2015 planning our wedding!  I am also excited to see what else this year brings.  I don't have any resolutions, but I do want to find a new workout activity besides running.  I think I am going to make it a weekly tradition to go to a Kickboxing-Cardio class at the LA Fitness by me.  We will see how that goes!  I also want to continue to read as many books as possible, so if you have any suggestions please let me know!  Finally, I am super pumped to announce that Bri and I found a wedding venue and can officially get the ball rolling on planning!

I wish everyone the best in this new year!