Thursday, July 29, 2010

For Future Reference

Note to self: A great way to get a new wardrobe is to go on an extended trip and leave your carefully packed bag at home.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Packing Treasures

After 36 hours of driving in the last 48 hours, my husband and I have arrived at "The City."

Yes, I'm home. Sweet sweet home.

With the postage stamp trunk of my little car, each item packed had to be carefully considered. "Do we really need to bring shampoo? Nah, my family will have that." "Do we really need to bring shaving cream? Nah, they've got that too." "Do we really need to bring our toothbrushes? Alright, alright."

A non-negotiable was my KitchenAid mixer, so I could really cook for my family. Mixer? Check. Pasta attachments? Check. Bowl? Check.

Somewhere between the Pacific, Mountain, and Central time zones, "paddle and dough hook?" No check.

Well, I'm glad we packed those toothbrushes.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

T-Bone Brussels Sprouts

Tasty Tuesday
Grab the button here and come join us, or just link to another site with a recipe you're going to try... or post a recipe in the comments!

Grievous sin of food blogging: I'm going to post a recipe without a picture. It just never occurred to me to take a picture of Brussels sprouts before, but after yesterday's post I thought I should share them.

No, they don't taste like little t-bone steaks, but they would be a great side for a grilled steak. I've had many avowed Brussels sprouts haters eat these with gusto and ask for seconds.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts
Recipe adapted from All Recipes

* 2 pounds Brussels sprouts, sliced in half lengthwise
* 1/4 cup unsalted butter
* (optional) tablespoon or two of bacon grease
* 2 small red onions, cut into strips
* 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
* 2 tablespoon white sugar
* salt and pepper to taste


1. Place Brussels sprouts in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover saucepan and steam 8-10 minutes or until Brussels sprouts are tender yet crisp.
2. Melt the butter in a deep skillet, add the onions and 3 tablespoons vinegar; cook until onions brown.
3. Add the Brussels sprouts, sugar and remaining vinegar. Saute over medium heat until the Brussels sprouts are lightly caramelized.

(Usually I add a little more sugar while cooking, and some crumpled bacon at the end).

What have you made lately?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Praise Indeed

Sister-in-law: "You make brussels sprouts that taste like little t-bones."

That pretty much made my week.

Friday, July 23, 2010

7 Quick Takes

~ One ~

I recently discovered and am loving it. It's designed for the Billings Ovulation Method of NFP (Natural Family Planning) charting, but it can easily be adapted for the Creighton Model. You get the first month for free, and it's $2.50 a month after that. I think we can afford that.

What I like about it? It doesn't require stickers or paper charts or FINDING A PENCIL. That alone is worth the price of admission. You can e-mail your chart to your instructor (or doctor) and print it off for your appointments. If you're lucky enough to own one, it's also available as an app for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.


Somebody get me out of the homemade cherry butter and English muffins. Thank you.


A while ago I attempted to cut the budget down by turning off the A/C. Feeling perpetually sticky, wilted, and drained, I'd never had a grumpier week in my life. Sure we were saving money, but at what cost? (Sorry, I crack myself up sometimes). So we're cutting corners elsewhere (not sure where yet, actually... but we'll think of something) and turned it back down to a comfortable 74 degrees. This is livin'.

Well, this was livin'. Today the infernal thing broke and is leaving the infernal house in infernal temperatures. I can feel my mood souring as quickly as that milk I left out last night.


I have a black thumb. Every six months my husband gives me an indoor Azalea bush. Every six months I am deliriously happy. Every time, within three weeks, I'm crushed. I don't think my dried parsley shatters as much as those Azalea leaves do. Do I overwater them? Underwater? I just don't know! It's crispier than a potato chip now, though.

It's 4 o'clock already!??! Good gravy! How did that happen?

I've been playing the piano for a children's choir rehearsal. I'm pretty rusty, but it's pretty fun. They're going to sing at Mass on the Feast of the Assumption. They sound great! I'm really impressed that elementary kids can sing in two part harmony.

This beautiful painting makes me happy. Slowly but surely, I'm working on replicating it in real life (er... canning, not painting).

Jeffrey T. Larson
Pantry by Jeffrey T. Larson (1962-), Image from Art Renewal

Participate in 7 Quick Takes over at!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lists Really Help


I've always been a secret list maker. The secret was so well hidden I didn't know it myself. But the ease with which I am making and crossing them off now makes it indubitably clear that I was born a listmaker! I've been more productive this week than in the last two months combined.

1. Made and canned 7 pints of blueberry and cherry butters, deboned and froze 10 pounds of chicken breasts (using the bones for stock), pitted and froze 8 quarts of cherries, froze 8 quarts of blueberries... call me Laura Ingalls Wilder! (And for those who read this blog on Monday, yes I finally got that English Muffin).

2. Instantly revitalized my marriage by changing my perspective.

3. Went to Confession. Every other week would be much better than my current slacker schedule of every 8 weeks. Sheesh but yay at the same time.

Read others' small successes and share your own at Faith & Family Live.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Unwritten Love Notes

Recently I had a sulk-fest when I perceived my husband had been slacking on the servant-leader front.

Sure he's working 90 hour weeks in the heat of a desert summer and sleeping an average of 4 or 5 hours a night. Sure he's brought me flowers and beef jerky (who needs chocolate when you can have jerky?). Sure he's never failed to water my chicks or take out the trash or even do a load of laundry (all without ever being asked), but by golly he's let my water cup run dry without re-filling it like he did when we were first married. And he's committed the mortal sin of only getting one spoon instead of two with the ice cream, and he's not immediately and emphatically commented upon how delicious dinner is like when we were first married.

My radar immediately went up and I went on the prowl, noticing every little thing that he "used to do when we were first married but doesn't do anymore." Sure enough, with great effort I came up with a list of 11 items.

I was feeling pretty smug and basking in the glory of self pity. "He doesn't love me like he used to! He's starting to take me for granted!" Boo hoo hoo.

Then, as an aside and fully expecting the exercise to show my superiority, I made a list of things I "used to do when we were first married but don't anymore." Within less than three minutes I had a list of 17 items. I could've easily kept going, but my pride wouldn't allow it.

So after having a good cry at my wretchedness, I set about to serve my husband instead of seeking to be served; to see in him the face of Christ and to serve and love my husband as though I were serving and loving Christ.

To take off his shoes when he comes home, to lay out his clothes and a clean towel for a shower, to visit him in the field and bring him dinner instead of griping that he comes home at an "unreasonable hour," to kiss him on the forehead "just because," to prepare desserts he'll enjoy, always to greet him warmly, to notice everything and thank him for it, to pray for him throughout the day, to keep his glass filled, to fluff up his pillows, to save the last bit of ice cream for him, to curl my hair and iron my shirt, to ask him about his day and listen and sympathize and support... a million little unwritten love notes.

It's amazing: when you actively look for ways to serve, suddenly the opportunities for love and joy increase exponentially. Love multiplies itself.

And since starting my Unwritten Love Notes Campaign, without ever mentioning it to him, I've had to strike 9 of the 11 items off his list.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Croque Madame

Tasty Tuesday
Grab the button here and come join us, or just link to another site with a recipe you're going to try... or post a recipe in the comments!

Based upon yesterday's neurotic post about English Muffins, I'm disappointed it isn't today's Tasty Tuesday post. But I haven't gotten around to making them yet.

I did, however, get around to making these little beauties for lunch:

 It's a variation on Croque Madame.

One variation being that it was on a kaiser roll (decidedly not French)...

Another variation being that there was jam in the middle.

Grape jam on mine and strawberry jam on my husband's... they were both equally good.

We tried them first with no jam at all, but the ham was kind of salty and needed something sweet to tone it down.

I think I need more kaiser rolls.

Croque Madame
Inspired by but heavily adapted from Kevin at Closet Cooking

  • 1 cup Gruyère (or Swiss, grated)
  • 1/2 cup Bechamel Sauce
  • 2 kaiser rolls (or 4 slices of bread)
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard (I used jam after the sandwich was toasted)
  • 6 slices ham
  • 2 fried eggs
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Melt half of the Gruyère (or Swiss) into the Bechamel sauce.
3. Toast bread in oven.
4. Spread Dijon mustard on one slice of bread. (okay, for some reason I totally forgot this step! I didn't use mustard but I did use jam after the sandwich was finished cooking)
5. Add the ham slices and about half of the remaining Gruyère cheese. Top with the other toasted bread slice.
6. Spoon the Bechamel sauce onto the top of the sandwich.
7. Place the fried egg on top of the Bechamel.
8. Sprinkle with the remaining Gruyère cheese.
9. Place on a broiling pan and bake in the oven for 5 minutes.
10. Turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 5 minutes. (Until the cheese topping is bubbly and lightly browned.)

What have you made lately?

Monday, July 19, 2010

If You Really Loved Me Book Review

This review is written as part of the Catholic books reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on If You Really Loved Me.

This book by Jason Evert, a popular Catholic chastity speaker, is written in a question and answer format. It's hilarious. It's insightful. It's an easy read. It contains solid Catholic orthodoxy. It is chocked full of examples and analogies so as to make it real and not abstract like many other books of this genre. A brief excerpt to illustrate this point:
If you are unsure whether a particular action could be sinful, then love demands that you refuse to go there. Suppose I put a teaspoon of powder into a cup of tea for my wife. I look at the bowl where I got the powder. It reads "sugar" on one side and "rat poison" on the other. Do I say, "Oh, it's probably not poison. I'll give it to her anyway"? If I loved her, then I would never do something that was possibly lethal for her...
A few chapter headings: Dating and Courtship, STDs, How to Stay Pure, Vocations, Contraception (particularly informative, well explained and thorough), a brief (4 questions) section on Homosexuality, and a whole section on by far the most asked question: How Far is Too Far?

It's appropriate for teenagers and beyond. It needn't be read cover to cover but can serve as a reference guide for those involved in youth and young adult ministry, for those who are dating/courting/engaged, or for anyone who wants to get a handle on this area of Catholic moral teaching.

Best book I've ever read? No. Best book on the subject? No. A useful and helpful resource? Absolutely.

I Want English Muffins

Right Now: It's 11am, I still haven't eaten breakfast but I'm really hungry. Despite the fact I haven't eaten one in at least 12 years (I'm not exaggerating, for once... it actually has been that long), I'm really craving an English Muffin and nothing else seems appetizing. Soon it'll be lunchtime and the craving will have passed.

This Past Weekend: Was crazy awesome. I got a lot accomplished.

On Saturday, I scored a triple! I 1) cleaned the house, 2) took a shower and 3) went to Confession. I like to have at least a double and preferably a triple or quadruple cleaning when I go to Confession. The quadruple would've been wearing freshly laundered English Muffin clothes. If I waited for all of those circumstances to align on a single day I'd rarely get to Confession, but it was nice to get a triple.

Anyway, I also made and canned blueberry butter! I basically followed this recipe except (not owning a crock pot) I used my dutch oven in the oven. It was so simple! Now I intend to make cherry, strawberry, English Muffin, peach, nectarine, apricot and pumpkin butters.

On Sunday, after Mass, I introduced my husband to the English Muffin cult classic movie "Princess Bride." I wasn't sure if he'd like it but he did, so I can now freely quote it and expect him to get the references. Then we went to the in-laws' to play Pinochle.

Wow, I really want an English Muffin.

Some Plans for the Week: I am going to make English Muffins. But I also intend to make and can cherry, apricot and strawberry butters, freeze ten pounds of blueberries, freeze 10 pounds of grapes, shape and freeze 12 pounds of hamburgers, debone and freeze 12 pounds of chicken breasts (they were on sale) and make and freeze chicken broth from the bones. Now that I have a freezer (yay!) I can actually do these projects I've dreamt of for months.

Non food-preserving plans: go to the doctor (yah, yah, I've still got that cotton in my ear), get my prescription refilled, English Muffin, and apply for a job.

If I Can Find Some Time for Myself I Want To: Eat an English Muffin.

Special Prayer Intentions: for the repose of the soul of my mom's hairdresser, Dottie, who died suddenly and unexpectedly. For my godbaby to keep growing healthy and strong in utero -- can't wait to meet him/her this December!

Something That Makes Me Smile: English Muffins.

Monday Musings are hosted by the lovely Nadja at Patch O' Dirt Farm.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cheap Doesn't Pay (Unless It's Free Friday)

I feel like I'm 6 years old again. I've gotten caught doing something I knew I shouldn't be doing and now I have to ask for help. Ouch.

I was cleaning my ear with a store brand Q-tip. I know you're not supposed to do it, that it's not necessary, and that it just pushes earwax further in. But by golly it just makes me feel cleaner. Anyway, I was shoving the earwax further in cleaning out my ear when lo and behold I pulled out the swab and there was no cotton on it! A preliminary search in my ear did not produce said cotton. My husband got out a bright flashlight, a mirror, tweezers, everything... and no fuzz. But I know it's in there.

Initial reaction: I'd better just go to the doctor. Actual action: maybe tomorrow.

But I know it has to come out anyway, so I'll head over to the walk-in clinic and shamefacedly admit my sin. "Doctor, I used 'store brand cotton swabs' instead of Q-Tips."

Free Friday: I like to do completely free stuff only for Free Fridays (no S&H, no buy one get one, etc.) but this coupon (good 'til Sunday only) is kind of an exception, 'cause I could see myself actually using it and thus maybe you could too. It's summer! Have a smoothie at Barnes & Noble (buy one get one free).

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Golf Clap, Please

1. It's not my success... rather it's an incredible and humbling privilege... but my husband and I were asked to be godparents. It's my first godbaby! This child will be a canonized saint some day, mark my words.

2. Deciding to tackle the squash invasion head on, I made zucchini bread! It actually wasn't so great (I don't like zucchini bread in which you can actually taste the zucchini), but at least now I've got a recipe to work with and fewer green batons on my counter.

3. I walked out of WinCo (a grocery store in the NW) without having to sell my right arm. Yes, I had to refrain from buying a lot of stuff, but the self-restraint hurt less than it did last time. Maybe next time I won't even notice (maybe).

Read others' small successes and share your own at Faith & Family Live.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New Banner Poll

Several of my favorite blogs have updated their looks lately. It's making me self conscious.

My little blog is over a year old and I've done a lot of tweaking but nothing drastic. I don't necessarily want to make a drastic change (yet), but I'd like to make it a little more personal by adding photos to the banner.

To that end I'd appreciate some input. Could you please vote on a new banner (you can click on any of them to see a larger image)?

There's the current banner... simple yet feminine. I'm comfortable with it.

Then there's Option 2... too crowded?

And Option 3... I love this picture of us but it kind of jumps out and screams, "HI THERE, WE'RE HICKS. WELCOME TO MA BLOG!!!!"

Of course option 4 is to keep making banners until I find one that is so perfect it needs no vote, but being a perfectionist that would be a lifelong quest.

After you vote, could you please leave a comment as to why you chose the one you did? Thanks a million!

Versatile Blogger Award

I've never received a blogging award before. But thanks to the aptly named Joy at Joy in the Morning, I can add that to my list of lifetime accomplishments! Thank you so much, Joy!!

The rules for this blog award are:
1. Thank the blogger who gave it to you (a no brainer!)
2. List 7 things that people may not know about you;
3. Pass the love to 15 deserving bloggers (uum... 4 seems more reasonable);
4. Let them know you gave them the award.
7 Things You May Not Know About Me:

1. I write and eat left-handed but do everything else righty.
2. I gag everytime I try to eat spaghetti with marinara sauce. I don't know why, but I've never liked it. Spaghetti and alfredo sauce? Yum. Lasagna with marinara sauce? Yum. Spaghetti with marinara? Blech!!
3. My husband was my first kiss -- after we were engaged.
4. I was homeschooled from 2nd-12th grade. And I loved it.
5. I took classical piano lessons for 12 years and became quite proficient, despite the fact the only time I practiced was during lessons (oh my poor poor teacher).
6. I sob like a baby during the Gloria at the Easter Vigil. I can't help it! It's so beautiful!
7. I call it "soda," not "pop."

Four of my Favorite Bloggers Deserving the "Versatility Award"

1. Nadja at Patch O' Dirt Farm. Her blog is, I think, my favorite of all. I want to be Nadja. She's cultured, beautiful, feminine, lovely, has cows, pigs, chickens, and half a dozen adorable holy homeschooled children!
2. Amy Caroline at Knit Together Designs (formerly Knit Together). I love Amy Caroline. If we lived closer I'd want to be her best friend. She probably now thinks I'm a creepy stalker, but based on her blog I think she and I are a lot alike. I always look forward to her versatile posts.
3. Cathy LeBlanc at Catholic Mom in the Country. She's a Cajun lady who appreciates the finer things in life (Cajun cuisine) and whose posts are so real and refreshing. No pretense here, it's all good!
4. The Lovely Blogger at Sacred Hours. She doesn't post frequently, but each post is poignant, thoughtful, beautiful and helpful. I'm so edified by her lovely blog.

I have many many other favorite bloggers, but I think the four above best exemplify "Versatile," as they post on a variety of topics.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Leftovers That Don't Seem Like Leftovers

Tasty Tuesday
Grab the button here and come join us, or just link to another site with a recipe you're going to try... or post a recipe in the comments!

In general I really don't like serving leftovers to my husband. No matter how good it was the first time, it's usually a shadow of its former self the second go round. But we were swimming in leftover meats and had baguettes about to go stale. So last night I was operating on the idea that cream cheese makes everything better and went with it.

Cream cheese, smoked salmon and capers. Not bad!

I just toasted the baguettes in the toaster oven until they were crispy and brown.

But still a little chewy... I wasn't going for the melba toast effect.

Then there was cream cheese and leftover chicken from the Chicken Parmesan.

Whole seed mustard complemented it pretty well.

Ground pepper, cream cheese and leftover skirt steak from those fajitas...

My husband remarked, "This isn't leftovers, it's a new creation."

Better than goulash casserole!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday Musings

Right Now:  I slept in (by accident), missed Mass, lost my keys, had an unfriendly encounter with the scale, and have unpleasant duties to do for the rest of the day.

This Past Weekend:  My sister-in-law got married and moved far away! Oh how I miss her already.She looked radiantly beautiful and there were five priests concelebrating the Nuptial Mass. Quite a blessed day.

My darling husband had a birthday yesterday. Did I mention lately that the man is amazing?? Wow. He makes my heart happy. He makes my eyes brighten. He makes me a better person. And he's crazy in love with me! Wow! Sometimes it makes me so happy I cry. God is so good to have brought us together!

Some Plans for the Week: I have a five gallon bucket of peas that need to be washed, sorted, blanched and frozen. I also want to paint the wicker chairs we got. I'm not much of an interior designer and have done no decorating besides hanging some artwork we got as wedding presents... but I like these chairs and think they need to be beautified and utilized.

I'm babysitting my nephew tomorrow, and playing the piano for a children's choir rehearsal this Friday. It's kind of a random-event Summer week.

If I Can Find Some Time for Myself, I Want To: Find recipes for the zucchini that are plotting a coup d'état of our backyard.

Special Prayer Intentions: For restoration of peace in a sticky situation. For an increase in the virtues of humility, honesty, and prudence. And in thanksgiving for the wondrous gift of Sacramental Marriage!

Something That Makes Me Smile: I don't mean to keep gushing, but I can't help it!! I love my husband and I don't care who knows it. Just the thought of him makes me smile.

Thanks to Nadja at Patch O' Dirt Farm for hosting Monday Musings.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Seven Quick Takes

I've not done the meme "7 Quick Takes" before, but I think it will it the spot for today.

1. My sister-in-law is getting married tomorrow. She was one of my good friends in college and became one of my dearest friends after we graduated. Then I married her brother and we became family. Now she's moving to Colorado. It's pretty difficult, actually, and my coping mechanism is "just don't think about it." I was coping quite well until I wrote this paragraph.

2. My darling sweet dearest husband's birthday is Sunday!! True to my style I've been thinking about it for three months but have not actually done or bought anything. All he's requested is a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake. I think I can handle that.

3. It's Friday, the wedding is Saturday, we've just started a budget, and both my husband and I realized we've got nothing suitable to wear. My darling doesn't own a suit and all of my formal clothes are winter clothes (projected high tomorrow is 101°). We could always borrow, but he's tall and I'm stout and none of our close-enough-to-ask-to-borrow-clothes-acquaintances match our body types. Why did we just think of this?

4. We got a vet bill in the mail yesterday for a Jersey bull. Uum... we don't own a bull. We do, however, have a Jersey cow who is almost a month overdue and refuses to calve. Yes, I'm am city girl, but I don't think I was hoodwinked into buying a pregnant bull. I called the vet and they got it straightened out, but not before I seriously pondered for a few seconds if that's why she's not calving.

5. I used some basil from our garden to make fresh basil pasta. It was a little gummy going through the pasta rollers, but it was quite tasty! On another night I made grilled chili lime corn (you peel the husk back, discard the silk, slather the spices on it, close it back up in the husk and grill it). It was every bit as good as I had hoped it would be.

6. With a lot of my bloggy friends beginning to knit and crochet Christmas gifts, I've started getting the bug myself. To knit or crochet? No, not quite. But the idea struck me to begin making cherry liqueur or cherry cordial. If I started now it would probably be done around Christmas time.

7. In honor of my new budget, I've got a freebie for you (which you can totally ignore the political message and the donation page if you want). Get a free "Sick of Spending" t-shirt.

Read others' "Quick Takes" at

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Budget Successes


Yes, gentle readers... I'm trying to live by a budget. When we were a two income family I didn't think much of dropping a twenty here or there (rarely a major purchase, mind you, but nickels and dimes all the time). While I love my life without that job, curbing my spending is harder than I thought it would be.

Using to make a budget is easy... living by it is another story. We're three days into our new financial life, and I'm actually already feeling it!

1. While trying to cut the electricity bill, I've lived two days without air conditioning. Today's high is 100... let's see how long this lasts.

2. While trying to cut the grocery bill, I made Chicken Parmesan instead of Grilled Chicken Pineapple Quesadillas; I had all of the ingredients for the former but not the latter. Pineapple cravings can't be reasoned with... they don't understand the concept of budgeting. The Chicken Parmesan was great, but I still want pineapple.

3. While trying to cut the library fines section of the budget, I returned a movie two weeks late instead of three. Gotta start somewhere, right?

I'd better send out that job application today.

Read others' small successes this week and share your own at Faith and Family Live.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Eating My Paycheck

Since resigning from my lucrative job, I thought it best to look and see how we were doing, financially.

We have a budget written on the back of a used envelope somewhere, but it's scarcely enforced and I really couldn't even tell you where that envelope is. Plus, using debit cards, credit cards, checks and cash, it's hard to keep track of what we're spending and where, anyway. to the rescue. I only discovered it yesterday. It links your bank accounts, credit cards, loans, investments, property, etc. and categorizes your spending each month. It also allows you to set financial goals (Dream House), and makes and automatically tracks a budget (fully customizable, and you can enter cash expenditures each day). Then it generates a neat little pie chart to show you where your money is going. And it's FREE, without the "pay $9.95 a month to unlock additional features" jazz.

Other than a whole category for library fines (let's just not go there), I was doing great until the pie chart. Last month, we spent almost as much in groceries as we did in rent!! It was shocking, actually. I tried a million ways to justify it... "well, my sister was here all month and I wanted her to eat well... we were doing cherry harvest and I bought some extra treats... our rent doesn't cost much!"

And, dear readers, I kid you not... one of my excuses was, "I bought two big packages of toilet paper instead of one." Yeah... that one right there is gonna break the bank.

So I looked at the month before. SAME THING!!!! We're eating our money!! And we don't even eat out! And I wasn't buying meat, and I rarely buy name brands! What the heck?

I don't know about you... but I think it's time to cut that extra package of toilet paper out of the budget.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Toasted Almond Candied Cherry Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream

Tasty Tuesday
Grab the button here and come join us, or just link to another site with a recipe you're going to try... or post a recipe in the comments!

Toasted Almond, Candied Cherry, Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream. It's a mouthful. It's a spoonful. It's... incredible.

Wow. Just.... just wow.

If you have access to cherries (um... check), and have an ice cream loving husband (double check), and have a great ice cream maker (triple check), then please make this. Please.

Your husband will thank you.

Your mouth will thank you.

You'll thank yourself.

It'll be a thankfest.

Why are you still reading this?? GO MAKE IT.

Then you can come back and thank me.

Without further ado:

Toasted Almond, Candied Cherry, Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Make each element separately and preferably well ahead of time. Then assemble towards the end of making the ice cream. Or you can just make vanilla ice cream and use these all as toppings for an incredible sundae!

Toasted Almonds:  

Preheat oven to 350°. Place 1 cup of almonds on a rimmed cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. They're done when you bite into one and it's golden throughout.

(To add it to the ice cream: In the last 5-10 minutes of freezing the ice cream in the maker, add the chopped almonds).

Candied Sweet Cherries:
  • 1 lb. cherries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 drop almond extract
     Remove the stems and pit the cherries. Heat the cherries, water, sugar, and lemon juice in a large nonreactive saucepan or skillet until the liquid starts to boil.
     Turn down the heat and simmer for 25 minutes (stirring frequently the last 10 minutes to ensure even cooking and no sticking).
     Once the syrup is reduced to the consistency of maple syrup, remove the pan from the heat, add the almond extract, and let the cherries cool in their syrup.

(To add to the ice cream: Drain the cherries in a strainer for about an hour [reserve the syrup for topping]. Coarsely chop the drained cherries and fold them into 1 quart of ice cream right before you remove it from the machine).

Optional Tip: To pit cherries, use a metal cake decorating tip (Wilton #12 or smaller works well), put through the stem side and the pit will pop out the other side.

Unhealthy (But Healthier than Hershey's) Chocolate Fudge Sauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch-process is best)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
      Whisk together everything but vanilla. Heat in a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisking until the mixture starts to bubble at the edges.
     Continue to whisk until it just comes to a low boil. Cook for one minute, whisking frequently. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, let cool and chill in refrigerator before using.

(To mix it in: The Chocolate Fudge Sauce should be thoroughly chilled, as it's easiest to use when it's very cold. Just before you remove the ice cream from the machine, spoon some of the fudge ripple onto the bottom of the storage container. As you remove the ice cream from the machine, layer generous spoonfuls of the sauce between layers of ice cream. Avoid stirring it in, as it will make the ice cream muddy looking).

Ice Cream Itself

There are too many great recipes for ice cream. Use your favorite vanilla recipe.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Payday Successes

It's payday on the farm for all the pickers. I kind of like handing out checks... it makes me feel like Santa.


1. Lost 7 pounds! Yes, it's the same 7 pounds I keep losing, but hey... at least it's down and not up.

2. When my car was in the shop, I actually walked to a store. Me. I walked somewhere. As in: on foot. Mm hm. 'Cause I can do that. Yay me.

3. I got an application for a local Catholic high school... teaching Religion. I haven't sent it in yet, but... I need something to report next Thursday, right?

Check out others' small successes at Faith & Family Live.