Monday, August 9, 2010

2 Winners, A Break, and a Treat

First of all, the winners of the Gumzoobo giveaway are (drum roll, please) Hobby Baker and Scrambled Hen Fruit! Congratulations! Enjoy your game and be sure to tell all your friends how awesome it is!

I knew when summer started that it would be a very short summer. So much going on with kid activities, camps, chores, plus a new baby on the way, that I knew it wouldn't feel relaxing. I was right. And now I'm feeling fall breathing down my neck. Time to start on my school related chores - sorting through books, ordering new ones, trying to get life organized enough so I won't cry myself to sleep the first month of school. And I want a break. I want a vacation.

Right now I'm not inspired to blog. I still bake, I still eat, but my family looks at me strangely because I'm not compulsively taking pictures of everything before I serve it. I've got lots of recipes and photos in the queue, but my brain is strangely silent about them, so my time between posts is getting longer and longer. I think I need to take a break.

Because I don't generate income from my blog, it doesn't really matter if I go away for a while. Perhaps my two loyal readers might suffer withdrawal, but they can always email me. I'm going on a blog vacation. I'll be back in a while, when I feel like it. When blogging sounds fun again. When I'm bursting with new things to share with you. When taking the time to read other blogs is me time, rather than chore time.

So, to tide you over, I'll leave you with an ice cream recipe. It's wonderfully rich, creamy, and delicious. You'll be so busy enjoying the ice cream, you'll hardly notice I'm gone.

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
- adapted from Taste of Home

Makes about 2 quarts

1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
4 cups whole milk
4 egg yolks
4 oz. cream cheese, cubed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1-1/2 cups mashed fresh strawberries

1- In a heavy saucepan combine sugar, flour, and salt. Gradually add milk till smooth. Bring to boil over medium heat. Cook and stir 2 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat; cool slightly.

2- In a small bowl whisk the egg yolks. Pour a thin stream of the warm milk into the eggs, whisking constantly. Pour this mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly. Cook until the mixture coats a spatula.

3- Remove from heat and stir in the cream cheese until melted.

4- In a large bowl combine the vanilla and cream. Place a sieve over the bowl. Pour the custard through the sieve and stir well to combine. Cover the custard and chill overnight in the refrigerator.

5- Stir in the strawberries and freeze in an ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer's directions.

Note: My ice cream maker will only accommodate 1-1/2 quarts, so I poured the leftovers into popsicle molds.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pickles, Extra Garlic, Please

Skip on over to Simple Bites to see my post about making pickles. I made extra garlic dills and show you how you can, too.

There's still time to enter to win Gumzoobo for your Xbox! Just leave a comment here or on the previous post, including the word Gumzoobo, and you'll be entered to win!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Kid Stuff For Kids and Grown-Ups, Too (giveaway!)

Getting in touch with your inner child is easiest to do in summer. No one looks at you strangely if you go barefoot on the beach, play volleyball or badminton, or eat fried chicken with your fingers. It's as if the kid code-of-conduct is temporarily accepted as proper etiquette for adults.

Flying kites? Check.
Licking fingers after supper? Check.
Spraying others with the hose? Check.

And after all that fun, you can still sprint after the ice cream truck when you hear its siren call. Although in my house we don't do that. It's well known
by my older children that you might as well ask for a Porsche as ask for money to spend on the ice cream truck. My youngest son, though, hasn't quite caught on to that one.

The other day, hearing the tinny version of The Entertainer wending through the neighborhood, he asked his dad if he could get something from the truck. His dad, as cheap as me and twice as practical, said, "We don't need to buy anything from the ice cream truck. Your mom makes really good ice cream." He replied, "That's not the ice cream truck, Dad, that's the popsicle truck."

Well, was that a challenge, or what? I stepped up to the plate and hit a home run with these delicious treats that I modified from a Bon Appetite recipe. With fresh marionberries, local raw honey, and organic yogurt, I dare the popsicle truck guy to come up with anything as good!

Before I give you the recipe, I want to tell you about a giveaway I'm doing.

Way back in the mists of time, we bought an original Nintendo set. Yup, the old 8-bit dinosaur. The games weren't as smooth, sexy, or gory as they are now, but those were some of my very favorite games. My daughter is the Bubble Bobble queen, my son saved the princess, my husband got through all the levels of Tetris, and I ruled at Zelda.

My son-in-law has developed a game just for people like me. Simple, fun, easy to play, yet still challenging (I'm talking about the game here, not me). It's called Gumzoobo. The zoo is being invaded by robots and to fight off the invaders, the zoo animals have to chew gum and blow bubbles to capture and contain them. You get to choose which animal you play (they all have different strengths) and the game gets increasingly difficult with each level.

Fun, cheerful graphics, original music, and smashing sound effects are all part of the package. And the best thing is, you have a chance to get it for free! The SIL has given me two codes to pass along to two lucky winners. Just add "Gumzoobo" to your comment, if you'd like to be entered to win. If you mention this giveaway on Facebook or Twitter, come back and put in another entry! The game plays on Xbox live, so all you'll need is the code to download the game.

You can check out the game on the Official Webpage and you can download a free Windows trial version here. Try it, you'll love it!

Now, back to the recipe. Make the pops, play the game, and you'll feel like a kid again. Or still.

Marionberry Honey Pops
- adapted from Bon Appetite

(The original recipe calls for blackberries. I had marionberries, so I used those. Raspberries would also work.)

2/3 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
18 oz fresh Marionberries (3-1/2 to 3-3/4 cups)
1 cup plain organic yogurt
5 tsp honey
4 tsp fresh lemon juice

1- In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the water and sugar to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Transfer to a small bowl and chill until cold, about 1 hour.

2- Place berries in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Pour the puree into a strainer set over a medium bowl. Press on the puree with a rubber spatula to extract as much juice as possible. Discard the seeds left in the strainer.

3- Measure 2 cups of the puree and place in a medium bowl (reserve any remaining puree for another use). Add chilled simple syrup, yogurt, honey, and lemon juice to puree; whisk to blend.

3- Spoon the mixture into popsicle molds. (I have very small kid-sized Tupperware molds, so I filled 11 and stored the rest of the mixture in the refrigerator, refilling the molds as the pops got eaten.) This will make approximately 10 pops if your molds are 1/3 to 1/2 cup capacity.

4- Cover with the top of the mold or plastic wrap with a stick inserted. Freeze until firm, at least 8 hours or overnight.

5- To unmold, dip the bottom of the mold briefly into hot water to loosen the pops. Serve immediately.