Ice Cream Cake

ice cream cake

Over the last four or five years, the Universe has developed a habit of taking the snow globe that is my life and shaking the hell out of it during the month of July.  For reasons that are beyond me, the Universe prefers to unleash a world of change on me in the dead of summer.  This year the change left me profoundly sad as I said goodbye to my companion of ten years.

Shadow came into my life during The Mistah’s first deployment.  He’d had one owner for eight years, and like me, suddenly found his world turned upside down.  We bonded quite quickly and his energy filled the empty space in the apartment.  He gave me predictable and dependable when everything else around me was anything but.

He eventually accepted The Mistah, but Shadow was my cat and I was his person.  Back when he could still jump up on the bed, he would often wedge his considerable self between the wall and my head during the night.  It was not unusual for me to wake up in the morning with cat head.  One of us clearly enjoyed this more than the other.

Most of the time he wanted to be near you but not in your lap.  So he would reach out and gently lay a paw on your arm or leg or shoulder, just to say “here I am”.  He had a weakness for deli meat and would double time it to the kitchen at the first crinkle of lunchmeat coming out of the bag.  And even as the years made it more and more difficult for him to walk, he would still climb the stairs when he heard the shower running so that he could get into the tub for a drink after the water had been turned off.  I cleaned as much cat hair out of our tub as I did human hair.

He was so old by the time Libby came along that she never had a chance to win him over.  And she so desperately wanted to be his friend.  Her first word was cat.  She learned to crawl because she didn’t want Shadow to get away from her.  Her first chore in the house was putting a scoop of food in his dish each morning.  Even though he was an unwilling participant, so many of her “firsts” had something to do with that cat.

His decline was sudden and swift.  In the three days between making the appointment with the vet and the day of the appointment, I knew that our time together was coming to an end.  So I made him a little bed to go next to his food and water….which he totally ignored.  And I spent extra time giving him quiet scratches and brushing his long, silky coat…which he totally loved.

Then on his last morning, I wrapped him in a towel and gave him an hour outside with the sun on his back and a gentle breeze in his face. I cried.  I stroked his fur.  I cried some more.  I thanked him for being such a wonderful part of our family and promised him that I would stay with him to the very end.

And I did.  I held him as the vet gave him the first shot.  We sat quietly, tears blurring my eyes, and he buried his head in the crook of my arm just as he had done so many times before.  He trusted me completely and I felt like I was betraying that trust as the vet administered the second shot.  Just like that, he was gone.

Taking away the food and water dishes, their empty space on the floor looked out of place.  And I cried.  Sweeping up the last bits of his fur from the floor felt like I was erasing him from the house.  And I cried some more. Now, coming into a room and expecting to see him is met with disappointment.  Watching Libby look under the table and ask “where’s Shadow” is like getting punched in the stomach.

But time doesn’t stop because we are sad.  And two days after I said goodbye to Shadow I celebrated Libby’s 3rd birthday.  My sadness and my joy stood side by side, took my hand, and together we got through it.  After the presents had been opened and the last of the guests had left and Libby was finally in bed, all was quiet.

In that silence, I could feel the absence of what had been and gratitude for all that it was.

Ice Cream Cake

BAH Note:  This is the cake I made for Libby’s 3rd birthday.  I won’t say that I wasn’t thinking about Shadow as I worked but it’s really hard to be sad when butter, chocolate, and ice cream are around.  You can use whatever cake you like. I won’t even blink an eye if that happens to be a box of cake mix.

    • Chocolate cake (see below)
    • 8 ounces chocolate wafer cookies, such as Brownie Batter Thins (if using Oreo, remove the vanilla filling)
    • 1/2 gallon ice cream, store bought or homemade, slightly thawed

Prepare a 9 inch cake pan by laying several layers of plastic wrap across each other, pressing them down into the pan, with the ends hanging well over the edge like a sling.

Use a food processor to blitz the half the wafer cookies into crumbs.  Add half of the cake in large chunks and continue to process until the cake is also turned into crumbs.  Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and repeat the process with the rest of the cookies and cake.

Using a large spoon or spatula, give the cake and cookie crumbs a good stir and then transfer about 1/3 of the crumbs to the cake pan.  Use something with a flat bottom (water glass, ramekin, smaller cake pan, etc) to press the crumbs into a single layer in the pan.  Repeat the process, using anywhere from 2/3 to of all the crumbs.

Scoop approximately 1/3 of the ice cream into the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix on low just until it starts to smooth out, stopping to scrape the ice cream from the paddle as necessary.  Repeat until all the ice cream is in the bowl, increase the speed to medium, and mix until the ice cream is a spreadable, soft serve consistency.

Top the cake crumbs with the ice cream and use a spoon or spatula to smooth out the ice cream into an even layer.  Cover the pan with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and transfer to the freezer (a few hours or overnight) for the ice cream to set.

When ready to serve, remove the pan from the freezer and uncover the top.  Grab the ends of the plastic wrap hanging over the cake pan like a sling and use them to pull the cake out of the pan.  Transfer the cake to a large serving plate, removing the plastic wrap from the bottom, and allow to thaw slightly before slicing and serving.

Chocolate Butter Cake
Adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum

BAH Note: Knowing that I was going to turn the cake into crumbs, I baked all the batter in a single 9” cake pan…because why prep and dirty two pans when all I need is one.  I had a moment of doubt as the cake batter creeped closer and closer to the edge of the pan and then flirted with panic as my baking time hit 40 and then 45 minutes.  I’m pleased to say it turned out ok in the end.

  • 2 1/4 ounces (1/3 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
  • 8 ounces (1 cup) boiling water
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 8 1/4 ounces (1 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) cake flour
  • 10 1/2 ounces (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces unsalted butter, softened

Combine the boiling water and cocoa powder in a small bowl and stir until thoroughly combined.  Allow the cocoa mixture to cool.

Once the cocoa mixture is cool, heat your oven to 350 degrees, line one (or two) 9 inch cake pan with parchment, and lightly spray with cooking spray.

Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the work bowl of a mixer and mix on low briefly to combine.

Crack the eggs into a small bowl and stir in ¼ of the cocoa mixture plus the vanilla.

Add the remaining cocoa mixture plus the butter to the dry ingredients and mix on low until just combined.  Increase the speed to medium and mix approximately 2 minutes or until the batter gets smooth and lighter in color.

Add 1/3 of the egg mixture, beat until just combined, and scrape down the bowl.  Repeat two more times until all of the egg mixture is mixed in.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan(s) and bake on the center rack until the edges start to pull away from the side of the pan and a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  If you divided the batter between two pans, baking time is approximately 25 to 35 minutes.  If you baked all the batter in a single pan, start checking at 35 minutes but be prepared to bake for 40 to 50 minutes.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning it out to cool completely on a wire rack.

{printable recipe}

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Roast Chicken with Dijon Sauce

I’ve been digging around the junk drawer that is my draft folder.  In a concerted effort to clear out the mental clutter, I’m posting this drafts ‘as is’….

Roast Chicken with Dijon Sauce

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Not to be confused with Smitten Kitchen’s Buttermilk Roast Chicken, this dish requires a bit more hands on but is equally delicious.

  • 3 pounds chicken thighs, bone in, skin on
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard

Heat your oven to 450 degrees.

Heat the vegetable oil in an oven safe skillet over medium high heat.  Working in batches, place the chicken skin side down in the skillet and cook approximately 5 minutes or until nicely browned.

Once all the chicken has been browned, remove any excess fat from the skillet.  Return all the chicken to the pan and roast for 20 minutes.  Carefully remove the skillet from the oven, transfer the chicken to a plate and loosely cover to keep warm.  Add the chicken broth and sherry to the skillet, bring to a boil, and cook until the liquid reduces by about half.  Whisk in the mustard and then add the half and half.

Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the skillet and coat the chicken pieces thoroughly in the mustard sauce before serving.

{printable recipe}

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Cheddar Cheese Biscuits

Carrot Soup and Cheddar Scones

I’ve been digging around the junk drawer that is my draft folder.  In a concerted effort to clear out the mental clutter, I’m posting this drafts ‘as is’….

Cheddar Cheese Biscuits

Adapted from Clodagh’s Kitchen Diaries

  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup milk

Line a sheet pan with parchment and heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles wet sand.   Mix in the grated cheese and thyme and then stir in the milk to get a soft dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out to about 1/2 inch thick.  Use a small biscuit cutter to cut out the scones.  Transfer to the prepared sheet pan and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly and enjoy with a pat of butter and some soup.

{printable recipe}

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Steak with Cider Glazed Onions

Bacon Jam Pan

I’ve been digging around the junk drawer that is my draft folder.  In a concerted effort to clear out the mental clutter, I’m posting this drafts ‘as is’….

Steak with Cider Glazed Onions

Adapted from The Fresh Market

BAH Note: You could use apple cider for the cider glazed onions but if you can find the spiced apple cider beer, use it.  It’s quite refreshing to sip on a big glass of it while the onion jam cooks.  And don’t worry, it is completely non alcoholic….although I could see hard cider working beautifully both in the recipe and as a refreshing beverage.

  • 1 1/2 pounds flank steak
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 2 onions, sliced thinly
  • 12 ounces spiced apple cider beer
  • 1/4 cup prepared barbeque sauce

Pat your flank steak dry with paper towels and season both sides with a generous pinch of kosher salt.  Allow to sit at room temperature while you work on the onion jam.

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet set over medium high heat.  Add the bacon and cook until the bacon is crisp and the fat has rendered.  Add the sliced onions to the pan and cook until the onions soften.

Off the heat, stir in the apple cider beer.  Return the skillet to the stove and cook until the liquid reduces by about half.  Stir in the barbeque sauce.  Taste for seasoning and add kosher salt, black pepper, and more barbeque sauce to taste.  Cover and keep warm while you cook the steak on a preheated grill with the lid closed, 6 minutes per side for medium rare.

Allow the steak to rest for about 10 minutes before you slice it thinly on the diagonal and serve it with the onion jam.  If you tuck some lettuce on your plate, you can call it steak salad.

{printable recipe}

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Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

Roast Cauli

I’ve been digging around the junk drawer that is my draft folder.  In a concerted effort to clear out the mental clutter, I’m posting this drafts ‘as is’….

Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

Adapted from Bon Appetit

  • 1 head of cauliflower, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, skin on
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan

Heat your oven to 425 degrees and line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.

Combine the cauliflower, garlic, onion, olive oil, and kosher salt on the sheet pan and use your hands to make sure the vegetables are coated with oil.  Roast for 45 minutes or until the cauliflower and onion are golden brown and starts to char on the edges.  Sprinkle the parmesan over the cauliflower and serve immediately.

{printable recipe}

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7.20.2015

libby 2015Three years.  In a blink of an eye.  Everyday my heart gets a little bigger taking in all that you are.

You are sassy, and funny, and sort of a bossypants.  You are fearless and you are vulnerable.  You are a do it yourselfer and a helper.  You are quiet and kind.  And you are big and loud.

You look for the ladybugs and bees.  You still chase the cat.  You stop to touch the piano keys at school every day.  You love to splash but hate getting your face wet.

You have been up high on mountain tops and down below in caves.  And you love to go round and round and round on the carousel.

You are the reason I am a momma….you are my sunshine.

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Spiced Lentil Soup

I’ve been digging around the junk drawer that is my draft folder.  In a concerted effort to clear out the mental clutter, I’m posting this drafts ‘as is’….

Spiced Lentil Soup

Adapted from Parents Need to Eat Too

BAH Note:  You could use as much as 1 1/2 cups of lentils which would give you a thicker, stoupy soup.

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup french green lentils
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • black pepper

Heat the oil in a dutch oven set over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrots, and sweet potatoes and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until the vegetables being to soften a bit.

Add the garam masala, cumin, ginger, and salt and cook for approximately 1 minute until you begin to smell the spices.  Add the broth and lentils and bring to boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer 30 to 40 minutes until the lentils are tender.  Season to taste with additional salt, pepper, and spices.

{printable recipe}

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Strawberry Lemonade

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I’ve been digging around the junk drawer that is my draft folder.  In a concerted effort to clear out the mental clutter, I’m posting these drafts ‘as is’….

Strawberry Lemonade

BAH Note:  To make the simple syrup, combine 1 cup sugar and 1 1/4 cup of water in a saucepan.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.  The simple syrup can be refrigerated in an airtight container and used to sweeten your beverages all summer long.

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup simple syrup
  • 1/4 cup strawberry puree

Combine all the ingredients in a pitcher and stir.  Serve over ice and enjoy.

{printable recipe}

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Frozen Cherry Lemonade

cherry bourbon lemonade

I need to get something off my chest….I thought we were friends, but I’m starting to have my doubts.   Sure I might disappear from this space for looooong stretches of time without warning.  And I might be just a touch more forgetful about asking how you’ve been and how the world is treating you.  And my awareness of what is going on around me may have hit an all time low.  But for the life of me I can’t understand why you would do this to me.

For the love of all that is good and right, why didn’t you tell me that 3 year olds are such big jerks?

What’s that?  You say that you don’t have firsthand knowledge of life with a 3 year old?  Ok, well then I can’t hold that against you.  Please accept my apology for being all crankypants with you.

But what about the rest of you?  The parents.  The people who have already experienced the tempest that is a 3 year old.  How could you have failed to at least mention that there might be a chance that my child may, at times, become a total jerk by her 3rd birthday?

That’s just how 3 year olds are, you say?  They turn from Dr. Jekyll into Mr. Hyde without warning?  Yeah I’ve noticed that, thanks. It would have been helpful to have been given that nugget of information ahead of time.

So for anyone out there who may, at some point, be responsible for a child, allow me to tell you what everyone else already knows but isn’t saying…Life with a 3 year old is like Clash of the Titans. Every. Single. Day.  There’s no way to avoid it.  There’s little you can do to prepare for it other than to know that it’s steaming towards you like a locomotive.  One day, without warning, that train will arrive.  And when it does, you will most likely be standing in the middle of tracks and get completely steam rolled.

I suggest you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.  And maybe have a cocktail once you get The Kraken tucked into bed.

Frozen Cherry Lemonade

Inspired by Shutterbean’s Boozy Cherry Slushies

BAH Note:  The bourbon is 100% optional.  But after a long day with a 3 year old, you might want to exercise that option.  I whip this up in my Vitamix so breaking down the ice cubes and getting a good slushy consistency isn’t hard.  If your mixer needs a little help, try using crushed ice if you have that option on your ice maker, or place whole ice cubes in a plastic bag and whack them with a rolling pin to break them up.

  • 1/2 cup cherry syrup (recipe below)
  • 1 1/2 cup lemonade (homemade is fine but I got mine at the store)
  • 1/4 cup bourbon (optional)
  • 4 cups ice

Combine cherry syrup, lemonade, and bourbon (if using) in your blender and give it a good whirl.  Add the ice and blend until you get a slushy consistency.  Don’t be alarmed if the drink separates a bit in your glass as it melts.

Shutterbean’s Cherry Syrup

  • 1 pound sweet cherries, pitted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1 /2 cups water
  • juice and zest of 2 limes

Cook the cherries, sugar, water, and lime juice and zest in a saucepan over medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the cherries burst and the liquid starts to simmer.  Remove from the heat and let cool for 20 minutes before straining the liquid through a mesh sieve into a container for storage in the fridge.

{printable recipe}

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Chicken Marsala Casserole

pasta bakeI’ve wanted to talk with you about what I’ve been cooking but I feel like I’m supposed to have a pretty picture to oooh and aaaah over before I post.  Which makes for a lot of radio silence here at BAH .

Clearly I’m still feeding my family.  I’m just not doing a great job of documenting what’s been on our plates.  Which is really a shame because I have been serving up some serious deliciousness.

Like Chicken Marsala Casserole.  I grabbed this one from Smitten Kitchen, as you can tell from my (not food) photo above.  If you’d like to see a pretty picture of baked pasta, clicky here to see the lovely photo Deb included in her post.  Mine looked remarkably similar.  And tasted good enough that I’ve made it again AND put some in the freeze for a future get-out-of-dinner-free night.

Here’s why this dish appeals to me:

Making a double batch = 2x reward and only 1x work.  (You do the math.)

There’s something for everyone at my table.  If The Libster is feeling peckish, she can pick out the pasta and politely say no thank you to the porcini and poultry.  The Mistah and I aren’t quite so persnickity.  (Try saying this five times real fast.)

If I can’t cobble together enough time to get from start to finish in a single shot I can make the sauce and keep it in the fridge for a day or two until I’m pasta ready.  Come to think of it, I could probably make and freeze the sauce and then have it at the ready to spoon over cooked pasta anytime. (I just had an a-ha moment!)

Feel free to use any of my reasons, or come up with one of your own.  But get to know this casserole. (No aside necessary.)

Chicken Marsala Casserole

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

BAH Note:  Sturdier pastas like ziti, rigatoni, twists, and penne are well suited for this application.  I’ve used plain white mushrooms as well as crimini and they’ve both worked equally well.  I work on making the sauce while I’m waiting for my pot of water to boil and pasta to cook.

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast or thigh, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 8 ounces pasta
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup Marsala wine
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • kosher salt

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until lightly browned and cooked through, working in batches if you need to.  Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover to keep warm.

Return the pan to the stove, add the remaining oil, mushrooms, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid released by the mushrooms is nearly cooked away.  Add the marsala and cook until most of the wine has cooked down before adding the butter to the pan.  Once the butter has completely melted and been stirred around once or twice, sprinkle the flour on top of the mushrooms, give the mixture a good stir so that all of the flour combines with the butter and mushrooms, and cook for about two minutes.

Add about a quarter cup of broth to the pan and whisk.  It might bubble up angrily and look pasty; just keep going.  Slowly add the remaining broth and continue to whisk until the sauce smooths out.  Keep the sauce on a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens up slightly.  Add the chicken and any accumulated juices to sauce and stir to combine.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a pot of well salted water for 10 – 12 minutes.  You want the pasta just a teensy bit underdone so it can finish cooking off in the oven.  Drain the pasta, add it back to the pot, and stir in the sauce and grated Parmesan.

Bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees.

{printable recipe}

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