mocha madness ice cream

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Hi friends!!!

It’s been awhile, hasn’t it? My blog calendar tells me I haven’t posted since May 1, which means I haven’t written a thing in 25 days. Yikes.

Now, I know that excuses are for the birds, but I actually have a pretty decent one to explain my absence: we went to Italy! And for almost two weeks I ate pasta and drank wine like a champ.

Our trip started in a house in Umbria (next door to Tuscany)…

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There was a cooking lesson (I’ll be sharing more about that in the future!)…

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A day trip to Florence…

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And a stay in Rome…

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After all of our travels (and all of our eating!), I’m finding it difficult to stay focused in the kitchen. Maybe it’s being away compounded with the fact that it’s pretty much summer and all I want to do is play outside, but I’ve noticed that I only have the attention span sufficient for quick meals and desserts. And since ice cream is one of THE EASIEST and most satisfying desserts, I figured I’d share with you King Arthur Flour’s phenomenal Mocha Madness Ice Cream (you know, in case you’re in the same “attention span of a gnat” situation I’m in).

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I first tasted this treat at a friend’s house. She topped my bowl off with an Oreo and I thought, Wow, so cute! And then I tried a bite and thought, GIMME THE BUCKET OF ICE CREAM AND NO ONE GETS HURT. My inner hungry girl can get kinda scary sometimes.

Not one weekend later, I made this recipe for myself and the rest is history. I think this might be my tenth time making this ice cream, and since this isn’t my first rodeo, I do have a few notes:

1) Add one more tablespoon of espresso powder–the coffee flavor is intensified and it is awesome.

2) I’ve eaten this after it’s been frozen for a bunch of hours, and I’ve eaten this soft serve-style, right after churning. Either way, it is perfection.

3) I have used 2% milk instead of the whole milk to no ill effect. But if you try to swap out the heavy or whipping cream for something lighter, I will have to un-friend you.

4) Three words: Chocolate-Filled Oreos. The original is fine, but these are extra credit.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! I hope it’s filled with lots of food and fun!

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chocolate pecan scones

Chocolate Pecan Scone

So, I’ve been sick. And the thing is, I’m no good being sick. I’m terrible at it, in fact. You know those movies, like Fried Green Tomatoes, where the sick girl is pale but lovely, propped up on a pile of delicate pillows and smiling bravely? Now imagine the opposite. That’s me. Hacking, whining, sniffling, dressed in ratty old PJs and sending nonsensical text messages about NyQuil and soup.

Being home sick is boring, and I’m prone to cabin fever. But with absolutely no energy to venture outside, I decided to do the next best thing: bake. Because there’s no better way to forget your troubles than with sugar, flour, and plenty of vitamin B(utter).

Since I had the get-up-and-go of a sedated sloth, I knew an easy recipe was the best choice. And it only took a quick browse of King Arthur Flour’s site to know that these scones were my destiny.

Now, I’m no scone expert, but I think these turned out delightfully. They’re perfectly moist, have a dense crumb, and are lightly sweet. I tossed 3/4 cup of chocolate chips and 3/4 cup of pecans into my dough, but you can experiment with all sorts of add-ins. You really can’t go wrong.

birthday double chocolate zucchini bread

“It’s a zucchini the size of a baby,” my friend told me.  She handed me the Anthropologie bag that I had been eyeing earlier, wondering what she had bought.

Inside was a zucchini that was definitely the size of a baby.  On steroids.

“Next year, I’m only planting two zucchini plants, because this is insane.”

I nodded in agreement, but selfishly, I hoped she’d keep them up.  And that I’d continue to be a recipient of this squashy windfall.

“You know,” she continued, “King Arthur Flour just posted a recipe for Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread.”  And just like that, my birthday baking project was chosen for me.

The recipe calls for two cups of grated zucchini.  My monster squash would’ve made 10 cups, so I used the remaining veg to make Parmesan Zucchini as a side dish for last night’s dinner (you didn’t think I would make dinner on my BIRTHDAY, did you?).  The zucchini adds absolutely no flavor to the bread, only tons of moisture.

What you really taste with this dessert is the yummy, yummy chocolate.  I used my Godiva baking cocoa and Godiva dark chocolate chips to make the whole thing feel very adult and extra special.  If I had self control, I would’ve let it cool before slicing, but being implusive AND the birthday girl, I just dove right in.

Since it’s a most special day, I’ve ruled that this is not just a dessert bread, but a breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack bread as well.  And as such, I will continue to eat this ’round the clock.  In fact, if you’ll excuse me, it’s officially Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread snack time and I’d hate to be late.

Happy Wednesday!

champion cheesy sandwich loaf

I love making bread (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit XYZ). But even I can admit that the kneading, and the rising, and the deflating, and the shaping can feel like a lot when all you want is a warm loaf of bread to dip some olive oil in or convey bologna and cheese from your fridge to your mouth. I get it.

Actually, King Arthur Flour gets it. I just follow their lead. Which is why KAF is pretty much my best friend in baking. The kind of BFF that remembers your crazy, complicated order at Starbucks (tall, two-pump sugar-free vanilla, skinny misto, please) and tells you if that sweater you’re trying on is washing you out.

So when I needed a loaf bread for sandwiches and general nomming, and didn’t want to deal with the fuss of your average bread recipe, I reached for my King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion and landed on this easy, cheesy sandwich loaf.

How easy is this recipe? Well, you throw all the ingredients in at the same time. And then you let your mixer knead the dough into a ball. Let that rise for an hour, then throw it in a loaf pan to rise a little more.  Then bake it. Too hard? Too complicated? I think not.

I was happy (and Nate was thrilled) with how this loaf turned out.  It’s dense and moist and really good with butter, deli meats, or all by itself. I won’t tell you how to eat it, just that you MUST eat it. And soon. Because if you want KAF to be your bestie too, you’re going to have to show some devotion. And maybe learn how it takes its coffee.

Cheese Bread

King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion Cookbook

-1 packet instant (rapid rise) yeast
-1/4 cup water
-1 cup milk
-1 and 1/4 tsp salt
-1 TBSP sugar
-3 and 1/2 cups AP flour
-1 cup finely grated cheddar
-1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
-2 TBSP veggie oil

Combine all ingredients in your mixer (or in a bowl) and knead by hand or with a dough hook until a soft, smooth dough forms. The dough should be soft, but not sticky (add water or flour to achieve this consistency).  Cover and let dough rise for one hour, or until puffy.

Lightly grease your work surface and roll out the dough into an 8-inch log. Transfer the log to a lightly greased 8.5″ x 4.5″ loaf pan. Cover and let dough rise until just barely over the rim, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove bread from the oven, take it out of the pan, and let it cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and serving.

cake of the month, part 8: fudge-glazed creamy peanut butter cake

Hi.  Hiya.  How are ya?

Did you have a nice Valentine’s Day?  Did you have a lot of people wish you a Happy ValenTIME’s Day?  I did.  It’s a little worrying, if I’m being honest.

Here at Casa de Condo, we celebrate the day after Valentine’s.  It’s the day we got engaged four short years ago AND it’s a heck of a lot easier to get reservations at restaurants on February 15.  Also, we aren’t stuck with the boring Prix Fixe menus eateries in this area push on the major holidays.  I’d like to have more than three options for dinner when it costs as much as a fancy new purse, thankyouverymuch.  Best of all, day-after-Valentine’s chocolates are half-price and still 100% delicious.  Yuuuuuum.

Anyways, I think one of the best parts of Valentine’s Day is the emphasis on homemade gifts from the heart.  So, I made my Valentine a little treat known as the Fudge-Glazed Creamy Peanut Butter Cake.  That’s one layer of moist, chocolatey cake sliced in half, filled with peanut butter fluff (for lack of a better term), and drenched in chocolate ganache.

Interested yet?  I was when I found it on King Arthur Flour.com.  What an endlessly useful resource.  My dream job is to work there–baking, taste testing, and baking yet again all day long.  If only they weren’t located in chilly Vermont (I don’t own rubber boots and Fair Isle sweaters make me look boxy).  Sigh…

Uh, where were we?  Right.  The best chocolate peanut butter cake EVER.  So, so good.  Make it for your next lovey dovey occasion, or to eat in front of the refrigerator in your PJs and bunny slippers at midnight.  This cake requires no pretenses–just a fork.  So dig in!

Check out the other Cakes of the Month!

June

July

August

September

October

November

January

pulled pork sandwiches with homemade buns

I am absolutely head over heels in lurve with Downton Abbey.  I love the dresses, I love the accents, and I LOVE the drama.  So, so, so much drama!

Like, what is with cousin Isobel, stomping around acting like she owns the place? Did Daisy make the right decision by letting William thinks she’s interested?  And what are O’Brien and Thomas up to this time???

Now, while I am a bit of an Anglophile in the TV and lit departments, I’m decidedly less so when it comes to cooking.  It’s nothing personal, of course, and I’ll absolutely devour and enjoy a nice shepherd’s pie or some figgy pudding, but my taste bud allegiance will always lie with good ol’ American fare.  That being said, I chose pulled pork sandwiches (from Real Simple) with homemade buns (courtesy of King Arthur Flour) for our Sunday Downton Abbey viewing  party.  Of two.  (Because there ain’t no party like a Condo party, cuz a Condo party don’t stop.)

I started this dinner around 10 am on Sunday morning, beginning with step 3 of the recipe from Real Simple (I didn’t want the side of broccoli slaw, but if you do, just start with step 1).  After completing the arduous task of throwing a handful of ingredients in the crockpot (read: not arduous at all), I turned it on low and let it do its thing for 8 hours.

In the meantime, I started the burger buns–there is a one to two hour rise involved, so I made sure to build that in to my cooking time.  And after a quick bake, I was absolutely astounded by how dense yet fluffy these were, and how perfectly suited they were to holding my precious pulled pork.

So pip pip cheerio, get this meal going tonight, y’all.  I can’t recommend it enough!

chocolate loaf cake

I noticed something weird about myself the other day.

Now, if you know me, you’re probably thinking, “Is she talking about the singing to her cat thing?  Or the fact that she lives in a bathrobe in the winter thing?  Or the always carrying spare tissues in the pockets of her winter coats thing?”

No, imaginary peanut gallery, it’s none of those things (but A for effort).  I noticed that I classify the foods I make by what I imagine their college clique would be.  You know.  If they were human.

Before you commit me, hear me out. In my mind, steaks are the jocks, cupcakes are the cheerleaders, fish filets are the athletes, and granola is an English major (I say that with much love, of course).  And I’m pretty sure you can agree with me on those points.  But when I made King Arthur Flour’s Chocolate Loaf Cake, I had a hard time finding a place for it.  It’s complex like the artist clique, with strong, deep chocolate and coffee notes.  But it’s sweet like the education students, and solid like the history majors.  So, after much debate, I’ve decided that this wonderful cake is double-majoring in Studio Art and Early Childhood Ed, with a minor in 19th-century British history.

I guess what I’m saying is this cake is a well-rounded dessert that won’t let you down.  And that it might be smarter than you are.