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"It's so beautifully arranged on the the plate – you know someone's fingers have been all over it." – Julia Child

Posts tagged easy recipes

Who can resist a frosty glass filled with a thick, creamy, drinkable dessert? The milkshake, whether it be paired alongside a diner burger or used as an alternative for French fries to dip into (if you haven’t tried this technique, do so immediately), is iconic, nostalgic, and most of all delicious. A basic vanilla or chocolate version is perfect in its simplicity but additions can add some pizzazz and, well, shake things up a bit!

Colorful and patterned straws, fun-shaped vessels like curvy mason jars, and edible garnishes like our incredibly easy doughnuts are a few things you can use to take your frosty treat to picture-perfect heights.

Flavor additions are totally up to you and you can go anywhere from freeze-dried strawberries and made-from-scratch fruit syrups to pantry basics like sprinkles and crushed cookies. As far as the actual shake goes, we prefer an ice cream base. The fat content, flavor, and churning method will be different from one brand to another, so the addition of milk to thin it out just enough to make drinkable through a straw will vary.

Here are some basics we follow to make a standard shake:

– Place a glass in the freezer to chill for about 15 minutes.

– Start with about 2 cups of slightly softened ice cream of your choice and 1/3 cup whole milk, then pulse in a blender to combine. If you’re adding runny ingredients like chocolate syrup, include them here as they will affect the drink’s thickness. Add more ice cream or milk a small amount at a time, pulsing between additions, until the desired texture is achieved. You can incorporate solids like cookie bits, chocolate pieces, or brownie chunks now, pulsing really briefly to just distribute them. You can stir them in, too.

– Pour your shake into the prepared glass and drink immediately.

– To make a multi-color, multi-layered drink all you need is a little patience and a clear, flat space in your freezer. If there’s room for a baking sheet or a cutting board in there, great!  You can cut down on prep time by purchasing a few different flavors of fruit sorbets, softening them a bit, and pulsing them with a splash of water until pourable. You can also purée frozen fruits of your choice in blender to make your own smoothie bases – think cherries, raspberries, mangos, and pineapple bits. Feel free to add fruit juices and even banana slices or yogurt (if you don’t mind a creamier look) to your blends.

– Start with ½ cup of one flavor and 2 tablespoons water, blend, and pour into a glass. You might need to decrease or increase the amount depending on the volume capacity of your glass and how thick you want your layers to be. Place the glass in the freezer and allow this first layer to set; the goal is to have it be firm enough that it won’t get all mixed up with the next flavor when you pour it in. Repeat the blending, pouring, and freezing steps until your glass is full and ready to drink.

– Don’t make this too far in advance because liquids expand when they freeze and the last thing you want is for your glass to shatter!

– To decorate the interiors and rims of your glasses: For the swirly looking pink splatter, you’ll need a chilled glass and a few tablespoons of homemade fruit syrup, chocolate or caramel syrups, or a diluted berry jam. Tilt the chilled glass, add a spoonful of the syrup, and swirl to coat the interior. Return the glass to the freezer for 15 minutes to set your design.

– For sprinkles in the interior or the rim of a glass, use a clean pastry brush (don’t use the same one you use for basting your BBQ ribs on the grill!) to coat the glass with corn syrup or very light honey. If you’re feeling extra crafty, use a thinner, flat-headed paint brush to create a pattern like a swirl inside the glass. Add sprinkles of your choice, cover the glass, and shake to distribute. Pour out the excess sprinkles and save for topping the shake or for another use. Chill the glass in the freezer for 15 minutes to set before pouring in your shake.

Note: Depending on the color and type of the sprinkles, the design is likely to streak and blend into the drink as it sets.

Happy sipping!

To be fair, our New York City winters are relatively mild, but the overall slate gray hue of the sky drags spirits down, no matter what the temperature. We are just beginning to spy cotton candy blossoms on trees and the clouds popping against a more emphatic blue. With that in mind, we turned to more vivid palettes in these special treats that are ridiculously easy to make and ideal to serve during Easter or at birthday celebrations for young and old.

EASY AS PIE DOUGHNUTS

Makes 8 small doughnuts or 10 large doughnuts *See notes at end of post

1 roll biscuits
8 cups vegetable oil

– Line a large plate or baking sheet with 2 layers of paper towels.

– Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large skillet with high sides over medium-high heat until temperature registers 350°F on a candy or deep-fry thermometer — or just keep an eye on it and wait for the surface to shimmer. (Oil should be 1- to 1 ½ inches deep).

– Add half of the doughnuts and half of the doughnut holes and fry until the bottoms turn golden brown, 1 to 1 ½ minutes small doughnuts and 2 to 2 ½ minutes for large doughnuts. Using chopsticks or tongs, turn the doughnuts and holes and fry until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer them to the prepared plate. See below for topping ideas!

FOR THE TOPPINGS

2 tubs store-bought vanilla icing
Food coloring of your choice
Sprinkles, gummy candies, or crushed cookies of your choice

– Place a cooling rack on a baking sheet. Transfer the icing to a medium microwave-save bowl. Heat the icing for 30 seconds, stir, and heat in 15 second increments until it is runny. Stir in food coloring of your choice. Dip the doughnuts in (you should dip the doughnut about half-way) and place, icing side-up, on the cooling rack. Repeat with remaining doughnuts and top with sprinkles. You can, of course, pour small amounts of icing into multiple bowls and add different food colors to each one for a more colorful array of doughnuts. You can also try the Plain Jane Glaze below for simpler doughnuts. We also like to make to toss them in granulated sugar and cinnamon for a quick breakfast or dinner party dessert.

 

PLAIN JANE GLAZE

2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

– Place confectioners’ sugar and salt in medium bowl. Whisk in melted butter, milk, and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth. Dip doughnuts and serve immediately. 

 

Notes: We use Pillsbury® biscuits for this recipe:

One roll of “Buttermilk” biscuits yields ten small (about 2 1/2-inch inches in diameter) doughnuts and ten tiny doughnut holes. You’ll need a 1/2-inch round cutter to punch out the holes (you can also use a bottle cap!).

One roll of “Grands Homestyle Buttermilk” biscuits yields 8 large (about 3 1/2 inches in diameter) doughnuts and eight doughnut holes. You’ll need a 1-inch round cutter to punch out the holes.

 

My partner in crime, Maria has been on location for a bit, so I whipped up one of my basics to share on the blog. Almond milk has  been one of my favorite milk alternatives for years. It’s a simple process, and so worth the effort. Trust me, once you make your own, you’ll never buy it in a store again.

I’m a bit of a purist, and I like to keep my milk on the simple side. That said, there are multiple ways to jazz it up if  you’d like. I have some recommended variations that follow the recipe.

One of my recent obsessions is Dorset Maple Reserve -Vermont Maple Syrup, Bourbon Barrel Aged.  It is amazing! I’ve been using it to sweeten my almond milk and my coffee.

ALMOND MILK

Makes about 3 cups

1 cup raw soaked almonds
3 ½  cups filtered water
pinch of good salt
sweetener of choice – maple syrup, honey, agave
cheese cloth or nut milk bag
blender

– Soak the almonds in filtered water for at least 6 hours, or just soak overnight.

– Drain, rinse and place the almonds in a blender.

– Add the 3 ½ cups of filtered water and the salt.

– Blend on high for about 2 minutes. Taste, and add a sweetener if desired. I prefer maple syrup, but use what you like. Start with a small amount, about  ½ teaspoon. You can always add more if you need it.

– Strain the almonds with a cheesecloth-lined strainer, or a nut milk bag. Press or squeeze the milk through the strainer in order to get all the milk.

– Store the milk in a jar in your refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Variations: Try adding cinnamon, vanilla bean or vanilla extract, trading out the almonds for raw cashews or raw Brazil nuts.

– You can save the almond meal to use for  things like “breading” for chicken, fish, pork, or casseroles. It can also be added to oatmeal, smoothies or yogurt as a topping.

– Simply line a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake at 200°F for about 2 hours until it is dry and crumbly. Store in an airtight container.

-If you decide to make nut milk more than once, a nut milk bag  will really come in handy, and they’re environmentally friendly. There are plenty to choose from.