Best Ever Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe, Courtesy of Alton Brown

I love ice cream, especially chocolate.  So when I saw Alton Brown’s recipe on Good Eats, I HAD to try it.  Alton has never steered me wrong, if I am looking for a recipe for absolutely anything, I check and see if he has one, because I know it will turn out amazing.  His chocolate ice cream recipe is just to die for.  It makes the creamiest, richest, smoothest, most chocolatey ice cream ever, so I wanted to share it.

Tip: Do NOT skip any of the steps, change or sub any of the ingredients (especially don’t sub regular cocoa powder for the Dutch kind! Use Dutch cocoa powder!), take any short cuts, or try to skimp on the cream and use milk.  Follow his recipe EXACTLY.  You have been warned.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/chocolate-ice-cream-recipe.html

I can never seem to get a half decent picture when I make this ice cream, this is the best I could do haha!

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Chocolatey all-in-one breakfast smoothie!

I have been searching for a breakfast smoothie that is a “complete” breakfast, that I can take on the go, and that actually tastes good.  Finally, I have discovered a combination of ingredients that tastes amazing and fits my breakfast needs!  With breakfast, I aim to get a good source of fibre, a good source of protein, and at least one serving of fruit (or vegetable).  Smoothies seemed like a good option to me for days when I am working in my office and can bring this smoothie to drink at my desk, but I struggled to find something that worked.  The struggle is over my friends…..I am in love with this smoothie!  It is so chocolatey, which for this girl, is a win.  I could eat chocolate forever!  There is no signal in my brain to tell me to stop eating chocolate 😉

Note that this recipe is very forgiving, and each ingredient can totally be adjusted to your nutritional needs and taste preferences.  Below is what suites my taste!

Chocolatey all-in-one breakfast smoothie:

(approx. 20g protein and 11g fiber)

– 1 banana

– 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

– 1/3 scoop of vanilla protein powder

– 2 tbsp chia seeds

– 2 tbsp Dutch cocoa powder (***see note on this ingredient below)

– splash of water (***see note on this ingredient below)

– variations: drizzle of honey, scoop of peanut butter, etc.

– 2 or 3 ice cubes (optional)

Directions:

Place all ingredients, except the ice cubes, in a blender, and blend until smooth.  Feel free to add the ice cubes if you want a more slushy texture, see below for how I like to make mine!  I use a Magic Bullet blender, as it is so easy and uses less dishes because you make the smoothie in the cup you use to drink it…it comes with travel lids to screw on and everything!

Note on the Dutch cocoa powder: I use Dutch cocoa powder instead of the regular kind because I prefer the taste of it.  I had never tried it until recently, and have totally fallen in love.  It makes for a darker colour, and a more rich and chocolatey, sort of brownie-like taste.  I highly recommend trying it!

Note on the water: I add a splash of water and then blend it.  Then add small amounts of water if necessary to adjust the consistency.  Sometimes I am in the mood for a thicker shake, sometimes thinner 🙂

Right before I head out the door, I like to add 2 or 3 whole ice cubes (the same way you would add ice cubes to a glass of pop for example).  This keeps my smoothie nice and cold- just the way I like it!  I like to keep the smoothie thick as this thins it slightly as the ice cubes melt.

Sometimes I like to switch it up with honey or peanut butter too!  Sometimes I have just this smoothie for breakfast, but sometimes I might have a handful of berries on the side or drink a small glass of freshly squeezed orange or carrot juice as well.

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A Glimpse of the Day I Turned 25.

This 4th of July, I turned 25.  Yikes.  25.  Life is moving so fast.

The Artist asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday.  There are so many fun things to do on a budget in St. Louis, but all I ever want is just some good, quality time together.  I had been wanting to go bowling for awhile, so we decided to incorporate that into our day, and there is so much good food around here of which I have a hard time choosing where to eat, I asked the Artist if he would pick the restaurant and then not reveal it until right before we left.  That in itself is a great birthday gift, haha, because I can never make a choice and am always overwhelmed by the oh-so-many delicious options.  It was SO nice to not even have to think about where to eat!  He decided on one of our favourites: Mission Taco.  Read about the extreme levels of awesome they have here, https://emilyandherartist.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/moving-food/

But even after we made these plans, I told the Artist that I didn’t care if they didn’t happen or if we ended up doing something else, that if the night organically led us elsewhere, or nowhere other then the couch, I wouldn’t mind.  The Artist and I spend a lot of quality time together on a regular, daily basis, and we are always going out on dates and doing fun things.  So my birthday was like any other day when you boil it down.  Even if we both have a busy day, we always take some time together, even if it is just a few minutes.  Sometimes we will chit-chat and snuggle and giggle before we go to sleep, or sometimes we will take time out of our busy days to cook together, which always brings about great conversations.  This is a quality about our marriage that I just love; we don’t use special occasions as a “reminder” to do something nice for one another or to go out on a date.  Actually, the last 2 years we weren’t even in the same city on Valentine’s Day, and we did our own little thing weeks earlier.  But on that day, we knew we were thinking of the other, and that is enough ❤

My birthday ended up including a delicious breakfast of chocolate pancakes and bacon, sleeping in late, a great after-breakfast conversation about our favourite actors (which included Anthony Hopkins, Meryl Streep, Nicolas Cage, Steve Carell, among so many others), a present, drinks, bowling, RummiKub, and tacos.  I have been loving the TV show Orange is the New Black, and really want to read the book.  But all the libraries around here have pretty large waiting lists, and each person have have the book for up to 3 weeks!  I was so disappointed when I discovered this, because I have such a craving to read it!

To my surprise, when I opened my birthday present, was a brand spanking new copy of Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman.  It smelled amazing.  I even fanned the pages a little because there is just something about the shininess and smell of a brand new book that is just so satisfying.  We usually use the library to read books, or get them for a quarter a piece at thrift stores or library book sales and in used conditions, so this brand new copy of my very own is such a treat 😀

He also got me new sunglasses because I broke mine and my backups are scratched like crazy, and then took me to the new candy shop that just opened down the street to pick out some candy.  He gets me.  He pointed out Sour Patch Peaches to me because he knows how much I LOVE peach candy, (a very specific flavour, I know, haha) and I couldn’t resist.  I also picked out some taffy, a cherry jolly rancher stick (which is awesome because that is the only flavour I like and didn’t have to buy a whole pack to get a handful of cherry candies), and what I was most excited about: the Harry Potter Chocolate Frog.

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Then onto a blueberry lemonade Smirnoff slushie, tacos and bowling.  I grew up with 5 pin bowling with tiny balls, so this intimidating 10 pin stuff was hard!  My goal of zero gutter balls went out the window in a hurry.  But it was fun, and we will be back.

 

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When we came home, we decided to play RummiKub, which is one of our favourite games.  We turned on some oldies music,  and of course, I won 😉

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We finished the night with some silly pictures, and watched Corner Gas in bed.

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Perfection.

What a wonderful life I have ❤

New Hair Cut!

The Artist is a man of many talents.  He can cook, clean, fix just about anything, paint his heart out, and among many other talents, he can cut hair.  He has been cutting his own for awhile now, and so I decided to let him have a go at mine.  It went great, and it has been a few years now that he has been cutting my hair 🙂  I have never coloured my hair, and I don’t blow-dry or flat iron on a daily basis (or ever, really…I don’t even think I own a flat iron?).  I don’t style my hair, I just let it do what it wants, and air dry after a shower.  So all I need is a basic trim with some long layers.

Before: I hadn’t had my hair cut in several months, so the layers were gone and all blended together, my hair line at the bottom was a straight line, and I had lots of split ends.

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After: Rounded hair line at the bottom, no more split ends, spruced up long layers.  It feels so much healthier, and exactly what I wanted.  The Artist always does a great job.

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And then I was able to style my hair nice and wavy for the MFA Open Studios night!  It never holds any curl, so I have to curl it super tight, and by the time we get out the door, it goes flat and looks like this 😉

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And then we came home, and the Artist starting painting away.  When he paints, I love to be there to watch.  He gives off such good vibes of energy, seeing him in his niche, doing what he is so passionate about, just warms my heart.

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And to make it an even better day, he comes back with this:

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He isn’t much of a chocolate fan, but knows that I am!  So he brought me this as a surprise!  And earlier that day I had been thinking to myself, that I wanted a good bar of dark chocolate, so when I crave some, I can have a square and not feel guilty.  He reads my mind on a regular basis, it seems.

Man, I have the most thoughtful, caring, loving, sweetest husband ever ❤  I know he is aways thinking of me while we aren’t in the same room, just as I am always thinking of him.

Spread the love.

Happiness is contagious.

More Holiday Fun in St. Louis!

The other day, the Artist and I exchanged gifts.  We always do this before the actual Christmas holiday because we are so busy visiting family, we like to have some private time to do our own celebrations- just the two of us.  The Artist knows me so well, and is so thoughtful ❤

He got me some knew slippers.  Sounds generic right?  Well my slippers are several years old and full of holes- I had to wear socks in them too.  So they were not only practical, they were so thoughtful.  He knew how much I loved cozy, soft things in general, and knew how much I would love the pattern on them and the tassels!

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And this hat- which I love.  The craziness of it, the pattern, the fluffy fur- he gets me.

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And some yarn for knitting.  He knew that my all-time favourite stuff to knit with is soft, thick yarn.  I don’t mind thinner yarn, but the thick stuff is my favourite.

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And he got me a stocking full of treats!

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Ring pops- because I had been wanting them lately, and couldn’t find any cherry.  Some dark chocolate including a bar from Trader Joe’s, because I had been eyeing them up recently.  A pack of bandages, because I am always scraping my knees, getting blisters on my feet and cutting my fingers.  This was intended as a joke, but I ended up scraping my finger the next morning!  And my very first nail polish!  Because I recently broke a life long habit of chewing my nails, and they are finally a reasonable length to paint.  I had this clear stuff that I got in high school and it is all gluey, and I had been wanting a coloured one.

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Before painting them.

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After painting them- notice the bandages lol!

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I got my Artist a coffee grinder and some Starbucks whole coffee beans, some Bailey’s, a decanter to hold brandy or whisky, some new juggling balls, and some odds and ends in his stocking like chocolate-coconut macaroons 🙂  Here is a photo of his coffee supplies and juggling with the new balls!

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Under the leg!

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He loves his coffee, and I knew he would love freshly ground beans every morning 🙂

He is so thoughtful.  He really gets me.  He really listens to me, and specifics about my tastes and preferences.  I feel so lucky to have a husband who is so in tune with me ❤

I also did some holiday baking, and of course made the Artist’s favourite- shortbread cookies.  I also made gingerbread cookies, some rice krispie squares, and some black bean brownies.  The brownies were mainly for me, as they are “healthified” and super gooey and chewy- a type of brownie the Artist isn’t partial to.  But my other treats were a hit 😉

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I am a little sad that Christmas in St. Louis is passing so quickly, but I am also excited to see family!  It is a bittersweet feeling.  Time seems to fly fast and faster which each coming month, and sometimes I just want things to slow down a little, to stop and smell the roses.  But time doesn’t slow down, only we can.  Which is why I try and savour the little pleasures together- like watching Home Alone in front of our lit up tree, enjoying mimosa’s and cheers-ing to celebrate so many things.

Cheers to a new year that is just as happy and fun as the last.

Donuts, Poutine, Truffles, and a Homemade Scarf.

My cheat treat this week was poutine, something I had on my mind and it was long overdue for achieving satisfaction.  I did it at home, because St. Louis has no clue what poutine even is.  I couldn’t find any cheese curds, so I just used mozzarella.  For make-shift poutine at home- I did pretty darn good.  It was really yummy, and the Artist even liked it too.

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The next morning we planned on grabbing donuts at World’s Fair Donuts-ok, so I had 2 cheat treats lol-on our way to the free admission of the Botanical Gardens.  We are cursed for this.  We have to get there before noon to get the free admission on Saturdays, and something always happens.  Sometimes there is traffic or an accident and we are stuck, etc. but this time, we got lost.  The road we were supposed to take was not a through road, therefore we couldn’t turn where we were supposed to.  Obviously, we got lost and drove around for like 2 hours.  We got there just after noon, and they wouldn’t let us in unless we paid.  So we got donuts afterwards and went grocery shopping instead.  World’s Fair Donuts are amazing, and so cheap.  A buttermilk cake donut is just 56 cents.  And boy are they ever tasty.

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There are no words to describe this.  You must try it to fully grasp what I am trying to tell you.  I could eat an endless amount of these and never get sick of them.  So good.

Hopefully next time we make it to the gardens on time.  I want to go again now that it is fall because of all the beautiful fall colours and nice weather.  And by nice, I do not mean scorching hot.  And by nice, I do not mean lung burning cold.  By nice, I mean a light jacket or sweater is all that is needed because the breeze is fresh and the sun is out- and we are far enough away from it now in November that it doesn’t feel scorching.

This nice weather makes me actually want to spend time in the kitchen, and not have to slave over a hot stove and oven sweating like a maniac- like during the summer.  So I made some healthy treats that taste amazing.  These little truffle bites are made with chick peas.  The Artist says they taste “healthy” but I think they taste the same as my non-healthy ones.  I posted about the non-healthy version previously….chocolate-peanut butter-pretzel truffles (or balls, or whatever you want to call them).  These ones consist of chick peas, organic natural unsalted peanut butter, a few pieces of chopped dates, and pretzels, blended together in the food processor.  It is sort of crumbly, but you can form balls in your hands and I rolled a few in dark chocolate, a few I left as-is, and a few I rolled in crushed peanuts.  I keep them in the freezer and eat them frozen- for some reason I like to eat frozen things.  Cheesecake, brownies, chocolate bars, fruit chunks, cookies, etc. etc.  I think it started with my impatience for not wanting to wait for them to unthaw, and now I prefer them frozen.

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On another note, I recently finished up another knitting project.  I have been doing this one forever- like over a year haha.  Like I said in my last post, I don’t get addicted to projects with smaller needles and yarn- and this one is both.  I made a scarf, with alternating knitting stitch stripes and stockinette stitch stripes.  It is attached at the ends, so you put your head through the whole, versus wrapping it around.

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The Artist is so sweet, today he made the bed for me.  And the other day he “forced” me to buy a $1 pair of Christmas socks, because he knows how much I love festive items, especially socks.  And this pair, for some reason, are my absolute most favourite, and he could tell instantly that they were perfect.  He also talked with me about future plans, where to live after he is done school, goals, career moves, etc. and we stayed up until the wee hours of the morning having an amazing heart-to-heart laying in bed in the dark.  Snuggling of course.  It was a really great talk.  He knows me inside and out, and there is nothing we wouldn’t do for my happiness.  And I for him.  This morning I made hime his coffee before I left, and placed a little love note on top of the coffee make so he would see it right away.  He says when he makes coffee, and when he does, it tastes like swill.  Swill, or hot brown water.  But the funny thing is, I don’t even drink coffee.  We came to the conclusion that when something is made for you by someone else with love, it makes a difference in the taste ❤  The other day he made me smile, and warmed my heart to the core.  He is so funny, and I love discovering his antics after the fact.  I come in and sit down on the couch beside him, and told him that his shirt is on inside out.  He hadn’t realized this and had been walking around all day like that.  “Thankfully”, he said, he “didn’t go out in public”.  My heart=warmed instantly.  He was more then likely focused on his painting and other works that he didn’t realize.  He sees the world in a way that no one else does- every shadow, shape, and colour is interesting.  Flaws are not undesired, but rather, beautiful and tell a story.  From his perspective, noticing his shirt on backwards, or being bothered to switch it, wasn’t important.  The world has too much else to offer.

Sometimes, we don’t need to “do” or “say” something, all we need to do is embrace one another.  These extended hugs communicate everything between us when words don’t have the right, or enough, meaning.

Take a moment out of the day and hug your wife, husband, partner, or significant other, and pause for a moment.  Embrace with your heart.  Draw a gentle circles on his/her back with your hand, or cradle their face.  Tell your partner how much you love them, how you feel.  Give gentle, tender kisses.  Maybe whisper words in their ear so it tickles a little, maybe even causes some giggling.  Touch your noses together, in an eskimo kiss.  Take a moment from the hectic, crazy, wild adventures of the day to really be 110% present with your partner during this embrace.  You may not even need words, because your hearts will say everything.  I can’t think of a better way to recharge.  Life is precious, and the little moments can really make a difference in helping to enjoy every moment of it, and treasure it.  You will be surprised how intimate this can be, and how it can really help connect you when your brain is running a mile a minute.

Happiness is contagious.

DIY Truffles

So the Artist had got me some very, very dark chocolate awhile ago and it is 90% cocoa.  It is very rich, I can only have a small bite at a time.  But, I thought, that maybe it would be great to use in a really rich dessert or truffle!  These may not be considered actual truffles, I am not quite sure what makes a truffle a truffle, maybe these are just a take on peanut butter balls?  Anyways, they are just delicious.  I looked up some recipes, but always seemed to be missing 1 or 2 ingredients, or wasn’t happy with what I was finding.  So I made this recipe up 😉  On the down side, I hope I can remember enough to make them again and write it down!

These are pretzel-peanut butter balls (or truffles, or whatever you want to cal them!) with a very dark chocolate coating, sprinkled with cocoa powder for decoration.

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Now that I am seeing the photos on the computer, they do not look as picture perfect as I thought.  Although they are not as perfect looking as those you can buy in the store, they are so good I could eat the whole batch in 1 sitting.  They are THE perfect blend of chewy- from the peanut butter middle, and crunchy- the bits of pretzel mixed in, and the saltiness from the pretzel balances the rich sweetness from the peanut butter mixture.  And the dark chocolate coating just tops it all off, adding the perfect amount of bitterness, but in a good way, to the ultra rich bites of heavenly deliciousness.

I had some chocolate coating left over, so I turned them into “chews”.  They aren’t chewy like toffee or anything, maybe a bit less chewy then a Starburst candy.  I thickened the chocolate and added coarsely salted caramel chunks and some pecans.  Then I messily wrapped them individually in tin toil- messily because they were sticky, and I was tired by this point, and tin foil because I laid them on that to chill and didn’t want to waste any more.  And the wax paper we have it horrible, it sticks to everything, and bakes into the food if we use it in the oven.  Again, not picture perfect looking, but these chews are amazing, and even though the photo is a bit blurry, there are teeth marks perfectly preserved in each bite.  The coarse bits of sea salt in the caramel chunks made for a perfect marriage with the intense dark chocolate.

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This was the perfect way to get the most out of the chocolate the Artist had given me.  It goes so nicely with these flavours, I can’t wait to eat more!

These reminded me of my sister, who shares my will-eat-anything-chocolate attitude.  Literally, anything chocolate, and in copious amounts.  I just wanted to send a huge shout out to her, and congratulate her on her huge success.  She has achieved every high school students vision as they step away from graduation.  To go straight on to school, get a bachelor’s, master’s and PhD, and roll right into the perfect job with health benefits, paid vacation, insurance of all kinds, etc.  And after over a decade of non-stop school, intense hard work, and passion so big there are no words to describe it, she has done it.  She will soon be finished her Phd in Epidemiology and has a job, with all the fixings secured.  Or is it Public Health?  I am not sure what the exact words are, but it is in that field.  I have had the pleasure to work with her on her research, and loved every minute of it.  It is so fascinating, I am so glad I got to be a part of it.  So, thank you.  I highly encourage everyone to check out her website: “www.sherileeharper.com” and take a look at her photos from her worldly travels all over the place for her research, her videos and interviews, and her so-amazingly-awesome-that-it-is-intimidating resume.  Seriously, I have never seen such a wicked resume.  The experience and the education is just insane.  And honestly, I am totally jealous of all her travels, meeting interesting people, and getting a PhD.  But in a good way.  I am so proud of her, and cannot look up to another person more then I look up to her (not including my Artist).  This weird seemingly illusion of people going to post-secondary school and then getting a really awesome job in their field is maybe starting to become a reality in this crazy world.  It gives me hope that I will go on to be successful in my field of study one day.

So a huge congratulations is in order here, because it is so awesome.  Oh, and did I mention that this awesome full-time, 50/50 research and teaching (professor), permanent position, with all the fixings one could ever imagine, is also on the tenure track?  Yep, it is.  She hit the gold mine.  And whether she knows it or now, she is helping me hit mine.

Congratulations, Sherilee.

Sherilee in the Arctic.

Sherilee in the Arctic.