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Thursday, June 19

spearmint ice cream in the making!

when i think of the best ice cream i've ever had, my brain flashes to this moment in time...spring 2006 brought me and 5 of my best friends to the land down under and Australians surely know how to do ice cream right. The place is Kiwi Cones and the flavor hasn't been found since. 

Spearmint chocolate chip ice cream. 
Its as simple as that [or so i thought] yet i have yet to find anywhere that has or can get spearmint extract. this year, there are no more excuses, i'm determined to make this summertime fave...starting with the spearmint extract itself. so i took it upon myself to cultivate my own spearmint leaves and have started the extract process! 

DIY Spearmint Extract

what you need: 

  • vodka
  • cleaned and dry spearmint mint leaves
  • jam jars




what you do:
take the mint and muddle it/open the leaves flavors up while in the jam jars. add vodka to the jam jars so that the leaves are fully covered. close up the jam jars and ensure that the leaves are still covered and place in a cool, dry place (under kitchen sink, in pantry, etc) for about a month. at the month mark, open them up and test the extract. if its not minty enough, close those suckers back up and keep them going.

my mint is still marinating and i will let you know how my spearmint extract goes as soon as its a bit further along! mine has been going for nearly a month now!

since we're on the topic of Australia...here are a few of our other faves :) 

Tuesday, June 17

happy 1/2 birthday myers!

is this sweet girl really 6 months old already?! where does the time go! happy 1/2 birthday myers! 

















Sunday, June 15

happy fathers day Sid!

happy fathers day Sid...you're the greatest! 






Thursday, June 12

new fave summer salad

after a fun weekend in highlands with friends who eat much healthier than joe & myself i've been turned on to all sorts of new healthy options for sides and meals! one thing that i recreated the moment i got back for a cookout was a great crowd pleasing salad! don't turn up your nose until you've tried it yourself! it is so yummy!

these quantities made enough for a party size salad to feed 10-12 adults

what you need:
-1.5 lbs of fresh brussel sprouts
-1 bag of spinach
-6 slices reduced fat bacon
-1 cup shredded reduced fat mozzarella or italian blend cheese
-1/2 cup chopped walnuts
-1 fresh lemon
-olive oil
-salt
-pepper
-dijon mustard

what you do:
get out that food processor or just start chopping those brussel sprouts after you wash and dry them. be sure to peel away any shady looking leaves.

chop the spinach into strips and combine in a large salad bowl with nuts, cheese and brussels.

place bacon on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 350 degrees until crispy [by the way this is my new favorite way to make bacon...looks gorgeous and is minimally messy]. once cooked, blot with paper towels and crunch up for toppings.

add bacon to the salad.

juice the lemon while watching for seeds. add olive oil and mustard by the tablespoon until well mixed. my large very ripe lemon yielded enough dressing with 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 tablespoons mustard. salt & pepper were added for taste. toss the salad with 1/2 the dressing before putting on the remainder. it does seem to spread throughout the salad as it sits and tastes best when dressed and chilled for an hour or two.
next time i make it which will surely be soon i will need to take a photo before chowing down!

Tuesday, June 10

spicy baked sweet potato fries

so joe & i try to avoid white potatoes at all cost and i would never have said i am a sweet potato person. i am however a "fry" person and given that we [with very, very rare exceptions] gave up fried food that doesn't happen too much either! however, on two recent instances i have had baked sweet potato fries and loved them!

this week we recreated the magic and tried to get some lessons learned from our past two experiences.

one thing is that sweet potatoes once you cut them all up make a lot of fries. below is two moderately sized sweet potatoes and their fry offspring!


what you need:
-2 sweet potatoes
-extra virgin olive oil
-salt
-pepper
-seasonings of your choice (crushed red pepper, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder...or all of the above)...i would recommend no more than 1 TBSP total of all flavors combined. it looks like a little but the cornstarch holds it on big time!
-3 tablespoons of cornstarch

what you do: 
this is where it got a bit interesting...cut the ends of the potatoes off so that you don't have odd shaped ends and then slice to about 1/4" by 1/4" and the length of the potato...easy enough. then for at least an hour [& up to overnight] soak [yes...in water...] the cut fries.
preheat oven to 450 degrees. pat off with paper towels after their good soak. line 2 baking sheets with foil and spray with cooking spray. put in a big ziploc the fries, oil, salt, pepper, cornstarch & spices. shake well.
line neatly [not all on top of each other] on a baking sheet. put on the top rack of your oven for 15 minutes then turn the fries and do 15 more.

if they're getting too crispy too quickly, turn down the oven a bit to 400 or 425...we all know how to monitor the cooking process! they very suddenly get cooked and sometimes too much at the end so pull them out before you get them charred!

one caveat that most don't know about sweet potatoes is their nutritional benefits. 1 cup of sweet potatoes can has 2 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber and virtually fat free. many mommies to be are mindful of certain vitamins, including vitamin A which these are loaded with.  if you're watching out for that, be mindful of where else you're getting it that day [if you have it included in your prenatal vitamins, other foods like broccoli & spinach, etc]. the recommended daily intake is about 2500IU and 1 cup of sweet potato has upwards of 6000IU