Summer Sweets: Chocolate Waffle Ice-Cream Sandwiches

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

We are in the midst of a three-day heat wave here in New England, with temperatures hitting the high nineties on Saturday, Sunday- and expected to do so again a little later on today. I don’t mind it at all- even if it means being a little sweaty and uncomfortable now and then, but it does make cooking/baking things- particularly things that need to stay cold- slightly trickier.

Case in point: these chocolate waffle and ice cream sandwiches I made yesterday afternoon prior to heading out to Western Massachusetts to meet a friend for dinner. As I tried to assemble the sandwiches, they were melting quicker than I could keep up- and more than once I had to pop them back in the freezer to get them more solid again before continuing sprinkling on the sauces and toppings.

But, they were worth it- since they were cold and delicious- and just what I needed on such a hot day!

And best of all? They’re pretty easy to make and completely customizable!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2¼ cups whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 pints ice cream (any flavor you want! I used sea-salted caramel!)
  • ½ cup caramel sauce
  • ¾ cup chopped salted almonds
  • ½ cup rainbow sprinkles
  • ½ cup melted dark chocolate

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. MAKE THE WAFFLES: In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder and salt to combine.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the milk with the melted butter, eggs and vanilla to combine. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and whisk to combine.
  3. Preheat the waffle iron. Lightly spray the iron with nonstick spray. Ladle batter into the waffle maker. Prepare the waffles according to the manufacturer’s instructions, 3 to 6 minutes. Repeat until all the batter is used.
  4. Cool the waffles to room temperature, then cut each into quarters.
  5. ASSEMBLE THE SANDWICHES: Scoop ½ cup ice cream onto one piece of waffle and top with another to make a sandwich. Repeat with the remaining waffles and ice cream. Transfer the sandwiches to the freezer until very firm, at least 2 hours.
  6. Dip or garnish the frozen sandwiches as desired into your caramel sauce and/oror melted dark chocolate sauce.
  7. Return the sandwiches to the freezer until ready to serve.

I’d like to try these again with mint chocolate chip (an even colder, more refreshing flavor) and incorporate different toppings in, as well! Maybe when the weather isn’t bordering 100 degrees outside, though. That might make these a little easier to put together!

Here’s hoping you all have a great start to your week! I have plenty more to share in the coming days!

In the meantime- have you entered my Beach-themed Summer Giveaway? There’s still time!

xx

– Ashley –

Backyard BBQ Recipes: Pesto Zoodles

Good Morning, everyone! It’s officially Hump Day!

I was really excited to share this recipe I whipped up this past weekend for a quick outdoor brunch with friends, because not only is it a healthier alternative to regular pasta (which I love, don’t get me wrong)– but it’s also really flavorful and super easy to make!

You can buy “zoodles” (zucchini noodles) pre-made in the produce section at most grocery stores, but if you want to make them the old fashioned way- you can pick up an easy to use and inexpensive spiral vegetable slicer like THIS ONE. I use mine to make zucchini noodles, summer squash noodles, and butternut squash noodles for my Fall/Autumn recipes!

But let’s get back to this very tasty- and very green dish- that only takes about 20-25 minutes to prep and cook!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

FOR THE PESTO:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • ⅓ cup pine nuts
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, or more as needed
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

ZOODLES:

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 zucchini, cut into noodles
  • 1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • Parmesan cheese curls, as needed for garnish
  • Red-pepper flakes, as needed for garnish (optional)

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. MAKE THE PESTO: In a food processor or blender, pulse the basil, garlic, pine nuts and grated Parmesan until coarsely chopped.
  2. With the food processor running, add the olive oil gradually and mix until the pesto is a thick paste. Add more olive oil as needed to adjust the consistency. Add salt and pepper.
  3. MAKE THE ZOODLES: In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the zucchini noodles and sauté until tender, 4 to 5 minutes more.
  4. Add the pesto and toss until the noodles are well coated.
  5. Serve warm, garnished with Parmesan curls and red-pepper flakes, if using, to taste.

What I loved most about this dish, apart from the taste- was that I didn’t feel overly full or stuffed after I ate a plate of it. I was satisfied and comfortable- and didn’t need to take a three hour nap while it sat in my stomach before I could feel energized or productive again. The zoodles were refreshing, filling- and delicious!

I’m looking forward to re-making this with a creamy Alfredo sauce in place of the pesto sauce at some point within the next week. I bet it’s going to be so good!

Here’s hoping you all have a terrific Wednesday! I’m off to work!

P.S. – Have you entered my Beach Giveaway?

xx

– Ashley –

Summer Sweets: Churro Bites with Chocolate Sauce

Good Morning and TGIF, everyone! We made it to the weekend!

With sunny skies predicted in the forecast this weekend, I have a feeling I’ll be making a trip to one of my favorite local beaches to soak up a little sand and saltwater before I swing by my scheduled plans with friends over the next couple of days. I’m just so excited that my cold/flu is gone and I can spend more time outdoors again! I hate being cooped up inside during the Summertime- especially after the brutal Winter we had here in New England!

But before I wrap up some things at work and head off to enjoy some much-needed girl time (and whiskey) this evening, I wanted to share a fun recipe I tried out a little earlier this week- a bite-sized version of one of my favorite boardwalk snacks- and one I’m sure I’ll be eating when I hit the coast tomorrow.

I’m talking about churros, of course! The fried dough and cinnamon treat is so simple to make- but I am loving these mini versions (served with warm chocolate sauce!) It’s like bringing the boardwalk right into your kitchen- without having to fight off seagulls, of course.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

FOR THE CHURROS:

  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

FOR THE CHOCOLATE SAUCE: 

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup heavy cream

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. MAKE THE CHURROS: In a medium saucepan, heat the milk, butter, salt and ½ cup water over medium heat. When the mixture comes to a simmer, add the flour and stir until well combined, about 2 minutes.
  2. Transfer the mixture from the saucepan to the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time and mix on medium speed to combine. Transfer the batter to a piping bag (or a gallon-size resealable plastic bag) fitted with a large star tip.
  4. In a medium saucepot fitted with a thermometer, heat 2 inches of oil to about 350°F. While it heats, mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a shallow bowl.
  5. Working in batches and being careful not to overcrowd the saucepot, pipe 2-inch strips of churro batter directly into the oil and fry until golden brown, about 4 minutes.
  6. With a slotted spoon, transfer the churros to a paper-towel-lined plate. While the churros are still warm, toss them in the cinnamon sugar to coat.
  7. MAKE THE SAUCE: Place the chocolate in a medium-size heat-safe bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate.
  8. Let the mixture sit for 30 seconds, then stir until smooth.
  9. Serve the churros immediately with the chocolate sauce on the side for dipping.

Keeping up with the boardwalk theme- I served these churros with ice cold and refreshing lemonade. The only thing that was missing was some saltwater taffy and a bottle of SPF50.

But really, these were so good and a lot of fun to make- particularly because they didn’t come out perfectly shaped. That didn’t take away from the taste, though! They were just as good as the ones you can buy at the beach!

Here’s hoping you all have a wonderful weekend filled with fun and sunshine. I’ll see you all again on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –

Backyard BBQ Recipes: Crispy Baked Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw

Good Morning and Happy Hump Day, everyone!

Yesterday was a bit strange around here- with severe thunderstorms sweeping through the state well into the evening. We even had a tornado watch in effect for a few hours- but thankfully nothing came of it apart from some slightly terrifying lightning and a bit of rain/hail. Just another late-Spring-early-Summer day here in New England, really!

Tonight I’ll be heading to the Paradise Rock Club over on Comm Ave to catch a set by Editors (who I haven’t seen in years!)- but before I power through my work day and get over to the venue- I wanted to share a recipe my mom and I whipped up this past Sunday while we were spending Mother’s Day together.

I’m a big fan of tacos- any kind, really- and experimenting with different flavor combinations is something I really enjoy when I’m making my own at home for myself or guests. I also love seafood- so street-style fish tacos are pretty much a win/win. Add some red cabbage cole slaw and a twist of lemon and/or lime? You’ve got a delicious lunch to serve at your next cookout!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

FOR THE FISH:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons store-bought taco seasoning
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1¾ pounds tilapia, cut into 1½-inch-wide strips

FOR THE CABBAGE SLAW:

  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 2 carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 2 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeño, minced
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime (for these tacos, I used a lemon, instead!)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE TACOS:

  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • 12 tortillas
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime (again, I used a lemon, instead!)
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. MAKE THE CRISPY BAKED FISH: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray it generously with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk the eggs. In another wide, shallow bowl, whisk the flour with the taco seasoning to combine.
  3. Working in batches, dip the fish into the egg and then into the flour mixture, tossing well to coat. Place the breaded fish on the baking sheet. Repeat until all the strips are breaded. Spray the top of the fish with nonstick cooking spray.
  4. Bake the fish until they are golden brown and very crisp, 20 to 25 minutes. Flip the fish with a spatula halfway through cooking to brown on both sides. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  5. MAKE THE CABBAGE SLAW: In a large bowl, toss the red cabbage with the green cabbage, carrots, red onion, jalapeño, lime zest, lime juice, rice vinegar and olive oil to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  6. MAKE THE TACOS: In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream with the lime zest and lime juice to combine. Set aside. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, place 2 or 3 tortillas in the pan and heat until lightly browned on both sides, 1 minute per side. Repeat until all tortillas are toasted.
  7. To serve, place 3 tortillas on each plate, and fill each tortilla with 1 or 2 pieces of fish. Place 2 to 3 tablespoons of slaw on top of each taco and drizzle each taco with 1 to 2 teaspoons of the sour cream. Garnish each plate with 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves.

I actually served the minced jalapeño separately so that my mom would be able to control the amount of hot and spicy on her own tacos (she’s very particular!)– and it worked out well! With some sour cream on the side for dunking//drizzling- there were so many amazing flavors incorporated into these- and I’ll definitely be making another batch of them soon!

Here’s to Wednesday being a breeze for all of us. It’s almost the weekend, everyone. Hang in there!

xx

– Ashley –

Backyard BBQ Recipes: BLT Pasta Salad

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone! Here’s hoping you all had a great weekend!

Before I dive right into my e-mails, early morning meetings and phone calls at the office- I thought I’d share a quick and easy recipe I tried out this past weekend for an afternoon cookout at a friend’s house (the first of many this coming season, I’m sure!)

I’m a big fan of the simplicity of BLTs for lunch- but I also think a backyard BBQ isn’t quite the same without a chilled pasta salad available as a side. This recipe combines the two- the minimal ingredients of the sandwich but with a more filling pasta substituted in place of the bread and a bit more flavor with a creamy and tangy dressing mixed in. Add some avocado and you’ve got yourself a hit for your next early-Summer gathering!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 pound bacon
  • 1 pound pasta (your choice! I used penne.)
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3 medium tomatoes, cut into small wedges
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Arrange the bacon on the baking sheet; season generously with black pepper. Bake until the bacon is crisp, 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from the pan from the oven and cool completely.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions, 7 to 9 minutes. Drain and cool to room temperature.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard and vinegar; season with salt and pepper.
  4. In a large bowl, toss together the pasta, tomato, avocado and romaine. Crumble the bacon into the salad.
  5. If serving immediately, add the dressing and toss well to coat. Or leave undressed and store in the refrigerator for up to two days.

This pasta salad was so good- and was a fun and flavorful spin on the usual macaroni salads I typically see at cookouts and backyard BBQs. Any leftovers (and there wasn’t much!) were placed back in an airtight container and refrigerated- and tasted just as good on Sunday during an indoor lunch when the weather didn’t hold out as planned.

I’m thinking I’ll be making another batch of this for my co-workers when we have our pre-Memorial Day weekend luncheon in a couple of weeks. Anything with bacon and avocado is sure to be a hit!

Try to enjoy your Monday, everyone! Let’s make it to the weekend!

xx

– Ashley –