National Creamsicle Day

When I was younger, my favorite ice cream novelty was an orange creamsicle. Nowadays, I don’t discriminate. I LOVE ICE CREAM!

If you aren’t familiar, a creamsicle is a novelty made of vanilla ice cream surrounded with a flavored juice layer. They come in a few flavors but orange was and is still my favorite.

Fast forward to my adult years and we are always looking for the next tasty cocktail and I stumbled upon this recipe after trying for several months to get a good creamy, classic drink. I prefer my cocktails to be sweet, but not overpoweringly so. Here’s the recipe as follows:

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1 1/2 ounces vanilla or whipped cream vodka
1/2 ounce triple sec
Orange juice
Half and half

Pour the vodka and triple sec into a mixing glass filled with ice.
Fill with equal parts orange juice and half and half.
Shake well.
Strain into a collins glass filled with fresh ice.

Its super easy, simple and the ingredients are inexpensive. Also, its very refreshing to sip by the pool in the dog days of summer. Just remember, drink responsibly!

Until next time, Happy Baking!

Christopher

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August Already?

Are any of you parents surprised that school starts in like 2 weeks? My daughter is scheduled literally up until the day school starts with stuff. She’s on vacation this week with her grandparents and then she will be back for about 5 days prior to school starting. Where did this summer go?

As you can tell by the lack of content, I’ve been a little occupied this summer. I sprained my wrist at my day job and thats been complicating things a little. But fear not! New content is on it’s way!

Up first: August’s Color Scheme of the Month Ivory and Taupe. You may be thinking to yourself, those aren’t colors. Well guess what? They are certainly colors, just very subtle! The good thing about these colors is that they really can go with anything if you want a more dramatic main color such as bright pink, pale blue or even black! Happy upcoming school year to all you parents and kiddos out there. I will be back with more content before you know it!

Christopher

National Peach Ice Cream Day!

Happy Monday! Today, June 17th is National Peach Ice Cream day! Now I must share something you probably don’t know about me: I despise peaches. Canned, fresh, frozen, blech. I will drink them in a smoothie and eat them in some ice cream. I know, I know, i’m weird. The real reason I don’t like peach is because I may have overdone it on those gummy peach rings and a certain cocktail about the beach that has peach schnapps in it. Im sure you all have something you don’t like to eat that seems normal to others!

Today, I have worked on a recipe for a fresh peach ice cream you are sure to love, even if i don’t!

Ingredients

4 cups peeled, diced fresh peaches (about 8 small ripe peaches)
1 cup sugar
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (3.75-ounce) package vanilla instant pudding mix
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
4 cups half-and-half

How to Make It

Combine peaches and sugar, and let stand 1 hour.
Process peach mixture in a food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides.
Stir together evaporated milk and pudding mix in a large bowl; stir in peach puree, condensed milk, and half-and-half.
Pour mixture into freezer container of a 4-quart hand-turned or electric freezer; freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Spoon into an airtight container, and freeze until firm.

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You’re the inspiration…



Hello readers and welcome back! Its nice to see you again. I won’t horrify you with my karaoke rendition of the Chicago Classic. I just thought it was a perfect fit for today’s topic.

Today we are going to talk about inspiration. Inspiration is defined as the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative. Such a great word isn’t it? I want to share with you the person that inspired me to do what I do.

Now, promise not to laugh? Okay. I’m going to hold you to that! The person that inspired me to like cooking, and frankly follow that path is Martha Stewart. Hear me out…

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In the 90s, Martha Stewart had a show that aired on Saturdays on my local NBC channel. It was called Living, like her magazine, which was created as another type of media to consume for her fans. She was intriguing to me. A strong woman who liked “good things” and showed you how to get them too. It was the start of aspirational media. Nowadays, we have Instagram for that. People will post photos of themselves in expensive cars, with fancy jewelry or beautiful dinners. They are telling a story to the audience. Martha started that in the 90s, long before smartphones and Twitter and Instagram.

The format was a 30 minute show broken into 4 segments: home keeping, gardening, cooking and Good Things. I was captivated by the idea of this woman’s implied life. It wasn’t about wanting fancy things, it was about making beauty in the everyday. Martha was the original homesteader. If you aren’t familiar with the homesteading movement, its about returning to simpler times: gardening, backyard chickens, preserving, baking, basically creating or producing everything you need in life. Its something I aspire to: simpler times.

Martha Stewart today is one of the most well known personalities as well as the foremost expert on “Good Things”. She continues to publish cookbooks and magazines, has a website that is a wealth of knowledge and is very active on social media. She’s going to turn 76 this year. That’s impressive. She is a savvy business woman and has fought to keep everything she has. Yes, she went to prison for insider trading, which I’m not condoning. What is most impactful about that to me is the complete revamp of her show and magazine that followed. She was less robotic and more personable. She was laughing and having fun with guests. Hell, today she has a cooking show with Snoop Dog on VH1. She’s a good example of a come back. When life throws stones at you, you need to pivot. Martha has done just that.

Who inspires you? Share in the comments below.

Until next time, Happy Baking!

Christopher

Color Scheme of the Month: June

Welcome back to the blog! Its time for another edition of color scheme of the month.

Summer lends itself to the bright colors of citrus and that is exactly the inspiration for this month’s color scheme. Lemon, Tangerine, Lime. These vibrant colors can breathe life into any event. The good news about using these colors? You can incorporate the fruit into your design!

Citrus fruit comes in a variety of shades of these colors and great shapes too. They can add texture to flowers and since they are inexpensive, you can use a lot of them.

Christopher

Who Likes Chocolate?!

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Hey there! Today we are here to discuss one of my favorite subjects: Chocolate.

I dont think there is probably anyone that doesn’t know what chocolate is. It’s a staple in the American diet. It dates back to Central America in the 15th and 16th century.

“Cultivation, use, and cultural elaboration of cacao were early and extensive in Mesoamerica, to which the cacao tree is native. When pollinated, the seed of the cacao tree eventually forms a kind of sheath, or ear, 20″ long, hanging from the branches. Within the sheath are 30 to 40 brownish-red almond-shaped beans embedded in a sweet viscous pulp. While the beans themselves are bitter due to the alkaloids within them, the sweet pulp may have been the first element consumed by humans. Evidence suggests that it may have been fermented and served as an alcoholic beverage as early as 1400 BC. By 1400, the Aztec empire took over a sizable part of Mesoamerica. They were not able to grow cacao themselves, but were forced to import it.[2] All of the areas that were conquered by the Aztecs that grew cacao beans were ordered to pay them as a tax, or as the Aztecs called it, a “tribute”. The cacao bean became a form of currency. The Spanish conquistadors left records of the value of the cacao bean, noting for instance that 100 beans could purchase a canoe filled with fresh water or a turkey hen.[5][9] The Aztecs associated cacao with the god Quetzacoatl, whom they believed had been condemned by the other gods for sharing chocolate with humans.[2] Unlike the Maya of Yucatán, the Aztecs drank chocolate cold. It was consumed for a variety of purposes, as an aphrodisiac or as a treat for men after banquets, and it was also included in the rations of Aztec soldiers.[10]
Pueblo people, who lived in an area that is now the U.S. Southwest, imported cacao from Mesoamerican cultures in southern Mexico or Central America between 900 and 1400. They used it in a common beverage consumed by everyone in their society.” (Wikipedia)

Pretty interesting huh? There’s SO much information and history concerning chocolate that if I included it, you’d be reading forever today! Lets cover the differences between types of chocolate, shall we?

Milk Chocolate: Probably the most popular and most recognized type of chocolate available in the market. It is made by blending solid chocolate with milk, milk powder or condensed milk. Must contain a minimum of 10% cocoa solids.

Dark Chocolate: Created by blending cocoa, fat and sugar. Dark chocolate is semisweet, whereas extra dark is considered bittersweet, with little or no sweetening. Think baker’s chocolate blocks. Generally 70% to 99% cocoa solids.

White chocolate: made with cocoa butter, milk and sugar. It contains no cocoa solids.

So how do you use these different chocolates? Easy: Any way you please and to your personal tastes! One of my favorite things to do is to use bitter or semi sweet to make a flourless chocolate cake. Its fudgy, creamy and rich, three of my favorite things! Here is the recipe:

Flourless Chocolate Cake

24oz Semisweet or Bittersweet Chocolate Chips (Any brand, 1 entire bag)

1 stick of butter, unsalted

1 cup sugar, granulated

6 whole eggs

3/4 cup of water

Yield: 12 pieces

Combine chocolate chips, butter, sugar and water in a heat proof bowl, over a simmering pan of water, creating a water bath. Allow to melt. Stir to combine.

Remove from heat. Whisk in eggs until mixture combines to a smooth batter.

Pour into an 8” round cake pan lined with parchment and sprayed with cooking spray. Place inside a 10” round cake pan and place in the oven, preheated to 350 degrees. Fill the larger pan with water, creating a water bath like how you would bake a cheesecake.

Allow to bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from the oven.

Place in the refrigerator to cool overnight.

When ready to serve, run a knife under hot water, dry and run around the cake in the pan. Flip onto serving plate. Remove parchment. Top with sifted cocoa powder. Serve accompanied with whipped cream if you’d prefer.

The good thing about this cake is that it can be made with whatever chocolate is your preference. White, dark or milk chocolate. It’s very versatile. It’s perfect for a special occasion or just because. It’s very rich so try to pace yourself.

Until next time, Happy Baking!

Christopher