Strawberry Pretzel Salad Ice Cream

strawberry pretzel salad ice cream | sunsets on the side

strawberry pretzel salad ice cream | sunsets on the side

Strawberry pretzel salad is one of those magical foods from back when I was little.  You know the one…a pretzel crust, a layer of cream cheese filling, strawberries and jello on top?  It made an appearance at nearly every special occasion, it was incredibly delicious, and even though it tasted exactly like a dessert it was always somehow served with the main course like it was ‘regular’ food.  Then, dessert came afterwards.

2 desserts for the price of 1.

See?  I told you it was magical.

Today, we’re turning those flavors into ice cream because it’s high time we get this ice cream train started for the summer, no?  The weather has certainly been heating up, and I’ve been getting the most incredible strawberries at the store lately.  They’re definitely the best yet this year.

Between the strawberry sauce, the cream cheese base, and the mixed-in pretzel pieces, this ice cream tastes just like the (magical) strawberry pretzel salad you remember…only this really is a dessert.  And, this frozen treat would make a great finale for an upcoming Memorial Day picnic you might be hosting.  You can make it well in advance, so you don’t have to worry about it the day of (or even the day before) your party.  Just grab some cones from the grocery store, and you’ll have the perfect post-cookout indulgence.

Strawberry Pretzel Salad Ice Cream
 
Author:
Makes: 12
Ingredients
  • ~~~ Strawberry Sauce ~~~
  • 1 ½ tsp. cornstarch
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup diced fresh strawberries
  • 2 tsp. freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • ~~~ Ice Cream ~~~
  • 14 oz. cream cheese, at room temp
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup whole milk, at room temp
  • ¼ cup sour cream, at room temp
  • ½ cup broken pretzel pieces or chips
Instructions
  1. For the sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until completely incorporated. Combine cornstarch mixture, sugar, berries, and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 6-7 minutes, stirring often, until the mixture is thickened. Cool. Refrigerate until chilled.
  2. For the ice cream: In a stand mixer, mix cream cheese on medium speed until completely smooth, about 3 minutes. With mixer running, slowly add sugar and salt. Mix until smooth.
  3. Add vanilla and mix until combined.
  4. With mixer on low, slowly add milk.
  5. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and whisk until milk is totally incorporated into the cream cheese mixture.
  6. Fold in sour cream. Cover and refrigerate at least three hours or overnight.
  7. Pour chilled mixture into the frozen bowl of an ice cream maker and mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When ice cream is at soft serve stage (about 8-10 minutes), pour the strawberry sauce and the pretzel pieces into the machine and let mix.
  8. Transfer ice cream to freezer-safe container and freeze until firm.

Ice cream adapted from Cuisinart.

Blueberry Cupcakes with Blueberry Cream Cheese Icing

blueberry cupcakes with blueberry cream cheese icing | sunsets on the side

blueberry cupcakes with blueberry cream cheese icing | sunsets on the side

There are so many things to love about spring.  Abundant tree buds, cheerful daffodils, flavorful berries, pastel colors.

Actually, pastels aren’t really my thing (unless they’re decorating the crunchy outside coating of chocolate candy eggs), but everything else…yes.

Especially those berries.

blueberry cupcakes | sunsets on the side

Even though it’s not quite the season yet, I’ve been on such a blueberry kick recently.  The ones I’ve been getting at the store have been delicious, which means they’ve been going on top of my cereal, inside my yogurt, and now into these delicious treats.

The flavor combination of blueberries and lemon is one of my absolute favorites, and I feel like I’ve been waiting all winter for these cupcakes.

blueberry cupcake with blueberry cream cheese icing | sunsets on the side

Blueberry Cupcakes with Blueberry Cream Cheese Icing
 
Author:
Makes: 15 cupcakes
Ingredients
  • ~~~Cupcakes~~~
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 T. unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 T. canola oil
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ⅔ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • ~~~Icing~~~
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 T. blueberry syrup (I used Smucker’s)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cupcake/muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with the paddle attachment, cream together the sugar, melted butter, and canola oil on medium speed until well mixed (30-45 seconds).
  3. Add the egg and vanilla and mix to combine. Add the lemon zest and sour cream and mix (scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go) until well incorporated.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Working in 3 batches on low speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix just until incorporated.
  6. Gently fold in the blueberries with a spatula.
  7. Fill each cupcake liner about ⅔ full with the cupcake batter. Bake for 23-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  8. Let cupcakes cool for 5 minutes then remove to cooling racks and let cool completely. Repeat with remaining batter.
  9. Once cupcakes have cooled, prepare the icing. In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese and butter with a hand mixer. Add the vanilla and salt, and mix to combine.
  10. On low speed, slowly mix in the powdered sugar until totally incorporated and no lumps remain. Mix in the blueberry syrup.
  11. Ice cupcakes using an offset spatula or pipe the icing onto the cupcakes with a piping bag and tip of your choice.

Cupcakes slightly adapted from Cooking Classy.

Strawberry Lime Cheesecakes with Pretzel Graham Crust

strawberry lime cheesecakes with pretzel graham crust | sunsets on the side

strawberry lime cheesecakes with pretzel graham crust | sunsets on the side

This is probably my favorite time of year in St. Pete.  The humidity typically hasn’t picked up yet.  The temperatures are still cool.  It actually feels like spring.  Spring training adds a festive energy all around the area.  We usually get a lot of fun visitors from the north who just can’t take it anymore.

And, we have local strawberries.

Life is good.

When I originally started playing around with this recipe, I was using fresh strawberries.  And, darn it if I just couldn’t get it to work.  I buzzed up the strawberries, made a sauce, mixed the sauce into the cheesecake mixture, and…it just wasn’t tasting right.  So, I ultimately switched over to strawberry jam, and that worked like a breeze.

I sort of want to apologize to our local strawberries for skipping them this time, but I’m sure I’ll figure out plenty of uses for them in the upcoming weeks.

In the meantime, break out your jam, and try this little taste of spring.  Whether your temperatures are starting to inch upwards or it’s still a deep freeze where you live, this may just be a nice change of pace from your winter menu.

Strawberry Lime Cheesecakes with Pretzel Graham Crust
 
Author:
Makes: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • ~~~For Crust~~~
  • 4 whole graham crackers
  • 1 cup pretzels
  • 2 T. granulated sugar
  • 4 T. unsalted butter, melted
  • ~~~For Filling~~~
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract, divided
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, at room temp
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅔ cup strawberry jam
  • 1 T. freshly-squeezed lime juice
  • Zest of 1 lime
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers and pretzels with the sugar until they’re broken into fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and process to combine.
  2. Distribute crumbs evenly between 8 (6-oz.) ramekins, and press firmly into the bottom. Refrigerate the crusts while making the filling.
  3. Place the cold cream and 1 tsp. vanilla in a large bowl. With a hand mixer, begin to beat the cream on very low speed. Once it starts to thicken, turn the speed of the mixer up and beat until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
  4. With a mixer on medium speed, combine the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, and remaining teaspoon of vanilla. Add in the strawberry jam, lime juice, and lime zest. Mix until combined.
  5. With a spatula, fold in half of the whipped cream.
  6. Divide the cream cheese mixture evenly among the ramekins, and top each serving with a spoonful of the remaining whipped cream. Garnish with additional lime zest and sliced fresh strawberries, if desired.
  7. Chill for at least one hour or until ready to serve.

Filling adapted from Rachael Ray.

Jalapeno Popper Dip Stuffed Mushrooms

jalapeno popper dip stuffed mushrooms | sunsets on the side

jalapeno popper dip stuffed mushrooms | sunsets on the side

Sometimes planning a menu for the Super Bowl can be…overwhelming?  Is that the right word?

Probably not.

More often than not, though, you want to build an entire meal out of finger foods and dips, so what’s the perfect combination?  And, you don’t want to be working in the kitchen when your friends arrive or, even worse, after the game has started, so what can you make ahead of time?

Plus, the sheer volume of recipes to choose from can be sort of mind-boggling for people like me.  (“But, I haven’t looked at ALL my recipes yet; how do I know the choices have been properly narrowed down??)”   With so many classic, football-appropriate appetizers to choose from – spinach and artichoke dip, buffalo wings, potato skins, etc. – sometimes you need to throw a few together to cover all your bases.  That’s what brought me here…

…to these stuffed mushrooms.

jalapenos for popper dip stuffed mushrooms | sunsets on the side

They’re more than just mushrooms, though.  They’re stuffed mushrooms, jalapeno poppers, and popper dip all wrapped up into one!  Win-win-win.  You can make them in advance, too, if that helps take some pressure off of your planning.  I made that batch in the photo up there the day before I baked them, and you couldn’t tell at all.

Two things about the mushrooms, and then we’ll scoot you right over to the recipe.

First, the cream cheese mixture will fill approximately 24 oz. of mushrooms, whatever size you’d like them to be.  I bought really big mushrooms, and the filling was enough for 14 of them.  You could certainly make more, smaller mushrooms if you’d prefer.  Keep an eye on them, but the baking time should be about the same regardless of size.  You want them to bake long enough that the jalapenos have a chance to soften.  Also, you can use whatever type of mushrooms you like.  I used regular (albeit HEFTY) button mushrooms, but if you want to substitute creminis or even go for the portobellos, those would both be great, too.

Ok, let’s get to it!

Jalapeno Popper Dip Stuffed Mushrooms
 
Author:
Makes: 14 large mushrooms
Ingredients
  • 24 oz. mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
  • 1-2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 jalapenos, seeds removed & minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp. freshly-ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 2 T. unsalted butter, melted
  • ¾ cup seasoned panko crumbs
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13” baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Brush the outside of the mushrooms with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with black pepper. Place in the baking dish.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, jalapenos, garlic, cheddar, salt, and pepper.
  4. In a separate small bowl, pour the melted butter over the panko crumbs. Stir thoroughly to coat all the crumbs in butter.
  5. Fill the mushrooms evenly with the cream cheese mixture. Top each of the mushrooms with the panko crumbs.
  6. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the tops are a deep, golden brown. Serve hot.

Popper filling adapted slightly from Brown Eyed Baker.

Eggnog Cheesecake Ice Cream

eggnog cheesecake ice cream | sunsets on the side

eggnog cheesecake ice cream | sunsets on the side

Eggnog is a mysterious and magical drink that only shows itself for a few weeks each year around the holidays.  It’s thick, it’s (sometimes) boozy, it’s indulgent.  I remember, when I was a kid, my dad and my sister both loved eggnog.  I wanted so much to like it, too.  All these years later, though, I still don’t.

It’s a texture thing to me.  Drinks should not be that thick.  Especially spiked drinks.  But, the flavor?  The flavor is goooood.  So, let’s take the texture issue right out of the equation.  You with me??

I reached back in the archives to revisit my raspberry cheesecake ice cream recipe back from the Summer of Homemade Ice Cream.  I’ve made so many variations of this recipe by now, but I’m still not tired of it.  And, this variation celebrates everything good about eggnog.  It’s festive!  Rich!  Delicious!  And, it plays up the thick texture in a new and entirely pleasing way.

Eggnog Cheesecake Ice Cream
 
Author:
Makes: 1 Quart
Ingredients
  • 12 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup mascarpone, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup eggnog, at room temp
  • ¼ cup sour cream, at room temperature
Instructions
  1. In a stand mixer, mix cream cheese and mascarpone on medium speed until completely smooth, about 3 minutes.
  2. With mixer running, slowly add sugar and salt. Mix until smooth. Add vanilla and cinnamon, and mix until combined.
  3. With mixer on low, slowly add the eggnog.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and whisk until eggnog is totally incorporated into the cream cheese mixture. Fold in sour cream.
  5. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours or overnight.
  6. Pour chilled mixture into the frozen bowl of an ice cream maker and mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When ice cream is at soft serve stage (which only took about 15 minutes because of the cheese in this recipe), transfer to freezer-safe container and freeze until firm.

Adapted from Cuisinart.

Chewy Ginger Sandwich Cookies with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling

chewy ginger sandwich cookies cinnamon cream cheese filling | sunsets on the side

chewy ginger sandwich cookies cinnamon cream cheese filling

I saw the Hershey’s Kisses Christmas commercial the other day.  The one where the Kisses are bells that play “We Wish You a Merry Christmas?”  I love that commercial.  I love it when the little Kiss sighs with relief at the end.  Adorable.  And, I’m almost ready to jump right into the holiday season.

Almost, but not quite.

I’m not ready to give up on fall just yet.  With less than two weeks until Thanksgiving, I’m hunting down every last bit of squash-leaf-orange-acorn-ginger-pumpkin-apple goodness I can find.  I found some in these cookies.

chewy ginger sandwich cookies cinnamon cream cheese filling

Oh, man.  These cookies.

These cookies are packed with fall flavors, they’re fast and easy to whip up, and they make the house smell positively amazing when they’re in the oven.

But, the thing I think I love most about them is their texture.  The cookies are firm but chewy, coated in crunchy sugar, with just the right amount of warm spice.  The icing is packed with cinnamon flavor and oozes out just slightly when you take a bite.

The non-pumpkin-pie fan in me thinks these would make a perfect Thanksgiving dessert.  But, if a Thanksgiving without pie is too radical (I understand), these make a delicious mid-November treat for absolutely no reason at all.

Chewy Ginger Sandwich Cookies with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Filling
 
Author:
Makes: 30 sandwich cookies
Ingredients
  • ~~~For the cookies~~~
  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • ¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T. water
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • ~~~For the filling~~~
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 T. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. For the cookies: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, ¾ cup granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix well. Beat in the water and the molasses.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the batter slowly and mix until just combined. Refrigerate the dough until firm enough to roll, about 20 minutes.
  5. Place the remaining ¼ cup granulated sugar into a small bowl.
  6. Using a 1 ¼” scoop, scoop the dough, roll into balls, and roll the balls in the sugar. Place the balls of dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten slightly with your fingers or with the bottom of a glass.
  7. Bake for 7-8 minutes. Let cookies cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. For the filling: In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese and butter with a hand mixer. Add vanilla, cinnamon, and salt, and mix until combined. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and mix until totally smooth.
  9. When cookies have cooled, spread filling onto half of the cookies (onto the flat bottom side), and then top with the remaining cookies.

Cookies adapted from Allrecipes.

Swiss, Bacon & Almond Dip

swiss bacon and almond dip

swiss bacon and almond dip

A girl really can’t have too many dip recipes, am I right?

I’m forever needing new variations on appetizers, especially during football season and throughout the holidays.  And, hot dips are perfect to take when we trade houses with a couple of our good friends for game viewing occasions during the fall and winter.  Just pop it out of the oven, throw on some foil, and hit the road.

This particular dip feels a bit “Oktoberfest” to me.  With the mustard and the Swiss, it feels like something you’d want to slather on a brat.

Actually…

You could crush up some of the pretzel chips you’re using for dipping, stir them in, and then slap it on a brat.  Hmmm…

No, I didn’t.  I stuck with the dip.  But, that really does sound good…

Swiss, Bacon & Almond Dip
 
Author:
Makes: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • 8 pieces of bacon, chopped
  • 1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. whole grain mustard
  • ¼ tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups shredded Swiss cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray an 8 x 8” baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Spread sliced almonds out into an even layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 4 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  3. Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until pieces are browned and cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, whole grain mustard, and black pepper until well combined. Stir in the scallions, swiss, and cooked bacon. Gently fold in the toasted almonds, leaving a handful for garnish at the end.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the top is brown and the dip is bubbling. Garnish with remaining almonds.
  6. Serve with pretzel chips or crackers.

Adapted from Rachael Ray.

No-Bake Mini Pumpkin Mousse Pies

no bake pumpin mousse pies

no bake pumpin mousse pies

As much as I love (almost) everything pumpkin-flavored in the fall, I’m just not a fan of pumpkin pie.  Part of it is that I’d always rather have a fruit pie (preferably blueberry, please!), but part of it is the texture of all that thick pumpkin.  I always feel like it needs…something.

Folding in the whipped topping (or, if you prefer to make your own homemade whipped cream, go for it!) gives these desserts a mousse-like lightness that wipes out the texture problem for me.  But, the warm spices give you what you want in a pumpkin dessert that keeps it feeling oh-so-fall.

No-Bake Mini Pumpkin Mousse Pies
 
Author:
Makes: 10 (6-oz.) servings
Ingredients
  • 9 T. (1 stick + 1 T.) unsalted butter, divided
  • 9 whole graham crackers (1 sleeve)
  • 2 T. granulated sugar
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, at room temp
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
  • 1 T. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. molasses
  • 1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 (8 oz.) container lite Cool Whip whipped topping
Instructions
  1. Melt 4 T. of butter. Let the remaining 5 T. come to room temperature.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers, with the granulated sugar and brown sugar, until they turn into fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and process to combine.
  3. Distribute crumbs evenly between 10 (6-oz.) ramekins (or fewer larger ramekins) and press firmly into the bottom and partially up the sides. Refrigerate the crusts while making the filling.
  4. With a mixer on medium speed, combine cream cheese and the remaining 5 T. butter. Slowly mix in powdered sugar until the mixture is totally smooth.
  5. Add the pumpkin and mix to combine.
  6. Add vanilla, molasses, and the spices. Mix until completely incorporated.
  7. With a spatula, fold in ¾ of the tub of Cool Whip.
  8. Divide pumpkin mousse evenly among the ramekins, and top each serving with a spoonful of the remaining Cool Whip. Chill for at least one hour or until ready to serve.

Adapted from Joy the Baker and A Family Feast.

Spinach & Artichoke Twice-Baked Potatoes

spinach-artichoke-twice-baked-potatoes

spinach-artichoke-twice-baked-potatoes

Do you have a hard time answering the question, “what’s your favorite food?”  I do.  It changes by the day.  It changes by the time of day.

But, if I really had to think hard and commit to an answer, it would, most likely, be mashed potatoes.  I love mashed potatoes.

Like…I love them.

My Mom made us mashed potatoes almost every Saturday night throughout my entire childhood, and I never, ever got tired of them.  Actually, I still request them every time I’m home.

And, twice-baked potatoes were such a treat.  A baked potato and mashed potatoes all in one?  Yes, please!  For whatever reason, they tended to show themselves only on birthdays and other occasions for specially-requested foods.  So, they still feel like a treat to me.  Traditional twice-bakeds are wonderful, and I’ve started playing with different flavor combinations to ramp them up a bit.  Twice-baked potatoes meet spinach and artichoke dip…  Yes, I think so.

Spinach & Artichoke Twice-Baked Potatoes
 
Author:
Makes: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 3 large baking potatoes
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (9 oz.) bag fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 3 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 T. butter, melted
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 4 oz. fontina, grated
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 1 (6.5-oz.) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Pierce clean potatoes with a fork multiple times. Place directly on the oven rack and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until they’re cooked through and the inside is soft. Let cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the spinach and season with salt and pepper. Stir to coat with the olive oil and let cook until spinach is wilted, about 7-8 minutes. Let cool and then push against a mesh strainer to squeeze out the excess liquid.
  3. When potatoes are cool enough to touch, slice each in half lengthwise and scoop the flesh (leaving enough of a border that the potato halves hold their shape) into a large mixing bowl. Brush the inside of each emptied potato half with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set on a baking sheet.
  4. Add cream cheese, butter, sour cream, ¾ of the fontina, and the ¾ tsp. salt to the potatoes. Mix with a hand mixer until completely smooth. Fold in the spinach and chopped artichokes. Scoop even portions of the potato mixture into the empty potato halves. Sprinkle the tops with shredded parmesan and the remaining fontina.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes until cheese is melted and potatoes are heated through.

 

 

 

Creamy Sausage & Mushroom Dip

creamy sausage mushroom dip | sunsets on the side

creamy-sausage-mushroom-dip

I’m always on the hunt for great dips to serve throughout football season.  There’s just something that screams “game time,” when your guests walk into a house that smells incredible and already has some food on the (coffee)table.

It’s on.

I based this recipe on a crab dip that I’ve made a number of times (check that one out, too…it’s delicious).  But, I have some VIPs in my life that either don’t care for seafood or who are allergic.  So, I created this alternative version that’s chock full of savory sausage and mushrooms but brightened up with the fresh tomatoes, basil, and lemon juice.

My boys have a big game tonight.  Hopefully this dip will bring them (and your team) some much-needed luck!

Creamy Sausage & Mushroom Dip
 
Author:
Makes: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • ½ lb. loose sweet Italian sausage
  • ½ - 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 4 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and diced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh basil
  • Salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8 x 8” baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the sausage and cook, breaking it into small pieces with your spoon, until it’s golden brown and cooked through, about 10-15 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the sausage to a paper towel-covered plate to drain and cool.
  3. Add the sliced mushrooms to the same pan (adding olive oil, if needed, depending on how much fat is left behind from the sausage), season with salt and pepper, and let cook for 8-10 minutes, until the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated and they start to brown. Add the garlic and let cook 1 minute longer. Set aside to let cool.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, and lemon juice until completely smooth. Fold in the grated cheese, red pepper flakes, tomatoes, green onions, and basil. Season with black pepper, and stir in the sausage and mushrooms.
  5. Pour the mixture into the baking dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is brown and the dip is bubbling.
  6. Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.

Adapted from Bobby.

Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

raspberry-cheesecake-ice-cream

IMG_0064_1

This has been declared the summer of homemade ice cream! (exclamation point deemed necessary) in our house, which has meant a new creation practically every week.  It’s been a delicious adventure, one that has just reinforced the many happy memories I have of homemade ice cream.

My (non-twin) sister and I share the same birthday.  It was sort of an event in our house, and, when we were little, my Dad would make homemade vanilla ice cream to go with our chocolate birthday cake.  I came from a household filled with incredible food, but there was something about that ice cream…  It was special because, of course, it tasted SO much better than store-bought ice cream.  But, it was mostly special because our Dad made it.  He isn’t known for spending time in the kitchen, so it was a special treat for him to make something delicious in honor of our day.  And, unlike today, making ice cream back then meant a lot of hard labor and, from what I remember (?), a ton of salt and ice.

It really was a labor of love, and it sure tasted like it.

This summer, I’ve been happily taking flavor requests from my husband.  My man: he loves the raspberry.  And, this cheesecake base is too good to only make once (or twice).  It’s great on its own, for sure, but with mix-ins, it’s just beyond.  So far I’ve done a strawberry/blueberry as well as a lemon version.  Both containers were licked clean.  But, this one is the perfect combination.  The cheesecake base is rich and sweet, the raspberries and lime make it tart and summery.  It’s sweet tart berry heaven.

A couple things about this recipe: (1) I decided to puree the raspberries so that there weren’t any seeds in the ice cream.  Truthfully, raspberry seeds sort of bug me (no offense, raspberries).  But, I know some people think it’s not a true raspberry experience unless there are seeds, which I can understand.  If that’s your preference, just omit the food processing step, leave the berries whole, and cook them down that way.  (2) I used the 1/3 less fat Philly cream cheese in this recipe, so that’s technically Neufchatel cheese, not cream cheese.  I wasn’t trying to lighten it up.  It IS ice cream.  It’s just what I always buy and always have on hand, and I honestly can’t tell the difference.  I recommend not going light on anything besides the cream cheese, though (sour cream, milk, etc.), or else the texture will suffer.

Now, fire up those ice cream makers, and enjoy how much easier it is to make ice cream than it was in the 80s!

Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 6 oz. fresh raspberries
  • 1 ½ tsp. cornstarch
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 12oz. cream (or Neufchatel) cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup mascarpone, softened
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup whole milk, at room temp
  • ¼ cup sour cream, at room temp
Instructions
  1. For sauce: place raspberries in the bowl of a food processor and pulse just until the berries are broken down (8-10 pulses). Pour puree into a mesh strainer and push berries through with a spoon until only the seeds remain.
  2. In a small saucepan, whisk together the cornstarch and water until completely incorporated and no lumps remain. Add ¼ cup sugar, raspberry puree, and lime juice, and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat.
  3. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer 7-8 minutes, stirring often, until the mixture is thickened. Cool. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.
  4. For ice cream: in a stand mixer, mix cream cheese and mascarpone on medium speed until completely smooth, about 3 minutes. With mixer running, slowly add remaining ¾ cup sugar and salt. Mix until smooth. Add vanilla and mix until combined.
  5. With mixer on low, slowly add milk. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and whisk until milk is totally incorporated into the cream cheese mixture. Fold in sour cream. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours or overnight.
  6. Pour chilled mixture into the frozen bowl of an ice cream maker and mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When ice cream is at soft serve stage (which only takes a few minutes because of the cheese in this recipe), pour the raspberry sauce into the machine and let mix as thoroughly as you like. Transfer to freezer-safe container and freeze until firm.

Adapted from Cuisinart and Taste of Home.