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Archive for the ‘frozen treats’ Category

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Today is Cinqo de Mayo, the day that commenmorates the victory of a Mexican battalion against French military forces in 1862 near the city of Puebla. It’s not a national holiday in Mexico, however, large celebrations do take place in some areas of the country, primarily in the state of Puebla. Growing up in Arizona, it was always bigger than Mexican Independence Day in September and we always celebrated it with margaritas and enchiladas. Classy. This year, rather than enchiladas, I’ve been on an ice cream kick. Big time. Earlier in the week it was horchata with strawberries, today it’s a take on one of the best cakes ever: Tres Leches.

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I do so love a good, cold glass of horchata, that milky ivory-hued beverage often found in taquerias that, if good, tastes like liquified rice pudding. Many places buy it premade or premixed or whatever, but if you’re lucky, you’ll stumble upon a special little gem that makes it from scratch. A place that soaks rice and almonds and cinnamon sticks for a good long while to extract every flavorful bit out of those seemingly innocuous ingredients. When done right, it’s a magical thing.

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In my search this month of “food holidays” I learned, among other interesting facts, that today is National Chocolate Mint Day. Hooray! Who even knew we needed such a thing? The Chocolate Mint Council? The US Mint Growers? I’m baffled by how these things come to be and I spent many years in corporate advertising. I know more about promotion than the average Joe and I still can’t figure this one out. But if this means I can make chocolate mint ice cream to celebrate under the pretense of some nationally designated day, then damn straight I will. Why not? I’ll add it with National Cream Cheese Brownie Day to my list of important February days to remember. You should too. Put that into iCal right now so you don’t forget.

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Growing up in Arizona, during the blazing summer months I’d wake up early, throw on my bathing suit, and run out the door at the first possible moment. Sometimes, I wouldn’t come home until dinnertime. We were a neighborhood of girls, all within a year or two of each other, each with younger siblings. My day would consist of running back and forth between various backyard pools, getting shooed away only when the little ones had to take naps. We were a rowdy, noisy lot and this minor inconvenience didn’t slow us down in the least. We’d just go to the next pool and continue in this fashion until it was time to move onto the next house or go home. I’d like to think the neighborhood moms coordinated their infant’s sleep schedules to accommodate our summer priorities. Sure they did.

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I’ve often wondered about Brown Bread Ice Cream. What was it? Who puts bread in ice cream? In my mind, it was a major disconnect. Bread + Ice Cream = Huh? During my research into Irish recipes, this one came up several times yet I’ve never tasted, much less made it. Why would you do such a thing? Cookies yes, but bread? Brown wheat bread? But you know I was intrigued. My friend Meg once made an amazing ice cream with popcorn so how different could this be? I recalled a post David Lebovitz, the ice cream king, did a few years ago so I thought I’d start there. And you know what? It was really good and what better time than around St. Patrick’s Day to try this one out?

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As usual, I had things that needed to be dealt with.  I’d just accepted a new job and the thought of going back to a corporate-ish world, albeit one with a steady paycheck and things called benefits, sent me into a slight panic mainly due to another thing called vacation policy.  Aww, man.  I need to get a trip in.  Fast.  So I ran away to London to visit friends for one last hurrah.  The morning of my flight, I gazed into my refrigerator mentally sorting out what could stay and what had to go.  87 half filled jars of jam?  Stay.  That formerly beautiful now sadly wilted asparagus I hadn’t gotten to?  Go.  And right in the middle of all this sat a large, very ripe, very beautiful pineapple like some kind of Vegas showgirl.  Crap.

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A few Mondays ago, I was looking ahead to an unusually quiet week. For some reason, my thoughts were consumed with ice cream, frozen custard specifically. I was thinking back to a wonderful place in Milwaukee that I used to visit a few times a year with an ex. Leon’s Frozen Custard is an iconic family owned drive-in and has been a Milwaukee institution since 1942. A stop, sometimes two, was in order every time we visited family in Wisconsin. Though they served basic food – hot dogs and such – it was the frozen custard that we craved. The more I thought about the place, the stronger the pull. So that slow Monday, I hopped in my car and headed north just after the morning rush. Nothing like a day trip for ice cream to start the week off right.

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