Homemade Creamy, Sweet, and Slightly Tart Lemon Ice Cream with Raspberry Coulis

Today’s post is part of a series called Sugar High Fridays. Sugar High Friday is an “international sweet tooth blogging extravaganza” which was created by Jennifer, The Domestic Goddess. It takes place on the last Friday of every month and always has a different theme. Since you all know that I have a huge sweet tooth, I thought this would be a fun way to get involved in the blogging community, and get some new recipes!

This month’s Sugar High Friday is hosted by Alex at Yums and Loves and the theme is no-bake treats. (Be sure to go to Alex’s page to see what other yummy no-bake treats people are posting for Sugar High Friday.) When I heard the theme was no-bake treats I immediately knew I wanted to make homemade ice cream because to me, ice cream is the perfect no-bake dessert. I love ice cream, but since I am not eating any processed sugar this summer, my ice cream options are very limited (essentially to homemade ice cream only). I have been researching ways to make ice cream using natural sweeteners, but so far had not tried any.

When I was younger, we used to make homemade ice cream a lot, especially at our lake house. My parents have one of those old fashioned hand-crank ice cream makers so it always took a long time to make the ice cream. It was so hard to wait for it to be done, but it was always well worth the wait. My parents had a motto, “no crank, no cream” so making ice cream was always a team effort. As much as I love commercial ice cream, there is nothing like eating the homemade kind!

This is just like the old-fashioned ice cream maker my parents have.

I got my own ice cream maker for Christmas two years ago (one of the best presents ever). Let me tell you, it is waaaaay easier than the old-fashioned hand-crank version and the ice cream is just as tasty: win-win!

This is the ice cream maker attachment I have for my Kitchen Aid--LOVE IT!

I have made many different kinds of ice cream at home, but I must admit that I was a little nervous about making ice cream with natural sweeteners. I frequently use honey as a substitute for white sugar, but I was hesitant to use honey in the ice cream because I know that honey has a very strong and distinct flavor. I love the flavor of honey, but I thought it might be a little overpowering in the ice cream.

Since I happen to have Ben & Jerry’s book on making homemade ice cream, I decided to turn to them for advice. To my delight they actually had a section on making ice cream using sweeteners other than sugar. They agreed that honey has a very strong flavor and also said it caused the ice cream to have a “crumbly” texture after the ice cream hardened. They said that maple syrup is a slightly better alternative, but because its water content is high, it will dilute the butterfat and “affect the final richness and texture of the finished product.” Hmmm. After reading this, I decided to go with agave nectar because it’s sweet, but not overpowering.

Next, I needed to decide on a flavor. I thought vanilla seemed too boring, but I was nervous to try chocolate because I wasn’t sure how it would taste with my natural sweetener. While trying to decide on a flavor, we got invited to a dinner party with a Greek theme. They asked me to bring dessert so I thought it would be a great place to debut my naturally sweet ice cream. I decided to go with lemon ice cream because it’s a nice light and refreshing summer flavor that I thought would pair well both with agave nectar and a Greek-themed dinner.

Homemade Lemon Ice Cream


1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
zest from 1-3 lemons (I used the zest from just one lemon)
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp agave nectar*
2 eggs
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp xanthan gum (optional)**

Squeeze the juice from the lemons into a glass (or any other non-reactive) bowl. Add the lemon zest and agave nectar and refrigerate for about an hour to let the flavors come together.

Important: Once you’re ready to make the ice cream, you must move very quickly because if the lemon juice is left sitting in the milk too long it will curdle the milk!

Beat eggs in a mixer or by hand until light and frothy, about 1-2 minutes. Add the whipping cream, milk, and xanthan gum (if using) and mix on low speed until just combined (you don’t want to make whipped cream!). Add the lemon juice, zest, and agave mixture and mix until incorporated. Immediately pour into your ice cream maker and proceed according to the manufacturer’s directions.

*Agave is usually used in a 3:4 ratio to sugar. The recipe calls for 3/4 cup sugar (12 tbsp) so I used 9 tbsp of agave. The ice cream was not very sweet at all, which we thought was perfect, but if you like your ice cream a little sweeter, I would suggest using the entire 3/4 cup of agave. Perhaps the butterfat in the cream—and maybe the citrus too—cut some of the sweetness.

**Xanthan gum is used to help thicken things. Since agave is liquid, I thought the ice cream might be a little runny so I used a little bit of xanthan gum. I think it would probably work out fine without the xanthan gum though so don’t worry if you don’t have any.

And after 20 minutes we had this!

At this point I sampled it (of course) and thought it was fabulous. I transferred it to other containers and put it in the freezer to harden.

Ready for the freezer

While it was in the freezer, all I could think about were raspberries. I really wished I had some fresh raspberries to top our ice cream, but the commissary was all out. I racked my brain to figure out what I could use instead and after about 20 minutes I had the brilliant idea to make a raspberry coulis to put on top of the ice cream. Let me tell you, the combination of the slightly sweet and slightly tart lemon ice cream with the sweetness of the raspberry coulis was ah-maz-ing.

Raspberry Coulis


1 cup raspberries (I used frozen raspberries that had been thawed)
1/4 cup agave
juice from 1 lemon

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Strain coulis through a fine mesh strainer to get all of the seeds out. Refrigerate until use.

Everyone at the dinner party thought that my lemon ice cream was a perfect summer dessert. It wasn’t super sweet or too tart. Even though I was a little nervous about how the ice cream would turn out with the agave nectar, it came out perfectly creamy and delicious. The raspberry coulis paired really well with the lemon ice cream making for a deliciously creamy and refreshing treat. I highly recommend you go out and try this right now :).

Question: What is your favorite no-bake treat?

Leave a comment

Filed under Desserts, Sugar High Friday

Muffin Monday: Double Chocolate Chip Muffins

As many of you already know, I love reading food blogs (so much that I might even say I’m obsessed with it) and that is why I decided to start my own food blog. Since Mind Your Bees and Trees is so new, I’m always looking for new ways to get more involved in the blogging community and meet fellow food bloggers. Today is my first time joining other bloggers for a community post and I’m so excited about it.

Welcome to Muffin Monday! Muffin Monday is an initiative started by Anuradha at Baker Street. Anuradha describes Muffin Monday as “a culinary journey of sharing a wickedly delicious muffin recipe every week to make the world smile and beat glum Monday mornings.” Be sure to check out Baker Street today to see who else joined in on Muffin Monday.

I love muffins so I was pretty excited when I first saw this idea. I was even more excited to see that this week’s recipe involved chocolate—yummy! As always, I made this recipe with unprocessed sugar, but instead of using honey or agave this week, I got to test out my new organic whole cane sugar. The sugar looks nothing like regular white sugar and smells a bit like molasses so I was curious to see how it would taste in these muffins. I’m happy to report that the muffins turned out really well. There was not a strong molasses flavor (like there was with my peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies)—just chocolately deliciousness :).

My husband and I both enjoyed one of these muffins right out of the oven, and for breakfast the next morning. Do you know what is better than double chocolate? Double chocolate with peanut butter! For breakfast this morning, I heated up the muffin and then spread peanut butter on it (for protein of course ;)). Since the muffin was warm the peanut butter melted all over the muffin—oh man it was sooooo good. YUM!!

Double Chocolate Chip Muffins
*Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson. The original recipe was in grams so I converted it to cups using my scale—hence the slightly strange measurements.

1 3/4 cups + 2 tbsp (or 1 7/8 cups) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp best quality cocoa
3/4 cup + 3 tbsp sugar (I used organic whole cane sugar)
1 cup chocolate chips (plus more for sprinkling later)
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup (+ a little extra) milk (I used skim)
6 tbsp oil (I used unsalted butter, melted)
1 large egg
1 tsp real vanilla extract (I used 2 tsp)

Preheat oven to 375°F and grease a 12-cup muffin pan or fill with paper liners.

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.

Combine all wet ingredients and add to dry ingredients, stirring until just combined and no dry spots remain. The batter will be slightly runny.

Fill muffin cups with batter and sprinkle more chocolate chips on top.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the muffins have risen and are springy to the touch.

If you’re interested in joining Muffin Monday, please contact Anuradha at Baker Street.

Question: What do you do to beat glum Monday mornings?

Leave a comment

Filed under Muffin Monday, Muffins

Sweet Sundays: Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

In an effort to become more mindful of what I eat, I’ve started following “The S Rule”. Have you heard of it? I read about it in Michael Pollan’s Food Rules and it goes like this: “No sweets, no snacks, no seconds—except on days that start with S.” I love it. I don’t follow it exactly because I’m definitely a snacker, but when I do eat a snack, I make sure to pick something healthy. I also don’t always follow the no seconds rule, but that’s because I’ve started eating until I’m 80% full and I’m still trying to figure out what portion size will lead to 80% fullness.

But I do follow the no sweets (which I interpret to mean dessert) rule because for me, eating desserts is my biggest weakness. When dessert is around, it is very hard for me to turn it down and as I’ve said before, I also have a hard time limiting the amount I eat. I’ve been following The S Rule for about four weeks now and I feel great. Since I cut back on the amount of sweets I eat, it’s helped me to learn not to overdo it when I do eat sweets because then I just feel like crap. So instead, I enjoy my sweets and don’t feel guilty about it :). (Oh and by the way, I also allow two “cheat days” each month when I get to eat sweets on days that don’t start with S—pretty crazy, I know ;)).

Since Sunday happens to be one of the two days that starts with S and thus a day I do eat sweets, I decided that I will share a sweet treat with you every Sunday…hence Sweet Sundays.

Remember when I got my package in the mail from my mom with all of my goodies? Well, inside that package were SunSpire chocolate chips that are made without any processed sugars. I was so excited to get these because it meant that I could finally eat some chocolate—woo hoo!!

I decided that night would be one of my cheat days and set out to make some peanut butter oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. The recipe comes from Brown Eyed Baker. I’ve made them a few times and they are always a big hit. However, since I’m not eating processed sugar right now, I had to adapt the recipe a bit. I’m going to include my version of the recipe below, but if you don’t want to make the cookies with honey and molasses, I highly recommend you head over to Brown Eyed Baker and make the original version—they are excellent!!

I’m going to be honest with you; at first I was not a huge fan of my adapted version of these cookies. The recipe calls for brown and white sugar so I substituted those with molasses and honey. If you’ve never used molasses before, it has a very strong flavor and as soon as these came out of the oven, all I could taste was molasses. I did not like them. Yuck. I was so disappointed, especially since I had been looking forward to having chocolate chip cookies for so long.

But the next day these cookies were delicious. The molasses flavor wasn’t nearly as strong and they were so moist. Each time I tried them they grew on me a little more and now I kind of love them. Maybe it’s because I haven’t had “real” chocolate chip cookies in so long, or maybe it’s because I expected these to taste just like the regular version, but now that I’m over that, I really like these cookies. If you’re nervous about the molasses though, I would recommend using a combination of agave and honey or maple syrup and honey. I think either one would be excellent.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
*Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used natural)
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp molasses
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325°F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.

Cream the butter, peanut butter, honey, molasses, and vanilla on medium speed for about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat until fully incorporated. Gradually add the flour mixture, in batches, on low speed until the flour is just combined and no dry spots remain. Stir in the oats and chocolate chips.

The batter is pretty wet, but don't worry because the cookies turn out great.

Drop spoonfuls of dough onto lined baking sheets. I used a small (1 tbsp) cookie scoop for this and baked them for about 7-8 minutes. They probably could have cooked a little longer because they were very soft, but I didn’t mind because I like my cookies “medium rare” :).

Let cool on baking sheet before transferring to cooling rack. The cookies are very fragile and if you try to move them too soon they will crumble apart.

Happy baking with honey! If you try these, I would love to know how they turned out for you :).

Question: What recipes would you like to see posted for Sweet Sundays?

Leave a comment

Filed under Cookies, Desserts, Sweet Sundays

The Best Things I Ate This Week

In case you missed it, the week in review will now be on Fridays—posted as Friday Finds!—instead of on Sundays so make sure to check in on Fridays for all of the recipes we posted this week and see what I bookmarked this week from other blogs.  Sundays will be Sweet Sundays so you don’t want to miss that either :).

Next week, I want YOU to be part of The Best Things I Ate post so this week please please please take pictures of something you eat so you can post a picture along with me.  I’ll post instructions during the week, but I wanted to give you a heads up.  You know how much I love food so I’m really excited to see the delicious things you eat during the week!

Three of the best things I ate this week were at Tom’s house on Wednesday night. Tom—from Tuesdays with Tommy—made Greek food and it was phenomenal!! I’m still thinking about it :).

The best homemade hummus and baba ganoush!

I'm still dreaming about this salad. I could have eaten the entire thing!

Greek Surf and Turf

Remember this PB from the package from my mom? Oh man this stuff is delicioso!

Nothing like a Maple Berry Smoothie on my balcony 🙂

Question: What was the best thing you ate this week?

Leave a comment

Filed under The Best Things I Ate

What I Learned This Week…

Courtney has this cool weekly post on her blog called “What I learned…” and people can contribute a photo every week depicting what they learned.  It’s a great way to make the blog more interactive and it’s fun to see and read what everyone learned this week.

I love this idea so much that I might just steal it….with a food twist of course :).

So without further adieu, here’s a little story about what I learned this week.

Sometimes when I go into the bathroom, the toilet seat has water all over it.  I’m usually the only one home during the day—and I know I don’t leave water all over the seat—so I couldn’t figure out what was happening.  Until I walked in on this…

I learned that if I don’t put the toilet seat down after I use the bathroom, Harold will drop his mice in the toilet and then go fishing for them!

Unfortunately he isn’t very good at fishing and always drops the mice back in the toilet…hence the water all over the seat!

Question:  What did you learn this week?  Leave a comment below and share it on Courtney’s blog too!

Click it Up a Notch


Filed under What I Learned

Friday Finds and MYBT Week in Review

Happy Friday Everyone!  I have been busy, busy, busy working on my thesis all day. Six weeks from today I’ll be defending my thesis to a panel of three professors—EEK! I’m nervous, but I’m actually really excited about my project so I’m sure I’ll be fine :). Even though I only have six weeks left of the two years I have been in grad school, it seems like so far away. Why is it that when you’re almost done with something it seems so far away?

Taken from my balcony. I'll never get over how beautiful the sunset is.

I’m going to keep this post short so I can get back to reading blogs writing my thesis, but I wanted to remind you to please be sure to keep checking Mind Your Bees in Trees because I’m going to be teaming up with some other bloggers this week! I’m really excited about it and I think you’re going to love the recipes I’m going to share :).

MYBT might also be getting a makeover soon (if I can figure out some more of this computer coding) so stay tuned—you don’t want to miss all of this excitement!

Also, don’t forget to subscribe—by email or RSS feed—so you don’t miss any of our posts :).

Here is a recap of what we posted this week on Mind Your Bees and Trees:

The Most Amazing Strawberry Pie
Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Artichoke Puree
Kaiserschmaarn (aka Giant Shredded Pancake)
Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

And now for some recipes that had me saying, YUM!!

  • The Complete Updated Guide to Grilled Pizza (from Serious Eats)  I love pizza and have been wanting to try grilling our own pizza for a long time.  This post is very thorough and starts out like this “I’ve long said that grilling pizza is by far the easiest way for a regular home cook to get pizzeria-quality, soft and airy, crisp, well-charred, smoky pies at home.”  SOLD!
  • Tuna Avocado Ceviche (from That’s so Michelle)  Ceviche makes me think of Peru and in case you didn’t know, I heart Peru.  I lived there for a year and a half so it will always hold a special place in my heart.  I was never really a fan of raw fish before, but I ate a lot of ceviche in Peru and sort of fell in love with it.  This combination of tuna and avocado sounds outstanding!  If you’ve never tried ceviche, you definitely should.
  • Tangled Noodles (from Claire Robinson on the Food Network)  I saw Claire make these noodles today and was very intrigued.  The noodles are just angel hair pasta, but instead of boiling them in water, she cooks them like risotto by adding a little bit of liquid (chicken broth) at a time and letting the pasta absorb the liquid.  No boiling and draining necessary.  Hmmm…very interesting!  I’m curious to try it.  It sort of seems like they will be really rich and salty like ramen noodles.
  • Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream (from Vittles and Bits)  I was sooooo excited to see this recipe because I immediately knew it had to be based off of Ben & Jerry’s amazing oatmeal cookie crunch ice cream.  That flavor was by far my favorite at Ben & Jerry’s and I was SO DISAPPOINTED last year when I found out they had stopped making it.  I cannot wait to try this.  It’ll probably be the first thing I make when the sugar challenge is over!
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly “Truffles” (from Healthy Mama)  I’ve seen a lot of recipes lately for different raw treats that trick your mind into thinking you’re eating dessert.  Dates are usually the main ingredient and there are lots of variations for the other ingredients.  With only 3 ingredients (that I happen to have on hand), I’m curious to try these.
  • Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites (from Love from the Oven)  Did you notice that I always have at least one thing on this list that is loaded with sugar and chocolate?  Even though I’m not eating processed sugar right now, there is no doubt that I’m a chocolate addict and can’t wait to have some again when this challenge is over.  I have to stockpile these recipes until then J.  This super easy sweet and salty combo looks excellent.  They also look to be very addicting which means I should give most of them away when I make them!

And just because I love blogs with pictures, I’m going to leave you with these:

Since I told you I love Peru, I thought I would leave you a picture of what it looked like near where I lived.

And this is what it looks like in Okinawa.

This is how Harold likes to relax 🙂


Question: What was the hardest thing you ever worked towards? What did you do to motivate yourself when you didn’t want to keep going?

Leave a comment

Filed under Friday Finds

Pulled Chicken Sandwiches that Pack a Punch

I’ve been seeing a lot of references and recipes lately for pulled pork. I love pulled pork sandwiches and after seeing all of those recipes with pictures of juicy, tender, sweet, and spicy pulled pork, I wanted some! But you know what Japan doesn’t have? It doesn’t have a good place to go for BBQ—shocking I know ;). So I had to come up with a way to make it on my own.

Believe it or not I used to hate pulled pork (remember I used to only eat mac and cheese?). Now that I’m older I realized that most things I used to “hate” when I was younger are things I had I either a) never tried and just decided I didn’t like them or b)I had one bad experience with that food at some point in my life, thought it was gross, and swore it off forever. Luckily I’m not too stuck in my ways and have rediscovered that many of those “disgusting” foods are actually quite delicious :). (Not salmon though. I still don’t like salmon.)

I first fell in love with BBQ when I was a freshman in college. My college roommate, Laura, is from Houston and introduced me to Texas BBQ when I went to visit her one summer. Honestly, I have never been a huge fan of meat. I’ll pick a vegetarian option over meat any day. I don’t know why, I just never really loved it. So when Laura said we had to go to Rudy’s BBQ, I wasn’t that excited about it. But oh man was I wrong about that one—that stuff was amazing!! I got the turkey and honestly I could not believe how good it was. I don’t even really like turkey, and only eat it at Thanksgiving because it’s tradition, but man was that stuff gooooood!

My husband and I lived in San Antonio for a little less than a year after we graduated from college and we frequented Rudy’s quite often. Who doesn’t love white Wonder bread with lots of meat and BBQ sauce? It’s pretty much the opposite of anything I normally eat—the only “veggies” in site are pickles—but that’s probably why I loved it. And sometimes, just sometimes, I still crave it and really wish I could have some BBQ.

The other day was one of those days when I was really craving BBQ. I wanted it, but didn’t have a pork shoulder on hand (weird, right?), so I decided to try making some pulled chicken sandwiches instead. I have to admit, they were pretty darn awesome. We loved them and I wanted to share the recipe with y’all ;).

Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
*Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray and Williams-Sonoma

2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp brown sugar (I used evaporated cane sugar)
1 tbsp grill seasoning (I use McCormick’s)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp mustard powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
chicken tenders (about 2 per person)
1/2 cup apple juice (divided)
1/2 medium to large onion
2 garlic cloves
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 tbsp hot sauce
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
squeeze of honey or maple syrup

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Combine brown sugar through onion powder in a shallow dish (reserve 1 tbsp). Dredge chicken tenders in spice mixture and place in skillet. Pour 1/4 cup of the apple juice in the skillet while it’s cooking. Sauté until cooked through. Set aside to cool.

While the chicken is cooling, heat a little more oil in a small sauce pan and cook the onions and garlic until soft. Add the tomato sauce, the other 1/4 cup apple juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, honey or maple syrup, and the reserved tablespoon of the spice mixture. Cook over low heat until heated through.

Once the chicken has cooled, shred it and place in a small bowl. Add a couple of tablespoons of the sauce to coat the chicken.

Serve the chicken on dinner rolls or hamburger buns with sauce on the side.


We ate these sandwiches with a side of the roasted potatoes with bacon and blue cheese that I linked to in Sunday’s post.

**We both loved this meal, but think it would have been even better if we let the chicken sit (with the rub on it) for a couple of hours, and also if we had grilled the chicken to get a nice charred taste on it.**

Question: What is one food that you used to “hate” but now love?


Filed under Main Courses

Kitchen Games and Giant Shredded Pancakes

For anyone who has watched an episode of Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals, you know that she likes to play this little game with herself where she tries to collect all of the ingredients she needs for the meal out of her pantry in one swoop.  Sometimes her pile gets going pretty high and it looks like she might drop everything.  When she does that, she says she can always hear her mom in her head telling her to be careful or she might drop something.

Well I like to play a little game in the kitchen too called “How many dishes can you possibly stack in the dish drainer before everything comes tumbling down…. or gets broken?”  And every time I play this game with myself I can hear my mom in my head telling me to be careful before I break or drop something.  Sometimes I actually get to hear my mom’s commentary on how I do the dishes because I often do my dishes while I’m Skyping with my parents (nothing like a little multi-tasking!).  One time she interrupted what I was saying to tell me that the cup I had just stacked at the top of my pile wasn’t going to dry properly because of the way I stacked it.  Thanks, Mom :).

Judging by the large number (lets just say it’s in the double digits!) of wine glasses I’ve broken because of the way I stack my dishes, I don’t think I’m ever going to learn.  It’s way more fun to play my game than to be cautious!

Today I think I did a pretty awesome job at this little game.  Would you like to see?  We had so many dishes that there is not one, but two piles, which means my game was extra challenging/fun.

Can you see both piles?

Stacking game #1. I'm not sure the picture does it justice. I think it'd be more impressive if you could see everything that's under here!

Stacking game #2

You might think we’re slobs judging by the amount of dishes we have here, but let me try to explain.  First of all, I think these are just three days worth of dishes—that’s a lot of dishes for just two people in three days (my husband swears I also like to play this game called, “How many dishes can I dirty in the process of cooking dinner?”).  Second of all, how can I make all of these yummy treats to post on the blog if I don’t dirty pretty much every dish we have ;)?

And last but not least, I used to be slightly OCD about cleaning the dishes immediately after we ate dinner.  I would get stressed out if they weren’t done and couldn’t relax until the kitchen was spotless.  Well, in an effort to tone down the OCD, my husband has taught me the valuable lesson that nothing will happen if I don’t do the dishes right now—or even tomorrow.  He always tells me I need to just sit down and relax because the dishes aren’t going anywhere.  It took me a long time to learn this lesson, but now I think I may have learned it a little too well because I even amaze myself sometimes at how long I can go without doing the dishes.  Three days is practically a record for me!

Oh and we don’t have a dishwasher.  Man do I miss having a dishwasher.  And a garbage disposal.

Anyway, enough rambling about the dishes and on to a recipe.  Today’s recipe is for another sweet treat.  You may be wondering why there are so many sweet treats on a blog that is supposed to be about mindful eating, and that is a great point.  To us, mindful does not mean depriving yourself or eliminating certain food groups altogether.  Mindful eating to us means to eat a balanced diet—mostly healthy stuff, but we think it’s good to eat a little bit of everything, even the sweets.  It means eating real foods, not packaged foods or foods that have ingredients that you can’t pronounce or have never heard of.  It means eating wholesome, natural, and unprocessed foods to the best of our ability.  But we also know that it’s impossible to do that all the time so we just do our best and don’t sweat the small stuff :).

With that said, since I started the no processed sugar challenge this summer, I have really tried to limit the amount of sweets I eat.  That way when I do have something sweet, I can enjoy it without feeling guilty or overdoing it.  Any sweets that I have consumed this summer have all been ‘made over’ so they only include natural sweeteners.

Today I am going to share with you the recipe for Kaiserschmaarn.  Do you remember I posted a picture of it as a teaser in Saturday’s post?  Kaiserschmaarn is one of our favorite treats to have for breakfast on the weekends.  I just found out today when Googling the meaning of “kaiserschmaarn” that 1) it literally translates to “Emperor’s Nonsense”, 2) it is actually a really popular dessert (not breakfast!) in Austria, and 3) it can be made a variety of ways with many different toppings.

This is the way that my mom taught me how to make it and the way I’ve been eating it since I was a little girl.  It’s a little tricky to flip the pancake over, but it’s okay if it breaks because it’s going to get shredded anyway!  My mom always served it with applesauce and cinnamon, but my husband likes to eat it with maple syrup.


*Serves 2-4 depending on how hungry you are.  I make the whole recipe for the two of us :).

Kaiserschmaarn with applesauce and cinnamon


4 eggs
1/4 cup honey
3/4 cup milk
1½ cups flour (also good using 1/2 whole wheat flour and 1/2 white flour)
pinch of salt
a couple of tbsp butter
raisins (optional)


Beat eggs, honey, milk, and flour until well combined. (It should look like pancake batter.)

Melt butter in large pan over medium-low heat. Pour in batter and cover.

About 5-10 minutes in (once a crust has formed on the bottom, but top is still runny) add raisins.

After you add the raisins, make sure to cover them up with batter.

Let cook, covered, for approximately 30 minutes until cooked almost all the way through. Flip giant pancake and cook for another 2-3 minutes until cooked all the way through.

Ready to be flipped. You can even flip it a little earlier than this when it's still slightly runny in the middle....it's just messier.

Using two forks, shred pancake by using two spoons or forks to pull apart into small pieces.

Shredding the pancake!

Serve with applesauce and cinnamon, maple syrup, or sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Question: Do you have any kitchen games you like to play?  Do you clean the kitchen right away after eating or do you leave the dishes like I’ve learned to do?


Filed under Breakfast, Ethnic Foods

Tuesdays with Tommy: The Art of the Dinner Party, Part 1–Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Artichoke Puree

So let me first say that I did truly enjoy writing last week.  Just another avenue for my fascination with food I guess.  Also after I read the post three things came to my own critical mind that I feel I must share with anyone who is actually reading my ramblings.

1st some leniency must be taken while trying any recipe I post.  I must say that about 80% of what I make food wise is a creation of my own imagination.  Measurements are never identical and any given dish never turns out the same twice.  So I encourage you please…try what I make, but know that simple things like adjusting salt and pepper and tasting as you go are a necessity 🙂 –that is the true joy about cooking though.  It is an art, and art is in the eye (or palate in this case) of the beholder.

2nd I know that Kristen’s blog is geared towards the mindful eating of unprocessed food, which is absolutely outstanding!  However, she has given me autonomy to interpret the journey through mindful eating in my own terms.  And again, for those that read my posts, you will quickly see that my journey towards mindful eating lies in the heart of mindfully making the time to eat and drink with one’s family…and eat a lot of all sorts of rich and bad things for you (in proper portions that is) :).

3rd, while I am surely not a learned philosopher (thanks for that one Pops) I do not intend to preach too much, but thank you for letting me voice my philosophies on food, drink and family!  NOW, on to my five part miniseries…the lost art of the Dinner Party!

Growing up my family and I spent many a summer at our family farm (Happy Apple Farm) in Penrose, Colorado (quick advertising plug, family website posted here).  Besides the obvious coolness of growing up on a farm such as driving tractors and having 40 acres of land for two Banker brothers to terrorize with Red Rider BB Guns, we had the most amazing daily meals.

Days started off with a HUGE breakfast cooked by my Grandfather and Grandma, followed by a day’s work, and then finished with a magnificent dinner.  And back then, I just kind of figured that everyone had dinner in courses like we did, usually four or five course dinners that is.  Dinner was always an event that the whole family and friends that visited looked forward to.  Appetizers with cocktails at 4:00ish, with dinner to follow.  However, as I got older I quickly began to realize that other people DID NOT eat like we did.  I was able to see though how friends of the family fell in love with the way we focused on food, and the stretched out manner, in which we did it.

So the next 4-5 posts will be dedicated to what I believe is the lost art of the dinner party.  There is something grandiose about presenting courses individually and over a several hour timeframe.  My Grandmother was the best at this.  She always let us know that soup comes before the salad!!! (I am sure I’ll get plenty of opportunities to talk about my Grandma so I’ll save some).  This experience is what I am hoping more people try to pull off.  An appetizer through dessert will be provided each week with the intention that they all get put together.  Granted, any recipe can be substituted with another family favorite, the overall point however is to put together a 4-5 course meal…your friends and family will never forget it!!!

For the first course…Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Artichoke Puree.  Funny side note about this recipe that stems from what I mentioned in the beginning of this post.  I get inspiration for food from the funniest places.  While watching the Nicholas Cage movie The Family Man several years ago, there was a scene where he and his wife went out to a fancy restaurant and ordered the above-mentioned item.  I said to myself “that sounds good, can’t be that hard to make, right?”  So here it is my version of an appetizer that was simply mentioned in a movie J

Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Artichoke Puree

*Serves 4 Adults


8 large Sea Scallops (2 per person)

1 large can Artichoke Hearts

1 Tablespoon Mayonnaise

1/2 Lemon


1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese


Place all ingredients in food processor (except for chives and scallops.)  Blend until it reaches a smooth consistency.  This can be done the morning of the planned dinner.  Cover and place in refrigerator.

When ready to serve, Heat medium non-stick pan to a very hot temp (med high setting).  While the pan is heating pat dry each Scallop to remove as much water as possible.  Salt and Pepper both sides.  Add a small amount of Olive oil or butter to the pan then sear scallops approximately 1 ½-2 min per side—the goal is to get a nice dark gold crust on each side.

To plate, place a spoonful of Artichoke puree on a plate and top with two scallops per individual.  Garnish with chopped chives.  This can also be done as a main course served with risotto (the second picture shows this option).

In conclusion…no dinner party is complete without some fairly loud background music (Dean, Frank, Tony), great wine pairing (such as a  J Lohr Chardonnay with this appetizer), and most important, a toast to start the evening (which no one does any more???)…”Here’s to my friends and family, and thank you for coming over to eat my free food.”

Question: Do you ever host dinner parties?  What is one of your best dinner party memories?


Filed under Appetizers, Tuesdays with Tommy

Naturally Sweet and Utterly Delectable Strawberry Pie

**Don’t forget to tune in tomorrow for Tuesdays with Tommy. He has a five-part mini-series that starts tomorrow and trust me, you don’t want to miss it!**

Do you remember in the post about arepas that I said we made the arepas for Mother’s Day and promised that the recipe for my mom would be coming soon? Well folks, here it is—strawberry pie that is to die for!

Choosing a recipe to honor my mom on Mother’s Day was really hard because she has so many amazing recipes. Her most famous one is for her hot fudge sauce. I swear that stuff has crack in it because it is so so so addicting! I can’t even begin to imagine how many gallons of my mom’s hot fudge I have consumed in my lifetime. Her hot fudge is so good that I don’t even bother to eat any other kind of hot fudge because I know it won’t compare to my mom’s (it’s not worth the disappointment). But making hot fudge for her on Mother’s Day was 1) the easy choice and 2) impossible because it’s the only recipe she doesn’t share in hopes that someday you’ll see “Gramma Judy’s Hot Fudge Sauce” on the shelf in your local grocery store :).

Anyway, back to Mother’s Day. I thought about it for a while and finally settled on strawberry pie. First of all, I love fresh strawberries and when Amanda was here it happened to be strawberry season in Okinawa. And second of all, strawberry pie makes me think of summer and thinking of summer brings back so many wonderful memories from my childhood, including spending the whole summer at our lake house.

My not so red strawberries. I couldn't find any local ones so I had to settle for strawberries from the commissary.

From the time that I was four until I was a freshman in high school, we had a lake house that was just thirty minutes from our ‘regular’ house. It was close enough for my dad to commute to and from work everyday so we stayed out there for the whole summer. Man did I love that place! We didn’t have a TV so I spent all day everyday playing outside with the neighbors’ grandchildren. I spent so much time in the water during those summers that you would think I would have turned into a fish ☺. My mom had this big triangle (the musical instrument) hanging by our front door and when it was time to eat lunch or dinner she would ring the triangle and I would come running home!

We did a lot of entertaining during those summers at the lake house, both for out of town guests and friends from our hometown. Our lake house wasn’t fancy by any means. The best way to describe the décor is kitschy. When my parents bought the house, it was fully furnished. It looked like the previous owners just woke up one day and decided to leave because all of their stuff was still in the house—I’m talking books, dishes, linens, even some clothes! I can remember one of the first times we were at the house and I was looking through the dresser in my room. To my horror, I found a woman’s bra! I could not believe it and was mortified. Hahaha.

Our lake house may not have been fancy, but it was so cozy. One thing that we all loved the best was the enclosed screen porch. We ate all of our meals out on that porch, usually surrounded by lots of family and friends. There are certain foods that make me think of meals on the porch at our lake house—sourdough waffles, corn on the cob, and strawberry pie. And that is why I wanted to make it for my mom on Mother’s Day.

Since I promised you I would share the recipe, I thought it was a great excuse to make it again for us—just so I could take pictures of course ;).

While I was reading the recipe for the piecrust, I saw an option of making individual pies using an inverted muffin tin. I had never tried this before, but thought it sounded like a great idea so I gave it a go and they turned out really well. The piecrust was PERFECT—so flaky with an excellent butter flavor.

I tweaked the original pie recipe a bit to make it naturally sweet, but I don’t think it compromised the flavor at all. My husband and I both loved it—so much that we ate it two nights in a row. (I’m actually eating some as I blog about it right now….that’s how good it is!) Tonight I also topped our pies with some homemade whipped cream—delicious!!

Naturally Sweet Strawberry Pie
*I’m not sure where this recipe comes from other than my mom’s recipe binder 🙂

For the Pie Crust
*Recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 + 1/8 tsp salt
7 1/2 tbsp butter, chilled
3 tbsp + 1/2 tbsp water, divided

To make a good piecrust, it is very important that the butter and ice water stay chilled until right before you use them. Letting them warm up too much will produce a crust that is not flaky. To really ensure a flaky crust, I recommend wrapping it in plastic wrap and letting it chill for 10-15 minutes before you are going to use it.

Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until incorporated. Add butter evenly over the dry ingredients and pulse a couple of times until most of the butter is the size of peas. Remove the lid and pour the 3 tbsp ice water over the butter and flour. Pulse until there are no more dry spots.

Remove the lid again and see if you can pinch the dough together with your fingers. If it won’t stick together, add a little more water and pulse again. Do not allow the dough to gather in a ball. Once you can pinch it between your fingers, take it out and shape it into a ball yourself. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 10-15 minutes.

To make a large pie, roll out the dough and fit it into a 9-inch pie pan. Prick the dough with a fork (to prevent bubbling), line it with foil, and weight it down with beans or metal pie weights. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, remove the weights and bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until golden.

To make individual pies, roll out the dough and cut into 4 or 5-inch rounds (I used a large ramekin for this). Fit rounds of dough over inverted muffin cups (that have been greased) and prick with a fork. (Side note: I forgot to prick mine until half-way through the baking process and they still turned out okay.) Cover with a large piece of foil and bake at 425 degrees for 11-12 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 4 minutes, or until golden.

Let piecrust cool completely before filling.

For the Strawberry Pie

*I made half the filling for the individual pies

6 cups strawberries, washed and stems removed
3/4 cup agave syrup
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1 package cream cheese, softened

**My strawberries were not super sweet (since I couldn’t find any local ones and had to buy some from the commissary that were shipped in from the States…boo). I drizzled a little honey over the cut up strawberries to bring out their sweetness, but this isn’t necessary if your strawberries are already really sweet.

Mash (I used the food processor) enough strawberries to measure 1 cup. Place agave in a small saucepan. Blend water and cornstarch together and add to agave. Stir in crushed berries and cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Once mixture boils, cook for 1 minute (stirring constantly). Cool.

Beat cream cheese until smooth and spread evenly over the baked pie shell. I probably used about a tablespoon per pie.

Fill shell with remaining berries. My mom usually leaves the berries whole and places them tops-down in the pie pan. I was worried they wouldn’t fit so well like that in the mini pies so I cut up the strawberries.

Pour cooked berry mixture over the top and refrigerate for several hours or until set.

For the Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp agave syrup
splash of maple syrup
splash of vanilla extract

Whip heavy cream on high speed until it starts to thicken. Add sweeteners (these are just approximations—add them to your taste preference) and vanilla. Beat until peaks form and pipe over individual pies.

Go make this strawberry pie—I promise you’ll love it! It’s just the perfect amount of sweetness, and utterly delectable!

Question: What summer foods bring back special childhood memories for you?


Filed under Baking Tips, Desserts