Sunday, July 12, 2015

Caprese Pasta

I have basil overload in my garden right now.  After making a bunch of pesto, we've been making caprese salad almost every other night.  This caprese pasta was a way to incorporate the basil, tomato, mozzarella and balsamic tastes of the salad into a dinner meal.  The sauce was a little sweet, so it is a bit different than what I would typically make.  This is great warm, or as a cold pasta salad (chop the mozzarella and toss with rest of cooled ingredients instead of melting).

Caprese Pasta
  • 1 lb. penne pasta
  • 1 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbs. brown sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 pint baby bella mushrooms, washed and sliced
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4  cup packed basil leaves
  • 1 16 oz. mozzarella cheese, sliced in 1/4" slices

  • Directions:
    1. Boil pasta according to package directions.
    2. While pasta is cooking, combine balsamic vinegar and brown sugar in small saucepan over medium heat until reduced about a half, about 6-8 minutes.  Add salt and pepper.
    3. In straight-sided pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Saute mushrooms for about 2-3 minutes.  Add pasta, tomatoes, and balsamic reduction.  Toss to combine.  Place mozzerella slices on top and allow residual heat to melt.  Top with basil leaves.  Alternatively, all ingredients can be combined once refrigerated for a pasta salad.

    Twix-Style Ice Cream

    Nothing goes hand-in-hand quite like hot summer days and ice cream.  I love ice cream.  I probably have an unhealthy addiction to ice cream.  But it's not like I can help it.  It's in my genes!  My dad's family used to own an ice cream shop in Vietnam.  I look back fondly to the moments my dad and I shared watching Tom and Jerry cartoons and eating ice cream after dinner when I was younger.

    One of my favorite things on ice cream is a nice, ooey-goeey melty salty caramel sauce.  So let's make some caramel chocolate ice-cream!  The sweetness of the ice cream and chocolate go well with the salty caramel flecks.  This recipe was inspired by this Tasting Table recipe for Snickers ice cream.

    Twix-Style Ice cream
    • 2/3 c. sugar
    • 3/4 c. heavy cream, heated but not boiling
    • 1/2 tsp. sea salt

    Ice cream base:
    • 1 c. whole milk
    • 3/4 c. sugar
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
    • 2 c. heavy cream
    • 5 large egg yolks
    • pinch of salt

    Mix ins:
    • 2 packages of Twix bars, chopped
    • 1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips, chopped
    1. Caramel: In a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, add the sugar.  Once the sugar starts to melt, fold over itself until sugar is evenly golden-brown.  Remove from heat and slowly add in heavy cream.  Cool in a glass bowl, then stir in salt.
    2. Ice Cream:  Have an ice bath ready to cool down the finished custard.  In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, sugar, and salt and simmer until dissolved.  Remove from heat.  In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Temper the egg yolks by pouring a little of the heated milk mixture into the yolks, a little slowly each time.  Don't scramble the egg yolks!  Then add the milk-yolk mixture into the rest of the milk.  Heat over medium, stirring constantly until mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 2-3 minutes.  Strain the custard into a bowl with heavy cream, set in the ice bath.  Add the vanilla extract.  Refrigerate until completely cool, 8 hours or overnight.  
    3. Freeze ice cream according to ice cream machine instructions.  Stir in Twix bars and chocolate chips.
    4. In a freezer-safe container, layer the caramel and ice cream.  Freeze until hardened, at least 4 hours.  Enjoy!