Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lighter General Tso's Chicken

After several weeks of dessert posts (minus one indulgent Mario Batali pasta recipe) I was beginning to feel like we were getting a bit unhealthy around here. So, to combat that, I bring you: Veggies! And healthy food! Novel concept, no?

But, because I’m still me, and we don’t want to get too out of hand, first I have to indulge our sweet tooths (sweet teeth?) just a bit more to announce The Perfect Scoop cookbook giveaway winner!

random winner

Congrats, Ashley! Shoot me an email at and this fantastic cookbook will be yours in no time!

Back to the food!

So, I’ve made this recipe several times. It seems that every time I was visiting the farmers market on the weekends, the quarts of snow peas were practically jumping off the tables into my bags, begging to be made into this delicious meal. It’s quickly becoming one of my favorite weeknight meals. It’s relatively quick to pull together, especially if you’re clever and prep the foods the night prior. I wish I could remember to do this more often. It would make my life so much easier.

Anyway, something about this slightly spicy, slightly sweet sauce over crunchy snow peas just does me right in. And even better still, it’s “lighter”, as in healthier. As in go ahead and eat a cupcake, Laura, you know you want to! I like that.

Lighter General Tso’s Chicken
printable recipe

1 1/4 cups long-grain brown rice
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 pound snow peas, trimmed and halved crosswise
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated and peeled
3 tablespoons light-brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 large egg whites
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil


Cook the rice according to the package instructions.

In a large bowl stir 1 Tablespoon of the cornstarch with 1/2 cup of water until it is smooth. Stir in the ginger, garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce and red pepper flakes. Toss in the snow peas until well combined and set the bowl aside.

In a medium bowl whisk the egg whites with the remaining cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss the chicken in the egg white mixture to evenly coat.

Pour the vegetable oil into a large skillet and set over medium heat. When the oil is heated, using a slotted spoon gently remove some of the chicken from the egg white mixture and let the excess egg white drip off. Cook the chicken until lightly golden and cooked through, about 6 minutes, cooking in batches if needed. Remove the chicken from the pan using a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate.

Pour the snow pea mixture into the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes or until the peas are tender and the sauce has thickened. Add the chicken back into the pan and toss with the snow peas. Serve with the rice.

Source: Proceed With Caution

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Milk Chocolate Ice Cream with Brownie Bits

brownie bit ice cream

Did you know that July is National Ice Cream month? It only makes sense, I suppose. It’s the middle of summer. It’s scorching hot pretty much everywhere right now. And, hello, it’s ice cream. Who even needs an excuse to eat some?

With this rich, indulgent, amazing ice cream recipe I bring you… drum roll, please… the very first Laura’s Recipe Collection giveaway!
In honor of summer, of National Ice Cream Month, of my upcoming birthday, of nearly 2 years of blogging and nearly 200 recipes shared I am giving away a copy of the ice cream cookbook to beat all ice cream cookbooks: David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop! But first, the ice cream!

Milk Chocolate Ice Cream with Brownie Bits
printable recipe

Milk Chocolate Ice Cream
8 ounces milk chocolate with at least 30% cocoa solids, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
Big pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons Cognac
3/4 cup cocoa nibs or semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (optional)

Combine the milk chocolate and heavy cream over a double boiler or a large heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Melt the chocolate, stirring often, then remove the bowl from the heat. Set a mesh strainer over the top of the bowl and set aside.

Combine the milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan and stir until warmed. Beat the egg yolks in a medium bowl, then whisk the milk mixture into the egg yolks. Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan.

Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring often, until it thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the mesh strainer into the bowl of chocolate. Stir in the Cognac until well-mixed. Chill the mixture over an ice bath, then refrigerate until completely cooled.

Churn the ice cream according to ice cream maker instructions. Prior to freezing completely, gently stir in any mix-ins such as brownie bits.

Chewy Chocolate Brownies
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, cut into small pieces
11/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup hazelnuts, pecans, almonds or walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Line an 8x8 inch square pan with aluminum foil so that it covers the bottoms and the sides of the pan. Using butter or nonstick spray grease the sides and bottom of the pan, then set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan, then add in the chocolate and stir until completely melted. Remove from the heat. Stir in the sugar, eggs, then vanilla. Add the flour and salt to the pan and stir vigorously until the batter forms a ball. Blend in the chocolate chips and nuts.

Scrape the batter into the pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack. Store at room temperature.

Crumble the brownie into small bits and gently fold into the just-churned ice cream.

Source: The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

The scoop on the giveaway

** The giveaway is now closed**
To enter the giveaway, leave a comment on this post answering the question What is your favorite ice cream flavor? by Monday July 26, 11:59pm ET . The winner will be selected by and announced Tuesday morning.

The giveaway is open only to US residents.

A small disclaimer: I purchased this book myself. I have not been given any kind of compensation for this giveaway. I do this purely out of my love for you, dear readers, and my all-consuming love of ice cream :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Penne alla Papalina


This weekend I had the awesome opportunity to do this.

Mario Batali 001

Me, Mario and my friend Kelly.


“To Laura, Pasta is love. Mario Batali”

Pasta is love. He knows me so well already.

Kelly and I were standing in the very long line to meet Mario and I started flipping through my new copy of his newest book. I turned to the back cover and saw this delicious looking pasta dish. “What is that? Monday night’s dinner. That’s what it is” I said to Kelly. And indeed it was. This was a great weeknight dinner. Quick to come together and oh so yummy.

Pasta alla Papalina
printable recipe

Kosher salt
6 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces prosciutto, cut into 1-inch squares
10 ounces (2 cups) frozen green peas, thawed
1 pound penne rigate
4 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for serving
Coarsely ground black pepper

Boil 6 quarts of water in a large pot. Add 3 Tablespoons of kosher salt.  Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water, then drain.

While the pasta cooks, cook the prosciutto in a large pan with 3 Tablespoons of olive oil, stirring occasionally, until the prosciutto is golden brown and has rendered some of it’s fat, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the peas.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs well, then beat in the remaining 3 Tablespoons of oil and 1/4 cup of the reserved pasta water.

Stir the pasta and the prosciutto and pea mixture together. Pour the egg mixture into the pasta and mix together well to cook the eggs with the heat from the cooked pasta. Gradually add a bit more of the pasta water if needed.

Stir in the Parmigiano, season with pepper to taste, and serve.

Source: Molto Gusto: Easy Italian Cooking by Mario Batali and Mark Ladner

Monday, July 12, 2010

Peanut Butter (and Jelly) Ice Cream

066 (5)

Sing it with me! Peanut… peanut butter! And jelly!

I absolutely adore peanut butter. It’s so delicious. It’s great in everything. Peanut butter on toast? Good. Peanut butter & banana in oatmeal? Greatest breakfast ever. Peanut butter and chocolate? Come on, need I say more? Peanut butter ice cream? Why have I never had this before now!?

Sadly I had a bad peanut allergy through childhood so I went through my formative years without my beloved PB&J. Perhaps that’s why now, as an adult, I love it so deeply. I claim that I made this PB&J ice cream for my daughter’s birthday party, but in reality it was totally for me. The birthday party was just a great excuse to make a childhood favorite that I’ve been eyeing for a long time.

Peanut Butter (and Jelly) Ice Cream
printable recipe

3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 2/3 cup half-and-half
pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 small jar of jelly in your favorite flavor (optional)

Combine the peanut butter, sugar, half-and-half, salt and vanilla in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for an hour, then freeze in an ice cream maker per the manufacturer instructions.

To make Peanut Butter and Jelly Swirl, after churning the ice cream in the ice cream maker, gently fold in the jelly, then place in the freezer until completely frozen.

Source: The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Monday, July 5, 2010

Strawberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream


Isn’t strawberry ice cream the quintessential summer dessert? I was so excited for strawberry season this year, since I’ve had this recipe on my mind for months. I’m so happy to say that it more than lived up to my expectations. I love that it is sweet and the strawberry flavor really shines. I’ve had strawberry ice cream before that even with chunks of strawberries tastes fake and overly sweet. As for the sour cream addition, it sounds kind of strange, I’ll admit, but it really cut the sweetness of the berries, giving the ice cream just the right amount of tang.

Strawberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream
printable recipe
makes about 1 1/4 quarts

1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and rinsed
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon vodka or kirsch
1 cup sour cream
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Cut up the strawberries and mix with the vodka and sugar in a medium bowl. Stir well until the sugar dissolves. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature for an hour, stirring occasionally.

Pour the berries and sugar mixture into a blender or food processor. Pulse a few times until nearly smooth with a few remaining strawberry chunks.

Refrigerate for one hour, then freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Source: The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz, page 90-91

Friday, July 2, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes


These sinful little cupcakes, along with the Vanilla Cupcakes with Raspberry Filling and Raspberry Buttercream, were the cupcakes I served for Madeline’s 1st birthday party and let me tell you, they were quite the hit. The cupcakes themselves were great, but the filling… oh the filling! And the frosting! I opted (this time) to skip the mini chocolate chip cookie garnish on the top, mostly because I had 762,000 other things that I had to do to prepare for her party and, in true Laura fashion, underestimated the amount of time it would take, and underestimated the amount of time I would waste rushing around saying “so much to doooooo”.  But, no worries, everything got done, we had a great time, and even better still, there were cupcakes left over for me!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes

printable recipe

For the cupcakes
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips (semisweet or bittersweet)

For the filling
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 Tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
7 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

For the frosting
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons milk
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For decoration
mini chocolate chips
mini chocolate chip cookies


To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350. Prepare 24 cupcake pan cups with paper liner.

In the bowl of an electric mixer beat together the butter and brown sugar for about 3 minutes or until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, combining well after each addition.

In a medium bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add half of the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl and beat together, then pour in the milk, mixing well. Finish by adding the remaining dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the vanilla to the batter and beat until incorporated. Gently stir in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter evenly between the prepared cupcake cups then bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cupcakes comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely.

To make the cookie dough filling beat the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Add the flour, sweetened condenced milk and vanilla extract to the bowl and beat until smooth and combined.  Gently stir in the chocolate chips. Cover the filling and place in the refrigerator for an hour, or until it has firmed up.

To fill the cupcakes, cup a cone out of the center of the cupcake. Slice off the very top 1/4 inch of the cone and set it aside. Spoon the filling into the center of the cupcake and top with the remaining cupcake circle.

To make the frosting beat the butter and brown sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer until smooth. Slowly beat in the confectioners sugar until smooth and combined. Add the flour and salt to the frosting and mix well. Pour the milk and vanilla into the bowl and beat until combined. Frost the cupcakes, then garnish with mini chocolate chips and mini cookies.

Source: Annie’s Eats