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no-churn salted dulce de leche ice cream

July is National Ice Cream Month, so I want to share my latest ice cream concoction with you – No Churn Salted Dulce de Leche Ice Cream. Yeah, it’s as good as it sounds, though I will say right off the bat that this first go-round was a little sweet for me. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, though I do have my moments, but next time I make this it will have a little more salt or some salted nuts mixed in. I put some salted cashews on a serving of this and they put this into one of my favorite ice creams ever. My favorite is still my no-churn coffee ice cream, but I’m a bit of a coffee fiend, sooooo….there’s that.

Now, classic dulce de leche is made with milk and sugar, with vanilla often mixed in. The lazy way to do it is to caramelize a can of sweetened condensed milk. I went the lazy way, though it still requires some babysitting. Now, if you do an internet search of dulce de leche made from sweetened condensed milk, you’ll find most people put a sealed can right into a pan of water and simmer it. I, being the clumsy, accident-prone person I am, was not willing to risk life or limb or sweetened milk all over my kitchen, so I opted for the safe double boiler method. And, since I knew this was going to be an hours-long process, I cooked up two cans because it stores well in the fridge.

This is a pretty involved process (sarcasm), so try and follow along.

Pour a can or two of sweetened condensed milk into the top pan of a double boiler. Fill the bottom pan with water. Cover. Bring water to a boil and then reduce to a steady simmer. Simmer until the condensed milk thickens and darkens. 2 cans took me about 4 hours and required little effort except for an occasional water check and milk stir, to make sure it was staying creamy and condensing down.

Ta da! Behold, my dulce de leche.

lola-rugula-dulce-de-leche-homemade

Now, you can reduce this so that’s it’s lighter or darker, depending on your preference. But you definitely want it to darken and caramelize. If it gets too thick, it will then become impossible to do much with. I was afraid mine was too thick but it ended up mixing in nicely with the can of sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream that I made the ice cream with. If you make this ahead of time and refrigerate it, you’ll want to bring it to room temperature before making the ice cream, otherwise it may be too stiff to work with.

On to my recipe.

lola-rugula-dulce-de-leche-ice-cream-no-churn-recipe

no-churn salted dulce de leche ice cream

  • 1 cup dulce de leche
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 pint heavy (whipping) cream

In a large bowl, stir the dulce de leche, condensed milk and salt together until completely blended and creamy. In another bowl or stand mixer, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Take a couple of big dollops of the whipped cream and stir it into the dulce de leche mixture, until well blended. Then, gently fold in the remaining whipped cream – you want to keep the fluffiness of the whipped cream here, so be gentle.

Pour the mixture into a freezer-safe container, cover and freeze for at least 6 hours.

The real beauty of ice creams made with sweetened condensed milk is they’re typically no-churn, meaning you don’t need an ice cream maker to make and enjoy them. Bonus, yes?

Enjoy!

 

no churn coffee ice cream revisited

It’s been pretty warm and steamy in my neck of the woods recently, so what better way to cool off than my easy, no-churn coffee ice cream? Coffee ice cream is a favorite of ours but all you really need as a base for no-churn ice cream is heavy cream (I’ve used half and half on numerous occasions and it works great, too) and sweetened condensed milk. From there, the possibilities are endless.

how to make homemade ice cream dunkin donuts

In case you missed it above, here’s the link to my recipe: http://lolarugula.com/2013/01/05/homemade-coffee-ice-cream/

Stay cool and enjoy!

easy to grow flowers part two

In case you missed my recent post, it was part one of easy to grow flowers here in zone 5…at least for me. Currently, the crocus and daffodils have already bloomed, while the tulips, lilacs and bleeding hearts are all blooming here in early May. Just getting ready to strut their stuff are our very short-lived but beautiful alliums. These are sun lovers that don’t take up a lot of space but stand tall and beautiful on their own. They only bloom for a couple of weeks, but they’re so much fun and they’re part of the onion/garlic family so therefore, I love them.

lola_rugula_allium

Also, just getting ready to pop is all of our columbine. Columbine spreads, so be warned, but it’s a beautiful perennial that’s available in a wide range of colors. Bonus for me is that they are shade plants, though they do well in partial sun also.Wet, dry, cool, hot…once columbine has started to grow and bloom, it doesn’t seem to care very much about the conditions.

lola_rugula_purple-columbine lola_rugula_columbineHow can you resist their unusual flowers and colors? I sure can’t. My columbine bloom for a month or so but, because I have so many of them, it goes on longer than that, due to varying stages of their plant maturity.

Just a week or two away from blooming is my clematis. I love clematis but ours blooms only briefly due to the fact it gets only afternoon sun. Clematis likes lots of sun and can be a bit of a water hog if it’s quite dry, but its show blooms are worth it. Try and plant yours in a sunny spot and leave it…it’s not partial to being moved around but you’ll reap the rewards when you leave it be and let it do its thing.

lola_rugula_clematisAll of the above flowers are perennials for me here in zone 5. Some annuals that I love and that are easy here are cosmos and zinnias. Find a sunny spot, loosen up the dirt, toss in a little compost and then sprinkle some seeds around. You barely need to cover them; I sprinkle just enough dirt over them to keep them in their place. Keep damp for 5-7 days and you should see some sprouts. Then, just keep watered enough to keep the sprouts going and before you know it, you have flowers that go on and on and on and on. Trust me on this one.

lola_rugula_cosmos

lola_rugula_zinnias

I love cosmos and zinnias for their long lasting, colorful display…you really can’t go wrong with them.

Of course, for another perennial, coneflowers are beautiful and do well in all sorts of soil and light – I have a lot of luck with them in a few different areas in our yard.

lola_rugula_echinachea

Our irises are just a week or two away from blooming and they’re always a showstopper, especially in flower arrangements. lola_rugula_irises

Irises need to be divided every couple of years, so keep that in mind when planting them. If they become overcrowded, they won’t bloom as prolifically and will often push their bulbs out of the ground, due to crowding.

Our moonbeam coreopsis is another perennial that does really well here in Zone 5. I have some in full sun and some under some pine trees in partial sun and they all do really well. Their bright yellow flowers are a joy to see and they will spread if left in one place long enough.

lola_rugula_moonbeam

Back to annuals, my final favorite for now is nasturtium, which is not only beautiful but edible, too. Oh, that’s right. You can eat nasturtium, fresh off the stem. We enjoyed their blooms in salads for their colorful and spicy kick. Just make sure that the nasturtium you pick has been grown in organic conditions and not treated with anything. Here’s a shot of a patch of it we grew last summer:

lola_nasturnium and salvia

In case you’re wondering, that’s purple salvia alongside it. I’m not a huge fan of salvia, althought it does well here in Zone 5. My complaint with salvia is that it grows too quickly and too tall, so I’m stuck with a big, broken circle of foliage very early on in the season. It doesn’t make for a very pretty presentation, although I admit the flowers themselves are beautiful. Well, really, what flowers aren’t beautiful?

Tell me your flower and zone stories…I’d love to hear what does well where you live and what doesn’t. Thanks for stopping by and happy planting!

easy to grow flowers part one

Spring is upon us so I have flowers on my mind. Okay, who am I kidding? I have flowers on my mind all year long. If I’m not planting or growing them, I’m digging through catalogs and looking online for them. My husband and I spent many hours in the gardens this weekend, planting and relocating flowers (and veggies) galore. All of my flower gardening experience comes from trial and error; some things work, some things don’t, and some things just don’t like the spot they’re in, so they get moved. I’m not an expert, nor do I play one on T.V.

This is by no means a complete list – we have a lot, and I do mean a LOT of different types of flowers, shrubs, trees and plants in our yard. These are just a tiny selection of flowers that are easy to grow for me here in zone 5 – I will try and follow up soon with some more of them. Here’s a shot of a small section of one of our patios last year:

lola-rugula-yard

Mostly what you see here are dahlias to the left, some cosmos around the birdhouse and catmint to the right. I love all these different colors and prefer it when the gardens are just a little wild looking; to me, it just seems more sensual and exotic this way.

Crocus are one of our first flowers to peek their heads up in early spring; they will even bloom in the snow. They are very small plants, but their early burst of color each year is always a joyful sign that winter has finally ended, which makes me a happy woman, indeed.

lola_rugula_purple-crocus

Daffodils are next to show their colorful faces, followed closely by tulips. Both of these bulb flowers bloom just a few weeks, tops, but their beauty is well worth the effort of planting them.

lola_rugula_daffodils

lola_rugula_pink_tulipNot a flower, but worth mentioning, mostly because I’m intoxicated by their perfume, is lilacs. We have a few different varieties and all of them are gorgeous and all of them are currently either blooming or getting ready to. Give them lots of sunshine and they’ll reward you with an unparalleled scent each year. They require little upkeep, aside from some minor pruning and occasional feeding. What they do not particularly like is being moved, so find a sunny spot where they have lots of room to grow and they’ll be happy.

lola_rugula_lilacs

Blooming with the lilacs right now in early May are all of our Bleeding Heart plants. These grow great for us and, as a bonus, they do best in the shade, adding a burst of color to the not-so-sunny areas of our yard. They also grow bigger each year and are easy to divide and transfer.

lola_rugula_bleeding-heart

Last but not least, at least for now, lilies are usually next to bloom, though I have to admit – the area deer tend to enjoy them before we ever get to see them bloom. Because of this, we’ve planted some close to our house and have been rewarded in our efforts. Beautiful and, apparently, tasty too.

lola_rugula_lily

Have you had luck growing any of these flowers? If so, or if not, let me know your zone and what issues you’ve had – I’d like to hear your stories.

Hopefully, if you’ve made it this far, you enjoy flowers as much as I do and can appreciate the labor that goes into growing them. Peace to all and happy blooming!

easy asparagus with ricotta and capicola frittata

Asparagus season is upon us even though my own crop is still quite a few weeks away from delivering. Take advantage of the great deals on asparagus now and whip together this easy frittata recipe for dinner, brunch or breakfast. Of course, you can also make it vegetarian by removing the capicola. No capicola on hand? Use prosciutto or even bacon…trust me, no one’s going to complain.

asparagus-frttata-ricotta-tart-recipe

easy asparagus with ricotta and capicola frittata recipe

  • 15-16 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup freshly-shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • fresh chives, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • a few slices of capicola, diced
  • 1 lb fresh, thin asparagus spears

Preheat oven to 375°

In a bowl, whisk together everything but the asparagus. Pour into a 10-inch (or close) non-stick pan. Gently press the asparagus spears into the top of the mixture.

Bake in oven about 35-40 minutes, just until edges start to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Don’t sweat this if you don’t have pencil-thin asparagus! Just dice up your thicker spears and add them to the mix. Maybe not as pretty but, trust me, still delicious. I’ve done it both ways and it works like a charm. If your spears are super-huge, try blanching them first.

Of course, you can make this with any veggie you like; use your imagination and don’t be afraid to play with your food.

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