Blueberry Maple Ice Cream Soda

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One summer during high school, I spent a week with a family friend, Bobby, while her daughter and family were out of town. Bobby was a totally fascinating lady–she attended Berkeley in the 30′s where she studied micro-biology (a lady! in the 30′s! micro-biology!)…and, she introduced me to the ice cream soda, for which I will be forever thankful.

Before, the world of ice cream sodas consisted of the standard root beer float. After, I knew that the possibilities were endless. An ice cream soda is a super simple, old fashioned, soda fountain treat. It’s a simple mixture of ice cream, flavored syrup, and soda water. Here, I’ve paired super maple-y ice cream with a fruity blueberry syrup…because if we’re talking blueberry sans lemon, then I want it with maple. It just is. Adding soda water makes this drink effervescent and mixes the ingredients to create a creamy lavender color with streaks of pale maple ice cream and bright punches of deep purple.

This Blueberry Maple Ice Cream Soda is SO PRETTY and….it tastes like pancakes…enough said.

Blueberry Maple Ice Cream Soda

There will be enough ingredients to make several ice cream sodas…so, have one today, tomorrow, and the next day, OR share! 

Makes 1 ice cream soda.

2-3 medium scoops of maple ice cream (recipe below)

several tablespoons blueberry syrup (recipe below)

soda water

whipped cream (optional)

In a tall glass layer the ice cream scoops with spoonfuls of syrup. Pour on the soda water to cover, garnish with whipped cream and more syrup. Serve with a straw.

Maple Ice Cream

Adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home

1 1/2 cups pure maple syrup

2 cups milk

1 cup cream

4 teaspoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons cream cheese, softened

In a medium saucepan, heat maple syrup and bring to a boil. Cook, turning the heat down as needed if the syrup bubbles too much, until reduced by about half, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the cream.

Pour 1/4 cup of the milk into a bowl and whisk in the cornstarch to combine. Set cornstarch slurry aside.  Whisk in the remaining milk and salt with the cream and maple mixture. Return to heat and bring the maple and dairy mixture to a low boil. Quickly whisk in the cornstarch slurry to combine, bring to a boil and cook, whisking until thickened–about 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Place the cream cheese in a mixing bowl (preferably with a spout for easy pouring), and mix lightly with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in the hot ice cream base until combined well.

Prepare and ice bath in a clean sink or large bowl. Pour the hot maple ice cream base into a gallon-size zip top bag, seal, and chill in the ice bath until cooled completely. Process the ice cream base in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Scrape into a freezer container and seal, freeze for several hours until firm.

Blueberry Syrup

1 heaping cup of blueberries, rinsed and dried

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons lemon juice

In a small saucepan, over medium-high, heat blueberries with sugar and lemon until berries burst and release their juices and the sugar is dissolve  Bring to a boil and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and press the blueberry syrup through a fine mesh sieve, discard solids. Pour syrup into a heatproof jar, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Hot Cocoa Mix and Vanilla Marshmallows

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Guys! The world totes didn’t end, so if you’ve maybe put off your holiday gifts I have this super easy Hot Cocoa Mix with Vanilla Marshmallows for ya.

I always try to put together gifts that I would like to receive–since I’m kind of picky, I’m my own holiday litmus test. One of my favorite wintertime gifts is a new mug. Just a mug though seems a little wan to me, so I like to add a little something homemade to make it personal and sweet. This hot cocoa mix comes together in about 2 minutes, while the marshmallows take a little longer, but if you have a mixer it will do a bulk of the work for you. To make the marshmallows extra special and glitzy, I like to add about 1/4 teaspoon luster dust (found with cake decorating supplies) into the dusting mixture  It makes the ‘mallows shimmer a bit and takes them into gifting territory. Certain people in my life are receiving this exact gift. I’m hoping they love it as much as I love them.

Speaking of love, Happy Holidays! You are amazing and thank you for reading my crazy ramblings, peeping at my pictures, and being generally awesome.

Love and Peace to you all! XO!

Hot Cocoa Mix and Vanilla Marshmallows

Since this cocoa mix relies mainly on 2 ingredients, use a cocoa powder you really love. I used Valrhona–which is my favorite of favorites. I think a little espresso powder would be a nice addition as well. The marshmallows can be flavored however you’d like–peppermint would be super fun and appropriate, I think.

Cocoa Mix:

Adapted from Martha Stewart

3 cups sugar

1 vanilla bean (optional)

2 cups cocoa powder

Whole Milk to serve.

Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and in a bowl, rub the vanilla seeds into the sugar until fragrant and well dispersed. Add the cocoa powder and whisk to combine.

For Cocoa: Stir 1-2 Tablespoons cocoa mix with 8 ounces of hot milk. Top with marshmallows.

Vanilla Marshmallows:

Adapted from this recipe. 

2/3 cup cold water

4 teaspoons powdered gelatin

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 vanilla bean

1/2 cup water

scant teaspoon vanilla

2 Tablespoons each powdered sugar and cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon luster dust–optional

In a small bowl sprinkle the gelatin over the 2/3 cup water and set aside to soften.

Spray a 9X13inch pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a gallon bag, shake together the powdered sugar, cornstarch, and luster dust. Set aside.

Scrape the seeds from a vanilla bean and in a bowl rub seeds into the sugar until fragrant and well dispersed. In a medium saucepan combine sugar with water and stir gently to moisten. Heat the sugar and water over medium heat without stirring, until sugar dissolves and comes to a boil, cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin and vanilla to combine.

Using a hand or stand mixer, beat the syrup until it becomes light in color, voluminous, and holds a medium-stiff peak. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and dust the top with powdered sugar. Allow to set up several hours before cutting and shaking the pieces in the powdered sugar mix to coat well. Can be kept in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks.

 

Updated Green Bean Casserole

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Green bean casserole never graced the Thanksgiving table of my youth. It was one of those things I only ever had at other peoples houses and gatherings. At it’s simplest and most processed, it’s a mix of canned soup, green beans, and canned fried onions…and, I loved it.

Fast forward to adulthood, and I can’t really get with canned, cream-of-whatever soups anymore. They just don’t do it for me–too bland, yet somehow too salty, as well. I can, however, get with those crazy fried onion dudes…so, I made the soup and stuck with the store-bought, french-fried alliums*, and ditched the canned beans for fresh ones.

The soup starts with mushrooms, plus some shallot and garlic for flavor, and is finished with an odd-yet-totally appropriate mix of chicken stock, fish sauce, and a little half & half. I first sweat, then caramelize the mushrooms–which seems counterintuitive, but it makes for little nubs of mushroom that are super nutty and flavorful. The fish sauce adds savory depth and zero fishy-weirdness.

This casserole is a nod toward the original, but with better flavor, layered richness, and a fresher, more vegetal profile from the fresh beans and homemade mushroom soup. The crunchy topping is everything you remember (and love) of the classic version, with a little bit of an update underneath.

*You can go with the OG French’s brand of onions, but there are a number of store-brand options out there. I have, personally, had good luck with the Trader Joe’s version.

Updated Green Bean Casserole

Since the soup part of the original casserole is the sodium-flavored-condensed-variety, I wanted the soup base for this to be super flavorful. My secret addition is a bit of fish sauce for another layer of savoriness–you can leave it out (along with subbing veg stock for chicken) if you want to go vegetarian or don’t have fish sauce on hand. I like to keep a bottle on hand in the refrigerator for asian dishes–a little goes a long way and it keeps well. I also added turmeric–I add it to a lot of things since it’s good for the brain, it just adds a warm color to the sauce and the faintest earthiness, but it’s totally optional here. 

“Condensed” Creamy Mushroom Soup:

2 teaspoons olive oil

8 ounces cremini (brown) mushrooms, cleaned and chopped

1 large shallot, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 Tablespoons butter, unsalted

2 Tablespoons flour

1/8 teaspoon turmeric

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

salt

pepper

2 cups low-sodium chicken stock

1/2 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)

1 Tablespoon half and half

Casserole:

1 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 recipe creamy mushroom soup

1 1/4 cups french fried onions

In a medium to large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chopped mushrooms to the pan and season lightly with salt–the mushrooms should release a good amount of liquid after salting–continue to cook until the mushroom liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms bits begin to take on some caramelized color and turn fragrant, stirring occasionally. Add the shallot and stir, cook until shallot is translucent and beginning to soften. Add the garlic, stir, and cook about 1 minute. Add the butter to the pan to melt, stir in the flour, along with turmeric and cayenne (if using), to make a roux. Cook for 1-2 minutes to cook out the raw-flour flavor. Stir together the chicken stock, fish sauce (if using), and half & half. Begin adding the chicken stock mixture to the mushroom-roux mixture, stirring out any lumps, until all of the liquid is incorporated. Taste and season accordingly with salt and pepper. Continue cooking the soup base until it begins to bubble and has thickened a bit. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large pot of salted, boiling water, cook green beans for about 2-3 minutes, until just tender. Drain the beans and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350*F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine green beans with the soup base, mix to coat well. Add about 1/4 cup crushed, french fried onions, and mix to combine. Pour the green bean mixture into a baking dish and bake for 30 minutes, until the casserole is bubbling. Remove from oven, top with remaining french fried onions, and continue to bake another 5 minutes until the topping is crisp and golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool 5-10 minutes before serving.