Vanilla Bean Ice Cream & Dark Chocolate Sauce

I know you are thinking, “What!? Ice cream without a machine? You woman, are insane!” Ok so you’re not thinking that exactly but I am nothing if not eccentric and quirky. So, however true that may be, I might add that I have quite an affection for vanilla bean ice cream, and even though most of the store bought varieties are made with dried flavorless seeds that have had the flavor sucked out and are there for mostly looks.  I love to see the speckles of vanilla goodness.

If you have followed me for even just a bit or looked back at my posts, I have a chocolate ice cream that doesn’t require a machine.  Our tiny apartment has a kitchen the size of cubicle, i just cannot afford the space for an item that would get only seasonal use.   I found a chocolate no ice cream maker ice cream, and made it into a mocha and rocky road, now modified into vanilla ice cream happiness.

Originally I had bought ice cream to go with my tart tatin.  I picked up a brand that claimed to have only 5 ingredients.  Of course a first trial of a mini tarte tatin with the ice cream was good but really it tasted like iced milk with a cheap extract.  I was not happy with it at all and however good and just delicious that tarte was, the ice cream ruined it.  I was not going to be happy until I had it perfect – another fun little quirk about me, I can be a little pedantic.

So with my ever quick wit and ever-growing desire to do things my way, I took that recipe and made it into vanilla bean dream ice cream!  By infusing the beans of the two pods with the extract, it made such an intense vanilla flavor that is hands down the best damn vanilla ice cream I have had.   So here ya go, 4 ingredients to awesome vanilla ice cream (no machine required!) I have ever had.

Also, my home-made chocolate sauce!  Super easy just takes 10 minutes and lasts for 2-4 weeks sealed and refrigerated.

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Fajita Mix

I have always wanted to come up with my own Fajita Mix.  First of all the amount of additives and sodium in your standard mix makes this healthy meal quite unhealthy.  I just kept adding spices in small measurements until I got just the right flavor.   I even went out of my way, it wasn’t really, but I made tortilla’s which I haven’t done in years to go along with this meal.  I was more then estatic with the results of it all combined.

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White Wine Garlic Cream Pizza Sauce

Since I found the perfect pizza crust, for now.  Trying to get the perfect pizza combinations is my new goal.  I spent the better part of my day trying and looking up different ways to make a creamy garlic sauce for a pizza.  We used to get a pizza at a place that is now closed, but it was Chicken, Garlic & Tomato.  I know that most places use ‘ranch dressing’ as a white sauce but that just grosses me out.  For one, I wanted to know everything that was going into this and two, I wanted to use the last bit of wine left over from the chicken and artichoke dish.

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Chicken with Artichokes in White Wine

I came up with this based off of another similar recipe that has mushrooms and it is very close, but I made a few modifications to it due to what I had on hand.  It was a perfect quick and healthy weeknight meal.  It has tons of flavor, and it also made for great lunch for work the next day as left overs.  I cannot tell you how insanely soft this chicken turned out,  and letting it rest after cooking was key to making it taste amazing and making a very tender piece of meat.

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Chicken Enchiladas

This is another one of those recipes that I have adapted from family recipe to a slightly healthier version.  It is still packed full of spicy flavor, and by using corn tortillas and reduced fat cheese, it becomes a healthier version of the original.  I made it for my now mother-in-law years ago and not used to spicy foods still said these were the best she had ever had.

This isn’t really time-consuming recipe, but still takes some time to cook, due to boililing the chicken.   Once finished however you do always have the option of freezing which this does make enough for 4-6 people.  So, if you are making it for a couple, freezing half for another night is an ideal way for a make ahead meal.   You will just want to freeze the sauce separately.

Chicken Enchiladas

  • 1 lb Chicken Breasts
  • 3 Ancho Chili’s, dried
  • 3 Garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
  • 1 tsp Chipotle Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Pepper
  • 1/2 of a Lime
  • 1/2  Red Onion, cut in large chunks
  • Water
  • 1 can (7 oz) Tomato Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Corn Starch
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 16-20 Corn Tortillas
  • 1 1/2  c White Onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 c Reduced Fat, Mexican Cheese Blend

Place the chicken, ancho’s, garlic, chili powder, salt, pepper, onion and lime in a pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil.  Turn down to simmer and cover the pot with a lid.  About 30 min to an hour later the chicken should be falling into threads.

Place a mesh strainer over a bowl and drain let the chicken cool in the strainer.

Place the liquid back into the pot and turn on medium, bring to a boil.  Add the tomato sauce, cumin and corn starch to the liquid in the pot.  Stir vigorously until well combined, and all of the starch is worked into the liquid completely.  Taste, salt and pepper to taste.  When combined reduce heat to simmer and let it reduce by half.

While the sauce is reducing remove the lime, garlic, and onion pieces from the drained chicken.  In a plate shred the chicken with fingers, if it is still too hot to handle then use forks.  Taste and salt as needed.

Using a clean dish cloth, dampen with water and wrap the tortillas in it.  Microwave for 2 min to soften.  This makes them easy to roll without cracking as you place in the baking dish.

While the tortillas are in the microwave, dice up a small white onion should come to just under 1 1/2 cups.  Place the onion in a bowl.  Add the cheese to a bowl.  Place the bowls of chicken, onion, and cheese on a work surface.  Place the baking dish next to your work area, a 9×13 baking dish works perfectly.  Remove the tortillas and place in the center of your work area.  They will be hot, so be careful.

Starting in the edge of your baking dish place one tortilla and fill with the chicken, onion and cheese (if you need measurements; about 1/4 cup chicken, 1 tbsp onion, and 1 tbsp cheese). Roll placing seam side down.  Repeat until all the chicken is used.  You may or may not end up using all of the tortillas.  You should have left over onion and cheese.

The sauce should be reduced by half at this point.  If needed (looks lumpy from the corn starch) strain into a bowl.  If you let the sauce reduce by half you should have around 1 1/2 – 2 cups of sauce.  Ladle the sauce over the filled tortillas in the baking dish.  Sprinkle with remaining onion and cheese.  Bake uncovered in oven for 20 min at 400°F.   Serve with your favorite sides, and garnish.  I like to use cabbage and lime wedges with a little bit of fat free sour cream.

If freezing: After you fill the tortillas in the baking dish, cover tightly with foil or lid, and freeze.  The sauce should be cooled slightly before being frozen in a separate container.  To bake frozen remove the sauce from the freezer.  Place in microwave on defrost setting for five minutes.  Once defrosted, pour over the prepared enchiladas and bake uncovered in oven for 30-40 min at 400°F

Gyoza with Dipping Sauce

There is a place in the skyway in downtown Minneapolis called Zen Box. It has the best gyoza I have ever had. This is as close to their recipe as I can get. I have read about 25 recipes and based on taste tests this is the result, which is soft, savory, crunchy and holds up well when piced up which is a cooked-to-perfection test of a good gyoza. I have had good and bad potstickers – bad being Panda Express – and good which are in my opinion, these. It is one of those items that wherever you go you tend to order it. The results can vary widely from place to place and well have our favorites. If you like a slightly more crunch testure, keep in a 200°F oven until ready to serve. It adds an extra crunch to them that really is pleasant.

Gyoza is basically the Japanese name for potstickers or dumplings. The sauce for this I took the inspiration from another local restaurant (Fuji-Ya). They have this spicy dipping sauce that is just amazing! The following recipe makes 24 and they freeze exceptionally well. I hope you try them.

Gyoza Dipping Sauce

  • 3 tbsp Mirin
  • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 3 drops Chili Oil
  • 2 drops Sesame Oil

Combine and mix. Set aside to let flavors blend until ready to serve.


  • 2/3 c Napa Cabbage, minced
  • 1/4 lb Ground Pork
  • 1 tsp Ginger, fresh grated
  • 1 tsp Soy Sauce
  • 1/8 tsp Sesame Oil
  • 1/8 tsp White Pepper
  • 1/3 c Scallions, minced
  • 1 tbsp Egg White
  • 2 tbsp Water
  • 2 tsp Flour
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 drops Sesame Oil
  • 20-25 Gyoza wrappers
  • 1/2 c water

Shred and mince the cabbage, wash and drain and place on paper towels to dry.

In a bowl combine pork, ginger, soy, sesame oil, and pepper. By hand mix throughly. Add in egg white and continue to mix by hand. Add in the onion and cabbage keep mixing until one cohesive mass.

In a small bowl combine the 2 tbsp of water with 2 tsp of flour. This you will use to we the rims of the wrappers to seal. So place near your work space.

Get an empty plate or tray to place your prepared gyoza. Line it wax paper.

Now the tricky work.

Step 1: Place a gyoza wrapper in your hand and add 1 teaspoon of the pork mix in the center.

Step 2: Dip your finger in the flour water and run it around the rim of the wrapper. Make sure you are going over the very edge so you get a good seal. Fold the wrapper in half pushing all the air out from around the pork mince as you line up all the edges.

Step 3: Now the folding seal edge over edge in a Z shape starting in the middle.

Step 4: Then repeat working out from the middle one side to the edge and then the other. It should take no more then 2-3 crimps per side. Being sure to pinch the seal closed between your fingers.

Step 5: Place the dumpling fat side down on the plate. (If freezing, Line a flat sheet with wax paper, and place them in the freezer. When completely frozen transfer to a freezer bag. Keeps well up to 2-4 weeks.)

Repeat steps 1-5 until all the dumplings are made. After step 5 this is the point that if you want to you can freeze the dumplings.

Place a 10″ non stick skillet over medium heat. When it is hot place 1 tbsp olive oil and 2 drops sesame oil in pan.

Arrange 10-12 dumplings in the pan when it is browned to your personal preference.

Get the lid for the pan ready. Now add 1/2 cup of water and immediately place the lid. You will be able to hear when all the water has simmered out. Should be 5-8 minutes.

Test the seams for doneness. They should be A slight transparent oily color. If needed add two more tbsp of water. If it is ready remove from pan add 1 tsp of water and place on lid quickly and remove from heat. Shake pan to loosen dumplings.

Serve garnished with scallions and dipping sauce. Enjoy!

Pizza Sauce


I have never been a fan of red sauce on pizza.  That is until I tried one that was spicy, had a great tomato flavor, and had some sweet notes in it as well.  This is my replication of that. Tonight I made it into calzones with our favorite toppings; chicken, red peppers, and olives.  I used pizza dough recipe I make and freeze into portions.  It turned out perfect for this.  It was on a whim that I switched it to calzones from just a basic flat pizza.  Glad I did!  The sauce was really what pulled it all together and made this so great.

I started out with this post just wanting to share this pizza dough that I like to have on hand, mostly because it can freeze well and when you want it just take it out to thaw and it will finish rising.   Problem is, I lost the recipe!  I promise I will find it, so instead turned this into a Pizza Sauce recipe instead.    Super simple and spicy sauce, just takes a min to cook and come together and you will have an amazing sauce.


Pizza Sauce

  • 1 Lrg Roma Tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 Small Shallot, minced
  • 1 Garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper
  • 1/8 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/8 tsp Ground Fennel
  • 1/2 tsp Italian Parsley, minced
  • 1 can (8oz) Tomato Sauce
  • Salt to taste

With a small paring knife make a small X, do not slice through the flesh just enough to just score the skin, in the bottom of the tomato.   Place in a pan of rapidly boiling water for 30 seconds.  Remove and place in an ice bath.  Once cool enough to handle you should be able to just use the knife and peel away the skin of the tomato with out damaging the flesh, using the small X you made as a starting point.   Once all the skin is removed, cut in half and with a spoon remove all the guts, leaving just the flesh.  Finely dice the flesh and set aside.

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, saute the garlic and shallots until transparent.  Add in the diced tomato and cook until tomato becomes soft.  Once the tomatoes become soft add in all the spices, and the can of tomato sauce. Stir to mix well and taste! Always taste the food.  Add salt to taste.  Omit the salt if you plan on using slaty toppings; bacon, ham, olives for example.

Once the sauce begins to simmer, stir and turn to low.  Cook for 10 min.  Makes about 1 cup of sauce.