White Russian Ice Cream

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IT’S ALMOST TIME FOR CHRISTMAS!!!!!

And I’m just a little bit excited. (Can you tell?!)

Although we normally wait until post-Thanksgiving to start breaking out the Christmas decorations, this year my better half and I decided to get a head start on the holiday season and are happy to announce that our home is fully decked out and ready for Santa…lights and all!

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Christmas is my absolute favorite, and there are few seasonal activities that I love more than decorating the Christmas tree. I love unwrapping our little mementos from the past, recalling the cherished stories and sentiment behind each ornament. We also have some brand new additions this year, intended to mark the very first of what is hopefully a lifetime of awesome Christmases:

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As we spent the weekend saying hello to both our old and new favorites, I started thinking about tradition: particularly, how it starts and what keeps it going. Somehow, I got stuck on the idea of “accidental” traditions.

For example, this lovely star at the top of our tree:

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To the naked eye, it seems like a normal enough star; but as is the case with most tree toppers, ours has a story.

After several years of using old hand-me-downs from our relatives, we made the executive decision one snowy day to embark on a journey to get ornaments that were truly ours. That star was one of our very first Christmas purchases together (if not the first), and thus it is one of the most special items in our decoration arsenal.

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…Unfortunately, we broke the star as soon as we got it home. Ever since, it has been artfully held together by a Green Bay Packers chip clip. One wrong move, and the star goes tumbling down the length of the tree, taking a slew of glass ornaments with it.

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Each year, when we pull the star out of its proper storage box, we talk about getting a new one.

“Where’s that damn chip clip?”

After a few minutes of frustration, we eventually head out to the store, our hearts set on purchasing something brand new and unbroken.

But then…we get overwhelmed by all of the holiday traffic, screaming children, and aggressive shoppers. So, we turn around and head home.

“Our star is absolutely good enough,” we end up saying. “It has character!”

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Now, I can’t imagine our Christmases without that star, watching my better half struggle to wind the chip clip around the plastic bristles of our fake tree. It’s one of my favorite traditions that was never meant to be.

Another one of our accidental holiday traditions?

This fabulous (and perfectly boozy) White Russian ice cream:

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No, no – White Russians don’t hold any sort of special significance in my life, nor did I grow up with White Russian-loving uncles or grandfathers. In fact, the only real experience I’ve had with White Russians was when I turned 21 and started drinking for the first time, because I found that I didn’t really care for alcohol and told the bartender I wanted “something that tastes like a Frappuccino.”

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My exposure to White Russians continued to be quite limited until I met my husband, who introduced me to the movie The Big Lebowski. And, as anyone who has seen this film knows, it’s impossible to watch from start to finish without eventually succumbing to an intense craving for a White Russian.

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I know, I know – this is all very exciting, but what do White Russians and The Big Lebowski have to do with Christmas, you ask? Well, for most people, absolutely nothing. But for our weirdo family, The Big Lebowski and White Russians are right up there with hot chocolate and Home Alone.

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For some reason, the last Christmas that my sister was home visiting from Paris, we decided to casually have The Big Lebowski on as background noise while we did other things around the house. Well, half an hour later we stopped what we were doing to set up shop on the sofa and give the movie our full attention. We spent the afternoon hysterically laughing, snuggling under blankets, and of course – drinking White Russians.

A few days later, I wanted to do something special with the leftover vodka, Kahlua, and heavy cream taking up space in my fridge and cabinets. My next logical move, of course, was to turn it all into ice cream. (It makes sense, after all – White Russians are about 4 egg yolks and some sugar away from being ice cream, any how).

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Well, let’s just say that the ice cream didn’t last long enough for me to blog about it last year (we may or may not have eaten it all in one sitting). But I just knew it would be the perfect post to kick off Holiday Season 2014 (even if it is a little early).

So, long story short (or maybe not so short)… the taste of White Russians instantly remind me of Christmas, and this little gem, along with the peppermint mocha that I made last year, are my favorite go-to holiday ice cream recipes.

This year’s batch of White Russian ice cream is extra special, because we found incredible locally-made vodka to give it that little dose of Ohio magic that really just makes everything better 🙂

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But if you don’t have Ohio vodka, never fear – this stuff is delicious regardless (especially topped with some homemade hot fudge!). You can tailor the amount of alcohol to your personal preference, starting with about 2 tablespoons each of vodka and coffee liquor (just keep in mind that the more alcohol you add, the longer it will take the ice cream to freeze). I ended up adding about 4 tablespoons of each – but hey, we’re all adults here, right? The texture of my ice cream was extremely soft at first, but once it got a full night’s sleep in the freezer, it was good to go 🙂

Are you getting excited for the holidays? What are some of your favorite traditions?

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I hope you enjoy this rich, decadent version of a holiday (or maybe not-so-holiday) drink.

Happy scooping! 🙂

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Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae Bars

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Despite its unfortunate proximity to Monday, Sunday is one of my very favorite days of the week (after Friday and Saturday, of course).

My fondness for Sundays grows particularly strong in the fall and winter months, when cold weather and football give us legitimate reasons to spend afternoons lounging on the couch, snacking, and sipping hot chocolate.

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In our house, Sundays mean a big hearty breakfast at our favorite local joint, followed by a quick hike or walk in the park (or, if breakfast was a little too big, maybe just a nap), then some sort of comforting, slow-cooked stew or casserole for dinner.

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But my absolute favorite way of celebrating Sundays is with, well…sundaes.

(Do you see what I did there?)

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The only problem is that football Sundays beg for some sort of convenient, hand-held dessert, and sometimes, traditional sundaes bring too much fanfare (and dirty dishes). The next logical option for the football-loving ice cream fanatic is ice cream contained within a bar or sandwich formation, as it offers a more useful way to eat ice cream while leaving one hand available to eat chips, text a friend, or pump the air when your favorite team scores a touch down.

There’s just one thing wrong with this picture – many ice cream bars just aren’t that delicious 😦

Truthfully, I’ve never been a big fan of store-bought ice cream bars – although tasty, I always felt like they were just “good enough.” I don’t know about you, but that’s not really a phrase I like to use when describing food.

And, although this may be one of my fatter proclamations, I usually end up needing two or three ice cream bars before I achieve the level of satisfaction that can be found with just one good ol’ fashioned hot fudge sundae.

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Welp, not with these bad boys! The brownie and hot fudge contained inside the bar ups the drama factor, and the richness of the homemade chocolate shell definitely satisfies the most hard-to-please sweet tooth (although if you do end up wanting more than one, there’s no judgment here!).

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The best part? You can customize these to your preference, using whatever ice cream flavor or candy/nuts/toppings your heart desires. My only recommendations are to 1) use a higher quality chocolate for the outer coating and 2) make sure you give yourself enough time to properly execute each step. I got a little impatient and tried to cut my bars apart after only two hours and ended up with a pretty big mess on my hands, but it was nothing a little dark lighting couldn’t fix in the photographs 🙂

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Even though these did not end up being the clean, handheld ice cream treats that I had envisioned (the chocolate melted pretty quickly against my fingertips), I’d say they were still a big hit and exponentially tastier than their grocery store counterparts. My version might not be as pretty, but they sure do taste dee-licious!

I hope you enjoy these decadent homemade ice cream bars, and that your Sunday is spent lounging and snacking, as all good sundaes should be (oops, I meant Sundays 🙂 )

Happy scooping!

 

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Salted Pecan Praline Sundae Sauce

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It’s a chilly, blustery November day here in Northeastern Ohio, and things really couldn’t be any better.

Lebron’s back home, Christmas Ale has officially arrived at a store near you, and pumpkin-spice-everything is slowly vacating center stage to make room for its wintery cousin, peppermint mocha. The holiday season is upon us, my friends!

And, as if these three things aren’t enough, there’s also this:

I’m a married woman now 🙂

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In anticipation of this post, my very first as a wife, I wanted to write something prolific; a symbolic and reflective narrative about this brand new chapter in my life and how different everything is going to be from now on.

But you know what?

I don’t really feel any different at all.

Just happier.

And lucky.

And grateful 🙂

Don’t get me wrong – I have a new last name, a sparkly new wedding band on my finger, and my better half and I finally have legal proof of our love and commitment. That’s pretty exciting stuff.

But after two years of wedding planning, the thing I’m most excited about is that we can finally get to really what matters most: our marriage.

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The past few years have been a doozy: falling in love, starting graduate school, changing jobs, getting engaged, planning a wedding, changing jobs again, planning a wedding, finishing graduate school, planning a wedding. As strange as it sounds, there hasn’t been much time for us to just be..us.

So, now that we’re back from the honeymoon and the planning is over, we can finally get back to doing what we do best: hangin’ out.

And, I can get back to doing what I do best: making a huge, sticky mess in the kitchen.

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Instead of cake at our wedding, my husband and I served ice cream sundaes and mini donuts for our dessert. Although we didn’t get to eat very much during the actual reception, the lovely folks at Pav’s Creamery gave us a few tubs (yes, tubs) of ice cream for the road.

So, with a freezer full of ice cream, and a heart full of happiness, I set out to make us a suite of toppings to accompany the last edible reminders of our special day. Hot fudge, salted caramel, and this new member of the family:

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Savory and sweet, this sauce comes together in a snap, and is even better when reheated in the microwave the next day. It’s the perfect treat for a blustery day, or when you just need something with a slow pour to help you take a break from reality.

I hope you enjoy this new addition to our ice cream topping family!

Happy scooping 🙂

 

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