Eating with Rob

My new marriage and the eats that bring us together.

Posts tagged vanilla

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The thrilla in vanilla.

I missed my kitchen so much when I was at home. It may not be the biggest kitchen, but it’s full of little appliances that I just love to use. So on Tuesday June 3rd, the only day I had off in Richmond before turning back into a therapist, I put one of my favorites to work - my ice cream machine.

I haven’t bought storebought ice cream in quite a while, but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t eaten my share when I was at home (my dad loves some good chocolate ice cream, and he usually has some on hand). I’ve tried making chocolate ice cream in my Cuisinart before, but something about it wasn’t quite right. I was hopeful on this sunny June afternoon that I could satisfy my own chocolate fix, as well as Rob’s penchant for Oreos with some homemade cookies ‘n cream.

Featuring my homemade vanilla! This reminds me that I need to make more - this bottle that I made in March is finally on the out.

I used Cuisinart’s plain vanilla ice cream recipe, the one that came in the manual (http://www.cuisinart.com/recipes/desserts/5200.html). It’s been absolutely foolproof each time I’ve made it. But the true test - can it carry Oreos?

The answer is yes. Yes yes yes. As the ice cream was coming to its final moments of spinning, I poured in some Oreos that I’d crushed up in a storage bag with a rolling pin (this is cheap therapy). I hadn’t realized the exhilaration of being able to CONTROL how much cookie goes in the cookies and cream. I added a lot. And I felt the power.

I know that face is a little ambiguous, but I promise you that it was an “oh. my. gosh. so. good.” sentiment. I have to say that I agree, it was pretty delicious - the creaminess of homemade ice cream plus the extra dose of Oreos made this an absolutely divine dessert for ol’ Rob and me. I think it was safe to say at that point that he was glad to have me back.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia ice cream Cuisinart ice cream machine homemade ice cream cookies and cream cookies and cream ice cream Oreo vanilla homemade vanilla vanilla extract

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There’s no such place as far away.

By Thursday, May 8th, I had finished my third year of graduate school. While finishing the “hump year” is a nice milestone, I had a very busy summer ahead of me - the first order of business was to go back home and bridesmaid (as a verb) in two weddings, two weekends in a row.

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The first wedding, not till the 24th, was my brother’s wedding, and because my future sister-in-law Janie was so amazingly helpful for my wedding, I wanted to be there for her as much as I could. This meant leaving for Kansas City on the second weekend of May and staying through the wedding. And THIS meant that Rob would be on his own in Richmond for a few weeks, so I thought it would be nice if I left him with a few go-to homemade staples.

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The first was a big ol’ loaf of challah bread (I think I made a double batch, so there were actually two loaves if I’m not mistaken). It turned out MUCH prettier than the first time we made it (http://omnomwithrob.tumblr.com/post/93313058917/sunday-funday), and I felt I had finally gotten the hang of the recipe (http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-challah-bread-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-181004). Plus, it happened to slice into little Virginias.

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These two loaves meant that Rob would be set up for making sandwiches for probably at least a month. Then, I thought I’d make him something sweet that would keep well for a while and decided on chocolate cake, just the original Hershey’s recipe (https://www.hersheys.com/recipes/recipe-details.aspx?id=184&name=HERSHEY%27S-PERFECTLY-CHOCOLATE-Chocolate-Cake).

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I was happy to use some of my homemade vanilla (http://www.spoonforkbacon.com/2012/12/homemade-extracts/), which was just some vodka and vanilla beans I’d had sitting around since, you guessed it, March 1st. It needed two months to get funky, so once May 1st rolled around, it was good to go.

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This recipe made kind of a runny batter, which made me a little nervous, but sometimes I forget that thicker isn’t always better, especially for cake. The finished product ended up being nice and rich and dense, just enough to be considered cake without venturing into brownie territory. I topped it with a simple buttercream frosting (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/quick-vanilla-buttercream-frosting-recipe.html) that I mixed with a little orange extract and a little orange zest. And obviously a sprinkley heart.

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I put the lid on my dish and popped the cake in the fridge, where it kept perfectly for the entire time I was away. Rob even sent me a photo the first time he got in there and had a slice. His review was glowing - the tang of the orange was a great compliment to the dense chocolate cake.

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Rob is a great cook and had no trouble fending for himself while I was away, but I’m just so used to cooking for us that I couldn’t help myself from leaving him with these little things. Even though I technically didn’t eat either of these with Rob, I felt it was the least I could do to have a hand in his survival for the next few weeks.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia challah bread challah bread homemade bread eggs chocolate chocolate cake cake Hershey's buttercream orange orange zest orange extract vanilla vanilla extract homemade vanilla extract

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Room for cream.

On Sunday, December 15th, Rob and I ate our last blogworthy meal in Richmond for the year. For about a week, Rob had been telling me about a new coffee shop that had opened up right near my bus stop at 8th and Franklin downtown, so we thought we’d walk over and give it the ol’ college try.

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The place is called Sefton Coffee Co. (http://seftoncoffee.com/), and it’s cute as a button. The style, amount, and placement of the seating all reminded me so much of the coffee shops in Brooklyn.

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It was late morning and either breakfast or lunch food seemed appropes along with our coffee. So we pulled up a stool at the window with our noms - I had the chicken salad you see above. It was a tarragon chicken salad, full of apples, raisins, pecans, and of course mayonnaise, served on a little bed of lettuce. Rob had a nice cup of oatmeal - I believe they were serving a special variety that day, maybe some combination of vanilla, white chocolate, and cranberry? I can’t quite remember, but I do remember it being sort of a neat idea.

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While the food wasn’t super wow, it’s certainly not bad for coffee shop fare. They have a really nice variety of tasty looking sandwiches, in addition of course to other snacks and pastries. I mostly liked the furnishings and the atmosphere, and of course that’s it’s just so doggone cute. I’m sure we’ll be back for a cuppa joe before too long, especially since it’s so close to our little downtown home.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia Sefton Sefton Coffee Co. coffee shop chicken salad tarragon raisins pecans lettuce apples mayonnaise oatmeal vanilla white chocolate cranberries coffee cafe

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LIEUTENANT DAN.

Welp, Rob and I are fresh off the plane from our honeymoon, and I thought I’d celebrate with a little Saturday post and with a more universal symbol of celebration…that which this beauty bears.

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That’s right folks, among my wedding score, I received an ice cream maker from my awesome Aunt Tammie and Uncle Jeff. I have never had a real ice cream maker before, and I couldn’t wait to try it out. I thought I’d begin with the standard vanilla, so on August 18th, I loaded up on heavy cream, sugar, and of course, vanilla, using the recipe that came with the Queeze. Rob captured me pouring the mixture in so beautifully, didn’t he?

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I have approximately 20 more pictures that are slight variations of the above, so thanks Rob for the flipbook. Anyhow, once I got it all in there and excitedly churning, I ran into a slight problem - being an ice cream machine noob, I assumed that it kind of got cold, ya know, while it was going. Nope! You most definitely have to freeze the bowl first. Soooo this project was put on hold for a few hours.

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Behold, good things come to those who wait! But this deliciousness was not just for me, and it was no coincidence that I made it on August 18th, which happens to be my kitty Peach’s fifth birthday, and our three year anniversary together since Rob and I picked her out at the shelter.

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So as you can see, we have some for me (chocolate sauuuuuuce), some for him (cinnamon), and some for kitty (with the obviously appropriate birthday sprinkles). Too excited to wait for it to firm up further in the freezer, we didn’t stop there - Rob also threw some in the blender we received from my amazing cohort of classmates for a round of brandy alexanders!

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So we were happy campers that night. But the birthday girl, would she like her treat? I was fairly confident that she would - she usually licks my ice cream bowls clean and loves anything full of a good dairy product.

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Doh! No dice. She didn’t even stick her paws in it like she usually does (must not be a fan of sprinkles). As rabid as she looks in that picture, I actually appear to have bored her with my efforts and provoked a massive yawn. Somebody has such refined taste…maybe she should have tried the one with the brandy.

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Believe it or not, after all of these servings in all of these different ways, we still had leftovers! Thankfully, I have a dozen of these super handy glass bowls (complete with matching lids) from good pal Angie Spencer, and the remainder of the goods fit inside just perfectly. Here’s the look of things once the ice cream had had a sleepover in the fridge.

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I was so thrilled with how this ice cream turned out. I’ve made a few more batches since, which you’ll see later, but this one by far came out the best. It was so creamy that your lips actually felt softer after eating some! But over and above the deliciousness factor, I am so thrilled to have this kitchen gadget…never before have I been able to make ice cream myself, and being able to is a treat in more ways than one.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Richmond Virginia ice cream Peach the Cat birthday vanilla vanilla ice cream homemade ice cream Cuisinart brandy brandy alexander cinnamon chocolate sprinkles ice cream machine

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Blind date.

On the morning of February 15th, I really wanted to surprise Rob with carrot cake pancakes (http://cannella-vita.blogspot.com/2012/07/carrot-cake-pancakes.html). He is a big lover of cinnamon flavored stuff, and well, pancakes. However, as you may recall, I no longer had access to ANY of my online recipes up in the mountains. So instead of a surprise, I had to enlist his help for this adventure in blind cooking.

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The first part was easy - I combined greek yogurt, powdered sugar, and vanilla for the glaze that was supposed to go on the pancakes. Kind of hard to screw that up.

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Once I was finished with the glaze, I knew the wet ingredients had to come next. So Rob helped me to combine an egg with about a cup of milk. So far, we are actually getting an A+ according to the recipe, even though I had far less of an idea about the amounts of things here than I did with our tomato soup the night before.

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Here’s where I botched it. In a big ol’ stock pot (really the only thing big enough to serve as a mixing bowl), I combined THREE TIMES as much flour and HALF AS MUCH baking powder as the recipe called for. Which completely diluted the sugar and spice mixture I added in close to correct amounts, fully winging it.

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We quickly realized that we didn’t have enough of the wet ingredients for all of that flour, unless we were shooting for a carrot cake pie crust or something. So we added more milk and egg, and even though the batter didn’t taste quite sweet enough, we proceeded to pan these cakes.

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Rob is truly an expert pancake flipper, he waits for the bubbles and everything! But as a lubricant, we had to use olive oil as opposed to something more sweets-friendly like butter or canola. So pretty much the only thing that was well-executed for this little breakfast was that they didn’t get burned.

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They looked pretty though! We added our greek yogurt topping and a little more cinnamon before diving in. They were thick, dense, raw in the middle, and overall hilarious.

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But Rob ate them anyway because he is adorable. I whimpered about how lousy they were, but he just looked at me and said, “Caroline. You thought to surprise me IN THE MOUNTAINS with CARROT CAKE pancakes. IT IS OKAY AND I LOVE YOU.” Hearing that doesn’t suck, but having a comical amount of wonky leftover batter does! Sorry carbon footprint, but I think this is how the universe is punishing me for my tendency to only loosely follow recipes. YA GOT ME.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog Shenandoah River State Park Virginia breakfast carrot cake pancakes greek yogurt powdered sugar vanilla

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We elves try to stick to the four main food groups.

Later that night, I don’t remember what exactly Rob and I were doing, but we got a mad hankering for chocolate milk. And when I say we, I mean he - Rob is an unabashed milk addict, and chocolate literally sweetens the deal.

     

So I googled around and found this recipe (you have to scroll clear to the bottom to see it - http://www.thriftyfun.com/tf265031.tip.html) that we could use to make our own chocolate syrup from something I always have on hand, cocoa powder. Seriously, it’s a life saver to always have some around for impromptu snacks or surprise pot-lucks (they really sneak up on you sometimes).

     

We combined the cocoa powder with sugar, water, and salt, and my whisker extraordinaire (in more ways than one), worked on it until it started to get thick. Then we added the vanilla and put it in the fridge for a while.

     

It didn’t get quite as thick as we thought it would, no doubt because we never added any corn starch. But as you can see, it got the job done.

    

Our chocolate milk went ever so nicely with Rob’s cherry cola cupcake (http://omnomwithrob.tumblr.com/post/30385989456/where-you-drink-champagne-and-it-tastes-just-like), and though I’m notorious for making my own pudding, I paired mine with a snack pack. Then we poured our extra syrup into a fun little jar for safely refrigerated keeping.

       

I know this is weird, but I’m kind of sentimental about milk. I only ever drink enough to put in my coffee, and therefore typically buy very little at a time. But when Rob comes to town, I make sure to buy a full gallon so he can have it on his cereal, or just a glass whenever he wants. Makes me feel like I have someone to take care of.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog chocolate chocolate milk Richmond Virginia homemade cupcakes cherry cola cereal milk cocoa powder sugar salt vanilla corn starch pudding

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On the eighth day, God created bacon.

I found a great recipe a few weeks before that I just knew I had to make for Rob on our Valentine’s weekend. Bacon. Bourbon. Brownies.

     

After a quick stop at the Key Foods, I consulted my recipe (http://www.beantownbaker.com/2012/01/bacon-bourbon-brownies.html), which incidentally didn’t involve any of the produce you see pictured. But it did involve BACON. Isn’t it gorgeous?

     

Rob’s lack of kitchen utensils (despite our day of gadgetry purchases!) left me with no mixing bowl. God bless the dutch oven.

     

After I whipped up the brownie batter, we sure had a lot of fun tearing up bacon for the top…and sneaking a few bites for ourselves.

     

After a spin in the oven, these babies were ready to eat! Instead of just pouring bourbon on top to finish like the recipe said, I put together a little glaze by heating up some bourbon, butter, sugar, and vanilla on Rob’s testy stove. Poured it over the top while the brownies were still warm, and voila!

     

We took these babies to a get-together with Rob’s friends Jon and Melissa, and Tyson joined us too! I highly recommend this recipe if you need a party (or general humanity) pleaser!

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog bacon bourbon brownies Key Food dutch oven glaze butter sugar vanilla

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Let it snow!

Blizzard, day two. Cabin fever? No way.

I did, however, get a little delirious when Rob said he had never.had.snow.ice.cream. Lucky for us, there was no short supply. Look how ashamed he is.

          

After popping outside for a quick bowlful of the clean, untrodden stuff, we brought it back in for sweetenin’. I’d caution you to wait until at least the second snow of the season, and there’s obviously got to be a lot of it so you’re not scraping it off the ground or anything. Woof.

     

A handful or two of sugar and a few splashes of milk and vanilla later, bam. You’ve got snow ice cream. Heavy cream or half and half work too if you like it a little creamier and have got some girlish figure to waste. I put pink food coloring in mine to make it ridiculous.

     

Later, I really went out on a limb and put a kiss of Dr. Pepper in it. Man oh man! Burger King could sell it out of a slurpee machine.

Caroline

Filed under Rob Bratney food blog snow ice cream snow milk vanilla sugar blizzard food coloring Dr. Pepper

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