Ice Cream Sunday: Chai Ice Cream (plus a simple recipe for chai tea)

I absolutely love the comfort of a steaming hot cup of tea–chai especially–on a chilly winter day. It fills my belly with warmth and just plain ol’ feels like a fuzzy blanket gets wrapped all around me.

But who wants a cup of hot stuff going down in the summertime when the sun is beating down and the sweat is pouring? Now that is not comforting.

Bring on this chai ice cream to converge the two seasons, though, and you’ve got that winter comfort in a cup of creamy frozen chai. How perfect is that?!

Have you ever had chai? It’s a black tea full of warm aromatic spices, such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom, star anise, and black pepper. It’s mixed with honey and milk to create a silky, fragrant tea that glides down to soothe the body. I don’t recall how I got into chai, but I often order that when I pop into Starbucks.

I do recall, though, how I got into adding milk to my tea: I had a cousin visiting from Australia about 25 years ago. She introduced me to this concept, which at first I thought was very odd until I tasted it. Quite yummy indeed, and it’s now a habit of mine. It really softens the tea, giving it a smoother quality.

My sister-in-law introduced me to a very simple recipe for chai, which she got from a 2007 yoga magazine: to your black tea, add 1/8 tsp. cinnamon, 1/8 tsp. ginger, a pinch of cloves, 2 tsp. honey, and a dash of milk. I usually mix a big batch of the spices and just scoop some into my black tea every morning and every evening. I’ve seen more complex recipes on the internet, but this one is easy and works for me.

However, for this recipe, I used some bags of Tazo brand chai that I had picked up at Starbucks a few weeks back (thank you for all the Starbuck gift cards I get as gifts from students–it’s a happily and seemingly endless supply!). The Tazo tea flavor is more complex than the recipe above because it includes more spices, so the ice cream really had a depth to it.

The end product resulted in probably the creamiest ice cream I’ve made to date. I don’t know why this ice cream churned up so creamy because it is similar to other recipes I’ve tried. I think, though, it has something to do with the whisking of the yolks as well as the increased amount of vanilla I added (did you know vanilla is made from alcohol and vanilla beans? and did you know that alcohol helps keep frozen ice cream soft?). Anyway, if you like chai, you’ll definitely enjoy this frozen treat.

Chai Ice Cream

Printer-Friendly Version


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk (I used whole milk)
  • 2/3 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup loose leaf chai (or 2-4 bags)
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. vanilla


  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the heavy cream, milk, 1/3 cup sugar, chai, and salt. Bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Use a wooden spoon to stir, dissolving the sugar, and bring the cream mixture to about 175 degrees F (about 8 minutes). Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and allow the tea-infused cream to steep for 15 minutes or more, depending on how strong you want the flavor (I steeped mine for 35 minutes).
  2. When ready to continue, prepare an ice bath: place a 2-quart bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl. Set aside.
  3. After steeping is complete, whisk the egg yolks in a separate bowl, then slowly add the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, whisking for about 4 minutes or until the eggs are light in color and thick.
  4. Slowly ladle 1 cup of the hot cream into the eggs, whisking all the while.
  5. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and gently cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or spatula until custard reaches 170 degrees F,  about 8-10 minutes. You will know the custard is ready when you run your finger across the spatula coated with custard and it leaves a definite trail that doesn’t flow back together.
  6. Immediately strain the custard into the prepared ice bath (into the empty bowl). Add vanilla. Allow it to cool, about 1 hour, stirring periodically.
  7. Churn ice cream once cooled, or you may refrigerate it in a covered container for several hours or overnight. Follow manufacturer’s direction for churning.
  8. Store in an airtight container in the freezer.

SOURCE: adapted from Kitchen Confidante

Garlicky Mushrooms & Kale with Pasta

I have mega folders in my computer filled with recipes, all very neatly organized. In the “Sides” folder, each veggie has its own file. However, the “Kale” folder was empty when I began searching for a new recipe to cook up the abundance of kale growing in my garden. I use kale regularly in green smoothies and in my favorite salad, the Kale & Brussels Sprout Salad. I needed something new, though. So off to the internet to search for inspiration.

A garlicky mushrooms and kale recipe sounded appetizing, but I wanted a fuller meal. Hence, I mixed this with some pasta and voilà, a main dish was born, one that is pungent with garlic and earthy with mushrooms, yet the pasta mellows it all out.

By the way, the “kale” file in the veggies folder is still empty since I turned this into a main dish, but I did accomplish the goal of finding a new use for kale.

Garlicky Mushrooms & Kale with Pasta

Printer-Friendly Version


  • 8 ounces pasta, cooked and drained
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. butter, unsalted
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 8 ounces Cremini or button mushrooms, sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 pound kale, coarse stems removed, leaves sliced or torn into pieces
  • several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
  • parmesan cheese, grated


  1. In a large pot, heat water to boiling. Add a tbsp. of salt, then add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside while veggies cook.
  2. In a large skillet, add oil, butter, and garlic. Turn heat on to medium and sauté garlic for about 2 minutes, until it begins to sizzle and smell fragrant.
  3. Add the mushrooms and sprinkle with salt. Let them cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until the moisture has released and the mushrooms are lightly browned.
  4. Add the kale and pepper, and sauté for about 10 more minutes. (Cover pan with lid if the kale needs some help cooking down.) Add splashes of water if the pan seems dry. OR, as an alternative, you can blanch the kale for a few seconds, perhaps 10-20, and that will retain the bright green color while tenderizing the greens a bit.
  5. Mix pasta with veggies and serve with grated parmesan, if desired.

SOURCE: slightly adapted from Serious Eats

Ice Cream Sunday: Berry & Yogurt Swirl Pops

Popsicles! The quintessential kid treat from summertime.

Popsicles trigger my memories:

  • the chiming music of the ice cream truck
  • begging my mom for a quarter to buy a bomb pop (remember those red, white, and blue popsicles?)
  • all the neighborhood kids racing to the truck when it finally stopped and elbowing each other for who would be first in line
  • sticky popsicle juice melting and dripping down my chin and onto my t-shirt and all over my hands
  • the sheer and utter joy of summertime freedom and of youth

What happened to those ice cream trucks? I never see them anymore.  (For that matter, what happened to the summertime freedom and youth?)

No fear. I can now make my own popsicles at home. Very designer popsicles, as a matter of fact.

And far healthier than the commercial versions.

Enter these fruit and yogurt pops. I saw tons of recipes around the 4th of July for red, white, and blue popsicles, but this particular recipe reduced the amount of sugar, which appealed to me. Honey replaces some of the sugar, and it tastes light and refreshing as a result.

Since my Tovolo ice pop molds only house six pops and the recipe makes more than that, I just kept the leftover popsicle mixes in a covered container in the fridge and refilled the molds every time we polished one off. When the leftovers got down to one fruit flavor and the yogurt, I gently mixed the two together, making for a pop with heavy traces of fruity sweetness throughout the popsicle versus layers of flavors.

A few notes about these ice pop molds: LOVE ‘EM! Last year, I bought the inexpensive ones at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Argh. Didn’t work so well. Too cheapo.

This year, I discovered the Tovolo brand via other food bloggers. I love that I can take the molds out of the base one at a time; hence, when they are empty, I can store them back on the base even if the base is still in the freezer. I love that the caps on the molds fit so snugly. No freezer burn from exposed ice cream. The caps don’t come apart  from the pops when you pull the pops from the mold–big plus since the cheapos tend to fall apart.

I just run the pop under lukewarm water for a bit, then gently twist and pull until the pop comes loose. Yes, it’s a bit of work but nothing major.

One thing I don’t like: when you get toward the end of the popsicle, it slides into the deep cap and unless I grab a spoon, it’s too hard to get to the last of the frozen treat. Again, not a big deal.

I am so excited to try other flavors and combos for the popsicles that I think I may just have to order another popsicle mold.

One more memory: did anyone else ever hitch a ride on the back of the ice cream truck, unbeknownst to the driver, and take a spin around the block? And get yelled at by the driver when he discovered you? Ah, the sheer and utter joy of summertime freedom and of youth.

Berry & Yogurt Swirl Pops

Printer-Friendly Version


Strawberry Layer

  • 1/2 pound (1 1/2 cups) strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp.  lime juice
  • lime zest, from one lime

Blueberry Layer

  • 1/2 pound (1 1/2 cups) blueberries
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • lemon zest, from one small lemon

Yogurt Layer

  • 2 cups Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 pod vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise and seeds scraped with knife, or use 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or use 2 tsp. vanilla extract


  1. In a food processor, purée strawberries with honey, sugar, lime juice, and lime zest, Transfer to a small bowl.
  2. In a food processor, purée blueberries with honey, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Set aside in a small bowl.
  3. In another small bowl, whisk together yogurt, honey, and vanilla bean seeds (or paste or extract).
  4. Pour the 3 mixtures, alternating, into ten 3-ounce ice pop molds, making 3-5 layers in each. With a skewer or thin-bladed knife, swirl mixtures together in an up-and-down motion. Insert ice-pop sticks and freeze until solid, 2 1/2 – 3 hours.

SOURCE: adapted from The Cafe Sucre Farine who adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Zucchini Frittata

It never ceases to amaze me how zucchini plants just keep on producing. I’ve tended our plant faithfully this summer, trimming off about 1/3 of the humongous leaves every week or so. In return, the plant has extended its main stem and is now quite long, shooting off a continuous supply of squash.

As per usual, I’ve had to find a variety of ways to enjoy the summer produce. A new dish I’ve tried, zucchini frittata, includes slices of zucchini slightly sauteed and then enveloped in eggs along with some savory spices and sharp cheese. We’ve enjoyed this several times already this squash season.

Zucchini Frittata

Printer-Friendly Version


  • 1 pound of zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 6-8 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (or any cheese of choice)
  • 1/4 cup sliced or diced shallots (green onions or red onions could work, too)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper


  1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position, about 5 inches from broiler. Preheat oven to broil setting.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs. Add salt and pepper, grated cheese, and chopped basil, stirring to mix. Set aside.
  3. In a 12-inch non-stick, oven safe saute pan, heat oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add shallots and saute until soft, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add 1 tbsp. butter, then add zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 7-10 minutes.
  5. Pour egg mixture into pan. Cook, using spatula to  stir and scrape bottom of skillet until large curds begin to form and spatula leaves wake but eggs are still very wet, about 2 minutes. Shake skillet to distribute eggs evenly; cook without stirring for 30 seconds to let bottom set.
  6. Slide skillet under broiler; broil until frittata has risen and surface is puffed and spotty brown, 3-4 minutes. When cut with a paring knife, eggs should be slightly wet and runny. Remove skillet from oven and let stand 5 minutes to finish cooking. Using spatula, loosen frittata from skillet and slide onto platter or cutting board. Cut into wedges and serve.

SOURCES: inspired by Orangette; frittata cooking tips from Cooks Illustrated

Other Zucchini Recipes:

Zucchini and Carrot Slaw with Asian Dressing

Grilled Zucchini Greek Salad

Stuffed Zucchini in Tomato Sauce

Zucchini Melt

Lemon Rosemary Zucchini Muffins

Zucchini Cheese Bread

Savory Zucchini Fries

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Homemade Yogurt

Who knew yogurt was so easy to make? Just heat up milk to 180 degrees F, cool it down to 110-120 degrees, mix in a couple teaspoons of yogurt, stick it in a warm place for 8-12 hours, strain out the whey, and you have yogurt. I was tickled pink when I discovered that it is so easy to make. I had to try it. And I’ve tried it again…and again…and again..

Not only is it super easy to make yogurt, but it tastes far creamier and smoother than the packaged stuff at the store that is loaded with preservatives and who knows what else.

I’ve read that you can use the spectrum from whole milk to nonfat. I’ve only used whole milk. Bonus: I’ll never have to throw milk away that is past its due date because now I can just turn it into yogurt.

Once the yogurt reaches a gelatinous stage (after the 8-12 hour period), you need to strain the whey (the liquid) to the consistency you desire. I like thick Greek-style yogurt, so I let mine strain a lot. I’ll post soon about ways to use the whey. By the way, I take 3 coffee filters and overlap them to cover my strainer, then I spoon the yogurt in to strain it. I tried it once without the filters and the yogurt just strained right on through with the whey. Some people say this is a messy method. I find that my yogurt slides right off the filters, no problem and very little mess.

You can mix in vanilla when it is done straining to add some flavor. I haven’t tried that, though. I like the tangy flavor of the yogurt as is.

My favorite way to eat yogurt is with sliced strawberries and sprinkled with granola. I’ve taken to drizzling a bit of honey over it lately, and that adds a touch of sweetness to counterbalance the tang of the yogurt.

If you like fruit mix-in yogurts, consider making your own mixes. Annie of Annie’s Eats has a great post with some recipes she has created (link listed below).

How else can you use yogurt? Try making panna cotta. Try frozen yogurt. Try tzatziki. Some baked goods call for yogurt, too.

However, I love to just spoon mouthfuls of it along with some freshly sliced sweet strawberries.

As far as equipment goes, you will need a thermometer to make sure you have the temps correct. I have an effective and reasonably-priced digital thermometer. Other than that, a pan, a bowl, a towel and an oven are needed. Oven? Yes, that is the warm place you keep the yogurt for several hours while the bowl is covered and wrapped in a towel. I always mix my yogurt in the evenings and then let it sit in the oven overnight. I still feel hesitant about having a towel in my oven all night, but so far so good. Oh, you need a fine-mesh sieve, too.

I have read about other methods for keeping the yogurt warm, such as keeping it in an ice cooler along with some jars of hot water. I’ll provide some links to sites I read to learn about making yogurt so you can read up on the various methods.

In my yogurt journeys, I do fine with the heating/cooling part. A couple times I’ve forgotten to add the teaspoons of yogurt with live cultures, needed to inoculate the milk. Once, I had popped the bowl of milk into the oven for about a half hour when I remembered I had forgotten that step. I simply added the yogurt at that point and all turned out well.

Another time, I left the bowl in the oven for the 12-hour period, took it out, and it was still just milk. Then it dawned on me that I had forgotten the spoonful-of-yogurt step. Argh! So I experimented: I added the yogurt and popped it back into the oven for another 12 hours. And it worked! It turned into yogurt.

I’ll post the process below, but I highly recommend you check out the posts listed, for they offer some step-by-step pictures as well as a video and tons of other useful information:


Annie’s Eats–great pics to show you the steps

Salad in a Jar–video & several posts about making yogurt

Food in Jars–how to use cooler to make yogurt

Annie’s Eats–fruit mix-in recipes

Homemade Yogurt

Printer-Friendly Version


  • 2 quarts of milk (any type)
  • 2 tsp. plain yogurt


  1. Heat milk in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until temperature reaches 180 degrees F (you can also microwave the milk in a bowl  instead; I’ve used both methods).
  2. Remove pan from heat; set aside and allow to cool, stirring occasionally, until the temperature has dropped to 110-120 degrees F. (This temperature allows the bacterial cultures to transform into yogurt; too hot = death of cultures while too low = improper incubation.)
  3. Transfer milk to a ceramic or glass bowl and stir in 2 teaspoons of plain yogurt, but make sure the yogurt lists live cultures as an ingredient.
  4. Preheat the oven to any temperature, then shut it off after one minute. This serves to warm the oven, eliminating any chill air. Turn the oven light on, and keep it on for the duration of the incubation process; it helps keep the oven air warm. Cover the dish and wrap the covered bowl in a thick towel (I use a bath towel). Close the oven and let the mixture incubate in the oven for 8-12 hours.
  5. Place a fine-mesh sieve over a large bowl; line it with a thick paper towel, coffee filters, or cheesecloth. Spoon the yogurt into the sieve, place the straining set up in the refrigerator, and strain until most of the liquid (the whey) has drained from the yogurt. Either discard the whey or save it for other uses.
  6. Place the yogurt in a storage container, whisk to smooth it out, and store in the refrigerator (you can add a tablespoon of vanilla at this point if you desire). I’ve kept my yogurt refrigerated for up to two weeks, and I’ve also used it as a starter for the next batch of yogurt.

Yield: 3-4 cups

Ice Cream Sunday: Blueberries and Cream Ice Cream

You had to know that with 5 pounds of blueberries, ice cream was going to make an appearance in the recipe list.

This churns out a creamy, dreamy blueberry bliss. Enough said!

Oh, one tidbit: this makes 1 1/2 quarts, a bit more than the usual quart that the ice cream recipes produce. Consider halving the recipe if you don’t want to use as many blueberries as the recipe calls for.

Blueberries and Cream Ice Cream

Printer-Friendly Version


  • 4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 2 3/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract or vodka


  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring blueberries, 2 cups sugar, and lemon juice to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until sugar dissolves and the blueberries soften, about 6-8 minutes. Cool slightly.
  2. Pour blueberry mixture into a blender and purée until smooth. Pour purée through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl, pressing on solids with back of a spoon.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk eggs until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes.
  4. Whisk in 3/4 cup of sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute.
  5. Pour in cream and milk; whisk to blend.
  6. Add blueberry purée; blend. Cover and chill this custard for several hours or overnight.
  7. Before adding custard to ice cream machine, mix it. Add custard to bowl of ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions. Pack the ice cream into a container and freeze for at least 2 hours, until it is firm enough to scoop.

Yield: 1 1/2 quarts

SOURCE: adapted from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen who adapted from and Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book

Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins

Remember those five pounds of blueberries hubby and I brought back from the u-pick farm on our way home from a road trip? Well, on the same day I made the Best Blueberry Muffins, I also made these whole wheat blueberry muffins.

Normally, I wouldn’t consider testing out my precious and pricey blueberries on another recipe when I have the best recipe out there for muffins. But with five whopping pounds, I had plenty to spare and plenty with which to experiment.

The thought of using whole wheat flour to create a healthier muffin appealed to me. These baked up dense and moist and bursting with juicy berries in every bite. Overall, I certainly enjoyed them, but I still swear by the other recipe for the Best Blueberry Muffins ever.

With that said, today I spotted a recipe for blueberry muffins that includes zucchini! And with a big bag full of frozen blueberries in the freezer, I just may have to test out that recipe soon.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins

Printer-Friendly Version


Lemon-Sugar Topping

  • 1/3 cup sugar (2 1/3 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. finely grated zest from one lemon


  • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk


  1. To make the lemon-sugar topping, in a small bowl rub together the zest of one lemon with the sugar; set aside. (I used a simple glaze over the muffins after they cooled–powdered sugar with a bit of milk until I got the consistency I liked).
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line muffin cups with muffin liners or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and blueberries.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vanilla, vegetable oil, and buttermilk. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring just to combine.
  5. Divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups then sprinkle with lemon-sugar topping.
  6. Bake the muffins for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins comes out clean. Cool muffins in baking tins for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool another 5 minutes before serving.

Yield: 12 muffins

SOURCE: Sweet Pea’s Kitchen who adapted from King Arthur Flour