Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Remodel

When we purchased our house in Flagstaff, I did an extensive remodel.  I have received a few requests to show what I did on this blog.  So, I guess I'll include some before and after photos here.  I designed and drew the plans to submit to the county for permits and did all the framing, trim, and finish work.  I did, however, hire the electrician, the plumber to do the rough plumbing, and the drywallers, because I HATE hanging drywall.  Anyway, here is it.  Enjoy!

Plans of Preexisting House

Plans for Remodel

Former Master Bedroom and Former Family Room Before

Master Suite after Remodel

Main Bath Before

Main Bath After Remodel

I also installed wood flooring in the kitchen, dining room, and front entry.  Here are the before and after pictures:

Entry, Kitchen, and Dining Room Before

Entry, Kitchen, and Dining Room After

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Breakthrough!

With this seemingly endless state of limbo (we have not been able to sell our house yet--it's been almost a year--and we've have been living in my in-law's home until we can sell and purchase a home of our own), I have not been very productive, at least not in a creative sense.  I have, of course, been doing the everyday necessities required to raise a family, but don't have my "stuff" to use to do creative things.  But . . . last night . . . a breakthrough.  I creating something wonderful!

Well, for Christmas, my brother-in-law and his family got us an awesome soft-serve ice cream maker that doesn't need ice or rock salt, thus cutting down on the mess and frustration with at-home ice cream making.  So, being the ice cream lover that I am, I've been taking advantage of this new toy and experimenting with ice cream recipes.  But, I've been disappointed with most of the recipes I've found either because they just don't taste that great, they are too difficult or time-consuming to make, or they freeze too hard after being stored in the freezer.  So, I set out on a mission--to discover or develop an awesome ice-cream recipe that is easy to make, doesn't require any eggs, and has a good ice cream texture, even after being stored in the freezer.  Pretty much all of the really good ice cream recipes seem to require eggs, which means either eating raw eggs, or cooking them first (which is pretty labor intensive as you have to be careful to avoid scrambling the eggs--kind of like making a custard).

So, after lots of batches of ice cream, and still being left wanting, it occurred to me that I recently tweeked a Tres Leches cake recipe to one that I absolutely love.  I also found a tres leches hot chocolate recipe that is to die for in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine this year (I will include the recipe below).  So, I thought, maybe there's a tres leches ice-cream recipe out there.  But, after much research, I couldn't find any online.  So, I decided to devlope my own.  This was a daunting undertaking, as I knew that proprtions would effect the texture of the ice cream and, although I like to consider myself an expert ice-cream taster, I am by no means an expert ice-cream maker.  So, after studying several ice-cream recipes and their proportions, and a few failed attempts, the break through happened!  I think I've done it!  I've made an awesome, easy ice-cream, without using eggs, which holds it sumptuous, creamy texture, even after spending the night in the freezer.  I am calling it "Tres Leches Ice Cream" when I include the vanilla and serve it after a Mexican dish and "Creamy Coconut Ice Cream" when I leave out the vanilla and serve it after an Asian meal.  I've been enjoying it with diced mangoes on top, but I'm sure it would be delicious with strawberries on top as well.  Here's my recipe (followed by the tres leches hot chocolate recipe I referred to earlier) so you all can enjoy it too.  Try it out and let me know what you think:

Recipe:  Tres Leches Ice Cream
Recipe developed by:  Jennifer Norton
Yield:  1 to 1.5 quarts

                1 can sweetened condensed milk
                1 can coconut milk
                1 cup heavy whipping cream
                1 tsp. vanilla (optional--I've made it both ways and both are delicious)
                Topping/Mix-in:  2 to 3 cups diced mango, or other fruit of your choice (if fruit is not sweet enough, cover with a spoonful of fructose and let sit)
               Do NOT shake the can of coconut milk.  Carefully open the can of coconut milk and skim the cream off the top (should come out to a little more than 1 cup (about 1 1/3 cup).  Save the remaining coconut milk/water for any other recipe you may have that you could use it in, or just enjoy a nice swig of coconut milk.  Mix the skimmed coconut cream with 1 cup heavy whipping cream, 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, and 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional).  Freeze in an ice cream maker for soft serve texture (if you prepare it ahead of time, you can chill it in the refrigerator to facilitate faster freezing when the time comes to freeze it).  For a more standard ice cream texture, place in your freezer after making in the ice cream maker.  Top with or mix in mango or other fruit of your choice.  Serve.  Enjoy!
Note:  This ice cream holds a nice ice cream consistency, even after being stored in freezer.

Recipe:  Tres Leches Hot Chocolate
From or derived from the Recipe of:  Aubrey Shaner, Better  Homes & Gardens Contest Winner
Yield:  5 cups
Start:  5-10min. ahead                                Time in the Kitchen:  5-10min.
                3 cups fat-free milk
                1 – 14oz. can coconut milk
                ½ - 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk (2/3 c.)
                2 tblsp. Unsweetened cocoa powder
                ½ tsp. vanilla
In a medium saucepan, combine fat-free milk, coconut milk, and sweetened condensed milk.  Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.  Wisk in cocoa powder until well combined.  Remove from heat, stir in vanilla.  Serve and enjoy!