Winter Blues & Spirited No Churn Ice Cream

IMG_9386Winter Blues. You got em? Let’s chase them away with homemade ice cream. Yup, you heard me! We’re making ice cream in the dead of winter. Seriously, it’s a mood changer because not only is it darn delicious, rich and creamy, but also done in 10 minutes (plus freezing time) and requires NO ice cream machine. I bet you’re smiling now. Remember my posts about cleaning stuff out? You just might want to pitch your old-dust-collecting- taking-up-way too-much-space ice cream machine after trying this recipe.

ice cream

All the flavors of one of my favorite candy bars this ice cream is rich with chocolate condensed milk and coconut creamy from the liqueur. It gets some toasty goodness from more coconut and almonds which you can fold in or just sprinkle on top like I did. Scoop it or slice it, it’s guaranteed to take those winter blues away.

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Almond Joy No-Churn Ice Cream

1 (14 oz) can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk, chocolate flavor

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons coconut cake liqueur

1 teaspoon coconut flavoring

1/8-teaspoon fine sea salt

2 cups heavy cream

¼ cup slivered almonds, toasted, cooled

2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted, cooled

Line a 9-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap leaving a 4-inch over hang on short ends. Pour sweetened condensed milk into a large bowl. (Scrape it all out of that can with a rubber spatula.) Sift cocoa powdered over the top. Add liqueur, flavoring and salt. Using the spatula blend mixture until it is well mixed and smooth. In large mixer bowl, beat cream to just stiff peaks (do not over-mix or you will end up with butter). Stir about a cup of cream into chocolate mixture to lighten it up. Fold in remaining cream until fully incorporated. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle top evenly with almonds and then coconut. Bring up the extended edges of plastic wrap and press gently over the surface. Freeze for 6 hours or as long as overnight. When ready to serve let ice cream stand at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes to make scooping easier or remove from loaf pan, peel away plastic and cut into slices. Garnish as desired. Store leftovers tightly wrapped in plastic and an air-tight container.

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Love, Mom

Will’s Art & Super Bowl Recipe

IMG_7286William was a wonderfully creative boy, but it isn’t anything he would have ever admitted to nor would he approve of me writing about it. Being “artistic” was definitely a word he associated more with his sister than himself and unless forced he would have never signed up for an art class.

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A rare photo of William doing something artsy with best buddy Brian at cub scout camp

Luckily, (for me) he was required to take at least 2 art classes in high school. As a freshman football player he chose “dance for athletes” and ceramics.

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a boy dancing around a camp fire

His ceramic pieces are so precious and give great insight into who he was. I am grateful to his teacher who allowed such expression in these beautiful tiles. Hunting, camp fires, the woods….he lived these scenes.

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On the hunt

Morning, noon and night. Winter, spring, summer and fall. The boy was creative and artistic and I suppose always longing to be in the woods rather than in school.

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In his sights

Wish I had understood that better back then and I wish I wasn’t telling this story now.

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Another successful day in the woods

Is this football season? I don’t follow sports, but it seems to me that after New Year’s Eve and the Rose Bowl parade that most folks set their sights on the Super Bowl or at least recipes for the big game day party. So, here is an easy, yet, creative ( if you Will) recipe for a salty-sweet treat that any boy or sports enthusiast will love. A one bite treat that won’t break the calorie bank either. IMG_7334

Chocolate Covered Salted Caramel & Peanut Butter Pretzel Balls

  • Servings: 2 to 3 dozen
  • Print

½ cup crushed salted pretzels

¼ cup powdered sugar

¼ cup salted caramel peanut butter spread

1-tablespoon soft butter

½ cup chocolate melts (Ghirardelli brand recommended)

½ tablespoon coconut oil

fleur de sel

Mix pretzels, powdered sugar, peanut butter spread and butter; chill . Shape into 1-inch round balls or footballs. In small bowl, in microwave, melt chocolate and coconut oil, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. Dip balls to coat and place on wax paper to set. Sprinkle immediately with salt. Decorate with fondant laces, if making footballs.

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Doreen’s View of Will’s Bench

Christmas Cookie Tray

Christmas Cookie Tray

Every so often I enjoy posting seasonal photos of Will’s Memorial Bench at Lake Elise in Middlebury, CT. Most photos I take myself, but on occasion I share gifted photos from friends who enjoy spending time at the bench with Will. Typically, the photos feature the beautiful scenery of the lake or some flowers left behind, a dog frolicking in the water or even an American flag flapping in the breeze.

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However, a couple of weeks ago I received a photo of a different view, one I would have never imagined. Haley, one of William’s oldest and dearest friends visits the bench often. On this particular day she instant messaged me from there:

“Hi Lisa, I went to visit William today. I found a note left on his bench for you and I want to make sure it got to you. Love you!”

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Yup, it made me cry. Does anyone know Doreen? She’s Joe’s mom. I wish I could hold her hand. I wish I could sit on the bench with her and learn more about her son. It’s what us moms want. To talk about our sons. To share their story…our story.

Christmas 2009

Christmas 2009. I still decorate with those Santa’s he gave me.

I want to tell Doreen that this time of year is extra hard. I want to tell her she is not alone and that she will get through it and that although we are two strangers we have so much in common. There are lots of moms like us, but I think she knows that. Isn’t it bittersweet how we try to take care of one another? We are mothers that share an unspeakable heartache. We “live with the pain” and in all of Doreen’s she still has the energy to reach out and offer comfort in a letter. To someone she doesn’t even know, yet, she knows me better than anyone.

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Doreen’s Heart

Thank you, Doreen for writing. I am happy you found  peace and beauty in your visit to Will’s Bench. I wish that each day brings you more joy in the memories of your son.

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So how did I get through the holidays? Cookies. Lots of cookies. All from scratch and never frozen. Some get cookies early in December (hello, my favorite UPS guy) and some get them later. Always fresh and sometimes still warm. What a joy. Bake-Share-Repeat—it works for me. What works for you?

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Blackberry Herbed Rugelah

Now I know you don’t need another cookie recipe, so today I am sharing one of my other favorite nibbles. These nuts are addictive and going into the new year just might be considered healthy. Try them with a glass of your favorite holiday bubbly. I’ll take a flute of Enza Prosecco please.

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Inspired & Spirited Spiced Pecans

3 cups pecan halves

1 egg white

1 tablespoon whiskey (Jack Daniel’s of course) or bourbon

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of cayenne pepper

few grates fresh nutmeg or 1/8 teaspoon jarred stuff

fleur de sel

Place pecans in a zippered plastic bag. In small bowl, lightly beat egg white and whiskey; add to pecans. Coat pecans with egg white mixture. Mix sugar, cinnamon cayenne and nutmeg; add to bag and shake to coat pecans well. Spread pecans in a single layer over parchment lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle evenly with fleur de sel making sure each pecan gets some. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring, every 10 minutes, so nuts bake evenly and don’t stick to each other. Cool. Store in airtight container.