Neapolitan Nice Cream Sandwiches

18 Aug

I received free samples of Breton Crackers mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Breton Crackers and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

I’ve become somewhat of a weather-app-checking freak every time I set out to train for a race. Will the weather be good enough for my long runs? Will I get caught in the rain? Do I need to wait or go sooner to avoid high temps or bad storms? My weather app is probably the most-used app on my phone as a result!

Neapolitan Nice Cream Sandwiches | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Which is why, when planning this weekend’s running, I was disheartened to see 90 degree highs for Saturday through Tuesday. Wisconsin seriously has something against spring time, because I swear we jumped from winter to summer overnight. It’s ridiculous.

I don’t like running super early in the morning, but it looks like it’s either that or I suffer through the heat! Luckily, as I think about the half marathon that is just two weeks away, I know that it’s an early start time, so in most cases, we should be fine.

Speaking of hot weekends, it’s just about time to start whipping up allllll the nice cream for easy scooping to beat the heat. If you haven’t jumped on board the nice cream train, let me give you the low-down.

Rather than sugar- and fat-filled ice cream or frozen custard or froyo, nice cream is simply made by pureeing frozen bananas with a splash of milk and flavoring agents of your choice. In the mood for a protein boost? Chocolate protein powder tastes great as an addition. Want something fruity? Throw in a handful of berries. Going for a classic ice cream flavor? Toss in the toppings of your choice and drizzle with homemade date caramel or magic shell (melt coconut oil with cocoa powder, stir, and cover your nice cream- the oil will solidify on contact with the cold nice cream!). It’s a wonderful dessert that you will always feel good about.

Neapolitan Nice Cream Sandwiches | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

So when I was eating some of these Breton Artisanal Sweet Potato and Ancient Grains crackers on their own, I was totally inspired! Why not use these as the “sandwich” part to a nice cream sandwich? These crackers are pretty magical. They’re made of ancient grains, like rye and quinoa, have sweet potato baked right in, and are still somehow light and flaky. Sure, plain vanilla nice cream could suffice, but I wanted to kick up the flavor party with the addition of strawberry and chocolate layers. The resulting Neapolitan Nice Cream Sandwiches are a hearty, healthy dessert that perfectly join together the slightly salty, crispy crackers with a guilt-free filling. A wonderfully satisfying snack or appetizer on a hot day!

I’m super excited about these. Make them now – you’ll thank me when it’s 90 degrees in your neighborhood!

Neapolitan Nice Cream Sandwiches | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Neapolitan Nice Cream Sandwiches

Makes 15 sandwiches

Line a 9×13″ baking dish with plastic wrap. Lay half of the crackers bottom side up on the sheet, making sure they touch each other but do not overlap.

Neapolitan Nice Cream Sandwiches | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

In a food processor, puree all the bananas with the nondairy milk and vanilla. Remove 1/3 of the banana mixture from the food processor bowl and spread this on top of the layer of crackers, being careful not to break the crackers. Place in the freezer to firm up.

From the remaining banana mixture, remove half to another bowl; set aside (this would be another 1/3 of the original mixture). Into the food processor, add the quartered strawberries and puree again until completely smooth. Spread this on top of the frozen vanilla layer. Place in the freezer again.

Wipe out your food processor bowl and blade with a clean cloth and then place the final 1/3 of the banana mixture back in, along with the sea salt and cocoa powder. Puree together until incorporated. Spread this mixture onto the vanilla and strawberry layers. Place the other half of the crackers on top, following the same pattern you did for the bottom layer. Make sure these crackers face up.

Freeze the nice cream sandwiches for at least an hour, or until firm.

Remove the pan from the freezer, and let sit out a few minutes to allow the nice cream to soften a bit. Use a sharp knife to cut out the sandwiches from the layer of nice cream, again being careful not to break the crackers.

Neapolitan Nice Cream Sandwiches | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Transfer sandwiches to a plate and place them back in the freezer to harden again.

Serve cold and enjoy! Leftovers can be transferred to a freezer-safe container and eaten one at a time.

Neapolitan Nice Cream Sandwiches | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

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Harry Potter Weekend – Treacle Tart, Cauldron Cakes, Chocolate Frogs, Pumpkin Juice, and more!

20 Jul
Harry Potter Weekend | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

We’re going back to Hogwarts!

The Harry Potter series turned 20 years old this past spring! 20 years of magic, friends, Hogwarts, spells, and defeating the Dark Lord. Harry Potter holds a special place in my heart for many reasons – it’s by far my favorite book series, has some fantastic movies, characters we can all relate to, and is the reason Chris and I first met!

Annually, my friends and I host a Harry Potter weekend in celebration of this spellbinding series. We spend the weekend at my friend’s parents’ lake house up north, carry wands on our person at all times, cast spells, watch the movies, geek out over trivia, create and enjoy a variety of activities, and of course eat and drink a ton of themed treats!

We divide ourselves among two houses (Gryffindor and Slytherin), and each activity, food/drink made, or witty remark slung earns house points toward the House Cup, to be awarded at the end of the weekend. This year, like every year, Slytherin won in a landslide.

I wanted to share the fun with all of you, so enjoy the following photo collages and recipes! Particularly the homemade treacle tart, which is Harry Potter’s favorite ever dessert. I made a dairy-free version, so be sure to scroll all the way down!

This year’s activities included insanely hard trivia, a Triwizard Tournament, Escape from Azkaban, Tea Leave Reading, a Murder Mystery Party, and the Great Feast. Thanks to everyone who made this weekend a smashing success once again!

Harry Potter Weekend | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Tea leave reading, the second part of the Triwizard Tournament, and a potion!

Harry Potter Weekend | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

We go all-out on decor. Pictured here are the Potions class, Wizarding World publications, personalized Hogwarts Acceptance Letters, and enchanted keys.

Harry Potter Weekend | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

The Triwizard Cup, House Point Cups, Hogwarts House Cup, a few potions, Proclamational Decrees, and Wanted posters

Harry Potter Weekend | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Common room decorations

Harry Potter Weekend | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Cauldron cakes, pumpkin juice, Queenie’s Apple Strudel

Harry Potter Weekend - Treacle Tart | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Harry’s favorite dessert!

Pumpkin Juice

Harry Potter Weekend - Pumpkin Juice | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

I doubled this recipe, chilled it, and then mixed it with a shot of local pumpkin spirit for a boozy, spiced cocktail!

Bloody Barons

To represent the Slytherin house ghost, we made Bloody Barons in the morning! These were simply Bloody Mary’s 🙂

Sybill Trelawny’s Sangria

Harry Potter Weekend - Sangria | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Serves 12

  • 1.75 L white wine
  • 2 C strawberries, quartered
  • 6 peaches, sliced
  • 1-1/2 C spiced rum
  • 5 apples, sliced
  • 1/2 C triple sec
  • Ice, to serve

Mix all ingredients together in a large glass jug and refrigerate two hours to let the fruit steep in the liquid. Serve chilled, over ice.

Queenies Apple Strudel

Harry Potter Weekend - Queenie's Apple Strudel | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

From Fantastic Beasts, I doubled this recipe to make two strudels, but the filling was too much for two puff pastry sheets. I’d recommend using one less sliced apple per strudel. It sure was delicious, though!

Cauldron Cakes

Harry Potter Weekend - Cauldron Cakes | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Makes 12 Cupcakes

Bake this chocolate cupcake recipe.

Cool completely, and then use a piping tip, sharp knife or a cupcake corer to make a hole in the center of each cupcake – remove that small bit of cake and eat as a snack (or toss). Gently peel the cupcake papers off. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet so you can coat them as follows.

For the cauldron coating:

  • 4 oz Milk or dark melting chocolate
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

Chop and melt the chocolate in the microwave. Stir in the coconut oil and keep stirring until everything is smooth and creamy. Dip the bottom of each prepared cupcake into the melty chocolate and swirl to coat. Set the cupcake back onto the parchment-lined baking sheet and repeat with remaining cupcakes. Place in the fridge or freezer to harden the chocolate coating.

For the cauldron filling, I used the icing recipe from Nest and Glow:

  • 3/4 C raw cashews, soaked in water for an hour
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • splash of water for blending
  • Red and orange sanding sugar

Drain the cashews and discard that water. Blend together the cashews, syrup, vanilla, oil and a splash of fresh water until completely smooth. Scrape down the sides of your blender with a spatula to ensure everything is incorporated.

Transfer the icing to a piping bag, or just use a small spoon to fill each cupcake center with icing. Sprinkle with red and orange sanding sugar to mimic a potion being brewed.

Refrigerate until ready to eat, or the chocolate coating will melt!

Chocolate Frogs

Harry Potter Weekend - Chocolate Frogs | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Plain chocolate frogs are too boring for my taste. So instead, I created a variety of flavorful frogs for everyone to enjoy.

To make these frogs, chop and melt a block of milk chocolate. Do this in small amounts, to maximize how many flavors you can create. Then, either mix flavoring agents and added ingredients into the melted chocolate, or sprinkle into the bottom of the mold so they are visible in the finished product. Here are the flavors I developed:

  • Creamy mint (stir in peppermint extract)
  • Crunchy peanut (stir in chopped peanuts)
  • Almond (stir in almond extract and chopped almonds)
  • Balsamic (stir in Balsamic glaze)
  • Sea salt (stir in sea salt and sprinkle more into the bottom of the molds)
  • Toasted coconut (sprinkle toasted coconut flakes into the bottom of the molds)
  • Juicy orange (a dash of orange extract mixed into the chocolate, and place a peeled mandarin segment in the middle of each mold)
  • Pumpkin spice (homemade pumpkin spice seasoning mixed into the chocolate, and raw pepitas sprinkled in the bottom of the molds)

Harry Potter’s Treacle Tart

Harry Potter Weekend - Treacle Tart | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Makes one 9″ tart

Pie Crust:

  • 1 C all-purpose white flour
  • 1 tsp powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 6 tbsp coconut oil, chilled
  • 2-3 tbsp cold water

Filling:

  • 1/2 C + 2 tbsp Lyle’s golden syrup (or a combination of corn syrup and molasses)
  • 1/4 C black treacle or dark molasses
  • 2 tbsp dark rum
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 1 C ground oat flour
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 a whole nutmeg, grated
  • 2/3 C almond meal

Combine flour, sugar, salt, and oil in the bowl of your food processor and pulse until fine crumbs form. Add the cold water and pulse until the mixture comes together. Flour a clean work surface and shape the pastry into a large, flat disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375.

Roll out the chilled dough into a 12-inch circle. Transfer to your 9-inch pie plate or tart pan. Fold over or cut off the excess – you can use this to decorate the top of the tart later.

Line the crust with parchment paper or a coffee filter. Pour in pie weights or dried beans and freeze 5-10 minutes. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes before adding the filling.

Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring, and cook until the mixture thins out a bit. Pour the filling into the cooled crust. Use leftover crust to decorate the top.

Bake the tart at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Serve warm, or let cool completely, wrap in plastic wrap, and freeze up to one month. Then, let thaw for one hour at room temperature. Unwrap and warm the tart in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Vegan Pesto Butter

18 Jul

Disclosure: I received products from Sweese in exchange for a review. Opinions are 100% my own.

I have a confession. In early March, I stopped eating dairy entirely. I determined that something was causing distress in my stomach and through some minor experimentation, deduced that dairy was to blame. My love affair with Wisconsin cheeses, Greek yogurt, salted Amish butter, and cream cheese had to come to an end. No more whipped cream, no more cheese platters, no more cheesy pizza!

Vegan Pesto Butter | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

At first, it was nearly impossible. Cheese and all manner of dairy products had been engrained in my life since the beginning. I’m a Wisconsinite, so naturally, dairy is one of the biggest food groups here, following beer and preceded by bratwurst (of which I now only eat the meatless varieties). Buttered toast, yogurt parfaits, and creamy frostings quickly became a thing of the past. I had to learn how to navigate ingredient lists to ensure no dairy resided in the products I was used to buying. And more importantly, I had to learn how to be around others who still enjoy all the dairy goodness that my state has to offer (looking at you, boyfriend).

Yes, at first, it was hard. It took about two months for my incessant cravings to subside. I played around with dairy-free alternatives to cream cheese (YUM), block cheeses (gross), shredded cheese (passable), and coffee creamer (took a while to find one I like). I have been using Westsoy Soy Milk for a few years now, so at least that wasn’t difficult. And I know how to substitute coconut products for dairy rather well (thanks to canned coconut milk and coconut oil!!).

Vegan Pesto Butter | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

But the one thing that never left my cravings: buttered toast. It’s simple, comforting, quick, and cheap. Carbs + fat = super satisfying for a pre-run breakfast or even a snack. Sprinkle on some cinnamon, and you’ve got a sweet tooth fix. However, the dairy-free butter alternatives are LOADED with gross chemicals and coloring agents and who knows what else. Yes, I bought a small container of the stuff, and yes, I used it all up, but I swore that once it was gone, I’d develop a homemade alternative that I could feel good about eating, and that would TASTE good.

And, serendipitously, I was contacted by Sweese around the same time. This company makes home and kitchen essentials that are functional AND stylish. Designs are simple and sleek, and pair form with function. Sweese kindly sent me a butter keeper and mortar & pestle set for testing, review, and GIVEAWAY.

Vegan Pesto Butter | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

So, of course, I developed a recipe to put them both to use! Adorably, the porcelain butter keeper’s cork lid states “Alles in Butter,” which translates from German to mean “everything is ok” or “smooth sailing.” With my German heritage, this greatly appealed to me! The porcelain mortar is beautiful in its pristine whiteness, and the wooden pestle fits perfectly in my hand.

What better way to put both of these items to the test than to make VEGAN pesto butter?! Yes, non-dairy butter that’s blended with a vegan version of pesto! I cannot tell you how ABSOLUTELY SCRUMPTIOUS this is. It’s salty, savory, creamy, and fatty. Everything you want in a spread to make your toast extra delicious.

Vegan Pesto Butter | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

It’s also crazy-easy. The vegan butter is made up of three ingredients, which I know you have on-hand already. And the pesto simply requires a bit of elbow grease and some fresh ingredients. In no time, you can have a healthy, dairy-free, melt-in-your-mouth spread that’ll keep well in this porcelain butter keeper (or really, any airtight container).

If you want YOUR OWN butter keeper, be sure to enter the giveaway! Just a few steps and you can be in the running to win. But don’t wait to make this recipe – your toast, bagels, and all manner of foods need this vegan pesto butter!

Vegan Pesto Butter | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

This giveaway is open to everyone in the US, ages 18 and up. Giveaway closes at midnight on July 25, 2017. Complete all three steps to be entered to win:

  1. Comment on this blog post telling me what you’d like to keep in this porcelain dish.
  2. Pin this post and follow me on Pinterest.
  3. Tweet this post and follow me on Twitter.


Vegan Butter,
from Bare Root Girl

Makes about 1 cup of vegan butter

  • 1/2 C unrefined coconut oil
  • 1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Measure ingredients into a glass measuring cup and heat in the microwave until the coconut oil has melted completely. Stir to combine. Pour into the bowl of your stand mixer, and refrigerate for about an hour. You want it to turn opaque, instead of looking transparent.

Once this has set in the fridge, use the balloon whisk on your stand mixer. Turn it on low speed and whisk for 30 seconds. Then turn it up to high speed and mix for 1-2 minutes, or until the mixture doubles in volume.

Vegan Pesto Butter | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Vegan Pesto, recipe adapted from Food52 and method from Italyum

Makes about 1/2 C pesto

  • 1/2 C tightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tbsp walnut halves or another nut of choice (pine nuts and almonds both work)
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt, to taste
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast (I like Kal brand)
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Layer the basil, nuts, garlic, and salt in the mortar. Use the pestle to press and grind the ingredients together until a paste begins to form. This will take some elbow grease! Be sure to thoroughly grind down the nuts and garlic – you won’t want large chunks of these in the final product.

Vegan Pesto Butter | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

Add the lemon juice and nutritional yeast and continue using the pestle to grind the mixture completely. Pour in the olive oil and use a spoon to stir and combine well. Taste the pesto (on bread or a pita is the best way) to make sure the ingredients are balanced to your liking. Adjust as necessary.

Vegan Pesto Butter

Stir the pesto into the whipped vegan butter until completely incorporated. Transfer to your favorite butter dish or any container that has an airtight lid. Cover and refrigerate at least four hours. Keep the vegan pesto butter stored in the refrigerator and enjoy!

This butter tastes great simply slathered on bread or a pita, used on sandwiches, or mixed into pasta for a twist on “butter noodles.” Use it on savory pancakes or even roast potatoes with it! The possibilities are endless.

Vegan Pesto Butter | xtinaluvspink.wordpress.com

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