Vanilla bean ice cream and boozy root beer floats

Vanilla bean ice cream
Vanilla bean ice cream
Madagascar vanilla beans

Behold: the final ice cream recipe of summer. This is it, folks! Although I’m sure none of you are complaining considering I’ve shared one too many ice cream recipes this summer – OOPS. So, if you’re sick of the ice cream (which you probably are, especially if you don’t have one of those fancy ice cream making devices) – I’m sorry, but I can’t not post this one. I just can’t. It’s the building block for future quarts of mint chocolate chip or cookie dough or salted caramel ice cream. Did I mention it comes with a boozy bonus and– I had you at boozy bonus, right?
Right.
It’s my belief that root beer floats are under appreciated. Overlooked for things like ice cream cones, milkshakes, or hot fudge sundaes. But I urge you, before the official end of summer, to make one and share it with someone you admire. Someone who inspires you and makes you want to be a better person. Pay attention to them, their face, as you pour the soda over the ice cream and it fizzles it’s way down the sides of the cup. Give them a pretty straw to sop up all that creamy, root beer flavored goodness. Watch them. How something as simple as ice cream and soda (and a pretty straw) will instantly brighten their mood. Sit there. Let the night take you in and get lost in deep, meaningful conversations. Feel sad, happy, hopeful, optimistic. Only good will come from a night spent over root beer floats. I promise.

Boozy root beer float

I’ve made this ice cream with coconut milk and soy cream, but I prefer the soy cream recipe best. If you’re trying to avoid soy, replace it with equal amounts of coconut milk (one can full fat, one can lite). I’ve also made it with both sugar measurements, but I feel like 1/2 cup is just too sweet for me. However, considering apples are too sweet for me lately, you people who consume sugar regularly might want to add the larger amount. And don’t you even think about skimping on the vanilla bean. Get the biggest, fattest one you can buy. If there’s a spice shop near you, I recommend getting one there, as they’re considerably cheaper than vanilla beans sold in grocery stores (not to mention, better quality).

VANILLA BEAN ICE CREAM

3 1/2 cups soy cream
1/3-1/2 cup cane sugar
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Add 1/3 cup of the cream to a small saucepan over medium heat. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, xanthan gum and vanilla bean; whisk into cream and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the remaining 3 cups of cream and stir for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to a glass bowl, cover with plastic and refrigerate until cooled. Once cooled, pour the mixture into the bowl of your ice cream machine and mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Eat ice cream immideately (it will be somewhat soft) or transfer to a container and freeze until ready to consume. Thaw for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Yield: about 1 quart

BOOZY ROOT BEER FLOATS

6 scoops vanilla bean ice cream
Vanilla bean sugar
Root liquor (or any other liquor)
Good quality root beer

Stack three large scoops of ice cream up the side of a 16 ounce cup. Sprinkle with vanilla sugar. Add root liquor (to taste) and root beer. Sip with a pretty straw.

Yield: 2 floats, one for you and your favorite person

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Raw cacao ice cream

Raw cacao ice cream

The days of making raw ice cream with frozen bananas are over. You hear that? O V E R. Because I found a way to make raw ice cream that doesn’t involve it having a weird banana undertone. Unless you like the weird banana undertone – then, by all means, enjoy your banana ice cream. But for those of us who are sick of the freaking bananas, I found a solution. And best part about this ice cream? Only the fact that it doesn’t contain any dairy or refined sugar, but tastes like real ice cream. That alone is reason enough to celebrate.
I had my doubts about this stuff. Especially after the first night of trials had my kitchen floor covered in cashew milk. Yep, all down the stove, seeping into the burners, all over the floor. And me. Off went my pants in the middle of the kitchen. But when I dipped my spoon into the churning ice cream maker (yeah, you probably shouldn’t do that) and had a taste, I completely forgot about my milk soiled pajama pants. It was rich, creamy and flavorful. And considering my Ben & Jerry’s loving boyfriend gave it two thumbs up, I’d venture to say that this stuff rules. It rules so hard, you guys.

Raw cacao ice cream

There’s a lot to say about this ice cream, so follow along. First of all, it’s super versatile. If you prefer a sweeter ice cream, add more dates. Less chocolate? Reduce the cacao! The ice cream base is comprised of the cashews, water and dates – and there are so many flavor possibilities that it makes my head spin. You could ribbon in raw chocolate (cacao + coconut oil), or add cacao nibs and a few handfuls of unsweetened shredded coconut. How about whipping up some raw brownies and adding chunks of that? Completely omit the cacao and cinnamon, and add a vanilla bean for raw vanilla bean ice cream. You could even make a raw version of my blueberry frozen yogurt by adding lemon juice (2 tablespoons) and blueberries. Or any other fruit. AM I BLOWING YOUR MIND OR WHAT?

And don’t think I forgot about you people without fancy mixers or magical ice cream making devices. Because if you don’t have either, you can still make this stuff. Simply blend all of the ingredients together in your blender, then pour the base into ice cube trays and freeze overnight. Once frozen, transfer cubes to a plastic bag for storage, then mix in your blender whenever you get the sudden urge for ice cream (you may need to add a bit of liquid to get things moving). So, kind of like the whole frozen banana ice cream process, minus the whole banana flavor.

*A commenter pointed out the “high” calorie content of this ice cream (about 300/half cup) – so if that bothers you, you can strain out the nut pulp (although I don’t recommend it unless you’re seriously committed to sticking to your calorie counting diet). I, however, welcome high calories and good fat with an open mouth. Isn’t that the point of eating a diet full of mostly plants? So I can eat whatever the hell I want and not feel bad about it?

RAW CACAO ICE CREAM

1 3/4 cups raw cashews
3 1/2 cups filtered water, plus more for soaking
15 medjool dates, pitted
6 tbsp cacao powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (I used Ceylon)

Place the cashews in a small bowl, cover with water and soak for 6 hours, or overnight (if you don’t have a high speed blender, the longer you soak the cashews, the better). Once the cashews have soaked, discard the soaking water and transfer the cashews to the container of a high speed blender, such as a Vitamix. Add the water and blend on high speed for 45-60 seconds. Add the dates, making sure each of them is submerged, then allow to soak for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, blend mixture on high speed for 30 seconds. Add the cacao powder and cinnamon; blend on high speed for at least one minute.  Transfer to the bowl of your ice cream maker and mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer the ice cream to a container and freeze until ready to consume. Thaw for 20 minutes before serving. I like to top mine with cacao powder and a handful of cacao nibs. I highly recommend it.
Yield: about 1 quart

Raw nectarine and cardamom cream tart

Raw nectarine and cardamom cream tart

If I had to pick a favorite stone fruit, nectarines would be it. All summer long, their perfect displays crowded the entrances of grocery stores and begged to be bought by the dozen, each time we walked through the doors. Surprisingly enough, my favorite nectarines didn’t come from the farmer’s market or a little wagon off of County Line Road, but a specialty grocer located just south of downtown. They had them on mega sale for an entire week, and each day I couldn’t resist going in and buying them by the armful. I’d ask the sales clerk to leave the ripest of the bunch unbagged, and I’d wander out the back of the store, stopping to rinse it before I left.
Ask anyone and they’ll tell you the proper way to eat stone fruit is to halve it, pit it, (slice it if you’re fancy) then chow down. But I don’t have time for that. I’d bite through the nectarine’s smooth skin and juice would run down the sides of my mouth, past my wrist and all the way to my elbow. I’d lick it off because you just don’t let something that good go to waste. Often times I’d think about how silly it is that nectarines tend to get overlooked for their peachy counterparts. But if I’m going to be completely honest, I don’t like to fuss with peaches. Sure, they’re delicious – and no, I’m not crazy – but the fuzzy skin is too off putting for me to enjoy them on the fly. (Thom is shaking his head right now.) Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good peach from time to time – but if nectarines are anywhere in sight, I’m going to pass on the peaches.

Raw nectarine and cardamom cream tart
Raw nectarine and cardamom cream tart

How I managed to save enough nectarines for this tart is beyond me. But I did, and that’s all that matters. This recipe was originally supposed to be a nectarine frangipane tart, until I realized how much I do not like nectarines and frangipane, together. So instead I made a raw tart (the frangipane recipe will come later this year), and I have to say it’s one of the tastiest raw desserts I’ve ever made. The cardamom cream pairs perfectly with the juicy nectarines and walnut crust. And did I mention it’s completely acceptable to eat any time of day? I enjoyed it for breakfast every morning until it was gone.

RAW NECTARINE AND CARDAMOM CREAM TART

1  cup raw almonds
1/2 cup raw cashews
1 1/2 cups raw walnuts
12-14 medjool dates, pitted and divided
1/2 cup raw nut milk (or water)
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
Pinch of fine sea salt
2-3 nectarines, halved, pitted and sliced

Place the cashews and almonds in a small bowl; cover with water and let soak for 6 hours, or overnight. While the nuts are soaking, prepare the crust by adding the walnuts to the container of a food processor fitted with the S blade. Blend walnuts into a fine meal then add 8-10 dates and blend just until combined; about 30-45 seconds. Pinch the dough with your fingers – if it sticks together, you’re good to go; if not, add additional dates. Press the dough into an 8-10″ tart pan lined with parchment paper. Cover with plastic and freeze until ready to use.
Once the nuts have soaked, discard the soaking water and add them to the container of a high speed blender, such as a Vitamix. Add the 4 remaining dates, nut milk, vanilla bean, cardamom and sea salt, and blend until smooth; about 45-60 seconds. Transfer the nut cream to a small, air tight container and and refrigerate until ready to use. Will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week. 
To assemble the tart, fill the tart crust with the nut cream and top with nectarines. For the arrangement above, line the nectarine slices around the outer edge of the tart, then work your way in. Tart will keep in the freezer for weeks, but be sure to let it thaw for 20 minutes prior to serving. If you do plan on freezing it, I recommend adding the nectarine slices just before serving.
Yield: 12 slices

Baked tortilla chips

Sprouted corn tortillas
I’ve spent the better part of the past two weeks holding my breath (figuratively, not literally), waiting for a phone call that hasn’t come. People claim that no news is good news, but I’m going to go ahead and say that whoever came up with that saying had no idea what the hell they were talking about. Especially when the news on which you’re waiting has the potential to drastically alter your life. (I really wanted to say “ruin” but my emotions have a tendency to be overly dramatic, as of late. Look at me, being all self-realized and stuff.)

In attempts to avoid going crazy, I’ve been using Google to convince myself that the symptoms are a direct result of vitamin B12 deficiency, and have absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I used to love sniffing gasoline as a kid. But since Google doesn’t have it’s medical license, I’ve been trying to wrap my head around what could be happening within the confines of my circulatory system. Would they really put me through all of these tests if it was as simple as a B12 deficiency? Why didn’t they test for that? Or did they? And why didn’t they warn me about the fact that the hematologist was going to come in and feel up the swollen glands in my armpits and pelvic region? I MEAN SERIOUSLY. That kind of thing needs to come with a warning. Same goes for tiny humans.

Tortilla chips in the making

While we’re on the subject, I think it’s important to inform future hospital goers that harassing the medical laboratory scientists, until they release the results to your doctor, doesn’t make them run your tests any faster. Nor does bribing them with cookies, money or marijuana. Ok, so I never actually bribed them with marijuana. But if they’re stupid enough to pass up HOMEMADE COOKIES, I think it’s safe to say they’d pass on the ganja, too (I say that like I know what I’m talking about, I have no idea). All I’m saying is, don’t waste your time – you’ll just end up looking like a fool. Especially when they realize your parents misspelled Ashley back in 1988. WAIT. Someone purposely spelled your name like this? Yes, my parents are assholes.

Just kidding. Kind of.

So we’re waiting. And hoping and praying and begging the Universe to send some good news our way. Meanwhile, I’m eating my weight in homemade tortilla chips and guacamole. It’s good for the soul, and good for gaining 10 pounds, too.

Tortilla chips

If you’re like us, you’re no stranger to buying those $1 bags of off-brand tortilla chips (at the rate Thom goes through them, it’s all we can afford). But lately, I’ve been a tortilla chip snob and have only allowed the authentic variety in our pantry. Except at $5 a bag, I figured why not make our own? They’re healthier (read: not fried in oil) and fresh. Super duper fresh. And wildly addictive. Yes, that’s a warning.
BAKED TORTILLA CHIPS

12 6″ sprouted corn tortillas
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1 tbsp fine sea salt
Juice of one lime, optional

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. Brush each tortilla (both sides) with the oil, then cut into eight triangles. Line the triangles on the prepared baking sheets; sprinkle with salt and lime juice, if using. Bake at 350˚F for 4 minutes, then rotate baking sheets and bake for an additional 4-5 minutes. Remove from oven and immideately transfer to a plate lined with a couple layers of paper towels (this will absorb any excess oil). Serve with salsa or guacamole, or enjoy them as is.

Yield: 96 chips

Cherry crumb pie

Cherry crumb pie

Cherries have managed to slip past me, unscathed, for the past couple of months. I consciously avoided them in hopes that they’d go away by the time I came around. But alas, they got me. I was shopping for a bag of carrots, and they got me. I couldn’t avoid their perfectly red hue, or the fact that they were on sale for $3/pound. So I bought six pounds, without any idea as to what I was going to do with them. Correction: I bought four pounds, without any idea as to what I was going to do with them. The other two pounds were purchased for the sole purpose of stuffing into my face.
I woke up early Sunday morning and decided to pit the cherries, despite the fact that their fate was still undecided. As I bloodied my fingers with their juice, I thought of all the cherry-filled possibilities; muffins and crumbles and tartlets and pie. I narrowed it down to a crumble or a pie, but my mind was being particularly indecisive that morning. Back and for it went, weighing the options; the positives and negatives. And when I couldn’t take it anymore, I settled on both. Because that seemed like the right thing to do. A cherry pie with crumb topping? Definitely the right thing to do.

Cherry crumb pie

I make no apologies for this pie. It’s chock full of sugar, and that’s fine by me. The pie crust is thick – just the way I like it – and the cherries are sweet and juicy and perfectly accompanied by a crunchy, vanilla bean topping. Chances are, if you make it, this pie will be a pain in your ass. You’re going to get frustrated with it. But trust me, it’s worth the headache; it’s worth the the crumble topping on the floor that clings to the bottom of your bare feet, the cherry juice stains all over your favorite tank top, the seemingly endless pile of dishes in your sink. And just when you think you can’t take it anymore, the timer will sound, you’ll remove the pie from the oven, and.. just like that, you’ll marvel over it’s beauty and breathe a sigh of relief. You’ll probably want to stick a fork straight into the pie to have a little taste, but you shouldn’t do that. I heard it’ll burn your mouth.

CHERRY CRUMB PIE

2 cups unbleached flour
1 tbsp cane sugar
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, liquid
4-6 tbsp filtered water, ice cold
5 cups halved cherries
1 tbsp pure almond extract
1/2 cup cane sugar
4 tbsp tapioca starch
Crumb topping
1/2 cup unbleached flour
1/4 cup almond meal
3/4 cup sucanat (or brown sugar)
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
6 tbsp coconut oil, liquid
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 tbsp vanilla sugar

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Drizzle in the coconut oil and mix with a fork to combine. Add 4 tablespoons of the water and mix with your fingers until a dough starts to form (if needed, add an additional tablespoon or 2, to get the proper consistency). It’s not going to be a perfectly smooth dough, FYI. So don’t spaz out over it’s unsightly crinkles. Pat the dough into a disk then wrap with plastic; refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.
While the dough is resting, prepare the other parts of the pie. Add the cherry halves to a large bowl and toss with almond extract. In a small bowl, whisk together the cane sugar and tapioca starch, then toss with cherries; set aside. Prepare the crumble topping by whisking together the flour, almond meal, sucanat and salt. Using a fork, stir in the coconut oil. Add the rolled oats and toss to combine; set aside.
Preheat oven to 375˚F. Sprinkle an 8-10″ pie pan with flour; set aside. Line a flat surface with parchment paper and sprinkle with flour. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out into a large circle, 1/4-1/3″ thick. Fit the dough into the prepared pie pan, trim the edges, then finish with the detail of your choice. Fill with cherries then spread the crumb topping evenly over the cherries; press firmly to pack. Sprinkle with vanilla sugar. Bake at 375˚F for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cover the edges of the pie crust with foil. Bake for an additional 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before serving. Store in a not-so-air-tight container for up to three days.

Yield: 8 pieces