Mexican Hot Chocolate Ice Cream

Today’s high is predicted to match a record high temp of 87 degrees.

I no longer have any concept of winter.

There were a few weeks when we had cold temps in the 40’s and 50’s but it wasn’t too bad. And there were just a few days when temps just dipped below freezing. Unfortunately it wrecked some of our plants but overall our plants fared pretty well when some neighbors lost everything.

Besides that cold spell, things have been comfortable and enjoy able.

Recently, temps have gotten high enough again where we can use the splash pad without feeling too cold as the water dries off of us.

Today we are going to the pool. Woohoo!!!!!!!!

I no longer have a real concept of winter. I keep seeing people post pictures of snow, fires, talking about eating cozy foods like stew and soup so they can enjoy a warm, comforting meal after shoveling and I’m like “WHAT?!?! My windows are open now and I’m tempted to close them to put on the AC!”

So, this recipe is perfect for my cold weathered friends as it’s a hot chocolate base, but perfectly refreshing for us who are spending our days by the pool.

 

I love hot chocolate!

It’s indulgent and comforting. It feels like luxury in a mug.

I don’t do simple packets of hot chocolate mix, I make hot chocolate from scratch or I doctor up my favorite hot chocolate to make them extra sinful.

My favorite hot chocolate is the Mexican Hot Chocolate that you make with tablets. Sorta spicy, sorta smokey and extra delicious.

This ice cream is smooth, creamy, and really chocolaty with the nicest hint of spice and heat to it as you start making it with the hot chocolate tablets. You’ll never just want a regular bowl of chocolate ice cream again after this ice cream.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Ice Cream

Makes approximately 2 quarts

Ingredients

  • 2 Mexican Hot Chocolate Tablets, Abuelita Brand
  • 1 Cup Whole Milk
  • 1/2 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 Cups heavy cream
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 Cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Process

  1. In a medium sized saucepan, melt the hot chocolate tablets in the milk. Whisk until completely melted. Add the cocoa powder. Cook over medium heat until the cocoa powder is evenly mixed in. Add the heavy cream. Bring the mixture just to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat.
  2. In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy in texture.
  3. Temper the cream mixture into the eggs and sugar by gradually adding 1/4 Cup amounts, until about 1/3 of the cream mixture has been added. Pour in the remainder of the mixture to the bowl. Mix well and then return the entire mixture to the saucepan and place over low heat.
  4. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, reaching 170 to 175 degrees F.
  5. Strain the mixture in a fine mesh sieve into a container and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  6. Stir in the vanilla extract and pinch of salt.
  7. Place the uncovered mixture into the refrigerator. Once it is cool enough not to form condensation on a lid/plastic wrap, cover and store for 4 to 8 hours or until the temperature reaches 40 degrees F or below.
  8. Pour the chilled mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s directions. This should take approximately 25 to 35 minutes.
  9. Remove the ice cream to a storage container. Freeze for another 3 to 4 hours to allow the ice cream to harden.
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Our 2018 Brilliance of the Seas Cruise- Day 1: Embark

Woohoo!!! Cruise Day!!!!

The day is finally here!!! We’ve been looking forward to going on our Royal Caribbean cruise since we booked it in October. We were counting down the days!

We were so ready for the day to come.

Except we forgot to buy our wine (2 750ml bottles per cabin) that we can bring on the ship, so I had my dad stop on the way over to get us wine. (And then I also made them go to the post office for me while I was gone since I am on top of things- not!)

We dropped the dogs off for boarding at Tampa Bay K9 Solutions on our way to the port. It was tough leaving them for the week, but we knew they were in good hands.

The check in process was fairly quick and painless with fast moving lines and friendly port agents. Hunter even fell asleep on my in the carrier. It made for a funny ID photo of half his face and most of my boobs. At least it gave everyone a laugh every time we had to scan his ID.

Made it through check in and before we knew it, we were on our way to board the ship!

 

As rooms are not ready until 1pm, we went directly to the Windjammer for lunch with our stuff.

It was difficult to find an available table but 2 really nice women let us crash their table and then we were ready to dig in.

After lunch we went to our stateroom (#8500) to get settled.

With it being flu season, and there being recent Niro-Virus outbreaks on cruises, we brought cleaning supplies on the cruise and gave everything a good wipe down. Impressively, every wipe was still white after using it. I wish my house was that clean.

Besides that, we unpacked our bags and put all our stuff away.

Don’t we all attend our Muster Station Drills in the theater in our bathing suits and sunglasses?

You certainly can’t tell a determined 4 year old who is in V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N that she can’t go in the pool, even if it is cold.

Tampa was pretty chilly (upper 60’s) that day, so Autumn got a big cheer from the people around the pool when she jumped.

Cheers!!!

Price’s favorite cruise drink is a Miami Vice (half pina coloda, half strawberry daiquiri) so that was his first drink on the cruise, while I enjoyed a Pina Colada. The best way of kicking off vacation!

Autumn didn’t last long in the pool, but that didn’t seem to bother her as she was then able to enjoy a Virgin Pina Colada.

 

And then we were on our way!

Our stateroom was located right at the bow so we had the most amazing view of our journey from port to port.

Unfortunately, I had forgotten that you could reserve your time for dinner online so I never did that for our “My Time Dining” dinners, which apparently a lot of people did not. We got to the Mistral Dining Room (MDR) right when it opened, but it was packed, and there was no availability until 7.45. So we snagged that time for the rest of the cruise and made our way to the Windjammer for our dinner.

While it was a bummer to not get dinner in the MDR, it was still great to not have to do dishes and enjoy a good meal with my family.

The exciting first day of our cruise really wore Autumn out and before we knew it bedtime was upon on us!

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Valentine’s Day Candy Bark

Have you been watching the Winter Olympics?

I’m so hooked.

I honestly skipped watching the opening ceremony since I was so exhausted, that I crashed and went to bed. Seriously, I was in bed before 9pm on a Friday. So lame, but I was so tired!

Plus, I was kinda tipsy from a super strong mojito that I whipped up after a long week. I just had to make it! I had to make up for the fact that the one I was enjoying while we were in Key West 2 weeks ago was kicked over by my little miss Autumn. Kids really do make you drink!

Anyway, I have been watching the Winter Olympics when ever possible since then. They are so awesome. The half pipe runs, the luge, the group figure skating. OMG! It’s all so perfect.

Also, perfect, is this candy bark!

You know you wanna make a batch for your special someone for Valentine’s Day. It’s also great for sharing. Or eating in your PJ’s while you watch fit, trim athletes hurl themselves down an icy hill in freezing temps. Yeah…

 

My 2 tips for making awesome bark…

Do not make the base chocolate layer too thin. Keep it pretty thick, at least 1/4″. It does a better job of holding it’s shape and not getting bendy. It’s weird if you make it too thin. Learn from my mistakes!

And, if you share this with others, be sure to let them know of any potential allergens. I am really cautious about that, and so should you!

Other than that, super simple.

Valentine's Day Candy Bark_03

I dare ya that you can’t just have 1 piece of this candy bark. It’s so addicting.

Valentine's Day Candy Bark_04

Valentine’s Day Candy Bark

Makes 10 servings

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
  • 10 ounces candy bars/pieces
  • sprinkles
  • 3 oz of white chocolate, use a high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina)
 Process
  1. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper
  2. Chop all candy pieces into irregular pieces, this is easiest with a serrated knife.
  3. Using a double boiler, melt the chocolate over low heat. Once the chocolate starts to melt, continuously stir until just melted through.
  4. Pour the chocolate onto lined pan. Spread the chocolate evenly with a 1/4-inch thickness (about 12×10-inch rectangle). Sprinkle with the chopped candy pieces and sprinkles.
  5. Melt the white chocolate and drizzle over bark creating zig zag lines.
  6. Chill bark until firm, about 30 minutes. Remove foil from pan, peel off foil, and break/cut bark into irregular pieces.

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Dear Hunter @ 8 months

Dear Hunter 8 months
Dear Hunter,

This past month has really been wonderful with you.

So far transitioning to be a stay at home mom with you has really easy and enjoyable. Spending days with you, and your sister, is so fun. There are tough times when I want to hide in the pantry to take a break from the noise, but it’s so great.

We just need to have Autumn listen to us the first time that she can’t keep siting behind you. We understand she is trying to be helpful, but from siting behind you so she can catch you if you fall, quickly turns into her holding you, which makes you yell and squirm and then there is the constant “AUTUMN!” It’s hard to scold it when she means well, but things would be so much easier if she just listened. At least she means well.

Your appetite is constantly growing. It’s awesome to give you something like quinoa, steak, broccoli, blueberries, yogurt, melon, and so much more

I swear you are looking older and older every day with your hair growing in and your features becoming more and more defined. It’s amazing to see. I see so much of your daddy when I look at you and old pictures of him. You even have that pout down.

I can’t imagine our house ever being quite again since you can be so loud when you are happily babbling. Angry or tired babbling is just as loud, but the happy, silly, giggly babbles are much more fun.

You have mastered standing while holding on to something like a pro. From there you sometimes give us a wave. But you are really good at waving when we are holding you and you then are prompted to wave at someone.

You went on your first cruise this past month! You were so fantastic on board. I can’t wait to take you on more and more as you grow. Our first family vacation went so well.

I love you so much.

Love,

Mommy

Valentine’s Day Cake Pops

Valentine’s Day is just 1 week away!!

Are you celebrating with someone you love?

Or are you single and ready to mingle?

Or do you fall in between like me and my husband… certainly not single but not really doing anything? Hello… it’s a Wednesday night and we have 2 kids. Too much to juggle.

But, no juggling required when it comes to these cake pops.

Baking a box mix cake is pretty dang easy, so it mixing in the frosting, and then forming the balls. The most complicated part is dipping them into the Candiquick, which is a confectionery coating, or melted chocolate that sets pretty quickly. And, even then, the only hard part about that is the messy drips. That’s a silly complication. Like a #firstworldproblem issue. ha!

 

 

 

While they have cake pop molds for you to bake the cake in, then coat. We decided to get our hands messy and dive right into rolling the cake with the frosting to create the cake balls for the pops.

Autumn loved helping out. She scooped out the cake and rolled the balls, proudly placing them on the tray as she went. We then brought some over to a friend’s party and she told EVERYONE that she made them. So cute.

They are very easy to make- even a 4 year old can make them!

Be sure to enjoy these with someone that you love. Or eat them all. Whatever works for ya. ha!!

Valentine’s Day Cake Pops

Makes 30 Cake Pops

Ingredients

  • 1 Box Cake Mix and required cake mix ingredients
  • 1/2 – 2/3 Can of Red or Pink Frosting
  • powdered sugar
  • 1 pound of Candiquick or chocolate
  • 30 treat sticks, 4″ long
  • sprinkles

Process

  • Bake the cake according to directions in a 9×13 pan. Let cool completely.
  • Trim away the edges of the cake. Discard (into your mouth!)
  • Cut the cake into small pieces, put into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat until crumbly.
  • Add HALF the can of frosting to the crumbly cake. Beat again. Add a tiny bit more to get a moist, dough like texture that will form a ball. Do not make it too wet and tacky.
  • Dust your hands with powdered sugar. Form 30 equally sized balls.  Suggestion: Divide the dough in half, then divide each half into 3 equally sized portions. From each portion, create 5 balls.
  • Insert a lollipop stick into each ball.
  • Freeze all of the cake pops for at lest 30 minutes.
  • Melt the Candiquick or chocolate. Pour into a tall cup. Quickly dip each cake pop into the candiquick/chocolate, let excess chocolate drip off. Then set onto a non-stick silicon lined baking sheet. Immediately drop sprinkles on to the coating before it sets.
  • Store at room temperature.

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