Courtney & Daniel's Big Adventure

No frills. Just delicious food.

Maple Bacon Bourbon Brown Sugar Ice Cream

This is NOT a super sweet ice cream.  Serve over warm waffles and drizzle with maple syrup for a unique ending to brunch… or delivery pizza in tonight’s case.

Prepare the bacon first.

For the bacon:

  • 4 oz. maple bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1½ TBS bourbon
  • 1 TBS brown sugar
Fry the bacon in a skillet heated to medium high.  When the bacon is almost crisp, drain off most of the grease and return the bacon to the pan.  Add the bourbon, then top the bacon with the sugar.  The sugar should liquify fairly quickly on the bacon, and the grease will have coated the pan, so theoretically, it shouldn’t stick.  When the bacon is crisp, remove from the pan and cool on a plate being careful not to mound the bacon, and put in fridge while preparing the rest of the ice cream.

For the ice cream:

  • 2 cups cream (buy cream with “cream” listed as the only ingredient!)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 5/8 cup brown sugar (equivalent to ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons)
  • 1½ TBS bourbon (get something that’s not low quality…)

Combine 1 cup of cream, the milk, brown sugar, and bourbon over medium heat and whisk until it forms a homogenous mixture.  Chill in a jar in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.  Combine the mixture and the additional cup of cream, the pour into your ice cream freezer and follow the manufacturer’s instructions (usually churning/rotating for 15-20 minutes, at least on mine.)

Remove the bacon from the fridge, then mince into very small pieces.  Once the ice cream has mostly solidified, toss the bacon bits into the tub and continue to spin until the ice cream has reached the proper thick consistency.

Quickly move ice cream into freezer-safe containers, then freeze until ice cream has hardened.


Watch out, Cold Stone. I made rockin’ cake batter ice cream.

That’s right.  Cake batter ice cream.

And it’s so simple.

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups cream (get a good quality cream, preferably one that only lists “cream” as it’s ingredient)
  • ½ cup yellow cake mix (or whatever flavor, I suppose)
  • ⅓ cup sugar

Over medium-low heat, combine milk, 1 cup of cream, sugar, and cake mix.  Whisk constantly until sugar and cake mix has dissolved.  Store in a jar in the freezer for about 10 minutes, or until mixture has cooled but nowhere close to frozen.

Combine chilled mixture with remaining cup of cream.  Freeze according to your ice cream manufacturer’s directions.

Eat in heaping quantities in a waffle cone at a fraction of the price as Cold Stone.


In case you can’t tell, I’m from Texas.  Somehow along the way, I learned how to cook American/Texan, Tex-Mex, and Italian, but I really want to learn how to make Pad Thai…

Anyways, there’s this little Mexican restaurant on the outskirts of Fredericksburg.  It’s so good, I scheduled my orthodontist appointments around lunch time so I could get there for lunch before going to the doctor.

Anyways, I haven’t lived in Texas for five years now, and I think I’ve only had their food twice since I’ve been gone.  My favorite thing there was their picadillo, so I’ve tried to recreate it.  I made it right before Christmas, had some while I was in Texas, then tweaked my recipe so that it matches their amazing flavors as closely as possible.

This is not their recipe.  Just my feeble (and delicious) attempt at recreating one of my favorite dishes.

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 2 medium potatoes, diced
  • 1 TBS minced garlic
  • 1 pound ground beef (I used 90/10)
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 can Rotel
  • 1 TBS cumin
  • 1 tsp Mexican-style chili powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp chipotle powder
  • ½ tsp dried cilantro
  1. In a stockpot big enough to hold all your ingredients, combine the onions, garlic, and potatoes over medium heat.  Cook long enough to make the onions translucent, but the potatoes won’t be done.  Remove from the pot.
  2. Break up the beef in the pot, then add 1 cup of the broth.  Continue to break the meat apart so you have small bits.  Cook until the beef is done.
  3. Add the onions, garlic, and potatoes back into the beef mixture.  Add the other cup of broth, spices, and Rotel.
  4. Turn to low heat (really, low heat), cover, and cook for 3-4 hours.  You could also do this in a crockpot, but I don’t have one!
  5. Stir every half-hour or so, and recover.
  6. Serve with fresh tortillas.

Rum Banana Bread

First of all, you must understand that I don’t like bananas unless they’re coated in a lot of sugar and cooked.  Things like banana bread, bananas foster, and, err, banana bread are OK.  Raw bananas or fake banana flavoring are never (ever) OK.  This is a recipe for people who don’t prefer bananas as well as those who aren’t banana-phobes.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 stick butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 4 overripe bananas*, peeled and mashed
  • 2 TBS sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ⅔ cups AP flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 TBS spiced dark rum
  • 1 cup pecans (that’s pih-KAHNS) or walnuts (optional, but why not?!)

*I only buy bananas for banana bread, so I always buy near black bananas that grocery stores aren’t keen on selling, so they’ll sell them to me for half off.

  1. In a stand mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the bananas.
  2. Once thoroughly combined, add the sour cream and eggs.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients (this’ll save you from sifting!) then add to the creamed banana mixture.
  4. Add vanilla and rum.
  5. Fold in ¾ cup of the nuts.

Turn out into a greased 8×8″ pan.  (I prefer the Baker’s Joy spray, but you can also butter/flour.)  Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of nuts on top.

Bake at 350ºF for 40-60 minutes, until the center is firm.  (It’s really easy to underbake banana bread!)

Maple Brown Sugar Ice Cream

I am super excited to share this one with you.

Combine over medium heat and whisk until smooth:

  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup + 1 TBS dark brown sugar
  • 1 TBS vanilla
  • 2 TBS maple syrup (not Hungry Jack, or the like)

I cheat when I make ice cream, so I add 1 cup of cream to a jar, pour the warm mixture over, then stick it in the freezer for about 30 minutes.  (Save your dirty pot for the next step!)

Pour the chilled mixture back into your pot and add an additional cup of cream; whisk.

Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions.



Daniel’s the quesadilla king of our family.  He makes awesome quesadillas and works out well because I’m not the best quesadilla or grilled cheese sandwich maker…

I’ve gotten fed up with the tortilla selection in Northern Virginia, so I decided to make my own.  They’re so much better and so simple!

Whisk together, it’ll save you from sifting:

  • 3½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder

Using a rubber spatula, add and combine:

  • 1 stick butter, melted

Then add and combine:

  • 1 cup very hot water

Check your consistency.  If it’s sticky, add a bit of flour, but not too much!  Really, a little goes a long way.

Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 15 minutes.

Preheat a cast iron skillet to medium heat.

Form dough balls (about 1″) and then flatten in your palm.  You can use a tortilla press, rolling pin, or my favorite, a bottle of wine to roll out.  You’ll want them to be very thin.

Cook until you can pick it up with a prick of a fork to flip; cook both sides.  I prefer them on the under-done side because they are easier to use/reheat later.

(You’ll find that you can’t form all your balls at the same time as they get dried out.  Leave the dough in the bowl until you’re ready to ball, roll, and cook.  While one is cooking, you can prep the next.)

Let them cool on a rack, then stack and store.

Makes 20.

Waffle Cakes!

Sorry, it’s been a while.  When I’m not cooking, I’m looking for a job.  You can hire me!  I’m an awesome nonprofit professional!

Unemployment does lead to creativity, however.  I’m always looking for ways to save money: eating all the foods out of the cabinet before buying new stuff that we actually like eating, saving electricity, looking for ways to cook while using less electricity.

This is one of those clean-out-the-cabinet-and-use-less-electricity recipes.  What I really want is chocolate chip cookies.  These aren’t them, but it definitely uses much less sugar and electricity than cookies.

Waffle cakes.  We make them in the Cuisinart Sandwich Grill  and call them waffle cakes.  Not like a waffle.  Not like a cake.  Especially not a sandwich.

Here’s what you need.

In bowl one, whisk (saves you from sifting!) together:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 t salt
  • 4 t baking powder
  • 2 T sugar

In bowl two, whisk together:

  • 1/3 c butter, melted (this is about 5 1/3 tablespoons on the wrapper)
  • 1 1/2 c milk (or a moo-milk, almond milk combination)
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Spoon into sandwich grill and cook for one cycle.

If you’d prefer them to be chocolate, add to the dry mixture:

  • 2 T cocoa
  • 2 T sugar

Then fold in about 3/4 cup of chocolate chips.

They’re great whenever.  Breakfast, snacks, dessert.  Be creative!

Bacon Broccoli Bisque

Around our house, we’re into broccoli these days.  I suppose there are worse things to enjoy!

As you read more of the blog, you’ll find that we aren’t on any strange diet like super high fiber, no meat, no bacon (!), no dairy, no gluten.  We eat all sorts of food in moderation and try to steer clear of processed foods as often as possible.  Chick-Fil-A is an exception.

So here you go.  Bacon Broccoli Bisque.  It’s quick to make too.

You’ll need:

6 oz. bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 fist-sized onion, diced
8 oz. broccoli florets (frozen or fresh)
1 T. minced garlic
1/2 c. dry white wine (I had chardonnay on hand)
1 c. milk
1 T. butter
1/4 c. sour cream
1/4 lb. swiss cheese, cubed
1/2 c. grated pecorino romano
ground black pepper to taste

Cook the bacon in your soup pot until crispy.  Remove the bacon to a plate and drain the grease to a separate bowl (you won’t be using it).

Throw in the onion, broccoli, and garlic.  Add the wine and cook the veggies until tender.  Add the milk.  Using the immersion blender, make everything smooth (or nearly, you can take a second pass at it later) then add the sour cream and cheeses until melted and combined.  Add pepper to taste.

Blend everything once more to make sure there aren’t lurking chunks of broccoli.  Once you’re satisfied with the texture, add the bacon back in.

Serve warm and enjoy.

Quick ‘n’ Easy Corn ‘n’ Black Bean Salsa

A quick fix to top that taco salad!  Or to take to a party in a hurry!  Eat on tortilla chips!  Nachos!  With a spoon!

Toss together:
1 can no salt added black beans, rinsed
1 can no salt added whole kernel corn, rinsed
1 fist-sized onion, diced
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
A drizzle of olive oil
Salt, black pepper, cayenne, and cumin to taste

It can be eaten immediately, but like most things in life, if you’re patient, it’ll be better in a few minutes.  Eat within a couple of days.

Woke up and wanted to make carbonara!

Some days, I wake up determined to do something.  (Other days, I am generally motivated, but not on a tear to get something specific done…)  On Sunday, I was determined to make carbonara, so I did.  Thankfully, I keep all the ingredients stocked in my arsenal, err, kitchen.

Sunday Carbonara

One package of bacon, snipped into 1/2″ pieces
One fist-sized onion, diced
One spoonful of minced garlic
1/2 cup-ish dry white wine (I had chardonnay on hand)
1/2 cup-ish vegetable broth
2 cups cream (I know this measurement… I had made ice cream a few days before and it was leftover!)
1 cup-ish milk
5 handfuls of pecorino romano (or parmesan) (5 handfuls for me is a little less than 2 1/2 cups)
ground black pepper
dash of nutmeg (strong flavor, don’t go crazy)
1/4 cup-ish of parsley flakes (for color, mostly)
pinch of thyme
and your favorite pasta shapes

Using kitchen scissors, snip one package of bacon into 1/2-inch pieces.  You can do this directly into your medium-hot stock pot (big enough for all the liquid ingredients later!) to cut down on the mess.  I cooked half the bacon until crispy, drained the bacon and pot, then made the second half of the package, draining again.

You’ll have a bit of residual grease left in the bottom of the pot.  Use that to cook one diced fist-sized white onion and a spoonful of minced garlic.  Cook until translucent (but covered in yummy, residual bacon bits!)

Turn your pot down to medium heat.  Deglaze the pan using a dry white wine.  Maybe about 1/2 cup?  Add about 1/2 cup of vegetable broth, 2 cups of cream, and 1 cup of milk.  Gently bring the heat up so it reduces by about 1/3.  Add about five handfuls of grated pecorino romano (or parmesan) and gently stir to incorporate.  You won’t need to add any salt to this (between the bacon and cheese, you should be good), but be sure to add ground black pepper, nutmeg, and a pinch of thyme.  Also, I added about 1/4 cup of dried parsley flakes, mostly for the added color.

Let it simmer on low (really low) heat for about 30 minutes.

Serve over your favorite pasta.  I chose whole wheat bow ties.  (The kid in me loves these…)