creme brûlée ice cream

If you have a soft spot for sweet smooth custard served cool with a hard crack sugar shell... this is the ice cream for you. Part of the appeal of the classic French dessert is in the fact that the custard remains cool while the top is exposed to extreme heat to caramelize the sugar. Saucy got to thinking... what if an ice cream could have the same appeal... but be even colder?

It worked. The ice cream is a super-smooth, creamy treat. It has a different consistency of regular ice cream. You might think that since most ice creams are frozen custard, that would be the way to make an ice cream inspired by custard. Saucy thought not. Simply freezing a vanilla custard would be - vanilla ice cream. This needed to have a somewhat different base.

The impact of creme brulee dessert comes from the burned sugar crust. The name actually means "burned cream" in French. Saucy decided to adjust her usual ice cream custard recipe and incorporate a heavily caramelized, almost burned sugar and cream mixture to it.

It sounds trickier than it is, really. This is what you'll need:

3/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
1 and 1/2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

In a heavy saucepan, combine the 3/4 cup sugar, the water and the lemon juice. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until the sugar dissolves, one or two minutes. Stop stirring at this point and cook until the syrup is amber, 5 - 6 minutes (longer if necessary). Swirl, but don't stir the mixture to ensure even cooking. Watch it closely to avoid burning. If it burns, discard and start over.

Remove the pan from heat. Gently pour 3/4 cup of the cream into the hot syrup, taking care not to splash yourself. Stir with a long-handled wooden spoon until smooth. Place over medium heat and cook until bubbles form around the edges of the pan, about five minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside.

Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks, salt and the two tablespoons sugar with the remaining 1/4 cup cream in a bowl. Whisk until smooth. Stir in the milk.

Pour the milk mixture into the warm caramel and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and keeping the custard at a low simmer, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 4 - 6 minutes. Do not let the custard boil.

Remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Stir in the vanilla.

Place the bowl in a larger bowl that has been partially filled with ice cubes and some water. Stir occasionally until cool. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least overnight or up to 24 hours.

Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturers directions. Usually this will mean churning in the machine until it is partially frozen; transfer into a freezer-safe container with a lid and place in the freezer where it will fully freeze at least three hours or up to three days before serving.

This ice cream is especially smooth - just like creme brulee - because it is strained before freezing. Because of the real caramel base, it freezes a little differently than regular custard-based ice creams. It has more of a gelato texture, which is perfect.

Serve in little baking ramekins if you have them.

There are two ways to make the hard crack sugar for presenting this dessert. Saucy sprinkled white sugar into a saucepan lined with tinfoil and used her little blow torch to burn the sugar until it was dark amber.

You can, if you don't have a blow torch, put 1/4 cup white sugar and 2 tablespoons of water into a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat, swirling and not stirring the mixture. Bring to a rolling boil and watch carefully. Keep cooking and swirling the pan and eventually the mixture will turn amber. Once it begins to turn amber, watch it carefully. It can burn in the blink of an eye - you want it almost burned, but not quite. When the amber shade deepens, remove from heat and gently pour the burning (yes, burning - so watch yourself) sugar onto a tinfoil-lined pan, shiny side up. Move the pan gently from side to side to allow the sugar to spread out a little bit. Let it cool and harden at room temperature, then crack it into pieces to decorate your ice cream.

simple blueberry muffins

It isn't always about cupcakes. Sometimes, it's about muffins. Muffins are, by their very nature, cupcakes without frosting. But don't tell them that. They're very full of themselves, those muffins.

Saucy likes to whip up these muffins because the recipe only makes twelve nicely sized portions, and nobody really wants a stale muffin the next day anyway. Twelve delicious blueberry muffins are... just right.

Sift together and make a well out of:

1 and 3/4 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream together:

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar; until light and fluffy and then add:

1 egg
3/4 cup milk or buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Pour this wet mixture into the well and fold until just blended. There will be a few lumps, but that doesn't mean anything. Don't fret about it.

Now, stir in 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups fresh blueberries that have been washed and the stems removed. At this point, resist the urge to overstir the batter, just fold them in gently. If they aren't evenly distributed don't worry, you can selectively grab batter with your scoop.

Scoop into lined muffin pans and top with crumble mixture if desired (crumble mixture is simply 1/3 cup butter cut with 1/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup flour until it gets... crumbly).

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes until nicely browned. Serve and enjoy immediately.

birthday cake ice cream

Saucy wants to tell you up front that she saw birthday cake ice cream at a local ice cream parlor, but she thought she could improve upon it. So she went home, and this is what she did:

She began by baking a vanilla sponge cake in a 9 x 12 pan and then used a serrated blade to hack it into unsightly pieces. She figured that just this once, the aesthetics wouldn't matter. They didn't.

Don't kid yourself. You could use actual, leftover birthday cake for this if you had it on hand and you were so inclined. Saucy was just so keen on the idea, she couldn't wait.

Next, Loopy took a litre of good quality vanilla ice cream out of the freezer to soften. The only stipulation here is that you don't use French Vanilla, it has a yellow cast to it and for this dessert you will want nice white ice cream because the cake already is yellow-ish.

Saucy dug into the icebox and found two small ziploc bags of frosting that were leftover from some recent cupcakes. Saucy always has a little frosting on hand, she hates to waste it. It just turned out that these were pink and green, which look very festive together. She snipped the corner off of each bag and then she and Loopy got busy.

In a large, clean ice cream freezer pail (you know the kind, we all have them around) they started to pile in chunks of cake, scoops of ice cream, and blobs of frosting.

You see, how it looks sort of like a dog's breakfast right now?

Every few minutes, you need to smack the pail on the counter to release the air and make more room for cake, ice cream and frosting. Don't stir the mixture. Just keep scooping, blobbing and smacking until the container is full or you run out of stuff.

This isn't an exact science, people. It's melting leftovers and ice cream together.

Tip: you really need this mixture to be frozen solid before serving. Chances are, it got a little messy and soft while you were creating it and it will take about 24 hours to be a really nice, firm ice cream consistency again. The frosting will freeze nicely in with the cake and the ice cream so when you scoop it, you'll get nice long streaks of colour mixed in.

Serve with sprinkles (of course). The only thing missing here is the candle. Have a happy day.

if the ice cream sandwich grew up

What if, Dear Reader, the simple joy of a chocolate cookie was sandwiched with ice cream, drizzled with chocolate and topped with fresh raspberries? It would be a sweet presentation, indeed.

What if, before squeezing two soft homemade chocolate cookies around store-bought vanilla ice cream, you stirred raspberry preserves into it? It would work. It would be damned delicious, too.

It wasn't too long ago that Saucy was sandwiching cookies with ice cream and sprinkles and she thought they were fancy... now she thinks them not fancy enough.

Because this week, when she was sandwiching cookies with vanilla ice cream she thought it so ho-hum that she had to incorporate miniature chocolate chips with melted chocolate and anything else she could find in the baking cabinet...

Some of the sandwiches looked downright ladylike with crystal sugar and pastel nonpareils.

But damned delicious they were.

Some of them, not as pretty to look at... but sometimes looks don't really matter.

Sometimes its all about the drizzling and sprinkling and rolling. If you want to see some fancy versions of the classic cookie ice cream sandwich, prepare to be dazzled here.

custom charm bracelet

A very nice reader approached Saucy with the idea to have a custom charm bracelet made for a friend of hers who enjoys traveling. It was an enjoyable collaboration... Saucy really digs the challenge of problem-solving, searching out charms that are just right, and gathering everything together in some sort of finished product that lived up to the gift-givers expectations.

Because, if there's anything Saucy enjoys more than finding or creating the perfect gift for someone, it's helping someone else do the same.

The detail in this piece is what makes it special: a tiny vial of sand filled with grains from The Cayman Islands, a Jamaican coin, photo frames hold special memories and the whole look is tied together with blue and green semi-precious stones and Swarovski crystal accents.

Saucy is way behind in her bracelet making... and her necklaces too, for that matter. Hopefully, Etsy will be restocked in August with a wide selection of Ephemera necklaces to accent fall wardrobes and in early September a good selection of Halloween charm bracelets should make their debut.

And for those do-it-yourselfers out there, if you are interested in Saucy hosting another Halloween bracelet swap, you should really let it be known now. Saucy was thinking of hosting another version... but this one a little more vintage-inspired than last year. What do you think of that? Swappers would have to be ready to ship by mid-August.

fresh pasta

Fresh pasta is quick and easy to make. It requires little planning and can be served with what you may already have in your fridge or pantry, as a side or a main dish. There are a few tricks to serving soft, tender noodles made from scratch. Saucy is going to share them with you today.

First, your ingredients:

2 cups white (all purpose) flour
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil (plus more for cooking)
3-5 tablespoons water
salt for cooking

Turn your flour onto your work surface... make a well in the centre. In a small bowl, lightly beat together the eggs, the olive oil and about three tablespoons of the water to start. Pour the egg mixture into the well and start to gather everything together with a fork. Right there on the counter. When it starts to form a ball of dough, toss the fork aside and get your hands in there, kneading the flour into the dough as best you can. If you need to add more of the water, now is the time - but no more than five tablespoons, total.

Otherwise, flour + water = glue. Glue is not pasta.

When the dough is gathered together nicely, knead it on that surface, without adding much flour, until it is smooth and elastic. It won't really want to stick to the counter, anyway. If it does, you may have glue, not pasta dough on your hands.

Next trick: cover the ball of dough with a clean tea towel and leave it for about 20 minutes sitting there on a lightly floured area of your counter. This allows glutens to form, which is just a fancy way of saying the dough will get nice and elastic so you can work with it and it won't fall apart. Pasta doesn't fall apart... it's stretchy, right?

The next part of the event is where the elbow grease comes in. Turn the dough onto your now-lightly-floured counter and start rolling it into the biggest, thinnest rectangle you can manage. It will be tricky at first, because it's a little like elastic at this point and although it wants to stretch when rolled it kind of wants to shrink back. But keep working it. Eventually it will bend to your will and stretch the surface of your work space. Try to roll it as thin as you possibly can.

Next, roll that entire sheet up, jelly-roll style. Use a sharp knife and slice it up. You don't need a pasta machine or a fancy attachment for your stand mixer... we're doing this old-school. Just a rolling pin and a knife, those are the only tools you need to make pasta.

As soon as you've sliced up the dough, start unrolling it. You don't have to work super quickly, but if you have an extra set of hands to help, it's better. Kids really get into this part. Lay the noodles across the counter or a tea towel. You're going to cook them right away.

If you aren't planning on cooking them now, you can dry them by hanging them over clean tea towels on a laundry rack in a nice dry area of your house... but there are eggs in there so you need to use them pronto. You should really avoid letting them get stuck together because the cut edges will get sticky and they'll act like magnets for each other- next thing you know, you've got a ball of noodles and that's no fun.

To cook the noodles, bring a large stock pot of water to a rolling boil. Here's another tip: it should be heavily salted and you should drizzle olive oil into the water before adding the noodles. The oil will prevent the noodles from sticking together and also inhibit the pot boiling over.

Oh, and another thing: don't just throw the noodles in, all at once, like that. Take your time and drop them in carefully, stirring the pot after each handful or so. Otherwise... you guessed it... a ball of noodles. And don't, no matter what, hold the noodles in your hands over the steaming pot while you're getting ready to add them to the water. The steam rises... and the noodles will turn to ribbons of glue in your hands.

After all of the noodles are added to the water, cook them 4-6 minutes, until tender but firm.

It's all about the handling of this stuff. Work quickly, work smart and work dry, and you won't have a problem.

To serve: drain through a colander thoroughly. Toss with real butter, fresh garlic, heavy cream and a few handfuls of your favourite shredded Italian cheese. Fresh ground pepper and salt to taste... it's easy. You'll never order fettuccine Alfredo in a restaurant again.

Makes one pound, serves four.

peach pie

Nothing says summer like a fresh fruit pie. On a nice July day, the smell of a peach pie baking is irresistible.

You will need six or seven ripe but firm peaches. If they are small, use more.

After washing, remove the pits and slice into pieces about 1/2" thick. Saucy leaves the skins of the peach on, but it's entirely up to you. Some cooks like the flavour and the colour the skins add (in this case, a little deep red and a tangy bite) and some prefer the smoothness that skinning the peach gives to the dessert. Saucy leaves the skins on because she just can't resist that extra zing they add. Also, leaving the skin on is easy... and this is supposed to be easy.

Yes, you'd never leave the skin on an apple in a pie, but this is a peach and have faith, it will bake down nicely. Without the skin, the filling can be a little like canned peaches.

Prepare two 9" rounds of your favourite pastry recipe. Saucy uses her food processor and cuts 1/2 cup cold butter into 1 and 1/4 cups white flour with a dash of salt and about a tablespoon of sugar until it is coarse like peas. Then she simply pours about three tablespoons of ice water into the machine and pulses quickly until the dough gathers... turns it out to a floured surface and rolls into a 9" round.

Prepare your dough before you finish preparing the fruit. You'll see why in a minute. Get the bottom of your pie pan filled with that first round of dough.

In a large bowl mix two tablespoons of corn starch, two tablespoons of quick cooking tapioca (that's Granny's old trick), 3/4 cup sugar, a pinch of salt and about 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. You may find that odd in a peach pie... but cinnamon isn't just for apples. Toss the fruit into the blended starch and sugar mixture quickly, covering every piece.

See how saucy and immediately gooey and runny the fruit gets when you toss it around in there? That's why you need to have your dough ready int the pan. Get it in there, pronto.

There really is something wonderful about an unbaked pie... don't you think? It holds a world of possibilities.

Don't get too excited. The whole thing needs to chill the fridge, unbaked, for about a half hour. You can turn your oven on to 375 in the meantime.

Oh, and nobody has enjoyed a pie pan quite like Saucy has enjoyed the Pampered Chef Deep Dish Pie Plate that MJ gave her about five years ago. It's brilliant. Sometimes, Saucy just heaps and heaps fruit into that plate and it looks pretty ridiculous before she bakes it. She'll show you one of those sometime. This one wasn't so ridiculous.

Before baking, you can choose to brush the top crust with a beaten egg white and sprinkle with sugar.

Your pie will be done baking in 50-60 minutes. It should be golden brown on top and the juice should not run clear... it should look cloudy and thick like a nice sauce.

Cool and serve. Now do you see what Saucy means about the peach skin? It just adds something. Something delicious. Something summery.

Ice cream adds something delicious, too. Scoop it on, people. You only live once.

corners of our home

Come inside, the weather isn't pleasant to be outdoors.

The rain continues almost every day around here. The cushions for the patio furniture are tucked away in the shed and the pool has overflown more than once. It's like living in a tropical rainforest.

Inside, there are wild flowers on the counter that Buddy Budderson picked and arranged for his girlfriend. They are a spectacularly groovy assortment of pinks, purples and

A tuffet hold some pins and hatpins.

The shadow boxes in the stair well hold butterflies of the genus dollaramus.

A few displays here and there make it feel summery and beachy, even though it thunders outside.

Under the glass of the table is blue sand with shells and trinkets. How does Saucy plan to clean that up at the end of summer? She has no idea.

The cute memo frame has been repainted and hung on the blackboard in the kitchen entryway with a cute cupcake wall decal above it. Now the Cheerios will get busy and muss it all up again.

Teddy bears watch the porch entryway like silent sentries from a shelf.

No, the photo isn't backwards... those are printing blocks on the window sill.

Reader, have you had plenty of summer sunshine where you live? Until the rain subsides, Saucy can only putter around and get a few things done in the kitchen and the craft room... she'd really rather be outside, wouldn't you?

the sandwich

If Saucy wasn't so utterly committed to the art of cupcaking, then she would be a sandwich artist. And when she says "sandwich artist" she doesn't mean the kind who wear plastic gloves and load up the rolls at Subway, she means and honest-to-goodness, keep a blog about it, write a recipe book about it, sandwich artiste.

It may come as no surprise to you that one of Saucy's first jobs was in a delicatessen. Slicing and shaving the cured meats, piling them high on artisan rolls and breads - it's a passion. Saucy digs a savoury summer sausage or a spicy thuringer.

This sandwich was all about the chicken salad. Saucy admits to occasionally roasting a chicken for supper just to obtain the fixings for chicken salad the next day.

There's no real recipe for chicken salad like this... it just happens. Dice the cold chicken breast and toss with some finely chopped red onion and a chopped green onion. The dressing was simply Kraft coleslaw dressing (sweet and tangy) stirred with a generous squirt of prepared mustard, the juice and rind of one lemon, and a shot of olive oil. After the chicken and onions are tossed in the dressing, pile generously atop a toasted bun and crumble fresh goat cheese to finish. Freshly ground salt and pepper are a must on an artistic sandwich of any kind.

And yes people, that is a toasted hot dog bun. The hot dog buns from the local bakery are so soft and delicious that Saucy uses them as sandwich rolls all the time. Don't diss the hot dog bun... it takes a back seat to artisan rolls and fancy wrappers but it is tried and true. It's the perfect shape for a manageable sandwich for anyone.

You may also be wondering about Saucy's drink which was also delicious. Saucy had peach juice and a few fresh peaches on hand so she threw it all in the blender with an ounce each of Absolut Pear and Absolut Mango vodkas, twelve ice cubes and a shot of Torani mandarin syrup. A few good ice crushing pulses later and Saucy was in heaven.

What do you think, Reader? Should Saucy just stick to cupcakes?

farewell, farewell, eliza dear

Do you know the poem by Robbie Burns? The Cheerios had to bid farewell to their Eliza Dear when she returned to Australia this weekend. She had a wonderful year in Canada but it was time to return home to her family.

She leaves behind a cheer family who loves her very much. They knew it would be hard to say goodbye.

As a coach, Saucy must say that Eliza Dear is one of those special, committed athletes who makes coaching enjoyable every single day. She brought a smile with her to every practice. Her enthusiasm was contagious. She set a good example for everyone on the team and we were proud that she was a captain. Saucy resisted the urge to dub her "Captain Kangaroo," and for that, Eliza Dear must be thankful.

Imagine the maturity required for a fifteen year old girl to leave her home and cross hemispheres to live with her grandparents and attend a public school where she knew not a single person. Imagine then, a year later, everyone heartbroken at her departure, not knowing what next year will be like without her.

Eliza Dear returns to Australia with the memory of the success we had in competition. More importantly, she returns knowing that success like that is attainable in whatever she chooses to undertake down under.

In May, we took her photograph near a city landmark so she will never forget the place she left behind.

In June we saw Carrie Underwood together... and took a ride in a rickshaw.

Saucy reminded the Cheerios and Eliza Dear that goodbye is not really goodbye these days. Through email, Facebook and Skype everyone can keep in touch.

It made farewell easier to think of that. So you see, farewell is not goodbye.

We sent Eliza Dear packing with the team mascot, Bo Champ. Inside his foot is a little speaker that plays the team chant. Eliza Dear can play it whenever she gets lonely for the Cheerios.

Knowing that the internet would keep them close, farewell was easier, but there were still long goodbyes at the airport. Time for last pictures together.

Time for last group hugs.

One last time to stand arm in arm... they stepped their feet into a heart shape together. And then she was gone.

Farewell, farewell, Eliza Dear. Until we meet again. {Hugs}

Julie, you are the winner of the Hair Flairs! Time to add some glimmer to your 'do but first, please set down that Bacardi Breezer long enough to send Saucy and email with your delivery deets. Congratulations!