I am guilty of two different kinds of freezer crime. The first being that I, on occasion, have a tendency to buy frozen foods that look totally delicious, but I rarely ever end up finishing them (and sometimes never actually even open them because I forget I bought it in the first place.) The second, related to the first, is that I am totally guilty of filling our freezer with random stuff, and then letting it sit for just about forever because in reality, we don't really eat a whole lot of frozen anything. Seriously. I think it had been about 2 years since we'd cleaned out the freezer (and two years ago, we only did it because we were moving.)
A couple of weeks ago, we went out to California to visit with family for a few days. Since it was a short trip, we left the cats with plenty of food and water and clean litterboxes. Usually, they're just fine. When we got home, everything appeared to be fine as expected. And then I went into the kitchen. Which is when I saw the freezer door wide open. And everything inside it was thawed/soupy/disgusting.
Yeah. Rude. You can see their (not so) shameful faces.
After taking on the gross job of cleaning out the freezer, we decided to buy less frozen junk. It's been pretty awesome, actually. There's almost nothing in there now, besides some frozen fruit for smoothies, some popsicles, a bag of chocolate chips, and ice. And the other day I realized that there was finally enough space for me to freeze my ice cream maker for the first time in far too long.
Don't let ice cream making fool you -- it really isn't terribly difficult, and doesn't take a whole lot of time. Added bonus: you have fresh ice cream (you really can taste the difference between homemade and store-bought), you know exactly what ingredients went into it, and you end up with a small enough quantity that you can actually finish it within a reasonable amount of time (which also gives you a good excuse to make more!)
Fresh Mint and Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream
2 cups whole milk
1 TB + 1 tsp cornstarch
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
a pinch of sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 TB light corn syrup
a very large handful of mint leaves, roughly torn (I went a little mint-crazy and used a loooot of mint. I regret nothing.)
3-4 oz. good quality chocolate, chopped (I used half dark chocolate, half milk chocolate)
- Whisk about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. In a medium bowl whisk the cream cheese and salt together until smooth.
- Combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan and bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat (this might take some time.) Stir occasionally. Allow to boil for 4 minutes.
- Remove from heat and gradually whisk in cornstarch slurry. Bring back to a boil and cook until slightly thickened, about 1 minute, still stirring or whisking occasionally. Remove from heat.
- Gradually whisk hot mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. Do this a little at a time, at first, so you can make sure the cream cheese doesn't create any lumps.
- Add torn mint. Stir.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill to steep for 4-12 hours (overnight is best).
- Strain out mint and freeze according to your ice cream maker manufacturer’s directions. Most maker instructions say to add the chocolate chunks about halfway through the mixing/freezing process. If you forget, just stir the chopped chocolate in at the end, before you pack the ice cream.
- Pack ice cream in an airtight container. Place a square of parchment or plastic wrap directly on the surface of the ice cream before putting on the lid of the container. Freeze for at least 4 hours.