Blackberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Blackberry Cheesecake Ice Cream @themerrythought
In case you missed that it’s summer here and National Ice Cream month, here’s another delicious reminder!  I had a pint of blackberries sitting in my fridge, needing to be used up, so I thought why not try a blackberry ice cream recipe?  I’ve been wanting to make a cheesecake based ice cream for a while, since that would combine my two favorite desserts – ice cream and cheesecake; and a blackberry cheesecake ice cream sounded delicious and perfect for summer! The sweetened, tart blackberries pair perfectly with the creamy, tangy cheesecake ice cream.  It’s definitely a bite of summer goodness!
Blackberry Cheesecake Ice Cream @themerrythought
Blackberry Cheesecake Ice Cream @themerrythought
Blackberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
5 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a mixing bowl, stir the softened cream cheese until smooth. Add in the egg yolks and sugar and stir until the mixture is a well combined and smooth. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, whisk together the milk, heavy cream and vanilla over medium heat, until very hot, but not boiling. Once the milk mixture is hot, slowly pour about 1/2 cup of the hot milk into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly, this gently warms the egg yolks (so they don’t become scrambled eggs!). Keep adding the milk slowly, constantly whisking, until you have about 1/2 of the hot milk mixture stirred into the eggs yolks. Pour the egg mixture back into the pan with the remaining milk and heat over medium heat, stirring, until the mixture reaches 165-170ºF. Remove from the heat and strain through a sieve into a large bowl. Let cool to room temperature (you can set the bowl in an ice bath to speed up the cool down process), cover and refrigerate overnight.

For the blackberries:
2 cups blackberries
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 tablespoon water

In a small saucepan, combine the blackberries with the brown sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Whisk together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl, pour into the saucepan and stir. Let the mixture return to a boil, then lower the heat and let simmer for about 5-10 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly, stirring frequently. While it’s simmering, mash the berries to the consistency you like. Remove from heat, cool and then refrigerate overnight.

The next day, churn the ice cream mixture in your ice cream maker.  Once churned, pour a layer of ice cream in the bottom of a pan, spread a layer of the berry mixture on top.  Repeat layers. Gently swirl the mixture with a knife. Cover and freeze at least 4 hours or until firm.
Blackberry Cheesecake Ice Cream @themerrythought
Blackberry Cheesecake Ice Cream @themerrythought

What summer fruit would you pair with your ice cream??



DIY Wooden Spoon

DIY Wooden Spoon @themerrythoughtThis project (like so many) has been on my to-do list for almost a year. This week I decided to finally try it out… a few hours and a few blisters later, this little wooden spoon was done!

I have a lot to learn and a few more tools I should probably invest in, but carving is incredible and feels so rewarding when your project is finished. It might be my new favorite hobby… that I’ll have plenty of time for of course ;) DIY Wooden Spoon @themerrythoughtDIY Wooden Spoon @themerrythought(*Before reading the instructions: I definitely cheated on how I made mine because I wasn’t ready to invest in wood files and more carving tools. So this is a very basic way to make a wooden spoon, I’m sure there will be a lot of people frowning on my technique – but oh well! It worked!)

What you need:
-Piece of Hardwood
-Band Saw or Scroll Saw
-Hook Knife (I used this one but I had to sharpen it before using it.)
-Belt Sander
-Sand Paper
-Food-safe Wood Finish (butter/oil/conditioner)

How to make it:
-Draw out the the shape of the spoon you want to carve on the piece of wood.
-Clamp the wood down before starting to carve.
-Use your hook knife to begin to carve away the bowl of the spoon. Be very careful!
-Once the bowl is carved, use a band saw or scroll saw to cut around the shape of the spoon.
-I used a belt sander to help shape the spoon and handle but if you have access to carving knives and files, I would recommend using those instead.
-When you are happy with the shape of the spoon, start sanding it. Start with rough sandpaper and then move to a fine-grained paper.
-Finish the spoon in a food-safe butter/oil/conditioner according to directions.
DIY Wooden Spoon @themerrythoughtDIY Wooden Spoon @themerrythought It’s not quite perfect but I’m pretty thrilled with it and I can’t wait to make more!

xo. Caitlin

S’more Ice Cream Sandwiches

S'more Ice Cream Sandwiches @themerrythought
So, remember last week when I posted the Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream and mentioned another recipe coming featuring that ice cream?  This is it!  Another delicious way to eat more of that yummy ice cream (aka, another reason to whip up another batch to devour…).
S'more Ice Cream Sandwiches @themerrythought
I loovveee s’mores…just putting that out there in case you haven’t been able to tell from all the s’more related recipes I seem to make.  A few years ago, I started making my own graham crackers for s’mores and it’s just about my favorite thing ever.  Over the last few months, I’ve seen some s’more ice cream sandwiches floating around Pinterest and I thought, I could do that with my homemade graham crackers!  All I needed was to find a good toasted marshmallow ice cream recipe.  I got that checked off last week, so I was on to the ice cream sandwiches!
S'more Ice Cream Sandwiches @themerrythought
These are soo good! It combines two of my favorite treats, the toasted marshmallow ice cream and homemade graham crackers! I made mine with milk chocolate – I used Hershey bars to try to get more of that authentic s’more taste, but I think I actually would have liked the sandwiches better if they had been made with a darker chocolate. So I’d probably change that when making these again. It’s the perfect way to enjoy a s’more treat on a hot summer day!
S'more Ice Cream Sandwiches @themerrythought
S’more Ice Cream Sandwiches

Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream (click for the recipe)
Homemade Graham Crackers (click for the recipe)
Chocolate Ganache (recipe below)

When making the ice cream, after churning in your freezer bowl, spread the ice cream in a 9×13 parchment-lined pan. Freeze overnight.

Match your graham crackers into pairs. Make the ganache and spread a thin layer on one cracker from each pair. Set on a baking sheet and freeze for 20 minutes to partially harden the chocolate. (This will create a sturdier base for holding the ice cream.)

Remove the ice cream from the pan by lifting the parchment paper and set on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, cut the ice cream into squares equal to the size of your graham crackers, one portion for each pair of grahams. Place the ice cream square on the ganache and sandwich the other graham cracker on top, gently pressing together. Return back to the baking sheet and freeze until hard. Wrap individually in plastic wrap or parchment paper and keep stored in the freezer.

Chocolate Ganache

3 oz. Hershey Milk Chococlate*, broken up/chopped into small pieces
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 small pieces

To make the ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from the heat and pour over the chopped chocolate. Let stand about 1 minute. With a whisk, gently stir the chocolate and cream together. When the ganache has become smooth, whisk in the butter 1 piece at a time until incorporated. Chill in refrigerator until mixture has thickened and is spreadable. Keep in refrigerator until ready to use. If you’re in a hurry to get the mixture to thicken, put the bowl in the freezer to chill, whisking every 5-10 minutes to help it cool evenly. Once thick enough, keep in refrigerator.

* I used Hershey’s Milk Chocolate so that it would be as s’more-like as possible. Feel free to use any chocolate though.

(Assembly steps slightly adapted from Seeded at the Table)
S'more Ice Cream Sandwiches @themerrythought
S'more Ice Cream Sandwiches @themerrythought
S'more Ice Cream Sandwiches @themerrythought



Mocktail Monday // Kid Created Mocktails

Mocktails @themerrythoughtA few weeks ago we were working on some mocktails for the next few weeks and when we were done, we had a bunch of mocktail ingredients leftover. Since the boys love helping out with these posts, we thought it would be fun to let them create one of their own. We put all of the possible options out across the counter (juices, sodas, sweeteners, fruits, herbs….) and let each of the boys choose what they wanted in their drink. I was prepared for some pretty funky tasting drinks but they were all surprisingly delicious.

The boys had so much fun and were so proud of their tasty creations. They even came up with names for their drinks once they were finished.
Mocktails @themerrythoughtThe Very, Very Red Drink

4 Cherries
3 Chunks Honeydew Melon
1 tsp Grenadine
1 tsp Agave Nectar
2 tbsp Lime Juice
1 tbsp Cranberry Juice
Club Soda

Muddle cherries and melon in the bottom of a shaker. Add the rest of the ingredients (except club soda), fill shaker with ice and shake until cool. Strain mixture into a glass and top off with club soda. Garnish with cherry and melon ball.

Mocktails @themerrythought Mocktails @themerrythoughtRainbow Drink

3 Raspberries
5 Blueberries
2 Chunks Watermelon
2 Dashes Bitters
2 tbsp Orange Juice
3 tbsp Ginger Ale

Muddle berries and melon at the bottom of glass. Add bitters and orange juice and stir slightly. Fill glass 3/4 full of crushed ice. Top off with ginger ale.Mocktails @themerrythoughtThe Levi (Yes, he actually wanted to name it that.)

1 tbsp Blackberry Simple Syrup (Boil 1/2 cup blackberry, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar and strain)
2 tbsp Fresh Grapefruit Juice
1 tbsp French Vanilla Creamer

Add blackberry syrup, grapefruit juice, and creamer in a shaker 1/2 full of ice and shake until cool. Put an extra 2 tsp of blackberry syrup at bottom of glass. Fill 3/4 full of ice. Strain in the shaken mixture. Top off with ginger ale.

“The Levi” was definitely the most delicious drink – one of my favorites we’ve ever made. The boys all tried each others drinks after they made it and when Lincoln tried Levi’s he said, “Wait, how did Levi know how to make such a good drink?!”
Create Your Own Mocktail @themerrythoughtWe let them choose their own ingredients and then helped them figure out what measurements would work. and then let them do the measuring and mixing. It’s a great way to beat the heat and keep your kiddos occupied for a while during these long summer days!

DIY Canvas Tent

DIY Canvas Tent @themerrythought
For those of you that want a camp experience without having to venture further than your backyard – this DIY canvas tent is perfect for creating that cozy camp feel!  It’s pretty quick and simple to put together and set up.  And it can be stored easily – as long as you have room for the tall branches!
DIY Canvas Tent @themerrythought
We wanted our tent big enough for a couple of adults to sit in comfortably, but you can make a smaller version just for kiddos. I absolutely love cozy outdoor spaces and could spend hours laying in this tent!
DIY Canvas Tent @themerrythought
What you need:

  • canvas (ours was 9′x 12′)
  • grommet kit
  • branches
  • stakes or sticks to use as stakes
  • saw
  • drill
  • dowel
  • rope (we used about 25 feet)
  • twine

DIY Canvas Tent @themerrythought
DIY Canvas Tent @themerrythought
DIY Canvas Tent @themerrythought
DIY Canvas Tent @themerrythought
How to do it:
Measure and mark where your grommets will go. You will need two on the top (which will be the middle of the fabric) and four on the bottom edges (one in each corner).* Put in your grommets (your kit should have instructions on how to do that). Measure how long your branches need to be (they need to be the height of the peak of your tent – make sure that coordinates with the length of your fabric), ours were a little over 5 feet, and cut them to size with a saw. Next, drill a hole in the top of your branch, (at least) 3 inches deep and insert a dowel. (Cut dowel to size if needed). You can also whittle the top of the branch to be skinny enough to fit through the grommet – we chose to drill a hole and use a dowel because it was faster.
To set up the tent (you’ll need two people to do it), stand one branch up and place the center grommet over the dowel. Wrap rope around the dowel and pull the rope taught, putting pressure on the branch. Secure the ropes to stakes – we used sticks for our stakes. Repeat on the other end. Tie the twine through the bottom edge grommet hole and secure to stakes (you could also just slide stakes through the grommet holes). Repeat at each corner.
Fill the tent with cozy blankets and pillows and enjoy!
(If you’re going to leave the tent outdoors, you may want to use some kind of waterproof treatment on it to prevent mildew & such)

*I didn’t want our tent to be as long as the canvas was, so our grommet holes are actually 1.5 feet in on each end of the canvas. Once the tent was up, I folded the excess canvas over the edges of the rope. So if you like that look – that’s how we did it.
DIY Canvas Tent @themerrythought
DIY Canvas Tent @themerrythought
DIY Canvas Tent @themerrythought
DIY Canvas Tent @themerrythought
A perfect little spot for a romantic date night too!

Who’s up for some backyard camping?!


(If you’re looking to try some indoor camping – this DIY Teepee is perfect for the living room…)

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