Friday, May 22, 2015

Strawberry-Basil Iced Tea


You know what makes me super happy? When big, luscious strawberries are "Buy 1, Get 1 Free" at the grocery store. Know what makes me super sad? When I don't eat them fast enough and they turn into sad, wrinkly strawberries. Whomp whooomp.

I'm here to rescue you from having to experience the berry blues! If your berries are less-than-beautiful, you can still salvage them without having anyone in your household look at you like, "Why are you serving me substandard berries?" Because once you blend them up in this thirst-quenching beverage, they'll have imparted their strawberry flavor and fulfilled their fruity destiny without being judged for their appearance. It's a win-win for everyone.


May is National Strawberry Month {shouldn't every month be?} and this is the perfect way to celebrate the occasion!


As a matter of fact, it wouldn't be a bad idea to whip up a pitcher or two for any of your summer celebrations.


A fun twist on iced tea, this drink surprises the palate with the taste of ripe strawberries and the fresh flavor of basil. Don't care for basil? Swap it out for some mint instead for a cooling treat.


Have some stunning strawberries that you wouldn't mind putting in the spotlight? Check out some of the recipes from my friends at Driscoll's!

Disclosure: I received a gift card and product coupons in exchange for this post. As always, the opinions here are all my own!

Strawberry-Basil Iced Tea
Makes 4 servings

4 cups water
4 black tea bags
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
4-5 large basil leaves, chopped or torn
About 1/2 a package of Driscoll's Strawberries

1. Bring water to a boil {in kettle or microwave}. Add 4 tea bags and steep until desired strength is achieved.

2. Meanwhile, bring sugar and 1/4 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan; simmer for 1 minute or until sugar is completely dissolved. Toss in basil leaves and allow to steep for about 10 minutes.

3. When tea and sugar syrup are ready and slightly cooled, strain into a blender with strawberries. Blend for a minute or two, until mixture is completely smooth.

4. Using a mesh strainer, strain the mixture into a pitcher, pressing on the solids to remove any juice. Discard solids.

Pour over ice to serve.

*If you prefer your tea sweeter, you can increase the amount of syrup you add. Simply use equal parts of sugar to water in making your syrup.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Olive Oil Polenta Cake with Grilled Apricots & Raspberries



As much as I love summer cookouts, when I think "grill" I often think "meat." And yeah, I like a good turkey burger or tasty chicken kebab, but you know that my heart belongs to just about anything falling into the category of "dessert." Every party needs a little something sweet, and there's no need to turn off the grill when it's time to serve dessert at your grilling get-togethers this summer!

Thanks to my friends at Colavita, I had an arsenal of amazing, authentic Italian goodies to inspire me as I pondered ways to move dessert prep from oven to grill. No, really. I mean a triple-decker care package of foodie love.


Olive Oil Polenta Cake is served up with grilled apricots and raspberries that have taken a soak in fragrant raspberry vinegar. A scoop of vanilla ice cream, a drizzle of tangy balsamic glace and some fresh basil complement the flavors and work together to create a fantastic balance -- sweet, savory, tart and creamy.


This cake is just about foolproof; ideal for last minute baking. The texture of the cake is intriguing with its slightly crackly crust and moist chewy interior, polenta adding a little crunch and a hint of cornbread-like flavor to the mix.


The apricots become slightly soft and caramelized when grilled, and they are nothing short of heavenly when eaten with a bite of vanilla ice cream and balsamic glace. {If you've never tried ice cream with vinegar, I highly recommend it!}


Don't limit yourself to burgers and hot dogs at your next backyard barbecue. Save a space for some sweetness on those grates, and some room for this cake in your belly!

Get $1 off Colavita products or 15% off your online order with this offer

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Colavita. As always, all opinions seen here are my own!
Olive Oil Polenta Cake with Grilled Apricots & Raspberries

For Fruit:
2 tablespoons Colavita Raspberry Wine Vinegar
1 tablespoon Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teapoon basil, finely chopped {plus extra for garnish}
4 apricots {or peaches}, halved, pits removed
4 ounces raspberries
Colavita Balsamic Glace

For Cake:
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups Colavita Fine Italian "00" Flour
1/4 cup Colavita Polenta
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Optional: Powdered sugar for garnish, Vanilla Ice Cream for Serving

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a cake pan* by greasing liberally with butter. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together raspberry vinegar, olive oil, honey and basil. Add halved apricots and raspberries to mixture and gently toss to coat. Set aside while preparing cake.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together eggs and sugar until pale. Slowly stream in the olive oil until fully incorporated. Mix in vanilla extract.

4. Whisk together flour, polenta, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl. With the mixer running at low speed, slowly incorporate dry ingredients into the wet mixture until fully incorporated.

5. Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top is browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool completely before cutting.

For Fruit:

Scoop apricots from vinegar mixture. Heat a grill or grill pan to high heat. Place apricots or peaches cut side down onto grill and cook until slightly softened and grill marks have formed, about 5-7 minutes.

To serve: 

Place a piece of cake on plate. Top with a grilled apricot and raspberries and a scoop of vanilla ice cream if desired. Drizzle with balsamic glace and sprinkle of basil.

Note:
*I used a small, 6 inch cake pan for this recipe. The cake rose above the rim but did not spill over the sides, though I did place the cake pan on a baking sheet just to be safe. If you use a standard 9 inch, you may need to reduce the baking time.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Two-Bite Bourbon & Coke Cakes


I hate saying, "We've been so busy." because it's usually just a lame excuse for being bad at staying in touch or not posting on Mondays being able to make it to something, no matter how true the statement is. But you guys, we've been so busy.

The month of May began like a starting pistol and we've been going ever since. We have had a wedding every weekend -- one out of state -- and weeks filled with projects and obligations, not to mention, you know, life.

Currently, I am typing this with 1,200 other things swirling around in my brain, Cole sitting next to me eating a set of colorful plastic car keys & listening to "Under the Sea" on Pandora, sweet potatoes boiling so I can puree them for his lunch and pollen violently attacking my sinuses. It's always a good time around here.

Anyway, BOURBON {and chocolate. Yes, please.}.


I have mentioned several times before that I am a fan. And that most people look at me funny because apparently you should only like it if you have chest hair peeking out from the neck of your collar. Whatever. My taste buds like it and that's all that matters.

But I understand that it's not everyone's cup of... er... liquor. If you are among the folks that fall into this category, I highly suggest you try this recipe before writing it off altogether. Because YUM.


A classic cocktail-turned-cake, this recipe from Morgan Murphy's cookbook, Bourbon & Bacon, has the sweetness of chocolate and cola with just a hint of Four Roses Bourbon shining through. The little cakes are rich and fudgy, crowned with a generous drizzle of Bourbon & Cola Glaze to gild the lily.


No matter how "crazy busy" you are, make some time to try out these little two-bite cakes. You won't regret it for one overbooked second!

Disclosure: I received a bottle of Four Roses Bourbon and compensation for this post. As always, the opinions here are all my own!

Morgan Murphy’s Two-Bite Bourbon and Coke Cakes
Reprinted with permission from author Morgan Murphy from Bourbon & Bacon

Makes: 3 Dozen
Hands-On: 20 mins
Total: 1 hr. 40 mins

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups butter, softened
2 ½ cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup cola soft drink
¾ cup buttermilk
½ cup bourbon
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. table salt
Bourbon- and- Cola Glaze

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beat until blended. Add eggs and vanilla; beat at low speed until blended.

2. Stir together cola, buttermilk, and bourbon in a small bowl. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients in another bowl. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with cola mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition, stopping to scrape bowl as needed.

3. Pour batter into 3 lightly greased 12-cup Bundt brownie pans, filling each three-fourths full.
Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool in pans on a wire rack 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks, and cool 30 minutes.

4. Drizzle warm Bourbon-and-Cola Glaze over cakes.

Take note: Batter can be poured into 1 greased and floured 15-cup Bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. 

Bourbon-and- Cola Glaze:
Cook ¼ cup butter, 3 Tbsp. cola soft drink, and 2 ½ Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until butter melts. Remove from heat; stir in 1 Tbsp. bourbon. Beat in 2 cups plus 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Makes 1 ¾ cups

Friday, May 8, 2015

Barilla® Penne with Pancetta, Peas and Parmesan Sauce


It's strange to think that on Sunday, I'll be celebrating my first Mother's Day as a mother. Strange because the more I think about it, the more I'm certain that moms are superheroes... and, I haven't checked the mail today, but no one has sent me my cape just yet.

Sure, giving birth to a child automatically throws you into the category of "mother", but the truth is there's so much more to the role that isn't related to biology. While some women become mothers through the physical act of labor {already a superhuman feat, in my opinion}, others adopt the role when they take children into their homes and hearts without so much as a second thought. The method by which one steps into the part is not nearly as important as what follows -- the exhibiting of those "super powers."

Because what follows is a fine balancing act of love and learning. Tenderness and toughness. Self esteem developing and character building. It's a task that requires enough sacrifice to better the life of another while maintaining a sense of self. It requires forgiveness even when you're angry, patience even when you're frazzled, strength even when you're fragile and confidence even when you're uncertain. All without the help of a handbook! Imagine.

My superhero mother after giving birth to all nearly-ten-pounds of me.
Only a mom can get everything done with very little time... so they must be able to freeze the clock when we're not looking. Moms can take a little bit of love and divide it among each of the people in their lives... and never run out. Magic. Not all moms are doctors...but they can heal wounds, mend broken hearts and stitch us together when we feel broken. Amazing.

Our mind-reading moms know when to step in and when to let us figure it out on our own; they can often tell when we need words of encouragement or when we need to be taken down a notch. Wise. They fly to our side when we call for help and assist us when there are villains who are trying to take us down. Daring.

Me & my older sister with my superhero aunt.
The truth is, moms aren't perfect...they're perfectly human, though you'd never guess it by their daily actions.  Now that I'm one myself, I know for a fact that they don't have all the answers, and that quite often, they're struggling with the questions themselves. But somehow -- whether they know a little or a lot -- they have the ability to make us feel like they've got it all under control.

"Superhero" Abuela & my son, Cole.
I've got a hard act to follow as I learn the ropes, but I can only hope that some of the "super powers" I've witnessed in my own mom and in the amazing women in my life rub off on me so I can keep the tradition going.

Practicing for my future role!
In the meantime, I'll wear my apron while I wait for my cape to arrive! :)

This sumptuous dish is surprisingly uncomplicated and so rich and decadent, perfect for celebrating some of the ladies that we admire!


Barilla® Penne {available at Walmart} makes the ideal vehicle for this rich Parmesan cream sauce. Pancetta adds a salty bite while tender peas sweeten up each mouthful -- it's a little bit of everything you love on a fork! {To be completely honest, I'm not normally a fan of peas, but they work so well here that I didn't give them a second thought!}


Whether you are a mom earning your cape, or are feasting in honor of those who have played an important role in your life, I hope your Mother's Day is filled with all things wonderful, including this sumptuous pasta dish!


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Barilla. The opinions and text are all mine.


Barilla® Penne with Pancetta, Peas and Parmesan Sauce

8 oz. Barilla® Penne Pasta
1 oz. diced pancetta
1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup half & half
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 ounces shredded parmesan, plus extra for garnish
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 teaspoon dried mint or 1 teaspoon fresh mint

1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, heat a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and cook until browned and crisp. Once cooked, remove pancetta with a slotted spoon and place onto a paper-lined plate to drain, keeping rendered fat in the skillet. {You may want to reserve a tiny bit for garnish.}

3. Reduce heat. To the fat in the skillet, add garlic and cook for just under a minute until fragrant. Add 2 tablespoons of flour and whisk until smooth; cook for about a minute. Pour in half & half while whisking to avoid lumps. Pour in chicken broth and whisk until mixture is mostly smooth, and allow to simmer and thicken slightly {about a minute}. Add Parmesan and whisk until mixture is smooth and cheese is melted.

4. Add frozen peas and mint to the cheese sauce -- the heat of the sauce will thaw out the peas and should only take a few minutes to heat them all the way through. Stir in cooked pancetta. When pasta is cooked, drain and add directly to the sauce, stirring gently to coat pasta.

Garnish with extra pancetta and cheese and serve hot!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Barilla® Spaghetti with Chicken & Spicy Tomato Sauce


In honor of Mother's Day, I've got a recipe that's great for bringing all of the special women in your life -- both seasoned cooks and beginners -- into the kitchen. In my family, celebrating with food is one of the ultimate ways to show love and appreciation, and I can thank the ladies in my family for helping me cultivate my passion for food.

I often say my Abuela {grandma} taught me how to cook. But just recently, as I was standing at my kitchen sink measuring out water for a simple pot of rice, I realized that my claim is not entirely true.

I remember the exact moment I first asked Abuela how to make rice as I had watched her do so many times before. "Oh, it's easy," she told me in Spanish. "You just heat a splash of oil in a pot, then toss in your rice. Give it a good mix, and when it sizzles a little, add your liquid. Bring it to a boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer until it's cooked."

I paused for a moment and reflected thoughtfully on the information I felt I might be missing. "A splash of oil, you say? But how much is that?"

She lifted her hand up as if she were holding an invisible bottle of oil, tilted the bottle for a second -- just enough to measure out the correct amount needed as if she were counting beats of music in her head -- then pulled it upright again with a flourish.

I gave her a look. "Okay...but the water? How much?"

As patient as she always was with me, I could tell she was starting to grow slightly annoyed at my pestering over seemingly unimportant {to her} details when she had already given me a satisfactory answer to my initial question.

"Well... It depends on the amount of rice. But if you're making this much," she gestured with her hands to hold an imaginary pile of rice, "then I'd say about a cup and two fingers."

Wait a minute. I had heard of lot of measurements -- a pinch, a pat, a scant amount -- but I had never heard of measuring any ingredient in fingers. Well, except a stiff whiskey drink, and Abuela had never been a drinker.

I laughed at her directions, and she defended herself. "You asked me how I do it. And that's how I do it."

Accurate, perhaps, but hardly helpful for a novice in the kitchen. Regardless of my cluelessness and armed with meaningless measurements, I forged ahead and added rice to the (very short) list of items I "knew" how to make... in theory, anyway. Because the fact is that I had more attempts at making what my husband calls "Abuela Rice" than any individual who considers herself somewhat intelligent should.

We had sticky rice. Crunchy rice. Black-bottomed rice. Toasty rice, and rice masquerading as soup.
Each time, I'd do my best to channel Abuela, and each time I'd pretty much fail.

Until one day... I didn't. The day finally came when I lifted the lid off the pot, fluffed up the rice with a fork, and thought to myself, "Now this looks like something I recognize."

In my kitchen, "a cup and two fingers" of water (which translates by measurement into roughly 1 1/4 cups, in case you were wondering) will always be the rule of thumb... though that's not the finger I use for measuring! That's how my Abuela "taught" me to make it, even though most of the learning happened on my own. Maybe that's what she had intended from the beginning.

Since then, she's retired from her family cooking duties {she is 91 years old and only recently lost much of her mobility}, but she's entrusted me with other recipes that are special to my family and even given her seal of approval on my renditions, which she kindly passes off as delicious.

But I don't kid myself. No one can cook like Abuela. Some of us learn to cook while others are born with the ability to take food and create a little magic like Abuela always has.


Luckily, this recipe for Spaghetti with Chicken & Spicy Tomato Sauce requires way less precision than Abuela's rice thanks to Barilla® Spaghetti. Chicken simmers away in a savory sauce with just a hint of spiciness, creating a tender-but-hearty addition to spaghetti. Easy to find at your local Walmart and even easier to cook, it's a pantry staple for fast family meals. Just a quick boil and you have delicious, al dente pasta that's perfect for pairing with seafood, veggies or chicken, as it is in this dish.


Celebrate togetherness this weekend gathered around the table!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Barilla. The opinions and text are all mine.


Barilla Spaghetti with Chicken & Spicy Tomato Sauce 
Recipe provided by Barilla®

1 box Barilla® Spaghetti
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 chicken thighs, boneless diced into ½-inch pieces
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves only, divided
1 jalapeño pepper, or to taste, sliced
½ cup white wine, dry (optional)
2 pounds plum tomatoes, crushed
Salt to taste
½ cup Cotija cheese, grated

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a skillet, brown the chicken thighs with ½ of the olive oil. Add ½ tablespoon oregano and jalapeño pepper; after one minute, stir in white wine (optional); reduce to half. Add tomatoes, one cup of water, season with salt and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta and toss with sauce. Stir in remaining olive oil and cheese. Garnish with remaining oregano before serving.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Iced Almond-Lemon Loaf Cake | Stonyfield + OXO


Yogurt has always been one of my favorite go-to snacks when I need something quick and easy. And with the new yogurt flavors that can be found in the grocery store today, they can even make a great dessert! But did you know that yogurt also makes a great ingredient to cook and bake with?

I had the chance to take a peek at a great new cookbook titled Yogurt Culture by Cheryl Sternman Rule and was inspired to go beyond the spoon with this versatile ingredient!


I often dollop plain Greek yogurt on savory dishes for a little extra tang the way you'd use sour cream. It's a great addition to lightened up dips and sauces, too!

But you know that baking rules my heart... and it just so happens that yogurt works perfectly in baked recipes and even no-cook mousses, puddings and frozen treats!

With the help of my friends at Stonyfield and OXO {who sent me a handy-dandy little whisk just in time since mine had seen better days}, I gathered up some simple ingredients and baked up this fragrant loaf cake -- just one of the many delightful recipes you'll find in Yogurt Culture. Yogurt makes an appearance twice here; there's some in the batter and even a bit in the icing! The aroma of sweet almond extract permeates the buttery cake and the lemon zest brightens up the flavor giving it a citrusy zing.



This cake would be perfect for serving at a brunch {maybe for Mother's Day?!} or cutting into pieces and using in a trifle. It's also amazing with a little bit of extra vanilla yogurt spooned on top... because why not add just a little more yogurt?!


If you're ready to get to know yogurt on a different level, I highly recommend checking out Yogurt Culture and discovering the many sides of this household favorite!


Disclosure: As aI received a copy of Yogurt Culture for review along with a whisk from OXO and product coupons from Stonyfield. As always, the opinions read here are all my own!

Iced Almond-Lemon Loaf Cake
Makes one 9-inch loaf
Recipe barely adapted from Cheryl Sternman Rule's Yogurt Culture

For the cake
10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus soft butter for greasing the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup almond meal {or enough ground almonds to make 1/2 cup}
Zest of 2 large lemons
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup plain whole-milk or low-fat vanilla yogurt (not Greek)

For the icing
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon plain whole-milk or low-fat Vanilla yogurt (not Greek)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Prep. Preheat the oven to 350°F, with a rack in the center position. Generously butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.

Mix the batter. Into a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk in the almond meal and lemon zest. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, cream the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides as needed. Beat in the almond extract. Slowly beat in half the dry ingredients, then the yogurt, then the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1 to 2 minutes to develop some structure.

Bake the cake. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until risen and lightly browned and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Slide a knife around the perimeter and invert the cake onto the rack. Cool completely, then flip right side up.

Ice the cake. Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a medium bowl. Whisk in the yogurt and then the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the icing is smooth, thick, and drips slowly from the whisk. Wave the whisk over the cake to drizzle lines of icing, or scrape the icing over the cake and smooth with an offset spatula.

Store. Once the icing firms, cover the cake with plastic wrap. It can be kept at room temperature for up to 48 hours, or covered with a layer of foil and refrigerated for up to 5 days.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Baked Churro Dulce de Leche Ice Cream Sandwiches


If you clicked over here because of the title of this post, you can stop rubbing your eyes. You read that correctly!

Most of the time, my recipe ideas come while I'm doing something else -- laundry, vacuuming, changing a diaper {I promise I won't tell you if that's the case...}. But sometimes when I'm having a hard time coming up with something new, I'll start playing word associations until inspiration strikes.

Cinco de Mayo... Mexico.

Mexico... cinnamon.

Cinnamon... churros.

Churros... fried.

Fried... tight jeans. {Sad face.}

Tight jeans... bake instead.

Baking... hot.

Heat... Ice Cream.

Ice Cream... Sandwich.

DONE.

And so, ta-da!

Baked Churro Dulce de Leche Ice Cream Sandwiches. You're welcome.

With Cinco de Mayo coming up {and the weather being pretty hot and steamy where I live}, this just evolved naturally. As will your trip to the grocery store to get the ingredients...


Lightened up cinnamon sugar churros are baked to form the base of these creative ice cream sandwiches. Though I originally intended to make my own dulce de leche ice cream, I wound up picking up a store bought version as a short cut. {Thank you, Häagen-Dazs!} Because you won't want to delay getting these in your mouth.



Baked Churro Dulce de Leche Ice Cream Sandwiches
Churros barely adapted from SprinkleBakes

1 cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Store bought Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare 2 baking sheets by lining with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. In a small saucepan, combine water, brown sugar, salt and butter and bring to a boil until butter is melted.

3. Remove from heat and add in the flour, stirring vigorously with a wooden or silicone spoon until it is fully incorporated. You should end up with a thick paste-like dough that pulls away from the sides.

4. Place the dough into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and allow to cool for a minute or two. Mix in the vanilla extract. Crack in eggs one at a time, until they are fully incorporated and the batter is smooth {about 2 minutes}.*

5. Scoop mixture into a piping bag fitted with a large open star tip. Pipe a swirl or pinwheel shape -- I made mine about 2 1/2 inches in diameter -- leaving a few inches of room between each churro. Continue until you use up all of the dough. Remember, they'll be sandwiches so try to make them roughly the same size so they have a matching pair.

6. Bake for about 12-14 minutes or until puffed and brown. The insides should be moist but not completely doughy. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon and set aside.

7. When the churros are fully baked, immediately toss them into the cinnamon sugar to coat.* Remove them and place onto cooled baking pan until ready to create sandwiches.

8. When the churros are cooled, take a scoop of dulce de leche ice cream and place it on one churro base. Top with another churro to create a sandwich and press lightly to adhere. Serve immediately or keep frozen until ready to serve.

Notes:
*You can pipe the dough right away, but I found that letting it sit for about 20-30 minutes allows it to firm up a bit and produces a nicer "swirl".

*If your cinnamon sugar is not sticking the the churro, spray the churro lightly with cooking spray {I just use my Misto} before tossing in the cinnamon sugar mixture.