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My Top 5 Ice Cream Treats Around Westminster, MD

5) F’real Milkshake, Green n’ Go Convenience Store

            I don’t know whether it’s the ice cream or just the awesome milkshake-making-machine, but this stuff is seriously cool. The consistency is great (especially since you get to pick your own), and there are a variety of different flavors. Add in the convenience of it being right on campus, and you’ve got the makings of a great frozen treat.

4) Cookies n’ Cream milkshake, Chickfila

            This is good all year round, but I especially like in the wintertime when Chickfila introduces the Peppermint Cookies and Cream shake. With or without peppermint, though, this shake makes a wonderful addition to an already delicious Chickfila meal, the perfect complement to those salty waffle fries. And who doesn’t love the whipped cream and cherry on top?

3) All Lovin’ No Oven, Cold Stone Creamery

            For anyone who isn’t familiar with Cold Stone, first of all, go and find one. Right now. This post can wait until you come back. Cold Stone Creamery takes rich, delicious ice cream and mixes in a variety of ingredients, allowing you either choose one of their signature flavors or create your own by choosing your own mix-ins. My personal favorite, All Lovin’ No Oven, mixes Cake Batter ice cream, chocolate chip cookie dough, fudge, and whipped cream in a delicious combination that brings back all those memories of licking the bowl clean after Mom just made cake or cookies. Or, you know, after you made them at home last week.

2) Super S’mores Gelati, Rita’s Italian Ice

            When I worked at Rita’s during high school and my first two years of college, I had lots of time to experiment with different flavors, combinations, and mix-ins that the general public didn’t necessarily get to try. By far my favorite of these was my version of the S’mores Gelati, traditionally a layering of S’mores flavored Italian Ice and either chocolate or vanilla frozen custard. My version took things a step farther and added crushed Nilla Wafers and hot fudge to the mix. Combined with the marshmallowy flavor of the ice, these completed the s’more-like taste of the treat, with the Nilla Wafers standing in perfectly for graham crackers.

1) Peanut Butter Ripple, Hoffman’s Ice Cream

            A traditional family-owned ice cream shop, Hoffman’s has been the place to go for ice cream in the Westminster area for decades. (It’s actually the place where I had my first ice cream cone on my first birthday, so I’m kind of partial to it). With its cozy, family-friendly atmosphere and large parking lot, complete with a wall that’s perfect for sitting on to enjoy your ice cream in the summer, the place itself is definitely ideal. And then there’s the ice cream, especially my favorite flavor, Peanut Butter Ripple, a glorious blend of vanilla ice cream and huge chunks of fresh, creamy peanut butter. It’s actually great when it’s combined in a double scoop with Cake Batter ice cream, which sounds strange, but the salty peanut butter forms a great complement to the overwhelmingly sweet cake batter, making it my number one favorite local ice cream treat.

Do you know of an Westminster ice cream shop or dish that didn’t make the list? Let me know about it in the comments!

Homemade Ice Cream: Easy and Cheap!

Last week I set out to tackle two of the major problems that seem to have been coming up continuously in my mission to find Westminster’s best ice cream: time and money. While it’s nice to go out with some friends and get an ice cream cone, it’s often difficult to find the time to do it. And as I mentioned in my last post, treats like the F’real milkshakes at McDaniel’s new Green n’ Go convenience store are a little steep in price.

It turns out that the perfect solution to both of these problems came to me when I was setting up my Pinterest a few weeks ago, and I repinned this recipe for homemade peanut butter cup ice cream.

To me, the idea of homemade ice cream sounded complicated (and potentially nightmarish) from the start. I imagined myself standing in my kitchen, covered in various ingredients and slaving over a bowl of almost-ice-cream, failing miserably at an attempt to create what was supposed to be a delicious dessert. Despite my reservations and general lack of cooking skills, I was willing to give it a try, and by the time I read the part of the recipe that implied I would need to spend $40-50 on an ice cream maker, my taste buds were set, and there was no turning back.

Luckily (for my taste buds as well as my wallet), a couple of Google searches proved that there are actually several ways to make ice cream without a machine. (I used this one, but I found numerous others). So, armed with a recipe, some good instructions, and a few minutes of free time, I set out to see if perhaps the Westminster area’s best ice cream could be made in my own kitchen.

Part 1: Creating the mixture

Time: 15 minutes

Cost: $3

Most of the ingredients (sugar, milk, vanilla extract, peanut butter, and Reese’s cups) are things my family keeps on hand pretty reliably, so I only had to buy the heavy whipping cream. I also substituted the sugar and whole milk the recipe called for with Splenda and low fat milk in an attempt to make something a little less fattening. I chopped eight Reese’s cups in a food processor to add into the mixture, but I ended up stirring in some more mini Reese’s cups toward the end when I realized what I had was a little too finely crushed.

The first step was to mix all of the ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl with an electric mixer. Once that was finished, I poured the mixture (which resembled melted ice cream) into a 9x13 cake pan, covered it in foil, and slid it into the freezer.

Part 2: Freezing

Time: 2 hours

Additional Cost: $0

Now that I had made my mixture and begun freezing it, the only thing left to do was to make sure I stirred it every half hour until it had achieved an ice-cream-like consistency. Since the recipe said to mix in the Reese’s cup pieces after pouring the mixture into the ice cream maker, I decided to give my mixture a little time to freeze before I poured them in. This worked out fine, but it probably would have been okay to mix them in before freezing as well.

 

The one downside to the freezer method of ice cream making is that there is no instant gratification. I had to take the pan out of the freezer every thirty minutes and stir it with a spatula, but in the end it gave me plenty of time to study while I was waiting, which was good. 

After two hours, my once soupy mixture had achieved a consistency similar to soft-serve ice cream and was finally ready to be eaten. It was delicious, and it was a big hit with my family (all of whom were really impressed at my apparent “skill” in making this simple treat), so it’s definitely something I’ll be trying again in the future. It cost me $3 to serve ten people, and to top it all off, no one could even tell that I hadn’t used real sugar.

Interested in trying it out for yourself? Check out my Pinterest for some more recipes I know I’m dying to try the next time I get a chance.

Review: Green n’ Go Brings New Ice Cream to McDaniel Campus

Don’t have a car to travel off campus for your ice cream fix? No worries. The new Green n’ Go convenience store has brought some quality ice cream right to the McDaniel campus.

I have to admit that when I heard Dr. Casey say over the summer that we were getting a F’real machine in the Green n’ Go, I was more than a little excited. I had never had a F’real milkshake before, but just by the sound of it I knew it would be cool. (No pun intended.)

So yesterday, as I was feeling the effects of endless studying and a nagging cold, I decided that it was as good a time as any to give it a try. 

Once I had paid for my shake, I went over to the machine, which has a touch screen for instructions, and picked out a flavor (Chocolate Caramel Crunch), took off the lid, and placed the cup into the machine. I liked being able to choose the thickness of my milkshake (I went with the medium option, but the next time I go I’ll probably go for extra thick).

Once I had done that, the machine took my cup, and in a minute or so it presented me with a delicious milkshake blended to my satisfaction. Pretty awesome. Add to that the fact that the freezer in the Green n’ Go is well-stocked with pints of Ben and Jerry’s, and you’ve got yourself a great place to grab some ice cream to help you de-stress.

The one downside, I think, is the price. $4 for a cup about the size of a small McDonald’s soda is a little steep for the budget of the average college student, if you ask me. But if you’re willing to pay the price every once in a while, I think the F’real machine could be a great addition to the McDaniel campus.

Have you been to the Green n’ Go or tried one of these shakes? Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Okay, so here’s the deal. It’s midterm time, and extra time to run around visiting ice cream shops has been pretty hard for me to come by lately, so for this post I’ve decided to highlight some of my favorite store-bought ice cream products.

1)   Drumsticks (or, as my mom calls them, Nutty Buddies)

 A classic store-bought frozen snack, the Drumstick is a must-have in any ice cream lover’s kitchen. Sure, they might get a little jostled and cracked during transport, and half the nuts always seem to fall off the top when I open the package, but if you ask me, that chocolatey nugget waiting at the bottom of the cone makes up for everything.

These actually come in lots of different varieties, too; plain vanilla with nuts on top is a thing of the past. They are available in chocolate and strawberry, with extra caramel or fudge in the center of the ice cream, and even with pretzel or cookie pieces on top instead of nuts. My favorite, though, is the Super Nugget variety, which has twice as much chocolate in the bottom of the cone. What could be more delicious?

2)   2) Ben & Jerry’s

 

Okay, when I’m not doing school work for going out for ice cream, I’m usually earning some money by managing the cashiers at a Walmart that just opened up a new grocery section this summer. And what do you think was the item we were most excited to see appear in the freezers? Single-serve Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

This stuff is simple, delicious, and convenient. It even comes with it’s own cute little plastic spoon, so it’s perfect for grabbing at break time, or any time when you might want to limit yourself to just a tiny little ice cream fix.

I have two gripes: 1) It doesn’t come in very many flavors. Granted, I’ll probably never get tired of chocolate chip cookie dough or fudge brownie ice cream to the point that I won’t buy these anymore, but it would be nice to see some Peanut Butter Cup, Phish Food, or Half-Baked sometime. 2) It’s way cheaper to buy the big container.

3)   3) And the random one that I just discovered the other day… Reese’s Ice Cream Bars

When these appeared in the frozen section at work, I’ll admit I was a little apprehensive. Something about peanut butter flavored ice cream usually reminds me a little too much of coffee for some reason, but these were pumpkin-shaped, so I went for it anyway.

And they were delicious. Not only did the peanut butter ice cream taste like peanut butter, but I’m pretty sure there was some real peanut butter blended in with it. Very rich, but very authentic. 

Those are my favorite store-bought ice cream treats this week. What are yours?

Be sure to stay tuned for some reviews of actual local ice cream shops in the coming week!

"It’s too cold for Ice Cream!"

We’ve all heard it before. Fall has begun, the temperatures outside are dropping by the second, and you’re hanging out with a group of friends when one of them suggests going out for a delicious ice cream sundae (or some such frozen dessert), and someone inevitably says, “It’s too cold for ice cream!” 

It’s pretty easy to tell that business drops off for ice cream shops in the winter; just ask anyone who has worked for one, and they’ll tell you how as the year goes on the bustling mobs of summer customers dwindles down to just a few regulars who come in as part of their daily routine.  Lots of ice cream and frozen dessert stores, like snowball stands, or most Rita’s Italian Ice shops, close for the winter and reopen in the spring. (The new Rita’s in Westminster, which I’ll be visiting and blogging about very soon, is actually staying open this year!)

Heck, people even stop Googling ice cream as much in the winter, as this chart from Google Trends shows (the peak is in July, and it drops off pretty quickly after that):

But it is for precisely this reason that fall and winter are just as good for ice-cream-eating as spring and summer ever were. I mean, who doesn’t want to go for an ice cream cone and find that you don’t have to wait in line to get it because everyone else in the world is clearly not as passionate about frozen desserts are you are?

Now, that last part can be frustrating, but so is waiting in a ten-minute line to get that delicious mint chocolate chip cone you’ve been craving all day, only to find out that the person who ordered before you took the very last scoop. Personally, I’d rather be a little cold.

And anyway, who said you had to eat the ice cream outside in the snow? Nobody. I’m just as happy taking it to the car and eating it with the heat cranked up. Sure, it might melt a little faster than if you were standing outside, but it can’t be any worse than sitting outside on a hot day in the middle of July.

 Bottom line: It’s never too cold for the true ice cream addict to get his or her fix, and I can’t wait to go out into Westminster and find the best places to go for it.

What flavor of ice cream to you crave all year round? Check out this sweet infographic to find out what that might say about your personality.

Happy National Ice Cream Month
National Ice Cream Month Infographic By Ultimate Coupons

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