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Ella and I are loving our family movie nights – we always do a themed meal, along with a craft and dessert. Today I wanted to share with you a balanced take on “ice cream for dessert” with dessert-inspired entrees and side dishes for your own Ice Cream Family Movie Night!
Our family movie nights have become about more than just dinner and a movie. They are a family engagement that we look forward to every week. We enjoy planning them, spending time together preparing them, and of course, having movie night together.
Usually, if a grandparent invites Ella to do something fun she jumps at the opportunity, but even she reserves Friday nights for family movie night. I’m looking forward to this being a family tradition for years to come, so I am trying to ensure that these nights are fun & exciting, while also being sustainable enough to do every week.
We grabbed everything we needed to plan our family ice cream night at Walmart. In addition to a new movie and some nail polish for “ice cream manicures,” we grabbed four varieties of EDY’S® SLOW CHURNED® from the ice cream aisle (the second frozen aisle at our store):
- EDY’S SLOW CHURNED Caramel Delight Light Ice Cream
- EDY’S SLOW CHURNED Vanilla Light Ice Cream
- EDY’S Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream
- EDY’S Baby Ruth Ice Cream
I really like that EDY’S Ice Cream is made with fresh milk and cream with no rBST, artificial colors or flavors, and is free of GMO Ingredients. After making so much of my own ice cream (like our no-churn blueberry pie ice cream), I’ve started noticing when store-bought ice cream uses less than quality ingredients, so I really enjoy that EDY’S is “simply made, simply delicious.”
I decided to create a complete meal around the creamy vanilla flavor of EDY’S® SLOW CHURNED® Vanilla Light Ice Cream – creating a balsamic-vanilla chicken sauce, a creamy vanilla mac and cheese with a crunchy topping, and then create a Double Chocolate Caramel Brownie inspired by EDY’S SLOW CHURNED Caramel Delight Light Ice Cream to serve along with the ice cream for dessert!
Vanilla-Balsamic Chicken Recipe
This is an unexpectedly delicious twist on chicken. Usually, when we think of vanilla we think “sweet” and “dessert” but the addition of the balsamic vinegar allows the vanilla to become really versatile. This is a truly harmonious dish, so feel free to adjust the seasonings and quantities as best suit your tastes.
To make vanilla-balsamic chicken, gather:
- 1/4 cup PLUS 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/3 cup PLUS 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons orange juice
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 Tablespoon flour
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
Place the 1/4 cup chicken broth and 1/3 cup balsamic in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, orange juice, 1/2 of the vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Let the mixture bubble and caramelize – pulling it off the heat before it burns, about 4-6 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 1 Tablespoon of the butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, add the garlic, and cook your chicken breasts until browned on each side, and cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate.
Add the remaining butter and flour to the skillet and stir until cooked – do not add the other ingredients until the flour has taken on a brown color. You can let it brown as dark as you’d like, just ensure that you are stirring and watching it to prevent burning.
Pour your heavy cream and remaining chicken broth and balsamic into the flour mixture, along with the remaining vanilla. Stir well and simmer until a cohesive sauce forms. (Adding more chicken broth or cream if needed.) Taste and adjust with salt and pepper.
Serve the chicken with a generous topping of the vanilla-balsamic sauce.
Vanilla Macaroni & Cheese
I love a crunchy bread crumb topping on top of a creamy macaroni and cheese, so why not use some vanilla wafer cookies to get that crunch?! You could potentially add vanilla to the macaroni and cheese as well, but I found the vanilla crunch was the perfect complement to the slightly salty and creamy mac n’cheese.
To make your own vanilla macaroni and cheese, gather:
- 2 cups macaroni noodles
- 2 cups cheese of choice (feel free to use a couple different varieties)
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup milk
- Salt, to taste
- Handful vanilla wafer cookies (enough to cover your dish’s surface area)
Boil a pot of water over high heat, and add the macaroni, reducing the heat to medium-high. Stir often until noodles reach your desired consistency, about 8-10 minutes.
Layer the macaroni and cheese in you casserole dish, alternating to ensure that when the cheese melts all of the pasta will be covered. Dot the butter overtop and pour over the milk.
Crush the vanilla wafers (I placed mine in a sandwich bag and rolled over them with a rolling pin) and use to top the casserole.
You can serve as-is, or bake for some additional crunch at 350F for 20 minutes.
Double Chocolate Caramel Brownies Recipe
I used a combination of ice cream topping caramel and caramel candies (the kind you used to get at Halloween) to really amp up the caramel experience in these decadent brownies. These are inspired by the Caramel Delight Light Ice Cream and also our Double Chocolate Caramel-stuffed Cookies recipe.
To make your own double-chocolate caramel brownies, gather:
- 3/4 cup coca powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2/3 cup butter, melted
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 and 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups milk chocolate chips
- 12 caramel squares
- 3 Tablespoons caramel ice cream topping
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease and line a casserole dish with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine cocoa and baking soda and mix in 1/3 cup of the melted butter.
Add boiling water and stir until well blended.
Stir in sugar, eggs and remaining butter. Add flour, vanilla and salt. Stir in chocolate chips and then pour into prepared casserole dish.
Drizzle the caramel topping overtop of the brownies and use a spoon or knife to swirl it into the brownie batter.
Chop up the caramel squares and push into the brownie batter.
Bake 35-40 minutes until brownies appear set and begin to pull away from the edges of the pan.
Cool before cutting into serving squares.
Does your family have family movie nights? Would you have this “ice cream for dinner” inspired meal?
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