One of the best gifts that we received when we got married was the ice cream maker attachment for our Kitchen Aid mixer (thank you A&A!). We use this thing ALL the time, like tonight for example, I made ice cream for our Father's day BBQ at my parents'.
It is super easy to use. First, the bowl is in our freezer at all times so it is always ready to use. The night before I want to make the ice cream I mix up the base, simmer 1 quart half and half and 3/4 of a cup of sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. I let this mixture cool in the refrigerator overnight (this is super important, if the base isn't cold enough it will never freeze in the ice cream maker - I've tried and it was an epic fail).
The next day add half a cup of milk (the original recipe suggests whole milk, but I use skim to save on the calories and I think it tastes just fin, I swear my husband has never complained, and that man can be awfully picky about his ice cream), abd 1 to 2 tablespoons of vanilla, depending on how strong of a fLavor you want. Hook up the mixer attachment and turn the mixer to the slowest setting, pour in the ice cream mixture and run until the mixture has thickened - typically 20 minutes to half an hour.
This is the recipe that I use as the base for all of my ice cream favors. Sometimes I add extracts, candy pieces, fruit, you name it. The fun part is experimenting to see what works and what doesn't!