Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Besides the great vegetables that we have been getting from our CSA one of the benefits is being able to go out and enjoy the farm and take advantage of the u-pick crops.  The kids love going out to the farm, there is a great play area for the kids and two stocked ponds that guarantee fishing success.  So, even though it is a bit of a drive  it is always worth it.
This weekend we ventured out to the farm to pick blueberries.  This was the first time the kids had picked blueberries and they loved it.  The bushes were loaded which made for easy picking.  Their attention span was pretty short, but we managed to get 6 pints.  After much debate over using all the blueberries for one pie or making a lot of little treats we decided on lots of little treats.

First up was blueberry cobbler for dessert.  Cobblers are wonderful, so easy and so versatile.  The type of berry used can be changed, berry varieties can be mixed and stone fruits are just as wonderful.

Blueberry Cobbler
1 pint Blueberries
1/4 c. plus 3 Tbs. Sugar
1 tsp. Lemon zest
1 1/2 c. plus 1 Tbs All-Purpose Flour
2 tsp. Baking Powder
6 Tbs. Butter - cold, cut into small pieces
2 c. Heavy Cream
Sugar (Optional)

Preheat oven 375.  In small 8" square pan combine blueberries, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 Tbs. flour and lemon, gently toss to coat berries.  In medium mixing bowl mix remaining flour, sugar and baking powder together.  Add butter and blend with fingertips or biscuit cutter until sand like.  Add 1 3/4 c. heavy cream mix until just combined.  Drop mounds of dough over berries.  Brush with remaining sprinkle with sugar if desired.  Bake 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cereal Bowls

As I have mentioned in a previous post I recently received a sample of cereals from General Mills and My Blog Spark, well I was lucky enough to receive another package from them.  This time in addition to the sample of cereals the package also contained a set of spoons and 4 cereal bowls from Crate and Barrel.  The bowls are great and my kids think the fun colored spoons are the best, it's like we have moved to an upscale hotel that serves breakfast in a restaurant and not just a buffet in the lobby - my kids are only familiar with the lobby buffet type of hotel.

Leave a comment and your name will be entered to win this same package!

My Blog Spark challenged me to look at the the labels of these cereals to see what is really in cereals.  I usually don't read labels on food products.  When I shop I try to stick to the outer isles and limit the items I get from the inner isles.  I tend to think that the items that come from the middle of the store are our fun foods, our treats and special snacks.  I don't really look at the labels because I know we won't be eating many of these foods.  I have always viewed kids cereals as an item that are ok for you, but can contain a lot of sugar so it is best to limit the quantities.  In looking at the labels on these cereals I am learning that there might be more to them than I thought.  Even some of the more sugary ones don't contain as much sugar as I thought and do contain lots of  needed vitamins and minerals.

Are you a label checker?  What do you check for?  Do you have different criteria for breakfast foods?  Let me know and I will enter your name to win the bowls, spoons and cereal shown above!

Drawing will be held on the 24th!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cake Slice - Strawberry Cake

This month there were two options for the Cake Slice group, a Strawberry White Chocolate Cake and a Lime Chiffon.  Since I had an abundance of strawberries I opted to make the strawberry white chocolate cake.
This cake didn't wow me, I found it very sweet and sticky, but my family and the neighborhood kids enjoyed it and it disappeared in just over 24 hours.  I wouldn't recommend this cake if you have fresh beautiful strawberries you want to show off, but if you are looking for a recipe to use up super ripe berries it is perfect.


June’s Cake: Fresh Strawberry Cake with White Chocolate Chips
Print Ready
(Recipe from Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman)

1 egg
1 egg yolk
½ cup sour cream
½ tsp grated lemon zest
2 tsp vanilla extract
1½ cups all purpose flour
1½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
6 tbsp (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
8 ounces strawberries, stemmed and sliced
1 cup white chocolate chips or chunks

Method - Topping
Heat the oven to 350F. Grease an 8 inch square baking pan and dust it with flour, knocking out the excess.
Combine the egg, egg yolk, sour cream, lemon zest and vanilla in a large measuring jug and beat lightly. Combined 1¼ cups of flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
Combine the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric whisk on medium high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides when necessary.
With the mixer on medium low speed, pour the egg mixture into the bowl in a slow stream, stopping the mixer once or twice to scrape down the bowl.
Turn the mixer to low speed and add the flour mixture, ½ cup at a time. After the last addition mix for 30 seconds on medium speed.
Combine the strawberries and remaining ¼ cup flour in a medium bowl and toss to coat. Fold the flour covered berries along with the chocolate chips into the batter using a spatula.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake the cake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Let the cake cool ion the pan for about 5 minutes, invert it onto a wire rack and then turn it right side up to cool completely.
Cut into squares and serve.   

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Hotel Living

My kids are enjoying hotel life, we aren't on vacation they are just loving the cereal samples we recently received.   They are finding great joy in eating their breakfast out of the little bowls the cereal is packaged in and love pouring the milk out of the pitcher instead of the boring milk container.  I never thought this simple package would be such a big hit.  General Mills and Myblogspark has offered to give one of these cool prize packs to one of my readers, so if you want to score big points with your kids please leave a comment here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

June Secret Recipe Club

A couple of month's ago I stumbled across Amanda's Cookin and her Secret Recipe Club.  The concept of the club is that you are given you the name of a fellow blogger, you check out the site and choose your favorite recipe to try out.  This sounded like a fun way to find some new recipes so I decided to join in.

For June I got to check out Lady Behind the Curtain where I found lots of recipes to choose from.  It was a tough choice, but I decided to try the Barbecue Beef Sandwich.  I usually don't think about using a slow cooker in the summer, but this recipe made me realize there is no reason to put it away.  I made it on Saturday, we were gone all day and came home to a great barbecue dinner out on the deck. We served it with watermelon  and corn on the cob on the side.  I cheated a little and picked up some coleslaw, for me the only way to have a BBQ sandwich is to top it with cold, crunchy coleslaw.  It was the perfect meal to get summer started.

This makes a nice thick sauce filled with sweet molasses and tomato flavor.  I added some vinegar to give it a little tang and my husband and I added a little Pete's Hot Sauce to our portion to give it some heat.   Other than those two changes I kept the recipe as it is.  It is a nice recipe to keep on hand and perfect for satisfying  a mid-week BBQ craving.

Slow Cooker BBQ Beef Sandwiches
Printer Ready

2 pounds Beef - Boneless Chuck Roast
½ c.  Onions, chopped
2  Garlic cloves, chopped
¼  c.  Brown Sugar, packed
1 tsp. Dry Mustard
½  tsp. Salt
½  tsp. Pepper
2 c. Ketchup
¼  c. Worcestershire sauce
¼ c. Vinegar

Put beef in crock pot.  In small bowl combine remaining ingredients, stir to combine.   Pour mixture over beef.   Cook on low in crock pot for 6 – 8 hours.  Remove beef from crock pot and shred.  Combine shredded beef and sauce, serve on hamburger buns.

You can sign up to join in  the fun here and be sure to check out more of the wonderful recipes. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

CSA Week 1 -

We received our first  CSA boxes from Great Country  Farms and it was beautiful.  I am used to our produce delivery from Washington Green Grocer, which is always organic, fresh and filled with a wonderful assortment of fruits and vegetables.  Since WGC gets their produce from a variety of sources we were able to get an assortment of items and have some choice, to a limited extent, over what we would get.  With a CSA you get what you get and this is part of the reason I was always a little hesitant to join one.  At this point I am not able to depend on them as our sole source of produce, but that is ok because it is farmer's market season and we are lucky enough to have great markets throughout the week.
The first week we received strawberries, garlic scape, kale, lettuce, spring onions, asparagus and a small basil plant, which was a great surprise.
The basil plant went right into the herb garden, where it is thriving.  The strawberries went right into my kids' bellies.  They didn't even save me one, I had to eat the little bits leftover near the stem, not something I would do on ordinary strawberries, but these were so fresh it was worth it.  I roasted the asparagus with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and served it as a side, it was so incredibly fresh it needed very little done to it. I'm not a big fan of lettuce and was certain this would be the one item still in the fridge at the end of the week, but I am happy to report that I did use it all up by putting it on sandwiches and making a small salad.  The green onions were thrown in to my small salad and pretty much every other dish I made this week, again they really were much tastier than green onions you would pick up at the store.

The garlic scape was my challenge for the week.  At first I didn't think I had even received it.  I was looking for something that resembled garlic, but it turns out that scape is a beautiful green curly Q that resembles the top of a green onion.  After some searching around I decided to make garlic scape pesto, I was tempted by a white bean and scape dip, but went with the pest since my family needed dinner and probably wouldn't be happy with just dip. 

The pesto was wonderful.  Definitely garlicky, but not over the top.  I tossed it with pasta and grilled chicken, one of our favorite summer meals, and it was a nice change from the usual basil pesto.  

Garlic Scape Pesto

10 (approximately) Garlic Scapes chopped
1/4 c. Walnuts, lightly roasted
1/2 (approximately) Olive Oil
1/4 c. Grated Parmigiano cheese 

In a food processor combine garlic scapes and walnuts.  Blend until smooth and combined.  With the processor still running slowly add the olive oil forming a paste.  Scoop pesto into mixing bowl, gently mix in cheese.

Garlic Pesto Pasta and Chicken

1 1lb Box Penne Pasta
2 c. Chicken, cooked cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 c. Garlic Scape Pesto

Cook pasta following directions on box.  Strain pasta, reserving 1 cup pasta water.  Place pasta in serving bowl, add chicken and pesto.  Stir to combine adding pasta water as needed to help coat pasta and chicken.  

Monday, June 6, 2011

Breakfast and First Giveaway

I know breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but I have never found it to be a very exciting meal.  As a kid we had a very limited selection of cereals - Raisin Bran, Cheerios, Corn Flakes, or Rice Krispies. On vacations we would get an assortment of mini boxes and my brother and I would fight over the "fun" cereals, but beyond vacation our cereal selection was very limited and in my opinion, boring.  This limited selection and the fact that I don't like milk in cereal - I just can't deal with mushy cereal - quickly turned me against cereal and breakfast all together.  Once I could make my own breakfast choice I decided that breakfast should consist of coffee - lots of coffee - and maybe a little cookie or brownie.

When I became responsible for providing a nutritious start to the day for my three little ones, I knew I needed to provide them something other than coffee - coffee and toddlers don't mix. When my son was little we would have scrambled eggs, oatmeal, or waffles and yogurt, but cereal wasn't usually on the menu.  Like many other toddlers my kids carried around little container of O's to snack on throughout the day, but they didn't usually have them for breakfast.  Once my son started preschool and we had to get out the door earlier in the morning we started to change our breakfast selection and cereal began making an appearance on our morning menu.  Much to my surprise I returned to my roots, buying only Raisin Bran, Cheerios, Corn Flakes and Rice Krispies.  Everyone was happy, for a while, but quickly the kids became attracted to the boxes with bright colors and fun characters.  The Mom in me resisted for a while, thinking those cereals weren't healthy but the kid in me kept telling me to give in and let them have the fun stuff.  We have now come to a compromise, I buy my "root" cereals and they get to choose a fun cereal.  At breakfast time they get to choose one of each kind and either mix them together or have them separately.  I have come around to the fun cereals a little bit, despite the sugars in some types there are also some nutritional benefits.  I try to steer the kids away from the super sugary cereals at breakfast time and instead have them as a snack later in the day.  This is working for us for now, but I am sure it will quickly change and I will be looking for more breakfast options and coming up with more compromises.
So how do you start the day?  Do you and your kids have the same breakfast?  Do you make a healthy meal for your kids and then sneak a little cookie for yourself?

This is my first giveaway, so please excuse me if it is a little rough, but General Mills and myblogspark is providing one lucky winner 10 sample size cereals and a milk pitcher.  If you would like to win leave a comment by June 17th, you can let me know how you like to start your day or you can simply say hi.  Good luck and thanks for playing along!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Blue Ribbon Blue Berry Muffins

Like my oldest my youngest loves being in the kitchen.  She really enjoys helping, but having her help is always an interesting experience mainly because she is very fond of tasting everything.  I have mentioned this before, but she has a strange obsession with eating the flour while cooking, she doesn't ask for it any other time, just when I am cooking, but she is unique in many ways so I don't know why this flour obsession fascinates me so.

Today while her brother and sister where at school we made blueberry muffins.  I have many different recipes for blueberry muffins, but today I used my oldest recipe.  This is the recipe I used to win my first cooking competition.  When I was about 8 I entered these muffins in the 4-H county fair and won a blue ribbon.  I remember being very nervous while making them and was very worried they would stick to the pan and that the muffins wouldn't be uniform in size or have an even distribution of blueberries.  The batch of  muffins we made today, definitely would not have won, the berries sank to the bottom and the tops didn't have an even curve, but they were very tasty.

Blue Ribbon Blueberry Muffins
Print Version

1 c. Sugar
¼ c. Butter
1 c. Milk
1 Egg
1 ⅓ c. Flour
2 tsp. Baking Powder
¾ tsp. Cinnamon
¾ tsp. Nutmeg
½ tsp. Vanilla
¼ tsp. Salt
1 c. Blueberries

Preheat oven 375
Toss ⅓ cup flour with blueberries, set aside.  In small bowl whisk remaining flour, baking powder, cinnamon nutmeg and salt together.  In mixing bowl cream sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.  Add egg, mix until combined.  Add milk and vanilla, stir until combined then gradually add flour mixture, bl ending until just combined.  With rubber spatula gently stir in blueberries.  Fill lined muffin tins ¾ full.  Bake 20-30 minutes.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Chocolate Cake

My husband put in his yearly request for a super chocolate birthday cake for his coworker who loves chocolate.  I was looking for something different from my usual chocolate cake so I decided to check out Monica's recipes over at Lick the Bowl Good.  She has lots of wonderful recipes and her pictures are beautiful, I always want to run to the kitchen and start cooking after visiting her site.

I opted for her Triple Chocolate Cake and definitely made a good choice.  The cake was a mayonnaise cake and was wonderfully moist, the filling was a creamy white chocolate mousse and it was topped with a silky sour cream chocolate icing.  The icing is very soft and I followed Monica's suggestion and thickened it slightly with some confectioners sugar, I also let it rest for a while before spreading.  It was very nice to work with, I didn't try piping with it, but it was great to spread and firmed up on the cake very nicely.  The individual components were delicious and from what I heard they combined to make a very flavorful and yummy cake.  Mike commented that the cake wasn't too sweet, but was a little too chocolaty for his taste - I think when you have a cake named Triple Chocolate it is bound to be super chocolaty.  

 Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake
Recipe from Sky High Irresistible Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne via Monica at Lick the Bowl Good

2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ¼ tsp baking soda
1 ¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 ½ ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup milk
1 ¼ cups hot, strongly brewed coffee
2 eggs
1 cup mayonnaise (not low fat or fat free)
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
2 ¼ cups sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 9 inch round cake pans. Line the base of each pan with parchment.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Bring the milk to a simmer. Pour the hot coffee and milk over the chocolate. Let stand for a minute, then whisk until smooth. Let the mocha liquid cool slightly.

In a mixer bowl, beat together the eggs, mayonnaise and vanilla until well blended. Gradually beat in the sugar. Add the dry ingredients and mocha liquid alternately in 2 or 3 additions, beating until smooth and well blended. Divide the batter among the 3 prepared pans.

Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out almost clean. Let the cakes cool in their pans for 10-15 minutes before un-molding onto a wire rack and carefully peeling off the paper. Leave to cool completely.

White Chocolate Mousse
4 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 egg white
1 tbsp sugar

Melt the white chocolate with ¼ cup cream in a double boiler. Whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat and let the white chocolate cream cool to room temperature.

When it has cooled, beat the remaining ¾ cup cream until soft peaks form. In a clean bowl whip the egg white with the sugar until fairly stiff peaks form.

Fold the beaten egg white into the white chocolate cream, then fold in the whipped cream until blended. Be sure not to over mix.

Sour Cream Chocolate Icing
12 ounces bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate, chopped
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
2 tbsp light corn syrup
¼ cup half-and-half at room temperature
½ cup sour cream, at room temperature

Melt the chocolate with the butter and corn syrup in a double boiler over barly simmering water. Remove from the heat and whisk until smooth.

Whisk in the half-and-half and sour cream. Use while still soft.

To Assemble
Place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or serving plate. Cover the top evenly with half the white chocolate mousse, leaving a ¼ inch margin around the edge. Repeat with the second layer and the remaining mousse. Set the third layer on top and pour half the sour cream chocolate icing over the filled cake. Spread all over the sides and top. Don’t worry if some of the cake shows through. This first frosting is to seal in the crumbs, and is known as a crumb coat. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


I have been in a baking and blogging funk, I haven't had the motivation to do either.  I missed the May Cake Slice Bakers challenge due to lack of motivation and the things I have made recently have left a lot to be desired.   To help get myself motivated again I thought I would share some amazing fudge.  I don't have a recipe to share because this is a fudge from Murdicks that I won from an Amy Atlas giveaway.  Oh such yummy fudge.  I gave the kids a little taste and then hid the rest for myself.  I probably could have sat down and eaten the entire block in one sitting, but I was good and resisted that temptation.  If you do need a special gift Murdicks would be a good, you can order on-line, but even better would be a trip to Martha's Vineyard to pick some up at one of their store options.