Monday, September 1, 2014

Summer days :)

Summer has flown by so fast!  Between work and school it has seemed like I have just blinked and it is almost gone.  I was thankful for the opportunity to enjoy a Saturday just doing summer things like visiting with friends, going to a farmers market, and having a picnic.

A friend and I walked to a local farmers market in the morning.  Neither of us had been to it before and it was a nice mix of produce, baked goods, and even handmade items.  I was excited to find out that this might be a spot where I could sell some of my work next year!  And of course I came home with some goodies - delicious bread, sweet banana peppers for sandwiches, corn on the cob, and some red potatoes.

My friend Emily (who happens to blog over at the art of delicious) and her husband were traveling through town and stopped for a picnic lunch.  She had brought a spanish tortilla, which I had never heard of, and I made a trifle on the spur of the moment.  I ended up mixing cream cheese in with the pudding and using crumbled shortbread cookies as part of the cake (to learn more about trifles, check out this post).  Yum!

And last but not least it was nice to just enjoy the outdoors and all of the beauty God has grown in our garden...

Hope you can get out and enjoy His glory everywhere!

Monday, August 25, 2014

One of those days...

Do you ever have those days?  Days when things seem to just not go the way you thought?  When life is full of not-so-glorious or blog worthy moments?

I have those days sometimes.  Sometimes they’re accidentally self-inflicted.  Like when I decide that I should stay home and work on xyz because the grocery shopping can wait one more day.  There’s enough milk for breakfast and then I’ll just go to the store in the morning.  I’ll strain the yogurt and use the whey in place of the buttermilk for that blueberry breakfast cake I’m making for our anniversary day tomorrow.  No problem.  Right.  Until I start making dinner…

The shepherd’s pie that I’ve been planning to make for a while.  The pan I wanted was dirty so I had to wipe it out and then got the hamburger going.  It was all going along smoothly until I started the potatoes (yes, they were from a box… please don’t judge me!)…..and they took milk.  Exactly all the milk.  Hmmm… now there’s none for breakfast.  Should I run to the store and just try to do all of the shopping?   But then I probably wouldn’t get dinner done.  Ask David to get some on his way?  Waffling.  Indecision.  Like the dear he is, he says he’ll bring some home.
Wonderful!  So I continue with the dinner.

With the shepherd’s pie in the works I cut the strawberries because we hadn’t had short cake all summer and for whatever reason I had decided we really needed to have it today.  Going to the cupboard for the biscuit mix it feels awful light… but it should be enough for two.  I scan the directions.  Stink.  Milk.  I used all the milk.  So I add some yogurt and thin it with water.  Yogurt is basically thick milk right?!

He eventually comes home (milk in hand).  We have dinner and eat the strawberry shortcake (which was delicious).  He laughs and shakes his head when I tell him that I didn’t measure anything… tell him about the yogurt.

I still have sandwiches to make for tomorrow.  Chicken salad sandwiches.  Because there isn’t any cheese to go with the lunchmeat and I made egg salad yesterday because there wasn’t any cheese then either.  I had taken the chicken out of the freezer when I started working on all this but it’s still frozen in a hunk.  Onto the stove top it goes while I mix up the breakfast cake.

Into the mixer go the lemon zest, the sugar… butter is melting too. Flour. * groan * Flour is on the grocery list too.  I look askance at the bin… doesn’t look like two cups.  It isn’t.  But I’m committed now and our anniversary day is tomorrow so I decide to use whole wheat flour for the rest.  So I continue mixing, alternating with buttermilk.  Wait, buttermilk?  In my kitchen frenzy I never strained the yogurt…so no whey.  *sigh * Too late now.  Add a little lemon juice to the milk (since David was so wonderful to bring it home!) and call it good.  Into the oven it goes.

Meanwhile, the chicken is still not entirely thawed, but I decide not to care and toss it onto the grill.  I cut onions.  Do the dishes.  Notice the zest-ed lemon sitting on the counter and remember something I saw on Pinterest about cleaning your shower faucet with half a lemon and go off to try it.  Yes dear, those are lemon seeds in the bathtub.  Of course the chicken starts burning on the outside.  I do more dishes.

And finally I sit down.  I may kick myself for not just doing the grocery shopping, but I am thankful.  Thankful for milk.  Thankful for silly adventures.  Thankful he will be home from his meeting soon.  Thankful that we have more than enough.  Thankful for grace.  For all of this is grace.    

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Music for the waiting

Sometimes music speaks the truth our hearts need to hear.
                                                                           A little balm for your soul..... 

While I'm Waiting - John Waller

Give Me Faith

Blessings - Laura Story

Just As I Am (I Come Broken)

Sing Me A Love Song - BarlowGirl

Your Love Is Like A River - Third Day

Thrive - Casting Crowns

Monday, July 28, 2014

Blueberry Syrup

Recently I made another batch of ice cream and was again excited about making some fun flavor.  But when I asked David he said that he wanted vanilla so that we could put whatever we wanted on it for toppings.  While I agree with him, I still feel terribly un-excited about plain vanilla (as I have already expressed in my post about the coconut ice cream adventure), and had to do something to jazz it up.  This berry syrup was just the ticket!

I have made a raspberry version in the past for pancakes and it is delicious.  Blueberry was no less so :) I almost called this "lower carb berry syrup" because I did decrease the sugar by half from the original recipe.  It was still plenty sweet without it.  But let's be honest.  There is nothing low carb about this syrup.  It is after all... syrup.  And you're going to put it on ice cream or pancakes or some other carb anyway, so I guess that's ok.

Please pardon the poor quality of the pictures.  I made this when a friend was over and we were more concerned about eating it than about quality photography :)

Blueberry Syrup

Ingredients - 
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup water
12 to 16 oz of fresh blueberries (thawed from frozen would probably work too)

Directions -
Combine corn syrup and water in a pan over medium heat.  Bring to boiling and add the sugar.  Stir until dissolved.  Add berries and turn heat to low.  Cook 30 minutes stirring occasionally to break up the berries.  Allow to cool slightly.
Especially delicious when served warm over pancakes or ice cream!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Peach and Cherry Almond Cake

This coffee cake is something my Mom started making when I was in high school or so and I thought it was wonderful.  The way the fruit is arranged on top always makes it turn out so pretty too.  I remember making it for David when we were dating and eating it for Sunday morning breakfast on the patio.  It really is delicious and looking at these pictures makes me want to make it again!

The original recipe calls for peaches and plums but I only ever really remember eating it with peaches.  After having some cherry peach pie and happening upon a can of cherries in the mark down I thought I would give that combination a try.  It was really good, but the peaches alone also suit me just fine. 

Peach and Cherry Almond Cake

Ingredients - 
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter (softened)
1 cup and 2 tbsp sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp lemon zest, optional
1/4 tsp almond extract
2-4 peaches (cut in 3/4" slices) 
tart cherries (pitted)
powdered sugar, optional

Directions - 
Beat butter and 1 cup sugar until fluffy.  Beat in eggs one at a time until well blended.  Beat in lemon and almond.  Beat in dry ingredients until just blended.  Scrape into greased 9" springform pan and spread evenly.  Arrange peach slices and cherries in a circular pattern.  Sprinkle with remaining 2 tbsp of sugar.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 5 minutes or until toothpick comes clean.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.
Enjoy for breakfast or dessert! 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Coconut Ice Cream

This recipe was born in a moment of crisis.  Or several years ago on an island in the Southern Philippines.  It depends on how you look at it.  

Anyway, the crisis... 

A friend recently gave us her extra ice cream maker and I had been waiting for weeks in eager anticipation of being able to try it out.  I had even planned ahead and looked at several recipes (decadent chocolate of course!) to make sure I had the necessary ingredients because, at least so far, heavy cream is not a staple in the brick house.  So the day finally came and I excitedly opened the cupboard for the first ingredients... only to find a minuscule amount of cocoa powder.  Of course there must be more in the pantry.  But there wasn't.  My brain hunted for a plan B... no chocolate syrup either.  No fresh berries.  Not very much peanut butter.  What to do?!  Plain vanilla seemed so anti-climactic after all that anticipation.
I saw the shredded coconut... mmm, no.... that would make a weird texture in the ice cream.  But then I remembered that summer in the southern Philippines... remembered life in the village, swimming in the sea, riding down that mountain, laughing and crying with friends, looking up at the tall tall coconut palms - not nearly as high as His love for me... and I remembered rice three times a day and I remembered that wonderful coconut ice cream with the little chocolate chips that we had just that once. Yes!  That's it!  And I ran back to the cupboard and found the coconut extract. 

Whew... crisis averted.

Then I proceded to do what I have a bad habit of doing... I altered the recipe the first time I made it, without making it "the normal way" first.  Unsure of how much extract to put in I tasted the mixture before I put it in the fridge... and wanted to drink that wonderfully sweet and rich coconut milk right then and there :)  However, I did refrain and waited until after I watched with the wonderment of a silly school girl as it churned and was magically transformed into ice cream.

So yes, it is good.  I've since seen recipes with coconut milk in them and may have to try that in the future too.  However this was simple and worked just fine.  I liked it best plain or mixed with some chocolate chips, while my husband ate it mixed with an orange-pinapple ice cream, topped with crushed pineapple and sliced bananas.  Talk about a tropical treat!

Coconut Ice Cream

adapted from the Cuisinart Recipe Booklet

Ingredients - 

1 cup half and half (or whole milk)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
2 cups heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut extract (more or less to taste)

Directions - 

Using a whisk or electric mixer combine the first three ingredients until the sugar is dissolved.  Stir in remaining ingredients and refrigerate a few hours or over night.  Prepare according to your ice cream maker directions.

My husband's combo - coconut, orange, pineapple, and banana

Note - this was very soft initially and we found that it improved after a few hours in the freezer.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Patriotic Trifle

So a trifle may have been a funny thing to make for the 4th of July as they are English in origin, but the red, white, and blue just seemed so patriotic!  The wonderful thing about trifles is that they are so simple to make.  Another thing is that you can make them out of pretty much whatever you want and have on hand.  A well traveled friend from church first introduced us to them and explained that they are a great use for leftovers or cake that has gone a little dry.  I asked David if the trifle was blog-worthy and he said it was... it may not be to die for, but it is so easy to put together.  So if you're looking for a quick and easy summer dessert, this is it.

The key ingredients are traditionally cake, pudding, and fruit so that leaves open a wide range of possibilities and combinations!  We recently had an apple, blueberry, and cherry pie so I thought the blueberries with cherries would be perfect for our 4th of July picnic.  

Patriotic Trifle

Ingredients - 
Blueberries or blueberry pie filling
Strawberries, raspberries, cherries, or cherry pie filling
Large container of whipped topping or prepared vanilla pudding
White cake mix, baked according to package directions

Directions -

Select a large clear bowl or container so that you will be able to see the colors of the trifle.  Fill bowl with alternating layers of fruit, whipped topping or pudding, and crumbled cake.

Note - this comes together in a snap, which is why the pictures are not so wonderful - we threw it together literally as we were about to walk out the door!

Enjoy! :)