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.

Enjoy!




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! :)

   




Monday, June 30, 2014

A peak at the patio garden - June 2014


Just a peak at our little urban oasis....




















"Yet He has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy..."  
- Acts 14:17








Thursday, June 19, 2014

How we simplify camping with a camping box



Packing for a camping trip can sometimes seem like a daunting task.  Depending on how and where you like to camp you might need to bring everything with you including food, shelter, and cooking supplies.  Last year we camped several times and I found that keeping a camping box really simplified things.  In the box are non-perishable items we know we will need every time we go camping.  When we get home we re-stock the box and then put it back in the garage.  Next time we go camping we grab out the box and our packing is already part way done!




What’s in our box –
Matches
Rope for clothesline
Table cloth
Plastic bowls and plates
Plastic or cheap utensils/serving spoons
(can opener - if we had an extra one)
Mugs and cups
Toilet paper, paper towel, and napkins
Small container of dish soap
2 washcloths, 2 dish towels, and several potholders
Flexible cutting mat
Tinfoil, trash bags, plastic shopping bags, various sizes of ziplock bags

Side note – last year we just used a cardboard box with a lid, but this year we upgraded to a plastic container.   With plastic we can leave the box out on our picnic table without worrying about it getting wet or critters getting in it.

What do you keep in your camping box?

Happy Camping!



If you liked this, you may like our other camping links -
5 Camping food tricks that work for us
Road Trip!  Pinterest board 



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

5 Camping Food Tricks that Work for Us



Some people love camping and some simply don’t enjoy it.  There are several camping food ideas that work for us and I wanted to share these so that, whichever party you fall into, you might be inspired and have a little more fun when you pack up and head out.  I hope that these tricks will help to simplify your next camping adventure so you can kick back, relax, and enjoy!

One of our camp sites last year

Cooking out on the way home

#1 - Bring fresh fruits, veggies, and healthy snacks -

Fresh fruit can travel well (think apples, mandarins, grapes, etc.) and raw veggies are easy to pack if you prep them ahead of time.  Baby carrots, snow peas, cherry tomatoes, and beans are all easy options that don’t take any preparation.  Peppers or broccoli work too if you’re willing to slice them.  Other easy snacks to have on hand are dried fruit, hard boiled eggs, jerky, trail mix, or granola bars. 

#2 - Freeze things ahead –

If any of our food that can be frozen, I freeze.  Think hot dogs, brats, chocolate bars, calzones, smoky links, cinnamon rolls, etc.  Filling your cooler with frozen items will help it stay cooler longer than if you fill it with cold or room temperature items.  Of course you still need ice, but this helps.

#3 - Plan meals ahead –

So, my planning may be a little excessive, but it helps me make sure I pack what we need and makes cooking less work.  I plan out how many meals we need for our trip, including breakfasts, sides and eating out.  Granted, the whole plan is flexible and we might have brats for lunch on Sunday, instead of dinner on Saturday, but we at least have options for each meal time.
As a side note to this, consider spreading out the prep work.  Trying to get everything ready the night before can be a nightmare.  Since I am often working the days leading up to a trip I try to spread it out (meals were planned the week before, groceries bought in the regular grocery run, pasties were “planned-over” in the freezer, cinnamon rolls made and frozen a few days prior, etc.) so that the night before or morning of I am not running around like a crazy person trying to get all this food ready.

#4 - Streamline –

If we are having Pasties for dinner the first night and cinnamon rolls for breakfast (as an example) I try to put those things at the top of the cooler, to decrease digging.  Try to think about anything that can be pre-packaged or simplified.  I saw on Pinterest an idea to put all of the smore’s contents in one package, thus eliminating all of the wrapping/packaging and decreasing the confusion in the dark… I think I’ll try it this year.

#5 - Anticipate arrivals –

Think about the first night at the campsite.  Will you be setting up your tent or camper?  Consider going super simple for that first meal – bring subs already prepared or stew that can easily be heated up while you get settled in (this was always our family tradition).  Also, consider the day you are coming home.  Unpacking can sometimes seem like the hardest part of camping so make it easier by planning a meal ahead, whether that means ordering pizza or pulling something pre-made out of the freezer.

What camping food tricks work for you?

Enjoy your camping adventure!