Happy 4th Of July!!

Another year of fireworks, cookouts and spending time with friends and family.   I wanted to celebrate with “alternates” this year.  Not to be non-American or give anyone a hard time if they did their independence day rituals.  I just wanted this year to be a little different.   Instead of hamburgers, potato salad and corn on the cob, I decided to make the following menu. Turkey Meatloaf, scalloped potatoes and a steamed asparagus, corn & baby carrot medley.

Did you do anything different?

I also wanted to try my hand at a southern dessert today, cobbler!!  I saw fresh strawberries at the store and I couldn’t resist.  I reached around for recipes and found this food blog that was kind of perfect for today.

From Scratch (Food plus Politics) had this little slice of heaven,  Strawberry Cobbler!

With just these few ingredients:

1/2 stick  unsalted butter
2 cups  sliced strawberries
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk [I used 2% ~Dee]
1 – 2 TB sugar for topping

Let's get this started!!!

Directions:

Set a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350F. Place the butter in an 8-inch square or round baking dish or cake pan and put into the oven to melt. Remove when melted.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking soda and salt. Add the milk and whisk well.

Pour the batter on top of the melted butter — it’s okay if it’s still hot — and scatter the berries on top. Sprinkle on the additonal sugar.

Before...

Bake 50 to 60 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.

After!!!

I really had a lot of fun and maybe even started a new tradition…4th of July Cobbler!  Enjoy!

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Happy National Chocolate Pudding Day!

The Foodimentary Guy inspired me to write this post today, National Chocolate Pudding day, a list of links to wonderful chocolate pudding recipes (or chocolate pudding-ish recipes).

What are your favorites? Have you ever tried any of these recipes or any like them? Let us know your favorite chocolate pudding treats!

I’ll start off the list with my favorite chocolate pudding recipe ever, by my favorite food blogger, Deb at Smitten Kitchen. If you’d like a simple scrumptious chocolate pudding to make on a lazy afternoon, this is the one I’d recommend.

1.  Best Chocolate Pudding from Smitten Kitchen

2. This Pioneer Woman post is a chocolate dessert that’s done with ice cream, but chocolate pudding could easily be substituted.

3.  Wow, Bakerella!  Wow.  These chocolate peanut butter puddings cups look so fun it’s ridiculous.  Perfect for a child’s slumber party.

4. Chocolate Whiskey Pots de Creme from TheKitchn.com

5.  Maple Chocolate Pudding Speared with Bacon Spoons from Peace Love and Chocolate!  Even if you’re scared to try it with the bacon, maple chocolate pudding sounds like something you’d like to try, admit it!

Now we move from the ridiculously rich into the more healthy offerings for, you know, those choosy eaters.

6.  This is a WikiHow article on making Raw Dark Chocolate Pudding.  Raw as in ok to serve to those who are on a raw food diet.  It’s also vegan and seems very healthy.  I haven’t tried it but everything on the ingredient list is delicious, so that’s a good sign!

7.  This Chocolate Mousse with Olive Oil and Sea Salt is packed with heart-healthy fats, antioxidants and although it’s technically not a pudding, it also is egg-free so it’s safe to serve to those who are expecting or immuno-compromised.

Have a wonderful National Chocolate Pudding Day everyone!!!  🙂

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What the Crepe?!

Everyone knows pancakes and waffles but little is known about the french cousin “The Crepe”.  Crepes originated in France and are now commonly enjoyed  by locals and tourists alike everywhere in the world.   I absolutely love crepes because they remind me of Paris, I had a Nutella Crepe on the Eiffel Tower that was to die for.  It was awesome to sit on the 1st floor enjoying the view and my crepe.

Nutella Crepe

Back home they are great for breakfast, snack or even dessert.  Let’s make some!

Crepe Ingredients:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoons salt

1 cup milk

2 eggs

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon melted butter, plus more for cooking crepes

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Fillings: Nutella, 6 strawberries (sliced), 1 banana (sliced), Jams, confectioners sugar for sprinkling, whatever you may like.

Directions:

Put all of the crepe ingredients in the blender (start with liquids first).  Blend until all are incorporated.  Let chill in the refrigerator for about a 1/2 hour.

In a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat melt a small piece of butter and swirl it around so that it lightly coats the surface.

Add 1/3 cup of the batter and move your wrist in a circular pattern to coat the pan with thin even layer of batter. Cook for about 1 minute on each side or until the sides brown lightly.  Place on a plate and repeat with remaining batter.

Let the Crepe become a golden brown

Fill your crepe with your favorite toppings.  I usually spread Nutella on the crepe, then add sliced bananas, sliced strawberries, fold and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Today I’m just using powdered sugar and filling the crepe with Nutella, for a chocolate fix!! Hope you enjoy this little piece of heaven, I know I will.

Délicieux!! (Delicious)

Secret Tip: By omitting the sugar and vanilla from the batter mixture, you can make savory crepes and fill them with cheese, spinach,  eggs, bacon, etc…for a fluffier & lighter texture than a breakfast burrito.  Bon Appetit!!

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Finishing Touches

Last weekend I went to San Antonio to visit my family for my cousin Melissa’s wedding shower.  Melissa and Will got married in Jamaica, and this weekend we had a big homecoming celebration for the newlyweds.

Needless to say, we were busy all day before the party, but my mom and I made sure we had time to escape to get some flowers for the table before guests began to arrive.

Whether you are hosting a special party or just having a quiet night at home, a vase of fresh flowers adds a wonderful touch of beauty.  Unfortunately, flowers from the grocery store can be pricey.

I picked up these beautiful wildflowers at the Market Square farmer’s market here in Tallahassee.  You might expect to pay $8-$12 for these at a bargain store, but I paid only $4.00!  (I also got some free basil leaves from the vendor that I’ll put in tomorrow’s pasta sauce.)

What do you like to do to beautify your table or kitchen?

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The Bake Shoppe Cafe

On June 1st, 2010 the city of Robertsdale, Alabama will be in for a treat!  My brother Juan and his wife Jessica are opening The Bake Shoppe Cafe.  In a town full of southern food restaurants & fast food joints, they will be bringing a fresh spin on breakfast and lunch!  Juan has been in the food industry ever since I can remember, he even makes beautiful wedding cakes in his spare time for friends.  He is truly a very talented young man!  Juan’s menu is full of homemade baked goods, assorted bagels, quiches, sandwiches, soups & salads.  I believe with his fresh inventive menu he is filling a huge void in his area.  He thinks people should eat well balanced meals & have specials treats as rewards.

Everyone knows when they see good food & I am confident that his town will see it and they will succeed!  If anyone is traveling on I-10 stop in (Exit 44) for a delicious meal or take some baked goodies for your road trip!!

Our younger brother Jesus and his wife Melinda came up a few weeks ago to help get the place ready.  From painting & building walls and  even painting a scenic mural on one of the walls they did a fantastic job!!

The Mural

Scenic Landscape

Big Dream means Big Kitchen

I am so proud of my little brother and I wish him and Jessica all the best!  Can’t wait to hear all the great things that are about to happen to them in this new chapter of their life.  Good Luck guys!

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What’s a dinner party?

When we hear the words dinner party some of us probably think of some stuffy event where you have to wear a dress or tie.  Well, who made those rules?  Cooking can be quite therapeutic, and a new enjoyable way to entertain.  Why take on all the stress of making the entire meal for guests? Let them help in the kitchen.  Nothing sparks up an appetite as cooking a meal and enjoying good company (& wine).  Let’s bring new meaning to the dinner party! Whether choosing a potluck dinner (where everyone brings a dish) or an actual cooking together situation, make it a deliciously delightful evening.

Start with cheeses:  Most of us have been to a party where they have a cheese tray; spice things up!  Why always go for the mozzarella and cheddar cubes, next time try a goat cheese log and spread pesto over it (sun-dried tomatoes pesto is my fave!!).  Serve it with Entertaining Crackers, they usually come in a pack and have various designs and flavors, this will be an elegant alternative to  Ritz or Triscuits.  Baked Brie is also delicious.  Explore your local grocery store’s specialty cheese case, you’ll be surprised at the wonderful selections offered.

Beverages: punch, soda, cocktails, wine, beer, water, etc.  The list can be lengthy and so the budget could be blown right here.  Think small; provide a few from the large selection and ask guests to BYOB (bring your own beverages) if they would prefer something else.  It’s a Win Win!

Getting dinner on the table: If making something for the entire group, getting them to help chop veggies, stirring a pot or setting the table can make them feel part of the evening.  Potlucks can sometimes be all desserts or all salads if not planned a little ahead of time.  An easy email dividing the type of  courses you’d like to have and even paper products can help an evening go smoothly.   Let everyone sign up for what they’d like and email back with everyone’s responses, this way your guests will also have an idea of what to expect.

Ultimately, have fun!  Things may get spilled and there will be some clean up after but it’s worth the memories.  Enjoy your friends, family and remember to always keep it in good taste.

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SLOWING DOWN

Sometimes life can be so busy.  I’ve been intentionally trying to un-busy my own life.  My coworker asked me if I was doing anything fun this weekend, and I smiled big and announced, “Almost nothing!”

Nothing except make these granola bars from Smitten Kitchen.  These things are addictive.  The first time I made them, I went through them so quickly my husband didn’t get to try a single bite!

In my defense, I offered… many times!  He didn’t want any until day 3, and by then, they were long gone.  I might try hiding them in the freezer in single-serving portions so that I have to wait for them to defrost each time I grab one to snack on… if they make it to the freezer in the first place…

So back to slowing down, these granola bars are an easy, relatively healthy, time-saving, eat-on-the-run breakfast.  With the time you save, I hope you are able to slow down too.

DARK CHERRY CHOCOLATE GRANOLA BARS

Adapted heavily from Smitten Kitchen: see link above

(Makes about 20-30 servings)

  • 1 2/3 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2  cup  sugar
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1 cups almonds
  • 1/3 cup almond butter
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/3 cup corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon water

1.  Line a baking pan with parchment and grease lightly.

2.  Mix dry ingredients together (up to nuts).

3.  Combine melted butter, almond butter, corn syrup and water with a whisk until smooth.

4.  Mix dry ingredients with wet thouroughly.

5.  Turn mixture out onto a lined cookie sheet.  Get  a sheet of plastic wrap and use it to flatten and spread the granola out , making sure to press down firmly so it is evenly packed and about 3/4 inch thick.

6.   Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, cool, and break into pieces.  Enjoy!

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