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Recent Kitchen Happenings

Friday, June 27, 2014

pineberry sorbet





I was going for a quick refresher after a long walk in some pretty good heat - think smoothie - but I ended up with this.  Closer to a sorbet (which is even closer to ice cream than a smoothie is, and you know what I've told you before about me and ice cream!), it scooped out in beautiful rounds as soon as it came out of my Ninja.  

This pic is actually the second batch I made and refroze within hours of the first, because as I shared with you here, John and I nearly came to blows on the front porch when I first arrived with the treat.

By the way, that would not have been a good move if wanting to win over new neighbors and influence people.

We both begrudgingly took turns scraping the bottom of the bowl, and then I went back inside to begin mixing again.  

This is not rocket science or even unique, I'm sure.  But the consistency and ease was so unexpected, I wanted to share.  Though, one word of advice.  If there are two of you and only one bowlful of the dessert, make sure you have a pair of gloves and bell in tow; a knock-down, drag-out is a given.

Pineberry Sorbet
  • 14 one-inch pineapple chunks, frozen
  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries (I used strawberry, raspberry, blackberry blend)
  • 1 cup vanilla almond milk
~ Pour all ingredients in device (blender, Ninja, etc) and blend until smooth.  

~ Serve immediately, or pour into airtight container and store in freezer. 

Recipe from The Lazy Daisy Kitchen.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

easy-peasy chicken salad and an update




I have a secret.

Sometimes, I rush into the kitchen after getting home from work, and while the kids are busy playing, I throw together a super-quick meal for just John and me so we can eat in peace.

[gasp]

But hear me out.  

Now that we ride all together to and from school most days, if the journey home is long and drawn-out,  full of traffic, feisty with sibling dispute, loud with everyone talking over each other to tell their most pressing needs, I just… well… hide food from my kids.

I know.  It's bad isn't it.

But is it really that terrible?

Plus, I usually do a salad, because (in my mind) a big fancy, schmancy salad my 9 and 11-year-old do not want.

Well.  I don't ask them if they do.  But I'm pretty sure they don't.

So… as was this meal a couple of weeks ago.  A mix of lightly dressed baby lettuces topped with my Easy-Peasy Chicken Salad, a sprinkle of sliced almonds, a side of sharp cheddar and a piece of toasted Italian Easter Bread from the freezer.  All done within minutes.  All done without children.  And I'm fairly certain John and I didn't say a word following his prayer.

Quiet is way underestimated.

As for my veggie re-growing update, I can definitely say the experiment has been a great success thus far.  A little over a week into it, and the celery stalks are emerging (although I only left the leaves to show when I planted) and the green onions… well… take a look for yourself. Unbelievable.  I spend about $4 on the both of these combined when purchasing at the store. Considering our family has been known to drive out of our way five miles to save five cents on gas, I say this is a score!


Easy-Peasy Chicken Salad
makes 4-5 hearty servings
  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 green onion, sliced (green parts only)
  • 1/4 cup Craisins
  • 3 heaping tbsp of mayo (or more, if preferred)
  • a sprinkling of Kosher salt
  • course ground pepper to taste
~ Stir together all ingredients and serve.

*For this recipe, I boil my chicken breasts in chicken base.  This one has become my 
  favorite as of late.




Tuesday, June 10, 2014

money-saving experiment - you gotta try this!


So I made a salad Friday night (will soon share with you), which left me with the whites of four green onions.  As I was cleaning up, I looked at them and thought, "Surely there is a way to regenerate these!"  To the computer I went… 

Love Google.  

And sure enough, I ended up reading forever about foods you can re-grow.  In fact, I also learned one can regenerate the end of a celery stalk, which I happened to have on the counter, as well.  

I just want you to look at how cool God is.  This is less than 24 hours between shots.


It is really as easy as it looks.  Place the end of a celery bunch in a bowl with just enough water to submerge, about an inch.  Place in a sunny location, and it will quickly begin to grow.  In a few days, I should be able to transplant to a pot and watch the stalks emerge.  

The green onions  just need to be planted in potting soil, leaving about an inch above the dirt. Water thoroughly and they, too, will quickly reform.  



I am really looking forward to seeing how this all turns out.  It will be a treat to just cut what I need, when I need it, as the months go by.  I will most definitely keep you posted on this undertaking and will soon share a terrific, EASY chicken salad recipe that uses both of these veggies nicely. 

  

Friday, June 6, 2014

high five for friday


When it comes to this blog, Summer is my favorite time of year.  The load of life lightens just enough that I have a little more time to think and create and, really, just be inspired.

I am praying for great weather this weekend, so that Fair on the Square is a success.  I've heard about this neighborhood event in the village since before we moved here, and now I get to experience it myself as a resident.  Artisans, food trucks, free samples (or "try-outs" as the boys refer to them), and so much more is planned for Saturday morning.  I can't wait.  You can rest assured a few dollars will be in my pocket and a camera around my neck.

Speaking of camera, now that baseball is over, it has been able to focus on other things besides a bat and ball, and two cutie patooties in their uniforms.  These are just five snapshots of moments that really make life the gift it is.  It's the little things, most of the time, isn't it?

By the way, have you ever wondered why we refer to them as little?  Why not call 'em big and soak them up, one blessing at a time?  I'm certainly in.  How about you?

High Five for Friday, my friends!


We have been waiting for this moment right here… The youth group in our home, singing, laughing, eating, praising… A dream come true.  Twenty-one lovers of Jesus.  Super-awesome.

The perfect Memorial Day shopping outfit, right?  That's what Luke thought anyway.  He's re-discovered my grandfather's hat he was given a couple of years ago and has been wearing it non-stop. I love it.

Charley has seen the boys with a ball in hand so much over the last months, he doesn't want to be left out.  It's in his mouth more than it's on the ground.  

We're enjoying filling a few empty spaces in the new(er) house.  We finally have time to start really making it home, and I was THRILLED to snag this woven cane-seat rocker at Goodwill.  It's a perfect fit next to the fireplace.

I'm hoping I can do this one again.  By accident, I came up with what I'm calling "Pineberry Sorbet."  I'll share the recipe after I try it again and really measure and make sure it's as good I think it was.  This was a total non-plan, and came to nearly a "knock-down drag-out" between John and me on who was going to get the most.


 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

new every morning bread



"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning…"  
Lamentations 3:22-23

I've always been a morning person, and, oh, how I love the words of the verse above.  They refresh, they renew, they restore hope.  Watch the 10:00 news for five minutes or read internet headlines and you understand why meditating on them is so absolutely necessary.


This has become my favorite place in our house, I do believe.  The chair gets comfier every time it's occupied, my great-grandmother's quilt envelops me, and it's the meeting place for God and me every morning at 5:00.  Even though its only two or three feet from the edge of my bed, there's something comforting about knowing I'm heading to that spot at sunrise to receive His new and endless mercies.  It's a gift.  And all He's asked me to do is just show up.    

The chaos and stress of mornings can make it one of the absolute hardest times of the day, but sustenance can make all the difference in the world.  The feeding of the soul and the body can make for a hopeful start, that's for sure.

This is a great recipe to get you going and so easy to grab and go.  You can make substitutes to your liking, but I like it just like this.  Mom made it the first time I had it, and I instantly loved it.  The next time I craved it, I made it, though slightly different, due to some ingredients I didn't have on hand.  No matter the version, it works, and it's very healthy.  But beware… it won't last long!

New Every Morning Bread
makes one loaf
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 T oil
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup granola cereal
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
~ Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

~ Grease and lightly flour 9x5 loaf pan.  

~ Mix all wet ingredients together, stirring in cranberries and nuts.  Add in dry ingredients 
    in the order listed just until moistened.  

~ Fill pan and bake until golden and edges begin to pull away from sides of pan, about 
   45-55 minutes.

~ Cool in pan 5 minutes then remove and cool on rack.  Serve immediately or wrap tightly 
    and store in refrigerator.




  

Friday, April 18, 2014

love people; cook them italian easter cheese bread



It has been awhile, hasn't it?  How I've missed being on here rambling and sharing recipes.  I really have been cooking, and I really have been writing the best posts...

But just in my head (the writing, that is).

We leave today for Indiana, and I'm really excited that the weather is looking very promising. Ever since I can remember, I have adored Easter Sundays that are radiant and warm, reminding the world once again of the resurrected Christ.  I am so thankful.

I don't know that I'll ever get to the bottom of my "one-day-I-hope-to-try-this-bread-recipe" list, but as long as I'm breathing, I'll keep checking them off.  This one only recently made the catalog, though with the upcoming holiday it got bumped to the top.  

To say I was pleased with the outcome is an understatement.  The egg wash gives it a gorgeous crust and the crumb is extremely tender.  I used a blend of aged Parmesan and Romano cheeses, so the flavor was robust with the cheese definitely shining through.   

When you read the recipe, the length of time called for might scare you away.  But be of good cheer!  I actually took a chance and refrigerated it after the second rising until the next afternoon, and it still turned out beautifully.  So, if needed, give yourself a couple of days for this one and know it will still be a success.   

This is such a beautiful loaf, just slip it into a clear bread bag, tie it off with some raffia and pass it along to show your love this Easter Sunday.  Even better, tag it with an inscription, "I am the bread of life… ~ Jesus."  What a blessing you will be, putting a smile on someone's face, food in their tummy, and all in the name of a Savior.  

He has risen, my friends.  Pass it on.

one year ago - pork and rice stir-frywhole-wheat bread

Italian Easter Cheese Bread
makes one loaf
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, white reserved
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan, Romano, Asiago or combination
~ Place all ingredients in a bowl MINUS CHEESE and mix with stand mixer for 10 minutes 
    until dough is satiny and shiny.  Stop to scrape down sides and bottom of bowl a couple 
    of times.

~ Add cheese and beat until well combined.

~ Remove dough and place in lightly greased bowl.  Cover and let rest for one hour.  It 
    won't do much.

~ Gently deflate the dough, turn it over, and let it rest another hour covered.  

~ Place the dough in a greased 9x5 loaf pan, cover with plastic wrap (sprayed with nonstick 
    spray) and let rise two more hours OR PLACE IN REFRIGERATOR.  Dough will get 
    noticeably puffy.  I pulled mine from the refrigerator and placed in a 100 degree oven for 
    the last two-hour rise.  

~ Place rack just below the middle and preheat to 425.  In the meantime, whisk egg white
    and 2 tsp water.  Brush over top of loaf.

~ Bake bread for 15 minutes, remove, lightly tent with aluminum foil, and place back in 350
   degree oven for 30 more minutes until bread is deeply golden brown and thermometer 
   inserted into center reads 190 degrees.  

~ Cool five minutes in pan and then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.

Friday, March 28, 2014

favorite chocolate chip cookies


HOME.   

Honoring Our Maker Everyday.

I just love that word.  I love the picture it paints in my mind when I think of it.  I love how it feels at the end of a long day.  I love all the laughter and tears it holds from those that I am closest to this side of Heaven.  

Home is a beautiful word.

We have finally somewhat settled into our new one and are still waking up everyday pinching ourselves.  I'm continually finding new little blessings, like the view from Luke's room I just discovered last night while tucking him into bed.  One of his two windows overlooks a pocket park right in the middle of our cul-de-sac, complete with a glowing lamppost and rod-iron bench... a bit reminiscent of a scene from It's a Wonderful Life.  

::pinch, pinch::

At any rate, I could easily write a long list of smells that take me straight "home" - bacon frying, onions sauteing, bread baking, and - without a doubt - cookies baking.  I was so excited to bake a batch of cookies in this new house, I couldn't hardly stand it.  Doing so seemed like such a logical, almost right-of-passage kind of way to christen the new-to-me oven.  

I've baked my fair share of chocolate chip cookies, usually landing on a recipe because it was the quickest one I could find before having to rush off to an event with some kind of baked good in hand.  But for this special occasion, I searched more intentionally in hopes of finding a better-than-average recipe, and that is exactly what I found.   With the mixture of both white and brown sugars, maple syrup, and toasted walnuts, this cookie has a richer deeper flavor but allows the chocolate to shine.  And it has just enough sweet, with a dash of salt... a wonderful balance.  These will be holding a permanent spot in the cookie jar, I can assure you!

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 3 dozen
  • 1 cup walnut pieces
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar firmly packed
  • 1 whole egg plus 1 yolk
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 12 oz dark chocolate bar, roughly chopped
~ Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread walnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
  
~ Place pan in the oven and toast, stirring occasionally, until they are fragrant and toasted,
    about 10 minutes.  Let cool then coarsely chop.

~ In a bowl, whisk/sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  In another bowl, mix on
    medium-high speed, the butter and sugars until it is light in texture, about 3 minutes.

~ Beat in the whole egg and egg yolk, then the syrup and vanilla.  Reduce the speed to low 
    and gradually add the flour mixture, beating just until smooth and stopping to scrape 
    down the bowl as needed.   

~ With a spoon, stir in the chopped chocolate and walnuts, distributing them evenly through
    the dough.  Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 6.

~ Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.  Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of the
    dough onto the baking pans, spacing them about 1 inch apart.  

~ Bake until cookies are lightly browned, about 10 minutes.  Let cool for 3 minutes on the 
    baking sheets.  Transfer to cooling rack.  

Recipe slightly adapted from Williams Sonoma.