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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Walkin' Man

These shoes may be the world's best idea...or the worst.  The pros: that I can hear him anywhere in the house.  (Or mall or park or wherever.)  The cons: the high pitched squeaking.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Random Money Saving Cooking Tip

If you are tempted to make this pie, as I am, did you know that you can use the straw from a sippy cup as a cherry pitter?  It works handily, just turn the cherry upside-down and push the pit out through the stem end.

Good to know, when you have a child that pounds down cherries as quickly as mine does.  Thus far, I've been biting them in half, one at a time, and peeling the pit out with my teeth.  Then I hand Sam the remaining fruit.  Gross.  I know.  But what's a mom to do?

A Day in the Life of Some Strawberries

Thank you Anna, for sharing the bounty of your handpicked strawberries.  Here is the story of what happened to them.
I decided these little fellas were screaming to be made into strawberry muffins, and this gem of a simple recipe needs more publicity.  It is just too good for me to hog.  Now normally folks, I am not into eating raw muffin batter.  Do yourself a favor and don't even taste this won't be able to stop taking little swipes from the spatula.
Succulent Strawberry Muffins
1/4 lb. softened unsalted butter
1 & 1/2 cups sugar, divided
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt, scant
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tsp. good vanilla
18-20 medium to large strawberries, hulled and chopped

Cream butter and 1 & 1/4 cups sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time.  Add vanilla.  Blend well but do not overbeat.  Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl.  Add alternately with cream to butter, starting and ending with flour mixture.  Fold in strawberries.

Fill 16 large muffin tins with papers.  Fill them almost full with batter, then sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup sugar over top.  Bake in 375 degree oven for 25-30 min, or until lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on rack.

Like Father, Like Son

Family inside joke.  Don't worry, the can was empty.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Vanilla Marshmallows

In the interest of promoting summertime s'mores... head to your nearest Trader Joe's to load up on THESE.  They were better then homemade, great right out of the package.  Heaven, when combined with their cinnamon homemade graham crackers and a bar of 56% Valrhona chocolate.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

CSA Box #1

Hip hip hooray!  CSA has started!
 For those of you not familiar with this wonderful concept, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  You can buy a "share" of a farm's produce for a period of time, getting organic, local produce delivered right to your town.  My friend Anna the head baker and I are splitting one of Erehwon Farm's (located in Elburn, IL) boxes that are delivered every other week.

Yesterday was the first day we picked it up, just a few blocks from where our houses are.  We both squealed with delight when we saw the strawberries, tiny and bright red down at the bottom.  This week's haul included:
spicy mixed greens mix, swiss chard and spinach, sweet sugar snap peas, romaine lettuce, radishes, komatsuna and garlic scraps.

Anna made an amazing salad for dinner with chopped turkey, mixed greens and lettuce, ripe tomatoes, feta cheese and a balsamic vinaigrette.  We both ate our strawberries in secret, furtively unwilling to share with the rest of our families.  I will say that Scott didn't deserve any, after declaring to me he couldn't taste a difference between these and the store bought ones.

Sophie, if you read this today, you'll get an awesome salad for dinner tonight when you babysit, made from this produce and some caramelized pecans, Boar's Head turkey and whatever else sounds good.  

Check out the farm's website to see if it's something you'd be interested in.  The list of all the wonderful fruits and vegetables you get is there, along with directions to the farm if you want to buy local eggs, poultry, meat, grain, flowers and other plants.  I love the idea of knowing where my food comes from.  Plus, every third Saturday they have a party on the farm where you can visit, listen to a band play and pick strawberries/garlic/potatoes, play with Bucky the Farm Dog or lay in their hammock.

Time to go make some breakfast for me and Sam, too bad I ate all the strawberries last night. They would have been great on some french toast.

Sam goes to Kid Snips

I took a lot of crap from Scott for paying $22 for a haircut for an 11 month old, but these pictures were worth it.  I edited out a blue trickle of saliva trailing down his face from the package of fruit snacks he devoured in like 2 seconds.  

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Welcome to suburbia

Sam wanted to visit the ponies again, we'd heard that one of the draft horses had her baby.  So glad we did!  It was fun to see such a new colt prancing around following his mother and rolling in the grass.  His name is Ike.

I love where we live.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The only salad recipe you'll need for this summer

Unless, of course, like my husband, you hate tomatoes.  (?!)
Search no further.  My Aunt Cindy's Tuscan Bread Salad is all you need to survive this summer.
We had it up at the lakehouse this weekend and I am trying to figure out how soon I can make it again.  So good, perfect summer flavors that shine with the tomato and basil, and the pizza crust that catches the dressing, sopping up all it's goodness.

Aunt Cindy's Tuscan Bread Salad

1  14-16 oz. Boboli pizza crust
1 to 1  1/4 cups water
4 TB. red wine vinegar, divided
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
anchovy paste, to taste
1/2 tsp. salt
2 ribs celery, diced
1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 small red onion, diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Broil the Boboli crust in the oven until brown on both sides.  Watch carefully so it doesn't burn.  When cool, cut into 1 inch squares and place in a large bowl.  Pour the water and 1 TB. of the vinegar over the bread, toss and let stand for 15 min.  Whisk together the remaining 3 TB. vinegar, salt and anchovy paste.  Add olive oil in a steady stream, whisk constantly.  Add celery, tomatoes and basil to the bread, toss well.  Add dressing over everything, toss again and serve.  

Monday, June 09, 2008

Lemon Cheesecake Tarts

So I made these little lemon cheesecake tarts for my cousin's bridal shower...they turned out pretty well judging by the amount of recipe requests thus far.  I thought I'd save myself some typing and just share it here.  This recipe originated over at Cooking Light, but I adjusted it.

Lemon Cream Cheese Cookie Cups            Yields 2 dozen approximately

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
cooking spray

1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. grated lemon rind
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 large egg
8 oz. block of softened cream cheese

Homemade lemon curd (I used Ina Garten's from the Food Network's recipe.  Piece of cake)
 or store bought if you don't have time
Tiny mint leaves for garnish

To prepare dough, beat 1/2 cup sugar and butter at medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and egg, beat well.  Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl and add to sugar/butter mixture.  Beat at low speed until well blended.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour, or freeze for 15 min.  Gently press dough into mini muffin tins coated with cooking spray.  Go as light as you can on the dough, it will puff up and swell as it cooks.  You want just enough dough to cover the muffin cup lightly.

Preheat oven to 350.  To prepare filling, beat 1/2 cup sugar and the next four ingredients in a mixer until smooth.  Spoon 1 TB. of filling into each prepared muffin cup.  Bake at 350 degrees for 23 minutes or until edges are brown and filling is set.  Remove cups from pans immediately, cool on a wire rack.  

At this point, the cookies will store well in the fridge for a couple days.  When you are ready to serve them, top with lemon curd and a mint leaf.

I know it looks complicated.  Believe me, it's worth the hassle.