mypostcardsfromhome


It’s Strawberry Season!

It’s officially strawberry season in BC which means there are fresh, juicy, ripe, local strawberries everywhere!  Road-side stands, farmer’s markets, even the big-chain grocery stores are selling them.

At the same time, our school teachers are on strike which means my boys are missing the last two weeks of school. I’ll admit, it’s a mixed blessing; it’s nice not to be packing lunches and rushing off to school and activities everyday, but it also means the kids are underfoot and full of energy.

What to do?

Pile into the car with some friends and head out to the fields. IMG_1265

We drove out to Emma Lea Farm in scenic Westham Island, Ladner BC.  It was our first time there, but they clearly know what they’re doing.  A playground, tractors to climb on and ice cream for sale and, of course, fresh fruit to be picked and purchased. Once our buckets were weighed we set off to the fields. The boys did a great job of filling their buckets with the odd berry tasted for quality control purposes, of course.

Now that we have all these delicious, juicy, strawberries, it’s time to try out some new recipes such as these moist Strawberry Muffins and these flaky, Strawberry Scones. Both recipes are easy to make with great results.

Do you have a favourite strawberry recipe?

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Winter S’mores Cookies: an indoor twist on an outdoor classic.

It’s cold outside.

Not as cold as many other places on the continent, but cold, nonetheless.  We don’t have snow, just rock-hard, frosty ground.  It’s too cold to jump on the trampoline. Too cold to go for a bike ride. Certainly too cold to go camping or hang around a campfire making S’mores.

But it is perfect weather for baking. I thought it would be nice to warm things up a little and was reminiscing about warmer weather, campfires and s’mores. My kids don’t actually like S’mores.  Oh sure, they like the individual ingredients.  Who doesn’t like chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers?  Just not in a melted-together-in-a-sandwich kind of way.  So it’s S’mores Cookies instead.

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I found this cookie recipe on Pinterest (of course).  It’s adapted from KevinandAmanda.com and the cookies are delicious.  Kid and adult approved; they are gooey inside, but keep a nice shape.  Don’t make them too big, you’ll want to come back for more!

S’mores Cookies

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1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cups flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (7 full graham cracker sheets)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup mini-marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla then beat for an additional 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, crush 7 graham cracker sheets into 3/4 cup fine crumbs (I get the kids to help by putting them in a ziploc bag and having them crush them with a rolling pin).  In a separate bowl, whisk together the graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together. Add the chocolate and marshmallows and stir to combine.

Place 1.5 tablespoon sized scoops of dough onto the prepared cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

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Enjoy!



Spring Treats!

Spring is in the air.  The flowers are blooming and the frost has taken a backseat to the rain, but the sun is still only making occasional appearances.  What better time to have a spring party!?

My 4-year-old’s preschool had a class party yesterday for family to attend and parents were asked to contribute treats, snacks, drinks and decor.  What fun to see the variety of delicious treats on the table; home-baked iced cookies, rice krispie treats, cupcakes, even some delicious candied-popcorn (I asked for that recipe!).

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This year we made bird’s nests!  They were quick, easy, child-friendly and delicious.  Our class has a number of allergies including nuts, eggs, and kiwi so these were allergy-friendly, too. They are also super-cute and were popular among the kids and parents.

We first attempted this treat for dessert on Easter weekend, but they didn’t turn out.  Apparently when you run over to the closest corner store and purchase the only chow mein noodles they have, it doesn’t mean your nests will be edible.  Cute, but not edible.  So we tried again – successfully!

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The ingredient list is short:

 chocolate

chow mein noodles

mini-eggs

Ready?  Melt your chocolate, mix in the noodles and spoon them into some lightly sprayed muffin tins.  I didn’t exactly measure but found that melting the chocolate then stirring in noodles a bit at a time until they were completely covered but not too “wet” worked well.IMG_1769

Once they’re in the tins, use your fingers to make the shape nest-like so there’s a place to put the eggs.  Then add 3 Cadbury mini-eggs (you could use other types like jelly beans or something, but these look so cute and taste great!).IMG_1770

My 4 year old happily helped with the mixing, spooning, and placing the eggs, then licked the spoon clean, of course!  It’s a bit of a sticky process, but they come together quickly and look and taste great.

Enjoy!

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Turkey leftovers? Here’s some inspiration . . .

After several days of holiday meal planning, baking, prepping, and cooking; it’s officially time for leftovers!

Now don’t get me wrong, I love turkey dinner leftovers especially when I had back-to-back Christmas dinners and was treated to prime rib with my in-laws last night.  But rather than just recreating your turkey dinner out of tupperware containers, try this delicious recipe from Jamie Oliver!

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/turkey-recipes/turkey-and-sweet-leek-pie

"It's not a pretty-boy pie; it's a proper, old-school pie that everyone will be over the moon to see on the table."  Jamie Oliver

“It’s not a pretty-boy pie; it’s a proper, old-school pie that everyone will be over the moon to see on the table.” Jamie Oliver

He featured it on his Christmas Special last week and we had a test run with chicken. We liked it so much we both went back for seconds!

This time, I’m making two and popping one in the freezer.  Because we didn’t have any, I substituted pancetta for the bacon and left out the chestnuts, otherwise I wouldn’t change a thing, just be sure you roll out the puff pastry so it’s not too thick.  Enjoy!

 



Baking with Gram

Those were the days.  You could lick the spoon, clean off the beaters and no one ever said “No!  You’ll get sick from raw eggs!”.

I used to spend a month every summer at my grandparents house in the Lake of the Woods region.  They would take us to the beach, fishing on the lake, blueberry picking and I loved it!  Now that I have 2 kids of my own, we travel there every year to visit their great-grandparents.  I look back fondly on those days and hope to be able to create memories that my boys will cherish, too.

Some of my best memories of those summer days are the times I spent baking with Gram.  She taught me how to make pies, cookies, muffins, and butter tarts.  I remember her original cookbooks, all worn, yellowed and sometimes sticky; the hand-written recipes for some of my favourites.  The coloured Pyrex nesting bowls and the well-worn wooden spoon.  She always wore an apron and made it all seem effortless:  mixing the ingredients, timing the baking, even the cleanup.  I would help measure and stir and then lick the batter off the spoon, mixers and out of the bowl!  Delicious goodness.  (I still prefer uncooked batter to the finished product and my recipes never seem to make a full batch!)  I was never told to “just eat one” or “save some for later.”  It was pure pleasure!

Over the years, I collected Gram’s recipes and must admit, they are still my favourites.

Now that I have kids of my own, we often bake together: muffins, banana bread, cookies, weekend waffles or pancakes.  But only recently have I given them the utensils to lick clean!  There’s a lot of deep breathing involved as I’m not as patient as my Gram was – the flour all over the floor and counters, the fingers always reaching or grabbing for something – but I try to relax and enjoy our time together.  It’s great to have home-made treats for lunches and snacks, knowing love was an essential ingredient.

I hope my boys will look back fondly on these times spent together or at least think of me when they order pancakes at a restaurant or buy a muffin to go with their morning coffee!



Meal Planning Week Two
January 23, 2012, 2:14 pm
Filed under: family, food, organized | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Last week went well other than Monday’s Pork Salad – it wasn’t the recipe I remember and was way too salty! The Grilled Fish Tacos are always a hit and the first recipe I ever posted here.  Lasagna was easy as I had pre-made it and frozen it for future dining; I’ll post the recipe along with the meatloaf (which my family enjoyed while I was dining on a delicious trio of soups at a friend’s place).  We didn’t have the seafood curry last week as my husband and I went  for dinner with an out-of-town friend, so it’s being added to this week’s menu.

This week we are having: 

Sunday:  Grilled Salmon with Warm Lentil Salad

Monday:  Braised Italian Chicken Thighs with Green Beans & Olives

Tuesday:  Grilled Pork Chops with Asparagus Risotto

Wednesday:  Beef & Chorizo Chili

Thursday:  Pepperoni & Mushroom Home-made Pizzas

Friday:  Thai Yellow Curry with Shrimp and Scallops over Jasmine Rice

I’ll work on getting the remaining recipes posted – if there’s one you want right away, let me know!

(as an aside, I keep this notepad on my fridge so I can easily track my grocery list and add to it as we run out of things – very handy!)




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