Monday, September 9, 2013

A New Week! A New Look! Golden Italian Salsa!



I decided it was my turn.  I decided that if the kids were going to have a new year, so was I.  So here I am.  A new look.  My back to school hair cut.  For so long I have wanted a different look for my blog.  Something that was just me.  I know, the words are mine and the pictures are mine and that was as far as it went.  Now I have something with a little more pizazz and a little more pop and something I feel is just more…  Let me know what you think about the new look too!  I have installed a bar at the bottom of the blog, which will help me share and have you share. 


Here is a quick, colorful way to start your week off.  Using the abundance of tomatoes you have create a quick salsa!  I had some beautiful basil (grown by my brother-in-law) and some gorgeous heirloom tomatoes.  I think this is the perfect recipe to show off the new look.  You can call it a comeback.


Golden Italian Salsa

1/2 pound tomatoes, diced. If using big tomatoes, try to get some of the seeds out

1 small onion, diced

3 small jalapenos, minced.  I took the seeds out, but if you want the extra heat go ahead and leave them in.

2 cloves of garlic, minced

A huge handful of fresh basil, cut into ribbons

A couple glugs of extra virgin olive oil

A couple glugs of red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste.

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl and refrigerate for one hour, until the flavors develop.  This salsa is only good for the day you made it.  Don’t worry, you’ll eat it up!


IMG_2985  IMG_2986

IMG_2988  IMG_2990

IMG_2992  IMG_2930

                                                                A New Haircut!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Mid-Week Something Sweet: Plum Almond Tart



Well, we are half-way through the first week of school.  All in all it has been a decent two days.  Just a few tears, nothing too heartbreaking.  Isabelle had been telling me all last week that she DID NOT want to go school and after day one she said she would be willing to go back.  I think we are off to a great start and I am so excited to watch the kids tackle all great learning the schools are going to throw at them. 


So, to get you passed the Wednesday bump, (try not to remember you only have 536 lunches to make), here is a beautiful tart.  I am again using on of my favorite cookbooks “Around My French Table”, by Dorie Greenspan.  When I am craving something sweet and delicious and a little bit ambitious, I turn to Dorie.  At the farmers market this week, I purchased a couple quarts of Stanly plums.  Stanly plums are smaller than traditional plums.  They have a blue/purple tint and are really quite pretty.  When ripe, the plums taste like honey.  So delicious!  I can eat four or five of them in a sitting.  As great as the plums are eaten out of hand, they are fantastic baked in any dessert you put them in.  Dorie Greenspan has a delicious orange-almond tart in her cookbook and I decided to adapt it to incorporate the plums. 


This recipe has a few steps to it.  I encourage you to try this recipe.  It is as delicious as it is beautiful.  The recipe for the crust is included down below.  Also check out the other great recipes from Dorie Greenspan’s cookbook, “Around My French Table”.  Happy cooking and enjoy the rest of the week!



Monday, September 2, 2013

Want to add some zip to your day? Thai Curry Turkey Burgers are the answer!!!!!!



So I am burnt out on blueberries.  I have taken a small break to collect my thoughts and get the kids ready for school.  There have been doctors appointments and meetings at school and last minute trips.  We have to squeeze every drop out of summer while we still can!  I think the family and myself can agree that this was one packed summer!  Alex went to Washington D.C. with his eight grade class, then he came home for one day and went on a mission trip to Cincinnati with the church youth group.   For his 14th birthday, Alex and his dad went to a gaming convention in Memphis.  We took Isabelle and Gabe to Chicago for their birthdays.  Isabelle went the American Girl Doll store and to a Big Time Rush concert and then we went to Lego Land!  So much fun!!!!!!!!



So that was a quick recap of what we did this summer.  School will be super exciting this year.  A new ninth grader at the high school, a seventh grader and a third grader already!!! Where is the time going?!?  So dinner has centered around quick and easy (as it should) and this fall is going to be no different.  The inspiration for this dinner came from one of my favorite restaurants in Traverse City.  Bubba’s is fantastic hamburger joint with the best hamburgers anywhere.  My favorite hamburger is the Curry Burger.  It is a juicy curried flavored hamburger served on a deliciously soft bun, topped with a sweet onion aioli and crispy onion straws.  SO YUMMY!  I usually order it with the sweet potato tots.  I seriously could eat this hamburger everyday! 


Well inspiration struck and I recreated it at home.  It’s not exactly the same, but it kept my cravings at bay.  I used ground turkey instead of ground beef and topped it with a sriracha mayonnaise and mango chutney all on a pretzel roll.  I baked some sweet potato fries and the dinner was complete! The flavors of the ginger, garlic and curry really came through   The kids loved it!!! Ted said it probably would have been a little better with ground chuck.  Maybe next time. 

If you want to spice up your day, give this a try!  Try it before it’s time to put the grill away!  Or head to Bubba’s in Traverse City, Michigan to try the original first hand.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

What?! Another Blueberry Post? Blueberry Cornmeal Butter Cake.



Hey, what can I say?  My house has smelled like blueberry baked goods for a two weeks now.  I have picked these recipes to be quick and easy (sorry about the ice cream) and a way for you to use up those delicious and nutritious blueberries.  I promise there will be only one more after this one and we will be on to more delicious dishes. 


Today’s blueberry extravaganza is the Blueberry Cornmeal Butter Cake.  This recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks.  “The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook”, has been featured quite a few times this year.  The pages of the cookbook are starting to get a little crunchy and a little soggy.  That, to me is the sign of a fantastic cookbook.  Please see the links below for more fabulous recipes from The Smitten Kitchen and also a link to the blog itself. 


The cake is a combination of a few different cakes.  It has a moist bottom where the blueberries settle and a very crumbly butter top layer.  It is both a cake and a streusel and a cornbread.  The cornmeal in this recipe gives it a nice texture and a little bit of a crunch between your teeth.  It is super addicting and is perfect for breakfast, a snack between lunch and dinner and definitely dessert. 



Monday, August 12, 2013

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream



Here is recipe #2 in all things blueberry!  I still have blueberries in the refrigerator so please stay tuned for more recipes.  This is just a quick post for today.  The ice cream speaks for itself.  The recipe was found in a Cooking Light magazine.  I changed the recipe so it wasn’t so “light”. Please excuse the drips of ice cream on the side of the bowl.  I was super anxious to eat this and I forgot to clean up the edges.  I am sure the “light” version is just as good.  I had whole milk and heavy cream in the refrigerator so I used them.   I will give both versions so you can decide which one you would like to make.  Enjoy!

Also, the ice cream in this picture is the same ice cream in the bottom picture of the post.  I think the lighting in to one on top is quite different.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Blueberry Bonanza Week! It’s All Blueberries!



July is blueberry month in Michigan.  I know it is already August.  August is tomato and peach month.  Don’t worry we will get to them, but for now it is all about the blueberry.  A vitamin, antioxidant packed, powerhouse of a berry-the blueberry graces my table in many different fashions over the course of the summer.  Our favorite way to eat them is straight out of the box.  See the box above?  We could eat that entire thing in one day.  That’s five pounds of berries there folks.  Not a smart thing to do, but it’s hard to stop eating them when you start. 


Now I am one of the lucky ones.  Blueberries these days are expensive.  I have a secret source I get them from (not telling).  So my refrigerator is pretty much stocked for the month of July.  Only one problem with all the blueberries.  What to do with them!  I don’t know how to make jam or can so that is out of the question.  On a side note, if anybody could teach me how to do that, I would pay them in cake.  My only other option is to bake and bake and bake.  Pies, cupcakes, muffins, cakes, crumbles and ice cream.  All of which will get my kids saying, “Blueberries again”?  Yep.


So, in honor of the blueberry, today marks the first in a series of blueberry desserts.  I know I just posted a fabulous Blueberry Strawberry Sherbet (see link below).  That recipe was a perfect segue from strawberry month to blueberry month.  This recipe comes from Martha Stewart.  Again.  Gotta love Martha.  What better way to start the week, but with an old-fashioned lattice top blueberry pie.  I mean look at it!  Its stunning!  The recipe comes from her cookbook “Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts”.  This cookbook is beautiful!  Its an overload of beautiful pies and fillings and sweet and savory.  I would love to make everything in this cookbook.  Maybe some day I will. 


The pie is pretty straight forward.  I used my go to “pate brisee” crust (see link below).  The crust recipe is also a Martha Stewart.  Right now the berries are at their peak, so they don’t need a lot of adornment.  Just some thickener and some sugar and poof!  A pie!  What a pie!  Please try this recipe.  Let me know what you think, and stay tuned for the next tasty blueberry installment.

Here are the links to other blueberry recipes:

Here is the link to the crust recipe as well:

The crust recipe will be near the bottom of the blog post.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Farmer’s Market Find: Fava Beans



I have always been interested in learning more about the fava bean.  Ok, I know you guys are all rolling your eye.  Stop it.  Beans can be exciting!  Especially after you eat them.  No really, I love me a good bean or legume.  Garbanzo, kidney, cannellini, green, yellow, canned, French-style and the list goes on and on.  Did you just say bean are boring?  I think you might have a change of heart my friend after I tell you about the ways of the fava.


When I go to the farmer’s market, I always look for new things.  Sure, I buy my tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots, but I also look for fruits and vegetables that are out of the ordinary.  Living in a smaller community there isn’t a lot of new or exotic produce available, so when something new happens to show up, I pounce on it.  Fava beans are rare find for two reasons.  One, they have a very short growing season and two, is the smaller community thing.   So, the last time I went to the farmer’s market, I snagged some.  Let me tell you, I must of looked particularly kitchen savvy that day, because the gentleman in the stall gave me way more than what I paid for.  Fava beans are a little on the more expensive side, so they are a treat.


We (the children and I) finished our shopping and headed home.  I immediately set to work peeling the beans from their large, soft homes.  Gabe and I made short work of a big job and in no time, we were on to step two.  The fava bean has a thick, white membrane around it.  In order to remove the membrane, the beans have be to boiled for just a few minutes to soften them.  Once the beans have boiled a few minutes, remove them from the heat and drain.  Let the beans cool until you can handle them.  Remove the white pod by pinching the end of the bean and squeezing.  What started as a great big bag of beans has now been reduced to a small bowl of green beans.



Now you that you have tackled all of the hard work, your possibilities are endless.  Eat them with butter, put them into a soup, make a topping to spoon over toasted baguettes (super delish) or make a spread.  If you would like to do the latter, by all means, continue reading! I hope you guys give these beans a try.  I know they look like a lot of work, but they are totally worth it.  Just remember they are harvested in late spring and if you don’t see them at your farmer’s market, just ask!!!!!!  The more the farmers hear about what’s becoming popular the more they will experiment with their crops.

Please read more for my fava bean spread………….


Monday, July 22, 2013

A Refreshing Palate Cleanser: Strawberry Blueberry Buttermilk Sherbet



I thought you guys might need to cleanse your palate after all of the cake I have been dishing up.  Yes it is technically ice cream, but it isn’t as thick and rich as some of them (wait until you read the next post) and it won’t leave you full.  Just refreshed, kind of like a summer breeze.  A really tasty summer breeze.


Martha Stewart has done it again.  This cooling sherbet will knock your socks off.  What drew me to the recipe was the use of buttermilk.  It gave it a tang that cut through the tartness of the berries.  The buttermilk also lent itself to the color of the sherbet.  I found the recipe on the Martha Stewart website.  Her recipe called for all blueberries, but alas, I only had a cup of them.  I substituted the strawberries for the other half and it the flavor is very similar to raspberries. 

The sherbet would be great served just on its own or with a small cookie.  It really isn’t a frozen treat that works well with cake, but if you are desperate…………………

Oh! The recipe was so easy, I didn’t take pictures of the process.  Let me know if you guys have questions!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Isabelle’s Pink-alicious Cake



So Isabelle is 12, and like it or not, I have to let her grow up.  The days will be dwindling when she loves everything pink and girly and pretty.  I know that attitudes have been at an all time high and unfortunately there is no weather man to tell me when I can expect some relief from this heat.  So for her birthday, the last one before she becomes a "TEENAGER”, ( if we don’t talk about it, maybe it won’t happen), I want to give her the prettiest pink cake ever. 


I was looking for something fluffy, something almost ethereal.  A pink billowy cloud of a cake.  I was searching through Pinteres,( I know, it wasn’t a cookbook), and I found a beautiful Strawberry Whopper Marshmallow Milkshake cake! Just saying it, brings my blood sugar up a few notches. It was just what I was looking for.  One minor problem.  I couldn’t find Strawberry Whoppers anywhere!  No problem!  Strawberries are always a good answer!  In place of the Whoppers in the middle of the cake and all around the sides, I used sliced strawberries.  The link to the original cake is listed below and it comes from a really cute blog!  Check it out! 


This was also the first time I have ever made marshmallow frosting.  It was a little intimidating (and super sticky), but it was absolutely delicious and surprisingly not too sweet.  It went really well with the strawberries on the cake.  Just a side note.  The strawberries were really too moist for the frosting.  They kept sliding down the sides of the cake.  It did look like I purposefully decorated it like that!


The next time you ever need a pink, fluffy princess cake, this is the one to do!  Have fun and eat cake!


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Two Birthdays and a Lot of Cake



I was blessed to have two of children in the same week.  Ok, the same week two years apart.  July 1st and July 2nd.  So it’s a really busy and a really expensive week.  We decided from the beginning that we would take our vacation week this week so the kids could have their birthday to themselves and then have a combined birthday on the weekend.  So far it has worked pretty well.  This year they both decided that they wanted a cake on their birthday and then again for the party.  I know I am crazy, but who can say no to cake? 


Alex the oldest, decided he wanted an chocolate cake with orange frosting.  Not orange flavored frosting, just the color orange.  Basically a Halloween cake.  In the middle of the summer.  So I set about making the Halloween cake.  I found the recipe for Devil’s Food Cake in Nigella Lawson’s cookbook “Nigella Kitchen”.  In this cookbook she centers her thoughts around the idea of “kitchen” and what it means to her and her family.  She lives in her kitchen.  I aspire to.  The recipes are her families favorites and like her other cookbooks, each come with a story of how it came they came to be.  I love her writing, her descriptions of flavor and the colorful language she uses.  She makes you believe with her words that this is truly the greatest chocolate cake you will ever have and then she does it again with the next recipe and you believe her, because it is true. 

IMG_0050 Birthday Breakfast.

The frosting for the chocolate cake comes from the cookbook “Joy the Baker” written by Joy Wilson. I have made quite a few recipes from this cookbook.  All of recipes can be found in the links below.  I needed a neutral frosting that just needed to be tinted the gregarious orange that Alex wanted for his cake.  I found Vanilla Bean Buttercream Frosting and it all came together.  I even like saying that.  Instead of using an actual vanilla bean, I used pure vanilla extract.  I am sure using the vanilla bean would have taken this recipe to a whole other level, but in the recipe she did suggest the extract as an alternative.


It was a cake fit for a 14 year old boy.  It was just what he wanted.  Isabelle’s birthday cake will be tomorrow. I just want to make sure your system can handle all this sugar I am going to unleash on you.  Links to other Joy the Baker recipes listed below.

Nigella Lawson recipes are linked below:


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sweet Sunday and a Happy Father’s Day!




Thanks Dad.  Really.  For your laughter, your silliness and your sweetness.  Thank you for teaching my children the value of just letting loose and being who they really want to be.  Thank you for engaging me in a really good argument every now and again.  Not a serious one, just one to prove to you that I can be witty and have a reason behind my beliefs too.  Thank you for always looking out for me and letting me still be your little girl.


I brought home from the farmer’s market a pound of strawberries and a pound of rhubarb and I had the perfect vessel to carry them.  Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp.  I found this delicious, waftable recipe in the “Back in the Day Bakery” cookbook.  This cookbook has become one of the mainstays in my library.  If I am looking for something sweet and tasty and something a little “down home”, I turn to this book.  I love the vintage dishes Cheryl and Griffeth Day (authors) use to present the dishes.  Makes me feel like home or a home where I would like to go.


I made this dessert with the intention of having my father enjoy it on Father’s Day when he came over for dinner.  I don’t think it’s going to make until then.  The crust on this crisp is so yummy!  It tastes like I baked an oatmeal cookie on top of the gooey filling.  If no one was watching I would pick just the topping off.  Ok, so the filling is absolutely fabulous too!  Living in Michigan gives me the pleasure of having access to fresh strawberries that are at their peek in June.  Strawberries from Michigan are the sweetest, tastiest, berries anywhere.  For real.

Please enjoy this on Father’s Day or any day for that matter.  Tell your dads and granddads how much you appreciate them.  To my husband as well, thank you.  For being a wonderful dad.

Here is a link for another recipe from the “Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook”:


Friday, June 14, 2013

Dark Chocolate and Salted Peanut Butter Ice Cream!!!!!!!!



I thought that would get your attention!  It is summer again and I dusted off the ice cream maker.  I know.  Not everyone has an ice cream maker and everyone likes quick and easy recipes.  Don’t you worry, there are plenty of quick and easy recipes to follow. 

So the school year ended and the long days of summer are upon us.  Farmers markets and food stands have both opened.  Time to get out and enjoy the gorgeous colors of the day and the smell of growing things in the air.  I have a small garden this year that I am trying to tend too.  I have tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, red peppers and a bunch of herbs.  Let’s see how long they last before either I or the bunnies kill them.  I will keep you posted.


So……..We all know that I am a sucker for anything and everything chocolate and peanut butter.  I can see you all nodding your heads.  “Yes Sara, you love chocolate and peanut butter.  Trust us we know.”  Well there is no reason to be snippy.  Just kidding.  This recipe was found in my “Joy the Baker Cookbook”.  I have made a few things of Joy’s and they have all turned out super delicious.  The cookbook is a great read and you can pick  any recipes out and you know it will be fantastic.  I have links to the other recipes at the bottom and I encourage you to try them all.  If you would rather follow along with me that’s’ fine too!  Just sit back and enjoy! Stay tuned for a fantastic summer!!!!!!!


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sweet Sunday: Salted Caramel Brownie



I think I have a problem.  Starting a diet makes me crave everything thing that I can’t have.  I mean, my diet started twenty minutes ago, I am craving potato chips.  Seriously it is almost instant.  I can go months without eating potato chips, but the minute I say to myself, “Ok self you are going to eat healthier and exercise and do yourself good”, the cravings start to happen. It isn’t always about salty things either chocolate and peanut butter have a way of derailing my “good for you” thoughts. 


Can I admit something?  I mean, please just keep this between you and me.  I have 46 cookbooks that tell me how to eat healthier.  46 of them.  They have have their own shelf on the book shelf and they stare at me all the time.  Use me, they say.  Open up the books and get your butt in shape, they implore.  One of these days I am actually going to listen to them.  Right now they are currently holding dust jackets and odd and ends and probably dust.  Yes, most definitely dust.


Well today I picked one up.  Cooking Light’s, “The Food Lover’s Healthy Habits Cookbook, by Janet Helm, RD.  I bought this book because of the concept.  The book is divided into 12 easy to follow steps on how to get healthier.  One concept per month, so you don’t over whelm yourself and lose track of what you are doing.  Craving something sweet and salty, I turned to the back of the book to the chapter “Eating Mindfully”. It caught my eye, because the pictures of dessert in it.  Salted Caramel Brownies to be exact.  Perfect!  Something salty and something sweet and get this, only 180 calories for a decadent brownie!

Ok, lets be realistic here.  It is all about moderation.  The brownies are baked in a 8x8 pan and you have to cut them into 20 servings, leaving you a brownie the size of your thumb nail.  A small brownie after a healthy meal is an indulgence, but what an indulgence it is.  My plan is to package the brownies into individual servings and then put them in freezer, so the pan isn’t staring me in the face.  Just knowing they are in there is a comfort.  Of course I have to dodge the Girl Scout cookies in there too.


Friday, April 5, 2013

Mexican Bubble Pizza



When the cats away the mice will play.  At least that is how it is in our house.  When the hubby’s away I see it as my chance to feed the children stuff we normally we don’t eat and recipes that I know he doesn’t like.  It is a win-win situation for both of us.  He doesn’t have to pretend to like the what I make and the kids get to try something new.  Do you see my logic? 


Today’s recipe is one that has always perplexed me.  I can’t figure out why the hubby doesn’t like it.  It is so super delicious and all the ingredients go really well together! I found the recipe for Mexican Bubble Pizza in an old cookbook.  “Pillsbury Best Family Meals from the Bake-Off” (volume 264 February 2003).  It is a handy cookbook that I picked up in the check out lane quite a long time ago.  The recipes were featured in the annual bake off contest Pillsbury holds every year.  A lot of the recipes are quick and easy for a weeknight meal.  Pillsbury products, such as biscuits, crescents, and pie crust take center stage in most of the recipes.  You can easily find these cookbooks in garage sales, yards sales and cheap stacks.  These cookbooks are jewels!


This delicious recipe says it serves 8 people, but I have a teenage son and he helped himself to three of the servings, so you might need to double he recipe. The biscuits lend a sweetness to the pizza and everyone fights over the crust. My kids like lettuce and tomato, but you could add chopped avocados, cilantro or black olives too.  Please try this recipe tonight.  I guarantee, it will become hopefully everyone in your family’s favorite.