On her kindergarten field trip to a strawberry farm.
This year has been a busy one in our household. We have had many changes and developments that relate to life in general. Birthdays, anniversaries, and accomplishments have come and gone with much ado but a very significant milestone has been reached and is now cause for celebration: my sweet baby girl, Madeline, has graduated from kindergarten. I am both proud and sad to see this come to pass.
Due to this, our recent move to a new town, and because any excuse for a party sounds good to me; we are going to have an extra special party for her fast approaching summer birthday. I recently had someone point out some of the beautiful wedding invitations available online and spent a little time visiting the Minted website and a few others for party favor ideas. I have to say, I’m a little surprised and impressed at how many beautiful things, that just a few years ago were DIY, are available to order. I’m debating on a few of the cute Minted party ensembles. The thought of receiving coordinating party embellishments and extras, ready to use (instead of staying up all night making them- not that I ever procrastinate or undertake huge projects!) is wonderful.
This makes planning the party so much easier
Now onto dealing with the bittersweet sadness of realizing that my baby is no longer a baby at but a: preschooler kindergartener FIRST GRADER.
But, as my Grandma Walton always says to me, I tell my Madeline every day: ”You’ll always be my baby- no matter how big you are!”.
Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner … if you want a quick, simple dip that is perfect for the occasion guacamole is your answer. Just a few ingredients are added to avocado to make this creamy, yummy dish.
If you aren’t familiar with avocados, these green fruits grow on trees and are actually large berries. There are many varieties available though the Hass is the most common. This variety is originally from California and is often called a California Avocado. In recent years the Slimcado, a variety originally from the West Indies, has had a huge increase in availability as it has become so popular among South Florida farmers that it is often referred to as the Florida Avocado. Though this larger variety (with a smoother skin) boasts reduced fat- it also has a higher water content and I personally think it is a little disappointing when used for guacamole. For best results I recommend you go for another variety.
Mangos, Hass Avocados, Slimcados and Limes at the Farmers Market
Before you make your guacamole you’ll want to make certain your avocados are ripe. They don’t need to be mushy but a slight give on the surface is a great indication that they are ready. If you purchase your avocados before they reach this point you can store them at room temperature and they will continue to ripen- I keep mine in my fruit bowl. Once they seem to be getting soft though either use them or put them in the refrigerator. They go from ripe to overripe (and brown inside) very quickly.
When you are ready to cut into your avocado they are a cinch to peel. First completely remove and discard the knob that attached it to the branch- you don’t want that to end up in your dip! Then cut around the fruit- all the way through to the pit. Use a spoon or avocado scoop to scrape the fruit from it’s skin. Dice or mash to your preference adding the lime juice to prevent browning. There is a rumor that adding the pits will keep it from browning but… doesn’t really seem to work. Though the resulting bowl of green mush isn’t necessarily beautiful- it is incredibly delicious!
Cinco de Mayo will soon be here. I’m planning a Mexican inspired menu to celebrate and thought flan would be perfect for dessert! Though the ancient Romans are credited with having created flan, the Spanish popularized this sweet custard style version that has become a staple in many of the nations that they influenced.
To make this simple recipe you fist make a caramel syrup then pour a custard over the top and bake in a water bath or “bain marie” until the custard is set. I enjoy baking this in a silicone round cake pan. Turning the finished product out when it is finished is very easy and if by chance some of your caramel mixture has solidified at the bottom of the pan as a brittle you can use it to garnish the flan when you serve it. For my bain marie I simply set the pan I am using in the center of a broiler pan then use my kettle to pour the boiling water in just after I place it on the baking rack of my oven.
Originally I was fond of using fresh grated orange zest to flavor this dish. However when I tried making this with pure citrus oil I was hooked- I love the intense flavor and convenience. Do be careful though- it is easy to over-do . If you prefer another flavor combination you can easily omit the citrus and use whatever other flavorings you like- coconut, coffee, vanilla, and almond are among our other favorites.
Heat oven to 350ºF. Spray a 9” round pan (that is 3” or deeper) with non-stick cooking spray.
In a small saucepan heat sugar over medium high heat until sugar melts and turns amber. Be very careful not to burn, once it melts this can happen quickly.
Remove from heat and pour evenly into bottom of prepared pan. If the sugar hardens before evening out in the pan don’t worry, it will even itself out as it cooks in the oven.
In a blender combine the remaining ingredients. Blend briefly to thoroughly mix. Pour into pan with sugar then cover with foil.
Place pan in a larger pan that will allow you to create a “bain marie” or hot water bath. Pour warm water into the larger pan until it is half the depth of the flan mixture inside the foil pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes until custard is set in center.
Remove from oven and water bath, cool, then refrigerate. When ready to serve place bottom of pan in warm water briefly then invert onto serving plate. Garnish with fresh orange slices.
Last year, when I told my 9-year-old son we were going to decorate eggs, he got excited. He started plotting and planning what he would do with crayons, markers, and food coloring. When I began to peel the plain white boiled eggs, he was visibly surprised. “Mommy, have you forgotten something?” he asked, his tone edged with disappointment.
I gently removed the yolks then mashed them with some mayonaise and a little mustard until smooth.
As I carefully cut a zig-zag pattern around the edge of each egg, he quietly watched.
I used a pastry bag with the round tip to re-apply the yolk mixture in the egg, piping more than the original amount.
I added a sliver of carrot
Plus two small capers for eyes
Or a sliver of baby gherkin pickles (for even bigger eyes) and suddenly decorating eggs has nothing to do with food coloring.
Max decided he needed to do a little of his own decorating.
And, of course, his designs had to involve boats or fishing.
This year, after reading a very confident discourse by another foodie (who was not at all consistent with what grandma does), I decided to play with my food and see what kind of difference time really makes.
Regardless of your preferred cooking time, start with cold water— enough to cover your eggs in a single layer. Add 1 TBSP salt to the water and then bring the water to a rolling boil. After the rolling boil is reached, place the lid on the eggs and allow them to sit for the desired number of minutes for your preferred level of done-ness Read more…
When I first saw Scotch eggs on the menu of an Irish pub a few years ago, I’ll be honest, the description both fascinated and horrified me. This rich dish is traditionally made by surrounding a hard boiled egg with sausage and breading then deep frying it. Though the traditional recipe has many enthusiasts I came up with this baked, greener, option that I’m calling Irish eggs in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Because they aren’t fried they are quite a bit healthier and you can use pork, chicken, or turkey sausage to suite your preference. I hope you find them tasty! Read more…
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Many moons ago, just before Easter, I was born. It was one of the few times in my life that I was exceptionally early (6 weeks to be exact). I came home from the hospital just before Easter Sunday. Since then Easter and my birthday have shared a close proximity and I’ve often ended up with Easter-themed cakes and treats. Somewhere my mother has a photo of the time I climbed on the dining room table (at the age of 2) and helped myself to a bunny shaped cake. It wasn’t pretty—by the time I was discovered the cake was a pile of coconut and crumbs.
I created this recipe for Easter this year but you could easily enjoy these little cookie nests year round. They’re delicious! Read more…
Family recipes are some of the very best you can have, not only are they normally tried and true but they often come will precious memories attached. I have many recipes that I treasure, especially from my grandmothers.
For as long as I can remember, this strawberry cake recipe was a favorite dessert of mine. I have photos to prove that this was the cake I requested for birthdays when I was young. Recently however, I realized how many of my family members are emotionally attached to this recipe.
Fat Tuesday is right around the corner and this is the perfect time of year to make one of my favorite New Orleans recipes, Shrimp Creole. If you are giving up meat for Lent– or you just want a simple new recipe to enjoy seafood–this is a great option.
When I make it at home, I often start the rice in my rice cooker and have the entire dish assembled and ready to eat by the time the rice is done. This is a great recipe to make when company it coming. Thanks to the vegetables in the rich, tasty sauce you don’t need as much shrimp and it really is a low stress dish to make!
Chop the whole peeled tomatoes
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
2 bell peppers (1 green, 1 red or yellow), chopped