Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sparkling Raspberry Limeade

It's been one hot summer here.  For the past ten years, we've experienced hot summers, so the heat doesn't bother me.  The shock is that it has been hot since pretty much April, and continues to do so now.  One thing I've been trying to do lately is cut back on soda.  I usually only drink one pepsi a day, but lately, it's been like 3 a week.  I've filled my bubbly drink need by mixing juice with soda water- you get used to it.

My brother used to work at an ice cream shop and one thing I always used to ask him for was a Raspberry Lime Rickey.  If I was lucky, he'd bring me one home- I don't think I have had one since he stopped working there, years and years ago.  When I saw this recipe in Food Network magazine this summer, I immediately ripped it out.  Fresh lime juice and raspberry sauce mixed in with soda water and you have the perfect bubbly fruity drink for a hot hot day.  I mix up a batch of the raspberry lime juice and keep it in the fridge, along with a liter of soda water, so when the craving hits, I simply mix up a fresh bubbly glass.  If you're having company, you can always mix up all the raspberry lime juice with a liter of soda water in a pitcher for all to enjoy.

Raspberry Limeade:

6 oz fresh raspberries (3/4 cup)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (16 small or 6 large limes)
1 liter soda or seltzer water

1) Put raspberries, water, and sugar in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat to a simmer, until sugar dissolves.  Crush raspberries against the side of the pan to squeeze out the juices.  Set aside once sugar is dissolved and let cool to room temperature.

2) Squeeze 1 cup fresh lime juice.  Put in medium sized bowl.  Once raspberry juice is cooled, strained the seeds and pulp with a fine mesh sieve.  Place the sieve over the bowl of lime juice and allow the raspberry juice to pour into the bowl.  Mix the raspberry and lime juice together.
3) Get a glass of ice, fill halfway with raspberry lime juice and top off with soda or seltzer water, garnish with a slice of lime and/or raspberries.
Source:  Food Network Magazine, September 2012

Thursday, August 23, 2012

First Day of School 2012

I can't believe it was already the first day of school.  It feels like summer break went by in the blink of an eye.  I took our traditional first day of school picture by our front door:
Sorry I haven't been around much lately, I've been busy cleaning and organizing my house- wait for a HUGE reveal soon!

I've been taking another photography class:
And doing lots of practice:
I've got a silly subject whenever I need-
Someone lost a tooth-
This little guy always has a smile on his face-
One of my favorite recent shots, my future model-
When Hazel got her new dance leotard, she and Addison about gave me their life savings to be able to get Maeve one of her own, and she is sooo cute in it-

AND, dad got a new bike or two...

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Time to get Organized: Garage clean up in 30 minutes

It's been cooling off a bit here, making being outside during the day slightly tolerable.  Hence, today's 30 minute clean up was the garage. The garage is not done by any means, but I thought another before and after of a 30 minute clean would be inspirational.

Here are before shots from the front and then front to the side at an angle.  You can see my kids are not good at putting their stuff away.  It's hard to believe we actually parked both cars in here last winter.

One thing I fell prey to that Peter Walsh mentioned in his book is having a yard sale and leaving the stuff to rot in your garage.  I had a yard sale back in June, and my stuff was still out in the garage- 2 huge boxes and a changing table.  It literally took me five minutes to haul it back in the house during this clean up, but somehow it took me 2 months to motivate myself to give up that 5 minutes.  A piece of advice he gives is to never bring something back in the house that you were going to sell at a yard sale.  The only reason this came back in is because I'm selling it at a thrift sale and I have two weeks to label it and drop it off.

32 minutes later:

The bikes have parking spots (Note, I had previously done this, but they are actually back in them.  I used painter's tape and made each kid's first initial in their spot- these have worked great!)
The plasma cars and other vehicles have spots now too- again painter's tape.
Balls and bats, racquets have designated bins (anything ripped, cracked, or missing it's partner was tossed):
Water and nerf guns have a bin.
I think I'll be able to park my car in here as soon as I finish repainting that table and shelf:)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Blueberry Pie

I've always had fun going blueberry picking and found it to be one of my summer rituals.  The only problem with this blueberry picking was that I didn't like to eat the blueberries, just liked to pluck them off the bush.  When I was a senior in high school, I did the pie eating contest for my class- it was blueberry pie, and I actually realized that I liked blueberry pie.  I've only made a couple in my life, but I've always enjoyed them.

My sister, on the other hand, LOVES blueberry pie and in fact, for her birthday a few years ago, my mom made her a blueberry pie and now every year, she asks for another.  Her birthday was a week ago and I know she won't get to eat this pie that I made, but I wanted to make her the blueberry pie that she wanted for her birthday.  This pie is so good, I can say that I LOVE it too.  The crust is what makes this pie.  Take anything you hate or love and roll it up in this crust and it's like a little piece of heaven in your mouth- seriously!  Even though my sister can't have a slice of my pie, she can use the recipe to make her own and be assured it's dangerously good!

Top it with some homemade ice cream, and just try to eat one slice, just try!

Blueberry pie:

Oven:  425'

3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups crisco (use crisco not butter)
1 egg
1 TBSP white vinegar
5 TBSP cold water
1 tsp salt

2 pints blueberries
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 TBSP lemon juice

1) For the crust, using a pastry blender if you have it (or if you're kind of lazy like me, your kitchen aid with the dough hook attached), cut the crisco into the flour until it is crumbly like sand.

2) Crack the egg into a bowl, whisk it, then add it to the flour mix until it is incorporated and mixture is clumpy.  Slowly add the 5 TBSP of cold water, the white vinegar, and the salt and mix until incorporated and dough forms a sticky ball.

3) Divide dough into 3 equal sized balls.  Place each ball on a piece of plastic wrap, flatten into a small disk, wrap in the plastic, and freeze for 15 minutes.  If you forget and leave it in longer, just let it thaw on the counter for a few minutes.

4) Lightly flour the counter and rolling pin.  Gently roll the dough into a round that is slightly wider than your pie pan- flip and reflour frequently so dough does not stick to counter.  Using the rolling pin, transfer the dough into the pie pan.

5) Prepare the filling:  Rinse the berries in a colander.  In a medium bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and lemon juice.  Add the blueberries in and stir until coated.  Pour the filling into the pie pan.

6) Roll out the top crust- if you want to do a lattice like I did, lay out a piece of parchment paper, cut out the strips of dough with a pastry cutter, or a crinkle cutter, or just a pizza cutter for a straight edge.  Then weave the strips in and out of each other on the parchment paper.  If you are patient, refrigerate it for about 10 minutes to solidify the lattice- or if you are like me and not patient, just quickly flip the parchment paper with the lattice on top of the filled pie to transfer the lattice on.  Press the edges together and roll the excess under to give a nice high crust.

7) Bake the pie for 20-30 minutes until crust is golden- at this point, you can put foil around the edges to prevent burning, then cook an additional 15-20 minutes until filling is bubbly. (40-50 minutes total cook time)

8) Let cool before cutting and serving.

Filling:  Fine cooking magazine June/July 2012
Pie Crust:  Pioneer Woman

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Time to Get Organized on Tuesday: A Before and After

So, I vowed to do a 30 minute clean-up a day in my house no matter what.  There were a few days that we missed, but we made it up by doing 60 minutes the next day.  So here's my first update.

The upstairs hallway.  It has not been empty since we got our shipment last August.  My goal is to have the whole house purged before our 1 year anniversary.  Take a look at the dramatic difference to this hallway in 35 minutes last Sunday:
Now we can easily walk (or run) down the hallway in daylight or dark without fear of tripping on something.  (I'm loving those reflections on the freshly mopped floor- which was so easy to do with nothing in my way ;)
How did we do it?
I started by making piles of like items that went to the same area- each kid was assigned a task and when they were done, they would come back for more.  If they whined, they were given an extra minute of work.  There were books that had been unpacked, but never put away, boxes of winter clothes that needed to be taken to the basement, toys that needed to go bye bye, and baby clothes that no longer fit.  Everything found a spot or went to good will.

I'll tell you what, I'm liking the results and I know that less is more!  I felt so much stress everytime I walked up and down that hallway and now I feel peaceful.  In fact, I just discovered it'd make a great place for me to get some photos.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

S'mores Whoopie Pies

I've been wanting to make this recipe for over a year now.  I tend to have recipes in my head and then impulsively decide it is time to make them.  Last summer, I decided to make them, but one of the ingredients in the cake part of the pie was Graham Flour.  I did not have that, so I could not make them.  I finally bought some and then let it sit pretty in the pantry for about six months.  It's been so dry here that I wasn't too keen on setting up our fire pit on our sorry looking lawn.  When we were having my son's friends over for dinner, I knew these would be the perfect alternative to actual fire roasted s'mores.

The first one I bit into was okay, the next day, I had one for breakfast and it was really good, and finally on the second day- they were AWESOME!  Even my husband at first said, they are the second best type of Whoopie Pie I've made, then he changed his mind the second day to the best.  I'm not sure what it is, maybe the flavor of the graham flour marinates itself into the cake more as each day passes, but they just kept getting better and better!

If you are looking for a fun summer inspired treat, try these today, they won't disappoint!

S'mores Whoopie Pies:

Oven:  375'

1 1/2 cups graham flour (**)
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 TBSP unsalted butter
4 TBSP shortening (CRISCO)
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 TBSP milk
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
**(If you can't find graham flour, you can use whole wheat flour, I was also thinking part whole wheat/part fine graham cracker crumbs)

Marshmallow Icing:
3/4 cup marshmallow fluff
6 TBSP unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Ganache:
2 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 TBSP light corn syrup

1) Preheat the oven to 375'.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2) In a bowl, whisk together graham flour, all purpose flour, baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, and salt.  Set aside

3) Cream butter, shortening, and brown sugar in bowl of mixer with paddle attachment.  It should be light and fluffy.  Scrape down sides, add in eggs, mix, then add in butter milk, mix, then scrape sides again.

4) In a liquid measuring cup, mix 1 tsp baking soda, milk, and white vinegar.  Add this mixture to the mixing bowl, along with the flour mixture.  Mix on low until combined.  Add in vanilla, mix on medium for about two minutes, scrape down sides, and mix once more.

5) Using a spoon, drop batter onto prepared cookie sheet.  Leave about 2 inches in between each.  Bake 10-12 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through.  Tops will be golden brown.  Let cool and remove to a wire baking rack.  Let cool completely before filling.  I was able to make 36 cookies, which makes 18 whoopie pies.

For the Marshmallow Icing:

1) Beat Marshmallow fluff and butter in mixing bowl with paddle attachment.  Add in powdered sugar and vanilla, mix about 3-4minutes on medium until light and fluffy.  Using a spoon, scoop a dollop of icing into the center of a cookie.  Use the back of the spoon to spread it out to the edges of the cookie- repeat until you have half the cookies frosted. **You could also use straight up Marshmallow fluff in a pinch.

For the Chocolate Ganache:  

1) Break up 2 oz chocolate (I used Ghiradelli semi-sweet).  Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Heat cream in small saucepan until boiling.  Remove and pour over the chocolate.  Let this sit for about 5 minutes while the chocolate softens.  Using a whisk, stir the chocolate and cream until combined and smooth.  Add corn syrup, whisk to combine and let sit about 5 minutes.  Scoop a small amount of chocolate onto the marshmallow icing on the cookie- use the back of the spoon to spread it out.  Place a top on the cookie and you have a whoopie pie ready to eat!

Graham Whoopie Cake adapted from Whoopie Pies by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell
Marshmallow Icing adapted from How Sweet Eats
Chocolate Ganache adapted from Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather

Which one do you want?