Balsamic Strawberries – An easy way to serve strawberries

Balsamic Strawberries

 

I admit, when I first heard of putting balsamic vinegar on strawberries I thought it sounded crazy at best, and disgusting at worst.

But then I tried it.  Oh my!  Somehow, the balsamic vinegar brings out all the strawberry-ness of the berries.  It doesn’t taste vinegary at all.  The strawberries are elevated to be their best selves.  Fantastic!

And it’s such an easy thing to do.  Clean and slice the berries.  Add a bit of sugar and splash of balsamic vinegar.  Stir and serve.

You need to try this!

It’s more method than recipe, but here are some measurements to get you started.

  • 3 – 4 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

Stir it all together and be amazed at how this weird sounding combo is one of the most delicious things you’ve ever eaten!

Homemade Lemon Ice Cream

Homemade Lemon Ice Cream

 

If you like lemon and ice cream, you will love this!  Homemade Lemon Ice Cream is based on my old no-cook ice cream recipe, with cream cheese added.

I bought the lemon curd a while back and stashed it in the pantry. Sometimes I buy inspiration ingredients.  I don’t have a specific plan for them, so they just wait until a good recipe idea hits me.  That was the case with this jar of lemon curd.

This ice cream is creamy, smooth and full of lemon flavor.  It’s simple to make, since there’s no cooking involved and it only has five ingredients.

Here’s what you’ll need:   [Read more...]

Chocolate Cobbler in the Slow Cooker and A Dessert that Flopped

chocolate cobbler in the slow cooker done

 

I’ve been creating lots of dessert recipes for the Slow Cooker Desserts Series.  But my attempt this week failed.

Rice pudding does not really work in a slow cooker.  Or if it does, it’s more temperamental than other desserts.

I tried to make Cranberry Orange Rice Pudding topped with pistachios.  The flavor was good, but it wasn’t pudding-ish at all.  It was more like overcooked rice.  Not blog worthy at all.

So I decided to share one of the first slow cooker desserts I ever made.  It’s also still one of my favorites.

You probably have all the ingredients in your pantry to make it.  I love recipes like that.  And it’s chocolate.

You can find the recipe for Chocolate Cobbler in the Slow Cooker here.

And find all the recipes in our Slow Cooker Dessert series here.

Slow Cooker Dessert Series

Mediterranean Chicken Skillet – A Variation of Basic Chicken Skillet

Mediterranean Chicken Skillet - Basic Chicken Skillet variation

 

This easy Mediterranean Chicken Skillet starts with the Basic Chicken Skillet:

Basic Chicken Skillet. Start here to create many meals.

 

To the basic skillet we add tomatoes, black olives and feta cheese.  Serve it over couscous cooked in chicken broth and you have a very easy weeknight dinner.

I took the idea for this dish from Mediterranean Chicken in the Slow Cooker.   This quick version is a little different.  Instead of the whole garlic cloves in the slow cooker version, the skillet method uses crushed garlic.  There are a few other differences too, the biggest being the cooking method and time.

I’ve made several variations on the Basic Chicken Skillet and I’m amazed at how different they all are.  It’s been fun and easy to “accessorize” the basic skillet in different ways.  And we really enjoyed this Mediterranean version.

Here’s what you’ll need (minus the onion, which didn’t make it into the photo):   [Read more...]

Homemade Beer Cheese – a Kentucky Favorite

Homemade Beer Cheese

 

Have you ever heard of Beer Cheese?  I’m guessing if you’re not from Kentucky, you probably haven’t.

Beer cheese is a served in local restaurants as an appetizer.  You can also find it in grocery stores, but it tends to be pretty expensive.  The spread is smooth, very cheesy with a small amount of spice.  It’s good on crackers, carrot sticks and celery sticks.  It’s made with a small amount of flat beer.

If you’re looking for a fun dish to have for Derby Day (May 3 this year), consider this easy appetizer.  (But don’t forget about Kentucky Nut Pie, which is a Derby classic!)

You will need a food processor for this recipe.  I don’t have one, so I borrowed from a neighbor.  I think they were happy with getting some of the Beer Cheese in exchange.

Here’s what you’ll need:   [Read more...]

Weekend Links – Travel and Reading

Reading, Quitting and Sticking with It

Last week, I admitted that I have a habit of ditching books that I’m not enjoying.  I’ve been wondering if that’s always a good idea.  I’ve decided it’s a mixed bag.

On the one hand, it’s good to quit some books.  Just because others love them, doesn’t mean you will share the love.  Last week I determined that I would finish Gone Girl.  I wasn’t liking it, but I just kept thinking it would get better.  I slogged my way through 90% of it and couldn’t take any more.  Finally, I did something I’ve never done before – I googled to find out the ending.  Good grief!  I’m so glad I decided not to read through to the ending.  Those were some seriously messed up characters with little to no redeeming qualities.

This has taught me that I only enjoy reading books where I can have some sympathy for the characters.  And that if I really want to quit a book, I will put it down.

On the other hand, on the advice of several people, I picked up The Language of Flowers again.  I started this book a few months ago, but didn’t get far into it before quitting.  It seemed like it was going to be very sad.  But now that I’ve started reading it again, I’m really liking it.  I’m not very far into it, but I predict that I’m going to like this one through to the very end.

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Travel

I haven’t put much time into planning our Disney trip lately.  I’m just try to keep up with the latest Fastpass+ info, so I’ll be in the know.  But once I put together our planning booklets, I will share those with you.  Until then, here is a photo of two from past trips.  I know these seem like planning gone crazy, but when you travel with a group of 13 people, it’s very nice to have everyone know what we’re doing.  I really hate standing around trying to figure it out with that many people.

photo-40

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I must have a little spring fever, because in addition to our upcoming Disney trip I’ve been thinking about other trips as well.  So far, we don’t have any actual plans for other trips, but I’ve been doing a lot of dreaming.

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 12.16.49 PM

I listened to this podcast from The Art of Simple.  In this episode, Tsh talks with Stephanie Langford about the year long, round the world trip her family has been experiencing.  For a variety of reasons, this is not something that my family will ever do, but it is something that we’ve had fun dreaming about over the years.  And I love hearing stories of people who have taken off on long adventures together.

We’re getting near the end of our homeschool year and we’re all getting tired.  The idea of making next year full of field trips is enticing.  Especially when I read these 12 Things Children Learn While World Schooling.  It has me thinking about how we can incorporate some of that adventurous spirit in our school, while sticking much closer to home.  If you’ve got thoughts on that, I’d love to hear them!

I pray you have a lovely Easter weekend!

 

Slow Cooker Apricot Crisp

Slow Cooker Apricot Crisp

 

I am really liking creating these slow cooker desserts.  But even better is getting to eat them!

Late yesterday afternoon, I put this simple Apricot Crisp in the slow cooker.  Then we had dinner, cleaned it up, took a walk around the pond.  Wednesday is the night that all of our kids are gone, except the youngest.  We settled in with her for the evening and enjoyed this dessert together.

It was a great way to top off the day!

This recipe is just about the same as my Slow Cooker Peach Crisp recipe.  I just used apricots instead of peaches.  Apricots have a deeper, sweeter taste than peaches and they were so good in this crisp.  The brown sugar and oats cooked bubbly around the edges and even browned a bit.

I’ve also realized through this Slow Cooker Dessert Series that 95% of all slow cooker desserts should be topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Fact.

Here’s what you’ll need to make Slow Cooker Apricot Crisp:   [Read more...]

5 Ways to Eat Kale – or what to do with the rest of the bag of kale in the fridge

5 Ways to Eat Kale

 

Weird news:  4 out of 6 of the people in my house have decided that they really like kale.

That’s not something I would have seen coming.  But my youngest two kids actually ask for me to buy kale.  Odd, but true.

Since I’ve been buying it more often, sometimes I end up with part of a bag leftover.  What to do with extra kale?

Here are a few ideas:   [Read more...]

Basic Chicken Skillet – The Foundation for Lots of Meal Possibilities

Basic Chicken Skillet. Start here to create many meals.

 

You know how you can create a lot of outfits if you start with a few basic pieces and add in accessories?

You can do the same thing with food.

If you start with a skillet of chicken, onions, garlic and green pepper you can create all kinds of fantastic meals.

Accessorize with tomatoes, basil, oregano and parmesan and have Italian chicken over pasta.

Embellish with Greek seasoning and serve it in a pita.

Accent with white wine, cream cheese, chicken broth and serve it over steamed spinach.

The possibilities are endless!  I’ve got several recipes ready to share that start with this skillet.  This is going to be a series of sorts, but I’m not going to tie it to one day of the week or give it a specific ending date.

I love the idea of starting with a few simple ingredients and creating meals from there.  And I’d love to hear your ideas too!  This is the kind of thing that you can start with the basics and add what you find in your kitchen.  No recipe needed.

Here’s what you’ll need for the Basic Chicken Skillet:   [Read more...]

Weekend Links, Latest Reads and My Bad Habit of Not Finishing Books

I loved this post on Modern Mrs. Darcy of book recommendations for writers from Shauna Niequist.  Shauna is the author of Bread and Wine, which I recently finished and highly recommend.

The list of books she recommended was interesting for several reasons.  I’ve read a couple of them.  Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott is one of my favorites.  Traveling Mercies, also by Lamott, has been on my to-read list for a while now.

I’m in the midst of reading another of Shauna’s recommendations – Gone Girl.  I have to admit, I’m not finding it to be as much of a page turner as I’d hoped.  In fact, I could probably just abandon it and not look back.  I’m going to stick it out and finish this book though for several reasons.

First, it made the list on Modern Mrs. Darcy for its interesting structure.  So far, I haven’t seen anything  too unusual so that must still be coming (I’m about 40% of the way through it).

Second, almost everyone seems to love this book.  They get wrapped up in it and can’t put it down.  There must be something too that.

And finally, I’ve recently (like yesterday) realized that I have a habit of quitting books.  Another book on the list, The Language of Flowers, was one that I quit after a few chapters.  And last night at book club, we were discussing all kinds of books and there were three or four that I had only read part of.

Modern Mrs. Darcy has a post on not finishing books.  I even commented that I have no problem abandoning books part way through, even read-alouds for homeschool.  Otto of the Silver Hand comes immediately to mind.  We hated that book!

But now I’m wondering if I’m too quick to abandon.  Maybe I need to give books a chance to finish out.  It’s possible that it’s unfair to judge a book on the first 30%.

What do you think?

In other bookish news, this came for me in the mail:

photo-38

Jessica Fisher is a friend of mine and I’m so excited about her latest cookbook.  Mia actually jumped up and down when she saw Best 100 Juices for Kids.  She loves juice and smoothies!  The book will be available April 15.

One of my friends had a brilliant idea that we should go to Becoming Conference in August.  I’m very excited about this upcoming trip.  Most of the conferences I’ve gone to the last few years have been times of intense learning.  I’ve come away with long to-do lists.  But Becoming looks like a refreshing type conference.  Just what I need!

McCormick Spice has a Pin-Spiration Sweepstakes going on right now.  They’re giving prize packs out every week.  Click here to enter.

Disclosure: I am working with McCormick this year.

 

 

 

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