Monthly Archives: May 2010

We have a Winner!

Wow! Thanks to everyone for participating in my first ever giveaway! This was kinda fun…I think we’ll have to do this again. Soon.

I had a blast reading about all your favorite cupcakes! I was seriously craving swirls of frosting and colored sprinkles all week – so thanks a lot for that. 😉 Looks like everyone has a soft spot in their hearts for the classics – vanilla, chocolate, red velvet. I have to agree. But it appears that the margarita cupcakes is shooting up the popularity charts as well. I have to say – I’ve never had a margarita cupcake but it sounds amazing! I think for my next happy hour, I’m going to have to my cocktail in cupcake form. Booze + cake = WIN!

Speaking of win – let’s get to the reason you’re here. The official winner of their very own copy of What’s New Cupcake by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson!

May I have the envelope, please? 😉

Comment #29 is the winner! Congrats to thepricklypinecone who said:

I have to agree. I love to bake the classics at home, but when I’m somewhere special or traveling, I like to go all out and try something different. Keeps things interesting. 🙂 Congrats again! I hope you enjoy the book!

Thanks again for playing, all! And thanks again for reading – you guys ROCK!

Happy Cupcake Baking!

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Hypothetically Speaking…

Let’s say there’s a room somewhere where you spend significant time. A room like…say…your office. For at least 8 hours a day, 5 days a week (if not more, for all the extra special folks out there) you are most likely in your office.

Let’s say you had a choice – from now on, your office can either be too warm or too cold. It can’t be just right. Someone came along and decided all of us nameless, faceless office peons in this world didn’t deserve to be comfortable. That JERK FACE!

Anyway, you must choose to spend at least 40 hours a week in a room that’s either too warm for your tastes or too cold. Of course, this is subjective. What’s warm to you is likely still cold to me. Think about your own personal warm/cold threshold.

Are you thinking?

Okay, now which would choose?

It’s hard, isn’t it? This is your office, so if the room’s too warm it’s not like you can strip down to your birthday suit and work in the buff – unless you work from home, in which case that’s your business. Just remember to cover up before you get on that Skype call with the LA office. Plus, if you’re working on a particularly boring task, a warm room can lead to a serious case of the Afternoon Naps. You’re plugging along entering data into a highly tedious spreadsheet and the next thing you know you’re passed out on your keyboard face down in a pile of your own drool. Not attractive. Also, not a good position to be in when your boss walks by. Just sayin’.

But on the flip side, is there anything worse than being cold? I’m talking chilled to the bone, shaking cold where your fingers and toes turn to little tiny ice cubes. Is it just me, or is it is extremely hard to concentrate like that? Chattering teeth and shaking hands do not a productive employee make. It’s impossible to know how to dress in the morning if your office is too cold – especially when it’s warm outside! People tend to look at you funny if you’re sporting a parka in July. Not that I’ve done that or anything…

Still can’t decide? Allow me to address a few FAQ’s for you.

Q: If it’s too cold, can I wear gloves at my desk?
A: Yes. But as someone who has tried this, prepare for all your work and emails to look something like this: aoihtishgishtisuhgwiethbskgal. Just throwin’ that out there.

Q: If it’s too hot, are electric fans allowed?
A: Yes. Electric fans are permitted if not encouraged. You can even point it straight at your face and hang your tongue out like dog on a car ride if you want – whatever blows your hair back. (Ha. Literally and figuratively)

Q: If it’s too cold, can I sneak a space heater under my desk?
A: Well…technically, you can. Are you supposed to? Mmm…Probably not. Be prepared to explain yourself when said heater blows a fuse and your entire workstation is without power for half a day. Not that I know anything about that either…

Also, space heaters have been known to cause a fire or two. So be careful, friends. Just be careful.

Q: If it’s too hot, can we have afternoon popsicle breaks?
A: Why, yes. Yes you can. Every day, in fact! Popsicles for everyone!

Okay, that does it! If I can’t compose a coherent email because of my gloves and if my illegal space heater is going to go around knocking out power (thus rendering the thing useless anyway) I have decided I’d rather spend 40 hours a week in a room that’s too warm.

As long as there’s fans and popsicles.

Can you tell I get cold at work? Because I do. And it’s so funny because people on the other side of the building are constantly complaining that it’s too hot. This just makes our cold problem worse. Because as maintenance cranks the AC in attempt to cool the other side of building, this side just gets steadily colder and colder and colder. 70 degrees. 68 degrees. 65 DEGREES! I CAN’T WORK LIKE THIS, PEOPLE!

I’ve been over there – to the warm side. I.am.so.jealous. I come up with excuses to walk over there just to GET warm. There’s a water fountain on my side – perfectly capable of refilling my water bottle. But there’s also one in the Desert Oasis (that’s what I’m going to call that side of the building now. Yep.) I’d walk an extra mile in shoes that hurt to get to a water fountain just to be warm for a few seconds!

So clearly while I’m working, I’m not thinking about popsicles. I’m trying to forget that I’m turning in to one. But if I worked on the other side, in that indoor Desert Oasis, I would totally take a popsicle break.

And would do so with these homemade treats!

I guess I would call these Smoothie Pops instead of popsicles, because they are made with yogurt. I used Greek yogurt to punch up the nutrition and add a little extra protein, but any kind will do. I used fresh strawberries and frozen pineapple (because it’s my favorite fruity combo) but any of your favorite berries or fruit would work. The little ice pop molds are really inexpensive and easy to find. I spotted them in the seasonal housewares section at Target over the weekend for about three bucks and snatched them up but I bet you can find them anywhere hyping up summer gear! These are so much fun to make and eat – guaranteed to cool you off!

Oh, so what did you decide? Too hot or too cold? 😉

CREAMY FROZEN SMOOTHIE POPS (Recipe Source: This really isn’t a recipe so…yeah. I’ll just say it belongs to all of us. How’s that? ;))

  • 6 oz. yogurt – any flavor you like (I used plain Greek yogurt)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen fruit, whatever you like
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup low fat milk
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • Sweetener of your choice (sugar, Splenda, honey, agave syrup), to your taste (I just used sugar and started with two tablespoons, blended everything, tasted it added 1 tablespoon more, then blended again and it was perfect)

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth and fully combined. Pour mixture evenly into ice pop mold. Freeze until solid. To remove, dip the mold in a bowl of warm water to loosen and slide out the pops. Makes 4 servings.

ENJOY! 🙂

One Year Ago: Strawberry Rhubarb Streusel Muffins
Two Years Ago: Lemon-Scented Blueberry Cupcakes

Don’t forget about my What’s New Cupcake giveaway! You have until Thursday night to enter. Hurry, hurry! Don’t delay!

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Filed under desserts, fruit, ice cream

Happy Birth-anni-blog-iversary-day! It’s a GIVEAWAY! – Closed

***The giveaway is closed as of 10:00 p.m., May 27, 2010***

Wow! There’s a lot worth celebrating ‘round these parts. First there’s the sunshine and warmer weather. That’s ALWAYS worth celebrating my book. Bye-bye snow and cold, hello flip flops and sundresses! FINALLY! I love these first few days of summer  – when the air gets warm but the breeze is still cool. When the Western sky glows pink and orange with sunset until past 9:00. Is it just me or does an ice cold beer or a glass of citrusy white wine just taste better when you’re sitting on the patio wearing a strappy dress with the sun on your shoulders? I’m thinking yes.

Next, there’s our wedding anniversary! Eric and I celebrated 4 great years of adventure and laughter on May 20. What a ride so far! He is truly my best friend and my soul mate. I’m pretty sure I’m the luckiest girl in the entire world. How I snagged such a catch, I’ll never know. But, man, do I ADORE that guy. Looking forward to many, many more. 😉

The day after that, my blog turned two! I have a toddler blog now. 😉 My very first entry on May 21, 2008 was for a Lemon Scented Blueberry cupcake – one of my hubby’s favorites – that I made him for, you guessed it, our anniversary!

In all honesty, when I started blogging, I wasn’t exactly in a great place. Saying I was in a slump is an understatement. It was blogging and writing and creating with food that helped pull me out of it. A million THANK YOUS for reading. Your support and thoughtful comments mean more to me than you’ll ever know. Blogging is part of what makes me happy and I’m so thrilled you let me share a bit of that happiness with you. Thank you so so much for hanging out with me here.

Along with turning two, my blog just passed the 200th post mark – which is exciting! Not all my posts contain recipes, but most do! There’s well over 150 tasty treats and good eats to read about here. That’s kind of impressive? Maybe? I mean, for a novice home cook, that is. 🙂

And if all that wasn’t enough, my birthday is next week! 28. Whoa. That is just inches from 30. I mean, it’s looming here. Can you believe it? Me neither!! Wasn’t it just last week I graduated high school? Sure feels like i!. Two weeks to day after mine, Eric hits 28 too. So many milestones, so little time!

With all this celebrating going on here, that means there has to be a gift or something in the works. Maybe some cake or something? Well, there is. The best part is – it’s not a gift for me, it’s a gift for YOU! All my wonderful readers! Welcome to the first ever GIVEAWAY here at Milk & Honey.

I have a little something for you. It’s kinda fun and I think you’ll like it.

What is it, what is it? Is the suspense killing you? Don’t let it do that, it’s not THAT exciting. LOL.

I’m giving away a copy of the latest bundle of cupcake cuteness courtesy of Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, the authors of Hello, Cupcake!

The book is called What’s New, Cupcake and it’s packed to the brim with more super-cute cupcake decorating ideas.

In case you’re not familiar, these books are just too cute for words! The authors use everything from candy, to donuts, to funky frosting to make some of the most creative and fun cupcakes you’ve ever seen. I have Hello, Cupcake and I love it! The instructions are super detailed, all the materials you need are laid out explained in the instructions and there’s a picture of every creation. No need to be a pro to make impressive treats for your family and friends!

Since I love the first book so much, I thought you might like to have the second!! I think you’ll really enjoy it!

Now for the specifics. I’ll refrain from using the word ‘rules’. Rules are for chumps, right. 😉

TO ENTER:
Leave a comment on this post telling me about your favorite cupcake! Chocolate or white? Classic or crazy! Do you like ’em doused in frosting or with just a dusting a powdered sugar? Let me know all about it by Thursday, May 27, 2010 at 10:00 p.m. central time and you’re in the running!

A comment will be randomly selected (via random.org) as the winner. The giveaway is open to anyone in the US (my apologies to international readers) who isn’t related to me (sorry Family, you’re not eligible – wouldn’t be fair. 😉 ) I will contact the winner via email on Friday, May 28th.

GOOD LUCK, all! And thanks again for reading!

Disclaimer:
No one contacted me to provide this giveaway. I purchased it myself because I like you and I want you to have it. 😉 I received no compensation, monetary or otherwise for offering this giveaway. It’s just for fun. Really, that’s it.

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Mac & Me

Yesterday we welcomed a new Bundle of Technological Joy to our humble abode.

Aw, it’s an Apple. How cute.

So as of today I’m back online and ready to resume my regular scheduled blogging. Good thing too because I’ve got a backlog of recipes to share!

I’ve always been a Macintosh kind of girl. It’s what we learned on in school and at home – typing and playing games. Come on, Oregon Trail, anyone? That game rocked my socks. LOVED it. Hate to be the bearer of bad news here but…you just got bit by a snake. Also, your BFF died of Cholera. Sorry. In college, I rocked a purple iMac even though NO ONE was using them on campus back then and I spent countless hours in computer labs anyway. On the plus side, no one ever asked to borrow my computer. 😉

I’ve been away from the Mac for quite a few years and needless to say I’m pretty excited to be back. Even Eric, the eternal Mac holdout, has to admit it’s pretty bad ass. So here we are, connecting to our elementary school roots in a much cooler and more productive way! HOORAY!

While I was offline there for a week, I took the opportunity to look through some of my cookbooks for some new recipes to try. Usually when I’m in the kitchen, my laptop is right there with me – like some kind of fancy, electric kitchen gadget. Whisk? Check. Mixing bowl? Check. Laptop? Check. I’ve always enjoyed my cookbooks of course, and will continue to collect them for, well, ever, but finding recipes online is “easier” somehow. More convenient. I’m not sure how, considering searching the interwebs tends to overwhelm me to the point where I get a bit anxious and have to step away from the computer, but somehow it’s easier. So I tell myself.

If I wanted to keep cooking sans 21st century kitchen help, I was going to need to get resourceful. And by resourceful, I mean opening a book and reading it. Wow. Pretty novel concept, eh?

This worked out in my favor! The evidence is this super simple and flavorful yogurt chicken recipe that’s a snap to throw together. Throw everything in a storage bag the night before, marinate in the fridge and then toss it in the oven. Easy-peasy! I used bone-in, skin on chicken thighs this time because they were on sale and I love the richness of dark meat, but any cut, even boneless, skinless breasts, will work – whatever your preference.

The end result was a crispy, tangy, flavorful, juicy piece of chicken. Such great flavor for minimal work. I served this up with homemade mashed potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts – totally hit the comfort food spot. Delish!

YOGURT MARINATED CHICKEN (Recipe adapted from: Taste of Home Cookbook, pg. 215)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup fat-free plain yogurt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh gingerroot
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 to 2 pounds bone-in chicken pieces (thighs, breasts, legs, wings, a mix of all – whatever you like!)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Combine the first 9 ingredients in a resealable plastic bag. Add chicken. Seal the bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate for 8 hour or overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 375. Spray a metal rack with cooking spray and place on a cookie sheet. Place chicken on the rack and discard remaining marinade.
  3. Roast chicken for 45 minutes or until done. Let rest for five minutes before serving.

ENJOY! 🙂

One Year Ago: Chicken Marsala Pasta Toss – one of my favorite easy weeknight meals!

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Beachin’ Pizza.

It took me a while to get excited about homemade pizza. Even most frozen varieties seemed to taste better than my experiences with the homemade stuff. See my story about being traumatized by homemade pizza as a 9 year old. 😉 It would scare you off too. I’ve gotten over my fear at least enough to make it myself, but I still don’t make pizza from scratch as often as I would like.

I was humbled to be named the WINNER of the April “You Want Pies with That?” round-up for my springy Pineapple Strawberry Pie (THANKS ALL!) and had the honor of picking May’s theme. I picked…you guessed it…PIZZA PIES!

I picked it because I knew everyone could get really creative with it. If there was ever a blank canvas in the world of food, it would be an empty pizza crust ready to be piled with toppings. There are no limits.

That said, I was all excited to go crazy with pizza. It’s fun to take the flavors of other meals and pile them on top of a homemade crust. Tacos, chicken wings, cheeseburgers and BBQ are all items that translate well into the world of pizza. Those are all well and good but I wanted to create a pizza like nothing I had ever seen before.

Off I went on my merry way. 🙂 To CREATE!

One of my husband’s favorite summer meals is a shrimp and sausage boil. It’s a pretty simple concept with four distinct pieces to the puzzle – shrimp, smoked sausage, red potatoes and corn on the cob. It’s all boiled up in a broth seasoned with Old Bay seasoning and lemon. It’s quick to put together and all the different textures and flavors make for a really satisfying meal.

So…I got thinking. Is it possible to put all the goodness of a shrimp and sausage boil on a pizza? Would that work? Is it crazy? Have I gone off the deep end here?

I’m brave. I like to try new things. I could do this. And if it flopped, well, so be it. I’m no stranger to that either. Bring it!

 Here’s what imagined:

Homemade pizza crust, topped with a garlicky Parmesan/Old Bay “cream” sauce. I say “cream” because I actually made a béchamel with low-fat milk – per usual. On top of that, chunks of shrimp, marinated in beer and sprinkled with a bit more Old Bay, lemon-pepper corn kernels, sliced turkey kielbasa (any smoked sausage would do) and paper thin slices of red potato. To finish it off, just a dusting of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a sprinkling of fresh parsley for a bit of brightness.

Now, did I succeed with this ambitious project?

The correct answer is…YES!

This was an awful lot of work as everything from the crust to the sauce to the toppings was made from scratch but in the end it was worth it. So many different flavors going on here that combined very well on a golden brown crust.

Let’s talk about a couple of the individual elements, shall we? Namely, the crust and potatoes

First the crust. Now, I really like this thin and crispy recipe from Cooking Light. I actually haven’t made any others since I found this one. I decided to go ahead and try the Baking Illustrated recipe this time (as seen at Brown Eyed Baker and  Annie’s Eats ). It’s very good. I liked the flavor and it got nice a crispy on the bottom which I like. However. I did find that it to be almost too much crust. It puffed up so much, it was like eating a chunk of white bread (not to say that’s bad…that’s just not how I like my pizza) It could have been operator error, I admit that. After the initial rise, I didn’t get down to the business of rolling and baking right away because I wasn’t ready. So it sat there on the counter for what was, essentially, a second rise. That could have affected the outcome of my final product for sure. Even so, the ease and the texture of the thin and crispy recipe will still probably keep that one at the top of the list. At least for now.

And the potatoes. This was the part that worried me most. I knew if I left the potatoes in chunks, they would have to be par boiled before going on the pizza. Then I was worried that they would just turn to mush and I didn’t want that. So I decided to go with super thin slices. I don’t have a mandolin, and frankly those things give nightmares about lost fingers and bleeding out alone on the kitchen floor, so I used the thin slicer blade for my food processor to slice up the potatoes. I hadn’t used that particular blade yet, but let me just say I am IN LOVE. In fact, I went a little crazy, feeding potato after potato through the tube and watching them instantly transform into magically thin slices while squealing with delight. Really, you only need 1 to 2 good size reds to have enough for the pizza – it’s only a 12-incher after all. After they’re sliced, I soaked them in water for a good 20-25 minutes or so to remove the starch. Before I was ready to put them on the pizza, I drained off the water and patted them dry with a clean kitchen towel.

I couldn’t decide if I should try to give the potatoes a head start on some color by giving them a quick roast in a hot oven. In the end, I didn’t, but next time I will. Although the potatoes were tender after the pizza was done baking, I think the end result would be more attractive with a bit more golden brown deliciousness over the top since there’s not much cheese. I included that step in my recipe below.

So there you have it! A delicious and creative pizza treat! Enjoy!

SHRIMP AND SAUSAGE BOIL PIZZA (Recipe inspired by this meal)

Please excuse the craptastic photo – it’s the only one I had uploaded to Photobucket before my computer crapped out. It’s all I got, kids. Be gentle, I just lost an old friend. I’m grieving. LOL. 😉

For the Crust:

  • 1 lb pizza dough of your liking (Here’s the recipe I used this time. Here’s the one I like the best. Premade works too, whatever your preference.)

For the Shrimp & Sausage:

  • 1/2 lb. raw jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (or thawed if you’re like me and use frozen), and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • About 6 ounces beer
  • About 4 ounces smoked sausage, very thinly sliced (this is about a quarter of a 1 lb. package, any kind you like will work. My preference is turkey sausage)

In a bowl, combine shrimp, Old Bay and beer and toss to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes.

While the shrimp marinates, heat a skillet over medium heat. Gently brown the sausage slices on both sides. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

In the same skillet, cook the shrimp pieces until just barely done – 1 to 2 minutes TOPS. In fact, if the pieces are a little underdone, that’s okay, they’ll finish cooking in the oven. Transfer to another plate and set aside.

For the Corn:

  • 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon butter (I used Smart Balance here)
  • The juice of half a large lemon (or less if that’s too lemony for your tastes)
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Combine corn and butter and steam in the microwave until defrosted and just tender – about 2 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and pepper. Set aside.

For the Potatoes:

  •  1 to 2 good sized red potatoes (eyeball it), sliced ultra thin
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & freshly cracked black pepper to taste.

Place potato slices in a large bowl of cool water and soak for 20 to 30 minutes. Drain the potatoes and dry the slices thoroughly with a clean kitchen towel.

Put the slices on a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Brush the tops of each one with a little bit of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in a hot oven (450 degrees) until just barely golden brown – 5 to 10 minutes.

Helpful hint: Roast your potatoes while you preheat your pizza stone!

For the Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup finely minced onion
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, finely minced or pressed
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning (or to taste)
  • Salt & freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add onions and garlic and cook until the onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add remaining butter to saucepan and allow it to melt. Add flour and stir until combined and golden brown – about 1 minute. Slowly add milk, stirring constantly. Continue to stir until the milk just bubbles and thickens – about 5 minutes.  Add Old Bay and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and add Parmesan cheese, stirring until melted and combined. Set aside.

To assemble and finish:

  • Olive oil for brushing the crust
  • Cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Prepare pizza stone by preheating in a 450 degree oven for about 30 minutes (or per your stone’s instructions)

Meanwhile, roll out pizza dough into a 12-inch circle on a flour surface (I have a pastry mat I like to use, but parchment paper works fine too.

Brush the crust with olive oil all the way to the edge. Spoon on the sauce and spread out, leaving about an inch of crust uncovered around the edge. Sprinkle the shrimp and corn evenly over the sauce. Next make a layer of potato and sausage slices over the top. Sprinkle with cheese.

Remove pizza stone from oven and sprinkle the surface with cornmeal to keep the dough from sticking, carefully transfer the pie from the floured surface to the stone. Bake at 450 for 10 to 15 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly. Sprinkle with fresh parsley just before serving.

WHEW! Now pop the top on a bottle of beer and ENJOY! You deserve it after all that hard work! 🙂

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Filed under pizza, sausage, shrimp, veggies

We’re experiencing technical difficulties…

Please stand by…

It all started Thursday night when my laptop did something funny. As in, shut down by itself while I was using it. Just like that – black screen, eveything dark. Hm. Luckily, it rebooted no problem. It was getting close to 10:00, and thus nearing my bedtime so as I put it aside, I made a mental note to be sure and backup on the external hard drive after work on Friday in case something was about to go horribly wrong.

Well. Friday after work proved to be too late for the ol’ HP. As by then it was absolutely dead. It won’t do anything. It won’t turn on. It won’t boot. Nothing. NOTHING. And I JUST downloaded a totally embarrassing Hootie and Blowfish song on iTunes that I didn’t put on my iPod yet! DANGIT! I want my $1.29 back!

So anyway, I’m sans computer right now while we get this straightened out. Luckily, my husband the engineer has many engineer-y friends who do weird things like take apart computers for fun, so it’s currently awaiting surgery in a house across town. At least he’ll be able to tell us if it’s completely fried.

Needless to say, there will be less blogging going on in the next few days/weeks while my computer is either fixed or a new one is ordered, shipped, set up, PAID FOR (blast!) and such. Blogging from my iPod Touch just isn’t very productive and as I’m sitting here at my husband’s desktop in his (unfinished) basement man cave with the icy drafts, sticky cobwebs and what I swear sounds like a frog croaking in a dark corner somewhere, I can already tell this isn’t the place for creativity to bloom. Plus, there was incident yesterday involving an unsuspecting keyboard, a nearly full beer and a very clumsy wife. Now the ‘F’ key is a little sticky and I tell ya…I just don’t have the patience to deal with that. 😉 So yeah.

I have one entry nearly finished that I will post tomorrow (May’s You Want Pies with That? post) when Eric relinqueshes his hold on the desktop in favor of House and 24 on the big TV upstairs. Just have to take one day at a time from there.

Le Sigh. Please just hang with me while this gets sorted out. I’m planing my first giveaway here real soon to celebrate a variety of milestones including but not limited to, my second blogaversary, my 200th blog post, the surpassing of 450 Google Reader subscribers (THANK YOU, THANK YOU all for reading. Really. I know I don’t say it enough, but you guys are the BEST! I appreciate all the support so much – hence the gift about to come your way!) Also coming up in the next few weeks is our 4th wedding anniversary and my 28th birthday! Not to mention the start of summer! Lot’s to celebrate over here!

Happy Eating and Blogging everyone! I’ll still be reading all your great blogs on my itty-bitty iPod so keep up all the great work. More goodies comin’ at ya soon! (I hope, I hope, I hope.)

Later, Gators. 😉

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Weeded Out

Can we talk about weeds?

Weeds.

They’re all I can think about.

Every time I pull into the driveway.

Weeds.

Every time I glance out the window.

Weeds.

Every time I see our neighbor the Lawn Master suspiciously eyeing our yard from his very expensive and fancy ride-on mower.

Weeds. Embarrassment. Also, the feeling I should go out and apologize to said Lawn Master and beg him not to call the city on us.

Our yard? It’s a weed patch. It kind of looks like that lonely stretch of highway where the weeds grow rampant because of lack of mowing and maintenance. In other words, it’s an eyesore.

Yep. We’re THAT house in our otherwise well-groomed neighborhood. There’s also currently a rusty old farm implement parked on our driveway. So… that’s adding to ambiance as well.

You’re judging us, aren’t you? It’s okay. We know. Let me just say the rusty plow is just visiting and will be making its way down the road to a new home here very shortly. And we’re taking care of the weed problem. Promise.

We’ve had a couple dandelions here and there in our yard every since we moved in. Probably because the yard wasn’t all that healthy to begin with. They’d pop up and we’d just live with ‘em. Eric would mow over them for a couple weeks until it got blazing hot and they all died.

But this year. Yeesh… It’s been wet this spring. And it’s been relatively warm, as far as spring in Iowa goes. Things have been greening up and blooming in our area faster than I’ve ever seen since we moved here. And these little nuisances have completely taken over our yard. They may or may not have choked out the grass completely. Jury’s still out on that one. I mean, these are GIANT, MUTANT weeds. Look at this one:

This is the REDWOOD of Weeds. Look at the trunk on that bad boy. It’s an inch in diameter! THICK.

After I took that picture, Eric annihilated the thing by spraying it with hose at full blast. Where upon he turned to me and said: “I just succeeded in spreading the spores…and watering them.”

Touché, my good man. Touché.

Oh Weeds. You and I…we can’t go on like this. I’m sorry. So so sorry. The landscape guy is coming tomorrow. So…to the left, Weeds. To the left.

In an effort to distract myself from the spring nuisance that is our front yard, I went out in search of some of the great things about spring. The bright, colorful, juicy spring bounty.

And I found it! In the form of my favorite thing about spring…the STRAWBERRY. On sale for an amazing price, no less! SCORE! The first thing that popped in to my head – other than standing over the kitchen sink and stuffing my face with the entire pound, of course – was ICE CREAM!

I love strawberry ice cream. It doesn’t get near the hype it deserves. Vanilla is the big star with all its sundae and a’la mode applications and things. And of course there’s the fancy chocolate truffle, fudge ripple, peanut butter, caramel stuff that certainly has its place at the ice cream table.

But strawberry. It’s so pure. It’s so naturally sweet and delicious. And that color! So perfectly pink. Everyone looks great wearing it. 😉 On their face, that is. It’s reminiscent of bare feet and sunglasses. Sunburns and pool floaties. Maybe it even reminds you of picking dandelions and blowing those puffy white petals into the wind…

Just…not in my yard, k? We have enough of those.

Anyway, this is a quick an easy recipe courtesy of the ice cream master – Mr. David Lebovitz! It’s not a cooked custard type of recipe so the prep work is prety minimal. A quick soak for the berries, a whirl in a food processor or blender and you’ve got the beginnings of a delicious treat. The result?  Oh so good. Smooth, creamy, pink perfection. It’s just bursting with fresh berry flavor. It’s like summer in a bowl! This ice cream does contain one interesting ingredient – sour cream. Now, I’ve said before that I’m not an sour cream fan, but here it works. The slight tang in the background keeps the final result from being too sweet and the thickness of the sour cream lends a great creaminess. If you tend to prefer the texture of the egg-based ice cream recipes, I encourage you to give this a try. I swear you won’t even miss the eggs!

STRAWBERRY SOUR CREAM ICE CREAM (Recipe Source: The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vodka or kirsch (I used vodka from a very old and questionable bottle that may or may not be left over from our college days.)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Slice the strawberries and toss them in a bowl with the sugar and alcohol.  Stir until the sugar begins to dissolve.  Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour, stirring every so often.
  2. Pulse the strawberries and their liquid with the sour cream, heavy cream and lemon juice in a blender or food processor until almost smooth, but still slightly chunky.
  3. Refrigerate for 1 hour. (I actually chilled mine overnight) Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Makes 1 1/4 quarts.

ENJOY! 🙂

One Year Ago: Another fabulous strawberry concoction – Strawberry Lemonade!

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