Friday, August 29, 2014

Blackberry Scones

We talked the kids into picking us some blackberries. My niece gave me a sandwich bag full. Then my daughter made the mistake of handing her bag to me so I combined them. She was not happy with me but I gave her the promise of scones. Now, I know she loved the scones but my son normally isn't a muffin/scone type of guy. He kept hounding me for more. I guess he really likes blackberries. These are really good.
Blackberry Scones
1 Tbsp grated lemon zest
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp sugar for the blackberries and additional for the top
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1¼ cups blackberries
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp heavy cream

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  3. In a small bowl, toss the blackberries and 1 Tbsp of sugar. Set aside.
  4. In a food processor, combine lemon zest, flour, ½ cup of sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pulse about 5 times.
  5. Add the butter and pulse about 8-10 times until it looks like course crumbs.
  6. Add the egg, egg yolk, and milk to the flour mixture. Pulse about 10 times.
  7. Generously flour working surface.
  8. Add the dough to the flour working surface and form a ball.
  9. Using a 2½ inch round biscuit cutter, scoop some dough into the cutter to form a 1 inch scone.
  10. Repeat with the remaining dough about 3 inches apart.
  11. Brush the heavy cream on top of the scones and sprinkle with sugar.
  12. Bake the scones for about 15-20 minutes or until light golden brown.
Recipe adapted from here.  

One year ago................................I made Green beans with onions.
Two years ago..............................I made Asian Chicken Wrap.
Yes, I eat my scones with jam.
Did you already know..................
-Blackberries are also known as bramble because of the thorny stems.
-The plant of the blackberry is called the cane.
-A red blackberry will have the distinguishing white core and will not be hollow inside like a raspberry.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Eggplant Parmesan

Every time we eat at Olive Garden, I order Eggplant Parmesan. My husband does think I'm crazy. My kids have tried it and like it but they always order something else. Well, I have been receiving eggplant from my farm share lately so I decided to try making it for the kids. My son even at the leftovers the next day. I really liked this recipe a lot. I really can't think of a better way to use up my eggplant.
My poor lonely eggplant! 
Eggplant Parmesan
2 medium eggplants, peeled and cut in 1/2 inch slices
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup flour
4 tsp olive oil, divided
1 cup milk
2 tsp butter
1 cup dry bread crumbs
1 tsp oregano 
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1jar of marinara sauce
 8 oz. mozzarella cheese, slice into thick pieces

  1. In a colander, place the sliced eggplants.
  2. Sprinkle the eggplant with salt and allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  4. Rinse and pat dry.
  5. On a plate, sprinkle the flour. Set aside.
  6. In a bowl, mix 2 tsp olive oil with the milk. Set aside. 
  7. On a plate, combine the bread crumbs with the oregano and Parmesan cheese. Set aside.
  8. In a large baking dish, pour the marinara sauce. Set aside.
  9. Dip the eggplant into the flour mixture. Shake any excess flour off.
  10. Dip the eggplant into the milk mixture.
  11. Dip the eggplant into the bread crumbs to coat. 
  12. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
  13. Add the olive oil and 2 tsp butter.
  14. Add the coated eggplant and cook until golden brown.
  15. Place the golden eggplant into the baking dish. 
  16. Top the eggplant with slices of mozzarella cheese. 
  17. Bake the eggplant for 10 minutes. 
  18. Top with some of the marinara sauce before serving. 
Recipe adapted from Recipelion.

One year ago...............................I made Lemon Bars.
Two years ago.............................I made PB American Beauty Cake.
Did you already know......................
-Eggplant is classified as a fruit.
-Eggplant does contain small traces of nicotine.
-In ancient Asia, some aristocratic would dye their teeth black by using the skin of eggplant. (It is said to prevent tooth decay.)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Travel: Botanical Gardens

Before we went to the botanical gardens, I told the kids that I wanted them to learn one new plant's name and be able to describe the plant. During our visit, I would ask them if they had their plant and they told me they did. Not once did I ask my husband if he was going to do the game too. Well, he surprised me. When we were heading home, I asked the kids and they did very good. They named and described a plant for me. Then my husband named at least five plants. I told him I was impressed and he told me it was because he knew I would be asking. Plus he wanted to show up the kids. He won the game since I couldn't have named as many as he did without looking at my photos.
We decided to visit the botanical gardens since I wanted to bring my sister and the girls there. I was lucky to have chaperon my son on a field trip a couple of years ago. My husband had never been either. 
Throughout the gardens, there are these gigantic sculptors. The kids had a little fun with them like this fish attacking my daughter. The kids had fun saving her.
The gardens have paths through the woods which overlook the coast. There is a waterfall and wooden bridges. One of my favorite parts of the botanical gardens is the kids section. The kids sections resemble children's books like Peter Rabbit and stories by Robert McCloskey like Blueberries for Sal. There is a bear cave and a fairy garden for the kids to visit.
The kids can pretend to be part of the children's books like my son dressed up like a fisherman from the book Burt Dow Deep-Water Man.
Of course, the best part is all the beautiful flowers and immaculate landscape. My husband asked if we could have a yard like this place. I wish!
Did you already know........................
-In 2007, the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens opened.
-It took over 16 years of preparation to make the botanical gardens.
-The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens comprises of 270 acres of tidal shoreline. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Ice Cream Cake

My sister loves ice cream cakes. She loves them. Since we celebrated her birthday this weekend, I wanted to post a recipe for her. Yes, I made this dessert for her. Yes, she loved it. The kids loved it. How can one go wrong with ice cream and brownie? She loves Oreos and peanut butter cups so I included them in the dessert for her too. The best thing about making a homemade dessert for someone is that you can make it exactly to the persons liking like this dessert for my sister. I love my sister.
Ice Cream Cake
1 box of brownie mix (plus ingredients for the brownies)
1 container (14.3 oz) of Oreo cookies, fine crumbles
1 quart of peanut butter cup ice cream, softened slightly
20 miniature peanut butter cups, chopped
1 quart of cookies and cream ice cream, softened slightly
2 cups whip cream
Garnish: sprinkles

  1. In a 11x7 baking dish, bake the brownies according to directions. 
  2. Allow the brownies to cool completely.
  3. Sprinkle half of the Oreo crumbles over the cooled brownies. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, add the peanut butter cup ice cream. 
  5. Fold in the chopped miniature peanut butter cups.
  6. Evenly spread the ice cream over the Oreo crumbles and brownies.
  7. Sprinkle the remaining half of the Oreo crumbles over the peanut butter cup ice cream layer.
  8. Evenly spread the cookies and cream ice cream over the Oreo crumble and peanut butter cup ice cream layer.
  9. Evenly spread the whip cream over the top of the ice cream cake.
  10. Garnish the top with sprinkles.
  11. Cover tightly and place in freezer for several hours and the cake is frozen before serving.
  12. (Run a sharp knife under hot water before slicing to make it easier.)
Recipe adapted from Cookies and Cups

One year ago...........I made Ladybug cupcakes.
Two years ago.........I made Stracciatella Cookie Dough Ice Cream.
Did you already know..........
-President George Washington enjoyed ice cream at Mt. Vernon.
-The Library of Congress a recipe written by Thomas Jefferson for ice cream.
-First Lady Dolly Madison served oyster ice cream.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Have you ever had spumoni ice cream? It is three ice creams to make one great dessert. My friend told me how to make this dessert. It is like Neapolitan ice cream but with cherry, pistachio, and chocolate ice cream. The ice cream has candied cherries with nuts throughout it. It is easier to make this dessert with ice cream slightly softened or freshly homemade. This is the perfect dessert to serve on a hot day.
1 pint of chocolate ice cream
1/2 cup hazelnuts, roasted
1 pint of cherry ice cream
1/2 cup candied cherries
1 pint of pistachio ice cream
1/2 cup pistachio, roasted

  1. In a large bowl, combine the chocolate ice cream with the hazelnuts.
  2. Evenly spread the ice cream into a 13x10 baking dish.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the pistachio ice cream with the roasted pistachio.
  4. Evenly spread on top of the chocolate ice cream layer.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the cherry ice cream with the candied cherries.
  6. Evenly spread the cherry ice cram over the pistachio ice cream layer.
  7. Place plastic wrap on top of the ice cream and wrap well.
  8. Wrap a second time with aluminum foil.
  9. Place in the freezer.
  10. Serve once the ice cream has refrozen overnight.
  11. Serve in slices. 
One year ago...................................................Sunflower frosting.
Two years ago................................................Peach and Pluot Cobbler.
Did you already know....................................
-Spumoni originates from Italy.
-Vanilla ice cream can be substituted for the chocolate layer.
-Sometimes whip cream is folded into the ice cream.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Travel: Fort Knox

All summer, we had plans to visit Fort Knox but something would happen. A child would be in trouble. Another child was sick. The weather was a contributor to not heading up. Sometimes the beach was the trump card. Two of my Uncles from Mississippi even made it to Fort Knox before we did. Well, we finally did it. We made it to Fort Knox. The kids thought it was great with the labyrinth of tunnels. There were many places inside the fort that were dark so we had flashlights. We have plenty of pictures of the kids behind bars-it is a fort after all. 
The kids on a cannon. Blast off!
The kids climbed on everything. My sister and I were more tame. Maybe it was because we were worn out from all the stairs the kids insisted we climb. If a stairway lead to a dark place, we were there. Of course, we scared each other many times.
The kids acting sick at the old ambulance.
Also, all the kids had a partner. My sister so kindly volunteered to be my partner. At the end of our visit, my sister left me alone with the kids for a short time. Of course, I had more stairs to climb to head down to the water. I told my sister that I know she went to the car for a nap. 
The kids getting ready to conquer the fort!
We were lucky since it was a beautiful day. The sun was warm and the tunnels were cool. Most of the tunnels were dry. There were a few places water dripped down through the tunnels due to raining earlier in the day.
Let me help you up, partner!
Throughout the fort, there are cannons which the kids pretended to fire. Also, there are educational signs to learn more of the history of the fort but the kids were busy running through the tunnels. Inside the fort, the tunnels lead in one big circle.
Fort Knox has an entrance fee unless you have the State of Maine park pass or are a disabled Veteran. There is a gift shop but no dining facilities. We brought a lunch and had a picnic on the grounds. The fort does have an observatory but we skipped it since there was more than plenty for us to see.
Did you already know..........................
-In 1844, Fort Knox was established on the Penobscot River in Maine.
-Due to the British successfully invading the area twice, the Fort was built to protect the coastline. The Fort has never been attacked. 
-Fort Knox is named for the First Secretary of War: Major General Henry Knox.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Tarragon Chicken

I am always trying new chicken recipes. My husband likes chicken a lot plus it is normally an easy meal to make. Now, I do not cook with tarragon a lot but I figured I would try this recipe. I think its funny that I do not like licorice but I like tarragon. This chicken was so good. My husband loved it. I mean loved it. Sometimes it seems hard to impress my husband with my cooking but this meal did it. Of course, he didn't eat any of the green beans I served with the meal but he ate everything else. This recipe really is a keeper.
Tarragon Chicken
4 chicken breast
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic
2 tsp tarragon
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp butter
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
3/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

In a storage bag, combine the chicken breast, lemon juice, garlic, and tarragon.
Seal the bag and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. 
In a large skillet, heat the oil and the butter over medium heat.
Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the chicken and marinate to the skillet. Cook for 5 minutes. 
Turn the chicken over and cook for 1 minute.
Add the heavy cream  with salt and pepper.
Simmer the chicken and cook until fully cooked.
Adapted from 200 Meals for Two cookbook.

One year ago.......................I made Taco Quesadillas.
Two years ago.....................I made Chicken Sandwiches.
Did you already know..........
-Tarragon has a reminiscent of anise or licorice flavor.
-Only the leaves of tarragon are edible.
-Typically, the French tarragon is used in cooking.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pineapple Syrup

My children's Nana told us how she loves pineapple pancakes. Since I've never had them before I decided to make them for us. I just made some pancakes and added pineapple pieces to the batter. We even topped the pancakes with additional pineapple. I do love fresh pineapple but I figured it was easier for my husband just to pick up a can of pineapple in pineapple juice. I asked my daughter if I should try making a syrup with the leftover pineapple juice. She said yes. My husband was skeptical. Well, the syrup was a hit. I think it would be a great topping over ice cream too.
Pineapple Syrup
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp arrowroot flour
6 Tbsp butter

  1. In a small saucepan,  whisk together the pineapple juice, sugar, buttermilk, and arrowroot.
  2. Add the butter.
  3. Over medium heat, allow the mixture to simmer for 20 minutes. 
  4. Stir occasionally.
  5. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe by Jen of Sweet Morris. 

One year ago.....................................I made King Ranch Casserole.
Two years ago..................................I made Pineapple Kolaches.
Did you already...............
-Pineapples do not ripen anymore once they are picked.
-Depending on climate, a pineapple tends to take over 18 months to produce fruit.
-Pineapples may be native to South America but more pineapples are grown in the Philippines and Thailand.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Peanut Butter Pie

My son wasn't feeling the best this weekend so we stayed home. I knew the moment he was feeling better because then he was so hungry. He decided he should have two breakfasts. I asked him if he was a hobbit and he was eating his second breakfast. He told me sure. Well, I wanted to make my husband something nice so I made some peanut butter pie. Of course he liked it but he was surprised it wasn't heavy. My daughter told me it reminded her of a peanut butter cheesecake. It does have cream cheese in it. This pie taste so good.
Peanut Butter Pie
2 cups Nilla wafer cookies, crushed
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
6 oz. light cream cheese, softened

1 cup powder sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup heavy cream
garnish: additional peanut butter and whip cream

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the crushed Nilla wafers, sugar, and the melted butter.
  3. Press the mixture into a pie crust.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes. 
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  6. In a large bowl, cream the cream cheese, powder sugar, and peanut butter until fluffy. 
  7. In a medium bowl, whisk the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.
  8. Fold the whip cream into the peanut butter mixture. 
  9. Pour the mixture into the cooled pie crust.
  10. Refrigerate the mixture for four hours.
  11. Garnish if desired, heat 1/2 cup peanut butter until liquid. Drizzle the melted peanut butter over top of the peanut butter pie.
Recipe adapted by The Neelys.

One year ago.......................I made Blueberry Pie Filling.
Did you already know..............
-In 1892, J.R.R. Tolkien was born in South Africa.
-J. R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit when he was teaching at Oxford University.
-J.R.R. Tolkien was friends with fellow author C.S. Lewis.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Blueberry Muffins

I can't get enough of blueberry muffins especially when they are in season. Yes, here is another one for you to try.  I guess some people may have this problem with chocolate chip cookies but with me it is blueberry muffins. They taste so good when they are nice and warm. Also, the kids help me bake the muffins which I think is the best part. These muffins have a nice subtle taste. They aren't too sweet but just enough sweetness to counter the berries. Normally, I double the amount of berries but I couldn't today. My daughter told me that she found a worm in one of her berries so I should throw them all out. (I picked the berries myself so I guess I must have brought home a friend with the berries.)I made a deal with her if we cut open three berries and there were no worms then I could use the berries. After cutting open four berries, no worms were found. Any berries that were soft and not perfect were discarded. My daughter was happy and she ate her blueberry muffin. These muffins even taste good the next day.
Blueberry Muffins (Makes 20 muffins)

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk
6 oz. butter, melted and cooled
2 tsp grated lemon zest
2 eggs
2 cups fresh blueberries

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking poder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter, lemon zest, and eggs.
  5. With a fork, stir in the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture until just blended.
  6. Gently, fold in the blueberries. 
  7. Evenly distribute the batter into the paper liners filling them almost full.
  8. Bake the muffins for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Recipe by Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook.

One year ago...............................I made Snickerdoodle Cookies.
Two years ago.............................I made Victoria Sandwich Cake.
Did you already know.................
-Blueberries grow on bushes in clusters.
-Blueberries are native to America.
-To prepare for winter, Native Americans would smoke blueberries to preserve them.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Nutella Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Lately, my husband is complaining that I should not hid vegetables in his food.  He thinks I should disclose any added vegetables to his food so he has a choice. So, I figured I would see his reaction when I asked him to try my chocolate zucchini bread. He hesitated in taking the bread and I had to convince him that he would like it. He did and couldn't believe the bread had a vegetable in it. My sister said that she couldn't see any zucchini in her piece. I said it's because I coated it in cocoa powder. I even used two medium zucchinis for this bread.
Nutella Chocolate Zucchini Bread
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
2 cups zucchini, shredded
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup Nutella
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray two bread pans with nonstick baking spray.
  3. Dust the bread pans with cocoa powder and tap off any excess cocoa powder.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the cocoa powder, sugar, and shredded zucchini.
  5. Add the vegetable oil, Nutella, eggs, and vanilla extract. Stir to incorporate.
  6. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir until combined.
  7. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  8. Evenly distribute the batter between the two pans.
  9. Bake the bread for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Recipe adapted from All Recipes.

One year ago..........................I made Double Roasted Chicken.
Two years ago........................I made Peacharine Cream Cheese Tart.
Did you already know......................
-Zucchini is native to Central America.
-The largest recorded zucchini weighed 65 pounds.
-Zucchini can be eaten cooked or raw.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Travel: The first weekend of August

Alright, I know I've been slacking on my posts but I've been spending some quality time with the family. Every weekend our goal is to do something new. Since we are having such a great time, I would like to share some of the places we've been. This weekend we headed to the White Mountains. We went to Diana's Baths. It was beautiful and fun. The kids liked going into the pools of mountain water. I thought the water would be warmer than the Maine ocean water but I was wrong. My kids are true Mainers so they are immune to such coldness.
To get to Diana's Baths, we had to walk for slightly over half a mile. The walk is pretty easy. I saw people pushing strollers into the park. There is a wooden bridge the kids loved walking over. We told them to be careful of the trolls but it didn't make them any less quiet. When we were close, we could hear the rushing water. There are several levels which we had to climb up but each level had pools of water. We talked the kids into going near the falls. 
If you want to see some small water falls and bath in some pools of mountain water, this is the place to go. Just remember, the water is cold.
I guess it's time for a hair cut!
We didn't have to pay to enter Diana's Baths but we did pick to pay for the closer parking which
only cost $3.00. 
There are the giant granite boulders which are common in New England. The giant rocks are one of the best things I love about New England. My sister and I would climb them when we were young. As an adult, I tend to go around them most of the time. What a great day!
Did you already know..................
-Diana's Baths are located in the White Mountains National Forest.
-Lucy Brook is the water source for Diana's Baths.
-In the Spring, the water falls will be at their peak due to the melting snow from Big Attitash Mountain.