Pin Project #6: Coconut Oil

So, have you heard the buzz about¬†coconut oil? Apparently, it is like manna… or something. You can cook/bake with it (substitute for butter & oil), it does wonders for your hair and skin, heck – you can even eat it by the spoonful and live to be 100! (Can we all just take a minute and acknowledge that we are still talking about OIL here…who wants to eat a spoonful??) With all that in mind, I have been wanting to try it out and see what all the excitement has been about.

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Valentine’s Cynicism

I remember growing up and hearing my Dad say, “I don’t need Hallmark to tell me when to be romantic with my wife! Valentine’s Day should be every other day of the year!” For the most part he lived up to his sentiments. He would bring home flowers spontaneously for my mom all throughout the year regardless of “what day it was” and he was definitely the more romantic half of their pair (dancing to Sinatra after dinner or breaking into a robust love song over dessert). For the most part I agree with my Dad and consider Valentine’s Day a bit of a waste (especially for all the heart ache it can cause those who don’t have a “significant other” at the time), but it is nice to have days that are out of the ordinary simply for celebrating the one(s) you love.

We don’t usually celebrate Valentine’s day around here, the anniversary of the day we met and also our wedding are usually most significant celebrations of the year, but this year we decided to have a little fun and I stole the idea for Mad Lib Valentine Letters! Maybe I will post the results tomorrow… Then we’re going to enjoy a family dinner with our littlest Valentine and end the evening with a movie – most likely Midnight in Paris (I’ve heard good things).

May you find joy in the love surrounding you this day and every day!

“Taste of Summer” Cake

Last week I had a carton of strawberries that was beginning to get a little soft….sounds like the perfect excuse to make a cake, to me! This cake is wonderful during the summer or for those long winter days when you need a little taste of summer. It would also make a great valentine dessert – maybe get creative and arrange the strawberries into a heart? This cake was slightly modified from Smitten Kitchen (surprise, surprise).

Strawberry Cake Ingredients:
6 T. butter (room temp)
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
3/4 c. granulated sugar (plus 2 T. for on top)
1 large egg
1/2 c. milk
1 t. vanilla extract
1 lb. strawberries, hulled & halved (I added some raspberries that I had in the fridge…or see below for other delicious ideas!)

Possible modifications: blueberry & lemon zest, apples or pears (thinly sliced!) & cinnamon, raspberries & choc chips!¬†NOTE: you need to use a 9″ deep-dish pie pan or your cake will overflow!

Directions: Preheat your oven to 350F. In a large bowl beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Pour into a buttered/greased pie plate (deep dish!) and arrange strawberries on top Рcut side down.

If you’re feeling in the valentine spirit maybe make a heart shape. Sprinkle with 2 T. sugar over berries. Bake for 10 mins. and then reduce oven temp to 325F until cake is golden and a tester comes out free of batter (50 mins). Serve with whipped cream or just lightly dusted with powdered sugar.

Sweet and simple.

 

Rhythms of Family: February

We finally had our first snow of 2012! Looks like Punxsutawney Phil¬†got it right this year. I won’t lie, we’ve certainly enjoyed the last few weeks of “spring” weather. The babe & I got at least 3 walks in at the park and I even started planning my garden…literally drawing it out on a legal pad. However, the lovely warm weather is a little bittersweet when you consider the potential for long-term damage to our planet.¬†I’ve been eager to have a little snowfall that reflects the bright morning sun. This morning was just what I’ve been waiting for – I opened all the blinds to let in as much sunshine as possible and spent most of the morning listening to “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me” and getting my house and heart ready for Sabbath.

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Easy Mac&Cheese and Anniversary Times!

This year Sam & I decided to celebrate our anniversary by treating ourselves to a night at the Ann Arbor Folk Festival. This year’s headliner happened to be a favorite of Sam’s and I’m always up for live music (especially in the folk/bluegrass genre). It turned out to be a beautiful January day and we did lots of walking before the show and checked in at our favorite inn. We wandered through a few of our favorite haunts (and discovered the chocolate shop where we became “boyfriend & girlfriend” was actually closed! SO sad!) before having an early dinner and heading to the festival.

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Potato & Leek Soup

MMMmmmm…nothing warms you up on a cold, January night like homemade soup. This is one my easiest go-to soup recipes and it’s easy to adjust depending on what you have on hand. I put the ingredients that I used this time and then any adjustments/substitutions in (parentheses).

Potato Soup Ingredients:
3 T. butter (or evoo if you’re going veg)
1-2 thinly sliced leeks
1 onion finely chopped
3 carrots, peeled & sliced (thick or thin, however you like)
8-10 potatoes, not peeled & thinly sliced (I used smallish yukon gold, but any would do)
4 c. chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1/2 c. whole milk (or 2% or skim or half&half or cream of celery soup)
salt & pepper to taste (I’m also in love with smoked paprika, so that went in too!)

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