Lena’s Smoothie

Lena's smoothie

So I got this text from my nieces (grades 5, 6 and 7) the other day.  They know who would appreciate this concoction!

This strawberry-banana smoothie comes from a cookbook, but smoothies honestly don’t need to be measured to be tasty.  As long as you’re not hung-up on whether or not it turns out a tad thick or a bit runny, just throw whatever you like in a blender and hit puree.  One of my favorites is a banana, some orange juice, whatever yogurt we have in the fridge and a can of unsweetened pineapple and its juice.  YUM.

But lots of folks prefer an actual recipe–and what kind of auntie would I be if I didn’t share the recipe that creates the stunning pink glass of frothy ambrosia you see above?  It is a downright privilege to be on your nieces’ contact list and as I do desire to remain, I will now share with ya’ll…

Lena’s Smoothie

Ingredients: 1/2 cup milk, 1/3 cup strawberry yogurt, 1/3 cup frozen unsweetened strawberries, 1/2 banana, 4 ice cubes, 8 tsp. sugar (I’d use 3 max, but that’s just me.)

Directions: blend and serve.  Strawberry swag on side of glass optional but highly recommended.  It does make quite a statement, don’t you agree, dahling?

P.S. Besides Lena, a special thanks to Lindsey and Raquel for tasting, photography and also being loves of my life!

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Beauty and the Beasties… Michelle’s Fruit Crisp!

nectarine

(keep reading for a great summer fruit dessert recipe below!)

Beautiful.  And funny looking–just like nature intended.  Perfectly ripe white nectarines make my mouth and heart smile.

All the stone fruits are in coming into season at my local farmer’s market.  White nectarines are my personal fave right now.  They taste milder than yellow nectarines, but–and at the risk of sounding like a cheesy poet–I appreciate their more delicate and subtle taste.  There.  I said it.

Not everyone has the time or inclination to hit a farmer’s market on a weekly basis, but if you enjoy good fruit, I highly recommend hitting one at least once this summer.  In Southern California, in the summer, you will not be disappointed with this experience.  (If you are please let me know and so that I may rethink my entire existence.)

Prices for stone fruits right now range from 2.00-2.50/lb. which is not much different from the regular market.  You can also find the “seconds” bins where the less attractive fruits find a place to rest before being snatched up for, often, 80 cents a pound!

80 cents a pound right now bought me a whole slew of some “beasties,” aka: not so purty apricots.  No problemo.  Josie and I made our absolute favorite summer dessert, which we have aptly titled cheap fruit crisp.

Cheap Fruit Crisp (as the name implies, this can be made with a variety of stone fruits.  This time was apricots.)

Ingredients: 3 cups apricots, diced, 1/4 cup cup flour, 2-3 tbsp. sugar, few healthy shakes cinnamon, 1 cup raw oats, 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, few pads of butter

Directions: toss the fruit with flour, cinnamon and sugar.  Spread in a baking dish like this:

fruit crisp step 2

Sprinkle oats, then brown sugar on top.  Add a few pads of butter like this:

fruit crisp step 3

Bake at 350 for 30 or so minutes, or until fruit is cooked to your liking.  When it’s done it should look divine (like this:)

fruit crisp baked

Tips: We love our cheap-fruit crisp served fresh and warm with a scoop of ice-cream on top.  Not only did this whole entire delicious concoction cost me, like, less than 4 bucks to make (no joke)… it’s also much healthier than a pie or cobbler which contains all that yummy–and fattening–crust.  Took about 10 minutes to whip it up and clean up too.  Great with apricots, plums, peaches, nectarines… buy the cheap ones with bad spots.  Why not?

If you’re trying to make use of bland fruit, add a splash of lemon juice to the first step.

Final tip: Near the end of the summer, I like to make one of these and put it way back in my extra freezer.  Then, when fall is in full swing and we begin to miss our sweet stone fruits, I toss the crisp in the oven and wah-lah!  A summer memory ready to gobble up!

Josie helped me record the recipe… Of course I generally eye-ball everything, but for the purposes of spreadin’ the love, we thought we’d better write it down.

Josie's fruit crisp recipe

Breakfast Introspection

breakfast

Before I begin, check out my monthly post on Hometown Pasadena!

Tomorrow my youngest child turns six.  Of course he’s all excited about getting older (OK, yes, and getting presents.)  For whatever reason, I always get a little teary the day before my children celebrate another year of life.  My mind drifts back to what I was doing the day before they were born.

In Grayson’s case, with a scheduled C-section, six years ago today, I knew it was the last day of my pregnancy.  With a one-year-old and two-year-old at home with me (I know, right?), being a 38 year-old pregnant woman with a 10 lb. baby in my belly I was mostly focused on gettin’ that kid out.  FAST.  I seem to recall a tearful checkup with my OB where I pretty much begged him to move up my delivery date by a week as I just didn’t think I would make it to the finish line.  He didn’t.  I did.

The aching back, insomnia, swollen feet and baby shoved so far up my rib cage I couldn’t bend forward to even wash the dishes by this point… all those memories have dissipated by now.  Mostly now I think back and realize that six years ago today I was pregnant for the last time in my life.

I felt then and still do feel so incredibly lucky to have carried three amazing little people in my belly.  From the first to the third I marveled at them from the moment I looked into their brand new eyes.  I kept them in the hospital room with me and despite exhaustion and the opportunity to rest before returning home, even with my not-so-little guy I held him and gazed at him constantly.  Just couldn’t get over the miracle of the whole thing.  Still can’t, really.

Tomorrow I’ll be awakened early–I know it–by an eager kindergartener who can’t wait a moment longer to open his gifts.  But today I will sip my coffee for just one extra minute and bask in these quiet memories.

Introspection French Toast

Ingredients: for every 3 eggs, 1/4-1/3 cup butter milk, dash of sugar, dash of vanilla, 1/2 dash almond extract, few shakes cinnamon.  Bread of any kind. (I don’t really measure–sorry Teri and Lisa.  These measurements should work though!)

Directions: Put bread aside.  Mix everything else together.  Dip bread into mixture and cook on griddle.  Serve with butter and real maple syrup whenever possible.

Tip: I often make this recipe with a dozen eggs and an entire loaf of bread.  Freezes great, pop it in the toaster and wah-lah!  French toast any time you want.  Life contemplation is optional.

“Out of this World” Sugar Cookies

sugar cookies

Third grade assignment: Make a visual representation of the solar system.  Be creative!  (be careful what you ask for…)

Rhea decided that she (and by “she” I mean “we”) should make a sugar cookie solar system.  Why waste your time with a plain old shoe box diorama situation when you can make a project the class can eat when you’re done?

You may notice that there are two of each planet (in case of interplanetary disaster) but what you can’t see is how much time this child took to mix/choose/remix/rechoose the exact right colors for each dang piece.  We may have a detail-oriented baker in the family, ladies and gentlemen… Or an astronomer, I’m not sure which.  Either way she doesn’t get it from me!

We made the solar system a week ahead of time and then froze the cookies to keep them fresh.  Besides eating the extra planets, we also made little star cookies for each classmate.  No doubt, Rhea’s presentation gained rave reviews from the audience! (and even though I’m poking a little fun, I am very proud of my daughter’s creativity and effort to make a top-notch presentation.  She did great!)

My Mom’s Sugar Cookies (which, incidentally, are the best sugar cookies in the world)

Ingredients: 1/2 cup butter, 1/ cup sugar, 1 egg, 2-2 1/4 cups flour, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. vanilla (frosting optional–unless you’re making a solar system or something similar, of course.)

Directions: Roll out and cut with cookie-cutters.  Place on cookie sheet at bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes (depends on how think your cookies are though–check’m and see.  Should be slightly browned on top, but not too much.)

Tip: If I’m pretending to be Sally-organized-baker (hardly ever, but this is still a good tip) I make the dough in advance and refrigerate for an hour or so.  The chilled dough is easier to roll out and cut–especially for little bakers.

Some things I learned while assisting: Although Uranus has rings, Saturn is the only planet whose rings are visible from Earth.  Saturn has a moon named “Rea” (and no, that’s not where I got the name.)  The red-dot storm on Jupiter is several times larger than planet Earth.  Sprinkles on planetary rings are a big hit with 8-9 year-olds…

 

Easy-Tasty-Fancy Looking!

fruit pizza

OK.  So in the title I took out “healthy” and replaced with “Fancy Looking.”  Just work with me here.

Fruit Pizza is what we call this in my family.  You may or may not be able to tell that I was going for a “sun” theme with the fruit display.  I made this for Easter so it seemed appropriate.

Every time I make fruit pizza everybody gobbles it up and all the mommies ask for the recipe.  It looks beautiful and is so absurdly easy to make everyone should have this recipe in their back pocket.

Fruit Pizza

Ingredients: (I’m embarrassed to say…) Pilsbury Sugar cookie Dough, 16 oz. cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar (or powdered sugar), tsp. vanilla, diced fresh fruit.

Directions: Set cream cheese out for about an hour to soften.  Spread the cookie dough (this is 1 1/2 tubes) out on a cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 for approximately 17-20 minutes or until done.  Set out to cool.   Mix softened cream cheese with sugar and vanilla.  Spread on completely cooled sugar cookie crust.  Top with fruit.

Tips: I’ve made this with homemade sugar cookie dough and although it is certainly a less processed food choice, you really cannot taste the difference (short cuts are all the rage.)  Fruit can be arranged in a stunning display of some sort (not featured above, unfortunately) or just scattered.  The pineapple and orange chunks that I used were drained before placement.  Good fruits for this include strawberries, blueberries, grapes, sliced stone fruits… don’t use bananas though as they will brown and throw off the whole “impressive” statement you’re going for.  (I seem to be using an excessive amount of quotation marks today….  Don’t you think?)

I seriously dare you to take this to a potluck situation and not impress the masses.  Yes.  Maybe even double-dare.

Whip It Good

whipped cream

This is whipped cream.  I make mine with a few teaspoons of sugar and a little glug of vanilla. 

I suppose, technically, there is calcium in whipped cream, but anyone who’s eating something like this for its nutritional value is really grasping at straws.

At our house we eat it (on waffles this morning) for the smile factor. 

That’s a good reason to eat whipped cream.