Tuesday, June 30, 2015

fresh strawberry lemonade



The Littles and I made strawberry lemonade on our first official day of Summer break.

We make fresh lemonade every Summer. It's been a tradition of ours for several years . . . and I couldn't think of a better way to kick-off the season.

We picked up several baskets of these beautiful, sweet berries from the Farmers Market . . . and couldn't wait to make the Strawberry syrup for this amazing lemonade.





The strawberry syrup is what makes this humble drink extra special!

It's so simple to make, and can be added to traditional lemonade, orange juice, 7Up/Sprite, sparkling water, or even drizzled over ice cream, waffles, pancakes, oatmeal, and angel food cake.

We love adding it to our fresh lemonade most!





Strawberry is their favorite flavored-lemonade . . . so they're always so excited to help squeeze lemons and stir the macerated strawberries, in hopes of making more syrup.






We have so much fun making lemonade . . . and creating new flavors to enjoy throughout the warm Summer months.

It's simple traditions like these that bring fun and happiness to our Summers 'at home.'




strawberry lemonade
.     .     .     .     .
zest of 1 lemon, in wide strips
2 cups sugar
2 cups chopped hulled strawberries
2 cups fresh lemon juice, strained (from about 10 large lemons)
.     .     .     .     .


Lemon syrup
Bring the lemon zest, 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring, until the sugar dissolves; let cool to room temperature.

Strawberry syrup
Toss the strawberries and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl, stir, and let sit at room temperature until the sugar dissolves, about 45 minutes. Strain the strawberry mixture; reserve the strawberry syrup and berries separately.

Strawberry lemonade 
Combine the lemon juice, lemon syrup, and 4-6 cups cold water in a pitcher. For each drink, put about 1 Tablespoon (or more) of the strawberry syrup in a tall glass. Fill with ice, then top with the lemonade and some of the reserved strawberries; OR pour desired amount of strawberry syrup into a pitcher of lemonade until your reach desired strawberry flavor.






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Thursday, June 25, 2015

orange cardamom cream scones



I'm loving our Summer break from school!

Although it seems like I'm busier than ever, I'm enjoying the change of pace. My schedule isn't dictated by drop-offs and pick-ups three times a day, so the extra time and freedom allows for more fun in the kitchen . . . and PLAY.

The three little ones and I made strawberry lemonade this morning, which we enjoyed when we returned home from the park. I love lemonade in the Summer! It's such a treat!

And along with the lemonade, we enjoyed these scones for an afternoon snack. Yum!




I made them last weekend so that we could take a few with us on our Father's Day picnic at the beach. 

They're so light and delicious! 

Cardamom and orange are an amazing combination! Just a little cardamom adds a warm, floral note to the scones . . . making the bright citrus orange flavor taste like it's been wrapped in a big, warm hug. 




I've shared many scone variations on this blog, but this one is my favorite!

I can't wait for you to try it, too!






orange cardamom cream scones
.     .     .     .     .
2 cups all purpose flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and chilled
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
zest of 1 large orange
.     .     .     .     .

Preparation
Adjust the oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees F.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, cardamom, and salt together in a food processor to combine, about 3 pulses.

Scatter butter evenly over top and continue to pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with some slightly larger pieces of butter, about 12 more pulses.

*If you don't have a food processor, then a pastry cutter or fork will do just fine.

Add orange zest to 1 cup of heavy cream; stir to scatter and suspend zest.

Stir in cream until dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.

Turn dough and any floury bits out onto floured counter and knead until rough, slightly sticky ball forms, 5 to 10 seconds.

Take care NOT to over-work the dough. It will be VERY crumbly, and that's OK.

Pat dough into 9-inch round and cut into 8 wedges.

Place wedges on prepared baking sheet. Bake until tops of scones are lightly golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking.

Prepare orange glaze.

Transfer baking sheet to wire rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes.

Drizzle vanilla bean glaze over the top of the scones.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

orange glaze
.       .      .       .       .       .  
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest           
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice, or as needed

Whisk sugar with orange zest and orange juice in a small bowl until smooth.
.       .      .       .       .       .   
In a medium bowl, prepare the glaze by mixing together the confectioners’ sugar,
orange zest, and orange juice.  
Whisk until smooth. 
Drizzle on top of scones, or dip the tops into the glaze. 
.       .      .       .       .       .


more scones . . .




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Thoughts from AliceDIY Showoff, Stephanie Lynn, It's Overflowing, Twelve O Eight, Carrie This Home, Huckleberry Love, Dwellings, Smart Party Planning,  The Dedicated HouseMod Vintage LifeLori's Culinary Creations, Home Stories, StoneGableAn Extraordinary Day, I'm Not a Trophy Wife, Karen's Up on the HillThree Kids and a FishBetween Naps on the Front Porch, Tumbleweed ContessaA Stroll Thru Life,Life With GarnishElizabeth & Co, Home Remedies, Time Warp Wife,  My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Savvy Southern StyleJust a Girl and Her Blog, The Recipe CriticJanine HuldieCarolyn's Homework,  Fluster Buster   Designs by Miss Mandee,  Craftie Allie,  Wednesday morning The Blissful Bee,  The Newlywed PilgrimageLamberts LatelyLive Laugh RoweThe Charm of Home, From My Front Porch to ours, Delightsome Life.Posed PerfectionKatherine's Corner,Imparting GraceNancherrowThe Freshman Cook,  Jann OlsonHome  Maid SimpleAnderson + Grant,  Rooted in ThymeShabby Nest Sunflower Supper ClubBlooming HomesteadThe Girl CreativeReasons to Skip the Housework, View from the Fridge3 Little Greenwoods





Monday, June 22, 2015

corn & chicken chowder with lobster and crab toppers



Summer is officially here! Woohoo!

It was our six- and seven-year-old's last week of school, so we were quite busy with end-of-school year festivities, and I had several cookie and cake orders. So by the time the week was over, I welcomed the weekend . . . and first days of Summer . . . with open arms!

Our kids had a wonderful school year, and were blessed with amazing and caring Teachers. They're actually bummed that their school year is finished. And our four-year-old, well . . . she isn't happy that her older siblings will be home every day, as "they're just going to bother us." Too funny!

Perhaps they'll appreciate Summer break a little more once we have a chance to shift gears and begin enjoying lazy mornings, trips to the library, and many, many picnics to the park and beach.




In the spirit of Summer, I thought it would be fun to share this delicious Summer chowder with you.

I love its versatility!

In the Fall, I change up the ingredients and add sweet potatoes and purple potatoes with ham . . . and a pumpkin-shaped 'crouton' topper. Yum!





So what do you think of the lobster and crab toppers?!

I dreamt them up one night when I should've been sleeping. This creative mind LOVES the quiet of the night to dream up recipes and CREATE! If I only had the time of day to bring to fruition what I dream up at night  . . . I'd be a millionaire, lol.






Ok, back on track . . . Let's talk corn & chicken chowder!

I found Sweet Summer corn at our Farmer's Market 5 for $1.00, so we've been enjoying grilled corn on the cob . . . and this sweet corn & chicken chowder. You can also substitute the chicken with sauteed scallops, grilled blackened salmon, or grilled shrimp. All are delicious!

The creamy base is so fast and easy-to-prepare . . . and is a great compliment to the onions, red potatoes, sweet corn, and roasted chicken.

The lobster and crab toppers are made using cookie cutters and pie crust dough. I love using Trader Joe's PIE CRUSTS from their freezer section.  They're buttery and flaky . . . and a make for quick soup and chowder toppers.





I thought it would be festive to make lobster and crab shapes in honor of Summer.

I sprinkled half of them with Smoked Paprika for a reddish-hue, but also because I love the smoky flavor it gives the chowder.

You can break up the lobster or crab crouton over the top before eating, or break off pieces with your spoon as you're eating it. I think the buttery and salty flavor makes this chowder extra delicious!

Corn and chicken chowder paired with big wedges of sweet watermelon and a tall glass of lemonade makes for a delicious and festive Summer lunch or dinner!

Happy, Happy Summer!






corn & chicken chowder
.     .     .     .     .    .
5 ears of fresh corn or 3 cups frozen whole kernel corn
3/4 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
3/4 cup chopped green sweet pepper (optional)
1 Tablespoon olive oi
1-14 ounce can chicken broth
1 cup cubed RED or purple potato (1 medium), skin on
.     .     .     .     .    .
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons snipped fresh thyme
1 cup half-and-half, light cream, or whole milk
1 1/4 cups chopped roasted chicken (about 6 ounces)
OR sauteed scallops, grilled blackened salmon, or grilled shrimp
.     .     .     .     .    .
3 slices bacon, crisp-cooked, drained, and crumbled or 2 tablespoons cooked bacon pieces
2 Tablespoons snipped fresh parsley (optional)
2 Tablespoons snipped fresh chives (optional)
.     .     .     .     .    .



Preparation
If using fresh corn, use a sharp knife to cut the kernels off the cobs (you should have about 3 cups corn). Set corn aside.

In a large saucepan cook onion and sweet pepper in hot oil until onion is tender but not brown. Stir in chicken broth, potato, and corn. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

In a small bowl combine flour, salt, pepper, and thyme. Stir milk into flour mixture; add to corn mixture in saucepan. Cook and stir until slightly thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Add chopped chicken; cook and stir until heated through. 

If desired, garnish each serving with parsley, chives, and bacon. Enjoy!

Makes 6 servings (5 1/2 cups)






Another delicious corn recipe . . .



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Thoughts from AliceDIY Showoff, Stephanie Lynn, It's Overflowing, Twelve O Eight, Carrie This Home, Huckleberry Love, Dwellings, Smart Party Planning,  The Dedicated HouseMod Vintage LifeLori's Culinary Creations, Home Stories, StoneGableAn Extraordinary Day, I'm Not a Trophy Wife, Karen's Up on the HillThree Kids and a FishBetween Naps on the Front Porch, Tumbleweed ContessaA Stroll Thru Life,Life With GarnishElizabeth & Co, Home Remedies, Time Warp Wife,  My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Savvy Southern StyleJust a Girl and Her Blog, The Recipe CriticJanine HuldieCarolyn's Homework,  Fluster Buster   Designs by Miss Mandee,  Craftie Allie,  Wednesday morning The Blissful Bee,  The Newlywed PilgrimageLamberts LatelyLive Laugh RoweThe Charm of Home, From My Front Porch to ours, Delightsome Life.Posed PerfectionKatherine's Corner,Imparting GraceNancherrowThe Freshman Cook,  Jann OlsonHome  Maid SimpleAnderson + Grant,  Rooted in ThymeShabby Nest Sunflower Supper ClubBlooming HomesteadThe Girl CreativeReasons to Skip the Housework, View from the Fridge3 Little Greenwoods








Friday, June 12, 2015

vanilla bean lemonade . . .



Lemonade will always hold a special place in my heart.

It's reminds me of long, leisurely walks through the local Farmer's Market in my home-town.




The Farmer's Market has been a part of my life since my early twenties.

For more than a decade,  I visited weekly. It was . . . and still is . . . a great source of inspiration for me.




Before I got married and moved South to a new county, I would venture to the Farmer's Market every Saturday morning with my sister.

There was a Lemonade Stand that offered a variety of amazing fresh lemonades . . . blueberry, strawberry, lime, and watermelon.

We would arrive early to beat the crowds and the heat; and even with our arms full of flowers and fresh fruits and vegetables, we always found room to carry a large cup of lemonade.




There's really nothing like the taste of fresh, home-made lemonade.

It's nothing like the lemon-flavored beverages you order in restaurants. Instead, home-made lemonade actually tastes (and smells) like real lemons. It's sweet and a little tart . . . and refreshing, especially on a hot Summer day.

Although our local Farmer's Market doesn't have a Lemonade Stand like the one in my home-town, it doesn't mean that I can't enjoy fresh lemonade at home.

One of my favorite Summer activities to do with my little ones is make lemonade.

We've made several flavors over the years, including blueberryblackberry mint, peach & thyme, cucumber mint, and strawberry.







With strawberry season in full swing here, we're looking forward to making Strawberry Lemonade the week after my six-AND-seven-year-old are on Summer break . . . 7 days and counting down (smile!).




While at our kids' Open House a few weeks ago, we were invited to pick more lemons from the tree on campus. It was an offer I/we couldn't turn down (smile!). I still can't believe how many lemons were on that tree! So we filled a bag and headed home with thoughts of what we were going to do with them. 

We thought it would be fun to make vanilla bean lemonade for our seven-year-old's class to thank them for sharing so many lemons with us over the last several weeks. 

You can see a photo of the lemonade basket I dropped off at Charley's class on my Instagram, here. I was so happy to hear that the lemonade was a hit! Yay!




vanilla bean lemon simple syrup
Do you see the vanilla beans?
((recipe below))




Have you ever had Vanilla Lemonade? It's so unique! 

It's sweet & tart . . . with a warm & smooth finish.  It might sound a little strange . . . but it's so good! 

I like to prepare the vanilla bean simple syrup a few days in advance, so that the vanilla beans have a chance to infuse all its warm flavor into the sweet syrup.

My little ones take turns squeezing the lemons, using the same glass lemon squeezer from my childhood (smile!); then we add just the right amount of water to make the lemon base for our lemonade; and finally, we add the vanilla bean lemon syrup. Voila! 

With the right lemon juice : water : vanilla lemon syrup ratio (see recipe below) . . . you, too, can enjoy Vanilla Bean Lemonade at home, which is sure to be a hit with your family and friends!

And stay tuned for my Strawberry Lemonade recipe . . . just in time for your Fourth of July picnic or gathering.

Have a great weekend!




for the vanilla bean lemon simple syrup
.     .     .     .     .     .     .
2 cup sugar
2 cup water
6 slices of lemon peel
2 vanilla bean, seeded
1 generous pinch of salt
Cheesecloth, to strain syrup
*For a stronger vanilla flavor, prepare one day in advance.
     .     .     .     .     .     .     .     
for the lemonade
.     .     .     .     .     .     .
juice of 6-8 lemons, strained
8 cups of water
1+ cups of vanilla/lemon simple syrup
lemon slices to garnish
    .     .     .     .     .     .     .     

Slice the vanilla bean in half and with the back of your knife scrape out all the seeds.

Bring sugar, water, vanilla beans and pod, lemon peels and salt to boil on your stove.

After sugar dissolves I gently simmer mine 5-10 minutes to really get the lemon peel flavor in there.

Remove from heat, strain through a few layers of cheesecloth set over a large measuring cup and cool. *For a stronger vanilla flavor, prepare (and refrigerate) one day in advance.

Once the syrup has cooled; add it to a large pitcher along with the 8-10 cups of water and strained lemon juice. Stir well. Garnish with a few lemon slices.

If you like your lemonade on the sweeter side, then add 1/4 cup more vanilla lemon syrup until you reach desired sweetness.

For a stronger vanilla flavored lemonade, prepare at least one day before serving.
The longer is sits, the stronger the flavors.






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Thoughts from AliceDIY Showoff, Stephanie Lynn, It's Overflowing, Twelve O Eight, Carrie This Home, Huckleberry Love, Dwellings, Smart Party Planning,  The Dedicated HouseMod Vintage LifeLori's Culinary Creations, Home Stories, StoneGableAn Extraordinary Day, I'm Not a Trophy Wife, Karen's Up on the HillThree Kids and a FishBetween Naps on the Front Porch, Tumbleweed ContessaA Stroll Thru Life,Life With GarnishElizabeth & Co, Home Remedies, Time Warp Wife,  My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Savvy Southern StyleJust a Girl and Her Blog, The Recipe CriticJanine HuldieCarolyn's Homework,  Fluster Buster   Designs by Miss Mandee,  Craftie Allie,  Wednesday morning The Blissful Bee,  The Newlywed PilgrimageLamberts LatelyLive Laugh RoweThe Charm of Home, From My Front Porch to ours, Delightsome Life.Posed PerfectionKatherine's Corner,Imparting GraceNancherrowThe Freshman Cook,  Jann OlsonHome  Maid SimpleAnderson + Grant,  Rooted in ThymeShabby Nest Sunflower Supper ClubBlooming HomesteadThe Girl CreativeReasons to Skip the Housework, View from the Fridge3 Little Greenwoods





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