blueberry snacking cake for a spring that feels like summer.

img_5267I like to bake something on Sundays. I used to do it religiously during Charlie’s Sunday nap each week. Something that we can munch on for breakfast or after school or when we need a little something to tide us over until the next meal. It just makes me feel good to have a homemade baked good sitting on the island that screams love all week. Muffins, a loaf of bread, cake, granola. Banana bread was on heavy rotation before Ben came along. Charlie loves baked goods as much as I do, thank goodness. Mike’s just not into the breads like we are. I hope I passed on this wonderful love to Ben too.

My Sunday baking routine has been a little bit rocked by Ben’s arrival though (as have many other things hehe) so we’ve been surviving on teddy grahams and granola bars lately. This Sunday though, I managed to put Ben in the baby k’tan for some baking while Charlie was taking his afternoon nap and Mike was out working on the yard.

I had blueberries in the freezer from a couple weeks ago when pints were going for $1. You know I stocked up. They’ve been on my mind lately, as they tumble out of the freezer with a crash each time I open the door, so I browsed around online for some blueberry recipes during a quiet nursing moment and found this easy blueberry cake on Taste of Home. It looked like just the thing for a summery week of snacking.

I hope this baking session means that I’m learning how to live life as mom of two and can get back to some of my other normal routines – like showering regularly and eating dinner at a normal speed rather than scarfing down as much as I can before someone needs me 😂.

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BLUEBERRY SNACKING CAKE

What you need:

1 stick butter (softened)
1 cup sugar + 1-2 tablespoons for topping
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup blueberries – fresh or frozen

What to do:

+ Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

+ Cream butter and sugar until fluffy, 3-5 minutes.

+ Add eggs, milk and vanilla.

+ Mix in flour and baking powder until just combined.

+ Gently fold in blueberries by hand. If you want to prevent them from sinking to the bottom of your cake, mix with a tablespoon or so of flour to cost before adding. I skipping because, babies.

+ Pour into greased 8 inch cake pan OR 9×5 loaf pan.

+ Top with reserved sugar.

+ Bake for 45-50 minutes.

This was such a quick and easy everyday cake recipe. I’m sure you could substitute with other fruits that you might have on hand, but the blueberry was especially yummy.

a recipe: granola

Do you ever feel like you go through phases with food? You’ll make something four weeks in a row, start thinking of it as routine, and then switch to something new? That’s granola for us. We go through phases with it. I’ll make it a ton, and then go a few months without making it once. Lately, it’s been happily put back into my weekend baking routine. We scoop it onto greek yogurt for breakfast and snacks, and Mike takes the occasional scoop directly into his open mouth for those moments when snack desperation strikes. It’s a sweet, but not too sweet, and crunchy, but not bone-crushing treat.

img_6651This recipe is customizable in a hundred ways or more, but this base is a great place to start. Dried coconut, flax seed, raisins, dates, and peanut butter are all things that we sometimes, but not always throw in. This time around we kept it simple and basic. So good.HOMEMADE GRANOLA

What you need:

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups mixed nuts
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup neutral oil (like vegetable or coconut)

What to do:

+ Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

+ Mix oats, nuts, and salt in a dutch oven or large baking pan.

+ In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, maple syrup and oil.

+ Pour over oat mixture and stir.

+ Cook for 45 minutes or until oats are toasted, stirring every 15 minutes.

+ Let cool and store in a covered container. Will keep for about 2 weeks.

**If adding any dried fruits, or chocolate chips mix in after your granola has cooled. Coconut, peanut butter and flax seed can be added to the granola before baking.

Also pictured are cream cheese carrot cake muffins – recipe here! What have you been making on repeat lately? Anything good? I’m on the hunt for some new fall recipes to put on rotation.

easiest cookie recipe in the world.

cf794850-3de6-438b-b8f3-762a45108a69I have six days left of school, and I am dragging myself through them by the skin of my teeth. The end of the year is my biggest time of the year other than the beginning of it. With 40+ teachers and 800+ students, there are thousands of materials that need to be returned before teachers or students can be “cleared” to leave school. Computers, textbooks, headphones, library books, etc are all in my school’s library system. And as you can imagine, teachers that were given these materials back in August have a hard time tracking them all down come May! And then you have the kids who checked books out a week ago – they have a hard time tracking those books down too. 🙂 I’ve been the nagging bad guy all this and will be next week too. But it’s okay! I can do it! Summer is almost here!

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But in the meantime, cookies, nightly happy hour, my happy baby, and copious venting to my husband are the only thing that are getting me there. Not just cookies, but the easiest cookies that I have ever made. Three ingredients! three! Have you ever heard of such a thing? I hadn’t! I was browsing Pinterest the other day for after school snacks, and stumbled upon this recipe that fit the bill for after, before and in-between school snacking. Follow the instructions for Peanut Butter Cookies all done in about 15 minutes!

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg

Here’s What To Do:

Set oven to 350. Mix ingredients together until creamy (with an electric mixer is easiest). Roll into balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Use a fork to put impressions on cookies both ways, and to smush them down. Bake for 10 minutes! Recipe makes about a dozen cookies.

Enjoy!

an adaptable recipe for muesli.

567296ba-4125-465d-a075-19fdfdadb081I’m one of those people who wakes up in the morning and immediately needs something to eat. I’m the person to whom ‘brunch’ really means ‘second breakfast’ because I couldn’t possibly wait until 10am to eat for the first time. I’m married to a non-breakfast lover (other than hearty breakfast potatoes topped with an egg and the occasional french toast on weekend mornings), so I’m left to my own devices during the week. Cereal and oatmeal are all fine and good, but they’re a little uninspiring, right? And while oatmeal fills me up for the morning, it takes a little bit of time to make it when I’m in a rush in the morning. If I have cereal, on the other hand, I find myself snacking by 9am.0e77466b-90f4-48fc-9ce5-df53ec7ff3f4 Muesli is hearty, healthy, filling-me-up-for-the-long-haul goodness. If you haven’t had it before, muesli is very similar to granola, sans sweetener, oil and oven. Essentially, you just throw a bunch of oats, nuts, and dried fruits into a jar, mix it up and leave it on the counter to last for weeks. Did you hear me say that there’s no oven required? With the heat of summer coming our way, you just may find yourself reaching for this recipe as well. I mixed up a giant 12 cup batch in one of my gallon sized jars the other day that will probably last until the end of the school year. All ingredients are dried pantry goods, so there’s nothing that will go bad before then as long as I keep the lid screwed tight to keep staleness at bay. When you’re ready for your bowl of morning muesli, just scoop some out into a bowl, pour over your desired amount of milk, add a dollop of yogurt if you feel like it, and add any sweetener. I like a sprinkle of brown sugar best, but maple syrup or honey are yummy options too.

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Like I said in the title, this is easily adaptable. Don’t like nuts? Add more oats or seeds. Put whichever dried fruits you like best in. I’ll give my recipe for a gallon, but you can easily adjust up or (more likely) down.

Here’s What You’ll Need: 

  • 8 cups old fashioned oats
  • 2 cups mixed nuts and seeds roughly chopped (I used pistachios, pecans, almonds and pepitas)
  • 2 cups dried fruits (I used cherries, cranberries, and blueberries)

Or the formula to remember is: 4 parts grain + one part nuts + one part dried fruits

Here’s What To Do: 

Are you ready? This is ridiculous…Mix it together, put it in a jar. That’s it! And when you’re ready to eat it, just scoop however much you’d like into a bowl, pour over a little milk, a scoop of yogurt and sprinkle some sweetener over. Mix and enjoy!

a recipe: crunchy fridge pickles

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On Saturday afternoons we don’t even have to think about what we’re having for dinner. Just like we eat pizza on Fridays, on Saturdays – we have burgers on the grill. There are few things more satisfying than burgers on Saturday. It makes the weekend feel like a holiday, even if it isn’t. Especially if we’ve spent the afternoon at the beach. We always pick up a big, juicy red tomato (it’s always tomato season in Florida) from the market on Saturday morning along with the rest of our veggie haul for the week. If there’s corn, then we’ll pick that up too to throw on the grill. If there isn’t any corn (unlike tomato season – it’s actually not always corn season) then we’ll slice up a couple potatoes to throw in the oven coated with olive oil, garlic salt, and generous grind of black pepper. Grabbing our plates with our burgers ready to dress, I pull out the holy grail of toppings. The fridge pickles. Burgers, in my opinion, are made by their toppings, and one topping that we can’t go without – are pickles.

It’s a not-so-secret love in my life. Pickling things. I’ve pickled most things that people are in the habit of pickling – onions, cucumbers, radishes, green beans, even asparagus. We eat them piled on sandwiches, burgers, tacos (pickled red onion or radishes- yum), and straight from the jar (pickled green beans or asparagus with a cold beer –  yum). Pickles just taste like summer to me, and when you live somewhere that actually is summer year round – you eat a lot of pickles. I grew up loving Claussen’s pickles, and while I spent a few years using a heated pickle recipe, around last year, I found an even easier way – no heating required. This recipe reminds me so much of Claussen’s. It’s a riff on Deb’s for Refrigerator Pickles, and by far the best and easiest I’ve found.

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A note about my pickling habits: I don’t pickle in bulk. I like to do small, one jar at a time, 10 minute sessions. This means that I avoid processing jars for hours over a boiling pot of water, and I’m not spending hours slaving over the cutting board. We only make what we’re going to eat within the next couple of weeks (or days).

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Fridge Pickles

Makes 1 pint sized mason jar.

What you need:

  • 2-3 small cucumbers (we prefer Persian cucumbers, but many like Kirby the best!)
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped dill
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • pinch crushed red pepper

What to do:

Slice cucumbers to desired size. Add vinegar, salt, and other seasonings to mason jar. Add cucumbers. Fill to the top of the “Freeze Line” with water. Screw on lid, and shake vigorously.

Put in the front of the fridge, and shake again over the next few hours whenever you open the fridge. You can eat after an hour, but they’re best after 6-8 hours.

*Will keep for 3 weeks, but if you’re anything like us, they won’t last that long.

** We’ll use the brine for two batches of pickles. Once you eat the first batch, just slice up a couple more cucumbers, put them in the same jar, and refrigerate. Enjoy!

a recipe: anything granola bars

I’m staring down the tunnel of testing season at school. Which means tomorrow I’ll either be quietly locked away in my office finishing up my collection development plan for the end of the year or I’ll be suddenly called to do my duty and proctor a test for third grade should some teacher call out sick (I did hear that one third grade teacher has hand foot mouth disease so I’m fearing the latter). Testing season in the elementary school brings with it both stress and anxiety for both teachers and students in the morning and then the extreme, almost delirious relief of the afternoon when the tests are over for the day (only to know that section two comes the next day). A combination of both celebration and the camaraderie of doing something no one wants to be doing for the day. I have a hard time mustering up any real emotion about it either way. All I’ll be thinking about (in addition to the spending of my library budget – Fiction? Nonfiction? Graphic novels? Dare I throw it all at picture books?) is Charlie giggling hysterically over toes tonight before bed. I mean hysterically. Toes!

On to the real topic for today. I discovered the best recipe for granola bars a few weeks ago. I loved them so much I’ve made them twice for us, once for the neighbors across the street who just welcomed a new baby and I’m planning another batch to be whipped up this week. They’re quite possibly the easiest thing because they are an “anything” recipe. Whatever you happen to have on hand you can throw in. Those are my favorite kinds of recipes. Flexible and forgiving. I’ve been playing around with an “anything” bread (or maybe some would call it cake 😂) that I’ll share when I get it just right. But today I wanted to put his here for my own future reference and yours when the mood may strike.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup nuts
  • 1/4 maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup mix-ins of your choice (I used dried tropical trail mix here)

Here’s what to do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 inch square baking dish with parchment paper or foil.

Place oats and nuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes. Place them in a large bowl.

Combine syrup, butter, and brown sugar in a small saucepan on medium heat until butter and sugar are melted.

Remove from heat and stir in salt and vanilla. Pour over the oat and nut mixture.

Mix in any of your extras, saving chocolate.

If adding chocolate, let mixture cool for about fifteen minutes then add.

Use a rubber spatula to press into your pan. Chill for about two hours then remove from pan and cut!

I hope you try them! So yummy.