Category: quick & easy

Blueberry lemon lovin’.

This is a recipe I’ve made quite a few times, except I’ve never changed it up before. It’s actually a favorite of mine, especially in the summer. Lemon is super refreshing and summery tasting, and this is a pretty simple recipe to throw together quickly before a party/barbecue.

I found myself with a pint of blueberries & I thought, I should really use them for something before they go bad. I actually had no idea what that something would be until the very morning of a family get-together I was having. About 6 hours before our families were due to arrive, I just decided, hey! Lemon + blueberry. That works! And I pulled out this ol’ recipe.

Blueberry lemon cakes with lemon glaze!

It’s actually a Starbucks lemon loaf knockoff recipe I found ages ago on the internet. I’ve since made it so many times however it’s been maybe 6 years since I’ve had the Starbucks version. So long that I can’t really honestly remember if this one does indeed taste like the Starbucks one; but I said it did once so I believe it.

The best thing abut recipes like this- and I say this all the time- is that its totally customizable. Once you make it, you begin to think of what else you can do with it. This particular lemon-y flavor lends itself beautifully to fresh berries.

Which makes it great for summer!

Lemon cakes, with or without blueberries, with a lemon glaze.

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Cherries in the snow- uh, syrup.

Cherries in a light almond-y syrup. #sweetpreservation

Remember that Revlon lipstick, Cherries in the Snow? I believe they still make it. I remember as a kid my mom wore it, and I loved the name. What a great name for a lipstick. It was one of their best sellers for many, many years by the time I came along. Anyway… I always think of that lipstick when I see cherries, so it was more than a great name, it was great marketing!

This post isn’t really about Revlon or makeup or anything related to it at all, actually. It is, however, about cherries. Sweet, perfect cherries from the Rainier Fruit Company. And of course, part 1 (part 1… yes, there will be more) of what I did with them!

Rainier Company cherries! #sweetpreservation

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Raspberry cinnamon basil jam.

Did you know how many types of basil there are? In my short life experience with growing it, I’ve grown Thai basil, Genovese basil, sweet basil, amethyst basil, Greek basil & cinnamon basil. And there are plenty more varieties. This year, we kept it to 3 kinds; sweet basil, purple ruffles basil (which has deep purple ruffled leaves & has an almost anise smell to it) and cinnamon basil. And it’s not just basil I love experimenting with. We have two types of dill, two types of oregano, three types of sage…

I love having them around, especially to sneak into jams and preserves. They’re always unexpected, and leave the taster saying, “Wait.. what is that flavor?!”

Small-batch raspberry cinnamon basil jam.

Two years ago I did it with blueberries and regular basil. The year before that? I popped some cilantro into raspberry jam with jalapeños. Last year I made my dad an experimental small jar of mixed berry jam with cinnamon basil, and it was such a hit I decided to try it again. This time, I’m doing a plain raspberry jam… with a sneaky little bit of cinnamon basil strewn in.

Cinnamon basil -which is also known as Mexican spice basil- smells like a strange combo of basil & cinnamon; moreso cinnamon. It’s a very unique smell & flavor. It actually contains the same chemical (methyl cinnamate) that gives cinnamon it’s flavor. When popped into a jam, it really helps the jam straddle that line between sweet & savory.

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Flourless chocolate… messiness.

Flourless chocolate cake.

I have made this cake countless times. Countless. It’s one of my mother’s favorites, so I usually end up making it for her birthday (in July) or Mother’s Day. It’s an easy cake for warm weather because it requires very little prep, and it bakes at 275° F, so it doesn’t make your kitchen boiling hot. I could make this cake in my sleep.

Flourless chocolate cake.

Maybe this time I should have!

I made this for my mom for Mother’s Day, and I kind of messed it up. Listen. It tasted perfect. The problem? The pesky sides came off when I removed the springform pan, but whatever. Who cares what it looks like, really. At the end of the day, you’re just shoving it in your mouth, amirite?

Flourless chocolate cake.

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Peanut butter birthday pie.

For three people in my life, I have a rule. Only three people. The rule is: on your birthday, you get to pick one baked good- anything you want- and I will make it for you and you get the entire thing to yourself. You won’t be asked to share it. You can do with it whatever you want. Eat it all by yourself while watching TV, share it, bring some to work, smear it on your face and run around town naked, etc.

Okay maybe not so much that last one… Anyway

Oh look, sneaky highly edited preview wedding shot!

Sneaky wedding preview shot!

So, only THREE people get this privilege- there were four, but my Nana passed away almost 4 years ago. Today actually would’ve been her 97th birthday, and she would get whatever she wanted. But that happened regardless of what day it was, let’s be honest. Anyway, there are three people in the entire world who have this privilege and two of them (my parents) get it for an extra day each: Mother’s Day/Father’s Day as well as their birthdays. The third person is Jason.

But sometimes… even if they pick something on their own, I see a recipe that just screams their name. So they get two things.

Peanut butter pie topped with pretzels, crumbled chocolate cookies & peanut butter chips.

Jay has picked a variety of things over the years, sometimes cupcakes. Sometimes cookies. Sometimes pie. This year, he chose cheddar dill scones (I know, random). Which was fine by me. However I also had another trick up my sleeve: peanut butter pie. And since its not quite his birthday yet- it’s actually this Saturday, the 23rd- I could make more than one thing easily.

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A simple simple syrup & vodka cocktail, please.

A refreshing spring & summer cocktail with lime simple syrup, vodka and seltzer.

As of last night, Mad Men is over. Forever. Adieu, Don Draper/Dick Whittman. Goodbye, Peggy Olson. Adios, Joan Harris. And Roger Sterling! Oh, how I’ll miss Roger & his antics. Now that this show is over, who are we to look to for suave yet incredibly sexist reminders of days gone by? Who else on TV will remind us not only how far we’ve come socially, but also remind us on a weekly basis that men (…and women) today dress like slobs? Who else will have us yearning for cocktails – and cigarettes- constantly?

I don’t know. All I do know is that I happen to love the idea of the “cocktail.” Especially this time of year. Open windows, sunshine, and a nice cool cocktail.

A simple simple syrup & vodka cocktail, with lemon and lime.

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Ready for rhubarb: baked & pickled.

Bowl of rhubarb (click through for two rhubarb recipes)

Rhubarb comes and goes very quickly. It’s fleeting, rhubarb season. You simply cannot just walk into a store here and get rhubarb any time you want during the growing season. It sells out of the markets & supermarkets almost immediately. My mother absolutely LOVES rhubarb, and the season usually coincides with Mother’s Day, so I try and get some to make her something special. When I find it, I try to grab it. But if its not the greatest quality, or if its on the pricey side, I skip it. The stalk I bought for these two recipes was pretty huge, and I paid a little over $2.00 for it. It went into these pickles and also the next recipe which you’ll see in a few days (so keep that in mind).

So yes, in this post, it’s a two-for-one. One rhubarb cake recipe, and one pickled rhubarb recipe. First, the cake!

Rhubarb cake.

Rhubarb is really, really pretty. There are two main kinds; the bright pinkish red kind (this one) and the light pink and green kind. And then there are a bunch in between, of course, but those are the two main color types you’ll find in your store/market. Both colors are fine for any purpose, so long as you be sure to cut off all the leaves, if they come with them still attached. Rhubarb leaves are poisonous! This is especially important to remember if you buy your stalks from a farmer or a farmer’s market, or get them from someone who grows it. I know the brighter pink ones are more “attractive” aesthetically, but the pinkish/green ones can be very pretty too. I like to use a mix if I can find both.

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