It's been a busy week getting the kids to school and hopefully we've gotten back into a nice routine. Football and soccer are back in full swing for my 5th grader and they are back in school uniforms on Monday which makes this mama VERY happy!!
Tuesday, I sent both boys to school with a treat for their teachers. What was SUPPOSED to be blueberry muffins, but baked in a small pan turned into blueberry cake and the only thing I did differently was bake at a higher temperature for a few minutes longer. I also let them cool in the pans overnight.
A thank you note from my older son's teacher revealed that she enjoyed some at school and then shared the rest with her family with vanilla ice cream. I would have never thought to do that but it sounds delicious!
You can find the original recipe here.
Happy weekend! More to come soon as I tackle the ever so daunting packed lunch dilemma...
This morning, Lukie asked if he could make bagel chips--just because. Since we have fresh dill and garlic on hand, and of course bagels and butter, saying "no" really wasn't an option. Anytime I'm approached to spend time in the kitchen to create and make a healthy snack, I'm just fine with it.
And here is what my soon to be 3rd grader came up with!
Now for the recipe...hmmm...did I mention that Lukie ad-libs when he's in the kitchen?
Preheat oven to 375 and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Cut up two mini bagels
Toss in a bowl with two large cloves of chopped garlic, 1/2 stick of slightly melted butter (you still want some solids) and a generous helping of fresh chopped dill.
Bake for 7-10 minutes until crisp and golden brown. The chips will continue to crisp up as they cool down.
Tonight we'll be headed up to Ravinia Festival to see Harry Connick Jr. After a busy week, I'm looking forward to relaxing with friends who I haven't seen all summer sans the kids! For those not familiar with Ravinia, it is the largest outdoor music festival in the US and always has a great summer line-up of music ranging from blues to classical to rock and roll.
So far it looks like it's going to be an absolutely gorgeous day which will hopefully make for a great evening on the lawn with friends and of course food!
I'm prepping my offerings to share before I head off to work. Can you guess what I'll be making? (Recipes to follow tomorrow along with a re-cap of the evening of course).
Monday mornings are hectic. After 2 lazy weekend days of going to bed late and sleeping in, my kiddos are not too enthused about having to get up "early" on Monday. This summer they've been going to a day camp 3 blocks away that starts at 9:30 so they can get away with getting up as late as 8:45 before they have to walk out the door. That will definitely change in a few weeks when school starts again!
I tend to wait until I get to work to eat breakfast. Most mornings it's a bagel and cream cheese and when I plan ahead, I like to bring along smoked salmon, capers and a few other things to add. But that can be time consuming and when I picked up a 48oz loaf of cream cheese the other day, I decided to prep ahead so I can just grab and go in the AM. I used a small ice cream scoop and portioned everything out into disposable 2 oz containers that I found at my local store. One batch makes 4 which will get me through the work week.
Cream Cheese Spread Base
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbs heavy cream (adjust to taste/preference in consistency)
For the Salmon Caper Spread
2 ounces smoked salmon roughly chopped (I used a Gravlax version that already had dill)
2 tsp finely chopped capers
2 tsp finely chopped scallions (I caramelized mine first but you can use raw if you prefer)
pinch of seasoning salt
For the Dill & Scallion Spread
2 heaping tbs chopped fresh dill (Skokie Farmers' Market find at M & D Farms)
2 tsp chopped scallions
pinch of seasoning salt (I used Old Bay)
Combine ingredients in a bowl or in the cup of a hand mixer and mix until incorporated. Use as a spread for bagels or serve with chips.
Note, my little guy immediately ran off with the mixing container after I'd portioned the dill spread out and scraped every last bit off with a piece of bagel. I didn't think he'd like the raw scallions but he did!
Last Sunday, we were treated to a chef's demonstration at the Skokie Farmers' Market by Sweety Pies Bakery. It's the first chef demonstration that the market has ever hosted and being a local business, I think they were very well received!
On the menu, perfect for a Sunday morning, were two types of scones. Sweet (blueberry) and savory (mushroom cheese) made with ingredients found at the market. including R & B Miller Farms, the stand right next door. I can't think of a better way to promote your family business than by supporting another family business.
But back to the scones. Both varieties were moist and flaky and absolutely delicious. Of course the recipe wasn't given out for either but I'm sure several people in the audience, including myself were inspired to try their hand in replicating them. And since scones are fragile and can't be shipped (that I'm aware of), the recipe below is more for those who aren't in the Downtown Skokie vicinity and for those like myself who of course will be in dire need of a good scone on Monday's when Sweetie Pies is closed!
Sweet or Savory Scones (Adapted from Alton Brown’s Original Recipe)
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup of your preferred filling*
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
In a mason jar or any other container with a lid, combine buttermilk & beaten egg. With the lid securely on, shake well to combine.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix well. Using a pastry cutter or two forks, slowly cut in butter until combined. Don’t over mix. Add wet ingredients and combine then add filling.
Using a ice cream scoop or spoon, drop rounds of dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve warm or keep in the fridge for up to 2 days. You can also store in the freezer in a ziplock bag or freezer safe container for up to 3 weeks.
*I split the dough in half and used ½ a cup of blueberries that I got from R & B Miller Farms for the sweet & used ¼ cup of carmelized red onion, ¼ cup of portabella mushroom and 2 tablespoons of grated smoked gouda for the savory.
Last night it was suggested that we go out to dinner after a busy week and of course our restaurant of choice was Mia Figlia, located in the Edgebrook neighborhood of Chicago. We've been going to Mia Figlia as regulars for about 5 years now and have never been disappointed. And last night, I will say that owner/chef John Boudouvas out did himself.
Admittedly, I failed to take a picture of the menu (these were last night's specials) but you can't go wrong. Date night, early dinner with kiddos, just a random night out, you won't be disappointed if you want great food in a cozy, friendly environment. And there is free parking a 1/2 block away at Edgebrook Lutheran Church which is a huge bonus especially in the city.
Btw, we didn't order it last night because we were quite full after our meal, but the tiramisu is amazing...
Mia Figlia is located at 5304 W. Devon Ave, Chicago, IL in the Edgebrook neighborhood. And note, these words are my own. I was not compensated in anyway for our meal. We've been Mia Figlia regulars for years and I'm happy to pass the word along about one of our favorite restaurants in the city.
Last Sunday, Louie and I brought home a plethora of goodies from the Skokie Farmers' Market including a 5 lb box of Michigan blueberries. That may sound like a lot but with two hungry, growing boys at my house, they are constantly snacking and pulling out the ginormous box (no need to repackage) and grabbing a handful or two is par for the course. Our box is almost empty just from the snacking so on a whim, I decided to make blueberry muffins this morning before work/camp. Yes, you read that right. Before we had to get out the door--at 9AM vs the usual 7:40 during the school year of course.
I did some quick research and came across a recipe that was time constraint friendly and looked delicious and I was not disappointed. took two to work, Nik ate 3 before he got out the door and Louie finished off the last one when he came home from camp. I did tweak the recipe a bit but have included the link to the original below.
Pardon the picture. I couldn't wait for the muffins to cool before tasting so I inadvertently flipped one over in the pan while trying to get it out!
Ah it's been awhile since I've been in this space and now that we've finally "settled" into our new home, I will be back regularly!
If I hadn't already mentioned it, a few months ago, we moved just north of the city to Skokie, IL. It's a very vibrant community and ironically we are now closer to the boys' school than we were when we lived in the city, plus we have the added bonus of great nearby parks, a few friends from school live close by and my kids are becoming "neighborhood kids." Slowly we are learning our way around, albeit, we've always been regulars in Skokie for shopping but never to actually experience much more than that.
On Sunday, my little guy and I ventured out to the Skokie Farmers Market and were not disappointed. There was free parking across the street, the vendors ranged from the honey farmers in Wisconsin to cheesemongers with a variety of artisan cheeses and of course we came home with a plethora of farm fresh food.
For now, here are some pictures from our morning out and about. Needless to say we will be back next weekend to replenish our supply of fruits and veggies which has already dwindled significantly in the last 24 hours and I'll be posting recipes in the next few days utilizing our goodies!
My kids like to snack and thankfully, they do have a broad range of what they eat. During the summer, there definitely is no end to the ice cream or popsicles they will consume: and yes, we do make our own as well as going the store bought route. They are huge fans of fresh fruit and my little guy borders along the lines of being about 95% vegetarian from mid-June to the end of August.
Right now we are in spring which means lacrosse is winding down but baseball is getting into full swing. A childhood snack favorite at my house growing up was gelatin blocks, known also as Jell-o Jigglers or Knox Blox. I just happened to have a few boxes of Jello in our pantry and a box of Knox Gelatine so I thought I'd finally introduce my kiddos to it this weekend--with a twist.
I'd ground up fennel seeds and added a hint of paprika and turmeric to it for our grilled chicken. The colors were pretty, the taste was subtle so I threw a dash in with the gelatin mixture knowing that either the kids would love it or look at me and just sigh.
Lucky for me, they loved it!
Doesn't this look pretty? Understandably, the idea of putting spices in a gelatin dessert may not seem appealing on the onset but it added a little crunch with the fennel seeds, a slightly brighter color with the turmeric and just a tiny hint of interest with the paprika.
Here is the finished product cut and out of the pan and at 50% consumption! I'll be making another batch and working with the same spices but different flavored Jell-o and update how it turns out!
Mix the Jello and gelatine together in a small bowl. Add the spices and then gradually add the boiling water, stirring until the powers are dissolved.
Pour into a rectangular pan of your choosing. I used an 8 1/2 x6x1 aluminum pan which is commonly a restaurant take out pan and can be found at your local restaurant supply store or even some grocery stores.
Chill in fridge until set (generally 1 1/2-2 hours) or if you are in a bit of a rush like I was, put it in the freezer for up to an hour, checking to make sure the gelatin is set but not frozen.