Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fancy Veggie Sandwiches

Leftover Veggies... That's a wrap!
Nearly a week ago, I promised to show you how to use up the leftover perfect grilled veggies.  I hope that you weren't waiting with bated breath, because you would be dead now.  I also hope that you found something to do with those veggies, because they really only last for about 4-5 days in the fridge.

The reason for my delay is that I've decided to start another blog where I write cookbook reviews. My inspiration for this blog originally, was to share recipes that I've adapted from around the web, but I've found that my day to day cooking tends to be inspired more by cookbooks than from websites.  Go figure.

Starting the cookbook review website (called Cookbook Authority) was a natural extension of this website, but I think the cookbook review website has more monetization opportunity than this one, so this site is now officially a hobby website, where I can post whenever the fancy strikes me.  Which I hope is often, as I've been thoroughly enjoying writing and cooking for this website.

And onto the sandwich.

This sandwich is one of the more wonderful tasting sandwiches that I've made primarily because it's eaten on fresh, warm, homemade tortillas, and it has a fancy sauce called Remoulade.  In case you were wondering, Remoulade is nothing but fancy mayo, whereas aioli is nothing but fancy mayo with garlic.

In addition to the warm, bready tortilla, and the tangy sauce, the sandwich has creamy avocado, perfectly seasoned leftover vegetables, and delicious roasted chicken.  It has so many unique flavors and textures going on, but they all work together perfectly.

Now, before I give you the recipe for this sandwich, I want you to know that I will not give you sandwich assembly directions.  This is because one of my earliest cooking memories was getting a Kraft Recipe Magazine, and I showed my Dad a recipe for a sandwich and he remarked how ridiculous it was that they gave assembly directions, as if a person didn't know how to assemble a sandwich.  I don't know why that has stuck with me so much, but since it has, I will only give you directions on the parts that require directions.

The most important part of this recipe is the homemade tortillas, which are as ridiculously quick and simple as they are delicious.  They come from a cookbook called Djiboutilious which is written by my old babysitter, Rachel Pieh Jones who is a ridiculously cool person and a fabulous writer (at least it appears that way online, I haven't seen her in about 20 years, so I can't say for sure).

If you need to use up those leftover veggies, this is definitely the way to do it, enjoy!

print recipe

Fancy Veggie Sandwiches
A Delicious sandwich on homemade tortillas from Rachel Pieh Jones' book Djiboutilicious
  • 2 Cups Flour + Extra for sprinkling
  • 2 Tablespoons Vegetable oil
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 3/4 Cup Warm Water
  • 1/3 Cup Mayo
  • 1.5 Tablespoons Ketchup
  • 1.5 Tablespoons Mustard
  • 2 Teaspoons Paprika
  • 2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground black pepper
  • 1.5 Avocados- Sliced
  • 2 Cups Leftover Vegetables- sliced
  • 2 Cups Leftover Pulled Chicken or Roasted Chicken
1. In a bowl, combine water, flour, oil and salt and form a ball.2. Break dough into 6 balls of equal proportion.3. Roll out tortillas using a rolling pin (For wraps like this, I prefer to roll an oblong shape as opposed to a perfect circle)4. Place tortilla on a hot griddle or a hot dry frying pan for about 60 seconds per side.5. To make the remoulade, combine mayo, ketchup, mustard and all spices.6. Assemble sandwiches, using toothpicks to hold them together.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 Servings
Continue Reading »

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Perfect Grilled Veggies

Grilled veggies are the perfect side for your Memorial Day Picnic
Do you have a distinct memory of the first time that you thought you were an adult? My first memory of feeling like an adult centered around food.

When I was about seven or eight years old, my family hosted an exchange student from Thailand. When we hosted her, my mom started cooking tons of stir fries. It seems like we ate stir fry every night that Tum lived with us, and after that, my mom didn't throw in the towel with the stir fries because she rightly thought that stir fry is pretty much the most delicious weekday meal that you can make.

I didn't mind the stir fry craze that was sweeping the kitchen, but there was one part that I didn't like... the vegetables. I tried really hard to be a good healthy kid, but I didn't like how the vegetables tasted in the sauce. Now this is not to say that my mom did a poor job cooking vegetables.  No, my mom is one of the most wonderful vegetable chefs that I know.  I simply did not like the vegetables in stir fry; I only liked vegetables raw.

This distaste persisted for years, mostly as a repressed feeling as I sadly ate an appropriate serving of vegetables, so I could guiltlessly indulge in the delicious meat, rice and sauce.  If I complained about the vegetables, I apologize.

Then in eighth grade, my friend Laura broke her femur.  She was regulated to a wheel chair for the entire summer, so I biked over to her house every day and we hung out.  We made caramel corn, did puzzles, read Gone with the Wind, and otherwise passed the time doing not that active of activities.

One afternoon, she asked me to pick a few snap peas from her parents garden, which I did, and then she decided that I would make stir fry for our lunch.  It would be a vegetarian stir fry since the internet told us horror stories about Salmonella poisoning and E. Coli, so we were terrified of touching chicken lest we kill ourselves in the process.

I wasn't overly fond of the idea, but I didn't have any better one (no pizza in the freezer), so I went with it.  I don't remember the exact ingredients, but it was pretty basic. Maybe just a little sweet and sour sauce and some soy sauce in a frying pan with a few vegetables, but the aroma was enticing.

I remember watching the vegetables cook and thinking, "I want to eat this. I actually want to eat vegetables."

I felt so responsible, cooking a nutritious meal for me and my friend, and when we sat down to eat, I downed that plate of vegetables, and I liked it!  Right then and there, I felt like and adult because I liked vegetables.

That day was a turning point for me, and since then, I've started to love vegetables, and I enjoy making them the star of my meal especially when I don't have to sacrifice flavor.

These grilled vegetables are my quintessential example where the vegetables are the star.  Sure, we will eat rice or chicken or something else with these vegetables, but honestly a plate groaning with these vegetables is just about the perfect summer meal for me.  The balsamic vinaigrette marinade imparts an almost meaty quality to the mushrooms, and it brings out the natural sweetness of the others, and a charcoal grill gives these veggies a smoky flavor.  

The peppers end up smoky, sweet and acidic; the mushrooms are tender and meaty, and the strength of the onions gets neutralized by the marinade and the grill resulting in a sweet, mildly pungent side.  I can't quite find the word to describe the squash and zucchini, so I am going to say that grilling them brings out the planty flavor that I couldn't quite get enough of, so I kept coming back for more and more and more.

My recipe has been adapted from Julie and Charles Mayfields' book Paleo Comfort Foods which is one of the best cookbooks in my arsenal, and I don't even pretend to eat Paleo. (Link is an Amazon Affiliate).

When you make these veggies, make more than you can possibly eat, because they make the best leftovers.  For example tomorrow I will share a chicken and veggie wrap, or you can make a seriously awesome omelette with any remaining veggies.

You know who else loves vegetables? My little man.

He looks like such a little man now.

Do you have any food=adulthood moments? If so let me know in the comments.

print recipe

Grilled Veggies
These perfect grilled veggies are the perfect side for your summertime picnics
  • 3 Small Zucchini - Thinly slice lengthwise
  • 4 Small Summer Squash - Thinly slice lengthwise
  • 1 Red Onion - Thickly Sliced
  • 5-6 Mini Sweet Red Peppers - Sliced
  • 12 Mushrooms- Sliced
  • 1/2 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
1. Place mushrooms and peppers in a small bowl, and squash, zucchini and onions in a larger bowl.2. Whisk balsamic, oil, and spices thoroughly.3. Pour 2/3 of marinade on squash and onion mixture, and pour the rest onto the mushroom and pepper marinade4. Let veggies marinade for at least 30 minutes.5. Lay zucchini, squash and onions on open grill with a low flame.6. Place Onions and peppers on foil or a grill pan also over a low flame.7. After about 8-10 minutes flip zucchini, squash and onions.8. After another 5-7 minutes begin removing vegetables. They should be tender but not limp.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 Generous Servings
Continue Reading »

Monday, May 19, 2014

Texas Caviar

Texas Caviar: Only you can decide if this is a salad or dip.
Texas Caviar is an all time favorite recipe from my childhood.  I remember being up at my grandparent's cabin and eating enormous mixing bowls full of it with my cousins over the Fourth of July weekend every year.  When my cousin, Bjorn, first brought his girlfriend, Ann, up to the cabin, she volunteered to bring a dip.  She brought the world's most enormous container of Texas Caviar.  My other cousin and I took a test bite, and then another, just to be sure it was as delicious as it seemed.

As soon as Ann was out of the room, my cousin said to me, "I can tell she's a keeper; look at how much salsa she brought!"

Sure enough, the next summer Bjorn and Ann got married.

Texas Caviar is an awesomely popular and widely adapted recipe, and this recipe comes to you courtesy of my Mom's best friend Jeri.  

I have, of course, taken more than my fair share of liberties with the recipe, but I think we can all agree that a great recipe like this is like a great house.  You might change from Victorian furniture, to shag carpet, to DIY vintage, but the bones of the house stay the same.  It's the same thing with this recipe.  I might have added a few ingredients, and subbed out a few ingredients, but the heart of the recipe remains the same.

My riff on Jeri's recipe reminds me of one of my favorite passages in Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist, a book that my mom gave to me for mother's day. Niequist writes, "I'm not really a recpie girl. My Mom teases me about it, knowing that when I say I used a recipe, all it means is that at some point, some list of ingredients and techniques were involved as I threw things in pans, as I sliced, poured, salted and peppered with seeming randomness.  She does not particularly appreciate this cooking style, and sometimes she has to leave the kitchen because my loosey-goosey approach makes her nervous."

When I was making this Texas Caviar, I had a hard time deciding if it was a salsa or a salad. I've landed on both, but mainly because we ran out of chips, and I did not want even a single bite of this delicious dish go to waste.  

The black eyed peas and garbanzo beans form the tender and mild backbone of this Texas Caviar, but the real flavor party starts to happen when you add sweet peppers and ripe corn, the lightly acidic bite of grape tomatoes.  Creamy, rich avocados contrast with the sweet and acidic vegetables, and the pungent zest of red onions and cilantro highlights all of the flavors.  But to make this dish sing, you really need Jeri's balsamic vinaigrette. Her dressing is a perfectly simple and balanced dressing that soaks into the beans and the vegetables causing each distinct flavor to harmonize, like a very small symphony...in my belly.

The specific recipe I made is below, but leave a comment to let me know your favorite adaptations.  I'm going to be making this again on Saturday, and I'm always looking to try something new.

print recipe

Texas Caviar
Texas Caviar is a bean salsa. Perfect for eating with tortilla chips, or not. Depending on how you're feeling that day.
  • 2 Cans or 1 Cup Dried Black Eyed Peas- Cooked
  • 1 Can or 2/3 Cup Dried Garbanzo Beans- Cooked
  • 1 Cup Fresh or Frozen Corn Kernels
  • 1 Cup Grape Tomatoes- Diced
  • 1 Small Red Onion- Diced
  • 1 Avocado- Diced
  • 1/2 Bunch Cilantro- Finely Diced
  • 1/4 Cup Balsamic
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1.5 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
1. Mix beans, vegetables, and cilantro in a very large bowl.2. Whisk Balsamic, olive oil, sugar and salt until well combined3. Gently pour dressing over vegetables and mix until everything is soaked.4. Refrigerate for at least two hours to allow vegetables to marinate before serving.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 10 Servings
Continue Reading »

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Frozen Mocha Pops

Missing my afternoon coffee run- a jaunt to my freezer will more than suffice now that I'm stocked with Frozen Mocha Pops!

Back when I was a fancy corporate employee, I rallied a group of over a dozen coworkers to buy Bruegger's Bottomless Mug cards, so that we could make morning and afternoon coffee runs.  That card was worth slightly more than its weight in gold to me (the card weighed about 1/8 of an ounce, in case you were wondering).  

I cannot tell you how much caffeine I pumped through my body in the two years that I had that card, but it is safe to say that it exceeded the healthy levels recommended by the FDA.  More than the caffeine, I loved the camaraderie of taking a coding break, walking to the bagel shop, and sipping coffee together on the way back to our cubes.

Now that I work remotely, the biggest thing that I miss is those coffee breaks.  I am wildly more productive, but I can't help but yearn for that steaming cup of coffee and an opportunity to vent or chat and let loose for a little while.

However, working remotely does have its benefits and I'm going to count Frozen Mocha Pops among them.

These frozen mocha pops were inspired by The Pioneer Woman's love for all things cold coffee, and the fact that living in a warmer climate has made me love cold brew coffee too!  Typically, I like my coffee hot and black, but when it comes to cold brew, sweet and creamy is my preference.  I started thinking that I should start making homemade frappucinos when I realized that frappucinos are just melted popsicles in a cup, thus was born the frozen mocha pop.

Frozen mocha pops are sweet, with a strong but smooth coffee flavor, and just a hint of chocolaty goodness.  The ice crystals are tiny which gives these pops a silky texture as opposed to the icy texture of other popsicles.  When the robust, sweet, creamy flavors melted in my mouth the world slowed down for a second.  I forgot about the dozens of emails piling up in my inbox and the coding issues that were not resolving themselves, and I got caught up in the world of yum.

Do yourself a favor and whip up a batch of these, and enjoy it instead of your afternoon coffee, you'll be glad you did.

What's your favorite tradition for an afternoon work break? Coffee, a walk, sweets, something else? Let me know in the comments.

As I'm wrapping up a week of Popsicle recipes, here are a few tips:
1. As far as I'm concerned the NoPro IcePop Mold is the way to go.
2. Fill your molds about 7/8 full, because popsicles expand.
3. Pay attention to how straight your stick is.  The top of the NoPro has convenient stick sized openings, but they do no good if you don't stick those popsicle sticks in straight.
4. I find the easiest way to remove popsicles is to run the mold under warm water for 10-15 seconds.  When you are pulling the ice pop out, you should feel some resistance.
5. If you break the ice pop on removal, its because the pop got too warm.  Just refreeze it, and it will be fine (or eat it, no judgement here).
6. I prefer to store my popsicles in the mold, but you can also wrap the ice pops in wax paper and they stay good for over a week in the freezer.
7. Experiment with your favorite flavors, and find something you love.

print recipe

Frozen Mocha Pops
A sweet, creamy mocha frozen into an ice pop treat!
  • 3/4 Cup Cold Press Coffee
  • 1/3 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1/3 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • Approx 1/2 ounce Chocolate Shavings
1. To Cold brew your coffee (if you don't own a french press) fill a glass container with 1/2 cup of ground coffee and 1.5 cups of water, this will yield at least one full cup of coffee after filtering. Let the jar rest for 6-24 hours. Then use a traditional coffee filter and a funnel and pour the liquid into a new glass. Once the filter is wet, it shouldn't slip around much, but don't just plop all the grounds in there because the filter will break.2. Whip cream and powdered sugar together until cream forms stiff peaks (for creamy pops, alternatively, you can just gently mix without forming peaks and you will get a bit of separation in the pops with slightly larger ice crystals).3. Mix whipped (or unwhipped) cream mixture and coffee, then fold in chocolate shavings.4. Freeze for at least three hours before eating.5. These popsicles can be removed from the mold using either the ice bath or the warm running water method.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 Pops
Continue Reading »

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tropical Popsicle

Tropical Popsicle. Breezy Freezy. Fruits Cahoots. These fruit pops required a rhyming name.
For the past week and a half, the Mad Scientist has been taking an inter-semester break, so he and Littlest have been hanging around the house quite a lot.  I love having my boys home. Usually, I am locked up in my office all day with exactly zero face to face interaction, but with Littlest and Mad Scientist around I get all kinds of attention.

For example, Littlest will crawl into the office, pull all the books off the shelf, and begin shrieking (pteradactyl style) at the precise moment that a client is calling to understand the details behind an analysis that I've put together for them.  Or the Mad Scientist will ask me to watch Littlest for a few minutes while he runs to Lowe's, and I will find my child laughing uncontrollably with his onsie drenched in (sweat? water? other?) and his face full of mud.

Maybe these aren't among the highest order of social interactions, but I love them nonetheless, because I love being with my family. I even love when the Mad Scientist comes inside complaining about the heat as if it is the weather's fault that he is all sweaty when he is the one who is outside working ridiculously hard to solve our drainage problem.

Do you want to know what else I love? I love that at the end of a long work day (for me), and a long day of home improvements (for the Mad Scientist), and a long day of ? (for Littlest), we all sat together (Norman Rockwell style but in dry fits) and enjoyed these Tropical Popsicles.

Tropical popsicles are the quintessential fruit pop.  The only ingredient in these bad boys is fruit (and water).  I can't quite nail down why, but there is something so purifying, so cleansing about eating a sweet (and the tiniest bit tart)  treat and knowing that you don't even have to trick yourself into thinking its healthy.  It's just pure, frozen refreshment on a stick.

The ingredients are as simple as can be. Tropical Fruit (for this batch I used mango and pineapples, but bananas, papaya and coconut are amazing too), and non tropical fruit (I used strawberries, but any berry or a sweet citrus would work well too). Cut, blend, freeze, enjoy.

Eating these felt indulgent and luxurious and detoxifying and cleansing all at once.  These pops made it easy for me to ignore the fact that Littlest ate more dirt than fruit, and to ignore the fact that we had no patio furniture (we sat on overturned 5 gallon buckets).  We were just a little family eating a little treat, and cooling off from the heat of the day.

I like memories like that.  I hope to have more of them, and I hope these Tropical popsicles help you to make memories too.

print recipe

Tropical Popsicle
Its frozen tropical fruits. Simple and refreshing.
  • 1/4 Pineapple Pineapple- Diced
  • 2 Mangos- Diced
  • 1/4 Pound Strawberries- Diced
  • 1/3 Cup Water
1. Blend half of strawberry chunks, half of mango chunks, half of pineapple chunks, and water until smooth2. Fill molds 2/3 full with blended fruit3. Add small chunks of fruit to the mold until the mold is full4. Insert sticks, then freeze at least 5 hours5. Thaw using either the warm running water or the warm bath method. Either one takes 20-30 seconds and both work equally well for this type of ice pop.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 Popsicles
Continue Reading »

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Berry Creamsicles

Berries and Cream, Berries and Cream! I'm a little lass who loves Berries and Cream!
Are you easily influenced by Mass Marketing? I don't know if I am easily influenced, but I definitely remember an awful lot of commercials.  Not only that, when the tagline or slogan fits my current situation, I feel compelled (as if by the ghost of Don Draper himself) to repeat the slogan.  

Nearly always, this habit confuses other parties, but I have met a few kindred spirits. Maybe new acquaintances, maybe lifelong friends, but in either case we share a connection.  We remember that we were mass marketed to in the same way.  We remember the way that commercials and products and high fructose corn syrup shaped our childhoods. "Feed the Rush, Do the Dew, Weird, but Good., Give me a break, Two for me, None for you."

These were the phrases of my childhood.

Now, I am going to remind you of another phrase.  A short lived phrase, and one that I think came out late in my high school years. "Berries and Cream, Berries and Cream, I'm a little lad who loves Berries and Creeeeeeam!" Does anybody remember that tagline? What about that product? 

Anybody, Bueller? Bueller?

Well, it was Starburst.  Berries and Cream Starburst to be exact. Here's the full commercial for your viewing pleasure. And a visual reminder for those that won't click the link.

Creepy Starburst guy.  You are welcome.
Why am I reminding you of the ridiculous marketing that shaped my adolescence? Only because every time I eat berries and cream (or any variation thereof), I do the dance.  The whole dance, and the slogan.

So you can imagine that while I was whipping these Berry Creamsicles up, I was dancing in the kitchen like a ridiculous court jester the whole time.

Really, these Berry Creamsicles deserve a little jig all their own.  The sweet frozen berries combined with light, fluffy frozen cream in one dessert? What's not to love?  It's my favorite parts of strawberry shortcake, or angel food cake, or fruit pie frozen into one lovely desert, a berry creamsicle.  The perfect fusion between popsicle and ice cream.

It really is ridiculously easy to make, and even easier to eat.  Make them today, and you will not be disappointed.

Also, if you are a kindred spirit let me know in the comment section, and give me that slogan that's always running through your head.

If you aren't a kindred spirit, I still want to hear from you, but don't feel the obligation to make up a slogan just to be like the cool kids.  We really aren't the cool kids at all, just the kids who watched a little too much TV, or paid too much attention to the commercials.

print recipe

Berry Creamsicles
This delicious popsicle is a frozen riff on the classic desert, berries and cream
  • 1/4 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
  • 1/2 Pound Strawberries- Diced
  • 3/4 Cup Water
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 1/2 Pint Blackberries
1. Whip cream and 1 Tablespoon sugar until it has formed stiff peaks. Store in fridge.2. Combine berries, sugar and water in a small sauce pan. Cook on low heat until you have a heavy syrup (approximately 10 minutes)3. Allow berry syrup (with fresh berry chunks) to cool in freezer for ten minutes or in fridge for up to a day.4. Fill popsicle molds about 1/3 full with berries and berry syrup only.5. Fold remaining berries and syrup into whipped cream.6. Fill the rest of the mold with the cream mixture, insert sticks and freeze at least 8 hours7. To remove creamsicles, run mold under hot water (this is more effective for these than the hot water bath method).8. You can refreeze these wrapped in wax paper or re-inserted to mold as desired.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 Pops
Continue Reading »

Monday, May 12, 2014

Banana Sundae Popsicles

Banana Sundae Popsicle- It's a summertime classic on a stick! I should enter it into the Minnesota State Fair!
I don't consider myself to be an extraordinary healthy eater, but I am neither a teenage  boy nor a freshman in college, so my eating habits are certainly more virtuous than some people's. Additionally, I had an entire week devoted to salads, only one of which was not really a salad but a large bowl of pasta, so I am capable of eating vegetables.

That being said, there is one frozen concoction that will lead me straight into a desert black hole.  No, its not a Margarita.  Folks, its a Popsicle!

I love popsicles, and as a sign of the Mad Scientist's undying love and affection (and his ability to follow instructions regarding birthday gifts), I received a popsicle mold for my birthday.  I love this thing so much, that I am considering buying stock in a popsicle stick manufacturing company.  Since my birthday, I have been experimenting with flavors and textures and toppings, and you, dear reader, are about to be the recipient of some dang tasty popsicle "recipes".

Welcome to Popsicle Week 2014!

Like I mentioned earlier, popsicles have the power to deter me from almost any reasonable eating habits, and tonight was no exception.  I made homemade ramen noodle soup for dinner, but about three bites into dinner, the Littlest decided it would be a good opportunity to have a dramatic meltdown.  This is pretty unlike him, but he had been out in the sun all day and had not taken very good naps, so I suppose he was due for a mental breakdown.

I have a hard time eating when my son is dangerously thrashing about in his high chair, so I decided to cut dinner short and give Littlest a quick bath and get him ready for bed. Despite my speed, it was another 30 minutes before I was back downstairs getting ready to eat, and surprisingly the now cold and somewhat congealed soup lost a bit of its appeal.

Any reasonable adult would have nuked the soup for 30 seconds and forged ahead with her dinner plans, but I am no reasonable adult.  I had banana sundae popsicles in the freezer, and a mandate to eat at least one since I wanted the taste to be fresh in my mind to write this post, so I ate one, and then I ate another for good measure.

Banana sundae popsicles are a seriously delicious frozen treat that have the texture of pudding pops, but the flavor of a banana split (minus the cherries as maraschino cherries tasted weird in this).  The sweet and creamy base is the result of overripe bananas combined with creamy dreamy Greek yogurt and sugar, but the add ins are what make this Popsicle sing!  I started by adding some chopped milk chocolate, dark chocolate would be delicious too, but I intentionally chose the sweeter chocolate, because Greek Yogurt does have a bit of a sour bite that I was working to balance.

I also added homemade salted caramel to the mixture, which is a magical sweet and salty sauce that is so deliciously easy to make that I get in a bad habit of mixing up a batch almost every time that I have an unclaimed stick of butter in the house.

Finally, I topped the whole thing in sweet, buttery graham cracker and pecan crumbles, which I was surprised to find held up to the crunchy promise (unlike similar store bought versions that get pretty mushy after a few days in the deep freeze).

I think the banana and yogurt base is a winner, and I hope to use it for some future tropical popsicles, but for now I hope you enjoy this reconstructed banana split popsicle! Just say yum!

print recipe

Banana Sundae Popsicles
All the best flavors of a banana split, on a stick!
  • 2 Overripe Bananas
  • 1/2 Cup Greek Yogurt
  • 2 Teaspoons Split Vanilla
  • 3 Tablespoons Milk Chocolate Chunks
  • 6 Tablespoons Split Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Full Sheets Graham Crackers
  • 8 Pecans
1. Blend Yogurt, Bananas, 1 Teaspoon of vanilla until smooth. Set aside.2. In a small saucepan, melt 4 Tablespoons of butter, and add brown sugar, remaining vanilla and salt.3. Continuously stir while sauce bubbles rapidly. Once it begins to take on a foamy look, take it aside and let it cool.4. Fold in Chocolate Chunks and slowly fold in the caramel sauce. If the sauce is cool enough it will fold nicely, otherwise you will get little chunks of caramel. Either way is delicious.5. Pour mixture into popsicle molds and freeze at least six hours.5. Pulse Graham Crackers and pecans in a food processor6. Melt remaining butter in a pan, and add graham cracker mixture. Stir until the graham crackers form little crumbles. Spread crumbles on parchment paper.7. Remove popsicle mold from the freezer, set it in a warm, not hot water bath for 20 seconds then remove popsicles.8. Dip both sides of popsicles in the crumb mixture and immediately refreeze on parchment paper in an air tight container.9. Keep frozen at least 30 minutes before enjoying.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 6 Popsicles
Continue Reading »

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Letter to Littlest: 10 Months

You are becoming so expressive. I sometimes wish that I could freeze time, so that I could remember everything.
Dear Kenny,

Today you turned ten months old.  You've officially been outside of me longer than you've been inside of me.  Of course, that's not entirely true.  In these ten months, you've wriggled into my heart and daddy's heart in ways that we never thought possible.  So really, you've been inside of me from the start, and you never left.

I never thought that I would be one of those moms who admire their baby's every accomplishment, who looks at every new milestone as a sign of precociousness, but I am.  With every passing day, I see your new tricks, the way you mimic and babble, and I wonder how you learned all these things, and I wonder at the ways that God has enlarged my heart so that I can love you more than I ever thought possible.

It's not just you who, I love more, but everyone; especially daddy.  Our God truly is an amazing God.

I don't know how old you will be when you first read this letter.  Maybe seven or eight.  I hope Google doesn't go under before then because I really have no idea how to back up a website. I suppose at that point, you will not care so much for these heartfelt emotions or for the words that make me tear up as I write them, because I know that my words will never be adequate to express mine and daddy's love for you.  Most likely, you will be more curious about yourself.

Today, Littlest, you are so wiggly, busy and fun!  In the past few weeks, you have started communicating with me and daddy.  For example when I say, "I love you, give me kiss," you lick my cheek.

Miss Amanda, who takes care of you swears that you said "Bye Bye, Daddy" when Daddy dropped you off last week, but I'm not so sure.  What I do know is that you babble on and on, and when you finish, you look at me or at daddy with those big blue eyes as if you expect us to respond.  We just shake our heads at you because that makes you giggle every time.

You are starting to understand when things are funny (at least to you), and you have the most adorable belly laugh.  Daddy recorded it on his phone.  I'll try to load it to our computer so you can hear yourself in the future.

And you love to play games with me and daddy! Your favorites are give and take (where we hand you a toy, you take it and then hand it back and repeat) and feed mommy and daddy (where you offer us soggy graham crackers and we pretend to take a bite).  

You understand to not pull books off the bookshelf, and you mimic when we say "So Big" and "So Little" and you speed crawl to us when we call your name (well you start crawling our way, but you usually get distracted by a toy along the way).

What else are you doing? Well, you can now pull yourself up on furniture, climb one or two stairs at a time, attempt to feed yourself with a spoon (your enthusiasm in the task is excellent, but your execution is still pretty poor), drink water from a water bottle, and you sign "More" although we are pretty sure that you don't understand this either.

Most of all you are on the move.  Like lots of babies, you are so curious about the world around you.  You want to put every rock, dirt clod and pine cone in your mouth.  You want to touch every book, every paper, every tool, and be constantly close to mommy or daddy (as if you can help us sweep, dig a ditch, cook, or do work on our computers).

You also have two teeth on top and two on the bottom.  Your hair is coming in a lot thicker and its turning a little bit red.

This month you got to go to a wedding in Washington DC, and we spent a lot of time in the Smithsonian Museum.  You seemed to like looking at the gems, just like daddy.  Nana and Grandpa and Auntie Greta came down to Raleigh to visit us, and we had so much fun with them.  They love you so much, Littlest.

Every day you are learning and growing, and I cannot believe it was just ten months ago that you were born because I feel like you've been a part of my life forever.

Your daddy and I pray with you and for you every day that you will treasure Jesus above everyone and everything else, and that you will be a lover of God and of people.

We love you so much in all the world,
Mommy & Daddy
Continue Reading »