Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Mexican Street Corn and Verde Chicken Enchiladas- A Favorite This Summer

About this time 7 years ago I was facing the end of summer, the time that I feel as a teacher and mom is the most probable time to do a hobby if any time, and yet, alas, I hadn't found the time to make it happen! With kids ages 1, 4 & 6 the odds were against me for launching into new creative projects. And I felt discouraged and frustrated.  But I didn't want to just give up this hope! So, the idea came to me of doing a food blog- to give me a creative outlet that I could do as part of my everyday life.

I can't believe this is my 200th post! The first couple of years I was able to crank out a post a week and then my pace slowed down as the new recipes became less frequent and life's demands only increased! It has been such a treat to have a creative outlet that is doable. However, there have been times I have felt discouraged, thinking "there are a million food blogs out there, why am I doing this?!" But then I'll write a post and it feels fun to write and photograph and share and I remember that this is my quilting, or water coloring that I don't have the time to do right now.  Or I hear from a friend that something on my blog was a hit in their home or was a help to them when hosting friends, and I feel encouraged to press on!  Or I evaluate my life and think, "this is an OPTIONAL thing in my life, as opposed to most of the other commitments that are required of me.  And then I have to tell myself, "that's exactly why you should  do this. It's a hobby...it's a creative outlet...it's not an assignment or job."  So thank you for being a part of this journey! I am grateful.

For this 200th post, I wanted to share with you 2 yummy new recipes.  I have been making these for a couple of months, taking photos and working out the kinks! So, here they are:

Elote (Mexican Street Corn) and Chicken Verde Enchiladas!

Elote was just introduced to me a couple of years ago and now whenever I see it on a menu I can't resist ordering it! I first had it at Butchertown Hall, and then at Green Hills Grille and then at the Little Donkey. Yum, yum and yum.  I found a recipe that looked like what I enjoyed at these restaurants and made it at home.  It's grilled corn on the cob rolled in a cheesy, creamy sauce, sprinkled with chili powder, garlic and cilantro and served with a lime squeezed on top. Often times it is served on a stick or with the husks pulled down to create a handle.  This makes it much less messy, to make and to eat, though I made these in the photograph without a handle. (Lesson learned the messy way)

Mexican Street Corn

4 cobs of corn

1/4 cup mayonaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup finely crumbled cotija or feta cheese, plus more for serving
1/4 tsp. chili powder (plus more for dusting on top)
1/4 tsp. chipotle chili powder (plus more for dusting on top)
1 medium clove garlic, finely minced (about 1 tsp.)
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems

1 lime- cut into wedges                
Shuck 4 cobs of corn and wash thoroughly, removing the silks as much as you can.

Grill the Corn: Rub them with olive oil and place them on a hot grill. Cook until kernels are soft and there is a little but not too much char - turning and rotating for about 8 minutes  Meanwhile make the sauce.

Sauce: Mix together mayonaise through cilantro. stir well.

Use a spoon to scoop and smooth corn with sauce on all sides. Sprinkle with a little extra cheese and chili powder and serve immediately with lime wedges.



The Verde Chicken Enchiladas were inspired by The Raines boys (young friends from church). I was bringing a meal for their family when they welcomed home a new brother this summer and they requested enchiladas. I thought I would fill them with chicken and wanted a cream sauce that wasn't complicated but was fresh and tangy, made with verde salsa.  I poked around and came upon this recipe from one of my notebooks (my Pinterest before there was Pinterest notebooks that I wrote about HERE).  I believe it's from Southern Living many years ago (based on what I remember about the font of the torn out magazine page). They were so simple and yummy.  We made a trial run first and I used a Hatch Green Salsa from Trader Joes because, well, the packing was cool.  I'm a sucker for great packaging.  But we decided it was too spicy for kids.  So next time I went for a basic Salsa Verde. 

Makes 8 small enchiladas
Filling:
3 cups chopped cooked chicken (roasted, rotisserie, baked, however you like it)
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack or Mexican Mix cheese (1/4 cup reserved for sprinkling on top)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 (4.5 ounce) can chopped green chilies, drained
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
8 taco size corn tortillas
Sauce for top:
1 8oz. container of sour cream
1 8 oz. jar of tomatillo (verde) salsa

Stir together first 5 ingredients.  Warm tortillas in the microwave with a damp paper towel around them for a minute to soften them so as to not break. Spoon chicken mixture evenly down center of each tortilla, and roll up.  Arrange seam side down in a lightly greased 13 X 9 inch baking dish. Coat tortillas with cooking spray.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese on top.

Bake at 350˚ for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Stir together 8 oz. sour cream and salsa.  Spoon over hot enchiladas; sprinkle with desired toppings.




I served this with black beans- made from canned black beans drained, rinsed, with water added.  I sautée onions & garlic, add the beans, some cumin and kosher salt.
and
a little simple green salad dressed with a swirl of olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and salt and pepper.

I think the salad is a nice accompaniment to the rich, creamy corn and enchiladas!


Some of us pursue creativity more than others, but I believe that we all need creative outlets in our lives.  As Brené Brown's research has proved, cultivating creativity is one of the guideposts of Whole-Hearted Living! She says,
  • "I'm not creative" doesn't work. There is no such thing as creative people and non-creative people.  There are only people who use their creativity and people who don't.  Unused creativity doesn't just disappear.  It lives within us until it's expressed, neglected to death, or suffocated by resentment and fear.
 also...
  • As long as we are creating, we are cultivating meaning.  -from The Gifts of Imperfection   

Let's use our creativity!!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Mini Cinis! (Quick Mini Cinnamon Rolls)

I am a fan of cinnamon rolls!  And the smell of them in the oven is irresistible! I have always marveled that Cinnabon Cinnamon Roll shops need not market their goods, as long as they keep baking the rolls in the mall.  The smell lures people in!

As much as I love cinnamon rolls,  I often do not have the time to devote to yeast-based cinnamon roll making! So, these quick little treasures are a good stand in! They are made with canned refrigerated crescent rolls and are therefore super fast and easy while still being flaky and tasty.

I like making mini-muffins and mini versions of things so that less is wasted and people can get as much as they want (1 or 2 or 8...like my son did)! Also, when hosting a gathering, I prefer to serve minis so that guests can have a taste of a lot of different things.

There are several variations of this recipe swirling around the internet and in cookbooks- some with butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar.  I tried this one which doesn't call for butter and they were great (since there is plenty of butteriness in the crescent rolls already). So, feel free to play around with the recipe and adapt to your liking! You can add more cinnamon or chopped nuts inside, or even orange zest. This is just the basic recipe to get you started.

Here's how to make them:

Mini Cinis
(makes about 28 itty bitty rolls)

for the rolls-
1 package (8 oz) refrigerated crescent rolls
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 heaping Tbsp. ground cinnamon

for the frosting- 
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
A spoonful or so of milk (or enough to achieve desired consistency)

for the top-
a few pinches of coarse salt to sprinkle on top after drizzling with frosting (because salty sweet is always a win)
chopped pecans if you choose

Preheat oven to 350˚. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Unroll crescent roll dough onto a baking mat or another piece of parchment paper.  Separate into 4 rectangles. Firmly press diagonal perforations with your fingers to smooth them out.

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.
Sprinkle mixture evenly over rectangles- leaving a 1/2 inch margin around the edge (so that the dough can stick to itself when you roll it).
Carefully roll each rectangle into a log starting from the longer side. 
Cut each log into 1/2 thick slices.  
 Arrange mini cinnamon rolls close to one another on the baking sheet.

 Bake the mini cinnamon rolls in the preheated oven until golden, 10 to 13 minutes.  Transfer onto a plate and set aside to cool for a minute. 
Combine the confectioner's sugar, vanilla and milk in a measuring cup until smooth and a pourable (but not too thin) consistency. Drizzle over warm rolls.  Sprinkle with a little coarse salt (and pecans if you are adding those).

a double batch- minus the handful my son snagged
 This is a simple 
recipe I couldn't resist passing along to you.
Enjoy!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Nothing Says Summertime Like Key Lime Pie (a recipe worth Re-Posting)


This is a re-post from 5 years ago.  It's a perennial favorite.  It is summertime deliciousness! 

I believe that little things can make a big difference.  It might only take a few more minutes, or a couple more dollars (or not any more $$ at all) – just a little time, creativity and intentionality, and you can greatly enhance the beauty and enjoyment of things.
For example:
>Use a pretty tablecloth or cloth napkin whenever you can (some of my favorites I got at thrift stores and antique stores).  It can add such a nice touch.

>Instead of pens rolling around in your junk drawer, why not put them in a fun jar on the table?

>On a nice evening when a friend comes by, why not light some candles outside and sit for your visit?  (It can feel magical!)

>Or keep a dish of yummy seasonal candy on your office desk to share with those who pass by.

>When you have a meeting to attend, make some cookies or muffins to take with you.

>Place a pretty napkin in a basket when serving muffins.

>Write a handwritten note of love, thanks, or well wishes to someone.

>Have a small vase of fresh flowers in the room for your spend-the-night guest.

>Sprinkle coarse sugar on top of your muffins.

>Use fresh garlic &/or herbs in place of dried when cooking.

>When hosting a gathering, make little tents out of card stock with labels of "de-caf" or "regular" on your coffee or specific titles of the foods being served.

You get my point?  All these things are little things but they can really add beauty, creativity and fun to the ordinary.  I would love to know what special little things you think make a big difference!

I was thinking about all of this as I was making Key Lime Pie this week.  As I made it, I was thinking about how much homemade graham cracker crust and whipped cream for really takes this pie up a notch. Such a small investment for a big difference!

Key Lime Pie.
It is many people's favorite summertime dessert.
The filling is so creamy and tangy and the crust is sweet and buttery.  The whip is so light and fluffy.
I love it in the summer, or when we have Mexican food, or fish or really anytime of day, with any menu.
It is such a simple, timeless recipe.

I don't know if you have made many Key Lime Pies, or have eaten many.  But making a graham cracker crust takes about 5 minutes and the result is a crumbly, buttery, golden crust that you want to just eat by itself!  Buying a Keebler crust is more expensive and just can't compare to the crunchy buttery goodness of a homemade one.  And whipping cream is super simple and it typically costs no more to buy whipping cream than to buy Cool Whip.  And it is so much better (and not filled with a long list of chemical ingredients).

Key Lime Pie
1 1/2 cups Graham Cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 stick (4 Tbsp. melted butter)

For a normal or deep dish pie pan:
2 cans Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 cup Key Lime Juice
6 egg yolks

{OR for a smaller aluminum pie pan}:
1 can Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 cup Key Lime Juice
3 egg yolks

Make Graham Cracker Crust – I put graham crackers in a ziplock bag and crush them with my fist, or with a mallet.  (You can make them as fine or coarse as you like). Stir together ingredients for the crust.  Combine until well incorporated.  Press into a lightly greased pie pan – reserving one spoonful for tasting (okay, you don't have to, but I can't ever resist!) Place crust into oven and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.






In a separate bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the filling. Stir until consistent and smooth. (Hang on to the egg whites, as you can use them in another recipe or have them on hand for breakfast egg whites). Pour filling into crust.  Return to oven for 10 minutes (just to "kill" the raw egg).  Let sit on counter for 10 minutes to cool a bit.  Place in refrigerator for 4 hours or more – until set and cold.


whipped cream
Make whipped cream: 
Pour 1 pint of whipping cream into mixing bowl and let it go full speed for a few minutes until thickened and peaks remain when you pull out the beater. (Watch it or you will have butter in your bowl!) Add a hefty spoonful or two of sugar and voila! 

There you have it!
It doesn't get any better than this simple pleasure – it's the little things!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

So-Good Brownies- A Recipe to Pass Along


This is a brownie recipe recently added to my collection and I am smitten. My mom made these brownies for my birthday this year.  She said she wanted to bake for my birthday but that she knows Dave enjoys the tradition of making me a birthday cake.  (I enjoy this tradition too!)  I suggested she make brownies or cookies since I love those too, and why not have brownies and cake!  

She ended up making cookies for dessert on the night we ate together for my birthday a few days before my actual day.  They were chocolate chip with pecans- one of my favorites.  They were beautiful and delicious! Then on my actual birthday, my dad came to a meeting on campus and surprised me with a plate of brownies (cut heart-shaped) and topped with chopped pecans.  They were amazing! There were too many for me to take home (since I knew cake was going to be at home), and not enough to take to class to share with my students.  So I shared them with my colleagues.  They were glad I did.

Tanya, the custodian who cleans our area, happened to be in the office at the time and I offered her one.  She gladly accepted.   A few days later I saw her in the hall and she said it was the best brownie she had ever had, and that she had saved part of it to share with her twin sister, Tonya.  (Yes, they are twins named Tonya and Tanya. She told me that it was the labor and delivery nurse’s idea to name them one vowel different when her mom had twins that she wasn’t anticipating!) According to Tanya, Tonya LOVES  brownies.  She said Tonya didn’t believe that the brownie was not from a bakery. She asked if she could buy some from my mom! I said, “You can’t buy them, but I will make them for you and give you the recipe.” 

I called my mom and told her how much we enjoyed them and asked for the recipe.  I went ahead and made a few copies of it when she passed it along.

A week or so later I made a batch and brought a box of them to work for her.  I couldn’t find her in the halls so I left it on my desk with the recipe and a note, as I knew she would come early in the morning to collect trash from my office. I ran into her several weeks later and she told me that they have been making this recipe a lot since I passed it along. So fun.  


This recipe is from The Southern Living SEC Tailgating Cookbook.  and has a side bar that says, “Go ahead and copy the recipe to give to friends at your tailgate.  They’ll be asking for it.” I think they are right.  They are chewy, thick, rich and lovely.  What sets them apart from other brownie recipes I make are brown sugar, unsweetened baking squares, and lots and lots of butter (not that this part is unique to this brownie recipe). 


Makes 16  2 inch square brownies

4 (1 oz.) unsweetened chocolate baking squares
¾ cup butter 
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 large eggs 
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350˚. Line bottom and sides of an 8 inch square pan with aluminum foil, allowing 2 to 3 inches to extend over side; lightly grease foil.

Microwave chocolate squares and butter in a large microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 1 ½ to 2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30 second intervals. Whisk in granulated and brown sugars.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, whisking just until blended after each addition.  Whisk in flour, vanilla, and salt. 

Pour mixture into prepared pan.



Bake at 350˚ for 40 to 44 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted comes out with a few moist crumbs.  Let cool completely on a wire rack. Lift brownies from pan, using foil sides as handles.  Gently remove foil, and cut brownies into 16 squares.  

(Note: this makes a 8 inch square pan, which I thought seemed small, but found that they are rich and thick! I have, however, doubled the recipe a few times when feeding a larger crowd.  This really spotlights the amount of butter, sugar and chocolate are in these lovely brownies!)


I am thankful when sharing a baked good and recipe can connect people to each other. You might want to make a batch and take them to work, or pass them to your neighbors (or tailgate- if you are are tailgater), and show some love via butter, chocolate and lots of sugar! And be ready with the recipe to pass it along. 
  
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Monday, May 16, 2016

Sunshine Kale Salad


I have a new recipe! It's like a Broccoli Raisin Salad/Kale Salad mash up. It was inspired by a salad we had at a restaurant recently. This is my attempt to recreate it. Dave and I went to Chattanooga several weeks ago for an overnight getaway! (A very rare occurance!) I haven't been there in years. What a great city! We loved it.


We went to Urban Stack, a local, cool, burger place our friends the Joneses recommended. We of course wanted to get a burger and fries, but this Sunshine Kale Salad on the menu looked really good. Dave suggested we split both...which is my favorite.  We got an incredible burger (with bacon, gruyère/ bleu cheese, and an onion compote) and fries.  
The salad was also so good and unique.  I tried to memorize it. I took a picture and when we got home I started looking up dressing recipes and merging a few to create this one.

Sunshine Kale Salad
(4-6 servings)
inspired by Urban Stack in Chattanooga, TN

the dressing (sweet onion vinaigrette)
makes more than enough- but you can save and use on another salad

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup water (just to lighten in up)
1 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 cup sugar (or honey or agave nectar)
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
1/2 small onion (chopped)

Finely chop onion in the blender.  Add all other ingredients EXCEPT oil.  Blend together until well incorporated and onion fully blended.  While blending, slowly add in oil until all well blended.

the salad
4 cups fresh broccoli -finely chopped
4 to 6 stalks of Kale washed, removed from the stalk and coarsely torn
3/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup sweetened flake coconut
1 mango- chopped
1/2 cup (or more) crumbled feta

Grilled chicken, optional (see HERE or HERE for recipes/instructions for that)

Prep salad ingredients (washing, chopping, etc.) Add diced chicken if including it.
Drizzle some of the dressing on top.  Toss it in and add more dressing as needed to reach desired taste.
You can make it ahead of time or serve immediately.  If serving it later, you might want to stir, taste, and add a touch more dressing before serving. Tweak as you wish- add, delete or alter portions to your liking.






Summer is upon us! Summer feels like salad season to me! I love to have salad as a main dish for dinner and my favorite lunches are prepared salads that can be made and kept in the refrigerator to be pulled out at lunchtime.  It's also Summer Reading time and I have made my annual Summer Reading Stack.  It's a little too ambitious- and some are from last year that I never read, or at best never finished, and there are many more that have been added to the stack.  In fact, I keep adding more books to the stack.  It's about to topple over.  If you are interested in meeting to talk about any of these books (if you too have read them or want to read them), let me know!   


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Gooey Fudge Pie


We had some excitement in the kitchen this past week. Monday was Pi Day. My son's terrific Geometry teacher put out a request for Pie donations.  I said yes, but wasn't sure what kind I would make.  It needed to be quick, simple, preferably non-in-need-of-refrigeration since that is limited at the school. The answer - Gooey Fudge Pie. This is one of my mom's signature pies.  She adapted the recipe from Entertaining with Friends Cookbook (written by and benefitting Vanderbilt Children's Hospital).

Of all of the baking I do, I don't end up making pies very often- I think the potential of crust burning and/or falling apart feels high risk to me and because I am often feeding a larger group than a pie can serve.  But I sure love to eat pie! This one is a winner (I especially love it when served with whipped cream or ice cream.)
Jennifer's pie photo she texted me

About the time my crusts were thawed on Sunday evening. (I used bought crust that I had in the freezer), I got a group text from my sister letting my mom and me know that she had just made 2 gooey fudge pies for Ben's math class for Pi Day, wondering how we would be celebrating Pi Day. It must run in the family!





a few hours later, my pair of pies 

They are so easy to make, with ingredients you most likely have on hand.  I didn't get to taste the pie this time (a downside to pies- no way to sneak a slice without it being obvious) but Asher gave a good report, and the plates came home empty.

Gooey Fudge Pie
(from Elaine Williams- Mom)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup sugar
dash of salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 unbaked 9 inch pie crust

Toppings (optional)



Preheat oven to 350 ˚.  Melt the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl in microwave, stirring occasionally until blended.  Remove from oven and set aside.
Add whisked eggs, flour, sugar and salt. Stir. Stir in vanilla. Pour into the prepared pie shell (Mom suggests the Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie crust).  Bake for about 25 minutes or until the center is still slightly liquid.  Cool on a wire rack. Slice and eat.  Add toppings of your choice.
Toppings: ice cream, hot fudge, caramel sauce, toasted sliced almonds or whipped cream.  (Click HERE for whipped cream instructions).

If you want to make a homemade pie crust- I think Martha Stewart's Easy Pie Crust is a winner-here is the recipe and is a video with some great tips to making a perfect pie crust.  

I just heard from my sister that she ended up making 7 pies this week! 3 fudge, an apple, tomato pie, shepherd pie and a chocolate chip pie!  I love that!

In honor of St. Patrick's day, this week for our small group meal we decided to get crazy and have a "Green Meal". We have a google doc each week where everyone signs up for what they will contribute. So this week we just had a blank page where we all wrote what GREEN item we would bring (trying to make a balanced meal). It was an incredibly delicious meal. I don't know how I would describe it, but we are already thinking about the next color-themed meal we will share.  We agree that some colors would be less healthy than this one! 



I am hoping to get some of these recipes to share with you.  I keep thinking about this salad with warm bacon dressing. 

Next week is Easter Week! It has snuck up on me.  I need to do some Easter baking/cooking in the next few days.  There are so many clever and beautiful ideas on the internet, but if you need some easy tried-and-true ones, here are a few- an activity, a main dish, my favorite Coconut Cake,  Candies and treats. Enjoy!

Friday, March 11, 2016

A Season of Liminality: A Threshold

What do you write when it's been 3 months since you've written anything? It's been an unusual season for my family. And it feels like we are now in an "in-between".

I was already behind on blogging- I had a few batches of photos from foods I had made that were awaiting the day when I could write and post. January had been filled with some good eats: yummy Mustard Greens with Hoppin' John from New Year's celebrating, a lovely Chocolate Cake (via Barefoot Contessa) for MLK day, and homemade donuts from my Lucy's birthday and a few other snacks and goodies.

And then one Wednesday afternoon at the end of January we came home from work/school to find that our house had been robbed and ransacked.  It was a watershed moment.

You know, the moments that then mark time.

So we have been picking up the pieces, literally and figuratively.  We have been doing the logistical, spiritual, parental and psychological work of the aftermath of something like this.  Through this, though, we have been given a chance to reevaluate things- what is important, what's not, where we are "storing up treasures", the limits and illusion of safety, the complexity of life, the comfort of loved ones.

Sadly, the loss included my computer and my camera.  So my photos of those January foods I mentioned are gone.  And I have just now been able to buy a computer and camera to replace the stolen ones.  I'm still waiting for the wind in my sails to motivate me to blog-on.  It hasn't seemed to return yet.

It seems like we are in a place of liminality.

Li·mi·nal of or relating to a sensory threshold;  being in an intermediate state, phase, or condition. (Merriam Webster Dictionary)

An artist that spoke at Belmont several years ago, Makoto Fujimura, spoke of liminality and its challenge and opportunity.  About liminal spaces, places of threshold, he said,
These are dangerous places, filled with struggle.  Uncomfortable.  But places of unique perspective; fertile with creativity.  One who is courageous enough to live there can be a harbinger of truth.
It feels like that space between right now- not quite spring, but not quite winter.  Not quite settled after the break-in, but not in disarray; still replacing stolen items and awaiting another update from the detective, yet trying to find resolution without yet having reconciliation.

So, for this Liminal Space- I share these two recipes.  A great cold buster smoothie recipe that was passed along to me that I have been loving the past few weeks (a good any season breakfast) and an oatmeal cookie recipe that I find comforting.

My colleague Debbie sold me on this "cold buster smoothie" that her husband has been making for her this winter.  I was fighting cold symptoms so I took her recommendation.  This is an adaption of their recipe,  so of course, adapt even more as you like.  Debbie described this as "bright", and I think it depicts it perfectly! 

(And my cold was busted!)

Cold Buster Smoothie (inspired by Debbie and Steve)
Blend together:
  • two fists-full of fresh Spinach leaves
  • a peeled whole orange
  • 1/2 of peeled lime
  • a small slice of fresh ginger root
  • 1/2 banana OR frozen mango- for creaminess and vitamins
  • frozen pineapple- a handful
  • brewed green tea-(I brewed a pitcher and kept it in my refrigerator the week of my cold) some mornings I just use water instead of green tea
  • honey- if you need a little sweetening

Mix together in a blender until smooth.  Drink immediately.  Makes 1 large or 2 small smoothies.

And a quick, easy, and comforting cookie recipe.

I was talking with my friend Lindsey on Sunday about baked goods and she mentioned loving those decadent chocolate chip cookies with frosting sandwiched between them that they sell at the mall. You know those?  And she said one of her favorite treats is Oatmeal Cream Pies.  I didn't know.  I will tuck that little information in my memory for some day when a treat might be in order.  She said she loves Oatmeal Cookies.  I told her that I make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies- THIS delicious go-to-recipe my sister developed.  But I usually don't make traditional oatmeal raisin cookies.  For 2 reasons- my kids don't love raisins and I don't especially love cinnamon in cookies (unless they are snickerdoodles...but that's another story).  

My dad loves oatmeal raisin cookies.  His birthday was this week. So I decided, because I had two people to share with, I should make them.  I searched in cook books and online and decided to go with Smitten Kitchen (which is always a low-risk choice).  I made a couple of slight changes.  I used golden raisins and omitted the cinnamon.  The recipe calls for using all brown sugar (no granulated white sugar), a little extra salt and chopped walnuts.  All of these were the keys, I believe, to their yumminess.  They are nice and chewy (with all the oats and brown sugar) with a golden edge. The cookies turned out tasty and my kids gobbled them up! Which was a bonus.  


Oatmeal Golden Raisin Cookies
adapted from Smittenkitchen.com
(makes about 2 dozen)

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. kosher salt (or a little more if you are using unsalted butter)
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (old fashioned oats)
3/4 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth.  Add in the flour, baking soda and salt and mix together.  Stir in the oats, raisins and walnuts.  CHILL the DOUGH.  (You can do this in the refrigerator for an hour or more, or in the freezer for 20 minutes, or you can scoop them into balls and freeze them for future baking.)

Once dough is chilled, scoop them out and place on parchment lined baking sheets.  Place in preheated 350˚ oven for 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Let sit for a few minutes on the pan and then slide them off with a spatula to cool on a rack.



As we wait for winter to pass and the spring to arrive, for seasons of liminality to pass, I want to courageously embrace the unique perspective and fertile ground that is the present.