New Recipes To Try

This past weekend I had some extra time in the kitchen to try out some new recipes.  If you still have garden fresh tomatoes (and we are about done), this soup is wonderful!  It is easy to make.  Put it with a grilled cheese sandwich and you have the perfect lunch.

I also LOVE to bake and keep coffee cakes and quick breads in my freezer.  I attend both a MOPS group and a Women’s Bible Study called Coffee Break.  I have to bring brunch to each every few months.  It saves time to simply pull something out of the freezer.

I had overripe bananas laying around.  Instead of making banana bread or muffins like I usually do, I made this delicious coffee cake.  I had planned on freezing it.  It looked so good coming out of the oven that the kids and I ate it over a couple of days.  I will have to wait until my bananas are overripe to make another one.

What recipes do you like to try in the fall?  I hope to do some more baking this week with the apples I recently picked.


Mountain Dew Addictions

Hello my name is Amy and I am a Diet Mountain Dewaholic.  My last drink was Monday evening at 6 PM. 

It was a long drawn out battle to give up regular Mountain Dew & regular Coke.  I started the process in 2000 and finally was successful in 2010.  I’m not kidding when I tell you there were times I cried over this issue.

I thought I had won the battle when I only drank strictly diet soda.  However, that amounted to drinking two sometimes three diet sodas a day that all contained caffeine.  Not to mention the cup of coffee I have every single morning.

I asked myself the following…Why am I drinking something that–

  • has no nutritional value and makes me thirstier
  • keeps me up at night and gives me weird dreams…borderline nightmares
  • gives me a boost during the noon hour but makes me crash at 2:30 PM
  • I am so dependent on it that I look forward to drinking it and will go out of my way to run the store and purchase one if there are not any in the house
  • probably negatively affects all the exercise I am doing
  • makes me hungrier

If you are drinking something not necessarily because you are thirsty but because it feels good to drink it–you might be too dependent on it.

So now it’s strictly ONE cup of coffee and that’s the only caffeine I consume in a day.  So far I am not feeling the cravings nor am I having any head aches. I am enjoying the better sleep, the less late afternoon fatigue, and not being overly dependent on a 12 oz soda.  I hope I continue to stay on this path!


Favorite zucchini recipes

I never thought I would become a fan of zucchini bread and muffins until last fall when a friend gave me several large zucchini to take home.

Here is what I have made so far this season…

These are the best zucchini chocolate chip muffins!  I bake them and they are instantly gone within 24 hours. My kids love them!  I also bake a gluten-free batch and they turn out great.

Zucchini Chocolate Bread with Chocolate Chips.  Very easy to make!  My oldest daughter brought this as a birthday treat last year and the first graders ate it up.

Zucchini carrot bread.  My first time making it.  Two out of three children plus myself enjoyed it.  Great way to use some of the carrots in your garden or fridge.

Zucchini chips.  Easy to make but you need to allow yourself some time.  Slice the zucchini very, very thin.  I had to use a food processor.  I tried to prepare a batch slicing by hand and they did not turn out.  Cover parchment paper over a cookie sheet and lay slices on the paper.  Spray with cooking spray.  Sprinkle with sea salt.

Do NOT use aluminum foil.  I did this on my first attempt and it was like peeling stickers off a paper–most of the slices broke.

Bake at 225 degrees for 45 minutes.  Turn the cookie sheet around and bake an additional 30-45 minutes.

They should look like potato chips. And they taste delicious!


My first positive cake decorating experience

A few years ago I made a list of things I will never do.  At the very top of the list was cake decorating.  After too many disastrous, I-am-way-too-embarrassed-to-show-you-pictures birthday cakes, I threw in the towel.  But the over last year I have formed a more positive relationship with my oven.  Baking has become one of my favorite hobbies.

So when the opportunity to make a birthday cake for an end of the summer/birthday party came my way, I seized it!  This is probably the first actual cake I have ever decorated that turned out halfway decent.  This is a simple flip flop cake that would be fun for a Labor Day barbeque or little girl’s birthday party.

My cake decorating attempts have only begun.  I have not one, not two, but three kid’s birthdays this fall!  I am already getting some ideas.

BTW – You should probably never say you will not do something.  There are some things on my original list that I currently do and enjoy.

Summer Snack: Bears on the Beach

Summer is not over yet!  I still have not purchased any of my children’s school supplies or fall clothes.  I am still enjoying the lazy afternoons of lounging around in my backyard.  Here is a fun backyard summery snack called Bears on the Beach courtesy of my husband’s mom.  She has many creative kid friendly ideas and this is one of my favorites.

She helped my kids make blue flavored jello.  Then they added Teddy Grahams, brown sugar for sand, and a toothpick umbrella (you can usually find at most Dollar Stores).  One of my kids added a cherry as a beach ball.It is a fun and simple snack my kids could put together themselves.

I think it will become a summer tradition around here.

Simple & Kid Friendly Blueberry Recipes

Blueberries are my favorite fruit!  They are easy to take on picnic.  No peels.  No need for slicing or digging out pits.  My kids eat them by the handful.  My kids love our annual blueberry picking tradition.  It’s a cheap “kid’s outing” and we venutre out to the beautiful Oregon countryside.  Plus you save more money utilizing U-pick especially if you want to a large quantity of berries!

Most our blueberries get eaten by the handful as a snack, with a meal, or put on cereal and oatmeal or in waffles.  I did try a few blueberry recipes this year.  All of these recipes were simple and used almost everything I already had in the house.  I did not have to buy any special ingredients.

First we made Blueberry Heaven Smoothies.  This was a good “kid friendly” smoothie because it has both apple juice and vanilla ice cream in it.  The kids loved it!

Next I made blueberry mini muffins.  These are the perfect snack for the car.  They are less messy than regular muffins.  I freezed a bunch to take on our upcoming road trip to Canada.

Last I made blueberry coffe cake.  Perfect for a brunch of breakfast meeting.  My kids ate this up too.

The blueberries are almost all gone!  I wish we would have picked more.  I might have to head out to the U-pick again before the season winds down.

I’m linking this up with Frugal Friday.

Tips for making guacamole

It is the perfect summer outdoorsy type snack.  A few people with culinary skills gave me a crash course in how to make a tasty guacamole.

I used the Perfect Guacamole recipe.  One thing I discovered is you need to adjust any guacamole recipe to taste.  Obviously vegetables come in all different sizes.  The first time I made it too bland.  The second time it had too much lime juice.

First I had to learn  the proper way to cut an avocado.  Make sure you select one that is soft.  You will need to be able to mash it with a fork.  If it’s solid, it is too overripe.  You will need to wait a few days.

First cut around the pit on the avocado in a complete circle…

Then twist off the top…

You should be able to stab the pit with the knife and pull it right out.

Scoop the “meat” of the avocado out and put in a bowl.  Then mash it with a fork. Add the rest of the ingredients (red onion, Serrano chiles, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper).  Add the sliced tomato right before you are ready to serve it.  I added tomato to it right away the first two times I made it.  This previous time I added it right before I served it and I noticed a difference.

 There you go! A tasty and delicious appetizer to eat on your backyard patio!  Serve with tortilla chips.