Tag Archive: what is that


Lemon Blueberry Cake

For what ever reasons, I decided to make a lemon blueberry cake.

Maybe it was Oscar week and I always like to experiment with food choices for that meal. Maybe because winter has dragged on, and I needed something light and refreshing to eat. Maybe it was because I saw a great and luscious picture over at Sally’s Baking Addiction.

She made her cake from scratch. I used lemon cake mix. And my cream cheese frosting came from a tub.

Normally, I am not a person to make layer cakes. They require effort to make them straight and pretty. Bundt cakes require less effort and still tasty. But I really loved the look of this cake so I decided to go with it.

So to make a great picture, I put all of the ingredients, including one cup of blueberries, in the bowl. Now doesn’t that look pretty?

cake mix

Now, here is the problem. Once you start mixing those blueberries, the color immediately begins seep out of the berries. My lovely yellow cake is getting muddled with every stir of the spoon. I was not going to get the lovely color contrast.

Has that ever stopped me?

Cake baked

So I moved on, got those lovely pans filled and into the oven. At the right time, I got them out and, boy did it smell good in my house. As you can see the blueberries went down, which was okay in my book. I wanted to have the majority in one spot for the glorious effect later on.

I did what any improviser does best, I carried on and frosted the cake. The first layer went top down and I put a coating of frosting on. That cream cheese frosting was tasty. The next layer went top down. My goal became to use as much of the frosting that was left. It was going down. and around. I recently saw one suggestion of giving a thin layer all around the sides and top before going full blown with the rest of the frosting. I tried this and found I did not have as many crumbs trying to make a mess of my cake.

Cake

Which turned out quite lovely once I added the extra blueberries as an edible garnish. It was very tasty. And the sliced version had some of that contrast I was going for.

Cake slice

But if I ever do this again, I am making sure to put the blueberries in the cake pans first and then cover with the batter. Secondly, I am using more frosting in the middle. You can never have enough frosting in the middle.

What are you baking to get rid of the winter blues?

What is That? Snicker Salad!

In the summer time, I have one mainstay in my pot luck arsenal that never fails.  It also has the advantage of being quick and easy to put together.

Considering the events of the past week, I am sure some of you are wondering why I am not getting into a long discussion of what the Trayvon Martin decision means to me.

The simple truth is, in my opinion, I believe we will hear of more teenage boys being killed because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were deemed threats whether they are or not, and someone will of take care of them – all while congratulating themselves for taking out a thug in training even if that is not true.

If that last paragraph is too much to handle, you have a couple of options. “Tsk” the next time a boy is shot, volunteer your time with some sort of youth activity, or yell “get of my lawn” when ‘those’ boys walk by.

Now that the subject has been covered, Let’s talk about Snicker Salad. There is nothing healthy in this salad, not even the Granny Smith apples.

The Ingredients

The Ingredients

 

It is a mixture of apple, snickers, vanilla pudding and cool whip that is rich and tasty. I start by placing the candy bars – all three – in the fridge to get a little stiff for cutting down.

Chopping the candy bar.

Chopping the candy bar.

I like to cut the candy bar length-wise into three strips. then I slice width-wise as big or as small as I like. Towards the end of the third bar, I begin slicing a little bigger than I started. After that, I peel and chunk up the apples. I used to dice the apples. Now I make bigger slices but it all goes  together well no matter what.

Chopped Apples and Candy Bar

Chopped Apples and Candy Bar

 

In my big bowl I mix the large instant pudding package with 1 1/2 cups of milk. I mix it all up until the powder is completely incorporated. Normally this is the time when I add one half of a 16 oz container of cool whip. But for the purposes of the picture, I put in all of the ingredients in one bowl so one could see how it might look.

Before the Big Stir

Before the Big Stir

The hard part starts here as one has to stir all of the ingredients together. The cool whip does not always want to cooperate and the snickers wants to stay together. But with a few gentle stirs and maybe a hard one or two, the salad begins to cooperate. The apples ensure mixing and the cool whip encourages creaminess.

That’s it! you are done. Cover your dish, bring it to the summer party and watch as people ‘oh’ and ‘ah’ over the simplest dessert ever.

Where's the Spoon?

Where’s the Spoon?

 

And the best part? You may never bring home leftovers after the party when you bring this dessert.

 

 

 

Very Berry Salad

Last week when I talked about losing enough weight to go down a shirt size, I receive much congratulations.

Very Berry Salad

I appreciate hearing that because on a day-to-day basis I do not see it. I do not see it until something fits differently, and I mean in a good way.

But one of the comments struck a nerve as a person stated how hard it is to lose weight when you are a foodie.

You don’t have to tell that one to me twice, I understand completely.

This time of year, once the tomatoes come in, it is BLTs every night of the week.   Bring on the butter for Corn-on-the-Cob. And did I mention it is fair season? That means fried food galore.

It does not help that I and my husband like trying new recipes. I find them in the newspaper, on the web, around the blog circuit, cook books; well, you get the picture. We like to cook.

My favorite recipes are cream sauces with white wine, tomatoes and/or mushrooms. Braised chicken is better once it soaks in Marsala or Imperial sauce.

Then there is dessert. My son and I learned how to make lava cakes together. My daughter made a fabulous tart last year. The seven-year-old allowed me to buy Italian ice for his dessert last week. We have done dirt cups and jello desserts topped with whip cream and strawberries.

This has made my weight-loss slower than it should considering I am not taking any medicines and I am able to walk near daily with the dog.  It has taken me two years to lose 40 pounds. Other people seem to do it so quickly.

I have a neighbor who looks great after losing 50 pounds in six months. Another has worked to get 30 pounds off in the same time period. Meanwhile, I am struggling to get past the next five-pound threshold.

I admit to binge-ing  late at night so I am trying to get to bed at an earlier time. When my feet hurt thanks to arthritis or I am simply tired for no good reason, I do walk less.

However there are bright spots. Thanks to the latest heat wave, I am near my initial goal weight. I nearly fit into not one but two dresses. Clothing that fit the bigger body is starting to feel too big.

But the other half of the story is I am making lifestyle changes and not some crazy short-term diet. I am choosing to eat more fresh veggies and fruits. Whole grain breads are becoming a part of my life as well as my husband’s. Soda is a treat that I have once a week and I prefer getting it from a soda fountain as opposed to pre-bottled.

Is any of this going to stop my foodie explorations?

I hope not. This fall I want to work on making real ramen dishes. And I want to work on a  stroganoff which calls for sour cream. Oh, and there is the egg nog cake  and a Noel log I have always wanted to make for the holidays.

Yes, I am on a diet but that has not stopped my love affair with good tasting food. It simply means I eat a little less of it and adapt the recipe to have healthier ingredients whenever possible.

Now for the recipe. Two weeks ago I made this great salad that has fruit in with lettuce leaves. I have always been suspicious of such salads because I was never sure the sweet fruit would work with slightly bitter greens.

I found the recipe in an American Profile insert in my newspaper. It called for a Spring Mix salad bag but I went with a Red Heart bag when there was none of the former in the racks.

Salad Ingredients

Very Berry Salad

One Salad Bag

4 oz. sliced strawberries

4 oz. blackberries

1 handful each of dried cranberries, dried raspberries, and chopped walnuts

1 sliced Shallot (We did this on the side for the husband)

4 oz. goat cheese

Vinaigrette (on the side)

Because I could not find dried raspberries, I allowed the vinaigrette to be the raspberry element. The other dilemma was what to serve with the salad. The author suggested baby back ribs. We went with pork chops marinated in orange juice. My husband thought we should have had a french bread with this. We did not and it all worked just fine.

Our younger children liked the fruit but not the lettuce. The fifteen-year-old, who is becoming a foodie himself, thought the vinaigrette was too sweet but he had two helpings.

Pork Chop and Very Bery Salad

 

What new dishes are you making?

 

 

For years I would have told you that the last thing I wanted to wear was a black shirt – of any sort. I felt sorry for women whose wardrobe seemed to consist of only black shirts that she would wear with capri pants and everything else.

I thought dressing in black signified something dreadful – a person trying but never succeeding at being an artist.  A dilettante was something I never wanted to be and those artists dressed in black seemed devoid of a sense of humor and real talent.

But there is another factor. Look at me – I am about as white as you can get. I do not tan in the summer, just a little more red. And with my dark hair I tend to take on  an even paler look to the skin. In black I look near dead. While vampires are all the rage right now, I do not want to look like one. At All.

Eddie Bauer Black Tee

I cannot believe I am going to admit this in public but I might have been wrong.

Black may not be such a bad choice for me to wear.

What happened is that my Mom had picked up some clothes for me and one of the things was a black tee shirt. A short sleeve, scoop neck tee shirt.

First of all it is a size large. I have not worn a large for years. I have made inroads on that weight loss challenge and I am within 10 pounds of my initial weight loss goal. Which means I am starting to fit in clothes that I used to wear. And then this shirt turned up.

It looks great on me. The scoop neckline allows fun jewelry but keeps my face from being cut off. The short sleeves help as well.

The other great part is the versatility of the shirt.  I can wear with jeans or a skirt or belted with an office skirt. The look is simple and easy as well as easily elegant. As a mom who works in an office and must be ready to switch roles at a moment’s notice, this has become a great wardrobe staple.

Which is not to say I am getting rid of my other colored shirts or bottoms. Having those other colors helps me feel good on cloudy or grey days. And there is no way I am ever buying a black turtleneck. However, anytime I go to the Cell I now know I have an instant outfit with my short denim skirt that is the right thing to wear – no matter what.

 

 

Mom Said Yes!

Product Thursday

Normally, in the course of any shopping trip the question or request or outright demand comes out.

“Can we get this?’

I always say, maybe another day but not today. The kids have learned that this means no. So every now and then I have learned to give in say yes as long as it is something reasonable.

Our little grocery store in town has a lot of stuff and some great display stations packed into the tiny confines. One of those displays is Goldfish by Pepperidge Farms.

Remember when Pepperidge Farms commercials had that guy from New England talking about how great their breads and desserts were because they were made the old-fashioned way? “Because Pepp-ridge Faarms Re-mem-burrs.”

Pepperidge Farms Vanilla Cupcake Goldfish

When it comes to their kids snacks – those goldfish – Pepperidge Farms is willing to try something new. This time around the little bad said “Vanilla Cupcakes” and because we like cupcakes, my little guy said “Can we get these?”

I said yes and it was an effort not to have the bag torn into right there and then. We got home, had supper and then had some.

Man, they were tasty and addictive. Vanilla goodness, just the right amount of sweetness with the right amount of crunch. It took effort not to eat the entire bag. I also had to make sure we saved some for the other kids.

The day we finished off the bag, even our dog tried to get in the act. He was waiting for his moment to steal the bag or at least scarf anything that hit the floor or the couch.

This day, he was out of luck.

Every Thursday I review a product. If you have something you would like to share or a product you would like me to review, please send a note to bowmankaryn@sbcglobal.net.

Drinking a Glass of Wine

Product Thursday

When it comes to wine, I have a few hard and fast rules.

1. I do not drink anything that wants to fight with me or my food.

2. I do not drink anything that tastes like crap.

3. I do not drink anything that makes my rosecea light up like a stop light.

The last one made me draw a line in the sand and tell the husband I am no longer drinking red wine no matter how much he loves it. I have yet to find a red – merlot or pinot noir – that I enjoy drinking. I will do so occasionally with steak that is near perfection or has bleu cheese as a topper. But I want my wine and food matching to be nearly seemless, an enjoyable combination that does not make me regret my choice. I do not want to spend each swallow grimacing through the after taste.

Picture by Luis Rock 62

That is when I made the switch to white wines but not dry white wines. Chablis and chardonnay are not to my liking. Riesling and Muscato can be too sweet although they tend to pair up with cheese and crackers quite well. That leaves me with Pinot Grigio.

Luckily, I love this one. It is the right blend of fruity and dryness. Each brand can vary – some are more watery than others. But when you try something you like, you want to get more.

A few weeks ago the husband and I went to a dinner honoring people who were being inducted to our state’s outdoors hall of fame. We personally know two of the inductees and were happy to be there. There was a silent auction and a live action. We had a wonderful dinner and great conversation at our table.

The big surprise for me was a table that was set up with wine from a state winery. Pheasant Hollow Winery is located in Southern Illinois outside of the town of Whittington. It resides on the eastern shore of Rend Lake which is quite beautiful on its own.

When I tasted the Gun Creek White, I knew I had found the white I wanted to drink. It had a mellow taste that made my cheese cubes taste that much better. I noted hints of pear but according to the description there is also tones of apricot and pineapple. I even took the time to get the house pinot grigio to compare. Pheasant Hollow’s was soooo much better.

I drank this with my meal and was happy with the way the meal blended with the wine. There was never a sense that the drink was competing with the meal that had cheese and Italian herbs throughout.

Now if you want to buy some of this, you are going to have to do it the old-fashioned way and call the winery. The number can be found at the website. Their on-line store is still in the construction stage. Or you can go there in person. There are going to be a variety of events at the winery including mystery nights and a cajun festival in May.

Perhaps Pinot Grigio is not your favorite wine. Share below a brand and varietal that makes the top of your list.

Every Thursday I will review a product. If you have a suggestion or have a product you would like me to review, please send an e-mail to bowmankaryn@sbcglobal.net.