Archive | June, 2012

No Bake Blueberry Pie

29 Jun

Everyone in our house loves blueberries!

I love summertime fruit. It’s so fresh and sweet, it’s very affordable and there’s so many choices. One of our favorites is blueberries and besides being just overall delicious, they’re super good for you too. Good thing, because we eat tons and tons of them.

A few years back my mom passed along an easy no-bake blueberry pie recipe to me that she found in our local newspaper. Aunt Molly is no relation to us!

I’ve used the recipe several times and even posted it on Facebook a couple of years ago, so some of you may have seen it already.

It’s fast, it’s easy, there’s no need to turn on the oven, and it’s yummy. Serve it with whipped cream or ice cream if you’d like.

Enjoy!

This pie is easy, tasty and pretty!

AUNT MOLLY’S UNBAKED BLUEBERRY PIE

INGREDIENTS

1 quart blueberries, divided use

3/4 cup water

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

9-inch baked pie shell or prepared graham cracker crust

Whipped cream for topping, optional

Cooking on the stove, not in, makes this a cool recipe for a hot summer day.

DIRECTIONS

Put 1 cup of the blueberries in a saucepan. Mix water and flour together and add to the pan. Add sugar and salt. Start cooking on high until first bubbles appear, then lower to medium heat, stirring frequently until thickened and the berries are a deep color, 7-10 minutes. Some berries will pop. Remove from heat and let sit a few minutes.

Add remainder of uncooked berries to the pan using a spatula to scrape juices into mixture. Mix well and again let it sit a few minutes, then pour into pie shell. Gently level off. Allow to set and cool completely before slicing. It may take several hours for it to reach room temperature, or even overnight. Refrigerate after cutting.

Note: If using your own pie crust, bake it for 10-15 minutes until cooked and cool before filling.

Whipped cream makes a nice topping but so, too, does ice cream.

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Recital Chicken

27 Jun

Recital Chicken!

My girls are dancers. Since they were toddlers they’ve each taken dance class, and this year is their 10th, 8th, and 5th year of dance, each.

This means that each year we are treated to their summer dance recital, a culmination of all their hard work and dedication that year. It’s usually a busy day when we have the recital with a small crowd for dinner and we’re always hurrying to get them to the show on time, so I need a really quick meal.

Hence, my Recital Chicken.

This is the chicken recipe I make every single year for the recital lunch or dinner either before or after the recital, depending on what time of day they dance. Its original name was Hellman’s Parmesan Chicken, and it’s courtesy of my mom, of course!

Since I only make it for the recital and I make it every time, I’ve changed the name to Recital Chicken. It’s quick, easy, few ingredients and can be prepped the day before. It cooks fast and we can sit down and eat relatively quickly, whether we are eating before or after the recital. I serve this with Grandma Grello’s Marinated Green Beans on the side, which can be made ahead of time also.

INGREDIENTS

*I usually have to double this because I’m cooking for a large group.*

1/2 cup Hellman’s Mayo (can use light, I never do though.)
1/4 cup grated Parm Cheese
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I thaw out the chicken tenders that are boneless and skinless.)
4 tsp Italian Seasoned dry bread crumbs (I use plain.)

Recital Chicken can be prepped ahead of time so you don’t have to do anything but cook it when you’re ready.

DIRECTIONS
Combine mayo and cheese.

Spread on chicken, then sprinkle with bread crumbs.

Bake at 425 for 20 minutes. For that nice golden brown color, we do a quick broil at the end for a few minutes.

I serve with rice pilaf which coincidentally takes about 20 minutes so they cook at the same time.
Happy Recital!

My three dancers

What we’re doing for fun this summer: Summer Memories Timeline

25 Jun

If you’ve been a reader of my blog since last fall, you may remember my post about our Summer Vacation banner. It was not something I’d started on purpose and it turned out to be so much more than I expected. The kids loved it.

I had not thought of doing anything like it this summer, but then a few weeks ago I was reading a blog and clicked from that blog to another blog, and saw something that caught my eye: a summer memories clothesline-timeline.

Only problem is: I can’t find that blog I’d landed on, anywhere. I didn’t think I was going to do it, so I didn’t save it. I’ve searched the internet like crazy but can’t find it.

Anyway, after seeing this, it stuck in my head and as I drove around these past couple of weeks, it kept popping into my head. (When I drive from story to story, place to place, I drive in silence–I get a lot of thinking done this way.)

I decided to try a summer timeline for my kids, I thought they’d love it, but I didn’t want to use a clothesline because I didn’t think I could put it up very well in our house nor could I store it well afterwards. (I save everything.)

Instead, I chose to use banner paper ($1.99 roll of Doodle Paper from Christmas Tree Shops) and decorative packing tape ($2 at CVS) along with some little square pieces of paper for them to write their events on the timeline ($1 at CVS).

They saw me buy the Doodle Roll last week before school ended and right away they knew something was up. Alex asked me every day why I bought the Doodle Roll. They wanted to know when they’d be let in on my Top Secret project.

Finally, the last day of school came. With my work schedule I only had one hour in which to create my timeline but I’d planned it out pretty well so I knew what I wanted to do.

Here’s how it looked, I know you’re dying to see it, right?

Our timeline: a blank slate ready to be filled up with a record of our summer memories.

The only disappointment was that I wanted to print out a photo to put on the timeline of them from that morning on the last day, but my printer was broken, not working AT ALL so I couldn’t. However, the “blank slate” aspect of their timeline seemed very appealing to them; the fact that they had this entire space to fill up with things we were doing, places we were going, people we were seeing.

When they walked in on that last day of school, they gasped and ran up the stairs–it’s right at the top of the stairs– to see what the new project was. (We’re a very project-based family!) They were immediately so excited, and I was so thrilled.

Their biggest concern: what if the timeline isn’t big enough? Then what? My solution: we can easily add a section to it and remove the last square I put at the end as an example. They were pleased with that answer.

So we’re off and running with our timeline. Throughout the summer I’ll try to remember to post an update so you can see how it’s looking.

I have no idea how it will turn out, but isn’t that half the fun?

Muffins on the brain

22 Jun

All I could think about was having another muffin!

I did.

I had muffins on the brain.

Ever since I did the peach muffin post a couple of weeks ago, all I could think about was making more muffins.

The following weekend I wanted to make the peach muffins again, but I decided it was too soon for peach. But, it wasn’t too soon for blueberry! I just happened to have fresh blueberries in my fridge.

I’m sure I have a blueberry muffin recipe somewhere. Probably dozens of them. But, I was lazy. I googled a recipe for blueberry muffins and I was not disappointed!

I was directed to my favorite spot: Allrecipes.com for “To Die For Blueberry Muffins” and they were.

To.Die.For.

It was the streusel topping that did it, I know. I’m a sucker for a cinnamon sugar topping.

Here’s the recipe. Try it yourself this weekend and see what you think. I know you’ll have muffins on the brain when you do!

Super easy ingredients. I threw in the whole pint of blueberries.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.
  2. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.
  3. To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

What’s for dinner Wednesday: Maple Glazed Pork Chops

20 Jun

Pork chops with maple and brown sugar glaze. Who wouldn’t love that?

Did you ever hear it said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

I think I’m well on my way down that insanity path.

My family doesn’t love pork chops. I’d almost venture to say some of them are close to saying they hate pork chops.

However, I really like “the other white meat” and I’m determined to find a recipe for pork chops that they like.

So every so often, I try a new recipe. I wait for the results, everyone says they don’t like them, and we move on until I find the next one.

Nine times out of ten, I personally like the recipe.

A cookbook from Grandma Grello’s house. Lots of yummy looking recipes in here!

Today’s recipe is one of my attempts at tricking my family into liking pork chops. I got it out of a cookbook from Grandma Grello and I liked seeing her little notes and recipes stuck in amongst the pages as I went through it.

I figured that if they were smothered in maple syrup in brown sugar 1) I’d like them a lot and 2) they’d think they were pancakes. Or waffles. And like them.

I liked them a lot, they did not.

Shocker.

Back to the drawing board.

If you are someone who does enjoy pork chops and you also enjoy recipes of the “sweet” variety, you’ll be in luck with this one.

Try it out and see what you think.

I doubled the recipe for the glaze because I had a lot of pork chops, but I did not double the amount of brown sugar. That would have been too much.

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup all purpose flour

Salt and pepper to taste

4 bone in pork chops (I used eight)

2 tablespoons butter or margarine (I doubled this recipe)

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 tablespoon cornstarch

3 tablespoons water

2/3 cup packed brown sugar (no need to double)

I sprinkled very generously with brown sugar!

DIRECTIONS

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine flour, salt and pepper.

Add pork chops and shake to coat (I could not do more than 2 at a time or they wouldn’t get fully coated.)

In a skillet, brown the chops on both sides in butter.

Place in an ungreased 13x9x2″ baking dish.

Bake, uncovered, at 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until juices run clear.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, (I used the same skillet)  bring the vinegar to a boil.

Reduce heat; add maple syrup. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.

Combine cornstarch and water until smooth; add to the maple mixture.

Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

Place chops on a broiler pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar.

Broil 4″ from the heat for 2-3 minutes or until sugar is melted.

Drizzle with maple glaze.

See? Doesn’t that look good? I served ours over brown rice.

A few of his favorite things

18 Jun

Don’s a great dad to his three daughters!

Happy Father’s Day to the best husband and father in the world! I know…I’m biased. I also know everyone thinks their husband is the best husband in the world! (And good for all of us who do!)

Don is a great teammate in the parenthood game. He’s my partner in every sense of the word, doing more than his share of whatever we need him to do.

One of his favorite things to do though, is cook. He loves to take requests and to cook the things we love.

The kids love coming home on Friday nights (his night to cook while we’re at Dance) to find out what surprises Daddy has cooked up (literally) for us all.

Their top favorite meal is nachos, followed by a close second of pizza and calzones.

Every once in a while, Don will get a craving of his own, and we’ll get an extra special meal from him.

So, I thought today, in honor of Father’s Day , which was just yesterday, I’d do a little photo spread of some of Don’s Favorite Things that he’s cooked up for us this past year.

Happy Father’s Day Don, and thanks for all you do!

Don’s calzones are the best around!

Nachos….a Friday night favorite!

Chicken parm, pasta and salad, thanks to Don’s craving one weekend!

Another Friday night dinner, and a special craving he had: Fish and Chips (homemade on both accounts) and a tomato/cucumber/olive salad. MMMMMMM….

My personal favorite Dinner By Don: Chicken Marsala!

And one of his own top favorite Don Meals: his chili

An empty fridge is a good sign, but there’s still work to be done!

14 Jun

Just a few days to go and the fridge is looking nice and empty. No notices, reminders, menus….nothing until the end of August! Woohhoooo!

This is my empty fridge.

Three empty magnets.

It’s my equivalent of a “Gone Fishin’ ” notice.

No lunch menus, no field trip reminders, no field day notices, no project outlines, no calendar of who has music, art or PE on which day.

Nothing. Nada. Empty.

And so it will remain empty until the end of August when school begins again.

Whew…..

Big sigh of relief.

We made it through another school year. Down to just a Few.More.Days!

Then, nothing, just like on the fridge. Well not exactly nothing….

As a former educator, I am a proponent of doing school work over the summer. We read, we write, we do math and yet we still have tons of fun.

Here’s a list of Three Ways to Prevent Summer Slide (which is the regression that kids experience when they don’t keep up with what they’ve learned during the school year, through the summer months.) It’s from Scholastic, so the focus is reading, but we do it all. You can see the full article here.

See what you can add into your summer fun to keep your kids’ brains active as well as their bodies.

THREE WAYS TO PREVENT SUMMER SLIDE

1) Six books to summer success: Research shows that reading just six books during the summer may keep a struggling reader from regressing.

2) Read something every day: Encourage your child to take advantage of every opportunity to read. Find them throughout the day.

3) Keep reading aloud: Reading aloud benefits all children and teens, especially those who struggle.

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