Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lemon Poppy Seed Loafs!

I LOVE to cook.  Especially when I have people to cook for...  It's therapeutic.  It's fun.  And when you are finished, you have something delicious for your tummy!  My family says I cook well.  That's so gratifying.  I love the joy that food brings to the people that I love.  

Pinterest makes it so easy for me to find recipes.  The picture does the talking and draws me in!  Once I click on the picture, in most cases I can find the blog that showcases the recipe.  So it's so simple!  I decided that while I was pinning recipes, I was going to make sure that I actually tried some recipes, and often.   Today, I made Ina Garten's Lemon Blueberry/Poppy Seed Loafs!  

Oh. My. Goodness!

While I watch Ina all the time and I love her food, I did not make these until I saw the loaves on Pinterest.  Again, a picture is worth a 1000 words!  I got the recipe from Fresh From The Oven.

I had to make both blueberry and poppy seeds for my loaves.  My husband works in an industry where he cannot eat poppy seeds due to random drug testing, so we have to be careful.  

I'm including the recipe here because I will certainly be making these again.  Please give it a try.  

Lemon Yogurt Cake
adapted from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa At Home

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 containers of 5.3oz organic Greek yogurt
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
2 tablespoons of poppy seed
1/4 cup of frozen blueberries (more if you are making a big loaf cake)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan or the mini loaf pans.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Add in your preferred add on ingredients (poppy seed or blueberries) and bake for about 50 minutes, (if you are using the big loaf pan) about 25-30 minutes (if you are using smaller pans),or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/4 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

My little man...

I call him that, but it's no longer accurate.  He's all grown up.  It's amazing at the gauntlet of emotions you feel when you see your child in uniform.  What comes to mind are "proud", "concern" and the feelings of "protection".  My son has been serving for 4 years, 4 months and 6 days.  In that time, he served a year on the border of North and South Korea, two years in England with a 6 month stint in Iraq.  He's now in New Mexico waiting for his exit date, which is fast approaching.  Praise God! 

When he was in Iraq, he told me that he was not allowed off of the base.  I don't know why, but I accepted this easily and gratefully.  But after he finished his 6 months and he was back in England safely, he told me "Mom, I just told you that so you would not worry.  We patrolled the streets of Baghdad all the time."  

He will be going to college once he is out.  He's determined to become a History teacher in High School.  He's now 25 1/2 and he's starting when most young adults start at 18 or 19.   He gave up his youth to serve his country.  He's matured so much and I couldn't love someone any more than I love him, his sisters and my hubby.   This post is a tribute to him.  

Monday, July 11, 2011

"I'm Bringing Manners Back..."

..."because we've lost our politeness, and that's a fact..."  Okay, so I'm no Justin Timberlake!   But you get my point.

I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Between Naps on the Porch and she blogged about what to do when your guest arrives early to an event at your house.  You can read about it here.  She provided some pointers from Emily Post.  It's a great read!

And it got me to thinking....  At time, we can be a rude society.  Now, I'm not trying to be negative here.  I do not think it is intentional.  I think we have quit teaching and practicing how to be polite.  Therefore, consider this my civic duty and it's my very own PSA.  

We.  Have.  Become.  Rude.

Here's what I mean.  I'm a southern girl.  I'm used to saying "Yes ma'am" and "No sir" when I speak to people.  Even people that are younger than I am.  That's just the way I was raised.  And I know that not everyone was raised that way, so I get that.  It's not even about that.  It's about asking someone if you can help them in the kitchen after they've cooked you a meal.  It's about making a bed when you sleep in some one's house.  It's about saying "Thank you!" when someone does ANYTHING for you.

On the 4th of July I was hosting a get together with the extended family at my house.  I was making the Pioneer Woman's Spicy Dr. Pepper pork.... (side-note:  YUMMY!).  I had also made Paula Deen's Not Yo Mama's Banana Pudding... (side-note:  BEYOND YUMMY!).  So, I had been cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, etc.  In my haste, I rolled my left ankle.  This was less than three weeks after I had heel surgery on my right foot.  Needless to say, I'm out for the count.  My family was wonderfully caring and offered not to come, but I had made all this food, so I said "Come on anyway...."  I had taken a pain pill that I had left over from surgery, and I was out for the count anyway.  (side-note:  it's been three days, I'm still swollen and just today was able to move around.  That's for another blog post...)

My oldest daughter took over for me and finished my Southern Living Baked Beans (side-note:  you know you are going to love me for putting all of these recipes in this blog!) and basically put on the party.  Thank you J-Bo!  I slept.  I ached.  I whined.  All that good stuff.  I missed the party.

Remember when I said that today was the first time I was able to get around?  Okay, so I moved around and surveyed the damage around the house.  I'm a little OCD, therefore a dirty house makes me unhappy (side-note:  ask my family...).  Unfortunately, my house has that "lived in" look, so in my mind, it's always dirty.  While surveying, I noticed a napkin that had been waded up and left on my dining room table.  Inside it were strawberry hulls and the hard almond bark that I had coated them in (side-note:  It was an idea I got from Pinterest!).   It was all waded up in a napkin and left on my table.  Almond bark is sweet.  It can attract ants.  Someone picked it off and left it on my table.  That's just gross.  

I also had someone sleep in my guest bed and they didn't make it when they left.  Wha?  I just wouldn't do that!  Never...  Ever....  

How about the bearded lawyer in the Casey Anthony trial?  He flipped "the bird" to the media after the verdict was read....  He's an OLD MAN!  He should know better.

That's what I mean about rude.  When you are in some one's house, treat it with respect.  Treat the people that live there with respect.  Please don't take this wrong, I love everyone in my family, so this isn't a bashing of my family.  It's me pointing out that we should be politer.  Is that a word?    

 We need to bring back the "Golden Rule".   In the event you are unaware of the Golden Rule, it goes something like this:  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  In other words, treat people like you would want to be treated.    

Friday, July 8, 2011

Hanging with my Peeps...

One positive about me losing my job is that I have been able to reconnect with old friends and I have been able to make new friends.  I was so dedicated to my career for 11 years that my relationships suffered for it.  I MEANT well, and I TRIED hard.  But in the end, I thought that by working hard and jumping when my boss said "jump" I would secure my future and I sacrificed my time with my friends.

Not any more.  Even if I found another job, I would not lose myself.  I've learned that friendships are so important to our physical and mental well being.  The laughter, the caring...  it's all so important.  So on that note, I'm hanging with my peeps tomorrow!  We are going to the scrapbooking convention in Duluth.  It's basically booths set up selling the newest items in the industry.  It's a great way to get ideas and the latest product!  I'm really looking forward to it.  

Afterwards, we will be eating dinner together and then going to a hotel, where we will do some projects together, brainstorm and laugh.  Kinda like a sleepover.  I cannot wait!

Because I'm going with three friends that I treasure, I thought I'd make a little "sumpin, sumpin...." for each of them.  My go-to homemade gift is a bookmark.  I used the Tim Holtz tag die-cut.  I made sure that each tag had my friend's first initial of their name.  I used the same papers so they all look similar.  I think they turned out beautiful, just like my girlfriends.  Let me know what you think....