Making Hearts for Grandma and Grandpa

The new year has me in constant conflict with myself. At least my organization self versus my reduce-reuse-recycle self. I was off to a great start with some long overdue organizing goals, which resulted in cleaning out our closets, storage room, office, kitchen drawers and cabinets, etc., and donating or tossing a lot of the excess items we’ve accumulated over the years.

I also found myself collecting items that should have immediately gone in the recycling bin (think: empty yogurt containers and jam jars).  I had high expectations of spending the cold winter months doing art projects with my toddler son, so I took the garbage and placed it in my newly organized cabinets instead of the recycling bin.  Fortunately, my parents were planning a trip to visit us the weekend before Valentine’s Day and this was the perfect excuse to break out the art supplies and surprise them with a Valentine made by their toddler grandson.

We got to work by gathering our supplies:

  • Non-toxic tempera paint
  • Card stock in Alister’s choice of pink, purple, and red
  • Empty toilet paper rolls*
  • Yogurt container lids*

*I am giving myself bonus points for this project since we found new uses for two garbage-worthy items.

To make the heart-shaped stamp, you take an empty toilet paper roll and flatten it into a rectangle. Then, gently release the roll and flip one of the folded sides so it is now slightly pointing inward. Boom, you have yourself a heart stamp. Make any necessary adjustments you wish until it looks like a heart.

After that, take any colors you wish to use and pour a small amount into whichever paint tray you choose. We use old yogurt container lids and they work like a charm. This is also a great opportunity to let your child mix different colors. In keeping with the Valentine theme, we used three lids – one for red, one for white, and one for Alister to explore and make his very own pink.

Red + white = pink!

Now it’s time to paint! Take your heart stamp and place it into the paint to lightly coat the heart-shaped end. Now, stamp it all over your paper until it runs low and return it to the tray to re-coat or try another color. You can also flip it to the other end for another color if you want to keep them separate.

Heart stamping fun

This craft is perfect for small children. It is easy to execute. The mess is contained. And there is a small educational element as they mix two colors of paint to make a new color.

Heart stamping fun

Hope you have as much fun as we did! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Heart stamped Valentine

 

Mystery Materials Craft Challenge – Challenge Accepted! AGAIN!

As you know, I recently participated in a Valentine-themed craft challenge, where we were given mystery materials and a theme and challenged to create something with them.  I used the opportunity to transform an old cookie sheet into a serving tray.  But since I spent the morning of the party pulling that craft together, I knew there was a chance I would show up empty-handed if I didn’t have the time.

As a reminder, the theme was Valentine’s Day and the required materials included mini cupcake liners, pink twine, craft tags, and (gasp!) cotton balls.

Required supplies

So I thought about it and decided that I could use all of the required materials, my new heart-shaped paper punch, and some paint samples to create a heart banner.

Heart punches

Once again, my little assistant, Alister, helped me punch out the hearts and then I was in business.  I glued them back-to-back and placed cotton from the cotton balls between each pair of hearts.  Then, I cut the craft tag into strips and pulled apart the pink twine to decorate the little hearts.

Heart banner

Finally, I strung it up on the mantle and our living room instantly had a sweet taste of Valentine’s Day.

Heart banner

Happy Valentine’s Day!  <3

Mystery Materials Craft Challenge – Challenge Accepted!

After a very long vacation from blogging, I’m baaackkk.  And I have my great friend, Kelli, to thank for the inspiration.  She hosted a party with a craft challenge theme, appropriately titled the “Mystery Materials Craft Challenge.”  You can read more about it here, but you basically take the cooking competition, Chopped, and replace the mystery ingredients and top chefs with mystery craft materials and good friends.

A few weeks before the party, where we would ultimately unveil our crafts, Kelli delivered the requisite mystery materials along with the craft theme to each of us.  The supplies included cupcake liners, pink twine, craft tags, and (the trickiest of them all) cotton balls.  Ohhh, those pesky cotton balls.  The theme was Valentine’s Day, which was perfectly appropriate since the party was planned to take place one week before Valentine’s Day.  Assuming I could pull something together in time for the party, I was excited to have a festive decoration for the season when all was said and done.
Required supplies

Now what could I do with these supplies?  Not that I tried to find an inspiration online or anything.  But if I did, all a hypothetical of course, I can tell you that there is not a single craft out there (that is not a toddler craft) that incorporates all of these supplies.  I’m talking to you, cotton balls.

Well, in the absence of any obvious Valentine-y ideas, I thought back to an idea I wanted to do for some time now.  Upcycling an old cookie sheet!  This definitely seemed like something I could tackle, especially when the bulk of the work would took place the morning of the party.

First, I dug out the old cookie sheet I hadn’t used in ages.  The only thing keeping me from tossing it is the possibility that I would one day upcycle it.  Here was my chance!  I quickly scrubbed off any remaining particles that remained and wiped it off with a couple of Clorox wipes to remove any lingering grease before painting it.

Old burnt cookie sheet

Next, I gathered the other supplies I needed to transform the brown burnt stains into something a bit more pink and flowery.  The only thing I added to my craft supplies for this challenge with the heart-shaped paper punch.  I had a bunch of scrapbook paper on hand as well as the Mod Podge and Clear Gloss from previous projects.  I was excited to try out the chalkboard paint a neighbor had given me a couple of years ago that I had yet to open.  Let’s get started!

Extra supplies

After Alister helped me punch out the hearts of the scrapbook paper and I cleaned the cookie sheet, I painted two coats of chalkboard paint on each side of the cookie sheet.  It only took about 30 minutes to dry between coats, so I took care of this step during nap time.

Chalkboard paint

Using the heart-shaped cutouts, I applied them to the painted top side with Mod Podge.  I cut the cupcake liners into hearts and applied them on top.  Next, what to do with the twine, craft tag, and cotton balls?  I had grand plans to spell something out with the twine, like LOVE and shape one of the cotton balls into a heart for the “O,” but I was pulling this together the morning of the party and did not have that kind of time.

Instead, I took a few twigs, tied them together with the pink twine and attached the craft tag.  At the top of the twigs, in lieu of flowers, I applied the same heart-shaped cutouts with cotton ball pieces in between layers to create a layered effect.  Ta da!  Here’s a glimpse at the finished product.  Just a light spray of gloss on top to seal everything and I was ready for the party.

Decoupage side

Chalkboard side

That evening, we had a great time, catching up, enjoying Kelli’s delicious spread of sweet and savory goodies and Bourbon Furnaces, and sharing our crafty take on the required materials.  It was so much fun to see how everyone used the supplies.  Here’s a look at the entries displayed on the table.  But if you want to see each individual entry, you can check them out over here on Kelli’s blog.

MMCC entries

Thanks again to the lovely host for putting together such a fun event.  Here’s a look at my entry in action…  bribing serving up treats to the judges!  Cheers!

Ready to serve!

A Farewell to Summer – Peach Blackberry Pie

If you read the title of this post, it’s pretty clear that I’m a few weeks late in sharing a season-appropriate recipe.  But it was so delicious, it was worth ignoring the pumpkin and apple inspired desserts of Fall.

At the end of August, we spent a week at Lake Erie with my family, and just as we were embarking on a seven hour drive home, we stopped by a roadside fruit stand to pick up the fresh produce available at the end of summer.  Due to the lake climate, it was perfect for growing peaches.  The blackberries looked and smelled amazing as well.  So there we were, a little car packed full of suitcases, babygear, our family, and now a box of peaches and several containers of blackberries.  The sweet aroma of the peaches soon took over the car and we were eager to get to work on them.  If it wasn’t for the seven hour drive ahead of us and the cramped legroom I had sitting in the backseat next to Alister, I would have been in heaven.  It is a wonder how we made it all the way home with all of the peaches and blackberries remaining.

About a week after we had been home, we had made a huge dent in the peaches.  But I knew it was time I added them to a baked good.  After all, anytime I want to buy a large amount of produce, I sell the idea to Justin by promising that I will use them in some form of a baked good.  And that is just what I did.

I found this amazing recipe and was instantly intrigued by the use of coriander in a fruit pie.  Not to mention, she goes to the trouble of providing detailed, step-by-step instructions with photos, so I was ready to take it on.  Besides, I had all of the ingredients on hand and a couple of hours to kill.  Aside from a few modifications, namely substituting in blackberries for the blueberries, using a smaller amount of sugar since our peaches were already so sweet, making a lattice-style crust, and covering the crust halfway through the baking process, I kept to the recipe.

Here is my slightly modified version of the linked recipe, but to give credit where it is due, most of it is directly from the linked recipe.  I will keep it a little brief, but if you want more detail, I strongly suggest clicking on the original recipe above.

Peach Blackberry Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie

Crust:

2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes

5 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons ice cold water

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Filling:

About 3 pounds ripe peaches (I used about 6 peaches)

1 cup fresh blackberries

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon ground coriander

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 egg, beaten, for egg wash

2 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, for topping crust before baking

Instructions:

Make the Crust

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt.

2. Add cold, cubed butter and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture.  The mixture will crumble into different shapes and sizes.  That is okay.  Just work it down until the butter is evenly distributed.

3. Stir together the ice cold water and vinegar.

4. Create a well in the butter and flour mixture and pour in the water and vinegar mixture.

5. Use a fork to bring the dough together and try to moisten all of the flour bits.

6. On a lightly floured work surface, dump out the dough mixture and divide it into two.  Gently knead into two disks and then wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Dough

Make the Filling

1. Wash peaches and blackberries.  Slice each peach into about 10-12 slices.

2. In a medium bowl, combine peach slices and blackberries.

Peaches and blackberries

3. In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, spices, flour, and cornstarch.

4. Pour the sugar mixture over the fruit, and gently toss together with a wooden spoon.  Stir in the lemon juice.

Pie filling

5. Place bowl of fruit in the fridge to rest while you roll the crust out.

Make the Pie

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place a rack in the center of the oven, and place a baking sheet on the lower rack, just below where you’re going to place the pie to catch any pie drippings.

2. Remove one of the pie dough disks from the fridge.  On a lightly floured surface, roll dough out into about a 13-inch round.  Roll the dough a few strokes, then use your fingers to move the emerging circle around the floured surface.  This ensures that the dough isn’t sticking to the work surface.  When you roll the dough and you can see it start springing back, that means that the butter is warming and the crust shouldn’t be rolled out anymore.  Gently lift the 13-inch round from the floured surface and center in the 9-inch baking dish.  Place in the fridge while you roll out the top crust.

3. Roll out the top crust just as you did the bottom crust, moving the dough across the floured surface every once in a while, and creating a roughly 13-inch circle.  The circle does not need to be perfect as you are going to cut it into strips.  Cut the circle into roughly 1-inch wide strips .

4. Remove the bottom crust and fruit filling from the fridge.  Gently pour the fruit filling into the pie dish.

5. Assemble the lattice top crust by placing strips in one direction about 1/2 inch apart.  Then fold up every other strip in half and place a long strip perpendicular across the middle.  Unfold the strips and begin weaving the other strips until the pie is full.  There are much better instructions for making a lattice crust, but I think I captured the highlights.

6. With your fingers press the top and bottom crusts together and fold under.  Use a fork or your fingers to crimp the edges of the dough.  If you are using the leftover dough scraps to make a design with cut-outs (as shown in the photo), you will want to place them on top of the crust before moving on.

Lattice crust and cut-outs

7. Brush lightly with beaten egg and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture.

Sugar and spice and everything nice

8.  Place pie in the oven and bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes.  Reduce the oven heat to 375 and bake for 45 to 55 more minutes.  When 25 minutes are left on the timer, place a crust cover over the crust to prevent burning.

Cover the crust

9.  Remove from the oven when crust is browned and golden, and the juices are bubbling.  Allow to cool for 2 hours before serving.

Peach Blackberry Pie

Or let your patience get the best of you and serve with all of the juicy goodness oozing out as shown here.

Peach Blackberry Pie

If there is any leftover, place covered in the fridge to store.  We stored the leftovers in the fridge and warmed them up at 350 for about 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!  Even if you need to wait until next summer to do so!

A BaByQ – A Barbecue-style Couples Baby Shower

This past weekend, we had the honor of celebrating one of my very best friends, Kelli, as she and her husband await the arrival of their baby girl.  Kelli is one of the most artistic and creative people I know, so you can imagine how intimidating it was when we offered to host a baby shower for her.  Lucky for us, she and her husband had recently attended a couples shower and they really liked that idea.  So rather than a cutesy, girly theme, my partners in crime – Kim and Andreia – and I opted for the more relaxed, gender-neutral, less conventional approach by hosting a barbecue.  Or in this case a BaByQ!

I love how you can take a simple theme, add a few little touches to pull it all together, and suddenly you have yourself a special affair rather than your ordinary party.  A barbecue turned BabyQ was the perfect opportunity to spruce up your typical barbecue.

For starters, the menu was a breeze.  We considered going the burgers route, but weather could be an obstacle and we had no interest in spending the entire event over a grill.  Instead, inspired by Kelli’s roots, we went with a focus on pulled meat and traditional southern barbecue sides.  Add a splash of gingham and twine, and you have yourself a party!

Here is a look at some of my favorite details from the party:

Apron BaByQ Invitations

Did I mention that Kelli is some kind of paper craft genius?  Taking on a paper craft without her mastermind behind it was a bit risky, but since this was her shower, I decided to let her sit this one out :)

BaByQ Invitation

Inspired by a couple of apron cards I saw online, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the invitations.   After spending a couple of Alister’s nap times designing, cutting, and pasting, I was very happy with the result.  I could have taken an extra step and added a ribbon around the “waist” but I wanted to keep it simple for fear of overdoing it.  I did not have any luck finding instructions online, so I plan to post apron card instructions at a later date.

Gingham Tablecloths

To say I handcrafted my tablecloths would be a stretch.  It was more like buying fabric, trying to cut in a straight line along the gingham pattern, and ironing the edges inward to create a fake hem.  I may get around to actually sewing a hem at a later date, but for the purposes of the party, the ironed hems did the trick and added the little bit of gingham splash on each of the tables.

Dessert Table

Here is a look at the dessert table.  You can see the splash of gingham on the table along with my impromptu centerpiece.  Since our flowers are well past their prime and my mums have completely faded, I decided to embrace the food theme of the shower by displaying red apples, tomatoes, and potatoes in vases.  Not my proudest moment, but it added a little dimension to the table.

Mini Carrot Cake Cupcakes

I made mini carrot cake cupcakes (when making mini cupcakes, bake for 12 minutes) while Kim stayed in line with our southern barbecue theme and made a multi-berry cobbler and a cherry cobbler.  Both were delicious!

Caramel Apple Favors

When planning the favors for an October shower, we were not planning for 90-degrees.  We dismissed the lingering summer heat and moved forward with Kim’s suggestion of caramel apples.  Thanks to the genius of Paula Deen, who we turned to for more than one recipe when planning the menu, we were able to pull caramel apples together with a few simple ingredients.  Add some paper, a bag, and decorative ribbon, and we had ourselves a favor.  A very sticky favor.  If I did this again, I would have placed a small piece of wax paper or parchment paper between the apple and decorative paper.  After taste testing it myself, I can honestly say that if the guests had the patience to pull off the little pieces of paper from the caramel, they uncovered a very tasty treat!

Caramel Apples

Drinks

Again, we kept it simple and true to barbecue form by serving up a selection of water, lemonade, iced tea, beer, Arnold Palmers, and John Dalys.  And to add a bit of gingham to the drink station, I wrapped gingham and plaid washi tape around the red straws and cut a flag pattern out of each.

Drinks

Food

How many crockpots can you fit on a table?  We were destined to find out this past weekend.  One contained pulled pork, another had pulled chipotle chicken, the other had homemade macaroni and cheese, and the last one had southern baked beans.  Both beans and macaroni and cheese were Paula Deen recipes.  Say what you will about the woman, but when it comes to southern recipes, she knows what she’s talking about.

Food

Other sides included chips and onion dip, chips and guacamole, a corn dish, roasted red potatoes, sweet potato fries, and two types of homemade bread.

Forks and spoons

Here’s another way to spruce up the presentation of plastic spoons, forks, and knives.  Wrap them in a paper napkin and tie a ribbon around it.  Andreia ordered personalized ribbon for the apples with the phrase, “Sugar and spice and everything nice” and we had plenty left after we finished the apples.  I was handed the remaining ribbon and instructed to use it when decorating.  I couldn’t think of a better place to use it than the servingware, particularly since the phrase includes “sugar and spice.”

Banner

Keeping with the – you guessed it – gingham theme, I pulled together a banner to place above the fireplace, where I anticipated they would open presents.

Kelli and Adam

Here is a shot while Kelli and Adam opened presents.  We are so excited for these two!

And with that, I am out of details to share about the party.  Which means, time to share some of my favorite photos of the event!

Kelli entertains Alister while opening presents as he hands her an impromptu gift, which may be a chip or a piece of trash.  Can't be sure.

Kelli humors Alister while opening presents as he hands her a chip as an impromptu gift.  He made sure each guest received the same gift at some point throughout the evening.

Kelli grabs a photo with her happy hosts.

Kelli grabs a photo with her happy hosts.

Hosting can be exhausting.  After he said good-bye to the last of the guests, Alister was ready to call it a night.

Hosting can be exhausting. After he said good-bye to the last of the guests, Alister was ready to call it a night.

A Berry Tasty Summer Treat – Berry-Lemonade Cupcakes

It has been a week since our blueberry and blackberry adventure and we continue to work our way through the stash in the fridge.  I had hoped to bake with the berries at some point, other than the impromptu muffins I made for the new neighbors, but I haven’t had a good enough excuse to use my time baking rather than tackling one of the more pressing home projects.  Until this past Sunday.

We had plans to attend a friend’s dinner party and I wanted to contribute something that took advantage of our (still) fresh blueberries and blackberries.  I glanced through recipes online long enough to realize it was just overcomplicating the process.  Instead, I remembered seeing a delicious recipe that my friend, Kelli, had posted awhile back.  While I had not personally tried them, they looked like the perfect summer treat by combining both blueberries and blackberries with lemon!  Besides, we were pressed for time and I had just about all of the ingredients on hand, so I could get moving on the recipe while Justin ran out to pick up a lemon and cream cheese for the frosting.

You can find the recipe on her post or shown below:

BERRY-LEMONADE CUPCAKES

Lemonade-Berry Cupcakes

INGREDIENTS:

Cupcakes

  • 1 stick softened butter (1/2 cup)
  • 2  cups sugar
  • 4 extra-large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons grated lemon zest (1 large lemon should yield enough for the cupcakes as well as the frosting)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup milk (whole) or buttermilk (make buttermilk by adding 1 teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice to one cup of milk)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam – (any berry jam or preserves will do.  Recipe calls for raspberry jam, but I used blackberry preserves as that was what I had on hand.)
  • 1 cup blackberries (extra for topping)
  • 2/3 cup blueberries (extra for topping)

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 2 packages softened cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 – 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (this is another thing I loved about the recipe.  It did not require 4-5 cups of powdered sugar!)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Fresh lemon zest to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth.
  3. Add one egg at a time and then your lemon zest.
  4. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
  5. In another bowl, mix 3/4 cup lemon juice, the milk or buttermilk, and vanilla.
  6. Add the flour and buttermilk mixture alternating each addition, beginning and ending with the flour. Once your batter is made, gently fold in your raspberry jam (or preserves), blackberries and blueberries.  Scoop into your cupcake liners, 2/3 of the way full.  Bake for 20-22 minutes.  Let cupcakes cool before icing.
  7. While cupcakes are baking, cream the butter and cream cheese.  Slowly add the powdered sugar until your desired consistency is reached.  Then add the vanilla and lemon zest.

As mentioned, we were in a bit of a rush to make it on time to the dinner party, so I turned to my trusty Ziplock bag frosting trick to finish these bad boys and get on the road.  As we watched the timer count down, my hands were shaking as I poured the frosting into the bag.  Then, when the cupcakes came out of the oven, I nearly scolded my fingers as I placed the piping hot cupcakes onto a plate in the fridge to help the cooling process.  I felt like it was a scene straight out of Cupcake Wars.  All the rushing around was worth it – we made it to the dinner with about 10 minutes to spare and the cupcakes were a hit!  A perfect treat to round out a delicious summer meal.

Here are a couple of photos that I took with my phone as I balanced the cupcakes on my lap en route to the party.

Lemonade-Berry Cupcakes

The recipe yields approximately 24 cupcakes (I ended up with 30 regular sized cupcakes).  As you can see below, I took a dozen cupcakes to the dinner party, which was more than enough, and I had over a dozen left at home.  What does this mean? Justin’s coworkers get to start the week off right come Monday morning.  Who says this can’t double as a well-balanced breakfast?  After all, the recipe includes eggs, milk, flour, berries, cream cheese – it’s practically every breakfast item combined into one!

Lemonade-Berry Cupcakes

We loved this recipe and plan to add it to our growing list of summer treats we will make again in the future.  If you are looking for something to make with blueberries or blackberries that is a little less conventional than your standard cobbler or pie, give this a whirl.  You will not be disappointed.

Blueberries for Al – blueberry picking & blueberry muffins

Blueberries for Sal

Blueberries for Sal.  What a great summertime read.  We received the book from one of my dear friends, Suzanne, before Alister was born.  Beautifully illustrated, it tells the story of a mother taking her child to pick blueberries at the same time and place that a mother bear takes her cub.  After a slight mix-up between mother and child, it has a happy ending with Sal and mother back in the kitchen canning blueberries.  We love the book, and there is no better time to read it than during blueberry season in the summer.

Having already given us the book, Suzanne surprised us again a couple of months after Alister was born.  She stopped by to drop off fresh blueberries right out of the patch.  They were the best blueberries I had ever tasted and I was determined to figure out the secret.  Turns out, it wasn’t much of a secret at all – she hand-picked them from a pick-your-own orchard in the area.

Well a year later, we found ourselves introducing Alister to the deliciousness of blueberries and it was love at first bite.  He cannot get enough of them, and so they have become a key ingredient in every meal he eats.  We’re thrilled that his treat of choice is an antioxidant and fiber-rich treat, but we also knew that blueberry season would soon come to an end.   But did it have to?  If we stocked up while they were in season, then we could find a way to surprise our little buddy and sneak his favorite food back into his life throughout the Fall and Winter.

Remembering the delicious blueberries Suzanne gave us, we were inspired to do the same.  We decided to try the same orchard/berry farm that Suzanne visited – Butler’s Orchard – even though we debated going back to the same place we picked apples and pumpkins last Fall.    And what better weekend than this past weekend?  The temperature dropped about 30 degrees from the previous week.  And to make the deal a little sweeter, it was the final weekend for blueberry picking at Butler’s Orchard,  but it was the first weekend for blackberry picking!

Here is a look at our blueberry picking adventure.  Get ready to start SALivating!

Blueberries!

A lovely day for picking berries.  Mid-seventies, a few clouds, and very little humidity, unlike the swamp we are accustomed to around the DC area.

Blueberries as far as the eye could see.

The blueberries were ripe and delicious for picking.  To think we were concerned there wouldn’t be any left!  I assure you our containers were overflowing.

Blueberries

See any similarities?  Even the same disheveled hairstyle.  Alister had just as much fun squishing the blueberries as he had devouring them.

Blueberries for Al

Blueberries for Al

Blueberries for Sal

Blueberries for Sal

After we realized Alister was having a little too much fun squishing the blueberries we picked, we gave him his own container and filled it with about a dozen berries instead of the hundred he was trying to smash.  This seemed to entertain him for awhile.  Well, at least for a few minutes while the dozen berries made their way from the container to his belly.  Just as Sal did in the book, Alister took a few berries, dropped them into his container, and then ate them.  Ku-plink, ku-plank, ku-plunk.

Blueberries for Al

When we were done with the blueberries, we made our way over to the blackberries that were just beginning to ripen.  You can see it was still early in the season, but I managed to fill a couple of containers with plump blackberries.

Blackberries

After we finished picking blackberries, we headed home and started making grand plans for our fresh picked fruit.  Pies, crisps, ice cream, smoothies.  We thought of it all.  However, over the past few days, we have enjoyed eating them in their natural form.  No added sugar necessary.  Here is Alister taking advantage of the summer’s bounty, once again.

Blueberries for Al

And once again.  Nom nom nom.

Blueberries for Al

Despite my good intentions to enjoy them in their purest form, it just so happened that our new next door neighbors moved in that day.  What a perfect excuse to use some blueberries in a baked good (and then give it away so I do not devour it myself).  After a quick google for the best blueberry muffins, I came across the following recipe that resulted in light, fluffy, almost cupcake-like blueberry muffins.   If you are looking for a blueberry muffin that is a little on the sweeter side (for my taste) and received rave reviews online, here you go:

BLUEBERRY MUFFINS – recipe found here and listed below.

Blueberry Muffins

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup butter or 1/2 cup margarine, at room temp
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries or 2 1/2 cups frozen blueberries

For Topping

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, mixed with
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oven to 375°.
  2. Grease 18 regular-size muffin cups (or 12 large size muffins).
  3. In bowl, mix butter until creamy.  Add sugar and beat until pale and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each.
  5. Beat in vanilla, baking powder and salt.
  6. With spoon, fold in half of flour then half of milk into batter; repeat.
  7. Fold in blueberries.
  8. Spoon into muffin cups and sprinkle topping onto each muffin.
  9. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown and springy to touch.
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baking, Boston, and the pursuit of happiness

The Honest Toddler

Juice. Crackers. TV.

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