Fruit Pizza

Well, geez.  All these strawberries and grapes look a bit out of season now, don't they?

Every once in a while I think, man, I should have a blog.

Then I remember that I do have one.

Here's the truth: it's a stressful time right now.

We're facing a move and an uncertain employment future.

I have a limited number of evenings, after the children have gone to bed, when I don't have to make a grocery list, send semi-important e-mails, or deal with the kids waking up.

Lately I've been spending them on cross-stitching, binge-watching Friends, and the occasional foreign romance.

Eases the stress.

But I AM still cooking, and I DO still want to share it.

So here is a fruit pizza!  Easy and yummy, just a few weeks behind.

Fruit Pizza

Easy peasy!

Your favorite pizza dough (I like this one)
8 oz cream cheese
powdered sugar to taste (I was doing a breakfast pizza, so I used about 1/2 cup.  A dessert pizza would call for more)
Fruits of choice

Bake your crust!  Mix your sugar and cheese and spread!  Slice and top with fruit! 

Carrot Cupcakes with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

Hola!  I am still here.


It's been a busy, crazy fall.  Also, do you ever make a big plan to sit down and do something you're supposed to do, and then...

...just cross-stitch and binge-watch Friends instead?

CROSS-STITCHING!  It's coming back.  I can feel it.

I'm doing a street scene of a French flower shop(pe).

Between cross-stitching, I've also been making carrot cupcakes on an industrial scale.

Commissioned by the community-service committee in my church, I produced 150 cupcakes for an anniversary celebration.

It didn't take as long as I thought it would!

It's a bee theme, because service.  Keeps us busy.  Like bees.  You know?


Mmmm carrot cupcakes!

Carrot Cupcakes with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

makes 24 - 36 (it's a big recipe!)

6 cups grated carrots
enough amaretto or apple juice to cover carrots
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup raisins
4 eggs
 1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

The night before, place raisins in bowl and cover with amaretto or apple-juice.  Allow to sit overnight.

The day of preparation, in a medium bowl, combine grated carrots and brown sugar.  Set aside for 60 minutes, then stir in raisins.

Preheat oven to 350.  Line 2 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners.

In a large bowl, beat eggs until light.  Gradually beat in the white sugar, oil and vanilla.  Stir in the pineapple.  Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, and stir into the wet mixture until absorbed.  Finally stir in the carrot mixture and the walnuts, if using.  Pour evenly into cupcake pans, filling about 2/3 full.

Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until cupcakes test done with a toothpick.  Cool for ten minutes before removing from pans.

Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup cream cheese
3 - 4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon milk
pinch salt

Beat butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar together until well-combined, about 3 minutes.  Add vanilla, honey, milk and salt and beat until incorporated, about 1 more minute.

Caprese Grilled Cheese


It will.

End of summer, still cleaning the last of the basil and the sugar-sweet tomatoes out of my garden (and my neighbor's [she said I could!  I swear!]).

Gardens are kind of sad in September.  Everything's a little dry, a little cold.  The growth has stopped.

I have been replacing harvested vegetables with flowers.  Zinnias, sunflowers, marigolds, and lately chrysanthemums.

Cheers me up.

It's not so bad.  Halloween comin', cooler weather.  Hoodies and cardigans and woolly caps.

Yeah, I guess that will be all right.

Caprese Grilled Cheese
These flavors are the kind you never get tired of.  Add some sourdough bread, you've got yourself a stew sandwich.

Makes 2 sandwiches

4 slices sourdough bread
1/4 cup butter (or so, for buttering bread)
2 oz mozzarella cheese. sliced (or to taste)
10 fresh basil leaves
15 cherry tomatoes (or other fresh tomato varieties)
balsamic vinegar, to taste

Heat a small pan over medium-high heat.  Butter one side each of two slices of bread.  Place one slice of bread in the pan.  Top with 5 basil leaves, 1 oz sliced cheese, and 15 or so cherry tomatoes.  It's okay if some of the tomatoes spill out, they can grill in the pan.  Cover the pan and cook for 2 minutes.  Turn heat down to medium.  Flip, cover, and cook another minute or so.  Remove from pan to cutting board, drizzle hot sandwich with small amount of balsamic vinegar (a little goes a long way here).  Slice in half and serve.  Repeat with second sandwich.

Peach Lavender Jam and etc.

The canning madness really hit me hard this year.

I'm not sure why.  Maybe because my mom gifted me this awesome book last Christmas.

Maybe because we'll be moving soon and I wanted to get the last and best out of Oregon's summer produce.

Maybe because we don't know where we'll be moving to and I'd rather stress about canning than the potentially life-altering catastrophes ahead.

Just kidding, it'll be totally fine.  Everything is fine!  Everything will be fine.


Man, I wish I was canning something RIGHT NOW.

*Ahem*  So anyway.  Here's what I did!

Whole grain mustard and Mediterranean tomatoes.

In the back are my amaretto peaches.  Why did they all float up to the top like that???

A close-up on the star anise at the bottom of my pear butter.

Pickled garlic, peach salsa.

More tomatoes and raspberry vanilla bean jam.  I like how you can see the little oregano leaves in the tomatoes.

Pickles, wild Oregon grape jam, and my personal favorite and least photogenic, peach lavender jam.

The peach lavender is truly phenomenal jam.

Peach Lavender Jam
adapted from Southern Living's Little Jars, Big Flavors

Makes 7 (1/2) pint jars

2 1/2 lbs fresh peaches
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 (1 3/4 oz) package powdered pectin
2 tablespoons lavender buds
5 cups sugar

Bring large pot to a boil, sterilize jars therein for 10 minutes.  Put rings and lids in heatproof bowl, ladle boiling water on top.

While jars are boiling, peel peaches, remove pits and coarsely chop.  Mash with a potato masher until evenly crushed.  Measure 4 cups crushed peaches into a 6-qt pot.  Stir in lemon juice, pectin and lavender.  Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring often.  Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add sugar and return to a rolling boil.  Boil 1 minute again, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, let foam settle (about 1 minute).  Skim off and discard any foam.

Fill, seal, and process jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Be sure to clean off jar rims before putting on lids.

Remove jars from water and allow to stand at room temperature 24 hours.  To check seals, remove the bands and press down on the center of each lid.  If the lid doesn't move, the jar is sealed.  If the lid depresses and pops up again, the jar is not sealed and contents will need to be refrigerated right away.  Store properly sealed jars in a cool, dark place up to 1 year.  Refrigerate after opening.

Chocolate Dipped Waffles

Phew, sorry about that.  All that canning.

ALL THAT CANNING.  I canned it all.

There will be a post shortly featuring my library of canned goods.

For now however I give you chocolate waffles.

I love waffles.  They are so versatile.  Savory(ish) with chicken, waffle sandwiches, just plain old waffles with butter and syrup.

Can't go wrong!

In France waffles have a unique spin - they aren't breakfast or dinner, but a snack.

Des gaufres, often dipped in chocolate and/or sprinkled with crispy pearl sugar are widely available.

You can buy them pre-wrapped in the supermarche, about the same quality as your average Ho Ho (okay, maybe a little better).

You can get them in a patisserie with lovingly caramelized sugar baked in.

It's something I've been wanting to re-create for a long time.  But for a few years, try as I might, I just couldn't get waffles right.

They always came out...floppy.

Floppy waffles may occur naturally with aging, but I wasn't ready to give in to them just yet.

Anyway, long story short, the mighty Google has finally led me to this pearl (sugar) of a recipe.

The chocolate shell was my own creation.

The smiles on my kids' faces?  I'm taking credit for that as well.

Chocolate Dipped Waffles

The recipe that saved me here was the Waffle of Insane Greatness.  Where did it originate?  Who created it?  I don't know!  You can find it on all the big food sites *now*, but I salute the chef who created it.  And named it.  That name is a winner.

3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk or buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate shell:
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons coconut oil

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Mix together.  Add the milk, vegetable oil, egg, sugar and vanilla and mix well.  Let the batter sit for 30 minutes.

Cook on waffle iron according to manufacturer's instructions.  Couldn't be easier!

For chocolate coating, heat chocolate chips and coconut oil together in a double boiler.  When melted and completely combined, remove from heat.  Dip waffle quarters quickly, let dry on wax paper.  Mangez.

Canning Hiatus - Where does it end?

Canning canning canning canning canning canning canning canning canning.

I am canning everything!

Don't come to my house.  I WILL CAN YOU.

Sorry I've been gone so long - I am preserving everything that doesn't crawl away first.  It's becoming compulsive.

Here's what I've done - raspberry vanilla jam.  Amaretto cling peaches.  Habanero peach salsa (somebody gave me a 20 lb box of peaches...this is part of the problem).  Peach lavender jam.  Cinnamon pickles.

Here's what I'm going to do - pickled garlic.  Heirloom tomatoes.  Peach butter (using up all the peaches, there will be enough left over for a pie on the weekend).  And then maybe a break?

Pics to come.  Apologies in order.  It's all COMING.

Space Aliens Birthday Cake (Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache)

Argh, summer!  So busy.

It's been swimming lessons time for the kids, and they make it intense.  An hour a day, 4 days a week for two weeks!

It's always fine once we're there, but getting the swim bag packed every day and two kids plus self to the pool is just...consuming.

Once I got everything there except my own swimsuit.  Oops.

The up-side is, once you're in for swim lessons they let you stay all day.  

Nothing wrong with that!

Another great thing about summer is, my son's birthday is inside of it.

A July birthday!  The lucky guy.  

Me, I'm a January girl.  Ugh, miserable.  Usually I like to pretend January doesn't even exist.

He wanted a space-aliens party this year and I MAY have overdone it, with the papier-mache solar system and the internet-ordered aliens party plates.

But the cake was the most fun of all.

He won't hear of any cake flavor other than chocolate, so it's chocolate.  With chocolate frosting and chocolate ganache inside (I'm all about the ganache lately).

Little man is four.  I can hardly believe it.  The time, it flies.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache Filling

2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup hot chocolate (unsweetened, if you can get it)

Preheat oven to 350, grease and flour a 9x13 cake pan.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, soda and salt.  You don't need a stand mixer, just a great big spoon.  Add eggs, milk, oil, vanilla and hot cocoa.

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

For frosting, make this recipe (use milk instead of champagne, or use champagne...also add 1/2 c of cocoa powder)!

For ganache, make this recipe!  

Spread it all around and enjoy.