The blueberry bush in my backyard is circa 2007. It's not planted in the best location, I don't remember to water it very enough and let's just say - pruning it is not my forte.😂 But despite my shortcomings as a blueberry farmer - it survives. It does more than survive really - it thrives - in spite of me.
It makes me so happy to watch as the hundreds of tiny berries that hang from its branches turn from green to a deep blue as the summer progresses. Every summer I look forward to snacking on fresh berries while I'm outside watering the garden or passing by the bush on the way to the neighbors house.
A handful of berries at a time is about all that I ever got at one time. I was totally okay with that. I assumed that the birds and the deer around my house were enjoying the sweet berries just as much as I was. 🦉🦌I realize that I could have covered the bush but I never bothered because I felt like the animals needed a snack too.
Fast forward to 2021 and I am picking BUCKETS of blueberries from my 14 year old blueberry bush. 💁🏻♀️ What changed? This is the first summer that we haven't had a mischievous Weimeriner. I am absolutely convinced that it wasn't the birds or the deer after all. Mia was eating all of the precious berries off of my bush. 🤣 Our crazy dog was sneaking around the backyard, stealing berries without me ever knowing. 🐶😅
Since I find myself with an abundance of fresh blueberries this summer - I'm making all the fun blueberry recipes. My latest creation is a blueberry vanilla mini muffin. I normally opt for giant, oversized, bakery style muffins but for some reason, I was feeling like a more dainty and bite sized muffin today. Calories don't count when muffins are tiny, right? These muffins are amazing and if you don't have yogurt on hand, you can substitute sour cream.
Blueberry Vanilla Mini Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups Greek yogurt, plain
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup blueberries
2 tablespoons sparkling sugar
Bake 10-12 minutes at 350.
These muffins are delicious but I've got so many blueberries - I need you to share your favorite ways to enjoy blueberries. I want to see your cobbler recipes, your shortcakes, your famous pies and grandma's blueberry cheesecake recipe. You can send them in a comment or shoot me an email. firstname.lastname@example.org TIA
My goal when I travel is to experience a new place using ALL of my senses. I want to see and smell and touch and hear and of course, taste - every new destination. 🙈🙉 🙊So on our very first trip to the Florida Keys last weekend - we sampled ALL of the local favorites. Key lime pie, conch fritters and conch chowder, fresh local seafood, lobster rolls and plenty of cuban delicacies. 🥧
A weeks worth of great food - consumed in 2 1/2 days. 🤣 We pretty much ate our way though the Historic District of Key West and I'm not unhappy about that. 😅That lobster roll was our favorite but all of the food was incredible. Great food paired with great cocktails while watching the sunset in Mallory square is a pretty great way to spend a weekend. 🌅
After a weekend of overindulging - it's back to making healthy meals. A giant scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream probably shouldn't be my mid day snack anymore either. 😂🍨 I'm doubling up on the veggies and getting back to my workout routine this week.
This Grilled Broccoli with Pistachios and Citrus Vinaigrette was the perfect way to ease myself back into healthy eating. 🤣 It contains all of the nutrients that my body has been craving AND it's beautifully vibrant and delicious. Oh, and in case you were wondering - I didn't cook this on the grill. In short, the heat in Georgia is off the charts this month so I opted for a modified indoor skillet version. Whether you grill it, roast it in the oven or brown it in a skillet - this broccoli is worth a try.
Grilled Broccoli with Pistachios and Citrus Vinaigrette
3/4 cup salted pistachios, finely chopped
6 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 Tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 pound broccoli, cut into 1 1/2" spears
1/2 cup fresh mint, sliced thin
Add broccoli to a bowl with vinaigrette while still warm.
Transfer to a platter. Drizzle with any dressing remaining in bowl. Sprinkle with mint and serve.
I love a great broccoli recipe and this one is great but seriously, can anyone tell me how long it will be before my lobster roll cravings subside? 🦞😅
Remodeling!! It's hard to believe I've been married for 28 years and been the owner of 4 different homes but this kitchen is the very first remodel project that we've ever tackled. 👷🏻♀️Needless to say, I'm learning a lot as a remodeling newbie. One of the biggest lessons that I'm learning is that this process has seasons. Seasons of busyness when seemingly endless critical decisions have to be made in rapid succession. And then there are seasons of waiting. Waiting for cabinets to be made, waiting for materials to be delivered and waiting for schedules to sync. 😬
A test of patience - that's the best way to describe this kitchen remodel project. 😅 We started this in January and we are hoping to wrap things up by Halloween. 😬 It's good for me though. Goodness knows, I could use a little more patience in my life.
Oatmeal Cream Pies
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup butter (at room temperature)
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon unsulfured molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
8 ounces cream cheese
6 Tablespoons powdered sugar
Bake 14 minutes at 350. Let cool on pans completely.
Top with a second cookie and serve.
I'm still wrapping my brain around the fact that it's still July and kids in Georgia are going to be starting school in just over a week. 😳 And the start of a new school year means getting back into habit of packing lunches. Go ahead and tuck one of these oatmeal cream pies into your child's lunch box and make them the envy of all their friends.
I don't want to downplay the significance of my role as a parent BUT... I have to say that my lemon tree is one of my greatest accomplishments. 😂2021 was a good year for the 13 year old tree. It produced giant Meyer lemons in abundance. 🍋 I think my favorite 4 year old said it best when he saw the oversized yellow lemons hanging from the branches and announced to everyone - "She's growin lemonade!!!"
Unfortunately, despite my diligent care and watering schedule, my lemon tree isn't always so prolific. By this time in the year, my potted tree should be covered in tiny, lime colored fruit. Safe to say, 2022 will not be a good year for lemons because even though I had lots of blossoms earlier this Spring, for some unexplained reason, they've all fallen off and now I'm left with zero fruit. 😥
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” You know the saying. It's not intended to be taken literally but - you know me. 🤣 This year, life gave me lemons and I made lemon bars, lemon cake, lemon scones, grilled lemon chicken and lemon fettuccini. It was so much fun to walk to the porch, pick a lemon from my tree and use it to turn the sour fruit into something sweet and delicious. 😋
If you're a fan of citrus in your food - I recommend that you go to the recipe index and type the word "lemon" into the search bar in the upper right corner and browse through all of my lemon recipes. And just in case you wondering - my newest (and favorite) lemon recipe are these Lemon Cookie Squares. If you're a fan of traditional lemon squares you really need to meet their even more delicious and more portable cousin - the lemon cookie square. You can thank me later.
Lemon Cookie Bars
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
6 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup oil
2 ounces cream cheese
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
5 teaspoons lemon zest
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
Spread evenly over bars.
Decorate with sprinkles. Let set 1 hour.
Cut into 24 pieces.
I recommend these lightly frosted, slightly tart, sweet treats for any summer gathering. I don't want to throw shade at traditional lemon squares but these are definitely easier to make and easier to transport and eat. Trust me on this one - these cookie squares are amazing.
I really want to be a proficient gardener with a bountiful summer garden bursting with an abundance of fresh vegetables and summer fruit. 👩🏻🌾 The kind of girl who wears overalls and straw hats and fill baskets with fresh produce that I've grown myself. 💁🏻♀️ Year after year, I'd spend hours trying to create a garden oasis in my backyard but the truth is - I'm just not cut out for summer gardening. 😟
It's not for lack of enthusiasm or effort that my garden seems to fail every summer. At the first sign of warm weather I head to my favorite garden center, eagerly pick out plants, carefully tuck them into my garden and faithfully watered them every single day. It all seems to progress swimmingly for a while and then... my poor plants meet a terrible fate.
I guess I should take it as a compliment that the animals and critters find my plants so irresistible that they take up residence in my garden. 🐛 The problem is, once the insects move in, it's really hard to evict them. 😂 And bugs are just one of the problems. Oppressive Georgia temperatures that wreak havoc on my young plants, summer vacations that force me to take a hiatus from my care-taking duties and a host of other obstacles have made it nearly impossible for my garden to thrive.
This year I conceded the fight and planted giant sunflowers in the garden instead of vegetables. 🌻 The theory was that they would be easier to grow and less tempting to animals than vegetables. I put the seeds in the ground in March, waited for them to sprout and then watched them grow into beautiful, little, sturdy, 18 inch plants in about 6 weeks - then we went on vacation for a week. 😬 Did you know that you're supposed to stake those things up? 🤣 So long sunflowers. 😭
With yet another garden fail under my belt, I decided to give up on the summer garden and try my luck at Fall gardening. I pulled out all of the sunflowers that were beyond saving and planted pumpkin seeds. 🎃 I'm happy to report that so far the pumpkin plants are thriving. I even have couple of blossoms. I don't have the best track record so - I'll keep you posted on the pumpkin progress.
Since I don't have a summer garden of my own right now, I'm relying on friends and the farmers market for all of my summer produce needs. I've got to say that I've gotten some amazing beans, watermelon, tomatoes and corn from the market this year. I've got to say that fresh corn on the cob has to be my favorite summer vegetable. 🌽I have a tendency to get overly excited and buy way too much when I find fresh sweet corn. Leftover corn on the cob is never a bad thing but when I end up with a surplus, it's always nice to have a new way to use it up. Sweet Corn Muffins are the perfect way to highlight fresh corn. I also have a bunch of these tucked away in my freezer for chili nights this Fall.
Sweet Corn Muffins
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream
8 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups fresh corn kernels
Bake 20-24 minutes at 400. Let cool 5 minutes before removing from pan.
My hats off to all of the farmers and home gardeners who have successful summer gardens. Send me all of your tips and tricks - goodness knows I need them. 🤣
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