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. 🤣
There was a time in my life when I had so much extra food in my freezer that it looked to an outsider that I was preparing for a zombie apocalypse. 😳 My intention was not to hoard food but to make efficient use of my time. I thought that preparing ridiculously oversized meals and freezing leftovers was a good idea but this practice quickly got out of hand. As you might imagine, it didn't take long before I had freezers that were absolutely stuffed to capacity and accessing anything behind the first layer of Tupperware containers, required the skills of a professional tetris player. 🤣
I've gotten out of the habit of freezing meals on a regular basis but there's no denying that there are times when a frozen meal saves the day. In anticipation of my kitchen remodel, I've started to tuck a few things away for the days when I don't have a working kitchen sink or countertops or even a floor to stand on. 😬 Knowing that I have a lasagna and a chicken casserole on hand, that I can just heat and eat during remodel months is easing some of the anxiety about this construction project.
Before I start boxing things up in my own kitchen, I get to go to South Georgia and practice my packing skills in my son and daughter-in-law's kitchen. It's amazing how you don't realize just how many things are stored in a kitchen until you have to think about packing everything into boxes. 😅 I love to organize, I love puzzles and I love kitchen stuff so this whole kitchen packing day should be a breeze. #famouslastwords 😅
Once all of the dishes, pots, pans, bowls and utensils are carefully packed into boxes, food preparation is going to become much more difficult. Paper plates and plastic silverware is going to be my saving grace. AND the meals that I made in advance and put in my freezer. After all, a microwave can be operated in the garage and hands can be washed in the bathroom. 😂 🍽 These chicken parmesan meatballs are the start of my freezer full of "picnic construction meals". They're so crazy good though - Im not sure I'll be able to wait until the end of September to break into this deliciousness.
Chicken Parmesan Meatballs
5 Tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
15 ounce can tomato sauce
2 1/4 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
22 Ritz crackers
2 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon pepper
2 pounds ground chicken
2 cups mozzarella, shredded
1 cup panko
1/4 cup fresh basil
Sprinkle 1/2 c. Parmesan and basil over meatballs before serving.
I served these chicken parmesan meatballs with a side of crusty Italian bread and a salad. I wasn't taking a stand against pasta - just short on time for a weeknight dinner. 🤷🏻♀️ I suspect that these beef-free meatballs would be equally delicious alongside a bowl of tagliatelle or cavatelli. Enjoy friends.
Summer weekends are for relaxing, recharging and resting ... unless you're a caterer. Then weekends constitute of 5am alarms and hours and hours spent in the kitchen. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy spending a weekend preparing food but I definitely look forward to Mondays when I can catch my breath - and a cup of coffee. 😅☕️
This weekend was as busy as they come but I did manage to sneak away to grab some produce from the farmers market. I must have needed a break from all of the sugar and butter because I was craving garden ripe tomato, juicy watermelon, fresh peaches and corn on the cob. 😂🍅 #Ilovethefarmersmarket
I have to say that as a food blogger who resides in the state of Georgia, I feel somewhat obligated to post summer peach recipes. 🍑🤣 Peaches are honestly, one of the best things about summer in the south. We have to put up with gnats, termites, armadillos and absurd heat and humidity but we also get to enjoy some of the most delicious summer produce grown in the Peach State.
This Peach and Burrata Salad is amazing. Burrata is a creamier, and dare I say - more delicious - version of fresh mozzarella. Add a generous sprinkling of fresh basil, some good quality prosciutto,a drizzle of olive oil and the very best peaches you can find and voila - a perfect summer salad.
Peach and Burrata Salad
2 large ripe peaches
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
8 ounce ball burrata
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Sprinkle basil over platter and drizzle with oil.
Arrange prosciutto over platter.
This recipe has an identity crisis. It's labelled as a salad but I'm not convinced that it falls under the category of "salad." It is a side dish for any grilled meats or vegetable dish. And accompanied by a glass of white wine, it makes a perfect appetizer. I would even serve this as a summer dessert. So don't let the title fool you - this is so much more than a salad.
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