Category Archives: Cooking

Strawberry Picking

We made our 3rd annual trek to Blaser’s Acres to pick strawberries on June 19th this year.  Last year we got there at the end of the season and the selection was not good.  This year we timed it just right.  There were big, beautiful berries everywhere!  We picked a grand total of 26.5 pounds this year!  My goal was to make enough strawberry jam to last one year and I’m pretty sure I succeeded.  I filled 19 pint jars and 8 half pints.  Last year’s jam didn’t go very far and we were so sad when it was gone.  Now we have enough that we may even have to give some as gifts!

The kids helping us find "good ones"

26.5 lb. haul

Hubby hulling all the washed berries while studying

Jam! Lighter jars are made w/ pectin, dark is w/o.

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April Fool’s Dinner

At nearly the last minute, I decided it would be fun to make a silly dinner Thursday night in honor of April Fool’s Day.  My friend Shelly had shared the funny foods she made for her kids last year and it inspired me to play a fun food trick on my kids.  Even though it was getting late in the day, I decided to make some Jell-O for the “undrinkable” juice.  Very simple food prank… prepare Jell-O as directed on package, pour into glasses, add a straw and chill.  When you serve the “juice” later, no one can get anything up the straw!   A super easy and funny trick that ends w/ a yummy dessert.  My Jell-O hadn’t set quite long enough and I made the mistake of using large straws, so it didn’t work as well as planned.  I tested one out before giving them to the kids and thought that they wouldn’t be able to drink the Jell-O, but they proved me wrong!  They still thought it was funny and enjoyed their dessert after dinner.  Dinner itself was also a food prank and this one they fell for.  They really did think I was serving cupcakes for dinner when they saw this…

Turns out the cupcakes were actually mini meatloaves topped w/ mashed potatoes (some colored w/ red food coloring).  This one really got them laughing.  Emily picked up her “cupcake” and licked the frosting.  I asked her what it tasted like and she yelled, “Potatoes!!”  So cute.  The meatloaf cupcakes almost didn’t happen since I didn’t have the ingredients for my usual meatloaf recipe, but once again came to the rescue with an easy replacement that tasted just as good.  The kids really liked the meatloaf and thought mom was very silly for trying to trick them with food.  I think next year I’ll have to try making Shelly’s pizza cake.  This just might become an annual tradition!


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Cake Fun!

I’ve meant to post this forever and finally getting to it now.  Just wanted to share pictures of the themed birthday cakes I made last year for the kids.  For Emily’s birthday in August we went with a horse theme.  She is quite obsessed with horses at the moment.  Here’s how that turned out…

The boys requested an R2-D2 cake for their birthday, being Star Wars fans thanks to Daddy.  🙂  I wasn’t sure how well I’d pull this one off, but I think it turned out pretty decent.

Can’t wait to see what ideas the kids have for me this year.  And hopefully I’ll post the pics in a timely fashion!  😉


Filed under Cooking, Emmy, Joshua, Life, Sammy

Apple Strudel Muffins

Made these muffins today and they are SO good!  I got the recipe from, my favorite recipe source, but changed it a bit based on reviewer comments.  This recipe is definitely a keeper!  Enjoy!

Apple Strudel Muffins

2 c. all-purpose flour

1 t. baking powder

1/2 t. baking soda

1/2 t. salt

1 t. cinnamon

1/2 t. nutmeg

1/2 c. butter (1 stick)

1/2 c. white sugar

1/2 c. brown sugar

2 eggs

1 1/4 t. vanilla

1 c. chopped apples

1 c. grated apples


1/3 c. packed brown sugar

1 T. all-purpose flour

1/8 t. cinnamon

1 T. butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 12 cup muffin tin.

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugar and eggs until smooth.  Mix in vanilla.  Stir in apples, then gradually add in flour mixture.  Spoon the mixture into the muffin tin.

For topping, mix brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl.  Cut in the butter until mixture is like coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle over tops of batter in muffin pan.

Bake 20 min. in preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Allow muffins to cool 5 min. before removing from pan.  Cool on a wire rack.


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Oven Pancake Recipe

As requested, here is the recipe for the oven pancake from my last post.  I didn’t have any raisins on hand, so I just increased the apples to 1.5, and I also used margarine instead of butter.  I also skipped the powdered sugar and drizzled on some maple syrup when serving.  It was FABULOUS and I will be making this again.

Apple-Raisin Oven Pancake (from Gooseberry Patch Fall Favorites)

1 apple, cored, peeled and sliced

1/3 c. raisins

2 T. brown sugar, packed

1/2 t. cinnamon

4 eggs

2/3 c. milk

2/3 c. all-purpose flour

2 T. butter, melted

Garnish: powdered sugar

Toss together apple slices, raisins, brown sugar and cinnamon; spoon into a greased 9″ pie plate.  Bake at 350 degrees fro 10-15 min.  Remove from oven; set aside.  Whisk together eggs, milk, flour and butter; pour over apple mixture.  Increase oven temp to 450 degrees; bake until golden, about 15 min.  Pancake will puff up and will fall slightly when removed from oven.  Sprinkle w/ powdered sugar; slice into wedges and serve warm.

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A New Love of Cooking

I’ve fallen in love with cooking again.  I used to love trying new recipes and making fancy dinners for my husband, but now I’m falling in love with good old-fashioned baking, canning and cooking w/ fresh produce.

This summer we decided to experiment and grow some tomatoes and basil in pots on our deck.  I had no idea how things would turn out, but it’s been wonderful!  Last week I canned four pints of salsa using roma and beefmaster tomatoes.   After a few more tomatoes ripen I’m hoping to can some pizza sauce.  I’ve made three or four batches of pesto throughout the summer from just one basil plant.  Last night I made caprese salad with our cherry tomatoes, basil leaves and some fresh mozzarella.  Over the last few weeks I’ve loved picking tomatoes to add to various salads and dishes without having to pick any up at the store.  I can’t wait until next year, when I can apply what I learned this year and do it all again!  Next year I’m growing LOTS more basil so I can make and freeze pesto to last us through winter.  It has become a new family favorite!  I’m also going to try some different tomato varieties (we did roma, cherry, and beefmaster this year).  It’s made me wish I didn’t live in the woods so I could grow a proper garden.  I think I’ll have to come up with a new patio furniture arrangement on the deck next year so I have room for more pots!

Our first three ripe tomatoes, one of each!  My biggest Beefmaster at 1.25lbs!

Our first three ripe tomatoes, one of each! My biggest Beefmaster at 1.25lbs!



We also went apple picking for the first time this year.  We had no idea what we were doing.  We wandered around the orchard until I asked another couple if they knew much about apples.  The lady told me we were by the cortland apples and if I was looking for good baking apples, these were it!  So, the kids and my husband and I had fun picking 29 lbs. of apples.  Yesterday we spent a good part of the day cooking apples.  My hubby did all the peeling, we both chopped and I cooked.  We made apple butter in the slow cooker, canned 8 pints of applesauce (4 plain, 4 cinnamon), and made spiced slow-cooker applesauce which we had with dinner.  I also made an apple oven-pancake for breakfast (sinfully good!) and apple crisp for dessert.  I still have a lot of apples left and plan to do some baking with them throughout the week.  I printed some recipes for apple muffins and apple bread.  I might also make some apple cake.  There are so many things you can make with apples!  And most of it is freezable, which means we won’t overdose on apples by eating all this stuff at once.  🙂  I think apple picking will become a new tradition for us, just as strawberry picking has.

Apple Oven Pancake

Apple Oven Pancake

Cinnamon and plain applesauce

Cinnamon and plain applesauce

I’m dying to have a really big baking day.  I wish the boys were old enough to help, because baking with them in the kitchen can be a challenge.  I’ll have to bake a little here and there for now I think.  I have recipes swirling in my head for things I want to make.  I think it’s because fall is such a great time for baking.  I’m craving pumpkin bread, carrot muffins, and more of those apple goodies.  Hopefully I can take an afternoon or two this week to get some of these things baked and in the freezer to enjoy whenever the mood strikes!


Filed under Cooking, Life

Baking Day Results

I had a very productive baking day this week.  I made the strawberry bread, carrot muffins and two batches of mini banana muffins.  I didn’t get around to making the cookies though, so I’ll try to do those today.  I baked quite a bit extra this week as I’m going on a scrapbooking retreat this weekend and offered to bring some breakfast items, so I hope the other ladies enjoy it!

Carrot muffins (still cooling, before frosting), 48 mini banana muffins, two loaves strawberry bread

Carrot muffins (still cooling, before frosting), 48 mini banana muffins, two loaves strawberry bread

I’m taking 6 carrot muffins, one strawberry bread and one bag of mini muffins with me.  The other banana muffins are already in the freezer to be taken out when the other items are gone.  I still have some carrot muffins in the freezer from last week as well.  It’s really nice having these baked items on hand as an alternative to cereal.  Yesterday the kids were asking for muffins and all I had to do was grab a couple from the freezer and thaw them in the microwave!

I tried something new w/ my strawberry bread too.  The recipe calls for 1.25 cups oil, which is a lot.  It’s a very dense bread.  I’ve heard many times that you can often replace some or all of the oil in certain recipes w/ applesauce, so I decided to give it a try.  I used 1/2 cup applesauce and 3/4 cup oil.  It baked up in a completely different shape and color than it usually does, so I was a little nervous.  Of course I had to taste some last night to make sure it was okay.  It’s still very good.  It has a lighter, fluffier consistency and tastes nearly the same.  I don’t think I’d increase the amount of applesauce any more though.  I think that amount worked out just right.

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