Midsummer Magic

It’s the middle of summer, food is at its freshest, and the livin’ is easy, or at least it should be.

There’s nothing we love more at this time of year than the intense flavors and colors of fresh fruits, and there’s no easier way to enjoy them than to just throw them in whatever you’re making. Need some ideas? That’s why we’re here.

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Last week I put some fresh raspberries and cherries in my mojito – smashing them up just a bit in the bottom of the glass before adding the rest of the ingredients.

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Serve cubed watermelon with mint for a refreshing treat on a hot day. If you like that combo, you’ll love our watermelon mojitos!

And if your garden’s still overflowing with mint, make some aqua frescas.

Add fresh figs and blueberries to your mocktails (or cocktails!).

Throw watermelon and blueberries in your smoothies with a tea-based twist.

What about watermelon in your gazpacho?!

Any ripe berry would go well in these yogurt-based popsicles. These lemon pops are another refreshing option.

Yesterday Alex asked to bake a cake (nothing makes my heart melt faster than his request to do something in the kitchen!). He wanted a cake with “a blue middle and red paint on the frosting”. I let him add some food coloring to our batter, but then transformed his idea for red paint into a splattering of berries and their juices across the top. This is a basic yellow cake with our favorite coconut milk buttercream (scroll down).

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Summer, and particularly July, is such a special time of year for us, and nothing tastes more like summer than perfectly ripe fruit; it’s pure midsummer magic. If you can get your hands on some, especially if you have the chance to get out there and pick berries, do two things : 1. eat as much as you can while picking, and 2. do something creative and special with the leftovers. You won’t regret it! xo

 

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Sarah’s Favorite Quick and Easy Snacks

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Holy heck do I get hangry.  If the man and I are ever having an argument he usually pauses the fight to get me a snack. Seriously. It usually works too. Being hungry can hijack your brain and cause you to do and say crazy stuff. It’s all about survival though so before we blame our monkey brains, let’s just make a snack instead.  Here are my favorite quick and easy snacks.

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Cooking with Kids : Ginger Cookies

Cooking with Kids is an ongoing series where we share recipes that are easy enough to make with a two-year-old. If you’re new to the series, our first post that provides our detailed tips for cooking with little ones; subsequent posts are less detailed, but each contains recipe-specific ideas for working with your little ones in the kitchen.

Ahhh, I meant to share this post before Christmas so that you could add yet another cookie to your baking list, but time got away from me, so here we are with a delicious ginger cookie that tastes just as good on a cold day in January as it would during the hustle and bustle of Christmas.

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And I’m still smiling about how this came to be my favorite ginger cookie recipe. Calder’s sister made them a few years ago at Thanksgiving. That first batch was delicious and reminded me of the ginger chews that I used to buy in Trader Joe’s. I was so smitten that I asked for the recipe. She sent it along, and from her notes, I could see that it came from the grandma of a good friend. As I was baking these with Alex, I looked more closely at the bottle (more on that below) and realized that the recipe on the Grandma’s Molasses bottle matched the recipe I was making! Ingredient for ingredient and word for word. So, maybe you already know this recipe?

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Cooking with Kids : Lemon Bread

Lemon is our ingredient of the season! So far we’ve used it in a bucklein bars, in a savory pasta, and in the shower. Oh, and there are two on my counter waiting for our next project!

You don’t have to have a kid to make this Lemon Bread, but it’s more fun messy if you do! As you’ll see, the simplicity of this recipe is what makes it the perfect choice for cooking with an assistant, but it’s also what makes it an easy go-to treat. You can bake a loaf in no time at all for a last minute brunch, but it also stores well, so it’s the perfect tangy treat to make on a Monday and eat it all week long with your afternoon tea break (speaking from experience). Now on with the cuteness ~

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We’ve reached a new milestone in our house : weekly cooking sessions with Alex. It’s no surprise that Calder and I love to cook, and we’ve kept the kitchen open to Little A from the start. We recently turned a corner when it comes to sharing the kitchen with a little guy; at first we were just trying to keep him busy and safe, but now he’s actually helping with the cooking and he understands what’s going on!

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Blueberry Lemon Buckle

Lemons are our ingredient of the season. We’re exciting to fill our summer with all things lemony, and until then you can click through our archive of lemon posts, from body scrubs and shower cleaners to lemonade and vodka waters.

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This past weekend we pulled together a last minute brunch at our place, and one of the things we served was this blueberry lemon buckle. Now that we’re fully settled in the new house, we want to do a lot of entertaining, especially during the summer months when we can have everyone out on the deck and the kids playing in the kiddie pool. To make entertaining actually happen, and to keep it stress-free, it’s nice to have a few reliable recipes, like this buckle, that you can make ahead. Don’t know what a buckle is? Read on to find out!

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In my vocabulary, buckles are fruit-filled coffee cakes. You’ll commonly see buckles that call for blueberries as the fruit, but I was introduced to the buckle in Rustic Fruit Desserts, where my mind was blown by the variety of buckle options (rhubarb, apple, blueberry, and cranberry!). You really can have a buckle for each season. So far I’ve made the apple, cranberry, and blueberry varieties, but we recently discovered a rhubarb plant growing in our yard (no joke), so that will be next!

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Sweet and Spicy Mixed Nuts

Nuts are our ingredient of the season. We’ve been using them for sweetsdrinkssnack bars and savory condiments!

With summer approaching I began fantasizing about the hiking, camping, and other outside fun that we’re going to have. I also started thinking about snack ideas for those adventures, and having nuts on hand are a great, healthy option, but to keep things interesting, I like to swap out basic roasted nuts for this sweet and spicy option. A bag of roasted or spiced nuts holds up much better than our favorite fruit and nut snack bars, when stuffed into a pack, but those snack bars do make a great fast breakfast when you’re running out the door to get an early start on that hike!

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Creamy Cashew Fruit Dip

Nuts are our ingredient of the season. We’ve been using them for sweetsdrinkssnack bars and savory condiments!

Yesterday was the cake, and today we’re going to share a recipe for the cashew cream that we served at the party. If you’ve been paying attention, then you’ve noticed that we published a cashew crema recipe last week. Today’s cashew cream recipe is very similar, but rather than a savory condiment, this is a lightly sweet dip that’s perfect when paired with fruit.

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First an aside : two weeks ago while Sarah was visiting, there were many moments when our response to someone or our contribution to the conversation was exactly the same (wether we were responding with a grunt, a laugh, an “ooh”, or with actual words like “no way”). It was equally hilarious and spooky. And our cashew cream recipes are yet another example of us wanting to do the exact same thing at the same moment, let’s ignore the fact that it involved nuts and our mom would suggest that we’re both a bit nuts. 

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Nut & Fruit Bars

Nuts are our ingredient of the season. If you’re as excited as we are with this selection, you can get a head start with some of our past nut recipes, which we’ve added to the archive.

We end up eating a lot of snack bars in our house, most often packing them for hikes and days out, but also as a little treat at the moment when you realize that there’s too many hours between now and the next meal. I’ve never made a homemade snack or granola bar before, but have wanted to try for a long time because of the opportunity to personalize the ingredients. When I saw today’s recipe on Food52, I was excited to try it, partially because it’s simple enough, that it’s the perfect base for experimentation. Lo and behold, just six short months later I’ve finally put a batch together! We’ve been snacking on these all week, and I’ve quickly decided that this recipe is a keeper. Even little Alex, with his mouth full of teeth has no trouble eating these and always requests another.

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This couldn’t be a better first recipe for our nuts category, since it’s packed with walnuts, almonds, nut butters, coconut, and pumpkin & sunflower seeds (we’re being liberal with our nut category!).  Consider this nut & fruit selection below a suggestion and feel free to swap in your favorites and/or change the ratios to your liking. Of the few changes I made to the original recipe, I was most excited about my decision to add a touch of spice with the Baharat spice mix, which adds a bit of complexity and depth to the nutty flavors. I’ve included a link to our previous post with the Baharat blend if you want to try it, but using it is not necessary. You can completely leave out the spices or modify them to your liking ~ adding a pinch of whatever spice you like!

Nut & Fruit Bars

Nut & Fruit Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups quick oats
  • 3/4 cup roasted almonds
  • 1/3 cup walnuts
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Baharat spice mix
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Line a baking dish with parchment or wax paper.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the wet ingredients and stir until everything is well blended.
  3. Dump the mixture into a backing dish and press down to flatten.
  4. Freeze the mixture overnight, then cut into bars, and store in an airtight container with wax paper between layers in either in the freezer (my preference) or the fridge.
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The original recipe recommended keeping the finished bars in the fridge, but we first sampled them straight from the freezer (when I was cutting them), and we really liked how firm they were then as opposed to their softer texture after we moved them to the fridge; in the end we decided to keep them frozen. And really, that would be my one complaint with a recipe like this ~ that the bars have a tendency to crumble and fall apart if they get too warm. As a result, I’m still on the hunt for a homemade bar that’s just like this one except with a sturdier disposition for taking on hikes. If you have any recommendations, send them our way!

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Garlic + Parmesan Roasted Chickpeas

liveseasoned_winter14_chickpeas-5I’m a big fan of crispy, salty snacks, but I feel pretty bad about myself when I eat an entire bag of kettle cooked chips.  Maybe you don’t, which I applaud you for, and that case go open another bag while you read this recipe.  I think these garlic and parmesan roasted chickpeas are the perfect substitute for potato chips because they provide the crunch and the salt that I’m craving, but they also pack some protein.  They’re baked, not fried like chips, and really you could season them however you see fit.  I recently kicked my chips and dip habit (thank you, thank you very much) and I found I’m baking these up quite often to satisfy my salt tooth. Is that a thing? It is for me at least.

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