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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Banana Cream Pie!

Vanilla is our ingredient of the season. So far we’ve made some vanilla-infused vodka (great for milkshakes!), a double vanilla cake, and a savory roasted chicken with vanilla bean.

Oh my goodness. We can’t stop with the banana cream pies! If you’re following our Instagram feed, you have all the proof you need (not one, but two pies in one week!)… and no joke, there are perfect bananas on the counter and plans for another pie (fortunately we have guests ready to dig in – we’re not that crazy).

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Double Vanilla Cake

Vanilla is our ingredient of the season. We’re looking forward to a few months of both sweet and savory dishes using vanilla.

Right after Sarah and I picked vanilla as the ingredient of the season, this recipe for a double vanilla butter cake was published on A Cup of Jo, and I knew we had to try it! This cake is so delicious served plain, but we also enjoyed ours for breakfast with a side of berries and as an afternoon snack with a cup of coffee. Calder said that it reminded him of cakes he was served in Germany… and while I don’t have a specific example in mind, as soon as he said that, I couldn’t agree more, and was immediately transported back to my time there, having a snack on a train or stopping in to a little cafe for breakfast.

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The original recipe called for both vanilla extract and vanilla paste, thus the double in its name. I didn’t have paste, and at first I wanted to make some, but after looking up a few different recipe and seeing that each one used different techniques, I felt unprepared to waste my precious beans on something I wasn’t sure about. Maybe I’ll do a bit more research and discuss vanilla bean paste in another post. Instead, I took the author’s advice and substituted vanilla extract for the paste, but then I used vanilla sugar (details at the end of the post) to dust the pan, keeping with the call for two types of vanilla.

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Black Sesame Cupcakes with Matcha Frosting

Tea is our ingredient of the season this winter. We’re using that as an excuse to sit down more often and relax over a cuppa’. If you like combining matcha with your desserts, check out this milkshake!

Lately I’ve come across so many dessert recipes that combine the flavors of black sesame and green tea, and I’ve been so intrigued. As you may know, I’m already a fan of having my matcha green tea as a dessert rather than as a hot tea, so extending that passion to cakes seemed like a no-brainer. And since we liked the chocolate chip cookies with tahini so much, I was excited to experiment with another sesame-flavored baked good. It only took me a week and an embarrassing number of hours to hem and haw over recipes before deciding on these black sesame cupcakes with matcha green tea frosting.

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In this post Molly Yeh provides a roundup of beautiful black sesame/green tea combinations (the subject of that post happens to be a green tea cake with black sesame frosting – the opposite of what we have going on here today!)… and if that weren’t enough, both of today’s recipes come from Molly’s site. What can we say, we’re fans.

Extending our search farther into the interwebs, the black sesame-matcha combination is nothing new.  From what I’ve learned it originates in Japanese cooking, where you’ll find many desserts that use flavors not extremely common to American treats, think beans, seeds like this sesame, and sweet potatoes.

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Chocolate Cake with Buttercream and Rose Petals

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Hey Valentines!  We’re republishing an old favorite today: Chocolate Cake with Buttercream Icing and Rose Petals.  The Schu family loves this simple chocolate cake recipe. Spend a year of birthdays with us and you’re bound to have it at least a few times.  Fancy it up with some buttercream icing and the addition of dried rose petals and you have the prettiest Valentine’s Day (or any damn day) dessert.  If cupid shot you with an arrow and you’re in need of more Valentine’s Day DIYs – check out our side bar for more. Continue reading

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Chocolate Chip Cookies with Tahini

I *almost* feel bad posting another cookie recipe so soon after our ginger chews, but these are worth sharing. If you’re still riding the new-year-resolution-exercise-train, our friends have suggested that the addition of tahini makes these healthy. So there’s that.

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This recipe comes from Molly Yeh, and she got it from Danielle Oron’s Modern Israeli Cooking (which I’ve already added to my wishlist!). And to go on a tangent for a second. Have you ready Molly’s blog yet? If not, find some time to sit down and scroll through her creative recipes while enjoying her entertaining writing. That’s some blogger, and I’m so excited that she’s in the process of writing her own cookbook.

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DIY Christmas Presents : Eats & Treats

Merry Monday everyone! Christmas is coming quicker than I can handle, so while I shop online today, I’m also going to whip up a few homemade Christmas gifts that everyone on my list will enjoy.  I love giving and receiving edible gifts. Knowing the treats were made with love and care in someone’s kitchen makes them extra enjoyable.  If you still don’t have a present for me, here are a few suggestions 😉 liveseasoned_spring2015_hazelnutliqueur3-1024x889 liveseasoned_spring2015_hazelnutliqueur6

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Pumpkin Pudding!

Pumpkin is our ingredient of the season. We have all sorts of sweet and savory dishes, as well as a face mask to wear while drinking your lattes.

I don’t remember when or if I’ve ever made a homemade pudding before, but the idea of making a homemade pumpkin pudding has been on my mind for a few weeks now. Finally, with snow on the ground yesterday and plans for a cozy day at home, I made a batch and it was delicious!

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When searching for recipes, I was looking for a basic pudding with pumpkin and spice in it. What I found were many recipes for baked pumpkin custards (almost like mini pumpkin pies but without the crust). I also found many pumpkin puddings that used boxed-pudding shortcuts or had unnecessary ingredients. I wanted something with simple ingredients from scratch. Finally, I happened upon a few that looked like tried-and-true pudding recipes, and I ended up taking some ideas from one and some from another to develop the final recipe written below.  
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Using a few staple ingredients, it’s relatively easy to whip up a homemade pudding. The key to success is to never. stop. whisking. Whisking the pudding as it cooks will eliminate clumps and stop the pudding from burning on the bottom of the pan. The other step you’ll want to be careful with is tempering the yolks.  Tempering eggs is done whenever you want to add eggs to a hot liquid, but you don’t want to scramble the eggs. To temper the yolks, you’ll slowly pour some of the hot milk mixture into the yolks while constantly whisking them (there’s the whisking again!). You add enough of the hot milk mixture until the temperature of the yolks is fairly warm, and at that point you can then pour the yolk mixture into the pot with the rest of the milk without fear of scrambling.

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Calder and I ate this pudding as an afternoon treat while the boys napped (parents have all the fun!). I served it in these little Duralex Gigogne tumblers that I had picked up on sale with this pudding in mind… I’ve really put too much thought into this one dessert. BUT if you do make this pudding, serving it in these glasses will make your childish treat more refined. And now that I have the tumblers, I see many more pudding afternoons in my future (I’m really overindulging in this parenting gig now).

Pumpkin Pudding!

Pumpkin Pudding!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp corn starch
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/16 tsp ground cloves (or a pinch!)
  • 1/16 tsp ground ginger (or a pinch!)

Instructions

  1. While whisking, bring the milk, sugar, and cornstarch to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Boil for approximately 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly. If the mixture is bubbling wildly, you can turn it down slightly. I also use the method of picking up the pot or sliding it off the burner for a few seconds if it's getting too hot.
  3. Gradually pour about a cup of the milk mixture into the egg yolks, constantly whisking the yolks as you do this.
  4. Pour the egg mixture into the pot with the rest of the milk. Return the pudding to the stove and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes while whisking constantly.
  5. Remove the pudding from the heat, whisk in the pumpkin, salt, and spices.
  6. All the pudding to cool and set before serving. We ate it while it was still a touch warm, and it was delicious.
http://liveseasoned.com/pumpkin-pudding/

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It was absolutely delicious served plain, but I also added a bit of whipped cream and sprinkle of cinnamon. Best November snow day treat ever.

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