Friday, June 9, 2017

Mother's Day

As I've mentioned before, this spring was SUPER busy around here! But, I still had time to cook up some yummy things and snap some pictures. Here are a few recipes we enjoyed from this year's Mother's Day week.

The boys and I recently went strawberry picking and found ourselves with more strawberries than we knew what to do with! Luckily, Mother's Day was right around the corner and I found this delicious recipe to gift to some of the mothers in my family. It's so easy, the boys were able to do most of it themselves. Since it's just a quick jam, it has to be refrigerated and used up fairly quickly - which was not a problem for us at all! It's also a bit runnier than a typical jam. We ate it on PB&J, poured it on pancakes, stirred it into sparkling wine, and even used it to fill vanilla cupcakes topped with whipped cream. This is definitely something I will look forward to making again next spring if not sooner!

1 quart hulled strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Process strawberries in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Pour into a large skillet and add sugar and lemon juice. Cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until jam is thickened and bubbles completely cover the surface, about 10 minutes. Pour into jars and let cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Use within 2 weeks.

Here's a simple, yummy recipe I love - perfect for sitting outside and enjoying the beautiful weather!

Serves 6
3 ripe avocados, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup any kind of onion
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
1 t. salt
Tortilla chips for serving
Lightly mash avocados in a large bowl and stir in remaining ingredients. Serve with tortilla chips.

The friends my husband and I made as newlyweds have become a second family! We all learned how to be grown-ups together and a lot of that included cooking for each other. I treasure the recipes my friends share with me - it's a way for me to feel closer to them even when we're states apart!

Iry's Taco Casserole
Serves 8-10
1 lb. medium pasta shells
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
3 oz. neufchatel (1/3 fat cream cheese)
Cooking spray
16 oz. mild taco sauce
2 cups reduced fat shredded Mexican cheese
Crushed tortilla chips for serving
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook ground beef and onion over medium high heat until cooked through. Remove from heat and stir in cream cheese.
3. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Pour cooked pasta into dish and cover with meat mixture. Pour taco sauce over meat. Sprinkle with shredded cheese.
4. Bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with crushed tortilla chips just before serving.

I had so much fun making these! It was like making three desserts in one! The shortbread crust is the perfect texture and the crumb topping tastes just like a crushed up oatmeal cookie. And I loved the richness of the date jam filling, but it was a little much for the boys. I'm curious to try the recipe again with a different fruit. My mouth is watering just thinking about these!

Date Bars (adapted from "Martha Bakes") - V
Makes 16
Cooking spray
2 c. flour, divided
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1/2 t. salt, divided
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, divided
1 large egg
2 c. dried dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 c. apple cider
1 t. lemon zest
2/3 c. oats
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 t. cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9 inch square baking with cooking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper leaving a 2 inch overhang. Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray.
2. In a food processor, pulse to combine 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 t. salt and 1 stick of butter. Let the remaining half stick of butter sit at room temperature. Add egg to the food processor and pulse until evenly distributed. Pour into prepared pan and press into the bottom with the palm of your hand. Place in freezer for 10 minutes. Then bake for 20 minutes or until golden.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine dates, cider, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Cook over medium heat about 10 minutes or until the consistency of jam. Remove from heat and use a hand mixer to puree the mixture until smooth. Stir in lemon zest and spread evenly over baked crust.
4. In a medium bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Use your hands to work in the butter forming crumbs. Sprinkle the crumbs over the date filling. Bake until filling is set and crumbs are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Use parchment overhang to remove from pan. Cut into 16 squares using a serrated knife.

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