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August Adventures and a Summer Peach Dessert

I have been thinking bad thoughts about computers, technology and blogging lately. I know just enough (and no more) that when things go wrong, I can usually make things even worse before calling for reinforcements (ie  my teenagers). Even they were not able to fix everything, so I am still thinking some of those bad thoughts, but finally, I am at least able to do some posting (in a much more labor-intensive way that I usually do).

The last few weeks we have had a lot of fun family adventures, but I have not done much food picture taking. Today is just a quick look at what we have been up to and a delicious recipe to celebrate the end of summer!

Piano Recital for Big and Little A:

Little A’s Baptism!

Big J performed the baptism and Brian did the confirmation.


Big A’s 15th Birthday

What a lovely and amazing young woman she has grown into!

Whitewater Rafting Trip

Little J wishing she was big enough to go rafting!

Tubing, Skiing and Wakeboarding on Deep Creek Lake

These Peach Cobbler bars were a great way to end a fabulous summer. You can eat them warm topped with ice cream (although they will not cut very nicely warm), or let them cool and cut into squares.


Peach Cobbler Bars
—————-(adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)

3 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla

6 cups diced peaches (about 8 peaches)
2 Tbs lemon juice
½ cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.

Dough: In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Use a pastry blender to cut in the butter. Mix the egg and vanilla and then cut into the dough. The dough will be crumbly. Pat about 2/3 of the dough into the prepared pan. Place the pan and the remainder of the dough in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Filling: Place the diced peaches in a large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Mix gently. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour over the peaches and mix gently.

Spread the peach mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble the remaining dough over the peach layer.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is slightly brown.

Serve warm with ice cream (bars will not cut neatly while warm), or cool completely and cut into squares.

Yield: 24 bars



Filed under Desserts, Uncategorized

Fruit Pizza

080610 078-1 Summer is birthday season at our house. With one child’s birthday at the beginning of summer and then three more within four weeks of each other later in the  summer , we have a lot of cake and sugar floating around our house. So I am grateful for Big J for going with a lighter dessert for his birthday yesterday. He usually goes for the more non-traditional birthday desserts. And with all of the fresh fruit available, I was really happy to make a Fruit Pizza.

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Eighteen Years! Eighteen years, in a land far, far away, my life changed forever. I can’t decide whether those 18 years have flown by, or that I’ve been a mom forever. Either way, it has been a wonderful journey. I love you J! It’s these coming years, as my babies slowly start leaving the nest that are making me nervous.

080610 051-1 This Fruit Pizza has a shortbread crust, a thin layer of slightly sweetened cream cheese, luscious summer fruit, and a light glaze on top. The fruit I used, from the inside out: blueberries, mango, raspberries, kiwi and strawberries.

The glaze is made from any light-colored fruit juice (I used a peach-mango, which turned out great!), some sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice (to keep cut fruit from browning, especially if you are using bananas or peaches).

Pre-Glazed Fruit Pizza:

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Fruit Pizza

½ cup powdered sugar
1 ½ cups flour
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup butter, softened
½ tsp vanilla extract

8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 Tbs powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Fruit (strawberries, blueberries, bananas, kiwi, mangos, peaches, grapes, pineapple, raspberries, etc.)

½ cup sugar
2 Tbs cornstarch or Clear Jel
2 tsp lemon juice
1 ½ cups clear fruit juice (apple, white grape, peach-mango,lemonade, etc)

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Crust: Using a pastry blender, mix ½ cup powdered sugar, flour, salt, butter and ½ tsp vanilla. Press onto a pizza pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Cool completely.

Filling: Combine cream cheese, 2 Tbs powdered sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla. Spread over cooled crust. Arrange fruit on cream cheese layer.

Glaze: Combine sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and fruit juice in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is thickened. Cool and spoon over fruit (all of the glaze may not be used). Chill. Slice into wedges to serve.



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It’s Great To Be Eight!

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Happy 8th Birthday to my Little A,
who is not quite so little anymore.

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Don’t you just love a good set of dimples!

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Filed under Desserts, Kids' Cakes, Uncategorized

Turning Teen and Three Chocolate & Peanut Butter Creations

DSC06459-1 Last week was my Middle K’s 13th birthday! While she is technically the “middle child”, she is in the unique position to play, as it suits her, the role of oldest, middle or youngest child.

In terms of birth order, you can’t get much more middle than our Middle K. The third of five children, with both a younger and older brother, and a younger and older sister.  But as there is a five-year age gap between Middle K and Little A, she spent a fair amount of time as the “baby” of the family. This age gap often divides our family when it comes to activities: the “big kids” and the “little kids” (think amusement parks here).  So in these settings, she fills that youngest child role. But at home, she has really stepped into the “oldest child” role with respect to the little ones. She is the one they come to when they want to play, and she is often the one to help them and put them to bed when Brian and I are out.

I guess it is in her adaptability that her strength as a middle child really shines. What a blessing to our family.

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If only she would look at a camera willingly!

Middle K loves to cook, as long as it is something sweet, and she has been on a real chocolate and peanut butter kick lately. Here are some of her most recent endeavors:

Peanutty Buckeye Bars

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Peanut Butter Heart Kisses

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These Hershey’s Bliss chocolates make a great alternative to traditional Kisses.

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Some of the peanut butter cookies were left “heartless”, for our chocolate-adverse Little A.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Buckeyes

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Peanutty Buckeye Bars
(from Better Homes and Gardens)

1  19.5-oz package brownie mix
2  eggs
1/3  cup oil
1  cup chopped peanuts
1  14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2  cup creamy peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9×13” baking pan.

In a large bowl, combine the brownie mix, eggs, and oil. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Stir in peanuts.

Remove about one-third of the brownie batter and set aside. Spread the remaining two-thirds of the brownie batter evenly into prepared pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together sweetened condensed milk and peanut butter until smooth. Spread evenly over brownie mixture in pan. Separate the remaining brownie mixture into pieces, flatten them with your fingers (you want them to be pretty thin), and lay them on top of the peanut butter layer. Do not completely cover the peanut butter layer.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until top is set and edges are lightly browned. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars.

Makes about 32 bars.

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Peanut Butter Heart Kisses

½ cup butter
½ cup coconut oil or additional butter
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
Hershey’s Bliss Chocolate Hearts (or Dove Hearts or other “shaped” chocolate)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cream butter, coconut oil (if using), peanut butter and sugars. Beat in vanilla and eggs. Add dry ingredients. Roll dough into  balls. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350°F for 8-10 minutes. Immediately press 1 chocolate heart into each cookie; cool on a wire rack.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Buckeyes

1  1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 cups chocolate chips (semi-sweet or bittersweet)
2 Tbs shortening

In a large bowl, mix peanut butter, butter, vanilla and powdered sugar. (This will be a stiff dough; hands work best for mixing)

Shape dough into balls. (If the dough is too sticky to work with, refrigerate for about 20 minutes before rolling into balls) Place on a waxed paper lined baking sheet or cutting board. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

Using a double boiler, melt chocolate and shortening. Alternately, melt chocolate and shortening in the microwave (for 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each time).

Use a toothpick to dip balls into warm, melted chocolate. Leave an “eye” shape at the top by not completely dipping peanut butter ball. Return coated balls to the waxed paper lined pan.

Refrigerate to set.

Makes 3-4 dozen


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Butterfly Wings and Apron Strings

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This weekend was my baby girl’s 6th birthday.

As we count down the days to the end of kindergarten, I am also counting down to the first time in 18 years that I will have all of my children in school all day. So what is more fitting for the birthday of my last stay-at-home-at-least-part-of-the-day child than a party full of apron strings (that I’m longing to keep tied) and butterfly wings (that she is yearning to open and fly).

So we planned a “Cooking Party” for 6 little girls, complete with hand-sewn aprons, chef hats, and a make-your-own menu of mini pizzas, fruit kabobs and butterfly cupcakes.

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Our butterfly cupcakes, inspired by Annie’s Eats.

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Little J modeling the apron she helped design and make. And if you look close enough, you can see (or not see) the first tooth that she lost on the night of her birthday!

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So, how come no one ever told me that there was such a thing as a “bias tape maker” before I made about 600 yards of bias tape with just a pair of scissors and an iron!? (Actually it was closer to 20 yards, but it sure felt like 600)

0401010 023-1 All of my love to my sweet Little J, who is growing into such a lovely young lady! As you stretch your wings and fly, I hope you never completely forget those apron strings we tied together.


Tomorrow: a tutorial on how to make Butterfly Cupcakes, plus a totally delicious cupcake frosting (from someone who picks the frosting off of just about every cake around).


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New Year’s Beauties!

Big A and her friends M & A started off the New Year with a homemade beauty treatment (Apples & Honey)!

If I thought there was any hope that I’d end up as beautiful as these young ladies, I might actually try it myself!

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A Word of Gratitude

Today, on the biggest food day of the year, there will be no recipes and no amateurish pictures of the food that regularly graces our table. Instead, I just wanted to share a short (and very incomplete) list of some of things that I am most grateful for:

  • I am ever grateful to God, who has granted me life, and who blesses that life on a daily basis.
  • I am grateful for an amazing husband, who loves and supports me in all of my adventures, and who has never, in 20 years of marriage, uttered a single derogatory or demeaning comment to me. I love you Brian!
  • I am grateful for 5 wonderful children, who teach me far more than I could ever teach them.
  • I am grateful to be a full-time Mom. This has provided me more joy in my life than I could have ever imagined!
  • I am grateful, again, for a husband who works so hard so that I am able to be that full-time Mom.
  • I am grateful for the knowledge that families can be together forever, and that I will always be that full-time Mom.
  • I am grateful for the family that raised me and who continue to teach and support me. I have terrific parents and sisters that are a constant source of blessings to me.
  • I am grateful for a country where I am free to worship as I believe, participate in the democratic process, have opportunity to make my own way in the world, and the freedom to write a silly-little food blog.
  • I am grateful for the armed forces who established and maintain that freedom for me at the risk of their lives, and for very little reward. Extreme gratitude also to all of their families for their many sacrifices.
  • I am grateful for amazing friends who share daily in my joys and sorrows and are a constant source of strength.
  • I am grateful for the far-away friends that I have made across the seven states and four countries where I have lived, for long or short periods of time. You have helped to shape me into the person that I have become today.
  • I am grateful for the opportunity to serve others, because I always receive so much more in return.
  • I am grateful for the bounty of the earth that allows me to experiment and play with my food!

On this Thanksgiving day, I hope that your turkey is moist and your plates are full, and that you are surrounded by people that you love. Most of all, I hope that you have as much to be grateful for in your life as I do in mine. My best wishes for a gratitude-filled day of Thanks.

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