As a child, I spent a good amount of time at my grandparents’ home. One of my most vivid memories of my days spent with them was the crisp fall mornings and afternoons my grandmother spent canning. She would can dozens of quarts of home grown tomatoes, corn and grape jelly. The grape jelly was always my favorite, made from huge silver skin grapes that grew on vines along the back row of the garden. Not all of the grapes made it into the jars that lined her kitchen counter. A few were eaten by my brothers and I, and more than a few were used as projectiles.21 Jan
It’s cold here!! Not quite Iowa cold (those of you who live or have lived in Iowa know what I am talking about), but it is still cold here! This is our first winter back in the Midwest after three very sunny and warm years in Southern California, and I just simply can’t get warm!
So, I have been making a ton of hot chocolate; warm, creamy, delicious hot chocolate. I think I’m finally thawing out!19 Jan
It's cold here in Michigan, but that won’t stop me from bringing a bit of sunshine inside! Last year at this time, we were on our way from sunny southern California to live in snowy Western Michigan. Although I love living closer to family and friends, there are parts of California that I do miss, especially when the snow falls here and the temperatures hover near freezing.
Living in Southern California bring days full of sun and warmth, palm trees, the smell of the ocean and shaved ice! Shaved ice carts are abundant near the boardwalks of the ocean. You can choose from a multitude of syrups and holding the snow cone in your hand brings you back to the days of the Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine.17 Jan
By Garrett McCord, author of Vanilla Garlic
When lemons come into season in the middle of winter I start to go a bit lemonade crazy. Yes, it may still be chilly outside and the car windshield may still require a scraping every morning, but I can never say no to a tall glass of sweet and sour lemonade. Enjoyed in front of a fire with a bowl of aveglemono soup, a favorite book you've read five times before, or a slice of almond cake lemonade always makes life a bit more enjoyable and lets you forget the world for a few moments.
I usually end up using the more common Eureka lemons for my lemonade as I think their intense citric punch is a good contrast against the sugar, but a sweet and orange-y Meyer lemon will be just as happy in a clinking glass filled with ice. I also always toss in the seeds and pod of a fresh vanilla bean - usually Tahitian for its creaminess - as it adds a floral, rich, decadent layer of flavor to the lemonade. Plus, who can resist the comely pinprick speckles of real vanilla dancing in their drink?14 Jan
There is nothing that makes me happier than to have a hot breakfast ready for my family in the morning. While this doesn’t always happen due to hectic schedules and busy lives, when I do have the time, Belgium waffles are at the top of the list. Easily prepared in 10 minutes, the batter can even be made the night before and stored in the fridge for simple preparation in the morning.09 Jan
Beanilla carries a large selection of extracts and flavorings that any chef or home cook would love. From almond to lavender the choices are extensive! Cool, refreshing and a perfect complement to rich chocolate; Peppermint, one of my personal favorites!
Peppermint brownie tarts begin with a base of chocolate fudge brownie, a middle layer of cool peppermint filling and a top layer of rich dark chocolate ganache. They are a small but decadent dessert that is easy to make and guaranteed to disappear faster than you can make them.07 Jan
Whoopie pies are a classic lunch box treat. Growing up it was always a treat to find whoppie pies, swiss cake rolls or oatmeal crème pies in our lunch nestled amongst the frozen juice boxes and the flattened tuna sandwich! (Courtesy of the frozen juice box)
Times have changed; the classics are delicious and bring back happy memories of child hood but parents these days are much more aware and concerned about what their children are consuming. Highly processed snacks and treats are being replaced with whole foods and nutritous snacks. Baking from scratch allows parents and health conscious persons to regulate the amount of refined flour, sugar and fats we introduce into our diets.05 Jan
Warm, soft, buttery snickerdoodles are one cookie my husband just can't resist! I have his recipe written in the front of an address book, although I'm sure he knows it by heart by now. My children love the recipe so much that I have finally transferred it to a digital recipe book for them to take with them when they leave and have families of their own. This year we were able to enhance his cookie by rolling it in a mixture of cinnamon and vanilla sugar.02 Jan
Some days there is nothing quite as nice as cuddling up with a warm blanket, a good movie and a big bowl of freshly made popcorn! I'm not talking about the kind you pop in the microwave with the fake butter substance, no. But, I am talking about good old fashioned cook-on-the-stovetop popcorn. The kind that pops up light and fluffy, begging for a drizzle of real melted butter and perhaps a sprinkle of vanilla fleur de sel.27 Dec
When I think of raspberries, I think of my in-laws. In the early to late fall, there is a beautiful "u-pick" raspberry farm close to their home that has the most delectable raspberries known to man. My mother-in-law introduced me to them a few years ago on one of our visits back home. Picture a long winding drive, a couple of dogs greeting you with excited barks and a middle-aged woman smiling as she tends to her stand. The stand is stocked full of treasures such as homemade breads, jams and the most exquisite raspberry flower honey I have ever tasted. She greets you with a smile and a basket to collect the berries, points you in the direction of the most plentiful bushes and sends you on your way. Once you arrive at the raspberry bushes, you notice how peaceful it is and you begin to collect the sweet red berries. Most of the berries make it into the basket, but a few are so beautiful and ripe, they beg to be eaten right then!22 Dec
A few weeks ago, I posted a homemade Kahlua recipe that was perfect for gift giving! I know that you have put aside a small amount for yourself, so I have created a special drink just for you. So, sit down, wrap a few presents and pour yourself a glass of deliciousness!21 Dec
We recently hosted a holiday cocktail party with a few family members, co-workers, and neighbors. Hosting and welcoming friends into my home is one of the greatest joys in my life. I enjoy providing delicious food, lively conversation and a beautiful atmosphere which I have been doing for many years. Over the years, I have learned what works and what does not. With many successes and a few colossal failures, my guests seem pleased and return year after year.20 Dec
In our family, holiday tradition dictates that Santa is left a plate of cookies and milk on Christmas Eve. As parents, we drink half of the glass of milk and take a bite out of a cookie and place it back on the plate. For many children, part of the wonder of Christmas is seeing the half eaten treat that they left for Santa and believing that he was there.18 Dec
You have spent all day shopping for the perfect gifts to give to love ones and family. Upon arriving at home you have to create a perfect dinner for your guests, make the house presentable and, oh yes, you need to end your perfect dinner with a delectable dessert!15 Dec
Certain foods evoke memories of holidays; peeps for Easter, candy corn for Halloween and, of course, candy canes for Christmas. Each year, as Christmas draws near, my son asks to make peppermint bark; a tradition I am more than happy to continue with him. I always encourage parents to cook and bake with their children, and peppermint bark is an easy recipe to create with just about any age child.