Friday, June 29, 2012

Homemade Pop Tarts


I think I'm safe in saying that Pop Tarts are universally loved. Even if you have sworn off junk food and only eat things made from scratch using ingredients you've harvested from the land, you have to admit that a Pop Tart is one of life's simple pleasures! Well rejoice, people of the world, because I can tell you from experience now that homemade pop tarts are easy and delicious. The jammy filling only takes a few minutes to make and is tangy and sweet, and the buttery, flaky crust is a snap to make in the food processor. I'm glad my kids couldn't finish theirs at breakfast this morning!

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Happy 4th Birthday, Lulu the Baker!

Four years ago on this very day, I wrote my very first post on Lulu the Baker. I started this blog so that I could join the Daring Bakers, but in the past four years, it has become a place where I catalog the things my family loves to eat and the recipes that I hope never to lose track of. The past year has been big here, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for stopping by and saying hi.

I meant to have some big to-do to post today--a spectacular give-away or something--but this round-up of cupcake recipes will have to do instead!

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Heath Bar Cake

heath-bar-cake-1

This cake goes by many names, but growing up, I always knew it as Heath Bar Cake. The recipe came from an old church cookbook (hence the chaste name), and was a family favorite when I was little. It reminds me of Sunday dinners and pot roast and childhood.
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Friday, June 22, 2012

Oven Nachos with Mexican Crockpot Chicken


I'm about to change your life. Twice. I'm not kidding; these two recipes (more like ideas) have made a huge difference in our kitchen. The first, Mexican Crockpot Chicken, was included in a family reunion cookbook my aunt made a few years ago. My cousin-in-law, April, submitted it, and everyone in my family has been a huge fan ever since. It really is perfect for everything: nachos, tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, burritos--basically any mexican dish. I always make a ton, use it for at least two dinners and some quick lunches during the week, and freeze any leftovers. The second recipe, Oven Nachos, was introduced to me and my little ones at lunch club a few months ago. Two friends and I decided to get together once a week with all of our kids for a casual, easy potluck. When it was her turn to host, Annie (baby shower Annie) made nachos in the oven, and I was like, "Say wha?!" I guess it hadn't ever occured to me to make nachos in the oven for a crowd. Our family has had Oven Nachos a few times since, and they are always a hit. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Strawberry Baby Shower


Everyone who knows me knows that I'll take any excuse to throw a party! And what better excuse than the imminent arrival of a sweet baby girl. My friend Annie (who, as it turns out, I throw a lot of parties for), is expecting a little one before the end of June...and her twins aren't quite 18 months old. I can't think of anyone more deserving of a party in her honor than the soon-to-be-mother-of-three!

Since we live in the cool and misty Pacific Northwest, we are just hitting the high point of strawberry season. We decided to take advantage of the local berry bounty and build our shower around luscious strawberry reds, pinks and vibrant greens, accented with the pale wood of bushel baskets. And since the mom-to-be already has all the baby gear she needs, we took the focus off of presents and games, and spent a casual afternoon, eating, chatting, and celebrating!






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Monday, June 18, 2012

Strawberry & Nutella Croissants


A few years ago, right after we moved into our house, I attended a church function for the ladies' auxiliary where they served these delicious little croissant sandwiches filled with Nutella and fresh strawberries. Everyone in attendance must have fallen as in love with them as I did, because they made an appearance at every social function I attended for months afterward! They are so delicious and so easy, I don't know why I don't eat them every single day. Maybe because, between the flaky, buttery croissants and creamy, chocolatey Nutella, they just seem too luxurious for everyday! I make up for not having them very often by eating my weight in them when we do!

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Farmstagram


clockwise from top left: the long and winding road; really inappropriate farm footwear (my signature move); new crops in 1 of 6 enormous garden beds; Leonardo, the janky-footed Speckled Sussex rooster; appropriate farm footwear; rocky road by the bonfire; the girls; a dirty-snouted pig; cajun seafood boil with pretty corn (center photo)


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Monday, June 11, 2012

Cajun Seafood Boil


A couple of years ago, we threw a birthday party for a good friend at a piece of property we own a few miles outside of town. She had always wanted to have a dinner party in a big field, so that's what we did! We set up long tables underneath strands of globe lights and had a seafood boil in the fresh, country twilight. I don't really like seafood, but the whole experience was so magical that I've become a fan of the seafood boil, and have been excited to try it again ever since that night. My husband had lots of family in town over memorial day weekend, so we built a big fire in his parents' backyard, roasted marshmallows, ate cobbler, and cooked up a big pot of seafood, potatoes, sausage, and corn. Everyone went crazy for it and had a ball, seafood-lovers and non-seafood-lovers alike.

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Friday, June 8, 2012

Recipe Redux: S'mores Brownies


I first started making these, hmmm, indulgent treats a few months after I started blogging back in 2008. And what can I say about them other than they are quite amazing! They capture all of the wonderful parts of s'mores--the gooey marshmallows, the crispy, buttery graham crackers, the messy, melted milk chocolate--and combine them with a fudgy brownie layer. I made them last weekend for a family dinner and had to smuggle the leftovers out before anyone could have seconds...anyone besides me that is!

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

June Favorites {Give-Away}

Tomatoes, potatoes, and green beans, oh my! This month, we have been doing lots of work in the garden, getting good and dirty while tending our summer crops. I present a few of my favorite garden-themed things for June:


1.  favorite source for things to add to my garden wishlist:  Agrarian by Williams-Sonoma
Heirloom seed packets, beautifully crafted garden tools, bee-keeping supplies, sweet canning jars, DIY raised bed kits--that's only a fraction of the gorgeous goods being offered in this new line of farm and garden wares from everyone's favorite kitchen store. {photo from williams-sonoma.com}

2.  favorite whimsical way to remind myself of what I planted where:  adorable chalkboard garden markers from Candy Stripe Cloud
This Sydney, Australia-based company makes sweet, laser-cut chalkboard garden signs shaped like cupcakes, a tea set, squirrels, bunnies, a hen and her chicks, hedgehogs, apples, pears, snails, owls, speech bubbles, clouds, birds, flowers...I really couldn't even decide which one to include a picture of because they're all so cute! Some designs available on Etsy, lots more on their website. {photo from Candy Stripe Cloud on Etsy}

3.  favorite thing to throw in my purse for my next trip to the grocery store:  reusable shopping bag that folds into a strawberry
I want to be good, I really do.  But I just can't remember to take my enormous collection of reusable grocery bags to the store with me.  I either leave them in the car or the garage--once I even left them in the grocery cart and forgot about them until the checker had bagged all my groceries in plastic! But with this super cute bag in the bottom of my purse, I'll at least have one bag with me at all times! I got mine at World Market, but these ones available on Amazon are very similar. {photo from amazon.com}

4.  favorite way to share recipes for those delicious summer dishes:  vintage vegetable recipe cards from the dollar basket at Michael's
When I spotted these on a recent shopping trip, I couldn't help myself from tossing half a dozen in my cart. Look out friends; I might have a pack with your name on it!

5.  favorite way to enjoy the garden's bounty this summer:  Ratatouille
We were first introduced to this mouth-watering recipe by our friends Marcelle and Dave at dinner club a few summers ago. It became an instant family favorite, and we find ourselves craving it all summer. It is hands-down my favorite way to eat summer garden vegetables.

***

The June give-away is now closed and the winner has been contacted.  Thanks to everyone who participated!
This month, I'm giving away a reusable strawberry tote and two sets of vintage vegetable recipe cards. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post. Please, please, please include your email address if it isn't easy to find through your Blogger profile. Despite what you've heard, I'm NOT a mind-reader and need to know how to contact you if you win. The give-away will be open for 1 week; I'll choose a winner next Wednesday and notify you by email. Best of luck everyone, and thanks for reading!!
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Monday, June 4, 2012

Aunt Kari's Lasagna


I think one of the reasons I love to cook so much is that I grew up around delicious food. Basically everyone on my mom's side of the family is a fantastic cook. Even as an adult, I look forward to going to my mom's house for dinner because there is sure to be something mouthwatering on the menu, and more than a few of my most favorite recipes have come from my grandma, Nana. Getting together with my extended family is a culinary treat as well, and I always come home from reunions and visits with a small stack of new recipes to try.

This palate-pleasing lasagna recipe comes from my Aunt Kari. Lasagna can sometimes be a labor-intensive dinner that dirties a million dishes, but this version is simple and quick. And it is a huge hit with everyone, from the picky preschoolers to the lasagna connoisseurs.

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Friday, June 1, 2012

New Look, New Features


Over the past few weeks (well, months really), this space has been getting a makeover, little by little. After a million changes in fonts, headers, colors, icons, etc, I present the new and improved Lulu the Baker! I hope you like it. I'd love feedback: can you read the fonts? do the colors look nice together? is something too big? too small? Shoot me an email or leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Coinciding beautifully with the new Lulu the Baker look are some fun and useful new features from ZipList: personalized recipe boxes and shopping lists for my readers!  For those not in the know, ZipList is a free service that allows you to save recipes from your favorite websites to your own online recipe box, so all of your favorite recipes from across the internet are saved in one easy-to-access place. ZipList also has features that help you generate weekly shopping lists and plan meals, and a free app for iPhones and Androids, so you can access your account while you're at the grocery store!

So how does ZipList work on Lulu the Baker? It really couldn't be easier! At the bottom of each recipe post, you'll find a blue "Save Recipe" button. Clicking on it will allow you to save the recipe to your online recipe box or generate a shopping list based on the recipe's ingredients. Pretty cool! And you can access your recipe box and shopping list anytime by clicking on the links in the sidebar.

If you already have a ZipList account, get started now! It'll take me a few weeks to get all of the archived recipes up-to-date, but all new Lulu the Baker recipes from now on will have a "Save Recipe" button on the bottom. And if you don't have a ZipList account, you can click HERE to get your free recipe box, shopping list, and meal planner today!

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