This past week has been a lot of fun. I got to try some new flavors and recipes, and I made my 2nd trip to the fabulous Ikea! This time I went with a couple girlfriends, and we spent an insane amount of time there. (I’m not saying we spent 2 hours in the kitchen marketplace alone, but it could have happened.) I am still completely enamored with this wonderful store, and we’re hoping to take another trip in the fall. One thing I noticed this time was the abundance of cute and affordable throws. This one and this one both struck me as being a perfect companion to a good book on a rainy day. I also got to taste a piece of their lingonberry chocolate. I loved the taste of it so much that I’m determined to buy some lingonberry jam on my next trip. (To me, it tasted like a cross between raspberry and blueberry. Delish! I think it would be the perfect jam to star in another helping of these PB&J Bars.)
I also recently got to try something that I was unaware of until a few months ago, but am now in love with: Biscoff spread. Some months ago, I noticed a lot of chatter in the food blog world and on Pinterest about something called Biscoff spread. I had never even heard of Biscoff cookies, so I had no idea what the hype was about. A few months ago, one of my best friends brought me back some Biscoff cookies from her vacation. They are a solidly good cookie, though not mind-blowing, that is a little like a shortbread with a hard-to-describe flavor. As you might expect, the spread is made up of the crushed cookies, but somehow it is even more addicting than the cookies. I’ve been having to hold myself back from just eating the whole jar at once, and I still can’t decide whether or not I should eat the rest on toast or use it in one of the myriad recipes floating around Pinterest. If you’ve tried a particularly wonderful recipe that’s made with the Biscoff spread, please let me know. Since it’s a little pricey, I won’t be buying it often, but I don’t think I’ll be forgetting about it any time soon.
This past week, I needed to bring a dish to a potluck lunch. I usually bring a side since these lunches tend to be heavy on the mains and desserts and low on sides. I was looking through my recipe boxes for something new to try, and I came across a casserole that I had forgotten about. When I first saw it about a month ago, I thought it looked amazing, but life goes on and you forget about all these delicious recipes in your recipe box just waiting to be made. Since we are in the midst of zucchini season, I figured I should make this while I had the chance. Boy, am I glad I found it again. The smell that came out of the oven when I made this convinced me that I had made the right choice, and the taste will have me making it many more times whenever zucchini is in season. The recipe was easy to put together and is made of ingredients that you probably already have on hand. Though the amount of cheese in this is small, you can definitely taste it in the dish, and it really brings another dimension to it. There was almost none left over, so I didn’t get to try much of it. I think that it would taste even more delicious with some butter spread on top and some salt sprinkled over it (Of course, I would put butter and salt on almost anything.), but I’ll have to wait to try that until the next time I make it. (Soon!) If you’ve got some zucchini (or summer squash) wasting away in your fridge, this would be a delicious way to use them up.
Zucchini Squares (from Brown Eyed Baker)
5 lightly beaten eggs
1/2 c. veggie oil
1/2 c. grated Romano
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt (I used Lowry’s.)
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 c. finely chopped onion
2 c. Bisquick
3 c. thinly sliced zucchini (This is about 3 medium zucchini. If there’s a little extra, I just throw it in.)
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees; grease and set aside a 9×13 pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, Romano, parsley, salts, oregano, and garlic powder. Whisk in the onion and then the Bisquick. Gently stir in the zucchini and pour the batter into a pan; smooth the top.
2. Bake til puffed and golden brown (and smelling incredible!), 25-30 minutes. Let cool before serving.
Before we get to the movie series, I wanted to give you a quick update on the pudding pops. You can make them with sugar-free pudding, but be prepared for a much icier pop. They are still incredibly delicious, but it might take a little extra work to get them out of your molds. By the way, lemon is delicious! 🙂
You might have guessed this already, but the movie pick for this week was the much-loved You’ve Got Mail. This is our last movie for the Christmas in July portion of the series, so I think it’s fitting that the first half of the movie is very holiday oriented while the second half has a spring/summer feeling to it. In case you haven’t seen it, I’ll give you a quick rundown (or you could watch the trailer here). Kathleen runs a small children’s bookstore in NYC. Joe is putting in a massive chain discount bookstore just down the street from her. Naturally, they don’t have friendly feelings toward one another. Or do they? They each have an online pen pal whom they care deeply for, and of course their online pen pal happens to be their real world rival. Will they find out? Can they work it out? You’ll have to watch to find out. There so many cute things that I just love about this movie. Joe and Kathleen’s letters to each other are so lovely and funny. And I love the extra quirk they put in that shows Joe and Kathleen crossing paths so often without realizing it. And of course, I find all the twinkle lights and holiday decorations just beautiful; I also really enjoy a lot of the nostalgic songs that they use in the soundtrack. I did notice something this time, that I’d never realized before. Kathleen’s pessimistic shop assistant, Christina, is played by the same girl who will later play the perky, optimistic, ditzy Miss Rhode Island, Cheryl Frasier, on Miss Congeniality. Had you noticed this before? If you hadn’t, are you not shocked? Since I obviously love so much about this movie, I tried to limit myself to just a few scenes that I could share with you. I particularly love Joe’s day out with the kids, the multiple Godfather references, Kathleen and Birdie’s relationship, and the elevator scene. I had the same problem figuring out my favorite lines. For now, I really like “Thank your.”, “This woman is the most adorable creature I’ve ever been in contact with. And if she turns out even to be as good-looking as a mailbox, I’d be crazy not to turn my life upside-down and marry her.”, “And in a week it will be something really depressing…like a baby Gap.”, and “Mr. 152 insights into my soul.”
Since we’re leaving our Christmas series and returning to the sweltering heat of summer, I thought it would be fun to make a strawberry-lemonade scone to return us to a summery mindset. This recipe is pretty much your typical scone recipe, so it’s not very hard at all. The only change I made was to leave off the cream and sugar topping so that I could use the juice of my zested lemon to make a basic confectioner’s sugar glaze. It really is the perfect complement to a not-too-sweet scone bursting with fresh, summery flavors. If I made this again, I might put in even more fresh strawberries (I like my scones stuffed to the gills), but you can tailor it however your family likes it most.
Strawberry Lemonade Scones (from the Munchkin Munchies blog)
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. cubed butter
1 c. diced strawberries
1/2 c. freeze-dried strawberriess
1 tbsp. lemon zest
2 beaten eggs
1/2 c. heavy cream
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter til the mix resembles coarse crumbs. Gently add both types of strawberries and the lemon zest. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and set the bowl aside.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the eggs and cream. Add these to the dry ingredients and stir gently til moistened.
3. Place the dough on a well-floured surface and gently knead it about 7 times. Put it on a lightly floured, parchment-lined baking sheet and pat it into a 3/4 in. thick circle. Cut the circle into wedges and slightly separate them.
4. Brush the wedges with some cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 16-20 minutes or til golden brown.
Have you gotten to try anything new and wonderful this week? Have you rediscovered an old favorite? I’d love to hear what’s cooking in your kitchens, so feel free to share.