Friday, December 23, 2011

Quick & Super Easy Recipe for Sausage Egg Bake!

Sophia wanted to invite some friends over this week to decorate sugar cookies for her class party. I made a ton of snowmen, stocking and star shaped sugar cookies and left them for the girls to decorate. They had fun.

I'm happy I was able to finish my grading for the semester and take some time to let her have friends over. They giggled a lot and the kitchen was a mess with green and red frosting, white snowflake jimmies, green colored sugar and mini candy Christmas trees.

They decorated enough for everyone in the class and made sure there were enough for the teacher and her aides. We packaged them in a large container and wrote all their names on top and sent them in this morning.

It's hard to believe Christmas is the day after tomorrow. One of my favorite meals of the year is Breakfast on Christmas morning. I decided to make a Sausage Egg Bake, Warm Cinnamon Rolls, Fresh Fruit and Orange Juice.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Blessings for a Prosperous and Healthy New Year!

Recipe for Sausage Egg Bake

9 large eggs
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions

1 1/2 cups shard cheddar, grated fine

1/4 cup milk

ground spicy sausage, cooked to brown in a skillet, at the last minute add the scallions to soften

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking dish. Beat the eggs in a small bowl until smooth and add the milk. Sprinkle in the salt and pepper to taste. Mix the browned sausage and scallions into the bowl with eggs and gently add in the cheddar. Pour into greased baking dish and bake for about 25 minutes. Enjoy right out of the oven!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Busy Busy Bakers & Another End of Semester!

There's been lots of baking going on at my house this week. I like to bake for neighbors, my kids teachers, other friends at the holidays and I often bring in cookies on the last day of my classes for the semester. In my English Composition classes this week, I brought in Coconut Pound Cake drizzled with Chocolate, Sugar Cookies topped with Crushed Candy Canes, Chocolate Chip Cookies with a hint of Peanut Butter and Cranberry Biscotti.

The cookies were definitely a hit with my students. We played a couple of word games on the last day. We wrote a Community Story and played 'Passadoodle'. It was fun.

I like my students to leave with the idea that although College writing requires them to work hard and write well throughout the semester language and literature can be fun!

I like to hear what they write for a Community Story; it's always wacky and wild plots with outrageous descriptions. It'll be nice to have a break for a little while (to spend time with my own kids) before the Spring Semester begins.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Cupcakes, Fuzzy Pink Slippers & Fig and Prosciutto Puffs!

T'is the season for Holiday Parties. I love a good party. And at times the Holidays seem like one of the few times I get a chance to see certain people. It's fun to catch up with people I haven't seen in awhile.

I can't go to a party empty handed so I baked some fun cupcakes earlier today-butter flavored cupcakes with blue frosting and green sugar.

I also brought the new appetizer recipe I came up with right before Thanksgiving because it's easy and good and people really seem to like it.

Recipe for Fig and Prosciutto Puffs

Mini Phyllo Shells
Fig Jam
Prosciutto, Sliced into pieces
Pepper Jack Cheese, shredded

On a baking sheet place the mini Phyllo shells. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scoop a teaspoon of jam on the center of each pastry shell. Place small slices of prosciutto on top of the jam and top with a sprinkle of shredded pepper jack cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry shells are brown.

Oh ya, and as for the Fuzzy Pink Slippers, I did some Christmas shopping today and in an effort to take good care of myself throughout the holiday season I decided to buy myself the cutest and most comfortable slippers I've ever had. It seems like if I remember to take care of myself too, I will enjoy the hectic holiday season so much more. Just a thought, but maybe it would work for you too? Not the pink slippers, but the taking time for you around the holiday!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Kindness, Cake Balls & NYC!

It was my kids Dad's birthday this weekend and even though we are no longer together I decided it was worth the effort to help my kids put a mini birthday celebration together for him. I helped my daughter's buy a quesadilla maker, the ingredients for a dinner they would make for him at his place last Friday and other decorations. I also baked a pie to send over too because what's a birthday without desert? From what my daughter's said, the dinner came out delicious and he seemed to appreciate their efforts.
Regardless of how things turned out between he and I, I want my kids to know how important it is to show kindness and appreciation for the people you care about and what better way then to help them make a celebration for him. I didn't have to be there, it was enough of a reward knowing my girls had fun in their efforts. I have to admit, I also think it's pretty cool that my daughter's are learning the art of cooking and sharing good food too. Something I hope to share with them for years to come.
My oldest daughter and I took a day trip into NYC on Saturday. We had a lot of fun. After a long effort on my part I finally finished my book proposal for "Sweeter by the Beach" and sent it out to a New York Agent for her to take a look at last week. I was happy to finally complete it because I tried to get it done by summer's end but between the kids and my teaching job it simply took longer than I expected.
We had a blast tooling around the City. The cool thing was that at one point I realized we rode right by the Agent's office Building where I sent it to. I hope it gets published someday because it has been a fun project and I think people would enjoy seeing what it's about.
As for making Cake Balls, I baked some late Sunday afternoon because the holidays are fast approaching and I need to get a jump on my baking now before all the party's get underway.
For my first batch of the season, I made chocolate dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled with crushed candy canes. (Yum!)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How Time Flies & Giving Thanks!

It's hard to believe that my niece will turn twenty tomorrow on Thanksgiving Day. I remember the day she was born. I was living in Hermosa Beach, CA at the time.
We had plans that day to go to her Dad's sister's house for Thanksgiving Dinner, but got the call that my sister had gone into Labor. We drove to the hospital to meet her. I remember thinking she was so little, so cute and absolutely perfect! It's amazing how much life has changed in those twenty years and how fast the time flies.
I was doing my holiday baking by candle light and a fire early this morning. It's cold, dark and rainy today and the candle and fire made the house feel less gloomy.
The house was quiet and I had a chance to think about many Holidays I've spent in the past. I thought about that day twenty years ago, but I also remembered how much I used to love the holidays when my Nana and all her sister's were still alive. My grandparents used to attend a Catholic Church that would sing and deliver part of the message in French. I remember feeling as if there was something so special and sacred about that. Even if, I didn' understand exactly what was being said and sung.
Another favorite memory I have of Thanksgiving's past is all the pies my Aunt Ollie used to bake. She made pie perfection- chocolate cream, apple, pumpkin and pecan pies! As a kid, I couldn't wait until dinner was done.
I hope you have a peaceful Thanksgiving and remember to take time to give thanks for even the little things.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Autumn Fires & Freshly Baked Tortilla Strips!

Last week when I made the batch of Chicken & Corn Tortilla Soup, I roasted corn in olive oil, added garlic, cumin, coriander, sage and red pepper, tomatoes, scallions, chicken broth and diced chicken. I also baked my own tortilla strips and they were so easy and good I thought I'd add a quick recipe here.

Take Flour Tortilla's and brush them with olive oil on both sides, slice into small strips and place flat on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20 or so minutes, until brown.

Freshly baked tortilla strips are great to top off a bowl of soup or as a crunchy topping for a leafy green salad.

As for the Autumn Fires, I've been making them a lot lately. It's so relaxing to be home and have a fire going to warm the room.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Memories, Laughter and Chicken & Corn Tortilla Soup

“When someone dies, you don't get over it by forgetting; you get over it by remembering, and you are aware that no person is ever truly lost or gone once they have been in our life and loved us, as we have loved them.”

― Leslie Marmon Silko

I spent part of last week at a family wake and funeral. Overall, the experience was deeply sad and I can honestly say I learned a lot, was gifted with the pleasure of recalling many memories and besides the nature of the event that brought us all together I did have the opportunity to laugh quite a bit. Laughter is good medicine, especially when it's shared with people I deeply love.
Silko's right it 's by remembering that no person is ever truly lost once they have been in our life and we have loved them.

One memory in particular I enjoyed sharing was of an old family friend who would have us to their home each year on the night before Christmas. It was a big white house set high on the hill. I remember a large hidden attic, a back stair case from the bedrooms down to the kitchen and an old wooden chute that the kids would drop their laundry in. It would turn up in the basement right next to the washing machine. I used to think this was brilliant.

The Mother, a good friend and cousin of my Mom's was an impressive baker. At the end of a large meal the dishes would be cleared and the table would be replaced with all kinds of scrumptious pies, cheesecake and cookies.
After I returned home from the Funeral, I was eager to share food and new memory with friends and family. I made hot rosemary rolls, a Coconut Joy Pie and Chicken & Corn Tortilla Soup. I made a fire in the kitchen fireplace and called a few friends to come over. Late last night, Sophia said the Pie was 'amazing' and Bella said the soup was 'so yummy'!
And either way, the loss of our loved one will remain. Yet, we still must get together, eat good food and make new memories along the way....

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pies, Pecans & Libraries!

When I got my library card, that's when my life began. ~Rita Mae Brown

I adore our Library system on the Cape. I'm constantly stopping at one of the many branches and either looking for a good movie, music or book to check out. I go there first when I hear what my book club is reading next.

When I need something for one of my classes, I often stop there before the campus library because it simply feels more like home. And I know that part of why all three of my kids have such a strong love for reading is the many times I've brought them there. There's nothing better than getting a library card and using it. So when the Children's Librarian recently asked me if I wanted to bake pies for the annual volunteer luncheon I felt it was the least I could do.
I baked a Cranberry Apple Pie and a Pecan Cheesecake Pie. Fall on Cape Cod is Cranberry harvesting season and cranberry's are in such wonderful abundance. My oldest daughter says, the Pecan Cheesecake Pie is the best dessert she's ever tasted. I offered to bake the Pecan Cheesecake Pie because the Fall always reminds me of the years we spent in Dallas collecting and shelling pecans from the many trees in our neighborhood that produced them. And for those who had never tasted a Pecan Cheesecake Pie, I didn't want them to miss out. It's such a perfect combination of creamy and crunchy.

In case you feel like doing some baking this weekend and have yet to taste this particular pie I'll leave you with my version of the recipe. You can use either a refrigerated pie crust or use my recipe for a simple pie crust in "Meet Me in My Cape Cod Kitchen".
And, if you give it a try, let me know how it turns out!

Pecan Cheesecake Pie
1 pie crust, placed in the bottom of a pie plate, fold edges and crimp.

8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened

4 large eggs, divided

3/4 cup sugar, divided

2 tsp. vanilla extract divided

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans

1 cup light caro syrup


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place rack on lowest position in oven. Combine the cream cheese, 1 egg, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, and the salt. Beat at medium speed until smooth. Pour the cream cheese mixture into crust. Sprinkle the chopped pecans over the cream cheese. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, corn syrup, 3 eggs and 1 tsp. vanilla. Pour the mixture over the pecans. Place on the lowest rack and bake for approximately 50 minutes or until the pie is set.
Cool completely. Enjoy!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Early Morning Fire & Lemon Cake!

"Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all."~ Colette

I can relate to Colette's idea's on cooking. There are days when so much needs tending to that even the thought of having to boil water can feel like a chore.
But on other days, when I'm settled in at home I can make and bake a whole host of yummy foods. I'll make some for now and some for later and some to share as treat with a loved one.
And similar to love, the rewards, seem equal to what is put into it.
I was in my kitchen first thing this morning baking a Lemon Cake. The house was cold because I haven't turned on the heater quite yet so I made a fire to take away the chill. At the bus stop my neighbor said she could smell the fire. I must have used an especially fragrant piece of wood because it really filled the air throughout my yard and beyond.
We joked about how between the smell of the Lemon Cake baking and the fire burning I was making my own form of aromatherapy.
And like cooking, love comes in so many different forms. This week, I was lucky enough to witness the love my niece has for her new born baby. I got to watch my youngest daughter's face light up when I surprised her at her school lunch. And, then saw another family member's concern over her loved ones recent illness that progressed for the worse. Like the quote above, it's better to enter into with abandon than not at all.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Harvest Party Time!

"Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance and none can say why some fields will blossom while others lay brown beneath the August sun. Care for those around you. Look past your differences. Their dreams are no less than yours, their choices no more easily made. And give, give in any way you can, of whatever you posses. To give is to love. To withhold is to wither. Care less for your harvest than for how it is shared and your life will have meaning and your heart will have peace. " ~ Kent Nerburn

I decided to host a small autumn get together to celebrate the harvest this weekend for two reasons. It had been far too long since I hosted a get together and one of my main ideas in the book I've been writing is to share how fun it is to gather friends and family around good food inspired by living near the beach-I consider hosting a party as research for the book!
Another reason I decided to host a party, is that I've been invited to a number of Halloween Costume parties and for whatever reason (I can't even come up with a good one) I really don't like having to wear a costume to a party. Although by passing on those parties, I didn't want my friends to think I didn't want to get together with them so I decided to invite them to a Harvest Party instead.
I'm going to serve all things harvest related and have a fire going in the fireplace.
First thing this morning I baked a carrot cake, cranberry biscotti with white chocolate and a pumpkin bread with a white glaze. I'm serving baked brie with preserves and walnuts, pumpkin and sage ravioli, bacon and blue cheese tarts and an apple crisp. I will offer guests Pumpkin Flavored Beer, Pomegranate Martini's or Apple Cider to share in a toast of this season's harvest.
More than anything, it's a chance to catch up with friends!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Many friends who have tried my recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies say they are the best they've ever had. There really is "something so special and simple about a really good chocolate chip cookie". They are the ultimate choice for sharing food as gift, because like Sophia says, "who doesn't like chocolate chip cookies?"

Earlier this week I decided to bake Chocolate Chip Cookies for one of my three English Composition Classes. When teaching I often use the over head projector to share with the class different images, videos or notes and one day this week the computer wasn't working properly and a student offered to let us use his laptop instead. I told him I would thank him by bringing in cookies to class. They said things like, "Mmm" and "Yum" and "Thanks for the Cookies".

In case you want to give my recipe a try:

Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 sticks butter, unsalted (softened)
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
12 oz milk chocolate chips

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2) Combine in small bowl salt, flour and baking powder.
3) Beat together in a separate bowl butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla blend well but don't over mix.
4) Stir in flour mixture until well blended and dough forms and then stir in chocolate.
5) Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup drop rounds of cookie dough onto a baking sheet. Bake for 15- 17 minutes or until bottom of cookies brown.

These cookies are perfect when shared with a large glass of cold milk!
Happy Baking!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Simplicity,Chill in the Air & Baking!

Do you know the song "Simple Day" by One Eskimo? I listened to it first thing this morning. I pulled it out to remind me of the kind of day I wanted to have! It's a good song. If you have a chance, do a search for it and you can find a version of it online. The kids are home from school today because there was a staff development day in Falmouth.

It was such a treat not to have to get up so early make breakfast then lunch first thing and rush everyone off to the bus. We slept in and took the morning slow. I drank coffee. The girls snuggled in their beds and we had a chance to laugh over silly things and catch up after a busy week. My son had a couple of friends over but they were snoozing until almost noon.

There's a chill in the air this morning and the house felt cool. Sophia and I took a walk and she asked if we could bake something together. We decided on her favorite's: chocolate chip cookies and an apple pie. The kids will be at their Dad's this weekend and it will be fun for her to bring them with her to snack on over the weekend.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Daughter's, Feels Like Summer Again & Weekend Food!

" Food is our common ground, a universal experience". ~ James Beard

Last night after dinner my daughter's decided to bake a cake together. It was so much fun to hear them chatting and laughing away while they worked in the kitchen. My son was home too yet had little interest in the baking part. He did make an appearance when it was time to give it a taste.

It makes me happy that I've been able to pass on and share my love for baking with them. I hope it's something I continue to do and share with them for many years to come.

Today has felt like summer all over again so I spent the day outdoors as much as I could. I know the weather will turn cold soon enough.

I met a friend for lunch earlier then snuck down to Wood Neck Beach for a walk. I was the only one there, which was fun and a nice change from the busy summer days.

As for weekend food, I've been cooking on Friday's to have food and snacks on hand for the week-end. It's kind of nice because the kids are usually in and out and there's something ready for them to pull out and heat up. I made a large Pot Roast in the Crock-Pot and a Cranberry Apple Pie.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Intuitive Cooking, Roasted Red Pepper and Cheddar Tart & Chicken Pot Pie!

I love to pull out an old recipe that I've had for years and follow it to a T, because an old recipe evokes memories of other occasions, maybe even time with family and friends that we don't want to forget. And an old recipe promises it will be good, because we've used it many times before.
But I also love setting out to cook and bake by using my intuition. I like being creative in the kitchen and waiting to see what will emerge.
Last week I made the recipe I've had for years for Tortellini and Tomato Soup. But I didn't have sage, thyme or paprika on hand so I used cayenne pepper and lots of freshly chopped basil instead. It was delicious.
My oldest daughter asked if I would bake her a Chicken Pot Pie because she had one at a bakery recently and liked it. So, I made one up from scratch. The entire pie was gone within a single weekend. I made up my own version (simple and easy, perfect for a busy week-night).
As for the Roasted Red Pepper and Cheddar Tart, I made that for book-club last night and I just used a simple combination of sharp cheddar cheese and roasted red peppers on a flat sheet of puff pastry. Here is what I used to make the Chicken Pot Pie.
Super Easy Chicken Pot Pie
Take two pie crusts and place one on the bottom of a pie plate.
15 oz. can of cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 cups corn
1/2 cups of peas
1 Tbsp. freshly chopped garlic, chopped fine
salt and pepper to taste
tsp. sage
tsp. basil
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, boiled and diced fine
Mix all ingredients in a bowl until mixed well.
Pour into pie crust and cover with additional crust, fold over the edges.
Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45-50 minutes.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Patti's Pumpkin Bread & Gifts from Friends!

It's a great day for baking. The weather is crisp and cool. When the feeling of summer fades it's fun to make more quiche, soups and breads.

There are a number of people in my life who stopped by to give me really special gifts this week to celebrate my birthday. I am so thankful for each and every one. And, my kids were especially good to me.

Among them is this beautiful bread tray a friend gave me as a gift. It's perfect for serving home made bread in.

I don't teach on Friday's which is a blessing because I have a chance to catch up around the house and get some baking done. Just in case you feel like baking this weekend here is my recipe for "Patti's Pumpkin Bread"--I got this recipe years ago as a gift from a friend of mine. Enjoy!

Patti's Pumpkin Bread

2 1/2 cups flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

3 tsp pumpkin pie spice (you can also put together your own combination of nutmeg, allspice and cinnamon)

1 tsp salt

3 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

1 (15 ounce can) pumpkin puree

1/2 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9 x5 inch loaf pans. Sift together the flour, powder, soda, salt and spice mixture and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, beat together sugar, oil, eggs and pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture alternately with water. Divide batter evenly between the pans.

3. Bake for approximately 55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean in the center.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Walk at South Cape Beach, Friends & Food!

We were blessed with amazing weather this past weekend. After Labor Day, I get to enjoy South Cape Beach again. It's less crowded and after the Summer season ends it's easier to find parking. I love to walk the path on the town side to Dead Neck trail out to the Jetty. A friend of mine took this photograph and I want to share it with you.

My birthday is tomorrow. And I'm feeling very blessed to have so many wonderful friends. I hosted a small get together at my house on saturday as a way to celebrate my birthday.

I made Avocado and Cheddar quesadilla's with fresh Pico de Gallo and a Tomato, Mozzarella, Basil salad with Balsamic vinaigrette.

I baked an apple pie for my kids on Sunday because there's been so many fresh apples at the store right now. It disappeared instantly.

I also baked a batch of Dreamy Island Cookies for my neighbor because I know those are her favorite and I wanted to thank her for a small favor she had done for me earlier last week. She called to say, "How do you make them so good?"

I love finding opportunities to cook and bake for people. It seems like such a simple but satisfying thing to do for someone else. Who doesn't like good food?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Savoring Summer!

Pictured Above, From Top: Sophia and Mom's Apple Pie, Coconut Cake & Celebration Cookies, View from Bike Ride to Seconsett Island, Sunset at Chappy Beach and S'mores on the Fire-Pit, back-yard.

And even though it was a hectic week of driving my kids back and forth to Football & Cross Country practice, not to mention getting my own classes ready for a new semester to begin..we've been savoring all the sights, taste's and smells of summer too.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Food as Gift, Mike's Mussels & Fresh From the Garden!

I wrote a sweet essay I called "Food as Gift" that's going to be published in the upcoming September issue of "Cape Healing Arts". I shared two of my recipes for publication: one for Quiche and the other for Tomato & Tortellini Soup. They're both items I make often for my family. Since the article comes out September 1st, I thought one that included tomatoes would be useful because they're usually an over abundance of tomatoes as we head into September.

My neighbor has a wonderful garden and recently she invited me over to pick things I might enjoy. I used all the vegetables pictured here in a Cold Pasta Salad tossed with Feta, Italian Dressing and Balsamic Vinaigrette. It was yummy- even better because the vegetables were grown in her garden.
I love when people get passionate about a new recipe they try or create themselves. Recently, I saw a friend post about a sauce he made to dip his freshly steamed mussels in. I asked for the recipe so I could share it with you. I am a big fan of making good food and sharing it with others. He called it "Creamy Garlic and Wine Mussels".

I haven't always liked eating mussels, but since moving to the Cape I have had some very tasty ones at Chappaquoit Grill on 28A in West Falmouth and at Amari's on 6A in Sandwich. Amari's is just before the turn to Sandy Neck Beach and I've stopped there to pick up a batch of freshly steamed mussels before on the way down to watch a sunset.

Recipe for Mike's Creamy Garlic and Wine Mussels

1) Wash Mussels, take out any broken ones and place in a large pot with two cups of water.
2) Add lots of fresh chopped garlic, a whole small finely diced white onion, 3 tbsp. butter, fresh squeezed lemon, bunch of finely chopped fresh scallions and a sprinkle of fresh chopped basil and 1 cup dry white wine.
3) Steam for about five minutes. Drain, reserve liquid.
4) Place mussels in a large bowl.
5) Take the reserved liquid and add approximately a 1/4 cup of cream stir and place in a bowl.
You can either pour the liquid over the mussels or use in a separate bowl for dipping.
6) Make sure you have a loaf of really fresh, warmed sour dough bread to dip in the left over broth. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Following your Dreams and Peach & Pecan Strudel

"Trust in your heart." ~ Paulo Coelho

My Book-Club met last night. We just finished reading "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho. It's a fable about the importance of following your dreams and pursuing that which excites and interests you.

One thing I love to do is make good food and share it with others or spend time in my kitchen dreaming up new recipes.

One of the items I made last night was a Peach and Pecan Strudel. It's super easy and tastes yummy! In case you feel like giving it a try, here is my recipe:

Recipe for Peach & Pecan Strudel

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread out a pie crust or a sheet of puff pastry flat on to a baking sheet.

2) Spread cream cheese on the crust in a thin layer, sprinkle brown sugar, chopped pecans then peel and cut into small pieces two fresh peaches.
3) Fold over and crimp the edges of the pie crust or puff pastry as pictured above. Bake for 20 minutes or until begins to brown.

4) Let cool slightly. Make a glaze of 2 Tbsp. melted butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 2 Tbsp. of peach juice. If you use canned peaches you can simply use the juice that the peaches are packed in. Whisk together and pour over the baked strudel.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Recipe for Blueberry Pie!

"One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating." ~ Luciano Pavarotti

Food's such a fun way to bring people together. Earlier this week my daughter Bella asked if I would make her a blueberry pie.

I picked up two large containers of fresh plump blueberries from Roche Bros. and decided to bake her one. It's so easy to make and especially right now when blueberries are so abundant and in season-- it's especially good.

Recipe for Blueberry Pie

1) For the Filling: In a medium bowl gently toss 4 cups of blueberries, 3 Tbsp cornstarch, 1 1/2 cups of white sugar, tsp. cinnamon and a squeeze of fresh lemon until berries are covered.

2) Either make a pie crust of your own, I have an easy recipe for one in "Meet Me in My Cape Cod Kitchen" or use a store bought refrigerated one and place one on the bottom of a pie plate. Pour the blueberry mixture in the center and top with 2 Tbsp. butter.

3) Place an additional pie crust over the top, fold over and crimp edges or you can cut strips of a second pie crust to make a lattice top, pictured above. (I used more than four cups of blueberries because I tossed in my extras so my pie overflowed with blueberries.)

4) Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dusk, Hand-Tossed Pizza & Company!

It was especially calm down at the beach the other night around dusk. It's my favorite time of day. Wednesday night I went down to the water right after making some really yummy home made pizza. I made a hand tossed with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese topped with sauteed shrimp & fresh garlic and a diced meatball and feta pizza. We have two pizza stones that are perfect for baking really yummy home-made pizza's. I also love sauteed fresh diced tomato, chopped onion and fresh garlic as a topping combination.
As for company, I definitely have more people come to visit me in the summer and I can't really blame anyone, it's an enchantingly beautiful place during the summer months.
In the winter, I still find solace from the natural beauty but it isn't quite the same as the long lazy days of summer and not nearly as many people come down to visit.
When I know company is about to arrive I like to think ahead and have some easy food combinations on hand. I want to feel relaxed when company comes but I also want them to have food ready and to feel like they can help themselves.
Of course, life gets busy so things don't always fall into place. Last night we ate a roasted lemon and pepper chicken, a large leafy green salad and corn on the cob! My favorite company is the kind that isn't afraid to help out in the kitchen. My kids Dad's mother is in town visiting from Texas and it's nice to have a couple of extra hands around to help out in the kitchen. She made dinner while I picked up my son from Basketball camp and brought my youngest daughter to running camp.
When I finally sat down to eat last night, it all tasted so delicious.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Making Time, Pico de Gallo & Cranberry Biscotti!

"Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresea, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein." ~Life's Little Instruction Book, compiled by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

I've decided to give myself the gift of time. At least a little bit of it anyway.The bit I can reasonably squeeze for myself with three kids, a house and freelance writing and baking work to tend to. For the next three weekends I am limiting my social obligations and devoting myself to my baker's book and related writing project I set up for myself this summer.
Although, other demands, summer get together's and projects often seem to get in the way, I'm going to commit myself to spending as much time over the next few weekends as I can to writing. This weekend the kids are spending time with their Dad so I'm taking myself on a close to home mini retreat from house chores then next weekend I'm going to Kripalu and packing my Laptop to take with me. The following weekend, well I won't get too far ahead of myself. I hate to make promises I can't keep. But I already know it involves time spent writing.
As for Pico De Gallo, I spent six years in Los Angeles, CA then ten years in Dallas, TX and among many other gifts and treasures I took away from that time in my life I learned how to make really good Pico De Gallo. Earlier this week, I grilled a steak, sliced it into thin slices and placed it into warmed tortilla's with shredded cheddar and slices of fresh avocado then topped with the Pico De Gallo.
And I just happened to bake Cranberry Biscotti first thing this morning. My oldest daughter had been away at Camp. The first thing she said when she walked in is, "Mom, I want some of your baked goods". She was happy to see I'd just made the Biscotti.
And I realize that I'm not the only one with only 24 hours to fill each day. You have that much as well. If you happened to stop by and read this particular post remember to use your time well toward the dreams you wish to accomplish too.

Recipe for Fresh Pico De Gallo

2 Large fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped fine
2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 tsp. jalapeno, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh garlic, diced
Mix ingredients in a small bowl, chill and enjoy simply with corn chips or tortilla's and cheese.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sophia's Peach Cobbler & Beach Adventures!

“The Sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” --Jacques Cousteau

With the weather so nice this week there were so many beach adventures to be had. On Monday, a friend I had not seen in literally 25 years came down with her girls to spend the day with me and my family. We took the Island Queen over to Oak Bluffs. The day flew by in an instant but it was fun catching up and making new memories.
On Wednesday night, my book club decided to meet out on the Knob. It's a beautiful spot in Falmouth overlooking the water.
We laughed, ate good food and enjoyed watching the sunset. Sophia had a play date this week that lasted throughout the day and I took them to Wood Neck Beach. It's so fun to enjoy the sand and calm of the water while listening to the chatter of the girls playing.
Today was so hot that I couldn't think of a better way to spend the day than down at the beach cooling off. Sophia and I packed our lunch and met some friends down at Menhaunt. It was one of those perfect beach days where you wish that time might stand still forever.

As for Sophia's Peach Cobbler, the peaches are so amazing right now that I couldn't resist making peach cobbler. It's a recipe that Sophia loves. If you have some ripe peaches in your fruit bowl ( or have a chance to stop by and pick some up at your local farmer's market) give this a try it's dee-licious!
Sophia's Peach Cobbler
4 lbs, fresh ripe peaches, peeled and sliced
2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp butter

Cheddar Biscuits:
2 cups biscuit/baking mix
4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
2/3 cup milk
1 Tbsp butter, melted

In a bowl combine the peaches, lemon juice and extract. Place in a greased 13x9 baking dish. Combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt then sprinkle over the peaches. Top with the butter.
Bake at 400 degrees for approx. 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine biscuit mix and cheese add in the milk and butter until just blended. Drop by Tablespoons onto the hot peach mixture and bake for an additional 20 or so minutes until the biscuits turn golden. Eat warm with either fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Baking, Writing & Quick Story!

I've been busy in the kitchen this week. I was happy the weather cooled a bit because baking in a steamy kitchen is not fun! I've baked lots of celebration cookies, a vegetable tart, my "Linda's Lemon Cake", a Chocolate Ganache Butterfly Cake and a bacon & cheddar quiche! I love being in my kitchen with the windows open.
The quiche is my daughter Bella's favorite, I sent it with her to her dad's this weekend because this morning is her birthday and I wanted her to have something special from me first thing.
As for writing, I've completed a few writing assignments this summer since my teaching semester ended in June. The good side is I enjoy writing and it's nice to earn (a little) extra money from home. The down side is I've had less time to work on "Sweeter by the Beach" than expected. I try to have faith that I will complete it when the time is right.
As for the quick story, I recently submitted a food related article that will be published this fall. I mentioned briefly in the article a time I baked for my Dad before he died. Because of space limits I didn't have time to tell the whole story so I wanted to post part of it here.
My dad died a few years ago, and when he died it reminded me of a time when my son was first born. I wanted him to meet his grandson and I knew he wouldn't have a lot of food prepared for our visit. That morning I baked a tart, a loaf of whole grain bread and a lemon cake in my kitchen. I packed them up, bundled up my ten day old son and drove to his apartment in Boston so we could share the meal and he could meet his grandson.
It wasn't until years later, after he died, did I look back on that day and see how much that day must have meant to my Dad: our visit, our gift of sharing good food and the joy that a new baby always brings.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sandy Neck Beach, Cookies for Sale & Friends!

"Friendship isn't a big thing-it's a million little things". - Author Unknown

I'm so grateful for so many of my friends- people in my life who are willing to be authentic, helpful and supportive. I find it's so important to make sure I strike a balance between give and take with each of my friends so that there exists a reciprocity between us.
I'm also aware that not everyone in my life is a true friend and that some are mere acquaintances. Different friends fill different needs and that's OK.
I went down to Sandy Neck Beach over the July 4th weekend to meet up with an old friend. It was good to reconnect. The weather was such a blessing on Cape Cod over the 4th. We couldn't have asked for better weather. They have a Winnebago they park out on the sand and offer an open invitation for friends to come down to visit. It's become a fun tradition to spend at least part of my July 4th weekend out there. The fireworks in Falmouth were really good this year too. My daughter said, "July fourth is my favorite holiday" as I helped her get ready for bed late Monday night.
As for my cookies for sale, I sold them at the Coonamessett Farm Store and at the Pavilion on the bike path. I made a new acquaintance this week and it was fun to bake a batch of cookies and offer them as a gift as we talked over coffee.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Loving What Is, Birthday Parties & Blueberry Sangria!

One thing I seem to be able to count on for sure in life is the fact that things don't always turn out the way I hope or plan for.

This leads me to the place of loving what is! Or at least I try to.

Life happens when I'm ready for it or not and it's up to me (us) to deal with life's changing events the best I can along the way!

My sweet daughter turned seven this week. She and I spent a better part of our days getting ready for it because I think she loves a good party as much as I do.

She decided to frost her sugar cookie pops with chocolate frosting and white chocolate chips for her guests to snack on as they arrived--we put together party hats for her friends to decorate before jumping in a pink and purple bounce house castle, eat pizza and sing happy birthday.

As for the blueberry sangria I decided to make a batch to serve to friends as they arrived with their kids as a way to welcome and celebrate summer! If you do a search for blueberry Sangria on the top corner of my blog I'm pretty sure you'll find my special recipe for it because I posted it last year when I came up with it for a trip down to Sandy Neck Beach with friends.

And if you're in Falmouth this weekend be sure to stop by the Coonamessett Farm Store as I delivered packages of just baked 'Celebration Cookies' for sale earlier today.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Coonamessett Farm, Corn on the Cob & Wood-Neck Beach!

I've been busy this week putting packages of my Celebration Cookies together for an upcoming delivery to the Coonamessett Farm Store.
I printed out red white and blue labels that say "eat more cookies, they'll make you feel good".
One of my favorite foods to eat in the summer is corn on the cob. Sophia and I picked up a batch of super fresh and sweet corn earlier in the week and had fun shucking the ears together. Last night I decided to try my own version of herb butter and it was delicious! As for wood-neck beach it is one of my favorite Falmouth Beaches. I took the girls and my sister and my niece for the day on Tuesday. It was one of those beach days where you feel you might never leave. The breeze was nice. The water was warm and not a cloud in the sky. Too bad every day isn't like that.

Linda's (touch of lemon) Herb Butter

Stick of unsalted butter, softened
Tbsp. fresh ground black pepper
Tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. fresh dried basil (or oregano, your preference)
Tbsp. lemon juice

Place all ingredients in a bowl and with a wire whisk, fork or even use a hand mixer blend together until smooth. Spread on still warm corn on the cob. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Have you visited the website Girlfriendology or checked them out on Face book, yet? It's a wonderful website full of fun resources and ideas for growing and sustaining friendships.
I was interviewed by the Creator of Girlfriendology last Friday, a wonderfully supportive woman named Debba Haupert and in case you'd like to listen in I am posting the link here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Back-yard Fire Pit, Simple Pasta Dish & Recipe from Book-Club!

Neighbors stopped over the other night to sit around a back yard fire, roast marshmallows for s'mores and catch up. It was unusually cold
for June and the fire felt welcoming.
I love to make pasta and salad's in the summer. One night this week I made the easiest pasta dish and yet it's one of my kids favorites.
All you do is cook angel hair pasta and toss with olive oil, lots of freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese, ground black pepper and fresh squeezed lemon juice. It sounds too simple to be as good as it is. My kids always come back for seconds.
As for the recipe from book club-we met this week for our monthly get together and one of the women brought an appetizer that was really yummy so I wanted to share it with you here. She said, she found it on a Ritz Cracker box.

Layered Artichoke & Bruschetta Spread

8 oz package cream cheese
14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
4 green onions, sliced fine
2 Tbsp. Italian dressing
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup black olives, chopped

Combine the first four ingredients, mix remaining ingredients in a separate bowl. Refrigerate both mixtures for an hour or so. Spread the artichoke mix on a serving plate. Make an indentation in the middle and fill with the tomato blend. Serve with crackers. Invite a friend or two over and enjoy!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Life Goes On, Beach Food & Chocolate Croissants!

Have you ever noticed how food is always such a big part of both the most tragic and exciting of life's big events-from weddings to graduations, funerals and birthdays?

Life goes on and we have to eat!

Earlier this week my teenagers and their Dad were in a really scary car accident. The other driver was on the wrong side of the road and when they swerved to avoid a collision the car spun around and flipped on its side! The glass shattered everywhere. They were really shook up but remarkably all three of them didn't have any injuries. Sadly, the other driver didn't even slow down. When the Police arrived he was long gone.

I talked to my teens and made sure they were OK and did my best to comfort them. I told them they'd probably feel as though they were 'in shock' for a couple of days.

The next morning I woke up early and baked them buttery croissants with chocolate. The way I see it making them a special breakfast before they went off to school didn't change anything but it helped.

As for the beach food, it's that time of year again when I steal as much time as I possibly can to spend down at the beach. I grabbed a couple of hours yesterday to meet a friend, catch up and eat lunch. I made us tasty fresh avocado, garlic hummus, swiss and cheddar cheese wraps rolled on flour tortilla's.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Osprey, More Spirea & Celebration Cookies!

I couldn't resist sharing another picture of my Spirea bushes. They're just so beautiful right now. I've been on three bike rides down to Seconnsett Island in the past four days and each time I spotted this Osprey looking over the nest.

As for the Celebration Cookies, I baked a batch of one of my favorite cookies with cranberries, blueberries and white chocolate for my students today as this is the last week of class for the semester! There was not a single bite left and many of them told me they were the best cookies they've ever tasted. I definitely loved that feedback!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Spirea & Being Social Through Sharing Food!

Each year around this time I get excited when my Spirea bushes bloom. I have about six of these in different places in the side and back yards.

As for being social; at a time when most people get so easily tied to blackberry's and laptops (me included) I love to remember the importance of being social and the best way I find for me to do that is by sharing good food.

We have new neighbors moving in soon and I'm going to bake cookies to welcome them. Since the good weather has returned maybe I'll make a pitcher of summer sangria too with fresh blueberries and orange slices. My daughter Sophia knows me so well. When she heard they were moving in she said, "Mom, we'll have to bake for them"!

And, I am definitely due for hosting a back yard barbecue at my house soon now that the weather has turned so nice to gather friends and share good food.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Felt like Summer & Summer Fruit 'Pizza'!

What a gorgeous weekend it was on Cape Cod for the Memorial Day holiday. It was so fun to get to do so many things I love like spending time with my kids, going to the beach, catching up with good friends and making, eating and sharing really good food. It all felt like such a blessing!
Here is the recipe for the Summer Fruit Dessert 'Pizza' I made in case you want to give it a try soon. It's really easy and it's a light and refreshing treat that disappears quickly!

Summer Fruit Dessert Pizza

1) You can use your favorite pizza dough, there's a good one in "Meet me in My Cape Cod Kitchen" or you can simply buy two packages of refrigerated croissants and place in a rectangle on a greased baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for about ten minutes. Let cool completely.
2) Whip together until smooth 8 oz of cream cheese, 8 oz. fresh whipped cream (take heavy cream and whip on medium with electric mixer for about three minutes) or frozen whipped cream and two Tbsp. of strawberry preserves. Spread evenly on cooled crust.
3) Wash then let dry fresh blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and then slice and peel a kiwi and cut strawberries. Gently arrange the prepared fruit on top of crust and cream, let chill before serving.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Conference, Cute Cupcakes & the (seemingly endless) Rain!

I'm happy to report the sun is finally back out on Cape. Here's a picture of the back yard sun from today after my son cut the grass. It's nice to have teens who are willing to help out.
I presented a workshop at a Teacher's Conference at Bridgewater State yesterday called "Give Them Something to Write About".
My presentation was well attended and I got some good feedback. It led to some interesting discussions with my co-workers. It was good to have that opportunity but it was a hectic day getting my kids off to school and traveling off Cape.
I felt inspired by the Keynote Speaker. It's funny though when he began his talk he was rather dry and dull and I wondered if I would gain anything of value from listening to him.
But then- just like when the rain stops and the sun finally arrives- his talk turned around and he showed us a video clip about a really cool documentary on happiness which led to a wonderful discussion among the group.
It reminded me how important it is to give things a chance, to remain open and hopeful that I will learn and grow and that the sun will eventually return.
I've had my baker's hat on today and I'm trying a new kind of cupcake called lemon butterfly cupcakes. If you feel inspired to bake this weekend give the recipe below a try. They are delicate and yummy.

Lemon Butterfly Cupcakes

For the cupcake:
2 sticks sweet butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the frosting:
1 stick sweet butter, softened
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 18 paper baking cups in muffin pans. Combine all ingredients for the cupcakes in a bowl and beat until smooth. (2 to 3 min) Spoon the batter into cups.
2) Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from pans and let cool. Prepare the frosting, beat ingredients until smooth.
3) For the butterfly part, slice a thin layer off the top of the cup cake and cut into two. Frost the cucpakes and then place the half circle of cake at an angle on each side of the frosting.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Baking Banana Bread, Offering Support & Farm Store

"We must be small enough, humble enough, to always be beginners, observers. We must be open to experience, new experience, new sources of knowledge and insight, while still staying grounded in the fact that what we already know and have done is estimable, also important".

~ Julia Cameron

It was cold yesterday and the sun wanted to peek out from behind the clouds but it never did until late in the afternoon. I had bananas on the counter that were ripe and ready for baking. So I decided to bake banana bread because it was a good day for it.The house smells so inviting when banana bread's in the oven.

Sophia had a friend come over to play after school and they were happy that there was warm bread waiting for them to snack on.

As for offering support, I find it's important that I take a look at the lives of my friends and family and see if there is something I might do to offer them support. Life is hard and complex already, all on its own, and it feels good to know we can have support from others from time to time. Besides, it seems like we can do more with the love and support from the help of good people then we ever could on our own.

Recently, I offered a friend's teenage daughter a copy of my cookbook and an offer to call me if she was baking and needed my help. She'd been looking for a new hobby and she wanted to learn how to bake. I know my offer of support was small, yet when I ran into her the other day she said she tried my recipe for banana bread and that it came out really good. And, It's fun to know I've turned another person on to how much fun baking can be.

As for the Farm Store, I've been chatting with them this week about my summer baking schedule. I've decided to deliver my Celebration Cookies for sale just before the July 4Th holiday on the First of July. I've decided to make deliveries less frequently this summer in the hopes that I may get more of my book written. With three kids home, the summer gets filled up quickly. I won't be teaching so hopefully I can set a productive writing schedule. But I didn't want to let the whole summer pass without sharing my cookies.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Dangerously Good Cookies & Gorgeous Day!

It's such a gorgeous day today that I snuck down to South Cape Beach for a quick early morning walk. I was playing with an idea I have for the cover photo of "Sweeter by the Beach" which is to write the title in the sand. One of the things I love the most about the beach is how easy it is for me to relax when I'm there.

I've been doing some writing about one of my favorite topics this week: Food. I submitted my guest blog post for that will appear Mid-June about Friends & Food.

I offered two tasty recipes and wrote about a fun story of an adventure my girlfriends and I recently shared. I also submitted my article on eating Lobster that I called "For the Love of Lobster". The lobster article will be in print in The Upper Cape Enterprise, Supplement Magazine Section that will hit newsstands Memorial Day Weekend.

Lately, I've been having just as much fun writing about food as I do eating and making it.

As for the 'Dangerously Good Cookies', I stopped by my Mechanic's Shop today to see if he could sell me a back break light that had burned out. He said, "you know those cookies you gave me the last time you were here? They were dangerously good"!

I love that comment. I think what he meant is that he liked them so much he had a hard time not eating them all at once. It was my Celebration Cookies and they are pretty good!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hazelnut Shortbread, Birth Announcement & Cape Cod Canal!

One of the things I love the most about my teaching job, well, besides getting to talk at length about two topics I love (Writing & Literature) is where the campus is located. I park in a spot that overlooks the canal. I like to eat my lunch in my car because the view is so amazing-this particular blue fishing boat was heading through the canal very quickly.

I often see the largest of cargo ships pass through, like the pictures I took, posted here. I love to witness how often the canal changes depending on the current, tide and weather.
I received a birth announcement in the mail this week of a friend who recently had her second baby, a boy. I baked celebration cookies and then printed out a label with the baby's name and birth details on it then dropped them in the mail to send to the family. It's fun to share a good cookie to celebrate a happy occasion!

As for the Hazelnut Shortbread, I'm posting my recipe for this delicious cookie here as a toast to the Royal Wedding and the Popular British tradition of afternoon Tea-Time. I thought the church where they got married was beautiful beyond belief.

It makes me wonder though do you think, even though they are Royalty, when the camera's go away and they begin to live their lives as husband and wife they will have the same up and downs and challenges like the rest of us?

My wish for them is they have found true and lasting love. Although, since nothing is perfect, my guess is they will each have to work at it, even as Prince and Princess. They certainly look good together. And, since I am truly a romantic at heart and still believe very much in the possibility of love, I am hopeful they will have a wonderful life together.

Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

2 Tbsp. maple syrup

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/4 cups finely chopped hazelnuts

1/2 cup chocolate morsels

1) In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add syrup and vanilla. Add flour; mix just until combined. Fold in the nuts.

2) Shape dough into 2-2 inch rolls; wrap each in ziplock bag or plastic wrap. Refrigerate for two hours or until firm.

3) Cut dough into 1/4 inch thick slices. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets at 325 degrees for approximately 15 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Remove to wire racks, cool. Melt chocolate and drizzle over cookies. Let chocolate set.

I love these cookies. Serve them with tea in the afternoon and invite a friend over to join you.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Lemon Cake Frosting & Hope!

"What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us."

~ Helen Keller

I'm learning that as I further walk into life as a single mom there are more and more things that I have to not only accept but get used to. I was with Tommy for a long time.

I want to be graceful about this whole process, too. And, why not? I try to be graceful in my role as a mom, friend, teacher, baker and writer that it only makes sense that I'd want to bring this same intention to what I'm going through now. Things do feel right. Yet, it doesn't all feel easy. Because it's not.

In the meantime, it's the holidays that seem the most tricky.Tommy spent Easter morning with the kids and I made dinner then filled Easter baskets that afternoon. It didn't feel entirely graceful partly because I just wanted to be with my kids. I've always been a big part of their holiday morning celebrations, but I also knew they needed some time on the holiday with their Dad so I had to find a compromise.

Luckily, it was a beautiful day on Sunday. It was sunny and sixty down at South Cape Beach. I went on a long walk on my favorite trail.

Keller's words above remind me of so many things that I've once enjoyed. It's nice to be reminded that those things I've loved deeply 'become a part of me'. Because they do. They do for all of us.

For example, I loved when we lived in Dallas at Easter. We had super fun neighborhood Easter Egg Hunts with all the kids from the neighborhood or we'd go to the kids aunts house and share a big meal together. And because I loved these times deeply, even though they're gone, they're now a part of me.

One of my all time favorite memories from the past is when two long time girlfriends and I, one of whom I'd lost touch with for a few years, would walk with our kids on our favorite beach on Outer Cape. We'd write names and words in the sand then take pictures.

When I thought about drawing in the sand all those years ago on my walk I decided to write the word hope. Because this Easter holiday was a reminder that there is always hope.
As for dessert on Easter Sunday, I made dreamy island cookies: my own cookie creation with pecans, coconut and chocolate and lemon cake. Bella took her first bite and said, "Mom, this frosting is amazing!"

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Perseverance, Friends as Writers & Red Shoe Shaped Cookies!

The greatest oak was once a little nut who held its ground. ~Author Unknown

I received a friendly voice mail from a woman yesterday who asked where West Falmouth Baking Company was located. Her message said that she's been looking for me since she moved here in December because she heard I was a very good baker.
Her call reminded me of the importance in life of perseverance. I started West Falmouth Baking Company while my daughter Sophia was only two, we'd recently moved here ourselves and at the time I was commuting from Falmouth to a teaching job in Worcester at Clark University (two hour each way commute). I knew I needed to find something closer to home so I could be here for my youngest daughter. At the time I made a list of my favorite things to do and baking and writing topped the list.
I applied for a home food license, started testing recipes and exploring creative packaging ideas. I remember my very first customer was a neighbor who wanted my cranberry biscotti to serve to the women at her bridge club. From there, I sold packages of Lemon Cake and Dreamy Island Cookies (my own creation) at the Coonamessett Farm Store. I sold sugar cookies in the shape of a cross for a Baptism. I personalized the labels to reflect the occasion. Time passed and Sophia went off to school. I found another teaching job (another passion of mine) and since I wouldn't be baking as much at that point, I decided to write a small book with my recipes included so that others could still enjoy my cakes and cookies. Working on a second longer book about food and life on Cape Cod feels good partly because baking and cooking is something I am very passionate about but also because it reminds me of that little nut that held its ground.

Who would have thought that my small at home baking service with Sophia by my side would have grown to the point that I'm working on my second book and receiving word of mouth calls from people I've never met?

Yesterday, I spent the day in the company of some amazing writer friends of mine. We gathered in Hingham for an author release party. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to connect with such talented and creative women. Women who themselves have persevered. As for the red shoe shaped cookies, I baked and brought them along to the event yesterday. I love offering thoughtful touches to a good party. My friend released two books yesterday and on the cover of one of them are bright red shoes. It was my way of letting her know how proud I am of her.

If interested, visit to check her work out for yourself. As for the baking business, some of my very best memories are the times Sophia and I spent baking together in our kitchen. I still bake often but now I have turned my attention more fully to my writing about it. I still test and share my recipes with family and friends but they are being gathered to be included in "Sweeter by the Beach".

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Making Do & A Girl Can Dream, Can't She?

My daughter Sophia was sick this week and she needed to stay home and rest. She and I missed a number of things we had planned last week including attending my son's Basketball Banquet. I was supposed to bring an appetizer but I had to 'make do' with what I had on hand because I couldn't get up to the grocery store with my daughter home sick. I quickly made a pie crust and from there I tossed in chopped bacon, diced onion and sharp cheddar cheese and made a tart. It wasn't fancy but sometimes in life we just have to make do. It must not have been too bad because my son returned home with an empty plate. I took a long walk on Chappaquoit Beach (pictured above) late yesterday afternoon. I was thinking about how when I put together my first recipe book I did it all from my home computer and a local print shop. As I continue to work on Sweeter by the Beach I realize I hold a bigger vision for this second collection. I want to make samples of all my food creations, bring them down to the beach, set them out on long tables with white cloth and photograph them for display in the book. Can you picture it? I can. It really would be--Sweeter by the Beach! And besides, isn't this where all things that are worthwhile in life begin in the first place, simply as a want or a wish or a dream?

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Gift of a Recipe & Apple Turnovers!

The thing I remember the most about the holidays while growing up is how much I loved waiting to see what my Aunt Olga was going to bring for dessert. She made the most delicious Chocolate Cream and Apple Pies I've ever tasted. As a kid, I couldn't wait to hurry through the meal and dig into dessert. I think it was a combination of the love and care she put into each recipe and the fact that she always made everything from scratch that it tasted so good. She passed away a few years ago and it's sad to think that no one will enjoy the gift of her special baked pies ever again. I love to hold on tight to a good recipe and then share it with others too because a good recipe is like a well liked gift. The kind you can cherish for years to come. My oldest daughter and I took some time for a Mom/Daughter adventure this week. We had a blast exploring Outer Cape together yesterday. Before we got back on the road to head home we decided to stop at Marion's Pie Shop on Route 28. Marion's is a must stop bakery that serves delicious pies and sweet treats. They have the size kitchen that at this point I can only dream about--there's a huge wooden work surface to roll out the dough and an extra large double oven. My daughter ordered an Apple Turnover that to me looked like it could serve a family of five! She savored every last bite of it. I decided to bake my own version of apple turnovers today so that my other kids could have a taste too. And, since I love sharing a good recipe if you feel like baking this weekend, give this simple recipe a try. Apple Turnovers: Bake your own pie crust (Good recipe in "Meet Me in My Cape Cod Kitchen") or use two pre-made refrigerated pie crusts, cut into 6 in. rounds. (Use a knife and a small plate, to cut). Take 3 Large Apples, peel and chop fine, then place into a small bowl Toss with a Tbsp. cinnamon, Tbsp. brown sugar, 3 Tbsp. butter, softened. You'll need 1 additional Tbsp. butter melted for brushing the tops of the turnovers and 1 Tsp. white sugar. 1) Place approximately two Tbsp. of apple mixture in the center of pie crust round, top with a 1/2 tsp. of the butter. 2) Roll over the edge of the crust to meet the other side. Crimp the edges (take a fork to seal the crust). 3) Brush a little bit of melted butter and white sugar on the top and bake on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until the turnovers start to brown. Enjoy warm!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Melted Chocolate, Fresh Whipped Cream & Keeping things Slow & Simple!

I took this picture from the edge of Seconnsett Island, Mashpee on Sunday. The sun was setting to the right. The light allowed the clouds to reflect off the water in a very sweet way. It was a very peaceful twilight. Later that night I made a baked and breaded chicken Parmesan topped with mozzarella and fresh baked garlic bread for dinner. Then for dessert I served the butterfly cake. Honestly, I hated to cut into it (just because it looked so cute) but I did because the kids' wanted to dig in the moment it came out of the oven. I served large slices of the cake with warm melted chocolate, fresh whipped cream and plump strawberries. I heard lots of yum's and mmm's with mouths filled with cake. I took that to mean they enjoyed it. The arrival of Spring on Cape Cod always feels like a tease. I knew this when I wrote the previous post. However, I was trying to hold the vision of that day: warmer temps, sunny skies and all day spent outdoors! However, I saw snow flakes both Monday and today. Go figure! As for keeping it slow and simple, I've been applying that easy mantra to many things lately. I think it's appropriate for where I'm at. I've been in the same relationship for twenty years now and for almost a month now I'm on my own. It will simply take me a little time to further adjust. So yes, I think keeping things slow and simple is a good plan at least for now.

Whether I'm baking a cake, enjoying the beauty around me or whipping fresh cream-- I do it because they are each simple enough...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Signs of Spring & Butterfly Cake!

The early mist had vanished and the fields lay like a silver shield under the sun. It was one of the days when the glitter of winter shines through a pale haze of spring. ~ Edith Wharton

After a long winter I always look forward to the signs of spring:

*It's been lighter later and the kids love having more time in the evening outdoors.
*On walks around the neighborhood I've noticed the dailies slowly coming out of the ground.
*The robins are back and I filled our bird feeders with seed.
*I planted basil & tomato seeds then put them into the kitchen window box for early planting.

To greet the first day of Spring's arrival, I made an adorable butterfly cake first thing this morning to serve to company that's coming for dinner tomorrow. It's a butter cake dipped in chocolate.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Surprise & More Good Karma Through Cookies!

Here's a fun recipe for a cookie I call Surprise Cookies. It's included in Meet Me in My Cape Cod Kitchen.

I made them recently for my older daughter to share with her class. They look like a regular sugar cookie until you bite into one and Surprise-you get the sweet taste of lemonade!

If you're home baking this weekend give this a try.

I love to bake cookies and then share them with others, it's good karma! People really do love it when you bake for them.

Surprise Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 can frozen lemonade, concentrate, thawed, divided
additional sugar

1) In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
2) Combine flour and baking soda; add to the creamed mixture alternately with 1/3 cup of lemonade concentrate, beating well after each addition.
3) Drop by rounded, tsp. 2 in. apart on cookie sheet.
4) Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
5) While cooling brush with the additional lemonade concentrate and sprinkle with sugar.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sweeter by the Beach, A Note about the Ganache & Facebook!

When I self-published "Meet Me in My Cape Cod Kitchen" the whole experience was a fun and learn as you go kind of adventure. I wrote it because while caring for a house, three kids and a teaching job I've never quite been able to fill as many baking orders as I'd like to. Soon I'll have to decide if I'm going to re-print copies of "Meet Me in My Cape Cod Kitchen" as I'm close to the end of my current inventory.

In the meantime, I've been working on a second longer work that I'm calling
Sweeter by the Beach. It's a book about food and family inspired by life on Cape Cod.

As for the food it's about family favorites, special summer drinks and Cape inspired party foods. And, as for raising a family here, if you can survive a winter the rest can be amazing. And, I've always secretly feared that if Tommy and I weren't together my kids would no longer have a family. Yet now that this has become a reality, I realize my kids will always have a family even if it doesn't look exactly like I'd hoped it would.

As for the Ganache recipe I shared I want to point out that it goes a long way. The recipe I made covered not only the Coconut Pound Cake I described but also a Two Layer Chocolate Decadence Cake with plenty left over for the girls to taste.

As for Facebook, I've been slow to consider adding my blog there. Not because I don't value it as a good place to make friends and connect with fellow foodies but rather I tend to be a shy writer even though I've been a freelance writer for years.

However, since I've decided to begin this second book I thought a Fan Page might be a good way to gather support and feedback for my next writing endeavor.

I hope those of you who look for me here will also look for and then like Sweeter by the Beach on Facebook. And in the meantime, Happy Baking!