Strawberry Limeade

Done

I must first apologize for my absence. It’s been a long summer! There’s been WAY too much work and WAY too many things going on in the garden and greenhouse! We planted 58 – that’s not a typo – 58 tomato plants! There will be many, many tomato based recipes coming your way! And beans … and peppers … and cucumbers … yikes …

But …

One fine spring morning, the Dear One wakes up and looks at me, a twinkle in his eye … what do you want to do today? I don’t know. WHat do you want to do today? We should do something. (It’s like an often repeated scene from the film Marty!) I should have known he was waiting for this opening, this tiny bit of indecision on my part.

Well, I have an idea! Those five little words always bring a tiny bit of terror to my soul.

Let’s go pick strawberries! Ummm, okay. And off we go, girls in tow, to pick the strawberries that grow in a row. (Huh, huh, how’s that for a rhyme?!)

Here I’m thinking strawberries. The Dear One was thinking STRAWBERRIES. I think we picked fifteen quarts of strawberries. Some were greedily eaten, some went into smoothies, some into an incredible ice cream you’ll see next, and bags and bags and bags went into the freezer.

And some were lucky enough to make their way into this strawberry limeade.

I’ve made this a number of times, and used the frozen strawberries in my freezer, once the fresh ran out. Frozen strawberries quarter very easily. Lime juice, strawberries and sugar. Doesn’t get easier than that. The sugar is adjusted to your liking. We’re not an awfully sweet group here, so I always make it a bit on the tart side.

  • 1 1/2 C quartered fresh strawberries
  • 1 C fresh lime juice
  • 5 C cold water
  • 3/4 to 1 C granulated sugar (depending on how sweet the strawberries are)
  • Ice cubes
  • Lime slices-for serving, if desired

Ingredients

 

Blend strawberries and lime juice in blender or food processor until smooth.

Pour strawberry and lime mixture into a large pitcher. Add cold water and sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves.

Pitcher

 Add in ice cubes and pour into individual glasses. Garnish with lime, if desired.

Glass

 Pour over ice cubes in tall glasses; garnish each with strawberry or lime wedge, if desired.

 

 

New York Crumb Cake

Ready

Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr once said “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” … “the more things change, the more they stay the same”.

Not that I’m one to argue with a dead, French journalist, who coined one of the most used sentences … well, EVER …

BUT, for me, truth be told, the more things have changed, the more different they have become.

I was born in New York City. Grew up in New York City. Grammar school and high school in New York City. Up until November 2013, I had never lived further than 10 miles from everyone to whom I’m related – except my sister Maria who abandoned ship to marry a great guy and now lives in Oswego, IL.

I worked for my Dad for around 30 years as a paralegal and office manager.

I had GREAT gal pals.

November came along and EVERYTHING changed. I moved from the hustle and bustle of New York City to the calm and quiet of Bar Harbor, Maine (well, except for July and August when town is over run by tourists). Am no longer (mostly) working for my Dad, have new jobs, added some new gal pals to my beloved inner circle, live in a beautiful home surrounded by beautiful gardens, with the MOST incredible man.

I decided as I was packing my boxes that I no longer wanted to be a paralegal. I didn’t want a 9 to 5 office grind. If I was going to change everything about my life, I may as well change everything about  my life.

BUT WHAT DO I WANT TO BE WHEN I GROW UP!?

Well, who knows?! (and I refuse to grow up …) But I do know it HAS to involve food! At the moment, I’m working at Reel Pizza Cinerama – truly one of the coolest places EVER! I began my own summer based cooking business – The Maine Ingredients – which truly struggled its first summer. I even picked up a few shifts as a sous chef in a friend’s restaurant – Sweet Pea’s Cafe.

A little restless. A little bored. Feeling a little sorry for myself.

AND THEN! … an email from my friend Jennifer Steen Booher, whose photographs are the coolest I’ve ever seen (check them out on Quercus Design) arrived. Her daughter Tabby wants to cook, bake, be in the kitchen. They tried a cooking camp and it was a massive FAIL. Would I consider coming over and teaching Tabby and a couple of friends the way around a cake tin? WOULD I? HELLS YEAH!

We had a blast! We made pretzels and scones and bread and blueberry muffins and quiche and lemon meringue pie (which I had personally never made either and was knocking knees that it would work out – and it did!) and sticky buns and this New York Crumb Cake.

Jenn wrote a great piece about our time in the kitchen – check it out – and check out hr fabulous photography!

Thank you, Jenn for sharing your kitchen and daughter with me! Thank you Tabby, Anna, Irene, Geneva and Carolyn for making the lessons so much fun and for turning out some fabulous baked goods!

I’m hoping others will see this and Jenn’s piece on her blog and want some lessons too … if you do you can reach my by email themaineingredients@gmail.com or 207-801-0302!

See, the more things have changed, the more they have changed and the better they have become!

Makes one 9-by-12 1/2-inch cake

  • 2 T canola oil, plus more for pan
  • 4 C all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 2 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1 C packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Place rack in center of oven, and heat oven to 325°. Lightly brush a 9-by-12 1/2-inch baking pan with canola oil, dust with flour, and tap to remove excess. Set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a second bowl, whisk together egg, milk, canola oil, and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into egg mixture.

Batter in pan

Spread batter evenly into prepared pan, and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine remaining 2 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Pour melted butter over flour mixture, and toss with a rubber spatula until large crumbs form.

Adding crumbs

 

Sprinkle crumbs over batter.

Transfer pan to oven, and bake, rotating pan after 10 minutes. Continue baking until a cake tester comes out clean, about 10 minutes more.

Cooling

Transfer baking pan to a wire rack to cool.

Dusting

Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Using a serrated knife or bench scraper, cut into 3-inch squares. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

Slice

Rhubarb, Rhubarb, everywhere! What’s a girl to do?

There’s only so much that will fit into the freezer!

Ice Cream … done …

Cake! Yes, a nice cake would be great! I looked through my cookbooks trying to find great rhubarb recipes and came across this one from Martha Stewart Cakes.

Company coming, a little showing off in the cake department would be fun.

You know, for me, the hardest thing about moving to Maine is missing my GIRLS! I am making friends here. A couple of very dear, couldn’t live without friends, but they were the Dear One’s friends first … not that that makes a tinker’s damn bit of difference at this point, but it’s all still so new and shiny …

And sometimes … I wanna go to Txikito! I wanna sit around and watch Project Runway! I wanna go to Trader Joe’s, Fariway, Whole Foods! I wanna have lunch! Go shoe shopping! RESTAURANT WEEK! Walk to the store! Chinese food at midnight! I miss my parents and my siblings (I’m a girl who has never lived more than 8 or 9 miles away from her ENTIRE family … ever!)!

Those things ain’t gonna happen in Bar Harbor, so we gather for dinner … and we laugh and we feast and we laugh and we drink and we laugh … truthfully, it’s all DAMN good and I wouldn’t trade a moment of it for anything.

If only I could have my old girls and my new girls (and boys) and my family in one place, like would be … not gonna say it!

TOPPING

  • 4 T unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • Coarse salt

CAKE

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for buttering pan
  • 1 pound rhubarb, trimmed and cut on a very sharp diagonal about 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 3/4 C sugar
  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • Coarse salt
  • 1/2 t finely grated orange zest plus 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 C sour cream

NOTE: I doubled the amount of crumb topping. The amounts above are for the original recipe.

NOTE NOTE: I didn’t cut this on a sharp diagonal. I cut it in 1/2 inch chunks and it was WAY too much rhubarb!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Rhubarb

 

Make the topping: Stir together butter, flour, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt until moist and crumbly. Set aside.

Butter a 9-inch round cake pan (2 inches deep). Dot with 4 tablespoons butter (cut into pieces). Toss rhubarb with 3/4 cup sugar; let stand for 2 minutes. Toss again, and spread in pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Beat remaining stick butter and cup sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in zest and juice. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream, until smooth. Spread evenly over rhubarb.

Crumble topping evenly over batter.

Out of oven

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and top springs back when touched, about 1 hour. Let cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake, and invert onto a wire rack. Let cool completely.

NOTE: I don’t know if it was me or the pan was too small or I over filled it, but this over flowed all over the oven. Next time less rhubarb and maybe not all the batter!

NOTE: Let the cake cool for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan. The rhubarb will be too hot to handle safely right after baking. But if the cake sits much longer, it may stick.

Invreted

 

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

Brown Butter Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies

“Hi, Mom.”

“Hi, lovey.”

“I’m at camp.”

“I know.”

“I’m already homesick. The food is yucky. I’m broke.”

“I’m sorry, honey. I’ll send you some money. And cookies … would cookies help?”

“Mom, your cookies always help!”

This was a conversation with my son, Tommy. The same child who is 24, living on his own, and away working at the same camp he has worked at for at least 7 years.

But he wants cookies.

What’s a Mom to do?

Bake cookies, that’s what a Mom’s to do.

So I off I went to the kitchen to bake cookies to ship to my starving, homesick child. Fortunately his favorite cookies will ship well and make enough to have in the house as well.

You can sub cranberries for the dried cherries and white or dark chocolate for the semisweet chocolate.

  • 2 1/2 C rolled oats (Use old fashioned not quick or instant)
  • 1 1/2 C all purpose flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 C dried cherries
  • 6 ozs semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C walnut halves, finely chopped
  • 1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/3 C firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Dry Ingredients

Whisk oats, flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; stir in dried cranberries, white chocolate, and nuts.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Continue to simmer over medium-low heat until the milk solids turn golden brown, about 4 minutes; take care not to burn.

Browned Butter

Pour browned butter into a large bowl and whisk in brown sugar until combined. Whisk in cinnamon, then whisk in eggs and vanilla, beating well after each. Add dry mixture to wet ingredients and stir just until combined. Mixture will be thick. Drop by generously rounded tablespoon 2 inches apart onto cookie sheets.

Bake until light golden brown and just dry to the touch, but still a little soft inside, about 10 minutes.

Cooling

Slide parchment onto racks to cool cookies completely.

One-Pan Fudge Cake

Baked

You’ll have to use your imaginations here …

RING … RINNNGGGGGG …

Me: Hello?

SS: Hi! Whatcha doing for dinner tonight. I know the Dear One is away and you’re home alone. Come over for dinner and a movie. Just me and he kids. This way I won’t have to rescue you after you’ve done something I Love Lucy-esque.

Me: Okay. That’s great.

SS: Well, not just  me and the kids … 4 or 5 other people as well.

Me: Oh? (Wishing I hadn’t answered the phone now) Sure. What can I bring? (when will I learn NOT to ask that question!?)

SS: How about dessert?

Me: Okay. What time?

SS: How about an hour?

Me: See you then.

SS: Andrea? Don’t lock the door when you leave!

AN HOUR? Come up with and make dessert and drive into town IN AN HOUR!? Now what am I going to do?

Suddenly inspiration! I remembered seeing a recipe on Relish.com for a One-Pan Fudge Cake taken from the Junior League of Nashville cookbook.

Simple ingredients. One pan. Quick to throw together. Cools in the pan. Baked in 30 minutes. I.AM.SAVED!

Fudgey and dense, chocolatey without being too sweet, this cake is the answer to any last minute guests or dinner invitations!

Oh, and ice cream. Ice cream is great on top of this cake.

  • 1/2 C (1 stick) butter
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 3/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 C chopped pecans or walnuts
  • Powdered sugar

Ingredients

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 8-inch square cake pan.

Melt butter, sugar and chocolate in a medium saucepan over low heat. When melted, add flour, salt and baking powder. Stir well. Add eggs, vanilla and pecans, if using.

Pouring into pan

 

Stir well and pour into prepared pan.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cut into squares while hot. Let cool in pan.

Sprinkling sugar

When cool, dust top with powdered sugar.

 

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Sliced

I had the honor … well, no, privilege of starting and maintaining a fabulous cooking forum. I met fabulous women. I even met some of my very best friends through this forum, all of whom I cherish and miss as I sit here in the frozen springtime beauty of Maine.

We traded our cherished recipes, helped each other with ingredients, shared our family trials, tribulations and successes. Sadly, we mourned together at the passing of some of our members.

We decided that our wonderful recipes needed to be in written in book form and we set out to self-publish our own cookbook. What a joy it was to put together! So many fabulous recipes, everyone jumping in to help test recipes and type. 290 pages of food and friendship!

One of my absolute favorite recipes from the book is Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, shared by jerseygirl. It is my go to banana bread recipe and where all of the bananas we don’t get to fast enough end up.

Continued thanks to all of you for sharing your recipes and time. Becky, I still miss you each and every day.

  • 2 C flour
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 C mashed ripe banana
  • 1/2 C butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C chocolate chips
  • 1/2 C walnuts

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9×5 loaf pan

Combine all ingredients except chips and nuts in a large bowl. Blend well on medium speed of an electric mixer. Stir in chips and nuts. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 60 to 65 minutes or until toothpick interested in center comes out clean.

Ready to slice

Cool 10 minutes in pan. Remove from pan and let cool completely on a rack.

Roasted Vegetable and Black Bean Tacos

Ready

Ya know, it’s much harder to come up with vegetarian meals than initially thought … especially with slightly picky teenagers.

When I saw this recipe I figured it would be something new, in a crunchy shell (which makes everything better) and can have chicken added for my dear carnivore.

LOTS OF CHOPPING! But after the chopping prep there’s just stirring and eating!

  • 1 medium yellow squash, chopped into small chunks (1 cup)
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped into small chunks (1 cup)
  • 1 small onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, de-seeded, ribs removed and chopped (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 medium sweet potato or yam, peeled and chopped (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • One (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • One (10-ounce) can original Ro-Tel (tomatoes + chiles)
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1/2 t smoked paprika
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 1/2 t dried oregano
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 to 12 taco-sized corn tortillas
  • canola or vegetable oil
  • To serve with tacos: avocado, shredded cheese, lettuce, sour cream, lime wedges

NOTE: I used crunchy taco shells, the ones that stand on their own … it’s the preferred thing here, and I have enough battles without taco shells being one of them.

NOTE NOTE: Nope, next time there will be NO Ro-Tel, but a can of diced tomatoes. This packs enough flavor without all the heat which makes some of the delicate palates here frown!

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a large, rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray.

Veggies

Add all of your vegetables to a large bowl and toss with the olive oil. Spread the veggies on the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast 15 minutes, stir, roast another 15 minutes, stir again, and roast one more time for 15 minutes (45 minutes total). The veggies can be roasted ahead of time, just refrigerate until ready to make the tacos.

In a medium skillet, heat the black beans and tomatoes over low heat.

Spices

In a small bowl, combine the spices (cumin through pepper). Sprinkle the spices over the beans and tomatoes and stir to combine. Add the roasted veggies, stir to combine and continue to heat until the mixture is completely warm.

All that’s left is to assemble the tacos! Around here the veggies were int he pan with bowls of avocado slices, limes, lettuce, and shredded cheese. Grilled shredded chicken on the side for those who like more protein!

 

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