Sunday, August 28, 2011

Fun Summer Treat –Ice cream Layered Pound Cake

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I LOVE ice cream.  It’s truly my favorite dessert item…especially really good vanilla bean ice cream.  One of my other favorite desserts is pound cake.  Now I’ve tried to make pound cake from scratch, but (don’t laugh) I feel like the folks over at Sara Lee have the pound cake thing down to a yummy science. 

So, here's an end of the summer dessert that's sure to please.  Vanilla bean ice cream and pound cake?  Heaven….just add your favorite berries and work FAST!

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Here’s what I did for a ‘hood BBQ a few weeks ago.  It was a hit and a simple dish to pass that you can whip up in no time.  Just make sure your hosts have room in the freezer!


Ice Cream Layered Pound Cake
  • 1 family sized Sara Lee Pound cake
  • 1.5 quarts vanilla bean ice cream, slightly softened (I used Edy’s Slow Churned…SO good!)
  • 1 to 2 cups fresh sliced strawberries
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
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In a bowl, sprinkle sugar over strawberries.  Stir until coated and set aside.  Cut pound cake (right out of the freezer) into horizontal thirds. 
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Lay bottom layer on serving dish.  Spread a layer of ice cream on pound cake and top with a single layer of strawberries. 
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Place middle layer on top.  Repeat the layer of ice cream and strawberries.  Place the top layer of pound cake on top. 
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Place entire serving dish and remaining ice cream into the freezer for an hour.   Use remaining ice cream to “icing” the entire outside of the layered cake. Work quickly!
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Place in the freezer again.  After ice cream has hardened, wrap in plastic wrap.  Must be frozen for at least 4 hours.  Place ice cream cake at room temperature for 20 minutes before slicing and serving. 
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The only thing I might change when I make this recipe again is the strawberries.  Since they were fresh strawberries, they froze up and the texture was slightly off. I was kind of in a hard situation…wait until the berries soften a little or will the ice cream melt by then?  It worked out and no one complained.  In the future, I might try mashing the berries and mixing them with some strawberry jam.  Not sure.  Have any of you ever tried something like this?  Berry issues?  I’d love to hear from you.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Back to School, Beach & Berries

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What a whirlwind we’ve been in these last few weeks.  The kiddos started school early this year which made summer seem WAY shorter than normal. 

Lanham started 3rd grade…

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Braden tried to steal his thunder…

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B-boy started pre-school the next day.

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He had to show off his new backpack…

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I can’t believe how much older he looks this year compared to last year.

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Our schedule is crazy town since the boys start an hour apart this year.  I’m getting my taxi license soon.  lol.

We were able to go my in-laws’ lake house a few times this summer and actually just went again this past weekend too.  It’s SO relaxing and beautiful there.  The Midwestern version of “beach”.

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Derek tried to teach the boys how to skip rocks.  It was a favorite activity this summer.

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Plus, my in-laws are the best hosts ever.  Great time had by all and I love that my kids have this place in their childhood memories forever.

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There was also time for end of the season blueberry picking.  Billy Boy’s Blueberry Farm is not too far from the lake house so we headed over there…in a rain storm!  Ha!  Therefore, no pictures of the actual picking part.  We all got pretty filthy, but it was SO worth it.  I made these yesterday with our blueberry loot.

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I used my Lemon Blueberry Muffin recipe from last year’s picking excursion.  We still have enough berries left for munching.  Blueberries straight off the bush are crazy good compared to the ones we usually have to settle for in the store.

Hope you all are surviving the craziness that is the back to school/end of summer season.  Before we know it, the leaves will be changing and “Which costume should I pick?” will be the hot topic amongst the boys.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Soup In The Summer? :: Minestrone With Chicken

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It’s been a hot one here in Chicagoland this summer and I guess everywhere in the U.S. for that matter.  So, I’m sure soup in the summer doesn’t sound all that appealing.  The other night I was looking to change up our typical grill fest of summer.  I had some chicken, zucchini, and mushrooms.  We always have pasta and beans.  I thought, why not.  Soup in the summer it is.

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Basically, I just used my Meaty Minestrone recipe, exchanging this and that to suit summer and chicken. 

Chicken Minestrone

  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes with juice
  • 3 cans fat free chicken (or vegetable) broth
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 cups of vegetable juice
  • 3 medium carrots, sliced
  • 1 zucchini sliced
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 1 lb. sliced mushrooms
  • 1 Tablespoon dried basil (I used fresh since we have TONS of it growing right now)
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 lb shell pasta, uncooked
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parmesan cheese, freshly grated

In a large stock pot, cook whole chicken breast meat in tomatoes, onion, garlic and broth.  Braise until done (about 10 –15 minutes).  Remove meat from pot and set aside.  Add carrots, zucchini and mushrooms. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook for an additional 10 minutes minutes. Cut cooked chicken into cubes.  Add chicken and beans to pot.  Cook over low to medium heat for approximately 30 minutes or longer to meld flavors. Add pasta 10 minutes before serving. Grate parmesan cheese over individual serving bowls and ENJOY!

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Tomatoes Have Landed

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I got a few messages from disturbed readers about my “puke-tale” yesterday.  Heck, even my neighbor said my fake slime mold puke made her almost puke.

So, I’ve decided to get back to my regular ol’ pretty picture self and share the fruits of our garden so far.

The first ripened tomato of the year…

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The Early Girl plant has been producing like crazy.  We’ve eaten quite a few, but many have fallen to Blossom End Rot (BER ).  Anyone else dealing with BER that wants to send some pointers my way?? 

I decided to take some size comparison photos this year for my gardening journal.  It makes it easier to decide what to plant next year.

The Early Girl again…

IMG_4954 early girlThe Husky Cherry plant has also been really prolific.  The fruit is sweet and juicy, perfect for salads and snacking.

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The Better Boy plant has given us one giant tomato almost each day for a week now.  We made salsa with a few of these the other night…DELISH!

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We’re still waiting on the Super Fantastic to ripen.  A few of the fruits have fallen to BER like the Early Girl.

A new crimp in my gardening style has been a new unknown critter making these little nibble marks…

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It hasn’t spared the bell peppers either…

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At first, I thought we had worms of some sort.  Then I found little droppings around the plants.  I’ll spare you that picture.  Any thoughts on what could be doing this?  Too small for a bunny.  We don’t have many large trees in the burbs, so there aren’t any squirrels.  Mice?  Do mice eat veggies?  We do have fields nearby. 

I’m at a loss on this one.  HELP!!!  If its not one thing, its another with the summer garden.  Highs and lows.  I’ll try to think of the highs while eating my salsa tonight.  Smashing any fears that some nocturnal veggie lovin’ mice are right outside my door eating my summer harvest.  

Better than puking cats in the front yard, I suppose.

Hello lover…

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Dog Vomit Slime Mold: To strange NOT to blog about it

Pin It So we’ve seen the below situation in our yard each year…

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Sometimes it turns darker and ashy like this…
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And sometimes it much more formed that like the first picture, but completely brown.

I thought it was just some oddity and that maybe it had to do with some sort of fungus.  We get powdery mildew on several bushes.  Must be an air circulation issue.  However, my seasoned gardener mother told me it was probably the “production” of some stray cat.  Ewwwww.  First bunnies, now cats?

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“It” reappeared each year, here and there mulched flower beds.  Every time I see it, I curse this feral and elusive cat that feels the need to vomit or crap in my yard.  Why me?
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Why white?

Then today, while searching for more info on blossom end rot (yes, it’s still haunting my tomatoes), I came across a gardening article that referred to something as “Dog Vomit Slime Mold”.  The above picture immediately popped in my head followed by “NO WAY!  It can’t be!”.

Yes.  Yes it CAN be.  Google turned up all sorts of fun facts about the so-called “Dog Vomit Mold”.  I even found this short video of a “garden surprise” complete with fun exclamations. 



There are mixed messages as to whether or not its harmful, but most extension sites said to just leave it alone.  It’s not the prettiest thing…it’s called “dog vomit mold” for a reason.  So you can just remove it with a shovel if you want. 

It happens to LOVE mulch, so I assume this will make ongoing appearances in our front landscaping.

However, I’m delighted that the “puke” isn’t coming from some cat with a bad attitude. Just a mold, that’s not really a mold, geeking out in my front yard because the conditions were just right.  Rock on slime mold.


And if you’re a nerdy science lover like myself, then you can find more information in this Chicago Trib article.

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Pinterest While Enjoying Homebrewed Iced Coffee

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So Pinterest is the latest buzz site around blogland these days.  I decided to check it out about a month ago and I’m totally hooked.  To me, its like having traveling bookmarks if that makes any sense.  Basically, you can “Pin” almost any picture that you find on the web to your Pinterest account.  Then when you have time to go back and check out that inspiring photo, its right there on your “pinboard”.  Simply click the pic and it takes you back to the site where you found it.  GREAT right?  I bookmark ideas ALL THE TIME.  However, they’re always on my web browser on my home computer.  Pinterest allows me to access my “idea file” from anywhere. 

No, they’re not paying me.  They should.  Pinterest, if you’re reading, I’m a huge fan.  HUGE!

A few of my favorite bloggers have been hosting a Pinterest Challenge of sorts.  Basically, encouraging pinners (made that up), ok…people who pin, to actually DO those things that inspire them.

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I mustered up all my braveness and tackled this:

Pinterest iced coffee

Yep.  Iced coffee.   Don’t you DARE laugh! Now it might not seem like a blog worthy cause to you, but I’m obsessed with coffee.  In the summer, that obsession turns to iced coffee. 

And anything that can keep money-money-money-MUUUN-AY in my wallet, rather than that big green drive-thru box is a good thing.

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And PW thought it was blog worthy.  And she’s a blog goddess.

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The cold brewed iced coffee recipe is fantastic, worked like a charm and I’m even more hyper than usual because of it.

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Maybe the my new found easy caffeine source will jolt me into some more Pinterest projects? 

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