Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Salted Caramel Macaroons ♥

 
Hello Friends! How was your Easter weekend? I'll tell you about our day in a minute, but first I want to share with you this recipe for salted caramel macaroons.  I just can't wait!
 
My plan was to make a coconut cake for Easter and then I saw this recipe.  It was the first time I've ever made salted caramel anything. I'm officially hooked!  I think I could drizzle this stuff on just about anything and it would taste good. No joke!
 

 
 
 
I got the recipe from one of my Favorite blogs: Shutterbean.com.  Tracy has the most amazing recipes! They are easy to follow and everything I've ever made from her blog always comes out great. Her blog is beautiful! She has a little of everything you are looking for - from delicious salads to the most decadent deserts.  She's super funny too and has an adorable little boy. She's pretty much got it all as far as I'm concerned ♥
 
Here's how to make Tracy's macaroons:
 
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 14oz. bag sweetened shredded coconut
2 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
 
 
 
 
In a large bowl mix the sweetened condensed milk, coconut, and vanilla.  Slowly stir in the coconut and mix until well combined.  In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until very stiff peaks form (about 2 minutes).
 
 
 
 
Gently fold in the egg whites.
 

 


Using a spoon or 1 1/2 ice cream scoop (that's what I used) form mixture into balls and place them about 1 inch apart on baking sheet.  Bake 20 - 25 minutes.





Keep a close eye on them after 20 minutes.  They will turn golden brown and the edges will get nice and crispy!


 
 
Remove from the oven and let rest for about three minutes.  After that transfer to a cooling rack.  I slid the entire sheet of parchment right from the cookie sheet to the cooling rack so I would not disturb the cookies. 
 
 
 
While the cookies are cooling you can make the caramel.  Place sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat and do not touch until sugar starts to melt. It will turn clear to pale yellow and then start to darken. When it starts to boil stir rapidly until it gets nice and smooth & there are no lumps.  When the sugar turns a copper color (above) add the butter and sea salt.  Remove from heat. 
 

 
 
Working quickly, drizzle the caramel over the cooled macaroons.  When you look at Tracy's blog you will see that her caramel was drizzled nice and neatly.  Mine didn't come out as pretty, but thankfully, no one seemed to mind ♥
 
 

 
These macaroons are slightly crispy on the outside and chewy and delicious on the inside! I couldn't resist sampling one (or two) while the caramel was still hot. YUM!
 

 
 
I left a few plain (without caramel) just in case anyone preferred it.  They are just as good!
 
 
 
 
We had a beautiful day for Easter! The sun was shining brightly on our Egg Tree! My little one woke up at 6:30 am and found all the eggs the Easter Bunny hid before I even finished my first cup of coffee! He tore through his Easter basket like you wouldn't believe. It was so fast I didn't even get a picture! After inhaling a package of Peeps its amazing how fast a six year old can move! Lightning speed!
 
We got dressed, went to Church, and then off we went to our family celebration.
 
 
 
 
My Mom made a delicious turkey dinner for our family.  I enjoyed it with a glass of rosé wine ♥ 
 

 
 
 
Followed by another egg hunt and lots of candy and chocolate!  
 
 
 
 
We ended the day with a walk around the neighborhood to digest. John road his new scooter he got from the Easter Bunny. It felt really good to breathe in the fresh Spring air and see the pretty flowers blooming all around us.  Not a snowflake in sight! Spring has finally arrived! We made it ♥
 
 
 
 
I hope you had a lovely Easter holiday too! I'm still knee deep in Cadbury Mini Eggs! I keep eating them but they won't seem to go away. Every day there are more and more.  I have a serious problem on my hands (and thighs!). 
 
Bye! xo
 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Fruit salsa with cinnamon sugar pita chips

 
 
Hello Friends! I hope you are all having a wonderful week.  I'm so happy it's Friday and the weekend is finally here!!! : ) 
 
With this burst of Spring weather we're having I'm getting motivated to eat lighter and healthier.  I hate to say it, but bathing suit weather is right around the corner!! eek!!!  With all of my winter eating I can hardly bare the thought of it. 
 
For a treat this week, instead of my usual chips and dip, I opted for something a little more refreshing.  I gathered up some of my favorite fruits, mixed them with lime juice, cinnamon & sugar, and made a fruit salsa. The sweetness of the fruit hit the spot.  I also made cinnamon sugar pita chips to scoop it up with! It was a good idea.
 
This fruit salsa is so delicious you won't be able to stop eating it.  It's the perfect appetizer for Easter or your first outdoor gathering of the season!  Kids will love it and its looks very pretty on the table ♥
 
 
 

You can use any fruit that you want, but here is how I like to make it:

1 apple - cored and diced (I left the skin on)
1 pint (2 cups) strawberries, sliced
3 kiwis, peeled and diced
1/2 cup mango or pineapple chunks (I used mango)
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

In a large bowl combine chopped fruit, lime juice, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Stir to combine.  Cover and chill in refrigerator at least 20 minutes.  I left mine overnight. 




The fruit will get sweet and delicious.  You can see bits of cinnamon and nutmeg on the fruit.  It's soooo good! ♥




For the pita chips - preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut pita rounds (I used whole wheat ones) into triangles.  Arrange in a single layer on a foil lined cookie sheet.  Brush each triangle with a little olive oil.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and bake for 5 minutes.  Let cool.  (You could also season them with sea salt and pepper - click here for more ideas : )



Now you have your salsa and your chips. Get dippin'!


 
 
Leftover salsa is  yummy stirred into plain yogurt, on top of ice cream, on top of pancakes, or just dump it all into the blender and make a smoothie! So many possibilities!
 
The weather was so beautiful this week that I was able to take these photos outside on my deck!  My hubby set up the patio table and we had our first cup of coffee outdoors yesterday.  I hope to be able to take my book out there this weekend and enjoy a little fresh air while I read. It's the little things that make me happy : )  
 
I hope you all have a great weekend! Happy Friday! ♥

Monday, April 7, 2014

Hello April ♥


Happy April! We've finally made it and April has come in like a lamb!  The sun is shining and there is a comforting warmth in the air.  I'm wearing a short sleeve shirt today for the first time in months! Flowers are popping up all over the place and all of a sudden there is COLOR in the world again.  I am loving April! Here is a quick list of what life has been like for me lately.

Currently...

Watching: Flowers blooming! There is life after winter!
Reading: The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
Listening To: My son reading! Every night he reads to me. I never want to forget his little first grade voice.  I love it! : )
Making:  Home! I did Spring cleaning yesterday and boy did this house need it.  I put out some Easter decorations and even emptied out our china cabinet and shined up all the glass.  The air feels cleaner already.  Dust-be-gone!
Feeling: More motivated that I have in a while.  Thinking about bringing my bike out of hibernation and start riding it again. I need to get a cute helmet
Planning: New blogs posts! Yesterday I went to the library and came home with a stack of books I'm using for research.  I'm thinking about taking my blog in a new direction. I have lots planned for the Spring!
Loving: Eating avocados! My recent obsession is avocado mashed on toast in the morning.  Yum!





I hope your April is off to a wonderful start! I'm off to get more coffee and then dive into these books while I have the chance.  Happy Monday, friends!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Irish Bread ♥



Hello Friends! We have finally made it to March!  (I'm going to totally ignore the miserable weather and concentrate on all that is good about March : ) On Saturday night we turned the clocks ahead, which means I am no longer driving home from work in the dark.  Yay!  I feel like the nights are longer when we aren't eating dinner in the dark. I'm seeing more and more birds appearing in the yard and I'm eagerly anticipating my flowers sprouting.  My hubby said he saw some buds poking through in the backyard today but I haven't ventured back there yet.  I'm hoping to see purple crocuses!  Fingers crossed!


 
 
March also means St Patrick's Day is coming.  We'll go to my parent's house for our annual boiled dinner.  We only eat it once a year so maybe that's why it tastes so good.  I also bought myself a lucky shamrock plant at the market and I made Irish Bread ♥
 
 
 
 
 
 
Do you like Irish Bread? This recipe is particularly good.  I got it from a friend of mine at work a few years ago.  Irish Bread has a tendency to be dry, but not this one. It has sour cream in it which makes the bread very moist. The recipe also calls for a sprinkle of sugar on top before baking which adds a sweetness to it.  It's so good!
 
 
 
 
 
Here's how to make it:
 
1 cup raisins
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1 1/2 sticks butter, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 eggs
  
 
 
 
 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
 
Grease a 10 inch round baking pan. 
 
Soak raisins in a small bowl of boiled water and put aside for about 5 minutes.  Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together. Mix in the caraway seeds.  Drain raisins and add to the flour mixture. 
 
 
 
 

In a separate bowl mix the melted butter, sugar, sour cream, and eggs.  Blend alternately with flour mixture until everything is combined into a smooth, creamy batter. 
 
 

 

Pour batter into pan and sprinkle the top generously with sugar. 
 
 
 

Bake for one hour.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes then turn onto rack to cool.
 
 
 
 
I usually put a little butter on Irish Bread, but with this recipe you really don't need it.  It's perfect as is.  FYI - It's also yummy with cream cheese on it! But honestly, what isn't good with cream cheese on it?
 
Nothing : )
 
 


I'll have to make another loaf for our St Patrick's Day desert since this one is already gone. 
 
 
 

I'm starting to slowly bring out my Spring decorations starting with this sunhat (that my mother made for me ♥ ) and hung it on the front door.  I'm hoping it wards away snow and any other possible storms coming our way.  Winter, we are so over you!
 
 
 
 
So that's March! How's it going for you so far?
 
Spring is almost here! xo
 

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Language of Flowers ♥

 
Do you have Spring Fever? I sure do! It's still freezing here and more snow is expected Sunday night. Ugh. The good news is that tomorrow is March 1st! There is light at the end of this cold and icy tunnel. 
 
Spring is on it's way! ♥
 
 
 
 
I've been doing a lot of day dreaming about my garden.  What it will look like and smell like this year.  And how nice it will be to have fresh flowers on the kitchen counter every morning.  I love flowers in the house. They make ordinary days feel like special days. 
 

There is a language, little known,
Lovers claim it as their own.
Its symbols smile upon the land,
Wrought by nature's wondrous hand;
And in their silent beauty speak,
of life and joy, to those who seek.
For love divine and sunny hours
In the language of the flowers.
-The Language of Flowers, London, 1875


Have you ever wondered what your favorite flowers symbolizes?  We all know that a Rose means love, but what about all the others  All flowers have meanings.  In fact, they have their own language.




The language of flowers goes all the way to back to Biblical Times and the Middle Ages. Herbs were believed to have magical powers and given a place of honor in royal gardens. In England during the reign of Queen Victoria (from 1837-1909) known as the Victorian Era, the language of flowers was as important to people as being "proper" and "well dressed".  Flowers adorned everything from hair, clothing, jewelry, home décor, china, and stationary.  Flowers had religious and symbolic meanings and still do today.  Flowers would convey messages of love or dislike, depending on whom you gave them to. 



Tussie-mussies were also introduced in the Victorian era, which are small bouquets of flowers, wrapped in a lace doily and tied with a satin ribbon.  Each had it's own meaning and a single central flower. The tradition quickly spread with the publication of flower dictionaries explaining the meaning of plants, flowers, and herbs.  It soon became popular to send flowers to convey secretive messages. In Victorian times it may not have been proper etiquette to express ones feelings.  In this case a suitor may send a lady a red rose to symbolize his undying love.  In return she could send him a white violet which meant "let's take a chance on happiness". If she disliked him she could send him a broken straw which meant "broken agreement" or a yellow carnation which was a clear sign of rejection.


 

The Victorians certainly had a romantic way of communicating ♥


 

 After all these years, the language of flowers still speaks to us. Here is a list of a few of my favorite flowers and their meanings ~


The Crocus symbolizes cheerfulness and gladness.  This is always the first flower I see blooming in my garden, so the meaning seems appropriate.  Especially after this winter ♥




The Daisy symbolizes purity, innocence, loyal love, beauty, patience, and simplicity.  And according to Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail, they are also the happiest flower.  I agree.  It's like they are smiling at you.


 

The Daffodil symbolizes unrequited love, chivalry, regard, sunshine, and respect. 




The Geranium symbolizes a true friendship, folly, and meeting. 




Gladiolas symbolize strength, splendid beauty, and love at first sight. 




The Gardenia symbolizes secret love, purity, and refinement. 




Impatiens symbolize motherly love.  (We plant these in our flower boxes every year.) 




The Iris symbolizes faith, wisdom, cherished friendship, hope, valor, my compliments, promise in love, and wisdom.




Hyacinths symbolize games, sport, rashness, and playful joy.  I adore the scent of these! ♥




Holly symbolizes defense, domestic happiness, and forecast.  I think it's ironic that Holly is associated with defense. Have you ever tried to cut a Holly branch?  The leaves are so sharp!


 
 via

The Lilac symbolizes beauty, pride, and youthful innocence. 




The Peony symbolizes a happy marriage, compassion, and bashfulness.  




The Petunia symbolizes "your presences soothes me".  ♥




The Poppy symbolizes beauty, magic, consolation, fertility, and eternal life.  And no matter how hard I try I can't get The Wizard of Oz out of my mind. 




The Rhododendron symbolizes beware and caution.  Interesting.




Tulips symbolize fame and perfect love. Red tulips mean "believe me" and are a declaration of love. Yellow tulips mean "there's sunshine in your smile".  And cream tulips mean "I will love you forever". Variegated tulips mean "you have beautiful eyes".




Sweat Peas symbolize bliss, delicate pleasure, goodbye, departure, and thank you for a lovely time.




Carnations symbolize fascination, impulsiveness, joy, devoted love, and admiration.  Although yellow carnations symbolize "you have disappointed me", and rejection.  Ouch.





Hydrangeas symbolize "Thank you for understanding". 




If you want to see what your favorite flower symbolizes I found a couple of websites that are very informative. I gathered most of the information for this post from both of these websites.  In my search for flowers, I also accidentally learned some interesting Victorian Era etiquette facts that I will hopefully share in another post : )

www.victorianbazaar.com
www.proflowers.com

Flowers decorate our lives. They make us feels good just by looking at them, let alone by smelling them. Flowers are also memories. My mom puts lilies of the valley on her bedside table as soon as they bloom in the Spring. Whenever I see lilies of the valley I think of her.  I will get myself a pink tulip from the market for Easter and think of my Nana and blue hydrangeas always remind me of my sister because they were her favorite.  Flowers touch us all in special ways.  During the doldrums of winter (like, NOW) I dream of seeing these lovely blooms outside my window.  Their sweet scent filling the air, conveying messages straight to my heart.

I love flowers.  I think you do too ♥


 


xoxo