the kids are alright (we’re ok too) and why it’s important to have girl time…

IMG_2128 every once in a while a few of my friends get together for some much-needed girl time.  we are all moms and sometimes we need to take a  few hours to cut loose without the kids.  once, we made what could have been an ill-fated trip to ikea in portland, but instead it turned into a wonderful day-long road trip with a stop in hood river, great food, beer, conversation and company.  even though things didn’t go as planned, the day turned out better than we could’ve imagined!IMG_2213this weekend we got together at my house on one of the hottest days of the year and we just hung out in my kitchen drinking cucumber freshies, talking about life, sex, kids and having a great time unwinding from life.  we actually all had our kids with us this time and, even though they ranged from 17 months to 15 years, everyone got along splendidly and had a blast playing and watching movies downstairs while we hung out.

the afternoon turned into an impormptu dinner of salmon, rice and corn that my husband cooked for all of us and the kids.  a significant other or two joined us and we had a most lovely evening.IMG_2183when i think about the bond i have with this particular group of women, i realize that the most common factor is that we are all moms.  we are all strong women and our mom-ness doesn’t define us but it is definitely something very important to each of us. it joins us in a kind of unspoken understanding.  it doesn’t phase us that, more often than not, we don’t finish a sentence because someone little interrupts us, or that the conversation can bounce from subject to subject in the blink of an eye with no cohesion.  i love the bond that i have with these women.  we are all so different, but so much the same too.

cheers, girls.  i love you.

e

p.s. i’m working on getting the cucumber freshies recipe posted along with the apricot goat cheese bites.

cake of the mondays: strawberry lemonade cupcakes

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yesterday was gloomy and today isn’t much better.  only little bits of blue sky peeking out from behind some seriously grey clouds.  and, the boys are cranky.  so, what could be better for a house with a Case of the Mondays (that continued into tuesday) than another Cake of the Mondays?

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christopher and i had gotten a giant box of strawberries from costco last week and some weren’t looking so great anymore and i needed to do something with them before i had to toss them out.  so, i cut up about two cups of strawberries, added a tablespoon of sugar and a tablespoon of lemon juice and smashed them up with my potato masher.  then i mixed up a quick batch of Bisquick® Velvet Crumb Cake.

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this is my favorite easy cake recipe.  i use it as the base for my strawberry shortcake, raisin cupcakes and just about any other simple white cake i need.  it’s a little heavier than a normal cake but not quite like a pound cake.  i also never have made the coconut topping in the original recipe.  i always just make the cake part!  and just in case you are wondering, this is not a sponsored post.  i just really like this recipe and i use Bisquick® pretty often from pancakes to muffins.

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i lined two cupcake tins with papers (i got 21 cupcakes out of this recipe, but you could fill the cups with more batter and get about 16 cupcakes) and preheated the oven to 350°.  i zested one lemon and juiced it.  i used 1/2 cup of lemon juice in place of the water/milk in the recipe because i wanted a nice, zippy lemon flavor.

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then i mixed all the ingredients together.  it is kind of lumpy and a little thick, so don’t worry.  then i took about 1 1/2 cups of the strawberry mash (reserve 1/2 cup for the frosting) and gently folded it into the batter.  this makes the batter way thinner than the recipe usually is, but that’s ok.  also, because of the lemon juice, your cakes won’t rise as much.  i didn’t care about this and sometimes, i like a denser (is that a word?) cake anyway.

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i used our good ol’ ice cream scooper to measure out batter into each cupcake liner.  bake for 15 minutes on two shelves in the middle of the oven and then rotate the tins.  bake for another 15 minutes.  baking times can vary and because this recipe is a little runnier with the strawberries in it, you may need to bake a bit longer.  i needed to let mine bake for an extra 10 minutes.

once the cupcakes are done baking (when a toothpick comes out clean,) cool on a cooling rack, completely.  i had a hard time figuring out what to frost these with, but finally decided on a simple strawberry whipped cream frosting.  whip up 1 cup heavy cream, 4 tablespoons sifted powdered sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.  when the cream is stiff and whipped, gently fold in the remainder of your strawberry mash and the lemon zest.  use an offset spatula or piping bag to frost the cupcakes.  store in the fridge until ready to eat.

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i love the big chunks of strawberry and lemon zest in the frosting!  the boys gave them two very enthusiastic thumbs up and they were a nice treat for an icky day.

such a great way to turn around a monday!

cheers,

e

merry christmas…

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merry christmas and happy holidays from everyone over here at the house of mayhem and chaos.  i hope your day is filled with joy and love and everything on your plates and in your glasses is absolutely delicious.  may you find peace, calm, serenity and love during this crazy-making time of year.

much love,

e

from the top: super buddies | the best damn bloody mary | jamie oliver’s comfort food – best. gift. ever. | mid-afternoon snack

some things that are pretty cool…

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because i’m not quite awake yet, (yes, i know i’m posting this at noon, but i didn’t get home from work until 2 am and the littles were noisy this morning) i decided to do a post for you listing some things i found online this week that i thought were pretty cool.

the food website that i’m obsessing over. be sure to check out their shop and this super-cool item

what i’ll be eating for breakfast + lunch for the next few weeks!

something to do with all those old t-shrits

the perfect summer dinner

i really want to make these

hopping on the kimono trend with this d.i.y.

one of the cutest dresses i’ve seen in a long time

what i’ll be making with the plethora of eggplant in my garden

look at these gorgeous nail colors

drinking this tomorrow

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cheers,

e

in the garden…

after a really lame garden experience last year (except for the zucchini!  god, there was so much zucchini!) we have a bumper crop of veg this summer.

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i love spending time in the garden with the boys.  they love eating all the veggies they are growing.  harry is especially proud of the sunflowers.  he planted some last year and the ones we have this year are volunteers.  i love seeing life sustain itself.

how does your garden grow?

cheers,

e

around the house…

 this las week has been a fun one with the boys’ 4th birthday, the columbia cup/water follies (a.k.a. hydroplane races) in town and christopher’s and my 6th wedding anniversary.  the boys and i watched the air show from our backyard and then moved down to the cul de sac so we could get a better view of the barnstormers and the jets doing their tricks.

i made a delicious family-recipe cake for the boys’ actual birthday and they loved blowing out their candles.

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i start a new job with more hours this week at a new tap house in town, so i’m boning up on my homebrew knowledge again by reading charlie papazian’s the complete joy of home brewing.  i am super-sad to be leaving the West Richland Beer and Wine Shop but i need to be able to earn a little more money as we have another year of preschool to pay for shortly.  this new place looks really cool and the owners seem really nice and flexible.  plus, they are twin parents, so that gives them an extra check in the “positive” column in my book.

our little kitty, leeloo dallas, is just the cutest kitten in the whole wide world, don’t you think?  she is super sweet and gets along famously with everyone in the family.  i’m glad we decided to keep her.

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christopher took the boys out on saturday to float the river near his sister’s house in benton city.  it was their first time on the river.  i couldn’t go because i had to work; and although i was really sad to miss it, they all had a wonderful time!  a-o river!

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christopher and i don’t tend to do gifts for anniversaries, especially now since money is tight, but i did pick up four ferns for the front porch since he mentioned that his childhood home had big ferns on the porch.  i think they look lovely.  we also splurged and got our favorite champagne.  his mom gave us a wonderful gift and we were able to go out to dinner at a little italian restaurant in our neighborhood and see a movie.  she watched the boys for us.  and, as an added bonus, we ran into two of our best friends and neighbors at the restaurant!

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and our little garden just keeps giving and giving!

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i hope you all had a wonderful week too!

cheers,

e

ipa pickled asparagus…

i love pickles.  it’s a problem and i’m admitting that.  i could eat them every day; at every meal.  and for snacks.  christopher once tried to impose a “pickle quota” which i politely laughed at as i crunched away.  i’m pretty specific in my pickle liking: dill only.  i can’t seem to get myself into sweet pickles.  i’ve tried, but i just can do it.  i love the dilly, garlicky, peppery crunch of a nice pickle.

i’ve recently started making my own and i’m pickling all sorts of things.  portlandia fans, you know what i mean, right?

anyway, here is what i pickled for our fourth of july bbq tomorrow: ipa pickled asparagus.

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yeah, you heard right india pale ale pickled asparagus. my motive was to have something yummy to munch on at the bbq but to also make something fun to garnish a bloody mary.  i love the idea of having a crunchy, beer-soaked asparagus spear in my bloody mary and  i plan on having marys in the morning, so hopefully there will be pickled asparagus left for the bbq!

oh, and if you want a kick-ass bloody mary recipe, the one i use is from cup of jo and it’s the “best bloody mary you’ll ever have.”  how can you not love that?!

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i adapted this recipe from the she likes beer blog.  here is my recipe.

2 bunches asparagus (aprx 2 lbs) trimmed to fit into quart mason jar

2 cups apple cider vinegar

24 oz beer – i used a “hop on or die”  doa ipa from day of the dead beer

8 cloves of garlic – smashed with the flat side of a knife

2 tbsp salt – i use kosher flaked salt

1/4 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

6-8 whole peppercorns

4 sprigs fresh dill

combine vinegar, salt and beer in a sauce pan.  heat to just boiling.  be careful because the salt and beer will make the mixture boil over really quickly.  while the beer/vinegar is heating up, divide garlic, spices and fresh dill between two quart jars.  add asparagus to jars.  once the mixture has boiled, put it into something you can pour from , like a pyrex measuring cup, or just pour the mixture into each jar from the sauce pan, leaving about 1/4 inch at the top.  screw on lids and rings and let cool.  once cooled, turn the jars over and shake up to move the spices around.

that’s it.  super easy and delicious. perfection.

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what will you be pickling this summer?

cheers,

e