Monday, July 30, 2012

Another great family weekend...

To start the weekend right, Emmerson and I baked these cookies on Friday afternoon. She has become quite a little chef. She just needs to be reminded not to eat the sugar and butter.

On Saturday morning, we made a last-minute decision to drive to Delafield. We haven't been since hiking last summer and we love to walk around the cute town and reminisce about our wedding.

We stopped in at the bakery for fresh-baked bread, bought Emmerson some new clothes, had lunch and bought some vegetables and eggs at the farmer's market.

We finished the night with a family movie and those delicious cookies. And here's Emmerson being her usual goofy, fun-loving, can't-stop-moving-for-a-picture self. I couldn't have asked for a better weekend!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Zucchini corn cakes

After seeing the fresh fruits and vegetables at the farmer's market today, I was inspired to create a recipe using seasonal vegetables. The results were delicious.

1 zucchini grated (1 c)
2 ears of corn (3/4 c fresh, uncooked kernels)
1/4 c minced onion
1 grated or minced garlic clove
1 T basil finely chopped (any herb will work as a substitute)
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
1/3 c flour
1 1/4 t baking powder
2 eggs
1 1/2 T milk
Salt and pepper
Sour cream (optional)

Whisk together flour, baking powder, eggs, milk and a generous amount of salt and pepper until smooth.

Grate the zucchini, squeeze out excess water and add to egg mixture. Remove corn from cob and add to bowl. Mix in onion, garlic, basil and parmesan.

Grease griddle or pan with butter and heat to 300 degrees. Use 1/4 c batter for each cake (I used a greased ice cream scoop). Flip when golden brown. Serve with sour cream or plain yogurt.

Have a happy weekend!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Shades of blue

Each day the lake looks different - and we never get used to it. We feel incredibly fortunate to have this view.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Strawberry vanilla popsicles

I hope you had a good weekend. Friday night we watched music in the square with friends. Our little one sure loves dancing - it was difficult to get a picture!

Saturday and Sunday, I feel like I got something and nothing done all at the same time. I decided to paint our mudroom, so I taped Friday afternoon (I so wish I was one of those people that could paint without it). I spent most of Saturday painting and Sunday morning touching up. 

I've been busy the last two days trying to catch up and get things done that I didn't do last weekend. I haven't been in the kitchen much lately, but I did make some delicious strawberry vanilla popsicles one night when we were craving something sweet.

1 package vanilla pudding
2 c skim milk
1 c whipped topping (cool whip or truwhip)
3 T strawberry jam

Prepare pudding as directed on the package. Allow pudding to cool slightly, then stir in jam and whipped topping. Pour into molds and freeze overnight.

Friday, July 20, 2012

"Make new friends and keep the old"

Does anyone remember that song from girl scouts? One is silver and the other's gold. Okay, moving on.

This article caught my eye yesterday because it’s a topic my husband and I have discussed. We have found that it's hard to make new friends because we have limited time and we like to go out together, so we come as a pair. And the only thing more difficult than making one new friend is making two – couple friends we both click with. But when it happens and the feelings are mutual, it works so so well.

Although it’s harder to make friends in your 30s, in some ways it may be easier. I know who I am and probably attract a different kind of friend than I did in high school or college. Even though I don’t get to see friends consistently and when I do it’s difficult to have an uninterrupted conversation, I believe some of my “new” friends know me better (because I know myself better) and we have more in common. 

That being said, I do love seeing “old” friends that I’ve known for years. There’s a history there. It’s fun to reminisce and see how much we’ve all changed.

Cheers to friends, old and new. I wouldn’t be the same without you. 

Have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Chocolate pudding popsicles

Our kind friends brought us a housewarming gift when they came to visit a couple weekends ago. Among the great gifts was popsicle molds and a recipe book, so I have been experimenting with popsicle recipes.

I made root beer float popsicles (vanilla frozen yogurt and flat root beer). More recently, I made chocolate pudding popsicles using a pudding mix.

I googled a couple different recipes and found that the trick is to add cool whip or frozen whipped topping (we use truwhip) so they are creamy, not icy.

I made the pudding according to the instructions on the package (using skim milk to keep it light), allowing it to cool slighting. Then I added one cup of truwhip and poured it into six molds. 

They definitely beat the store-bought version!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

No electricity

At 6:00 last night, we lost power in a storm. Two things happened. I realized we spent too much time with our electronics - checking emails, on the internet and watching mindless television. Secondly, when the rooms darken as the sun sets, we get tired and it’s much easier to fall asleep. I know, this should be common sense, right?

The neighborhood kids were out playing during the outage and we reminisced about how fun it was when the electricity went out as kids. I don’t exactly remember why that was though.

I did have this weird sense that it was “stolen” time or extra time in the day. It’s silly, but maybe it’s just because the clocks were out so I wasn’t aware of the time. I did some cleaning, took a bath with Emmerson, had a quiet dinner prepared on the grill, ate popsicles (we had to because everything was melting), and we read stories in bed until the sun went down.

It was a rare, calm night that reminded me to turn off the computers and television, keep it simple and be present. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

The last week...

I hope you had a good weekend. We have been busy enjoying the warm, sunny weather. My sister was home for a few days and my mom had off work!

My mom, sister and I spent the night in Chicago, shopping and talking. It was nice to get away for the night and catch up without the interruption of a small child.

But I couldn't wait to get back to my little girl. Yesterday, we made pancakes and had a relaxing breakfast on the patio.

Later we went to our neighborhood pool and had an experience that has kept me thinking. As my husband and I were showing Emmerson how to kick while holding onto the edge of the pool, a lifeguard came up to us and told us that our daughter's life jacket was not allowed because "it gives kids a false sense of security." I can understand this argument, but our daughter has started to develop some uncertainty of water and we feel it helps her be more comfortable so we can teach her to swim, and it's also easier for me to hold her up in the water. We certainly don't believe it takes the place of our constant attention. I would have been satisfied if the lifeguard had given us a compelling reason as to how it impacts the lifeguards ability to do their jobs, but her reason made me believe the rule was a little invasive. Isn't it my choice as a parent? I would love to get your feedback.

Emmerson had so much fun though, with or without the life jacket and we'll definitely be back.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Easy weeknight meal: Chicken roll-up

This simple weeknight meal has become a staple in our house. I can make it earlier in the day when I still have the energy and pop it in the oven 30 minutes before dinner. 

We call this a "meat roll" (sounds gross, hence the new name) even though it's equal part vegetable. But sadly, "vegetable roll" would be like a curse word around here.

3/4 lb ground chicken thigh (or ground turkey)
5 oz package baby spinach (kale or another hearty green would work too)
5 sheets of phyllo dough (Or is it fillo? Does anyone know the difference?)
2 oz goat cheese
1 garlic clove grated
1 t olive oil
1/2 t each of dried basil and oregano (or 1 t Italian seasoning)
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

Cook ground chicken thigh and garlic clove with a teaspoon of olive oil in a fry pan over medium/high heat. Add dried herbs, salt and pepper in last minute of cooking. Drain chicken and set aside.

Add spinach (or another green) into hot pan. Sauteed for 1-2 minutes with salt and pepper until wilted. While spinach is cooling, lay out five sheets of phyllo dough. Mist each sheet with cooking spray and layer them on top of each other. 

Squeeze the excess water from the spinach and add to the bowl with the ground chicken. Put the chicken mixture at the bottom of the phyllo dough leaving an inch and a half of dough at the bottom and the edges. Crumble goat cheese and sprinkle on top the chicken. Starting from the bottom, roll the dough, folding in the edges (like a burrito). Use a little warm water to seal the edges. Cut 4 or 5 slits on the top to vent.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until light brown. Allow it to cool for 15 minutes before serving. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Lighter Lemon Bars

My favorite recipes are lighter, but still full of flavor. This recipe was a hit at our 4th of July party and no one suspected it wasn't made with the traditional eight egg yolks. It was a refreshing end to our meal. 

Crust Ingredients
3/4 c flour
1/3 c powdered sugar
3 T cornstarch
1 1/2 t grated lemon zest
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
4 T cold butter cut into 1/2" pieces
1 T whole milk*

Topping Ingredients
3/4 c sugar
1 egg plus 1 egg white
2 T flour
1/8 t salt
1 T grated lemon zest
6 T lemon juice*

**You can substitute skim milk for whole milk, and since there wasn't a ripe, juicy lemon at a grocery store in the Milwaukee area, I used four tablespoons lemon juice and two tablespoons lemonade.

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8x8 baking dish with foil and coat foil with cooking spray. 

Pulse dry crust ingredients in food processor. Add the milk and butter and pulse a few times until it resembles wet sand. Transfer to baking dish and press into an even layer. Bake for 15 minutes until edges are very light brown. Do not over bake.

Lower oven temperature to 325 and allow crust to cool. Whisk first four ingredients together until smooth. Add lemon zest and lemon juice. Pour into crust and bake at 325 for 15 to 20 minutes until set.

Allow bars to cool for one hour. Dust with additional powdered sugar. And enjoy a delicious summer treat!

Friday, July 6, 2012

The only thing that matters

As I sit here, I am a blogger, a reader of a dozen websites and blogs daily, a full-time mother, wife, chef, decorator, dog walker and housekeeper. There are so many daily influences and pressures, I can feel like I’m just not doing enough.

When it’s a particularly busy day, I will rush to put Emmerson down for a nap. Often, she falls asleep. But there are times when she fusses and cries until I go back in her room. I pick her up and rock her in my arms, kiss her soft skin. All she needs is her mommy. She reminds me that I am always doing enough.

I don’t have to be a gourmet chef, a gardener, a professional anything. I don’t have to focus on all that I’m not or the things I can do better. I just have to make her feel like the most important, loved person ever born. And to me she is just that.

Have a lovely weekend.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The 4th of July! And a summer salad recipe.

Yesterday was one of those rare days when everything is perfect and relaxing: a successful potty training day, a happy toddler, sunny weather, delicious food, catching up with family and the most amazing firework display from our backyard.


We went to the parade followed a dinner of barbeque chicken, cucumber salad, fruit salad and the only summer salad you'll ever need to know.


4 ears of sweet corn
2 pints of cherry or grape tomatoes
1 large avocado
2 scallions
1 lime
1/4 c feta cheese
2 slices of bacon crumbled (optional)

Grill the sweet corn on low to medium for 10 minutes until slightly tender. While the corn is cooling, halve the tomatoes, chop the avocado and finely chop the scallions.

Cut the corn from the cob and add it to a bowl with tomatoes, avocado and scallions. Squeeze lime juice over the top (for flavor and to keep the avocado from browning). Mix together with a generous amount of salt and pepper.

Before serving, sprinkle with feta cheese and bacon.

© Lake House Effect. Made with love by The Dutch Lady Designs.