July 28, 2010

Think Happy Thoughts!

It's been so hot! Stepping outside feels like you're instantly covered in a steaming, heavy blanket. But, we are blessed with air conditioning and so we stay inside a lot and think happy thoughts! Thoughts of autumn, cool nights, ahhhhh... I love summer for many reasons, but I've been a girl that hides out from the heat since I was very little - I think it's the Irish blood in me!

First happy thought - these cupcakes that we made for Father's Day. I promised a Maine friend that I would post the recipe and I've finally gotten around to figuring out how I combined and altered two recipes to get a new recipe for these. The recipe for these Lovely Lemon-filled Coconut Cupcakes is on the recipe page. Click the link here, or click the tab up-top.

Second happy thought - finding a recipe for cinnamon rolls that taste like the ones you get in the mall! But these are made in the bread machine and are much less complicated because of that. The recipe comes from a site called "Tasty Kitchen" and it's a great recipe source. This photo is obviously the uncooked rolls, and I thought they were so appealing even at this stage! The recipe also includes instructions for doing these by hand if you don't have a bread machine. They have lots of cinnamon in them and the frosting recipe is quite good, and in my DH's words - "better than just a blob of sugar on top".

Third happy thought - we continue to discover more ways to make wonderful burger toppings! These are made with our grass-feed beef and had fresh oregano added (our only thriving herb at this point - bah!), plus some Romano cheese and crushed fennel seed. The pepper and onion topping was particularly good since it involved reducing some balsamic vinegar.

I reduced about a 1/3 C of balsamic vinegar by heating it gently for around 5 minutes. It starts to look glossy on the sides of the pan when it's ready. It will thicken quite a bit once it's cooled. I ended up with about 2 Tbs. of reduced vinegar in the end. This process intensifies the flavor very nicely and also won't add unwanted liquid to the food your cooking. BTW, if the heat is too high, this will easily scorch.

Then I added the reduced balsamic to this wonderful mess of yellow peppers and red onions and heated it through for another couple of minutes. Very happy meal!

Fourth happy thought - there are more ways to eat fresh corn than just off the cob. In fact there are some really wonderful, simple salads like this one, that are fantastic. This has minced red onion, fresh basil, apple cider vinegar, oil, and S&P - that's it and it was great! I'm sure you could make these salads with frozen or canned corn but it wouldn't be the same as the creamy, sweet flavor of fresh corn. Fresh corn is definitely one of those things I DO like about summer!

Fifth and final happy thought - we have plans t to have lunch on Saturday with my grandmother, my dad and my stepmom! Grandma is 100 and spending time with her is pretty amazing, and my dad and stepmom are visiting from Colorado. Our pastor always speaks some very enriching words during his introduction of communion each Sunday. This past week he told us to look around and realize that God had given us to each other as gifts. I certainly feel that way about my family as well, and I cherish these gifts each day. Happy thoughts for sure!

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