Peppermint Mocha Cookies

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Any dessert that can be turned into a cookie is okay by me! Originally, this was just going to be a peppermint chocolate cookie. I got the idea because I wanted a special cookie to make for my kids while we watched The Polar Express. But those plans changed even though my cookie-making plans did not! This Christmas I’ve decided we’re not doing any sort of “special” school or prepared advent devotional for homeschoolers (though I am doing an adult one just for myself). I just can’t stress myself out with any added homeschool activities this year. I have four kids at home including a newborn and I work part-time. So this Christmas I’m giving myself a break from “special” school and as many outside activities as possible and we’re simply relaxing. To us, this means baking, watching movies, and reading books! One of the best gifts I can give my kids this year is a stress-free Mama! Without the agenda of feeling like we have to do an activity or Christmas lesson everyday, we are free to let the days come as they may and do what we please. So today, it pleased us to make some cookies and watch a movie (though not The Polar Express because we decided we’re watching that in our pajamas on Saturday morning with Daddy). πŸ™‚

So as I set out gathering the ingredients for what I envisioned to be peppermint chocolate cookies, I spotted the instant coffee granules in the pantry with the rest of my baking items. Since coffee enhances the flavor of chocolate, I picked up the canister. I wasn’t fully committed to using it yet, but I took it out just in case. Then, while I had the kids adding and stirring the other ingredients, I suddenly decided to add a tablespoon of instant coffee. We were now making MOCHA cookies, not just chocolate cookies. A-MAZING. I had no idea how this idea would really play out, but who cares? We’re stress-free this year, right?! I let all three kids plus myself test out the cookie dough and I could taste the coffee so distinctly that it actually reminded me of a mocha latte. I instantly knew these were a hit and couldn’t wait to try the final product.

These peppermint mocha cookies are so yummy! They will make a great addition to your holiday cookie repertoire. I actually made a maple pecan coffee to enjoy with mine, but they’ll go great with any latte or a glass of milk or eggnog! (The Ninja Coffee Bar recipe book has a great recipe for “coffee nog” that is delicious and is a great pair with ANY cookie, but especially ones with a hint of coffee!)

  • 2 cups flourIMG_1876
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 TB instant coffee
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • crushed peppermint candies

Sift together the flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon and set aside. Cream the butter and sugars together and then add the eggs, vanilla, and instant coffee. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ones and mix thoroughly. Stir in the chocolate chips. Place dollops of dough on baking sheets for the cookies and bake at 350* for about 10 minutes. As soon as they come out of the oven, sprinkle the crushed peppermint on top so it sticks to the hot cookies.

Here’s the printable!Β peppermint mocha cookies

Author Study: Laura Numeroff

24173502_10160028596480221_1856968276018453742_oWe just completed our second author study of the school year; Laura Numeroff! It was so fun! In October, we studied Eric Carle and you can read about that unit and download the materials from it on the linked post above. I love that it started a “routine” in Abby’s head so now she’s always asking, “What author are we studying next?” (Spoiler alert: it’s Jan Brett in January.) She saw me check out about a dozen of her books from the library to finish writing the unit and already can’t wait to get started!

Abby also recently got her own library card. I thought children had to wait until they were 6, but apparently it’s only 5 at our library. A whole year wasted! πŸ˜‰ They also have self check-out now, so she’s loving this! I feel like her newfound independence at the library goes hand-in-hand with the confidence she’s building in speaking about books and authors. She always talks about what we’re learning in school with such authority so it’s really fun to listen to her talk about familiar books and authors with other people.

IMG_20171116_085116We started the study with probably one of L.N.’s most famous books, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. GREAT excuse to make cookies, by the way! We then took a small poll of favorite cookies from our friends and family. Abby gave them only two choices: chocolate chip or sugar. Then she graphed her results. Chocolate chip won! We’re making a lot of Christmas cookies this year because that’s pretty much all I want to do–hang around the house in my yoga pants, watch Christmas movies, and bake. (Having a newborn kind of does that to you!) So we plan to take an even BIGGER poll soon and make a huge graph with those results! It isn’t exactly a part of the unit, but we’re adding it on because it seems like an appropriate time of year for it.

With each of our author studies, Abby has an accompanying journal where she writes and draws about each book we read. For this study, I created a separate section specifically for the circle stories where Abby would record the first full sentence of each book and draw a picture of her favorite scene. Then she had to do a story graph for each one. Every circle story has an animal character, a setting (like any story), a “thing” that starts and ends the story, and a big mess (or more than one) somewhere in the book. Abby determined and recorded all those elements for every circle story we read. I want her to be learning how stories are formed and the concept of outlining a work before writing it–this applies to more than just writing, but is an excellent tool for her to have in her “writer’s toolbox” as she moves forward in school. For some circle stories, I created an additional activity. If You Give a Moose a Muffin had a reality vs. fantasy chart, If You Give a Cat a Cupcake included a math game of sprinkles on cupcakes. Then there’s a game called “Spin a Word” which is fun to play and I added to the end of the circle story portion of the unit.

Then we moved on because L.N. has more than just circle stories. We read What Mommies Do Best and What Daddies Do Best and then talked about our family and she drew a picture of her family on large paper. We read Chimps Don’t Wear Glasses and Dogs Don’t Wear Sneakers and then she fantasized her own silly sentence of what an animal doesn’t do and wrote it down with a picture to go with it. (Hers was, “Hippos don’t dance.” and she drew a hippo in a tutu.)

Each author study also includes an author review page where the student can write what they learn about the author. Laura Numeroff made this easy for us with her book, If You Give an Author a Pencil. It was fun to read, had lots of photographs, and we learned a lot!

For the culminating project, Abby wrote her own circle story, which we outlined first with a story graph and then I recorded her ideas in an actual circle. As with her Eric Carle book that she wrote, I wrote the words of the story which she dictated to me, and then she copied my writing onto her book. I want her illustrations to be in the style of the illustrators, too, so for her Eric Carle book she used tissue paper. Felicia Bond illustrates Laura Numeroff’s circle stories and we researched to find that she uses watercolor for her illustrations, so that’s what Abby did as well. By the way, Staples binds these books spirally for super cheap, so it’s not hard to give your child a “professional” looking book of their very own! I have a laminating machine so I did that at home before bringing the pages into Staples. These are going to be great for us to look back on when Abby is older!

IMG_20171207_102046I’m including the lessons here for you to download, along with the student sheets we used. There is only one copy of each sheet needed here, so if you want to use a story graph or any other journal page more than once, keep in mind you’ll have to print the number of pages you desire. If you want to print the “Spin a Word” game, you should also laminate it and then insert a brad in each wheel and hook a paper clip to them as the spinners. I also laminated my word list so I can use it repeatedly as a “center” and she can use a dry erase marker to write down her words. I hope you find this author study as fun (and delicious!) as we did!

Laura Numeroff Author Study

LN Author Study Journal Pages

LN Cookie Graph

LN student sheets

Spin a Word game

Spin a Word Word List

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Candied Pecans and Homemade Caramel Sauce

10801666_10155062170015221_7583895898096585140_nThanksgiving is the food holiday. We all know this. It is the quintessential day for cooking, baking, and eating all sorts of autumn foods. It is the ideal holiday for me to host because I LOVE to cook and bake and I love fall. The problem is, I don’t have a house big enough to host my whole family… yet. But my husband and I have always said that when we buy our next house, it will be big enough to host Thanksgiving. That’s one of our essential criteria. I did host one year when we had a “fluke” year and the whole family couldn’t be together. I loved it. People came and went and we got to see lots of friends and family for different parts of the meal. It was fabulous. But I still long to host my entire family for a beautiful Thanksgiving feast.

Until then, I enjoy experimenting with different recipes for my “would be” Thanksgiving. And instead of having one big meal where we stuff ourselves too full to really appreciate all the aspects of the feast, I try something new here and there and we break it in with a simple meal where we’re already familiar with the other components. Then we can really appreciate and critique the new recipe. We have Thanksgiving “month” in a way. Here is one of the recipes I tried lately. We love ourselves some good cheesecake so why not make it pumpkin? And I frequently make homemade caramel sauce, so why not combine the two? I added the pecan component in the crust and topping because it’s another flavor of Thanksgiving and one of my favorite nuts. So if you’re looking for something different to try for your Thanksgiving dessert, look no further! It got our stamp of approval! And although I’m not in charge of dessert this year, my mom is and after she tried this cheesecake at our house, she decided she’s going to make it so I passed along the recipe.

I so wish I had a good picture of it, but I don’t. A new camera is on my Christmas wishlist! πŸ˜‰ Just close your eyes and imagine the cool, creamy cheesecake filling in a nice, crunchy crust just dripping with luscious caramel sauce and toasted pecans! The handy printable is at the end of the post for your convenience.

Crust:

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • ΒΎ cup pecan crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 stick melted salted butter

Filling:

  • 3(8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
  • 3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 Β½ tsps vanilla extract

Salted Caramel Sauce:

  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tsps vanilla
  • Β½ tsp of kosher salt

Pulse the graham crackers and pecans in a food processor until ground together. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter and pulse until combined. Press into the bottom of a greased 9” spring form pan.

Whip the cream cheese until soft and smooth. Add the pumpkin, eggs, sour cream, and sugar and whip until combined. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, flour, and vanilla and whip together until smooth. Pour over the crust.

Cover the bottom of the pan with aluminum foil and wrap it up the sides of the pan. Place it in a water bath of warm water and bake at 350* for an hour and a half, or until baked through.

For the caramel sauce, start by melting the butter on the stove in a medium saucepan. Add the brown sugar and stir until smooth. Add the heavy cream and simmer (stirring occasionally) for about 10 minutes, or until thickened. Add the vanilla and salt and let cool.

Toast some pecans in a skillet on the stove. Pour over some of the caramel sauce to β€œcandy” the nuts. Cook down for a few minutes. Pour the pecans (and extra caramel) over a slice of cheesecake!

Here’s your printable: pumpkin cheesecake

Eric Carle: An Author Study for First Grade

IMG_20171017_104441735When I was a teacher in the public school system, my last year teaching was CRAZY! I was transferred mid-year from a 4th grade SEI (Sheltered English Immersion) classroom to a 1st grade one because they needed another licensed ESL teacher at that level. It was a challenge, to say the least. I was a little overwhelmed coming back from winter break to a whole new classroom, set of kids, and grade level! I knew the kids would be overwhelmed, too. I wanted to start our time together with something fun, light, yet meaningful. So I wrote an author study on Eric Carle because his books are just that: fun and light! His pictures are bright and colorful and happy and I knew his books would inspire some fun lessons and art projects. His works are what began our new relationship; the first graders and me. We loved it. So began a small series of author studies in our classroom. And I found that I loved teaching 1st grade.

Now that my oldest daughter is in first grade with me teaching her at home, I have revamped my author studies, added more detail, and composed them in a neat package so that more people than just myself can understand the lessons. (You don’t want to look at my old lesson plan books, trust me!) I am so excited for this year with her–I’ve planned a different author for each month, more than what I was able to do in school, and it’s going to be great!

IMG_20171019_150836The thing I love about doing an author study in the 1st grade is that this is the year children typically start being able to read more independently. It’s a pivotal year in the young reader’s journey. What better way to nurture a love of reading than to introduce a child to a multitude of books and authors and really talk about things like writing style, voice, illustrations, and more? I want to give my child something else to talk about when she reads a book other than just whether she liked “it” or not. As she learns to read, I want her to have the confidence to pick books that will interest her, to be able to talk about the meaning in stories, and even the desire to pick out a book simply because the illustration appeal to her. So along with our other core curriculum, we’re going to spend this year studying different authors, their lives, their writing styles, and their illustrations. We are going to practice writing our own stories in the style of different authors and we’re going to dabble in art the way these authors and illustrators do. We are going to talk about books until we’re blue in the face! And we’re going to grow our love of reading to a whole new level.

We started in the month of October with Eric Carle. I just had our fourth baby so I actually pushed our core curriculum aside for the month so I wouldn’t be too overwhelmed. We focused solely on our author study and added in a little math and reading practice here and there. We read many, many more Eric Carle books than what is listed in the study. I borrowed books from our local library and even purchased a few new ones for our collection. I have a feeling that by the time I come back around to this study with any of my other children, I’ll be adding more books and lessons to it!

IMG_20171017_110050719I’m including the author study, the journal pages, and the “extras” needed to complete this study as downloadable pdfs to this post. If you’d like to do it yourself, feel free! Since this was our first study of the year, I took a gentle approach and allowed it to just be what it was. When I was writing the study, I imagined such deep and insightful answers from Abby to the questions I was posing. I didn’t quite get those, haha! But that’s okay. It’s only the beginning of the year and this is our first one. I am hopeful that by the end of the year and after we’ve done several of these, she will be able to think about stories and books on a deeper level than she does now. I will say that we had a lot of fun! My kids LOVE his books and the pictures I’m sharing of them sitting on the floor “reading” his books are not at all fake or staged. They frequently just emptied our book basket unprovoked and dove into his world–The Wonderful World of Eric Carle. My heart is full when I look at the photos. If you decide to do something similar in your homeschool journey (or your classroom journey) I hope it does the same for you! Enjoy!

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Eric Carle Author Study

Author Study Journal Pages

Pancakes Pancakes picture cards

Eric Carle stip book and ten frames templates

Eric Carle time journal and final booklet

*Parental warning: I picked up the book “Draw me a Star” from the Eric Carle museum when we went to culminate our study. I didn’t look at the pictures before bringing it home and reading it to the kids that night. There is a picture of a naked man and woman (in Eric Carle style) a few pages in. I was so surprised! Because his artwork isn’t very detailed by nature, it wasn’t TOO bad, but I wish I had known. Serves me right for not flipping through, first. I had seem some excerpts from the book on display in the museum which is why I purchased it. Caught my kids opening it up just to laugh at the picture a few times since reading it to them. Oops! πŸ™‚

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Old into New: My Latest Refinishing Project

About a month ago I decided to take on a “little” project (I use that term loosely) of refinishing my kitchen table and chairs. What better time to do that than when you’re 8 months pregnant and about to start another school year as a homeschool mom? I had honestly been meaning to do it all summer but couldn’t seem to get around to it until the end of August. It definitely stunk that it was our first week of school and we didn’t have use of our kitchen table, but it was the first week in a long time that no rain was in the forecast, so you do what you have to do! Here are some notes from my journey and some things I learned along the way…

IMG_20170826_114449495My collection of DIY finishing or refinishing projects include a bookshelf, a toy box, kitchen cabinets, bathroom cabinets, and a couple dressers. This table and chair set was definitely the most difficult and I don’t know if was all the spindles in the chairs, or the fact that I was 8 months pregnant. But it was probably a combination of both. πŸ˜‰

THE PLAN: I wanted to create a “farmhouse” looking table–something leaning on the white and distressed side, but since we bought this house 3 years ago and I wanted to refinish our table all along, I couldn’t quite picture it perfectly in my mind. Then, as if out of the blue (or thanks to pregnancy brain or hormones or something) it came to me: I wanted a light gray table with white legs. And I wanted it distressed. And I also didn’t want to spend too much money on paint or supplies. So that was the plan.

IMG_20170830_145932487THE “HOW”: Did I really want to take the time and effort to try to fully strip the table and chairs? Nope! Never mind the fact that being pregnant meant being careful of chemicals and fumes, but chalk paint is the new trend in the paint world and I’m a sucker for trying new trends! (Check out one of my summertime posts about trying a new coffee trend!) Chalk paint is used on pieces to create a “chalky” appearance, can be distressed pretty easily, and best of all can go right over any finish without needing to strip the piece down first! And here’s an even more fun product: chalk paint powder! (Something a friend pointed out to me!) This is a powder mix that you can add to any paint to turn it into chalk paint. Bingo. Found my winner and my “how.” Now I could use the light gray and white paint I had in the basement and save a little $! The popular brand of chalk paint powder can be found on Amazon (hello, 2 day shipping!), but I also found a slightly cheaper brand (do I sound like a cheap-skate yet? I do love a bargain!), so I went with that instead. Did it make a difference? I guess I won’t know until or if I try the popular brand someday!

IMG_1686HOW IT WENT: I started with white and painted the table legs and the chair legs and spindles first. Right away, I could tell that the coverage was pretty good and I’d only need two coats. πŸ™‚

The light gray I chose was the same that I have on my kitchen and bathroom walls. It IS pretty light, but it looked WHITE on the table outside. I was hoping that it was just the bright sunshine making it appear that way. Even though the color wasn’t as dark as I wanted, I kept going, hoping it would look better inside, like my walls and trim contrast that you can actually see in my house.

Time to distress! After a little research, I discovered that the best and easiest way to distress chalk paint would simply be with water and some elbow grease! I used a microfiber cloth and some wet sandpaper sponges (the cloth didn’t give me quite the drastic look I was going for). It was a little tough going, but I ended up being pretty happy with the results. If I had more energy at the time, I might have kept going and distressed the table more than I did, but at that point, I was ready to get the project done!

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I like the distressed look along the edges of the table leaves!

FINISHING: The problem I had when thinking about using chalk paint was that it would have a matte finish, which I figured would be difficult to keep clean. Three kids (almost four) and a white/gray table equals messiness and fingerprints! So I wanted to polyurethane the table so I would have a shiny finish that I could wipe clean and would also “seal” in the distress marks and prevent any more paint from chipping down the line. This was the disappointing part of the project. Not only was it difficult to get an even coverage that wasn’t too thick and didn’t drip, but I found that the “clear” polyurethane turned out to not be as “clear” as I thought. It dried with a yellowish tint, which made the gray of the table and chairs lose any look of actual gray, it just looked white and the actual white, ended up looking off-white. This bummed me out, but there wasn’t much I could do about it. It was probably my own fault for being a little careless with the polyurethane, but oh well.

The table itself is very old and was passed to my grandparents from their parents and from my grandparents to us. It wasn’t perfect to begin with in our house, and it’s certainly not perfect now. But Randy and I agree that any imperfections that came out of this project have added to its character. One “happy accident” was that the sun crackled some of the white paint on the chairs as they were drying and gave them a unique look that we LOVE! This probably won’t be our “forever” table, but it definitely brightens up our kitchen, looks more like it “belongs” in there now, and is serving us well for meals and homeschooling! Another fun and learning project behind me!

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Starting Up the Homeschool Year

Starting up the school year as a homeschool mom can be exciting and stressful, just like for any other teacher. This year for me, it’s definitely been an even mix of both! Generally, I find the stress to be in the choosing of curricula and setting up the “plan” for the day-to-day scheduling. But once that’s settled, excitement sets in and I can’t wait to start! But sometimes, plans don’t go according to, ahem, “plan.” Here are some things I have to keep in mind when starting the school year, and they might be helpful to you, too!

  • Your schooling doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s! (Nor should it!) It’s so easy to play the compare game on social media these days and sometimes we get discouraged if our school room (or kitchen table) doesn’t look as nice as those in other people’s pictures, or our kids don’t seem as excited to start as someone else’s. But not only is it unhealthy to constantly compare ourselves to other people, it’s sinful. If you are heeding God’s call on your family to homeschool, your only focus needs to be on how HE wants YOU to raise and educate YOUR kids. I have to remind myself of this almost daily. Getting ideas from others is one thing, but thinking we need to do everything just like someone else is different.
I’m not the best with doing science experiments. I usually like to wait until Daddy is home and then we do a whole bunch at once! Here we are experimenting with water. It was actually fun! (For me, I mean, I knew it would be for them already.) πŸ˜‰
  • Let go of the “ideal.” Here’s my confession: today was the first day I did school with BOTH my 1st grader and preschooler. (We started 1st grade last week.) And the day itself was THE WORST. The school portion of the day wasn’t bad, but other factors led to the day being a “write-off.” The 20-month old has still taken 2 naps a day up until this point and picked today of all days to refuse the morning nap. I knew it was coming, I just didn’t know when. Time to hash out a plan to keep her entertained during school (which I have plenty of resources for and I’ll be sharing in another post), I just wasn’t prepared for this today. During the off-school hours, kids were generally off the wall, a little disobedient, I was 36-week-pregnant-with-number-four-all-time-exhausted, I broke a dish filled with dip while pulling something out of the fridge, and even quiet time didn’t go smoothly. So the epic “first day of school” certainly wasn’t ideal, but when that happens, you absolutely cannot let it get you down! Life is messy. (But, you’d never know it if I just posted the pictures from our school time and never mentioned anything about the rest of the day. So, see, that’s another reason not to compare–you’re probably not even comparing your life to the true account of another’s!)
For Noah’s preschool year, we’re doing 1-week “units” that I’m pulling together from a bunch of different sources. Our first unit is on colors. He already knows them, but I like to start with something that’s reinforcing and not brand new. And we got to have this yummy snack of “rainbow” fruit with homemade whipped cream! We mixed our primary colors to make the secondary ones. It was fun AND delicious!
  • Curriculum is not “one size fits all.” If you have found an all-inclusive curriculum that meets all the needs of your family and you LOVE it, yay you!!! Honestly, our curriculum comes pretty close! Next year we’ll have to start supplementing in a few subjects but My Father’s World gives great suggestions for all supplements. (Click on the link to check our curriculum out!) This is our 3rd year using this curriculum and we absolutely love it! I realize not everyone has that experience, and that’s okay, too! And even if you’ve settled on a great curriculum, you don’t have to use it as is. I have to be flexible with our scheduling since I work part-time so I don’t always follow the curriculum’s outline exactly. Plus, my experience as a public school teacher gave me great supplemental ideas that I use all the time! I consider myself lucky that my oldest is mature and “advanced” enough that I could do kindergarten with her at age 4, no problem, and she loved it! That meant that I started first grade with her last year when she was 5, and could spread it over 2 years. So this year is technically our second year of 1st grade, but age-wise, she’s “officially” first grade! Taking first grade at a slower pace has meant being able to supplement with more fun activities, field trips, and make time for the toddler and baby on the way!
We ALL got into our colorful snack! So yummy!
  • Don’t be afraid to try something different! Homeschool parents can feel a lot of pressure to do things perfectly because the world’s eyes are on us for not doing things “conventionally” or not “leaving our child’s education to the ‘experts’.” This kind of pressure sometimes leads me to overthink my choices for fear of messing up and looking like I failed my kids. But I can tell you, even public school teachers have plans that fail! Lessons, and even whole units, don’t always go according to plan, so we have to adjust. Don’t be afraid to look into new curricula, supplemental materials, or to just reach out to other homeschool moms for support and ideas. I thought I was “set” this year for our curriculum, but I now find myself researching another curriculum to supplement what we’re already doing. It never ends! But I’m learning to follow my instincts and try new things when necessary.

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August 15 — recipes of summer

The other night we pretended to be southern and indulged in fried chicken, corn on the cob, green beans, potato salad, and buttermilk biscuits for dinner. And we couldn’t finish half of it. It’s still somehow hard for me to learn to not cook so much some nights! I’m sure in about 10 years I’ll have to cook that much since we’ll have four “teens” in the house, but in the meantime, there’s leftovers. And biscuits and gravy for breakfast! I’ve been boldly frying chicken for a few years now and I haven’t strayed from Ree Drummond’s recipe (though I don’t have to look it up anymore). The chicken comes out golden and crispy every time and thoroughly cooked and juicy! There’s something about standing in the kitchen and frying chicken that makes me feel like life’s simpler than it is. And my kids LOVE it, which is always a good thing! We mix honey and butter to smear on the biscuits and we’re instantly transported to another place and time as we sit around the dinner table talking and eating with our hands. Even though this meal heats of the kitchen pretty well, I still feel like it’s a summer meal.

We’ve been eating some good summer food around here, lately, and getting creative with our summer beverages! I’ve been wanting to try a new drink for some time now and finally Randy and I made the latest coffee craze for ourselves–maybe you’ve heard of it. Β Imagine combining iced coffee and lemonade?! Yep. Try that and you’re officially “hip.” πŸ˜‰ Here’s how it worked: I combined our iced coffee (leftover and refrigerated from our morning pot–but you could also use cold brew, and what would probably be better is a cold brew espresso or something nice and strong), the juice of one lemon, some sweetened condensed milk, and topped it off with some club soda. It was actually pretty good! It was a coffee version of the “spritzer” drinks we’ve been having all summer. I served it alongside some lava cakes I’d been dying to make so we could have a “special” evening. Typical Wednesday night around here. πŸ˜‰

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I first read about this new trend in a magazine and ever since, I’ve seen it pop up online here and there. Worth a try!

With summer slipping away (I know, say it isn’t so!), I felt compelled to make a berry pie before the season is completely gone. I feel like it’s the quintessential summer dessert and I couldn’t believe I had let so much time go by before actually making one! Here’s the thing, with three small children and pregnancy fatigue getting to me, it’s not easy to slip into the kitchen and bake something for fun. Whenever I watch one of those cooking shows, I always wonder why I feel jealous of the person I’m watching cook–it can’t be because I don’t know what I’m doing in the kitchen, because I do! And I think I have a pretty good set up and equipment, so what is it that makes me long to be inside that show and not cooking in my own kitchen??? Oh yeah, it’s the fact that I always have kids running around me making it nearly impossible to concentrate! πŸ˜‰ So when my parents offered to take the two older kids out for the afternoon while the one-year-old napped, I knew what I would be doing with my free time–baking a pie! And not-so-amazingly, it took way less time to accomplish than I’m used to! Ah, the magic of kid-free kitchen time! So I concocted this recipe for a Triple Berry Pie and served it with homemade vanilla ice cream. So delicious! So summer!

For the crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 TB confectioners sugar
  • 3/4 cup cold butter
  • salt (just a pinch)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsps vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cold water

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and butter in a food processor and pulse. Add the egg, vinegar, and water and continue to pulse until the dough comes together. Divide into 2 disks and wrap both in cling wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

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For the filling:

Combine 1-2 pounds strawberries (de-stemmed and halved), 1 pint raspberries, and 1 pint blackberries. (You can adjust amounts based on your personal berry preference.) πŸ˜‰ Add about a cup of sugar and let sit in the refrigerator for an hour. (This will allow the juices to come out of the fruit and can be drained off for a less soupy pie.)

Drain the juice from the fruit and then add a 1/2 cup of sugar, the zest and juice of 1 lemon, 3 TBs tapioca flour, and sprinkle in some cinnamon. Mix well.

Roll out one of the dough disks and place in a pie pan. Pour in the fruit filling. With the second disk, I like to roll it out and cut strips to weave together a lattice top crust.

Once the pie is assembled, brush it with an egg wash (combine 1 egg and a little water), and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 425* with a foil collar for 30 minutes, and then remove the collar, reduce the heat to 375*, and continue baking for another 20-30 minutes.

IMG_1679Allow to cool before cutting into the pie. Enjoy with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream (or both)! And enjoy these last few weeks of summer before it’s all just a delicious memory… πŸ™‚

Triple Berry Pie