Flourless Chocolate Cake with Cream & Berries


Hey there– It really feels like summer here now.  How about where you are??  Warm days with all the windows thrown open to catch the breeze.  The maple trees are all leafed out and shading the backyard. Yesterday Mr. Wicks brought over yellow string beans from his garden and I watched the all the Johnson kids next door load up and take off for a day at the beach.

And at the market there are piles of berries.  So here’s one of the richest cakes that’s graced our table in a long time– super chocolatey and with cream and those berries pile high– really delicious on a summer evening.

FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH CREAM & BERRIES
1/2 cup + 2 tab. butter (1 1/4 stick)
2  2/3 cup chocolate chips
1 tsp. instant coffee granules
6 eggs
1 heaping tab. of sugar
1 pint whipping cream
1 tsp. powdered sugar
2 tsp. instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups mixed berries
1 tsp. sugar

Drop the butter and chocolate chips into a large glass bowl.  Microwave it all for about 90 seconds, stopping to stir it around every 30 seconds– until the chocolate is all melted into the butter.  Mix in the coffee granules.

Separate the 6 eggs, whites in a mixing bowl, yolks in a smaller container.  Then gradually stir the yolks into the chocolate mixture.

Beat the whites and heaping tablespoon of sugar with an electric mixer (the whisk attachment works best) until soft peaks form (it will take a few minutes!)

Stir the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture just until it is all blended.  Spoon the batter into an 8″ springform pan (or a cake pan) that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake it up at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes.  Let the cake cool a bit and then set it into the fridge for a couple hours to firm it up.

When you’re ready to serve the cake beat the whipping cream, together with the powdered sugar and vanilla pudding mix (it sets up the cream so it will stay firm) using an electric mixer and the whisk attachment.  When it is firm, pile it onto the top of the cake.

Mix the berries with the teaspoon of sugar and let them sit for a couple minutes until the juices from the berries liquify the sugar.  Then spoon them onto the top of the cream.  Serve right away!

Blueberry Broccoli Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing


Hello there– Dinner last night was out under the maple tree– chicken enchiladas, beans and this salad– with the MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) Moms.  I can’t remember laughing so much…!  And amazing stories (Lisa!!) of births and love and life with kids!!

Loved the salad– easy and pretty healthy (to balance out the sour cream enchiladas and chocolate cake!)  And you can throw it together in about 10 minutes.  Add chicken and it would be a perfect summer supper.

BLUEBERRY BROCCOLI SPINACH SALAD WITH POPPY SEED DRESSING

Salad:
5 cups baby spinach
1 large heat broccoli, cut to bits
1  cup blueberries
1 avocado, cut into chunks
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/4 dried cherries (or cranberries)

Dressing:
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tab. tarragon vinegar (or your favorite vinegar)
1 tab. sugar or honey
1 tsp. poppy seeds
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Layer the spinach and other salad ingredients into a pretty bowl.

In a container with a tight fitting lid, shake together the oil, vinegar, honey, poppy seeds, salt & pepper until they are all thoroughly blended.  Pour over the salad when you are ready to serve it up.  Enjoy!

Good Times in San Francisco


Hi there friends– Happily home from a week in San Francisco.  Our Laurel was out in SF from Wisconsin so I headed up for a sweet time with my 2 girls together in the same city!  — and stayed the week to watch Little Lois.  Here’s the best parts:

Spent a morning wandering through Golden Gate Park and ended up at the Beach Chalet outdoor tables for a picnic-ish lunch.

     

And we had a day out at the Presidio, a former military installation, first established by the Spanish in 1776– strolled through the Officers Club, now with a Presidio Museum– And ended up at Native Burger for lunch (notice the small hand reaching for my burger–I didn’t notice it when I took the photo!)

     

     

But the real highlight of the week was watching Little Lois while her Mom was away.  We hit a couple library story times and a few playgrounds, baked biscuits and read so many stories.
     

     
So grateful to spend a “Girls Weekend” with Ani, Laurel and Lois (and of course, you too Brian!!)  Can’t wait to see you all again!

Chocolate Toffee Slice and Bake Cookies

Hey there– Been a busy week getting ready for Grammy Camp!!  I’m just jumping up & down excited for 4 grand-girls to get here.  I’ve got little tubs of activities tucked away all in a row and the “Welcome to Grammy Camp” poster taped to the front door. And cookies.

Baked these girl friendly cookies for picnic lunches for the days they are here.  Tiny bits of chocolate and crunchy toffee in a buttery cookie.  I think they’ll be a hit.

CHOCOLATE TOFFEE SLICE AND BAKE COOKIES
1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup toffee bits*

With an electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, powdered sugar, milk and vanilla.  Then beat in the flour, baking powder and salt until the dough looks like coarse crumbs.  Then beat in the chocolate chips and toffee bits until the dough is a solid lump.

Divide the dough into two halves.  Roll the first half into a log shape about 2″ thick. And then set them in the fridge for an hour (or up to several days).

When you’re ready to bake the, slice the logs into 1/4 inch rounds and set them on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake them up at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, until they are just brown around the edges.  Delish!

*the toffee bits I used were Heath “Bits O’ Brickle” — on the shelf were you buy chocolate chips.

Garlic Parmesan Chicken with Roast Zucchini


Hello all–  This supper is brought to you by Mr. Wicks.  He’s our next door neighbor with the virtual “farm” in his small back yard. It’s mid June and his tomato plants are 6 feet tall!   And we are the lucky recipients of his bounty.  This week it’s zucchini!  (thank you Mr.s Wicks!)

Add some super savory chicken– parmesan AND garlic– so much flavor!  Add some small ravioli and a bright salad, it makes a fine summer supper.

ROAST ZUCCHINI
3 medium zucchini, chopped to bite sized bits
4 tab. olive oil
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. dried basil

Toss the chopped zucchini, oil, garlic, salt and dried basil into a mixing bowl and stir it up until the zucchini is thoroughly coated.  Spread the zucchini on a baking sheet that has been lined with foil.

Cook it up at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes, until it’s tender and just slightly browned around the edges.

While that’s cooking, make the chicken…

GARLIC PARMESAN CHICKEN
4 tab. butter
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup parmesan
2 cloves garlic minced
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. dried basil

Filet the chicken breasts, cutting them horizontally to make 4 thinner flat pieces of chicken.  In a shallow bowl mix together the parmesan, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika and basil.

Melt 3 tab. of butter in a large nonstick skillet (do not let it brown).  Then coat the chicken filets with the parmesan mixture and then lay it into the hot skillet.

Cook the chicken about 3 minutes on each side until it’s nicely browned and the chicken is cooked through.  Add the 4th tablespoon of butter when you turn the chicken over.   Platter it up with the zucchini and serve it while it’s hot.  Enjoy!

Oatmeal Fudge Bars


Hi all–  Tonight we’re wrapping up our Monday ladies study and prayer time for the year.  I love those ladies. When they walk in the door on Monday evening, my heart feels happy.  They come in for a mug of tea/coffee and a little something sweet– and then the talk begins.  Little groups of friends, catching up all across the room.  It’s the best.  And here’s what we’re snacking on tonight:

OATMEAL FUDGE BARS

Oatmeal Layers:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
3 tab. milk
1 cup flour
1  1/2 cup whole oats
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup walnuts chopped for on top.

Fudge Layer:
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chocolate chips (6 oz.)
3 tab. butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Stir together the melted butter, brown sugar and egg until blended.  Then mix in the vanilla and milk until it’s thoroughly mixed.  Finally stir in the four, oats, baking powder and salt.

Spread 2/3 of the oatmeal batter in a 9″ square or 11″x8″ rectangular baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Then make the fudge layer.  In a sauce pan melt together the condensed milk, chocolate chips, butter and vanilla, stirring until it is all melty and blended.

Pour the fudge over the oatmeal layer in the baking dish, smoothing it with the back of a spoon to cover the whole layer.

Then break up the remaining oatmeal batter with your fingers to little bits and drop them over the fudge. It won’t cover completely, little bits of fudge will show through.  Sprinkle the chopped walnuts evenly over the top.

Pop the whole things into a 350 oven for 25 to 30 minutes.  Let it cool at least half an hour and then cut it into neat little squares.

Beautiful Kyoto


Hello to you all– If you’ve been reading along here, you’ve seen our recent travels with Brian, Ani & their Little Lois. Finally our last stop– Beautiful Kyoto.  We took the Bullet Train south from Tokyo, past towns and rice fields to spend some days in this lovely old capitol of Japan.

Our Air Bnb In Kyoto was a traditional older house, with sliding walls and mat flooring.  The beds were rolled out on the floor and the table down low as well.  Loved the woodwork and detailed hardware.

     

This first evening we arrived we took a walk through our neighborhood–narrow lanes with kids playing ball and riding bikes and ended up by a local temple.

     

The next morning, we took a subway uptown to a large city park, nestled into a bustling shopping area.  We noticed many young women dressed in traditional Japanese outfits and later walked past stores that rented these clothes to tourists for the day of picture taking!!

     

     

One evening we trekked up the hill to a Shinto Shrine, following trails of archways partway up a mountain.  The sun was setting and it was a peaceful end to a busy day.

     

We spent an afternoon in the bustling indoor market (with a whole lot of other tourists), browsing over stalls of food, treats and souvenirs–and sampling a few snacks ourselves.

     

And one sunny morning, we strolled through the park and into the complex of ancient buildings that were the Emperor’s palace in the days when Kyoto was the capitol city of Japan.

      

Our last afternoon we studied our way through the Kyoto Train Museum.  Brian, an big fan of public transportation, led the way.  Lois favorite was the Thomas the Train tracks!

     

And don’t you agree that sampling new foods is one of the best bits of traveling??  Our first evening we wandered into a small neighborhood shop with just 8 seats around a small kitchen, where we watched our proprietor prepare the one meal choice for that evening.
     

Another dinner was at the local skewer shop– tables on platforms, sit on the floor to dig into small plates of all kinds of things cooked on skewers.

     

Our fanciest lunch was on a top floor of a tall downtown building– at a restaurant where you cook your own meal over a grill in the center of the table–veggies, mushrooms, different cuts of beef.
     

We ate at a crazy automated sushi place, where you ordered on a screen and a little conveyor belt brought dishes to your table.  Then you fed the plates down a slot on the table and for every 5 plates, you could play a little game on the screen to win a prize!  (There were lots of families with kids eating here!)
     

Our last morning we “yelped” a German-Japanese Bakery near our little house.  It was a wonderland of baked goods (my favorite kind of place!)

    

And one last photo–heading through the train station on our way to the airport and our flights home…

Ani and Brian–thanks thanks again for inviting us along on this marvelous adventure!!  You two and that Little Lois are the best kind of travel buddies.  Let’s do it again!!