Hickory Dijon Dressing

meadow

On the news the other day, they had a piece about  how Minnesotans love to talk about the weather. I laughed but then paused…you know, I think they must be right because many of my blogs start out talking about the weather! I’m orginally from Nebraska but I must’ve blossomed into a true Minnesotan now because my thoughts do gravitate towards the conditions outside quite often.

A few weeks ago, we woke up to just an absolute beautiful morning! A brilliant blue sky, big puffy clouds and a gentle breeze with just a little nip in the air.  That kind of weather beckons  me to go outside and I think the kids heard that beckoning too because they wanted to go for a walk in the worst way. So the kids and I got ourselves together and we headed for the meadow because out there, we could enjoy the morning in the height of all its glory…

When we reached the meadow, little A. wanted to run and explore while E. was just content  to sit in the grass and pick wildlflowers…

meadow We found a wild honeysuckle bush, filled with blossoms…

 

honeysuckleAnd we laughed when we saw this one, as it looked like it was filled with tiny little  stick pins!…

purple wildflowers
But A. wasn’t interested in flowers, he had found a stick…

meadow

 I could’ve spent hours in the meadow that morning and I think the kids felt the same way. But when we got to the bottom of the hill and came to the woods, we thought we’d save the forest for another adventure…

moss

So after searching for little animal tracks and seeing who could spy the most dragonflies, we climbed the hill to head back home…

meadow

 

 

meadow

But not before picking a few more flowers…

Here is a recipe for Hickory Dijon Dressing. It was born from my love of hickory-smoked anything so why not try to make a dressing out of it to go with a spinach and bacon salad? ( It is also excellent as a dip with chicken nuggets or onion rings)

Hickory Dijon Dressing

Into a blender place:

      3 Tablespoons white vinegar

      1 Tablespoon prepared Dijon mustard

      1 teas dry mustard

      1/2 teas onion salt

      1/2 teas hickory liquid smoke flavoring

      2 Tablespoons sugar

      1/2 cup honey

      1/2 cup vegetable oil

Blend on high speed for 3 minutes. This can be served as a dip or as a dressing for the following salad:

Into a large bowl place:

      9 oz. bag of spinach (thoroughly washed and spun dry)

      1 medium red onion (finely chopped or sliced)

      1 lb. bacon fried until crispy then crumbled

      2 cups shredded mozarella cheese

Toss everything together and then drizzle desired amount of dressing over the salad and toss again. Enjoy!

Strawberry Shortcake Ice cream

red generanium

Doesn’t  it seem like the best tasting ice creams are always rock hard right out of the freezer? And in some cases, so hard  you bend your spoon trying to dish some out of the container?

Has the following ever happened to you?…

While grocery shopping, you come to the frozen food section and start eyeballing one of those little expensive containers of ice cream. You think  heh, that would make a nice treat for the drive home! You swing by the deli counter and pick up a plastic spoon for a little taste of that ice cream when you get into the car… (I’m chuckling as I am writing little taste. How many of us have polished off most of that little carton before we have even pulled into the driveway at home?)

When you get to the car, you thoroughly search each and every bag for that little tub of frozen goodness and then - your heart skips a beat –   there it is!  buried beneath the bananas and package of weenies…

You take the ice cream out  and casually carry it back to the driver’s seat because afterall,  you don’t want to draw attention to yourself and that ice cream. People might think as soon as that car door is shut you are going to dive into it… ah! Boy, are they right! Now where’s that spoon?…

You slam the car door, start the car, search for the spoon in your purse, pry off the ice cream lid, stick in your spoon and then snap!  The spoon breaks off!  

Now,  I ask you, IS there anything more frustrating than the sound of that snap?? All your dreams of “sampling” that ice cream…gone… and now all you are left with is a broken worthless piece of spoon in your hand… 

ice cream cookies

Rock hard ice cream. You love it, you despise it!  You chisel and saw, dig and prod and what do you have to show for all your work  after 3 minutes? This itty-bitty piece of ice cream finally breaks off as your reward! 

But you know, I bet the ice cream was worth all the frustration, wasn’t it?

strawberry shortcake ice cream

The following ice cream is filled with fresh strawberries, ripples of homemade fudge, and crumbled vanilla creme-filled cookies  and ooohhhhh…is it yummy! 

It has a very creamy smooth texture, but it is very hard out of the freezer. So to avoid any frustration, be  kind to yourself and your spoon, set it out on the counter for awhile and just…walk away. Try not to think about that ice cream, oh!  and don’t listen to it when it starts calling your name after the first 2 minutes of sitting there! :)

Your patience will be rewarded after about 20 minutes. The strawberries will still be nice and frosty…

strawberry

 The vanilla cookies will be soft and the ice cream and fudge will yield perfectly to your spoon!…

Happy Summer to you! 

strawberry shortcake ice cream

Strawberry Shortcake Ice cream

You will need:

      3 cups sliced fresh strawberries

      10 vanilla creme sandwich cookies, crumbled or coarsely chopped

Into a small heavy saucepan, put:

      2/3 c heavy whipping cream

Scald the cream ( heat the cream and then as soon as it begins to boil, take it off the heat)   Take the pan off the burner and then add:

      2 T  butter, at room temperature

      2/3 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Stir slightly then let it sit for about 5 minutes (the warm of the milk will melt the chips). After the 5 minutes has passed, take a whisk and gently stir the mixture until it has a smooth, dark and glossy appearance.  Set it aside while you do the next steps…

Into a medium-sized mixing bowl, put:

      2 c heavy whipping cream

Beat it until it forms stiff peaks.  Set aside.

Into a large mixing bowl, put:

       1 can sweetened condensed milk

      4 egg yolks (be sure your eggs are clean, uncracked, Grade A)

      1 t  pure vanilla extract

Stir together.  Fold in the whipped cream.

To assemble the layers of your ice cream, you will need about a 2-quart size freezable container that has a lid.  Pour approximately  a third of the whipped cream mixture into your container.   Then drop in about 3/4 cup of the fresh strawberries and half of the chopped cookies.  Then drizzle half of the chocolate evenly over this.

Cover with another third of the whipped cream mixture, another 3/4 cup or so of the strawberries and the rest of the cookies and the chocolate.  Follow up with the rest of the whipped cream mixture and top with the rest of the strawberries. Seal up the container so that it is air tight and place it in the freezer. Freeze until firm.

When serving, please remember to take the container out of the freezer at least 20 minutes before indulging…

Baked Blackberry French Toast

lilacs

 I love lilacs, partly because they remind of my Grandma. She loved the color lavender…

lilacs

My mom once told me lilacs look best in blue mason jars. You know, I think she was right!  That beautiful blue color of the mason jar  is the perfect complimentary color to lavender…

 

blue mason jar

 

They had these tantalizing plump berries on sale at the market…

blackberries

blackberries

I picked up a couple of containers of those beautiful berries. My husband loves blackberries and I’ve been wanting to try something new for breakfast…

How does Baked Blackberry French Toast sound?…

baked blackberry french toast

lilac blossom

Baked Blackberry French Toast

Into a medium-sized heavy saucepan put:

      1/2 c butter

Melt over low heat, then add:

       1 c firmly packed brown sugar

      2 c milk

Heat until brown sugar has melted, stirring occasionally. Take off heat and let this cool down. Meanwhile, grease a 13×9 inch baking dish. Into this arrange:

      10 slices “day old” Texas toast ( cut into 4 triangles or cubed)

      2 c fresh blackberries

Into the cooled milk mixture add:

       4 eggs

      1 teas vanilla

      1/2 teas cardamon

      1 teas   cinnamon

      1/4 teas salt

Whisk well. Pour this carefully over the bread and berries. Take a spoon and push the pieces of bread down into the milk mixture so that all bread pieces are saturated with the milk… Let sit for 15 minutes or cover and refrigerate overnight.

Bake for 1 hour or until top is deep golden brown and puffed. ( It will fall as it cools)  You may want to cover the top with some foil about 45 minutes into the baking time so that the top doesn’t become too dark…

Drizzle with the following luscious creamy brown sugar syrup:

Into a heavy medium-sized saucepan put:

      1  small ( 5oz.) can evaporated milk

      1/2 c butter

      3/4 c brown sugar

      1/8 teas salt

      1/2 c light corn syrup

Whisk together and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat  to low and keep warm until ready to serve. (You may have to whisk it again right before serving …)