Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Strawberry cheesecake-pie

Is there such a thing as a cheesecake-pie?? Last weekend I made a fresh strawberry pie for Easter dessert. During the process of mixing the strawberries in this wonderful sweet strawberry glaze, I realized that the pie would be so much tastier with a cream-cheesy layer to add a cheesecake like element. I can't fully call this a cheesecake or a strawberry pie alone because of the portions of both the cream filling and the strawberry filling.
With a little experimentation and thumbs up from my best and most honest taste tester husband, I give to you a very simple but sweet and delicious (Griswold drumroll please)... Strawberry cheesecake-pie.
Strawberry cheesecake-pie
Recipe source: Emmy in her Element
1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
Mix together and press into 9" pie dish. Bake in 375 degree oven for 6-8 minutes or until set and golden. Watch closely, this can burn! Let cool until room temp or cool in refrigerator before spreading cream filling.
{cream filling}
8 oz room temperature cream cheese
3 heaping tablespoons powdered sugar
1 cup whipped cream (I mixed up some heavy cream homemade and just whipped this up very first)
Beat whipped cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Gently fold in heavy cream until incorporated.
Spread into cooled graham cracker crust about 1/2" in thickness.
{Strawberry topping} 
1 box strawberry junket Danish Dessert.
2-3 cups fresh chopped strawberries (more or less depending on how high you want to pile them, yum!)
Follow directions on Danish dessert filling (the box calls to mix the powder with 1 3/4 cup water, I took out 2 tablespoons water and replaced it with 2 tablespoons lemon juice to add tartness). Let cool slightly before mixing strawberries into the glaze.
Assemble pie by baking crust, letting cool and then spreading with cream filling and topping with deliciously glazed fresh strawberries (make sure this is cool enough it wont melt your cream filling). Let this pie have 2-3 hours to set in the fridge before its ready to eat.  I like to add fresh whipped cream on the pie right before serving.

I had extra filling so I made some mini pies to take and share as well. Wouldn't these mini's be so fun for a birthday party or shower?

post signature

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Country Loaf

We are patiently impatiently waiting for spring to come, but week after week we keep experiencing cold, snowy and gray weather. This being Easter weekend, I decided to spend a little time making a comforting country bread loaf that I can share with my family for Easter supper.
This recipe is a more time consuming one, but incredibly worth it! And although the rise time is long, the actual work part is very minimal.
If you're looking for quicker bread options, check out my other bread recipes here.

Country Loaf
Recipe source: Betty Crocker
Recipe time: Rise: 3hours Bake: 40minutes
5 1/2 cups of bread flour
1 teaspoon of sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
2 cups very warm water
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt
In a bowl mix together 2 cups of flour, the sugar and the yeast. Add 2 cups of warm water. Mix together for 1 minute and cover with plastic wrap tightly on top. Let bubble for 1 hour. See picture steps below for visual steps.
Stir in oil and salt. Stir in enough remaining flour to create a soft, smooth dough. If you're mixing by hand as I did, you will feel the dough is dry and stringy. Fear not! Keep mixing and turn onto your counter and start kneading in the flour. This process can take 8-10 minutes by hand.
If you have a kitchen aid mixer, use your dough hook and let it stretch the dough for you. Sometimes I like to do it the old fashioned way... getting you're hands dirty is good for the soul.
Place kneaded dough into a large bowl sprayed with nonstick spray. Cover and let rise for another hour.
Grease cookie sheet with shortening and place dough onto counter. Gently form dough in your hands into an even round ball by stretching the sides of the dough downward to the bottom, keeping air bubbles in tact best you can. This should only take a few seconds. Place dough loaf with smooth side up on the greased cookie sheet. Cover loosely and let rise again for 45-60 minutes until doubled in size.
Place a metal pan filled half way with water on the bottom rack of your oven. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray loaf with cool water and sprinkle lightly with flour.
Carefully, with a serrated knife, cut 1/4-inch-deep slashes on top of loaf. You can do 3 slices across or a large X (see pics below).
Bake 30-35 minutes or until golden brown with a crisp crust on top. Place on a cooling rack.
This crusty loaf can be enjoyed with olive oil and parmesan cheese or just as is.
Visual Process:


post signature

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Italian minestrone soup {packed with vegetables}

On these long cold winter days I cant help but crave a big pot of hot soup and fresh loaf of bread from the oven.
After surviving the last few months of morning sickness and refusing all food but cereal, I am now (at 19 weeks) just coming back around to the idea of cooking meals for myself and family. I was really craving a bowl of minestrone soup from Olive Garden, but since it's a bit of a drive I decided to stay cozy at home and make my own.
This soup is really easy to make, it can be done quickly in a pot on the stovetop or over several hours slowly in the crockpot.
I really enjoyed making it because it took very little effort to toss everything into the pot and go. That gave me an extra minute to make delicious batch of my favorite french bread in a flash.
 Italian Minestrone Soup  
Recipe source: Emmy in her Element    
Inspired by food network
4 cups beef stock
2 cups water
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
2 cans 14.5 oz petite diced tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups spinach torn
1 cup zucchini in bite sized pieces
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced sweet onion
1 1/3 cups mini shell pasta
Salt and pepper to taste
Shredded parmesan or Romano cheese to garnish.
For crockpot:
Add beef stock, water, tomatoes, herbs, sugar, garlic, carrots, onion and celery to a crockpot on high heat for about 3 hours or low heat for 5-6 hours. Add beans, spinach, pasta shells and zucchini in last 30-40 minutes to soften. Remove bay leaves before serving. Serve warm and garnish with cheese.
For Stovetop:
Sauté carrots, onion and celery in butter or olive oil until onion is tender. Add stock, water, tomatoes, herbs, sugar, garlic and salt and pepper. About 20 minutes before serving, add beans, spinach, pasta shells and zucchini on medium heat just until zucchini is cooked through and spinach is wilted. Then let set on low heat until served. Remove bay leaves before serving. Garnish with cheese.

Add meat:  I think this soup would be amazing with Italian sausage. Just pan cook sausage until cooked through and add to pot of soup.
Vegetarian: If you would like this soup to be completely vegetarian, exchange vegetable stock straight across for the beef stock.
Gluten Free: Simply exchange pasta shells for gluten free pasta.

post signature

Monday, December 21, 2015

Announcement for the Barlow Family

Hello there,
I've been a little MIA lately... but I think I have a pretty good excuse! We have an announcement and a fun surprise coming our way...
Check out the details here on this wonderful video my sweet friend Bobbi Jo Thompson helped us make. If you are local, you will want to check out her amazing work.
Click here for Barlow Family announcement video
Photo Credit Molly Landon Photography
Video: Bobbi Jo Thompson with My Journey Photo
post signature

Friday, August 7, 2015

Stay little

I love you in the morning
I love you in the night
I love you when we laugh and play
and when we have a fight
I love you when you're holding worms or tracking dirt inside
I love you when you scrape your knee
and run to me to cry
I love you when you have a cough
or need your milk warmed up
I love you during story time
and when you spill your cup
I love you when you say my name one-hundred times a day
I love it so because I know
 that soon
 these things will go away
Lately I have been trying really hard to be more patient during the times I am surrounded by messes (which is all of the time!) and when I start to feel like I am not everything I should be as a mother. I have no idea how mothers out there accomplish anything with more than two children! I am so busy as it is, I have mad respect for you.
When I think about these busy times being temporary, it makes me really appreciate the simple joys of motherhood, the funny moments, the tender things that they do. When you celebrate small victories and open your eyes to joy and goodness, it will be easy to find.
As Dr Seuss says... "There are so many things you can learn about. But... you'll miss the BEST THINGS if you keep your eyes shut"
Best to look out for the goods stuff!

Monday, August 3, 2015

HAPPY LIFE- Free printable

Isn't this quote such a wonderful reminder of choosing the glass half full?
You make the choice to be happy or unhappy.
We all have to learn patience, perseverance, lessons in trials and consequences for choosing wrong.
We can live our life waiting for things to turn out great for us, or we can open our eyes and see the simple joys that make for such a happy life.
There is good all around. Simple blessings can be so easily overlooked and taken for granted.
What kind of life are you making for yourself?
post signature

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

This morning my Mom called and wanted to take the babies for the afternoon.
I snatched my Man and we went for an adventure.
We ran off to the forest to explore and enjoy the wonder of God's creations.
A simple day, but beauty filled. I just love being out in nature, it is soul food for me!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Oh Darling, lets be adventurers

I love adventuring with my family. While my husband was in school, we would find fun and inexpensive activities to take our children to do so that we didn't suffer from the "we're on a student budget and can't go anywhere" blues. I am so thankful for those times... because of them, little things are big things to us and our kids. They get so excited when we load up in the car and take them to explore in nature, on a hike or to a new place.
This weekend we were able to explore a new and stunning place we have never been.
Bloomington Lake!  I could hardly take in the beauty!
If you are looking for a fun and family friendly adventure with your crew, I highly recommend visiting here. Bring life jackets and swing off the rope swing into the lake, or pack a picnic and enjoy the scenery from the edges of the lake.
 It is heavenly.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Homemade Avocado Ranch

You guys, I am such a ranch snob. Always judging restaurant ranch, in search of one that makes me squeal inside. The other night after we got home late, I dug around in the fridge searching for something to put together for a quick dinner.
I found some items for salad, romaine lettuce, avocados, tomatoes, smoked turkey and olives.
I made an easy chef salad with some shredded cheese on top and the only thing needed after that was some dressing.
I love getting creative, so I whipped up this little recipe for homemade avocado ranch. It is really simple and really delicious! I wanted to share it with you.

Homemade Avocado Ranch
Recipe source: Emmy in her Element
1/2 avocado mashed
pinch of chopped parsley
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tablespoon hidden valley ranch powder
3/4 teaspoon rice vinegar
Blend milk and sour cream. Add remaining ingredients and mix well until smooth and creamy. Enjoy with veggies, on salad or as a dip.
Ps. I can't help but feel like this ranch would be excellent with crumbled bacon on top. Ooh eeee! Listen to me now!
Need a quick and easy salad to use the ranch dressing on? Check this out...
15 minute southwestern taco salad
post signature

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Color on a rainy day

Today was rainy, and thundery and gray. It was quiet, and for several hours we didn't have power.
For some reason, I love storms. To me, they bring a comfort and a feeling of coziness. I took today's storm as an opportunity to get creative with my little ones. No TV, no electronics whatsoever. We had no choice but to bust out the puzzles, stamps and paints, books and rain boots. We played monster, ran through puddles, worm hunted and re connected. It was a wonderful and colorful day-
because we made it be.



Rainy days are for pjs, big blankets, rubber boots, legos, worm hunts, yesterday's hair, lots and lots of books, paints, crayons and adventures.
Today was sweet, and I learned to let creative happen.
 We depend much too much on unimportant things to entertain us.
Need something to help you feel creative?
Make some moon sand! It's super fast and easy. Just mix 8 cups all purpose flour, and 1 cup baby oil. Mix with hands and play!
I like to put it on a cookie sheet or 9x13 pan and give the kids cookie cutters and cups. Then they make moon sand castles.
post signature
Blogging tips