It’s June and while it may not officially be summer, school is out and the summer heat is just getting turned on.My garden is finally getting the kick it needed. One of the few fruits of my yard I have been enjoying is my raspberries.They over spill in a flower bed near our back porch.I have a table where I write and draw at that’s right next to the raspberry bed.I can reach out and snatch a snack when needed.As a teenager I developed a sever allergy to the “other red berry” so raspberries are my go to berries.
While these late spring temps are still pleasant we know the heat is coming. One thing I always look for as the temperatures rise outside is a way to cook that does not heat up my house. Dessert, in my opinion, is often greatly overlooked. Sometimes you just want a little dessert that doesn’t involve a major baking event.A small one or two serving creation doesn’t sit around on your counter tempting you to indulge.So in my desire to beat the heat and not eat a whole cake myself I created this microwave cup of cake recipe.
I can hear you now. “Microwave?!”But trust me on this.Think of it as a grown up much tastier version of our Easy Bake Oven adventures.The recipe is easily adaptable to many flavors.But since I have raspberries in abundance and there’s always an occasion for chocolate, I whipped up this version of a Choco-Raspberry Micro Cake.
This is also a quick and easy recipe for the kids to make.Watch the video of my son and me whipping up a bowl.
A tasty snack is all my kids need to turn a bad attitude around. I’ve learned that the twobest tools to deter any kind of bad attitude are humor and delicious snacks.
When things get a little tense around the house because someone is having a bad day or bad attitude it’s time for some laughs and snacks. Bad attitudesnever happens at your house, because your house is perfect right??? Just kidding, I know we are all normal and have our days when we are just a little grouchy.
One morning recently, there were sibling squabbles and bad attitudes hanging around our house for no real reason. I decided to somehow get our day turned in a better direction. So, I turned on some fun music, did a few crazy dances, whipped up some quick bread, and got my kids to laughing and having fun.
After our bread was ready, I whisked everyone outside on the back porch to have a snack with some fancy teacups and I read our overdue library books to them.
Voila. Attitudes changed. The blueberry bread was magic.
I know it’s not the actual bread that changed their attitudes, but it’s the love, laughter, and conversations shared around a snack that tied heart strings together.
Who can be upset when eating fresh blueberry bread, sitting on the back porch on a sunny day, drinking lemonade out of tea party cups, and reading funny picture books?
Quick breads are a go-to hosting treat for us because they are so quick and simple. The ingredients are things that you always have around.
Whenever you make one, always make two and freeze one! You can give it to a friend or pull it out for breakfast on a busy morning.
When we make a quick bread, we always pour a mini loaf to take to a neighbor or friend. I try to keep the disposable mini loaf pans on hand so we can always do that. This time, I was out. But, I did have mini pie tins and they worked just as well.
After all attitudes were adjusted I gave my kids the gift of giving hospitality and they delivered a mini pie/loaf quick bread to some neighbors. Being generous always brings a cheerful heart.
Amanda Farris is a former teacher/coach who hung up the whistle when she got promoted to mom. She still keeps those competitive juices by running in local races and playing competitive board games with her kids. She is the reigning Jenga champion in her home.
Heather Audrisch Haywood doesn’t do anything half way.
I met her last year when we worked together on public relations for Goodwill Industries of Arkansas. One morning, I walked into our suite, my dress clinging to me like child with separation issues. I kept pulling at my hem and finally asked Heather if she had any static guard. Of course, she did.
I spritzed a dainty bit, which helped not at all. Heather gave me the drollest look and said, “Girl. That will NOT cut it. Come here.”
And she yanked my skirt away from my legs and sprayed a healthy dose of static guard ALL around. “Well,” I said as she capped the bottle. “We’re friends now.”
Taking care of business isn’t the only thing Heather and I have in common. We both come from Arkansas farm families and grew up “puttin’ up” vegetables and fruits from gardens, truck patches, fields and orchards our families have. Heather’s paternal grandparent had a peach orchard in Union County, and her Grandmother Audrisch, who operated a café there, made a peach pickle with Indian peaches from her husband’s trees. She also picked blackberries, taking Heather with her, and made jam from their haul. Her maternal grandparents always had a garden, and Heather remembers having to shell peas before she could go to the pool in the summers.
“We canned everything,” she said. “After I was grown, I continued that tradition by making my own jam and preserves as gifts for neighbors and coworkers. That lead me to entering the Arkansas County Fair last year, and it was a hoot. I plan to do it again this fall.”
Heather, who lives with her husband Ken and black Labrador retriever River in Stuttgart, took home seven first place ribbons for her entries in the county fair: one each for her blueberry, cherry, blackberry and plum jam and preserves and one for best in show.
“I loved every minute of it,” she said. “I plan to go back this year to defend my title, and I’m already thinking of what I’ll enter.”
The secret to Heather’s winning recipe is freezing fresh fruit in the summer. “When I make jams and preserves in the fall, the flavor is more robust, and it doesn’t seem to foam as much when you cook it.”
She has even become somewhat of a legend among her friends and family members as they reserve her preserves for special occasions.
“I’ve had people tell me that they save my preserves for Christmas morning,” she said. “It’s become a part of their tradition, and I’m proud they think what I’ve made is special enough to save for the people they love most. That’s what I like about canning and preserving food. It brings together family and tradition, and you know exactly what’s inside and what you’re feeding your loved ones. More and more people are coming back to canning, and the process and equipment has much improved from the time I did it as a kid. I would encourage anyone to try it.”
In addition to jam and preserves, Heather makes homemade mustard and is experimenting with homemade body lotion using only organic ingredients. If that weren’t enough, Heather says that if you return her jars, she’ll refill it for you.
K.D. Reep: Heather Haywood’s Arkansas County Fair Blue Ribbon Blueberry Preserves
4 cups prepared blueberries (washed and crushed)
1 1.75-ounce box Sure-Jell Premium Fruit Pectin
4 cups granulated sugar
NOTE: This recipe was adapted from the Sure-Jell fruit jam and preserves recipe.
Bring boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.
Measure exactly 4 cups prepared fruit into 6- or 8-quart saucepot.
Stir pectin into crushed blueberries in saucepot. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly one minute while stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon.
Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within a quarter inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by one-to-two inches. Add boiling water, if needed.)
Cover; bring water to boil.
Process 10 minutes then remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely.
After jars are cool, check seals by pressing middle of lids with finger. (If lids spring back, lids are not sealed. However, you can refrigerate these jars to consume safely within a week.)
KD Reep is a writer, public relations practitioner and aspiring author in Little Rock. She owns Flywrite Communications Inc., a marketing communications agency in Mabelvale. She is a six-time recipient of the Public Relations Society of America’s Prism award and has been published statewide as well as in the Arkansas Times, Inviting Arkansas, Savvy Magazine, Bourbon & Boots, Arkansas Money & Politics, Delta Farm Press and Rice Farmer magazine, among others.
While I like to experiment in the kitchen, sometimes it’s just nice to go with the familiar. And easy. That’s exactly what this Poppy Seed Chicken is for me. Familiar and easy. Honestly, I mostly make this from memory.
Do you have those dishes you make so frequently that you have to stop and think when someone asks you for the recipe? There’s a bit of comfort in that, I think.
This Poppy Seed Chicken screams comfort. I usually divide the casserole in half and freeze part for later use or share it with someone. It sure is nice to have a ready meal available in the freezer for those busy, busy days. It’s also nice to be able to share as well.
Serve this with a simple salad and vegetable side and your meal is made.
I am a southern girl, through and through I tell ya, born and raised here in Arkansas. But one thing I don’t always find joy in here in the south is the summer heat. Well, more specifically the humidity and sticky feeling that comes with it. Yuck, I mean can’t a girl get a couple months of nice dry heat without all the sweating? It’s not like I can live in the pool all summer, although that does sound amazing!
Here I am confessing that I am not a fan of the sweltering heat, but there are a many things that I do love about spring and summer time. One of those things being all the local berries I have access to. I am super lucky when it comes to living just over a mile from a local blueberry farmer. How awesome is that?
Renee’s Berry Farm has the most amazing blueberries and each year I find myself anticipating their opening. They are a small and charming farm and everyone around here loves to go reap the benefits of the owner’s hard work. So the short window of their blueberry season is usually a very busy one. If you drive by on those mornings, the popularity of their farm can be measured by all the cars parked in their lot. If you don’t keep an eye on the opening dates and get there early each morning, you may sadly miss out. Oh, what a sad day that would be!
My family loves berries and we use them in many ways throughout the year so it is important to me that I always stock up on these wonderful blueberries and freeze some for the colder months. There are so many ways to enjoy them like smoothies, cobblers or crumbles, muffins, and of course coffee cake.
Ah, coffee cake, such a wonderful invention in my opinion. Considering I live off coffee most days it is only natural that I would love a cake that pairs so well with my steamy cup of “liquid mom power”. This Blueberry Coffee Cake is such a treat, and it is always good with my dear coffee! It is moist with a buttery crumble on top, bursting with that blueberry flavor! Along with the amazing flavor, it is also easy to make. The recipe comes together pretty quickly, making it a great weekend breakfast, a nice surprise for your company after dinner, or any spacial occasion when you want a tasty snack.
Oh, who am I kidding, who needs a special occasion for cake? Not me, that’s for sure. After all, it is sugar and gluten free so no worries about guilt when you have a slice, or two! I hope you enjoy this coffee cake around your table as much I do around mine. It really is part of the magic that gets this girl through hot southern days! Okay, okay, I might be complaining a little about hot sweaty summer temps or all the trips to the storm shelter during spring, but I wouldn’t change one thing about living in Arkansas. Well, maybe the tornado thing, but even still, I love my hot mess of a life here! But, the blueberries, this coffee cake, and my air conditioning sure make it a lot more enjoyable, just saying!
Keri is a sassy southern girl who loves cooking, reading and spending time with her family. She is a former corporate minded gal turned homeschool mom and baker. When she’s not covered in some flour you can find her blogging about recipes and getting healthy over at My Table for Three. Keri loves to share and interact on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
For fifteen years I lived a dairy-free life and a gluten-free life for five of those years. Those were challenging years, to say the least. Those were the days where you had to travel to large cities and specialty shops to find pre-packaged goodies and staples. Oftentimes it was a crapshoot on whether that $6.00 teeny tiny bag of pasta was actually going to taste anything like pasta… or disintegrate in the boiling water.
While I am no longer gluten-free or dairy free (read the story on nwafoodie) , ninety percent of the time I still gravitate towards gluten-free dishes. All those years proved to me that eating with limitations has merit. You learn to cook, for instance, because no longer can you mindlessly dial the pizza delivery guy or make something quick, easy, and simple as sandwiches or reach for the pint of ice cream if you had a sweet craving.
For those of you who are still living a gluten-free or dairy-free lifestyle or have a loved one who is, this recipe is for you. Actually, scratch that. This recipe is for all of us, including myself. It’s delicious and deliciousness knows no boundaries.
Arkansas Women Blogger member Lyndi Fultz writes about living and eating well from her life in beautiful Northwest Arkansas at nwafoodie. Much of her blogging inspiration comes from this gem of a place, which she refers to as the proverbial land of milk-and-honey. Read more related to cooking, entertaining, gadget suggestions, ingredient explorations, local finds, local restaurant treasures, kitchen tour spotlights, and always with a healthy and simplistic approach.
A couple years ago I was flying to a blog conference in Dallas and grabbed a bite to eat in the airport before I left and had the most amazing Queso Chicken Pasta of my life. Who knew some queso and chicken would taste so good over pasta??
When I got home from that conference I decided to try to make it myself and it turned out to be super simple and super delicious! I have tried several variations of the recipe over the year but this is one I keep going back to, the simple one!
You literally just boil your pasta, boil your chicken, and make some two-ingredient queso and mix it all together. In the past I have added garlic, bell peppers and onions, Fiesta Nacho Cheese Soup, milk and some other things but so far the four ingredient recipe I am sharing with you today is my favorite!!
I am a huge fan of any and all Mexican food but sometimes I get tired of the same ole tacos, burritos, nachos, etc and I think this pasta is a yummy shift from traditional Mexican recipes. Plus it’s pasta so it’s a total comfort food. I haven’t tried it before but I bet it would be good with taco meat as well. I mean anything is good with queso, right?
Ricci is an Respiratory Therapist by day and a lobgger by night. She loves big hair, anything monogrammed, traveling and living in the natural state. She has one fur child, a dog named Sophie, and thoroughly enjoys being the “cool Aunt” to her many nieces and nephews. You can catch up with her on her lifestyle blog, Ricci Alexis, or find on any social media platform as @riccialexis
What causes that beckoning aroma after a rain? What causes the alluring fragrance of fresh-plowed soil? What causes the enticing earthy spice in beets?
Geosmin! (Say: GEE oze min.)
Geosmin is a bicyclic alcohol, responsible for transforming common things such as rain, into perfume.
You wouldn’t think it would also create the muddy taste that sometimes occurs in catfish, but it does.
Don’t worry! It won’t harm you any more than tipping up your face and catching Spring raindrops on your tongue.
But mostly, we don’t exactly prefer it in our catfish, do we?
They say to avoid it in fish we should hook them during cool weather, remove any dark-colored flesh, soak the rest in milk or vinegar, and several other tactics.
Scientists predict the vinegar actually could work, because geosmin breaks down when exposed to acid. But wouldn’t the fish taste pickled? And doesn’t milk include acid? I vote for milk!
However, once that part is over you know you must dredge catfish in cornmeal or coat it in a heavy batter; deep fry it in peanut oil; also fry breaded onion rings, French fries, and hush puppies (which are blobs of cornmeal mush stuff left over from breading or battering things). Then you can sit down and eat all that greasy food, most of which is heavily loaded with carbohydrates, a bad mix for many diets, these days.
I wanted something different. (I’m from the north, y’all!)
Since in our family, we all like to eat fish and don’t even mind enjoying a bit of catfish on occasion, I decided to invent a recipe for frying catfish that would be more health-giving for us. I love inventing recipes! I decided to pan fry on a lower heat and to use a health-friendlier oil, plus a breading that is low in carbohydrates.
The first task was to pick the breading ingredients. After considering coconut flour, almond flour, soy flour, flax meal, and whole wheat, I decided to go with whole almond flour. I reasoned that if we did not like something that mild, we certainly would not appreciate all the rest, and definitely not a mixture.
After that, I had to decide upon an oil. The first time I made this dish, I used olive; the second time I tried coconut oil. I suppose I’ll make this many times, to decide finally, but right now I’m leaning toward olive oil.
Then, to replace the carb-high potatoes and corn, I wanted to try marrow squash, also known as “spaghetti squash”. We’d enjoyed it merely buttered, and a few times supporting various Italian sauces. This would be an enormous departure from the traditional Southern experience, but a food adventure I was ready to try.
Finally, to round it off, I chose good ol’ low-glycemic, vitamin-loaded sweet potatoes. Boiled and buttered, they are one of our favorite go-to sides.
I had to buy the squash. Although it is easy enough to grow in Arkansas, and keeps quite well in a cool dark place, the deer have attacked our gardens with great gusto the last couple of years. I’m happy for their dietary enrichment, but I’m about to join our neighbor down the highway, who has fenced his garden with ten-foot chain link topped with razor wire.
I kid you not. The critters are thick around here.
But back to the kitchen!
Steaming a marrow squash is easy enough to do if you own a steamer. Just quarter, remove the seeds and excess membrane, and place it in the steamer over boiling water to simmer for about 20 minutes, or until fork-tender.
The difficult part is opening it before cooking, and that can be a mildly dangerous task if you don’t know how. I use a large knife that is recently sharpened, and watching out for my fingers, I aim for the center, chopping the squash once with the sharp edge of the knife. It usually cuts about ½” deep into the fruit. At that point, I can lift the knife, which is jammed hard into the squash, and the squash lifts with it. Taking care to keep fingers in safe places, I raise the knife, heavy with the squash, about four inches and then bang the squash, with the knife in it, down hard on the cutting board. I may have to repeat, but this works well. Once you have it in halves, clean out the seeds and loose fibers. Then quartering it is surprisingly easy.
I like to multi-task when I’m cooking, so I usually start the squash steaming before I work on the other parts of the recipe. That way the squash can have time to cool for handling, and then be warmed again before serving.
Another word of caution, this time about releasing the “spaghetti” from the cooked squash shell: It must be cooled, first. There are very few ways to handle a piece of food that is boiling hot. Potholders, I found, will soak through and can scald you. I’ve used tongs before, but that’s awkward. It really is best to let the squash cool on a plate, flesh-side up, about ten minutes, shred it out of the shell, and then reheat the “spaghetti”.
If you have more of the squash than you need, for this meal, it is delicious when reheated, with or without a chopped green onion and some pepper, in a buttered pan with a lid. Add a bit of cream and shredded cheddar cheese at the last minute, and it makes another lovely, and very quick, side for low-carb enjoyment.
The recipe shown here includes four catfish filets. It was a lot for two people to eat, really, but I was hoping for left-overs.
Katharine Trauger: Low-carb Pan-fried Catfish Over Marrow Squash
"4 large (aproximately 4 ounce) catfish filets
2 cups milk
1 marrow squash (spaghetti squash)
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup olive oil or cooking oil of choice
1 egg, beaten
4, ¼” slices of onion
Salt to taste
1/2 cup additional almond flour, if needed
½ cup Chardonnay, Chablis, or white Zinfandel "
Thaw (or soak) filets in milk for 4 hours in refrigerator.
Wash squash. Cut in half. Scoop out seeds and loose membrane. Cut into quarters or eighths. Steam 20 minutes or until flesh separates easily. Allow to cool ten minutes or to handling temperature. Remove flesh and arrange on ovenproof platter and keep in 150 degree oven.
Remove fish from milk. Rinse and drain.
Mix almond flour and pepper in shallow dish such as a pie plate.
Heat oil in non-stick skillet to “splatter” temperature.
Coat one filet in egg, then in almond flour/pepper mix.
Place one onion slice in oil in pan and top with one coated filet.
Repeat for each filet/onion slice.
Fry filets on onion slices, uncovered, for about 7 minutes. Turn filets with onion slices, allowing onion to rest on filet. Salt lightly
Fry until filet separates easily.
Remove filets to top the squash on platter. Return platter to warm oven.
Pour most of hot oil into heat-proof container to cool, being careful to keep as much pan residue in pan as possible. Try to retain only about two tablespoons of oil in pan.
Return pan to heat, bringing to medium-high temperature. Stir in remaining almond flour left from breading filets, and stir constantly to brown slightly. If no flour is remaining, stir in 1/2 cup additional almond flour and brown. Immediately de-glaze pan with wine, continuing stirring until slightly thickened.
Pour sauce over filets and squash. Serve immediately.
Multitasking Note: If you desire to serve the sweet potato as a side with this dish, peel, slice, and boil 1/2 potato for each serving, while steaming squash, then keep warm in ovenproof dish with lid, in warm oven with squash.
Katharine Trauger is a retired educator and a women’s counselor. She has spent 25 years managing a home and school for children who would otherwise have been homeless, and has worked 15 years as contributor and/or columnist for several small professional magazines, with over 60 published articles. She blogs about the rising popularity of “being at home” from a sun room on a wooded hilltop in the Deep South at: Home’s Cool! and The Conquering Mom and tweets at Katharine Trauger (@KathaTrau). She is currently working on a self-help book entitled: Yes, It Hurts, But . . .
Biscuit’s what we’ve been talking about all month.Grands has perfected them and we can get them in a can or frozen by the bag.Our Sister, has yet to let us in on her secret, but who cares when you can eat them by the panful (or as a cinnamon roll or wrapped around a sausage link)!Homemade are soft and fluffy with that perfect golden edge. And, I’ve already told you guys that I’m the luckiest gal because Mr. McKinney < http://arkansaswomenbloggers.com/keisha-mckinney-mr-mckinneys-biscuits/> has them down pat, or at least by the recipe he keeps on the notepad in his phone!
The 5th of this month was our first Anniv and we celebrated by a quick weekend away in Natchez, MS.One of the perks of being in South AR is that it was only a 5 hour drive.We felt like we got away without having to go to far…and you know we made it in to an adventure!
When I was doing my excursion research, I found that they had a biscuit tour.Yep, you read that right.My husband was taking me away for a weekend straight off the set of Steel Magnolias with southern homes, southern cooking, coffee shops, flower gardens, and potentially a trip to the casino.I had to find something to get him through the weekend.We bought our tickets at the visitor center and with our biscuit passport in hand we were off.Except, no one in town on the biscuit tour stop knew they were a biscuit tour stop so showing our card and asking for biscuits really became the best excitement of the trip.If you think ladies in AR get in a tizz when they don’t know what’s going on…you should see a Mississippi 60 yr. old Southern Belle try to figure out what to do with your card so she “still gets paid.”
None the less, biscuits are heaven.We had them traditional with homemade jam.Plain with butter melted on top.Cut like silver dollars (my new personal favorite).But, the best were the savory ones with bits of bacon and herbs spread throughout.They were so magical that one particular restaurant used this biscuit dough as a topper to their brisket pot pie and I could not stay out of it.
Growing up, my mama always kept “cheap” biscuits on hand and I find myself doing the same thing.Whether its to put in the bottom of a cupcake tin as the base of an appetizer, when I forget to get something for Sunday breakfast, or to make the amazingness we really came here to talk about today…Easy Monkey Bread. This is one of those recipes for me I just always remember my mama making.And one of the earliest she let me help her with.
Its easy to make, it only takes a few ingredients.And, you can put it in the oven and still have time to take a shower and fix your hair and serve it piping hot at home or even take it on the road and impress your coworkers.
Now that I’m the grown up, I do sometimes switch out butterscotch pudding mix for the cinnamon and with the melted butter, it makes a super caramel sauce on top.
[stextbox id=”custom” direction=”ltr” shadow=”false” bwidth=”3″ color=”030303″ ccolor=”030303″ bcolor=”030303″ bgcolor=”FAFAFA” cbgcolor=”FAFAFA” bgcolorto=”FAFAFA” cbgcolorto=”FAFAFA” image=”null”]All I can say is hot or cold, it’s biscuits, covered in cinnamon, sugar and butter.Enjoy![/stextbox]
Keisha (Pittman) McKinney is settling in to her new married life in South AR after she #becamemrsmckinney. A Digital Media Director by day for a church in Northwest Arkansas, Keisha is remembering what its like to plan ahead for shopping trips to “the city,” getting resourceful at her small town Walmart and creating online shopping personas everywhere. She blogs @bigpittstop about daily adventures, cooking escapades, #bigsisterchats and the social justice cases on her heart.
I have always enjoyed a good morning Monkey Bread. Soon after getting married, a friend of mine was over helping me get ready for a Christmas party. She asked why you couldn’t make a Monkey Bread with savory ingredients. We laughed it off at first, but then as we grew tired of baking and cooking, we decided we had nothing to lose by creating a recipe and giving it a try. I don’t really recommend trying new recipes or experimenting before a party, but I have to say, I have had some pretty good luck with doing just that. This recipe is a perfect example! I have even been known to throw in a little browned Italian sausage for a heartier version. I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as my friend and I have.