Archive | food

Easy Poppyseed Bread recipe + free illustrated recipe card

This poppy seed bread has been a favorite from first bite.

Vivian, my best friend’s mom (and mentor in every sense of the word) makes this every christmas to give to neighbors, teachers and friends. Years ago she graciously passed on the recipe to me and it is one of my go-to’s for sharable treats as well.

On Father’s day, all four of our kids were baptized and we celebrated afterward with brunch at our house. I do love a good brunch and appreciate homemade breads, scones, muffins and pastries just about as much as anything. I made a few loaves of this poppy seed bread for our family brunch. It was a hit!.

This week, I baked a few more mini loaves for the kids (and because sometimes I just want to bake).  The bread is so simple to make and delicious to eat that I though I’d share Vivian’s recipe with you, too.


4 eggs
3/4 cup oil
1 boxed white cake mix
1 box coconut pudding
1 cup hot water
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup chopped nuts
1/4 cup poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 350.
Mix eggs and oil. Add cake mix and pudding. Stir to combined. Slowly add in hot water. Add coconut, nuts and poppy seeds.
Bake in loaf pan for 45-55 minutes or 4-5 mini loaf pans for 40-50 minutes.

I have a little series of recipe illustrations I’ve been creating and did a new one for this poppy seed bread (I’m pretty smitten with that cake mix box!).

You can find this recipe and the others (blueberry muffins, chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin bread) from THE ARCHIVE, our library of all the best free prints, templates, fonts and more. There are two 5×7 cards per sheet, so print them out, trim around the dotted lines and share with a friend (maybe with a batch of freshly baked bread?!).


If you are curious about how I make these illustrations, I created this video showing the process. Also, if you want to learn how to illustrate like this on your own, take my graphic design classes! I love teaching and you’ll be so proud of what you can create.



continue reading | 24 comments

the dinner solution that has changed my life (for real)

We came home from our summer-long road trip and do you know what was the greatest joy of all?

Having dinner delivered to us again.

I mean, I did fine with cooking on the road – mainly because it was only a few nights per week and we made the same three meals over and over again.

Hamburgers. Burrito Bowls. Grilled Chicken + Salad. Repeat.

But at home, I’m terrible at dinner. Terrible.

Especially once fall is in full swing and there are football practices and ballet lessons and homework and extra work projects added into our daily life. All of the sudden it is 4 o’clock and I have no idea what I’m making for dinner.

I wrote the following post last summer after having used a meal delivery service for six months.

Here we are over a year later and I can still wholeheartedly say that it is the best decision ever. I tell my real life friends about it all the time and can’t help but share with you as well.

So here you go … to my friends who maybe don’t mind the cooking part but can not stand the thinking, planning and shopping for all the right ingredients part … the dinner solution that changed my life.

(Originally published July 2016)

I’ve tried it all.

Planning dinner for the week.

Planning dinner for the whole month.

Eating the same meal on the same day each week. 

A regular rotation of eating out at one of the three restaurants in our town. 

Resorting to quesadillas because that’s the best I could do.

Dinner is just not my thing.

It’s not the cooking that’s the issue (I actually enjoy being in the kitchen – usually for baking, but cooking is fine, too) and I certainly don’t mind the eating part, but it’s the planning that gets me every time.  I just can’t seem to find a rhythm.

In January of this year, Ryan decided it was time to come up with a better solution and offered to take on dinners around here.

After one week of a few botched recipes and realizing just how frustrating it can be to get to 4:00 and have no idea what’s for dinner, he did something crazy: he signed us up for a meal delivery service.

You’ve probably seen posts about companies like Hello Fresh and maybe you’ve rolled your eyes and thought, ‘nah, not for me.’

But hang on. Because I was in the same boat and now I’m fully, completely, 100% a believer.

So here’s how it works: Once per week a box is delivered to your door. Inside are all the ingredients for three meals (we buy the 4 person box and it feeds our family of 6 perfectly, usually with leftovers). Included is a recipe card with the meals and instructions for preparing.

There is a bag of produce/canned items separated for each meal that goes right into the fridge and the proteins packaged separately.

Each night, I just decide which meal to make and pull out the bags + protein needed.

All of the recipes are easy to make and take about 45 minutes to cook.

We were leery at the beginning, I’ll be honest.  What if we didn’t like what they sent? What if the produce and meat was not good quality? What if we got bored of the same meals?

After a year of using Hello Fresh, here’s what we’ve found:

1. Dinnertime is one hundred times less stressful.

I don’t have to think about what’s for dinner. I just open the fridge, pull out a bag and start cooking. All of the ingredients are included except for olive oil, salt + pepper.

2. Three meals per week is perfect.

The other four nights we either eat out, are with friends or family or just make a favorite go-to meal (like burrito bowls).

3. With the exception of about two recipes, we’ve enjoyed every dish.

You can select three out of five options per week, but we usually miss the cutoff and just go with the chef’s choice.  They’ve nearly all been great.

4. In six months, we’ve never had a duplicate recipe.

The meals are similar (protein+carb/starch+vegetable), but the flavors and techniques vary and we’ve tried recipes beyond our regular go-to meals. Many are gluten free and they also have a vegetarian menu.

5. Only once in 24 deliveries have we had a bag with produce that was not perfectly fresh.

And it was only because the balsamic vinegar spilled and mushed the spinach.

6. We are probably saving money. 

The cost per meal is more than we would spend if shopping ourselves, but because I’m barely ever at the store (I just do a Costco trip once/twice per month and a few random add-ons while running through Target), I am buying less, we’re wasting less, and eating out much less. We haven’t calculated the exact savings but even if it’s costing us a little bit extra, the time and stress it saves totally makes up for it.

I sound like a crazy lady, but seriously, this dinner service has changed my life.

We subscribed because we needed a solution and have stuck with it for over a year.

If dinnertime is a struggle for you, stop the madness and give yourself a break. Ryan was so smart to do this for our family and I wholeheartedly recommend giving Hello Fresh a try.

Get $40 off your first box RIGHT HERE.

When you sign up you’ll get $40 off and we get a credit towards our meals. You’ll get a code, too, so if you love the service and tell your friends about it, you can get a credit towards your boxes. Win win!



continue reading | 65 comments

the best blueberry muffin recipe (and a free recipe art print!)

Homemade Blueberry Muffins / jones design company If I have to choose between cooking and baking, I choose baking every time. I come from a long line of bakers and we have a handful of very delicious favorite family recipes. These blueberry muffins are one of them.

The recipe is from my aunt, who is known for her desserts and baked goods. The original recipe is called French Muffins and can be made without the blueberries. You can also skip the muffin liners and coat the muffins completely with cinnamon and sugar, which is a pleasant variation, but a bit messier. I love the blueberries for a varied texture and the muffin wrappers make washing the muffin tins one million times easier, so I tend to favor the easy way.

blueberrymuffinsclose Earlier this week we watched our friends’ kids while they took off on a little getaway and I made these muffins for a quick breakfast. Because waking, clothing, feeding and getting nine kids off to school by 8:10? Um, let’s just say I wanted to be as prepared ahead of time as possible.

SIDENOTE: couples getaways are so good. We are now in the stage of parenting where I’m no longer constantly either nursing or pregnant and the kids are self-sufficient enough where we feel comfortable leaving them with family or friends. This was not always the case and while those earlier years of parenting were so, so sweet, it feels great to be able to take a break every once in a while and spend time away as a married couple.

Our friends have 5 kids and this is the first time they have been on a mini vacation with just the two of them since their honeymoon. Their cutie 7 year old daughter was missing her mom and dad as I was putting the kids to bed and I just kept reminding her that this is so good for her parents. Someday she’ll get it. And I love that they are setting the example to their kids that even though it is a whole lot of work figuring out who is going to watch their many children and it costs a bit to hop on an airplane and stay in a hotel, the benefits are completely worthwhile.

Anyway, back to the muffins. They are delicious. And they were a big hit with the kids.

They would make a lovely addition to your Easter brunch, perhaps? Or for a weekend treat. Or anytime, really, because they are easy to make and taste amazing.

blueberrymuffinig Would you like the recipe?



3 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 eggs
2/3 cup melted butter
1 cup milk
fresh blueberries

2 tbsp cinnamon
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350. Butter one 12-cup muffin tin and one 6-cup muffin tin (or use muffin liners).
In mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.
In stand-up mixer, whisk eggs, melted butter and milk.
Gradually add dry ingredients and stir until well combined.
Fold in blueberries.
Transfer batter to buttered tins and bake for 18 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.
While baking, combine cinnamon and sugar and have melted butter ready as soon as the muffins are baked. Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Makes 18 muffins.


Because the chocolate chip cookie and chocolate chip pumpkin bread recipe prints were so fun to create (and share!), I illustrated the ingredients of the blueberry muffins as well.


You can download your copy from THE ARCHIVE, our library of all the best free prints, templates, fonts and more. There are two 5×7 cards per sheet, so print them out, trim around the dotted lines and share with a friend (maybe with a batch of freshly baked muffins?!).

ONE MORE SIDENOTE: I recorded my screen while creating this recipe card so I could show you what the process looks like. I use Adobe Illustrator and love creating these fun illustrations, and I wanted to show you how wonderfully simple it is to design using the program (just in case you’re still on the fence about joining the Simplified Graphic Design class!). So I recorded the process (which took me about an hour and a half) and was going to finish up editing and speeding up the video later that night.

WELL, we’ve had some weird weather around here and while I was off taking Audrey to ballet, there was wind and hail and lots of rain and our power went out. Which meant the computer shut off. And I never saved the video. BOOOOO. I have a support request in with the video people and hopefully they can help me retrieve the video. If so, I’ll do the edits and post it later this week. If not, well, that’s sad.

In the meantime, I do show how to create illustrations like this in the Simplified Graphic Design Projects + Techniques class and I’d love for you to join me.

Registration is open so hurry my friend and grab your spot!


continue reading | 23 comments

yummy chocolate chip pumpkin bread

yummy chocolate chip pumpkin bread / jones design company

It’s fall, y’all. And that means I’m all about baking things like chocolate chip pumpkin bread.


This version is so moist and muffin-like and the big chocolate chips sweetens it up just the right amount. My family gobbled these two loaves up in no time.

pumpkin chocolate chip bread ingredients / jones design company


makes two loaves

3 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups canned pumpkin
1 1/2 cups canola oil

1 bag chocolate chips (I use milk chocolate)

Preheat oven to 350.
In stand-up mixer, beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil. Gradually add in dry ingredients until just combined.  Pour in chocolate chips.
Pour evenly into two greased loaf pans (4×8). Bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool on wire racks.
Slice and serve.

Yum. You’ll love this bread.


I turned the ingredient illustration into a free print for you!

free pumpkin bread ingredient print / jones design company

There are two 5×7 prints on each sheet. Just download + print on your favorite card stock. These would be super cute to give along with freshly baked bread to a neighbor or friend or teacher!

Download the file HERE

Interested in how you can create your own illustrations? I have created just the class for you!

SIMPLIFIED GRAPHIC DESIGN is open for registration. Learn more HERE.

continue reading | 15 comments

a naked birthday cake


Sounds like a bit of a risque title, yes?!

No, none of that here. Just a gorgeously rustic, very delicious carrot cake.


Have you seen this trend of naked cakes (basically a cake that is not covered in frosting)? I find them to be so pretty and wanted to give it a try for my birthday cake.


It was so easy and looks so fancy (but it’s not!).


I used Ina Garten’s carrot cake recipe (found here) because everything she makes is golden.  She uses fresh pineapple in hers; I substituted crushed pineapple and it works great.  The cake is so moist and chunky and delicious (did I mention delicious?).


I baked the cake in two cake pans, then cut each one in half to make a thin layer (and just used three of them rather than four). The cream cheese frosting in between layers is rich and buttery and my favorite of all.


And for fun, I added my last hydrangea bloom, a few lingering petunias and wire vine from my summer planters.


naked carrot cake / jones design company
We thoroughly enjoyed the cake last night and will be snacking on it for breakfast for the next few days. Because carrot cake with it’s vegetables and fruit is practically healthy (or at least that’s what I tell myself).

*NOTE: turns out hydrangeas are a toxic flower (oopsies). Don’t put it on your cake. Or at least wrap the stem in plastic before putting on your cake. 

continue reading | 17 comments

how to make the most delicious holiday drink at home



You either love it or you hate it.

I happen to fall in the love it category. Like, really, really love it. Served cold, as punch, in french toast – I’ll take it any way because eggnog tastes like Christmas.

And my favorite way to drink eggnog is as a homemade latte.


It’s easy as can be and tastes delicious. I actually don’t drink coffee in the morning, but most days I enjoy an afternoon decaf latte. Here’s what you need to make them at home:


1. tassimo single serve coffee maker
2. gevalia decaf espresso disc
3. darigold eggnog (or your favorite brand)
4. whole milk
5. beville milk frother (best kitchen gadget ever!)
6. microplane grater
7. whole nutmeg
8. favorite monogram mug


Really, it’s quite easy. Just brew a cup of espresso, and add half eggnog, half milk to the frother and push the start button.


When the coffee is brewed and milk hot, pour the eggnog over the espresso, then grate a little bit (or a lot) of nutmeg on top.

pour-and-nutmet Mmmmm.


I heard that some starbucks around the country are not serving eggnog lattes this holiday season (what?!!). But don’t worry … now you can make you own at home. Enjoy!

continue reading | 16 comments

my new (easy!) approach to meal planning


You know what time is not typically the high-point of my day?

4 o’clock.

The kids are home from school, my work day is over (at least until bedtime), and the next big thing on my task list is dinner. Ugh.

It’s not the actual cooking that is problematic and not the eating or even the clean up. It’s the part where I have to figure out what to make that gets me every time.

Except when I’ve taken the time to meal plan. Continue Reading →

continue reading | 64 comments

perfect for your easter brunch: cranberry orange scones

In case you are looking for a last minute addition to your Easter brunch this weekend (or any time, for that matter), these scones are perfect.


Some scones are dry and break into tiny crumbs when you bite into them and these are not like that at all. They are soft and flaky with a hint of orange and sweet cranberries. The recipe is from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook. Her cookbooks are amazing. Every recipe I’ve made of hers is an instant favorite (like her apple crisp and chicken noodle soup and coconut cupcakes). And the pictures are really pretty.

Okay, back to the scones. They are fairly easy to make. Just dump all the dry ingredients in the mixer, add the zest of one orange and cut in cold butter (just try not to think about how much butter you’re using).


Then you add heavy cream and eggs until just combined to form a sticky dough. Before adding cranberries (craisins, actually) she has you toss them in a little bit of flour. Genius idea, this flour-covered-craisin-thing, as they mix in to the dough rather than sinking to the bottom.

Gently roll out the dough on a floured board and cut with a pastry cutter. Or a cup if you don’t have one. #makeitwork


Bake for 20 minutes, drizzle on a light glaze and you have the most delicious homemade scones ever.


I made these for my college girlfriends when they came into town last month and again yesterday afternoon just because. I may even make them again on Sunday. Enjoy!

Cranberry Orange Scones

recipe from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa at Home

i n g r e d i e n t s

4 cups plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 cup dried cranberries
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk, for egg wash
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice

d i r e c t i o n s

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix 4 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, the baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and heavy cream and, with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy! Combine the dried cranberries and 1/4 cup of flour, add to the dough, and mix on low speed until blended.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. You should see small bits of butter in the dough. Keep moving the dough on the floured board so it doesn’t stick. Flour a 3-inch round plain or fluted cutter and cut circles of dough. Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Collect the scraps neatly, roll them out, and cut more circles.

Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch. Allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes and then whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice, and drizzle over the scones.

continue reading | 17 comments

let’s make sea salt caramels


Growing up, we could always count on my grandpa to make two things for our family christmas: rich, chocolaty fudge and creamy, chewy caramels. Both were delicious and have become seasonal favorites in my family now. Yesterday I made both of these treats. Edie has an easy and oh so yummy fudge recipe {right here} and these sea salt caramels are my go-to recipe. I’ve shared it once before, but thought I’d show you step by step in photos because sometimes that takes the fear out of cooking.


These little caramels are irresistible, they make great gifts and can be refrigerated for up to three weeks {although there’s no way they would last that long in my household}.

Here’s what you need:


1 3/4 cup sugar
1 can evaporated milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup light corn syrup
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 Tbsp. coarse sea salt
Oil or cooking spray


medium heavy bottomed pan
wooden spoon {I like this flat wooden spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan}
candy thermometer

STEP ONE // prepare a 9 x 13 baking dish by lining it in parchment paper and lightly oiling


STEP TWO // In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring sugar, evaporated milk, and heavy cream to a boil over medium heat.



STEP THREE // Add corn syrup and continue cooking until mixture reaches 230°


Stir continually and watch that thermometer {or two}. It takes several minutes and it’s important to get it to the exact temperature.


STEP FOUR // Add butter and vanilla; continue cooking, stirring constantly, until caramel reaches 240°


The caramel starts to look more caramelly and thickens and it feels like it takes forever to get to the right temp. Just keep stirring and pull it off the heat right away when it hits 240°


STEP FIVE // Remove from heat, stir in salt


STEP SIX // Carefully pour into a lightly oiled 9″³ x 13″³ baking dish and sprinkle with additional sea salt


Let cool for an hour or so.

STEP SIX //  Remove from baking dish and cut the caramel into 1 inch pieces


STEP SEVEN // To serve candy-store style, wrap individual pieces in parchment paper


and secure the ends with a simple twist.



Servings: Makes about 125 one-inch pieces

Sea Salt Caramels
created by the ladies of Liddabit Sweets courtesy of O magazine.

1 3/4 cup sugar
1 can evaporated milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup light corn syrup
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 Tbsp. coarse sea salt
Oil or cooking spray


Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring sugar, evaporated milk, and heavy cream to a boil over medium heat. Add corn syrup and continue cooking until mixture reaches 230°.
Add butter and vanilla; continue cooking, stirring constantly, until caramel reaches 240°. Remove from heat, stir in salt, and carefully pour into a lightly oiled 9″³ x 13″³ baking dish (parchment paper in the bottom of the pan is helpful).
Let cool at least 1 hour. Invert onto a cutting board covered with waxed or parchment paper and cut into 1-inch pieces with a sharp, lightly oiled knife. Caramels can be wrapped in waxed or parchment paper or cellophane. (To serve candy-store style, wrap individual pieces in parchment paper and secure the ends with a simple twist.) Store airtight at cool room temperature (around 65°) or in the refrigerator; will keep up to 3 weeks.


continue reading | 32 comments

the perfect treat for your weekend

Years ago {like probably 25}, my mom worked with a woman who made these little pastries and they became instant favorites.  They are small, buttery, easy to make and have remained a favorite go-to breakfast treat. I made them for our back-to-school brunch last month and they disappeared quickly. Always a good sign.

Today, I share the beloved recipe with you. Just in time for your weekend.



1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1 cup butter
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt

Cream together cottage cheese and butter. Add flour and salt. Collect dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Divide in 3 parts.  Lightly flour and roll each part into circle about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 12 wedges per circle and roll into crescents. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until lightly golden.

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp butter
1/4 tsp vanilla

Mix together and generously drizzle over warm crescents.


Is your mouth watering? So delicious. Not healthy, but they are small.  Definitely a fun treat to make this weekend.


continue reading | 22 comments

the next big thing in desserts

I was informed yesterday by my father-in-law that the trendy cupcake is so out and the next big thing in the dessert world is … wait for it … the mug cake.

cake in a mug

Maybe it’s not that new … but it’s new to me. You bake a cake in a mug. In the microwave. And it takes about 5 minutes. Why was this not invented sooner?!!

The whole bake-a-cake-in-a-mug thing is new to me, but I’ve been eying these pretty desserts in jars for a while. I suppose it’s the same thing, but just presented differently.

lemon coconut cupcake in a jar

The girls at oh so very pretty {a new favorite blog} share this recipe for lemon coconut cupcakes as well as one for carrot cake {below}. I want to make both immediately.

carrot cake in a jar

Another favorite blogger, Kasey Buick, makes these fancy cheesecakes {with chevre and coconut milk, no less!} in petite jars.

cheesecake in a jar

If you are looking for a cute dessert to make for a party or shower or dinner with friends, perhaps what you need is a mug cake.

Thanks, Bob, for keeping me in the know.

continue reading | 18 comments

4 steps to the perfect {make at home} latte

For our anniversary, Ryan gave me the milk frother I had been wanting. Romantic? Maybe not. But I was thrilled. Each afternoon, I long for a sweet coffee treat and our new set up has not only indulged that craving but has also saved us lots of trips and money spent at our local starbucks.

Here’s my latte-making routine:

4-steps supplies-to-make-latte

step-1-&-2 step-3-&-4


1. I use the bosch tassimo single serve machine {a hand-me-down from Ryan’s parents!} with decaf espresso pods.  It takes seconds for a freshly brewed cup of espresso.

2. All I need is just a splash of vanilla syrup and a heaping teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa powder for that subtly sweet afternoon pick-me-up.

3. Pour milk into the frother and set to desired temperature. Press the button and it whirls the milk around heating it up and making it the most delicious creamy/airy milk

4. Add milk to espresso/flavoring. If you’re fancy you can make little swirls and leaf shapes and hearts with your foam. I haven’t perfected this yet.



Tassimo single-serve coffee brewer
{there are many different single serve coffee makers on the market – or you can just use strongly brewed coffee}

Gevalia decaffeinated espresso pods
{be sure to use the pods specifically made for your machine}

Breville milk frother
{there are many different frothers on the market. I chose this based on reviews and am very happy with it. My one request would be for an even hotter setting. I like my lattes very, very hot}

Vanilla syrup

Cocoa powder
{the only link I could find is for a pack of 10 – you probably won’t want that many – a little goes a long way. I love getting the flavor of chocolate without all the sweetness}

continue reading | 16 comments

the perfect in-between meal for holiday guests

Between a fancy brunch spread one day and a traditional Christmas dinner the next, sometimes you just need a light {but tasty} go-to recipe for those in-between meals.

This one is my very favorite.

We make this all year long for both lunch and dinner and it is always a crowd pleaser.

What’s not to love about grilled bread, fresh mozzarella, toasted pine nuts and kalamata olives?!

This recipe is from Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen and served at one of his famous Seattle restaurants, Dahlia Lounge.

Tuscan Bread Salad {serves 6}

for the mustard vinaigrette:
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 t. Dijon mustard
1 t. minced shallots
1/2 t. chopped fresh thyme
1/2 t. minced garlic
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

for the salad:
1 loaf rustic bread, sliced 1 inch thick
extra virgin olive oil
24 oil-cured black olives, pits removed
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
6 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced or cubed
4 cups loosely packed flavorful salad greens, such as mache, radicchio, arugula, spinach, romaine, endive, washed and dried, torn into bite size pieces
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Freshly ground black pepper

optional: shredded rotisserie chicken

Make the vinaigrette {I use a mason jar and shake to combine}. It will store in the fridge up to a week.

Liberally oil the slices of bread then grill on the grill or under the broiler until golden. Use a serrated knife to cut the bread into bite size cubes.

In a large serving bowl, put the bread in with the olives, tomatoes, mozzarella, parmesan, pine nuts, chicken, basil and greens.  Pour vinaigrette over the salad and mix well.



continue reading | 13 comments

raspberry jam + printable labels {oldie but goodie}

{originally posted 07.11.11 but a good one to revisit}

I’ve been wanting to make homemade jam for a few years, but was intimidated by the intense process of preparing the jars, boiling the liquid, timing everything just right.

But last weekend my Aunt Laura eased my fears and clued me in to the quick and easy way to make berry jam : freezer jam. Since raspberries are perfectly in season, I decided to give it a try. If you have never made jam before, let me encourage you : it is super easy.

freezer jam

Here’s what you’ll need:

freezer jam ingredients

:: 6 cups of fresh raspberries {about 5 6oz baskets}

:: 5 1/4 cups sugar

:: 3/4 cup water

:: 1 box of Sure Jell Fruit Pectin

::8 half pint mason jars

The actual recipe I used is right here, but I’ll walk you though the steps below.

STEP ONE: rinse jars in boiling water and dry thoroughly

rinse jars

STEP TWO: measure 6 cups of ripe raspberries and mash

mash raspberries

raspberries are mushed

STEP THREE: strain seeds

strain the seeds

I didn’t have much patience for the straining process, so I gave up after a few sieve-fulls, but you can remove as many seeds as you wish.

STEP FOUR: add sugar to berries

add sugar

stir in sugar

It is a lot of sugar, but from what I read, the sugar acts as a preservative for the berries so you can’t skimp. If you’d like a sugar free version, Sure Jell sells a no-sugar-needed pectin.

While the sugar is dissolving in the berries :

STEP FIVE: add the fruit pectin to water and bring to a boil

sure jell

Stir constantly and allow to boil for one minute.


STEP SIX: Add pectin to berry mixture and stir for three minutes

add pectin to raspberries

STEP SEVEN: pour jam into prepared jars and seal tightly

pour into jars

Allow the jam to sit out for 24 hours, then it is ready to eat. You can store an opened container in the refrigerator for up to three weeks and in the freezer for one year.

jars of raspberry jam

I had a fun time decorating my jars of jam using scraps of fabric, bakers twine {from here}, flax colored yarn, houndstooth & dotted papers from my printable paper collection, and a faux raspberry from the craft store.

What special gifts these will make {maybe with some fisher scone mix? Yum}.

jam collage

I created two different labels that you are welcome to download and print {join the archive below}.

raspberry jam full label raspberry-jam-round

And just in case you are making strawberry jam, here are labels for that:

strawberry jam full label strawberry jam round


Just to show you behind the scenes while I’m doing craft projects, here is what my office looked like while I was embellishing my jam jars. What a mess!

what a mess

continue reading | 14 comments

we’re making crepes

Saturday morning breakfasts are a tradition in our household and our most favorite of all breakfast treats are crepes {or swedish pancakes}. Thin, buttery and easy to make.

FYI: I just looked up the difference between crepes and swedish pancakes and it turns out there is a difference.  Crepes are thinner and can be sweet or savory; swedish pancakes are only sweet. So apparently, what we’re actually making are:

Start by melting the butter in a large pyrex measuring cup and whisk in the milk, eggs and vanilla.

Next, slowly add the dry ingredients, whisking to combine and smoothing any lumps. You may notice flecks of melted butter – that’s okay.

While mixing the batter, melt butter in saute pan over medium heat {I use two pans to make the pancake making faster}.

Pour a small amount of batter into hot pan

and swirl to thin and spread around the pan.

After a minute or so, gently flip and cook another 30 seconds.

Stack them up and keep heated in a warmed oven. Or just eat them as you cook them.

Top them with maple syrup, jam, fresh fruit, whipped cream, lemon juice & powdered sugar, or a combination of all.

Guess what day we ate these?

continue reading | 39 comments