Monday, August 29, 2011

Vacation memories

Yep, it's time for vacation memories again! We had our ninth vacation this year with the Ellenwood and Hash family.

Sadly, this special tradition is coming to a close. In one year three family members will be at college. The year after that another three will leave, and there would only be one kid left. We decided that we wanted to end well, on a high note, and not make something last just "because". We may still do things together, but not as a whole group. This does not mark the end of vacations. This marks the end of vacation as we've known it, and the start of new, different kinds of adventures.

Is there such a thing as too many pictures? No, I don't think so. But, having so many pictures does make it quite hard to choose which ones to share with you! I'll share a few of my favorites from this year...
The whole group!
One of our favorite things to do on vacation: reading in the campground
We have awesome food on vacation, including Uncle Dan's morning eggs!
Our beach is straight ahead! (Taken by Caleb)

Beautiful evening trips to Croatian towns (Taken by Caleb)
The Patty girls!
I get to spend three weeks with this lovely lady on the left. :)

Never a dull moment with Hayley Ellenwood!

The city of Hvar: enchanting. (Taken by Caleb)
Birthday celebration dinner at a local restaurant. Mom turned 50 on the 17th, Noah turned 16 on the 19th!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

JVK camp

Just adding a picture from Wild and Wacky night this many fun memories though! Another great year of camp!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Spicy chickpea soup

A couple of days ago, I wrote about They Draw&Cook. I shared this recipe with you:

Well, now I can say that this recipe was a great success! It was tasty, unique, smooth and fancy-feeling. I made a couple of changes to the recipe:
- I subbed chilli flakes for the Jalapeno pepper and green beans (and frozen at that!) for spinach, because I didn't have any.
- I used a lactose-free cream, so that I could eat this yummy soup too!
- I pureed the soup, to make it creamy and smooth with an immersion blender.
- We served this with some grilled pangasius, which was an excellent combination! A bite of fish, and a spoon-full of soup...yum!

And I just have to share this awesome picture with you. This is my cousin Kendra, on family reunion. Do you see any resemblance?

Audrey Hepburn and Kendra

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Happy Lemon Spritz cookies

Oohh...I just found the happiest cookie recipe ever. Yes, happy. Simply put, eating one of these cookies is a joyous experience.

They taste like heaven in your mouth, though that also makes it hard to stop after just one! Guess you'll just have to indulge in two...maybe three, or four. That's how it went at our house! I had to give away some of them so that we didn't eat them all ourselves. Everyone who tried them loved them just as much. Make them for yourself, and you'll see!

These lemon cookies were fun to make as well. I know it looks hard, but it really doesn't take that much time. And, in the end, it's well worth the work!

Lemon Spritzer cookies (adapted to be gluten-free)
Courtesy of Aran Goyoga, and her beautiful blog Canelle et Vanille 

110 grams butter, room temperature
90 grams sugar
3 egg yolks
1/4 tsp lemon oil
Zest of 1 lemon
180 grams flour - or gluten-free flour blend/mix of your choice
2 grams salt

Cream the butter, sugar, lemon zest and lemon oil together until well combined. Add the yolks and mix until combined. Add the flour and salt and mix.

Place the soft dough into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe rosettes onto a sheetpan lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 350F for about 12 minutes or until lightly golden.

Let them cool completely and fill with the lemon buttercream.

Lemon Buttercream

75 grams egg whites
150 grams sugar
225 grams butter, room temperature
Zest of 2 lemons
1/2 tsp lemon oil
Juice of 1 lemon

Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Place the bowl over a double boiler. Whisk the egg whites and sugar until the sugar starts to melt and the egg whites appear very white and light, almost like a light marshmallow. It should be very hot to the touch.

Remove the bowl from the heat and place in electric mixer. Whip until meringue forms and the bowl feels cool.

Add the softened butter one tablespoon at a time. Add the juice, oil and zest. It might appear as the buttercream is separating. Continue whipping until it comes together.

Claire's Tips: the buttercream is what MAKES these cookies. It is delicious! It would be great on top of a pie as well, or served over some cut fruit. Also, it's up to you if you want to sandwich to cookies like Aran did, or just pipe the buttercream on top, like I did. I tried both, and they both work, so it all depends on what you prefer.