Berry focaccia with goat cheese on www.simplebites.net

Strawberry, Blackberry, and Goat Cheese Focaccia

Strawberry season down here in Texas wrapped up long ago, and while we try to eat as locally as possible, our family can’t resist grabbing boxes and boxes of organic berries at the grocery store.

My son can eat a whole box himself if left to his own devices, but I always try to hold some back in order to create a recipe.

Berry Focaccia with goat cheese on www.simplebites.net

Despite the heat, lately I’ve been feeling the need to bake bread, and I wanted to try a version with sweet fruit. Right now we’re still getting local blackberries (also called dewberries), and they really pack a punch in flavor, especially when paired with other berries. I decided to go ahead and make a focaccia, or as my son called it, “fruit pizza”.

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Honey whole-wheat chocolate chunk cookies on simplebites.net #cookies #chocolate

Honey Whole Wheat Chocolate Chunk Cookies and (not) getting organized

Sometimes an action as simple as baking cookies can make you feel as though you are getting ahead, or at the very least, catching up. That was my experience this week as I faced a daunting to-do list.

I won’t name all my impending tasks at hand, but I will note that the potatoes and carrots are not yet planted in the raised beds. The weeds are starting to pop up and as I have vowed to maintain order in the garden this year, this makes me nervous.

Indoors, the laundry is washed but not folded. A suitcase is lying open with a pair of heels in it – an attempt to pack in advance for my trip to Las Vegas next week, but I’ll undoubtedly end up tossing items in willy-nilly hours before my flight. Oh, and I wanted to make up some meals for the family for when I am gone, and schedule a few posts in advance so I can leave my laptop at home.

But how does one get ahead when life’s daily upkeep threatens to escalate out of control? I haven’t quite figured that one out yet. I prioritize, then prioritize again. I make lists, and star the mega-important items.

I said to Danny recently that I feel like I am failing at the little things – or maybe he kindly pointed it out. I can’t remember. The feeling was mutual, anyway.

Does anyone else ever feel this way? The major undertakings he and I team up on: children are fed, bathed and bedded, email is answered (mostly), the chickens are tended, the fridge is stocked and meals are prepared, and the car had a tune-up recently.

This corner of the internet, and the opportunities it brings, keeps me busy. It’s not quite a 9-5 gig, but it is a big chunk of my day, my weeks. Most days and weeks, I’m the master of my own domain (no pun intended) but those ‘little things’ are getting away on me.
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Coconut Cinnamon Tres Leches Cake with Mango on simplebites.net

Coconut Cinnamon Tres Leches Cake with Mexican Vanilla Whipped Cream

A stout bottle of pure vanilla extract and a dozen, foot-long sticks of cinnamon were among the treasures I carted back to my kitchen from our recent adventures in Mexico. Yes, I also imported the requisite tequila, a pottery piece or two, and a selection of colorful table linens, but I was most excited about the aromatics.

I’ve been eager to pair the vanilla and the cinnamon together in an authentic, merit-worthy dessert – and that pot of rice pudding I scorched a while back doesn’t count. Although it hardly fits into the ‘whole foods’ recipe bracket that I usually aim for, today’sย coconut tres leches cake was just what I was looking for and most deserving of my precious Mexican ingredients.

Coconut Cinnamon Tres Leches Cake with Mango on simplebites.net

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Empanadas: The perfect pocket food (Recipe: Apple Pie ‘Panadas)

empanadas-with-pears-and-cucumbers

Written by Stephanie of Keeper of the Home and EntreFamily Travels.

Have you ever noticed that nearly every culture has its own variation on a “pocket” food?

Chinese gyozas, Japanese rice balls with fish inside, German bierocks (beef, onion and cabbage filling), Mexican burritos and tamales, Italian calzones,ย  Polish pierogies, Indian samosas, English hand pies.

Hand held “pocket” foods, filled up with whatever is seasonal, available or simply leftover, just makes sense. Excellent for sending off with hard working husbands, or when you need a quick meal for hungry children.

They’re economical, easy to eat, and filling. The perfect homemade convenience food!

Empanadas… an Argentine staple

Aside from the famous asado (BBQ beef) and alfajores (slightly crumbly cookies with creamy, sweet dulce de leche oozing in between), empanadas are one of the most loved traditional foods here in Argentina, where our family is currently located during our year-long travels around the world.

Part of the joy of engaging in and experiencing a new culture for me is to experiment with the local foods. My husband conquered BBQ asado perfectly, and I made a pretty tasty batch of alfjores cookies, if I do say so myself. Last on my list was homemade empanadas.

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Honey Whole-Wheat Bagels and this baker’s early beginnings

homemade honey whole wheat bagels on simplebites.net

The summers of my pre-teen years were spent a little differently than those of my friends. Well, weekends, anyway. There were no long gossipy phone calls, girly pajama nights, or mall crawls.

Instead, my sister, Haidi and I spent many a Friday night dusted in flour, hair tied back, baking for the Saturday morning farmerโ€™s market in town. We stayed up working until one or two in the morning, crossing off one item after another from our ambitious list of baked goods, and as the Yukonโ€™s midnight sun was streaking golden colors across Lake Laberge, we would collapse into our bunk beds.

By then the counters would be lined with loaves of honey-wheat sandwich bread and glistening egg-glazed Challah. Our family’s famous Butter Tarts would be carefully packed between tea towels, and trays of sticky cinnamon buns awaited transportation.

Our pride and joy were the golden sesame-toasted bagels, with their crusty bottoms, chewey interiors, and distinctive, slightly misshapen forms. They were boiled, then baked, and a staple in our home – not just on market day.

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