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    Recipe: S'mores Pie

    Monday, July 14, 2014

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    No food evokes thoughts of summer quite like s'mores. Sweet, crunchy, gooey...everything about the layers of graham cracker, chocolate, and marshmallow make it the perfect, most delicious end to any summer meal. But what about the mess? Normally I'm okay with the strings of toasted marshmallow on my fingers mixed with melted chocolate; it's a part of the whole s'mores experience.

    Thats said, my mind was opened to new possibilities this weekend while reading through How Sweet It Is. She made the most scrumptious looking s'mores pie. The moment I had a glimpse of the toasted topping and creamy looking chocolate interior I knew it would be on our Sunday dinner menu.

    My family hasn't stopped thanking me.

    Here is what you'll need to create your own delicious taste of summer. Preheat your oven to 325. While it heats, make your crust and pie-filling. For the crust you'll need 1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs and 1 1/4 sticks butter, melted. Using a 9 inch pie plate, add the melted butter and graham cracker crumbs together and press around the bottom and sides until a crust forms. Don't be surprised if the crust doesn't go all the way up the sides. Depending on the depth of your pie plate, it may simply form a shallow crust. This is fine.

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    Once your crust has been made, start on the filling. Using a recipe from Tyler Florence, in a pot on the stove I combined 1 cup heavy cream and 1/2 cup milk over low heat. Watch it carefully, and once it begins to simmer remove from heat and add in 10 ounces of semisweet chocolate. It can be chips or a bar, chopped into small pieces. I used the Hershey's semi-sweet chips since it's a classic s'mores staple. Stir with a spatula until the chocolate is melted then whisk in 2 tbsp. of sugar and 1/4 tsp. of salt. In a separate bowl, lightly beat 2 eggs. Slowly add eggs to chocolate mixture while whisking, then pour the chocolate filling on top of the crust. Tyler’s directions call for the filling to be baked for 15-20 minutes, but this is crazy since mine required a full 40 minutes. It really depends on your oven, so pay attention and check every 5-10 minutes after the 20 minute mark. You're trying to make sure your chocolate mixture is no longer liquid. Jiggly is fine, so however long it takes for you, make a note so you'll know when you make this again.

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    Once the chocolate is no longer liquid, remove the tart and top with as many large marshmallows as you can fit. This is the perfect job for children since you can get silly with the amount. If they eat a few that "happen" to fall off the pie plate, that's good, too.

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    Place the pie back in the oven so the top can get that beautiful, toasted look. It smells so good and looks even better! And this makes the next part really, really hard.

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    To enjoy your s'mores pie you must let it cool, then refrigerate for 1-2 hours before cutting. My guess is you could eat it right out of the oven, but it might be too hot and the marshmallow topping would slide right off. A scoop of vanilla ice cream could certainly cut the heat, but what's the point of a s'more if the marshmallow is gone? If you're willing to be a daredevil I'd love to hear all about it.

    Finally, to serve, it's important to spray a knife with non-stick spray. And if it falls apart, just lift pieces out with a spoon. It’s just as delicious~and still messy enough~to be a good and proper s'more.

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    Enjoy!

    A Simply Delicious Platter

    Tuesday, July 1, 2014

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    Last week I got together with a few girlfriends to discuss our Fall fundraiser, Gingerbread Boutique. We met at The Stonehaus, a breathtaking enoteca that makes you feel as if you've just arrived in Italy. I'll have to tell you more about it later. It's amazing. While we were there we brianstormed, drank wine, dined on salad, and had the most wonderful formage & charcuterie board. If you follow me on Instgram you may remember the picture I posted. It was delicious, and unsurprisingly, has been on my mind ever since.

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    Friday night we were going to spend the evening at our local park listening to music, but when pink eye invaded the home, plans changed. We already had most items already on hand, and it was a great way to satisfy a craving, so I decided to put together a family-friendly fromage & charcuterie platter. I had pictures from our meeting which provided a great deal of inspiration. We would need a few different cheeses(hard, soft, earthy, tangy), meats (at least two), fruits to cut the saltiness, nuts, and grains. With cues taken from The Stonehaus and making sure to have something for everyone, here is what I created.

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    From the top going clockwise, we had one sliced anjou pear(firmness is important), a subtle, soft blue cheese, thinly sliced capicola, mini Babybels, prosciutto di parma, red grapes, salami, and the creamiest brie. Placed here and there amoungst it all, we had whole grain crackers and lightly toasted and buttered baguette slices. You'll see in some pictures that we also had two silver stands with toasted almonds and macadamia nuts as well. Why were they separate instead of on the platter with everything else? My son has allergies, and while he has never had a reaction to nuts, I like to play it safe. It can't hurt.

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    This was probably one of the easiest meals we'd had in a while. The children loved being able to decide what went on their plates, and we all enjoyed how casual it was. I highly reccommend putting a platter~or board~like this together if you're looking for an easy lunch or dinner. It's surpringly light. Even when we were finished, we were full, but no one had that heaviness that can often follow a meal.

    What I loved most about this meal, however, was the simplicity. Cheese, meat, fruit, crackers...most of us have these things already so putting together a small one doesn't require much effort. I'll definitely do this again; more than likely for a girls night in. For a more rustic feel I'll probably add a small bowl of olives, fruit spreads, and serve it on a large serving board instead of a platter.

    I like preparing food for my family, but when your child is sick or the temperatures rise, the last thing you want to do is stand over a hot stove. Try making your own platter with a few of your favorites. More than likely, you'll find it simply delicious.

    Simple Gifts

    Wednesday, June 18, 2014

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    For almost 12 years my children have been giving their teachers tokens of their thanks. For gift giving purposes in general, I like keeping things simple. Something sweet and from the heart is the mantra I've tried to teach them.

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    Have we purchased gifts instead of making them? Absolutely. Many times. But I much rather the time I get to spend with my daughter and son as we create something together. They have a hand in all parts of the assembly, and once we're finished, they write notes and get to hand deliver something that they worked on from start to finish.

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    Since first making them, I have had a few requests for more of the butterscotch scones. Naturally, Jackson wanted to bring some to his teachers as end of the year gifts. It was a great idea. I picked up some boxes, crinkle filler, and a pretty orange ribbon that was similar color to the butterscotch chips, then we made a batch together. He helped me assemble everything, and as we enjoyed a sample or two (or three), we wrote letters to his teachers. We slid them beneath the ribbons, gave each other high-fives, and prepared ourselves for the last day of school.

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    Both teachers were delighted with the sweet treat! I'm so glad. Jackson took great pride in choosing the gift for his Kindergarten teachers. It made him happy to have a hand in all the preparations. The scones were definitely sweet, but the thought put into them was even sweeter. Onto 1st Grade and High Scool...and another year of simple gifts.

    A Sixth Birthday Celebration

    Tuesday, June 17, 2014

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    Six is such a sweet, tender age. Jackson is funny, kind-hearted, and always ready for a big hug. His laugh is positively infectious! That said, this age also comes with its share of challenges. We quickly learned during Madeline's younger years that sometimes there were issues with hosting birthday parties at home. When they're much younger, and even older, home parties are pretty easy. But there is something about the inbetween years of 4-6 that necessitate a party where the children can run free and and let loose.

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    I was very thankful for the California Cartwheel Center. One of Jackson's friends hosted her birthday party there and after, it was all he could talk about. A place where the children could run, climb, and jump to their hearts content? Check! A party where you could relax and enjoy watching your child while someone else ran the event? Check! Even the price was right. This past weekend Jackson hosted a group of his friends from school, and a great time was had by all. It was a birthday he will always remember.

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    Though there wasn't much decorating to be done, the birthday boy (who loves Star Wars) requested cupcakes with icing the color of lightsabers and gift bags in shades of Sith Lords. My son certainly knows what he likes and I was happy to oblige.

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    Did I mention the icing colored everyones lips, teeth, and tounges? The kids loved it, and this happy accident took the end of the party to a whole new level of fun. Everyone took great pride in making faces at one another and seeing who could out-silly the other.

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    You would think this would've been Jackson's favorite moment of the party, but that honor went to the harness flying! As the birthday boy, he was able to jump and fly as high as he wanted for a few minutes. You would have thought he died and went to heaven. That is every little Jedi's dream.

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    At the end of his party, Jackson met each of his guests by the exit and passed out little red and black bags filled with thank you gifts. A ring-pop, a click-clacker, a whistle, and a can of silly string filled each bag. We love our silly string, and clearly, so do the children.

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    Thank you to everyone who came and celebrated our sweet son. You're all such good friends and family to him and to us. We appreciate it more than you could know. Happy summer, friends! We'll see you at the splash pad.

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    A Day for Father & Son

    Monday, June 16, 2014

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    Six years ago on June 15th, my tiny miracle, Jackson, was born. It happened to fall on Father's Day, and at the time we joked no gift could possibly top his arrival into our lives. Fast forward to this weekend, and once again his birthday has coincided with Father's Day.

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    We kept things simple: morning coffee and present opening. After the pace of the past two weeks it was exactly what we needed. There was some time spent lounging about, then we dressed and headed to Glendale and The Americana. If you've never been, The Americana is a beautiful outdoor shopping area with an abundance of trees, fountains, and fantastic food. It was a gorgeous day~which made the outing even more appealing.

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    More than anything, Shannon wanted to have a meal at Din Tai Fung. A restaurant featuring the most delightful authentic Chinese cuisine, it takes us all back to our time in Tokyo. I know, Chinese food in Japan? It sounds silly, but the food is amazing! From the pork soup dumplings to the steamed kale and garlic broccoli, everything is fresh and well-made. We usually reserve Din Tai Fung for special occasions, but could there be anything more special than celebrating both husband and son?

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    As you can see, Jackson is fairly proficient at using chopsticks. He loves the opportunity to twirl his pan fried noodles and pork chops on them. It's a little messy, but he'll get better as he gets older. Plus, it's really cute to see his little hands manipulate the chopsticks.

    I'm so glad that both of my boys had a beautiful day to celebrate together. That we were all together, in good health, and in great spirits made the day all the more perfect. Stay tuned for Jackson's birthday party, the last day of school, and a little sprucing around the home.

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    Happy Birthday, Jackson, and Happy Father's Day, Shannon. We're so happy you enjoyed your big day with one another. We love you so!