Happy Easter

Easter Bunny Newborn Photo -- new baby Ryder on Katie's Cucina!Just wanted to wish everyone a very Happy Easter. May your hearts be filled with joy and love during this holiday spent with the ones you love. I made an early Easter dinner last night for my parents; slow cooker maple glazed ham, sour cream and chive mashed potatoes, steamed green beans and carrots and an apple crisp for dessert. Yes–I cooked all that with a newborn. If I can do it–anyone can do it! Later this afternoon we will be heading for my in-laws to celebrate Easter with them.

A note about the photo above. Yes, that is my son, Ryder. My little Easter bunny! Two weekends ago, we spent the day with the amazingly talented, Christy Buonomo Photography, shooting newborn photos. She shared this Easter photo earlier this week and I just had to share it with my readers. Once we receive all of our newborn photos I’ll be sharing them over on our DIY blog Sew Woodsy. I’ll also be sharing my birth story in the next week or two. I’ve had lots of people asking about how it all went down, so I’ll be dishing out all the details–the good, bad, and the ugly (ok and maybe some really cute photo’s of Ryder as well)!

Happy Easter!

Katie

 


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Today, we have Erin from The Law Student’s Wife sharing her recipe for Dark Chocolate Vanilla Bean Pudding. I stumbled across Erin’s blog a year ago and have enjoyed it ever since. I mean who wouldn’t love baked pistachio pudding donuts or a 20-minute healthy ricotta pasta? She has a wide variety of recipes on her blog, and although we haven’t met in person I feel like we’ve been friends for years.

Dark Chocolate Vanilla Bean Pudding

Hey there! This is Erin Clarke from The Law Student’s Wife, and I’m honored to be guest posting for our favorite new momma, Katie. I discovered Katie’s blog when this outrageous stuffed French toast entered my life, and I’ve been a fan since!

Today, we’re going to my happy place: pudding. Pudding and my illustrious love affair begin with Snack Packs in the second grade. Back then, the fact that Snack Packs do not need to be refrigerated in the grocery store did not disturb me as it does today. All my sweet 7-year-old self cared to know was that pudding is creamy, dreamy, and deeply chocolaty. I had my priorities straight.

Dark Chocolate Vanilla Bean Pudding

Fast forward to college graduation. I moved into my first “grown up” apartment and was consequently responsible for feeding myself. Despite the most fervent of wishes, I couldn’t live on Snack Packs alone, and thus I took to the kitchen. I fell in love with cooking (and started a food blog in the process), but to this day the recipes that energize me the most are ones like today’s Lightened Up Dark Chocolate Vanilla Bean Pudding: a grown-up twist on a childhood favorite.

Making pudding from scratch demands only a few bowls and some elbow grease. I love this Lightened Up Dark Chocolate Vanilla Bean Pudding recipe because requires few ingredients, uses an egg to thicken the milk instead of heavy cream (which keeps it reasonably healthy), and tastes totally decadent. It’s also no-fuss. Rather than making two separate pudding recipes, we simply make a vanilla pudding base, save a little at the end, then stir in a copious amount of chopped dark chocolate + espresso to intensify the espresso flavor. Voila! Perfectly balanced, luscious dark chocolate pudding, for a fraction of the effort.

Dark Chocolate Vanilla Bean Pudding

Although this Dark Chocolate Vanilla Bean Pudding was inspired by childhood, a few of my grown-up tastes make an appearance: velvety dark bittersweet chocolate, espresso, and speckly sweet vanilla bean. (I purchase my vanilla beans online here for a steal of a deal, but you can always swap extra vanilla extract instead.) If you care to stir in a bit of rum as well, I certainly won’t deter you.

My final adult flourish: chopped pistachios for texture and crunch. Salty-sweet desserts have my heart forever and always, and the pistachios are the ideal counterpoint to the sweet vanilla and rich chocolate pudding layers. The good-as-obligatory dollop of whipped cream is just because life is short, and I can already tell that we are going to be friends.

Dark Chocolate Vanilla Bean Pudding is my inner-second grader in perfect harmony with my late 20-something adult self. No therapy or yoga for this girl—pudding is my gateway to inner peace!

Dark Chocolate Vanilla Bean Pudding

Prep Time: 2 hours, 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes

Yield: 4-6

Dark Chocolate Vanilla Bean Pudding

Ingredients

  • 3 cups non-fat milk (or the milk of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 vanilla bean (or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder
  • Chopped pistachios, walnuts, or pecans for serving
  • Whipped cream, for serving

Directions

  1. Place a sieve over a large measuring cup or bowl; set aside
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 1/4 cups of the milk to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large heat-proof bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Scrape vanilla bean seeds into the sugar mixture. Place the empty vanilla pod into the saucepan with the heating milk. (If you’re replacing the vanilla bean with extract, do not add it yet.) Very gradually, whisk the remaining 3/4 cup milk into the sugar-cornstarch mixture. Add the milk a little at a time and stir constantly so that lumps do not form. Whisk in the egg.
  3. Once the milk has boiled, slowly add it to egg-mixture a little bit at a time, stirring constantly (using a ladle can be helpful). Be sure to work gradually so that the egg does not scramble. Once all of the heated milk had been added, pour all of the mixture back into the saucepan. Stir constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon and bring the mixture to a simmer (at this point, do not let it boil.) Simmer for 1 minute, stirring the whole time. If using vanilla extract, stir it in now.
  4. Pour all of the vanilla pudding mixture through the sieve into the bowl or measuring cup (this ensure the pudding will be very smooth). Return 1/3 of the strained mixture to the saucepan (this will become the chocolate pudding). Cover the remaining 2/3 with plastic wrap so that the plastic touches the surface and refrigerate until fully set, about 2 hours.
  5. To the remaining pudding on the stove, add the chopped chocolate and espresso powder, stirring until the chocolate melts. Pour the chocolate mixture into a separate bowl, cover with plastic wrap so that the plastic touches the surface and refrigerate until fully set, about 2 hours.
  6. To serve: Spoon the vanilla pudding into the bottom of individual serving dishes. Top with chocolate pudding. Serve sprinkled with nuts and dollop with whipped cream.
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Today, we have Liz from Books n’ Cooks sharing a recipe for Salad with Pear Vinaigrette. Liz and I met in real life 2 years ago at Mixed.

Salad with Pear Vinaigrette from Books n' Cooks on KatiesCucina.com

Hello Katie’s Cucina readers!

I’m Liz from Books n’ Cooks. I first met Katie and discovered her blog a couple of years ago, at a foodie conference we attended together. I am usually a bit quiet when I meet new people, but it was easy to open up and chat with Katie, and not just because we have a love of food in common. Katie has an infectious bubbly personality and I immediately liked her. I’ve enjoyed reading Katie’s blog over the past few years, so I was flattered when Katie asked me to guest post while she’s enjoying her maternity leave.

Salad with Pear Vinaigrette from Books n' Cooks on KatiesCucina.com

Earlier this year, I was asked to bring salad to our semi-monthly book club dinner. I was looking forward to having a low maintenance contribution considering how busy my weekends have been lately, but I didn’t want low maintenance to mean boring. Enter: this salad. It felt appropriate to me – with wintery pears and summery blueberries fitting the 60 degree weather in February and March (well, 60 degrees on those weeks where we didn’t have snowstorms). The fresh and dried fruit make the salad super flavorful and visually stunning. It was anything except boring.

Adapted from Prevention RD

Salad with Pear Vinaigrette

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 4

Salad with Pear Vinaigrette

Ingredients

    Ingredients for the Vinaigrette:
  • 1/4 a pear, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 Tbs. dried cranberries
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 c. apple cider vinegar
  • Ingredients for the Salad:
  • 5 oz. your favorite lettuce or salad green
  • 3/4 a pear, finely sliced or chopped
  • 1 c. fresh blueberries
  • 1/3 c. dried cranberries
  • 1/2 c. walnut pieces, toasted

Directions

  1. In a food processor, pulse pear, garlic, cranberries, salt and pepper briefly. With the mixer running, add vinegar and olive oil until smooth. Add equal portions of additional olive oil and vinegar until desired consistency. Vinaigrette will keep for about a week in the fridge.
  2. Toss all salad ingredients, except the walnuts. Add walnuts just before serving.
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Slow Cooker Maple Glazed Ham

Holy smokes. How is Easter this weekend? I knew it was going to sneak up with me and BAM! It’s this Sunday. I’m slowly adjusting to parenthood… slowly. This whole no sleep thing is something that I’ve dreaded for years–I love my sleep. I like to say that we waited so long to have a baby because I loved my sleep so much. I sleep at almost every nap, and I’m super grateful I’ve had friends to blog for me while I get use to this little human being. I can say that the days do seem to blend in although I do keep track of each day and document the little thing he is doing, so I guess that’s why I feel like Easter snuck up on me.

Let’s talk about ham. You guys know I love to make my ham in the slow cooker; Brown Sugar Honey Glazed Ham and Slow Cooker Ham with Apple Sauce. I contribute to Food Fanatic monthly and when they asked me if I would create another slow cooker ham recipe I jumped right at it. I created this recipe during my 9th month of pregnancy. So as you could imagine all cooking was taking longer than normal, which meant I was using my trusty slow cooker more and more.

Slow Cooker Maple Glazed Ham

This recipe for Slow Cooker Maple Glazed Ham calls for 5 ingredients! That’s it! Of course the main star is the ham, but followed by that is the maple syrup. I used an entire 8 ounce bottle of maple syrup. Don’t be afraid to skimp–maple syrup can be expensive but totally worth it!

For this recipe, I used my KitchenAid Slow Cooker. It is perfect for entertaining because of the easy serve lid. Each side lifts and locks which is convenient for one-handed serving. Of course, little tricky when you have a whole ham in the slow cooker. After I slice the ham I like to put it back in the juices and then the side lids help with easy-entertaining and serving. You can cut up your ham before your guest arrive and let your ham sit in the juices a little while longer. No need to find a place to put the lid!

Slow Cooker Maple Glazed Ham
We are spending Easter Sunday at my in-laws but that Saturday evening my parents are coming over to have an Easter dinner with us. I told my mom to not buy the expensive store bought ham–I’ll throw the ham in the slow cooker. She told me not to go to any trouble, but I insisted that it’s not trouble at all. I told her we will have a simple meal this Easter Sunday Eve, Slow Cooker Maple Glazed Ham, Sour Cream Chive Mashed Potatoes, steamed green beans, and rolls. Trust me, the sweetness of the ham pairs beautifully with my sour cream and chive mashed potatoes!

So if you’re entertaining this Easter Sunday (or for any holiday) and was planning on baking your ham. Stop the madness now and throw it into your slow cooker. You will thank me later, I promise!

I created this recipe for Food Fanatic. Make sure you head over to read all about my Crock Pot Ham Recipe.

Read more: http://www.foodfanatic.com/recipes/crock-pot-ham-recipe/#ixzz2yzVFSg3K


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Today, I’m excited to have Marnely from Cooking with Books to share her recipe for Blueberry-Almond Granola! You guys know I love homemade granola. I can’t wait to make this recipe since its way different than the blueberry granola cereal I make!

————–

Why buy granola when you can make your own?! This Blueberry-Almond Granola takes 20 minutes to make and is swirled with vanilla bean and warm spices!

Blueberry-Almond Granola Parfait guest post from Cook with Books for KatiesCucina.com

Hello Katie’s Cucina readers! I’m Marnely from Cooking with Books. I’m so happy to be here today bringing you a homemade Blueberry-Almond Granola recipe that will have your tastebuds asking for more!

If you follow me on Instagram, you noticed that last month I spent an entire week with my best friend who has a one-month old baby girl and a 22 month old toddler. I had decided to visit for a variety of reasons, not only to meet the new addition to the family, baby N. My main reason for visiting was to stock up her freezer and pantry with easy meals, snacks, and baked goods so she could have more time to take naps and enjoy her new baby girl.

One of the many recipes made was a variation of this almond granola, only we quadrupled this batch and filled up a huge glass jar with it. Perfect for on the go breakfasts for her and her husband, as well as perfect as a midnight snack while she feeds the newborn.

Blueberry-Almond Granola Parfait guest post from Cook with Books for KatiesCucina.com

Since this recipe has very few ingredients, make sure to use the best. We used Bob’s Red Mill Rolled Oats as our base and dried blueberries from Oh Nuts for added texture and flavor. This is a great recipe for friends to bring over to new mom’s such as Katie – they’ll appreciate the thoughtfulness and secretly smile that it’s not another casserole dish!

Have a friend that just had a baby? Bring her a batch of this Blueberry-Almond Granola, a quart of your favorite yogurt, and a freshly made fruit salad. It’s a fresh idea and new moms (and dads!) will appreciate it. Other granola recipes on Katie’s site to get you inspired: Cinnamon-Maple Granola, Coconut Cherry Granola, and Pumpkin Pie Granola.

Blueberry-Almond Granola

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 4 cups

 Blueberry-Almond Granola

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup dried blueberries

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a microwave safe bowl, melt coconut oil (about 45 seconds). Whisk in maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the rolled oats and almonds. Drizzle coconut oil mixture over oats/almonds and stir until combined.
  4. Spread on baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes, until almonds are toasted.
  5. Sprinkle dried blueberries into cooked granola and let cool for an hour, stirring occasionally.
  6. Store in airtight jar for up to two-three weeks.

Notes

This recipe is easily doubled or quadrupled, as well as simple to adapt to whatever you have in your pantry. Have pecans instead of almonds? Use them. Dried apricots instead of blueberries? Go for it! Make this recipe your own.

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Today, Sam from Sweet Remedy is here to share her recipe for Cherry Cilantro Mango Salsa. Sam and I have met a few times in real life and room together at BlogHer Food last summer. Can I just tell you she is the sweet person on the planet. The girl sacrificed her time to help me get ready for a big dinner at BlogHer Food –ironing my wrinkly dress while I raced around the room to get ready. That is a true friend for you! 

Cherry Cilantro Mango Salsa | Sweet-Remedy.com

Hi Everyone! While Katie is busy getting into the grove of Motherhood, she has enlisted some of her friends to entertain you. I do hope you stick around! I’m Sam from Sweet Remedy and today I’m ready for a picnic where I can eat a huge amount of salsa with fruit. How about you?

It’s April and I know that this salsa is more of a summer recipe but I’m hoping to propel full force into warmer weather. Katie doesn’t really have this issue, being from the sunshine state and all. Since I call New York home, I’m always cold and dreaming of warmth.

I’m ready for bright produce and frosty treats! Bring on the popsicles, ice cream and this Cherry Cilantro Mango Salsa!

The addition of fruit to this salsa gives it such a sweet taste, one that is perfect to help celebrate the rising temperatures in the North East.

I used Gourmet Garden Cilantro Paste in this recipe, but you can always use fresh cilantro instead!

So I do hope you’ll join me while I stuff fruit into my salsa and congratulate Katie and Jon on their baby bundle! I’m so incredibly thrilled that they are starting their family. The next time I find myself in Florida, which is usually about once a year, I hope to meet the little guy we’ve all been waiting for!

Original Recipe for Cherry Cilantro Mango Salsa from Sweet Remedy

Cherry Cilantro Mango Salsa

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4

Cherry Cilantro Mango Salsa

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cherries
  • 2 mangoes
  • ¼ cup red onion
  • 1 medium red pepper
  • 2 chipotle peppers (in adobo sauce)
  • 1 Tbsp cilantro

Directions

  1. Pit and cut the cherries in half or quarters, depending on how large you want your cherry pieces.
  2. Pit the mangoes and score each half with a knife by making light overlapping slices from one side to the other, being careful not to cut through the skin. Push up on the skin side and cut off the chunks that fan out.
  3. Dice the red onion and red pepper. Cut the chipotle peppers into small pieces. Mix all ingredients together and add the cilantro.
  4. Serve with tortilla chips.
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Today, Rachel from Rachel Cooks is here to share her recipe for Dark Chocolate and Pecan Cookies. Rachel has helped out before and shared her recipe for reduced-fat cucumber salad. And when she had her baby I helped her out while she was tending to her newborn. We’ve yet to meet in person, but chat online often, and I know one of these days we will finally get to meet! 

 Dark Chocolate and Pecan Cookies

Hi everyone! I’m so thrilled to be helping out Katie while she’s at home snuggling with her little one. I know blogging  is the last thing on her mind right now as she’s keeping herself very busy with diapers, chubby thighs, tiny little toes, priceless snuggles, and sleepless nights.  I wish I could bring her dinner but I guess virtual cookies will have to do.

If you’re wondering who I am, I’m Rachel and I blog at extremely creatively-named blog Rachel Cooks. I’m a physical therapist (sometimes), a blogger (almost always), a wife (always), and a mom (more than always).

 Dark Chocolate and Pecan Cookies

I survive on toddler giggles, popcorn, and coffee.  But adding cookies to the mix can’t hurt. And these cookies are winners. They’re a sophisticated version of the classic chocolate chip cookie that everyone loves. However, I promise you everyone will love these too. Big dark chocolate chips automatically start these off on the right foot. Pecans add a great nutty flavor and bite to these cookies and cinnamon adds interest, flavor (and antioxidants!).  These thick, chewy cookies immediately climbed to the top of my list of favorite cookies. Even if you think the cinnamon sounds weird, I urge you not to leave it out! It really makes these cookies special and unique and…perfect. If I do so humbly say…

 Dark Chocolate and Pecan Cookies

Wish I could bring you over a batch of these cookies and snuggle with your little cutie, Katie! Congrats and thank you for having me here today! I’m honored to be able to help you out.

I’d love for you to stop by Rachel Cooks and say hi some time! You can also find me on TwitterFacebookGoogle+Pinterest, and Instagram. Or you can subscribe to my emails and never miss a recipe!

Original Recipe from RachelCooks.com

Dark Chocolate and Pecan Cookies

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 2-3 dozen depending on size of cookies

Dark Chocolate and Pecan Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

  1. In a bowl, mix together flour, cornstarch, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), cream together butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). With the mixer on low, add in egg and vanilla. Return mixer to medium and mix until incorporated. Scrape sides as needed.
  3. With the mixer back on low, add dry ingredient mixture gradually until dough forms. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans by hand. Refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat and set aside.
  4. Form balls from approximately 1 tablespoon of dough. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until edges are just barely golden. Remove from oven and let cool for a couple of minutes on baking sheet before removing and placing on wire rack to finish cool. Store in airtight container.
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Announcing the birth of the next generation of Katie's Cucina, Ryder Thomas

(photo by Christy Buonomo Photography)

Last Saturday, March 29, 2014 my husband and I welcomed the birth of our son, Ryder Thomas. He was three days “late” from my predicted due date (that bounced around through the course of my pregnancy. Let’s rewind back to my 40 week appointment of how this little guy got here. My blood pressure was a little elevated and my midwife wanted me to undergo a few extra test just to make sure that all was well with myself and the baby. By that Friday morning we found out that I was very low on amniotic fluids and well, my blood pressure never went down. That afternoon my midwife called me and told me to head to the hospital that my wish was coming true and I would soon be meeting my baby.

The next generation of Katie's Cucina

After 22 hours of labor (11 of those with no epidural) I had not progressed and was starting to spike a fever (as well as my blood pressure was still on the high side). We made the decision around 6pm on that Saturday to have a c-section. Not by choice, but this baby was not moving down and I had not dilated past 7 cm for over 5 hours. By 6:55 pm our son, Ryder Thomas was born. I will have a full birth story (with a ton more details) on my DIY blog, Sew Woodsy, in the coming weeks. Ryder weighted in at 6 lbs, 9 oz and 19-1/4inches long! If you ask me he looks just like his daddy–long and lengthy and a total heart throb already. But then again, I’m a little biased!

The next generation of Katie's Cucina

We spent 4 (long days) in the hospital until they finally allowed us to discharge. Because I spiked a fever during labor, Ryder had to get antibiotics through an IV every 8 hours for 48 hours. Making this mama sad and already blaming herself for not opting for a c-section earlier in the laboring. But what can you do, if that’s the worse that was wrong with him, I’ll take it! I was so ready to get home and get the show on the road.

My super talented friend, Christy, came to visit us in the hospital and did what is called a “fresh 48″ photo shoot. This is a great way to document the first 48 hours in the hospital as a new family. The first photo up top was taken by Christy as well as this one she posted on Instagram. I can’t wait to see the rest of the photos!

The next generation of Katie's CucinaI will leave you with one more photo of Mr. Ryder Thomas. My father in-law took this photo of Ryder on his iPhone in the black and white setting (on accident). We absolutely loved the photo and made him send it to us ASAP. We have been at home for almost a week now and are getting adjusted to the new “normal”. We made it through the first week and everyone is still alive! I even managed to cook a freezer meal (a post on that coming soon) as well as cook a few breakfasts’. And not just cereal or a store bought pastry for breakfast in our home. Ryder is also doing great. He eats like a champ (I’ve chosen to exclusively breast feed) and  sleeps pretty darn well. He sleeps 3-5 hours at a time. Which most people tell us in unheard of. He really only cries when he is hungry or has a dirty diaper and if he starts to have a crying fit it really freaks us out because we have no clue why else he is crying. We have only experienced 2 of those crying fits in his first 9 days of life. I consider myself crazy lucky.

For the remainder of the month I’ll have my closest  blogging friends helping out while I get adjusted to this new thing called parenthood. I’m so incredibly grateful for the help of our parents, family, and friends while we adjust to being a family.


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Today, we have Kim from Cravings of a Lunatic. We had the chance to meet at Food Blog Forum a few years ago and have kept in touch ever since! I participated in Kim’s cancer awareness recipes from the heart, food blog hop last summer sharing my recipe for spicy beef sliders. Today, Kim shares with us her no-bake recipe for Raspberry Fool.

Raspberry Fool by Cravings of a Lunatic

Hello there Katie’s Cucina readers. I’m pleased as punch to be here today. When Katie asked for guest posters for her maternity leave I was honoured to be included. I adore this gal. There’s just some folks you meet trough blogging that you instantly love. Katie is one of those people. Kind, caring and so incredibly talented.

Since you’re here my guess is you know all that. You know Katie is awesome. She’s also a great planner. I think it’s a cool thing that she invited her friends to guest post while she spends some much-needed time being a mommy. Honestly there is no greater gift in the world than becoming a parent. I know Katie is going to be the most amazing Mom, and I look forward to following along as pregnancy photos make way for baby photos. So excited for Katie and Jon, this will be their best adventure yet.

Raspberry Fool by Cravings of a Lunatic

I dreamed up a ton of recipe ideas for the post. Obsessive compulsive is my middle name, I tend to get really stressed out for guest posts. I never know whether to be serious so I don’t freak out someone else’s readers, or whether I should just be myself, which involves being a bit of a spaz. Hopefully I find some middle ground today.

Raspberry Fool by Cravings of a Lunatic

When I can’t sleep I tend to spend huge amounts of time on pinterest. I love Pinterest, more than life itself most days. I enjoy using it for work and personally as well. It’s my down time at the end of the day. So one night I was cruising Pinterest, pinning everything from cute men, to DIY project ideas, to recipes. I happened upon this Raspberry Fool recipe from Martha Stewart. It was not the recipe itself that drew me in, it was the presentation. Her Tangy Raspberry Fool photo that was stunning. I knew I wanted to try the technique to swirl the raspberry mixture.

Raspberry Fool by Cravings of a Lunatic

Fool is something we make quite often. It’s easy and my daughter loves it. She hates cream cheese so when I make no bake cheesecake recipes for my site I tend to make a couple without cream cheese. That way Mini-me is happy and gets her fool, but we still get to have lots of no bake cheesecakes. It’s a total win-win.

Fool is super easy to make, the recipes are all very similar. Essentially it’s cream, confectioners’ sugar and fruit. You can mix up the fruit, you can add nuts or granola to it. For me I like it as plain as possible. Let the fruit stand out as the star.

Raspberry Fool

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 4-6

Raspberry Fool

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 1/2 cup sugar, or vanilla sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or vanilla salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

Directions

  1. Combine the raspberries, sugar and salt in a blender, or food processor with the chopping blade. Turn on pulse or puree for about 1 to 2 minutes. You want the sugar to dissolve and the raspberries to become as smooth as possible. Now pour the raspberry mixture through a fine sieve, and discard any seeds caught in it. It helps to use the back of a spoon to press the berries into the sieve. It will make the process faster.
  2. In a stand mixer (or large bowl and hand mixer) whip the heavy cream and the confectioners' sugar. Start slow until it thickens slightly, then amp the speed up to high. Whisk on high until stiff peaks form, which will take about 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Take decorative glasses and alternate adding the whipping cream mixture and the raspberry mixture. Once you fill the glasses take a knife or wooden skewer and swirl and pull so the mixture starts to show patterns. I found pushing the skewer down in a rapid movement worked really well for the fun lines down the sides.
  4. Top with extra whipping cream and raspberries for garnish if desired.
  5. You can serve these immediately or pop them in the fridge for about an hour. If you're going for the dramatic look serve them as close to making them as possible. The longer they sit in the fridge the more the color becomes muted and not as striking.
  6. Serve with a big old raspberry smile!
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I hope you like these. I’m a total fool fanatic. I make it every chance I get. Feel free to experiment and play with flavours. Use what you love and you can never go wrong.

Thanks so much to Katie for having me today. It was a total pleasure spending the day in the Cucina.

Feel free to stop by my blogs to check them out. I blog at Cravings of a Lunatic, and also Kiss My Smoke. I’m a pinterest spaz and have also recently become obsessed with instagram. I have no idea what I’m doing but with 2 kids, 3 cats, a puppy and a horse I never run out of photo material. Occasionally I even toss some food photos up just to keep things interesting.

Toodles and smoochies! xx


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Today, I have my blogging friend in real life, Christine from Cook the Story  sharing 50 Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. Christine is all about helping you spend less time in the kitchen and more time at the table with family and friends. To get her quick tips and recipe ideas, subscribe to her weekly newsletter here.

50 grilled cheese recipes

Today is the perfect day to be helping Katie out with her blogging maternity leave. Why? Because 6 years ago today, my first child was born. 6 years! The time has sure flown. He’s a full-fledged kid now who loves Angry Birds, science, karate, Sophia the First and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Ahhh…grilled cheese sandwiches. There are very few things as comforting as gooey cheese between butter-crisped bread.

Last year I made it my mission to find a way to get the ultimate crunch on the outside of a grilled cheese sandwich without destroying the inner fluffier part of the bread. I figured it out.

The key to that outer crunch is to add something to the butter. Something that gets crunchy when heated. I have two ingredients that do the trick.

The first is parmesan cheese. You mix finely shredded parm with softened butter and then smear it on the outside of the sandwich. Get all the details about this crunchy grilled cheese sandwich here.

The second ingredient is ideally suited for breakfast-style grilled cheeses or grilled cheese sandwiches with apple and cheddar. It’s maple syrup. You mix the syrup with softened butter and slather it on. The heat of the pan caramelizes it into a sweet crunch. Get all the details about this breakfast grilled cheese here.

Once you’ve got the outer crust of your grilled cheese sandwich figured out, all that’s left to make it perfect are the fillings. And have I ever got filling ideas for you! Here are more grilled cheese filling ideas than you could ever imagine!

BLT with Mozzarella and Sundried Tomato Panini from Katie’s Cucina
Gnocchi-Bacon Grilled Cheese Sandwich from The Noble Pig
Bacon Pretzel Grilled Cheese from The Noble Pig
Pumpkin Grilled Cheese with Apples and Cheddar from Kitchen Tested
garden fresh grilled cheese from Spabettie
Grilled Cheese Wafflewich Sliders from Spabettie
Grilled Cheese with Apples and Farmer’s Cheese from The Lemon Bowl
BBQ Chicken Grilled Cheese Sandwiches from The Little Kitchen
Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese from The Kitchen is My Playground
PB&J Grilled Cheese from Poet in the Pantry
Spinach, Tomato and Gouda Panini with Apple Butternut Squash Spread from Big Bear’s Wife
Habanero Jack Grilled Cheese with Pear and Prosciutto from Cooking with Books
Roast Beef and Smoked Gouda Grilled Cheese from Running to the Kitchen
Spinach Artichoke Grilled Cheese from Healthy. Delicious.
Gourmet Grilled Cheese with Jalapeno Jelly from Healthy. Delicious.
Sloppy Burger Grilled Cheese from Snappy Gourmet
Buffalo Shrimp Grilled Cheese from Snappy Gourmet
Pesto Pizza Grilled Cheese from Weary Chef
Pepperoni Pizza Grilled Cheese from Ask Chef Dennis
Sweet Honey Pomegranate Grilled Cheese from An Edible Mosaic
Spinach Mozzarella Grilled Cheese from An Edible Mosaic
Sattay-Inspired Turkey Grilled Cheese from An Edible Mosaic
Pimiento Grilled Cheese from Taste and Tell Blog
Grown Up BBQ Chicken Grilled Cheese from Will Cook for Smiles
Ultimate Grilled Cheese from Julie’s Eats and Treats
Bacon Chipotle Pimento Grilled Cheese from Growing Up Gabel
Spinach Artichoke Grilled Cheese from Taste and Tell Blog
World’s Best Grilled Cheese (on cinnamon raising bread!) from Shockingly Delicious
Spicy Mushroom Torta with Queso Quesadilla from Muy Bueno Cookbook
Brie, Tomato and Basil Grilled Cheese from Foodologie
Wine Poached Pear Grilled Cheese from Dieters Downfall
Basil, Balsamic Strawberries and Whipped Feta Grilled Cheese from Cupcakes and Kale Chips
Caprese Grilled Cheese from Diiethood
Strawberry Brie Grilled Cheese from Food Babbles
Reuben Panini from Katie’s Cucina
Grilled Vegetable and Pesto Panini from Overtime Cook
Grilled Muenster with Turkey, Tomato and Thyme Spread from Very Culinary
Loaded Baked Potato Grilled Cheese Sandwich from Southern Fairytale
Grilled Nutella Cheesecake Sandwich from Chocolate Moosey
Brie, Pear and Walnut Grilled Cheese from Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
Grown Up Grilled Cheese Sandwich from Aggie’s Kitchen
Lemon Basil Grilled Cheese Panini from The Lemon Bowl
Grilled Cheese with Apple, Rosemary and Walnut Butter from Bran Appetit
Philly Cheesesteak Grilled Cheese from Nutmeg Nanny
Grilled Triple Cheese Sandwiches from Around My Family Table
Red, White and Blue Grilled Cheese from Ari’s Menu
Strawberry Bruschetta Grilled Cheese from Foodie Crush
Italian Grilled Cheese from A Night Owl
French Onion Soup Grilled Cheese from Tenacity Solution


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