Summer Cake

Strawberries are bursting forth in the great north woods. Well, not in the woods but in the fields. You know…strawberry ūüé∂ fields ūüé∂ forever ūüé∂.  *insert best Beatles singing voice*

(Side note: My kids get so mad at me because hearing just a few of the right words strewn together, matching any song lyrics I have ever heard, causes me to break into song. Case in point.) 


Anyway, a cool summer evening and some berries prompted me to get my summer cake on.


If you’ve got strawberries or any berries in your possession, you are free to make this delightful cake.


Go ahead. I dare you.

Here is the official Strawberry Summer Cake post from Smitten Kitchen and official printable recipe. I left it completely un-tweaked, except for the fact that I did not measure my berries and Deb used a much prettier baking dish. While you are there, you should check out more posts on Smitten Kitchen. It’s a beautiful blog and the author even has her very own cookbook. It’s a wonderful one to add to your collection.

P.S. My daughter came in as I was writing this and part of her sentence contained “all you need is…” and what do you think I belted out? Oh, yes. *imagine more beautiful singing* ūüé∂ All you need is love, love,…ūüé∂ love is all you need. ūüé∂ Then she said, no, you also need a house and we had a brilliant conversation on what we really do need.

Love (see how I did that?), 



Cupid Came Early

valentine blondies

This is a rare sight to behold.¬† A post about a holiday before the holiday.¬† Last year, I was able to do that with Valentine’s too.¬† It must be¬†a sure sign of¬†what I refer to as the Minnesota Winter Doldrums.¬† Symptoms include but are not limited to:¬† frequent hand lotion application, requirement of boots, hats, mittens,¬†scarves,¬†and puffy jackets just to step outside,¬†dreams of tropical destinations,¬†along with abrupt and fascinating addiction to¬†The Vampire Diaries.¬†{I¬†may or may not be willing to admit to having¬†devoured three seasons in three weeks.} *gasp*

I wanted to share a sweet treat with you, considering that you too may have a bit of time on your hands, avoiding the wind chill and suffering from similar MWD complications.

I tried a new recipe for blondies and graced them with some gorgeous red, pink and white M & M’s in honor of the upcoming holiday.¬† Nothing fancy but definitely on the yummy side.

Brown Sugar Blondies
from Baked Perfection

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup to 1 1/3 cup M&M’s

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.¬† Melt 1/3 cup butter.¬† Add 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar and mix well.¬† Cool slightly.¬† Add egg (beaten) and vanilla and blend well.¬† Add flour mixture, a little at a time, mixing well.¬† Mix in 2/3 cup M&M’s.¬† Spread in 9 x 9 x 2 inch pan. Sprinkle 1/3 to 2/3 cup M&M’s on top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

P.S.¬† These may also give you a bit “extra” for the hibernation period so go do some jumping jacks for each bar consumed.¬† Or not.

P.P.S.  Did you notice that I photographed a corner piece?  *Love.*  *Favorite.*  *Best.*

Easy Pretzel Treats

First, let me get your attention.¬† Three ingredients.¬† Ten minutes.¬† That’s it.

Second, I do not like one of the ingredients.¬† They are something I have to be “in the mood” for and I am rarely in the mood for these guys.¬† I am¬†referring to¬†pretzels, the crunchy little kind.¬†¬†To me, they¬†taste¬†like the flavor¬†I imagine¬†cardboard to possess.¬† I avoid them at all costs.¬† I remove from Chex Mix and discard them in the trash.¬† Of course, there are good versions of pretzels that do exist.¬† For instance, the bread-like kind¬†glazed with¬†butter and giant pieces of salt¬†that you¬†might find at the mall.¬† That’s a pretzel.¬† (Please note that I have been diagnosed with¬†a bread disorder.¬† For more details, please see recent post on Artisan Bread.)

While at my friend Gretchen‘s house in early December, she made these delightful little pretzel treats.¬† There was my usual¬†objection as soon as I heard the word pretzel but Gretchen insisted.¬† She is pretty persuasive because I agreed to try them (although secretly I thought they could not possibly be any good).

You are about to find out exactly why I am able devour these pretzels with no qualms whatsoever.

Hershey’s Hugs.

and sweet, candy coated chocolate¬†M&M’s.

(Notice how those last two items are sugar/chocolate items?  Those are the two very good reasons that I will fervently consume pretzels.)

Since we are in the season of L.O.V.E.,¬†I used¬†Valentine M&M’s.¬† Back at Christmastime, we used the gorgeous holiday ones.¬† I¬†snapped some¬†photos and had the good intention of blogging about them back then but the holiday season got the best of me.¬† I decided that I could¬†make them for any holiday using the appropriate M&M’s so I didn’t fret a whole bunch.

That is the fantastic thing about these treats.¬† You could make them anytime, using any variety of chocolate M&M’s.¬† Regular multi-colored ones.¬†(Gorgeous!)¬† Easter. (How pretty!)¬† Fourth of July. (How patriotic!)¬† The list goes on and on.¬† The variety of¬†M&M’s¬†provides a colorful way to…(I can’t believe I am thinking¬†this…eat pretzels!…but really)…to make these delightful treats for any occasion.¬† Thank you Gretchen!

So, if you are ready, here are the details.

First, pre-heat your oven to 170 degrees.¬† Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.¬† Spread out the pretzels.¬† Unwrap the Hugs and place one on each pretzel like so…

Next,¬†pop them in the oven for about 4-5¬†minutes.¬† Watch them carefully.¬† You just want to melt the Hugs so they begin to flatten.¬† Mine got a little too melty this time but still worked out fine.¬† Remove from oven.¬† Insert an M&M into the center of each like so…

Then, if you live in the frozen tundra like I do (and it’s February) you can set the tray¬†outside.¬† They just need to be chilled for about¬†ten minutes.¬† You could also set the tray in your freezer or refrigerator, wherever you have the space.¬† The M&M will attach to the Hug and the Hug will harden, making a sweet little pretzel treat.¬† Enjoy!