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.) 

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

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

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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?), 

Ang

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!