Happiness Project#80: Summer Peach Smoothie!

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Summer is officially upon us. Can you tell how excited I am? Yeah, not so much. Menopause, my friends. Menopause is just not fun in 90 degree heat. However, you know what I do LOVE about the summer? Playdates for my Daughter. Because not only are other preschool children out of school, but my Daughter’s 3 loving, amazing cousins are out on summer break too! Which means SO much love! Swimming, splash parks, playgrounds, legos, play-do, games! It’s adventure time!

The hardest part about living where we are, is that my sister, and my 3 nephews, live hours away from our area. Which leaves my Daughter with very few regular playmates. So traveling to hang out with her Auntie Lisa, and her Darren, Jax, and Jarod, is very obviously the best part of the year for her! Something that always brings tears to my eyes. You don’t know love until you see my Baby Girl surrounded by her cousins. It’s truly magical. Without a doubt, my little girl will move mountains with these three boys by her side.

So in anticipation of much cousin adventuring, I wanted to create a smoothie with my family’s favorite summer fruit (well, besides strawberries, that is): peaches! Thanks Be for luscious, juicy summer peaches! Bliss on earth, I say! Here’s to family, and peaches!

2 cups fresh, chopped peaches

3 to 4 scoops of vanilla ice cream

1/2 cup crushed ice

3/4 cup whole milk

pinch of cinnamon

And here’s all you do: throw all of those ingredients into a blender, and blend together for a few minutes until everything is nice & mixed. And serve!

So I’d love to know what your summer plans are? What are you most looking forward to?

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Happiness Project#79: Lemon Ice Cream Cake!

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Adult friendships are, well, difficult. To put it lightly. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have three very close adult friends in the last 20 years, two of which live out of state from me. And because of my naturally reclusive nature, made even more so since becoming bi-polar, with an anxiety disorder, it’s not easy for me to become attached to a new adult friend. Again, because of my reclusive nature. So when I have allowed myself to become very close to another female friend, I tend to give my all to that person. In every way that I’m physically & emotionally able to.

For over a year & a half, I became very close to a female friend living within my area. To where I truly loved this friend of mine, and would do virtually anything for her. A relationship that I believed was mutual. Until nearly 3 months ago, when I was slammed with a mountain load of physical & emotional stress, and felt myself spiraling down within my darkness. And felt like I could barely help myself, more or less anyone else. A situation which became depressively worse when this very close friend of mine all of sudden (out of nowhere), disappeared from my life, in every way. With no explanation or warning as to why. Which broke my heart, and left me feeling lost and confused.

Just recently, after initiating contact with my friend, and learning that our expectations within a friendship were, and had always been vastly different from one another’s, I realized that I could not hold on to a relationship that showed no possibility of a continuing friendship. So though it broke my heart all over again, I said goodbye to my friend of a year & half. Someone who I loved and cherished dearly. Because I knew that it was best for the both of us.

Through the entire waiting period in between when my friend disappeared, and then finally acknowledging that it was time to say goodbye, I realized something incredibly significant in regards to what I need and want within a true, real friendship. Or in this case, what was not acceptable to me, within (any) relationship. Which is this, no matter how harsh this may sound to those who don’t know or understand me: please do not ever just disappear, with no explanation, from the lives of those who love you. It’s one thing for a teenager to do such (because many teenagers may not understand the importance of honesty and communication within a long term relationship). But as a responsible, loving adult? Unacceptable to me. Because my heart is not disposable. When I name a person as a close friend, I don’t let go. I am fierce in the ways that I love and support those who love me back. Until it seems there’s nothing left to hold on to. Which is unfortunately how this friendship ended.

And though I still hold a great deal of love for this friend, I am honest enough within myself (& strong enough within my life experiences), to understand that not every person that I chose to love, will stay with me for the rest of my life. Because sometimes friends, as well as lovers, are only meant to walk with you for a season or two. Both a sad yet somehow beautiful experience. One that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

So in light of this sad occasion, I did what I always do to bring a little bit of sunshine back into my heart. I created a new recipe, with my favorite dessert flavor: lemon, combined with the comfort of ice cream, and the joy of cake. My Lemon Ice Cream Cake! Created with the many friends & loved ones of mine in mind. This is for you.

For the Lemon Cake:

3-1/2 cups cake flour

pinch of kosher salt

4 sticks unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

2 cups granulated sugar

1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

9 large eggs

Firstly, preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Butter two 9 inch loaf pans. Sift the flour with the salt into a large bowl. Set aside.

On a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar, on high speed, until combined and fluffy. Scrape down the the bottom and both sides of the bowl. Add in the lemon juice.

In a separate bowl, lightly beat together the 9 eggs. Now add the beaten eggs into the mixing bowl in 3 additions, at low speed, until throughly combined. Now add in the flour mixture, in 3 additions, until the complete batter is just incorporated. The cake batter will be thick and fragrant.

Divide and pour the cake batter into each of the two loaf pans. Pop the two pans into the oven and let bake for 55-60 minutes, until the edges of the cake are slightly brown.

Let the two cakes cool on a wire rack, at room temperature for a least 30 minutes before gently extracting them from each pan.

Now on to the fun and messy part!

With a large serrated knife, cut each loaf in half, so that there are two flat pieces of each cake. Layer each loaf pan with a large piece of saran wrap, so that there are two flaps of saran wrap hanging over the sides of each pan (like wings). Place the first layer of the cut cake on the bottom of each pan.

Grab your favorite vanilla ice cream out of the freezer, and scoop out two to three large globs of ice cream onto the two bottom cake layers. With a knife, smooth out the ice cream until it becomes a uniform flat layer.

Now, add on the top piece of the lemon cake, gently pressing the top cake into the layer of ice cream. Scoop out another two to large globs of ice cream, and (again) spread out the ice cream onto the top piece of the lemon cake. AND sprinkle with semi-sweet chocolate chips. Or layer with fresh cut berries, such as sliced strawberries and blueberries! Once you’re happy with adding on your favorite toppings, take the side hangings of the saran wrap and tightly wrap up each ice cream cake.

Deposit each of the two lemon cakes into the freezer for at least 1 hour before serving!

*Please note: when serving up each ice cream cake, use a large serrated knife, that has been dipped beforehand in hot water, to cut up each piece of cake.

Just know that these lovely little cakes will melt fast! Though perhaps not as quickly as they are consumed!

Happiness Project#78: Chocolate Chip Monkey Bread!

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In light of the recent tragedy at the Cincinnati Zoo last weekend, this chocolate chip monkey bread recipe apparently was calling my name. Or my heart perhaps. And I couldn’t resist it’s pull.

The frenzy (& madness) that flooded social media after the tragic killing of the zoo’s incredibly popular silverback gorilla, Harambe, has drawn the attention of parents, zoo patrons, and animal right activists alike. And after watching an eye witness’ horrifying video of the terrifying encounter between the 4 year old boy, and Harambe the gorilla, I dove into the fray, as well.

As a parent, I believe that I am entirely responsible for the actions of my 3 year old daughter. Because she’s ONLY three, and because of this young age, relies entirely on myself & my husband for guidance, encouragement, and love. So because I accept full responsibility for her, I am incredibly vigilant with how I parent.

Thus being said, in response to the situation that led to the little boy falling into the gorilla habitat at the Cincinnati Zoo, followed by a harrowing 10 minute encounter with the gorilla, Harambe, one incredibly important reminder came to mind. This being that all parents, no matter the situation, are responsible for the actions of their children, particularly, and especially, when a parent’s child is very young, and still learning prompts and behaviors from his or her adult figures. I know how brutal this may sound, and can only imagine how many individuals may not agree with my stance on responsible parenting. But this stance is something that I believe makes me a better person, and a better mother to my beautiful little girl. I believe that vigilance, because of how ever-changing this world is, is pivotal, and essential to my daughter’s well being, as well as to that of the general public.

Vigilance is not always easy. Especially with toddlers. But no matter how challenging it may be, it’s one of the most important aspects of who I am as a mother. Something I would never change. Because my daughter’s safety and happiness will always be worth it.

From last weekend’s tragedy, I hope that from this situation, good will come, and the importance of individual responsibility will be forefront within the near future.

So in honor of the gorilla named Harambe, and the legacy that he has left behind, I’m sharing this delightful, buttery, chocolatey monkey bread recipe for all who need a little bit of simple comfort. Here’s all you’ll need:

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons cinnamon

1/2 cup salted butter, melted

1 (4 ounce) package cream cheese

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 can giant refrigerated biscuits, 8 count

Firstly, preheat the over to 350d. Lightly butter a 9 inch round cake pan.

Mix together the granulated sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl. Set aside.

Pop open the can of biscuits. On a wooden surface, flatten out each biscuit. Cut up the cream cheese in 8 small squares, and add 1 square to (the center of) each flatted biscuit. Press in a small handful of chocolate chips to each square of cream cheese. With your fingers, fold up each biscuit until all 8 biscuits resemble the shape of a ball.

Space out each biscuit ball into the buttered cake pan. With the melted butter, lightly brush the tops of each ball. Followed with a generous sprinkling of the cinnamon-sugar. Yummy!

Pop the pan into the oven and let bake for 18 minutes.

Pull out those lovely rolls of monkey bread from the oven, deposit the pan on a cooling rack, and throw on some more chocolate chips! Yes, MORE! Must I convince you?

From my heart to yours, and to all of the many grieving fans of the majestic, Harambe, may the memories of this gentle giant live on forever.

 

 

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