Lemon Pudding with Raspberry Sauce

It’s been snowing all day in my corner of the world. The sky is grey and the snow is so thick that you can’t see more than a few feet in front of you when you step outdoors.

With a grey, blustery, wintry day ahead of me, I turn to the kitchen for warmth and I find a bag of lemons waiting for me. Lemons are in season right now, one of the only bright things produced in winter, which tells me that Mother Nature understands comfort food.

Surely She knew that a warm bowl of Lemon Pudding could bring a little ray of sunshine on a cold winter’s day.

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Strawberry, Blackberry, and Goat Cheese Focaccia

Strawberry season down here in Texas wrapped up long ago, and while we try to eat as locally as possible, our family can’t resist grabbing boxes and boxes of organic berries at the grocery store.

My son can eat a whole box himself if left to his own devices, but I always try to hold some back in order to create a recipe.

Berry Focaccia with goat cheese on www.simplebites.net

Despite the heat, lately I’ve been feeling the need to bake bread, and I wanted to try a version with sweet fruit. Right now we’re still getting local blackberries (also called dewberries), and they really pack a punch in flavor, especially when paired with other berries. I decided to go ahead and make a focaccia, or as my son called it, “fruit pizza”.

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Whole Grain Strawberry Banana Bread

The one thing I’ve always been able to count on is Grandma Dorothy’s homemade bread. I don’t think I have ever crossed the threshold of her cozy kitchen, in all my thirty-one years, without a slice of bread finding its way into my hands.

The most incredible thing about Grandma Dorothy’s everlasting bread trick is that she is mother to eleven kids. Eleven! And she has enough grandchildren and great-grandchildren to populate a not so small town with only her own kin.

I can’t compete with Eleven kids, but I just doubled my brood overnight. Six kids!

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Crunch-crunch: A week of (make ahead) spring salads in jars

Rainy conditions and toe-tingling cool temperatures dissuaded any notions I had of going out this past weekend. Instead I donned Danny’s hoodie for an extra layer of warmth, and flew about the place, tackling my to-do list with vigor, a cup of tea never too far from my reach.

I managed to tuck a delicate chicken and coconut curry with lentils away in the freezer, accompanied by a dozen soft chocolate ginger cookies, and a few other goodies. Danny is plenty proficient in the kitchen, but he’ll have his hands full looking after our three kiddos when I’m away; the least I can do is prep a few meals.

I even assembled a batch of salads in jars, so they are certain to get a serving of vegetables at least once a day.

Layered salad-in-a-jar is another one of my favorite strategies for warm weather batch cooking. The salad dressing can be added right in the jar and when the ingredients are packed correctly everything stays very crisp and fresh.

All you need is a quick shake, a fork and you can crunch away to your hearts’ content.

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Blueberry-Plum Butter (in the slow-cooker)

Each visit to the market in August finds me with 4-5 pints of blueberries in my basket. I always have high ambitions for jam or pie, muffins or cake, and yet invariably, we always gobble them up in enormous handfuls (and the occasional smoothie) before I can work them into a recipe.

Last week, I had a busy day, but was determined to preserve some of their blueberry goodness in jars before the short season was over. With three kids at home and two separate meetings to attend, my day felt too busy for jam or pie. Fortunately I had a recipe for slow-cooker blueberry butter bookmarked in Marisa’s Food in Jars cookbook, and knew it would be something I could accomplish while highly distracted.

Puree fruit. Simmer in the slow-cooker for the day. Process it in jars in the evening. That’s exactly what I did.The next morning when I cracked open a jar and dipped a spoon inside, I just knew I needed to share the recipe.

This fruit butter receives high scores for simplicity, and is full on delicious; it’s hard to imagine a nicer way to start the morning.

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