Strawberry Lemonade: The Perfect Summer Refresser!

Strawberry Lemonade

My sister and brother-in-law came over to our house for dinner to celebrate my sister’s birthday recently. Whenever they come over for dinner, I’m usually in charge of drinks. Which basically entails me telling everyone what the drink options are and asking what they would like and then fixing everyone’s drinks for them.

In our house we have everything for Shirley Temples on hand almost always, but sometimes we like to get everything for a drink that we don’t have as often, like one of our favorites, Chocolate Mint Italian Cream Sodas. I’ll have to share that recipe sometime, it’s amazing. But this time I decided to make Strawberry Lemonade. I got this recipe from one of my summer issues of Everyday Food, you can find it here. And of course, I have it copied below, as well.

Emeril’s Strawberry Lemonade

Look for fragrant, bright red strawberries with green caps.

  • Prep Time 10 minutes
  • Total Time 1 hour
  • Yield Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice (from 6 lemons), plus 1 lemon, sliced, for serving
  • 1 pound strawberries (3 cups), hulled and halved
  • 16 ounces seltzer, chilled
  • Mint sprigs, for serving

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups water and sugar to a boil over medium-high. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves, 2 minutes. Transfer to a pitcher and refrigerate until cool, about 45 minutes. Add lemon juice and stir to combine.
  2. In a blender, puree strawberries until smooth. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into pitcher with lemon syrup, pressing on solids. Stir well to combine.
  3. To serve, stir in seltzer and divide among ice-filled glasses. Top with lemon slices and mint.

Cook’s Note

Tips for Cooking with Kids: Let the young ones measure the sugar and juice the lemons. They can also help blend the berries and strain the puree before mixing together the finished drink.

Recipe Review

This Strawberry Lemonade was really fantastic! The whole family loved it. It was just how lemonade is supposed to be, sweet with a lemony tartness that is delectable, and the fresh strawberries add a lovely flavor to an already wonderful summer drink. Definitely a great drink for the 4th of July, or any summer occasion.

I learned that this is definitely a drink that should be completely made before guests arrive, which I know may seem obvious, but I only figured that out after I did it the wrong way. I had made the sugar syrup ahead of time, but I did everything else after my sister and brother-in-law had arrived, and it took me awhile to get it ready. Lesson learned: learn to plan ahead.

I think I will have to make this drink a summer tradition, since it is the perfect summer refresher!

Star Rating

4 out of 4

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

I made these cookies to have during the drive to Branson. I had wanted to try them for quite a while, but just hadn’t baked them yet. As far as I can remember, this is the first time that I’ve ever made oatmeal raisin cookies. The go-to cookie in my house has always been chocolate chip cookies, but recently I thought, “oatmeal raisin cookies sounds so good, I have to make some.” In my opinion, they made a great road trip snack.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Any dried fruit can be substituted for the raisins. Be sure the cookies are completely cool before storing in an airtight container.

Yield: Makes about 3 dozen

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup raisins

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter with both sugars, and beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, milk, and eggs, and mix well. Add flour mixture, and beat until just combined. Remove bowl from the electric mixer, and stir in oats and raisins. Place dough in the refrigerator until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside. Scoop out 2 tablespoons of dough, and shape into a ball; place on one of the prepared sheets. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing balls 3 inches apart. Press down to flatten into 2-inch diameters.
  3. Transfer to the oven, and bake until golden but still soft in center, 16 to 18 minutes, rotating the pans between oven shelves halfway through baking. Remove from oven, and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

The dough was very tasty cold, right out of the refrigerator!

All lined up and ready to go!

All that's left is to wait 20 minutes 'til I can try them...

My first homemade Oatmeal Raisin Cookies!

Recipe Review

These cookies were wonderful! They were thick, and soft, and chewy, and delightful in flavor. I made mine with a heaping 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. I stored them in a freezer bag with a couple of slices of bread to keep the cookies moist and they were still good a week later, just as the recipe says they will be.

Star Rating

4 out of 4

Recipe courtesy of MarthaStewart.com, recipe title doubles as link to the recipe.

No Time to Say, “Hello,” Goodbye…

Okay, so I will say a quick hello.

My trip to Branson, MO is coming much faster than I would like. There are many things that I need to do, or would like to do, before I go and time is growing short!

I am starting to feel like the Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. And it certainly doesn’t help matters that I have such bad time management skills, either. Maybe it would help if I carried a stopwatch around with me wherever I go, like the Rabbit with his pocket watch?

Either way, I will be busy these last few days packing for Branson, continuing to practice my driving, so I’ll be better prepared for the 14 hour drive there, and trying to fit in some writing time to catch up with pen pals and work on a post for while I’m away.

When I return from my holiday, I will be sure to respond to any comments I have missed, or not gotten a chance to reply to before my trip.

Until then, happy blogging!

See you anon,

Dare Right

Versatile Blogger Award

Well, I am a few days late for my Post a Week commitment. I think I should really write a couple of posts each week so that I can save some up for future weeks. Right now I’ve just been writing one post at a time, and that doesn’t work so well on busier weeks. Plus, I will be leaving for a trip to Branson, Missouri this Saturday, and I need to have a post ready this week that I can schedule to publish during my trip.

On to the main topic.

I am so excited that I’ve received the “Versatile Blogger Award” from Cristina, the author of the blog 365 Days Photo Project. It’s always fun to be liked by people, but it’s especially nice for me to get this award from someone who I like so much! Thank you, Cristina!

The Award Rules:

If you win this award, you have to pass it on to 15 other “Versatile” bloggers (but there are so many) and contact each of them to let them know they won the award. Also, you have to share 7 facts about yourself, and thank and link the person who gave you the award.

Seven Facts You Didn’t Know About Dare Right:

1. I am a huge Bob Seger fan, and during the time that I was trying to decided on a name for my blog, I was listening to one of his CDs and found inspiration for my title in the lyrics of his song In Your Time. There is a verse in the song that says, “feel the wind, and set yourself the bolder course.” (You can check out the song here.)

2. I have always loved animals, I can’t imagine life without them. I currently have 3 cats, and 1 dog (a Yorkshire terrier).

3. I am generally an agreeable person, but I can get very angry when people are dishonest or mean to other people.

4. I love to laugh. (But then again, who doesn’t?)

5. I became a Christian when I was 4 years old.

6. I have always loved the idea of being a drinker of tea, but I have never really liked the taste of tea.

7. Talking to people over the phone makes me nervous, with the exception of talking to my mom or sister.

I Bestow the Versatile Blogger Award (in no particular order) to…

1. Cristina from 365 Days Photo ProjectWhat I love about Cristina’s blog is that I can see from her photos and words that she is a kind and positive person! Cristina shares a photo each day with us, and I enjoy seeing her creativity and hearing about her day.

2. Grown Man from You\’re a Grown Man  Grown Man’s blog is like his own personal advice column. He always has wise words to share with his readers, and best of all, he shares those bits of wisdom with humor! His advice is often just as good for women as it is for men. He has not been updating his blog over the last few months, but his past posts are sure to make you think and entertain you all at once.

3. M.J. from Thoughts from a Brown Paper Bag Girl – M.J. is a wonderfully eloquent writer! She has meaningful things to say. The way she writes about everyday experiences never fails to infuse me with wonder and inspiration. She inspires me to look at life in a more poetic way. 

4. Bonnie from Life of Bon Bonnie’s blog is, as you’d suspect by the title, about Bonnie’s life. I like Bonnie. I see her as a spunky, adventurous person, 2 things that I aspire to be. I really enjoy reading about her journeys and adventures, and enjoy reading her thoughts on life.

5. Leah from Uprooted Magnolia – It almost never fails that after viewing and reading one her posts, part of my heart wants to uproot myself, just like Leah did, and to Wyoming. I love the beautiful photographs she shares with us of the wide open prairies, distant mountains, ranch life, and the wild animals of the west. It is her photos and the way she describes life on a ranch that tugs at my heartstrings; I can feel the cowgirl hiding in my soul longing to break free.

6. Leslie from Coffee, Pearls, & Grace Leslie is a creative person, I like creative people. I always like what I read on her blog. I enjoy her blog because I like what she has to say, and the interests she has to share with us, and I often leave feeling inspired.

7. Tryityoumightlikeit from Try It You Might Like It This blogger is a wife, and mother of 2 kids, and according to her, her husband and kids are all picky eaters. She shares with us her adventures in trying new recipes. Her goal is to make trying new things a way of life for her family. So many of the recipes she cooks are just the kind of things I like to eat, so I always love to see what she cooks up next!

8. Kristen from Daily Bailey – Bailey is a cocker spaniel poodle mix, Kristen is his mom. Kristen lets us tag along for their adventures, and, boy, is it fun! I dare you to look deep into Bailey’s big, puppy-dog eyes and not melt! Whether they are out and about at a dog park, having a party with Bailey’s best buds to celebrate his birthday, or having a lazy day at home, I am always excited to see what Bailey’s been up to, and he always brings some extra joy into my day.

9. Dan from a LEGO a day Dan’s photos are creative and amusing. I always love it when the Inspector stops by to pay us a visit. The Inspector is very observant, just as he should be!

10. Petra from Zoom Yummy  I enjoy visiting Petra’s blog for the tasty recipes and crafty fun. Quite a creative gal that Petra. And she’s got a great name, too!

11. Sarah from Jettison2011 – Sarah has decided to jettison items that she no longer wants or needs to lighten her load. Her goal is one item a day. Visiting her blog inspires me to continue to jettison my own items that are weighing me down. Thanks for the inspiration, Sarah! 

12. Carol Ann from Cah4el\’s Blog Carol Ann often writes poetry about the Lord. Her poetry is a heartfelt reminder of what an awesome God we serve. I also love to read her posts about the happenings in her life. (I love her cat Shady, too!)

13. Jayne from AC\’s Scrapbook – One of my favorite thing about Jayne’s blog is her nature photography. She takes such beautiful photos of nature; they always brighten up a day! I also enjoy her thoughts on other subjects as well.

14. Leigh from Leigh Bakes I just discovered Leigh’s blog recently; she hasn’t had a new post since I found her, but while looking through her previous posts at the delicious recipes she has made, I could tell that I would love her blog. I look forward to her next entry!

15. Leanne from The ShortlistLeanne’s blog is a new discovery, also. She cooks and bakes a wide variety of foods, a lot of which looked extremely tasty to me. Being the lover of food that I am, I am sure I will be visiting her blog often!  

Congratulations, everyone, I hope you are pleased with your award! 😉

And to those of you who have taken part in my own blog journey, by way of reading and commenting, thank you!

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

Last summer I started working at a family owned farm. The family that owns the farm decided to start a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and they teamed up with their elderly next door neighbor Mr. Pickett* who has grown vegetables all his life and has been selling his own veggies out by the road in front the farm for a few years now.

A lot of the time I worked alone with Mr. Pickett, picking and selling veggies. I learned a lot about gardening from him, which I thought was really fun, because I would love to have a garden of my own someday.

Mr. Pickett and I were getting along well. He really liked my work, so as vegetable season was coming to an end he started telling me about the plans he had for me for next year. I never really knew what to say to him about his plans, because I hadn’t decided for sure that I was going to work at the farm again this summer, but I hadn’t decided that I wasn’t going to either. Although there were things I loved about the job, there were also a lot of things that made the job not a very good fit for me.

It was this March that I finally decided that I was not going to work at the farm this year. After making that decision I, of course, had to break the news to Mr. Pickett. This was the first time I’ve ever had to say no to a job offer, and to me, it felt a lot more like I was breaking up with Mr. Pickett than just declining a job. I was so worried that he would be upset or hurt by my decision. I knew he was planning on having me around to help him this year, and I felt guilty that I wouldn’t be there for him, but I also knew I had to do what was best for me.

I was so stressed out and nervous about telling him. It took me a few days to get up the courage to call him. When I finally made the call, I told him that working at the farm wasn’t going to be a good fit for me this year, and that I was sorry I wouldn’t be able to work with him. To my relief he said that he wasn’t hurt, he was just disappointed. He ended up telling me that if I ever changed my mind and decided I would like to work there again, he would always have a job for me.

So, in the end, it didn’t feel like a break up at all. I was so pleased with the way it turned out. When I got off the phone, I actually started dancing around the house from excitement and relief! I had gotten myself so worked up over the situation and thought it would turn out absolutely horribly, but it didn’t!

What do you do when you have to break news like this to someone? Have you found ways to handle these types of situations to make them less stressful?

*Name changed for the sake of privacy.

Dreams May Change, Cookies Will Always Be Delicious

Photo courtesy of MarthaStewart.com

When I was around 13 I was really into baking. I loved Martha Stewart, I still do, but back then I thought I wanted to be just like Martha. She is a pretty impressive woman, after all. Am I right? I thought it would be so fun to be the next “Martha Stewart.” However, even though I was always prone to romanticizing, I was never completely unrealistic, so I set my sights on one day becoming a baker. What could be a better job for me?! I loved baking, I loved bakeries, I loved eating baked goods! It was obviously the perfect career for me. Then I became aware of the cold, hard truth of the matter. Bakers have to wake up early. Really early. That was the deal breaker.

Though I no longer have the desire to be just like Martha or to be a baker, my love of baking, bakeries, eating baked goods, and Martha Stewart has stayed with me to this day. Now, I sometimes wonder if I might like to have a bakery of my own someday. Of course, I know I would still have to get up early, but I might be more willing to do that for something I really love, which may, or may not be being the owner and manager of a bakery. For now, I will continue to enjoy imagining owning my own bakery, choosing wonderful bakers and staff, and decorating a building to turn it into the lovely bakery I have pictured in my head, and of course, envisioning all of the delicious recipes that would be made in that bakery!

What is a dream that you’ve had that has changed?

I baked these cookies back in January for my New Year’s Resolution to make one new dessert recipe each month, instead of baking the same old favorites over and over again. I have wanted to try a recipe for double chocolate cookies for quite a while now. I wanted them to be soft, and chewy. Naturally I looked to Martha (MarthaStewart.com, to be exact) to be my cookie guide. This recipe fit the bill.

Outrageous Chocolate Cookies

Do not bake the cookies to a crisp; they are meant to be soft and chewy. Store them in an airtight container at room temperature for two to three days.Note: Don’t worry if the batter seems thin. It should look more like a brownie batter than a cookie dough.
 Everyday Food, Volume 5 September 2003  
Prep Time 20 minutes 
Total Time 45 minutes 
Yield Makes 2 dozen

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate roughly chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chunks

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat chopped chocolate and butter in a microwave safe bowl in 20-second increments, stirring between each, until almost melted; do not overheat. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla on high speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; beat in melted chocolate.Mix in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in chocolate chunks.
  3. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough 2 to 3 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are shiny and crackly yet soft in centers, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on sheets 10 minutes; with a thin metal spatula, transfer to racks to cool completely.

My Outrageous Chocolate Cookies

Recipe Review

These cookies were, indeed, soft and chewy, just as I hoped they would be! They are what any chocolate lover could want, rich and delicious. Perfect with a glass of milk. The only thing that I did slightly differently for these cookies was use regular semi-sweet chocolate chips, instead of the chocolate chunks the recipe called for. They definitely need to be stored well, because by the third day they started to get dry and crumbly. I was storing them in a container by themselves, next time I would add a slice of bread to help them stay more moist. I also thought I might make them when I would be sharing them with a group, so that they wouldn’t make it to the 3-day mark. All in all, I thought they were great, and I would absolutely bake them again.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 4

Weekly Photo Challenge: Light

When it comes to photography, I’m probably as much of a novice as you can get, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying taking pictures! After seeing what the challenge was for this week, I thought it would be fun to take part, because I happened to have taken some photos that worked for the “light” theme just the other day.

It was March 30th when I looked out my bedroom window and saw snow gently falling from the sky. I was so excited! You see, I love snow. Always have, always will. I sat by my window for a minute to soak up the beauty before it was gone. It was a very light snow, so I didn’t think it would continue for long. And I certainly wasn’t expecting the lovely snow to stick to the ground. But it did! Later that day, when I took my dog Monty out for jaunt around the yard, the snow was heavier and falling faster to meet the ground below. I was so pleased that it was turning into a snow day, most likely our last of the season, so I took my camera out to capture the day.

 

I like seeing the change of color in the snow from white by day to blueish by night.

 

 

I love the look of snow when it rests ever so gently on branches.

 

I really liked the way the street light looks behind the tree branches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hope these brought a little bit of brightness into your day!