Monday, August 31, 2015

Cherry Almond Pancake Topping

Now with an official kindergartener in the house, gone are the days where I had daycare taking care of his breakfasts. Now, I have to make sure he had a good breakfast every morning before boarding the bus. One of my son's favorite breakfasts is pancakes. He loves those fluffy rounds of sweet batter, drizzled with a touch of maple syrup. A couple months ago when they were in peak season, I received a generous amount of Rainier Sweet Cherries thanks to my friends at Northwest Cherry Growers and the Washington State Fruit Commission. I canned some sweet cherries in a variety of ways - jams, jellies, butter, pancake topping, etc - and I'm excited to be able to enjoy a taste of these delicious gems all throughout the year! 

One of my favorite canned recipes using the cherries included this Cherry Almond Pancake Topping. Plump, ripe, sweet cherries were processed with pectin, butter, sugar and a touch of almond extract to create a perfect and colorful topping for pancakes, waffles, biscuits, or any favorite morning pastry. Joel was especially excited for a change of pace from his usual maple syrup topping on his short stack... and I'm pretty sure you will be too!

Cherry Almond Pancake Topping

2 1/2 pounds fresh sweet (or tart) cherries, pitted
1 package (1 3/4 oz) powdered fruit pectin
1/2 teaspoon butter
4 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon almond extract

Place whole pitted cherries in a dutch oven and add pectin and butter. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. 

Stir in sugar and almond extract, return to a full boil. Boil and stir for 1 minute.

Preserve the cherry almond pancake topping immediately, using 1 of the 3 ways listed here.

About Northwest Cherries and Washington State Fruit Commission
Washington State Fruit Commission is a growers’ organization funded by fruit assessments to increase awareness and consumption of regional stone fruits. The organization is dedicated to the promotion, education, market development, and research of soft fruits from Northwest orchards. It began in 1947 and has since grown to include five states – Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah 
and Montana. For more information, visit or

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Cookies

This is quite the momentous year for me. After the wedding of my dreams, followed by a honeymoon that is by far the best vacation I ever took, my lil guy is about to embark on a new adventure. He will soon have his first day of Kindergarten later this week! It's hard to believe that he is growing up so fast, even more so as he eagerly awaits the opportunity to sport his new backpack, wear his new school clothes and meet new friends at his elementary school. Am I emotional about it? Not one bit. More than anything, I'm excited for him and how he will navigate through the school, soaking it all in. It's such an exciting time and I couldn't be more proud of what he's done to get to where he is and where he will be headed!

That said, I'm also faced with new challenges in the kitchen as he starts off with a new routine and going to school for the first time. I'll need to hunker down on a routine of my own with breakfasts every morning, packed lunches, and scheduled dinner for the family. But in between it all, I'm also looking forward to making some fun and tasty snacks to welcome my lil guy (and husband!) home from their day. If you're looking for a great snack for your kiddies, may I suggest these Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Cookies?

Thanks to my friends at Krusteaz, they have some new cookie mixes perfect for fall and they have saved me time and trouble so I can have some sweet goodies ready in no time! These Cranberry Orange Oatmeal Cookies use Krusteaz Brown Sugar Oatmeal cookie mix, fresh orange zest, orange extract, rolled oats and dried cranberries to make into a sweet cookie for our cuties to gobble up! You can get the full recipe here, on the Krusteaz website!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Hawaiian Wedding & Luau Recap!

Well here we are... the whirlwind of our Hawaiian wedding luau and Cancun paradise of a honeymoon has started to settle a bit as we're slowly getting back to our normal lives. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect wedding day with all my loved ones in attendance. I've covered quite a bit of detail during my teasers for our ceremony and reception, so here's how it all played out on our wedding day with some pictures provided by friends, family and our photographers, Roland Gozun Photography...

Wedding Banner... to welcome our guests. Many friends and family posed in front of our banner for pictures. It was great that they enjoyed it so much and found it to be a good picture prop too!

Fresh Hawaiian Orchid Lei Greeting... by my matrons of honor and their daughters.
Children received poly leis while all other guests received fresh dendrobium orchid leis.

Woven Bamboo Fan Favors... that was not only colorful but purposeful. Thankfully it wasn't hot or humid during our outdoor wedding, but guests enjoyed them and still used them throughout the day

Ukelele Guest 'Book'... which our guests signed as they arrived. These two ukuleles are now mounted up in our bedroom as a decorative and meaningful keepsake of our wedding...

"First Look" before the ceremony... so we could have a special moment to ourselves before the ceremony and help calm each others nerves lol...

Family Pictures before the ceremony... which we wanted to get done while we all looked fresh with our hair and makeup done. It was a great bonus we had all pictures done early so once the ceremony ended, everyone could relax and enjoy the party right away...

Bridal Entrance... Just moments before everyone stood up as I was escorted by my dad down the grassy aisle, while my dear friend sung "I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz...

Married in a ring of fresh flowers... using the flower bouquets from our Southern Pre-Wedding Picnic the night before and accented with more fresh dendrobium orchids.

Our unity candle ceremony.. which was the hiccup if there was any during our wedding day!
There was a great cool breeze throughout the ceremony which made it difficult to light the candles. It took several people to get them lighted after quite some time but finally, we had them lit. I was just waiting to find out what was the "wedding hiccup" would be and when this happened, I thought it was funny it took so many people to light candles. This picture captured that moment perfectly!

Exchange of vows and rings... Patrick was asked first if he took me to be his wife. He said, "I do" - phew! Then it was my turn. When the question was posed to me, I told our officiant that I had to ask the opinion of Joel. At that point, I turned to Joel who was seated immediately in front of us and asked him, "Joel, do you think I should take Patrick to be my husband and your stepdad?".... and to that, Joel yelled out an excited, "Yes!"...

After our kiss and hugs, we are husband and wife!

Patrick seems to like seeing me with a wedding ring on my finger lol...

The guys being guys...

My girls looking fabulous...

Our awesome friends and family...

Reception Tables... with fresh orchid centerpieces, some table snacks and
a 'Hawaiian I Spy' game with disposable cameras for guests to partake in...

Passed Sushi Appetizers... for guests to also nibble on before our luau feast...

Roasted Kahlua Pig... which is a must for any luau!

Main Buffet Island with Kahlua Pork and accompanying side dishes such as Crispy Asian Salad, Macaroni Salad, Steamed Jasmine Rice and Coconut Chicken Kabobs...

Pupu Island with Vegetable Eggrolls, Crispy Chicken Potstickers, 
and made to order Tempura Shrimp & Vegetables...

Stir Fry Island with fresh vegetables, beef, chicken and a variety of sauces served over rice &/or noodles. Guests loved the ability to create their dishes and have them prepared and made to order by a few chefs at the island.

Tropical Drink Island... Our signature mai tai cocktails were a hit, as were our variety of wines, punches and also craft beer from a local brewery...

Hawaiian & Filipino Sweets Table... so many treats to choose from and we encouraged guests to try them all! Chinese take out boxes were also available to fill up and take home to enjoy,,,

Wedding Cake & Cupcakes... our small wedding cake was a Hawaiian Pineapple Cake with buttercream frosting and topped with toasted macadamia nut and coconut. We had cupcakes in the same flavor along with Key Lime Pie and also Chocolate Salted Caramel. Neither Patrick or I had any cake/cupcakes so we wrapped up our cake and froze it to enjoy next year on our one year anniversary. (Crossing fingers it will still be good!)

Hawaiian Shave Ice... with the number of guests, two trucks were sent over and the guests loved this! Guests chose from cherry, blue raspberry and pina colada shave ice...

Hawaiian Dancers... What's a luau without dancers?! 
They preformed several dances and even got our guests up and dancing too!

Ladies Hula Dance... All the ladies were asked to come up and dance the hula with me in the middle. It was fun and our girls did great!

Mens Dance... Patrick was also called up with the guys from our wedding party to do their dance for the audience. We loved how they all got into it - even Patrick lol!

Wedding Dance... We thought we could get away with not dancing in front of people but we were wrong. They had us involved quite a bit and we danced as if no one was watching lol...

Hawaiian Wedding Song... It was only customary that we dance to the Hawaiian Wedding Song and it was great. Joel even got into the spotlight as the youngest band member playing the skins...

Thank You Speech... Patrick and I couldn't thank our friends and family enough for celebrating with us on our wedding day. We had guests from three continents, four countries, eight states and multiple cities attend to support us and share the love....

Closing Song... We kicked off our wedding ceremony with 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' by Iz Kamakawiwo╩╗ole. We also closed out our wedding reception with the same song sung by our musicians, Barefoot Hawaiian. I joined them for a little bit and sang along....

Farewell... Then it was time to go. We bid our friends and family goodbye with plenty of hugs, kisses and many more thank yous...

These pictures are teasers from our photographer but there are plenty of more pictures taken by family and friends - you can check them out on WedPics!

Patrick and I couldn't have asked for a more perfect wedding.
Both of us are still overwhelmed with the love we felt from family and friends that day and we can only hope they enjoyed celebrating with us as much as we did ourselves! Everything about the ceremony and wedding was truly our style - non-traditional, casual, and very family oriented. It truly was an amazing day with everything perfectly executed. The best part? I finally have my 'happily ever after' with my best friend, partner and love of my life. It may have taken us nearly 40 years with a rough journey at times that we each had to take in order for our paths to cross, but they did. Now, we can enjoy the journey our lives will take together, hand in hand and with such a deep love for each other.

 Stay tuned - I'll be sharing our honeymoon experience we had in Cancun at the Excellence Playa Mujeres Resort soon... and wow, it was quite a culinary experience to say the least!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Lemon Thyme Waffles

Breakfast has been a popular meal at our house lately, even outside the typical breakfast hours! Joel has been slightly obsessed with waffles because he loves how our waffle maker makes such crispy waffles on the outside while being soft and tender inside. Joe's definitely on to something because it's also been fun for me to play with different batters by adding a variety of ingredients! One recent waffle variation we made were these Lemon Thyme Waffles. The light waffle batter, thanks to the awesome folks of Krusteaz, is enhanced with fresh thyme from our garden and a nice dose of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Check out our recipe featured on the Krusteaz website here!

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