Robin Hood Lunch

So for the past couple of years I’ve gotten groups of family and friends together to go on day trips. We’ll load a bunch of people into my family’s 15 passenger van and head out. I like to keep the adventures fairly simple, coordinating dates with all the adult schedules from multiple families is complicated enough! This is where the Robin Hood lunch comes in.

The Robin Hood Lunch is tradition around here, made up by my older sister years ago. We’ve introduced tons of my friends to the concept and while the idea of ripping chunks of French bread sounds appealing, the lack of mayonnaise was what really got them.

Let me tell you the basics of a Robin Hood Lunch…. French bread (unsliced), deli meat of choice, cheese slices of choice and juice. Simple? Yes. Basically you rip off hunks of bread, tear the bread open like a hot dog bun, slap on some meat, then a piece of cheese. Fold. Eat. No plates. No knives. No condiments. No posh tablecloth…

I was tired of soggy sandwiches, the hours of work before, the trash, cleaning everything up afterwards. Now we use it almost EVERY time we go out on day trips. It is no mess, little effort and not too expensive.

Here’s the “recipe”

Robin Hood Lunch
French Bread (around 4 servings)
Deli Meat (4 oz per person – ish)
Pre-sliced Cheese (cheddar, Provolone and Pepper Jack are favorites around here)
Juice of some kind

For my best friends, who are all Kombucha drinkers, that is our choice

For my family: they usually prefer the Naked Blue Machine Smoothie

For large groups: Capri Sun is the best because no mess.

Fruit and Veg (optional). I like to bring along snap peas, carrots, grapes or strawberries.
Chips, cookies, candy and snacks
Case of water

When we go as a large group, everyone will pitch in to bring enough food. I’ll make sure to bring meat, cheese and bread and people will bring the rest. We haven’t starved yet!

A couple variations?

The Communal Salad. That’s right. We’re not germaphobes here… My best friend and I literally threw together a spinach salad, grabbed some dressing and some plastic forks and ta-da! Salad!

The Costco version. Pictured below…. This one was delicious and equally as easy. It was a one stop meal on our way to the beach.

 

Chef Becky’s Butternut Squash Soup

Another Sno-Isle recipe. Perhaps our most made soup this year. It is easy, can be made vegetarian, gluten free and dairy free and taste just as good. It is delicious served with biscuits or sandwiches or just by itself in a mug.

Chef Becky’s Butternut Squash Soup
Ingredients: 
2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 pt. chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
3 oz butter
1 lb onion, medium dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 quarts chicken stock
8 lbs butternut squash (As Purchased)
1 pt. heavy cream, hot (or two cans coconut milk)
salt, white pepper, to taste
Worcestershire sauce, to taste

Directions: 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut squash in half lengthwise, remove seeds, prick holes in the peel, drizzle with oil and salt and pepper. Place cut side down on a foil or parchment lined pan. Roast for about 30 minutes or until soft enough to scoop out the flesh from peel.
Heat the pint of stock to a boil, remove from heat and add sliced ginger. Let steep for 30 minutes. Strain ginger and discard, but save the ginger tea.
In a medium stockpot over medium heat, melt butter. Add onions and garlic and sweat until soft. Do not brown. Scoop the flesh of the squash out of the peel and add to the stockpot along with the rest of the stock. Simmer until all the vegetable are tender enough to puree easily in the blender.
In small batches puree the soup. Return to heat and add the ginger infused stock, heated cream (or coconut milk/cream). Adjust seasoning with salt, white pepper and Worcestershire sauce.

Blueberry Lemon Cake

Six inch cakes are by far my favorite to make. Each cake turns out to be adorable, classy and super impressive. It is just the right size to give away to people with a leftover layer (because four layers looks ridiculous), we (my siblings and I) still get to try the cake. This cake was for my sister’s friend. It turned out quite well and was easy to make. I won’t go into details about the chocolate cake we botched at the same time… I used Sally’s Baking Addiction’s recipe and it is a delicious recipe, the slightly dry crumb of the cake matched with the creamy and tangy frosting and the fresh blueberries was a delicious combination. I will be making this cake again for sure!

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Blueberry Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups all-purpose four, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1-2 tablespoons lemon zest
Juice from 3 medium lemons (around 6 tablespoons)
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries tossed in 1 tablespoon flour
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, soften
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 9″ cake pans or four 6″ cake pans. I prefer to grease and line the bottom with parchment.
Beat butter and granulated and brown sugars until creamed, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla. Scrape sides and bottom and sides as needed. Set aside.
Sift together flour baking powder and salt. Add dry to wet ingredients. add buttermilk, lemon zest and lemon juice. Fold in blueberries.
Divide into cake pans and bake. Original recipe said between 21-26 minutes, mine took more like 30+ minutes.
Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth and creamy. add vanilla. Alternate adding milk and powdered sugar until frosting is the right consistency.
Frost cake and garnish with additional blueberries or lemon as desired. Refrigerate until served.

 

Hello Dollies

I used to not be super fond of these bars, but as I’ve gotten older and now love coconut and walnuts, it’s a whole different story. I find these bars highly addictive. Don’t expect them to last for long.

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Hello Dollies

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt butter in 9×13″ pan. Add graham cracker crumbs and stir to combine. Press mixture into pan.
Layer chocolate chips, walnuts and coconut over base. Reserve some coconut for on top (I usually forget this step). Drizzle condensed milk evenly over the top. Sprinkle with remaining coconut. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.
Note: tastes amazing with vanilla ice cream or served warm with milk.

Scotcharoos

These have long been a favorite in my family. They’re super easy to make and go over really well wherever they’re taken. Just last night, I did a triple recipe in a 3/4 sheet pan for a Civil Air Patrol meeting. I’ve taken these bars to countess CAP events over the past decade.

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Ingredients: 
1 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup smooth peanut butter
6 cups Rice Krispies
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 package butterscotch chips

Directions:
Bring sugar and corn syrup to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter. Stir in Rice Krispies.
Press lightly into greased 9×13″ pan.
Melt chocolates together and spread on top.
Do not refrigerate. Let chocolate set at room temperature.

Chef Becky’s Potato Chowder

The past two summer days here in the Northwest have been, well, chilly. What do we eat when it’s cool outside. Soup. This chowder is the ultimate comfort food, in my opinion, it is full of flavor, simple to prepare and makes one gallon of soup. Usually one gallon would be plenty to serve my what-is-getting-to-be-normal sized family of six for two meals, but someone (ahem, my only brother at home) came home hungry.

So for dinner the following night, I stretched what soup remained (about four cups) with additional milk and cream. Ev cooked me up one red potato and Mom had an extra piece of salmon cooked up, so I added them in along with some corn and some cooked broccoli to turn it into a sort of salmon chowder. It turned out to be delicious!

This is my most-made recipe from my time at Sno-Isle’s Le Bistro.

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Chef Becky’s Potato Chowder
Ingredients:
8 oz bacon, finally chopped, (I usually just use the entire package)
1 lb onions, brunoise (1/8″ cubes)
4 oz all-purpose flour
2 quarts chicken stock
2 1/2 lbs potatoes, small dice (1/4″ cubes)
1 quart milk, hot,
1 quart heavy cream, hot (I usually don’t use the full amount of cream. Start with 3 cups)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
Worcestershire sauce, to taste

Directions:
In a stock pot, over medium heat, cook the bacon until most of the fat has rendered, but before bacon becomes crisp.
Add onions and cook until tender. Add flour and make a roux, cooking for 4-5 minutes.
Whisk in the chicken stock slowly and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, bring stock down to a simmer. Add potatoes and simmer until tender.
Add hot milk and cream, stirring to blend.
Add seasoning, adjusting as necessary.

Makes 1 gallon
Corn Chowder Variation:
Reduce potatoes to 2 lbs. Add 2 lbs of frozen corn when potatoes are tender.

Salmon Chowder Variation:
Use combination of redand russet potatoes, add corn and cooked salmon to completed chowder.

Jamaica Cake (Banana and Pineapple)

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Jamaica Cake 
Ingredients: 
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
20 oz crushed pineapple with juice
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 bananas, in small dice
Powdered sugar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″x13″ pan.
Mix oil and sugar until well combined. Add eggs and vanilla. Stir in the entire contents of the pineapple can.
Combine dry ingredients, including pecans. Mix with liquids. Fold in bananas, try not to mash as much as possible.
Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick comes out clean. Top with a good coating of powdered sugar.

White Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberry Swirl

I would suggest not trying to make a cheesecake at like 10 at night. They cook FOREVER! I made this recipe from Baker By Nature for the last family meal before Anna heads off to school and Ian and I head off to Tennessee and Kentucky. Our schedules are so busy that we had to do the meal five days before we actually leave. This cheesecake is by far the best cheesecake I have ever made. It was super smooth, the crust was just crunchy enough to add a different texture and flavor. the fresh berries cut down on the sweetness of the entire dessert. And, it was beautiful!

The recipe might look a little intimidating, but it was actually pretty easy to make!

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White Chocolate Cheesecake with Raspberry Swirl
Ingredients: 
For the crust:
24 Oreo cookies
4 tablespoons butter, melted
For the filling (bring all ingredients to room temperature):
3 packages cream cheese
1 cup sour cream (don’t get low fat)
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup lemon juice
8 oz white chocolate melted (I used Ghirardelli bars), melted and cooled slightly
For the Swirl (optional):
3/4 cup fresh raspberries
3 tablespoons sugar
For the Garnish:
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 oz fresh raspberries
mint and white chocolate if wanted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Wrap the outside of your springform pan with tinfoil to prevent leaks. If not using springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the sides.
Crush cookies to small crumbs and stir in butter. Press into the bottom of prepared pan. Set aside.
Beat cream cheese in mixer until smooth. Scrape down the sides. Add sugar and beat until sugar is incorporated. Add the sour cream and mix. Everything should be completely smooth at this point. Scrape down the sides. Add eggs, egg yolks and vanilla and combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as often as necessary to get a perfectly smooth batter. Mix in the flour. The recipe I used said to fold in the following ingredients, but I just beat them right in. 😛 Add chocolate and lemon juice and mix until just together. DON’T OVER MIX. Spread evenly over crust.
Combine raspberries and sugar in a blender and blend until “smooth”. Strain out all the raspberry seeds. Drizzle over cheesecake. Swirl with a knife or toothpick.
Place springform pan into a deeper, larger pan (I used a hotel pan) and fill with about an inch of water. This is a bain marie or water bath. It cause more even baking and works amazingly for cheesecakes! I’ve never had a cheesecake top crack doing this method.
Bake in oven for 1 1/2 hours. Turn oven off and let cheesecake set for 45 minutes inside closed oven.
Remove from oven and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before chilling. For best results, chill overnight.
To serve, beat cream and powdered sugar together until still peaks form. I have a whipped cream whipper which works wonderfully! Dip knife in hot water and dry blade. Make 1 cut and repeat. This gives the cleanest cut to the cheesecake. Top each slice with whipped cream, fresh raspberries and mint/chocolate if desired.

Watermelon with Mint

This is an appetizer we did for Samuel and Lisa’s wedding. I was dubious at first, but these little appetizers are delicious! That and it’s gluten and dairy free, simple, refreshing and really, really easy to make.

My trick to picking delicious watermelons:

  1. Don’t buy watermelons that have been sitting outside in the heat.
  2. Find heavy watermelons that sound hollow. Not thuds. Hollow.
  3. Test two or three potential ones to find the best.
  4. Try and buy from places that have set prices instead of by the pound. (you’ll save money that way)

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Watermelon with Mint

Ingredients:
Watermelon
Mint leaves
toothpicks

Directions:
Cut watermelon into 1″x 1″ cubes. Top each cube with half a mint leaf and secure it with a toothpick. Serve cold.

Mini Chocolate Cupcakes

I loved the white cake recipe from Add A Pinch so much that I knew her chocolate cake recipe would be pretty near perfect. I made minimal changes to the recipe, using coffee instead of espresso, adding chocolate chips and more vanilla, but it is a fantastic, not-too-sweet chocolate cake recipe. My older sister did little music decorations from white and dark chocolate to put on top for her piano recital.

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Mini Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients: 
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup boiling water
Chocolate buttercream frosting

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease mini muffin pans or line with paper liners.
Mix flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and coffee powder in the bowl of your mixer. Mix until combine
Add milk, oil, eggs and vanilla and mix on medium until well combined. Reduce speed and add boiling water. Mix on high for about 1 minute to add air. At this point, you can add chocolate chips or any other add ins.
Scoop batter into prepared pans no more than 3/4 way full. Bake for 10-ish minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
Cool completely before frosting.