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Monthly Archives: June 2015

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #15 and Strawberry Mousse

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Sometimes I feel yanked between two outlooks.

One minute I’m looking forward to the future, getting excited about upcoming events and plans and opportunities; the next minute I’m looking back fondly at the past, wondering where the time has gone. Last week our No-bake S’more Bars had summer written all over them, an excited look-ahead to the season just underway–the beach, the pool, camping out, hiking.

Now this week, with our Strawberry Mousse–using fresh strawberries, the signature fruit of spring–I find myself wondering where spring has gone. What happened to all those flowers, the cool nights, being able to sit out in the sun without browning like a piece of toast?

This Strawberry Mousse will make you nostalgic for the season just past, for those fresh hand-picked berries now all but gone from the farmer’s market. The good news is that fresh strawberries are available in the summer, and this mousse is both easy and refreshing, and doesn’t require any cooking or heating up the kitchen.

So give it a try to help you cool off on these hot summer days even as you think fondly of the cool spring just past, gone till next year.

And while you’re caught up in this mild wave of nostalgia, check out Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #15. The four women are looking backward with both regret and fond memories even as they contemplate an uncertain future filled with both hope and fear.

strawberry fluffStrawberry Mousse

1/2 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced*

1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice or orange juice

2 cups whipped cream or Cool Whip**

strawberry mousse

Add the strawberries to a bowl, along with the granulated sugar, vanilla, and lemon or orange juice. Cover and allow to marinate until juices form, or about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make whipped cream or ensure that Cool Whip is at room temperature.

Add the strawberries and their juices to a food processor. Puree until smooth. Gently fold the pureed strawberries into the whipped cream. Divide into serving cups, cover, and refrigerate for 2 hours. When ready to serve, garnish with a strawberry and lemon or orange peel.

Makes 2 servings.

*This will be about 1 heaping cup of sliced strawberries.

**To make your own whipped cream, beat 1 cup whipping cream to soft peaks. Slowly add 1 Tablespoon of powdered sugar. Continue to beat until powdered sugar is incorporated into the whipped cream.

strawberry mousse dessert

{Adapted from Big Girl, Small Kitchen}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #15 of “Two Sisters Times Two”.

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #15, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #15, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #14 and No-bake S’more Bars

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Talk about the power of suggestion!

Last week with our Brownie Batter Dip, we suggested maybe you pack some graham crackers and marshmallows to go along with the dip and make yourself a quickie S’mores snack out by the pool.

Now this week we’re going straight to the source and making the real deal–No-bake S’more Bars: as in mix it all together, chill for a little while, then have yourself about the most fun snack in the world!

But this snack has to be eaten in the summer. So call it our jump-into-summer-with-a-bang dessert, to kick the season off. You can eat them on the deck and pretend you’re sitting around the campfire, or eat them around the campfire and avoid that disgusting charred marshmallow taste–yuck!

Or just say the heck with all those pretend settings and eat the whole pan while sitting on the couch in the air conditioning listening to Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #14. Now that’s a way to kick off the summer season!

no bake smores bars No-Bake S’more Bars

4 cups mini marshmallows, divided

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

pinch of salt

6 ounces (a scant 1 cup) milk chocolate chips, divided

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup Honey Teddy Grahams*, broken into small pieces

no bake smores

Line a 5×7 inch pan with foil. Spray the foil with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat 3 cups of the mini marshmallows, unsalted butter, and salt over medium heat. Stir frequently until all of the ingredients are melted and smooth. This will take about 2-3 minutes. Add half of the milk chocolate chips and stir until melted and incorporated with other ingredients. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in vanilla.

Quickly add the remaining marshmallows, chocolate chips, and Teddy Grahams and fold into the mixture until evenly distributed. Spoon mixture into prepared pan and spread evenly. Cover and refrigerate until firm, or about 2 hours. When ready to eat, cut into squares with a serrated knife.

Makes 6-8 bars.

*You can also use whole graham crackers broken into small pieces.

no bake smores

{Adapted from Nestle}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #14 of “Two Sisters Times Two”.

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #14, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #14, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #13 and Brownie Batter Dip

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This time of year taking a dip usually means heading for the pool.

But then we at Reading and Recipes never were ones to follow the crowd. We’re inviting you–indeed, encouraging you–to take a dip–as with a fresh strawberry or graham cracker or marshmallow (quickie s’mores, anyone?) or pretzel–into our Brownie Batter Dip!

This stuff is the stuff! It’s quick and simple to make, easy to store or transport in one of those plastic containers with a lid, goes anywhere and with almost anything (or even plain–just dip your finger into it and enjoy!).

In fact, it will happily travel with you to the pool in a small cooler along with your favorite beverage and some graham crackers and fresh berries. That way you can have a dip in between your dips! And don’t be surprised if suddenly you have lots of visitors stopping by to share some of the fun of this dip between the dips. You don’t have to tell them your friends at R&R set you up with the treat. It will be our secret.

And if you get bored during your dips between the dips (or if you want to drive off some of those pushy neighbors), download the audio of Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #13, pop in the ear buds, pretend you’re asleep, and listen to the serial while you lounge in the sun.

And don’t forget your sunscreen or a hat! We try to do it all at R&R, but so far we haven’t figured out how to upload sun protection.

brownie fruit dip

Brownie Batter Dip

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature 

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sifted powdered sugar 

2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted 

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted 

2 Tablespoons packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2-3 Tablespoons milk or cream

Add cream cheese and butter to a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer for 1-2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar slowly, mixing until powdered sugar is well incorporated. Add the flour, cocoa powder, brown sugar, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of milk to cream cheese mixture. Mix until batter is fluffy and all of the ingredients are incorporated. If batter is too thick, add 1 more tablespoon of milk. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving. Enjoy with pretzels, graham crackers, strawberries, and other sliced fruit.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

brownie dip

{Adapted from Cooking to Perfection}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #13 of “Two Sisters Times Two”.

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #13, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #13, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #12 and Southern Buttermilk Peach Pudding Cake

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It’s June! Does that produce a “Yay!” or a “Yuck!” for you?

I suppose it all depends on your preference and your locale. For many, June marks the start of summer. And some of us have had an early taste of that season with the sun beating down and temps in the 90s (or hotter–yikes!). But for those in the Southern Hemisphere, June means the start of winter! Either way, it’s a watershed month. Soon your days will be getting shorter, or longer.

Whether June is a yay or a nay for you, Reading and Recipes has a yummy summer recipe to help you along. This Southern (as in the United States) Buttermilk Peach Pudding Cake will be a great way to use some of those local peaches that are just beginning to ripen in the Deep South and will soon be available in many areas.

And, thanks to global distribution of fresh produce, you can enjoy this taste of summer almost anywhere in the world. Bake the Peach Pudding Cake, turn on your sunlamp, break out the kiddie pool, buy a couple bags of sand from the local home improvement store, and pretend you are at the beach–with sunglasses, shorts, a t-shirt, and flip-flops–even if it’s snowing outside and you’re hiding out in your basement.

In Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #12, Brooke and Leah and Jodie and Penni have all gathered at the beach. The weather is cold and blustery, and the tone ominous. Brooke has called her sister and two daughters from across the country to a lonely cottage at the end of an island to share some important news. But the other three don’t yet know what this news is. Give this segment a listen or read to see the different ways these women react to the growing tension and concern.

buttermilk peach puddingSouthern Buttermilk Peach Pudding Cake

4 medium fresh peaches, peeled, cored and sliced*

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

peach pudding cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8 or 9 inch round pan and set aside.

Place half of the peaches into a food processor. Process until smooth. Pour in the buttermilk and vanilla, and process until ingredients are mixed together. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, or about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and egg yolk and beat until incorporated and the batter turns a pale yellow. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and ginger. Add about 1/3 of this dry mixture to the creamed butter and stir in. Add half of the peach puree and stir into batter. Repeat this process, mixing in the final 1/3 of dry ingredients last.

Layer remaining peach slices into prepared baking pan. Pour batter over top of slice peaches. Bake the pudding for 25-30 minutes, or until the pudding is set. Allow pudding to cool slightly. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.

Makes 6-8 servings.

*Use any variety of peaches you can find–just make sure they are ripe! My store only had nectarines in stock, but the recipe still turned out delicate and delicious.

buttermilk peach pudding cake

{Adapted from Robert Stehling, Hominy Grill, Charleston, SC, Southern Living Magazine Sept 2011}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #12 of “Two Sisters Times Two”.

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #12, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #12, text © Jeffrey Anderson