National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month: What to Eat Right Now

berriesWe’re just a few days away from June and with all the sunshine bringing life to our gardens and lawns, that means there’s an abundance of farm fresh produce to add to our daily menus. June has been appropriately designated as National Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Month and to help you figure out what you want to put in your farmer’s market basket, here’s what to eat right now.

Blackberries/Blueberries/Boysenberries Jellies, jams, pies and muffins — dessert is in the garden! Berries have a relatively short growing season, but fresh berries have a flavor you’ll be thinking about all year long. Sprinkle them with a little bit of sugar and whipped cream, and you have a refreshing dessert, but make them part of your pastries and you’ll get a little taste of heaven.

Apricots We’re just about half-way through the apricot growing season, so if you want to try a recipe using apricots, now’s the time to do it. An upside down cake, a tart, a cobbler– put them on your list for your next summer picnic.

Rhubarb June and July are your last months to try something fabulous with rhubarb. Most people are familiar with strawberry-rhubarb pie — it’s the perfect balance of sweet and tart (and goes really well with vanilla ice cream!) but rhubarb can be transformed into a sauce for chicken or pork chops — you just have to make sure to add a sweet seasonal fruit — like cherries — to it to temper the tartness.   asparagus

Asparagus Get your asparagus while you can! We’re winding down the growing season for these green spears. They’re perfect for grilling so you don’t have to heat up the house roasting them or sauteing them on your stove top. Drizzle them with a little olive oil and sprinkle them with salt before putting them on the hot grill. Leave them on just long enough to make grill marks and they’re ready to serve with a squeeze of lemon.

Corn We’re just starting the sweet corn season — start pinning your favorite corn recipes because for the next months, you’ll have corn coming out your ears! That’s not a bad thing — who doesn’t love a good roasted corn salad or eating it straight off the cob slathered in butter?

tomatoesTomatoes There’s no other time of year that you can find such red, plump and juicy tomatoes. Whether you’re slicing them up for a caprese salad or skewering them for a veggie kebab, you’ll have plenty of delightful dishes that can be brightened with a few tomatoes. And if you don’t get to them all, you can always can them for sauce in the winter.

Summer sunshine gives us so much more than just outdoor fun to take advantage of — make sure to take advantage of all of nature’s bounty and make fresh fruits and veggies part of your summer cookouts, entertaining or just dinner at home with the family.

Last Minute Memorial Day Ideas

Summer starts this weekend with an extra day to play — not everyone is taking a trip out of town and for those of us who are staying around the neighborhood to hit a barbecue or two, we have some ideas to make your first weekend of summer awesome. Here are 6 last minute Memorial Day ideas.

concerts-in-the-parkOutdoor Concert Music aficionados can finally take their hobbies outside! Amphitheaters will be packed this weekend to start of summer concert series from coast to coast. The symphony, a country music review or a rock bands will take to the summer stage from now until September — you can make it part of your summer routine.

Shakespeare in the Park Across the nation thespians are getting into character for a summer on the park stage. Many communities hold Shakespeare in the Park series between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It’s fun way to enjoy the warm weather and take in a few “thees” and “thous.”

Backyard Movie You don’t have to go to the park to have an evening of entertainment outdoors! Set up a movie projector in your backyard to watch a family flick and eat popcorn under the stars. It’ll give the kids a taste of what’s to come for the next three months. fun-run

Race to Summer Walk, jog or sprint, there are Memorial Day races planned in most communities. You don’t have to be a serious runner to enjoy these kind of races — you can do a mile, 5k or 10k. Do it with the family or do it with a running partner — it’s a fun way to spend time outdoors and get some exercise. If you pick the right race, you might even be running for a good cause.

Botanic Gardens Flowers are at their finest at the botanic gardens in May. Some gardens hold special events and flower sales as a bonus to viewing the green landscapesand perfectly pruned plants. Even if you’re not into horticulture, seeing the blossoms gets just about everyone excited for the season to come. flea-market

Treasure Hunting Memorial Day weekend is the weekend when most outdoor flea markets and farmers markets start in earnest. Whether you’re looking for an antique dresser or you need fresh heirloom tomatoes for an impressive spread at your Memorial Day cookout, going to the market is more of an event than a chore.

Summer is finally here — take advantage of it while you can! Whether you’re headed to a barbecue or you want to spend the weekend surrounded by flowers, make sure to make the most of your outdoor time; we only get so much sunshine every year.

Memorial Day Cookout: 4 Marinades to Try

Memorial Day weekend is here! It’s the first big barbecue weekend of the year and we want everyone to be ready to cook out. To make your grilled meats tasty and moist, we have a few ideas to get the most flavor out of your food. Here are 4 marinades to try this weekend.Greek-Chicken

Chicken A favorite marinade for chicken is the Greek version — it’s simple and the flavor is bold but light enough to go well with beer or the refreshing summer cocktails you’ll be mixing up this weekend. This recipe comes from the Baking Bookworm. Most of the ingredients are items you probably already have in your pantry so you don’t need to make an extra trip to the store before your party.

steak-marinadeBeef A little bit of Latin flavor goes a long way to make your steaks stand out! There isn’t much to this marinade from The Gardening Cook. Cuban style steak is only slightly more than a sprinkle of cumin and a twist of lime — just 30 minutes in the refrigerator and you’ll be on a 90 mile journey off the coast of Florida… all without leaving your backyard!

mojo-marinadeSalmon Give your salmon a little bite with jalapeños and keep it fresh with a splash of lime! Barefeet in the Kitchen offers her Mojo Marinade to give your salmon a little kick. A few fresh ingredients from a trip to the farmers market can yield enough Mojo Marinade to last you from Memorial Day to Labor Day with friends and family asking for more!

tenderloin-marinadePork The grilled pork tenderloin with Thai marinade requires a lot of ingredients — but it’s worth it! This recipe comes from the Bewitching Kitchen and, even though there are a lot of ingredients, you shouldn’t be scared — the hardest part of it is the shopping! All you have to do is chop up the ingredients; they don’t have to be pretty because it’s just a marinade. It does require quite a bit of time for the tenderloin to soak up all the flavors, but it’s a three-day weekend — you have time!

You don’t have to marinate your meat this Memorial Day weekend — you may want to put all of your effort in the outdoor fun — sometimes just a little salt and pepper is all you need to create the right flavors. But if you want to make your party memorable, try something new and bold! Your guests will be happy you did.

National Bike Month: Benefits of Biking

bikingMay is National Bike Month and, probably not coincidentally, it’s a great time of year to get on two wheels — it’s not too hot and it’s not too cold. But weather might not be quite enough incentive for you to go for a ride. In case you’re wavering, here are 4 benefits of biking that will get you back on the saddle.

Easy Exercise Biking is a low-impact way to workout. It’s easy on the joints while giving you a decent cardio workout it also works all your major muscle groups — making it a great way to tone up your entire body for summer. It’s so easy, you won’t realize that you’ve gotten an intense workout until you’re back home and ready for a nap. If you want to burn a lot of calories, kick it up a notch and you can burn as many calories in an hour of biking as you would an hour of running — and you’ll go a lot further doing it.

bikingIt Feels Good Biking releases dopamine — the neurotransmitter that makes us feel good. Biking has the power to improve your mood and relieve anxiety — it’s kind of like a natural antidepressant. It also gives you energy and reduces fatigue. It may not fix your problems, but for just 45 minutes on your bike, you may be a little happier for the day.

Brain Booster Getting your body moving gets your brain fit, too. But participating in cardio exercise, you’re increasing the blood and oxygen flow to your brain. Not only will you be keeping your body and brain fit, according to a study from the University of Illinois, you may also be fighting off age-related brain deterioration.

It Keeps You Young Just three 45 minute rides a week could make you almost a decade younger — biologically, anyway. King’s College in London studied the effects of cycling and found cyclists show fewer signs of aging than sedentary people. It also reduces the risk of heart disease,  type two diabetes and obesity. In addition to feeling younger, according to a study from the University of Valencia in Spain, Tour de France cyclists live an average of eight years longer than people who don’t bike. Get on your bike and ride to youth and health!biking


Just about everyone knows how to ride a bike but not everyone knows how good it is for your. Now that you’re armed with the knowledge of how biking can improve your life, get your bike out and prepped for a summer on two wheels!

National Burger Month: Craziest Burger Toppings

lak-burgersIt’s National Burger Month — which makes sense since we’ll be grilling up our favorite meats this Memorial Day weekend. Though burgers are never boring, there are always ways to make them more interesting. In honor of National Burger Month and Memorial Day cookouts, we’ve put together a list of burgers from around the country with the craziest toppings.

Minnesota Minneapolis is home to Eli’s Donut Burgers. It’s the best of the best in sweet and savory dishes! But it’s certainly not on the menu for anyone trying to stick to a diet this summer. Eli has been peddling these crimes against nature in a food truck for the last few summers — but it’s unclear if these devilish burgers will be hitting the streets again. Consider yourself lucky if you can get your mouth around one!

burgers

Image Source: Facebook/Rockit Burger Bar

Illinois Chicago is proving itself to be a culinary powerhouse — and the burger is a platform to showcase food creativity. If you happen to be headed to a Cubs game, you might want to fuel up for the game with a Mac Attack at Rockit Bar and Grill across from Wrigley Field. If you haven’t guessed what that is, it’s a burger between two “buns” formed from deep-fried macaroni and cheese. To conquer this one, you need to leave your house hungry.

Kentucky At Doc Crow’s in Louisville, they want you to love your meat. They want you to love it so much, they put together the carnivore’s dream burger: pulled pork, sliced brisket on top of a half-pound of steak burger. But the mayhem doesn’t end with the meat — a fried green tomato, onion rings and a fried egg pushes this burger over the cliff of crazy.

Massachusetts Boston Burger Company adopted a Memphis favorite as one of the most outrageous burgers north of the Mason-Dixon line. It’s called The King, and it’s named for Elvis Presley so if your imagination serves you well, you know it includes bacon, fried banana slices (with a coating of cinnamon and sugar) and, instead of ketchup and mustard, the bun is slathered with peanut butter. If adventure is in your blood, this burger will certainly take you on a trip.burgers

Florida In a place where the sun shines every day, ice cream is part of the everyday diet, so it makes sense that they’d top their burgers with it, right? You can find this fun food at the Florida State Fair, but if you can’t make it to the fair, McGuire’s Irish Pub in Pensacola serves its hot fudge sundae on top ¾ lb of Black Angus beef.


There is no rule on what you can and can’t put on a burger — whether you want a traditional burger or you want to outdo your neighbor at your Memorial Day cookout, there’s nothing that doesn’t go well with an all -beef patty!

Last-Minute Cinco de Mayo Party Food

May snuck up on us and that means we have some Cinco de Mayo party planning to do in a hurry! But don’t worry — you can get it all done with a little help on the food and drinks. Here are a few last-minute Cinco de Mayo party food ideas.chili-con-queso

Two-minute Chili con Queso Cube a 16-ounce brick of processed American cheese. Pour 1-½ cups of your favorite salsa over your cheese cubes. Microwave on high for two minutes. Stir. Microwave for another two minutes. Stir again. Continue these steps until the all the cheese is melted. Serve with corn chips.

guacamole1-2-3 Guacamole Mash two ripe avocados add 1 cup of your favorite salsa. Stir together. Add a squeeze of lemon. Stir some more. Add salt to taste. Serve with tortilla chips.

quesadillasQuick Chicken Quesadillas Cut up a rotisserie chicken into chunks.  Add the chicken to a large skillet with a ½ tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Stir frequently. Add 1 tsp ground cumin and ¼ tsp cayenne pepper. Stir until everything is well combined. Remove from heat. When you’re ready, heat (high heat) a clean skillet with just enough vegetable oil to coat the pan. Lay a tortilla in the skillet. On half of the tortilla, toss a handful of shredded cheddar. Top the cheese with a ¼ cup of the cooked chicken. Fold over the tortilla so the chicken and cheese are covered. Let it heat up for about 30 seconds before flipping it. Let the other side cook for about another 30 seconds. Serve.

beef-tacosBrisk Beef Tacos Over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to a large skillet. Add ½ onion, diced, and stir until the onion is soft and translucent. Add 1 pound ground beef. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon of ground cumin over the beef. Stir and work the beef with a wooden spoon until everything is mixed well and the beef is cooked. Set aside and keep warm until it’s time to serve with taco shells.

Garnishes Chop up a white onion, a bunch of cilantro, slice a few limes, shred some cheddar and lettuce and put them in small serving bowls alongside a bowl of sour cream. The garnishes will make your food fancy and your guests will think your party was planned weeks in advance.

All of the above makes enough food for about eight people, but all of the recipes can easily be doubled or cut in half to make Cinco de Mayo parties of any size spectacular!

Monkey Bread Recipe for Mother’s Day Brunch

Monkey-breadWe are busy putting together the plan for Mother’s Day brunch and we want to show mom just how special she is by making it memorable. We have a few things on the list that we have to have — eggs, fruit and mimosas — but we wanted to do something special for our sweet treat. One of our favorites is monkey bread: little bites of dough wrapped in cinnamon and sugar. These little nuggets are hard to resist — unless she doesn’t have a sweet tooth, your mom’s going to love them! Here’s our monkey bread recipe for Mother’s Day brunch.

This version uses an enriched yeast dough (brioche) with a caramel sauce to make it sweet enough for dessert but not so sweet that it can’t be served for breakfast.  If you’ve never made brioche, this is an excellent introduction to it as it doesn’t have to be perfect to get it right. This is a very forgiving recipe.

For the Dough: For the sugar coating: For the sauce:
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 TB active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup plus 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the bowl
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more if needed
  • ¾  teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 TB cinnamon
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter

Monkey-bread
Dough: Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over low heat until it reaches about 100℉. Remove from the heat. Place it in a mixing bowl fitted to a stand mixer with a dough hook. Sprinkle in the yeast and sugar (don’t stir). Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Whisk together the flour, salt and cardamom. Add to the yeast mixture. Mix on low speed until everything is combined. Add the butter, egg and vanilla. Mix until thick and slightly sticky. Knead on medium speed until the dough gathers around the hook, 6 minutes. If it’s too sticky, you can add up to two more tablespoons of flour.

 Monkey-bread

Remove the dough and shape into a ball. Put the remaining tablespoon of melted butter in a large bowl followed by the ball of dough. Turn the dough in the butter a few times to coat the dough. It should be shiny from the butter.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour 15 minutes.

 In a medium bowl, whisk together the cinnamon and sugar. When the dough is ready, pull off small pieces of dough (1”) and roll them into small balls. Toss them with the cinnamon and sugar to coat them and place them in a cake pan prepared with cooking spray. You can bake them in a tube pan to remain loyal to tradition, but I divided them up into three ramekins for individual servings. Set aside while you make the sauce.

 Monkey-bread

Melt butter and brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until smooth. Pour over dough. Cover in plastic and refrigerate for an hour or overnight if you’re making it in advance (It also freezes well unbaked if you want to save some to bake at a later date).

Preheat oven to 350F. Bake for 11-14 minutes or until the top is browned. Let cool and serve. If you want all of the reward without the work, you can also use crescent roll dough (the kind that come in the cans) from the refrigerator section of the grocery store. No one will know the difference.


Let The Lakeside Collection help you plan your Mother’s Day celebration! We have ideas and products to make your mom’s big day unforgettable.

Monkey-bread5

National Stress Awareness Day: 4 Ways Gardening Relieves Stress

GardeningApril 16 is National Stress Awareness Day — we’re all victims of stress and there are many ways to manage but, since we’re in the middle of spring, we’re looking toward the garden for stress relief. Here are 4 ways gardening relieves stress.

Exercise Gardening isn’t quite like running a marathon, but it’s an activity that gets you moving. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, exercise reduces tension, stabilizes mood, reduces fatigue, as well as improves alertness and concentration. Pruning and weeding makes your garden look nice, but the up and down motions and repetitive actions require your muscles to have a range of movement that gets your blood pumping through your body and brain. If you look at gardening as something you get to do rather than something you have to do, you’ll be on your way to a stress-free summer.

Garden-ScooterQuiet When we think of gardens we think of a quiet place where nature rules. Leaving behind your smartphone to tend to your plants and flowers gives your brain space and peace. It makes sense, but researchers in The Netherlands have facts to back up the claim. They found that spending just 30 minutes a day in the garden doing chores actually reduces the amount of stress hormones your body creates. If you’re feeling stressed, maybe it’s time to take a break from daily stimulus and get in the garden for a few hours a week to relax.

Sunshine Plants need sunshine to survive and working outdoors alongside your precious plants exposes you to the same sunny goodness. While we know that sunshine gives us vitamin D to help strengthen our bones, it also boosts serotonin — the neurotransmitter that helps us feel good. We need bright light that we get from summer sunshine (brighter than anything we can get indoors) to get adequate amounts of vitamin D to improve serotonin levels (which is why we see so many cases of seasonal affective disorder during dark winter months). Working in the garden to spruce it up for as little as ten minutes a day can give you a good amount of sunshine to help with your vitamin D and serotonin production to make you feel relaxed.

gardeningThe Right Plants While some budding shrubs and flowering plants are easy on the eye, some are also easy on the brain. Plants like lavender are known to relieve stress through their scents. Lavender can relieve stress just by being next to it and inhaling its fragrance, but lavender, along with other herbs like chamomile and lemon balm can be used as tea to relieve stress. Whether you’re pruning your lavender or harvesting chamomile for tea, your garden can have the calming effect your brain and body craves.


Daily stress can get in the way of good moods, so if you’re playing with the idea of starting a garden, let stress relief tip the scale in favor of getting it growing! The Lakeside Collection can help you get started — we have ideas and products for a lush garden this spring that will thrive all summer long.

National Pecan Day: Pralines Recipe

 

Pralines-recipe

April 14 is National Pecan Day — we love pecans at The Lakeside Collection and we have a few favorite recipes for these magical nuts. If it were November, we’d be making pecan pie or tartlets, but since it’s spring, we thought a recipe we can whip up quickly would be in order so we can head outside and enjoy the weather we’ve been waiting for. With that in mind, we thought we’d share our American pralines recipe — it’s quick and it originated in New Orleans, so it’s not something that will heat up the kitchen when it’s hot outside!

If you only know pralines (pronounced praw-leans) through the ice cream flavor pralines and cream, you haven’t experienced real pralines. They’re sort of like a very rich cookie (some people describe as fudge-like, but it’s a little more delicate than fudge). Technically, it’s candy, but it’s more of an adult candy than a lollipop or licorice. The original recipe was made with almonds, but because of the abundance of pecans in Louisiana, they were the obvious substitute for almonds. And it was a perfect substitute — the pecan praline has been an iconic confection in the Big Easy for hundreds of years.  Pralines are surprisingly delicious and, just like fudge, they make a nice gift or party favor — which is why you can buy them on just about any corner in the French Quarter. But you can’t get to New Orleans every day, so here’s our recipe for pralines.

Pralines

  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet on medium heat until it’s hot to the touch. Add pecans in one layer on the bottom of the pan. Stir frequently (or toss, if you’re good at that) until the pecans are hot and fragrant — about 2 minutes. Set aside. Over medium-high heat, add the brown sugar, butter, cream, and milk to a sauce pan.

Pralines-recipe

Stir the mixture frequently as the mixture bubbles up. Keep this up until your candy thermometer reads 238℉ — this is the softball stage of heating sugar. Add the pecans and stir vigorously for 30 seconds before turning off the heat. Continue stirring and add the vanilla extract. Continue stirring for four minutes until the mixture just starts getting a little stiff — this part is crucial. It should still be a thick liquid when you spoon the pralines onto your cookie sheet. Set aside to cool.

Pralines-recipe

The result should be a lump of delicious nuts and sugar with a consistency of a very delicate cookie. The timing is difficult to get right and if you don’t, there is nothing you can do to correct it. You may end up with a crumbly mess or caramel clusters — either way, you can use your mistakes to top vanilla ice cream (delicious!). But this recipe is a small batch — it makes about five pralines, so if you don’t get it right the first time, you won’t have mounds and mounds of  caramel to repurpose.

Pralines-recipe

The Lakeside Selection: Our Choice for Mother’s Day Gifts

The countdown to Mother’s Day has begun! You have plenty of time to come up with thoughtful ideas to spend the day and pick out the perfect present to please your mom — if you start now! We have a few ideas of our own to get you inspired. Here’s this week’s The Lakeside Selection: Our Choice for Mother’s Day Gifts.sunflower-bird-house

Gardenista For the mom who loves her garden and all the critters that come with it, she’ll be able to welcome feathered friends with this Sunflower Birdhouse. The metal flower has glorious yellow petals that draw the eye and adorable birds to add a little more life and beauty to her yard. The opening to the birdhouse is in the center, complete with a perch for all her feathered friends.sport-mom-tote

Soccer Mom A soccer mom (or basketball mom or football mom) can never have too much room in her bag for the next big game! She can pack up everything she needs for every sporting event with the Sports Mom Organizing Utility Tote. The spacious, open interior lets you prepare for sporting events, the pool, grandma’s house and more. There are 2 patch pockets on the front for drinks and water bottles, and each of the sides has an elasticized mesh pocket for extra storage. The front has an embroidered design with your sport of choice. Double shoulder straps for easy toting.wooden-baskets

Entertaining Mom Give mom the gift of a little country with a Set of 2 Lined Wood Baskets. The stylish baskets have cutout stars along the front and back, revealing more of the red-checkered fabric lining. Each basket has 2 leather handles for easy carrying from the kitchen to the table. Get these for Mother’s Day and she’ll be all set for her Memorial Day cookout! handprint-wall-art

Sentimental Mom Delight mom with a sentimental gift she’ll cherish through the years! All you need to do is add handprints to this Framed Handprint Wall Art with your own paint. Personalize the potted plant in Mom’s Garden of Love with her kids’ handprints to create a wall hanging that will be admired well after the kids go off to college. The finished art is protected under plastic in its wooden frame. Comes ready to hang.prayer-box-charm-necklaces

Faithful Mom Prayer Box Charm Necklace makes a wonderful gift for a mom of faith. It features a prayer inside the pendant and comes with a prayer card inscribed with the same words that can be carried in a wallet. You can choose from a prayer for a mother or daughter, the Lord’s Prayer, or the Serenity Prayer.

The Lakeside Collection has gifts and ideas for every holiday and season. From trinkets for mom on Mother’s Day to kitchen gadgets to put together a fall party, shop The Lakeside Collection for great products at the best deals.