Tag Archives: Michigan cherries

OKMH – The Summer Picnic Edition

Nothing beats a OKMH mail day. This month, our One Kitchen Many Hearts gang chose ‘Summer Picnics’ for our gifting theme. My box came from Kirsten of Comfortably Domestic from the northern regions of the great state of Michigan. Home of The Cherries (my favorite fruit). Did I mention she brought me a 4 pound bag of dried Michigan cherries when she came to visit in May? Because if there’s one sure way to get me to invite you down for a long weekend of antiquing, Texas Martinis and traditional southern cuisine, it’s to pack a huge bag of cherries in your carry-on (for future reference).

OKMH Collage 2013

Here’s a snap of Kirsten’s picnic extravaganza box:

OKMH June 2013 - Box O' Goodies

For the record, this might just be my favorite theme to date. There’s so much going on in this box. Let’s just break it down into manageable bits, shall we? First, each parcel was lovingly wrapped in cute polka dot tissue and tied with a ribbon and a ‘cherry lug marker’ as a gift tag.

OKMH June 2013 - Polka Dot Packaging

You’re probably thinking “What the heck is a cherry lug?” Welcome to the club. I didn’t know about them, either. Here’s what Kirsten said in her card about them: “The tags are vintage cherry lug markers from Morgan Farms – now the spot of an exciting new subdivision. I thought you’d get a kick out of having a few pieces of (Michigan) history.” She’s right. I love them. Not sure what I’ll do with them just yet, but stringing them onto a charm bracelet has crossed my mind. What would you do with them?

Cherry Chubs

Kirsten knows me well. A perfect example is this Dagoba chocolate bar. While friends send friends chocolate, true friends know what you love and send the good stuff. The dark stuff. As a bonus, this one had organic mint & rosemary essence. It was all that and a bag of chips, as we used to say back in 1993.

OKMH June 2013 - Mint & Dark Chocolate

In case the chocolate didn’t soothe all things, she also threw in a jar of Ancient Healer Herbal Salve. Oh, baby… you should smell this magical potion!

OKMH June 2013 - Ancient Healer Salve

It smells of all the great herby things – rosemary, evergreen trees, and earth. I love a good herbal salve. It’s my ‘go to’ ointment for burns, rashes or scrapes but is also perfect to soothe those summer sunburns. It’s lovely and perfect and made in Michigan. Know what else is soothing and made in Michigan? Wine!

OKMH June 2013 - Michigan Wine from Brys

This beauty came in a separate box, shipped directly from the Brys Estate in Michigan (seeing a theme here?). It’s one of my all-time favorite whites – a . Ever tried one? If you enjoy a nice chilled white wine for summer, you need to try one. But you’ll have to get your own – this Brys Gewürztraminer in mine. All mine! (You can’t hear it, but I’m doing my evil laugh while hugging the bottle.) Kirsten also included two ‘travel size’ bottles of Jose Cuervo margaritas – the perfectly portable picnic potion.

This cute post-it pad sums up how I feel about my morning coffee. As I said, girlfriend knows me well. She’s my sister from another mister. My pal from another gal. My… okay, I think you get what I’m saying. She gets me.

OKMH June 2013 - Coffee Post-Its

She also has the memory of an elephant. I wish I had her brain cells for even a day. Menopause has officially robbed me of most of mine, but Kirsten remembers all the good stuff. Like this vintage find from an antique shop. We saw one while antiquing when she was down in May. Next thing you know, there’s one in my June box. Do you know what it is?

OKMH June 2013 - Antique Cake Comb

Ultimate meat fork? No. Beard comb? No, and I’ll thank you not to mention my beard. :) It’s a cake comb! It’s used to slice delicate cakes like angel food or chiffon cakes. Even more effective than today’s serrated knives, these cake combs are the unicorns of baking utensils. This one will be perfect for my Berry Week contribution next month, so stay tuned. It will be making a return appearance in a few short weeks. (Thanks, K! Perfect timing!)

And a picnic isn’t a picnic unless it’s portable. Kirsten had that covered, as well. Check out these beauties! The first is a thermal insulated chill bag in a cute owl print. Who has two thumbs and loves owls? This girl! You pop the bag in the fridge or freezer to pre-chill, then pack and go. The second is a stainless steel thermal beverage bottle. In my favorite color, no less. It goes without saying that I love them both and will put them to good use this summer.

OKMH June 2013 - Portable Containers

And there you have it – a perfect summer picnic box from my blogging bestie Kirsten. Nailed it! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a potato salad to make and a chilled wine to chug. I mean sip. Yeah, I totally meant sip.

To see what I sent to Megan, CLICK HERE.

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Dark Chocolate Cherry Pecan Cookies

Dark Chocolate, Dried Cherries & Toasted Pecans – all in one cookie!

Years ago, during a visit to Seattle, I fell in love with Chukar Cherries. More specifically, I fell in love with their dried cherries. So much so, I may have been gently escorted away from the free sample basket at the Pike Place Market.

Since then, I have tried to incorporate more dried cherries into my life, especially (it seems) when paired with dark chocolate. I made these cherry chocolate chip scones back in 2010. They were really tasty.

But the tide took a turn last year when my friend Kirsten sent me a box of Michigan cherries. Dried cherries. That’s when I took a step back and said, “Hold on. Michigan grows cherries, too?” That’s when Kirsten confirmed that yes, Michigan does indeed grow cherries. Really spectacular, gorgeous tart red cherries. And I fell in love all over again.

My first box of Michigan cherries – from The Cherry Republic

Last month, as part of our One Kitchen Many Hearts box exchange, Kirsten struck again by including another bag of dried cherries from Shoreline Fruits. They’re from her neck of the woods. Have mercy! They are world class – with a perfect balance of tart and sweet, dried yet plump. Now I’m not trying to start a war between the states, but I think Michigan cherries may just edge out Washington state cherries. Granted, it has been a few years since I’ve had a Washington dried cherry, and if the fine folks at Chukar want to send me a box just to settle this once and for all, I’m open to a side-by-side tasting. Until then, here’s my latest ode to the dried cherry. Paired with chocolate; as it should be.

NanaBread’s Dark Chocolate Cherry Pecan Cookies:
(makes approximately 36 cookies)

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup good quality cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup extra-dark chocolate chips (I prefer Guittard)
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1 cup dried cherries, chopped

Pre-heat your oven to 350F. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Using a mixer, beat the butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and almond extracts until fluffy. Gradually add the flour mixture, beating until well combined. Reducing the mixer to low speed, blend in the chocolate chips, toasted pecans and dried cherries. If you’re using a hand mixer, you may want to stir them in by hand, as the dough will be thick.

Oh, that dough… this would be great as brownies, too.

I like to bake cookies on those silicone baking mats, but if you don’t have them, line your baking sheet with parchment paper. I also like to use a medium-size ice cream scoop to shape my cookies. I absolutely love how perfectly uniform they turn out with a scoop. Don’t worry; you can also use a spoon. Drop golfball-size dough balls onto prepared sheets, approximately 3″ apart.

The key to perfectly uniform cookies – an ice cream scoop.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, depending how ‘done’ you like them. For soft chewy cookies, bake closer to 10 minutes. For cookies that are soft in the center and crispy around the edges, bake closer to the 12 minute mark. Remove from the oven, allow to cool on the pan for 10-15 minutes, then remove to parchment or waxed paper to finish cooling.

From there, you’re just a cold glass of milk away from a perfect cherry-laden fudge bliss cookie coma.

Do you have a favorite dried fruit you cook with? Coconut, blueberries, pineapple, figs, prunes or something tropical? I’d love to hear what inspires you. Feel free to include links to recipes in your comments. I’m always looking for something new to try or Pin. Please do share!

Recipe adapted from: http://zestycook.com/a-taste-of-heaven-double-dark-chocolate-cookies/

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One Kitchen, Many Hearts – June

I love our blogger boxes. There’s no other way to say it. It’s like Christmas morning, every other month. For June OKMH Boxes, I received a carton of love from the 45th parallel from Kirsten of Comfortably Domestic. We’ve never met, but we are twins separated at birth (never mind the pesky age difference). She is my sister from another mister. My doppelgänger. And because of that, her box was an exercise in perfection. It started with this card.

This is us in 30 years, and my vote goes to “buck naked”


Fuel for my soul, that’s what this box is.

The first goodie out of the box was this can of chipotle peppers (which we love), a jar of lemons preserved in salt (which I have never in my life tried), and a recipe for BBQ sauce that combines the two. Kirsten nailed this one. I love lemons, we both love barbecue, and TCP loves to grill. I can’t wait to try this recipe and those gorgeous salt-preserved lemons.

Smokey, zingy, tasty goodness – all in one recipe. Very cool.

Next up, a little something for the girly girl in me. Hello summer!

Lips & nails – throw in some mascara & it’s a girly emergency kit.

Then my heart stopped beating when I found these…

Dried cherries from the Upper Peninsula region of the 45th parallel.

If you’re thinking “big deal… dried cherries” then I question how we can be friends (except for my dear friend Kaki – she gets a cherry pass). Seriously, as a cherry lover there are few things as glorious as a gift of Michigan cherries. Canned, fresh or dried – I’ll take them any way I can get them. I’m not exaggerating when I say that a little tear of joy came to my eye when I pulled these out of the box. They are the perfect blend of tart & sweet, dried & plump. I covet these the way some girls covet diamonds. Have mercy, they’re delicious.

This next little gadget blew my mind.

The Cuppow – it turns any wide-mouth canning jar into a travel mug.

As a lover of canning jars AND my morning coffee, my jaw dropped when I saw this. The Cuppow fits onto any wide-mouth canning jar, which I just happen to have a love affair with. In the list of things I hoard, canning jars rank near the top. When I saw this, I did the head slap/why didn’t I think of this thing. It’s so simple it’s brilliant. And Kirsten kicked it up another notch by including my first ‘to go’ beverage AND a handmade travel jar koozie. Seriously. She raises 4 boys, homeschools them all, runs a household, trains a dog and bakes every single day. And she still found time to knit a cover for my travel jar. UH.MAZE.ING.

This simple rigid plastic lid will change you life.

Knowing my love of canning jars, Kirsten capped my June box with yet another of my obsessions – buttons. Or in this case, buttons in an antique canning jar she found in an antique shop. My mother and I went through these like kids in a candy shop, ‘ooooing’ and ‘ahhhhing’ over each new find. We laughed our butts off when we found a small denture charm in the jar. It looks ancient, it’s a little disturbing, and it’s absolutely hysterical. I loved them all. Here’s a collage tribute to our button fun because every crafty girl loves buttons.

Antique buttons in an antique jar; she just gets me

Saying that I enjoyed this month’s box would be a gross understatement. I loved it all. Kirsten’s picks could not have been more perfect. Seriously, these boxes are too much fun. I have a feeling we’re going to need to expand this next year to include more friends. Because everyone loves friends and presents.

To see what the other girls in our group got, drop in on:
Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic (who received a box from me)
Megan of Wanna Be A Country Cleaver
Kat of Tenaciously Yours
Madelyn of La Petite Pancake
Allison of Decadent Philistines Save the World

OKMH Bloggers (top) – Mads, Kirsten & Megan; (bottom) Jeanne, Allison & Kat

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Tart Cherry Dark Chocolate Bark


Remember this box of cherry goodness I got from my friend Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic? She held a giveaway to highlight local Michigan cherries from one of her favorite companies, The Cherry Republic. I thank my lucky stars every day that her brilliant son pulled my name from that hat. It has truly been a gift that keeps on giving. I started on the bag of dark chocolate-covered cherries first, since I could not resist them. Oy vey! They were spectacular. So much so, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them.

Next up? The bag of mixed nuts and dried cherries. The nuts were raw, and I like mine roasted, so I simply separated out the cherries, threw the nuts into a dry skillet, and toasted them until they smelled heavenly. Once they cooled, I mixed the cherries back in and stored them in a jar to keep them fresh. These are great for snacks or as an oatmeal topper. But I still couldn’t stop thinking about dark chocolate-covered cherries. So what does a girl do when she has a jar full of toasted nuts and dried cherries, but chocolate on the brain? That’s right, you clever little minxes. She smothers them in dark chocolate. So, without further ado… I give you Tart Cherry Chocolate Bark. Shazam!

What you’ll need:
One bag of good quality dark chocolate chips (I love Guittard)
Two cups of dried cherries & mixed roasted nuts

Start by lining an 8″ square pan with parchment paper. It’s easiest if you cut two strips and lay them in opposite directions. Did you know that cellophane tape will not stick to parchment paper? Neither did I. Lesson learned.

Using a double boiler or a metal or glass mixing bowl over a pan of boiling water, melt your chocolate then whisk until smooth. Be careful not to burn yourself, either on the hot mixing bowl or the steam. Once your chocolate is creamy and smooth, remove the bowl and set it on a kitchen towel. Next up, grab your cherry and nut mix. The Cherry Republic version is awesome. Notice those gorgeous tart cherries and those giant nut halves? No little bits or pieces here.

Add your cherry & nut mix to the melted chocolate and stir until well combined. Pour it into your prepared pan and flatten it with a spatula until it’s about 3/4″ thick. Put it into the refrigerator to set up for about an hour.

Once it’s set, remove it from the pan and cut it into squares with a sharp kitchen knife. Store in an airtight container. I like to keep mine in the refrigerator since it’s so dang hot in Houston. And that’s it! The only thing left to accomplish is a little self-restraint. Can’t help you there, but I wish you luck! Lots of luck.

Stay tuned. The last item from the gift box is a jar of cherry chipotle salsa, and there’s no telling what’s going to happen with that! Thanks again, Kirsten. Your taste in cherries is impeccable.

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A Box of Love from the Cherry Republic

Cherry goodness from Comfortably Domestic Blog and http://www.cherryrepublic.com

Michigan is the Cherry Republic. I hate to admit it, but I didn’t know cherries were grown in Michigan. Don’t boo and hiss, Michiganders (Michiganians?). I’m deeply rooted in southern Texas. We grow tropical fruits and pecans down here. That’s puh-CAHNS. I love cherries, I just wasn’t really aware of where they’re grown. I once saw a cherry tree in northern Montana, and I was awe-struck. But then my blogging friend Kirsten over at Comfortably Domestic mentioned Michigan cherries and I was intrigued. When she held a giveaway contest featuring a box of goodies from The Cherry Republic, I took my chances and entered. When I actually won and received a box of organic cherry chipotle salsa, a bag of dried cherries with mixed nuts, and a bag of dark chocolate covered dried cherries, my mind was totally blown. Not only am I now aware of Michigan’s glorious cherries, but I am a fan. A big fan. Huge. Fan. These are by far the best chocolate covered cherries I’ve ever eaten, and you guys know how I love dark chocolate. I can’t stop eating them, and I can’t thank Kirsten and the good folks at Cherry Republic enough for this fabulous gift box, but I can share their websites and encourage you to visit. I’m not sure about Mother’s Day shipping, but you can certainly check it out. What mom wouldn’t love a gift of Michigan cherries? And then there’s Memorial Day. And the Fourth of July. And Labor Day. And Halloween. Or Thanksgiving. Cherries at Christmas would be divine. Are cherries considered “lucky” on New Year’s? Don’t forget birthdays! I’m pretty sure the gift for a 29th wedding anniversary is Michigan cherries. Honey? Did you hear me?

You can buy fabulous cherry products at: http://www.cherryrepublic.com/

You can visit the lovely Kirsten’s blog at: http://comfortablydomestic.com/

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