Archive | July, 2010

Blueberries galore! Two for one!

30 Jul

First things first: I updated my pages with different photos and newer information and even added an extra one, so go check it out! Also, my formatting is all screwed up for this post and I don’t know how to fix it! Anyone know how to fix it?

A few days ago, my mother-in-law purchased a rather large pack of fresh blueberries and didn’t know what to do with them. She asked me if I’d like some and I happily took them off her hands! What did I make with them? Of course a bazillion batches of my favorite blueberry muffins and then two blueberry lemon streusel cakes. And I still have some blueberries left! Into the freezer for them.

The muffin recipe is adapted from Ina Garten’s Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins. When I first tried this recipe, I fell in love because never before have I tasted such delicate and moist muffins. Like, they were unbelievably moist and tender. Then after a while, I started adding in lemon zest and juice to the batter and then sprinkled on a sugary topping before baking. Lo and behold the delicious blueberry muffins got better. So, that’s how I make them now and they are a favorite at my house. As a matter of fact, the first batch I made for some of my nieces and nephews was gone within 24 hours. Thats over 24 muffins devoured by four kids and two adults. They have been converted and asked for the recipe.

The Blueberry Lemon Streusel Cakes is another adaption, this time from the Pioneer Woman. Just a few days ago she posted a recipe for Blueberry Crumb Cake and I thought “It’s a sign! Something else to make to get rid of all these blueberries!” This recipe is delicious just on it’s own, but I just had to make a few changes and add in the lemon. I don’t know why I have this uncontrollable urge to add lemon into blueberry recipes I just do! It’s really a match made in heaven, lemon and blueberries. Similar to peas and carrots. Or rice and beans. Or Lauren and Gordon! (Haha! Precious.)

Anyways, I added in the lemon as well as made a streusel topping instead of just a ‘crumb’ topping. AND, just to be fancy, I topped the cake with the blueberries instead of mixing them into the batter and then baked them in two round cake pans. Well, one cake pan and one pie plate to be exact. But, they turned out beautifully and most importantly delicious.
So, if you happen to run into some blueberries, snatch them up and make some of these yummy treats! They are sure to please!

Blueberry Lemon Coffee Cake Muffins

adapted slightly from Ina Garten’s Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffinsyield: 18 muffins (I got about 24)
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 ounces (about 1 cup) sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 half-pints fresh blueberries, picked through for stems
for the topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 lemon, zested


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place paper liners in muffin pans.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, sour cream, and milk. Stir in lemon zest and lemon juice. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed add the flour mixture to the batter and beat until just mixed. Fold in the blueberries with a spatula and be sure the batter is completely mixed.
Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling each cup 3/4 way full. Sprinkle the topping over the batter and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the muffins are lightly browned on top and a cake tester comes out clean.

Blueberry Lemon Streusel Cake
adapted from Ree Drummond’s Blueberry Crumb Cake
yield: 1-9×13 cake or 2-9 inch round cakes

5 tablespoons butter
¾ cups granulated sugar
½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2-¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoons salt
¾ cups whole milk
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 cups fresh blueberries

for the topping:
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup oats
zest of 1/2 lemon
dash cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (I used 325 because the original recipe didn’t have a temperature listed until recently. Both will work!) Combine flour, baking powder, and a salt. Stir and set aside.

Cream butter with cinnamon and sugar. Add egg and mix until combined. Add vanilla and mix. Add flour mixture and milk alternately until totally incorporated. Do not overbeat.

Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. (I used 2-9 inch rounds) Pour in batter and smooth the top. Sprinkle fresh blueberries over the top of the cake.

In a separate bowl, combine topping ingredients. Sprinkle over the top of the cake.

Bake cake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown. (Mine was done after 45 at 325 degrees in my oven). Sprinkle powdered sugar over the top, if desired. Cut into slices and serve.


Shortcut Pierogies

28 Jul
Have you ever had a pierogi before? My Mom would rarely buy them and make them, but when she did–boy oh boy were we in for a treat! Now, I’m not Polish or Ukrainian so I don’t know how to make these correctly. So I purposely made them incorrectly! That’s right! You heard me. This is the untraditional pierogi recipe that takes half the time to make (or less!) than regular traditional ones. This is my kind of cooking. If you are a hardcore Polish or Ukrainian traditionalist, then you may want to avert your eyes and not read any further. 
Now, pierogies are like little dumplings or pillows that are filled with mashed potato, cheese and onion that you boil in water and then fry in bacon grease and onion. At least, thats how my Mom did it. So, that’s how I do it too and these are to die for! Of course it’s a little labor intensive but I took a shortcut by using store bought wonton wrappers. A wonderful time saver! 
If you have an hour or so, then you can whip out a bunch of these! Once you fill the wonton skins, you can freeze them on a baking sheet and then transfer them to some freezer bags and portion them out accordingly. I got a lot of pierogies made during my daughter’s nap one day! And, they make for a quick dinner when you’re in a pinch. Once you start boiling the pierogies, they only take about 3 minutes to cook and then its a matter of browning them up in a frying pan with some bacon and onions. I like mine with lots of cold sour cream and a side salad. I had dinner done within 20 minutes! And, we all loved them! Gordon has never tried or had even heard of a pierogi before, but after we finished dinner, he cooked up some more for a second helping! Love at first bite! 
So if you are like Gordon and have never heard of these little devils before or you have any want to try to make your own untraditional kind, then give these ones a whirl! The flavors are out of this world!
Shortcut Pierogies
yield: about 36
1-12 oz. package round wonton skins (you won’t use the whole thing unless you’re feeling ambitious)
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
2 large Idaho potatoes
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
a few splashes whole milk
for frying about 12 pierogies, I would use
4 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 small onion, diced
for garnish:
cheddar cheese
green onions
sour cream
Scrub potatoes clean under cold water and prick deeply with a fork or knife. Microwave potatoes until completely soft (about 9 minutes for me). You could also bake them in your oven or use some left over baked potatoes. 

Cut cooked potatoes in half and scoop out the insides into a large bowl. Mash potato with butter, sour cream, salt and pepper. Stir in milk to get a smooth consistency. Stir in cheese. Set aside. **You could also use left over mashed potatoes! Just be sure to stir in the cheese and more milk or cream to get a smooth consistency**
In small bowl, whisk egg with water. To assemble pierogies, take one wonton wrapper and brush the edges with the egg. Place 2-3 teaspoons worth of potato filling into the center. Fold wrapper in half to create a half moon shape and press edges together keeping the potato filling inside and removing any excess air. Repeat this process until no more filling remains. Depending on how much or little you fill your pierogies, you could end up with more or less than my 36 I got. 
Place pierogies on baking sheet in a single layer. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until solid, about 2 hours. Transfer to freezer bags until ready to cook.
To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, start rendering the chopped bacon. After about 3 minutes of cooking the bacon, add in chopped onion. Once water has come to boil, drop in pierogies and stir. After 2-3 minutes, pierogies should be finished cooking and should float to the top. Using a slotted spoon, drain pierogies and drop into skillet with bacon and onions. Fry pierogies until golden brown on either side or until cooked to your liking. Bacon and onions should be completely finished cooking by this point. Serve warm with sour cream, more cheddar cheese and/or chopped green onions.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Brownie Ice Cream Cake

26 Jul
Hello Friends! We’ve had a busy last few days because lots of family were in town AND we were celebrating Gordon’s birthday! So, of course I had to make him a cake! After hounding him for a week trying to figure out what to make him, I just gave him options and this is what he chose, except with very specific specifications. He loves Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups but not frozen! How do you make an ice cream cake without freezing it? That made it a little challenging, but we came to a compromise and here’s what we got: no Reese’s in the actual cake, just on the cake as decoration. So, that’s that! And believe it or not this ice cream cake actually tasted just like a huge frozen Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup without having any of the candy on the inside! 

It was so delicious and got rave reviews from every single person who had a piece. That’s almost 20 people! You will want to have a party and share this cake because it is so huge and decadent. It looks impressive and everyone will think you bought it from a store! A few of my nieces actually asked me what store I got it from! When I told them I made it from scratch, they just responded with a “WHOA!” (Haha!)
And, even though this cake takes a while to make, all the steps are very simple and I use a lot of short cuts, like using a store bought brownie mix. Ice cream cake shouldn’t be the least bit intimidating to you to make and you can customize the ice cream flavors to your liking. Super simple dessert that everyone will love! Its a win win situation! So, if you have a birthday coming up or even another kind of celebration, give this ice cream cake a whirl! You’ll be glad you did!
Reese’s Peanut Butter Brownie Ice Cream Cake
yield: 16 slices, at least!
1 family sized box brownie mix (18.3 oz.)
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

2 – 1.5 quarts vanilla ice cream
1 1/4 cups smooth peanut butter
1 12 oz. package mini Reese’s peanut butter cups, wrappings removed
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
cocoa for garnish

Part I- Make brownie batter according to packaged directions. Pour into greased 10 inch spring form pan. Melt peanut butter in microwave for 30 seconds or so. Drop by the spoonful onto brownie batter. Using a butter knife, swirl peanut butter into brownie batter. Bake at 325 degrees for 45-55 minutes. Let cool completely.

Part II- Scoop vanilla ice cream into large bowl and break apart as best as possible. Microwave ice cream for 30 second intervals, stirring until ice cream is easier to stir and is smooth. Microwave peanut butter for 30 seconds to melt slightly. Stir peanut butter into ice cream until incorporated. Pour over top  of cooled brownie and smooth the top. It should be filled completely to the top of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until solid, at least 2 hours.

Part III- Whip cream with sugar and vanilla until firm peaks form. Chop up mini Reese’s peanut butter cups into smaller pieces being sure to reserve 5 whole peanut butter cups for the top. Remove ice cream cake from freezer. Run a long skinny knife along edges of cake to loosen and then unlatch and remove sides of springform pan. Frost cake with whipped cream, reserving 1/2 cup. Press chopped Reese’s into the sides of the cake. Pipe 5 rosettes onto top of cake with reserved whipped cream. Sprinkle cocoa over top the entire cake. Place 5 whole mini Reese’s into rosettes. Store in freezer until ready to serve.

To serve, remove cake from freezer 5-10 minutes before serving. Dip your large knife into a cup of very hot water to help cut through the cake easier. The first piece will be tough to remove, but after that, it should get much easier.

Turkey Meatball & Mozzarella Sandwiches

21 Jul
Do I have a great dinner for your families tonight! This is a quick and easy meal that could probably be on your table under 30 minutes! (It was for me a few nights ago.) It was kind of a default dinner because I was missing a few ingredients for what I had originally scheduled….oops! It happens to the best of us. Anyways, I got creative and picked a few things from my garden. Then I defrosted the ground turkey I had, mixed in a few things and that was it! Even though it stresses me out to realize I’m missing an ingredient or two 30 minutes before Gordon gets home from work, it’s at these times that I create some of the tastiest meals! 
**Side note: Let me just take a minute to say that I LOVE my garden–especially the herbs! It is SO much cheaper than buying them from the store. When I originally was purchasing my plants, all the organic ones ended up being cheaper than the non-organic ones! Bonus! Plus, because it’s a garden the herbs keep rejuvenating themselves! Duh! Of course they keep growing! Come fall, I’ll be moving them inside so I can have fresh herbs through winter too. So, moral of the story: growing your own herb garden will save you money and will make all your food taste fresher and therefore more delicious! I am a garden advocate. Ok. The end.**
For this recipe I used fresh basil and parsley as well as a few green onions straight from my garden. Just rinse and chop! Regular yellow or white onions and dried herbs would be fine as well, just don’t use as much! They should be just as moist and delicious. I also baked up some frozen dinner rolls and jazzed them up with some melted butter and garlic salt. Fresh garlic rolls out of the oven is heaven! Plus it makes your house smell great! Those frozen dinner rolls are a life saver sometimes! 
Anyways, these Italian sandwiches are delicious and we all cleaned our plates! It is a meal that will please your entire family and should keep you happy because you’ll only have to spend about 15 minutes at your stove. Also, don’t feel you need to be limited to these sandwiches. Heat up some marinara and have spaghetti & turkey meatballs! They would be delicious as an appetizer too, but I would limit the cheese because things tend to get stringy once the mozzarella is melted. So, enjoy this healthy and fast dinner! Your kids are sure to love it!

Turkey Meatball & Mozzarella Sandwiches
yield: 15-20 meatballs, enough to feed 4
2 tablespoons milk
1 slice bread
1/2 lb. ground turkey
1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely minced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely minced
2 green onions, chopped (use all the white and most of the green part)
1 clove garlic, finely minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
2 cups prepared good quality marinara
8-10 frozen dinner rolls, defrosted
1 tablespoon melted butter
garlic salt
Break apart slice of bread into small pieces into a large bowl. Pour milk over bread and let soak 1-2 minutes. Stir to break bread apart more. Stir in turkey, basil, parsley, onion, salt, pepper and garlic until well combined. Form mixture into 15-20 small meatballs (I use a cookie scoop). Preheat large skillet to medium-medium high heat. Pour in olive oil. Fry meatballs 3-4 minutes per side until deep brown. Reduce heat and pour marinara over meatballs. Stir to coat. At this point, the meatballs probably are not cooked thoroughly. So, be sure to simmer covered at least 10 minutes before serving to ensure doneness. (You can simmer this longer until you are ready to serve–just be sure to add splashes of water here and there to keep the sauce at a consistency you like) Two minutes before serving, top meatballs with grated cheese and cover to melt. 
For the rolls, before baking, brush with melted butter and sprinkle garlic salt over the tops. Bake according to packaged directions. Brush hot rolls with any remaining butter.
To serve, cut rolls in half and fill with 2-3 mozzarella covered meatballs. 

Citrus Cream Cheese Pull-Apart Rolls

20 Jul
Today’s recipe comes to us from the wonderful Barbara from I emailed her a few weeks back about doing a recipe swap because I love trying new recipes and blogging about them! After she agreed to do it with me, the search was on. I browsed her site for at least two hours trying to find the perfect recipe! Well, jokes on me because they are all awesome! After narrowing it down and getting Barbara’s input, I decided to make her Citrus Cream Cheese Pull-Apart Rolls. 
These little devils are so tasty it’s ridiculous! After tasting these, I totally understood why these turned into a tradition over at Barbara’s house! These pull-aparts are just the right amount of chewy, sweet and tang. I love a good sweet bread, but you probably already knew that. I also love baking with citrus because it makes the whole kitchen smell clean and fresh! If you take a look at the ingredients list, it’s really just a lot of easy to find plain jane things. But then you put them all together and magic happens. And then you continue to eat the entire pan two or three more!

Here’s an interesting/out of place/random/get to know Lo fact: I prefer citrus and/or vanilla over anything chocolate (much to my husband’s dismay). I still really like chocolate, but just not as much as lemon or orange… these rolls!

(Image courtesy of Barbara Bakes. Don’t these look so much better than mine? Barbara is a pro!)

Anyways, the process of making these is really REALLY simple. Most of the work is done for you if you use the frozen dinner rolls! Honestly, the hard part is waiting, but you’ll probably see what I mean. A few things you shouldn’t do would be to over bake these puppies. I kind of did, but they still turned out great. Also, I got sleepy and let my rolls rise too much which sort of threw the texture off slightly. But, even with these slight mishaps, they turned out beautifully! I brought them to a family dinner Sunday evening, meant to be eaten for dessert. Well my family couldn’t resist, and they ended up becoming the appetizers and the pan was devoured in 4 minutes flat! (And they ALL loved them! All 9 of them!)

So, thanks again Barbara for allowing me to share one of your delicious recipes! Your rolls are delicious and I love your site! Go check out her recipes and her post today where she tested my favorite sandwich! You’ll be glad you did! Happy eating, friends!

Citrus Cream Cheese Pull Apart Rolls 
From: Cooking Light Magazine, December 1999 via Barbara Bakes
Yield: 4 dozen 

1 package frozen roll dough — (25-ounce)
(I usually use 18 Rhodes rolls) 
Cooking spray
1/4 cup butter or margarine — melted
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries — (such as Craisins)
OR 1/2 cup dried apricots — chopped
1 cup granulated sugar — divided
2/3 cup 1/3-less-fat cream cheese — (6 ounces) softened (I usually just use 8 ounces) 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 large egg
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
1 cup powdered sugar
5 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Thaw roll dough at room temperature 30 minutes. (It usually takes much longer for them to be soft enough to cut.)
Cut rolls in half. Place 24 halves, cut sides down, in bottom of each of 2 (9-inch) round cake pans coated with cooking spray. Brush butter evenly over rolls. Cover; let rise in a warm place (85º), free from drafts, 30 minutes. Sprinkle with dried cranberries. Combine 1/4 cup granulated sugar, cream cheese, orange juice, and egg; beat at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended. Pour cream cheese mixture evenly over rolls. Combine 3/4 cup granulated sugar, and rinds. Sprinkle evenly over rolls. Cover and let rise 1 hour or until doubled in size. (It usually takes much longer to double in size.) 
Preheat oven to 350º.Bake at 350º for 20 minutes. Cover with foil. Bake an additional 5 mintues or until rolls in center are done. Remove from oven; cool 15 minutes. Combine powdered sugar and lemon juice. Drizzle over rolls.

OVERNIGHT VARIATION: After pouring the cream cheese mixture over rolls, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 12 hours. Gently remove plastic wrap from rolls; sprinkle with rind mixture. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes or until dough has doubled in size. (It usually takes much longer to double in size.)Proceed with recipe as directed.

Per serving (two rolls): 174 Calories—->can you believe that? Amazing! 

What to do with Fresh Raspberries (Part II)

19 Jul
(photo courtesy of Savory My photos aren’t available to me at the moment)
Make some Raspberry Chipotle BBQ sauce! 

Thats right. You heard me. Raspberry and Chipotle mixed together to create magic in your mouth. I know it sounds a little strange but the spicy and smokey tasting chipotles work really well with the sweet raspberries to come together to make a terrific sauce. AND, its really quite simple to throw together too.

The first time I made this stuff, it was WAY too hot for me…..and my husband…..and my in-laws. Funny that I tested that recipe on them, not thinking it would be as hot as it was. Oops. But I made it again with success. Just the right amount of heat and sweet. I have totally fallen in love with this stuff. I love it on burgers, I love it with chicken and today, we were dipping grilled cheese sandwiches in it too!

Of course you can increase or decrease the heat level with the amount of chipotles you add. This recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of chipotles in adobo that are chopped. For me, that’s the perfect amount. Taste it and add more to your discretion and if you dare! Chipotles are spicy little devils.

Again, this sauce is delicious with anything and everything! Give it a whirl and tell me what you think!

*As a side note, I will be posting a special blog post with a new recipe tomorrow, so be sure to come back and see!*

Raspberry Chipotle BBQ sauce
yield: about 3/4 cup of sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chipotles in adobo, chopped
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt

In large skillet over medium heat sauté onions in oil until they start turning translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook another minute. Stir in remaining ingredients and lightly simmer for another 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and strain sauce to remove seeds and chopped onions. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

What to do with Fresh Raspberries (Part I)

16 Jul

It’s almost the weekend. Hallelujah! Do you all have plans? I plan on relaxing and finally getting rid of this slight cold I’ve had for the past three days.

So, first of all, let me explain this post. On Wednesday evening, my cute little family went to go pick some raspberries at my in-laws. I got a little ambitious and we came home with two big bowls full. Then, the next day, some sweet ladies from my church came by for a visit and brought me more raspberries! If you know anything about super sweet super fresh just picked raspberries, you know that they are best when eaten right away. I love fresh raspberries so I had to think of what I could do with all of them….and fast. So, this marks the beginning of my ‘what to do with fresh raspberries’ series. We’ll see how many raspberry recipes I can pop out.

First up: Raspberry Cobbler Pie. Since I had a pie crust left over from my previous post, I thought it only fitting that I make a pie. I usually hate baked fruit, so I thought I would broaden my horizons and give this pie a whirl. Growing up, my parents or grandparents had never made raspberry pie before, so I thought it was a pretty uncommon thing to make because it may not be the most favorite kind of pie. Well, after you make this, you may end up changing your mind. I was surprised at how delicious and flavorful it was! If you don’t mind a few seeds, then this pie is for you. The buttery crust worked well with the berries and the topping added a nice little touch because of the cinnamon. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to use cinnamon because I thought it might be weird/gross but I did and it was fabulous!

This pie is pretty easy to make too. The filling is just fresh berries mixed with a few ingredients and the topping is just a matter of measuring and crumbling. Simple! I’d say the hardest part is waiting for the pie to cool completely. I guess technically you don’t have to, but if you want it to keep it’s shape then you will. Also, make sure you have ice cream or fresh whipped cream–it only makes it better! Yum.

Raspberry Cobbler Pie
Yield-1-9 inch pie, or 8-10 servings

1-9 inch pie shell, unbaked

for the filling-
5 cups fresh raspberries
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar (more or less-depending how sweet your fruit is)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
dash of salt

for the topping-
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of salt
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed

whipped cream
vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pour all ingredients for the pie filling into a large bowl. Gently stir to coat raspberries in flour and sugar mixture without breaking them as best as you can. Pour into unbaked pie shell and even out the top.
Combine all ingredients for the topping together. Using a pastry cutter, a fork or your fingers, mix butter into flour mixture and break it into small pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle evenly over raspberries. Place pie into preheated oven on middle rack with a baking sheet placed below to catch any drips. Bake for 30 minutes then reduce the heat to 325 and bake another 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.