Thursday, June 23, 2011

Campfire Casserole

I made this for lunch today. Dad said that this would be a great dish for a 4th of July dinner. It has a great barbecue flavor--not overwhelming, but festive and balanced. Alyssa and Valerie were able to enjoy the lunch with us and they loved it, too! We served it with cornbread and honey butter for a perfect summer meal. This would be great to make in a Dutch Oven as well!

Campfire Casserole

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 cup honey barbecue sauce
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 pound ground beef, cooked and drained
1/2 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 pound fully cooked bratwurst, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 can (16 oz.) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (16 oz.) pork and beans
1 can (15 1/4 oz.) lima beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz.) chili beans

In a large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients; mix well. Add cooked beef, bacon, and bratwurst. Stir in the beans. Pour into a greased 2-qt. baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until heated through.

Yield: 10-12 servings.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa

Black-Bean and Tomato Quinoa

This is my first attempt at using a new ingredient to me--quinoa.  This would be good with a Mexican-themed meal.  The recipe is credited to

2 teaspoons grated lime zest
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup quinoa
1 (14- to 15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 medium tomatoes, diced
4 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Whisk together lime zest and juice, butter, oil, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.

Wash quinoa in 3 changes of cold water in a bowl, draining in a sieve each time.

Cook quinoa in a medium pot of boiling salted water (1 tablespoon salt for 2 quarts water), uncovered, until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Drain in sieve, then set sieve in same pot with 1 inch of simmering water (water should not touch bottom of sieve). Cover quinoa with a folded kitchen towel, then cover sieve with a lid (don't worry if lid doesn't fit tightly) and steam over medium heat until tender, fluffy, and dry, about 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat and remove lid. Let stand, still covered with towel, 5 minutes.

Add quinoa to dressing and toss until dressing is absorbed, then stir in remaining ingredients and salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chickpeas and Spinach

This is a very quick to make side dish that is unique and delicious. We actually ended up doubling the recipe and serving it as a main dish with naan. Instead of frozen spinach, I used some of the delicious fresh spinach from Mom's and Dad's garden. Alyssa was so excited when Mom and Dad gave us more spinach so that we could make this dish again!

Chickpeas and Spinach


3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup canned chopped tomatoes
3 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
One 15.5-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
1 teaspoon salt
One 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach

(Shopping Tip: Pick up garam masala, a traditional Indian spice blend, in the spice aisle.)


In a wok or large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until the edges are browned, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, coriander, cumin, garam masala and turmeric. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes more.

Stir in the chickpeas, add the salt and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add the spinach and cook about 5 minutes more.

Recipe Source: Every Day with Rachael Ray

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Easy Vanilla Ice Cream

Kaysen made this treat for his dad for Father's Day.  It's easy, delicious, and refreshing!  We served it with Molten Lava Cakes.

Vanilla Ice Cream
1 cup whole milk, well chilled (we used 1%)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, use a whisk to combine the milk and granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved, about 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla.  Pour mixture into Cuisinart Automatic Ice Cream Maker freezer bowl and let mix until thickened, about 25-30 minutes.

GIANT 'Mon Rolls

The Wilson's like to abbreviate everything, and they have their own secret language for identifying certain family-favorite recipes.  Such as Brownie or Texas Sheet Cake.  In the Wilson family, we call it Yum-Yum Cake.  Or Cinnamon Rolls.  We call them 'Mon Rolls.  Whichever name you want to call them, these Cinnamon Rolls are incredible and sell at Kneader's Bakery for $1.99 each!  To imitate Kneader's Bakery, I 1 1/2'd the Big Cinnamon Rolls recipe we got from Kendra, but still cut them into only 12 rolls.  They turned out GIANT.  Kaysen couldn't finish one.  But I did, and so did Jesse, Bryant, and Jaret.  And Bryant downed another one after church right before dinner.  Enjoy!

Big Cinnamon Rolls
based off of Anne Miles (Boise, ID) recipe
2 tablespoons yeast
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
3 eggs, beaten lightly
3 cups warm water
3 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 1/2 - 9 cups flour
¼  cup softened butter
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons white sugar
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar
milk (enough to achieve desired consistency of frosting -- keep it fairly thick)

Combine in mixing bowl 4 cups flour, yeast, and sugar.  Add the water, eggs, and oil.  Beat well to “cake batter” stage.  Stir in salt and rest of flour to make a soft dough, and let mixer knead it to the right texture.  Place dough in a greased bowl, cover and let rise for 1 hour. (If you're in a hurry, you can skip this rising; but it's best if you can wait.)
Roll dough into a 16x12-inch rectangle.  Spread ¼ cup softened butter over dough and mix sugars and cinnamon and sprinkle on the rectangle.  Roll as for jelly roll, starting with the long edge; then seal.  Cut into 12 rolls (about 1 ⅓ inch slices), using thread or dental floss.  To cut rolls, place piece of thread under rolled dough and pull up around sides.  Crisscross thread at top, then pull quickly.  Place on greased, large (18x12x1-inch) cookie sheet.  Let rise until double, 30 to 45 minutes. (If you skipped the first rising, this rising will take longer.)
Bake at 350°F for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and when thumped with fingertip they will have a hollow sound.  Mix frosting and spread on rolls.  (Note:  I like to spread the frosting on the rolls when serving.  I usually spread the frosting on the ones we are going to eat right away.  Then I store the remaining frosting in the fridge.  Heat individual rolls in the microwave for a few seconds and then spread frosting on roll after removing from microwave.  The frosting may need to be microwaved for a few seconds also to have a better spreading consistency.  The rolls also freeze better without frosting.)

BTW, Kneader's Bakery has franchise opportunities.  I think we should get one going in Pocatello!

Fluff Salad Variations

We love Fluff Salad.  It's a great recipe for summer barbeques and potluck dinners.  Here's the basic recipe that I got years ago from Mom, but my favorite variation is strawberry Jell-O with sliced strawberries.  You can leave the pineapple out completely and still achieve a delightfully flavorful salad.

Fluffy Orange Jell-O Salad
1 carton (12 oz.) cottage cheese
1 pkg. (3 oz.) orange gelatin
1 can (15 ¼ oz.) crushed pineapple
1 carton (8 oz.) whipped topping, thawed

Place cottage cheese in 2-qt. bowl and stir in gelatin.  Drain crushed pineapple.  Mix pineapple with first two ingredients, then fold in whipped topping.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Macadamia Chocolate Chip Muffins

These are totally awesome muffins! The toasted macadamia nuts add richness to the muffin and the semisweet chocolate chips are the perfect counterpoint. The texture is tender and the flavor is fabulous.

Macadamia Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 cup (5 ¼ oz) unsalted macadamia nuts
2 ¼ cups (9 ¾ oz) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (4 ¾ oz) sugar
½ cup (1 ½ oz) shredded sweetened coconut
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (8 oz) buttermilk
8 tablespoons (1 stick/4 oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F. To prepare the muffin tins, spray the indentations and the rims around them Baker’s Joy (or line with paper muffin cups).

Place the nuts on a lipped baking sheet for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and fragrant. Cool for 10 minutes, then finely chop. Transfer the nuts to a medium bowl and stir in the flour, sugar, coconut, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until well blended. Add chocolate chips. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and buttermilk until smooth. Whisk in the melted butter and vanilla. Gently stir in the flour mixture until the nuts are distributed evenly in the batter. Do not overmix.

Fill the prepared tins three-quarters full. Bake for 17-23 minutes, or until the muffins have rounded, cracked tops and a toothpick inserted in the center of one muffin comes out fairly clean, with just a crumb or two.

Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Gently rock each muffin back and forth to release and remove it from the tin. Cool them for 5 minutes more on the rack before serving.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

S'Mores Sandwich Bar Cookies

Oh, you MUST try this recipe from Hershey's! We couldn't wait until they cooled.  If you can't wait either, you should know that your bar cookie won't look as pretty as the one pictured.  But I didn't care.  It tasted just as good, I'm sure!

"Grilled" Fajitas

Today for dinner it was "clean out the fridge night."  We grilled a few times last week, and I had some leftover steak and leftover chicken.  Hmmm.... What to do?  How about fajitas?  Yes!

First, slice an onion (or half an onion if it's giant-sized like the one I used).

Next, slice 3 bell peppers.  I used one red, one orange, and one yellow.

Next, place a skillet on the stove, turn on the burner, and add a little EVOO (maybe 1 tablespoon).

Add the onion and bell peppers to the hot skillet.  While the vegetables are sauteing, take a little time to cut the leftover meat into slices.  I used 2 lbs. steak, top round, and 2 chicken breasts; both had been grilled with a little Montreal Steak Seasoning.  Mmmm!.

When the vegetables are crisply tender, add the meat to the skillet, as well as one of these seasoning packets and about 1/4 cup water:

Turn the heat down and let everything simmer until the meat is heated through.  In the meantime, heat flour tortillas on a griddle.  Serve meat and vegetable fajita mixture with tomatoes, shredded cheese, and sour cream.

Oh, and we really enjoyed a little lime juice squeezed over everything for a little zing.  Delicious!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Marbled Lemon-Blueberry Cake

The lemon and blueberry flavor of this cake is incredible! The cake has a tender texture, but it is still sturdy enough to stack. I increased the yield of the cake for my purposes, but you can just half the recipe to make a triple layer cake or only make a third of the recipe to make a two-layer cake. I combined a few recipes to come up with this version. I filled the cake with blueberry buttercream that I made using my favorite buttercream recipe with blueberry preserves mixed in. The recipe for homemade blueberry preserves is great--the fresh ginger really adds some "zing" to the preserves. The cake was frosted with lemon curd buttercream.

Lemon Cream Cake

1 pound unsalted butter (room temp)
1 pound 12 ounces sugar
6 large eggs (room temperature)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 pound 13 ½ ounces cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound 12 ounces sour cream (room temp)
4 ounces fresh lemon juice (room temp)

Prepare cake pans. Soak cake strips. Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after adding each one. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, then add the vanilla and lemon zest. Whisk the dry ingredients together and add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream and lemon juice.

For lemon-blueberry marble cake, set aside 2 cups. Add 5 tablespoons blueberry preserves to this batter.

Divide the plain batter among the prepared pans. Level the tops. Drizzle heaping teaspoons of blueberry mixture over batter in pans. Using a skewer or parking knife, swirl the blueberry mixture in short strokes to drag it down through the lemon batter without mixing it in. and bake for 30 to 33 minutes or until the sides just begin to pull away from the pan and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool in the pans for 15 minutes, before running a dull knife around the edges of the layers and carefully flipping them out onto a rack to finish cooling completely before filling and frosting.

Source: KAF Baking Sheet Winter 2010 p. 2-3
1 recipe makes enough batter for about six 9-inch round pans.
Batter Wt: 1 pound 3 ounces per 9-inch round cake pan

Lemon-Blueberry Preserves (Makes about 3 cups)

2 pounds 13 ounces blueberries (fresh or frozen & thawed)
15 ¾ ounces granulated sugar
3 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 ½ teaspoons grated lemon zest
3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

Puree the blueberries with any juices they have exuded in a blender or food processor. Pass the puree through a coarse strainer or the medium disk of a food mill to remove the skins.

In a heavy nonreactive saucepan, combine the blueberry puree with the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and ginger. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Continue cooking, stirring often, for 20 minutes, until the preserves have thickened and are reduced to 3 cups. To check for proper thickness, place 1 to 2 teaspoons on a small china or glass plate and put it in the freezer until cold. Drag your finger through the thickened puree: a clear path should remain. If it’s not ready, cook 5 minutes longer and repeat the test. Let the preserves cool, then cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Recipe Source: Sky High Cakes

Lemon Curd (used in frosting)

8 large eggs (approximately 14 oz or 397 g)
2 egg yolks (approximately 1 oz)
1 ½ lb (680 g) granulated sugar
Grated zest of 10 lemons
Juice of 10 lemons (12 fl oz/355 ml or 340 g)
12 oz (340 g) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces

Beat the whole eggs, egg yolks, and sugar together in a stainless-steel (or glass) bowl until well-combined. Add the zest, juice, and butter.

Cook in a double boiler over simmering water, stirring constantly, until the curd starts to thicken, about 20 minutes. (Note: I like to check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer and cook it to 165°F.) The curd is ready when it coats the back of a spoon. Strain immediately and cool over an ice bath.

Store the curd in a plastic container with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Then cover with a tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate until ready to use. Will last for 2 weeks in the fridge.

Recipe source: Wedding Cake Art and Design by Toba Garrett

Lemon or Blueberry Buttercream

1 lb (454 g) unsalted butter
8 oz (230 g) white vegetable or hi-ratio shortening
1 ½ tsp (7.5 ml) lemon extract
1 tsp (5 g) salt
3 lb (1.36 kg) confectioners’ sugar
3 Tbsp (24 g) meringue powder
4 ½ fl oz (128 g) lemon curd OR blueberry preserves

Cream the butter and shortening with the paddle attachment of a 5 or 6-quart mixer for 3 minutes on medium-high speed. Stop and scrape the bowl. Cream for another minute. Add the lemon extract and salt and mix until combined. Gradually add the sugar, then the meringue powder. The mixture will appear dry.

Add lemon curd and beat until light and fluffy, 5 to 8 minutes. Keep the bowl covered with a damp cloth or plastic wrap.

Store the icing in an airtight container for 2 weeks in the fridge or freeze for up to 3 months.

Recipe source: Wedding Cake Art and Design by Toba Garrett

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Whole Wheat Griddle Cakes

Although I’m a huge fan of sweet pancakes (carrot cake, chocolate fudge, oatmeal cookie, etc.), sometimes it’s nice to have a pancake that is just barely sweetened but bursting with hearty whole grain flavor. That’s where these pancakes come in. They’re great for breakfast with any toppings and/or syrup that you prefer.

Whole Wheat Griddle Cakes

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
½ cup toasted wheat germ
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a mixing bowl, combine whole wheat flour, wheat germ, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another mixing bowl combine eggs, buttermilk, butter, and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture. Stir just until combined but still slightly lumpy. (Batter will thicken on standing. If desired, add 1 tablespoon milk at a time for a thinner consistency. I like a thicker consistency, so I don’t add extra milk.)

Heat a lightly greased griddle or heavy skillet over medium heat. For each pancake, pour about ¼ cup batter onto the hot griddle. Spread batter into a circle about 4 inches in diameter.

Cook over medium heat until pancakes are golden brown, turning to cool second sides when pancake surfaces are bubbly and edges are slightly dry (about 1 to 2 minutes per side). Serve immediately or keep warm in a loosely covered ovenproof dish in a 300°F oven.

Makes 16 pancakes.

Recipe source: Pancakes and Toppings (by Better Homes and Gardens)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Blackberry and Vanilla Muffins

I absolutely love the fresh fruit available this time of year. I decided to use some of our blackberries in these delicious muffins. I doubled the recipe and it made 12 jumbo muffins.

Blackberry and Vanilla Muffins

2 cups (300 g) all-purpose flour
¾ cup (150 g) sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (125 ml) milk
½ cup (125 ml) sour cream
2 large eggs
¼ cup (60 g) butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (120 g) fresh or frozen blackberries

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin pan with paper baking cups or spray with Baker’s Joy.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Beat the milk, sour cream, eggs, butter, and vanilla in a large bowl until just blended. Stir the milk mixture into the dry ingredients, followed by the blackberries.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, filling each one three-quarters full. Bake for about 18 minutes for standard muffins (25-30 minutes for jumbo muffins) or until golden brown and firm to the touch. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 12 standard muffins.

Recipe Source: The Golden Book of Baking

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Devil's Food Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Alyssa invited a few friends over to decorate cupcakes with her. They had a ball! I tried out this recipe for cupcakes and made them just before her friends came over. These cupcakes are moist and have a good chocolate flavor—not as dark as I expected for Devil’s Food—but a nice general chocolate flavor nonetheless. Alyssa and her friends used buttercream to decorate the cupcakes instead of the ganache frosting—but I’m sure the suggested ganache frosting would taste incredible and help intensify the chocolate flavor!

Devil’s Food Cupcakes

¾ cup (2 ¼ oz) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
¾ cup (6 oz) hot water
3 cups (12 ¾ oz) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 ¼ teaspoons coarse salt
1 ½ cups (3 sticks/12 oz) unsalted butter
2 ¼ cups (15 ¾ oz) sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (8 oz) sour cream, room temperature
Chocolate Ganache Frosting (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together cocoa and hot water until smooth. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Melt butter with sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring to combine. Remove from heat, and pour into a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat until mixture is cooled, 4 to 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add vanilla, then cocoa mixture, and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, and beating until just combined after each.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 2-0minutes. Transfer tins tow ire racks to cool 15 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

To finish, use a small offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting. Refrigerate up to 3 days in airtight containers; bring to room temperature and garnish with chocolate curls (if desired) just before serving.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

1 pound good-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 1/3 cups heavy cream
¼ cup corn syrup

Place chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Bring cream and corn syrup just to a simmer over medium-high heat; pour mixture over chocolate. Let stand, without stirring, until chocolate begins to melt.

Beginning near the center and working outward, stir melted chocolate into cream until mixture is combined and smooth (do not overstir).

Refrigerate, stirring every 5 minutes, until frosting just barely begins to hold its shape and is slightly lighter in color. Use immediately (ganache will continue to thicken after you stop stirring).

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Buttermilk Dressing

The beautiful spring weather inspired me to plan a fresh salad bar for dinner. Bart prepared the meal for us--prepping tons of fresh ingredients and even making us homemade dressing. This dressing made the salad even better than we could have imagined. You might want to double the recipe so you can enjoy it for a couple of days!

Buttermilk Dressing

5 tablespoons buttermilk
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced green onion tops
1 teaspoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
¼ teaspoon Cajun or Creole seasoning (you can buy Emeril's Original Essence or use the recipe below to make your own seasoning blend)

Whisk all ingredients together in a nonreactive mixing bowl. Use immediately, or store in a covered nonreactive container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Yield: 1 cup

Recipe Source: Emeril 20-40-60 Fresh Food Fast

Creole Seasoning

2 ½ tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

Yield: 2/3 cup

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Meringue Buttercream

Since discovering the Cocoa Bean Cupcake CafĂ© I have had renewed enthusiasm in cupcakes—especially homemade ones. These cupcakes are great for spring and summer—when you can get fresh strawberries in season. The cupcakes are not too sweet, have a very tender texture, and taste great with the puffed cloud of silky strawberry buttercream on top. Alyssa made the buttercream herself, and she had lots of fun decorating the cupcakes. She did a fabulous job! If you store the leftover cupcakes in the fridge, be sure to bring them to room temperature before serving them so the icing will be nice and fluffy rather than hard.

Strawberry Cupcakes

2 ¾ cups (11 ¾ oz) all-purpose flour
½ cup (2 oz) cake flour (NOT self-rising)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks/4 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 ¼ cups (15 ¾ oz) sugar
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 large whole eggs plus 1 egg white (room temperature)
1 cup (8 oz) milk
2 cups (12 oz) finely chopped fresh strawberries, plus about 10 strawberries for garnish
Strawberry Meringue Buttercream (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking powder, and salt.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter, sugar, and vanilla until pale and fluffy. Add whole eggs and the white, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the milk, and beating until well combined. Fold in chopped strawberries by hand.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 18 to 30 minutes (recipe states 25 to 30 minutes but I always check mine early). Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 15 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto rack and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored up to 1 day at room temperature in airtight containers.

To finish, fill a pastry bag fitted with a large open-star tip (Ateco #826 or Wilton #8b—I used Wilton #1M) with buttercream. Pipe buttercream onto each cupcake, swirling tip and releasing as you pull up to form a peak. Just before serving, thinly slice remaining strawberries and tuck a few pieces into buttercream.

Yield: 34 cupcakes.

Strawberry Meringue Buttercream

1 ½ cups (8 oz) fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and coarsely chopped
4 large egg whites
1 ¼ cups (8 ¾ oz) sugar
1 ½ cups (3 sticks/12 oz) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, room temperature

Puree strawberries in a food processor. Combine egg whites and sugar in the heatproof bowl of a standing electric miser set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved (the mixture should feel completely smooth when rubbed between your fingertips).

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, mix until stiff (by not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes. I like to add some ice packs around the outside base of the mixing bowl to help lower the temperature more quickly during the beating process.

With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. Once all butter has been added, scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula and switch to the paddle attachment; continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Add strawberries and beat until combined. Stir with a flexible spatula until the frosting is smooth. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

Frosting recipe yields about 5 cups buttercream.

Recipe Source: Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

Monday, June 6, 2011

Spicy Pork Wraps with Creamy Coleslaw

I had leftover pork tenderloin from the Cashew Pork with Snow Peas and Ginger that I posted yesterday. I looked through my cookbooks for fun ideas on how to use the extra pork tenderloin I had and I am so happy that I discovered this recipe. These wraps are incredibly flavorful! They reminded us of our favorite lettuce wraps. Because the pork tenderloin cooks so quickly, the meal takes very little time to put together.

Spicy Pork Wraps with Creamy Coleslaw

2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons salt (divided into 1 ½ teaspoons + ½ teaspoon)
¾ teaspoon dried oregano
¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper (divided into ½ teaspoon + ¼ teaspoon)
2 pork tenderloins (about 1 pound each), tail ends tucked under and tied
2 tablespoons olive oil
Six 10-inch flour tortillas
One 14-ounce bag coleslaw mix (or 14 ounces shredded mixed cabbage and carrots)
1/3 cup buttermilk
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup minced green onions, white and green parts

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Combine the brown sugar, chili powder, dry mustard, 1 ½ teaspoons of the salt, the oregano, and ½ teaspoon of the cayenne in a small bowl. Generously rub the mixture all over the pork tenderloins.

Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch sautĂ© pan over medium-high heat. Add the tenderloins and sear, turning frequently, until evenly crusted on all sides (they will be dark in color because of the sugar), 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer the pork to a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 12 minutes, or until the internal temperature registers 145°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center.

Remove the tenderloins from the oven, transfer them to a cutting board, and tent with foil. Let rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing. While the pork is resting, wrap the tortillas in aluminum foil and place them in the oven until warmed through, 6 to 8 minutes.

Make the coleslaw by combining the coleslaw mix with the buttermilk, mayonnaise, green onions, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and remaining ¼ teaspoon caynne pepper. (Valerie’s note: I made the sauce for the coleslaw first—whisking together the buttermilk, mayonnaise, onions & seasonings until smooth—before adding the coleslaw mix.) Toss well to combine, and set aside until ready to serve.

To assemble the pork wraps, slice the pork tenderloin in thin slices at an angle. Place ¼ cup of the coleslaw on the lower half of each tortilla, leaving about 2 inches on either side, and then divide the pork slices evenly among the tortillas. Fold in both sides of the tortillas, and then roll the tortillas up, burrito-style. Slice in half and serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings. (You’ll probably have leftover pork as well. Enjoy it the next day on top of a lettuce salad or mixed in with a pasta salad.)

Recipe Source: Emeril 20-40-60 Fresh Food Fast

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Cashew Pork with Snow Peas and Ginger

I love the quick meal ideas on the recipe cards included in the center of each issue of Cook's Country. This meal came from such a card. The pork tenderloin is tossed in oil then in cornstarch before it is sauteed. This coating really enhances the texture of the pork. I liked that this meal required so few ingredients, yet it yielded very tasty results!

Cashew Pork with Snow Peas and Ginger
Serves 4

1/2 cup raw cashews , chopped
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup mirin (I used about 3 Tblsp rice wine vinegar + 1 Tblsp broth)
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 (16-ounce) pork tenderloin , trimmed
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 ounces snow peas , strings removed
6 garlic cloves , minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1. Toast cashews in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until golden, about 5 minutes. Whisk broth, mirin, soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon cornstarch together in bowl until no lumps remain; set aside. Cut pork crosswise into ½-inch-thick slices, then cut each slice into ½-inch-thick strips. Toss pork and 1 tablespoon oil in large bowl. Add remaining 2 tablespoons cornstarch and toss to coat. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown half of pork, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer pork to plate and tent with foil. Repeat with 2 teaspoons oil and remaining pork.

2. Cook snow peas and remaining 2 teaspoons oil in now-empty skillet until bright green, about 1 minute. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Whisk broth mixture to recombine and add to skillet. Cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Return pork, any accumulated juices, and cashews to skillet and cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Serve. (We served it over cooked rice.)

Picture and Recipe Source: Cook's Country

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Strawberries & Cream Scones

This is a delicious way to highlight strawberries at breakfast while strawberries are still in season. The glaze is very unique (and, yes, you do add the glaze before you bake the scones), resulting in a delicate crunch on the top of the scones. I used my mini scone pan, but if you don’t have a scone pan just bake the scones as drop scones on a baking sheet.

Strawberries & Cream Scones

• 1/2 cup (2 ½ ounces) diced fresh strawberries
• 1/4 cup (1 ¾ ounces) granulated sugar
• 2 tablespoons half & half or light cream
• 2 cups (8 ½ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour or pastry flour (I used pastry flour since I had some on hand)
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 6 tablespoons ( 3 ounces) cold butter, cut into pieces
• 1 large egg
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• a few drops Fiori di Sicilia, optional (I didn’t add it)
• 2/3 cup (3 ½ ounces) diced fresh strawberries


• 3 tablespoons (1 ¼ ounces) sugar
• 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon water


1) Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets, or a full-size or mini-scone pan.
2) To make the scones: In a blender or food processor, process 1/2 cup of the strawberries with the sugar and half & half or cream until the mixture is smooth. Set it aside.
3) In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
4) Work in the butter, using a mixer, your fingertips, a fork, or a pastry blender; the mixture should be unevenly crumbly.
5) In a separate bowl, whisk together the strawberry/cream mixture, the egg, the vanilla extract, and the Fiori.
6) Add this mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring until the dough just barely starts to come together.
7) Add the 2/3 cup diced strawberries, gently folding them in; the dough will be quite sticky.
8) Drop the dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets; each scone should be about the size of a golf ball. A tablespoon cookie scoop is exactly the right size for this task.
9) Or divide the dough among the compartments of the scone pan of your choice.
10) Make the glaze by stirring together the sugar, water, and vanilla until smooth. Drizzle some atop each scone. (I used a pastry brush to glaze the scones.)
11) Bake the scones until they're just beginning to turn golden brown around the edges, 15 to 16 minutes (on a baking sheet or in a mini-scone pan), or 18 to 20 minutes (in a standard scone pan). Break one scone open, just to be sure; they should be moist (but not gummy) at the center.
12) Serve scones warm. Or allow them to cool completely, and store airtight at room temperature. Just before serving, reheat very briefly in the microwave, or for 5 to 10 minutes, tented with aluminum foil, in a preheated 350°F oven.

Yield: 8 to 18 scones, depending on size—I got 16 mini-scones

Recipe Source: King Arthur Flour

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Best Doughnuts Ever!

Happy National Doughnut Day! To celebrate, I made these doughnuts for breakfast this morning. I actually made the dough last night and let it rest overnight in the fridge. I had to punch it down a couple times after putting it in the fridge until it got cold enough that the rise was substantially slowed. This morning, the dough easily rolled out and it rested while the oil heated up. When the oil was ready, the doughnuts were ready to fry. These are hands down the best doughnuts I have ever made! We all loved them.

Basic Raised Doughnuts
(AKA Best Ever Doughnuts)

3 tablespoons (22 grams) active dry yeast, divided
1 cup (8 ounces) whole milk, heated to 110°F, divided
2 to 2 ½ cups (320 to 400 grams) bread flour, divided (use bread flour—not all-purpose flour)
2 tablespoons (30 grams) superfine sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 egg yolks
¼ cup (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) unsalted butter or vegetable shortening
Vegetable oil or shortening for frying

In a medium bowl, dissolve 2 tablespoons of the yeast into ¾ cup of the milk. Add ¾ cup of the flour and stir to create a smooth paste. Cover and let rest in a warm spot for 30 minutes.

Combine the remaining milk and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the rested flour mixture along with the sugar, salt, vanilla, and egg yolks. Mix until smooth. Turn off the mixer and add ½ cup of the remaining flour. Mix on low for about 30 seconds. Add the butter and mix until it becomes incorporated, about 30 seconds. Switch to a dough hook and add more flour, about ¼ cup at a time with the mixer turned off, kneading the dough at medium speed between additions, until the dough pulls completely away from the sides of the bowl and is smooth and not too sticky. It will be very soft and moist, but not so sticky that you can’t roll it out. You may have flour left over. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least hour (and up to 12 hours).

Line a baking sheet with a lightly floured non-terry dish towel. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to ½ inch thick. With a doughnut or cookie cutter, cut out 3-inch-diameter rounds with 1-inch diameter holes 9for filled doughnuts, don’t cut out the holes).

Place the doughnuts on the baking sheet at least 1 inch apart and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm spot to proof until they almost double in size, 5 to 20 minutes, testing at five-minute intervals. To test whether the dough is ready, touch lightly with a fingertip. If it springs back immediately, it needs more time. If it springs back slowly, it is ready. If it doesn’t spring back at all, it has overproofed; you can punch it down and reroll it once.

While the doughnuts are proofing, heat a heavy-bottomed pot with at least 2 inches of oil until a deep-fat thermometer registered 360°F. With a metal spatula, carefully place the doughnuts in the oil. Fry for 1 to 2 minutes per side, or until light golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on a wire rack over a paper towel, and let cool slightly before glazing.

Basic Sugar Glaze

½ cups (150 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted to remove any lumps
3 to 4 tablespoons milk or water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (optional)

Place the sugar in a medium bowl and slowly stir in the milk and vanilla, a little at a time, to make a smooth, pourable glaze.

Recipe Source: Doughnuts: Simple and Delicious Recipes to Make at Home

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Rhubarb Cupcakes with Whipped Cream

One of the best parts of spring is the arrival of rhubarb in our garden! This year Bart made these delicious cupcakes for us to celebrate spring. The cupcakes are tender, delicious, and have just the right amount of spark from the rhubarb.

Rhubarb Cupcakes with Whipped Cream

1 ½ cups (6 ½ ounces) all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon coarse salt
½ cup (1 stick/4 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups (14 ounces) sugar—divided as 1 cup (7 ounces) + 1 cup (7 ounces)
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup (4 ounces) sour cream, room temperature
12 ounces rhubarb, stalks trimmed and cut into ¼-inch dice (3 cups—divided into 2 cups + 1 cup)
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
1 cup (8 ounces) water
Whipped Cream (unsweetened)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla extract. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, and beating until combined after each. Stir in 2 cups diced rhubarb.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each ¾ full. Bake until cake test inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely.

To make rhubarb topping, use the tip of a paring knife to scrape vanilla-bean seeds into a saucepan. Add the water and remaining 1 cup sugar, and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat, and stir in remaining 1 cup rhubarb. Let cool completely. Remove rhubarb with a slotted spoon, and reserve. Return liquid to a simmer, and cook until reduced by half, 5 to 8 minutes. Let cool slightly, then return rhubarb to syrup. Once cool, rhubarb can be refrigerated in syrup for up to 1 week in an airtight container; bring to room temperature before using.

To finish, remove liner from cupcake, dollop a generous amount of whipped cream onto each cupcake, and top with rhubarb and some syrup. Serve immediately.

Makes 16 cupcakes.

Source: Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Chocolate Banana Icee

I enjoy this icee as a quick breakfast or as a quick afternoon pick-me-up!  It's also good with other fruits, such as strawberries, raspberries, or peaches.  I've heard it's good with a little peanut butter added, too, but I haven't tried that. Oh, and it's low-fat, nutritious, and a great substitute for an ice-cream craving.

Chocolate Banana Icee
1 cup ice
1 cup low-fat milk
1/2 banana, broken into chunks
2 T. Hershey's chocolate syrup

Place all ingredients in blender.  Blend until ice is finely chopped and mixture becomes thick.  Pour into a big glass and enjoy slowly (too fast and you'll get brain freeze -- ouch!).  This recipe can be easily doubled if you'd like to use a whole banana.

Red Velvet Muffins

I gave Joshua a choice of what type of muffins I should make for breakfast. He couldn’t decide between chocolate chip and Red Velvet, so we made Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Muffins. One of the fun things about The Ultimate Muffin Book is that each recipe is followed by an extensive list of suggested ways to vary the recipe, and the Chocolate Chip version was one such variation for the Red Velvet Muffins. I was testing out a new jumbo muffin pan I got, so I doubled the recipe and made HUGE muffins (like Costco sized)! The muffins were so delicious that we were glad we had a lot.

Red Velvet Muffins

2 cups (8 ¾ ounces) all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups (8 ¾ ounces) sugar
¼ cup (3/4 ounce) cocoa powder, sifted
2 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups (10 ¾ ounces) buttermilk
8 tablespoons (1 stick/4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons vinegar
One ½-ounce bottle red food coloring
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips (if desired)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. (My oven tends to run hot so I use 375°F.) Prepare muffin tins by spraying with Baker’s Joy (or use paper muffin liners).

Whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl until uniform. Set aside.

In a large bowl, lightly whisk the egg, then whisk in the buttermilk and melted butter until smooth. Whisk in the vanilla, vinegar, and red food coloring until the mixture is uniformly colored. Use a wooden spoon to stir I the flour mixture, just until moistened. Gently fold in chocolate chips (if desired).

Fill the prepared tins three-quarters full. Bake until tops are browned and cracked and a toothpick inserted in the center of one muffin comes out with a few moist crumbs attached—check at about 18 minutes. (The actual recipe states about 27 minutes but mine are always done much earlier than that for regular-size muffins.)

Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Gently remove muffins from tin and cool for 5 minutes more on the rack before serving.

Recipe Source: The Ultimate Muffin Book