Saturday, July 30, 2011

Perfect Blueberry Muffins



We were in Chicago visiting our daughter Amber. One morning she made the best blueberry muffins I have ever eaten. They were perfect. A hint of lemon, tender crumb, juicy berries and a tasty streusel topping. What's not to like? I asked for the recipe, that's just what we do. She explained it was on Our Best Bites. What? I look at that site every day. Somehow I had missed it.
I hesitated to make them at home. Food always tastes better when someone bakes it for you and Amber lives at sea level, we live above 5000 feet. But I tried the recipe and I'm happy to say the muffins turned out perfect. This recipe is a keeper. Thank you, Our Best Bites!






Streusel-Topped Blueberry Muffins or Perfect Blueberry Muffins
Recipe from Our Best Bites
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
2 3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. table salt
1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. grated orange or lemon peel
1 large egg
3/4 c. buttermilk
1/3 c. canola oil
1 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
1 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
Streusel Topping
1/4 c. sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and citrus peel is large bowl and stir. Make a well in the center of the mixture. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, and oil. Add to the dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened.
In a small bowl, combine the remaining flour and sugar and then toss the blueberries in this mixture until they are well-coated. Gently fold the blueberry mixture into the batter. Spoon the batter into lined muffin tins, filling 2/3 full.
To make the streusel topping, combine the 1/4 c. sugar, 2 1/2 Tbsp. flour, and cinnamon. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or two butter knives until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over the batter and bake for 18 minutes or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the muffins comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack. Makes 12 muffins.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Greg and Chocolate Cake with Coconut Pecan Frosting

Chocolate Cake with Coconut Pecan Frosting


It's hubby's birthday today; I love an occasion to make a cake. With just 2 of us at home a cake lasts too long. Actually I just have no will power and to have a cake staring at me all day is just more than I can take. So you can see why I need a special occasion to make a cake. Enough about my faults.


Greg is the best thing to ever happen to me! He is an amazing husband, father and grandfather. I fell in love with Greg because of the way he treated other people. His aging grandmothers, children, the waitress etc., Greg was kind and respectful to everyone. I knew he would treat me the same way. And he does!


Greg has served in our community and our church. He loves scouting and has spent many vacation days serving boys. He coached baseball and other sports, of course he loved to win (he is a guy) but he knew that winning was not as important as building boys.



Greg is gentle, little children love him. He can always soothe a crying baby. His children, now adults turn to their father for advice and a listening ear. He is loved by his grandchildren, he always has time for them. He is the perfect grandfather!

Happy Birthday Greg! We do love you.



Chocolate Cake with Coconut Pecan Frosting
This is always a winner. Make your favorite chocolate cake. I made Dories Cocoa-Buttermilk Birthday Cake (yummy) Bake in 2 or 3-8 or 9 inch round pans. Cool completly. Fill layers and top with Coconut Pecan Frosting. Frost sides with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting and pipe a fancy edge around the top and bottom of cake. This cake feeds a crowd, serve with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream. This cake can also be made in a 9x13 inch pan. Just top the cake with the coconut pecan frosting. Chocolate frosting could be piped around the edge of the cake. Yes you will have some frosting left over. But frosting on graham crackers is more than delicious. I am pretty sure that the Chocolate Sour Cream frosting will be you new favorite frosting. Enjoy!
.
Coconut Pecan Frosting
1 cup sugar
1  cup evaporated milk
1 square butter
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/3 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
Mix first 5 ingredients in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat until thick, about 13-15 minutes. Stir constantly. When thick add coconut and nuts and stir till cool and thick.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Family Reunion






Random thoughts on family reunions...
--If you don't plan them they don't happen
--They are a lot of work
--Most people don't RSVP till the day before


--To a child they are magical, they shape their lives
--My 83 year old Mother was so happy to see all the wonderful people in her life
--My Father would have loved every minute of it




--They keep relationships alive
--Reunions help you realize you are part of a bigger picture
--It's always good to remember that you have many people that love and care about you
--Reunions build a family culture




--Family members are more than happy to help plan and execute a reunion for 100
--My family is very generous
--Since I have 5 siblings, I will plan the next family reunion in 2017!!




Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Raspberry or Blueberry Squares


My good friend Nancy loves blueberries so it seemed only right to make her a great blueberry dessert for her birthday. We were going to lunch and I wanted something that I could hand out to our friends. These blueberry bars fit nicely in glassine envelopes.

I didn't have time to search through blogs and find something that might work, so I opened one of my American Test Kitchen cookbooks and found just the right recipe. I always enjoy reading just how and why ATK came up with the recipe they did. They test and test and then retest until it is perfect.I have yet to be disappointed. So I hope you enjoy Blueberry Squares, we did!





Blueberry Squares--American Test Kitchen
Lining the pan with foil is helpful on two accounts. It makes removal of the squares for cutting very easy (just lift the entire block and place it on a cutting board.), clean-up is a breeze. For even bars and a nice presentation trim 1/4 inch off the outer rim of the uncut block. The outside edges of all the cut squares will be neat




1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups quick cooking oats
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, almonds or a combination
12 tablespoons butter, cut in 12 pieces, softened but still cool
1 cup blueberry or raspberry preserves
1.  Adjust pan to lower middle and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 inch square baking pan with Pam.Fold two 16 inch pieces of foil lengthwise to measure 8 inches wide. Fit one sheet in the bottom of the pan, pushing it into corners and up the sides of the pan.Fit the second sheet in the pan in the same manner, perpendicular to the first sheet. Spray foil with Pam
2.  In the bowl of a standing mixer, mix the flour, oats, sugars, baking soda, salt and nuts on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. With the mixer running at low speed, add butter pieces, continue to beat until mixture resembles wet sand about 2 minutes. You will have a little over 5 cups of crumbs.
3.  Transfer 2/3 of the mixture to the prepared pan. Press the crumbs evenly into the bottom of pan, I use the bottom of a metal measuring cup. Bake about 20 minutes or until starting to brown. Using an offset spatula spread the preserves evenly over the bottom  crust. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the preserves. Return to oven and bake until the preserves bubble around the edges and the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Rotating pan half way through. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack for about 1 1/2 hours. Remove cool bars from the pan with foil handles, remove foil and transfer to a cutting board. Cut in squares 1 1/2x1 1/2 inches. Delish!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Minty Brownies--Secret Recipe Club

I am happy to be a new member of The Secret Club. This month I had the pleasure of finding something fun to make on Glenda's Blog. Busy-at-Home is full of great food, parenting tips, home schooling advice, gardening tips etc., there is something for everyone on Glenda's Blog.
I recently took inventory of my 'chip' stash, semi sweet, milk, white, peanut butter are staples, I don't want to run out! Hiding in the back of said cupboard was a package of Andes Mint Chips. Purchased for holiday baking I knew the shelf life was running out.
I was happy to find the perfect recipe for my mint chips. Whatever Floats Your Boat Brownies was just what I was looking for. This is a basic rich, chewy brownie. Nothing special, butter, sugar, vanilla, cocoa, eggs and flour combine to make a excellent brownie base. You then have permission to add 2 cups of whatever you like. I chose mint chips which were perfect in this recipe. I wanted to add more minty goodness so I frosted the cooled brownies with a pink mint frosting. A chocolate ganache drizzle completed the dessert, which was perfect for a girls night out!
So, clean out your baking cupboard and make a delicious unique dessert.



Whatever Floats Your Boat Brownies
1 cup butter
1 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons flour
Melt butter, cool and add cocoa, sugar vanilla and salt. Add eggs one at a time and stir well. Gently stir in flour. Add 2 cups mix-ins. Bake in a buttered 9x13 pan at 350 for 35 minutes. Brownies are done when a tooth pick comes out with a few crumbs attached and brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan.
Mix-ins may include a combination of
nuts, chopped peanuts, walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, etc.
coconut
chips, milk chocolate, semi-sweet or white chocolate, peanut butter chips, mint chips
chopped candy, peanut butter cups, snickers etc.
mini M&Ms etc.

Minty Frosting
5 tablespoons soft butter
1 tablespoon Karo
1/2 teaspoon mint flavoring
3 tablespoons cream
2 1/3 cups powered sugar
Mix all ingredients together until smooth. Add a few drops of red food coloring. Spread on cooled brownies. Drizzle with ganache.

Ganache
3 ounces milk chocolate
3 ounces dark chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Karo
Bring cream and Karo to a simmer over medium high heat. Pour over chopped chocolate. Let sit 5 minutes before stirring. Stir and pour through a fine mesh strainer. Cool till desired thickness. Drizzle over brownies.
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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies Perfected


Can I have 2 favorite Peanut Butter Cookie recipes? I hope so because I do. I thought my search for a PB cookie was over when I made Dorie's recipe. I've made it several times, it is delicious.
But when one enjoys cooking blogs you are bound to find more recipes, better recipes perhaps. Cookies on Friday baked a peanut butter cookies that she claimed to be perfect. It had peanut butter chips in it, I've never been a fan of peanut butter chips. I think years ago I bought a bag of cheap peanut butter chips and just remember a very waxy artificial taste. I purchased a bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Chips, they taste just like the middle of a Reese's Pieces. What's not to love?? So I'll just say the rest is history. I have another yummy peanut butter cookie to add to my ever growing cookie arsenal.


Yes, I can have two favorite Peanut Butter Cookie recipes. Jack was my sous chef, he liked the idea of adding Mini M&M's to half the batter. They added color and a fun little burst of chocolate.

Peanut Butter Cookies Perfected
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup dry-roasted salted peanuts, chopped
1 cup Reese's Peanut Butter chips
1/2-1 cup mini M&M's
Coarse sugar

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and sugars together until fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and stir until combined. The mixture will look light and fluffy. Add the peanut butter and stir until just incorporated. Add half of the flour mixture and mix for 15 seconds. Add the remaining flour mixture, peanuts, peanut butter chips and mini M&M's. Mix until just incorporated. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. The dough gets better the longer it is refrigerated (up to 3 days).
Using a medium Pampered Chef scoop make balls of dough and dip in coarse sugar. Place on cookie sheet and flatten slightly with a fork. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Summer Fruit Galette TWD

I have been wanting to make a Galette for ages, I love the rustic look.  Rustic looks simple, like maybe I could make this type of pie. Jill is visiting so after the kids were in bed we attempted our first Galette. What a fun pie. I can see many more Galettes in the future.


This recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan's cookbook "Baking From My Home to Yours". We used raspberries for our Galette, the last 15 minutes of cooking a custard is poured around the berries. What a great combination. The complete recipe can be found on Tina's blog My Domestic Bliss. She has some great photos and exact instructions.
If you have yet to make a pie a Galette is the place to start. We know.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

TWD Cream Scones


There is not a whole lot to say about Cream Scones other than they are delicious. I love any kind of scone, cream scone is no exception. They came together easily, I grated my frozen butter. That was a great trick--one I will do forever! The complete recipe is at a Cafe Lynnylu. Check out the photography on Lynne's blog, she is really a pro! I check her blog often just for the eye candy.
I made the scones late and tucked them safely in the freezer. We would have tried them tonight for a midnight snack but we had Dories Summer Galette made with raspberries that needed our full attention. Wow, that's one treat...


So I'll bake off a couple of scones for breakfast and the rest will wait patiently in a frozen state for company coming later this week. I'm also thinking they will be joined in the freezer with a roll or two of World Peace Cookies. Yep, my sweet daughter is here to help me make all these goodies. Jill is a great chef.

Monday, July 4, 2011

TWD Chocolate-Chocolate Chunk Muffins


Dorie says 'these slightly sweet goodies straddle the divide between cupcake and muffins'. I think I probably tipped the scale toward cupcake when I added an extra 3 ounces of dark chocolate. I made 48 mini muffins, they were just delicious. I took them to a holiday brunch and brought home an empty basket. They were light and chocolaty, the chunks of melted dark chocolate added interest. They were a hit.
The complete recipe can be found on Bridget's blog, The Way the Cookie Crumbles. Or purchase 'Baking: From My Home to Yours,' by Dorie Greenspan.


 Spend a few moments at Bridget's Blog. It is fun! She often does recipe comparisons, which lemon bar, red velvet cake, chocolate chip cookie, etc. is really the best? She also has a great section on Food Photography, read it and learn! It has been a pleasure to get to know Bridget.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Month of Fun


More fun photos of visiting Grandchildren. They must be shared because I am one lucky Nana!


Summer Fun


Cousins have gathered and Summer is here,
Sprinklers and Popsicles always near...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Foil Dinners


I think summer is finally here, the temperatures are in the 90's and we saw the first wildland fire on our mountain. Years ago, before charcol briquets Greg and I were dating. I was going to impress him with my outdoor cooking abilities. We went to American Fork Canyon--the most beautiful canyon ever, and built a fire. When it reached about 4000 degrees we put our foil dinners in to cook. I took them out 45 minutes later and we had burnt beef and charred veggies. Not a success.
Greg married me anyway. Foil dinners are a perfect beginning cooking project for scouts. Since Greg has been in Scouts for the last 35 years he has developed some tried and true methods that will produce perfect foil dinners every time.


Tin Foil Dinners

  • One pound of ground beef generally makes 4-6 foil dinners
  • Add a thick ( ¼ inch) slice of onion to each dinner.
    • Don’t like onions?  Add it anyway – toss it and enjoy the flavor!
  • One carrot, sliced or matchsticks
  • One potato sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons Cream of Mushroom/Chicken/Celery Soup or Gravy
  • Salt and Pepper
    • for a perfectly seasoned meal lightly salt & pepper each layer
  • 8 coals/briquets for each foil dinner, place dinner directly on briquets
  • 10 minutes on each side
  • Time varies based on temperature/elements
  • Use Extra Heavy Duty Foil           
    • We think it may now be called Super Strength
  • Would be tasty with chicken & lemon pepper, mushrooms, garlic, etc.
  • Greg always takes a square of Extra Heavy Duty Foil and some lemon pepper when he goes fishing. Nothing better than a fresh caught, just cooked trout
  • Carefully open the foil--it is hot! Eat dinner right out of foil. Scouts add ketchup, I don't
  • This is a great family activity, dinners can be customized to suit individual tastes