Thursday, August 30, 2012

Serving Up {Cake}: Blueberry Buckle

My youngest is fascinated with the Disney movie "Cars" and watches (parts of) it a lot.  In one scene Lightening McQueen calls his #1 rival, Chick Hick, "Thunder" and then says, "you know, because thunder always comes after LIGHTENING" (referring to himself) which leaves Chick Hick saying, "who knew that about thunder?"

I promise I really do have a point!

I have a friend who is quite nearly the perfect homemaker - seriously!  And I have been the recipient of her perfection so many times that I will never be able to pay her back even a fraction.  She was coming over to my house one morning for a meeting with two other people and this near perfect friend told me that she would be bringing a Blueberry Buckle.  I had no idea what that was, but didn't worry because I knew if it came from her kitchen then it would be amazing.  So the morning that she shows up with this delectable goody, the other two women say, "oh did you make a blueberry buckle" and they all begin talking about it and I felt like Chick Hick, looking around saying, "who knew that about blueberry buckle?".  I know, I need to get out more, but you would be amazed at how many parallels I can find between my life and Disney.

Moving on...just as I knew that a Blueberry Buckle, whatever it was, would be to die for if it was made by my friend, it did not disappoint.  It turns out that a buckle actually falls under the category of "cobbler" but, in truth, is much more like a cake than what I consider to be a cobbler.  That's good because I think that by categorizing it as a coffee cake also means that it is allowable to eat it for breakfast, which is fine by me! 

One Year Ago: Morning Egg Casserole

(recipe from Heidi C.)
printable version

2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup milk
1 egg
2 cups blueberries, fresh (if using frozen, thaw first)

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, melted butter, milk and egg.  Mix well and add when combined, add the blueberries carefully and quickly folding them in.  The dough gets a little firm quickly so it's easier to get the berries in the dough soon after it's mixed.   If using thawed, fold them in gently to prevent them from breaking and turning the dough blue.

Spread the batter into a buttered 8 X 8 pan.  Prepare topping.

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup butter

Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter in a bowl using a pastry blender.  Sprinkle the topping evenly over the batter.
Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 45 - 50 mins.  Check it at about 30 minutes - if the top is browning too much, lightly place a piece of foil over the top for the remaining cooking time.  Test with a toothpick to make sure it's cooked all the way through before removing from oven.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Serving Up {Tacos}: Easy Fish Tacos

I tend to order fish tacos frequently when I eat out, because I really like them but seldom take the time to make the "real thing" at home.  What I do make frequently at home, and is a great alternative, are these quick and easy cheater fish tacos.  Because they use fish sticks, they come together really quick and are a perfect meal when you need something tasty but not time consuming.

At our house I set out all the toppings and everyone makes their own.  My daughter usually rolls hers up in a tortilla drenched in ketchup.  Gourmet I know!  My son is a bit closer to my heart because he will actually throw some shredded lettuce/cabbage in there and then he adds salsa and cheese.  My own taco begins with the coleslaw-shredded cabbage, fish sticks, a generous squeeze of fresh lime, pico de gallo and then a squirt of ranch dressing.  I will take two thank you!

One Year Ago: S'more S'morgasbord

6-inch corn tortillas
frozen fish sticks
shredded lettuce or cabbage
pico de gallo
sour cream or ranch dressing
avocado (optional)

If you are even still reading this please comment and tell me why!  Really, a recipe?  These are simple!
Heat up those fish sticks.  While they are baking, warm your tortillas on the stove.
Fill the tortillas with fish sticks and any other delicious topping you so choose - please get creative and don't limit yourself to my list above.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Serving Up {Beef}: Sirloin Burger with Balsamic Mayo

I owe you an apology.  A really big one!  Like a 1/3 pound, mouthwatering apology topped with mushrooms and swiss cheese and dripping with balsamic mayo.  Oh wait, I think I have this burger on the mind!

I owe you an apology because I had planned to post this recipe last month while we were still knee deep in BBQ season....because this is the ultimate BBQ burger!  Sadly I am late in posting it but, at least here in the Northwest, the weather seems to be cooperating in extended our BBQ season out a few more weeks so maybe if you haven't put away your grill for the season you can grill this baby up and it will tie you over until next summer.  

One Year Ago: Baked Beans
                        Green Smoothie

(recipe from Rachel Ray)
printable version

1/4 cup chopped onion
1 1/3 pounds ground sirloin
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
Steak Seasoning Blend (McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning)
Extra-virgin olive oil
4 crusty rolls, split
4 portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
Coarse salt and pepper
4 slices Swiss cheese
3 Tbs. Balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Coarse black pepper
1/4 pound baby spinach

Preheat grill pan or large nonstick skillet.  Saute onions in a small pan over moderate heat for 3 to 5 minutes until tender.
Combine meat with Worcestershire sauce, sauteed onion and steak seasoning blend.  Form 4 large patties. Drizzle patties with a touch of extra-virgin olive oil. Place burgers on grill or in a skillet. Grill or pan-fry burgers 4 to 5 minutes on each side for medium-well doneness.

Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add a little oil and mushrooms. Season mushrooms with a little salt and pepper and saute until just tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Pile the cooked mushrooms on top of the burgers just before you are ready to take them off the grill or out of the pan. Fold each Swiss cheese slice in half and rest on top of mushrooms. Place a loose tin foil tent over the burgers and turn heat off under pan or grill. Allow the cheese to begin to melt down over mushroom and burgers, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Toast your buns.
Combine balsamic, mayonnaise and coarse cracked black pepper in a small dish.
To assemble, place burgers with mushrooms and Swiss cheese on the bottom of the bun. Slather tops of buns with the balsamic mayo blend and baby spinach. Set burger tops in place.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Serving Up {Fruit}: Frozen Peaches

I'm beginning to see peaches at roadside stands and at the Farmer's Market.  If you have peaches available to you, along with some space in the freezer, please let me suggest putting up some bottles of an old family favorite.  As long as I can remember my mom has put up Frozen Peaches every fall.  It helps that her dad had an orchard with all the peaches we ever needed - and we aren't talking the hard, flavorless baseball sized peaches.  Grandpa grew them the size of a softball and they were juicy and delicious and perfect!

The best part (other than the flavor) is that because you are freezing the peaches, you don't have to bother with a water bath or a steamer to seal your bottles.  It's just fill the bottles, put on the lids and pop them in the freezer.  Pull them out the morning that you want to serve them and let them thaw partway.  You want them to still be icy and cold when they are served, so don't let them thaw out entirely.

I have added fresh raspberries or fresh blueberries at the time of serving.  Seriously one of the best fruit treats that I can think of!

One Year Ago: Pesto Pea Salad

(recipe from Linda W.)

Medium Syrup:
4 cups water
2 cups sugar
Combine water and sugar in a pan and bring to a boil until all the sugar is dissolved.
Allow the syrup to cool.
Add 1 tsp. Fruit Fresh per cup of liquid.

Prepare your jars by sterilizing them in a sanitary run through the dishwasher.
Wash, peel and slice your peaches and place peach slices into the prepared jars.
Pour enough medium syrup over the peaches to fill the jar, leaving approximately 1/2 inch head space.
Place a lid and ring on each jar.
Prior to serving, thaw the peaches partway.  
Place the peaches in a bowl and add 1 tsp. almond extract and stir to combine.
The peaches should be served while still partly frozen.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Serving Up {Breakfast}: Orange Sweet Rolls

I love cinnamon rolls and have a bit of an obsession with pinning every recipe for cinnamon rolls that comes up on pinterest.  I will never make them all, or at least I never ought to make them all if I want to be able to fit into my jeans...  I mention this only because for as much as I like cinnamon rolls, I can't for the life of me remember why I fiddled with a recipe for cinnamon rolls and turned them into orange sweet rolls.  It was probably the influence of Rhodes bake-n-serve rolls going orange, but the twist to the traditional cinnamon roll is definitely a tasty one.

Even if you have a favorite cinnamon roll recipe that you swear by, try switching out the cinnamon for some orange zest and enjoy the bright fresh flavor.  It is a great way to start the day.

One Year Ago: Caramel Clusters


2 cups warm water
2 Tbsp. yeast
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup dry milk
5 1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. orange zest
fresh orange juice

Combine warm water and yeast and allow to stand for 5 minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients, adding the flour gradually, stirring well after each addition until a sticky, but kneadable dough is formed.  Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead well.  Place dough in a clean bowl and allow to rise until triple in size (about 1 hour). 

Prepare topping by combining softened butter, sugar, orange zest and enough orange juice to create the desired consistency.

Roll out dough into a 24x18 inch rectangle.  Spread the orange butter topping over the dough.  Roll up dough width wise.  Slice dough into 1 1/2 inch slices.  Place on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray.  Cover and allow to rise until double in size.

Bake at 350 degres for 15 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.  
My favorite frosting for these rolls is a basic cream cheese frosting with the addition of orange zest and the use of fresh orange juice to reach the desired consistency.  

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Serving Up {Pizza}: Reuben Pizza Calzone

I have a bit of a condition that is very serious and thus far I have no cure...if I find myself at a restaurant that serves sandwiches and a reuben is on the menu, I am hopelessly bound to order the reuben.  I love them and still remember being introduced to them for the first time while staying with my aunt while my parents were on vacation.  I have been enjoying them ever since.

It is no wonder that when I stumbled across this recipe a number of years ago, I let no time pass before I promptly made it and have been making it ever since.  Should you find yourself with a similar obsession with reubens, I hope you enjoy this recipe and find it to be a delightful variation on the perfect sandwich.

(recipe from Rachel Ray)
printable version

1 pound pizza dough (refrigerated or make your own)
1 1/2 cups shredded swiss cheese
1 pound deli-sliced pastrami
1 cup sauerkraut, rinsed
1/2 Tbs. olive oil
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 ½ Tbs. ketchup
2 Tbs. finely chopped dill pickles

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees. If you are using a pizza stone, put your stone in the oven and preheat it for at least 20-30 minutes.

Cut the pizza dough in half and form each half into a disk. Place on a lightly floured work surface and cover one with a towel.

Roll out the other piece of dough into a 9-inch round and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle half of the cheese on top, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Arrange the pastrami and then the sauerkraut evenly on top. Top with the remaining cheese.

Roll out the second piece of dough in to a 10 inch round and place over the filling. Tightly crimp together the edges to seal. Brush the top with the olive oil and cut 3 vents in the center.

Bake the pizza until browned and crisp, 20-25 minutes. Let it cool briefly.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the many, ketchup and pickles. Cut the pizza into wedges and serve with the sauce.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Serving Up {Ice Cream}: Ice Cream Sundae Cake

Our family has been enjoying some summer travel in the Northwest, it is pretty much a guarantee that wherever we visit, it is hotter than what we are used to in Portland!  I will admit that I have only turned my a/c unit on twice this entire summer.  Yes, you can totally hate me! 

Regardless of whether you are enjoying the mild summer that we have been enjoying, or whether you are melting in the sweltering heat that the rest of the nation seems to be dealing with, this is a great summer time dessert.  It's an ice cream sundae in a pan.  Vary the flavor of ice cream for different flavor combinations and enjoy. 


2 Tbs. butter
2 cups coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups rice krispie cereal (crush slightly)
1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream (could use chocolate or peppermint)
fudge sauce (recipe to follow)

Melt the butter in a large pan and add coconut; cooking until coconut is browned.  Remove from heat and add the nuts and cereal, mixing well.  Allow to cool.
Place 1/2 of crumb mixture in the bottom of a 13x9 pan.  Spread 1/2 of the container of ice cream (allow ice cream to soften slightly) over the crumb layer.  Cover with 1/2 of the fudge sauce.  Layer the remaining ice cream.  Top with remaining fudge sauce and the remaining crumbs. 
Place in freezer until ready to serve.

Fudge Sauce:
3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
2 Tbs. butter
14-ounce sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. vanilla
dash salt

Melt chocolate and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add sweetened condensed milk and continue to stir over low heat for about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and add vanilla and salt.                   

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Serving Up {Vegetable}: Smashed Parmesan Potatoes

Yummy, Yummy, Yummy!

These potatoes are one of my favorite!  In fact, my husband, who is not a huge potatoe fan, would give these potatoes two thumbs up!  I made these for a dinner guest recently and I found my husband a couple of days later raiding the fridge.  When questioned, he admited that he was looking for leftover potatoes - a phrase I never thought that I would hear!  No leftovers honey - they are simply too good!

No worries if making smooth (lump free) mashed potatoes are a struggle for you.  These potatoesa are meant to be "smashed", not "mashed" so embrace the lumps and enjoy these potatoes.

One Year Ago: Scor Cake

(recipe from Karen S.)

3 pounds red potatoes
1 1/2 cups half & half
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup fresh parmesan, grated
salt & pepper

Wash and scrub the unpeeled red potatoes and place in a large pot.  Cover with water and generously salt and boil until very fork tender. Drain. In saucepan heat together the half & half and the stick of butter. With potato masher break up the potatoes some, but don’t turn them into mashed potatoes (like one mash per potato). Slowly add the hot cream and butter, folding in. Gently stir in the sour cream, the freshly grated parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Serving Up {Beef}: Homemade Sloppy Joes

My daughter loves sloppy joes and will ask for them regularly, which I am glad of because I don't always think about sloppy joes when I am planning the weeks menu.  This is our go to recipe for sloppy joes and it is really good.  It is the only recipe I use.  Seriously - I stopped looking at sloppy joe recipes after finding this one.  The key is the BBQ sauce.  The result is a smoky, BBQ flavor which seems to satisfy everyone at our home.

(recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe)
printable version

2 Tbs. vegetable oil
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 ½ pounds ground beef
2 Tbs. tomato paste
2/3 cup smoky BBQ sauce (or whatever BBQ sauce is in your fridge)
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until they start to turn translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the beef and cook, stirring and breaking up the meat, until it is finely crumbled, the liquid boils off and the meat begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, and keep stirring until the meat is coated. Add the BBQ sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire, soy sauce, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Cook until the sauce is slightly thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. You can make the sloppy joe up to 2 days in advance and reheat it over low heat or in the microwave.
Serve over buns.