Friday, July 29, 2016

Blueberry Muffin Cake

Blueberry Muffin Cake 2

So it's blueberry picking time here in Rhode Island. I've been out picking 2 times so far and hauled in 21 pounds!

Last year for the first time in over 25 years I didn't get to go to my favorite local blueberry farm and pick, so this year was extra special. For you local folks, I pick at Macomber's Blueberry Farm in Rice City. His berries are the size the grapes so the pickin' in easy and plentiful.

The first thing I do when I come home with my berries is to get right into baking something delicious with them. I start looking for recipes back in May in anticipation. Once I get them home, I flash freeze my unwashed berries on a cookie sheet for easy, clump-free freezing. I freeze a good amount so we can have cake, pies and muffins all through the cold New England winters. There is nothing like eating berries you picked in July in the middle of winter. Makes me happy.

So I had this recipe mulling around for ages. I wanted to make something that tasted like my To Die For Blueberry Muffins. If you haven't tried these you are missing out! They are THE BEST muffins. Click here for the link.

Blueberry Muffin solo

This cake taste just like a big giant blueberry muffin with streusel topping without the hassle of filling muffin cups. It bakes up nice and high and that crunchy topping is amazing!

Blueberry Muffin Cake

I doubled this recipe. One little 8x8 wasn't going to cut it with 3 men in the house. They could polish that off in one sitting. You won't be sorry if you double it, trust me!

Blueberry Muffin Cake
For the cake:
2 cups flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup butter
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
2 cups fresh blueberries

For the topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, softened

Preheat the oven to 375. Combine all the cake ingredients except blueberries. Using either a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat the batter until just combined. Gently fold in blueberries. Batter will be thick. Spread in greased and floured 8 inch pan. If doubling the recipe use a 9x13 pan.

For the topping:
Combing all the ingredients with a fork until crumbly. Sprinkle over over and bake for 40-45 minutes for 8x8. If doubling, increase time to 50-55 minutes. Test by inserting a toothpick or skewer into the center and it comes out with just a few crumbs on it. You can let it cool completely or eat it while it's still a bit warm.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Little Lemon Drops

Lemon drops

As with everything I'm playing catch up on recipes now.

I made quite a few new recipes while I was on vacation during 4th of July week and I'm just now getting to post them.

I started a love affair with lemon a few years ago after never liking anything lemon flavored (with the exception of lemons. go figure). It all started with the incredibly delicious and ridiculously simple to make Light Lemon Cake.

This cake is always a huge hit no matter where I bring it and ends up being the first thing gobbled up on the dessert table.

Light Lemon Cake

Click here for the recipe.

So with all things lemon on my mind, as it so often is now, I found yet another great lemony recipe, This one in bite size proportions even!

These Little Lemon Drops are not only adorable but very portable. Perfect little bite of sweetness for a party or bridal/baby shower!

Lemon Drops 1

Little Lemon Drops

recipe from Butter with a side of bread
For the cake:
1box lemon cake mix
1 pkg (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups sour cream (I actually didn’t have quite enough sour cream so I used half sour cream/half vanilla yogurt and it worked great!)
1/2 cup milk
For the glaze:
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Zest from one lemon)
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup hot water

Preheat the oven to 325. Coat a mini muffin tins with cooking spray. Beat the ingredients in a large bowl with an electric mixer for several minutes until blended and smooth. Fill each muffin hole about 1/2 full. I used a small cookie scoop and it worked perfectly. Bake for about 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the pan on a wire rack for about 2 minutes and then turn the muffin pan over on a wire rack so that all the muffins are upside down. Cool completely.

Place the wire racks over waxed paper. Beat the glaze ingredients in a medium bowl until smooth. Dip muffins in glaze to coat the bottoms (which are now the tops!) and the sides and let the excess drip off back into the bowl. Place each lemon drop back on the wire racks until the glaze is set. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Chocolate Oatmeal Bars

“Time is the missing ingredient in our recipes.

Most of us are moving too fast for slow cooking”. 

Slow down.

That’s my new mantra for 2016 (even though it's half over!)

Slow down. Take it easy. The trendy…"slow food" is ringing in my head. We are all moving way to fast. Take it from someone who had a year that forced her to slow down. I know I’ve been neglecting the blog a bit, but I can’t apologize. I’m simply enjoying every day. After a year of chemo, surgery and radiation, I’m finally starting to truly feel like my old self again. My energy, which was at its all-time lowest last fall, has finally started to creep back up and I’m able to push myself harder than I have in over a year.

I have some neuropathy in my feet and hands and the medication that I’m on is making every joint in my body ache. I feel like I’m 100 years old when I wake up, but I slowly push myself and get going. I really have no room to complain. My tumor is gone and I finished my last treatment on June 15th! What a year it’s been. My hair is growing back, no more head coverings! I had a nice buzz cut that has now turned into a short hair style and my curls are coming back with a vengeance!

I also had a life changing event recently when I resigned from my job with the same company of 33 years. It was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made, but I needed more time. I needed time to cook and bake and craft and read and enjoy life! To be more connected to everything. I'm not retiring. I'm working for a dear friends company and in doing so, cutting back on the hours I work. So while cancer took many things away from me, it also freed my soul and spirit and made me take a step back and really take a good hard look at my life.

While I laid on the couch for quite a few months over the fall and winter, I daydreamed about my little garden, what I would plant, the new design of my raised bed, how to keep the critters out, what flowers I would plant in the yard. Last year my poor garden was neglected. We only managed to keep a few tomato plants going. I had to let it go. It was the first year time in almost 30 years that I didn’t have my veggie garden. Now my garden is booming. I’m so happy to have dirt under my nails again and to be outside working until dusk (when the weather permits, I am in New England after all).

My hubby built new raised beds for me and filled them with some beautiful soil and compost. We have planted all our veggies and flowers and worked on little projects here and there. I'm taking things at a pace I can handle. Not the pace I usually pushed myself to before.

So, I offer no apologies for my tardiness. I’m relishing in it in fact. The way I feel about just about everything has changed. So, when I’m here I’m here which might just be a little more often now. When I have something good to share, you guys will be the first to know. When I’m not here, please know that I’m digging in the dirt, or sitting under the gazebo reading a book, or picking veggies and dreaming up recipes to share with you all.

As always I want to share something delicious with you. I made these Chocolate Oatmeal Bars many months ago. Almost forgot about them until I came across the photos I took of them. These were so delicious and devoured quickly by my men. I really should have double the recipe. I will next time.

Take it slow friends.

Fudge filled oatmeal bars 1

Chocolate Oatmeal Bars
For Crust and Topping:
1 1/3 cups oatmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter- melted

For Filling:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
4 tablespoons butter
3 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a 8x8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray the foil with cooking spray. Overhang the edges of the foil to lift the bars easier from the pan when finished cooking.

Combine flour, oats, 1 cup of light brown sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, add 10 1/2 tablespoons melted butter and stir to combine. Press half of mixture firmly into the pan and bake about 8 minutes, cool.

To make the filling, melt the butter and chocolate chips together and stir until it’s smooth.
Whisk together flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Whisk eggs into cooled chocolate mixture, and then stir in flour mixture. Pour chocolate filling over cooled crust and top with remaining oatmeal mixture.
Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely before serving.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Pretzel Toffee

Pretzel Toffee

Oh. My. Word.

This pretzel toffee is some seriously addictive stuff. It is so amazingly delicious. Thank goodness I had a house full of boys present when I made this cause I don't believe I could have trusted myself alone in the house with a batch of this stuff.

The toffee doesn't come out hard as a rock either. I've had some toffees that almost crack your teeth. This recipe does not do that.

Not only is it good, it's really easy to make. You have to invest 10 minutes in stirring the toffee mixture but after that it's just pouring it on the pretzels and then covering it with chocolate chips.

A few notes while making this:

  • Don't worry if your toffee mixture looks like it's separating. I cooked it 10 minutes and then whisked furiously the last 30 seconds before I poured it over the pretzels. If the butter pools a bit don't worry about that either.
  • I bought the Snyder Pretzel Snaps and filled half a sheet pan up with them. The Snaps work really well because all the toffee gets trapped in the grids of the pretzel. Heaven!
  • You can use dark of milk chocolate chips. Either one will work. I used dark when I made this batch.
  • Put your finished product in the fridge to firm up, then just break it into pieces to serve.
  • If you want to watch a video on how to make the toffee check out Jen's video from Jen's Favorite Cookies. The original recipe is from her site. Click here.

Pretzel Toffee 1

Pretzel Toffee
Original recipe from Jen's Favorite Cookies
Printable Recipe
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 cups pretzel pieces (I used Synder’s Pretzel Snaps* see note)
1 cup chocolate chips

In a heavy saucepan, melt butter. Add sugar, and stir to dissolve. Continue cooking and stirring over medium high heat until it is the color of a brown paper bag, about 7-10 minutes. (The mixture may separate and look clumped or curdled, and this is fine. The color is a more important indicator than the texture.)

Prepare a sheet pan (I recommend a quarter sheet pan) by lining with parchment paper or a silicone liner, or by generously buttering. Cover pan in a single layer of pretzels. Pour cooked candy onto pretzels as soon as it reaches the desired color.

Immediately top with chocolate chips. Let chips melt for a few minutes, then use a knife to spread like frosting. Let candy cool by chilling in fridge for about an hour. Use a large knife to break into pieces.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

*Note - I bought the Snyder Pretzel Snaps and filled half a sheet pan up with them. The snaps work really well because all the toffee gets trapped in the grids of the pretzel.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Sausage and Barley Soup

German Sausage and Barley Soup

It was snowing here in Rhode Island Monday! Yes, you read that right, it's was snowing in April.

I love the snow, I really do love it but it's spring and this is crazy!

Nothing quite hits the spot like a big bowl of soup when it's cold and snowy.

If you haven't cooked barley before please note that it's very starchy and you shouldn't cook it in the soup or you will end up with a really thick, gooey soup. I always cook it separate and add it in later. It's one of my favorite things to add to soup!

This is one of those throw a little of this and that in and make a soup you like soups.

I really love these kind of soups. Perfect for a day when you need a belly warmer.

German Sausage and Barley Soup 2

Sausage and Barley Soup
recipe from Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary
6 slices of bacon, cut into big chunks
14 oz. Polish Kielbasa sausage, sliced
3 tablespoons of butter, if necessary
1 cup (2 leeks) chopped leeks (white and light green parts only)
3 carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 pound fingerling potatoes, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup pearl barley
½ tsp paprika
8 to 10 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped parsley to garnish

In a large dutch oven, over medium high heat, cook the bacon until browned and crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove and reserve it. Boil the barley in another pot with some salt. Cook until tender. This will take about 30 - 40 minutes to become tender.

Add 3 tablespoons of butter to the dutch oven, lower the heat to medium and sauté the leeks, carrots and celery until tender. Add in the garlic, the Italian seasoning, paprika, and salt and pepper. Add the chicken broth and potatoes and bring the soup to a boil. Once it boils, lower the heat to low, add in the sliced sausage, bacon and barley, cover and simmer for 35 to 45 minutes.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Carrot Cake Breakfast Bread

Carrot cake bread 1

It's snowing here in Rhode Island as I type this. Snow on the first day of Spring. I was up with the chickens and I have to say, for someone like me that loves the white stuff, it made me smile first thing this morning.

Because Easter is just around the corner I'm bringing you another carrot recipe. This one for Carrot Cake Breakfast Bread.

I over anticipated how many carrots I needed for my Carrot Cake and bought 2 huge bags. I needed to use them up, so I found another recipe that used carrots.

This bread was fantastic. Not to carrot cakey, not too sweet. In face I used Truvia Baking Blend instead of sugar to make it a tad bit healthier. It was perfect.

Now you know what to do with all those carrots that the Easter bunny couldn't eat.

Happy Spring everyone!

Carrot cake bread

Carrot Cake Breakfast Bread
recipe from The Seasoned Mom
¾ cup grated carrot (about 2 medium carrots)
⅓ cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
½ cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
¾ cup all purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
½ teaspoons baking soda
⅛ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
½ cup chopped pecans (optional)
½ cup golden raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with nonstick spray. In a large mixing bowl, combine grated carrots, oil, applesauce, egg and vanilla. Mix thoroughly.

Beat sugars into the mix until creamed. Add flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Mix until blended. Stir in nuts and raisins if using. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake for about 45 minutes, or until bread is brown and springs back when gently pressed in the middle.

Remove bread from pan and cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Carrot Cake Bars

Carrot Cake Bars 3

You know I'm back when I have my Easter menu done in February. Yes, I was done with the menu and began testing out recipes in February this year. Back to my usual OCD self and it feels great!! So I tested out a few desserts because you don't want to serve your guests something that could potentially be a flop right? Well this one did not flop!

Do I have an Easter dessert for you!

I'm not sure why but Easter always meant carrot cake or coconut cake for me (in the shape of a lamb of course!) I'm sure the carrot cake thing somehow refers back to the Easter bunny and I'm sure there is some story to go along with it, but I'm too lazy to look!

So I wanted to make a carrot cake for Easter but then I found these Carrot Cake Bars and they seemed easier than making the traditional carrot cake so I made a little trial run a few weeks ago.

I don't think I'll ever make another traditional carrot cake again. This sheet cake (cause that's what it really is), is so easy to throw together and bakes up in under an half hour. What I love about it is you get the perfect ratio of cake to frosting. So delicious!

You can add in some raisins if you'd like. I think a half cup would work. I omitted them though.

Carrot Cake Bars 2

Carrot Cake Bars
Original recipe from Mom on Timeout
1¼ cups unsweetened applesauce
2 cups sugar
3 eggs

2 cups flour
1 teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups grated carrots (about 3 medium carrots)
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 - 8oz can Dole crushed pineapple - DO NOT drain {use the pineapple in JUICE not syrup}

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 stick butter (softened)
8 oz cream cheese (softened)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 lb powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine #1 ingredients. Add #2 ingredients. Stir in #3 ingredients. Pour into a lightly greased or parchment lined 10x15-inch jelly roll pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely!

For the frosting:
Beat the butter and cream cheese until nice and fluffy. Add in the vanilla and powdered sugar and beat until nice and smooth. Spread on top of the cooled cake bars. Store leftovers in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days.