Tag-Archive for ◊ Mother’s Day ◊

31 Jul 2013 Blueberry Heaven

 

Do you ever go into a bakery?  Of COURSE you do!  Do you ever buy a pastry that looks delicious, but then are seriously disappointed in the taste…? And then, to top it off, are you overwhelmed by the amount of  fat you’ve just consumed for something that really wasn’t that all that great?  Me, too 🙁 Do you ever wish, on a weekend morning with your second cup of coffee, for that imagined deliciousness, without all greasy pastry and sugary icing?  Me, too 🙂 Pssssst…  Come here! No, come closer! I am going to tell you how to make a breakfast pastry as delicious as the one you are dreaming of…, and without the load upon load of grease and sugar!

Now. Seriously…, am I your best friend, or what?!

It’s so simple!  You need 2 slices of bread, a bit of cream cheese, and a handful of blueberries. It helps if you have a sandwich maker or a panini press, but if you don’t, use a frying pan and make this Blueberry Heaven just like you would a grilled cheese sandwich.

I found the original recipe here: http://www.fitfromconception.com/2012/06/blueberry-breakfast-grilled-cheese.html  No, I am not pregnant, roflmao.  Neither are any of my children.  I have no idea how I ended up at that website, but I am glad I did.

Blueberry Heaven

[a Stand-in for Fat and Sugar Laden Blueberry Pastries]

For each serving:

  • 2 slices of bread, any kind.  Make it whole wheat if that’s the way you roll.  I use Orrowheat Country Buttermilk Bread.  Cinnamon bread would probably be delicious, as would almost any kind of homemade bread (don’t use homemade rye bread or anything like that!).
  • Plain cream cheese, enough to spread on two slices of bread.
  • a sprinkling of sugar, less than 1/4 tsp, optional
  • a handful of fresh blueberries, about 24 (jam can be substituted)
  • Butter, optional, unless you are using a frying pan

 

  1. Preheat sandwich maker, panini press, or frying pan.
  2. Spread each slice of bread with cream cheese, no measurements here, just coat the slices of bread to your preference. (If you are using a frying pan, spread the other side of the bread with butter)
  3. Sprinkle a bit, and I do mean a bit, less than 1/4 tsp of sugar over the cream cheese, just to sweeten up the cream cheese a little bit. (I’ve made this without the sugar, and it’s just not the same.)
  4. Arrange blueberries on one slice of the cream cheese covered bread.  Use as many as you want, but I think 24 is about perfect.  I like to evenly space the blueberries on the bread so I get an equal number of  blueberries in every bite.
  5. Put the other slice of cream cheese covered bread onto of the blueberries, cream cheese to cream cheese.
  6. Put the sandwich in the press, latch close, and cook for 2 minutes. (If using a frying pan, put the sandwich, butter side down on the preheated frying pan.  When the first side is golden brown, flip, and cook the second side until it is golden brown too.)
  7. Remove sandwich from the press or the pan and let cool a bit, the filing will be mad hot right out of the press. Be careful.
  8. Enjoy! It’s a little slice of heaven, isn’t it?
  9. Repeat.  You’ll want to make one for someone else… 🙂

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today! Aren’t you glad you don’t have to drive over to the Olde Time Bakery for a pastry that will only make you feel badly about yourself? Hooray!!

24 Jun 2013 Crab and Brie Macaroni and Cheese

Crab and brie mac n cheese

Whooooa Nelly!  Crab and Brie Macaroni and Cheese?  Over-the-top decadence in a comfort food?  YEP! And the decadence makes the comfort food even more comforting–like ‘died and gone to heaven’ comforting!  Yet another winning recipe from Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publication “Best Loved Reader Recipes; 125 Winners from 1930 to Today”. (My last post was a recipe for “Peach Iced Tea” inspired by a recipe from this magazine)

If someone is having a hard time, and that sweet “I am going to drop off a casserole” American tradition seems appropriate, THIS is the casserole to take.  I took it to my 120-miles away daughter who is bravely attempting a semester long college Physics course in a six-week summer session, working the 4 PM-midnight shift at Target, and sweltering in the hot central valley heat. I am not saying this Macaroni and Cheese is miraculous or anything, but she did  score 15 points over the class average on her first mid-term. Not dropping off a casserole to a friend-in-need anytime soon?  I’ll bet you’ll be going to a potluck then. Take this!  Want to eat it at home, like we did?  We had it with mixed roasted veggies, but a leafy green salad would be nice too, and a corn muffin.

This casserole is not cheap, but if you shop at Costco for your pound of brie and pound of crab (the only two expensive ingredients), it won’t break the bank and you’ll have made a casserole big enough feed a small army.

Truth be told, I was a bit afraid of this recipe at first, wondering if the Brie would be too strong, and wondering if I would be able to taste the crab over the brie.  Both worries proved needless.  Everything melds together nicely.  Comfortingly nice.  I’ll say it again, because it’s true, ‘died and gone to heaven’ nice!

I changed the recipe just just a bit; one, to conform to the quantities of crab and brie sold at Costco (no leftover bits and no need to buy two big cartons of anything) and two, to make the recipe a bit easier by  substituting panko instead of homemade bread crumbs. I also re-wrote the recipe a bit, making roux is not hard, just follow my instructions: brown the flour and butter (and don’t skimp on the butter), remove the pan from the heat, then vigorously stir in hot milk until sauce is smooth.

Enjoy your comfort food decadance.

Crab and Brie Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1 lb. dried macaroni (small shells or elbows)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 5 tablespoons butter (maybe a bit more)
  • 3 cups milk (I used 2%)
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 13-16 oz. Brie, cubed
  • 16 oz. refrigerated container crabmeat, drained and flaked
  • 1/2 cup Panko or favorite breadcrumbs
  1. Cook macaroni in salted water according to package directions.  (Choose the shortest cooking time since pasta will continue to cook when baked.) Drain and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-in by 13-in casserole dish.
  3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute onion in butter until tender and golden, about 15 minutes.  (Do not skimp on the butter.  You’ll need the full quantity of  butter to make the roux in the step 5.)
  4. Heat 3 cups of milk in microwave until hot (3-5 minutes).
  5. Meanwhile, over medium heat, stir flour into onion and butter mixture.  Stir constantly for 3 minutes (to cook flour and to incorporate butter into the flour).  If mixture is too lumpy or dry, add an additional tablespoon of butter.
  6. Remove hot pan with onion and roux from heat.  Pour in 1 cup of hot milk.  Stir well, and keep stirring-vigorously if needed-until mixture is smooth and lump free.  Add another cup of hot milk, stir and mix again.  When mixture is smooth and lump free, repeat with last cup of milk.
  7. Return pan to medium heat. Add cubed brie to sauce in pan.  Stir constantly until brie is melted and incorporated.  Remove pan from heat when brie has melted and the sauce is smooth once again.
  8. Fold drained crab into cheese sauce then stir in cooked and well-drained macaroni.
  9. Season with salt and pepper.
  10. Pour crab-brie-macaroni mixture into a well buttered 9-in x 13-in casserole dish.
  11. Sprinkle bread crumbs over top of macaroni and cheese.
  12. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until mixture is heated through and bread crumbs have browned.  If breadcrumbs don’t brown, turn on the broiler and broil casserole for a few minutes.
  13. Remove casserole from oven. Let cool 5 – 10 minutes, then serve. In a bowl, while curled up on the couch with a good book or good movie, or on a plate with roasted veggies or a salad, and maybe a small corn muffin. Enjoy.  Feel better. Ace the Physics test!

Leftovers can be reheated in microwave or frozen for a future treat.

Thank you for stopping by my kitchen again today,  I love having you drop by!  Let’s see what else I can make from this magazine. It’s supposed to be on the shelves until July 15, 2013, so if you see it, you might want to pick up a copy.

08 Jun 2013 Peach Iced Tea

2 Peach Iced Tea Vert

I made a Peach Iced Tea! I am so excited that I have to share the recipe with you, even as I work to make it more natural (off to the farmer’s market tomorrow for my first try). I didn’t want you all to have to wait until I got the natural version perfected as this version works fine!  I know there are hot days and summer parties in your near future–graduations, Father’s Day, showers, birthday parties, July 4th celebrations, and BBQ’s, so I know you need this recipe now!

This tea, as is, is not too sweet, and definitely has a pronounced peach flavor; it’s like Snapple Peach Iced Tea, only better!  Make the big-batch peach base to keep in the freezer and you’ll be able to whip up a quart of Peach Iced Tea for yourself and a good book! Or make a gallon or two  for a  summer party in a flash.  I, for one, would love to go to a summer party where there’s something to drink other than bottles of beer, soda and water 🙂 (BTW, I have a recipe posted for Blueberry Lemonade, too, which is also very good!).

The peach part of the tea was inspired by a recipe I found in a “Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publication” entitled , “Best Loved Reader Recipes; 125 Winners from 1930 to Today”.  The recipe in the magazine was for a “Sparkling Peach Punch”, where the base below is mixed with ginger ale or sparkling water.  I tried both versions. The ginger ale version was very sweet, the sparkling water version was given a thumbs up by my daughters, but the iced tea version created by yours truly was the star of the show.

Notes:

#1 Make the base and freeze it in three 1-quart batches or six 2-cup batches.  Each 1-quart peach base will mix with 2 quarts of strong tea to make 12 cups/3 quarts of  Peach Iced Tea, add ice and you have a party!  Each 2-cup peach base mixed with 6 cups of strong tea will make 8 cups/2 quarts of Peach Iced Tea, add ice and a friend and you have a cool and tasty summer drink with which you and  your friend can enjoy a little down time.

#2 Make the tea twice as strong as you would for regular hot tea!  I prefer English or Irish tea bags such as Barry’s Irish Gold, or Yorkshire Gold or PG tips.  Trader Joe’s Irish Breakfast tea is also very good (but, oddly, the English Breakfast tea isn’t very good at all). I use 3 or 4 tea bags to each quart of boiling water.  If I had to use Lipton or Red Rose Tea, I’d use at least six tea bags to a quart of boiling water.  I haven’t experimented with green tea, as I am not a big fan, but I am sure green tea could substitute for the black tea, and of course, decaf tea could be used too, if that is your preference.

#3 I don’t know why there is gelatin in the base, that’s one of the things I am going to experiment with and try to remove, but, I think it probably does add to the overall peachiness of the drink. Yes, yes, yes, one of the first things I will experiment with is using fresh peaches in place of the canned peaches…but until that happens, make this version, it’s yummy!

Peach Iced Tea

For the Peach Base:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 13-ounce package peach-flavored gelatin
  • 1 29-ounce can peach slices in light syrup
  • 4 11 ounce cans peach nectar (find them on the shelves of the grocery store next to the bottled juices)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  1. Combine water, sugar, and gelatin in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir to dissolve the gelatin then remove from heat and allow to cool.
  2. Place undrained peach slices in blender, and blend until smooth.
  3. In a 1 gallon capacity bowl, pan or pitcher combine gelatin mixture, pureed peaches, peach nectar, and lemon juice. Stir to combine.
  4. Divide peach mixture into three 1-quart batches or six 2-cup batches.  Use now (see steps below), or freeze until needed.  According to the original recipe, the base can be frozen for up to 3 months.

To Brew the Tea and Combine With the Peach Flavor:

  • Desired quantity of peach base (remove from freezer an hour or two before needing)
  • Tea bags (Make the tea twice as strong as you would for regular hot tea, see note #2 above)
  • Boiling water (You will need to make 2X the amount of water for the quantity of base you are using, see note #1 above)
  1. Pour the required amount of boiling water over the tea bags and let steep for 3-5 minutes.  Don’t let the tea steep for more than 5 minutes or it will start to get bitter.
  2. Fill a pitcher half full of  ice.  Pour the hot brewed tea over the ice. Discard the tea bags.
  3. Stir the peach base into the iced tea.
  4. Pour into glass and enjoy! ahhhhhhhh

It’s mercilessly HOT here, and I hate hot, but a glass of Peach Iced Tea, a day off, and a good book does make the summer somewhat enjoyable(!)

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  I am going to try some more recipes from this magazine–Calypso Shrimp Skewers, Coconut Salmon Curry, Macaroni and Brie with Crab, Green Beans with Basil and Mint, so stay tuned!

BTW, if you have the magazine, I’ve already tried the “Bagel, Lox and Egg Strata” recipe… The picture looked great.  The make-ahead casserole wasn’t bad, but neither was it great, and I see no reason to make it again.

01 Jun 2013 Lemon Ice Cream

lemon ice cream closer

Bet you’ve never had Lemon Ice Cream!  Not lemon sorbet, or lemon sherbet, or lemon granita  or lemon frozen yogurt,  but lemon ice cream–creamy, rich, sweet, intense  lemon ice cream. Intrigued?  Tempted? I hope so, because I have a simple, oh-so-good recipe for you.  You do have an ice cream maker, right?  I use a “frozen bowl” ice cream maker, which seem to be everywhere for $40-$50 now, but sometimes you can get lucky.  This weekend my friend Sharon bought one at a garage sale for $5, and I saw one at  Savers for $12.99.

Homemade ice cream is very, very rich, and Lemon Ice Cream is no exception.  Serve small scoops (with an option for seconds, of course).  This recipe makes a quart of ice cream, richer and more filling than even the most premium commercial ice creams.  One quart of this ice cream will serve as many people as a half gallon of that store bought stuff.

I like to serve this ice cream on fruit pie, crisps and cobblers. My friend Sharon, whom I mentioned above, bought her ice cream maker after I fed her berry crisp with a scoop of this lemon ice cream.  This ice cream is also fantastic as a filling for an ice-cream sandwich.  To make a truly gourmet ice cream sandwich place a small scoop of Lemon Ice Cream between two ginger cookies, squish the sandwich a bit, square the filling up a bit, maybe roll the sides in a bit of chopped chocolate-milk, semi-sweet or white, then put the little bites of heaven in the freezer to firm up.   My pregnant daughter likes to eat  Lemon Ice Cream “as is” straight from a glass bowl with a long spoon.  She downed the sample above in one breath (at 9 o’clock in the morning one week before her due date!).

This recipe was first published in Gourmet magazine in 1999.  I’ve been making it since May 25, 2003.  Yes, I marked the date on my copy of the recipe, with this note, “Delicious and simple!”  “Simple” was written in caps and underlined twice!

Lemon Ice Cream

1 large lemon (zest plus 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice)

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup cold milk (I usually only have 2% at home, so that’s what I use)

1 cup well chilled heavy cream

 

With a vegetable peeler or microplane remove the zest from the lemon, do NOT include any of that bitter white pith in with the zest.  Put the sugar and the lemon peel in a food processor or blender and whirl until the sugar is finely ground and the lemon zest has been incorporated into the sugar. Add in the milk and the cream (On occasion, I have used 2 cups half-and-half instead of the milk and cream mixture).  Blend just to combine.  Stir in 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice.  Process in ice cream maker for about 20 minutes.  Place soft ice cream in a freezer safe bowl, and set in freezer to harden up a bit (a few hours).  Ice Cream will keep at least a week, if not more, in the freezer but I doubt you will have to test the outer limits.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  Looks like the next few days are going to be scorchers.  Stay cool. Squeeze lemons. Make ice cream. By the way, I think the picture above is one of the best so far for this blog.  My webmaster, Ratty, fixed it up real nice, didn’t she?

06 Mar 2013 White Mint Dark Chocolate Layer Cake

chocmintcake

I know, I know, this is a horrible picture.  Don’t let that put you off though.  This is a delicious cake, one of my best!  The reason this picture is so bad, well, aside from me not being a talented photographer, is that everyone ate the cake!  This is the one piece  that was left, and it was left out all night.  It looks like it, too, doesn’t it? Poor cake.  I really should bake this cake again just to get a better picture of it.  Problem with that is, folks are hollering for the recipe! I served the cake at my Dining For Women meeting and had several requests for the recipe.  I told everyone it was on my website, but this morning  I was shocked to find I hadn’t posted it.  Ever. Oops. What have I been doing with my time?

So here is the recipe, finally!  I found the original  recipe on epicurious.com the year that my twins graduated from high school, in 2009, I believe.  I made it for their high school graduation.  See how good this cake is?  I know exactly when I first tasted it! (I was pretty impressed with myself!)

The only thing I changed was making two layers instead of three (I think three layer cakes are pretentious–and who has three matching layer cake pans anyway?).  Don’t change anything else!  Use peppermint extract, not mint.  AND, one more warning:  stick to the Lindt Mint Chocolate bar, or something very similar. My daughter made this cake one year with Ghirardelli Mint Squares (the ones with the liquid-y centers).  Not a good idea. She made the cake for my birthday cake.  The top layer kept sliding off the bottom layer.  Yes, more than once. The cook took it very hard.  I think there were tears.

There shouldn’t be tears served with this cake.

This cake can be dressed up a bit for Christmas.  Andes has Candy Cane mints now.  Those and a few candy canes or peppermints can adorn the sides/top of the cake or the cake platter. Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses can be melted for the top of each layer, if you want, but they don’t taste nearly as good as the melted Lindt Mint chocolate bar…, and they don’t have the delightful thin crunch that comes from the melted Lindt bar.

Chocolate Mint Layer Cake

For Cake and Chocolate Mint Topping

1 ¾ c. flour
¾ c. unsweetened cocoa powder (use Hershey’s Special Dark)
1 ¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
2 c. sugar
¾ c. butter, at room temperature (1 ½ sticks)
3 eggs
4 tsp. vanilla
1 ½ c. buttermilk
1 large Lindt Mint Chocolate Bar, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour three 9-inch diameter cake pans. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl beat sugar and butter together until light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla. Beat for another 5 minutes. Add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk in 3 additions each, beating just until blended. Divide batter equally between the three cake pans (a generous 2 cups of batter in each pan). Bake in preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or until cake springs back to touch. Remove cake and sprinkle chopped Lindt Mint Chocolate over tops of each layer. When chocolate melts, spread gently evenly across tops. Let cool in pans for 15 minutes then remove to racks to cool completely. Remove parchment paper.

For Creamy Minty Frosting

1 ½ 1-lb. boxes powdered sugar
½ c. butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. peppermint extract (not mint extract, peppermint extract)
¼ c. milk or cream, approximately
1 box Andes Mints, unwrapped and chopped

Combine powdered sugar, butter, extract, and milk/cream in a mixing bowl. Beat until light and fluffy, adding more milk or cream, 1 tsp. at a time, if needed to bring mixture to spreading consistency. Place approximately 1/5th of frosting on top of each layer cake. Carefully smooth frosting on top of mint chocolate covered cake layers. Place frosted layers on top of each other on a serving plate. Use remaining 2/5ths of frosting to carefully frost sides of cake. Sprinkle chopped mints on tops and sides of cake. Let sit for an hour or two before serving.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  If you like what you read, sign up.  You’ll get a three line email letting you know when I post another recipe.  I won’t use your email address for anything else, ever, I promise!

 

23 Feb 2013 Cold Brewed Iced Coffee (for the Yummiest Iced Lattes)

Iced Coffee with Whip

I like coffee.  I loooooove coffee.  Not that hot, black and bitter brewed coffee, but that expensive stuff brewed by the tablespoonful and mixed with steamed and foamed milk.  I have lived with an espresso machine since my ex-husband moved out.  It was a good switch. I am on my fourth one now (fourth espresso machine, not fourth ex-husband!).  Three had to be  retired (again, the three espresso machines not ex-husbands) and one  was fired for making terrible, horrible, no good, very bad lattes.  In addition to hot lattes, from spring through fall I really, really enjoy an Iced Latte in the afternoon, and, for Iced Lattes, with this recipe  no espresso machine is  required! Is there dancing in the aisles?

To make the Cold Brewed Iced Latte base, just get 12 oz of good quality coarse ground coffee beans, 7 cups of water, and a bowl that can be covered.  Are Toffee Nut Iced Coffee’s your little bit of heaven?  Not a problem. Vanilla Iced Coffee’s?  Easy peasy…

My friends and I are loading up my Minnie Winnie (small RV) and heading off to Palm Springs for the Camel & Ostrich Races and the Blessing of the Dates.  (Nooooo, I don’t know why we thought that would be a good idea!!! And no, I am not making this up, both are real events, held yearly, in Palm Springs and, from what I understand, in Arizona, too).  It’s become a tradition for us to load Iced Coffee Base (decaf)  into the Minnie Winnie when we head out.  Iced Lattes every afternoon while touring the US, what a nice way to live!  Don’t be jealous…raise your hand! You can come on the next trip!

Cold Brewed Iced Coffee Concentrate

  • 7 cups water (you could go gourmet and use bottled water…)
  • 12 oz. favorite rich coffee (coarse  or drip grind, decaf or regular)
  1. Pour the entire 12 oz of coffee into a bowl that can be covered (with a lid…or a plate)
  2. Pour the water over the coffee. Stir to make sure all grounds are saturated with water. Cover the bowl.
  3. Let the coffee and water sit, covered and undisturbed, for 24 hours.
  4. Now comes the messy part.  Strain the coffee.  I put a coffee filter in a mesh strainer, balance it on top of a pitcher, and pour cups of the mixture through the filter. The Iced Coffee base collects in the pitcher and  I throw the used coffee grinds away as I go.  You might need to use two coffee filters.  The decanting takes awhile, but it’s definitely worthwhile–messy but easy.
  5. Once all the coffee concentrate has been filtered, put a lid on the pitcher, and store it in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. (Handy Tip: write dates on the container with an erasable marker.  For example:  Made 2/13/13. Good until 3/6/13.  When the container is empty, wash the dates off!  I mark all my plastic containers with erasable markers now.  It’s so handy.)

Iced Latte

  • ¼ cup* of Cold Brewed Iced Coffee Concentrate (above)
  • ¾ cup of milk (If you want, you could experiment with the milk.  I use 1 or 2%, but I have heard of others using coconut milk, almond milk, chocolate milk, and of course soy milk. Some even like evaporated milk with a splash of sweetened condensed milk).
  • 4 or 5 ice cubes
  • Optional: sugar (white or raw), Splenda, Torano Syrup (Vanilla and Toffee Nut are favorites), Bailey’s Irish Creme, Kahlua, 1-3 Tablespoons chocolate syrup, Sprinkles (Trader Joe’s has a “Sugar, Chocolate, Coffee Bean Grinder” that’s fun), a chocolate covered espresso bean or mini chocolate chips…
  • whipped cream and a straw (I think these are musts, but some people are a bit more serious and go without!)
  1. Pour the concentrate into the glass.
  2. Add the milk and stir.
  3. Stir in any optional ingredients (sweetener or syrups)  Stir well.
  4. Plop  in some ice cubes. Stir again.
  5. Top with whipped cream, and sprinkles if you’d like (sprinkles, grated chocolate, a dusting of cocoa powder or cinnamon, or even a squirt of chocolate or caramel syrup), and, of course, a straw.

* ¼ cup of concentrate plus ¾ cup of milk seems to please most of my friends (A LOT!), but I do have one friend who doubles the coffee.  She has ½ cup concentrate and ¾ cup of milk. She’s German.  She likes strong coffee.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today!  You have in your hands one my favorite recipes. I hope you’ll be enjoying warm weather and iced lattes very soon!

P.S  If you’d like to get an email notifying you of the next recipe I post, please enter your email address in the box to the left. Don’t worry!  I won’t abuse your email address (I don’t know how to, for starters…) or use it for anything other than an occasional, short email notification of a new posted recipe.