Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Marshmallows

Happy holidays!

In our home, the holidays begin when Christmas containers are pulled out of the garage. This year it was the day after Thanksgiving, and last year it was the week after Halloween...
Heavily frosted pavement and lawns look like 'they've been squished with softy marshmallows' according to an observant four year old. We have learned when the sound of fog horns resonate thru Commencement Bay, it is a foggy and more than likely chilly morning. Chilly mornings and evenings lend themselves to hot cocoa, and of course, the precious accompaniment of marshmallows. Inspired by a bright child, it was time to make the 'mallows.
Very worthwhile, indeed! Once you make them, you may never revert to the 'store packages of marshmallows' ever again. While they may be convenient and easy to buy, give homemade marshmallows a will be amazed!

If Heaven could be consumed piece by piece, this is your palate's path to enlightenment!

FYI: These guys behave just like the 'store boughts'. They melt beautifully and the heavy vanilla scent really adds dimension to cereal treats. I LOVE fire and when exposed to a flame, they toast slowly due to the powdered sugar coating, then quickly heat thru to a hot marshmallow cream...mmmm!
Credit: I followed a few marshmallow recipes and settled on the most cohesive, comprehendible, and most delicious of them all. It was posted via It truly was the most fantastic!

per Deb at, December 1998

Makes about 96 1-inch cubed marshmallows

About 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 1/2 envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water, divided
2 cups granulated sugar (cane sugar worked just fine)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites or reconstituted powdered egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla
(alternately: 1/2 of a scraped vanilla bean, 2 teaspoons almond or peppermint extract or maybe even some food coloring for tinting)

Oil bottom and sides of a 13- by 9- by 2-inch rectangular metal baking pan and dust bottom and sides with some confectioners’ sugar.

In bowl of a standing electric mixer or in a large bowl sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold cold water, and let stand to soften.

In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, second 1/2 cup of cold water, and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved.
Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F, about 12 minutes.
Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.
With standing or a hand-held electric mixer beat mixture on high speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about six minutes if using standing mixer or about 10 minutes if using hand-held mixer.

In separate medium bowl with cleaned beaters beat egg whites (or reconstituted powdered whites) until they just hold stiff peaks.
Beat whites and vanilla (or your choice of flavoring) into sugar mixture until just combined.
Pour mixture into baking pan and don’t panic if you can not get it all out*.
Sift 1/4 cup confectioners sugar evenly over top.
Chill marshmallow, uncovered, until firm, at least three hours, and up to one day*.

Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board. Lifting up one corner of inverted pan, with fingers loosen marshmallow and ease onto cutting board.
With a large knife trim edges of marshmallow and cut marshmallow into roughly one-inch cubes.
Sift remaining confectioners’ sugar back into your now-empty baking pan, and roll the marshmallows through it, on all six sides, before shaking off the excess and storing.

Marshmallows keep in an airtight container at cool room temperature 1 week*.

* Refrigerated 'mallows keep for a few weeks.
* Raw egg whites were an issue for me, so I used pasturized egg whites from the carton. They can be found in the dairy case.
* Spraying your spatula, mixing bowl, and other utensils with cooking oil spray, aids in preventing a seriously catastrophic sticky mess. (It was during one of these tries that I learned I have hand claustrophobia.) If all of the 'mallow mixture does not make it into your pan, it's ok.
* Warm water is your friend
* I used a 13"x 17"x 1" jelly roll pan, and cut marshmallows with a greased square fluted pasta cutter. It yielded petite 'mallows.
* Others have used deeper pans, resulting in taller more substantial marshmallows.
* They can be cut with a greased knife, pasta cutter, pizza cutter, pastry wheels, etc...
* Get extra creative and pipe them into different shapes--marshmallow people, hearts, letters, etc...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Chai Latte

I must admit I was quite apprehensive to let go of Autumn. When the fiery hues gave way to bare branches, I knew it was timeto let go. In my corner of the Northwest, we don't receive anywhere near the amount of snow other areas get. Last year, it was wonderous! I hope it is the same again, I love winter! I feel it's my element...most of the time, that is. I miss utilizing my 'polar cat driving skills', throwing snowballs, and building snow families. My list can go on and on...I must not forget the serious layering, wearing cumbersome snow gear, salting walkways...I even miss the nuances of winter!

In celebration of the suddenly chilly plunge in temperatures, Chai Latte is the drink that warms the Heart and Soul! Softly spicy, smooth, and subtley sexy...

As much as I enjoy the winter, my Heart goes out to those who minimally have, or do not have the means to stay out of the harsh and cold wintery weather

Chai Latte
minimally adapted from Taste of Home

2 individual tea bags
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1/2 evaporated milk
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons refrigerated French vanilla nondairy creamer
Whipped topping and ground nutmeg, optional
Place the tea bags, cinnamon, ginger and allspice in the coffee filter of a drip coffeemaker.
Add water; brew according to manufacturer's directions.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the milk, brown sugar and creamer. Stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved.
Pour milk mixture into mugs; stir in tea.
Add whipped topping and sprinkle with nutmeg if desired.
Yield: 2 servings.

* Brown sugar is fairly 'heavy' and tends to sink.
* Stir or whisk constantly to dissolve sugar, otherwise you will consume crunchy tea
* Recipe can easily be tripled or made in mass quanties
* I may reduce the ginger by a smidgen next time, as my 4 year old mentioned it was a 'little too spicy'

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pumpkin Waffles

Pumpkin breakfast food...mmm, pumpkin waffles to be exact!
Usually, pumpkin breakfast food means sneaking pumpkin pie with coffee, but not this time! Pumpkin waffles can be made the night before and heated in the morning either in the toaster or in the oven en mass. They freeze well, too!
Now, Thanksgiving day breakfast can consist of more than nibbles and samples of Thanksgiving fare!
My four year old foodie mentioned he wanted these waffles at the Thanksgiving table as well. He wants them for Thanksgiving breakfast, Thanksgiving lunch and Thanksgiving dinner....enough said.
These waffles are that good!

Pumpkin Waffles
adapted from ratherbeswimmin',
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon apple juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup cooked pumpkin or canned pumpkin
2 tablespoons canola oil

Whisk dry ingredients in a bowl, set aside.
In another bowl, combine eggs, milks, juice, vanilla extract pumpkin, and oil.
Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.*
Batter wil be thick and smooth.
Pour onto a hot greased waffle maker.
Cook according to manufacturer's directions.
Makes 9 waffles

Pour onto a hot greased griddle.
Turn when bubbles form on top of pancakes.
Cook until second side is golden.

* The original recipe was for pumpkin pancakes, but the batter can be used interchangeably.
* Over whisking will yield touch waffles/pancakes
* We used maple syrup and margarine on our waffles.
* This recipe came with a Hot Cider Syrup recipe, tho we did not try it, I'll post it for those who want to try a new waffle/pancake topper!
* Let me know how it turned out for you!
Hot Cider Syrup
by ratherbeswimmin',

3/4 cup apple cider
1/2 cup packed
brown sugar
1/2 cup
corn syrup
2 tablespoons
butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon
lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon
ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon
ground nutmeg

In a saucepan, combine the syrup ingredients.
Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until slightly thickened.
Let stand for 30 minutes before serving

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hot Toddies

Autumn in the Pacific Northwest lends itself to forecasts of rain, rain, rain. However, it really all depends in what area you live. We take advantage of 'sun'/cloud breaks, and enjoy our time outdoors, as in the beach. We spend more time there during the off seasons, than in the summer...go figure! During our walk we see plenty of seals popping their heads out of the water, usually vocal seagulls quietly bobbing in the bay, and the remnants of autumn leaves clinging onto branches. Looking up, a sparse cover of orange and yellow leaves halfheartedly hide tree limbs intimately entwined...

A crisp autumn day at the beach sends us home yearning for hot drinks. J., a hot apple cider, me an adult oriented cider concoction. I am not aware if there is a drink like this already out there, but apple cider can be taken to a new level with some '43', a vanilla liqueur. It is transformed into Carmel Apple in a cup. Cold or hot, it is mesmerizing!

I was in the mode of experimentation, so it didn't stop there!

Yesterday, I received a bag of Thanksgiving blend as a gift and reading the write up, it was described as being full bodied and herbal...herbal?
I had to try it! I expected a pumpkin spice after note or something along those lines. Wrong. It was actually medium bodied with a slightly sweet touch at the end. It made for a good afternoon pick me up...of course by no means plain coffee! I added flavored creamer, Parisian Almond Creme with some cinnamon schnapps. Parisian Almond Creme is more cinnamon creme with almond essence, according to my palate. I figured cinnamon schnapps would be the perfect accessory. I tend to prefer my drinks a bit on the worthwhile side, as in heavy handed, so next time I think I'll add a little more kick!


Caramel Apple
* adjustable to suit your taste

Apple juice
43 liqueur

Heat apple juice
Add 43
Melt into your seat and enjoy!

Coffee in a Schnapp

Brewed Thanksgiving blend coffee
Parisian Almond Creme flavored creamer
Cinnamon schnapps

Add creamer and schnapps to coffee
Feel the liquid joy!

*I'm positive the coffee could be substituted with your favorite blend

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pear Tart

'Look, mama! Autumn kissed the leaves!', exclaimed my observant child. Evening walks lend themselves a view long forgotten, when taking them with a child. Colorful red orange hues on maple trees, newly labeled as 'autumn kissed'...that's one to remember!

Recently, my lovely neighbors dropped off a couple of large bags of plums and pears--mmm, another sign of autumn. After 'tiring' of several pears a day for what felt like forever and three days, I decided it was time to do more with them. I found a pretty tempting tart at This gal, by the way, is amazing! The food styling/ photography, the recipes, the humor...fantastic!

I made her frangipane tart, but to my dismay, due to constant distractions and over flopped. Big time. With another notch of culinary disaster under my belt, I took the extra tart dough and tried again. This time I made a sour cream based filling and added Helene's honey roasted pears on top.
Wow! The tart was impressive, somewhat. My son gasped and said, 'Mama, it's sooo purdy! I don't want it. It's too honey-y and pear-y'. A self proclaimed food critic, who doesn't need to taste it in order to come to a conclusion...and so, we move on. It was not only pleasing to the eye, but also to the palate!

The sour cream base is quite versatile. It can be altered to accommodate the moment, as well as seasonal fruit!

Pear Tart
Sable dough and honey roasted apples
by Helene Dujardin,

Sable Dough
1 stick (115 gr) butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (93 gr) powdered sugar
1 large egg
1 1 /2 cups (188gr) flour
2 tablespoons (20 gr) cornstarch (makes for a lighter crumb)
pinch of salt

In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add the egg and mix until combined.
Add the flour, cornstarch and salt and mix briefly to incorporate.
Dump the whole mixture onto a lightly floured board and gather the dough into a smooth ball. Do not work the dough while in the mixer or it will toughen up. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
When the dough is nice and cold, roll it out on a lightly floured board or in between the sheets of plastic. You will need half the amount of dough to make the tartelettes.
The other half can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days or frozen, well wrapped for up to 3 months.
Cut out rounds with a 3 inch pastry ring. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes. Let cool

Honey Roasted Apples:

4 medium apples
1/2 cup honey
Preheat oven to 350F.
Peel core and cut the apples in thin slices.
Lay them on a couple of parchment paper lined baking sheets and drizzle at will with the honey.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden. Let cool
Sour Cream Filling
adapted from Tanya Belt,
3/4 cup sugar *
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 pinch salt
1 egg, beaten
1 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, flour, spices, and salt.
Add sour cream, mix until smooth.
Beat in egg, and combine until smooth.
Pour filling into cooled prebaked tart shell.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until knife inserted comes out clean.
Let cool.
Arrange roasted pears on firm and set filling.
Store in refrigerator, covered.

*Pears and apples have been used interchangably. I roasted pears, under the premise of Helene's honey roasted apple recipe.
* I made an 8 inch tart and increased baking time.
* I will definitely decrease the sugar in the filling, due to the sweetness of the pears and honey.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Simple Biscuits

With intermittent chilly mornings and the scent of autumn in the air, busy weekday mornings yield a need to slowdown and sometimes pause on weekends. Saturday morning equals biscuits, to be enjoyed with jam, creamy country gravy, and even alone! Mmmmm....a great way to end the week and prepare for the week ahead!
This anytime biscuit recipe is a bit on the simple side, no rolling, no cutting, no chilling. Drop biscuits are the easy way to go! Let go of your fears and let go of the Pillsbury dough boy's hand, you can do this all by yourself or with the help of curious little hands! Not only will you be filled with pride, but your body will also thank you for not filling it with harmful preservatives!

I came across this recipe via Cook's Illustrated. With the recipe, came a magnificent tutorial on the need for clumped butter in the batter. When your butter clumps, it's a good thing! You're on the right path, so keep going!
Simple Biscuits
adapted from Cooks Illustrated, December 2007

2 cups (10 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder, aluminum free
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup cold buttermilk
1/4 cup cold milk
8 tablespoons margarine, melted and slightly cooled
plus 2 tablespoons melted margarine for brushing biscuit tops

Preheat oven to 475 degrees

Whisk dry ingredients, first 5 ingredients, together in a large bowl, set aside.
Combine buttermilk and 8 tablespoons of melted margarine, stirring until large clumps form.
Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula just until combined and batter pulls away from sides of bowl.
Using a greased ice cream scoop or greased 1/4 cup dry measuring cup scoop an equal and level amount of batter onto either a parchment or aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Space biscuits about 1 1/2 inches apart.
Bake until tops are golden brown and crisp, 12-14 minutes.
Brush biscuit tops with remaining melted margarine.
Cool on wire rack, serve warm.
Makes one dozen biscuits. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Reheat in a 300 degree oven for about 10 minutes, for best results.

* It's very easy to over mix. Over mixing will result in a tough heavy biscuit
* You can omit 1/4 cup milk, I found it made the biscuit heavy and pleasingly dense. That is how the original was written, but I wanted a lighter result.
* Adding 1tsp onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese to dry ingredients and sprinkling with salt and old bay seasoning on baked tops, renders a close cousin to a biscuit served at a certain restaurant known for it's crustacean logo.
* Other variations include adding bacon and cheddar cheese, or rosemary and parmigiana cheese to name a few.
* Amend to your taste and get creative!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

My Helper

Here are some examples of my son's ideas for the pumpkin mousse photos

Pumpkin Mousse

Autumn's on it's way...I can smell it in the early morning when I go to bed, and later in the early morning when I rise! The leaves are beginning their ascent into the height of nature's fiery trail. I am so excited! Yes, Autumn is one of my favorite seasons.

Transitions are slowly under way, not only with the seasons, but with Life. My son started preschool and his transition from little boy to big boy has begun. Having my little one with me for four years, I grew accustomed to having my shadow with me wherever I went. Mornings are now mine. Though I have reclaimed them, it feels strange, sometimes empty, and a bit lonely. I know he will only be away for a few hours, and we get to share the rest of the day together, but you know, four years is a long time. Reacquainting and reclaiming myself as a woman and as an individual will take some time.
My transition has begun.

On a lighter note, my apologies to my readers for not posting. There are no excuses and fortunately no major horrific events that prevented me from doing so! I enjoyed the remainder of summer by taking camel rides, going to the state fair, farmers markets, cooking out, and complaining that it was too hot. There you go, honesty, that's what it's all about!

I leave you with a pumpkin mousse recipe I found and tried via and of course, made some changes along the way. It was creamy, fluffy, yet rich without that feeling of heaviness and guilt. Perhaps one could say it's an adultified pumpkin pudding. I can see this being a great filling for a pumpkin mousse pie! Diana, this one's for you!
Pumpkin Mousse
adapted from
1⁄4 cup dark rum
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
4 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 cup heavy cream

Bring a saucepan of water to a simmer.
Pour rum into a small, heat-proof bowl, then sprinkle in the gelatin.
Place bowl in a pot and pour simmering water in the pan, reaching to half the height of the bowl.
Stir to dissolve the gelatin, remove bowl from heat and cool to room temperature.
As the gelatin cools, Place a large mixing bowl over pot of simmering water, constantly beat eggs until thick and reaches 160 degrees. *Do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water.
Gradually beat in the sugar and continue until the mixture is lemon colored and sugar dissolved, about 5 minutes.
Stir in pumpkin and spices, add gelatin mixture.
In a separate bowl, using clean beaters, whip the cream until stiff.**
Gently fold it into the pumpkin mixture.
Refrigerate mousse for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
Makes 6 servings. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator for 2-3 days.

* If bowl is partially submerged you will create scrambled eggs due to the higher heat at the bottom of the bowl
**Over whipping heavy cream will yield butter, you may want to save that act for pumpkin butter
***I used light rum, instead of dark, it was all I had on hand--not in my hands, just in case you were wondering!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Blueberry Cake

Tacoma's Tuesday afternoon farmers market was a goldmine! It yielded a beautiful bounty of brightly colored berries, tempting tomatoes, and plenty of tiny pretty potatoes. We brought home blueberries, of course, fingerling potatoes--of which the name grossed out J., and other assorted goodies. Bacon flavored hummus by Sound Bites was claimed by me, and a delicious creamy honey lemon goat cheese was claimed by J. He LOVES goat cheese! He's expressed his affinity for it before, but the honey lemon combo was what won his heart and tummy over. I'm slowly learning to appreciate it, so I give him a 'cheesy gold star'. When we saw the berry stand, he quickly spotted the berries and loudly declared, 'we get these, mama, for my blueberry breakfast cake.' How could anyone resist those beautiful brown eyes, the quick thinking, and little hands holding a half pint of breathtaking blueberries?
That night I made his blueberry breakfast cake. It really is an anytime cake.
It's simple to prepare and quite unpretentious. It's not too sweet, has fruit, and I so do not feel guilty for serving this for breakfast with a cup of milk! Perfect!

Blueberry Cake
adapted from Taste of Home

1/3 unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice, orange juice works well
1 teaspoon zest
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
8 ounces sour cream
1 cup blueberries, preferably fresh
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep pan of choice with a light coating of cooking spray or butter.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, mix sugar and zest, until well incorporated and aromatic. Add butter and combine to sugar mixture. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
Add whisked flour mixture, alternately adding sour cream.
At this point, the cake batter is super thick. Evenly spread batter into pan.
Very gently, fold in blueberries.
(I found it was easier this way, instead of risking blueberry bleed in the transfer of the batter.)
Bake for about 40-50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Baking time may need to be altered depending on size of pan.
Let cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Allow cake to cool completely. Dust with confectioners sugar

* The original recipe was a lowfat lackluster caloric waste. Using whole eggs, regular sour cream, and adding the zest and juice gave it a boost in flavor and visual appeal--a fluffy and tasty well risen cake.
* I have tried both lemon and orange juice/zest. Lemon was my favorite.
* I 've also tried frozen berries and it was a relative disaster. The frozen berries made the cake very dense and had a tendency to fiercely stick together.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Mandarin Orange Frozen Yogurt

Hot, hot, hot! This heat is beautifully unbelievable! I appreciate the change, but I do not wish to have it last any longer. As of now, I welcome and am ready for my daytime highs of 65 degrees! Enough said about mother nature's offerings...
To combat the heat, I looked to divine inspiration for something different, creamy, cold, and satisfying. As I waited for an idea to come, I perused the pantry and fridge. Nothing, no ideas. The day came and went, and nothing. Wednesday morning, and it arrived--mandarin orange chunks, in a creamy yogurt sweetened with honey and spiced with cardamom.
Hmmmm, worth a try...I mean, I had to try it. I asked for inspiration, and was given inspiration. I researched some possibilites to increase the creaminess without having to add heavy cream, whole milk, or other sinfully delicious fatty necessaries. One common thread I encountered was using whole milk yogurt, and draining the extra moisture for at least 6 hrs. I tried it, and I liked it!
The end product...a trifecta of exotic summery bliss!

Mandarin Orange Frozen Yogurt

16 ounces plain whole milk yogurt
1/2 cup - 3/4 cup honey
1 cup mandarin oranges, canned and drained
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon orange zest

Pour yogurt into a cheesecloth lined colander and cover with cloth. Let drain at least 6 hours to overnight. This will permit extra moisture to drain, leaving you with a concentrated creamy and dense whey.
Carefully pull up cloth and place yogurt into a medium bowl.
Add honey, cardamom, and zest. Stir. Add oranges. Mix until well combined.
Let mixture rest for several hours to overnight, to infuse flavors.
Place in freezer for several hours until desired consistency.
Makes about 3-4 cups.
* I roughly chopped oranges. If you'd like an uninterrupted oranginess, puree oranges and remaining ingredients.
* I churned yogurt mixture in an ice cream maker for about 45 minutes, and had a rather tough time getting it to a firmer consistancy. After freezing it for a couple of hours it was soft, but firmer

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Good Morning!

"Mama, my tummy is hungry for blueberry muffins with sprinkles".
Good morning to you too, my little one! What a lovely wake up call at 5:43am. A request for blueberry muffins with sprinkles...SPRINKLES? I know many who love the look of sprinkles, but I do not do sprinkles. I don't have any sprinkles. Where did he get the idea for sprinkles?

After my first cup of coffee and halfway into the muffin batter, I asked my child, 'what sprinkles do you want on your muffins, honey?' He calmly replied, 'the white ones, the crumbs ones. I like crumbs, mama.'
Now that made more sense, a crumb topping. Kinda sophisticated for a 4 year old, if you ask me. I have not made a blueberry muffin with crumb topping. Pumpkin, cinnamon, apple muffins, yes...blueberry, no. I quickly filtered thru my recipes, both hard copy and bookmarked.

Finally, I settled on a light slightly crunchy crumb topping. The end product, a wonderfully aromatic way to say, 'good morning' as well as a fluffy, tasty, pretty blueberry muffin. I knew it was a hit when I heard, 'I love my mama's muffins!'
What a way to start the day!

I found this wonderful recipe for blueberry muffins about 2 years ago at I halved the recipe, which yielded 12 standard sized muffins, and used frozen lemon zest. ( I find it so very painful to throw away lemon, lime, and orange peels away....all those precious oils can't be wasted! It's sacrilege) The recipe was practically followed as written. It is a solid recipe!

*I must add that you must make sure NOT to over mix batter and make sure your baking powder has not expired--6 months maximum from opening date.
I can guarantee you, you will have inedible blueberry scented bricks.

Blueberry Muffins
(posted as halved from the original)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
3/4 cup plain yogurt ( I used whole milk plain yogurt)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

3/4 cup blueberries
1/2 tablespoon flour ( if using defrosted frozen blueberries)

"Sprinkles"/Crumb Topping:
Martha Stewart Living, May 2009
2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 - 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
pinch of salt

Adjust the oven rack to the middle part of the oven. Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a medium bowl stir sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Add cold butter using fingertips, fork, or pastry blender. Manipulate mix until it resembles crumbs. Set aside.
(You may need to add more flour, depending on weather/moisture, and temperature)

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar, and lemon zest beating until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated after each one.
Beat in one half of the dry ingredients until just incorporated. Beat in one third of the yogurt. Beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients. Beat in a second third of the yogurt. Beat in the remaining dry ingredients and then the remaining yogurt. (At this point your batter will look fluffy)
Again be careful to beat until just incorporated. Do not over beat.
Fold in the berries.
If you are using frozen berries, defrost them first, drain the excess liquid, and then coat them in a light dusting of flour. *

Use a standard 12-muffin muffin pan. Coat each muffin cup lightly with olive oil or grapeseed oil using a pastry brush, or with a little butter. Or use one of those convenient vegetable oil sprays.**
Distribute the muffin dough equally among the cups, as with crumb topping. Bake until muffins and topping are a light golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Test with a long toothpick to make sure the center of the muffins are done.
Set on wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Remove muffins from the tin and serve slightly warm.

*I used frozen berries. I did not rinse or flour, but rather quickly folded in the berries to prevent them from sticking to eachother and to prevent them from wanting to sink to the bottom.

**I used paper muffin liners and sprayed the inside of the liner

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Turkish Salad

Summer invokes something deep within that makes me crave pepper salads, couscous, tabbouleh, pita, tzaziki, hummus...just to name a few cravings. There's something oddly comforting and familiar about these lovely foods! Even my choice of music has been affected. The Gipsy Kings and I recently have become close friends again, you know, have coffee together first thing in the morning...yeah, we're kinda tight like that...

A little over ten years ago, I came across a cook book called 'Taste of the Middle East' by Soheila Kimberley. It is filled of stunning photography. Each photo's tantalizing as it is inspiring! The simplicity of most dishes is unbelievable. The layered flavors and textures are always captivating and hold my palate's interest time and time again.

One of my favorite salads from this book is Turkish Salad. Because I'm unable to follow directions, I tweak the recipe to the liking of the moment. Tweak as you wish and let me know, too!
I got a kick out of Deb's post, from We must be riding the same wave....

Turkish Salad
liberally adapted from Soheila Kimberley's 'Taste of the Middle East'

1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
1/3 cup sweet onion
2 cups fresh baby spinach,
green olives, pimento stuffed, to garnish

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed or minced
1 tablespoon mint
salt and pepper, to taste

Seed peppers and slice into thin strips
Finely chop onion
Lightly toss in a bowl

Mix olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, mint, salt, and pepper

Pour dressing over peppers and onion
If serving immediately add spinach to peppers and onion.
Garnish with pimento stuffed green olives

*Stores well in a tightly sealed bowl for several days refrigerated, without spinach. Bring to room temperature before serving
* The dressing works well as a chicken marinade, too
* Using mini peppers adds a slight sweetness to the salad
* Make a meal of it with couscous and mint iced tea

Friday, June 19, 2009

Chocolate Pudding Pops

Finally, a moment to reflect and fire up some brain cells! So now that the weather around here is again mild and so to my liking--upper 60's, lower 70's, with lovely overcast, and cool evenings--I feel at ease. Of course after the 'heat wave', we made chocolate pudding pops. I was surprised I had forgotten what simple pleasure resided in a pudding pop--such creamy, chocolatey, heavenly goodness...mmmm, just a moment...I have brain freeze.

Pudding pops are quite versatile with endless possibilities and kid friendly--not only to enjoy but to help make as son had the idea to add some chips, 'the brown chocolate chips'. It was perfect! I was struggling with how to punch up the chocolatey flavor, and that was the perfect solution! He has a way with timing and innocently great ideas.
Next, I 'll need to try vanilla pudding pops with strawberries and white chocolate chips...

Update: I replaced half of milk with 1 cup evaporated milk, omited vanilla, added 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa..and KAPAO! Richer creamier pudding!

Chocolate Pudding Pops

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder*
1/4 cup cornstarch
6-7 tablespoons sugar
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine dry ingredients in heavy sauce pan
Stir in some milk to make a smooth base
Slowly add remainder of milk and vanilla. Quickly whisk to avoid lumps.
Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, while stirring or whisking .
Allow to gently boil until thickened to desired consistency.

Quickly pour into popsicle molds, freeze for about 4 hours. Once set, place popsicle molds in a warm water bath and gently wiggle to release pure popsicle splendor!

To serve as a pudding dessert:
Pour into 3-4 dessert dishes and chill until set, about 3 hours.
Cover with plastic wrap to prevent skin formation.

*I used natural unsweetened cocoa powder. I'm sure you can use Dutch processed cocoa powder. I have not tried it, so I can't the compare the two.

** I evenly distributed about 1 oz. of milk chocolate chips once it was in the molds (I wanted pockets of chocolate)

Friday, May 1, 2009


First post on my first blog, on the first of the month!
I am very excited to start this new project! Prompted by my wonderful sis, I finally gave in and did it.

To firsts...Salud!