Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sometimes your ordinary breakfast isn't enough.  You've maxed out the corn flakes, yogurt, fruit and all other ready-made choices...and you're searching for something more.  This morning I had some family coming by, my mom was bringing my sweet niece Blair over to play with Sydney.  And well, none of my breakfast options were appealing to me.  I also had some dried blueberries from Costco living in my cupboard, and I distinctly remembered an Ina Garten recipe somewhere...  Aha!  There it was.  Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins.  And I had all the ingredients.  Well, wasn't that meant to be...

Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins

Here's what I used:

12 tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
8 oz (1 cup) sour cream (I used light)
1/4 cup milk (I used whole)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 pints fresh or dried blueberries (I used dried)

Here's what I did:

Preheated oven to 350 degrees and placed paper liners in muffin pan.  Sprayed just a touch of Pam into each liner to prevent sticking.  I sometimes lose the bottom of the muffin to the this helps.

In my Kitchen Aid mixer with paddle attachment, mix butter (softened) and sugar until creamy and light, about 5 minutes.  With speed on low, add eggs one at a time, vanilla, sour cream and milk.  In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients, by sifting through a fine mesh strainer.  Then add these ingredients to the mixing bowl, until just combined.  Resist the urge to overmix.

Gently fold the blueberries into the batter.  And then using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, add batter to muffin liners.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until just golden brown on top.  This mix made 16 nice sized muffins...  They didn't last long.

Slow Cooker Pork Masala with Red Potatoes and Baby Carrots

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I have a back issue of Bon Appetit with a Child Friendly Chicken Masala that I have been wanting to try.  I have always loved Indian food, but Nick has a real aversion to anything he thinks may be "curry-like".  So I was thinking a child friendly version may be just the ticket to introducing him to the cuisine.  Additionally, if its a little toned down on spices, the chances are higher that Sydney will like it too.

On to the modifications, I made more than a few.  I converted the recipe from a traditional oven to slow cooker.  I used pork tenderloin instead of chicken. I substituted sour cream for plain yogurt, and dried onion flakes instead of fresh chopped.  I also added vegetables and white pepper.

Slow Cooker Pork Masala with Red Potatoes and Baby Carrots

Here's what I used:

1 2 lb pork tenderloin, cut into fist-sized chunks
1/2 bag baby carrots (or enough to cover bottom of slow cooker)
3 large red potatoes, skin on, cut into 1" pieces
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 tbsp garam masala (Priya brand, found in my local grocery international section)
2 tsp kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp white pepper
2 tbsp dried chopped onion
1 cup sour cream
3 tbsp olive oil

Here's what I did:

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker, and cook on HIGH for 4-5 hours, or LOW for 8-10.  Just prior to serving, remove pork and cut into 1" or bite sized pieces, and then add them back into the cooker.

Serve over Basmati or Long Grain rice.

I am soooo pleased with this one.  My first foray into any sort of Indian fare, and it was really successful.  Spices were right on.

Championship BBQ Rub

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ok, I had to wrestle this one from my husband's crinkled, dog-eared, often immitated, never duplicated (well, actually we often copy the pages so he doesn't get them sticky w/ BBQ sauce)...favorite BBQ book of all time: Barbecue Secrets: Unbeatable Recipes, Tips and Tricks from a Barbecue Champion by Ronnie Shewchuk. 

This rub has soooo many applications.  We've used it for every sort of chicken, whole, wings, breasts, you name it.  We've used it for pork chops.  Steaks.  On burgers.  Its just an amazing staple rub to have on hand.  And to give as gifts.  Yes gifts.  As in people will wonder what exactly makes the food SO good, can I please have some, I will love you forever.

Which is why, to bring this full circle, I had to make a few promises to Nick, in order for him to allow me to "release" his favorite rub.  He even wanted me to change one ingredient in the list, just to make it a *little* bit different.  Um, no.  Its published in a book, you did not dream it up - I will share it with whoever wants a copy of this TO DIE FOR BBQ Rub.  So without further ado, here's an amazing all-purpose BBQ rub...

Championship BBQ Rub
Here's what we used:
1/3 cup black pepper

1/4 cup celery salt
1/3 cup chili powder
1/4 cup garlic salt
1/4 cup onion salt
1/3 cup paprika
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup Tony Chachere's (or other cajun seasoning mix)

Here's what we did:

Simply combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, and then store in an air tight container.  This keeps well for 4-6 months...until it runs out.  We make several batches a year and then use as needed until its gone.  And we give a lot away...usually after a BBQ.

One great, easy way to apply this is to take your protein, brush with a thin layer of Yellow Mustard, and then sprinkle an even layer of BBQ Rub on top.  *Oops, that's another BBQ Secret*.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

About a week ago, a hex hit my house.  As in, my nearly 2 year old daughter and my husband both came down with a bug that knocked them out of commission for nearly a week.  Somehow, miraculously, I was unscathed.  I think it was so that someone other than the dogs could keep them alive.  I don't think Maddy or Jazzy could cook food, go get gatorade, spoon mylanta, or attend to the myriad of other things that were going on in the lucky me.  I did make a huge portion of Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup, complete with homemade egg noodles to sustain my poor, sick babies...and it lasted a good week.  I just poured out the remaining 2-ish cups of it last night.

This recipe is fairly easy, just requires that you taste your stock to ensure it has enough flavor for you, and add to it as you see fit for your taste.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Here's what I used:

1 5 lb whole chicken fryer
1 bag baby carrots (or 4-5 peeled/chopped large carrots)
4 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
4 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves only
Chicken Bullion

Egg Noodles (recipe below or store bought)

Here's what I did:

Preparation for this recipe consists of chopping all vegetables, and feel free to add veggies that you like to this, and omit what you don't.  Also, rinse and pat dry the chicken, discarding innards.  At this point, I cut the chicken into 4 main pieces, breasts, and thigh/legs.  Alternately, you can buy a chicken already cut up, to save on time.

Then, in a large stockpot, place chicken and all vegetables.  Add cold water, until chicken pieces are fully covered.  Allow chicken and vegetables to boil on med/high for about 20-25 minutes.  Remove chicken at this point, and take off and discard skin and bone.  Chop chicken into bite-size pieces, and add back into stockpot.  Set eat to a low simmer.

At this point, take a taste of the stock.  Its probably pretty bland.  Add salt, pepper and chicken bullion cubes or powder until you reach desired flavor profile.  Add cajun seasoning if you want a little more kick.

Homemade Egg Noodles

Here's what I used:

2 cups AP Flour
3 large eggs, beaten

Here's what I did:

I used my Kitchen Aid mixer, and simply added the flour and eggs to the bowl, and used paddle attachment for 30 seconds.  I did not need to add any extra water or flour to get the right consistency.  Test dough with finger, if its too sticky/gooey, add flour by the tbsp until dough is tacky, but not gooey.  If its in small balls, add water by the tsp until dough begins to bind together.

Remove dough from mixer, and hand knead into a ball.  Wrap with saran wrap and let sit for 15 minutes to 2 hours (as time permits).  You can make dough ahead of time, and then begin the soup.  That way, as soup boils, you can be forming your noodles. 

At this point, I again used my Kitchen Aid mixer, and added pasta roller attachment to the front.  Divide dough into 6 even sections, and keep unused sections covered by saran wrap or dish towel until ready to use.  Generously flour the dough, and feed it through the roller, starting at the widest section, #1, and continuing twice per setting until #4.  Continue this for all sections of dough, laying flattened pieces down on a floured surface, and covering with a dish towel.

Once all sections have been flattened, I added my linguine pasta cutter attachment.  Feed each section of dough through the pasta cutter, and then hang the pasta groups to dry.  I have a pasta drying rack, but you can also drape the noodles over the side of a large mixing bowl until ready to add to the soup.

Now, by this point, the soup should be ready for the noodles.  I simply took each section of fresh noodles, and with kitchen shears, cut the noodles over the stockpot, and let them fall into the soup below.  I made each set of noodles about 2" long.  I did this with all groups of noodles, and then let simmer for 5 minutes.

Test your noodles to ensure they're fully cooked.  If you opt to make them by hand, make sure the dough is rolled out very thin, and then hand cut with a butter knife.  These may take longer to cook, as they will probably be thicker.

Again, check seasoning and adjust to your liking.

Sydney was requesting "nooo-ols" for days afterwards.  This keeps and microwaves beautifully, so it provided us with 4-5 days of soup for both Nick and Sydney.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Tacos with Cilantro Lime Sauce & Corn and Black Bean Salsa

Monday, April 12, 2010

I must again give credit to someone else for a recipe.  As a final hurrah while my little sister was in town, my brother and sister in law had us all over to their house for pork tacos.  I had heard much about them, and while optimistic - had never actually had pork tacos.  Let me say right now, I am now a believer, and not an italicizer.  I can say with certainty that I would make these again, and again, and again.  And yes, I had FOUR of these puppies that night.  At the time I said I would repent by skipping dessert.  But by the time dessert came, I had that too.  We were celebrating though, so its ok, right??

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork Tacos

Here's what they used:

1 4lb pork roast
1 cup medium salsa
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup 7-Up

Here's what they did:

Put roast in crock pot. Mix other ingredients together and pour over roast. Cook on low for 8 hours. Shred when done.

Yea, that's it.  Hahaha.  So easy its funny.

This was served buffet, or "make your own", with the following choices:

Pan-Warmed Corn Tortillas (we used a cast iron skillet, but a non-stick skillet will also work.  Keep them warm between the folds of a clean dishtowel until serving)
Corn and Black Bean Salsa (recipe to follow)
Grated Cheddar/Monterey Jack Cheese Blend
Green Onions
Shredded Romaine Lettuce
Cilantro Lime Sauce (recipe to follow)

Cilantro Lime Sauce

This may have been my favorite part of this recipe.  Tangy, zippy, perfectly topped each little dainty taco.  I think I have had dreams about this in the 2 days since we had it...

Here's what they used:

1 pkg Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
3/4 cup mayo
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 bunch cilantro
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp salsa verde (green salsa)
1 lime, zest and juice
**add 1/2 of a fresh jalapeno for HEAT
Here's what they did:

Add dressing ingredients in blender and mix well. Make ahead and chill for several hours.

Are you seeing a theme here?  EASY.  And delicious.

Corn and Black Bean Salsa

While we added this to our tacos, it is also delish with chips, or just warm corn tortillas, scooping up portions as an appetizer.

Here's what they used:

1 (15 ounce) can yellow corn, drained
1 (15 ounce) can white corn, drained
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes, drained
1 bunch finely chopped cilantro
5 green onions, finely sliced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 cup lime juice
1 avocado - peeled, pitted, and diced
2 tbsp olive oil, or to taste

Here's what they did:

Stir the yellow and white corn, black beans, tomatoes, cilantro, green onion, red onion, bell pepper, and garlic in a large bowl. Gently mix in the lime juice and avocado. Drizzle with olive oil to serve. I would also add S&P to taste, and adjust flavors to your liking.

So the theme of that meal was not only DELISH but EASY.  Easy, easy, easy.  Enjoy!!

Chicken, Mussel and Scallop Paella

Saturday, April 10, 2010

My sister was in town from accupuncture school for Easter and spring break and specifically requested my Dad's Paella.  In turn, my Dad had received Iranian Saffron from a friend who had done some travelling, and he was excited to use it.  Saffron must be used sparingly, and tends to be costly, but you need so very little of it...and the result is really impressive and different from your standard fare.

Paella usually has chicken as well as several seafood components.  Choose your favorites and mix and match!

Chicken, Mussel and Scallop Paella

Here's what we used:

3 boneless skinned chicken breasts – cut in 1” cubes
4 medium sized andouille sausage – sliced about ¼” thick
4 Tbsps olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
1 ½ cups of medium or long grain white rice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper (I generally pepper to taste – I like a bit of heat in the dish)
1 tsp saffron threads
4 cups chicken broth
1 lb of shrimp – shelled and deveined
1 lb of scallops – small Patagonia scallops are great for this
1 lb of fresh mussels
2 cans artichoke hearts – cut into ½” cubes
1 jar pimentos - chopped
½ cup of peas (we used frozen)
Several springs fresh rosemary
Optional – 8 lobster or crab claws

Here's what we did:

In a large flat bottom pan (I use a special covered paella pan but any large flat bottomed pan with a lid will work), brown chicken in olive oil. Once chicken is brown add onion and garlic, cooking all til brown. Remove from pan and reserve – save some of the pot liquor for the next step.

Add rice to pan and cook until golden and transparent. Add salt, pepper and chicken stock bringing all ingredients to a boil – dissolve saffron threads and add chicken, onion and garlic back to pan. Cover and cook on low for 30 minutes.

Add shrimp, scallops, mussels, artichoke, pimentos, peas and lobster/crab (optional) to pan. Cover and let steam for 20 – 30 minutes (check to see when mussels have opened – good sign its ready). Let the paella rest covered for about 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with parsley or cilantro (adds a nice flavor).

Serve with fresh lemon slices. The ingredients are pricy but the end result is fantastic – ensure you taste along the way to bring out the flavors you enjoy. The smell of the finished paella is worth the price alone!

Parmesan Tomato Mixed Green Salad

Thursday, April 8, 2010

This lettuce mix was the center of a deliciously simple, fresh salad.  I found it at my local Harris Teeter and was attracted to the beautiful array of colors and delicate, intricate shape of each variety of lettuce.  I have always been a fan of the more delicate lettuces, butter, bib, etc.  Well this variety really caught my attention.  Miniature, delicate, beautiful...and just waiting to be dressed up.  And so I did.

I happened to have a fresh wedge of Parmesan Reggiano and bought and DID NOT REFRIGERATE fresh cherry tomatoes just for the occasion.  The result was a stunningly colored, flavored and fresh accompaniment to our easter dinner.

Parmesan Tomato Mixed Green Salad

Here's what I used:

4 heads Artisan lettuce, rinsed and rough chopped (or 1-2 heads regular bib/butter lettuce)
1 cup fresh cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh shaved Parmesan

Favorite Dressing OR Balsamic Vinegar & Good Olive Oil

Here's what I did:

This is soooo simple, and really relies on the freshness of ingredients to really pack the punch to this recipe.  I found a very festive lime-green salad bowl that I love, added the chopped lettuce, and then added the tomatoes and shaved parmesan to the top.

Bacon Cheddar Deviled Eggs

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

As promised, these amazingly good deviled eggs were brought to our house for Easter Dinner.  I have to say while I am an egg fan and a deviled egg fan...this takes them to a whole new level.  Another universe.  Get the picture?

Also, slight modification, my brother added minced white onion to the mix (from to add a crunch.  I approve 100% of his alteration.

Bacon Cheddar Deviled Eggs

Here's what he used:

12 eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 slices bacon
2 tablespoons finely shredded Cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon minced white onion

Here's what he did:

Place eggs in a saucepan, and cover with cold water. Bring water to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Cover, and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water, and cool. To cool more quickly, rinse eggs under cold running water.

Meanwhile, place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Alternatively, wrap bacon in paper towels and cook in the microwave for about 1 minute per slice. Crumble and set aside.

Peel the hard-cooked eggs, and cut in half lengthwise. Remove yolks to a small bowl. Mash egg yolks with mayonnaise, crumbled bacon, cheese and onion. Stir in mustard. Fill egg white halves with the yolk mixture and refrigerate until serving. 

**HINT** An easy way to add pizzazz to presentation, take a ziploc bag and cut the tip off of one corner of the bag.  Add yolk mixture to the bag, squeezing down towards the tip to create a pastry bag of sorts.  Neatly pipe your yolk into egg halves for a professional appearance.
I can't take credit for this one, but I will most certainly be recreating this in the future.  YUMMMM.

On my honor, I do swear...

Monday, April 5, 2010

To post the recipes for several DIVINE Easter Recipes that occurred at my home yesterday.

They include a RIDICULOUS Bacon-Infused Deviled Egg, Chicken, Scallop and Mussel Paella and Parmesan Tomato Mixed Green Salad.

Now to hunt down the recipes to share...

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!!

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