Tuesday, July 31, 2012

TWD:BWJ Blueberry Nectarine Pie

After the last Baking with Julia disaster of a day, I was excited to try another.   We are gearing up to go up to NY to visit family, so amidst packing and cleaning, I am baking! I love the combination of peaches or nectarines with blueberries, so I was sure this filling was going to be delicious.  

This was a very easy pie to throw together.  The crust was incredibly flaky, though too salty for my taste.  I also found it very soft when rolling out.  I put it between wax paper dusted with flour, and it worked perfectly.

 It says to let the pie sit for 30 minutes to set up.  Mine was still like soup.  But a delicious pie overall.  I love the combination.  I would rather have my peach cobbler (which I have made with blueberries in it) any day over this.  Because even though I like pie okay, it is not my fave dessert am not a huge fan.

If you want the recipe you can check out our host's blogs!  Thanks to  Liz and Hilary for hosting.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Peachy Pancakes

Today was the day we told my kids about my husbands upcoming deployment.  I thought it would be nice to start with a nice breakfast and break it to them after.  I had some fruit that was about to go, and seeing how peaches and nectarines are so in season right now, it seemed like a winning combo.
My husband called a family meeting.  I wish I had taped it.  One got up in the middle to bring his plate to the sink.  We called him back and he then got a book and left and sat on the couch.  My baby, who is 3, insisted on being fed and held and I don't think he heard a word.  He may not even remember the time when daddy went away.  The older two, were however, engaged and stood and listened intently as daddy showed them where he was going and told them for how long.  Pretty anti-climactic.  Not sure what I expected, but that was not it.  

So, I started with a basic buttermilk pancake recipe, and added lemon juice, and diced peaches.  The pancakes were delicious!
  • 3 cups flour
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 egg
  • 2 2/3 cups buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 peaches or nectarines, diced


Mix dry ingredients in a bowl; set aside. Whisk together wet ingredients in another bowl. Mix dry into wet.
Add diced peaches and mix.  

Cook pancakes on hot griddle until they bubble on one side and flip until cooked on the other side.

Top with blueberries and whipped cream.

Vegetable Tapenade with Shaved Parmesan

So, my first cooking "competition" for a fabulous charity, the Ronald McDonald House Charity, and I tried something I have never made before.  And honestly I could not find on the internet.  I went with my instinct and the idea was making me drool, so I knew it couldn't be bad!  BTW, my team won the cooking challenge!  One lady helping the other team had 5 pieces!!  And one judge who had eaten 6 dishes, came back for more of this after! 

The chef's challenge was a blast!  Leading up to it I was a bit stressed because it was a very busy week for me.  And I can't say I felt no pressure.  I mean I have a cooking blog.  What would it say about me if I lost? 
The challenge: 3 hours, a secret ingredient (sweet onions) must be in at least one dish, cooking for 40 people, and 3 kitchen helpers (who were incredible!).  Must do a main dish, dessert and side dish or appetizer. 
We got there early and set up a little, and went to work right at 3.   The chicken was perfectly done (dumb luck), and the cupcakes... well, 1/2 came out lovely, and the other half collapsed.  Oh well.   Judges got the good ones.  And this stuff?

Can I just say, I could live on this stuff!  It turned out dreamy and this is for sure my kind of food!!  I made like 8 times what I would make for just my family, so I will try to adapt the recipe down for you to enjoy!  SOOO Yum!  Make it!


  • 2-3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil (plus some for brushing on bread)
  • 1-2 TBSP butter
  • 1 large sweet onion, finely diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced fine
  • 2 small zucchini, diced super small
  • 1 sm-med eggplant, peeled, seeded and diced fine
  • 1 head of garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup shaved Parmesan
  • 1 baguette sliced on the bias (diagonal)

Preheat oven to 350.  Chop top off garlic and place in foil.  Drizzle with a tsp of olive oil, season with some salt and pepper.  Place in oven to roast for 45 min to an hour.  Meanwhile, dice all veggies fine.  In a large skillet place half the oil and half of the butter (start with less, can add more as needed), add onions and peppers only.  Cook on med- med/high heat.  Season with salt and pepper and some garlic powder if desired.  Cook until soft.  Reduce heat to med low and continue to cook.  In another skillet, add remaining olive oil and butter and the eggplant and zucchini.  Season with salt and pepper.

 Cook over med- med high heat until soft (about 20 min) stirring every so often.  Add to onion and pepper, taste for seasoning.  Remove garlic from oven, squeeze the garlic from the skin and chop up.  Throw in with the other veggies.  Cook until almost like mush (I know, sounds gross, but trust me!).  Should have a touch of texture, but mostly, all melt together.

Cut bread, toast and brush with olive oil, or brush with some olive oil and broil.  Top with spoonful of veggies and some shaved Parmesan.  I also drizzled the bread with a touch of balsamic glaze before topping, to add some sweetness.

Late Summer Plum Cake


When preparing for my chef's challenge, we were given a list of three secret ingredients: plums, collard greens or sweet onions.  Sweet onions won ( thank God!), but I wanted to prepare (just in case) by making a plum dessert.  I looked at Ina's plum cake from food network, and though it looked incredible, it was a bit too fussy for what I could do for the cook off.  I looked at Dorie' Greenspan's, and did make it as well.  However, after tasting this cake, the other variety seemed dry, and almost tasteless in comparison.  

First of all, this smelled DIVINE, when baking and after.  Better that any candle I assure you.  Next, it tasted great.  It was almost a pound cake texture.  This cake was gone in a flash.  

Now the original recipe called for unpeeled plums, and to me the skin took away from this cake.  So, I will leave it out when I make this again (and I will!).  Next, I used big, dark, purple sweet plums that were soft and ripe.  Make it.  It was still a bit runny in the middle, but we even enjoyed that!  Whipped cream and ice cream are a must here and warm is best!  

I can't believe I only got one picture, but alas!  I did.  Sorry.


adapted from: food 52


Serves 8

  • 1 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 medium-size fresh lemon verbena leaves or 1/2-1 teaspoon grated lemon zest (I used zest)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
  • 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cups sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 6 large sweet plums, peeled, pitted and quarted
  • Lightly sweetened, softly whipped cream or crème fraîche, for serving  and vanilla ice cream(optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, with a rack in the lower third. Butter a spring form pan or 9" cake pan. If using cake pan, line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the parchment. Dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess.  
Stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl. Set aside. Stack the lemon verbena leaves (if using), roll up tightly lengthwise, and cut them crosswise into fine ribbons. You will want 2 to 3 packed teaspoons.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or with a handheld mixer), beat together the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until light, about 5 minutes. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Mix in the sour cream, vanilla, and reserved lemon verbena (or lemon zest) until well combined. On low speed, add the flour mixture just until combined. (The batter will be thick.)
Spread half of the batter evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon brown sugar and top with 12 of the plum halves, cut side down. Dollop and spread the remaining batter over the plums. Arrange the remaining 12 plum halves, cut side up, over the top. Sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar over the plums.
Bake until the cake is golden and pulling away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted near the center tests clean (assuming you haven’t hit a plum), 50 to 60 minutes, rotating the pan front to back a little past halfway through baking. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.
Run a thin knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the cake sides. Remove sides of spring form pan or invert a flat plate over the pan. Using oven mitts if needed, grasp the plate and pan tightly together on both sides and invert the plate and pan to release the cake onto the plate. Lift off the pan and peel off the parchment. Invert the cake again onto a serving plate.
Serve warm or at room temperature, with whipped cream, if desired.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing

In my quest for the perfect cupcake for my chef's challenge, I had to make a bunch, and eat them.  It was a really tough job.  I suffered through.  Actually, I suffered when I went to the gym to burn off the sampling.  It was worth it!
very fudgy cake, but I prefer my black polish cake.

These were amazing!  Loved!  The peanut butter icing tasted like a peanut butter cup filling.  These were SUPER rich though and needed a glass of milk, and I was only able to eat half of one at a time.  I saw "at a time" because you will go back for that second half!

 adapted from: susannahskitchen


For the Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • mini peanut butter cups

For the Peanut Butter Icing:

  • 1/2-2/3 cup cream
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 5 tablespoons softened unsalted butter,
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Chocolate Coating
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable shortening

 Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with 10 cupcake cups.  In medium bowl combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.  In larger bowl combine sugar, buttermilk, oil, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Add dry mixture and whisk until smooth. Spoon batter into cupcake cups, dividing evenly.  Bake 18-22 minutes or until center is just set. Meanwhile, peel your peanut butter cups.  When the cupcakes are out of the oven, push a peanut butter cup into the middle of each cupcake.  Let cool in pan for 10 minutes and then transfer cupcakes to wire rack. Cool completely.
don't look at my water spots.  Shameful really.  Which cupcake looks best?
While cupcakes are cooling, prepare the peanut butter frosting. With whisk attachment, whip peanut butter and butter on medium-high speed.  Add vanilla, powdered sugar and cream.  Add more cream to get consistency you desire.
Transfer frosting to pastry bag fitted with a plain 1/2-inch tip
Once the cupcakes have chilled, make the chocolate coating. Place shortening and chocolate in a medium bowl and melt over a pan of gently simmering water.
Stir until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth. Transfer to a large coffee mug.
 Holding cupcake by the bottom, carefully dip into the chocolate. Be sure to submerge all of the icing
Pull up and hold for a few seconds to let excess chocolate drip off. Transfer to cooling rack and repeat with remaining cupcakes.  

Alternatively, you can drizzle the chocolate, and/or garnish with a peanut butter cup.
Before serving, let cupcakes rest a few minutes so chocolate can set.

Yield: 10 cupcakes. Active time: 1 hour. Total time:
3 hours

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

TWD: BWJ Semonlina Bread

The day I made this bread is a day I wished had not happened.  The day before we were to leave on a family vacation, I had started my bread early and it was on it's last 2 hour rise.  My husband was going to drop our recyclables at the dump, and my 7 year old son was helping.  I am vacuuming and my husband called the house phone telling me to come out "now".  I immediately think the worst, that he hit one of the kids while backing out.  So morbid... while walking out, praying and bracing for something bad, I walk into the garage to my 7 year old screaming and a pool of blood.  Thank the Lord it was a gash in the leg and not something worse, but still, pretty bad.  A bit panicky, my husband is holding the gash closed, while I go inside to find some medical tape.  I grab some rags, get a seat for my son to sit in and my husband does a masterful butterfly job.

We all load the car (the bread is the last thing on my mind!) and go to the ER, which was a 30 minute drive.  And a orthopedic surgeon, a procedure, 12 stitches, lots of screaming, and a 5 hour ER visit later, we head home.  I get home, preheat the oven, bake the bread, which was pancaked at this point. And I didn't score it in my haste to bake it... bread baking 101 failed.
I know this is a food blog and that's gross, but some might want to see the carnage.

We tasted the bread.  Honestly, not sure if I would've liked it anyway.  Found it too salty, especially with salted butter on top.  It was better with some honey.  So, be impressed.  Be very impressed.  Not that the bread is pretty or well done, but that it was baked at all.  A day I would like to forget.
If you want to try, you can get the recipe at our hosts websites. Thanks to Anna and Renee for hosting.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Cherry Streusel Glazed Muffins

Ever have one of those really productive days that make you proud to be you?  Yeah, I had one today.  Wanted to give myself a pat on the rear and say "good job".  Mostly paperwork, which I know is everyone's favorite, but still productive!  Love it!

I saw my friend Cristine made some muffins a few weeks ago and I had some frozen cherries burning a hole in my freezer.  The idea sounded so good, so I whipped up my own version.
These are dense and so tasty.  Again, just want to eat the tops off, and these muffin tops were so good.  I adore these with a cup of tea.  If you want a little lighter muffin, don't use whole grain and remove a few TBSP flour from the 3 cups.  The muffin itself is not too sweet, which is good because the top is very sweet.  I got more compliments on these muffins than any I have made in the last month for church.  They look amazing, and they really are.


  • 3 cups flour (I mix whole grain and unbleached)
  •  1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used coconut)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups diced frozen cherries
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cold butter
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 TBSP milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract 

Preheat oven to 400. Grease and flour muffin tin or line with paper liners.

 Make topping, combine all ingredients until crumbly. Set aside.

Beat eggs, add vanilla, almond extract, sour cream, milk, sugars and oil in large bowl; set aside. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.  Toss in cherries. Mix dry into wet ingredients until just combined. Spoon batter into tin.  Batter will seam thin at first, but will thicken as it sits.

For topping, combine all ingredients until crumbly. Sprinkle on top of muffins.

Bake for 17-22 minutes or until done.   Wait 10 minutes, remove from pan.  Mix glaze while they are cooling for 10-20 minutes.  If glaze seems too thin, ad a bit more powdered sugar, if too thick thin with 1 tsp milk more at a time.  Drizzle with glaze (may have left over).  Enjoy!

Indonesian Chicken Satay

  We had a birthday party here last week.  A small affair, but I still made a lot of food.  I love food.  Just in case you couldn't figure that out from the hours of blogging about it I have put in.  

 This chicken dish was gone in a flash.  I used 6 huge chicken breasts and they were the first thing gone.  Reason why?  Well, number one, I put too much meat on each one.  Number two, which is really number one, they were really good.  I probably could have eaten 1/2 of them myself.  

Awesome for entertaining!  Enjoy!


recipe adapted from: allrecipes


  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil (I used part walnut, part toasted sesame oil)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 TBSP brown sugar 
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp ginger or 1/2 TBSP grated fresh
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch ground cumin
  • 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cubed
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup chunky peanut butter (I used smooth, all I had)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • skewers


In a bowl, mix soy sauce, tomato sauce, peanut oil, garlic, black pepper, and cumin. Place chicken into the mixture, and stir to coat. Cover, and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes, up to few hours. This will make the meat too dark.   
Soak bamboo skewers in water so they won't burn when grilling.

Preheat the grill for high heat. Heat vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat, and saute onion and garlic until lightly browned. Mix in water, peanut butter, soy sauce, and sugar. Cook and whisk until well blended. Remove from heat, mix in lemon juice, and set aside. It will thicken s it cooks and stands.

Lightly oil the grill grate. Thread chicken onto skewers, and discard marinade. Grill skewers about 5 minutes per side, until chicken juices run clear. (Can broil if desired)  Serve with the peanut sauce.

Lemon Crumb Muffins

Don't pretend you don't want to lick your screen.  So, in the search for a muffin recipe to make for church on Sunday, I found this recipe on my friend Cristine's blog.  I tweaked a tiny bit, but not too much.  These were fabulous muffins.  They have a dense crumb, almost like a good pound cake, and are so lemony.  And they have the two things I love. . . the crumb and the glaze!!  UH- my- ga! (valley girl)

And can I just say, I love muffin tops.  The kind that comes from the top of muffins, but not the kind that hangs over my pants, although they are likely connected.

Super, lemolicious (yes, I just made that word up) muffins.  YA-UMMM!

recipe adapted from: cristinecooks
makes 20


  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cups sour cream
  • 1 cups butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 TBSP lemon zest
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 TBSP cold butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, sour cream, butter, lemon zest, and juice. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fill greased or papered muffin tins 2/3 full.

In a small bowl combine the flour and sugar; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over batter.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Mix together glaze ingredients and drizzle over warm muffins.