Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Lemon Blueberry Rolls

For Mother's Day, I knew I wanted lemon blueberry rolls and these banana shakes. I made them several years ago and had fallen in love with the oh so tender rolls, gooey blueberry and lemon/sugar filling, and lemon glaze topping.  Unfortunately, in the move the recipe disappeared, until recently when I discovered the recipe again.

Since it was Mother's Day, I didn't take too much stock into how my kids would react to these rolls. I figured they could have cereal if needed :)  But, surprisingly, every single one of my kids asked for seconds and thirds.  Even my husband who isn't a big blueberry/lemon fan, complimented these rolls and came back for more.

I made the dough the day before, placing it into the refrigerator, then that morning all I had to do was roll it out and make the filling and glaze.  The day of prep still took me over 30 minutes to finish, plus cooking time, since it makes two batches (4 8x8 pans/pie plates) The first batch made two full pie plates full and the second batch I made cinnamon rolls and froze one of the pans. We've got sweet rolls coming out our ears! Good thing my parents were in town to help eat all this goodness.  These pictures are sans lemon glaze.  But it will look like you drowned the rolls after you've poured it on

Lemon Blueberry Sweet Rolls

Printable Recipe

Angel food cake, homemade or store bought 
1-2 cups strawberries, cut up into quarters 
Raspberry sauce, recipe follows 
Sweetened Cream, recipe follows 

Raspberry Sauce 
1 pint fresh or frozen raspberries (Approx 1 ¾ cup) 
3 TBS cornstarch (to thicken) 
½-1 cup water 
1 cup sugar (more if you want a sweeter sauce) 
1 tsp lemon juice (optional, to enhance color) 

Mix sugar and cornstarch in a medium size pan. Turn heat onto medium. Add ½ cup water and whisk until smooth. Add raspberries and lemon juice if using. Add in more water if needed. This will take a few minutes to thicken. Stir constantly and do not let boil. 

Note: you can switch out orange juice for the water if you want an added flavor. You can also add different berries to the raspberries (strawberries, blackberries, huckleberries all work well in this sauce). 

Sweetened Cream 
2 cups cold Heavy Whipping Cream 
3 TBS powdered sugar (more if needed) 

While waiting for raspberry sauce to thicken, In a stand mixer, whip Heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar. Whip until firm peaks form. 

Place individual angel food cakes onto a bowl or plate. Pour raspberry sauce over cakes, top with cut strawberries and fresh whipped cream. 


Recipe from here

Monday, May 9, 2016

Strawberry Topped angel food cake with raspberry topping

I was so excited to see the first strawberries of the season, that on a whim, I grabbed a few containers, if you remember this post :)  I decided to make mini angel food cakes for a quick dessert that night.  I think store bought angel food cake is a little wanting in the taste department, so I made a variation of my favorite raspberry topping to go on top.  It was perfectly paired with the tangy fruit and sweet whipped cream.  From now on, these will be those great go-to-company-is-coming-over-need-a-quick-dessert-without-a-lot-of-work recipe.

The raspberry sauce is extremely simple, only 5 ingredients. It can be whipped up in less than 10 minutes. Between cutting strawberries, getting the angel food cake un-packaged, making the sauce and cream, this can, start to finish be done in less than 15 minutes.  Now that is a quick and easy dessert with an exceptionally delicious end result!
Angel Food Cake with Raspberry Sauce and Fresh Whipped Cream
Angel food cake, homemade or store bought
1-2 cups strawberries, cut up into quarters
Raspberry sauce, recipe follows
Sweetened Cream, recipe follows

Raspberry Sauce
1 pint fresh or frozen raspberries (Approx 1 ¾ cup)
3 TBS cornstarch (to thicken)
½-1 cup water
1 cup sugar (more if you want a sweeter sauce)
1 tsp lemon juice (optional, to enhance color)

Mix sugar and cornstarch in a medium size pan. Turn heat onto medium.  Add ½ cup water and whisk until smooth.  Add raspberries and lemon juice if using. Add in more water if needed. This will take a few minutes to thicken.  Stir constantly and do not let boil. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.

Note: you can switch out orange juice for the water if you want an added flavor. You can also add different berries to the raspberries (strawberries, blackberries, huckleberries all work well in this sauce). 

Sweetened Cream
2 cups cold Heavy Whipping Cream
3 TBS powdered sugar (more if needed)

While waiting for raspberry sauce to thicken, In a stand mixer, whip Heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar.  Whip until firm peaks form.    

Place individual angel food cakes onto a bowl or plate.  Pour raspberry sauce over cakes, top with cut strawberries and fresh whipped cream.

Friday, May 6, 2016

{Home Made} Garlic-Herb Croutons

Doesn't this picture remind you of grade school pictures with those interesting backgrounds? Who knows why they look like that, but try and focus on the real star instead; the croutons.

Now, don't get me wrong, I have nothing against buying a big bulk bag of croutons from Sam's that my husband and kids snacks on endlessly. But I do feel like these tasty-extra special-a little more work-croutons have their place. I had some sourdough bread that didn't get eaten, so I whipped these up and everyone was surprised at how good they tasted.  I was impressed with how easy they really were.  

So don't be scared off from making these, yet.  Really, you cut up your bread into cubes, melt butter, mix, mix herbs, stir into cubes, bake and you are done.  Seriously!  Did you not think this would be harder than that?!  But they aren't!
Sourdough Garlic-Herb Croutons
4 cups sourdough bread cubes
1 ½ TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 TBSP butter
¼ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp granulated onion/onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
1-2 TBSP crumbled Parmesan cheese, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

 In a small bowl, combine salt, onion, garlic, oregano and parsley. Set aside.  Melt butter in the microwave until completely melted.  Combine melted butter with olive oil.  Place bread cubes in a large bowl and drizzle the butter/oil mixture over the bread cubes making sure to distribute evenly over the cubes.  Don’t dump it all in one place, or only a few cubes will soak up all the goodness.  Immediately use your hands to toss to coat, making sure each bread cube gets the butter mixture on it.  Sprinkle with the herb mixture, making sure to distribute it evenly.

Spread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Cook for 10-20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes.

The croutons should be golden brown in color. Remove from oven and immediately toss with Parmesan cheese.  Store in an air tight container. 

Recipe from  here

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Chocolate Covered Strawberries {An Easy How to}

Back when I bought the 2 pallets of strawberries, this was the first thing I did with the extra.  For some reason, chocolate dipped strawberries are some of my favorite indulgences.  Maybe it's the simplicity of them or the fact that they are covered in chocolate, that I adore these little treats so much. I give them out as gifts to neighbors and friends, as teacher appreciation gifts, and I make them for Valentine's Day, and ALWAYS, ALWAYS make them for Mother's Day (which is this Sunday!). And honestly, they are so easy to make, that if we have a bunch of strawberries, I will dip them for an after dinner dessert.  My kids think I am pretty awesome when i do that :)

If you are giving these out, a great way to make a simple treat look extra special is by putting them in cute little tins like I did here.  I have started to collect tins from all different Holidays at Michael's when they go on clearance. I have also bought them at Hobby Lobby and and sometimes you can find cute tins at the dollar store or even Walmart.
I think there are only a few simple tricks to making chocolate dipped strawberries like the pros.

Printable Version of Tips
The first trick, is the type of chocolate you use.  My favorite is the big bags of Ghirardelli Dark Melting Wafers. It melts smooth every time, and you need silky smooth here! I also think the taste of these is just right. I buy a big bag at Sam's. If you don't/can't use/find these wafers for whatever reason, you can use another type of chocolate if you must.

Product Details
Almond Bark is my second favorite as far as melting and dipping goes.  But the key is putting a tablespoon (or cap full) of vegetable oil in with the chocolate BEFORE you melt it. This will again, get you that silky smooth texture you are looking for.

Plymouth Pantry Almond Bark Vanilla Baking Bar, 24 oz
I don't love using chocolate chips, but they will work if you don't have anything else.  The chocolate tends to seize easier and is a little bit more temperamental than other types of chocolate, especially white chocolate chips, so be ware.

Ghirardelli, Premium Baking Chips, Semi-Sweet Chocolate, 12 oz (340 g)
With any type of chocolate, if you are using a microwave, start melting in 30 second increments.  This may seem like it is over kill, but this prevents the chocolate from burning and getting clumpy.  After Each 30 second increment, stir the chocolate.  If you stir it for a few seconds and it becomes completely smooth, then you are finished melting (at most 2 minutes).  Be careful not to overheat. Again, who wants goopy chocolate. Not only does it look bad, but it is also really hard to dip and coat the strawberries with.

Once the chocolate is smooth, you can dip your freshly washed and dried strawberries, turning to coat each side. I like to hold the leaves and a little at the top of the strawberry while I coat the strawberry with chocolate. Let the excess chocolate drip back into the bowl, otherwise you will get wings on your strawberries :) That's not a terrible problem to have, but you'll have to take a knife and cut off the excess once the chocolate has set.  Let cool on parchment or wax paper, or on your silpat mat.  Put in the refrigerator to completely set.

If you need more chocolate, either get a new bowl or clean out the previously used bowl really well and follow the same melting instructions.
If you want to drizzle with another color of chocolate, melt, using the same method as above.  Then place the melted chocolate in a ziploc bag with the tip cut off.  I snip it fairly close to the point so I don't get big clumps coming out all at once.   With a quick fluid motion, make a zig zag pattern with your hand, going back and forth to coat, applying even pressure to the bag.  I do one strawberry at a time. Then let set in the refrigerator.  They set rather quickly, but you'll want them to fully chill in the fridge for a little bit before serving.

Once they are set you can put them in mini muffin cups if you are going to put them in tins to give away.

Store in the refrigerator.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Creamy Chicken Cordon Bleu

Mother's Day is coming up and that special lady in your life needs a little pampering, whether she is a mother or not!  We have been making this chicken cordon bleu recipe since we were first married (over 13 years now!).  But it has always been reserved for special occasions, like Mother's Day or Valentine's Day.  It is a little bit of a process to make the chicken, but we have found a simplistic way to make these so they aren't as labor intensive.  Like I said, these are reserved for special occasions and is worth taking all that time to show your special someone what they mean to you :)  And no matter how hard we try, we still have to use tooth picks, just be aware of them as you are dishing them up!  For our kids, we typically pick them out before we hand it over to them.  It's a labor of love you see.

As for the sauce, I use (gasp!) cream of mushroom soup as the base. If you have an aversion to the stuff, make your own sauce or forgo the sauce completely.  I love dipping mine, but it doesn't make or break this recipe.

Creamy Chicken Cordon Bleu
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, butter-flied and flattened 
8 slices thinly sliced deli ham or turkey 
4 slices cheese (Swiss or cheddar)
4 oz cream cheese, softened 
½ tsp minced onion 
¼ tsp garlic salt 
½ cup melted butter 
½ cup crushed cornflakes 

Mix softened cream cheese, minced onion, and garlic salt in a small bow.. 

Flatten each chicken breast. Make sure the chicken is of even thickness. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly over flattened chicken breasts, leaving ½ inch from outside edge. Place 2 pieces of ham or turkey on cream cheese mixture. Add sliced cheese on top. Roll up chicken breasts and secure with toothpick. 

Tip: if it is hard to roll, tuck in the sides and fold the chicken in half (or roll if your chicken is large), then secure with tooth picks. Roll chicken in butter and then in cornflakes. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Add sauce and sprinkle paprika over top, then bake for an additional 10 minutes. 

Creamy topping 
1 (10 ¾ oz) can cream of chicken soup 
1 (10 ¾ oz) can cream of mushroom soup 
1 cup sour cream 
2 tsp lemon juice 
Milk (optional) 

While chicken is cooking, combine soups, sour cream and lemon juice and heat in a saucepan. If the sauce needs to thin a bit, add a little milk at a time to get to the right consistency. When chicken cooks for 45 minutes, pour sauce over chicken breasts and cook chicken an additional 10 minutes. Top with paprika, serve immediately. Watch out for tooth picks!

Note: If you are having a hard time folding your chicken, you can put the meat on the chicken first, then the cream cheese mixture.  

Monday, April 25, 2016

Oven Roasted Parmesan Broccoli and Garlic

The only way we make broccoli around these part is in this salad.  No one, besides me, likes the stuff. But I am working on them.  I keep trying new and different versions of broccoli to see if one day their palate will finally like it!  Though the rest of my family only ate their meager portion, I finished off every last piece.  I have found several recipes similar to this one, but one of the things that makes this one so much better is the toasted panko bread crumbs.  It added a new layer of crunch, texture, and flavor that really sent these typically mundane veggies into a wow me, these are good enough to serve to company, side dish.  Try it, you'll be surprised at how good this really is!
Oven Roasted Parmesan Broccoli and Garlic
1 pound broccoli, rinsed and trimmed
2 TBSP olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp Kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup finely grated parmesan or sharp cheddar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. 

Cut the broccoli florets into bite size pieces. Cut the stalk into 1/8 inch thick, round slices.  Place the broccoli into a mixing bowl and toss with the olive oil, garlic, kosher salt and pepper and set aside. 

Spread the panko into a 13x9 inch metal cake pan. Place into the oven for 2-5 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove the panko from the oven and add to the bowl with the broccoli mixture. Toss to combine.  Return the mixture to the cake pan, place in oven and roast just until broccoli is tender, 8-10 minutes.  Remove from oven, toss in cheese and serve immediately

Recipe from here 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Oatmeal Scottchie cookies

I don't know what it is about these cookies, but man, I cannot stay out of them.  They are addicting little suckers.  I am not typically over tempted by cookies, unless they are frozen chocolate chip cookies or homemade Oreos, well and for that matter, I'll include my soft batch gingerbread men, then I might reconsider that statement. But back to these sweet little morsels of goodness. They are just an easy recipe, very similar to the recipe that is on the back of the package, with only slight variation, but for whatever reason, the ingredients just go together perfectly to form an amazingly addictive cookie.  Next time you need a cookie fix, give these a try! You won't regret it!
Oatmeal Scotchies Cookies
Printable Recipe
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla (or grated orange peel of one orange)
3 cups quick or old fashioned oats
1 2/3 cups (11 ounce package) Butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in small bowl.  Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla in large mixer bowl.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in oats and morsels.  Drop by rounded tablespoon onto un-greased baking. 

Bake for 7-8 minutes for chewy cookies or 9-10 minutes for crispy cookies.  Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes, remove to wire racks to cool completely.  Makes 4 dozen cookies. 

Recipe from a cookie exchange several years back from a girl named Aimee  

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Pinwheel Pizza Bites

We make pizza almost every weekend.  It became a tradition years and years ago.  I always make more than enough so we have leftovers for an easy Saturday or Sunday lunch.  My kids are purests when it comes to their toppings; they like pepperoni and cheese.  I like to try all kinds, the bbq being one of my absolute favorites! So, to change things up a bit so as to not get too boring for me and not too crazy for my kids :) I change the style.  I do calzones, in muffin tins and in these pinwheel shapes and of course stromboli, which we make every other weekend, switching it up from this pizza.  It's funny, the dough, sauce, and toppings are exactly the same, but yet, my kids go nuts for these. Whodathunkit?!
They are a little messy to make and aren't the prettiest, but oh, do they taste good!
Pinwheel pizzas
Toppings,( pepperoni, cheese, chicken)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Get a large jelly roll or cookie sheet out and place a silpat mat on it. I love using my silpat.  I typically bake most things on it, but if you don’t have one, spray your pan with cooking spray, or use a pizza stone. 

Roll out pizza dough into the shape of a rectangle. Just like you would for cinnamon rolls.  Using your silpat mat is a great guide. Spread sauce and toppings onto dough.  Start by folding in the two shorter edges and then begin rolling the long ways to make a log.  Using a knife, cut about 1 inche apart.  Lay with filing side up on prepared pan. 

Bake for 15 minutes.  Serve warm with extra pizza sauce.

Breadsticks and Pizza Dough
1 1/2 c. warm (105-115 degrees) water
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
3-4 1/2 c. flour
In a large bowl (the bowl of your mixer, if you have one), combine water, sugar, and yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes or until yeast is bubbly.  

Add salt and stir. Add 1 1/2 c. flour and mix well. Gradually add more flour (usually between 3-4 cups, depending on your elevation and your humidity) until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and it barely sticks to your finger.

 Spray a glass or metal bowl with cooking spray and place dough in the bowl. Cover and allow to rise for 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove dough from bowl and roll into a circle (if using a pizza stone) or a rectangle (if using a cookie sheet).  Poke a fork all over the dough. Place pizza sauce over dough, add cheese, then add whatever toppings you like.  Here I cut fresh mozzarella cheese into squares/rectangles and place over topping along with a little freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Cook for 20 minutes, or until the bottom is browned and cheese is bubbly.  

Homemade Pizza Sauce
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 Tbs Oregano + any fresh from the garden
1 Tbsp Garlic powder (a little less than)
1 heaping Tbsp Italian seasoning
a few shakes of Crushed red pepper (this is not does not make it spicy or hot)

Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender and blend until desired consistency. On the seasonings, I just sprinkle them in to taste. You can also substitute for whatever you don't have: basil leaves for oregano, garlic salt for garlic powder, etc. This recipe is open to interpretation. Use what you like and it will be delicious. This makes enough for two pizza stone size pizzas and a little extra.

You can even freeze the sauce for up to 1 month or keep in the refrigerator for up to a week or so.

Idea by me

Monday, April 18, 2016

Perfectly seasoned Grilled Chicken

My husband likes to cook the heck out of his meat.  He gets all worried about things like salmonella. Its a good thing too because me and the kids are constantly eating cookie batter, so at least someone is concerned about the risks :) BUT even though he loves his cripsy chicken, this rub, makes the chicken come out tender on the inside, every time!

It is one of our favorite ways to cook chicken.  And can be used in a variety of ways; get creative.  Pasta dishes, Chicken tacos, fajitas, wraps, salads, enchiladas, chicken salad sandwiches, really this takes the place of rotisserie chicken. So anywhere you would use cooked, diced or shredded chicken, this is your bag baby! Or serve it straight up with a little dipping sauce, which is typically how we eat it.

It is incredibly versatile in its baking method as well, it can be baked, cooked in a skillet or grilled and each way produces tender juicy chicken on the inside with a slightly crunchy outside.
Perfectly Juicy Chicken Rub
2-4 boneless chicken breasta with o
3 TBSP salt
3 TBSP pepper
3 TBSP garlic powder
3 TBSP onion powder
3 TBSP paprika
2-3 T. olive oil
Mix salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika in a small container. Place ¼ cup of seasoning mixture into a small bowl to use.  Store the rest in an air tight container for the next time.

Coat chicken breast in the seasoning, rubbing in to coat.  Grill for 5-6 minutes on each side until cooked through (internal temp of 160-165 degrees).

In the oven:
Coat the chicken breasts in the seasoning, rubbing in to coat. Pour olive oil in the bottom of a Dutch oven, and heat to med-high. When nice and hot, add chicken to the pan (in batches if necessary). Cook 2-3 min per side. If any chicken has been removed, add it back to the Dutch oven. Place uncovered Dutch oven in a 350 degree F oven for 25 minutes or until juices run clear. Let sit on a plate 5-10 minutes before cutting, shredding, or eating.

On the stove:

Flatten chicken to even thickness. Coat the chicken in the seasoning, rubbing in to coat.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add oil when it gets hot and swirl to coat the pan. Cook chicken for 1 minute without moving (you are not browning or searing them) only on one side. Flip the chicken breasts over.  Turn the heat to low, cover with a tight lid and cook for 10 minutes.  Do not open the lid. After the 10 minutes, turn off heat and let chicken sit in pan for 10 minutes without uncovering. Check internal temperature after 10 minutes. It should be 165 degrees. Slice and use. 

Recipe from here
and baking instructions from here

Friday, April 15, 2016

Brazilian Limeade {from scratch}

The weather around our parts aren't very consistent.  One day there is snow, the next I'm getting a sunburn from being outside for an hour, and then back to rainy and cold. Uhh, and I thought the sun was here to stay!

Since the weather isn't giving me the spring time feel I crave, I knew exactly what I need to make that would hit the spot. I had some extra limes left over after making guacamole, and put them to good use.
My sister Renae married a guy who served a two year mission in Brazil.  Luckily, one day while we were at their house, they whipped up these beauties reminiscent of his mission days. And I am so glad they did!. They are fresh, light, and tasty.  They don't taste like your typical limeade you make from a can or even the varieties from scratch (that really uses part of a can as well).  They key is to pulse the entire lime...yes, you heard me correctly!  The peel gives these a really great flavor.  Just pulse, don't blend though, so you can strain the large chunks out before drinking.

We added Raspberries to our because we have a plethera of frozen ones still, but you can leave it as it is, or add mangos, strawberries, or any combination of fruit to make it how you like.  If you want to make less than 5 glasses, I added a halved version.  It isn't exactly half of the ingredients.
Brazilian Limeade
2-3 limes, depending on how limey you like it
1 cup sugar
6 TBSP sweetened condensed milk
5 cups sugar
Raspberries, strawberries, mango (optional)

Wash limes, cut off ends and slice into quarters.  Put sugar, limes, water, ice in blender.  Pulse, do not blend.  Strain into a pitcher and throw away chunks.  Put back in blender and add fruit.  Slice a lime and float on top.  Serve in glass glasses.  You may need to do this in batches, depending on the size of your blender. 

Small batch is not exactly halved
2 limes
½ cup sugar
3 Tbs sweetened condensed milk

3 cups water

Wash limes, cut off ends and slice into quarters.  Put sugar, limes, water, ice in blender.  Pulse, do not blend.  Strain into a pitcher and throw away chunks.  Put back in blender and add fruit.  Slice a lime and float on top.  Serve in glass glasses.  You may need to do this in batches, depending on the size of your blender.

Recipe from my sister Renae and her husband Jeff
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