Saturday, July 12, 2014

Streusel Summer Berry Muffins

About 10 years ago I made these muffins for the first time, using a recipe I found on I added berries and a streusel topping and a family favorite was born. I remember standing in my kitchen listening to my husband and Mom rave about them. Year later when I started a catering business, I used a variation of this recipe to bake dozens and dozens of bakery style muffins.

The recipe is more time consuming than the box mix I used in the past, but they are worth the extra time - not too sweet, tender and addictive. The tart-sweet mixture of raspberries and blueberries and crunchy streusel add the perfect touches.

Streusel Summer Berry Muffins
adapted from Best Ever Muffins

2 cups unbleached flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup blueberries

1/4 cup unbleached flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon-sugar mix
2 tablespoons salted butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F or 375 degrees in convection oven. Prepare muffin pan with baking spray or paper liners.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Make well in center. In small bowl whisk egg and stir in milk, buttermilk, and oil. Pour all at once into well in flour mixture. Mix quickly and lightly with fork or fold gently with spatula until moistened; do not beat. Batter will be lumpy. Gently fold berries into batter. Use ice cream scoop to place in muffin pan cups or paper liners.

Bake 25 minutes or until golden.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies

For years one of my favorite cookie recipes has been these Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies from My husband is somewhat of a cookie purist and prefers either chocolate chip pecan, oatmeal pecan, or peanut butter, but I like a combo of the three.

I think my few changes to the recipe - almond butter and peanut butter, white whole wheat, almond flavor, toasted pecans, grated chocolate - make it even better.

Using an ice cream scoop, for me this recipe makes 15 nice-sized cookies that are slightly crisp on the edges and soft and melty inside.

Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from the Allrecipes version here

1/2 cup salted butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup almond butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg
3/4 cup unbleached flour
1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup rolled oats, pulsed a few times in food processor
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 oz grated German chocolate
1/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In medium bowl, cream together butter and sugars until smooth. Add peanut butter, almond butter, vanilla, almond extract, and egg until well blended. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; mix on low speed just until combined.

Mix oats,chocolate chips, grated chocolate, and pecans; add to dough and mix on low speed until evenly distributed.

Use cookie scoop and drop dough on prepared pans, about 3 inches apart. Slightly flatten, and bake 10 to 12 minutes until edges start to brown. Cool on cookie sheets about 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Red Velvet Cake

My husband watched one of those "how it's made" shows about red velvet cake production and immediately requested red velvet cake. After about a week he reminded me he was still craving it, so I decided that in spite of our attempts at healthier eating, red velvet cake would hit the spot. A previous attempt at red velvet cake was made with butter, and it was good but not stellar. After some research I decided that an oil-based recipe would be more moist than one made with butter and chose Martha Stewart's recipe.

We loved this cake! It was moist, more chocolatey than most red velvet cakes, had a nice texture between light and dense, and tasted wonderful with cream cheese frosting. It's the kind of cake that you want for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We had to give away part of it to keep from eating it all.

Lighting was bad the day I made it, so photos are not the greatest!

Red Velvet Cake
adapted from Martha Stewart

2-1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups canola oil
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons white vinegar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put parchment paper in bottom of two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans and spray generously with baking spray. Sprinkle with cocoa and tap out excess.

Whisk flour, salt, and cocoa; set aside.

Combine sugar and oil and beat on medium speed until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add food coloring and vanilla, and beat until well combined. Add flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk, scraping sides of bowl with spatula as needed.

In small bowl, mix baking soda and vinegar until combined. Add to batter, and mix on low 10 seconds. Evenly divide batter between prepared pans.

Bake until cake tester inserted in center of each cake comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool in pans 5 minutes. Remove from pans and return to rack to cool completely. After cake is completely cool, frost with choice of frosting. (I refrigerate it after frosting it.)

1 - 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1 stick salted butter, softened
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar, mixing until smooth after each addition. Add vanilla and beat well.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Rainbow Quilt Finished!

I am very happy with this quilt! I finished it on Saturday and gave it to the pastor on Sunday. In the card I let her know that I am still working on the label and will sew it on for her when it is ready. I've decided to name the quilt "You're the Rainbow To My Cloud", from a quote by Maya Angelou.

The back of the quilt was a mix of fabric blocks using fabrics from the quilt front, plus a tie-dye fabric that brought all the colors together. I thought the swirl in the pattern complimented the "motion" of the pinwheels on the front.

Color range red, orange, yellow, green

Color range blues, purple


The binding was the same fabric as the darker fabric on the pinwheels.

I quilted free-style horizontal waves with the walking foot. With the exception of a small glitch, I loved the way it turned out.

Quilt front

Thanks to my patient quilt-holding husband, who begged me not to include his legs.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Rainbow Quilt

One of the associate pastors of our church has been appointed to another church, and since we moved here less than a year ago, she and I have enjoyed an all-too-brief period of getting to know one another. From the first time we shared Starbucks until now, I experience a lift to my spirit every time I see her. She is one of those people that makes you feel not only accepted but cherished - that is a rare gift.

She will still live close enough to visit from time to time, but I wanted to commemorate her leaving by making her something special. She recently shared vacation photos of rainbows and mentioned that rainbows have a special meaning for her. I haven't heard that story yet, but I decided a rainbow quilt of some sort would be a perfect gift. I looked at several patterns, but when I thumbed through the March/April 2014 McCall's Quilting, I found exactly what I wanted.

This quilt, called "Prism" by designer and quilter Abigail Dolinger of Aby Quilts, was easily adapted to a rainbow theme. I pulled from my stash, rather than purchase new fabric, and I like the way it's coming together so far.

Reds through yellows

Yellows/oranges through greens/blues

Blues through purples

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

My First Gluten Free Yeast Bread!

I've been tasked with creating a gluten free communion bread for my church. Baking yeast bread is like second nature to me, but this is my first venture with anything other than wheat-based flours. I have a lot to learn!

This highly rated gluten free sandwich bread recipe from the Land O'Lakes website is my first attempt, and we had it on our BLTs. It was tasty but very crumbly. My husband said it wasn't "as sweet" as regular bread, but otherwise he liked it. I subbed 1/2 cup almond meal for part of the flour, so I don't know if that was responsible for the crumbly texture or if I baked it too long. Overall I was pleased and will definitely keep working on perfecting my gluten free skills.

Gluten Free Sandwich Bread

1 cup warm milk (about 110ºF)
1/4 cup sugar
2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2-1/2 cups gluten-free flour blend (I used Hodgson Mill GF Baking Mix and subbed 1/2 cup Trader Joe's almond meal
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup salted Butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs

Combine milk, sugar and yeast in bowl; set aside 10 minutes.

Combine flour blend and salt in large stand mixer bowl; beat with stand mixer on low speed, gradually adding yeast mixture until well combined. Add butter and eggs; beat, scraping bowl occasionally, until well mixed. Increase speed to high; beat about 3 minutes or until batter is very smooth. Cover and let rise in warm place 1 hour.

Grease 8x4-inch loaf pan. Stir dough; pour into pan, leveling top. Loosely cover with greased plastic food wrap; let rise 20-30 minutes or until just above top edge of pan.

In the meantime heat oven to 350°F. Bake 42-50 minutes or until top is golden brown. Remove bread from pan; cool completely on cooling rack.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

mediterranean white bean tuna salad

I recently received the first issue of an attractive coupon and recipe booklet from Kroger called My Magazine and was drawn to several of the recipes inside. One was this Mediterranean White Bean Salad submitted and artfully demonstrated online by Kroger shopper Cecilly. With radishes, tuna, and white beans dressed brightly with fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, it was a welcome change to my menu. I changed the recipe a bit with what I had on hand.

Mediterranean White Bean Tuna Salad
adapted from a Kroger recipe

1 - 5 oz can solid white tuna in water, drained
1 - 15 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 radishes cleaned, trimmed and chopped
2 green onions, diced
6 green olives, diced
1/2 roasted red pepper, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and gently mix until incorporated. Serve with tortilla chips. Refrigerate leftovers.