Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Bakery-Style Blueberry Streusel Muffins

See this lovely picture below?  I didn't take that awesome picture.  The girl at littlesweetbaker.com did.  However, when I made these muffins, they actually looked like that when I took them out!  I couldn't believe my eyes.  These muffins come out so tall and perfectly-streuseled.  They were so delicious, too!  My son ate three of them and said they were the best blueberry muffins he's ever had- but then again, he's 7.  They were pretty darn close to being the best I've tasted!  They turned out perfect. Box mixes are dead to me.

BAKERY STYLE BLUEBERRY STREUSEL MUFFINS. A buttery, soft and fluffy muffin that's loaded with juicy blueberries and topped with a crunchy sweet cinnamon streusel on a sky-high muffin top. You must try this recipe!
Recipe and Photo Source: http://littlesweetbaker.com/2015/02/13/bakery-style-blueberry-streusel-muffins/

Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients:
  • 2 & ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk (any kind, whole or buttermilk is best)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 & ½ cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

  • For the streusel topping
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp unsalted butter, melted
  • ⅛ tsp ground cinnamon

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place muffin liners in a muffin pan.

Prepare the streusel topping.  Put the ingredients in a bowl and use a fork to mix until it resembles coarse crumbs.

In a large bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Whisk to combine.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, add the melted butter and sugar.  Whisk to combine.  Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla.  Whisk until smooth.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Gently stir with a rubber spatula and flour is incorporated.  Gently fold in the blueberries.

Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 full.  Top with streusel topping.

Bake for 5 minutes.  Reduce the temperature to 375 and bake another 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.






Lasagna Soup

It's still a blazing 110 degrees here in Las Vegas, but sometimes I just want some soup!  I stumbled upon this recipe a few days ago and gave it a whirl.  It was fantastic!  It seriously tasted just like lasagna in soup form.  It took only about ten minutes to prepare and about 20 to cook.  My family gobbled it down like they haven't eaten in two weeks.  Serve it with a salad and some fresh french bread, and you've got one easy, simple dinner!
Lasagna Soup | Cooking Classy

Lasagna Soup
Photo and Recipe source: http://www.cookingclassy.com/2013/12/lasagna-soup/

Serves 6-8
Ingredients:


  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced (2 cups)
  • 3 - 5 garlic cloves, to taste, minced
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 3/4 tsp dried basil
  • 3/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 8 lasagna noodles, broken into bite size pieces (6.5 oz)
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (5 oz)
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded parmesan cheese (2 oz)
  • 8 oz ricotta cheese

Heat 1 T of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Brown the hamburger until no longer pink.  Drain the fat and remove the hamburger onto a plate.

Heat up the remaining 1 T of oil.  Cook the onions for about five minutes.  Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds.

Add the chicken broth, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and seasonings. Add the hamburger back in.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Break up the lasagna noodles into bite-size pieces.  

Bring to a boil. reduce heat, and cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

In a bowl, combine the mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, and ricotta cheese.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a scoop or two of the cheese mixture.  Sprinkle with fresh parsley.






Triple Lemon Cheesecake

Do you ever have those "when it rains, it pours" moments.  Well, we've had one of those years.  Here are some things that we have to to fix/replace/pay for in the past few months:
Garage Door repair- $360
New tires- $500
New wheel- $160
Dental insurance mishap- $650
Oven repair- $320

Then, flashback to the week of my birthday.  I was trying to re-string my guitar that I got almost 20 years ago.  In some weird freak accident, one of the strings got caught and stuck.  I busted out my MacGuyver hat and tried every means possible to get that darn string out of there.  Every... means... possible.  All to no avail.  I was out a guitar, and it broke my heart!   That thing is a part of me.  Two days later, my phone just randomly shuts off.  I plug it in, and it vibrates, flashes the word "Google" and shuts off.  Over and over and over again.  All night long.  I tried a soft reset, a hard reset, removing the non-removable battery.  Nothing.  Vibrate.  Google.  Off.  Vibrate.  Google.  Off.  AHH!  I wake up on my birthday all bummed that my phone and guitar are no more.  I decide to go to T-mobile and get another phone that isn't too fancy.  I'm simple with things like that.  I got a new phone and was feeling pretty good.  Later, we went to Grimaldi's and met all of my family there for a birthday dinner.  Grimaldi's always makes me happy.  :)  At the end of dinner, my dad asks my brother to go get a box out of their car.  He comes back in with a guitar!  I wanted to cry because I was so excited.  It's a beautiful new Classical guitar, and I adore it!  It's absolutely beautiful.  A pretty crummy week turned out fabulous.

I made this cheesecake for my birthday cake, and we invited everyone over to have some.  It's a good thing because I would have eaten the entire thing in a couple sittings.  It was so amazing.  I'm salivating just thinking about it.  It may be one of the better cheesecakes that I've ever made.  I'm on a cheesecake kick which is dangerous because I'm trying not to eat sweets.  This is worth every calorie and fat gram.  I may have to make it again soon because it was so ridiculously good.

Triple Lemon Cheesecake
source: http://www.gratefulprayerthankfulheart.com/2012/01/triple-lemon-cheesecake.html

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 1 cup granulated sugar 1 tablespoon lemon zest, finely grated 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature 1 cup sour cream 2 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh squeezed 3 large eggs 1/2 cup lemon curd, store bought or follow the recipe below 

Homemade lemon curd:
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
grated rind from 2 lemons (I used about 2 rounded Tablespoons)
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly

Whipped cream

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350.

Butter the sides and bottom of a 9 inch springform pan.  Get out a large roasting pan.

Start a pot of water and get it to boiling for the water bath.

In a large bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter.  Stir to combine.  Press this mixture into the bottom of the springform pan.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Cool.  

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Put the sugar and lemon zest into a food processor and pulse until fine.

In your mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed first, and increasing it to medium until it's light and fluffy.  Slowly add the sugar mixture, stopping to scrape down the sides every so often.  Beat until smooth.

Add sour cream and lemon juice.  Mix until smooth.  Add the eggs, one at a time, until smooth and well-incorporated.

Wrap the outside of the springform pan with heavy duty aluminum foil.  Wrap it well!  If you don't water from the bath will seep in.

Pour the filling onto the baked crust.  Place the springform pan in the roasting pan.  Pour the boiling water in the roasting pan until it comes up halfway.

Bake for 70-80 minutes or until the edges are set but the center is almost set and is still slightly jiggly. Don't over-bake it!  It will firm as it cools.

Remove the roasting pan and let the cheesecake sit in the water bath for 15 minutes while it's on the counter.  Remove from the bath, cool on a wire rack.

Remove the foil, loosely cover the cheesecake, and let it chill overnight.  This is where the magic happens!  Goodness... it is perfect the next day.

Prepare the lemon curd:

In a microwave-safe bowl, add the sugar and eggs and whisk well.  Stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest, and butter.

Cook in microwave, on high power, for 3-4 minutes.  
Cook for one minute, remove and stir.  (2x)
Cook for 30 seconds, remove and stir
Cook for 15 seconds, remove and stir (3x)

That made mine perfect!  Pour into a glass bowl and let it cool.  Serve on top of the cheesecake.

Top that with whipped cream.

Last instruction- try not to eat it all.  I want some!

Grilled, Marinated Chicken with Vegetables

Sometimes my husband gets burnt out with chicken.  He wants nothing to do with it.  I like it because it's cheap, versatile, and easy to prepare.  Well, I had nothing else to do one night, so I found this recipe in a new cookbook that I bought from Sam's Club.  I can never have too many grilling cookbooks!  This marinade was actually for a whole chicken to be smoked.  I just had chicken breasts, so I used those.  I let it marinade for about four hours.  The recipe in the book didn't include the vegetables, but don't they look fabulous?  They were delicious, too.  When my husband took his first bite, he looked at the chicken, looked at me, and back at the chicken.  He asked, "Where did you get this recipe?"  I told him, and he said, "Don't you ever lose this recipe."  There you have it my friends!  This is the marinade to make for the man that never wants chicken again.  It was fabulous!  It was flavorful!  It was everything that grilled chicken should be.  

Grilled, Marinated Chicken with Vegetables
source: Grill Nation by David Guas

Chicken Marinade:
3 T olive oil
2 T peanut oil
2 T chopped fresh parsley
1 T chopped fresh basil
1 T chopped fresh oregano
1 T lemon juice
1 T Dijon mustard
2 t dark brown sugar
2 t Worcestershire
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2-1 t table salt
1/4 t black pepper

Chicken breasts, trimmed of all nastiness

For the vegetables:
asparagus, ends snapped off
zucchini, sliced
yellow, orange, or red bell pepper, sliced
red onion, cut into thin slices and quartered
grape tomatoes

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a Ziplock bag.  Add the chicken and marinade for 4-8 hours.  The longer, the better, my friends!

Preheat the grill medium heat between 350-400 degrees.

Place all the vegetables on a grill platter or basket.  If you don't have that, you can broil the vegetables for ten minutes about five inches from the heat source.

Place the vegetables on one side of the grill, and put the chicken on the other side.  Grill the chicken for 4-5 minutes per side or until a thermometer reaches 165 degrees.

Rotate the vegetables half way through and toss them.  Grill them for about ten minutes total or until desired doneness is reached.

Serve the vegetables and chicken on a platter.


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Cream Cheese Glaze

One morning for breakfast, we went to this amazing place called "Rise and Shine Cafe" in Southern Highlands.  Hands down the most amazing breakfast place I've ever been to.  Their eggs benedict and hash browns makes my taste buds dance like a couple of tweens listening to One Direction music.  This time when I went, I got the red velvet pancakes.  My goodness... Sweet mercy... Best pancakes ever.  I wish I could have eaten every last bite.  They were amazing!  Well, thank goodness for Pinterest!  I found this recipe for red velvet pancakes, and they were pretty darn close!  My family thought they were incredible and request them all the time.  They do take come effort, but they are well worth it!

Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Cream Cheese Glaze
source: cookingclassy.com

yield: 16 pancakes

2 c flour
3 T cocoa powder
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
2 c milk
2 T white vinegar
1/2 c sugar
2 lg eggs
1 1/2 T red food coloring
2 t vanilla
1/3 c salted butter, melted

mini chocolate chips

Cream Cheese Glaze:
3 oz cream cheese, softened
3 T butter, softened
1 c powdered sugar
1/4 c milk, more if desired
1/2 t vanilla

Preheat a griddle over medium heat or an electric griddle to 350 degrees.

Make the cream cheese glaze:
In a mixing bowl, cream the cream cheese and butter until fluffy.  Add in the powdered sugar and mix well.  Add the milk, a little bit at a time until your desired consistency is reached.  Add in the vanilla.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Measure the milk in a liquid measuring cup and add the vinegar.  Let this mixture set for a few minutes.  Pour this into a large mixing bowl and add the sugar, eggs, red food coloring, vanilla, and melted butter.  Mix well.  While still whisking, add in the flour mixture.

Pour about 1/4 c of batter onto the hot griddle.  Use a spoon to spread the pancakes out so they aren't thicker in the middle.

Optional: Sprinkle on some mini chocolate chips.  Not too many- just enough to get a bit of chocolate flavor in without it being too sweet.

Once the top has some bubbles popping on the surface, flip the pancake and cook the other side for about 1 minute.  

Place two pancakes on a plate.  Put a small pile of chocolate chips in the center like in the photo above.  Drizzle with the cream cheese glaze.

Enter extreme salivation.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Strawberry Coffee Cake Muffins

My son told me about his dream from last night.  In short, there was a hole in our back yard, and the kids heard a growl.  My son said it was a tiger, and my oldest daughter didn't believe him.  Sure enough, a tiger pops out of the hole, and I beat it with a rake and shoo it back into the ground.  Take that tiger!!  Aren't dreams awesome?!  

Now you can awake from your awesome dreams and make these delicious muffins for breakfast.  They are tender, delicious, and all that a muffin should be!  Enjoy!


Strawberry Coffee Cake Muffins
source: livingbettertogether.com

Muffins:
1/4 c softened butter
3/4 c white sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 c flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 c milk or buttermilk
1 1/2 c fresh strawberries, diced small

Crumble:
1/4 c butter, cold
1/2 c flour
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c sugar

Preheat the oven to 375.

Line a muffin pan with liners.

Cream butter and sugars in a mixing bowl for two minutes or until the mixture is light in color and fluffy.

Add the egg and vanilla.  Mix well.

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Whisk to combine.  Add this to the mixing bowl alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour.

Gently toss in the strawberries.

Divide evenly among 12 muffin cups.

In a bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, and sugar.  Using a fork, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle this over the raw muffin batter.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350.  Bake for 18-20 minutes.



Grilled Molasses Flank Steak with Watermelon Salsa

Being that I'm a mom of three, I don't really get much time for naps.  When the kids were preoccupied earlier this week, I tried to lie down on the couch for a quick shut-eye.  The kids' mom-is-trying-to-nap-so-let's-be-crazy internal alarm went off in full mode.  They started arguing.  They started building and destroying Lincoln Log buildings.  They started watching random Youtube videos.  Sigh.  I opened my eyes and pleaded with every shred of desperation I could muster that they could try to be quiet for just 15 minutes.  They were.  I slowly started to drift off into the blissful land of afternoon power nap.  Before lying down, I tucked my phone under my arm since my youngest has a bad habit of snagging my phone when I'm not looking to go onto Kids' Youtube.  I had been asleep for only a few minutes when I felt a tiny little hand slowly reach over my arm and ever-so-slowly start to pull my phone out.  Stinker!  I opened my eyes, and she smiled at me.  I asked what she was doing.  She said, "Hi Mom.  I'm just getting your phone so I could watch some videos real quick."  I gave her the phone in the hopes that I could doze off again, only to have my husband yell a question to me from the other room.  *Sigh*  Why do I even bother?

Now for this recipe.  I was really nervous making a fruit salsa to go over meat.  My husband can be a bit picky when fruit comes into play.  Fruit in muffins?  Nope.  Fruit in pies?  Nope.  Fruit in salsa?  Nope.  Not usually.  He tried this stuff and said that it was great.  He ate it over the perfectly tender steak and loved every bite.  I don't usually buy flank steak because it can be really tough.  Not this stuff!  It melted in my mouth even though it was a tad bit overdone for my taste.   When it's 110 outside, the grill tends to get a little hotter than other places.  Even if this recipe is not something that sounds good to you, give it a shot!  If nothing else, use the marinade on the flank steak and leave off the salsa.  It won't disappoint!
Grilled Molasses Flank Steak with Watermelon Salsa Recipe


Grilled Molasses Flank Steak with Watermelon Salsa
photo source: Jennifer Davick; Food Styling: Amy Wilson 
http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/grilled-molasses-flank-steak#

source: Grill Nation, by David Guas, pg. 176

Ingredients:

3/4 c molasses
1/3 c soy sauce
1/4 c canola oil
1/4 c lemon juice
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T fresh grated ginger (or 2 t dried)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 t dried crushed red pepper

1 2-lb flank steak

Watermelon Salsa:
1 c diced, unpeeled nectarine
2 jalapeno, seeded and minced (I cut this way down since no one in my family likes heat)
1 T sugar
3 T fresh lime juice
2 t orange zest
2 t fresh ginger (or 1/2 t dried)
2 c seeded and diced watermelon
1/2 c chopped cilantro
1/3 c diced red onion

Combine the first 8 ingredients in a baking dish.  Stir to combine.  Add the flank steak.  Cover it, and chill in the fridge for 4-12 hours.  

Prepare the watermelon salsa just before grilling the steak.  Combine the first six ingredients.  Stir to mix well.  Add the watermelon, cilantro, and red onion.  Gently toss.  Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

Remove steak from the marinade.  Discard the marinade.

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat (400-450 degrees).  Grill the steak for 9 minutes on each side.  Remove and let it rest of 10 minutes.  Slice thinly across the grain.  Serve with the watermelon salsa.

I'm telling you!  This steak turns out fabulous!