Thursday, July 31, 2014

Double Blueberry bonus!

Saturday morning we all went out blueberry picking.  It was a beautiful summer morning and we knew there would be plenty of berries ripe for the picking and there were.  The whole family loves blueberry treats of one form or another.  Whether it is blueberries floating in the Cheerios bowl, a great new coffeecake, a cobbler or even homemade blueberry ice cream we knew that we needed to pick quite a few to please all of our request. That is what we did...probably around 10 pounds or two berry buckets full.

Okay, so not all of the berries made the buckets!


After about a half hour of picking our way through the patch, we loaded up the car and headed towards home, but not before a stop for this photo opportunity.

Remember Children of the Corn!


So, late afternoon hubby and I started our respective blueberry projects.  His was a cake I found in our Fine Cooking Cookbook, Berry Buttermilk  Cake with Vanilla Creme Fraiche.  Mine was Blueberries and Cream Ice Cream.  And when all was done we froze quite a few bags of berries for later and then left a bowl of clean berries in the refrigerator for cereal.

Now the ice cream was pretty straight forward but takes awhile to make and harden.  

Blueberries and Cream Ice Cream (From Williams and Sonoma)

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries or frozen blueberries
      (see Note)
  • 3⁄4 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice


In a heavy 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the fresh blueberries, water and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to help dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let stand for 30 minutes to steep.

Transfer the blueberry mixture to a food processor and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.

Add the cream and lemon juice to the blueberry puree and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days, before serving. Makes about 1 quart.

Note: If using frozen blueberries, make the sugar syrup by combining the water and sugar in a saucepan, bringing the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, and cooking it until clear, about 1 minute. Put the frozen blueberries in a heatproof bowl and pour the syrup over them. Let cool and then transfer to the food processor. Proceed with the recipe.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Ice Cream, by Mary Goodbody (Simon & Schuster, 2003).

Our new cake recipe was pretty easy, but we learned a valuable lesson....leave the cake in the pan longer than the recipe calls for.  10 minutes to cool, when the weather is this warm is not enough.  Leave it there for an hour.  If you sprayed the pan with cooking spray it won't stick.  And the other lesson is to skip the Vanilla Creme Fraiche and just make homemade whipped cream! The cake was delicious even though it came out of the pan with some issues.

Berry Buttermilk Cake with Vanilla Creme Fraiche (From Fine Cooking)

For the crumb topping:
2-1/4 oz. (1/2 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 oz. (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, chilled
For the cake:
2 cups fresh blueberries, raspberries, or a mix
13-1/2 oz. (3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pan and for the berries
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature; more for the pan
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups buttermilk
For the vanilla crème fraîche: ( I would suggest Whipped Cream, but here is the ingredients for the crème fraîche
1 lb. (2 cups) crème fraîche
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 Tbs. granulated sugar

Make the crumb topping:
Mix the flour, brown sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Cut the butter into chunks and add to the dry mixture. Rub the flour and butter between your fingers until the mixture just comes together and has a nice crumbly texture. (This topping can be made ahead and stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for up to a week.)
Make the cake:
Rinse the berries well in a colander under running water and spread on paper towels. Let the berries air-dry for at least 15 min. Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter and flour a 12-cup bundt pan. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand-held electric mixer, whip the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 min. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well for 15 seconds after each addition. Scrape the bowl, add the vanilla, and continue whipping until the mixture is light and fluffy, 1 to 2 min. On low speed, add the dry ingredients one-third at a time, alternating with the buttermilk 1/2 cup at a time. After the last addition of buttermilk, scrape the bowl, increase the speed to medium and beat for about 15 seconds to mix the batter fully.

Transfer the berries to a medium bowl and toss gently with 2 tsp. flour. Gently fold the berries into the cake batter with a rubber spatula to avoid crushing the berries too much. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan with the spatula, level the batter, and sprinkle with the crumb topping.

Bake until a toothpick or wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake, 45 to 55 min. Let the cake rest for 10 min. before turning it out onto a rack.****(Note - suggest you leave in 1 hour) Flip the cake back over so that the crumb topping is on top. Let cool completely and wrap tightly. Store at room temperature overnight before slicing.
Make the vanilla crème fraîche:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or with a hand-held electric mixer, whip the crème fraîche, vanilla extract, and sugar until soft peaks form, about 2 min. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
To serve:
Slice the cake and serve each slice with a dollop of the crème fraîche.
For the best flavor, make both the cake and its topping one day in advance

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Old Fashioned Chicken and Gravy over Rice -Crockpot Style



After a very busy weekend in the garden and the kitchen, it was time to come home from work and have dinner almost ready to eat.  Hubby has been trolling through my Facebook feeds or Pinterest postings and found a chicken dish for the crock pot.  Now, he doesn't like to just follow the recipes to the letter, he likes to examine them and see where he can make improvements where as some people like to try it the way it is written the first time then make improvements and changes the second time they make it.  I think you will like his improvements to give his recipe a try.

Chicken and Gravy over Rice


2 packets dry chicken gravy mix
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups water
1/2 cup sautéed onions
1 cup of carrots ( we used the small carrots found in the produce section)
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
garlic powder, salt & black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup sour cream 
 4 cups of cooked rice
Sliced scallions


Season chicken breasts with garlic powder, black pepper and just a pinch of salt on both sides, about a teaspoon.   

In your slow cooker, whisk together the gravy packets, cream of chicken soup, water and sautéed onions. Whisk until smooth. Add the seasoned chickens breast, carrots and cover with gravy.  Cook covered for 6 to 8 hours on low.  Or adjust your times based on how your crock pot functions.  Ours tend to cook faster than normal, but then again it is 23 years old!

Once the chicken is cooked through, break it up with a fork into small pieces. Stir in sour cream and serve over rice, mashed potatoes or noodles. Garnish with sliced scallions.

This came out wonderful and the additions he made we just right.  Maybe someday he will let me back in the kitchen.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Lots of Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad with Goat Cheese and Arugula

So, when hubby stayed home the other day to cook he asked for a new salad recipe.  I had this one on my Pinterest page and thought it was worth the try.  It was just going to be my husband, myself and our son who loves pasta for dinner that night, so I knew we would have it covered with him.  While I was gone  he whipped this up and put the pasta, beans and cheese  in one bowl in the refrigerator and the dressing in another and he would mix it together right before we sat down to dinner that night.
I had not paid attention because I was out all afternoon and knew he had dinner covered. So later in the afternoon when my daughter and I got back from my mothers house, she opened up the refrigerator and took a small dish of the salad to try.  She was working that night and would not be around for the complete dinner.  As she was eating it she asked if this was all there was to the salad and not having been there I said "I think so".  "Well it is kind of dry Mom" was the reply. 
So dinner time came along and hubby pulls out the salad bowl and then the dressing bowl and started to mix them up.   Now it became clear that our daughter really didn't taste the true salad, just the pasta, beans and cheese and that was why it was dry.  I sent her this picture and asked if anything looked different....
This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart 's recipe.  We doubled the dressing for this and suggest waiting until the pasta is cooled to mix with the goat cheese, otherwise the cheese will melt with the warm pasta.  In our opinion, the salad tasted better the second day.  


Coarse salt and ground pepper
3/4 pound gemelli or other short pasta
1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup crumbled fresh goat cheese (3 ounces)
6 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 bunch arugula (8 ounces), torn
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced


In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente. Drain pasta and rinse under cold water. Allow to cool.  When Pasta is cool, toss pasta with beans and goat cheese in a large bowl, otherwise the cheese will melt.
Make dressing: In a bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, and mustard and season with salt and pepper. (To store, refrigerate pasta mixture and dressing separately, up to 1 day.) To serve, toss pasta mixture with dressing, arugula, and onion

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Blueberry Time!

  Hubby was itching to cook this weekend, so I let him.  I am not stupid.  If a man wants to cook for you, you let him.  Just like if a man want to take you out to dinner, you let him. (Hint, weekend?)

With it being right in the middle of blueberry season you have to take full advantage of it.  So out came the binder and the blueberry cake recipes we had accumulated.  We chose the Cooking Light Recipe from 1998. After a two week vacation I will take all of the lighter calorie recipes I can get.   I probably have this one from many years ago when I was a regular subscriber, but we had a new copy printed.

Now he thought he had all the ingredients on hand, but that was not the case.  So, when I was out at my mother's house while she had her sister and our cousins in for a visit, hubby was busy in the kitchen.  He not only made the dessert, but a salad i found and chicken kebabs for dinner.  I believe he's had to make an extra trip to the store while I was gone for his day of cooking.  The end result was wonderful. 

Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake


  • 2 cups granulated sugar 
  • 1/2 cup light butter 
  • 1/2 (8-ounce) block 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
  • large eggs 
  • large egg white 
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • (8-ounce) carton lemon low-fat yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice 


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Beat first 3 ingredients at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended (about 5 minutes). Add eggs and egg white, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 2 tablespoons flour and blueberries in a small bowl, and toss well. Combine remaining flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with yogurt, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in blueberry mixture and vanilla; pour cake batter into a 10-inch tube pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
  3. Cool cake in pan 10 minutes; remove from pan. Combine powdered sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl; drizzle over warm cake. Cut with a serrated knife.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Sunday Barbecue!

I started this post awhile ago and didn't get to finish it.  But Sunday is just around the corner so this might be a good time to get it out there.  Hubby found the chicken recipe on his recent Food Network searches and he said it reminded him of the Cornell Barbecue Chicken Recipe.  Now if you have never had the Cornell sauce you don't know what you are missing.  Reminds me of the roadside fireman's chicken barbecue you see during the summer. 

Now the potato salad recipe was something I found while browsing through my Food and Wine magazine.  I am not a fan of mayonnaise based salads, especially potato and macaroni.  The idea of using fingerling potatoes interested me and when you grilled them I was ready to give it a try. This is a refreshing take on potato salad.

Everything came out delicious and worthy of a repeat real soon!

Trisha Yearwood Barbecue Chicken

Three 2 1/2-pound frying chickens, split
4 tablespoons salt
BBQ Sauce:
1 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup peanut oil
1 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the chicken: Put the chicken halves in a very large bowl or deep pot and cover with water. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the salt in the water, cover and refrigerate the chickens for 6 hours or overnight.

For the BBQ sauce: In a saucepan, mix together the vinegar, remaining tablespoon salt, peanut oil, hot sauce, black pepper, 1/4 cup water and cayenne. Bring this mixture to a boil, stir well and remove from the heat.

Drain the chicken, pat dry and place the halves on the grill, skin side up. Baste with the sauce and cook for 30 minutes. Turn the chickens skin side down and baste the top with sauce. Continue to grill the chickens for an additional 30 minutes, turning and basting the chicken every 10 minutes. Check for doneness by twisting a drumstick; it should move easily.

Cook's Note: If you cannot find small chickens, use larger ones (3 to 3 1/2 pounds) and quarter them.

Grilled Potato Salad with Scallions

1 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes
Kosher salt
10 scallions, trimmed
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
Ground black pepper
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Piment d’Espelette (see Note)
1 small jalapeño, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
In a large saucepan, cover the potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt and simmer over moderate heat until just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly, then halve lengthwise.

Meanwhile, light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Brush the scallions with oil and season with salt and black pepper. Grill over high heat, turning, until lightly charred, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate, cover with plastic wrap and let steam for 10 minutes. Cut the scallions into 1-inch lengths.
Brush the potatoes with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill cut side down over high heat until lightly charred, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

In a large bowl, whisk the 1/3 cup of olive oil with the vinegar and lemon juice. Add the scallions and potatoes and toss well. Season with salt and piment d’Espelette and toss again. Scatter the jalapeño slices on top, garnish with a large pinch of piment d’Espelette and serve warm or at room temperature.

Make Ahead Piment d’Espelette, a mildly spicy ground red pepper from the Basque region of France, is available at specialty food shops and


Now, if you want to try the real thing here is the recipe for the Cornell Chicken Barbecue Sauce

Developed by the late Robert C. Baker, Professor of Poultry Science and Food Science.

Recipe for Barbecue Sauce (enough for 10 halves):

1 cup cooking oil
1 pint cider vinegar
3 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 egg

Beat the egg, then add the oil and beat again. Add other ingredients and stir. The recipe can be varied to suit individual tastes. 
    When I have made this sauce I have par-boiled my chicken before grilling, then I marinate the chicken and continue to brush the sauce on as it cooks.