7.31.2012

TWD Baking with Julia: Blueberry Nectarine Pie


.  This is an exciting one and I want to get right into it.

Tuesdays with Dorie has done me in again.  And I loved every bite of it.

Let's be real, this Blueberry Nectarine Pie [that you're hopefully drooling over right now] is easily one of the best pies I've made and probably ever tasted.  No joke.  After making this, and devouring most of it by my lonesome [because I wouldn't share with anyone else], I realized how much I love pies.  I mean, I've always known it.  But this pie just solidified it.  Sorry all you other treats.


Ha, I guess that's all I really have to say.  And it's basically all you need to know.  If you don't, at the bare minimum, at least bookmark/pin this recipe, you are doing your taste buds a disservice.  And who would ever want to do that?

Well...I guess I could at least try to begin describing what it is that I can't stop talking about.  And anyone who's been around in me in the last week knows I haven't stopped talking about this pie.  Sorry friends.

First, top two pie crust EVER.  If you ever read my Bumbleberry Pie post, then you know that I thought that crust was to die for.  But this crust gives my former favorite recipe a run for its money [or butter...har, har].  This crust is so dang flakey it's ridiculous.  A slight touch with the fork sends this buttery crust softly falling atop the blueberry-nectarine filling deliciousness that I could have eaten by the spoonful.  Oh wait... I did that.

I mean really, who can deny a carby, buttery, flakey pie crust paired with a refreshingly juicy fruit filling?  Because if you slap something like that in front of me, I have no chance.  Willpower goes straight out the window.  I'll thank my mom and her sweet tooth for that ☺


So by now you shouldn't need any prompting, but head on over to our hosts for this month, Manchego's Kitchen and That Skinny Chick Can Bake, for the Blueberry Nectarine Pie recipe.  And also check out all of the other TWD participants posts about this lovely summery pie. 

Thanks ladies for hosting, this is my favorite recipe thus far!  .

My Notes:
  • For those of you intimidated by pie crust making, this recipe is for you.  You might be able to tell from my picture that I added a bit too much water to my crust and for whatever reason, I didn't feel like fixing it (i.e., adding in a bit more flour).  So when I went to roll the crust, it completely stuck to the counter.  I literally had to scrap the dough off and piece it into the pie pan.  Not your most traditional method but it worked and the pie was still ah-mazing!
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7.26.2012

Blueberry Pie Bars


.  Hey all.

It's Thursday, which means it's Foamer time around LSM.  Unfortunately I didn't make it to last weeks game because I was busy making [literally] 100 cupcakes for an event at work, but more to come about that later.

But the week before last, I did make it to the game and as [my own made up] tradition calls for, I brought along some unique bars.  Blueberry Pie Bars, to be precise.


The name alone got me hooked.  I mean, how could that not catch your attention?  Blueberry Pie.  In bite sized pieces?  I'm in.

The joy of these bars is that, aside from delicious bursts of juicy blueberries, is that this recipe calls for only one mix for the crust and crunchy topping.  Definitely one of the best ideas whoever it was came up with.

These bars are not like anything I've made or even tasted before.  And I'd have to attribute this fact to the filling.  Like I mentioned, the crust and topping are your classic buttery, shortbready, streusely combination.  But that filling...

I have a hard time coming up with words to even describe it actually.  The filling, though made with eggs, is rather light and almost airy.  For lack of a better word, almost sponge-like.  But regardless, I couldn't get enough of these bars.  I'm a sucker for fruity desserts and anything remotely close to a crust.  So these babies had my name written all over them.

If you haven't noticed, I've basically been an awful teammate this slow pitch softball season and yet again, I won't be making the game tonight.  Robbie and I have some surprise plans for the weekend, which I will fill you in on next week as well.  Lots of things to catch you all up on, huh?!  Can't wait!  .



Ingredients:
Crust and Topping:
1-1/2 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 c. unsalted butter, chilled

Filling:
2 large eggs
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. sour cream
3/8 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. almond extract
16 oz. fresh blueberries

Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 350°F.  Grease an 8x8-inch pan with non stick cooking spray; set aside.
  2. For the crust, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor.  Cut the butter into 1/2-inch pieces and add to flour mixture.  Process until the butter is evenly distributed but the mixture is still crumbly (about 30 to 60 seconds).
  3. Reserve 1-1/2 cups of the mixture for the topping; set aside.  Press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.
  4. For the filling, whisk eggs in a large bowl, then add the sugar, sour cream, flour, and almond extract.  Gently fold in blueberries.  Spoon the filling over the crust and sprinkle the reserved topping mixture evenly over the filling.
  5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes or until top turns golden brown.  Cool 1 hour before cutting and serving or serve out of pan cobbler style.
Yield: 16 bars


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7.23.2012

Secret Recipe Club: Baked 'Fried' Pickles


.  Yes, you read that right.  The title may make you think for a second but what you won't need to think twice about is how dang good these suckers are.  And outright addicting.

Baked 'Fried' Pickles.


One thing you might not know about me is that I am a straight pickle addict.  And I have been ever since I was little.  I remember eating [too many] pickles as after school snacks when I was younger and I have never kicked that pickle eating habit.  Plain, chopped, in dips, on sandwiches...pickles just make everything better.

And this new form of pickles I have discovered, thanks to Melissa from the make-my-mouth-water-blog Melissa's Cuisine, just may be my new favorite snack.  And a big shout out to SRC for once again taking me down new roads in my culinary adventure!


Have any of you ever had Fried Pickles before?  I first had them at the Minnesota State Fair and my life has never been the same.  If you've never had them, I give you permission to stop reading my post and find a place where you can get them.  You won't stop shoveling them into your mouth.

But the great thing about this recipe is that they're a bit healthier than the fried version.  Yet you still get the great crunch from the breadcrumbs along with the sour juiciness of the pickles.  Love it.


I know LSM is a baking blog, so you may be a bit surprised to see a savory recipe today.  I mean, we all know how the relationship between cooking and I goes.  But obviously I couldn't pass up trying out these pickles.  And Melissa's blog had an abundance of savory recipes that I have since bookmarked, including: Olive Garden Breadsticks, Baked Spinach Cups, and Pepperoni Pizza Bread.  So for this month, savory it was!  I couldn't help myself.

Thanks again, Melissa, for a great SRC!  Can't wait for August!  .


My Notes:
  • I doubled the batch of ingredients below, which was enough of the paste mixture for 2 jars of sliced pickles.  I told you I like my pickles...
  • This is a personal preference, but I liked the pickles that were coated a bit more with the breadcrumbs.  If you go too light, you don't get much of a crunch.  But test out different variations, and you'll find out what's best for your taste.
  • Just as a recommendation, these are best served straight out of the oven.  And since they're so quick and easy, I highly suggest doing this!  The only reason is because after the pickles sat out, I found that they got a little soggy.  
  • Robbie isn't a Ranch fan, but I guarantee that you will love these dipped in a bit of Ranch.  And you don't have to feel as guilty since they're baked, right?



Ingredients:
1 egg
3 to 4 tbsp. all purpose flour
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. seasoning salt
1/2 tsp. dill
2 to 3 dill pickles, thinly sliced
1-1/2 c. bread crumbs

Directions:
  1. Turn on broiler in oven (500°F).  Place bread crumbs into shallow bowl; set aside.  In another shallow bowl, beat egg.  Add in flour and mix until it's a consistency of a paste.
  2. Stir in the worcestershire sauce, seasoning salt, and dill until well combined.
  3. Add the pickles to the paste mixture and toss until well coated.
  4. One at a time, coat pickles with bread crumbs and place on cookie sheet.  Bake 4 to 6 minutes or until golden.  Remove from oven and flip over each pickle slice.  Bake an additional 3 to 4 minutes.  Serve immediately.
Yield: 2 dozen pickle slices


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7.17.2012

Tried & True Tuesday: Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

.  Hey guys!

I know, we're still doing Tried & True Tuesdays?  And my response?  Heck yes we are, I think I just forgot about them briefly.  But they're back in action.

15,000+ runners and one hot, fun day!

However, before I get into our recipe for the day, I have a little update from this past weekend.  And what a colorful update it is.

Has anyone heard of The Color Run?  Well if you haven't, click that link I've provided just for you.  Basically The Color Run involves a little running [no shock there] and way too much fun!  During the 5k jog, all of the white-wearing participants run through designated 'coloring' zones where volunteers throw colored powder all over the racers.  Hence, The Color Run.  I no doubt had the most absolute best time at this race and it's easily the most unique one I've ever done.  I know The Color Run is happening all through out the country, so regardless if you're a runner or not, SIGN UP!  It's not about how fast you go [a lot of people just walked it], but about how colorful you can get.  So.  Very.  Worth.  It.

Before and After!

Robbie's sister, Kelli, and brother-in-law, Brett, [from The Lauritsen Life], traveled to Omaha for a wedding and to also take part in The Color Run.  Hollyann and I planned on doing the race together but also made the trek to the racing grounds with Kelli and Brett, who met up with a group of their friends.  Seriously, even though it was scorching hot, I know we all had an amazing time.  Sign me up for next year!


Unfortunately I have no story to tie The Color Run to these Blueberry Cheesecake Bars I have for you today.  All I can say is that these are one of my most favorite, easiest bars I've made.  Yes, they call for a boxed cookie mix [gasp!] but it definitely comes in handy when you're in a bind.  Especially during a busy week.  And what's even more great is that you can swap in any type of fruit you have on in hand into these bars.  You can thank me [and Betty Crocker] after you take your first bite of these chewy cookie, fruity filling, and indulgent cheesecake topping bars.

Enjoy ☺  .

Adapted from Betty Crocker

Ingredients:
Cookie Base:
1 pouch (1 lb. 15oz.) Betty Crocker Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 egg

Cheesecake Topping:
3 (8 oz. each) packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
3 eggs

Fruit Filling:
1 jar (12 oz.) blueberry preserves
1-1/2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries

Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 350°F.  Spray bottom and sides of 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray.  In a large bowl, beat cookie mix, butter, and egg with electric mixer on low speed until soft dough forms.  Press dough into bottom of pan.
  2. Bake 15 minutes and let cool for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, in another large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar with mixer on medium speed until fluffy.  Add heavy whipping cream and eggs; beat on low speed until well blended.
  3. Spread blueberry preserves over cooled crust.  Sprinkle with blueberries.  Pour cream cheese mixture evenly over blueberries, spreading gently to cover.
  4. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until center is set.  Let bars cool for 30 minutes.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
Serving: 2 dozen bars


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7.12.2012

Funfetti Puppy Chow

.  First things first.

I don't know at what point in time, what pin, or what tweeet spurred the craziness, but my Banana Bread Bars post has been blowin' up like mad lately.  A good sort of mad though.  And what do I have to say about that?


Thank you.

I truly can not believe the amount of comments, views, and undying support LSM has received for that post.  And it still blows my mind how many people have said that they have actually made the bars.  And LOVED them.  I mean, I've always been the one to make recipes from other blogs but now the tables have turned!  And I can. not. even begin to describe how much fun it's been to read the comments about your experiences with this recipe.  Incredible, I tell ya.


But anyway, I guess we can get to the true reason for this post.  An excitingly delicious twist on a treat we have come to known and love.  Puppy Chow.  But not just any Puppy Chow.  Funfetti Puppy Chow.

Yep, you heard right.  All of the lovely Funfetti flavors you know, including those little sprinkles, packed into bite size almond bark-covered Chex.  Nom.  Nom.  Nom.


Needless to say, but I'll say it anyway, this snack mix is downright addicting.  You wouldn't believe how easy it is to mindlessly munch away at this treat.  And because of that, I kept no trace of this Puppy Chow at my house.  Nope, none.  Too dangerous.  Instead I took the batch to the Foamer softball game last week and let my teammates 'chow' down.  Pun intended.

And guess what I also did?  I made not only one, but two batches of the Funfetti Puppy Chow, and like the wonderful sister I am [har, har], sent a care package [including a card!] to my "baby" brother while he's at his Leader Development and Assessment Course (LDAC) in Washington State.  

Please excuse my amateur packing skills.

I know I've mentioned a number of people on LSM over its existence but I've realized I've never mentioned my brother, Tyler.  I said "baby" above because although he is younger than me, most people assume he's older than I am.  To put it quite simply, Ty is one thick guy: about 6', 200+ lbs., and one absolutely solid muscle.  Aside from our half Asian-ness, we look nothing alike.  But I love him all the same.

Anywho, Ty has always had an extreme passion for the Army ever since he was a little tike.  And now that he's in college [going into his senior year], he's living out his dream of both becoming a cop and entering the Army.  It's been different watching him grow from afar, but he is undoubtedly one of the most hard working and driven people I know.  And I don't think I could admire any other person more.  While at LDAC, all of the member's phones are taken away so I have yet to hear if my package even made it to Tyler but I'm crossing my fingers.  He graduates from the program next week, so I'm eager to hear from him finally!  

If the package did make it to him safely, I'm trusting that he shared the Funfetti Puppy Chow with all of his buddies.  Apparently the food there is pretty restricted so I'm sure they'll be glad to have something to indulge in.  And like Ty would appreciate this, you should also allow yourself a little enjoyment and whip up a quick batch.  You.  Won't.  Be.  Sorry  .

P.S. Wish the Foamers luck tonight, we've downright sucked lately so we'll need the thoughts and prayers!

My Notes:
  • This recipe make quite a bit but if you don't want such a big batch, check out the blog I adapted the recipe from for adjusted ingredient sizes.  I initially just doubled the ingredients but ended up using the entire boxes because it was just easier.  
  • I made this recipe using Corn and also the Rice Chex cereal.  Personally, I liked the Rice Chex better but you can definitely use either.

Adapted from Chef in Training

Ingredients:
1 box Rice Chex cereal
24 oz. vanilla flavored almond bark
1 box Funfetti cake mix
1 c. powdered sugar

Directions:
  1. Pour cereal into a large bowl; set aside.
  2. Melt the almond bark according to the package directions.  Pour over cereal and gently toss to cover all of the cereal.
  3. Pour over the Funfetti cake mix and powdered sugar and gently mix to cover all of the cereal.
Yield: 13 cups


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7.07.2012

Butterscotch 'n' Cream Muffins



Hey-o!

How was every one's Fourth of July?  Ours was pretty relaxing, we spent the day at the pool with the puppies, went out for a little dinner and fro-yo downtown, and then Robbie and I walked around our neighborhood creepin' on people lighting fireworks.  What's a Fourth of July without fireworks, right?!

I do have to admit though, that this year's Fourth of July was a bit of a dud due to the whole midweek thing.  Did anyone else feel like it was a Monday, the day after the Fourth?  But what made me feel better was when I realized at some point during the day that it was already Thursday.  And Friday always comes after Thursday.  Score.


So to send you off into the weekend the right way, and this is perfect for those of you who may have some guests for the 'holiday' weekend, I give you....

Butterscotch 'n' Cream Muffins.


This recipe comes from my yet-to-be-trumped favorite book, A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman.  I've mentioned this book several times on LSM and I'll continue to do so until you buy it.  So I guess you have control of how many times I bombard you with those links ☺

Anywho, back to these muffins.  Or breakfast cupcakes.  You know, they're you're basic cream cheese filled, crunchy pecan streusel topping muffin.  Pretty typical...


Or not.  I absolutely love these muffins, and to my surprise they weren't as overly sweet as I had thought going in.  Though they do have a generous helping of crunchy brown sugar and pecan streusel atop a lovely layer of cream cheese filling, the soft, tender, yet subtle cake rounds out this goodie perfectly.  And also gives us an excuse to shove our faces full to share this treat with our family and friends in the early morning.

Well I hope everyone is having a wonderful 'holiday' weekend thus far.  I'll be spending mine relaxing around the house with the pups.  They're totally not spoiled.

See you next week!  .

My Notes:
  • Don't be intimidated by the longer ingredient list, this ENTIRE recipe is made in the food processor so it makes for easy clean up and no mixing!


Adapted from A Passion for Baking

Ingredients:
Pecan Streusel Topping:
1 c. finely chopped pecans
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
3 tbsp. butterscotch chips
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into chunks

Cream Cheese Topping:
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 large egg
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Muffins:
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. buttermilk
2 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 c. finely chopped pecans

Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 375°F.  Line a regular-sized muffin pan with paper liners and spray liners with non stick cooking spray.  Set aside.
  2. For streusel topping, place pecans, sugar, brown sugar, and butterscotch chips in food processor and grind to a fine meal.  Add butter and pulse to blend.  Place streusel into a bowl; set aside.
  3. Without cleaning the food processor, blend together cream cheese, egg, sugar, and vanilla extract until smooth and place into another bowl.  Set aside.
  4. For muffins, blend butter, brown sugar and sugar in food processor until well combined.  Add egg and vanilla extract and mix well.  Add buttermilk, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pecans and blend well (make sure no unblended sugar or butter is stuck on the bottom of the bowl).
  5. Fill muffin cups about half full with batter.  Evenly divide cream cheese topping into each cup and then carefully add streusel.
  6. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until muffins seem firm to the touch when gently pressed with fingertips.  Cool 5 minutes in pan before removing.
Serving: 1 dozen muffins


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7.04.2012

Wishing Everyone...

... A joyously happy and safe July 4th holiday!

Anything special you guys have planned?!  

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7.01.2012

My Two Crazy Weeks

.  Busy...  Crazy...  Nonstop... Sleepless... Priceless...

Those words may be really be an understatement of the last couple of weeks I went through.  And I added in that last one because all in all, I wouldn't have traded that time for anything.

If you've been to LSM recently, you've most likely read about the CWS and Tasty Bites.  Yes?  Yes.  Well Tasty Bites brought along my parents, family friends, a couple of puppies, and even a relative! wandering in and out of Omaha throughout June.  So aside from a few minor hostess duties, my days basically entailed [regular] work, a workout [when possible], and working the cheese curd trailer at night!  So you can probably guess there wasn't much time left in the days for blogging.  Sowwy.

But so many things went on [I'm not exaggerating!], that the only way to share the adventure with everyone is through the pictures I snapped here and there.  Sadly, I wish I would have gotten more.  But fryin' cheese curds kept me a little busy!

I know I had way too good of a time, so I hope you enjoy what I have to share with you!  I tried to include pictures of all of the wonderful and gracious people who helped make the Tasty Bites debut a success.  We love you all so much and will never be able to thank you enough!  .
My Dad's cousin, Nancy, made the trek to Omaha from Alabama and fortunately she made it to a CWS game!

My dad and I in front of the Tasty Bites trailer.  I stopped by a few times during the week on my lunch break.

Our wonderful friends Brandon and Hollyann signed up to sell some curds!

Robbie's sister, Kelli [right], and brother-in-law, Brett [left], from The Lauritsen Life, jumped in on a shift, too!

Mini softball reunion with my absolute favs, the Dawson's and Draemel's!


My dad's friends, Heidi and Kelli [from left], made the trip to Omaha for an entire week.  Absolutely some of the greatest people I've met.


Robbie's parents stopped by a few times to keep us company!


My BFF, Bailey, showed of her selling skills for a few days.  Please note Robbie in the back frying those curds!


Managed to fit in the Road to Omaha 5K with Jess [from Blonde Ponytail] and Colin.  It was a scorcher [90+ and humid], but such a blast!


Fortunately [for our bodies], we had one day off during the CWS.  And as you can see, Ollie and I took full advantage.


Post CWS, Robbie and I were fortunate enough to attend the Olympic Swim Trials here in Omaha.  Ahhh-mazing!

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