What’s for Dinner?

Okay, no baking involved but I had to share.

I am slightly embarrassed to admit this, but in the interest of honesty, cooking seafood (any kind and in any form) intimidates me.  Well actually (honesty), it terrifies me.

I love to eat seafood, but my fear is screwing it up.  I’ll overcook it, undercook it, cook it correctly but it will be fishy, or have no taste at all.  Whatever the nightmare scenario, it has passed through my mind as I’ve prepped fish or shellfish in the past.

All of this went through my mind as I threw together some oil, butter, lemon and white wine; praying all the while that I wouldn’t destroy the shrimp.  Paul always jokingly asks, “Do you know what you’re doing?”  My response tonight, “Nope!”

To my utter surprise and down right shock, they turned out beautifully.  Gotta say I was just a touch proud of myself.

I served them over my favorite salad that we learned about in Milos, Greece.  I also brushed some ciabatta bread with olive oil and sprinkled it with salt and pepper, then broiled it until barely toasted.  It’s nice to have an edible utensil to scoop and mop everything up.

Enjoy!

Sautéed Shrimp with Chickpea Salad (recipe by me ~ enter at your own risk)

Sauteed Shrimp.jpg

Sautéed Shrimp:

INGREDIENTS (all amounts depend on how many shrimp you have, I cooked 12):  raw cleaned-up shrimp (you can definitely clean them yourself but that just grosses me out), olive oil, about a tbsp of butter, lots of fresh garlic (minced), 1/2 a lemon, about a 1/4 cup white wine, salt & freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS:  Place a pan over medium-low heat, and add olive oil and butter.  Once the butter has melted, stir the olive oil and butter together and add the garlic.  Sauté the garlic for a bit while stirring.  Squeeze the lemon into the garlic mixture, then pour in the white wine.  Let those flavors blend together over the heat for a bit while you stir.  Place the shrimp into the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Continue to stir everything so that the shrimp are covered in the sauce.  Flip them when the bottom of the shrimp turns white/pink.  They are done when they are white/pink all the way through.

Chickpea Salad:

INGREDIENTS:  about 2-3 tbsp olive oil, one can of chickpeas (rinsed thoroughly), 1 clove garlic (minced), about 4 sun-dried tomatoes (chopped), salt & freshly ground pepper, about a 1/4 lemon,  about a tbsp fresh mint (minced), about 1 tsp flat leaf parsley, high quality feta (I get mine at Trader Joes, it comes in two blocks)

DIRECTIONS:  Place a pan over medium-low heat, and add olive oil.  Add the chickpeas to the olive oil and stir to coat.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Add the garlic and sun-dried tomatoes (if a bit of the oil from the tomatoes is “accidentally” added to the pan, that’s not a problem), continuing to sauté for a few minutes.  You’re gently cooking the chickpeas in the other ingredients so that they can soak in the flavors.  This helps soften the chickpeas so that they don’t have a chalky texture (cooking fresh chickpeas probably takes care of that but I’m lazy and use canned).  Turn off the heat and scatter the mint and parsley over the mixture.  Stir together to combine, then plate.  Crumble feta cheese (to taste) over the warm salad (be careful not to use too much as feta has a strong, briny flavor).

Hot Damn, These Are Good!

Seriously, these are delicious!  The cinnamon, sugar, spicy/sweetness are all wrapped  up in a lovely muffin package.  They are the perfect breakfast treat!

I would serve them warm with a sinful slab of butter or better yet, whipped butter.  The warmth of the muffin will melt the butter, letting it seep it’s way down into the cinnamon goodness.

Enjoy!

By the way, I think I’ve made these before for my blog but they’re worth a second go round.

Coffee Cake Muffins (recipe care of damndelicious.net)

Coffee Cake Muffins.jpg

INGREDIENTS:

Muffins:  1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup light brown sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 3/4 cup milk, 1/3 cup canola oil, 2 large eggs

Crumb Topping:  1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup unsalted butter (melted), 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Glaze:  1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon milk

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners or coat with nonstick spray; set aside. To make the crumb topping, combine sugars, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in melted butter. Add flour and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist. Spread out mixture on parchment paper to dry until ready to use. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together milk, canola oil and egg. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist. Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin tray. Sprinkle with reserved crumb topping, using your fingertips to gently press the crumbs into the batter. Place into oven and bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. To make the glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and milk. Whisk until smooth. If the glaze is too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar as needed. When the muffins are done, cool for 10 minutes and drizzle the glaze on each muffin. Allow glaze to set before serving.

Been a While

It occurred to me the other day that I haven’t posted a recipe experience in a long time.  Man, I have been slacking!

As I was browsing different sites for a new baking challenge, I stumbled across this one.  What could possibly be wrong with eggs, sausage, and avocados wrapped up in a lovely, little tortilla package?

Now I need to explain something to you (not sure if anyone actually reads this but I’m gonna tell you anyway).  I have a love affair with two different food items (in no particular order)… #1 chocolate and #2 avocados.  I believe avocados are God’s gift to the world and are intended to make people close their eyes dreamily, sigh with a satisfying, “Mmmmm,” as then bite into the creamy, green wonder.  That may seem dramatic, but that’s what I do every time I eat avocado.  Paul will tell you that I have a ridiculous relationship with this amazing fruit.

Sorry, I digress.  Getting back to the taquitos.  This recipe is both easy as can be and delicious.  My two bits of advice are to warm up the tortillas so their nice and soft.  And use less filling than you think so that you can roll it closed.

I skipped the step of warming the tortillas.  Big mistake, huge!  I also have the classic problem of over-stuffing my tacos, burritos, and apparently taquitos.  The tortillas ripped as I rolled them, but they still tasted yummy.

Side note…  I used chicken sausage to make this a bit healthier.  If you’re vegetarian, you could use roasted vegetables to rock this recipe!

Breakfast Taquitos (recipe care of damndelicious.net)

Breakfast Taquito.jpg

INGREDIENTS:  10-12 corn tortillas (softened), 3 large eggs (scrambled), 6 ounces spicy Italian sausage (crumbled), 1/4 cup julienned sun dried tomatoes (drained), 1 avocado (halved, seeded, peeled and diced), 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Working one at a time, transfer tortilla to a work surface; place eggs, sausage, sun dried tomatoes, avocado and cheddar cheese in the center of each wrapper. Bring the bottom edge of the tortilla tightly over the filling, rolling from bottom to top until the top of the tortilla is reached. Repeat with remaining tortilla and filling. Place taquitos seam side down onto prepared baking sheet and bake until taquitos are crisp and cheese has melted, about 12-15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Salad in a Biscuit

I’ve decided that I have a bit of an obsession with buttermilk biscuits.  Not really sure why or rather, how, this obsession came to be but it’s definitely a large part of my cooking life.

The “why” is easy… um, buttermilk biscuits are little drops of love from heaven.  The “how” isn’t as easy.  I’ve had some yummy biscuits before, but recently I have become intrigued by all of the different variations that are out there.  I’m so impressed with people’s creativity when developing recipes.  Wish I had that talent!

These are lovely.  Subtle, herbal flavors wrapped up in a flaky biscuit.  I thought the feta would overpower the dill and/or parsley and/or basil.  But nope, the flavors are all balanced and compliment each other beautifully.  By the way, Paul was definitely skeptical of what looked like a salad in the batter.

Gotta say I’ve never used a grater to cut butter into a biscuit batter, and was doubtful when asked to do so.  I’ve always used a pastry cutter.  But, when in Rome… so I pulled out my box grater and made swiss cheese of 3/4 cups of butter.  It was kinda cool to be honest.  But in truth, when you mix it all into the other ingredients the butter clumps up so I had to crumble it up again using my fingers.  Really, it’s up to you what works for you.

Long story short, slather soft butter across the top of these beautiful biscuits and dive in!

Feta Dill Biscuits (recipe care of damndelicious.net)

Feta Dill Biscuits.jpg

INGREDIENTS:  4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 ounces), 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves, 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, 3 green onions, thinly sliced, 1 tablespoon lemon zest, 4 teaspoons baking powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 3/4 cup unsalted butter (frozen), 1 3/4 cups buttermilk

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.  In a large bowl, combine flour, feta, parsley, dill, basil, green onions, lemon zest, baking powder, salt, baking soda and pepper.  Grate butter using the large holes of a box grater. Stir into the flour mixture.  Add buttermilk and stir using a rubber spatula until a soft dough forms.Working on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 3-4 times until it comes together. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 1 1/4-inch thick rectangle. Cut out 10-12 rounds using a 2 1/2-inch biscuit or cookie cutter. Place biscuits onto the prepared baking sheet; place in the freezer for 15 minutes.  Remove biscuits from freezer. Place into oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.  Serve warm.

55 What?!?

So it’s been a bit since I’ve baked and posted.  Sometimes ya just need a moment.

This week I was inspired by both Mother’s Day (a week early) and Nana’s birthday.  This year Paul’s mom’s birthday is on Mother’s Day and she will rock every moment of it.  As she should.

Tonight we hosted dinner for my folks and Nana and had a grand time.  But in order to honor and celebrate the two big May holidays (one nationally recognized, one Darga recognized) I wanted something delicious and pretty.  These accomplished both.

I had every intention of cutting these in half and building the sandwiches but I got super lazy and decided to just smother them with frosting and drizzle the compote on top.  I heard no complaints.

These are so simple, even though the recipe looks complicated.  Just trust it and go with them.  Oh, and the recipe says it makes 55 cupcakes and I was a touch frightened.  That’s a lie, I was terrified.  But in truth I ended up with about 40 cakes of blueberry loveliness.

Chocolate and Blueberry Cupcake Sandwich (recipe of couponclippingcook.com)

Chocolate Blueberry Cupcake Sandwich.jpg

INGREDIENTS:  

For the cupcakes:  31/3 cups flour, 11/3 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, 3 cups sugar, 1 tablespoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 11/2 cups butter 3 sticks, 3 cups milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 5 eggs, 1 cup blueberries fresh or frozen

For the filling:  1 cup blueberries fresh or frozen, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons water

For the frosting:  1/3 cup butter softened, 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese at room temperature, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 2 cups powdered sugar

* Depending on how much frosting is added to each cupcake sandwich, the frosting amounts may need to be doubled or tripled

DIRECTIONS:

For the cupcakes:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl, add flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cocoa, vanilla, milk, eggs, and butter. Beat with a mixer for 3 minutes.  To the bowl, add blueberries and using a large sturdy spoon, stir them into the mixture.   Line the cupcake pans with paper liners.  Add batter into the cupcake liners (3/4’s full).  Bake in a preheated oven until a wooden toothpick comes out clean (for about 20 to 25 minutes)This recipe yields about 55 cupcakes so they need to be baked in batches.  When the cupcake pans are cool enough to handle, transfer the cupcakes to a cooling rack.  Let the cupcakes cool before adding the filling and frosting.

For the filling:  Heat a pan on low to medium heat and add blueberries, sugar, lemon juice, and water.  Stir the blueberry mixture until it thickens to the consistency of jam. Set aside to cool.

For the frosting:  To a large mixing bowl, add butter, cream cheese, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar.  Beat until smooth (about 3 or 4 minutes).

For the cupcake sandwiches:  Remove the paper liners from the cupcakes.  Then cut the cupcakes in half from side to side.  Spread frosting on the top of each half.  Add ½ teaspoon blueberry filling on top of the frosting on each halved cupcake.  Turn the top half upside down and set it on top of the bottom half to make a sandwich.  Top with frosting and serve.

A Little Jack Johnson

I don’t know if y’all are Jack Johnson fans (obviously I am as the title of this blog implies), but his “Banana Pancakes” song was the inspiration for today’s baking experiment.  It’s just lovely in every way… both the song and these pancakes.
They are delicious!  Seriously, so good!  If you were to make these as a dish for a family, or friends, or family and friends brunch you would be seen as a rockstar.
Now, I’m not gonna lie to you.  The number of pans involved in making these pancakes is  kinda ridiculous.  But the sink full of used dishes is absolutely worth it.
Couple of notes:
* The recipe says to butter the sheet pan and then line it with parchment paper.  I didn’t have parchment paper so I used wax paper.  Big mistake.  Huge!  The wax paper fell  apart as I tried to pick a slice up with my spatula.  Definitely use parchment paper or none at all.  I think greasing the pan would be enough so that pancakes don’t stick.
* A trick of the trade from Day Day (my mom) when beating egg whites:  drop a pinch of cream of tartar in with the egg whites.  It helps them beat higher.  I also beat them past “soft peaks” because egg whites scare the bejeezus out of me.  I’m always terrified they’ll deflate.
* The batter will seem super thick before you add the egg whites.  Proceed with faith… it will loosen up and become a beautiful consistency.
* I, of course, did not read the recipe carefully enough and accidentally added all of the sugar in with the blueberries in the very beginning of my pancake adventure.  I just shrugged and thought, “Well, it’ll all blend together in the end.”  Turns out it did!  That’s how good this recipe is.
Lemon and Blueberry Sheet Pan Pancakes (recipe care of sunset.com)
Lemon Blueberry Pancakes.jpg
INGREDIENTS:  1/2 cup unsalted butter (melted and divided, plus more for pan), 3 cups blueberries (divided), 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 cup granulated sugar (divided), 2 cups flour, 2 tablespoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 4 large eggs (separated), 1 carton (15 oz.) ricotta cheese, 2 tablespoons lemon zest, 1 cup whole milk, powdered sugar and maple syrup (for serving)
DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 425°. Grease a sheet pan (a 12- by 17-in. rimmed baking sheet) with butter or cooking spray and line with parchment paper. Set aside.Combine 2 cups blueberries, the lemon juice, and 2 tbsp. granulated sugar in a medium bowl. Let sit 15 minutes or so. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in another medium bowl. In a third medium bowl, beat egg whites with a mixer until soft peaks form. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks, ricotta, remaining 6 tbsp. granulated sugar, 6 tbsp. melted butter, the lemon zest, and milk to blend. Gradually add dry ingredients, whisking until smooth. Fold in egg whites and blueberry-sugar mixture. Spread in prepared pan, smoothing top with a spatula. Bake until center is set and springs back when touched, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove pancake from oven and preheat broiler to high with a rack 5 in. from heat. Brush remaining 2 tbsp. butter over top of pancake. Broil until golden brown, 30 to 60 seconds. Cut pancake into 12 squares and dust with powdered sugar. Serve with the remaining 1 cup blueberries and maple syrup.

Bubbly Blueberry

You know it’s gonna be a successful baking day when upon opening the oven door you’re greeted with a blueberry that had burst while baking and is bubbling at the top of a muffin.

I laughed in the midst of making this recipe because my students and I were just studying the ‘oa’ vowel team.  You know, “Two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking and says it’s name!”  When I pulled the oats from my pantry this morning, I smiled thinking of the children happily chanting the vowel team cheer and doing all the moves that go with it.

These are your average breakfast muffins but sometimes simple is exactly what you’re looking for.  You might not blow the socks off of your audience but everyone will enjoy them.  I would serve them warm with a lovely slab of butter on top.  Enjoy!

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffin with Granola Crumb Topping (recipe care of damndelicious.net)

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffin.jpg

INGREDIENTS:  1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup old fashioned oats, 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1 cup 2% milk, 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 2 large eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 cup blueberries, 1 cup granola

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners or coat with nonstick spray; set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, sugars, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together milk, applesauce, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist. Add blueberries and gently toss to combine. Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin tray. Sprinkle with granola. Place into oven and bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.