Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Blueberry- Cinnamon Muffins... or "What To Do With Loads of Blueberries!"

One of the many things I love about New England is the abundance of enormous, juicy Blueberries! We have access to blueberries here in Southern California but we don't have cute little plants for picking blueberries anywhere that I know of here in So Cal, and it's impossible to find the fabulous sort that are all over the place in New England. I wish I could say that our family skipped through endless blueberry fields filling our buckets with freshly picked blueberries. That sounds nice, doesn't it? I was a bit early for the wonderful local blueberries in MA this year, but I did enjoy some from New Jersey that were pretty darn good. And when you have some good blueberries, you should always bake a batch of blueberry muffins. My choice: Blueberry Cinnamon Muffins.

There is nothing like biting into a freshly baked muffin and getting a mouthful of berries. These are topped with a cinnamony-oat mixture, and the best part is that they are a lower fat kind of muffin recipe. Lots of sugar... but less fat (if you're concerned about that sort of thing).

And they tasted good too. Or perhaps it was the novelty of eating them while sitting on the sea wall watching the day begin with waves gently crashing upon the shore and boats streaming in and out of the harbor. It really was quite a nice way to spend our family vacation.

With nary a food processor, mixer, zester, sharp knife or even a mixing bowl in sight, it was tough to cook on this vacation. Needless to say, I had to skip the Daring Baker challenge this month! I had to bring little ziplocs of all of my own spices and bring a 'stash' of kitchen tools if that tells you anything. But I did manage to squeak out a few recipes and will share them over the next couple of weeks.

This muffin recipe can be found HERE.

For those who were wondering about our vacation location in Massachusetts, we enjoyed the South Shore. It's less crowded there than the Cape and we enjoy the charm and the nearby relatives. Call me crazy but I came away from our month-long vacation wanting to sell everything we had in California, purchase beachfront property in Massachusetts and build our dream home. My husband laughed that idea off and told his relatives to call us when the first NorEaster hits and he'd fly me out immediately to experience "winter in New England." Apparently he thinks I might not survive. What'd'ya think New Englanders?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

My New England Vacation (with food highlights, of course!)

Well friends, I've been holding out on you... but I return today from a month-long vacation in New England. That explains my MIA status in visiting not a single blog in the last 30 days. We stayed in a beach house north of Cape Cod where we enjoyed the sun and sand, visiting relatives, evening cocktails, and loads of local seafood. A great, great vacation! Here are some recipe highlights from the trip:

Spicy Crab- Stuffed Mushrooms

Low- Fat Baked Crab Cakes

White Peach Sangria

Black Dog Quahog Chowder

Grilled Striped Bass with Garlic- Mustard Sauce

And plenty of lobstah! Just steamed with butter. And a few lobster rolls too. Oh yeah.

That's just the beginning. I'll have many more fun beach & seafood recipes from my trip to share in the coming weeks.

I look forward to seeing what you have all been up to creating in your kitchens in my absence!

Recipes can be located by clicking on recipe titles above.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Buster Bars

Is your house heat-drenched this summer? Are you trying to avoid using that oven because you don't wish to add to the misery? Here's a no-bake frozen dessert that you will have a tough time not eating.

Are you familiar with Dairy Queen? These were a popular treat from DQ: Buster Bars.

I think they've phased out a lot of the Dairy Queen franchises. There are a couple of DQ's that I know of in San Diego, and I have no idea if they still carry Buster Bars. But now you can make your own!

I found myself sneaking little slices of this throughout the day. It's just a satisying mouthful when the humidity and heat are too much to bear. And it's a great dessert to have in the freezer when relatives and friends drop by unexpectedly (if you have any of those kind!)

This recipe can be found HERE (and it couldn't be any easier!!)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Zucchini- Chocolate Chip Muffins

Is zucchini growing out of control in your veggie gardens yet this summer? Try this muffin recipe to get a little green stuff into your children without their knowledge: Zucchini- Chocolate Chip Muffins.

As a kid, I hated zucchini bread. My mother used to make if often since our relatives used to dump loads of zucchini in our laps in the summertime. I just didn't think it tasted good at all. So I've been reluctant to try zucchini bread recipes as an adult. I finally caved and tried this recipe. I grated the zucchini into smallish shreds so that my green-phobic 7 year old wouldn't object. He didn't even notice, and he gobbled these up like they were dessert.

And I suppose they were like dessert with the chocolate chips and all. Cakespy had this discussion about the differences between muffins and cupcakes. Is there really much of a difference? I can't really decide.

Look at all of that chocolatey goodness inside! No wonder my little guy loved these. There was chocolate in every bite!

The zucchini in my garden died this year... as did everything else in my garden. I must not have a knack for it, or perhaps I had bad dirt. I like to think it was the dirt (and not me.) But I'll try again next year. I long to swoon over a bounty of zucchini and other veggie treasures. But for now I'll have to swoon over these muffins.

This recipe can be found HERE.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Snicker's Bar Tarts

You simply can't go wrong with a dessert that incorporates your favorite candy bars... especially those that you consumed often (without worries of weight gain) when you were much younger but now rarely indulge (because of worries of weight gain). When's the last time you ate a regular-sized Snicker's Bar? Really. Perhaps I'm too weight-concious, but I don't believe I can recall eating any kind of candy bar since Halloween. Other desserts... yes... many. For some reason those don't seem as bad as a candy bar!

I've mentioned my fondness for candy bar dessert recipes before. And here's another one for you to add to your "to-try" list: Snicker's Bar Tarts... the link is not working, but this should work (cut/paste the link below... clicking won't work)... pesky blogger!!
See that oozing puddle of chocolate ganache on top??? That sits afloat a filling of peanut butter cheesecake (with a chunk of snickers sneakily hidden inside too!) Since the recipe is from Pillsbury, it's a quick and easy dessert. The refrigerated pie crusts are used as the base. I don't see any reason at all to use your best homemade crust since the flavor isn't focused on the crust in this recipe. But have-at-it if you wish to do it all from scratch.

I do suggest that you give this recipe a shot. They're tasty little bite-sized (decadent) treats.

This recipe can be found HERE.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Spinach & Arugula Salad with Indian- Spiced Chickpeas & Charred Red Onions

Phew... that's one long title of a recipe. A little bit TMI in IMHO. I hate acronyms. But sometimes you just have to use them and hope that most of the general population 'gets' it.

I first saw this recipe on Laura's blog: The Spiced Life. As her blog title indicates, she tends to pick delicious recipes that incorporate spice in some way or another. Alysha from The Savory Notebook also reviewed this recipe. You'll enjoy mouthwatering pictures on her blog. And the original recipe comes from Jack Bishop's A Year In a Vegetarian Kitchen.

Here's my take on Spinach and Arugula Salad with Indian-Spiced Chickpeas and Charred Red Onions. I'm a huge fan of cooked onions but the raw variety have much too much of that sharp onion flavor for me. And I don't enjoy the crunch. However, grill those puppies up and throw them on a hamburger, caramelize them and pair them with anything...

...or roast them up and add them to dishes... well, by golly, they jump into that category of foods that I tend to lust after. In this recipe, the onions are roasted. They get a just-slighty-caramelized /just-barely charred flavor that is tempting to nibble on and perfect to top the salad.
The chickpeas are are sauteed with bursting mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Just enough to give them the flavor needed to carry the salad.

I have to admit that I was really worried that we wouldn't enjoy this salad. Lemon for a dressing?? Just a squeeze of lemon??? No oil???? Just the juice????? It's ok... the lemon was perfect. It was just a simple flavor to contribute to the salad that didn't take away from the chickpea and roasted onion superstars. WE THOROUGHLY ENJOYED THIS SALAD! Really different. And really delicious.

This recipe can be found HERE.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Vegetable- Goat Cheese Spread

Here's a colorful, flavorful, cool dip for a hot summer night... Vegetable- Goat Cheese Spread.
It's an awesome sort of dip for dunking cucumber slices, radishes or carrots, as well as sliced baguette.

Lots of crunch. And lotsa veggies within!

This recipe can be found HERE.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Celebrate the 4th with some Festive Cheesecake Pops!

Happy 4th of July!

These were my favorites of the Cheesecake Pops that I made for the Daring Bakers. I found the festive 4th sprinkles at a cake decorating store, and the ribbon at a craft store. If you make the cheesecake pops for the 4th, I would suggest that you dip into the chocolate deep enough to allow some of the chocolate attach to the wooden stick. That will alleviate any potential problems of cheesecake falling off of stick.

Have loads of fun this holiday weekend, but don't drive anywhere after having loads of fun. Be safe!