Friday, August 31, 2012

Wild Berry-Oatmeal Cheesecake Muffins

While I was outside performing some yard work, I noticed some leaves that had already begun to fall. It is not autumn yet. We still have at least a month before the beautiful autumn foliage is in full bloom. So, I started to think I should rebel. I really should show these trees a lesson. I was thinking about how I could accomplish this task like taking some sap and tacking the leaves back onto the trees? Just as I was having these thoughts, an acorn smacked me on the head. Don't worry-I haven't done it yet. I didn't want to embarrass my neighbors. My family already know I lost it.
Since the beginning of school is fast approaching, I wanted to try new types of muffins. I did realize that I make muffins more than I make cookies. I know my husband wished it was the other way around but muffins are great. I can serve them for breakfast and a snack. If I'm really tired, I offer them for a quick dinner but no one has gone for it yet. 
Wild Berry-Oatmeal Cheesecake Muffins
1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup buttermilk
8 oz. low fat cream cheese (Neufchatel cheese), softened
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp lemon zest
1 cup flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup fresh berries (I used blackberries and strawberries)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the oats and buttermilk. Set aside for about 15 minutes.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar together. 
  5. Add the lemon zest to the sugared cream cheese. Set aside.
  6. In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  7. To the oat buttermilk, add the egg and the butter. Mix well.
  8. Add the oat mixture to the the flour mixture. Stir until moistened.
  9. Gently fold in the berries.
  10. Fill each paper liner half way with the batter. 
  11. Top the batter with a scant Tbsp of the cream cheese mixture. 
  12. Cover the cream cheese mixture with the remaining batter.
  13. Bake the muffins for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Recipe adapted from Food & Family Fall 2012 magazine.
Cream Cheese Filling
Did you already know...
-In America, Maine is the most heavily forested state.
-Maine's land base is 90% growing trees.
-Maine has over 50 native types of trees.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Strange Cat

We have strange animals that live in my house. My dog loves to lick our cat. I don't mean in a friendly way. I mean our cat is receiving a regular bath. She is saturated when he is through. (I have posted a photo of our cat at the end of this post.) Occasionally, she will swipe at him but I think it is more for show since she doesn't move away. Why? Why does the cat let our dog do this to her? Why does he want to lick her in the first place?
Recently, I have changed work locations. Near my old job, I liked to order a wrap from Bay Wrap. So, I decided I would attempt to duplicate one of their wraps. My oldest daughter said I did a pretty good job. I made a chicken and rice meal the night before and made extra to make this easy to go lunch. Any Asian salad dressing is a great substitute for the sauce.
Asian chicken wrap
1/8 cup honey
1/8 cup soy sauce, low sodium works fine
1 Tbsp cup water.
1 clove garlic, minced fine
1 tsp ginger, minced fine
1 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
2 cup chicken, cooked and cut into strips
4 tortilla wraps
2 cup lettuce
1 cup sprouts
1 cup rice, cooked
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 cup scallions


  1. In a small bowl,combine the honey, soy sauce, water, garlic, ginger, olive oil, and lemon juice. Taste the sauce and adjust the flavors to taste. Add salt and pepper if desired. 
  2. Place the chicken in the sauce and set aside.
  3. Place the tortilla wraps on a plate. Cover the tortilla wraps with a damp paper towel. Microwave the wraps for about 10 seconds, just to warm them.
  4. Place one wrap in the center of a large piece or aluminum foil or wax paper. 
  5. Place 1/2 cup of lettuce and 1/4 cup sprouts evenly over the tortilla wrap.
  6. Onto of the lettuce, evenly spread out 1/2 cup of the chicken. 
  7. Over the chicken, sprinkle the cooked rice and almonds. 
  8. Top the rice with the scallions and sprinkle a little of the sauce evenly over the tortilla. Do not drench or the tortilla will become too soft.
  9. Fold up the sides of the tortilla and roll up the wrap tightly.
  10. Wrap the chicken wrap with the aluminum foil or wax paper.
  11. Store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.
Recipe by Jen of Sweet Morris.
Did you already know...
- A group of cats are called a clowder.
-Cats are the most popular pet in North America.
-A cat will clean itself 1/3 of the time its awake.
Why me?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Project Pastry Queen

 I am really glad I joined the Project Pastry Queen. It really made me try new recipes I probably never would have attempted to make like the Pavlovas. (They are my youngest daughter's favorite dessert.) This week's pick was a remake. It was picked by the host Shawnda who had the great idea to start this blogging club.
I debated whether to do it again or not. It was a lot of work. Also, I've been crazy busy. Then I read what I wrote next to the dessert. I wrote to make it next time with peanut butter as suggested by Emily.  It is rich. It is decadent. It is a dessert that is meant to be shared so I made mini ones this time. Please check out the other member's cakes since they are remarkable.
This photo shows the stages of the cake. The first one is the rich flourless cake. I mixed half the batter with peanut butter and topped it. The peanut butter part looks like a heart. The second stage is the center cake. the flourless cake is topped with the mousse that has been frozen. The furthest cake is the finished cake with the dark chocolate glaze topping. It is worth the trouble.
American Beauty Cake Peanut Butter

1 cup unsalted butter

12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces

6 large eggs

1 cup sugar

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup peanut butter  

Dark Chocolate Glaze:

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup peanut butter.


To make the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a muffin tin with cupcake papers.
  3. Place the cupcake pan in a roasting or baking pan to make sure it fits.
  4. Set a metal bowl over a saucepan that is holding  2 inch of simmering water.
  5. Melt the chocolate and butter in the metal bowl stirring until smooth. 
  6. Remove the bowl from the saucepan.
  7. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together.
  8. Whisk the sugar and eggs into the chocolate mixture until well combined. 
  9. Stir in the vanilla and mix well.
  10. Fill 12 cupcake liners with half the batter.
  11. The remaining half of the batter mix with the 1/2 cup peanut butter.
  12. Top the first layer of batter with the peanut butter layer. 
  13. In the roasting pan, fill the pan with hot water to come about two-thirds of the way up the side of the cake pan. Be careful no water enters the cake pan but just surrounds the cake pan.
  14. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cake is set.
  15. Let the cake cool completely in the pan and the cake will settle back down after rising. Do not remove the cake from the pan.
  16. On the cooled cake, spread the mousse filling the pan to the top.
  17. Wrap the cake with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 8 hours or up to 3 weeks.
To make the glaze:
  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
  2. In a sauce pan, combine the corn syrup, whipping cream, and vanilla. 
  3. After the mixture boils, pour it over the chopped chocolate and whisk until smooth.
  4. Allow the glaze to cool at room temperature.
  5. Stir in the 1/2 cup peanut butter.
    To assemble:

    Remove the cake from the freezer.\
  6. Peel off the cupcake liner.
  7. Pour the glaze over the frozen cake making sure the glaze needs to cover the sides of the cake.
  8. Allow the glaze to set at least one hour.
  9. After the glaze sets, cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve.
Recipe adapted from The Pastry Queen cookbook.
Did you already know...
- The author of The Pastry Queen Rebecca Rather began her career as a caterer.
-In 1999, Rebecca Rather opened her bakery Rather Sweet Bakery.
-Rather Sweet Bakery is currently closed but The Pink Pig will be opening tomorrow in Fredericksburg, Texas.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Peanut Butter & Yogurt Dip

Has school started where you live? My children still have 10 more days to enjoy their summer before heading back. What can we do in 10 days? I think most of it will just getting ready to go back. Its hard work. I have to establish a bed time routine again so hopefully we won't be running after the bus. I have to make sure to get clothes that will last the kids for at least a couple of months. We did take advantage of the JCPenney's free haircut for kids in August. I had to get my haircut too since I was there. The school supply list has been started. I shop the flyers for the best sales since I try to stock up on a few extra supplies when they are cheap.
As a kid, my favorite part was wearing my new school clothes. I wasn't allowed to wear them until school starts. After the first day of school, I was ready for summer. My children love school especially visiting with their friends so they are counting down. Now, if they would only stop fighting with me about reading daily! One of things I have started to do is try new quick snack and lunch foods. I saw this recipe in the weekend coupon section. I thought my son will like this since it is his two favorite things together. He loved it especially with the grapes. I will be including this dip with fruit in his lunch box this year. Yum!
Peanut Butter & Yogurt Dip
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 (6 oz) container of vanilla yogurt
3 cups assorted sliced fruit 

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the peanut butter and the yogurt.
  2. Serve with the fruit
Recipe adapted from Skippy peanut butter.
Did you already know...
-In 1902, James C Penney opened dry food store in Wyoming. 
-Mr. Penney first named his store Golden Rule Store before phasing it to JCPenney.
-JCPenney and Macy currently have a lawsuit about selling Martha Stewart products in its stores.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Stracciatella Double Cookie Dough Ice Cream

The other night I went to bed with my hair wet which wouldn't be a big deal but the air condition was on. I dreamt it was snowing outside. I woke up in the middle night and I had to go look outside. To my relief, it was still summer. I know I live in Maine but the earliest I remember it snowing is at the end of October. We have months to go.
I figured I would post an ice cream recipe since it is perfect for summer. When I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it. Cookie Dough ice cream is the best but to be able to try double cookie dough ice cream seemed like heaven. When I was flipping through The Perfect Scoop cookbook, there is a technique with adding chocolate. I figured I would try making the recipe over the top. This is my new favorite ice cream. I don't mind becoming cold by enjoying this recipe. Don't worry it is still summer here (for now).
The only change I made to this recipe was to add more chocolate in the form of the Stracciatella technique. 
Stracciatella Double Cookie Dough Ice Cream
Cookie Dough:
4 Tbsp salted butter, melted
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Ice Cream:
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 cups heavy cream 
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
4 large egg yolks
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

3/4 cups semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (do not use chocolate chips)

Cookie Dough:
  1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the butter and the sugar until smooth.
  2. Add the flour and mix.
  3. Mix in the vanilla and chocolate chips.
  4. Form the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough until firm.  
Ice Cream:
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Stir the butter until it is a deep golden brown color but be careful not to burn it.
  2. Whisk in the heavy cream. Heat until the mixture simmers. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and the egg yolks until pale and fluffy.  
  4. To the medium bowl, add a small amount of the heavy cream mixture to the egg yolks. STIR CONSTANTLY TO TEMPER THE MIXTURE.
  5. Slowly, whisk the remaining cream into the yolk mixture while stirring constantly.
  6. Return the egg-cream mixture to the saucepan and heat until slightly thickened. The mixture's temperature should read between 170-175 degrees F.
  7. Immediately, remove the mixture from the heat and pour through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl.
  8. Stir in the vanilla extract and the milk into the mixture.
  9. Cover the cream mixture into the refrigerator until chilled thoroughly.
  10. In an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions, churn the cream mixture.
  11. In a heat resistant, dry bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate while stirring until completely smooth.
  12. Drizzle a very thin stream of the warm chocolate into the 1 quart of ice cream during the last possible moment of churning.
  13. Stir in small chunks of the cookie dough and chocolate chips into the ice cream mixture. 
  14. Transfer the ice cream into an airtight container and store in the freezer until firm.
Recipe ice cream and cookie dough combination adapted from Annie's Eats. The Stracciatella recipe and the Cookie Dough recipe adapted from The Perfect Scoop cookbook by David Lebovitz.
Did you already know...
-Stracciatella gelato is Italian similar to vanilla ice cream with chocolate shavings.
-When the thin stream of warm chocolate heats the cold ice cream, the chocolate immediately hardens into streaks which shreds with the ice cream churning.
-If the warm chocolate is not a thin stream, the chocolate will harden into large chunks in the ice cream which will not break into chips. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Peach and Pluot Cobbler

Good Morning! This week for Project Pastry Queen was a wild card. Of all the recipes I haven't tried, it really wasn't a hard choice which one I was going to make. See, I had been given two bags full of peaches so I had a starting point. I had also purchased a large container of pluots so I needed to use them up too. When I noticed the Hill Country Peach Cobbler recipe, I knew it was perfect with what I had on hand.
Since it was a previously picked recipe by Josie, I was able to read the great reviews for this recipe. I will admit my batter did overflow so if you decide to make this either use a very large pan or just place a dish under it. The topping is not your typical heavy crust. It was light and sweet. It accompanied the browned butter, fruit filling perfect. This recipe is adaptable for many different fruit combinations. As I even type this recipe, I want more!
Peach and Pluot Cobbler
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 cup milk
2 cups fresh peaches, sliced or peeled
1 cup fresh pluot, sliced or peeled with skin removed
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degress F.
  2. In a small saute pan, melt the butter over medium high heat until it bubbles and turns a nut-brown color.
  3. Pour the butter into an 8 inch square baking dish.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir the sugar, flour, baking powder, and milk.
  5. Pour the milk mixture over the melted butter. DO NOT STIR.
  6. Arrange the fruit evenly over the top of the milk mixture. Do not mix. 
  7. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the cobbler.
  8. Bake the cobbler for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top turns a golden brown.
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Recipe adapted from the The Pastry Queen cookbook by Rebecca Rather. 
Did you already know....
-A pluot is an hybrid of a plum and an apricot.
-Pluots are a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and fiber.
-Pluots were created by Floyd Zaiger by using cross pollination.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Birthday and a Wedding

Let's party like it's my sister's birthday! What a wonderful way to celebrate Friday by a birthday. When anyone asks who is younger I always say I am. Usually, the person says I thought so and I think they are great since they must know I am older especially with a 7 year difference.
 Happy Birthday Sam!
The other exciting event today is my other sister is getting married! It is going to be beautiful. Everyone should marry a person who makes them a better person and I'm glad my sister has found that man. I held a bridal shower this past weekend for her and I made these cupcakes for her.
Blueberry cupcakes
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk
1 1/2 fresh wild blueberries

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after adding each egg. 
  5. Add in the sour cream, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract.
  6. Gradually add the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  7. Add the milk and stir until the batter is smooth.
  8. Gently fold in the blueberries.
  9. Fill each cupcake liner 2/3 full.
  10. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes.
  11. Remover from the oven and transfer the cupcakes to a cooling rack.
  12. Allow the cupcakes to cool to room temperature before frosting.
Recipe adapted from the Pastry Affair.
Did you already know...
Some wedding folklore is:
-The luckiest day to marry is suppose to be Wednesday.
-To ensure wedding bliss, the bride should wear gold earrings. -It is considered good luck for the bride to find a spider on her wedding gown.
 To my sisters, I hope you both have a perfect day!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Chicken Sandwich

My husband asked my son if he could be good at an appointment for an hour. My son said honestly no. My husband asked him why. My son said because he couldn't go that long without food. We do feed the boy (regularly). Can you imagine having the same type of conversation with your boss? Jen, can you attend this training? No. Why not? Because they don't feed me on planes anymore. I don't think it will work. 
Near where we live, there is a drive in restaurant like they had back in the day. This restaurant makes a great chicken sandwich.I wanted to try my own attempt at making a juicy, chicken sandwich. It was juicy and a great break from hamburgers.
Chicken Sandwich
4 chicken breast
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp thyme
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp rosemary
salt and pepper for taste
hamburger buns, lettuce, tomato, cheese, mayo, and other desired toppings

  1. In a sealable plastic bag, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, and the herbs.
  2. Add the chicken breast and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the skillet over medium heat.
  4. Add the chicken breast and cook for about 5 minutes.
  5. Flip the chicken over and cook for another 5 minutes. Check the chicken is cooked through if not continue to cook the chicken until the chicken is cooked through. 
  6. Remove from the skillet and allow to rest on a plate for 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe by Jen of Sweet Morris
Did you already know.....
-In 1936, the first drive in restaurant opened in California.
-Drive in restaurants were very popular in the 1950s.
-The wait staff at a drive in restaurant are called carhops.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Pineapple Kolaches

When I first purchased the Pastry Queen cookbook, I noticed the recipe for kolache right off. The photo looked like a yeast bun of some type. They looked familiar but I wasn't sure if I had ever had it before. Silly me! I have even made Kolaches before with a cheese filling and a dry apricot filling. When I made them before, I thought they were a danish but not so sweet or sticky. I think it was the filling in a yeast bread. I went back to my old cookbook and sure enough I had made them before. It was a bread machine cookbook. I know I made this before because I write a comment in my cookbooks of recipes I have made. I need to know if it is worth making the recipe again.
This weeks Project Pastry Queen was picked by Emily of She Makes and Bakes. Please check out the other member's variation since this recipe is so adaptable with some many different fillings. I will be trying this recipe again with a different filling. This time I used pineapple since I had it on hand. Since the recipe makes so many buns (yields about 18 buns), I made some sandwiches with ham and sharp cheddar. They aren't too sweet but very light.
2 cups milk
1 (1/4 oz.) package dry yeast
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
8 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 oz. can crushed pineapple in its own juice
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Streusel Topping:
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat until it begins to steam and forms a skin. Do not boil.
  2. Allow the milk to cool for about 10 to 15 minutes and the temperature of the milk has registered about 110 degrees F.
  3. Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water and allow it to set for 5 minutes.
  4. Microwave the butter until it has melted. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. 
  5. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, salt, and melted butter.
  6. Add the cooled milk and the yeast mixture.
  7. Gradually, add the flour to the batter, 2 cups at a time.
  8. With a wooden spoon, mix the flour with the wet ingredients with a light touch.
  9. Keep adding flour until the dough begins to hold together and is incorporated. The dough will be sticky, moist, and light.
  10. Lightly grease a large bowl with cooking spray.
  11. Transfer the dough to the bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
  12. Let the dough rise for 1 to 2 hours. 
  13. Punch down the dough until it deflates. 
  14. Cover the bowl again with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  15. To make the pineapple filling: combine the pineapple with the cornstarch in a small saucepan. Over medium heat, cook the pineapple for about 3 to 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens. 
  16. Stir in 2 Tbsp unsalted butter. Set aside.
  17. Grease a 12x17 inch baking sheet with cooking spray.
  18. With lightly greased fingertips, shape the dough into 2 1/2 inch diameter balls. Arrange the dough evenly onto the baking pan, 3 across and 6 down.
  19. Make a generous indentation into the each ball of dough. Do not pierce the bottom of the dough.
  20. Mound about 1 heaping tsp. of pineapple filling into the dough indentation.
  21. Cover the dough balls with a clean tea towel and allow to rise about 1 hour and the dough has almost doubled in size.
  22. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  23. To make the streusel topping: in a food processor, mix the flour, sugar, and the butter until crumbly.
  24. Scatter the streusel topping generously over the dough balls.
  25. Bake the kolaches for about 25 to 30 minutes and lightly browned on top.
  26. Allow the kolaches to cool for 20 minutes before serving.
Recipe adapted from Rebecca Rather of Pastry Queen cookbook. 
Did you already know...
-Kolaches are individual pastries that originate from Eastern Europe.
-They typically have a fruit or cheese filling.
-They are often eaten at Easter or Christmas time.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Victoria Sandwich Cake

I am so glad my husband loves me. I know I have a sarcastic sense of humor. I think this is a trait I learned from my father. My husband was telling me a story about something he saw on the news. Then he says to me, "Well, you know Massachusetts is close to Maine." So, I replied, "It is? I didn't know that." See my husband doesn't get mad by my reply. He doesn't even make a sarcastic remark back. He just keeps telling me the story. Now, that is love!
Have you ever had a Victoria Sandwich Cake? It must have been the inspiration of the New England whoopie pie. The cake has the filling in the center. The filling is creamy and butter. Also, there is jam on top of the filling which gives it additional flavor. The cake is sponge like. Now, my first attempt tasted very good but was more dense than it should have been. The second time I measured everything like the original recipe than I converted the measurements for anyone who doesn't have a food scale. If you are planning a tea party, this is the perfect dessert to make.
Victoria Sandwich Cake
1 1/4 cup fine sugar
14 Tbsp butter, softened
3 eggs
2 1/4 cup self rising flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp milk

7 Tbsp butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups strawberry jam
powdered sugar, for decoration

  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Spray two 8 inch non stick cake pans with cooking spray. Line with parchment paper and spray the parchment paper with cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the sugar, butter, eggs, flour, baking powder, and milk together until smooth.
  4. Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans.
  5. Bake the cake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. Allow to cool for a few minutes and turn onto a cooling rack. Allow to cool completely.
  7. In a medium bowl, cream the butter until smooth and creamy to make the filling. 
  8. Gradually add the sugar to the butter.  
  9. To assemble, place one cake onto the serving platter. 
  10. Top the cake with the butter filling.
  11. Spread the jam on top of the butter filling.
  12. Top the jam and butter filling with the remaining cake.
  13. Dust the top of the cakes with the powdered sugar immediately before serving. 
  14. Keep in an airtight container and eat within two days.
 Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food.
 Did you already know...
-The cake is named after Queen Victoria.
-The cake was served during Queen Victoria's reign with afternoon tea.
-The cake can be served as little sandwiches if baked as a long loaf.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Steak and Ale Pie

I try to encourage my children to read often. I bring them to the library which they like. I also purchase books for them. I recently purchased a book for my son. I thought he would like it since it was scary. It was by R. L. Stine and called How to kill a monster. Doesn't the title seem like a book for a boy? The cover said Step One: Run Step Two: Run faster. I guess my son was feeling a little tough that day since he read the cover and informed me that it was a girl's book. My son would fight the monster and not run. (I think if the monster was scary enough he would be running faster than his sister. I meant he is really tough.)
As I continue my British dishes in honor of the Olympics, I made Steak and Ale Pie. I had never had Steak and Ale Pie until my friend recommended it to me. I asked my Dad if he had tried it. He told me that he liked it very much and even my daughter tried it. After making this dish, my daughter informed me that this recipe was better than the one she tried before. I think she is sweet.
Steak and Ale Pie
(Servings: 6 to 8)
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds stew beef, fat trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced

10ounces (about 5) Portabella mushrooms, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 cup dark ale
3 cups beef broth (I used chicken broth)
1 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried thyme

2 eggs
2 egg whites, stiffly beaten
1 tsp salt
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    In a food processor, pulse the whole eggs about 3 times.
  2. Add the salt, flour, and milk to the eggs. Blend for 45 seconds.
  3. Place the egg mixture in the refrigerator for 45 minutes.
  4. In a large plastic bag, combine the flour, salt, and pepper.
  5. Add a few beef pieces at a time to the plastic bag and shake to coat the meat.
  6. In a large pan, heat the oil. 
  7. Add the meat and brown on all sides. Remove the meat and transfer to a plate.
  8. Add the onion and garlic to the large pan. Saute for 2 minutes.
  9. Add the mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes. The onion should be translucent and the mushrooms are giving off some of their liquid.
  10. Add the ale to the large pot and stir to loosen any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
  11. Return the meat back into the large pan. Add the broth, sage, and thyme.
  12. Bring the mixture to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before transferring the beef mixture into a casserole dish.
  13. Bake the beef mixture for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The meat should be tender but not dry.
  14. Remove the beef from the oven and turn the oven to 425 degrees F.
  15. Remove the egg mixture from the refrigerator and fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites.
  16. Cover the beef mixture with the egg mixture topping and bake for 15 minutes. 
  17. Reduce the oven to 400 degrees F.
  18. Bake the dish for another 10 to 15 minutes. 
  19. Note: check the liquid level of the dish so the meat mixture doesn't dry out.
Recipe from my friend Tracey. Thank you Tracey for giving me permission to use it. It was delicious!
Did you already know...
-In 1896, the first modern day summer Olympics was held in Greece.
-The first  winter Olympics was held in France in 1924. 
-The 2014 Olympics will be held in Russia and then followed by the 2016 Olympics being held in Brazil.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Peacharine Cream Cheese Tart

This is a regular scheduled interruption from the British postings. All right I will admit I'm pretty good at math but when it comes to conversions, I need extra practice. Oh, these British recipes are giving me some practice. When I have mastered some recipes by remaking them, I will have some delicious recipes to share. 
At least, I had no problem making this delicious cream cheese tart. This recipe was picked by Emily of A Gilt Nutmeg for the Pastry Queen Project. I know it came out pretty good when my husband told me that he doesn't normally like peaches but this tart is oh so good. He ate two. (This is how I get my husband to eat fruit occasionally.) Now, you can easily substitute another type of fruit for the topping like apples or pears. I actually used peacharines instead of peaches. I think only half of each peacharine made it into the dessert. Oh, how I love peaches and nectarines but peacharines are the best of two loves.
Peacharine Cream Cheese Tart
Lemon Zest Tart Crust:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
11 Tbsp chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 egg
1/4 cup heavy cream, chilled

Cheese Filling:
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

Fruit Topping:
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
5 large peaches, sliced thin

1/2 cup apricot jam
1/4 cup water

To make the tart crust:
  1. In a food processor, add the flour, salt, sugar, and lemon zest.
  2. Pulse the flour mixture for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the chilled butter and pulse about 20 times. The mixture should look crumbly with bits of dough the size of dried peas.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and heavy cream together.
  5. Slowly, add 1/2 of the beaten egg mixture to the food processor while it is running. Continue to slowly add more egg mixture if needed until the dough forms a ball. (I only had to use 1/2 of the egg mixture.)
  6. Pat the dough into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
To make the filling:
  1. In a mixer, cream the cream cheese and sugar until fluffy.
  2. Add the vanilla and eggs. Beat for 1 minute on medium high speed.
  3. Add the lemon zest, flour, and salt. Mix until incorporated. Set aside.
To assemble the tart:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Take the dough out of the refrigerator. 
  3. Roll the dough to 1/8 inch thickness.
  4. Using a large glass or biscuit cutter, cut out 4 inch circles.
  5. Add the circles to a muffin tin and form the dough into the cups.
  6. Add about 3 Tbsp cream cheese mixture into the center of each dough cups. Place in the refrigerator until needed.
To make the fruit topping:
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the ground cinnamon, sugar, and sliced fruit.
  2. Top each cream cheese mixture with the sliced fruit. 
  3. Bake the tarts for about 30 to 40 minutes. The tart crust should be golden brown.
To make the glaze:
  1. About 10 minutes before the tarts are done baking, combine the apricot jam with the water. Set aside until needed. 
To complete the tarts:
  1. Remove the tarts from the oven and brush each tart immediately with the glaze.
  2. Allow the tarts to cool for at least 1 hour before serving.
  3. When cooled, cover tightly and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
  4. Serve at room temperature.
Recipe adapted from The Pastry Queen cookbook by Rebecca Rather.
Did you already know...
-Peacharines are an hybriad of a peach and a nectarine.
-The peacharine has minimal fuzz with a milder taste than a peach.
-Peacharines are high in Carotene and Vitamin C.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

English Pancakes

I have never had English pancakes before. Have you? The best way to describe them would be a cross between a crepe and a pancake. They are delicate and light. The pancake by itself is plan but that is why toppings are great!
When I was researching them, many sites served the pancakes with lemon. Lemon? I wouldn't have thought to top my pancakes with lemon. I had to try it. Now, I like lemonade so I liked the lemon and sugar topping. It is funny of all the new foods I make the kids did not want to try these pancakes. I did talk my son into trying the pancakes with lemon and he liked them. My youngest daughter wanted just sugar. My oldest daughter wanted stewed strawberries. The hardest thing about these pancakes was flipping them. It took a little practice.
English Pancakes
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg 
1 egg yolk
1 1/8 cup milk
1 Tbsp melted butter
little vegetable oil or melted butter to coat the skillet
white sugar and lemon juice for topping

  1. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt.
  2. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the egg, egg yolk, and 1/2 of the milk. Whisk.
  3. Add the remaining 1/2 of the milk and the melted butter. Whisk well.
  4. Heat an 8 inch skillet over medium heat until hot.
  5. Add the oil or butter and heat for a few seconds.
  6. Add about 2 Tbsp of the pancake batter to the skillet. Swirl the batter in the skillet to coat the bottom of the pan. 
  7. Cook the pancake about 30 seconds before flipping.
  8. Remove from pan onto a plate. 
  9. Top the pancake with the sugar and lemon. Roll up the pancake.
Recipe adapted from A Bowl of Mush website.
Did you already know...
-English pancakes are a popular dish to make on Shove Tuesday.
-Shove Tuesday (Pancake Day) is the day before Lent.
-On Pancake Day, some English towns hold pancake races in which women will race to a finish line while carrying a skillet and flipping pancakes.
She was trying to distract me while I took my photos! Isn't she sweet
I decided not to post the photo of her making faces at me!