Monday, August 31, 2015

Jordan's Blueberry Muffins

School is back in session! The kids were as excited as expected to head back to school. For the first day of school, I decided to back some muffins. The last couple of years I have made scones for their first day of school so it was a nice change. When asked, my daughter requested blueberry muffins. I recently saw this recipe so I figured I would try them. For the number of blueberry muffins I have made, I think it is apparent my daughter loves blueberry muffins. My children told me how much they liked these muffins. I thought I've made better ones in the past. Also, I have never tried the Jordan muffins before so I cannot tell you if they taste like the original ones. This is a quick and easy recipe to try.
Famous Department Store Blueberry Muffins
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
2 cup Maine blueberry 
1/4 cup fine sugar, for topping

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time. Scrap the sides when necessary.
  5. Add the baking powder, salt, and vanilla. Combine until incorporated.
  6. Add a little flour and then a little of the milk. Beat until just incorporated. 
  7. Mash 1/2 cup of the blueberries. Gently fold in the blueberries and the mashed blueberries.
  8. Scoop 1/4 cup of the batter into the prepared muffin tin. 
  9. Sprinkle a little of the fine sugar on top of the batter. 
  10. Bake the muffins for 30 minutes or until the muffins are light golden brown. A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean.
  11. Allow the muffins to cool slightly and then transfer to a wire rack to cool. 
Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour.

One year ago...................................I made Blackberry Scones.
Two years ago.................................I made Green Beans with saute onions.
Three years ago...............................I made Berry Oatmeal Cheesecake Muffins.
Did you already know........................
-In 1851, Eben Jordan formed a partnership with Benjamin Marsh.
-The Jordan Marsh department stores began in the Boston area.
-The Jordan Marsh stores have been closed and became Macy stores.

Friday, August 28, 2015


When we first moved to the Charlotte area, we were told this is Nascar country. Well, the Nascar Hall of Fame is located in Charlotte. So, we decided we should check it out. We thought it would be something fun to do with the kids. Are we Nascar fans? No. Do we ever watch it? No. Did we like the museum? Yes. The kids especially liked the simulator. After watching our daughter crash several times and take out several other cars during her simulator ride, we believe it is best for her to wait awhile for her license. Our son placed third in the simulator ride. So, he will have to wait for his license too since he likes speed and is good at it.
The outside of the Nascar Hall of Fame shaped like a track.
The museum has a chronological display of cars from the past to the present.
Do you know who's car this is? If you guessed Richard Petty, then you are a Nascar fan.
This is my favorite photo for the day. My daughter took it. Besides the cars, the museum has displays about many of the drivers, trophies, and other items. There is a simulator and a short film.

Did you already know....................
-The beginnings of Nascar began with the bootleggers building fast cars to outrun the police.
-Nascar was formed because  William "Bill" France Sr. noticed how the rules varied depending on the event so he formed a committee. 
-In 1949, the Charlotte Speedway held the first Nascar Strictly Stock race.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Chicken a la king

I really like easy meals. This is an easy meal. I have been making different versions of Chicken a la king for years. At my house, it is a dish that we all will eat. Now, you can make homemade biscuits or just bake up some biscuits from a can. I have used biscuits either way. My family prefers the homemade biscuits. This dish really is versatile. If you don't like mushrooms, leave them out. If you love mushrooms, add more. If you are vegetarian, leave out the chicken and use vegetable broth. If you are gluten free, well then use gluten free flour. My family likes this dish since it is chicken in a gravy sauce over biscuits.
Chicken a la king
2 tsp olive oil 
1 lb. chicken breast, diced
2 Tbsp butter
1 portabella mushroom, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped fine
1 carrot, diced
2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup white wine
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup half and half

4 freshly baked biscuits

  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. 
  2. Add the chicken and saute for 2 minutes. 
  3. Add the butter to the pan and allow to melt.
  4. Add the mushroom, celery, and carrot. Saute for 3 minutes. 
  5. Sprinkle the dried thyme, salt, and pepper. Saute for a minute.
  6. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and mix.
  7. Add the chicken broth, wine, and bay leaf. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes. 
  8. Mix in the half and half. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
  9. Continue to allow the mixture to thicken until the chicken is cooked through. 
  10. Serve the chicken with the thicken sauce over the biscuits.
Recipe by Jen of Sweet Morris.

One year ago................................I made Eggplant Parmesan.
Two years ago..............................I made Ravoli in White Sauce.
Three years ago............................I made American Beauty PB Cake.
Did you already know.......................
-The origin of Chicken a la king is unknown.
-From several different claims, Chicken a la king was created as early as in the 1880s.
-Chicken a la king was very popular in the 1950s.

Monday, August 24, 2015


It has been a crazy summer. We have traveled all the way down to Mississippi and all the way up to Maine. As you can imagine, I haven't been cooking as much as usual. Since we have been in the South, my daughter requests biscuits. She doesn't care if we have them with breakfast or dinner. I've tried different biscuit recipes. This recipe is one of the biscuits we really liked. Do I think they taste like Hardees? We didn't think so but they are good and easy.
Hardees Biscuits copy cat
5 & 1/2 cups self rising flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder 
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup vegetable shortening, melted and cooled
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup water
Butter, for brushing the tops 

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside. 
  3. In a large bowl, combine the 5 cups flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.
  4. Cut in the vegetable oil with a pastry cutter or with your fingers. 
  5. Slowly add the buttermilk and the water. 
  6. Mix until the dough comes together. 
  7. Lightly flour a clean surface. 
  8. Roll out the dough and dust top with flour.
  9. Knead a couple of times while dusting with flour.
  10. Roll the dough to 1 inch thickness. 
  11. With an inch cutter or a glass, dust the edge with a little flour.
  12. Press the cutter straight down into the dough and gently lift out.
  13. Place the biscuits onto the prepared baking sheet.
  14. Allow the biscuits to rest for 5 minutes.
  15. Bake the biscuits for 12 minutes or until golden brown. 
  16. Brush the top of the biscuits with butter and serve warm.
Recipe adapted from

Two years ago...................................I made Ladybug cupcakes.
Three years ago.................................I made Peanut Butter and Yogurt dip.
Did you already know....................
-In 1960, Wilber Hardee opened his first Hardees. 
-The first store was opened in Greenville, North Carolina.
-Within 5 months, Mr. Hardee had his first franchisee.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Tiger World

Since it is Summer time again, we have been spending time as a family. Every Friday, we have been trying to do something new. One of first trips was to check out Tiger World. My son recommended this trip. I didn't show a lot of tiger photos since I would be showing a lot of protective fence. We had an entertaining monkey which my husband seemed to carry on an enthusiastic conversation. The monkey was pretty entertaining. Since it was mid day, the majority of the tigers were resting. There were a few other animals to see like emu and wolves. Also, there were plenty of birds walking around viewing the different animals habitats too.
My family graciously allowing me to take their photo. This statute is at the entrance of the park.
One of the many peacocks. This peacock decided he had enough of a conversation with my husband and had to be on his way.
When my husband offered him food, they became friends again.
A white loin greeted us. The kids really liked this exhibit. We stayed here awhile and visited. He allowed this kids to take lots of photos of him. He even put his forehead on the glass so my son took a photo.

There were swans, ducks, and turtles in the pond. It was a pretty cool day. The kids feed many ducks. We saw a white lion and a black swan. It was a very nice family day. 

Did you already know...............................
-White lions are not albinos.
-Due to the recessive gene, two tawny parents can give birth to a white lion.
- In 1938, the earliest recording of a white lion in the Timbavati region.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Salisbury Steak

Did you eat TV dinners as a kid? On occasion, we did. One of my favorite TV dinners was the Salisbury steak meal. So, the other day I figured I would make Salisbury steak for the family. I could have made some TV dinners but I elected to make the meal from scratch. I figured it would be better for us. My daughter requested some creamed spinach which I thought was the perfect side dish. My husband loved the Salisbury Steak. He told me it was one of his favorite meals I have made. He didn't care for the creamed spinach even if the kids and I did. If you are feeling you would like a retro meal, then this is a great meal to make.
Salisbury Steak
1 lb. of ground beef
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 egg
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
2 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, sliced
8 oz. white mushrooms
2 Tbsp flour
2 cups chicken broth

  1. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, black pepper, salt, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, bread crumbs, and one egg. Mix until incorporated.
  2. Divide the mixture into 4 equal sections. Shape into patties.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
  4. Melt the butter and cook the meat patties on each side for 4 minutes. 
  5. Flip the patties and cook for another 4 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside on a plate. Cover.
  6. Add the onion into the skillet. 
  7. Reduce the heat to medium low. Cook the onions for 20 minutes. 
  8. Add the mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes. 
  9. Sprinkle the flour over the onions and mushrooms. Saute for 2 minutes.
  10. Add 1 cup of the chicken broth. Stir well. Raise the heat to medium.
  11. Add the meat patties into the skillet. 
  12. Add one more cup of the chicken broth to the pan. 
  13. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and allow the meat to cook for 15 minutes.
  14. Serve the patties with spoonfuls of the onion, mushrooms, and gravy over the patties.  
Recipe adapted from Taste of Southern
One year ago.............................I made Pineapple Syrup.
Two years ago..........................I made Pie Filling.
Three years ago........................I made Pineapple Kolaches.
Did you already know.........................
-Salisbury steak is named after Dr. Salisbury. 
-During the Civil War, Dr. Salisbury tested his food theories on ailing soldiers.
-Dr. Salisbury recommended a diet of hamburgers three times a week.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Fudge Brownies

I love brownies! I want my brownies to be more fudgy and gooey than cakey. I figured if I want something cakey than I would just make chocolate cupcakes. These brownies are really good. My husband agrees with my assessment that these are some good brownies. I always elect not to add espresso to my ingredients since I appreciate my children sleeping at night. If they don't sleep, then I don't sleep. If I don't sleep, then no one gets any dessert the next day. It is better to skip the espresso.
Fudge Brownies 
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups dark cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup unsatled butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups mini chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking pan with nonstick baking spray. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, add the eggs, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and vanilla. Mix until well incorporated.  Set aside.
  4. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.
  5. Add the sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. 
  6. Add the butter mixture to the egg mixture. Stir until smooth.
  7. Add the flour and chocolate chips. Stir until smooth. 
  8. Evenly spread the batter into the prepared baking pan.
  9. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle has no raw batter with moist crumbs.
Recipe adapted from King Arthur.

One year ago.............................I made Peanut Butter Pie.
Two years ago...........................I made Snickerdoodle Cookies.
Three years ago.........................I made Victoria Sandwich Cake.
Did you already know.........................
-Coffee is the seconded traded commodity after oil.
-Espresso is made in a specific preparation of the coffee bean. 
-In Italian, espresso means pressed out. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Chicken Bastilla

Of all the Moroccan foods I've tried, this recipe is my favorite. I will admit I really was surprised. I thought the combination sounded crazy. Chicken with cinnamon, scrambled egg mixture, almonds and all topped with powdered sugar? It couldn't possibly be good, right? Not only did I love it, my whole family loved it. My son said it is one of his all time favorite foods. There are a lot of steps to this recipe and it does take awhile to make but it really is worth it. I recommend going to the link listed below the recipe to the source since Cooking with Alia has a video. Watch the video before making this recipe. Oh, it is so good!
Moroccan Chicken Bastilla
Chicken filling:
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
pinch of saffron
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 lbs. chicken breast
2 cups chicken broth

Egg filling:
6 large eggs

Almond filling:
10 oz. blanch almonds
4 oz. powdered sugar
2 Tbsp water
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
vegetable oil for frying

Dough ingredients:
1 package of phyllo dough
8 Tbsp butter, melted
1 egg yolk

  1. In a large pot, heat the oil over high heat.
  2. Add the onions, parsley, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, saffron, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
  3. Add the chicken breast and mix. Cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken broth and allow the mixture to cook.
  5. Cover and allow the chicken to cook for 20 minutes. 
  6. Remove the chicken from the mixture. Place the chicken onto a plate and allow to cool. 
  7. Once cooled, shred the chicken into small pieces. Set aside.
  8. Lower the heat to low.
  9. Add the 6 eggs to the mixture in the pot. Mix well. 
  10. Allow the mixture to cook 10 minutes. Stir often. Once the liquid has evaporated, remove from the pot and place in a bowl to cool. Set aside.
  11. In a large skillet, add oil. Heat over medium heat.
  12. Add the almonds and fry until golden brown. 
  13. Remove the excess oil from the almonds. 
  14. Add one Tbsp of the almond oil to the shredded chicken. Mix well. Set aside. 
  15. Into a food processor, add the almonds, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and water. Pulse until the almonds are crushed. Set aside.
  16. Brush a deep pie pan with melted butter. 
  17. Carefully, fold 3 pieces of phylllo dough into half. Place onto the bottom of the pie pan. Brush with melted butter.
  18. Hold another 3 pieces of phyllo dough in half. Place the folded piece on the side of the pan with 1/3 of the length draped over the edge of the pan. The phyllo dough should be overlapping the bottom layer. Brush with the melted butter. 
  19. Continue to drape the sides of the pan with the halved phyllo dough. Brush with the melted butter.
  20. Spread the egg mixture into the middle of the pan.
  21. Cover the egg mixture with two layers of the phyllo dough. Brush with melted butter. 
  22. Add the shredded chicken into the middle of the pan. Cover with two layers of the phyllo dough. Brush with the melted butter.
  23. Add the almond mixture into the middle of the pan. Cover with two layers of the phyllo dough. Brush with the melted butter. 
  24. Carefully, fold the draped phyllo dough over the almond mixture. Brush with melted butter. 
  25. Any remaining phyllo dough should be draped over the top of the dish. Tuck any sides inside the pan. Brush with melted butter. 
  26. Brush the top of the phyllo dough with the egg yolk.  
  27. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  28. Bake the 20 to 30 minute or until golden brown.
  29. Remove from oven and decorate the top of the bastilla with sifted powdered sugar and cinnamon.
  30. Serve immediately.
Recipe adapted by Cooking with Alia.

One year ago...............................I made Blueberry Muffins.
Two years ago.............................I made Berry Tea.
Three years ago...........................I made Steak and Ale Pie.
Did you already know..............................
-The Arabs introduced Moroccans to meat infused with spices and wrapped in a pastry.
-Chicken Bastilla is a traditional Moroccan chicken pie.
-Chicken Bastilla was initial made with fledgling pigeons.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Moroccan cookie butter

I have not tried cookie butter. I've seen many posts about how wonderful cookie butter taste. I know it is rich and decadence. I am going to have buy some and compare it with this recipe. Since this cookie butter is served with dates, I figured I would just serve it in the dates. This way I could more likely get the kids to eat dates. The kids liked this recipe but they told me they would rather have cookies than cookie butter.
Taknetta (Moroccan cookie butter)
1 cup vegetable oil
1 2/3 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup roasted sesame seeds
1/2 cup almonds, roasted and chopped

  1. In a large pot, heat the oil over low heat. 
  2. Add the flour and mix well. 
  3. Cook the flour and continue to stir for 30 minutes.
  4. Add the sugar and continue to stir for another 15 minutes.
  5. Once the mixture become thick like a paste, remove from the heat.
  6. Stir in the sesame seeds and the almonds.
  7. Pour the mixture onto a plate. 
  8. Allow to cool before serving or stuffing the prunes.
Recipe adapted from Cooking with Alia

One year ago..................................I made Nutella Chocolate Zucchini Bread.
Two years ago...............................I made Double Roasted Chicken.
Three years ago.............................I made Peacharine Cream Cheese Tart.
Did you already know..............
-Sesame seeds are mentioned on ancient Egyptian scrolls.
-Sesame seeds come in off white, brown, and black.
-One of the oldest recorded seasonings is the sesame seed.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Moroccan Zaalouk

Recently, I was having some computer issues which hopefully have been resolved. I have been making a lot of dishes which I've already blogged like: berry cobbler, creamed spinach, and snickerdoodle cookies. I have been trying some new recipes too. Yes, I have a few more Moroccan recipes. As my oldest daughter said to me, "You really do like Moroccan food, huh." Don't worry this week will be the last of the Moroccan foods for awhile. I'm moving onto making some Japanese food in a couple of weeks. Back to my Moroccan food expedition, I made some zaalouk which is a tomato and eggplant dip. I really liked this recipe. My children liked it. My husband hesitantly tried it and he even liked it. He will tell you that you can't even taste the eggplant. If you are going onto your own Moroccan food expedition, you should make this recipe. I will say this is my second favorite Moroccan recipe. My favorite recipe I will be posting later.
Zaalouk (Eggplant and Tomato dip)
1 large eggplant
4 large ripe tomato (chopped and seeded)
3 clove of garlic, minced
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup water
1 small wedge of lemon

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. 
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Cut the eggplant in half. Place the eggplant onto the parchment paper.
  4. Roast the eggplant for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove the eggplant from the skin.
  6. Add the eggplant to the chopped tomatoes and mash.
  7. In a medium pan, heat the eggplant, tomato, olive oil, garlic, paprika, cumin, salt, and cayenne.
  8. Heat the mixture for 10 minutes while stirring and mashing the mixture. 
  9. Squeeze the eggplant with a slice of the lemon.
  10. Continue to stir and mash for another 5 minutes. 
  11. Remove from the heat and serve either hot or cold.
  12. Serve with some Moroccan bread. 
Recipe adapted from

Two years ago.......................I made Italian Omelet.
Three years ago.....................I made English pancakes
Did you already know.................
-Eggplant is actually a fruit.
-Eggplants are related to tomatoes.
-Another name for eggplant is aubergine.