Thursday, June 5, 2014

Mixed Berry Streusel Coffee Cake

I was starting to think I participate in this blog just to have an excuse to make naughty desserts. But then I remember... I want to please our readers. So I remind myself that it's a "need" not a "want" - it's necessary that I bring happiness to your taste buds. If I can't achieve that, what I am doing here?

Over the winter I went through a I-gotta-have-a-smoothie-everyday phase. I stocked up on frozen berries, and then naturally I lost my obsession for smoothies shortly after. I was pregnant so cravings completely took control of my life.

I wanted to use up those berries, and knew I wanted to use them in a dessert that include streusel. Yum! If you don't enjoy a good streusel topping, go immediately to the doctor, because obviously there is something wrong with you.

I found this recipe on the Taste of Home website. I love this site. I could spend an entire afternoon drooling over the recipes.

This coffee cake is amazing! For real, I'm not just saying it. I made two 8x8 pans. One to give away and the other for my family. Our pan was gone the next morning (yep, I had some for breakfast... with my coffee... because it's coffee cake, that's why!). I made the first two pans with raspberries.

Wait. Did you catch that? "I made the first two pans"... if you figured out that I made another 9x13 pan two days later, you are correct. That is exactly what I did. This time I used mixed berries.

If you are like me, you are not a huge fan of the seeds in certain berries. I tolerate them because the fruit is so damn good. I was concerned the filling for the cake would be too seedy. Not true. At all. I think the fact that it wasn't seedy made my love this cake even stronger.

This recipe makes more filling than I wanted to use, so I jarred and refrigerated the rest. It was great to use as jelly. I stored it for about two weeks. It may store longer, but I am not expert on that.

Mixed Berry Streusel Coffee Cake
Adapted from: Taste of Home

Mixed berry filling:
3 1/2 cups unsweetened berries
1 cup water
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup corn starch

3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup butter, cold & cubed
2 eggs
1 cup (8oz) sour cream
1 tsp vanilla

Streusel topping:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened

Make the filling:
In a large saucepan, cook berries and water over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add lemon juice. Combine sugar and cornstarch; stir into fruit mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Cool.

Make the cake mix:
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in eggs, sour cream and vanilla (batter will be stiff). 

Make the streusel: 
Combine all ingredients into a separate bowl. 

Bake the cake: 
Spread half of the cake mix into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Spread berry filling over batter; spoon remaining batter over filling. Sprinkle streusel over top. Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve warm or cool. Both are equally delicious! 


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Omelette Quesadilla and Wrap

Once again life became crazy busy, and I was forced to put my blog posts on hold. Long story short - I carried twins for another couple. At 28 weeks, I was admitted into the hospital for Pre-eclampsia with severe features. My only severe feature was high blood pressure, but it was high enough that I had to remain in the hospital until I delivered. You can read more about it here. On top of that, I was also taking a college English course on-line. Life is now getting back to normal after the twins were born and my English course is winding down.

I'm excited to get back in the kitchen. I have some fun ideas I'd like to start doing. Almost a year ago, I received my grandma's old recipes, like old as in - handwritten on recipe cards. I'd like to dedicate a post each month to making something from her collection of recipes. Also, I am continuing to make a baked good once a month for a year as part of my daughter's mission trip fundraiser. I'm hoping to dedicate a post to this as well.

Today I have two delicious and satisfying breakfast ideas. Yeah... my last post was a breakfast item too. So what? I like breakfast, okay? I made these dishes vegetarian, but feel free to add ham, bacon, or sausage or get wild and add them all! Like I've said before, I like making dishes that allow you to get creative - add or subtract any ingredients you want.

Omelette Quesadilla
1 serving

2 eggs
Olive oil
Handful of veggies - I used onions, peppers, mushrooms, and tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Shredded cheddar cheese
2 Soft tortilla shells (large size)

Add a bit of olive oil to a frying pan. Scramble the eggs either with or without the veggies. I chose to saute mine after the eggs were scrambled. Shake some salt and pepper on the eggs as they scramble. Once the eggs are done and the veggies are softened, transfer them to a bowl. Set bowl aside.

Place one soft shell tortilla in the frying pan. Sprinkle on some cheese. Take the eggs and veggies and scatter them over the shell. Sprinkle on some more cheese and top with another soft shell tortilla. Cook over a medium heat for a few minutes or until the bottom shell is a golden brown. It's important that you don't cook it too fast or over a high heat. The cheese won't have time to melt and flipping it will make a mess - trust me on this one. Once cheese it melted and the shell has reached a nice golden brown, flip the quesadilla and cook another few minutes.

Now for the wrap...

Prepare the eggs and veggies the same as above. Place one soft shell tortilla  on a plate. Sprinkle cheese down the middle of the shell - not too close to the edges. Place the eggs and veggies over the cheese and fold the shell. Check out this link to see how to fold the shell. Heat it, seam side down, over a medium-low heat for 5-6 minutes. Flip and heat for another 5-6 minutes.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Egg Benedict Breakfast Pizza

The.Best.Breakfast.Pizza.Ever.... seriously!

What you'll need:

1 tube of pizza crust
4 eggs, scramble
Canadian Bacon, deli ham or cubed ham
Salt and pepper
1 cup Cheddar Cheese
1 cup Mozzarella Cheese

Hollandaise Sauce:

4 egg yolks,reserve egg whites for pizza
1 stick of butter
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 - 1/2 tsp black pepper

To prepare the sauce:

Melt one stick of butter in microwave. In a separate bowl, add 4 egg yolks. Set the unused egg whites aside. We'll scramble the whites later. Add lemon juice, paprika and pepper to yolks and whisk until smooth. Slowly whisk in melted butter. Whisk together until well combined. Set aside.


Preheat oven for whatever the crust calls for.

Unroll the pizza crust. Press the crust to your desired thickness on a greased baking pan. Spread the sauce on the pizza crust. Scramble 4 eggs along with the 4 egg whites set aside from the Hollandaise sauce. Add scrambled eggs and ham to pizza, and sprinkle on salt and pepper. Top the pizza with cheese. I also suggest adding some veggies - onions, peppers, mushrooms, etc.

Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Cinco de Mayo Special - Easy & Fresh Guacamole!

I never used to be a fan of guacamole but I don't think I had GOOD guacamole for a very long time. It always seemed bland and I was new to avocados (my parents never served them) so I steered clear of it for a while. But then the restaurant Chipotle entered my life and I tried their's. It was GOOD. So I started to make it fresh myself and I really think it's a great snack, appetizer, topping, sandwich spread, etc. And avocados are healthy for you (in moderation of course)! Here is a simple recipe that I turn to time and again and am never disappointed. Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Easy & Fresh Guacamole

2 avocados, mashed
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
1-2 diced tomatoes
1/2 freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon cilantro
few dashes salt and pepper

Combine all the ingredients well and serve immediately with tortilla chips or veggies! To store leftovers, press plastic wrap down on top of the guacamole in the bowl to prevent browning and refrigerate.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo Pasta

I found an alfredo recipe on Pinterest, and I felt it was challenging me to try it. It claimed to be better than Olive Garden's alfredo sauce. I don't think O.G. has the best alfredo sauce, but I don't think it's horrible either. Guess that means I'm neutral, but whoever named this sauce named it "Better Than.." and I agree 100%.

Well, challenge accepted. I give it a pretty good score, too! Creamy and flavorful! Take a look...

Find the original recipe here: Better Than Olive Garden Alfredo Sauce.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Cream Cheese Crescent Rolls

I enjoy making food that looks impressive but is oh so easy to make. I combined two things that my family loves - cream cheese wontons and crescent rolls - and came up with these cream cheese crescent rolls. My kids had fun helping me and they are pretty hard to mess up. Here's what you need: a tube of crescent rolls, a package of cream cheese, and if desired, jam to top it off with. SO easy! Heat oven to 375 degrees. Lay out the crescent rolls and put about a tablespoon of cream cheese in the middle of each triangle. Seal up the edges of the crescent roll surrounding the cream cheese. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 11 - 13 minutes. I added homemade blueberry jam on top. Delicious! 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Minestrone Soup

We are still knee deep in snow. The frozen tundra... just one of our many nicknames. Soup is good anytime of the year, but it's especially comforting on a cold winter's night. And who's going to complain when you can serve a whole meal in just one bowl, not me.

This minestrone soup is very satisfying and call me crazy, but it's beautiful. The aroma that fills the house is ahhh..mazing! It makes you wish the day away and pray dinnertime will come soon. I prepared this in my crockpot so it cooked all day long, fusing those wonderful flavors together in slow motion. You could also make this soup in a stockpot and it wouldn't take much time at all. Just cook until the veggies are tender.

Minestrone Soup (adapted from Windsor)

1 1/2 frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen green beans
3 large carrots, sliced
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 medium yellow squash, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
2 cans (15.5oz) light red kidney beans
1 can (15.5oz) cannellini (white kidney) beans
1 can (14.5oz) tomatoes w/basil, garlic & oregano
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tbsp black pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp oregano
1 tsp parsely
2 tbsp brown sugar
46.5 oz vegetable broth (1 box plus 1 can)

Rinse veggies and chop. Add them to the crockpot.

Rinse beans. Add beans, tomatoes, garlic and onions.

Add vegetable broth, olive oil, minced garlic, brown sugar and seasoning to crockpot and stir everything together.

Cook all day (6-8 hours) on low heat.The slower and longer you cook this, the more flavorful it is. Top with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and eat away. Don't worry too much about overdoing it... this soup quite healthy. Bonus!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Honey BBQ Chicken Strips

One of mine and my daughter's favorite appetizers is Boneless Honey BBQ Chicken Strips from Applebee's. The sauce is just perfect for us. My husband loves Parmesan Garlic Wings from Buffalo Wild Wings. So for the Superbowl we decided to attempt at-home versions of both flavors. Unfortunately, my husband's recipe was a flop, but the BBQ strips turned out perfectly. Not exactly like Applebee's, but we were good with that because this sauce was really great. It was tangy and sweet.

The strips we chose were Tyson Crispy Chicken Strips, I'm telling you... they are just right for this sauce. We had leftover sauce and strips so I had this meal for lunch 2 days in a row. Just thinking about them now makes me crave them. These little sweeties will leave your tastebuds yearning for more. You'll be totally set with ranch or bleu cheese dipping sauce and a small side of slaw or these delicious homemade potato chips.

Let's get saucy...

Honey BBQ Sauce

1/4 C brown sugar
1/2 C + 2 tbsp BBQ (I used Sweet Baby Ray's)
1/4 C water
1 tbsp honey

Mix everything together and the sauce is ready to go!

Bake the desired amount of strips. The quantity of sauce was enough for the entire bag. We only made about of the half the bag and baked the rest when we ready to eat more. I like my strips extra crispy so I always bake them longer than the bag recommends.

Once your strips are done, give them a honey BBQ bath. Flip 'em and flop 'em around in the sauce.

 Now you are set to sit down and enjoy some tasty, tasty Honey BBQ Chicken Strips!!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Homemade Chips with Onion Dill Dip

Have you ever made your own chips? If you haven't, you really need to add it to your to-do list. They are amazing. I made them for the first time in December and have made them 3 times since then. It's pretty easy to do. Sure there are a few steps, but all in all, they are quite easy. And oh man, so delicious. You can make as little or as much as you like. The crispness and salty taste...yum, so satisfying. Be careful though... like the traditional saying goes "bet you can't eat just one" and that's very true for these chips. Once you add the dip - oh mama! Hold on! The dip is creamy and bursting with flavor. It's not an overwhelming onion/dill flavor. It's just right.

Let's get started...

Ingredients (copycat from Lauren's Latest):

4 large Russet Potatoes
A large bowl of cold water
2 pints peanut oil (vegetable oil works too)
Sea salt

Dip :

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayo
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/2 tsp dried dill 
Salt and pepper to taste

Grab your mandoline. I found a nice one at WalMart for $15. If you don't have one, you can slice them by hand too. It's just more work and takes more time.

Take a potato and start slicing. I like how the original blogger said "don't be a hero - use the guard". Made me chuckle so I'm bringing you her words of wisdom. Anyone else start singing "Biiilllyyy, don't be a hero". No? Just me. My parents had that song on the jukebox. I love that song.

Once you have the potatoes sliced, soak them in cold water for 30 minutes. This step removes most of the starch. It makes the chips light and crisp when we cook them.

While they soak, start making the dip.

Combine all ingredients, stir together and put in the fridge. Yeah, I know. Easy, huh?

Also, let's start heating up that peanut oil. Add the oil to a large skillet. Turn stove dial to high-medium.

When the potatoes are done with their cold bath, drain the water and dry them well. Water and oil don't mix well. We don't need any unnecessary burns.

Prepare a pan with a napkin and get your sea salt ready. Oh... we're so close to the goodness right now!

Let's start cookin'!

Take a handful of potatoes and drop them carefully into the oil. The chips should "dance" around in the hot oil. If things get crazy and oil is sputtering out of the pan, turn the heat down. They should start turning a darkish shade of brown in about 5-7 minutes. Note: if you like darker chips go a minute or two longer... lighter chips, cook a minute or two less.

Remove the chips from the skillet with a slotted metal spoon and place them in the pan you prepared with a napkin. Sprinkle on some sea salt right away. Sneak a chip. Go ahead, sneak another - I won't tell!

Grab the dip! The time has come to dive in.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Slow-cooked Salsa Chicken Enchiladas

Like Mexican food? Great! You'll love this recipe then! It's basically your typical enchilada only amped up A LOT. It's creamy, cheesy and tasty.

Salsa Chicken Enchiladas

1 lb chicken, cut into large chunks
8oz cream cheese
½ cup cheddar cheese, cubed
1 jar of salsa, after poured into crockpot fill jar about ¾ of the way with water and add to crockpot
¼ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp minced onion
Black pepper to taste

Handful green onions, chopped
Handful cilantro, chopped

8 Flour tortilla shells
2 cups Cheddar cheese, shredded
Sour cream

In a crockpot, combine chicken, cream cheese, cubed cheese, salsa, water and spices. Cook on low heat for at least four hours or until chicken is cooked thoroughly. Remove chicken chunks from sauce and shred. Return shredded chicken to sauce and continue to cook on low for another hour or so.

When you are ready to make the enchiladas, cut up the green onions and cilantro. Add to chicken mixture.

Preheat oven to 375. Set aside a 9x13 baking pan.

With a slotted spoon, add a spoonful or more of the chicken mixture to one side of the flour shell. TIP: let the sauce run through the slotted spoon before adding it to the shell.

Roll the shell and place into the pan. Make 8 rolled shells. Pour the remaining sauce and chicken over the rolled shells.

Sprinkle shredded cheese on top.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted.

 My slow-cooked refried beans are the perfect side this Mexican dish. Top beans and enchiladas with sour cream and you are good to go. You’ve got yourself a good gut-stuffin' plate of deliciousness.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole (Pinterest Copycat)

I'm sure a lot of people have seen this pin on Pinterest. It's been pinned/repinned about a bazillion times. The pictures made me drool so I added the recipe to the top of my must-try list. I finally got around to making it last night. I cut the recipe in half because I knew my boys would reject the meal. They just don't understand good food sometimes.

This meal was very tasty. It was creamy and quite filling. I might play around with the sauce a little next time. While it was good, I think it could be even better with a few tweaks. For example, I think a sauce similar to Alfredo would be great!

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole (adapted from Tasty Kitchen)

1 lbs chicken, slow-cooked or boiled then shredded
1 can chicken broth

10-12 slices very thin honey ham
5-6 slices thin baby swiss cheese

For sauce:
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp ground white pepper
1/4 garlic powder
2 tbsp sour cream

For topping:
3 tbsp butter
2/3 cup panko crumbs
1/3 tsp season salt
3/4 tsp dried parsley
(next time I would double this)

Clean and trim chicken. Cut chicken into chunks. Add it to the crockpot along with the broth and cook for 4ish hours. Shred the chicken once it is fully cooked.

Preheat oven to 350. 

Add chicken to baking pan. Cover shredded chicken with some broth. Just enough to wet the chicken.

Add a layer of ham, tear it up a bit first.

Add cheese.

For the sauce:

Melt butter in saucepan. Add flour and stir well. Slowly add milk. Stir until flour mixture is well combined. Add lemon juice, mustard, salt, paprika, white pepper and garlic. I split the original recipe in half and then being the absent-minded person I am, I forgot and added the full 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika. Doh!!!! To fix this I added sour cream to the sauce before pouring it over the cheese. I think it really added a creamy texture and will do it again when I make this dish in the future (I'll also use the correct amount of paprika).

Again, if you follow the recipe correctly, your sauce won't be this orange
Pour sauce over cheese.

For topping:

I also split the recipe for the topping in half. I thought it wasn't enough topping though so I would definitely double this recipe next time. Melt butter in microwave for 45 seconds or until melted. Add Panko crumbs and seasonings. Stir together and sprinkle over sauce.

Add the Panko topping

Bake dish for about 45 minutes. Eat, enjoy and get a full tummy.