German Plum Cobbler

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I always want to buy plums in the market, but honestly have never enjoyed eating a plum by itself that much. Cobblers are summer’s way of saying “I love you” to fresh fruit – all kinds of fresh fruit.

While the word “kuchen” means cake in german, I found this recipe to be so reminiscent of a summer cobbler. There is no better way to eat cobbler than with vanilla ice cream melting slowly over the top!

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GERMAN PLUM COBBLER

Adapted From Cooking Light’s Plum Kuchen, July 2011

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour

2/3 Cup plus 2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar, divided

2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar

1 Teaspoon Baking Powder

3/8 Teaspoon Salt, divided

1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon, divided

1/4 Teaspoon Ground Ginger

1/4 Teaspoon Nutmeg

7 Tablespoons Butter, divided

1/2 Cup Milk

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1 Large Egg

1/2 Pound Black Plums (about 6 medium) or any variety of plums, pitted and quartered

1 Teaspoon Grated Lemon Rind

PREPARATION

Preheat Oven to 425°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 2 Tablespoons of granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, 1/4 Teaspoon Salt, and Spices (1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg) in a medium bowl. Using two knives or a pastry blender, cut in 4 Tablespoons Butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Whisk together Milk, Vanilla, and Egg in a bowl. Add milk mixure to flour mixture, and stir until just comvined.

Spoon batter into a 9-inch square metal cake pan coated with butter using a butter wrapper or cooking spray. Arrange plums in a linear pattern over batter.

Combine remaining 2/3 Cups Granulated Sugar, remaining 1/8 Teaspoon Salt, and 1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon in a small bowl. Melt remaining 3 Tablespoons Butter. Stir into sugar mixture. Sprinkle plums evenly with sugar mixture.

Bake at 425° for 35 minutes or until browned and bubbling. Cool in pan for 20 minutes. Serve for dessert, warm with vanilla ice cream or as a breakfast cake.

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Blueberry-Orange Sour Cream Muffins

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Welcome to my latest creation. My daughters are crazy for baked goods so this summer we are trying some new recipes.  The blueberries are so beautiful right now and bursting with flavor.  The topping is crumbly and makes these muffins a bit irresistible.  My first thought this morning was “maybe I should have one for breakfast.” Yumm….

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First make the topping and refrigerate until you are ready to use.

MUFFIN TOPPING

Makes topping for 18 – 24 muffins

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup light brown sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter cubed

1 teaspoon cinnamon

PREPARATION

  1. Cube butter and allow it to reach room temperature
  2. Combine ingredients in a bowl
  3. Use your fingers or a fork to mix ingredients to form coarse crumbles


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MUFFINS

Makes 18 – 24 muffins

INGREDIENTS

3 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 cups sour cream

2 teaspoons orange extract

1 teaspoon vanilla

Zest 1 large orange or 2 small oranges

2 cup fresh blueberries

PREPARATION

  1. Heat the oven to  375°. Butter muffin pans.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the 3 cups of flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, wisk the egg until frothy. Add the sugar and melted butter and beat until pale yellow, 1 minute. Beat in the sour cream, orange extract, vanilla and orange zest until blended.
  4. Add the blueberries  to your dry ingredients and toss. Using a wooden spoon, fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Do not over mix – batter should be lumpy.
  5. Fill the muffin cups three-fourths full of batter and sprinkle with the topping. Bake for 25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean when placed in the center of a mufffin. Remove the muffins from the pan and let cool on a rack.

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Quiche Muffins

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Want to make your family smile with a gourmet breakfast that couldn’t be easier? Try these yummy savory muffins. I used to eat these for breakfast a few times a week when I worked across the street from the Millstone Bakery, a nook reeking of roasted coffee, sweet breads and other gourmet manifestations .  I loved this place and was sad the day Millstone closed.  However, they printed and shared their recipies with all of their faithful customers who came in for some irresistable goods on the last day of business.  How thoughtful – thank you Millstone!  I have changed the recipie a bit and remember – this is a quiche so you can add other veggies, cheeses, or herbs.

QUICHE MUFFINS

makes 2 dozen

INGREDIENTS

3 cups of half and half

6 eggs

1/2 minced onion or shallots

1 cup (drained) chopped spinach

8 oz shredded cheddar cheese

2 cups flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tsp salt

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 350.  Wisk first 5 ingredients. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt.  Pour into greased muffin pans (almost to the top). Bake 25 minutes until light browning on top. Wait 5 minutes before removing from muffin pans.

First 5 ingredients

first five ingredients

Plated with Fruit Salad and Avocado

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Summer Raspberry Cream Cake

         Summer Raspberry Cream Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing – Yes please!

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When my friend invited me to watch her put together her summer time cake and take the recipe with me for my blog I was really excited.  Heather is a stay at home mama with three in her brood. She also has a wonderful story of childhood that helps one understand why Heather cares so much about preparing natural, wholesome, and delicious foods, from scratch.  Heather was raised in Papua New Guinea, in a tribal village. Her parents were missionaries and she was there between the ages of 2 and 11. Heather watched closely as her Mom grew and prepared everything by hand. She learned skills as well as a philosophy on preparing food that she carries with her today. She cares very much about the origin of the products she buys and makes efforts to use local and natural ingredients. Heather makes foods like yogurt, jams, and breads. She has a vegetable garden, she enjoys knitting beautiful accessories for her little girls, and she loves to bake. She invited me over to watch her put together this summer time cake; as well as enjoy a piece with a lovely cup of Earl Grey Tea. I highly recommend trying this combination – it is so delicious. Thanks for sharing this, Heather.

Just a couple of things about the recipe I should mention is that in developing these recipes, Heather was trying to achieve a creamier frosting with less powdered sugar – as many recipes call for – so after years of altering her favorite recipes Heather has reduced the butter and created a lighter meringue to incorporate into the icing and therefore was also able to reduce the amount of sugar. She also chose recipes based on the number of egg yolk vs. egg whites for the frosting so there would be no waste.  So together, these recipes for cake, filling and icing will produce a creamy, light and fluffy, perfectly sweetened cake. Some things you will need: electric mixer, two  9 inch cake pans, long bread knife, food thermometer, and a cooling rack.

INGREDIENTS for YElLOW CAKE

3 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

 2 sticks + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter room temp

1 1/2 cup sugar

4 lg egg yolks + 1 egg – separate and reserve 4 whites for the icing

1 cup sour cream

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

PREPARATION for YELLOW CAKE

1.  Heat oven to 350°, place to racks in the center of oven. grease two 9 inch cake pans with butter. Dust with flour. Mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

2. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy, gradually add sugar. Keep beating until light and fluffy – 3 minutes. Drizzle in egg yolks,beating on med – low until fluffy.

3. Alternate adding flour mixture and sour cream to butter mixture, ending with flour mix. Beat in vanilla, divide between pans. Bake 30 – 40 minutes – until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 15 min then remove from pan, cool on wire racks.  Score the cakes before slicing – this will help you slice it through the center. Please click here to see Heather’s demonstration. Split layers horizontally using a bread knife. Set aside the prettiest dome for the top. Assemble. Refrigerate if necessary (due to the whip cream filling it is best to keep this cake in a cool place).

 INGREDIENTS for RASPBERRY and CREAM FILLING

  12 – 14 oz of raspberry jam

1 1/2 cup whipping cream – will yield about 4 cups

1 1/2 tablespoon of powdered sugar

PREPARATION for RASPBERRY and CREAM FILLING

1. Whip cream, adding the powdered sugar during the whipping process.

2. This filling will be divided among the three layers.  Spread the jam over the top of your bottom layer, then spread your whip cream over the jam, leaving a 1 inch border. Place the next layer of cake and gently press from the center of the cake to help distribute the cream.  However, do not over do it, the weight of the cake will spread the cream to the edge of the layer as the cake settles.

 INGREDIENTS for SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM ICING

4 lg egg whites

2 tablespoons water

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup sugar

2 sticks butter unsalted

PREPARATION for SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM ICING

1. Combine egg whites, water, cream of tartar and sugar in a bowl. Set bowl in skillet with simmering water. Beat on low until whites reach 140°. Beat on high until 160°. 2-4 min. Remove bowl from heat add 1 tsp vanilla. Beat on high 3 – 5 min to cool and until meringue holds glossy stiff peaks.

2. In a separate bowl beat unsalted butter to cream. Fold large dollop of meringue into batter.  Continue to fold in meringue in stages.

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Fresh Strawberry Pie

Strawberry Pie Slice

We did it again.  We took advantage of the sweet, innocent, juiciest berry of the month!  MC made this pie the other night and it is simply irresistible!  I really did not feel I got my fair share because my daughter had to have bites of mine after wolfing down her own adult-sized piece. So, it is with pleasure that we recreate this seasonal delicacy, even larger than before, so that no one walks away wanting more.

We used a tart dish and increased the recipe by an additional 50% – a good idea if you have a lot of mouths to feed or just because you want to.  Enjoy!
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FRESH STRAWBERRY PIE

Adapted from Betty Crocker Kitchens

INGREDIENTS

For the Pie Crust:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsweetened butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water
For the Filling:
1 ½ Quarts Strawberries (about 6 cups), hulled
1 Cup Sugar
3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
½ Cup Water
1 (3 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon grated Lemon Zest

PREPARATION

1. In medium bowl, mix flour and salt. Cut in butter, using pastry blender (or pulling 2 table knives through ingredients in opposite directions), until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).
2. Gather pastry into a ball. Shape into flattened round on lightly floured surface. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate about 45 minutes or until dough is firm and cold, yet pliable. If your refrigerate for longer, let it soften before rolling.
3. Heat oven to 475°F. Roll out your pie dough into a ¼ inch-thick circle. Gently place into pie plate, trim extra from sides, fold dough under and flute as desired. Prick bottom and side of pastry thoroughly with fork. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until light brown. Cool on cooling rack.
4. In small bowl, mash enough strawberries to measure 1 cup. In 2-quart saucepan, mix sugar and cornstarch. Gradually stir in 1/2 cup water and mashed strawberries (add 1 or 2 drops food color if deeper red color is desired). Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute; cool.
5. In medium bowl, beat cream cheese and lemon peel until smooth. Spread evenly in pie crust. Top with remaining strawberries. Pour cooked strawberry mixture over top. Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.




Bread

I love bread so much –  it could make up 90% of my diet and I wouldn’t mind.  I am talking about crusty, light and delicious bread.  I learned to make bread from someone back in my days of living in Costa Rica in the early 90’s, out on a surf point.  There was no fresh bread in sight and did I miss it like crazy!

It was no problem back then because I literally had all day long to sit around waiting on my bread to rise and rise again.  Never did I find it to be a difficult process but a timely one indeed.  It has been many years since I decided to make a homemade loaf because my days are no longer filled with countless hours of beach gazing, with nothing else to do.  Rather, my life is jam packed with a husband, two little girls, two big dogs and a busy work schedule.  So how is it that I am going to have the time to start making bread again you ask?  Well, my most wonderful friend, Helen, gifted me the most wonderful bread book – these two,  Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois are geniuses! My family is now indulging in freshly baked breads on an almost daily basis and it couldn’t be easier!  Pizza night has reached a whole new level and my friends are impressed.  You only need a few things….

the book – Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

pizza peel

baking stone

large tupperware container for storing dough in your refrigerator

Here are some tantalizing pictures to help inspire you to take the leap into bread making.  They include so many excellent  recipes – I promise you will be happy you bought it!

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