Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Blueberry Crumb Bars

Like me, you probably have bags of blueberries stashed away in the freezer.  I cannot let the summer go by without making certain that there will be blueberries available all winter long!  ....and yes, I know that summer has only been gone for about four weeks and here I am thinking about blueberries.

There isn't much to say, really, just that they have been a favorite of mine for years.  I don't recall Mom ever having fresh blueberries in the house but she always had blueberry syrup on hand for pancakes.  That always brought a smile....  Times change. Today, I would rather make a blueberry sauce with lots of whole blueberries instead of having a syrup. But, this isn't about pancakes....

Blueberry Crumb Bars are what is up today.  These were a special treat that my oldest prepared on our visit to Seattle.....mmmm...good.  They are not real sweet so if you have a bit of a sweet tooth, you will want to add more sugar.

Blueberry Crumb Bars

Crumb Crust
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1 egg, lightly beaten

5 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and picked over
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp corn starch
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp lemon zest

Preheat oven:  375° F.
Lightly grease a 9 X 13-inch baking dish.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and zest.  Fold in the blueberries. Coat evenly with the sugar mixture and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in the butter.  Next blend in the egg.  The dough will be crumbly.  Press 3/4 of the dough into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

Spread the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust, include all of the juices.  Crumble the remaining dough evenly over the blueberry layer.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the topping is a golden brown.  Cool completely on a rack before cutting into squares.

Leftover bars can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap.

NOTE:  Baking science dictates a bit more salt than the recipe calls for.  The usual ratio of salt and flour is 1/2 teaspoon of salt per cup of flour.  The recipe appears to be a bit light so you may wish to make a slight adjustment.  I will try increasing, just a bit, to 3/4 teaspoon next time.   Salt is a flavor enhancer and we all have a different palette when it comes to salt.  I always go light and ease into it!


This is a light bar that is great for breakfast, tea or dessert.  It is not overly sweet but it is packed with flavor.

I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage as well as Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm and Weekend Bites hosted by Simple Living and Eating.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Grilled Tomatillo Guacamole

Olé!  I found a really tasty guacamole!

I don't usually mess with new guacamole recipes.  Mr. T makes a great one that just doesn't get changed...why mess with greatness? Some things should remain the same....until.....I saw this recipe...

I really enjoy a good green sauce and tomatillos are the key to, when I saw that tomatillos were included in this guacamole, I just had to try it.  It wasn't just the tomatillos....there was grilled white corn included in the recipe.....such sweetness.

Delicious....double delicious.  That is all I have to say.

 Tomatillo Guacamole
adapted from Rick Bayless

2 ears fresh white corn, shucked
1 poblano chile
4 large tomatillos, husk removed
3 avocados, halved, pitted, peeled, roughly chopped
3 Tbsp finely chopped red onion, rinsed
1/4 chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp salt

Grill the corn, chile and tomatillos until charred on all sides.  Place the chile and the tomatillos in a bowl and cover will plastic wrap.   Set the bowl aside for 5-10 minutes.

When the corn is cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the cob and place in a medium bowl. Set aside.  Remove the skins from the chile and the tomatillos.  Cut the chile in half.  Seed it and dice. Dice the tomatillos being certain to capture the juices.   Add the diced chile and tomatillo, with juices, to the bowl.  Add the chopped red onion, cilantro, and salt to the bowl.

Slightly mash the avocados and add to the mixture.  Mix until combined.  Serve with tortilla chips.

¡Muy delicioso!

It would go great with these Chile-Braised Pork Shoulder Tacos or this Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Avocado-Peach Salsa.

I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Avocado-Peach Salsa

I sometimes think that I do not show enough love for "the other white meat" and it is one of my favorites so I should pay homage to it more often, right?  Glad you agree.  That said, I am led to the reason that I am focusing on pork tenderloin....well, it is because it is time for The Secret Recipe Club.

And, when I perused the blog that I was assigned, I noticed that we are both in love with the same men.  What?  Men, you ask?  Yep.  Men....I mean no, not really.  What we share is a love for the recipes of two men who are chefs and cookbook authors.  There, that sounds better.

Now why would I think that?  It is because Julie, at White Lights on Wednesday and I both share a love for recipes by Alton Brown and Rick Bayless!  Okay, all silliness aside...let's get serious and do some cooking!

I was so excited when I first perused Julie's blog...oh my goodness, I couldn't focus.  Either I was really hungry and wanted to eat everything I saw, or there are some darn good recipes on her blog. I considered a Wine SmoothieCheddar Shrimp Nachos, Potato Pancakes, or Gingerbread Waffles....need I go on?  I finally got it narrowed down to three items and guess what? I made all three...I couldn't resist.  Julie claims to be a carboholic and a Guinness and bacon loving cook!  She loves to cook but she says she hates doing dishes and therefore is the queen of sink Jenga!  Ha.  I do know that we loved the Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Avocado-Peach Salsa, Rick Bayless recipe, that she shared.

So today, I am singing praises Julie's blog, White Lights on Wednesday, Rick Bayless and pork tenderloin!

It was a great dinner...the pork was nicely flavored, tender and the salsa was delicious.  The only trouble I had was finding peaches....there aren't any this time of year.  Thank goodness I had some stashed in the freezer!

Grilled Pork Tenderloin 
with Avocado-Peach Salsa

1 pork tenderloin (about 2 1/2 pounds)
1 16 oz. jar Arriba! Fire Roasted Mexican Red Salsa
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 red onion cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1/2 cup ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and diced
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 tsp lemon zest
1 firm-ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and diced
Salt to taste

Prepare the tenderloin by removing the silver skin and excess fat. Cut the tenderloin into 3 equal pieces.

Mix together all but 1/4 cup of the salsa, the Worcestershire sauce and the balsamic vinegar.  Place the tenderloin pieces into a large ziplock bag.  Add the marinade mixture.  Turn the pork to coat it with the marinade.  Squeeze out any excess air and seal the bag.  Lay the bag in a pie tin and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Grill the onions and pork over medium heat.  Turn the onions and pork and baste generously with the marinade.  Cook until the onions are browned.  The pork is done when a meat thermometer registers 150° F.  Remove the pork and place on a cutting board, tent with foil.

Chop the onions and place in a bowl.  (I did not use the entire onion.  I only chopped up one of the slices.)  Add the reserved salsa, peaches, parsley, lemon zest and avocado. Toss gently to combine. Season with salt, to taste.  Cut the pork into thin slices and serve with the salsa.


We enjoyed Julie's recipe.  I love different salsa combinations and this was light and fresh.  Next time I might use cilantro instead of parsley just to compare.   Thank you Julie for sharing your wonderful blog with me!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

There is pumpkin still left in the can...oh, Martha what should I do?

What to do?  What to do?  There is pumpkin left in the can.  It is late in the evening and there is still pumpkin left in the can.  What I really want to do is pour a glass of wine and put my feet up...but there is still pumpkin left in the can....

I don't know that I have ever baked at night.  There is a reason...I am a morning person and baking at night sounds like a mistake waiting to happen.  I am more of a "get it done first thing in the morning" type of person but that can of pumpkin is going to bug me....even if I put it in the refrigerator for tomorrow, it is going to bug me.  I am one who needs a plan....and I just happened to have a great idea.  

The idea:  Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing!  Now that sounds too tasty to resist.  Thank you, Martha. 

This looked like an easy recipe...something I could attack at night and be ahead in the morning!!  But oh, Martha what kind of recipe is this?  Yes, the dough was soft and you did say to pipe it onto the cookie sheet leaving at least an inch of space between each cookie and, I did use a scoop....but this soft?  

What in the world happened?  Of course, it is the self fulfilling prophecy!  I knew better than to bake at night....  Well, it had to be me because folks have great things to say about these cookies. Rereading the recipe sounded like a good place to start.  As I glanced at the recipe I just happened to notice a bowl of flour sitting on the counter right next to the mixer...yep, that would be it.....flour works best if it is in the mixing bowl and not sitting beside it.

Well, I do have perseverance....and it is a good thing....

Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing

Yield:  about 4 dozen
Preheat oven:  375° F.

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 1/4 sticks (10 Tbsp) unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp evaporated milk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix together butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Mix in eggs.  Reduce the speed to low and add the pumpkin, evaporated milk and vanilla; mix until blended, about 2 minutes.  Add the flour mixture and mix until combined.

Using a cookie scoop (1 1/2-inches in diameter) scoop balls of batter and place on parchment lined baking sheets, spacing 1 1/2-inch apart.  Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until the tops spring back, 11-13 minutes.  Cool the cookies on the sheets for 5 minutes and then transfer them to racks to cool completely.

Put the confectioners' sugar in a large mixing bowl and set aside.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Cook swirling the pan occasionally, until it turns a golden brown, about 3 minutes.  Immediately add the butter, along with any browned bits, to the confectioners' sugar.  Add the evaporated milk and vanilla stirring until smooth.  Spread about a teaspoon of icing onto each cookie.  More evaporated milk may be added if the icing becomes stiff.


These were the very best little morsels...they were soft and cakey (is that a word?)...and the frosting, oh my goodness, what a wonderful combination.  I used a bit more than a teaspoonful of icing for each was just too good....I sampled it multiple times to make certain!

You will want to make these cookies...they are a good thing!

I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage, Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm and at Weekend Bites at Simple Living and Eating.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Pumpkin Molasses Tea Bread

Oh how I wish it would get cool and stay cool.  I want to make soup....I want to bake...I enjoy curling up in the evening with my book and a glass of wine or just to watch something on TV.  Alas, we are being teased.   It cools down for a few days.  I gear up and the temperature jumps back to three digits. There isn't supposed to be three-digit weather in October.  It is supposed to be cool and crisp outside. I should be able to wear long sleeves.  It is hard to enjoy the season when you don't have one!

Mr. T and I tried to think "fall", we took a trip last week to the apple farms.  We came home with apples and I had visions of pie and applesauce and sauerkraut....I know, that is a weird combination....but apples go in each.  I bought pumpkins for the courtyard, too...guess I was thinking that if I have pumpkins, I will have cool weather...I am still waiting.

Pumpkins made me think of baking and so, that is what I am or not...I am baking...bring on the air conditioning....

I recently came across a compilation of recipes from had a section for fall which I read through a number of times.  The recipe for Pumpkin Molasses Tea Bread stood out as interesting if not odd.  I kept looking at it trying to envision molasses and pumpkin together.  Finally, I decided to give it a try.

I am not going to say that it is my favorite pumpkin bread recipe because it is not.  And, just as I thought, the molasses dominates.  It isn't a bad thing unless you really wanted to taste pumpkin.  It is a moist bread and one you can enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea.  The nuts and the cranberries in the recipe are very nice....  I think you will have to be the judge....

Pumpkin Molasses Tea Bread
adapted from Martha Stewart Living Annual Recipes, 2002

Yield:  1 nine-inch loaf pan

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, at room temperature and slightly beaten
1 cup canned Pumpkin Purée. (not pie mix)
2 Tbsp apple juice
1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried cranberries
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup honey
1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven:  350° F.
Butter and flour a 5 X 9 inch loaf pan.  Set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.

In a mixer bowl, using a paddle attachment, beat the molasses, sugar, oil, eggs, pumpkin, and apple juice.  Set the mixer to slow and add the flour mixture, mix until combined.  Fold in the walnuts and the cranberries.

Pour into the prepared loaf pan,  The bread is done when the tester comes our clean, about one hour. Remove from the oven.  Let the bread rest for 10 minutes.  Turn the bread out on a wire rack to cool completely.

In the mixer, prepare the frosting by combining the cream cheese, powdered sugar and honey.  Beat until smooth and well combined.  Spread the frosting on the bread when it is completely cool.


Fall is my very favorite time of year.  I love the colors, the crisp air, and the relief I feel when the heat is gone...I love the foods that ripen in the games with sweaters and the chill in the air.  I have loved this season since I was a child. Maybe it is because my birthday is in the fall and I was always filled with the anticipation of being another year older.  That isn't the case right now....
I think I will stick with loving it for the other reasons!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Cranberry Orange Yogurt Bread

You are right....I skipped over pumpkin and went directly to cranberries!  Not that I don't love pumpkin, but because I was trying to create space in the freezer and because I had been wanting to make an orange cranberry bread.  For me it is nostalgic.  I was sorting through the recipe box....yes, I still have one of those....and I came across a recipe in my aunt's handwriting.  Upon a second look, I saw that it was her Cranberry Nut Bread.  What memories...  I had considered using her recipe but I had also just gotten some Boyajian Pure Citrus Oils, as recommended by Susan Bradley at The Luna Cafe, and I wanted to try out the Orange Oil and her recipe.  I also had some yogurt in the frig that needed to become early dose of cranberries it is, along with Susan's recipe that I had been saving.

You might want to try the citrus oils....I used the Orange Oil in the bread.  It is much more intense than orange extract, a lot is not needed. But, talk about a flavor booster, this is it!!  The bread was delicious....moist with a great orange flavor...just what I was hoping for.

Along the way I learned to pay strict attention to the dimensions of the loaf pan.  I actually have three different sizes lurking in the cupboard and the one I selected was a little larger than the recommended.  I realized along the way that I would need to adjust the baking time...thank goodness I was paying attention.

Cranberry Orange Yogurt Bread
adapted from The Luna Cafe

Yield:  1 loaf
Preheat oven:  350° F., place rack in the middle

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt (fine)
3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 tsp Boyajian Pure Orange Oil (or 1 tsp orange extract)
2-3 Tbsp orange zest (about 1 large orange, finely grated)
1 cup fresh cranberries (cut each in half)
1 cup lightly toasted pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped

Grease a loaf pan (8½ x 4½ x 2½-inch  -  6-cup capacity) with butter and sprinkle a light layer of flour, tap out any excess flour.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

Whisk together the yogurt and orange in a small bowl and set aside.

Fit a paddle attachment to your mixer.  Cream the butter and sugar until pale and creamy, 3-5 minutes.

Add the eggs, beating until incorporated.  Add the orange zest and orange oil.  Mix to incorporate.

Using the slowest speed, add the flour mixture alternating with the yogurt and orange juice mixture. (The last addition should be the flour mixture.)  Do not over mix.  Finish incorporating by folding in the ingredients by hand with a large spatula.

Gently fold in the cranberries and pecans until well combined.  (Over mixing will cause the bread to not be tender.)

Immediately pour the batter into the prepared pan.  It should be no more than ¾ full.  Level the top of the bread with a spatula.  Bake for 55-65 minutes.  (Bread baked in a smaller pan will require less time.)  Susan recommends using a thin instant-read thermometer to check for doneness 180° F. as the usual wooden skewer will come out sticky at this temperature.

I used both methods.  As I mentioned my pan was a little larger so I was worrying thermometer never reached 180° and the wooden skewer came out maybe worrying it is the key!  Maybe my thermometer has gotten "old"!

Allow the bread to rest for ten minutes once removed from the oven.  After ten minutes turn the bread out onto a wire rack to cool.


We enjoyed a slice of bread with our coffee in the was really tasty.  I think it will find its way to Thanksgiving breakfast, too.

You will definitely want to visit Susan's blog.  Not only does she post some amazing recipes, she also posts great information.  For the fall you can find an apple primer as well as an apple cider primer. Whatever the season, The Luna Cafe is a great read!

I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage, Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm and Weekend Bites at Simple Living and Eating.