Skillet Pears With An Autumn Spiced Caramel Sauce

Skillet Pears With An Autumn Spiced Caramel Sauce 9

Skillet Pears With An Autumn Spiced Caramel Sauce

Every year, I look forward to this season. Fall and I are good friends. It allows me to breathe like a relatively normal person and I…well, other than gush its praises, I’m not sure what I do for it, but we’re BFF’s nonetheless. I THINK *I say this with fingers crossed and a furtive prayer that I’m not proved wrong* that Summer is finally over here in Kentucky. And that, my friends, makes me oh so happy. We live on ten acres of land and my asthma makes outdoor time difficult for me in the Summer. So, I stay inside and look longingly at our woods and imagine myself sitting in the front yard, under our at least one hundred year old maple tree with a book. Now, I can go outside and see what my Fig tree is doing, see if the pecan tree has grown at all and just go into the woods and breathe deep. There is nothing like the scents in the woods during Autumn.

I also love the foods of Autumn, in case you’ve missed that in the last five and a half years 😛 One that I feel doesn’t get enough Autumn love is pears. They are wonderful most of the year, but right now, they lean more towards fantastic. So when I saw the base for this recipe in a C.I. cookbook, I had to make it. BUT… and here is where it is no surprise because I have said these words about 900 times in the last years, I had to change it up. I wanted it to have more of a Fall-ish (yes, that is now a word. I said so.) flavor. Plus, I like a bit of butter in my caramel which theirs didn’t have. So, what did I do? Besides adding butter, I added some warm Autumn spices and some orange zest to the caramel. Those changes, plus some vanilla extract, took this from good but ordinary to outstanding. The tender pears covered in caramel, that is itself sweet, creamy and with the subtle flavors of Fall, was wonderful. I added a scoop of vanilla ice cream to the it, because ice cream, and it took this completely over the top.

Don’t be nervous over the idea of caramel sauce. This one is quite easy and the whole dish takes just one pan.

You know the drill… get to cooking! <3

Skillet Pears With An Autumn Spiced Caramel Sauce

  • 3 ripe (but not mushy) pears. I used Barlett because it’s a wonderful all around pear.
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest (you could sub about 1/2 teaspoon orange extract, in which case add it in at the same time you add the vanilla)
  1. Slice and core the three pears and set aside. In a large skillet (I used my cast iron. Just cooking in it feels rustic and Autumnish), pour the water. Add the sugar to the middle of the pan. Gently stir to make sure all of the sugar is wet, then turn the heat to medium high. Add in the vanilla extract, spices and salt and give it another gentle stir.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then lower the heat to medium and cook until all the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbling.
  3. Add the pears, cut side down, to the bubbling sugar (be careful not to splatter on yourself!) and cook until the pears are fork tender, about 15 minutes.
  4. While it cooks, add the butter and orange zest (if using instead of orange extract) to the heavy cream and microwave for about 90 seconds or just until barely hot to the touch.
  5. When the pears are tender, slowly pour the cream around the pears. Give the pan a gentle shake to help mix it and continue to cook until the sauce is a light golden brown color, about five minutes.
  6. Then, you can either serve the pears straight from the pan (which is what I did. I just moved some to a smaller pan for the photo, lol) or transfer them to individual plates and serve with sauce puddled around them. No matter how you serve them, sprinkle with a touch of cinnamon and grate some extra orange zest over the top.

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

Skillet Pears With An Autumn Spiced Caramel Sauce

Skillet Pears With An Autumn Spiced Caramel Sauce

 

Save

Save

Lemon Poppyseed Gooey Butter Bars

Lemon Poppy Seed Gooey Butter Bars

Lemon Poppy Seed Gooey Butter Bars

It was 80 some degrees out yesterday. I turned the oven on ANYWAY. I need to be committed. During the time that these bars baked, the temp in the house went up to approximately 426 degrees. No, really. Would I lie? Next week, it is supposed to get down to the high 70’s during the day and the low 60’s at night. I can’t EVEN begin to explain my excitement over possibly being able to open the windows and sleep at night with real air, not recycled. Think prepubescent girl going to see her favorite boy band type of excited. Then double it.

These bars made the melting of all my skin layers worth it though. I have a major love for shortbread crusts on cookies ANYWAY (for whatever odd reason, they make me think of Christmas. Don’t ask. I dunno.), and the crust on these bars is sooo buttery, so crispy/crumbly, just the way a good shortbread should be. Add on a gooey, creamy topping filled with the flavors of lemon and butter, with the crunch of poppyseeds and I was in Heaven. Warning though; you notice the slightly grayish cast my bars have? I think I let my poppyseed love go a bit too far. These still taste fantastic which is why I’m posting them anyway, rather than remake them to have a better color for a photo, but yeah… a bit gray. So, in the directions, I am cutting them down a tablespoon. Feel free to add back in another tablespoon if you don’t mind the color.

You know the drill…

Lemon Poppyseed Gooey Butter Bars

  • Crust-
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • Topping-
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon oil
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with foil, then butter the foil or spray with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the crust ingredients. Beat on low speed with a hand mixer until it holds together and resembles coarse crumbs. Dump this into the prepared pan and press all over the bottom of the pan.
  3. Bake crust at 350 for about 10 to 12 minutes, until it is a light golden brown.
  4. For the topping, in a small bowl, stir together the lemon juice, corn syrup, lemon zest, vanilla and lemon oil.
  5. In another small bowl, whisk together the flour and the poppy seeds.
  6. In a larger bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until well blended and creamy. Add in the egg and again beat until well combined.
  7. Add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mix, alternating with the lemon juice/corn syrup mixture. Beat until well mixed after each addition.
  8. Spread the mixture over the crust, smoothing the top. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. The top will be a light brown and the center will still have a very VERY slight jiggle. It will all firm up as it cools. You don’t want to overbake these as you’ll lose the whole gooey texture. They’ll still taste great, but they will be much firmer.
  9. When done, let cool in the pan until completely cool, then sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into small squares. You can store these at room temp if you know they will be gone within a day or two. Any longer than that, and I’d suggest the fridge for storage.

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

Lemon Poppyseed Gooey Butter Bars

Lemon Poppyseed Gooey Butter Bars

Save

Review of the Upscale Burger Restaurant BurgerFi

A couple of months ago, I had the pleasure, as a local food blogger, of going and reviewing a relatively new to the area burger joint called BurgerFi. BurgerFi prides themselves on NOT being your typical fast food place. One of their ways of getting you in the door is letting you know that they use all natural, no hormones, no antibiotics Angus beef. While I admit that I’m not generally the type who stresses over those things, it was still nice to know and should make many of you happy. BurgerFi also makes a point of being as eco-friendly as they can in each store by doing things such as using recycled materials for chairs and tables and keeps a strict recycling rule for their own trash. Now THAT I do think about and love. Thing is, going in there, knowing this ahead of time, I was expecting a place that was austere and rather boring. But it’s anything but-
BurgerFi 1 The restaurant was clean, well lit, and had a funky warehouse/sporty feel to it that my husband and I rather enjoyed. They (I am assuming all the branches do this based on what teams/colleges are nearby) have it decorated with a sports theme based on the most popular local college, UK. The restaurant has a beer and wine license which makes it nice for the grown up crowd. If you don’t want pop with your burger, you can choose between local craft or national beers or a nice variety of wines.

BurgerFi4If you DO want pop however (we did; it was lunchtime and we’re neither one big drinkers), they have one of those totally cool state of the art (the manager joked that it cost more than many people’s homes, and I believe it!) pop machines that lets you add about 862 bazillion different flavor combos to your drink. I had gotten a bottle of Birch beer (somewhat like root beer; reminded me of those root beer barrel candies everyone had at some point in their childhood) and kind of regretted it, because I’d have loved to play with the pop machine. Yes, I really AM 10 years old inside 😛

Now to the important part; the food. 😀 I was asked to try their newest burger, The CEO, which is described on the menu like this- “Double Wagyu + Brisket Blend Burger, Homemade Candied Bacon-Tomato Jam, Trufle Aioli, Aged Swiss Cheese”. CEO Burger My guest (my husband) was given free reign of the menu and he got their Bacon Cheeseburger-“Double Bacon, Double Natural Angus Beef, American Cheese”.Bacon Cheeseburger He got it with pickles and grilled onions. I got fries Fries and he got onion rings Onion Rings so we could try both. When you get a burger (the menu also has Kobe Beef hot dogs, which I want to get back there and try at some point!), you order the specific one, which comes plain unless you choose from the variety of toppings they boast of, those being- Raw Onions   |   Grilled Onions   |   Pickles   |   BBQ Sauce  |   Bacon   |   Onion Ring   |   Grilled Mushrooms   |   Fried Egg   |   Chili  |   Garlic Aioli   |  Jalapeños   |   Relish. You could buy the same burger many times and yet end up with a completely different finished product just by choosing different toppings. I can’t wait to go back and get a burger with about 90% of those toppings, lol.

I absolutely loved my meal. The meat was juicy, even though it is one of the thin “smashed” style patties, and the burger itself was more than enough for a meal (I took half home). I loved the toppings on The CEO. You could taste the bacon jam as well as the truffle aioli, and combined with the rest of the toppings, it made for one delicious, if somewhat messy (in a good way) burger. The fries were extra crispy (I have no idea if that is typical or they just happened to have cooked them longer), which is how I like them, and salted perfectly, though my husband and I agreed that most people (including him) would prefer them a little less crispy. Russ really enjoyed his own burger. He, however, did NOT take any home. That bad boy was gone before I finished half of mine. He liked the onion rings but said they could have stood to be cooked a TOUCH longer because the onions weren’t as soft as he would have liked. BurgerFi 6

The staff at the restaurant was wonderful. There was a bit of a mix up when we first got there that embarrassed the poo out of me. The manager on duty had absolutely NO idea who I was, because the manager who arranged this had gone on vacation and neglected to let anyone know that I was coming in that day. Talk about red faced! But it got straightened out and from that point on, they took wonderful care of us.

The menu is pretty varied, with burgers, dogs, drinks, plus they have frozen custard “concretes”  for a tasty dessert as well as the same frozen custard in a cup with toppings  (I was far too full to even contemplate that, though they offered). Beyond “regular” burgers, they have a yummy looking veggie burger and what I was told is one of their most popular burgers, the “Conflicted Burger”, which is one regular patty and one veggie patty.

Will I go there again when I get to the “big city” 😛 ? Darn straight I will. They are a bit more expensive then your run of the mill fast food place, but completely worth it. I’d give them a solid 8.5 stars out of ten.  One last photo. I love this one. My husband Russ, the manager and a couple of photo bombers in the background, lol

BurgerFi 5

Oh! Important point in my mind, one that many women will appreciate. The bathrooms? Clean as could be. I loved that aspect!!

Save

Save

Baklava Cake

Baklava Cake

Baklava Cake

Back when I was in my late teens and early 20’s, yogurt was NOT the big money product it is now. It was just eaten by the earth mother types and hippies and people tended to look at you like you were crazy to be eating this runny soured stuff. I, of course, though neither an earth mother nor a hippie (a fact that I always mourned. Had I been born about 10 years earlier, I would totally have been a stupid teen at Woodstock or living near Haight Ashbury), loved yogurt. Not plain; I thought it was nasty. But give me a cherry Yoplait and I was in heaven. I recall my older sister warning my then husband to watch out for me or I’d exist solely on yogurt and granola bars. Yeah, my pattern of poor eating choices goes WAY back.

Now however, you can get so many different styles and/or flavors of yogurt that it boggles the mind. We always have at least a full shelf of yogurt here at our house and besides eating it as is (still no plain though; ick!), I love to use it in cooking. Regular style yogurt, Greek, plain, flavored, you name it, I’ll find a way to incorporate it into baking. Well, this time, I took a recipe I had had forever for a yogurt cake and messed with it. Because…me. This originally came from what used to be recipezaar  and was a fair bit different. It had a syrup that was poured on it, which made me think of Baklava, one of my favorite desserts.  So I flavored the syrup to taste more like the one that gets poured over baklava and added more spice to the cake itself, as well as using a lemon yogurt in it to give another added layer of flavor.

This is a wonderfully moist cake. The syrups soaks in, flavoring it all and the cake itself has a wonderful taste, spiced and a bit lemony with a background hint of almond and vanilla. I served this with a simple vanilla yogurt I flavored. This isn’t the worlds prettiest cake, but it’s completely delicious. This is great for family, for a church potluck or a picnic, a family reunion. It would also be fantastic late at night with a glass of dry red wine. Is this exactly like Baklava? Of course not. There’s no phyllo, not a ton of chopped nuts, etc. But it reminds me of it, thus the name.

You know the drill… 🙂

Baklava Cake

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temp (2 sticks)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 3/4 teaspoon lemon oil (you can sub lemon extract, but you know how I feel about that stuff. Just break down and buy some lemon oil)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1/4 cup brandy or whiskey
  • 1 cup lemon Greek yogurt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup sliced toasted almonds, divided
  • Syrup-
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • zest from two lemons, in strips
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • Yogurt topping-
  • 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (it’s a bit too tart without it)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter or oil a 13×9 inch baking pan.Then start your syrup so that it has time to cool- Simply combine all the syrup ingredients in a medium pot, stir to dissolve the sugar somewhat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and let it gently boil for about 15 minutes. it will reduce some and thicken up, though it’s not very thick even then. When that’s done, set it off the heat to cool.
  2. For the cake- in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with a hand mixer until smooth and creamy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the egg yolks, the extracts and the brandy. Beat on low speed until well combined.
  3. In a clean (preferably glass) bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set to the side for now.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and soda, salt and spices. Add it to the butter mixture, alternating with the yogurt (flour, yogurt, flour, yogurt, flour), beating well after each addition.
  5. Gently fold in the egg whites and half the toasted almonds, then spread the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Bake at 350 for 45 to 60 minutes or until a skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. When done, immediately (and carefully) pour the cooled syrup over the cake, letting it soak in as you pour. If you don’t want to use it all, it stores in the fridge well and is wonderful used in a cup of tea. Once the syrup has been poured on, sprinkle the top of the cake with the rest of the almonds.
  7. Let it cool completely and serve with a dollop of the yogurt topping, which you make by simply combining the topping ingredients in a small bowl; easy peasy.

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

 

Save

Save

Simple Lemon Meringue Pie Parfaits

Lemon Meringue Pie Parfaits

Lemon Meringue Pie Parfaits

Pssst. Remember me? I’ve been gone for a bit, but I’m back. I more or less took the Summer off because let’s be honest, you and I… who the heck wants to turn the oven on and do something like bake a loaf of bread, or make cookies or cupcakes, or things like that, when it’s 90 degrees outside? With my being primarily a baking blog, it made more sense to just rehash some delicious old stuff on my facebook page and wait out the heat. BUT… I couldn’t wait anymore. I missed all of you!! But I still can’t bring myself to turn on the oven, because Summer won’t take the %$#$%$%@ hint and go away. It’s 87 degrees outside as I type and our ancient, senile AC is whimpering trying to keep the house cool.

So, since I just HAD to come back (did I mention that I missed all of you!?), I played around with a nice cool, refreshing type of dessert. It uses mascarpone cheese and lemon curd as well as cream; three of my favorite ingredients. Add in a touch each of vanilla extract and lemon oil along with some crushed meringue cookies and there you have it (I also used some raspberries in here just because I wanted some color, but we’ll call that optional, if only because my brother has accused me of not being able to make a recipe with less than 12 ingredients :-P. This is so easy you could have your kids make it for a treat. It’s cool and refreshing, but don’t just relegate this to the hot months. I plan on enjoying this one this Winter, too. I made this in small glasses glasses, but you could also do these in tiny “shooter” glasses.

You know the drill… get to cookin’!

Simple Lemon Meringue Pie Parfaits

  • 8 ounce container of mascarpone cheese, room temp
  • 2/3 cup good quality lemon curd (I used Trader Joes brand; it’s the closest to homemade I’ve found)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped to firm peaks
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon oil or lemon extract
  • 1 container vanilla meringue cookies (I can’t say ounces, because they vary. Plan on using about 20 cookies)
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries (optional)
  1. In a small bowl, fold together the mascarpone, lemon curd and extracts until no streaks of white remain
  2. Carefully fold in the whipped cream; again until no streaks of white remain.
  3. Cover bowl and chill for about an hour.
  4. In small glasses, layer the lemon mixture, then a layer of coarsely crushed meringue cookies, then about 3 raspberries if you’re using them. Repeat the layers until you reach the top of the glass (small glasses will be about 2 layers).
  5. Chill until ready to serve. Garnish with a layer of crushed meringue cookie and a raspberry or two.  Also, if you want the cookie to be a crisp layer, serve immediately after assembling, because they will soften up as these chill.

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

Lemon Meringue Pie Parfaits

Lemon Meringue Pie Parfaits

 

Save

Red, White & Blue Grilled Chicken Salad With Lemon Poppyseed Dressing

Red, White & Blue Grilled Chicken Salad With Lemon Poppyseed Dressing

Red, White & Blue Grilled Chicken Salad With Lemon Poppyseed Dressing

For many years now (we won’t discuss how many, thank you very much), I have loved watching the Summer Games when they air every 4 years. When I was young, I would sit and watch the swimmers and the gymnasts with my mom, telling her that someday I totally WOULD be doing that. While it made for great family time with my mom (something I have continued with my kids), it didn’t quite turn out how I had hoped. When it came to being a gymnast, I was too tall by the time I was ten. There are no 5’8” gymnasts. As for swimming, I can honestly say that if they ever create a category called “Floating In The Pool While Dozing And Getting Sunburned”, I’m the gal who will win the gold. Until then, not so much.

The athletes at both the Summer and Winter Games amaze me. The total dedication to their sport, the passion to succeed. I can be that passionate over a pint of ice cream, but to work as hard as they do to be the best? Again; they amaze me and have my undying admiration, especially these tiny little girl gymnasts who are so strong, so creative and so wonderful at what they do. I could never be one of the judges. I’d want to give everyone gold, then feed them all cookies and milk and tuck them in for a good nights sleep.

The thing is, we all live our lives the best we can, and while this may not be as exciting as competing in the games in Rio this year, it can be so medal worthy regardless. Admittedly, some days, you’re lucky to get a bronze, but life is about so much more than the gold, don’t you agree? For me, it’s finding my favorite flavor of ice cream on sale, it’s getting to the satisfying ending of a book I’ve loved and knowing that everyone lived more or less happily ever after, it’s time spent with family, enjoying the Summer games together and listening to my youngest son tell me that someday he will be a gymnast (he is already too tall. I’ll let him figure it out for himself) or a swimmer (we just got him out of the safety vest. Let’s NOT scare the momma), it’s listening to the wind rustle through the trees as I lie in the pool dozing, it’s creating a recipe that I know my family loves. Those are MY moments of gold and I’m honored to have been able to share them with you. What are yours?

Red, White & Blue Grilled Chicken Salad With Lemon Poppyseed Dressing 5

Meijer asked me to create a recipe for their More Than A Medal campaign. I knew I wanted to create a recipe that I thought any athlete of the games in Rio or aspiring athlete would love and also could eat with no guilt. I have to admit, this salad fits both criteria. It’s completely delicious. The chicken is moist and tender with a crispy outside and a tiny bite from the pepper. Mix that with the juicy berries and peaches, the crunchy greens and the creamy lemon poppyseed dressing and you have a definite gold medal winner here. All with no guilt. This is a perfect Summer entree for two that is easily doubled or more to feed extra hungry mouths. I hope you all love it as much as we did!!

Red, White & Blue Grilled Chicken Salad With Lemon Poppyseed Dressing

  • Lemon poppyseed dressing-
  • 1 6 ounce container Chobani non fat plain yogurt
  • 1/2 mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup good quality honey
  • 2 tablespoons Minute Maid lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (optional, but recommended)
  • 1/2 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Chicken-
  • 1 large Meijer True Goodness Boneless, Skinless chicken breast (about 8 to 10 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt free onion/herb seasoning blend
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • salt to taste (be careful with this if your lemon pepper is salted)
  • 1/2 to one full bag salad greens of choice
  • Fruit Mixture-
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh blackberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 small ripe white peach, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 3 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  1.  Make your dressing- In a small bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients. Whisk well to combine. Taste for seasoning. When ready, pour into a covered container (a mason jar works wonderfully) and store in the refrigerator for at least an hour to combine the flavors.
  2. About half an hour before you start the chicken, you need to get the berries ready. These couldn’t be easier. In a small bowl, combine the white balsamic vinegar and the sugar and honey and give it a quick whisk. Spoon the berries and peach chunks in with the vinegar mixture and toss gently to coat the fruit. Set it in the fridge until you make the salad, making sure to give it a good stir just before you add it to the salad.
  3. When ready to grill, preheat your grill to medium high if using an electric or propane grill. This can also be done easily inside using a grill pan. Pat the chicken breast dry. Coat with the vegetable oil on both sides. Sprinkle half the seasonings on one side of the breast and press it gently into the surface of the meat. Repeat on the other side.
  4. When the grill and the chicken are ready, place the chicken in the pan (or on the grill) and cook on one side until golden brown. Flip carefully to the other side using tongs and continue to cook, turning as needed, until the internal temp of the chicken breast is 165°f. Remove the chicken to a plate and let rest for about 5 minutes.
  5. While it rests, divide your salad greens between two plates. Slice your chicken breast on the bias and place half on each plate. Give your fruit a stir and divide it between the two plates. Whisk the lemon poppyseed dressing one last time and drizzle it over the greens, chicken and fruit. Serve.

Red, White & Blue Grilled Chicken Salad With Lemon Poppyseed Dressing 1

Disclosure- I was compensated by Meijer for this post. All contents within are original and developed by myself.

 

Save

Quick & Easy Refrigerator Pickles

Quick & Easy Refrigerator Pickles

Quick & Easy Refrigerator Pickles

Last post I wrote, I mentioned that we had recently gone for a two day visit to my son and daughter in law in Tennessee. Beyond the fact that they made us sleep in the worlds most uncomfortable bed and I think my body was wrecked for life because of it, there was at least the consolation of good food 😛 I did teach the boy to cook, after all. Okay, so I stink at teaching anyone to cook because I hate when anyone hovers. He learned by watching and learning to appreciate food. Yeah, that’s the ticket. 😀

One of the things he made was some refrigerator pickles. I love to can, but have never made pickles because they seem to be too much trouble, plus I’ve heard horror stories about home canning them. For some odd reason, it never occurred to me to try refrigerator pickles. But, he had made them and I tried them out of politeness. And loved them. Usually, I’m really picky when it comes to pickles; bread and butter ones are about it and then, not very often. After looking at the recipe however, these seemed so easy, so foolproof, that I wanted to give them a try.

While keeping the brine basically the same, I DID change it up enough to make it my own and the great thing about this recipe is that you can do the same. I wanted them to be a touch sweeter, plus I added some sliced onions to the jars to give them a touch more flavor. I threw some hot pepper flakes in one of the jars to give them a kick and I think those are my favorites. Sweet, vinegary, spicy, perfect for just grabbing from the jar for a quick bite. A couple of my cucumbers had gotten mushy, so I only got 3 and a half pints out of this. With the full 2 lbs of cucumbers, plan on a full four pints. These will keep for weeks in the fridge, but I promise, they won’t last that long. These would also make great hostess gifts or if you can find some decent cukes in the Winter, good Christmas gifts.
You know the drill… 🙂

I am posting this how I made them, but feel free to change up the spices, add in some sliced zucchini or whatever veggie you’d like (cauliflower, maybe?), add some hot peppers, more of a favorite spice, some dill… you get the idea. Make these YOUR pickles. Just keep the basic brine the same with respect to vinegar, water and sugar. The brine is simple to make if you need more brine.

Quick & Easy Refrigerator Pickles

  • 2 lbs firm, small cucumbers (I used a 2 lb bag of small “salad cucumbers” from WalMart), thinly sliced (do that how it makes you happy. I did chips, but you could use a mandolin to slice long ways for sandwich slices.)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced onion
  • 1 cup vinegar (I used cider- use white if you want a sharper flavor)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2/3 cup sugar (plain white sugar) (if you want a pickle that is less sweet, you can make it 1/2 a cup instead)
  • 1 tablespoon pickling spices (in the spice section of the grocery store; or with the canning supplies)
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (If you don’t want to put it in the whole batch, just sprinkle some in the jar you want spiced up after you add the brine)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  1. Get out four pint jars and scrub them thoroughly with soap and hot water. Dry them and then pack each one tightly with the cucumber slices and onion, or whatever veggies you’re using.
  2. In a medium pot, combine the rest of the ingredients (remember, hold off on the red pepper flakes if you don’t want the full batch to be spicy). Stir, then bring to a full rolling boil.
  3. Carefully pour the brine over the contents of each jar (remember, you can easily boil up some more brine if that isn’t enough), filling to near the top of the jar, trying to make sure the veggies are covered. Cap the jars with clean lids and bands, let cool, then refrigerate for at least 24 hours to let the flavors develop. I went into the fridge and gently shook mine up a few times just to make sure the top veggies were getting brined too.
  4. Eat. Enjoy. Serve plain, on burgers or sandwiches, use in potato salad, etc etc.
Quick & Easy Refrigerator Pickles

Quick & Easy Refrigerator Pickles

Save

Nectarine And Three Berry Crisp

Nectarine And Three Berry Crisp

Nectarine And Three Berry Crisp

The guys and I went to visit my second oldest son Cameron and his wife Tiffany last week. They live in Tennessee with a mountain view and it’s so darn pretty it will make your eyeballs bleed.  No, I’m not sure why your eyeballs would bleed. Don’t pressure me for logic here. I have a headache.

But…while we were there, Cam made a yummy dinner one night of a smoked brisket and some homemade refrigerator pickles (recipe coming soon, since I swiped it from him). For dessert that night, we had a Smores Pie my daughter in law made (also recipe coming soon. it was SO good!) and I also whipped up a three berry and nectarine crisp. I made one similar to this last Summer, but this one was much better, I have to say. It wasn’t as sweet, I’ve perfected my streusel since then (If I do say so myself) and I omitted the lime cream I served with that one and we had it with ice cream. So, so delicious and seasonal. This also doesn’t use as many nectarines, but instead I upped the berries.

If you don’t like nectarines, go ahead and use peaches. I prefer nectarines myself because they aren’t fuzzy, making it unnecessary to peel the fruit (thus saving time and also adding a bit of fiber to the crisp), plus they tend to be sweeter and juicier. But you do you.

You know the drill…. at least you SHOULD know it after five years of hearing me say it. Get to cooking! 😀

Nectarine And Three Berry Crisp

 

  • Streusel-
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, refrigerator cold and sliced thin
  • Fruit filling-
  • 3 ripe nectarines, cut into bite sized chunks
  • 1 6 ounce carton fresh blackberries
  • 1 6 ounce carton fresh raspberries
  • 1 dry pint fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 cup – 2/3 cup sugar (if the fruit is nice and sweet, go for the lower amount)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 3 quart baking dish; preferably a glass one, as metal pans can react with the fruits and leave the filling with a grayish tinge, plus metal with fruit can have an off flavor.
  2. Make your filling- In a large bowl, combine all the filling ingredients except the vanilla. Stir thoroughly but gentle so as to not mash the berries. Sprinkle the vanilla over the top and carefully stir it in. Pour the filling into the prepared pan and make the streusel
  3. In a medium bowl, combine all the dry ingredients for the streusel. Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the dry ingredients. Get it barely cut in, then it’s easier if you use your fingers to finish. Just grab the streusel and kind of rub it between your fingers and thumb to help combine the ingredients. You want to end up with pieces ranging from pea sized to quarter sized.
  4. Note- do NOT use warm butter. The butter has to be cold for streusel to work. Otherwise, it all melts when baked rather than ending up as nice crunchy chunks.
  5. Sprinkle the streusel over the top of the crisp. If you don’t want to use it all (but why not?), just freeze what you don’t use.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees until the top is golden brown and the fruit filling is thickened and bubbly, about 35 to 45 minutes.
  7. Serve warm, preferably with a big old scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!

Nectarine And Three Berry Crisp 1

 

 

Mile High Lemon Milano No Bake Cheesecake

Mile High Lemon Milano No Bake Cheesecake

Mile High Lemon Milano No Bake Cheesecake


No more rain!!!! I have now 8 children and 72 cats lost in the grass that we can’t cut because it’s too wet! And I don’t HAVE that many kids or cats here at any other time. The grass is starting to look like something out of a Stephen King novel. At night, I see eerie glowing eyes out there and I’m pretty sure I heard a satanic voice calling to me. Of course, I hear that same voice telling me to eat entire pints of ice cream, so that may have been my imagination. Plus, it’s Summer vacation now and my seven year old is home and it’s difficult to tell him to go out and play if 1) I’m afraid of him joining the eerie crowd, and 2) what can he do outside other than get wet and covered in ticks. The ticks are LOVING this weather. We can’t cut down their hiding places and every time the boys go out, we have to do a tick check when they come back in.

On topic, I have long had a steamy love affair with Milano cookies. Don’t leave me in the same state room with the chocolate orange ones them or I’ll finish them off before Cookie Monster can say “back away from the cookies!” I saw a recipe for cookies and cream cheesecake. It was the typical Oreo cookie type, which is of course wonderful, but I wanted something more Summery, more refreshing and bright. What better for that then lemon, right? So I grabbed some Lemon Milanos (gosh, I love those things!) and using that recipe as my inspiration, came up with this one. I used a store bought graham cracker crust because lazy is my hobby, but feel free to make a homemade one. This cheesecake is simple as can be, slightly tart and refreshing and has a mild crunch from the cookie pieces in it and on top. It’s nice and creamy but not overwhelmingly rich and man, does it fill a pie crust! On a side note,  I would imagine you could use any flavor of Milanos you want in this; just omit the lemon zest if it doesn’t go with the flavors.

You know the drill…. 😛

Mile High Lemon Milano No Bake Cheesecake

  • 1 9 inch graham cracker or cookie crust
  • 2 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 8 oz packages cream cheese, room temp
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon zest
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (cut this down to 1 1/2 if you’re using a different flavor of Milanos)
  • 2 1/2 cups coarsely crushed Lemon Milano cookies, plus more for garnish (buy two bags. You’ll have some left over. Hoard those for yourself 🙂 )
  1. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add in the sugar, vanilla extract, lemon juice and lemon zest.
  2. In another bowl (preferably with the bowl sitting in the kitchen sink, unless you like being splattered to death with cream), on low speed with a hand mixer, beat the cream until slightly thickened, then turn the speed up to high and continue beating until firm peaks form.
  3. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture, then gently fold in the cookie
  4. Spoon the cheesecake mixture into the pie crust and smooth the top. yes, it is very tall and yes, that’s a lot of filling. 😀
  5. Cover the pie lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or up to over night.
  6. When ready to serve, garnish with more crumbled cookies. Cut this into small slices. It IS a tall pie, so you’re getting a lot in a small slice. You should be able to get 12 servings out of this easily.

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

Lemony White Chocolate Blueberry Streusel Muffins

Lemony Blueberry Streusel Muffins

Lemony Blueberry Streusel Muffins

We just got back from church a while ago and I figured I needed to get this written since at this point the muffins are long gone and the photos sitting on my desktop were constantly calling to me saying, “edit me! Edit me!”

Am I the only one who sits in church and while 99% of the mind is listening, the other 1% is totally off on a tangent? Mind you, in my defense, my tangents are pretty much always related to something church-ish (yes, that is now a word because I said so). Today, the gentleman in front of us was singing along and he had a sweet, if somewhat off key voice. The thought popped into my head that when we get to Heaven and our voices are raised praising God, I imagine it will be rather like in church. There won’t be a bunch of people with perfect voices sitting in perfect rows with perfect manners. It will be a mass of voices; the off key, the sweet soprano, the deep bass, the whispering alto and the childish murmurs of the young. I imagine we won’t be sitting on hard benches with politely folded hands; we’ll be shouting and waving our hands in praise as we listen to The Lord speak or shout in awe at the voices of an angelic choir. We’ll be on our feet or on our knees, but we sure won’t be silent. We certainly won’t be boring and worried about Sunday Manners.

I look forward to that in a way I never did when I was going to the quiet Lutheran church I went to as a child. The church we attend now took some getting used to for a lady who was used to quiet services, printed hymns sung in polite unison and above all else, manners, always manners. While I will probably (at least not in this life) never be a person who stands and waves my hands, who sings at the top of my lungs or shouts out “Praise God!”, I take a quiet joy in watching the tiny older lady who sits a few pews in front of us do so. I get choked up when I see the one man who always has his hands raised and a smile on his face that speaks of a elated communion with God. I find it hard to sing without tears as I hear all of these voices raised together in worshipful community and I see the worship leaders looking as though they feel that on that stage, in that moment, is where they want to be above all else. It’s not the songs I grew up with and I admit to being thrilled when we all sang “It Is Well With My Soul” a couple of weeks ago, but nonetheless, I think I have found my place, my home for this lifetime, the people I will watch grow and change over time. I look forward to that too.

Moving onto muffins, if you like the blueberry lemon citrus combo, this should be right up your alley.  Plus, they have streusel! What else does one need in life, right? I need to come up with a recipe for streusel topped streusel to satisfy my streusel addiction. In the meantime, I need to make more of these muffins. They are loaded with fresh blueberries, sweet white chocolate and lemon zest, then topped with buttery, crunchy streusel. These are perfect for breakfast, an afternoon snack or even dessert.

You know the drill…. 🙂

Lemony White Chocolate Blueberry Streusel Muffins

  • Streusel-
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and sliced thin
  • Muffins-
  • 1 cup buttermilk mixed with 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup good quality white chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease 15 muffins cups or line with foil or paper liners.
  2. Make your streusel- In a medium bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until you have pieces that are about pea sized. Set aside
  3. In a small bowl, combine the buttermilk mixture and the oats. Let sit for about ten minutes to soften the oats.
  4. In another small bowl (you have someone to wash the dishes, right?), whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  5. In a large bowl (last bowl, I promise), stir together the melted butter, brown sugar and lemon zest. Dump the oats mixture into that and stir well.  Pour all of the flour mixture in at once and stir JUST until combined.
  6. Gently fold in the blueberries and white chocolate chips.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared muffin cups, filling each cup to near the top. Top each with a heaping tablespoon or so of streusel and gently press down (you’ll have streusel left over. Just put it in a tightly covered container or ziploc bag and freeze it for another time) Bake at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the muffins are golden brown on top and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Gently remove from the muffin cups and let cool on a rack.

Copyright Notice: From Cupcakes To Caviar images and original content are copyright protected. Please do not publish these materials anywhere without prior permission.

Lemony Blueberry Streusel Muffins

Lemony Blueberry Streusel Muffins