Thursday, August 25, 2011

Blueberry Lemon Cake With Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

A few weeks ago we had a lot of blueberries that needed to go into something and Chris suggested a lemon blueberry cake. After looking around for some recipes, I stumbled upon this one at epicurious.

Seriously amazing cake my friends- so moist and the blueberries make the cake. Please try this one.


  • 2 cups plus 6 tablespoons cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 3 cups fresh blueberries (about three 4.4-ounce packages)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs


*I halved the frosting recipe, but added the full amount of lemon zest and vanilla, and still had some leftover.

  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Frosting Preparation

Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. Beat in lemon peel and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until just firm enough to spread, about 30 minutes.

Cake Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter three 9-inch-diameter cake pans (I only had two of these so halved the batter and adjusted the cooking time longer) with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pans with parchment paper; butter paper. Dust pans with flour. Sift cake flour, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Transfer 1 tablespoon flour mixture to large bowl. Add fresh blueberries and toss to coat. Set remaining flour mixture and blueberries aside.

Stir whole milk, vanilla extract, and grated lemon peel in small bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in another large bowl until light and creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in flour mixture alternately with milk mixture in 3 additions each, just until blended. Fold in blueberries. Divide batter equally among pans.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks 10 minutes. Run knife around pan sides to loosen. Turn cakes out onto racks to cool completely. Peel off parchment paper.

Transfer 1 cake layer to platter. Spread 3/4 cup frosting over cake layer. Top with another cake layer; spread with 3/4 cup frosting. Top with third cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. (Cake can be prepared up to 1 day ahead of time. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature before continuing.) Garnish cake with lemon peel strips, if desired, and serve.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Strawberry Avocado Salsa

I saw this on a friend's blog- she had whipped it up for a girl's night- and I knew I had to try it. We had most of the ingredients on hand and our garden is full of cilantro right now so I picked up some strawberries and a jalapeno and set to work.

I even called Chris to tell him to get excited about the salsa but he was skeptical when I said strawberry avocado.

When he got home he tried it though and said, "mmm, this is really good."

It is a great summery salsa. Cooking light recommends making your own cinnamon sugar chips out of whole wheat tortillas but I served ours with some organic tortilla chips from Costco. They are my new favorite tortilla chip.


  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped peeled ripe avocado (about 2)
  • 1 cup finely chopped strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon minced seeded jalapeño pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt

Combine avocado and remaining ingredients; stir gently to combine. Serve with chips.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Skirt Steak Tacos

We have tried this recipe a couple of times now and I love the flavor of the meat. Although you can use this as fajita meat, we have opted to make tacos out of it. I love tacos and could probably eat them for every meal so I get excited to try out new taco recipes.

We use corn tortillas, and garnish the tacos with monterey jack cheese, tomato and avocado.

I have no photo since we are generally too hungry to take pictures by the time we sit down. Enjoy!

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 4 scallions, washed and cut in 1/2
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar or Mexican brown sugar
  • 2 pounds inside skirt steak, cut into 3 equal pieces

In a blender, put in oil, soy sauce, scallions, garlic, lime juice, red pepper, cumin, and sugar and puree. In a large heavy duty, zip top bag, put pieces of skirt steak and pour in marinade. Seal bag, removing as much air as possible. Allow steak to marinate for 1 hour in refrigerator.

Remove steak from bag and pat dry with paper towels. Grill for 1-2 minute per side. When finished cooking, place meat in double thickness of aluminum foil, wrap, and allow to sit for 15 minutes.

Remove meat from foil, reserving foil and juices. Slice thinly across the grain of the meat. Return to foil pouch and toss with juice. Serve with grilled peppers and onions, if desired.

Recipe from Alton Brown via

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie?

These chocolate chip cookies are delicious- meaning Chris and I love them. However, I know that chocolate chip cookie tastes vary widely. So you be the judge- there is something about the toffee flavor from the browned butter that we find amazing. After watching them make these on an episode of America's Test Kitchen I was drawn in. The show is seriously fascinating.

Avoid using a nonstick skillet to brown the butter; the dark color of the nonstick coating makes it difficult to gauge when the butter is browned. Use fresh, moist brown sugar instead of hardened brown sugar, which will make the cookies dry. This recipe works with light brown sugar, but the cookies will be less full-flavored.

  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
  • 3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (we used our favorite ghirardelli bittersweet chips)
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted
  • 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
  • 2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.
  • 3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.
  • 4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)
  • 5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time (this step is critical if you want the cookies to be perfect) until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.
Why this recipe works: Rich and buttery, with their soft cores and crispy edges, chocolate chip cookies are the American cookie-jar standard. Since Nestlé first began printing the recipe for Toll House cookies on the back of chocolate chip bags in 1939, generations of bakers have packed them into lunches and taken them to potlucks. But after a few samples, we wondered if this was really the best that a chocolate chip cookie could be. We wanted to refine this recipe to create a moist and chewy chocolate chip cookie with crisp edges and deep notes of toffee and butterscotch to balance its sweetness—in short, a more sophisticated cookie than the standard bake sale offering.

Melting a generous amount of butter before combining it with other ingredients gave us the chewy texture we wanted. Since we were melting butter, we browned a portion of it to add nutty flavor. Using a bit more brown sugar than white sugar enhanced chewiness, while a combination of one egg and one egg yolk gave us supremely moist cookies. For the crisp edges and deep toffee flavor, we allowed the sugar to dissolve and rest in the melted butter. We baked the cookies until golden brown and just set, but still soft in the center. The resulting cookies were crisp and chewy and gooey with chocolate, and boasted a complex medley of sweet, buttery, caramel, and toffee flavors.

Back in Action: Spaghetti al Limone

I am rededicating myself to posting on the blog, now that we are once again settled in a new place and I am cooking meals again. I invite all you other contributors to do the same!

I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and it sounded so light and delicious- a perfect springtime dish. It did make me miss our lemon tree but it was the perfect dish to put some fresh arugula from our organic garden in. Since I used arugula instead of basil, I definitely recommend the arugula with the lemon .

From Smitten Kitchen:

1 pound spaghetti or linguine
3 lemons
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil , plus additional for serving
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 ounce finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup), plus additional for serving
Ground black pepper
Small handful fresh arugula (or basil) leaves, shredded

Cook linguine or spaghetti in well-salted water to your al dente tastes in a large, wide-bottomed pot. (You’ll have fewer dishes to wash if you use this pot to assemble the dish as well.)

While pasta is cooking, zest lemons until you have a little shy of a tablespoon of zest. Juice lemons — you’ll have anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 cup lemon juice.

Drain pasta, reserving 1 1/2 cups of pasta cooking water. Dry out your pot, then boil the olive oil, cream, zest and 1 cup of the reserved pasta water together for two minutes over high heat. Return pasta to pot and stir until coated. Add the cheese and 1/4 cup lemon juice and toss, toss, toss everything together. Add more pasta water, 1/4 cup at a time, if you’d like your dish a little looser. Quickly taste a strand of pasta and see if you want to add the remaining lemon juice (we did). Stir in arugula or basil and season generously with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately, drizzling individual portions with a bit of extra olive oil and sprinkling with extra Parmesan.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing


  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 1/2 cups (or more) unbleached all purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise yeast (from 2 envelopes yeast)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray

  • 3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For dough:
Combine milk and butter in glass measuring cup. Microwave on high until butter melts and mixture is just warmed to 120°F to 130°F, 30 to 45 seconds. Pour into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add 1 cup flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Beat on low speed 3 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down sides of bowl. Add 21/2 cups flour. Beat on low until flour is absorbed and dough is sticky, scraping down sides of bowl. If dough is very sticky, add more flour by tablespoonfuls until dough begins to form ball and pulls away from sides of bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if sticky, about 8 minutes. Form into ball.

Lightly oil large bowl with nonstick spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 2 hours.

For filling:
Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl.

Punch down dough. Transfer to floured work surface. Roll out to 15x11-inch rectangle. Spread butter over dough, leaving 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly over butter. Starting at 1 long side, roll dough into log, pinching gently to keep it rolled up. With seam side down, cut dough crosswise with thin sharp knife into 18 equal slices (each about 1/2 to 3/4 inch wide).

Spray two 9-inch square glass baking dishes with nonstick spray. Divide rolls between baking dishes, arranging cut side up (there will be almost no space between rolls). Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, 40 to 45 minutes.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Bake rolls until tops are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and invert immediately onto rack. Cool 10 minutes. Turn rolls right side up.

For glaze:
Combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat until smooth. Spread glaze on rolls. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Basil

Chris and I made this dish several weeks ago on whim, we happened to have chicken, goat cheese and mushrooms so I picked up some basil, green onions, and a $2 bottle of wine from Trader Joe's then we went to work. The end result was so good that Chris did not mind that the meat had not been cooked on the grill. For those of you who don't know Chris very well, he generally only prefers meat that has been grilled- so this dish was a success.

The filling was simple but delicious and the sauce was so good that I was spooning it out of the pan directly into my mouth before the chicken was out of the oven. I love a sauce with a little bit of wine in it. Mmmm.

  • 4 boneless chicken breast halves, skinned
  • 1/2 cup fresh goat cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 basil leaves, shredded or 1 teaspoon dried, crumbled
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten to blend
  • 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter melted

Mushroom-Wine Sauce
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2/3 cup chicken stock or canned low-salt broth
  • 4 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter (1/2 stick), cut into 4 pieces
  • Salt and pepper

For chicken:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Pound chicken between sheets of waxed paper to thickness of 1/4 inch using meat mallet. Pat chicken dry. Combine cheese, green onions and basil in small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Spread cheese mixture lengthwise over half of each chicken piece. Tuck short ends in. Roll chicken up, starting at one long side, into tight cylinders. Tie ends with string to secure. Dip chicken in egg, allowing excess to drip into bowl. Roll in breadcrumbs, shaking off excess. (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Refrigerate.)

Place chicken in 8-inch square baking dish. Pour 2 tablespoons melted butter over. Bake until cooked through, about 20 minutes*

For sauce:
Meanwhile, melt 1/4 cup butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Add wine and boil 3 minutes. Add stock and boil until liquid is reduced by half, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and swirl in 4 tablespoons cold butter 1 piece at a time. Season sauce with salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove string from chicken. Cut rolls crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Fan on plates. Serve immediately, passing sauce separately.

*our chicken took longer than 20 minutes to cook through so be sure to check it before you turn off the oven.