Jam Filled Muffins


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Our niece recently came to stay with us for a long weekend.  I wanted to have something for her to snack on after her long train ride, as well as something to grab as a breakfast treat.  I knew I wanted to incorporate jam in some way since I've had an obsession with it lately; there are so many interesting flavors at the stores and farmer's markets!

I remember years ago having what I remember to be jam filled corn muffins so I started searching for a recipe and came up with this one from Cooking Village.  While it's not a corn muffin, I was equally happy with the result!

I made 2 varieties, blackberry and lingonberry.  As you can see, the lingonberry preserves didn't work well.  It was too thin.  Instead of sinking into the muffin, it spread over the top and spilled onto bottom of my oven.  I recommend using a firmer gelled jam, so that you aren't cleaning your oven in the middle of summer...

Let's talk about the blackberry ones since that worked worked well.  I loved the way the jam buried itself in the middle of the muffin.  It was perfectly distributed and allowed for a bit of sweet jam in each bite.  I think our niece like them too because they were gone by the end of the weekend.

A couple pieces of advice: read the instructions all the way through first!  I didn't and missed out on the sugar topping.  Also, I'd put a baking sheet under my muffin time next time, just in case!

Here is what you'll need:
  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 4 Tbsp jam
  • 1/4 cup sugar divided 
Preheat oven to 400F.  Grease a 12 cup muffin tin or use cupcake liners.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and 2 Tbsp sugar, and mix well.

Add egg, oil and milk and mix well until just combined.  Do not overmix.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.  Place 1 tsp jam in the center of each muffin.  Sprinkle the tops with remaining sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes.  Makes 12 muffins.

What's Baking: Zucchini Cornbread


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I'm so happy to be back participating in What's Baking!  This month's theme, Bake Local, was chosen by Lindsey from Our Share of the Harvest.  Lindsey's blog is dedicated to cooking local and a great resource when it comes to cooking from a CSA share.

It wasn't until this week that I nailed down a recipe and I'm glad I waited.  Zucchini season is now in full force, and every year I'm on the hunt for ways to use it.  Let's face it, zucchini is great, but it grows so rapidly that it tends to get overwhelming!  So began my hunt for a new way to use it.
The original of this recipe can be found on Baking Bites.  I think I did pretty good with the local ingredients, aside from the staple pantry baking ingredients.  In keeping with the local theme, I made several changes, subbing local honey for molasses, using local milk instead of buttermilk and adding corn.  I have to say that this experience was a real eye opener for me.  While I shop at farmer's markets, grow my own garden and look for local products at the grocery store, there are so many more opportunities for me to consider. 

JR and I both really enjoyed this cornbread!  JR liked that it was sweeter than my normal recipe, and I liked that it was very moist and a great way to add some veggies to our meal.  I can see us making this again, and it may even become our go-to recipe.  By the way, if you have picky eaters, aside from a few green flecks, I doubt they will even be able to pick up on the zucchini if you use the finest grate.

Here is what you'll need (items marked with * are local):
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter* 
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar 
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole milk*
  • 1 egg*
  • 1 egg white*
  • 2 Tbsp honey*
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter*, melted
  • 1 corn cob*, kernels removed
  • 1 cup grated zucchini*, squeeze off excess liquid
Preheat oven to 400F degrees.  Grease an 8x8 pan with 1 Tbsp of butter.  

In a large mixing bowl, add cornmeal, flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Mix well.

In a separate mixing bowl, add milk, egg, egg white, honey and melted butter.  Whisk until well combined.

Pour milk mixture into dry mixture.  Stir until just combined.  Add corn and zucchini and stir gently until evenly distributed.

Pour batter into greased pan.  Tap pan on the counter a few times to let out any air bubbles.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Allow to cool before cutting and serving.  Serves 9.

Goat Cheese, Mushroom and Pancetta Quiche


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Our niece stayed with us recently and for Saturday morning breakfast I knew I wanted to make a quiche.  Quiche is one of those great breakfast treats that you can make ahead and eat anytime, whether it's breakfast, lunch or even dinner.  This proved to be really useful as we had drop-in guests come by and I had something on hand to serve them.

This isn't my first quiche post, I've made this vegetable one before.  I followed that same basic recipe, but decided to change up the flavors based on what I had in the refrigerator, which happened to include two of my favorite ingredients - mushrooms and goat cheese.  I really wasn't sure how the goat cheese was going to work in this, but I'm glad I took the risk.  It provided a nice slightly tart flavor and creamy texture.

I also included a new ingredient to my kitchen, garlic scapes.  If you've never used them, you should try them.  It may be too late to get them this year, they have a short season, but you can look for them at your farmer's market next year.  They added the perfect light, garlicky flavor and slightly crunchy texture to this dish.

This was definitely a winner with only one piece left after I served it and that piece was gone quickly the next morning.  You certainly don't need to wait for guests to make this, in fact I think you should make this as a breakfast treat for yourself soon!

Here is what you'll need:
  • 4 oz. pancetta, diced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 10 oz. mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 garlic scapes, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup 2% cottage cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 
  • 1/4 cup 2% milk
  • 1 tsp dried mustard
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chives, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 pie crust
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bake crust for 10 minutes.

While crust is baking, in a large saute pan on high heat, add pancetta to pan and cook until starting to brown.

Turn pan down to medium-high heat and add oil.  Add mushrooms and cook until partially browned, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic scapes, salt and pepper to taste, and cook until browned and softened, stirring occasionally.  Once done, remove from heat and set aside to cool a bit.

In a bowl combine eggs, cheeses, milk, mustard, chives and flour stir until thoroughly mixed.

Spoon mushroom mixture into bottom of pie crust, then layer egg mixture on top of mushroom.  

Place in oven and bake 45-50 minutes until knife inserted come out clean.  Allow to set for 10 minutes before cutting.  Serves 8.

Simple Panzanella


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Tomatoes and basil.  Summer deliciousness!  I love these summer staples that make it so easy to produce a dish bursting with flavor.  I've made Ina Garten's Panzanella before, but I was seriously not in a cooking mood this particular night, so I threw together this much simpler version and paired it with my Cheesy Italian Meatloaf

I was able to put this together while the meatloaf baked making dinner ready in just about 30 minutes.  I wanted to point out that I used garlic paste.  This was partly due to laziness, but I also found it coated the bread nicely, almost soaking in.  I'll definitely use paste vs. minced from now on when toasting bread.

This dish, and dinner, was so much better than takeout, which makes me glad I stuck it out in the kitchen.  Bonus, I even managed to get photos!

I'm sure we'll eat this again before Summer is over, but I'm looking for other ways to use tomatoes and basil.  Do you have a favorite recipe you can share with me?

Here is what you'll need:
  • 2-3 cups of cubed ciabatta
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 lb. small tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 English cucumber, cut into 1 in. chunks
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1 in. chunks
  • 2 Tbsp chopped basil
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
In a large bowl, place ciabatta, 2 Tbsp olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper to taste.  Toss until all the bread is coated well.

Heat a nonstick pan to medium-high heat.  Add bread to pan and toast, turning over until all sides are browned.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Add remaining ingredients to large mixing bowl.  Toss until combined well.

Add toasted bread to mixing bowl just before serving.  Toss gently until well combined.  Serves 3.

Cheesy Italian Meatloaf


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JR requested meatloaf for dinner which I initially wasn't thrilled about.  It's been 90+ degrees out, who wants to turn on the oven?  I thought about trying to make this on the grill, but then again I didn't feel experimenting while sitting outside in 90+ degrees.  You see, we had a planning error which placed our grill patio right where the sun is blazing at dinner time.  I starting thinking about an alternate dinner, when it struck me.  Making meatloaf would be no problem if I cooked it in our countertop oven.  I suppose the heat was making me slow initially...

I decided to keep this a simple meal with an Italian flair and poked around to see what I had on hand to do so.  I ended up with this cheesy meatloaf paired with Panzanella.  This quickly prepared meal not only satisfied JR's meatloaf craving, but it kept me from overheating the kitchen.  And hello, it's full of cheese which automatically makes it delicious!

As I've mentioned in other posts, you can substitute ground turkey here if that is your preference.

Here is what you'll need:
  • 1 lbs. ground sirloin
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 oz. Fontina cheese, grated
  • 4 basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Coat baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

Add all ingredients, reserving 1 Tbsp olive oil, to a mixing bowl and combine until thoroughly mixed.

Form into 3 small loaves and place on baking sheet.  Drizzle 1 tsp olive oil over each loaf.  Bake for 20 minutes.

Top each loaf with 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese.  Continue baking 10-15 minutes until cheese is browned and center of meat is cooked through.  Serves 3.

Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad (Suddenly Salad Knock-off)


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As much as I like to cook homemade, I have no problem using boxed items from time to time.  Suddenly Salad Ranch & Bacon is one of those boxed items that I tend to go to for cookouts, because it goes over well with my family, particularly those who are less adventurous and/or don't like vegetables.  I am one of those people who likes to prepare enough side dishes so that there is at least one for each guest to eat (but sometimes I secretly want to just make what I like!).

When preparing for a recent cookout, I decided to try my hand at a knock-off.  After all, I almost always have these ingredients on hand, so why would I go out and buy the box?  While I'm sure I'm not the first to have made this, my only reference point was my memory of the prepared box mix.

The resulting salad was way more flavorful than any box can produce!  For starters, we're talking REAL bacon here.  Not only that, I had a bit better idea of what is in this, aside from the ranch mix, and I cut back some calories and fat by using milk, buttermilk and mayonnaise with olive oil.  Next time, I want to make a homemade ranch dressing, which I'm sure will bring this salad to a whole new level.

By the way, how can someone not like vegetables?  I will never understand.

Here is what you'll need:
  • 1 lb bowtie or other shaped pasta
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 lbs bacon, cooked crisp and divided
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise with olive oil
  • 1 packet powdered ranch salad dressing mix
  • black pepper to taste
Bring salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and continue boiling 10 minutes.  Add frozen peas to water and continue boiling 2 minutes, or until cooked to al dente.  Strain pasta and peas, run under cool water to stop the cooking process and allow to drain well.

In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, cook bacon until crisp.  You may need to do this in several batched depending on the size of your pan.  Remove crisp cooked bacon from pan and drain on a plate lined with paper towel.  Allow to cool completely.  Crumble into bite size pieces.

In a large mixing bowl, add milk, buttermilk, mayonnaise with olive oil, ranch salad dressing mix and black pepper.  Whisk until well combined.

Add pasta and peas to dressing.  Gently toss until the pasta is well coated.  Add 1/2-3/4 of the cooked bacon and gently toss to combine.  Top with remaining bacon.  Serves 8-10 as a side.

    Quick and Easy Chocolate Cheesecake Trifle


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    Let's face it, we all have hectic schedules and a few shortcuts are welcomed every now and then.  That's exactly what happened to me over Memorial Day weekend.  I had grand plans of making homemade ice cream and popsicles, but the weekend got hectic and those plans didn't materialize.  Not to mention it was SOOO hot, and our air conditioners weren't in for the season.  That's when a suggestion from my sister crept into my mind.  I went with it and came up with this dessert that got me out of the kitchen in no time.  Unfortunately I didn't snap a photo of the final product, but I was able to capture one of what little remained...

    Now that I think about it, it would have been much cooler to make ice cream and popsicles vs. baking a pound cake.  Obviously the heat got to my brain!

    I ended up making a second shortcut dessert this weekend as well.  I used the strawberry mixture from my Strawberry Shortcake, adding blueberries to the mix, and served it over a store bought angel food cake with whipped cream.  Everyone enjoyed it just as much as if I'd made the whole thing from scratch.

    Here is what you'll need for the trifle:
    • 1 chocolate pound cake, cut into 1 inch cubes (I made a box mix according to package directions)
    • 2 packages cheesecake pudding
    • 3 cups milk
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 2 Tbsp confectioner's sugar
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla
    • chocolate syrup for drizzling
    In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the pudding and milk until the powder is completely dissolved.  Chill in refrigerator until thickened.

    Make the whipped cream when you are ready to assembly the trifle.  Using an electric mixer at high speed, add heavy cream, sugar and vanilla to a chilled bowl.  Beat until stiff peaks form.

    To assemble the trifle, start by layering 1/3 of the pound cake in the bottom of a bowl, top with 1/2 of the pudding, drizzle with chocolate syrup.  Repeat the layers.  Top with whipped cream and drizzle with more chocolate syrup.  Serves 8-10.

      Shaved Summer Squash with Prosciutto and Goat Cheese


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      Hello my dear readers!  I've been on a hiatus recovering from an unexpected ailment. My next few posts are recipes I made over a month ago.  I am so sorry, I just didn't have it in me to get them posted.  The good news is that I'm well now,  I finally feel like blogging and I have a bunch of recipes to share with you.  I thank you for sticking with me and hope you enjoy what is to come! 

      You can see a trend with the last few posts; the weather was getting warmer and my last 3 posts are salads.  Well, I hope you don't mind, but the June 2011 edition of Cooking Light had several great looking recipes, a few of which happened to be salads including this one.  This works for me, because their prep really couldn't be any easier which is great for a weeknight meal.

      My local store doesn't sell ricotta salata, so I opted to go with goat cheese which I think worked well.  Luckily I had just purchased a mint plant for my garden, because the mint really adds another dimension of freshness which I glad we didn't miss out on.  While I have a jar of dried mint, I think fresh ingredients all around is the only way to go with this dish.

      Here is what you'll need:
      • 1 medium zucchini
      • 2 medium yellow squash
      • 1/4 tsp salt
      • 2 Tbsp thinly sliced fresh mint
      • 1 Tbsp olive oil
      • 1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
      • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
      • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
      • 3 thin slices prosciutto (1 ounce), chopped (I think you need 4 slices, one to snack on)
      • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled ricotta salata, feta cheese or goat cheese
      Using a vegetable peeler over a large mixing bowl, shave the zucchini and squash lengthwise into long noodle-like strips.  Salt vegetables and toss.

      In a small bowl, combine mint, olive oil, lemon rind, lemon juice, and black pepper.  Pour liquid over squash, toss and allow to sit.

      In a medium frying pan over medium-high heat, cook prosciutto until browned and crisp.  Transfer to a plate to cool.  Once cool, eat one slice and crumble the rest into bite size pieces.

      Add prosciutto and cheese to squash and gently toss to combine.  Serves 3.