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What's Baking: Bake in Season with Spring Produce

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As I mentioned in my last post, this month was my turn to host What's Baking! I was so excited to be hosting at a time when Spring produce is at its finest! Our farmer's markets are starting to open around here and I'm always looking for ways to use the produce we find. At some point I hope to make everything submitted this month, and I hope something in this round-up inspires you to seek out Spring produce at your local farmer's market. There are so many great posts this month!


First up, we have Hezzi-D's Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables. I love that Heather went with a savory meal option. I cannot wait to see these vegetables show up at the farmer's market!

Next up is Beantown Baker's Raspberry Rhubarb Muffins. Jen's blog is one of my go-to's when I'm looking for baking ideas. 'I see these muffins in my near future, a great way to use of the extra rhubarb I put in the freezer.


Here we have a first time participant, Newlywed and Newly Cooking's Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp with Almond Streusel looks delicious. Joanna also provides us a little comic relief in the form of a kitchen mishap, something I'm sure we can all relate to!


Another first time participant here, Pursuing Domestic Goddess-ness' Savory Cheese and Chive Bread. Catherine was happy to put her chive plant to good use, and gives us a tip on how to prepare fiddleheads.


Just Baked's Brown Sugar Berry Shortcakes takes the traditional shortcakes to another level with the addition of brown sugar.


Next up we have Jenna's Cooking Journey's Blueberry Lemon Loaf from another first time participant. I absolutely love that we have so many new participants this month!


Sweet Beginnings' Pineapple Zucchini Bread is a recipe I've made before. I save shredded zucchini in my freezer every year so I can make it again! Jaida, thanks for the reminder!

We had another blueberry entry from Yudith. Blissfully Delicious' Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake is an indication to me that it is perfectly fine to eat cake for breakfast!


Eva Bakes' Strawberry Greek Frozen Yogurt reminds us that Spring produce can be enjoyed cold as well!

Strawberries were popular this month as evidenced by Our Share of the Harvest's Strawberry Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting. I wish Lindsey was able to box them up and ship them to me!


Love the creativity in Melissa's entry. I wonder if I Was Born to Cook's Strawberry "Donut" Bundt Cake could be considered breakfast?!


Another popular choice this month was rhubarb. Stephanie brings us Brownies and Blondies' Berry Rhubarb Pie which she adapted based on the berries currently available (or preserved from previous seasons).


Amanda is lucky enough to have peaches in season! Our Italian Kitchen's Stuffed Baked Peaches look like they would make a simple, yet elegant ending to any special dinner.


Sandra didn't have luck finding anything in season, but she did use local apples. Check out She Cooks and Bakes' Homemade Cranberry Apple Granola.


And lastly, I made Strawberry Rhubarb Dessert Bars


To all the ladies who participated, thank you for making this month's What's Baking a success!

What's Baking: Strawberry Rhubarb Dessert Bars

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It's time once again for What's Baking. After participating for over a year, it was finally my time to host! The theme I chose was Bake in Season with Spring Produce. This time of year I am always itching waiting for the farmer's markets to open which inspired the theme. I figured even those who have farmer's markets readily available year round probably look forward to those first signs of Spring.

 

My original plan was to bake something savory, with asparagus, however, I haven't had luck finding good asparagus recently. My next thought was fiddleheads, but, I don't know, I couldn't bring myself to buy them and didn't really know what to do with them! So I changed completely and settled on something sweet.

While these are sweet, and use those bright red beauties growing in my back yard, they also incorporate the notoriously tart rhubarb. Rhubarb brings back fond childhood memories of picking a stalk from our neighbors plant, dipping it in a Dixie cup of sugar, biting down and feeling that punch in the jaw. 


 

These don't give you that punch in the jaw, instead the combination of strawberry and rhubarb make for a mellow dessert, reminiscent of a coffee cake. My husband especially loved them. He claimed they tasted like cream cheese, but I assured him there was no cream cheese, I'm pretty sure it was the buttery crumbs mixing with the creamy fruit center. I took these to a Memorial Day picnic and everyone who tried them had positive reviews as well.

 

Be sure to check back here in a couple of days for this months roundup where you'll see What's Baking in the other participants kitchens.

 

Here is what you'll need:

 

For the Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
Combine fruit and lemon juice in a small non-reactive saucepan and cook over medium heat for 8-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is soft. 

Combine sugar and cornstarch together in a small bowl. Add to fruit mixture and stir. Bring to a boil and allow to thicken for 1 minute.

Remove from heat and set aside.

 

For the Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 pan and set aside.

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on medium-high until the ingredients are combined and the mixture is crumbly.

Remove 1 1/2 cups of crumb mixture from bowl and set aside.

Pour remaining crumb mixture into greased pan and press into the bottom to form a crust. Pour filling over crust and spread evenly. Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture evenly over the top of the filling.

Bake for 30-35 minutes (mine took 35 minutes). Cool completely before cutting.

Note: The original recipe included a drizzle which I omitted.

Source: Land O Lakes

Grilled Beef Kebabs

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I think I'm over my dinner rut. Making use of the crockpot helped me out of it, and now the grill is helping me stay out of it. Oh how I love to grill! Not only does the food taste great, it help keep the house cooler and reduces the amount of dishes to wash. Score (especially on that last one)!


So many days when I get home from work I really don't feel like cooking, but I find when I do some prep in the morning it doesn't feel so overwhelming when dinner time comes.  This recipe is a perfect example. And to make it even better, the kebabs magically skewered themselves while I was at work.

Here is what you'll need:

  • 2 tsp grainy mustard
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp steak seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 pounds of cubed beef (I used stew meat)
  • Cubed vegetables of your choice (we used onions, peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes)

Place all the ingredients in a medium container with a cover. Shake to mix. Open cover and add the meat.
Shake to coat meat.

Place container in the refrigerator to allow the meat to marinate for at least 1 hour (I left there all day while I was at work).

Place meat and vegetables alternately on skewers.*

Place skewers on a preheated grill and cook on high heat until meat is cooked to your liking. Serves 6.

Source: Adventures in my Kitchen original

*I used wooden skewers. I placed the wooden skewers in a dish of water before I left for work so they could soak all day. This prevents them from burning and disintegrating while cooking on the grill.

Simple Barbeque Sauce

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When I made the Barbeque Pulled Pork and Smoked Gouda Potatoes I mentioned I made a quick barbeque sauce since I didn't have any on hand. There is different recipe I usually gravitate towards, however, its more involved and I knew I didn't have some of the ingredients on hand.

This recipe was perfect because it had a nice kick to it but didn't overpower the pork, and had a limited list of ingredients. Ingredients that I'd guess you almost always have on hand. A great example of a condiment that's easy enough to make, making me think twice before I buy it again.


I divided the remaining sauce into 2 small containers and froze it. I have pulled pork in the freezer too, so I know these Barbeque Pulled Pork and Smoked Gouda Potatoes will be hitting our table again on a busy weeknight soon!

  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, loosely measured (not packed)
  • 2 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp pork or chicken rub (or a barbeque/grilling seasoning)
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 3 1/2 cups water

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and mix. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 20-30 minutes until it begins to thicken. Lower heat to medium (or medium-low) and continue to cook until it's thickened to your desired consistency. Makes about 1 1/2 to 2 cups.

Source: Claire Robinson via Food Network

Barbeque Pulled Pork and Smoked Gouda Potatoes

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Remember the Easy Crockpot Pulled Pork recipe? I was searching for ways to use the leftovers, aside from more sandwiches. As I browsed through Pinterest a Barbeque Chicken Baked Potato popped up and my dinner was planned. There was one problem though, I didn't have any barbeque sauce and really didn't want to go to the store.


I found and easy barbeque recipe online (coming soon), threw it together while the potatoes cooked in the microwave (gotta love the baked potato button!) and dinner came together in a snap. You really don't need to measure, just use all ingredients to your taste.

Since this was such a satisfying quick meal, I portioned the pulled pork and barbeque sauce in small containers in the freezer to have on hand for my next hectic day (or when I get in another dinner rut!).

Here is what you need:
  • 2 medium baked potatoes (or 1 ginormous one cut in half)
  • 1/2 cup barbeque sauce
  • 2 cups cooked pulled pork
  • 1/4 cup shredded smoked gouda
  • 2 tsp chopped scallions
While the potatoes are in their last 15 minutes of baking (or while they cook in the microwave), place the barbeque sauce and pulled pork in a small pan over medium high heat.

To assemble, split potato in half, pile on the pork, top with cheese and sprinkle with scallions. Serves 2.

Source: Inspired by Once Upon a Cutting Board

How Does My Garden Grow: Mid-May

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5 varieties of tomatoes
I'm starting something new on my blog. Every few weeks I plan to post an update on my garden. Today I'm starting by showing you around my yard so you can see what we have growing around here. Since I live in New England, we get a later start than most parts of the country, however, we had a warmer than usual start to spring, so we were able to get our plants in early this year.

This year we have a combination of plants grown from seed (by JR) and seedlings which we purchased from a local nursery. We also have a few perennials which we've been able to keep alive for a few years now.

There is a long story behind the raspberry bushes which I could not get started for several years, but now I have a big mess on my hands. If you have advice for how to maintain raspberries, PLEASE leave me a comment. I'm overwhelmed with them.

Without further adieu, I introduce to you my garden.

Snow peas, 2 varieties of romaine
lettuce, arugula, dill, scallions

Peas, brussel sprouts, tomatillos, eggplant,
radishes, 3 varieties of peppers, spinach

Turnips in 2 different stages of growth, cucumbers
Squash (buttercup, pattypan, spaghetti and zucchini)
Corn (but it doesn't look like it will make it)
Strawberries
Potted rosemary, chives, scallions, thyme, basil, mint and cilantro
Completely out of control black raspberries

Easy Crockpot Pulled Pork

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I am in a rut. A dinner rut. As a result my blog is suffering. I'm struggling with the transition from winter to Spring/Summer. It feels like Spring/Summer, however, the produce I am craving isn't here yet. I'm hoping within the next few weeks we'll start to see some fresh local produce in our area. However, I couldn't allow this rut to continue a few more weeks. Fortunately, this week I was able to snap out of it and as a result, today I come bearing gifts. Sorry, I don't mean a giveaway, I mean recipes to share.


This recipe resulted in a mildly flavored pork, which really let the meat flavor shine through. I served the pork as is on challah rolls, but you could opt to add a barbeque sauce if you prefer.

Since this makes a ton of food, you'll want to keep your eye out for ideas to use the leftovers. Or pop the leftovers in the freezer and you'll have an easy weeknight meal on a busy day!

Here is what you'll need:
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  •  1 (4-6 lb) boneless pork butt or shoulder
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup cider vinegar
  • 4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoons dry mustard
Place onion in crockpot, then place pork on top.

Mix all other ingredients in a mixing bowl. Pour over roast.

Cook on high 10 hours.

When roast is done it will shred easily with a fork. Shred all the meat and mix well to allow the meat to absorb the juices. Serves 8+.

Source: Adapted from My Baking Addition

Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting

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Do you love chocolate covered strawberries? Me too! That's where this cupcake idea came from. Head on over to Carrie's Sweet Life where I am guest poster today to get the recipe.

Shrimp Chowder

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I'm doing something I almost never do by posting a recipe the night I made it.We just finished eating about 10 minutes ago and here I am, writing. While this is not the Shrimp with Green Bean with Garlic I planned to make tonight, I'm ok with that. Actually, I'm more than ok with that because this impromptu Shrimp Chowder blew me away! So much so that I needed to tell you about it right away, giving you a chance to make it before the weather gets too warm (I personally can't eat soup in warm weather).


Upon getting home from work, JR declared he wanted soup because he hadn't been able to warm up all day. We went from having 80 degree temperatures a few weeks ago down to 20 degree lows this week. I wish Mother Nature would make up her mind and stop teasing us! But had that been the case, I may not have been able to share this with you so I'll accept it for what it is.

I did a quick Google search for Shrimp Chowder and came up with this recipe from Epicurious. It was a good starting point from which I adapted to boost the flavors and use up what I had on hand. This was creamy, chunky, mild yet flavorful and definitely satisfying!

Here is what you'll need:
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp sofrito (I used Goya frozen)
  • 1 ginormous potato, diced (~2 medium-large potatoes)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 cups seafood stock
  • 1 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1 lb raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 cup 2% milk
In a large hot Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add olive oil, onions and sofrito. Saute until the onions become translucent. Add potato, salt and pepper and continue cooking, stirring as needed, until potatoes begin to brown. Add garlic, stir and cook for about 1 minute until garlic becomes fragrant.

Add seafood stock and simmer over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot from time to time to loosen the brown bits, until potatoes are cooked. Meanwhile season shrimp with seasoned salt.

When potatoes are cooked, add remaining ingredients to the Dutch oven. Bring chowder up to barely a simmer for about 5-8 minutes until shrimp are pink and cooked through. Be careful to not bring this to bubble or boil. Serves 6.

Source: Adapted from Epicurious