Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake

blueberrycake

I made this one at least 7 months ago but haven’t gotten around to posting it; but I remember it because it is a fantastic treat for breakfast. I avoided posting because the pictures (and I took several) didn’t turn out well at all! (Click the link for a more appetizing shot). I sent my camera out a few weeks ago for repairs and it can’t come back soon enough. I’m sure I’ll make this one again soon and take a better picture. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Buttermilk-Blueberry Breakfast Cake – adapted from Alexandra Cooks

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest or more — zest from 1 large lemon
  • 3/4 cup sugar (use vanilla sugar if you have it)
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • ½ cup buttermilk

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cream butter with lemon zest and sugar until light and fluffy.

2. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Meanwhile, toss the blueberries with ¼ cup of flour, then whisk together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt.

3. Add the flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk. Fold in the blueberries.

4. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan (or something similar) with butter or coat with non-stick spray. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle batter with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness. If necessary, return pan to oven for a couple of more minutes. (Note: Baking for as long as 10 minutes more might be necessary.) Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

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Vanilla Almonds

almonds

(Happy New Year! I meant to post this a couple of weeks ago…but I was visiting family)

I was inspired to make these after watching one of my favorite cooking shows. I knew I would need some quick teacher gifts for the kids (I hope they like almonds!), and some snacks for the party we’re hosting today. I tried a few and I am happy to report that they are really tasty! Our friends loved them and I even had some recipe requests for them 🙂 Thanks for reading, enjoy.

Vanilla Almonds – adapted from Kelsey’s Essentials

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups whole almonds
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Beat the egg white with the vanilla extract, add the almonds and stir to coat. Combine the sugar, salt, and cinnamon and combine with mixture. Place in a single layer on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 300 degrees F for 20 minutes. Remove and cool on wax paper and break into clusters.

Blueberry Banana Bread

In case you couldn’t tell, I love to try out new recipes. Especially trying variations of banana bread as you can see here, here, here, this one too, and this. I can’t get enough of them, and thankfully my husband is a willing taste tester. My husband didn’t notice the banana flavor, probably because he didn’t know there was any in this (he assumed blueberry, of course). I thought the bread was okay, and a little dense but that may be because I over stirred the batter? Not sure, I thought I did a pretty good job of not over mixing. Maybe it was tougher because there is no butter in this, which usually keeps loaves tender and moist. Thanks for reading, enjoy!
Blueberry Banana Bread – adapted from Chef in Training
  • 2 cups flour (250 grams)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup sugar (**I used 1/2 cup vanilla sugar, 1/2 plain**)
  • 3 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 2 spotty bananas, mashed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups fresh blueberries
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, vegetable oil, egg, vanilla and mashed bananas until smooth. Add in flour mixture and stir until just combined and no streaks of flour remain. Fold in blueberries with a spoon or spatula, then pour batter into prepared pan.
  4. Bake for about 55-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached.
  5. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

Coconut Milk and Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding

I’m trying something a little crazy…my go to arroz con leche recipe has plain ‘ol milk in it. This is my first time using coconut milk and it’s my first time knowingly trying any food with this in it. Hopefully it’s not a complete waste of ingredients and time…I love rice pudding and it’s something that reminds me of my childhood. My Gram made her version (my fave no matter what) often and my siblings and I ate it hot as a breakfast treat. I’m sure I’ll never be able to recreate hers, but in the meantime, I’m having fun tasting other versions. This need for rice pudding came when I realized that I have several Madagascar vanilla beans patiently waiting to be used in my pantry. I bought them over the summer and haven’t used a single bean! How dare I! 😉 It has been at least a full year since the last time I made this decadent treat, so why not put the two together? While searching through Tastespotting, I found several versions of the classic – some with coconut milk and some with vanilla bean seeds. This recipe is a mishmash of a few recipes and techniques that will hopefully come together beautifully!

Verdict: So good, I love this stuff! Creamy, slightly sweet and perfectly comforting in my book.  I didn’t notice the coconut flavor, but it wasn’t as thick or “butter fatty” as the other recipe. I only used one cup because coconut milk has such a  high fat content, so I’ll be on the look out for lighter coconut milk. Also, I was also able to make a bigger batch of vanilla sugar the day I made this, so hopefully I can find the perfect use for some of it. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Coconut and Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding – 

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 vanilla bean, split
  • lemon zest (strips, not grated)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch of kosher salt

Directions –

Pour rice and water into a 4 quart dutch oven or larger. Add the lemon peel, cinnamon stick and vanilla seeds to the pot. Let sit for an hour.

After soaking, bring the rice mixture to a boil on high heat, uncovered. When it starts to boil (about 5 minutes), lower the heat to medium and cook for 10 to 12 more minutes or until water is almost evaporated.

Add the milk and stir well to mix, add the sugar  and cook over medium-low heat, stirring carefully, until it thickens slightly or until desired consistency, about 25 to 35 minutes. Remove the lemon zest and cinnamon sticks.

Serve hot, cold or room temperature.

M&M Cookies

These taste better than they look. If you love thin, crispy cookies like I do then you’ll enjoy these. I was looking for a sugar cookie recipe that I could add M&Ms too for my daughter’s birthday snack for her preschool class. I was disappointed by how these turned out because I envisioned a puffier cookie. These cookies spread a lot and I just used my small 1 tablespoon cookie scoop to dish these out. Don’t skip the chill in the fridge for these or they’ll spread even more, but the longer the dough sat in the fridge the less they spread. Next time I will find a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe and add the M&Ms in place of the chips. In the end, the kids didn’t mind, and neither did my chewy-cookie-loving-husband;) Thanks for reading, enjoy!

M&M Cookies – adapted from What’s Gaby Cooking?

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (at room temp)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • M&Ms

Directions –

1. Cream together the butter and sugars in a mixer. Add the eggs and vanilla, making sure to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl. Add the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder and mix on low until everything is incorporated. Chill the dough for two hours.

2. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Scoop the cookie dough onto a Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet. Be sure to leave plenty of room around each ball, about 8 cookies per pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until desired doneness. Remove from oven and let rest on the baking sheet. Once they’re firm enough, move them to a cooling rack. Makes about 48 cookies.


Triple Layer Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Icing

This week my parents came to visit, so I pulled out all the stops! But this wasn’t just to create a more memorable visit, it was mostly to celebrate our little girl’s fifth birthday. We forgot to pick up candles and I meant to put rainbow sprinkles on this, but she assured me that it was “okay”. Thankfully the lack of these items didn’t take away from the flavor and richness of this cake.

This was my first ever homemade icing and it was so easy, thanks to my trusty KitchenAid standing mixer. It is a messy process sifting all those six cups of powdered sugar, but it was worth it. Next time I will be more generous with the frosting between the layers, but I was worried I wouldn’t have enough to frost the “outside”. Once the cake was frosted, I put it in the fridge to set up. Oh, and don’t mind the wax paper – that was meant to keep the cake plate cleaner but I forgot to remove them before the rest in the fridge. Overall, this cake was really worth the effort and not at all difficult. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Double Layer Chocolate Cake – adapted from Smitten Kitchen

** This became a “triple layer” cake because I only have 9″ cake pans**

The recipe below is for 2 10-inch layers filled and coated in chocolate ganache. My adaptations were to split the layers to create a four-layer cake and use raspberry filling instead of chocolate. To do the same, use half the frosting and all of the raspberry filling, recipe at the end.

For cake layers

  • 3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
  • 1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Make cake layers: Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease pans. Line bottoms with rounds of parchment paper and grease paper.

Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well.

Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature

Quick Chocolate Buttercream – adapted from Williams-Sonoma

  • 8 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 6 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 6 Tbs. milk, plus more, if needed
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Directions –

Have all the ingredients at room temperature.

Put the chocolate in the top pan of a double boiler set over but not touching simmering water in the bottom pan. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Let cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, combine the confectioners’ sugar, butter, the 6 Tbs. milk, the vanilla and salt and beat on low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes, then reduce the speed to low. Add the chocolate and beat until combined, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute more.

If the frosting is dry, add more milk, 1 tsp. at a time, until it is creamy but still holds peaks. Makes about 4 1/2 cups.

Peanut Butter Pie

Quick Post: This has to be the easiest, least-fancy dessert I have ever made. I’m not usually one to make something this unhealthy, but it’s one of M’s favorites. Don’t judge it’s outward appearance! I know chocolate would make all the difference, but this pie is decadent enough without it in my humble opinion. I know M would disagree, as he likes things so sweet it makes my teeth hurt! Also, he just really loves chocolate. If you decide to make this, make sure it sits in the fridge for at least four hours, but overnight would be even better. The last time I made this we didn’t wait too long – it tasted ok, but the day after it was so much better. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Peanut Butter Pie – adapted from Let’s Dish

  • 1 (8-inch) graham cracker pie crust
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 (8 oz.) tub frozen whipped topping, thawed

Directions –

With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Blend in peanut butter and vanilla.  Fold in whipped topping.  Spoon mixture into prepared pie crust.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours, or until firm.



Strawberry Cream Cheese Bread (just keeping it real)

Note to self: impatience is NEVER rewarded. I learned this the hard way. I’ve made this bread twice this week (and plan on making it again next week – hopefully with better results). The first time was fine because I didn’t bother getting the loaf out of the pan while it was still hot and just cut the pieces out of the pan. There is a short window of opportunity to get loaves out of their pans before they stick, so I wanted to work on it within seven minutes of taking it out of the oven. That obviously didn’t help either. This loaf sticks like crazy, so now with two failed attempts at de-panning, I know now that I need to butter the pan and then put a piece of parchment paper on top of that. Next week we’ll see if that works! It better because this is not something I want to happen again.
Thanks for reading, enjoy!
Fresh Strawberry Bread – My Baking Addiction
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups strawberries, rinse, dried and chopped

Directions
1. Grease and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
2. With electric mixer cream butter, sugar and cream cheese until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla.
3. In separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Blend flour mixture with butter mixture just until blended. Add buttermilk and only stir until just combined; do not over mix.
4. Carefully fold in strawberries. Dough mixture will be thick.
5. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

A few days ago, I decided that I would make French toast; and today I thought: “why not make that cinnamon swirl bread I bookmarked so long ago?” Sure, it takes a little more effort but my family is worth it! This recipe is actually a raisin/cinnamon swirl bread – but M doesn’t like raisins so, I left them out.

The recipe was simple enough to follow, but not as straight forward as my favorite sandwich bread recipe. The dough is super soft and kind of sticky once it’s all finished kneading – but don’t worry! After its first rise and quick chill in the freezer, it was much easier to work with. Rolling it out was simple enough because it didn’t snap back like other doughs. Next time I will roll the dough out slightly smaller so I don’t have so much to tuck underneath. That explains the wonky look of my loaf. It’s not going to win any perfect loaf contest, but I’m sure the family won’t mind.

For the custard, I used this recipe but with slightly less sugar. The sweetness in the dough should be plenty to make up for that.

Verdict: this was worth the effort. Everyone enjoyed the French toast this morning! It did take longer to cook than I anticipated, because I dried out the bread in the oven at 350 for about 8 minutes so the bread would absorb the custard well and not fall apart. Once one batch was finished, I placed the slices on a rack which I place on top of a half sheet pan into a 200 degree oven to keep warm. Serve with lots of warm maple syrup! Thanks for reading, enjoy:)

Cinnamon Swirl Bread – adapted from Dorie Greenspan via food.baby

For the bread:

  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus a pinch
  • 1 1/4 cups just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
  • 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
  • Grated zest of 1/2 orange (optional)
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
  • 3 3/4 to 4 cups all-purpose (plain) flour

For the swirl:

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)
  • 1 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to a spreadable consistency

To make the bread:

Put the yeast in a small bowl, toss in the pinch of sugar and stir in 1/4 cup of the warm milk. Let rest for 3 minutes, then stir – the yeast may not have dissolved completely and it may not have bubbled, but it should be soft.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the remaining 1 cup of milk, the butter and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and mix for a minute or two. Add the salt, egg and vanilla, if you are using it, as well as the zest and nutmeg, if you’re using them, and mix for a minute. In all likelihood, the mixture will look unpleasantly curdly (it will look even worse when you add the yeast). Add the yeast mixture and beat on low-medium speed for 1 minute more.

Turn the mixer off and add 2 3/4 cups of the flour. Mix on low speed just until you work the flour into the liquids – you’ll have a sticky mix. If you’ve got a dough hook, switch to it now. Add another 1 cup of flour, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the dough for a couple of minutes. If the dough does not come together and almost clean the sides of the bowl, add up to 1/4 cup more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Keep the mixer speed at medium and knead the dough for about 3 minutes, or until it is smooth and has a lovely buttery sheen. The dough will be very soft, much too soft to knead by hand.

Butter a large bowl, turn the dough into a bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Put the bowl in a warm place and let the dough rise until it is doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Scrape the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap, wrap it and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm enough to be rolled easily. (At this point, you can instead refrigerate the dough overnight if that is more convenient).

To make the swirl and shape the loaf:

Butter a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.

Whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and cocoa, if you’re using it. Check that the raisins are nice and moist; if they’re not, steam them for a minute, then dry them well.

Put the dough on a large work surface lightly dusted with flour, lightly dust the top of the dough and roll the dough into a rectangle about 12 x 18 inches.

Gently smear 2 tablespoons of the butter over the surface of the dough – this is most easily done with your fingers. Sprinkle over the sugar mixture and scatter over the raisins. Starting from a short side of the dough, roll the dough up jelly-roll fashion, making sure to roll the dough snugly. Fit the dough into the buttered pan, seam side down, and tuck the ends under the loaf.

Cover the pan loosely with wax paper and set in a warm place; let the dough rise until it comes just a little above the edges of the pan, about 45 minutes.

Getting ready to bake:

When the dough has almost fully risen, centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees Celsius). Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter, and brush the top of the loaf with the butter. Put the pan on the baking sheet and bake the bread for about 20 minutes. Cover loosely with a foil tent and bake for another 25 minutes or so, until the bread is golden and sounds hollow when the bottom of the pan is tapped. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes, then unmold. Invert the bread and cool to room temperature right side up on the rack.

Chewy Triple Chocolate Cookies

M requested something “triple chocolate” the other day, so off to Tastespotting.com I went. I meant to bake these up for Valentine’s Day, but I didn’t get around to it…oh, well! Today was a good day for cookies and these are rich, moist and fudgy. I don’t choose chewy cookies for myself (store-bought chewy cookies ruined them for me), but these have a pleasing soft and chewy texture. They do take more time, but not too much more effort than the average cookie recipe. Be sure to read ahead in these directions before making them – I didn’t know the dough needed to sit 30 minutes before I could dish them out. The cookies need to cool on the baking sheets for a full ten minutes before being transferred to a cooling rack, too. Make sure you have lots of chocolate on hand before deciding to make these. M wanted some cookies so bad, he was willing to make a quick trip to the store to pick up more chocolate. I needed almost a full two pounds! Thankfully this recipe makes nearly four dozen cookies, so you can spread the love around by passing these out to friends and family…better to do that than be tempted to eat them all!;) Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Chewy Triple Chocolate Cookies – adapted from Annie’s Eats

  • 2 cups (10 oz.) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz.) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 16 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (I used two bars of semi-sweet and two of bitter sweet)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. instant coffee or espresso powder
  • 10 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened but still cool
  • 1 1/2 cups packed (10 1/2 oz.) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz.) granulated sugar
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions –

Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.  Whisk together; set aside.

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over simmering water until completely melted and smooth; remove from the heat.  (Alternatively, microwave the chocolate in 30 second intervals, mixing thoroughly in between, until melted and smooth.)  In a small mixing bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla and instant coffee granules; stir well with a fork to dissolve; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 5 seconds.  Mix in the sugars until well combined, about 45 seconds – the mixture will look granular.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually beat in the egg mixture until incorporated, about 45 seconds.  Add the chocolate to the bowl in a steady stream and continue beating until combined, about 40 seconds.  Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  With the mixer at low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated, being careful not to overbeat.  Fold in the chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until the consistency is scoopable and fudge-like, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets with a 1 ¾-inch cookie dough scoop, spacing the dough balls about 1 ½ inches apart.

Bake until the edges of the cookies have just began to set but the centers are still very soft, about 10 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through baking.  Cool the cookies on the sheets about 10 minutes, transfer to cooling racks and allow to cool completely.  Cool the baking sheets before baking more batches with the remaining dough.