Friday, July 2, 2010

Blueberry Buckle

I had never heard of a "Buckle," let alone a "Blueberry Buckle," until this week on an episode of Good Eats. When I saw good ol' AB making it, I knew I'd have to try it out. Luckily it's blueberry season and they are fresh and inexpensive right now. I bought 4 pints this morning, and I'm going to freeze what's left over. Maybe I can use them in the dead of winter to make this again and remember the hot days of summer :)

Blueberry Buckle (Recipe from Alton Brown)

Cake Ingredients

9 ounces (by weight) cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (kosher)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 stick butter, room temperature
5 1/4 ounces sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup whole milk
15 ounces fresh whole blueberries

Topping Ingredients

3 1/2 ounces sugar
1 1/2 ounces cake flour
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 ounces butter, cubed and cold

1. Preheat oven to 375 *F and spray a 9x9 inch glass pan with nonstick spray.
2. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and ginger. Set aside.
3. In a stand mixer (with paddle attachment), beat together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until well mixed.
4. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture until well mixed, then 1/3 of the milk until well mixed. Repeatedly add flour then milk until everything is mixed.
5. Gently fold in the blueberries and pour the mixture into the baking pan.
6. To prepare the topping, whisk together the flour, sugar, and nutmeg. Add the butter cubes and mix with your hands or a fork until the mixture is crumbly. Spread on the top of the batter in the pan.
7. Bake for 35 minutes or until the top begins to turn golden brown. Cool and enjoy!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Grilled Pizza

This recipe is courtesy of Alton Brown, as transcribed from a new episode - "Flat is Beautiful V". As I mentioned in my first post, I am always hunting for the world's best pizza dough recipe, and I have found a contender. This recipe creates a crust that is chewy in the middle, super crunchy around the crust, has the wonderful look and taste of grill marks, and best of all (in the summer) is cooked outside. Not only is it amazingly tasty, it's also a lot of fun to make! It only required me to buy one ingredient that I didn't already have on hand, which is important to me, and now I have enough malted barley syrup to make approximately 100 pizzas :) Try this recipe, you will not be disappointed!

AB's Grilled Pizza Dough

16 oz all purpose flour (weighed)
1 envelope rapid rise yeast
1/2 T salt
2 T olive oil, plus some for oiling dough before grilling
1 T malted barley syrup (sometimes called malt barley extract, I found some at whole foods)
10 fluid ounces of warm water

1. Put all ingredients into stand mixer and combine on low for 1.5 minutes with the dough hook.
2. Increase speed to medium and knead for 15 minutes. The dough will be sticky.
3. Lightly oil a large container (such as a large pitcher) and scrape dough into the container. Cover with a towel and let rise for 1 hour in a warm spot.
4. Turn out dough onto a floured surface, divide into three sections, and form each section into a ball. Cover with a towel and let rest for 45 minutes.
5. While you wait, contemplate toppings!
6. Just before the 45 minutes is up, turn your grill on high. If you are working with a charcoal grill, you should get it started sooner.
7. Take one section of the dough and place it on a lightly floured surface (a pizza peel would be ideal, but I don't have one. I use my counter). Either by stretching or rolling, create a 16 inch round with the dough. Transfer to a pizza peel or an upside down sheet pan.
8. Brush the top side of the dough with olive oil. Reduce heat to medium.
9. If your grill grates tend to stick to food, lightly oil them with a rag wet with vegetable oil.
10. Here comes the tricky part! Very quickly flip the pizza, oil side down, onto the grill. I never get it perfectly flat in one attempt, so I just
reach on in and adjust it. Very carefully of course.
11. Close the lid and let it cook for 2-3 minutes, depending on how hot your grill is. You want to look for the dough to form bubbles and blisters, this is how you know it's getting done on the underside. Or you can peek with a metal spatula.
12. Oil the top (dry side) of the dough, then slide it onto the peel or pan to flip it over. Quickly put on whatever toppings sound good, and close the lid to let the cheese melt. At this point I let the heat stay on medium for 1-2 minutes, then turn it down to low to keep it warm enough to melt the cheese, but not so hot that the crust burns.
13. Voila! After a few minutes, you will have a wonderful grilled pizza.

*The only change I made was to use less salt than AB called for. His original recipe used 1 full tablespoon, but a few online reviews said that was too much, so I cut it in half. The salt was not missed!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Chewy Granola Bars

We go through a lot of granola bars in our house. They usually are some chocolate variety, but I do enjoy other flavors.

I am going on a trip next week to Big Bend National Park, and I needed some good portable hiking food. This seemed like a great time to try out a granola bar recipe. I found a great recipe to try that had some wiggle room for ingredient combinations. I am just completely thrilled with the way these came out. They are, as promised, super chewy and delicious. I really like the combination of mix-ins I used, and I can't wait to try some more combinations after I return!

Chewy Granola Bars

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 cups quick oats
3 T wheat germ
Variety A - 2 tbsp cocoa powder, 1/2 cup chocolate chips, 1/2 cup cashew pieces
Variety B - 1/2 cup cashew pieces, 1/2 cup craisins

1. Preheat oven to 350 *F.
2. In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, peanut butter, honey, butter, and vanilla extract. Mix well.
3. Mix in oats & wheat germ.
4. Add desired mix-ins, approximate 1 cup of anything that sounds good (chocolate chips, craisins, raisins, cashews, pecans, peanuts, almonds, anything!)
5. Press tightly into 8x8 inch baking dish and bake at 350 *F for 18-20 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.
6. Remove from oven and place dish on cooling rack. When mostly cool, turn onto cutting board and cut into 12 pieces. Store in airtight container.

Source: adapted from

Easy Fajitas

In the past few months or so, I've really come to like bell peppers. A lot. Sometimes I crave them. Maybe I should change "like" to "love" in my first sentence, I think that would be more appropriate!

My favorite way to use bell peppers is in fajitas. The few minutes that they are in the pan gives them such a wonderful flavor while keeping a crisp texture. I like to keep my fajitas simple with an easy marinade. From start to finish this meal takes about 2 hours, but that includes time to marinate the meat. This meal has become a weekly favorite in our house!

Easy Chicken Fajitas (2 servings)

4 fresh or frozen chicken tenders, cut into strips
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp fajita seasoning (I use the Penzey's blend)
1 tbsp water
1 lime
2-3 bell peppers, cut into strips (I like to use three different colors, but all green would be okay)
4-5 tortillas, flour or corn
Shredded colby jack cheese

1. In a tupperware container or ziploc bag, mix together the fajita seasoning and water. Add olive oil and the juice of 1 lime. Mix well, then add chicken strips. Allow to marinate for 1-2 hours in the refrigerator. Do not marinate more than 2 hours.
2. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Pour chicken and marinade into hot pan and spread out. Allow chicken to cook 4-5 minutes, then stir and continue to cook for a few more minutes until chicken is cooked through.
3. Add sliced bell peppers to pan and stir with chicken. Cook for 2-3 more minutes. Turn off heat.
4. Divide chicken and peppers between the tortillas, top with shredded cheese, and roll up.

Optional - onion strips could be added to the pepper mix.

Source: Penzey's Spices

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Strawberry Sorbet

I am in love with strawberries. I've always kind of liked them, but about a year ago I became obsessed. I want to eat them every day, my favorite way is to slice them with a little cinnamon & sugar sprinkled on top. That's really all I need, but lately I've had so many strawberries around the house (how can I resist when they are about a dollar a pound?!) that I've been wanting to try something new.

I ran across a blog entry about sorbet, and decided to try a strawberry sorbet. This recipe turned out delicious straight from the ice cream maker. The perfect soft consistency, just lovely. It was also good a few hours later after it had a chance to freeze.

Strawberry Sorbet

1 pound of strawberries, tops removed
1/3 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
1.5 tsp cornstarch
1.5 tsp water
1 lemon

1. Puree strawberries in food processor until smooth.
2. Stir strawberries, sugar, and salt together in a saucepan. Heat on the stove until the mixture is warm and the sugar is dissolved.
3. In a small dish, combined the water and cornstarch, then transfer the mixture into the puree. Mix thoroughly.
4. Remove from the heat and add the juice of one lemon to the mixture.
5. Allow the mixture to cool in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
6. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream mixer. (Mine takes about 30 minutes)

You can eat the sorbet immediately after removing it from the ice cream maker, or you can transfer it to a plastic container and put it in the freezer for later.

Two variations to try:
1. Add a few dashes of cinnamon to the puree mixture after heating.
2. Add a handful of mini chocolate chips to the mixture when it has 5 minutes left in the ice cream mixer.

Source: adapted from


Welcome to my cooking blog! I am anxious to start this journal and record some of the recipes that I've been trying. First, a little bit about myself...

I know this will turn some people off from me, but the first way I'd describe myself is a picky eater. There. I said it. I am starting a cooking blog and am admitting to being a picky eater. What was I thinking?! Well, the truth is I love to cook, even if I'm not super adventurous. A typical cooking endeavor for me might be "Can I find the perfect cheese lasagna recipe?" Or maybe "How do I make the world's best pizza crust?" (I have yet to find it, that will be one goal of this blog!) I'm not necessarily about adventures, although I am expanding my flavor preferences every week, but simply about finding delicious food that everyone can enjoy.