Sunday, August 24, 2014

Preserving Summer - Canning Tomatoes

Growing up, there was a day or two every August set aside by my mom for a marathon canning session. She would spend all day in the kitchen canning jar after jar of beautiful Red Haven peaches to have on hand all winter long. It seemed like whatever day she decided to can was the hottest day of the whole summer. There she would be, spending all day in the hot, hot kitchen, stove burners on high, boiling water steaming up the entire room, sticky peach juice everywhere. It was worth all the effort however when, in the middle of the winter, she would head to the basement and come back up with a jar, one of these labors of love, adding peaches to the dinner menu and reminding us of the joys of summer produce. 

Over the last few years I've started to do some canning every summer. I've been trying out different recipes, deciding what I find worth while, and what I don't. While I haven't followed in my mom's footsteps by canning peaches, I have found some of my own favorites. My top food to preserve so far has been tomatoes. Tomatoes are probably my favorite fruit/vegetable (however you want to classify them). They are so utterly versatile and fantastically delicious when perfectly ripe. You can use them in so many different ways and in all kinds of different foods from countries all over the world. I just love them, so preserving them via canning has been a no brainer. 


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Blueberry Orange Muffins

Blueberry season is still going strong around here, and I am so happy that I have finally jumped on the blueberry bandwagon, they are just so good. It wasn't really until last summer that I truly began to love blueberries, but now there is no doubt that they are one of my favorite fruit. They are so sweet, and juicy, and so much fun to bake with. There is so much you can do with a blueberry. 

Today I'm sharing a classic, the blueberry muffin, but it's a blueberry muffin with a twist. To add some pizzaz and an extra punch of flavor to these muffins, grab an orange and add the zest and juice straight to the batter. Then whip up a nice chunky streusel and sprinkle on top. The sweet citrus notes from the orange and the buttery goodness of the streusel compliment the juicy blueberries and tender muffin. It's the perfect match, and one of the best blueberry muffins I've ever had. 


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Classic White Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

It was my mom's birthday this past week, and what do birthdays mean?? Cake of course! And the chance for me to make a cake, one of my favorite things to do. I'm lucky that I am on an easy rotation at school right now, so it wasn't a big deal to take some time out of my schedule and bake a nice birthday cake for my mom. She is a fan of white on white cakes, so that's what I made. Classic white cake, with sweet and sugary American buttercream frosting. Simple to be sure, but always a winner. 


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Baked Pita Chips

A few weeks ago I shared my favorite recipe for pita bread. It really is delicious stuff, perfect for filling with just about anything your heart may desire, or just eating straight up, fresh from the oven, either on its own or dipped in some homemade hummus or any other favorite dip of yours. Even though I love eating it fresh in sandwich form, I recently decided to try my hand at some homemade pita chips. I have to admit that I love Stacy's Pita Chips (so addicting!), so I wanted to see if I could make something similar at home. The answer is yes, I could, and so can you. 

It's a pretty easy thing to do, all you need is a couple of pieces of pita bread and some time. I took a few of my homemade pita, cut them into wedges, brushed with oil, sprinkled with salt and popped them in the oven. You're really just drying them out completely until they are crisp and crunchy, basically like making homemade croutons. And the options are endless, you can top them with pretty much any flavors you want; herbs, spices, cinnamon-sugar, whatever you feel like. It's totally worth trying this out, the perfect homemade snack. 


Friday, August 1, 2014

Blueberry Mango Parfait

Blueberry season is officially in full swing here in Michigan, and I'm loving it! They are so good, and so good for you, a great combo. I also like that they aren't too expensive, and they last for a while in the fridge. I love raspberries and blackberries but it seems like you have to eat them in a day or they start going bad. I bought some blueberries at the farmer's market on Saturday and they made it until Thursday, and still looked really good. I only had to pick out a few bad ones here and there over the week, but the majority lasted just fine, they probably would have made it a whole week if I hadn't eaten them before that. 

One of my favorite ways to have fresh fruit for breakfast is in a parfait. All it takes is a couple of different types of fruit, yogurt and granola. It is super easy and absolutely delicious. I almost feel like I'm eating dessert for breakfast, just how I like it! This week I picked up a couple of mangos at the grocery store and made a couple of blueberry mango parfaits. Let me tell you, it's a winning combination. The tartness of the blueberries mixed with the sweetness of the mango is a wonderful mix, and the colors are so beautiful too! I think everyone should try it out before blueberry season has ended, trust me, you won't regret it. 


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Almond Cornmeal Biscotti

Sitting down on a lazy afternoon with a cup of coffee doesn't feel complete without a little sweet treat to go along with it. Biscotti is one of my favorite coffee time snacks. It's fun to make, and it lasts forever in an airtight container. I've tried many different biscotti recipes over the last several years, some are better than others, but none have been bad. This one ranks near the top of the list. What I really like about it is the addition of a little cornmeal to the dough. This cornmeal adds just enough crunch to make things interesting, it just livens the cookie right up! The almonds also add to the crunch factor, a perfect combination. I actually made this recipe twice in less than a week the first time I made it, it was that good. And it will definitely be a regular in the coffee time cookie rotation from now on!


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Apple Bread with Oatmeal Streusel

I love having apples in the fridge, they are a perfect snack and easy to throw into a lunch. They seem to last forever in the fridge, although I usually end up eating them so fast that it doesn't matter any way. But as much as I love apples, not just any apple will do. I am very picky about which kind of apples I will buy. In the fall, when they are super fresh and straight from the orchard I love almost all of them, but golden delicious in particular are so good. But as the winter moves on, I usually end up buying just a few varieties from the grocery store, Fuji, Pink Lady, and once in a while Honeycrisp (but I don't generally feel like I should be spending $4 a pound on Honeycrisp when all the other apples cost half as much). 

A few weeks ago I accidentally picked up the wrong bag of apples. I ended up with 3 pounds of Paula Reds which I just couldn't make myself eat out of hand. They have good flavor, but are just too soft and mushy for me. Making applesauce is always an option, but this time I also decided to use some of the apples to do a little baking. While this recipe may seem like a fall recipe, I see no reason to wait until fall to bake something with apples. So grab a couple apples and head to the kitchen to throw this lovely loaf of cinnamon apple bread together. It's good regardless of the season!