I am not spontaneous. Ok, wait, that came out wrong, let me try again from the other side. I am a planner. Some may even call me a compulsive planner. I want to know about things happening well in advance; I like to make schedules, menus, to-do lists, etc.
So when things happen that I don’t plan for, like say, you go to get your pork shoulder out of the fridge to get it ready to sit in the slow cooker for 8 hours because you’re making dinner for your fiancé’s boss and his wife that night, and even though the sell by date on the meat is today, the edges of the meat are turning green. Yes, green….bleck.
It’s 9am, and you need a pork shoulder in your slow cooker fast. You’re still in your pajamas, and halfway to tears over the money you lost on the first pork shoulder. You manage to pull yourself together, but then trip over your rabbit going up the stairs to change and scrape your elbow. You then head to the grocery store, thanking every god known to man you only live 3 mins from Stop & Shop. You sprint to the meat section, select a new, very pink pork shoulder and rush back to the check out area like a wide receiver running for a game-winning touchdown, cradling your precious pork shoulder right in the crook of your arm.
And then you’re back home at 9:20, slapping some serious dry rub on that shoulder, crisis averted. *whew* But then you realize you totally forgot to write a blog post the night before because you were too tired after your dancing lesson. *cringe* I’m only human guys.
Lucky for me I had a fantastic breakfast that morning by way of these muffins. They combine white chocolate, strawberries and almond meal together in one perfect little parcel; not too sweet, and full of flavor.
White Chocolate Strawberry Almond Muffins
Adapted from Honey & Jam
Makes 8-10 muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup almond flour or almond meal
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
¼ cup (half a stick) unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup honey
½ cup chopped white chocolate
1 cup fresh strawberries, diced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin. Mix dry together ingredients in a large bowl. Mix wet ingredients in a medium bowl. Combine wet and dry until well incorporated. Gently fold in white chocolate and strawberries. Divide batter into cups; you will most likely not need all 12. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 15 minutes before removing muffins.
This whole gradual move process is interesting, but let me say that I’ll be incredibly happy once Saturday rolls around and we are officially of one residence. Even though we technically won’t be until the end of the month when our lease is up.
But we’ll only have possessions in one place, which is the important part. Realizing I couldn’t make muffins this morning because my muffin pan is already at the house was very upsetting. So I made pancakes instead.
Happy, happy pancakes. Pancakes full of fresh summer fruit. I may have mentioned it before, but summer produce is the only thing the season has going for it in my eyes. I mean, I got a sunburn yesterday down my left arm from sitting in traffic. How does that happen?! Do car windows magnify the sun’s rays or something? This sunburn is so awkward, not to mention uncomfortable.
Damn you summer. Damn you and your hot sun. The only thing it’s good for is feeding peach trees and strawberry plants. And blueberry bushes, and cherry, nectarine, plum and apricot trees. Ok, time to stop thinking about fruit and how I want to plant like 8 different fruit trees/bushes in our new backyard.
That wouldn’t look weird, and the plants totally wouldn’t strangle each other as they vie for sunlight. It’s definitely happening at the next house though.
Then all my delicious home-grown fresh fruit can be baked into pancakes. Until that day, these will suffice. These pancakes are like a bright, albeit non-burning ray of sunshine. I swear pancakes just make mornings better.
Strawberry Peach Pancakes
Adapted from The Pastry Affair
Makes 12-16 pancakes
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 large egg
1 cup milk
3 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 medium peach or 1 cup canned peaches, chopped into bits
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk the egg, milk, honey and butter together in a small bowl. Make a well in the flour with a spatula and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the strawberries and peaches.
Pour about ¼ cup of batter onto a heated griddle and cook each side until lightly browned. The batter may look slightly “doughy” when fully cooked; this is just a result of the moisture in the fruit. Serve with your favorite pancake toppings.
Sometimes cooking for two is a challenge. What?!? Cooking for two? That’s not hard at all, you say. But Luke and I have palates that seem to have come from different planets. He’s definitely a meat-and-potatoes-what’s-that-green-thing-doing-on-my-plate kind of guy.
And while I’m not on the opposite end of the spectrum trying to work kale, chard or tofu into our every dinner, I do enjoy foods other than meat and potatoes.
I know that when I think about what to make for dinner, or breakfast, or any meal, I think about what my own taste buds desire first. I mean, I am the one putting in all the effort to get the dang meal made. This can be hazardous though, as some of the ingredients I love to cook with are reviled by my co-habitant.
I usually end up scraping my ideas if they involve any of these contraband items, but sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I make things just for me, knowing Luke will never want to lay a finger on them. I do this because I can’t help myself. My culinary curiosity gets the better of me.
Some concepts just intrigue me too much. Like these muffins. Luke abhors goat cheese, and while I wouldn’t eat it with a spoon, I still enjoy its flavor in other dishes. I particularly like it here, as a filling for these summery muffins.
The bright strawberries and tart goat cheese play off each other beautifully, rounded out by a pleasantly sweet muffin shell topped with turbinado sugar. These are muffins that make me smile, even if they make a certain someone frown.
Goat Cheese Filled Strawberry Muffins
Adapted from Eating Well
Makes 12-15 muffins
3/4 cup (6 oz) crumbled soft goat cheese
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
1 ¼ tsp vanilla extract, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh strawberries, diced
3 Tbsp turbinado sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or coat with cooking spray. I got 15 muffins out of this recipe, so be warned you may need your muffin tin twice.
Thoroughly combine goat cheese, honey, lemon zest and 1/4 tsp vanilla in a small bowl; set aside.
Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Lightly beat eggs and egg white in a medium bowl; add brown sugar and the remaining 1 tsp vanilla and whisk until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in buttermilk and oil until smooth. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined; do not overmix. Fold in strawberries.
Spoon half the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Add a generous teaspoon of the reserved cheese filling to the center of each muffin, and cover with the remaining batter. Sprinkle the tops with sugar.
Bake until the edges start to brown and the tops spring back when gently pressed, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
Now that the temperature is consistently above 60 degrees, it feels like spring has finally arrived, and with it, the first batches of spring produce.
I’m not going to lie, I’m not a seasonal cook, nor am I striving to be one at this point in time. Yes, I would like to have a CSA share someday and experience the onslaught of seasonal produce, but I’m just not there yet. I also have to decide whether it’s even a worthwhile investment, since neither Luke nor myself are enthusiastic fans of vegetables.
A CSA share consisting of fruit, on the other hand, would be a dream come true for me. I love fruit, and am trying to be conscious of buying it in season. While strawberry season doesn’t really start in New England until June, I am already excited.
I remember picking them at the local orchard, shuffling about on my hands and knees looking for picturesque, plump, red berries.
To me, strawberry ice cream is one of those foods that represents the coming of springtime. The key to this ice cream’s rich strawberry flavor is roasting the berries before mashing them. The roasting process helps bring out more of the berries’ natural sweetness, adding an extra strawberry kick that takes this ice cream to a whole new level of deliciousness.
Strawberry Ice Cream
Makes about 1 quart
For the strawberries:
3/4 pound fresh strawberries
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp corn syrup
For the ice cream:
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
1 recipe of roasted strawberries
Toss the berries with the balsamic and sugar, lay them on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Make sure you use one with sides, because the juices will over run the pan. Place the pan in the oven and turn it on to 300°F and slowly roast them until they have given up their juices and are kind of mushy looking. Their color will also be darker. This will take about 30 to 45 minutes depending on the size of the fruit.
Scoop the fruit and all of its sugars into a bowl. Add in the corn syrup and mash the berries with a fork or a potato masher. You can also put them in a food processor, but I like to leave some larger chunks of berry. Chill them until cold.
Meanwhile make the ice cream base. In a medium saucepan, mix 1 cup of the cream with the milk, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Warm the cream mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan, 3 to 4 minutes.
Pour the remaining cup of cream into a large bowl and set a fine strainer on top. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl.
In a steady stream, pour half of the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling.
Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heatproof rubber spatula until the custard thickens slightly (it should be thick enough to coat the spatula and hold a line drawn through it with a finger), 4 to 8 minutes. An instant-read thermometer should read 175° to 180°F at this point. Don’t let the sauce overheat or boil, or it will curdle. Immediately strain the custard into the cold cream.
Let the custard cool to room temperature, then stir in the strawberry puree. Refrigerate the custard until completely chilled, at least 6 hours. Freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container, and store in your freezer.
Crudmuffins! (worst breakfast ever) I can’t believe I forgot about Hop Day with Izzy. Many apologies to all you bunny fans out there. Look at her straining so hard for her hay…do rabbits have lips? Kinda looks like she does in this photo.
When I arrived home yesterday afternoon, I was unpleasantly surprised to find the little bun outside of her pen and hopping around the living room. Somehow she had pried the pen away from her cage and gotten free, though thankfully she didn’t run under the couch when I went to pick her up. Bunny crisis averted.
Yesterday was also my good friend’s birthday. So let’s dedicate these cupcakes to her, though hopefully when I finally see her to celebrate, I’ll make her something even more awesome. Don’t be fooled though, I’m gonna have to really outdo myself because these cupcakes were pretty awesome to begin with.
I’m kind of obsessed with filled cupcakes, so you’ll probably be seeing more of them around here. I mean, they’re amazing little desserts packed with the most creative combinations.
This combo of a lemon, coconut cupcake stuffed with a homemade jam, topped with lemon frosting is a great choice for spring baking. I made these for Easter dinner at Luke’s parent’s house, and they were well enjoyed. I can’t wait to make another recipe like this soon!
Fruit Filled Lemon Cupcakes
Adapted from Love and Olive Oil
Makes 12 cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup oil
1 cup full fat coconut milk
2 tsps vanilla extract
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp lemon juice
For the fruit preserves:
1 pint fruit (strawberries, blackberries, or other berry)
2/3 cup sugar
1/8 – 1/4 cup lemon juice, to taste
1 tsp lemon zest
For the frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice (or more to taste)
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners and set aside.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add sugar and brown sugar and mix. Whisk together oil, coconut milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until relatively smooth. Fill cupcake liners with a scant 1/4 cup of batter (should be just under 2/3 of the way full). Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden, and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
To make fruit preserves, add the berries to a medium heavy saucepan along with sugar, lemon juice, and zest. Lightly mash berries and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Cook over low heat for 20 minutes or until preserves coat the back of a spoon. They will seem a bit runny. Remove from heat, transfer to a heat-safe container, and allow to cool at room temperature for 15 minutes. Move to refrigerator and chill for 1 hour or until set.
For frosting, cream butter with an electric mixer for 1-2 minutes until fluffy. Slowly add confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until mixture is smooth. Add lemon juice and zest and mix until combined. Add creamer and mix at medium-high speed until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes).
To assemble, cut a cone-shaped piece out of the tops of cooled cupcakes, approximately 3/4″ in diameter and set aside. Fill cavities with chilled preserves, and replace tops of cupcakes. Pipe on frosting, being sure to cover the seams, and serve!
And now it’s time for part two of office birthday #3. You knew I had more than shortcakes up my sleeves.
When the request came in for chocolate strawberry shortcakes, is it bad that I thought of these first? I love pretty much everything about cupcakes, how they taste, how like look, I swear they even smell better than regular cake. In my bookmarks bar, the category ‘cupcakes’ has to be subdivided into smaller categories so I don’t have to scroll down for a mile to see all the recipes. Yes, I know I have an addiction. A tasty, tasty addiction.
The other amazing thing about cupcakes is that you can fill them. I love cupcakes with hidden surprises inside like, pudding, caramel sauce, or in this case, chocolate covered strawberry pieces! There’s nothing like biting into an unassuming, but pretty cupcake, only to find something sweeter on the inside.
Plus, cupcakes allow for a better sense of portion control…if you’re into that sort of thing. The only downside to cupcakes is that I generally only make them when I know there are more mouths to feed than Luke and my own. So I’d say it’s a fair bet I’ll be slipping cupcakes into office birthdays any chance I get.
Anywho, let’s talk about these particular cupcakes. Take a chocolate cupcake base, cut out the middle and insert diced strawberries, cover the strawberries with ganache and top with strawberry whipped cream. Mouthgasm. Eating one of these reminded me of how I need more cupcake in my life. I’ll work on that.
Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes
Adapted from Naturally Ella
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup good-quality cocoa powder
1/2 cup buttermilk (or buttermilk substitute)*
1 1/2 cups diced strawberries
2 tablespoon heavy cream
1/3 cup chopped chocolate ( I used morsels)
Preheat oven to 350˚. In a medium bowl combine butter and sugar, beat until light and fluffy- about 3 minutes. Add in eggs and vanilla, continue to beat until incorporated, scrapping down as needed. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients followed by half of the milk. Beat until just combined. Scrap down sides and repeat. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix until batter is combined- don’t over mix.
Divide batter into 12 cupcakes and bake for 18-20 minutes or until cupcake springs back when pressed. Remove from pan and let cool.
Once cupcakes are cool, take a paring knife and cut out the center/top. Slice off the cake from the top of the cupcake and set aside top.
In a bowl, heat chocolate and 2 tablespoons of heavy cream in the microwave at 70% power until the chocolate is smooth (only 20-30 seconds.) Dice strawberries.
Place strawberries in the hole created in the cupcake and drizzle chocolate over strawberries. Cover with cupcake top and set aside. Finish remaining cupcakes. I used about 1/2 cup of strawberries for this. Frost with strawberry whipped cream.
*For substitute buttermilk, combine ½ cup milk with ½ teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice. Let sit for 5 minutes. Voila, you’ve got yourself some buttermilk!
Last Monday marked my third office birthday. This time I worked off of a request from the birthday girl: strawberry shortcake, but with chocolate shortcakes replacing the traditional vanilla.
Since I have 20+ sweet teeth to tickle, my first thoughts jumped to a layer cake similar to the black forest cake I made, except with strawberries instead of cherries.
But that seemed too repetitive. So I went the shortcake route instead. Strawberry shortcake is an extremely versatile dessert. The cake base can be pound cake, angelfood cake, sponge cake, the list goes on. I wanted something lighter than pound cake, but I didn’t want it to float away either.
I ended up making sweet chocolate biscuits, filled with strawberry whipped cream and fresh strawberries. It was worth it, even though I felt a twinge of guilt buying strawberries at the end of November.
It went over well I think….since they disappeared before the birthday celebration dispersed. Normally there are some leftovers for people to pick at for the rest of the afternoon, but these shortcakes were gone. I managed to snag a bite from Luke’s portion. And they were good. Adding mini chocolate chips was definitely the way to go.
Chocolate Strawberry Shortcakes
Adapted from Tasty Kitchen
Makes 8 shortcakes
For the Shortcakes:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1-½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cups cold butter (half a stick), cubed
1 ounce semi sweet chocolate, cut into chunks*
⅔ cups cold milk
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
*I weighed out 1 oz of mini chocolate chips. Regular size chips would work too. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, I small handful will do.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or line with parchment paper/silicon mat and set aside. In a large bowl, stir all dry ingredients together. Using a pastry cutter or fork (or your fingers!), break up butter until a coarse texture forms and there are little chunks of butter throughout. Stir in chocolate chunks and milk. Drop by the spoonful onto the prepared pan. Bake 10-14 minutes. Cool completely before topping with strawberries and cream. I added another half to this recipe and got 14 shortcakes.
For the Strawberry Whipped Cream:
Adapted from Naturally Ella
1 1/2 cups diced strawberries
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
Puree the strawberries in a food processor or blender. Whisk the heavy cream and sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until it thickens. Fold in the strawberry puree, being careful not to flatten the whipped cream. I doubled this recipe to account for all the desserts I was making.
Cut chocolate biscuits in half horizontally and fill with whipped cream and sliced strawberries.