Blueberry Crumb Cake… Fresh Baked Friday!

22 Jul

I’m a sucker for a crumb cake.  Any kind will do.

One of my first memories of Villanova is actually eating a piece of crumb cake with my mom at Holy Grounds, right before we took a tour.  And let’s just say that wasn’t the last piece of crumb cake I ate at Villanova.  Man, I miss that square piece of deliciousness.

And, yes, that is in fact the name of our on-campus coffee shop.  Get it?  Grounds has two meanings.  Boy, us Catholics sure can be cleaver.

Anyway, Mom and I went blueberry picking a couple of weeks ago and those little berries found their way into a delicious crumb cake.  This one is particularly great since it’s just slightly sweet.  And easy.  Super, super easy.

Perfect for breakfast.  Or a mid-morning snack.  Or dessert.  Your choice.

Blueberry Crumb Cake
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For the Cake…

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
2 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups blueberries

For the Crumble…

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter, softened*

*I also bring my butter to room temperature when baking.  It helps the butter incorporate better.  For the crumble, you definitely don’t want to skip this step, otherwise you will have a hard time cutting it with the other ingredients.

Directions…

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Prepare an 8×8 inch pan by either greasing it or lining it with parchment paper.

Cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and mix until incorporated.

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  Add to the wet ingredients, alternating with the milk.  Begin and end with the flour mixture.  Do not overbeat!

Fold in the berries and pour into the prepared pan.

Using a fork, mix together all the ingredients for the crumble.  Sprinkle over the top of the cake.  Don’t be skimpy… this is what makes a crumb cake a crumb cake.

Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes.  

Enjoy!

Source:  {very} slightly adapted from Mommy Coddle

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Custom Cuts – Elmo!

19 Jul

Please excuse the lightening in this picture.  Early morning packaging means not the best lighting for photography.

Still, I thought you would want to know I made some cookies.  Specifically, I made some Elmo cookies.

I was nervous.  

I just heard that laugh… that Elmo laugh.  Was he mocking me?

I forged onwards.  I knew I could conquer the little red guy in cookie form.  I had to.  I couldn’t disappoint the two-year olds.

In the end?  Well, I think I got the last laugh.

Simple Sunday – Surprise Quiche

18 Jul

If you know me, you probably know that living in the suburbs isn’t exactly my thing.  I really love the city – the noise, the movement, the possibilities.  I love it all.

But, one thing I do love about suburban living?  Lovely, kind, friendly neighbors.  And you know what lovely, kind, friendly neighbors do?  They surprise you with delicious broccoli and cheddar cheese quiche.  

These neighbors also have perfect timing.  Delivery just in time for Sunday brunch.  Add some fresh peaches and a piece of blueberry crumb cake (recipe coming soon)… Aaaamazing!

Baked Oatmeal

12 Jul

My mom eats oatmeal every morning.  You know, she’s one of those  people who can eat the same thing day in and day out.  For breakfast, her choice is oatmeal. 

    

Me?  Well, I’m more of a dabbler.  Some mornings I like toast.  Some mornings I want oatmeal.  Some mornings I crave cold cereal.  I know.  I’m simply wild and crazy. 

With school starting, I needed something I could easily take with me.  I came across this recipe and have to say – it’s the best of both world.  Mom gets oatmeal.  I get a breakfast that can easily be changed up from week to week.  

     

Plus, I still live on the edge.  I eat regular cereal on Fridays.

Baked Oatmeal
Makes 6 Servings

Printer Friendly Version

2 cups fruit of your choice, more or less depending on taste*
3 cups Old Fashioned oats
1 ½ heaping teaspoons cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
3 cups milk
⅓ cup maple syrup (a bit more if you like your oatmeal sweeter)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup toasted almonds, chopped (or preferred nut)

*I have used blueberries, strawberries, peaches and blackberries.  All have been excellent.  You can use fresh or frozen.

Directions…

Preheat oven to 375F.  Place the mason jars in a baking dish.  Divide the fruit between the bottoms of the six jars, reserving some fruit for the top.

Mix the oats, cinnamon and baking powder in a small bowl.  Divide between the jars, about ½ a cup per jar.

Mix the milk, maple syrup and vanilla together.  As evenly as possible, pour the mixture over the oats, letting it soak through to the bottom.  Top with the remainder of the fruit.  

Place in the oven and bake until the liquid is absorbed, tops are just browned but the oats are still a bit moist.  If you are eating immediately, this should take about 30 minutes.  If you are making ahead and plan to reheat, slightly under cook the oatmeal by 5 – 8 minutes (I find 22 minutes is usually perfect).

Top with chopped almonds and enjoy!

Source: adapted from Sprouted Kitchen, originally from Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson

Strawberry Cake… Fresh Baked Friday!

8 Jul

Can you believe it?  I know.  FRESH BAKED FRIDAY!

Please, trust me when I say I’m trying.  I’ll get this balance thing down one of these days.  Until then… thanks for continuing to read.   And now on to the main event…

During our Charleston trip, we spent an afternoon learning to make low country cuisine at Charleston Cooks!, a great kitchen store that has a demo kitchen attached.  The meal included blackened fish, southern succotash and fresh strawberry cake.  Everything was shockingly simple and incredibly delicious.

Any guesses on which part of the meal excited me the most?  

Now, I love strawberries.  As long as they are fresh strawberries.  Strawberries baked in things?  Not so much (although I did love strawberry frosted donuts as a little girl… but that phase passed).

Needless to say, I was a bit skeptical.  Luckily, this cake was a deliciously happy surprise.

When I made the cake at home, I tweaked the recipe just a bit.  In both cases, the cake is delicate and moist, lightly sweet and kissed with a delicious strawberry taste.  Not too much, not too little.

Emily, the instructor of the class, said this was her favorite cake as a little girl.  After one bite, you’ll know why. 

Strawberry Cake
Printer Friendly Recipe

Cake Ingredients…
1 cup sugar
½ cup canola
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon orange liqueur (strawberry liqueur is fine too or just omi)
2 eggs
1 ½ cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk
½ cup sliced strawberries

Frosting Ingredients…
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 ounce cream cheese
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons strawberry preserves or jam (more or less to taste)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions…

Preheat oven to 325F.  Prepare a bundt pan by generously spraying with a non-stick spray or grease with butter and dust with flour.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, vanilla, orange liqueur and eggs.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  

Beginning and ending with the flour mixture, alternately add the flour mixture and milk to the sugar mixture.  Mix until just combined.  Gently fold in the strawberries.  Be sure to not over mix!

Pour the mixture into the prepared bundt pan.  Bake until the cake springs back to the touch, about 25 – 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let the cake sit for 15 minutes in the pan.  Turn the cake onto a cooling rack.  Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.
While the cake is cooling, prepare the frosting.  Cream together the butter and cream cheese.  Add the powdered sugar and beat to combine.  Add the vanilla and strawberry preserves and mix until desired consistency.  Spread on cooled cake and enjoy!

Source:  Charleston Cooks!

Summer Caprese Salad

29 Jun

Summer brings so many great things – fireflies, watermelon, beach days, sun tea, thunderstorms and…

juicy, vine-ripened tomatoes.  Is there anything better?

I wait all winter long for them… for the traditional Fierstein cheese and tomato sandwich (Grandma makes it best), for homemade pico de gallo, for cherry tomato snacks.

One of my favorite ways to eat them, though, is in a simple caprese salad.  For this one, I used yellow heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil (grown in the backyard, of course.  Okay, that’s Mom.  We all know I’m not a gardener).  A little drizzle of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a few cracks of pepper.

The end result is an appetizer (or, sometimes dinner) that is the essence of summer.

And don’t forget the bread.  You want to soak up that deliciousness!

What’s your favorite summer dish?

Custom Cuts: Graduation Day!… But for Me, More School

27 Jun

I know, it’s been weeks.  I’ve missed you too.

I could go on and on about what I’ve been doing, where I’ve been.  But the long and short is I’ve completed 3/4 of a semester in 3 short weeks.  I’ve learned new words, new strategies, new acronyms (turns out the education profession LOVES them), new people.  You get the point.

So, my writing has been devoted to papers and presentations lately.  Would you like to know about the benefits of using a student think aloud as an informal assessment?  Well, I can tell you.

But I’ve already upset you with my lack of communication.  So I should just get to what the people want…

Cookies!

In the midst of all this crazy school, I did find time to finish an order for a lovely lady who graduated from high school.  Can you guess her school colors? 

Why, blue and gold, of course!  Luckily they made their way to New Jersey in one piece and, from what I understand, were a huge hit.

Hats off to all the 2011 graduates.  (To think, I’ll be one in 2012… yikes!).

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