All-American Blueberry Muffins

On September 6th at Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged I had the privilege of meeting P. Allen Smith. 2013-09-06 20.00.14He shared with the 100 or so bloggers there about all the cool stuff he’s doing out at his farm — heritage poultry, farm to table dinners, etc. After hearing him speak, I had to buy his book, P. Allen Smith’s Seasonal Recipes from the Garden. Not only is it full of 120 recipes divided by season (so you can take advantage of ingredients at the peak of freshness), but the photographs in the book are so beautiful.

I can’t wait to try them all, but I started today with something easy, blueberry muffins. I had a bunch of blueberries in my freezer from a purchase a month or so ago at the Argenta Farmers Market. IMG_9940I also had just purchased a dozen cage-free Great Day Farms eggs. I like to support companies that value integrity and honesty, and Great Day Farms is that kind of company. They don’t shy away from the fact that they run the company based on Godly values. It’s very refreshing. And they are based right here in Arkansas!

Okay, back to the muffins.

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All-American Blueberry Muffins (recipe from P. Allen Smith’s Seasonal Recipes from the Garden)

6 tablespoons (¾ stick) butter, at room temperature
¾ cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour (I used half King Arthur White Whole Wheat)
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pint fresh blueberries
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a standard 12-cup muffin tin.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the ¾ cup sugar, using an electric beater. Add the egg and beat until it is well incorporated. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Fold half the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Stir in ¼ cup of the milk; repeat the process with the remaining dry ingredients and milk.

Add vanilla and give the batter a good stir. Gently fold blueberries into the batter. Spoon batter into the muffin cups, filling them almost level to the top. Mix the remaining 2 teaspoons sugar with the cinnamon, and sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar on top of the muffin batter. Bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the muffins from the tin, and let cool on a wire rack. Otherwise, get ‘em while they’re hot (MY FAVORITE WAY!).

I messed up and added the cinnamon to the batter, then just used sugar sprinkled on top, and they were still great.

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Channeling my inner Donnie Ferneau

IMG_9793.9Last Friday I attend the Foodie Friday add-on at the Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged conference. Chef Donnie Ferneau was one of the speakers. He says that cooking at home is somewhat hard because it takes time. What he likes to do is fill up his shopping basket with the freshest ingredients and create the menu on the spot. He said to use seasonal, order local ingredients — and organic as much as possible.

After work, I picked up M at my mom’s house, and Mom gave me a pattypan squash, an onion, and several peppers. I already had another pattypan squash, a small butternut squash, veggie broth and cream, so I decided to make soup. 2013-09-11 18.27.28

I started by slicing the three squash lengthwise and getting the seeds out. Then I placed them face down on a foil-lined and greased pan. I baked them a while on 400 degrees, then turned it to broil — probably about 20 minutes total. While the squash were roasting, I chopped the onion and sauteed that in a little olive oil in my soup pot. Then I chopped the peppers. I must have snorted a pepper seed up my left nostril because it started burning bad. Great. But it soon passed. I added the peppers to the pot.

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By this time, the squash were ready to come out of the oven.

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Then I chopped up the squash into small chunks. I add them to the pot, along with about three cups of vegetable broth. Next, in two batches, I pureed it all in my Vitamix.

2013-09-11 19.15.32After the first batch, I did a taste test. TOO SPICY. So before I pureed the second batch, I picked all the peppers out. 2013-09-11 19.16.05Then I poured it all back in the soup pot, added a little whipping cream (maybe 1/2 cup), nutmeg and rosemary. (Will leave out rosemary next time — didn’t like the texture of it in final product.)

2013-09-11 19.28.16And then the final product with a dab of sour cream… Just call me Chef Stacey Ferneau Valley!

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What is this squash in my CSA basket?

One of the things that makes being a part of a CSA (community supported agriculture) so much fun (and educational) is getting introduced to new vegetables. Here is this week’s basket: csa eggplant, viagra sale watermelon, buy butternut squash, adiposity various tomatoes, and two flyer-saucer-looking squash. Thank goodness for Google Images, I was able to determine that these are pattypan squash, a form of summer squash (so you can eat the skin). I found this recipe for roasted pattypan squash soup.

2013-08-31 14.23.06-2Here are the ingredients — including curry powder, cilantro and other Indian spices. The kitchen smelled so good while it was simmering. I was proud of my new-found pattypan squash skills and the final product. All but one of my kids liked it. Not sure if it was the spices or the fact that it’s a vegetable that turned her off.  Step-parenting is interesting like that. My kiddo pops cherry tomatoes like they’re candy. But Anthony’s two have completely different tastes. They are good sports though and humor me by trying new things. But I guess curry and flyer-saucer-looking squash is pushing it too a bit far.

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Strawberry Angel Food Dessert

2013-08-23 19.40.35 I don’t have the exact recipe for this — it was given to me verbally by my wonderful Aunt Sassy who is visiting from Texas. But it sounds pretty easy.

Ingredients:
1 pre-made angel food cake
large container of fresh strawberries
small container of frozen strawberries (with juice)
container of low-fat Cool Whip
1 Hersey bar

Take angel food cake and tear it up into little pieces. Thaw a little box of frozen strawberries. Cut up a bunch (say half) of fresh strawberries into small pieces. Leave rest of strawberries whole with just ends cut off for the top. Mix cake, caries thawed strawberries, fresh strawberries and cool whip together. Put in pretty trifle bowl or little individual glasses, top with whole strawberries and chocolate, and chill in refrigerator.

I don’t have exact measurements, so just play around with it. I feeds a crowd — about 15-18 people depending on serving size. If you used little cups, it could feed a lot more — but then people are going to just go back for seconds because it’s so yummy and you have twice as many cups to wash.

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Pineapple Banana Muffins

2013-08-24 16.10.51 Today my family and I have been running in different directions. This morning I was at the gym. They went to the farmer’s market. Then I collapsed in my bed from said gym experience. They were kind and let me have an hour nap while they played downstairs. Then this afternoon, pancreatitis I had a baby shower to go to, allergy and they are running errands. I have said it before — my husband is really AWESOME. I just got home from the baby shower, prosthesis and they are still out. The house is quiet — just me and the dog. 1-2013-08-16 08.12.52And I see cups on the counter, toys on the coffee table, guitars on the floor — all little reminders of my wonderful family and how blessed we are. The old me would have just seen a mess, but this new me, the me that’s really trying to live in the moment and be grateful for the little things, sees a beautiful mess. It’s a mess of reminders of how God has blessed me with a loving man who adores me and three smart and funny daughters who continue to amaze me every day and a snuggley old dog who has been by my side through good times and bad over 14 years. I am one lucky girl.

Always looking for a good recipe to use up soft bananas, somnology
I found this one this morning, health and it was a hit! I used more banana that it called for, and they were super moist. My crew gobbled them up in mere minutes. 2013-08-24 08.17.02

Tortellini Soup Dinner

I’ve really been trying to come up with meal plans that use ingredients already on hand. So tonight’s dinner started with a package of cheese tortellini and some hamburger meat. I searched Pinterest (my new “cookbook”) and found this recipe for Beef & Spinach Tortellini Soup to use as a starting point. I changed it up quite a bit. Let’s see if I can recall it here:

2013-08-09 18.40.12 HDRIn a stock pot, visit I browned about a pound of hamburger meat along with half a sweet white onion chopped up. I heated four cups of water in the microwave, ask then added six beef bullion cubes to it. As the hamburger was nearing done, pill I added a tablespoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of rosemary, salt and pepper, and a tablespoon of chopped garlic. (All measurements are estimated since I didn’t use measuring spoons — I just eye-balled it.) Then I added the beef bullion and half a package of chopped frozen spinach to the stock pot. I brought it back to a boil and added the cheese tortellini; boiled for about 6 minutes. When I taste tested it, it was missing something, so I added some heavy whipping cream and let it heat back up. Perfect! I served it with sharp Swiss cheese shavings on top.

As an appetizer, I had a platter of cheeses, sausage, crackers and bread sticks. 2013-08-09 18.04.30Kroger had this wonderful goat and cow cheese with fig jam on top out for samples when I was grocery shopping today. It’s usually about $17, but I got one as “manager’s special” for just $7. It was nearing it’s sell by date — but since I knew we’d eat it tonight, so not a problem. Bring on the expensive cheese! When Anthony and the girls got home, they were very happy to dig into this platter of yumminess.

2013-08-09 18.31.08 HDRFinally for dessert, I made individual banana puddings. I did cheat and use instant vanilla pudding, but made up for it by making the whipped cream from scratch. Man, there’s nothing like homemade whipped cream!

My family was very pleased with dinner. The two older girls actually went back for seconds on the soup — and it had spinach in it. Amazing! There are five more little banana puddings in the frig. I wonder if they’ll make it to see morning.

Cuatro Leches Cupcakes (recipe)

photo 1Last week, click my stepdaughter K turned 14. She was in New Orleans with the youth from our church on a mission trip, capsule so we didn’t get to celebrate until yesterday. Her sisters and I decided to make her cupcakes instead of a regular birthday cake. (I found cupcakes help my crew — myself included — with portion control.) K is a plain vanilla cake kind of gal, healthful so chocolate was out. I decided up to kick it up a notch and make these Food Network Cuatro Leches Cupcakes. They were so yummy — and not too sweet.

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I use a squeeze bottle (like the mustard one above) for adding fillings to cupcakes. It also worked for soaking these cupcakes with four milk (condensed, evaporated, whipping cream, and coconut milks) mixture.

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The finished product!

Leftover Night

My husband Anthony says that Leftover Night was always his favorite growing up. He’s one of 13 children, here and Leftover Night was a free-for-all — cereal, spaghetti, ice cream, chicken, meatloaf — on one plate if he wanted! Tonight we did our own version of Leftover Night — a scaled back, house of five people version. Plus I made Rotel Cheese Dip with pork sausage from our CSA farm. My brother Rob and his son joined us. I have to admit, it was a great dinner!

2013-07-21 18.18.48Arkansas peaches 2013-07-21 18.18.37chicken and waffles from The Waffle Wagon 2013-07-21 18.18.28voodoo chicken fingers and fries from The Afterthought

Cooking with my sis-in-law

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Tonight was Ines’ night to cook dinner, try but it’s hard to keep me out of the kitchen, treat so I added a side dish and a dessert. Ines made soft tacos.

photo(39)I made a layered summer pasta salad and a double batch of bread pudding. On the bread pudding, ailment I used chopped apples instead of raisins. Also, we didn’t have vanilla or cinnamon here at the beach house, but it was fine without it. photo(38)

It was all delicious. Afterwards, we had the dads watch the kids, and the mommas went down to beach to watch the sun set and visit with our friends. Now we’re all back at the house watching “Little Fockers.” 🙂

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Favorite Pie Recipes

My favorite pie recipes come from an old 1980 cookbook put together by the El Dorado, epidemic AR, adiposity Service League called In Good Taste. InGoodTaste

You can order your own copy of In Good Taste at http://www.amazon.com/Good-Taste-Dorado-Service-League/dp/B000YHP0WM.

Some of favorites in the cookbook are the Mystery Pecan Pie (the mystery is a cream cheese layer), glaucoma the easy Pecan Pie, the Grandma’s Light Chocolate Pie (not light in calories — light caramely color and flavor is A-MA-ZING), and the Lemon Chess Pie.

My coworker Mary mentioned that Lemon Chess Pie is her husband’s favorite pie, but that she didn’t have a good recipe. So Sunday night I whipped one up — seriously, this recipe is EASY — and brought it to work on Monday. Several of us had a slice, but save a big slice for Mary’s husband. Here’s the recipe:

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And here’s Mary’s text message to me the next day: text