Sunday, June 26, 2011

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

These are the best blueberry muffins I've had in a long time. I've been trying out different blueberry muffin recipes lately trying to find an all-time, go-to recipe and I think this one is it.

My first requirement is great flavor and texture. These have it.

My second requirement is that it had to have streusel on top and not just any streusel, but brown sugar streusel. I'm still searching for the perfect brown sugar-to-flour-to-butter-to cinnamon ratio, but this one works for now. If I find something better, I'll re-post. (Just so you know, these are great without the streusel, too!)

My only regret about this recipe is it makes an odd number of muffins - around 15-18, depending on how much you fill the cups. That bothers me because standard muffin tins make an even dozen. And you know when you bake those last 3-6, they cook faster and can sometimes get burnt - so watch them carefully.

adapted from Blueberry Cream Muffins on

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I substitute half applesauce)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line muffin tin (makes 15-18) with paper muffin liners.

In large bowl, beat eggs; gradually add sugar while beating. Continue beating while slowly pouring in oil (and applesauce if using). Stir in vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda. Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture alternately with sour cream/yogurt. Gently fold in blueberries. Scoop batter into muffin cups, filling about 3/4 full.

In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, butter, and cinnamon with a pastry cutter until crumbly. Sprinkle over muffins. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until lightly golden and muffins spring back when touched with a finger. Cool in pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sweet and Spicy Green Beans

Here's something different to try if you're tired of plain steamed green beans. These go great with any Asian-flavored dish and rice. And the flavor is not too intense - just enough.

adapted from

3/4 pound (12 oz) fresh green beans, trimmed
2 tsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. soy sauce (I prefer low-sodium)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. honey
dash of hot sauce
sesame seeds

Arrange a steamer basket in a pot of boiling water and steam the green beans 3-4 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, garlic, honey, and hot sauce.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat; add the green beans and fry for 3-5 minutes. Pour in soy sauce mixture. Continue cooking and stirring 2 minutes, or until the liquid is nearly evaporated. Sprinkle with sesame seeds for garnish. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cherry Berries on a Cloud

This recipe is in my Betty Crocker cookbook but I also found it on For years I've thought about making it and I finally had all the right ingredients at the same time, so I made it for Father's Day. This is a light and fluffy dessert but the cream cheese does make it rich. You also need to plan ahead to make this since the meringue needs to sit in the oven overnight.

Regarding meringue, here are a few tips to help you if you are new to making it:
  • Meringue works best on a cool, dry day. For some parts of the country, that is a problem. Just accept that if you have a lot of humidity you will probably see your meringue "sweat." This is when the meringue absorbs moisture from the air and becomes sticky. It may develop beads of sugar syrup on the top. Not really a big deal for this recipe since you will cover it up with the filling.
  • Separate your eggs very carefully. Even just a speck of yolk will keep the egg whites from fluffing up.
  • For best results, let your egg whites come to room temperature before beating.
  • Add the sugar slowly (about 1 Tbsp. at a time), so the crystals are absorbed and your meringue will be smooth and not grainy.
  • After adding the sugar, keep beating the egg whites until stiff and glossy peaks form when you lift the beater(s):
I also recommend using a stand mixer if you have one, because this takes some time and it will free you to do other things while you wait for the meringue to fluff.

adapted from

6 large egg whites
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar

2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 pkgs. (3 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups miniature marshmallows

2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1 can (21 oz) cherry pie filling
2 tsp. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking pan with shortening or butter (cooking spray won't be enough).

Beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt in a large bowl with electric mixer on high speed until foamy. Beat in sugar, 1 Tbsp. at a time; keep beating until egg whites are stiff and glossy. Do not under-beat. Spread into greased baking pan.

Bake for 1 hour. Turn off oven, leaving meringue in the oven with the door closed overnight or for at least 12 hours.

Beat whipping cream in chilled large bowl on high speed until soft peaks form. Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in another bowl until blended. Gently fold cream cheese mixture and marshmallows into whipped cream. Spread over meringue. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. Cut into serving pieces; top with topping.

For topping, combine strawberries, pie filling, and lemon juice.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Slow Cooker Meat Loaf

I am generally not a meatloaf fan, but I will eat the meatloaf my mother-in-law makes. For me it's all about the sauce. In fact, I double it when I make it just so there's extra to slather on my slice. Sorry that this looks like a photo of a bloody brain ... not my best work. I promise it doesn't taste like a bloody brain. I've probably just completely ruined this for you, huh?


2 lbs. ground beef
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 1/4 cup milk
1 egg
1/4 cup dehydrated onion
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. ground mustard
1/2 tsp. ground sage
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. Worchestershire sauce

1/2 cup ketchup
6 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

In a large bowl, combine ground beef, bread crumbs, milk, egg, onion, pepper, mustard, sage, celery salt, garlic powder, and Worchestershire sauce and mix well. Shape mixture into an oval and place in slow cooker:

Cook on low for 5-6 hours.

In a small bowl, whisk together ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and nutmeg. Pour over meatloaf, recover and cook on high for 20-30 minutes longer.

Meatloaf can be served out of slow cooker or you can try to very carefully remove it to a platter.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Smoked Sausage with Potatoes and Green Beans

Here's a great one-dish meal that you can throw together quickly and still tastes great. I've included some basic seasoning but you could also try using an Italian dressing mix packet for a different flavor. Or Cajun seasoning. The sausage does lend a lot of flavor on it's own. My personal favorite is Hillshire Farm's Lite Smoked Sausage:

Less fat and calories and still lots of flavor. You can use any flavor sausage you want. I know some people prefer Polska Kielbasa.

This is also a great recipe for using up the fresh green beans from your garden if you are lucky enough to have one.

adapted from Grilled Sausage with Potatoes and Green Beans on

1 lb. smoked sausage, sliced
3/4 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed
1 lb. red potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 medium onion, wedged
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt (I prefer Kosher salt)
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and toss to coat; transfer to a 9x13 baking dish and cover with foil. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove foil, stir ingredients, and bake for 10-15 minutes more or until potatoes are tender.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tangy Mustard Chicken

In theory this marinade sounded good, but I'll be honest -- once it was made I was thinking, "really?" It looks and smells ... not so delicious. But I stuck with it and I'm so glad I did. It creates amazing flavor!

Of course, the moment I was ready to grill these babies, my grill was not -- it ran out of propane. So I ended up broiling the breasts and they still turned out great. This was my first time broiling with this particular oven and I managed to overcook them and dried them out ever so slightly, but I felt that the tasty glaze the marinade creates more than made up for it.

If you don't have a grill or just want to broil chicken breasts anyway, here's how to do it:

1. Before turning on the oven, place your broiling pan on the top rack to measure the distance from the heating element on the top of the oven. The chicken needs to be about 5-6 inches away from the heat source, so adjust your oven rack accordingly and remove the broiling pan.

2. If your oven is electric, you'll need to preheat your broiler. Spray the broiling pan with cooking spray -- do NOT line it with foil, just use the drip tray underneath:3. Lay the breasts out in an even layer on the broiling pan. For the best results it's best to pound out your breasts before hand so that they are an even thickness.

4. Broil the breasts for 5-7 minutes per side, basting as desired. The chicken is done when it is no longer pink inside and the juices run clear.

adapted from Unbelievable Chicken on

6-8 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, trimmed
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lime, juiced
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
ground black pepper to taste
3 Tbsp. olive oil

In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, garlic, lime juice, lemon juice, brown sugar, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Reserve 1/4 cup marinade in a small container for basting later (keep refrigerated). Combine marinade and chicken breasts in a gallon-size Ziploc bag and marinate in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight (I pound my chicken breasts while they are in the Ziploc bag).

Preheat grill for med-high heat. Grill chicken 6-8 minutes on each side, basting with reserved marinade, until juices run clear.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Chicken Noodle Casserole

If you are looking for exciting flavors and textures ... this recipe isn't it. But if you are looking for warm and creamy comfort food, this recipe will make you very happy.

Like most comfort food, there is some fat in here. You could tweak it a bit to reduce the calories. Use reduced fat or fat free condensed soup, reduced fat or fat free sour cream, and low-fat milk. Instead of mixing the cracker crumbs (even the crackers have a reduced fat variety) with melted butter, you could sprinkle them on the casserole and spray them with butter-flavored cooking spray. I have never made it this way so I cannot vouch for it's tastiness but it can't be all bad.

adapted from Chicken Noodle Casserole I on

1 (16 oz) bag egg noodles
4 cups cooked, diced or shredded chicken
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, crushed (about 1 1/2 cups)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook noodles according to package directions; rinse and drain. In a large bowl, whisk together soups, sour cream, milk, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, and salt. Fold in chicken and noodles until thoroughly mixed. Pour into baking dish.

In a small bowl, combine cracker crumbs with melted butter and stir with a fork; sprinkle over casserole. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until heated through.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Spaghetti and Meatballs

My daughter is a meatball fanatic. She loooves meatballs. She will even eat them with -heaven forbid- spaghetti sauce!

My problem with meatballs is ... well, they're just not my favorite. They can be too dry, too mushy, or just plain flavorless. Well, I think I finally figured out a meatball recipe that fixes all of those problems.

Most people have bouillon cubes or granules. My parents introduced me to beef (and chicken) base. It's essentially the same thing as bouillon but has a lot less salt. Because of this, you keep it in the fridge once you open it, but it still lasts a long time. This is the kind I get:

I know you can get it at Costco on the east coast. For some reason the Costco's in Arizona don't carry it (why is that?!) so you can order it online (never pay more than $9) or look in your local grocery.

Now why am I talking about beef base? Remember how I always found meatballs to be somewhat flavorless? I figured the best way to beef them up (pardon the pun) was too add more beef flavor. So that's what I did and I think it makes a big difference. Now, if you don't have base, you can use bouillon, but since it does have more salt, I'd leave out the dash of salt called for in the recipe.

You can use your favorite spaghetti sauce or the one I've included here.


1 lb. ground beef
3/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
1 tsp. beef base or bouillon or 1 bouillon cube
1/4 cup dehydrated onion
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. dried basil
dash of salt

2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes with basil and garlic (Italian style)
1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. fennel seed (optional)
1/4 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil

Pour 2 cans of Italian style tomatoes into a blender and puree.

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat and saute onion and garlic until onion is tender. Add pureed tomatoes, petite diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Stir in salt, sugar, pepper, fennel, thyme, oregano, and basil and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30-45 minutes stirring occasionally.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with cooking spray. In a microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl, heat milk for 30 seconds or until warm. Add beef base or bouillon and stir until dissolved. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, bread crumbs, Parmesan, egg, milk mixture, dehydrated onion, garlic powder, pepper, parsley, oregano, basil, and dash of salt until thoroughly mixed (easiest to do with your hands). Roll into 2-inch balls and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until browned. Add meatballs to sauce and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

Serve with 1 (16 oz) box of spaghetti; cooked, rinsed, and drained.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Green Chili Enchilada Casserole

This is another version of chicken enchilada casserole. Much easier than rolling up individual enchiladas. If you are not a fan of green enchilada sauce, this casserole is not for you. I didn't care for this the first time I made it and so this time around I made a few changes, including adding some cottage cheese, and now I like it a lot.

adapted from Quick and Easy Green Chile Chicken Enchilada Casserole on

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (approx 6 cups)
18 corn tortillas
1 (28 oz) can green chili enchilada sauce
2 cups (8 oz) shredded Mexican cheese blend (or Colby-Jack)
1 cup sour cream
2/3 cup cottage cheese
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine sour cream, cottage cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Fold in chicken.

Pour a small amount of enchilada sauce in bottom of 9x13 baking dish and spread to cover. Place 6 tortillas over sauce (tortillas will overlap), and cover with half of chicken mixture. Pour 1/3 of enchilada sauce over chicken and then sprinkle with 1/3 of cheese. Add 6 more tortillas, last half of chicken mixture, another 1/3 of enchilada sauce, and another 1/3 of cheese. Top with remaining 6 tortillas and spread with remaining enchilada sauce. Sprinkle with last 1/3 of cheese.

Bake for 45 minutes.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Dilly Potato Salad

Here's a simple potato salad for a picnic or barbecue. Something different from the usual eggs, mustard, and celery variety (that I don't care for much myself). The recipe makes a lot (12 servings), so you can cut it in half if you're only serving 6.

adapted from Mom's Dill Potato Salad on

3 lbs. new red potatoes
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp. dried dill weed
4 green onions, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender but still firm. Drain and cool in an ice water bath for about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together mayo and sour cream. Add dill weed, onions, and salt and pepper as desired (I like a lot of pepper).

Leaving skins on, cut potatoes into 1-inch chunks. Fold potatoes into mayo mixture. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight for flavors to mingle.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Barbecue Ribs

You can make tender, fall off the bone ribs at home. The secret to getting the meat so tender? Boiling the ribs before you grill 'em. I know, it sounds gross, but it works.

You can use your favorite barbecue sauce or the one I've included here. For the most flavor, marinate the ribs overnight. (But a couple of hours in the fridge will be fine, too.) Since the ribs are already cooked when you marinate them in the barbecue sauce, there is no risk of passing on bacteria when you baste the ribs with the same sauce as you grill.


5-6 lbs. pork loin back ribs or spare ribs
barbecue sauce

Cut ribs into 6-inch slabs. Place ribs in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour or until meat is tender but not quite falling off the bone. Remove ribs to a large casserole dish and let cool. Slather with barbecue sauce, cover with plastic wrap and marinate in fridge for 2-3 hours or overnight.

Remove ribs from refrigerator and let stand at room temp for 15 minutes. Lightly coat grill with cooking spray. Preheat grill to med-high heat. Grill ribs 10 - 20 minutes, or until well-browned, basting with sauce and turning frequently.

adapted from Barbequed Pork Ribs on

1/4 cup butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. liquid smoke
1 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic in butter until the onion is tender; remove from heat. In a blender, combine vinegar, water, ketchup, honey, brown sugar, liquid smoke, and lemon juice. Pour in onion mixture and puree. Return mixture to saucepan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Brownie Fruit Pizza

I made this for our Memorial Day dessert. It's somewhat patriotic with the berries and topping making it red, white, and blue. I actually prefer it to fruit pizzas made with a sugar cookie crust because it seems less sugary and you have the added bonus of chocolate.

My round pizza pan is in a box somewhere in storage, so I made this with a shallow 10x15 cookie sheet (baked for about 18 minutes in my convection oven). Whichever kind of pan you use, just be careful of cooking time. The larger the pan, the less cooking time. You just don't want to overcook the brownies because then they taste nasty.

Make sure the brownie mix you purchase is for a 9x13 size so you have enough batter. I like Betty Crocker's Dark Chocolate brownie mix.

adapted from

1 box brownie mix (and everything needed to make it)
2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
3-4 cups fresh sliced fruit (such as strawberries, kiwi, blueberries, raspberries, etc.)
1/2 cup apple jelly, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or 325 for a dark or nonstick pan). Grease bottom only of a 12-inch round pizza pan. Prepare brownie batter according to package directions; spread evenly in pan. Bake 28-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted 2 inches from side of pan comes out clean or almost clean. Cool completely on a wire rack, about 1 hour.

In a small bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Spread mixture evenly over brownie base. Arrange berries over cream cheese mixture. (Optional: in a small bowl, whisk apple jelly until smooth. Brush over berries for a glossy look.) Refrigerate 1 hour or until chilled. Cut into wedges to serve. Store covered in refrigerator.