Sticky Buns

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Sticky buns have been one of our favorite desserts for ages. We’ve had them from a delicious place at the beach, local bakeries after Sunday church, and grilled and then topped with ice cream at Penn State. That’s a pretty delicious way to eat them, but we only have had “grilled stickies” a couple times because we don’t live around there (some relatives do). How can anyone resist the tender dough rolled up with cinnamon sugar and then topped with a gooey, caramel-like sauce? We can’t!

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Luckily, our dad loves them as much as we do so he fully supported them being his father’s day treat. We actually ended up making them the day after because 1) our grandparents were coming over for lunch on Sunday so we didn’t really have time and 2) our youngest brother Henry, who’s 7, ended up in the ER after running into a plate (?) and getting a bad cut. It wasn’t really the best father’s day for our dad!

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Hopefully these homemade sticky buns made up for it! They were soft, sticky (of course), sweet, and buttery. They were perfect, and I doubt we will ever try another sticky bun recipe! The recipe looks like it has a lot of steps, but everything is pretty easy. The topping is addictive and can be made with either walnuts or pecans. Either way is delicious! By the way, I have a feeling the topping would be excellent on top of some vanilla ice cream. That reminds me, we really need to post a few ice cream recipes soon, because before we know it, the summer will have flown by!

Sticky Buns

Makes 12-16 buns, depending on size

Recipe from The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook

Ingredients

For the dough:

3 large eggs, at room temperature

3/4 cup buttermilk at room temperature

1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons table salt

2 1/4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yest

4 1/4 cups (21 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting work surface

6 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled until warm

For the caramel glaze:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) packed light brown sugar

3 tablespoons light corn syrup

2 tablespoons heavy cream

Pinch table salt

For the cinnamon sugar filling:

3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Pinch table salt

1 tablespoon unsalted butter , melted

For the pecan (or walnut, if you prefer) topping:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) packed light brown sugar

3 tablespoons corn syrup , light or dark

Pinch table salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup (3 ounces) pecans or walnuts, toasted in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant and browned, about 5 minutes, then chopped

Directions

For the dough:

In bowl of standing mixer, whisk eggs to combine; add buttermilk and whisk to combine. Whisk in sugar, salt, and yeast. Add about 2 cups flour and butter; stir with wooden spoon or rubber spatula until evenly moistened and combined. Add all but about 1/4 cup remaining flour and knead with dough hook at low speed 5 minutes. Check consistency of dough (dough should feel soft and moist but should not be wet and sticky; add more flour, if necessary); knead at low speed 5 minutes longer (dough should clear sides of bowl but stick to bottom). Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface; knead by hand about 1 minute to ensure that dough is uniform (dough should not stick to work surface during hand kneading; if it does stick, knead in additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time. We ended up adding additional flour).

Lightly spray large bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to bowl, spray dough lightly with cooking spray, then cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set in warm, draft free spot until doubled in volume, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

For the glaze:

Meanwhile, combine all ingredients for glaze in small saucepan; cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until butter is melted and mixture is thoroughly combined. Pour mixture into nonstick metal 13- by9-inch baking dish; using rubber spatula, spread mixture to cover surface of baking dish. Set baking dish aside.

To assemble:

For filling, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in small bowl and mix until thoroughly combined, using fingers to break up sugar lumps; set aside. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Gently shape dough into rough rectangle with long side nearest you. Lightly flour dough and roll to 16 by 12-inch rectangle. Brush dough with 1 tablespoon melted butter, leaving 1/2-inch border along top edge; with butter remaining on brush, brush sides of baking dish. Sprinkle filling mixture over dough, leaving 3/4-inch border along top edge; smooth filling in even layer with hand, then gently press mixture into dough to adhere. Beginning with long edge nearest you, roll dough into taut cylinder. Firmly pinch seam to seal and roll cylinder seam side down. Very gently stretch to cylinder of even diameter and 18-inch length; push ends in to create even thickness. Using serrated knife and gentle sawing motion, slice cylinder in half, then slice each half in half again to create evenly sized quarters. Slice each quarter evenly into thirds, yielding 12 buns (or, like us, you can cut it into 16 pieces- we have 8 people in our family, and thought it would make more sense to divide the dough into an amount divisible by 8).

Arrange buns cut side down in prepared baking dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap and set in warm, draft-free spot until puffy and pressed against one another, about 1 1/2 hours.

To bake, adjust oven rack to middle position, place baking stone on rack, and heat oven to 350 degrees. Bake buns for  25-30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes; invert onto rimmed baking sheet, large rectangular platter, or cutting board. With rubber spatula, scrape any glaze remaining in baking dish onto buns; let cool while making pecan topping. Note: we served ours straight out of the pan because we didn’t want to dirty another dish :). They should be delightful either way you serve them!

For the topping:

Combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt in small saucepan and bring to simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally to thoroughly combine. Off heat, stir in vanilla and pecans until pecans are evenly coated. Using soup spoon, spoon heaping tablespoon nuts and topping over center of each sticky bun. Continue to cool until sticky buns are warm, 15 to 20 minutes. Pull apart or use serrated knife to cut apart sticky buns; serve.

Grilled Ratatouille Muffaletta Sandwich

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Our family has a subscription to Martha Stewart Living Magazine, and the two of us and our mom love it because it has beautiful things in it- gorgeous fashion tips, classy decor, and pictures with the most golden light you ever saw. They also make whipping up a fancy 3-course meal complete with a decorated tables look like it makes no mess whatsoever (lies. Just ask our mom, and she will tell you. And we’re somewhat tidy cooks too!). Many issues come with an Everyday Food insert that contains simpler recipes that are more practical for your typical summer meal, something that you don’t need cleaning staff in order to make.

Well, these magazines have a  tendency of stacking up after being paged through briefly and then put aside for when we have time to properly read them. That never seems to happen. So, we spent an afternoon a few days ago sorting for a few hours through the couple hundred magazines or so that we had in a giant pile by my desk that was starting to turn into an actual avalanche. I wish I was kidding, but every time I put something on top of the stack the whole pile would slowly slide down and collapse. It would have been a manageable task to sort through if we subscribed just to Living, but sadly, no (the school magazine drive basically requires every student to order 6 magazines each school year). It was full of Teen Vogue, Cook’s Illustrated, Cooking Light,  and Bon Appetit as well. Side note: do you notice a pattern with our magazine subscriptions? Thankfully the horrible job is done now, and we found some great recipes!

Our new organized binder full of recipes- before meets after: (Note: the picture on the left is nowhere near an accurate representation of the number of magazines, trust me. This picture is post-collapse!)

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This sandwich was one of the great rediscovered recipes, even though it’s from the most recent issue and is therefore not a found artifact from ’09. Still, it’s a very good summer dinner, when all these vegetables are in season and grilling seems like a better idea than turning on the oven. These sandwiches are very healthy but do not lack flavor! The grilled tomatoes were especially good. We opted to add feta cheese to our sandwiches, which added a very nice touch. Try this out for a satisfying vegetarian meal this summer!

P.S. Three things: 1) We forgot to hollow out the insides of the bread, making these sandwiches more challenging to eat. Don’t forget like us! 2)If you’re curious what muffaletta is, Wikipedia has your answer. 3) Next pile to tackle? College mail! Boy, will that one be fun!

Grilled Ratatouille Muffaletta Sandwich

Adapted slightly from Everyday Cooking by Martha Stewart

Makes 6 sandwiches

Ingredients

1 medium eggplant, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds

Coarse salt

1/2 cup pitted mixed olives, such as Kalamata and Cerignola (or basic black, if you prefer milder olives)

2 pepperoncini, stemmed

1/2 cup fresh parsley

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for grilling

4 small tomatoes (1 pound), sliced into 1/2-inch rounds

1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise 1/4-inch-thick

1 jar (12 ounces) roasted red peppers, patted dry (or, if you make your own like us, about 1 1/2 peppers)

1 8-inch round loaf rustic bread, split horizontally and hollowed out

Crumbled feta cheese, for serving

Directions

In a bowl, toss eggplant with 3/4 teaspoon salt. Let rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse olives, pepperoncini, and parsley until very finely chopped. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in mayonnaise and garlic.

Heat a grill to medium. Clean and lightly oil hot grill. Toss eggplant, tomatoes, and zucchini with olive oil and season with salt to taste. Grill, turning frequently, until tender and slightly charred, about 4 minutes for tomatoes and about 7 minutes each for eggplant and zucchini (just start with the eggplant and zucchini; then, after 3 minutes, put the tomatoes on and then the vegetables will all be done at the same time).

Spread bread with olive mayonnaise. Assemble sandwich with peppers, eggplant, zucchini, and tomatoes. Serve immediately or wrap in plastic and refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Enjoy!

Nectarine Galette

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What is your favorite summer dessert? For myself (Leah), I would have  to say ice cream. I usually eat my ice cream either plain or loaded up with as many toppings as possible. However, I occasionally get a craving for a fruit-based dessert like a cobbler  or a pie- I’m not a huge fan of crisps. One fruity dessert that we hadn’t tried before now was a galette, which is a free-formed pie. It also has a higher crust/fruit ratio than a traditional pie. Some beautiful nectarines sitting on the counter finally gave us the push we needed to try making one. The galette was, of course, delicious. How can you go wrong with a homemade crust and perfectly ripe fruit? This galette gets an extra-special touch from a layer of ground almonds (we used almond meal) and sugar between the fruit and the crust. It helps the galette from getting too messy and it adds a hint of almond flavor. I think it’s safe to say that we will be making up for lost time by baking many more galettes this summer. This particular recipe would work really well with peaches. We’ve been eyeing a cherry galette for a while, and apple sounds great as well. The question is, which one to make next?

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Nectarine Galette

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen, originally from Chez Panisse Fruit

Serves about 6-8

Ingredients:

For the crust:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoons sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons (3 ounces) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2–inch cubes

For the filling:

2 tablespoons ground almonds or almond meal

1 tablespoon flour

1/4 cup, 3 tablespoons, and 1 teaspoon sugar (sorry about the strange measurements, but it’s the perfect amount!)

1 and 1/2 pounds ripe nectarines (about 4-5)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Directions:

For the crust:

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Using your fingers, two knives, or a pastry blender, mix the butter into the dough until it is the texture of coarse cornmeal. It should still have a few small lumps in it. Add four tablespoons ice water to the mixture, using a rubber spatula to combine everything. Form the dough into a mound and knead it together gently for a few seconds.If  it is still crumbly, add a little more ice water a tablespoon at a time. Form the dough into a flat disk and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or freeze for 15.

To roll out, put the disk of dough on a square sheet of parchment paper. Dust both the dough and a rolling pin lightly with flour and roll into a 14-inch, 1/8-inch thick circle. Transfer to a baking sheet and refrigerate for 30 minutes or freeze for 15.

To make the galette:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with a pizza stone or an overturned baking sheet in the middle of the oven. Meanwhile, mix together the almond meal, flour, and 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Wash your nectarines and slice (unpeeled) into 8 wedges. A hint for getting the two halves of the nectarine apart: slice on top of the small “seam” that runs down the side of the fruit. The pieces will come apart easily. Just remove the pit and slice! Combine your sliced nectarines and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Remove the dough from the freezer and top with the almond mixture, leaving about a 2-inch border. Arrange your nectarine slices in tight concentric circles, making sure to leave the 2-inch border bare. Fold the border up over the edge of the fruit, crimping as you need to and making sure there are no holes in the dough.

Brush the border with melted butter and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Transfer the galette to a pizza stone and bake for about 40-50 minutes (start checking at around 35) or until the crust is lightly brown and the fruit is starting to caramelize. Slide it onto a cooling rack and let it cool for at least 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

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The two of us and cinnamon swirl bread go way back. As we have mentioned before on multiple occasions, our mom didn’t really buy processed treats frequently when we were little. This was one of our few store bought “treats.” Toasted with a little butter, it was always perfect. The past few years neither of us have really loved the store bought kind, though. It does not have a lot of cinnamon flavor so it is rather bland. However, our two youngest brothers are obsessed with it. The two of them can easily go through a loaf in a day. That’s a lot of bread. Since they love it so much, and because we wanted to see if it would be better homemade, we decided to try it. We didn’t have to convince ourselves too much  because yeast breads are our favorite things to make. There is something so fun about watching the dough puff up and then getting to work with it. And then, obviously, eating those delicious carbs (which is both a good and bad thing, although probably mostly bad).

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So, how did this bread turn out? Very well! It did not lack in cinnamon flavor at all and had the perfect amount of sweetness. The bread itself was soft and tender. The dough was a little sticky at first, so we had to add a bit of extra flour. Our littlest brother, Henry, enjoyed playing with the “fluffy” (his words) dough. He punched it down after the first rise! The swirl turned out wonderfully despite a not-floured-enough counter! We decided to eat it the same way we did when we were little: toasted with butter. If it isn’t too hot your way this weekend, we highly recommend making some of this bread!

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Makes 1 loaf

Recipe from the Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook

Ingredients:

Dough:

1/2 milk, heated to 110 degrees

1/2 cup water, heated to 110 degrees

2 eggs at room temperature

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

3 1/4- 3 3/4 cups (16 1/4 to 18 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour

1/3 cup (2 1/3 ounces) sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Filling and Glaze:

1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) sugar

5 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons milk

1 large egg beaten with 2 teaspoons milk

Directions:

Dough:

In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, whisk milk, water, eggs, and melted butter together. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine 3 1/4 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt on low speed. Slowly add the milk mixture on low speed and let come together. This will take about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and satiny, about 10 minutes. Check after about 4 minutes to see if the dough seems too sticky- if the dough is only sticking to the bottom of the bowl, it is fine. If not, add extra flour 2 tablespoons at a time. We needed to add the full amount. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form a smooth, round ball, about 15 seconds. Place the dough in a large, greased bowl, cover tightly with greased plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature until it has doubled in size, about 2-2 1/2 hours.

Meanwhile, grease a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan. Combine the sugar and the cinnamon in a small bowl. Transfer the bowl to a lightly floured counter and press into an 18 by 8-inch rectangle. Make sure the short side is facing you. Brush the dough heavily with the milk, leaving a 1/2-inch border at the bottom edge. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Roll the dough toward you in a tight cylinder, keeping it firm by tucking it under itself. Pinch the seam shut, and place the loaf seam side down into the prepared pan. Cover loosely with greased plastic wrap, and let it rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, about 90 minutes. The top of the loaf should rise about 1 inch over the edge of the pan. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and put the oven rack in the middle position.

Brush the egg mixture over the loaf. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the loaf registers 195 degrees, about 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan, return to the rack, and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours, before slicing and serving. The bread can be frozen up to a month if wrapped in plastic wrap and foil. Enjoy!

Key Lime Pie

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Sorry about the ugly uneven crust! I promise it wasn’t like that originally; unfortunately, this was the last slice in the pan and it had gotten knocked around a bit and got broken. But it still tasted great!

Who doesn’t love a good slice of pie? My guess is no one, and anyone who thinks he or she dislikes it has probably not had good pie! They’ve probably had this kind of pie (this article is hilarious, and so is The Onion in general). Key lime pie has always been a favorite in our house, especially since our grandmom loves it so much. In fact, we made her this key lime cream cake last year for her birthday! (Yes, it’s good!) There are two reasons we like making this pie: 1) It tastes great! Graham cracker crust is usually the sign of a good pie and 2) It’s easy! No pastry making, no fruit to chop nicely. So simple, but so good.

Of course, you can take this pie in a variety of directions to deviate from the basic slice shown above. Top it with whipped cream or meringue (toasted, of course) or stir in blueberries or raspberries before baking. We love it as is, but you really cannot go wrong with raspberries and whipped cream, I promise. Nor can you go wrong with the pie, unless, of course, you overcook the crust (referencing the article linked above, President Obama “recommends covering the edges with foil.” ). Served chilled out of the fridge, this pie is perfect for summer and every season in between. Enjoy!

Key Lime Pie

Recipe from Nellie & Joe’s Famous Lime Juice, crust from Cook’s Illustrated

Makes 1 standard pie, or about 8 slices

Ingredients

For the crust: (It is worth making your own crust! The flavor is much better.)

8 whole graham crackers, broken into 1-inch pieces

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

3 tablespoons sugar

For the pie filling: 

14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup key lime juice (we use Nellie & Joe’s, which is available in the juice section of our grocery store. It is wonderful and is actual lime juice, and it doesn’t require standing around squeezing tons of limes)

Directions

For the crust:

Put oven rack in middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Process graham crackers in a food processor for 30 seconds, or until small and even crumbs are formed. Pour in melted butter and sugar and pulse 5 times to combine.

Dump mixture into a 9-inch pie plate and use the bottom of a cup to press crumbs into a evenly distributed layer on the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Bake until lightly browned, about 13 to 18 minutes. Let cool.

For the pie:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, and lime juice. Whisk until smooth.

Pour filling into prepared and cooled crust and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until set (filling will still jiggle slightly, which is fine).  Let the pie cool for 10 minutes, then cover and refrigerate for several hours. Slice, top as desired,and serve. Enjoy!

 

Spicy Poblano Burgers with Pickled Red Onions and Chipotle Cream Sauce

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It’s about time that we put a burger recipe on our blog! Perfect time, too- just in time for summer grilling season. Despite what our blog might look like, we both appreciate a good burger now and then. If you are wondering, our favorite is a grilled burger topped with American cheese, caramelized onions, and bacon on a toasted bun. Heaven in a sandwich. This burger is definitely completely different from our favorite, but that is not a bad thing at all. Roasted poblano chiles are folder into your burger, which is made with low fat meat. Don’t worry, though- these burgers are not dry at all thanks to a bread-and-milk mixture that is added in. It’s a similar technique to meatballs. The burger is topped with a spicy, smoky chipotle cream sauce that is really easy to mix up. Then comes (almost) the best part- pickled onions. You might think that it’s an unnecessary step, but we think they really make the burger because their slight sweetness helps balance out all the spice. They are really easy to make- you just boil some vinegar, sugar, water, and jalapenos, stir in your onions, and that’s it! An easy and delicious topping that would be great on any burger.

These burgers have made rounds on lots of blogs, and it’s easy to see why. They are unique and delicious! By the way, the title wasn’t kidding- these are spicy burgers (in our opinion). If you are adverse to spicy foods we would recommend reducing the poblanos and putting a little less adobo sauce in the chipotle cream.

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Spicy Poblano Burgers with Pickled Red Onions and Chipotle Cream Sauce (Long name!)

Recipe from Cooking Light

Makes 4 burgers (we actually made it into 6 small ones, but only do that if you have somewhat substantial side dishes)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup rice vinegar

1/2 cup water

1 jalapeno pepper, halved lengthwise

2 1/2 cups thinly vertically sliced red onion (we used a mandolin)

1/2 cup light sour cream

1 tablespoon minced shallots

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

1 chipotle chile, chopped, in 2 teaspoons adobo sauce (You can find this near other Mexican food in your supermarket)

2 poblano chiles

1 tablespoon low-fat milk

1 (1-ounce) slice white bread, crusts removed, and torn into 1/2-inch pieces

3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro, divided

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

1 pound ground sirloin

4  hamburger buns, toasted

Lettuce

Directions:

For the pickled onions: Combine the sugar, vinegar, water, and jalapeno in a medium saucepan. Bring this mixture to a boil, and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add onions, remove from heat, and cover. Cool to room temperature, and store in the fridge until you are ready to use them.

For the chipotle cream sauce: Combine 1 1/2 tablespoons cilantro, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the chopped chipotle chile and the adobo sauce, sour cream, shallots, and lime juice.

For the burgers:  Preheat your boil. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place your poblano chiles on the sheet and broil for about 8 minutes, turning after 6 minutes, until blackened. Either seal the foil around them or place in a sealed gallon-sized plastic bag for 15 minutes. Peel the chiles, remove the seeds and membranes, and chop them.

Combine the bread and milk in a large bowl. Using a fork, mash it until it becomes a paste. Add the poblano chile, 1 1/2 tablespoons cilantro, cumin, coriander, paprika, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and beef. Mix it gently to combine. For 4 patties, making a nickel-sized indentation in the middle (this helps keep them flat). Grill or pan-fry for about 3 minutes per side, or until they are done to your liking. Serve the burgers on toasted buns with the chipotle cream sauce, pickled onions, and lettuce. Enjoy!

Note: you will have extra pickled onions- they would be great on sandwiches and other burgers!

 

White Chocolate-Mango Muffins

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When summer rolls around, muffins don’t generally come to peoples’ minds, mostly because no one feels like turning on the oven in the heat unless they have to (like for a birthday cake or some last-minute brownies/chocolate chip cookies that are suddenly necessary). Well, turn on your ovens, friends, because these muffins are amazing. While I could compare them to a cupcake, or state that these are basically the best muffins ever, those phrases are way too overused! So, thanks to Leah, we came up with this comparison: these taste like what mango cobbler would taste like (if it exists) but in muffin form. Hopefully that makes sense!

So, you should definitely make these muffins if you have mangoes sitting around, especially if they are 3/$1 mini mangoes that are a giant pain to slice when slightly underripe. Have I sold this recipe to you yet? That’s debatable, probably.

P.S. These would probably be really good with peaches as well!

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White Chocolate-Mango Muffins

Recipe from Confections of a Foodie Bride

Makes about 23 normal sized muffins, or 15 jumbo

Ingredients

3 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and softened

3/4 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt

1 cup diced mango

1 cup white chocolate chunks or chips

Coarse sugar, for sprinkling tops (optional, but only kind of. It adds a nice touch)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine the 3 cups of flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt in medium bowl. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the bowl as necessary. Add the vanilla extract and almond extract.

Beat in half of dry ingredients, then add a third of the yogurt. Add remaining dry ingredients in two additions, alternating with the yogurt, until combined.

Toss mango and white chocolate with the remaining 1 tablespoon of flour and use a spatula to evenly stir them in. Line a muffin pan with liners (or grease them all) and divide the batter evenly among the cups (we filled ours nearly to the top, and got 23 muffins). Sprinkle the tops lightly with coarse sugar (we recommend turbinado sugar)

Bake for 8 minutes at 400 degrees and then decrease oven temperature to 375 and bake for  approximately 12 more minutes until the muffins are golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the muffins cool for about 5 minutes in the pan before removing. Place them on a cooling rack to cool completely. They will keep for a few days at room temperature, but you can freeze them as well. Enjoy!

Spicy Bean Burrito

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I recently watched Julie & Julia for the first time, which is surprising considering it came out 4 years ago and it is a movie about cooking. While I wasn’t a huge fan of Julie (whiny and overly obsessed with Julia Child), I enjoyed the movie as a whole because Julia Child was pretty funny. It inspired me in two ways: go to Paris someday and get Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  Don’t worry though- we will not start giving all of you recipes for things like meat aspics, which are gelatin with various ingredients set in them. I appreciate the various rainbow of fruit jellos (topped with a little whipped cream), but savory ones? No thank you. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to cook through that whole book in a year. It must have been a lot of rich and fancy food, not to mention expensive and time-consuming.

As you can probably see from our blog, we appreciate the occasional unique food item and always like a kitchen challenge, but we also like to make some lighter and simpler recipes as well. This is one of those recipes. While it doesn’t look like much, it is surprisingly delicious. To us, it sort of tastes like a meatless taco. Basically you make a spicy (but not too spicy, do not fear!), flavorful bean mixture and then load it with all sorts of toppings: lettuce, tomato, green onion, and sour cream. It’s an easy and relatively healthy meal that is perfect for summer!

Spicy Bean Burritos

Serves 6

Recipe from Annie’s Eats

Ingredients:

For the bean mixture:

2 tsp. canola or vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. minced chipotle in adobo sauce

1 tsp. ground cumin

¼ tsp. kosher salt

Dash of cayenne pepper

1/3 cup water, vegetable broth or chicken broth (note: we used water and it was great, so don’t feel like you have to use broth for extra flavor!)

1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

6 tbsp. salsa

For serving:

6 (9- or 10-inch) flour tortillas, warmed

Shredded Mexican or Cheddar cheese

Diced tomatoes

Shredded romaine lettuce

Chopped green onions

Sour cream (low fat is fine) or Greek yogurt

Directions:

In a small saucepan or a skillet, heat the canola oil over medium high heat . Add the garlic, chili powder, minced chipotle chiles, cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper. Heat for about 30-60 seconds or until fragrant. Add the beans and water or broth. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and let simmer until thick, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and lightly mash. Stir in the salsa.

Spread 1/3 cup of the bean mixture down the center of a tortilla. Top with cheese, lettuce, tomato, green onions, and sour cream. Roll it up burrito style, cut in half, and serve. Enjoy!

 

Strawberry Lime Cupcakes

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Leah and I arrived home from a school retreat on Friday, and our mom bought some cupcakes, a very rare occurrence in our house. They  were lemon with raspberry frosting and quite delicious, although we ate so much junk at the retreat that cupcakes weren’t the best choice ever! Our little brother dropped his on the floor (frosting went on the wall and into a heating vent, in case you were wondering) and became very sad afterwards. He requested we make cupcakes the next day, and we did, but with a lime base and strawberries since those are what we had in the fridge. Go figure, he refused to eat the icing, but we can assure you that the icing is delicious. Henry just has fruit issues sometimes!

These cupcakes are in the top 10 ever. The cake is very tender and fluffy thanks to both yogurt and six beaten egg whites in the batter. The batter was time-consuming to make since we had to separate eggs, zest/juice limes, and beat egg whites into a meringue but the results were more than worth it. The frosting is airy and light with lots of fresh strawberry flavor. This is the ideal summer cupcake, playing off of the margarita flavor combination but minus the alcohol. We had some fun little umbrella toothpicks that we topped the cupcakes with for fun accessories. Bring these to any sort of gathering this summer and we can bet they will be a hit!

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Strawberry Lime Cupcakes

Frosting and cake adapted from Sweetapolita

Makes 28 cupcakes

Ingredients

For the cake:

3/4 cup (170 g) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups (400 g) sugar

6 eggs, separated

2 cups (270 g) all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon lime juice

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 tablespoons lime zest

3/4 cup plain yogurt, at room temperature

For the frosting:

3 sticks + 2 tablespoons (375 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes

4 cups sifted (500 g) powdered sugar, sifted

1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon strawberry puree, strained if desired (puree in the food processor)

Directions

For the cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F . Line muffin pans with cupcake liners. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and 1 cup (200 g) of the sugar on medium high speed until very pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Lower mixer speed to medium low and add the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula after each addition. Add lime juice, vanilla, and lime zest and beat until combined, about 30 seconds. With mixer running, add dry ingredients. Add yogurt, scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is well mixed.

In another grease-free bowl, whip egg whites and remaining cup of sugar on medium high speed until they reach stiff peak stage (this will take 5-10 minutes depending on whether or not you use a stand mixer or hand mixer. We used a hand mixer, and it took a little bit under 10 minutes). Fold meringue into batter until just combined, and divide batter evenly in the muffin pans.

Bake cupcakes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for a couple minutes, and then transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

For the icing:

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed. Butter will become very pale and fluffy.

Add remaining ingredients, except strawberry puree, and mix on low speed for 1 minute, and then on medium speed for 6 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy and fluffy. Add strawberry puree and mix until incorporated. Fill a piping bag fitted with desired tip and frost each cupcake (we had just barely enough to frost 25 cupcakes doing the full swirl, and we were able to lightly frost the others). Serve and enjoy!

Note: The cupcakes can sit out for about 6 hours at room temperature, but we recommend refrigerating after that or refrigerating after an hour or so if it’s very hot out. The cupcakes are good for about 2 days.

 

Strawberry Swirl Cream Cheese Pound Cake

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Pound cake is a favorite in our family.  It’s the ideal cake- rich and dense with buttery vanilla flavor that needs no icing and requires minimal effort. Normally a basic pound cake is all that we make (although we occasionally stir in some chocolate chips) but every now and then it’s fun to make something extra special. In this case, special comes in the form of extra calories from cream cheese and a strawberry swirl which put the cake over the top! We’d never made a cream cheese pound cake before, and it will be hard to turn back to the regular kind. Cream cheese adds a depth of flavor and a super moist texture.

The strawberry swirl is just perfect. We decided to up the berries from the original recipe so that there would be no missing the flavor! Also, we wanted some fresh berry flavor instead of just cooked.  These would make nice cupcakes, too- put a spoonful of batter in each liner, a spoonful of the strawberry filling, and another spoonful of batter. This cake is perfect in pretty much every way, and we are convinced that anyone would like it!

P.S. The strawberry swirl was definitely redder/pinker in real life, and less purple. We had some weird lighting going on since it was cloudy outside, and we only shoot in natural light. Also, compared to the fresh berry in the picture, of course the swirl looks more purple!

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Strawberry Swirl Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Serves 12

Ingredients

For the strawberry swirl:
⅔ cup finely diced fresh strawberries plus 1/3 finely diced strawberries
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch

For the pound cake:
1½ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
6 eggs, at room temperature
3 cups cake flour, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt

Directions

For the strawberry swirl:

Combine the 2/3 cup strawberries, sugar, water and cornstarch in a small pan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes thick. Stir in 1/3 cup strawberries. Set aside and allow to cool before using (you can make the batter as the strawberry swirl cools).

For the pound cake:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a Bundt pan (we used a standard pan and the batter overflowed a bit- luckily we had a cookie sheet in the oven. Use a larger pan, or make a 1-2 cupcakes out of some of the batter).

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until combined and soft, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar continue to beat on medium speed, scraping the bowl a couple times with a spatula, until the mixture is  light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until each one is completely mixed in. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, reduce the speed to low, and gradually add the flour until it has all been combined. Add the vanilla extract and salt and mix on low speed until combined, about 1 minute.

Spoon about 2/3 of the cake batter into the prepared pan. Top evenly with the strawberry filling, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge of the pan. Use a small knife to gently swirl the strawberry filling with the cake batter several times. Spoon the remainder of the cake batter on top of the filling and gently spread to the edges of the pan, covering the filling.

Bake for 75 to 90 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before serving. Serve with a sprinkling of powdered sugar, slice, and enjoy! Store the cake in the fridge if sitting out for more than a couple days.