Snacks

Melt-in-your-mouth Blueberry Muffins

Hey everyone! It’s been a long while, I know. But, I’m back and I have something tasty to share.

It’s late August and soon the kids will be going back to school. The weather has actually started to cool off for us recently. Last week Austin and I took advantage of the cool weather and went blueberry picking at a farm about a 45 minute drive away. Wait! This is a thing, you ask? You can actually go somewhere and pick blueberries yourself? Well, where I live, in central PA, apparently, it is a thing.

We looked it up online and found Krasinski’s Blueberry Farm (you have to scroll down the page to find it). We thought… what can we do that is outdoors, inexpensive, gets us away from town, isn’t boring and provides a tasty treat?  Well, this ended up being a great decision.

Upon getting to the place we find there are endless rows of bountiful blueberry bushes.

Blueberry Bush

It’s a beautiful sight. We breathe in the air and immerse ourselves in endless stems of the blue yummy treats and start picking.

Ooh, I forgot to mention that we brought our own pails for the picking. If you don’t, you can purchase them there. The pail gets weighed and marked before actually picking, then that weight gets subtracted from full weight of the pail plus blueberries when you’re finished.Once we picked them, we had over 12 pounds of fresh berries! And we only paid $1.70 per lb. If we had bought this in the store, we would have spent around $50, but we only spent $29.25 at the farm! The below photo shows 6.5 lbs. in the bowl and a small 1 lb. blueberry container to the right (to show scale).

Fresh Picked Blueberries

So, you can see we had so much fun. We spent almost two hours picking berries. Time just flew. Families were there with kids and we could hear their chattering through the nearby bushes. They sounded like they were having fun. Afterwards, we felt great – like we had just hiked a scenic trail.

Now, what can you do with 12 lbs of blueberries, you ask? Good question. Some went to friends and family. Lots were just scarfed down by the handfuls. The first thing I made was blueberry muffins and below is the recipe. The next thing I made was blueberry ice cream… hopefully, I can find time to post that one soon.

Until then, enjoy the end of the summer.

Crumb Topping Muffin Pan

Blueberry Muffins

Melt-in-your-Mouth Blueberry Muffins

Melt-in-your-Mouth Blueberry Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 eggs
  • 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup white sugar ((for crust topping))
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour ((for crust topping))
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon fresh plain yogurt or sour cream ((to make them extra moist))

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Grease muffin cups tray or fill tray with cupcake liners
Combine 1 1/2 cups of flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder
Place vegetable oil and egg in a 1 cup measuring cup. Add enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this into the flour mixture.
Add blueberries, vanilla and sour cream (or yogurt)
Fill muffin or cupcake tin, filing each cup just to the top
In a separate bowl mix 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter and 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Mix with fork and sprinkle over muffin/cupcake tin.
Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until done.
Coconut Yogurt Parfait with Strawberries and Blackberries

Coconut Yogurt Parfait with Strawberries and Blackberries

It’s still winter…. ugh…

Do you need a break from the cold? An escape to a happy place, maybe a bit tropical?

Sometimes, that happy place involves coconut. Actually, I think all happy places should have an option for coconut.

I found Chobani coconut yogurt at the store the other day. I thought… hmm… this could work in a great smoothie or yogurt parfait. Then, I realized, I’ve never made a blackberry parfait and voila, here it is. I made it fancy, too, so I could share one with my sweetie.

I used graham crackers for the crumbly layers, but you can use oatmeal or other cereal, if you prefer.

Coconut Yogurt Parfait with Strawberry and Blackberry Compote

Coconut Yogurt Parfait with Strawberry and Blackberry Compote

Serves 2
Creamy coconut yogurt parfait with graham crackers and a fresh strawberry and blackberry compote. Yum!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups coconut yogurt
  • 1 cup fresh blackberries
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 1 cup graham crackers, crumbled
  • 2 mint leaves, for decoration

Directions

Scoop spoonfuls of yogurt into parfait glass (or wine glass) until the glass is 1/4 full.
Sprinkle in a 1/2 inch layer of graham cracker crumbs.
Scoop in another layer of yogurt until the glass is about halfway full.
Make another 1/2 inch layer of graham cracker crumbs.
Make another layer of yogurt, filling the glass up to almost full, leaving about an inch for the last layer of berry compote.
In a small bowl, mash up the blackberries until they are small chunks. Mix in the strawberries and honey until blended.
Add the berry compote as the last layer.
Serve cold and enjoy.
Poached Egg on Savory Breakfast Crostinis

Poached Egg on Savory Breakfast Crostinis

 

Hey everyone… quick update on my dad…

He’s doing better and better each day. He finished his second round of chemo a week ago and the doctors are now watching his white blood cell counts and waiting for them to go back up to a normal level. With leukemia, you have to kill off pretty much every blood cell; the cancerous ones AND the good ones. That’s the way the chemo works for my dad’s particular leukemia (AML subtype: M2). Once the counts are up, he can go home. Obviously, he’s getting very antsy being stuck in one place for more than a month. Half of my last posts I write from the hospital room while he’s sleeping. Please send prayers out to him. Here’s to hoping cancer’s butt is kicked!

Now, onto some yummy food…

Walking through the grocery store last night I spotted the half-off day-old bread rack. Jackpot! I love a good sale. On the rack was a small loaf of sliced Italian bread. One of my favorite things to do with semi-stale bread is to make crostinis. And breakfast crostinis are simply scintilating.

For this tasty treat I used whatever ingredients I had at home. Lately, it’s been easier to cook with the bare essentials since half of my week is spent driving back and forth to the hospital to see dad, on top of work and spending time with the boyfriend. I haven’t even looked at my laundry basket yet – yikes!

A quick look in the fridge turned up an almost-too-ripe beefsteak tomato, some garlic cloves, a bag of spring leaf veggies, mushrooms, and part skim ricotta cheese. Okay.. hold the phone… skim ricotta? Ewwww… I must have grabbed this without reading the whole label. I almost NEVER buy skim anything — I figure dairy products were meant to be tasty with that delicious extra fat and if I want to be fit, I’ll just eat that great stuff in moderation and excersize. Skim = blech! Okay… done ranting. :)

Poached Eggs on Cheese Crostini

Cheese Garlic Tomato Crostiis

Cheese Tomato an Garlic Crostinis

 

Cheese, Tomato, Mushroom and Garlic Crostinis Topped with Poached Egg

Ingredients

  • 1 sliced tomato, medium - large size
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 handful fresh grated cheese of your choice
  • 1 handful small baby bella or other small mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 loaf of bread, sliced (I used Italian, but french baguettes work great as does any type of small loaf)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon egg
  • 2 tablespoons ricotta cheese

Directions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F
Layout sliced bread on a cookie baking sheet, laying each piece flat and next to each other. You may need more than one cookie sheet depending on how many crostinis you want to make.
Drizzle about 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil on each slice. It's okay if some of it ends up sliding off the bread onto the pan.
Spread ricotta cheese on each slice.
Sprinkle other ingredients (cheese, mushrooms, garlic, tomatoes) on each slice.
Put pan in oven and bake for 10 minute or until cheese is bubbling and edges of bread are golden brown. Enjoy!

Note

This recipe serves one. If you want more egg-topped crostinis, just add more eggs. Also, you can wing it with the ingredients. I just used what I had on hand. Things like sauteed onions or grilled brocoli or kale are also wonderful on crostinis. Have fun!

 

 

The best mashed potatoes you will ever eat! (and a side of apple cinnamon pork)

The best mashed potatoes you will ever eat! (and a side of apple cinnamon pork)

 

Wow! I finally have a second to sit down. With my dad being in the hospital the last few weeks, my life has been a mix of work and spending nights with him. He’s had two rounds of chemo treatments (both were 7 days straight) that will hopefully put his acute myeloid leukemia (subtype: M2) into remission. Its been a rough road with lots of ups and downs and this morning dad got a preliminary report from the doctor saying he may be able to go home in less than two weeks. He hasn’t looked so happy in a while. I know he can’t wait to get better and go home. His friends at church miss him and even a few have some questions about what to expect with chemo treatments. One has a daughter who will need chemo soon. It breaks my heart to hear of kids with cancer.

Speaking of kids and cancer…. I almost forgot. This past weekend was Penn State’s THON.  If you  don’t know what THON is, you are in for a treat. It’s a massive year-long fundraising effort done by college students that culminates in a 46-hour no sleep, no sitting dance marathon. All the money goes to the Four Diamonds Fund which helps kids and families of kids with cancer and just happens to be the largest student-run philanthropy in the world!  There is a place in my heart forever for THON. I danced as a student and it was one of the hardest most rewarding weekends of my life. Seeing the faces of the kids who’ve been helped by the fundraising (which helped them get treatments), is one of the best feelings in the world.

Penn State THON 2014 Results

Since it’s a fundraiser, each year the students create a promo video to help spread the word. The executive director of THON said this at the end: “We always say that the greatest dance marathon will be the one that we won’t have to have. Until then, until all childhood cancer is cured, we will keep dancing, keep THONing and keep fighting for the kids.”

Awwww….

Since my dad got diagnosed with leukemia, I’ve become obsessed with finding foods that are high in antioxidants (foods that can help prevent cancer from forming or spreading). Lots of foods that I thought were high in antioxidants were broccoli, cranberries, oranges, and any of the green veggies. Interestingly, when I did a search for “antioxidant foods” I found a top 20 list on WebMD.com that had some items that surprised me, like artichokes, pecans and various beans. But, things like broccoli and green veggies were not on it. Hmmm…. Maybe they are just not as potent as the other items.

Russet potatoes were on the list, however, and I love using these for mashed potatoes. Another one on the list: Granny Smith apples. I made the apple cinnamon pork marinade with these apples. Actually, I made the meal before I found the WebMD list, so I didn’t even know those type of apples or potatoes were high in antioxidants. The things you learn on the web. :)

I’ve never made a pork marinade before and I was very pleasantly surprised by the outcome. The pork was juicy and tender and really went well with the apples and cinnamon. I have to say it was definitely boyfriend-approved, too!  He didn’t speak while we dined, which usually means he’s busy devouring something yummy.

Recipes for both apple cinnamon marinated pork and creamy mashed potatoes are below.

I know my dad would love these mashed potatoes and once he gets better, I’ll make him a heaping plateful!

Enjoy!

Apple Cinnamon Marinated Broiled Pork with Garlic Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Mashed Potatoes

Apple Cinnamon Broiled Pork

Apple Cinnamon Marinated Broiled Pork and Garlic Creamy Mashed Potatoes

Apple Cinnamon Pork Tenderloins (Marinated)

Perfect, juicy, pork tenderloins baked in an apple cinnamon marinade.

Ingredients

  • 2 sliced or cut pork tenderloins
  • 3 small-medium granny smith apples (golden delicious work wonderfully, as well)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup oil (I used olive oil, but any vegetable oil will work)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon apple cidar vinegar (or white wine)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Chop apples in to small peices
Put thawed pork tenderloins in a medium or large ziplock bag
Add apples, garlic, (olive) vegetable oil, cinnamon, salt and vinegar to the bag
Seal bag and gently toss it around to cover the pork with the marinade
Store bag in fridge for 4-12 hours. The longer it marinades, the better.
When ready, place pork tenderloins and marinade sauce in a glass (pyrex) or metal square cooking pan (at least 2 inches deep)
Poor 1 cup of water in the pan and place in oven
Cook for 10 - 15 minutes or until meat is a tan color (not pink) on the inside

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

The best creamy mashed potatoes you will ever have!

Ingredients

  • 6 small russet potatoes, diced
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon ranch dressing (I used ranch dressing, but dried ranch dressing powder also works)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 pinches pepper, to taste
  • 2 oz. cheddar cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground corriander (this is optional, but I think it really gives it a special something)
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions

Dice potatoes and boil for 10 - 15 minutes, or until soft.
chop cheese and garlic into small pieces.
Once potatoes are boiled, pour into strainer.
Put potatoes and all other ingredients in a large bowl
Mix well until ingredients are blended and potatoes are smooth. Serve and enjoy!
Watchin’ the Sochi Olympics and Sippin’ Tea

Watchin’ the Sochi Olympics and Sippin’ Tea

I found these little gems at my local Goodwill last week… tiny international-themed glass mugs. Aren’t they cute? There they were on the shelf, mixed with other odds and ends, calling out to me. And they were only 69 cents each. How could I say no?

Since the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics are on, I thought how cute would these be to show off a little international flair while sippin’ some tea! The tea I used is one of my favorites: Yogi Honey Lemon Throat Comfort tea.  This stuff is great for a sore throat, and even though my throat didn’t hurt, I was craving lemon.

I live in the north and it’s been snowing like crazy all day.  To give you an idea of how bad, we’re getting this storm. (and, yes, it’s that bad… we have about 9 inches of snow on the ground right now).  Luckily, I was able to leave work early and snuggle up on the couch and catch up on the Olympics. I love this time of year and love the winter Olympics. Hope you’re enjoying them, too!

Sochi Olympics 2014 International Mug Honey Lemon Tea

 

Sochi Olympics 2014 International Mug Honey Lemon Tea

 

 

 

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