Saturday, July 23, 2011

Long Time, No Post

I am back from a 2 week (or longer) blogging hiatus. I have missed the blogging world.

Last week was spent in North Georgia where the lack of Internet prevented me from blogging. But don't worry, I made up for it by cooking and trying new recipes to share. And this busy week was spent catching up at work after a week away on vacation. Also, I hosted a Stella and Dot jewelry party on Wednesday. I have had fun but the only negative to taking a vacation is having to go back to work. It's exhausting!

My goals for next week include getting back on an exercise regime, losing 2 pounds, blogging about and eating yummy food, and cooking for Brandon and Hallie (I'll let you know how Goals 1 and 2 work out with Goals 3 and 4;). Next week may be Hallie's last week with us and I want to end it with spending time together. I will be so sad to see her leave. She has been a fun housemate this summer. I love you Hallie B!

I haven't decided which recipes I want to post for next week; I suppose it depends on my mood. Oh and be on the look out for a new theme day..."Make-shift Mondays". It should be interesting.

Blogs I Love

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Weigh Less Wednesday: Blueberry Streusal Muffins

You may have noticed a running theme for this week...yes, it's all about breakfast, which happens to be my FAVORITE meal of the day. When someone ask me what my favorite food is I usually reply "pancakes"--aka "fatcakes". I call them fatcakes because I love them so much that I can't stop eating and then after about fatcake #5 I begin to feel very fat. Regardless, I still love them and their calories along with other breakfast items, such as omelets, biscuits, bacon, and muffins.

With summer season comes fresh fruit and vegetables, which can be incorporated into a variety of breakfast entrees. For this post I almost decided to try a lighter version of blueberry "fatcakes" but I am going on vacation next week and would like to be able to fit into my clothes and bathing suits so I refrained and tried a wonderful lighter version of blueberry muffins. Thanks to our sweet neighbors, Meghan and Joe, who shared fresh blueberries that they picked over the weekend, I already had all of the ingredients on hand. I came straight home from work, skipped weight lifting and kickboxing classes to cook (and eat!) this delicious concoction. Thankfully they turned out beautifully! So here it is readers--Blueberry Streusal Muffins. Enjoy!

Blueberry Streusal Muffins
2 1/4 cups all-purpose/whole-wheat flour, divided*
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 cup sugar, divided
3/4 cups reduced-fat sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup fat-free skim milk, divided
2 cups fresh blueberries, washed and picked over
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 Tbsp brown sugar*

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place muffin liners in a 12-hole muffin tin. Lightly grease muffin liners with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat egg with 3/4 cup of sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add sour cream and beat until thoroughly combined; blend in vanilla extract.

Add half of flour mixture and half of milk to sugar mixture; beat until just combined. Add remaining flour mixture and milk; beat until smooth.

Fold in blueberries and fill each muffin liner about 3/4 full; set aside.

To make streusal topping, in a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup each of sugar and flour and brown sugar. Pour in melted butter and combine with fingertips. Divide crumb mixture over muffins; gently press into top of muffin batter with fingertips.

Bake until slightly golden and a toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Cool in pans for about 10 to 15 minutes and then transfer muffins onto racks to cool completely.

Who stole the muffin from the muffin tin? Jasper?

*I used half white flour and half whole-wheat flour just to add extra fiber to the muffins. The original recipe called for white flour. And it did not mention adding brown sugar to the topping but I thought it gave them a warm, golden sweetness.
Also, you can use frozen berries in this recipe but make sure they are thawed completely.

Recipe Adapted from Weight Watchers

Tasty Tuesday (a day late)--Puffy Cheese Cloud

Meet my Aunt "Skeeter". To you she's Marcelle...

Aunt "Skeeter", Mama, and I in 2010

My Aunt Skeeter is the epitome of Southern Lady. She is one of the best cooks I know, a wonderful example of true southern hospitality, and a warm, kind-hearted woman. She and my Uncle Riley are great people and I love them very much. They live in Niceville, Florida which is a fitting name for the town as its residents really are nice people!

Every spring, mama and I take a "girls trip" to Niceville to visit Aunt Skeeter and Uncle Riley. By the end of the trip we are sad to leave as we always have too much fun together. We like to shop in Destin, go to the beach, take cooking classes, and eat, eat, eat! But probably what we enjoy most is reading and sharing recipes. We always say that we are "fools" for a new cookbook or cooking magazines so we often resort to Barnes and Noble for the latest  Southern Living, Paula Deen, or Taste of the South special issue. In April when mama and I went down for our annual trip, one night we found ourselves sitting in Aunt Skeeter's HUGE pantry (yes, the two of us we able to sit comfortably and move about in her pantry!). We had a blast plundering thru her cookbooks and the various unusual canned food items that we'd never think of buying. That led to having Uncle Riley copy multiple irresistable recipes that we not leave Florida without. After that, Aunt Skeeter gave us a peek into one of china cabinets that housed some of the random entertaining pieces she has collected over the years. I had the opportunity to say "I would love to inherit that piece if your children don't want it." !!!

Like I mentioned earlier, Aunt Skeeter knows hospitality and she is a wonderful hostess. Usually when we arrive at her house, she is busy preparing dinner which likely is a dish she's been wanting to try; we proudly serve as her guinea pigs. Each night we are presented with a delicious meal that far exceeds that of any local restaurant around. 

So as I began thinking about this post, I experienced a problem--well, sort-of.  When I began thinking about which recipe of Aunt Skeeter's I wanted to share, I became overwhelmed with all of the great food we had on our most recent visit and those prior to. Everything was so delicious I didn't know what to choose. Then I had an "ah ha" moment and her Puffy Cheese Cloud popped into mind. Although we did not have this dish in April, we have made it multiple times for brunches, showers, Sunday school breakfasts, etc. It is a never-fail, crowd-pleasing recipe. And it is perfect for this post as each time I make it I always think about my Aunt Skeeter and how special she is to me. I love her very much and am blessed to have her as an aunt. Aunt Skeeter, I love you (and your delicious recipes!).

Puffy Cheese Cloud is a breakfast/brunch recipe that is a spin off of your run of the mill breakfast casserole. It's superb and its level of difficulty equals "easy". Don't let the water bath intimidate you because its what makes this casserole stand apart from the rest. Enjoy!

Puffy Cheese Cloud
16 slices white bread
8 slices American cheese
4 oz shredded sharp cheese
soft margarine
1 pound sausage (or ham), browned
6 eggs
1 quart whole milk
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Cut crusts off of bread. Spread 8 slices with margarine. Place in lightly greased 9"x13" baking dish butter side down. Lay cheese slices on top of bread. Top with browned meat. Sprinkle this layer with shredded cheese. Top with remaining 8 slices of buttered bread, butter side up.

Beat eggs, milk, salt, and pepper until combined. Pour egg mixture over bread (pour slowly to give the bread time to soak in mix). Cover and refrigerate over night. Remove from refrigerator at least 1 hour before cooking. Bake for 1 hour and 10-15 minutes in water bath* in preheated oven at 350 degrees. Let set 10 minutes before serving.

*Directions for water bath (basically it's just a larger pan/dish, filled with small amount of water, that holds your casserole-filled dish during baking):

Friday, July 1, 2011

Finally Friday

This has been a fun Friday. After work, I went to Best Buy to pick up our new computer and then came home to connect the iPad we've had in its box for three weeks. I've been in the office all night playing and have left only to grab a snack or drink (chips, salsa, and cookies was my dinner tonight!). Part of the fun has consisted of dowloading apps and iTunes. I have had a mental list of songs to download for a long time and finally the time has come! If you don't know me well my second love is music (falling closely behind cooking and food). Just wanted to share a song from a group Brandon and I recently discovered. They're called Fitz and the Tantrums. The song is "Money Grabber."