Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category

Honey Bun Cake

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Coffee cake is one of my favorite things to make when I am entertaining. This super rich Honey Bun cake was a new creation in my kitchen and was fittingly named after the sticky cinnamon roll that is covered in a thin sugar glaze known as the, “honey bun.” I knew that this sweet and decadent treat would make a fun addition to our family’s Easter brunch and would be a great way to end our celebration.

The combination of sour cream, canola oil, and the addition of poured honey over the cake creates a moist cake with a dense crumb that begs to be paired with a big glass of milk. Once pulled from the oven, a final decadent layer of a sugar glaze is drizzled on top, which hardens to create a thin sugar glaze over the top of the cake.

Our family absolutely loved  this cake and I would highly recommend it for a fun way to end any brunch or paired with a little decaf coffee for a great way to end an evening when entertaining.


Honey Bun Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 20
 
A delicious cake that tastes just like a sticky cinnamon sweet roll.
Ingredients
  • 1 package (18.25 ounces) plain yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup light sour cream
  • ¾ cup canola oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • For filling: ⅓ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • For sugar glaze: 2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13x9" pan with cooking spray.
  2. Place the cake mix, sour cream canola oil, and eggs in a mixing bowl.
  3. Blend on low speed for one minute. Increase speed and then beat another two minutes.
  4. Pour the batter into the pan and smooth with a spatula.
  5. Add your filling. Drizzle the honey on top of the batter, then sprinkle your brown sugar and cinnamon.
  6. Swirl your topping through the cake to blend them slightly.
  7. Bake for 38-40 minutes (mine took about 44 minutes).
  8. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool.
  9. Prepare your glaze of sugar, milk, and vanilla in a small bowl.
  10. Pour your glaze over the top of the hot cake and spread it over the cake with a spoon.
  11. Allow cake to cool for 20 minutes before cutting it into squares.
  12. Serve the cake warm with big glasses of milk.

Adapted from, “The Cake Mix Doctor,” Cookbook.

I also wanted to share with you some pictures of the things we did for our family brunch.

I picked up a supermarket bouquet of flowers for our centerpiece and then surrounded it with our eggs for egg decorating for the kids. I am loving my freshly painted white kitchen table and freshly reupholstered chairs. It is so nice not having to use a tablecloth when entertaining.

The kids indulged in Kool-Aid Egg Dying again this year and we loved the rich, vibrant shades of colors we were able to achieve.

I prefer to keep entertaining informal so the food was buffet style for our get together.  I served our Ham & Vegetable Strata, a Sausage & Cheese Egg Casserole, fresh fruit layered in a trifle bowl, my Bacon & Ranch Cheese Ball, the Honey Bun Cake (above), and orange juice or coffee for our guests. Everything was made the day before, except the cake, and it made entertaining on a busy Sunday morning very easy.

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Ham & Vegetable Breakfast Strata

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Throwing brunches is one of my favorite entertaining tricks for staying ahead on food preparation and staying under budget. A breakfast strata happens to be one of my favorite brunch dishes to prepare because all of the work can be done ahead of time, allowing me the chance to really be in the moment and visit with our guests.

Breakfast strata is nice and frugal because you can use what is in season and on sale to create this elegant dish. Better yet, you can use the leftover Easter ham and leftover vegetables in a fun and creative way. Even the bread can be stale or leftover from your Easter feasting. If you don’t have any bread to dig into, don’t forget my super awesome resource for day old bread. Between that and your Easter leftovers, you have the makings of a meal for mere pennies.

This strata is unlike my usual meat and cheese strata because it is filled with delicious fresh vegetables. I used zuchinni, mushrooms, and green peppers in mine, but you can mix up whatever variety of vegetables you love or have on hand. Leave the meat out to keep it vegetarian or add your favorite meat to add another dimension of flavor.

The creaminess in this comes from a tiny bit of half-and-half and a whole lot of cream cheese.

In my grandmother’s words, “Cream cheese just makes everything better.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Breakfast Strata
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 16
 
A breakfast strata that you can assemble the night before. This is a winner for any brunch or when entertaining. This makes two. Cut your recipe in half for just one strata.
Ingredients
  • 3 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 3 cups chopped zucchini
  • 2 cups cubed fully cooked ham
  • 1½ cups chopped green pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup half-and-half cream
  • 12 eggs
  • 4 cups cubed day-old bread
  • 3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, saute the mushrooms, zucchini, ham, green peppers and garlic in oil until vegetables are tender. Drain and pat dry; set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and cream until smooth.
  3. Beat in eggs.
  4. Stir in the bread, cheese, salt, pepper and vegetable mixture.
  5. Pour into two greased 11-in. x 7-in. x 2-in. baking dishes.
  6. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
  7. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.


We wanted to share with you a few of our favorite pictures from our Easter celebration. We hope you all had a wonderful Easter with your families!

What is your favorite way to use up those Easter dinner leftovers?

 

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Banana Crumb Muffins

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

I had a rainy day with nothing to do on the horizon. I put on a little Ella Fitzgerald on my laptop and headed into kitchen to spend the morning baking and thinking. I always do my best thinking in the kitchen, don’t you?  There is something about the mindless concentration of measuring, scooping, leveling, and mixing that appeals to me. With ripe bananas sitting on the counter, I knew these Banana Crumb Muffins would be the ideal treat for a sweet snack for my kids. Everyone has a favorite recipe for bananas and these Banana Crumb Muffins happen to be my favorite for putting those bananas to good use.

If you are looking for a bakery-worthy recipe, these muffins would be right at home in any bakery. The cinnamon and sugar streusel topping is really what makes these rather ordinary banana muffins stand out. The crunch from the topping with the moist cake makes these a winner in our family.

I love to double the crumb topping on these and keep this in my freezer. It is a fun addition to any of your favorite muffin recipes and makes the process of creating these just a little bit easier the second time around. When you want to use the crumb topping, just use a fork to break the topping up a bit and add as you normally would to your muffins.

Serve these delicious muffins with big glasses of ice cold milk for an easy and satisfying snack.


5.0 from 2 reviews
Banana Crumb Muffins
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
 
A light & fluffy banana muffin with a delicious cinnamon and brown sugar struesel topping.
Ingredients
  • Banana Crumb Muffins
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • ½ t salt
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • ¾ cups white sugar
  • 1 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ⅓ cup butter, melted
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • ⅛ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ t ground cinnamon
  • 1 T butter
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Lightly grease ten muffin cups or line with muffin papers.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter.
  5. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened.
  6. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
  7. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut the butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
  8. Sprinkle topping over muffins.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for eighteen to twenty minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of muffins comes out clean.

 

Looking for other delicious muffin recipes? I love these Healthy Banana & Blueberry Muffins, these Apple Pie Muffins, and my Lemony Blueberry Muffins for some other fun muffin alternatives!

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Baked Snickerdoodle Doughnuts

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Baked donuts have become our family’s new way of celebrating all of the special occasions in our life and I couldn’t wait to share with you my snickerdoodle donut creation I made this week. These baked snickerdoodle donuts are a fun & frugal family treat that are easy to create with a simple nonstick donut pan ( we have two of these Norpro 6-count Nonstick Donut Pans) and pantry ingredients.

My husband celebrated his birthday this past weekend and I wanted to create something special for his birthday morning. Every year I try to find a snickerdoodle treat for him since it is his favorite cookie in the whole world. We have enjoyed everything from the cookies to snickerdoodle cupcakes to snickerdoodle biscotti in our house. It seems no matter what version of snickerdoodles we are creating, we love them no matter what. Who could resist that cinnamon flavor?

I will admit the first batch of these was a giant fail, although they photographed beautifully. I played with different leavening agents that yielded gummy and heavy donuts.  I ended up baking a second round later in the week using cake flour and it helped to yield a much lighter donut and more the consistency I was after. It is proof that sometimes it takes a couple of tries before you get it right when baking.

Each donut was dipped in butter and then dipped in a bowl filled with sugar and cinnamon. The coating adds that crunch and more cinnamon flavor that remind me so much of our favorite snickerdoodle cookie. We all agreed, that these donuts were heavenly and there was not a single one left once I perfected the batch.


5.0 from 1 reviews
Baked Snickerdoodle Donuts
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
These baked cake donuts are full of cinnamon flavor with a crunchy cinnamon & sugar topping that you are sure to love!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups cake flour (or 1¾ cup all-purpose flour + ¼ cup cornstarch)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon & Sugar Topping: ¼ cup of butter, melted
  • ⅓ cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Whisk together the cake flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.
  3. Pour in the milk, eggs, butter and vanilla extract.
  4. Gently mix the ingredients together. Be careful not to over-mix the batter.
  5. Lightly grease a doughnut pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  6. Carefully spoon the batter into the doughnut pan, filling each one halfway (you should get twelve donuts total)
  7. Bake the doughnuts at 400 F for eight minutes. The donuts will remain light in color, but should spring back when pressed.
  8. Allow to cool for five minutes.
  9. Unmold each donut gently and lightly brush each with the 4 tablespoons of melted butter.
  10. Dunk in a bowl with the sugar and cinnamon mixed in.
  11. Shake off excess sugar and serve immediately.

 

Emily & Ethan presented their Dad with these fabulous donuts for his birthday treat. We all sang to him and Emily presented just one more gift for her dad…

Her front tooth.

It is too adorable for words.

Looking for really great baked donut recipes? I have you covered!

1. Baked Apple Pie Donuts

2. Baked Blueberry Donuts with a Lemon Glaze

3. Fluffy Cake Donuts with a Simple Glaze

4. Fluffy Baked Chocolate Donuts

5. Baked Pumpkin Donuts with Maple Syrup Frosting

6. Baked Glazed Gingerbread Donuts

What are your favorite ways to celebrate birthdays in your family? We would love to hear your family’s traditions for celebrating!

 

Submitted to Mouthwatering Mondays at A Southern Fairytale.

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Homemade Mint Truffle Coffee Creamer

Monday, February 27th, 2012

I can admit that I am a coffee addict. Coffee without good coffee creamer though makes me a little sad. My refrigerator is usually fully stocked for lots of coffee sipping, but I also love knowing that I can whip up a batch of homemade coffee creamer in my blender if I run out. Homemade coffee creamer is one of those recipes that you will find yourself relying upon when you have impromptu guests or when your grocery day is nowhere in sight.

The big joke in our house is that everyone is always praying that I run out of coffee creamer so that I will go to the grocery store. Frankly, we could run out of all of our food and as long as I still can have a good cup of coffee in the morning, then I am pretty much set for the entire day. I will just make do with what we have until the creamer runs out. About seven years ago, I ran across this recipe for making coffee creamer out of pantry ingredients. This was probably a very sad day in our house for the rest of the family because now I never have to go the grocery store.

Before I figured out how to make my Homemade Peppermint Mocha Drinks, I relied upon this delicious coffee creamer to satisfy my Peppermint Mocha cravings at home. This Homemade Mint Truffle Coffee Creamer has all of those elements that I love- chocolate, mint, and a rich creaminess. Of course, the creamer recipe can be modified for those of us that like to add half a cup of coffee creamer to every cup of their coffee to make the recipe more calorie conscious. Simply replace your regular sweetened condensed milk with the fat-free version and use skim milk instead of a fuller fat version of milk.

The recipe includes adding Peppermint Coffee Syrup to your creamer, but that is something that is easy to create with pantry ingredients and the recipe is available on the site. You certainly don’t have to create the peppermint syrup yourself, although it is really easy to do and made from pantry ingredients.  Simply call ahead to your favorite Starbucks joint and ask if they have a spare bottle of Peppermint Syrup that you can buy or if they can order it for you. Split a bottle with a friend if you don’t picture yourself using the whole bottle or save it for this summer to make my favorite DIY Peppermint Mocha Frappes that I make with frozen coffee ice cubes in the summer months.

Below I have provided a few other variations on this coffee creamer recipe to help you create other delicious coffee creations in your kitchen.


Homemade Mint Truffle Coffee Creamer
Author: 
Recipe type: Drink
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Skip the store the next time you run out of your favorite coffee creamer and whip up this easy homemade creamer made from pantry ingredients.
Ingredients
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1½ cups nonfat milk (or you can use prepared powdered milk)
  • 3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 3 Tablespoons peppermint coffee syrup (see above for a link to our homemade version)
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients together in your blender.
  2. Pour into a mason jar or your old coffee creamer dispenser. This creamer will keep up to two weeks in your fridge.
  3. Variations:
  4. French Vanilla Creamer- omit cocoa and peppermint syrup & add 1 tablespoon vanilla.
  5. Chocolate Almond Creamer-omit peppermint syrup and add 1 teaspoon almond extract.
  6. Amaretto Creamer- omit cocoa & peppermint & add ½ teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon almond extract.)

I am participating in Mouthwatering Mondays at A Southern Fairytale.

Are you a coffee creamer addict too? What does your favorite cup of coffee look like?

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“Save Your Green” Green Smoothie

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Everywhere I turn, I am seeing green smoothie recipes. Green smoothies have filled my blog reader and my Pinterest wall. My girlfriend first jumped on the green smoothie bandwagon and I shortly followed behind her. We would chat in the mornings, trying different fruits, different ratios, and then deciding the order that everything should go into the blender for the perfectly blended drink. Yes, our conversations tend to be quite fascinating only to us. That being said, I became hooked on green smoothies and I feel so much better about my day if I have had one of these in the morning.

That being said,  I did not want to spend our entire grocery budget on green smoothie ingredients or run from store to store to get ingredients that I couldn’t find at my usual store. Sure, I want to be healthy, but I also like to stay under my grocery budget. I decided to create my own version of this smoothie using ingredients I could find at ALDI Supermarket.

I always hate to list prices for items because they can become out-of-date by tomorrow, but I do want to share with you the rough cost of the items I found at the store.

Flat Leaf Spinach (9 ounces)- $1.69

Vanilla Soy Milk (half gallon)- $2.39

Mandarin Oranges (3 pounds)- $2.49

Fage Greek Yogurt (17.6 ounces)- $1.99

Bananas- $.45 per pound

Frozen Strawberries (2 pounds)- $3.49

It is hard to estimate the price per smoothie because items like the yogurt go quickly while other ingredients (like the fruit) can last for a couple of weeks for me. Regardless, I love that I can make one of these green smoothie creations on my budget and not have to shop for more obscure or expensive ingredients.

Why would anyone ever want to drink a green smoothie? It is packed full of fruits and vegetables that can be the perfect workout treat or a fun way to start your day. I worried that the smoothies would taste like spinach, but the spinach blends right into the fruits and I can’t taste it all once it has been blended well. As a busy mom trying to get my kids on the bus every morning, I don’t make eating breakfast a priority. Doesn’t coffee count as a healthy breakfast? This smoothie is helping me do better about putting good things in my body while we are getting ready for the day.

 

A few years ago, I decided to make the investment into a blender that would really last after burning up my blender every summer making the kids slushies and other frozen treats. My Krups blender is going on its third year with me and has been one of the wisest investments for smoothie creations in my kitchen. If you use your blender often, I encourage you to get one that has some power behind it especially when blending ice and frozen fruits like this smoothie.

After trying different variations of layering, I find the spinach pulls in the best when it rests in the middle. On the bottom I pour my soy milk, my Greek yogurt, my frozen strawberries, and my ice. Next I put in my layer of spinach. I add a banana and a segmented orange or clementine to the top. This seems to be the best technique for smooth spinach blending for me. You may want to experiment in your own blender and see what works best for you.

This smoothie makes a really giant smoothie for me and one small smoothie for my daughter for our breakfast in the morning. When my daughter brought home her, “sh” words from her kindergarten class, my husband handed it to me and proclaimed that I have officially brainwashed my children. She thinks her green smoothie is a “sh…ake.”

I love this child.

You will love this smoothie. I hope it transforms your morning as much as it has transformed mine!

4.0 from 1 reviews
"Save Your Green" Green Smoothie
Author: 
Recipe type: Drink
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
A green smoothie made from inexpensive ingredients to jump start your day!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup vanilla soy milk
  • ½ cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 4 ice cubes
  • 5 frozen strawberries
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • ½ a banana
  • 1 orange or clementine, peeled and segmented
  • 1 tablespoon honey (optional, but can help add sweetness)
Instructions
  1. Place ingredients in your blender as listed.
  2. Pulse or use the ice crush feature on your blender to break down the ice and frozen fruit.
  3. Blend well.

Have you jumped on the green smoothie bandwagon? What are your tricks and ingredients for making your signature green smoothie?

Linking up to Mouthwatering Mondays on A Southern Fairytale

 

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Baked Apple Pie Donuts

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Fall is in the air and with the beautiful sights and scents of Fall come all of the amazing fall foods. Anything apple happens to be on our fall cooking agenda, and baked apple pie donuts seemed the perfect way to bring my favorite fall flavors together.  Proving that anything can be made into a delicious baked donut, I wanted to share this easy recipe for an apple pie donut perfect for serving with your favorite mug of cocoa, hot chai, or latte when the weather gets chilly.

The dominate flavor in this one is definitely the apple followed by the earthy and nutty flavor of ground nutmeg that helps round out the flavor profile of these donuts.  Once these delicate donuts are done baking, they are brushed lightly with butter and then dipped into a cinnamon and sugar coating that helps bring all of those delicious fall flavors together and that little bit of gritty, yummy crunch that just so happens to be my favorite thing about donuts.

There is no need to visit the apple orchard for pricey donuts this year because I plan to make these right in the comforts of our home and in a price that is just right for our little family. These would be the perfect ending to any fall activity whether it is a round of jumping in the leaves, sitting cozy by the fire, picking apples together in the sweet sunshine, or just a lazy Sunday afternoon with nothing else on the agenda. It is also just a fantastic way to use up any apples you might have in your fruit basket this week.

It took all the willpower in me to photograph these and not eat all of them. It then took another great round of willpower to wait until my children came home from school to eat this fun snack. If you have been a reader here long, you will know that our donut pan is worth its weight in gold in our house and I would highly recommend snagging one or two for your kitchen too.    My donut pans were purchased with a few Swagbucks that I had set aside and credited  towards an Amazon gift certificate to purchase them for free this year. I use these Norpro 6-count Nonstock Donut Pans for $12.99 each for our donut baking in our house.

If you don’t have a donut pan, a mini-muffin tin will do the trick too for quick and easy donut holes. Watch the donuts after half the time listed in the recipe since they should cook up a little quicker.

Recipe:

Baked Apple Pie Donuts

1/4 cup of lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup of white sugar
1 1/2 cups of bite size chunks of apple, peeled and cored (approximately 2 apples)
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup of cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg
1/4 cup of milk

For sugar & cinnamon topping:
1/4 cup of butter, melted
1/3 cup of sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350F. Whisk the flour, baking powder, sugars salt and and nutmeg in a bowl. Add the cold chopped butter, cut into tablespoons. Cut the butter with the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a pastry blender or fork.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg. Mix in the milk and fold in the chopped apples. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture. Stir using a spatula or spoon making sure not to overmix. Place two spoonfuls of batter into a greased donut mold pan.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the donuts are just golden. Allow to cool for five minutes. Unmold each donut gently and lightly brush each with the melted butter. Dunk in a bowl with the sugar and cinnamon mixed in. Shake off excess sugar and serve immediately.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Recipe Adapted From: Cooks.com

Serving Size: 9 donuts


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Healthy Banana Blueberry Muffins

Monday, August 8th, 2011

It is that time of year again where I begin to gather ideas for baked treats to stick in my kid’s lunchboxes and for after school snacks.  I always wanted to be that mom that packed an amazing lunch filled with homemade goodness, handwritten notes, and power foods that would get my child’s day started right. Sometimes I am that mom. Sometimes I am not.

It isn’t because I want to be superior over other mothers, but simply because I just know how good I feel when I have the right snacks in my corner for the day.

I want that for them too.

They deserve a little of that.

With blueberries already popped in the freezer from our berry picking last month, I decided to put them to good use in our home and made these Healthy Banana Blueberry Muffins for a fun midday snack and to add to my snack ideas list for their lunchboxes this year.

These have everything I want in a good muffin- whole wheat flour, wheat germ, blueberries, bananas, and a little bit of sweetness. The muffin is light with bursts of berries throughout. If  blueberries aren’t your favorite things, you can halve the amount of blueberries, or even cut fresh blueberries in half like our Baked Blueberry Donuts with the Lemon Glaze. The toasty wheat germ on top adds a little bit of texture to the top that keeps to their healthy nature.

I have included a vlog from a long time ago that I made on creating a baking day in your house to save money and keep your grocery budget on track. It is hard to believe that this little girl in the video is now off to kindergarten this year. This vlog illustrates though one way that we save money in our family and incorporate healthy eating in our home by making a commitment to one day of baking each week.

Happy baking, everyone!

Recipe:

Healthy Banana Blueberry Muffins

Ingredients:

1 cup whole-wheat flour (spooned and leveled)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour, (spooned and leveled)

1/4 cup wheat germ

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar

2 large eggs

2 ripe bananas (about 1 pound)

1/3 cup reduced-fat (2 percent) milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup frozen blueberries

2 tablespoons wheat germ, for sprinkling on top

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners. In a bowl, whisk together flours, wheat germ, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In another bowl, mash bananas with a fork (you should have 3/4 cup); stir in milk and vanilla. With mixer on low, alternately add flour mixture and banana mixture to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined. Fold in frozen blueberries. Divide batter among muffin cups and sprinkle the tops with a little wheat germ for an added crunch. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 20-22 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Let cool in pan 10 minutes; transfer muffins to a rack to cool 10 minutes more.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Serving Size: 12

Recipe Source: Adapted only slightly from the amazing Martha Stewart

What treats do you like to bake for your child’s lunchbox? Feel free to share links or ideas from your own recipe collection in the comments below!

Baked Blueberry Donuts With a Lemon Glaze

Monday, August 1st, 2011

It is no secret around here that baked donuts are a favorite thing in our house. We have tried everything from delicate chocolate donuts, to pumpkin donuts, to cake donuts, to gingerbread donuts.  The one thing I haven’t tried though is fruit-filled donuts and I have been dying to make these.  I found an evening of blueberry picking last week yielded the perfect fruit to marry my love for baked donuts with some delicious results.  Your life just might be transformed by these baked blueberry donuts.

Even though blueberries are a hit with me, this fruit is a miss with my son and husband.  I knew if I could make a blueberry lover out of them though, baked donuts would be the ticket. I can finally, in all honesty say, that these donuts were loved by even them, thanks to the lemon additions and halving the fruit for delicate bites of berries rather than bursts.

The glaze is so light, but filled with the powerful flavor of lemon throughout. The cake is light and fluffy with flecks of berries and more lemon zest throughout the fluffy batter. The accompaniment of these flavors is a perfect marriage of deliciousness in your belly, while remaining a surprisingly light snack for a morning or afternoon treat.

I can’t say more about these donuts or I may be forced in the kitchen to make another batch already.  If you have any Swagbucks, I would put them to work towards donut pans. My donut pans were purchased with a few Swagbucks that I had set aside and credited  towards an Amazon gift certificate to purchase them for free this year. I use these Norpro 6-count Nonstock Donut Pans for $12.99 each for our donut baking in our house.

They have been a priceless treasure in my kitchen and a fun new Saturday morning tradition for our family!

Recipe:

Baked Blueberry Donuts with a Lemon Glaze

Ingredients:

2 cups cake flour (or 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour + 1/4 cup cornstarch)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
zest from 1 lemon
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup blueberries, halved

Lemon Glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp lemon juice (from the lemon you zested)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Whisk together the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.  Add in the lemon zest and whisk this into your dry ingredients. Pour in the milk, eggs, butter and vanilla extract. Gently mix the ingredients together. Be careful not to over-mix the batter. Fold in the halved blueberries carefully. Lightly grease a doughnut pan with non-stick cooking spray. Carefully spoon the batter into the doughnut pan, filling each one halfway. Bake the doughnuts at 400 F for 8-9 minutes. The donuts will remain light in color, but should spring back when pressed.

For the glaze: Put the powdered sugar in a large bowl. Add in the lemon juice, milk and vanilla extract. Whisk to combine. If the glaze is too thick, add additional lemon juice or milk, 1/2 teaspoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.

Once the doughnuts are done baking, let them cool in the doughnut pan for 4 minutes. Carefully remove the donuts from the pan.  Dip one side of each doughnut in the glaze. Set the doughnuts on top of a cooling rack with a baking sheet underneath. Allow the glaze on the doughnuts to dry and serve immediately with big glasses of ice cold milk.

Prep Time: 5-7 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Serving Size: 12 donuts

Don’t be bored with berries! Be sure to check out our eight inspirational recipes for the  blueberry season to get those juices (literally) going on a berry project in your kitchen!

8 Inspirational Recipes for the Blueberry Season

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

8 Inspirational Recipes for the Blueberry Season

Blueberry season is upon us and today I wanted to share with you our favorite blueberry creations that you can use those fresh picked berries for. Our family is looking forward to an evening of picking this week and these are the recipes that we will be using to create our favorite blueberry dishes.

blueberry pancakes 2

A pancake laced with fresh handpicked blueberries seems the perfect occasion to break out the old griddle and spatula for a fun and inexpensive weeknight meal. These blueberry pancakes are a delicious way to use a few of those berries and I promise that they will be a hit with your family too!

I love that with this batter it is encouraged to mix the batter up ahead of time and allow it to rise for a bit on the counter. What happens is that this seemingly unimpressive batter is magical as it puffs up beautifully once placed on the griddle. Once poured on the griddle, I sprinkle the blueberries into each pancake individually as they become golden. The pancakes are then served with a little syrup and another generous handful of fresh berries on top.

Recipe:  Blueberry Pancakes

Blueberry Iced Tea Syrup

Making homemade syrups for drinks is something that I love to keep in our refrigerator to fancy up a glass of iced tea or a mug of coffee. Making homemade syrups does not take a lot of time, but it can make a regular glass of iced tea go from a standard glass to a fantastical gourmet treat.

This is a my favorite recipe for making Blueberry Drink Syrup that can be added to your iced tea, your coffee, or even your margarita! Whatever gets you going in the morning, I promise not to judge!

Recipe: Blueberry Drink Syrup

Blueberry Muffins

It is the berry season and nothing says summer to me like a big blueberry muffin. These blueberry muffins are laced with the juice and zest of one lemon, which cuts through the sweetness and makes a perfect balance of flavors. I dust these with raw sugar and they make a fantastic snack to eat and to share with neighbors and friends.

Recipe: Lemony Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Cobbler

Last year I decided to give a blueberry cobbler a try for a book club meeting and this recipe pulled together so easily that I shared it that evening and then later, as a special birthday treat for my mom. With all of the ingredients coming straight from the pantry, it was a fun and frugal dish to share and everyone I shared it with really seemed to enjoy it. If you are looking for a fast and satisfying dish to bring to your next gathering, I highly recommend this delicious blueberry cobbler for a perfect way to end any meal.

Recipe: Fresh Blueberry Cobbler

Blueberry Muffin Cake

Looking for a recipe for a few blueberry haters in your family? This is the one that is sure to convert them and just a peek inside this cake shows why anyone can eat it. The cake only has one cup of blueberries in the whole thing. This handful of berries makes a beautiful stripe down the middle and adds just the right balance of blueberries and cake instead of the overwhelming amount of berries that can be in other cakes and muffins.

The blueberries are suspended in the batter with the help of a little reserved cake mix and a quick toss to coat them. The cake mix has added flavor boosts from the addition of cinnamon, vanilla yogurt, and a little vanilla pudding mix. The resulting cake is moist and absolutely perfect. This is truly my favorite blueberry recipe and I promise it will be yours too!

Recipe: Blueberry Muffin Cake

Blueberry Pancake Syrup

It is amazing how sugar, water, a little vanilla, and fresh berries make such an incredible difference on a plain old waffle, but this blueberry pancake syrup proves that simple ingredients can create something outstanding.

The burst of flavor, the happy dance in my mouth, and the smacking of lips at the table make me so incredibly joyful when we eat this syrup over our waffles. The berries coat the waffle perfectly and add a little sweetness to my waffles without a sugary overkill.

This is really and truly a fantastic indulgence that takes about the same amount of time to cook as it does to make up a batch of waffles. Fast and delicious!

Recipe: Blueberry Pancake Syrup

Berry Trifle

One thing I have wanted to try is a trifle and for my son’s birthday this year, I had the perfect opportunity!  With berries in season and a store-bought angel food cake, this dish isn’t only affordable, but easy too!

The white chocolate pudding set this trifle apart from any other I have ever eaten because it adds a richness and unexpected layer into this berry trifle. Not only does this dish taste rich, but it is perhaps one of the lightest desserts I have ever made where I felt full and satisfied, while feeling like I indulged.  Of course anything with pudding, cake, and berries is a winner in my book.  I would highly recommend giving this recipe a try for your next get together!

Recipe: Red, White, & Blueberry Trifle

How to Freeze Blueberries

After all of this inspiration, if you still have some berries left, I highly recommend the Cook’s Illustrated technique for freezing your berries for optimal flavor. I tried this last year and last month we ate berries that tasted like they had been freshly picked after almost a year of storage.

In years past, I just threw the berries on a cookie sheet, froze them, and then tossed them into marked bags for later consumption. Cook’s Illustrated is my Bible for cooking and they claim that the best consistency for blueberries is if they have been frozen with sugar. They froze six different kinds of fruit, tried seven different methods of freezing on each fruit, stuck them in the freezer for six months, and then tasted them. I certainly don’t have the time or inclination to take on a task like that and that is why I absolutely love Cook’s Illustrated!

If you are worried about the sugar, it is just meant to help keep the fruit’s shape and texture. When you want to eat the berries, you just rinse the sugar off and enjoy the optimal taste of the fruit.

Freeze Blueberries in 3 Easy Steps

Our collection of recipes continues to grow! While I have you here, here are four more fun ideas to try this year!

Baked Blueberry Doughnuts

Baked Blueberry Doughnuts With a Lemon Glaze

Blueberry Sangria Lemonade

Blueberry Sangria Lemonade

Healthy Banana Blueberry Muffins

Healthy Blueberry Banana Muffins

Fruit Infused Water Recipes

Healthy Fruit Infused Waters

Quinoa-Berry Breakfast Bowls

Quinoa-Berry Breakfast Bowls (sub with blueberries)

What are your favorite blueberry recipes? How do you freeze your berries? Feel free to share links and recipes here for even more inspiration for our readers!

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