Monthly Archives: July 2009

Sweet ‘n’ Spicy

So….tired of blueberry recipes yet?? Me neither! That gallon bucket in my freezer is always in the back of mind. I always think, what can I make with blueberries today? All the desserts have been well and good (expect many more in the future) but I knew I wanted to use some of bounty in a savory dish as well.

This Blueberry Chipotle Chutney totally hit the spot. Love that sweet, spicy heat. It’s super simple to throw together and will keep for a couple months in the fridge. Just throw all the ingredients in a saucepan, boil until thick and enjoy! It’s so so so good. If you are into canning, this would be a great gift. I always think I need to get into canning, not so much because I want to do it, but more just because I think it’d be fun to design little labels and make cute gift baskets for all my friends. 🙂 But that’s another post all together…

Tonight I basted some of the chutney on a grilled turkey tenderloin and then served it up a bit more spooned across the top. YUM! I’ve never purchased turkey tenderloins before but they were on super sale at the store this week, so I snatched some up. It took a bit longer on the grill, but the end result was tender and juicy. The chutney complemented the meat perfectly.

Next up for the remaining chutney – Monte Cristo sandwiches. Turkey, ham, swiss, a big ole glop of this stuff – dipped in an egg batter and grilled until golden. Hello deliciousness! I think it would also make an AWESOME turkey panini. A little smoked turkey, brie cheese, the chutney, something green (arugla, perhaps) piled high on some really good bread and pressed until crunchy and melty.

Here’s a napkin…you’re drooling. I know what will help….make this!


Note: Below is the full recipe, which will yield about 4 cups. I halved it, but I think it will freeze wonderfully – so you may want to make the full recipe after all! 🙂


  • 4  cups  fresh blueberries
  • 1  cup  finely chopped Granny Smith apple
  • 1/2  cup  white wine vinegar
  • 1/3  cup  sugar
  • 1/3  cup  honey
  • 3  tablespoons  grated orange rind
  • 1  tablespoon  mustard seeds
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (about 2 chiles)
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground ginger


Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 25 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently. Cool; pour into airtight containers.

Refrigerate Blueberry-Chipotle Chutney in airtight containers up to two months.


One Year Ago:
Blueberry Muffins – Heh. More blueberries…what are the odds!
Raspberry Pineapple Sorbet – This…you will love. Trust me. To.Die.For.



Filed under fruit, sauces

Kids, Don’t Try this At Home

What are some of those iconic lessons your mom taught you? Hm. Don’t play with matches, don’t run with scissors, don’t make that face or it will stay that way, and, of course, don’t melt your plastic bowls in a hot oven:

I know a lot about melting things. In fact, not to toot my own horn or anything, but I’m kind of an expert. I started young. The accidental Lego on a hot light bulb for about six hours experiment turned out exceptionally well. The results were a thoroughly melted Lego mess and a very stinky bedroom. Then just today, Eric informed me he found a fun size package of Whopper candies in the glove compartment of my car. (Um, two questions. 1. How long have those been in there? And 2, how is it possible I didn’t immediately eat them?) He said they were so melted, the package felt like a ketchup packet (LOL).

So the melted bowl. How in the world did I pull that off? (Please refer to post below regarding blond moments. Thanks.) I decided to tackle a yeast roll today, as I hadn’t worked with yeast in a while. When I make a dough like that, I usually let it rise in one of two places. 1. In the garage. It’ warm, it’s draft free, it’s the perfect place to let the dough rise! However, if it’s winter, or if your husband is working out there and has all the doors open, you gotta rely on plan B. 2. In a cool oven with a bowl of warm water on the lower rack.

Can you see where this is going yet? Yup, I made my bowl/hot water set up there in the oven, let my dough rise, took my dough out, promptly forgot that the bowl was in there and then turned the oven on two preheat. Enter melted bowl!

I had the oven preheating while my rolls rested a second time, but I was cooking something else on the stove top at the same time. In the back of my head, I kept thinking I was getting this whiff of melted plastic, but I never did investigate. Until, of course, I opened the oven to put my rolls in! Imagine my surprise! LOL.

Good thing I opened the oven when I did, because that thing was about the cave in on itself and melt ALL OVER my oven racks. LOL. Needless to say, that bowl had to be retired. I wonder where my adventures in melting things will take me next. . .

Anyway, on to the food. This is the first free weekend I’ve had in over a month. After spending all day yesterday cleaning (I mean ALL DAY…Ever scrub old basement paneling before? It sucks. Although putting on a New Kids on the Block Pandora station helps a lot. Nothing like dancing around cobwebs singing along to Debbie Gibson’s Only in My Dreams, followed by a rousing rendition of Please Don’t Go, Girl 🙂 ) I knew I had to make today count in the kitchen.

I found a recipe for pretzel rolls that I knew Eric would just love. Frozen soft pretzels are one of his favorite snacks (surprisingly low in calories…until you start dousing them with fake nacho cheese sauce, of course) so why not switch it up and make it a roll. That got the creative juices flowing and I dreamed up a burger on a bun-sized pretzel roll, topped with cheese and an interesting onion and apple “kraut.” YUM.

Now, the reason a fake kraut came to mind is because I originally planned to make my burgers out of brat patties instead of ground beef. Pretzel roll, sausage, needed something tangy and sauerkraut-y to put on top (without actually being sauerkraut, of course, because I don’t care for it) Well, the brat patties didn’t work out. The grocery store I went to this morning didn’t have them, so I figured I’d pick some up this afternoon while we were out running around but then Eric didn’t want to back track to go back to the Super Target, yadda, yadda, yadda, we just had regular burgers.

The results were very good! The pretzel roll may be a bit chewy to double as a hamburger bun, but I liked the taste a lot. I’m not a big fan of really soft bread anyway, so I didn’t mind that they were chewy. Others may be put off by it though, so keep that in mind. My fake out kraut was really good too. Perfectly tangy and delicious.

BURGERS ON PRETZEL ROLLS WITH ONION AND APPLE “KRAUT” (Rolls from Bon Appetite, January 1994 as seen at Topping: me)

For the Rolls:
makes 8 dinner rolls or 4 sandwich rolls

  • 2 3/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 envelope quick-rising yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (about) hot water (125°F to 130°F)
  • Cornmeal
  • 8 cups water
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg white, beaten to blend (glaze)
  • Coarse salt


  1. Combine bread flour, 1 envelope yeast, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar and celery seeds in food processor and blend. With machine running, gradually pour hot water through feed tube, adding enough water to form smooth elastic dough. Process 1 minute to knead. Grease medium bowl. Add dough to bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then towel; let dough rise in warm draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 35 minutes.
  2. Flour baking sheet. Punch dough down and knead on lightly floured surface until smooth. Divide into 8 pieces. Form each dough piece into ball. Place dough balls on prepared sheet, flattening each slightly. Using serrated knife, cut X in top center of each dough ball. Cover with towel and let dough balls rise until almost doubled in volume, about 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease another baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal. Bring 8 cups water to boil in large saucepan. Add baking soda and 2 tablespoons sugar (water will foam up). Add 4 rolls and cook 30 seconds per side. Using slotted spoon, transfer rolls to prepared sheet, arranging X side up. Repeat with remaining rolls.
  4. Brush rolls with egg white glaze. Sprinkle rolls generously with coarse salt. Bake rolls until brown, about 25 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool 10 minutes. Serve rolls warm or room temperature. (Can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm in 375°F oven 10 minutes.)

For my Onion and Apple “Kraut”:
Enough for two burgers
This is a sweet and savory topping that gets it “kraut” kick with a a shot of apple cider vinegar and a generous sprinkling of caraway seeds. So it’s nothing like actual sauerkraut, but it’s inspired by it. 🙂

  • 1 small onion, cut into strips
  • 1 small apple, cut into strips (I used golden delicious)
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 2 tbs. butter
  • 2 tbs. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Heat oil and butter in a large skillet. Add vinegar and heat for about 1 minute. Add onion and apple. Sprinkle with brown sugar and season with caraway seeds, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until the onions and apples and deep brown and caramelized.

Put it all together with a perfectly grilled burger, a slice of extra sharp cheddar, a squirt of spicy brown mustard and ENJOY! 🙂

One Year Ago: Shrimp Ettouffee


Filed under beef, bread, fruit

Blond(ie) Moments

I’ve had plenty of blond moments in my time. Fitting, I suppose, considering my hair is in fact blond. It’s dark blond…but blond none the less.

I’ve had blonde moments in public – stepping onto the bike path without looking my freshman year of college and getting “schwinned” (that’s UIUC speak for getting knocked over by bike) comes to mind as a biggie. Learned my lesson after that…NEVER cross the bike path without looking both ways!

I’ve had blond moments at work – I once stood up at my desk to grab something and didn’t realize I had kicked my chair away. I went to sit back down without looking. Yup, you guessed it…no chair. Fell right on my ass. Good times.

And I’ve had blond moments in the kitchen – Two summers ago I RUINED Eric’s birthday dinner by throwing chicken pieces that had been marinating for 24 hours in a mixture of honey, brown sugar and balsamic straight on the grill. They immediately burnt to a crisp and stuck like glue to the grill. Duh. Sugar + scorching hot grill = a disaster waiting to happen. While I was outside fighting with said chicken, I put a sauce on the stove to reduce that was the same flavor profile – honey, brown sugar, etc – I put the lid on the pot and left it unattended. Duh again. It promptly boiled over and turned to tar on my glass stove top. I am rather ashamed to admit I never did get it all off…a small spot of ruined birthday tar remains stuck on that burner to this this day. Oh yeah, and a sudden summer downpour DRENCHED me out of nowhere as I was chiseling chicken bits off my grill. I cried. Then we went out for pizza.

These Blueberry Cream Cheese Blondies are not the product of a blond moment. 🙂 They are the product of a very busy girl with a gallon bucket of blueberries in her freezer who has been zig-zagging all over Illinois and back to Iowa for the past three weekends and was desperate for some kitchen time. I first saw the cheesecake and blondie combo over at Carrie’s Sweet Life. Sounded DELISH. Love blondies…love cheesecake. Sounds like a winner!

I did kind of go my own direction with these, combining several different recipes that I have tried in the past. First, just like Carrie, I used the basic blondie recipe from Baking Blonde’s blog. I use this recipe all the time and truly love it! So versatile and SO easy. If I find myself in a pinch and needing something delicious but still homemade, I make a pan of these and fill them with whatever I have availalble from peanut butter, to nuts, to chocolate chips. YUM!

For the cream cheese layer, I used the cream cheese portion of this Cream Cheese Brownie recipe from I actually made this recipe not too long ago for a get together with friends. I really liked the simple flavor of the cream cheese layer, but I didn’t love the brownie part. I like a fudgy brownie, but these were a little bit overkill for me. Meh. I don’t know…I’ve had better brownies. So I decided to recycle the cream cheese portion of the recipe and use it here.

For the blueberry layer, I winged it. I’ve made enough fruity sauces/fillings in my time, I’m comfortable in just throwing something together.

The results were a creamy, chewy treat with just the right kick of blueberry. In addition to the blueberry swirl on top, I threw a handful of fresh berries into the blondie layer too – just for fun. Very tasty. I already ate one tonight, but now that I’m sitting here writing about them, I’m thinking about going back for round two. YUM!

BLUEBERRY CREAM CHEESE BLONDIES (Recipe Sources: Carrie’s Sweet Life, Baking Blonde and

Blondie Layer:

  • 6-7 TBS butter, melted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup fresh blueberries

Cream Cheese Layer:

  • 8 oz block of cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg

Blueberry Layer:

  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tsps corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


Make the blondie layer:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Line an 8×8 pan with foil and lightly spray with PAM.
  3. In a large microwave safe mixing bowl melt the butter. Allow to cool for 5 mintues. Mix the brown sugar with the melted butter and beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla. Add salt, stir in flour and baking powder (if using). Mix in blueberries
  4. Pour into prepared pan and use a greased spatula to evenly spread mixture in pan and level the top. Set aside

Make the cream cheese layer:

  1. In the bowl of a food processor (or with a hand mixer), process the cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar, vanilla and egg and process until creamy and smooth. Spread on top of brownie layer.

Make the blueberry layer:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine blueberries, sugar, water, cornstarch and lemon juice. Bring mixture a boil and simmer, stirring frequently, until the berries reduce and the mixture thickens. Cool for 10 minutes.
  2. Drop the blueberry mixture by tablespoon fulls onto the cream cheese layer and swirl with a knife.
  3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the blondies pull away from the side of the pan and the cream cheese is almost set. Cool completely on a wire rack. Chill for at least 2 hours before cutting into squares.


One Year Ago: Caramelized Apple, Onion and Sausage Flat-Bread Pizza


Filed under bars, fruit

We put the SPRING in Springfield!

Up until this past weekend, I had never been to Springfield. I think every junior high age kid in the entire state of Illinois took a weekend trip to the state capital at some point. I missed out. Or, more accurately, I skipped out. I remember what I was doing too…my cheerleading squad was in a competition that weekend. Jumping around, screaming and being tossed into the air beat the pants off learning any day, so I skipped the trip. According to my husband, this made me a horrible Illinoisan and traitor to my home state. Sheesh! I don’t think I’d go that far. I knew I’d get there. Eventually. So it took a good 15 years and move to a different state to make it happen. But I got there, didn’t I?

Look, look! I’m officially a good Illinoisan now. Rubbing Lincoln’s nose for good luck – just like I used to do to the replica in Lincoln Hall at U of I before those killer finals!

Now, just for the record, the reason we went to Springfield was for the wedding of one of Eric’s good friends. It wasn’t like we just woke up one morning and said “Hey, let’s take a vacation in fabulous SPRINGFIELD!” There was a reason to go…but since we were going that way anyway, might as well see some of the sights.

This is us out at Lincoln’s tomb. Very cool, but I think my favorite thing we saw is the new Lincoln museum and library. It’s exceptionally well done and totally worth it. If you ever get the chance to stop in there, I highly recommend it. Like, say you are driving from Chicago to St. Louis – you’ll need to get out and stretch your legs and take a potty break eventually…do it there. You will not be disappointed!

All that history and learning and what not is all well and good, but the highlight – the absolute BEST part of the weekend, the thing that made the entire thing worthwhile – was our (semi) celebrity encounter!

People in big cities probably see celebs all the time on the street, in restaurants, in bars, at sporting events, etc. etc. but here in Midwest, we don’t. In fact, I’ve only had one other celebrity encounter in my entire life and it’s not exactly a fond memory. It involved a campus bar at U of I, a very well-known (and apparently inebriated) pro football player/activist, a couple scantily-clad college girls, and some jaw-droppingly inappropriate yelling. I’m going to leave it at a that. Please note, that I was in no way involved in this situation, I was merely one of many very surprised (and disgusted) witnesses that happened to be nearby at the time.

Anyway, Eric and I were hanging out in our hotel room on Friday evening in between sightseeing and going out for ice cream. We happened to flip on the local news just in time to hear that one of Eric’s TV heroes was in town filming – Adam Richmond from the Travel Channel show Man v. Food! Seriously, Eric LOVES that show. He’s the one that found it to begin with a couple months ago and got me watching it too. Adam is HI-larious. If you like Guy’s show on the FN, you will LOVE Adam. In fact, you will like him BETTER! Trust me! New shows start on August 5th.

They mentioned where he would be on Saturday – Cozy Dog! Ta-da!

Apparently, Springfield is the birthplace of the corn dog. Did you know that? Yeah, I didn’t either. This place is right along historic Route 66 and has a ton of history behind it. We decided we’d check it out at lunchtime and grab something to eat. (I am partial to corn dogs, people…true story. So no complaints from me) That way, if we saw him, great, if not, no biggie, we’d just enjoy our great local eats!

When we got there, the crew was there setting up. We got some food (which was delish, BTW. The fries were AWESOME!) and settled in. We basically got to watch them film the entire segment which was really neat! We kind of hung back and watched, we didn’t want to look crazy groupies getting all up in his face. When they took a break from filming, he was totally laid back and chatting with everyone so we approached him and told him how much we enjoyed the show. We told him we got all our friends watching (which is true) and he told us a bit about the new season. He was totally cool to talk to and a lot of fun! The sound guy took our picture. 🙂

Here’s the proof!! Look how excited Eric looks. He’s like a kid on Christmas, I tell you what!

I had to laugh because I seriously have not worn my glasses out in public in like 10 years. The ONE time we get our pic taken with someone worth while I don’t even look like I usually do. Stupid, red irritated left eye! LOL!

So anyway, we had a GREAT trip and I have officially met my first foodie celeb! What a great weekend!

Oh yeah, and the wedding was great too! Big congrats to our friend Jim and his new bride! 🙂

Okay, I’ve been on the road the last THREE weekends and have had ZERO time to cook. Bummer! Someday I’ll get back in the kitchen…until then…

One Year Ago (approximately):
Dijon-Glazed Grilled Shrimp – A simple summer supper
Strawberry Lime Stuffed Cupcakes – a bit more trouble than they were worth, I think.
Candy Kiss Cupcake Bites – mini cupcake treats with a candy surprise in the middle. YUM!


Filed under Just for Fun

Mighty Fine Blueberry Pickin’

When I got an  email from my mother-in-law last week before we headed to Eric’s hometown for the 4th asking if I wanted to go blueberry picking, I very quickly and eagerly responded YES! How great! I’ve never picked ANYTHING. Well, maybe my nose on occasion when I was a kid, not something I’m proud of, but hey, what are ya gonna do? LOL.

Anyway, I was SO excited to pick blueberries, I can’t even tell you!

Then, the unthinkable. Plans = derailed. NOOO! We planned to leave for our long weekend in southern Illinois on Thursday but Eric didn’t get home from work until WAY later than expected. It’s a pretty long drive, and we’re pretty much old geezers these days and the thought of getting to our destination after midnight just wasn’t sitting right. We had to put off the drive until the next morning.

I pouted. I told Eric I didn’t think we’d get to go blueberry picking after all, since we’d be traveling most of the day. He was already a bit annoyed that we had to put off our trip but seeing my poor sad eyes and trembling bottom lip really pushed him over the edge. Poor guy. He looked so sad that I was sad. My pain over not getting to pick blueberries became his pain. That’s love, people.

He was bound and determined. You’ll get your blueberries, he said in a classic Scarlett O’Hara fist pumping at the sky moment. As God is my witness, you’ll get your blueberries!

His solution? Getting up at the butt crack of dawn and driving all morning and rolling into our destination (a good 7 hours from here) by noon so that we could go blueberry picking in the afternoon.

Ummmmmm. Hold up. Are blueberries worth getting up at 5 a.m. on a free day off work? Is ANYTHING worth that? Well, if you know my husband, you know that he is incredibly stubborn. Once he gets an idea in his head, there is no changing his mind. He had it in his head that we’d get up at 5 a.m. so I could get my blueberries. So that’s what we did. Okay, game on.

So off we went. Free and easy down the road we go. Good thing Eric is a morning person because I don’t think I made it half way down the driveway before I promptly fell asleep again. I had a nice long nappy-nap in the car and was ready to pick blueberries when we arrived. YAY!

My MIL drove us out into the country to an Amish farm where we both picked gallon buckets full of ripe, juicy, delicious berries. Best part is, it’s really easy because the berries grow on bushes that are eye level, no stooping over and they are thorn free! It was great to be outside in the country, soaking up the summer sun and enjoying some quality time. I was worried about the giant bucket of blueberries turning into a giant berry clump in the freezer, but since they are not washed and wet, they actually freeze like little marbles. Just scoop out what you need, thaw in cool water and your ready to go!

Of course I had to make something the minute we got home. Duh. Had to hit up the grocery store for the week first though. The strawberries looked (and smelled!) especially delicious this week so I picked up a pint and decided to make a Starwberry Blueberry Buckle!

Why is it called buckle? I have no idea either. I just call it awesome. It’s a super easy cake recipe loaded with fruit and topped with streusel topping. Goes together quickly and is just bursting with fruity, juicy, delicious goodness. Top with ice cream and you’ve got a great summer dessert!

Now, I found this recipe a couple months ago in a collection of clippings my mom keeps in an old yellow recipe box in her kitchen cabinet. One of those old, wrinkled magazine clippings from days gone by, so I’m not exactly sure where this orginally came from. I apologize for that. I just went ahead and contributed it to my wonderful mother. Once a recipe has been clipped for 15 years plus, it becomes property of the clipper, don’t you think? Sounds good to me! :-p

One year ago: Okay, I’m having a bit of trouble keeping up with what was going on a year ago. A year ago I was out of work and living the life of a lady of leisure and therefore was in the kitchen a lot more. LOL. So ABOUT a year ago OR SO, we feasted on the following:
Asian Inspired Macaroni Salad with Chopped Cashews– perfect for summer cookouts!
Chicken Enchiladas – this is my FAVE enchilada recipe. The sauce is sooo good!
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Ice Cream – yup, it’s as good as it sounds!



  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsps. Grated lemon rind
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds
  • ¼ cup milk (I used buttermilk – had some on hand that needed to be used up. You could go either way.)
  • 1 ¼ cups sliced fresh or frozen strawberries, thawed and drained
  • 1 ¼ cups fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed and drained


  • ½ cup sifted all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter


  1. Preheat oven to 375. Grease 8×8 in. baking pan
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt onto wax paper.
  3. Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with electric mixer at high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in egg, lemon rind and juice. Stir in nuts, then milk. Stir in dry ingredients, then berries. Spread into prepared pan.
  4. Prepare streusel topping: Mix together flour and brown sugar in a small bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle the streusel in an even layer over batter.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean and cake begins to pull away from sides. Cool on wire rack.
  6. Cut in large squares, serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.



Filed under cakes, fruit