Glazed Lemon Blueberry Loaf

I’ve always been fond of the lemon & blueberry combo; I find it light & refreshing, & was very surprised to hear from my husband, after sending him to work with the above tray, he’d had 2 slices & liked it as well. Just goes to show you can still learn things about your spouse after 22 years of marriage!

Ingredients:

For the loaves:

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups Greek Yogurt or sour cream
  • Juice & zest of 2 lemons
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons for tossing of blueberries
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 cups fresh blueberries

For the glaze:

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • Fresh lemon juice, 1-2 lemons

Preparation:

Prepare 2 standard loaf pans with non-stick spray; set aside or line with parchment paper. In a medium sized bowl, toss 2 tbsp of flour with the blueberries; set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Blend together oil, eggs, vanilla, sugar, yogurt or sour cream, lemon juice & zest. Add in the flour, baking powder, & salt & mix together until combined without over mixing. Fold in floured blueberries.

Transfer batter to prepared loaf pans. Bake for 50 minutes, insert knife into middle of the loaf & if it comes out clean, allow to rest in pans for 10 minutes before removing. If inserted knife doesn’t come out clean, return to oven & bake for 5 minutes more at a time.

Once completed baking, allow to rest in pans for 10 minutes before removing & allow to cool completely before icing.

In a bowl, add the powdered sugar. Based on desired consistency of glaze, start with the juice of 1 lemon, stir, & if too thick, add the juice of another lemon. Pour evenly over both loaves, allow to dry completely before slicing.

Note:

Recipe can be easily halved for one loaf.

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Peanut Butter Bread

 

If you’re anything like me, you just read that, & thought, Wait! Whaaat? Peanut butter bread? That was me last night, utterly intrigued. Upon further investigation, I learned it’s a depression era bread. Makes sense. I also discovered quite a few recipes for peanut butter banana bread & using a blender to mix it in instead of a traditional mixer; of which I found no interest in either of those things. Fast forward to this morning & I was on it.

The sight, texture, & taste of the dough, & the smell of the bread while baking had all of those senses convinced I was making peanut butter cookies at 8am! Rest assured the end result does not lend itself to the equivalent of cookies. The bread is very peanut buttery, dense, & not very sweet.

Ironically, while I did not opt for the recipe of peanut butter banana bread, I did, in fact, make an open faced peanut butter bread with a smear of peanut butter topped with banana & drizzled with honey sandwich. What can I say? For years, when I regularly ate breakfast, my go to was a banana with peanut butter & when my girls were young, I’d serve them “banana boats” (bananas cut lengthwise with peanut butter spread on them, which my 17 year old still requests I make for her).

More often than not, these days breakfast consists of black coffee, but today was not one of those days. After the bread cooled, & while on a conference call (God bless 3 hour conference calls from the comfort of my kitchen) I ate the above around 9:30am & it was so hearty & filling, I didn’t eat again until dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with nonstick spray; set aside.

Blend/ beat together the milk, eggs, peanut butter, sugars, & vanilla extract until smooth. Whisk together the salt, baking powder, & flour, add to the wet mixture & blend until just combined. Transfer dough to prepared bread pan. 

Bake for 50 minutes. Remove from oven & allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan to finish cooling on a baking rack.

Notes to self:

*stick with your baking intuition & reduce the oven temp to 325 or 335 degrees & check for doneness at 40-45 minutes.

*can you say, peanut butter French toast for brunch?

*mini chocolate chips in the dough, please

*Turbinado sugar & chopped peanuts added to the top & swirled in prior to baking for a sweet, crunchy topping & swirl

*toasted with jelly

*forgo the sugars & use honey instead

*peanut butter bread with peanut butter & sliced apple sandwich

The possibilities are endless!

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1, 2, 3 Chocolate Sauce

This chocolate sauce is synonymous with my childhood summers, Christmases, or Spring Break. Basically, any time we went to visit my maternal grandparents on their farm. It was a nightly ritual that after dinner the 5 gallon bucket of Schwan’s vanilla ice cream was retrieved from the cellar, placed in the kitchen sink, & various family members would arrive throughout the night to visit, joke, laugh, & play cards. Someone would inevitably man the stove to create the sauce & one by one, we’d scoop out our ice cream & drizzle with the 1, 2, 3 sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 1 12oz can of evaporated milk
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate

Preparation:

Add & stir together all ingredients in a medium size sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until it comes to a boil; then reduce temperature to low. Cook for 5 minutes more, stirring constantly. Enjoy!

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Avocado Bacon Toast

Let’s just be honest here for a sec: sometimes I’m a little late to the party. Avocado Toast has been around for as long as there’s been avocados & toast, but here I am way behind the curve, an outlier, of sorts. I can be a slow learner. However, I should be cut a little bit of slack considering it’s only been within the last 5 years or so that I discovered I even liked guacamole. I know! With that said, this is quickly becoming my favorite breakfast/ brunch/ lunch meal.

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices Sourdough, or another equally hearty type bread (this is not the time for super soft Wonder Bread)
  • 1 avocado
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 2 slices thick cut bacon, cooked & chopped

Preparation:

While the bread is toasting, half the avocado lengthwise & remove the pit. Once the toast is ready, spoon out one half of the avocado & using the back of the spoon spread it out around the toast. Repeat. Crank a salt grinder once over each slice, add a very light drizzle of olive oil over the avocado mash, & top with bacon bits. Enjoy!

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Breakfast Burritos

Sausage, egg, & cheese

Bacon, potato, egg, & cheese

Aside from tasting good and being a filling meal, they make easy leftovers. So while you may think, “I don’t need to make that many.” Rest assured when I say, it’ll get you off the hook for making them again when the freezer has the remaining ones wrapped up individually; at the ready for the microwave. Voila, in a minute you’ll have breakfast in hand.

Ingredients:

  • A dozen eggs
  • 2-3 tbsp milk or cream
  • 1 lb bacon or sausage
  • S & P
  • Shredded Colby jack cheese
  • 10 – 12 flour tortillas (it just depends how much filling you put into the tortilla)

Preparation:

Whisk together the eggs, add a splash of cream or milk, and season with salt & pepper; set aside. In a large electric skillet, cook either the bacon or sausage until done. Remove most of the grease. If using bacon, remove from skillet & chop into chunks & put back into the skillet. Pour the eggs over the meat, stirring occasionally until eggs are scrambled & incorporated with meat. Sprinkle cheese over the top, cover, & allow to melt. Spoon onto warmed flour tortillas & eat as is or add toppings of salsa, sour cream, or avocado.

Variation:

I’ve also shredded a potato & cooked with the meat.

For remaining mixture, spoon onto tortillas, roll & wrap with Saran Wrap, place in a gallon sized bag, label & place in freezer.

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Doubletree Cookie Recipe

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar, & brown sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs, vanilla, lemon juice, & blend on low speed for 30 seconds before increasing to medium speed for 2 minutes, or until light & fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl. With mixer speed on low, add flour, oats, baking soda, salt, & cinnamon & blend for 45 seconds without over mixing. By hand, stir in the chocolate chips & walnuts.

Form 3 tablespoons dough balls & place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 20-23 minutes or until edges are golden brown & center is soft. Remove from oven & allow to cool 1 hour on baking rack before removing.

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Lemon Layer Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Cream Cheese Frosting

 

 

Every year I look forward to baking my own birthday cake. A new cake every year for the last several years. Perhaps one day I’ll tire of this or change it up with a pie or other type of dessert, but as of now, I’ll stick with cake. This is also the first year I celebrated my birthday a la quarantine style due to Covid-19.

A few weeks ago, before the world seemingly fell apart, we went to Colorado to visit my parents. While we were there, the state essentially shut down because of the Coronavirus so we opted to return home to get some things done before returning to work. It was at that time, my boss let me know I was unable to return to work for 2 weeks since I’d been in Colorado. While there are still slices of this yummy lemony cake left, my birthday has now come & gone. I’ve done some conference calls & will be back to work tomorrow as an essential worker in my role as a hospice social worker. Since the rest of my beloveds birthdays are to follow, we joked about having this cake to celebrate:

 

 

Stay safe out there & wash your hands!

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 3 cups cake flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cups of sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 4 eggs at room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk (**or 1 cup sour cream)
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Thinly sliced lemons & fresh raspberries for garnish

For the frosting:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp poppy seeds

Preparation

For the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (since my oven bakes at a higher temperature, I preheated mine to 335 degrees). Grease & flour 2 9-inch pans (you can also use 3 pans, if you’d like) & line with parchment paper that is also greased & floured; set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, & salt; set aside.

Put the sugar in a food processor along with the zest of one lemon. Pulse until the sugar & zest is completely incorporated. If you don’t have a food processor, you can use the back of a large spoon & press the zest into the sugar until fully incorporated.

Cream together the butter & lemon infused sugar for 3 minutes, scraping down the sides & bottom of the bowl, as needed. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Slowly incorporate flour mixture into creamed mixture & mix on low until it just comes together. Add in the buttermilk (or sour cream) & fresh lemon juice. Mix together, being careful not to over-mix.

Divide the batter evenly between the pans. If using 3 pans, bake for 23 minutes or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Since I used 2 pans, I baked for 33 minutes, again at 335 degrees.

Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes prior to removing from pans. Allow cakes to cool completely on cooling rack before frosting.

For the frosting:

Cream together the cream cheese & butter until smooth. Add in the salt, lemon juice, & zest until incorporated. Using 2 cups of powdered sugar at a time, sift in & beat well after each addition, scraping down the sides & bottom of bowl to fully incorporate.

After frosting the cakes, garnish with thin lemon slices & fresh raspberries. Note: the lemon slices are for presentation only, don’t leave them on the cake as the liquid from the lemons will seep out.

*If planning to use three pans, I’d increase the cream cheese to 16 oz, add another stick of butter, increase the powdered sugar by another 3 cups, & another tablespoon of poppy seeds.

**This is the first time I made this cake, & while I did not over mix or over bake, the cakes weren’t as moist as I would have liked. In the future, I will use 1 cup sour cream in lieu of 1 cup buttermilk.

Recipe for cake obtained from: https://theviewfromgreatisland.com/lemon-layer-cake-with-lemon-poppy-seed-buttercream-recipe/

 

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Pork Tacos

This is a meal that comes together relatively quickly & in terms of the family, one we all agree on, which sometimes is a rarity.

We use this kind of cheese:

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 lb. packages of pork stew meat
  • Canola oil
  • Tex Mex seasoning, 2-4 tsps, sprinkled over pork while cooking
  • Cheese sauce
  • Flour tortillas

Tex-Mex Seasoning (I keep this on hand & use it for nachos, beans, tacos, & all sorts of things:

  • 3 tbsp, plus 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp coarse ground black pepper

Preparation:

In a large skillet (I use a cast iron) heat oil to medium-high heat. Add pork, seasoning, & cook until no longer pink. While the pork is cooking, prepare the cheese sauce as directed on package. Add meat to flour tortillas & drizzle with cheese.

I serve this with beans, rice, chips, & guacamole.

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Oatmeal Scotchies

I’ve only had these cookies a handful of times with the last time being at least 15 years ago, if not longer. A few weeks ago, seemingly out of nowhere, I had a strong taste for them. I ignored it, but the taste persisted & today while grocery shopping I made my way to the baking aisle knowing full well I would succumb. I baked, ate several, and am sated for at least another 15-20 years. I bagged the rest up & am sending the remaining with Bri to take to work tomorrow.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 11 oz package of Nestle Toll House butterscotch chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Beat the butter & sugars together until light & fluffy. Beat in the eggs & vanilla extract. Stir in the baking soda, salt, & cinnamon. Add the flour & stir until just incorporated. Lastly, add in the oats until combined & then stir in the butterscotch chips.

Use a large cookie scoop & drop onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 8-9 minutes & transfer to cooking rack.

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Books I Read in 2019

Even though I maintain this site as my digital recipe box, the annual post I look forward to most is the collection of books I read throughout the year. In fact, ever since I committed to reading 52 books in 2014, I’ve kept an ongoing list in the notes app on my phone of the books I’ve read. I have a life long love of reading. I was the kid who who would sneak in extra reading by the hall light after bedtime until I could hear my parents’ footfall on the bottom of the stairs prompting me to hurriedly feign sleep. During family road trips after dusk I would read what I could of the Sweet Valley High series & later books by VC Andrews (I’m dating myself, I know!) using the beam of head lights from the cars behind us. While in school for my undergrad when reading was primarily required, I have a hazy memory of my friend Jed in my dorm room, picking up Victor Frankl’s, Man’s Search for Meaning splayed across my stomach where I’d lain it before I dozed off. He gently picked up the book, laid it on my desk, and whispered, “You’re on page 83, Ang,” & then he turned the light off, slipped out the door, & closed it quietly behind him. Those are just a few of the memories I have that involve reading. It’s safe to say when someone has memories of reading, they’re likely a bona fide bookworm. I am what I am & if you’re still reading this chances are you are too!

Without further ado, the list:

  1. Educated, Tara Westover
  2. The Last of the Stanfields, Marc Levy
  3. Evidence of the Affair, Taylor Jenkins Reid
  4. The Road, Cormac McCarthy
  5. Not Famous, Matthew Hanover
  6. Dracula, Bram Stroker
  7. Born a Crime: Stories From A South African Childhood, Trevor Noah
  8. An American Marriage, Tayari Jones
  9. Kindred, Octavia Butler
  10. Girl, Stop Apologizing, Rachel Hollis
  11. The Upside of Falling Down, Rebekah Crane
  12. The Professor, Robert Bailey
  13. The Happiness Trap, Russ Harris
  14. A Curve in the Road, Julieanne Maclean
  15. Mother’s Group, Liane Moriarty
  16. Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…and Maybe The World, Admiral William McRaven
  17. The Eighth Sister, Robert Dugoni
  18. Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn Ward
  19. The Butterfly Garden, Dot Hutchison
  20. Pretty Girls Dancing, Kylie Brant
  21. The Short Drop, Matthew FitzSimmons
  22. The Practice House, Laura McNeal
  23. Last Summer, Kerry Lonsdale
  24. A Man Called Ove, Fredrik Backman
  25. The Lie: A Memoir of Two Marriages, Catfishing, & Coming Out, William Dameron
  26. What You Did, Claire McGowan
  27. Heartland, Sarah Smarsh
  28. The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice For Making Life Decisions, Emily P. Freeman
  29. Thin Air: A Jessica Shaw Thriller, Lisa Gray
  30. The Overdue Life of Amy Byler, Kelly Harms
  31. Maybe You Should Talk To Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, & Our Lives Revealed, Lori Gottlieb
  32. The Friend, Sigrid Nunez
  33. Room To Breathe, Liz Talley
  34. Toil & Trouble, Augusten Burroughs
  35. Heavy, Kiese Laymon
  36. Talking To Strangers: What We Should Know About The People We Don’t Know, Malcolm Gladwell
  37. Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell
  38. Emily, Gone Bette Lee Crosby
  39. The Like Switch, Jack Shafer, PhD & Marvin Karline, PhD
  40. The Obesity Code, Jason Fung, MD
  41. A Spark of Light, Jodi Picoult
  42. A Beginner’s Guide To The End: Practical Advice For Living Life & Facing Death, BJ Miller, MD & Shoshana Berger

My favorites (in no particular order):

“In society we do horrible things to one another because we don’t see the person it effects. We don’t see their face; we don’t see them as people. Which was the whole reason the hood was built in the first place: to keep the victims of apartheid out of sight & mind. Because if white people ever saw black people as human they would see that slavery is unconscionable. We live in a world where we don’t see the ramifications of what we do to others because we don’t live with them. If we could see another’s pain & empathize with one another it would never be worth it to us to commit the crimes in the first place.”

*If you haven’t read this book, or even if you have, I urge you to listen to the Audible version. His style, accent, cadence is unprecedented. Also, you will find yourself pealing with laughter. I promise.

“Even in the best possible relationship, you’re going to get hurt sometimes & no matter how much you love somebody, you will, at times, hurt that person. Not because you want to, but because you’re human. You will inevitably hurt your partner, your parents, your children, your closest friend & they will hurt you because if you sign up for intimacy, getting hurt is part of the deal. But, what is great about a loving intimacy is that there is room for repair. Therapists call this process “rupture & repair.” And, if you had parents who acknowledged their mistakes & took responsibility for them & taught you as a child to acknowledge your mistakes & learn from them too, then your ruptures won’t feel so cataclysmic in your adult relationships. If, however, your childhood ruptures didn’t come with loving repairs, it will take some practice for you to tolerate the ruptures; to stop believing that every rupture that happens signals the end, & a trust that even if a relationship doesn’t work out, you will survive that rupture too. You will heal & self repair & sign up for another relationship full of its own ruptures & repairs. It’s not ideal, opening yourself up like this, putting your shield down, but if you want the rewards of an intimate relationship, there’s no way around it.”

 

“I would learn 15 years too late that asking for consent, granting consent, surviving sexual violence, being called a good dude, & never initiating sexual relationships did not incubate me from being emotionally abusive. Consent meant little to nothing if it was not fully informed. What & to whom were my partners consenting if I spent our entire relationship convincing them that a circle was not a circle, but just a really relaxed square. I’d become good at losing weight & great at convincing women they didn’t see or know what they absolutely saw & knew. Lying there on that floor, I accepted that I’d actually never been honest with myself about what carrying decades of lies did to other people’s hearts & heads.”

 

 

“This has been a book about a conundrum. We have no choice but to talk to strangers, especially in our modern, borderless world. We aren’t living in villages anymore…Yet at the most necessary of tasks we are inept. We think we can transform the stranger without cost or sacrifice into the familiar & the known & we can’t.”

 

A book worth mentioning:

While it wasn’t a favorite of mine, I do believe it’s an important and worthwhile book. I’ve been a hospice social worker for over 3 years now so the information outlined isn’t new to me, but for someone not in the field, this is an essential handbook to help guide people during a time when it’s often difficult to think straight.

“Only a small fraction of us, 10 – 20% maybe, will die without warning. The rest of us will have time to get to know what’s going to end our lives. As discomforting as that can be, it does afford us some time to live with this knowledge, get used to it, & respond. We do have some choice about how we orient ourselves to the inevitable: where we’ll die, maybe, or around whom. And most important, how to spend the time meanwhile.”

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