Come along with me as I journal about my latest cooking and gardening adventures. Discover what grows in my zone five garden, and see what new recipes I try from my cookbook collection each week.

As I share recipes and information from my kitchen, I invite readers to comment and share ideas along with me in this blog. I am looking to increase followers to my blog, so that I may learn more about cooking and gardening.

Since moving to Midland, Michigan, I have been reading and researching many cooking journals, cookbooks and collected recipes from the past thirty years. Organizing pictures of gardens I enjoy has also been a joy for me, as I continue to learn about garden design and horticulture.

angel food cakes

angel food cakes
this kitchen is seasoned with love

Sunday, March 27, 2011

easy peanut butter cups

another Martha Stewart recipe that works every time.  this is a quick and easy treat for Easter. this recipe can be made in less than 30 minutes.  chill time is 20 to 30 minutes.

select a 24 mini muffin cup pan and line with mini muffin cups.  in a glass microwave bowl, add 1/2 cup or 4 ounces of white chocolate (or chips) to 1/2 cup SMOOTH peanut butter.  this recipe must be made with smooth peanut butter only.  melt for 1 minute in the microwave and stir to smooth.  DO NOT OVERHEAT or the chocolate will burn. 

in a second glass bowl, melt 12 ounces of bittersweet chocolate for 2 minutes in the microwave.

use a thin spoon (i use an iced tea spoon) to layer the dark chocolate first, then the peanut butter, and then finish with the dark chocolate on top of the cups.  sprinkle the cups with chopped peanuts or a nut topping.

place the muffin pan in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes to chill.  remove the cups from the freezer and serve.  or store the cups in the freezer covered with plastic in a freezer safe container.  bring the cups to room temperature or slightly cool to serve.  the flavor is maximized closer to room temperature.

cool pasta salad

for a summer picnic or for a spring luncheon, serve this tricolor pasta salad.  i use 2 cups of tricolor spiral pasta and boil as directed on the package.  rinse and cool the noodles before adding the rest of the ingredients.

i add 3/4 can of sliced black olives, 1/2 jar of green pimento stuffed and sliced olives, 2 ribs of celery sliced, about 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, 1 cup of deli turkey sliced in smaller pieces, and 1 small cucumber seeded and diced.

any salad dressing could be added before serving.  i have used a peppercorn dressing or a classic Italian vinaigrette.  mix the ingredients well, add the dressing if serving within an hour or so.  serve with crusty bread for a lunch, or with a main entree for dinner.  for presentation, i use larger romaine salad leaves on the plate and add the salad to the center.  Parmesan cheese can be added to the top for serving.

cherry muffins

 for your next special breakfast, try these cherry muffins.  they are made with dried Michigan cherries.

to make these quick muffins, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  then mix 2 cups flour, with 3 tsp of baking powder, 6 tablespoons of white sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt.  next add 1 egg, 1 cup milk and 3 tablespoons of melted margarine.

mix all to incorporate, and then add 1/2 cup of dried cherries which have been sliced in half or smaller.

fill muffin pan about 2/3 batter per cup.  bake 25 to 30 minutes.  cool and remove from pan to serve with tea, coffee or breakfast.  these are wonderful warm from the oven and can be served with any egg dish. the muffins rise beautifully in the tin and make a nice presentation.

stuffed mushrooms

select large white and portabella mushrooms for this appetizer or side dish.  prepare by lightly washing the mushrooms, removing grit, and centers.  place cap side down on a 1/2 sheet pan that has been lightly sprayed with olive oil.

next chop several stalks of celery and a small to medium white onion.  add panko bread crumbs, 3 tablespoons of melted butter, Parmesan cheese, parsley, sea salt, and ground pepper.  mix the ingredients in a bowl and stuff the mushrooms.  i usually have extra stuffing that i place around the mushrooms and bake along with them.

bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes until browned.  these mushrooms can be served alongside a variety of main dishes as a side vegetable.  they can even be used as a breakfast side on a buffet, or as an appetizer.

pasta, asparagus, and pancetta

springtime asparagus is a wonderful vegetable and can be incorporated into a variety of main dishes.  for my pasta asparagus with pancetta recipe, i used one large group of fresh asparagus fresh from the market.

the asparagus is cooked rapidly in boiling water for only 2 minutes, and then removed to an ice water bath to cool and stop the cooking time.  after the asparagus is cooling for a couple of minutes, i cut the asparagus into smaller pieces for the dish.

while the asparagus is cooking, i prepare thin spaghetti, enough for four servings, in boiling water. 
when these two ingredients are ready, the pasta dish can be assembled.

in a large saucepan, i brown one package of pancetta, which has been sliced in small pieces.  then, i add the prepared asparagus, and toss to coat and rewarm.  then, the cooked pasta is added with 1/4 stick of margarine to incorporate with all ingredients.  season with salt and pepper to taste.

here is a photo of the asparagus in the ice water bath, using a 1/2 sheet pan, cold water and ice.
serve with garlic bread, side salad and Parmesan cheese on top.

blueberry coffeecake

for any breakfast or brunch, this blueberry coffeecake is a great addition to the table.  in fact, the recipe is so versatile that any fruit could be substituted for the blueberries.  to make the coffeecake: preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  prepare a 9 inch springform pan with baking spray.  mix 4 tablespoons of butter with 1/2 cup of sugar, then add one egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

mix 1 cup of flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon of baking powder in a cup.  add these ingredients to the wet ingredients.  add 1/3 cup of milk and beat well to incorporate.

spread the batter in the pan and add 1 1/2 cups of fresh or frozen/thawed blueberries to the top of the mixture.  (any berry could be used here)  then, make the topping for the coffeecake.  mix 1/3 cup flour, with 4 tablespoons cold butter, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon together until the mixture is crumbly.  place on top of the blueberries.
bake the cake for 55 to 60 minutes.  cool slightly to remove from the pan. 

the coffeecake is not too sweet and can be served on any pedestal dish. dust the top of the cake with powdered sugar when serving if desired.