Saturday, May 16, 2009

Pasta Primavera

My idea of a perfect Saturday morning is a trip to the farmer's market. I remember going as a kid with my mom and dad. I remember the crowds of people perusing the bins of beautiful fresh green beans, silver queen corn, vibrant red tomatoes, and juicy peaches. Shelves filled with jars of country preserves of apple, peach, blackberry, and more. Homemade fried hand pies and smiling Southern ladies to whom everyone was called "Honey". Back then, I had no idea what treasures lied right there before me.

A couple of Saturdays ago, I had a really strong urge to go back to the farmer's market. The one I went to as a kid. And even though it was late in the afternoon, my husband and I got in the car and drove out there. It was just as I remembered it. And I came out with a huge bag full of farm fresh produce for around $10.00, handed to me by a lady with a smile and a "there you go, darlin'". You just can't beat that.

This recipe is a perfect application for spring / summer produce. You can really use any veggies you have on hand. I used zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, asparagus, red pepper, yellow pepper, and onion. It's simple, quick, and easy to customize to your tastes. The flavors are fresh and perfectly vibrant, bursting with summer. High quality olive oil and Parmesan cheese are a must.

After a long day of yard work or at the pool, nothing beats a plate of this served with some crusty bread. Make it tonight! You can find the recipe here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins

Who doesn't love a good blueberry muffin? They are a quintessential breakfast favorite. This is yet another Ina Garten recipe, and she hasn't failed me yet. These muffins were simply delicious. They are light, fluffy, and moist, with a delicate crumb, and almost sweet enough to be called dessert. The sweet batter is complemented by the tart, juicy blueberries, and I think these would be really nice with the addition of lemon; I hope to try that version soon. They come together quickly and would make the perfect treat to surprise someone with on a lazy Sunday morning - or anytime, really.

Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins
recipe adapted from Ina Garten


  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces (about 1 cup) sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 half-pints fresh blueberries, picked through for stems
  • turbinado sugar (optional)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place 16 paper liners in muffin pans.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, sour cream, and milk. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed add the flour mixture to the batter and beat until just mixed.

In a small bowl, dust the blueberries with a little extra flour and toss gently to coat. Coating the blueberries in a little flour will help them not sink to the bottom of the muffin tins. Fold about half of the blueberries into the batter with a spatula and be sure the batter is completely mixed. Reserve half of the blueberries (or a little less) to top the muffins with.

Top each muffin with three or four blueberries by pressing them into the top of the batter; this will give you a uniform, professional look, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar if desired.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling each cup just over the top, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the muffins are lightly browned on top and a cake tester comes out clean.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Coconut Bread with Sweet Pineapple Butter

If there's still any hint of cold where you are, or you're simply longing for ocean waves, salty air, and tropical drinks, this recipe will take you there. This bread is very easy to make and makes a perfect breakfast when toasted, slathered with the pineapple butter, and sprinkled with just a bit of powdered sugar. Pair with some fresh fruit and coffee, close your eyes, and transport yourself to the islands.
Coconut Bread with Sweet Pineapple Butter
recipe courtesy Tyler Florence, Tyler Florence's Real Kitchen

Coconut Bread Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut, toasted (see Note)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Turbinado sugar (optional)
Sweet Pineapple Butter Ingredients:
1(8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x5-inch loaf pan with butter. In a large bowl, mix the flour with the baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. In another large bowl, whisk together the melted butter with the brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, and lemon zest. Pour in the coconut milk and whisk together. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold everything together with a spatula until you have a smooth batter. Gently fold in the shredded coconut until evenly distributed. Pour into the prepared loaf pan and set it on a cookie sheet, and sprinkle with turbinado sugar (if desired). Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of the bread. Rotate the pan periodically to ensure even browning. Cool the bread in the pan for 20 minutes or so; then when cool enough to handle, remove the coconut bread to a cutting board and let it cool completely before slicing.
Press the liquid out of the crushed pineapple using the back of a spoon. (If there is too much juice, the fruit will separate from the butter.) In a small bowl, mash the pineapple with the softened butter until well blended. A food processor is a quick alternative to making the compound butter, so use it if you have one, Mound the butter in a small serving bowl. Toast the slices of coconut bread. Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve with the creamy pineapple butter.

Note: To toast the coconut: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the coconut on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes, stirring it periodically Toasting will fluff up the coconut and increase its volume (as well as make it taste better).

Friday, May 1, 2009

3 of My Favorite Things

Before I bring you more delicious recipes (I've got one for a really yummy coconut bread that's perfect for ushering in summer...), I wanted to share with you some of my favorite blogs, blog posts, and other foodie-related stuff on the interwebs. Today is a good day to share it (at least where I am) because it's gloomy and rainy outside, a perfect day to curl up with your laptop and a cup of tea, read some food blogs, and dream some culinary dreams. Or make this amazing cheesecake. It's up to you.

1. Tastespotting. A lot of you probably already know about this website, but I know some of my readers are brand new to the food blogging world. Amazing food photography and incredible food. I've gotten some excellent recipes through this site, and it's just a pleasure to look at. Check it out; you won't be sorry.

2. Organic cooking is something I've been researching a lot lately, and my friend Tara over at Woman Does Not Live on Bread Alone posted a wonderful, informative article on a more practical approach to buying organic produce. I've printed her list and I keep it in my purse to take with my to the grocery store. Really valuable information. Make sure you check out the rest of her blog - you are sure to find something delicious.

3. If you are a Food Network addict like me, you'll love I've seriously been laughing at it all week. One of my favorite posts is these hilarious FN Monopoly cards.

See you soon with that coconut bread recipe!