Spring Recipe Round-Up

I have totally missed the Easter boat.  And that is OK.  I haven’t missed it in real life non-blogging terms…but when it comes to the world of food blogs.  I missed the boat.  I missed the shuttle to the dock to meet the boat.  I missed the cab ride to the shuttle to catch the boat.  And I overslept.  And guess what, that is OK.  It isn’t the first.  Won’t be the last.

I so wanted to make little Easter egg shaped cakes that my grandma would always make – with pale green, yellow, and pink frosting making little dainty doodle-lee-dos …frosting that I still fall short of mastering even though she was using nothing other than the same three or four ingredients I use today in my own kitchen.  Just a simple, no brainer buttercream.  Powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, salt, and dairy.  She never was a baker with something up her sleeve…she made the basics taste so memorable.

So, maybe in a few weeks I will pull out the egg cake molds and bake cake eggs.   For Mother’s Day.  Totally appropriate.

Late for Easter, but right on time for a quick spring recipe round-up.  Hopefully these dishes will help you ease on into spring and enjoy the warmer temps and longer days and here is to hopping I get my act together next year.

Asparagus and Shrimp Stir Fry w/ Farro

BLT Salad with Avocado Vinaigrette

Roasted Vegetable and Caramelized Onion Farro Salad

Shrimp Curry

Pineapple Pie

Strawberry Infused Vodka 

Strawberry Lime Bundt Cake

Coconut Lime Bars

Blackberry Mojito

Blueberry Bundt Cake

Blackberry + Lemon Waffles

Mango Rhubarb Crisp

And what is spring without…

Mint Julep

Cheers!

Honey Roasted Pecan and Blue Cheese Biscuits

Hotel room service.

So crazy, Right?  Coffee.  14$?  How?  Why?  Highway robbery!!  Do they have to grow their own beans, roast them, hand grind them, and then pull water from a fresh spring?  Must they start a fire by rubbing two sticks together to heat the water?  And a delivery charge of 3$?  Are they building the stairs as they climb them?  Why don’t they use one of the 4 elevators and escalators to transport the food runners?  Seems more efficient. Those people movers are reliable…and it isn’t like they have to search for the room – they number them and put them in numerical order and construct them to form long straight hallways.  It is not a game of hide and go seek.

Convenience charge…that is what the 3$ delivery charge + exorbitant mark-up on the actual food itself + the 22% service charge should be called.  ‘because you are too lazy/hungover/entitled/spoiled/in a foreign city to come downstairs for breakfast or pack a granola bar, we will be more than happy to deliver a mediocre breakfast and weak coffee to your door and charge you out the ass.  Thank and Enjoy your stay!’  That is what the voice in my head mumbles when I order room service.

2 eggs over easy should never be 8$.  Even if they popped out the bottom end of a happy-go-lucky cage-free grass fed hand fed chicken.  Can anyone justify ordering 8$ scrambled eggs?  Plain.  No cheese. No veggies. Salt and pepper…maybe.  Coffee NOT included.

I can’t even justify paying 8$ for a honey roasted pecan and blue cheese biscuits…and they are bursting with flavor, satisfying, and they don’t leave you feeling like you just got duped.  Quite the opposite, they make you feel quite delightful.  Flaky warm buttermilk biscuits studded with sharp blue cheese and chunks of honey roasted pecans.  Buttered and then drizzled with a bit more honey.  Salt and sugar.  Sweet and savory.  The combo reminds me of this simple week night meal…a handheld version.

What I am really saying (beyond the idea that one could argue that I am cheap), that on this trip, I will be wishing I had packed a few biscuits…instead I will traipsing across the street to purchase a non-8$ egg sandwich and a cup of coffee that won’t leave me broke….

Biscuits!

Blue cheese + honey roasted pecans.

Crumble and roughly chop.

If you stopped here and just started eating … I would not blame you.  Salty sharp soft blue cheese and the sweet nutty crunchy honey roasted pecans…Heavens to Betsy!

Dry ingredients.  We are talking basics.  Flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda.

Wet ingredients…egg and buttermilk.  No buttermilk?  Milk and lemon.  Or milk and vinegar.  No milk?  Go to the store.  You need milk.  Duh.

I grate frozen butter.  Love breaking down butter into the flour with your fingertips?  Have had it…knock yourself out.  1000 ways to skin a cat. Who would skin a cat?

Grated butter meet flour.  Flour, grated butter.

A well is dug in the flour/butter and in goes the buttermilk and egg.

Stir (with fork/hand/wooden spoon) until a shaggy dough forms.  Fold in the goodies.  Have a tablespoon or so of extra buttermilk – just in case.  Sometimes you need more liquid.  Sometimes you don’t.  The more you make biscuits the easier it will be to make the more or less liquid call…So, yea…I am totally giving you the go-ahead to make more biscuits.

That flat circle-ish bit of dough … it takes a bit of kneading.  Be quick but gentle.  And grab your biscuit cutter.  I use biscuit cutter lightly…Mine was a can of chickpeas with both ends removed.  I roasted the chickpeas.

Biscuits.  Simple.  This you can do.

A bit more messy than a refrigerated can that scares the living day lights out of you when you begin to unwrap what seems like a harmless tube of dough.  Every time.  I jump.

Don’t wait for these bad boys to cool…

Steal one away…a little bit of hot potato action.

Pull it apart at a flaky buttery level.

Slather with butter and drizzle pour on the honey.

Breakfast of champions.

Ok, fine … if coffee was included (bottomless) … I could possibly justify a price tag of $8.  But don’t forget the salted butter and honey!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Honey Roasted Pecan and Blue Cheese Biscuits
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Cup Honey Roasted Pecans, roughly chopped
  • ¾ Cup Blue Cheese, roughly crumbled
  • 3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 + ½ Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ½ Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Tablespoon Sugar
  • ¾ Cup Unsalted Butter - very cold ( Stick in freezer for about 10-20 minutes)
  • ¾ Cup Buttermilk, cold
  • 1 Large Egg
  • Extra buttermilk for brushing the top
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Using a fork, break blue cheese into medium-ish crumbles and roughly chop honey roasted pecans. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.
  4. Grate cold butter into dry ingredients. If the butter becomes too soft, pop everything in freezer for 10 minutes and then continue on. Toss together butter and flour, it will resemble coarse meal.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and egg. Make a well in the flour/butter mixture and all at once, pour in the buttermilk/egg mixture and stir to form a soft dough. It will be rather shaggy.
  6. Fold in blue cheese and chopped pecans.
  7. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 10-15 times. Work quickly, but gently. Roll or pat dough to about a 1 inch thickness. With a floured biscuit cutter (or clean tin can with both ends removed) cut out biscuits – press, do not twist the biscuit cutter. Reshape and roll out extra dough, making more biscuits. Place biscuits onto an ungreased (or parchment lined) cookie tray and brush tops with extra buttermilk. Bake in preheated oven for about 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.
  8. Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes before serving. They are best when eaten fresh from the oven.
  9. Top with soft salted butter and honey.
  10. If there are any left over, let them cool completely and then wrap them tightly with tinfoil. Reheat by placing them in a 350F oven for 5-10 minutes. Perfection!

 Recipe for Honey Roasted Pecans 

Honey Roasted Pecans

It is …

Warm soft bun, salty all beef hotdog – season.

Cold overpriced I’ll take two to avoid lengthy lines later beer – season.

Red striped boxes  chock-full of salty butter flavored popcorn – season.

Enormous plastic must collect all by season’s end souvenir cups – season.

Helmet nacho season.  Enough said.

Eat my weight in roasted salted peanuts and then wonder why my fingers are swollen the following day – season.

The urge to purchase cotton candy every time the vendor wanders done my aisle – season.

It is watch, listen, breath baseball – season.

If you are new to my place here, welcome!  I am so very glad you stopped by … but know…I love baseball.  The game, the atmosphere, the strategy involved, the precision of the field, the crack of a bat, the hot dog races, the call of a homer, the pop of the ball inside a cather’s mit, a 4-6-3 double play, a 2 out rally, a walk off…

It makes my heart sing.  My soul to dance.  My very cells to shimmy.

And today friends (and by the time you read this…it will be a bit after the fact)…today is Opening Day  in the great city of Cleveland.  It is an unrecognized widely celebrated local holiday.  Vacation days are taken, school is skipped, sick days are had.  Sun, rain, snow, clouds, wind – we as, Cleveland Indian Fans, come out in hoards and celebrate the beginning of the baseball season.   All of us thinking, this is our year.

I made a snack for today that would be great for any ballgame from now through October (fingers crossed!).  At home, in the stadium, at a cookout.  The batch here, is nearly all gone, since I ate them while watching re-runs of The Office and drinking coffee…but I will be making many more to be enjoyed while sitting on the patio, listening to Tom call a game, sipping on a cold brew.

We are talking crisp nutty pecans and oh – so sweet honey, finished with a fine layer of sugar (eek!) and coarse kosher salt.
People!  It is baseball season!!!  Wahoo!

4 Ingredients.  Pecan halves.  Honey.  Sugar.  Salt.

Warmed honey.  Pecans coated.  This is where life gets good.

All kinds of sticky going on.  Guess what?  I don’t like sticky.  I hate sticky. I tolerate sticky.

Easy to tolerate when sticky is wrapped around pecans.  Not so much when the sticky is wrapped inconspicuously around a spoon handle…ARGH!

Sticky pecans, single layer, parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake.

Bake.  Sugar.  Salt.  Cool.

 

Graze while they cool.  Taste testing, if you will.  Quality control.

Pile into jam jars … perfect transport vessel for such a large number of my favorite things.  Jam, jelly, booze, nuts…

Grab me a beer (or a cup of coffee), a handful of these honey roasted pecans, a good ballgame, and I am set.  (p.s…my inner 90 year old is jumping hobbling for joy!)

Enjoy!!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Honey Roasted Pecans
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb Whole Pecan Halves (unroasted)
  • ⅓ Cup Honey
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 2 Teaspoons Coarse Salt (Kosher)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a microwave safe dish, warm honey in microwave for 20 to 30 seconds to loosen it up.
  3. Place pecans in a medium mixing bowl and pour warmed honey over pecans. Toss to coat pecans well.
  4. Pour pecans out onto prepared baking sheet, separating pecans with a fork until they are in a single layer.
  5. Place in preheated oven and bake for 6 minutes. Remove from oven, stir and re-spread out into an even layer. Return to oven for an additional 6 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for about 5 minutes - make sure the pecans are not layered and that they are, for the most part, not sticking to each other. If need be, separate with a fork.
  6. After five minutes, sprinkle with sugar and salt and let cool for about 30 to 45 minutes.
  7. Once cooled, break apart any large pieces and transfer to an airtight container. Store at room temperature for several days.

 

,

 

 

Buttermilk Lemon Chess Pie

Did you spring break?  Break for spring.  I am still waiting on spring…but that is another story…I won’t talk about the snow that greeted me this morning that had me silently weeping and cursing mother nature and wishing I lived in where snow was not in the vernacular after the calendar moved beyond winter.  (side note…that snow was one week ago.  We had another 7 inches on this past Saturday.)  I am done.  That is my rant. It snowed.  boo hoo.  It’s spring.  Kinda.

I am instituting a break for spring next year.  Too early to make 2015 resolutions?  It is about being prepared, people.

I am going to drive south or south west until I reach a consistent day time temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit.  I have no real destination in mind.  No real plan mapped in my head.  Only warm weather, fresh air, flip flops, refreshing cocktails, good company.  That is all that is needed.  No cruises with added expeditions.  No all inclusive clubs that require a 20 hour flight and drinking water restrictions.  None of that.  Simple and quiet and warm.  In 2015, in March…for one week…that is where you will find me.  Fingers crossed.

Until then…I have pie!  No substitute for spring break vacation…but, it’s a decent consolation prize for like 34th place.
Lemon buttermilk chess pie is all about bringing the south to you.   And with hope in my heart, bringing warm weather as well.  I am sort of caught up on this warm weather bit…I apologize.

And we are rollin…

Pie Crust : Flour, salt, sugar.  Butter.  Buttermilk.  Kaboom.

Cold butter into flour.  Stop when butter is pea sized.  Work fast.  If butter gets to warm and begins to soften, place in freezer for 15 minutes until chilled again.  Continue on…

Buttermilk in.  Stir until combined.  Turn out onto floured surface…knead a few times, gently, until a soft shaggy dough ball forms.  Don’t overwork.  You might need a bit more buttermilk.  It depends.

Pie crust needs to chill out in the fridge…just for a bit.  Not something you want to skip.  That butter needs to get cold again and the gluten needs to some R and R.

My crust never seems to keep it’s nice crimped edges…but, I have it at some point during the process.  That is good enough for me.

Say Hello! to my pie beans.  Blind baking…not as scary as it sounds.

Gather.  Eggs, citrus, sugar, flour, corn meal, butter, buttermilk.  Basic winter pantry stock items.

I like using zest … it is about using the whole fruit.

We are squeezing every last bit out of these lemons….

 And that orange.  Just the juice though.

Rubbing zest into sugar is stress relieving … smashing zest into granules of sugar and then the heavy aroma of citrus making its way to your nose… talk about sugar scrub meets aroma therapy meets sweet lemon flavored sugar.  Hello, Heaven!

Cornmeal assists flour today in the thickening department…it also brings a bit of texture to the table too.

 Eggs.  5.

But first, melted butter.  Cooled.  And then those lovely eggs are whisked in.  Whisk with all your  might until it’s all smooth and silky.   We are pie baking and bicep building…

Lemon and orange juice.

Piled dirty dishes … small bowls piled … makes my innards feel good.

Whisked bubbles.

It’s a pour and bake situation.

Share it.  Totally share it. We are in the business of making people happy.  Pie = fast route to happiness.

Buttermilk Lemon Chess Pie
 
Ingredients
Pie Crust
  • ½ Cup of Butter, cold (very)
  • 1+1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 Teaspoons Sugar
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • ⅓ Cup Buttermilk - very cold
Filling
  • 1 Tablespoon Grated Lemon Zest (1 lemon)
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • ½ Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 + ½ Tablespoon Yellow Cornmeal
  • 1 Tablespoon All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • 5 Large Eggs
  • 5 Tablespoon Butter, melted and cooled
  • ⅔ Cup Buttermilk
  • 7 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice (about 3-4 lemons)
  • 3 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
  • ½ Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
Instructions
Prepare Pie Crust
  1. Cut butter into small chunks or shred using a cheese grater. Place butter in freezer for about 10 minutes. While butter is chilling, combine flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Toss butter in flour mixture and begin to break down the butter using a pastry blender or your fingers (this will be faster if you grate the butter). Work until butter is pea-sized. Return mixture to freezer for an additional 10 minutes - keeping the butter cold is key.
  2. Remove from freezer and form a well into the center of the mixture and pour in ice cold buttermilk all at once. With your hand or a fork, stir the flour into buttermilk well. A dough ball will begin to form, but the dough will be rather shaggy - if it remains rather dry, add an additional tablespoon of buttermilk. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape dough into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap and place in fridge for an hour to chill out. This will give time for the butter to get cold again and the flour to get moist.
  3. After one hour, remove dough from fridge and on a lightly floured surface roll dough out into a 12 inch wide circle. Transfer pie dough to a 9 inch pie dish and without stretching dough, tuck the pie dough into the dish. There will be excess dough hanging over edges. If needed, trim off anything beyond ½ inch or so. Crimp edges with thumb and pointer fingers. Place pie in freezer for about 15 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 400F
  5. Remove from freezer and with a large piece of tinfoil (about 2 pie lengths) - line pie crust with tinfoil, tucking it along the bottom and edges. Leave a few inches of foil hanging over the edges for easy removal later. Fill tinfoil lined pie crust wtih dried beans.
  6. Place in preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven and carefully remove tinfoil and dried beans. Set aside and reuse for future pies. Reduce oven temperature to 375F. Prick the bottom of the crust with the tines of a fork 8 to 10 times. Return to oven and continue to bake for an additional 8 to 10 minutes until slightly golden brown. If the crust begins to puff up along the edges or bottom, poke tiny holes into those areas with a sharp paring knife. Remove from oven and let cool competely on a wire rack. Prepare filling.
Filling
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine lemon zest and both sugars. Rub zest into sugar using your fingers. Add cornmeal, flour, and salt. Stir to combine.
  3. Stir in melted butter. Add eggs, mixing well between each addition. When all the eggs are added, stir filling briskly until thickened and light in color.
  4. Stir in buttermilk, lemon juice, orange juice, and vanilla extract.
  5. Strain mixture into partially pre baked pie crust and place in preheated oven. Bake until edges are puffed up and set and the center jiggles just a tad when it is nudged. The top will be golden brown. About 40 to 50 minutes. Don't over bake.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool completely on wire rack for 3-4 hours before slicing and serving. Stores in refrigerator up to 2 to 3 days.

Glazed Orange Ricotta Cake

Some evenings, before I tuck myself into bed for a goodnights slumber, I will tuck away a baked good into a carrying case, snug as a bug in a rug, for my co-workers to dive into the following morning.  Often, there is but one piece missing – the one that I carefully cut away to snap a few pictures of while standing on a chair/desk/stool making sure to keep my toes out of the viewfinder.  A piece that I enjoy after dinner with a bit of coffee or perhaps tea …

And then there are some mornings where I awake and find a note next to a near empty carrying case and a few stray crumbs … a note scribbled stating- ‘Sorry babe, don’t hate me…I was hungry and this cake is so GOOD!’.

Dudes.

Dudes!

Dudes…

So, now I pack up a baked good and leave my own note…’don’t eat this or I will kill you…there are granola bars in the pantry, eat those…they are on the third shelf, next to the beans…’ – I have found you need to be exact with the location since he is looking through man eyes.  Yes, Man Eyes…eyes that are just stuck in the eye sockets of men for social normalcy and only used for avoiding running into walls.  They are one step away from glass eye balls.  One step.  Man eyes are unable to  find anything in refrigerators, cupboards, pantries, etc… It can be used in a sentence as a noun…as in, ‘were you looking for the mustard in the fridge with your man eyes? ‘  (disclaimer, totally not hating here, because I am not the best finder of lost things within the depths of a fridge, but I do look beyond the first row….)

Maybe I should take to hiding the baked goods in such places.

Oh, good heavens.  Let’s bake…

Start with ricotta…and stir it into a splash of half and half until smooth and creamy.

Zest a bit of orange, scent your house with orange, and realize that your hand is much too small to grate more than one orange.  Hand.  Cramps.  Ouch.

Take those fingers of yours and rub the zest right into the sugar.  Orange sugar.  Boom!

Eggs and butter and flour and oranges.  All the stuff you will need.  Gather it up.  You don’t have to use a million little bowls.  That is just me and my weirdness.  And crazy love for small bowls that hold a mere two eggs.

 

Cut that orange in half and juice it.  Just a 1/4 cup.  Gulp down the rest and then 20 minutes later when you are experiencing the worst heartburn ever and eating TUMS like an old man, make a mental note…no orange juice.  Ever. Like, ever ever.

Whisk in the eggs, vanilla,  and orange juice into the orange sugar.  I love my KitchenAid mixer, but adore recipes that don’t use it.  I like whisks and wooden spoon and single bowl recipes.  It is more easy like a Sunday morning, than OH MY GOSH, I need 2 dozen cupcakes in 2 hours for a bake sale I knew about for 3 months.

Cooled melted butter is the next invitee to join the party.  Make sure it is cool so we don’t cook the eggs before it is time to do so…ya know, in the oven.

Fold in 1/3 the dry ingredients.

Then goes 1/2 the ricotta and half and half…And then another 1/3 of dry ingredients…And then the remaining half of the ricotta mixture….And then the final 1/3 of the dry ingredients.  So we start and finish with dry ingredients, alternating with wet.

Pour batter into parchment lined loaf pan.  Bake.

Glaze : Powdered sugar (confectioner’s) and a bit of orange juice.  Whisk.  Pour.

Glaze…best part.  If you wanted to add a bit of extra zest to the glaze…I wouldn’t argue with the awesomeness of that.

 

See, best part.  So darn sexy.

 

Glazed Orange Ricotta Cake
 
Ingredients
cake
  • 1+1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ Cup Ricotta Cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons Half and Half
  • Zest of 1 Orange, grated
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • ¼ Cup Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice (about ½ of an orange)
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • ⅓ Cup (5 + ⅓ T) Unsalted Butter, Melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Glaze
  • 1 Cup Confectioner's Sugar
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Orange Juice
Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line loaf pan (about a 5in x 10in) with parchment paper
  2. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together ricotta cheese and half and half until smooth. Set aside.
  4. Combine grated orange zest and sugar in large mixing bowl and using your fingers, rub the zest into the sugar.
  5. Whisk in ¼ cup of orange juice, 2 eggs, cooled butter, and vanilla extract.
  6. Fold in ⅓ of the flour mixture until just combined, Fold in ½ of ricotta mixture. Continue this (flour, ricotta, flour, ricotta, flour) mixing after each addition.
  7. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and place in preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes until browned and golden and toothpick when inserted comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and let cool for about 10 to 15 minutes before turning out of pan and letting it cool completely before glazing.
Glaze
  1. Sift confectioner's glaze into a small bowl. Add in 2 to 3 tablespoons of orange juice and whisk until smooth.
  2. Pour glaze over cooled cake.
  3. Trick: To set glaze, place cake under broiler for about 20 to 30 seconds. Remove immediately.