THE Blueberry Muffins

If you live with children under the age of 10 then you know that they can be very….particular, about what they do and do not like to eat.

Maybe some of you even live with adults who are the same way.

I live with my niece, and although I know she’s not as picky an eater as other little kids I’ve known, she is a girl who knows her own mind and her own taste buds. She likes what she likes. She doesn’t like what she doesn’t like. She’s polite, but if she’s not into something I make, she’ll opt not to eat it and ask for something else.

However.

When she discovers that she IS into something I make, I get requests for it A LOT. And the best (at times, funny) part is, most of the things that go over the best with her, are the simplest to put together.

Case in point, today’s recipe.

My niece LOVES my blueberry muffins.

I mean, to the point where I never have to ask beforehand whether or not she’s in the mood to have them; the answer is literally always yes.

If she’s really hungry, she can put away three or four of these bad boys in one sitting, easily. Which, is a great feeling for me personally.

Outside of a significant other, or a woman over the age of 50, I don’t think there’s any better praise I like getting for my cooking than a little kid. And the second best part of that is, these are some of the easiest things that I bake.

Even if you don’t like blueberries, I think it’s hard to dislike blueberry muffins. They’re just really, really good. I know that it’s super easy in this day and age to go down the baking aisle in the grocery store and pick up a “Just Add Water” mix, but…just hear me out.

It’s just as easy and more than worth it to make them from scratch. It really is.

I’m including two ways to make this recipe: you can make them in regular muffin cups, or you can also bake them in a muffin top pan–one of my more recent kitchenware buys that I’m very pleased with. Both taste wonderful, both are easy to do. Besides that, these are Picky-Eater certified.

What better endorsement could you need to try them out?

THE Blueberry Muffins

Recipe Adapted from AllRecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • ⅓ cup milk, or as needed*
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners, or spray a muffin top pan.

Combine the flour, the white sugar, salt and baking powder in a medium size bowl.

Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup

Add the egg and vanilla extract. If you’re making regular muffins, add the 1/3 cup of milk or as needed to reach the 1-cup mark. If making the muffin tops, add only 1/4 cup of milk

Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries.

Fill muffin cups or muffin top cavities.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #398, co-hosted this week by Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.

Mixed Herb Slider Rolls

This week’s post is actually somewhat of a companion to my last one where I came up with what I must say, was a very tasty dish. I made them at the same time, being that it was summer, and that put me in the mood for a really good slider sandwich.

I’m of the belief that you can turn just about any meat dish into a sandwich if you’ve the mind to do so.

(And quite often, I do.)

For me, it really does come down to the bread just as much as it does the meat filling.

Now, could I have just bought a pack of Hawaiian Rolls and made do with those?

I mean, yeah…but.

Hawaiian Rolls can be a bit overrated. They come in the package all smushed and wrinkly, and they’re really not even that big. A slider’s not a full sandwich but it’s not an amuse bouche either.

And anyway, if I’d gone the Hawaiian Rolls route, we wouldn’t be here discussing these today–and these are just so much better

When I find a bread recipe that I like/love, I tend to stay pretty loyal to it, and just experiment with different methods of varying it out and seeing what else I can do with it. Thus, these slider rolls are actually based upon a bread I first made and loved, several years ago, but hadn’t made in a while.

I kept the based bread recipe itself the same, the variation comes in with the shaping and arrangement. Here, I shaped the dough into slider-sized portions, then brushed/dipped the rolls in an herb butter mixture, then placed them close together into 13 x 9 baking dishes.

Be aware should you make these: they make a LOT of slider rolls. Two baking dishes worth. But I did that on purpose as I was thinking in terms of summertime barbecues or even fall tailgating where big batches are ideal for a crowd.

The finished rolls will keep beautifully in the freezer, or you can always cut the recipe in half if you’d prefer to have less.

Texture is everything with these; the combination of cornmeal, white and whole wheat flour gives them BEAUTIFUL, light, and slightly chewy texture that is everything I want in a piece of bread. The flavors added from the herbs and butter really take them over the top.

See recipes below for meat recipes on the blog that I think would make EXCELLENT sliders for these.

Guinness Shredded Beef Sandwiches

Pulled Brown Sugar Chicken

Oven Roasted Tri-Tip Steak

Pulled Jerk Chicken

Roasted Garlic & Herb Smothered Chicken

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

Mixed Herb Slider Rolls

Recipe Adapted from Bake from Scratch and Jess@Cooking is My Sport

Ingredients

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tsp, divided
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 eggs, well-beaten, plus one egg, divided.
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 to 5 cups all purpose white flour, as needed
  • 2/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon flaked sea salt
  • Garnish: chopped fresh rosemary, chopped fresh thyme, chopped fresh parsley

Directions

Combine the milk, cornmeal, butter or margarine, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt in medium saucepan. Warm over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon and allowing to cook until the mixture if slightly thickened. Add 1/2 cup water and mix well. Set aside to cool.

Soften active dry yeast in warm water (110 degrees F). Sprinkle the 1 tsp of sugar on top and allow to sit for 10 minutes or until yeast is frothy.

Combine cornmeal mixture, yeast, and 2 well-beaten eggs together in the bowl of a standing mixer, using the paddle attachment to combine together.

Then, using the dough hook attachment, add the cup of whole wheat  first, mixing to combine completely.  Add enough of the all purpose white flour to make a soft dough. It should be a smooth,pliable dough that no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl, but also not too dry.

Place the dough in another greased bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover with a layer of plastic wrap, then a damp kitchen towel. Place in a warm place for about an hour.

In a small bowl, stir together melted butter, rosemary, thyme, parsley, and the 1 teaspoon kosher salt.

Line two 13 x 9 baking pans with parchment paper and lightly spray with cooking spray.

Divide dough into 24 pieces. With lightly floured hands, working with 1 piece at a time (keep remaining dough covered to prevent it from drying out), roll each piece into a smooth ball. Dip each ball into melted butter mixture, and place into the baking pans. Pour any remaining melted butter mixture over dough in pan. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Sprinkle dough with flaked salt.


Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 190°F (88°C), 35 to 40 minutes, covering with foil halfway through baking to prevent excess browning, if necessary. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and garnish with rosemary, thyme, and parsley, if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #396.

Roasted Garlic & Herb Smothered Chicken

I thought up this recipe in what’s probably the most ‘me’ way possible:

I was lying awake one night in bed, staring at my ceiling and trying to decide what I was going to cook for dinner that weekend. I had plenty of old options that I’ve made before and would’ve worked, but I wanted to do something new and different. I didn’t feel like being very finicky or working with a lot of ingredients. I just wanted a simple, but hearty and comforting dish.

There are certain ingredients that I know from experience of both taste and cooking can make chicken shine better than others.

Herbs and garlic are right at the top of that list.

By the time I made up my mind about using those ingredients, I still didn’t have an exact play by play for the dish, but I figured that as long as those ingredients remained the main flavor profile, it would be almost impossible to screw up so that it would be inedible.

The recipe title really says it all here, you guys. I brown the chicken first to give it good flavor, then I braise it in a broth/gravy that I made from a base of roasted garlic paste and herbs of thyme, parsley, rosemary and bay leaf.

It turned out exactly how I wanted it to. The flavors here created from the roasted garlic and herbs are just outstanding. It tastes clean and comforting without being heavy and braising the chicken makes it easy to pull into shredded pieces that as you can see, are perfect for sliders (which is another way that I served them).

This was a great experiment and well worth sharing here on the blog.

Roasted Garlic & Herb Smothered Chicken

Recipe by Jess@CookingisMySport

Ingredients

  • 6 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into medium sized (about 2 inches) cubes
  • 2 large sweet onions
  • 3 whole garlic heads
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of your favorite multi-purpose seasoning (I used Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Saute)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups (1 full bunch) of fresh parsley
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 80 oz. chicken broth*

Directions

For Roasted Garlic:

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Peel the loose skin away from the garlic and cut the tops off of the heads, but make sure the cloves stay attached to each other. Place them on a long strip of aluminum foil. Drizzle them with the oil and sprinkle evenly with salt & pepper.

Draw up the ends of the foil and tightly seal it into a package. Place the foil package in a shallow dish. Roast in the oven for about 50 minutes. Allow to cool completely, then remove the roasted garlic to a small bowl by pressing the cloves out of the remaining skins and into a small bowl with your fingers (they should come out easily).

Set the garlic aside for now.

For Chicken:

Divide the cubed chicken into two 1 gallon sized plastic bags.

In a medium size bowl combine 2 cups of the flour with the multi purpose seasoning and stir together with a fork.

Evenly divide the flour mixture between the two ziploc bags. Seal tightly, then toss to coat thoroughly, so that there is an even layer over meat.

Coat the bottom of a large non-stick stockpot or Dutch Oven with a few tablespoons of canola, vegetable or olive oil. Brown the floured meat over high heat on the stovetop. Don’t worry about it cooking all the way through, just cook long enough to give it some color. When it’s browned, temporarily move the meat to a sheet pan. Don’t overcrowd the pot, you’ll have to repeat/do this in about 2-3 batches to get through all of the meat.

When you’re finished browning the meat, add a little bit more oil to the pot, then add the onions. Cook over medium heat until they’re softened and translucent, 5-10 minutes. Remove the onions from the pot and place them with the browned chicken.

Mash the roasted garlic with a fork until it is in a smooth paste.

Pour the chicken broth into the pot with the garlic paste, the herbs, the bay leaves, the honey and the soy sauce. Use a wire whisk to stir, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Allow to cook for about 10 minutes, tasting and adjusting for seasoning (but also keep in mind, it’s going to develop even more flavor in the oven, so it’s okay if it doesn’t taste perfect just yet)

Spray two 11 x 13 baking dishes with cooking spray and place the browned chicken and onions in the dishes. When the garlic-herb broth is at your taste level, ladle it over the chicken so that is is at least half-submerged. (You’ll have extra broth leftover, this is fine) Cover the baking dishes tightly with foil.

Braise in the oven for 50-60 minutes, until the chicken can be easily pulled apart with a fork.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #394, co-hosted this week by the lovely Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Peach Rosemary Breakfast Rolls

The summer really is flying by, isn’t it?

I can’t believe we’re at the half-way mark of August already. Inevitably, the end of summer lights a fire beneath me to make and eat all of the ‘summer’ foods as quick as I can before they’re out of season and the Fall’s here all over again.

I love finding new recipes to try that then give me options to be able to try out yet another recipe. I’ve done it several times before on the blog, with great results. Today’s another one of them.

In last week’s post, I made Peach Rosemary Jam, as a nod to my favorite summer snack: the peach.

Peach jam is always a great thing to have on hand in your fridge for toast or biscuits, or scones but as soon as I first tasted the finished product, I knew it was too good to not at least try to incorporate into something else. Jam is a great for fillings, whether it’s mini pies or tarts or today’s recipe: breakfast rolls.

Since my sister doesn’t like cinnamon rolls (sigh), I’m always trying to experiment with different types of breakfast rolls with different fillings that I can make that still remind me of them enough to where I don’t miss them too much. I’ve had some pretty great results with it thus far and I’m pleased to say that today I’m making another addition to that growing list.

To minimize the labor time for these, I recommend splitting it up over two days. Make the jam at least one day ahead; it could not be easier to put together, but it’ll taste the best when it’s had time to have an overnight rest in the fridge so that the texture can set and the flavors can develop.

After the jam is done, you proceed the same way you would with any sweet roll recipe. I really wanted the jam to be star of these, but I did add a tiny bit of cinnamon to the dough.

Honestly? It’s like getting to eat peach pie for breakfast.

Final note: I did give a recipe for icing for these just in case you wanted the full ‘breakfast roll’ experience. I iced some and left some plain just for comparison, and honestly, I don’t think they need the icing at all. They’re plenty delicious enough on their own.

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Peach Rosemary Breakfast Rolls

Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 2 teaspoons active yeast
  • 3/4 cup milk, warmed to about 100°F
  • 1/2 cup  (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temp
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon white sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Filling

  • 2 lb. yellow peaches, pitted, peeled, and coarsely chopped (about 6 cups)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

For Icing (Optional)

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • A few tablespoons fresh orange juice

Directions

For Dough

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast on top of the warm milk, then sprinkle the 1 tablespoon of white sugar on top. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until proofed and frothy.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, use the paddle attachment to combine the butter, eggs, 1/4 cup of sugar, vanilla, and 1 cup of flour with the yeast mixture until smooth and combined.

Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining flour, along with the salt and cinnamon. Knead for about 5 minutes, until a soft slightly sticky dough is formed.

Sprinkle a clean work surface with flour and knead with your hands about 5 more minutes until the dough is smooth and pliable. Grease a separate bowl and punch the dough down into it, then flip it back up so that both sides are oiled. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a damp towel and allow to rest until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.

For Filling (I recommend making this a day ahead)

Place the peaches in a large nonreactive skillet. Stir in the sugar and rosemary. Let sit, stirring once or twice, until the sugar begins to dissolve, 5 to 10 minutes.

Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium high, and cook, stirring frequently, until the peaches start to break down, the liquid begins to evaporate, and the mixture begins to thicken, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice. If you find that the chunks of fruit are too big for your liking, use a potato masher to help break them down.

Continue to cook until the jam has thickened, 3 to 4 minutes more; it is done when you can pull a spatula through the jam and the space you clear stays open for 2 or 3 seconds. The mixture will continue to thicken as it cools, so make sure to stop a little shy of your desired thickness.

After it has cooled to room temperature, place jam in the fridge to chill.

For Assembly: Grease a 13 x 9 baking dish. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and roll out to a large rectangle, about 10 x 15 inches. Use a spatula to spread about heaping 1 cup of the peach jam filling on top of the dough. Roll the dough up from the long end tightly to keep filling from spilling out. Use a bench scraper or sharp knife to divide in half. Divide each half into 6 pieces so that you have 12 rolls. Arrange the rolls cut side down in the bottom of the baking dish. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and damp towel and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 90 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Bake rolls for 35 minutes on the middle rack or until dough inner temp reaches 190°F. Meanwhile, combine all of the ingredients for the icing together in a bowl. Pour/spoon some of the icing on top of the rolls as soon as they come out of the oven. Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving, but they are best eaten still warm.

Linking to Fiesta Friday #393.

Peach Rosemary Jam

There’s no other food that screams summer to me more than peaches. When I bite into a ripe, juicy peach, at once I’m reminded of the things I love about the summer time.

Longer days. Sundresses. Cook outs (pre-covid, anyway). Ice cream at sunset. The taste of grilled meat. Random road trips. Even the heat (to a certain extent.) Peaches all can take me there.

I like to cook and bake with peaches almost as much as I like to eat them, and with this week’s recipe I got to do both.

Making jam sounds like one of those super involved projects that aren’t worth the effort, but it’s not hard, really. The most laborious part of it is prepping the fruit, and then having the patience to let it cook down to the right consistency.

Fruit and herbs is one of my favorite flavor combinations, and the peaches and rosemary make an excellent combination for jam here. I was a little concerned going into it that the rosemary would overpower the peach taste, but it doesn’t. The lemon at the end does the perfect amounting of rounding out the sweet of the peach, the herby flavor of the rosemary with a hint of tartness.

This is good stuff, y’all.

Peach Rosemary Jam

Recipe Courtesy of Fine Cooking

Ingredients

  • 2 lb. yellow peaches, pitted, peeled, and coarsely chopped (about 6 cups)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

Directions

Place the peaches in a large nonreactive skillet. Stir in the sugar and rosemary. Let sit, stirring once or twice, until the sugar begins to dissolve, 5 to 10 minutes.

Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium high, and cook, stirring frequently, until the peaches start to break down, the liquid begins to evaporate, and the mixture begins to thicken, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice. If you find that the chunks of fruit are too big for your liking, use a potato masher to help break them down.

Continue to cook until the jam has thickened, 3 to 4 minutes more; it is done when you can pull a spatula through the jam and the space you clear stays open for 2 or 3 seconds. The mixture will continue to thicken as it cools, so make sure to stop a little shy of your desired thickness.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #392.

Iced Chelsea Buns

More than a few of you are probably fans of the British baking competition show The Great British Bakeoff. I know I am. Although it’s a competition, and a lot of the winners/contestants go onto have lucrative careers as culinary personalities, I appreciate that the majority people who come on the show appear to do so solely for the love they have of baking. There’s nothing wrong those things, but there’s no cash prize or guarantee of an influencer gig in Bakeoff; they’re just there to bake.

Veteran watchers of the show know that there are some recipes that make consistent appearances on Bakeoff. Personally, it’s the authentically British recipes that tend to be my favorite; recipes like lemon drizzle cake, sticky toffee pudding, pork pies, and…chelsea buns.

A Chelsea bun is basically a sweet bun made with an enriched dough (enriched meaning it has butter, eggs and milk), then is filled with dried fruit and topped with a glaze, an icing, or in some cases both. One of the judges on Bakeoff, Paul Hollywood, is very vocal about his love for Chelsea buns and as such, is very critical of the contestants when/if it comes time for them to make their own versions.

I’ve tried out several Bakeoff recipes on the blog before, but up until now still hadn’t gotten around to the old Chelsea Bun. However, I have made quite a few enriched sweet roll recipes before, so I knew going into it that the process probably wouldn’t be too different from what I’m used to.

I’ve gotta say, that Paul Hollywood really knows what he’s doing when it comes to bread. The Chelsea Buns baked up very light and fluffy on the inside, with a golden brown finish on top. The plump dried fruit on the inside gave them tiny bursts of tart flavor that complemented the sweetness. I’ve included the recipe for the icing because I typically prefer it myself, but honestly, you could eat these plain and still be a happy camper.

Get the vaccine. If you’re not going to get the vaccine, then wear a mask and practice social distancing.

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Iced Chelsea Buns

Recipe Adapted from Paul Hollywood

Ingredients

For Dough

  • 500 grams (Roughly about 4 1/4 cups) bread flour*
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup white sugar, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened not melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk, warmed

For Filling

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (50g for both filling and greasing baking pan,) softened but not melted
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups dried cranberries, cherries or currants (or a mixture of all the above if you like)

For Icing

  • 1 cup confectioner’s (powdered) sugar
  • Zest of about ½ orange (about 1 tablespoon)
  • About 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice

Directions

In a large glass measuring cup, pour in the milk, sprinkle in the yeast, and then add 1 tablespoon of the sugar on top of that. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, until yeast is proofed and frothy.

Pour the yeast mixture into the bowl of a standing mixer (or, if you’re using a handheld mixer or baking by hand, pour it in in a large bowl)

Add the rest of the sugar, the salt, the butter, the egg and 2 cups of the flour. Use the dough hook(s) (or a wooden spoon if you’re making by hand) to combine.

Stir until the mixture is well mixed and starts coming together as a soft dough. You may add more flour here as needed, but the actual amount you will need will vary according to your location and the time of year. Keep in mind, this is meant to be a soft dough and you don’t want to add any more flour than necessary. Only add enough to hold it together

Turn dough onto a lightly floured pastry mat or pastry board; knead dough with your greased hands until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.

Lightly grease the large mixing bowl with butter or cooking spray. Place dough in the greased bowl. Cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap and a damp small kitchen towel. Let dough rise is a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. 

Line a 13 x 9 baking sheet with parchment paper and spray the paper with cooking spray.

Turn the risen dough out onto your work surface. Knead dough briefly, 4 to 5 times. Roll the dough into a rectangle about 21-inches by 10-inches.

Spread 3 tablespoons of softened butter over the top of the dough. Spread the brown sugar evenly over the top to within 1 inch of the edges. Sprinkle the cinnamon evenly over the brown sugar, then scatter the dried fruit evenly over the top.

Roll-up dough jelly-roll style, starting with a long side, rolling the dough quite tightly. Place the roll seam-side down, and gently roll the entire roll on the lightly floured board with the palm of your hands to even-out the roll to the same thickness.

Using a sharp kitchen knife or a bench scraper, slice off the very ends of the roll where the ends are uneven (slice off about ½ inch, the ends can be discarded.) Slice the long dough roll into 12 equal pieces, and place the rolls cut side up evenly apart in the baking pan. (Measure the length of the roll and use the back of a kitchen knife to mark the roll at the half-way point. Then mark each half into 6 pieces. After marking, use a sharp knife to slice the rolls all the way through.)

Cover pan with plastic wrap and the damp kitchen towel again and let rolls rise and spread out in a warm place, about 1 hour. Tip: The rolls should be about doubled in size, spread out with the sides touching, and look quite puffy. If the centers are popped up you can gently push the centers back down with your fingers.

While the rolls are rising, preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes or until the rolls are a rich golden brown or the internal temperature reads 180 to 190 degrees F using an instant read thermometer to gauge the temperature. Remove rolls from oven. Place pan on a wire cooling rack to cool slightly while preparing the icing.

In a small bowl, combine confectioner’s sugar, orange zest, and enough orange juice to make a good spreading consistency. Spread the orange icing on top of the still warm rolls.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #391.

Ginger Syrup & Candied Ginger

Today’s post is 3 + years overdue.

Several years ago, I made a blog post for a curry-ginger cracker recipe that I REALLY liked, and in that post I made mention of my recently learning at the time how to make something called ginger syrup.

Ginger syrup isn’t readily available in most general grocery stores in the US. Sometimes you can find it in specialty shops like HomeGoods, Marshalls or TJ Maxx, but I had honestly never heard of it until I needed it as an ingredient for a recipe I was trying out, couldn’t find it anywhere and had to learn to make it myself.

Candied ginger I was much more familiar with, and it’s an ingredient that is much more easy to find than ginger syrup. However, depending upon the time of year that you try to buy it in, it has a tendency to be rather pricey. This is where learning how to make it for yourself comes in handy; especially when the ingredients are very inexpensive.

An obvious question to answer here is the why: WHY make your own ginger syrup and candied ginger?

The reasons for making candied ginger aren’t hard to appreciate; unlike the store version, DIY is cheaper, you can control the size of the pieces you make, and there are endless possibilities of ways to incorporate it into other sweet treats (see below at the end of this post)

Ginger in just about any form is a very effective natural anti-inflammatory remedy. There’s a particular ginger soda called Vernors that Midwesterners–specifically those from Michigan– that’s potent enough to where we believe it can cure just about anything.

If you suffer from digestive issues, such as IBS or extreme nausea, I’ve found ginger syrup to be an EXTREMELY powerful and fast remedy–to the point where we now have it on hand at all times the same way you might always have aspirin or TUMS in your medicine cabinet. A spoonful of ginger syrup does wonders for my gut–besides that, it’s absolutely delicious.

One of the best things about this recipe is that it’s actually a 2-in-1. You get a batch of both ginger syrup and candied ginger within about one hour. It’s become a staple in our home, and if you try this recipe out, I think you’ll understand why.

See below for possible recipes with which to used candied ginger that have already been posted on the blog:

Lemon Ginger Sweet Rolls

Ginger Biscotti

Ginger Pound Cake

Chewy Ginger Cookie Bars

Curried Pumpkin and Ginger Scones

Double Ginger Sugar Cookies

Curry & Ginger Crackers

Curried Ginger Scones

Ginger Syrup & Candied Ginger

Recipe By Jess @CookingisMySport

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw, peeled ginger, sliced into coins (about the thickness of a quarter)
  • 2 1/2 cups white sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups water

Directions

Pour the water & 1 1/2 cups of the sugar together in a saucepan and stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil.

Add the ginger slices and reduce heat to a low simmer and allow to cook for a further 25-30 minutes, until the ginger is tender and the ends begin to curl. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

Place the remaining cup of sugar in a shallow bowl, pan, or tupperware container.

Take the ginger (which is now candied) out of the pan and using a fork, toss in this additional white sugar. Spread it out on foil, or wax paper for a few hours to dry.

Store in a sealed container in the fridge: you now have crystallized ginger that you can use however you want; MUCH cheaper than buying it in stores.

The liquid left in the saucepan is your ginger syrup. You’ll want to refrigerate this as well.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #390.

Mixed Berry Streusel Bars

Apologies for yet another hiatus. As I said last time, I’m going through another huge transition in my life; a 2800+ miles kind of transition, and for those of you who have never been through one of those, they are…a lot.

Between crappy moving companies, crowded airports, uncomfortable flights, hot & muggy weather, a whole lot of sweat, and an endless (ENDLESS, I tell you) barrage of cardboard boxes. I am so.over.moving.

The good news is, the move itself is finally done, and we’re finally starting to settle into the new space. It might even start to resemble a real home provided I can muster up the energy (and to be honest, the ability) to actually put together some furniture rather than just continuing to camp out on a mattress on the the floor like a college student.

I do plan on getting back into my full cooking/baking swing in this new space but, in full transparency, today’s post is one I’ve had in the arsenal for a while now, but still haven’t gotten around to posting yet. It still fits the time of year though and looking back at the pictures I’m feeling rather tempted to make it one of the first desserts I make in our new home.

Here’s a pro-tip: just about any summer fruit dessert recipe you can think of, can be adapted to suit just about any summer fruit that you’ve got on hand. So long as the volume measurements match, it’s your world.

For instance, this recipe was originally only supposed to be for blueberries. But at the time, I didn’t just have blueberries on deck; I had blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. So, I used a combination of them all. The only thing that mattered was that what I used came out to equal 4 cups of fruit.

The base of these bars is a basic vanilla shortbread crust that gets pre-baked to a golden brown before the fruit filling is added and topped with an almond streusel. It’s a really simple dessert to throw together that is a perfect blend of sweet and tart.

Mixed Berry Streusel Bars

Recipe Adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Ingredients

For the Shortbread crust:

  • 14 Tbs. (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing
  • 1 3/4 cups, plus 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup, plus 1 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup, plus 1 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

For Filling

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries or blackberries
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 3/4 cup (6 oz./185 g) granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

For Streusel Topping

  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup, firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 Tbs. chopped raw almonds

Directions

For the Shortbread Crust

Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) baking dish.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt and vanilla and beat on medium speed until the mixture is crumbly, about 30 seconds.

Transfer the dough to the prepared baking dish and using damp hands, gently press in an even layer into the bottom of the pan. Using a fork, prick the dough in several places. Bake until the crust is light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer the dish to a wire rack and let cool completely. Increase the oven temperature to 375°F.

For the Filling

in a large bowl, combine the berries, lemon zest, lemon juice and almond extract and toss to coat. In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar, cornstarch and salt. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the berries and toss to distribute evenly. Transfer to the cooled crust and spread in an even layer. 

For the Streusel

in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar and salt. Add the melted butter and almond extract and stir until the mixture is crumbly, with some large chunks remaining. Stir in the almonds. Sprinkle the streusel over the blueberries. Bake until the filling is thick and bubbling and the streusel is golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Transfer the baking dish to a wire rack and let cool completely, about 1 hour. Cut into squares and serve.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #389, cohosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

Deep Dish Summer Fruit Pie

Hey y’all, sorry for the extended absence. There’s a lot of change going on in my life right now (again) and I’ve been super busy with getting ready for the transition.

Change is great but it can also be uncomfortable, irritating, overwhelming and downright stressful. I really needed a break from all that, so here I am, taking a few minutes to actually act like I’m a food blogger.

There are very few things that can cheer me up like pie. I love to make and eat it year-round, but especially during the summer time when particular fruits are in season, like stone fruits and berries.

When both became available at my local grocery store, I knew I wanted to make a pie, but I wanted to do something a little bit different with it than the typical 9-inch round with a lattice top or something else like that. I also had a LOT of fruit, that I didn’t think would fit in my regular pie pan.

So, what was a girl to do?

Deep dish pies are a favorite go-to of mine for when you have a lot of fruit you need to use, and when I was deciding how I would make it work for this one, I started wondering if it would be possible to use my 11 x 13 baking dish to make one (a first for me.)

I’m really happy with what I came up with. It’s a variation on several pies and fruit desserts I’ve made in the past and decided to smush together here as a sort of experiment. The bottom crust is a standard, all-butter one you’d find in most pies out there. My filling is a combination of peaches, nectarines, and blueberries, but as I’ve noted in the recipe, you can opt for what you most prefer here.

The top crust of the pie is where I deviated a little bit from the norm. It’s actually the ‘crust’ recipe I use for whenever I make peach cobbler. It comes together in minutes and doesn’t require any resting or intensive labor. You just scoop and plop it on top of the filling. It spreads and puffs as it bakes, creating a fluffy biscuit-dumpling crust that soaks up all the juices from the peaches wonderfully.

I know I talk a lot about certain foods tasting like the seasons, but this really does taste like summer time. The fruit is bright, tart and slightly sweet while the different textures of the crusts give it that buttery richness without overtaking the filling completely.

This was a successful ‘change’ for me when making pie. Here’s to other changes going well.

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Deep Dish Summer Fruit

Recipe Adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Ingredients

For Bottom Crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 16 Tbs. (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, frozen
  • 6 to 8 Tbs. (90 to 125ml) ice water

For Filling

  • 3 lb. yellow peaches, peeled, cored and cut into slices 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 lb. yellow nectarines, peeled, cored and cut into slices 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 1/2 cups blueberries, blackberries or raspberries (or a mixture of both, it’s up to you)
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3 Tbs. bourbon
  • 2 Tbs. vanilla extract

For Biscuit Topping

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing
  • Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling

Directions

For Bottom Crust:

 In a medium sized bowl combine the flour, sugar and salt and stir together with a fork. Using a box grater (or use a knife to cut it into cubes) grate butter directly into the dry ingredients. Add 6 Tbs. of the ice water and gently stir together. The dough should hold together when squeezed with your fingers but should not be sticky. If it is crumbly, add more water 1 tsp. at a time, pulsing twice after each addition. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and shape into a disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight, preferably overnight (the crust will be more tender).

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 20-by-14-inch rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Fold the dough in half and transfer to a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Unfold the dough and press into the bottom and sides of the dish. Trim the edges, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, and fold in the excess dough so it extends just beyond the rim of the dish. Refrigerate the pie shell for 30 minutes.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 375°F

For Filling:

In a large bowl, stir together the fruit, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, cornstarch, bourbon and vanilla until well combined. Pour the fruit filling into prepared shell.

For Biscuit Topping:

Into a bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut or grate the butter into small pieces. Add it to the flour mixture and stir with a fork or a pastry blender until it looks like coarse bread crumbs. Pour in the cream and mix just until the dough comes together. Don’t overwork; the dough should be slightly sticky but manageable. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls over the pie filling; There can be gaps, the dough will puff up and spread out as it bakes. Brush the top with some heavy cream and sprinkle with some turbinado sugar; put it into the oven on a baking sheet to catch any drips.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven 75-80 minutes, until the filling is bubbling, and the top is golden. (You may need to cover the pie with aluminum foil to keep it from browning too quickly.)

Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool for at least 2 hours before serving.

Linking this up to Fiesta Friday #386.

Hoisin Meatballs

I don’t know what it is about them as a dish that prompts this response, but I’ve just always thought of meatballs as a celebration/special occasion food. They’re like the little black dress of party foods; they go with everything. It’s never a bad time to bring them out.

Cocktail hour at a wedding? You serve meatballs.

Graduation open house? You serve meatballs.

Wedding or baby shower? You serve meatballs.

Summer barbecue for a crowd? You serve meatballs.

Typically the above scenarios will have precooked frozen meatballs in order to serve them en masse, which is perfectly fine. But I tend to prefer to make my own from scratch. I’ve shared several recipes before on the blog with different variations of meatballs. The possibilities are pretty wide for what you can come up with.

One of the more underrated ingredients that I keep in my pantry/fridge is hoisin sauce. If I had to describe the taste, I’d say it’s like…an Asian ketchup. A lot of times it’s used for stir-fries, but I actually use it for non-Asian dishes as well.

Here’s a pro-tip for you: a tablespoon or two of hoisin sauce in your beef stew broth will give it INCREDIBLE richness of flavor. I keep it on hand for that reason alone.

This recipe is pretty straight forward and easy, and the real only ‘labor’ involved in it is rolling meatballs, which I personally find somewhat therapeutic once I get into a groove. I tend to bake mine to give them a more even cook all the way around, and it’s also healthier than frying. I use ground turkey as a base, but I do add a little bit of ground pork roll sausage just to make sure they don’t dry out, as turkey can sometimes do.

The meatballs are wonderful all by themselves, but the hoisin sauce is the hero of this dish, no question. Hoisin all on it Its own is pretty thick and strong, so this one gets thinned out with some orange juice and chicken broth, then flavored with fresh ginger and sesame oil. I

Whatever the occasion you’re cooking for, I recommend trying these. They’re delicious.

Hoisin Meatballs

Recipe Adapted from Food Network Magazine and Cooks Illustrated

For Meatballs

  • 3 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 lb. ground sausage
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic clove
  • 3 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 6 sliced scallions
  • 1 1/2-2 cups panko breadcrumbs*
  • 4 eggs

For Sauce:

  • 3 teaspoons vegetable/canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 3/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups orange juice
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts sliced 1/8 inch thick on bias
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Sesame seeds, optional

Directions

For Meatballs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two sheet pans with aluminum foil and place two wire racks on top of each pan. Lightly spray the rack with cooking spray and set aside

In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey and sausage with the ginger, garlic, sugar, pepper, and scallions.

Add the soy sauce, then the eggs. Pour in 1 1/2 cups of the panko breadcrumbs and mix together with your hand; don’t knead it too much though, or the meatballs may be tough. If the mixture seems too wet, you can always add the extra 1/2 cup more of the panko breadcrumbs to tighten it up.

Shape into meatballs (about 2 heaping tablespoons each. Place 1 1/2 inches apart on a lightly greased (with cooking spray) rack in an aluminum foil-lined jelly-roll pan.  Bake 15 to 20 minutes on the middle rack, or until browned.

For Sauce

Melt about 3 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a medium sized saucepan and heat until shimmering. Add the grated ginger and cook, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 15 seconds.

Add the hoisin sauce, orange juice, and broth and bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the saucepan with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Simmer until liquid reduces and thickens to desired consistency.

Stir in the sesame oil and the scallions. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the sauce over the meatballs and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.

Linking to Fiesta Friday #384.