Monday, May 27, 2013

Blueberry Lime Ginger Cheesecake Bars




Happy Memorial Day.  Whoever decided to celebrate a federal holiday on a Monday...genius!  What a glorious long weekend.  When I was growing up in Michigan, Memorial Day weekend signified the start of the summer season.  Pools get filled, patio furniture is brought out of storage and the grill is scrubbed and fired up.  I'm enjoying all my summer holiday favs today--grilled dogs, tuna pasta salad, tons of fresh fruit and cheesecake. Tomorrow I get back on my diet, I swear.

I still have a few blueberries left over from my trip to The Blue Bayou Farms and have decided to throw them together with some fresh lime and ginger into this cheesecake bar recipe.  Such a fragrant and tasty trio, I use it a lot....you'll see :)

BLUEBERRY LIME GINGER CHEESECAKE BARS
Yield: 9 x 9 pan

BASE:
1C graham cracker crumbs
1tsp ginger
2tbl sugar
1/2 stick butter, melted

1.  Combine all and press into a greased 9 x 9 pan.   I also lined the pan with parchment paper and left an overhang of paper over the edges.  Once cooled, it was much easier to lift the cheesecake in one piece from the pan.
2.  Bake at 325 for 12 minutes.
3.  Cool.

FILLING:
16 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 limes, zested
3 limes, juiced
1/2C sugar
1 1/2C blueberries
powdered sugar, for dusting

1.  Mix cream cheese, eggs, zest, juice and sugar until well combined and smooth.
2.  Pour into cooled crust.
3.  Sprinkle blueberries evenly over the top.  They will sink into the batter as they bake.
4.  Bake 35-38 minutes.
5.  Cool at least 3 hours before removing from pan and cutting.
6.  Dust with powdered sugar prior to serving.

Happy Memorial Day and thank you to the active servicemen and women and all veterans for your service to our country.  Enjoy!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Blueberry Crunch Muffins




YAY, It's blueberry season here in Florida!  It is an easy season to miss because apparently it only lasts for a split second due to the humidity and birds.  Last year the Bellman planted a few blueberry bushes in our backyard.   Long since forgotten I went and checked on the poor things today and I'm pretty sure there won't be much of a harvest happening here.

So off into the wild blue yonder I go for what is in my opinion, the very best place for blueberries:  The Blue Bayou Farm in lovely Yalaha, Florida.  The folks are super nice and the berries very yum but mostly I like this farm because of its location---right next door to a wonderful German Bakery.  Believe me, I take full advantage of that location!

I brought home a couple pounds of berries and plan to put them to good use. Just look at how beautiful they are!


I'm starting with my friend Diana's famous Blueberry Crunch Muffins.  When she says she has an awesome recipe to share...I'm all in.  Diana and I have known one another since 7th grade Art class and survived the 80s together.  Like, toooh-tally

Diana says she makes these muffins year round with fresh or frozen berries and sometimes substitutes raspberries for the blueberries.  Either way they always turn out tasty.

CRUNCH TOPPING

1/2C flour
1/2C brown sugar
1/2C oatmeal
1/2C coconut
1tsp cinnamon
1/4C butter, melted

1.  Combine all and set aside.


BLUEBERRY MUFFINS:
Yield: 13 muffins

1C berries (fresh or frozen)
2C plus 1tbl flour
2/3C sugar
2tsp baking powder
1/4tsp baking soda
1/4tsp salt
1/2tsp cinnamon
1 egg
1C buttermilk
1 1/2tsp vanilla
6tbl butter, melted and cooled

1.  Toss washed and dried berries with 1 tablespoon of flour.  Set aside.  This little bit of flour helps the berries stay suspended in the batter while baking.  We don't want them sinking to the bottom.
2.  Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
3.  Add egg, buttermilk, butter and vanilla to the dry ingredients until just combined. Be careful not to over mix as this will make your muffins tough.
4.  Fold in berries.
5.  Fill greased muffin tins with batter and top each with an equal amount of crunch topping.
6.  Bake at 350 for 20-22 minutes.

Righteous muffins Diana, enjoy!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Grilled Pineapple with Caramel Sauce

 

 
I love pineapple.  I mean really really love pineapple.  Regardless of where we are-- Magic Kingdom or Menchie's--anything with pineapple is always my first choice. I especially love pineapple with sweet salty caramel sauce.  I first had this tasty combo years ago at a restaurant named Ohana, located at Disney's Polynesian Resort.  Back then Ohana served up a half pineapple with a side car of caramel, fondue style.  Best dessert ever!
 
Besides being so delicious, isn't pineapple just oddly cool looking?  I wonder who first dared to pick one up and crack it open...and eat it?!


 
Anyway, here is my take on grilled pineapple.  So simple to do and so good.   Just be sure you don't grill the pineapple more than 3 or 4 minutes on each side or it will turn to mush.
 
If you've never peeled and sliced a pineapple and have no idea how to begin, here is a great demo to get you started.


GRILLED PINEAPPLE
 
One whole Pineapple-peeled, cored and cut into spears
2tbl honey
1tbl orange juice
cracked pepper
 
1.  Preheat grill, and be sure to oil the grate.
2.  Peel and cut pineapple into spears. I find big chunky spears are easier to handle when grilling.
3.  Whisk together the honey, orange juice and pepper.  Trust me, the pepper brings out the sweetness in the pineapple.
4.  Brush the honey mixture on the pineapple spears.
5.  Place the pineapple directly on the grill for approximately three minutes on each side, turning only once.
 
CARAMEL SAUCE
Yield = 1 1/2 Cups
 
4 1/2oz sugar
2tbl water
3oz corn syrup
1C heavy cream
1tbl Malibu rum (optional)
 
1.   In saucepan combine sugar and water.  Adjust the amount of water if needed so the mixture resembles wet sand. The more water you add the longer it will have to cook so go easy.....unless you have that kind of time.
2.  Add corn syrup.
3.  Stir once and only once, then boil to 320F (or desired color).  I don't usually bother with a thermometer but opt instead to judge the doneness by the color.  Be sure to watch closely as this can go from a wonderful amber color to burned brown in seconds.
4.  Add cream, carefully. If you get a hard candy like clump in the middle of your caramel don't worry.  Just move the pan to low heat and stir until it dissolves. When smooth, add rum.
5.  Cool and store in refrigerator.

Enjoy!

 
 
 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Spicy Chocolate Cupcakes




Hellooo Cinco de Mayo! If you didn't already know, I am a big fan of the cuisine being offered up on this day.   All that cheesy spicy goodness--I love it! I had been on the hunt for ancho chili powder for quite some time and stumbled upon it in the least likely of places--a tea shop in Tarpon Springs, FL.  Tarpon Springs is a Greek community and I'm thinking ancho chilies are not commonly used in Greek cuisine? Ancho chili powder is made from ground ancho (pablano) peppers. It is a smoky chili with mild to medium heat. It is a pepper most commonly used in authentic Mexican cooking.




So, I have been waiting for the right moment to break it out and spicy chocolate cupcakes on Cinco de Mayo seemed pretty appropriate.  The Mayans would approve, don't ya think?! These cupcakes are nicely spiced and not too sweet.  You'll like them, trust me!

 
SPICY CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES
Yield:  12 cupcakes
 
6T butter
1/4C  Dutch-processed cocoa
1/4C cocoa powder
1/3C coffee, freshly brewed
1C flour
1C brown sugar
1tsp cinnamon
1tsp ancho chili powder
1/2tsp baking powder
1/2tsp salt
1/2tsp baking soda
1/4tsp ground cayenne
1/3C sour cream
2 eggs
2tsp vanilla 
 
1.  Melt butter in microwave.
2.  Combine butter, cocoa, coffee.  Whisk to combine.
3.  In another bowl combine eggs, vanilla and sour cream.
3.  Whisk flour, sugar, cinnamon, ancho chili powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cayenne in a large bowl.
4.  Add the hot cocoa mixture into the dry ingredients.  Stir in the sour cream mixture. 
5.  Fill lined muffin tin 3/4 full with batter.
6.  Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes.
 

FROSTING

1 stick (1/2C) butter
1/2C cocoa powder
1/4C milk
1tsp cinnamon
1/2tsp ancho chili powder
3C powdered sugar


1.  Cream butter until smooth and fluffy.
2.  Add cocoa powder, ancho chili powder and cinnamon.
3.  Add milk.
4.  Add powdered sugar until combined to desired consistency.
5.  Pipe onto cooled cupcakes. 

!Salud!