Obsession

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I have NEVER been so invested in creating different desserts that are convenient and easy as I have lately! I am obsessed!

The clients at my current job are in love with desserts and always appreciate when I create desserts or breakfast sweets they can eat on the go. This next recipe is for a lemon poppy seed cupcake that I filled with lemon curd. The curd really takes these muffins over the top! Yum! I may be partial to my own cooking (aren’t we all?! haha) but these are damn good.

 

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
1 cup buttermilk
3 eggs
1 1/2 sticks salted butter, melted (I REALLY enjoy baking with salted butter)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons poppy seeds (try with sesame seeds for a unique twist!)
Zest of two lemons

This batter comes out thick, not to fear the result is delicious regardless :-)
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl whisk together  butter, sugar, vanilla, eggs, lemon zest, poppy seeds and butter milk. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix till JUST combined.

You can make muffins out of these or make a loaf!
Fill with curd in a piping bag and glaze generously by dipping muffin upsidedown and turning over to drip off any extra glaze.

Glaze

2 cups powdered sugar
Juice of 2 lemons

Whisk the two together until smooth. Add more or less of each ingredient until you have a desired consistency. (I say more or less because some people like a real pungent lemon flavor)

Curd (always sounds daunting but its painless I promise!)

4 egg yolks
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 stick butter
pinch of salt

Whisk yolks, sugar, lemon zest and juice in a bowl. Pour into a pot and cook on low-medium heat constantly stirring until mixture thickens. This could take up to 10 minutes. Once the mixture has thickened, remove from heat, add butter a pat at a time until  it is all incorporated. Finish by adding a pinch of salt. Place on a sheet tray (allows to cool faster with more surface area) and let cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

 

The Great Greek Alfredo

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Chicken broccoli and ziti and pasta primavera are just two of the many dishes that use an alfredo sauce. It is full of cream and overly heavy. Often times people mess this sauce up because of the roux needed to thicken the sauce or the over reduction of the heavy  cream. Forget the overly complicated techniques. A quick and painless way to a creamier  alfredo sauce is using “Greek” Cream Cheese and Yogurt.

As with most of my recipes, they are easy and home cook friendly. Feel free to adapt the flavorings and ingredients to fit your personal preferences like this Chicken Pasta Primavera Recipe. It is such an inexpensive dish that is always a family favorite.

Chicken Pasta Primavera

  • 1 lb. whole wheat penne (use which ever pasta shape you like, and the whole wheat adds a really nice nuttiness to this dish)
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast, small diced
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken stock (this amount is varied depending on how much sauce you like!)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4-6 ounces of “Greek” Cream Cheese and Yogurt (I say 4-6 because the more you put the thicker the sauce will get)
  • 1/2 onion, sliced thin
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, blanched
  • 1/2 cup crimini mushrooms, sliced (any variety of mushroom will do, i also love oyster mushrooms)
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 bunch white or green asparagus, blanched
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 lemon, zested

I seasoned with garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and some Italian seasoning. Feel free to play with the amounts on these :-)

Saute the chicken in olive on medium heat until the chicken starts to get some color. Season with salt and pepper. (always important to season as you go) Add in your onion, mushrooms and garlic. Continue to saute these until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms start to gain some golden brown color.

Add in remaining vegetables and season to your liking. Pour in your chicken stock and let this come to a boil and reduce by 1/4. Stir in your “Greek” Cream Cheese Yogurt until combined and creamy. Feel free to reduce this if you want a thicker sauce. The cream cheese addition is lighter than adding all that heavy cream, butter and cheese. The tang from the cream cheese also sets this dish apart. Finish by adding the lemon zest and immediately serve. (this way the vest stays bright and aromatic)

*Go ahead and use any vegetables you want. The star of this dish is the sauce and is complimentary to most any vegetables or meat.

Blueberry Blunder

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Trying to find something to do with those seasonal berries in the fridge? Always those lonely blueberries or random fruits that you know wont get eaten in time, but you have NO idea what to do with them.

Solution:

Muffins & Cobbler. Two American Classic desserts that are underrated! They are so versatile and lend themselves easily to a wide variety of fruits. Here are two recipes that are not only easy but delicious. Both recipes use blueberries, however any berry would work perfectly for either recipe.

Berry Cobbler

  • 2 pints berries (I used a mixture of blackberries and blueberries) Dont have fresh? Use frozen, but increase the corn starch to 1/4 cup
  • 1/8 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • Pinch of salt
  • Dash of cinnamon and nutmeg (can be omitted)
  • 1 package prepared sugar cookie dough (the kind in the rolled tube) Feel free to make your own cobbler topping but this works out so perfectly with a little help from the supermarket! :-)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Toss together all ingredients except the sugar cookie dough. Pour into a 13×9 greased glass baking pan. Crumble the sugar cookie to evenly across the top of the berry mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and the cookie topping is golden brown.

That’s it! It couldn’t be any easier.Take a peek at mine below which I served with vanilla bean whipped cream. Feel free to eat it with ice cream as well!
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Next up…

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

  • 2 cups all purpose flour (feel free to substitute whole wheat flour, but remember texture may vary slightly)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar (don’t have any? use white or light brown)
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt (Greek yogurt or other flavors would work as well, have fun with this one!)
  • 1 cup blueberries (again, use any fruit! But if it is frozen, toss the blueberries in 1/4 cup of the flour to prevent turning your batter Smurf colored)

Streusel Topping

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 dark brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease or line your muffin tins. (this recipe makes about 12)

Combine 2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and 1/4 cup sugar in a large bowl. Beat 6 tablespoons butter, egg, yogurt, and vanilla extract in a bowl. Pour yogurt mixture into flour mixture and mix until just combined; fold in blueberries. Scoop batter with an ice cream scoop and divide evenly between the 12 cups. I use the ice cream scoop so the muffins are more or less uniform and not a miss shaped mess!

Whisk together 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup oats, 1/4 cup dark brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in the 6 tablespoons of butter with a fork or pastry blender until this mixture is coarse and the butter is pea sized. Top each muffin with a generous layer of this crumb topping. (trust me, the more there is the better)

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. This will take about 20 minutes. Let cool in muffin cups for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

*For an added touch drizzle muffins with a lemon glaze. Just whisk some powdered sugar with the juice of one lemon until desired consistency. Drizzle this mixture using a fork or spoon in any manner you want. The lemon will go great with the berries and may cut some of the sweetness.

Check out mine…They were gone in minutes. Literally.
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Roasted Chicken Demystified

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Roasted chicken can be one of those boring week night meals that everybody is sick of. Problem? They are not doing it right. I will teach you the easiest roasted chicken. The trick to a perfect bird is seasoning and cooking time.

Home cooks tend to take chicken out AT 165 degrees. Ding dong… it’s carry over cooking time calling.

Carry over cooking and resting any meat is essential to keep the it moist and let the juices rest. If cut the protein right away once pulled from the oven, all the juices will escape and you will have a dry product. Carry over cooking is the time when you pull the protein out of the oven until the time you cut it. There should be at LEAST a 5 minute resting period before you cut or serve your protein. Trust me on this… you will thank me. #yourewelcome.

 

Here’s what you will need to create the perfect roast chicken:

  • 1 5 lb. Chicken (patted dry…this will help create a crispy skin)
  • 1 Stick of Butter, softened (This will make massaging the bird easy)
  • 3 Sprigs Sage, picked
  • 1 Small bunch Thyme, picked
  • 2 Sprigs of Rosemary, picked
  • 1 Lemon, zested THEN sliced
  • Salt and Pepper

 

Step 1:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Pat the bird dry and season generously with salt and pepper. I mean get in there, season the wings, the legs, the breast, the underside and even the cavity.

In a food processor,combine the stick of softened butter, herbs and lemon zest. Pulse this mixture until combined. Take a few slices of lemon and shove them under the skin of the breast. Now take a few more and shove them into the cavity of the chicken.

Step 2:

Massaging time! Rub the compound butter all over the chicken to make an even layer of butter. This will not only help with the flavor but also the crispiness of the skin. (after all who doesn’t like a crispy skin?)

Place in the oven on a wire rack with a baking pan under neath. If you do not have either of these place the chicken directly on a cookie sheet (not the underside of the chicken prepare this way will not be as crispy…but equally tasty) Cook the chicken at 375 for 1 hour, then turn the oven up to 400-425 for an additional hour. Pull the chicken just after 2 hours and let rest for 10 minutes.

 

Take a look at the end result….notice the skin golden brown and crispy, the herbs and the lemon under the skin make for an unreal roasted chicken experience.

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