Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sauteed Zucchini with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Basil

As July changes into August, it marks one of my favorite times of the year. There is such a bounty of local fruit and vegetables available that it makes evening meals so much easier!

Instead of traditional meal planning with lists and recipes, I usually just throw together what is ripe and ready on our farm. We have corn, cantaloupe, broccoli, peaches, etc. We also have just the start of tomatoes and lots of basil. And of course, there is the never-ending supply of zucchini - yellow and green, as well as summer squash.

So, while looking through Sally's fabulous blog, Bewitching Kitchen, for my August Secret Recipe Club assignment, I had an eye on tempting recipes with seasonal ingredients. Of course, Sally has so many amazing recipes, it would be hard not to find something to fit the season!

Sally was born in Brazil and so I was tempted by her list of Brazillian dishes like Shrimp Moqueca and Baked Coconut. Both of those I want to go back and try soon!

Sally also has an Ultimate Apple Cake recipe that I just had to try. ... and I have made it twice already it was such a smashing success. I was intrigued when Sally posted that the cake was not only fool-proof but contained so many diced apples, you might be skeptical that the cake would really turn out. This was not my first apple cake try, but it was my family's favorite by far!  Yes, since I was talking about seasonal fruits, we do have early apples now. Crazy, right?

But, that is not the recipe I ultimately decided to share here. I finally settled on Sally's Sauteed Zucchini With Sundried Tomatoes and Basil.

This just summed up summer flavors perfectly for me right now. It was also something my whole family could enjoy. I did make Sally's original recipe, but my only addition was a few grape and cherry tomatoes that we found in the field behind out house. I love sundried tomatoes, but my kids prefer the fresh tomatoes more. Either way you make it, I am sure you will enjoy this simple side.  !

Start with medium sized zucchini, washed and quartered so they are all about the same size. Smaller zucchini will have smaller and more tender seeds.  Pat them dry and then salt lightly to help draw out even more moisture.

No one enjoys a limp or soggy squash! Just 10 minutes will help with that.

Just blot them dry and saute with a little olive oil and garlic till they have some color and are fork tender. Then toss with the tomatoes, basil, and some fresh lemon juice. Season and enjoy!

This would also be a fun dish to make outdoors on the grill if it is too hot indoors for cooking. Either way, I hope you give this fun side a try and head over to see all the tempting recipes on Sally's blog, Bewitching Kitchen!


adapted from Bewitching Kitchen

You will need:

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 3 sundried tomatoes, drained and diced
  • 6 basil leaves, sliced in thin strips *or fresh grape or cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1/2 lemon juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste
Rinse and quarter the zucchini lengthwise. Pat dry, and arrange on a single layer on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Lightly salt the squash and allow to sit for about 10 minutes. Blot any excess moisture and make sure the zucchini are roughly the same size.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini and garlic. Saute till fork tender and starting to brown. Remove from the heat and toss with tomatoes, basil, and lemon juice. Season to taste and serve immediately.


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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Peaches and Cream Crepes

Sweet and creamy mascarpone topped with fresh, ripe peaches, wrapped in a warm crepe and dusted with powder sugar to create these Peaches and Cream Crepes.

This summer everything has come early on the farm. It has been a pretty crazy spring and summer season. We had strawberries in May, Cherries followed shortly after and now... peaches. All came earlier than usual.

Even dinner seems to come earlier than expected each night and I am often left scrambling to make something my whole family will enjoy.

This month I am embarking on a new adventure with the Improv Cooking Challenge. They challenged us all to come up with a "Peaches and Cream" recipe, and this one definitely won me over. I really wanted to keep things simple and let those luscious peaches take center stage. The mascarpone was just an added bonus!

If you feel up to a challenge, you can join in on the fun. The Improv Cooking Challenge posts the 3rd Thursday of each month.

Peaches will probably always be a mystery to me... my husband tends the orchard and I wait impatiently for him to tell me they are finally ripe. But, when to pick the perfect peach with just a little time to finish ripening on the counter is tough! I am too impatient. I would rather eat them straight from the tree. Instead, I wait every year for my husband to bring home the first peaches... and I watch them carefully till they are just tender enough to slice.

Peaches always make me think of that scene in the Japanese movie Tampopo where the crazy old woman is squeezing and bruising the peaches, bread, or really anything she can get her hands on. Too bad she didn't know about Charmin, right? She may have been a little overzealous, but  how do you pick the perfect peach... how do you find one that isn't too mushy or bruised, but right at the peak of ripeness?

To to be perfectly honest, once I have a ripe peach I usually just slice and eat it on the spot. No recipe necessary.

This challenge was a great way to break out of my peach rut though. I know I will be making these crepes a few more times before our peaches are done for the year. They still allow me to enjoy the perfection of a ripe peach, without too much fuss and bother.

Making crepes is a skill I would love to master. I consider myself to be pretty good, but I want to keep practicing. Practice, practice, practice... eating all the way! Crepes really are much easier than you might think. I still need to get myself a spreader for even batter distribution.

I have a great basic crepe recipe, my go to recipe, I posted a few years back and I still haven't found one to top it. Just omit the sugar and add herbs if you want a great savory crepe. But that recipe is what I used here for our crepes. I always have a few left over and freeze them for future crepe needs.

So, ready to assemble your own Peaches and Cream Crepe?

Peaches and Cream Crepes

You will need:

  • Crepes - frozen or freshly made are fine. This is my favorite recipe.
  • 4 peaches, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 c. mascarpone cheese 
  • 3 Tbsp. heavy cream, or more to achieve spreading consistency
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • Confectioners sugar, for dusting
Sprinkle lemon juice on peaches to prevent browning.

Whip together the mascarpone cheese with heavy cream  and sugar till the mixture is light and spreadable.

Spread a layer in the middle of a crepe and top with slices of peach. Fold over and dust generously with powdered sugar before serving.

*Note - the crepes can be made ahead of time and frozen between sheets of wax paper. Thaw to room temperature and heat briefly in a pan to make them more pliable. This makes the dish even more weeknight friendly! 


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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Galaktoboureko - Greek Custard Pie #‎thebookclubcookbookCC

For July we dove right into Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres for The Book Club Cook Book Cooking Challenge. Sadly, this is our final post for the group as we posted a year's worth of great reads and great food finds. This month was once again hosted by Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla.

Looking back, it has been an impressive list of book and some great recipes. Many of the things I read and created for this group, I might not have tried otherwise. For that I am grateful!

I was excited this month because the book was, again, one I hadn't read. I actually haven't seen the movie either... But, it also was set in the Greek island of Cephallonia. I love Greek cuisine and knew I wanted to try something I hadn't made or tried previously.

The book itself took me a while to warm up to. It is interesting, yes, surprising as well as humorous at times. The tale of the doctor removing a green petrified pea from a patient's ear was memorable. But what I loved the most was the writing and the setting.

From all that, I was excited to make something I hadn't tried before. I have made Spanakopita before, and it is a dish a love, but I wanted to try something to uniquely tie to the story. A dish and flavors that I didn't have previous memories attached to. I ended up Googling Cephallonia and Greek cuisine and found myself with Galaktoboureko. Someone on vacation mentioned having it one night for dessert.

And if you know me. you know I am always looking to use up some eggs. A custard sounded perfect!

This is actually the first custard I have ever attempted that was thickened with fine semolina flour. I plan to use the rest of this bag to create some amazing pasta.

The only other ingredient I don't work with often is phyllo dough. Nothing mysterious about it. I purchased mine frozen. You will want to thaw it in the refrigerator the day before assembling your dessert.

Other than these ingredients, it was a pretty simple dessert. I was able to make and bake it during nap time and surprise my family with something new.

So for our final month of books and recipes, I suggest you sit down with a copy of Corelli's Mandolin and savor a slice of this creamy Galaktoboureko.

Ready for the recipe?

Galaktoboureko - Greek Custard Pie
recipe adapted from It's All Greek To Me by Debbie Matenopoulos

You will need:

  • 6 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 c. fine semolina flour
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 - 1lb. package of phyllo dough, thawed
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 1 large slice of lemon peel
  • 1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • lemon zest for garnish
 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13" baking dish.

In a large saucepan, bring the milk to a slow simmer. Once starting to bubble, stir in the semolina. Once it begins to thicken, take off the heat and stir in the vanilla. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar. Slowly start to temper the eggs by pouring in a little of the hot semolina mixture into the eggs while whisking constantly. Add in 2 cups slowly, then pour the egg mixture into the saucepan. Keep whisking to prevent the egg from scrambling. Whisk in the butter till the mixture is smooth. Pour the whole mixture through a strainer to remove any lumps of semolina or egg.

Unroll the phyllo dough on a counter and cover with a kitchen towl to prevent it from drying out  while you work. Work quickly. Place a single sheet in the baking dish, brush with butter and continue stacking and brushing till you have 9 sheets in the dish. 

Then spread the custard evenly over the phyllo dough, then continue layering the phyllo dough and brushing with butter until all the sheets are used. Trim overhanging edges and brush the top with extra butter.

Before baking, score the top few layers into 16 or more equal pieces. Bake uncovered for 55 to 60 minutes, or until the top is golden and flaky.

While baking, create the lemon syrup. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the 2 1/2 cups of sugar and 1 1/2 cups water. Add in the lemon peel and bring it up to boil. After it has boiled for 5 minutes, remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.

Once the squares are removed from the oven, immediately begin spooning the simple syrup over the phyllo dough. Cool for 45 minutes before slicing. Top with lemon zest for decoration.



Here we are at the final #thebookclubcookbookCC event. Final. Can you believe it??

It's hard to fathom that our year-long journey to explore - and cook from - The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp* is drawing to a close. Judy, Vicki, and their publisher, Tarcher-Penguin, provided the hosting bloggers with copies of the book plus copies to giveaway each month of the project. We are so grateful for their generosity over the past year.

This month Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla, this month's host, is giving away two copies of the book.* Enter to win a copy of the cookbook!

TWO of our lucky readers - US and Canada only! - can enter to win a copy of The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, courtesy of Tarcher-PenguinGiveaway runs from July 1st till July 31st at 6 o'clock PM, Pacific time. Please see terms and conditions in the rafflecopter widget below. Many thanks to Tarcher Books. You may find Tarcher: on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Pinterest.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Disclosure: Camilla received a complimentary copy of The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp as an opportunity to give two copies away. Opinions are our own. We received no further compensation for our posts.

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Sunday, July 3, 2016

Sourdough Rosemary Bread with Olive Oil

This Sourdough Rosemary Bread with Olive Oil was a weekend hit and the perfect loaf to pair with a fresh dinner of sauteed farm veggies and baked chicken.

After a bit of traveling last week, I was really itching to get into the kitchen to bake. This bread recipe definitely didn't disappoint.

I am also having a hard time coming to terms with the fact it is already July. How did July get here so quickly? In preparation for Fourth of July backyard grilling, I wanted to go low-key over the weekend. Instead of our usual big family dinner, I opted for a simpler weekend treat, saving my time and kitchen for the upcoming holiday.

I have a fun grilled dinner planned for Monday, so this weekend I wanted some simple baked chicken, sauteed veggies and a hearty bread. I always know if nothing else suits him, my toddler will always be happy with freshly baked bread.

 The start of July also brings me to this month's Secret Recipe Club reveal. This month it was my honor to be assigned Karen's Kitchen Stories. Karen is a self-proclaimed bread geek, so I knew I had to try one of her breads.. Believe me, there is a long list of amazing looking breads in her recipe index. Bread isn't the only thing Karen is talented at making, I also  found some other amazing looking recipes for General Tso's Chicken  and Baby Yukon Gold Hasselback Potatoes. If you end up making one of Karen's recipes, be sure to let me know in the comments below which one caught your eye!

I always enjoy any excuse to bust out my sourdough starter (originally from King Arthur Flour) and loved that this one also used rosemary. My darling "little" plant has completely taken over one corner of my garden and I currently have more rosemary than I could ever use.

But that is a problem that I rather enjoy having. I do try to use rosemary whenever possible without going completely overboard. This bread is amazing - but not overboard on rosemary flavor. Yum!

The recipe is actually quite simple, but it does take some forethought as there is a lot of inactive time required while the loaves rise. The longest rise takes place overnight in the refrigerator. I just barely escaped a rising disaster due to my bowl size. Luckily, it had just enough room to expand overnight before being shaped and baked.

This recipe is enough for making 2 boules, and they are best baked in cast iron dutch ovens for the best crust and crumb. I only have one Le Creuset dutch oven, so baked the other loaf on black Silpat. It was also good, but do try to use a dutch oven if you have one.

Also, Karen's recipe calls for letting the dough rise in a banneton or brotform. My loaves didn't achieve the same height because I let them rise free-form. Don't worry, I actually have a round banneton ordered and hope to share my experience with it soon. If you don't have these types of forms, don't worry. Do expect your loaf to spread outward more than up.

Ready to sink your teeth into a slice of Sourdough Rosemary Bread with Olive Oil?

Okay. Let's get baking!

Sourdough Rosemary Bread with Olive Oil
from Karen's Kitchen Stories adapted from Amy's Bread, Revised and Updated: Artisan-style breads, sandwiches, pizzas, and more from New York City's favorite bakery

You will need:

  • 2 oz. warm water (105 to 110 degrees F)
  • 1 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 14 oz. sourdough starter (100% hydration)
  • 8 oz. water, room temperature
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 c. rosemary, chopped
  • 15.3 oz. all-purpose flour
  • 2.8 oz. whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp. bread salt (try King Arthur Flour's blend) 

In a stand mixer, combine the warm water and yeast. Allow to proof for 5 minutes until it becomes foamy.

To the mixer bowl, add in the starter, 8 ounces water, olive oil, and rosemary. Mix with the paddle attachment.

Switch to the dough hook and add in the remaining ingredients. Knead on medium-low (Kitchen-aid setting 4) for a couple of minutes. The dough should be tacky and soft.

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl or rising bucket. After an hour, fold the dough over from all 4 sides and place it back into the oiled bowl, seam side down. Refrigerate for 8 - 16 hours.

Remove from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature for about 2 hours.

Split the dough in half. Form two boules and place the dough seam side down on pieces of parchment. Cover and allow to rise for 75 minutes to 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.

While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. If you are going to cook one or more loaves in dutch ovens, place the dutch ovens in the oven to preheat as well.

Spray the lid lightly with water and place the dough into a preheated dutch oven. Bake with the lid on for 20 minutes. Remove the lid, reduce the heat to 400 degrees and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Remove the bread from the oven and dutch oven. Cool on a wire rack before slicing.

*If you don't have a dutch oven, you can bake this loaf on a tray. I used black Silpat and sprayed the inside of the oven with water before closing the door. Follow the same temperature and time guidelines as the covered loaf. The loaf will taste the same, but will have a different crust. Both methods are delicious, though.


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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Pots de Creme - #‎thebookclubcookbookCC

These glorious little Pots de Creme are a simple nod to why I love chocolate...

...and they are also a great nod to the book, Chocolat by Joanne Harris.

For June, as part of The Book Club Cookbook Cooking Crew, Sarah invited us to read and cook from Chocolat with her. I was thrilled. I was a huge fan of the movie from 2000 starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp - *swoon*. I remember watching it almost nightly when I worked in a little campus video store (remember those?). It was one of my favorite movies to pop in as I waited for closing. Cute music, witty banter and ... lots of chocolate!

Be sure to keep reading, there is a giveaway for a copy of The Book Club Cookbook at the end of the post. I have had so much fun reading a selection and cooking as inspired by the book. Our year is coming to a close soon, but I still have more books to read and food to enjoy. I hope you will keep going with me.

I was excited to finally read Chocolat. Sadly, as a college student my time was usually spent in textbooks, and I rarely had the time to read "good" books.

I have to tell you, the book is far better than even the magic of film! Vianne's internal dialogue is much funnier than even what Juliette Binoche could portray on screen. Even as she helped those around her with the magic of her chocolate and understanding, the complexity of her character was wonderful. She came in as an outcast and ended up bringing the community so much more than they could have imagined.

I ended up going for a classic treat, Pots de Creme (pronounced "Po de Krehm"). Lusciously smooth and chocolatey, I am sure it is exactly what Vianne would have selected for me. I just love how in the book she claims to know everyone's favorite! This dessert really makes my heart sing.

Besides tasting divine, this is also an easy treat to make.

Of course, it begins with chopped semi-sweet chocolate.

I have seen a few different ways to make this simple dessert, but decided to cook my custard over the stove and then add to the blender to melt and whip up the chocolate.

The eggs, milk, cream and sugar are ready when they coat the back of a spoon easily.

Then pour into ramekins or small dishes and chill for 2-4 hours before serving.

Serve with whipped cream, and garnish with fresh mint and fruit. My daughter insisted we go with the chocolate mint here. I think it worked nicely.

Pots de Creme

You will need:

  • 9 oz. semisweet chocolate chopped
  • 1 tsp. espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 c. whole milk
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 5 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Place the chopped chocolate and espresso powder in a blender and set aside.

In a saucepan, combine the milk, cream, egg yolks, sugar and salt. Whisk over medium heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the vanilla and pour the hot mixture into the blender. 

Take care to cover the blender and lid with a heavy towel. I like to vent my top slightly, but cover with the towel to prevent messes. Blend until smooth.

Pour into ramekins or glasses and chill for 2-4 hours. Serve with whipped cream and garnish with mint and fresh fruit, if desired.


This month Sarah at Thing I Make (for Dinner), this month's host, is giving away two copies of the book.* Enter to win a copy of the cookbook so you can join us in future months, if you wish!

TWO of our lucky readers - US and Canada only! - can enter to win a copy of The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, courtesy of Tarcher-Penguin. Giveaway runs from June 1st till June 30th at 6 o'clock PM, Pacific time. Please see terms and conditions in the rafflecopter widget below. Many thanks to Tarcher Books. You may find Tarcher: on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Pinterest.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Disclosure: Sarah received a complimentary copy of The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp as an opportunity to give a copy away. Opinions are our own. We received no further compensation for our posts.

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Sunday, June 12, 2016

Bahamian Chicken Souse and Johnnycake

Warmer weather and busy days does not mean we can't have a comforting home cooked meal ready to go for dinner. This month I brought out the slow-cooker to take a little culinary trip to the Bahamas.

I was inspired by Ellie, the talented blogger behind The Hobo Kitchen. I feel very fortunate to have found her blog because despite being another SRC member, she is in a different posting group from me. When I heard her group needed help covering a blogger this month, I agreed to get to know Ellie better and dive into her recipes! ...I had no idea how big of a treat it would be. So this makes my second Secret Recipe Club post for June.

I have never been to the Bahamas.

It would definitely be a place I would like to visit someday, but farm life doesn't really lend itself to vacations. All of my previous globe-trotting has been around Asia. Someday I hope to expand my travels. Luckily, I can enjoy recipes like this one right at home.

Ellie was born in Nassau, Bahamas. So, I had to pick a recipe from her site that would be true to her roots. Once I spotted these recipes, I was hooked. My only change was to put the Chicken Souse into the slow-cooker - for time.
Of course there were several recipes that caught my eye on her site, a recent Pecan and Goat Cheese Encrusted Chicken looked amazing, And I just must have some of her Nutella Bread Pudding in my life... and soon!

The Chicken Souse sounded both simple and delicious with chicken, potatoes, habanero peppers, whole allspice and a whole lotta lime! The flavor combinations really interested me. Ellie suggested serving this alongside warm and buttered Johnnycake, so I made that as well.

This Johnny cake didn't use the usual cornmeal base I was used to. It is simple, hearty and a great side to complete the meal.

Ready to get cooking? Grab your slow-cooker... a few simple ingredients and let's get started.

The original recipe shared on Ellie's blog is not made in a slow-cooker. As a busy mom of 3, dinner time can get a little crazy, so out comes the slow-cooker... a.k.a "dinner time machine". I also cut the recipe down by half for my family of 5.

Bahamian Chicken Souse
recipe adapted from The Hobo Kitchen

You Will Need:

  • 5 lbs. chicken, skinned, cleaned and cubed
  • 1 1/2 medium sized onions
  • 3 celery ribs, sliced
  • 1/2 habanero pepper, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. whole allspice seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. salt + more for potatoes
  • juice of 3-4 limes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 c, water
  • 2 lbs. potatoes, washed and cubed (about 4 medium russets)
Combine all the ingredients in the slow-cooker, except the potatoes. Set for 6 hours.

With an hour and a half remaining. Place the cubed potatoes in a small saucepan and fill with just enough water to cover them. Salt the water and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are softened, but still firm. Add the potatoes and potato water to the crock pot to simmer for the remaining hour.

Taste the broth before serving and add additional salt or lime juice as needed.

Bahamian Johnnycake
recipe adapted from The Hobo Kitchen

You Will Need:

  • 1/2 c. butter, softened + more for greasing the pan
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 4 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 c. milk
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a cast iron skillet with butter, set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar. Mix in the flour, water, salt and baking powder. Add milk slowly until the batter is sticky.

Pour into the skillet. Put a little flour on your hands and spread the batter out evenly. Bake for 1 hour, or until the edges begin to brown. The johnnycake doesn't rise much. Cool for 10 minutes before slicing, serve warm with butter.


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Sunday, June 5, 2016

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies

I used to love baking cookies...

I actually think it was the only thing I baked regularly before leaving for college. There was even a little kitchen-ette in our dorm, hidden away but dorm residents could request the key, I didn't know about that little perk until I was a resident assistant... the secret was closely guarded so it didn't become a mess... or worse, cause the whole complex to burn to the ground...

But I hadn't baked cookies because my oldest children couldn't eat most cookies. Don't worry, we have alternative treats to make them. But with an almost 3-year-old, cookies are back on my radar big time!

With my little-est cookie monster on my mind, I was thrilled to find June's Secret Recipe Club recipe at Emily's Life on Food with these delicious Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies.

Emily is another fabulous food blogger I know through The Secret Recipe Club, as well as The Book Club Cookbook Cooking Crew and other fun foodie events.

Emily shares all her favorite recipes and juggles her food with a young child. Yeah, I get that. Toddlers rarely wait while a sauce is thickening on the stove or keep tantrums in check while tempering eggs...


But I love that Emily is still adventurous in the kitchen, even when her hands are a little full. I need to try her Steak with Chimichurri Sauce - it looks so fresh and vibrant. I also need to try her recipe for Coconut Rice Pudding - because, well... I NEVER turn down a good rice pudding but coconut would definitely take it up a notch!

So, back to those delicious blondies!

I know the browned butter kick has faded it a bit, but this was a fun and tasty kick on a classic bar cookie. Browned butter is a little magical, don't you think? I highly recommend doing this in a cast iron skillet, if you got it. Otherwise, be sure it isn't non-stick...

Once melted, whisk to prevent the butter from burning. Brown flecks are good - blackened, burned bits are bad.

The rest is pretty much, straight up, the classic blondie recipe. So, let's get started, shall we?

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies
adapted from Life on Food

You will need:

  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 c. bittersweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare an 8"x8" baking dish with greased foil, or I like to use disposable with a lid.

Start by making the browned butter. In a large cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir constantly. The butter will foam then begin to develop brown flecks and smell nutter. When the flecks begin to form, remove from the heat and pour into a bowl. Continue stirring for an additional minute, so the butter doesn't burn. Set aside for an additional 10 minutes to cool.

To the cooled butter, whisk in the egg and vanilla extract till smooth.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Gently fold into the butter mixture. Take care to moisten all the dry ingredients but do not overmix. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan. Smooth out the top. 

Bake for about 20 minutes, until the top is set. Do not overbake. The blondies will firm up as they cool. 

Wait at least an hour before slicing into bars. Enjoy! 

Ready to check out all the great June Secret Recipe Club recipe posts?

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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Strawberry Rhubarb Sweet Focaccia

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Hopefully you have great weather and plans to spend time with family. I am nursing a bit of a cold, but hope to get outside for some fun for the holiday. If you are still looking for any last minute picnic/BBQ food ideas, I would like to introduce you to this easy and crazy delicious Strawberry Rhubarb Sweet Focaccia.

Focaccia is an Italian flatbread, but the addition of seasonal strawberries and rhubarb really  is a fun twist and great for packing along to the park or for a picnic. Pair this with some fresh squeezed lemonade and caprese salad... and you are good to go!

This marks a special holiday post. Not only is it Memorial Day, but a special Themed edition recipe for The Secret Recipe Club. Yes, that is two SRC posts this month. Be sure to also check out my Lemon Boysenberry Danish post from earlier this month.

For this post I was matched up with Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla. I was really excited about this assignment since I know her from The Book Club Cookbook group, as well as a few others. If you haven't checked out her blog yet, you are going to want to give it a look.

I am not even sure where to start.

Camilla posts her fearless culinary adventures and I think she has tried just about everything. From the local, to the rare, or just using what she has on hand, she is cooking/baking up a storm and sometimes even her boys get in on the fun!

I started looking through past recipes an even by narrowing my search to something picnic ready, my recipe wish-list was long. I still want to make this Rhubarb Salad with Beets, Feta and Spring Greens or even this Cuttle fish ink pasta. I imagine it is similar to the squid ink pasta I enjoyed in Japan, but it looked like a lot of fun to make at home!

Ultimately her passion for rhubarb won me over. Seriously. Check out how many amazing recipes she has posted with this ingredient. She is now my hero.

Even then it was hard to narrow down to just one recipe... but the Rhubarb Focaccia eventually won out.

I have a long history with rhubarb. From what I can remember growing up, it was always a staple in my Mom's garden. When we moved, a new rhubarb plant was established. Some original root stock was sent over from my Grandfather's garden. So, once I was firmly planted in a house with a yard, I planted 3 rhubarb plants.

Sadly, the past few year's drought has taken a toll and my plants are not as robust as they used to be. So, I decided to take a page from Camilla's book... I used what I had on hand... namely a whole field of ripe strawberries, and decided to add some to the sweet flat bread.

One thing I love about Camilla's recipes is she isn't afraid to modify or substitute items. That is a skill every cook she have. She is often incorporating items from a CSA box, or using local seasonal items she finds to create her dishes.

This combination of strawberries and rhubarb reminds me of the sauce my Mom would make to pour over our French Vanilla Ice Cream. Yum!

It all starts with a sweet focaccia dough.

If you have never made a focaccia dough, it is super easy! Much less problematic than a risen loaf. It is really okay with being abused and dimpling the dough can be a great stress reliever!

I chose smaller, firmer strawberries since the juicier ones could add too much moisture, then topped my dough with the sliced berries, sliced rhubarb and


Strawberry Rhubarb Sweet Focaccia
adapted from Culinary Adventures with Camilla

You Will Need:

  • 2 c. warm water
  • 1 Tbsp. active, dry yeast
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 5 c. flour + additional for kneading, as necessary
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil
  • 2 c. (combined) thinly sliced rhubarb and strawberries
  • pearl sugar
  • simple sugar *optional - 1/4 c. sugar, 1/4 c. water + any additional rhubarb
Let the yeast bloom in a cup with the water, yeast and honey. The mixture should become nice and frothy after about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, or stand mixer, whisk together the flour, salt and oil. Knead until a soft dough forms. Only use flour if necessary. The dough should still be soft.

Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover. Allow the dough to double in size. This will take about an hour, depending on the temperature of your room... and eagerness of your yeast! 

Spray or grease a jelly roll pan. Once the dough has risen, stretch it to fit the pan. Top the dough with rhubarb and strawberries, sprinkle liberally with pearl sugar. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a tea towel. If desired, brush the top of the dough with a little simple sugar. 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

After the dough rises a second time, bake it for 30 - 35 minutes, or until the top is golden. Brush the top with additional syrup if desired.

Cool, cut and enjoy!

Now check out the other Secret Recipe Club fun going on this Memorial Day!

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