We had such a lovely Fourth of July yesterday. It was a beautiful day here in Arizona and we lazed around all day and I threw together a quick blueberry puree in my ninja blender. I had quite a bit of fresh mint left in the fridge and whipped together this refreshing sipper with some store bought lemonade. Normally I make fresh lemonade when our ginormous lemon tree is in season, but I think it is yummy even with store bought. I like the brand Simply Lemonade. The great thing about this quick cocktail is the little ones can enjoy it sans vodka, so it’s family friendly. Just whip up the puree earlier in the day and keep it in the fridge with the fresh mint.
We finished off the night swimming in the pool and sipping cocktails with our friends, while watching our neighbors’ fireworks. We are lucky to have neighbors a few blocks away who shoot off fireworks every year so we stay home and swim in the pool while taking in the bright display. Stay safe and enjoy Summer everyone!
Blueberry Mint Lemonade (with optional Vodka)
2 pints fresh blueberries, rinsed
1 Cup water
Place the blueberries and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cool, puree in a blender until smooth (some little bits of blueberry are fine).
How to make cocktail:
In a tall Collins glass place 1 1/2 Tbsp. of blueberry puree and mint leaves from one sprig. Smash lightly the mint with a spoon. Fill the glass with 1 oz. of vodka, one more sprig of mint, then top off with crushed ice and lemonade.
Tip for storing fresh mint: When you bring the mint home from the store, take it out of the package, rinse in cold water, and place in a glass of cold water (I use a mason jar). Make sure the sprigs are immersed in the water.
Belly up to the bar. The cookie bar that is. I love summer because there is just a plethora of fruit to choose from and I’ve been buying fruit like crazy lately. I bought an over abundance of blueberries this week (on sale) and stashed quite a few in the freezer. The rest of the berries were used to make these little berrylicious beauties. Cookie bars are the thing to make when you want to bake but you don’t have a lot of energy for something ambitious.
Blueberry Crumb Bars
3 Cups all purpose flour
1 Cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
zest of one lemon
1 Cup unsalted butter, cubed and kept cold
1 Lg. egg
1. Prepare a 9×13 baking pan by greasing the bottom and sides of the pan, then set aside. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
2. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, place the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and lemon zest and pulse a few times to combine. Add the cubed cold butter and pulse about 10 times to resemble coarse meal. Add the egg and pulse a few more times to combine. Portion out half; about 2 1/2 Cups of the crumb mixture for the base of the bars and press into the bottom of the prepared pan; reserve the rest of the crumble for the top. Make the filling as per below.
4 Cups fresh blueberries washed/drained
3/4 Cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
5 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 Cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 medium lemon)
In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and cornstarch to combine. Add the blueberries and lemon juice and gently fold with a rubber spatula to combine. Pour the filling over the base crumb, and gently spread with a spatula as needed to ensure an even filling. Sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture allowing both smaller and larger bits to form when sprinkling the topping over filling. Bake in a 375° F preheated oven for 40-45 minutes until crumb topping is lightly golden brown. Allow the bars to cool completely then cut into squares or rectangles as desired.
Why do I feel a bit guilty when I eat a pop tart. Like I have to come up with some well thought out excuse why I want one. Maybe I just want a sugar laden rocket launch to head me into the 9 o’clock morning hour. Maybe I want an excuse to have a frosting covered dual slab o’ pastry for breakfast. With sprinkles. Maybe I’m calling out my inner 5 yr. old. Maybe, just maybe, I just kind of enjoy it. I still feel a bit guilty though- as I peel open with my teeth all kindergarten like, into that flimsy foil that houses the sugar slab of love. You know how there is always that one corner that gets super browned by the toaster and you always go for the corner bit to start? That super crispy corner gets me every time. Then you hit the warm oozy jam part and it’s like a guilty pleasure. The devil on the left shoulder is telling you, “Oh yeah, it’s good isn’t it?” and the angel on the right shoulder is telling you “You shoulda had bran flakes”. Forget bran flakes….
one recipe fearless pie crust
blueberry butter (purchased) Note: you can use any filling of your choice such as a thicker jam or preserves; a more tart filling is best to off set the sweet icing.
1 Cup confectioners sugar
2 Tbsp. milk
colored sugar sprinkles
Assembly: Roll out pie crust to 1/8 inch thick. Cut into triangles measuring 3×5 inches. Spread blueberry filling (about 1 Tbsp) into a thin layer; leaving about 1/2 inch border so filling is not too close to edge. Top with second pie crust rectangle and seal edges by pressing together with a fork. Pierce the tops of each tart with the tines of a fork about 6-8 times. Bake in preheated oven at 375° F for about 15 minutes or until crust looks set. Remove from oven and let cool on the tray over a wire rack. Once completely cooled- dip tops into icing and decorate as desired with sprinkles or sugar.
For Icing: mix together sugar and milk until smooth. If icing is too runny add a bit of extra sugar a teaspoon at a time.
Summer makes me lazy. Makes me so lazy that I’d much rather prefer eating an ice pop than scooping ice cream into a bowl. But summer was made for being lazy, right? Lazy pseudo naps in the hammock, lazy nights relaxing on the porch catching random breezes. No loading dirty bowls into the dish washer. Just fling the pop stick into the garbage. Lazy. Embrace it. You can totally blame it on me…
Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Pops
recipe: adapted from Southern Living
yield: 8-12 ice pops depending on size of molds
1 pint fresh, clean blueberries
3/4 Cup sugar
2 tsp. lemon zest
1 tsp. lemon juice
In a small sauce pan bring contents to boil and then turn down to simmer until mixture thickens. Let cool completely then place in refrigerator to chill until needed.
Cheesecake Ice Cream Base
8 oz. softened cream cheese
1 1/2 Cups half and half
1/2 Cup buttermilk
3/4 Cup sugar
pinch of kosher salt
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste
1. Process ingredients in a blender until smooth; about 1 minute. Pour into a freezable container and place in the freezer. Freeze for one hour, stirring every 20 minutes.
2. Stir 3/4 cup blueberry swirl into the ice cream base and continue to freeze again for another 20 minutes; saving the rest of the blueberry swirl to layer ice pops with.
3. Layer blueberry ice cream into ice pops molds and freeze about 20 minutes. Spoon a thin layer of blueberry swirl, then freeze for 10 minutes. Spoon another layer of ice cream over swirl- freeze for 20 minutes, and continue once more with swirl and freeze as indicated before topping off with ice cream. After 15 minutes insert popsicle sticks into ice pops and continue to freeze until firm.
p.s. If you don’t want to layer the ice pops with a stripe- you can mix in all of the swirl into the base and spoon the mixture into the molds-wait about an hour until firm enough to insert the pop sticks.
You may also use the base recipe and process in your ice cream maker and once done churning, layer the base with the blueberry swirl in a square shaped ice cream container.
You know that saying, “Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t?” Well, sometimes you feel like streusel, and sometimes you don’t. Guess what I felt like today? Yep. Totally into streusel. I love the crunchy sugary top of a muffin that happens after the streusel topping melts into the muffin. The best way to eat these is to break them open and smear sweet butter on them while still warm. These muffins have a very tender crumb because of all the sour cream in them. The technique is kind of an unusual recipe (from Cook’s Illustrated) but it creates a very soft tender muffin.
Blueberry Streusel Muffins
adapted from Cooks Illustrated
yield: 12 muffins
2 Cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Cups fresh (or frozen) blueberries
1 large egg
1 Cup sugar
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted & cooled
1 1/4 Cups sour cream
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/2 Cup all purpose flour
1/3 Cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 Tbsp. melted butter
For streusel: In a small bowl combine all ingredients with a fork. Set aside until ready to use.
1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin with non stick spray or butter.
2. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl until well combined. Add blueberries, and toss to combine.
3. In a large bowl whisk egg until light colored; about 20 seconds. Add sugar and whisk vigorously until thick and homogenous, about 30 seconds. Add melted butter in 2-3 additions, whisking to combine after each addition. Add sour cream in 2 additions, whisking until just combined. Add flour mixture in 2-3 additions and gently fold after each addition until batter comes together; being careful not to over-mix. Batter may have small spots of flour remaining. Do not over-mix. Batter will be thick.
4. Distribute batter evenly among prepared muffin tin. Sprinkle streusel topping over each muffin. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out with few crumbs attached. Let muffins cool in tin for 10 minutes, then remove to cool over wire rack.
Have you noticed that dessert wise, mini is it? Mini is super fun. Mini cupcakes, macarons, cake pops, mini scones. We like mini. I like mini. Frankly I’m kind of mini dessert obsessed. With mini you can enjoy with no guilt. Just don’t eat 14 minis. One great thing about mini desserts is, there is no cutting. This is really handy when you are entertaining, everyone can help themselves. We are coming up on the season of family gatherings. Family reunions, graduations, backyard barbeques. Mini is your friend when entertaining. Caterers have known this for years. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still love the look of a beautiful full size pie and they have their own glory. Bringing someone a full size pie as a gift is a beautiful thing. For years commercial food marketing dominated super size. Super size fries, Big Mac, Big Gulp as an example. I know we are talking dessert here, but I think as consumers now we’ve gone to the other extreme and we figured out that when it comes to mini; mini is it. Having mini desserts at weddings is very in. Cruise around the internet and search among wedding blogs and you will find dessert tables with mini treats are really en vogue. Mini is here to stay. Get in touch with your inner mini and bake up some minis…
See my recipe for All Butter Pie Crust
Blueberry Mini Pies
yield: ~ 8-10 mini pies
recipe adapted from “Mini Pies” by Christy Beaver and Morgan Greenseth
One recipe of my All Butter Pie Crust (see above)
3 Cups blueberries
1/4 sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. culinary rose water (optional) (if you don’t like rose; just replace with water)
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
milk for brushing pie crusts
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Generously grease a 12 cup standard size muffin tin with butter or cooking spray.
2. Combine the berries, sugar, flour, cinnamon, rose water, lemon zest and lemon juice in a large bowl.
3. Roll out the pie crust to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Using a 4 inch round or scalloped edge cutter, cut 12 crusts. Re-form and re-roll dough as necessary.
4. Carefully shape the crusts into the wells of the muffin tin, crimping the edges with your fingers.
5. Fill each mini pie to the brim with the blueberry mixture, about 3 tablespoons for each pie. Top each pie with a decorative mini cut out if desired.
6. With a pastry brush, lightly brush the pie crusts with milk and then sprinkle with sugar.
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the crusts are golden brown. Allow to cool for a few minutes in the muffin tin, then carefully remove the pies from the pan and place on a wire rack to finish cooling. To remove, first try to spin the pies in the muffin wells. If they need a little extra help, run a butter knife along the edge of the crusts to pop them out of the tin. I like to pop the cooled pies into pretty paper muffin liners- it makes it handy to have something to eat out of helps protect the pies from cracking. Since the pies shrink a little during baking they fit nicely into paper lines without any problem.
8. Serve, or store in an airtight container at room temp for up to 2 days.
Scones are probably one of my favorite breakfast treats. A hot scone, the morning paper and a good cup of joe is the beginning of a good day. The thing I love about scones is the possibilities are endless. You can make up any combination of fruit or fruit and nuts. This scone recipe is simple and rustic; no rolling out, no fussy cutting, just scoop and drop. This is a good recipe if you have company coming for a weekend. Make the batter ahead of time-scoop them all out on a parchment lined sheet tray, freeze until firm and then remove them from the tray, store in a ziplock bag; then when you want scones you can bake them off; you just have to adjust the baking time for longer.
Blueberry Drop Scones
(yield: 8-10 scones)
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/4 Cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. lemon zest
6 Tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 Cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 Large egg
3/4 Cup milk
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a medium bowl, with a fork combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Using a pastry blender cut in the cubes of butter until mixture is crumbly but you still have pea sized pieces of butter.
2. In a measuring cup whisk the egg and milk. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the milk mixture using a fork to combine. Fold in the blueberries. The batter will be very wet.
3. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper drop batter using an ice cream scoop; leaving 2 inch space between each scones. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Serve warm.