Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins

Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins @ NancyC

I’m looking forward to blueberry season when I can pick my own berries! Until then, I have to settle for buying them at the store. I prefer using fresh blueberries when I bake, but the two markets I went to were totally out of them! So I had to use frozen, but this muffin recipe works well with either fresh or frozen berries.

Some muffins are dense, but these muffins have a lighter, more cake-like texture. They also have lots of juicy blueberries and a simple cinnamon sugar topping. So there’s nothing real fancy about these–they’re just good, basic blueberry muffins. And this recipe makes 24 muffins, so you’ll have plenty to go around!

BLUEBERRY BUTTERMILK MUFFINS by NancyC

Makes 24 regular-size muffins

  • 4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups low fat buttermilk
  • 1 1/3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Cinnamon Sugar Topping:

  • 1 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line 2 muffin pans with paper liners; set aside.

In large bowl, mix flour and baking powder.

In medium size bowl, cream softened butter and sugar (it will be more crumbly than creamy), then add eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk, blending well. Add this mixture to the flour mixture in the large bowl, mixing just until everything is moistened. Fold in the blueberries.

Spoon batter into muffins cups, filling 2/3 full. Make sugar topping by blending the sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle topping over the top of the batter in each muffin cup (you’ll probably have a little topping left over).

Bake at 350˚F for 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

I really like how these muffins puff up with rounded tops as they bake. Do you have a favorite blueberry muffin recipe?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Inspire Me MondayWeekend Potluck, Show and Share.

Sausage Balls

Sausage Balls @ NancyC

The first time I had sausage balls was about 20 years ago. I thought they were amazingly good and I’ve been hooked on them ever since! They’re perfect for group breakfasts-or-brunches or potlucks–easy to make, and easy to take. And everyone loves them!

The very first time I made these, I didn’t realize you weren’t supposed to cook the sausage before hand, and mine turned out very dry. So be sure not to cook the sausage! Mix it up raw with the baking mix and the cheese. You’ll have to use your hands, since it’s such a thick mixture (those plastic disposable sanitary kitchen gloves come in handy for this). After the ingredients are mixed together, you just roll into balls, place them on a baking sheet, and pop in the oven. And everyone will love you for making these.:)

SAUSAGE BALLS

Makes about 3 dozen

  • 2 cups baking mix (like Bisquick)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic or onion powder, optional
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 pound uncooked pork sausage at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease (or line with parchment paper) a 15 x 10″ or 13 x 18″ baking sheet; set aside.

Mix baking mix and sausage together in a bowl; blend well, then add in the cheddar cheese (the mixture will be very thick; you’ll need to mix everything well with your hands). Roll mixture into 1″ to 1 1/8″ balls; arrange balls on prepared baking sheet.

Bake at 350˚F for 25 minutes, or until golden brown and sausage is fully cooked. Drain on paper towels, then serve warm.

Some of my friends bake these at 375˚F for 18 minutes with good results, if you like having a shorter baking time. And you can freeze any leftover sausage balls and reheat at 350˚F for 10 minutes. But don’t count on having any leftovers!

Have you ever made sausage balls? It’s definitely a favorite recipe of mine!

Linked to Throwback ThursdayFiesta Friday, Weekend Potluck, Create With Joy, Meal Plan Monday, Show and Share, Wow Me Wednesday, Create it Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things.

Finding Strength in Beauty

Lovely Pansies @ NancyC

51AAkaaspaL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_In some way I feel you here with me as I write, and I hope you feel that I’m there with you as you read, just your friend, across the table at a coffee shop, swapping stories and sharing hope,” Annie F. Downs writes at the beginning of her new book, Looking for Lovely. And as I read my review copy of the book, I really did feel that way–like I was having coffee with a good friend, sharing life…funny stories, disappointments, struggles…and most importantly, seeing together the hope beyond the difficult times.

Annie challenges us to look for the beauty around us in simple everyday moments, because it’s in those moments we see God in unique ways and we’re reminded of His love and care for us. And we draw strength from that–strength and encouragement to keep us going on our journey. Annie explains, “There is a correlation, I’m finding, between beauty and perseverance….Beauty is what makes it possible to keep going. And beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it? It’s not just in the things everyone sees, but it is what YOU see, what sticks out to you, the unique moments God gives you to collect up and hold and draw strength from.” 

Strength for the journey–we all need that! Annie, in her very personal, honest style, shares some of her own struggles–things that so many of us can relate to. And how finding loveliness in simple things like a sunrise or time spent with friends helps her see God’s love and His truths more clearly. God blesses our lives with loveliness in so many ways and it’s all around us, like little gifts He surprises us with every day.

I found that I had a new perspective after reading this book. I realized, as Annie points out, that an everyday occurrence like a sunrise is a beautiful reminder that there’s an end to darkness–it’s the beauty God created for us that helps get us through the hard times, keeps us from quitting, and gives us hope. Annie sums it up perfectly when she says, “I’m believing what I cannot see because of what I can see.” And after reading her book, I’m inspired to do the same.

Linked to Thursday Favorite ThingsCreate With Joy.

Banana, Mango, Ginger, Orange Smoothie

Banana Mango Ginger Orange Smoothie @ NancyC

Yes, that’s quite a long name but it sounds good, doesn’t it? This smoothie recipe comes from a cookbook called Eating Clean in Costa Rica (softcover). As I looked through my review copy, I found lots of easy, healthy foods that the book describes as 616-fPC8brL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_“farm-to-table” recipes and there are 108 to choose from for breakfast and brunch, main dishes, veggies and sides, salads, soups, and desserts. The instructions for most of the recipes include amounts measured in grams, milliliters, etc., so if you’re used to cups and ounces like I am, you’ll have to convert the amounts.

I thought I’d try the Banana, Mango, Ginger, Orange Smoothie. It sounds kind of summery, but the day I made this it was almost 70 degrees. So a tropical-sounding smoothie was in order to celebrate this warm sunny day! It was so smooth and creamy, and had a great lightly-sweet taste. Normally I like to sweeten smoothies with honey, but this recipe does not need any additional sweetener.

BANANA, MANGO, GINGER, ORANGE SMOOTHIE from Eating Clean in Costa Rica

Makes 2 servings

  • 1 mango
  • 1 to 2 bananas (I used 2 bananas)
  • 2 oranges, juiced
  • 200 ml plain yogurt (I used 1 cup–it’s not an exact conversion, but it’s very close!)
  • A pinch of ground ginger (I used 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 12 ice cubes
  • 2 slices of lime

Cut mango into cubes, removing the pit and skin. Chop the bananas. Juice the oranges.

Combine these ingredients into a blender, including the ginger and yogurt. Blend until smooth and creamy, adding a little water if needed.

Add ice cubes and blend once more. Serve in tall glasses decorated with a slice of lime.

I love smoothies and I’m sure I’ll be making this quite often during the warm weather. Do you have a favorite smoothie recipe?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday, Show and ShareFull Plate Thursday, Create It Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things.

Easter Egg Bark

Easter Egg Bark @ NancyCI can’t believe Easter is almost here! If you haven’t had a chance to make any Easter treats yet, here’s a really easy recipe you can put together quickly–and no baking required! It’s so fun and colorful, too. I based this Easter Egg Bark on my Candy Corn Bark recipe I had posted a few years ago. It’s really yummy, packed with those super-good Cadbury candy-coated mini milk chocolate eggs and Easter M&M’s, along with a colorful dash of sprinkles!

This is a thicker bark, compared to some others I’ve made; if you like thinner barks, you could spread the melted white chocolate base in a thinner layer on a 10 x 15″ baking sheet instead of a 9 x 13″ pan. One important tip: It helps if you have the mini eggs and M&M’s pre-measured so you can sprinkle them on quickly before the white chocolate starts to set!

EASTER EGG BARK by NancyC

Makes a 9 x 13″ pan

  • 2 (12-ounce) packages white chocolate (vanilla) baking chips
  • 1 cup Cadbury milk chocolate Mini Eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk chocolate Easter M&M’s
  • Colorful Sprinkles

Line a 9 x 13 ” pan with parchment paper, going up the sides and leaving 2 extra inches of paper on each side (so you can lift the bark out of the pan later); set aside.

In a medium microwaveable bowl or container, microwave the white chocolate chips for one minute, then stop and stir. Continue melting the chocolate in the microwave, stopping and stirring every 30 seconds, until all the chips are melted and smooth, for a total of about 2  to 2 1/2 minutes (be careful not to overheat, or the white chocolate will become clumpy!).

Spread the melted white chocolate evenly in a thin layer in the parchment-lined pan with a large spoon or spatula. Sprinkle the Cadbury mini eggs over the melted chocolate, pressing eggs about halfway into the chocolate as you’re placing them. Then do the same with the Easter M&M’s (it helps if you have all these ingredients pre-measured so you can sprinkle them on quickly before the chocolate starts to set). Last of all, top with colorful sprinkles, pressing lightly into the white chocolate if necessary. Note: Make sure all ingredients are pressed into the melted chocolate, or they will just fall off when you are breaking up the bark later.

Let bark set about 1 hour, or until completely firm (you can chill the bark in the refrigerator to help it set quicker). Lift bark from the pan (with the sides of the parchment paper) and place on kitchen counter. Peel parchment paper from bottom side of bark, breaking bark into pieces as you peel. Serve on a platter or in a bowl, or package into treat bags. Store any extra bark covered in an airtight container at room temperature.

That’s all there is to it! What fun sweets and treats are you making for Easter?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Weekend Potluck.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pie

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pie @ NancyC

When it comes to pie-making, I’m more of a beginner. I just haven’t made a lot of pies. But I did make a pie for Pi Day, which was March 14. And it was a very easy pie–one with a pre-made cookie crust. All I had to do was mix up the filling and let it chill in the fridge. What could be easier than that?

The filling for this Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Pie is made with heavy whipping cream, which makes it nice and rich. And there’s peanut butter in it, of course, along with marshmallow cream. The filling is topped with mini semi-sweet chocolate chips and some chopped, salted, dry roasted peanuts which give the pie a great sweet-and-salty taste!

CHOCOLATE CHIP PEANUT BUTTER PIE by NancyC, adapted from RealSimple

Makes one 9″ pie

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 1/2 cups marshmallow cream
  • 1 1/4 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1 (9-inch) pre-made chocolate graham cracker or cookie pie crust (I used a 6-oz. Oreo Pie Crust)

For Topping:

  • 1/3 cup chopped salted dry roasted peanuts
  • 2 -3 Tablespoons semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (you could use regular-size chips instead and other flavors if you prefer–milk, white, or dark chocolate; or peanut butter)

Using an electric mixer, beat heavy cream until soft peaks form. Beat in marshmallow cream and creamy peanut butter.

Spread mixture into the pie crust and top with chopped peanuts and mini semi-sweet chocolate chips. Chill until firm, about 4 to 5 hours.

You can’t go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate in a pie! Did you make or eat any pies for Pi Day?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Weekend Potluck, Create With Joy, Wow Me Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday, Create It Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things, You Link It, We Make It.

Trust the Path

Trust the Path @ NancyC

TRUST THE PATH, I heard God say. And I knew He didn’t just mean the “medium” difficulty one at Radnor Lake. He meant the questions in my heart, the things I wonder about, the worries that I am going to miss Him. I don’t have to know where things are going; I don’t have to know the destination; I just have to trust the path. –ANNIE F. DOWNS, Looking for Lovely

Looking for Lovely: Collecting the Moments that Matter  is a new book by Annie F. Downs, available for preorder at http://lookingforlovelybook.com.

Linked to Favorite Things Thursday.

Chilighetti

One-Pot Chilighetti @ NancyC

Spaghetti is a favorite dish of mine, and so is chili. I never seem to get tired of them. So of course when I came across a recipe for Chilighetti, I had to try it out!

I really liked that the original recipe was made all in one pot. I did make some changes, though–instead of using tomato juice as part of the sauce, I used a combination of tomato sauce and pasta sauce to thicken it up. And I used beef broth instead of water for a more beefy flavor.

I ended up with this nice, saucy spaghetti dish. When serving, be sure to top the Chilighetti with sour cream and cheddar cheese–you’ll have a wonderful comfort-food meal!

CHILIGHETTI by NancyC, adapted from Taste of Home

Makes 8 servings

  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 (24-ounce) jar chunky pasta sauce
  • 1 (15-ounce) can and 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 1/3 cups beef broth
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 (1 lb.) package spaghetti, broken into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • Sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese, for garnish

In a large (6-quart) stockpot, cook beef and onion over medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until beef is no longer pink and onion is tender, breaking beef up into crumbles; drain excess grease.

Stir in pasta sauce, tomato sauce, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, and seasonings; bring to a boil. Add spaghetti, then reduce heat, cover pot, and simmer for 12 minutes, or until pasta is tender. Stir in beans and heat a few more minutes, until everything is heated through (if the mixture is too thick for your liking, add in a little more beef broth or water).

Serve in bowls or on plates, and top each serving with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese.

This is definitely a filling meal–especially when you serve it with a salad and some crusty bread or rolls. Are you a fan of chili and spaghetti, too?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Weekend Potluck, Create With Joy, Show and Share, Wow Me Wednesday, Wow Us Wednesdays, Full Plate Thursday, Create It Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things.

Blueberry and Buttermilk Scones

Blueberry and Buttermilk Scones @ NancyC

Have you ever been to an afternoon tea? I’ve been to two–one was at a hotel and the other was at a bed and breakfast. They were both such a treat! Having tea with friends and tasting fancy little tea sandwiches, cakes, scones, and pastries was such a wonderful break in the day.

51AHe0DsRfL._SX416_BO1,204,203,200_My tea time memories came to mind as I was looking through my review copy of Afternoon Tea at Home by Will Torrent. Just looking at the cover photo will make you want to treat yourself to a special tea time or host your own afternoon tea!

The book has a wide selection of recipes–scones, spreads, tarts, cakes, tea sandwiches, cookies–everything you could ever want for tea time. And there are beautiful full-color photos of the recipes.

I decided to try the Blueberry and Buttermilk Scones since I had already been thinking about making some scones. The book also includes instructions for making Honeycomb Butter to serve along with these scones, but I just made the scones. I really liked them–they’re slightly sweet and moist, with lots of blueberries. I’ve had scones before that were too dry, but I thought the texture of these was just right!

BLUEBERRY AND BUTTERMILK SCONES from Afternoon Tea at Home

Makes 16 small scones

  • 2 3/4 cups (350 g) all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 stick butter (125 g), chilled and diced
  • generous 1/3 cup (75 g) granulated sugar (also called caster sugar)
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cup (175-200 ml) buttermilk (I used 3/4 cup)
  • 1 1/4 cup (150 g) fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 2 Tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 Tablespoons turbinado or demerara sugar (these are raw, unrefined sugars; you can substitute granulated sugar if you don’t have these)

Preheat oven to 400˚F (200˚C). Note: I also lined a baking sheet with parchment paper for the scones.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the chilled, diced butter and rub into the dry ingredients using your hands (I found it easier to use a pastry blender rather than my hands). When the mixture resembles sand and there are only very small pieces of butter remaining, add the granulated sugar and mix to combine.

Make a well in the middle of the mixture, add the buttermilk and blueberries and stir to combine using a rubber spatula. One the dough starts to come together, use your hands to form a rough ball.

Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Very lightly knead for about 30 seconds to bring the dough into an almost smooth ball but do not overwork the dough. Cut in half and flatten each half into a round disc each about 6 1/4 inches (16 cm) in diameter. Using a long, sharp knife cut each disc into 8 triangular wedge shapes.

Arrange the wedges on the prepared baking sheets and brush the tops with a little milk, scatter with turbinado sugar and bake on the middle shelf of the preheated oven for 12-14 minutes, or until well-risen and golden.

Cool on a wire rack and serve slightly warm with butter or honey butter.

These scones would be great not only for tea time but for breakfast or brunch, too!

Have you been to an afternoon tea? Or hosted one?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday. Show and Share, Create It Thursday, Full Plate Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things.

Retro Brownies

Retro Brownies @ NancyC

Last week, I saw Greg walking down the hall at work. I knew what he was going to say.

“Hey, did you make the brownies?” he asked. I knew he meant THE Brownies. He had told me all about them–how his mom had made them for years from a cookbook she had received as a wedding present. How they were his favorite brownies. After I heard him talk about those brownies and the cookbook they came from, I was convinced I needed that cookbook. I told Greg I was going to order the cookbook and make those brownies real soon.

That was last fall.

It took awhile for me to get around to ordering the cookbook on Amazon. But I finally did and I received it about 3 weeks ago. But I still hadn’t made THE Brownies.

So when I ran into Greg this time, I told him I was determined to make those brownies the following weekend and I’d bring him one (and one for Jane, too, who was nearby and happened to hear us talking about the 61P9FYWw8kL._SX445_BO1,204,203,200_brownies). And that is how I finally got around to making them.

These are your basic brownies with a good milk chocolatey flavor and a great moist texture-not too fudgey, not too cakey, but just right. They’re from a vintage cookbook that was published in the 1940’s, with updated editions in the 1950’s and 60’s. The cookbook is called The Modern Family Cookbook by Meta Given (not to be confused with the Modern Family Cookbook from the current TV show). There’s just one brownie recipe in this cookbook, simply called “Brownies.” The original recipe is made in an 8×8″ pan; I doubled the recipe and made the brownies in a 9×13″ pan. Try them out and see what you think!

RETRO BROWNIES by NancyC, adapted from The Modern Family Cookbook by Meta Given

Makes a 9×13″ pan

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 squares baking chocolate (unsweetened), melted and cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (I used pecans)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease a 9×13″ baking pan with butter or spray with cooking spray; set aside (or you can line your pan with parchment paper).

In a medium size bowl, blend flour and salt (the original recipe says “Sift flour, measure and resift with salt” but I just blended the flour and salt together with a whisk).

In a large bowl, cream butter, gradually blend in sugar and add beaten eggs; beat until smooth and fluffy. Add vanilla and stir in melted chocolate.

Add the flour mixture to the butter/sugar/egg mixture in 2 or 3 portions, stirring well after each addition. Add in the chopped nuts with the last few stirs.

Spread batter evenly in a 9×13″ pan which has been buttered (or sprayed, or lined with parchment paper), and bake in at 350˚F for 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove pan to cake rack to cool.

You can cut brownies into bars while still warm or let them cool completely before cutting.

My baking time of 30 minutes was about 10 minutes longer than the original recipe–Greg said his mom baked them longer, too.

You just gotta love those recipes from yesteryear! Do you have a favorite vintage recipe?

Linked to Fiesta Friday, Saucy Saturdays, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday, Show and Share, Full Plate Thursday, Favorite Things Thursday.