Friday, August 19, 2011

Supreme Blueberry Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce

For some reason, there are certain to me that are quintessential New England. Sort of like those things you have to do or have when you're up here. For example, when in New Hampshire, go to the white mountains. When in Vermont, go see Ben and Jerry's.
Well, when in Maine, I always always have to have blueberry pancakes. I'm so not a pancake person; give me waffles or an omelet or a bagel anyday. But put me in Maine, and bam. I want need blueberry pancakes. So what's a girl to do? Ummm find a bomb recipe and make it herself.

Supreme Blueberry Pancakes
2 cups Bisquick Mix
1 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup blueberries
Blueberry Sauce (optional, recipe follows)

1. Preheat electric griddle or frying pan to medium high heat. Stir first six ingredients until well blended. Gently fold in the blueberries.
2. Use 1/4 cup measure to scoop and pour pancakes onto the hot greased griddle. Cook until little bubbles start to form around the edges of the pancake. Check to see if bottoms are golden brown and then flip. Cook until opposite side is golden brown.
3. Optional toppings: maple syrup, butter, cinnamon and sugar, blueberry sauce

Blueberry Sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1.5 tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp +2 tsp water
1 cup blueberries

1. In a saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Gradually stir in water. Add blueberries, bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve alongside pancakes.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Creamy Chicken Spinach Calzone

If you've been to Boston and you love Italian, you've probably been to the North End. A thin strip of restaurants line the streets in this corner of the city, and if you want authentic, this is probably where you want to go. I adore the North End. It, to me, feels like a different world. It's bustling with tourists and locals alike, and the lines to certain restaurants always stretch around the corner.
Alas, on my current budget, trips to the North End are few and far between. I'm counting down the days until my parents come help me move in so I can go to some of my favorites. 30 days. But until September 1, I'm stuck. Or am I?

Creamy Chicken Spinach Calzone
1 can Pillsbury Pizza Crust
3/4 lb cooked chicken, chopped
1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
3 cups shredded Italian cheese blend
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
2 tbsp dried Italian seasoning
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 salad bag of fresh spinach
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, saute spinach in olive oil and season with salt and pepper, if desired.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the chicken, all cheeses, eggs, Italian seasoning, Oregano and spinach. Set aside.
3. Divide the crust dough into 4 pieces and roll each piece about 1/4 inch thick into circle. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the ricotta filling onto each circle, fold over and seal the edges. Place onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until nicely browned on the tops and bottoms.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

It rained today. Like cats and dogs rain. From the time I went to work at 6:45 in the morning until I got home at 2:30. It rained hard. It misted. It steamed the streets. Just rain rain rain. I'm one of the few people who enjoys this weather. It makes me slow down a bit because God knows I'm always going 100 miles a minute. To imagine a rainy day is to go to my peaceful place. Not a lot of people can relate to that. In movies, daydreams revolve around piƱa coladas on the beach with steel drums playing in the background. The wind is blowing lightly and the waves are crashing onto the sand. Paradise, I suppose.
That's all well and good for you, but I will take the rain. And maybe one of these Chocolate Coconut Macaroons... just to call it even.

Chocolate Coconut Macaroons
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
14 oz bag sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 tsp salt
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, coconut and salt. Stir in the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla with your hands until well blended.
2. Using an ice cream scoop or coffee scoop (whatever you have that is about 2 tbsp) drop dough onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until coconut is toasted.
3. Meanwhile, microwave the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Stir every 30 seconds until melted. Drizzle over cooled macaroons. Makes 24.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Blackberry Apple Upside Down Cake

Every time life gets a little bit more hectic than usual, the one thing that suffers the most is my cooking. Honestly -- the self proclaimed "foodie" has been eating Hamburger Helper, Old El Paso tacos and canned Sloppy Joe mix. It's been... interesting. As you can imagine, there has been no baking in the kitchen, and though it makes me sad, it gives me the opportunity to revisit some of the things I've made in the past.
This Blackberry Apple Upside Down Cake is perfect for the end of August because it uses summery blackberries and apples, which peak in the fall. It's elegant enough to be on display but really, it's perfect served alongside a scoop of melty vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

Blackberry Apple Upside Down Cake
3/4 cup butter, softened and divided
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 large Gala apples, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 cup fresh ripe blackberries**
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a lightly greased 9-inch round cake pan (with sides that are at least 2 inches high) over low heat. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with brown sugar; drizzle honey over brown sugar. Arrange apple slices in concentric circles over brown sugar mixture, overlapping as needed; sprinkle with blackberries.
2. Beat granulated sugar and remaining 1/2 cup butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.
3. Sift together flour and baking powder. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Spoon batter over blackberries in pan.
4. Bake at 350° for 45 to 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Carefully run a knife around edge of cake to loosen. Invert cake onto a serving plate, spooning any topping in pan over cake.

**Make sure you test a few of your blackberries before putting them into your cake. I've made this recipe with too-tart berries and it was ruined! Also, swap blackberries for cranberries for a more autumn-y feel.