Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New twist on old favorite: Sour Cream Coffeecake

I have been making a version of this coffeecake for years... My earliest recollection of making it was when I was about 10 or 11, and my aunt and uncle were coming to visit. Mom had asked me to make coffeecake, and left the recipe out on the counter. I was very excited to be able to showcase my baking abilities, and eagerly proceeded to follow the directions exactly... except for mistakenly putting in "cream cheese" instead of "sour cream." Though it tasted fine, the cake was more dense, and not quite right. Disappointed, I did learn a valuable lesson regarding making a recipe your own... or was it to read the directions more carefully?!
Originally this came to me as Pecan Sour Cream Coffeecake, but my kiddos don't go for the pecans, so I have made some adjustments. Today's version includes blueberries and a little kick of ginger for fun. Enjoy!

Blueberry-Sour Cream Coffeecake

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In large mixing bowl, cream together:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Also measure out:
1 cup sour cream

Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream, making about 3 equal additions of each and blending well after each addition.

Fold in:
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Spread into lightly greased 13x9 in pan. Sprinkle evenly with topping (see below).

Mix together in a small bowl:
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Scratch and Sniff Blog Post

My friend Ann asked the other day if it was possible to make the blog edible... Today I wish I could make this a scratch-and-sniff blog. (Anyone out there with Willy Wonka-ish tendencies and know-how?)
In my quest for uses for lavender, I decided to try using my dehydrator --a thoughtful gift from my BHE, sadly just gathering dust on garage shelf-- and see if I couldn't speed along this process of drying the flowers.
Gathering up a big handful of lavender, I spread it out in single layers on each tray of the dehydrator. Soothed by that distinctive lulling lavender aroma, I waited.........................................
About 2 hours later, turned off the dehydrator and allowed the trays to cool. Then gently pulled off the lavender buds. Don't they look pretty in that silver bowl? They smell pretty, too!
Found a clean empty jar with a lid, filled it 3/4 full with granulated sugar, sprinkled on about 2 tablespoons of lavender buds, tightened on the lid, shook well, and now I wait some more!

Coming soon: Lavender Sugar Cookies.... and I will be revisiting that Schmidt's bacon. (Just too good to leave alone!) 'Til tomorrow!

Monday, August 29, 2011


Several years ago, I decided I wanted to try to grow lavender from seed. I was told that it was difficult, so I went all out and bought two packages of seeds instead of just one. I tucked the seeds in next to the sidewalk leading up to our house, and waited. What was meant to be a pretty little border has grown to be an explosive perfumed hedgerow! (Perhaps it would have been wise to have learned first that lavender is a relative of mint and that it grows up to four feet tall?) The bees and moths and butterflies are delighted; the hummingbirds diligently peruse each tiny purple cup... but my BHE is slightly dismayed. I think he wants the sidewalk back!
In doing a little research, I have learned that lavender is known as the "herb of love." That does seem to explain a bit... I love brushing by it as I come and go. I love gathering huge bundles to bring into the house and to share with friends and neighbors. I love the soft aroma it emits. I would love to do more with it... Came across a recipe for lavender cookies, using the flowers, though other sources consulted commented that the "bitter pungency" of the leaves and flowers make this an herb better suited for sachets.

Anyone have any suggestions as to what to do with an abundance of lovely lavender?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Grilled Pork Chops

YUM! In searching for an easy grilled pork chop recipe, my BHE (Best Husband Ever) came upon this healthy version from Kalyn's Kitchen:

We enjoyed these with some luscious mashed potatoes and squawk* last night~ a simple summer supper that lets the whole neighborhood enjoy that great charcoal grill flavor drifting through the air. Isn't that a tantalizing aroma?

*Squawk is our family's name for a combination of sauteed zucchini and summer squash, with chopped garden tomatoes tossed in and mozzarella cheese sprinkled on to finish. Sometimes we include sauteed onions, too, though Son One was delighted last night that we didn't.

Let me know if you try these pork chops and what you think of them... I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls= Expression of JOY!

Just in case you weren't convinced about those cinnamon rolls, here are some visuals that may get you salivating... Feast your eyes on these delectable delights!

By the way, this recipe makes a lot of cinnamon rolls. We have eaten 2-1/2 dozen, and still have two more dozen in the freezer! (Just to be clear, "we" is a crowd of 8-- my family of 6, along with my visiting brother and sister-in-law... and then there are the four rolls that I gave to Kari and James for their anniversary.) Granted, I probably could do a fair amount of damage on a dozen of these babies all by myself... not that I would. Just sayin'~ they are that good!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Quite Possibly the World's Best Bacon

There is a particular place in southern Minnesota where the wind wafts a smoky hint of something delicious. Location? Just off of Highway 14 at Schmidt's Meat Market in Nicollet. Every time we journey to MN, we hone in on that aroma, capture it, and bring it back in a cooler full of bacon and sausage and breakfast smokies. I reverently encourage you to make the pilgrimage to Schmidt's and discover for yourself this gem of a meat market.


The beauty of bringing a little taste of Schmidt's back home to Tennessee is that we can enjoy it any time we like. Last night seemed like a perfect occasion to inhale the goodness of a bit of bacon. The aroma of those cinnamon rolls baking (see yesterday's post) and Schmidt's bacon sizzling sent Son Three to the floor in a dead faint... (The thought of actually getting to eat those delicious flavors revived him!) We all took turns going outside and then coming back in, just to get a new appreciation for the amazing aroma.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls for Supper?

My thought is "why not?" ...especially with a recipe like this one.

I was reading Ree Drummond's book Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels (love this book!), and she included a recipe for cinnamon rolls "sure to cure any heartache." I am not currently suffering any heartache, (these are probably more likely to induce a heart attack) but hey, some things you just gotta do!

Probably best to avoid these if you are trying to lose weight for your wedding, for swimsuit season, or because it is almost time to put on those favorite jeans again. They will not help with that... but is that really the point of eating cinnamon rolls? I eat them because they are gooey and yummy, and because that warm cinnamon aroma curls around you like a great big hug after a hard day at work or a long day running after the kiddos.

The only thing I changed in Ree's recipe is that I use pure vanilla in place of the maple flavoring. Just a personal preference.

This is a recipe you will want to put in your "Keeper's File."