ANNOUNCING: Change is part of life, and apparently, it's part of blogging, too. As of September 5, 2013, I'm merging The Virtual Goody Plate with Disco Mom Takes on the World and whatever else may henceforth spill from my fingertips (and kitchen), into one great new blog. I hope you'll join me there in exclaiming, "THIS IS AWESOMELAND."

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Lemon Ice Cream (YUMMY)

This recipe comes from my friend Julia and it's like the lemon version of that amazing Strawberry Buttermilk Sherbet. My Mom was over for lunch the other day and we had it for dessert; she called it "Lemon Creamsicle" which it exactly would be if I'd frozen it in pops instead of a Tupperware. Wow, which would be AWESOME. This ice cream is so fresh and sweet, truly just what I needed in this peak heat of neverending August.

Lemon Ice Cream
2/3 to 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (depending on the potency of the lemons, which is completely subjective - I used somewhere between these measurements)
2 cups sugar
4 cups (1 quart) half-and-half

Stir these three ingredients together until sugar is somewhat dissolved. Pour into electric ice cream machine and churn, churn, churn. Place in plastic container in freezer to freeze completely.
Recipe from Julia M.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chocolate-Zucchini Cakes with Walnuts (or Pecans)

This is the first of a couple good zucchini recipes I have coming down the pike. These little bite-size lovelies are my favorite kind of zucchini treat - chocolate and moist beyond description. Given my druthers, I take pecans over walnuts any day but have it your way. These are quick, simple, aromatic and great for packing in lunches! Brownies with veggies snuck in - what could be better?

Chocolate-Zucchini Cakes with Walnuts (or Pecans)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 large egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup finely grated zucchini (from 1 medium zucchini)
3 T sour cream
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup (3 oz.) bittersweet chocolate, chopped, or chocolate chips
nonstick cooking spray
24 walnut or pecan halves

1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, stir together butter, sugar, salt, and egg until combined. Add vanilla, zucchini and sour cream and stir until incorporated. Sift flour and cocoa powder into bowl and stir until combined. Stir in chocolate.

2. Spray 24 mini muffin cups with cooking spray. Fill each cup with 2 T batter (medium cookie scoop) and top with a walnut or pecan half. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, 15 to 17 minutes. Let muffins cool slightly in pans on wire racks before serving. (Store in an airtight container, up to 3 days.) Makes 24 mini cakes

Recipe from Everyday Food

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cardamom-Lime Sweet Rolls

I realize these might be more of a winter thing. Cardamom is a warming spice. Lime is a winter fruit. These even came from a January magazine issue. But as you know, I do what I want. I've had this recipe in my files for two years and I was finally in just the right mood to make them. In August. So I did.

Oh, you will looove these! Not only are they sweet and cute and bursting with fabulous flavors, but they're easy! Yes, there's the whole long time thing with the yeast. My first rise took more like 1 1/2 to almost 2 hours rather than the promised 1. But it wasn't a big deal - I was home all day (I love staying home all day) so I just kept checking it until it was ready. But there's nothing complicated about these. And the filling is so good. And so is the icing (my girls painted it on with pastry brushes, so fun!) And the dough is super soft and tender!

Now that I know how good these are, and how quality the dough is, they are wide open to improvisation. A reviewer said she made them with lemon and liked them even better. I might try orange and nutmeg, although cardamom is hard to beat.

We gobbled these up for an afternoon snack, a breakfast the next day, and a picnic at the beach. And now that I've got a kindergartener, I'm looking at everything for it's lunchbox-packability. I think these pass, though I might inlclude a wet wipe!
Cardamom-Lime Sweet Rolls (print recipe)
1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (about 10 1/2 ounces), divided
Cooking spray

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated lime rind
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 tablespoons butter, melted, divided

1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1. To prepare dough, dissolve yeast in warm water in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes.

2. Combine sour cream and next 5 ingredients (through egg) in a large bowl, stirring until well blended. Gradually stir yeast mixture into sour cream mixture. Lightly spoon 2 1/3 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 cups flour to sour cream mixture, stirring to form a soft dough.

3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel slightly tacky, but I still had to add more flour than the recipe calls for to make it handle-able).

4. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, dough has risen enough.)

5. To prepare filling, combine brown sugar, rind, and cardamom. Divide dough into two equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time, roll dough into a 12 x 10–inch rectangle; brush with 1 tablespoon butter. Sprinkle half of filling over dough. Beginning with a long side, roll up jelly-roll fashion; pinch seam to seal (do not seal ends of roll). Repeat procedure with remaining dough, 1 tablespoon butter, and filling. Cut each roll into 12 (1-inch) slices (I use dental floss for this.) Place slices, cut sides up, in a 13 x 9–inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

6. Preheat oven to 350°. Uncover dough. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool in pan 5 minutes on a wire rack.

7. To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar and juice, stirring until smooth. Drizzle glaze over warm rolls. Makes 24 rolls

Recipe from Cooking Light, January 2008

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Cook's Illustrated Blueberry Muffins (a.k.a. BEST MUFFINS EVER)

The fact that these muffins come from Cook's Illustrated should tell you two things:
1) These muffins will be amazingly outstandingly awesome.
2) These muffins will have at least three more components or steps, take more time, and dirty more dishes than most muffin recipes.
But they're worth it. And these days I don't say that lightly. I'm tired. I'm busy. Sometimes I'm frustrated. I don't have consecutive hours of time for baking like I used to. So it's got to count.

Here's another thing I don't say lightly: these muffins are perfect. Most likely you'll never see another blueberry muffin recipe on this blog because this is the perfect one. I love them. I love them. I love them. Extra steps and all. (I did rearrange the directions a little to help streamline the process a bit.)Cook's Illustrated Blueberry Muffins
Lemon-Sugar Topping
1/3 cup sugar
2-3 teaspoons finely grated zest from 1 lemon

2 cups (about 10 ounces) fresh blueberries, picked over
1 1/8 cups (8 ounces) plus 1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 cups (12½ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour (if you have a scale weigh it, don't measure it - it's worth it)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk *
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
*If buttermilk is unavailable, substitute 3/4 cup plain whole-milk or low-fat yogurt thinned with 1/4 cup milk.

1. Bring 1 cup blueberries and 1 teaspoon sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries with spoon (I used my potato masher) several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to ¼ cup, about 6 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

3. For the topping: Stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined; set aside.

4. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl.

5. Whisk remaining 1 1/8 cups sugar and eggs together in medium bowl until combined, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla until combined. Using rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and remaining cup blueberries into flour mixture until just moistened. (Batter will be very lumpy with few spots of dry flour; do not over mix.)

6. Use ice cream scoop or large spoon to divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups (batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly).

7. EXTRA STEP ALERT: Spoon teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter. Using small spoon, gently swirl berry filling into batter. Sprinkle lemon sugar evenly over muffins.

8. Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 15 to 19 minutes (don't over bake), rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving. Makes 12 muffins
Recipe from Cook's Illustrated

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Strawberries and Cream Pie

I'm so sad this pie is gone. I could eat it all. And almost did.

This here is the strawberry version of last year's Peaches and Cream Pie and it is just as good. I was lazy (and short on time) so I used a store-bought graham crust. But next time I would make my own (from the Key Lime Pie recipe.) Or you could use a regular pie crust. Whatever you like. Just remember, this recipe makes two pies so have two of whatever. And you need about three boxes of strawberries, half for the puree, half for the slices.

The picture says most of it. So sweet, so strawberry-ish, so creamy. We had this for my half-birthday celebration and it was worthy of the cause. Which is saying something because I really, really love my half-birthday.

Strawberries and Cream Pie
2 frozen (or graham) pie crusts
1 1/2 cups strawberry puree (about 1 1/2 pounds of fresh strawberries)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 cup water
1 small pkg strawberry jello
1 1/2 pounds strawberries, sliced
8 oz. cream cheese (low-fat is OK)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
8 oz. Cool Whip (Lite is OK)

1. Thaw and bake pie crusts according to package directions if necessary. Allow to cool.

2. Boil sugar and strawberry puree, then add cornstarch and water. Cook till thickened and then add jello and stir until dissolved. Put into fridge to cool.

3. Cream together cream cheese and powdered sugar. Add Cool Whip and combine well.

4. Put cream mixture in pie shell, then top with sliced fresh strawberries. Pour syrup over top and refrigerate until set, a few hours. Repeat for second pie.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Coconut Cupcakes with Lime Buttercream Frosting

...and we're back to lime and coconut. They just seem to meet up in so many good ways. I made these cupcakes for a friend who just had a baby. The next day she emailed to say she and her husband played a game of guess-the-ingredients. They wanted to know if Sprite was in there. I had to admit no, but I could see where they got that. The cupcakes are sweet, fresh, and slightly coconutty (next time I might add some coconut extract with the vanilla.) And the frosting is OUT OF THIS WORLD. I wished I had doubled it so I had extra for graham cracker sandwiches. Or to eat with a spoon. Or to just lick off my fingers. If you're looking for a simple but elegant and out-of-the-ordinary dessert, you have just found it.

Now. A word about potato starch, which is an ingredient. I'd never cooked with it before, and I'm not totally sure what it does. It's similar to cornstarch. But I had to get some for the recipe so I called my grocery store to find out if they had it, and where it was. Because who's got time to hunt something like that down? It could be anywhere! The recipe suggested it would be in my baking aisle, but I'm glad I called the store because they said it was in the international aisle, near the British and kosher foods. Looks like this:
Interesting stuff. The two recipes on the back are for sponge cake and raisin sauce (that apparently goes on meat.) As it says on the label, it can be subbed for cornstarch. Which makes me ask why I couldn't have just used cornstarch in the recipe and saved myself the trip and $5. But now I'll never know because I have this big can of potato starch so I'll just use it every time I make these cupcakes. Let me know if you want to borrow some.

Coconut Cupcakes with Lime Buttercream Frosting
Cooking spray
4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup, but really do weigh it if you have a kitchen scale)
3 tablespoons potato starch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 large egg
1 large egg white
2/3 cup fat-free milk
2 tablespoons flaked sweetened coconut
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
4.75 ounces powdered sugar, sifted (about 1 1/3 cups)

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. To prepare cupcakes, place 2 muffin cup liners in each of 12 muffin cups; coat liners with cooking spray.

3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients (through salt) in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.

4. Combine 3/4 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until blended (mixture will be the consistency of damp sand). Add egg and egg white, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to egg mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in coconut and vanilla.

5. Spoon batter evenly into prepared muffin cups. Bake at 350° for 18 minutes or until cupcakes spring back when touched lightly in the center. Cool in pan 2 minutes; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

6. To prepare frosting, combine 3 tablespoons butter and next 3 ingredients (through juice) in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating just until smooth. Spread about 2 1/2 teaspoons frosting onto each cupcake.
Recipe from Cooking Light, May 2009

Friday, August 6, 2010

Pecan-Peach Cobbler

I made this delectableness with fresh peaches the girls and I picked a few weeks ago. I really wanted to make a yummy peach dessert, and after a disastrous peach pie last year (which I did not post), I tried for a cobbler this time. I chose well.

When I say "I" made this cobbler, that's not exactly what I mean. For behold:Ed made the crust. After he came home from the store with the wrong thing (I said refrigerated pie dough, not frozen pie crusts), he said he would just make the crust. Which was fine with me. I don't make pie crusts. I think they're messy, time-consuming, and never taste that good, which makes them unworthy of my effort. So I buy them. Or in this case, have Ed made them. (By the way, if you think you have a truly outstanding pie crust recipe, send it my way. I would love to have a great one; I'm just not sure it exists.)

The crust plays a crucial role in this recipe because you pack sugar and pecans between layers of dough and that goes in the middle, and then on the top of the cobbler. Delish. And don't be shy about getting that middle crust nice and crisp since it will be sandwiched and surrounded by juicy peaches and syrup. And speaking of that syrup. In step 3 we spooned peaches into the dish with less syrup than in step 1 since the pan was getting full. We poured the leftover syrup into a container, refrigerated it, and had it over Double Coconut Pancakes later in the week. Just one more excellent choice we made that week.

Pecan-Peach Cobbler
15 to 18 fresh peaches, peeled and sliced (about 16 cups)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cups sugar2/3 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 (15-oz.) packages refrigerated piecrusts
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
Sweetened whipped cream
1. Preheat oven to 475°. Stir together peaches, flour, nutmeg, and 3 cups sugar in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over medium heat; reduce heat to low, and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Spoon half of mixture into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.

2. Unroll 2 piecrusts. Sprinkle 1/4 cup pecans and 2 Tbsp. sugar over 1 piecrust; top with other piecrust. Roll to a 14- x 10-inch rectangle. Trim sides to fit baking dish. Place pastry over peach mixture in dish.
3. Bake at 475° for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Unroll remaining 2 piecrusts. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp. sugar and remaining 1/4 cup pecans over 1 piecrust; top with remaining piecrust. Roll into a 12-inch circle. Cut into 1-inch strips, using a fluted pastry wheel. Spoon remaining peach mixture over baked pastry. Arrange pastry strips over peach mixture; sprinkle with remaining 1 Tbsp. sugar. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm or cold with whipped cream.Recipe (and last photo) from Southern Living, June 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

Baked Buttermilk Donuts

So a few months ago I gave you baked donuts. Here I am trying another recipe, this time the one that came from Wilton, on the back of the pan. These are also delicious, but with the hint of nutmeg, I recommend sticking with a sugar coating or vanilla/maple glaze. My kids insisted on chocolate, so I did it for them, but it clashed with the nutmeg and did neither of them a favor. However, the ones tossed with cinnamon and powdered sugar knocked my socks off.
Baked Buttermilk Donuts
2 cups cake flour, sifted
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 T butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 425. Spray donut pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together cake flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Add buttermilk, eggs, and butter. Beat until just combined. Spoon batter into a large plastic bag. Snip off the corner and pipe batter into donut pan cavities, filling each about 2/3 full.

3. Bake 7 to 9 minutes or until the top of the donuts springs back when touched. Let cool in pan for 4 to 5 minutes before removing. Finish donuts with glaze, cinnamon sugar or confectioner's sugar. Best served fresh. Makes 12 donuts.

For vanilla or maple glaze, see this post.

Recipe from Donut Pan package by Wilton
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