Sunday, January 27, 2013

Blueberry Cream Cheese Danish

A few weeks ago, a friend brought some delicious blueberry Danishes in to work.  I had already eaten breakfast that morning and really did not want anything else but hey, who can turn down fresh Danish?!  Certainly not me.

One bite and I was hooked.  "Did you make these?" I asked.  "Yes, they are soo easy!" was her reply.

After a little Pinterest research, I quickly found a recipe which looked very much like the version I tasted.  You can find it here.  I pinned it and made a few notes to myself about how I would tailor it to my own tastes.  Here is the delicious result.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Danish

1 package refrigerated crescent rolls
4 ounces of softened cream cheese
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon citrus zest (I used mandarin but orange or lemon would be lovely too)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen and thawed)

Heat oven to 375F.  Open the rolls and place them onto a baking stone or sheet as rectangles, pressing the perforations together to reinforce.

Using a hand mixer, blend the cream cheese, sugar, zest and vanilla together until smooth and well combined.

Divide evenly among the four rectangles and smooth out, leaving a thin clean border around the edges.

Top each rectangle evenly with the blueberries.  Bring the corners of the dough together at center, pinching slightly to hold. 

Bake 13 to 15 minutes, until golden.  Allow to cool a bit before serving.  These little bundles are a  delicious way to begin the morning.  Do something nice for yourself and your family by making these soon!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Downton Abbey with Sticky Toffee Pudding

Keeping with our new tradition of enjoying an English dish while viewing our new favorite English program, I made Sticky Toffee Pudding!  Let's just say, I am surely going to gain serious weight.

Here's how it went down...

Sticky Toffee Pudding (inspired by bon appetit)


"Pudding" - which is really just a moist cake
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 1/2 cups pitted dates, chopped
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon whiskey
2 large eggs

Toffee Sauce
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon whiskey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vanilla ice cream


Preheat oven to 350F.  Butter and flour a bundt pan.  Chop dates then add to 1 1/4 cups water in a tall saucepan.   Bring to a boil, remove from heat, then stir in the baking soda.  The mixture will foam. Set aside and allow to cool.  Run a handheld mixer through the dates to break them up a bit. 

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl.  In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, and vanilla with a mixer.  Add eggs, one at a time, blending until light in color.  Add half of the flour mixture and half of the date mixture; beat to blend. Repeat with remaining flour and date mixtures.  Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until a tester inserted into the pudding comes out clean.  Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes, then invert onto a plate. Cover and let stand at room temperature.

For the sauce, bring sugar, cream, and butter to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring constantly. Continue to boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat then add the whiskey and vanilla.

 Cut cake and drizzle with the sauce.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy immediately.

***The pudding and sauce can both be made in advance but rewarm before serving***

Meatloaf Cupcakes?

I have seen the idea of creating faux cupcakes in the media for a long time now.  So, it wasn't a big deal when I suggested my husband make meatloaf cupcakes for dinner one night while I was traveling to a conference.  We figured this might encourage our newly picky three-year-old to eat her dinner. 

While it didn't exactly motivate her to move fork to mouth, it did cause her to smile.  She picked at her food a bit more than usual which was definitely a plus.  My visiting mother, along with the rest of the family, loved it!  We will try this again.

So, meatloaf cupcakes?  You can use whatever meatloaf recipe you happen to love.  Mix up a batch then distribute evenly across a muffin tin.  Be sure to spray the cups with cooking spray.  Cook according to directions. 

Prepare a batch of mashed potatoes and cook some peas while waiting for the meatloaf.  When everything is ready, the plating fun begins!  You could pipe the mashed potatoes onto the "cupcakes" so it looks more like "frosting" but we were a bit impatient and just added a glop on top.  Then, add the pea "sprinkles."  An absolutely adorable dish!

My favorite meatloaf recipe is Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf with Brown Sugar Ketchup Glaze from Cook's Illustrated but my husband used this recipe from Betty Crocker.  It was pretty great too!


Monday, January 14, 2013

Crawleys and Scones

Oh, Downton Abbey!  You do not disappoint.  You bring it each and every week.  Last night we attended another wedding... with a bit different ending.  Poor Lady Edith!

My favorite lines this evening came from Granny, Violet Crawley... of course!

Retrieved from

   To her son...
             I want the pleasure of saying 'I told you so...'

   When she entered the church, she mentions to Travis...
            He looks as if he's waiting for a beating from the headmaster...

   And my absolute favorite...

            Sybil, vulgarity is no substitute for wit.

Now, we did not merely watch the show, to continue with our new Downton Abbey Season 3 viewing party tradition, I decided to make scones to enjoy with tea.  The hubs and I thoroughly enjoyed the shortbread last week so we needed a new British treat.  After a little research, and tweaking, White Chocolate Cranberry Scones were prepped and in our oven in no time!

WARNING...  these scones are DIVINE!!!
The hubs and I each ate 3.

White Chocolate Cranberry Scones


2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, diced and very cold
3/4 cup coarsely chopped sweetened dried cranberries
3/4 cup coarsely chopped white chocolate
2/3 cup cold buttermilk (or substitute with whole milk/ half and half/ or heavy cream with about 2/3 of a tablespoon of white vinegar added and left to sit for 5 minutes)
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Additional milk and sugar for top (optional)


Preheat oven to 400F.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.  Using a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbles.  Coarsely chop cranberries and white chocolate then add to the dry ingredients. 

In another bowl, combine buttermilk, egg yolk and vanilla.  Blend together.  Add the liquid into the dry, mixing with a fork until moist clumps are formed.

Bring dough together into a ball and press together on a lightly floured surface until it is about 3/4 inch thick.  Either use a cutter and cut out scones into any desired shape or a knife to cut into 12 wedges for a more traditional scone.  Space scones out on a parchment lined baking sheet or baking stone.  If the dough has been handled quite a bit with hands, chill the scones in the freezer for 5 minutes to get the butter nice and cold.  Brush scones lightly with milk and sprinkle with a little extra sugar. 

Bake about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Serve immediately or cool completely and store in an air tight container.

**Dough may be prepared in advance.  Mix, cut out, place on baking sheet, cover, and place into refrigerator.  Increase baking time by 5+ minutes.**


Sunday, January 06, 2013

Downton Abbey Season 3 Premiere!

 I.... CAN'T.... HARDLY.... WAIT.....

My husband and I have been counting down the days until the third season of Downton Abbey premieres on PBS (A perk of having a husband who majored in English Literature in college!).  Oh, how we have come to love the Crawley family... and those amazing folks who live downstairs.  We especially love the gorgeous imagery.  What a feast for the eyes!  Who is your favorite character?  I can't decide between Violet Crawley, Anna Bates, Carson, Sybil, Mrs. Patmore... I love them all!  Well, except for Thomas and O'Brien... blech!

How did we choose to celebrate the first episode?  With homemade shortbread and Harney and Sons Tea, of course!!

Mmmm.....  Now THIS is living!  (Ha!)


2 cups butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325F.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Add flour and continue to mix until well blended.  Bring soft dough together into 2 to 4 balls.  Sprinkle a board lightly with flour and roll a ball out until about 1/2 inch thick.  Using a pizza cutter, cut into strips (3"x1").  Prick cookies with a fork and place onto a baking stone or ungreased baking sheet.  Bake 25 minutes, or until lightly browned, like a biscuit.

Now let's hope Thomas and O'Brien get the boot and Mr. Bates gets out of prison!

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Ritz Cracker Candy

While in grad school, I discovered Ritz Cracker candy.  I believe the introduction came through a Midwestern colleague... they seemed to always have the hook-ups on things like this.  One taste, and I was sold!  How could something soo tasty be soo easy?!

January is usually the time folks stop consuming the treats and start eating a little better but these are soo worth putting this tradition aside... at least for a little while.

Ritz Cracker Candy

You will need:
1 box Ritz Crackers
1 package chocolate Almond Bark (could also use Ghirardelli chocolate for a more upscale treat)
1 jar peanut butter of your choice (can also use almond butter or Nutella)

1.  Open the crackers and begin weeding out any that are broken.  They can be a snack.  Apply peanut butter to half of the whole crackers then use the other half to create little sandwiches.  Be generous with the peanut butter!  I tend to only do 1 1/2 sleeves at a time with just 1/2 of the bark.  This is my way of maintaining control since these things are like Lay's potato chips... No one can eat just one!

2.  Melt 1/2 of the Almond Bark in the microwave.  Begin at 60 seconds, stir, then continue with 30 second intervals.  Continue until the candy is smooth.

3.  Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.  One at a time, drop sandwiches into the melted candy.  Using a fork, turn the sandwich around until it is coated on top, bottom and all the way around.  Lift from the candy with a fork and tap off excess candy, allowing it to drizzle back into the bowl.  Use a knife or another fork to slide the coated sandwich onto the baking sheet.  Continue until all sandwiches are dipped.

If there is extra candy, make more sandwiches OR dip plain crackers.  You can also let the kiddos lick the bowl!

4.  Place the coated sandwiches in a cool area to set.  Once firm, enjoy!

Variation:  You can use graham crackers with marshmallow fluff to make a s'more style treat!

Ritz Cracker candy makes a great gift when presented in a pretty tin or decorative Chinese food container adorned with a beautiful ribbon.  They can also be delicious party favors when packaged in a cellophane bag with a little tag!  Since the possibilities are endless, you simply MUST give these humble little treats a try!