Monday, August 19, 2013

Blueberry Fritters

Doughnuts, fritters, fried-anything-----they're always a big treat around here.   We just don't fry stuff.   Ya know, making smart food choices when we can, and all that.  (Ignore the fact that this blog is desserts only---oops.)   When I offered to whip up a batch of blueberry fritters last week for my kids for breakfast, I got lots of cheers and hollers of joy!   (Later that same day, I believe, I got a round of Boooo's for the closet-cleaning project I launched them into.  Ha.)

First of all, I apologize for the poor quality of these pictures.  It was  rainy day, and I just didn't have much natural light in my kitchen that morning.

So, the blueberries are fresh, hand-picked by my kiddos and me at an adorable pick-your-own blueberry patch in Holland, Michigan.  What  great time we had!   We picked almost 7 pounds of beautiful berries, and now I sure do wish we'd gotten double that.

The fritters are light and fluffy and have a sweet vanilla glaze.  Mmmm Hmmm.  Step aside, Dunkin Donuts!

I made a few without blueberries for my one child who does not like blueberries quite as much.  (gasp!)  Or at least she did not like them that particular day.   It's the right of any 8 year old girl to change her mind with the wind, is it not?

We all enjoyed these little balls of blueberry joy!  Try making them for your family soon!   You can easily use frozen blueberries.  The little wild ones (Wyman's brand is what I keep on hand in my freezer) would be perfect.  Just thaw in the microwave and drain, then fold into the batter.

Here's the recipe!  (I found it on It's actually a doughnut recipe that I modified somewhat.) Enjoy!

Blueberry Fritters
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2/3 cup milk
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (or thawed, drained, frozen blueberries)
canola oil for frying
Heat 2-3 inches of oil in a heavy-bottomed pot, bringing it to 375 degrees.  Use a thermometer while frying to insure proper temperature of oil!  
In a large mixing bowl, combing flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  In another bowl, whisk together egg, melted butter, milk, and vanilla.  Pour into dry ingredients and stir together.  Gently fold in blueberries.
  Line a dinner plate with several paper towels.   Place paper towels beneath a wire rack.  Check oil temperature.
Using a tablespoon or a small cookie scoop, drop batter into hot oil.  Do not crowd the pot!  Fry until bottom is golden brown, then flip gently.  Once golden brown on both sides, remove fritter with a slotted spoon to the paper-towel lined plate.  Let sit for 15 seconds or so, flip over, and let sit for another 15 seconds.  Then remove to the wire rack to cool.  Repeat until all the fritters have been fried.

Prepare a simple vanilla glaze with powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk.   Dip each fritter into the glaze, then place back on the wire rack to set the glaze.    Enjoy!

Shooting Stars Cake

*~* ~*  Happy 13th Birthday Lexi!!   *~*~*

Blueberry Oat Bars

The kids and I went blueberry picking last week and brought home nearly 7 pounds of beautiful blueberries!!   I had planned to freeze half of them to use this fall and winter when we were craving fresh summer fruits, but alas, we gobbled all 7 pounds up, and none made it to the freezer.   What we didn't eat straight from the colander, I baked.

What did I make?  Blueberry Muffin Bread, Blueberry Fritters (recipe to be posted soon), and these......

Blueberry Oat Bars.   I've made similar recipes, but this one was new to me, found with a quick internet search.  They're apparently a Starbuck Copycat recipe, which I found here.   I made few changes other than doubling the recipe and baking in an 11 x 15 inch jelly roll pan.  I also used the blueberry filling directly from the stovetop, rather than allowing it to cool.  (Yes, I'm impatient!)

Ohhhh, these are delicious!!   You begin by making a crumbly oat crust with butter, flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, and baking soda.  I imagine finely chopped pecans or walnuts would work nicely in the crust as well.   A little of the crumb mixture is set aside for the topping, and the rest is pressed into a prepared baking pan and par-baked.

On the stovetop, fresh blueberries are mixed with a little bit of orange, sugar, and corn starch, and are cooked until thick and bubbly.   Some of the berries burst and release their juices, making such a beautiful topping for the baking crust!   (See the steamy berries??   I was too impatient to allow the filling to cool, and I saw no benefit.)

The remaining crumb mixture is sprinkled over the blueberry topping, and then the bars are baked again until golden and beautiful.

It's so hard to resist cutting into these, but it's worth the way.  The bars will be far easier to cut once cooled completely.   Oh my.  So delicious!   Enjoy the recipe!

Blueberry Oat Bars

2 cups oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup butter, softened
3 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup orange juice
4 teaspoons cornstarch
Filling: In saucepan, bring blueberries, sugar and orange juice to boil; reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Whisk in cornstarch and boil, stirring, until thickened, about 1 minute. Set aside.
Crust/Topping: In a large bowl, stir together the oats, flour, brown sugar, salt and baking soda. Cut in the butter to form a crumbly mixture. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the crumbs, and pat the rest evenly into the bottom of a greased 9 x 13 inch pan.
Spread the blueberry mixture over the base. Crumble the reserved amount of the base/topping over the blueberry mixture. Bake at 350 degrees F until light golden, about 40-45 minutes. Let cool completely on rack as these cut better when they are fully set.

Friday, August 2, 2013

1st Birthday Cake with Butterflies

I love the flittering butterflies!   What a beautiful cake for a 1 year old princess!

Avengers Cake

A cake fit for three young super heroes!  Their names are around the sides of the cake.

Turtle Brownies

A picture is worth 1000 words.......

.......but I'll give you a few.    Gooey caramel.  Melted chocolate chips.  Crunchy pecans.   Warm brownie.

Are those enough words to get your mouths watering??  Here's the recipe, given to me years ago from my friend Suzie in Virginia.  

Turtle Brownies
1 package German chocolate cake mix
1 package (11 oz) soft caramels, unwrapped
2/3 cup evaporated milk, divided
3/4 cup melted butter
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 inch square baking pan. 

In a small saucepot, melt together the caramels and 1/3 cup of evaporated milk over medium low heat, stirring until caramels are melted and smooth.  Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together cake mix, melted butter, and remaining 1/3 cup evaporated milk.  Divide in half, and press half into the bottom of your prepared baking pan.  Bake for 6 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips and pecans.  Drizzle caramel over the nuts and chips.  Flatten pieces of remaining dough with your fingers and place over caramel, covering as much of the caramel as you can.  Return to the oven and bake for an additional 16 to 17 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack.  Cut into small squares.  Serve while still warm, with a big glass of milk.   Yield:  25 of the best brownies you'll ever have!

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Who doesn't love a soft and chewy pretzel, warm, dipped in cheese or spicy mustard?  Anyone??

I've been wanting to try my hand at soft pretzels for a while now, and this week I gave it a whirl.  My first attempt was a success!!

I got the kids involved, too.  I gave them each a portion of dough, and then demonstrated how to roll and shape traditional pretzels.  My 12 year old daughter, who loves to bake with me, got creative and made some itty bitty pretzels.  My 10 year old son cut his into pretzel bites.  We all had a blast playing with the dough and making fun shapes!

The kids were fascinated by the process of boiling the shaped dough, then baking.  I explained that this two-step process is what gives the pretzels their chewy-on-the-inside texture.

We couldn't wait to rip apart those first few pretzels and taste!  In fact, I made a quick vanilla glaze for us to dip the pretzel bites and pretzel minis, and we had them for dessert after supper.  SO good!

The next day, this is what we had for lunch.  Oh yeah.

Here's Alton Brown's recipe, taken from the Food Network website!

Homemade Soft Pretzels

1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt  (I used coarse sea salt)

Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.
Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.