Blackberry Buttermilk Cake

Its summer and there is nothing that I love more than fresh fruit. I have been working it in to every nook and cranny… mainly breakfast and dessert… these past few months. Remember when I went blueberry pickin’? Well, I was flipping through my July issue of Bon Appetit and I screamed to Bf “It’s my cake! It’s my cake!” Well, it wasn’t actually MY cake but it was so similar to my Lemon Blueberry Buttermilk Cake that I couldn’t believe it. 

Just instead of lemon, there is orange zest and instead of blueberry, there are blackberries. Smart Bon Appetit, smart.

I started about 1 hour before by letting my stick and 1/2 of butter come to room temperature. So important. If you use cold butter, it won’t work.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in the middle of oven.

Once my butter was at room temperature, I greased the whole cake pan… sides… bottom… everything.

Then I laid down a sheet of wax paper that I had pre-cut to fit my cake pan. Parchment paper would be ideal, but I didn’t have it.

Then, I greased the wax paper too. Nothing was sticking to this.

Last piece of prep was flouring the pan and wax paper.

Use your fingers to spread the flour evenly on the bottom of the pan.

Then lay down those fresh blackberries in the bottom of the pan. Remember that you are going to invert the cake once its baked, so the blackberries will be on top.

Sprinkle the blackberries with a small handful of sugar.

Then, mix the flour, baking powder, and baking soda together in a medium bowl. It would be ideal to use a sifter, but since I am not much of a baker, I do not own one. So I just used a whisk and ran it through my bowl for about 1-2 minutes, making sure the dry ingredients were well mixed.

In a large bowl, mix the room-temperature butter and sugar together until smooth. Something about butter and sugar mixed together just makes me want to stick my finger in for a lick.

Add the eags one at a time.

Then add the vanilla. Mix well.

Zest in the orange zest and continue to mix.

I have dreams of having a standing mixer, but just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Also, there is something so nostalgic about a hand mixer. My mother always has, and still does, use this kind of mixer and to me, it just means something good’s comin’.

In 3 batches, mix the dry ingredients with the butter/sugar/eag mixture.

Alternate adding in the buttermilk, but beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

I did it like this:

Dump #1:

Flour then buttermilk

Dump #2

Flour

Dump #3

Buttermilk then flour

Make sense?

As everything is mixing together, make sure to continue scraping the sides.

Blend until smooth and fluffy. This was some of the fluffiest cake mixture I have ever seen.

It was impossible not to stick my finger in for a taste. The subtly of the orange zest was perfection. I probably ate a handful of cake batter throughout the cooking process.

Then, spoon the cake batter over the blackberries.

And bake for 1 hour and 25 minutes… or until the top browns. After removal from oven, let the cake rest for at least  15 minutes until your try to pry it out of its metal fortress a.k.a. cake pan. I have ruined too many a cake this way.

I kind of forgot about my cake then. I was watching True Blood Season Premiere, ok? I mean, who wasn’t? Bf stormed in and asked “Where’s the cake?! Natalie! Where’s the cake?!” I guess that means that he wanted a slice.

So I heaved myself from my couch because there was no way I was letting him cut that cake.

Here is me and my cake, weary eyed and no maked-uped, with my mind filled with the fact that I now hate Bill Compton.

Slices were immediately carved out on Bf’s insistence.

And served with a cooooooooold glass of milk.

When I awoke the next morning, I made sure to sprinkle it with some powered sugar.

I covered up that bad boy for later.

I hate that my mind tells me that if a cake has fruit in it, its ok to eat for breakfast. I think I justify it by saying that it is like a coffee cake. Pitiful.

For a printable version of this recipe, refer to the July issue of Bon Appetit or click here.

Greek Chicken Pizza Rolls

 

You guys remember pizza rolls right?

Oh man. My mom was a pretty healthy cook and these were just the types of things that she would deny my brother and sisters… and myself. Along with Cookie Crunch cereal. So unfair.

Well, jokes on you Mom! I made my own. I was online and saw Iowa Girl making these this week and I just had to try it out. I would have never thought to use egg roll wrappers! So smart. And they did taste just  like pizza rolls.

You can find egg roll wrappers in most grocery stores. I found mine at the Buford Highway Farmer’s Market in the Frozen Chinese section.

I started by cooking some chicken in a pan with some spices (Garlic Salt, Oregano, and Basil).

I laid out my egg roll wrappers (1 wrapper thick).

Then the best part… What was I going to PUT IT these suckers? You could put in anything you want: Buffalo Chicken and Ranch, Pepperoni Pizza, even like Ham & Cheese. The possibilities are endless! So I kept going with my Greek theme and used kalamata olives, fresh mozzarella, feta, and spinach.

Oh, and don’t forget the pizza sauce.

I mixed all of the ingredients together in a bowl to make the filling.

Then added in the pizza sauce for the glue.

I mixed all of the ingredients together and made sure that everything was evenly covered in sauce.

Then, I put my chicken slices in the center of the egg roll wrapper and dolloped the pizza roll filling on top.

I added plenty to my pizza roll to make a MEGA PIZZA ROLL. Just what I wanted. I was starved.

Then, its time to get rollin’. First, using your fingers or a pastry brush wet the edges of the egg roll wrapper.

 

Then, fold the edge over toward the opposite edge.

Next, fold the other 2 sides in toward each other. This fold will keep the filling in.

Fold up the last side and there you have it!

Spray the baking sheet (I know I know… mine is HIDEOUS… I am mortified… and I was out of tin foil) with PAM or lightly brush with Canola Oil. Spray the tops of the pizza rolls as well. This will help them brown. 

Bake in the oven at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, flipping 1/2 way through and re-spraying the rolls.

 

Then, TA DA! Don’t they look liked juiced up pizza rolls?

That’s good for me because there is something about small finger foods that I just can’t quit. I can eat so many that I make myself sick. These were so big that 2 was plenty for me for dinner.

Yum, so crispy. When I cut it open, there was that familiar homemade pizza taste that I love so much.

I love olives in my pizza. They are like a nice little salty surprise wrapped up in cheese and pizza sauce.

These puppies are so easy that you have to try them. You can use as many, or as few, ingredients as you want. Who doesn’t love a meal that only takes 20 minutes? Not me.

For a printable version of this recipe, click here.

 

The Vertigo Hall

If you can remember waaaaaaay back to… oh, what month is it? Dang teacher’s brain…. May? I wrote out a list of things that I was going to  accomplish this summer. HAHAHA… boy, do I laugh at myself now. All the time I thought I would have… poof! Gone! Just like that. It flies by like you wouldn’t believe.

Let’s review the list, shall we? I have updated the list, marked the few off that I have accomplished, and made remarks besides the ones that I must have been simply crazy to consider.

Oooo. When I look at the one about the Man Room and the Laundry System… I just laugh. LAUNDRY SYSTEM.  Lawd, I need to get real.

But you may have noticed that I did mark off Striping the Hallway. After 1 full year of my hallway being partially finished, I finally finished it.

I woke up on a beautiful sunny summer day, with zero intent to paint the hallway that day, and it hit me. Today, I will paint.  So I did.

Before I got started, I would definitely need some snacks. What if I got hungry?

I also had to blare the tiny T.V. What if I got bored?

Then, I got started. I had to measure the entire hallway a couple dozen times to get my lines where I wanted them. I used a yard stick and a pencil to make temporary marks, so that I would know where my tape would go. It probably took about an hour. Then I placed my tape, in 12 inch thickness, all along the hallway.

At 5 feet 3 inches, It got kind of annoying towards the top, so I had to use a stool. This is one of those times when I am jealous of tall people. Well, when I am painting and when I see them walking with those loooong legs. Lucky… mine are like nubs.

Anyhoo… laying the tape probably took about an hour as well. But, I had my snack and  my SATC, so I was good to go .

I am not the neatest painter. There was paint all over my legs, arms, and hair… but I was getting the job done.

Hello nubs.


The actual painting part was the quickest part of it all. It probably took a total of 2o minutes to get everything covered.

I used the same color for the darker stripes that I used on my Big Mama Wall oh so many months ago. The color is a lovely Dolphin Fin that I have just fallen in love with.

Then I pulled the tape off and voila! Complete!

I am not sure what was more satisfying. The actual completion of the project? Or marking it off the list? Either way. Satisfaction earned.

Until BF walked in and said he felt like he had vertigo. Boys.

There are a few more things on my list that I have completed… and of course a few more things that were not on the list that managed to squeeze their way in.

Am I the only one with a severe case of Summer Brain?

Prosciutto and Genoa Panzanella

If you live in or around Atlanta, you should go check out Indigo in Historic Roswell. My pals Andrew and Thao  are regulars at this neighborhood haunt, so by default, I end up going there a lot. They recently changed their menu to include a fabulous bread salad, a.k.a Panzanella, and from the moment my eyes saw it, I knew that I would love it. I have ordered it a number of times and it never fails to disappoint.

But I can’t always make it up to Roswell for my salad, I mean I would, but let’s face it… I’d be big as a house/broke/dog tired. So I got to thinking… I think I can I think I can I think I can recreate this deliciousness in my own home. I researched types of bread salads for hours… what goes in them? What kind of dressing do they usually have? How much bread? And on and on and on. I found out that a Panzanella is a salad of bread and tomatoes popular in the summer. It includes chunks of soaked stale bread and tomatoes, sometimes also onions and basil, dressed with olive oil and vinegar. It is also popular in other parts of central Italy. Good to know.

Then I started thinking back about what was in the salad from Indigo. I came up with:

Proscuitto

Genoa Salami

Roma Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes

Spinach

A little Romaine

Cubed French Bread

Basil Dressing

For the Basil Dressing I came up with:

Basil

Pepper and Salt

Olive Oil

Mayo

Balsamic Vinegar

Parmesan Cheese

Shallot

The first thing that I did was get the dressing going. The dressing has the flavor of basil, without being overwhelming. The trick was getting it not too thick, not too runny.

I started by adding 1 loosely packed cup of basil, one shallot, and about 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.

 

Then I added in 2 tablespoons of mayo and some salt ‘n peppa.

 

I grated in a little parmesan cheese and hit the “on” button on my food processor. While the food processor ran, I added in roughly 5 tablespoons of Olive Oil.

 

Then I transferred the dressing to a bowl and popped it in the fridge til it was ready to go on my Panzanella.

 

While my dressing was getting to know itself in the icebox, I got to work on my pieces of bread. The thing about the bread in this salad is that it is not supposed to be “Crouton-like.” You know, hard… crunchy… may hurt the top of your mouth when you bit down? These pieces of bread are supposed to have the texture of stale bread… or lightly toasted bread if you want to think of it that way.

Start by preheating your oven to about 350. Then, cube the bread and drizzle it with a little bit of Olive Oil.

Sprinkle the bread cubes with garlic salt and pop into the oven until lightly toasted. I’m talking so lightly toasted that there isn’t any browning going on.

While the bread was LIGHTLY TOASTING,  it was time to get the yummy super-fresh ingredients together. The first thing that I did was run out to my garden and pluck some fresh cherry tomatoes. Mmm… nothing like tomatoes fresh from the yard. This is one of my favorite things about summer… free tomatoes.

I gave those a slice.

Then sliced up some Roma Tomatoes as well. Roma tomatoes are my favorite. They are the perfect size and you can use them for just about anything.

I got my bed of greens down in a largish bowl (still appropriate for eating out of of course… not like a horse trough or anything).

Then I started playing more of a guessing game… I was thinking… how much salami? How much Prosciutto? How much cheese? And on and on and on. So, I just went with it and used about 3 slices of salami and cubed it.

 

Then I added it to my (blurry) bed of salad greens and tomatoes. Did I say to add your tomatoes to this yet? Well… add your tomatoes to the bed of greens.

There. Ha.

Then rip of a couple (2-3) slices of prosciutto and add that to the bowl-that-is-getting-fuller-by-the-second.

Shave up some slices of parmesan cheese and add them to the salad.

Then sprinkle the lightly toasted bread on top of the salad. I put a fair amount. I hate to say “a lot” because then you may judge me… so I will say a “fair amount.” Please be kind.

Yum. Let me tell you that after constructing this beast, I realized that it came out about 3 times bigger than the one at Indigo. Whatever. I ate it. It was gud.

A salad with chunks of bread?! I have died and gone to heaven.

Then, I dolloped some of the basil dressing that I made earlier on top.

Before you look at the next picture, let me warn you. I was STARVING (not literally but you get what I’m sayin’). I couldn’t take the torture one more second. So it’s messy. I didn’t even try to make it look appetizing. I’m ashamed.

But who cares when it was as good as it… was.

The salad was so fresh with the combination of summer tomatoes, basil, lightly toasted bread, and spinach. Then the prosciutto and genoa salami were there to give you some salty… meaty flavor.

I’m gonna tell you… this is the best… THE BEST I SAY… salad I have ever made. O.M.G. Its not just like Indigo’s, but it will do. And it was still dream-about-it good.

The basil dressing was good just to dip bread in as well.

Where have I been while the Panzanella train has been choo chooing around? No idea. Anyone else make bread salads? Have any good recipes?

For the Full Recipe Version Click here. To print this recipe click here.

Oven Baked Teriyaki Chicken

I love summer. You know this. I love to grill outside… you probably know this too. But there are some days when I just want to sit on the couch and drink a glass of wine while my oven cooks my dinner. Some days I do not want to babysit my recipe, I just want the timer to ting and for my meal to be ready. Oven baked Teriyaki Chicken was the perfect choice for an easy dinner night. The great thing is that if you want to be more active about your dinner, you could definitely throw this on the grill as well.
Here is what you need:
Ingredients: (serves 2-3 servings)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 to 3 Chicken Breasts
Start by preheating your oven to 425 degrees.

I got all of my ingredients together so that it would be easy to dump ‘em in and dine on ‘em in a few. When the oven is preheated to 425, place the chicken on an oven proof baking pan for about 15-18 minutes. Flip chicken and cook on the other side for 15-18 minutes.

Start by adding all of the ingredients to the saucepan (besides the chicken). First comes the soy sauce…

Second, comes the brown sugar…

Third, comes the rice vinegar…

Fourth, comes the water…

Fifth, comes the corn starch…

Sixth, comes the garlic…

Seventh, comes the…. oh, that’s it. Eh hum. Whisk the ingredients together until they comes to a low boil.

Be careful not to let the sauce boil for too long. The soy sauce will reduce too much making it too salty. Once the sauce has come to a low boil, pour 1/2 the sauce over the chicken.

Brush the teriyaki sauce over the chicken to make sure that it is well covered.

Place the chicken in the oven for 15-18 minutes. After the time is up, pull the chicken from the oven, flip it over to the other side  and pour the other 1/2 of the sauce over the chicken. Cook the chicken for another 15-18 minutes. My suggestion is to spoon the sauce in the bottom of the pan over the chicken at half time. The sauce will have become a little thicker and will stay on the chicken better. Do the same thing when you pull the chicken out at the end. It just makes the chicken saucier. When the chicken has fully cooked and the juices run clear… serve it up!

I scraped up the sauce from the bottom of the pan and served it over my chicken. It was a tangy, sweet, salty, deliciousness of a meal that I thoroughly enjoyed… from my sofa.

This would be great on the grill as well. I will try it that way next time.

Yum. Served up with a side of black-eyed peas… I couldn’t have been happier with my easy, home cooked meal, my wine, and my remote control.

I am getting that settled into summer feeling. I have stopped forcing my self to be outside every second, and have been home long enough to have fallen into a “relaxing routine.” And, hey, I like it.

Print this recipe by clicking here

What I am Pinterested In

Does anyone out there do Pinterest? You may say “HUH!?” or you may say “OH YEAH!” But either way, I spent a large portion of my day (now I am ashamed) pinning my interests.

You can request an invite from Pinterest and once they get back to you with a confirmation link you can start pinning.

There is an endless amount of types of things you can pin. Here are a few of my boards:

#1 FOOD (duh)

I looked through a ton of food photos and pinned the ones that I would like to make. I can look on my Food Board to get me motivated/make my stomach growl.

#2 STYLE

Maybe this will motivate me to take off the ripped jean shorts and tank top and actually get dressed this summer. Also, can you tell that I like buns? Jeez.

#3 HOME AND DECOR

I love the idea of sticking all the decoration pictures I like in one place. I often get ideas and then forget about them or lose the motivation to do it. Seeing  it, may help me get projects going. I said MAY help me.

#4 MUSHY STUFF

Yep, puppies and babies. Nothing gets me going like puppies and babies. It just gets better when you MIX puppies and babies… or when you have puppies AS babies… OR babies AS puppies…. ah… endless combinations.

Seriously, is it just me that turns to mush? This whole Brady having a baby thing has ruined me, I think.

If you are on Pinterest already, come find me…. click here.

Happy Pinning!

Thao’s Coq Au Vin

Coq Au Vin…. I have made it before (you can see it here), but I made it again. My best friend, Thao, loves Coq Au Vin. She begged me to make it for her all the time, but I was afraid that my recipe wouldn’t stand up to the Coq Au Vin she knows and loves. Her favorite restaurant had just quit serving Coq Au Vin and it was near her birthday… so, I gave it a whirl.

What was the worst that could happen? She would hate it and I would cry. 

But, she didn’t cry. She ate. And ate and ate and ate. Maybe that was me that did all the eating… either way someone ate.

There was quite a difference in my first and second try:

  

The first photo was taken months ago when I made it for Bf and I. The second photo is the delicious dish, Thao’s Coq Au Vin.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 bone-in chicken breasts (about 12 ounces each), skin removed, trimmed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 ounces mushrooms, quartered (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3 large carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon  dried rosemary
  • 1 14-ounce can chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)
Start by cutting the chicken breast into pieces. I ended up cutting them completely off the bone, but if you had a meal cleaver, you could snap the bones with that.
Then sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper.

Dredge the chicken in flour. Also, make a reserve of 2 tablespoons flour and 1/4  a cup of water. Its for later… for the sauce.

See. There it is. I feel like I kind of did a hack-job of a job with my chicken.

Brown the chicken in oil. The chicken does not need to cook all the way through because it will finish cooking in the sauce. I suggest browning the chicken for about 5 to 7 minutes.

Flip the chicken over and brown the other side.

Remove the chicken to a place. It’ll wait right there for ya.

Then you are going to add the remaining oil to the pan. Add the carrots! Add the mushrooms! Add the mushrooms again! Add the onions! Let the vegetables cook until they begin to soften… about 5 minutes.

 

 

Once the vegetables have begun to brown (i.e. 5 minutes later), add in the chicken broth.

 

Add in the wine and the tomato paste as well. I swear, before I started writing down my recipes, I never realized how many recipes there are that include tomato paste. Hmm… or maybe I cook a lot of alike dishes. Whatever. Thanks Tomato Paste.

 

Add in the last of the salt and peppa. Bring sauce to a simmer people.

Add the chicken back into the pot of simmering sauce.

Cover the pot and let the Coq Au Vin cook for the next 20 minutes. This is a great time to cook noodles if you want to. I wanted to. So I did. I used large Egg Noodles and they were perfect in this dish. After the 20 minutes is up, you can go ahead and plate the chicken.

Crank up the heat (to about medium high/high) and add the flour/water mixture that you made earlier (it may need another whisk or 2 before you pour it in).

Let the sauce boil to thicken. Stir it a few times.

Then, when your sauce looks ready, ladle it over the chicken.

OMG yum that looks good!

I love the carrots in this dish. They not only add color, but they also add a little bite. This is so freakin’ good.

Well, I hope that I made Thao proud with her own Coq Au Vin recipe. I have to say, that it blew mine out of the water. This will be my go-to Coq Au Vin dish from now on. Give it a try, its worth it!

Try out the new feature that I have incorporated into my recipe blogs… Printable Recipes! Hallelujah! Just click the link below and you will be transferred to a page with just the recipe. Click the print button and you are ready to go. Thanks for reading!

PRINT THIS RECIPE!!!!

How There Was One More Father on Father’s Day

I was going to be a good daughter and go home and see my father for Father’s day. I spent the evening baking cakes. I baked one of  my famous Blueberry Lemon Buttermilk Cakes for my father and one for me (I mean, the ingredients were already out). But… my father never got the cake I baked him. Something happened. Something big.

This happened:

Whoops… well this isn’t the monumental moment that I was talking about. But, when on earth do 3 sisters play air-guitar during a last minute trip to Charleston?

When their brother has a baby, of course.

Yep, that’s my brother. That’s the same guy that drug me down the stairs by my hair, hid under my bed to scare me, and made ruthless fun of me most of my adolescent (and part of my adult) life as well. And now he has a baby.  I am beyond words. Not only do I feel like I am in an episode of the Twilight Zone, but also that I am floating on a cloud because I can not believe something exists so precious in the world. I feel like my insides are made of pudding and I will try my darndest to stop being so mushy.

Well, my brother wasn’t the only person to have a baby. This little lady played an enormous role too.


That is my beautiful sister-in-law that barely lifted her head during an extensive bed rest, all to preserve her little baby. And boy, did she do a great job.

My entire family was like an annoyingly loud bunch of schoolgirls wandering the halls of MUSC in Charleston. We clammered on and on about the baby, laughing crying, joking, and generally annoying every family around us. We were ecstatic.

All of this hoopla was for this little nugget that will surely be smothered with love by his aunt.

And aunt. 

And aunt.

And grandmother.

And me, again.

I am in love… along with the rest of my family. He is the first grandchild in my family and I don’t know if the novelty ever wears off. Baby Rob brought our family together not just in geography. I was so lucky to get to go and spend time with my family and hug my father on Father’s Day as he became a Pops. I was so lucky to get to hug my brother on his first Father’s Day as he became a father. I am was also, more lucky, to get to hold this baby boy in his first hours of life.

Now, I know that each and every baby is beautiful, but Rob, you take the Lemon Blueberry Buttermilk cake. Seriously, has there ever been something this cute on the earth before ever?!?!

And that’s how there was one more father on Father’s Day this year. Congratulations to my grown-up brother and his wonderful wife.

Funny Foto Friday

I stole this from John’s mom. Hopefully she won’t care (Hi Kat!). She is the mastermind behind Oinky. She also has a pig. His name is Mr. Thelma. Yes, his name is Thelma. Poor Thelma.

Mr. Thelma has a problem. He just keeps getting bigger. This photo made me realize that even his forehead is gaining weight. I feel your pain Thelma… I really do.

Greetings Earthlings

Hehe. Check out his foot at the lower right hand part of the picture. It looks like it is about to give under all that weight.

Poor Thelma… I feel your pain.

EEEEEK! SNAKE!!!

Well, that’s what I do when I see a snake. So yesterday, when I saw one… naturally… I said “EEEEEK! SNAKE!!!”

My hands were shaking while I reached into my purse to get my phone. Would it attack me? Do I run straight or in zig-zags? Where is it’s rattle? How far away is the hospital?

All of these thoughts were streaming into my head, while Bf did this:

(Ignore my voice… I didn’t try to make it sound nice because I hadn’t planned on sharing it…stupid twang.)

Um… who said “He bite?” and “He sick?” Geez, I sure know how to make myself sound completely uneducated.

Then, the worst happened. Bf asked to keep him. I promptly said “No.” So, he did this:

That’s my backyard (Hey Backyard!). I just kept repeating “No no no no no no no no no .” Why are you in the backyard? Go back to the street where you belong, Mr. Snake!

That’s my shed (Hey Shed!). John gingerly placed the wild snake into our shed for his “new home.” He is supposed to “kill rodents” but all that this means to me is that I am never going back into the shed ever again.

At least that’s what I thought. Of course, today I needed to go to the shed to get painter’s tape. I wore knee high rain boots and a weary face as I entered the shed, filled with panic. I walked in, took one look at the place, and turned right back around. Lowe’s isn’t that far away anyway.