Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

My mom has the best oatmeal muffin recipe. It is in our church cookbook (which is still available for sale (hint!). In this day and age of Pinterest, do people still buy cookbooks? I was looking through a new one today with a friend, and the cookbook she was given has a photo on every page. I confess I am a visual junkie because to me that is more appealing!

I am thinking about feature more recipes from our cookbook. It is not a typical Mennonite-cooking cookbook. Some of it is but it is a compilation Continue reading “Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins”

Cranberry Cheesecake Bars

I don’t feel about craisins (dried cranberries) like I do about raisins:

otter-raisins

 

This meme totally cracks me up!!! Everytime I see it I have to snicker. I have a brother who makes this kind of face when he’s describing facebook, bagpipes and okra.

It’s not that I really hate raisins, they’re just not chocolate chips, right? Anyhow, this recipe is about craisins but could also be about chocolate chips. In a different version, that is.

cranberry-cheesecake-bars

Would you believe it, the first “group” photo I took I realized I forgot the cream cheese so I took another. Then after I was halfway through mixing this up and realized I forgot the craisins.

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It’s really a simple recipe. I started with a butter cake mix, added 1 egg, 1/3 cup oil and mixed in mixer until kinda crumby. Add pecans if you’d like. I didn’t but wished later that I had.

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Press into a 9×13 pan either by hand or a roller thingy like this.

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Put into a 350° heated oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Throw a bar of cream cheese, or Neufchâtel, or cream cheese Greek yogurt into the mixer and beat until smooth. I actually used Neufchâtel in this. Add 1 egg, 1/2 cup evaporated milk and 1/3 cup sugar and beat again until smooth.

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Pour over the crust that you have pulled out of the oven (you have pulled it out, right???) 🙂

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Sprinkle a cup of white chocolate chips over the cream cheese layer. Then add 1/2 cup (or more to taste) craisins. Put back into the oven and bake for another 15 minutes.

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The cream cheese layer should be set. Let cool completely and chill before cutting into bars. It’s plenty rich so it’s perfect for a finger food plate. 🙂

 

Cranberry Cheesecake Bars

1 butter recipe cake mix
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)
1 – 8 oz. cream cheese, Neufchâtel or cream cheese with Greek yogurt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup craisins (dried cranberries)

Combine cake mix, 1 egg, oil and pecans (optional) and mix in mixer or food processor until crumbly. Press into a 9×13 baking pan. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Mix cream cheese until smooth. Add evaporated milk, 1 egg and sugar and mix until smooth. Pour over cake mix layer that has cooled slightly. Sprinkle chocolate chips and craisins over top. Bake at 350° for another 15 minutes. Chill before cutting into bars.

 

Some variations on the recipe include:

Chocolate cake mix
milk chocolate chips

Lemon cake mix
White chocolate chips and/or lemon chips (bulk food stores often carry them)

You can also save some of the cake mix crumbles from the crust mix to sprinkle on top of the chips/cream cheese before baking.

I make this recipe for every bake sale that I help with and there are never any left. I wish there was at least 1 left for me to taste! 🙂

Summertime Foods

It is summertime here and boy it is hot! We’ve had hotter weather the last week or so than I remember having the past couple of years. Maybe I just didn’t notice??

hot, humid

 

June 25 1
Taken in the shaded carport around 3:30 PM, June 25.

 

June 25 2
Taken in the sun around 3:40 PM, June 25.

So along with summer heat comes the desire to come up with other options than cooking in the kitchen and heating up house. Around here, the old cabin-style houses (called dog trot houses) had breezeways between the kitchen and the sleeping quarters. I totally get it.

Corn is one of my favorite summertime foods! I personally like white corn better than yellow but I’ll eat any of them. We grew up eating tomato sandwiches and chocolate milk with our corn-on-the-cob meals. That’s still one of my favorite summer meals!

fall 2012

 

Something else we use to eat in the summer was a cold strawberry soup. You chill milk and add a little sugar. Just before serving, tear bread into little chunks and add to milk. Add chopped fresh strawberries. Some folks like bananas too but me … not so much. We’d often having fried/baked chicken or something like that to eat with it.

 

Another fun thing to do is make an all-grilled supper. These pictures are from a few years back but are good inspiration for me.

steak supper 5 b

Dice potatoes and toss with seasonings and make a foil pack. Takes about 10-15 min. on a hot grill.

steak supper 1 b

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Olive oil, seasonings and veggies! Yum!

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Add your favorite marinated and grilled meat and you’ll have a complete meal.

This past weekend I made tin-foil meals on the grill. Butter tin foil or use a pie pan (or 2). Add a leaf or 2 of cabbage. Slice potatoes, carrots, onions and place over cabbage. Season with salt and pepper. Top with raw, seasoned hamburger, or marinated boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, add some sausage for good flavor. Seal with foil and grill on medium heat for 20-30 minutes. Add a little shredded cheese when you remove the foil.

I also get tired of water but am trying to stay away from soda and other sweetened drinks. One alternative that I like is buying club soda or sparkling water and add fruit concentrate. Pineapple is one of my favorites!

Summer Foods-2

Summer Foods-5

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It’s a carbonated drink but with a (bit of a) healthier twist

 

If I do drink actual soda, my favorite is this brand:
Sarasota-98

 

What are your favorite light meals, or keep-the-kitchen-cool meals?

Sugar Free Lemon Berry Pavlova

Posting a recipe when so many big and heavy things are going on in our world but one must eat despite big and heavy things happening. Maybe this meringue dessert can lighten things up a little. Pun intended. 🙂

I first had pavlova when one of my nieces made it. They “learned it” from their family in Australia. It is so yummy and light! I wanted to make pavlova for a church carry-in and decided to make a sugar free version for those who choose/need to eat that way. There are many different ways you can make pavlova but the base is always a meringue base. I’m not sure if pavlova is the complete dessert or the meringue base. Maybe someone can help me out. 🙂

Pavlova-5

You can also make little individual pavlovas. If space wasn’t a constraint, I would go that route because slicing this baby doesn’t leave it looking the prettiest.

Preheat the oven to 250°.

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Choose whatever sugar alternative floats your boat. I had a store brand of sugar replacement baking blend. Beat with egg whites on high speed until it is stiff and shiny.

Add the lemon juice, vanilla and cornstarch. Mix just until blended.

Place parchment paper on a baking sheet. If you want, you can draw a circle with a pen on the parchment paper if you want to stay within a specific size. As you can tell, I didn’t! 🙂

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I spread this one into approx. 10″ across. That made it about 2 inches deep in the center. Create a bit of a well in the center to hold the toppings better.

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It doesn’t have to be spread all smooth. In fact, it is prettier if it is a little peaked.

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Baking basically dries it out good and proper. I was shocked at how light it was. I don’t know why. I’ve had meringue on pies before. It just felt funny to pull it out of the oven when it was cooled and it weighed a couple of ounces.

Make sure to let it cool down in the oven before removing it to avoid cracks.

Pavlova

If you discover, like me, that your local grocery store doesn’t have much sugar-free pudding options, you can do like me and choose a SF cheesecake pudding and add lemon flavoring. Yum!

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If you have access to real whipping cream, by all means go that route. I went for ease this round, I’ll admit. Real cream tastes better and I’m guessing is the better option.

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The fruit is what makes it really pretty. Go bonkers with it!

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Slice and serve immediately or shortly thereafter. 🙂

 

ALTERNATIVE SERVING SIZE:

You can make six 3-inch round meringues if you’d rather. This serves up beautifully. Decrease baking time to 45 minutes.

 

 

Pavlova Recipe