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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Crayons in Summer Salad with Bowties

Keep your summer meals easy and playful with this crayon-colored, bowtie-sporting salad!

I just can't stop myself!  This is another recipe I've created using a Philadelphia Cooking Creme (see my Easy, Breezy Potato Salad with Baby Reds, incorporating a cooking creme, and my White Chocolate Frosting, utilizing a white chocolate cream cheese spread).

                                    Go Ahead, Play with Your Food...
                                        And Color A Summer Salad!

Approximately 12 servings

  • 4 1/4 c. uncooked bowtie (farfalle) pasta
  • 12 oz. fresh asparagus spears (washed & woody stems removed)
  • 1 1/4 c.--approx. 1 large--red bell pepper (cleaned, cored & seeded), cut into about 1 1/4" long & 1/4" wide pieces
  • 1 1/4 c.--approx. 1 large--orange (or yellow--I used orange) bell pepper (cleaned, cored & seeded), cut into about 1 1/4" long & 1/4" wide pieces
  • 1 1/4 c. cleaned grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/3 c.--approx. 2 1/4 small stalks--cleaned green onions, thinly sliced (green tops & all)
  • 1/3 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 tsp. salt (plus about 1 tsp. salt* to 4 quarts pasta water)
  • 1 c. Parmesan & Romano--or Parmesan--cheese (divided)**
  • 1 tub (10 oz) Philadelphia Savory Lemon & Herb Cooking Creme

  1. Add about 1 tsp. salt* to cooking water and cook pasta according to package directions, or until al dente (about 11 min.'s).  Drain immediately.  Rinse with cold water and drain again.  Set aside.
  2. For the asparagus: Add whole spears to boiling water and cook uncovered about 3 minutes, or until crisp-tender.  Drain immediately.  Rinse with cold water and drain again.  Cut into about 1 1/4" pieces.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the bell peppers, tomatoes, green onions, black pepper, 2/3 tsp. salt and 2/3 c. of the cheese**.
  4. Add the pasta and asparagus to the bell pepper mixture and gently toss together.  Carefully fold in the cooking creme.
  5. Chill at least one hour before serving.  Garnish with the remaining 1/3 c. of cheese**.

Complement your grilled entrees with this refreshing summer salad. Or, add shrimp, chicken, tuna or salmon to this versatile salad and enjoy a one-dish, easy meal!

Printable Recipe

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Blueberry Burst Cake with Pecans/Walnuts ~ A Retro Recipe

I recently opened a piece of mail from my sister, thinking what could this's not my birthday or anything!  I was delightfully surprised to receive a copy of a blueberry cake recipe with a note on it...simply, that she thought I might like it.  Well, that's putting it mildly...this is the best blueberry cake I've ever made, and the first one I recall making with the blueberries scattered throughout!

Of course, I called her to thank her for the recipe and to see if she had any tips on preparing it.  Apparently she's been making this cake for years, and she originally found it in a newspaper (remember what I've said about treasured recipes from newspapers?).

My sister and I have adapted the recipe from the original one, which was titled "Mary R. Greene's Blueberry Cake" and shared in an article by Cecily Brownstone, a food editor with the Associated Press for nearly forty years.  Mary R. Greene was a recipe tester for Ms. Brownstone.  I couldn't find the recipe on the internet, so I'm not sure of the exact year (but, yikes, probably in the 70' sister started baking as a small child, of course!).  In response to a reader's question regarding why blueberries seem to always fall to the bottom of a cake, Ms. Brownstone offered this fascinating insight in an article (a different recipe) I found from July 11, 1963: "Our guess is that when fresh, cultivated blueberries are used in batters, they sink to the bottom because they are larger and heavier than they once were."  Boy, that explains a long-standing, baffling question of mine!  (Flouring the blueberries before adding to the batter has not always worked for me!)

Sis suggested doubling the blueberries and adding a few more nuts...I just doubled the nuts.  She also suggested adding additional layers of filling and batter and advised the layers would be thin (and they were!).  The original recipe called for walnuts (love them!); but I happened to have pecans in the freezer from my brother's pecan orchard, so I used them...either nut would work great!  I added ground mace, which is a favorite spice of mine for some cakes.

This moist cake is just bursting with blueberries that are scattered throughout the cake, and you'll enjoy it any time of the day!  My mother and her friends could always be found at one of their houses having a morning or afternoon break with a good cup of coffee, cake and lots of laughter...does any one do that any more? 

                                             Go Ahead, Go Retro!

                          Have A Hen (Or Rooster) Session and Enjoy!

Approximately 12-16 servings


The Blueberry Filling
  • 2 c. (or 1 pint) rinsed, and gently dried, fresh blueberries
  • 1 c. medium-fine chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1/4 c. sugar

The Topping

The Batter
  • 2 1/2 c. sifted, all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp. ground mace spice
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 c. butter w/salt, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. (about 1/2 of a large lemon) lemon zest
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 c. sour cream (I use reduced fat)
  • Non-stick baking spray

   Just Bursting With Berries...

                                          Scattered Throughout!


The Blueberry Filling
Gently fold the ingredients together with a spatula, while avoiding crushing the berries.

The Topping
Stir the ingredients together with a whisk or fork.

The Batter
  1. Whisk together the flour, mace, baking powder and baking soda.
  2. Thoroughly beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Mix in the vanilla and lemon zest.  Scrape the bowl.
  4. Beat in the eggs one at a time, just until the egg color disappears.
  5. Mix in the sour cream.  Scrape the bowl again.
  6. On low speed, gradually beat in about 1/3 at a time of the flour mixture, until well blended.
  7. Scrape the bowl again and give the batter one last quick little mix.
  8. Thoroughly spray a 10" Bundt pan, including the tube, with the baking spray.
  9. Preheat the oven to 350ยบ.
  10. Starting with the batter and ending with the batter, alternately layer about 1 1/4 c. batter with 1 c. blueberry filling.  You'll have four layers of batter and three layers of blueberry filling--seven layers total.  (Very carefully spread the batter layers, as they will be very thin.  When adding the blueberry filling layers, sprinkle about a TB at a time.  Try to keep the berries whole at all times.)
  11. Sprinkle the final layer of batter with the topping.
  12. On the rack below the center of the oven, bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake.
  13. Cover the cake with a clean dish towel (to let it "sweat"), and let cool overnight.
  14. To release the cake from the pan, carefully run a very thin-bladed knife around the edges of the pan...invert onto a serving dish and give the pan a good shake and tap.  Ta-Da!

To serve, carefully slice the cake with a serrated knife. Because the blueberries could cause the cake to mold; if you have any cake left over after a day or two, refrigerate it; after about 4 days, freeze it. (That is, if you have any left over!) Enjoy!

                                           Mmm, That Looks Good!

                                  Did Someone Forget About The Kids?

Printable Recipe