July 26, 2011

Blueberry Picking + Blueberry Scones

A gallon of blueberries for $5? The honor system to leave your cash in a basket after picking your goods? My foodie field trip buddies Hannah, Natalie, and I were elated to find these reminders of why we love living so close to small-town South where you find yourself at a blueberry farm like this.

We quickly discovered that the blueberries weren't as cheap as we thought though because your pay two hours in labor picking in summer heat and humidity, but we decided it was totally worth the labor, especially when you sit in AC all week. The day was overcast, we got lots of chit chatting in, and we each came home with ginormous bags of super fat and juicy berries.
I snacked on my booty, gave some to my family, froze some, but, best of all, I put them in scones. I hadn't thought I would love scones, but these tasty like a denser biscuit in a delightful triangle shape. Biscuit cousin filled with sweet, juicy berries? That will make you go back for seconds at breakfast...and then a secret third while you put leftovers in a baggie... and only restrain yourself from eating more because that would be hogging food when you are supposed to be the hostess for super-close college friends who came all the way from Texas to see you.

The scones were slightly sweet, allowing the berries to shine, and were dense yet fluffy and buttery inside with a slightly browned, sugar-coated top. I decided to try them because I'd already blogged about the best white-wheat, streusel-topped blueberry muffins, cake-like Blueberry Cheesecake Muffins, and healthy Banana-Blueberry Muffins, leaving must-make-original-blog-post me to think of something new for my blueberry breakfast baking fetish.

July 19, 2011

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Trifle

Chocolate cake.
Chocolate sauce.
Peanut butter whipped cream.
Whipped cream.

That's about all you need to know to salivate over this masterpiece, who, unfortunately, I didn't capture super well on camera.

Oh, but you should also know that, of course, the layers all meld together into creamy chocolate-peanut butter wonderfulness that only the crazy chocolate-haters or peanut butter-haters can resist.

One more selling point: all the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Trifle recipes in internet land sent up food snob red flags for me with their instant vanilla pudding, so I opted for the fluffy, creamy peanut butter pie filling I love and good old fashioned whipped up whipping cream. I only cheated by using box cake mix.

And one final, final point: trifles are time consuming but also pretty impossible not to make an impressive presentation. It was by far the winner of my dessert for our annual Fourth of July family gathering weekend of 18.

If you like chocolatey trifles, you should try this simple Brownie Trifle or Tiramisu Toffee Trifle Pie. And if you like more fruity trifles, try Peach Trifle or just make up your own layers of cakey stuff and creamy stuff.

July 12, 2011

Chicken Pasta Salad: Updated Church Potluck Edition

This creamy pasta salad with a kick got passed around on the official  ladies' luncheon circuit in the church where I grew up. Last year my friends and I discovered why it was so popular and started making it for picnics and such in the summer. The creamy oil-and-vinegar dressing  melds with finely chopped onion and bell pepper, parsley and veggies for a uniquely delicious and refreshing main dish.

To lighten and enhance the original potluck recipe with its tons of mayo and oil, I subbed Greek yogurt for some of the mayo, stepped the vinegar up to red wine vinegar, make the oil olive oil, and cut it the oil quantity. You can take the basic recipe and make it your own; I just recommend you don't leave out the Creole seasoning and dill.
This photo op was at a picnic shower a friend and I threw for a baby whose arrival we are anticipating any day now and her lovely mother. The great thing about pasta salad is that you can make it ahead of time, and it's all ready to go at party time. The recipe makes a ton and requires a giant bowl to toss, so be forewarned. Leftovers only get better...until the chicken gets old that is.

July 5, 2011

Wedding Cake Cupcakes

I usually come home from weddings talking about meaningful ceremonies, happening dance floors, and, of course, the cake—assuming it’s not too dry or froo-froo with fondant. Creativity with different flavors is great, but plain and simple white cake with buttercream is just, wow, wedding cake wonderfulness.

After being treated to a moist cake with a hint of coconut and a luscious buttercream at my one wedding of the summer, I knew one such cake would not suffice for an entire year. So I decided to copycat cool cupcake shops and make a wedding cake cupcake.
In my interpretation, that means you make white cake and buttercream frosting both with almond extract—oh, almond flavoring in cake! So all weekend we got to have party in our mouths, wedding style, without all the dressing up, expenditures, and potential for awkward small talk.

The cake dried out after a few days but still had its wonderful flavor. I need to perfect a scratch-made white cake recipe to stay moist, maybe by using oil instead of butter? For an easier version, you could add almond extract to a boxed mix, but do not, I repeat, do not skip out on the taste superiority of homemade vs. canned buttercream, deal?