Friday, May 25, 2012

Blueberry Breakfast Bliss

So my friends my latest addiction - Pinterest - has captured my heart and stimulated my palate. Every day, I see hundreds of images pass before my eyes tempting me with fun gadgets, dazzling DIY decorating ideas, and of course, tempting foods. I have to be careful perusing the pages of pins, because if I’m hungry, I want to make everything I see. I have to say thanks to the folks who created Pinterest; I’ve discovered many like-minded people with exceptional taste, and more importantly, tons of recipes to try.

While I was on this amazing social media site the other day, I stumbled upon a photo of a Blueberry Cheese Roll that caught my eye. The photo spoke to me. The thing I love about Pinterest, when you see something that you are interested in, you can repin to your own boards. So that's exactly what I did... I repinned the Blueberry Cheese Roll in my “Gotta Make” board, and printed out the recipe with the intention of making within a few days. Which obviously I am did.

Luckily, the ingredients for this recipe are so simple that I remembered what I needed when I was at Publix (our local grocery store). There are only four ingredients, blueberries, cream cheese, sugar and crescent rolls. This morning I made a batch and let me tell you... they were everything I anticipated and more!    

Seriously, even on the busiest morning, these are so easy to make for breakfast – a total of about 30 minutes from start to finish.  The best part, my husband and I were very pleased by the results.  One bite and your day is already beginning on a blissfully happy note.

I felt the desire to write about what a find this recipe is. So, I made a second batch, photographing the process and the ingredients. The upside, now I have breakfast ready for tomorrow morning’s eats.  Once again, making was easy-breezy. This time around, I added my own little twist – lemon zest in the cream cheese mixture. One other change I made to the recipe; I upped the heat during the preheating stage and when the rolls were ready to bake, I reduced to the temperature as directed in the original recipe.

How easy was this? Let me share the details:

Step one: Pre-heat oven to 400°
Step two: mix cream cheese, sugar and lemon zest
Step three: unroll crescent roll dough, divide into four rectangles and press seams together
Step four: spread mixture onto rectangles
Step five: add blueberries
Step six: press opposite corners together
Step seven: turn heat down to 375° bake for 11 to 13 minutes

That’s it – I told you it was easy! 

The actual recipe:  Blueberry Cheese Rolls:
1 pkg. (8 oz.)   Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
4 oz.                Cream Cheese softened
2 T.                  Sugar
½ C.                 Fresh Blueberries divided
                        Zest of one lemon 

Directions: Original version (with my variations)
Heat oven to 375° (I heated to 400° and turned down to 375° when I placed them in the oven). Unroll dough into four rectangles: firmly press perforations together to seal. Combine cream cheese and sugar, (I added the zest of one lemon); spread onto dough rectangles to within ½ inch of edges. Top evenly with blueberries.  Bring opposite corners of rectangles together; press together to seal. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 11 to 13 min. or until golden brown. 

I was really pleased with this breakfast roll recipe. It went beyond my expectations in taste and preparation. I liked the addition of the lemon zest from the original version. The zest gave the cream cheese mixture an essence of cheesecake, and of course, lemon complements blueberries nicely. The other highlight; after baking - the blueberries are plumper and burst in your mouth. They also add an element of happiness to the pastry. 

You know, there is just something about Pillsbury Crescent Rolls. Coming from the Midwest, they are a staple in our culinary history. To be honest, I’ve never actually just baked and eaten a crescent roll. I have enjoyed them in a ton of different recipes, but never alone, as a bread component to a meal. The thing about crescent rolls; to me they add a level of comfort to a recipe.  My mom made a fabulous Veggie pizza using Pillsbury Crescent Rolls as the pie base, which also has cream cheese in it as well. Hmmm... Now that I think about it, this Blueberry Cheese roll recipe is probably appealing to me because two of the main ingredients are in many of my favorite family recipes.  By the way, that veggie pizza recipe... it’s awesome!  No photos but I’ve shared the recipe at the bottom of this entry.

There have been several recipes that I’ve made because I saw them on Pinterest. I’ve discovered a great group of people who have extraordinary taste. I think the success of this social network is because of the images, they speak in volumes! When I look at a photo of a dish it screams, “Make me!” For example, the other night I made a Roasted Vegetable Orzo salad with Ina’s Easy Lemon Chicken. It was incredible!  The photo captured my attention and the description captivated my palate. I’m so glad I made this - the salad was bright, had a lovely texture and it was great the next day.  I actually started with the orzo and found a main dish to make with it. I highly recommend if you‘re not a member of Pinterest, join today! If you are, enjoy the ride, its inspirational and helped me more than once deciding what’s for dinner.

As I promised: 
Mama’s Veggie Pizza
1 pkg.               Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
1 8 oz. pkg.       Cream   Cheese
½ C.                  Sour Cream
2 t.                    Fresh Dill – Chopped
1                       Red Bell Pepper - diced
1 C.                   Chopped Broccoli – raw
1 C.                    Chopped Cauliflower – raw
½ C.                   Matchstick Carrots
Any other favorite – crunchy vegetables

Step one: unroll crescent rolls and pinch together seams to make one sheet of pastry. Bake at 375° as directed on package. Let cool completely.  This is the only baking portion of the process.
Step two: mix together soften cream cheese, sour cream, pinch of salt and pepper, and fresh dill.  Once pizza crust is cooled, spread mixture to cover, leaving a small edge for crust.
Step three: chop raw vegetables and evenly layer vegetables on top the cream cheese layer.
Step four: Set in refrigerator for 15 minutes before cutting into squares.  Serve and enjoy!

This recipe is a great appetizer for parties, and it travels really well! I have to admit, sometimes I don’t wait for an invitation to a party - I make it for John and me, and we have our own party for two. 

Until next time... happy eating!
SRQ Foodie

Friday, May 11, 2012

Picnic in the Park...

Yesterday, my husband surprised me with tickets to an outdoor production of Rocky Horror Picture Show in St. Petersburg. First, let me say it was awesome!  The performers, the participants, the audience and the music were so much fun.  Getting ready for our romantic night out, I had this image of sitting on the waterfront enjoying a romantic meal and watching one of my all-time favorite movies played out live in front of me.  Since we could take a basket, I wanted to make something that would be easy to transport, not take up a lot of room, and taste good. Also, watching countless shows of Ina Gartner and Giada De Laurentiis making gourmet picnics fueled my inspiration for our special dinner. Thank you ladies, you inspired me.

Our dinner and the entire evening were both magical! Roast beef sandwiches, tabbouleh pinwheels, chilled grapes and popcorn on the menu. The roast beef sandwiches, which I thought up in my head, were a-mazing! Slow-roasted beef with shallot and herb boursin cheese, sweet red peppers, spicy cornichons and a dollop of stone ground mustard on a poppy seed hoagie roll. The creamy boursin added a savory smooth layer to the sandwich, and the sweetness of the red pepper brightened up it up. The cornichons were a last minute addition. My husband and I both thought the sandwich that was all right, but it wasn’t quite complete, and the spicy, tartness and heat of the tiny little gourmet pickles took our sandwiches to a new level of taste.  The shallot and herb boursin was good, added that onion element without the bad breath. I think next time I’ll try the garlic and herb version. Maybe the garlic will deepen the flavors even more.

In addition to the savory sandwiches, I made some tabbouleh and cream cheese pinwheels, packed chilled grapes and popped some corn. All we needed was some wine and we were set. The theatre company asked that we not bring our own - something about a city ordinance – they told us that wine and beer were available for purchase.  We complied, although we saw lots of other attendees packing their own.  I figured we’d be buying $8 glasses of cheap no-name wine and pints of beer.  Actually, I was impressed with the selection of wines and craft beers available, and the kicker, they sold bottles of wine at really reasonable prices. We selected a bottle of Dona Paula Estate Malbec. I’ve had the Dona Paula Sauvignon Blanc before, so I knew the winemaker wouldn’t let us down and he didn’t. It complemented our menu completely.  Next time I’ll be prepared maybe even bring our special picnic wine glasses, although, we’ll have to wait until next season, the theater company shuts down their outdoor performances during the hot Florida summers.

All in all our date night was exactly as I had hoped. My husband did good! Seats were perfect, he even got us a little foldable “beach” table so that didn’t have to sit our plastic glasses on the grass, or kick them over as we jumped up to do the “Time Warp”.  

With spring here, and summer around the corner, my recommendation to you would be, pack a picnic basket, grab a bottle of wine, and catch an outdoor performance or concert. It’s an excellent and very inexpensive romantic date night under the stars.

SRQ Foodies Rocky Roast Beef Sandwiches

Per sandwich
1.                            Poppy Seed Hoagie Roll – sliced in half
1 ½ T.                     Boursin Cheese
3 Slices                  Slow Roasted Roast Beef
4 Strips                  Red Bell Pepper sliced
4                            Cornichon sliced in half
½ T.                        Stone Whole Mustard
Slice hoagie roll length-wise, spread Boursin Cheese on bottom half of roll. Top with roast beef slices, red peppers, cornichons and spread mustard on top. 

Hint: For travel, wrap sandwiches in parchment paper before storing in container.

Until next time...  SRQ Foodie  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Delightfully Chocolate

Dear fellow foodies,

I’m sorry for the delay, this past week I found myself a little uninspired in the kitchen. I know I promised to write about corn bread, and I will. I racked my brain trying to figure out something to that corn bread would complement. Alas, as I said, I was uninspired and couldn’t figure it out. My mom made corn bread with every meal, it didn’t matter what it was, there was always corn bread in a basket on the table. Honestly, it shouldn’t be that difficult, she served it every night.

I’m not sure why I was so uninspired this week; I cooked dinner most nights, but nothing to write home, or to you, about. Maybe it’s this time of year, when all the TV commercials are blasting “Mother’s Day” in our faces. It’s a hard time for me, I miss my mom so very much, and all the Mother’s day regalia just makes it more depressing.

The week wasn’t a total loss; 
I did make one of my favorite desserts my mom used to make for us. It’s called Chocolate Delight and it is... delightful! It brought back so many memories of my mom in the kitchen. It was nice to have such delicious happy thoughts of her, instead of feeling sad.

This dessert has it all – creamy, sweet, crunchy – pure gratification. Chocolate Delight is an explosion of sensory happiness with its lovely mixture of flavors and textures. There are four beautiful layers, each adding their own element for a dessert-a-licious experience. The base has sort of a savory, pecan sandie flavor. The combination of flour, butter and pecans is a great foil for the sweet layers above. The next layer is a silky, smooth creamy mixture of cream cheese, cool whip (yes, cool whip - this recipe is from the 70’s) and powdered sugar. The sugar and cool whip add a little bit of sweetness, but doesn’t overpower the tart and tangy depth of the cream cheese. On top of the fluffy white layer is chocolate pudding. Who doesn’t love chocolate pudding? The deep and luscious pudding adds a decadent dark and creamy layer. More cool whip on the top adds a heavenly light crown with chopped pecans as it’s jewels.

Normally, this is made in a 13 x 9 Pyrex dish, but I split it between two disposable 8 x 8-foil pans. One for us, and one for our neighbors. With one bite of this luscious, creamy delight, everything was all right in the world.  We couldn’t stop eating this... a spoonful here, a forkful there. It’s just so good. It had been so long since I’ve had this dessert, and for the life of me, I can’t understand why I waited until now to make it. 

Mama’s Chocolate Delight

Base layer:
1 C.         Flour
1 Stick   Butter
½ C.        Pecan pieces

Blend ingredients in food process until thoroughly mixed. Press down in a 13 x 9 Pyrex plate and bake at 375° for 15 minutes. Cool completely. While the crust is cooling, begin next layer.

Cream Cheese Layer:
8 oz.       Cream Cheese (recipe calls for Philadelphia brand, but I bought Publix brand. For the price of the Philly Cream Cheese, I can buy three Publix brand packages.)
1 C.         Cool Whip (8 oz container brought to room temperature)
1 C.         Powdered Sugar

Mix together and spread on top the base. Chill completely before adding next layer.

Pudding Layer:
2 Sm. Pkgs.         Jell-O Chocolate Pudding
3 C.                     Cold Milk

Thoroughly mix together and spread on top cream cheese layer. Chill completely.

Remaining Cool Whip
½ C. Chopped Pecans

Top with rest of cool whip. Sprinkle broken pecan pieces on top of cool whip and chill one hour before serving.  The longer it sets in the refrigerator, the better the layers develop together for a dynamic grand finale.

The recipe says you can make it with either chocolate or lemon pudding. I haven’t had the lemon version, only the chocolate because that’s how my mom made it, and I’m not sure I want to deviate from perfection. I know that the lemon would be as satisfying, maybe cheesecake-ish. For me, the chocolate version is a tasty memory of my childhood.

It’s really kind of funny, as I was going through my mom’s recipe card box; a rush of memories ran through my mind. Sitting at the butcher-block table with my parents having dinner every night. I could tell which ones were her favorites. Little hand-written recipe cards stained with ingredients of days long gone. Faded, corners of the cards torn and crinkled from all the times she made these wonderful recipes for us. I’m smiling as I write this blog, remembering how wonderful my mom was and how she showed her love with flavorful meals.

This wasn’t supposed to be a Mother’s Day blog.  Nevertheless, realizing that Mom’s Day is this coming Sunday, I made another Chocolate Delight in honor of the woman who loved, nurtured and supported me. Mama, I love and miss you every day.  I hope that this recipe inspires you to make one of  your mom’s specialties this coming weekend, and that no matter if your mom is here or gone to the great beyond, you raise a glass of Champagne to her, and maybe make a Chocolate Delight.

Until next time... 
SRQ Foodie