Blueberry Pound Cake

July 22, 2010

Martha has a recipe for blackberry pound cake in July/Aug Everyday Food, but notes you can swap blueberries for blackberries, which is what I did. This was easy to whip up – basically a pound cake with blueberry puree swirled through it. I subbed out whole wheat pastry flour for half of the regular flour and I added some cinnamon (about 1/2 tsp) to the blueberry puree. Everyone in my house gobbled this up almost instantly. It was sweet and moist and very good.

1/2 c butter

6 oz berries

1 1/4 c plus 2 tbsp sugar

1 1/2 c flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

2 eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 c sour cream

Puree berries with 2 tbsp sugar. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla, mix. Add dry ingredients alternating with sour cream. Put half the batter in a loaf pan and top with 1/2 cup puree. Put in rest of batter and cover with remaining puree. Bake at 350 for  1 hour 15 min.

Note Martha says to only put 1/2 cup puree in the middle of the batter. I think this might be a typo and she meant to say put half of the puree in the middle. I did it as the recipe said and there wasn’t much in the middle and tons on top. I would definitely put half in the middle to even things out.

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Trumpet Vine

July 21, 2010

I enjoyed sharing my clematis vine, so I thought I would show you my other successful vine, a trumpet vine. My dad has one of these and convinced his to make a baby (apparently you bury the end of it underground and it will sprout up as a new, separate plant that you can dig up and move – thanks Dad!). We planted it next to an old wooden fence that encloses the dog section of the backyard. For several years it grew but didn’t flower. Then suddenly it decided it liked us and now it makes flowers every year. It doesn’t seem to have as many this year as in years past, I think because we had some major lawn work done right next to it (some septic work and drainage tile) so it is probably still a little bit huffy over that. This is another plant I do absolutely nothing to – I don’t water, feed, or trim it. And this one clings nicely to the fence by itself!

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No Cook Pasta Sauce

July 20, 2010

I’ve seen the no-cook pasta sauces that show up in women’s magazines in the summer and my friend Debbie recently did one on her blog Words to Eat By which convinced me I needed to try Martha’s version in August Living called Tomato and Basil Pasta. I’m hooked. It was easy and delish. Put 1/4 cup olive oil and 3 sliced garlic cloves in a bowl with salt and pepper. Add 1 lb of hot, cooked pasta (I used whole wheat rotini). Toss. Rip up 4 tomatoes with your hands. Drop in blobs of soft cheese (I used goat cheese – about 6 oz) and add some fresh herbs (Martha says to use basil but I didn’t have enough so I also used oregano, chives, rosemary and parsley). Stir it and serve. Very simple and it was so flavorful and wonderful. The tomatoes taste sweet and fresh. The cheese makes it creamy and the fresh herbs add lots of punch. I’m definitely going to be doing this again. The only problem with this is you can’t reheat leftovers well. The tomato ends up hot and mushy and the herbs lose their freshness. Teen Martha solved this by just eating it cold!

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Martha Mondays: 7/26

July 19, 2010

Thanks to Sarah at Mum in Bloom, our project for 7/26 is Chocolate Pudding.

Martha Mondays: PB Choc Semifreddo

July 19, 2010

It was my turn to pick this week’s project, which is in July/Aug Everyday Food: Peanut Butter Chocolate Semifreddo. Now I must confess something. My favorite thing in the entire world is Perry’s Peanut Butter Fudge ice cream. In high school, I worked at an ice cream parlor and one of the girls I worked with used to make us little hot fudge sundaes on the sly – a tiny scoop of Perry’s PBF in a plastic water dixie  cup topped with a bit of hot fudge. Sometimes I would buy a sundae and eat it in the car on the way home after work. Heaven. Thankfully, Perry’s is a local company and still makes PBF, although they only make it in the summer. The rest of the year I am in PBF crisis mode. It can get pretty ugly. Do not even suggest to me that I should try peanut butter cup ice cream. It is not even close.

So, when I saw the recipe for PBF semifreddo, well, you can imagine my excitement. Semifreddo is not ice cream, but it is  similar. I had semifreddo once before when my mom made it. It was ok, not great. I was willing to try this.

The recipe was a little confusing and involved halving and then halving again a peanut butter and whole milk and sugar mixture, which I found confusing. You whip some cream and mix in some of the PB mixture. You melt chocolate in water (which I think is nasty). Then you fill the pan halfway with the whipped cream/PB mix. Then you put in straight PB mix and choc in the center, cover with the rest of the whipped cream stuff and put PB and choc on top, then you swirl and freeze for 5 hours.

I had way too much for my loaf pan – I ended up dumping some and my loaf pan overflowed in the freezer. It was quite a mess. I also used a silicone loaf pan and then ended up cutting through it with a knife, trying to get this out!

The peanut butter/whipped cream part was pretty good. Semifreddo is not ice cream, but it isn’t bad – cool, creamy, and sweet. I thought the chocolate part was awful – mine was grainy. If I made this again, I would use hot fudge instead.  So, with all of that being said, this wasn’t bad and was kind of fun. And in the winter if I’m desperate for Perry’s PBF, I think this might work as a poor man’s substitute.

I’m feeling tired and lazy this morning so I’m not going to retype the recipe. Those of you who requested it, got it by email. If you’re reading this blog and would like a copy of it, just let me know. As soon as the recipe is up on Martha’s site I’ll come back and stick the link in.

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Rocks for Brains

July 16, 2010

I haven’t been cooking as much as usual, so I don’t have as much to share about food lately. The heat makes it hard and I’ve just been feeling tired of the constant dinner grind. So this morning, I thought I would share an interesting collection I’ve developed – rocks. I’m not fascinated by the scientific information about rocks – what they’re called, how they were formed. No, I just like them because they’re pretty. And they are a way of bringing home a piece of a place I’ve visited.

My fascination with rocks started when we rented a house in York Harbor, Maine for a week several years ago. The coast is very rocky there and the house was right on the water, with a very rocky and challenging shore. We spent a lot of time clambering around the rocks. So many of them were so beautiful that I started hauling some back to the house with me each time. This rock sits beside the doors to our basement and garage and I use it as a doorstop. I just love the wavy lines through it.

These are more Maine rocks. Thank goodness we drove, because I could never have gotten these home on an airplane! I love the pink rock and the amazing stripes in the blue rocks. I was like a kid in a candy store before we left – stuffing more and more rocks into the car. I did try to sift through carefully and only take the most beautiful.

A few years after the Maine trip. we rented a house on Cape Cod. Again, there were so many beautiful rocks! As you can see though, they are very different from the Maine rocks. I love the green ones the most.  Again, we were driving, so I didn’t have trouble getting them home.

These rocks are in a basket that came from Maine (I know, I should swap things around and put the Maine rocks in this basket.)

I put some of the smaller rocks in a rectangular glass container on a kitchen shelf. Next to it is driftwood I found on the beach there as well. Dude Martha and I spent a lot of time just walking on that beach, looking at rocks and exploring tide pools. As a kid, we vacationed in Maine, so a rocky beach is my ideal for summer vacation!

I was so enamored with the Cape Cod rocks that I took lots of photos of them because they are most colorful when they’re wet – right after a wave has washed over them. So I had to take some photos to preserve those bright colors. This photo sits on a shelf in my office and it makes me happy every time I look at it!

Our trip last summer to England and Scotland was magical. My entire life, I dreamed of going to Scotland. After we had crossed the border into Scotland, I said to Mr. MarthaAndMe that I couldn’t believe I was actually there. It was so beautiful that I had a tiny little cry. So when we got to Loch Ness and parked on the side of the road and climbed down some stairs to get to the beach, I couldn’t help but pocket a few rocks! They aren’t as colorful as the New England rocks, but they sit on a shelf in my office and remind me that I actually did go to Scotland.

I don’t have rocks from our trip to Hawaii (the goddess Pele would have been angry if I had brought home any lava rocks) but I do have some shells and coral, as well as a nice container of beach glass I found there.

This summer we’ll be headed to the Pacific Northwest – Seattle, Alaska and Vancouver. Maybe they’ll have some rocks I can bring home.

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Tuna, Take Two

July 15, 2010

If you read my post yesterday, you know I was ready to make a nice dinner of tuna steaks when most of the family suddenly had other plans. So the tuna was put on hold and I was finally able to make it last night.

Teen Martha loves tuna and she loves it practically still swimming – she just wants it seared on the outside. And she has to have wasabi with it. I cannot stand wasabi or anything hot and spicy and I am learning to like my tuna pink.

Now, listen, this recipe is not a big breakthrough by any means, but it’s something I’m a little proud of. I don’t usually order tuna in restaurants, but I have learned that I like it, so I wanted to experiment a bit. It seems Teen Martha is always getting sesame crusted tuna, so I decided to give that a try and make a mango salsa. I loved how it turned out. The salsa gave it a tropical feel and had just enough spiciness in it to liven the dish up. The tuna was cooked perfectly to my tastes (Teen Martha’s piece was left practically raw with a tube of wasabi set next to her). I’ll be making this again since it is quick and very tasty.

Sesame Crusted Tuna with Mango Salsa
4 ahi tuna steaks
olive oil
toasted sesame seeds

Rinse and pat dry the tuna steaks. Rub with olive oil and then sprinkle with as many sesame seeds as you like. Press the seeds into the tuna a bit to get them to stick. Do both sides. I grilled the tuna but you can also sear in a pan. Cook to whatever doneness you prefer – if you’re like Teen Martha, just sear it on both sides. If you’re like me, cook it a bit longer so it is cooked, but still wiggly. This took about 5-7 minutes on the grill.

Mango Salsa
1 mango
1 small gherkin sized cucumber
jalapeno pepper
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
juice of half a lime
1 tsp lemon or lime zest
salt and pepper

Cut up the mango into small pieces. Peel and dice the cucumber and add it. I am a chicken about hot pepper so I have a jar of sliced jalapeno and took just one little piece out and chopped it up. Use more if you like yours hot. Add in cilantro, lime juice, zest and salt and pepper. Allow the salsa to sit for about 30 min, refrigerated. Serve with tuna.

With this we had green beans, pretzel rolls from the bakery with whipped cream cheese and corn on the cob.

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