Blueberry Muffins


Happy Memorial Day! Thank you to the service men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. I hope you are able to spend some time with your family today. We are getting together for my sweet niece’s birthday. Hard to believe she will be four this year! Alex and Abby are always buddies when we are able to get together. He thinks she is just hilarious, and she is so sweet with him. I wish my whole family could be together, but Bernie will be at work today. I look forward to the years when we can all be together on holidays! Including Willa – maybe one day she won’t be so hyper and we can take her with us!

Now, on to the food. We love berries, all three of us! Alex loves fresh berries, right now he calls any berry BBs. I can’t wait until we can go and pick our own at Huber’s Farm this year – those are the best. Blueberry muffins are Bernie’s favorite so when the blueberries were on sale at the grocery last week, I knew what I was going to make. With a name that says these muffins are “to die for,” we had high expectations, and they were met. These muffins are huge! You could definitely get more than eight servings if you want a more standard sized muffin. This recipe calls for a sugary topping and while it adds a little something extra, they are good without (Alex didn’t get the extra sugar). On that note, the original recipe calls for much more streusel topping than you need, so I halved it. This recipe is one of the reasons I love Allrecipes, with over 6,000 reviews, I knew these muffins were going to be delicious!

Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Muffins, from Allrecipes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh blueberries
Streusel topping:
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, cubed
3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease well or line 8 muffin cups.
To make the muffins: In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Set aside. Pour the oil into a one cup measuring cup and add the egg and enough milk to fill to the top. Mix the oil mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in the blueberries. Pour into the prepared muffin cups, filling to the top.
To make the topping: Mix together the sugar, flour, butter and cinnamon. Mix together with a fork (or fingers) until crumbly and sprinkle over tops of muffins.
Bake for 20-25 minutes in preheated oven.
Yields: 8 large muffins



Cast Iron Steak


Up until the last month we didn’t have an outdoor grill. All of our grilling has been done inside on a George Foreman. That was challenging when it came to steaks. When I saw I could cook a steak in a cast iron skillet, I wanted to try it. And I have to say, it turned out really well. Just make sure you buy a good cut of meat, this is the single most important rule for this recipe. Cheaper cuts haven’t turned out as well for us. Also be sure to have a good sear before putting your steaks in the oven.  Glad to find another way to use my cast iron skillet!

cast iron steak

Cast Iron Steak, from


Steaks, room temperature
olive oil
fresh ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Rub steaks on both sides with oil, salt and pepper. Let sit while cast iron skillet is preheating over high heat, about four minutes.

Place steak(s) in pan and don’t move for three minutes. Flip and again don’t move for another three minutes.

Place skillet in preheated oven for five minutes for medium rare steak, cook a little longer if you like your steak more done.

Remove skillet from over and place steak on a patter.  Allow it to rest for several minutes.

Spicy Chicken Rigatoni


What did I do before Pinterest? This is another successful find from Pinterest and it is evidently from the menu at Buca Di Beppo. The only times I have been there were for sorority functions in college and honestly, wasn’t impressed BUT I did enjoy this meal. I don’t know if it tastes like what is on the menu at Buca Di Beppo, but I think it can stand on it’s own.

We don’t really eat a lot of pasta anymore so this is a nice treat for me – it tastes good AND is quick and easy. This is a meal I can get ready while I have a toddler running around the kitchen or standing between my legs begging to be held…depending on the day. It does have some heat from the crushed red peppers but you can adjust to your liking. Us, we like it hot so we use the full amount. I eliminated the butter called for and added a lot more vegetables. I typically use frozen because it is quick and just as healthy, but you could add whatever vegetables sound good to you. In the reviews on the original recipe someone tried spinach and while I haven’t tried that yet – I think that could definitely work.

spicy chicken rigatoni

Spicy Chicken Rigatoni, altered slightly from Tastebook


2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper + more for garnish
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced
3/4 cup. Marinara sauce
1/2 cup Alfredo sauce
1 cup frozen peas and carrots
1 lb (16oz) Rigatoni pasta, cooked according to package directions


Heat oil in saute’ pan over medium heat. Add the crushed pepper, salt, pepper and garlic and saute’ just long enough for garlic to caramelize and red pepper to release flavor into the oil. Add the chicken and coat in spices and garlic.

Add marinara then alfredo sauce and bring to a simmer. Cook until the sauce slightly thickens and the chicken is cooked through. Stir in peas and carrots and cook until the vegetables are done.

Distribute pasta and top with sauce and chicken mixture. If you want more kick, garnish with crushed red pepper. Ready to serve!

Yields 4-6 servings

Nutrition based on 4 servings: 333.5 calories, 15.5g fat, 3.2g saturated fat, 32.5mg cholesterol, 868.4mg sodium, 35.7g carbohydrates, 3.2g fiber, 4.2g sugar, 13.2g protein


Monkey Bread Minis


We really strive to eat healthy in our family, most of the time. I try especially hard to do right for Alex…who probably eats better than both Bernie and me. BUT where’s the fun if there are never any treats? We even splurged on some ice cream from the Homemade Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen this weekend. Alex got to try strawberry ice cream and ate every. last. bite.  Alex has always been a pretty good eater but can be finicky sometimes just like any other kid.  If there is one food he will never refuse, it is ice cream.


Strawberry ice cream, yum!

He also loves monkey bread. Breakfast for Alex is usually oatmeal, muffins or pancakes…sometimes cereal when I am really in a pinch and don’t have anything in the freezer. Once a week or so I will try to make monkey bread as a treat, usually on the weekends when I have a little more time. If you want to make it even easier in the morning, make the dough the night before and put it in the fridge, then you can just assemble the next day and bake. I make these minis because I don’t have a monkey bread or Bundt pan, and it definitely works.  And who knows, maybe one day I will invest in one but for now I have other things higher on the priority list, like this pan from Williams-Sonoma.  Filled pancakes, how great does that sound?  But for now, we will stick with regular pancakes and monkey bread.

This is one breakfast I never have to worry if Alex will eat. Bernie approves too. This recipe calls for butter and sugar mixture to be drizzled over the dough but usually I bake Alex’s portion without – and he loves it just the same.

Monkey Bread Minis, adapted from Allrecipes


1 recipe buttermilk biscuits
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons (half stick) butter, melted


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tins with non stick spray.

Prepare biscuits as directed up to the point where you roll out the dough. If you are preparing the night before, put the dough in the refrigerator.

Roll dough into balls about 1/2 tablespoon in size. I normally end up with about 4 in each muffin tin so that is about 48 total. In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Roll dough pieces in sugar cinnamon mixture to coat and evenly distribute between 12 muffin cups.

monkey bread minis - What's Cooking in Kentucky

Ready to go into the oven!

Mix butter and 2 tablespoons of sugar and drizzle over dough. Bake for approximately 8-10 minutes.

Yields 6 servings (2 muffin tins)

monkey bread minis

BBQ Chicken Pizza


We love pizza in our house. Alex eats cheese pizza and Bernie and I love pizza with whole wheat dough, homemade sauce, pepperonis and lots of peppers – sweet and hot. This has been “our” pizza for years, and I thought it was time to try something new. When we are in a pinch we will usually go for a frozen California Pizza Kitchen BBQ pizza so why not try to recreate that – but fresh? This was really good and tastes very much like California Pizza Kitchen’s BBQ chicken. I used Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce.



BBQ Chicken Pizza, altered slightly from CDKitchen



2 tablespoons honey
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons barbecue sauce plus
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
1 cup Gouda cheese
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 small red onion, sliced into rings
2 tablespoons cilantro


Preheat oven to 500 degrees when ready to bake dough.

In a medium bowl, dissolve the honey in warm water. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let stand until foamy, at least 5-10 minutes. After yeast mixture is ready, mix in oil.

In a separate large bowl combine the flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the yeast mixture. Stir the flour into wet ingredients until all flour is incorporated.

On a lightly floured surface knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a well-oiled bowl and turn to coat the surface. Cover with a moist towel and let rise in a warm place until dough has doubled in size, about 1-1.5 hours. (if you use fast rise yeast – which I did- it won’t take as long).

Once dough is ready, punch down and divide into 2 pieces for thin crust, use the whole amount of dough for thick crust. Spread dough on a pan and use a fork to poke holes through the dough to prevent air pockets from forming. Place in the oven for 5 minutes, then remove and set aside, lowering oven temperature to 425 degrees.

While crust is cooking, begin to prepare chicken. In a large frying pan, heat olive oil on medium high heat and add chicken pieces. Saute until cooked completely and remove from heat. Coat chicken with 2 tablespoons of barbeque sauce. Set aside.

Spread 1/4 cup barbecue sauce over the surface of the dough. Distribute half of the cheese over the sauce. Spread chicken over the cheese. Place the onions over the chicken then cover with the remaining cheese.

Place pizza in the oven and bake until cheese is bubbling (about 7-10 minutes). Remove pizza from the over and sprinkle with cilantro.


Homemade Pizza Sauce


I never thought I would get a recipe from my little brother..ever. And to make something from scratch, that really surprised me. But, the truth is I did. My little brother tried out this recipe and my mom told me about it. We love making homemade pizza but I have always bought the sauce in the can. Making your own sauce is really not that hard and I hadn’t even thought about doing it myself. But let me tell you, it is worth it. The sauce can really make the pizza, and this sauce is so good. Even though I don’t like fennel, the fennel seed really give it a little something extra, and (I think), make the sauce so great. So, thank you Grant for the yummy find!

20130512-000455.jpgHomemade Pizza Sauce, from Taste of Home


2 cans (15 ounces each) tomato sauce
1can (12 ounces) tomato paste

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt


In a large saucepan or pot, combine tomato sauce and paste over medium heat. Add seasonings and mix well. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally. Cool.

Yields approximately 4 cups

**You can freeze this sauce! Freeze in containers OR I like to freeze in ice cube trays, then pop out and put in a freezer bag, then you can get as much or little as you need! Can freeze for up to 12 months**



Chewy Brownies



I had actually never made brownies from scratch, I can’t believe it. Bernie’s mom loves chocolate so whenever she comes over I try to have something with chocolate for dessert. I have made cupcakes and various other treats and this time I thought brownies would do the trick. At first I thought I wanted something with some mix-ins or caramel but then I realized I am a working mom with 1,000 other things to do and I just wanted a good, fool-proof recipe that would be relatively easy. When I saw this recipe was from Cook’s Illustrated I knew it would be good, and who doesn’t love a chocolaty, gooey brownie? These are really rich and fudgy, perfect to go along with a tall glass of milk. While it is really tempting to eat right out of the oven, try to wait until they have cooled, they will be much easier to get out of the pan.

Cook’s Illustrated Chewy Brownies, from Project Domestication

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 c. + 2 TB boiling water
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup vegetable oil + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon table salt
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chunks


Adjust oven rack to lowest position and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease 9×13 pan or line with foil.

In a medium bowl, whisk cocoa powder into boiling water until combined. Add unsweetened chocolate and whisk until melted and combined.

Whisk in butter and oil. Add eggs, egg yolks and vanilla, whisk until smooth.

Mix in sugar until fully incorporated.

With a rubber spatula, fold in the flour and salt until combined. Mix in chocolate chunks.

Scrape the batter into prepared pan and smooth out the top.

Bake 35-40 minutes. Once out of the oven, cool completely in the pan before cutting into squares (if you can resist!).