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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Wild Blueberry Breakfast Strudels

I am the proud mom of a kindergartener.  For those of you who can relate to that, you know that somewhere in that backpack is going to be a monthly "snack helper" calendar.  And sheesh.... it comes around quickly!  I keep vowing to just pick up a bucket of cheese balls for the whole class, but I'm not quite there yet.  HaHa!  I had been wanting to try out these Wyman's wild blueberries for a while that I had in the freezer, but was waiting for just the right thing..... so when Lily's snack helper turn came around again, I knew this was it!  

I don't think these would have worked as well with the regular size blueberries because they would have been way too large for this application.  In addition to that, the antioxidant value of the wild blueberries is way higher than that of the regular ones.  That's a definite plus for our snack (especially when I am trying to justify the fact that I'm going to drizzle it with icing)!

One of the mom's stopped me on the way into the school and said "Wow, how did you DO that?!"  But really, it's just puff pastry, a filling, and an icing drizzle!  It's not complicated.  So let's do this.  And guess what else?  You don't even have to have a kindergartener.  You can make them just because you think someone YOU love may love to have them for breakfast or brunch.  :)


Ingredients: (for 12 pastries)

Pastry - 
  • 1 box frozen puff pastry sheets 
Filling -
  • 4 cups frozen wild blueberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water
Icing drizzle - 
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar 
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp water
Step-by-Step:

Remove the puff pastry from the freezer and thaw on the counter until you can unfold it into thirds.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut each sheet into thirds, then each third in half.  So each sheet will give you 6 pastries.  (12 pastries per box.)

To each piece of pastry, score with a paring knife around a 1/4" from the outside edge, being careful to not cut all the way through.  Then with a fork, dock the inside of the pastry.

Place the pastries on parchment paper lined cookie sheets.

If you have room in the fridge, I highly recommend that you put them back in the fridge for the pastry dough to get cold again!  They will rise better and look prettier if you do. 

Bake the cold prepared pastries shells at 400 degrees F until golden brown and puffed.  This may take around 15 minutes.  Check your particular puff pastry package directions.  While they are in the oven, you can make the filling.  Mmmmm...

When they come out, use the back of a spoon to press down the scored/docked area.  Now we have created a little boat for our filling.  Don't worry, I haven't forgotten the filling!

Filling.
Mix berries, sugar, and lemon juice.

4 cups of frozen wild blueberries.      

1 cup sugar + 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice.

 Over medium heat, bring berries to a boil stirring frequently.

Make a slurry with the cornstarch and water.  

1/3 cup cornstarch + 1/4 cup water.  This seems like and insane amount, right?  But this is what is going to make it "set up" and not be runny.

Stirring as you do, add the slurry to the berries.  Continue to stir until the berries are thick.


Remove from heat and allow them to begin cooling.  You may at this point begin to expect visitors and "taste testers."


When fairly cool but not cold, fill the pastries.
okay, back to same photo as before...  We're all caught up!
Mix the ingredients for the icing:  (I made enough for a whole classroom, so you can see that what I am making here is double what I am giving you the recipe for!)

Recipe for 12 pastries:
1 cup confectioners sugar + 1/8 tsp almond extract  

1 1/2 Tbsp water.  That's it, folks!  :)  Smooth and silky.

Drizzle the icing over the pastries before serving.  If you add the icing too far in advance, it can begin to interact with the sugar in the fruit and start to liquify. 


TaDA!!!  Aren't they pretty?
Life Lesson #204.  Before we began this venture, I asked Lily if we should make them open faced (breakfast strudels), or covered (toaster strudels).  She voted for open, so the other students could see all the berries.  When she came back in later from boating and had a second look, she exclaimed "But you didn't put a top on them!"  And that is when you know that you are just NOT going to win an argument with a 5 year old cook.  Aghhhhhh!!!!!!!  

I hope you enjoyed this recipe!  If you are curious as to what else I have up my sleeve, pop on over to my Recipe Index and have a look!  You are sure to find some great recipes to make with/for your family.  

Connect with me.  If you haven't already, click here to subscribe to MenuMusings so you won't miss a thing.  I'll send you notifications of new posts so you won't have to be in a cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest or on the MenuMusings facebook page.

Order the MenuMusings Cookbook!  It is now available for immediate delivery!  With 342 full color pages and 152 recipes, you will LOVE it!  The holiday season is just right around the corner, you know...

Also, Please be sure to visit my YouTube Channel for short video tutorials on selected videos.  Watch me explain the steps of the recipes in just a few minutes!  Just one more way that I'm giving you the tools to get in that kitchen!!! Aren't you curious?  Click and see how many there are!  :)

Here's just one delicious example - Mahogany Glazed ChickenA great midweek meal that your family will love!


Here are some bonus recipes for you.
Tomato Basil Chicken

Cream Cheese Stuffed Pear Dumplings with Praline Sauce (try also with apples)

Salted Caramel Appletinis

Oriental Cole Slaw

Fire Roasted Corn Guacamole

High Class Shepherds Pie

Written Method:

  1. Remove the puff pastry from the freezer and thaw on the counter until you can unfold it into thirds.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut each sheet into thirds, then each third in half.  So each sheet will give you 6 pastries.  (12 pastries per box.)
  3. To each piece of pastry, score with a paring knife around a 1/4" from the outside edge, being careful to not cut all the way through.  Then with a fork, dock the inside of the pastry.
  4. Place the pastries on parchment paper lined cookie sheets.
  5. If you have room in the fridge, I highly recommend that you put them back in the fridge for the pastry dough to get cold again!  They will rise better and look prettier if you do. 
  6. Bake the cold prepared pastries shells at 400 degrees F until golden brown and puffed.  This may take around 15 minutes.  Check your particular puff pastry package directions.
  7. When they come out, use the back of a spoon to press down the scored/docked area.  Now we have created a little boat for our filling. 
  8. Mix berries, sugar, and lemon juice.
  9. Over medium heat, bring berries to a boil stirring frequently.
  10. Make a slurry with the cornstarch and water.
  11. Stirring as you do, add the slurry to the berries.  Continue to stir until the berries are thick.
  12. Remove from heat and allow them to begin cooling.
  13. When fairly cool but not cold, fill the pastries.
  14. Mix the ingredients for the icing.  Drizzle the icing over the pastries before serving.  If you add the icing too far in advance, it can begin to interact with the sugar in the fruit and start to liquify. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Cookbooks Have Arrived!

I am over the moon excited!  The long wait is over, and the cookbooks have finally arrived!!! Of course they would come in the middle of the day, when I had a 1:00 pm class scheduled, so I rushed home to meet this huge truck, begged him to cut one of the 68 (!!) boxes free from the rest, left him to his unloading, and sped back across town to the university.  I left a message to my students that I would be a bit late, scratched my eye and face on the open box (which I opened on the way to campus), and rushed into the lab out of breath lugging this box full of books looking like someone had just beat me up and slashed my face!  

Okay - so the look on their faces was... um.. interesting!  But oh gosh, I felt SO PROUD!

Thank you all for being SO patient!  My plan is to try and get them out to you next week sometime.  I have LOTSA signing to do, and shipping labels to be printing between now and then!  I just wanted to send this email to let you know they have indeed arrived!  :) 
One more thing.  You know how I'm always talking about having extra teenagers around here? Well last night that was definitely a bonus. Between my husband, my teenagers, and a couple of extra teenagers, they moved 2,000 pounds of books from a pallet in the garage up a flight and a half of stairs!  Yes, seriously!

It's NOT too late to order if you haven't already.  Heck no!  The books are now available on the publisher's eCommerce page, IndigoRiverPublishing,   the book webpage, MenuMusingsbook.com, and on Amazon.com.   :)



Friday, September 19, 2014

Homemade Cheesy Goldfish Crackers

Those of you who have followed me for more than 5 minutes know that I have several kiddos in the house.  So suffice it to say that we have bought our fair share of goldfish snack crackers over the years.  A few weekends ago, Lily and I got the idea that it might be fun to make some goldfish from scratch.  Now if you ask Lily, she would say "from scrap." (LOL!!!)  Now no matter what age you are, cheesy crackers are pretty darned hard to resist! 

Do you have to make them into fish shapes?  Ummm.  No.  HaHa.  Make them into circles or squares or however you fancy them.  Sprinkle them with herbs at will and have with a nice glass of wine if the mood strikes you.  But for the shorter population running around, the fish were lots of fun.  These would be great for a classroom project, those snack helper days that come around so quickly, your Sunday School lessons about being "fishers of men," etc. :)

Print this Recipe!

Ingredients:
  • 8 oz (by weight) Extra sharp cheddar cheese, freshly shredded
  • 4 Tbsp butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup All purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp table salt
  • 2 Tbsp cold water
  • Garnishes
    • chili powder - optional
    • dried oregano - optional
    • black pepper and rosemary - optional

Written Method:
So.... it became apparent that I was going to need a template for these fish, right?   I saw on the internet where some genius girl used a soda can to make a dough cutter.  Well let me not be one to re-invent the wheel!  Let's do this!  I used my kitchen shears to cut right into the thin aluminum, cut and trim a strip, then tape it together with packing tape.  Of course I had to have a few fish crackers out to use as a visual guide.  HaHa.  My 6 year old son insisted that our goldfish be larger than the originals, so if you are wondering about that, there is your answer.


Prep.  Get it all ready.  All five ingredients.  Because that's all there is to it!
Pretty cool that I even have my own cheese grater.  Isn't she a cutie?  While Lily is grating the extra sharp cheddar, I can get out all the other ingredients that we will need.  This dough comes together in a snap!
Pulse everything (except for the water) together in a food processor until it resembles coarse sand.
pulse...
Here's the "coarse sand" look.
 Pulse in the water, 1 Tbsp at a time.  Here is Tablepoon #1.......
pulse.....
Second Tablespoon of water......
pulse.... and .... now suddenly we have a blob of dough!
Remove the dough from the processor, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.  While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll out the dough out (maybe to about 1/8"?).  For reference a penny is 1/16."  Use as little flour as possible.  The more flour you use, the softer (and less crispy) the crackers will be. Cut the dough into shapes with cookie cutters (or things you have around the house).  
If you are letting your Short Chefs help you, by all means let them cut their own.  I'm sure you have some common things around the house they can use.  Lily is cutting round crackers with a small medicine dosing cup that comes with cough medicine.  She also made her fair share of fish!  :)

I used a wooden skewer for the fish eye and a toothpick to make the smile.
To bake, place the fish on parchment paper or Silpat (silicone baking mat). 
 We sprinkled some with chili powder, some with dried oregano, and left some naked!  Just have fun! 
Makes a BUNCH!  But I can't tell you how many, because people were eating them as they were cooling.  Also, it depends on the size of the cutters you are using, obviously.

Some sources recommend that you put the rolled/cut out crackers back into the refrigerator so that the butter can firm up again before baking to achieve a crisper cracker.  We did not try that, but I am passing it along to you in case you would like to do so.  Ummmm.... I don't think a thing more could fit into our fridge at this point, especially not these sheet pans.
Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 - 20 minutes or until crispy.  The baking time may depend on the type and color of your baking sheet, and how thinly you rolled them.  Allow them to cool on a wire rack, not on a sheet pan, where there could be condensation.   We did find that they were most crisp when they were freshly out of the oven, and softer the next day, so take that into consideration.
When we were originally making the crackers, my daughter was super upset that I wanted to add seasoning or herbs to some of the crackers.  She wanted them all to be plain.  I'm sure you noticed, however that she was quite "into" the sprinkling-of-the-herbs part of the recipe, despite her objections.  When they were cooked, she turned up her nose at the "naked" ones and said they didn't look as good as the "decorated" ones.  OH MY GOODNESS!!!!  The moral of this story, is that sometimes, you are just NOT going to win an argument with a 5 year old cook!

I hope you enjoyed this simple and delicious recipe!
There are hundreds more in my Recipe Index, just waiting to be chosen and cooked!  You can also visit my Film strips for pinning page, to see whole recipes at a glance, and to click-and-go right to the recipe.

The Menu Musings cookbook is sure to be a hit at your house, and will make great gifts!  For more information, here is a link!
Order your copy of the Menu Musings Cookbook! 


Also, Please be sure to visit my YouTube Channel for short video tutorials on selected videos.  Watch me explain the steps of the recipes in just a few minutes!  Just one more way that I'm giving you the tools to get in that kitchen!!! Aren't you curious?  Click and see how many there are!  :)

Here's just one example - Stuffed Zucchini! YUM!
Connect with me.    
If you are new to MenuMusings, click here to subscribe so you won't miss a thing!  I'll send you notifications of new posts to help you avoid that proverbial cooking rut.  You can also follow me on Pinterest and on the MenuMusings facebook page.

Here are some bonus recipes for you!
Oatmeal Banana Smoothies

Butterfly Snack Bags

Easy Meatball Sub Casserole

Ritzy Cheddar Baked Chicken

Blueberry Lemonade

Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake Minis

Written Method:
I used my kitchen shears to cut through the thin aluminum of a soda can, cut and trim a strip, then tape it together with packing tape to make my dough cutter.

Prep.  Get it all ready.  All five ingredients.  Because that's all there is to it!  Pulse everything (except for the water) together in a food processor until it resembles coarse sand.  Pulse in the water, 1 Tbsp at a time.  Remove the dough from the processor, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.  While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Roll out the dough out (maybe to about 1/8"?).  Use as little flour as possible.  The more flour you use, the softer (and less crispy) the crackers will be. Cut the dough into shapes with cookie cutters (or things you have around the house).  I used a wooden skewer for the fish eye and a toothpick to make the smile.  To bake, place the fish on parchment paper or Silpat (silicone baking mat).   We sprinkled some with chili powder, some with dried oregano, and left some naked!  Just have fun!  Makes a BUNCH!  But I can't tell you how many, because people were eating them as they were cooling.  Also, it depends on the size of the cutters you are using, obviously.   Bake at 350 degrees F for about 15 - 20 minutes or until crispy.  The baking time may depend on the type and color of your baking sheet, and how thinly you rolled them.  Allow them to cool on a wire rack.

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