Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Blueberry Muffins with Streusel topping

The last few weeks we've been making tons of fruit smoothies for breakfast. Let me tell you, I'm hooked. They are such a great way to get in some dairy (make them with natural plain yogurt), and they're perfect for the fruit that is lets say... not quite fruit tray pretty any more, yes?

Joyful foodie blueberry muffins with streusel topping

So we've gone through a TON of fruit! Its been awesome. We've finally cleaned out the section of the freezer that has had frozen fruit in it for AGES. I mean we're talking strawberries from last summer's "how much fruit could a flat of berries really be??" experiment and frozen mix bags from my last smoothie attempts ... they were misguided, and always tasted like frost bitten fruit. It doesn't have to be like that!!

Joyful foodie blueberry muffins with streusel topping

Last week I made the Peach Crisp using (mostly) farmer's market peaches. Delicious. And while I joked about eating leftovers for breakfast, I have restrained myself. That has however left this nagging want for something sweet... fruity... and baked to go with those smoothies in the morning. (Or bacon. You can never go wrong with bacon.)
Enter: THIS MUFFIN. I totally misjudged how much streusel topping I needed last week with the peaches, and I hate throwing perfectly good food/ingredients away... so I went on a muffin hunt. Found Barbara Bakes. Anyone already know her? If not, oh man, go click around her site. It's beautiful and everything looks so yummy and I can practically smell her pictures. (Oh wait, that's the muffins.)

Just don't forget to come back over here, ok??

You ready?

The BEST Blueberry Streusel Muffins

adapted from Barbara Bakes


1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/16 teaspoon salt ...basically a pinch ;)
1/4 stick butter (2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons rolled oats
2 tablespoons nuts of your choice (I like a mix of pecans and cashews)

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
2 cups blueberries, fresh*

*Barbara says you can use frozen. I really really wouldn't. Save your frozen berries for smoothies or oatmeal or tea. These stay suspended in light fluffy batter so perfectly, if they are fresh they pure explode on your tongue with tart sweet juicy perfection. Don't deny yourself that kind of pleasure. 


Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line your muffin tin with paper cupcake liners.

Prepare your streusel topping and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix first three ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt.)

In a large bowl of stand mixer, beat sugar and softened butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs, vanilla, and milk. Beat briefly. Add dry ingredients and mix just until combined.

Gently stir in blueberries.

Spoon batter into lined muffin tins. You should get somewhere between 12 and 15. They puff up really nice if you are closer to 12, but I was timid about filling my muffin tins. Don't  worry about being timid. It'll all work out either way. ;)

Generously heap streusel topping onto the muffins. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Allow muffins to rest for 5 minutes in the pan, then remove to wire rack to finish cooling.

For the streusel:
Pulse first six ingredients (flour through salt) in food processor. Add butter and pulse again. Add oats and nuts and pulse a final time.

Modifications: The second time I made this I tried half white whole wheat flour and half regular all purpose flour. It still turned out good, so if you're already making that switch it works here. It was definitely a little denser this way, but still tasty. Maybe add a tablespoon or two of oil to keep it moist and up it to two teaspoons of baking powder to help fluff the muffins.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Steamed Eggs

Don't you just hate when the night before you promised egg salad to the church/shower/social event you realize that you used all the eggs you'd been saving* and you were going to have to use new eggs?

*You know, because older eggs are easier to peel when you're doing hard boiled eggs?

Well have I got good news for you. There is a better way to cook eggs for egg salad, deviled eggs, etc. One that just doesn't require long fingernails for picking off tiny flecks of shell, leaving divots in the egg white, or cursing under your breath.


Steam them.

Steamed Eggs

from finecooking and seriouseats


Bring 1-2 inches of water to a boil in a steamer pot.
Fill a bowl with ice and water.
Place eggs in steamer basket. Cook covered 6 minutes for soft boiled, 12 minutes for hard boiled.
Spoon eggs into ice water bath. Let sit for 15 minutes to cool (and stop the cooking). Peel under running cold water.


Your turn! 
What's your best time saving (frustration saving!) technique? Does it have a recipe that it really shines for?

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Easter Menu and Timeline

Holidays are one of my favorite things. I love cooking for friends and family and spending hours talking over good food. Starting with a detailed plan helps keep things running smooth so it stays fun. I've definitely had dinner parties that stressed me out... so I'm sharing my Easter timeline to help you wrangle the to-do list and keep the stress of entertaining low!

My Easter Dinner Menu: 
Deviled Eggs
No-Knead Dinner Rolls (dough can be made the day before)
Peas with lemon, mint, and scallion
Balsamic Carrots
Potato Gratin
Carrot Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
Sweet Tea

***Important Scheduling Note!! We got a fresh local ham this year, brined it ourselves, and sous vide cooked it for 48 hours, so other than the last minute glaze making, it is excluded from this timeline. Most hams need 3ish hours to be fully heated through. Try this recipe from Pioneer Woman if your ham didn't come with directions. (Full disclosure, I haven't tried her ham recipe, but I trust her as a source.)

Two-Seven Days Before: 
Make the menu.
Read all the way through all of the recipes (even if you've made it before).
Add ingredients to shopping list. (Keep count of things like eggs to be sure you have enough by the time you're done with all recipes. I keep a tally in pencil.)
Go shopping.

The Day Before:
Make the bread dough for the dinner rolls, right up through the last mixing step. Cover and let sit in the fridge overnight.
Make and frost the carrot cake.
Make the sweet tea.
Boil the fresh peas (or thaw the frozen peas).

The Morning Of: 
Take the dough out of the fridge to let it come up to room temp for two hours.
Put the ham in the oven.
Hard boil eggs for deviled eggs. Peel, and cool to room temp.
Prepare deviled eggs, refrigerate until serving.

Two-Three Hours Before: 
Roll dinner roll dough into large marbles, placing three in each cup of well greased muffin tins. Cover and allow to rise for 1-2 hours.
Heat oven to 375°F. Clean, peel, and slice potatoes. Layer in gratin dish with cheese and seasonings, pour in heated cream. Bake for 45-50 minutes.

Forty-Five Minutes Before: 
Roast carrots at 400°F for 20 minutes, toss with balsamic glaze, roast for 5 more minutes.
Put dinner rolls in 400°F oven for 17-20 minutes.
Make glaze for ham.
Once carrots and rolls are done, turn oven up to 450°F to final roast sous vide ham.

Twenty Minutes Before: 
Cook peas.
Roast ham at 450°F for 10 minutes.

Day of cooking dishes used:
Roasting pan (ham)
Gratin/Casserole dish (potatoes)
Jellyroll pan/baking sheet with rims (carrots)
2 Muffin tins (dinner rolls)
Medium saucepan (heat heavy cream for potatoes, then peas later)
Steamer basket (eggs - could also do in medium saucepan in AM, clean for potatoes and peas in PM)

Your turn!
What is your classic Easter must have menu item? How early do you start planning and prepping?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Seafood Pot Pie

I came across this recipe card cleaning out the bookshelf recently. I have a problem with ever getting rid of a single recipe card, cooking magazine, cookbook, etc... It's really just best if it doesn't make it in the house if it isn't a winner. Recently I've been on a rampage against all things "Cream of _____ Soup". Its been so frustrating how many slow cooker meals expect a hunk of meat and can of cream of ___ soup. I find it really unappetizing. Anyone else? *Looks around for hand raises*

Cream of ____ soup is a really simple thing to eliminate. Yes, it is fast, but I promise you have the replacement ingredients in your kitchen right now. It really only takes three. Ready? Butter, flour, and milk. That's it! Of course you can get fancy... I usually add in some chicken stock (or broth, or even from bouillon cubes...) and garlic or herbs, but it depends on what you are making with it. This process starts with making a roux.

Don't worry, it's easy and tastes better than that little google provided intro makes it sound. Plus, it comes together almost as fast as opening a can of soup.

Basic Sauce


  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Chicken Stock
  • Milk


  1. Melt butter in a saucepan. 
  2. Add flour, stir until smooth paste forms. 
  3. Add milk, stir until it starts to thicken. 
  4. Add stock, stir until it starts to thicken.
  5. Alternate adding milk and stock to get the flavor you're looking for. Season at the end. 

Make sure you start with enough of the roux (flour + butter) in the beginning. Adding flour later to thicken it tends to make the sauce lumpy. For a pot pie you'll need about half a stick of butter (4 tablespoons) and 1/4 cup flour. Pasta for two you can go with about half that. Remember you can mix in seasonings to match the meal. Here are some options to consider:
  • salt and pepper
  • garlic (minced, powder, or salt)
  • dried oregano
  • dried basil
  • shredded cheese (parmesan for white pasta sauce, cheddar/swiss/gouda/etc for mac and cheese)

So now that you have the basic... see how I apply it in my remake of this recipe card from who knows what grocery store picked up in 2006 if the printing date is to be trusted.

Seafood Pot Pie
adapted by joyfulfoodie

1 cup broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-1/2 in slices
1 cup peas
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
4 tablespoons of butter
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk (more or less as needed)
1 cup stock (seafood stock ideal, but chicken or vegetable works fine too) (more or less as needed)
3/4 teaspoon dried dill
2 cups cooked seafood, such as soft-shell crab, shrimp, salmon, and/or halibut.
1 cup shredded swiss cheese (4oz)
1/2 (15oz) package refrigerated pie crust (1 crust) OR 1 sheet of puff pastry (from package of two), thawed while you work on other steps.

1) Preheat oven to 400°F.
2) Prepare vegetables.
3) Melt butter in a saucepan. Add flour and stir to form a paste. When smooth, add approximately 1/4 cup milk and stir until smooth and starting to thicken. Then add approximately 1/4 cup chicken stock and stir until smooth and starting to thicken. Alternate milk and stock until it is a smooth sauce, but not too liquidy. If it seems like you went a little too far, let it simmer for a few minutes to thicken up. As a last resort, mix in a little more flour. (This won't be too terrible a fix in a pot pie, it would be more noticeable over pasta. :))
4) Add dill, vegetables, and seafood. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, to heat seafood and vegetables through. *** Stir in cheese to melt, remove saucepan from heat.
5) Pour mixture into a casserole dish. Unfold pie crust OR puff pastry and lay it over the seafood mixture. For puff pastry I usually have to get a little creative with the arranging if its in my bigger rectangle casserole dish.  Trim any edges that hang over so they are inside the dish again. If using pie crust, cut slits to vent.
6) Bake. Piecrust = 30 minutes, Puff pastry = 40-50 minutes. You want the crust (either kind) to be golden brown.

Serves 6.

***Alternate option at step 4: In a second pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil. Saute mushrooms 3-5 minutes. Add carrots and broccoli, cook 2 minutes longer. Then add all with peas and seafood to the sauce. This will make the vegetables a little more tender and add a little depth of flavor. If you're in a hurry, its fine to skip this step, but I rarely do. :)

In my mind, this combines some of the best things ever. 1) Easy = yay. 2) Pot pie = comfort food = double yay. 3) Seafood = greater than chicken = triple yay.
Your turn! What's the big recipe swap you're into these days? Anyone with me on the cream of _bleh_ rant?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sausage, Kale, and Couscous Soup and new LIGHTER Sausage, Kale, and Couscous Soup

I've had this image of the perfect winter soup floating around my head over the last few weeks. It was hearty, like a stew, but I needed a change from chicken and beef. I imagined thick chewy gnocci floating on the surface.
So this weekend I started scrounging through the pantry and the vegetable drawer to see what we had to work with. Gnocchi was out, but I will come back to this next time - I still believe gnocchi would be superb in this. If you have some, please sub it in and let me know what you think. :)

Sausage, Kale, and Couscous Soup

A joyfulfoodie original

Servings: 5. Serving size: approx. 1 cup. WWP+: 13 (as is) - see below for lighter option.


3 cups broth (I used chicken stock from my last crockpot chicken)
2 (ish) cups water (as needed to adjust volume and flavor, depending on strength of stock)
8 oz mushrooms, quartered or smaller
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp tomato paste
4-6 cups torn kale (large bite size pieces)
2 local hot* italian sausages (more as desired) **
2 cups dry couscous

a few shakes each:
garlic powder (or 2 minced garlic cloves)
onion powder
dried or fresh parsley


Heat the stock (and some water, as needed) on the stove. While it is coming up to temp, add white beans, mushrooms, tomato paste, and spices. Cook for 5 (ish) minutes while you prep kale (if not done yet).
Slice sausages into bite size pieces (I cut the sausage in half lengthwise and then cut 1/2 inch slices).
Add sausages and kale to the soup. Cook another 5ish minutes.
Add couscous. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until couscous is soft. (I was using a blend - one of the grains didn't soften until almost 20 minutes, couscous was probably fine by 10-12 minutes.)

Serve with wine, if desired. I loved it with Lazy Bones red wine from Trader Joe's.

*If you don't have hot italian sausage, use whatever kind of sausage strikes your fancy. Consider adding a few shakes of red pepper flakes... the heat in the soup adds a nice dimension to the broth.

** I am in love with all things Nooherooka Natural. They have the best sausages, hot dogs, stew beef, bacon.... we pretty much only buy our meat from this local farm. We discovered them at the farmer's market. Switching over to local meat has been awesome - we find the quality to be immensely better, and it is awesome knowing we are voting for fair animal treatment with our dollars. If you have access to a farmer's market I strongly suggest you seek out the meat people and develop a relationship with them. It has balanced price wise because we eat less meat when we have to plan it all out ahead of time like this! :)

As I've gone back to unofficially doing weight watchers, I'm working to health-ify some of my recipes. Here is the soup lightened up a bit - still super yummy, but a great option if you want to push a few extra veggies!

Lighter Sausage, Kale, and Couscous Soup

A joyfulfoodie original

Servings: 5. Serving size: 1 cup. WWP+: 10 with regular italian sausage, 9 points or less depending on type of chicken sausage.


3 cups broth (I used chicken stock from my last crockpot chicken)
3 (ish) cups water (as needed to adjust volume and flavor, depending on strength of stock). Add bouillon if you push too much water.
16 oz mushrooms, quartered or smaller
1 cup of canned white beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp tomato paste
6 cups torn kale (large bite size pieces)
2 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
1 diced fresh tomato
2 chicken or turkey sausages, italian style
1 cup dry couscous

a few shakes each:
garlic powder (or 2 minced garlic cloves)
onion powder
dried or fresh parsley


Heat the stock (and some water, as needed) on the stove. While it is coming up to temp, add white beans, mushrooms, tomato paste, butternut squash, tomato, and spices. Cook for 5 (ish) minutes while you prep kale (if not done yet).
Slice sausages into bite size pieces (I cut the sausage in half lengthwise and then cut 1/2 inch slices).
Add sausages and kale to the soup. Cook another 5ish minutes.
Add couscous. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until couscous is soft. (I was using a blend - one of the grains didn't soften until almost 20 minutes, couscous was probably fine by 10-12 minutes.)

Your turn! What are you cooking to stay warm this winter?


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