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Sunday, July 31, 2016


I don't know about you, but I watch a lot of cooking shows.  I've picked up on some really wonderful techniques along the way and am mesmerized watching them work with knives!  I still haven't gotten the hang of dicing and mincing like the pros.....anyway, one of the shows I watch fairly regularly is America's Test Kitchen.    Now I will admit, many of their recipes are pretty involved, and they seem to go through a lot of pots, pans, and various other tools (I'm glad I'm not on the set's clean up crew) but I thought I'd give this muffin recipe a go.

I have to tell you, these truly are one of the best muffins I've tasted.  They have a really robust blueberry flavor and the lemon sugar on the top is an added bonus!  I will warn you though, it does have a lot of steps, and clean up took some time.....but all-in-all, I would say it was worth it.


For the lemon-sugar topping:
1/3 cup sugar
1 lemon

For the muffins:
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 1/8 cups plus 1 tsp. sugar
2½ cups flour
2½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1½ tsp. vanilla extract

(note:  Per America's Test Kitchen - do not substitute frozen blueberries for fresh in this recipe)


1.  Melt the butter.  Set aside to cool
2.  Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees.  Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.
3.  FOR TOPPING:  Finely grate 1½ tsp. zest from 1 lemon.  Transfer to small bowl.  Stir in 1/3 cup sugar until combined.  Set aside.
4.  FOR MUFFINS:  Bring 1 cup blueberries and 1 tsp. sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, mashing berries with wooden spoon several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is reduced to ¼ cup, about 6 minutes.  Cool to room temp.
5.  Whisk 2½ cups flour, 2½ cup tsp. baking powder, and 1 tsp. salt together in large bowl.  
6.  Whisk remaining 1 1/8 cups sugar and 2 large eggs together in medium bowl until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds.
7.  Slowly whisk in melted butter and ¼ cup vegetable oil until combined.  Whisk in 1 cup buttermilk and 1½ tsp. vanilla extract until combined.
8.  Using rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and remaining 1 cup blueberries into flour mixture until moistened.  (batter will be lumpy with streaks of flour; don't overmix)
9.  Divide batter equally among the prepared muffin cups.  (batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly)
10.  Spoon tsp. of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter.  Using chopstick or skewer, gently swirl filling into batter using a figure eight motion.
11.  Sprinkle lemon sugar evenly over muffins.
12.  Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17-19 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time.
13.  Cool muffins in tin for 5 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.

This was the first time I used truvia for baking, trying to minimize the sugar.  I was pleased that I didn't taste any difference whatsoever.  For us folks in high altitude, I did use the high altitude flour like I always do when I bake, and other than the tops not raising quite as high as (America's Test Kitchen) their picture, they held together well.    The muffins had actually spread during baking and cooked together on top of the pan, so I was concerned about getting them out, but with a knife, I was able to do okay without any of them breaking apart.  I need to do some research, since I would love to know what adjustment to make to get nice rounded tops in high altitude.  


Thursday, July 21, 2016


This is so dang easy....but so dang tasty!!  ......and after a tough work day, or an exceptionally hot summer day, it really hits the spot on two counts.  1) It's super easy and 2) It's light, and really tasty!
I had a side salad of coleslaw and some fresh cherries with my sandwich and it totally hit the spot!


2 slices of a hearty multi-grain bread
sharp cheddar cheese, sliced into thin pieces
Granny Smith apples (1 apple will make two sandwiches), sliced into thin pieces
Honey Mustard


Toast the bread.  This pre-step helps to make the outside extra crunchy!  

While you are assembling the sandwich, begin pre-heating a skillet on the stove top over medium high heat. 

Add honey mustard to one side of the bread. Layer slices of the cheese directly on top of the mustard.  Next add a layer of the apples.  Finally, sandwich the apple slices between cheese by adding another layer of cheese on top of the apple.   

Place the other slice of bread on top of the cheese.  Butter the top.  Place the sandwich butter side down into the heated skillet.  While it's browning, butter the top side of the bread.  Once the bottom side is a nice golden brown,  Gently flip the sandwich over helping to hold it all together so you don't lose any of the cheese or apples.   I flipped the sandwich one more time on both sides to get it just like I like it!

Add your favorite sides and beverage, and savor the flavors!

Switch it up, by adding thinly sliced ham or turkey to the mix....or,  change up the cheese by using brie versus cheddar.

Thursday, July 14, 2016


This bread was so tasty! Plus, it made the house smell fabulous while it was cooking.  I had some for dinner last night with my steak salad and it was the perfect side.  Loaded with flavor!!

From prep to the table it takes about 45 minutes,


1 can refrigerator biscuits
½ cup pesto
½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan Cheese
**½ cup fresh spinach

**adding spinach was not in the original recipe....glad I did though, it was yummy!


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  

Cut each biscuit into quarters.  Place in a greased oven safe baking dish.  Spread the pesto over the top of the biscuits, distributing evenly (I used a teaspoon to help move it on top and into the crevices). 

Tear the spinach into small pieces and distribute on top of the pesto.  Spread the Monterey Jack cheese on top of the spinach.  Finally, top with the Parmesan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until cooked through and the cheese begins to brown. 


recipe adapted from:

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


I've been wanting to share the gown I made earlier this year, I was hoping to have some from the actual wedding on Maui, but I haven't gotten my hands on any of those pictures yet so I'm opting from some pictures I took in my studio.

Jordin was married at the end of April on a beach in Maui, so when she contacted me she had a really good idea of what she was looking for; a chiffon fabric, short train with a slit up the left leg.   Perfect for a beach bride!

The draping I did on the bodice had a Grecian feel to it, the lace and beading underneath the draping added just the right "bridal" feel.  

The beaded belt at the waistline was loaded with rhinestones, and I placed some rhinestones, pearls and sequins on the bodice to add some sparkle to the bodice and  tie the elements from the belt together with the bodice.

The slit on the front of the gown showed off Jordin's leg as she walked, as well as when she sat.   The lace underneath the slit is a gorgeous chantilly lace, and if you look closely you'll see a short skirt layer high on her thigh making the slit just the right amount of sexy, again perfect for the beach.

I also made Jordin an elbow length cascade veil.   Nothing too long since we expected the trade winds could be blowing, and we didn't want her fighting with her veil.  

The trim has a lovely scalloped edge, it reminded me of sea shells which seemed appropriate!

Jordin and I had our first meeting in mid-December of 2015.  I took her measurements and began the process of making her muslin to perfect the fit of the gown.   When we began, I was working out of my spare bedroom since my basement studio was under construction.  By the final fitting, we were able to meet in the studio and she was able to see herself in a full-length mirror with beautiful light flooding the entire studio.

I can't wait to see the photos from the actual wedding day.  I plan to add some of those to my website, but I just couldn't wait any longer to share this project with you.....the suspense was killing me!!