Lemon Blueberry Cake as seen on Facebook by Delish

blueberry lemon cake

Man, the past few weeks have been nuts. Between April break, an anniversary celebration, a fun writing assignment, back-to-back Easters (American and Greek), a memorial event and Ally’s confirmation, I have lost complete track of my usual day-to-day routine.

Despite having felt a bit overwhelmed, so many good things came out of the chaos. One of which was this new recipe for a really good lemon blueberry cake. Typically, I’m not a baker but this cake kept popping up on my Facebook feed and it looked so good, I had to try it. Have you seen it? Celebrating Ally’s confirmation seemed the perfect occasion to give this fresh and spring-like sweet a try.

A Funny Faux-Pas

I followed the directions explicitly. Right down to the parchment paper liner for each layer. But, oops! Nowhere in the directions does it say to remove the parchment after baking. I totally forgot this step and served 3 layers of lined cake to all of my guests. Guess what? It didn’t matter one bit. Everyone liked the cake so much, they ate it anyway after pulling out the paper. Guests even went back for seconds. Not my finest moment, but the cake was a huge success and I would gladly try it again – parchment free, of course!!

The original recipe for this Lemon Blueberry Cake, as seen on Facebook, can be found at delish.com –Lemon Blueberry Cake.

Here’s everything you need to know…

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box vanilla cake, plus ingredients called for on box
  • Juice and zest of 1 1/2 lemons, divided, plus more zest for garnish
  • 1 3/4 c. fresh blueberries, divided (I read that some folks used frozen blueberries and the end result was just as good)
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 Thin lemon slices, for topping (I bought candy lemon wedges from Market Basket and used those instead – yummy and cute!)

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 350º and grease three 9″ cake pans with cooking spray (I bought 3 disposable pans). Line with parchment. Prepare cake mix according to package directions, then stir in juice and zest of 1 lemon.
  • In a small bowl, toss 1 cup blueberries and flour until completely coated (to keep the berries from sinking). Gently fold blueberries into the batter.
  • Divide cake batter evenly among prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes.
  • Let cool in pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and let cool completely.
  • Make frosting: In a large bowl using a hand mixer or the bowl of a stand mixer using the whisk attachment, beat butter and 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar. Add remaining lemon juice and zest and heavy cream and beat until combined, then beat in vanilla and salt. (Add remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar as desired for texture and flavor.)
  • Place a dab of frosting on cake plate (to keep cake in place) and place parchment strips on each side of the cake plate. Place down first cake and top with frosting, then top with second cake and frost. Repeat with third cake and frost sides.
  • Garnish with remaining blueberries, lemon slices, and zest and serve.

Buon appetito!

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Seasoned Pretzels from Karla’s Kitchen

With Super Bowl LIII coming up, I thought it would be a good time to post this recipe for an easy, yet addictive, crunchy snack. A crowd pleaser for sure!

I typically don’t enjoy pretzels because, and I don’t think this is a shocker, I find them dry and bland. However, when my sister Karla began serving her seasoned pretzels, I could not control myself. No sooner would I say done, then my hand would be right back in the bowl. When my Ally said she loved them too, I knew we were on to something. There’s not a lot of foods Ally loves.

Karla’s seasoned pretzels provide just the right amount of tang and crunch and to make them is soooo easy. When I first saw the simple recipe, I thought there was a step missing. Seeing that so much liquid was to be poured over the pretzels, I imagined I’d have to dry them out to achieve the dry, pretzel texture I was accustomed to.

Interestingly, the pretzels fully absorb the oil. When the pretzels have completed their overnight marinating process, you wake up to tasty, seasoned pretzels that are ready to serve.

Without further ado, I give you…

Karla’s Seasoned Pretzels

  • 40 ounce pretzels (I used 2, 16 ounce bags and it was fine)
  • 1 bottle Orville Redenbacher popcorn oil
  • 1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch dry salad dressing
  • 1 tablespoon dry dill
  • 1 tablespoon Lawry’s Seasoned Salt.

Empty pretzels into a 2-gallon sealable plastic bag.  In a bowl, mix all other ingredients and pour liquid over pretzels. Seal bag securely and mix well.  Flip bag every 15 minutes for an hour to distribute liquid.  Let sit overnight and your seasoned pretzels are good to go and go and go!

I hope you enjoy! GO PATS and thank you Karla for sharing your yummy recipe.

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Repost! Fig Jam and Goat Cheese Crostini-So Easy!

fig jam and goat cheese crostini

This is a RePost from December 2016. I just enjoyed these delicious treats as lovingly prepared by my mom and it made think it may be worth a re-post. Enjoy!


Hello Everyone,

I hope you all enjoyed a fabulous holiday. I sure did and although I’m still trying to come out of a food coma, I realize we have one more celebration that may warrant some creative cooking.

At the risk of anyone thinking 3 Olives & Twist has turned into a food blog; today I offer you one more recipe that you may find useful when ringing in the New Year. Like most foods I prepare, it is quick and easy and, if this year’s Christmas Day reviews were any indication; it’s a winner.

The star of the dish is most definitely the fig jam. I pick mine up at Stop & Shop.  It is the Bonne Maman brand which is actually a fig preserve, but any fig jam, spread or preserve should do.

The combination of the sweet fig jam paired with the tart, creamy goat cheese is the perfect sweet and savory bite. To add just a bit more texture and flavor to this easy appetizer I also add toasted, chopped walnuts which seems to elevate this four ingredient appetizer. As far as hors d’oeuvres go, these are a favorite that seem to fly off the plate as soon as they hit the table.

When I first made these tasty bites, I used the prepared filo cups available in the frozen section of the grocery store. While good, I found them a little difficult to fill and pricey when I wanted to make them in bulk. This year, I opted to use a sliced baguette as the base and found the end result to be even more successful.

If you are looking for a quick and easy appetizer to welcome in 2017, give this recipe a try.

Fig Jam and Goat Cheese Crostini with Toasted Walnuts

Ingredients

  • 1 thin baguette, sliced. I have mine sliced right at the grocery store – just ask the bakery department.
  • 1 jar fig jam, preserve or spread
  • 1, 8 oz. package of goat cheese. Bring to room temperature to facilitate spreading.
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts, toasted.

Directions

To begin, toast chopped walnuts in a dry pan. Be sure not to burn – I pull them off the burner just as soon as I smell the toasted, nutty aroma. Set aside.

Place baguette slices on a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Toast lightly in a 350 degree oven for ten minutes. Remove from oven. Generously spread the room temperature goat cheese on each piece of toasted bread. Top with a teaspoon of fig jam. Sprinkle the toasted walnuts over the fig jam.

You’re done! If the fig jam seems a little loose, pop into the fridge for ten or fifteen minutes to help them set.

Otherwise, serve and enjoy.

Happy New Year.

All my very best in 2017!

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3 Olives & a Twist at Home and Bookery Manchester – Join me!

Ingredients for 3 Olives & a Twist martini


Please join me on Wednesday, August 22 at 7pm at Bookery Manchester. This cool, indie bookstore and café is a great spot to talk travel and Musing Mediterranean. Hope to see you there.

 


3 Olives & a Twist

When you hear 3 Olives & a Twist you may think I’m talking about my blog. Often I am, however today I’m talking about my signature cocktail.

Somehow a martini with 3 olives & a twist of lemon became my go-to drink, and this blog’s namesake. It still tops my order list today, however my preferred concoction was something I only ordered at bars or restaurants until recently. I tried making it at home, but it was never quite right.

On a girls’ trip back in June, I visited my friend Sue who kindly stocked up on all the accoutrement I’d need for my signature martini. I was thrilled and equally perplexed. I didn’t really know how to make my favorite cocktail. At this time I’d like to thank Sue, Suzie and Karla for helping me finally bring 3 Olives & a Twist home!

Never to back down from a challenge, my lady friends and I approached the mission with as much cluelessness as you might expect from four suburban housewives.

Much to my pleasure, and everyone’s surprise, the end result was a perfectly smooth and delicious martini that I vowed to replicate at home.

Here’s what I learned when making my first successful 3 Olives & a Twist martini.

The Shaker

You need a good martini shaker! Sue had one and it allowed the vigorous shake that my former, at-home martinis lacked. The strainer allowed just the right amount of ice shards to slip through and add an even greater finish to the pour. Lucky for me, Julia and Ally got me a really nice shaker for my birthday and I absolutely love it. It makes making my martini so much easier and more delicious.

Look at the chill on that stainless steel. Freezing never looked so good!

The Ice

Crushed ice! Since I don’t have an ice crusher in my fridge, I had previously used cubed ice in my makeshift shaker (2 glasses locked together)-simply not the same. The result was a glass full of vodka with a bite the likes of a rattlesnake. Crushed ice made all the difference in superbly cooling the cocktail and lightening its load by incorporating a bit of air into each sip.

Vermouth

If you use vermouth at all, add just a drop or two. Too much vermouth equals a drink too bitter to swallow. Interestingly, I’ve learned from several bartenders, who have served me premium martinis, that they don’t use vermouth at all.

The Olives

I like them plain, queen-sized and in triplicate. When you purchase, be careful to notice if they are labeled tipsy. If they are, they are soaked in vermouth and that will alter the taste of your final product.

The Twist

However you cut it, use your lemon twist to flavor your rim. Rub the pith of the rind all around the glass’s edge and give it a strong squeeze over your glass allowing a touch of lemon essence to infuse the vodka.

The Glass

No matter what the trend might be, it’s a stem glass only for me. I don’t want my nicely chilled martini being warmed as I hold a stemless glass in my heated hand. Speaking of chilled, while you prepare your martini, be sure to chill your glass. Add ice and water and let it sit on the counter or place in freezer. The colder the better!

There you have it! My 3 Olives & a Twist at home. As I write this, it’s Monday night and I have officially instituted Martini Mondays.

Shaker and 3 Olives & a Twist

Cheers!

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Dairy Free Clam Chowder You Will Not Believe

dairy free clam chowder in bowl with Sriracha, parsley and lemon zest
Jen’s dairy free clam chowder dressed up with a touch of Sriracha, parsley and lemon zest


I could begin this post with some discussion of the weather but, like the gale force winds knocking down every tree in my town, I’m going to blow past that topic and talk about something more pleasant – food!

I’ve been wanting to post a recipe for some time, but the embarrassing truth is I haven’t made anything noteworthy in a long time. Thank God for good friends who are fabulous foodies and inspire me with delicacies dropped off at my doorstep that are so crazy good I had to share.

Jen Killilea is an amazing cook. Even more amazing is that she loves to share. One day she told me about a Paleo dairy free clam chowder she’d prepared. The secret…water soaked cashews!

I was skeptical. Jen generously dropped off a container full of her dairy free clam chowder and I was blown away. It was so thick, rich and creamy. I couldn’t believe that it was dairy free and that the creaminess and richness was derived from cashews. I nearly finished what Jen delivered straight out of the plastic container.

 

Look at how thick and creamy it looks!

 

If you are an ambitious home cook and appreciate dairy free options, this one is worth a try.

Another delicious dish from the Killilea kitchen. Thank you Jen!

*Jen’s tips: do not over soak the cashews and consider investing in a powerful blender like Jen’s Vitamix – worth it!

Dairy Free New England Clam Chowder (Paleo)

  • Cook Time:30m
  • Total Time:45m
  • Serves:4

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 16 ounces frozen clam meat
  • 5 slices bacon
  • 1 onion
  • 4 carrots
  • 3 celery ribs
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 cups chicken stock, or fish stock
  • 5 cups filtered water
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • fish sauce, to taste

Instructions

  1. Soak cashews in a bowl of filtered water for a few hours before you plan to use them.
  2. If you’re using frozen clams, skip to step 7.
  3. Rinse and scrub clams.
  4. Add clams to a large stock pot or wok. Cover with filtered water. Bring to a boil. Steam until clams just barely open, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Using tongs or slotted spoon, transfer clams to large bowl until they are cool enough to handle.
  6. Remove clams from shells by opening clams with a paring knife while holding over a bowl to catch juices. Sever the muscle from under the clam and remove it from the shell. Add the clams to the bowl with the clam juice. Discard the shells.
  7. Coarsely chop clams.
  8. Cook 5 slices of bacon until crisp, about 5 minutes on each side over medium heat. Chop into 1/2 inch pieces and set aside.
  9. Finely chop the onion, carrots, and celery ribs.
  10. Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. When hot, add the onions, celery, and half the salt. Sauté for 7 minutes, stirring often. Then add carrots and thyme, and sauté for 5 more minutes.
  11. When the veggies are tender, add in the clams and a few tablespoons of their juice. Stir clams around with the veggies. Then add in the rest of the salt, garlic powder, and stock. Boil, then reduce to a simmer for 3 minutes.
  12. While the soup is simmering, drain the cashews, rinse well, and add them to a blender or food processor with filtered water. Blend on high for 30 seconds.
  13. Add the blended cashews to the pot with the soup. Stir and allow everything to come to a light simmer (not a boil) again. Cook for 5 minutes.
  14. Turn the soup down to very low and cover to allow soup to thicken for 30 minutes.
  15. Add pepper and fish sauce to taste, garnish with crumbled bacon, and serve hot.

Bon Appetite!

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