Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wild Berries in the Park


The little forested area and park near my apartment is more productive than one might think. There's wild columbines along the trail, and stinging nettle (edible), and I even found some morels this spring at the edge of a grassy park area.

But my favorite time of year is when the blackcaps ripen, which are also at the edge between grass and forest. They aren't much, but it's just enough for the breakfast bowl in the morning. It seems the bushes are less productive with each passing year, but hopefully they'll rebound on their own.

There's also a raspberry bush mixed in, but I haven't spotted it yet this year.



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Monday, July 6, 2009

fastfood@home: Applebee's Maple Butter Blondie

Applebees Maple Butter Blondie Copycat Now this isn't from the restaurant. It's made from scratch!

Applebees may have some mediocre food, but their Maple Butter Blondie is pretty good. It's not a normal blondie, however, it has a cake-like texture, topped with vanilla ice cream and a creamy maple sauce. Chopped walnuts are sprinkled about for good measure.

If you're like me, you wouldn't mind having seconds. So why not make it at home and you'll be on your way to a real sugar coma.

Walnut Maple Butter BlondieI've tested a few of the other copycat recipes out there, but they didn't seem quite right. Either the blondies were fudgy in texture, or the maple sauce was a brown sugar base. Those traits don't match Applebees' dessert.

So I mixed and matched a few recipes to come up with a cake-like blondie, with a light colored sauce. I’d say the sauce is spot on. But the blondie isn’t exactly like Applebees’ quite yet, but it’s pretty good.

Printable Version


1 ½ sticks butter (12 Tbs.) melted

3/4 c. granulated sugar

4 large eggs

1 Tbs. vanilla extract

2 ½ c. flour

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

1 c. chopped pecans or walnuts

1 c. white chocolate chips

Maple Sauce

1 c. cream

½ c. white chocolate chips

¼ c. granulated sugar

1/4 tsp. maple extract

1 c. sour cream

Scoop of vanilla ice cream


  1. In a mixer, blend butter and sugars until creamy.
  2. Add vanilla, then add eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated.
  3. Mix in flour, baking powder and baking soda.
  4. Fold in white chocolate chips and nuts.
  5. Grease a 9 by 13-inch glass pan and smooth top of mixture with a spatula.
  6. Bake 350° for 25-30 minutes.

For Sauce

  1. Combine cream, chips and sugar in a saucepan and cook, constantly stirring on medium heat right until bubbly and thickened. Be careful not to burn the sugary sauce.
  2. Remove from heat and add maple flavoring and sour cream. Sauce will thicken more as it cools. This is about as close as you'll get to the Applebees sauce if I do say so myself. :-)

To Assemble

  1. Cut brownies and top with a scoop of ice cream, then top with sauce and sprinkle with more nuts.

Tightly cover any left-over blondies.

Maple Sauce Blondie  Walnut Blondie with Maple Butter Sauce





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July Fourth

CUFIREWORKS-1 I hope everyone had a great July Fourth holiday. I had the chance to test out my camera to capture some great fireworks.

This is on a hill overlooking Saint Paul, Minnesota. There was quite a crowd, and one kid near us seemed to enjoy it. He clapped wildly at every little spark in the sky.FIREWORKSjpeg-1 FIREWORKSjpeg-2

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Friday, July 3, 2009

What Organic Really Means Under Federal Law

onions and kohlrabi As with all food in this great U-S of A, wording is not as clear and you would think, and "Organic" is no different. Here's a good little list of what that organic labeling really means.

I do wonder why organic products cost more...Aren't they saving money by not buying pesticides?

"100 Percent Organic" products must show an ingredient list, the name and address of the handler (bottler, distributor, importer, manufacturer, packer, processor) of the finished product, and the name and seal of the organic certifier. These products should contain no chemicals, additives, synthetics, pesticides or genetically engineered substances.

"USDA Organic" products must contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients. The five percent non-organic ingredients could include additives or synthetics if they are on an approved list. The label must contain a list that identifies the organic, as well as the non-organic, ingredients in the product, and the name of the organic certifier.

"Made With Organic" products must contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients. The label must contain a list that identifies the organic, as well as the non-organic, ingredients in the product, along with the name of the organic certifier.

If a product contains less than 70 percent organic ingredients, it cannot use the word "organic" on the packaging or display panel, and the only place an organic claim can be made is on the ingredient label.

from Washington Post

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Pickled Beets

pickled beets I'm still going through all the great vegetables I got from the farmers' market. If anything, it's forcing me to eat my veggies. There's something great when you know you're eating things that were pulled out of the ground that morning.

So when I spotted beets for $1 who could pass that deal? I love beets. They're really, really earthy with a unique flavor. I wanted to make something light and summery with them, so I decided on pickled beets. Don't forget to save the greens, they're great with some bacon and onion.

  • 1 bunch (4 or 5) beets
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • Salt and pepper

1 Remove greens from beets, save for future use (see beet greens recipe). Cut beets to uniform sizes so they will cook evenly. Steam or boil around 30 minutes or until done. (Alternatively, you can roast them by wrapping them whole in foil and cooking them in a 350°F oven for about an hour.) A fork easily inserted into the beet will tell you if the beets are done or not.

2 Drain the beets, rinsing them in cold water. Use your fingers to slip the peels off of the beets. The peels should come off easily. Discard the peels. Slice the beets.

3 Make the vinaigrette by combining the cider vinegar, sugar, olive oil, and dry mustard. Whisk ingredients together with a fork. The dry mustard will help to emulsify the vinaigrette. Adjust to taste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Combine beets and vinaigrette in a bowl and allow to marinate for a half hour at room temperature.

Serves four.

pickled beets

from Simply Recipes

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