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Lemon Blueberry Cake

Jim made my birthday cake!  Yes, this is a pretty late post…  I love chocolate and it seems like so does everyone else so for my birthdays I like to go a different route.  This year I chose a lemon blueberry combo.  I used the same lemon custard I have made before for as filling.  As an option you could substitute blueberry jam for the filling.
For the frosting I was deciding between the originally suggested frosting, lemon cream cheese, or buttercream frosting and went with the original.  I don’t like to put that much sugar in my frosting so the consistency for this frosting was not very thick.
I also used two 9-inch pans instead of three 8-inch which works fine, but then you don’t have as much surface area to put the custard.  You could cut the two 9-inch layers in half to make it a four layer cake or just have some left over custard if you stick with two 9-inch layers.


Difficulty: Medium
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 min
Cook Time: ~30 min
Chill Time: 1 hour
Total Time: ~ 3 hours
Yield: 3 layer 8-inch cake or 2 layer 9-inch cake
Taste: Good


For the Lemon Custard
3 large eggs
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
1 tbs finely shredded lemon zest (outer yellow skin of lemon)
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
4 tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into small pieces

For the Cake
2 cups plus 6 tablespoons (290 g) all-purpose flour, sifted
2 teaspoons (9 g) baking powder
1 teaspoon (7g) salt
3 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup (120 ml) sour cream
1/2 cup (120 ml) whole milk
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) pure lemon extract
1 teaspoon (5 ml) lemon zest
1 cup (2 sticks)(227 g) unsalted butter, softened
1-1/2 cups (300 g) white sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature

For the Frosting
1 cup (2 sticks)(227 g) unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons (10 ml) lemon zest
5 cups (625 g) icing sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons (30 ml) fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) whipping cream (35% cream)
1/4 teaspoon (1.25) pure lemon extract
a pinch of salt
yellow food gel, optional


For the Custard
1) In a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended. Cook, stirring constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes thickened. This will take approximately 10 minutes. Watch carefully as it will go from runny to thick very quickly.

2) Remove from heat immediately and if there are lumps pour through a fine strainer (I haven’t had to do this).

3) Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted. Add the lemon zest and let cool.

4) The lemon custard will continue to thicken as it cools. Cover immediately (so a skin doesn’t form) and refrigerate until cold. I learned from making the custard from my Boston Cream Pie that if you place saran wrap over the top of the custard it will prevent a skin from forming. The lemon custard can be made several days (up to a week) in advance.

For the Cake
1) Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare three 8″ round cake pans (or two 9″ rounds) with parchment paper, butter and flour.

2) Sift dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt) into medium bowl.

3) Transfer 1 tablespoon flour mixture to larger bowl. Add fresh blueberries and toss to coat them with flour. Set remaining flour mixture and blueberries aside.  This is to help prevent blueberries from sinking to the bottom of the cake.

4) Stir sour cream, whole milk, vanilla extract, lemon extract and lemon zest in small bowl.

5) In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar, until pale yellow and very fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, until well combined.

6) Mix in flour mixture alternately with milk mixture, starting and ending with flour mixture. Stir until just combined. Gently fold in blueberries.

7) Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Bake cakes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, about 25-35 minutes depending on if you use 8 or 9-inch pans. Cool cakes in pans on racks for about 10 minutes, then invert onto racks until completely cool.

For the Frosting
1) Cream butter and lemon zest in bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, about 3 minutes.

2) Slowly add icing sugar, mixing on low speed for about 2 minutes.  Note, I do not use full amount of sugar.

3) Add remaining ingredients and beat on med-high for 3-4 minutes until very fluffy. If using color gel, add a drop or two then beat until blended.

1) Spread thin dollop of frosting on an 8-inch thin cake board or cake plate. Transfer 1 cake layer to board, face up.

2) Create a dam around the perimeter of the layer using frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a coupler, (if you have one…) then spread lemon curd (approximately 1 cup) inside the dam–this prevents the curd from reaching out over edges.

3) Top with second layer, face-up; repeat frosting around perimeter and lemon curd filling.

4) Top with third cake layer, face-down (brown smooth side up). Spread thin layer (crumb coat) of over top and sides of cake, using offset palette knife and bench scraper for smooth finish. Place cake in refrigerator for about 30 mins to chill.

5) From refrigerator and using same method, frost cake with generous layer of frosting, smoothing again.

Keep cake covered and refrigerated (for up to 2 days) but can serve at room temperature.

Master Baker Jim

Source: Sweetapolita


Chicken Enchilada Pinwheels

I made these for a party.  They were easy and made a large quantity.  I did not do a very good job at spreading the filling all the way to the edges and rolling them tightly so they weren’t as pretty and consistently “full”.

Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 20 min
Chill Time: 30 min
Total Time: 1 hour
Yield: ~80 individual pieces
Taste: Good


2 (8-oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups shredded Mexican cheese
2 tablespoons Old El Paso™ original taco seasoning mix
2 cups shredded chicken
1 (10-oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies, well drained
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4 green onions sliced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
8 burrito sized tortillas


  1. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients (except tortillas) until well blended.
  2. Spread about 1/2 cup of the mixture over the entire surface of a tortilla. Roll up tightly. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  3. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
  4. Slice into 1/2 inch slices and serve.

Source: Betty Crocker

Honey Whole Wheat Banana Bread (version 1)

This is a somewhat healthier version banana bread. It certainly doesn’t stand up to the original one here.  I didn’t have any chocolate chips on hand so I opted for shredded coconut instead for a sweet note.  I also just used whole wheat flour and not pastry flour which likely took away some good light texture.  Pastry flour has less protein content making it more airy.  So I bet it would be better as performed in the original recipe below.

I tried this version later and think it was better.  I included chocolate chips this time and it kept it more moist.

Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 45-60 min
Total Time: 75 min
Yield: 1 loaf, 12ish slices
Taste: Medium


1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 heaping cup mashed ripe banana (about 2-3 bananas)
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup nonfat plain greek yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk (I used regular milk)
1 egg
1 egg white
2/3 cup chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 8×4 or 9×5 loaf pan with cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder,baking soda, and salt; set aside.

3. In a separate medium/large mixing bowl, combine mashed banana, honey, Greek yogurt, olive oil, milk and vanilla and beat on low until smooth in consistency.

4. Add in the egg and egg white to the wet ingredients and beat again until well combined, about 1 minute.

5. Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and combine until moist — It’s important to not over mix! Next gently fold the chocolate chips into the batter.

6. Spoon all of the batter into the greased loaf pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into middle of the bread comes out clean.

Source: Ambitious Kitchen

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Chicken Cordon Bleu sure sounds fancy!  Cordon Bleu is a dish that has meat wrapped around cheese then breaded and fried.  It translates in French to “blue ribbon” and refers to the highest order of knights which wore a blue sash on their robe (which could be looked at as an apron) and has become synonymous with dishes that are prepared to very high standards or outstanding cooks.

This dish can be tricky to make just from a wrapping perspective and trying to get the chicken to retain its shape.  In this dish the chicken is also stuffed with prosciutto and baked instead of fried.

Difficulty: Medium
Prep Time: 30 min
Chill Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Total Time: 1 hr 20 min
Yield: 4 servings
Taste: Good

These are full chicken breasts.  They just didn’t wrap completely which is why you see some of the stuffing.  


4 chicken breasts skinless and boneless
4 thin slices prosciutto
1/2 pound Gruyere, grated
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup panko bread crumbs
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 eggs
Extra-virgin olive oil


1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2) Lay the chicken breast between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat mallet, gently pound the chicken to 1/4-inch thickness (the thinner it is the easier it is to roll).  Remove the top sheet of plastic and lay 2 slices of prosciutto neatly over the top to cover the breast and sprinkle a quarter of the cheese over the prosciutto.

3) Roll the breast up tightly like a jellyroll using the plastic wrap around the outside to keep it tight.  Squeeze the log gently to seal and twist both ends of the plastic wrap tightly to form a nice log. Repeat with remaining chicken.  The video here is helpful to watch the tricky wrapping process.

4) Place rolled/wrapped chicken in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes to aid in retaining its shape.

5) Season the flour with salt and pepper.

6) Mix the bread crumbs with thyme, garlic and kosher salt, pepper, and melted butter. The butter will help the crust brown.

7) Beat together the eggs and season with salt and pepper.

8) Lightly coat a baking pan with olive oil or cooking spray.

9) Remove the plastic wrap from the chicken. Lightly dust the chicken with flour, dip in the egg mixture and gently coat in the bread crumbs. Carefully transfer the roulades to the baking pan.

10) Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until browned and cooked through.

11) Cut into pinwheels and serve on top of Brussels Sprout Hash with Chicken Jus and Cranberry Chutney, if desired.

Source: Food Network

Peanut Butter Chocolate Pudding

I really enjoy baking, but if it is only Jim and I I typically don’t want to make a batch of cookies, brownies, or a pan of bars (there’s my Midwest roots on that one).  Having a smaller more individual dessert is just right and this pudding recipe you can easily half to make 3-4 servings.  The puddings took some time to make; carefully watching the pudding cook, stirring to make sure it didn’t burn, plus the added chill time, but it was good mix.  And you can certainly add whipped cream, chocolate pieces, reeses, ect to get creative.  Along similar desserts, I’ve made this tasty chocolate mousse before.

Difficulty: Medium
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Chill Time: 2 hrs to 1 day
Total Time: 2.5 hours
Yield: 6sih individual servings
Taste: Good



Peanut Butter Pudding

1/2 cup sugar
5 teaspoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups whole milk (I substituted skim milk and it worked fine)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (I substituted regular whipping cream, also fine)
1/2 cup creamy (smooth) natural peanut or almond butter (made with only peanuts and salt)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate Pudding

6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk (again, skim works fine)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (again, regular whipping cream is fine)
4 ounces imported milk chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Optional Topping
1 cup chilled whipping cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar


Peanut Butter Pudding

1.Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large saucepan to blend.

2. Gradually whisk in milk, then cream. Whisk over medium heat until mixture comes to boil. Then boil until thick, whisking constantly, about 30 seconds.

3. Whisk in peanut or almond butter; boil until thick again, whisking often, about 1 minute longer. Remove from heat; whisk in vanilla.

4. Divide pudding among six 1-cup glasses or dishes (generous 1/3 cup each). Chill uncovered while preparing chocolate pudding.

Chocolate Pudding

5. Whisk sugar, cornstarch, coco powder, and salt in heavy large saucepan.

6. Gradually whisk in milk, then cream. Whisk over medium heat until mixture comes to boil. Boil until thick, whisking constantly, about 30 seconds.

7. Add chopped chocolate. Boil until chocolate melts and pudding is thick again, whisking often, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat; whisk in vanilla.

8. Cool pudding 5 minutes. Spoon atop peanut butter pudding, dividing equally (about 1/3 cup each).

9. Chill puddings uncovered until cold, at least 2 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.

Optional Topping
Whisk cream and powdered sugar in medium bowl to soft peaks. Spoon topping onto puddings and serve.

Source: Bon Appetite

Sweet and Spiced Roasted Nuts

This is a quick easy snack I have made for some parties and is adaptable to other types of nuts.  I chose pecans.

photo (5)


1 pound nuts (pecans)
2 tbs melted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs light or dark brown sugar
OPTIONAL: 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper for extra spice


  1. Preheat oven to 325 deg F
  2. Toss pecans with melted butter and scatter on a 9×13-inch pan.
  3. Roast nuts in oven stirring once or twice until fragrant and golden about 12-15 min total time.
  4. Mix salt and sugar in a medium bowl, add hot pecans, and toss to evenly mix.
  5. Return nuts to baking pan and continue to roast to melt the sugar slightly about 3 minutes longer.
  6. Cool slightly before serving.

Source: Perfect Recipes for Having People Over, Pam Anderson


Quinoa Gado-Gado Bowl

This is a pretty easy good weekday dinner option.  Gado-gado is an Indonesian dish typically served with rice and steamed vegetables a peanut sauce dressing.  Here the rice is substituted with quinoa.  The initial recipe only called for 1/2 cup of quinoa which was not enough for Jim and I.  There’s plenty of sauce and veggies for 2, but I’ve increased the recipe below to 3/4 cup quinoa which still puts us at likely no leftovers.  Increasing to 1 cup would give us a leftover serving.

Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Total Time: 30 min
Yield: 2 servings
Taste: Good



3/4 cup white or red quinoa, well rinsed and drained
1.5 cup water
1 cup (100 g) greens beans, trimmed
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
3/4 cup (25 g) mung bean sprouts
2/3 cup (46 g) thinly shredded red cabbage
2 whole carrots, thinly sliced with a knife or mandolin

1/3 cup (80 g) salted creamy peanut butter (or sub almond butter, cashew butter, or sunbutter)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) soy sauce
2-3 Tbsp (30-45 ml) maple syrup (to taste)
3 Tbsp (45 ml) lime juice
1 tsp chili garlic sauce, 1 Thai red chili, minced, or 1/4 tsp red pepper flake (more to taste)
Water to thin (0-2 Tbsp)

Lime wedges
Red pepper flake


1) Heat a small saucepan over medium heat and add rinsed, drained quinoa. “Toast” for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, to remove excess liquid and add a nutty flavor to the quinoa. Then add water, stir, and bring to a low boil. Then reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 18-20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Fluff with a fork, remove lid, and set off heat.

2) While quinoa is cooking, steam green beans until just tender. You can do this either in the microwave (covered, in 1-minute increments) or by placing green beans in a steamer basket inside a large saucepan filled with 1 inch of water. Bring the water to a simmer on medium-high heat, cover, and cook until just tender – about 4 minutes.
Once steamed, add green beans to a bowl of ice water to “shock” them (stop them from cooking). Set aside.

3) Make peanut sauce by adding peanut butter, soy sauce, maple syrup, lime juice, and chili garlic sauce/Thai chili/red pepper flake to a small mixing bowl and whisking to combine.  If needed add water 1 Tbsp (15 ml) at a time until a desired semi-thick but pourable sauce is formed.

4) Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more soy for saltiness, lime juice for acidity, maple syrup for sweetness, or chili garlic sauce/Thai chili/red pepper flake for heat!

5) To serve, divide quinoa between 2 serving bowls and top with green beans, red bell pepper, mung bean sprouts, and carrots. Serve with peanut sauce and any additional toppings (optional), such as cilantro, lime wedges, and red pepper flake.

Peanut sauce keeps for 1+ week.

Source: Minimalist Baker