The Baker Upstairs: April 2015


glazed lemon blueberry muffins


Because when life gets crazy, what you really need are some delicious glazed lemon blueberry muffins, right? My posting has been a little hit and miss the last couple of weeks, but for good reason. First, our apartment complex switched internet service providers, and for the life of me I can't get my laptop to connect to the internet anymore, which means that I have to tether it to my phone, which ends up being a big frustrating mess. It's kind of amazing to realize just how much I use the internet (and what a whiny baby I am when it's not working). Second (and much more important!), I got a new job! I've been working in assisted living for the last couple of years, and while it has been a really good experience for me and I have learned a lot, I've been wanting to start making some progress toward my goal of earning a DNP in midwifery and women's health. I had a job opportunity come up on the maternity unit at a nearby hospital, and decided to take it. I wrapped everything up at my previous job on Saturday and started orientation at my new job on Monday, so it has been quite a busy week! I am so excited to work with moms and babies and to learn more about women's health. Yay!

Anyway, I'm sure you know by now that I am totally a stress baker, so these lemon blueberry muffins were the natural result of all the stress I've been feeling in switching jobs! I already have a really great bakery-style blueberry muffin recipe on the blog (and they are totally fabulous) but I kind of like that these lemon blueberry muffins are completely different, both taste-wise and texture-wise. Where the bakery-style muffins are super light and fluffy, these are a little denser and moister, while packing a ton of flavor. I'd be hard pressed to say which muffins are my favorite, but thankfully I don't have to choose! :)

Glazed Lemon Blueberry Muffins

for the muffins:
2/3 cup sugar
zest of one lemon
1/2 cup (4 ounces) butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons milk
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

for the glaze:
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 teaspoons milk (more or less as needed)

Preheat the oven to 350. Line 12 wells of a muffin tin with paper liners. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar and lemon zest, and rub the mixture with your fingers to release the oils in the zest. Add the butter, eggs, vanilla, sour cream, and milk, and mix to combine. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix until just combined. Gently fold in the blueberries. Scoop into prepared muffin tin, filling 3/4 full. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. While the muffins are cooling, whisk together the glaze ingredients, adding enough milk to make a glaze that easily runs off the back of the spoon. Dip the tops of the muffins in the glaze, then let cool completely. Enjoy!

adapted from Yellow Bliss Road


taco chicken


Happy Friday! If you're following along with me on Instagram (which you totally should be!) then you know that we as a family are trying not to eat out for the next two weeks. I know that sounds like such a small goal, but between work, school, activities, and trying to keep the household running, we end up picking up fast food at least a couple of times each week. I'm so tired of wasting money on junky food, and I really want us to develop healthier habits as a family. So far we are five days in and doing well!

I actually made this taco chicken a few weeks ago and put it in the freezer for those nights when I just don't feel like cooking. (Hopefully doing a little prep work in advance will pay off in the end.) This chicken was super easy to make and so flavorful too! It's perfect for tacos, burritos, nachos... you name it! I used my new stovetop grill pan to make it but you could make it on an outdoor grill or even just sauté it on the stove. I have to confess, though, I'm kind of in love with those grill marks.

Taco Chicken

3-4 large chicken breasts (about two pounds), trimmed and cut into strips
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
juice of one lime

Preheat a grill pan (or an outdoor grill or hot skillet). In a small bowl, whisk together the cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the chicken and rub it in. Squeeze the lime juice over the top and toss to coat evenly. Cook on preheated grill pan 8-10 minutes per side, or until cooked through.


Baked Breakfast Taquitos

Baked breakfast taquitos - so easy, flavorful, and delicious!

Baked breakfast taquitos - so easy, flavorful, and delicious!

As much as everyone hates Mondays, sometimes I like getting back into the weekly routine. It feels like a fresh start for us as a family. I don't work Mondays, and it's usually the day I do my grocery shopping and my planning for the week, so I like that sense of order and accomplishment that I feel on Mondays. One of my goals right now is to make a hot breakfast for my family at least once a week. (That may not always happen, but it's an admirable goal, right?) I made these baked breakfast taquitos a couple of weeks ago, and they were delicious! They were a hit with all of the members of my family, and they kept well in the fridge for a few days, so we actually ended up having several mornings' worth of hot breakfasts (awesome!). They're very flavorful, portable, and easy to make, too!

Baked Breakfast Taquitos

2 teaspoons olive oil
12 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sriracha
1 1/2 cups grated cheese (I used a mexican blend)
1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1/4 cup sliced green onions
16 six inch flour tortillas

Preheat the oven to 425. Prepare a baking sheet by lining with foil and spraying with cooking spray. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and sriracha. Add the eggs to the hot skillet and cook, folding over with a rubber spatula to scramble, until nearly done. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese, red peppers, green onions, and sriracha.

Warm the tortillas in the microwave for a minute or so to soften them. Spoon a few tablespoons of the egg mixture into the center of each tortilla, then roll up. Place seam side down on the prepared baking sheet, then repeat with remaining tortillas. Spray taquitos with cooking spray and bake 15 minutes, or until lightly golden and crisp. Serve warm.

adapted slightly from Our Best Bites

Baked breakfast taquitos - so easy, flavorful, and delicious!


fluffy whole wheat pancakes with blackberry syrup


Every morning, without fail, my four year old Lizzy asks if we can have pancakes for breakfast. And pretty much every morning, I say no. Mostly it's because I'm busy or tired or running off to work, but it breaks my heart to see that little bottom lip poke out when I say no. Last week she asked me for the millionth time and I realized that yes, we actually did have time for pancakes! I used to make these whole wheat pancakes a lot but it's been years now since I made them, so I decided to give them another go. They are completely delicious and so light and fluffy, you really would not know that they are whole wheat! Lizzy ate four pancakes ("because I'm four, Mom!") and still wanted more, although some of that might also have been due to the delicious blackberry syrup I made to go on top.  I had some blackberries in the fridge that I needed to use before they went bad, and thought it would be fun to make a sweet berry topping for our pancakes. It turned out delicious as well, and coordinated perfectly with the pancakes. Yum!

Fluffy Whole Wheat Pancakes

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup milk (I've also made these with soy and almond milk)
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium heat. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a measuring cup, whisk together the egg, milk, oil, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Pour 1/4 cup scoops of batter onto the prepared skillet and cook until bubbles form on the surface, then flip. Cook an additional minute or so and then remove to the serving plate.

Homemade Blackberry Syrup

1 1/2 cups blackberries, chopped lightly
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon corn starch
1 tablespoon water

In a medium saucepan, mix together the blackberries and sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. While the blackberries are heating, whisk together the corn starch and water. When the fruit has reached a simmer, pour in the water mixture and stir to combine. Cook two to three more minutes, or until slightly thickened. Let cool slightly before serving.

adapted from my fresh strawberry sauce


Strawberry Cheesecake Parfait with Chinet® Cut Crystal® Tableware & Giveaway


I have such an awesome post for you today! Not only am I sharing a delicious recipe for strawberry cheesecake parfait, I am also sharing some simple and fun party ideas using Chinet® Cut Crystal® products! My daughter Lizzy turned four recently, and one of her birthday wishes was to have a princess tea party with her older sister Abby. She adores anything pink and pretty, and getting ready for the party was easy using the Chinet® Cut Crystal® line of disposable tableware.

I love this line because it's fully coordinated (everything matches, from the cutlery to the cups to the plates - they even have new stemless wine glasses!) and it goes with everything. I like that the design is simple and elegant, which makes it easy to match any party theme. Plus, clean-up is a snap and there's no sink full of dirty dishes to wash!

Lizzy chose a pretty pink tablecloth and pennant banner for decorations, and I put together some treats for the girls. Lizzy was beaming when she sat down at the table and saw all the pretty things laid out just for her!

We settled for milk instead of tea, not being big tea drinkers, and Lizzy loved using a stripy straw. The Chinet® Cut Crystal® cups were the perfect size for her little hands and very sturdy, too.

When I saw the new Chinet® Cut Crystal® stemless wine glasses for the first time, I thought immediately that they would be perfect for parfait! I love how they show off the delicious layers and they are so elegant, too. The girls couldn't wait to dig in!

These strawberry cheesecake parfaits are quick and easy to make, and so full of decadent cheesecake flavor! The cheesecake mousse layer is rich and creamy, and contrasts deliciously with the fresh strawberries and crumbly graham cracker layer. They were the perfect dessert to celebrate our little princess!

Strawberry Cheesecake Parfait

2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon corn syrup
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups strawberries, stemmed and cut into quarters
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Add the corn syrup and beat until stiff peaks form. Set aside. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla until well blended. Add half of the whipped cream to the bowl and mix until smooth. Add the other half of the whipped cream and mix until completely blended. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour.

When you're ready to serve, whisk together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of the mixture into each of four Chinet® Cut Crystal® stemless wine glasses. Scoop some of the cheesecake mousse into each cup, then top with 1/2 cup of strawberries, and another scoop of mousse. Sprinkle with more of the graham cracker mixture and serve.

cheesecake mousse recipe adapted slightly from Cooking Classy

Lizzy's princess tea party was definitely a success, and these little girls had the time of their lives!

For more great party ideas, check out the Chinet® inspiration page and Pinterest page. They have all the inspiration you need to throw a fabulous party!

How would Chinet® Cut Crystal® elevate your next get-together? Tell me in the comments below and you could win a $100 Visa gift card and a Chinet® gift pack.

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homemade chocolate pudding


This is pretty much the best pudding ever! Before I share the recipe, though, I have to share with you my favorite pudding story. When I was in high school, my aunt and uncle hosted an exchange student from the Netherlands. Since we were close to the same age, my aunt asked if I would show him around and introduce him to the city a little bit. We drove around and I showed him some sights, and then we went back to my parents' house for a snack. He started rummaging through the fridge, then turned to me with a look of horror and said, "But where is the pudding?" After talking with him for a little bit, it became clear that to him, pudding was a condiment that belonged in every fridge just like mayo or salad dressing, whereas I had always thought of pudding as an occasional (and somewhat lame) dessert that my mom made by whisking milk and powder together. We drove to the store immediately for some Kozy Shack and the pudding crisis was averted. I still can't say the word pudding without hearing it in his voice (it sounded more like poo-ding) and I giggle a little about that every time I eat pudding (which is still not all that often).

This homemade chocolate pudding is so delicious, though, that it makes me want to eat it all the time! It tastes delicious and has a perfectly silky texture, plus it's so chocolatey that it will definitely cure those chocolate cravings. It's also easy and quick to make. I did have to buy some whole milk to make it, but I had all the other ingredients on hand already. It's simple and perfect for a busy night when you still want something sweet! We topped ours with some fresh berries and powdered sugar, and it was divine!

Homemade Chocolate Pudding

1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips)
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the brown sugar, cocoa powder, corn starch, and salt. Whisk in the whole milk and heavy cream until combined. Add the chocolate chips and bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking frequently. Reduce heat to medium low and cook 2-3 minutes more, or until thickened. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla, then pour into serving dish(es). Place a layer of plastic wrap over the top of the pudding and refrigerate until cool (you can also eat it warm, but it won't be quite as thick).

adapted slightly from Mel's Kitchen Cafe


lemon poppyseed scones


I'm so excited to share these scones with you! Are they not the prettiest little things in the world? I bought a scone pan at World Market a few weeks ago and have been dying to try it out, and these lemon poppyseed scones were the perfect recipe for its inaugural use. They turned out even better than I had hoped! They're tender and moist, and so flavorful and delicious. I am absolutely in love with lemon lately and can't get enough, and these scones were perfectly lemony without being too tart or overpowering.

You definitely don't need a scone pan to make these (although the scone pan is completely adorable). They would work equally well baked on a cookie sheet instead. I love that they are so easy to make but still very impressive looking. They would be perfect for a spring baby shower or brunch!

Lemon Poppyseed Scones

1/3 cup sugar
zest of one lemon
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cold butter, grated
1/2 cup sour cream
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

for the glaze:
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/3 cup powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone liner, or spray a scone pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a medium bowl, rub the lemon zest into the sugar to release the oils. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds, and whisk to combine. Add the butter and toss to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, egg, and vanilla, then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a circle about eight inches in diameter. Cut the dough into eight wedges (I used a pizza cutter) and place the pieces on the baking sheet or in the wells of the scone pan. Bake 15-17 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove and let cool. While the scones are cooling, whisk together the lemon juice, melted butter, and powdered sugar. Drizzle over the scones while still slightly warm. Enjoy!

adapted from Our Best Bites