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Monthly Archives: August 2014

Two Sisters, Serial #7 and Strawberry Cheesecake Frozen Yogurt

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How about a Labor Day present from Reading and Recipes?

For little old me?

Yeah, that’s right, just for you.

What kind of present?

How about a yummy frozen dessert that’s skinny, healthy, inexpensive, and easy to make?

Lead me to it!

Well, you’re there. This Strawberry Cheesecake Frozen Yogurt is all of those things–a Labor Day present from R&R!

Aww, isn’t that sweet!

And we’ll throw in a story for good measure–Brooke and Leah eavesdropping on the world from their hideaway under the pier.

A yummy dessert and a story too?

Our Labor Day present just for you! (Might almost think it was your birthday . . . .)

strawberry cheesecake ice cream

Strawberry Cheesecake Frozen Yogurt

6 ounces strawberry Greek yogurt

2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup milk or cream

1 cup chopped fresh strawberries, divided

1 8-ounce container whipped topping (such as Cool Whip), room temperature

2 sheets graham crackers, broken up into small pieces

strawberry cheesecake ice cream close up

Add the yogurt, cream cheese, vanilla, milk, and 1/2 cup strawberries to a blender. Puree the ingredients together. Add the whipped topping to a mixing bowl. Pour the pureed strawberry mixture over the whipped topping and mix ingredients together. Lastly, fold in the remaining 1/2 cup of strawberries and graham cracker pieces. Once everything is combined, pour the mixture into a container with a lid. Place the container in the freezer for 2-4 hours, stirring every hour.

Once the ice cream reaches your desired consistency, scoop the ice cream into individual serving bowls. This ice cream is best served the same day to ensure a smooth and creamy texture. If you have any leftovers, cover and store them in the freezer for up to a week. Remove any leftovers from the freezer 15-20 minutes prior to eating to allow the ice cream to soften.

Serves 3-4.

strawberry cheesecake ice cream1

{Adapted from Cooking to Perfection}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #7 of “Two Sisters”.

Two Sisters, Serial #7, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters, Serial #7, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters, Serial #6 and Banana Blondies

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How about a trip to the beach?

The time of year is right (in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway)–summer is winding down but not over yet, the days are still warm and long, the water is refreshing but not cold (most places), and there are no hurricanes lurking on the horizon. Sounds like it’s time to head to the beach.

And that’s just what Brooke and Leah do in Two Sisters, Serial #6. Their family rents a cottage at the beach and the two girls embark on the kind of adventures that can only happen during a summer vacation at the beach. Tag along if you like.

Or, if maybe you’re headed to the beach for your own version of adventure and sun and surf, mix up a batch of these Banana Blondies. They practically exude beach! They’re quick to make, easy to transport, don’t require refrigeration, and are appropriate for breakfast, lunch, or dinner–or a mid-afternoon pick-me-up when you wake up from that nap on the blanket and need a little jolt of sugar to get you going again.

Oh, and they’re blond–well, “blondie.” You know, like the sun in your hair bleaching it blond, or some jerk in the lifeguard chair yelling “Hey, Blondie!”  Come on, work with me here. I’m trying to develop a theme–got to hit all the angles, no matter how lame.

Oh, and Leah’s hair is blond, though nobody calls her “Blondie.” Brooke’s hair is brown, but I think she’d still like one of these Banana Blondies. It is the perfect beach food. Maybe they’ll mix up a batch and take it to their secret beach hideaway next week. Stay tuned.

 banana brownie

Banana Blondies

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup mashed banana (1 large ripe banana)

banana blondies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 5×7 inch baking pan and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon together. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter and brown sugar. Once those ingredients are combined, add the egg yolk, vanilla, and mashed banana. Mix all of the wet ingredients together until well combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients, stirring until just mixed, careful not to over mix.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until the blondies are set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the blondies from the oven and let cool completely.

If you want to make a honey glaze to drizzle on top of the cooled blondies, combine 2 teaspoons of honey, 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar, and a few drops of water. Mix until no clumps of powdered sugar remain and lightly drizzle over top.

Makes 4 blondies.

banana bars

{Adapted from Gold Medal Flour}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #6 of “Two Sisters”.

Two Sisters, Serial #6, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters, Serial #6, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters, Serial #5 and Zucchini Bread Muffins

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“Now eat your vegetables!” How many times did we hear that as kids?

And today some of us are moms and dads telling our kids “Now eat your vegetables!” What goes around comes around, I guess.

(Or tell our dogs. Ever notice how your dog will pick out certain shapes of dry food to eat, and avoid the other shape? I wonder if those ones they leave are vegetables? “Now eat your vegetables, Maggie!”)

But if vegetables were in the form of these Zucchini Bread Muffins, you wouldn’t have had to be forced to eat them. Kids (and adults) would be lining up out the door. Now I know, the brown sugar and cinnamon and vanilla (and optional nuts or choco bits–yum!) help the zucchini out just a little bit and maybe change the nutrition equation a tad, but never mind them minor details. We’re eating zucchini, right? Says so right in the name, Mom! So there.

Brooke is getting a dose of parental “guidance ” in this week’s short conclusion to the chapter of Two Sisters started last week. And guess what? Brooke doesn’t like it one bit! But then a funny thing happens–what started out as a distasteful chore becomes a major life and growth experience through an unlikely discovery. It’s not exactly like the healthy benefits of zucchini gained through a yummy muffin, but it’s close. Take a listen or look by clicking on the links below the recipe.

  zucchini bread

Zucchini Bread Muffins

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 egg white

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup grated zucchini

1/3 cup chopped walnuts or chocolate chips, optional

zucchini bread muffin

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place five paper muffin cups in a regular size muffin pan, and set aside.

Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. In a separate mixing bowl, beat together the egg white, oil, brown sugar, and vanilla extract. Add the sifted dry ingredients into this mixture and slowly stir ingredients together. Fold in the grated zucchini (and nuts or chocolate chips, if using).

Divide the batter between the five prepared muffin cups. Bake for 32-36 minutes, or until the muffins are set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 5 muffins.

zucchini bread muffins

{Adapted from All Recipes}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #5 of “Two Sisters”.

Two Sisters, Serial #5, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters, Serial #5, text © Jeffrey Anderson



Two Sisters, Serial #4 and Blueberries and Cream Cake

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Now it’s back to basics.

After our brief excursion into kid food (wasn’t that fun? make you feel like putting training wheels on your mountain bike?), it’s time to come back down to earth. And if it’s August and you’re baking desserts, there’s probably blueberries somewhere in that reality check. And at R&R, that blueberry connection takes the form of this delicious Blueberries and Cream Cake.

No disrespect to good old traditional blueberry pie (love it!) or the tried and true blueberry buckle (nothing better when it comes to a summertime breakfast or brunch buffet). But I’m going to go way out on a limb and say that this Blueberries and Cream Cake is the best blueberry dessert of all time.

I know, that’s a big claim. But I’m a certified blueberry fanatic, and I’ve eaten blueberries in about every form they can be eaten. And in my book, this is the best blueberry dessert of them all. Part cake, part pie, part trifle, and chock full of yummy blueberries, it’s blueberry heaven on a spoon, or fork, or whatever means you use to get it from the pan to your mouth.

I should know–I’ve been eating this cake my whole life (thanks Mom!). I loved it (I’m told I once ate a whole pan all by myself, at age three!) long before I’d tried one of those toaster tart things or an oatmeal cream cookie. For me, it is kid food that made the transition to adult dessert. Lucky me.

So give it a try. Then it will be lucky you!

pinterest blueberries and cream cake

Blueberries and Cream Cake

2/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided

1 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

4 Tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

3-4 Tablespoons milk

1 pint fresh blueberries, washed and stemmed

pinch of ground cinnamon

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

1 egg yolk, beaten

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

blueberries and cream cake

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 5×7 baking pan and set aside.

In a bowl, mix together 2/3 cup flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 tablespoon sugar. Using a fork or pastry cutter, cut the cold butter into the dry ingredients until a crumbly mixture is achieved. Add 3 tablespoons of milk and mix until the dough starts to come together and is just moistened, careful not to over mix. If the dough is still dry, add one more tablespoon of milk. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll it out until it’s about 1/4 inch thick. Lay the dough into the greased pan and press up the bottom and sides of the pan.

To make the filling, toss together the blueberries, 1 tablespoon flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, and a pinch of cinnamon. Pour the blueberry mixture into the crust. Place the cake in the oven and bake for 17-20 minutes, or until the crust is lightly brown at the edges. Remove the cake from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

In a clean bowl, beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg  yolk, 2 tablespoons sugar, and vanilla into the whipped cream. Spread the whipped cream mixture over top of the warm blueberry filling. Return the cake to the oven and bake for another 10-14 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and light brown. Remove the cake from the oven and cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Serves 4-6.

blueberry and cream cake

Click below to listen to or read Serial #4 of “Two Sisters”.

Two Sisters, Serial #4, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters, Serial #4, text © Jeffrey Anderson