Showing posts with label Fruit Dishes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fruit Dishes. Show all posts

04 August 2013

It's time for this month's Secret Recipe Club! The Secret Recipe Club is a group of food bloggers who secretly make one of someone else's dishes and post them all on the same day at the same time.  It's really fun, choosing a recipe to make, making the recipe, then reading about everyone else's recipes.  It's a great way to "meet" other bloggers and check out some great blogs that you never knew about before.

Secret Recipe Club

This month I was assigned to Sarah's blog, The Pajama Chef.  I've been following Sarah's blog for quite a while since we've both been in Group A for a long time now.  I also felt a special connection to Sarah when I learned that she was a student at Indiana University, which is my alma mater.  (I attended the campus at Fort Wayne.)  Go Hoosiers!  Sarah has a really great blog with some amazing recipes.  Despite the fact that July was crazy busy for me, I ended up making two of Sarah's recipes.  The first one was her Salmon with Lemon, Tarragon, and Garlic Sauce.

I was excited to try this because I had never cooked with tarragon before.  It was really good, but I used the wrong kind of mustard (regular Dijon instead of whole grain) and the sauce turned out a bit salty.  I fixed this problem by thinning it out with water, but that made it a bit thin, obviously.  It was still really good and my husband raved about it.  I will definitely try it again using the right kind of mustard.  I ended up liking the fresh tarragon more than I thought I would and look forward to cooking with it again.  (And btw, that is some purple jasmine rice that the salmon is sitting on.  It was a mix of white, black, and purple, and I had no idea that the purple color would bleed and infuse the whole thing.  Made for a weird-looking picture!)

The next recipe of hers that I tried was her Peach Shortbread Bars.  We had out-of-town friends staying with us overnight so I made these for dessert.  We had five kids ranging in age from 1 year old to 5, and these bars were a hit with everyone!  They are so easy to throw together, but they definitely deliver the "wow" factor.

Peach Shortbread Bars

1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3 cups flour
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 cup butter, softened
1 egg, beaten
2 peaches, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced 

Preheat oven to 375°. Coat a 9×13 inch pan with baking spray. 

In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, baking powder, flour, and ginger. Using a pastry blender or two forks, incorporate butter and beaten egg into the dry ingredients. Mixture will be crumbly.  Reserve 1½ - 2 cups of the crumb mixture and press the remainder into the bottom of the pan, pressing down to set. Cover crust with peach slices in a single layer. Top with reserved crumbs. 

Bake for 30 minutes, until topping is golden brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.

Yield: 24 squares.

The only change I made to Sarah's recipe was to use powdered ginger instead of cinnamon and nutmeg.  I just really love the combination of peaches and ginger, so I had to try it.  I would say that the ginger flavor is pretty muted, being easily overshadowed by the gorgeous peaches.  

 Aren't they beautiful bars?  I love how the pretty red parts of the peach slices make an appearance.  Our friends thought they had two different kinds of fruit in them.

I am so glad that I had Sarah's blog this month, because I not only got a chance to cook with an herb I had never used before, but I also got a fantastic summer dessert recipe to add to my collection.  Thanks Sarah!

18 July 2013

It's time for this month's Improv Challenge!   The premise of the Improv Challenge is easy: each month there are two assigned ingredients.  The participants must make a recipe using both ingredients and blog about it.

This month's assigned ingredients were peaches and herbs.  I thought about it for a while, and then somehow decided I wanted to do a pizza.  I hadn't made pizza for a while, so I guess I thought it was time.  And I had been wanting to try making pizza on the grill for a long time, so I finally took a leap of faith and gave it a go.  The recipe I made is an adaptation of a Martha Stewart recipe.  She used prepared pizza crusts in her recipe, but I wanted to make it from scratch, so I used my go-to pizza dough recipe and then for the grilling method, I consulted my "barbecue bible" How to Grill by Steven Raichlen.  So three sources came together to create this masterpiece!  It's a grilled pizza with creamy Brie, bright sweet peaches, salty prosciutto, and fresh basil.

Grilled Peach Prosciutto Pizza

Balsamic vinegar
4 peaches
1 lb. pizza dough
4 wedges spreadable Brie
4 oz. prosciutto, torn into large pieces
Fresh basil, torn

Set up your grill so there is a hot side and a cool side.  Pour some balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until reduced by half.  Set aside.

Cut peaches into ½” slices.  Place peach slices on hot side of grill and flip them as soon as they develop grill marks.  As soon as they have grill marks on both sides, remove them from the grill and set aside.

Split your dough ball in half.  Place one half of the dough on an oiled baking sheet and gently stretch the dough to form a rough rectangle about 9x13”.  Gently lift the dough by one end and flop it on to the hot part of the grill.  Keep a close eye on it.  Once it’s firm enough to move, slide it the cooler part of the grill.  When the bottom is browned and blistered (3 to 5 minutes), turn it over and cook the other side.  

Once crust is cooked, spread half of the Brie over the top of it.  Top with half of the peaches and half the prosciutto.  Remove from the grill and sprinkle with the torn basil and drizzle with the balsamic reduction.

Repeat with the other half of the dough and topping ingredients.

Makes 2 pizzas, about 4 servings.

 Isn't it gorgeous?  Not only a super combination of flavors, but an amazing combination of colors too!

 This is the Brie that I used.  It's a lot like Laughing Cow.

 My mise en place while heating up the grill.  I ran out of time and didn't do the balsamic reduction; I just used it straight out of the bottle, but it was too thin.  Next time I will take the time to do the reduction.

 Dough getting all grilled and yummy.  Since this was my first time grilling pizza dough, it wasn't perfect.  There were some white places (as you can see above) and some black places (not shown).  But it really wasn't too bad for my first time.  You really need to keep an eye on it.  And I was kind of rushing because I had somewhere to be that night.  

 Isn't it pretty?  It really does give the pizza an incredible flavor that you don't get in the oven.  I can't wait to try it with all kinds of different toppings.

 I didn't leave the pizza on very long after I put the toppings on.  I pretty much put them on and then immediately took the pizza off the grill.  The Brie will melt right away since the dough is hot and the peaches already have grilled flavor to them, so it's not necessary to leave it on.  You don't want the basil to cook.

I was very pleased with the outcome.  A friend from church was mowing the grass outside our fence while I was making this, so my husband ran a piece out to him when he stopped for a break.  He loved it.

If you haven't tried grilling pizza yet, I encourage you to do so.  It was really fun.

Check out all of the other peaches and herb recipes below, and come back next month to see what I make with vanilla and chocolate!

08 June 2013

Guess what? I've joined another monthly blog challenge.  I just love monthly challenges.  Probably the first time ever that I have enjoyed homework!  It is really fun finding and creating recipes to fit certain challenge criteria.  That's when I jumped at the chance when Wendy from The Weekend Gourmet invited food bloggers to join in her new monthly challenge: The Salad Bar.

I was excited to join this challenge because salads are not something I make very often, and when I do, they are pretty much the most boring salads ever.  I really needed something to nudge me to make more salads and to be more creative with them.  So this monthly challenge is just perfect.  Every month Wendy will give us an ingredient or theme and we have to make a salad that fits and post the recipe on the second Saturday of the month.

Wendy kicked things off by announcing that this month's theme would be berries.  Great timing, as berries are coming into season and they are perfect in summertime salads.  The only salad I had ever had that contained berries was a spinach salad with strawberries.  It's a classic, and for good reason.  Really yummy. But I wanted to make a salad that I had never tried before.  I did lots and lots (and lots!) of looking around online to find a unique salad recipe containing berries.  Finally, I found what I was looking for.  The Curvy Carrot posted a Berry Caprese Salad that I just had to try myself.  If you aren't familiar with traditional caprese salad, it has three components: basil, tomato, and mozzarella.  One of the great things about caprese salad is how beautiful it is with those three colors.  Shanon at The Curvy Carrot had the genius idea to swap out the tomato with berries.  She used both strawberries and blueberries, but I kept mine simple with just strawberries.  She used slivered almonds for crunch, but I decided to go with pine nuts, which fit with the Italian theme of caprese salad.  I don't have exact measurements, and probably won't for most of the salads that I post, because I think it's best with salads to just put in however much you like.  Eyeball it.

Strawberry Caprese Salad

Baby spinach
Chiffonade of fresh basil
Fresh strawberries, sliced
Mozzarella pearls
Toasted pine nuts
Balsamic vinaigrette (three parts olive oil to one part balsamic vinegar)

Layer each individual salad plate or bowl with the spinach, basil, strawberries, mozzarella, and pine nuts.  Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette.

These are the "mozzarella pearls" that I used.  They are perfect because they are bite-sized, no cutting into pieces required.  If you can't find these, just get some fresh mozzarella and cut it into bite-sized pieces.

If you are not familiar, "chiffonade of basil" means little ribbons of basil.  Here's how you make them: take one fresh basil leaf and roll it up the long way.  Take your knife and cut it into thin little rolls.  When you unroll them, they look like crinkly ribbons.

This salad is so good!  I wasn't sure how much I would like it, but I loved it.  The mozzarella really helps cut the acidity of the dressing and the strawberries.  And basil and strawberry go so well together.  It really is a super combination of flavors.

I don't recommend making this like a tossed salad.  I tried that, but the balsamic vinaigrette is so dark that it soaks into the mozzarella and makes it quite unappetizing.  It's best served individually.

Thanks so much for starting this new challenge, Wendy!  I can't wait to see what everybody else made.

Come back next month when the theme will be picnic or potluck salads.  Think potato salad, slaws, etc.  There's lots to work with there!

14 May 2013

A whole new world has been opened up to me.  (Do you have that dorky Disney song in your head now? Sorry!)  What is this new world I speak of?  Baked oatmeal.  I have seen lots of recipes for it, and it always looks and sounds really good, but I had never tried it before.  I decided to finally give it a try this weekend, and it turned out to be a special Mother's Day treat I gave myself!  I had some frozen peaches that needed to be used up, so I googled "peach baked oatmeal" and found a post on Becky Bakes.  (I happened to notice that it was posted on the day my youngest daughter was born. It was meant to be!)  She originally made the oatmeal with blueberries, and then had to post again when she tried it with peaches because it was just so good.  I changed her recipe just slightly; here's my version.

Peach Baked Oatmeal

4 tbsp butter, melted
2 ½ cups peaches, fresh or frozen (partially thawed), chopped
4 tbsp brown sugar, divided
¾ cup milk (I use vanilla soy)
½ cup honey
2  eggs 
½ cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups rolled oats
1½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350°. 

Pour butter into the bottom of an 8” or 9” square baking dish. Sprinkle peaches and 2 tbsp brown sugar on top of the butter. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the milk, honey, eggs, oil, and vanilla.  In a large bowl, whisk together oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix well. Pour over the fruit and smooth the top. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tbsp brown sugar.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until browned on top and fruit is bubbly. Allow to cool slightly. Serve as-is, or with milk or cream. 

Makes 6 servings.

To make ahead: Assemble as directed, excluding the 2 tbsp of brown sugar on top.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  In the morning, remove dish from fridge and preheat oven.  Uncover, sprinkle with 2 tbsp brown sugar, and bake as directed.

Oh my goodness, this was amazing!  It's perfect because the oats on the bottom get all soft and yummy, mixed with the fruit and the butter, and the oats on top keep their shape and get kind of crunchy.  It's the best of both worlds!  The main change I made to Becky's recipe was to use canola oil instead of another 1/2 cup of butter.  It was perfect that way, and slightly healthier. I also used more fruit than she did.

My husband and five-year-old daughter loved this.  My almost three-year-old wasn't impressed, but I'm not sure she's ever had oatmeal before, so she probably just needs to get used to it.

There are several great things about this recipe.  One: I love how it can be made ahead of time.  I'm not a morning person, so putting together a dish like this (easy as it is), is not what I want to do first thing when I wake up.  It's so easy to put together the night before, then just pop in the oven when you wake up.  Perfect.  I will probably make it an 8x8" next time, mostly because my 8" dish has a lid and my 9" dish doesn't.  Two: You can make this with any fruit you want.  I told my daughter we would do blueberries next because they are her favorite.  I also want to try it with strawberries.  It would be good with apples too.  And you can use fresh or frozen.  I used frozen peaches that I had partially thawed.  I'll update this post with more pics as I try it with other fruits.

Update: This is really good with cranberries!

Cranberry Baked Oatmeal

For the cranberry oatmeal, chop up 2 cups of fresh cranberries and use them in place of the peaches above.  (I pulsed them in my little 3 cup handy chopper.)  Everything else is the same.  I thought it might need more brown sugar since the cranberries are more tart than the peaches, but it was just fine the way it was.  My daughters loved this.  Here are some pics of them enjoying it.

Three-year-old Eva gobbled hers up and asked for more.

Five-year-old Lena loved hers too.

I know this will be going into regular rotation at our house from now on.

Come back on Thursday to see my post for this month's Improv Challenge.  This month's ingredients were cinnamon and sugar, but I didn't go the baking route.  I made something that you can use lots of this summer.

29 October 2012

Did you miss me last week?  As I explained on my Facebook page, I decided to take the week off from this blog to get caught up on my family blog.  I was about four months behind!  It worked out well, I got nine posts published, some of them with as many as 73 pictures, and now I am only a little less than 2 months behind. Yay!

But it's good to be back here sharing fun recipes with you.  Even though I wasn't posting last week, I sure was cooking.  I think I made at least 7 recipes last week that are blog-worthy.  As promised, here is a fun Halloween-themed treat.  I was signed up to bring snacks to my daughter's preschool on Monday.  I wanted to do something with a Halloween theme, but nothing freaky or scary like severed fingers or bloody eyeballs.  I also wanted it to be somewhat healthy; nothing that was pure candy or cookies.  I did some searching around and found some adorable white chocolate-covered banana pops that look like ghosts at Gina's Skinnytaste.  While hers were dipped in white chocolate, one of the commenters mentioned making them with yogurt instead.  I thought that was genius.  Same result, but healthier. So that's how I made mine.

Boo-nana Yogurt Pops

12 bananas
32 oz. carton vanilla yogurt
48 mini chocolate chips
Popsicle sticks

Spread parchment or wax paper on two baking sheets.  Open carton of yogurt and stir it well to remove any lumps.

One at a time (so they don’t brown), cut each banana in half.  Insert the popsicle stick into the cut end.  Dip the banana half into the yogurt container.  Pull it out and let any excess yogurt drip off.  Place two mini chocolate chips on it for eyes.  Lay it on the baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining bananas.

Place baking sheets in freezer on a level surface.  Freeze for several hours or until solid.  Keep frozen until ready to eat.  Eat quickly, as they are not pretty when they melt!

Makes 24 pops.

These were a huge hit.  Lena reported that her classmates liked them and her teacher wrote on Facebook wall saying that she liked them too.  I didn't need the full 24 for the class, so Lena has been asking for the leftovers every morning for breakfast.

The other thing I changed from Gina's recipe was that she cut her bananas into fourths.  I thought they were just fine cut in half.  You can probably coat more than 24 halves with that amount of yogurt.  I did have some yogurt left over, but not much, and I'm not sure how many more I could have done.  The only problem I had with them was that some of the sticks wanted to come out as I was pulling the banana out of the yogurt.  I used a spoon to support the banana and then the stick froze in place during freezing so it wasn't that much of a problem.

Too bad these won't work to hand out to trick-or-treaters!

Update 10.18.13:
Women's Health Magazine featured these banana pops in their article "Halloween Recipes That Are Actually Healthy".

24 September 2012

I'm obsessed with apples this month.  When I went to the store last week, I bought three bags!  I have been putting them to good use, too.  This is the coffee cake I  made for church yesterday.  This recipe comes from Emeril Legasse.  I've never been a fan of Emeril, but this recipe came up in a search result and looked too good to pass up.

Apple Brown Sugar Coffee Cake

½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1½ cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream (light is fine)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
2 cups peeled, cored, and chopped apples (I used 3 small Gala)
Crumble Topping:
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup flour
½ tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp butter, softened
Brown Sugar Glaze:
½ cup brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp water

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a 9x13” glass baking dish with baking spray.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.  Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Fold in the apples. Pour into the prepared baking dish, spreading out to the edges.

To make the topping, in a bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and butter, and mix until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the topping over the cake and bake until golden brown and set, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.

To make the glaze, in a bowl, combine the sugar, vanilla, and water and mix until smooth. Drizzle the cake with the glaze and let harden slightly. Serve warm.

Makes 24 servings.

If you (for some odd reason) need to use up a bunch of brown sugar, this is the recipe for you!  Yep, it takes a whole 2 cups of brown sugar.  Definitely not diet food, but coffee cakes rarely are.  My crumble topping didn't turn out quite right, but it's because I melted over-softened the butter.  Not as pretty looking, but still good.  And the brown sugar glaze didn't come out like Emeril's picture.  My glaze just soaked in to the coffee cake so you couldn't really even see it.  Emeril's had definite drizzlings.  Don't know what I did wrong there.  On my cake, the glaze just ended up making kind of a crunchy top to the cake, which wasn't bad.  But next time I might just leave it off.

Topping aside, this is a very good coffee cake.  Moist and delicious.  The apples were the perfect consistency: not too hard and not too soft.

I served this at church alongside Cinnamon Blondies (recipe to follow sometime soon), and I managed to come home empty-handed.  Between those two recipes, I used up every last bit of brown sugar and all-purpose flour I had in the house that day!  In fact, I needed flour to make a gravy for dinner that night (to go with my Cider-Mustard Pork Sirloin Roast, also coming soon), and I had to use bread flour.

You won't be hearing much from me the rest of the week as I will be taking a little blogging break, but I will be back next Monday to share with you a recipe as part of a memorial tribute to a fellow blogger.  Have a great week.

12 September 2012

I realized that it has been a while since I shared a new muffin recipe with you, so how about I fix that?  One day last month I decided to make some muffins and went scrounging around in the kitchen for ingredients.  I was in the mood for a fruity-type muffin, but as it was nearing grocery-shopping day, I didn't have much fresh fruit in the house.  Then I remembered that I did have a pretty good-sized mango still on the counter.  I wasn't sure if mangoes made good muffins, but a quick Google search yielded many results.  A lot of them called for dicing the mango, but the recipe that caught my eye was one that called for a mango puree.  I thought that sounded really interesting.  It came from a blog called Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.  Here's my slight adaptation.

 Mango Muffins

1¾ cup flour
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp powdered ginger
½ cup canola oil
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
1¾ - 2 cups mango puree
1 tsp vanilla extract
Sugar in the Raw

Preheat oven to 375°.  Coat a muffin tin with baking spray.

In one bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and powdered ginger.

In a larger bowl, mix the oil, sugar, egg, mango puree, and vanilla extract.

Mix the flour mixture into the mango mixture until all the wet ingredients are just moist. Do not overmix. The batter should be lumpy, like pancake batter, rather than smooth.  Divide the batter equally among the 12 muffin tins.  Top each muffin with a sprinkling of raw sugar.

Bake for about 17 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out almost dry, with a few crumbs sticking to it.

Let cool for a couple of minutes before unmolding.

Makes 12 muffins.

The recipe called for 2 cups of pureed mango, and I wasn't sure I would have enough since I only had one mango.  It can be quite difficult to get all of the flesh off of a mango pit.  I ended up with 1¾ cups; I thought that seemed close enough!  I did increase the amount of oil slightly to make up for having less liquid with the mango.  It originally called for 6 tbsp, so I made it an even half cup.  The original recipe also called for nutmeg, but I used ginger instead.  I think ginger and mango go really well together.

I used my handy-dandy square muffin tin.  They are smaller than regular muffin cups, so I think I got about a dozen and a half out of this recipe.  I just love the beautiful orange color.  

Anne from Authentic Simplicity chose to make this recipe when she was assigned my blog for the Secret Recipe Club in March 2013.  Click on the button below to check out her post!
Secret Recipe Club

Now I ask that you indulge me for just one quick "proud mama" moment:

I didn't post on Monday because I was busy taking my oldest daughter, Lena, to her first day of school.  She is starting her second year of preschool.  She looks so grown up wearing her sassy new clothes and sporting her new My Little Pony backpack.  She absolutely loves school and couldn't wait to go back.  I know she'll have another great year.

07 September 2012


I'm doing double duty today!  You're getting two great recipes today.  I already posted my Crazy Cooking Challenge recipe for Homemade Smoky Ranch Dressing, and now I'm sharing with you my first fall dessert of the year.  This is part of an apple-themed blog hop hosted by Savannah of Hammock Tracks.  I saw this awesome dessert over at Life As A Lofthouse, and I couldn't wait to try it.  

Caramel Apple Crisp Pizza

1 refrigerated pie crust (for 9” pie)
⅔ cup sugar
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon
4 medium apples, peeled and thinly sliced (I used Golden Delicious)
½ cup flour
⅓ cup brown sugar
⅓ cup quick or rolled oats
1 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp butter, softened
Caramel sauce, for drizzling
Vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 350°.  Remove pie crust from fridge and let sit for 15 minutes before using.  Lightly dust a 12” pizza stone or pan with flour.  Carefully unroll pie dough onto the pizza stone and smooth out any wrinkles or cracks.

Combine sugar, 3 tbsp flour,  and 1 tsp cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add apples and toss. Arrange the apples in a single layer over the pie crust to completely cover it.

Combine the ½ cup flour, brown sugar, quick oats, 1 tsp cinnamon, and butter in a bowl and then sprinkle evenly over the apples.

Bake at 30 minutes or until apples are tender. Remove from oven and immediately drizzle with caramel sauce. Cut pizza into slices and serve warm with ice cream.

Makes 8 servings.

Isn't it beautiful?  This was the perfect way to kick off fall in my house.  This pizza is so good!  I used Golden Delicious apples and they were just perfectly soft and tender.  The perfect companion to the crunchy oat topping and the sweet caramel sauce.  

 It's really good by itself, just with the drizzle of caramel sauce. . . .

. . . even better with some whipped cream, but the best way to eat it is warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream like in the first picture.  So good!  

I made this on Labor Day.  We had some family in town and had a little cookout.  Unfortunately, our family wanted to get back on the road and left while this dessert was in the oven.  They have no idea what they missed out on!  But as you can imagine, my husband and I just said to ourselves, "More for us!" :)

This was the perfect way to kick off fall baking and desserts.  I can't wait to bust out the pumpkin!

Be sure to check out all the other great apple recipes in the list below.