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Archive for the ‘Fruit’ Category

No picture – but you know what banana bread looks like.

This bread (Or cake? No, that adds calories. Bread it is) is SO good. And super easy. You don’t have to get out the mixer, all you need is a bowl and a spoon. The original recipe makes 2 loaves, but I halved the recipe and baked it in a mini-bundt pan (adorable). I also used a bit more banana than the recipe called for, and it was fantastic.

Here’s my single-loaf version:

Easy Banana Bread (Original recipe here)

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 medium overripe bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan or mini (half-size) bundt pan.

Combine all ingredients in large mixing bowl (I mashed the bananas in the bowl first, added eggs and beat a little bit with a fork, then added everything else).

Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 45 min-1 hour or until toothpick/knife comes out clean.

Cool on wire rack for at least 15 minutes before turning bread out onto tray. Cool completely before slicing, if you can stand it.

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Blackberry Pie

I’m not a huge fan of berry desserts (I know… sorry). But I do like to eat berries, and when your mother calls you and tells you she has tons of freshly picked blackberries waiting for you to come and take some home, you go and get as many as you can!

This was one of the easiest pies I’ve ever made (especially if you use store-bought pie crusts). No pre-cooking the filling, just mix, dump, and bake. It has a perfect amount of sweetness to temper the slightly-tart blackberries. And the sugar on top of the crust is just an extra plus!

Summertime, here we come ūüôā

Blackberry Pie (Recipe found here)

  • 4 cups fresh blackberries
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 recipe pastry for 9″ double crust pie
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Combine 3 1/2 cups berries with the sugar and flour. Spoon the mixture into an unbaked pie shell. Spread the remaining 1/2 cup berries on top of the sweetened berries, and cover with the top crust. Seal and crimp the edges. Brush the top crust with milk, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar.

Bake at 425 degree F (220 degrees C) for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature of the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes.

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I’m sorry these aren’t the greatest pictures, but we were so busy devouring this that I forgot to take some last night and had to take them this morning … when the pie is equally – if not more – delicious, but unfortunately loses a bit of its photo-worthiness.

Oh and sorry about taking the photo right over the oven burner … I forgot you can see through the bottom of a glass pie plate :o)

Now, I have a story to tell you. So gather round and make yourselves comfortable. Let’s call this The Story of the Dwindling Peaches.

Once upon a time, there was a girl. She was so excited at the arrival of summer, and she began looking forward to all the wonderful summery fruits. She thought of peaches, and then she thought of peach pie, which she had never made, and she vowed that she would make it that summer.

Well time went by and every time peaches were on sale, unfortunately they were very small and unappetizing-looking, or she would buy some and they just wouldn’t have any flavor. She began to despair, and wonder if she would ever be able to make a peach pie.

One day as she was grocery shopping, she saw the most beautiful peaches. They were large, round, simply gorgeous, and they smelled delicious! She wasn’t sure how many to buy to make a pie, so she bought five and brought them home. They were still very hard, so she set them in a bowl to ripen over a few days.

The next day, the girl looked at the bowl and saw only four peaches. She was confused. Did she not buy five? Maybe she did only buy four. She couldn’t remember. Well, unfortunately a classic peach pie typically takes at least five peaches, if not more – so she was not sure what she would do. She sat and pondered.

At about that time, her husband came into the room and said, “Oh, I ate one of those peaches. It wasn’t very good, it was too hard. I threw it away.”

<< Ensuing dialogue and any other actions taken by the girl at this moment have been deleted – but you can use your imagination. >>

Now the girl was in a pickle. She could make a cobbler with four peaches, but she didn’t want to make a cobbler – she wanted to make a pie. She could go to the store to buy more peaches, but they would probably be hard like the first, and would need time to ripen. She looked up some more recipes to get ideas.

And then she saw it. Peach Custard Pie With Streusel Topping, filling ingredients: 4 medium-size peaches. It was perfect! Her spirits lifted, and she began to imagine the taste of this amazing-looking pie. She could not wait to make it.

But alas, her troubles were not over. She peeled and sliced three peaches and placed them in the pie, but the fourth – oh the fourth! It was as hard as it had ever been. She had no choice but to throw that peach in the garbage. And now she only had three peaches, sitting in a single homemade pie crust. What to do?!?!

She did the only thing that was to be done. She made the pie with three peaches instead of four.

And do you know, that pie was one of the most amazing, most delicious, most glorious things she had tasted in a very long time. Her husband (who does not often eat sweets) ate one piece that night, and wanted her to save him another piece the next morning before she took the pie to work. She immediately forgave him for swiping one of her five peaches, and they lived happily ever after.

The End.

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This pie is really very easy. You could of course use a pre-made crust, but the crust recipe is simple and doesn’t take long to make. And although of course I would recommend using four peaches (one reviewer even suggested using more), if you do only happen to have three peaches, it will definitely work. The custard fiilling is delectable and compliments the peaches perfectly, and the whole pie is tied together with the delicious streusel topping. You will not regret making this pie!

Peach Custard Pie With Struesel Topping (recipe found here)

Crust

  • 1 1/3¬†cups flour
  • 1/2¬†teaspoon salt
  • 1/2¬†cup shortening or butter
  • 3-4¬†tablespoons water

Filling

  • 4¬†medium size¬†peaches
  • 1¬†(8¬†ounce)¬†container sour cream
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1¬†cup sugar
  • 1/4¬†cup flour
  • 1¬†teaspoon vanilla extract

Streusel Topping

  • 4¬†tablespoons butter
  • 1/2¬†cup flour
  • 1/4¬†cup sugar
  • 1¬†teaspoon cinnamon (Recipe says optional, but I disagree. Not optional.)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425¬įF.

Crust:
Combine flour, salt and butter with fork until crumbly. Add in water one tbs at a time until soft dough forms. Gather into a ball and roll out into a circle about 1/8 inch thick.

Place 9 inch pie plate upside down on crust and cut off excess dough, leaving 1 inch overhang. Place crust into pie plate and arrange as you wish.

Filling:
Peel and slice peaches 1/4 inch thick and place in pie shell (recipe calls for arranging them, but I didn’t bother). Whisk together sour cream, egg yokes, sugar, flour and vanilla until just blended and pour over top of the peaches. Bake for 30 minutes until custard is mostly set.

Streusel Topping:.
Combine butter, flour, sugar and cinnamon with your fingers until crumbly.
Sprinkle evenly over top of pie and bake for an additional 15 minutes until custard is set.

Note: If your crust browns too fast cover the crust with foil.

Let pie cool and serve cold or warm. Enjoy!

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Allow me to take a moment to brag.

This cheesecake was amazing.

Our receptionist of 19 years is leaving our office, so we threw her a surprise going-away party last week. This strawberry cheesecake and a german chocolate cake (made by another coworker) put on quite a show, perfect for honoring a dear friend.

This cheesecake recipe (without the strawberries, although they would have been a nice touch) was also the one I decided on last year for my sister-in-law’s wedding, after testing about 6 different recipes. It’s fantastic, it doesn’t use a water bath, it has a very unique baking technique, and I’ve never had one crack.

Enjoy!

Cheesecake Supreme (Original recipe here – but mine has several changes)

  • 2 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 5 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F… (YES that is the right temperature!)
  2. Mix the graham cracker crumbs, 1/3 cup of sugar, and the melted butter together. Press mixture into the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan, and put in oven to brown while mixing up batter (10 min. or so? I never really keep track)
  3. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, eggs and egg yolks; mix until smooth. Add the remaining 1 3/4 cups white sugar, the flour and the heavy cream. Blend until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  4. Bake at 200 degrees F for 3 hours and 10 minutes, until filling is set (my oven runs hot, so you may need a bit more time). Turn oven off, crack oven door slightly, and let sit for 1 hour. Refrigerate overnight.

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The cake is wonderful as-is, but you may top with the strawberry topping if desired:

Jelled Strawberry Topping (Recipe found here)

  • 1 cheesecake, cold and still in springform pan
  • 1¬†cup sugar
  • 3¬†tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2¬†cups water
  • 1¬†(3¬†ounce)¬†box strawberry gelatin
  • 1¬†lb strawberries, or as needed
  1. Rinse strawberries under cool water and let drain on paper towels, with paper towels over top of them also.
  2. In medium saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch, add water and cook over medium heat until thick and clear.
  3. Add strawberry gelatin and stir to dissolve. Set aside to cool down.
  4. Meanwhile, cut tops off the strawberries and place cut side down onto cheesecake THAT IS STILL IN THE SPRINGFORM PAN. Start in center and spiral out to edges. (Note: If you have a store bought cheesecake, you can carefully wrap parchment paper then plastic wrap around it to create a ‘wall’ above the cheesecake to hold the gel in til firmed up).
  5. When gelatin has cooled to almost room temperature, gently pour it over the strawberries, being sure to cover the entire top of strawberries and cake.
  6. Place in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours.
  7. Loosen cake with a knife between the cake and the pan. unlock the pan (or carefully peel off the plastic wrap and parchment paper).

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This was my contribution to a barbecue the other day with a group of our friends. The picture above shows the pie right out of the oven, bubbly and oozy and amazing. Once it cooled a bit, the juice calmed down and made this incredible syrupy goodness that complimented the apples perfectly.

In the past I have used a homemade crust recipe for this pie, which was absolutely amazing and I will do again. This time though, I was short on time so I went ahead and used pre-packaged crust. I do prefer homemade, but the pie tastes great regardless. I’ll include the crust recipe below.

My recipe differs slightly from the original in a couple ways, and I brought in a couple ideas from one or two others as well. So I’ll include a link to the original, but I prefer mine with the changes.

By the way, have you noticed that the best recipes come from somebody’s grandma?

Ruth’s Grandma’s Pie Crust (from Allrecipes.com)
[Note: This makes 3 single crusts. If using for a double-crust pie, you will have 1/3 of the dough left over.]

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups shortening
  • 3 Tbsp white sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup water

In a large mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour, shortening, sugar, and salt. Blend together with a pastry cutter until crumbly.

In a small bowl, mix egg with water. Blend into flour mixture. Chill in refrigerator until ready to use.

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Grandma Ople’s Apple Pie (original recipe here)

  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
  • 1/2 cup butter (I use regular butter, not unsalted)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 medium or 8 small apples. Choose your apples based on the sweetness you prefer. Many people use Granny Smith, but I like Braeburn or Jonagold.
  • Small amount of whisky or bourbon (or milk if you must), and 1 Tbsp sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon, and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer while you peel, core, and slice apples.

Place the sliced apples in a large bowl and pour sugar and butter liquid over them. Stir to make sure all are well coated.

Place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work of crust.

Brush crust with whisky, bourbon, or milk, and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees. Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft. Cover with foil if the crust starts to get too brown.

Enjoy the apple-y deliciousness!

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Banana bread is one of those things that everybody has made and everybody has eaten, and most everybody likes. And there are a ton of excellent recipes out there. I already have two good ones, so why bother trying any more?

Because this banana bread is better than any you have ever had.

I promise.

This bread is made with mascarpone cheese.

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And butterscotch chips.

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The result is the most amazing, tender and moist, best-tasting banana bread (cake really, but calling it a bread subtracts several hundred calories)you’ve ever tasted.

Many thanks to Dawn from Vanilla Sugar for this recipe!

Butterscotch Banana Bread – See original recipe here

2 ¬Ĺ cups all-purpose flour
1 TBSP baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¬ľ tsp salt
¬Ĺ cup buttermilk
¬Ĺ cup mascarpone cheese
6 ounce unsalted butter, at room temperature
¬Ĺ tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
3 fully ripe bananas, mashed
¬Ĺ cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour two 9-x-5-3-inch loaf pans. Make sure to grease and flour, do not skip this step!
Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
Combine the buttermilk and mascarpone cheese in a small bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl beat eggs then combine them to the buttermilk & mascarpone mixture.
Using a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the butter with the cinnamon on high speed until soft and creamy, about 1 minute. Slowly add the sugar beating continuously on high speed.
The mixture should be light, fluffy and creamy white in color. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Add one third of the flour mixture to the batter and beat until it is just incorporated.
Add one third of the mascarpone cheese mixture and mix until just incorporated.
Add the flour and mascarpone mixture in two more additions, mixing until addition is incorporated before adding the next.
Fold in the mashed bananas and butterscotch chips.
Pour the batter into prepared pan. Bake 55-65 min (be sure to test for doneness).
Cool in the pan on a rack for 5-10 minutes, then remove from pan and set on rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes:

  • Dawn strongly discourages adding nuts. She said it just doesn’t taste the same – glad she tried it so I didn’t have to!
  • My bread was incredibly soft when removing it from the pans, so much so that one of my loaves fell apart. I think some calories fell out in the process, so I made sure to taste quite a few of the broken pieces. Anyway, all I’m saying is be careful when you flip it onto the cooling rack. If it falls apart, eat it.
  • There are a lot of bowls called for in the recipe. I made my buttermilk (vinegar + milk) in a measuring cup, then dumped the buttermilk and mascarpone cheese in the small bowl with the beaten eggs. It might have saved one bowl – although if you just use store-bought buttermilk you won’t be dirtying the measuring cup, so maybe this isn’t a very good tip after all. Never mind.
  • The bread is good warm (who can resist bread straight from the oven??), but it is amazing the next day. The flavors all meld together and there is something about the tiny hint of butterscotch you get every now and then that just makes you smile.

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We went to a cookout last night and I offered to bring these cupcakes I’d been eyeing for a while at Baking and Books. I LOVE strawberry shortcake, and these were perfect for an outdoor summer evening!

This recipe is great when you’re ready for a multiple-step, completely-from-scratch process that ends in something delicious! These were good, and really not too labor intensive if you started the day before.

I didn’t alter the recipe much, so I’ll just insert my notes (and pictures) where they apply.

Strawberry Filled Coconut Cupcakes with Whipped Cream Frosting
Click here for the recipe at Baking and Books

Step 1: Make the Strawberry Filling (I did this on Day 1)

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  • 2 pounds strawberries (about 3 pints)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Remove the stems and thinly slice the strawberries. Toss them in a large bowl with the sugar and lemon juice. Let stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for 4 hours.

Transfer the strawberries to a large colander set over a large bowl to drain excess liquid. Put the drained strawberry slices in a blender and pulse until you have a thick strawberry puree (I used my immersion blender – LOVE it!). Return to the colander and allow to sit for another 30 minutes, allowing any extra liquid to drain.

*Instructions for filling the cupcakes in Step 3.

Step 2: Make the Coconut Cupcakes

Ingredients: Makes about 16 cupcakes [Note: I could have made more than 16 cupcakes, maybe even 20. You may want to plan accordingly.]

  • 2 13-to 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk (you are going to use these to make reduced coconut milk)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • About 1/2 pound of fresh strawberries

Reduce the coconut milk: (I also did this on Day 1)

Bring the coconut milk to boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until reduced by half, stirring occasionally, about 25 to 30 minutes. You can measure this by dipping the handle of a spoon into the coconut milk before you bring it to a boil, then dipping the handle of another spoon into the milk after it has cooked for 25 minutes. Compare the two handles to see if the milk has reduced enough.

Remove from heat and cool completely. Transfer to small bowl, then cover and chill. You can do this step up to 2 days in advance.

NOTE: You are only going to use 1 cup of the reduced coconut milk.

Make the cupcakes:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line sixteen (or a few more) muffin cups with paper liners.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer (YAY KitchenAid!), beat the butter in large bowl until smooth. Add the sugar and beat on medium-high speed until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add 2 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the vanilla and remaining egg, mixing well.

Add half of flour mixture and mix on low speed just until blended. Add 1 cup reduced coconut milk (I strained it in the colander to remove any little lumps) and mix just until blended. Add remaining flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake until the cupcake tops spring back when gently touched and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then gently remove the cupcakes to a rack to cool completely.

Step 3: Make the Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup sugar

In a chilled bowl beat the cream and sugar until the cream holds stiff peaks (I did this also in the Kitchen Aid mixer, with the whisk attachment).

Pre-whipped:

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Whipped!

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Step 4: Assemble the Cupcakes

With a sharp knife gently cut a little cone out of the middle of each cupcake and set it aside. Cut off the bottom (pointed part) of the cones you cut out of the cupcakes, so that you just have a little round disc.

Eat the cone bottoms you cut off.

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Now transfer your strawberry puree to a large ziploc bag and carefully snip off one corner of the bottom, creating a small opening.

Insert the open corner into the hole you’ve made in each cupcake, then press gently to insert the filling. Don’t press too hard or too much filling will come out at once. Slow and steady wins the day. You want to put a generous amount of filling in each cupcake.

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Gently place the disc over the filling hole.

Spread the frosting on the cupcakes. Start with the capped hole to prevent any straggling strawberry filling from coloring the frosting.

Remove the stems for the remaining strawberries and slice them. Place slices on top of each cupcake.

Cupcakes will keep for 1-2 days in the refrigerator.

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Hint: Be sure to cover these when you put them in the fridge so the cupcake does not dry out.

The great thing about these is that they are good, but not too sweet. The strawberries have a lovely flavor, and the cream has just enough sweetness to pull everything together. And the cupcake batter is SO good… not that I licked the bowl or beaters or anything.

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