Fruit Crostadas with Almond-Ricotta Crusts



I have made this crust a rather ridiculous number of times this summer.  I usually try to bring a different dessert to various social gatherings, because I have about 1000+ recipes waiting to be tested and developed.  However, this summer has been one physical and emotional roller-coaster after another. I’ve barely been able to unpack before rushing off to handle some other crisis. I’ve even been promising friends to get this typed out for them for over a month and am just getting to it now…so sorry!!! 

I got the original idea for this from Smitten Kitchen’s 4th of July inspired galettes.  I’ve tried something semi-similar that I still LOVE for blueberry crostadas and written about here.  However, I like almond flavoring better with cherries (which have been on sale) and peaches.  So I fiddled around and came up with this crust. I’ve used this with Bing and Rainier Cherries, and peaches.  This is enough dough for two crostadas…don’t half the recipe (okay unless you are single and don’t want to gain 5 pounds in one sitting, but even then wrap one well and throw it in the freezer for later.  So without further excuses/reasons for procrastination here is the recipe…

Fruit Crostadas with Almond-Ricotta Crusts


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal (I get mine from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup ricotta (I used full fat)
  • 6 tablespoons cold water
  • drop or two of almond extract (optional)


  • 4 cups berries or chopped fruit (2 cups of fruit per crostada, I’ve used cherries, and peaches with great success)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided (use the lower amount if your fruit is especially sweet)
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
  • Juice of a lemon, divided
  • Pinch of salt

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together flour, almond meal, salt, and sugar.  Add the butter and pulse until pea sized pieces of butter remain.  

In a small bowl mix together ricotta, water and almond extract if using.  Add the ricotta mixture to the food processor bowl and pulse until it just begins to come together.  Remove crust from food processor bowl and press together.  Divide it into two pieces and wrap in plastic-wrap.  Refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.  Dough can also be frozen.  (This dough can be done by hand with a pastry cutter, but I find it gets less overworked in a food processor)

When ready to assemble, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Roll out the dough into a round-ish shape about 14 inches across.  (I usually do this between wax paper).  If it is as hot in your house as it is mine, and your dough is getting soft place it in the freezer for 10 minutes or so to firm up).  

In one or two small bowls mix the fruit (if all one type mix all filling ingredients together in one bowl) with the sugar (1 1/2-2 TBSP per 2 cups fruit), cornstarch (2 TBSP per 2 cups fruit), and 1/2 the juice of a lemon per 2 cups fruit and a pinch of salt each.

Place dough on a parchment lined baking sheet (you may want to use one with sides so any escaping juices don’t make a mess of your oven).  Pile the fruit mixture into the center of the crust and spread it out leaving at least an inch and a half border all the way around.  Fold the border up around the fruit pleating it and sealing it around the fruit.  (it is supposed to look “uneven” and “rustic”).  

Place in the oven on the center rack and bake for 30-32 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let it set for at least 5 minutes.  Serve on its own or with whipped cream and/or ice cream.  







#pie crust

Of futbol and Snickerdoodle Strawberry Shortcakes (from Joy the Baker) ›

If I had any of these Snickerdoodle Strawberry Shortcakes left I would be stress eating while watching the US/Ghana World Cup game. June is strawberry month (yes, that is a thing) and there is an actual Strawberry Shortcake Day in June (don’t ask me which one, but I also know it is an actual thing…google it).  However, I’m thinking that this June will be dominated by World Cup games.  Soccer/futbol is the one sport both my husband and I like to watch (he is the non-sports watcher).  As we are both the children of immigrants with football/futbol (India/Peru) traditions we are all about the world’s sport around here.  We are also taking this opportunity to indoctrinate our children.  

These shortcakes include my absolutely favorite cookie idea and are wicked good with the new strawberries just popping up at the farmers market in my area of New England.  I highly recommend making some and hopefully your mouth won’t be full of strawberry, cream, snickerdoodle-y goodness when you need to yell “GOOOAAAALLLL!”





Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies

First official day of summer and I’m officially sick.  Ugh!  I had to have Robert drop me off at the urgent care after church because it was that bad.  Throat so sore I can barely swallow, lost my voice and pounding headache…lovely.  Not streph so just fluids and rest according to the Doc…yeah right like that is even remotely possible.  

We leave for Campmeeting on Friday and I have only one million and one things to do before then.  We are tent camping this year…don’t even get me started on what a disaster that promises to be.  Oh well.  I’m digging through trying to find easy recipes to make on a camp stove and thinking about foods that keep.  These cookies fall into the later category, though if I’m honest, they only keep if you have any left.  These cookies stay soft which I love and will take care of any major chocolate craving you have going on.  

I originally made them for the group of folks who were on one of our churches nominating committees for church officers. I figured if they were going to spend a couple hours on a Sunday night at our house in a committee (double ugh) I should at least provide them with some munchies.  I had several Nutella cookie recipes pinned and combined a couple into this one.  I hope you enjoy!

Nutella Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from  Kirbie’s Cravings and Sugar and Spice Food Blogs

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup Nutella
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and prep baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter, the sugar and the brown sugar. Add the eggs and the vanilla until combined.

4. Gradually add the flour until the mixture is just combined. 

5. Then mix Nutella. Finally add in the chocolate chips.

6. Use cookie scoop (I used my larger 1.5-2 inch or so cookie scoop you can use a smaller one just be sure to adjust cooking time accordingly) and drop on baking sheets and bake for 9-11 minutes.






Spring, Sneezing and Roasted Strawberry-Buttermilk Ice Cream

Not the greatest picture, but I had to take it outside in the little light left before the vultures, I mean my kids and hubby descended on it!

This Spring has been B.R.U.T.A.L for me.  Winter seemed to drag on and on and finally there was a little warmth.  Then things started blooming and growing and showering pollen ALL over the place! The sneezing has started and just not stopped.  I’ve been rather cranky about it I must admit.  

A couple nights ago, I decided that if I must suffer with additional allergy issues from Spring I should at least break out the ice cream maker and have some of the taste of Spring.

Strawberries have been on sale lately and even though it is a little early in New England for really good berries, but the process of macerating and then roasting the strawberries really brings out that lovely strawberry flavor.  The buttermilk and sour cream (even thought I used lowfat and light) gave it a surprising richness.  

All in all get roasting, cooling, churning people because yummy!

Roasted Strawberry-Buttermilk Ice Cream (adapted from Bon Appetit)

  • 1 pound strawberries
  • 1 cup vanilla sugar (use regular white if you don’t have vanilla)
  • 1 TBSP vanilla paste
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup sour cream (I used light)
  • pinch of kosher salt

Put vanilla sugar in a 13 x 9 x 2” glass baking pan.  Take off the stem of the strawberries and halve or quarter if large the strawberries and toss then into the pan with the sugar.  Once all the strawberries are cut up stir the strawberries into the sugar so they are coated.  Add the vanilla paste and stir to combine. Let sit while you preheat the oven to 425°F.

Place the baking pan with strawberry-sugar mixture on a jelly roll sheet covered with foil (you will thank me for this just in case you strawberries bubble over!) Roast berries, stirring occasionally, until juices are bubbling, 15-20 minutes. Let cool.

Purée berries, buttermilk, sour cream, and salt in a blender until smooth. Chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.  Process mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and freeze until ready to serve.

DO AHEAD: ice cream  can be made 1 week ahead. Keep frozen. Let soften at room temperature 15 minutes before serving.


#ice cream



I’m sure it is better than it looks: Chocolate and Cherry Bread


My BIL Russ is a man of few words.  the “I’m sure it is better than it looks” descriptor comes from him.  I brought a loaf of this Chocolate and Cherry bread to his house (along with some Gingersnap cookies which he commented were missing from my Christmas cookie offerings this past Dec.).  I haven’t really thought about the look of the bread (dark and lumpy with chunks of chocolate and cherries) until he mentioned it.  Now I admit that it is maybe not the most attractive of loafs, but that doesn’t detract from the taste.  

I saw the original recipe on Alexandra Cooks. I was a little apprehensive about trying it as A) I am new to the whole bread making thing B) most times I’ve tried chocolate bread in a non-quick bread (more cake than bread) form it has been D-R-Y! Even when trying the bread from a beloved New England Bakery with aviator-pork in the name. C) I didn’t have a cast iron dutch oven (now I do thanks to my lovely DH and a mother’s day gift) so I wasn’t sure that the recipe would work (it does).

I gave the recipe a try with a couple of changes and I can say that I will be making it again.  I ended up freezing half of it which also worked really well.  The only change I will probably have to make going forward is to not add the cherries.  Robert did not care for the tart dried cherry hit every so many bites.  I personally liked the combination, but as my kiddos tended to go with him on this one I will most likely be making this straight up chocolate bread from now on.  If you are interested in making this in a cast-iron enameled dutch oven please see the original directions.  I found it just as easy to make this way. The only other “special equipment” needed is a scale to weigh the ingredients.  I know this may be a pain, but I think that measuring this way for this recipe is what ensures it doesn’t become to dry.  My hubby bought me our scale several years ago and we use it to weigh packages to mail as well, so it isn’t a kitchen only use tool.

Chocolate Cherry Bread

14 oz. (394g) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1.5 oz (42g) unsweetened cocoa powder
2 oz. (56g) brown sugar
1.5 teaspoons kosher salt
1.5 cups (12 oz) water
7 oz. chocolate (a mix of semi-sweet (2 oz) and bittersweet (5 oz.) is what I use, but if you like your bread on the sweeter side use more semi-sweet)
5 oz. dried sour cherries, (optional)

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast, cocoa, brown sugar, and salt.

Add the 1.5 cups of water and stir to combine. The mixture will be a sticky, wet mass. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a tea towel and let sit overnight or for 12 to 18 hours.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the middle.  

Roughly chop the chocolate (you can use a food processor if you want, but I like chunks).  If your dried cherries are large you should roughly chop them as well.  Then add them to the bowl of dough.  Using a spatula (and wrist power) mix the chocolate pieces (and cherries) into the dough.

Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper.  Turn dough out onto a floored work surface.  Divide the dough in two.  

At this point you can wrap one piece of dough in plastic wrap and freeze. When you want to bake it thaw at room temperature for 2 hours before baking. 

Working quickly with the left over piece of dough form it into a loaf by fold the dough under. Place on the the parchment covered sheet pan.  Place the sheet pan in the oven and bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until the loaf sound hollow when tapped.  Move the loaf to a wire rack and cool for at least 20 minutes. 


Breakfast Enchiladas

Life has been incredibly crazy around here.  I can’t even express it.  I’ve been meaning to post this recipe for a while, but life has gotten in the way.  Our church has been doing some health/cooking “shows” for public access TV.  Here is an example of our water show with my soup recipe (starting around minute 28)

Our next show is all about breakfast…the recipe portion filmed in my disaster of a kitchen (hopefully you can’t see that…I fed the kids that morning then set up for VBS and came back and filmed…nothing like throwing everything in the next room).

This recipe is a great make ahead recipe inspired by the blog What Megan is Making.  It is also very versatile as you can mix up the filling ingredients to your liking.  I’m thinking those who like mushrooms might like to add those. 

Breakfast Enchiladas

½ a bag of Morning Star Griller Crumbles (or half lb. breakfast sausage)

2 cups frozen cubed potatoes
1 medium red pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
½ cups Chopped Green Onions
2 cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese, Divided
10 whole Flour Tortillas
1 cup ½ and ½

1 cup milk
1 cup egg substitute (equals 4 eggs)

2 eggs
1 Tablespoon Flour
Salsa, avocado and Sour Cream, To Serve

In a large pan, cook the Griller Crumbles, frozen potatoes, pepper and onion together until the onion is cooked and potatoes warmed through. Let cool slightly. Stir together crumbles-potato mixture, green onions and 1 ½ cups of cheese in a large bowl. Use a 1/3-cup measuring cup to scoop out cheese mixture onto a tortilla. Roll up tortilla and place seam side down in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Repeat until all the tortillas are squeezed into the pan.

Whisk together half-and-half, milk, egg substitute, eggs and flour. Pour over tortillas. Cover and let sit overnight.

In the morning, preheat oven to 350ºF. Bake, covered, for 30-40 minutes, or until eggs are set. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of cheese over enchiladas and bake, uncovered for 10 more minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

Serve with salsa, avocado and sour cream.



#make ahead

"Pizza" Soup

My son hates tomatoes. I blame Grandpa Z (my FIL) and Uncle Jeff (both of whom M2 adores) who are also tomato haters. Oddly enough this dislike of tomatoes does not transfer to pizza or smooth marinara sauces. However, if something has chunks of tomatoes or if it is called tomato___________ the fight over not eating it ensues.

A long-time pin of mine on Pinterest is a slow-cooker tomato-bisque type soup. We had a soup and salad lunch happening at the church and I figured this would be a good one to bring as I could be doing other things while it cooked. The original recipe is left fairly chunky and I decided that in order to get M2 to eat it I should make it smoother (I like a smoother tomato soup myself). Ultimately, he ended up liking it because it smelled like pizza and thus his new name for it “Pizza Soup”.

Pizza Soup

2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes, with juice
1 cup finely diced carrots
1 cup finely diced onions
1-2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tsp dried oregano
1 T dried basil
4 cups vegetable broth
½ cup flour
1 cup Parmesan cheese
½ cup butter
1 ¾ cup 1 % milk, warmed
¼ cup heavy cream (or just use another ¼ cup milk if you want to cut calories), warmed
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ cup fresh basil (for garnish)
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (for garnish

Add tomatoes, carrots, vegetable broth, onions, oregano and basil, and to a large slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 5-7 hours, until flavors are blended and vegetables are soft.

At this point if you want to blend with an immersion blender to take the “chunks out” do so.

About 30 minutes before serving prepare a roux. Melt butter over medium-low heat in a medium sauce pan and add flour. Stir constantly with a whisk for 2-4 minutes (or until flour is cooked). Add the warmed milk and heavy cream (if using) and whisk until it begins to thicken. Add the Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Whisk in a couple of large ladlefuls of the tomato soup. Then add the milk-cheese mixture to the slow cooker and stir all together.

Add additional basil, oregano, salt and pepper if needed (the slow cooker does a number on spices and they get bland over time, so don’t be afraid to always season to taste at the end). Cover and cook on LOW for another 30 minutes or so until ready to serve.
Garnish with additional fresh basil and Parmesan if desired.



#slow cooker


#kid friendly

#make ahead


Taking a break from cooking to pose some thoughts on commitment. Commitment is a scary idea for some and a comfort to others. I’m not so much discussing commitment in the marriage context either which is where we often push it. Yes, there are those of us who commit to marriage and work at it everyday. And as V-day is approaching that would be something fitting for this week. However, regardless of our relationship commitments we all commit to something whether work, travel, learning, spirituality family, the search for the ultimate cookie, you fill in the blank.

I tend to have an odd relationship with commitment. I’ve committed to my career in it’s various evolutions, being a mom (with a step to part time work, a complete break and back to part time work), my tall-man (with previous commitments to the wrong guys that I probably held on to for too long thus stalling marriage to said tall-man). Commitment can keep us grounded, but there are times when it can be a crutch. There are times when I mistake my “commitment” to something for what it really is… an unwillingness to change. I am odd in that there are moments when I go all out for change. I move across the country, I move out of the country, I learn something new and change like that. Then there are times that there is no way I’m changing…NOT happening (just ask tall-man).

I’m been mulling over change and commitment for the last month or so and very seriously in the last week. For the last 7 years I have been working as a curriculum consultant. However, as much as I love it, I’ve kept boxes (literally BOXES) of materials from my teaching days. I have lugged these from CA to ME to NY to OH to MA. Some of them even made the trip to Guatemala. Over the years I have gotten rid of many boxes, but I’ve kept others “just in case”. I’ve been thinking that holding on to these things is about my commitment to being an English teacher. That I will someday fulfill the dream of going back to grad school for my PhD in English. But I’ve realized that keeping these things is not about commitment. It is about being scared and having a “back-up plan”.

It has been a while since I’ve decided not to pursue my PhD in English. Some of it is pragmatism…a pastor’s wife has to be willing/able to move and that goes against the whole idea of being a tenured professor. My passion for the subject hasn’t changed, but I have broadened my interests to working with teachers, curriculum and math…eekkk! I loved teaching English to high schoolers. But it turns out I love working with teachers in math and ELA more. Even if I went back to the English classroom I would do things all different curriculum wise so it was time to let go. So tonight I spent a couple hours in the basement opening boxes and filling trashcans. My work bookshelf is now a mix of ELA, Math, curriculum resources and children’s ministry resources…Things that will assist in my current professional commitments. Tomorrow…research into PhD/Ed programs in curriculum. Time for a new commitment…and I promise cookies soon. ;)


Asian Quinoa Salad

There are recipes that become family favorites but you only make occasionally.  Then others you make once and immediately know that you will be making it regularly and often.  This is one of those recipes.  I think I’ve made it three times in the last month with the last batch being a double. 

The original recipe came from Two Teas and Their Pod.  I adjusted it some for our tastes and switched out some of the veggies that my kids will eat instead of those they won’t. 

  • 1 cup quinoa (I used a mix of white and red)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped red cabbage
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas sliced into pieces
  •  1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

For the dressing:

  • 3 TBSP lite low sodium soy sauce or tamari sauce
  • 2 TBSP sesame oil
  • 1 TBSP rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes or Siracha (optional I leave out because of the kids)

1. Add water, quinoa, and salt to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover and turn the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.

2. Place the quinoa in a large bowl and add the cabbage, sugar snap peas, red pepper, carrots, cucumber, green onion and cilantro. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes if using.

4. Pour the dressing over the quinoa salad and stir to combine.




#make ahead

Cranberry Almond Cake ›

This recipe caught my eye as I was looking for something to make for potluck.  I had a partial bag of cranberries in the freezer and figured now was the time to use them.  So glad I did.  This recipe is easy and tasty.  I would like to tell you whether or not it keeps for a couple days, but it was all gone by the end of potluck.






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