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Fruit Crostadas with Almond-Ricotta Crusts

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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

Pastry

  • 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)

Filling

  • 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.  

Comments

#pie

#fruit

#cherries

#peaches

#almonds

#pie crust

Strawberry and Vanilla Buckle

This cake is rustic and simple looking, but so wicked yummy!  There are a number of myths/folklore surrounding the name “buckle”.  My favorite is that the cake is so full of fruit that it “buckles”.  

The recipe comes from Rustic Fruit Desserts by way of Bon Appetit.  The recipe that appeared in the magazine was made with cranberries and orange.  The recipe calls for some vanilla crumb.  I made a triple batch of the vanilla crumb and put it in the freezer.  Now this recipe comes together in a couple of minutes.  

Vanilla Crumb

1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
 3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated vanilla sugar
1/4 cup packed (1⅞ ounces) light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

In the bowl of a food processor, process the flour, sugars, salt, and butter until coarse crumbs form.  Drizzle the vanilla extract over the crumbs and pulse briefly to distribute.  Store leftovers in the freeze for future use.  

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature, for pan

1 cup Vanilla Crumb

1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter

3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated vanilla sugar

2 eggs

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (or half extract half vanilla bean paste)

1/2 cup (5 ounces) sour cream

2 cups sliced strawberries

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch square baking pan with nonstick spray. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. 

Using a handheld mixer with beaters or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and vanilla-sugar together on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition, then stir in the vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the sour cream in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. 

Fold in 1 cup of the strawberries. Spread the mixture into the prepared pan. 

Distribute the remaining 1 cup strawberries over the cake and sprinkle the crumb topping over the strawberries. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until lightly golden and firm on top.

Comments

#fruit

#dessert

#cake

#buckle

#make ahead

#breakfast

#strawberries

#vanilla

Cooking School Recipes

This past Sunday my fellow bloggers from Project Kale and I made food for a cooking school/tasting at the church. The theme of this event was Healthy Food for Healthy Kids (or as my husband likes to call it “good food for picky kids and their fathers).  The idea was to give parents, grandparents or just those looking for some healthy ideas for food some alternatives to processed food.  Ali and Ann from Project Kale showcased vegan options for kids.

Now I know there are plenty of baked goods/sweets etc. on this blog that definitely don’t fall into the category of “health” food.  These sweets are not for everyday consumption (at least at my house)I know it isn’t realistic for most people to give up sweets entirely. Though there are those strong people out there.    My portion of the presentation was to look at transition foods, or alternatives to highly processed foods.  While there are plenty of sweets for when you want the occasional dessert posted here, it doesn’t mean that my kids get full access to them, or that most of them don’t leave the house to be shared with others.  I enjoy baking and sharing the love…I just know that by waist-line and overall health wouldn’t love me if all I ate were the sweets posted so I try to share our “real” day to day food as well.  Either way please feel free to share the love of cooking and food with those you love.

For the cooking school we had the idea of making edible centerpieces out of fruit and veggies with various dips.  I have found that a small TBSP of dip on a plate surrounded by either veggies or fruit means that my kids will eat said veggies/fruit. For instance, I had a little fruit dip leftover and brought it home.  Along with her supper of some Roasted Garlic Soup Maya ate the majority of two apples, several bunches of grapes, a mandarin orange and a couple strawberries with about 1 1/2  TBSP of dip.  

My dip was the Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Fruit Dip since originally making the recipe I have found that it still is amazing with 1 8-oz. fat-free cream cheese and 1 8-oz. 1/3 fat cream cheese.

Ann and Ali from Project Kale made a vegan Cookie Dough dip which I can’t find the link to at the moment.  So please check back!

For the veggies, I made a wicked simple Greek Yogurt Dip.  I LOVE Greek yogurt because the 0% fat kind is still rich and creamy.  For the veggie dip I used 1 cup of yogurt and then 1-2 TBSP either basil pesto or sun-dried tomato pesto.  During the summer when I grow my own basil and tomatoes I make my own pestos, but for this event I bought Le Grand brand. Left over pestos are great as sandwich spreads as well.  I have also used these dips as an alternative to mayo potato salad.  You just boil the potatoes as usual and mix with a basil pesto-Greek yogurt dip.  Yummy!

For breakfast items I made my Chai Spiced Coconut Granola (one vegan one regular).  I served it plain and as part of a parfait with strawberries and non-fat Greek yogurt.  Parfaits in small tuperware type cups are great for on the go meals in the morning as well.  Just layer your fruit and yogurt the night before and put some granola in a snack size ziploc bag.  Then grab it on your way out the door, top the parfait with granola and enjoy!

From Project Kale for breakfast there were Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

For the lunch option from Project Kale there was  "Cheesy" Broccoli Orzo and Energy Balls

The supper option was my Caribbean Black Beans and Rice .  I love this recipe because it is so wicked easy.  Hello it is done in a slow cooker!  I also talked about how any left overs could be used in burritos, or this Mexican Lasagna.  If you’ve read my blog before you know I’m all about cooking once and eating twice.  

 Ann and Ali made Meatless Balls with Mashed Potato Frosting…so cute! I’m sure they will post some pictures.

For dessert there were some no bake cookies (again need to look for the link to Project Kale so please check back) and my Mango Crumble Bars (vegan and regular).  

It was a lot of fun and if you are ever in the Dayton area please check and see if there is a cooking school going on! 

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Comments

#vegan

#baking

#mango

#oat

#rice

#beans

#fruit

#vegetables

#dip

#granola

Brown Sugar Cream Cheese Fruit Dip

This picture doesn’t do this dip or the strawberries justice.  It is so wicked easy to make!  I’ve been testing some dips to make for fruit and veggies for an upcoming cooking class where the focus will be on healthy good foods for kids.  My kiddos usually eat fruit no matter what the form.  But I know that isn’t always the case for other people’s children.  Vegetables are a different story for another day…

I got the bones of this recipe from Dine and Dish.  Then I tweaked if to be a bit more of my tastes.  Ultimately, this dip has some of my absolutely hands-down favorite flavors.  Out of the many sugars in my pantry dark brown sugar is my fave!  This dip also has two different kinds vanilla and cinnamon.  I used Penzy’s double strength vanilla (I also love Trader Joe’s vanilla) and vanilla bean paste.  I also used Penzy’s China cinnamon (really flavorful “regular” cinnamon) and Ceylon (or Mexican) cinnamon.  If you don’t have Ceylon cinnamon you can omit it or add some more regular cinnamon.

I served this with a variety of fruits.  Our favorites were apples and strawberries.

Brown Sugar Fruit Dip


2 8oz packages light cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 Tablespoons vanilla (used 1 TBSP double strength vanilla and 1 TBSP vanilla bean paste
1/2 tsp cinnamon + ¼ tsp Ceylon cinnamon

  1. Using an electric mixer, mix the softened cream cheese for about 2 minutes on medium speed
  2. Add the brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon and continue to mix until ingredients are full incorporated
  3. Place in 2 small bowls and serve with fresh fruit

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Comments

#fruit

#dip

#cream cheese

#vanilla

Thanksgiving Food Round Up…Recipe #1 “Caribbean” Rice

Being a vegetarian on Thanksgiving can be a little tricky.  What is your “main dish”? is the question I’m always asked the most.  Even if you eat turkey or some other meat Thanksgiving dinner can still be a total carb-fest that sends you into a carb-coma the moment you finish eating.  This is particularly true of a vegetarian eating a bunch of “sides” as the meal, because let’s face it the sides are where it is at!

This year’s Thanksgiving was supposed to come in two stages:

  1. On Wednesday we were going to have a “Thanksgiving” dinner with my brother-in-law and his family.  I was going to make “Caribbean Rice” which my husband loves.  Not sure why it is called Caribbean as I don’t think it has any “Caribbean” flavors, but that is what his mother called it so that is what it is…Then I was going to bring an Asiago cheese dip (warm) with bread for snacking in the afternoon and for the veggie “main” some Veggie “Meatballs” with sweet and sour sauce (still working on this recipe).  However, my sister-in-law got sick so we ended up staying home.  So for supper we ended up having the rice and the meatballs with some veggies and fruit.  For dessert we had some awesome pumpkin roll that my friend Becky made.  I will be beating the recipe out of her soon because it was a pumpkin party in my mouth! I also made Apple-Pecan-Almond Baklava which tastes really good, but the bottom layer stuck to the pan. 
  2. Actual Thanksgiving day I tried to keep things simple as it was just our little family.  That and my kids have decided that they would like to be picky eaters this week.  Really?  On Thanksgiving?  But those are the facts.  We had a normal breakfast.  A snack of Nicole from Baking Bites Pumpkin Cinnamon Bun Cake which is awesome!  It was my first successful baking with yeast experience.  Lunch was Southwestern Tabbouleh as we had to keep in light.  Then supper was:  Asiago dip and bread, haricot vert (French green beans) with garlic butter, Thyme Roasted Multi-colored New Potatoes, and a Savory Bread Pudding.  For dessert there was the Blackberry-Cream Pie.  

I will be posting the recipes in a couple different posts so that it will be easier to search for them later, but here is the first the “Caribbean” Rice dish I got from my mother-in-law who can’t remember where she got it from.

BASMATI RICE WITH DRIED FRUITS AND NUTS

 

¼ cup unsalted butter

1 Small yellow onion, minced

1 ½ Cup Basmati Rice

3 ¼ Cup  Water

¾ tsp Salt

Freshly ground pepper

¼ tsp Cinnamon

¼ tsp allspice

¼ cup raisins

¼ cup dried cranberries

½ cup dried apricot halves coarsely chopped

½ cup toasted pecans coarsely chopped

 

In a saucepan over medium heat melt butter and add onion sauté stirring about 10 minutes or until tender.  Meanwhile rinse rice and drain well.  When onion is ready add all ingredients to pan except pecans.  Bring to boil, reduce to low cover and cook without stirring for 20 minutes.  Do not remove cover. 

Check to see if rice is done.  If not cook a few minutes longer until rice is tender or water is absorbed.  Add pecans and toss to combine.  Serves 6 

 

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Comments

#Thanksgiving

#rice

#fruit

#side

Dessert Party August 2011

My friend Jen had the brilliant idea for a dessert party which she is hosting at her house today.  I can’t wait!  I’ve tried to eat healthy yesterday and today (so far) so I can sample lots of goodies.  I even had a dream about the apple dumplings that my friend Becky is going to bring.  I haven’t even had them yet!

I’m bringing a peach clafouti which I’ve blogged about before so I won’t go on and on here.  I knew it was going to be something peach as that is what I have a bunch of right now and want to make sure they are used up before we go out of town.  Jen requested custard-y thing versus pie type thing so clafouti it is!

I also had 3 oranges and some cream cheese that I wanted to use.  Baking Bites  had a recipe for Chocolate Chip Mini Cheesecakes  a couple of days ago and I thought I would make an orange version to bring along as well.  The recipe only makes 8 cupcake size cheesecakes which is nice as a little treat.  They also keep for several days (if you have them around that long).  Now time for the confession:  I don’t like cheesecake.  I’ve made a lot of them over the years, but they aren’t a dessert I enjoy.  My husband, however, really likes baked cheesecake.

I thought they turned out good for cheesecake, but Robert didn’t like the chocolate chips in them.  He just likes cheesecake…plain.  Not sure where the fun is in that but to each his own.  So I will be getting a second, third, fourth etc. opinion for friends at the party today.  

I doubled the recipe so I’m giving amounts of orange for a double.  But you can obviously easily 1/2 the recipe and guesstimate the orange amount.  I thought that the original recipe called for too much crust and chocolate chips so I’ve included my amounts here.

Mini Orange Chocolate Chip Cheesecakes

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 TBSP brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 8-oz cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 fat)
  • 4 TBSP sour cream (or Greek yogurt) 
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of 3 oranges
  • juice of one orange
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (can use any you like)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 8 cups of a muffin pan with paper liners.


In a medium bowl, make the graham cracker crust. Mix together graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and salt and stir to combine. Pour over melted butter and stir with a fork to moisten the crumbs.
Place about a tablespoon of crumb mixture in each of the prepared muffin cups and pack down into an even layer.


In a large bowl, make the cheesecake. Cream together cream cheese, sour cream and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg, zest, orange juice and vanilla extract.


Place 1 tbsp chocolate chips into each of the muffin cups. Evenly divide cheesecake batter between the muffin cups, covering the first layer of chocolate chips. Place another tbsp of chocolate chips on top of the cheesecake batter in each of the muffin cups.


Bake for 20-25 minutes, until cheesecakes are set.


Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the muffin pan, then carefully transfer cheesecakes to a cooling rack to cool completely before refrigerating.

 

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Comments

#desserts

#cheesecake

#orange

#chocolate

#fruit

Youth Group Desserts: Vegan Mango Crumble Bars and Dulce de Leche Bundt Cake

I really had high hope the the Dulce de Leche cake.  I got the recipe from Mary the Food Librarian who usually has lovely Bundt cake recipes (she likes Big Bundts).  The recipe is here.  I didn’t set the temperature 25 degrees lower (I have a dark pan) so I think that it came out a bit dry.  However the youth group like it so I guess that is what matters.

Here are some of the process of making it photos:

For the vegan “big kids” as Maya calls them, I made Mango Crumble Bars.  I got the idea from Nicole at Baking Bites.  I LOVE her blog and she rarely steers me wrong.  Her post was for Fig Crumble Bars using Trader Joe’s new fig butter (fruit “butters” do not actually contain dairy).  The recipe didn’t call for eggs (which are very difficult for me to figure out how to substitute to make vegan) just some butter. I substituted Earth Best Spread for the butter.

To me, figs seem like more of a cool weather fruit.  I know that they aren’t really but for some reason that is how my brain has categorized them.  Trader Joe’s also has a mango butter.  Of course mango is a “summer” fruit so I was good to go there.  I reduced the amount of oatmeal and added unsweetened coconut which in my mind made them more tropical.  I plan on making all sorts of varieties of this recipe.  I’m already thinking of one using my homemade apple butter… though I will probably use real butter.

Mango Crumble Bars adapted from Baking Bites

  • 1/2 cup butter (or Earth Best Spread if vegan), room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (I used light)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup regular oatmeal
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 salt
  • 10 oz mango butter (I used Trader Joe’s)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9 x 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Beat in flour, oatmeal, coconut and salt until a crumbly mixture forms.

Set aside 1 cup of mixture.

Pour remaining oatmeal mixture into prepared pan and press it firmly into an even layer.

Drop spoonfuls of mango butter over the crust.  Then carefully spread them over the crust.  Top evenly with remaining crumble mixture.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until bars are golden brown.

Cool completely in the pan, then use the aluminum foil to lift out and slice into bars. Depending on the size of the bars will make 9-20 bars.

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Comments

#desserts

#vegan

#Bundts

#fruit

#crumble

#bar

#cookies