Tag Archives: fruit

End of Summer Strawberry Peach Crisp

7 Sep

There is nothing that I love more than strolling through my local farmer’s market on warm summer mornings with my family and sampling the delectable varieties of peaches, plums, plots, and nectarines that the farmers display with such pride. All year I wait for the mouth-watering stone fruits to arrive, and when they finally do I take it upon myself to see how many of the juicy beauties I can eat before they disappear once more.

Now that Labor day has come and gone, summer is officially starting to come to an end. This recipe is the perfect way to savor the delicious summer berries and stone fruits before it’s too late.

Because the fruits are at their sweetest and most succulent, they do most of the work for you. Simply chop up the fruits and toss together some sugar, flour, butter, and spice and bake!

As you can probably tell by the amount of fruit this recipe calls for, it feeds a crowd. Feel free to cut the entire recipe in half for a reasonable 9 inch by 9 inch crisp, or make the whole thing and freeze the leftovers so that you can lavish in the sweetness of summer even a few months down the road.

End of Summer Strawberry Peach Crisp

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Serves: Many (about 12-18 depending on how hungry your guests are)

Ingredients:

  • Fruit filling
    • 4 white peaches
    • 8 yellow peaches
    • 3 pounds of strawberries (about 3 pints)
    •  3/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
    • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    •  1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
    •  1 teaspoon almond extract
  • Topping
    • 1  cup brown sugar
    •  1/2 cup call purpose flour
    • 1/3 cup whole wheat flour
    •  1 1/3 cup rolled oats
    •  1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
    • 3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 3/4 cup (1 ½ sticks) softened butter (or substitute coconut butter if you prefer)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, then butter a 9″ x 13″ glass or cermanic baking dish.
  2. Whisk together the flours, sugar, and salt.
  3. Toss the flour mixture with the peaches, strawberries, lemon juice, vanilla, and almond extract. Then spoon the filling into the prepared pan.
  4. Use a fork to combine the brown sugar, flour, oats, and spices, then mixing in the soft butter until the mixture is crumbly.
  5. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit mixture, shaking the pan to distribute it evenly.
  6. Bake the crisp for about 50 minutes, until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Remove from the oven, and cool briefly before serving.

***the topping makes more than needed for a 9 by 13 inch dish, so make only half a batch, or use the extra crumble on top of  oatmeal, ice cream, yogurt, muffins, or other fruit

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Back to School Chocolate Strawberry & Zucchini Muffins

20 Aug

In June and even in July, summer seems like an endless stretch of time to cross items off your to do list, see people whom you don’t see often enough, and simply to relax. But as August starts to rear its ugly head, reality hits and you suddenly realize that the lofty plans you made for the summer will just have to wait some more. School and cold weather are just around the corner and no matter how tempting it may be to bury your books under your bed and forget about them, there’s no way to ignore rapidly approaching fall.

Rather than wallow in remorse over unaccomplished summer hopes and goals, focus on the exciting aspects of fall. This means that it’s almost close enough to Halloween that you can start planning your elaborate costume without sounding like a crazy person. This means it’s time to go shopping for new coats, boots, sweaters, or school supplies. This means that it’s gradually becoming time to resume your normal schedule of cozy nights indoors that your mind and body will appreciate even if you do not. And most importantly (for me at least) this means it’s starting to cool back down enough to turn back on the oven and stove to cook tasty, heart-warming meals and goodies.

Instead of resenting or resisting the passing of summer, set an example for those in your life who may not quite be ready for the change of the seasons by baking them tasty goodies to celebrate the best of summer produce in a form that is perfect for hectic fall mornings. By that I mean, bake them these Chocolate Strawberry & Zucchini Muffins, of course!

 

While these muffins are not exactly for picky eaters, they are delicious and nutritious, the perfect way to quell any chocolate cravings first thing in the morning while still getting in some veggies too. These muffins rely on shredded zucchini and applesauce to keep them nice and moist without the addition of any butter or oil.

Back to School Chocolate Strawberry & Zucchini Muffins

Yield: 18-20 muffins

Adapted from From the Little Yellow Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups shredded zucchini, shredded
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar, rounded (or add 2/3 cup for sweeter, more traditional muffins)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 15 large strawberries (about 1 1/2 cups), chopped, plus 5 more, sliced for garnish
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or you can chop up 1 bar of dark chocolate into tiny pieces-I had some left over from s’mores, so that’s what i did)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two muffins tins with silicone baking cups. Muffin batter sticks to paper liners too much, so invest in a few sets of silicone liners to avoid eating paper and cut down on waste.
  2. Coarsely grate the zucchini, then place in a colander and sprinkle it with a pinch of salt. Let it sit for about 10 minutes while combing the other ingredients to leach out the excess water from the zucchini.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, cocoa, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.
  4. In another bowl, whisk the eggs. Then add the applesauce and yogurt, and stir well.
  5. Use paper towels to gently press the zucchini in the colander so that it releases any remaining excess liquid. Add the zucchini to the wet mixture and stir.
  6. Use your hands to form a well in the center of the dry mixture, then pour the wet mixture into the well. Stir until just combined. Fold in the strawberries and chocolate chips.
  7. Fill each baking cup about 3/4 full, then gently press a strawberry slice into the top of each muffin.
  8. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  9. Allow the muffins to cool on cooling racks, then keep them refrigerated for up to 4 days or freeze them for a quick and easy breakfast or afternoon snack.

 

Festive Summer Fruit Basket

22 Jul

I always count down the days until my favorite summer fruits starts to flood the farmer’s market stands. Oranges and apples are nice, but nothing can beat the taste of a ripe mid-summer peach or a juicy pint of strawberries. They are delicious in compotes, pies, jams, or tarts but I think that they are best eaten plain.

So often people feel entitled (myself far too often included) to a sugar-packed treat after dinner or even after lunch. However, when fresh fruits are so sweet and delectable, there’s no need to turn to goodies with added sugar because fruit tastes even better. Fruit takes less time to prepare, is far healthier, tastes better, and can be even prettier than any baked treat.

The next time you’re entertaining and need a fun way to end the meal, give this fruity basket a try. Its cute presentation will thrill kids and adults alike!

Summer Fruit Watermelon Basket 

Adapted from the National Watermelon Promotion Board

Materials:

  • 1 pint of blueberries
  • 1 pint of raspberries
  • 1 pint of strawberries
  • 1 large seedless watermelon
  • Cutting board
  • Kitchen and paring knives
  • Nontoxic green dry erase marker
  • thin rope or ribbon
  • Large bowl and spoon
  • Melon baller
  • cookie cutters in hearts, stars, and other fun shapes

Directions:

  1. Rinse strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries. Cut the strawberries in half and set all berries aside.
  2. Wash watermelon and pat dry.
  3. Place the watermelon on its side and cut off the bottom  1/4 to 1/2 inch so it can stand up flat.  Make sure not to cut too deep into the white part of the rind so that the liquid doesn’t leak from bottom of the melon.
  4. Stand the watermelon on its cut end then use the dry erase marker to draw a line about 1/3 of the way down from the top, around the whole watermelon. Use the rope or ribbon to make sure that you make a smooth line going around the melon.
  5. Pick a point on the line and find the corresponding point on the exact opposite side of the watermelon. From those points measure 1 inch to the right and to the left. Connect those points by using the rope to draw two parallel lines across the top forming the handle.
  6. Use the paring knife to cut along the horizontal line and two vertical lines. Go very slowly with gentle force so as not to break or crack handle. For best results, hold paring knife like a pen, but only cut half way into rind. Once you complete that first cut all the way around, go back and cut the rest of the way through the rind. Doing the cut in two steps will ensure a cleaner line and smoother cuts.
  7. Make a cut around the inside perimeter and carefully remove the trimmed rind and flesh. Try to remove as much as possible in large portions that can later be sliced and used with the cookie cutters.
  8. Scoop out remaining flesh from base, trying to leave as much flesh intact. Remove it in larger pieces that can be used for making watermelon balls or bite-sized chunks.
  9. Using cookie cutters, cut shapes from watermelon. Se the shapes aside on a paper towel to drain.
  10. Use the melon baller to scoop out balls of watermelon.
  11. Then use a large spoon to remove any unsalvageable watermelon and puree it and mix it with lemonade or freeze it to make popsicles.
  12. Start filling the carved out melon with a mixture of watermelon and berries from the first step. Make sure to save the fruit cut outs for the top of the melon.
  13. Arrange any remaining fruit around the perimeter of the melon.
  14. Optional: Use a shovel or cake mix sand to create a beachy vibe.

Four Bite Sized Desserts for the Fourth

4 Jul

Fourth of July is one of the most beloved American holidays because not only does it celebrate America’s hard-won freedom, it also gives Americans a great deal of freedom as to how they want to celebrate. While a BBQ and fireworks are traditional, there is no necessity to do anything other than have a good time. You don’t have to buy gifts, spend lots of money, or go through the stress of planning the perfect holiday meal. Fireworks are free, the beach is open to everyone, and barbecuing is way easier than planning a sit-down dinner party. The Fourth of July is an excuse simply to hang out and have a good time.

And what could be a better complement to your BBQ than a few homemade American desserts. Instead of getting super elaborate with the sweets, keep it easy with rice krispies, lemon bars, s’mores, or brownies. In bite-sized squares, these treats are easy to pick up and nibble on at any point of your 4th of July celebration.

I chose to update these American classics a bit with Browned Butter Rice Krispy Treats, Light and Tangy Lemon Bars, S’mores Cups, and Chewy, Chocolate-Studded Brownies. When I made these desserts for a casual get-together with friends a few weeks ago, the s’mores bites and lemon bars were both HUGE hits.

Just a secret between you and me…these desserts are all a bit healthier than most treats, so you can indulge without feeling guilty. These desserts each take less than an hour to whip up, so make all four or just stick with one of two.

This year we are having a BBQ and outdoor screening of Independence Day for some of our friends and just keeping it simple and relaxed. What are you doing to celebrate?

Browned Butter Rice Krispy Treats

Adapted from Krissy’s Creations

Serves 16 (to make 24 treats, I  made mine in a 9 by 13 inch pan and multiplied all ingredients by 1.5)

Ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bag of large marshmallows
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla bean extract)
  • 5 cups Rice Krispies cereal
 Directions
  1. Butter the bottom of a 9×9 baking pan and set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat.  Continue to cook until the butter has turned a golden brown color, about 7 minutes.
  3. Place a mesh strainer over a large saucepan and pour the browned butter through the strainer to remove any little black dots (the slightly burned pieces). Place the large saucepan over low heat and add the marshmallows and salt.  Stir occasionally until the marshmallows are completely melted and smooth, then mix in the vanilla. Make sure not to keep the marshmallow mixture over the heat for too long otherwise your rice krispy treats will turn out hard and crunchy instead of soft and chewy.
  4. Add the cereal to the marshmallows and stir until the cereal is completely coated with the melted marshmallows.Remove from the heat and stir a few more times to make sure the cereal is evenly coated.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Let it cool slightly for 2-3 minutes, then use a rubber spatula to press it down into the pan.
  6. Let the treats cool in the pan on counter until completely cooled and hardened, about 2 hours.  Do not refrigerate them in an attempt to speed up the cooling process, as this too will make your rice krispies undesirably hard.
  7. Cut into 16 squares, and serve!

Light and Tangy Lemon Bars

Adapted from Shape Magazine

Serves 16

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 chunks

Filling

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup  all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 lemons
  • 1 lime
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Additional powdered sugar for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F and lightly coat an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. To make the shortbread, in the bowl of a mixmaster, mix the almond meal, flour, powdered sugar, and salt. Add butter and beat until no large chunks remain and mixture is loose and sandy.
  3. Transfer to baking dish and press firmly into base and edges until even. Bake for 22 to 24 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
  4. Meanwhile, make the filling by combining sugar, flour, and salt in a large bowl. Finely zest lemons (about 2 teaspoons) and one lime (about 1 teaspoon) into bowl. Squeeze 1/3 cup juice from lemons and 1/4 cup juice two tablespoons from two limes and add to bowl along with eggs; whisk until smooth.
  5. Pour the filling over crust and return the dish to oven and bake for 30 to 32 minutes or until center is set.
  6. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  7. Just before serving, cut the squares into 16 squares and sift powdered sugar over squares to garnish

S’mores Cups

Adapted from The Pampered Chef

Serves 24

Ingredients:

  • 8 graham crackers
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 4 bars of chocolate, milk or dark
  • 12 large marshmallows (or 24 if you like very marshmallow filled s’mores)
  • Nonstick cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Place the graham crackers in a large plastic bag, and use a rolling pin to finely crush them.
  3. Using a spoon, combine the graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar and butter in a medium sized bowl.
  4. Spray a 24-cup mini muffin tin. Then evenly distribute the crumb mixture among the cups, placing about a tablespoon in each tin.
  5. Use your fingers to press crumbs to form shallow cups. Bake the graham cracker crust for 4-5 minutes, or until edges are bubbling.
  6. Meanwhile, break the candy bars into 48 rectangles. Remove the pan from oven; place one rectangle into each cup.
  7. Cut marshmallows in half  crosswise (or use whole marshmallows if you like your s’mores really gooey) using kitchen shears. Place one marshmallow half, cut-side down, into each cup. Return to oven 2-4 minutes depending upon how toasted you like your marshmallows.
  8. Remove the pan from the oven and press the chocolate pieces into the top of each marshmallow and return for them to the oven for another 1-2 minutes so that the chocolate can start to soften a bit.

Chewy, Chocolate-Studded Brownies 

Adapted from First Look, Then Cook

Serves 16

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup skim milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9 inch square baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups and level with a straight edge. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Combine 1/2 cup chocolate chips and butter in the bowl of a double boiler until melted. Remove chocolate from the heat and allow it to cool for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Stir in milk, sugar, vanilla extract, and eggs into the chocolate mixture until combined.
  5. Add the chocolate mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Gently fold in the remaining cup of chocolate chips.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted into the brownies comes out almost clean.
  7. Allow the brownies to cool over e baking rack then cut into 16 squares.

Shake Off the Monday Blues with a Chocolatey Antioxidant Kick!

5 Mar

I know that going back to school or work after a weekend of fun is always a bummer. Normally for me Mondays start off with a blaring 6 AM alarm clock to remind me that my weekend bliss is in fact over, and that it is time to return to the tedious world of tests, homework, and project deadlines. This weekend is especially hard for me to return from because I had an extra two days off school while I visited my dream school and had the incredible opportunity to interview for a scholarship and spend time with current architecture students.

Anywho, I decided that this Monday isn’t going to be tiresome or disappointing. I’m going to rely on a few cups of my favorite green tea and a handful of my favorite chocolatey antioxidant mix to brighten my day and start off this week on a good note! I highly recommend splurging on some good green tea because grocery store powdered tea cannot even compare to the taste of high-quality, whole-leaf tea bags. My favorite is the Sencha Uji tea from Lupica. Their tea is so good that top restaurants even serve it! If you are lucky enough to have a Lupica store nearby, you can save some money by buying tea with a blue dot on it, which means that they are discounting the price because it expires within a few months. Here’s an inforgraphic that points out how green tea can induce your work productivity, along with many other benefits in case you need a little more encouragement to treat yourself to a delicious cup of luxurious green tea.

From FrenchSunKiss

Accompany your productivity-enhancing green tea with some happiness-enducing dark chocolate. Indulge your sweet tooth with some dark chocolate with 65% or higher cocoa concentration. Dark chocolate has been scientifically proven to increase the release of serotonin and endorphins. The release of these two chemicals decreases stress and heightens happiness. As it turns out indulging in some chocolate really can make you happier, it’s not just your imagination.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy dark chocolate is by munching on the mouth-watering antioxidant mix created for the Montage spa by Executive Pastry Chef Richard Ruskel. Since clearly we can’t simply go to the spa whenever we are feeling blue, I decided to throw together my own variation of this feel-good mix.

Your regular grocery store may not carry some of these ingredients, but Whole Foods or Trader Joes should have whatever you need.

Realistically you should only have a quarter cup or so of this tasty mix, but if you want to bulk up the serving size of this tasty snack without majorly increasing the cost or the calories, mix it with some air popped popcorn or simple cereal, like Cheerios.

Chocolate, Fruit, and Nut Antioxidant Snack Mix

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups high quality mini chocolate chips (try Guittard or Ghirardelli; Hershey’s probably won’t cut it this time)
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1/3 cup cocoa nibs
  • 1/4 cup goji berries
Directions:
  1. Roughly measure out all ingredients and pour them into a mixing bowl
  2. Mix the ingredients together well
  3. Store your snack mix in a cute container that will brighten your day just by looking at it

I hope that with a cup of green tea and some dark chocolate, or whatever fun indulgence you choose, you can start off your Monday on a good note. If you still aren’t feeling it, take a few minutes to jot down one small thing that you are looking forward to each day, or something exciting that is coming up next weekend. By enjoying all of the little things in life, you will find that there is less time to   fall into the trap of the Monday blues.