For as long as I can remember, every fall, my mom, sisters and I have gone apple picking. We went to the same farm every year, chased kittens around the barn, and ate apples to our hearts content. I even learned to drive at an apple orchard, at the age of 14…shhhh! Since I have gotten married, had kids and even lived in California, my mom still managed to get me out to the orchard. This year we packed all three kids up, piled into the van and prepared to pick to our hearts content! Our varieties of choice, Empire, Golden Delicious and a sparse picking of Jonagold.
Every summer I look forward to fresh peaches. I am in love with the peaches from the Brook Lawn Farm stand on the Lititz Pike here in Lancaster County. While living in California and visiting PA, I made sure to make a special trip for those delicious peaches. This last trip I definitely bought way too many for us to eat, so I’ve been mulling over what to do with them. Originally I thought peach ice cream, but then I came across a blog post from one of my favorite food bloggers, Irvin Lin of Eat the Love. I remember reading his post for a late summer stone fruit cobbler last September and I’ve been dying to try it since then. Luckily, its pretty easy to put together, so after the kids went down to bed, I got started.
For those of you that are unaware, a “stone fruit” is a fruit that has a fleshy exterior that surrounds a pit, or stone, that contains a seed. In addition to my peaches, I had about six apricots, one plum and a nectarine that really needed to be used as well. The good thing about this recipe is that you do not need to peel the fruit, just remove the pit and slice.
Today I hosted a baby shower for my dear friend, Jamie. A few weeks ago I had the special and amazing privilege of baking her a gender reveal cake. She has a beautiful 4 year old boy and now she is preparing for a baby girl!
I’ve known Jamie for about 6 years and one fact you need to know about her is that she loves peanut butter. At first I thought I’d make her the peanut butter cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery cookbook, but as I looked through Pinterest, I found a delicious looking recipe for Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes from My Baking Addiction. As I read over the post, I’m pretty sure I drooled on my keyboard. Everything looked great until I saw two questionable ingredients, Devil’s food cake mix and instant chocolate pudding! What?? Even the blogger warns the “cake mix haters” that they may want to make modifications. I’m no cake mix hater, in fact, bake me a Betty Crocker Yellow Cake with milk chocolate frosting from a can, and I could pound the whole thing in a matter of minutes. I enjoy baking from scratch, but I figured, hey, why not give this a chance!
A few months ago my sister made what she called a “healthy” deep dish chocolate chip cookie pie from the Chocolate Covered Katie healthy food blog. I wondered how a deep dish cookie pie could possibly be considered healthy. When she directed me to the recipe, I was pretty shocked to see, garbanzo beans as a primary ingredient. Ha! Garbanzo beans, what are we doing, making hummus? I bookmarked the link and moved on with my baking life. How could I make something so crazy as garbanzo bean pie?
Well, it came to pass that it was my turn to make the sweet snack at our small group. It just happened to be a friend’s 30th birthday, a friend who appreciates making a dessert healthy. We also have a friend with Celiac’s disease in the group so I figured, why not, lets try the dessert for small group, I just won’t tell anyone whats in it!
Basically, you open two cans of garbanzo beans, rinse them off and throw them, along with a few other ingredients into your food processor, process until smooth, fold in some chocolate chips, and then throw in in a spring form pan. Place that pan in the oven for around 45 min and you have yourself a deep dish chocolate chip pie! Be sure to use certified gluten free quick oats if you are trying to be “allergy” friendly. It actually looked quite beautiful sitting on my stove cooling off. Once it was cooled a bit, I popped open the spring form pan and placed the beauty on my cake stand.
When people started to arrive for small group they could not wait to dive into the pie, so I whipped up some whipped cream and cut her open! I’ve never seen a cookie pie disappear so fast! There were reactions of, “YUM!” and “This is amazing!” and the sarcastic, “Man, this is so bad, no one else should eat it, I’ll just take it off your hands because its so bad…(as they tried to steal the whole pie)” Excitedly I grabbed myself a piece. My first bite was amazing, nice and gooey, with lots of chocolate! I had to restrain myself from shoving my face into the rest of the pie and basically settled for licking my plate clean. At the end of the night, I gave the last two tiny pieces to the birthday girl and wished I had stashed a piece for myself before bed.
Next time you have a special event, make this pie, especially if you have friends who have food allergies, or even if your kids have them. You will find no eggs, dairy, or wheat here (just leave out the whipped cream)! Enjoy!
There are times when I cannot get enough bananas to eat. I’ll eat 2-3 bananas a day. That kick will last maybe two weeks, then I’m left with those three bananas that I just can’t bear to choke down. Banana craving over, browning bananas staring me in the face every day. I used to go with the obvious and make banana bread, but then, as I looked through my Ina Garten, How Easy Is That, book, I found a banana cake recipe! Oh sweet and delicious banana cake, with a smooth cream cheese frosting.
The very first time I made this cake, I definitely left out the baking soda, leading to a dense cake with an underdone texture. Because I need perfection, I made the cake again the following weekend and redeemed myself. Since the baby was born, I’ve had three bananas hanging out on my banana hook, dying to be turned into cake. Since I’ve been feeling pretty good since the birth of my newest princess, I decided to go for it!
For some time now, my dad has been on ancestry.com trying to learn more about our family history. What I know of my heritage is that I’m, 50% Russian Jew, 25% Slovak, and 25% euro mix. Part of that mix is British Isles, but not sure if its absolutely at all from Ireland. Good thing on St. Patrick’s Day, anyone can be Irish! Fun fact, St. Patrick’s Day was created to celebrate the arrival of Christianity to Ireland. St. Patrick used shamrocks to describe the Holy Trinity to the polytheistic population of Ireland. Typically St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated in church, wearing green, and lifting lenten food and alcohol restrictions for that day. Desiree over at Honey Dearest makes chocolate stout cupcakes with irish cream buttercream to celebrate this holiday. Since we were finally invited to a St. Patty’s Day party, I decided to join her for this new tradition!
My darling children, or “wee bairns”, love to help me whenever they can in the kitchen. Now that they are getting a bit older, I’m more willing to let them help, but at 4 and 2 and a half, it can still be a challenge. Each one gets a turn to help measure and dump ingredients into the bowls. Its a great little activity when I actually have the patience to let them do it. They especially LOVE sampling all that they have helped create. This recipe was a bit tricky though, what with the beer and Bailey’s. The kids did get to sample the cupcake, but with some homemade whipped cream on top, rather than the Irish cream laced buttercream.
For quite some time now, since our move back to the East Coast, I’ve been wanting to try out my skill in making Tartine’s Banana Cream Tart. While in SF, we lived about 2 miles south of Tartine. I’d load the kids up in the stroller, hike up Guerrero, then park my self at a table with a giant latte and usually a morning bun. On a “special” occassion I’d reward myself with the banana cream tart. I mean, I did just walk 2 miles, pushing a stroller, up hill…. Plus, I had to walk walk 2 miles back home too. If you are in San Francisco, you MUST get yourself a banana cream tart. At least share it with a friend!
This tart was challenging but fun to make! There were a few different parts that needed to be made and then put together to create this perfect masterpiece; pastry dough, caramel, pastry cream, and whipped cream. Be ready for lots of pictures. I shall now take you on my delicious journey.
Just the other day I stumbled across the new Bobby Deen show called, “Not My Mama’s Meals.” Bobby Deen is the son of Paula Deen and his new show takes her recipes and makes them lighter and healthier. I actually have never made any of Paula’s recipes, though I do use her knives. Her food looks delicious if not sinful, and I drool each time I watch her show. I’ve been interested to catch Bobby’s show for a while now so I was happy to see it was on. The only part that I caught was for Thai Fruit salad, a modification on Paula’s Fresh Fruit Salad with Creamy Custard. It looked wonderful!
One of my favorite things about this recipe was the ease of remembering the ingredients. I was able to watch the segment just once, and while at the store today, I remembered everything I needed. Plus, most of the ingredients are quite unique to traditional fruit salad such as sriracha, sesame oil, scallions, and coconut milk.
Only two types of fruit are used in this salad, mango and pineapple. To pick a ripe mango, make sure that it is heavy and smells fragrant. You should be able to push your thumb into it to make an imprint, but it should not feel squishy. If you have never cut up a mango before, make sure you check here so that you do not get too frustrated. Its quite easy once you know what you are doing. To pick a ripe pineapple, try to pull a leaf from the middle of the fruit. If it comes out easily, then the pineapple is ripe and ready to be used. Cutting a pineapple can also be a little tricky, so make sure you study up if you’ve never done it before.
Once I had the pineapple and mango cut up, I was able to quickly mix up the sauce and add the fruit directly to the bowl. The strongly acidic fruits met the coconut milk in pure harmony and you’ll see from the recipe, that adding honey to the sauce helps to cut some of the heat of the sriracha. Its a deliciously light salad, easy to make, and can be enjoyed by all!
A while back, I was looking at my book recommendations on Amazon, most of which are cookbooks, and I came across one called, “Farmer’s Market Desserts.” It struck me because the picture in the top left corner is from the Swanton Berry Farms, where we picked our strawberries in California. The berry farm is located in Davenport, just about 8 miles north of Santa Cruz. Its a beautiful farm where you can pick strawberries, ollieberries and even kiwis. Luckily the drive was only about an hour to an hour and a half, so we went a few times. It was always fun to drive down the coast, pick strawberries, and then feast on some treats from their farm stand after. My favorite was their strawberry shortcake and the jam tasting. The kids of course just loved stuffing their faces with strawberries.
Because I recognized the farm from the book, I figured I had to have it. It needed to go in my California cookbook collection. When I came in the mail I hungrily ripped open the package and began to search through the book. One recipe that caught my eye was for Meyer lemon and goat cheese souffle cakes. Each time I went through the book I drooled over the recipe, until finally I decided it was time to make them! Meyer lemons are hard to find on the east coast. They are a special blend of lemon and orange, originally grown in China, but now widely grown in California. In fact, it is not uncommon in California to have your own Meyer lemon tree. Here on the east coast, I was lucky to find them at my local farmer’s market, shipped of course from California.
San Francisco’s Ferry Building is more than just a ferry terminal. Within the building you can find some of the best little food shops in the city. During the week, you can avoid the crowds and enjoy a small farmer’s market, a latte from Blue Bottle, maybe a sandwich from Acme Bread Company, a cheese sample from Cowgirl Creamery, or a sweet treat from Miette. Miette is an adorable Parisian pattissiere full of some of the most delicious cupcakes, caramels and macarons you can eat. I had never seen a macaron prior to visiting this bake shop and I am so glad I did. It is a tasty little cookie with a buttercream or chocolate filling, a crisp yet chewy “crust,” with flavors ranging from chocolate to lavender and even rose! Just about every visit to the SF Ferry Building involved a stop at Miette for this special treat.