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Mini Peach Galettes

9 Aug

Well, hello friends! Hope you had a great weekend! We tried to stay cool and definitely ate some killer food at our weekly family get together. (I made minty squares for everyone- dessert that everyone loves!)

Because it is summer and we reside in Oregon, there is delicious fruit galore! Today on the menu: peaches- and lots of ’em! Gordon and I had a slight moment of insanity and picked 20 pounds of peaches the other day! Let me tell you we are all sick of peaches! But out of everything I made, these mini peach galettes and my peach cobbler were our favorites. (Typical, since they are both desserts!)

Now, don’t let the fancy name throw you off. A galette is a french word that simply means freeform and flat crusty cakes. It is similar to a pie but is baked on a cookie sheet instead of a pie plate. It is an easy dessert that sounds and looks impressive, but takes no time and hardly any effort to put together. The more rustic the better! We gobbled these up fast! And, I didn’t have any vanilla ice cream on hand, so fresh whipped cream had to do. But, do me a favor and serve these warm with ice cream! You’ll be glad you did!

Mini Peach Galettes
yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:
pastry for 1 pie, chilled
2 large ripe peaches
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon flour (you may need more depending how juicy your fruit is)
dash of salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 tablespoon cold butter, cut into 4 chunks
vanilla ice cream and/or whipped cream

Directions:
For the filling-
If desired, blanch peaches to remove skins (see recipe tips for how to do this). If you don’t mind the skin, then skip this step. Cut peaches into 1/4 inch dice and pour into bowl. Stir gently with sugar, flour, salt. cinnamon and orange juice. Set aside.
For assembly-
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut dough into four equal pieces. Flour board and rolling pin. Roll one piece of dough into a 5-6 inch circle (roughly). Place on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough. Spoon peach filling into center of dough rounds, dividing equally and leaving a 1 inch border. Fold sides of dough up over filling. Brush edges of dough with cream and sprinkle with sugar. Place one piece of butter in the center on top of the peach filling. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 and continue baking for 20-25 minutes until pastry is brown and peaches are soft. Cool 5 minutes before removing from pan and serve with vanilla ice cream and/or whipped cream.

Recipe TIPS:
How to blanch peaches: Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Cut a small ‘x’ in the bottom of each peach. Gently drop peaches into hot water for 30 seconds, remove and submerge into ice cold water immediately. Skins should peel right off. Easy!

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Pomegranate Lime Margaritas! Its Cinco de Mayo!

6 May

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, I decided to do a drink post! Just because my margarita glasses are packed doesn’t mean I can’t drink them! Anyways, this combination of the sweet pomegranate juice, the tart lime juice and the fizzy sprite really makes for an interesting and delicious drink. This recipe doesn’t include any alcohol, but feel free to add it how you like.

By the way, we are going to be moving into our new apartment on Saturday! FINALLY, we’ll be able to get settled! I’m so excited.
Also, on Friday I’ll post a great mothers day recipe that you’ll have to get your special someone to make for you as a breakfast in bed gift! I promise it will be delicious, elegant and easy even my husband could do it! Thats saying a lot…
Pomegranate Lime Margaritas
Yield: 1 large serving
Ingredients:
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup pomegranate juice
1 1/2 cups ice
a few spashes of Sprite
Salt & Lime slices for the glass rims
Directions:
In blender, pour lime juice, pomegranate juice and ice. Blend until smooth and frothy. Add sprite to make it as sweet as you like. I liked mine with about 1/4 cup!
Recipe TIPS:
-You might need to add more ice to get the consistency you want after the sprite is added.

My Favorite Shortbread

4 May

This recipe is an old family favorite. I remember making these for my elementary school teachers around Christmas time. There are 6 kids in my family and when we all were in school, my Mom would always opt for this shortbread or her microwave chocolate fudge to make. After I made this a few times, I then understood that she made this shortbread because its quick and easy, takes very few ingredients and looks fancy.
The thing about this shortbread is that you form the dough into long skinny logs, bake them and then fill them with melted chocolate or jam. Then you drizzle some icing over the top and voila! A fancy dessert! Usually we use strawberry or raspberry jam, but I didn’t have any, so I used apricot pineapple! Really, any flavor would work well. Let me know if you venture out and try something new!
Just as a side note, me and the little one are doing a walk through of the apartment we totally have fallen in love with. Gordon is still on his business trip, sadly. He’ll be home by the end of the week! Wahoo! Maybe I’ll make more shortbread to celebrate….
Shortbread Logs
yield: 16-24
Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened (DO NOT use margarine)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
melted chocolate, jam, anything you want to fill the shortbread with
1/2 cup powdered sugar
a few splashes milk
Directions:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In large bowl, mix butter, sugar, vanilla and flour until combined-it will be crumbly but will stay together when formed into shapes. Divide dough into 4 equal balls. Form each ball into a log the length of the cookie sheet with a depression in the centre. They will be long and skinny, about 1 inch wide. Bake 12-15 minutes. When warm, fill with desired fillings. Mix powdered sugar and milk together to create a runny icing. Using a spoon, drizzle icing over filled shortbread logs. Cut on the diagonal into pieces once cooled.

Banoffee Pie turned into a cake!

24 Apr
(photo to come shortly!)

Wow, is it hard to find a decent, clean and affordable apartment! We’ve been scouring at least 4 different small towns and we’ve only found 1 absolutely perfect place. We’ll have to wait and see if our application is chosen, but until then, how about making another MONSTER cake? This time with all the flavors and ingredients from a Banoffee pie! This is so good and so easy to make! I just can’t believe it. Just like the chocolate version, you’ll need cake, pudding, cream cheese, and whipped cream. The fillings are just about up to you, but to make it the banoffee way, I added in sliced bananas, crumbled shortbread cookies and toffee bits. A little different from the traditional English pie, but still the same flavors and a little more fun to eat! Give it a try sometime and impress your friends after having spent 10 minutes putting these little cakes together! I take full responsibility for any weight you may gain from consuming this dessert. You’re welcome.

Banoffee MONSTER Cakes
yield: 12 at least
Ingredients:
1 white or yellow cake mix
1 small box chocolate pudding
1 1/2 cups cold milk
1/2 cup heavy cream, whipped
1-8 oz. package cream cheese, at room temperature
3-4 bananas, sliced
1 cup prepared toffee bits (I used heath bar bits found in the baking section at the store)
12-15 shortbread cookies, crumbled
Directions:
Prepare cake mix according to packaged directions. Bake on greased cookie sheet with high sides for half the time the directions say (for me that was 15 minutes at 350, but check your instructions). Cool and set aside.
For the chocolate cream cheese mousse: In large bowl, whisk milk and pudding together until smooth. Set aside to thicken. In stand mixer, whip cream cheese until light and fluffy. Slowly add in pudding to cream cheese to combine. Turn machine off, scrape sides of bowl and whip again to ensure no lumps are in the mixture. Continue the scrape-mix method until the chocolate pudding mix is smooth, creamy and lump free. Fold in whipped cream. Store in fridge until ready to assemble.
For assembly: Cut cake into 3-4 inch squares. Cut each individual square in half horizontally to create 2 skinny pieces of cake. Top with sliced bananas, creamy chocolate filling, crumbled shortbread cookies and toffee bits. Repeat this process again to create 2 layers. You can make as many layers as you want, hence they become MONSTERS. So good!

Recipe TIPS:
– You could turn this recipe into cupcakes, a trifle or even a frozen cake! Try it! You’ll like it!
– If your cream cheese isn’t at room temperature, you’ll have a lumpy creamy filling. If you don’t mind it lumpy then disregard this tip!

Cinnamon & Honey Granola

9 Mar

I love granola. I eat it any time of the day. Homemade is especially delicious because its made for me and my specific taste buds not to mention I can pronounce everything that goes into it. That reminds me: I’ve been trying to buy natural organic unprocessed foods because its a healthier option for me and my family AND it helps me feel great! I notice that there is a huge difference in my energy level when I eat my fruits, vegetables, whole grains and water versus a ‘cheat’ day when I dive right into that bag of chips and whole bowl of guacamole…..not that there’s anything wrong with eating chips and guacamole–its just that I tend to eat the whole bag of chips with the entire bowl of guac. I love food and CLEARLY its a problem (sometimes).

So, in an effort to have ‘healthier food options’ in my house, I made some fantastic granola. This for some reason brings me back to my childhood. I remember my mom making loads and loads of granola and storing it all in those huge ice cream containers that were inevitably left over from my siblings and I chowing down. My Mom used sesame seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds, and anything else that happened to be in the cupboard that day for her granola. There lies the beauty of granola–anything goes and anything can work in it! Dried fruits, nuts, seeds, you name it. Its all good and all combinations are delicious.
Did I mention its really inexpensive and ridiculously easy to make too? Well it is! Oats, which make up the majority of our granola, are some of the cheapest grains you can purchase. Then if you hit up your bulk foods section, you can pick up some other ingredients for just pennies! I’m on a budget, so me and the bulk food bins are friends. Try them out sometime!
So, you probably already know that granola is healthy for you. I eat it for breakfast, snacks and sometimes lunch too! Its good plain, with milk or yogurt and even tossed into cookie or pancake batter for a different kind of crunch. Make sure that when you make it, you add in the things you want. If you don’t like raisins….don’t add them in! Easy! Now, lets get cooking!
Cinnamon & Honey Granola
Yield: 8 cups of cereal
Ingredients:
6 cups old fashioned oats (such as Quaker)
2 cups of any variation of the following (or anything you can think of):
-sesame seeds
-flax seeds
-raisins
-craisins
-dried cherries
-dried apples
-dried pineapple
-dried mango
-banana chips
-coconut
-almonds
-cashews
-macadamia nuts
-pecans
-peanuts
(I used 1/2 cup each of the following: cashews, banana chips, coconut and craisins)
3/4 cup canola oil (its heart healthy!)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
dash salt
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place oats on a large sheet tray with tall sides and spread to create an even layer. Toast for 20 minutes in oven.
2. While oats are toasting, chop desired add-ins to small bite sized (spoon appropriate) pieces. Also, in large liquid measuring cup, stir together oil, honey, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. The brown sugar will not dissolve completely.
3. Once oats have been removed from oven, stir in remaining granola ingredients except for dried fruits and coconut**see note at bottom**. Pour oil and sugar mixture over entire pan. Stir until all ingredients are coated evenly. Spread into 1 even layer and return to oven. Bake 1 hour stirring every 15-20 minutes.
4. Turn oven off after the hour of baking and leave granola in warm oven for 30 more minutes. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet. Break granola apart and store in air tight container for up to 2 weeks.
Recipe TIPS
-Granola won’t be crunchy once all cooking has been completed, so don’t worry!
-Granola needs to cool on the baking sheet completely in order for it to get crunchy! DO NOT put warm granola into a sealed container! I promise it will get mushy and soft and will not get crunchy!
-You can add more sugar and/or honey to this recipe if you want a sweeter tasting cereal. This recipe as is, in my opinion, is sweet enough.
– **If you choose to use coconut in your recipe, add it in the last 20-30 minutes of cooking because its toasts up really fast! Also, dried fruit does not need to be toasted, so toss it in once your granola has completely cooled.

Fondue!

4 Mar

So sorry about the delay in recipes! My husband and I have been traveling (not together) and he had the computer, so no internet for me! But, we’re all home now and I have a great recipe to share. A good friend and co-worker asked for a fondue recipe. Chocolate fondues are pretty easy to put together so I decided to focus on cheese fondues today. (Both chocolate and cheese fondue recipes are posted below.)

There’s something so fabulous about dipping meat, vegetables and bread into warm ooey gooey cheese sauce–I don’t know what it is, but it makes me happy (and my family happy too!) This recipe is really simple to make and it tastes great. My little one ended up licking all the cheese off the vegetables! I made this version without white wine or beer because I had my baby eating it too, but substituting some of the milk for equal parts wine or beer would be fine.
The key to making cheese fondue good is the salt. I would recommend melting all the cheese into the sauce and tasting it first before adding any salt because cheese tends to impart a salty flavor. Other then that, fondue is a breeze to make! And the best part is everyone loves it!
You can find fondue sets for good prices (such as this one or this one) or if you’re wanting something a little cheaper, you can try this set, ramekins or insulated bowls–they all hold the heat in well!
Cheese Fondue
Yield: 4 entree portions or 6 sides
Ingredients:
3 tablespoons butter
3 1/2 tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk, warmed
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup grated fontina cheese
1/2 cup grated havarti cheese
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
salt
things to dip:
Blanched Asparagus (my favorite), Broccoli, Carrots, Sugar snap peas etc.
Chunks of ciabatta, sourdough, pumpernickel bread or cubed bagel
Cooked chunks of chicken, turkey, or steak
Directions:
In large pot, melt butter. Stir in flour and cook 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in warm milk and continue stirring occasionally until sauce has thickened. Reduce heat and stir in cheeses. Once cheese has melted into the sauce, stir in nutmeg, sour cream, pepper and desired amount of salt. Taste and adjust seasonings. Pour into prepared bowl or fondue pot. Serve with blanched vegetables, breads and meats of your choice.
FOR CHOCOLATE FONDUES:
-I like to use good quality chocolate melting wafers because they melt quickly and they aren’t as thick as other chocolates you can find like melted chocolate chips. If you are going to use chocolate chips, melt it with some heavy cream to create more of a sauce (this is called ganache). I use a 2:1 ratio. You can always find the chocolate used for a fondue fountain–this stuff isn’t as delicious in my opinion.
-Be sure to melt the chocolate slowly at a low heat. Try melting it in a double boiler or in the microwave with 50% power stopping and stirring after 30 second intervals. If you heat it too quickly, the chocolate becomes grainy and pasty. If this happens to you, add in 1-2 teaspoons of vegetable shortening and some cream. Some times this works and sometimes it doesn’t. This is more likely to happen with chocolate chips because there are stabilizers in the chocolate. So, I recommend the chocolate wafers.
-Anything is delicious when dipped in melted chocolate. Some of our favorites include: strawberries, pineapple, banana, grapes, orange segments, apples, brownies, cookies, graham crackers, cubes of rice krispie treats, marshmallows, the list really is endless.

Nutritious and Delicious Apple Oat Cake

24 Feb
After seeing that picture, I bet you’re thinking ‘what kind of plain jane cake is that?’–Don’t let the simple look of this cake turn you off! It is so so good! I know it could maybe be fancier, but I kind of like it simple. Don’t be a hater. Embrace the average looking cake BECAUSE it is well above average in quality and taste. (And, I’m working on my photo taking skills, so leave me and my weird photos alone!)
So, about this cake–I have somehow managed to make it nutritional! I actually really enjoy revamping recipes like this. Its good for your body, makes you feel great and eating another piece doesn’t have to cause as much guilt as it once did. Its a win-win-win situation. Love it when that happens. The cake stays very moist because of the apple, but there still is a little crunch because of the topping as well as good texture from all those oats. The combination is pretty great. I like it.
Now, before I type out this entire recipe, let me warn you–its addictive. Once you start, you can’t stop. I had my fair share (and then some) and finally had to give it all away because I couldn’t have it in the house any longer! So, beware. If you have practically no will power, then find a group of people and then dig in. I’ll be honest–I have no will power. Hence me creating healthier versions of cake….and then giving it all away due to my addiction to food. (Side note: eating the ENTIRE cake is not so healthy! There’s some good advice for the day from me to you. You’re welcome.)
Apple Oat Cake
Yield: 12 servings
For the cake:

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup peeled, grated apple (I used fuji’s)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 cup oats
For the topping:
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup oats
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
dash allspice
For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons milk
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease 11×7 baking pan with butter and set aside.
In large bowl, whip butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla and egg yolks. (Keep egg whites and set aside for later!) Stir in apple followed by all dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. In separate clean, dry bowl, whip egg whites until firm peaks form. Carefully fold whipped egg whites into cake batter. Pour into prepared pan. Mix all ingredients for topping in small bowl until course crumbs form. Sprinkle over top of unbaked cake. Bake 25-30 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool 15-20 minutes. While cake is cooling, mix powdered sugar with milk to make the glaze. After cake has cooled, top with glaze–I didn’t end up using all of mine because I don’t like things too sweet, but its totally up to you how much you use.
Recipe TIPS
-This recipe could be baked in a 9×9 square pan or even into muffins. Increase your baking time 5 minutes for a square pan and decrease your baking time 5 minutes for muffins.
-The topping is totally optional! I like the little crunch, but the cake is just as delicious on its own!
-The glaze is also optional as well. My husband really loves sweet things. If you are making muffins for breakfast, then the healthier start to the day would probably be without the glaze. Its just a preference thing. Do what you want!