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A Healthier Take on Strawberry Shortcake for a Big Group

I want to eat this all day, every day.

It’s no secret that there are a few select foods that I could literally could eat every single day and not get tired of them.  Nachos (and I do), a good burger, and my homemade strawberry shortcake.  My homemade strawberry shortcake is sublime.

I stumbled upon this recipe years ago when I needed to come up with a dessert for like 15 people.  Individual shortcakes would have been way too time-consuming (and quite frankly they’re kind of dry), but I had it stuck in my head that I wanted to use the pounds of strawberries that my mom had.  And then I found the original recipe I’ve adapted here…as my original post mentioned, I’m obsessed.  It’s literally the best.

healthier-strawberry-shortcake-for-a-big-group-nessa

But, as with many recipes, I wanted to see if there was a way to make it just a tad more healthy—cut down on the calories just a bit, but also bringing in some healthier elements.  And the fact is, I might like this version even just a bit more.

I cut the sugar a bit, and it definitely doesn’t lose anything.  And then I’ve substituted half of the flour for whole wheat (or white whole wheat, which is a bit softer), which gives it a great heartiness and also a slightly nutty, warm flavor that I really love.  You can make this ahead of time when feeding a big group and it’s the most moist, fragrant, yummy summer dessert I can think of.  Pair it with fresh strawberries and a bit of homemade cinnamon whipped cream, and you’ve got yourself a winner! [Read more…]

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Almond Magic Cake

It’s been a long time since I’ve been so obsessed with a recipe.  I pinned it years ago, and somehow forgot about it, though the idea was fascinating.  Then over winter break this year I stumbled back across it and knew I had to give it a try.

Almond Magic Cake | Finding Time for Cooking

I did make one major change to the recipe.  The original is for a vanilla cake, but my M.O. in life is, why make something vanilla when it can be almond instead??  I mean, seriously.  This cake is really easy to throw together, and yields the most amazing, creamy, custardy, flan-y cake.  I ended up making it again a few days later, in a gluten-free version (to be posted here later once I’ve perfected it).  Give this a try, you won’t be disappointed! [Read more…]

Peach Rhubarb Pie

Some people go crazy trying to manufacture unleavened desserts during the Days of Unleavened Bread, but generally I gravitate (must like for gluten-free things) towards naturally unleavened recipes.  Pie is one of those glorious things.

Peach Rhubarb Pie

I went home for Passover, the Night to Be Much Observed, and the first Day of Unleavened Bread this year, as has become my custom.  It was…kind of crazy, with lots of people in and out of the house, four kids four and under to keep track of a lot of the time (one of them teething mightily), and hordes of people to be fed seemingly every night.

wheat sunset

Kansas this time of year is really a crapshoot weather-wise, and for the most part I really lucked out.  We had two beautiful days, then one insanely windy day (which isn’t unusual).

sunset

Three gorgeous sunsets.

pasture creek full

Actual water in the creek (it’s been bone-dry the past few years).  Overall, the weather was very kind to me.

peach rhubarb pie rhubarb raw

For the Night to Be Much Observed (or Remembered, which is the same night as the Jewish Seder), we needed to come up with a recipe to feed a lot of people and complement the chocolate toffee matzo that someone else was bringing.  Extra points if the babies could all eat it (which meant everything had to be organic, non-GMO, and with very little sugar.  After some discussion, I settled on peach rhubarb pie.  My mom had strawberries and that was an option, but I felt like the combo of peaches and rhubarbs was a little unique, so couldn’t resist.

A few notes on this recipe—this is a VERY forgiving recipe, in terms of quantities, length of time, etc.  That makes it a little challenging to give exact amounts or baking time (which will also very much depend on the crust you use).  Plus, you’ll want to adjust some of the ingredients to your own personal taste (specifically the sugar; this was a bit tart for my personal taste, but was kept that way for the babies). [Read more…]

Almond Cake with Fruit Compote (gluten-free)

I’ve amassed a fairly impressive arsenal of gluten-free dessert recipes over the past few years, since my friends John & Bridgette went GF.  And one of the biggest things I usually look for in these recipes is that they’re naturally free of gluten, rather than using weird ingredients to try and approximate the texture and taste of wheat recipes.

Almond Cake with Fruit Compote done

That’s why I’ve developed quite an affinity for almond meal.  It’s super yummy, plus it has an awesome grainy texture—not perfect for every type of recipe, but helps provide a “crumb” to certain cakes and pastries.  It’s also pretty easy to work with and really forgiving.  I’ve kind of been on an almond cake kick lately for myself, because the flavor is perfect for this summer-to-fall transition time we’ve been in.

Almond Cake with Fruit Compote

Which brings us to the uber-moist flavor bomb we’re talking about today…

Almond Cake with Fruit Compote sliced

This recipe is from Cookie + Kate, and as soon as she posted it, I was dying to give it a try.  The almond cake is the star, and is taken up a level by the combination of orange zest and cinnamon in the batter, and the maple syrup makes it super moist.  It’s also literally the easiest batter to throw together.  Then the slightly-sticky cake is stopped with a roasted fruit compote, which provides additional juice dripping down into the cake.  I went with pears and raspberries, which in hindsight was way too much juice to deal with.  But you can use whatever strikes your fancy.  This is awesome as leftovers, particularly for breakfast.

Don’t judge. [Read more…]

Fresh Peach Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Peach season!!!!

Fresh Peach Coconut Milk Ice Cream

I feel like that should have been all-caps. Because, not only is it peach season, but my VERY. FIRST. PEACH. was perfectly ripe. That has never happened in the history of ever. Farmers market FTW!

fresh peach coconut milk ice cream peaches

When I snagged these beauties last weekend and they were perfectly ripe and criminally juicy, I knew I had to do something amazing with them immediately. And it was balls-hot (the hyphen is important for adhering to AP style…) so ice cream was the logical conclusion.

Fresh Peach Coconut Milk Ice Cream closeup

This is my no-fail coconut milk ice cream. I’ve made it in many different flavors, including my absolute favorite in the world, peanut butter and honey with sea salt, as well as a slight variation of peanut butter and strawberry jam. It’s easy, adaptable, healthy, only as sweet as you want it to be, and naturally dairy-free. And did I mention easy? As long as you have a little frozen yogurt maker you’re golden. Otherwise I’d try stirring it every so often in the freezer and you’ll probably still get good results. [Read more…]

Single-Serving Cherry Crisp

Sometimes I get obsessed with things.

Single-Serving Cherry Crisp

Sometimes that’s just obsessed with eating something. Sometimes it’s creating something that I can’t find. Other times it’s finding the perfect version—which may mean making it a TON of times. Homemade pad thai. Black bean brownies. Dreamy scones.

This is one of those things. I love fruit crisp, but sometimes it’s not worth the effort to make a whole pan (plus, then I eat the whole pan, which…).

Single-Serving Cherry Crisp done

I first got the idea when I made a sweet dark cherry pie for Thanksgiving last year. I’d never really worked with cherries before, always sticking instead to apples, pears, and peaches. I kind of winged it (wung it?) and made up the recipe after reading a few different ones, and it turned out great. And then one night recently I was jonesin’ for something sweet, and the idea of fruit crisp hit me (I wasn’t in the mood for chocolate for some reason). All I really had, though, was a bag of frozen cherries for smoothies. I decided to give it a go, and made two—one in the oven and one in the microwave. Shockingly, I liked the microwave version and it took WAY less time.

Single-Serving Cherry Crisp finished

Since then I’ve made it several more times because I couldn’t quite get the flavors exactly like I wanted. This is a pretty fluid and forgiving recipe. You can add a little honey or sugar to the filling if you feel it needs it (or are using tart cherries), but mine is plenty sweet. Also, you could make it gluten-free by using a flour alternative like oat flour, coconut flour, almond meal, etc.  I tried a few different spice combinations in the filling and topping (cardamom, ginger, etc.), but ultimately found that simpler was better—cinnamon and some almond extract. [Read more…]

Thanksgiving Streusel Pie “Two-Fer”: Pear-Apple Pie & Bing Cherry Pie

I love pie. Pie is the best. But for a holiday where pie plays a major role, I don’t really love Thanksgiving pies.

sunset

Thanksgiving’s a big deal in my family. We always come home. We get together not only all day on Thanksgiving, but pretty much every other day that weekend. We play football. We play cards. There are glorious sunsets. There is SO much food. This year I think we actually set a record.

Bing Cherry Pie with Streusel done

Every year I make a fruit pie or two, because pumpkin, German chocolate, and chocolate chip pie are just not for me (though I love me some pecan from time to time). There’s usually a pear-apple, pear-banana, or some similar combination. This year I was really at a loss for what else to make, and then my mom found a frozen bag of dark cherries.

Bing Cherry Pie with Streusel

After looking up a number of recipes on Pinterest, I had to basically make up the recipe and hope it would work (I had visions of it just being this giant pool of juice, the soggiest pie ever). It was actually super simple and so easy to throw together. The cherry pie ended up being my favorite, and I had it for lunch, dinner, breakfast the next morning, and the tiny sliver that was left the next morning as well. This pie is my everything. I have no idea why, but it’s amazing.

Pear-Apple Pie with Streusel

The pear-apple is a recipe I made up years ago and make all the time. I love the texture and sweetness that the pears add, and almond extract, ginger, and cardamom pair (ha, pear) particularly nicely with pears. It’s an oldie but goodie. And both pies barely have any added sugar, so you don’t have to feel an iota of guilt for having a big slice for breakfast as well. [Read more…]

Plum Pound Cake with Almond Crumble

I’ve been on a weird plum kick. It’s not a fruit I grew up eating, and if you asked me to name my top five or ten fruits, not sure plums would make the list. But recently they’ve been calling to me, with their weird thick, bitter skin and their totally unpredictable insides. Sometimes it’s mealy and bland, but sometimes you get rewarded with sweet, juicy, awesomeness.

Fluffy Plum Cake with Almond Crumble

This bears a striking resemblance to both the plum torte and the pear torte adaptation I’ve made over the past few months, but this is more of a pound cake—denser, not quite as sweet, and with a crumbly almond topping instead of the cinnamon sugar of the other.

Fluffy Plum Cake with Almond Crumbles

The original recipe is in metric amounts and in Polish. Since I don’t speak Polish (and Google Translator apparently doesn’t very well either), I took some liberties with amounts and ingredients. And pretty much everything else. So, there’s that. Despite my completely winging it, the end result was pretty doggone good.

fluffy plum cake with almond crumble plums

And, of course, there were plums.
[Read more…]

Unleavened Almond Bread

I apparently don’t read directions well, which is why my stash of unleavened bread ended up molding with a few days to go (fridge, schmridge). So Sabbath morning I needed to make something to take me through the last few Days of Unleavened Bread.

Unleaved Almond Bread

I considered just making the same soft unleavened sandwich bread that I’d made a few days earlier, but decided something a little sweeter was in order. My Aunt Paula had sent me this recipe, one of their favorites, so I gave it a try.

Unleaved Almond Bread with Honey

I’m a sucker for almond flavor to begin with, and this was super simple to whip up. I took the sugar amount down a little, but it’s up to you how sweet you want it. I also used a combination of white flour, whole wheat flour, and almond meal, which gave it an awesome texture. All-in-all, this one’s a keeper! [Read more…]

Spiced Pear Jam

It’s no secret that I love both pears and jam. Weirdly, though, I’ve never had pear jam and I’ve been jonesin’ to try some.

Pear Honey Jam

I’d bookmarked a bunch of different pear jam recipes, but when I went through them all nothing really jumped out as the right one. I didn’t have a vanilla bean, I didn’t want to caramelize them ahead of time, etc. So I decided to wing it and combine different elements with some common sense to make amazing, delicious pear jam.

Pear Honey Jam in Mason Jars

The first thing I had to figure out was whether I had to use pectin. I’ve avoided that in my jam making so far, but in doing research I found out that pear is a low-pectin fruit (apples have tons) so I probably needed to use it. Luckily, it was way simpler than I expected. I also picked a great combination of spices—cinnamon, ginger, cardamom (great with pears), and almond extract. I used a combination of honey and brown sugar, but only a total of a cup for the entire batch. A lot of recipes called for SO much more sugar, but I don’t see why it would need it.

Pear Honey Jam with Bartlett Pears

Jam is a great Sunday afternoon activity, because you can put a batch on and still be getting other things done while it cooks. You need to monitor occasionally, but it’s not a high-maintenance task. And once you make a batch, it’ll last you for a long time—I usually make a big batch and eat on it for 3-4 months (my go-to lunch is homemade peanut butter & jelly on whole grain bread).

pear honey jam pears molasses cookie

After I filled all my jars, I had a few spoonfuls leftover, and had an amazing brainwave. I piled the jam on top of my freshly-baked molasses cookies. REVELATION. Seriously, the spices all went together so well, the textures were amazing, and the crunch of both the pears and the sugar on the cookies was like the embodiment of fall.

I told my mom about it and she goes, “That’s totally unnecessary, molasses cookies are great on their own*.” Me: “SO not the point. It’s so good!”

* True, they are amazing. [Read more…]

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