I always buy more plums than I think we’ll eat. I really like dark plums when they are almost too ripe as the insides turn a beautiful purple color. If you realize you’ve been a little over zealous in buying plums, this is a great way to use them up and turn them into a side dish for dinner. Try to find the type of plums where the stone comes out clean as they are easier to remove the pits. I was not as lucky- so I had to cut out the pits, either way they are still delicious. They are great along side grilled pork chops or roasted chicken.
Vanilla & Chinese Five Spice Roasted Plums
8 fresh ripe plums (mixture of red and black)
3 Tbsp. pomegranate juice or cranberry juice
3 Tbsp. clover honey
1 tsp. Chinese Five Spice
1 tsp. vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Cut each plum in half and remove pits, place cut side up in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle plums with the spice. Mix together the juice, honey and vanilla and pour over plums. Toss plums to coat evenly. Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes until soft. Serve warm or chilled as a side dish with chicken or pork or simply as a snack. Store plums along with juice in an airtight container in the fridge.
This time of year when the weather turns hot but you still want to entertain, the key is to keep things simple. You don’t want a heavy dessert. This frozen treat is very refreshing after a spicy meal or quite frankly just on a hot summer night. For an extra glamorous effect, freeze some pretty or decorative glasses to create a frosted effect. Right before serving, scoop the granita into the glasses, top with a dollop of Greek yogurt (the contrast of tang is amazing) and a mint sprig. Beautiful.
Note: For my Weight Watchers Friends, one serving equals 3 Points Plus
Honeydew Mint Granita
yield: about 6-7 servings
1 medium honeydew melon, seeded and chopped into cubes (about 4-5 Cups)
1/2 Cup sugar
1/4 Cup fresh lime juice
12 fresh mint leaves
Opitonal: Fresh mint leaves and Greek yogurt (vanilla or plain flavor)
1. In a food processor place the cubed honeydew melon, sugar, and lime juice. Puree until smooth. Add the mint and pulse until you can visibly see small flecks. Pour mixture into a square pan and place in the freezer. Once the mixture starts to freeze slightly, rake the mixture every 30 minutes with a fork until mixture is granular in appearance. Serve in glasses with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a mint sprig.
Who doesn’t love a good “pot pie?” The Husband, that’s who. When I first got married The Husband informed me “Never make chicken pot pie”. That was the only food flare he shot up. Now, this is a man who will EAT ANYTHING, and I do mean anything. I mean, he hails from Taiwan- the island of stinky tofu for God’s sake. He’s like a clone of Andrew Zimmern, the man would eat rattlesnake if I served it. The back story behind this aversion to the pot pie stems from his childhood. You see, apparently growing up, every Friday night (or maybe more-and I’m sure he’ll clarify it after reading this) his parents would go out to fulfill military social obligations and leave him a frozen pot pie to heat and eat. This little ritual went on for a number of years, hence the extreme aversion. These little gems aren’t really a pot pie. No scary peas and carrots hiding inside. Think of them as an individual pocket of spicy Cajun goodness. Filled with juicy chicken, fresh summer sweet corn, onion, fire roasted red pepper, cilantro and lots of Cajun spice, and topped off with a Serrano chili (if you dare). What’s not to love?!
I mean, seriously, does this filling not look good, or what? there is nothing to fear…
Individual Cajun Chicken Pies
recipe adapted from “Pocket Pies” by Pamela Clark
yield: 4 individual “Texas size” muffin pies
Short crust Pastry:
1 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
4 oz. cold, butter chopped, kept cold
1 egg yolk
2 Tbsp. ice water (approx.)
In a food processor place the flour and salt and pulse a few times. Add butter and pulse until mixture is crumbly. Add yolk and 1 1/2 Tbsp. water and pulse until dough comes barely together, and add more water as necessary. Knead pastry lightly on a floured board until smooth. Press into a flat circle and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill dough for 30 minutes before attempting to roll out.
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 fresh corn cob, kernels removed (if you don’t want to use fresh you can substitute 1 cup frozen corn kernels)
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
2 tsp. Cajun seasoning (I like “Slap Ya Mama” brand- can be found at Cost Plus Markets)
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped into about 1/2 inch pieces
2 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1/4 Cup diced roasted red pepper (purchased in jar)
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
3/4 Cup chicken broth
2-3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
fresh Serrano chilies (optional)
For egg wash: one egg beaten
1. Heat olive oil in large saute pan add onion, corn and garlic and cook over medium heat until onion softens. Add Cajun seasoning and saute for 1-2 minutes. Remove to a bowl.
2. Heat another 1 Tbsp. oil in the same pan and add chicken and seasoning. Cook the chicken until browned. Stir in the diced red pepper. Add the flour and cook, stirring for about 1 minute. Stir in the chicken broth and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture thickens. Stir in the onion corn mixture and stir. Stir in the cilantro. Taste and adjust any seasoning as necessary (I actually added a sprinkling of cayenne and paprika). Remove to a bowl and allow to cool before assembling pies.
3. Note: if you don’t want to make fresh pastry dough you can also use purchased pie dough, or purchased empanada dough rounds. You could also use puff pastry dough and make hand pies.
To assemble and bake:
Brush or spray 4 wells of a texas size muffin pan. Cut out 4 rounds of dough into 5 inch circles. Place the dough rounds into the wells; pressing the sides and bottom to fit. Fill the wells evenly with the chicken mixture. Cut out 4 more rounds that are 4 inch size and brush one side with the beaten egg, then turn over and place the egg side down over the filled pies. Brush the tops of each pie with egg wash, and (if desired) pierce the top and insert a fresh Serrano chili. Bake in a 400° F preheat oven for 24-25 minutes. Cool in the pan until cool enough to remove.
Belly up to the bar. The cookie bar that is. I love summer because there is just a plethora of fruit to choose from and I’ve been buying fruit like crazy lately. I bought an over abundance of blueberries this week (on sale) and stashed quite a few in the freezer. The rest of the berries were used to make these little berrylicious beauties. Cookie bars are the thing to make when you want to bake but you don’t have a lot of energy for something ambitious.
Blueberry Crumb Bars
3 Cups all purpose flour
1 Cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
zest of one lemon
1 Cup unsalted butter, cubed and kept cold
1 Lg. egg
1. Prepare a 9×13 baking pan by greasing the bottom and sides of the pan, then set aside. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
2. In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, place the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and lemon zest and pulse a few times to combine. Add the cubed cold butter and pulse about 10 times to resemble coarse meal. Add the egg and pulse a few more times to combine. Portion out half; about 2 1/2 Cups of the crumb mixture for the base of the bars and press into the bottom of the prepared pan; reserve the rest of the crumble for the top. Make the filling as per below.
4 Cups fresh blueberries washed/drained
3/4 Cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
5 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 Cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 medium lemon)
In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and cornstarch to combine. Add the blueberries and lemon juice and gently fold with a rubber spatula to combine. Pour the filling over the base crumb, and gently spread with a spatula as needed to ensure an even filling. Sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture allowing both smaller and larger bits to form when sprinkling the topping over filling. Bake in a 375° F preheated oven for 40-45 minutes until crumb topping is lightly golden brown. Allow the bars to cool completely then cut into squares or rectangles as desired.
This is an ADULT dessert cake bite, so plan accordingly… The bourbon packs a punch and definitely is assertive, front and center. These are conveniently bite size and although they look dainty, they are meant to be popped into the mouth whole for one glorious bite. The perfect boozy bite of chocolaty goodness. This is NOT your wall flower kind of cake bite. There is no hiding in the corner. Bring these to your next Uker, Bunko or Poker party cause it’s about to get rowdy….you’ve been warned.
Boozy Bourbon Cake Bites
(recipe adapted from Cake Simple by Christie Matheson)
yield: 5 Cups of batter- about 60 mini cake bites
1/2 Cup unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 Cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 Cup + 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted & cooled
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. natural (not dutch- processed) cocoa powder (such as Hershey’s)
6 Tbsp. (90 ml) boiling water
1/2 Cup bourbon (preferably 100 proof-I used Knob Creek brand)
1 Cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1. Preheat oven to 325° F. Spray two mini bundt bite (tea cake size pans) generously with nonstick (baking with flour spray) and set aside. You can also use a small bundtlette size pan; both work well as I have tested the recipe in both. Conversely you can double the recipe and bake in a 10 Cup size large Bundt pan.
2. In a small bowl place the cocoa powder and pour the boiling water over and mix with a spatula to dissolve cocoa. Add the bourbon and stir to combine; set aside to cool to room temp. In another small bowl: whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and egg yolk and beat until combined. Hand stir in the vanilla and melted chocolate until combined. (You want to avoid overbeating batter in order to keep it moist). With the mixer on low add the flour mixture (in three increments) alternately with the cocoa/bourbon mixture (in two increments) beginning and ending with the flour mixture until just combined (avoid overbeating). Note: the cocoa/ bourbon mixture will seem like too much- but trust me it will mix in.
4. Pour the batter into the wells of the tea cake pans filling them 3/4 full. Note: I find it easier to put the batter into a pastry bag with a round tip and fill the wells this way- you have better control.
5. Bake in a preheated oven for 10 minutes. For the larger bundt (but still mini) bundts I baked them for 18 minutes. If confused: this particular size Bundt wells hold 6 Tbsp. of batter.
6. Allow cakes to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn pans over to remove and allow to cool over a wire rack. Drizzle tops of cakes with Bourbon and Coke Chocolate Glaze. Store in an airtight container. Note; because of their size they tend to dry out quickly- they are best served the day they are made.
Bourbon & Coke Chocolate Glaze
recipe from Southern Living
1/4 Cup unsalted butter
3-4 1/2 Tbsp. Coke soft drink
2 1/2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Cups + 2 Tbsp. Confectioners sugar, sifted
1 Tbsp. bourbon (preferably 100 proof-I used Knob Creek)
In a small sauce pan over low heat melt butter. Add in the cocoa powder and 3 Tbsp. of the coke, and whisk to combine, cooking for 1-2 minutes over low heat. Remove from heat and add in the bourbon. Add the sifted confectioners sugar a little at a time and whisk until smooth. If too thick add a little more coke a teaspoon at a time until desired consistency.
Do you ever get mad when suddenly your favorite restaurant, establishment, grocery store etc. stop carrying a product you love? You know the feeling…you’re cruising along about your day and ready for something familiar or favorite and suddenly, WHAM you’re told “We stopped making that” or “We stop carrying that”. Excuse ME?! Like for real? I’ve been waiting all darn Winter long for a Blackberry Mojito Shaken Ice Tea Lemonade-whatever the heck that name of that darned drink- was. Uh huh. Now, I was craving that drink. CRAVING IT. I kept thinking okay, about Spring time they would start bringing it back. Nope. I inquired- They “decided” not to bring it back this year. Well, that was not going to do, so I decided to play around with the recipe (I knew the components cause I asked one day while chatting up the Starbucks gal last year) and set up my lab/shop in my kitchen to experiment. I know the original mixture contains blackberry mojito green tea from Teavana, but I found this tea mix at Cost Plus one day and I think it is lovely. If you use a green tea based mint flavored tea you should be fine. After playing around with different measures this is what I’ve come up with. So for all of you Blackberry Mojito Ice Tea Lemonade lovers out there, this is for you.
Copycat Starbucks Blackberry Mojito Ice Tea Lemonade
yield: one serving
3/4 Cup Mojito or Mint flavored Iced green tea (follow package directions for making iced tea)
1/4 Cup store bought lemonade (I like Simply Lemonade)
1 1/2 Tbsp. Blackberry Syrup such as Torani or Monin
Fill a glass with ice, stir the iced tea, lemonade and syrup together. Enjoy~
Soon you can “legally” wear white pants. Memorial Day is looming…You don’t really follow that silly rule, do you? Nor do you know you can only enjoy a popsicle that you purchase in a frozen store case. The world is yours to discover. Break out the Vitamix, blender, or food processor and start making your own frozen pops. Start with your favorite fruit or two and add a little yogurt or extra jam for flavor. Pick a fruit that is in season and remember that anything frozen looses a little sweetness when it’s at frozen state, so if adding any sugar this helps to gauge before you make your final pour into your pop molds. Enjoy~
Cherry Vanilla Yogurt Pops
1 1/2 Cups vanilla low fat yogurt
1/2 Cup fresh sweet cherries, pitted
1/3 Cup cherry jam
In a blender, food processor or Vitamix in this order; place the yogurt and jam. Process/pulse until mixture is smooth. Add the fresh pitted cherries and pulse until the cherries are small pieces; if you like your pops a little more chunky, then so be it. Once processed to your liking pour into clean pop molds and if using wooden sticks, wait for about 15 minutes to place sticks. Freeze until firm.