Apple Blintz for Breakfast

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I had the chance to visit my dad and sister in California before the summer’s end. In the morning, I would be awake before everyone else, in part because of the jet lag, and Arlo was ready to rise at about 5 am. Hunger strikes me in a serious way at about 7 pm. My thoughts were exactly this: pancakes, no waffles, no crepes….When Sara arose and we decided to join forces, she informed me that the consequences of putting my whipped cream cheese inside of the crepe would make a Blintz. Yes please.

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Some pink tart apples are finely chopped, squeezed with lemon, and accompanied by some fresh strawberries in skillet.

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For 8 crepes combine 1 cup flour, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup water, a dash of salt, 1/2 cup milk, 2 table spoons of butter melted. Make sure you butter the surface very well with each crepe. This is very important.

Sara was a crepe master and cooked them to perfection – not too thin so you can flip them.Plan in screwing up the first one. But as in all things in life…learn from your mistakes.

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The tart fruit filling is not incredibly sweet because it is complimented by a sweet whipped cream cheese filling and powdered sugar. I don’t like to over cook it, so there is a slightly crisp texture.

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2 cups of heavy whipping cream, 3 tablespoons of cream cheese, a couple of dollops of sour cream, a drizzle of vanilla extract, and 4 tablespoons of softened butter. Whip it good.

IMG_3530Sara demonstrating her exceptional talent at cooking breakfast while still asleep.

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Build your own blintz…fruits and whipped cream cheese in the center – don’t overfill.

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This dish reminds me of California, light, airy and colorful. Fold over and dust with powdered sugar. Eat while warm. Don’t let baby have any (:

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Jail bar peach pie and cauliflower cream soup

I call this jail bar pie because sometimes I feel trapped in my domestic life, even though it is sweet. It was also the result of being a little short on pie dough.

Jail pie before the oven

Jail pie before the oven

These summer days in the country can be a lot of work. But sometimes one just has to say ‘screw it’ and put their feet up. OR, better yet, bake a pie. My mom has been visiting and helping out with baby Arlo, so it has freed me up to do a few extra special things – like indulge in baked goods – not the most ideal for a hot and humid climate. Luckily the pool is also open now and we can drive into town on occasion to cool off. The house cat however can never escape the warmth of her own fur, but she still manages to get comfy.

Gertrude taking the lap while she still can.

Gertrude taking the lap while she still can (baby asleep).

The all butter crust recipes are great, just use your fingers to squish the cold butter and flour together and chill the dough for at least four hours. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/butter-flaky-pie-crust/

cooked pie

I created a mixture of organic fresh peaches ( 3 large) and blueberries, simmered some pure cranberry and cherry juice, cinnamon, and added a mini ‘snowstorm’ of corn starch.

About a half cup of sugar (but this is up to you), created the perfect combination of sweet and tart.

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The potted plants on our porch are thriving with the daily thunderstorms and bright morning sun.

Broiled cauliflower is nutty and delicious.

Broiled cauliflower is nutty and delicious.

Dessert before dinner, can’t help myself. My friend was talking about a cream of cauliflower soup just yesterday and so I decided to try my own. I pretty much winged it but did a little bit of research to discover that Worcestershire sauce takes care of any potential blandness, and does not necessarily even taste like a condiment. What is this stuff but a lovely fermented liquid from back in the 17th century.

White cheddar. Yup.

White cheddar. Yup.

 

I didn’t add a lot of this (maybe a cup and a half?) but it helps with the texture and flavor.

Soup is on.

Soup is on.

 

All in there:

  • 5 large carrots
  • 1 head of orange cauliflower
  • Paprika
  • Dried dill
  • Fresh thyme
  • Lots of black pepper and salt
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 Fresh lime
  • The olive oil and butter that the veggies broiled in
  • 1-2 cups sharp white cheddar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup or 2 of half and half as liquid to puree my veggies in a blender

 

 

 

 

Green Tea Chocolate (Organic)

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Since I have been on a roll with the ‘healthy’ desserts, I decided to try to make something I have never attempted before…chocolate. Not just any chocolate, but what they call green tea chocolate. I came across this recipe when researching mochi, which you will find in a later post (still working it out, my first batch failed, sadly). It is a simple list of ingredients, so remember, the better the ingredients the better the results. My white chocolate, Matcha tea (powdered green tea) and whipping cream came organic and from the local health food grocery. If you are not already aware, green tea is anti-cancer!

Ingredients:  

  • 400 g white chocolate (four bars)
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp matcha powder
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 8″x8″ pan

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I lined my pan with parchment paper-so cut it to fit. Here are some of the items I purchased…not exactly cost effective, but occasional extravagance in sweets is sometimes necessary.

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Finely chop up your favorite white chocolate. It is so soft, this began to melt in my hand almost immediately. I do not love the taste of white chocolate, but I promise you, it tastes like a buttery green tea candy at the end, and no one will ever guess this is in the ingredients.

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Heat 1/2 cup of cream without boiling. Slowly add the white chocolate. Stir for a few minutes. Then add the green tea. Keep stirring and keep that stove on medium low.

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Add the butter and keep mixing for another few minutes. The ingredients need to blend into a smooth dark green mixture.

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The color of the matcha should be bright sap green, otherwise it has gone past it’s prime. Pour the mixture into the lined pan. Place the pan in the fridge for 5 hours or overnight before cutting. After cutting the pieces with a very sharp and cool knife, use a wire mesh to sift additional green tea powder on the chocolates.

green in box

I used a left over truffle box from valentines day to gift the green morsels to some friends. How cute, and UNBELIEVABLY delicious. There is a sweet, yet complex bitter taste and melt in the mouth creamy texture.

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I may have first learned of ceremonial green tea when I saw the Karate Kid as a child. If you are an American thirty something, you can’t forget the romantic scene with the the green tea ceremony and beautiful Japanese girl. Three cheers Mr. Miyagi – a man after my own heart.

Drunken Pirate Cake

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This is a cake that I made at the spur of the moment. I saw the bananas starting to go brown and nobody was eating them. I thought it would be nice to make a sweet-ish bread and a sweeter sauce that could be added for a pirate effect. I literally threw these ingredients together with the hope of producing a dense cake that would soak up a rum sauce nicely. This is a homage to my dear friend Katt – and the rest of the pirates who soaked bread in rum so it would store for those long trips out at sea. Here is what I used:

  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup dark rum of choice
  • 2 bananas
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/2 cup almond milk

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blend and puree two bananas, rum, almond milk, vanilla together. Pour into dry mixture of flour, meal, sugar, nuts, salt, baking soda. Add one egg and mix well with a wooden or large spoon. Add almond milk to liquify mixture if needed. Pour into 9″ pan (buttered). Sprinkle nuts and add some slices of butter to the top. Bake at 350 for 35-40 min.

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Combine a shot of rum, one cup of water, one cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup honey, tablespoon of vanilla and a cinnamon stick. Sauce simmers for about an hour. Chill the sauce and drizzle on cake and sliced banana.

These birds have been eating the cat food! These fly away with one morsel at a time.

These birds have been eating the cat food! They fly away with one morsel at a time.

Lemon Baklava

All served up, best with some hot tea or coffee.

All served up, best with some hot tea or coffee.

  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter, melted, plus more for pan
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (sauce)
  • 1 cup of water (sauce)
  • 1/2 cup of honey (sauce)
  • 1/2 fresh lemon juice and zest (sauce)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3 cups walnuts, and other nuts you like
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 package (16 ounces) frozen phyllo dough thawed

It has been a very long winter for sure, and in this drafty and scenic season I find that citrus can brighten any day. I have always wanted to try Baklava, and this recipe worked out pretty well, although there are some things I might do a bit different the second time around. For one, I would not add quite an entire lemon zest as it can overpower the flavors of the nuts.

Andrew Wyeth watercolor

Andrew Wyeth watercolor

Andrew Wyeth is one of my favorite figurative painters. Not many would know this about me, but what I find so fantastic about him is the range of color variation and texture he achieves within a seemingly simple scene. This painting could have been made on our farm right about now. It seems simple in composition, subject, and material/technique, he makes it look easy – and yet there is so much detail. This is how his painting depicts a rich sense of not only place, but mood.

Our deepest snow fall this year - schools cancelled again!

Our deepest snow fall this year – schools cancelled again!

We awoke with a marsh mellowy fluff blanketed on all the things that are typically familiar to us. This is what I love about snow, it makes the world a new visual place to discover. The way the white of the snow cuts ‘negative space’ into objects is endlessly interesting. The contrast makes for unusual forms and implied or broken lines. It makes me think of one of my favorite children’s book writers, Hans Christian Andersen.

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The nut mixture can be anything you like. There are lots of great recipe suggestions out there, but honestly, you can use anything as long as the mixture is chopped or ground up to tooth size bits. I also used pecans, because I heard that it really helps with flavor. You will also find walnuts and almonds in this mixture. Good tip, if you use whole almonds and break down your  mixture with a food processor, do them separate from pecans and walnuts since they are significantly harder to break down.  Add brown sugar, cardamon (perfect with citrus), nutmeg and cinnamon (optional).

The sauce should be prepared while the dish is baking. Combine one cup of water, a half cup of sugar and a half cup of honey. Squeeze and zest half of a lemon. Simmer till it thickens a bit on medium for about 30 min – stir often. You’ll want to spoon the sauce on the baklava hot when it comes out of the oven. Important – when it comes to sauce, make sure you taste it before spooning it on – so that you don’t have too strong a lemon flavor and ruin the overall taste of the baklava with no turning back.

photo-7My sister Renee use to make spinach pie, and had mastered working with this paper thin dough. I decided to give it a try in memory of her and could just hear her chuckling at my clumsy rushed attempt to separate the layers. She had it down to an art. One thing I learned from this is, place plastic wrap, or wax paper and a towel over the dough once out of the package and unrolled. Do not take a break and walk away, or it will dry up and crack away. Butter the dish and and melt two bars of salted butter in a bowl. Preheat the oven to 350.

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Use a glass or metal 9″x12″ or similar dish. If you use glass the dish will cook faster so keep an eye on it. With each layer of phyllo, paint it entirely with butter. This is what makes the flakes pastry consistency when it bakes in the oven. Put down two layers of pastry, then sprinkle with nut mixture. Fold over sheets on the edges so it fits the dish. Repeat till you use about 17 sheets. Of course you can use more or less if it fits. Place in the fridge for 10-15 min, remove and cut into small squares. Now you are ready for the oven, and ready to prepare the sauce.

photoHere is the finished result. Duane helped with this one by keeping Arlo entertained while I destroyed the kitchen. What a messy but rewarding dessert to make.  I like that it has plenty of protein and a blast of vitamin C from the lemon.

Flourless Black Bean Brownie

Katt, you inspired this. You made black bean brownies early in this blog, but did not go into much detail about it. I was intrigued, and became even more motivated when I discovered that it will not only taste just like a moist rich brownie, but that it would not need flour. Seeing that I have been obsessed with desserts lately, this is the perfect recipe for me: lots of omega 3 and antioxidants for the babe.

As always I added some of my own twists to make it extra special and unique from the other recipes out there. For one, I added some brewed coffee instead of water to liquify the mixture. Coffee and cinnamon make chocolate taste richer, and you can add in in small amounts to just accent the cocoa flavor.

Ingredients:

  • one 15 oz can of black beans – rinse and drain
  • A few tablespoons of crushed flax seed
  • A few tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • a couple splashes of coffee to moisten mixture
  • Dash or two of cinnamon
  • Walnuts to taste
  • 1 egg (optional – flax is a replacement if you blend it )
Black beans rinsed. Mixture of coconut oil, flax seed and beans in my food processor.

Black beans rinsed. Mixture of coconut oil, flax seed and beans in my food processor.

Rinse and drain beans, put them in the food processor. Add vanilla, sugar, coconut oil, flax, coffee and cocoa. I know, it is a lot, but my processor could take it. Blend til mixed. Don’t forget the egg (optional with the flax), salt and baking powder. This will fluff it up.

flaxseed

If you want the vegan version of this brownie check out how to make  a flax egg here:

http://www.veganbaking.net/recipes/egg-replacers/flax-seed-egg-replacer

the mixture on the right. Should not be as thick as frosting - maybe just a bit moister. On the right, in the pan and ready to go with walnuts on top. You can add semi sweet chips too.

the mixture on the right. Should not be as thick as frosting – maybe just a bit moister. On the right, in the pan and ready to go with walnuts on top. You can add semi sweet chips too.

Spread mixture into a 9″ pie pan and sprinkle on nuts. I pressed them into the batter slightly. Place in the oven about mid height for 20-25 min on 350. let set afterwards for 30 min. It will be super moist, so serve gently. Yum!

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Roasting marshmallows

Hey Katt, wish you could have joined us Saturday for a marsh mellow roasting party. Duane got the bon fire going and we found jumbo mash mallows at the supermarket. No frills, just the mellow melt. yum. Here is one of our friends from Iran trying out her first all American puff ‘perfectly roasted’ although there is a wide range of opinions about the perfectly roasted marshmallow. Some like a little black from the fire. I am partial toward the evenly brown toasted.

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It started off a snowy day and then the sun came out and melted most of it away. Here is Arlo in the foreground with our friend Annie. I made sure he was bundled up – and he practically looked like a marshmallow. Not to be roasted of course.

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Makin’ Pies

Hey Lori,

The holidays have come and gone and I neglected to keep up with posting some of the delectible treats made and devoured in that time, including my visit with you when Arlo was born, how naughty! So let me start back with a few photos of the pumpkin cheesecake and pumpkin pie we made in December. I can’t recall the recipe but it sure was good.

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What’s up Katt – I had to add this pic of Mei Mei and how we made this delicious pie.

Mei Mei pie

Ingredients:

  • All butter pie crust
  • one 15 oz can of pumpkin
  • one 8 oz box of cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons spice chai mix (optional)
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 2 tsp cinnamon and nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Mix flour, pumpkin, spices, vanilla in a small bowl. In large bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Gradually beat in brown sugar and 2/3 cup granulated sugar until smooth. On low speed, beat in 1 egg at a time just until blended. Gradually beat in pumpkin mixture until smooth. Pour filling over crust. Bake 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 25 minutes or until set but center of cheesecake still jiggles slightly when moved. Turn oven off; open oven door at least 4 inches. Let cheesecake remain in oven 30 minutes

Miracle Blueberry Muffins

Hey Katt, it is a miracle that I found the time to make these blueberry muffins and that they turned out so well. I highly recommend this recipe. It consists of a batter and a crumble. For the batter I used three times the blueberries, frozen and organic and it worked out really well (original recipe asks for one lame cup of fresh blueberries). The crumble is butter, spice and flour forked together (what fun) but I added some chopped walnuts and vanilla. Do what you like.

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  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.
  2. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup (1/3 cup vegetable oil, 1/3 cup milk). Mix this with flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.
  3. To Make Crumb Topping: Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

arlo muffin

Here is Arlo just about to go into town saying “make more muffins mom!”. They are light and fluffy, and crunchy on top.

Fresh Apple Tart

Hey Katt, can’t wait to see more from you and your boating adventures.

My favorite thing about your posts are the sense of place that I get from

your photos. Living on a boat seems to give you a special lens on the world

and I look forward to joining you for some trips in the future. The crab coup

looked super good – although off limits for my pregnancy.

Even though I have been so busy lately getting the house ready for the baby

and teaching, it is a pleasure to enjoy the farm in it’s autumnal splendor before

the winter sets in. we are having some friends over this weekend and we have

more apples on the tree than we know what to do with.

The solution is obvious…make an apple tart!

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The glaze that you see here was made by cooking on medium/low heat:

  • 2 cups of organic apple juice
  • Splash of pure cranberry juice (for tartness and color)
  • 2 tablespoons of corn starch
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • 1/4 cup of sugar or sugar substitute

Slice about five-6 apples thin and stack them in a spiral pattern about 3-4 layers deep,

or depending on the depth of your crust. I didn’t make my own this time but used a

gluten-free, and it turned out pretty yummy.

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Fisher loves apples from the tree. Here he is holding the tart before it went into the oven.

I also poured some of the glaze in the bottom of the pie

and then on top of the apple slices when I was done stacking.

Cook till pie crust is cooked – about 45 min at 350 degrees F.