Fast Berry Peach Pie

Ever start making something and realize you were short an ingredient halfway through the process? The inspiration for this recipe was an unexpected shortage of berries. The addition of canned peaches saved the day.

blackberry-pie

Ingredients:

  • Your favorite recipe for 9 inch pie crust, double crust size
  • About 1 1/2 cups mixed berries, thawed slightly (defrost in microwave works well)
  • 1 cup canned peaches, with juice
  • 1/3 cup sugar or to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons flour (or your favorite thickener)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400° F

  1. Prepare and roll out pie crust for bottom layer.
  2. Lay bottom crust into 9 inch pie plate.
  3. Mix together filling ingredients in a medium bowl.
  4. Add filling to pie plate.
  5. Cover with top crust and crimp edges. Prick top crust with fork.
  6. Bake 40-45 minutes, until crust is golden brown.

This works well as a thrown together, rustic-looking pie. Don’t spend a lot of time crimping the edges.

Incredibly Easy Oatmeal Bars

Sometimes you need something easy and fast for a party or bake sale. They aren’t pretty, but these oatmeal bars are always delicious and consistently please kids.

oatmeal-bar-22

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk-free margarine, such as Earth Balance®
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 4 cups of quick oats (oatmeal)

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Grease 1 standard cake pan.
  3. Mix margarine, brown sugar and baking soda in a medium-sized saucepan over medium to high heat, and stir regularly until the mixture begins to boil.
  4. Remove from heat, add oatmeal and mix thoroughly.
  5. Transfer to cake pan and smooth out layer.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes. Bars will still be soft.
  7. Cut into bars while still warm (will harden and crumble if cut after cooled.)

Now, wasn’t that easy?

What is your favorite dessert bar recipe?

 

Picnics and Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Ever hear of The Portland Picnic Society?  The members are writers and foodies from Portland, Oregon who have taken the family picnic to a whole new level. To encourage others to give it a try, they have written the delightful new book The Picnic: Recipes and Inspiration from Basket to Blanket by Marnie Hanel, Andrea Slonecker, and Jen Stevenson, with illustrations by Emily Isabella.

What draws your eye first is the bright cover.  Emily Isabella’s illustrations throughout the book are fresh, whimsical, and pretty. They give the book a wonderful flavor and tie everything together in a way that photographs might not.

Inside you find out that the book is based on four years of hands-on picnic experience. It has organizational tips, theme ideas, lists of pratfalls to avoid, and loads of recipes to make your next outdoor get-together a rousing success.

Highlights include a dozen ways to dress up deviled eggs, imaginative salads, 10 ideas for baguette sandwiches, main courses, beverages, and even how to use dry ice to preserve fresh fruit paletas. If a list of 99 uses for a Mason jar gets your creative juices flowing, then this book for you.

Not a fan of picnics? If this book doesn’t inspire you to give it another try, you will still find plenty of ideas for your next party of any sort.

____

The Savory Rosemary Pecan Sandies with Marmalade on page 48 sounded yummy, but I thought I could make them less complicated by modifying a treasured recipe for almond butter shortbread cookies.

pecan-shortbread-cookies-356

Pecan Butter Shortbread Cookies

To make the pecan “butter,”

  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 2 Tablespoons you favorite vegetable oil
  • 2-3 Tablespoons water

Finely grind the pecans in a food processor. Drizzle in the oil and water to make the consistency of paste.

pecan-nut-butter-349

For the cookies,

  • 1 cup Earth Balance®, margarine, or butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup pecan butter (or almond butter, if preferred)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Grease a cookie sheet.
  2. Melt the Earth Balance® and mix with the pecan butter and brown sugar in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
  3.  Add the flour and mix well. The batter will be stiff and crumbly, but should form into balls by hand. If it doesn’t clump, then add another Tablespoon of water.
  4. For into walnut-sized balls and then flatten into cookie shapes with hands. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake about 16 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Notes:  This easy recipe is particularly child friendly because it does not contain eggs. The children can mix and sample the dough without worry about contamination.

Also, these shortbread cookies are not overly sweet. They pair well with the marmalade, as suggested in the book, or with jams or jellies.

____

The Picnic is the perfect book to inspire spontaneous gatherings at a park or an intimate al fresco meal in the back yard.

Check The Portland Picnic Society blog for more information and tons of recipes.

Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Artisan (April 7, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1579656080
ISBN-13: 978-1579656089

Disclosure: I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

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Be sure to visit Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads for more recipes and books.

wkendcooking

 

Favorite Cinnamon-Flavored Fruit Salad

The Food on Friday theme this week at Carole’s Chatter is pineapple. Our family’s favorite fruit salad showcases pineapple chunks, so it seemed like an obvious choice to share.

cinnamon-fruit-salad

Don’t be shy to include the pink grapefruit sections, even if you aren’t a big grapefruit fan. The tart grapefruit chunks are a wonderful counterpoint to the sweet cinnamon syrup.

Ingredients:

  • 1 roughly 16-ounce sliced peaches in heavy syrup (reserve syrup)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 navel oranges
  • 2 pink grapefruit
  • 1 pineapple, or 1 16-ounce can pineapple chunks
  • 2 pints strawberries, washed and hulled

Preparation:

1. Thoroughly drain the heavy syrup from the canned peaches into a small saucepan. Add the peaches to a large, decorative salad bowl.

2. Whisk the cinnamon into the syrup and then bring to boiling over a medium-high heat. Reduce the temperature and simmer about 10 minutes, until thickened slightly. Remove the saucepan with the syrup from heat and let cool.

3. Prepare the fruit. First, wash the oranges, grapefruit and strawberries. Grate the zest of one orange into the salad bowl. Cut the peel from the oranges and grapefruit, removing the bitter inner rind and discard the peel. Section the fruit and cut into chunks. Add to the salad bowl. Note:  if the oranges or grapefruit are not too juicy, you can hold them over the bowl to section and catch the juice. If the fruit is very juicy, however, it can make the salad too soupy. In that case, catch the juice in a separate container for another use.

4. Peel and core the pineapple and cut remaining fruit into bite-size chunks. If using canned pineapple chunks, drain. Add to salad.

5. Hull and slice the strawberries. Add to fruit mixture. Pour syrup over salad and stir. Chill until serving.

Note:  this salad is best prepared fresh.

Pumpkin Quick Bread

Nothing beats a warm piece of pumpkin bread on a cool morning.

best-pumpkin-bread-310

Pumpkin Quick Bread Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (can substitute an equal amount of almond meal for up to one cup of the flour)
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree or canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup your favorite vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Preparation:

  1. Grease a 9 x 5 bread loaf pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients (first 7 on list).
  3. In a large measuring cup or small mixing bowl combine the remaining wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  4. Form a depression in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour wet ingredients into it.
  5. Fold together until just moistened (do not over mix).
  6. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 65 minutes, until lightly browned and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

This is a family favorite recipe that I have been making for years.

Do you have a favorite pumpkin bread recipe?

Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup

The Food on Friday theme this week at Carole’s Chatter is soup, which fits nicely with the book we read for Weekend Cooking so let’s combine them.

The book is On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome, with Love and Pasta by Jen Lin-Liu.

Author and cooking school owner Jen Lin-Liu decided to follow the famous Silk Road route from China to Italy to see how noodles spread and changed across the region. The result is a delicious mix of travel, food, and memoir. It includes noodle and pasta recipes from China, Central Asia, Iran, Turkey, and Italy.

By the way, the story that Marco Polo brought noodles to Italy is just that, a story.

To celebrate the book, let’s make a Chinese chicken noodle soup.

chinese-chicken-noodle-soup-339

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons rice bran oil, or your favorite cooking oil
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups Napa or Chinese cabbage, chopped
  • 6 green onions, sliced (split use)
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (approx. two large) cut into pieces
  • 1 8 ounce package yaki soba-type noodles and water for cooking
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (for garnish)

Preparation:

  1. Prepare vegetables and meat by cutting up and chopping. Refrigerate chicken until ready to use.
  2. In a sturdy soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Quickly add the cabbage and 5 of the green onions and stir-fry about 5 minutes (retain 1 chopped green onion as garnish).
  3. Add the chicken broth, soy sauce (to taste) and rice vinegar. Bring to boil and add chopped chicken. Quickly reduce to a simmer and cook until chicken is just cooked through (chicken breast meat can get tough in soups if over cooked).
  4. In a separate pot, cook the noodles in boiling water as per the package instructions.
  5. Add the cooked noodles to the chicken soup mixture. Serve immediately with a garnish of chopped cilantro, green onions and a dash of your favorite chili-garlic sauce, if desired.

In her book, Jen Lin-Liu promises videos to show how to make hand-pulled noodles at her website. The URL she lists in the book does not seem to exist, however, so here is a related video. If the music isn’t to your taste, turn it down, because watching this video to the end is worth it.

Have you ever had hand-pulled noodles?

Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Books (August 5, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1594632723
ISBN-13: 978-1594632723

Disclosure: I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

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Be sure to visit Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads for more recipes and books.

wkendcooking

 

Showing a Little Salad Love

Have you ever had a meal or food so life-changing that you remember it years later? That was my experience with a salad (I’m feeling very “first person” today).

I grew up in a time and a place where something called a salad was consistently iceberg lettuce with a few pale tomatoes and perhaps a slice or two of carrot mixed in. It was no wonder that I equated eating salads with torture.

One meal in college, however, changed everything. My date took me to the type of restaurant with dim lights, candles, and elegant decor. We ordered and the server brought what was the house salad to the table. It wasn’t iceberg lettuce. Instead it was spinach, mushrooms and bacon. What a concept! What flavor! It was life changing. Well, maybe not that much, but I do still enjoy that combination.

 

spinach-mushroom-salad-011
Imagine my delight when I discovered the new book, Salad Love: Crunchy, Savory, and Filling Meals You Can Make Every Day by David Bez.

 

Okay, I have to admit I am a sucker for bright colors, fabulous design, and fantastic food photography, which are abundant in this book. Each perfect salad is served up on a classic white plate, with nothing to detract the eye from the sumptuous ingredients.

Underlying the attractive look is a simple method to construct a great salad every time. In the front, Bez explains his system with plenty of photographs and examples. Although I’m not a big fan of salad dressings, I was particularly attracted to his because they are diverse and at the same time uncomplicated.

 

salmon-argula-corn-salad-045

I experimented with the Hot-smoked Salmon, Corn and Broccoli salad  (page 104).

Ingredients:

  • Baby argula greens
  • Broccoli, chopped (I substituted broccoli slaw)
  • Corn
  • Hot-smoked salmon (I substituted regular smoked salmon)
  • Chives

Dressing:  Bez suggests a simple olive olive and balsamic vinegar pairing.

The results were delicious. Seriously! The only change I might consider would be to use dill rather than chives, because salmon pairs nicely with dill. Even without the salmon, this salad would make a lovely side for any meal.

If you’d like to find out more, check David Bez’s Salad Pride blog, which preceded the book. You just might find some salad memories of your own.

Do you have a favorite salad? What ingredients do you use?

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Clarkson Potter (February 24, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0804186782
ISBN-13: 978-0804186780
Disclosure: I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.

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Be sure to visit Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads for more recipes and books.

wkendcooking

Easy Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Want an easy dessert that tastes like you spent hours on it?

pumpkin-bread-pudding-015

Try our pumpkin bread pudding (it’s also non-dairy).

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (fresh or canned)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup rice, soy or almond milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 to 2 tsp cinnamon (to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • About 3 cups or 3 slices hearty white bread, torn into pieces (see note)

Preheat oven to 350° F.

  1. Thoroughly grease a 1 quart casserole dish (I used Earth Balance, but use whatever you prefer).
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the first three (wet) ingredients, mixing thoroughly.
  3. Add the sugar and spices.
  4. Tear the bread into cubes roughly 1 by 1 inch. Quickly fold into the liquid ingredients, but don’t over mix.
  5. Transfer to the greased casserole and bake for 1 hour, until lightly browned and firm.

Serving suggestion:  Try adding a scoop of vanilla non-dairy ice cream to warm bread pudding.

Note on bread:  Bread pudding traditionally calls for slightly stale bread. You can use any hearty white bread fresh, however. Also, if you use whole wheat bread, consider substituting brown sugar for the sweetener, giving a heartier flavor.

non-dairy Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Appropriately, we are linking up with recipe of the week today for cinnamon desserts.

 

Link up your recipe of the week

Pumpkin Pie in a Glass: Pumpkin Smoothie

Today we are linking up with Carole’s Chatter meme Food on Friday and the theme is drinks.

Do you have some pumpkin puree left over? Looking for a fun fall-themed smoothie?

 

pumpkin-smoothie-clipped

Try a pumpkin smoothie!

Add to a blender:

  • 1/2 cup canned or pureed pumpkin
  • 2 cups milk, soy milk, almond milk or rice milk
  • 1/4 cup sweetener, such as maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • dash nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves

Blend until well mixed. Serve cold.

If you use fresh-roasted pureed pumpkin, then you might be able to reduce the sweetener. Commercial canned pumpkin tends to have a stronger, slightly bitter overtone.

 

Pumpkin-smoothie-recipe

Can Cream Puffs Go Non-Dairy?

My new copy of In a French Kitchen: Tales and Traditions of Everyday Home Cooking in France by Susan Herrmann Loomis has arrived!

In case you were wondering, this book is not simply recipes (although there are 85 recipes throughout the book), but more thoughts and experiences showcasing how the typical French home cook prepares meals.

Loomis reveals a great deal, but also allows the readers to make some of their own conclusions.

A few points from the book:

1. French cooks tend to have learned how to cook from close family members, especially the grandmother (Mamie).
2. Shopping is done daily, and ingredients are local, either from the garden or the farmer’s market.
3. Very few ingredients are purchased prepared, but instead are made from scratch.

Reading from a scientist’s perspective, I have to admit I wondered whether the Hawthorne effect might be an issue. The Hawthorne effect (also called observer effect) is when the subjects modify their behavior as a result of being observed. If you knew a fairly famous author was hanging around your kitchen or coming over for a meal, wouldn’t you tend to put your best foot forward, or at the very least conform to perceived standards? What do you think?

In any case, the book is fascinating to read and trying some of the recipes is a must. I decided the profiteroles (or cream puffs) on page 133 sounded good. Of course, we had to make them dairy-free. Would it work?

non-dairy-cream-puff

Non-dairy Cream Puff

Choux Pastry (cream puff shell)

  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance (or butter, if allowed)
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 450°. Grease a large cookie sheet.

2. Measure the flour and set aside to have ready.

3. Add the Earth Balance and water to a medium saucepan. Bring to boiling over a high heat. When the Earth Balance is melted and the water reaches a full boil, add the flour quickly and all at once. Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until the flour is mixed in and pulls away from the sides of the pan to form a ball. Remove from the heat and stir for about one more minute.

4. Add eggs one at a time. They will resist mixing, but beat them in until the batter is smooth.

5. Drop the batter by the Tablespoonful onto the cookie sheet. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 325° and bake another 25 minutes. The shells should be puffy and golden brown.

Filling:

Split the cream puff shell and fill with either your favorite non-dairy ice cream or non-dairy pudding.

Non-dairy Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups soy, almond or coconut milk
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch (substitute another thickener, such as flour, if corn not allowed)
  • 1/3 cup sugar or to your taste (sweetened milk flavors will require less sugar)

Measure the ingredients into a saucepan and whisk them together. Place over high heat and stir constantly until mixture boils and begins to thicken. Remove from heat and allow to cool briefly before use. Refrigerate if not used immediately.

Optional Chocolate Sauce

The easiest way to make a quick chocolate sauce is to melt a few pieces of dark chocolate (dairy-free) in a small microwave-safe bowl in the microwave.

The second easiest way is to make a chocolate sauce using powdered baking cocoa.

  • 1/3 cup baking cocoa
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup hot water

Heat the water either in a saucepan or in the microwave until it produces wisps of steam (it doesn’t need to boil). Stir in the cocoa and sugar until combined well and reaches a smooth texture.

Frankly, we didn’t miss the dairy.

What is your favorite way to make cream puffs?

 

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Be sure to visit Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads for more recipes and books.

wkendcooking
____________________
Disclosure: I am an affiliate with Amazon so I can provide you with cover images and links to more information about books and products. As you probably are aware, if you click through the highlighted title link and purchase a product, I will receive a very small commission, at no extra cost to you. Any proceeds help defray the costs of hosting and maintaining this website.