Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Trifle fit for a King

If it wasn't for my Nana, my Dad wouldn't be here.... and what a shame that would be, because I wouldn't be here either! No, really...my Dad is the best. He is one of the most sensitive, caring, and nurturing men I have ever met. He prides himself in being honest. One of the most important traits in a human being, in my opinion!

Of course, I didn't always get along with my Dad. There were the years in highschool, where I thought he was too hard on me, too strict, and just plain mean! I look back now and see that the decisions he made in raising me were to my benefit. He taught me to appreciate things, to love unconditionally, and to be true to myself. If he was reading this right now, he would be humbled. He doesn't believe that anything he has done has been that extroardinary, but I beg to differ. He has always said, "there is nothing wrong with being average." But there is nothing average about him....especially his taste in FOOD.

My Dad has got to be one of the best throw-it-together, one-pot-cooker, I have ever met. I don't think he got this trait from my Nana, because to be honest with you...she wasn't the best cook! He get's this from not being afraid to try new things, to be daring, and just unique.

His favorite dessert is Trifle. There is no recipe for this deliciously fresh dessert. As a matter of fact, part of the fun of making it is that it tastes different everytime. So, here is how I made it for Father's Day this year. Feel free to change whatever you want in it. I promise you, it won't disappoint.

A Trifle Fit for a King

2 packages lady fingers or a loaf of pound cake
1/4 cup dark rum (or liquer of choice)
16oz container of tapioca or vanilla pudding
lots of fresh fruit (bananas, kiwi, peaches, berries)
1 cup of whipping cream*
sprinkle of powdered sugar

In a trifle dish (or clear bowl), layer lady fingers in the bottom, drizzle with rum. Continue to layer with tapioca & fruit. Then put another layer of lady fingers on top, drizzle with rum, and continue. Top with fresh whipped cream & fruit.

* To make whipped cream, place whipping cream and about 1/8 c. of powered sugar in bowl. Mix with beaters until soft peaks form. I added a splash of rum to mine too!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I FIGured it out

Another thing I inherited when I moved into this house, is a FIG tree. It is the most beautiful tree in the yard. The bright green distinctly shaped leaves, just scream "take a picture of me!"

I remember my Dad always walking out to this fig tree, grabbing a plump purple piece of fruit and taking a bite out of it...skin and all. To be honest, I never quite got the appeal of it. To me, it was sweet, but had such a strange texture. Now... I have a FIG a plenty.... I need to pick these bad boys and do something with them before the dang crows get to them! So here, I am...taking any suggestion I can to make something with figs. My husband never tasted a fig before moving here.... his first response to the taste, "well, it doesn't taste much like a Fig Newton." Good answer honey! But No...they are better than a Fig Newton, especially prepared like this....

Fig & Goat Cheese with Balsamic Appetizer

made up by me (I FIGured it out!!)

A few fresh figs, rinsed & sliced

A few ounces of fresh goat cheese

1/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette

1 tsp. sugar

your favorite crackers, or crostini bread (next time I will do the bread, but I didn't have any today!!)

Simmer balsamic & sugar in a saucepan, stirring constantly, making sure not to burn! Allow to reduce and thicken.

Place goat cheese & figs on a platter, sprinkle with balsamic vinaigrette


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Just Peachy

I have a peach tree....

The fruit isn't quite ready yet, but everyday I go out into the backyard, put my nose up to the little fuzzy fruit and take in a big whif. I love that smell. Peaches have to be one of my favorite fruit. They are sweet and juicy and just remind me of summer. I am going to have A LOT of peaches here soon. So, I started "experimenting" with what I will do with them. I could can or jam, or whatever you call it!! But I won't. I will probably feed them to my kids until they turn into sweet little peaches, or... I will make Minted Peach Oatmeal! It doesn't matter that it is summer and oatmeal is a "winter" breakfast. I will eat it. I threw this together this morning and wanted more and more. The problem is, I only had one peach, and it was store bought. But this is what I plan to do with my peaches once they are ready to harvest. You should try it, it is light, sweet, and fulfilling.

Minted Peach Oatmeal

1 cup cooked old fashioned oats
a splash of milk

1 ripe peach, cut into pieces
1 squirt of agave nectar (to sweeten it)
a sprinkle of cinnamon

1 large mint leaf chopped up

Cook the oats on the stove, how you like it.... add the milk, peach, agave nectar, cinnamon, and mint. Mix and EAT!

I promise you will want more:)

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Cookie Jar

When I was a little girl, my Nana would make the best cookies....Ironically enough, my Grandfather was a Diabetic, yet there were always cookies in the house. I can rememeber being a little girl and my Grandpa Joe whispering, "Girls, go get me a cookie from the cookie jar, but shhhh...don't tell Mother." I somehow inherited the infamous cookie jar. When I received this old wooden cookie container, it still had crumbs in it from my Nana's cookies...as gross as that might be!! I cleaned it out and thought, I have to carry on the tradition of baking cookies and placing them in this jar. It helps that Mason (my oldest son) loves to bake. I think he really just likes eating the butter & sugar after they have been creamed together. Can you blame him???

I have a new favorite cookie recipe. It came from my friend Sara @http://culinerapy.blogspot.com . I think it was her Grandmother's Recipe... and they are the best cookies I have had in a long time. They are salty, yet sweet, and best of all...they are crispy! Oh ya, and they have oatmeal in them, which makes me think they can substitute for your breakfast! She wrote a great story about these cookies, so you should check it out. As for now.. I am sharing her recipe with all of you. I have made these cookies twice now, changed a few things from her recipe and I am pretty sure, that you can't go wrong with adding whatever you love to these tastey bites.

Salty, Crispy Oatmeal Cookies
adapted from Cook's Illustrated & Culinerapy

1 cup all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour)
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)..(I used a little less)
1 bar (3.5 ounces) good quality white chocolate, or a handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl.

2. In standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars at medium-low speed until just combined. Increase speed to medium and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula. Add egg and vanilla and beat on medium-low until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl again. With mixer running at low speed, add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated and smooth, 10 seconds. With mixer still running on low, gradually add oats and chocolate and mix until well incorporated, 20 seconds. Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed.

3. Divide dough into 24 equal portions, each about 2 tablespoons, then roll between palms into balls. Place cookies on prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 2 1/2 inches apart, 8 dough balls per sheet. Using fingertips, gently press each dough ball to 3/4-inch thickness. Lightly sprinkle sea salt evenly over flattened dough balls before baking. They will spread and flatten quite a bit during baking.

4. Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are deep golden brown, 13 to 16 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely on sheet.