It's Secret Recipe Club time! And this month I was assigned the blog I've been waiting for - Smells Like Brownies by my best friend, Melissa! Yay! You may recognize the name, because we cook lunch together every week, and I often blog about it. Melissa is a stay-at-home mommy to a very active little boy, and a precious baby girl. She is devoted to her family and God in a way that is truly inspirational, as well as being a phenomenal baker and photographer. She's just the best and I am so excited to share her blog with you!
Eliminating SRC posts and dishes that we made together narrowed down the field quite a bit, but I still had no trouble finding a ton of things I wanted to make. I actually intended to make several dishes and blog about each of them, but I kept getting sick and injured this month and had to narrow it down to the number one thing I wanted make - this gorgeous Golden Nectarine Cake. Which is kind of hilarious because Melissa hates fruit, so I doubt she even got to try this cake.
The rest of my top "to-try" dishes (which are all vegetarian, because Melissa is a vegetarian) are Debby's famous Mac and Cauliflower with Ritz Crust (because I've heard her talk about it so many times), this Broccoli and Purple Potato Gribiche (that I've been drooling over since she posted it), Monster Green Pea Burgers, Lemongrass Coconut Noodles, and Couscous-Stuffed Eggplant with Tahini Sauce.
Let's get back to that cake! I loved this recipe because it was easy for a non-baker like me to follow. Start with two nectarines and slice them into wedges. Is there anything more summery than stone fruit?
It's time for another Secret Recipe Club reveal! This month, I was assigned Pale Yellow - written by a science teacher (informal science educator/curriculum specialist?) and avid baker with two adorable turtles.
She has a TON of great dessert recipes - Brown Butter Biscoff Rice Krispie Treats, Brown Butter Banana Bourbon and Bacon Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting (someone call Elvis), and Tres Leches Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Buttercream. She also has some yummy looking boozy recipes - Banana Leche y Cafe con Chocolate y Rum, Boozy Nutella Milkshake, Painkiller Cocktail, and Vanilla Pudding Shots. There are also some tasty sounding savory baked goods - Roasted Strawberry Blue Cheese and Walnut Biscuits, and Caramelized Onion Bacon and Smoked Gouda Biscuits.
I ended up settling on these Blueberry Rhubarb Streusel Muffins, except that my store didn't have any rhubarb (not even frozen!) so I used raspberries instead. I thought the color and tartness would be similar to rhubarb. They came out great! Tender and sweet, but with a little tang.
I recently moved to a new house about 35 minutes from my old one, but I still have a gym membership near my old place because I need to use up some training sessions before I quit. So I've been driving over there twice a week to train. I'm used to drinking a protein shake on the way to the gym, working out, then getting lunch. But now with the extra drive (and waking up earlier), I'm getting hungry by the time I get to the gym - and that is no good for working out! So here is where these (vegan, paleo, gluten-free) date and nut bars come in handy. I throw one in my bag straight from the freezer, and by the time I get to the gym they are thawed, so I eat it before heading in. They fill me up and give me a boost of energy - perfect!
These are also great for healthy homemade snacks or desserts, and especially for people with food allergies (other than nuts, obviously). I bet kids would love them.
The crust is made from nuts, date, and coconut - most of which is pressed into the bottom of a pan, and the rest is sprinkled on top later. The original poster is a big fan of soaking and drying nuts before eating them to remove the phytic acid that can make them difficult to digest. I tried it for this recipe and it took quite a bit of time (I dried them in the slow cooker overnight), but if that is too much work for you it's okay to just use raw nuts. The original recipe also calls for brazil and macadamia nuts, but these are a bit hard to find and a little expensive. I recommend raw cashews as a replacement.
The filling is made from dates, dried figs, and orange zest - yum.
Now that we are nearing the end of Spring (that never really felt like Spring, dangit) - it's time to preserve some of that delicate seasonal fruit. I'm talking strawberries and rhubarb, people. I tried out three different jam recipes in the same day, because I am a crazy person (and because I bought way too many local strawberries at the farmers market).
First up is my mother-in-law's fresh strawberry syrup recipe (pictured in front and in the bowl on the right) - if only I had access to Oregon berries like her! Jasper loves this recipe, so I make a TON and freeze it to use all year (if it lasts that long). He loves to put it on sourdough pancakes and vanilla ice cream, I like it swirled into plain Greek yogurt. This is a raw fruit jam recipe (with more berries and less sugar to make it more of a syrup than a jam), so the taste of the fresh berries really comes through.
Next is a Raspberry and Rhubarb Jam with Cardamom (pictured in the middle and in the jar on the left) that was supposed to use apple juice, but I had cranberry on hand so I subbed that and it added a lot of cranberry flavor. It tastes very fall like to me because of the cranberry and spices. This is the only jam that I canned, so I will probably save it for the fall. If you want more of the rhubarb flavor to come through, use the apple juice instead.
And last is a Rhubarb, Raspberry, and Strawberry Jam thickened with Chia Seeds (pictured in the back and in the jar on the right). This is touted as a healthy recipe because the fruit is raw and it uses raw honey as sweetener. Because you use chia seeds to thicken it, instead of pectin, you can use much less sugar than you could for a traditional jam. This one came out pretty tart for me, but Jasper really likes it. The concept works really well, so I will probably be trying out different fruits. This recipe actually said to just puree the raw rhubarb, but I was pretty skeptical about that, so I simmered it in a little bit of cranberry juice first (since I was already doing that for the other jam).
Let's get jammin! I really crack myself up...
This salad is so pretty! And yummy! And easy! And healthy! And did I mention how pretty it is? Light and fresh, and perfect for Spring or Summer. This would be great to bring to a potluck or picnic.
All you do is cook and cool quinoa (I really like the tri-color for this), which can be done in advance. Then top with cut watermelon, strawberries, and feta. Drizzle with a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, honey, salt, and pepper. Then finish with basil and sliced almonds. That's it! I used some purple basil from my garden, isn't it pretty? It tastes just like regular Genovese basil.
You can serve it in a platter, or individual containers - up to you! I think it would travel pretty well, especially if you pack the dressing separately. It's also really satisfying - you have crunch from the watermelon, almonds, and even the quinoa (which is also very filling), and a salty-sweet combo that is just awesome.
As promised in my last post, today we are talking about Rhubarb Sour Cream Pie. Oh yeah, baby. I have a bonafide obsession with fruit and sour cream pies. That tang to balance out sweetness, and the creaminess - yum.
Just a few ingredients are all that is required - flour, sugar, sour cream, and an egg for the custard; and chopped rhubarb.
We already talked about crust this week, so you know that is going to be good. I like the idea of a crumble topping with this, especially to add sweetness since rhubarb is so tart.
Here's another quick, end of Summer post for you - melon pops! Half cantaloupe, half honeydew, all yummy.
They are made with just melon pureed with a little agave (optional). The layering looks really cute, and is easy to do, but you could do whole pops of one or the other melon. Quick, easy, healthy treats - yay!
Makes 10 pops
1/4 cantaloupe, cubed
1/4 honeydew, cubed
agave, to taste (optional)
Place the honeydew cubes in a blender and puree. Add agave, if using, keeping in mind that the pops will be less sweet when frozen.
Pour the honeydew mixture into an ice pop mold, being careful not to fill more than halfway. Freeze until slushy, about an hour. (Don't be like me and let it freeze solid, preventing the layers from sticking together - doh!)
Repeat the process with the cantaloupe, being careful when adding it to the mold not to mix the layers. Insert wooden sticks and freeze until solid.
Ugh - sorry folks, I've been bad about posting this last week! And this post is going to be pretty short, too. We are finally on our way into Fall, but the transition has been slow and there is still some stone fruit to be had. I am still really into tartines at the moment, so I paired sliced nectarine with goat cheese, prosciutto, and basil for a quick lunch.
Then the store finally had some burrata in (this is a seriously random occurrence, you never know), so I paired that with some ripe peach, basil, EVOO, balsamic, and sea salt.
Everybody knows that peaches and cream go well together, so it makes sense to think that peaches would also pair perfectly with creme fraiche. I recently discovered that you can make creme friache at home with just heavy cream and buttermilk - which is way cheaper than buying it! I used the thick, creamy, and tart product in not one, not two, not three, but FOUR peach recipes. So let's dig in!
First up is a pie that I have blogged about before, but am bringing up again because it is just so freaking good. Peaches, creme fraiche, and streusel - layered into tender, flaky pie crust. Definitely one of my favorite pies ever.
Next up we have muffins made moist with the help of creme fraiche, packed with chunks of juicy peach, and with a little kick from both fresh and candied ginger. My husband LOVED these - we went through all 24 muffins in 2 weeks!
What is better in the summer than a lovely bowl of ice cream? This peach sherbet gets it's tart creaminess from (you guessed it!) homemade creme fraiche.
It's pretty easy to make, too, as far as ice cream goes. You do have to cook the peaches first, and then chill them. But after that it is just blend and freeze!
Last, but not least, is a white peach and lemon thyme galette served with sweetened creme fraiche. I, foolishly, did not notice that my peaches weren't ripe before I peeled them and had to get a bit creative, poaching them in honey, lemon thyme, and white wine in order to soften them before baking.
There are many recipes to choose from here, all of them delicious. Enjoy those peaches while they last!
This rustic beauty came about by accident. I had intended to make a cherry pie, but my plans for obtaining cherries fell through. So I ended up with some pie dough and nothing else. I went to the store to see what fruit was available and found some Turkish figs. "This could definitely work," I thought. Then I thought of a creamy smear of mascarpone underneath, and oh! What if I added in some goat cheese, too?
So I dumped a container each of goat cheese and mascarpone cheese into bowl with some honey and mixed them together. Then I got to thinking, "What about some cardamom in here?" So in it went.
I rolled out my pie dough and spread the cheese mixture over it. I only ended up using half of it, but it made a great dip for crackers and fruit so that was fine. I arranged the quartered figs over the spread and then had another thought. "You know what goes great with cardamom? Coconut!" So I dug out some sweetened coconut flakes from the pantry to sprinkle over the top. A brush of cold water and sprinkling of turbinado sugar later, and my masterpiece was ready to bake.
I threw a lot of ingredients into here, but they ended up blending perfectly. The spread sort of merged with the flaky crust to make a creamy base for the figs; and the coconut came out perfectly toasted. Bonus? My husband was out of town and I got to eat the whole thing myself! This recipe may have been an accident, but I will definitely be making it again.