Pumpkin-Apple Streusel Muffins

Pumpkin-Apple Streusel Muffins

I’ve just eaten one warm from the oven..I was patient just long enough to photograph them and then I HAD to have one.  Oh,Boy,  are they good!  Fall spices, apple and pumpkin married together, not too sweet, a tender crumb, and a crunchy crumb topping.  What else could you do to these to make them any better?   I think these are perfect anytime you want to have one.  At breakfast with coffee?  Mid-morning coffee break?  For Lunch with yogurt or cottage cheese perhaps?  For dessert after dinner—as I said, anytime at all.  You must make these now, before there’s no more pumpkin left on the store shelves.  You’ll be sorry if you don’t.
The recipe makes a batch of 18 muffins.  I thought that was a lot for just two of us, so I made half a recipe and got nine muffins. Now I wish I had made the whole thing and froze some.  Guess I’ll just have to make more to have on hand for Thanksgiving morning.

PUMPKIN-APPLE STREUSEL MUFFINS

YIELD   18 MUFFINS

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour  ( I used half white flour and half whole wheat)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups apple finely chopped

STREUSEL TOPPING

  • 2  Tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons butter

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease 18 muffin cups, or line with paper liners.

2.  Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  ( flour through salt)

Dry ingredients.

3.  Mix wet ingredients together in a medium bowl.  ( eggs, oil and pumpkin puree)

Wet ingredients.

4.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just to moisten.  Fold in apples.

Mix everything together. Fold in chopped apple.

5.  Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full.

6.  Mix together the streusel ingredients to form coarse crumbs, and sprinkle on batter.  Pat lightly to adhere.

7.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 – 40 minutes.  Test for doneness with a toothpick.  Cool slightly in pans and then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.   Ha!  if you can wait that long!

SOURCE:  adapted from all recipes.com

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Sweet and Sour Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Sweet and Sour Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

This dish is intended to be cooked in a slow-cooker.   I can remember only one other time in my whole cooking-lifetime that I made stuffed cabbage rolls, and they, too, were cooked in a slow-cooker.   On reading this recipe I was intrigued by the promise of sweet – sour combination of flavors, so I decided to give it a try.

First off, let me confess that I don’t know my way around cabbage very well.   Mostly what I do with it is make coleslaw, and I let my processor do the shredding for me.  I also sometimes coarsely shred it with a knife to cook with Kielbasa. That’s about the extent of my cabbage repertoire.   So what I’m trying to say is that I’m not very adept at shaping and rolling a filling into a cabbage leaf.  If you are someone who can do this very well, please don’t laugh when you see the photos of my endeavors.  After all, pretty doesn’t taste any better, does it?

Secondly, there are several steps involved in getting everything ready to go into the crockpot–the recipe predicts a prep time of 20 minutes–but it took me much longer, about 30 – 45 minutes.  Plan ahead if you are going to make this, or assemble it the night before and start cooking in the morning.

INGREDIENT LIST

  • 1 small – medium head of green cabbage

    Have all your ingredients ready.

  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced.  I used a large shallot.
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 cans tomato sauce, ( 8 ounce each)
  • 2 Tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 slices reduced-calorie wheat bread.  I used one multi-grain wheat thin.
  • 1/3 cup skim milk
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 cups cooked egg noodles

1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Boil cabbage 12 – 15 minutes, then drain well.  Carefully remove outer leaves–you will need about 12.  Remove tough stem from each leaf and set aside.  Shred the remaining cabbage and place in the bottom of the slow-cooker.

2.  Meanwhile, heat oil in a large  non stick skillet over medium heat; cook onion 5 minutes.

Cooking the onion , garlic and seasonings.

Add garlic, cinnamon and nutmeg; cook 1 minute.  Remove half of this mixture and set aside.

Add tomato sauce, sugar and vinegar.

Stir tomato sauce, sugar and vinegar into skillet and remove from heat.

Use processor to make the meat filling.

3.  In a processor, pulse bread and milk until a paste is formed.  Add reserved onion mixture, beef, salt and pepper and pulse until well combined.

4.  With stem ends of cabbage leaves facing you, place 2 heaping Tablespoons of meat mixture in center of each leaf and roll up.

Meat filling rolled into the cabbage leaves.

5.  Place rolls, seam-side down, in slow cooker.  Pour sauce over all.

Pour tomato sauce over cabbage rolls in slow cooker.

Cover and cook on LOW for 5 hours.  Serve with egg noodles.

Serve over egg noodles.

Our assessment of this recipe:  First I think the name of this dish is a misnomer;  the flavor is more sweet than sour, but not overly sweet.  Secondly, we both thought the meat filling was very compact and dense.  If I were to make this again,  I would not mix the filling in a processor, but instead in a bowl, like making meatloaf.  It would then be lighter and more textured, perhaps adding some cooked white rice would help. The tomato sauce was flavorful with a faint hint of the cinnamon, which I thought complemented the cabbage.  When we ate the leftovers, I thought the whole dish tasted better the second time around, and the meat filling was more moist.

SOURCE:  Family Circle Magazine, November, 2012:  Slow Cooker Suppers

Baked Coconut French Toast

Baked Coconut French Toast

Weekday mornings are so rushed with getting ready for work, breakfast is usually something quick like a scone or granola bar with coffee.  But on the weekend I like to make more complete breakfasts, to be enjoyed more leisurely.  This weekend I made this recipe for a baked French Toast that was fantastic!

The recipe was one that I had clipped out of a magazine some time ago and tucked into one of my (many) recipe books and forgot about.  While I was looking for another recipe this one fell out onto my lap.  When this kind of thing happens I take it as a sign that now is the right time to make it, and so I did.

Oh, what we’ve been missing all this time!…a little rich, a little high in fat and carbs, but we can fix that.  I’m printing the recipe as it was written, and then including my modifications for cutting back on fat, and sugar.  Here we go—-

BAKED COCONUT FRENCH TOAST

YIELD:  8 servings, 2 slices of French Toast

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 French bread baguette, (10 ounce size), sliced diagonally, 1-inch thick
  • Diagonally sliced French baguette

  •  cooking spray

  • 1 1/4 cups coconut milk  ( I used light coconut milk–less saturated fat)
  • 4 large eggs ( substitute with 1 1/4 cups egg substitute, or 2 eggs and 1/2 cup egg substitute)
  • 1/2 cup sugar  (you can reduce to 1/4 cup, especially if using syrup on your toast)
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut

1.  Arrange the slices of bread in a single layer in a 13″ x 9″ bake pan,  or 12″ x 8″ pan coated with cooking spray.

Arrange Bread slices in baking pan.

2.  Combine the coconut milk, eggs or egg substitute, sugar and vanilla, stirring with a whisk, and pour evenly over the bread slices.  Turn the bread over to coat both sides.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Pour egg and milk mixture over bread slices.

3.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

4.  Remove bread from refrigerator, and uncover.  Turn bread slices over, and sprinkle evenly with  flaked coconut.  Let it stand at room temperature 15 minutes.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 30 minutes or until coconut is golden.

Turn bread over and sprinkle with coconut before baking.

Serve warm with a fresh fruit compote to complete a very enjoyable breakfast or brunch.

Serve with fresh fruit compote.

SOURCE:   Unknown

Waiting for Sandy

11:00am. ESDT.   I’m not in the habit of posting on Sunday, but I wanted to let you all know what may be happening in the next few days here on the East Coast.  Everyone seems to be scrambling around getting stocked up and filled up while we wait for the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy.  I, like everyone else have done the same, so I’m as ready as I can be.  In addition to preparing for the storm, I baked yesterday for my father-in-law’s big birthday party which is today.  I finally decided to make apple cobbler cupcakes with caramel frosting, which I ‘ll be telling you about real soon.  For now though, I want you to know that I have a series of postings lined up to self-publish, however if we lose power for any length of time the internet will go out and you will not be hearing from me.

The weather here yesterday and today has been so weird.  The skies are dark and threatening with hugh dark clouds, but the air is so still; not a leaf is moving.  I guess that’s what is meant by the calm before the storm.

It is now 7:00pm EDST. and we have returned home from the party.  Outside a misty rain is falling and the wind is picking up.  Forecasters tell us to expect the storm to start earlier than previously predicted.  I took some photos of the sky on my way home to share with you.  As I close down my computer for the evening I will note that we are expectantly waiting, but hoping things do not get as bad as the weather forecasts are predicting.  I hope to be back on line and “talking” with you very soon.

Atlantic Beach and the Crab’s Claw Restaurant

 

 

Atlantic Beach, North Carolina

When you live in New England a day spent at the beach in October is a rare thing; the weather is usually too cool.  But in Eastern North Carolina it is not at all unusual.  So that is what we did on a beautiful sunny day, when the temperature was in the mid -70’s.  Driving a short distance from where we were staying, we took the Minisotte Ferry ( a free ride) to Morehead City and on to Atlantic Beach.

This whole area of the coast is made up of creeks, salt-water inlets,  sounds, and various other bodies of water which require that you drive  around them to get to the next town down the line.  These are all beach-oriented communities that have summer visitors who rent the cottages lining the beach, but by fall most have left the area, and the communities become quiet with only the local full-time residents left.  Surprisingly there were quite a few stores, restaurants and other business still open, so we drove around enjoying the sights of pastel cottages, quaint streets and very friendly people.

Pretty, pastel-colored beach cottages line the shoreline.

Atlantic Beach is located over a cause-way from Morehead City, and is comprised  of one street running parallel to the beach, along which you find many very pretty cottages, interspersed with beachy-type shops and restaurants.  At the very end of this road is Fort Macon State Park.

We came to this narrow strip of land in search of a seafood restaurant in which to have lunch.  We were in luck to find the Crab’s Claw, an oceanfront Caribbean restaurant situated right on Atlantic Beach and featuring locally caught fish.  It was a warm, sunny day, so we chose to sit outside on one of two decks overlooking the sand and the water.  What a lovely spot!.  We relaxed and watched walkers and bikers on the boardwalk as well as a few folks out on the beach.

Looking up the boardwalk from where we had lunch.

A biker making use of the boardwalk.

Our waitress was knowledgable about the menu and the day’s special offerings.  Most lunch entrees were very moderately priced  ranging from $8.00 – 12.00.  The special offering for lunch was fresh sushi-grade tuna, lightly seared and then chunked for a tuna salad with added finely grated carrot, red onion, and a “bite” of chipotle. This was served “open-faced” with a melt of Swiss or American cheese   on the top, and accompanied by triangles of toasted flour tortillas.  Two of us chose this offering and we both loved it.  The tuna was cooked just right, tender and flavorful, not overwhelmed, but enhanced by the additional other ingredients.

Fresh Tuna Salad with Tortilla Points

My husband ordered the Cuban Sandwich on a Kaiser Roll.  This consisted of thinly sliced ham and pork with lettuce and tomato and melted cheese.  It was served with sweet potato fries.  He enjoyed his choice and said it was very good.

Cuban Sandwich on a Kaiser Roll with Sweet Potato Fries.

The other gentleman in our party ordered the Caribbean Barbecue Burger, also served with lettuce and tomato and french fries. He ordered his burger rare, which it was, and he really enjoyed it.  There were slices of hot peppers in amongst the lettuce and tomato, giving it that Caribbean kick.

Caribbean Barbecue Burger.

All of us were well-satisfied with our choices, and left this delightful place feeling that we had been well fed.

If I lived here I would be going to the Crab’s Claw frequently for lunch, so for anyone vacationing in this part of the country, be sure to make a visit.  Since the season is winding down, they will be closing on select days of the week, so call ahead to check about days they are open.

Pumpkin Cake

Using some of the pumpkin I cooked and pureed myself, I made this cake for my husband’s birthday. Although the title of the recipe is  ordinary this cake is anything but.  From the bottom up to the top there is something extraordinary going on.  My recipe card for this cake has a smily face sticker on it and the words, “exceptionally good” to remind me of how much we and others like this cake whenever I make it.  It is tried and true, and always dependable.  One year, several years back, I made it for my husband to take to work for a pot-luck luncheon at Thanksgiving, and ever since I get requests for “that good cake”.  One of his co-workers has since ordered one from me each year for Thanksgiving.  So I am confident when I say “it will come out good, and you will like it”.

The bottom-most layer of the cake is a crumb crust.  The recipe specifies graham cracker crumbs, but we here have an allergic reaction to graham crumbs, so I substituted ginger snap crumbs instead.  Now I always make it that way; ginger snaps just seem to go so much better with pumpkin.  The cake layer is a pumpkin spice cake, and I have played around with changing some of the quantities and ratios, but it always comes out good.  The frosting is a cream cheese frosting.   Who doesn’t like that?

The recipe makes a large cake baked in a 15″ x 11″ pan, in which case pieces are more like squares with a crumb crust;  or you may use two smaller pans, 1 8″ round, and  1  8″ square and the pieces will be taller and cake like. I really like that aspect.  What I usually do is bake the two smaller size cakes, then I have 1 to keep and 1 to give, or 1 to eat and 1 to freeze, you get the idea.  OK, enough said,  here’s how to make it—–

CRUST

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs or ginger snap crumbs.  One sleeve of ginger snaps, pulsed in a processor makes about 2 cups.
  • 7 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix all these together for the base.  Press into the bottom of baking pan or pans of choice.  Bake 5-6 minutes.  Let cool.

CAKE

  • 1 2/3 cups sugar,  or I use 1 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs,  or 2 eggs and 1/2 cup egg substitute product
  • 1 can pumpkin, or 2 cups homemade pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup vegetable oil.  I use 1/2 cup and it comes out fine.
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon, or 2 teasp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

1.  Mix the first 4 ingredients together with a whisk.

Mix wet ingredients together with a whisk.

2.  Mix the dry ingredients together:  flour through salt

3.  Combine the wet and dry ingredients with a whisk.  Blend them well, but do not over mix.

Combine wet and dry ingredients.

4.  Pour over the crust.

5.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes.  Test for doneness with a toothpick.

6.  Cool completely then frost with cream cheese frosting and decorate as desired.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

  • 8 ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 6 Tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Makes about 2 cups

In a bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Gradually beat in the sugar and mix thoroughly, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  If the consistency is too stiff, thin with a drizzle of milk or cream.  If it is too soft, refrigerate until frosting is spreadable, about 15 minutes.

                  

 This is my husband’s half-eaten piece.  He couldn’t wait for me to photograph it!

Making A Mess In the Kitchen

A rainy day outside, and for some unknown reason I gravitate to the kitchen where I want to cook or bake something.  Well, a couple of things have come together in a coincidental fashion.  One being my husband’s birthday in a day or two, another being his father’s birthday the following week.  That one is a milestone birthday for which the whole family will gather to celebrate.  And I have been asked to make one of the desserts. Since the milestone birthday is the weekend before Halloween, I want it to be somehow tied in—haven’t decided the details yet.  But  I thought I would give a recipe a test run for my husband’s birthday and see if he liked it.  If it was successful I might make it again for the party.

A perfect “sugar-baby” pumpkin.

So—now we come to the messy part.  I had bought a fresh baby pumpkin with the thought that I would roast it and make my own pumpkin puree.  Following the directions of a fellow blogger, I stabbed the pumpkin in the heart and other vital parts and threw him into the oven.  I did put him on a baking sheet because somehow I just knew he was going to leak some stuff.  After baking for about an hour I checked for doneness, and finding the stab wounds leaking and oozing, I poked him and my finger left a depression, so I surmised he was cooked, and removed the pumpkin from the oven.   I then let it cool so I could handle it comfortably.

Cutting it in half I encountered a million seeds each one attached to a slimy orange string. Grabbing a large spoon I began to scrape them out, trying to direct them into a bowl I had set in the sink.  But they had other ideas and so off they went sliding and skittering all across my counter, and 0n to the floor. They were slimy and slippery so picking them up was a challenge, but somehow I managed to capture the runaways.  At that point it was clear to me that half a pumpkin was more than I could manage, so I cut that in half.  Now I’m down to a quarter of a pumpkin….a tad easier to hold and scoop out the slimy seeds and strings.  So far, so good.  With all that accomplished, I then peeled away the skin and cut the remaining flesh into chunks.

Next step, make the puree.  For this I thought I would use my blender ( less parts to wash and put away, says I ).  So into the blender container I put about two cups of pumpkin chunks.  Turned it on,  and nothing much happened.  Only the bottom few pieces touching the blades got pureed, the rest just sat there, so I added a little water, but that didn’t help.  This is one tough little pumpkin I thought, and the blender just isn’t up to the job.  So now I get out the processor, transfer the pumpkin pieces into the work bowl and turn it on.

Whew, its working.  Success at last.  Working in small batches of pumpkin I successfully pureed the whole thing.  My yield, after all that, was about 4 1/2 cups of puree that I divided into 2-cup amounts and put one in the freezer.  The other one I am going to use in the recipe I mentioned.   I’m saving that story for another posting.  At this point in my story you are probably thinking the same thing I was:  Isn’t easier to just buy a can of pumpkin?  Of course, it’s definitely easier, but there’s just something about being able to say “I did it all myself” that makes you feel good.

Four and a half cups of pumpkin puree.

Back to the seeds:  I’d often heard or read about toasted pumpkin seeds, and having about 2 cups of them now, I thought I’d give that a try.  Handling them carefully I separated the seeds from the stringy stuff, put them into a colander and washed them, then patted them dry with paper towels.  Searching on AllRecipes.com, I found this recipe that had a lot of good reviews and suggestions for altering it somewhat for variation.

TOASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS

  • 2 cups raw pumpkin seeds

    Raw Pumpkin seeds and some seasonings.

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons butter, melted ( or substitute olive oil)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt –This can be all one kind such as Lowrey’s or a combinations of salts like garlic salt, onion salt, or in my version I used some of Penzey’s seasoning called Forward, containing paprika and chili powder.

1.  Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil.

2.  Rinse seeds and pat dry.  Place in a bowl.  Mix together the above ingredients and pour over the seeds.  Stir well to coat the seeds.

3.  Spread evenly in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Seasoned pumpkin seeds on a tray ready for baking.

4.  Bake about an hour, stirring occasionally , till golden and crisp.

These make a crunchy, healthy snack.  Just watch the amount of salt in the whole thing, especially if using butter.  I offered them to my husband, and he liked them very much.

A happy ending to my story about how I made a mess in my kitchen on a rainy day.

SOURCE:   allrecipes.com

M J’s Raw Bar, a restaurant review

Model of a sailing ship near the front entrance.

For a small city there are a lot of very good restaurants in New Bern, North Carolina.  We had spent some time browsing in the shops, but they were closing for the day and we realized we were getting hungry.  Deciding where to have dinner was a tough decision, because of the numerous choices, and because we had heard good things about so many of them.  In the end the decision was practically made for us because we found on-street parking less than a block from M.J’s Raw Bar.  Rain was on the way so it was a quick dash from the car to the door and we were inside.

The interior is rather small, with the dining space longer than it is wide,  The ambience is cozy and the service is friendly.  Tables occupy the front near a large window that looks out on the street, while the rear portion consists of booths.  Decor is decidedly nautical and “fishy”.   Along one side the backs of  the booths are each topped with a metal fish.

Metal fish sculptures decorate the backs of booths along the right side.

Along the other side each separation is topped with a sailing schooner.  The walls are lined with framed pictures of sailing ships.

Models of sailing schooners decorate the backs of booths on the left side.

We were seated near the front at a table for four where we could look out at the street scene.  Our waitress, a southern gal, was very friendly  and described the day’s specials that were in addition to the regular menu offerings.

A cup of lobster bisque.

The soup special was Lobster Bisque.  This sounded especially good, so three of us ordered it as a starter.  It was rich and flavorful, with lots of small pieces of lobster floating in the creamy broth that had just a hint of sherry in it.   A cup size serving was ample as a first course, but my husband had the bowl size because he likes a lot of a good thing.

A bowl of lobster bisque.

The fourth person in our party ordered the crab chowder.  Of all the items we ordered this was least appealing because it was so heavily spiced.  While the flavor was good, the “heat” and spice was too much to be enjoyable.  Spicy chowders seem to be popular in this area, so it is probably an acquired taste.

Amongst four of us we ordered three different entrees as two of us had the same thing, and that was the Crabby Patty Melt with Fries and Jamaican Tartar Sauce..  This consisted of two toasted English Muffin halves with a scoop of crab salad and a covering of melted cheese on each one.  Served along side were the fries and a small cup of somewhat spicy tartar sauce.  We both enjoyed this very much and found the serving size to be plentiful.

Crabby Patty Melt with Fries and Jamaican Tartar Sauce

Another member of our party had the Soft Shell Blue Crab Sandwich with coleslaw.  The crab was breaded and crispy on a bun with lettuce and tomato, and tartar sauce.  She was pleased with this entree and said the crab was tender and flavorful. My husband ordered the house salad which consisted of green leaf lettuce, sliced strawberries, pecans and feta cheese.  It was beautiful to see and delicious to eat.     This was followed by Pan Seared Scallops in Pomodoro Sauce over Angel Hair pasta.  The serving size of this dish was large, with a generous number of scallops that were sweet and tender.  The tomato sauce was thin and nicely seasoned, a good compliment to the fine angel hair pasta.  He liked his dinner very much, but finishing it was difficult—could it be because he already had a bowl of lobster bisque and a salad?

Pan Seared Scallops with Pomodoro Sauce over Angel Hair Pasta

We did not order desserts because we couldn’t eat another bite, but there were several desserts available, all very tempting.

Our impressions of this restaurant:  the food was moderately priced, very tasty, with ample portions.  Service was prompt and friendly. If I lived in this area, it is a place I would go to for a casual lunch or dinner.  Another really great perk:  street-side parking is FREE.  No meters to put change into, and no time limits.   I would definitely recommend M.J’s Raw Bar to anyone visiting New Bern, N.C. or living in the vicinity.

Rustic Autumn Fruit Tart

Rustic Autumn Fruit Tart

As a hostess gift when I went to visit in North Carolina I brought some apples grown right here in the town where I live.  We who live here are so spoiled by the ease with which we can obtain fresh orchard-grown apples and pears ( at this time of year) as well as other fruits earlier in the season.  Folks who formerly lived here miss that kind of freshness in the fruits they are able to buy in their local grocery stores, and the variety of kinds of apples.  So a gift like the one I brought with me is always welcome.

Coincidentally, my hostess wanted to make a baked gift to give to a friend who had been kind to her and her husband, so together we made this Rustic Autumn Fruit Tart.  Actually we made two;  one to keep and one to give.   We used some of the apples I brought, and some pears that she had on hand, ripe and beautiful.

This is very easy to make, goes together quickly and looks very impressive when completed. It tastes as delicious as it looks.  The recipient of this gift was surprised and delighted to receive it.

RUSTIC AUTUMN FRUIT TART

SERVINGS:   8

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 roll packaged refrigerated pie crust, at room temperature
  • 2 large apples – peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1 pear – peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup apricot jam, warmed

DIRECTIONS

1.  Unroll the pie dough and lightly roll into a 10 – 11″ circle.  Fit into a 9 ” pie pan, or place flat on slightly greased baking sheet.

Tart can be made in a tart/pie pan or flat on a baking sheet.

2.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

3.  Toss the sliced apples and pear with the orange juice.  Whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and cornstarch.  Toss the fruit with the sugar-spice mixture.

Toss sliced fruits with orange juice.

4.  Arrange the fruit decoratively in the pastry shell.  If you’re baking it on a baking sheet, leave a 2-inch rim of dough with the fruit arranged in the middle.

5.  Fold the dough up and over the edge of the fruit ( the pastry folds will overlap).

Fold edges of pastry up and over top of fruits, pleating the excess.

6.  Bake the tart in the preheated oven until the crust is browned and the filling is bubbly, about 30 minutes.  Remove the tart from the oven and brush the whole top with the warmed apricot jam.  This creates a beautiful glaze.

Serve warm with a dab of ice cream——Deeelish!

SOURCE:   allrecipes.com

New Bern, North Carolina

During our trip to North Carolina we spent some time in the town of New Bern, a charming, historic town located on North Carolina’s central coast.  It is situated between the Neuse and the Trent rivers.  Because it is surrounded on two sides by water there are a number of marinas where boats of all kinds are docked.  The beautiful waterfront area is also where large hotels and the convention center are located.

Boats of every kind line the waterfront marinas.

Lovely buildings line the waterfront. Some are hotels, others include a visitor’s center, and convention center.

A fairly recent addition to the waterfront area is a sculpture of a Licoris Lily, a gift to the city by a pediatric dentist, well-known in the area for his love of art.

The beautiful and unusual sculpture, Licoris Lily.

The downtown area consists of a grid of only a few streets, so it is very walkable.   All the shops are unique and interesting and invite you to browse.  There is a street on the outskirts of New Bern where you will find the large recognizable stores and chain restaurants.

New Bern was first settled in the 1700’s by a group of Swiss and German settlers.  Bern is the Germanic word for bear, and since the settlers came from a city named Bern, their new home was named New Bern.  There are bears in many shapes and sizes located all over the town center as New Bern has adopted the bear as its symbol.

One of many bear statues located throughout the city

Tryon Palace

Located just a few streets outside this area  is Tryon Palace, the first permanent colonial and state capitol.  It was refurbished and redecorated in 1952-1959.  It is open for tours on given days.  The city of New Bern was celebrating Mum Fest while we were there, and the gardens of the Palace were open for viewing and a plant sale was taking place on the grounds.

Beautiful, healthy plants waiting for someone to take them home to their garden.

A turret in the wall surrounding the palace.

The color schemes used in the planting beds were breathtaking.

A view of the stately Latham Garden, blooming with white chrysanthemums.

Framed against the sky was a chestnut tree with unripe fruit hanging from its branches.

Mum Fest is a two-day event in October that attracts thousands of people to the downtown area where the streets are closed to traffic but the sidewalks are lined with vendors, live entertainment, food, amusements and more.

New to Mum Fest this year was SeaFair, a 228 foot mega yacht, one of the 10 largest, privately owned yachts in the U.S.  The vessel has three decks of 28 galleries filled with art, jewelry, and sculpture from artists all over the world.  The yacht was docked at the Hilton Marina for Mum Fest Weekend and open to the public by paid admission.

SEAFAIR, a mega-yacht, filled with many galleries of art treasures.

There are quite a number of “fun facts” relating to this town two of which I list here:  it is the  birthplace of Pepsi Cola, having been invented by a pharmacist who lived there.  Currently there is a small Pepsi museum where you can go in to look around and sample the beverage.  Another interesting fact is that New Bern was the first city to celebrate George Washington’s birthday, and George W. danced at Tryon Palace. I’ve read that George was quite a good dancer and many young ladies were anxious to be his partner.

We had a delightful visit to this very interesting city.  The weather threatened rain at times, thus the clouds you see in some of my photos, but it didn’t stop us from enjoying many sights, shops and restaurants while we were there .  The city offers many very good restaurants, a few of which I’ll be telling you about in the next week or so.