Blueberry Crumb Bars

Blueberry Crumb Bars

Blueberry Crumb Bars

Summertime desserts seem to fall into three major categories:  cool, frozen concoctions,  no-bake pies and such, and fresh fruit delights.  Today’s recipe falls into the latter group.

Right about now I’m seeing blueberries appearing at the supermarket that are coming to us from California.  It’s still too early for  East Coast berries to make their appearance, but blueberries hold up fairly well and those arriving here from the West coast are looking good.  Although I missed making these bars for Memorial Day, they are good anytime at all, and perhaps for July 4th.  The reason I say that is because with their blue color from the berries and light crumb topping, they have a patriotic color theme, and they certainly speak of summer.

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These bars are ridiculously good. They are the sort that will make you want to eat the whole pan, and then moan at how good they were.  Having tried the recipe as written using blueberries, I would feel confident in changing up the fruit and using a different berry,  or in the fall, using sliced apples with brown sugar instead of granulated.  This is just what I love, a really good recipe that lets you try it different ways and never lets you down.  Whooo-Hoo!

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From my experience with making these bars, I have two suggestions:  use a little more than half the dough mixture for the bottom layer, the bars will cut better and the berries won’t leak through to the bottom.  Also, if your berries are a little tart, you may want to add an additional tablespoon of sugar to the berries.

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BLUEBERRY CRUMB BARS

Yield:  15 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, or half white flour, and half whole wheat
  • 1  1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 cup shortening or butter
  • 1 egg
  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 4 cups fresh blueberries

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 375*F.  Grease a 13 x 9-inch pan.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Use a fork or pastry cutter to cut in the shortening (or butter).   Mix in the egg–dough will be crumbly.

Stir egg into dry ingredients.

Stir egg into dry ingredients.

Pat half of it into the bottom of the prepared pan.

3.  In another bowl, stir together the cornstarch and remaining 1/2 cup sugar.  Gently stir in the blueberries.  Sprinkle the berry mixture evenly over the crust.

Layer berries over bottom crust.

Layer berries over bottom crust.

Crumble the remaining dough over the berries.

Top with remaining crumbs.

Top with remaining crumbs.

4.  Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, till the top is lightly browned.  Cool completely before cutting into squares.

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SOURCE:   All recipes.com

 

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Peach Crostata

Fresh Peach Crostata.

Fresh Peach Crostata.

August is National Peach Month, and in its honor I have for you a quickie receipt that takes advantage of luscious, sweet smelling and sweet tasting peaches.

A crostata, or a galette as some folks call it, is a one-crust pastry that wraps itself not-quite over a fruit filling.  I love making this type of pastry because it is so quick.  With only one crust, there are fewer calories, fat and carbohydrates, and you get lots of crispy edges of flaky pastry in every bite.  With a package of refrigerated pie dough on hand and almost any kind of fruit, you can make one of these easy desserts in no time flat.  Stone fruits work well in the summer and apples and pears take their place in the fall.  A great recipe to keep in your go-to box when you want a fast dessert.

A dab of whipped topping is all it needs.

A dab of whipped topping is all it needs.

FRESH PEACH CROSTATA

Serves 4 – 6 people

Ingredients:

Mix together, brown sugar, cornstarch, ginger and salt.

Mix together, brown sugar, cornstarch, ginger and salt.

  • 4  medium-large peaches, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • pinch salt
  • 1 refrigerated pie crust

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 425*F.  Lightly spray a baking sheet or pie pan.

2.  Unroll pie crust on baking sheet,  or in pie pan (letting edges extend over the sides.)

3.  In a large bowl, toss peaches, brown sugar, cornstarch, ginger and salt.  Arrange this mixture on crust, leaving a 2 inch border,  or in pie pan.  Fold border over filling.

Fold edges of pastry up over fruit filling.

Fold edges of pastry up over fruit filling.

Brush edges with milk or cream and sprinkle on sugar.

Brush edges with milk or cream and sprinkle on sugar.

4.  Bake 25 – 30 minutes or until crust is golden.

Fresh Peach Crostata.

Fresh Peach Crostata.

Perfect with a dab of whipped topping.

Perfect with a dab of whipped topping.

SOURCE:   Ali M. private catering

Roasted Strawberry and Toasted Coconut Popsicles

Roasted Strawberry and Toasted Coconut Popsicles

Roasted Strawberry and Toasted Coconut Popsicles

Today is the beginning of July and it seems that everyone I know is going on vacation; going to the mountains,  going to the beach, or just sitting out by the pool chillin’ out.  Every one but me, that is.  I’d love to be going to the beach, but when you plan to be in a dance competition in August, you just don’t take a vacation until it’s over.  I have work to do.  That’s OK,  I’ll pretend that I’m there by looking at other people’s pictures and daydreaming.  When I sit outside on the deck I’ll slather on the sunscreen that smells of coconut, and eat my popsicles.

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Have you ever made popsicles?   maybe little ones in ice cube trays?  I’ve done that once or twice.  But what I’m proposing is to get yourself a really nice popsicle mold so you can make the real  things.  Popsicles are so easy to make I wonder why I haven’t done this before.

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Today I’m roasting strawberries.  Roasting them concentrates their flavor and brings out their sweetness.  I’m also going to toast the coconut while the oven is on.  Roast and toast is my new motto!

Once the strawberries are roasted, they go into the blender with a bit of lime juice and some sugar.  The coconut is combined with coconut milk, and the next thing that happens is a simple layering of the two into the popsicle molds.   Pop into the freezer and in about 5-6 hours you will have a frozen treat.

Let the others go on their vacations.  I’m happy sitting on the deck chillin” with my cold and frosty popsicle!

STRAWBERRY AND COCONUT POPSICLES

Yield:  Makes 10 – 12 pops  (With my mold I got 10 pops).IMG_4471

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1  pound fresh strawberries, hulled
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • juice of 1 lime, divided
  • 1  (15-ounce) can coconut milk, well shaken (low fat is OK)
  • 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

1.  Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350*F.  Sprinkle coconut onto a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden brown.  Watch it closely as it will toast quickly….usually in 3 – 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and place in a small bowl to cool.

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2.  Place strawberries on the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Place in the oven to roast until fragrant and soft, about 18 to 20 minutes.  Remove from the oven and add the strawberries to a blender, or the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment.  Add 2 tablespoons sugar and juice of half a lime.  Blend until smooth.

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3.  In a small bowl stir together coconut milk, remaining lime juice, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and vanilla extract.  Stir in the toasted coconut.

4.   Place a spoonful of strawberry into the bottom of each popsicle mold.  Start by filling 10 molds in case you don’t have enough to fill 12 molds.  Stir coconut milk mixture and add to the popsicle molds, filling 2/3 full.  Spoon more strawberry into each mold and top with remaining coconut milk.

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5.  Add on the popsicle mold lid and then insert the sticks.  Freeze for at least 6 hours before serving.

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SOURCE:   POPS!  Icy Treats for Everyone by Krystina Castella

Rustic Plum Tart

A rustic tart, also known as a Galette, is a very easy fruit filled pastry.  Really, just a single crust pie with the outside edges of the pie-crust folded up over the edges of the fruit, leaving the center open.  I like making these for a couple of reasons: they are quicker to make than regular pie,  one crust means less fat and calories,  they are not as apt to go over in the oven and make a mess, and it looks rustic, casual and free-form, so it doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect.   Another reason to love it:  it’s satisfying as a dessert, but not too sweet.  In fact it is low in sugar–only what’s in the jam and the little you sprinkle on the crust.

This is a great dessert to serve to guests when you need something rather quickly, and it is impressive; i.e., looks like more work than it is.  You can mix and match your favorite stone fruits, or berries with appropriate jams.  Serve warm with a little ice cream or whipped cream.  YUM!

INGREDIENTS

Serves:   6

  • 1 sheet of refrigerated pie crust from a 14.1-ounce box
  • 1/4 cup jam  (with plums I used plum jam )
  • 1 pound or about 2 cups pitted plums, cut into 1/4″ wedges ( don’t be too fussy here)
  • 1 egg, or 2-3 tablespoons egg beater product
  • 1/4 cup raw cane sugar (demerera sugar)
  • ice cream or whipped cream for serving

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.   Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  Unroll pie crust onto the parchment paper.  Spread jam on the crust, leaving a 2 inch clean border around the edges.

3.  Arrange the plums on top of the jam.

4.  Fold the crust’s edges inward, pleating as needed;  leave the center of the tart exposed.  Press the dough lightly to seal.

5.  Whisk the egg with a little water in a small dish,  or use egg beater product;  brush the egg wash on the dough and sprinkle with the sugar.  Bake until the crust is cooked through and golden brown, about 35 minutes.

6.  Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

SOURCE:   Adapted from a recipe by   Sonny Anderson,  The Food Network.

Dressed to Impress

During this most recent bout of super-warm weather I’ve been trying to come up with meals that are cool and refreshing to eat, and don’t require the generation of more heat in my kitchen. The end result has been a variety of salad plates that incorporate greens, raw or cooked vegetables, hard-cooked eggs, bits of cooked meats like ham, chicken, or steak and cheeses. More and more often I’m including fruit in my salad plates, and also in my side salads.

The dressing you use on a salad should compliment each of the ingredients, and turn the various parts into a cohesive whole. When fruit is part of the mix, I think the dressing should be a little on the sweet side. I’m not quoting any rules here, that’s just my opinion! So I came up with a salad dressing that I feel is complimentary to any salad that has fruit in it. What started out as a regular oil and vinegar salad dressing, became one that contains a little sugar and a tiny amount of Almond extract. That subtle flavor of almond makes all the difference. Here’s how to make it:

ALMOND VINAIGRETTE DRESSING

  • 1/4 cup salad oil
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons MALT vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract

In a screw-top jar combine oil, sugar, vinegar, salt, and almond extract. Cover and shake well to dissolve the sugar and salt. Chill.

Some of the salad combinations I have used it on include:

1. Mixed greens with red grapes, sliced pears, celery, crumbled feta cheese and walnuts

2. Mixed greens with roasted golden beets, mango, and green onions.

3. Mixed greens with thinly sliced fennel, orange sections and pistachios.

4. Romaine lettuce, roast red beets, orange sections and walnuts.

Cobblers, Buckles, Slumps, and Grunts

What do all these words have in common?  They are all desserts made with a fruit base and a biscuit or cake-like topping.  I’m including one of these as my final Desserts for Dudes because my son and all the men I know seem to really like fruit-based desserts, and these names all have a very “manly” sound to them.  Although I had heard of these desserts before -and even eaten some-I was not clear about what their differences are.  So being the curious sort, I looked them up.

The term Cobbler is an old English word which was given to a baked fruit dessert that has dumplings or biscuits placed on top of the warm fruit base and baked in the oven.  As the toppings bake they enlarge and touch each other reminding folks of “cobbled streets”, thus the name cobbler.  A Buckle is made of a cake batter with fruits mixed in it, then oven baked.  It got its name because sometimes the whole thing buckled under the weight of the fruit.   Slumps and Grunts are a variety of cobbler, but cooked on top of the stove, usually in an iron skillet.  They acquired their unusual names because of the sounds they made while cooking.

I’ve made cobblers before using various fruits in season.  They are best served warm with a dollop of whipped cream, a drizzle of heavy cream over the top, or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Here then is a recipe for Praline Peach Cobbler.  When I served this still a bit warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream, Mr. D. said “MMMMMMMM, Wow!”

PRALINE PEACH COBBLER

Serves 12

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2  cups plus 2 teaspoons sugar, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 cups sliced peeled fresh peaches
  • 2 cups self-rising flour***
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk, plus more as needed
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

***a substitute for the self-rising flour:  place 3 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt in a measuring cup.  Add all-purpose flour to measure 1 cup.  Then add an additional cup of all-purpose flour.

Directions

In a large saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon.  Stir in water until smooth.  Add peaches.  Bring to a boil over medium heat;  cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

Pour into a lightly greased 13 x 9 inch baking dish;  set aside.

In a bowl, combine the flour and remaining sugar; cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Add the buttermilk and stir just until moistened.  If needed, add additional buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough clings together.  Turn out onto a floured surface; knead gently for 6-8 times.  Roll into a 12-inch x 8-inch rectangle.

Combine the butter, brown sugar and pecans;  spread over the dough to within 1/2 inch of edges.  Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side.  Cut into 12  1-inch pieces.  Place over peach mixture, cut side up.  Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

    

Note:  all ingredients may be easily cut in half  to make a smaller size dessert.  Use a 9″ round pan, or an 8″ or 9″ square pan.  As pictured here, I made a half recipe for my husband and me and it easily made 6 servings.

SOURCE:   The Taste of Home Baking Book