Chilled Strawberry Soup

I don’t know about y’all, but this snow?

Enough already.  I mean, it’s almost April, and there’s been snow on the ground here for a week.  I’m over it, I want to wear a sundress, and I’m even willing to shave in order to do it.

Yes, really.  That’s a big deal for me.

Let’s move on though.

I’m ready for things that taste of berries and sunshine, things fresh from the garden versus frozen.  I want to walk outside to my garden, and come back with a folded apron full of blueberries.  I want asparagus, right from the back yard.  Is that too much to ask?

Until I can do that, I will just have to settle for things like Chilled Strawberry Soup.

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The first time I had a chilled soup, I was skeptical.

I was on a cruise, not a food person at all (I still ordered pizza most nights, and cereal was about as out there as I got for breakfast), so the idea of a cold soup seemed – wrong.  But the only thing wrong about it was my worry.

It was incredible.

Thick, yet light, and basically a delicious version of melted ice cream.  I mean, what could be wrong about that?

Nothing.  Nothing except running out of it.

So here I present you with a very springy, light and flavorful soup just in time for Easter, in case you were looking for something a little different to go with all that lamb and mint jelly.

Click on through to the Dixie Crystals website for the recipe – you won’t be sorry!  While you are there check out the other recipes I developed for them this month…there are some good ones!

Have a great day! (And bundle up, baby, it’s COLD outside!!)

 

*Disclaimer – I was not compensated for this post, but I do develop recipes for Dixie Crystals in an ongoing partnership.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Mini Banana Pudding Cheesecakes

I’ve been thinking of these for quite some time now…

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Banana Pudding Cheesecakes.

When my friends at McCormick asked me to come up with a brunch worthy recipe using their great vanilla and almond extracts, I knew this would be the way to go.  It just had to be done.  So thanks, McCormick, for sponsoring this post and forcing me to actually make it happen!

Being from The South, Banana Pudding is a tradition.  A Classic.  A dessert tied to the territory.  I can’t think of a single holiday or pot luck where there wasn’t a Banana Pudding.

But let me tell you a little secret…

I’m not a huge fan.

Slap my mouth!

True though, and here’s why.

Bananas, for me, have about a 22 minute window of consumption.  Not too green, no specks of brown.  Perfectly yellow. Eat it quickly, out of hand.

22 minutes.

Once the bananas are cut up and put in the pudding?

Oh God.  They get brown.  And slimy.  Let’s not even talk about it, okay?

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Let’s instead talk about Vanilla Wafers.

I don’t really like those either.  They’re either too crunchy (I don’t like to hear myself chew), or, too soggy once they’ve been buried down in the pudding.  Gosh, I’m finicky.  Whatever.  I like what I like.

So despite all that, and the overwhelming tasks that I would need to overcome, I set out to make a Banana Pudding Cheesecake.

Why?

Because the FLAVOR of Banana Pudding is pretty darned awesome.  Combine something like that with the perfection of cheesecake, the ultimate in desserts?

Could be an award winning combination.

It was.

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I recently met the Executive Chef of our local restaurant – Chef Mike Behmoiras – who is the mastermind behind The Bank Food & Drink.  Mike knows his stuff, and I, the leech that I am, have latched onto him in hopes I can learn a few things.  So, like I do, I Twittered him, then texted him, then confused him.

Yep, confused him.  It’s my M.O. and that’s all there is to it.

I convinced him to come up last Monday and cook with me.

That’s code for I’m hungry, I have a few people to feed dinner to tonight, why don’t you come up here and cook while I watch, and then I’ll eat it and take the credit for it.

He fell for it.  I am very convincing.

It only works once though, folks, then you need to come up with another ruse.

So anyway, while he was here, we attacked the making of the ultimate Banana Pudding Cheesecake.  Because I am not a big fan of crusts, I put Chef Mike in charge of that.  Plus, he said he had a recipe that would work for our purposes, so off he went.

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While he did that, I modified my go to cheesecake recipe in order to make it Banana Pudding-y.  I gave him 3 slightly overripe bananas, which he roasted with a little brown sugar and Captain Morgan’s Black Rum in Gilda (my KitchenAid range).  Once they were smooshed and flavorful, into the batter they went, along with a few wafer crumbs.  A quick taste of the batter (how many samples did we have?  I lost count), confirmed one very important thing – this cheesecake tasted JUST LIKE BANANA PUDDING.

I baked the cheesecakes in mini silicone molds, but you could also bake it in a regular full sized round.  I just wanted to go mini, as it’s nice and easy for a dinner party or brunch.  It’ would be a fantastic dish for Easter, and what a way to kick off spring!  Give it a shot, I think you’ll love it as much as we did!

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Banana Pudding Cheesecake

makes 24 mini cakes or 1-8 inch cheesecake

For the Roasted Bananas

  • 3 Bananas, over ripe and mashed
  • 1/4 cup Captain Morgan’s Black Rum (if desired)
  • 1/4 cup Dixie Crystals Dark Brown Sugar

Instructions:

Combine the bananas, rum, and sugar; roast in shallow pan at 400 for 10-12 minutes, stirring every 2-3 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool while preparing cheesecake batter.

For the Cheesecake

  • 3- 80z bricks of cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup Dixie Crystals Granulated Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Dixie Crystals Light Brown Sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon McCormick Almond Extract
  • 2 teaspoons McCormick Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 cup pulverized Vanilla Wafer cookies
  • Roasted Bananas (see above)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F and grease or butter a 9-inch springform pan. Wrap the pan in heavy duty aluminum foil so that it is waterproof. Press crust into prepared pan.  If using mini silicone molds, skip this step.
  2. Place one 8-ounce package of the cream cheese, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and the cornstarch in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until creamy, about 3 minutes, then beat in the remaining packages of cream cheese.
  3. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat in the remaining sugar, then beat in the salt, vanilla, and almond extract. Blend in the eggs one at a time, beating only until completely blended. Mix in the sour cream and heavy cream. Be careful not to overmix the batter.
  4. Lastly, stir in the cookie crumbs and roasted bananas by hand.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan on silicone molds. Place the springform pan in a large shallow pan containing hot water that comes about halfway up the sides of the pan. Bake the cheesecake until the top is lightly browned, about 1 hour and 30 minutes. (or 25 minutes if using molds.  Molds require no water bath)  Allow to cool in the oven with the door propped open.

For the Crust

  • 10 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
  • 2/3 cup Dixie Crystals Granulated Sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 cup pulverized Vanilla Wafer Cookies

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the egg and beat until combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  2. Add dry ingredients and mix on low until combined.
  3. Chill for 30 minutes, then roll half of dough  between two floured pieces of parchment paper.  Press into round cake pan or, if making minis, cut into desired size.  Freeze remaining dough for later use.
  4. Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes, or until golden brown.  (Skip this step if making full sized cheesecake and follow directions above.)

To Assemble:

Mini Cheesecakes – Place one mini cheesecake onto one cookie crust.  Top with homemade whipped cream and garnish as desired.

Full Sized Cheesecake – Remove from springform pan and top with piped homemade whipped cream.  Garnish as desired.

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Thanks so much Mike for your help, and I’m thrilled to have gotten to get to know you. I think.  And thanks for the sugared jalapenos we used to top this beauties – I appreciate it!

This post is courtesy of and sponsored by McCormick.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Cream Cheese Danish

Store bought Danish?

Really good. 

In fact, if I go more than 6 months or so without making fresh, from-scratch Danish, I think store bought Danish is better than anything I could make myself.  As if my tastebuds are ticked off at me for denying them the real thing, and so they convince my brain that homemade Danish isn’t worth the time.

Those tastebuds. Liars, they are.

Because until you’ve had your hands in that gorgeous dough, slicing perfectly thin strips, braiding one tab over another over the creamy filling, and then watching it rise up and bake to a golden perfection?  You’ve not had a Danish.

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And you’ve not even tasted it yet.

One bite – you are a goner.

Store bought Danish doesn’t offer those crispy, yeasty, flaky, buttery layers.  You can not BUY the ingredients for the perfect Danish for what you PAY for a store bought Danish. $3.99?

You get what you pay for.  And trust me – this Danish is worth every single penny.

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Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Cream Cheese Danish

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Roll out prepared dough into large rectangle (12×18 is a good size.)
  2. In small bowl or in stand mixer beat cream cheese, egg, sugar and vanilla until smooth.   Add in Lucky Leaf Pie Filling. Mix until combined.
  3. Spread cream cheese filling down the center length of the dough, leaving 4 inches unfilled on each long side. Cut slits 1/2 inch wide evenly down each side.
  4. Top cream cheese filling with chocolate. Begin "braiding" the strips of dough across the filling.
  5. Once braided, allow dough to rise for one hour. If desired, apply egg wash and sanding sugar to risen braid, then bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Rotate pan at 10 minutes, then lower temperature to 350 and bake for 15-20 additional minutes. Serve and enjoy!

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As you can see in the recipe, I used Lucky Leaf Raspberry Pie Filling.  Why?

Lucky Leaf Premium Red Raspberry Pie FillingWell, it’s easy.  It’s convenient. It’s winter, and raspberries aren’t quite in season.  And?  It tastes great, and works really well in this kind of application.  I was fortunate enough to attend a media tour of the Lucky Leaf factory last summer, and was really impressed with the quality and simplicity of the company.  Real ingredients. Real people.  Kind of refreshing!  Plus, they have a huge variety of different fillings.  I wish more were available here, because there are a LOT of exciting ones! (Dark Sweet Cherry? Blueberry? Strawberry?  Any of these would be excellent used in this Danish.  Mix it up!)

I also have to say a big THANK YOU to my friend Anna at Hershey!  She introduced me to these Baking Melts recently – and YUM!  Sure, you can use all chocolate chips if you like, but if you can find the Baking Melts in your grocery, I do highly recommend them – perfect for baking, so melty and delicious! Thanks sweet girl!

Now – get to baking, kids!  And Happy Valentine’s Day!!

For more tasty Lucky Leaf Valentine’s Treats, check out my friends posts:

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  • For more information on Lucky Leaf, you can find them HERE
  • And on Facebook and Twitter – Stay Connected!

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Lucky Leaf.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Orange Pomegranate Scones from Budget Gourmet Mom

As you may know, I am not what you’d call a “People Person.”  Like, at all.  Meeting new people is hard for me – I am backwards, awkward, and well, people scare me in general.  But as soon as I met Krista, the force behind Budget Gourmet Mom, I immediately loved her.

Sweet. Sassy. Downright hostile under those pretty eyelashes.  Don’t let her fool you, kids – she’s a tough chick.  And she has to be!  With a house FULL of FOUR little boys (no girls, and no, don’t ask her if she’s going to try for one) , Krista needs to stay on top of her game.

I envy her not one bit.

The fact that she took time out of her busy schedule to guest post here on Doughmesstic makes me love her even more, and I do hope our paths cross again soon in the Real World.  They simply must.  Until then, here’s her delicious scone recipe that I know you all are going to love…and Thanks, Krista!

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Scones As a little girl, when I imagined my family, I could never have pictured the sea of testosterone that would be my fate. My four boys who contribute to that sea also come with some baggage in the form of toy cars, sports gear, and dirty shoes. Thanks goodness for IKEA organization and carpet cleaner. I couldn’t imagine my life any other way, except maybe the IKEA would be closer and we would have hard floors throughout with a super plush rug by the couch. And despite the insane amount of energy it takes to wrangle my brood I somehow manage to steal moments that make me feel like a lady.

Pomegranate Scones-3 Shopping by myself and moseying down the aisles at Trader Joe’s is one. I discover something new every time I shop there and while I was there the other day I found some chocolate covered pomegranate seeds I just had to try. It wasn’t long before I knew how I could turn them into another lady like treat…scones. The word just screams tea party. Can’t you imagine sitting around the table sipping tea, or in my case hot Dr. Pepper, from dainty little cups all whilst you talk about the latest trends and celebrity gossip!? Of course you can. And I urge you to share these Orange Pomegranate Scones at the next tea party you have. They are even better for a party of one {more for you}!

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Orange Pomegranate Scones

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, frozen
  • 1/2 cup chocolate covered pomegranate seeds
  • 6 oz plain greek yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • turbinado sugar, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 400°
  2. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Grate the butter into the flour mixture using the large holes on the grater. Use your fingers to work the butter into the flour until it resembles a course meal.
  4. Stir in the pomegranate seeds.
  5. In a small bowl whisk together the yogurt, egg, and orange zest. Add to the flour mixture. Use a fork to stir it until dough clumps form. Continue to press the dough together with your hands.
  6. Place on a lightly floured surface, press into a 7 to 8 inch circle, and cut into 8 triangles. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar, if desired, place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 15-17 minutes.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Orange and Almond Cheesecake with Cranberry Sauce

I write very little about my in-laws.  My family?  Well, I grew up with them, and while I may not name names, or tell every little story I want to, I am allowed.  They are required to love me, no matter what.

The in-laws? Well, they are not bound by blood or contract.  And? All of them are in a school system.  For real.  It wouldn’t be nice to tell you all the little things about them, then their students somehow find out about my blog and harass them over it.

Much.

But, I am going to take a chance here.  You see, my parents-in-law are just about to retire from their respective positions, which leaves me only a few more months of keeping my mouth zipped. So, I am going to tell you a little story about my Father-in-Law, and what I have dubbed the Christmas Meanness.

Every year for the holidays, Jon and I, as well as his sister and her family travel to the unspoken depths of West Virginia to spend a few days with the folks.  Typically it’s three days of laying around for the gals, and the guys all go outside and do random yard work.  I can get lost in a book or 32 various catalogs that for some reason always seem to be on hand.

It’s an enigma, those catalogs.

This year, there was still plenty of relaxing down time, but upon our arrival the first evening, the Christmas Meanness was deployed as soon as we walked in after a 5 hour drive.

“I need you to make a cheesecake.  And you need to use this Cranberry Sauce.”

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Now, don’t get me wrong.  You know I love to bake.  I love cheesecake, especially, and all boasting aside – I make a fabulous cheesecake. Fabulous.  I’ve spent about 3 years perfecting my method, I know a good base recipe by heart, and there’s something about popping the springform release on a gorgeous specimen that really gets me going.

But my cheesecakes take a day to make.  AND – I don’t dig cranberries.  Period.

The biggest kicker? I like to bake at HOME, where I know my mixer, my oven, my ingredients.  I’ll be honest – I was skurred.  I didn’t want to be the Cheesecake Queen that failed vehemently on Christmas, after a request from a gourmet lover like my FIL.  I just couldn’t let that happen. I mean, he’s displayed every single one of my cookbooks, even the one I only photographed.  He thinks I am CAPABLE.  That’s a lot to live up to.

Despite the fear (am I being ridiculous?  Does anyone else have Baking Away From Home fears?  Pressure To Impress fears?) – I set out to make that cheesecake.

Because I am a crust hater (judge away, I can take it) I opted to use a sugar cookie as the base, and trust me, that was the perfect crust for this flavor combination.  Sweet, but not overpowering, just a great compliment to the flavors I chose to use.

Not being at home with my stash of all things baking, I made use of what their kitchen had on hand, namely some Almond Extract and an orange.  I knew both would play well with the cranberry sauce, which I decided to use only as a topping versus IN the cheesecake.  That way, those of us who aren’t cranberry lovers (which was about half of us) didn’t have to opt out of dessert.  That would have been tragic.

A tip I learned from Dorie Greenspan (the lady I attribute my love and knowledge of baking to) is to take the zest of your orange and work it into your sugar by using your fingers.  What results is a pungent, aromatic, gloriously citrus-filled sugar that emanates into every bit of the dessert, and it’s worth the minute or two it takes to do it.

That citrus-y sugar combined with a bit of Almond Extract was exactly the right combination for this cheesecake, and believe it or not, that cranberry sauce he’d purchased was really good…so we all ate it anyway.

Live and learn.

Okay, so maybe The Christmas Meanness was a little harsh.  So it took me a few hours of hands on time, but, I did get to eat it.

And blog about it.

That’s a score.

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Orange and Almond Cheesecake with Cranberry Sauce

makes one 9 inch cheesecake

Ingredients

  • Sugar Cookie Dough (I used Pillsbury, about 18 cookies)
  • 4 – 8-ounce packages cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar (I prefer Dixie Crystals)
  • Juice and Zest of 1 orange
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon Almond Extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Homemade or Purchased Cranberry Sauce, if desired

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F and grease or butter a 9-inch springform pan. Wrap the pan in heavy duty aluminum foil so that it is waterproof.
  2. Press cookie dough into the bottom of the pan. For store bought dough, it will take roughly half the roll or 16-18 cookies.
  3. Work the zest of the orange into the sugar, until sugar is uniform in color and aromatic.
  4. Place one 8-ounce package of the cream cheese, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and the cornstarch in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until creamy, about 3 minutes, then beat in the remaining 3 packages of cream cheese.
  5. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat in the remaining sugar, then beat in the salt, vanilla, almond extract and orange juice. Blend in the eggs one at a time, beating only until completely blended. Lastly, mix in the sour cream and heavy cream. Be careful not to overmix the batter.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Place the springform pan in a large shallow pan containing hot water that comes about halfway up the sides of the pan. Bake the cheesecake until the top is lightly browned, about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Allow to cool in the oven with the door propped open.
  7. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until it’s completely cold, at least 4 hours or overnight. Remove the sides of the springform pan. Top with cranberry sauce.

Going Bananas with Dole {and a Giveaway!}

Maybe you follow me on Twitter.  If you do, thanks.  I hope I don’t bore you to tears…I just pretty much say whatever I want, when I want.  Sometimes, my filter doesn’t work.  Or maybe I don’t actually HAVE a filter.

Whatever.  Filters are overrated.

But my point is this:  If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I was in California recently with my friends at Dole.

Dole is an easy company to love.  Fresh fruits, vegetables, great snacks for the kids…what’s not to like?  I’ve never heard a single person say anything negative about such a healthy bunch of products.  And Dole?  They do things right.  They go into underprivileged countries, build communities, and change lives for the better.  This is especially true when it comes to products like bananas.

I don’t need to tell you how great bananas are.  You know this.  You know they are excellent sources of potassium.  You know that they are kid friendly.  That they are easy to transport, easy to eat, easy to digest.  But did you know you can rub the peel on your poison ivy or bug bites and it relieves the itching?  Did you know the peel can polish your teeth or shoes?  Did you know you can grill a banana until it is virtually black, and place it on a graham cracker and piece of chocolate for a s’more like you’ll never believe?

You can.

And, did you know there is a machine called Yonanas that turns frozen bananas (and other fruits, should you choose) into a creamy, dreamy sorbet or sorts?  There is.  We were introduced to this incredible machine one day at lunch, and I was seriously surprised at the results.  I combined a banana and raspberries, sent it through the machine, and a few seconds later I had a delicious dessert that rivals any ice cream I’ve ever eaten.  How awesome is that?

Pretty darned awesome.

These are all things I learned at Disneyland, at the Dole Banana Summit. I’m a lucky girl.


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Now, maybe you are wondering what some of the cool things were that I got to do while I was in California?  I mean, I did go to Disneyland, after all.  So of course, cool things transpired. Let me bulletpoint this out for you.

  • Paula made the Front Desk at the Grand Californian Hotel give us connecting rooms.  I didn’t have a moment’s peace. Not one.  But, she’s my bestie, so, I guess that’s allowed, and can be considered cool.  So, there’s that.  I also got to hang out with my lovely friend Brandi, as well as Bree, who got me addicted to very expensive makeup.

Sephora is probably writing her love letters as I type this.

  • I got to finally meet Brooke of Cheeky Kitchen, a true doll.
  • I got to reconnect with Jenny, Amanda, Maria, Gina, Tina, Lauren, Shari, and Julie.  That’s always good.
  • I got to ride on the Cars ride at Disneyland – how fun!!  We raced through Radiator Springs, just like in the movie!

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  • I experienced the Enchanted Tiki Room, a very loved and nostalgic feature at Disney.  It’s actually sponsored by Dole, and has been for many years.  I also got my very own Dole Whip…delicious!

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  • An unbelievable dinner was had at Carthay Circle Restaurant, fine dining ONSITE, which is rare in a theme park.  The menu was inventive and delicious, and if I have the chance to go back, you can bet your butt I will. Everything was delicious!

In case you want to meet all of the Dole Banana Bloggers – here you go!

* Gina of SkinnyTaste.com
* Jenny of Picky-Palate.com
* Kevin and Amanda of KevinandAmanda.com
* Maria and Josh of TwoPeasAndTheirPod.com
* Shaina of FoodForMyFamily.com
* Lauren of LaurensLatest.com
* Brooke or CheekyKitchen.com
* Bree of BakedBree.com
* Shari of TickledRed.com
* Paula of Bellalimento.com
* Shanna of MyFavoriteEverything.com
* Kathy of LunchBoxBunch

Okay, enough about ME and how much fun I had at the Dole Banana Summit.  I want YOU to have something, too.

A Yonanas machine.

You want this, you DO.  Your children want this. Your friends. Everyone wants this, they just don’t know it yet.

In goes a frozen banana, some berries, cream cheese, chocolate – whatever – out comes creamy, dreamy sorbet like deliciousness.

I can’t make this stuff up, folks.

Just leave me a comment, letting me know you want to win. Bam – you are entered.

For more chances to win, do any (or all) of the following, just be sure to leave a separate comment for each item you do:

There you go – 6 chances to win a great, healthy prize!

Contest is open until November 24, 2012, 11:59pm EST.  Prize is courtesy of Dole.  Open to US Addresses only.  Winner will be notified via email.

Good Luck!

Disclaimer: I was invited on this trip courtesy of Dole.  All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

Grape Harvest…Grape Juice, Grape Jelly, and other Grape Recipes

About seven years ago (I really can’t believe it’s been that long), Jon decided we needed a grape arbor.  Okay, perhaps it was ME that decided we needed an grape arbor, but it was Jon that agreed to build it.  I spent a few days designing it – sorry, nothing is ever as easy as it could be when it comes to me, as I am addicted to graphing paper – and then after throwing a little hissy, Jon set about the building of it.

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It’s made from cedar – a man was gracious enough to sell us several large posts for only $5 each – and lots of cross twigs, branches, etc.  It really is quite stunning (thanks to my design?), and makes a real statement here in the garden.  Last year, we even had a couple of picnics under it, as it’s the perfect shady place to set up a little buffet and has a wonderful view.

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The picture above is from last year, and though it’s pretty, it’s not NEARLY as full and tunnel-like as it is right now.  All told, the stone floored bottomed arbor is about 24 feet long, and maybe 6 feet wide.  We have 4 grape varieties planted, and they have grown strong and tall and cover the arbor just as they should, making a secluded cavern, just like you see in magazines. It’s a magical place to hide sometimes. So, so pretty.

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Having a grape arbor isn’t all sunshine, though – grapes are fickle.  Ours, for a few years, were plighted with one random disease or another.  But, thanks to perseverance and a talk with a few winery owners, we were able to treat them, which led to a bounty of gorgeous grapes.

I’ll be honest – I don’t do much with them.  I simply like having them, I like the arbor, I like the IDEA of being the person that grows her own and bottles every drop.  But I don’t.  I suck, I guess.

grapes-sevenBut, I love it when I do make use of them, I love spending time with Seven in the backyard, picking them, watching him get excited about them.

Instead of giving you a run down of how to make your own juice, which I am in no means an expert at, I will instead link you to Elise of Simply Recipes, as she has a wonderful Step-by-Step tutorial if you are considering making your own juice.

Want to make Grape Jelly?  Yeah, me too.  Jessie of The Hungry Mouse has a great picture-filled post about Concord Jam making…looks like a great place to start.

But what if you are looking for other grape recipes? Look no further – here is a round up of the best looking grape goodness I could find. Click through, get inspired, and enjoy.

Savory Fig and Grape Tart :: If it  Lavender Champagne Grape Pie Bites... flaky lavender cream cheese pie crust topped with vanilla coated champagne grapes  Pan Roasted Red Grapes with Farm Cheese, Garlic and Thyme: Easy Appetizer Idea

Baked Brie with Grape Balsamic Compote  Brie and Roasted Grape Grilled Cheese ... simple, sweet and savory for a happy Grilled Cheese Day  Grape and Apple Pie


As you read this post, I am likely JUST landing in Roanoke, returning from Fresno, California, where I have been touring – The Land of…GRAPES.  Well, more specifically, Raisins.  I am thrilled to be one of the California Raisin Ambassadors – so expect to see a lot more information on my trip, as well as a few more raisin posts showing up here over the next year.

Just not today…I need a nap, I’m sure!!

Honey Lavender Popovers with Vanilla Fig Sauce {and a Giveaway!}

Five years ago, I would never have set into the kitchen with at least four of the ingredients listed in the title of this post.  I ate what I ate, most of it from a box or takeout.  Very little experimentation, very little imagination, zero confidence in my cooking abilities.

And yet, here we are.  Honey Lavender Popovers with a Vanilla Fig Sauce.

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I’m not a huge fan of honey for some reason, but it’s starting to grow on me.  Only as a sweetener, though – I still don’t want to actually TASTE it.  And figs?  Well, I’d had dried figs before last year, just never fresh ones.  Lucky for me, Brandi has a couple of fig trees, and her last crop was delicious and she SHARED.  In fact, she shared enough of them that I made Fig Sorbet…and was it ever delicious.

This year, though, thanks to a strange summer season and an early hailstorm that destroyed lots of plants and blossoms, her fig crop is delayed.  Bummer.  But you know what?  Things have a way of working themselves out.

FromTheFarm hooked me up with two varieties of perfectly ripe, perfectly gorgeous fresh figs.

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The pressure…the overwhelming pressure to put them to good use.  I could not afford to fail – they were too beautiful and subtly sweet.  I refused to let them go to waste.

So…it was popover day.  I didn’t want to just cook them IN to a popover – I wanted the flavor to really shine through.  You may know (at one point I did not, so perhaps some of you have never eaten a ripe fig) that figs aren’t terribly flavorful.  Sweet, yes, but subdued and very…I don’t know…sophisticated?  Well, that’s what I am going with.

Sophisticated.

And Honey Lavender Popovers are also quite sophisticated.  Beautiful popovers as well – mine turned out fabulously puffed and deep golden brown.  Was it the honey instead of sugar?  Maybe.  Even after 30 popover recipes in my repetoire, I am still learning the nuances of the popover and what differences in the recipes cause what baking outcomes.

Let’s just say, I will be using honey in a future batch.  The sweetness was rich and the smell? Divine.

Also divine?  The figs.  A quick sauce using simple syrup and vanilla complimented these popovers in a wonderful way.  Not my typical full-on sugary breakfast, which was a nice change.  I can see these being the popovers a Bed & Breakfast would make on a lazy Saturday morning, before the weekend guests mosey on out to the lake for a day of fishing or soaking in the sun.

Or, for fat girls like me to eat at 3 in the afternoon because they’re too lazy to get out of bed in time to make them for breakfast, and too pathetic to drive four blocks to the grocery store to buy a Snickers when they’re craving something sweet.

Not that I have anyone in particular in mind.  That was hypothetical, of course.

Of course.

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Honey Lavender Popovers with Vanilla Fig Sauce

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 12 mini or 6 large popovers

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • pinch salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon lavender buds
  • 1 1/4 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Divide the 3 tablespoons butter into the cups of your Pop Over Pan. (If you don’t own one, you can use a muffin tin, but you will need to use all 12 cups. Just divide the butter up evenly) Place the pan in the oven for 3-5 minutes while you are making the batter.
  2. In medium bowl, beat the eggs with the milk,melted butter, salt, vanilla, and honey, then whisk in the flour and lavender. Pour the batter into the butter filled cups. Return to oven for 5 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 and continue to bake for another 25 minutes. Drizzle with your favorite syrup (I made a fresh fig sauce), and whipped cream, if desired.. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

To make the Fig Sauce: Chop 6 figs into small pieces. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine 1/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water until sugar is dissolved. Add the chopped figs and allow to simmer for 30-35 minutes, until popovers are nearly done. Remove from heat, stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Serve and enjoy.

http://doughmesstic.com/2012/08/26/honey-lavender-popovers-with-vanilla-fig-sauce-and-a-giveaway/

 

So, now you want to make these, don’t you?  But let me guess…you, too, have no access to fresh figs.

Wrong.

FromTheFarm can help!  For about another week or two, they’ll have the freshest of fresh figs.  You won’t even have to sneak down to Brandi’s house while she’s at work to steal from her fig trees. (You won’t HAVE to, but, you could.  I mean, if you had time and were bored, or greedy, you know.)

No, I am not telling you where she lives.

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But, I will tell you that you can order these figs at FromTheFarm. Go on! You know you want to!  How else are they just going to show up on your front porch?

Maybe you could WIN some.  Right here!

Just let me know you want to win…that will gain you one entry.  But you REALLY want to win this.  So, do one or more of the following, then come back here and leave me a separate comment for each one you did.  You won’t be sorry!

There you have it, 5 chances to win!  Contest is open until 11:59pm EST on August 28.  Open to US residents only, ages 18 and older.  Winner will be notified via email.  Prize shipped by and courtesy of FromTheFarm. Disclaimer: I was sent figs, but not compensated for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Good luck!!

National Banana Split Day…and a No Guilt Version!

If I had four dollars and day to spend and the metabolism of David Beckham, I’d go to Dairy Queen every single day for a banana split.  Truth. No pineapple, though, as I do not dig it.  Instead, double up on the strawberries or add blueberries.  Either option will do.

Alas, I do not indulge in the daily banana split.  To be honest, I can’t even remember the last time I had one.  Months, I guess, and that’s a sad, sad thing, since here it is the end of summer already, and I should have indulged.

Crap.

Well, despite that, this Saturday, August 25th is National Banana Split Day.  Maybe I can make the trip and dig in.  Will you?

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I know, I know.  We need to watch our calories.  So, along with Dole Bananas, I am offering you a lower calorie Banana Split inspiration.  Sometimes we just want to have something a little sweet, and not have to buy 12 new pair of pants.  I get that.  This particular Banana Split is calorie friendly, and really quite healthy!  A Dole Banana, cut into thirds, and dipped in melted dark or semi-sweet chocolate (dark isn’t too bad for you!), skewered with a couple of blueberries, kiwi, and a strawberry.  You can eat just one, or eat all three, you’ll still be under 350 calories! (That’s a far cry from the typical 1000 calorie treat, right?)

So, give it a shot.  It IS National Banana Split Day, after all.

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Banana Split Skewers

makes 3 (one total serving)

  • 2 tablespoons melted semi-sweet chocolate chips (@140 calories)
  • 3 medium/large strawberries (@20 calories)
  • 1 medium banana (@100 calories)
  • 1 kiwi, cut into 3 pieces (@25 calories)
  • 1/4 cup blueberries (@20 calories)

Total Calories – @305 calories or 100 calories per skewer

Dip bananas in melted chocolate, skewer with berries and kiwi as desired.


DOLE PEELS AWAY THE CALORIES WITH SEARCH FOR HEALTHIER BANANA SPLITS

In honor of National Banana Split Day (Aug. 25), world’s largest banana provider hosts an Aug. 24 digital party in search of most creative “No-guilt Banana Split”

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.  (August 22, 2012) — The great American banana split can be decadently delicious without all the fat and calories.

            That’s the word from the world’s largest banana provider as the country approaches National Banana Split Day on Saturday, August 25. In honor of the holiday, DOLE® Bananas (http://www.dole.com/bananas) seeks to peel back the 1,000-plus calories of the traditional banana-based dessert and encourage the creation and sampling of far healthier alternatives less than 350 calories.

            Created by a 23-year-old Latrobe, Pa., pharmacist in 1904, the banana split is one of America’s favorite desserts. At an average of 1,000 calories, it’s also one of the country’s biggest nutrition offenders. Planting its flag on the Aug. 25 holiday to offer banana and dessert fans healthier alternatives, Dole is hosting a nationwide Social Media Party to highlight creative banana split recipes that will be used in a “Dole No-guilt National Banana Split Day Album” on the DOLE Bananas Facebook page.

On Friday, Aug. 24, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. EDT (12 p.m. to 1 p.m. PDT), foodies and banana fans nationwide are encouraged to Facebook post (www.facebook/DOLEBananas) and Tweet @DOLEBananas using the hashtag #BananaSplit with creative blog posts, recipes, photos and ideas for the perfect “No-guilt Split.”

Dole is also partnering with Sarah Gim of the noted “food porn” site Tastespotting (http://www.tastespotting.com) to rally the food-blogging community around the “No-guilt Split” idea. Tastespotting, regarded as one of the top foodie websites by a multitude of food bloggers, will be posting banana-split photos only on Aug. 24, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. EDT (12 p.m. to 5 p.m. PDT).

By: ifood.tv