Fresh Apricot Smoothie

Fresh Apricot SmoothieA lovely friend of ours gave us a huge box full of fresh apricots. They are in abundance this year in Utah! So, I did many things with them this week: canning with my mother and aunts, slicing and freezing them, and additionally, we have been enjoying them every morning in our morning smoothie. After many trials, his version is our favorite. Our cute six-year-old asked to be in a picture with it, because he loves smoothies, and apricots.  

Fresh Apricot Smoothie

10-12 fresh apricots, pitted and cut in half
1 tray of ice cubes (about 2 c.?)
1 c. plain or vanilla yogurt (you may want to sweeten the plain with 1/4 c. sugar or honey)
3 T. orange juice concentrate
1-1 1/2 c. water
1 t. vanilla
a dash of cinnamon (optional, but a great suggestion from our Aunt!)

Blend together and enjoy! Makes about 6 cups.

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Cherry Clafouti

Cherry ClafoutiI really love cherry season, and for some reason, cherries are the fruit I get most excited about baking with. I know this is strange–I think it has something to do with memories of Hostess Cherry Pies. Anyway, turns out that nothing from my kitchen has ever tasted like a Hostess Cherry Pie (I’m not really sure how they accomplish it, to be honest), but my adult tastes don’t enjoy them much anymore, anyway. So, if you’re interested in doing something with the cherries you’ve just picked up from a fruit stand, here’s a great option. A clafouti (which, I believe is pronounced “cla–foo-tee”) can be a dessert or if you live at my house, a breakfast food. Ina Garten’s recipes, which I’ve used here, calls for pears, but I’ve adapted it back to the more traditional cherries. Essentially, this is a custard (crepe-like) batter baked with fruit. It’s very simple to make and it looks great straight out of the oven, but stays quite hot, so if you’re serving it to kids, best to wait for 15 minutes or so (the cherries capture a lot of heat). This recipe is adapted from Garten’s Barefoot in Paris.

Cherry Clafouti

1 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 c. plus 1 T. granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
6 T. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. heavy cream (you can use milk here, it will just lessen the creaminess, which works for me!)
2 t. pure vanilla extract
1 t. grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/4 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. almond extract
1 c. sweet cherries
Confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 10 x 3 x 1 1/2-inch round baking (pie) dish and sprinkle the bottom and sides with 1 T. of the granulated sugar.

Beat the eggs and the 1/3 c. of granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. On low speed, mix in the flour, cream, vanilla extract, lemon zest, salt, and almond extract. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, pit the cherries either by slicing them in half or with a cherry pitter. Sprinkle the cherries in the baking dish, and pour the batter over the cherries. Bake until the top is golden brown and the custard is firm, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar.

Cherry Clafouti 2(My husband liked this picture better, so I included them both!)

Chocolate-Coconut Pound Cake

Chocolate Coconut BreadI had this recipe clipped, and I finally tried it two weeks ago. Though not nearly the hit that its companion of the afternoon was (French Lemon Yogurt Cake–I’ll be posting that recipe soon!), I love that it uses coconut oil and has quite a nice, tender crumb, and that the texture even becomes silky the next day. Definitely keeps well, and freezes well, too. You’ll also note by my photo that I didn’t take the time to put in parchment, and it was fine. (I’m also posting it by request. Hope you enjoy it, Mom!). Taken from Bon Appetit, March 2014.  

Chocolate-Coconut Pound Cake

  • 1/4 c. unsalted butter, plus more
  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour [I used whole wheat]
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 3/4 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 c. virgin coconut oil, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 c. plus 1 tablespoon sugar (I cut this down to just 1 c.)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 2/3 c. buttermilk
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter an 8×4″ loaf pan; line with parchment paper, leaving a generous overhang on long sides. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl; set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat oil, 1/4 c. butter, and 1 1/2 c. sugar until pale and fluffy, 5–7 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions; beat until mixture is very light and doubled in volume, 5–8 minutes. Add vanilla.

Reduce mixer speed to low and add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients (do not overmix; it will cause cake to buckle and split). Scrape batter into prepared pan and run a spatula through the center, creating a canal. Sprinkle with coconut and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake cake, tenting with foil if coconut browns too much before cake is done (it should be very dark and toasted), until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 70–80 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cake cool in pan 20 minutes before turning out.

Not-as-Sweet Pumpkin Bread

 

Pumpkin Bread less sugarLast time I made pumpkin bread, my mouth was ringing for a bit afterwards. It just had way too much sugar in it. So, since I’m trying to cut sugar in non-conspicuous ways (I’m not against it, but I just don’t think we need to use quite so much of it!), I changed this recipe a bit, hoping it would still be sweet enough that my kids would eat the whole loaf without question. Totally worked. They didn’t suspect a thing, the loaves were beautiful and delicious, and for me, better, because without so much sugar, the cinnamon and the pumpkin tastes were heightened. I wanted to make sure to write this variation down, before I forgot it. 

Not-as-Sweet Pumpkin Bread

2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (the original calls for only all-purpose, which works great, of course, too)
1 c. whole wheat flour
2 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
4 eggs
1/2 c. white sugar (the original recipe calls for 1 1/2 c.)
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 c. pumpkin puree
1/2 c. applesauce
1/2 c. canola oil
1/2 c. pecans or walnuts (optional)
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease two loaf pans (Pam works fine here).

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and soda. In another bowl (or in a standing mixer), beat eggs and sugars for one minute, then add the oil, combine, and then the pumpkin. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until combined, then add nuts and chocolate chips, if using.

Spoon the batter evenly into the two pans, and then bake for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove to a rack, and let the loaf cool for another 20 minutes or so before slicing.

Yields 2 loaves.

New Favorite Granola

Granola is like bread for me–I have a clear favorite for a few months, maybe even a few years, and then I have to start trying other recipes to see if something better’s out there. This granola has been my favorite for about a year now, and I make it sometimes as many as two times a week. (My oldest son Henry came home from school last week and ate four cups of it. FOUR CUPS of it. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t think any stomach could handle that much granola). Anyway, this recipe comes from Lucinda Scala Quinn’s Mad Hungry, but I’ve made a change or two. 

Great Granola

5 c. rolled oats
1 c. coconut
1/2 c. wheat germ
1/4 c. sesame seeds
1/2 c. nuts (I use sliced almonds or chopped pecans)
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. coconut oil
1/4 c. water
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 t. salt
1 c. dried fruit (craisins, raisins, or whatever. We never get around to adding any, though!)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees, and place an oven rack in the center of your oven. Prepare a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine oats, coconut, wheat germ, sesame seeds, and nuts.

Over the stove or in the microwave, heat the honey and oil until dissolved. Add the water, vanilla, and salt. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients, and mix. Spread on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 50-60 minutes, until golden brown, stirring every 20 minutes to prevent scorched edges. Cool completely on a rack, and then store in airtight containers for as long as two weeks!

 

Healthy & Happy Pancakes

I was pleasantly surprised at the amazing reception these pancakes have had at my house. Usually my kids can sniff out “healthy” food before they try it, and the idea of something being good for them is so completely revolting, that they then won’t eat a bite. Luckily, these pancakes have a very normal appearance, and my kids reported that they LOVED them. I was so glad. We have had them four times in the last two weeks! I’ve intentionally doubled the recipe, and then refrigerated the leftover batter, because they are just as delicious cooked up the next day. This recipe comes from The Frog Commissary Cookbook

Healthy & Happy Pancakes

1/2 c. shredded, sweetened coconut (you can pulse this as well, for a finer texture)
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. old fashioned oats (I’ve blended these for a few seconds and left them whole–depends what type of texture you want!)
1 T. baking powder
1 t. salt
1/3 c. brown sugar
1 T. corn oil
2 c. milk
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
3/4 c. sunflower seeds or chopped pecans (optional–my kids didn’t love these, so I left them out)

Whisk together the coconut, wheat flour, oats, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the milk, egg, vanilla, and oil. Make a well in the dry ingredients, and add the wet ingredients. Stir until just combined, and cook on a hot griddle (375 degrees) until browned on both sides.

Serving suggestions: Honey butter (terrific! We love just the honey butter with these), sauteed peaches or apples, or maple syrup.

Yeasted Sweet Cheese Strudel

Cream Cheese Almond BreadI always want to do something special for breakfasts on holiday mornings, and I’ve tried several different recipes, but this year, I was so happy with this strudel bread, I want to remember it for Easter next year. This recipe comes from Beth Hensperger’s Bread for All Seasons, a delightful book, and this bread/pastry was not terribly difficult, but unique and delicious (what I’m trying to say is that it’s actually my favorite thing to eat ever, and if I had no other considerations like health and weight, I would have it every morning). Anyway, for anyone else who’s a big fan of the cream cheese danish, here’s a great recipe for you to try! Note that the dough sits in the refrigerator overnight, so give yourself time in advance. I snapped the above picture, a couple of slices of the danish, which is all that remained in my house after breakfast from four loaves!

Yeasted Sweet Cheese Strudel or  Cream Cheese Braided Danish

2 1/2 t. active dry yeast
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. warm water
1/2 c. sour cream
6 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
2 eggs
Grated zest of 1 large lemon
1 1/2 t. salt
3 1/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour (exact measure)

Sweet Cheese Filling
8 oz. fresh goat cheese (not Feta!), at room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature [this time, I actually just used 16 oz. of cream cheese instead of goat cheese, and it was still great]
2/3 c. sugar
1 egg
2 t. pure vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 large lemon

Brandied Almond Crust
1 egg yolk
1 t. good-quality brandy [or almond extract]
2 T. light brown sugar
1/4 t. ground allspice
1/2 c. slivered or sliced almonds

1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of the sugar over the warm water. Stir to dissolve. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Warm the sour cream on the stove top or in a microwave to about 105 degrees, then add the butter pieces. Stir to melt.

2. In a standing mixer (or equivalent), combine the remaining sugar, eggs, lemon zest, salt and 1 c. of flour. Add the warm sour cream and yeast mixtures. Beat until smooth, about 1 minute, switching to a wooden spoon as necessary if making by hand. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 c. at a time. The dough will be rather soft and have a silky, translucent quality. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Cover the bowl with 2 layers of greased plastic wrap and let rise in the fridge overnight.

3. The next day, make the sweet cheese filling. With an electric mixer, blend together the cheeses, sugar, egg, vanilla, and lemon zest until smooth and well combined. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

4. Using a large dough scraper, scrape the chilled batter onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide into 3 equal portions. Roll out each portion in to an 8-by-12-inch rectangle, dusting lightly with flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Spread each rectangle with one-third of the sweet cheese filling, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges. Starting from a long side, roll up jelly-roll fashion and pinch the seam together to seal. Pinch both ends to seal and tuck them under. Place on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, at least 3 inches apart. Using a serrated knife, score each finished cylinder in 5 places across the top, no more than 1/4 inch deep. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

5. Bake in the center of the preheated oven 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the brandied almond crust. In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk, brandy, brown sugar, and allspice and beat briskly with a whisk. Using a pastry brush, spread the crust mixture gently over the tops of the partially baked strudels. Immediately sprinkle each strudel with one-third of the almonds. Quickly return the pan to the oven and bake until the strudels are golden, sound hollow when tapped, and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, another 15-20 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully transfer the strudels from the baking sheet to a rack to cool completely. Enjoy!

Blueberry Bran Muffins

This recipe, from Lucinda Scala Quinn’s Mad Hungrycookbook, is terrific. She makes a note that she used to bake these for a shop she worked in; the

I loved the appearance and great domed top on these

recipe was old with a hand-scribbled “the best blueberry muffins” on the side. With that kind-of endorsement, I had to try them! And they are wonderful. I think they might be the best I have made overall–they have a little bit of a strong baking soda taste, but for the texture, I think this might be necessary since the batter is quite runny. I’ve tried substituting half the all-purpose flour with whole wheat, and the muffins were still delicious, but tasted much more like a bran muffin than a blueberry one. Anyway, definitely a keeper muffin!

Blueberry Bran Muffins

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 T. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. coarse salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 T. pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. safflower (or other vegetable oil)
  • 1 1/2 c. milk
  • 1 c. fresh or frozen blueberries (toss briefly in flour before incorporating to even out distribution)
  • 1/2 c. wheat bran or wheat germ
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin or line with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Separately beat together the eggs, maple syrup, sugar, oil, and milk. Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture. Stir in the berries and bran. Fill the muffin cups three-quarters full.
  3. Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan before removing.

Pineapple Upside-down Pancakes

These pancakes are quite excellent. Published in March 2012 Bon Appetit (from a restaurant in New York called Moderne Barn), I knew they were something we would love, but I wasn’t expecting the divine smell that lingered in our home the entire day. It was almost better than the pancakes themselves. So, a must try, but with cooking the pineapple, these pancakes took upwards of 30-45 minutes to complete–not really a fast breakfast, but great for a special one. The last time I made them, my husband was out of town, so I can’t wait to make them again 🙂

Moderne Barn’s Pineapple Upside-down Pancakes

1 T. unsalted butter
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
1 large pineapple, peeled, cut into eight 1/2″ rounds, cored
3/4 c. dark rum (I don’t have rum on hand, so I used a little rum extract with about 1/2 c. water, but apple juice may be better)
1/4 c. (packed) dark brown sugar

1 c. all-purpose flour
3 T. sugar
1 t. baking soda
3/4 t. kosher salt
1 c. buttermilk
1 large egg
2 T. unsalted butter, melted
1/2 t. vanilla extract
Nonstick vegetable oil spray

Melt butter with cinnamon stick in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook until butter begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Add pineapple slices; cook until light golden brown, 4–5 minutes per side. Remove skillet from heat; add rum and brown sugar. Cook over medium-high heat until juices are thick and syrupy. Transfer pineapple to a plate; let cool. Reserve syrup.

Preheat oven to 325°. Set a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Whisk first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Add buttermilk and next 3 ingredients; whisk until smooth.

Heat a griddle or large heavy skillet over medium heat. Lightly coat with nonstick spray. Working in batches, pour batter by 1/4-cupfuls onto griddle. Cook each pan- cake until golden brown and bubbles form on top, about 2 minutes. Top each pancake with a pineapple ring. Flip; cook until pancake is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Place pancakes on prepared rack and bake in oven until cooked through, about 5 minutes.
Rewarm reserved pineapple syrup. Divide pancakes among plates; drizzle with pineapple syrup.

 

Suzan’s Aebelskivers

This recipe is another morning staple at our home.  A few years ago, Aunt Suzan gave us an aebelskiver pan with her Danish grandfather’s recipe. her family makes

These are stuffed with banana, but you can't tell! You can tell where I've pricked them with the skewer when I flipped them, though.

this recipe at Christmas, but after my kids tasted them the first time, they decided we should have them regularly. My Lucy prefers the aebelskivers (which is a spherical Danish pancake) stuffed with a few chocolate chips, and Henry and I like them best with a slice of banana in the middle. I’ve tried placing jam and jelly in the middle, which is great, but a little messier. I know these pans are available online and Williams-Sonoma has them (usually, I think). There’s also many variations–you can be creative–but another one I’ve loved included placing a sage leaf in the pan first (so it was baked onto the surface of the pancake), and then stuffing them with goat cheese. Beautiful.

Aunt Suzan’s Grandpa Ruel’s Aebelskivers

3 eggs
3 c. buttermilk
6 T. melted butter (for taste) or oil (for convenience–and a little crisper, I believe)
3 c. level flour (or 2 c. all-purpose +1 c. whole wheat)
1 t. salt
2 T. sugar
1 1/2 t. baking soda (I usually cut this down by 1/4 t.)
1 t. baking powder (and I cut this one down by 1/4 t. too)
1 t. vanilla

Preheat the aebelskiver pan on medium-high heat.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, powder, and soda well with a whisk. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Make a well in the dry ingredients, and add the wet ones, whisking until just combined. (Grandpa Ruel separated the egg whites, beat them until frothy, and folded them in after mixing the wet and the dry ingredients together. I always omit this step, because of the morning rush, but it’s worth it for the lightness in texture, if you have time!)

Spray the aebelskiver pan with a cooking spray or wipe with oil. When the pan is hot, place about 2 T. batter into each hole. When the pancake has started to firm up on the sides, insert a filling, if desired (chocolate chips, banana slice, jam). Push the filling into the center of the pancake with a skewer tip. Once the pancake releases air bubbles to the surface, about 2 minutes, flip the pancake using the tip of a skewer or a knitting needle or chopstick, so it can cook on the other side for another 2 minutes. Decrease the pan heat, if necessary, to prevent scorching. Continue to bake the rest of the batter. Serve with powdered sugar, syrup, jam, or Nutella, etc.

Makes about 40 aebelskivers.

I didn't fill the whole pan because this was the end of the batter. You can get a good sense for what the pan is--a cast-iron skillet with spherical grooves for the pancake.