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Apricot-Plum Cobbler

Fruit finds it way into my house in waves. Some days there is seemingly too much for a family of two, even two enthusiastic fruit-eaters, to consume. Lee and I always manage to polish it all off somehow.

Bananas are easy. One goes in my breakfast every morning. Two or three of whatever else is around go towards my lunch and snacks. Lee gets his two to 3 fruit a day whether he likes it or not, assuming he eats the lunch I pack him.

Lately, stone fruit rules my countertop, fruit basket, and fridge. I feel like I have cherry pits coming out my ears and had to take a break from apricots after a total apricot overload last week. My one complaint about summer fruit is this: Why is it all so soft and delicate that transporting ripe fruit in a lunch box leads to a squished mess? You can’t just throw a plum or a fig or a handful of blackberries in a bag and go. These things require armored protection. My lunches away from home are bulky and heavy thanks to all the necessary fruit containers.

Enough ranting about summer fruit’s annoyances. Lets talk about damage control, and by that, I mean dessert. Last week I found myself with a bag of plums from a generous co-worker’s tree and a fridge full of half-smashed hand-me-down apricots (they came to my aunt’s house via a friend who brought them for a jam-making session and then to me when the jam making was over and there were STILL apricots rolling around).

These were good apricots and exceptionally delicious plums – juicy with barely sour skin and bright pink insides. I probably would have eaten all of them as-is if Lee and I hadn’t gone out-of-town last weekend. I wanted to use up some food before we left. July 4th came along and I thought there might be people around to help us eat a giant dessert.

I threw this cobbler together without a recipe, which meant I got to leave the sugar out of the filling and forego making the topping from scratch. Trader Joe’s Multigrain Baking Mix served nicely and I swear we didn’t miss the extra sweetness in our fruit. As one test subject observed, vanilla ice cream balanced out the slightly sour plum skins in the filling (For some reason, those skins actually increased in sourness when cooked!).

 

How about a crude formula rather than a recipe?

roughly 6 cups plums and apricots, pitted and cut into quarters + 1 teaspoon tapioca starch (or equivalent corn starch) + maybe 2 tablespoons honey

+ your favorite biscuit mix or recipe for the crust

preheat to 350, mix fruit etc. in one bowl, crust in another bowl, pour fruit into prepped baking dish, spread crust on top, BAKE

mine took about 25 minutes

serve with ice cream. yum

 

I got to test out my giant Le Creuset pie dish for the first time. This beautiful, red dish needs to come out of the cupboard more often!

Now, why did I just buy tons of figs, peaches, cherries, and a honeydew melon? I’ve already baked something with the cherries, coming here soon.

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Chocolate trail mix muffins

I don’t know what I’d do without snacks. Granola bars, fruit, string cheese, and handfuls of nuts sustain me between meals. There’s nothing wrong with having a snack, as far as I’m concerned, and in a lot of cases it’s absolutely necessary to keep body and brain going!

My morning snacks are usually some kind of granola bar, lately these, a handful of trail mix, or various more complicated things if I’m at home. It’s protein and healthy fat that keeps me going through the rest of the morning.

After weeks of packing the same snacks for all my work days I finally got sick of them last week. Not only was I bored with what I was eating, but I was also tired of spending money on pre-made snacks. The solution: make muffins!

Last weekend was a relatively quiet one – perfect for baking. Lee was invited to race on a boat on Saturday and had to work all day Sunday (ah, startups). I stayed home and relaxed with the dog. That was probably our last weekend at home for a while so I soaked up the leisure time while I could. I thought about projects that need doing but didn’t really accomplish much. Finally planting our backyard herb garden still had me feeling accomplished from the weekend before.

On Sunday I pulled various ingredients out of my ugly pantry cupboards (I swear I’m going to rip those things out one of these days. That’s one of those projects…). I made something new that I hoped would meet my morning snack needs for the coming week. With trail mix as my inspiration and chocolate as my canvas, I chopped, stirred, and sprinkled my way to chocolate trail mix muffins.

Chocolate Trail Mix Muffins

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: PT15-18M

Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup spelt flour
  • 1/4 cup hemp protein powder (or your preferred protein powder, or another 1/4 cup flour)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped
  • 6 prunes, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1-2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. If your coconut oil is solid, measure 1/4 cup into a small oven-proof dish and place in the oven to liquify while the oven preheats.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flours, protein powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder, stirring with a whisk or fork until ingredients are completely combined
  4. Separately, lightly beat the egg in a medium-sized bowl. Then add the buttermilk, sugar, and oil (you may want to allow the oil to cool for a couple of minutes after taking it out of the oven).
  5. Thoroughly blend wet ingredients before stirring in almond extract.
  6. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir gently until barely combined.
  7. Add almonds, sunflower seeds, and prunes and fold into batter, being careful not to over stir.
  8. Spoon batter into a prepared muffin tin (lined with paper or silicon muffin cups or coated with oil).
  9. Sprinkle the muffin tops with shredded coconut.
  10. Bake at 375 for 15-18 minutes or until muffins are firm and the coconut has just begun to brown.
  11. Remove muffins from oven and cool on a wire rack.
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Sun Dried Tomato and Thyme Humus

Ah blog, how I’ve missed you. Between sailing 500 miles , starting a new job here, and gorging myself on veggies from my new Mariquita Farm CSA box this has been a very, very busy month. So busy, in fact, that it’s already time for another Vintage Recipe Swap! I know Christianna has been busy too. How she manages to keep all us swappers supplied with recipe inspiration while balancing the rest of her life I will never know.

My first CSA box: gorgeous lettuce, frisee, green garlic, French radishes and much, much more.

As crazy has things are these days, this swap was an easy one for me. Tomato pudding, you say? A condiment for meat? What a waste of a good pudding! The recipe Christianna supplied this month is tempting enough to try unaltered. Since it isn’t exactly tomato season, though, I’m stashing this dish away for a summer day when tomatoes make an appearance in my CSA box.

As odd as it seemed to use this dish as a condiment, I found myself taking the condiment route for my interpretation of “Tomato Pudding”. Ketchup, hot sauce, various vinegars, mustard, salsa…all those saucy spicy things we slather on our food are some of my favorite things to eat. I learned from my father to generously pepper and Tabasco my eggs. Lately, though, humus is undoubtedly my favorite topping, sauce, dressing, and spread. It’s multipurpose, healthy, and comes in enough variations to keep me entertained.

Spread Peace and serenity for lunch time.

I don’t know why it took me so long to start making my own humus, or to take the next step of cooking dried beans for that purpose. It’s not difficult and really doesn’t requite that much more time. Humus as become a staple of my busy work week lunches. I couldn’t dish out nearly as many sandwiches, salads, or dipping veggies as I do without it.

It isn't pretty but I pomise it's good.

I’ve made several humus and bean dip variations in the past couple months, playing with ingredients to get the optimum consistency and flavor. I encourage anyone who hasn’t tried it to make their own humus. Get creative with what you add and with how you use the finished product. I am completely addicted to humus + a splash of vinegar on a fresh green salad. My dad eats his humus on warm corn tortillas. My husband gobbles it with chips. I even stuffed wonton wrappers with one batch of homemade humus for some interesting ravioli.

I stuck with the tomato theme from the swapped pudding recipe. Sun dried tomatoes are so perfect with chickpeas. The thyme came from last weeks CSA box. My oh my to I love my CSA box. This is my first experience with community support agriculture and I am in love. Give me a box full of fantastic green stuff every week and I will eat it, no matter how much there is!

Sun Dried Tomato and Thyme Humus

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes (from a jar, not dried)
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight (or about 2.5 cups cooked)
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • splash of water

Instructions

  1. Cook chickpeas - I use a pressure cooker: cover the chickpeas with water in the cooker, add a tablespoon of olive oil to keep the froth down, cook for 7-8 minutes, remove from heat and allow pressure to come down naturally.
  2. Drain cooked or canned chickpeas.
  3. Place all ingredients in a large bowl (if using a hand blender), a food processor, or a blender.
  4. Blend until the humus reaches desired consistency, adding more water if you'd like it thinner or less for thicker humus.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freeze for later use.
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Don’t forget, there are many other fantastic swappers out there!

 

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Roasted Citrus Parfait

By now, I’m on the island of St. Kitt’s, trying to adjust to Caribbean heat and humidity. Today, my little brother turns 24. Today is also the first Wednesday Recipe Swap for Burwell General Store. Wow, there’s a lot going on!

While it may sometimes come along during busy periods in my life, I have loved every single recipe swap since joining the group. I always learn something about a dish or two, about my own cooking, and about the astounding abilities of my co-swappers. This little activity has become so popular (yeah, we’re pretty cool) that Christianna, the swap’s founder, proposed that we split into two groups. There is now a Monday Swap and  Wednesday Swap every month. Each group starts with a different recipe, making for even more delicious madness.

As you can see, I fell in with the Wednesday swap crowd. I drooled over the Monday group’s pizza recipes earlier this month. At the time, I already had my own dish in the works, as I knew I’d be in the tropical wilds on the swap date.

I smiled when I saw this months recipe. Ah, jello salad. My mom makes a jello salad, just one but it’s a good one. It incorporates all the wonderful things about jello salads: fruity jello, crunchy things, cottage cheese…I could go on. I actually kind of love it, although I’ve never made it myself.

Anyway, back from that tangent. I didn’t make that salad, or any jello salad. After briefly considering an experiment with agar agar or unflavored gelatin I veered towards simplicity. A simple parfait is much more my style. I carried the citrus and cottage cheese over from the original recipe but needed little else.

I made this for lunch one day last week while I was trying to clean out the fridge and frantically ready myself for three weeks in the Caribbean. Breakfast might be a more appropriate meal for a parfait and it could certainly be a dessert or even dinner with some minor tweaks. The possibilities of varying the grain layer, sweetening the fruit, or maybe adding a layer of wilted kale and some savory spices make this an extremely versatile dish.

My main inspiration was Joy the Baker’s Roasted Winter Citrus. I bookmarked this post last month because I love roasting everything and will try that technique on anything at least once. I’d never tried it with citrus fruit but the idea immediately had me thinking of hot sweet-sour juices paired with something cold and cheesy. I ended up roasted a sliced grapefruit, partly because I’m always looking for different ways to eat that somewhat challenging fruit. Layered with chilly cottage cheese and cooked millet, roasted grapefruit was truly delicious and different.

Look at that soupy cottage cheese running down the inside of the glass. I wished I had my favorite cottage cheese on hand when I made my parfait. Nancy’s cottage cheese is cultured, like yogurt, so it’s tangy and richer tasting, even in a reduced fat version. I love it.

The pineapple in the original Orange Snowflake Salad seemed a little tropical to me. Maybe I just had the tropics on my mind, because knew I had to top my parfait with coconut butter. Coconut butter (like all nut butter) makes everything better, obviously. A more indulgent cook would have put gobs of this incredible spread/topping/syrup between every parfait layer. Next time.

I’m not the only one taking jello salad in a totally different direction!


Roasted Citrus Parfait

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup cooked grain (millet was nice)
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • A few wedges of Roasted Winter Citrus
  • Coconut butter, warmed in a bowl or pot of hot water so it is a liquid.

Instructions

  1. Roast your citrus first, or maybe you have some leftover from another meal.
  2. In any case, cut fruit out of rinds once it is cool enough to handle.
  3. Spoon a layer of grain into the bottom of a pretty glass or dish.
  4. Follow that with a layer of citrus, followed by cottage cheese.
  5. Repeat layers until you run out of room or ingredients.
  6. Top parfait with a couple spoonfuls of coconut butter.
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