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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Cinnamon

Myths And Traditions About Hot Cross Buns According To The Smithsonian:

Hot Cross Buns are traditionally eaten during Lent, especially in the week leading up to Easter. Marked with an icing cross on top, they’ve been a holiday staple in many countries for centuries. (Versions of the hot cross bun even appeared in ancient Greece.) Given the bun’s long history, legends and superstitions have developed over time.

Here are a few:

Some believe the hot cross bun originated in St Alban’s, where Brother Thomas Rocliffe, a 14th Century monk at St Alban’s Abbey, developed a recipe called an”Alban Bun” and distributed the bun to the local poor on Good Friday.

In 1592, during the reign of Elizabeth I, it was forbidden to sell spiced bread, except at burials, on Good Friday, or at Christmas. If you violated the decree then you had to give all of your bread to the poor.

English folklore includes many superstitions surrounding hot cross buns. One of them says that buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or grow moldy during the subsequent year. If hung in the kitchen, they are said to protect against fires and ensure that all loaves of bread turn out perfectly. The hanging bun is replaced each year.

Another tradition encourages keeping a bun for medicinal purposes. A piece of it given to someone who is ill is said to help them recover.

If taken on a sea voyage, hot cross buns are said to protect against shipwrecks.

They also expel bad spirits. Due to the blessed cross on top, hot cross buns hung in the kitchen are supposed to protect from evil spirits.

Those who share a hot cross bun are said to enjoy a strong friendship and bond for the next year. A line from an old Irish rhyme captures this lore, “Half for you and half for me, between us two, good luck shall be.”

I certainly wish my version of Hot Cross Buns brings you good luck!

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

12 buns

Ingredients

1 tablespoon instant yeast
2 cups bread flour or 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons.wheat gluten
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup milk
1 cup sourdough starter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins
Powdered sugar icing, recipe below

Directions

Combine the flour, wheat gluten, yeast, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix with a paddle attachment to thoroughly combine the ingredients.

Add the sourdough starter, milk, butter, and vanilla. Mix together until a dough forms. Add the raisins, and mix into the dough.

Switch to the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth — about 10 minutes.

Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat the top. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double — about 1 hour.

Punch down the dough. Divide into 12 equal pieces. Shape each into a ball. Place in a greased 13×9 inch baking dish.

Cover the dish with plastic wrap; let rise in warm place until double — about 30 minutes.

Bake in a preheated oven 400°F for 20 minutes or cooked in the center and golden brown in color.

Cool on wire rack. Be sure the buns are completely cool before adding the frosting or the frosting will melt over the buns.

Powdered Sugar Icing

Combine the following ingredients to make a thick frosting.

1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk

With a spoon, drizzle icing in a cross pattern over each bun.

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Fresh fruit is so plentiful now that I can’t resist baking with some of it. The question is – which fruit to use? Cherries have a short season, so I take advantage of their availability now. Peaches are so flavorful at this time of year, you will want to bring home a bag full. Here in the south figs are everywhere and there are so many things you can make with them. What is your favorite summer fruit for baking?

Louisiana Fig and Pecan Cake

Ingredients

3 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups chopped fresh figs
½ cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Confectioner’s sugar, for serving

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a standing mixer, whisk the eggs briefly in the mixer bowl. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about one minute.

Add oil and beat until just combined.

In a separate medium bowl, combine the buttermilk and baking soda.

Beginning with the flour, add flour and buttermilk mixture alternately and mix until combined.

Add the chopped figs, cinnamon, cloves, salt and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

Pour batter into a greased and floured tube pan, or into 2 loaf pans (8x4x2½).

Bake until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the cake, 60-70 minutes for the tube pan and 50-55 minutes for the loaf pans.

Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan. Allow the cake to cool completely.

Garnish with confectioner’s sugar before serving.

Sweet Cherry Galette

Ingredients

1/2 package of refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury), at room temperature
1/3 cup brown sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch or other pie thickener
3 1/2 cups pitted fresh cherries (about 1 1/4 pounds)
1 tablespoon amaretto liqueur
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Coarse sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface into an 11-inch circle.

Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Mix the pitted cherries with the brown sugar, salt and liqueur.

Spoon the cherries over the dough and leave a 2-inch border.

Drop pieces of butter over the cherries and fold the edges of the dough over, pressing lightly.

Sprinkle the crust with coarse sugar and bake for 40-45 minutes until the cherries are bubbling and the crust is brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Big Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies

My children and grandchildren visit in the summer because they like all the water activities that are available at this time of year. A favorite dessert for all are chocolate chip cookies. I prepare a big batch before they arrive and store them in the freezer. Serving dessert is so easy – don’t even have to think about it.

If you do not want to make a big batch, the recipe ingredients can easily be cut in half.

Ingredients

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

Heat the oven to 350° F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. I use four baking sheets for this recipe, so I can rotate them quickly.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then the vanilla.

Reduce speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined (do not overmix). Mix in the chocolate chips by hand.

Use a cookie scoop to drop the dough onto baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Place 12 cookies on a sheet.

Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until golden around the edges but still soft in the center, 14 to 15 minutes.

Cool slightly on the baking sheets, then slide the parchment paper with cookies on it to the kitchen counter to cool completely.

Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

I store the cookies in the freezer and when company comes, I take out a dozen or two the night before and store them in an airtight container.

You won’t have to worry about them for the next day. They will be all gone!

Peach Crisp

Ingredients

6 ripe medium peaches
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Topping

3/4 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, diced

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Make the topping by combining all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and, using your fingers, work the butter into the mixture until crumbs form. Set aside.

For the peaches:

Peel and slice the peaches about ¼ inch thick and place in a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well with a spatula.

Butter an 8×8 inch baking dish and pour the peaches into the dish. Spread the peaches to make an even layer.

Sprinkle the topping evenly over the peaches.

Bake for about one hour until the peaches are bubbling away and the topping is brown and crispy.

Cool the baking dish on a wire rack. Serve the peach crisp warm with a spoonful of whipped cream on top.


Sunrise on the Gulf

Do you get in a rut and eat the same things for breakfast most days? Time for a change. Below are some ideas to add interest to your breakfast meals. Wonderful fresh fruit is now becoming available in the markets, so don’t forget to make a fresh fruit salad to go with these dishes.

Jumbo Cinnamon Crumb Muffins

Ingredients

Crumb Topping

1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 cup self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Muffin Batter

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 3/4 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Directions

Prepare the topping:

In a medium bowl, stir together brown sugar, flour and cinnamon.

With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until the mixture resembles large coarse crumbs.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter and flour two jumbo 6-cup muffin pans.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and baking soda.

In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, mix together the melted butter, sour cream, eggs and vanilla.

Pour into the flour mixture and stir with a spoon just until combined.

Fill the muffin cups halfway and top with the crumb mixture.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Switch pans in the oven after 15 minutes.

Cool the muffins in the pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Avocado and Egg Sandwich

Ingredients for each serving

1 slice bread (crusty artisan bread, such as sourdough, rye, Italian or French) sliced one inch thick
1 garlic clove peeled
1/2 ripe, fresh avocado, peeled, seeded and mashed
1 egg
2 teaspoons olive oil
Slices of tomato
Cooked bacon, optional
Fresh cracked black pepper
Sea salt to taste
Hot sauce

Directions

Mix the avocado with sea salt and black pepper to taste.

Toast the bread and rub one side with the garlic clove.

Spread with the mashed avocado. Top with some sliced tomatoes.

In a small nonstick skillet, heat the oil and cook the egg as desired.

Place the cooked egg on top of the tomatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Top with a little hot sauce and bacon on the side, if desired.

Barley Fruit Scones

Makes 8 scones

Ingredients

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons barley flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoons kosher salt
4 ounces (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1/2 cup homemade or store-bought marmalade or fruit jam
Vanilla sugar for sprinkling on the top of the scones

Directions

Place a rack in center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together in a large bowl, the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Cut butter into 1/2-inch pieces and add to the flour mixture.

With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles large coarse crumbs.

In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and egg.

Pour the buttermilk and egg into the dry mixture and mix until just combined.

Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface. If dough is too sticky to handle, dust it with flour and fold it together a few times.

Divide the dough into 2 equal pieces (use a scale).

Flour your hands and pat each piece of dough into a disk about 3/4 inch thick and 7 inches in diameter.

Cover one disk with the marmalade or jam.

Top with the other disk and press down gently so that dough settles into the marmalade.

Seal edges by lightly pressing together.

Sprinkle the top with sugar.

Use a sharp knife, slice circle into 8 triangular wedges and place them on the prepared baking sheet, leaving a few inches between each wedge.

Place the baking pan in the refrigerator and chill the scones until firm, about 30 minutes.

Bake for 25 minutes. Scones are ready when the tops are golden brown and some marmalade has bubbled over.

Slide a thin spatula underneath them while they’re still warm and transfer to a baking rack.

Potato Omelet

Ingredients

1 mini red bell pepper, diced
1 mini yellow bell pepper, diced
Half a sweet onion, diced
1 ½ cups leftover cooked sliced potatoes (I used leftover creamy scalloped potatoes)
2 tablespoons butter
8 large eggs, whisked
Salt and pepper to taste
2 slices of cheese (American, Cheddar, Swiss)

Directions

Preheat the broiler.

Melt butter in an ovenproof omelet skillet. Add the peppers and onions. Saute until tender.

Add the potatoes and let cook until they begin to brown.

Pour the whisked eggs over the vegetables.

Cook until all the egg is cooked, tilting the skillet to let the uncooked egg run underneath the cooked areas.

Place the cheese on top.

Place the skillet under the broiler and cook until the cheese melts, about 2 minutes.

 

 


fallflavorsheadWhat flavors do you associate with fall? For me the ones that immediately come to mind are apple cider, cinnamon, caramel, ginger, cranberry, pumpkin and nut flavors. Here are a few ideas on how to incorporate these flavors into your cooking.

flavors7

Apple Cider Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 tsp fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • Parsley for garnish

Directions

Put the potatoes, apple cider and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer, stirring once, until the potatoes are tender (25-30 minutes).

Mash the potatoes with the cider until it is smooth. Add the butter and the pepper and heat just until the butter melts. Garnish with parsley.

pumpkin7

Pumpkin Ricotta Cheese Pie

Ingredients

Filling

  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/3 cup of honey
  • 1 cup of pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice

Crust

  • 1/3 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • Pinch of salt
  • Butter

Directions

For the crust:

Place the crust ingredients, except the butter, in a food processor or blender and process until totally ground, but not powdery. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the crumbs for a topping.

Rub a little soft butter on the inside of a 9″ pie pan at least 1 1/2″ deep; use a deep-dish pan, if you have one.

If your pie pan isn’t at least 1 1/2″ deep, substitute a 9″ square pan.

Pour the crumbs into the pan, tilting and shaking the pan to distribute the crumbs across the bottom and up the sides of the pan.

Place the pan on a baking sheet, to make it easy to handle once you’ve added the filling.

For the filling:

Beat together with an electric mixer the ricotta, mascarpone, pumpkin, honey, eggs and pumpkin pie spice.

Continue to beat until creamy.

Pour the filling into the prepared crust and sprinkle the top with the reserved crumbs.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 50-60 minutes or until the top of the center of the cheese pie springs back to the touch.

Chill in the refrigerator prior to serving.

fruitdesserts11

Apple Bars

Makes 20 bars

Ingredients

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped (3 cups)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted or cinnamon chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan; set aside.

In a very large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.

Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the eggs, oil and vanilla. Stir in the apples and nuts.

Add the egg mixture to the well in the flour mixture, stirring just until moistened (batter will be thick).

Spread batter evenly in the prepared pan.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool in pan on a wire rack for 1 hour to serve slightly warm, or cool completely.

fruitdesserts4

Pear Crisp

6 servings

Ingredients

  • 5 cups thinly sliced pears
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Topping

  • 1/2 cup regular rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 2-quart square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Mix the sliced fruit with the granulated sugar and place in the prepared baking dish.

For the topping:

In a medium bowl stir together the oats, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon.

Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the nuts.

Sprinkle topping evenly over the fruit.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the fruit is tender and the topping is golden.

nutbread3

Cranberry Pecan Bread

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup white whole-wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats, uncooked
  • 1/2 cup sweetened applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • Cooking spray

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C).

Coat an 8″ x 4″ loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together the flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and baking soda.

In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk, oats, applesauce and vanilla.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and thoroughly combine them.

Mix in the cranberries and pecans. It should have a consistency a little thicker than pancake batter.

Pour the dough into the loaf pan.

Bake in the oven for 50 minutes, until a knife inserted into the loaf’s center comes out dry or an instant read thermometer registers 190 degrees F at the center of the loaf.

Remove the pan from the oven and let it sit for 20 minutes. Then remove the bread from the pan and let it cool before slicing.

nutbreadcover


img_0008No Yeast Required Cinnamon Rolls

img_0005

Ingredients

Makes 16 small or 8 large rolls

Cinnamon Filling:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft

Dough:

  • 2-1/2 cups self-rising flour (all-purpose flour mixed with baking powder and salt)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and divided

Frosting

  • 1-2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine the filling ingredients in a small bowl, then mix with a fork until well blended.

In a another, larger bowl, combine the self-rising flour, sugar and baking soda.

Whisk together the buttermilk and 4 tablespoons melted butter in a separate bowl, then pour into the middle of the dry ingredients. Stir together until the dough just comes together (do not overmix.)

img_0001

Knead slightly with your hands until the dough forms into a ball, then slice it in half.

On a lightly floured surface, roll each half into a 12×8 inch rectangle.

Spread half the filling mixture into the center, leaving 1/4″ of the dough clear on all 4 sides, then roll up jelly roll style.. Pinch together the seam and roll into an 8 inch log.

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Cut into 8 one inch slices. Repeat with the other dough half and place the rolls in a greased 13×9 inch pan.

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Note: If you like larger rolls cut each roll in 4 (about 2 inches each) and place in a smaller baking dish and cook for 10 minutes longer.

img_0004

Brush the cinnamon rolls with the remaining tablespoon of melted butter and bake for 20 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.

Whisk together the powdered sugar and milk, one tablespoon at a time, until creamy. Drizzle onto hot cinnamon rolls and spread evenly.

Quick Pumpkin Bread

img_0004-2

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice mix
  • 1 cup solid pack pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.Grease and flour a 9×5 inch baking pan.

Whisk the flours, baking soda, salt and pumpkin spice mix in a large bowl. Mix the pumpkin, brown sugar, buttermilk, egg and oil in another bowl until well blended.

Fold the wet ingredients into the flour mixture. Add the pecans and mix.

Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a rack for ten minutes.

Turn the bread over onto another rack to cool completely.

Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf

img_0001-2

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup soft butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 cup light sour cream (or yogurt)

Glaze

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Garnish with candied lemon peel, if desired

Directions

Coat a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan with nonstick vegetable spray

Preheat the oven to 350°F).

In a large bowl of an electric mixer or a food processor, beat together the sugar, butter, egg, lemon zest and lemon juice, mixing well. Add the buttermilk, mix.

Combine the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder and baking soda in a mixing bowl; add to the sugar mixture alternately with the sour cream, mixing just until incorporated. Do not overmix.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center comes out dry. Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.

Remove the cake to a wire rack to finishing cooling.

Glaze:

Combine the powdered sugar with the lemon juice and spread over the cooled loaf. When the frosting is set, garnish with candied lemon peel.

Morning Apple Cake

img_0002-2

8 servings

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 large apple, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Coat an 8-inch round cake pan with cooking spray.

Beat the eggs and the 1/2 cup of sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in the buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla extract.

Combine flour and cornstarch and fold into the cake batter. Pour mixture into prepared pan.

Layer the apple slices in a circular pattern on top of the cake. Combine the cinnamon and 1 teaspoon sugar in a cup and sprinkle over the apples.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until a knife or metal skewer comes out clean when inserted in the center of the cake. Cool on a wire rack.

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maycover

Eating seasonally means buying produce that can be grown locally, in their natural weather and climate conditions. Less energy and less transit time means a cheaper price tag. Eating seasonally also means that every few month or two, we’re trying something new, and that’s a good thing for our taste buds and our health.

Looking for seasonal food ideas or some new spring recipes? Now’s the time for fresh vegetable soups; crunchy green salads using fennel, peas, parsley, asparagus and new potatoes. Rhubarb and berries are in season for some delicious desserts.

May-Produce

Here is a handy interactive chart to see what produce is in season in your area.

Breakfast or Lunch Crostata

maycrosata1

This is a great brunch recipe, also.

Ingredients

  • 1 (9″) refrigerated pie crust, at room temperature
  • I tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red onions, diced
  • 1/4 cup roasted red peppers, diced
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup half & half
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 2/3 cup fresh baby spinach leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Roma (plum) tomato, diced

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a large cookie sheet with olive oil cooking spray.

Heat the olive oil in 7-8 inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and peppers; saute for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

In a medium size bowl, whisk together the eggs, half and half, cream cheese and chives.

Reserve 1 tablespoon of the chopped spinach for the topping and stir the remaining spinach, salt and pepper into the eggs.

Pour the egg mixture into the skillet and allow to cook, over medium heat, just until the eggs are set. Remove the skillet from heat and allow to cool 10 minutes.

maycrostata

Unroll the pie crust and place it in the center of the prepared baking sheet. Using a spatula, slide the omelet onto the center of the crust. Sprinkle the cheeses over the filling.

Fold the edge of the crust over the filling forming pleats as you go around the filling, press down slightly.

Bake about 25-30 minutes or until the crust is light golden brown. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with reserved spinach and the diced tomatoes.

Blueberry Cinnamon Banana Bread

maycake

Ingredients

  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana, about 2 medium
  • 2/3 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries

Topping

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray and dust lightly with flour.

Whisk buttermilk, eggs, mashed bananas, sugar and oil in a large bowl until well blended.

Combine flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in a separate bowl.

Stir flour mixture into the buttermilk mixture, mixing just until combined. Gently fold in the blueberries.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Combine the topping ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the top of the batter.

Bake about 1 hour, or until browned and crackly on the top and a pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan 15 minutes. Remove and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Braised Spring Vegetables

mayveggie2

These vegetables look beautiful served on this Tuscan platter given to me by my friend, Nancy. This is a terrific way to cook vegetables. They taste fantastic after simmering in olive oil.

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 pound (4-5 oz) carrots, each cut into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal
  • 1/4 pound (4-5 oz) medium potatoes, cut into thick slices
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed & cut into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 scallions, trimmed, each cut into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and each cut into 1 inch pieces on the diagonal
  • 1 lemon, cut into eight wedges, de-seeded
  • 1 large fresh thyme sprig

Directions

Pour the olive oil into a large, deep skillet (with a cover) and heat over medium-low heat. Layer the vegetables in the order of how long they cook.

On the bottom place the potatoes in one layer, followed by the fennel and then the carrots.

mayveggie

Add salt to the pan; reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes. Stir the vegetables after 10 minutes.

Add the asparagus, scallions, black pepper, half of the lemon wedges and the thyme to the pan. Cook just until the vegetables are tender, about 5 – 10 minutes more; avoid overcooking.

mayveggie1

Remove the pan from the heat and remove the vegetables with a slotted spoon to a serving bowl. Serve with the remaining lemon wedges.

Note: save the oil and any leftover vegetables to add to pasta for another meal. See recipe below.

Spring Pasta Salad

maysalad

This pasta salad is delicious for lunch.

Ingredients

  • 12 oz orecchiette or small shell pasta
  • Leftover spring braised vegetables, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced thin
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
  • Leftover olive oil from the spring braised vegetables
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, chopped

Directions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain well.

Whisk together the leftover oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add pasta, leftover vegetables, celery, tomatoes and basil and toss to combine.

Serve at room temperature or chilled; refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Italian Style Asparagus Soup

maysoup

Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ lbs asparagus
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups vegetable stock or low sodium chicken broth
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • Truffle oil or olive oil

Directions

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium. Add the onions and garlic and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.

Cut the tips off the asparagus spears and set them aside. Cut the stalks into 1/2-inch pieces and add them to the pot, along with the stock, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Bring to a boil, then cover and turn the heat down to low.

Simmer for about 45-60 minutes until the vegetables are very tender. Turn off the heat.

Purée the soup with an immersion blender until completely smooth and return the soup to a simmer. Add the reserved asparagus tips and cook for a few minutes until tender-crisp.

Stir in the lemon juice, basil and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and drizzle with truffle oil before serving.


companycookiescover1

Family will be visiting at the end of the month. Grandchildren are off from school and it is the perfect time to come south. Still cool up north, but swimming weather where Grandma & Grandpa live.  I like to have nutritious foods available when they visit, so I make a few things ahead of time, especially breakfast items and desserts. These recipes are healthy, easy to make and freeze well. They just need defrosting when company arrives.

bananabread

Good For You Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 cup vanilla flavored, reduced fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 medium very ripe bananas (or 3 large), mashed
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a 9 inch loaf pan with cooking spray and lightly flour the bottom of the pan.

Combine the yogurt and brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Stir until completely combined. Whisk in the baking soda, vanilla and mashed bananas. Add the honey and eggs and mix until completely combined. Stir in the flour and nuts.

Pour into the prepared baking pan.

Bake for 1 hour and a cake tester should come out clean when inserted into the center of the bread. Cool ten minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan. Invert onto a wire rack and allow to cool before slicing. The cake tastes better if allowed to rest overnight.

Hazelnut Cocoa Thins

24 cookies

Ingredients

  • 6 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until light and foamy. Add the cocoa, sugar, flour and vanilla, gradually, as you beat the mixture until stiff peaks form. Fold in the hazelnut flour

Drop by rounded teaspoons of dough onto the baking sheets – 12 to a pan – one inch apart. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until lightly brown around the edges.

Slide the parchment paper off the baking sheet and onto the kitchen counter. Allow the cookies to cool before removing them to a storage container. Sprinkle the cookies with powdered sugar or make a glaze and frost them before serving.

companycookies1

Almond Orange Thins

24 cookies

Ingredients

  • 3 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 8 oz almond paste
  • 1 ¼ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest

Directions

Whip the egg whites until foamy and tripled in volume, but not stiff. Set aside.

Cut the almond paste into small cubes and beat in an electric mixer until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and egg whites and mix until smooth. Blend in the almond extract and orange zest.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Drop by rounded teaspoons of dough onto the baking sheets – 12 to a pan – one inch apart. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until lightly brown around the edges.

Slide the parchment paper off the baking sheet and onto the kitchen counter. Allow the cookies to cool before removing them to a storage container. Sprinkle the cookies with powdered sugar or make a glaze and frost them before serving.

cookiesbrownie

Peanut Butter Brownie Cookies

Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

Brownie Ingredients:

  • 18 ounce package brownie mix
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons water

Peanut Butter Filling:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

To form the cookies:

In a medium bowl, combine the brownie ingredients. Stir until well blended.

Drop 1 level tablespoon of dough on parchment lined cookie sheets about 2 inches apart. I can get one dozen cookies on each of my baking sheets.

For the peanut butter filling:

Mix the powdered sugar and peanut butter together and roll 1/2 teaspoon of the dough into small balls. Press the peanut butter balls into the surface of the uncooked brownie cookies.

Bake for 12 minutes or until the edges are set. Cookies may appear slightly undercooked, but do not overbake. Cool on cookie sheets for about 3 minutes and transfer to wire rack.

IMG_0176

Cinnamon Chip Scones

Makes 16 scones

Ingredients

  • 3 cups unbleached All-Purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup pecan meal (pecans ground to a powder)
  • 1 cup cinnamon chips
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, plus extra for the topping
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Cinnamon sugar, vanilla sugar or sugar crystals for the topping

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, pecan meal, cinnamon and cinnamon chips.

Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, with a few larger chunks of butter still showing.

In a separate bowl, beat together the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it gently just until it holds together.

Divide the dough in half. Pat each half into 6 inch circle. With a bench knife, cut the circle into eight triangles.

Brush the tops of the scones lightly with buttermilk and sprinkle with flavored sugar.

Place the scones on the prepared cookie sheets and bake 20 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Rotate the pans on the oven racks after ten minutes.

Remove the pans from the oven and place the scones on a wire rack to cool.



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