Friday, July 31, 2009

Fruit Crisp

When I made this for my sister, she literally licked the bowl clean. I'm not making that up, and she would not deny it. It's SOOO good. This recipe is the main reason that I pick blueberries every summer, so that I have them to make this year-round!

Like the trifle, this is extremely versatile. My favorite combination is peach and blueberry, but I also really like pear and raspberry, and in the winter I often make apple and cranberry. Once you get the "bones" of this recipe down, you can alter it easily based on what's on hand and what's in season.

I love that this dirties only two dishes - the one you bake it in, and one prep dish. And it halves easily - I often make half this recipe in a 9" square dish.

Start with the fruit - chop whatever you need to, and place it in a 9x13 baking dish, or similar 2-3 quart dish. (like pyrex, etc.) You need about 6 cups of fruit total.

Sprinkle with sugar and cornstarch, and then add the lemon juice.

Stir this well to distribute all the elements.

Next, make the topping. Combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and oatmeal in a small mixing bowl.

Cut the cold butter into chunks, and add it to the dry ingredients.

Now, use your fingers to incorporate the butter and the dry ingredients, just like making shortcake. At first, it will seem like this is never going to work - or that it will take forever. But it only takes a few minutes. The result will be crumbs like this:

Top the fruit with this crumb mixture.

Bake for 40-45 minutes til the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbly.

Serve warm with ice cream.

Get more inspiration at Foodie Friday, Family Recipe Friday, Food on Fridays, Favorite Ingredient Friday, Friday Feasts, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday and Tuesdays at the Table.

Fruit Crisp

6 cups chopped fruit (peaches, plums, pears, blueberries, raspberries etc)
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
5 Tbsp. cold butter, cut into small chunks

Place the fruit in a 9x13 baking dish, or other 2-3 qt. baking dish. Sprinkle with sugar and cornstarch. Add lemon juice and stir well to combine.

In a small mixing bowl, combine flour, oatmeal, brown sugar and cinnamon. Using fingers, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle topping over fruit.

Bake at 375 for 40-45 minutes or until top is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Let cool for 1/2 hour. Serve warm with ice cream. Serves 8-10.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Oat Waffles

Waffles are the perfect Saturday morning breakfast, or the perfect summertime dessert! I really like this recipe that includes oat flour to give the waffles a little more whole grain goodness.

I make the oat flour by grinding up oatmeal in my mini chopper. It doesn't have to be super-fine, just pulse/grind it a few times in a chopper or food processor.

If you decide you want to make these often, you can make a whole bunch of oat flour at one time and keep it in an airtight container.

For the waffles, first whisk together the milk and the eggs.

Then whisk in the oil and the vanilla. Add the oat flour and the regular flour.

Add the baking powder and salt.

Whisk until the dry ingredients are combined with the wet. Pour into the waffle iron. I usually use a ladle to make it easier and to control the amount - I hate cleaning up spilled over batter!

Bake according to your waffle maker's directions. Enjoy with fresh fruit, syrup or your favorite toppings!

Get more breakfast inspiration at the Ultimate Recipe Swap. There are more recipes at What's Cooking Wednesday.

Oat Waffles

1 3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup oat flour
1 cup flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs. Whisk in the oil and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Ladle onto hot waffle iron and cook according to manufacturer's directions. Serve with syrup and fresh fruit. Makes 12 square waffles.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Shrimp and Vegetable Stir Fry

I've had this recipe in my binder for several years now, and I'm so glad I finally tried it. I changed the vegetable combination quite a bit - this is another recipe that allows for experimentation! This dish reminds me a lot of one of my favorite dishes at a Chinese restaurant I visit once in a while. And now I can make it at home anytime.

Stir fry dishes come together very quickly so it's important to have everything ready to go before you actually start cooking.

First, chop the vegetables that you'll be using. You need 5-6 cups of vegetables for this dish. I used asparagus, sliced portabello mushrooms and orange pepper. I think broccoli, carrots and snap peas would be really good too.

Chop the green onions and add those to the vegetables.

Season the shrimp with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the shrimp, and stir fry for about 2 minutes until they turn pink. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl.

Add the vegetables to the liquid in the pan and stir fry for a few minutes. Add 1/4 cup of chicken broth and the garlic and continue stirring for two to three more minutes, until vegetables are tender.

Dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining broth and add it to the pan.

Stir constantly until the sauce thickens a bit. Add the soy sauce and stir. Then add the shrimp and stir until the shrimp are heated through.

Serve over rice or rice noodles.

There are more great recipes at Mouthwatering Mondays, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Tuesdays at the Table and Healthy Helpings.

Shrimp and Vegetable Stir Fry

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. olive or canola oil
5-6 cups chopped vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, carrots, peppers, mushrooms, snap peas
3/4 cup sliced green onions
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tsp. soy sauce, or to taste
2 tsp. cornstarch

Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, stir fry shrimp in hot oil for two minutes until shrimp turn pink. Remove with a slotten spoon and keep warm.

In the same pan, stir fry the vegetables for 3 minutes. Add garlic and 1/4 cup chicken broth and stir fry for two to three minutes, until vegetables are tender.

Dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining broth and add to the vegetables. Stir until mixture thickens. Add the soy sauce and the shrimp and stir until heated through.

Serve over rice or rice noodles. Serves 4.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Strawberry Banana Trifle

True Confessions: when I made the banana pudding cake, it didn't turn out well. I was trying to use up some overripe bananas, and I used too many for the cake to bake properly.

BUT, all was not lost. I knew I could salvage that cake, and until I could come up with the bright idea, I cut the cake up into cubes and put it in a freezer bag and froze it.

Recently, when I had some ripe bananas and plenty of strawberries, I decided I could use the cake for a beautiful and delicious trifle! Sometimes half the fun of cooking is repurposing your mistakes! And in this case, it turned out wonderfully.

I did toast the cake cubes for about 15 minutes in the oven before assembling the trifle. If you're using store bought pound cake or your own pound cake that wasn't under-baked (!), you could skip that step.

First, make the pudding layer. I used two small boxes of pudding, one banana cream and one cheesecake. Add the milk to the dry mixes and whisk by hand for a few minutes until it starts to thicken. It will thicken more upon standing, so don't give yourself carpal tunnel over-whisking the pudding!

Do let the pudding stand to thicken for a few minutes, then fold in the whipped topping.

Place a layer of the cake cubes in a large glass bowl, or trifle dish if you have one. In total I had 6 cups of cake cubes, so I used just over a cup for this first layer. Since I use a bowl and not a trifle dish, I need to have more "material" higher up in the layers since the bowl gets wider near the top.

Add a layer of pudding and then a layer of sliced fruits.

Repeat the layers: cake, pudding, fruit, cake, pudding.

In this case, since I was using bananas and strawberries as my fruits, I decided to put only strawberries on top since bananas get brown easily. You could add bananas right before serving if you like.

One thing I love about trifles is that the combinations are seemingly endless. Last Christmas, I made a festive dessert using white chocolate pound cake with white chocolate pudding, kiwis and strawberries. Another good combination would be other more "tropical" fruits like mangoes, kiwi, mandarin oranges and bananas with coconut cream pudding. And of course, you could make a trifle with cut up brownies, chocolate pudding, and crushed up toffee bits. I can already feel my waistline expanding.

Get more great recipes at the Krazy Kitchen, Food on Fridays, Friday Feasts, Foodie Friday, and Family Recipe Friday.

Strawberry Banana Trifle

2 small boxes pudding mix, sugar free is fine
(Flavor is up to you, vanilla, cheesecake, banana cream)
3 cups milk
1 8 oz. carton whipped topping
6 cups diced pound cake
2-3 bananas, sliced
1/2 pound strawberries, sliced

Combine the dry pudding mixes and milk in a large mixing bowl and whisk by hand until it begins to thicken. Let stand for a few minutes to thicken slightly. Fold in the whipped topping.

Place about 1 cup of cake cubes in bottom of large glass bowl. Top with a layer of pudding, then a layer of sliced fruit. Repeat layers two more times: cake, pudding, fruit, cake, pudding, fruit. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until serving.

Serves 10-12.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Chicken Fajitas

I love fajitas. I was so excited when I found this marinade for the chicken that is absolutely delicious, has a little kick, and uses ingredients that I always have on hand!

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a small bowl.

Then spread over chicken to coat completely. I did this in a tupperware dish since I was short on time (I was actually grilling the chicken within MINUTES of marinating it - not recommended!), but I think it would work best to use a plastic bag so the marinade coats both sides of the chicken. Let the chicken marinate for at least a couple hours, in the refrigerator.

These fajitas can be made on the grill, or using a pan on the stove if it's not grilling weather. In this case we were grilling.

The next step is to slice up the peppers and onions. I used red, green and orange peppers this time - but any color combination works. I placed these in a grill basket for grilling.

If you don't have a basket or wok for grilling vegetables, you can put the peppers and onions in a foil packet. Simply use a doubled-up piece of foil, place vegetables in the middle, and bring the corners together to seal. You can place this directly on the grill. The vegetables won't get grill marks but they will get hot and softened. Another options is to place halved peppers and onions directly on the grill grates, and then slice them after grilling.

Place the chicken on the grill over medium heat and cook for 6-8 minutes per side until juices run clear. Grill the vegetables until they are tender, 10-15 minutes.

Slice up the chicken and place in a serving dish.

Put the vegetables in a separate dish.

Warm the tortillas in the microwave for about 30 seconds for a stack of 6-8. Serve with cheese, salsa, sour cream, or your favorite fajita fixings!

Get more healthy and good food ideas at Healthy Helpings and Overwhelmed with Joy's Favorite Ingredient Friday, healthy eating edition!

Chicken Fajitas

1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. lime juice

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast
3-4 bell peppers, sliced
2 medium onions, sliced
Flour tortillas
Shredded Mexican cheese
Sour Cream

Combine all marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Place chicken in a large resealable plastic bag; add marinade and toss to coat well. Refrigerate for at least three hours.

Prepare grill for grilling over medium heat.

Place peppers and onions in a grill basket or foil packet. Grill chicken for 6-8 minutes per side or until juices run clear. Grill vegetables for 10-15 minutes until tender.

Warm tortillas in microwave for 30 seconds. Serve sliced chicken and vegetables with tortillas, cheese, salsa and sour cream.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Freezing Blueberries

I love to have blueberries available all year long for use in muffins, cobbler, pancakes, cakes, etc. So each summer, I freeze a large batch of them for use during the year.

Most years, I pick my own. My schedule doesn't allow that this year, so I was thrilled when my neighborhood grocery had an amazing sale on blueberries! I bought 8pints!

Freezing them is very easy. Don't wash them. Just spread the blueberries out on a large rimmed baking sheet (be sure to use a rimmed sheet!). This pan is about 11x17 and it holds 3 pints.

When they're spread out on the sheet, you can easily find the ones that still have little stems attached, are squished or are possibly moldy, and then remove them (either the stems or the whole berry.) This is less likely if you have picked your own, since you probably picked them cleanly and didn't squash any!

Put the pan in the freezer and allow to freeze for about 3 hours minimum. When frozen, scoop them into a zip top freezer bag.

Now you have lucious berries to enjoy all through the winter. That works for me!

Get more great tips at Kitchen Tip Tuesday.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Crab Rangoon

I love eating crab rangoon at restaurants, so when I found this version to make at home, I was ecstatic! A small disclaimer: these are baked and not fried, so the texture is different. I think they would be better fried, but wouldn't most things? However, since they're not fried, their caloric load is greatly reduced, which means you can eat MORE of them. Even though they're not fried, they have the same delectable filling on the inside.

Start by combining the cream cheese, garlic salt and worcestershire sauce.

Mix well to combine, then stir in the green onions and crab.

Carefully separate the wonton wrappers. These are thin and they tear easily. Do your best to keep them whole!

Spoon about two teaspoons of filling in the middle of the wonton wrapper.

Then bring the corners of the wrapper up to seal.

You'll probably need to moisten your fingers with water to get the wrapper to seal up - I keep a small glass of water nearby to make this easy.

Place the finished wontons on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

Then lightly spray the tops with more nonstick spray - this will help them crisp up slightly.

Bake until golden brown, and serve warm!

Note: these do not re-heat well so I recommend eating them all fresh from the oven!

Get more cooking inspiration at the Ultimate Recipe Swap, Mouthwatering Mondays, Tempt my Tummy Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesdays, and Tuesdays at the Table.

Crab Rangoon

4 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 can (4.25 oz) crab meat, drained
2 green onions, chopped
16 wonton wrappers

In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, garlic salt and Worcestershire sauce and stir until smooth. Stir in the onions and crab. Place 2 tsp. full in the center of each wonton wrapper. Moisten edges wtih water; bring corners to center over filling and press edges together to seal.

Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Lightly spray wontons with cooking spray. Bake at 425 for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Summer Cucumber Salad

I love this salad - it just feels like summer when I eat it! When I make it, it never lasts long around my house. It's light and refreshing, and a great way to get enough vegetables in your diet. Cucumbers are great for your complexion, and they also have vitamin C. The silica in cucumber is an essential component of healthy connective tissue, which includes muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and bone. So, you should make this salad!

Start by combining the sugar, vinegar, water and salt in a small saucepan.

Bring this to a boil over medium heat, stirring a few times, and boil for a minute or so until the sugar is dissolved.

Meanwhile, slice the cucumbers and onions.

Place the cucumbers and onions in a large bowl, and sprinkle with dill.

Now pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables.

I make this in a large tupperware bowl that has a tight fitting lid so that I can shake it up! If you're not shaking, stir well, then cover and refrigerate for at least three hours or overnight. The flavors intensify the longer this sits, so it's even better the second day!

Note: cooking the vinegar and sugar creates a strong smell in your kitchen and possibly throughout your house. If you have someone in your household who is averse to that smell, make this when he/she is not home. And then light some candles...

There are more cucumber ideas at the In Season Recipe Swap. And there are more great salads at the Ultimate Recipe Swap.

For other great recipes, visit This Week's Cravings, Seasonal Sundays, Food on Fridays, Family Recipe Fridays, Favorite Ingredient Fridays, Foodie Friday and Friday Feasts.

Summer Cucumber Salad

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. salt
3 to 4 large cucumbers, sliced
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp. minced fresh dill OR 1 Tbsp. dill weed

In a saucepan, combine sugar, vinegar, water and salt. Bring to a boil. Cook, stirring for 1 minute or until sugar is dissolved.

Combine cucumbers, onion and dill in a large bowl. Pour vinegar mixture over cucumbers. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours or overnight. Makes 6 cups

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Raspberry Cake

This is a refreshing summer dessert. It DOES involve using the oven, but it's worth it. And since it uses frozen raspberries, it can be made year-round if you like. If you have a supply of fresh raspberries, you could use those too. Just sweeten them and let them sit for a while to produce their own juice.

This is one of those great desserts that starts with some convenience items but tastes and looks like you fussed. It's so easy and fun to doctor up a boxed cake mix and turn it into something wonderful!

Start by combining the cake mix and gelatin in a large mixing bowl. Add the eggs, oil and water and beat well until combined.

Add the raspberries (do not drain!) and mix well to incorporate them into the batter.

Pour the batter into a greased cake pan and bake.

Let the cake cool completely. When it's cool, fold the whipped topping into the raspberries for a simply delicious, light frosting.

Spread the frosting over the cooled cake, and refrigerate for at least two hours before serving. Store this cake in the refrigerator.

Get more great raspberry recipes at the In Season Recipe Swap.

Raspberry Cake

1 package white cake mix
1 3 oz. package raspberry gelatin (sugar free is fine)
4 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup hot water
2 - 10 oz. package frozen sweetened raspberries, thawed, undrained
1 12 oz. carton whipped topping

In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix and gelatin. Add eggs, oil and water and beat until well combined, occasionally scraping down the side of the bowl. Add one package of raspberries and mix until blended.

Pour cake batter into a greased 9x13 cake pan. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes until cake tests done. Cool completely.

For frosting, fold whipped topping into second package of raspberries until well combined. Frost cake and refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.

Store in refrigerator. Serves 16-20.
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