Red Velvet Oreo Cookies

What happens when two of my favorite sweets combine? Umm. Magic.

What happens when two of my favorite sweets combine? Umm. Magic.

One of my many, many Target shopping binges inspired these cookies. After Christmas, I’d grabbed three packages of Winter Oreo cookies because they were on clearance. I’m not really sure why, although I do love Oreos, because I try not to keep prepackaged sweets in the house. We have enough homemade treats at any given point due to my slight baking obsession. Still, my practicality is seldom strong enough to withstand 89 cent packages of Oreos. Continue reading

Banana Espresso Bread

banana espresso bread title pic

Chow down.

Chow down.

Spotted bananas are the fruit of the Devil.

But…..they make really, really good banana bread. So for this, they are redeemed in my eyes.

Truth be told, I’d never cared much for banana bread until I was in my teens. And it HAD TO BE my Mom’s banana bread. Especially the end piece.

Sorry, mom. But the one thing I did NOT like about your banana bread were the large chunks left in the loaves. (You guys know, the baked slimy bits that turn black?)

*gag*

Suddenly facing a severe surplus of spotty bananas, I decided to whip out Mom’s recipe. However, I decided to give it a bit of gussying up with some Espresso Sugar I had in the cupboard made by Spaulding’s Specialty Spices. Check them out on Facebook here.

Sugar? Check. Espresso? Check.

Sugar? Check. Espresso? Check.

Flecks of happiness.

Flecks of happiness.

I made a few changes to Mom’s recipe. Aside from the addition of espresso to the banana party, I added a tsp. of baking powder to give the loaf a little extra lift in texture as well as some vanilla and Saigon cinnamon to add depth to the banana and espresso flavors.

Oh! And I made this a “one bowl” recipe. Less dishes? Freaking awesome. You pretty much mix all the wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl then sprinkle the dry ingredients over. I also eliminated the traditional step of adding already mashed bananas to the quick bread dough and used the hand mixer to puree them into oblivion.

Good-bye nasty banana bumps!

I hate mashing. Let's make the mixer do the work.

I hate mashing. Let’s make the mixer do the work.

Butter, sugar, bananas, beaten to oblivion.

Butter, sugar, bananas, beaten to oblivion.

Sprinkling the dry ingredients helps ensure no nasty baking powder lumps in your bread.

Sprinkling the dry ingredients helps ensure no nasty baking powder lumps in your bread.

Smooth.

Smooth.

Eeeeek! Glazed greatness.

Eeeeek! Glazed greatness.

Furthermore, after the cake cooled, I drizzled it with an espresso glaze and topped it with some hazelnuts I’d roasted. This is purely an optional step. You could always mix in your nuts of choice (1/2 cup) into the dough.

I roasted hazelnuts in a 350 degree oven for ten minutes, shaking the pan every 3 minutes until fragrant.

I roasted hazelnuts in a 350 degree oven for ten minutes, shaking the pan every 3 minutes until fragrant.

After they'd cooled, I vigorously rubbed them between two cloth napkins to remove the skins.

After they’d cooled, I vigorously rubbed them between two cloth napkins to remove the skins.

I highly suggest the glaze or a dusting of powdered sugar, though. This bread isn’t crazy sweet like other recipes, due to the espresso calming down the sweetness from the sugar.

Don’t have Espresso Sugar? No worries. Add in 2 tsps. instant coffee or espresso. Don’t like coffee? Leave it out! (Just add in 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon to compensate for the flavor.)

Please note that you will be baking the cake for only ten minutes at 350. Due to the addition of extra leavening to my mom’s original recipe, this bread would brown too greatly baking the whole time at a higher temp. Lowering the oven to 325 ensures that the cake won’t over-brown, but it will still have a nice rise to it.

Queue the eye candy:

Oh, mama.

Oh, mama.

Banana Espresso Bread

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 tsp. instant espresso (omit if using Espresso Sugar)

3 very ripe bananas

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

2 cups flour, all-purpose

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 cup nuts (optional)

Directions:

*preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9″ round cake pan.

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar for approximately 2-3 minutes.

2. Add bananas to the bowl and mix until no large bumps remain.

3. Add in eggs and vanilla; mix until well combined.

4. Sprinkle flour, soda, baking powder, and cinnamon over wet ingredients; mix until just combined. (I switched to a spatula at this point.)

5. Pour batter into prepared 9″ cake pan; smooth top with spatula. Bake in 350 degree oven for ten minutes. THEN LOWER THE HEAT TO 325 DEGREES; bake for an additional 40 minutes or until cake tester or knife inserted into center of cake comes out clean.

6. Let cool on a baking rack for ten minutes. Turn out of pan and let cool for another half hour. Glaze, if desired, or top with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Espresso Glaze Ingredients:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 T. hot water

1 tsp. instant espresso

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp. light corn syrup

DIRECTIONS:

1. Combine all ingredients in small bowl. Use immediately to drizzle over cooled cake.

2. If topping cake with additional nuts, do so before the glaze sets.

 

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Vegan Spiced Coconut Pudding, Mango Compote, and Orange Macadamia Gremolata

I just love seeing my name written in chalk.

I just love seeing my name written in chalk.

I feel compelled to rat myself out on this one: The recipe and photographs for this post were taken back in August. Yes, as in summer.

*hides face*

Between the farmer’s markets, special bakery orders, being a mom to kids AND puppies, plus a full time job that involves a 2-4 hour daily commute I’ve just been tired exhausted.

Yes, I have let things slip. All work and no play makes JC a dull girl.

But let’s not pretend I’m the only person with a laundry basket full of clean, yet wrinkled and unfolded clothes and a case of the “I’ll do it Laters”, yeah?

My friend, Prit, graciously took myself and a few of her other friends to a local Indian grocery store for a personalized tour. I’m a huge grocery store nerd, anyways, so I had to fight off the urge to skip through the aisles. It was so much fun seeing all the different snacks, ingredients, and veggies I’d never even seen or heard of before.

Ladies, I'm gonna need you to go about your shopping duties while I skulk behind you and take "natural-looking" pics, mmmmkay?

Ladies, I’m gonna need you to go about your shopping duties while I skulk behind you and take “natural-looking” pics, mmmmkay?

I saw these cute, little veggies called tindora. So cute! So tiny!

I saw these cute, little veggies called tindora. So cute! So tiny!

Woah! Not so cute! Not so tiny! But, oh how colorful!

Woah! Not so cute! Not so tiny! But, oh how colorful!

Prit took us throughout the store, explaining in detail what many items were generally used for in Northern Indian cooking. We were going to her home for a meal afterward, so she filled our shopping cart with all kinds of fresh veggies and such. As did I, except…umm….well you can say I went a little crazy on the Cadbury just by looking at the pic below:

I like English chocolate, okay?

I like English chocolate, okay? It tastes different than its American counterpart, I swear!

Back at Prit’s home, she prepared a number of dishes while explaining what spices she was using, the preparation method, etc. I’d never had Indian food prior to meeting Prit and I really had no idea about traditional preparations or such. It was so much fun watching her make foods that I’d never tried before. The most surprising dish that I enjoyed was Guju Mango relish, made of green (unripe) mango, grated onion, and fresh toasted spices. It was more of an accompaniment and it was all at once fresh, lightly fruity, spicy, and cool.

Knock, Knock.

Knock, Knock.

Green mango is peeled and then finely grated.

Green mango is peeled and then finely grated.

Shred white onion, not knuckles.

Shred white onion, not knuckles.

Squeeze the juices out of the green mango. This is a GREAT stress reliever.

Squeeze the juices out of the green mango. This is a GREAT stress reliever.

Add some fresh spice, and mix it up.

Add some fresh spice, and mix it up.

Here's a random picture of a tiny eggplant that Prit later sautéed. Why can't produce this cute be more readily available in mainstream American stores?!

Here’s a random picture of a tiny eggplant that Prit later sautéed. Why can’t produce this cute be more readily available in mainstream American stores?!

Northern Indian cooking, aside from bountiful use of produce, relies heavily upon fresh spices, herbs, and infused (usually on the stovetop during preparation) cooking oils. Prit had a pull-out drawer next to her stove into which a silver spice holder-thingy (gosh dang it! I can’t think of a descriptor word) was nestled. This had been Prit’s mother’s and had been in use for several, several years. Check out how cool it is:

Prit simply removes the spice tin from the drawer and all her frequently used dried spices are right there!!!!

Prit simply removes the spice tin from the drawer and all her frequently used dried spices are right there!!!! Here, Prit has heated some cooking oil and is quickly infusing it with flavor by sprinkling the spices into the pan.

I don't recall that anyone knew the proper name for this spice, but they sure are neat looking!

I don’t recall that anyone knew the proper name for this spice, but they sure are neat looking!

I want a magical herb tree in my kitchen! I can't even grow basil!

I want a magical herb tree in my kitchen! I can’t even grow basil!

So much fresh, flavorful food!

So much fresh, flavorful food!

Afterward, we got to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Afterward, we got to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Cheers!

Cheers!

Yep.

I somehow managed to take that picture with one hand while holding my wine glass with the other.

Seasoned professional over here. No, not professional photographer…..

Prit’s good friend Jan (pictured in the mango and grocery store pictures) is vegan, so I offered to bring in a loosely Indian-inspired, vegan, dessert. No, it is NOT traditional Indian fare, but the flavors fit right in. This sounds like a pain in the butt recipe. Yes, and no. All the ingredients are inexpensive and most of them are pantry staples. All your prep and all your assembly can actually occur the day before you plan on serving. Also, the prep methods used are pretty basic.

PLUS: It’s freaking delicious. The coconut pudding is mild yet richly creamy. The spiced mango compote is tangy. The Orange Gremolata is crunchy and adds nice texture and an interesting complement to the pudding and compote. Don’t inhale this dessert. Eat it slowly to really appreciate the flavors and textures. It’s definitely an experience.

Enjoy!

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Vegan Spiced Coconut Pudding, Mango Compote, and Orange Macadamia Gremolata

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Pudding Ingredients:

3 T. cornstarch

2 1/2 cups full fat coconut milk

1 vanilla bean

2 whole cloves

1/8 tsp. nutmeg

1/3 cup sugar (I used a certified vegan, organic sugar)

2 T. vegan butter (I used Earth Balance), softened

Gremolata, for topping (see recipe below)

Mango Compote (see recipe below)

Pudding Directions:

1. Combine 1/2 cup coconut milk with cornstarch. Whisk vigorously until combined and smooth, with no lumps remaining.

2. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, add remaining 2 cups coconut milk, vanilla bean, whole cloves, nutmeg, and sugar. Whisk to combine.

3. Cook until mixture begins to steam; whisk in cornstarch mixture.

4. Bring mixture to a boil and cook for about 3 – 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Lower heat to Low and continue to cook until thickened, about another five minutes or so.

5. Pull saucepan off heat and stir in softened vegan butter. Remove whole cloves from pudding. Remove vanilla bean and, when cool to the touch, scrape the seeds back into the cooked pudding and stir to incorporate. Discard vanilla bean pod.

6. Pour pudding into individual ramekins and let cool slightly. Refrigerate pudding for 2 hours prior to serving.

Spiced Mango Compote

2 cups frozen mango cubes

Squeeze of orange juice (about 1 T.)

1 T. water (if fruit begins to stick to bottom of pan)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

pinch each of cloves, nutmeg, cardamom

Mango Compote Directions:

1. In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mango is softened. Use wooden spoon to break up mango chunks.

2. Once mango is softened, sugar has dissolved, and mixture is thick and bubbly, set aside to cool.

Orange Macadamia Gremolata

1 cup raw, unsalted Macadamia nuts, chopped into small pieces

2/3 cup unsweetened coconut shavings (you can find these at Sprouts, Whole Foods, or Natural Grocers)

2 tsp. orange zest

1 T. olive oil (I used Texas Olive Ranch Rio Orange Olive Oil)

Gremolata Directions:

1. In a 375 degree oven, roast macadamia nuts on a rimmed, parchment paper lined baking sheet for about 5 minutes. Stir every 2 minutes or so.

2. Once fragrant, add unsweetened coconut shavings and add back to oven for two more minutes, stirring every minute, or until browned.

3. Mix toasted nuts, coconut, orange zest, and olive oil in a small bowl until combined.

 

Is that toasted coconut....or sharkfins???

Is that toasted coconut….or shark fins???

Citrus Olive Oil Cake with Strawberry Rose Compote

Feelin' fancy?

Feelin’ fancy?

To say that I’ve taken a bit of a break would be a fair statement. The month of September FLEW past. It’s not that I haven’t been working on any new recipes; in fact, I have three posts just begging waiting to be worked on and posted. Birdcage Bakeshop has been keeping me on my toes; lots of fun, yet utterly exhausting weekends filled with baking, selling, and making new friends at the Four Seasons Market in Richardson.

I’m sure by now, you all know that I work extensively with Texas Olive Ranch Olive Oil Products. BIG, BIG FAN here. I’ve recently branched out and have teamed up with James of Spaulding’s Specialty Spices to use his wonderful, organic, home-grown spice blends in my recipes. It’s very rewarding to be working with a local artisan. It’s even more rewarding that I get to play around with seasonings that have already been matched for flavor pairing compatibility!

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Don’t balk at frozen fruit! It’s always in season, never bruises in your fridge, and is prepped for use!

In this recipe, I used Rio Orange Olive Oil to make a delicate, floral Citrus Olive Oil Cake; I added some sliced almonds to the top for some smoky crunch and texture. To pair, I threw some strawberries into a small saucepan with a 1/3 cup of Spaulding’s Lovely Rose Sugar and a tablespoon of cornstarch.  Depending on the sweetness of your berries, you may need to add additional sugar, 1 T. at a time. This compote is nearly impossible to mess up, but the key is to add additional sugar and/or cornstarch a little at a time.

Using a 9″ springform pan makes baking the cake so simple. You’ll need to put it on a piece of foil or on a baking sheet to catch any leakage. If you do not own one, no big deal! Just use one 9″ round cake pan instead. This cake is so good, very delicate in flavor, and is the perfect canvas to show off your Strawberry Rose Compote. It’s texture reminded me of a chiffon cake with its lightly sponge-like crumb. It’s best served warm from the oven. If you have leftovers, I suggest tightly wrapping the cake in plastic wrap.

Let’s enjoy some pictures of this cake:

Sprinkle the sliced almonds on top of the unbaked cake.

Sprinkle the sliced almonds on top of the unbaked cake.

Let the baked cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

Let the baked cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

Release the springform, and stare in wonder at your gorgeous cake!

Release the springform, and stare in wonder at your gorgeous cake!

The cake recipe was adapted from Giada de Laurentiis’ recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/almond-citrus-olive-oil-cake-recipe.html

For more information on Texas Olive Ranch, go to http://texasoliveranch.com/ or follow them on Facebook here.

Spaulding’s Specialty Spices can be found on Facebook here.

If you are in the Dallas, Texas, area, please stop by and see me and my bakery, Birdcage Bakeshop, as well as Texas Olive Ranch and Spaulding’s Specialty Spices at the Four Seasons Market in Richardson! Find them on Facebook here.

Let's get cooking!

Let’s get cooking! Let’s also ignore the knife mark in the cake. It smelled so good, I almost cut a slice before I took a picture. D’oh.

Almond Citrus Olive Oil Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

ALMOND CITRUS OLIVE OIL CAKE

adapted from Giada De Laurentiis with gratitude and appreciation

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur or Gold Medal)

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1 T. grated orange zest

1/4 cup whole milk

3/4 cup olive oil (I used Texas Olive Ranch Rio Orange Oil)

1/3 cup sliced almonds

Powdered sugar, for dusting

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly brush the inside of a 9″ springform pan with olive oil. Set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

3. In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, beat the sugar, eggs, and orange zest until pale and fluffy. Mine took about 1 1/2 minutes in the stand mixer. Take care not to beat the eggs into stiff peak stage.

4. Slowly beat in the milk.

5. Slowly beat in the olive oil.

6. Slowly add flour mixture until just combined. Scrape batter into prepared pan.

7. Sprinkle sliced almonds on top; place pan onto foil lined baking sheet to catch drips.

8. Bake for approximately 35 minutes, but test for doneness at 30. Cake is finished with a cake tester comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.

9. Remove cake from oven and allow to cool for ten minutes. Carefully remove sides of springform pan and allow to cool an additional 15 minutes. Sift powdered sugar over top of cake, slice, and serve with Strawberry Rose Compote.

 

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Strawberry Rose Compote

  • Servings: 1 pint
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

STRAWBERRY ROSE COMPOTE

*This recipe makes enough to serve alongside the cake. If you’d like to make more, the recipe works well when doubled or tripled.

Ingredients:

1/3 cup of Lovely Rose Sugar, from Spaulding’s Specialty Spices (OR 1/3 cup sugar plus 2 T. culinary rose petals)

2 cups strawberries, frozen (hey! They’re already prepped for ya and always in season!)

1 – 2 T. cornstarch

Directions:

1. In a small pan, combine all ingredients over medium-low heat.

2. Once berries have released juices, bring to a simmer.

3. Stir often, until juices have reduced and mixture is thickened. This takes about 20 minutes or so.

4. Remove from heat, spoon onto a cake plate. Place slice of Citrus Olive Oil Cake on top. Serve immediately.

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Lavender Peach Teacake with Honey Creme Fraiche Whipped Cream

Can't you just smell the peaches?

Can’t you just smell the peaches?

Happy Labor Day weekend!!!!!!

Are you as excited as I am that the holiday weekend is upon us? Aside from a pool party, and the farmer’s market, I  am excited to spend my weekend reading and being lazy.

Pajama Day? Yep.

If you’ve been a reader of my blog, you probably know that I have a love/hate relationship with muffins. Or rather, the baking process of muffins. (Click here for that story.) Well, the muffins won again.

I had planned on selling the Chocolate Olive Oil Zucchini Muffins at the farmer’s market today. But something went wrong. Very, very wrong. I thought the batter looked different. They came out of the oven and looked…bumpy. I decided to just take them home and eat them instead of selling them.

My youngest daughter, who happens to have a love of these particular muffins, grabbed one and took a big bite. She looked at me and said “These taste like dirt.”

EXCUSE ME?!

The other day she told me a hippopotamus bit her during recess, so I take everything she says with a grain of salt. I took a bite and….oh good gravy.

They really did taste like potting soil.

The problem? Master baker *points at self* forgot to put the sugar in the recipe. D’oh! Muffins win again, those jerks.

Muffins are evil, vindictive pastries.

This Lavender Peach Tea Cake is, however, is nice and sweet and lovely. And the Honey Crème Fraiche Whipped Cream? Well, I took one bite and I heard angels singing. I think the Lavender Sugar I used made this extra special.

Spaulding’s Specialty Spices is a local, Dallas/Fort Worth area spice company and the owner grows his own organic herbs. His pest control? DUCKS! How fun is that? They eat the bugs and leave all the good, organic stuff for the rest of us. He sells at local area markets; check his Facebook page for updates and monthly offerings.

Lavender adds a mild, floral note to organic cane sugar.

Lavender adds a mild, floral note to organic cane sugar.

This Tea Cake is a layer of rich, buttery vanilla bean cake (almost a scone-like consistency) spread into the bottom of a 9″ springform pan. If you don’t have a springform, use a 9″ round cake pan lined with parchment paper.

Butter. Vanilla. Heaven.

Butter. Vanilla. Heaven.

Peaches are sliced and arranged in a pinwheel. Feel free to use nectarines or even plums. Then sugar is sprinkled over the top and gets all caramelized in the oven. During the baking process, the lavender infuses a light floral taste into the fruit.

Ready for the oven!

Ready for the oven!

.

Heavy cream is whipped until thickened. Then we add in the creme fraiche and honey and continue until it holds soft peaks.

Almost too pretty to eat...almost.

Almost too pretty to eat…almost.

Lavender Peach Tea Cake with Honey Crème Fraiche Whipped Cream

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup butter, unsalted, and softened

1/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

2 large peaches, sliced thin

2 T. Lavender Sugar or 2 T. granulated sugar or 2 T. granulated sugar plus 2 tsp. culinary lavender

1 cup heavy whipping cream, cold

2 – 3 T. honey (depending on how sweet you want your topping)

2 T. crème fraiche or sour cream

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″ springform pan with butter; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl or stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream together your softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy; about two minutes.

4. Add your egg and vanilla bean paste, and beat until well combined.

5. Add your flour mixture and stir until just combined.

6. Using a spatula, spread the batter evenly into prepared pan. Arrange sliced peaches over top of cake. Top with Lavender sugar (or plain sugar).

7. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until browned and knife inserted into center come out clean.

8. In another bowl, using a hand mixer, whip the cream until just thickened. Add honey and crème fraiche. Continue beating until cream holds soft peaks. Avoid overbeating as the cream will curdle. Serve with tea cake.

 

Delicious! And Dainty.

Delicious! And Dainty.

This cake is best served the day it is made, but it also keeps in the fridge for up to 2 days. The whipped cream can be made ahead and kept in a tightly sealed jar for 2 – 3 days. Serve with a nice Earl Grey tea and enjoy!

Baked Stonefruit with Granola

Roasted Peaches - Final Pic

Granola and balsamic vinegar make for an easy breakfast or light dessert option. Ready in under a half hour!

Yesterday my baking company, Birdcage Bakeshop, participated in the Artisan’s Market held monthly at Williams Sonoma.

I know. (Squeeeeee!)

Navigating the world as a new business owner is exciting.

And terrifying.

Luckily, the sampling went well and I fielded lots of questions on what to do with the granola I was selling.

“Funny you should ask. I am posting a recipe on my recipe blog tomorrow and I’m using my granola!”

Believe me or not, this was not a pre-planned marketing tactic. That’s just way too clever for a simple gal like myself.

The true reason why I happened to be posting a granola-usage recipe?

I enjoy my own product. (and for those of you local to DFW, I will be down at the Dallas Farmer’s Market later this month!)

And I had this one queued for being posted this weekend. Pure coincidence.

I love, love, love summer stone fruits. Peaches, nectarines, even plums (as long as they don’t have too bitter of a skin. Bleck!)

This recipe is uber-versatile: serve it with crème fraiche or yogurt for an easy breakfast or top it straight out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream for an easy dessert.

Your friends will be amazed.

If you are baking more peaches than will be immediately consumed, I recommend storing them in the fridge without any granola. Reheat the fruit and top with the granola right before serving to avoid a soggy topping.

 

High Def Ingredient Pic Peaches

Simple ingredients!

Even Simpler Preparation. Make friends and amaze people with your mad skills.

Even Simpler Preparation. Make friends and amaze people with your mad skills.

Notice how the peach halves are filled with their yummy juiciness?

BAKED STONEFRUIT WITH GRANOLA

written for two servings, but easily doubled, tripled, etc. to accommodate number of guests/appetites

Ingredients:

1 peach (or nectarine) freestone peaches are easiest to halve

1 tsp. unsalted butter

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 T. balsamic vinegar, such as Texas Olive Ranch Peach Balsamic Vinegar

1/2 cup granola

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly butter the bottom of a small baking dish.

2. Wash peach and, using a sharp knife, insert tip of knife into crease of fruit; cut all the way around the fruit. Twist peach halves to separate fruit from pit. Note: freestone peach varieties are easiest for halving. If you happen to find yourself fighting a losing battle with the pit, you can also cut your fruit into wedges and stuff them into a small baking dish following the rest of the recipe directions.

3. Place peach halves onto baking sheet or prepared baking dish, cut side up.

4. Sprinkle each peach half with half measure of cinnamon and balsamic vinegar. Pinch off tiny pieces of butter and dot top of fruit.

5. Bake peaches at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until top of fruit begins to caramelize and the flesh has softened.

6. Remove from oven and top each half with 1/4 cup granola. Serve with yogurt or ice cream for an easy summer breakfast or dessert.

Granola topped Roasted Peaches

What will you top your baked stonefruit with?

 

Espresso Chocolate Almond Pudding

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There are few things in life that tickle my fancy more than coffee and chocolate.

I love desserts of all kinds: lemon, butterscotch, vanilla, really anything.

But there is something about coffee and chocolate that just sends me over the moon.

It had been awhile since I visited my favorite neighborhood store: Green Grocer in Dallas. On Friday, I’d decided that I was long overdue for a visit. I was really hot and I have no air conditioning in my car. I only hope that one of these days my husband will just finally agree to a new car. Mine is paid off and evidently I will be driving it around until the wheels fall off or I have a heat stroke – whichever comes first.

I was craving one of their cold smoothies and was waiting in line when I decided to add on a double shot of espresso to my order. Not to drink right then…I just suddenly decided I would make something for the blog with my favorite coffee. They serve really, really good coffee from a local coffee roaster in Dallas, Noble Coyote Coffee.

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Hey there, lovely.

What I love about Green Grocer is the ability to support several local artisans at once while knowing that everything sold within those four walls is ethically sourced. Noble Coyote Coffee supports fair trade, roasts their own beans, and provides a mighty tasty cup of coffee. Not near Dallas? Order them online here; I promise you will not be disappointed. (I suppose I should state I am not receiving any monies to talk about Green Grocer or Noble Coyote Coffee; I just feel the need to spread the word about good Dallas Companies!)

So….back to coffee and chocolate.

And almond milk.

I buy the best almond milk at Green Grocer:

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Sure, I could make my own almond milk. But this is too good and means I don’t have to soak almonds.

Espresso + Chocolate + Almond Milk = Wuv. Twoo Wuv.

Creamy and sweet with a bold punch of Espresso, this pudding is definitely for the coffee lover. This isn’t your typical chocolate dessert with a hint of coffee. It’s as bold and assertive as the espresso you use, so make sure you brew a cup of your finest espresso. Or, do what I did, and just swing by your local coffee shop and order a double shot. For best taste, allow to cool in the fridge before eating.

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ESPRESSO CHOCOLATE ALMOND PUDDING

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

3 T. cocoa powder

2 T. cornstarch

3/4 cup sugar (Turbinado highly recommended due to its molasses undertones)

pinch of sea salt

1/2 cup brewed espresso

1 1/2 cups unsweetened Almond Milk (or whole milk)

3 egg yolks, lightly beaten

1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

3 T. butter, chopped

Directions:

1. In a medium pot or saucier pan, whisk together your cornstarch, cocoa powder, and sea salt until combined.

2. Turn heat on to medium and add the espresso, almond milk, and egg yolks.  Whisk to combine.

3. Continue whisking while pudding mixture comes just under a low boil over medium heat.

4. Whisk over medium heat for about 7-10 minutes until thickened. Once there are ridges that appear in the top of the pudding when you remove your whisk, your pudding is done.

5. Stir in vanilla extract and butter until combined.

5. Remove pan from heat and immediately pour into serving bowl or individual ramekins. Let cool for a few minutes, then place plastic wrap over serving dishes, ensuring wrap is in direct contact with pudding to avoid the dreaded “pudding skin”. Refrigerate until cool, or overnight for serving the next day.

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Obviously, if you have kids, I highly suggest NOT serving this Espresso Chocolate Almond Pudding to them. If you are looking for a more family friendly chocolate pudding recipe, simply replace the 1/2 cup espresso with an additional 1/2 cup almond milk.

If you are feeling really, really naughty, try adding a half shot of fine bourbon.

For my vegan friends, you can leave out the egg yolks and add in an additional 1 T. cornstarch. It may not set as firm as traditional pudding, but you’ll still have a yummy treat. Sub earth balance for the butter.

Once you’ve made your own pudding, you will wonder why you’re still buying those gross pudding cups from the grocery store. No nasty chemicals here and it is so easy!

Pudding for me. Pudding for you. Pudding for eeeeverybody!!!!