Thursday, August 16, 2012

Roasted Peaches with Vanilla Sauce

Peaches are still plentiful, at least around these parts.  So grab a couple and make this yummy and versatile dessert!  I pretty much guarantee you will love it.  That is, unless you hate fruit, or peaches, or sugar, or vanilla....if you do, then you probably won't like this much at all....  But if you like those things, then you will love it!  :)
 Slice your peaches into eighths or so, and distribute around shallow baking dish.  Pour 1/4 cup water over them, then sprinkle about 1/4 c. of sugar on them and drizzle a splash of vanilla.  Then bake in a 400 degree oven until the peaches are tender or about 13 minutes.  (If you'd like them fall apart bake longer, if you'd like them more firm bake them less.)
 This is them right out of the oven, see all that juicy vanilla-ee goodness in the bottom?  Yum.  You can eat them by themselves OR...
put them in a bowl and top with ice cream!  Yum-O! :)

Roasted Okra

So, since I grew up (and lived the majority of my life) in Colorado, I never really had a chance to eat Okra.  Truth be told, I think the only place you could even get it (in my hometown at least) was at the Bar-b-que Restaurant I happened to work at in high school. I wasn't too keen oin the idea of fried okra I never tried it.  Plus most of the time it was on the buffet line and--let's face it--things are really never at their full potential in those lines.

Then, we moved to the south, and all that changed.  Okra was everywhere, from the grocery stores to farmers markets to just about every stinkin' restaurant.  So, I gave in and tried some once.  Then had to try it again, and just to be sure I gave it fair trial I had it a third, and forth, get it.  I love fried okra!  Crazy huh?  Funny, thing is...I thought I just liked it because it was fried.  I was wrong!  I guess I like the taste of okra itself because when I bought some at the farmers market last weekend and roasted was like a little bit of heaven in my mouth AND tasted almost the same as the fried kind.  Not slimy, not squishy...just perfect okra-ness! Yum!  I can't wait to get more this weekend in fact! :)

Super simple too....
Okra, green or purple
Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Coarse Pepper

Slice up okra into 3/8-1/2 inch pieces.  Toss with Olive Oil, Sea Salt and Coarse Pepper.  Roast (bake) in 425 degree oven for ~8 minutes turning halfway through.  Serve hot, but be careful because they are hot!  And yummy.  :)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Chocolate Swirled Zucchini Bread

I love quick breads, but I bet you already knew that.  They are just what they say they are; quick!  You whip them up in a couple minutes, bake them for a bit and voila in an hour you have a marvelous, delicious and sometimes decadent cakish bread!  :)  Yum.

So, when one of my co-workers had her last day of work yesterday, I wanted to make something for her going away "party" of sorts.  So I thought of swirling some chocolate into my zucchini bread, and boy am I happy I did!  It takes the yum factor up a lot!  I'd experimented with chocolate chip quick breads before but not the swirl.  The swirl not only adds a "wow" factor but also melds together the flavors of the bread and chocolate better than just adding some chips in... or at least in my opinion it does! :)  See for yourself...

 Chocolate Swirled Zucchini Bread: (My zucchini bread with a twist)
1 generous cup of shredded zucchini
2 eggs
1/3 c. shortening
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/3 c. sugar
2 c. flour

2 oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate (Any will do, but if you wouldn't eat it outside of the bread don't use it...could also use unsweetened or milk chocolate if you prefer!:)
optional: 1/4 t. each Cinnamon, Cloves, Allspice 

1.  Mix together shredded zucchini, eggs, shortening, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar until well combined.  Then stir in flour 1/2 c. at a time until combined.  
2.  Slowly melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl in 15 sec. increments--stirring in-between--until smooth and melted.
3.  Pour about half of the zucchini bread batter into a lightly greased 1 lb. loaf pan.  Then spoon the chocolate across the batter.  Gently spoon the rest of the batter over the chocolate layer as pictured below.  Then using a knife or an offset spatula carefully swirl the chocolate around.  Only swirl 3 times or so, unless you want chocolate zucchini bread without a swirl.

 4.  Place in preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
5.  While you can feel free to eat it hot (careful!) or warm, I recommend letting it cool down at room temp, wrapping it up overnight and eating it the next day.
 Ready to slice!
Ready to eat!  Went over very well with my co-workers too!  :)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Nectarine Plum Hand Pies

 What better way to eat pie in the summer than just in the palm of your hand?  These combine the tart and sweet elements of these fruits with sugar and a touch of vanilla wrapped in pie crust to create a masterpiece in your mouth.

What you'll need:
1 Large Plum, diced up (pit free)
1 Large Nectarine, diced (pit free)
2 T. Sugar
1/4 t.  Vanilla
1 Pie crust (homemade, store bought, whatever floats your boat)
1 T. Butter, melted
1 T. Sugar

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl mix together the pieces of plum, nectarine, sugar and vanilla until coated.

2.  Roll out the pie crust into a circle.  Cut the crust pizza style into 8 pieces.  (like slices of pizza or pie)

 3.  Evenly distribute the fruit mixture onto the triangular pieces of pie crust dough.  (~1/8c each) Then gently roll up the hand pies, so they look like the above picture.
4.  Bake on a greased cookie sheet for 8 minutes.  Then take out of the oven and brush the tops with melted butter.  Sprinkle the tops with remaining sugar and bake for about 6-8 more minutes or until golden brown.
5.  Enjoy! Serve them warm or room temperature.  Try with ice cream or on a picnic!  :)
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