I have blogged this delicious spread before, but I have decided it deserves its own post. After all, I’ve made it three times now, and everyone that has tasted it has raved about it … and I keep missing it when it’s gone and having to make more.
I hope you will zip over to my new site for the recipe … and while you are there, make sure to enter your email address in the right sidebar and click the “Get Recipes by Email” button. Eventually I won’t be posting over here anymore and I would really really hate to lose you …
The other day I could feel my body needed something packed full of good nutrients and protein … I didn’t have much time to cook, so I quickly whipped up this delicious smoothie. I like how the kiwi adds a little “zing” to the taste, along with being a nutrient powerhouse. According to a study at Rutgers University, the kiwi is the most nutrient dense fruit, ounce for ounce. It’s high in vitamin C and one study showed that eating 2-3 kiwi fruits a day can reduce the potential for blood clots and decrease triglycerides. Yet another study cited the kiwi’s ability to protect and repair the body from DNA damage, which could protect against cancer. (Source: Super Kids Nutrition)
All of that, plus it makes a really yummy smoothie.
Strawberry Banana Kiwi Smoothie
- 2 small kiwi fruit
- 1/2 cup frozen strawberries
- 1/2 of a frozen banana
- 3/4 cup vanilla yogurt
- 1/4 cup lowfat milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- A few fresh mint leaves
Cut the kiwi in half and scoop out the fruit from the fuzzy skin. Put the flesh of the kiwi along with the rest of the ingredients in your blender and blend everything till smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy!
Whoever coined the term “plain vanilla” really just didn’t know what they were talking about. As The Pastry Chef Online said when we were having our ‘V is for Vanilla’ day, “Vanilla is complex and sophisticated and wonderful.” It is! Vanilla is one of those subtle but wonderful flavors that just enhances everything it touches.
When we were up at my mom and dad’s for the 50th wedding anniversary party, everyone was asking for ice cream. My dad got out his ice cream maker (he has one of those Cuisinart ice cream makers, but he bought TWO of the freezer inserts) and he made this vanilla ice cream and people were coming back for seconds and thirds. He didn’t give me his precise recipe and he didn’t write it down … I had to guess at it a little, but I think this is pretty close. It’s a simple formula with just a few ingredients, but it tastes so fresh and wonderful. Dad has a way of making the simplest things taste marvelous.
At my house, vanilla is a celebrated ingredient. We use it so much that we buy Mexican vanilla extract by the quart. And vanilla ice cream is just one of those essential things you simply MUST have in your freezer. I have been struggling to come up with a really good homemade vanilla ice cream recipe and I think it’s because I was very reluctant to allow any fat into my ice cream. But for a good creamy vanilla … one that doesn’t go all rock hard and crystallize on you when you put it in the freezer, I think you really need a little milkfat. This is still much lower in fat than most ice creams you’ll find at the store, and it tastes so much fresher. Not to mention it’s SO simple! No cooking, no waiting … just blend together the ingredients and pop them in your ice cream maker.
Dad’s Fresh & Simple Vanilla Ice Cream
You will want to eat this lovely ice cream all by itself, with no toppings, no cake, no drizzles. Don’t get me wrong … I’m sure it would be fine with those things as well and I do intend to try all of that, but first let’s stop and savor the complex, sophisticated and fresh wonderful taste of real vanilla ice cream.
- 2 cups fat free half & half
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 3/8 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons good quality vanilla extract
- A pinch of salt (optional)
Blend all the ingredients together in a blender or whisk them together in a bowl, making sure the sugar is completely dissolved. Freeze in an ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer’s directions. Enjoy immediately or stick it in the freezer for a couple hours if you want a firmer ice cream.
This recipe was shared at Share it Saturday.
My dad loves cantaloupe. He loves it so much that one time he even built a “cantaloupe accelerator” so that his cantaloupe plants would start producing fruit earlier in the season. He doesn’t do the “accelerator” anymore, but he still grows cantaloupe every year, and he has perfected the art of growing them to the point where eating cantaloupe from dad’s garden is almost a spiritual experience. It is the sweetest, most flavorful cantaloupe you have ever tasted …
So we went to visit my parents the other weekend and his cantaloupe are ripe (but he’s having trouble with the gophers eating them … can you blame them for wanting a bite?) He mentioned to me that he and mom have been blending up the cantaloupe with some yogurt and drinking it just like that. I said to him “you mean like a lassi?” … well, he didn’t know it was called a lassi; he just knew he liked blending his cantaloupe with yogurt.
For those of you who don’t know, a Lassi is a drink made with yogurt. It is common in India and Pakastan. I was most familiar with the Mango Lassi which is a blended mango drink with yogurt, but I did a little research and discovered there are many ways to make a lassi: some are spiced and savory, some are fruity and sweet, but all of them are made with yogurt.
Anyway, my dad gave me some cantaloupe to bring home, so I had to try making his Cantaloupe Lassi. I added vanilla because I just love vanilla so much. I also froze some of the cantaloupe chunks to make it extra cold and smooth, almost like a milkshake. My dad is right (as usual!) … a Cantaloupe Lassi is truly a wonderful thing. It’s healthy, it’s cold, it’s quick, it’s easy, but most importantly: it’s delicious!
Cantaloupe Lassi with Vanilla
- 1/2 cup fresh cantaloupe chunks
- 1/2 cup frozen cantaloupe chunks
- 1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt … I have tried both plain (with no sweetener) and vanilla yogurt … I think I like the vanilla better, but they were both really good!
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth. Pour and drink!
Here’s another delicious variation …
Maple Mint Cantaloupe Lassi
- 1/2 cup fresh cantaloupe chunks
- 1/2 cup frozen cantaloupe chunks
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
- Several fresh mint leaves
Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth. Pour and drink!
Do you want to hear the story of the refrigerator and the caramel rolls, how I gained a great appreciation for towels, teflon tape and good neighbors … and how this bread pudding came to be?
It all started when my sister and her husband came to visit. The ice machine in my refrigerator has been broken for some time. We’ve been making do with ice cube trays, which was a little frustrating at times because we’d be spilling water on the floor and sometimes it was kinda hard to get the ice cubes out of the tray, but it wasn’t a terribly big deal to us. However, ice is important to my sister. She mentioned to her husband that perhaps he ought to fix the ice maker in my refrigerator. So he set out to do that. We pulled the refrigerator out of his spot, he started cleaning and investigating and finding all sorts of strange things in the grate and around the back of the fridge, some from the previous owner of the house even. He figured out what was wrong, but then he needed a part to fix it. He started calling all the local repair shops and nobody had the right part.
So we ordered the part online, he put the fridge back together and we pushed it back into place. No big deal, right? Except now the water dispenser in the door (which didn’t work before he started) was leaking. We put a cup under it and went about our business. A few days later after my sis and her husband were gone, it started leaking faster. Like the cup would be full in an hour! You can’t really fit a bucket under there, and the part wasn’t here yet, so my kids and I rigged up a system with a piece of an old hose, some duck tape and a bucket. Then you could actually go to sleep at night and let the thing drip. It was ugly and awkward, but it worked. Then the part finally arrived, but it was days before I could get to fixing it.
Now, I’m not a fix-it kind of person. Anytime I have to do a fix-it project I get terribly nervous, but I got my son to help me move the fridge, we shut the water off, and we set to work to put this new part in. It was going pretty good, I got the part in, tightened it up, but left the fridge out so I could observe it for a while after we turned the water on. It was dripping. Oh dear. I tried tightening it. It dripped faster. I got more towels and turned the water off. My son tried tightening it. No luck. He went downstairs all frustrated and I sat down and cried. Then I started looking for the phone number for the plumber. But then it dawned on me that my neighbor might be able to help. He was outside working on his van when I ventured over there … sure, he would look at it. He told his son to grab the teflon tape and the two of them came over to look at my fridge. It wasn’t even 15 minutes before they’d fixed it. No leak! YAY! And the ice maker works! No water will come out of the dispenser that was leaking like crazy before, but I’m okay with that.
I felt a moment of great gratitude for good neighbors, towels, and teflon tape.
The next morning I woke up determined to do something nice for my neighbor. I set about making some freshly baked peach caramel rolls, sure that that would be the perfect treat for him and his family on a Sunday morning. But when I finished the rolls, my neighbors were nowhere to be found. They weren’t around all day, in fact, and by the next morning, the peach caramel rolls that had looked so delicious the day before didn’t look so appetizing. They still tasted good if you warmed them up first, but they weren’t very pretty and I was NOT going to give my neighbor an ugly treat.
So I made the caramel rolls into bread pudding. I dare say, this bread pudding was even better than the rolls and it made for lovely breakfasts for me for several days … and even served as breakfast over the weekend at my parents’ place. This is the view from the dock at my parents’ place …
Caramel Peach Bread Pudding
Maybe you don’t have a big plate of caramel rolls sitting around, so I’ll give you two variations of the recipe here: one made with old caramel rolls, and another similar bread pudding made with bread and peaches.
- 6 cups of old caramel rolls, cut into 1-inch chunks (it’s ok if they are a little stale or dry)
- 2 cups milk
- 5 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 cups peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped (if you’re using my peach caramel rolls, cut the amount of added fruit to 2 1/2 cups)
- Sliced almonds & raw sugar, for the top
- Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. Put the chopped caramel rolls in the casserole dish. Pour the milk over the rolls and let the cubes bask in their milk bath for about 15 minutes, tossing gently every once in a while to give all the rolls a chance to soak.
- In a bowl, whisk the eggs till they are a little fluffy, then add the vanilla, nutmeg and salt and whisk till everything is well blended. Mix the peaches into the egg mixture.
- Fold the fruit into the soaked caramel rolls. Top with almonds and sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of raw (turbinado) sugar.
- Bake at 350 degrees F. for about an hour or until the pudding is set.
Variation using bread: Substitute 6 cups of bread cubes for the caramel rolls. You can use any kind of bread … I think whole wheat adds a nice texture. Add 1 cup of brown sugar + 2 Tablespoons melted butter to the egg mixture.
Last week my aunt from Florida came to visit. I don’t know how many stops she had planned on her trip, but one of them was to visit my parents … I suspected she would go see mom, but I didn’t really know until it was my turn to see my aunt.
My daughter and I drove down to meet my aunt and her artist friend for dinner. It was then that my aunt told us she had been to my parents’ place and my dad had made this green tomato cake for dessert … what?!? … my dad made a green tomato cake?! What the … ?
I thought it sounded really odd, and then when we went to see my parents this weekend, dad mentioned his green tomato cake. Mom said that it was more like a bar than a cake and Dad said the recipe he used just had too much green tomato in it. I could see the wheels turning in his head … I asked him to tell me about this green tomato cake … and he had already figured out how to make it better. I looked him in the eye and said “let’s make a cake!” … and so my dad and I set to work making a green tomato cake.
We started with our favorite carrot cake recipe, which is from The Jack Daniel’s Cookbook, but by the time we finished, I don’t think you’d even recognize the original recipe. Nonetheless, my dad was totally right (he usually is) … the cake turned out absolutely amazing. Both dad and I had two pieces of it for dessert after brunch (I NEVER have two pieces of cake …) and then later, on my way home, I brought some to my friend and had another piece of cake with her. Three pieces of cake in one day. This is totally a record for me. I’m not a cake person (unless it’s like some kind of of amazing decadent chocolate cake), and this cake isn’t even chocolate! … but it is SO worth it. The tart green tomatoes taste so much better than carrots in this (kinda pretty awesomely healthy) moist and flavorful cake.
The green tomatoes came from mom and dad’s garden. They fell off the vines while Mom was trimming the tomato plants. There was a whole bucket full of them. Their tomato plants are just thick with fruit … there will be LOADS of tomatoes this year. Only a few are ripe yet; the rest are yet to come.
My very favorite part of the day? I got to cook with my dad. The big bonus was that it turned out to be something totally jaw-dropping awesome.
Whiskey Green Tomato Cake
Highly Adapted from The Jack Daniels Spirit of Tennessee Cookbook
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup whiskey
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2/3 cup applesauce
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups chopped green tomatoes (about 2 large green tomatoes)
- 3/4 cup walnuts
- 2 Tablespoons butter, softened
- 2 oz. light cream cheese, softened
- 4 oz. powdered sugar
- 1 Tablespoon whiskey
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the raisins in a cup with the 1/4 cup of whiskey to plump them up.
- In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients, then make a well in the center and add in the wet ingredients. Whisk up the eggs and other wet ingredients together, then stir to incorporate them into the batter. Add the raisins & whiskey, green tomatoes and walnuts and stir just until everything is mixed up well.
- Pour the cake batter into a 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan and bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- While the cake is cooling, make the frosting by mixing the butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and whiskey until smooth. Let the cake cool, then frost it with the Heavenly Frosting.
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Since my first baked oatmeal turned out so good, I wanted to try another version. I meant to make this one banana pecan, but once I got into the kitchen, well, I couldn’t help but add chocolate. In the end, I’m glad I did … this oatmeal is SO deep dark chocolate decadent. I almost want to try making it again without the banana … or maybe use berries instead? Yeah, it’ll happen.
This could be breakfast or dessert. Mid-afternoon snack. After dinner treat. Whenever you eat it, it’s delightful.
Chocolate Banana Pecan Baked Oatmeal
- 3 very ripe bananas
- 1 cup (100g) old fashioned oats (not instant oats)
- 1/3 cup (30g) pecans, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup (60g) brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 Tablespoons unsweetened quality dark cocoa powder (such as Ghirardelli)
- 1 cup (250ml) milk
- 2 Tablespoons of Chocolate Chia Pudding or 1 large egg white
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 Tablespoon Frangelico (optional)
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons pecans
- 1/2 Tablespoon or so of raw (Turbinado) sugar
- A few chocolate chips
- A few banana slices
- Pre-heat the oven to 375 F. Spray a small casserole dish or 8×8 inch square baking dish with cooking spray and make a layer of banana slices on the bottom.
- In a small mixing bowl, mix together the oats, chopped pecans, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Sprinkle half the oat mixture over the bananas, then add another layer of bananas and cover with the remaining oats.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, chia pudding (or egg white), vanilla, and Frangelico. Pour this liquid mixture over the oats, trying to coat all the oats with liquid. Sprinkle the top with the toppings, then set in the oven.
- Bake for 40 minutes or until the dish has set. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.