Category: Desserts

Fourth of July Desserts: My Berry Best

Fourth of July Desserts: My Berry Best

Homemade Frozen Yogurt with Strawberries and Blueberries

It came without warning. All of a sudden it was the end of June. It was nearly the 4th of July. Dave and I were both off by about a week and had no idea why. This man’s birthday is July 3 and yesterday he said to me, when I asked about a birthday dinner reservation, “What? Is my birthday this weekend??” Why, yes it is!

In the meantime, I’d been working on a risotto post for the blog. Having a fun old time making the risotto, finding the dishes, taking the photos, writing the text and recipe and so on. Except I had nothing for the immediate holiday. Necessity is the mother of disaster sometimes, but hopefully not here. (Watch this space for the risotto love coming up next week or maybe even the week after.)

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WHAT’S FOR DINNER?  Solved for the Whole Summer!!

WHAT’S FOR DINNER? Solved for the Whole Summer!!

SUMMER WEEKNIGHT MEAL PLANNING IS DONE. MAKE THESE 20 FUN RECIPES 3X EACH. Print them, along with a shopping list, place in a 3-ring binder or save them to a word file so you know just where they are for the next couple of months. Then make them again…and again!

Tired of trying to figure out what’s for dinner on any given night in June, July, or August? The summer struggle is real even if you sometimes take the time to write down the week’s menu and make a grocery list. Cooking at home for yourself, friends, or a family is a big commitment, but it’s also a wonderful thing to do to focus on health and togetherness; improve the use of your time; and rein in that food budget. Here’s a post highlighting 20 fun, MORE TIME AT THE TABLE lighter/easier recipes you can make over and over again — or with variations. I had an awful time choosing between so many yummy dinners and had to leave out things like Shrimp Ratatouille and BBQ Chicken Grilled Veggie Stack — next time, right? You can be sure your planning, shopping, prep, and cooking will become simpler/faster as you become better acquainted with each meal. Just click on RECIPE HERE to take you to the post, then scroll down to the recipe (there is sometimes a “jump to recipe” button) and print. Do throw in a COOK’S OFF! night every now and then so you can order pizza, go out, or let someone else make eggs and toast when you’re tired. If you like, make a big batch soup or extra chicken breasts once a week you can then also use for lunch. After the recipes, I’ve included some seasonal desserts, meal-planning basic information, cooking with kids ideas, and a few great links to get you going. So choose your favorites, make that grocery list (keep it on your phone from month to month?), and then it’s time to get busy with happy summer cooking!

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Rhubarb Clafoutis

Rhubarb Clafoutis

While this sweet might be among the more difficult dessert names to pronounce, it’s also the simplest to make and make well. Clafoutis (clah-FOO-tee) —and yes, I must keep remembering it’s a singular noun! — is a much-loved and often-baked traditional French dessert that is a cross between a custard and a cake, but easier and faster to make than either one. When cherries (or raspberries, blueberries…) are in season and hence plentiful-cheap, the oven is heated along with a cast iron pan (can also use a casserole), a quick batter is whirred together in the food processor, blender, or by hand and poured right into that the pan. The fruit gets distributed on top and into a HOT oven it all goes for just a half hour or so. And there’s dessert, friends. At first it’s all hot and puffy golden brown if you like it that way (think Dutch Baby), but soon it calms and cools down and is just as good, if a tad deflated. Cold for breakfast the next morning? Of course. Bien sur!

How to pronounce CLAFOUTIS (Listen up!)

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Frozen Bailey’s Mochaccino

Frozen Bailey’s Mochaccino

For some believers, Christmas only begins December 25. I’m one of those or rather, I work at it. The world often conspires against me, I think. Still, the tree stays up until the Wise People arrive on January 6 (Epiphany) and you can bet there are still Christmas movies for husband Dave and me to watch until then. (We still have “Christmas with the Kranks,” “Christmas in Connecticut,” and “Fred Claus” — at least — to go.) So while other folks have frozen their hambones and relegated the Christmas lights to the dusty garage attic, there is still a (no longer quite so fresh) plate of cookies on the counter, holiday candles lit nightly, and we are committed to enjoying it all for a few more days. As one of my favorite cook-writers Dorie Greenspan said in yesterday’s NYTimes Magazine, introducing her recipe for Mulling-Spice Cake with Cream-Cheese Frosting, “Like most people, I’m sad this year.” I get it. Me, too. I was so glad for Christmas to come along in the midst of all the angst and division and fear — even if it arrived without all the regular bells and whistles. I guess I want it to last as long as it can. For there to be candy canes, inflatable Santas, cheese spread with crackers, and carols booming for just a bit more time. To look out on my deck and still see the colored lights if I wander up in the middle of the night…

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KIDS COOK FOR LABOR DAY: Blueberry-Peach Crisp

KIDS COOK FOR LABOR DAY: Blueberry-Peach Crisp

If you live in Colorado, the weather is often the topic of conversation. Like now. The rest of the country is looking forward to a warm Labor Day holiday weekend and, while we in Colorado are sort of doing the same, we also have our eyes stuck on the forecast for Monday night and Tuesday:

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Ginger-Peach Melba Cobbler

Ginger-Peach Melba Cobbler

Colorado peaches are coming on, but there aren’t too many this year due to an early freeze. Keep a close eye out!

Typically “peaches” and “melba” and “ginger” don’t belong together in one recipe title because melba indicates peaches with raspberry sauce and vanilla cream of some sort (in other words: no ginger anywhere there) — said dessert named for the famous late 19th-early 20th century opera singer, Australian Dame Nellie Melba. Perhaps you don’t care one way or another. Or, on the other hand, you might remember her from DOWNTON ABBEY days if you were both a Downton and an opera fan:

On Sunday, U.S. Downton Abbey fans were served a double dose of divas — one from the present and one from the distant past. Viewers may have recognized Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, the creamy-voiced soprano whose radiant beauty graced the world’s top opera houses from the 1970s through ’90s. But far fewer probably know about Dame Nellie Melba, the Australian-born superstar Te Kanawa portrayed in the episode. Even some opera buffs may have forgotten Melba. But in her day she was colossal, an artist who dominated European and American music for a period, one so adored that Melba toast and Peach Melba were created in her name by famed chef Auguste Escoffier.

NPR, Jan. 17, 2014
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Peach Dream Ice Cream

Peach Dream Ice Cream

…a little like a peach and a little like a dreamsicle…

I never make peach ice cream that I don’t think of my friend Sue. I can’t remember all of the details or the occasion, but she once upon a time made a whole big mess of peach ice cream with her dear buddy, Father John Reedy, long-time much-loved editor at Ave Maria Press at Notre Dame University. Somehow no one got the memo and so there were no takers for dessert. The two were left with more ice cream than you could wave a scoop at. Needless to say, I don’t see Sue eating a ton of peach ice cream these days.

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Blueberry Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches with Strawberry and Chocolate Sauces

Blueberry Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches with Strawberry and Chocolate Sauces

In the house where I grew up in a Chicago suburb that was situated so far south that its streets ended exactly where the tall, green and golden midwestern cornfields began, the best treasures were often in the big freezer out in the utility room. Last summer’s fish from vacations in Minnesota or Wisconsin (cleaned by yours truly), stored in tubs of water, were frozen forever just as they were…or at least until the next weekend’s fish fry. Small cartons of peaches –the ones that came in after the canning was done–might be on the door for mid-winter dessert or for topping the homemade ice cream we all took turns cranking early the following summer. The thing you really had to search for, though, as they were well-hidden from my Dad, me, and all the grandkids (you know who you are), were ice cream sandwiches made from Mom’s leftover waffles. Now I don’t know how there were ever leftover waffles, but there were. And somehow my mom managed to press vanilla ice cream between a couple of them, wrap them tightly, and hide them well until they were badly needed. You get it, right? When your whole adolescent world was falling apart or the Chicago weather had turned frightening…

Jump to Recipe

“How about an ice cream sandwich?”

asked my mom…
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Strawberry-Rhubarb Shortcake

Strawberry-Rhubarb Shortcake

Rhubarb pie — not to be confused with strawberry-rhubarb pie — is probably my husband’s favorite dessert. This isn’t to say he won’t eat every bit of a strawberry-rhubarb, or even a Blueberry-Rhubarb Crisp (see below), but just that plain rhubarb pie is it. There are years when due to a move or gardening delays, there is no rhubarb in our garden or yard. I’m then reduced to begging from friends, who immediately know why I’m calling come spring. I also haunt the local grocery produce section where rhubarb does indeed appear but also disappears mysteriously…and not always when you need it. “Oh, sorry! It’s all gone. You know we get produce in every single night. Try again in the morning!” Rats.

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Whipped Cream-Filled Brownie Cupcakes

Whipped Cream-Filled Brownie Cupcakes

For as long as I’ve had my own kitchen, I’ve been making scratch brownies out of the 1971 BETTY CROCKER COOKBOOK. People say things like this, “That’s the best brownie I’ve ever eaten in my whole life.” And you know why? It’s not because I’m the best brownie baker or Betty’s the top of the recipe developers, it’s because most folks are used to boxed mix brownies made with cocoa instead of luscious whole bars of melted chocolate. You know, brownies are nothing but fudge on steroids. Think of them as fudge with flour… and eggs… … and sometimes a little leavening. But unless you make scratch brownies, you don’t know that.

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