……………………………………………………. Baking our mark

Recipe Flash: Frozen Banana Bites June 21, 2012

It’s day number two of nearly 100 degree weather in Philly.  I think this is the worst thing in the world.

Even the flowers don’t like it.

And, with the clarity of a corporate blackberry camera and the photojournalism skills of a writer, I give you a heat tour of my walk from work to home in Philly.

Everyone’s using the fountain as a pool

But no one’s in the park, which is usually overflowing with small children

Which means that no one wants to cook. Or eat anything other than ice for that matter.

The home-made solution to this predicament?

Frozen banana bites

Frozen Banana Bites (idea stolen from BA)

Basically, melt some chocolate with a little bit of oil. (Ratio:  1 cup chocolate to 1 Tbs. vegetable oil)

Dunk in a slice of banana and coat it. Fish it out with a fork and let some of the excess fall off.

Then, roll it around in something that goes well with chocolate and banana (i.e., coconut, oreos, peanuts, skor bits, etc. ).

Put the completed slices onto some parchment paper, then pop them in the freezer for a few hours. (Put them in a sealed container after you’ve frozen them if you intend to store them in the freezer for any length of time.)

…you’ll need more than two…

They taste like summer, but are lovely and cold. Can’t think of anything better for dinner tonight.


Simple Appetizer: Goat-cheese wrapped grapes June 14, 2012

My favorite food group is snacks. I love tasting menus and happy hours and tapas and cocktail hours at weddings. Snack-sized things allow me to taste as many things as possible before I get too full to move.

And, when I headed to a friend’s house after work to look at vacation photos, I had the perfect excuse to make a lovely, simple snack / appetizer (an idea I borrowed from A Daily Something).

Grapes, wrapped in goat cheese, rolled in chopped pecans.

Not only do these involve some of the best parts of a cheese plate, they are also perfect for popping into your mouth whole, which makes you seem lady-like and prevents you from making a mess when you bring these to someone else’s house.

In case you were wondering, getting the goat cheese to stick to the grapes is not difficult; it’s kind of like playing with play-dough. Also, don’t make these too far ahead of time – the nuts will get a little soggy (and you will have a longer period of time to resist eating them all yourself).


Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa November 19, 2011

Yeah, we haven’t posted for a while. We’re busy and hungry and tired and not cooking very many worthwhile new things. M is only eating produce, and I am only eating strange concoctions that I can make in the crockpot and/or freeze and then reheat.

BUT, I made some incredibly delicious salsa to eat on chips, on top of salad, on top of quesadillas, and, well, just on a spoon. You should make some right now. It may be one of the best things you’ve ever done with a sweet potato that didn’t also clog your arteries.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa 

1 sweet potato, peeled and diced small
1 red onion, diced small
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 tomato, diced small
1 avocado, diced small
2 Tbs cilantro, chopped
1 clove roasted garlic, chopped – or 1 Tbs. diced garlic from a jar – or some granulated garlic
1/4 cup lime juice (fresh from 2 limes, or just 1/4 cup)

Roast the sweet potato and the onion for a total of 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Let cool completely. Separately, combine all the other ingredients and blend with the sweet potatoes and onions. Season with salt, garlic, and cumin to taste.

Eat immediately. It lasts ok in the fridge if it’s well-covered, but not for more than two days. (But don’t worry. It just won’t last that long.)


Fall Potluck: Baked Apple Sundaes October 2, 2011

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I have really wonderful friends. Earlier this year, they willingly rated all the dishes at my mac and cheese tasting party. They took pounds of squash off my hands when the squash plant was getting out of control. And they humor my constant desire to be at Tria drinking wine and eating cheese.

This fall was no different. I wanted to have a get together, but didn’t have time to have a dinner party – so they all pitched in for our autumn-themed potluck. Get ready to be jealous of our menu:

Cornbread, made in a skillet that’s been in the family for four generations
Chili, made with the unbelievably delicious DiPaola turkey sausage
Butternut squash gnocchi with sage butter sauce
Roast lamb
Beet and orange salad with hazelnuts
Spinach salad with almonds and cranberries
Ginger carrot soup
Pecan pie

Everything was as wonderful as it sounds. Pretty darn awesome party, I must say.

We also had baked apple sundaes, which are so delicious that you should probably make some right now.

Baked Apple Sundae

Take 1 apple, such as a honey crisp (pick an apple you actually want to eat here, not just a pie apple), per person or per couple, depending on how hungry you are. Using a knife and a spoon (a grapefruit spoon would be perfect here), core the apple, being careful not to pierce the bottom. You should be left with a 1-in. hole in the top, and no core.

Sprinkle the inside with some cinnamon and brown sugar. Adding butter is a nice touch if you’re just making a baked apple, but it’s not necessary in a sundae. Bake the apples inside a glass baking dish at 350 for 40 to 50 minutes. You do not need to grease the pan or add water, as some recipes suggest.

When the apples are done, they will be incredibly warm and soft enough to cut with a spoon, but will still be a little crisp and will maintain their shape.

At this point, using a cookie scoop, scoop vanilla frozen yogurt, or vanilla ice cream, into the apples. B.A. recommended Stonyfield organic…and it was really good, I have to say. Drizzle with caramel (yes, you can make your own, but the smuckers butterscotch caramel ice cream topping is just as delicious).

Easy, and pretty healthy (for a fall dessert, especially).

1 indulgent serving: 263 Calories, 0.4 g fat (no trans fat), 5.8 g fiber


Water Ice Done Right: Watermelon Granita August 1, 2011

In case you haven’t heard, Philly has a crush on water ice. Water ice, for those of you who aren’t in PA and are questioning what other kind of ice Philly could have, is also known as Italian ice.

Anyways, Philly loves water ice like it loves grinders and soft pretzels and Cliff Lee. And I’ll give it to them: water ice is delicious. Every establishment worth its salt right now is selling the stuff – including all the little food carts I pass on my walk.

The advertising coupled with the heat makes me want some all.the.time. (surprising given my crush on ice cream)

But, when you could make granita, why would you buy water ice?

Yeah. Granita. Doesn’t it just sound exotic and delightful? Well, it is. And a watermelon granita is unbelievably easy to make. You just need a little freezer space and a penchant for devouring cold things during hot weather.

Watermelon Granita from B.A.

4 cups seedless watermelon, cubed (you 4 lb of melon with rind to get 4 cups of usable fruit)
1/3-1/2 cup sugar, depending on the sweetness of your melon
1 Tbs. lime juice (in a pinch, lemon is ok)

Puree everything in a blender, then pour it out onto a rimmed baking dish (9x9x2) and toss it in the freezer on an even surface. (It’s worth having to play freezer Twister to get it in there.)

After an hour, stir it up, mashing the frozen parts with the back of  a fork. After two more hours in the freezer, use a fork to scrape it up so you form icy flakes. If you’re not eating it immediately, be sure to scrape it up again before you serve it.

Watch out – it’s unbelievably refreshing.


Summer Crostini – Four Variations July 13, 2011

The way to trick people into eating whatever weird flavor combination you feel like is to serve everything in small pieces, hence why I love tasting dishes. It’s also the reason that I currently love crostini.

At a recent brunch, I got to make 4 different kinds – both sweeter and more savory, which made for a nice brunch combo.

People ate all of them.

I’d recommend these at all hours. (Also, the basic ingredients needed are portable enough you can assemble and eat them at work.) Put some together immediately.

These ingredient recipes are written as they are assembled, from bottom to top.

Peach and Proscuitto Crostini

Sliced baguette
Ripe peach slices
Strips of prosciutto (stays on best when wrapped around the peach slice)
Freshly ground black pepper
Drizzle of honey

Thyme Apple Crostini

Sliced whole wheat or rye baguette/small pieces of bread
Gruyere (preferably melted on top of the bread in the broiler)
Fresh thyme leaves
Apple slices

Goat Cheese and Tomato Crostini

Sliced baguette
Goat cheese (do not buy the pre-crumbled kind – you need to be able to spread this)
Fresh basil leaves
Sliced sundried tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper

Pear Walnut Crostini

Sliced whole wheat baguette
Pear slices
Large walnut pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
Drizzle of honey


Zebra Popcorn July 5, 2011

Filed under: Dessert,Snack — Michelle Jackson @ 10:00 am
Tags: , , , , ,

I used to babysit for a kid who loved making this snack, and I sort of forgot about it until now.  That little girl is probably 18 years old by now, but let’s not talk about that.  Zebra popcorn (which apparently is an actual thing, and not just some kiddie fantasy) is popcorn drizzled with chocolate to give it a striped look and salty-sweet taste. The next time you’re craving something super sweet and super filling (without being a dead weight on the calorie scale), I highly recommend this. Plus, start to finish, it only takes 5 minutes to make.

Here is my low-budget version:

1 packet of kettle corn style microwaveable popcorn, popped

1 cup milk chocolate chips

1/2 cup peanut butter

Melt the chocolate chips in a medium-sized bowl in the microwave for about 30 seconds, stir. Continue melting for about 20 seconds, or until the chips become fully melted and a spreadable consistency. Stir in the peanut butter and set aside. Microwave the popcorn according to package directions (I used the popcorn button on our microwave. Love that thing.) Place popcorn in a large bowl and drizzle melted chocolate/peanut butter mixture over  it with a spoon. Serve immediately, or let sit for a few minutes to let the chocolate harden.