Thursday, July 23, 2015

Peaches for breakfast

Before the peach ice cream happened, I made this delicious peach breakfast for my husband.  The girls don't love cooked fruit (even apple pie, much to my husband's dismay) so they weren't big fans but that meant more for us!  This is like a "dutch baby" or dutch pancake recipe and is really easy to pull together.  Other kinds of fresh fruit would probably work as well but the peach was delightful.

Peach Oven Pancake (serves 4-6)

2 T unsalted butter
1 cup peach slices (peeled)
4 eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 T sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place butter in a 10 or 11 inch cast iron or oven proof skillet and place the skillet in the oven until the butter is melted.

Remove pan from the oven and place sliced peaches in a single layer in the pan.

Prepare the batter by placing the eggs, flour, sugar, vanilla, and milk in a blender and blending until smooth.  Pour the batter into the skillet over the peaches.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until pancake is puffed and golden brown.  Cut into slices and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Serve with maple syrup on the side.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Woodranch Copycat Coleslaw

I love how you can find online "copycat" recipes of restaurant favorites.  They're not always accurate or as good, but this coleslaw recipe was a hit.  I served it with the chicken fajita stuffed peppers and I found out that Little LOVES coleslaw.  She'll eat and eat it - for breakfast, lunch, whatever.  She and I fought over the leftovers of this recipe (well, I was so proud of her for eating cabbage that I let her win).

Woodranch Coleslaw (6 side dish servings)

1 (16oz) package refrigerated coleslaw (with carrots)
1.5 cups shredded red cabbage
3/4 cup finely sliced celery
1/3 cup chopped green onion
1/3 c. red wine vinegar
1 T water
1 T sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/3 c. vegetable oil
pepper to taste
1 cup dry roasted peanuts.

In a large bowl, combine all vegetables.  In a small bowl, whisk together everything else except the peanuts.  Toss the cabbage mixture with the dressing.  Refrigerate until serving.  Sprinkle with peanuts and toss again when you're ready to serve.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


It's July!  So hard to believe that a month of summer vacation is already gone.  We've been having a blast.  Here are some photos from our 4th of July weekend:

One of the summer treats we have all been enjoying is fresh peaches.  We've been eating loads of them every week and I finally got around to making peach ice cream.  It's not a true custard (no eggs or heavy cream) but it was creamy and delicious.

Peach Ice Cream (makes 1.5 quarts)

1.5 lbs ripe peaches
1/2-2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1.5 T fresh lemon juice
2 cups half and half

Your ingredients all need to be cold to go into the ice cream maker.  You can either peel and chop the peaches and refrigerate until cold, or you can make the ice cream custard and refrigerate it all together.

Peel and chop peaches.  Place 2/3 of the peaches in a blender with the vanilla, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and 1/4 - 1/3 cup sugar (depending on the sweetness of the peaches and your own taste preferences).  Blend until smooth.  Add the half and half.

Take the other 1/3 of your peaches and add another 1/4-1/3 cup sugar and 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice.  Mash them up (I used a potato masher).

Put the mixture from the blender into the freezer bowl of your ice cream maker.  Stir in the mashed peaches.  Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Chicken Fajita Stuffed Peppers

I love making different kinds of stuffed peppers but my husband and kids aren't always fans.  Recently, I came up with the idea of doing fajitas this way - bell peppers are part of fajitas and it seemed like  a natural combination.  For those of you with negative associations with stuffed peppers bear with me - I also made stuffed chiles.  One of our favorite restaurants in Pasadena is Cafe Verde and they have these amazing stuffed pasilla chiles on their menu and I've also wanted to recreate those for awhile.  As you can see below, I started with half peppers, and half chiles.  I think the key to getting the filling warmed through is to cut the peppers like the chiles - lengthwise instead of just cutting the top off.  When you pick your peppers and chiles at the store, you want to look for ones that seem like they'll lay flat and have a good concave opening for stuffing.

Since this was an original recipe and the first time I made it, the amounts of ingredients are approximate.  If it looks too rice-y or not chees-y enough, add ingredients as you like.  I used the Near East Spanish Rice (it's GF) and a packet of fajita seasoning from Sprouts.  The Lawry's packet or the Border Grill sauces will work fine too.  If you don't like cilantro with your fajitas, you can leave it out.  To make sure your chiles aren't too spicy, remove the seeds and membranes.

Chicken Fajita Stuffed Peppers (serves 4)

4 bell peppers or pasilla (Anaheim or Poblano) chiles (or a combination)
1 lb chicken breast tenders
Fajita seasoning for chicken
1-2 cups Spanish Rice (cooked and prepared according to package)
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1-2 cups shredded cheese (I used a mexican blend - cheddar or jack would work fine)
Salsa, guacamole, sour cream (optional - for serving)

Preheat oven to 375.  Cut your peppers and/or chiles in half lengthwise (from the stem to the base) and remove seeds and membranes.  Place open side up in a lightly oiled baking pan (or two) without crowding the pan. 

In a large skillet, cook chicken breast tenders over medium heat with the fajita seasoning (look at instructions on the seasoning packet - you may need to add olive oil or a little water).  Once it's just cooked through, remove from skillet and dice.  Set aside.  Prepare your spanish rice and also set aside.

Stir together cooked chicken, 1-2 cups cooked rice, onion, cilantro, and 1 cup of cheese.  Spoon filling into the peppers, not packing too tightly and not heaping too high.  Top each pepper with more cheese.  

Pour about an inch of hot, boiling water in the bottom of your pans and cover the pans with foil. The steam will help to soften the chiles / peppers.  Bake at 375 for 25-35 minutes, uncovering the last 10 minutes to make sure the cheese is melted.  Serve with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream for topping.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Summer so far . . .

For weeks, Middle has been very concerned that it's not actually summer yet and she was so excited to learn that today is the summer solstice and technically the season of summer has begun.  Despite that, we've been on summer vacation from school for 2 weeks and have filled them with some local adventures.

A visit to the CA Science Center

S'Mores and a poolside movie

Wonderful tea at Chado Pasadena with a friend (and no kids!)

Our first visit to SkyZone in Covina

Picnic lunch

Floating in the pool and new pool toys

First week of Tennis & Mini Camp

I have never made cheesecake with great success but last week I attempted it again for a friend's birthday and hit upon a recipe that I really liked.  It's light and not too heavy and the lime flavor is more subtle.  A traditional graham cracker crust would work fine too but I thought the vanilla almond one here was delicious.  It takes some time so plan ahead - I put the cream cheese and eggs on the counter the night before and made it in the morning to serve the following day.  Juicing key limes can be a little tedious - I really like the "Nellie and Joe's Famous Key Lime Juice" which is just the juice and can be found at major grocery stores.

Key Lime Cheesecake (12 servings)
adapted from Bon Appetit May '06

1.5 cups finely ground Nilla wafers
1.5 cups finely ground almonds (almond flour)
1/4 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. melted butter

3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 c. sour cream
3/4 c. sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup fresh key lime juice
2 tsp. finely grated key lime peel
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 inch springform pan with cooking spray (or butter).  Place 3 large sheets of heavy-duty foil on the work surface.  Place the pan in the center and wrap foil snugly around the side of the pan.  

With a fork, mix together the first 4 ingredients until well combined.  Press in the bottom and about an inch up the side of the prepared pan.  I used a measuring cup to press it down evenly.  Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth.  Beat in sour cream, then sugar.  Beat in eggs 1 at a time, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Beat in lime juice, lime peel, and vanilla.  Pour bater over the crust.  

Place the wrapped cheesecake in a large roasting pan.  Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the pan.  Cover the cheesecake pan (not the roasting pan) loosely with foil.  Place the roasting pan with the covered cheesecake in it (carefully!) into the oven.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Uncover and continue to bake until just set in the center when the cake pan is gently shaken, about 15-20 minutes more.  Turn oven off and open the door and let it cool for about 20 minutes.  Remove to counter (taking pan out of water bath) and cool for 30 minutes more.  Place uncovered in the refrigerator and chill overnight.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Strawberry Shortcake Skewers

So, this is the second new recipe I made for the flip flop party.  I saw these on Pinterest (where else?) and, like the pancake pops last year, thought, "Of course I can do that!"  They weren't as pretty as the Pinterest photo and a little messy to assemble, but I was happy with the end result and they were really tasty.  And let's face it - everything is more fun on a stick! I can imagine these being fun for a tea party or a summer dessert in addition to serving them at brunch.

A couple of notes:  I used the lollipop / cake pop sticks from Wilton instead of wooden skewers but I think either would be fine.  I made the biscuit rounds the day before and sealed them in an airtight container and they were fine the next day.

Strawberry Shortcake Skewers (makes about 20)

2 cans of biscuit dough (I used both Pillsbury & Trader Joes)
1 egg white
20+ strawberries
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 jar marshmallow fluff
3 T sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  On a lightly floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll a biscuit into a 5 inch circles.  Use a round cutter (mine was a biscuit cutter about 2 inches across) and cut out as many circles as you can get before re-rolling the dough (I set aside scraps until I had enough to make another circle).

Whisk together the egg white and water.  Brush on each biscuit and sprinkle with a little sugar.  Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown.

While the biscuits are baking, prepare the strawberries.  Cut two 1/2 inch slices from each strawberry.  I cut the top and bottom off and then cut the strawberry crosswise to make rounds.  

Once the biscuits are baked, transfer to a cooling rack and cool completely before assembling the skewers.  

For the cream, use a stand mixer with a whisk attachment and combine the heavy cream and sugar and beat until firm peaks form.  Add half a jar of marshmallow fluff until just combined.  

Assemble the skewers - I put a biscuit, cream, strawberry, cream, strawberry, cream, and another biscuit on top like the photo above.  You could do more biscuit layers (every other) but I didn't have enough to make as many skewers as I wanted to.

Serve right away.  Mine lasted a couple of hours on the counter before getting soggy / runny.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Pecan Roll Bundt

Last weekend, I hosted an annual Flip Flop Exchange and brunch for friends and their little (or not so little anymore!) girls.  We had a blast and I wish I had better / more pictures to share but I was busy enjoying the company and conversation.  I love making breakfast and having friends for brunch gives me an excuse to try some new recipe ideas.  Someday, if my dream of owning a bed and breakfast comes true, I'll get to do it all the time!  Anyways, I digress.  

This time around I made two new things  that I want to share.  The first is a pecan roll bundt cake.  It's like an easier version of monkey bread and I was initially skeptical about the method of using whole biscuits so I gave it a test run a few weeks prior when BFF and baby girl were here.  It turned out fantastic and really easy.  I love pecan rolls / sticky buns and everything of this genre so I ate waaayyy too much.  

Layered in the pan

Just out of the oven before inverting it

Pecan Roll Bundt 
original recipe here

1.5 cans refrigerated biscuit dough (I used Pillsbury Grands Original)
3 T butter, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. chopped pecans

Spray a bundt pan with non-stick spray.  Combine melted butter and syrup in a small bowl and set aside.  In another bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, and pecans.  

Place about half of the syrup mixture in the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle about half of the sugar and cinnamon mixture on top.  Lay the biscuits in the pan overlapping the edges (like the photo above) to form a ring.  Sprinkle with the rest of the sugar cinnamon mixture and pour over the rest of the syrup mixture.  Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool for a minute or two in the pan before running a knife around the edges and inverting onto a serving platter.