Friday, July 22, 2011

White Chip Fruit Tart

Monday, Travis and I went to a local farming area around Spokane called Green Bluff. There are 43 small family owned farms and orchards, filled with u-pick and picked fruits and vegetables. Aside from the beauty of the farmland, this area is perched on a high bluff overlooking the city of Spokane and the valley. We enjoyed a gorgeous sunny day, picking raspberries and strawberries till our fingers were stained red, and having a fantastic lunch at an adorable farm store outside next to an orchard filled with almost-ripe pie cherries.

It was sort of a magical day, and as we drove home with the smell of ripe berries filling the car, I began to think of what to do with all this beautiful fruit. Tuesday, however, I realized that many of the berries, being quite ripe, were going to go bad soon if I didn't use them or freeze them. So I froze them, knowing Travis and I would never eat 9 pounds of strawberries in a matter of days! But ever since then, I've had fruit on the brain!
We were having company last night, so I racked my brain for something new to try besides the delicious- but done-before- strawberry shortcake or a fresh strawberry pie. I had almost decided to do the pie when I lit on the idea of a tart instead. I have never made a tart, so it would be fun to try. As I looked at recipes, however, they all called for a "tart pan with a removable bottom"- which I do not have (note to self: buy tart pan with removable bottom). Then I found a recipe which appealed to my practical self- in my Hershey's cookbook, a "White Chip Fruit Tart" which assumed nothing about my owning a tart pan, but simply stated, "press dough onto bottom and up side of 12-inch round pizza pan". Yay! I have one of those!

BUT. But, I did not have white chips or whipping cream. Or cream cheese. Easily remedied. IF. If one of our two convenience stores carried white chips, of which I was not entirely convinced. But, I said a quick prayer and headed to the store in faith. One store is about a 1/2 mile or so from our house, the other is about 2 mi. I went to the closer one first and no such luck. Semi-sweet chips and milk-chocolate chips. Nothing white. On to the next store! I crept into the baking aisle, hardly daring to look and there, to my great delight sat ONE dusty, perfectly sized bag of white chips. On to the dairy case and there, among the taller containers of different grades of milk sat ONE tiny little carton of whipping cream. The cream cheese appeared to be more well stocked. I have concluded that the Lord answers culinary prayers!

Anyhow, this tart was really a snap to make and absolutely delicious to eat, as well as a treat for the eyes! I thawed a few strawberries and raspberries and added a couple of fresh peaches I had on hand and the effect was delightful. The filling is creamy, but not too rich, offset by the delightful natural sweetness of the fruit. A pretty and sweet/tart glaze of pineapple juice, lemon juice, sugar and cornstarch keeps the fruit fresh and shiny looking, so if you make your tart ahead of time, it is kept looking beautiful till serving time!

White Chip Fruit Tart
(printable version)
from the Hershey's Cookbook
makes 10-12 (small) servings (more realistically, maybe 8-10)

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
2 cups (12 oz pkg) white chips
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
assorted fresh fruit, sliced

Fruit Topping:
1/4 cup sugar
1 TB cornstarch
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/2 tsp lemon juice
Stir together sugar and cornstarch in small saucepan; stir in juices. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened; cool.

Heat oven to 300. Beat butter and powdered sugar in small bowl until smooth; blend in flour. Press mixture onto bottom and up side of 12 in. round pizza pan. Flute edge if desired.
Bake 20 to 25 min or until lightly browned. Cool completely.
Place white chips and whipping cream in medium microwave safe bowl. Microwave 1 to 1 1/2 min. or until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred. Beat in cream cheese. Spread on cooled crust. Prepare fruit topping. Arrange fruit over chip mixture; carefully pour or brush topping over fruit. Cover; refrigerate assembled tart until just before serving.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

{Your Favorite Fruit Here} Cobbler

Fruit desserts are the essence of summer. And a cobbler is a list-topper when it comes to fruit desserts. It is simple and oh, so versatile, and the perfect compliment to a summer barbecue. When I was a young girl, I liked to browse through my mom's cookbooks, and especially one intrigued me. It is called Family Favorites, and it is a collection of recipes put together by California home economics teachers! Therefore, the recipes are easy and well-tested. When I got married, I made sure to order a used copy (all you can find) of this special recipe book on for myself! Leafing though this book one day I came across this fruit cobbler recipe and decided tried it with peaches. We also discovered it is amazing with blackberries, which grow rampantly in my parent's Oregon backyard. As they say, the rest is history.
For many summers now, this recipe has been the request of small family dinners (correction: we never have "small" family dinners in my family...) as well as big parties (this is usually what our "small family dinners" turn into)! I remember making several LARGE pans of it when my brother got married almost 8 years ago. Several summers ago, I made two 9x13 pans full for my grandpa's birthday celebration in Florida (where blackberries are scarce- my grandma paid a small fortune for them!). Earlier this summer, my sisters texted me, requesting it. I've made it with fresh, u-picked local peaches, canned Costco peaches, white peaches, fresh Oregon blackberries and frozen blackberries, but it is ALWAYS delicious.

Recently I served it (peach style) for my in-laws after a delicious steak dinner, alongside my mother-in-law's fantastic fresh, homemade vanilla ice cream, and amazingly my father-in-law remarked later that he preferred the cobbler to the ice cream!

Enjoy the recipe with whatever your favorite summer fruit is, and maybe it will become your family's tradition too!

By the way, I apologize, I was so excited to eat the finished cobbler, that I forgot to take a picture! You'll just have to imagine it, steaming...with a scoop of homemade ice cream...summer in a bowl.

Fruit Cobbler
(printable version)
from "Family Favorites"

1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 scant tsp baking powder
1 stick softened butter
1 egg, beaten
6 cups of fruit (or enough to fill your pan!)
sugar to taste (about 1/2 cup for peaches)
cinnamon/nutmeg as desired

Preheat oven to 350.
Combine the first four ingredients in one bowl. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients. Mix beaten egg well into flour/butter mixture. Fill an 8x8 pan full with fruit. Sugar well. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg to taste. Pat or sprinkle cobbler dough over top of fruit. Bake for at least 40 minutes or until topping is golden brown and fruit is bubbly. Excellent served warm with ice cream.

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

Travis and I bought a barbecue grill last month! We are so excited and have spent many evenings experimenting and loving every flame-licked piece of meat or veggie that has come off the rack. All last summer we talked about getting one, but never did. This summer we were determined to put out a little bit of cash so we could experience the joy of outdoor cooking. My brother is partly to blame, writing mouth-watering, laugh-out-loud funny posts on his wife's blog, detailing his love of all things grilled, as well as the grilling experience itself. Even onions (one of the few things we disagree on) have been decreed passable when kissed by the flame. Anyhow, we now have a grill and are happily employing it. This recipe is only partly grilled, but it makes all the difference. I discovered this salad on last summer and made it many times either baking the chicken or grilling it on my counter-top George Foreman. But now that we have done it correctly- I don't know if I can go back! Grilling the chicken outdoors, after it had been marinated, gave the salad a whole new lease on life! I love Caesar salads anyway, but this one took it up a notch.
To start, I marinated the chicken breasts in a balsamic vinegar marinade. I LOVE balsamic vinegar. It really gave the chicken a fantastic flavor and made it super tender. I let them marinate at least a half hour, then Hubby grilled them to perfection.
The rest of it is extremely simple, really. Chop up a lot of romaine lettuce,

add Parmesan cheese (we've used grated or shredded and both work well- use whatever you have on hand!),

croutons (I usually get the garlic Caesar variety),

and Caesar dressing (I like Ken's lite creamy Caesar more than the recipe's Kraft dressing) and you have a fantastic, light, summer meal!

This is delicious served with garlic bread, as you can see we did on the grill as well. Yum!!
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