Dessert


There’s an extra bounce in my step recently, and that’s because it’s peach season!! Peaches are my all-time favorite fruit: sliced on cereal or pancakes, baked in cobblers and pies, or just eaten like an apple, I absolutely adore peaches.  The best feeling in the world is biting into a nice, juicy peach and having the sticky liquid run all the way down your hand and arm.  Mmm…

I’ve been checking out a lot of the farmer’s markets in my area (post to follow soon), and last Thursday I visited the Citiparks Farmer’s Market in Bloomfield.  Nearly every vendor had peaches, and I simply couldn’t resist.  I picked up a box of six for $4 and decided to make a cobbler with them.  I used a Paula Deen recipe for the crust and a standard Betty Crocker recipe for the peach filling. (more…)

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As any holiday weekend should be, my 4th of July weekend was filled with amazing food.  It started on Thursday night and just kept going, all the way through Monday…

Smallman St. Deli My absolute all-time favorite deli sandwich is the Rachel with turkey, and one of the best I’ve ever had has been at Smallman’s.  The rye bread is slathered in butter and grilled until it is downright crispy, the thousand island dressing is perfectly tangy, and the sweet coleslaw provides an excellent crunch.  At $8.40, this sandwich isn’t cheap, but it is packed with meat that will keep you going all day long. (more…)

Although the holidays are over, I strongly believe that you can never have too many cookies.  That’s why I offer up this post on making economical goodie bags filled with cookies and treats.  I recently made goodie bags for friends of mine as Christmas presents, but they would be great for party favors or baking exchanges as well.  I scoured the after-Christmas sales and found some really cute Chinese take-out boxes decorated in Christmas themes, for only fifty cents each. 

The goodies in my boxes included:

  • Spritz cookies
  • Iced sugar cookies
  • Cranberry bars
  • Peppermint patties
  • Cranberry biscotti

 The first three items I had in surplus from other holiday baking adventures, and the last two goodies were things I hadn’t made before and wanted to try.  The peppermint patty recipe I found one day as I was reading Serious Eats, and I immediately fell in love with the idea.  Who wouldn’t want to make a candy that’s just as good as the stuff you buy in the store for a fraction of the cost?  I was sold.  The biscotti were something I always wanted to make but didn’t want them lying around the apartment with only me to eat them (I have an obsession with baked goods…I can devour them like an eating contest champion).  Both were easy to make, although the biscotti were a bit time-consuming (several hours!) due to the multiple baking and cooling steps. 

One note about the ingredients: it may be tempting to purchase imitation vanilla or peppermint extracts because they are much cheaper than the real thing.  However, these are ingredients that you don’t want to skimp on!  The imitation extracts make everything taste just like what they are: fake.

Peppermint Patties (adapted from Serious Eats) 

Ingredients     Cost
2 c. powdered sugar   $0.99
1.5 T unsalted butter, softened     pantry
2 tsp. peppermint extract     $1.21
¼ tsp. vanilla extract   pantry
2 T. heavy cream pantry
8 oz. dark chocolate chips   $1.66
1 T. shortening     pantry
      Total cost (20 servings) $3.86
      Cost per serving ~ $0.19
         
             

Cream the sugar, butter, vanilla, and peppermint extracts with a mixer on low.  Increase speed to medium once the ingredients are combined and beat for another minute. 

Line a cookie sheet with wax paper.  Roll the filling into 1-inch balls with your hands and flatten into patties on the cookie sheet.  After the patties are made, put them in the freezer for 20 minutes.  

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate and shortening together in the microwave.  Let cool to room temperature.   

After the 20 minutes is up, take the patties from the freezer and dip them one by one into the chocolate (make sure the chocolate is cool or you’ll have melted patties!).  Place the dipped patties back on the wax paper.  Put the cookie sheet with patties on it in the fridge for a few hours until the chocolate hardens.

 Cranberry Biscotti (adapted from Giada de Laurentiis)  

Ingredients     Cost
2 c. flour   pantry
1 ½ tsp. baking powder   pantry
¾ c. sugar   pantry
½ c. butter, room temperature   pantry
1 tsp. grated lemon zest $0.79
¼ tsp. salt   pantry
2 large eggs     pantry
1 c. dried cranberries     $1.49
12 oz. white chocolate chips   $2.49
      Total cost (16 servings) $4.77
      Cost per serving $0.30

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Mix flour and baking powder in a medium bowl.  Beat sugar, butter, lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer.  Beat in the eggs one at a time.  Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and beat until blended.  Stir in the cranberries.

Form the dough into a log (13 inches by 3 inches) on the baking sheet.  Bake until light golden, about 40 minutes.  Cool for 30 minutes.  

Put the log on a cutting board and cut into ½ inch slices using a serrated knife.  Arrange the biscotti cut-side down on the baking sheet.  Bake the biscotti until golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Transfer the biscotti to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave.  Dip half of the biscotti in the melted chocolate and place on a cookie sheet (I also dipped some biscotti in leftover dark chocolate chips from the peppermint patty recipe…yum!).  Once all the biscotti are dipped, refrigerate until the chocolate is firm, about 35 minutes.  Store in an airtight container.

 

For me, rice pudding conjures up memories of me squealing with delight as a child whenever my mom would make something for dinner involving rice.  I knew that this meant she would set aside a portion of the cooked rice, add some milk and sugar and cinnamon, and that I would inevitably fight with my dad for the last serving of ‘sweet rice.’ Such a comfort food!

As usually happens with my recipe ideas, this one started with something I saw on sale at the grocery store and couldn’t pass up: mangos!  I didn’t have a plan for it when I bought one, but one day while reading Serious Eats I saw a picture of a mango rice pudding.  The picture was gorgeous but the recipe called for cardamom, and who in the world has cardamom? Certainly not the Chubby Grad.  So I looked for a more basic rice pudding recipe and figured I could just shove some mango on top.  I found this one from All Recipes, a website I don’t frequent but thought I’d give it a try.  I left out the vanilla, cinnamon, and raisins and added slightly less than the amount of sugar called for.  The recipe was simple enough, although a bit time consuming.  The night I made it, I tried the pudding hot with mango pieces on top.  The pudding itself was so wonderfully creamy and slightly sweet.  The texture and flavor of the mangos didn’t work so well with the pudding, but I held out hope.  I tried it again tonight, this time served cold with mangos on top.  This is definitely the way it should be served if putting mangos or some other fun fruit in it. The best part about this recipe is that all the ingredients are pantry items and the only thing I had to buy was a 99 cent mango!

¾ c. uncooked white rice

2 c. milk

1/3 c. sugar

¼ tsp. salt

1 egg, beaten

1 mango

Boil 1½ c. water in a saucepan, add rice and stir.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes (I had to add more liquid periodically to make sure it didn’t burn!!).  Meanwhile, peel and dice mango.  In a second saucepan, add 1½ c. milk, sugar, salt, and the cooked rice.  Cook over medium heat until thick and creamy, 15-20 minutes.  Stir in the remaining ½ c. milk and beaten egg and cook 2 more minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in butter.  Add mango pieces to each individual serving and enjoy!