Tuesday, July 26, 2011


easy peezy Peach Pie-Cake.
this is a definite go-to recipe that can be whipped up in no time.  i always keep...HIDE...a can of pie filling in the back of the pantry just for this quick and easy cake.  when someone, anyone, comes to visit they always expect a little something sweet from the kitchen and this one never fails.

i know...i have a reputation to keep up and canned pie filling does NOT boost my ratings, but this is one of those
desserts that is worth standing in line at the market with canned pie filling in the basket.

it's a fabulous simple sweet treat that can be served as a dessert with ice cream or whipped cream, as a brunch side like a coffeecake with a little fresh fruit and ginger syrup...or i enjoyed it for breakfast with a little vanilla Greek yogurt

try any flavor filling...i must say that fresh fruit will not give the same outcome.  you kinda need that eewey gooey sweet filling that only comes in a can...and besides the can is what makes this so darn EASY.  so go out (to a market far far away) and buy a can of good ol' pie filling, quickly grab what ever flavor and dash home...no one will be the wiser...


1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temp.
1 cup AP flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
12 1/2 ounces peach pie filling
powdered sugar to finish

preheat oven to 350 F degrees.  spray an 8 x8 baking pan with non stick spray...set aside

cream the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer or large bowl.  add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.  add the vanilla extract.  mix until well combined.  add flour and baking powder and mix until just combined.  the batter will be thick.

spread batter into pan.  it's OK if it's a little uneven because the pie filling will fill in those areas.  take pie filling and scatter all over the top of the batter.

bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown, or toothpick test in the center.  try to toothpick test in a spot where there is no filling.

cool and dust with powdered sugar.

serve with fresh fruit, toasted pecans, ice cream, creme anglais, ginger syrup or just as-is.  keeps well for a few days covered....if there's any left over.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Crispy Skin Roasted Pork Belly with "EXTRA BITS"



a little lesson in the reality of NOSE TO TAIL

(before i go on...Jamie Oliver's recipe for Crispy Skin Oven Roasted Pork Belly is FABULOUS.
i've cooked it many times and posted about it HERE)

well, this was my reality check...

that delicious unctuous Pork Belly actually comes from a PIG'S BELLY........ i know... DUH !

AND, like most animals, pigs have boobs...breasts, mammary glands...nipples...a bunch of them in fact...

on their bellies...

but...have you EVER encountered this (these) before?  
i have bought many a pork belly in the last few years, in all shapes and sizes, but i have not come across an actual "nipple" on the belly....until NOW.

am i just a naive beach city girl, buying her nice clean bellies from the "Super Market"?...
do country folk get the "extra bits" all the time?...
maybe this is a sign of good luck and wealth in some country?

does this not seem odd to anyone else?

the butcher showed me a beautiful slab.  i thought it looked small, but nice and fatty...i said, "i'll take that one".  i took it home, rinsed it and dried it thoroughly.  i started slicing at one end with my trusty sharp blade making sure the cuts in the skin were even...

i get to the other end and...EEK, what the heck is that?!
two larger than life piggy nipples !

well, at that point i was laughing out loud...grabbed the camera and thought no one is gonna believe this unless i get a good shot.

long story short...i cooked it up as usual ala Jamie Oliver's recipe and it came out fabulous looking as usual...except i knew there were two extra crispy nipples on one end...(as seen in photo).....as you might already know, the end bits are the best bites.
i'm all about the nose to tail deal, as you might have guessed by some of my other posts, but i'll have to admit...i didn't have the guts to eat the crispy nipples.  something about seeing the cross cut of an actual mammary gland just didn't sit right with me...maybe because i just can't eat parts i can so closely identify with...or maybe because i just plain chickened out, but i am a little embarrassed to say i did not partake in the crispy nipple bites...my loss...?

so, maybe i am just a naive beach city girl...maybe i did miss out on the good luck and fortunes, but i must say, if  put to the task...

next time i WILL eat the crispy bits in question.

and my post for Crispy Skin Pork Belly is here with my notes and others comments.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Vanilla Berry Chai Jello Treat

Stained Glass Jello Dessert made healthy...

i know, i know...we've all seen this one before.  commonly known as stained glass jello, but i bet you haven't tried this version.

it's lo-cal, lo-carb...no fat...NO GUILT...

it's FULL OF PROTEIN...and IT'S FUN !!! 

you see this type of jello dessert a lot in the Mexican markets, but it's usually made with sweetened condensed milk and sugary jello......and i've seen many recipes on the Internet all cute and colorful.  here's an example that i found at Mexicanfoodsandmore.com... BUT all the fun colors and flavors of jello are the pre-sugared ones and i don't see myself eating sweetened condensed milk in solid form anytime soon.

so i had a "light bulb moment"

why not use my vanilla protein drink as the milky base and use sugar-free jellos...
better yet...infuse different tea flavors into the colored jellos.
i dug out the Knox gelatin packets i had in the back of the pantry, put my lab-coat on and went to work.

the results have been delicious.  friends love the cute little squares i dole out and it's always a great conversation piece....
"where'd you get that?...what is that?...how'd you make that?...can i have some?..."
always followed by a big smile and a few giggles

this post is not so much a recipe as it is an idea,...
but i have put the ingredients for the treat i made shown in the photos.  you can see how flavors can easily be changed to suit what you have available.  i found that Worldwide Vanilla Pure Protein 21g or 35g protein (found at Trader Joe's) works well for the base and the Isopure (looks like this) Blue berry flavor worked well with it's icy blue color AND it added 40 more grams of protein to the batch.  look for Isopure at a nutrition store.  you could also try Gatorade G2 Icy Blue Berry or something else colorful.  i DID find that Gatorade wasn't as flavorful...Crystal light has some great flavors...cherry pomegranate is great


8 x 8 glass pyrex dish for finished product
2 cups vanilla protein drink
1 lrg box black cherry sugar free Jello (makes 8  1/2 cup servings)
16 oz of ice blue G2 Gatorade
OR 16 oz of Isopure Blueberry Protein drink
OR another flavor sugar free jello, 1 box
1 - 2 Chai tea sachet
dash cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg, ginger

let me suggest a link to a GREAT blog post here at The food Librarian.  Mary has some fabulous photos and perfect instructions on making stained (broken) glass jello.  for an easy protein version, just substitute the condensed milk with the vanilla protein drink...NOTE...DON'T USE WATER...bloom your gelatin in 1 cup cold protein drink then heat in the microwave until completely dissolved then add the other cup protein drink and proceed.
use sugar free jello for the colors.
if you want to get creative or expand your flavors see below...

use chai ice tea for the water when making your colored boxed jello

also i like to add a small (small!) dash of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and nutmeg to the vanilla protein drink.

if you are using another liquid, such as the Isopure Protein juice, Gatorade or what ever...use 2 gelatin packets for 2 cups of liquid....bloom your gelatin in 1 cup cold liquid for 5 minutes, give it a stir then heat in microwave until dissolved.  no need to boil, but don't walk away 'cuz it can over flow...not good.  stir...when completely dissolved add the other cup liquid and stir...pour into flat dish then refrigerate until completely firm.  cut into cubes....

 and again, refer to this great post/link, The Food Librarian, for finishing the project...i would write it all out, but Mary explains it so well and this would just get too long.

i'm sure you get the drift...it's not rocket science....
although you should win a prize for making it to the end of this post.

go wild with some fabulous flavor combos

i think i'll try something with chocolate protein drink?... next week when i'm done with this one.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Dark Chocolate Balsamic Truffles

a TRUFFLE should look like a TRUFFLE.
that's why it's called a TRUFFLE.

smart little pigs root these craggy little knobs out of the dirt.
so...they should look like craggy little knobs that some smart little pig has rooted out of the dirt.

AND there's the little fact that  it's a lot easier to mold a little knob than a prefect ball when dealing with chocolate in the summer heat...know what i'm saying?


choose your chocolate wisely...don't skimp

most likely you are making them because you LOVE chocolate...
or you are making them for someone else who knows and LOVES chocolate...
or you are making them for someone you LOVE...

this is a labor of LOVE, 
so why would you waste your time and effort on inferior chocolate ?!


  • 8 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (recommended: Valrhona)
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar*
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • *NOTE...i used a good balsamic...aged 12 years.  maybe a fresher more tangy balsamic would work with only 2 tsp, but i think after reading some of the comments from the original found here i would double the balsamic to get more of the flavor.  it was not too present in the batch i made...
melt the chocolate and the cream in a double boiler over simmering water until incorporated and smooth...no lumps
take off the heat and pour chocolate mixture into a smaller bowl.  add balsamic and stir until incorporated.
**the original recipe says to chill in fridge for 1 hour, then remove and let sit out for 2 hours...
**NOTE...this did NOT work for me.  i was left with a gooey mess that would instantly melt to the touch.  i almost trashed the whole batch thinking i had used the wrong balsamic or something...i gave up and left it on the kitchen counter over night and VOILA !...perfect consistency for knobs and balls. 
i suggest you give this a try...let the chocolate cool to room temp. then cover and chill in fridge for a few hours, or until completely firm.  then remove and let sit out over night..(it might be too hot during the day to set)
when it is easy to scoop...should be about like ice cream...make little balls (or knobs, as i prefer), and drop them in a dish filled with cocoa powder.  gently roll them around to coat.  place them on a parchment or wax paper lined tray and EAT...or best to put them back into the fridge for a bit.  i like to do about 4-5 then put them in the fridge so they don't get a flat bottom while sitting out.   just remember to take them out and bring to room temperature before serving.

photo below is of the truffle balls.  i think the cocoa knobs are much cuter.
if using nuts or another coating, balls work well.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Yogurt and Apricot Pie with Crunchy Granola Crust

once again, i was googling for some healthy cheesecake alternatives and i came across this one from Food and Wine...it's quite delicious...sweet, tart, fresh and creamy with a crunchy oatie crust...
you might want to consider this a "HEALTH-IER" treat.  although it is sweetened with a bit of sugar and preserves, it does contain yogurt with all it's probiotics, the benefits from old fashioned oats and the omegas from almonds.

if you are looking for a truly healthy low-cal dessert i would not consider this one ultra healthy, but very tasty and a good alternative to a heavy cheesecake.  (oooh how i do love me some real cheesecake!)

i adapted the recipe just a smidge by adding a bit more oats to the crust and i used whole wheat white flour...for some reason the words whole wheat flour and oats trick me to think i am being healthy.  i like to eat my sweets for breakfast so this was a perfect sweet treat to start my day without too much guilt.
this would be a great dessert to finish off a fabulous summer Sunday brunch...a light fresh pie and with a few slices of fresh apricots your set for a bright summery treat.

Yogurt and Apricot Pie with Crunchy Granola Crust

3/4 cup whole wheat white flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds, crushed
1/2 cup rolled oats, old fashioned
dash of cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup non fat plain Greek yogurt
2 lg eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp pure vanilla
1/2 cup warmed apricot preserves

preheat oven to 350 F
in a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, almonds, oats, salt, cinnamon.  in a large skillet melt the butter and oil.  add the granola mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring continuously until golden, about 5 minutes.  transfer to a 9 inch pie plate and let cool slightly.

using a flat bottomed glass, gently press the granola evenly over the bottom and side of pie plate to form a 1/2 inch thick crust.  freeze the crust for about 10 minutes, until completely cooled.

NOTE..this crust is a bit difficult to get perfect...it's crumbly, but do your best.

meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk the yogurt with the eggs, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla; whisk until smooth.  pour the filling into the pie shell and bake for 25 minutes. until the filling is set, but the center is still slightly jiggly.  let the pie stand at room temperature for 5 minutes.  pour the warm apricot preserves on top of the yogurt and gently spread in an even layer.

refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours.  using a warm knife, cut the pie into wedges and serve.

Friday, July 1, 2011

BACON JAM with a little kick

BACON JAM...are you kidding me?
was someone keeping this a secret?
how did i not know about this WONDER SPREAD?!

move over candied bacon...there's a new kid in town

good morning...good afternoon and good night !
i could eat this with every meal...and i think i have.

if you are a bacon fanatic, like myself, i suggest...demand you to try this fabulous easy slow cooker recipe for the sweet savory ride of your life.  it goes with just about anything and everything...wonderful with the apple-peanut butter combo...fabulous with a ripe camembert cheese and a crisp cracker...just the right topping for some toast soldiers and a 3 minute egg...

and on a burger ?  fagetaboutit !

w/chipotle peppers
adapted from Martha Stewart

1 1/2 pound sliced bacon (apple wood smoked is great), cut lengthwise into 1-2 inch pieces
NOTE...if doing it on the stove top i find it much easier to keep the pieces large or whole for easier flipping and even browning.
2 medium yellow onions, diced small
3-4 garlic cloves, smashed peeled
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3/4 cup brewed coffee
1/2 tsp Mexican chili powder
2-3 chipotle chilies, diced...out of the can with a little of the adobo sauce

1.  cook your bacon until it is browned and the fat is rendered...OVEN or SKILLET...?

NOTE...the 1st time i cooked my bacon, in strips, all at once in the oven...much easier...BUT i lost out on the crispy bacon burnt scrapings that you get from cooking it in the skillet.    the finished product didn't miss the scrapings at all...it was fabulous.  i did a second batch on the stove top to see if there would be a big flavor  difference and i cut the bacon into small pieces...had to do it in 2 batches, took twice as long, kind of messy and kind of a big hassle.  this batch is in the slow cooker RIGHT NOW, so we'll see....i'm leaning towards the oven method and cutting it all into pieces before adding to the pot.

NOTE...i just tried the second batch...the one that i cooked the bacon on the stove top and used all the scrapings.  i did not see any noticeable flavor difference.  i will definitely use the oven method for my bacon from here on out.  i think i could still get some of the delicious scrapings off the jelly roll pan and add them, but like i said, i didn't notice anything worth going through all the trouble of stove top cooking.  i suggest cooking your bacon in whole strips all at once in the oven.

transfer the bacon to paper towels to drain.  pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat.  save the rest for future use...like these Bacon Fat Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies perhaps.

Add onions and garlic, and cook until onions are translucent, about 6 minutes.

add vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup, coffee, chili powder and chipotle chilies and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the skillet (or not if used oven method) with a wooden spoon.
add bacon and stir to combine.

transfer mixture to a 6 Qt slow cooker and cook on high, UNCOVERED, for 3 1/2 - 4 hours, until liquid is syrupy.

transfer to a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.  let cool, then refrigerate in airtight containers, up to 4 weeks

NOTE...i, obviously, put mine in airtight clip-top jars...try to make sure there are no air bubbles when loading into jars...that's where the spoilage can form first if you are storing a jar for a few weeks. this is very rich, but UNBELIEVABLY FABULOUS so you might use it sparingly...


i have a new favorite breakfast now that i have discovered this wonder spread...a bacon jam, peanut butter and fresh raspberry quesadilla.  spread the jam on one side, the p-nut better on the other, add the raspberries to one side and flap over like a quesadilla...talk about a delicious out-of-the-ordinary on the go breakfast...YUM !!!

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