Fruit Pizza

fruit pizzaYou may have noticed that I’ve been a little MIA from my blog for the last few months.  I didn’t mean to be gone for so long and I don’t have a really good excuse.  This year my oldest started high school and along with that, he started attending a church seminary class every morning before school at 6:00!  Between that, high school football and all of my other boys activities, I just felt like I needed to get things under control and focus on my family.

Last week I laid in bed, composing two different posts and I knew it was time to come back. 🙂  I decided to start with this amazing fruit pizza that I put together last week.  I was asked to bring one to an event at church so I experiment with it early in the week and found that I could not resist it!  I normally can stay away from a treat if I put it out of sight, but not this one!  I swear I was getting it out and cutting a slice every 5 minutes. (in semi related news, I’m pretty sure I’m going to lose my DietBet next week)  It seems like a dessert as irresistible as this is appropriate for my comeback. 🙂  Here’s the details I think you should know.

AnneOpinion

This recipe is made for a half sheet pan.  I have two reasons for this.  One is that everyone will want it and you need to have enough to go around and two, I find it impossible to find a pizza pan these days.

The limeade glaze is what really separates this from other Fruit Pizzas you may have eaten in the past.  It not only adds the delightful zip that only citrus can bring but it also enhances the flavor of all the other fruits.  The glaze is brushed onto the cream cheese frosting.  I like to do more dabbing than brushing so that they don’t start to mix together.  You then place the fruit on and then I like to dab the fruit with the limeade glaze.  Not required, but delicious!

I would put fruit that is in season on your pizza.  Blackberries were on sale here last week, so I used them instead of blueberries.  Canned mandarin oranges and fresh strawberries are always a must for me!  To try and minimize the fruit from staining the cream cheese frosting all around I always gently press the sliced fruit between two paper towels to get as much moisture out as possible.  This helps, but is not full proof, so put your fruit on as close to serving as possible, or put on enough fruit that you can’t see the cream cheese frosting.

I’m excited to be back!  Thanks for stopping by!!

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Fruit Pizza
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Fruit Pizza
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Ingredients
Crust
Glaze
Servings:
Recipe Notes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 1 1/2 Cups sugar until smooth. Mix in eggs.  Add the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Press dough into an ungreased half sheet pan.  Bake in preheated oven for 13-16 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool.

In a bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the granulated and powdered sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Spread on the cooled pizza crust leaving an edge around the outside.

For the glaze: Combine the limeade, cornstarch, lime juice, and sugar in a small saucepan, whisk and cook over medium heat until clear and thick, about 2 minutes. Let cool. With a pasty brush, glaze the entire pizza. You will not use all of the glaze. Cut fruit and dry off excess juice on paper towels.  Arrange fruit on top of the pizza. You can add glaze to the top of the fruit, if desired.  Cover lightly with plastic wrap and chill until serving.

Recipe adapted from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/12604/fruit-pizza-i/ and http://www.melskitchencafe.com/fruit-pizza/ and http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/fresh-fruit-tart-recipe.html

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Oatmeal Cookie Bars

oatmeal-cookies-barsIs it really the end of October?  I swear school just started, but I have noticed that it is bearable outside now and we are loving the change in season.  I heard something on the radio yesterday that made me laugh out loud because it is so true!  “We have four seasons in Arizona.  They are Summer, Insanely Hot Summer, Post Summer and Pre Summer.”  Can I get an “Amen!” from my fellow Arizonans?  We are now in Post Summer which means that the kids can go to the park, ride their bikes and do all of the outdoor activities that we think of as summer activities elsewhere.

This time of year makes me want to bake constantly (unfortunately for my waistline).  I love trying new recipes and when I find one that I really like, I can kind of get stuck.  Take, for instance, these oatmeal bars.  I first made them about three weeks ago and I have made them once a week ever since.  They are so easy to throw together and they are loved by everyone!  I have been raving about this recipe to my mom and sister for the last few weeks and I’ve taken this as a sign that I need to share the recipe with all of you.  It’s another one from Mel’s Kitchen Café.  I know I’ve probably done enough from her, but what can I say, I LOVE her recipes!  I have found that they are ones that I can rely on to be fabulous and isn’t fabulous what we all want in life?

AnneOpinion

These bar cookies are perfect.  They have oatmeal in them which gives a chewy texture and nutty flavor.  The perfect part is that there is not too much oatmeal so they don’t have that solid, heavy feel that comes with so many oatmeal treats.

These are so popular in these parts that I would not even dream of making them in anything smaller than a half sheet pan.  I have a hard time making them last a whole day in the large size. If things don’t disappear as quickly in your parts, feel free to make them in a 9×13 size.  Mel’s recipe is made for that size, so check it out here.

These bars can have any combination of chips in them that that you would like.  All chocolate chip, all butterscotch, peanut butter, M&M. (Boy 1 has been advocating for the all M&M)  My favorite is a combination of chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and M&M baking chips.  For me, it’s perfect and I’ll be sticking with it for a while I think.

One thing to remember.  If you want them to look pretty when you’re done (like in the picture) you’ll need to reserve some of each of the chips and not mix them in.  After the dough is pressed in the pan, sprinkle them over the top and after baking you’ll have pretty, irresistible looking bars.  If you just care how they taste, save yourself a step and just mix everything in to begin with.  I promise, either way, you will Love them!

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Oatmeal Cookie Bars
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Oatmeal Cookie Bars
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray half size baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer or a stand mixer, beat butter, sugars, egg and vanilla until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Add 1 3/4 cup chocolate chips, 3/4 cup butterscotch chips and 3/4 cup M&M's and mix together. Press into the prepared pan and sprinkle reserved chips and M&M's over the dough and gently press in. Bake for 18-20 minutes until light golden brown. Don't overbake! These bars are definitely better underbaked by just a few minutes rather than being overbaked so watch them carefully. Let cool completely on a wire rack before slicing into squares.
Recipe Notes

AnneOpinion from Mel's Kitchen Café (with slight adaption)

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Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

browned-butter-chocolate-chChocolate Chip Cookies are favorite around our house.  In fact, I can’t even begin to count the number of times that I’ve asked my husband what I should make for dessert for Sunday dinner and his answer is chocolate chip cookies.  Every. Single. Time.  I used to be bothered by this because I would think, “I could make you any number of fancy desserts and all you want is chocolate chip cookies?”  I’ve gotten past that now and am grateful that something so simple is all that it takes to make him happy. (and if I want to make a fancy dessert, I just don’t ask for his opinion on what I should make.

Nestle Toll House is the standard recipe that I use.  I’ve tried many over the years and I always go back to it.  I think it’s the goto recipe for most people.  I always think of this moment in “Friends” where Monica spends two days trying to figure out Phoebe’s grandmother’s cookies recipe only to realize it was Nestle Toll House all along.

Last week, on my Instagram feed, I saw that America’s Test Kitchen had a link for their best chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I decided to check it out and when I found that they had used the Toll House recipe as the basis to start from , I knew that I needed to try it. I wasn’t disappointed.  These cookies look and taste like you picked them up at a local bakery.  They have that wonderful crispy ripple on the outside and the inside is soft and dense.  Perfection!

AnneOpinion

First of all, they start with browned butter.  Browned butter is a bit of an obsession of mine and I’m convinced that it makes all things better.  It gives the dough a softer and greasier texture than a regular dough so don’t be surprised by that.  It also will start bubbling and foaming when you add the additional butter after taking it off the heat.  Don’t be alarmed by this!  I actually think that it’s kind of cool.

Adding the white sugar to the eggs and letting them rest for 10 minutes gives the sugar a chance to dissolve, and helps sugar to caramelize more quickly in the baking process, resulting in a more flavorful cookie.

The use of one egg and one egg yolk helps make the cookies less cakelike and the small amount of cinnamon (which I added) helps to enhance the flavor of the cookie and the chocolate while not standing out as a single flavor.

If you have the time, a variety of cookie experts swear by letting your dough rest, at least overnight.  It really is amazing how much the flavor intensifies and becomes more complex over time.  If you don’t have time for that, don’t worry, they’re still really good right away.  🙂

If you have the option of using a convection oven, I found that I like the spread on the cookies better when I used it vs my regular oven.  Also, give the dough a few minutes to warm up if you have had it in the refrigerator overnight.  The warmer the dough, the more the cookie will spread, so you can decide which you like and make accordingly.

I was so impressed by these cookies I wrapped them up individually in plastic wrap and gave them to my kids’ teachers.  They looked and tasted like I’d picked them up at a gourmet bakery and I wasn’t going to tell them any different. 😉

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Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
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Servings
19 cookies
Servings
19 cookies
Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Print Recipe
Servings
19 cookies
Servings
19 cookies
Ingredients
Servings: cookies
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a small skillet, melt 10 tablespoons of butter 1-2 minutes. Continue cooking until butter turns a light brown color and has a nutty aroma 1-3 minutes. Remove from heat and add additional 4 tablespoons of butter; allow to melt. In a medium bowl, mix white sugar and eggs. Allow to stand for 10 minutes. Add brown sugar, salt, vanilla and butter and mix together. Add flour, baking soda, and cinnamon and mix until just combined. Add chocolate chips and nuts (if desired) and mix together. (if you have time, chill overnight) Using a large cookie scoop, place cookie balls on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 10-13 minutes. Allow to cool for 2 minutes before moving to a cooling wrack.
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Morning Glory Muffins

Carrot-cake-muffinsWe’re going to be talking muffins this week.  With school starting and everyone being more “on the go,” I need to have some things on hand that are healthy and that everyone likes.  Those two things are the requirements for all three of the muffin recipes that I’ll be sharing this week.  My oldest is attending a church class at 6:00am before school and I am not getting up and making him a hot breakfast every day (sorry honey!), but I want to make sure that what he is eating is healthy, filling and most importantly, portable.  My solution has been muffins and so far they are being met with great applause.

AnneOpinion

If you’ve never had a Morning Glory muffin, they are kind of like a carrot cake in muffin form.  They’re very nutritious with carrots, apple, nuts and coconut.

These muffins are great right away, but even better the next day or after freezing.  The flavors get the chance to meld together and really complement each other.

I like to use coconut oil in these, but if that’s not your thing, melted butter or canola oil also work well.

If I’m making these for a brunch or a morning meeting, I put a dollop of frosting on them.  If they’re for my family, I just leave them plain.  They are bursting with so many flavors on their own I don’t feel like they need it and that would undermine the “healthy and nutritious” goal that I have for them.  With the nuts, and the coconut and the cinnamon and the orange, you don’t really need more; but if you add the frosting it’s like you’re eating a really good carrot cake for breakfast and nobody complains about cake for breakfast!

I love the little bit of orange that I added into these.  It’s a wonderful surprise background flavor that adds a fresh taste to the muffin. If you have any fans of carrot cake or spice cake around, you need to give this recipe a try!

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Morning Glory Muffins
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Morning Glory Muffins
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
Muffin Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease or place paper liners in 18 muffin cups. Toast pecans for 5-7 minutes. Let cool and chop. Toast coconut for 3-4 minutes; let cool. Peel and finely grate carrots and apple and set aside. In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, oil, orange juice and vanilla. Add carrots and apple and fold together. Add flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, orange zest, pecans, and coconut and mix together until just moistened. Evenly divided batter between muffin cups and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before removing to wire wrack. Let cool completely. Eat, freeze or frost. Whatever you do, they're going to be good!!
Frosting instructions
  1. Cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add a dollop to each muffin.
Recipe Notes

AnneOpinion adapted from Joy of Baking

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Neapolitan Chocolate Crepes

crepes1I am very excited to finally get this post up today!  It has been in the works since before Valentine’s Day when my husband brought home a recipe from the newspaper for crepes and suggested I do a post on them.(I love how he’s always thinking of me 🙂 )  First I had to try out the recipe and it was perfect!  I love these chocolate crepes.

crepes2 Next, I needed to work out the fillings and that is what has slowed down this post. I now have three different crepe fillings that each are amazing in their own right.  The wonderful thing about all three of the flavored whipped creams is that they all are simple to make.  No using a double boiler or tempering eggs like is required in traditional mousse recipes.

As you know, the strawberry cream took a while for me to figure out.  I’m so happy with the final results of it.  You can click on this link to find the recipe.

The article also had a recipe for a hazelnut mousse that I was super excited to try.  It called for hazelnut paste, which I had never used.  I tracked some down and tried out the recipe and it was good, but the nutella mousse that I made for mini trifles I thought was just as good, a lot easier to make and cost less to make.  So, after all of those points in the original recipe’s favor, I saw no point in using the new recipe.  If you are a fan of hazelnut and chocolate, this is a guaranteed winner.

The final filling in our trifecta is coconut whipped cream.  I really cannot say it enough.  I love this whipped cream!  Coconut+ Chocolate=YUM!  Here’s the details on how to create this sophisticated and impressive dessert that is always a hit.

AnneOpinion

The chocolate flavor in these crepes is very mild.  They are light and tender and perfect for breakfast/brunch, a bridal shower, baby shower, or dinner party.  You can have a fancy “Build your own Crepe” bar with different fillings and toppings.  I used coconut whipped cream, strawberry whipped cream, and nutella mousse. (click on the links to find the recipes)  I garnished the tops with toasted coconut, grated hazelnuts, and powdered sugar.  Chocolate syrup is also great drizzled across the top.

When I first learned to make crepes I would put all of the ingredients in the blender, turn it on, and cook the crepes.  Since then I learned a few things to make my crepes better.  First, I have you strain the ingredients twice when making these crepes.  Once to make sure and get the lumps out of the dry ingredients and once to make sure there are not lumps in the batter.  I have you do the first one because cocoa can have a tendency to have lots of lumps and I want to lose as little cocoa as possible when we strain the batter the second time.

You will want to make sure that you give yourself enough time to let the batter rest for at least 1 hour.  This will give the gluten time to relax and will result in a lighter, more airy crepe.  If you plan on making them for breakfast, making the batter the night before and putting it in the refrigerator will make cooking them in the morning a breeze.

Cooking crepes on both sides is a personal decision.  I grew up cooking crepes on only one side, my husband insists that they be cooked on both.  I now cook ours’ on both sides because the second side only takes about 5 seconds to cook and it’s that important to him.

I’m including a video with a demonstration of “How to cook crepes;”  If you’ve never done it before, don’t be intimidated.  They really are fairly easy.  Hopefully the video will help you feel comfortable enough to try.

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Chocolate Crepes
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Servings
8 Crepes
Servings
8 Crepes
Chocolate Crepes
Print Recipe
Servings
8 Crepes
Servings
8 Crepes
Ingredients
Servings: Crepes
Instructions
  1. Measure flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt into a strained and sift together into a bowl. Wisk in milk and egg. Pour ingredients through a strainer to remove any lumps. Stir in butter and vanilla. Let rest for 1 hour or refrigerate overnight. When ready to cook, heat a non-stick pan over medium heat until hot. Spray with cooking spray and pour 3 tablespoons of batter into the 11 or 1 o'clock position of the pan. Off heat, rotate the pan until the batter covers the pan. Cook until the edges curl and the batter has turned dark, about 40 seconds. Flip the crepe and cook another 5-10 seconds. Stack cooked crepes between sheets of parchment paper, if not being eaten immediately. Serve with strawberry, Nutella, or coconut cream. Garnish with powdered sugar, grated hazelnuts or powdered sugar. Drizzle chocolate syrup on top.
Recipe Notes

AnneOpinion, recipe from The Crepe Bar

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Strawberry Lime Pie with Coconut Cream

strawberry-lime1This pie is something that came to me in a blaze of glorious inspiration and I fantasized about and dreamed that it would be as good as I hoped.  I love strawberry and lime together.  In fact I frequently pay extra to get a Strawberry-Lime slushie at Sonic instead of a Lemon-Berry.  Why it costs more to get lime instead of lemon, I don’t understand, but for me it’s worth it.  I have a serious obsession with lime.  Even if you don’t, there’s a good chance that you’ll love this pie too.

AnneOpinion

This pie is a graham cracker crust with a lime custard-like layer on the bottom, a strawberry gelation layer on the top and is served with a coconut whipped cream that is so over the top good I can hardly stand it.  (I’m not kidding, it took all the willpower I had to not get a spoon and just eat all of the coconut whipped cream that was left.)

I have tried the pie with both key lime and lime juice.  I liked them both; my husband thought the key lime was a little bit too sharp.  If you don’t have a lime obsession like me, you should probably stick with regular lime juice.  My favorite brand of lemon and lime juice is Italia Garden. (I’ve included a picture; completely my opinion, not sponsored!)   It has the freshest taste of any that I’ve tried.  I also have tried adding a drop of green food coloring to the lime so it was green and not yellow.  I personally decided I like the natural look better; I thought it looked like a Christmas pie with the green and red.

Make sure and use a nine inch pie plate.  As it is, you will have extra of the strawberry mixture.  I couldn’t figure out how to reduce it so just have a bowl or glass handy to put the extra in and you can serve it with whipped cream, keep it hidden for yourself to eat later. 🙂

The first time I made this pie I gave my kids the option of coconut or regular whipped cream.  All of my kids chose regular.  The next time I covered the whole pie with the coconut whipped cream and they all loved it.  Boy 1 commented that it was way better with the coconut.  Go figure, Mom knows what she’s talking about.  If you’ve never used an emulsion, they are used in place of extracts by professional bakers and contain no alcohol.  This enables the flavor stay more intense and true when exposed to high heat.  I used to have to go to a cake decorating store to find them but they are becoming more popular and most Wal Marts and Hobby Lobbys are now carrying a selection of them.

strawberry-lime2The lime, strawberry and coconut come together to make this pie a tropical dream.  So if you can’t be in paradise, just eat this pie, close your eyes and you’re almost there.

 

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Strawberry Lime Pie with Coconut Cream
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Strawberry Lime Pie with Coconut Cream
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the graham crackers in a blender or food processer and grind down to crumbs the texture of sand. Pour into 9 inch pie plate and add 1/4 cup sugar. Mix together; add melted butter and combine until evenly incorporated. Press the mixture onto the sides and bottom of the pie plate. Set aside. In a mixing bowl place the egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk and lime juice. Whisk together and pour into pie plate. Cook in oven for 12-14 minutes. Take out and allow to cool. After lime layer has cooled, combine water, corn starch and sugar in a pot. Turn on heat to medium high and stir until boiling and the mixture is clear. Add jello and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Turn off oven and allow mixture to cool for 20-30 minutes. Cut strawberries and place them on top of the lime layer. Pour cooled strawberry mixture over the pie until pie is full (there will be extra). Pour extra strawberry mixture into a small bowl and put in the refrigerator; this is extra that you can use however you would like. Put pie in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours. Just before serving pour whipped cream into a mixing bowl. Whip until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, coconut, and vanilla and whip until hard peaks form. Whipped cream can be served on individual pieces, spread over the top of the entire pie, or scooped into a piping bag with a large star tip and piped onto the top of the pie. Enjoy your taste of the tropics!!
Recipe Notes

AnneOpinion

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