Come along with me as I journal about my latest cooking and gardening adventures. Discover what grows in my zone five garden, and see what new recipes I try from my cookbook collection each week.

As I share recipes and information from my kitchen, I invite readers to comment and share ideas along with me in this blog. I am looking to increase followers to my blog, so that I may learn more about cooking and gardening.

Since moving to Midland, Michigan, I have been reading and researching many cooking journals, cookbooks and collected recipes from the past thirty years. Organizing pictures of gardens I enjoy has also been a joy for me, as I continue to learn about garden design and horticulture.

angel food cakes

angel food cakes
this kitchen is seasoned with love

Sunday, July 15, 2012

fruit tarts

every summer, my daughter asks me to make this fruit tart.  it has been one of her favorites over the years.  it is a very quick dessert, and can be made with a traditional pie crust, a graham cracker crust or with a chocolate cookie crumb crust that i used for the chocolate raspberry tart posted earlier on this blog.

any type of fruit can be used.  i have used raspberries and blackberries in this version.  in the past, i have used raspberries, strawberries, blueberries or kiwi.

after the crust is prepared, make the delicious filling.  start with an 8 ounce package of cream cheese that has been softened.  i use low fat cream cheese.  add 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon of frozen orange juice concentrate.  mix with a hand mixer until very smooth.  add 1/2 cup of whipping cream and incorporate into the cheese mixture. 

fold the filling in the crust.  chill the tart and serve.  if desired, a fruit glaze can be used over the added fruit.

to make the glaze:  use 2 tablespoons honey and 1 tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate.  mix and brush lightly over the fruit.

eight layer salad

last week, we had salads week here at 6110.  when the summer heat doesn't fade, the best type of dinner is a fresh cool salad. for years, people have made the famous seven layer salad, but this one has an extra layer of flavor.  the recipe comes from a 2000 southern living magazine, so i have made this salad many times over the years.

one of the key tips to preparing this recipe is the clear tall sided glass bowl.  try to find a clear bowl or pedestal bowl to present the eight layer salad.

to make the salad, layer these ingredients.  begin with torn iceberg lettuce, add chopped green onions, chopped green bell pepper, chopped celery, chopped red bell pepper, frozen peas that have been thawed, dry roasted peanuts, and then top with shredded Monterrey or Swiss cheese.

using a low calorie mayonnaise or canola mayonnaise, thin with milk and then cover the salad.  sprinkle sugar over the mayonnaise, and the top the salad with cooked and crumbled bacon.  of course, the bacon can be omitted. 

chill this salad for at least 4 hours prior to serving.  this eight layer salad can even be chilled 8 hours prior to serving.  when ready to serve, stir and mix the ingredients.

this is a perfect luncheon or dinner main entree salad.  adjust the amount of ingredients to serve your guests.  this large salad will serve 6-to 8 main dish servings.

neiman marcus chicken salad

a couple of years ago, Neiman Marcus published their recipe for their well known cafe chicken salad.  this has been a favorite of many lunchtime visitors over the years.  Sauveur magazine was the lucky recipient of the first publishing of their mixture.  the secret ingredient is whipping cream.  other than that, the ingredients are similar to other chicken salad recipes out in cookbooks today.

to make the chicken salad: grill 1-2 chicken breasts ahead of time and allow to cool.  if i am serving this for a dinner entree, i grill the chicken early in the day and then slice into small cubes in the afternoon.  this makes the salad assembly go very quickly.  toss the cooled and refrigerated chicken with about 1/2 cup of low fat or canola mayonnaise.  then add 1/2 to 1 cup chopped celery, 1/2 to cup halved seedless red grapes, 1/2 cup of sliced almonds, 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley chopped, salt and pepper to taste.  then, thin the entire mixture with whipping cream or whipped cream.  either way, the taste of the chicken salad improves with the addition of the cream.  and, the texture is far more creamy than most chicken salads made with mayonnaise.

serve over bibb or Boston lettuce leaves.  i use those grown hydroponically, as the taste is very fresh and crisp.  adjust the ingredients to the number of people served.  one chicken breast with 1/2 cup of each ingredients makes about 3 generous servings.
this is a perfect entree salad for a lunch or dinner.  served with muffin and a side of fresh fruit, it would be a lovely offering for a lunch with the ladies.

chocolate raspberry tart

this simple tart will impress your guests every time.  from the chefs at everyday food, one of Martha's magazines, the chocolate raspberry tart can be adapted to many changes.  it could be served with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, or even prepared with a graham cracker crust if desired.  this tart will keep overnight in the refrigerator.  any fruit could be used as a topping, but add the fruit just before serving.  the filling is very firm, so the raspberries will not sink into the filling after it is chilled.

to make the tart crust, which can be used for any type of tart:  preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  in a processor, combine 8 ounces of chocolate wafer cookies or use precrushed Oreo crumbs.  add 2 tablespoons of sugar and a few sprinkles of coarse salt.  then melt 3/4 stick or 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter.  add and stir.  fill a 9 inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and place on a baking sheet.  bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, and then allow time to cool.

next, make the filling.  in a bowl, add 12 ounces of semisweet chocolate and a pinch of salt. a combination of chocolate could also be used. then, in a small saucepan, bring 1 and 1/4 cups of heavy cream to a slight simmer.  pour the warm cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 1 minute.  stir until the chocolate melts and mixes with the cream evenly.  this make take a few minutes.
place melted chocolate into the cooled tart crust and place in the refrigerator at least for 30 or more minutes prior to serving. decorate with fruit.  select from strawberries, raspberries, peaches, or kiwi.

this is a delicious tart and will be enjoyed by your guests for any summer event.

easy ice cream sandwiches

for the fourth of July this year, i needed an easy festive dessert.  i have made ice cream sandwiches for many years now. however, this year, i tried using waffle cookies.  i purchased these at trader joe's, but they are available in many markets. these cookies are thin.  they do break easily, so caution is given when smoothing the ice cream between the layers.  the ice cream needs to be soft enough not to break the cookie, but firm enough to stay within the cookies to allow for the sprinkles to be added.

i simply used my homemade strawberry ice cream and then added red, white and blue sprinkles to the sides. 

freeze these wrapped in waxed paper or foil.  freeze until firm and then enjoy !

strawberry smoothie

one of the very best things about the summer months is enjoying smoothies.  recently, celebrities have been even discussing what they put into their own smoothie recipes.  smoothies have been around for years, formerly called shakes.  i think since many fast food restaurants serve shakes, the foodies of the world gave their recipe a new name.  however, the ingredients are often surprisingly similar.

for my summer fruit smoothies, i use about 1/2 cup of fruit or one cup of mixed fruit.  for example, i use 1/2 cup of strawberries, or 1/2 cup of strawberries with 1/2 cup of banana.

to the fruit choices, i add 1/2 to 2/3 cup of frozen vanilla yogurt or ice cream, and 1/2 cup of milk or fat free half and half.

using my blender, i mix the ingredients well and serve with whipped cream.
for chocolate smoothies, i use frozen yogurt, half and half and then 2 tablespoons of nestle nesquick.  a 99 cent package will last the whole summer.
other options for smoothies include using frozen fruit, such as peaches, raspberries, and blueberries.  caution is always required when using frozen fruit, as blender strengths vary. flavorings can also be added to taste.