Tag Archives: fruit

Recipe testing

3 Sep

So the best part of my job is recipe testing. I get to take ingredients that I have in the house, an idea I have in my head and create. Literally, I get to play with my food. This week I gave myself a challenge. Only go to the grocery store once. It doesn’t seem like that would be such a challenge, but trust me it is. I went to the store on Monday, it’s now Thursday and here’s what I’ve made so far:

Pasta with homemade red sauce

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

Cheesesteak eggrolls with Pespi BBQ sauce

Pineapple Upside down cupcakes

Sweet and Sour jerk chicken with orange couscous

Bleu Cheese risotto with corn, zucchini, and turkey

And about six different breakfast burritos

What does all this testing give me? Well not only does it help me develop new and exciting things to eat, but it also helps me practice the techniques that I learned in school. I like taking recipes that I’ve found online, or in a cookbook and making them my own. The eggrolls we obviously inspired by normal Chinese eggroll, but were also inspired by some of the findings in frozen food aisle. Have you ever looked at what’s in those frozen appetizer bites? Well let me enlighten you. It’s salt. Salt is cheap and makes things taste good. By making them yourself you control the amount of salt and can actually eat more of them. Chicken Cheesesteak Eggrolls

The BBQ sauce that accompany them is my own recipe. Yes, you can make your own BBQ sauce. I mean the stuff in the bottle doesn’t just magically appear there. Again, by making it on your own you can control what’s going into it. Like it spicy? Add chili peppers. Like it sweet? Add brown sugar, honey, or onions. I used ketchup as a base for mine with the surprise ingredient of Pepsi. It wound up being very sweet up front and then finishing spicy in the back of your throat. Perfect for me.

The jerk chicken was something that I have been craving for a few days. I made my own jerk seasoning since I didn’t have any on the spice shelf. In general the jerk spice blends that I’ve gotten at the store have been pretty good. McCormick has a good one and it saves time and money to just buy the jar. But it you have a decent supply of spices already and you you can spare a few minutes you can make it at home. Here’s my recipe for jerk spice:

Jerk Spice:

IMG_07842 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

combine and store in airtight container for up to 2 months

I used the jerk seasoning on chicken, onions and pineapple. Sort of a Caribbean stir-fry. I added black beans and basil and then served it over orange couscous. Surprisingly, Ryan really liked it. It had a really nice sweet but spicy flavor and the extra bursts of sweetness from the pineapple really made the dish pop. This one is definitely a keeper. Next time I might add a little diced red pepper to add some color.

The other ventures were just as exciting. The Pineapple cakes were also a big hit. (In case you were wondering, I had a whole pineapple that I needed to use so that’s why there are so many recipes involving the fruit.) It’s making it really fun not being able to go out for more ingredients. Tonight’s menu holds tuna melts, and baked apple dumplings. I hope I have everything for the dumplings. The weather is turning and I think a little fall-ish dessert is in order.

Always thinking of the next meal


Peachy Keen

12 Aug

So there’s nothing better in my mind than super seasonal fruit. Right now that super seasonal fruit is peaches! My Mom and I went to the farmer’s market when I was in Florida and the peaches were calling to us. My dad is a huge fan of cobblers and we had peaches so naturally I had to make peach cobbler.

In case your wondering… a cobbler was named because the top looked like the uneven cobbles of the street. The way it differs from a crisp is that it is typically topped with a dough that is similar to a biscuit or shortcake rather than a nut/oatmeal/butter mixture. IMG_0730The cool thing about the the following recipe is that if you really aren’t feeling up to making the “cobbler” part, you can just use the refrigerator biscuits or Bisquick mix. Enough Suspense…

Peach Cobbler

serves 3

3 peaches, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon butter

Combine ingredients thoroughly. Put equal amounts into 3 small oven-safe ramekins

1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4-1/2 cup cold water

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Cut butter into small pieces and using your finger tips combine into the dry ingredients. (Using the biscuit method) Add water in small amounts until the dough comes together and feels wet but isn’t runny. Add spoonfuls of the dough on top of the fruit and bake at 425 for 30-35 minutes.

So this recipe can be tweaked by changing out the fruit (use whatever is in season) or like I said earlier, using biscuit shortcuts. I topped mine with vanilla ice cream but whipped cream or creme anglaise would be great too if you’re feeling particularly gourmet.IMG_0728IMG_0729

Always thinking of the next meal


It’s good, plain and simple

3 Aug

There are few things is life that we can control. As much as we try to keep things in order, ultimately it’s fate, or God, or the universe (or whatever else you believe) that is making the world turn. Interestingly enough, this applies to food. Food looks good in the store and as you go to enjoy that luscious looking peach, you notice it’s too firm, lacking in any sweetness and tastes more like softball than a piece of fruit.

Hopefully you are reading this saying to yourself… What is she talking about? I’ve never had a peach that’s less than the peak of perfection… but, if you’re not, read on.

Let’s face it, even if you’ve never had a formal education on how to recognize the best produce, you know that there are times when food is good and food is amazing. Let me enlighten you on a few points that will make that produce gamble have better odds.

First: Enter the grocery store, or market, or street vendor stand and be prepared to be intimate with your fruit. Yes, intimate… Mom if you’re reading this stop blushing…

I’ll stick with the peach example (although this technique will work for almost all fruits). Choose a peach that looks bright in color with even blushing. That means a pretty peach that changes from yellow to orange and red. Hold it in your hand. Does it feel heavy for its size? Can you see any discolorations or obvious bruising? Do you feel any soft spots?

Next- SMELL the fruit! I’m telling you…bring it right to your sniffer and smell it. It should smell very sweet and peachy (duh).

If your selection meets all of these requirements? If it does buy it baby! If it doesn’t keep repeating this technique until you find some winners. Nothing working? Buy frozen. Truthfully, there is nothing worse than spending too much money on bad fruit.

Oh, and know when you are planning on consuming this fruit. If it will be awhile, purchasing slightly under ripe produce is smart (and certainly better than ripe fruit rotting before you can get to it). Eating it the same day and you are good to go.

Always thinking of the next meal (and now thinking about eating a peach)