Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Crushed Pineapple Fruit Dip

The grocery stores are flooded with strawberries. They have me making my favorite “berry” good recipes!
Today I am “berry” tired. The kind of tired that results from late nights, early mornings, skipped workouts, and Panera’s French Toast bagels for most meals for several days (although delicious, not the best “every meal” food.) Last night I came home from a long busy day and sat on the floor of my closet to take my shoes off. I received a text and laid on my back to rest a bit while I replied. Anticipating a texting conversation, I rested there a minute waiting for the reply. Sometime later, I woke up – realizing I had accidentally fallen asleep- on the floor of my closet. I guess that means I did all I could in a day.
So I’m thinking for a healthier pick me up that will encourage more fresh fruit selections, I will make some Crushed Pineapple Fruit Dip.

Crushed Pineapple Fruit Dip

1 20oz. can crushed pineapple
½ cup sour cream or greek yogurt (or both if you like it extra creamy)
1 small package instant pudding (sugar free or regular, and I’ve tried vanilla, lemon, coconut and banana cream – no complaints- they’re all good)
zest of one lime
1/2 c.-3/4 c. flaked coconut
4 oz. Cool Whip

Thoroughly mix pudding with sour cream and/or yogurt. Stir in pineapple and lime zest. Fold in coconut and Cool Whip. Chill.
This is great with fresh fruit and La Panzanella Sweet Crisps (cinnamon sugar) Croccantini.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Toasted Almond Cinnamon Sugar Pastries

Yesterday, I spent ten minutes making Y a treat for him to take to school as a special occasion for no occasion at all. He loved it. Today, I spent half the day baking these fragile, multi-layer flaky pastries. Why? Simply to prove to myself that I could. The recipe literally lists 40 steps. It’s a great recipe for a day when you are attempting to complete 18 loads of laundry and need an additional diversion from CNN's report on the earthquake/tsunami that kept you up most of the night as you waited to see how your eldest would fair as it hit his little island he currently claims as home. (Recipe from but I renamed it from “Cinnamon Danish”, and made a few changes—of course!)

Toasted Almond Cinnamon-Sugar Pastries

Butter roll-in
• 1 1/2 cups cold butter
• 1/4 cup flour

• 2 (1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast (not rapid rise)
• 1 cup milk, heated to about 110 f
• 2 eggs, at room temperature
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Cinnamon filling
• 4 tablespoons butter (divided in half)
• 1 cup brown sugar (divided in half)
• 4 teaspoons cinnamon (divided in half)
• 4 tablespoons flour (divided in half)
• 1 cup Honey roasted almonds (finely chopped, divided in half)

Egg wash
• 1 egg, beaten
• 1 teaspoon water

• 3/4 lb powdered sugar (Add more if icing is too thin)
• 5 tablespoons milk (Add more if icing is too thick)
• 2 teaspoons vanilla
Prep Time: 3 hrs
Total Time: 1/2 day
1. 1 Make the butter roll-in first.
2. 2 With a pastry blender or two knives (using two knives is actually easier) cut the flour and the 3 sticks of butter together until combined but do not let the butter become warm. The butter should never be allowed to become warm the entire to time you are working with this dough.
3. 3 Tear off a sheet of waxed paper and dump the butter on to it. Place another sheet of waxed paper on top.
4. 4 Beat the the butter between the two sheets of waxed paper with a rolling pin until it becomes malleable. Make sure it stays cold though.
5. 5 With a spatula, a knife or whatever, shape the mound of butter into an 7"x9" rectangle. It doesn't have to be perfect but try to get it into a rectangular shape as best you can.
6. 6 Set aside in a cool spot or place back in the refrigerator while you make the dough, but don't let the butter re-harden. You want the butter to be cold but still soft and pliable. If it's too hard it will break through the dough when you roll it out.
7. 7 For the dough combine the packages of yeast with the warm milk and let sit 5 minutes to soften.
8. 8 Mix in the salt, sugar, and eggs.
9. 9 Add the 3 1/4 cups flour all at once and stir until thoroughly combined. You should have a very soft and sticky dough.
10. 10 Chill dough in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.
11. 11 If the block of butter is in the refrigerator remove it when you place the dough in there to chill. You don't want the butter to re-harden and it's best if the dough and the butter are approximately the same temperature.
12. 12 Sprinkle your work surface generously, and I do mean generously, with flour. I use a shaker to evenly distribute the flour and completely cover the area I'm going to be rolling the dough out on. A simple dusting won't do. You need a good thick layer of flour, maybe as much as a 1/16 to an 1/8 of an inch thick. Don't worry about using too much flour because any excess will be brushed away with your pastry brush.
13. 13 Roll dough out into a 11"x16" rectangle.
14. 14 With a pastry brush brush all the excess flour off the top of the dough. Excess flour will interfere with layer formation.
15. 15 Place the block of butter on one side of the dough leaving a small border around the edges.
16. 16 Fold the other half of the dough over and pinch the seams together slightly to seal to encase the block of butter. If dough sticks to the table when you try to fold it then simply brush it with flour. Don't worry if the dough doesn't look too pretty at this point. It will get better.
17. 17 Turn the dough 1/4 turn so the part of the folded dough that opens up is on your right(like a book). Brush away the excess flour that's on top of the dough.
18. 18 Roll the folded dough into an 8"x20" rectangle. When you roll out the dough you want to make sure you use even strokes and roll from one end to the other. Avoid quick back and forth movements with the rolling pin and do not roll over the edge of your dough. This will destroy the layers you're trying to make. If the butter breaks through the dough simply sprinkle a little bit of flour over the spot.
19. 19 Brush away all excess flour off the top of the dough.
20. 20 Fold 1/3 of the dough over and brush off the excess flour and then fold the other 1/3 of the dough over that so the dough resembles a business letter.
21. 21 Roll out the dough again and fold it in thirds like a business letter just like you did before.
22. 22 Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour. This completes the first two "turns". Each time you roll out the dough and fold it you are doing what's known as a turn. A turn gets its name because after you fold the dough you have to turn it a quarter turn when you go to roll it out again. Each time you roll out the dough you want to make sure that the part of the dough that opens up is always on the right (like the way a book opens). It can open on the left if you want but the important thing is to be consistent.
23. 23 Meanwhile, take your pastry brush and a sheet of paper and sweep up all the flour on your work surface so you can use it again. You'll find that very little of the flour you used to roll out the dough actually gets worked into the dough.
24. 24 After the dough has chilled, sprinkle your work surface with your recycled flour and place the dough on it.
25. 25 Roll out and fold the dough in thirds exactly as you did before. (turn #3).
26. 26 Chill dough for 1 more hour.
27. 27 Repeat this rolling and folding one more time (turn # 4). You should now have a dough with 162 flaky layers (2x3x3x3x3). You started with two layers of dough separated by a layer of butter. Each time you rolled the dough out and folded it in thirds you increased the number of layers by a factor of 3.
28. 28 Chill dough for at least 3 hours or overnight if preferred. At this point you have a basic Danish pastry dough.
29. 29 With a sharp serrated knife, cut the dough in half.
30. 30 Keep one half in the refrigerator while you work with the first half.
31. 31 Roll the half of dough into a 9"x16" rectangle.
32. 32 Sprinkle the top of the dough with the cinnamon topping which consists of 2 tablespoons of melted butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 2 tablespoons flour, and 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans.
33. 33 Roll dough into a tight 16" long log.
34. 34 Cut dough into 16 pieces. The easiest way to do this is to cut the log in half and then cut those halves in half and so forth. If dough is too soft to slice wrap it up and refrigerate it for an hour or place it in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes.
35. 35 Place cinnamon rolls on ungreased baking sheets at least 3 inches apart so they have room to rise and expand.
36. 36 Repeat with the other half of the dough.
37. 37 Cover the trays of cinnamon rolls with towels and set aside to rise until the rolls are ALMOST doubled (about a 75% increase in size). Don't put them in a warm spot because you don't want the butter to melt. Rising time may take a few hours or more. After a couple hours the surface of the rolls may start to dry out, especially if the air is dry. If this happens, cover the tray of rolls with a damp paper towel and then put another towel on top of that.
38. 38 Brush rolls lightly with egg wash and bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until they are golden brown. Be sure to watch them carefully so they don't burn. If rolls are browning too fast on top lower the oven temperature about 15 degrees. If you have thin or dark colored baking sheets you may want to double-pan them so the bottoms of the cinnamon rolls don't get too dark.
39. 39 Drizzle powdered sugar icing over the rolls while they are still warm.
40. 40 To make icing simply combine powdered sugar with a teaspoon or two of vanilla and enough milk so you can drizzle it. I usually use about 3/4 to 1 pound of powdered sugar. As far as the amount of milk goes, I just kind of eyeball it.

So- I challenge you to make these- and let me know what you think!
My daughter claims they are scrump-deliocious!!

Reese's Cheesecake Chocloate Layer Cake

Way too many highs and subsequent lows in my kids lives lately- nothing too serious; just everyday teenager "stuff". It reminds me how important it is that home be a warm, happy, safe place to come back to.
B returns home in about a month following his first year at college. He has chosen to defer his schooling for the next two years and serve a mission for The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints. He received a call to serve in Salt Lake City, Utah --spanish speaking. He reports to begin his training on June 22nd. He is ready to dedicate this time to serve others searching for Christ.
Y is still pulling straight A's deep into his junior year. He appreciates the friends he has and the relationship he has with his dad. However, he is ready to reunite with his best friend and brother in a few weeks. In the meantime, he is learning and competing in a new sport. Ups and downs seem to follow him with every sport he plays. I'm trying to be grateful for the humility-based character that is being developed.
J has turned twelve. Although technically not a teenager, it's obvious the struggles have arrived. She is trying to balance the success she has in school and sports with identifying that (according to mom and dad) there is still more for her to learn.
Just a typical day in my life. Today, I'm not feeling defeated or exhausted by our family's course. Rather I'm content with the assurance and knowledge that these experiences will be for our good. Nevertheless, I wish I could have a piece of this cake while I wait up for Y to finish his homework. I made it a few weeks ago. It's not likely I will attempt it again based on how many hours it took. But it looks good, doesn't it?