Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Light(er) desserts: Peach Crisp

As much as I would love to make pie-crust or otherwise butter-based fruit cobbler every day, I find that if I make desserts that are made out of better ingredients I can

a) eat more of them and
b) not feel so bad about making them very often.

Enter Peach or Apple or Blueberry or (insert fruit here) Crisp.

Fruit Crisp

2-3 lbs fruit, cut into bite-size pieces
1 c oatmeal
1/4 to 1/3 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 stick butter

Place fruit in a 8x8" pan. Mix oatmeal, brown sugar and cinnamon together. Either melt butter or, if you're lazy like me, slice butter thin and throw it on top. Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes or until fruit is soft (my peaches were rock-hard.)

....and top with Cool-Whip.

Yes, I said it. I'm sorry. At least one person reading this blog has just turned their head away from this post in complete disgust. Cool Whip was an integral part of my childhood and even while watching a very disturbing movie about corn I can't help but notice the Cool Whip was delish.

Lots of love (and lots of dessert, even for breakfast),

Vanilla Fig Jam

Vanilla Fig Jam

Mr. O and I headed to Costco the other day to stock up on things like bulk meat, 12 pounds of baking soda (um?) and of course, dried cherries. I made the mistake of heading into the produce section; first because it was freezing, and second because I found a two-pound carton of fresh figs for $6.98 where other figs were $8 for a pound at the local grocery store. I jumped on the opportunity to try fresh figs (as my previous encounters had been ten years ago in the 'Newton' form. Figs and goat cheese are good, but figs go soft quickly. Enter fig jam! I had no pectin so I had to improvise and go old-school.

Vanilla Fig Jam

a scant less than 2 lbs figs, almost too ripe
3/4 c sugar
1/4 c water
2 vanilla beans, seeds removed and scraped into pan
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Cut figs into 1 cm-size pieces. Add to rest of ingredients and simmer/keep on low heat for two hours or until jam-like consistency. Try not to eat the entire spoon when you put it in your mouth. Freeze in small containers and use throughout winter.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

50th post - Potato Mash

Happy 50th post! That's a lot of food.

Today, I present to you one of my favorite foods in the world: mashed potatoes.

This particular variant features caramelized onions, sour cream and lots of love. My secret? The Black and Decker drill hand mixer.

Now, off to start a new semester.

Mint Julep cupcakes (with white chocolate frosting and no less than two kinds of alcohol)

A few months back, a graduate school cohort of mine had to move away. (She was going to work for the Library of Congress - boo hoo on having to move, right?)

Thankfully, most librarians seem to also be foodies. Or at least, they really love to cook.

I got a lot of alcohol that I wouldn't normally drink (along with some ingredients like pomegranate molasses that I still haven't figured out what to make of.)

Another good friend of mine moved away to California a short while ago and, since she seriously shares my passion for cooking, I ended up with a fridge full of condiments which have gone to good use.

But then, I started thinking. I have all this alcohol from the last person. What am I going to do when someone else moves? I'm like a veritable shelter for unwanted condiments whose owners were moving away. Sniff! But at this rate, I will be up to my eyeballs in awesome stuff before I can make anything out of it.

The large bottle of creme de menthe patiently sat in the back of my (1 foot square) liquor cabinet. It stared. "Drink me. You'll love it." But I had a strong feeling that creme de menthe has to be taken in doses.

Mint julep cupcakes to the rescue!

I added a lot of alcohol to these twelve cupcakes. And then, since the alcohol was taken out by baking, I doused them in some Jack Daniels I've been steeping with vanilla beans.

And I added some green food coloring, because the creme de menthe left them a wussy pastel green.

Well, they sure were potent.

As you all may have noticed, I take my pictures outside. My balcony afforded a particularly pleasant and green day, so I thought the cupcakes could use a more natural green than the food coloring inundated in their beings.

Cupcake recipe here, from Cooking and Booking. Frosting recipe here. Also add about 1/2 to 1 tb Jack Daniels after cooled and before frosting.