It’s cherry season and the cherries are out in full force. I see them everywhere – at the farmer’s market, in the grocery stores, on street vendor’s tables – and they’re absolutely delicious! So dark and sweet and juicy.
I picked up a sackful from the store yesterday and decided to make them into a fresh cherry cobbler. I love fruit cobblers, don’t you? Especially when they’re just out of the oven and served warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream melting on the side. Yum! As an added bonus, they make the house smell so good while they’re baking, too!
If you have a cherry pitter, use it. It sure makes the work of pitting each cherry a lot easier. I used to be the Room Mom for my kids’ kindergarten classes and one year, as a thank you gift, the children gave me a pretty white basket filled with fresh cherries. Tied to the basket’s handle with a red-and-white checkered ribbon was a silver cherry pitter. I still have that same cherry pitter to this day. It’s proven to be a mighty useful contraption over the years.
FRESH CHERRY COBBLER
4 cups fresh cherries
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 can evaporated milk (or 2 cups fresh milk)
1 cup butter, melted
¼ cup demerara sugar (or plain white sugar), optional
Wash, stem, and remove the pits from the cherries. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 9×13 pyrex glass baking dish.
Using a wire whisk, whisk the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.
Empty the can of evaporated milk into a measuring cup and add enough water or fresh milk to make it amount to 2 cups.
Add the milk and melted butter into the flour mixture and whisk together well. Batter will be thin.
Pour batter into prepared baking pan.
Scatter the cherries over the top of the batter, distributing them evenly so you get a cherry in every bite.
Sprinkle the top with the ¼ cup demerara sugar, if using.
Bake for about 50 minutes or until top turns light brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
NOTE: You can make this cobbler with blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, peaches or any other fruit you like.
This recipe can easily be halved and baked in a 9-inch square pan for a smaller cobbler.
When you’re looking for a nice accompaniment to a bowl of hot soup or a refreshing salad, you need look no further than this cheesy garlic bread. I even just eat it by itself for a light meal. It’s so yummy and addictive. It’s hard to stop at one slice.
If you want, you could also slice your loaf in half horizontally, then spread the filling on each bread half and bake them till the topping is hot and bubbly. When done, cut the bread into one-inch slices and serve warm. M-m-m!
THREE-CHEESE GARLIC BREAD
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup mayonnaise
1 stick butter, at room temperature
4-6 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 stalks green onions, chopped
1 loaf French or Italian bread (not sourdough)
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
In a bowl, combine the cheeses, mayonnaise, butter, garlic, and green onions.
Slice bread into ½-inch thick slices.
Spread cheese mixture on each slice of bread and arrange on baking sheet.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cheese is hot and bubbly.
I had a bunch of blueberries that I needed to use up. Today didn’t feel like a blueberry pie kind of day so I decided to make cake instead. Blueberries and lemon form the perfect sweet and sour flavor combination. Specially if you get blueberries when they’re in season and are at their peak, practically bursting with juicy sweetness. This recipe makes a super moist cake that’s great for breakfast or for an afternoon snack with a nice cup of hot tea.
Speaking of which, I saw a picture somewhere (probably on Pinterest) of a blueberry cake that was cut in small little rounds so I decided to try doing that. I baked one loaf cake with half my batter, but poured the other half of the batter into an 8-inch round pan to make a thinner cake which I cut into little circles with a mini-biscuit cutter. Don’t those look adorable? How perfect for a dessert table or for my annual Mother’s Day tea party!
BLUEBERRY LEMON BREAD
2 cups fresh blueberries
3 cups flour + 2 tbsp. for tossing with blueberries
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup milk
1 cup plain yogurt (can substitute sour cream)
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon
1 tsp. vanilla or lemon extract
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. butter, melted
¼ cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease bottom and sides of two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans.
Toss blueberries in 2 tbsp. flour. This helps keep them from sinking to the bottom of the loaf. Set aside.
Combine 3 cups flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
In another bowl, whisk eggs together; then whisk in melted butter, milk, yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla.
Pour into dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
Gently fold blueberries into batter.
Divide batter into prepared pans and bake for 50 to 60 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from pans.
Make topping by mixing lemon juice and melted butter together.
Brush lemon-butter mixture on top of loaves.
Sprinkle with a heavy layer of sugar while tops are still wet.
NOTE: My kids love the crunchy sugar topping made by sprinkling granulated sugar over the loaves, but if you prefer to have a glaze for the topping, just omit the butter, replace the granulated sugar with 1 cup of powdered sugar, and stir in 2-3 tbsp. of lemon juice till it reaches a good consistency for drizzling.
A nice trick to help you remove a cake from a loaf pan is to line the bottom of the loaf pan with a strip of parchment paper long enough to go up the short sides and stick out at least a couple of inches past the edge of the pan on either side. After your cake has cooled for 10 minutes, grasp the ends of the parchment paper that stick out past the loaf pan and use them like handles to lift the cake up and out. You can then tip the cake on its side to peel the parchment strip off.
I had to take some appetizers to a party so decided to make mini seafood potpies. I love potpies but we usually make them with chicken. I thought seafood would make a nice change. You could do this with shrimp only or crab only. Or you can add lobster or scallops for more varied seafood. Just make sure your combination of seafood totals half a pound. If you like, you can double the filling recipe to make one deep dish potpie.
The first time I tried artichoke dip was at a restaurant in San Francisco. It was to die for. They served it with thin, crispy tortilla chips. The dip was warm, cheesy, gooey, in short, everything you want in a dip. One bite and I was a fan for life.
This dip is easy to prepare. If you have a food processor, you could throw everything except the artichoke hearts in there and get it all blended together. Then add the artichoke hearts last and pulse them a few times so they’re chopped but not mush. Scrape it all into your gratin dish and bake.
HOT ARTICHOKE DIP
1 pkg. (8 ozs.) cream cheese, softened
½ cup mayonnaise
1 can (14 ozs.) artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped
2 green onions, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup shredded mozzarella
½ cup grated parmesan
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth.
Beat in mayonnaise until well combined.
Add remaining ingredients and stir together well.
Transfer mixture to a pie plate or shallow gratin dish.
Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until mixture is bubbling and top is golden brown.
Serve hot with bread, crackers, tortilla chips, or veggies.
This dish is a Tex-Mex favorite. In fact, I hear you can’t go to a church social or potluck down in Texas without seeing one version or other of this dish on the table. It’s not surprising because not only is it delicious, but it can be made ahead of time and it travels well.
You can make a low-fat version of this dish by substituting reduced fat cream of mushroom soup, reduced fat cream of chicken soup, and reduced fat cheese. It turns out just as yummy.
I like to serve this dish with some sour cream and salsa on the side. I never have any leftovers when I make it. Try making this easy recipe for your next weeknight dinner or office potluck and you’ll see what I mean.
KING RANCH CHICKEN CASSEROLE
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped (can substitute red bell pepper)
1 can (10 oz.) Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or use your favorite – I like Mexican blend)
2 stalks green onion, chopped (optional for garnish)
Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet.
Sauté onion, bell pepper and poblano pepper until onions start to become translucent.
Stir in chicken, soups, Rotel, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
Remove skillet from heat.
Tear 4 tortillas into 1-inch pieces and scatter on bottom of prepared baking dish.
Top with 1/3 of chicken mixture and 1 cup cheese. NOTE: It’ll seem like you don’t have enough chicken mixture to fill the layer to the edges of the dish, but don’t worry. Just spread the filling really thin. It’s okay to have some empty spots. Once you bake it, it’ll all fill in and be just fine.
Tear 4 more tortillas into pieces and make a second layer of tortillas, 1/3 chicken mixture and 1 cup cheese.
Tear the last 4 tortillas to make a final layer with the last of the chicken mixture and top with 2 cups of cheese.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until casserole is bubbling and cheese is browning at the edges.
If desired, garnish with chopped green onion before serving.
NOTE: This casserole can be made ahead of time and refrigerated up to 2 days, or frozen for up to 1 month. To cook from frozen, thaw in refrigerator overnight, then bake as directed.
This recipe is a play on traditional Nachos, except instead of tortilla chips, you use tater tots. It makes a hearty and delicious appetizer, or can be served for a yummy brunch dish. Try to have whatever toppings you’ve chosen all ready to go so that as soon as the cheese is melted over the tater tots, you can pile on your toppings and serve right away. The longer the tater tots sit with the toppings on them, the less crunchy they become. Not that that’s a bad thing. My family just prefers them crunchy.
1 bag (2 lbs.) frozen tater tots
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream, thinned with a little water or milk till pourable
fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
chorizo, removed from casing, crumbled and cooked
refried beans or black beans
diced red onion
sliced black olives
whole kernel corn
sliced pickled jalapeños
pico de gallo, or your favorite salsa
Line a jellyroll pan with foil.
Arrange tater tots in single layer on baking pan and bake according to package directions until brown and crispy.
Remove from oven and sprinkle cheese over tater tots.
If necessary, return to oven and bake just until cheese is all melted.
Remove from oven and top with any combination of the toppings listed above. You can use as much or as little as you like of the toppings.
Everybody knows Pillsbury’s famous Taco Crescent Ring. Well, this is a play on that recipe but made into a yummy breakfast dish. I just love crescent roll dough, don’t you? It’s so versatile and you can do so much with it from sweet desserts to savory meals. This recipe is really easy to put together and is great for a breakfast or brunch shindig.
CRESCENT BREAKFAST WREATH
1 can (8-ozs.) crescent roll dough
breakfast meat: ½ lb. bulk breakfast sausage, browned; or ½ lb. ham, chopped; or 8 slices of bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
¼ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped green or red bell pepper
1 cup frozen hash browns
6 eggs, beaten
1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, colby, monterey jack, or any kind you like)
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper. (I didn’t have any so I used waxed paper.)
Unroll crescent roll dough and separate into eight triangles.
Arrange triangles in a circle on prepared cookie sheet with the short ends of the triangles towards the center and overlapping a little, and the long ends pointing outwards to form a sun shape.
Fry the onions, bell pepper, and hash browns in a large frying pan until potatoes begin to brown.
Remove from heat, add cooked meat to hash brown mixture and stir together well.
Scramble the eggs in a skillet until eggs are almost cooked but still moist.
Stir scrambled eggs into hash brown mixture.
Spoon filling over overlapping portion of crescent rolls, using your hands to help press and shape the filling into a ring.
Pull points of triangles up over filling and tuck under dough in center to form a ring.
Carefully sprinkle cheese over top of ring.
Bake 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and crescent rolls are golden brown.
Cool slightly to allow filling to set.
Slice into wedges and serve.
NOTE: To transfer the wreath to a serving platter, carefully run a spatula between the ring and the parchment paper to separate them, then slide the wreath onto the platter.
No, nobody died. So why “funeral potatoes” you ask? Well, you know how people always bring food to a wake or a funeral when someone passes away? Funeral Potatoes are one of those dishes that’s frequently brought to that somber gathering. Hence, the name. It’s basically a simple potato casserole made with frozen hash browns. There are many versions of the recipe floating around out there. This is how I make mine. It’s super easy to prepare and everyone always likes it. The best part is, it’s not just for funerals. You can serve it any time of the year. It makes a great side dish for a busy weeknight dinner with the kids. I’m actually making it for Easter Sunday brunch this year.
1 bag (28-32 oz.) frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
¼ – ½ cup butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 can (10½ oz.) cream of chicken soup
1 can (10½ oz.) cream of potato soup
1 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
¼ cup fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped (optional)
2 cups French’s crispy fried onions
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Take hash browns out of the freezer and set them on the counter to thaw a little while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. This makes them easier to mix.
Melt ¼ cup butter in a skillet. If you want more buttery potatoes, you can melt up to ½ cup.
Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent but not brown.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sauteed onions, soups, sour cream, cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and parsley, if using.
Stir in the hash browns until well-combined.
Spread mixture into a 9×13 casserole dish.
Sprinkle French’s fried onions on top.
Bake for 40-50 minutes or until sides begin to bubble and top is golden brown.
TOPPING VARIATIONS: Toss 4 tbsp. melted butter with 1½ cups panko bread crumbs, or crushed crackers, or crushed cornflakes, or crushed potato chips.
Tiramisu is a very popular Italian dessert. It’s not a very old recipe. In fact, it’s said to have been created in the 1960s. These days, you can find it offered in practically every Italian restaurant all over the world. Tiramisu is typically made with mascarpone cheese, eggs, sugar, and ladyfingers that have been dipped in espresso. It’s rich and creamy and so delicious that you’ll be tempted to have a second and a third piece!
Mascarpone cheese is pretty easy to find nowadays, but if you can’t get it in your local grocery store, you can substitute 1 box (8 ozs.) of cream cheese, blended with ¼ cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons butter. (You would have to double that for this recipe.)
2 cups boiling-hot water
3 Tbsp. instant espresso powder
2 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. coffee liqueur, like Tia Maria or Kahlua
6 large egg yolks
¾ cup sugar
16 ozs. mascarpone cheese
1 cup chilled heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla
24 to 46 ladyfingers or savoiardi cookies (depending on how big your cookies are)
unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting
Stir together water, espresso powder, 2 tablespoons sugar, and coffee liqueur in a shallow bowl or pie plate until sugar has dissolved, then set aside to cool.
Using a wire whisk or hand mixer, beat egg yolks and ¾ cup sugar together in a double boiler set over gently simmering water until tripled in volume, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Add the mascarpone and beat until well incorporated, 2 to 3 minutes.
Cover and place in refrigerator while you prepare the vanilla cream.
In another bowl, beat cream until stiff peaks form, then beat in vanilla.
Gently fold one-third vanilla cream into mascarpone mixture to lighten it.
Then gently fold in remaining cream until thoroughly combined, taking care not to deflate the cream. Mixture will look lumpy. I have no idea why it does that. Don’t worry about it. It’ll still taste good.
Quickly dunk each ladyfinger in the cooled coffee until the coffee soaks about halfway through, leaving the center of the cookie dry (you can break one in half to check). Don’t get the ladyfingers completely saturated or you’ll end up with a layer of unrecognizable, soggy mush. Gently shake off excess coffee and lay soaked ladyfingers in 9×13 pyrex glass baking dish, lining them up to completely cover the bottom. If you need to, you can break some of the ladyfingers to create a snug fit.
Spread half of mascarpone filling on top of the ladyfinger layer.
Dip remaining ladyfingers one by one in coffee and arrange in second layer over mascarpone cream.
Spread remaining mascarpone cream evenly on top of second layer of ladyfingers.
Cover and chill in refrigerator until set, at least 4-6 hours.
Before serving, dust top generously with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh sieve.
You can substitute 2 cups freshly brewed espresso or double-strength drip coffee for the water and instant espresso powder.
Tiramisu can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before serving.
If you don’t have a double boiler, you can make one by setting a heatproof glass bowl on top of a pan of gently simmering water, as pictured below.