This is an old Pampered Chef recipe that I learned to make many years ago. It’s very easy to do because the crust is made from refrigerated cookie dough. You can lay the fruit in any pattern or design you want. It makes a very pretty presentation and is sure to wow your dinner guests when you serve it. Little do they know how simple it was to make!
1 roll (16.5 oz) refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 box (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
⅓ cup sugar
4 cups assorted fresh fruit such as strawberries, kiwi, peaches, blueberries, raspberries, etc.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
For the crust, shape the cookie dough into a ball.
Place ball in center of a cookie sheet or pizza pan and flatten it lightly with the palm of your hand.
Roll out the dough to a 12-inch circle using a lightly floured rolling pin.
Bake the sugar cookie crust for 18-20 minutes or until light golden brown.
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until well combined.
Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the top of the cookie crust.
Arrange fruit over the cream cheese mixture in any design or pattern you want.
NOTE: For a large 16-inch pizza like the one I have pictured, just double the recipe.
Here’s a picture of another one I made for a different occasion. As you can see, the design possibilities are endless with all the fruit combinations you can come up with.
Mango Lassi is a popular drink in India where the climate is frequently sweltering. The yogurt-based drink makes a great treat on a hot day and is perfect for cooling down those spicy Indian curries. My understanding is that traditional lassi is actually a savory drink, made by blending plain yogurt with water, salt, and spices like cumin or mint. I’ve only ever had sweet lassi which is made by blending yogurt with sugar, fruit, and sometimes rosewater. My favorite is mango lassi, though you could use other fruit if you like.
Mango Lassi is so refreshing and addictive. It’s also very easy to make. The hardest part is getting your hands on some good mangoes like the ones from the Philippines. They’re thin-skinned and juicy and very sweet, unlike the fibrous ones that come from South America. Alphonso mangoes are a good choice and can be found more easily in the U.S., especially in Asian food stores.
2 cups mango puree (3 to 5 mangoes, depending on how big they are)
This recipe is one of those that’s been around forever under one name or another. It was given to me by one of the nurses at work. She’s been making it for years and she said it’s always a hit at her house. I’m glad I got the recipe from her because it was a hit with my family, too, though I did tweak it a little (as always). I increased the peaches, cut down on the sugar, and added vanilla extract. I can tell it’s going to become a favorite at our family get-togethers and at potlucks, too. This one is a definite keeper!
PEACHES AND CREAM CAKE
1½ cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 pkgs. (3.4 oz. each) cook & serve vanilla pudding (do not use instant)
1 cup milk
6 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 large (29 oz. each) cans sliced peaches
2 pkgs. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
¾ cup sugar
6 Tbsp. peach syrup from can
½ tsp. vanilla extract
cinnamon-sugar, for sprinkling on top (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9×13 pyrex glass baking dish.
Drain both cans of peaches, reserving 6 tablespoons of syrup for later.
In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, and vanilla puddings together.
Add milk, butter, and eggs.
Beat together with an electric mixer, about 3-4 minutes.
Spread in prepared baking dish.
Arrange peach slices to cover top of batter.
Beat cream cheese in a bowl until smooth.
Add sugar, peach syrup, and vanilla, and beat until well-combined.
Spoon over peaches, then smooth with a spatula.
Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar over cream cheese mixture.
Bake for 35-40 minutes.
NOTE: To make cinnamon sugar, the ratio is 1/4 cup sugar to 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Store in an airtight container. For this recipe, you’ll probably only sprinkle about a couple of tablespoons or so over the top.
It’s Bashful’s birthday today. She’s turning 23. Where did the years go? It’s so true that time flies faster the older you get. Like her namesake, Bashful is shy and sweet and kind-hearted. Been that way since she was a little girl. She spoke just fine at home, but hardly said two words outside. Without fail, every new teacher she had would call me at the beginning of each school year to ask if things were alright at home because she never said a word in class. I would have to explain that that was just her way but if they called on her to answer, she would, even if she hadn’t raised her hand. She answered in this tiny little soft-spoken voice, but she answered. She’s all grown up now but when I look at her, I still see that quiet little girl who always stood to one side silently watching the world with big, solemn eyes and a shy smile.
This morning I asked her what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday and of course, she asked for her favorite Strawberry Cream Cake. Its always been her favorite and that hasn’t changed over the years. I’m not surprised. This cake is so fabulously good. I make a moist vanilla cake for the base, use sliced fresh strawberries in the filling, and cover it up with a fluffy whipped cream frosting. It’s Yummy with a capital Y!
STRAWBERRY CREAM CAKE
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
½ cup shortening
2 cups sugar
5 eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Spray three 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick baking spray. Line the bottoms with parchment or wax paper, then spray the paper.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together until creamy.
Slowly pour in the sugar, continuing to beat until light and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, stopping periodically to scrape down the bowl as needed.
Then add the vanilla, beating until well-combined.
Reduce speed to low and add the flour and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour in 3 additions and the buttermilk in 2 additions.
Divide batter evenly between prepared pans, smoothing tops with a spatula.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
Place cake pans on a wire rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Invert cakes, peel off parchment paper, then re-invert so cakes are top side up.
Cool completely before frosting. Trim tops off to make cakes level if desired.
2 pints fresh strawberries
2 tbsp. sugar, or to taste
Hull, wash, and slice strawberries.
Toss in a bowl with sugar and set aside until ready to use.
Whipped Cream Frosting:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp. powdered sugar, add more or less as desired
1/2 tsp. vanilla, optional
Place mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer for 15 minutes or so.
Place whipping cream, sugar and vanilla in mixing bowl. Add more sugar if you want it sweeter or less if you want it less sweet.
Beat until stiff peaks form.
If you want really white frosting, omit the vanilla or use clear vanilla extract.
If you have cake strips, use them! They really help the cakes to rise up evenly with nice, level tops.
Mangoes are indigenous to the Philippines. They grow quite a few different varieties all over the country. Filipinos love to eat them ripe and sweet, or green and sour. Philippine mangoes, in my opinion, are the best in the world. My favorite is the variety they call Carabao Mangoes. Their thin, smooth skins are easy to peel and hide a golden orb of juicy sweetness that’s unrivaled by any other country’s. South American mangoes, though good, are very fibrous. In contrast, Philippine mangoes have very little fiber. You could cut one open and eat the flesh with a spoon.
We had two huge mango trees in our garden when I was growing up. I have very fond memories of sitting under the shade of the trees on lazy afternoons, reading a book or drawing. When harvest time came, we would get baskets and baskets full of bright yellow fruit from the overloaded branches. Way more fruit than we could ever eat. Our cook would make mango desserts, mango jam, and “burong mangga” (sweet pickled mangoes). We also gave away lots to friends and neighbors.
Mango Float is a very popular dessert in the Philippines. How this dessert got its name, I have no idea. To me, the name Mango Float conjures up images of a milkshake-type drink. Nothing at all like what this dessert is truly like. It’s rich and creamy and utterly delicious. You’ll find yourself wanting a second and third helping, it’s so good. And because it’s so easy to make, you’ll find yourself wanting to make it again and again.
4 large ripe mangoes, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cans (12.8 ozs. each) Nestlé table cream
1-2 cans (14 ozs. each) condensed milk
½ tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. salt, optional
1 box graham crackers
Whisk the Nestlé cream, 1 can condensed milk, vanilla, and salt together in a large bowl until well combined.
Taste the cream mixture. If you want it sweeter, open the second can of condensed milk and add more, a tablespoon at a time, until the cream is sweetened to your liking.
Arrange graham crackers in a single layer at the bottom of a 9×13″ pyrex glass baking dish. Cut and trim the crackers with a knife as needed to fit the baking dish.
Spread 1/3 of the cream mixture over the graham crackers.
Top with a layer of sliced mangoes.
Repeat layering two more times with graham crackers, then cream, and ending with mango slices.
Chill in refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
NOTE: If you want thicker layers of cream between the graham crackers, add 1 can of Nestlé cream and ½ can of condensed milk to the cream mixture, then taste for sweetness and increase condensed milk by the tablespoon, if desired. No need to increase the vanilla and salt.
Summer has kicked in with a vengeance! Boy is it Hot!….. with a capital H! We’ve been experiencing some triple digit days these past couple of weeks. Believe me, 108 degrees is no picnic! This kind of heat makes me think of long, tall drinks, big bowls of ice cream, and cool refreshing salads.
This salad is a play on my friend Cyndi’s winter fruit salad. I thought why not do the same thing for the summer except using fresh berries? I had some leftover shredded rotisserie chicken so I added it in for some healthy protein. The salad made a great lunch served with some of No. 1’s homemade french bread and a cool glass of crisp white wine. Mm… mm… mm…..
SUMMER BERRY AND CHICKEN SALAD WITH LEMON POPPY SEED DRESSING
⅓ cup lemon juice
½ cup sugar
2 tsp. finely chopped onion
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
½ tsp salt
⅔ cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp. poppy seeds
Combine lemon juice, sugar, onion, mustard and salt in the container of a food processor or blender; process until smooth.
With the machine running, add oil in a slow, steady stream and process until thick and smooth.
Add the poppy seeds and pulse a few times to mix.
1 large head romaine lettuce, chopped or torn into bite-sized pieces
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1 cup quartered strawberries
½ cup blueberries
½ cup pineapple tidbits (or pineapple chunks cut in half)
½ cup pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)
Place the lettuce, chicken, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple and nuts in a large salad bowl.
I love peach season…. the hot summer days when the peach trees are heavy with fruit just waiting to be harvested. And what could be better on a balmy summer’s evening than a dish of warm peach cobbler with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream melting on the side? The amazing smells that fill the kitchen as the cobbler bakes make you drool with anticipation.
If you have the time and some of those fresh summer peaches I mentioned, by all means go ahead and use them. They’re so delicious, you won’t regret it. That being said, this recipe is “easy” because it uses canned peaches. No need to peel, slice, or cook them. Can’t beat the ease and convenience of that on a lazy summer day!
EASY PEACH COBBLER
½ cup (1 stick) butter
1½ cups sugar
1½ cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1 large can (28-ozs.) sliced peaches, undrained
1 medium can (15-ozs.) sliced peaches, drained
cinnamon, for sprinkling over top (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Melt butter in a 9×13 baking dish in the oven.
While butter is melting, drain syrup from medium size can (15-oz.) peaches and discard syrup or save for another use.
Using a wire whisk, stir sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt together very well in a medium bowl.
Slowly add milk, stirring continuously until well combined.
Pour batter directly over melted butter in baking dish. Do not stir!
Carefully spoon drained peaches from medium 15-oz. can on top of batter. Do not stir!
Then gently add the peaches with the syrup from the large 28-oz. can. Again, do not stir!
If desired, sprinkle cinnamon (as much as you like) over top.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until top is golden brown.
This is great served warm with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.
NOTE: If you prefer to use fresh peaches for this recipe, you’ll need 4 cups of peeled, pitted and sliced peaches (about 5-8 peaches depending on how big your peaches are). Place the peach slices in a saucepan with 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. You will use the peaches with the syrup for this recipe.
When Spunky was born, I hired a girl named Angela to help me around the house. She came from war-torn Nicaragua where she grew up in an orphanage run by nuns. She didn’t cook, but there was one thing that she did make and that was this banana bread. Angela told me that the nuns taught her how to make it and she shared the recipe with me. It’s the simplest recipe to make and the bread turns out super moist and delicious.
SUPER MOIST BANANA BREAD
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
2/3 cup butter or margarine
1/3 cup water
3 ripe bananas, mashed
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8×4-inch loaf pan.
Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and cinnamon together in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, melt butter and water together in microwave.
Pour into flour mixture and mix well.
Add mashed bananas, beaten eggs, and vanilla, stirring until well combined.
Pour into prepared loaf pan.
Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
NOTE: Old Goat always wants nuts in his banana bread. If you want nuts in yours, feel free to stir 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans into the batter. This bread is also good with 1/2 cup chocolate chips stirred into the batter before baking.
This is a super easy cranberry sauce made with fresh squeezed orange juice. The citrus juice gives it a nice bright flavor. You can cut the recipe in half if you don’t want to make so much sauce. I have a big family so two bags of cranberries suits us just fine. Cranberries have a natural pectin that is released when they burst and which thickens the sauce naturally. If the sauce becomes too thick as it cools, just stir in a little more orange juice or water till it reaches the consistency you like.
CRANBERRY ORANGE SAUCE
2 bags (12 ozs. each) fresh cranberries
2 cups sugar (you can add more or less sugar to your taste)
zest of 2 oranges
juice from 2 oranges (about 1 cup)
¼ tsp. salt
Combine cranberries, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and salt in a medium saucepan.
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens and cranberries have burst, about 15 minutes.
Pour the cranberry sauce into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap against the sauce. This will prevent a skin from forming on top.
Let cool to room temperature; then refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to overnight.
NOTE: If you prefer a sauce with a smoother texture, transfer the cranberry mixture to a food processor or blender after cooking, and pulse until sauce is to desired texture.
When “Walking Dead” season starts, we have dinner at my sister and brother-in-law’s house every Sunday night. Helen, Anthony, Old Goat Honey, and I are huge fans of “The Walking Dead.” Unlike Helen, Anthony, and Old Goat, however, I never liked zombie movies. In fact, I don’t really like horror movies at all! At least not the gory ones. I made the mistake of watching “Friday the 13th” once when I was younger (if you can call peeking between my fingers “watching”) and I had nightmares for weeks afterwards! But for some reason, “The Walking Dead” has drawn me in just like thousands of other fans. So during the season, Old Goat and I trek faithfully over to Helen and Anthony’s house every Sunday where we all have dinner and then sit down to watch the show together.
Dinner preparations are usually a combination affair. Helen makes some of the dishes and I make the others. This Sunday, I offered to be in charge of the entrée and the dessert. Since I was going to be making the main entrée, I thought I should do something simple for dessert. I used to make this banana pudding for my kids all the time when they were little. It’s one of those dishes on my list of “Comfort Foods.” And what could be more fitting when you’re watching a scary movie than a comfort food dish?
BANANA CREAM PUDDING
1½ cups cold water
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 box (5.7 oz.) instant vanilla pudding mix
3 cups heavy cream
1 box Lorna Doone shortbread cookies or vanilla wafers
6-8 bananas, sliced (depends on how big your bananas are)
Mix together the water, condensed milk, and pudding mix until smooth.
Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes or until it sets up.
Whip heavy cream until soft peaks form.
Working in thirds, fold the whipped cream into the pudding mixture until well incorporated.
In a trifle bowl, layer vanilla wafers, sliced bananas, and pudding mixture; continue until you’ve used up all the pudding mixture.
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
If desired, sprinkle some crumbled cookies and add some fresh banana slices on top for garnish right before you serve.