Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler

I am so excited to share a delicious and summery dessert with you today!

This cobbler is easy to prepare and perfect to make with any kids you may need to occupy on summer break 🙂 While it is still delightfully sweet, it is much lighter than a brownie or other decedent confection, therefore making it a great option for a day out in the sun where you don’t want to feel weighed down. So volunteer to supply dessert at your next picnic, and whip up this cobbler!

 

Strawberry-Rhubarb Cobbler

{Recipe courtesy of Sharon Drossopoulos}

Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes

Ingredients:

2 C. of fresh rhubarb, cut into chunks

2 C. of fresh strawberries, cut in half

Fresh lemon zest

Toss above ingredients into a 9 x 13” pan sprayed with Pam

In a medium bowl mix:

1 C. flour

1 C. sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

A dash of cinnamon & salt

Add: one beaten eggs to above mixture, mix well with fingertips & sprinkle evenly over fruit

Pour 1 stick of melted butter over fruit/ flour mixture

Bake and enjoy!

Advertisements

Coconut Milk + Mixed Berry Popsicles

Now that summer has arrived, I find myself indulging in my all-time favorite treat- ice cream more than ever! (Specifically Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked, but thats besides the point…) 😉

Too much is definitely not a good thing, and if your like me, it is not hard to overdo!

So being a gal that is constantly looking for ways to make dessert healthier, I have found the perfect cure for any ice cream cravings- coconut milk popsicles!

Having never worked with coconut milk before, I figured I should do some research, especially when I noticed the high percentage of fat it contains. After researching, I found that in moderation, it is actually highly beneficial for ones health. A more in-depth explanation of why can be found here. Just a sampling of the health benefits I discovered are:

  • Boosts Immune System
  • Preventative against heart disease
  • Healthy hair and skin

This simple recipe is perfect for kids and adults alike, in addition to being lactose free! Its creamy consistency and balanced sweetness far exceed the flavor in any packaged pop you can find in your grocers freezer, and also leave you to rest assured with peace of mind knowing there is no corn syrup or artificial flavoring/ sweetener.

Ingredients

  • 1 (15 oz) can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean or extract
  • 4 Tbsp. local honey
  • 2 cups mixed berries
  1. Whisk milk, vanilla, and 2 Tbsp. of the honey.
  2. In a blender, toss berries, the remaining honey, and approximately half of the milk mixture. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pour the berry mixture into your ice pop mold about 3/4 of the way.
  4. Then top each pop off with the pure milk mixture.
  5. Optional: use a skewer to create a striping effect.
  6. Freeze for 4-6 hours and enjoy!

 

Lemon Pound Cake w. Mascarpone Cream

Being Italian, a love for cheese is practically in my blood. I truly believe there is no limit to the amount of fresh mozzarella (pronounced: “MootzaDel”, of course) I can eat or how much parmesan can be grated over my pasta. Some of my favorite cheeses are brie, goat, ricotta, and of course -fresh mozzarella.

In the realm of dessert, any chance I get to have something with cheese in it- I am wholeheartedly in. Now, I am not talking about grating parmesan in my cake, but rather sweets like cheesecake and tiramisu. The creamy, decadent consistency is something I crave.

One cheese that many are unfamiliar with is mascarpone, famed for being one of the main components of tiramisu! Mascarpone is basically an Italian cream cheese made simply with cream and the addition of citric acid. Its 70-75% fat content allows it to have such a creamy consistency that lends itself to be used in place of butter, and boy is is heavenly!

Being that summer is quickly approaching, I like to look for desserts that are on the lighter side and won’t weigh you down. Today I am sharing my tried and true recipe for lemon-buttermilk pound cake that will be paired with a light n’ luscious mascarpone cream and drizzled with macerated berries to create the most fabulous dessert fit for any gathering!

IMG_2146

A mini trifle

Lemon Buttermilk Pound Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter

3 cups white sugar

6 eggs

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk

Lemon zest

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Apply parchment paper to half sheet pan. Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar. Mix in the eggs, one at time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the lemon zest and the extracts. Gently mix in flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
Bake in preheated oven for approx 20 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Mascarpone Cream

8 oz. mascarpone

1/4- 1/2 cup powdered sugar (dependent on desired sweetness)

1 cup whipping cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. lemon zest

Directions: First beat softened cheese in stand mixer until smooth. Add in sugar. When fully incorporated- slowly add in whipping cream. Set mixer on medium-high until soft peaks form. Then add in remaining ingredients and allow to blend on high until frosting resembles whipped cream. Refrigerate until needed.

To assemble, you can let your creative juices flow. This can be served any way you would like, from a trifle to a layer cake. I have done both, and can assure you they taste delicious either way 😉

Be sure to pair this with macerated berries- I use a mix of blackberries and strawberries, but you truly cannot go wrong with any combo.

5 things baking has taught me

  1. Organization

When I was younger, I would find a recipe, and immediately go to the kitchen and begin one by one tossing ingredients into a bowl. I often did not get the results I bargained for. Until about 7th grade, I had been under the misconception that liquid and dry measuring cups were comparable, and when a recipe indicated 2-1/2, anywhere between 2 and 2 and 1/2 cups was acceptable. Now when I am going to make something I first take inventory, prep my mise en plas, and read through the recipe several times to ensure I have a thorough understanding. I close my eyes and in my mind, walk myself through precisely what I need to do and what the most efficient way of going about that would be. How can I use the least amount of tools? What can I do to prepare ahead of time? How long will it need to cool/cook, etc?

2. Humility

I learned early on that when you create something, when you work hard on something, it becomes a reflection or even a part of you. In my early stages I would become so upset if something I made did not come out as expected. When I began high school and working under my teacher, Mrs. D, the feeling I had in the kitchen was nervousness. It was unlike any way I had felt before, a new environment with high expectations. The girl cooking for her family and friends was now cooking for something larger, a school and local community. I would say it took about that whole freshman year to feel that I belonged, and when I felt it, I knew I would call that kitchen my home at school for the next four years of my life. A junior now, my confidence in the kitchen has grown from my mere freshman self, however I have learned (and am constantly reassured of) the value of being humble from Sharon. I have learned that you do not always get to make the executive decision, you give the people what they want. I have learned to keep an open mind when considering new concepts, and most importantly, that the best way to learn is from others.

3. Multi-tasking

Working in the kitchen there is always a deadline…how can I get all elements of my dish to be ready at the same time?  It requires a lot of planning and prep to ensure you are using time to the best of your ability. I have learned that it requires management skills to be successful. When I began, it took all of my attention to focus on one element, and over the years I have increasingly added more and more. If something goes in the oven, I know that it is wise to begin moving on to something else instead of just watching time pass.

img_48294. Never give up

I cannot tell you how many times I have completely screwed up recipes. I have added wrong amounts, over-beaten, forgotten ingredients, the list goes on. Sometimes it even happens multiple times in a row. Although it sounds petty to believe one can get frustrated over messing up cupcakes, the feeling that something you made, something you put love into, not working is incredibly aggravating. I try and I try over again until I get it right, and boy there is nothing more satisfying than pulling off something that has taken so long.

5. Love

At the end of the day when I am covered in flour, my feet hurt from standing, and I am ready to sleep, I cannot help but feel fulfilled. There is just something about putting so much effort and love into something you can share with others that makes me happy. Seeing a physical object that you have created is one of the best feelings. You can not only simply see, but taste the fruit of your labor. Baking has connected me with great people, and lead me to amazing opportunities. Being in the atmosphere of a kitchen has taught me more than anything between the covers of a textbook could ever explain. I have worked with all types of people, I have learned hands-on through trial and error, I have learned what good food is, and I have learned to be a team player. I truly believe that there is nothing like the camaraderie of a kitchen, being surrounded by people dedicated to doing what you love. Baking has taught me all of these life lessons and more…and that my friends, is love.

My European Adventure

This past July, I had an amazing opportunity to travel Europe for two weeks. I visited Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and France. I don’t know how I haven’t gotten around to writing about my journey yet, but it is due time to fill you in. I am so lucky to have been able to share this experience with one of my very good friends- Mallory. Thanks to her, those bustling two weeks were spent continuously laughing while shopping, eating, and wandering through a multitude of beautiful places. A large thank you to my supportive mom and family for allowing me this trip. These memories will last forever, and I am so blessed to have been able to experience a taste of the world.

img_9469

Mallory & I in Austria

I found out very early in the trip that being a foodie and traveling go hand in hand. Being in a new place is a completely acceptable reason to consume a plethora of carb-loaded, fattening, and sugary treats.. I mean c’mon i’m on vacation right?! I developed a love for three of what I considered to be the holy grail of European eating: cappuccino, croissant, and gelato. I may or may not have eaten 40-something croissants, and 2-4 gelato/cappuccino a day. I also may or may not have returned back to the states with an additional 7lb weight gain  despite the copious amount of walking we did 😉

Oh, and I forgot to mention bread…

img_3533

Enjoying a baguette in Paris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, and pasta…

Although in this post I am only mentioning a sampling of the food we encountered on our trip, the places we were able to see were simply breathtaking. If I was to begin talking about them, this post could go on forever! To keep it short, some of my favorite memories were when we; hiked the Swiss alps at night, found our way into a quaint German bar to catch the Germany vs. France soccer game with some locals, rode a gondola in Venice, ate at a beautiful farm in Switzerland, and watched the sunset from the top of the Eiffel Tower. This trip opened my eyes to the world, and made me certain of one thing- I love to travel. I always thought I would, but now I am certain that in the future I want to eat my way around the world. I want to discover new culture, cuisine, and the love that is put in to food. I want to see what this world has to offer.

Stone Barns

Over the course of the past several years, I have begun to develop a fascination with the concept of farm to table dining. Although I am uncertain as to the exact origin of my interest, watching Food Inc. and reading Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser definitely attributed. Recently I have noticed that I have lost my desire to eat most of the sugary snacks I once enjoyed as a child. I realized that I did not want to eat the items that were made in factories with ingredients that I could not pronounce, packed with preservatives, and left to lay on supermarket shelves. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my fair share of junk food, but I now tend to frequent the organic isle of the grocery store rather than the cookie isle. It has prompted me to eat consciously. I began to appreciate the beauty in raw fruits and vegetables and lose the childhood mentality that all vegetables are bad.

After reading Scholssers eye-opening representation of what American food culture has become, I was taken aback. I could not believe that the fruits and vegetables of my grocery store were not “all-natural”. For many restaurants, gone are the days of using local ingredients straight from the farm. Major food producers create the flavor of their food in a chemical lab. By mixing a multitude of chemical substances together, they are able to create identical flavor profiles to real ingredients. For example, the flavor of a strawberry can be created with the unique combination of approximately 350 chemicals in minute amounts. It is more economical and efficient for chains to use chemical flavoring as opposed to natural ingredients.

Labels that picture scenic farms and healthy livestock are but a mere image of a nonexistent reality. Consumers have been lead to believe every chicken or gallon of “farm fresh milk” were product of a sustainable ranch where the poultry or milking cows are treated with the highest care, able to roam around a pasture. Unfortunately this is not the case. Americans believe that there are hundreds, if not thousands of companies responsible for the making of the products in their pantry, when in reality a majority can be traced back to the same few production facilities.

Several weeks ago I asked my mom if we could take a trip to Salem for Halloween. Since we have already been, she suggested Sleepy Hollow, NY instead. I agreed that would be a good option, and began to research what there was to do in the area. It did not take long for me to discover the nearby tours of Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Upon seeing the stunning pictures of the landscape, what I like to call “happy cows”, and realizing that owner Dan Barber was featured on one of my favorite series, Netflix’s Chef’s Table , I knew that this was something I had to do. My mom was up for it. She bought the tickets and the next thing you know, we are at the farm.

At 10:00am we assisted in herding the turkeys. They are moved from their spacious pen to the woods for the entire day. They are allowed to roam freely and then are lead back at night. This idea of allowing the animal to live as if it would in nature is something that I admire. It is that dedication to providing not only an exceptional flavor, but also for the well-being of the animal that makes Stone Barns incredible. We then proceeded to gather eggs from the chickens.

 

Later in the day, we picked eggplant in the field and foraged for peppers. Even my mom who isn’t much of an outdoor-sy gal was really enjoying it, it is hard not to find the farm incredible!

For an afternoon snack I indulged on their cafè, The Grain Bars’ sweet potato yogurt and a whole grain croissant. The yogurt was unlike anything I have ever tasted. The tart flavor was unexpected but delightful. The croissant was exceptional… EXCEPTIONAL. I have been on a mission to find a croissant that is flaky and delicious enough to compare to the ones I had in Europe in July and this was the first that was able to do so. I wish I brought some home with me!

We concluded our day with meeting the sheep and a scenic walk through the property. I am so glad I was able to experience a day in the life on the farm. I will definitely be back!

Lemon Brownies

Hey y’all!

Its finally June, and the warm weather that we all love is here!

All of these sunny days make it time for barbecues, graduation parties, picnics, and days spent by the pool. Today I have the perfect treat for you to bring to all of these occasions!

In the summertime, I love incorporating fresh fruit flavors into desserts. Last year I shared my recipe for grilled peaches  and to kick off this summer, here is another!

These lemon “brownies” are by no means your typical dense chocolately bar, but rather a luscious lemony flavor, complete with an incredible light and fluffy texture. They are perfect for a summer get-together and are surely a crowd pleaser! I used fresh lemon zest and juice, and I think that is a crucial component in creating the flavor for these brownies.

Enjoy! 🙂

13344633_1043094052436380_636296703933819730_n

 

(Recipe Courtesy of The Recipe Critic)

Ingredients

  • ž C flour
  • ž C sugar
  • Âź t salt
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon of Lemon juice
  • zest from ½ of a lemon
    • Lemon Glaze:
    • ½ C powdered sugar
    • 1 T lemon juice
    • zest from ½ lemon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8×8 inch pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper for easy removal. In a large bowl or using a stand mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Mix in the softened butter.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon juice and zest. Add the the large bowl and mix well.
  3. Pour into the 8×8 inch prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes. Remove and let cool.
  4. To make the glaze: Whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and zest from the other half of the lemon. Pour over the top of the cooled lemon brownies.