July 31, 2014

Recipe: Cream Cheese Stuffed Figs with Fresh Fig Caviar Compote

I'm pretty sure the Gods on Mt. Olympus must have eaten these. Although my weekend did include the sighting of several mythological beasts, I didn't have to travel to Ancient Greece to experience this taste of ambrosia.

In fact, I didn't even have to leave California.  Last week, my Nerdy-and-Proud family headed down to San Diego for Comic Con 2014.  My girls dressed-up as characters from one of their favorite shows:  Supernatural

Our hotel turned out to be a complete dump (to put it nicely).  Our first sight, upon pulling in was of the upper balcony, where a guest had strung their laundry between columns -- delicates and all. Fortunately we were rescued from the roach motel by family who live in the area.

The girls and their cousins pitched a tent in the backyard.

The girls were thrilled to stay with their cousins, and my husband and I were treated to wine and appetizers that included these amazing stuffed figs when we returned from the convention one night.

Our family sent us home with a bag full of freshly picked figs.  As soon as we returned home, I began experimenting with my own version of this exquisite small bite appetizer.  The taste is sublime and the presentation sophisticated, but these really couldn't be easier make and prepare in advance.  The fresh figs provide a light, delicate fruit flavor that pairs well to the tart whipped cream cheese that puffs as it bakes like a souff.  The fresh fig caviar is made from the seeds and and tender flesh of the inner fig blossom.  Mixed with just a touch of organic sugar to bring out the natural honey and vanilla notes, it becomes a sauce that adds the delicate crunch of a fine caviar.  

Stuffed Figs with Fresh Fig Caviar Compote

Use these guidelines to make as many or as few as you wish.  The stuffed figs can be prepared a day in advance and refrigerated until ready to bake.

Here's what you'll need:

  • Small (two-bite) fresh figs
  • Whipped Cream Cheese (Do not use regular)
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Organic sugar

Tools (Recommended but not required)
  • Melon ball scooper
  • Tablespoon sized stainless steel portion scoop
  • ceramic or glass baking dish(es)

 Preheat oven to 350° F

Step 1:  Slice figs in half.  Use a small spoon or melon baller to scoop out the seeds.  Set aside in a small bowl.  Arrange the fig shells in a glass or ceramic baking dish.

Step 2:  Stir 1 Tablespoon organic sugar into the reserved fig flesh (for each 1/2 cup of fig flesh).  Refrigerate.

Step 3:  Use a stainless steel scoop to portion around a Tablespoon of whipped cream cheese into each fig half.  Don't worry if it does not touch the sides.  The cream cheese expands and puffs as it bakes.

Step 4:  Lightly sprinkle the cream cheese with ground cinnamon. Bake on center rack of oven for 25-30 minutes, until the cream cheese has just begin to lightly brown.

Step 5:  When cool to the touch, top each stuffed fig with some of the refrigerated sauce.  Serve warm.

July 16, 2014

Recipe ~ Fresh Squeezed Peach Sangria

Fresh squeezed peaches? That's right -- the secret to this light and refreshing summer sangria, with the flavor of  ripe and juicy fresh peaches, is in the technique -- hand squeezing.

The recipe starts by making homemade peach nectar.  Ripe, peeled peaches are simply squeezed in a bowl to release their golden juice.  A small amount of sugar is added to the peaches to help release the rest of the juices.  Rested, then strained, the end result is pure ambrosia.  Here's how it can be used to make a delicious peach sangria:

Fresh Squeezed

Peach Sangria

yield:  8 servings

  • 10 large peaches (ripe, but firm enough to peel)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup peach schnapps
  • 1.5 liters white wine (the Riesling from Barefoot is a perfect compliment to the peaches)

Step 1:  Peel and pit 8 of the peaches.  Place in a large bowl.  Gently squeeze, with clean hands, to release the juices and to break into small pieces.  Stir in the sugar. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Step 2:  In a fine mesh strainer, over a medium bowl, strain the peaches.  You may want to use a small whisk to keep the mixture moving in the strainer, allowing the juices to flow into the bowl.  Discard the pulp that is left behind.  The nectar is ready to use or can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Step 3:  To assemble the sangria, start by pouring the wine into a large jar or pitcher.  Add the nectar and the schnapps.  Stir to combine.  Slice the remaining two peaches.  Add to the sangria.  Serve over ice. 

July 14, 2014

Recipe ~ Mallow-Krisp Baked Mini Donuts

Doughnut or Donut?
No matter how you spell it, people love them.
Consider this: There are more than 10 billion doughnuts made in the U.S. each year!
(source:  Huffington Post)

As a kid, my favorites were the powdered mini donut and anything with sprinkles.  In my adulthood, I've discovered the joys of a perfect maple bar or French Cruller.  But the distinction of favorite doughnut belongs to the "'Mello Submarine" from Psycho Donuts.  It's an old fashioned donut with marshmallow fluff and krispie rice cereal on top.  They're the delicious lovechild of a doughnut and a Rice Krispie Treat. They're super light, not too sweet and really do Snap! Crackle! and Pop! when you make them.


The 'Mello Submarine was my inspiration for a DIY mini donut recipe as my contribution to a donut blog hop with 9 other bloggers and organized by Vanessa of Our Thrifty Ideas.  Is your mouth watering yet?

My creation consists of a baked buttermilk doughnut topped with homemade marshmallow fluff and rice cereal.  The Rice Krispie Treat flavor gets a boost from a buttery marshmallow drizzle made out of the leftover fluff.  Since they're baked, not fried, and topped with marshmallow rather than frosting, they're much lower in fat and calories than regular doughnuts, but they're still big on taste.

Mallow-Krisp Baked Mini Donuts

(a.k.a. "Catcher in the Rice")

makes 2 dozen mini doughnuts

For the doughnut batter:
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  •  2.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 Tablespoons salted butter, melted
For the marshmallow fluff (you can use store-bought as a shortcut)
  • 2 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup (not HFC)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 cups Rice Krispies® cereal
1 Tablespoon salted butter 

Nonstick cooking spray 
Mini Doughnut Pan
Candy thermometer (optional, if you're making the fluff from scratch)

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Spray mini doughnut pan with nonstick cooking spray.

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, eggs and melted butter just until combined.
  2. Fill each pan cavity approximately 1/2 full. Tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles and level out the batter.
  3. Bake the doughnuts for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the tops of the doughnuts spring back when touched. Let the doughnuts cool in the pan for 5 minutes then transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely while you make the marshmallow fluff.
  4. Begin the marshmallow creme by whipping the room-temperature egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer until stiff.  Set aside. 
    In a 1-Qt (4-cup) glass measuring cup, stir together corn syrup and sugar.
  5. Microwave for 2 minutes, then stir gently with a wood or silicone spoon.
  6. Microwave for another 2 minutes.
  7. Microwave for an additional 1 1/2 minutes (You're aiming for 240 on a candy thermometer). 
  8. Using a batter attachment (rather than a whisk), beat egg whites on medium speed.  VERY slowly drizzle in the hot syrup.  Scrape down the sides, then continue beating for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is thick, white and fluffy. Transfer to a small, microwave safe bowl.
  9. Pour rice cereal into a small bowl with a mouth wider than the size of a mini doughnut.
  10. Use a knife or small offset spatula to spread fluff over the entire top of a doughnut.  Dip fluff side into the rice cereal and gently press to adhere.  Set aside on a parchment lined tray and repeat with remaining doughnuts.
  11. Add 1 tablespoon butter to the remaining fluff and slowly heat (on low power) in the microwave till warm.  Whisk till smooth.  Transfer to a pastry bag or ziploc bag.  Snip a small hole in the tip.  Drizzle marshmallow glaze over each donut.  Enjoy!

What is your favorite kind of doughnut?

Make sure to check out and pin the other 9 fabulous donut recipes participating in the hop today. Just click on the picture or title below to grab the recipe. 


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