Archive for the ‘Fruit’ Category

A little taste of summertime
Not to add to the din, but I feel like I’ve seen a ton of smoothie recipes popping up in the food blog universe. Despite the typically chilly weather outside, I’d wager a guess that January is the number-one month for smoothies, juice cleanses, and salad-eating.

And even I have this conflict. The desire both for thick, warm soups that shut out the cold of January but also for light, fresh meals that taste like the spring and summer to come.

Plus, Santa brought me an immersion blender for Christmas, and what better way to break it in than by crushing the heck out of some frozen raspberries?

Blenderrrrrrr

The disparate parts

This is a little smoothie. I can never get through a full-size smoothie, so this recipe is for about a half-pint. You can easily double it if you are full-size smoothie drinker.

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If fall is pumpkin-everything season, then early winter is certainly the moment for the tart, gem-like cranberry to rise to prominence. I find myself recently¬†obsessed with the immense versatility of cranberries, but this simple recipe is, by far, the best way I’ve found yet to feature these beautiful little berries.

Cranberries are, on their own, incredibly tart, and I rarely see them served raw and unaltered. But they are also so fashionable in that state, aren’t they? It’s sort of a shame that most of us consume the majority of our cranberries either liquified in fruit juice cocktails or gel-ified in classic, ruby-red sauce served aside turkey and cornbread stuffing at Thanksgiving.

This method gives the cranberries a nice level of sweetness to cut the sour but lets the berries glisten as a centerpiece of your holiday party spread. And while the berries require several hours of soaking in the fridge, these are incredibly easy to make. All you need is a bag of cranberries, sugar, and water.

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ATTENTION STORES EVERYWHERE:

I love Christmas, I really do. But I’m not ready for it. Not for candy canes and glittery pine cones and red ribbons on the ends of the aisle. I’m not ready for the ghost and goblin decor to be heaped haphazardly on a clearance rack by the checkout while pine boughs and Santa hats flood in from the back room. It’s Halloween this week, thank you very much, it’s Thanksgiving in a month, and there are several beautiful weeks of autumn between now and then.

And for you big-budget stores, I’m really not ready for jingle bells and dancing elves to adorn your circulars & commercials.

So in defiance of the ever-earlier Christmas season, I offer these treats that scream “Halloween!” loudly enough to drown out the dancing elves, at least for the next few days.

I speak, of course, of caramel apples. It’s no wonder this treat is a classic: a tart, crisp apple enrobed in a sheen of chewy honey caramel is one of the greatest joys of fall. These apples are Pink Ladies, my favorite variety, and they hail from this year’s annual apple-picking trip, which has become a cornerstone of every fall for me (my little blog is named after it!)

Photo from Monica B.

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July and August in my childhood meant lots of raspberries. Produce in general, really: my grandparents planted each year a massive garden, and I strongly correlate the start of the school year with boxes of produce on the floor next to the fridge, pan fried okra at dinner almost daily, and raspberries.

Though I love most berries, the raspberry is by far my favorite. Sure, strawberries get a lot of credit as the first fruit of the spring, blueberries sustain me, strong and steady, through the heat of the summer, and blackberries dress up desserts with a splash of deep, fruity decadence. But raspberries, so fragile when picked ripe yet bursting with sweet and tart flavor, will never fade for me.

In Durham, raspberries don’t seem to be a popular cultivar. I’m not sure if it’s the climate or what, but I have only ever seen one, maybe two vendors at the farmers market here with these tiny red berries, and when they do it’s usually just a few pints at a time. So each week of the brief raspberry season in this city, I try to take full advantage. This week, I paired them up with a few luscious peaches for some hand pies!

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Before I say anything else: Happy Mother’s Day!

Since moving away for college eight years ago (eek), I haven’t been able to spend Mother’s Day with my mom. I think I’ve lucked out for Father’s Day a couple of times as June was more conducive to cross-country travel, but Mom has had to settle for phone calls and packages.

This is a special Mother’s Day, too. My mom is retiring this year after decades of work in elementary libraries and classrooms, teaching young Coloradoans (myself included) to read, to write, and to appreciate books. I have many fond memories over the years of going to the library with my mom for work and for fun, of stapling long strips of playful bulletin board borders to the edges of her displays, of ogling over the annual book fair catalogs and knowing that if there was one place she would buy us anything we asked for, it was books. Her fervor for the written word has, no doubt, cultivated my own passion for books and penchant for writing. She’s the #1 fan of this little food blog and tenders her support through comments, encouragement, and little e-mails alerting me to typos (which, by the way, I welcome from ANYONE who spots one – I want to squash typos out like bugs). So thanks Mom! For everything. I wish I could spend today with you!

But since I can’t, how about blog-worthy pie?

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Spring (though it’s actually starting to feel more like summer here in NC) has officially begun. It seems like the trees were, just moments ago, blossoming in delicate flowers and poking little green buds into the cool air, but they are suddenly enrobed in lush, green leaves still blinking in their new-found sunshine. The daffodils and tulips have come and gone, and the light lingers a few moments more every evening.

But just in case there was any doubt:

The berries have arrived.

Glistening, ruby-red, and more photogenic than any berry I know, strawberries are the first fruit of the season to reach the farmers market in Durham. They’re the first float of the summer produce parade; it’s definitely cause for celebration.

And what better way to celebrate than with a classic, fresh, and simple strawberry shortcake?


Okay, okay, I know you might be skeptical about my use of the word “simple” when discussing a six-layer cake, but I promise, it’s really rather easy AND is so totally worth it once you have your first bite.

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Here’s the thing.

Most of my choices of meals to make revolve around what I want for dinner, what features a local ingredient at the peak of its season, or what has been leering at me the strongest from my list of recipes to try.

But sometimes I just want to make cake. Unnecessary, frivolous, decadent, indulgent, cake.

I don’t often make desserts, partially because we rarely have more than the two of us at dinner. But when I threw my pizza party a couple weeks ago, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to make something fancy.


Both the recipes and the inspiration for this cake came from a blog I recently stumbled across (and have subsequently become obsessed with) called Sweetapolita. These cakes are something. else. Miracles of butter and sugar. They are simple yet stunning, classic yet unique.

And the best part? This particular chocolate cake recipe is, hands down, the easiest cake recipe I have ever made. Many cakes recipes have intricate patterns of adding dry ingredients, folding in damp ones, carefully mixing until consistency is just so… not this one.

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Let’s take a minute to talk about real life.

Some days, there is time to make fresh pasta. Fancy desserts. Elaborate multi-course meals.

Most days though, it’s all I can do to get out the door in the morning toting a breakfast and lunch, and on show days, dinner, so that I can avoid the oh-so-tempting bounties of college food available at work. Especially in January, when fresh food is somewhat difficult to come by and most of my cravings are for something warm and filling.

But I’ve found an answer. An answer to the winter blues, the I-don’t-feel-like-cooking doldrums, and the whoa-we-have-so-much-leftover-turkey-from-the-holidays reality in my freezer.

Sierra’s turkey salad.

I know I’m probably way late catching this train. I’ve never really been a fan of chicken salads and won’t come within ten feet of tuna salads, so I suppose I thought turkey salad would be equally unpleasant. I. Was. Wrong.

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So.

Remember the apples?

I brought home about 45 pounds of them and have hardly mentioned them since?

Yeah, those apples.

I’ll be honest, my favorite way to eat apples is whole and raw, so I don’t actually use them in many “recipes”. But I decided this year that, in order to ensure none went to waste, I would cook some down to make something I could use as a breakfast, a snack, a side, or a gift: applesauce!

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Pomegranate is one of my all-time favorite fruits of winter. It is something I buy as a special treat, one of the rare produce items I do not (and as far as I know, cannot) buy locally. So once a year, I buys a few of these beautiful fruits and savor each and every kernel.

To see whole, pomegranates do not look particularly appealing. They are ruddy and lumpy and have a somewhat awkward outie-belly-button looking thing at the top. They’re hard to peel and bruising on the outside can easily damage the inside. As with most good things, however, if you can get past the outward appearance and the time-consuming peeling, the fruit cracks open to reveal a stunning display.

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