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Ollalie Berry Basil Crisp from My Pantry ShelfOne of the things I love most about summer are the fresh berries and one of the things I like most to do with fresh berries is to bake them into sweet bubbly fruity crisps.  Thankfully my kids disappeared into my parents berry patch the other night and came back with buckets of beautiful Ollalie berries.  After devouring them by the handful and scattering them over waffles, there was still enough for a Father’s Day crisp.  The perfect dessert to cap off a perfect summer adventure day in the canoe and swimming in the lagoon.

Berry Crisp ala mode from My Pantry ShelfOllalie Berry Basil Crisp is one of the simplest yet satisfying desserts that summer can afford.  Ollalie berries are similar to boysenberries, so you can use those or blackberries, or even blueberries if that is what you have on hand.  The basil, an unexpected ingredient, blends beautifully with the sweet berries adding just a hint of herb.  The crunchy top is the perfect counterpoint to the sweet saucy berries and of course the dollop of ice cream.  This dessert was a super hit with my family.  EVERYONE had seconds.

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Flourless Almond Orange Cake from My Pantry Shelf

I love a cake that is not pretentious.  One that does not demand some sort of special event such as a birthday, nor hours spent frosting and decorating.  Just a simple, yet elegant treat to bake for almost any occasion.  This Flourless Orange and Almond Cake is exactly that cake.  Oranges, cooked and pureed, mix with almond meal, eggs, and sugar to create an incredibly moist and fragrant dessert.  The toasted almonds give the caramelized top just a bit of crunch.  The cake is great even a day later, so do not be afraid to make it in advance.

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Cheddar Chive Beer Bread

March 17, 2013

Cheddar Chive Cheese Bread

Fresh bread has a way of transforming any meal into something special, but add cheese… and beer… and you have something to get really excited about.  Combine that with the fact that this bread takes only minutes to put together and it is hard to come up with an excuse NOT to make the bread.

Cheddar Chive Beer Bread is moist, cheesy, oniony goodness with just the right amount of tang from the beer.  A quick brush of butter over the top before baking makes for a crunchy buttery crust.  Any kind of beer will do.  I have made this with everything from a light pale ale to a rich Guinness.  Keep in mind that the more flavorful the beer, the more of the beer taste will come through in the finished loaf.  The alcohol however cooks off in the process, so do not hesitate to serve this up to the kids.  My kids love it! Read the rest of this entry »

Butterscotch Walnut Cookie Bars from My Pantry ShelfThough it pains me to acknowledge, there are not one, but two members of my family that are not die hard lovers of chocolate.  Being that cooking desserts without chocolate is somewhat foreign to me, I have taken it upon myself to find recipes for treats that not only please my family, but that I deem worthy of the calories they impart.  Anything caramel is usually a hit with  us- we love Caramel Sauce on Vanilla Ice Cream, Caramel Apple Tarts, or fruity desserts such as Meyer Lemon Pudding Cakes.  Most recently I was searching for a recipe that would pack well for a family picnic and I came across this gem of a recipe in a cookbook I recently picked up, Maida Heatter’s Cookies.

Add nuts to butterscotch mixtureButterscotch Walnut Cookie Bars are crunchy, nutty, butter goodness.  The brown sugar sweetened bottom layer holds the chewy, crunchy walnut topping.  Delicious on their own, these bars are absolutely incredible with a scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream. Kept in an air tight container, these bars keep for a week, but only if you have more self-control than we do.  Enjoy.

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Grandma’s Cinnamon Bread

February 10, 2013

Cinnamon Raisin Bread from My Pantry ShelfMy first grade son was recently asked to write up a favorite family recipe to share with his class.  The minute I heard this my mind began scanning the many recipes that he might deem worthy.  While selecting just one recipe seemed daunting to me, he quite simply stated, “I will share the recipe for Grandma’s Cinnamon Bread.” The special bread that my mom makes for him when he stays at her home.

Spreading CinnamonThis made me think, it is the children of the family that ultimately decide which recipes will live on. Perhaps this is because in childhood every moment seems larger than life.  The meals we eat, the people who prepare them for us, the experiences we have in our youth become the foundation of our life.  In truth, if I think of my own favorite family recipes, they are the ones fell in love with as a child, the Swedish Cardamom Bread at our holiday table,  my grandmother’s Royal Danish Soup, or my mother’s spaghetti sauce that I could never get enough of.  Now matter how much I might enjoy a new recipe that I develop or come across as an adult, they never hold the same place in my heart as those I loved as a child.  And also, without the enthusiastic blessing of my children, the recipe never will become a new family favorite.

Roll the cinnamon dough

Grandma’s Cinnamon Raisin Bread is a not too sweet bread with a perfect cinnamon spiral through the center.  It is delicious on its own, but my favorite way to eat it is toasted with butter.  It also makes a special French Toast.  The recipe makes two loaves.  The bread freezes well.  If you slice the bread first, it is easy to grab a slice to toast for an easy breakfast.

So, what is your favorite family recipe?  Tell us in the comments below and leave a link if there is one!  This post was submitted to Yeastspotting.

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Strawberry Shortcakes

July 11, 2012

Could there be a more classic summer dessert than a strawberry shortcake?  Probably not.  So when I finally got my hands on a lug of gorgeously fragrant, deep red strawberries from a local farm, all I could think of was making this simple dessert to showcase these berries.

Since there are only three simple components to a strawberry shortcake, it is essential that all three elements can sing on their own. Most recipes call for a cream scone, but I prefer a buttermilk biscuit not only because it reduces the overall fat in the recipe, but also for the lovely tang that the buttermilk provides.  This recipe makes buttery, flaky, beautifully browned biscuits.  Split them open and dollop  them with cream which has been whipped into a soft, velvety mixture.  (Do not pour in cream, turn on your mixer to whisk and then leave the room to mediate a sibling squabble,  oh no, do not.  You will make butter. Trust me.)

Last are the strawberries.  This dish is best with fresh sweet summer berries.  Pick ones that are small and red to the core, preferably from your local farmers market and not shipped to the supermarket in plastic boxes.  There is a huge difference.  Depending on the size of the strawberries, halve or quarter them and dust with a bit of sugar.  As the strawberries sit they will gently weep and make a beautiful pink syrup.  Scoop the berries and their syrup onto the pillow of whipped cream and top with the other half of the biscuit.  Simple and delightful.

The last time we made these was the 4th of July, so we tossed in some blueberries as well to go with the red, white, and blue theme.  My son insisted that the dessert would benefit from the option of Chocolate Pudding as well.  He was right.  We went with the self serve model, allowing each person to create their own shortcake dessert from bowls of whipped cream, strawberries, blueberries, and chocolate pudding.  For a more formal approach, serve the assembled shortcakes.

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Muffins can solve many problems: a hungry house full of weekend guests, a last minute snack for preschool, quick and easy breakfasts through the week (from the freezer), or as I recently found myself, with double my usual number of hungry children running underfoot.  While not all muffins hold well enough to serve after they have been left to cool, these muffins are still moist and flavorful hours after they have cooled or even reheated from the freezer.

Apricot Almond Bran Muffins are adapted from a recipe in Supernatural Everyday by Heidi Swanson that I have come to love.  If you are seeking a super dense. chewy style of bran muffing, this is not the one.  Though this recipe is whole grain with a healthy dose of bran, the texture is incredibly light and tender.  The taste of butter is unmistakable.  I added apricots to take advantage of the beautiful fruit found at the market.  Almonds, always a friend of the apricot, flavor the muffin and add a crunch to the top. Make these for a crowd, or just for a few and freeze the rest.  They reheat beautifully.

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