Monday, July 30, 2012

Easy Fresh Fruit Tarts

This past weekend was a blur for me. On Saturday, I had to bake 7 dozen cupcakes, a cake and 2 cheesecakes. So when Sunday rolled around and I needed to make a dessert for my brother's birthday lunch, I knew I wanted to make something quick, simple and light!

These fresh fruit tarts are a delicious, easy and versatile dessert to make for any occassion. You can change up the crust by using your favorite cookie instead of the graham crackers, adding cinnamon or ground nuts to the graham crackers, and you can use any combination of fruit that you like. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination!

When decorating fruit tarts, I like to make sure I use a pretty combination of colors. This time, I used Mangos, Peaches, Blueberries, Raspberries and Kiwi.

Fresh Fruit Tarts
Makes eight 4" tarts or one 8" tart
Serves 8

Crust Ingredients:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Filling Ingredients:
2 8oz packages cream cheese, softened (you can also make this non-dairy by using soy cream cheese)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Any combination of fresh fruit
2-3 tablespoons of jam for glazing if desired (I used peach-apricot, red current or raspberry would also be good)


Make the crust

Preheat oven to 350f

In a large bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Stir with a fork. Drizzle melted butter over the top and stir/toss with a fork to combine. The crumbs should be moist (but not too wet) and should hold together when squeezed in the palm of your hand. If the crumbs don't hold together, drizzle a little more melted butter and stir/toss again to combine.

This looked a little on the dry side so I ended up adding just a little bit more melted butter to it.

Divide evenly between eight 4" non-stick tart pans with removable bottoms (or you can make one 8" tart). If your tart pans are not non-stick, spray with nonstick spray.

Press into the bottom and up the sides of the tart pans. Make sure you have an even layer.

Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until crust is browned. All ovens are different so start checking for doneness around 10 minutes to prevent burning especially if your tart pans have a dark finish.

Remove from oven and allow to cool to completely in the tart pans. For easy assembly, keep the shells in the tart pans when you assemble the tarts.

Make the filling:

Place the softened cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest and juice in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer at medium speed, beat until creamy and well combined.

Assemble the tarts:

Cut/slice your fruit as desired.

Divide the filling evenly between the 8 cooled tart shells. Carefully spread the filling out to the edges to create an even, smooth layer being careful not to disturb the crust. I found it easiest to start from the center and spread outward towards the edges.

Decorate tops with fresh fruit.

Place in the refrigerator and chill for a few hours before serving.

Before serving - remove the tarts from the tart pans and using a sharp, thin knife or the thin edge of a spatula carefully remove the bottom rings. If glazing, place 2-3 tablespoons of jam in a small bowl and microwave for a few seconds to loosen. Stir well, then gently brush over the tops of each tart with a pastry brush.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Chocolate -Strawberry Brownies

Chocolate -Strawberry Brownies

This recipe came about by combining my love of chocolate and strawberries.  Could anything be more delicious! 
I was trying to find a quick way to fill my craving for both chocolate covered strawberries and brownies.  The brownies seemed the easier way to go, as I was feeling a bit too lazy to spend the time making a whole batch of chocolate covered strawberries ..… but I still wanted the strawberries.  What’s a girl to do?  Hmmm… let me just try these two ingredients together and see what I get. That is what I love about baking, sometimes baking experiments really work! (just remember to write down what you did along the way). 
My Chocolate-Strawberry Brownies filled both my needs. Strawberries and Brownies! What could be better!    It was also quick! (well, you do have to wait for them to cool from the oven, but if I was making chocolate covered strawberries I would have to wait for them to harden, so either way you need to be patient  and wait for the goodness!)   The brownie has a moist, rich chocolate flavor (brought out by the addition of coffee), while the chopped strawberries add a tangy, tart flavor that you don’t expect from a brownie. I hope you give these a try!

1/3  cup butter
1 cup milk chocolate chips
¼ cup milk
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon instant coffee
¼  teaspoon salt
¾ cup of chopped strawberries
1/2 cup Powder sugar

1.       Preheat oven to 350
2.       Line the bottom of an 8x8 or 9x9 baking pan with wax paper, then spray the whole inside of the pan, including the wax paper, with Pam. Set aside.
3.       In a small sauce pan, combine chocolate chips, butter and milk and melt over low heat, stirring slowly until all chocolate is melted and butter and milk are incorporated.  Set aside to cool.

4.       In a large bow l( or your kitchen aid) combine sugar & the cooled chocolate mixture, stirring until well blended.  Add both eggs and vanilla and mix until well blended.

5.       In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, espresso until well blended.   Add the chopped strawberries until they are fully covered in the flour mixture.

6.       Add the flour mixture to chocolate mixture.  Mix slowly until the two are combined.  Do not use the kitchen add or electric mixer for this part. Mix by hand so you do not breakdown the strawberries.

7.       Bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. 
8.    Cut and Sprinkle the top of brownies with powder sugar .

9.        Enjoy

Monday, July 23, 2012

Blueberry Coconut Almond Crumb Cake for Cookies for Cody

Hi everyone. As you know, one of the reasons Yvonne and I started this blog was to be able to give back and participate in causes that are meaningful to of them being the fight to cure cancer, a disease that has touched both of our families.

Last year we participated in Frosting for the Cause. This week we are participating in Cookies for Cody, an online Bake Sale hosted by Stephanie at Recipe Renovator to raise money for Cody's treatment and medical bills. Cody is a sweet little 4-year old boy diagnosed with Neuroblastoma. He was recently in remission, but just a few days ago it was determined that the Cancer had returned....

LiveBakeLove is donating this amazing Blueberry Coconut Almond Crumb Cake to the Bake Sale.

It's hard to describe how delicious this crumb cake is....the cake is moist and light with a tender crumb. It's generously sprinkled with fresh blueberries then topped with a crisp, buttery, crumb topping studded with sweet, chewy coconut and crunchy almonds. Together these flavors are like a symphony in your mouth.

We hope you will participate in this Bake Sale to help Cody and his family by bidding on this Blueberry Coconut Almond Crumb Cake (or any of the other delicious treats being sold).

The Bake Sale starts Friday, July 27th and you can participate by clicking on Recipe Renovator's Facebook link then browse through the photo albums of the items up for sale and make your bid.

As always, thank you for spreading the LOVE.

~ Faye & Yvonne

Thursday, July 19, 2012



One of my favorite ingredients in the summer is strawberries.  You’ll notice that Faye and I use a lot of  local, seasonal fruit and vegetables.   Aside from supporting our communities, they are the best tasting products you can get.  Living in California we’re lucky that our strawberry season extends to most of the summer. I like to use them in sweet dishes like these muffins, cake filling and homemade jams.  But if you want to try something a bit more adventurous, cut up a few ripe strawberries and add them on top of a green salad dressed with a delicious balsamic dressing.   I promise, you will not be disappointed!  

I had seen this recipe for STRAWBERRY BANANA MUFFINS  on the Joy of Cooking website a while ago and wanted to give it a try.  I put a little twist on the original recipe, which I believe made a better muffin. They are moist and tasty - full of delicious ripe strawberry and banana flavor.  The key to this recipe is to make sure you dry the excess moisture from the strawberries after you crop them. This will keep them from sinking to the bottom of your muffin cups.  Guaranteed, your family and friends will love this breakfast treat.
Happy Cooking Everyone!

Strawberry Banana muffins
½ cup sweet butter  (melted and cooled)
2 eggs 
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup of mashed banana
1 cup of chopped strawberries (make sure you dry them off so they are not wet) 
2 ¼ cup flour
¾ cup brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
3-4 large strawberries sliced for decoration
12 aluminum muffin cups

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Place your muffin cups in the muffin pan.  Lightly spray the cup with oil. (this makes it easier to
     remove the muffins from the cups)
2. Mix the eggs, vanilla and mashed banana till well blended.

3. Add the melted butter.
4. In a medium size bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and  allspice together, until well combined.
5. Add the strawberries to the flour mixture and gently stir until they are well combined.

6. Now add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture. Gently stir. All you want to do is combine all the ingredients together. Do not over stir.

7. Fill muffin cups equally with batter.
8. Top each muffin with a sliced strawberry.

9. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.
10. Remove from oven and cool for about 15 minutes.
11. Serve with warm butter.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cranberry Orange Scones w/Orange Glaze

Some mornings I wake up craving scones, especially these Cranberry Orange Scones. I found the recipe on Smitten Kitchen a few years ago, but I added my own twist with fresh orange zest and a fresh orange glaze (isn't everything better with glaze?). I think these are quite possibly the best scones I've ever made. While I get the most requests for my Lemon Blueberry Scones, these are my personal favorite. I love the tart-sweet combination and using fresh orange zest and fresh orange juice really makes them extra special.

If you love scones, I also recommend these Fresh Strawberry and Meyer Lemon Scones and Cherry Lemon Scones.

Cranberry Orange Scones with Fresh Orange Glaze
Makes 8 scones

Scone Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon Baking Powder
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon fresh orange zest
5 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold, cut into cubes)
1 cup heavy cream (cold)
3/4 cup dried cranberries chopped (I used Craisins)

Glaze Ingredients:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
A few tablespoons of fresh orange juice


Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and orange zest.

Sprinkle the cold cubed butter over the flour mixture. Using a pastry cutter (or two knives), cut the butter into the flour until small crumbs are formed. You should still see some small chunks of butter. Using a pastry cutter makes this process really easy, or you can also use a food processor. Just be careful not to over process.

Pour in the heavy cream and, using a rubber spatula, fold the cream into the flour a few times. Sprinkle the dried cranberries over the mixture, then fold a few more times until just incorporated and a "shaggy" dough is formed. Careful not to overmix the dough, this makes the scones tough.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and gently form into a disk approx 3/4-1" thick.

Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut the disk into 8 triangles. I decided to make mine round this time using a biscuit cutter. I was able to cut six scones with the biscuit cutter, then I had to gently reshape the dough scraps to cut two more scones.

Place the scones onto the parchment lined baking sheet and lightly brush with heavy cream.

Place in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden brown. I rotated my baking sheet halfway during the cooking process to ensure even browning.

When scones are a light golden brown, remove from oven and cool a few minutes before glazing. Remove from baking sheet & serve.

These scones can be stored at room temperature and are best eaten within 2 days. Note: Scones that are made with fresh fruit should be eaten the same day.

To make the glaze:

In a small bowl, combine the softened butter (the butter needs to be really soft), powdered sugar, orange zest and orange juice. Mix well with a whisk to combine. The glaze should be a thick pouring/drizzling consistency. If too runny, adjust by gradually adding a little more powdered sugar until you reach the desired consistency. If glaze is too thick, adjust by gradually adding more orange juice a little at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Spicy Salsa Salmon



Looking for a fresh and healthy dinner for you and your family?  That’s exactly how I would describe this latest recipe… Healthy and Fresh.   If you like fish and love salsa, like I do, this is a great way to combine the two for a quick and delicious meal.   The Salmon turned out moist and flakey and the salsa adds a tangy and spicy twist to your basic baked fish recipe.  It only took about one hour - from prep to finish.  And here’s the best part - if you like to plan dinners ahead for your family, you can actually make the recipe a day ahead, reheat just before serving and it tastes just as good. (tip listed below). 

Happy Cooking Everyone!


One pound of Salmon  (with skin on bottom)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

2-3 Roma tomatoes, chopped

2 green onions, chopped

1 seeded & cropped Jalapeno pepper (optional)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 lemon

½ teaspoon salt

¼ crushed pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

Small jelly roll pan 10 ½ x15 ½ x1

Aluminum foil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1.       Cover the jelly roll pan completely with foil. Spray with oil.

2.       Place Salmon in jelly roll pan, skin side down. Set aside.

3.       Make the salsa to go over salmon - chop cilantro, tomatoes and green onions and jalapeno (if using).  Add minced garlic. Stir. Place in small bowl.

4.       Add the juice of 1 lemon to chopped ingredients in bowl, being careful not to get any seeds. Add salt, pepper, and olive oil. Stir. 

5.       Pour salsa evenly over the salmon.

6.       Cover salmon with a large piece of foil, sealing the jelly roll pan.

7.       Bake for 20-25 minutes.

8.       Serve with rice. 

9.       Tip for making the day ahead:

        You can bake this dish the night before as directed above - cool, cover with plastic wrap and    place in the refrigerator. The day you are serving it, remove the plastic wrap and just heat it up in the oven (350 degrees for 5-8 minutes) or Microwave (2 minutes). Chop up one Roma tomato, add a quick squeeze of lemon to the tomato, and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper to taste (mini fresh salsa).  Top the Salsa Salmon with this mixture and serve. Poof!  Delicious dinner in 10 minutes!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Chocolate on Chocolate Banana Bread

I'm sorry, I've been slacking. I haven't posted a banana recipe in a while (haha), but I'm here today to correct that with this Chocolate Chocolate Banana Bread. Chocolate and banana is a great combination, but double the chocolate is even better! This banana bread recipe definitely delivers the chocolate flavor and the subtle hint of banana is a nice compliment. This bread is moist and delicious and goes great with an ice cold glass of milk or a nice, hot cup of coffee.


Chocolate Chocolate Banana Bread
Makes 1 loaf, serves 10-12
Adapted from The Sisters Cafe

1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 very ripe bananas mashed (should make about 1 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips


Heat oven to 350f

Spray the bottom of a 9" loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In small bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda with a whisk or fork.

In another small bowl, mash your bananas.

In a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer on medium speed, combine the sugar, eggs and oil. Beat until combined.

Add the banana and vanilla extract and beat on low speed just until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed just until combined. Tip: Mixing just until combined will help to ensure your bread doesn't turn out dense. Over-mixing makes dense bread.

Fold in the chocolate chips. I prefer mini-chocolate chips in this recipe but you can use regular size if you prefer larger chunks of chocolate.


Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake for approx 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Tip: I tented my loaf with foil towards the end of the baking time to make sure the top didn't get too brown before it was done.

Remove from oven. Allow to cool in pan for 15 minutes. Loosen the loaf from the pan by running a butter knife along the sides. Invert, remove from pan and cool on wire rack (or enjoy while it's still warm). Tip: Slice with a serrated knife for cleaner slices.

Store leftovers tightly wrapped for 2-3 days.