Fruit Intentions and Blueberry Lemon Bars

Fruit Intentions.  Somewhat like good intentions, but with fruit.  You see, I have a problem.  Okay, maybe it's not like a real problem, but I can't seem to curb my fruit buying issue.  This wouldn't ordinarily seem like a problem, but when I buy fruit it seems like it gets purchased only to meet an untimely demise in my trash can.

I looooove fruit, I just don't looooove the work associated with it.  Yes, work.  I generally opt for bananas.  Simple.  You peel.  No washing, de-stemming, drying.  And right about now you could say I'm a bit lazy, and I probably wouldn't disagree.  I try to overcome this laziness practically every grocery store visit by purchasing grapes, blueberries, or strawberries with the intentions of "doing good" with them.  I'm motivated seeing them in my cart, until it gets home and is tossed in the fridge where it's long forgotten about or to be honest, ignored.  Ignored until it's a moldy, prune-like mess.

Oh the guilt!  Guilt for wasting the money.  Guilt for letting beautiful fruit go un-enjoyed.  But not today!  All I needed was some inspiration to make use of the blueberries sitting in my produce drawer.

If you're like me, and needing some fruit inspiration, this is a beautiful (and tasty) home for your fruit.  You'll pour those berries into a light and creamy batter, that has just a slight touch of lemon.  You could use raspberries or blackberries too, if those happen to be lingering in your fridge.  Or maybe you're nothing like me and perhaps even giving me the side-eye for being so strange.  It happens.

Blueberry Lemon Bars
inspired by Sugar Plum                    

-1 package Sugar Cookie Mix
-1 stick unsalted butter, softened
-1 egg
-1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9x13 pan with foil, leaving edges hanging over.  Spray foil with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Mix the crust ingredients together until combined and a dough ball forms.  Press dough evenly into the bottom of foil lined pan.  Lightly moisten your hands with water to press dough to prevent sticking.  Bake for 15 minutes.

-12 oz. cream cheese, softened
-3/4 c. granulated sugar
-1 tsp. lemon zest
-3 Tbsp. lemon juice, approx. juice of 1 large lemon
-1 tsp. almond extract
-1/8 tsp. cinnamon
-2 large eggs
-1 pint of blueberries

1.  Cream together cream cheese and sugar.  Whip until smooth.  Add lemon zest, lemon juice, and almond extract, and cinnamon.  Mix until combined.  Add eggs, and blend into batter.  Gently fold in blueberries.

2.  Pour filling over sugar cookie crust.  Bake 20 minutes.

-1 c. brown sugar, packed
-1 c. vanilla wafer, large crumb/chunk
-3/4 c. flour
-1/4 tsp. salt
-1/4 tsp. cinnamon
-dash nutmeg
-6 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

1.  Stir together all the dry ingredients.  Add the butter and work it into the dry mix with your fingers, a fork, or a pastry blender.  I used fingers-they work!

2.  Sprinkle topping over cooked filling.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until topping is golden brown.

3.  Let bars cool at room temp until pan is cool enough to handle easily with hands, about 1-2 hours.  Cover with foil and place in the fridge until completely cool, 2-3 hours.  Pull bars out of pan using foil edges and cut as desired.  Store in fridge until ready to serve.  Enjoy!

We keep it simple.  Like my fruit.

And Now, A Favorite

Childhood memories.  Unlike this lovely photo, most of all my good ones do not revolve around food.  See exhibit A.  Now, don't go crying for me, clearly I turned out all right.  I swear.

However, there are always exceptions.  Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes are that exception.  But first, a little information:

My mom was a very busy lady, in fact, she still is, and so I certainly don't hold it against her for lack of home-cooked meals growing up.  In our line of work we find that most families can't/don't find the time to cook homemade meals.  I don't judge, and like I've said in the past, I bake.  It is rare that I cook.  And I bake because I enjoy it and it actually relieves stress...for me.  I know it can cause stress in others, however, this recipe won't.  Maybe that is why it worked perfectly for my mom, but no matter, this recipe is ingenious either way.

For a long time, these Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes are what I would request for my birthday.  I always felt proud to take them to school because they were different and special.  Just like me! Ha!

This year for my son's fourth birthday, while some might expect I would have made something "fancy", I went with this family classic.  My favorite food memory as a child.  Thanks mom!

Ice Cream Cone Cupcakes

What You Will Need
-Your choice of box cake mix, I used Rainbow Chip
-24 cake ice cream cones
-Frosting of choice, I went with one of my favorites (thanks Best Bites)

1.  Make your cake batter as instructed on the box.

2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place cones in each cupcake pan well.  To ensure better stabilization of cones, make sure to smooth off any rough edges on the base of the cone.

3.  Fill cones half full; don't go above where the cone begins to widen.  I use an ice cream scoop to get the batter in the cones.  If you overfill, your cupcake batter will overflow.  But worse things have happened!

4.  Using a steady hand, place the cones in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes.  A toothpick should come out clean and the cake should spring lightly to the touch.

5.  Let your cupcakes cool before frosting.  If you don't want to make your own frosting, pick your favorite canned kind, mine is Rainbow Chip.  Yum!  For this occasion I made Our Best Bites white frosting.  It is unique in that it uses flour.  The texture of the finished frosting is smooth and light.  Almost like whipped cream, but richer.  I love it.  If you're making frosting, do it while your cupcakes cool.

6.  Top your cupcake cones with frosting.  I used a large round tip because I wanted the look of soft serve ice cream.  Now, you're finished!  Enjoy OR you can continue doing what I did for these particular cupcake cones.

7.  To continue, you will be making a chocolate topping.  Mine comes from Bakers Royale.
-2/3 c. dark chocolate
-2 Tbsp. heavy cream
-4 Tbsp. powdered sugar, sifted
-4-5 Tbsp. warm water

Place chocolate and heavy cream in a bowl.  Place bowl over pot of simmering water and let sit without touching for 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir until combined.  Add powdered sugar and stir until smooth.  Add your water a Tablespoon at a time, stirring after each addition until you get the pouring consistency you desire.

I placed my pouring chocolate in a small squeeze bottle to get my desired look over the frosting.  You could also slowly pour from a spoon.  Make sure the pouring chocolate isn't too hot, you don't want it to melt the frosting.

I immediately sprinkled with some multi-colored non-pariels.  You could place a red M&M aka "the cherry" on top if you wanted a more original ice cream cone sundae look.

Now watch children destroy these.  Like mine did.

In a Jar, In a Car...Orange Tiramisu

Tiramisu.  My husband was convinced that it was my favorite dessert.  It may or may not have something to do with the fact I was ordering it whenever we went out to dinner.  Let me see, the dessert does seem to cover many of my favorite food groups-Coffee, Alcohol, Chocolate.  Those are food groups, right?

I've never made the stuff.  Maybe because it's a dessert that is so easily accessible at restaurants.  Maybe I loved keeping it on a pedestal, like a mystic dessert that could never be touched.  So I guess this means I'm growing as a person, or something like that, because I made it-just not the traditional way.

I found this recipe for Orange Tiramisu, bookmarked it and filed it under "Various Desserts", aka, the file that rarely sees the glow of my computer screen.  I can't really say what brought it to my attention this week, but I bought myself some ladyfingers and bit the bullet.  And because I thought it would be an easier way to share, I put them in jars.  Jars are my new thing since we moved to the "country"-stop me when I begin pickling everything and start storing for the impending apocalypse.

Anyway... Dessert in a jar.  How can you resist?

What you will need:
-One recipe for Orange Tiramisu
( I found mine here, at Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy)
-6, 8 oz wide-mouthed Ball jars
-1, 7 oz package of Ladyfingers

1.  Make your Orange-Rum Syrup
-1/2 c. orange juice
-1/4 c. dark rum
-1/4 c. orange liquor such as, Cointreau or Grand Marnier
-1 c. granulated sugar

Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until it thickens to a thin syrup consistency.  Remove from heat and cool.

2.  Make your Zabaglione
-6 egg yolks
-3/4 c. granulated sugar
-1/2 c. marsala wine, not the red kind
-1 lb. mascarpone cheese
-1 c. heavy cream
-1 tsp. vanilla extract

Bring a pot of water to a simmer.  Beat egg yolks in a heat-proof bowl until they are "fluffy" or as fluffy as yolks can get.  Mine became creamy looking and increased in volume.  Beat in sugar and marsala wine.  Place bowl over simmering water.  Whisk until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes; it will start to bubble, but do not let it boil.  Remove bowl from heat and let cool.

To make the whipped cream, if possible, place a metal bowl and your whisk attachment(s) in the freezer.  This helps the cream to thicken faster.  With the cream in your bowl start whisking slowly, add the vanilla, and then slowly increase the speed to high.  Whisk until the cream is thick and forms peaks.

Whisk cooled egg mixture with the mascarpone cheese.  Whisk until smooth; when no lumps are visible.  Fold in the whipped cream until you have a lovely thick and creamy mixture.

3.  Begin assembling your Tiramisu
-Combine 1 c. orange juice with your Orange-Rum Syrup

Pour your syrup in your best cookie-dunking cup.  Take 2 ladyfingers and cut about 1/2 inch off the ends to ensure their fit in the jar.  Give the ladyfingers and the cut off pieces a quick dunk in the syrup and place in the bottom of your jar.  Spoon a generous amount of zabaglione over the ladyfingers and repeat the layer of ladyfingers and zabaglione.  Repeat until you have filled 6 jars.

Dust the tops with cocoa powder, or using a fine plane zester, grate come bittersweet chocolate over the tops.  Garnish with orange peel if desired.

Refrigerate for 3-4 hours.  Share your desserts with others or keep them all to yourself... I won't tell!

These are "orangey" and not your traditional tasting tiramisu.  If you wanted to add even more orange goodness to them, zest an orange and fold in with the whipped cream of the final step in making your zabaglione.

Finally, you will have leftover zabaglione.  I highly recommend using it as another simple dessert by spooning some over fresh fruit, such as strawberries and/or blueberries.