Apple Pie | Fiesta Friday #35

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mini apple pies

individual apple pie

My mother is what I call a health-nut, or more accurately a superfood-addict. If possible, every meal she takes must contain at least a superfood ingredient. As long as I can remember, she has always been this way. She used to give us a spoonful of raw honey and fish oil daily when we were young. Yuck, right? I thought so. I rebelled by puking, which wasn’t hard to do. So, she stopped. At least with me, she did.

I’m not very much like my mother, preferring to eat anything I crave at the moment, superfoods involved or not. Sometimes I wonder if I was in fact switched at birth the way I’ve turned out so differently from my own mother. Or maybe I’m just more like my dad. He certainly loved his chocolate and croissants the way I do.

My mom happens to be here, visiting for a few weeks. Since week 1, she’s been sprinkling chia seeds into my coffee. No kidding! It turns my coffee into a pudding. I have to use a spoon to drink it. But she’s my mom and I love her so I let her. Honestly, I’m getting used to it. Actually, I’m beginning to like it. I still want my drinkable coffee, but the chia coffee pudding thingy isn’t half bad. Besides, she told me chia seeds have many health benefits. For one, they help her stay regular, she said. Mom!! TMI!!

Anyway, as much as I appreciate her well-meaning intentions, I can’t just stop eating what I want to eat. I’m forever a rebel. A rebel without a cause, I guess. I want my drinkable coffee and I want my sweets, something she considers the most unnecessary part of a diet. Specifically, I want my apple pie.

Apples have been on my mind lately. Can you blame me? It’s apple season, after all. My mom and I went picking and now I have apples all over the house. I mean it. I have them in the fridge. I have them in the fruit bowl on the kitchen counter. I have them in a basket on the coffee table in the living room. I have them on a platter on the ottoman in the family room. Anytime I need a snack, there’s an apple nearby.

But why have fresh apples when you can have apple pie? This, once again, is where Mom and I differ. She prefers fresh. However, as I’ve mentioned, I am forever rebelling. Plus, I am the author of this blog, and I’d say we turn some of these apples into a pie. What say you?

individual apple pies

brown sugar apple pie

Brown Sugar Mini Apple Pies

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

The crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick cold butter
1 tsp sugar
A pinch of salt
4 tbsp cold water or milk

1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt.
2. Using a fork or a pastry blender, cut butter into flour until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
3. Sprinkle water or milk 1 tablespoon at a time, while tossing lightly with a fork.
4. Add liquid until dough is just moist enough to form a ball.
5. Shape dough into a flat disk and refrigerate while making the filling.

The filling
3 medium-sized apples
3/4 cup brown sugar
5 tbsp butter
2 tsp flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1. Peel and dice apples into small cubes, place in a bowl. Sprinkle flour and toss.
2. In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter, then add sugar. Stir and let sugar melt.
3. Add apples and cook until apples are soft. Add cinnamon and stir to combine.

Making the pies
1. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into rounds big enough to cover your mini pie plates.
2. Spoon filling until it is level with the top edge of the pie plate (Or you can put more and have it mounding slightly, it’s up to you). Cover with another round piece of crust. Press edges together to seal and then flute edge.
3. Decorate with remaining scraps of crust.
4. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle raw sugar, if you like.
5. Pierce top of pie with a skewer or cut slits.
6. Bake at 375°F for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
7. Makes 4 3-inch mini pies.

***

Now it’s time for features! Thanks to my dream team, Selma and Elaine, for helping me select these outstanding posts, diamonds among gems.


Sauerkraut Dumplings from Ginger @Ginger & Bread.

In Selma’s words, “[These are] so unusual – I could eat a big plateful!! Not only an inspired combination of ingredients to tame the sauerkraut but also a very creative way to roll the filling in dough, slice and cook them. This is something that I must try!”

I just have to second Selma. These sauerkraut dumplings are so interesting that they beg to be tried. I just know I’m going to love them. I love sauerkraut + I love dumplings = I double love Sauerkraut dumplings. Right?


Pineapple Carpaccio from Swayam @La Petit Chef.

In Selma’s words, “Wow, this one got my tastebuds tingling just looking at the photos! A Bollywood party in my mouth indeed! Where was this a couple of months ago when it was too hot to cook? That dressing would also make the base of a very moreish cocktail. And what wonderful photos, too….”

This one had me at pineapple, or maybe at the color yellow. Summer on a plate! Such gorgeous photos and presentation of sliced pineapple. Simple and sophisticated at the same time. How is that possible? Only Swayam can do that. Way to go, Swayam!


Christmas in August from Chava @flavourphotos.

In Elaine’s words, “I love Christmas and these beautiful photos of colorful Christmas decorations made me smile so much, I don’t care what time of year it is.”

I’m with Elaine on this one. Christmas is the one time of the year I look forward to. Well, maybe my birthday, too. And my anniversary. And Valentine’s day. And Easter. And Halloween. And Thanksgiving….no, not Thanksgiving ‘coz I have to wrestle a big turkey. I think I just love holidays, but Christmas is my favorite so I don’t mind it coming a little early. Not at all. Looking at those Christmas decorations actually made me very happy, Chava! Thank you!


Almond-Crusted Pork Scallopini with Apples and Arugula from Josette @thebrookcook.

Pork and apples are a match made in heaven, showcased here beautifully by Josette. I love the idea of adding arugula, which is unusual, but why not? I got a bed full of arugula still out there. I’ve been looking at it and scratching my head what to do. And you know I have apples coming out of my ears, so apples & arugula are a match made in heaven, too, I’ve decided.


Chicken Enchilada Casserole from Arlene @Arl’s World.

Okay, confession time. This is the kind of meal that I want to eat most days, and is in fact what I serve in my house most days. Comforting, full of flavors, simple to make and can be made ahead in big batches. Casseroles are a busy girl’s best friends, I swear. This one looks so yummy, Arlene!

There you have it, folks, our features for FF34!

***

Now it’s time to party, FF35 style! With my BFFs (Blogger Friends Forever) Prudy and Naina. Please join them for a few days of fun and chitchat and getting to know each other and swapping recipes and sharing stories, etc., etc. You know how it goes, right?

Click on the button below to join the party. If you’re new to Fiesta Friday, please read the guidelines.

Claudia

Kaila

Lisa

Michelle

Sonal

Indira

Arl

Josette

Nimmi

Martina

Andrea

Justine

Shelly

NancyC

Dimple

Andrea

Shelly

Juju

Ahila

Naina

Stephanie

Nell

Meaghan

Meaghan

Julie

Mr Fitz

Charanya

Noony

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Loretta

Linda

Cristina

Lina

Jodi via Jhuls

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Anjana

Sarah

Nino

Sue

Michelle

Cat

Elaine

Julianna

Krumkaker

Hannah

Hannah

Lori

Su

Ginger

Skd

Katie

Apsara

Hilda

Prudy

Jess

Cynthia

Sarah

MB

Anna

Nicky

Ted

Ted

Claudia

V & V

Mr Fitz

Mandi

Michelle

Sylvia

Suzanne

Tracey

Ted

Ted

Chitra

Chitra

Indu

Mr Fitz

Petra

Andy

Mila

Ted

Ted

Shikha

Nimmi

Ted

Ted

Fida

Anugya

Anugya

You’re next!

You’re next!

Meals with Mom | Fiesta Friday #34

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Look, I made this poster!

food art poster

And this big bowl of salad.

big salad bowl

With foraged finds from my backyard.

Okay, they are not exactly foraged finds. They are vegetables and flowers that I planted.

Well, most of them are. Some are really weeds that planted themselves.

What I’m trying to say is that my garden has become a jungle mess due to neglect and uncare (is that a word?), with cultivated vegetables mingling happily with uncultivated weeds, that it felt like I was foraging when I picked them.

Truthfully, I quite enjoyed picking these surprises. It was like….hey look, I found lettuce in here, woohoo! Where did they come from? Oh, yeah, I planted them way back. Good to know they stayed alive. And look, there is even purslane growing with them. I love that in a salad, so let’s pick some of that, too.

So, I picked a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Before I knew it, I had a big bowl of salad. How cool is that? I sound like Ina Garten, but hey, how cool is that? Isn’t she always saying things like that? Like….how easy was that? ….how was that for easy?….how pretty is that? …etc., etc.

Anyway, I just want to show you that sometimes it pays to keep a garden, even if it’s neglected, or even if you have a resident groundhog. ‘Coz you’ll never know, some days you might end up with a big bowl of salad.

salad bowl

Or a poster.

salad poster

So, what does this have anything to do with meals with mom? Well, as you know, my mom is here visiting. Unfortunately, not for much longer. Fortunately, since she’s been here, my diet has become much more varied and gasp, healthy! She is somewhat of a health-nut, my mother. So, most meals we have at home these past few weeks typically involve healthy ingredients. This salad, served on quinoa, is no exception. She even insisted on adding chia seeds to my vinaigrette. Not a bad insistence, actually. The chia added a bit of crunch.

salad on quinoa

Chia Seed Vinaigrette


1 tbsp raw chia seeds
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tsp agave nectar or honey or sugar
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients in a jar. Place the lid tightly, and shake until vinaigrette is emulsified. Makes a little over 1/2 cup.

***

Thanks to Sylvia and Andrea for co-hosting last week’s fiesta. They helped me select the following features:


Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream from Michelle @Giraffes Can Bake.

Pumpkins are on my mind these days. Probably ‘coz I’m seeing pumpkins everywhere! So, this immediately got my attention. I don’t know any other more creative use of pumpkin than this one. This even beats Harry Potter’s pumpkin juice. Yes, ice cream beats juice anytime! I am so making this, Michelle! And I don’t even need an ice cream maker. Might as well. Mine just died on me.


2 Recipes, Eating Clean and Special Walnuts from Suzanne @apuginthekitchen.

Aaw, this is such a sweet post. I just love it when Fiesta Friday friends get together, and even more when somehow food is involved. Suzanne’s healthy recipes feature special walnuts gifted by Patty. That makes the recipes even more meaningful, doesn’t it? I think so. Besides, this is a must-pick post for me this week, in honor of my mom and her healthy-eating style. She loves these recipes.


Apple Turnovers from Naina @Spice In The City.

In Sylvia’s words, “I simply love the pictures on the garden setting, I feel transported right into an apple orchard and the pastry looks so fresh, I can only imagine how juicy and fruity they taste!”

If I’m not thinking of pumpkins, I’m definitely thinking of apples. It’s the season, after all. Naina always has a way of making her food so darn irresistible. It’s the way she presents them. Those turnovers got me all hungry, what else but for some sweet, juicy, apple-y dessert.

So I was overjoyed when I saw Ngan @ngan made it came with her French Apple Cake. Isn’t it a beauty?

Andrea thinks so. In her words, “I knew I’d love this French Apple Cake when I saw it at Fiesta Friday. One slice of the cake says it all. Layers of sliced apples and custard topped with powdered sugar. I can imagine it to be as sweet and luxurious as Ngan says it is. It’s just perfect for the fall season!”

***

It’s time for Fiesta Friday #34! The dream team of Selma @Selma’s Table and Elaine @Foodbod gets together once more to share co-hosting duties with me. We are waiting to welcome you to the party!

Click on the button below to join the party. If you’re new to Fiesta Friday, please read the guidelines.

Jhuls

Michelle via Jhuls

Lisa

Tina

Cynthia

Cynthia

Ginger

Moody Foody

Julianna

Moody Foody

Meaghan

Meaghan

Lori

Krumkaker

Andrea

Skd

Moody Foody

Mr Fitz

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Selma

Nell

Justine

Kaila

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Swayam

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Su

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MB

MB

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Nicky

Chava

NancyC

Julie

Arl

Stephanie

Charanya

Nancy

Sue

Jing

Cat

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Lina

Sarah

Naina

Tracey

Sarah

Sonal

Hannah

Jess M

Aditi & Nikhil

Anna

Andrea

Mr Fitz

Chitra

Chitra

Petra

Shelly

Mandi

Mr Fitz

Josette

Mr Fitz

Hilda

V & V

Jess

Sarah

Ted

Ted

Johanne

Johanne

Johanne

Apsara

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Sarah

Stephanie

Stephanie

Ted

Ted

Swayam

Michelle

Ted

Ted

Indu

Anugya

Anugya

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Rainbow Pizza with Kale Parmesan Crust | Fiesta Friday #33

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rainbow pizza the novice gardener

rainbow pizza

My baby girl showed me a picture of this rainbow pizza she found on Tumbler, a while ago. She asked me to make her one. But I was really dragging my feet about it, not wanting to think too hard about what ingredients I would have to search to satisfy ROY G. BIV. In case you didn’t know, thinking too hard hurts my brain. What does that tell you about my brain capacity? The answer, not much.

And then, we were driving somewhere, and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, a rainbow popped. Yeah, just like that, POPPED! It looked kinda like this.

rainbow

And then, I was digging somewhere in the garden, and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, these purple potatoes popped. Seriously! I didn’t plant them. At least not this year. What does that say about my potato-digging skill? Yeah, not that great. They obviously came back from tubers that I had left in the ground the previous year.

purple fingerling potatoes

And then, I came home from work and my mother, who happens to be visiting, served me this beautiful salad. Yeah, she is awesome, my mom.

rainbow salad

I took it that these were signs that I should make the rainbow pizza. If my mom could make that rainbow salad for her baby girl, I certainly should at least make an effort to make my baby girl her rainbow pizza. Don’t you agree?

So, baby girl, this is for you! By the way, how did you grow so fast? Can I still call you “baby” next year, when for sure you’ll be taller than me? Maybe I should stop feeding you, so you won’t grow anymore. :-) I hope you like this!

Love,
Mom

rainbow pizza

rainbow pizza with kale parmesan crust

Rainbow Pizza with Kale Parmesan Crust

  • Difficulty: moderate (Only because you have to line up the toppings evenly to create the rainbow effect.)
  • Print

The crust
1 package (23 oz.) ready-made pizza dough
1 cup cooked kale leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Squeeze any liquid out of kale leaves, by using a potato ricer or a tea towel. They must be completely dry.
2. Stretch pizza dough into a rectangle about 1/2-inch thick.
3. Sprinkle chopped kale leaves and Parmesan cheese.

kale parmesan pizza crust

4. Roll dough jelly roll style. Then cut into thirds.
5. Shape each third portion into the shape of a rainbow.

kale parmesan pizza base

6. Makes 3 small pizza, about 4 x 10 inches.

The toppings
R (Red) – Cherry tomatoes, chopped
O (Orange) – Bell pepper, diced
Y (Yellow) – Bell pepper, diced
G (Green) – Broccoli, chopped
B (Blue) – Purple Cabbage, chopped & steamed
I (indigo) – Purple Japanese eggplant or purple potatoes, diced
V (Violet) – Red Onion, diced

Pizza or Tomato sauce
Shredded Mozzarella cheese
Shredded Provolone Cheese

1. Spread pizza/tomato sauce on rainbow-shaped pizza crust.
2. Sprinkle the cheeses.
3. Lay vegetables on top of the cheese in the order of the colors of a rainbow (ROYGBIV).
4. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 450°F, for 15 minutes.

I hope my co-hosts, Andrea @Cooking with a Wallflower and Sylvia @Superfoodista, like this recipe. I know these two are into healthy food. The kale crust and all the colorful veggie toppings should satisfy the health quota of the day, yes?

Now, with the help of my FF32 co-host, Hilda @Along The Grapevine, I’m presenting FF32 features:


Fig and Grape Pie from Sue @Birgerbird. In Hilda’s words, “Sue escorted us through her local market on a fascinating grape tasting tour where I suddenly found myself craving grapes I didn’t even know existed. She then took us step by step through the creation of an elegant and seasonal Fig and Grape Pie. The roasted fruit on a flaky pastry is a perfect dish to celebrate the end of the summer season. I shall take those beautiful images with me to market and hope to find suitable ingredients and try to replicate this.”

You know what’s better than a fig pie? A fig and grape pie, of course! Just like I can never resist figs, I can’t seem to stay away from grapes, either. Two favorite fruits in a single pie! I love ya, Sue! In an enraged kind of way, ‘coz now you’ve made me crave this pie, and I know there’s no bakery in the world who makes and sells it. So, I will have to make it myself. Thanks a lot, Sue! :-)


Dark Chocolate Oat and Seed Snacks from Nourished Roots. My mom is a guest at our house and I asked her to pick a feature and this is her pick. Why am I not surprised? Let’s just say she’s a health addict. The quinoa, hemp and chia listed in the ingredients are enough to seal the selection for her. I happen to stock my pantry with these super foods regularly, so you know what Mom and I will be making, right? Thank you so much, Nourished Roots, for sharing a wonderful, healthy recipe with us at the fiesta!


Crispy Tofu and Pineapple Salsa in Hibiscus and Rosehip Tea from Petra @Food Eat Love. In Hilda’s words, “Petra amazed me with her contribution of a light dish, as pretty to look at as it is great to eat. [It] has more flavours and textures than most meals where I come from. Also beautifully presented were her Beetroot Salad with Whipped Feta Dressing and a Roasted Squash Salad – a truly winning selection of tantalizing treats!”

I don’t know what to say, Petra! I’ve said it before that I think you can run a gourmet restaurant if you wanted to. I don’t know anybody who can come up with such flavor combinations unless they’re professionally trained. You know, like Iron Chefs. What a recipe!


Extra Delicious Fried Modaks from Swayam @Là Petit Chef. I love it when I learn something new. I had never heard of Modaks before, Swayam! I actually thought they were some kind of wontons when I first saw your post. Let’s just say I wasn’t disappointed when I found out I was wrong. Why, these modaks look and sound tantalizing with their filling of jaggery and coconut. Plus, they look so adorable! I wouldn’t mind tucking into a few of these. Do they travel well? I’m not at all suggesting that you ship some to me, Swayam. Just asking. Really. Promise. Swear. :-)

Okay, let’s party, people! FF33 is officially open! Click on the button below to join the party. If you’re new to Fiesta Friday, please read the guidelines.

Michelle

Michelle

Tina

Indira

Skd

Claudia

Juju

Lisa

Su

MB

MB

Justine

Nell

Jaclyn via Jhuls

Swayam

Swayam

Swayam

Meghan

Kaila

Steven

Ahila

Krumkaker

NancyC

Melissa

Loretta

Arl

Jun & Priscilla

Stephanie

Elaine

Erika

Hilda

Nancy

Jing

Julie

Sarah

Linda

Sue

Nicky

Anjana

Anjana

Ngan

Lina

Aditi & Nikhil

Tracy

Lori

Julianna

Katkapow

Cat

Meaghan

Meaghan

Pridhi

Josette

Naina

Ivy

Apsara

Dimple

Cynthia

Justyna

Chava

Shelly

Tracey

Stephanie

MB

Anna

Lindy

Jess

Ted

Ted

Jess M

Andrea

Chitra

Chitra

Sylvia

Claudia

Cristina

Martina

Mandi

Namrata

Indu

Anna

Sonal

Sarah

Mr Fitz

Ted

Ted

Petra

Ted

Ted

Su

Ted

Ted

Andy

Suzanne

Nimmi

Mr Fitz

Mr Fitz

Polianthus

Ted

Ted

Shelly

Shikha

Namrata

Moody Foody

Cynthia

Ted

Ted

Aruna

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Best Chili con Carne ever! (Includes vegan version) | Fiesta Friday #32

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chili tostada stack

chili con carne on tostada shells

This is my sister-in-law’s award-winning chili recipe. How generous of her to share it with me. Her secret ingredient is Angry Orchard. How generous of me to divulge that right off the bat, instead of making you read ’til the end of the post to find out.

My husband loves, loves chili con carne! Served on rice or bread or tostada shells, with french fries or crackers or nacho chips, it doesn’t matter much to him. He just loves it! So I was constantly on the hunt to find a better recipe but I think the hunt is finally over. I’ve found the best!

chili con carne on rice

It totally blew my mind when my SIL told me her secret ingredient. First of all, I never even had an Angry Orchard before. My GF BIL (gluten-free, not girlfriend. C’mon, would that even make sense?) introduced it to me. OMG, IWLAFS (it was love at first sip, duh!). It’s much easier communicating with acronyms, SSMT (saves so much time). BNIIHTKE (But not if I have to keep explaining) so I’ll stop.

I did modify her recipe a teensy bit. For the chili con carne, I omitted the beans and added beef pieces, instead. That way my son would eat it, too. He claims he’s allergic to beans. I know for a fact that he’s not, but I humor him all the same. The things you do for your kids!

The vegan version, on the other hand, is for my daughter. She claims ground meat makes her gag. I know for a fact this is the absolute truth, so I always make her something different whenever I’m serving anything with ground meat. The things you do for your kids!

(P.S. I’m not being paid by Angry Orchard to write this. I should be! But really, you don’t have to use Angry Orchard. You can use any hard cider or beer. The Angry Orchard, I think, gives this chili its sweet taste, which you may or may not prefer. Substitute with beer if you don’t like your chili on the sweet side.)

chili con carne

My Sister-in-law's Chili con Carne


1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 lb beef chuck roast, cut up into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbsp (heaping) chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
1 (29 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) tomato sauce or 2 cups homemade tomato sauce
One (12 oz) bottle Angry Orchard hard cider
Salt & pepper or beef bouillon cubes, to taste

1. In a large Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, brown ground beef and chuck roast in 1 tbsp of oil. When meat is browned, remove from pot and drain excess oil. Set aside.
2. Add 1 more tbsp of oil to the pot and sauté onions and peppers until soft. Add garlic and continue to cook until garlic is fragrant. Stir in chipotle peppers.
3. Add the meat back into the pot.
4. Stir in chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Continue to cook and stir, scraping the browned bits that form on the bottom of the pan, about 3-5 minutes. This will create a lot of flavor for your chili. You may reduce the heat slightly if it browns too quickly.
5. Add the cider, stir it down, then add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce.
6. Let it simmer for about 2 hours or until sauce is reduced and chili is thick, stirring every now and then to prevent sticking. Add salt & pepper or bouillon as needed.
7. Serve on rice or tostada shells. Garnish as desired, with shredded cheddar cheese, jalapeño slices, chopped fresh tomato, diced avocado or green onions.

The vegan version
vegan chili with crumbled tofu and tempeh

Substitute the meat with chopped or mashed-up frozen tofu that has been thawed and roasted crumbled tempeh. I wouldn’t recommend using fresh tofu for this, since it’s too soft. Freezing tofu causes it to become more chewy and dense, therefore making it suitable for longer cooking such as a slow simmer in chili or stew. To freeze tofu, simply place the package in a freezer for a minimum of 24 hours or until completely solid. You can thaw frozen tofu at room temperature or in a bowl of warm water. Once thawed, squeeze tofu dry before using.

frozen tofu

For each 1 lb of meat, substitute with 2 cups of crumbled tofu + 1 cup of crumbled tempeh. A can of beans (pinto, red kidney or black) may be added as well.

***

I’m so grateful to Hilda @Along The Grapevine for assisting me with selecting features from FF31. She knew I was feeling under the weather and offered to help. She visited all the links on my behalf. She is also co-hosting FF32 with me. I can’t thank her enough for her thoughtfulness and most of all, her friendship.

Without further ado, here are features from Fiesta Friday #31:


Truffle Mac and Cheese Bun Burgerfrom Sarah @Sarah ‘n Spice. In Hilda’s word, “I had a feeling when I saw the title that it was not going to be the old mac and cheese in a box, but had no idea how far outside the box this recipe was. The flavors of mushroom and truffle butter were enough to pique my interest, but the thoroughly original technique of making a bun out of these ingredients wowed me! I can’t wait to try these myself!”

In my words, “Uhm………..uhm………. I don’t have any words! I’m speechless!” I was truly bowled over by these. For a minute or so, I just sat there looking at the burger and the buns with my mouth wide open, at a loss for words. Those buns are just too awesome for words. Just so creative and original. Are you sure you’re not an Iron Chef in disguise, Sarah?

Black Forest, Goat Cheese Brownies from Julianna @Foodie On Board. Once again, I’m speechless! Just an incredible recipe for a brownie. This is the stuff that only the very talented can think of. Goat cheese and cherries? In a brownie? Wow! Uhm………..uhm……….told you I’m speechless.


Pork Tenderloin with Mango Pineapple Salsa from Juju @cookingwithauntjuju. I have to admit I find cooking with pork challenging. Most of the time, my chops end up dry, no matter how thickly I have them cut. No wonder I don’t have that many tried and true pork recipes. Enter Juju’s Pork Tenderloin. Just reading the ingredients, I can tell this will be one of my most successful pork dishes when I try it. How can it not? First it’s seasoned with a spice rum, then slathered with a rum glaze, and finally served with a tropical salsa of mango and pineapple. Sounds so fabulous, Juju! This is an excellent pork recipe!


Gulab Phirni / Rose Rice Pudding with fresh Fruits from Namrata @MyFoodTapestry. In Hilda’s words, “This festive dessert would be the perfect ending to any fine meal, but the aromatic and creamy sweetness would be especially good after a spicy dinner. I feel as if I am being transported to the subcontinent just thinking about these exotic flavors.”

This has got to be the prettiest rice pudding I have ever seen. And the flavors of saffron, cardamom, and rose water would make it a standout among other rice puddings. I also love the way this post is written. Reads almost like poetry, doesn’t it? Wonderful post, Namrata!

***

Once again, thanks to Hilda for helping me select these features. And now she’s even helping me start Fiesta Friday #32. What a gal!

Click on the button below to join the party. If you’re new to Fiesta Friday, please read the guidelines.

Kaila

Claudia

Lisa

Josette

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Bruschetta or Crostini ?| Fiesta Friday #31

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bruschetta antipasti

My nephew, the O, is attending Cornell University this Fall. It’s far, far away from his home, but sort of close to my home, if you consider a 4-hour drive close. Being a loving and considerate young man, he made a stop at our home. So he could see his cousins first, before going off to college, since it had been almost 2 years since he last saw them.

Actually, I made him come. No, actually, I wanted to send him off properly. It’s not every day that you have a nephew going to an Ivy League. Plus, I’m like the embarrassing and un-cool aunt who wants to hang out with her nephews and nieces, all the time. It’s not my fault I like being around them. It’s their fault for being so much fun.

I personally escorted him to Cornell, how was that? Don’t worry, I knew enough not to insert myself unwanted. All I was going to do was interrogate his roommate, nothing major. What?? You’ll never know nowadays of whom you’d end up meeting. Who knows, his roommate might very well be the next Bill Nye, the most recognizable Cornellian. Stranger things have happened.

Actually, the most interesting Cornellian, in my estimation, is Pearl S. Buck, but she’s a woman and my nephew’s roommate is obviously a young man. A courteous and unassuming young man, it turned out, which greatly reassured us. In fact, I thought Cornell students look to be down-to-earth, well-behaved, happy, friendly and helpful. The school feels wholesome and is so green! Just beautiful!

The trip to Cornell also allowed me to expose my own children to what college life is like, and if they continue to study hard, who knows, they might end up in an Ivy League institution, too. You’ll never know. Stranger things have happened.

Before going off, I cooked the O a big Italian dinner. I slaved all day in the kitchen to make him this meal.

bruschetta and crostini party

I jest, obviously. Bruschettas and crostini are about the easiest things you can make. But you won’t tell anyone, will you? It’ll be our little secret.

These appetizers can really save the day when you’re entertaining on short notice. A bruchetta or crostini party can be both filling and satisfying. Just think of all the possible toppings, both savory and sweet. You don’t need to serve different antipasto, primo, secondo, or even dolce. Just make sure you have plenty of wine. Well, actually, I would still serve a dolce, but that’s just me.

A Bruschetta or Crostini Party

Crostini is Italian for “little toasts”. They’re very similar to bruschetta in that the name actually refers to the bread, not the toppings. So for those of you (I used to be one) who think that you’re buying a bruschetta when you go to Sam’s Club and get yourself a jar of chunky and garlicky tomato sauce labelled “Tuscan Bruschetta”, well…..let’s just say you’re really buying a jar of chunky and garlicky tomato sauce, not bruschetta.

Bruschetta refers to the slice of bread itself, that has been grilled or toasted and then rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil. Toppings may be added.

Crostini, meanwhile, are smaller and thinner slices of bread that have been toasted until they’re crisp and topped with various toppings.

So, the difference is subtle and sometimes the lines are blurred. I’d like to think that crostini are more dainty while bruschettas are more rustic. Whatever you prefer to call them, we really shouldn’t squabble about two equally delicious appetizers.

bruschetta and crostini
On the left, big = bruschetta. On the right, tiny = crostini. Does anybody really care about the difference or lack thereof? They’re both superb!

For bruschetta
1 ciabatta or Italian bread (any crusty long loaf will do)
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
Extra virgin olive oil

1. Slice bread thickly (about 1-inch).
2. Grill bread slices or toast in oven, for about 3-5 minutes or until golden brown.
3. Rub garlic on grilled/toasted bread, and drizzle a little olive oil.
4. Top as desired.

For crostini
1 baguette, sliced thinly (about 1/2-inch)
Extra virgin olive oil

1. Brush slices of bread with olive oil.
2. Toast in pre-heated 350°F oven until crisp and golden brown, about 5 minutes.
3. Top as desired.

Topping ideas
There is no fast rule or limit. Whatever takes your fancy. My favorite are those with tomatoes, either fresh or roasted. If you can get your hands on them, try using heirloom tomatoes or those extra-sweet cherry tomatoes.

roasted tomato bruschetta

heirloom tomato bruschetta

More topping ideas
Creamy cheese, such as ricotta, burrata or goat cheese with sliced fruits, drizzled with honey and topped with crushed candied walnuts.
crostini with cheese plums and walnuts

Caramelized onions with roasted peppers and shaved Parmesan.
caramelized onion and pepper bruschetta

Pesto, basil & pine nuts and pea & mint.
pesto

***

Features from FF30 are:


Waffle Sandwiches with Avocado, Caramelized Onions, & a Fried Egg from Katie @Le Petit Artichaut. This is what Margy has to say, “Are you sure you can call this a sandwich??? In my mind, this recipe shakes up the entire category of sandwiches.”

This is what I have to say, “Are you sure you can call this a sandwich??? (triple question marks) I think you’ve just shaken up the entire world’s idea of a sandwich, Katie!!! (triple exclamation points) What a recipe!”


Wild Apple and Rose Geranium Jelly from Hilda @Along The Grapevine. In Margy’s words, “Do I need a motivation, for real? I think not. I cannot help but admire Hilda for her passion and deep knowledge of plants and fruits. She made a unique apple jelly. Really, that’s enough for me,”

Uhm…Hilda, I also have such an apple tree. I usually just let the squirrels have at it, but maybe I should steal some from them this year. That pretty jelly convinced me. All I need is a rose-scented geranium. Or maybe I can use my rose water? Since I still have almost a full bottle and no idea what else to use it for except for a few desserts, and I mean like 2 recipes. Great, great way to use those less-than-perfect apples!


Leche Puto from Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook. Oh, c’mon, this is so not fair! How could you tease us so, Jhuls?? I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s half cake and half flan. That is so clever! I love cakes and I’ve never turned down any flan, so this one is definitely on my must-try list. Just an excellent recipe from The So Clever Cook!


Easy Peasy Pudding Rhubarb Swirl Cheesecake from Emma @EmmaSouthLondon. No way, you cannot be serious! This is an easy peasy cheesecake that took only 20 minutes to prepare? I’m in! Looks so delectable and such a happy color. Love it, Emma! Will. Try. For. Sure.

***

Fiesta Friday #31 is officially open. This is my last weekend before work starts, so of course I got sick and of course I forgot to get co-hosts. But don’t worry, I’m on antibiotics so I’m alive and kicking and will be eager to party with you. All the way from Charlottesville, Virginia. One last trip. I intend to squeeze my summer dry. And I will end it with a bang, by partying with all of my friends, all of you. So link up, everybody, I’ll be waiting!

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