Roasted Pears w/ Blood Orange & Pomegranates Recipe

I am first and foremost a gardener ~ pleased as punch to say that after 7 years of tender loving care, I have a pear crop! (Find the yummy recipe at the bottom of this blog post.)

I also have a few plums, apples, cherries and crab apples. (Look out!) I planted these saplings to feed the birds. Feel sorry for them in this harsh, high plains desert. Though I also wonder about their intelligence. Since they can fly for free, why don't they go some place lush and lovely?

Because that's what I do. Every time I bank enough frequent flier miles to do so.

Anyhoo! Planting fruit trees has worked out better than I ever expected. The birds love 'em and so do my dinner guests. This autumn I'm cooking up all kinds of special goodies...

Did you know? Each Pomegranate contains about 800 seeds and they make a delightful sweet tart garnish for pretty much anything.

Roasted Pears with Blood Orange & Pomegranates Recipe
  • 3/4 cup Red Zinfandel wine
  • 3/4 cup Pomegranate juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon cloves
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
  • 1 blood orange, peeled, sectioned
  • 1/3 cup sugar
Top with:
  • 1/2 cup fresh Pomegranate seeds
  • Truly fabulous vanilla bean ice cream
How to:
Combine top list of ingredients (everything except the sugar and pom seeds) in a sauce pan, over low heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Add sugar, stir until dissolved.

Take 6 ripe, luscious pears and partially peel them ~ create stripes by peeling lengthwise, leaving a space and peel another strip. (Makes them look very pretty and unique.) Remove the core from the bottom of the pears. Leave the stems on.

Spritz a square glass baking dish with cooking spray. Pour sauce over the pears. Roast @ 350 for about an hour.

Introducing CHEFS Wine Club!


Dried Garden Tomatoes: Save A Fortune, Come Winter

Took a walk through the Veggie Garden of Wunx last night. She had plenty of pretty flowers but what struck me when I rounded the garden corner were tomato vines, taller than me. She must have had 300 luscious tomatoes, ripening on the vine.

It got me thinking about how tricky tomato seedlings can be.

Sneaky, conniving little monsters. They act so sweet and innocent in the springtime. So tiny. There's room! Let's plant a few extras!

Twelve weeks later all hell breaks loose and, well, you can run but you can't hide.

So, it IS Labor Day weekend and these tomatoes SHOULD be red by now. They'll probably get there but how does one cope with a truckload of tomaters?

Never fear. Hazel is here. She dries tomatoes in her oven and Wunx can, too. :)

Oven-Dried Tomatoes
  • Start with firm, ripe (not overly ripe) fresh-picked tomatoes.
  • Slice cherry tomatoes in half, slice larger tomatoes into 1/2 inch pieces.
  • Sprinkle sea salt to improve flavor and speed up the drying process.
  • Set the oven to 175 - 200 degrees (F).
  • Place tomatoes, skin side down, on a baking sheet. Perforated pizza pans are great because they allow air circulation.
  • Slowly roast these babies. It could take anywhere from 3-12 hours (depending upon the size of the tomato slices.)
How to Know if You've Screwed Up:
√ Dried tomatoes are done when they feel pliable, kind of leathery.
√ If your tomatoes are brittle, they're over-done and you get an A for effort, nothing more.

To Rehydrate Dried Tomatoes:
Soak in water for 1-2 hours or toss directly into soups and stews.

You can dry green tomatoes. However, you might be a whole lot happier if you ripen them the old fashioned way and dry them when they're ready. That's why windowsills were invented, way back when.

Dolled Up Chocolate Chip Cookies ~ Recipe

I live in a world class ski resort town, which means this joint is crawling with two types of year 'round residents. The obligatory ski bums plus an astonishing number of highly talented pastry chefs ~ because tourists love to eat almost as much as they love to ski.

It gets pretty intimidating showing up at parties when your friends are paid professionals but this dolled-up recipe of my Mom's get's them every time.

Mom used to make these with milk chocolate and peanut butter chips. (Personally, I think it tastes better that way.) But, these rich, dark chocolate chips, coupled with the sweet, smooth taste of white chocolate chips makes this look like one very cool cookie...

Dolled Up Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

1 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup Better'n Eggs liquid eggs* or 2 large eggs
2+1/4 cups flour
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips

How to:
It's easier if you use 2 bowls: cream butter and sugars in one bowl. Combine dry ingredients in the other. Then stir it all up and make sure it tastes great by gobbling a good bit of the dough.

Bake @ 350 for about 10 minutes.

* Two traditional large eggs adds an extra 10 grams of fat to this recipe. I often use liquid eggs in decadent recipes because they are fat free. No one notices the difference since these recipes are so high in fat from other ingredients. Most liquid egg products contain onion powder. Better'n Eggs does not and so it doesn't mess with the flavor of my cookies. :)


Fresh-Picked Raspberry Muffin Recipe

My hard gardening work is finally paying off. The raspberry bushes in my garden are producing enough fresh fruit that I can actually make something with them!

I've baked these muffins using blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries. They're very tasty as a triple berry muffin but raspberries are my most favorite thing in the world.

We LOVE a big burst of raspberry flavor so instead of stirring the berries into the muffin mix I place them on top.

Raspberries are very fragile - this method keeps them intact while baking. The muffin mixture will rise up and gently cover the fresh berries as it bakes.

Fresh-Picked Raspberry Muffin Recipe
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
* PLUS! 1 cup fresh raspberries.

Melt the butter.
Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Combine eggs, butter and milk, add to dry ingredients.

Use a non-stick cooking spray or line muffin tins with baking cups.
Fill the muffin cups to about 2/3 full.

Last but not least! Sprinkle fresh raspberries on top of the muffin mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.

* Makes about a dozen muffins.


Medium Rare Aspirations

Meet The Beast. Got this BBQ behemoth as a birthday present. Apparently, it's quite state o' the art.

The only real downside to The Beast is that I'm afraid to turn it on. (I'm more of a Weber girl.)

Scrap whatever you're planning to make for dinner. Get thee to the store and start shoppin' for Paprika. Yup. You read right. Paprika!

You can make your own Paprika, ya know. It's not that hard. All you need to do is... whoa! Who cares? Back to the matter at hand.

I've found a steak recipe that deserves mention in my will.

You're gonna need a whole bunch of these. To blend. To roast. And, to munch on while you're cooking up a storm.

It's a dry rub plus an amazing steak sauce after which you will very quickly discard any bottles of A1 that happen to be kicking around your frig:
Here's the rub recipe:
And, the steak sauce:

All created by Iron Chef extraordinaire, Bobby Flay.

I imagine I'm breaking all sorts of laws by posting his recipe in my blog. But, once again, who cares? He's cute! If I make him so mad he calls me up and hollers at me... well... that wouldn't be half bad.

Paprika is made from grinding the dried pods of mild pepper plants. Like most things American, the paprika we're familiar with is bland to the point of being tasteless. However! Spanish and Hungarian Paprikas impart great flavor to foods. You can grow these little goodies in your garden but then you already knew that, didn't you?