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Persimmon Cranberry Parfait

A simple persimmon parfait made with granola and yogurt. Nothing fancy, just good.

 

Next time you get a craving for something sweet and healthy, delicious and easy to make, give these Persimmon Cranberry Parfaits a try.  They’re nothing fancy but they definitely will make you feel like you’re eating something fancy.  Fresh persimmons and dried cranberries are heated in orange juice and a splash of liquor, then layered with yogurt, granola and a few chopped nuts.  A delicious little treat in less than 15 minutes!

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Spiked Poached Pears

Pears poached in apple cider, Cointreau and spice

 

One of the flavors of the fall that I really enjoy is that of a perfectly poached pear.  Poaching transforms an under-ripe, rather tasteless pear into a tender and delicately flavored bite.  This Spiked Poached Pear recipe has been used for many types of pears and the outcome has been the same every time – delicious! The trick with poaching pears is to start with firm, a bit under-ripe pears. A soft pear that is ready to eat should just be eaten and enjoyed.  If you try to poach it, it will turn to mush.  However, if you have some pears that need a day or two before they are ready to bite into, then poach a few of them.  You’ll love the results.

In this recipe the pears are simply peeled and set into a relatively small amount of fruit juice with a touch of sweet liquor and some spices.  The recipe below is a combination of ingredients that we thoroughly enjoy; however, I do change it up a little here and there depending on what ingredients I have available.  For example, the liquor is quite versatile. You can omit is altogether or substitute with another sweet wine or liquor.  The fruit juice – the liquid base – can be just about any fruit juice you have on hand.  And the spices – those are easy to change up.  See the Kitchen Notes for variations.

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Red Chile Garlic Bread with Manchego Cheese

A red chile focaccia type bread

 

Last summer when we were going through a kitchen remodel, one of the item we replaced was our 1980′s microwave.  In its place we put a combination microwave convection oven.  Let me tell you folks, this is now one of my favorite appliances, second only to my stovetop.  Here it is the end of June and I’m baking!!!  In the past, I never baked in the summer because I refused to use the oven.  It’s just too hot; however, the amount of heat that this little convection oven puts out is negligible in comparison to our regular oven.  Because of this I’ve been able to bake a few loaves of this delicious Red Chile Garlic Bread even with 95°+ outside temperatures. Talk about a life changing experience – homemade bread in June!

Obviously I’m very excited about being able to make bread in the summer, but I’m just as excited about making THIS bread.  I’ve made a few loaves already this month and each one has disappeared faster than it took me to make it.  This red chile loaf is very similar to a focaccia in that it’s flat and I poke holes in the dough to place chunks of Manchego cheese.  But that’s where the similarities stop.  There are no herbs nor olive oil and it’s definitely not Italian.  Instead there are three types of chile powders, some roasted garlic, and chile infused oil that are all combined into a paste.  This paste is then incorporated into the dough, and right before placing in the oven, cubes of cheese are pressed into the dough.  It’s SO good and SO easy to make!  You can make it by hand or use your Mixmaster with a dough hook.

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Chile de Arbol Salsa

A tomato based salsa made with chile de arbol peppers

 

In my pinto beans post I mentioned that I had received a great package of goodies from Diaz Farms in southern New Mexico.  Along with the pinto beans, there was a bag of dried chile de arbol peppers with a request for a recipe for the Diaz Farms website.  Having never used chile de arbol before, I was quite excited about the challenge.  However, before we talk about the Chile de Arbol Salsa recipe, let’s talk about the pepper.

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A Simple Snack with Apples, Walnuts and Raisins

An easy snack made with apples, walnuts, raisins and cinnamon

 

Now for something completely different…

In the late 80′s Bobby and I spent a week with some friends on a houseboat on Lake Powell, a lake on the Colorado River in the southwestern U.S. During this trip we were introduced to this wonderful little snack of apples, walnuts, raisins and a touch of cinnamon. Thank you Donna! I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve made this snack over the years. I always had a bag of it in my backpack at the start of a backpacking trip.  We’ve taken it camping, on road trips, and on numerous hikes. Because it only takes 5 minutes to throw together, it’s perfect for your lunch bag or an afternoon snack. Aside for the fact that it is just downright delicious, it also keeps for a couple of days with or without refrigeration, making it a snack that you can take just about anywhere and never get tired of eating.

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Thai Tea Apricot Smoothie

Thai Tea Smoothie with Apricot and Mango

 

Now that it’s spring I’m really focused on getting last year’s produce out of the freezer to make room for this year’s. A couple of weeks ago I used some of the corn and a roasted bell pepper in my Braised Red Chile Chicken and Vegetables, and then finished off the roasted bell peppers in the Roasted Bell Pepper Cheese Spread.  For several weeks I’ve been working on the abundance of frozen apricots from last year’s prolific crop.  One of the things I’ve been making is the smoothie:  apricot smoothies, apricot banana smoothies, apricot peach smoothies and my favorite – Thai Tea Apricot Mango Smoothie.

Several weeks ago I came across a simply delicious Thai Iced Tea recipe over at my friend’s blog  – Wok with Ray.  I immediately ran out and bought a one pound bag of Thai tea, the smallest size bag the Asian market sold.  With all that tea Bobby and I have been able to mix up our afternoon tea time with Chai tea and Thai tea as well as play around with other uses for Thai tea. When developing this smoothie, I went with the orange color of Thai tea and selected apricots and mango as the fruits.  What a delicious way to get your vitamins and morning caffeine all in one drink.

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Green Chile Pecan Cheese Spread

New Mexico Green Chile Cheese Spread with toasted pecans

 

If you enjoyed the Roasted Bell Pepper Cheese Spread from a few days ago but wanted something with more of a kick, you’re going to love this Green Chile Cheese Spread.  It is as easy to make, if not easier, and it’s just as delicious. So for all of you lovers of spicy foods, this one is for you! No fancy ingredients except for maybe the green chile which may not be available to some of you, but never fear – in the Kitchen Notes I provide some suggestions for alternative chiles.  The cheese is cream cheese so nothing fancy there.

Just like the bell pepper cheese spread this green chile cheese spread can be served with bagel chips, pita chips, or any chips for that matter.  You could also spread it on a flour tortilla, roll the tortilla, and cut into little bite size snacks. Just be sure to refrigerate for an hour before cutting.  It will make the cutting process much easier.  This morning I just spread it on half a bagel and had it for breakfast with a cup of tea.  No matter how you dish it up, you’re going to love it!

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Roasted Bell Pepper Cheese Spread

A spread with roasted bell pepper, almonds, and goat cheese

 

Figuring out what to have for breakfast and supper is easy, but I do have a hard time sometimes with lunch. If we don’t have any leftovers, then we’ll either have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or I’ll throw together a snack type lunch like my Cucumber Crostini. This week I’ll be sharing two more of our lunchtime snacks – this Roasted Bell Pepper Almond Spread and another one that is a bit more spicy – a Green Chile Pecan Cheese Spread.  I have had several readers mention that they can’t handle spicy foods very well, so this one is for you.

This bell pepper spread is a little sweet but that’s due only to the sweetness of the roasted bell pepper.  The cheese is capricho de cabra – a Spanish goat cheese produced with the milk from Murciana goats.  This goat cheese is different from what I normally buy. Instead of being crumbly, capricho de cabra is creamy and can be stirred into a buttery spread.  You really don’t have to add anything to it, but it works as a great complement to the roasted bell pepper.  Add a little olive brine for acid and chopped almonds for another layer of flavor and texture and you have a tasty spread for bagels, pita chips, your favorite crackers or apple slices.  Have it for lunch or share with friends as an appetizer or party dip.

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Black-eyed Pea Chipotle Dip

Black-eyed Pea Chipotle Dip with chips

 

Whenever I think of black-eyed peas I remember the time, way back when in grade school, when me and my three older siblings had to shell 5 bushels of black-eyed peas that we had picked at my granddaddy’s farm. Do you know how many peas are in 5 bushels? A lot! By the time we got to the last bushel we were so giddy that we started shooting peas at each other and having contests to see who could shoot a pea from its pod the farthest. Needless to say, the kitchen floor soon became covered with peas.  When our mother came into the kitchen, let’s just say she wasn’t too happy, but we sure were having fun! :)

This black-eyed pea dip is one of those pleasant little surprises you get when you throw a few things together and end up with something very special.  Last week I had some black-eyed peas that I had set aside before making Skippin’ Jenny. On a whim, I threw some of the peas into a blender, added a few other ingredients and pureed it into this dip.  It was so tasty! I ate some with chips and saved the rest for the next day for Bobby. Well, you know how soups are better the next day?  Well, so is this dip! I no longer tasted black-eyed peas with chipotle. All of the ingredients had blended together to provide a very unique and delicious flavor.  It was so good that I used the rest of the peas to make another batch.  I can’t wait to take this dip to a party! But in the meantime, I’m sharing it with you.

It’s easy, it’s quite different, and it is absolutely delicious!
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