Strawberry Balsamic Flatbread with Goat Cheese

 
 
 
Do you ever yearn?  For warmer temperatures?  For spring?  For strawberries?  I am in the midst of some serious spring yearning.  Warmer temperatures, pink lipstick, strawberries, flowers, and capris.  This is a very eclectic spring list, but I got the spring fever.
 
I never thought there would be a time when I would be yearning for warmer temperature here in Texas, but here we are.  While I am not ready for the blazing heat of summer summer and sweating the instant I step outside, I am just tired of being cold. The cold is nice when you can cuddle up in bed under lots of covers, but when you have to get up to function, not so much. I am looking forward to at least not having to double layer my clothes anymore just to stay warm when I leave my apartment in the morning. Yes, I run freakishly cold and have to double layer my clothes in Texas.  Judge away.
 
By the way, a few months from now when I am melting in the summer heat, please do not remind me of this time when I was begging for heat.  I will be hot and sweaty and not receptive to this information.
 
Even though there is some oscillation between cold and warmer temperatures still happening here, I am hoping to finally convince spring to stick around with this pizza recipe using fresh spring flavors. It’s light and a great combo of warm pizza crust and cool, refreshing toppings.  It would be wonderful to eat outside at a picnic table while rabbits hop around you and the birds sing a sweet song. And with one layer of clothing on.  Is it spring yet?
STRAWBERRY BALSAMIC FLATBREAD WITH GOAT CHEESE
Adapted from The Sweets Life
 
INGREDIENTS

For the Crust:

1 package active yeast
1/2 cup water, at 110°F
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
 
For the Flatbread:
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup Italian parsley
2 tablespoons water
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1 1/2- 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper, to taste
DIRECTIONS
 
For the Crust:

Preheat oven to 475°F.

In in small bowl, dissolve yeast in water with granulated sugar.  Let sit about 10 minutes, until foamy.  In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.  Pour dissolved yeast over flour.  Stir together with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms.  On a lightly floured surface, knead dough for about 10 minutes.  Let sit in a warm place and rise for at least 45 minutes to 1 hour.  

For the Flatbread:

Place balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil and cook until thick a syrupy.  Keep warm.
In a food processor combine parsley and water.  Process until a chunky paste forms.  Set aside

Divide the pizza dough into 2 equal sized pieces.  Roll out to desired thinness.  Sprinkle about half of the parsley mixture on top of the flatbreads.  Sprinkle flatbread with salt and pepper.  Bake for 10-14 minutes, until golden brown.  Top warm crust with remaining parsley paste, strawberries, cucumbers, and tomatoes.  Drizzle balsamic sauce on top  Season with salt.  Top with crumbled goat cheese.

Serves 2-3.

 

 

Banana Split Pie: Improv Challenge

A little over a year ago, I went on a banana craze.  It all began innocently one night with a banana cream pie blizzard.  Normally I always stuck to my traditional choice of Reese’s blizzard when we visited DQ, but I was feeling adventurous and was enticed by the idea of soft serve ice cream mixed with pie crust and topped with whipped cream.  (Who else wants a blizzard now?)

With one bite, it was all over.  I wanted all food to have some kind of banana flavor: I ate banana tootsie pops, banana pancakes, banana cookies, banana bread, peanut butter on bananas, banana cream pie, banana pudding, and of course more banana cream blizzards.  Basically, I was banana crazy, a dark but delicious time.  Eventually, my dire need to eat bananas fizzled out, but my love for banana desserts has remained.

When I moved to Lubbock and began looking for apartments, I happened to stop by a little lunch place because I wanted a slice of pie before heading out of town.  I saw an amazing pie in the display: a banana split pie.  After almost passing it by, I ordered it in addition to my traditional favorite key lime pie after enlisting some help to eat both slices.  One of my top decisions.

This pie was a life changer: sweet, salty, and full of banana flavor.  The combination in this pie is better than the traditional form of banana splits.  I had to try making this myself, and after looking and not finding any recipes like the one I ate, I went to the drawing board to see what I could come up with myself.  This recipe is a little time intensive, but so worth it.  The flavors are dead on and perfect way for everyone, even those who don’t live in Lubbock, to have a little slice of Banana Split Pie.

I wonder if there is a record for the number of times having the word banana in a blog post.  I may be a contender for the title.

BANANA SPLIT PIE
From Cinnamon Freud
Banana Pastry Cream Slightly Adapted from Cooks Country
INGREDIENTS

For the Banana Pastry Cream:
2 bananas, 1/2 inch slices
4 tablespoons butter, divided
2 1/2 cups half and half
6 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 ounces granulated sugar (about 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg, grated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

For the Crust:
1 cup crushed pretzels
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted

For the Pie Fillings:
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chopped pineapple
1 cup chopped strawberries
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar

For Topping:
Chocolate shavings
Toasted walnuts, chopped
Maraschino cherries

DIRECTIONS

For the Banana Pastry Cream:

In a large saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat.  Add bananas and cook until softened, about 2-3 minutes.  Add half and half and bring to a boil.  Boil for 30 seconds.  Remove from heat.  Cover and let sit for 40 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks, salt, and sugar together until smooth.  Whisk in cornstarch and nutmeg.  Pour banana liquid through a strainer into the bowl. Do not press on the bananas; discard bananas.

Whisk together and transfer to a clean medium saucepan over medium heat.  Cook until thickened like pudding, about 6-8 minutes, until mixture reaches 180°F while whisking constantly.  As the mixture thickens, clumps may form; whisk vigorously to prevent.  Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla and 3 tablespoons butter.  Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Chill for at least one hour or overnight.

For the Crust:

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 9 inch pie pan.

In a bowl mix together crushed pretzels, sugar, and butter.  Press into the bottom of the pie pan.  Bake 10-12 minutes, until fragrant.  Cool completely.

For the Pie Fillings:

Heat a large skillet over medium heat  Melt 1-2 tablespoons butter.  Add strawberries and pineapple, cooking for 4-5 minutes.  Add light brown sugar and cook for 4-5 minutes, until fruit has softened. Let cool.  Strain off any excess liquid.

In a large bowl beat heavy cream until soft peaks form.  Slowly add powdered sugar and beat until peaks stiffen slightly and mixture resembles whipped cream.  Set aside.

Whisk banana pastry cream slightly.  Spread onto pretzel crust.  Spoon fruit topping on top of pasty cream.  Pipe whipped cream on top.  Chill in fridge to set, at least 60 minutes. Garnish with chocolate shavings, toasted walnuts, and maraschino cherries.

Check out the other submissions for this month’s Improv Challenge for Bananas & Nutmeg at Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker!

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Strawberry and Chicken Poppy Seed Salad

It is official: I am no longer a working girl.  Well, at least for the next few weeks anyway. This past Friday was my last day working as a front desk worker at urology practice.  I got to work with some fun people who I’m going to miss, and I’ve learned also learned a little bit about urology, medical insurance, and the working world.
One thing I learned about being a working girl is that some days you just come home plum tired and burnt out.  And on those nights you are just not into making dinner for yourself.   Those nights are the nights when you constantly ask yourself “How many more days until the weekend?”.  Those are the nights when you should make this salad.  While some chopping is involved, this salad is simple, fresh, and filling. The faster you eat dinner, the fast you get to go to bed and get some sleep, right?
Before we get to the recipe, I have an announcement: Cinnamon Freud is now on FacebookPintrest, and Instagram!  For those of you who are so inclined to learn more about my food centric life musings, hit me up there!
STRAWBERRY AND CHICKEN POPPY SEED SALAD
Inspired by Panera Bread
Vinaigrette adapted from How Sweet It Is
INGREDIENTS

For the Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette:
4 strawberries, hulled and chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 teaspoons poppy seeds
Pinch of salt

For the Salad:
4 cups spinach
8 ounces cooked chicken, sliced
1 cup chopped pineapple
8 strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/2 cup blueberries
1/4 cup toasted pecans

DIRECTIONS

For the Strawberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette:
In a large measuring glass, combine strawberries, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and honey.  Using an immersion blender or a food processor, process until is reaches the desired consistency, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in a pinch of salt and poppy seeds.  Chill in fridge for at least 20 minutes until ready to use.
For the Salad:
In a large bowl combine spinach, chicken, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, and pecans.  Pour strawberry poppy seed vinaigrette over top.  Toss.
Serves 2 as a main dish.

Fig and Strawberry Baklava


I have been waiting for fresh figs to pop up in grocery stores for about a year.  I just missed last year’s fig season by a couple of weeks (this was back during the days when I was only beginning to cook for myself), so it’s been a long year of anticipation.  Except that I completely forgot that fig season was happening, so maybe not so full of anticipation.  I nearly walked past these in the grocery store, but luckily I finally got to buy my fresh figs while they are in season.
Now that I had fresh figs, and I went to work finding a recipe to make with them.  I wanted a recipe that let figs shine as the star.  I debated between a savory or sweet recipe, but in the end, I decided not to fight my sweet tooth.  I browsed through my recipe books and was sad to find that most of the recipes with figs only needed dried figs.  I wanted to make a recipe that could only be made with fresh figs, so I decided to come up with one myself.
This is my spin on baklava, using fresh fruit instead of all nuts.  And it’s still somewhat healthy for a dessert, so everyone can stick to their resolutions for 2012 and still enjoy a little something sweet.

FIG AND STRAWBERRY BAKLAVA

From Cinnamon Freud
INGREDIENTS

15 strawberries, chopped
10 figs, chopped
3-4 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon brown sugar
16 ounces walnuts, chopped
1 pound phyllo dough, thawed
2 sticks butter, melted
2 cups honey
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
Toasted almonds, for serving

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, combine strawberries, figs, honey, and brown sugar.  The amount of sugar and honey needed will depend on the the sweetness of the fruit used.  Taste and add more sugar if needed.  Macerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Brush a 9×13 baking pan with butter.  Layer 6 sheets of phyllo dough, brushing with melted butter on each layer.  Top with a small layer of the strawberry and fig mixture.  Top with walnuts.  Layer 3 sheets of phyllo dough, brushing with melted butter on each layer.  Top with a layer of strawberry and fig mixture.  Top with walnuts.  Layer 6 sheets of phyllo dough, brushing each layer with butter.

Bake for 35-40 minutes.  If top begins to brown too much, cover with aluminum foil.

Meanwhile, combine honey, water, sugar, and vanilla extract in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.  Let cool.

After taking baklava out of oven, pour honey sauce over top warm baklava.  Let cool to room temperature for several hours.  Cut with a sharp knife into triangles.  Top with toasted nuts if desired.