PB&J Smoothie

Calling all PB&J fans — this is YOUR smoothie!  It captures the taste of a childhood favorite sandwich in a grownup friendly (ie: less sugar) smoothie.

PB&J Smoothie

I love it for breakfast before heading out on a bike ride, as it has a great balance of energy for sustained activity.  Peanuts* are a fabulous source of protein and healthy fats, easy on the environment and the budget.
Probiotic drink
I started with frozen berries, added a Yakult probiotic shot for flavor and nutrition, and rounded it out with peanut butter and lowfat milk for healthy protein and fats.  And flavor?  YES please.  Enjoy!

PB&J Smoothie
(serves one)

1 cup frozen berries (blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
1 heaping TB smooth natural peanut butter*
1 Yakult drink (omit for vegans and dairy-allergic folks)
1/3 – 1/2 cup lowfat milk of your chosing (dairy, almond, coconut, hemp, soy — it’s up to you)
2 packets stevia (optional.  may use honey to sweeten to taste if desired)

Blend all ingredients in a blender until thick and creamy.  Adjust amount of milk to create the texture you prefer.  Enjoy!

*for those avoiding peanuts due to allergies, simply substitute a smooth nut butter of your choosing

Fresh Lemon Bars

It’s been gray skies for a couple weeks, but my lemons are ripe.  They are little yellow reminders of warm sunshine in the midst of winter.   I made these fab bars this week, and will re-post this recipe for your pleasure.

lemon bar

It’s citrus season, and my lemon trees are loaded with beautiful, yellow gems.  Here’s a recipe for luscious, tangy-sweet lemon bars with a buttery crust.  Enjoy!

Fresh Lemon Bars
Makes 24 bars**

For the crust:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups (10 oz) flour
2 TB cornstarch
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

For the filling:
3 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1 1/4 oz) flour
5 large eggs
2 TB fine grated lemon zest
1 cup freshly squeezed, strained lemon juice*

Preheat oven to 350.  Line 9 X 13 baking dish with parchment.  Blend together the ingredients listed for the crust until a crumby mixture forms.  Pat into the parchment lined pan and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.

While the crust is baking, mix the filling ingredients.  Begin by blending the sugar with the flour in a medium mixing bowl.  To this mixture add the eggs and stir until combined.  Add the lemon juice and zest, stirring until combined.

When the crust is lightly golden brown, pour the filling mixture onto the hot crust and put it right back into the oven.  Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, or until the filling is no longer liquid in the middle.  Remove from oven and cool until room temperature.  Dust cooled bars with a powdered sugar for a beautiful snowy top.  Cut into bars and serve at room temp or cold.  Store any uneaten bars airtight in the refrigerator.

* These bars may be made with any type of lemon, as long as they are good, fresh lemons.  I especially like to use ripe Meyer lemons in this recipe.  Fresh limes may be substituted, but decrease the zest by 1 TB and the replace 1/4 cup of the juice with water.  You may very gently tint the filling green if making lime bars. Just use a couple drops green food coloring if desired.

** for a 1/2 batch, use a 8 X 8 inch square baking pan, and halve all ingredients.

Double Persimmon Napa Cabbage Salad

It’s persimmon month, at least in my house.  I’ve got my first batch of dried Hachiya persimmons ready, and fresh mellow Fuyu persimmons on my counter.  I put the two of them together in a salad with savory, slightly bitter napa cabbage and it was a great combo.

Napa cabbage, bright orange Fuyu persimmons, and dried Hachiya persimmons

Napa cabbage, bright orange Fuyu persimmons, and dried Hachiya persimmons

Persimmon Napa Cabbage Salad

Double Persimmon Napa Cabbage Salad

I lightly dressed the greens and persimmons with a sherry vinegar/olive oil dressing and topped with toasted almonds for a rich crunch.  This salad would work well with finely shredded brussels sprouts instead of napa cabbage.  Savory, sweet, fresh, and crunchy — this is a nice Fall salad for the persimmon lover. Enjoy!

Double Persimmon Napa Cabbage Salad
(serves 4 – 6 for a side dish)

1/2 head Napa Cabbage, sliced thin
2 Fuyu persimmons, peeled and sliced into bite size pieces
2 dried Hachiya persimmons*, diced small
1/2 cup toasted almonds, coarse chop

Dressing:
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 TB sherry vinegar
sea salt to taste
fresh ground black pepper

Assemble the salad ingredients in a shallow, wide bowl.  Just before serving, mix together the sherry vinegar and olive oil with about 1/4 tsp sea salt.  Drizzle over the salad, top with fresh ground black pepper, and serve.

* If you can’t locate dried persimmons, you may substitute golden raisins

Zingy Strawberry Smoothie

This delicious, zingy smoothie is one of my favorites, and for several reasons.

Zingy Strawberry Smoothie

Zingy Strawberry Smoothie

Most important to me, it tastes fabulous — tart, sweet, creamy, a little spicy, and richly scented.  And it’s a quick charge up for those mornings when I need to eat and go.  But here’s the fun part — it has health benefits that match its taste.  Turns out that the culinary magic of combining sweet tart strawberries, zingy black pepper, and floral fresh turmeric is powerful for reducing inflammation and calming gut issues.

Fresh turmeric and whole black pepper

Fresh turmeric and whole black pepper

Adding full fat Greek yogurt makes these health benefits even better, and gives this smoothie a serving of high quality protein.  For me, getting the great nutrition my body needs is always best in tasty, fresh food rather than in a pill.  Eat to your health!  Enjoy!

Zingy Strawberry Smoothie
serves one for a meal, or two for a snack

1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (use non dairy yogurt or milk if you prefer)
small knob fresh turmeric – sliced, or 1 tsp. powdered
1/4 to 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
water
2 TB chia seeds (optional)
sweetener (optional.  I use stevia for natural sweetness without added sugar)

Put all the ingredients in a blender, adding just enough water to create the consistency you enjoy.  Blend until smooth, and serve.

Yellow Watermelon Rum Slushie

Summer Happy Hour alert:  combine frozen yellow watermelon, fresh squeezed lime juice, thai basil, and white rum.  This delicious frozen cocktail was a hit at my house this week.

Yellow Watermelon Rum Slushie

Yellow Watermelon Rum Slushie

Three fragrant ingredients combine to produce a sophisticated and interesting cocktail:  watermelon, orange blossom water, and thai basil.  I love the beautiful color of yellow watermelon, but feel free to use red if it’s what you have.

lime, yellow watermelon, and thai basil

lime, yellow watermelon, and thai basil

White rum adds punch without muddling the flavors and a squeeze of fresh lime brightens the flavor of naturally sweet & mellow yellow watermelon.  This slushie can easily be made without rum for a family friendly drink everyone can enjoy.  Enjoy!

Yellow Watermelon Rum Slushie
(makes two)

2 cups frozen seeded yellow watermelon chunks
4 oz white rum (use water for a non-alcoholic version)
1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tsp. orange blossom water
1 tsp. white sugar (optional, and to taste)
small sprig thai basil leaves

Blend all ingredients in a blender.  Strain into chilled glasses garnished with lime slice and piece of watermelon.

Fall Fruit Salad

This is such a simple recipe, but sparklingly delicious and a welcome addition to the late Fall table.

image

The stars of this show are Fuyu Persimmon, Fuji Apple, and pomegranate jewels.

image

A squeeze of fresh lemon juice keeps the favors balanced and prevents any browning.  Enjoy!

Fall Fruit Salad

one large Fuji apple
two Fuyu persimmons
one pomegranate, seeds released from the aril and rind
sqeeze of lemon

Peel and chop the persimmon and apple.  Mix with pomegranate and lemon. Enjoy!

 

Dried Persimmon – 2015 update

Subtle, sweet, complex, mellow and addictively delicious Dried Persimmon – YES.  It’s Halloween, and in the bay area, backyard persimmons are at the best state of ripeness for drying:  orange, but still hard.  Once they begin to soften, they’re too ripe to use for this technique.  I’m re-posting this recipe to help get you inspired.   When to pick the fruit is key, and the time is upon us.

persimmons, washed and trimmed but not peeled

persimmons, washed and trimmed but not peeled

I LOVE Dried Persimmon when served with good cheese (manchego is fabulous) and a quality sherry for a lux happy hour.  Enjoy!

Dried Persimmon

My friend Janet has a mature Hachiya persimmon tree in her backyard, which produces lots of beautiful fruit each Fall.  I’ve picked the dark orange mature fruit, when they are the consistency of jelly, and made the puree into cakes and other confections.  Two years ago she learned a simple technique for drying these fruit, a practice that hails from Japan.

sliced of dried persimmon

sliced of dried persimmon

A stunning natural transformation occurs when these supremely astringent unripe fruit are peeled and left to air dry for several weeks:  they turn into a most delicious, delicate, sweet natural confection.  Here’s what to do, if you find yourself with a big crop of Hachiya persimmons one Fall.

Pick the persimmons when they are bright orange all over and still quite firm and opaque.  Keep a cross-shaped section of the branch on which the fruit hangs — you will need this to secure string for hanging.  Clip the sepals to a neat circle on the top of the fruit.  Peel the thin skin off the whole fruit, leaving a dime sized patch at the base.  Secure a string on the stem of the fruit from which to hang the fruit.

peeled persimmons, day 3 of drying

peeled persimmons, day 3 of drying

Hang each fruit so that it doesn’t touch its neighbor.  Good air circulation is key.  Hang the peeled persimmons in a warm dry room.  I hung a wooden closet dowel from some bike hooks I screwed into the ceiling, then secured the strung persimmons to this dowel.  I had 50 fruit, which was pretty heavy to begin with.  Over the course of several weeks the fruit will turn darker, and shrink, then pucker.

drying persimmon, after 3 weeks

drying persimmon, after 3 weeks

Some of the fruit may drop off — so it’s wise to place a towel under them, just in case.  When the fruit is about 1/2 as big as original, give each one a gentle massage.  This will help to distribute the moisture for even drying.

Dried whole persimmons, after 6 weeks

Dried whole persimmons, after 6 weeks

As long as the fruit doesn’t smell sour it’s good!  When the fruit is the consistency of a soft gummy bear, it’s ready to eat.  Slice into pieces and enjoy!