Tag Archives: desserts

KID IN THE KITCHEN: Tembleque (Tropical Coconut Pudding)

7 Feb

We spent the better part of last summer in Puerto Rico, and among the tasty things that my little guy fell in love with was tembleque, a jiggly (temblar means to tremble) dessert that falls somewhere between pudding and flan. I promised him we’d make it back in New York, and this weekend, for a dinner with some dear Nassau Community College colleagues with whom I serve on the Latin American Studies Committee, I delivered.

2015-02-05 21.03.20 temblequeWho knew it was so, so easy to make that my seven-year-old could do it almost completely on his own? All I had to do was pour the hot mixture into the mold. I adapted a recipe from Cocine a Gusto (University of Puerto Rico Press), which is one of my go-tos for traditional Puerto Rican recipes.

2015-02-05 21.27.57 temblequeIn future we will make it with homemade coconut milk (all you have to do is pour hot water over coconut flakes and strain, but more on that next time), but in the interests of expediency (I also made pollo guisado, black beans and pink beans from scratch, and yuca salad, so I had my hands full) I just used canned.

Next time you want a fun dessert that takes your tastebuds to the tropics, tembleque is the ticket!

2015-02-06 19.21.31 temblequeTembleque

2 14 oz. cans coconut milk

½ Cup corn starch

½ Cup sugar

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

Powdered cinnamon

Place coconut milk, corn starch, sugar and salt in a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil at medium high, stirring constantly until mixture begins to thicken. Add vanilla, stir and pour the mix into a slightly moistened mold (a smooth pie tin for one, or six ramekins for individual servings). Chill for at least three hours or at most 48. Turn tembleque out of mold(s), sprinkle with cinnamon and serve.


Strawberry and Jam Mini-Muffins

8 Feb

Here is a quickie recipe that my son and his friend from across the street helped make on a recent playdate. They did a great job. Kids love wearing aprons to cook, so try to have enough available for everyone. And set out all ingredients ahead of time. Measuring is a great way to talk about fractions!

They are the cutest little tea muffins and we used some organic strawberries I had got on sale and frozen in season. I freeze these and then toss a couple in the kid’s lunchbox for school. They thaw out and warm up in time for snack!

Easy and delicious!

Easy and delicious!

Strawberry and Jam Mini-Muffins

1 egg

½ Cup plain yogurt

¼ Cup coconut oil (or any neutral vegetable oil)

1 ½ Cups flour (mix of white and whole wheat)

½ Cup sugar (mix of brown and white)

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 Cup strawberries, chopped (frozen is fine!)

1 Tbs strawberry or lingonberry or other berry jam


½ Cup sugar

1/3 Cup flour

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ Cup butter, softened

Preheat oven to 400° and line mini-muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, beat the egg with a fork. Add the milk and oil and continue to stir. Add all dry ingredients. Mix the batter well, but do not over mix (which would toughen the muffins). Fold in strawberries and stir in jam.

Fill each muffin cup about 1/3 full. Then start making the topping.

In a separate bowl, combine all ingredients for the topping and crumble together with your fingers (if you are baking with children, expect to be abandoned midway when they are grossed out by the stickiness. Also expect to find bits of this topping on the floor and all over the bathroom sink as they try to get it off). Sprinkle each muffin with a bit of topping.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until plump and golden brown. Let stand for a minute, then remove from trays. Serve warm or room temp. They freeze well too!

Three Deliciously Sweet Blueberry Baking Ideas

14 Jul

Blueberries are in at Restoration Farm, our C.S.A.! We pick our own, each family picking as much as seems reasonable, given that we share with a lot of people, but keeping in mind that these berries won’t stay ripe forever.

Blueberries are one of those power foods, loaded with anti-oxidants, which may or may not counter the aging process. We just know they are powerfully delicious! The good news is they don’t seems to lose that phytonutrient power when frozen. They are also native to North America, which makes it positively patriotic if you are from around these parts.  The bad news is that even domestically-grown blueberries are high in pesticide residue, according to the Environmental Working Group. So use their freezeability to your advantage. Buy them organic while in season and freeze them for later use!

Here are three of our favorite blueberry recipes — should you be brave enough to turn on the oven in the middle of a hot summer. Or, store these recipes when you store your blueberries in the freezer, and pull them out for a burst of summer in your baking in the middle of winter!

Blueberry-Strawberry Muffins

We like mini-muffins because you get so many you can share them around!

We like mini-muffins because you get so many you can share them around!

Blueberry Pound Cake

Blueberry pound cake is rich and tart and sweet

Blueberry pound cake is rich and tart and sweet

Blueberry-Lingonberry Muffins

A favorite for tea, lunchbox or thoughtful treat for neighbors, caregivers and friends

A favorite for tea, lunchbox or thoughtful treat for neighbors, caregivers and friends

Seven Sweet and Spectacular Strawberry Recipes

18 Jun

As strawberry season is in full swing, I’ve collected for you some spectacularly simple recipes that take advantage of the season (and help salvage berries that have passed their prime!). This has been updated from six to seven!

We like mini-muffins because you get so many you can share them around!

Strawberry-Blueberry Mini-Muffins (click on image for recipe)

Summer fruit!

Berry Crisp – sweet and crunchy! (click image for recipe)

We're jammin'. we're jammin', hope you like jammin' too

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam with no pectin and no preserving. A Hot, Cheap & Easy Top Five (click on image for recipe)

Strawberry Shortcake...a crowd pleaser!

Strawberry Shortcake…a crowd pleaser! (click on image for recipe)

Saving Sad Strawberries - by Roasting! Delicious jammy results

Saving Sad Strawberries – by Roasting! Delicious jammy results (click on image for recipe)

And of course, the most refreshing sangrías include sliced strawberries!

Two of the three sangría recipes include strawberries!

Two of the three sangría recipes include strawberries! (click on image for recipes)

Chocolate Mini-Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

16 Jun

I caved. Yes, I did.

Driven by the fear of being “that mom” who rains on every party and won’t let kids enjoy their sugar fix and makes others feel guilty or annoyed by my holier-than-thou eating habits…and because my son asked very nicely to have a special treat…for Leandro’s birthday celebration at school, we made cupcakes. Chocolate Cupcakes. With Buttercream Frosting. Go big, or go home.

Mini-muffin before frosting

Mini-muffin before frosting

In my feeble defense, I also made fruit kebabs (which went over as well as, if not better than, the cupcakes) and we actually went little, making mini-cupcakes so that they were  a tiny treat rather than an exercise in excess, but BE IT KNOWN: I am not immune to peer pressure and I am not a complete whole food Nazi.

Mind you, making it all homemade is also a form of penitence for sins of sugar and spice. I put a lot of time and effort into it and was not always thinking gracious thoughts. Particularly about the moms who just pick up a box of Dunkin’ Munchkins for class celebrations and call it a day and don’t give that much thought to what children consume or what maniacs like myself choose to do with our precious time, but who are not going to waste their precious time making desserts for five-and-six year olds, when kids are just as happy with a Dunkin’ drive-by.

That buttercream frosting is NAUGHTY! and nice....

That buttercream frosting is NAUGHTY! and nice….

It’s that same grim satisfaction some of us get from pointedly and conscientiously using our directional when driving, as if anyone would care to learn from our example, or as if there was some direct HOV lane to heaven for courteous and law-abiding drivers. Underneath it all, I know no one gives a rat’s posterior. But the girl can’t help it. Continue reading

Berry Crisp: Sweet, Crunchy, Charming

13 Jun

It’s just about summer and the strawberries are at their sweet juiciest, and as the season progresses, they are followed by blueberries, raspberries, blackberries…I just can’t get enough of summer fruits, but I do like to play with different ways to serve and enjoy them.

Summer fruit reminds me of piles of precious gems!

Summer fruit reminds me of piles of precious gems!

Last weekend I found a new way to love up ripe berries. We had our Single Mothers By Choice monthly meet-up. These are families I have known and grown with since before Leandro was born, so it is a support structure we really cherish.  On this occasion, in the middle of the kid chaos and seven simultaneous conversations pinballing around the moms, we celebrated several kids’ birthdays all at once. The hostess made cupcakes for the kids, and I made berry crisp for the grown-ups, we sang, blew out candles, and got back to the chaos.

Crunch on the top, syrup underneath

Crunch on the top, syrup underneath

This dessert is perfect for this kind of occasion. It is decidedly unfussy, but combines sweet, tart, syrupy, and crunchy (plus rich and creamy if you top it with whipped cream; it is so easy to make homemade!) which makes it pretty perfect in my book. It is simple to prepare, but looks so enticing! The original recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, Food to Live By: The Earthbound Farm Organic Cookbook, by Myra Goodman (shout-out to Sean and P.J. Goralski for giving it to me years ago!) and I tweaked it ever so slightly to add more cinnamon and less clove flavor. Continue reading

Strawberry Rhubarb Shortcake – A Crowd-Pleaser, Homemade or Not!

11 May

It is spring and the rhubarb is out and the strawberries are actually in season (even though the season is in California and not here just yet) so it’s time to make fresh strawberry rhubarb jam and smear it over everything you can! So welcome to Strawberry Short Cut.

Mind you, I did it the long way. We were invited to our first barbecue of the season (Thanks to the Orr-Ciarlo’s for a wonderful evening!) and charged with bringing dessert. Me being me (and having made strawberry-rhubarb jam recently), I thought it would be a great idea to do a pound cake berry pile-up topped with whipped cream. And then of course I had to make the pound cake myself…and then wouldn’t it be fun to have the kids make the whipped cream?

And it was. So…here’s how

Make or buy strawberry rhubarb jam (What is rhubarb? you ask? Click the image for my easy Strawberry Rhubarb Jam recipe — no pectin required– and a run-down on Rhubarb  – one of Hot, Cheap & Easy’s top posts ever! ).

We're jammin'. we're jammin', hope you like jammin' too

We’re jammin’. we’re jammin’, hope you like jammin’ too

Make or buy pound cake

Homemade pound cake - click image for recipe!

Homemade pound cake – click image for recipe!

Buy some strawberries (if you can’t afford or find organic, make sure to wash thoroughly and take out the white core — I have heard tell that that is the part that holds a lot of residual pesticides), core, slice and marinate in a teaspoon of sugar (or not)


Whipped! Click for easy recipe!

Whirl up some fresh whipped cream (don’t buy this if you don’t have to…fresh is much, much better, so, so, easy, and so entertaining for the kids!!! They  all had a turn at the non-electric hand beater  –there’s no school like the Old School)

Then pile them up in bowls and enjoy the prettiest, sweet-tartiest, creamiest, lightest, fruitiest, just-rightiest dessert spring has to offer!

Strawberry Shortcake...a crowd pleaser!

Strawberry Shortcake…a crowd pleaser!

Apple Cinnamon Muffins (Easing into a delicious autumn)

11 Sep

The start of the school year makes me think of cozy sweaters, red wine and apples. There are good things about the end of summer and those are three of the best.

It is also the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and a little comfort food is in order.

Continue reading

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