cranberry cherry cheese crostata

cranbery-cherry-cheese-crostata-tx

Let my start off by apologizing again to anyone who can’t get their hands on tart cherries. This recipe is kind of a pain to make, if that makes you feel any better . . .

But if you can get tart cherries, then this is oh so good. And definitely worth all the trouble.

I came up with this recipe when I asked my friends if they had any requests for what I should post on my blog. They requested another apple crostata like the one the Barefoot Contessa makes. I served it for Thanksgiving one year, and they never forgot it. If you are looking for a really good apple pie for Thanksgiving, one that is absolute perfection, you ought to try her recipe.

Of course I couldn’t post her recipe here, so I thought about my huge bag of cherries taking over one-third of the real estate in my freezer, and knew I had to make some sort of cherry crostata. I added cranberries so that it wouldn’t seem out of place in the winter, and then some cream cheese to mellow out the tartness.

It has a streusel top, though I believe the cherries may have been a bit too wet to let the topping hold its shape. But I honestly don’t care. It was delicious anyway.

best banana bread

banana-bread-tx

The reason I say “be transformed” is because this banana bread will transform you, or at least, it transformed me. It is literally the best I have ever tasted. Moist. Dense. Light. Banana-y. Perfect. It actually isn’t even my recipe. I had thought mine was the best up until I tasted this.

Let me tell you the story.

It was a little over a month ago, and I was dutifully following the hCG diet. I had not previously digressed from it, and was painfully whittling my way down to a hundred and ten pounds (it was a lofty goal, I admit. But by golly, I was going to do it). Then, along came Conference Sunday, and my ex-husband had the kids for the afternoon. I really had no choice but to wait out the time at my friend’s house in Salt Lake until my kids were ready to go home. I was prepared for my afternoon, with bags of apples, and I stood by with perfect self control as my friends ate their lunches. I couldn’t help thinking it was a little unfair, as I gazed around their kitchen filled with cheese and chips and chicken nuggets, then to Julie with her too-loose size four jeans, then back at myself with my sunken in eyes and my sad 500 calorie per day diet. But even so, I was in perfect control.

I was in perfect control as they mixed up a banana bread, too. Banana bread! I scoffed. I make a fantastic banana bread, and surely this one has nothin’ on mine. As I sat on their couch, watching the conference, I could smell the bread in the oven. Oh why must it torture me! I thought.

banana-bread-2

“Just have a little taste,” my thin friends said with imploring smiles as the scented steam from the freshly cut loaves nearly over powered me. “You don’t need a diet,” they said. “You look great.”

Really? You mean it?

And that’s when I succumbed. With that little bite. In that blissful buttery moment, my blood sugar did a standing ovation and my fat cells cackled with delight. I then ate a whole piece of that bread, and loved every luscious second of it.

I tried hanging on to that diet for a few more days, but then alas, other great food got the best of me. Any headway I had made with that diet is now a distant memory. I guess Julie’s banana bread transformed me into a person who realized diets of insanity aren’t for me.

I am a food blogger. What can I say?

pear pizza with caramelized onion and bleu cheese

pear-pizza-text

I was in New York last weekend. That doesn’t have anything to do with this pizza, though. I just thought you might want to know. While I was there, we (we, meaning me and the gals who blog for the Family Kitchen on Babble) went out to dinner in SoHo, where I was introduced to my new favorite cheese. Apparently I have spent thirty four years in absolute darknss, not knowing the glory that is burrata mozzarella. Everyone, please start asking your stores to carry it. Let’s change the world.

pear-pizza

The next day, Brooke from Cheeky Kitchen, Shaina from Food for My Family, and I kicked it around Manhattan. We saw Central Park and the Upper West Side, got cookies at Levain Bakery, hot dogs from Gray’s Papaya (didn’t go to Zabar’s though), and afterward saw West Side Story on Broadway. We wished we had gone to see the Adam’s Family instead, though.

We had a blast, and I left thinking how at home I had felt there.

Anyway, after all that great food, I came home wanting something really good. Something not boring, something seasonal and fresh. This pizza is what I came up with.

chocolate caramel tartelettes

chocolate-caramel-tart

Can I tell you about my month from you-know-where? It wasn’t all bad. In fact, a lot of my month was quite good. Just insane. And really, really busy.

For starters, I went to a writer’s conference where I got to hang out with some of my best pals and meet a few new people besides. Then I went to Colorado to finish off a very sad chapter in my life. After that, my mom came to stay with me, and while she was here, the basement apartment where I live flooded, making my mom’s stay more of a rescue mission and exercise in moving all my junk to various corners of my place, than an actual vacation of any kind. After she left, I have been reveling in the new carpet and playing catch up. Does being a single mom mean I will always feel like I am incurring a twelve hour deficit every day of my life? I swear, I am never caught up.

One of these days . . . Hm . . . One of these days, I’ll hire a maid—(I was going to say “hire a raft and float away endlessly on a calm ocean,” but I’d probably miss my kids if I were to do that)—someone like Alice on the Brady Bunch. Someone who doesn’t just come and clean once a week, but someone who lives with us, and is basically hired to do all the non-fun things of being a mom. I wouldn’t even mind if she did some of the fun things of being a mom—just so that I felt there was enough of me.

Anyway, in the weeks I have been gone (yet mysteriously able to write for Babble.com), I missed you all.

Does anyone remember that gorgeous Chocolate Caramel Tart that was once on the cover of Saveur magazine? It was a big winner, apparently, because I think almost every food blogger has attempted it. I was wanting something gooey and chocolaty, so I made mini versions of it this week. My kids and I were fighting over them at our after school herbal teatime. They were delicious.