Frozen Fuzzy Navel with Slow Cooker Peach Puree

Finding a use for slightly under ripe or frozen peaches just got a little easier with my CrockPot. I put the peaches and some other goodies in over low for a couple of hours and then pureed the result. That puree is finding its way into all kinds of dishes, including this cocktail recipe.

peach cocktail

Frozen Fuzzy Navel

1/3 cup peach puree (see recipe below)
1/2 cup orange juice
2 ounce peach schnapps
1 ounces vodka

Fill a blender about half-full with ice. Chop the ice with a few pulses and then add the peach puree, orange juice, peach schnapps and vodka.

Blend on high until it’s the consistency of a smoothie.

Slow Cooker Peach Puree

8 peaches, sliced (this works best with slightly under ripe or hard peaches)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup peach schnapps (optional)

In a slow cooker, combine the peaches, sugar, cinnamon, butter and schnapps. Toss lightly to combine. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours. When good and soft, dish out enough to put over a bowl of vanilla ice cream and put the rest in a blender and puree until smooth. Store in pint bags in the freezer until ready to use.


Peach Ice Cream with Slow Cooker Peach Puree

I had some peaches in the freezer that were a little under ripe when picked. They were also hard, so I needed to soften them up and intensify their flavor. I turned to my brand new CrockPot for the job.

crock with peaches

After the peaches had been cooked low and slow, they were soft and succulent. I put them in a blender to make a delicious puree, perfect for ice cream (or cocktails but that will be another post).

Slow Cooker Peach Puree

8 peaches, sliced (this works best with slightly under ripe or hard peaches)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup peach schnapps (optional)

In a slow cooker, combine the peaches, sugar, cinnamon, butter and schnapps. Toss lightly to combine. Cover and cook on low for 2 hours. When good and soft, dish out enough to put over a bowl of vanilla ice cream and put the rest in a blender and puree until smooth. Store in pint bags in the freezer until ready to use.

ice cream

Peach Ice Cream

2 cups of peach puree, thawed
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. Process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a container, and freeze until firm.

Mint Chocolate Gluten Free Brownies

IMG_8108I’ve got a meeting to go to tonight and I know that it will go a lot smoother with a little chocolate accompaniment.

These are a minty riff on my Gluten Free Fudge Brownies. You can do these with semi-sweet morsels in place of the bittersweet but the darker chocolate offers a nice counterpoint to the mint.

Mint Chocolate Gluten Free Brownies

2 cups bittersweet chocolate morsels, divided
10 oz package of Andes Creme de Menthe Baking Chips
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1⁄2 cup gluten free flour – I use rice flour as it is light for baking
1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
11⁄3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter a 13×9″ baking pan.

Melt one cup bittersweet chocolate and entire package of Creme de Menthe Baking Chips with butter in a a double boiler, stirring, until butter and chocolate are entirely melted and mixture is smooth. Let cool slightly.

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until mixture is thick and smooth. Add dry ingredients, mixing just to combine. Scrap down the bowl and then add the chocolate mixture, again mixing just to incorporate.

Fold in remaining chocolate and two-thirds of pecans, if using. Scrape batter into prepared baking pan and sprinkle with remaining pecans. Bake brownie until top is cracked and shiny, 30–35 minutes. Let cool completely before cutting.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was raised on Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies. They were the first things I learned to bake and have always been my go-to recipe when craving home made cookies. However, I did spend almost ten years in the San Francisco Bay Area and found that I really, really, REALLY liked the taste of Ghirardelli chocolate, though I continued to use the recipe from the back of the Toll House morsels for my cookies.

This time, I used the recipe on the back of the Ghirardelli package of semi-sweet morsels. The only difference is less salt and more vanilla but because I use a Mexican vanilla with a hint of cinnamon, the little extra makes the cookies even better.

I didn’t have enough granulated sugar for the recipe and really didn’t want to go to the store, so I pulled out my mortar and pestle to crush up enough sugar cubes to do the job!


Ghirardelli Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 cup chopped pecans, optional
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Stir flour with baking soda and salt; set aside.  Beat butter with granulated sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until creamy.  Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, mixing well until incorporated.

Gradually blend dry mixture into creamed mixture.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if desired.  Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets.  Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. I cooked them for 10 minutes, turning the cookie sheet midway through baking.

Not on recipe but I cool on baking sheets for a couple minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

Crescent City Steaks

I had wanted to try another New Orleans steakhouse for my birthday and finally found the time to visit Crescent City Ste81st anniversaryak House almost two months after my actual birthday with two good friends, Charlotte and Thomas.

Talk about stepping back in time. From the subway tile on the floor to drinks that were almost entirely too strong, this place is a hold over from an earlier era. Luckily the bartender was fine with adding more ginger ale to my pisco based cocktail. They even have a few private, curtained booths for romance or confidential discussions (the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court is just down the street).

We, of course, all ordered steaks. I had the ribeye that was a bit more gristly than I expected for the $28 price tag but it came out sizzling with butter and was very lightly seasoned so the taste of the dry aged meat shown through.

Both Thomas and Charlotte had the filet and thought it cooked to perfection. The sides come a la carte and we ordered potatoes au gratin and shoestring and they had the spinach au gratin. Lots of gooey, cheesey, starchy goodness.

table of steaks

For desserts, we tried them all – bread pudding, creole cream cheese cheesecake and the Z pie. The bread pudding had a hint of peach in the sauce and a heavy hand with the all spice. We all expected a little more tang from the creole cream cheese but the cheesecake was still pretty good on its own. The ice cream Z pie with the oreo crust was my favorite, though. I mean, how can you go wrong with a dessert that has both caramel and chocolate sauces on it?

table of desserts

The wait staff is old school and most of them have been there for a decade or longer and know the menu backwards and forwards. They are quick with refills and know when to swing by to check in and when to let the conversation go on with interrupting to remove empty plates.

This is not a high end steak house (although the prices show how proud they are of their food) but a friendly place where the owner swings by to chat and to even lead the singing of happy birthday to patrons. I enjoyed my meal and would recommend it for the meat lovers out there.

Thanks so much for the lovely meal, Thomas and Charlotte. I just love celebrating my birthday with y’all!

Perfectly Minty Peach Cocktail

IMG_7977The peaches were beautiful at the Crescent City Farmer’s Market today. Of course, they were from Chilton County, Alabama (only the best will do).

After eating one over the sink, as it was so juicy, I decided I needed to make a drink to highlight them.

Perfectly Minty Peach Cocktail

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup mint simple syrup, recipe follows
2 to 3 fresh peaches, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/3 cup rum
ice cubes

In a blender add the lime juice, simple syrup, peaches and rum. Mix to combine. Adjust to taste. Add ice cubes to blender and mix until chilled and frothy.

Serve in glasses with a slice of peach and a sprig of mint.


Mint Simple Syrup: Bring 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water to a simmer, stirring until all of the sugar is dissolved. Pour over mint leaves and allow to cool and steep for thirty minutes. Remove mint and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Birthday Decadence

I had a special request for flourless chocolate cake with mint chocolate sauce for her 34th birthday. Far be it from me to deny any chocolate wishes!

I cheated a bit on the cake, as it does have a tablespoon of flour but it is so richly chocolate that it lives up to its name of Chocolate Decadence. I kicked it up a notch by going to Martha Stewart for the mint chocolate ganache and then raised the bar even higher with Creme de Menthe whipped cream.


Chocolate Decadence

1 lb. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
10 tablespoon (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

To make the cake, position a rack in the middle of an oven and preheat to 425ºF. Butter an 8 or 9-inch springform pan or a layer cake pan. Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper or waxed paper cut to fit precisely. Butter the paper and dust with cocoa; tap out any excess.

Place the chocolate and butter in a large heatproof bowl or the top pan of a double boiler. Set over a pan of gently simmering water but not touching the water. Stir occasionally until melted and combined completely. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Place the eggs and sugar in a bowl. Using an electric mixer set on high speed, beat until light, fluffy and tripled in volume, 5 to 10 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the flour. Using a rubber spatula, fold one-third of the egg mixture into the chocolate to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg mixture, taking care not to deflate the batter. Pour and scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake for exactly 15 minutes. Let cool completely to room temperature. Do not refrigerate or the cake will stick to the pan. Invert the cake onto a flat serving plate and peel off the paper.

Cut into small wedges and serve.

Mint Chocolate Ganache

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
9 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cream to a simmer.

Place chocolate in a medium bowl; set aside. Pour cream over chocolate and let
melt for 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk together until chocolate is fully melted. Add butter,
extract, and salt, whisking after each addition to incorporate.

Once butter is fully incorporated, allow ganache to stand until slightly thickened and glossy.

Creme de Menthe Whipping Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon Creme de Menthe liquor
5 tablespoons granulated sugar

Whip the cream on high speed until soft peaks are formed. Add the vanilla, creme de menthe and sugar and whip to desired consistency. Dollop on chocolate cake.

Mona’s Middle Eastern Cafe

I used to go to Mona’s on Frenchmen pretty regularly when I worked in the Marigny but this was my visit to the Magazine Street location in Uptown. They also have a place in Mid-City on Banks but I haven’t been there. The Frenchman location also offers an international market on site.

The food is Lebanese and the portion sizes are large and filling while the prices are very reasonable. As we started with a plate of hummus and two orders of pita bread, when Michelle ordered her plate of meat stuffed grape leaves, she went for the side dish of lebna (thickened yogurt with sumac and olive oil). Very tasty dish.

stuffed grape leaves

I ordered the chicken shawarma sandwich with a side of fries. Nice spice for the chicken and I added some of Michelle’s lebna to the pita to add depth to the meal.

chicken shwarma

I also ordered the Lebanese tea and had several glasses it was so refreshing.

The staff is helpful in answering questions about the cuisine so don’t let unfamiliarity with Middle Easter food deter you from giving them a visit.