Category Archives: Fruit

Baked Dulce de Leche Apples

Growing up there was no baking done in our house.  None.  No cookies, no cakes.  Except during the holidays Mama would bake a frozen apple pie and when girlfriends spent the night, which was almost never, she always and without fail prepared Pepperidge Farm Puff Pasty Apple Turnovers.  But Mama had a tendency to burn things…anything…everything and these turnovers were no exception.  She had one baking sheet, an old, warped aluminum sheet covered with burnt-on stains.  I looked at them as friendly reminders of her past culinary disasters.  Saturday mornings during sleepovers Mama couldn’t “pop” the turnovers in the oven, oh no.  Everything she did was done at hyper speed, from the moment she flew out of bed in the morning until the moment she collapsed into bed at night.  As Mama slammed the baking sheet into the oven, the pastries skittering wildly about the tray, the crash of metal on metal and the slamming of the oven door could be heard down the street…or at least on our side of the house.  And as I stretched in my twin bed with its girly white lace bedskirt, I looked over at Dana/Andrea/Ann waking up in the matching twin bed with the identical bedskirt.  We always smiled knowing we could breakfast later at their house with the utmost confidence it wouldn’t be burned.  Sure enough,  Mama rapped on our door on the bedroom door with the back of her hand, her middle knuckle sounding like the rat-a-tat-tat of a machine gun.  “Girls!  Breakfast is ready!”  I always wanted to sing back, “We know.  We smelled the smoke.” but that would have been sassy and disrespectful and Mama DID NOT tolerate any of that in her house.  No, ma’am.  She would not have batted an eye in front of anyone outside of the family, but later?  Holy Mary, mother of Jesus!  She was liable to wash your mouth out with an enormous, white bar of Ivory soap AND ground you.  Uh uh.   Don’t sass Mama.  Anyway, in our soft blue or pastel pink baby doll nighties off we’d saunter into the kitchen to find a bowl of freshly cut fruit, cold glasses of milk and a gorgeous platter of beautifully arranged turnovers, the pastries were all puffed up with layers of crunchy sweetness.  Sadly, the bottom  of each and every turnover was a solid, black charred mess.  Every.Single.Time.  Without speaking, we’d peel off and enjoy the tops which hadn’t burned and scrape the apple and nut goo on the bottoms with spoons while the exhaust fan roared in the background sucking out the smoke. That was the closest Mama came to baking apples and pastry and we were fine with it.  When you’re twelve or thirteen you know when life is good and our lives were good.  Good and rich with Mama’s love!



Baked Dulce de Leche Apples

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 apples
  • 1 13-ounce can dulce de leche
  • 2 sheets puff pastry, thawed and kept chilled until needed
  1. Line a small baking sheet with tin foil and set aside.
  2. Mix sugars, corn starch and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  3. Using a melon-baller 1″ in diameter, scoop the core out of each apple beginning at the stem and stopping before you get to the bottom of the fruit.  You don’t want the dulce de leche to run out of the bottom.
  4. Roll each apple in the sugar mixture and press the mixture into the outside and inside of the fruit.
  5. Open both sheets of puff pastry and lay down side by side.
  6. Cut both sheets to make 4 rectangles.
  7. Place an apple in the center of one of the rectangles and fill with 2-3 teaspoons of dulce de leche.  Save the remaining dulce de leche to serve with the hot apples.
  8. Bring up the short sides of the puff pastry and press into the apple.  Gather up the long ends of the pastry and pinch together as if it was a bundle.  Pinch closed any gaps or holes.  Continue with the remaining apples and pastry.
  9. Preheat oven to 400°.
  10. Place apple bundles on the baking sheet and put in the freezer for 15 minutes for the pastry to firm up.
  11. Bake the apples 30-35 minutes or until the puff pastry is golden.
  12. Cool the apples 10-15 minutes before serving.
  13. Warm the remaining dulce de leche in the microwave until runny and serve with the baked apples.


Fig and White Wine Jam

Yay! Fresh figs have hit the grocery stores and I, for one, am thrilled.  The season is short so I grab them when I see them.  I’ll figure out what I’m going to do with them later.  My father’s father, Grandpa, used to put up different jams, though as a child I remember looking at a bubbling pot of figs and being completely grossed out.  All those little seeds, millions of them…not going in my mouth!  However, now that same memory of the same simmering pot is beautiful.  And when sunlight hits those pretty, little jars of jars of jam they sparkle like Burmese rubies.  I don’t have Grandpa’s recipe and that’s okay because I’m pretty certain he didn’t use one.  Just kind of eyeballed it.   This fig jam is gorgeous and easy plus it’s one of those recipes that works well simmering it less time or longer depending on the consistency you want.  I enjoy my jam thick and chunky so I simmer it longer.



The white wine brings another fruity note to the pot.  I use a Sauvignon Blanc but that’s what I drink.  Feel free to use any good white wine you have on hand.  The alcohol will burn off after its long simmer so there’s no need to concern yourself there.  With the jam I had prepared I served fontina, fig jam and honey panini for dinner…with a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves.  OMG.  Alongside a big salad of baby greens, my boys were more than happy.  Enjoy!


Fig and White Wine Jam

  • Servings: approximately 7 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 4 pounds fresh figs, stemmed and cut into 1/4″ pieces.  I used equal amounts of Brown Turkey and Kadota figs
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup white wine, I like a Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  1. In a large non-reactive pot place the cut figs and both sugars.  Toss lightly and let sit for 20-30 minutes so that the fruit will let out its juices.
  2. When the sugar has dissolved in the juices of the figs add the white wine and lemon juice.
  3. Simmer the jam, uncovered, over moderately low heat.  You’ll see slow, fat bubbles, you don’t want a furious boil.  Cook until the fruit syrup is thick and the figs are soft and have fallen apart, about 60-90 minutes.  I go for 2 hours as I like my jam thick.
  4. Spoon the jam into clean jars, leaving 1/4″ space at the top.  Close the lids tightly and allow to cool completely before storing in the refrigerator.
  5. Keeps well in the refrigerator 2 months.

Chocolate Dipped Frozen Bananas

Summer.  My favorite season of the year.  It does get hot here in Lauderdale, darn hot.  I can’t imagine putting on long pants.  Even linen sounds stifling.  Shorts and little cotton dresses are the order of the day.  Hot shower?  No, thanks.  I’ll just take a dip in the pool and the chlorine will take care of the rest.  For some reason when we were kids the heat didn’t bother us.  Heck, we didn’t even notice it.  The days we weren’t at camp or running to and fro from tennis lessons to sailing lessons our mothers would kick us out of the house early in the morning.  No sleeping in for us.  No.  A soft-boiled egg and a bowl of Cheerios later and we were on the street, running and playing, racing each other on our bikes or messing around in our forts.  It was a different time.  None of us went home until lunchtime and we all ended up at one house and the mother in that house would put out a platter of sandwiches, some apples or grapes, a pitcher of ice-cold tea which we all scarfed down in a matter of minutes.  Then she’d kick us all out and off we’d go for more adventures.  It was a coed crowd of the neighborhood boys and girls ranging in age from 6-12.  We all got along well and, in retrospect, it was probably too hot to fuss with each other.  Often we would all ride our bikes to the very end of our street, Sea Island Drive.  It’s a dead-end street and at the very point stood an enormous house owned by an oil and gasoline corporation.  It was one of their luxury houses used to wine and dine important clients.  The house was on a kind of “hill” with an enormous circular driveway in front, perfect to pick up speed and fly down the slope to the bottom of the hill on a bike.  And fly we did.  Round and round we’d all go, every now and again someone would drop out and take it easy in the shade…chat with whomever was sitting in the grass.  We’d whoop and holler as if the house was abandoned.  And it wasn’t.  The staff of maids and a butler was always there.  They never said a word to us; never told us to quiet down or get the hell off the property.  They were practically invisible.  Except one day every summer the butler, formally dressed, would walk outside, all stiff and nose in the air, and ask no one in particular, “Would you children like some ice cream?”  Brakes shuddered to a stop, any conversations were cut short.  “Ice cream?”, we all thought.  Then came the exclamations, “Yeah!”, “Awright! Ice cream!”, “Wow! Ice cream!”,  and “You mean it, mister?”.  You’d have thought we had never had it the way we carried on.  But we never had it during the day and in our house we rarely had sweets at all!  He always replied, “One moment, please.” and disappeared back into the house.  Minutes later he and several maids returned each balancing a tray with small, silver cups of ice cream, every cup holding three perfect balls of the cold, creamy stuff, a small silver spoon jutting out to one side.  Vanilla, chocolate and peppermint were typically offered.  No one pushed or shoved, big brothers and sisters made certain the little ones all got their servings, probably so they wouldn’t get in trouble later on.  Taking our bowls to whatever shade we could find, we sat down on the street or on people’s lawns to enjoy this unexpected treat.  Ten minutes later the same staff returned and stood in the driveway while we stacked the little bowls on their trays and collected all the little spoons and any stray napkins.  We thanked them profusely in our little squeaky voices, “Gee, thanks, mister!” as they turned and vanished into the huge, silent house.  We, on the other hand, returned to our hooting and hollering, “Bet I can pop a wheelie at the bottom of the driveway!” Sweet sounds of summer, people.


Chocolate covered frozen bananas are an easy but fantastic treat for kids and adults.  They’re great for a party or just to have on hand when you want to offer your people a li’l special something.



Chocolate Dipped Frozen Bananas

  • Servings: 9
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 3 large bananas, yellow with a little green in the tips of the peel
  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or canola oil
  • 1 cup each of any of the following, sprinkles, chopped peanuts, toasted chopped almonds, coconut flakes, chocolate cookie crumbles, crushed peppermint candies.
  • 9 popsicle sticks
  1. Peel the bananas and cut off the pointy tips.  Eat the tips, give them to the dog or discard.
  2. Cut each banana in thirds, each piece ends up being about 2″-3″ inches long.
  3. Insert a popsicle stick into each banana and place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or wax paper.
  4. Place in freezer overnight or until frozen.
  5. When ready to assemble place chocolate in a bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring every 30 seconds until completely melted.
  6. Add the oil and stir briskly until completely incorporated.
  7. Remove one banana from freezer, dip until covered in chocolate, quickly roll in topping of choice and place on another baking sheet covered with parchment or wax paper.
  8. Continue until all bananas are covered with chocolate.  If chocolate in bowl begins to harden, microwave for 15 seconds to soften.
  9. Place tray with covered bananas in freezer for 2 hours or until ready to serve.

2016…the year of fresh fruits and vegetables


I began the day after Christmas.  In anticipation for the new year I pulled out my favorite water-glass.  I made a silent pledge to myself that I would drink a minimum of eight glasses of water a day.  It’s a good thing for me because I try to chug an entire glass if I’m tempted to mindlessly cheat.  I can meet that minimum easily as I’m tempted often.  I had already started working out but I still needed to go through my work out apparel and weed out any old running bras and shoes.  That done I focused on my overall nourishment for the year.  That mammoth jug of Coquitos I made, rich and thick with coconut milk AND cream??  I sent James off with it to a New Years Eve party.  I actually threw out some of the chocolates given to me.  That REALLY hurt.  Most painful was this.  One and three-quarters pounds of crispy, salty paradise in the form of BBQ potato chips.  Jesus, Mary and Joseph give me strength!  But out they went, into the garbage.

I mean it! You're outta here!
I mean it. You’re outta here!

In 2016 I will celebrate, or at least try to, a milestone birthday.  I’m not particularly looking forward to it.  I know people say, “Oh, it’s just a number!”.  “Oh, shut up.” is what I think when I hear that.  However, I am committed to this as the year of kindness, acceptance and tolerance.  Not only towards others but to myself as well.  I’m not going to fret over my blog or insta numbers.  I will write and post when and what makes me happy.  Nor will I allow myself to get all twisted up when a family member sneaks a taste of something I’m cooking or baking.  Glasses left about the house?  Big deal.  Toast crumbs on the kitchen floor?  Who cares!  Dirty feet on the bed?  It’s just sand.


This is the year of gentleness.  And happiness.  So as I approach the birthday which is on the other side of my salad days, I choose graciousness, affection and goodwill.  I will take care of my body and my soul.  And do my best to take care of those around me.  It doesn’t mean no more “cheesy-wheezies”, as my father calls any food or drink that’s bad for you.  Of course there will be cheesy-wheezies!  But as my mother used to say, “Everything in moderation including moderation”.  For me that breaks down to one small glass of wine but only if I want it.  I don’t have to have it.  So if I don’t feel like wine I’ll stick to my water and not let the vino become a habit.  I’ll still post a festive cake or decadent drink but I’ll keep those at arm’s length.  In other words, I’ll gift them to neighbors.  So far so good.  When I informed Jimmy of my aspirations he reacted without thinking, CLAPPED HIS HANDS and cried happily, “Oh boy!”.  As he often says, “It’s so nice when you’re nice.”  And it is.  Happy New Year y’all!



This is what was for breakfast.  It’s a new day!  Bring out the goat cheese, avocado and a few thin slices of toasted whole grain bread.  A spritz of fresh lemon juice and a quick scattering of red pepper flakes along side your favorite fruit completes breakfast or lunch.  Use your imagination and be creative.  No recipe needed.

Fruit Cobbler

My good friend Janey’s mama died this past weekend and the services were this morning at St. Anthony’s. Our beautiful church shone in the morning light, the stained glass windows threw shards of color across the terrazzo floor.  I stared up at the dramatic high beamed ceiling and it occurred to me that a good number of us had made our First Communion there.  Our children had been baptized in that exquisite church.  The soulful wail of the bagpipes echoed our feelings of sorrow and empathy.  So many old, familiar faces came together to show quiet respect and deep love for Jane and her family.  After the interment they hosted a lovely brunch at Lago where I had the good fortune to sit at a table with my childhood friends, Andrea and Alyson, and their father Dr. Beasley.  In fact, they grew up right across the street from Janey!  And also seated with us were Sarah and Julia McTigue who ALSO grew up around the corner from Janey and her family.  My family grew up one island away.  We laughed about neighborhood adventures and gossiped a bit, too.  Dr. Beasley mentioned our grade school, East Side Elementary.  I loved East Side.  It was a breezy, two-story, mint green building that took up one whole city block.  EVERYBODY went there.  You either went to East Side or St. Anthony’s.  If you lived in our area of town and went to another school that meant you had “a little problem”.  Maybe behavioral…issues everyone knew of, you just didn’t talk about it.  Dr. Beasley and I chuckled about teachers we adored and those we despised.  Made me think of all those wonderful women and men who gave so much of themselves.  Starting in first grade…Mrs. Brown.  Oh, how we loved her!  Gentle and friendly she knew how to make us WANT to be good.  My older sister, Cynthia, had her too, which made it ever so convenient when I came along and could just slip right into Cynthia’s ever-so-perfect wake.  I loved reading about Alice and Jerry and their dog, Jip. We learned to print on lined paper, we had snack time and recess. Then came second grade.  I didn’t really care for second grade all that much.  I got Miss Davis and she was old and had bad, curly, too short hair.  I recall being rather cranky that year.  I wanted a pretty, young teacher.  But nooooooo I had Miss Davis.  Third grade things were looking up, I got Mrs. Lennon.  I was crazy about her.   I knew she would teach me cursive and she let me take out as many books as I wanted from the library.  By the time fourth grade rolled around I was in trouble and didn’t even know it.  My teacher was Mrs. Ross…Lorraine Ross.  B**ch.  She was unpredictable and had the temper of a junk-yard dog.  She could be really, really mean.  I tried to tell my parents but they wouldn’t listen.  They went to a Parent-Teacher Night and I was thrilled.  Now they would see precisely what I was talking about.  Now they would see how cold-blooded and evil she truly was.  I was asleep when Mama and Daddy got home but the next morning the first thing out of my mouth was, “WELL?  See what I mean?  Isn’t she awful?!”  Mama shook her head and smiling she answered, “Oh, cielo!  Don’t be silly.  She was just fine.  And she really seems to like you!”  I went cold all over.  That was the kiss of death.  I knew I was done.  Off we went to school where I tried to put it out of my mind.  It was an ordinary, run-of-the-mill day, we did our schoolwork quietly until late morning.  And then it happened.  Cutting through the stillness of the classroom, the only sounds until then were that of our pencils scratching across papers, Mrs. Ross’ voice rose as she called out, “Alicia, please stand up and tell the class what time it is.”  Simple enough.  If you know how to tell time.  My parents had betrayed me.  They had shared with that Baba Yaga-like witch my shameful secret, that I didn’t know how to tell time.  Cynthia knew how to tell time in first grade, she even had a watch.  I was in fourth…not good!  I slowly stood up next to my desk, I remember feeling somewhat resigned but perfectly calm.  I stared at the big, round clock hanging above the blackboard and to this day still recall the admiration and amazement I had for those who COULD tell time.  Silently I gazed at the clock all the while thinking, “How do those people do it?  Is it 6:30 or 11:30? I dunno.”  I just didn’t say anything.  You see, no one had bothered to inform me that there was a “big hand” and a “small hand”.  The hands of the clock were never even referred to as the “minute hand” and the “hour hand”.  It was just, “Okay, what time is it now?  And now?  Alright, now.”  They neglected to point out the difference in size of the hands.  Well, thanks a lot.  But I didn’t get upset and that’s saying something because Mrs. Ross was clearly enjoying herself.  Guess she was into her own brand of abject humiliation.  I looked around at my classmates unsure if I would see any hint of contempt or derision on their fourth grade faces.  And there wasn’t.  I saw only compassion and kindness.  At one time or another every child in that class had felt the sharp sting of her tongue.  I looked back at her and in a very small voice I answered, ” No.  No, I can’t”.  And I sat down.  Later that day when I got home I flew to my mother’s side and confronted her.  I was furious.  “Mama, how could you?  You told Mrs. Ross I can’t tell time and instead of teaching me she made me stand up and show the class that I don’t know how!”  My emotions had become uncontrollable.  “I don’t understand, Mama!  I don’t understand!  Everyone in the entire world can tell time except me!  What is it?  Is there a secret code?  How can you just look at the clock and know?  How?  HOW?”.   I threw myself on her bed and sobbed.   And that was the moment my mother realized, “Jeez!  She doesn’t know there’s a ‘big hand’ and a ‘little hand’!”  She filled me in on the big secret, the paradox, the mystery of telling time.  And I’m happy to say I have been successfully telling time ever since.

-Front and almost center!

I don’t recall much of the East Side cafeteria but I remember all our food was served on pastel melamine plates and the cafeteria ladies made a mean cobbler.  I’ve used this recipe countless times with all different kinds of fruit from apples to peaches and nectarines.  I know it’s cheating using a biscuit mix but sometimes you want a warm, comforting dessert that’s fast and easy and this is it.  The recipe has been in the newspaper many times and on the box of the biscuit mixes as well.  Served with a scoop of ice cream, it’s beautiful!

Bisquick Fruit Cobbler

yield: one batch…serves 8-10

  • 1 cup Bisquick or biscuit mix
  • 1 cup milk, I use fat-free
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 7 or 8 Granny Smith apples or any combination of fruit you like, ie. peaches and nectarines, peeled or unpeeled and chopped into 1/2″ chunks

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Stir together Bisquick and milk then stir in melted butter.
  3. Pour batter into an 8X11 ungreased baking dish or one close to that size.
  4. In a large bowl mix fruit and sugar well.  If you are using apples feel free to add apple pie spices.  For the peach and nectarine mix I add 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and a large pinch of ground cardamom.  Heaven!
  5. Without mixing, spoon fruit over batter.  The batter will rise over the fruit when it bakes.
  6. Bake for 1 hour or until golden and bubbly.