Chunky Pineapple Tomatillo Salsa

During our years living in Columbia, we loved going to the Soda City Market on Main Street in downtown Columbia. Now that we live in Richmond, we’ve turned to the South of the James market for our Saturday morning perusing. For better or for worse, Soda City Market isn’t exactly a farmers market in our opinion. There are a handful of farmers with fresh goods, but they are definitely outnumbered by food vendors and artisans. South of the James is more of a true farmers market, with quite a few farms and farmers in attendance, in addition to some other vendors. Pro: there are way more options of fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats from which to choose! Con: there are not as many brunch-while-strolling-the-market options, though there are several.

This is in fact relevant to our recipe today and our goals of having this blog. While we were browsing through the produce at one stand, one of the proprietors was popping open these little tomatillos for people to taste. He told us these were “pineapple tomatillos” and would you believe it, they really do taste like a combination of a tangy, sweet pineapple and a sharply earthy green tomato. We bought a carton without a second thought. We’re certainly not tomatillo connoisseurs, but we’d never heard of these little guys. We also acquired some pretty purple beans, a few bell peppers and onions (which are also making their appearance in this salsa), and delicious plump blackberries that we finished before we even got to the car! Overall a successful trip 🙌🏼 Soooo… hopefully no one clicked on this link looking for a pineapple AND tomatillo salsa, because that’s not what we’re making tonight!

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Little pineapple tomatillos!

With a little research, we learned that tomatillos generally belong to two species of the same genus (Physalis philadelphica and Physalis ixocarpa), but that there are dozens of varieties. Tomatillos are native to Mexico and Central America, but are generally cultivated all over the Americas today outside of the coldest reaches to the north and south. The largest natural and cultivated variety of tomatillos grow in Mexico. Our pineapple tomatillos are one of those many varietals! Another interesting tidbit: the modern Spanish word tomatillo is derived from the Native American/Aztec word for the same plant and ingredient, tomatl.

I know these pineapple tomatillos aren’t exactly an ingredient everyone has on hand or can run out to the store and pick up, but if you come across them anywhere, get some! This salsa was refreshing – light and fresh! Everyone who ate it remarked that it tasted like a tropical fruit salsa, even though it obviously doesn’t contain any mangoes or pineapples or the like!


Chunky Pineapple Tomatillo Salsa

Ingredients:
  • ~2 cups pineapple tomatillos (~1 cup, husks removed)
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 scant cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • Salt & pepper
Instructions:
  1. Husk the tomatillos and roughly chop. (These are pretty small, so we essentially quartered them.)
  2. Place in a medium-sized bowl and sprinkle with a shake or two of salt.
  3. Stir the onion, pepper, cilantro, vinegar, lime zest, and 4 turns fresh ground black pepper in with the tomatillos.
  4. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes and until ready to serve.
Yields ~2 cups of salsa
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Strawberry Ricotta Toast

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You know how avocado toast suddenly became a thing? Kudos to whoever first thought, “Hmm… let me smash some avocado on a piece of bread, top it was something Instagrammable, and see if people will pay 10 times more than the ingredients are worth for it…” #avocadotoast And Instagram has never been the same.

Well I’m here to tell you that ricotta toast is the next avocado toast. Dare I say it… It may be bigger than avocado toast. Unlike the avocado, ricotta can pair with sweet or savory ingredients. I really can’t think of anything that wouldn’t work with ricotta. And that white background will provide quite the Instagrammable contrast for the toppings. We have a ways to go until my theory is proven – #avocadotoast has been used more than 760,000 times on Instagram, while #ricottatoast is hovering just under 3,000. I always favor the underdog 💪🏼💪🏼

I’ve seen ricotta toast on a few restaurant menus (and a few Instagram shots) and thought it’d be perfect for my breakfast. I have leftover ricotta from our Prosciutto & Basil Topped Lemon Ricotta Pappardelle dish the other night. Leftover basil makes an appearance on this one too. Best part about this breakfast was that every ingredient already resided in my kitchen. All of these proportions and ingredients could easily be adjusted to personal tastes as well.

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Strawberry Ricotta Toast

Ingredients:
  • Slice of bread
  • 2 tbsp ricotta cheese
  • A few strawberries, sliced
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (preferably a thicker, more syrupy type)
  • Fresh basil, torn
  • Fresh ground black pepper
Instructions:
  1. Toast your bread.
  2. Smear the toast with ricotta.
  3. Top with strawberries, basil, a few turns of fresh ground black pepper, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
  4. Instagram your creation.

Parmesan Roasted Sweet Potatoes

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Let me tell you about Thanksgiving… it is my favorite holiday! Two of my favorite things in the world are food and family, and Thanksgiving combines both of those. I love just sitting around, visiting with all of my extended family, while simultaneously grazing on heaping plates of carbs. And since both my mom and my dad have equally large families, we get to repeat this exercise in over-indulgence twice in the day! I like to stuff my plate with all the delicious things – turkey and ham, mashed potatoes, mac & cheese, all of the vegetables, buttered rolls, and ladles full of gravy over top of it all! But you know what I’ve never been a huge fan of…? The sweet potato casserole. I think I feel like it doesn’t quite belong with the rest of the savory stuff and you don’t put gravy on top, so it really just doesn’t fit on my plate.

But this dish? This trades the extra sweetness of marshmallows for a more savory topping. If you’re more of a savory kind of person like me, you could substitute this out for the traditional sweet potato casserole for your Thanksgiving celebration. I certainly would prefer it… although I’m not going to lie, you might get some push-back from the traditionalists. These are easy to make (and quick compared to a lot of the rest of your Thanksgiving dinner), so tell the traditionalists to relax and take a bite! They’ll be converted by the melt-in-your-mouth quality of the potatoes combined with the slightly crispy topping.

Happy Thanksgiving! 🦃🦃🦃

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Parmesan Roasted Sweet Potatoes

(Adapted from this recipe)
Ingredients:
  • 4 small-medium sweet potatoes
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 10 turns fresh ground black pepper
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice the sweet potato, trying to maintain uniform thickness of ~1/4 inch.
  3. Lay them out on a foil-line cookie sheet.
  4. Mix together all of the remaining ingredients. Brush the mixture over top all of the sweet potatoes.
  5. Roast for 20-25 minutes.
  6. Serve topped with a bit more Parmesan if you’re feeling greedy 🙂
Side dish for 4-6

Cider Chicken with Savory Fall Fruits

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We may have mentioned it once or twice, but we’re big fans of wine in general and Virginia wine in particular. We used to live in Charlottesville, the de facto capital of Virginia wine country. There are many perks to living in Charlottesville, but definitely one of them is the proximity to the many wines of the Monticello AVA. There are dozens of wineries and vineyards, as well as breweries and cideries within easy day-trip distance from the center of town.

Sadly, we can’t say the same about SC, but we are lucky enough to remain wine club members at one of our favorites, King Family Vineyards, and receive a shipment of Virginia wine every quarter. In our package of wine from them, there’s always a newsletter with vineyard updates on one side and a seasonal recipe on the other side. When we received our shipment last week, this quarter’s recipe caught our eye! Tonight’s dish, with its fall flavors of cider and apples, is inspired by the one they shared with us.

{Relatedly, hit us up if you want to plan a long weekend or a day trip to Virginia wine country! We have lots of suggestions!}

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Cider Chicken with Savory Fall Fruits

Ingredients: 
  • 4 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, sliced & halved
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 2 persimmons, chopped
  • 1 large tart red apple, sliced
  • 1 12oz bottle hard cider
  • 2 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme, chopped
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 bunch of spinach
Instructions: 
  1. In a large, high-sided skillet, cook the chopped bacon over medium heat. As soon as the bacon begin to release its fat, add the onions and garlic to the pan.
  2. Cover and sweat for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then remove to the side.
  3. Now increase heat to medium-high, brown the chicken thighs on both sides in the remaining bacon fat. Once browned, remove these to the side as well.
  4. Add the fruit to the pan with the bacon and chicken drippings. Cook for just 2 or 3 minutes, tossing once or twice, to get the fruit slightly browned. And then remove these to the side as well.
  5. Now, deglaze the pan with the cider. Stir in the mustard, fish sauce, herbs, and a few shakes of salt & pepper.
  6. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, return the chicken to the pan. Cover and cook for 6-8 minutes.
  7. Remove lid and flip the chicken. Keep the liquid boiling and allow some to cook off for the next few minutes.
  8. Return all of the rest of the ingredients that were sidelined to the dish. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
  9. Serve the chicken, topped with fruit and onions. Spoon some of the cider mixture overtop.
  10. Once the skillet is emptied of these ingredients, place the spinach in with the remaining liquid. Cover and lower heat. The spinach will be ready to serve on the side once wilted, just another two minutes longer.
Serves 6-8

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Pumpkin Roll

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I’ve had this recipe pinned for a long time, because I knew Selim would like it, but I found it really intimidating. When I bake, things just never turn out as pretty as the should. {I blame my friend/old roommate Terry – she is an amazing baker/dessert wizard. I’m just assuming that when we lived together, any ounce of baking ability that Katie, our other roommate, and I might have ever possessed leeched out of us and went to her. Actually, maybe she absorbed all the potential baking ability of everyone she’s ever lived with – she’s that good. I mean, people pay her to make desserts for their special events out of our little old kitchen. She made our wedding cake! Let’s all gang up on her and peer pressure her to open a bakery; it will be for the betterment for all of humankind!} But anyway… I promised Selim I’d make him a fall treat and that I’d use real pumpkin, so here we are. Obviously, I haven’t tried this dessert with canned pumpkin puree, but I don’t think roasting your own pumpkin really added that much more work. I’m sure it’s worth it 🙂

Now, I’m not going to lie. This dessert is a little bit of a project. The active time really isn’t all that much, but there’s a lot of down time. It’s a perfect fall weekend project, while you’re around the house anyway! Pumpkin roasting in the oven = watch a quarter of football. Rolled cake cooling = rake some leaves. Entire roll chilling in the oven = go on a walk around the neighborhood.

Mine didn’t turn out quite as pretty as my model from Gimme Some Oven, or as pretty as Terry would’ve made it, but it was tasty!! What can I say, I’m a baking work in progress 🤷

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Pumpkin Roll

(Adapted from Gimme Some Oven)
Ingredients: 
  • 1 sugar/pumpkin pie pumpkin (utilizing 2/3 cup of pumpkin puree)
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla, divided
  • 8oz block cream cheese, softened/room temp
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar + extra for sprinkling
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Slice pumpkin in half and scoop out all of the seeds and strings. Roast face-up for an hour.
  3. Meanwhile, in one large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients from flour through salt.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and 1 tsp of vanilla.
  5. Once the pumpkins are done, scoop the flesh out and into a food processor. Blend a few times until you have a nice puree.
  6. Take 2/3 cup of the pumpkin puree and whisk in with the other wet ingredients.
  7. Now, fold the wet and dry ingredients together until you have a well-combined batter.
  8. Splash a tiny bit of water into a 10 x 15 glass baking dish. Press wax/parchment paper into the dish, with extra hanging over the edge (you’ll use this to lift the cake out of the dish).
  9. Pour the batter into the dish and then bake for 15 minutes. [When it’s done, the dough will spring back when you touch it with your finger.]
  10. Lift the cake dough out of its pan and lay on a counter-top. Trim the paper so it is just past the edges of the cake. Roll the dough from short end to short end, as tightly as you can.
  11. Set the roll, seam down, on a wire cooling rack and allow to cool.
  12. Meanwhile, prepare the cream cheese filling. Using a hand-held mixer, ombine all of the remaining ingredients – cream cheese, 1 tsp vanilla, butter, and powdered sugar.
  13. If the cake has cooled to room temperature, unroll it and spread the cream cheese mixture onto it. Leave a little bit of an edge on all sides.
  14. Re-roll! Peel the wax paper away as you’re rolling. Wrap the now-completed roll tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  15. Prior to serving, slice off the edges (and eat them!), so you have a pretty edges to show the world!
  16. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar if desired. Slice with a bread knife and serve those rounds.

Honey Baked Peaches

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You know those word association games/tests that psychologists (at least on TV) use to gain deep insight into your psyche? You know the one – they ask you to say the first word that pops into your mind when they say something seemingly innocuous like “mother” and then learn a lot about you depending on whether you reply with “love,” “lipstick,” “lazy,” or “laundry.” (Side note: this is not to say that those are my first four words for my mother; I was just going for some alliteration for your Sunday evening!) Well somehow I got to thinking about this in terms of dessert. If you were said imaginary psychologist and prompted me with “dessert,” these would be my words: “baking,” “oven,” “chocolate,” “sugar,” “sweet,” and “timer.” In my own self-psycho-analysis, I’ve concluded that I somehow only associate dessert with baked goods and a time-consuming process. This is, of course, not true at all. The moral of my story is that I need to branch out a little bit. (I played this game with Selim, and when I offered the word “dessert,” he immediately responded with “chocolate.”)

Tonight’s dessert is a perfect example. The prep-work is literally 2 minutes long, and you’re eating your dessert barely after you even thought about it! All you need is a couple peaches in your fruit bowl and a few standard pantry ingredients, and voila! You have a delicious dessert! Also, I think this is the perfect dessert to bridge summer and fall, aka the month of September. You’ve got the last of a your juicy summer peaches, but baked with some of your favorite fall flavors!

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Honey Baked Peaches

Ingredients: 
  • 2 peaches
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • Honey
Instructions:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Slice peaches in half and remove the pit.
  3. Place cut side up on a foil-lined pie pan.
  4. Drizzle each peach half with some honey.
  5. Stir together all dry ingredients and then sprinkle over top each of the peach halves.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes.
  7. After removing from the oven, drizzle with honey again!
  8. Serve as is or top with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream!
Serves 2-4

 

Strawberry Streusel Bars

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As we’ve mentioned before (see Mint Chocolate Bars), we like to bring a treats in for the staff when we finish a rotation. It’s the least we can do for the people who spend their time and effort training us! We’re not the only one’s who do this – but we do try to have the best treats! This means a little bit of variety from the standard brownies and chocolate chip cookies. It also mean a little bit of thinking, because I’m like everyone else – when I think of easy treats that everyone loves, my mind also immediately jumps to brownies and chocolate chip cookies! I’ve never made anything remotely like this before. (See previous comments about being intimidated by baking.) I found them to be fresh and summer-y. I think they’d be a great addition to a summer-time picnic or BBQ.

And they were a hit at the hospital today. I got rave reviews from everyone who tried them – hopefully they weren’t just being nice 😉😉 Side note – I ate mine chilled as they were after being cut, but I was informed by a few people that they warmed theirs back up before eating and highly recommended it!

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Strawberry Streusel Bars

(Adapted from this recipe here)
Ingredients: 
  • Base layer
    • 8 tbsp butter, softened
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1 cup flour
    • 2 tsp cornstarch
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Strawberry layer
    • 2 cups chopped fresh strawberries
    • 1 tbsp sugar
    • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • Streusel layer
    • 4 tbsp cold butter, chopped into small cubes
    • 1/3 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup flour
    • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    • Pinch of salt (omit if using salted butter)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

  2. Line an 8×8 inch square baking pan with aluminium foil or parchment paper. Spray lightly with a cooking spray.

  3. First make the base layer: Using a hand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until well combined in a large bowl.

  4. Now slowly add the flour, cornstarch, vanilla, and salt until combined. (It may look a little crumbly, but it’ll be fine!)

  5. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan using your hands.

  6. Bake for 15 minutes.

  7. While the bottom layer is baking, make other two layers.

  8. For the strawberry layer: Stir together all ingredients for this layer and set aside.

  9. For the streusel topping: Using the hand-held mixer, mix all of these ingredients together. The mixture will be uneven.

  10. Once the bottom layer is done, remove the pan from the oven and turn up the oven to 350 degrees. Let it sit for just a few minutes before topping.

  11. Using a large spoon, layer the strawberry layer evenly over the base.

  12. Top with the streusel layer. This should look a bit messy/uneven.

  13. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

  14. Refrigerate until all the way cooled prior to slicing and serving.