Tips and Tricks

A Restaurant Dessert to Make at Home

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Posted November 9th, 2012 in Posts, Serving with Style, Tips and Tricks

Last week I had the opportunity to dine at a very nice local restaurant with some friends.  I feel it my duty to all of you to order dessert at these occasions particularly if they contain fruit.  As you know I am committed to getting my 5-9 servings per day in a variety of forms and there, on the menu, was an individual Blueberry Cheesecake with Meyer Lemon Sauce.  Well really, what was I supposed to do when presented with an opportunity to get TWO servings at once AND do research that might prove beneficial to my readers?

So the dessert was delicious and beautiful. It was the perfect blend of the creamy, tart and sweet with a nice texture both from the pop of the blueberries which are inside the cheesecake as opposed to the traditional topping and the crunch of the crust. So after enjoying I decided to try to make my own version.  I baked mine in large muffin cups which worked out well but they sunk in the middle so they didn’t look as perfect as the one created by the professional pastry chef. Upon further analysis from my friend Lori, we determined that the restaurant probably baked full size cakes and cut the individual cakes out with a ring mold.  Too much waste for me. The trick to using canned blueberries in this recipe is to drain them well and then toss them with a bit of flour so they remain suspended in the cream cheese batter.

The meyer lemon sauce is amazing and you really want to make this during the short season you can find these lemons. They are sweeter, smaller and thinner skinned than a regular lemon. I found them last week at COSTCO!!


A Cup of Love for Breakfast

You have probably figured out by now that I am partial to individual serve items. I like cupcakes, mini pies, cake pops, dessert in a jar, ALL of it!  It’s also kind of trendy right now so I can’t claim originality.  So when I opened my Wednesday paper this week and saw individual coffee cake in a mug I knew I had to try this.

Sometimes the benefit of single serve is portion control but these little gems are NOT on the diet.  They are, however, the most delicious thing that has ever come out of my microwave.  Yes, I said MICROWAVE!  I never even use this appliance except maybe to defrost or heat up coffee.  But this recipe will make it possible to bake something delightful with very little time.  Don’t get me wrong, there is a bit of prep. But the results are so worth it.

One of my very favorite Oregon Fruits are our Purple Plums.  I admit to bias here, but our Italian purple plums are A LOT better than any other canned plums you might find in the store.  And ours are hard to find.  Not many retailers carry them but you can always get them from  You have to buy a case of 8 but, trust me, they won’t last. You will be eating them for dessert, breakfast and afternoon snack and wondering why you have just discovered them.

I made a Plum Coffee Cake in a Mug AND a Plum Upside Down Cake in a Mug (this one is kind of a misnomer but so delicious I am sure you will forgive me the fact that you don’t actually turn it upside down).  The texture of the cake baked in the microwave was surprisingly cake-like.  You got to try this!  These will definitely be go-to items at The Queen’s B&B.


Sometimes you just gotta bake

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Posted April 13th, 2012 in In the Kitchen, Posts, Tips and Tricks

It has been raining for days.  I love the look of the rain from my windows and everything is very green and lush.  I also appreciate that rain brings snow to the mountains and since I am a skier and have not yet had my fill this year due to a very late, almost non-existent winter rain is good.  But it has been four days and it is mid-April after all.  So, I decided, bake I must!  I started perusing recipes on the internet and one announced itself from the screen.

I really like to serve warm baked goods and coffee on Sundays to my friends before heading out to the farmers market.  Nothing like a fresh baked warm something and good strong coffee.  So I found a Mixed Berry Almond Gratin referred to by its author, The United Soybean Board as a “breakfast gratin”.  Miraculously I had everything I needed in my pantry and fridge.  Of course I always keep Oregon Canned Berries and Cherries on hand and you should too. They are perfect for when you haven’t shopped in a while and don’t have any fresh fruit around.

Anyway… this recipe also found an innovative way to reduce the fat.  A secret ingredient you might not have thought of-tofu!  I just happened to have some left from a salad dressing recipe I got from my niece Leah.  That was how I first learned about substituting tofu for things that beg for creaminess.  WORKS GREAT!

The best part about this recipe is it came together in about 5 minutes. I put it in the oven to bake while I mopped the kitchen floor.  Then I sat down on the couch with my book, watching the rain while the aroma of warm berries filled the house. WOW-this recipe is a keeper. Berries topped with a rich custard and crusty top.


Easy Cherry Brulee-Good for you too!

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Posted February 3rd, 2012 in Posts, Tips and Tricks


It’s onlbruary so New Year’s Resolutions are still in play.  I have a favorite dessert I eat all the time, healthy, quick, low fat, high protein. I was watching TV the other night eating my favorite dessert and it dawned on me that this could be fancy enough for company with just a few quick tweaks. So today I am just going to share this brilliant moment with you.

3 cups fat free Greek Yogurt

1 can Oregon Fruit Dark Sweet Cherries, drained syrup reserved

3 TBS slivered toasted almonds

Raw sugar

Put about 6 cherries in the bottom of 4 glass dessert dishes.  Mix the yogurt with they syrup until the sweetness is to your liking, the color is  a lovely shade of pink but it is still thick.

Spoon evenly over the cherries and smooth the top.  Sprinkle the almonds dividing evenly amongst the four dishes.  Top with Raw sugar to cover the almonds.  If you have a torch, just torch the sugar until you have a crispy top, careful not to burn the sugar. It works fast. If you don’t have a torch you should get one as they are really fun. But if you don’t just put them under the broiler for a very few minutes watching carefully.    DELICIOUS!!! and no guilt!


Second Annual Sacramento Taste of Home Cooking School

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Posted November 25th, 2011 in Holiday, Posts, Tips and Tricks

Last year Kaitlin and I had so much fun sampling Oregon Fruit for the attendees of the Sacramento stop on the “Taste of Home Cooking School” tour that I decided to do it again. My good friend Lori Luke graciously agreed to help me with the event and I most certainly could not have done it without her.

It was fun to see alot of folks that we met last year come back to try something new and our sample idea was a pretty big hit.  I thought it was the perfect thing to share this time of year. We made a dessert “amuse bouche” or perfect bite.  Each little cherry tart was just 25 calories and from all accounts, delicious!









This is an extremely easy dessert to make from items you just have around (if your smart, that is).  We used Athens Mini Phyllo Shells.  The package is in the freezer of most grocery stores.  I bought these at Wal-Mart Supercenter for $1.65 per package of 15.  One can of Oregon Fruit Dark Sweet Cherries, drained has about 30 cherries in it.  They are on sale everywhere this time of year for under $3.00. I intended to put two cherries in each mini tart but they were so big and beautiful that only one cherry fit.  Then we drizzled with Hershey’s syrup.   They would have been prettier with melted chocolate chips or bulk dark chocolate that hardens after drizzling. You could even use white and dark chocolate.  But we made a thousand so we took the shortcut.

You could get fancier, Lori thought she might whip some cream cheese with powdered sugar to put in the bottom of the tart before putting in a cherry. That would create a cherry cheesecake bite.

Around the holidays we are always going to potluck celebrations that require we bring an item to share. This one is a winner-elegant, delicious, inexpensive and made from items you can keep on hand. What could be better.

This is a tip that will help you keep your sanity during this extremely busy time. You can whip this dessert up in minutes, guilt free, pretty, delicious and you still have some money left for the mountains of gifts you still need to buy.

The “Taste of Home Cooking School” provided lots of great tips and recipes as well. I picked up a great idea for Christmas Dinner at my mom’s.   It’s a pork roast glazed and crusted with whole grain mustard and raspberries.  I will definitely be posting this one before Christmas so stay tuned.   I am also going  to make a red/green chex mix with m&m’s to put in festive jars for my friends and neighbors this year. It is a gluten free treat, that is colorful, delicious and super easy.

Are you starting to sense a theme here?  I am looking to simplify the holidays this year and planning to find my “zen” in the simplicity.   I will keep you posted on how I do with that.

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