Pear Berry Cake


Hey there– Don’t you love using up leftovers in a way that doesn’t taste like–well– leftovers??  We had some pears and berries languishing in the fridge from the weekend.  Mixed them into a little cake for friends.  I’d say the berries were much improved by a wrapping of sweet tender cake!

PEAR BERRY CAKE
1  1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. amaretto or almond extract*
3/4 cup canola oil
2 pears, peeled, cored and cut to bits
2 cup mixed berries**
1/3 cup sliced almonds

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Then mix in the vanilla, amaretto and oil.  Stir in the pears into the stiff batter and then gently fold in the berries.

Then scoop the batter into a 9″ or 10″ springform pan (or cake pan). Sprinkle the almonds on top and then bake it in a 350 fahrenheit oven for 25 to 30 minutes more until the cake is cooked through and a sharp knife inserted to the cake comes out clean.

*I use amaretto because I can buy a big bottle for $7 at the market (so much less than almond extract.)
**I used leftover strawberries, blueberries and blackberries from a breakfast we had here a few days ago (see the Books & Breakfast post! )

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Pear Vinaigrette Salad

Hello there–Are things winding down at your house??  We just took our Laurel and John to the airport to fly back to Wisconsin.  And now we’re all lazing in the family room.  Grand-girls coloring or stitching on Christmas craft kits.  And grown ups are reading phones in the sunshine.  I think we’re all Christmas-ed out!

And ready to eat something besides Christmas fudge and party dips– like this salad.  We had it with our Christmas Eve lunch– add a little chicken or ham and it could be a complete meal.  The star of the salad is the puree pear vinaigrette.  Delish!

PEAR VINAIGRETTE SALAD

Salad:
4 cups of your favorite greens (we used a head of green leaf lettuce)
2 pears, cored and chopped
1/2 cup hazel nuts, chopped in half
1/2 cup feta

Vinaigrette:
1 ripe pear, peeled, cored, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. seedy Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Layer the greens, 2 chopped pears, hazel nuts and feta in a bowl.

To make the vinaigrette, use a blender (or stick blender) to blend the 1 ripe prepared pear, vinegar, mustard, oil and garlic to make a creamy dressing.  Season with salt & pepper until it tastes perfect– sweet and tangy.  Pour over the salad when you are ready to eat!

Ham, Pear, Goat Cheese Spinach Salad

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Hey there– I picked up one of those heavy, foiled wrapped spiral hams at the market last week, the kind you glaze with caramel and serve on a platter pink and salty.  It was for a Saturday brunch with friends– along with mimosas and yeasty waffles.  And the happy news is that there were leftovers!

So Sunday lunch turned into a green leafy salad with slices of that ham, pear and a few extras to round out the plate.  With a toasted chunk of whole grain bread, it was a cozy lunch sitting around the coffee table on a quiet Sunday.

HAM, PEAR, GOAT CHEESE SPINACH SALAD
5 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup farro
1 pear, cored & sliced
10 slices of ham
sprinkle of crumbled goat cheese
pecans
dried cranberries

Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tab. cider vinegar
2 tab. maple syrup
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste.

Layer the ingredients for the salad on a platter.  When you are ready to serve the salad, put the ingredients for the dressing in a container with a tight fitting lid and shake it until it is thoroughly blended.  Drizzle the dressing over the salad and dig in!  (makes 2 dinner salads)img_4775

Caramel Pear Bread Pudding

IMG_2101Hello there–  I know, I know it’s not really fall yet.  It felt like the depths of summer when we were out walking the trails yesterday with our kids.  whew!!  But school starts today and I’m just ready to be back to all that fall baking.  And this cinnamon and pear dish pretty clearly tastes like fall.  So I’ll just pretend it’s October and  dig in to a fruity, spicy plate full…

CARAMEL PEAR BREAD PUDDING
6 cups 1″ white firm bread cubes
2 tab. melted butter
2 red pears, cored & cut in small bits
1/4 cup dried currants*
3 eggs, beaten slightly
2 cups milk
1 cup caramel ice cream syrup, divided
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

IMG_2119Put the bread cubes in a large mixing bowl and toss them with the melted butter to coat the bread.  Then mix in the pears and currants.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, 1/2 cup caramel syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt.

Spread the bread cubes and pears evenly over a 9″x13″ baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Then pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes.  Smoosh the bread down into the egg mixture to be sure it is all moistened.

Bake the bread pudding in a 350 degree over for 50 to 60 minutes– until the top of the bread cubes are toasty and the custard (egg mixture) is set.

When you take the dish out of the oven.  Sprinkle the pecans over the top of the bread pudding and drizzle the remaining 1/2 cup of caramel syrup over it all.

Let it sit about 30 minutes to cool a bit and then serve it up with a happy serving of ice cream or whipped cream alongside.

*The recipe I worked from called for 1/4 cup dried cranberries, but I used currants — they’re a little more subtle.  Raisins or other dried fruits would work as well…