Strawberry, Grapefruit and Poppy Seed Pie Bars

Testing Testing Hello it is me I have not been lost.

We can pretend that I’ve just been away forever so that I could develop these pie bars for you even thought it’s just a riff on a good old standby.

Here in Fresno we’ve got great strawberries already so I bought a flat and went to town. I ended up developing these (with plenty of leftover strawberries that I need to figure out how to use up) and couldn’t be happier with the results.

I love strawberries, I love grapefruit, I love the floral flavor of poppyseeds.

They all play so well off of each other, the strawberry and grapefruit come together to give almost a fruit punch flavor? and then the poppy seeds are not only there to get stuck in your teeth but they’ve got that light floral flavor that hits your tongue every few crunches and it’s like 3 best friend flavors hanging out and gossiping about all the good shit.

These come together so quickly, the only wait time is the cooling process, which is not only important for the infrastructure of the dessert but also allows time for the flavors to mellow and settle down and stretch before the big dance number on your tongue.

Go out and buy some strawberries, local if you can (riverpark farmers market vendors in Fresno have some of my favorites rn) and make yourself a batch of these, you won’t be disappointed.

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Chocolate Espresso Snickerdoodles

And here it is, after 5 long years of being in the wild in the Whip it Up(!) cookbook, Vis-à-vis on the wit and vinegar dot com.

This recipe is one of the few recipes that I still make every year around this time and every year I’ve said hey I need to definitely reshoot and post on the site because it’s kind of perfect?

I don’t want to toot my own horn and I don’t want to diminish what the regular snickerdoodle has done for generations and bringing families together but this cookie? She’s the cool cousin that comes every holiday that you’re like okay bitch your vibe intimidates me but I’m curious.

We’re staying in the snickerdoodle lane with the cream of tartar and cinnamon sugar coating but where we usually just have a collectively beautiful vanilla dough we’re swerving into another lane with cocoa and instant espresso powder.

The outcome is a chewy, slightly fudgy/tangy, deep chocolate cookie and a crispy cinnamon coating made with cane sugar for a slightly higher level of gloss and sparkle.

These cookies come together fairly easily and are even better if you make the dough the day ahead of time so you can ***plan ahead*** by a day for the cookie cravings.

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Eggnog Panna Cotta with Mango Coulis

Eggnog Panna Cotta with Mango Coulis

Special shout out to the National Mango Board for sponsoring this post and helping keep this site/me moving/shaking/twisting.

One of my favorite things about working with the National Mango Board this year was learning about all the varieties of mangos and how they’re available year-round thanks to staggered growing seasons.

This was a sigh of relief for me too when I realized I could incorporate them into holiday recipes. It’s already been fun experimenting with new ways to leverage their sweet, tropical taste when pairing with traditional Christmas flavors and menus, so it was a relief knowing I’d have a few varieties available in-stores to choose from.

Now, I know you’re probably thinking:

“Eggnog and mango? Are you okay?!”

The answer is yes, yes I am okay, thank you for asking.

It’s a weird combo, I’ll admit I was a little skeptical when I first thought of it, but the flavor profile of the mango with the fruitiness of the nutmeg pair so so well together and it’s a welcome detour from the super sweet flavors that usually adorn the dessert table.

Panna cotta is also one of the easiest things to make. A lot of recipes will usually have you heat everything up and add the gelatin to that, but for me I shortcut it by only heating up a little of the liquid to melt the gelatin. This makes it easier to work with and make sure the gelatin has actually all dissolved and it helps it set much faster because you’re adding a little hot milk to double the amount of cold eggnog. It comes together in 15 minutes, you can pour it into some cute glasses like I’ve got here, or little bowls. You could even make one giant one in a baking dish and just scoop it out to serve. Not as pretty but equally delicious.

For the mango portion, it’s a simple way to enjoy the fruit in a dessert: a coulis.

A coulis is just a slightly juiced up sweetened fruit puree. Most fruit purees are too thick for things like this, you’d just have lumps and bumps and you’d have to work on really spreading it out carefully. A coulis adds some water and sugar, if necessary, to make a puree that’s extra smooth when strained, and loose enough to cover something like this perfectly.

Added bonus? Saying something is a coulis is a good way to make people think you either a) know how to speak French or b) really know what you’re talking about when it comes to desserts.

Either one is fine with me.

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Parrot Punch for a National Mango Board Friendsgiving

Special shout out to the National Mango Board for sponsoring this post and helping keep this site/me moving/shaking/twisting.

This year we’re kicking off thanksgiving festivities with a Mango Friendsgiving.

A bunch of bloggers working with the Mango Board are virtually gathering to have some fun and show how versatile the mango is. A bonus is that it’s also available year round through different varieties, so even in the winter you taste a little sunshine.

I was tasked with bringing the cocktail, which, no problem there, that’s a task I welcome anytime.

I knew I wanted to incorporate bourbon somehow because it’s a great fall and winter spirit and has no issue pairing well with any thanksgiving dish, including dessert. The drink itself sort of just happened with trial and error, with the mang leading the way with the bourbon riding in the passenger seat.

I wanted to brighten up the cocktail so I went ahead and added some lime juice along with some cranberry and sparkling water to make the cocktail pair even better with heavier dishes that might be served for the holidays.

The parrot part comes into play with the combo of the green lime, the red cranberry, and the bright yellow mango, all of it coming together to actually make a beautiful golden color.

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Mango Spice Muffins

Special shout out to the National Mango Board for sponsoring this post and helping keep this site/me moving/shaking/twisting.

We’re wading into the waters of pumpkin spice and holiday seasons, but what if we could make the colder months mango spice season instead?

This recipe uses fresh mango puree from a v v v large green-skinned mango, aka the Keitt mango. This delicious, versatile fruit is in season and available fresh year-round, thanks to the six varieties that have staggered growing seasons, and I’m not complaining. To ensure your mango is ripe, give it a gentle squeeze. It should give slightly when pressed. Each mango variety has a slightly different color (like the green Keitt mango I used in this recipe), so don’t use color as an indicator for ripeness.

When used in a recipe like this, the mango almost takes on the same responsibility as pumpkin in the fall and adds a bunch of sweet moisture to the muffins. The warm spices give us pumpkin spice adjacent vibes, dare I say combatting the need for any pumpkin at all in this season of pumpkin spice.

The muffins come together easily and are a perfect start to any day, but the streusel makes them a perfect sweet snack throughout the day.

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Peperoncini Panzanella

Special shout out to Mezzetta for sponsoring this post and helping keep this site/me moving/shaking/twisting.

As the summer dwindles down and fall foods start to creep in (I had an out of body experience the other day while my hand just involuntarily reached for a pumpkin spice almond creamer). I figured there needs to be some sort of summer send-off produce bucket list, a salute to all the good things we can’t have for another year:

– sweet juicy tomatoes
– perfect peaches etc.
– cute ripe strawberries
– cheap basil everywhere

When Mezzetta reached out and asked if I wanted to work on something I figuured it was the ideal time to cross perfect tomatoes off the list and give myself something to make all summer long.

Next year.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The recipe really does lend itself to whatever vegetables you have on hand though, and would do really well as a fall salad with some roasted squash or chickpeas, I think it’ll appear as something fresh a few times this fall.

I will take any and all reasons to eat bread and call it a salad 🙂

Overall this is an incredibly dish to throw together. The dressing is just two ingredients (olive oil and brine from the Mezzetta peperoncinis) and brightens all the ingredients effortlessly. The bite you get from the peperoncinis is the boost of flavor every salad should have. And the cherry on top is that it lends itself to being made ahead of time, that extra 30 minutes for the bread cubes to soak up their olive oil peperoncini bath dressing is exactly what the salad calls for.

Whether you’re using the salad as a salute to summer or a hello to fall, it’s the perfect thing to serve to celebrate.

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