Tag Archives: pineapple

Pineapple Bars

Pineapple BarsThis has been the best summer I’ve had in years. I turned 31, spent a week on a sparsely-populated island off the coast of Maine with close friends (is it too early to start planning next year’s trip?), ended a four year stint as a nanny, and got to help my sister move much closer to me. I’m not ready for this incredible season to end. When I was having a rough time earlier this year, a wise friend of mine said “Remember, summer is coming. Magic happens in the summer.” I’m not sure that this is exactly what he meant, but for me, this summer has indeed been magical. Thank goodness there are technically three weeks left.

But it’s September, and that means fall is coming and bringing pumpkin everything with it. Pumpkin is already all over my social media, on the blogs I read, and popping up at coffee shops in my neighborhood. It seems everyone in America is ready for everything they eat and drink to be burnt orange and cinnamon-scented. Except for me, apparently.

Pineapple BarsDon’t get me wrong, I am all about pumpkin, but I’m not exactly craving all the flavors of fall right this minute. It’s 80 degrees out. All of my sweaters are in a box under my bed. I don’t need a scarf or a pair of boots, nor do I want any warm beverages. Not yet. I’m still firmly in summer-mode…at least for another week or so.

So today, I’m leaving my cans of pumpkin in the cabinet and enjoying the unofficial last weekend of summer with these Pineapple Bars: a dreamy pineapple filling baked over a shortbread crust, sliced into bars and dusted with confectioner’s sugar!

Pineapple BarsThis recipe is a tropical adaptation of the Lemon Bars I posted while on vacation a few weeks ago. Instead of the usual citrus, they’re made with unsweetened pineapple juice and crushed pineapple. These bars quicker to make than those that inspired them. Once the four-ingredient shortbread crust goes into the oven to set, the filling comes together in just a few minutes. Where Lemon Bars (and citrus desserts in general) involve lots of tedious zesting and juicing, the filling for these Pineapple Bars just involves whisking ingredients together. Pour the filling over the crust and bake it for 40 minutes, until it’s no longer jiggly. Then pop them into the fridge for a few hours before slicing them up. All that’s left to do is sift some confectioner’s sugar over the tops!

Pineapple Bars are cold, sweet, and tangy–the perfect treat to salute the end of this fantastic summer! Make a batch this Labor Day weekend.

Pineapple BarsAre you ready for fall?

Pineapple Bars
makes one 8-inch pan, about 16 bars

Shortbread Crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cubed

Filling:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 tablespoons half-and-half (or heavy cream)
1/2 cup no-sugar-added pineapple juice
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup canned crushed pineapple, drained

For Topping:
1/4-1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving overhang at the edges. Grease foil with butter. Set aside.

Make the shortbread crust. In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, and salt. Using a pastry blender or two forks, cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Mixture will be very dry and crumbly. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and use clean fingertips to press it into one even layer on the bottom of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a rack while you prepare the filling.

Place sugar in a large mixing bowl. Whisk in eggs and egg yolk one at a time, mixing completely after each addition. Whisk in melted butter, followed by half-and-half (or heavy cream), pineapple juice, and vanilla. Mix in all-purpose flour and salt, followed by crushed pineapple. Mixture will be thin. Pour filling over the shortbread crust. Bake for 40-45 minutes, tenting with foil at the 10 minute mark. Let cool completely on a rack before chilling for at least four hours.

Set a cooling rack over a piece of wax paper. Use the foil overhang to remove bars from the pan to a cutting board. Peel foil from the edges. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice bars. Set bars on prepared rack. Sift confectioner’s sugar over the tops of the bars.

Serve bars immediately or refrigerate for up to three days.

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Pineapple Salsa Fresca

Nine years ago today, I moved to New York. I was 22 years old, fresh out of college, and convinced that as soon as I got to my first Manhattan apartment, my life would really begin. I was starting film school, and my biggest dream was to be the first woman to win the Oscar for Best Director. Clearly, that did not happen (shout out to Kathryn Bigelow!), but a lot of other things did.

I’m pretty sure New York City is the only place in the world where people celebrate the anniversary of their moving date. It’s hard to live anywhere, but New York is a special case. The crowds, the noise, the cost of living, the constant need to compete professionally–nothing is easy here. In the last nine years, I have:

  • lived in eight apartments.
  • moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Then back to Manhattan. Then back to Brooklyn.
  • had twelve jobs in five different fields.
  • realized that I enjoy cooking far more than I ever enjoyed film production.
  • learned to bake in the tiniest kitchen ever.
  • abandoned my filmmaking dreams in the name of butter and sugar.
  • met some of the most incredible people on earth.
  • fallen in love. And fallen out of love.
  • had really high highs and horrifically low lows.
  • survived.

 The life I have is not what I envisioned nine years ago (or anything close to it), but today, I am living the life I want. I live in a beautiful apartment in a safe neighborhood with good people. I work as a personal chef for a very nice family. I have an unbelievable support system, without whom I’m not sure I would have accomplished anything. I have a lot of goodness, generosity, spontaneity, and love in my life. Every once in a while, I dream of moving somewhere else–Austin, Chicago, Maine–but then I realize that moving would mean leaving everything I’ve accomplished in New York, all the people I’ve met, and all of the opportunities I might have here in the future. And so, I stay. New York, I’m not done with you yet.

But as they say, “You can take the girl out of Texas, but you can’t take the Texas out of the girl.” As much as I couldn’t wait to move out of Fort Worth nine years ago, growing up in Texas has molded my identity in ways I will never be able to shake. My whole family lives there (until E3 moves to Boston next week!), as do most of my closest friends, so as much as I love New York, a lot of my heart is in the Lone Star State.

Another thing I’ll never be able to shake? My deep, abiding love of Tex-Mex. It’s one thing New York can’t ever seem to do right–I get my fix by making homemade versions of my favorite dishes. My recipe index already has my red and green salsas and my favorite guacamole, in addition to a fantastic posole and an easy southwestern chicken soup. I have big plans to put a couple of enchilada recipes on here when the weather cools down a little, but it’s hot today, so I’m keeping it simple with this Pineapple Salsa Fresca.

   This recipe is a sweeter, tangier twist on traditional pico de gallo. Fresh pineapple is used instead of tomatoes! Combined with red onion, a serrano pepper, a little garlic, chopped cilantro, lime juice, and salt, it’s a match made in heaven! Everything comes together on the cutting board in about ten minutes–no need for a food processor. Let it sit at room temperature for an hour to let the flavors meld a bit, and then dig in with your favorite tortilla chips!

Pineapple Salsa Fresca is a magical combination of flavors: sweet, tangy, spicy, and a little salty. The chunky, slightly crunchy texture is perfect with crispy tortilla chips! This salsa would also be great with grilled fish or shrimp. Oooh! Or pork tacos!

Yes. Even after nine years in New York, I’m definitely still Texan at heart.

 Pineapple Salsa Fresca
makes about 3 cups

3 cups fresh pineapple (about 1 pound), 1/2-inch dice
1/2 small red onion, 1/4-inch dice
1/2-1 serrano pepper,* minced, seeded (optional)
1 small clove of garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
juice of one lime
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
tortilla chips, for serving

Combine pineapple, onion, serrano, garlic, cilantro, lime, and salt in a medium-large mixing bowl. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to toss all ingredients together. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let salsa sit at room temperature for one hour so the flavors can meld. Serve with tortilla chips.

Leftover salsa will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Note:

Jalapeño may be used instead of serrano pepper. You may want two jalapeños, depending on your spice preferences.

Pineapple Salsa Fresca

Tropical Cashew Granola

 It’s officially summer, and I can’t wait to get to the beach. I’m only four weeks away from a trip to Maine with a bunch of friends–it can’t get here soon enough! It’s super woodsy and we definitely won’t see any palm trees, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be eating tons of tropical fruit while we’re up there.

How, you may ask, will we have tropical fruit in the wilds of Maine? In the form of my new favorite granola! 
Yes, I am that person who packs homemade granola into her luggage. And why wouldn’t I? It’s full of whole grains, nuts, and fruit, so it’s super satisfying. It’s also refined sugar-free, gluten free, and vegan, so this is one recipe that will fit all my friends’ various dietary needs.

Between easy breakfasts and snacks, I know we will go through the full two-quart batch in no time. I mean, who can resist this Tropical Cashew Granola?! It’s loaded with dried mango and pineapple, toasted coconut, and cashews–perfect for any day at the beach. 
Normally, I am not a huge fan of dried fruit (especially in granola), but I make exceptions for dried mango and pineapple. I’ll eat a whole six-ounce bag in a day! The sweet mango, tangy pineapple, and toasted coconut work incredibly well with the crunchy oats and cashews. A moderate amount of sweetener and a full teaspoon of salt keep it all just sweet enough to enjoy with your favorite yogurt and fresh fruit. I can’t get enough. 

Having made a lot of granola in the last few years, I can tell you that the homemade stuff is a snap to put together and infinitely better than any boxed variety. When you make something from scratch, you can control the ingredients and customize it to your taste.

For instance, I love my Maple Pecan Granola (which I used as the base for this recipe), but sometimes I want my granola to have more clusters than that recipe allows. So, I took the basic formula and swapped half the maple syrup for brown rice syrup. It’s super thick and allows the oats and cashews to cluster a bit without adding excessive amounts sweetener. And since brown rice syrup has a mild flavor, the maple is still front and center!

Tropical Cashew Granola is like summer in a bowl! Don’t be surprised if the combination of mango, pineapple, coconut, and buttery cashews has you packing a jar for your vacation, too! 

  Looking for more granola? Check out my Peanut Butter Granola!

Tropical Cashew Granola
makes about two quarts

1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup brown rice syrup*
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 cups old-fashioned oats
2 cups raw unsalted cashews, chopped
1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
6 ounces unsweetened dried mango, chopped into bite-size pieces
6 ounces unsweetened dried pineapple, chopped into bite-size pieces

Preheat oven to 300F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, and salt. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in oats, cashews, and coconut. Spread mixture on prepared pan. Bake 40 minutes, stirring at the 15 and 30 minute marks to prevent burning.

When granola is done baking, let cool five minutes before stirring in dried mango and pineapple pieces. Let granola cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three weeks.

Note:

Brown rice syrup can be found near the honey and syrups at most well-stocked grocery stores, or on Amazon. If you cannot find it or do not wish to use it, you may use an equal volume of mild honey or maple syrup. Your granola will not have many clusters, but it will still be delicious.

Hummingbird Muffins

 Have you ever had Hummingbird Cake? If you aren’t from the south, there’s a good chance you haven’t. It’s a southern specialty, first published in Southern Living magazine in 1978 (and still their most requested recipe). It’s like carrot cake, but decidedly tropical–a spice cake full of banana, pineapple, coconut, and pecans, topped with cream cheese frosting. Oh, is it ever good. And with all that tropical fruit, it’s perfect for summer.

Warning: once you try Hummingbird Cake, you’ll want it all the time. Even for breakfast.

And really, why not?! I mean, there’s fruit in there. And nuts–hello, protein! But there’s also a lot of sugar, and frosting simply is not breakfast food…unless you’re having cinnamon rolls ☺️ And so, to satisfy my early-morning need for tropical spice cake, I took all the flavors of the southern classic and put them in a batch of muffins. And I swapped the frosting for a pecan streusel, just to make them appropriate for scarfing down at 7am.

The base for these Hummingbird Muffins is a riff on my favorite banana bread. I got the idea to soup-up the batter from my Insta-friend and fellow blogger, Megan. She took her favorite vegan banana muffins and made them into Hummingbird Cupcakes! Her idea is absolute genius, and when I was developing this recipe, I just had to steal it 😊 

 

The muffin base is soft and moist, a little nutty from the addition of white whole wheat flour, and full of cinnamon and banana flavors. It’s a simple no-mixer recipe that I absolutely swear by. Here, the batter is filled with crushed pineapple, sweetened shredded coconut, and chopped pecans before being spooned into muffin cups, topped with an easy pecan streusel, and baked until domed and golden brown.

Hummingbird Muffins are the best way to have cake for breakfast. Full of whole grain, cinnamon, fruit, and nuts, they’re healthy enough to grab for a quick breakfast, and delicious enough to keep you coming back for seconds. 

 Hummingbird Muffins
makes 14-16 standard muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour*
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup coconut oil,* melted
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup milk of choice*
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup canned crushed pineapple in juice (not drained)
2/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
2/3 cup pecans, chopped (optional)

Streusel:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold

Preheat oven to 425F. Grease a standard muffin pan or line with muffin liners.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, white whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together melted coconut oil, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Add eggs one at a time, combining completely after each addition. Whisk in vanilla, followed by mashed bananas, crushed pineapple, and milk.

Add dry ingredients to wet, and use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir them together–no more than 20 strokes. Add coconut and pecans, and stir five additional strokes. Fill each muffin cup all the way to the top.

Make the streusel. In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to stir together flour, light brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon, and salt. Use a pastry blender (or two forks) to cut cold butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Place about 1 tablespoon of streusel on top of each filled muffin cup.

Tap full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Place full pan in the oven. Bake for five minutes. Without opening the oven door, turn the oven temperature down to 375F and bake an additional 17-18 minutes. Tent with foil if anything starts to brown too quickly. Muffins are ready when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let muffins cool in pan for at least five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Pan should return to room temperature before you bake any remaining batter.

Serve muffins immediately, or keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.

Notes:
1. White whole wheat flour may be replaced with an equal volume of whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour.
2. Melted coconut oil may be replaced with an equal volume of neutral-flavored oil, such as canola or vegetable.
3. I use whole milk, but 1% or 2% milk will also work. I do not recommend skim or fat free cow’s milk. You may also use a non-dairy milk.