I wanted to share with you some new recipes that have proved themselves worthy—so worthy, in fact, it’s all we want to eat. The temperatures have turned pretty chilly since that snowfall last weekend, so soup is always on our weekly menus, but first comes dessert. Always.
Joe and I love Food Network’s Magazine and while I was in Oklahoma the much-anticipated “Thanksgiving Issue” arrived. Normally I’m the one that scans its pages for recipes we’ll eventually test, but this time something caught Joe’s eye. “I found something we really need to try,” he said on the phone after our conversation had been filled with talk of family, funeral and baby shower. “Okay. What is it?” “A crisp.”
And this is where I paused, because unlike my sweets-lovin’ husband, I don’t normally sway towards fruit desserts. My childhood was filled with cakes and cookies, vanilla and chocolate abounded! Brownies? You bet. Ice Cream? The more the merrier. Fruit desserts always seemed so grown-up to me. Something you eat when you’re old and pretending to be healthy. (That’s my reasoning, at least.) This opinion strayed ever so slightly when my aunt started making pies, but as delicious as they are I always counted myself among the cake and brownie lovers of the world first.
But, when we were thinking of a fall-ish dessert to try this week Joe quickly reminded me of the crisp. And then something magical happened. I. freakin’. loved. it.
The combination of the tart cranberries, juicy pears and the crumbly topping was over the top. Why? Why didn’t I realize how delicious fruit desserts could be?! To think of all the time I’ve wasted!
After almost a week (a miracle, I tell you), we have one piece left…so I knew I had to document this moment and share the recipe with you. Don’t be like me. Give fruit a chance.
Cranberry Pear Crisp
1 lb. cranberries (thawed if frozen)
1 c. dried cranberries
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 firm pears (such as Bosc), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of ground allspice
1 c. plus 2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1 c. pecans, chopped
1/4 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the fresh and dried cranberries in a large bowl. Add 1 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons water and the vanilla and toss to coat. Lightly smash with a potato masher or fork to burst some of the cranberries. Add the pears, cinnamon, allspice and 2 tablespoons flour and toss to coat. Transfer to a 3-quart baking dish.
Make the topping: Mix the remaining 1 cup flour, the pecans, oats, the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the salt in a medium bowl, then stir in the melted butter. Use your fingers to pinch the topping into small clumps and sprinkle it over the fruit.
Bake until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is golden brown, about 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
But wait! There’s more!
I also have to share our newest favorite soup. I’ve always made my dad’s tomato soup, but—again—Food Network Magazine had Barefoot Contessa’s Easy Tomato Soup and I was intrigued. Like most of her recipes I’ve made, it was incredible. The only difference I made was upon noticing the final product was a bit too “onion-y” for us, I decided to puree it…completely forgetting there was pasta in the soup. But, I actually loved the texture of bits of pasta and onion. It had a nice bite and made the soup thicker. I think I’ll make it that way from now on. No photos for this (we ate it too fast), but I highly recommend it for these cold nights!
Easy Tomato Soup
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust
3 Tbs. olive oil
3 c. yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)
1 Tbs. minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 c. vegetable stock (I used beef-flavored veggie stock for some depth)
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
Large pinch of saffron threads (I used a pinch of paprika instead)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 c. orzo
1/2 c. heavy cream
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in the stock, tomatoes, saffron (paprika), 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, fill a medium pot with water, add 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and cook for 7 minutes. (It will finish cooking in the soup.) Drain the orzo and add it to the soup. Stir in the cream, return the soup to a simmer and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring frequently.
Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches! Or in a big mug in front of the TV! Whatever you do, just start eating.