Cuban Guava Pastries

This week my school had a “Cooking For Change” event, where students can make an international dish and bring samples to share. Anyone can come eat samples of the dishes and vote on their favorites with coins, that are donated to Syrian refugees. My friend Rachel and I made Cuban guava pastries (pastelitos de guayaba). I’ve never had guava before so it was exciting to make something so new and exotic. In case you also have never tried guava, it is a tropical fruit that tastes like a mix of melon and strawberry!

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Rachel had made these before so she taught me how and it turned out to be very simple. Since the stores around us don’t sell guava paste, we had to make a quick trip to Giant for our supplies: guava paste, cream cheese, and puff pastry. We used a toaster oven to bake them (in several batches), which was very convenient.

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These bite-sized pastries are easy to eat and don’t create a mess. They are SO delicious, especially when they are eaten warm and fresh out of the oven. The combination of cream cheese and guava jelly melded into each other, surrounded by flaky, buttery puff pastry is…unparalleled. Another version of this dessert is using brie and jelly instead of cream cheese and guava paste, which also tastes amazing.

CUBAN GUAVA PASTRIES
(makes 30)

Ingredients
2 puff pastry sheets
1 can guava paste (or jelly)
4 oz cream cheese
1 egg

Directions

Using a rolling pin, roll out puff pastry sheets so they are thinner. (We used a glass bottle instead of a rolling pin.)

IMG_0379Cut squares of guava paste and arrange onto 1 puff pastry sheet.

Cut similar-sized squares of cream cheese and place on top of guava paste.

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Beat an egg. Brush egg in the shape of a grid onto puff pastry sheet. This is used to glue the 2 puff pastry sheets together.

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Cover with the other puff pastry sheet.

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Using a knife, cut individual squares and press 2 sheets together. Use a fork to make crimps on each side.

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Brush tops with egg wash. Bake in oven at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes. If using a toaster oven, you may need several batches.

One Serving Apple Crumble

Cooking and baking in suite 611 is going to be brought to a whole new level…I bought ramekins and toaster oven supplies! Toaster ovens can do lots of things but they can’t be fully taken advantage of without the proper equipment. I ordered a package of supplies – a 6 muffin tin, a baking sheet, and a tray that all fit in the toaster oven.

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Now let’s talk about apples. Apples are no doubt the most popular fruit of Autumn. After all, it is the season for apple picking, apple pies, and caramel apples. This fresh, crisp fruit has countless health benefits. They contain lots of fiber, Vitamins A and C, and pectin. Apples keep you full for a long time with few calories, are good for your immune system, and the pectin helps reduce cholesterol levels.

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A while ago, I baked apple crisps served in an apple (similar to Easy Individual Peach Crumble) since I didn’t have any baking dishes back then. I made it at night so the pictures did not turn out so great, but I’ll post one so you can get an idea.

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They turned out SO delicious and I’ve been meaning to recreate it but haven’t had the chance. When my ramekins arrived the other day, I thought it would be perfect to make an easy fruit crumble so I chopped up some apples and added some oats and put it in the toaster oven for several minutes.

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Apple crumble is a perfect way to enjoy a warm, healthy fruit dessert during these chillier days of Fall. We’ve all heard the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” maybe one too many times but it still holds true so I’m going to be on the search for many more recipes I can use apples in. 😀

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ONE SERVING APPLE CRUMBLE

Ingredients

Crumble Topping
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Apple Filling
1 medium apple, diced in 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

Combine all the crumble ingredients until they are mixed well.

In a ramekin, microwave diced apples and butter for one minute to soften apples.

Add sugar and cinnamon, stirring to coat evenly. Sprinkle with crumble topping and put in the toaster oven at 300 degrees F for 5 minutes or until the top is golden brown. (You can also microwave it for 2 minutes).

Banana Snack Burrito

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To be honest, I haven’t been cooking meals that often in our kitchen lately. It really does take up a lot of time – from preparing, to cooking, to eating, and then cleaning up. There’s no time for that in between classes, meetings, and studying! However, buying every meal can be tiring so I usually make my own in-between-meal snacks. Usually it’s as simple as just an apple but I do have my fancy days that bring the culinary artist out of me.

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Take these banana snack burritos. Peanut butter. Nutella. Banana. 3 of my favorite ingredients all melded together in a simple burrito. I can only eat half of one since they’re really filling and then I usually leave the other half for one of my suitemates. It only takes 7 minutes to prepare and there is no mess afterwards!

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As much as I love our Chipotle that’s down the block, I’d say these burritos come pretty close 😀

Ingredients
1 wholewheat flatbread
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup Nutella
1 banana

Directions

Spread peanut butter on center of flatbread.

Spread Nutella on top of peanut butter.

Place banana slices on top, evenly.

Fold flatbread like a burrito and cut in half.

Frozen Chocolate-Covered Bananas

Some days, in between meals, I am in desperate need of a little snack before I run off to my next class. I’ve found that bananas are a college student’s best friend when in a hurry. They give you energy (potassium!), they are mess-free, and you can eat them with as little as 3 (humongous) bites.

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Unfortunately, bananas are not the most interesting fruit. They can get boring. To mix it up, sometimes I add some excitement by eating bananas with peanut butter. One day, I got the idea of a fancier banana that brings this fruit to a whole new level…frozen-chocolate covered bananas! I thought it would be a simple, easy-to-make treat since all it took were 3 ingredients…

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Problem 1: I did not have any popsicle sticks for the bananas. I didn’t even know where I could buy popsicle sticks around campus! So, I used spare wooden chopsticks that we use for sushi!

Problem 2: The slow-cooker crockpot I brought from home that I was going to use as a chocolate melter wasn’t working. I took a chance with the microwave but was skeptical since I’ve never successfully melted chocolate with a microwave. This time I microwaved the chocolate chips with 20 second intervals and stirred in between with a chopstick and it worked out nicely!

Problem 3: I thought it would be difficult to dip the bananas in a bowl so I heated the chocolate up in a mug for easier dipping!

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And the best part of this yummy snack? They’re covered with chopped almonds! I was SO delighted when I found out the school grocery store (which has been re-done over the summer to look like a miniature version of Whole Foods) has unsalted mixed nuts. Over the summer, I had become heavily dependent on Costco’s deluxe unsalted mixed nuts for snacking and felt devastated that I wouldn’t have them at school. I immediately bought a whole bag of nuts as soon as I found out we had them!

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FROZEN CHOCOLATE-COVERED BANANAS
makes 4

Ingredients
2 bananas
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup almonds (or other nuts), crushed
4 popsicle sticks (or wooden chopsticks)

Directions

Peel bananas completely and cut in half.

Put a popsicle stick through each banana half. Freeze for 1-2 hours.

Melt chocolate using a chocolate-melter. If using a microwave, microwave for 15-20 second intervals, and stir chocolate in between so you don’t overheat it. For convenience, heat it up in a cup or mug.

Take bananas out of freezer and dip in the chocolate and then the crushed nuts. Make sure to cover with nuts immediately after dipping because the chocolate freezes quickly.

Place bananas back in freezer for 1 hour and then enjoy!

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Summer Berry Trifle

My summer officially comes to an end in 12 hours, when I board the plane back to school. Three and a half months full of cooking, working, reading, and seeing friends could not have gone by faster. I am super excited to return to school and see all my friends, but at the same time it’s tough to let go of the carefree days of warm weather and no stress. So to conclude this summer with a bang, I am posting a special treat…a summer berry trifle!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Trifles are breathtaking – they look beautiful in their elegant glass containers, standing proudly with a multitude of layers. Aesthetically, these layers of fruit, cream, and cake all blend together amazingly (not to mention the fusion tastes even better). You can make out the different layers but they meld into each other so it’s hard to tell where a layer starts and ends. Basically, a trifle is a bunch of blurred lines (summer song reference anyone?)

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Assembling the trifle is so much fun because you get to see how 3 simple ingredients slowly build up into a gorgeous masterpiece. I had leftover ingredients from the trifle so I made mini ones! They are so cute and would definitely be an awesome treat if you’re only serving several people.

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The task of making my own trifle seemed daunting, but it is actually quite simple. There are 3 parts – the cake, cream, and fruit. For the cake I used store-bought pound cake. The cream was a heavenly mixture of homemade whipped cream and pudding. For the fruit, I used freshly chopped strawberries and blueberries. Yum!

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So that’s all for my summer recipes! Now it is time to head back to college and see if I can make magic in a college dorm kitchen. My mom and I just shipped 2 boxes full of cooking utensils to my dorm so soon enough, we’ll find out if I can make this year’s college dining experience not so average. 😉

SUMMER BERRY TRIFLE

Ingredients
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 package of instant vanilla pudding
3 cups milk
1 pound cake (9 in.), cut into cubes
3 cups strawberries, cut in halves
2 cups blueberries

Directions

Use an electric mixer to beat heavy cream until stiff peaks are about to form. Beat in vanilla and sugar until stiff peaks form.

Prepare pudding with milk according to instructions. Fold in half of pudding mixture into whipped cream until blended. Set aside.

In a trifle bowl, layer cubes of pound cake, cream mixture, and berries. Repeat layers.

Refrigerate for 4 hours before serving.

Rustic Fruit Tart (Galette)

Can you believe it is already the end of August? I feel like I just returned home and now I am already packing my suitcases again. Summer is quickly coming to an end and I still have so many recipes on my “To make” list!

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I made this tart for a dinner at a family friend, Linda’s house last Friday. Since I had to work that day, I wasn’t sure if I would have enough time to make it. So the night before, I made the dough for the crust and chopped up the fruits.

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The next day, I rushed back home after work and went straight for the refrigerator so I could get my dough. I rolled it out very thin and arranged the fruits in a pretty pattern.

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The most challenging step (which really is not that challenging) was folding the crust onto the fruits without breaking it. Thankfully, my mom was there to assist with her expert dumpling folding skills! After that, I brushed the crust with egg and sprinkled sugar on it.

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Just 30 minutes of oven-time later, I had a spectacular galette! Just in time for the dinner!

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This beautiful fruit tart with a free-form crust is an iconic summer dessert. It is technically called a galette, which is a French dessert. It is literally overflowing with fresh nectarines, strawberries, and blueberries. The best part was how easy it was to make. The ingredients are simple and there are not many steps.

RUSTIC FRUIT TART (GALETTE)

Ingredients

Filling
2 nectarines, sliced
2 cups strawberries, sliced
3/4 cup blueberries
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled and cubed
1/4 cup ice water
1 egg (for egg wash)
additional sugar for sprinkling

Directions

Filling: Mix fruits together in a medium bowl. Coat well with sugar and vanilla. Set aside and allow mixture to soak.

Crust: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add in the cubes of butter and mix until roughly blended.
Add ice water and stir with a fork until mixture becomes dough-like. Knead dough so it comes together. Shape into a ball and flatten. Wrap with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a thin 12-inch circle. Transfer to baking sheet.

Arrange fruits onto center of the dough, leaving a 2-inch border on the outside. Fold the edges of the dough over the fruit carefully, making sure not to break it.

Brush crust with beaten egg and sprinkle additional sugar on it. Bake for 25-35 minutes (or until crust is golden brown).

Remove from oven and serve warm or at room temperature!

adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction

Easy Individual Peach Crumble

Here’s a spectacular dessert that is genius in every way possible. Are you ready? It’s a peach crumble served in a peach! No more messy baking dishes to clean up. The peach crumble is its very own dish.

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My mom and I learned how to make this from a cooking class in Boston for Gourmet cooking! We also made ratatouille (SO good), Thai steamed mussels, and prosciutto wrapped lemon basil chicken breast stuffed with goat cheese. Definitely some fancy dishes.

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The peach crumble is very simple to make and you end up with an extremely tasty dessert. The warm peach’s sweet juices soak into the crumble for a chewy texture, the cinnamon flavor dances on your tongue, and a bite of caramel tops it all off. In the original recipe, caramel is drizzled on to the peaches but I cheated by putting caramel chips on top to save time.

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For optimal results, use BIG, ripe peaches. We bought these huge, round, soft, juicy peaches that remind me of the children’s book James and the Giant Peach. Every bite will be deliciously sweet and juicy.

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EASY PERSONAL PEACH CRUMBLE
serves 4

Ingredients
2 peaches
1/2 stick of butter, softened
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice (optional)
1/4 cup sugar
Caramel sauce/chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut peaches in half and remove pits. You may want to use a spoon to scoop out a bigger hole for the oats. Lay peaches on a baking sheet, skin side down, and bake for 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine butter, oats, flour, cinnamon, allspice, and sugar. Use hands to combine the mixture until well mixed.

Divide the mixture into the 4 peaches. If using caramel chips, put them on top and bake for another 10 minutes, until peaches are soft and oat mixture is browned.

Serve warm and enjoy 😀