Category Archives: Fruit

Fabulous Fruit Tart

Heart Fruit Tart

This Fabulous Fruit Tart looks and tastes anything but simple, yet it is so easy to make that it has become my new go-to dessert when company is coming.

If you’re like me, the thought of pie crust that doesn’t come out of a package is daunting.  But this is the simplest crust I have ever made, and it has a yummy, buttery cookie flavor.  I got the crust recipe from

The filling is a light, sweet pastry cream like used in cream puffs, yet thanks to Thomas Joseph of Kitchen Conundrums on the Martha Stewart channel, I now know how simple it can be.  Below are my directions, but I recommend you watch his video:


  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  1. Stir together melted butter, sugar, and salt.  Add the flour and stir just until combined into a soft dough.
  2. Put the dough in a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the pan (I think fingers work best, but you could use a measuring cup).
  3. Cover the tart shell with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  4. Once chilled, use a fork to prick the bottom of the crust and bake at 350°F until golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.
    Tart Crust
  5. Cool completely and fill with cream before removing from the pan.


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Whisk sugar, cornstarch and salt in saucepan to be sure there are no lumps.
    Sugar & Cornstarch
  2. Whisk together milk and egg yolks in large measuring cup or pour-spout bowl.
    Whisk egg yolks and milk
  3. Add milk/egg mixture and butter to saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly.  Cook until it comes to a rolling boil and let cook 1 minute more.
    Cooking pastry cream
  4. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  5. Pour pastry cream into a sieve over a large bowl, scraping the sieve with a spatula.  (This just catches any little bits of egg that might have congealed.)
    Sieve 1  Sieve 2
  6. Cover with plastic wrap being sure to press it directly onto the surface of the cream to prevent a skin from forming as it cools.  Refrigerate at least two hours, and up to two days.
    Pastry Cream


  • Fresh fruit, sliced
  • Powdered sugar
  1. Whisk the chilled pastry cream and pour it into the baked tart crust, spreading it smoothly to the edges.
  2. Lay out fruit slices randomly or in a pattern.
  3. Dust with powdered sugar.
    Fruit Tarts for Peace

Baked Apple Roses

This is an impressive and beautiful dessert.  Yummy, too, especially when served warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream!

Does it qualify as a Simple Brunch Idea, though?  Well, technically it’s simple (as in, five ingredients and very few steps), but definitely not easy.  Especially the first time you try it.  I recommend that you watch the YouTube video before attempting it yourself.  Maybe you’ll see something in it that I missed.
Rose Shaped Apple Baked Dessert by Cooking with Manuela:

Here’s the way I made this recipe, as well as a few of the lessons I learned along the way.


2 red delicious apples
½ a lemon
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
Apricot preserves

Core the apples and slice into VERY thin slices.  (Lesson one:  the
thinner the slices, the easier to roll).
20151118_194832-1    20151118_194954-1

Put the apple slices in a bowl of water and add the juice of half a
lemon.  Microwave for about 3 minutes.  (Lesson two: be sure they are soft.  See the picture further down of what happens when they are not pre-cooked enough.)
20151118_194333-1   20151118_200419

On a floured surface, unfold the puff pastry and use a rolling pin to stretch it slightly.  Cut the sheet into six strips.


Spread a spoonful of the apricot preserves on a strip of the pastry.  (Lesson three: Don’t spend extra on high quality preserves.  The one I bought had big chunks of apricot, which makes for a delicious topping on toast, but didn’t spread well for this recipe, so I had to remove the chunks, wasting much of it.) 

Lay the apple slices over the top half of the dough, overlapping them.

Sprinkle generously with cinnamon and fold the bottom half of the dough up over the apple slices.


Okay, here’s the tricky part!!  Beginning at one end, roll the apple-filled pastry up being careful to keep the apples from slipping out.

Here’s what happens when your slices are too thick and not soft enough.  It simply won’t roll.

I put the remaining apple slices back into water and into the microwave for two more minutes and tried it again.  (Lesson four: practice makes perfect)  You can see the progression in the photo below.  The next two I rolled up (bottom row) were better, but still too stiff and thick.  For the ones in the top row, I used thinner slices that were also softer, and each one got better as I was practicing (left to right in picture).  So hopefully the next batch I do will all come out looking like my final rose.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes, checking carefully since ovens vary.

(Lesson five:  run a knife around the edge to loosen the entire apple rose before lifting it out of the pan.  The edge of the first one stuck to the pan, and the rose just unwrapped as I lifted it out — that’s why there are only four roses pictured on the plate.)


Please leave your comments, especially if you have tips on how to make this better or easier.


Jack-o-Lantern Fruit Cups


These fruit cups were a big hit at my Halloween brunch.  The
example I found online used oranges, but they seemed a bit too big with everything else I was serving, so I used Cuties.

First slice off the top of each Cutie.  Use a sharp edge spoon to
separate the flesh from the peel and  work your way around the fruit, going a little deeper each round.  Finally, the fruit will loosen and you can slide it out as a big ball.  Rinse them (and your hands–very sticky!) and set them on a towel to dry.


It might be easier with an orange than a Cutie, but carving the face was pretty tricky.  It only took one for me to decide to just draw the faces on with a Sharpie.  If I were doing a brunch for just a few
people, I’d probably go ahead and carve them, but for 20, it was just too much work.

Once your cups are ready, load them up with fruit.  I used
blackberries, raspberries and mango, but any fruit will do.

These can easily be prepared the day ahead.  Just cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Bacon Wrapped Pineapple Treats


Most anything wrapped in bacon would probably be a hit, but these Bacon Wrapped Pineapple Treats are AMAZING!

If at all possible, you will want to use fresh pineapple.  The convenience of canned pineapple just isn’t worth the difference in flavor and texture.  For those of you who’ve never cut up a pineapple
before, let me reassure you… it’s very easy.  I had never done it before either.

Cutting a pineapple:
1.  Slice off the top and discard.
2.  Slice off the bottom to create a flat surface and discard
3.  Stand the pineapple upright and slice down each side, cutting off the spikes and leaving only the yellow flesh.
4.  Now slice down each side and discard the core.
5.  Cut the slices into 1″ chunks.
That’s it.

To make the Bacon Wrapped Pineapple Treats:
Wrap each pineapple chunk in one-half slice of bacon, securing with a toothpick.  Place them side by side on a rack over a foil lined baking sheet.  (You can place them directly on the foil, but they cook more evenly and drain better on a rack.)


Top each treat with a pinch of brown sugar, and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or so, until the bacon is crispy and browned nicely.  Serve immediately.

Oh so yummy!!






Tequila Sunrise


Tequila Sunrise is a perfect cocktail to add to a
Tex Mex Brunch, and it’s so easy to make.


Tequila                                   Orange Juice
Grenadine syrup              Crushed ice
Fruit for garnish (optional)

First I sliced up some kiwi and
oranges, added some maraschino cherries, and skewered them with some tropical toothpicks.



In a large pitcher, I mixed 2 cups tequila and 4 cups orange juice.  Whether you mix per glass or in a larger container, just use twice as much orange juice as tequila.

Then I set out the pitcher, the skewers, ice and the grenadine and made a sign so people knew how to mix it themselves.


Tequila Sunrise Directions

NOTE:    Remember not everyone drinks alcohol, so have a separate pitcher with just orange juice to make Virgin Tequila Sunrises, but be sure to label these very clearly so everyone gets the drink they want.

Fresh Fruit Bouquet


I love when simple things are impressive.  So easy to make a fruit bouquet.  Just get a variety of fruit, slice or use cookie cutters to create a variety of shapes, put them on wooden skewers and poke into some type of base.

In this case, I used a V-shape decorating tool to cut a watermelon in half to create the base.

I used red and green grapes in various patterns on the skewers.20150411_081207

And I used flower shape and heart shape cookie cutters on slices of pineapple.

That’s it.  Truly simple.  And you can use Google images to find tons of ideas for designs.

Strawberry Icebox Cake

Strawberry topping of cake Icebox cakes are made from a variety of cookies and cream that, when refrigerated, meld into a cake-like texture. This cake is simply layers of graham crackers, whipped cream and strawberries.  A
drizzle of melted chocolate can increase the wow factor. 20141224_231218

The amount of ingredients depends on how tall you choose to build this dessert.  For a 9″x13″ cake pan, you’ll want to use 3 cups of whipping cream and 2 sleeves of graham crackers.  When stacking it 5Ingredients or 6 layers high, it takes about 4 cups whipping cream and 3 sleeves graham crackers.  A basket of strawberries is probably enough for the cake pan, but I used most of a double basket to build my tall cake.  The only other ingredients are a little powdered sugar and vanilla to make the cream sweet and some chocolate to melt and drizzle if you like.

The simplest way to core a strawberry while maintaining it’s shape is to insert a plastic straw from the point of the strawberry to the stem.  Then grasp the stem and pull to remove the core from the straw.

As you’re slicing the strawberries, select a couple of the prettiest ones to use as a garnish and save some bright end slices for the top layer.
Pretty strawberries

Using an electric mixer on high speed, whip 3 or 4 cups of heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form (keeps it’s shape).  Then add one-third to one-half cup powdered sugar and 1 teaspoon or so of vanilla and whip until combined.
Whipped Cream

Spread a small layer of whipped cream on the tray or bottom of pan to keep the graham crackers from sliding.  Then alternate layers of graham crackers, whipped cream and strawberries until they are as high as you like.
First layer    Graham Cracker on top

There are many ways to melt chocolate for drizzling, but by far the simplest way I know is using Candy Melts and disposable icing bags from Wilton (Amazon link at bottom of this page).Chocolate Melts

Just put as many or few disks as you like in an icing bag, microwave it 15 seconds at a time and massage the bag with your fingers until the chocolate is melted and smooth.  Then snip a tiny opening at the tip with a pair of scissors and squeeze the bag as you wave it back and forth above the cake.
Icing Bag    Icing the Cake

Refrigerate at least eight hours and prepare yourself for the oohs and ahs you’ll get from your guests.

TIP:  This cake is extremely hard to slice neatly the first day (but still yummy).  If you make it two days ahead and keep in the fridge, it will be much more cake-like and easier to slice.

Enjoy this along with many of the easy brunch recipes to come.

Printable recipe:  Strawberry Icebox Cake

Slow Cooker Applesauce

Applesauce final

Talk about simple AND impressive.  I love this easy brunch recipe.  It takes only five minutes of work and adds so much to oatmeal, pork chops, a Thanksgiving dinner, oh, oh! and ice cream!! OOoohoohooo!  Excuse me for a minute.

Okay, I’m back.  Yes, definitely tops ice cream well.

Most any type of apple can be used for applesauce.  I used Braeburn this time; Pink Lady last time.  Equally yummy.  Or you can try a mix of apples to find your perfect flavor combination.

And lookie, lookie!  I finally peeled an apple in one strip without it breaking!  Woo hoo!
Applesauce peel

Peel and core four apples and cut each apple into four pieces.

Put all ingredients in a slow cooker — apples, ¼ cup packed brown sugar (or 3 tablespoons granulated sugar), ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg, and ¼ cup water.  (You may want to add less sugar, but don’t ask me to.)
Applesauce ingredients  Applesauce combined ingredients

Cover slow cooker with lid and cook on high until tender, about an hour and a half.
Applesauce in crock pot

Use a potato masher or whisk for chunky applesauce or puree for a smoother texture.

Mmm MMM! Enjoy.

Applesauce final

For a print-friendly version:  Slow Cooker Applesauce Recipe


Pomegranate Juice


True confession:  I have a long history of a passive-aggressive relationship with fruit.  I get it with the best of intentions to eat it because I know it’s good for me.   I buy different types of fruit that I’ve never tried before in hopes of finding one I will actually enjoy.  But more often than not, it sits on my counter neglected to the point of having to be tossed onto the compost heap, leaving me feeling guilty and ashamed.  All I can say is it’s on a long list of things to discuss with a therapist.

So true to this pattern, I bought my first pomegranate a couple of weeks ago.  Day after day I would think about eating it.  It’s the thought that counts, right?  Today I realized that if I didn’t fix it soon, it would no longer be edible, so I got on the internet and watched several YouTube videos on how to deseed and juice a pomegranate. Then miraculously, I got myself into the kitchen and actually tried it myself.

OMG!!!!  So yummy.  So easy.  So quick.
How could I have waited so long to discover this wonderful fruit?!

To my great chagrin, the three produce departments I called today all told me that pomegranate season is over and they will not be carrying any more until the fall.   Boo hoo!  (and yes, I realize what a charmed life I have if this is my worst problem)   According to Wikipedia, pomegranate season is from September through February, so I’ll keep checking with other markets to hopefully find some pomegranates to use for my Valentine’s brunch in February.

I only took this one picture today of the glass of juice I made along with a few seeds I left to snack on. When I am able to get more pomegranates, I will take pictures and update this post to include my step-by-step process.  In the meantime, here’s one of the YouTube videos I found helpful:

Moral of the story:  Carpe frutus! Seize the fruit!

Enjoy this along with many of the easy brunch recipes to come.