Roasted Pear Fool Crunch

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The countdown to Christmas is on. How about a make ahead dessert to take the pressure off your holiday entertaining? My recipe for Roasted Pear Fool Crunch can be made a day in advance and checks off all the boxes for festive, easy and delicious. This is my second entry in the USA Pears Blogger Recipe Challenge Baking/Desserts category.

Dip your spoon into this creamy, crunchy, spicy and juicy dessert. The caramelized pears add a fresh intense sweetness that “pears perfectly” with the warm spices of the gingersnaps and slight bitterness of the orange marmalade. The addition of the mascarpone cheese helps to stabilize the cream, so the dessert can be made a day in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Garnish just before serving.

Roasted Pear Fool Crunch

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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3 ripe USA pears

2 tablespoons melted butter

2 tablespoons honey

½ cup heavy cream

¼ cup mascarpone cheese

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

2 tablespoons orange marmalade

½ cup crumbled ginger snap cookies

¼ cup pomegranate seeds

Heat oven 400F. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with non-stick cooking spray. Core, peel and dice 2 pears. Toss pears with butter and honey, spread over prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until pears are caramelized; cool. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on low speed, combine heavy cream, mascarpone, powdered sugar and marmalade until blended. Increase mixer speed and beat to just stiff peaks. Fold in cooled pear mixture. Layer half the pear fool mixture over the bottom of 4 serving glasses. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the crumbled cookies for garnish. Sprinkle the remaining cookies evenly over the pear fool. Sprinkle with half the pomegranate seeds. Dollop remaining pear fool on top. Sprinkle evenly with remaining cookies and pomegranate seeds. Thinly slice the remaining pear. Garnish each serving with a fan of pear slices.

For more information and delicious recipes check out the website www.usapears.org and their social media platforms @usapears

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Festive Pear Crostini

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I am taking part in the “USA Pears Blogger Recipe Challenge”. This is my first entry into the appetizer category.

It’s holiday time and that means partying with USA Pears. At their peak of freshness right now, pears are a beautiful versatile fruit that need little embellishment. Sliced on a cheeseboard or tossed into a salad pears are an easy addition to every festive table. Come on now. They come in both red and green Christmas colors! If that doesn’t just get you excited about cooking with USA Pears during the holidays then the flavor will.

Here is a crowd pleasing appetizer recipe for holiday entertaining. With a few flavorful ingredients you will WOW your guests with this delicious pear bite. The sweetness of the pears complements the nutty cheese and balances out that little pop of pomegranate.

Roasted Pear Crostini with Manchego & Pomegranate

  • Servings: 8 to 10
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 bunch fresh thyme

2 USA Pears, (1 red like Anjou and 1 green like Bartlett), cored, halved, and cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 large baguette, cut on an angle into ½-inch slices (I like a whole grain loaf)

 4 tablespoons butter, divided

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

½ cup shredded mild Spanish Manchego cheese

Freshly ground black pepper, optional

¼ cup fresh pomegranate seeds


Heat oven 375F. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil. Lightly coat with cooking spray. Spread several thyme sprigs over bottom of one baking sheet. Fan pear slices over top of thyme. Using two tablespoons of butter, spread butter lightly over 1 side of each bread slice and place butter-side-up on other baking sheet. Melt remaining butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat until foaming subsides. Add sugar and swirl until melted and starting to brown. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.  Spoon mixture evenly over sliced pears. Bake pears and bread for 10 minutes. Arrange baked pears on top of crostini. Sprinkle each with some cheese. Return crostini to oven and bake for 5 to 6 minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with pepper, if desired and top with pomegranate seeds and fresh thyme leaves. Serves 8 to 10.

For more information and delicious recipes check out the website www.usapears.org and their social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram) @usapears

Good Grief Going Old School

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Yesterday, I attended a family reunion. It was a Sicilian love fest! I felt so fortunate to grow up in a neighborhood where all my aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents lived within blocks of each other. Stuck like glue everyone gathered including those who have gone before us thanks to old home movies which were shared on a big screen. 

The more remarkable story has to do with this lady who was in attendance. She is 89 years old. Her name is Miss Robbina. She is not a blood relative, but totally part of our family. Miss Robbina was my 6th grade teacher at McKinley School in Westfield, NJ. Over the years, she taught many of my cousins, siblings and nephews, as well. She raised us up. She engaged with our parents. They were a team of high expectations and a force to be reckoned with if:

  1. We were not doing our homework
  2. Misbehaving in class
  3. Not living up to our potential
  4. Late to class
  5. the list goes on…

As much as we might try to “divide and conquer” the adults they were always in control because they supported each other.  The teachers back then were extensions of our families. Bring back the good old days in our schools. 

Inspired by those I love most here is a family friendly recipe that was recently chosen as a winner in the Explore Cuisine recipe contest. With roasted cauliflower, salty capers and sweet golden raisins it’s an old school rustic recipe updated with red lentil penne.

Skillet Roasted Sicilian Cauliflower Red Lentil Penne

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 (8 oz) box Explore Cuisine Organic Red Lentil Penne

½ large head of cauliflower, sliced into 3/4-inch planks

2 tablespoons olive oil

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

¼ cup golden raisins

2 tablespoons small capers, rinsed, drained

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Cook penne according to package directions reserving ½ cup of pasta cooking liquid. Separate sliced cauliflower into small florets. Drizzle olive oil over bottom of large unheated skillet. Add cauliflower in a single layer. Sprinkle with pepper flakes. Cover skillet and cook cauliflower over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until nicely browned. Remove cover, stir cauliflower. Add golden raisins, capers, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add cooked pasta, reserved pasta water and parsley; toss well. Serve topped with pine nuts and parmesan.