Apricot-Mascarpone Tart

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_MG_4828If you are new to this blog, you may not know that we are pretty big stone fruit fans around here. Though I love the early-summer strawberries, my favorites are the endless peaches, plums, and apricots that show up in July for just a few short months. Though I feel like I have generally confined myself to desserts in the past, this summer, I'm excited to try using stone fruits in more inventive ways, such as making a peach salsa or adding them to a salad. I haven't seen apricots at the farmer's market yet, but these were at a local market and were surprisingly good. I think that next time I make this, I would make a couple of changes, including adding just a bit more lemon zest to both the mascarpone cream, and using this crust recipe instead of the one below -- I felt that you could taste the cornstarch a little too much, although that could also be solved by adding more flour and cutting the cornstarch. That said, I think that this still makes a lovely summer dessert, and since you only bake the crust, it's a great way to not have the oven on for too long, and to show off those lovely berries or apricots._MG_4823

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Apricot-Mascarpone Tart (adapted from Bon Appétit)

Crust 1 cup all purpose flour 1/4 cup cornstarch 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature 1/4 cup sugar 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/3 cup apricot preserves

Filling 1 8-ounce container mascarpone cheese, chilled 1/2 cup chilled whipping cream 1/3 cup powdered sugar 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

3-4 apricots, pitted and thinly sliced

To prepare:

For crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Whisk flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt in bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla in large bowl to blend. Add flour mixture and beat until large clumps form. Gather dough into ball; press over bottom and up sides of prepared tart pan. Freeze crust 15 minutes.

Bake crust 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Using back of spoon, press sides to raise until even with top edge of pan. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes longer. Spread preserves over bottom of crust. Bake 5 minutes. Cool on rack.

Meanwhile, prepare filling: Using electric mixer, beat mascarpone, cream, powdered sugar, lemon zest, and both extracts in large bowl until peaks form, about 2 minutes. Spread filling evenly in cooled crust. Chill until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

Arrange apricot slices in concentric circles atop filling and serve. Keeps well in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

Pineapple-Mango-Banana Smoothie with Spinach & Chia Seeds

_MG_4803Now that it is finally feeling like summer around here, I have been craving cool salads and smoothies for breakfast (of course, they would taste even better if I could drink them on my terrace, but alas, that will have to wait until I live somewhere besides New York. Or make a lot more money. One of the two.) I've gotten to be a big fan of adding greens to smoothies, as they add lots of nutritional value while not tasting like salad in a glass. This is my current favorite combination, and I added chia seeds in there for some protein, though they are completely optional if you don't like the taste. One of the other things I love about smoothies is the endless variation -- you could sub berries for the pineapple, or use 1/2 coconut or almond milk and 1/2 orange juice instead. Whatever you try, the results usually end up being pretty delicious._MG_4801

Also, in case you're wondering, the metal straws are from Amazon. I happen to always want to use straws for any kind of drink, so I love these -- eco-friendly and so much cuter than the boring old plastic straws. (Though I kind of hate myself for using metal straws AND a mason jar. So twee. And yet, I still love it.)_MG_4802

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Pineapple-Mango-Banana Smoothie with Spinach & Chia Seeds (serves 2)

3/4 cup diced frozen mango

3/4 cup diced frozen pineapple

1 banana, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup orange juice

1 1/2 cups fresh spinach

2 tablespoons chia seeds

Blend first five ingredients in a blender on high until smooth, about a minute. Add chia seeds and blend for about 10 seconds more, until mixed well. Serve immediately.

Mango, Banana, & Kale Smoothie

_MG_4118In the spirit of New Year's resolutions, I have been trying to up my intake of vegetables. A really easy (and relatively painless) way to do this is just to add some greens to a smoothie. This has become my go-to breakfast lately, and I think it's more filling than a mix of just fruit -- plus, you get lots of your vitamins for the day in before 9 am. Kind of a win-win situation, I would say. You can also substitute spinach or another leafy green for the kale if you prefer._MG_4122 Mango, Banana, & Kale Smoothie (serves 2)

1 cup fresh or frozen mango, cut into 1-inch pieces (if you use fresh, add a handful of ice)

1 banana, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/3 cup orange juice

1/3 cup almond milk

1 1/2 cups fresh kale, cut into small pieces.

Combine all ingredients in a blender and purée on high until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately, adding ice if necessary.