Pear-Stuffed French Toast

pear_stuffed_french_toast-sm-SQButtery Comice pears are generally not used in cooking, but create a custardy rich filling in this luscious stuffed French toast. Using cinnamon swirl bread adds plenty of spice and a hint of sweetness. Recipe developed by Amy Sherman.

Ingredients
4 slices cinnamon swirl bread, 1 inch thick
1 ripe Comice USA Pear
2 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
Maple syrup or powdered sugar

Directions 
Using a sharp bread knife, cut a pocket in one end of each slice of bread. The pocket should leave a border of about one inch from the sides of the bread.

Peel the pears, cut in half and core them. Working over bowl, use a knife or the vegetable peeler to cut the pear into very thin strips. Spread open the pocket in the bread and fill it with pear slices using a butter knife.

Transfer stuffed bread to a baking dish large enough to hold all the slices in a single layer. In a medium bowl, beat together milk and eggs and pour over the bread. After 5 minutes, flip the bread and using a fork, prick the bread to help it absorb the liquid. Repeat. Allow the bread to absorb all the liquid, about 15 minutes.

Melt butter on non-stick griddle or skillet over medium heat. Fry the French toast in two batches until golden brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Serve with maple syrup or dust with powdered sugar.

prep time: About 20 minutes
cooking time: 6 minutes
yield: Serves 4

German Pancake with Caramelized Pears

german_pancake_caramelized_pears-013 SM

This large pancake puffs up in the oven but quickly deflates. Anjou pears hold their shape beautifully and add plenty of flavor to this breakfast entrée.

Ingredients              
4 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
3 Anjou (Red or Green) USA Pears, peeled, cored, and sliced, about 3 cups
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup sugar
Powdered sugar

Directions 
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs then add the milk, flour, vanilla, and salt. Continue whisking until batter is smooth.

Melt the butter in a cast iron or ovenproof 10-inch skillet. Add the pears and cinnamon and cook, stirring gently, until the pears begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the sugar and cook over medium heat, stirring, for 3 minutes. Pears will still be somewhat firm.

Pour the batter evenly over the top of the pears. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the edge of the pancake begins to turn brown and puffs, about 15 minutes.

Remove the skillet from the oven and sift powdered sugar on top using a sifter or fine mesh strainer. Slice into quarters and serve immediately.

prep time: 15 minutes
cooking time: About 25 minutes
yield: Serves 4

Recipe developed by Amy Sherman.

Pear and Pumpkin Snack Cake

pear and pumpkin snack cake

With whole wheat flour, pumpkin puree, and sweet and juicy USA Pears, this snack cake is a unique treat for boxed lunches or weekend gatherings.

Ingredients
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2-½ cups peeled, cored and diced firm, ripe USA Pear, preferably Bosc
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup brown sugar, packed
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter cut in ½-inch pieces
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup pumpkin puree
⅓ cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1-½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish.

Melt butter in a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add diced pears and sauté until they begin to brown slightly around the edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Add sugar and cinnamon and continue to cook until golden brown and lightly translucent, about 3 more minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

Combine all-purpose and whole wheat flour, brown sugar, butter, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on low speed until the mixture resembles coarse meal with butter pieces no larger than pea-sized. Measure out ⅔ cup and set aside.

Whisk pumpkin, sour cream or Greek yogurt, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger, and baking soda together. Add to remaining dry mixture in mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well to incorporate.

Pour batter into pan and evenly distribute caramelized pears over the top in a single layer. Cover pears with reserved dry mixture.

Bake until golden brown and pulling away slightly from the edges of the pan, about 75 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack 20 minutes before running a knife around the inside edges of the pan to loosen.

preparation time: 30 minutes
bake time: 75 minutes
yield:  Makes 6 to 8 servings

Cheddar Pear Scones

Cheddar Pear Scones

These crumbly buttery scones studded with tender pears are a beguiling sweet and savory breakfast treat. Best served immediately or reheated the next day.

Ingredients
1 peeled, cored and diced Bartlett or Green Anjou USA Pear, about ¾ cup
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
½ cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, preferably white
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 large egg

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add the butter and blend using a pastry blender or two butter knives. Add the cheese, milk, and egg and stir until the dough begins to come together, then add the pears.

Generously flour working surface and place the dough on top. Sprinkle the dough with flour and pat into a 7-inch circle. Cut circle into 6 wedges. Transfer wedges to a non-stick or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Allow at least 2 inches between each scone.
Bake until firm and golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool before serving.

prep time: About 15 minutes
cooking time: 25 minutes
yield: Serves 6

Recipe developed by Amy Sherman.

Pear and Sour Cream Muffins with Coconut-Pecan Streusel

Pear and Sour Cream Muffins with Streusel Topping

These pear muffins are simply perfect! They’re ultra-tender thanks to the sour cream I’ve added to the batter, and have a crunchy, textured top courtesy of the coconut-pecan streusel they are sprinkled with before baking. This unique combination of flavors and textures makes for a very memorable muffin.

Muffins are my favorite baked good for home baking because they keep so well. After we helped ourselves to a few muffins still warm from the oven, we kept these little sweeties tightly wrapped in the refrigerator where we enjoyed them as part of our breakfasts through the rest of the week.

This recipe would be lovely as part of a pear-themed brunch for Easter or Mother’s Day. Try it alongside my Chicken Salad with Pears, Bacon, and Avocado as well as my Pear and Maple Breakfast Sausages. Serve a variety of fresh, ripe pears alongside as well. Voila! Brunch is served!

Ingredients
Streusel
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
⅓ cup packed brown sugar
¾ cup large flake unsweetened coconut
¾ cup pecans, lightly chopped
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
Muffins
6 tablespoons butter, melted
2 large eggs
½ cup honey
¾ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ripe USA Pears, such as Green Anjou, medium dice
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

Directions
For the streusel: Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse 8 – 10 times until crumbly. Place in the refrigerator to stay cold until ready to use.

For the muffins: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12 muffin tin with butter, or line with paper muffin cups.

In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, eggs, honey, sour cream, and vanilla and whisk to combine thoroughly. Fold the diced pears into the wet mixture. In a separate small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir together gently until just combined.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tin, filling each cup about ¾ of the way. Top each muffin with about 2 tablespoons of the streusel mixture, lightly pressing it down onto the batter. Cover the muffin tin loosely with foil to prevent the streusel from burning and bake for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and bake an additional 12 – 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool the muffins for 15 minutes before removing from the pan.

prep time: 20 minutes
yield: 12 muffins

Pear and Maple Breakfast Sausage

pear maple breakfast sausage

If you’ve tried my recipe for Braised Pork with Pears and Sherry Vinegar, you know that pears and pork are truly magical together. Savory-and-sweet is a classic combination any time of day, but I think breakfast is my absolutely favorite meal for combining the two. If you’re anything like me when it comes to breakfast, you waffle (HA!) when deciding whether to go the sweet or savory route. Well, now you can have both delightful tastes with my Pear and Maple Breakfast Sausage. These sausages are extremely simple to make, they freeze well, and they cook up like a dream—crispy edges, tender centers, and a burst of juicy, sweet pear in every bite. Try them alongside French toast on a Sunday or with eggs and fresh pear slices for a simple breakfast.

Ingredients
1 tablespoon canola oil, plus more for frying sausages
½ small red onion, small dice
1 pound ground pork
1 ½ tablespoons maple syrup
2 or 3 shakes of your favorite hot sauce (optional)
½ teaspoon salt
Several turns of freshly ground black pepper
1 firm-ripe USA Pear, such as Red Anjou, medium dice

Directions
Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the diced red onion and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 3-5 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly. In a medium bowl, combine the pork, maple syrup, hot sauce, salt, pepper and the browned onions. Mix the ingredients together thoroughly to distribute the seasonings. Lastly, add the diced pears, mixing them in as gently as possible.

Form the mixture into 10-12 sausage patties. Lightly moistening your hands will help prevent the sausage from sticking to you. At this point, some of the sausage patties may be stored in zip-top bags and frozen.

To cook the sausage patties, fry them in a thin layer of canola oil over medium heat, about 5 minutes per side. Check the centers for doneness. If the sausages are not cooked all the way through, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan for an additional 5 minutes.

Pear and Quinoa Breakfast Custard

custard 2

The holidays are my favorite time of year for making big family breakfasts. Extra days off means extra time for cozying up with a good book while a satisfying breakfast dish bakes away in the oven. My creamy Pear and Quinoa Custard couldn’t be more perfect for the season. The silky vanilla and orange-scented custard together with the earthy quinoa and soft, ripe pears makes this breakfast both wholesome and satisfying. The sooner you get to cooking, the sooner the aroma of pears, vanilla, and sweet custard will fill your kitchen!

Ingredients
2 ounces dried pears (about 5 pear halves)
1 cup dried quinoa (yields 2 ¼ cups cooked quinoa)
1 ½ cups water
1 ¾ cups half and half
3 eggs
⅔ cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons orange zest (from about half an orange)
¼ teaspoons salt
2 ripe USA Pears, such as Comice or Bartlett, large dice

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the dried pears in a small bowl, cover with boiling water and set aside to cool. Place 1½ cups water in a saucepan with a lid over high heat. Rinse the quinoa under cold, running water in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear. Once that water boils, add the washed quinoa to the pot and stir to combine. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium low, cooking the quinoa just until al dente, 9-12 minutes. Drain any remaining water from the quinoa and set aside to cool slightly.

Prepare the custard by mixing the half and half, eggs, sugar, vanilla, orange zest, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk the ingredients together vigorously until well combined. Remove the dried pears from the water and chop into small pieces. Add the quinoa, the dried pear, and the fresh pear chunks to the custard and stir gently to combine.

custard 1

Carefully pour the custard into an 8-inch round casserole dish. Create a water bath by placing the casserole dish inside of another larger baking dish and pouring boiling water into the large dish until it comes about halfway up the sides of the smaller dish. This will help insulate the custard and protect it from overcooking.

Slide the dishes into the oven and bake for 60-75 minutes or until the custard is just set in the middle. You don’t want to overcook custard, so I recommend checking on it after 45 minutes and then every 10 minutes thereafter just to be safe. You’ll know when it’s done because it will still jiggle in the middle, but it will no longer be watery.

Allow the custard to cool for at least 10 minutes and serve hot or still warm. This delicious custard would be perfect on a plate alongside crispy, thick-cut bacon and some additional fresh pear slices.

 

Double Delight Pear Waffles

Double Delight Pear Waffles with Warm Marmalade Maple Pears

The Bite reader (and pear enthusiast) Merry Graham sent us her recipe for pear waffles, and we knew we had to share it! Not only are these waffles fluffy and crisp and sweet, they’re also beautiful. Impress your next houseguests—or your sleepy family—with this brunch dish.

Ingredients

1 ¾ cup unbleached flour

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

1 ¾ cups buttermilk

½ cup unsalted melted butter

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large eggs, separated

½ cup chopped peeled pear

3 pears, peeled and sliced

½ cup pure maple syrup

¼ cup orange marmalade

Directions

Preheat waffle iron on medium high heat. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and nutmeg. In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, butter, sugar, vanilla, and egg yolks.  Slowly whisk the flour mixture into the buttermilk mixture.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, whip egg whites until stiff. Fold 1 cup of egg whites and chopped pears into buttermilk-flour mixture. Fold in remaining egg whites.

Pour about ⅓ cup of batter into each well of the waffle iron and close the lid. Cook the waffle until golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Keep warm in oven and continue to bake remaining waffle batter.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat, combine sliced pears, marmalade, and maple syrup. Heat until thoroughly warmed.

yield:Serves 4

Eat a Hearty Breakfast!

Every morning, my husband makes oatmeal for breakfast. When he was growing up, his mother would make a pot of oatmeal on the stove for her children, and my husband continues that tradition today by heating together oats, water, milk, and fruit. Whereas my husband loves oatmeal because it’s a hearty breakfast and he has fond memories, I love it for its fiber content, especially the soluble fiber content.

Dietary fiber, which includes both soluble and insoluble fibers, provides many health benefits. Most Americans don’t eat enough fiber, and since heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, including more fiber in the diet is a step in the right direction for heart health. In particular, soluble fiber found in foods such as oats, fruits, and vegetables may reduce risk for cardiovascular disease when eaten as part of a heart-healthy diet. According to the American Heart Association, soluble fiber reduces LDL cholesterol (the so called “bad” cholesterol) beyond levels achieved by a traditional cardiac diet that only limits cholesterol, saturated fats, and trans fats.

Lately, my husband has been adding cinnamon, diced pear, and a dash of honey to his oatmeal. This is a great choice for his heart, because pears are an excellent source of fiber! Each medium pear contains 6 grams of fiber, or 24% of the recommended daily value for Americans. For heart health, try adding more fiber to your diet by eating pears and other fruits, vegetables, and whole grains every day.

Thanksgiving or Misgiving?

Stress, holiday blues, eating too much… I ask myself again this year, how does all of this spell thanksgiving?  If you’re like me, the holidays creep up on you when you’re already stressed and crunched for time, leaving you vulnerable to temptation! I know this is not the time of year to deprive myself, so I need a game plan to limit overindulgence and extra pounds.

pearsonscalesquareMy strategy for Thanksgiving this year is to grab the family for low-key physical activity and to have one or two food strategies in place before temptation strikes! Here are some ideas.

1. Start by eating a filling, balanced breakfast. This will help maintain blood sugar levels and fend off later splurging.

2. Start a new tradition! Take a walk instead of having brunch. Or, walk off the big meal!

3. Grab the family and play a rousing game, think football or tag with the kids. These activities are away from food and allow for family fun time. No matter how delicious the pie is, everyone will remember the fun!

4. Mentally rehearse before the big meal. Instead of planning what you will eat, plan to see some of your plate!

football115. Start with fruit or veggies. Think a salad, fruit and cheese plate, or crudités. Fill up ahead of time on nutrient-dense foods to control splurging.

6. At the big meal, only take a portion of your favorites or take a taste of everything. Or, start with a small portion of half of the foods. Then, when everyone gets up to have seconds of everything, try a small portion of the other half of the dishes!

Personally, I find that a filling up on fruits or veggies helps me stay on track. Try this simple, festive salad I’m making for Thanksgiving! Mix together leaf lettuce, sliced shallots and pears. Try a firm, festive pear, such as red Anjou or Bosc. Top this mixture with gorgonzola, walnuts, and balsamic vinaigrette. Delicious! If salads aren’t your style, put together a quick cheese and fruit plate. Grape bunches, sliced pears, and olives make a festive display when paired with a small assortment of cheeses, and the pear slices act as a cheese delivery device. Scrumptious! Depending on the type of pear you love best, USA Pears has a cheese pairing that is perfect for you. Happy merrymaking!