Dragonfly Home Recipes

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Simply Wonderful Pear Crisp

Sometimes the most basic recipes are the best. They allow natural flavor to shine.  That is the case with this simply wonderful pear crisp.  Juicy ripe pears give us such a burst of bright flavor, accompanied by a lightly sweet crisp topping and a spoonful of fluffy whipped cream.

pear crispJanuary is a time when good fruit can be hard to come by.  But pears are perfect for this time of year.  They are bountiful at the grocery store right now, and when baked, they deliver such a fresh, sweetness, especially when baked with cinnamon and brown sugar.

I have made countless apple crisps in my time, but pear crisp is somewhat new to me.  And really, I don’t know why I have not made it sooner.  It is my new favorite way to eat pears.  I adapted this recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, called Savor, by Ilona Oppeheim.  I omitted the walnuts for my recipe, mainly so my sweet son would enjoy this crisp, though I think they would be great in it myself.  But it is great without the nuts too, especially with a dollop of homemade whipped cream!

pear crispSunny days are hard to come by in a Michigan January as well, and it looks like the sun has just come out here for awhile. We will take what we can get, and I will be getting outside here as soon as I can!  We had a sunny day last Sunday, and were able to get out on the lake near our house before the weather warmed up just enough to thaw the ice.  My husband and his friend ice fished while my daughter and I had a few minutes before sunset to walk down to the lake and say hello.  It was so peaceful to be out on the ice at sunset.

pear crispFood can be a great comfort at all times of the year.  In the middle of the winter, when it is often cold and gray outside, and dark in the mornings and evenings, warm food can definitely lift the spirits.  This pear crisp puts a smile on my face, and my family loves it as well.  And it is so very easy to make, which is an added bonus! Be well and stay warm!pear crisppears

Simply Wonderful Pear Crisp

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: about 15 minutes of prep time and 45 minutes of baking time
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  • 1/3 cup of all purpose flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1/4 cup of old fashioned rolled oats
  • 3 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup  or one half stick) of unsalted butter, plus a bit more for greasing the baking pan
  • 4 ripe pears (or 6 pears if they are small), peeled, cored, and diced
  • whipped cream (optional)


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease a 9 x 9 inch baking dish.  (You can also use four 4-inch ramekins if you wish.)

In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.  With a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until the mixture forms large crumbs.

Place the diced pears in the baking pan in a single layer.  Sprinkle the flour mixture evenly over the pears.

Bake in your 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and fruit is soft.  Serve warm with a spoonful of whipped cream on top, if desired.  Enjoy!


Tofu Miso Instant Noodle Bowl

Enjoy the ease, speed, and savory, satisfying umami taste of an instant noodle bowl without all the unhealthy additives with this do-it-yourself tofu miso instant noodle bowl.  With just a few ingredients and a mason jar, you can make this delicious and healthy soup in fifteen minutes! Tofu, miso paste, spinach, and thin noodles combine to make a super-quick lunch packed with protein, iron, and many other nutrients.

I have been a fan of instant noodle bowls for a long time.  Like many of us, I relied on instant ramen noodle packages when I was just out of college and living on my own.  I loved the salty, tangy taste and they filled me up for just around a dollar a meal! I quickly got more interested in my health and whole foods, so I had to let the instant ramen meals go. But in a pinch, when I am in a rush or when I am craving a quick umami taste, I will still buy an instant noodle bowl package.  So when I saw this mason jar instant noodle bowl idea in one of my new cookbooks, Mad Genius Tips, by Justin Chapple and the Editors of Food and Wine, I was very excited.  (That book is full of fun and great ideas, by the way, and I am excited to try more!)

The great thing about making your own noodle bowls is that you can vary the recipe depending on what you have on hand and what kind of taste you want, and you can make them really healthy!  Also, they are portable so you can pack them and then make them at work, or wherever you can get hot water. Just layer the ingredients in a mason jar or other type of heat-proof jar, pour in some boiling water, close the lid, and wait for five minutes.  In this case, with the miso, I found that it works best to add the miso paste mixed with some warm water after the five minutes, since it is not good for the miso to boil.

tofu miso noodle bowlThe recipe below is loosely based on one I found in Mad Genius Tips, though I used tofu instead of chicken and changed a few other things around as well.  Also, I found that pouring the soup into a bowl after it cooks in the mason jar makes it easier to eat, so that is why I call it a noodle bowl instead of a noodle cup.

Miso is one of my favorite ways to add the savory umami flavor to foods.  It is made from aged and fermented soybeans, so it contains that “good” bacteria that is so popular now.  In addition to the beneficial micro-organisms, miso is a complete protein and is full of minerals and antioxidants.  There are lots of different types of miso paste, including white miso, yellow miso, and red miso.  The kind I use in this tofu miso instant noodle bowl is considered brown miso, (or Genmai Miso), and it is aged and fermented soybeans and brown rice.  It has a pretty strong flavor, so a little goes a long way.

White miso is considered the most mild kind, and red miso is also quite strong.  You can use any type of miso you like in this noodle bowl, and adjust the amount to your taste.  The other important thing I have learned about using miso paste is that as I mentioned above, you should not let it boil, because that can destroy the micro-organisms and make it grainy, so I prefer to add the miso paste to the mixture after it has steeped in the boiling water, and the water has cooled a bit.

I like to buy baked tofu because it is fairly firm and holds up well.  Since the cooking time is only about five minutes, the noodles need to be either very thin noodles that are made to be cooked almost instantly, or noodles that have already been cooked.  I have used both, and they both work well.  I especially like using a type of Japanese noodles called Tomoshiraga Somen because they are almost as thin as thread, and cook really quickly.  I have also used leftover cooked spaghetti or angel hair noodles, and they work too, if you are trying to use up your leftovers. If you have leftover cooked vegetables and want to add them, give it a try!  Otherwise, quick-cooking vegetables like spinach, peas, or mushrooms work best.

I hope you all have a great weekend! If you are looking for a very quick, healthy, heart-warming lunch, give this tofu miso instant noodle bowl a try! There is nothing like soup to warm the body and soul on a cold day. tofu miso noodle bowl

Tofu Miso Instant Noodle Bowl

  • Servings: 1
  • Time: about 15 minutes
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  • 1/3 cup (or about 2 ounces) of baked tofu, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup of fresh spinach, torn into bite sized pieces
  • about 1 and 3/4 ounces, or about 1/2 cup of very thin oriental style noodles (or previously cooked angel hair or spaghetti pasta), broken or cut to fit into a wide-mouth one-pint Mason jar
  • 1 tablespoon (or to taste) of brown, red, or white miso paste
  • about 1 and 3/4 cups of boiling water, plus about 1/2 cup of warm water for the miso paste


Cut the baked tofu into cubes and tear the spinach into bite sized pieces.  Layer the tofu and spinach in a one-pint Mason jar.  Add the noodles, breaking them or cutting them into pieces that fit through the opening of the jar, filling the jar to the top.  Set the miso paste aside.  Heat some water in a kettle until it just boils.  Pour the hot water into the Mason jar and screw on the lid.  Let the Mason jar sit for five minutes.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the miso paste with a bit (1/2 cup or so) of warm water, whisking it till the clumps dissolve.  When the five minutes are done, remove the lid from the Mason jar and pour the contents into a bowl.  Stir in the miso-water mixture until everything is combined.  Enjoy!


Cozy Oatmeal Baked Apples

Fill your kitchen with the iconic smell of baking apples and cinnamon with these cozy oatmeal baked apples.  Cored apples are filled with an oat-brown sugar-cinnamon mixture and then baked until the apples are soft and the oatmeal mixture has a cake-like consistency.  The moistness of the baked apples surrounds the oatmeal mixture to make a heart-warming dessert or breakfast that is full of nutrients and delicious comfort.

oatmeal baked applesI love all types of baked apple-cinnamon recipes, and this one is a bit different to me because the apple is stuffed with a filling inside of it instead of sliced and used as a filling.  Because it’s a bit different, it makes a festive dessert or breakfast, especially served with some vanilla ice cream or drizzled with some maple syrup, or even caramel sauce.  We had them for breakfast this morning straight up without any added toppings, and they were so good!

oatmeal baked appleI added two new cookbooks to my collection over the holidays, and I adapted this recipe from one of them–Savor by Ilona Oppenheim.  I love the photos in this cookbook, and the recipes are natural, beautiful, and seasonal.  I made a few changes from the recipe in the book to fit the tastes of my family–but I am so grateful for the idea and the basic framework.  This is a dessert/breakfast that is easy to make and comes together quite quickly, plus you can feel good about the wholesome ingredients.

oatmeal baked applesThe holiday season is over now, and it is time to get back to work, time for the kids to go back to school and indoor soccer, and hopefully time for me to put some positive new intentions and habits into practice in my little corner of the world.  We spent a few days up in northern Michigan over the New Year, and it was so refreshing and invigorating to be up in that cold, clean air!

Getting away from the routine allowed us to have some good family time when we weren’t rushed or pulled in a bunch of different directions.  We played some long games of Pokémon Monopoly (thanks to my son 🙂 ), went sledding, and walked along the snowy beach.  I loved all the lights in town on the dark evenings–lights in the trees, lights on the shops and restaurants, lights reflected in the water along the beach, and especially the fireworks over the lake on New Year’s Eve.

This is such a good time of year for introspectionand for making home a warm and cozy place.  Walking in the cold air clears the head.  It is also definitely the time of year to make warm, nourishing things in the kitchen.  These oatmeal baked apples hit the spot this morning.  Happy New Year!  I hope you all have a great weekend, and stay warm! I will be sharing this recipe over at Angie’s virtual potluck, Fiesta Friday, co-hosted this week by Quinn @ Dad What’s 4 Dinner and Monika @ Everyday Healthy Recipesoatmeal baked apples

Cozy Oatmeal Baked Apples

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: about 20 minutes of prep time, about 45 minutes of baking time
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  • 6 medium to large apples (I like Honeycrisp or Jonagold for this)
  • 1 cup of old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of fine sea salt
  • 1 and 1/3 cups of milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter, melted


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with parchment paper.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.  Mix well with a fork.  Make sure your butter is melted.

In another bowl, combine the milk, vanilla extract, egg, and melted butter.  Stir well. Add the milk mixture to the bowl with the oat mixture, and stir well with a wooden spoon.

With a paring knife, cut off the tops of the apples.  Set the tops aside.  With the same knife, carefully cut around the core and cut out the core (you can also use an apple corer).  Scoop out the seeds and rest of the core with a spoon, if necessary.  Leave 1/2 inch at the bottom of the apples intact, with the holes in the core about an inch wide.

Place the cored apples on the prepared baking dish.  Spoon the oatmeal mixture into the cavities of the apples, filling them as full as you can.  Place the tops back on the apples for baking.  If you have oat mixture left over, you can bake it in a small baking pan and bake it alongside the apples.  (I put mine in a min-loaf pan and it made a cute little cake-like loaf).

Bake the stuffed apples in your 350 degree oven for about 40-50 minutes, or until the apples are soft and the oat mixture is set.  These taste best warm, but can also be served at room temperature.  Enjoy!




Chocolate Peppermint Smoothie

Nutritious drink meets delightfully decadent treat in this chocolate peppermint smoothie.  Almond milk, banana, dates, unsweetened dark cocoa, peppermint extract, and maple syrup provide vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, while a handful of crushed peppermint candy adds color and fun.  All of these ingredients combined together make a festive drink that is so tasty, you might forget it is so healthy!

The holidays always make me crave the chocolate-peppermint combination, and this smoothie is one of my favorite ways to enjoy it! Plus, it fills the body with lots of good energy, which we all definitely need at this time of year.  Treat yourself or treat someone you love to this delicious drink! And with the crushed peppermint candy around the edges of the glass, it looks pretty too.

chocolate peppermint smoothiesI am not a huge fan of eating dates, but when they are pureed in a smoothie (or baked in something), they make a really good sweetener, full of minerals natural goodness, and with such a mild flavor that they just kind of blend in, especially with the more powerful flavors of the peppermint extract and dark chocolate.  The banana gives this smoothie a bit of richness, while the maple syrup and vanilla extract fill out the flavor.

chocolate peppermint smoothieI hope that you all are having a happy holiday season! It has been a bit hectic for me lately, but I am hoping the next couple of days will be less about rushing and more about savoring time with family and celebrating this special time.  (Hopefully the man who was tailgating me on the road today will be able to slow down soon too!!) I plan to make my husband and kids a chocolate peppermint smoothie tomorrow morning, and for a change, nobody has to get up early!

chocolate peppermint smoothieOur daily lives are not always peaceful, and the events going on in the world are not always peaceful either.  But in spite of all that, there is a special stillness about this time of year.  I don’t know if it is the muted light or the alignment of the stars or what, but if I stand outside and stay still, I can feel a quiet peace.  My husband and  I were outside with our dog yesterday around sunset, and with the fading light, black tree branches, and white snow all around, I felt a sense of quiet peace.  It has always been that way at this time of year.  There is a hush to the air.  I hope you all have a great weekend! A very festive Fiesta Friday is happening today at Angie’s, and I am sharing this recipe there.chocolate peppermint smoothiechocolate peppermint smoothie

Chocolate Peppermint Smoothie

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 10 minutes
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  • 2 cups of unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 dates, pitted and chopped
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract
  • 2 tablespoons of dark chocolate unsweetened cocoa
  • 1-2 tablespoons of maple syrup (to taste)
  •    2 ice cubes
  • 2 candy canes (or a handful of crushed peppermint candy)
  • a bit of honey for the rim of the glasses


Place all the ingredients in a blender, except the candy canes and honey.  Pour the smoothie into two glasses.  With your finger, line the rims of the glasses with honey.  Sprinkle the crushed candy canes over the rims of the glasses, so it sticks to the honey. Some candy will fall into the glasses, but that is fine! Enjoy!


Chocolate Tea Bark

This chocolate tea bark is made with melted semi-sweet chocolate topped with leaves of delicate black tea flavored with bergamot, orange and lemon.  Some fresh orange zest gives it additional color and flavor.  Super-easy to make, this chocolate tea bark makes a subtly elegant and delicious after-dinner treat, snack, or a sweet homemade gift!

chocolate tea barkBark is a festive winter dessert because it is fun to make, and has so many variations.  In this version, I use my favorite tea–called Lady in Waiting–from Wilkinson’s of Norwich, a coffee and tea shop in the village of Norwich, in the east of England.  My cousin moved to the Norwich area a few years ago, and she often brings me a bag of this wonderful tea when she comes back to visit.  It is a version of Earl Grey tea, and it has such a delicate yet powerful flavor. You can use any type of loose leaf tea you wish in this bark, though I am partial to the bergamot/citrus notes in the Earl Grey or Lady Grey types of teas.

chocolate and zestI added some orange zest because I cannot resist the flavors of chocolate and orange together, and with the citrus notes already present in this tea, the orange zest goes perfectly.  The quality of the chocolate also makes an impact, I have found.  Spending a bit more on good chocolate is worth it when making bark.  The flavors of the tea leaves and orange zest are subtle, and they look so pretty! It is well-known that both chocolate and tea have lots of health benefits, especially for the health of the soul.  🙂 I find both chocolate and tea especially good for the soul in the winter, when we seem to feel all pleasant things more intensely due to the challenges of the cold weather and long stretches of darkness.

chococlate tea bark and orangesThe winter solstice is tomorrow, and it feels every bit of winter here today.  We have plenty of snow on the ground and a cold wind is blowing.  Our dog has taken to spending time next to the heat vent in the kitchen, and the kids don’t want to get out of their warm beds on these cold, dark mornings.  This year, I am especially enjoying our Christmas tree lights and the colorful lights out on the porch as they cast such a warm and cozy glow.  We are trying to remember to eat dinner by candlelight, even when it is a dinner thrown together at the last minute.

We are entering the peak of the holiday season, such a special and gracious time of year.  Yes, it is a hectic and sometimes stressful time.  But also, I hope we all will have some time not only to reach out to those around us, but to sit quietly and contemplate.  My yoga instructor shared a famous Mother Teresa quote with us in class yesterday:  “Peace begins with a smile.”  This chocolate tea bark definitely makes me smile, and I hope it does you too.  Peace and Happy Holidays!christmas lights at sunset

Chocolate Tea Bark

  • Servings: the equivalent of two large chocolate bars
  • Time: about 15 minutes, plus 1/2 hour for cooling in the freezer, or a couple of hours of cooling time on the counter
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  • 8 ounces of high quality semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2-3 teaspoons of Earl Grey, Lady Grey, or Lady in Waiting Tea, in leaf form
  • 2 teaspoons of orange zest


Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Zest your orange peel and measure out your tea leaves.

Break the chocolate into pieces.  Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, or if you don’t have a double boiler, heat a couple of inches of water in a saucepan over low heat.  Place a heat-proof glass bowl over the saucepan (but don’t let the bowl touch the water).  Put the chocolate in the glass bowl and allow it to melt, stirring often.  When the chocolate is melted and shiny, pour it onto the parchment-lined baking sheet and shape it into a rectangle with a spatula, so the chocolate is about 1/4 of an inch thick.  (You may make it thicker or thinner, if you prefer).  Sprinkle the tea leaves and orange zest evenly over the melted chocolate, pressing the leaves into the chocolate a tiny bit.  Let the chocolate cool and harden, about 2 hours, or if you are in a hurry, you can put the baking sheet in the freezer for about a half hour.  When the chocolate is cool and hardened, break it into pieces.  Enjoy!



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