Sunday, September 4, 2011

Apple-Pluot Crisp

Want to know a secret?  I wish I were an extreme couponer… also, I love to eat.  Yeah, I know, that won’t be a surprise to anyone that’s met me.  The real surprise is that I’m starting a blog!  It’ll be a combination of my favorite things—cooking food and saving money.  Because honestly, is there anything better than delicious food that doesn’t cost much?

Occasionally, I get outsmarted.  For instance, last week’s pluots were on sale for 59 cents/lb (seriously, who wouldn’t buy a lot?) but little did I know what I was getting myself into.  I didn’t take long for me to realize that in spite of the enticing exterior, the tart, crisp skin of each pluot encased pulp with the sweetness and consistency of oatmeal.  Bad oatmeal.  Still, I slogged through the lot, swallowing each bite after a maximum of two chews in order to minimize the time it spent getting tasted.  After all, I refuse to get gypped!  Even so, there had to be a better way.

Not sweet enough?  Add sugar!  Terrible texture?  Add crumbs!  Before I knew it, a pluot crisp was begging to get made.  Somehow, I’d already managed to eat all but two of the pluots, so since I don’t really do small-serving desserts, it’s turned into an apple-pluot crisp!  Crumbly crisp on the outside, warm and gooey on the inside, it's more tart-sweet flavor than I could have expected to coax out of my lackluster fruit.  Could this have tasted better with better pluots?  Probably.  But is this a delicious way to utilize a sub-par batch of fruit?  Absolutely.  

Apple-Pluot Crisp
Total recipe cost= $3.77 for 8 servings!

If you're like me, and get occasionally disturbed by a puddle of fruit liquid at the bottom of your crisps, try adding, as CI suggests, 1 tablespoon quick-cooking tapioca to the fruit filling.  Alternatively, next time I'll probably add 1 tablespoon of corn starch instead, since it's already in my pantry.  

6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter (cut in chunks)
3/4 cup walnuts

2 pluots (pitted and cut into chunks)
4 apples (peeled and cut into chunks)
lemon zest from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Place all ingredients for the topping into a food processor, and pulse several times until the mixture resembles wet, clumpy sand.  If you like chunkier walnut pieces, add the nuts and pulse after processing the other ingredients.  (You can also do this with a pastry blender or two knives to cut the butter into the dry ingredients.)  Put the topping mixture in the fridge while you prepare the filling.  

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Mix all the filling ingredients, then spread the fruit mixture into a 9 inch pie/tart plate or a 8 in square baking pan.  Evenly sprinkle on the crumb topping, then bake for 40 minutes.  Turn the oven up to 400 degrees, then bake for about 5 minutes until the filling is bubbling, and the topping is browned.  Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream!

Unit Cost
Total Cost
6 T flour
$2.99/5 lbs
¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
$5.79/10 lb
¼ t cinnamon

¼ t nutmeg

¼ t salt

5 T unsalted butter
¾ cup walnuts
$13.49/3 lbs
2 pluots
4 gala apples
1 lemon
$1.99/6 lemons


Questions about the "Total Recipe Cost"?  Click here

First blog post accomplished!  Yay!  Given my inclination towards excessive perfectionism and anxiety at people reading about/judging my food, this blog may not have happened if not for encouragement from my mom (who will be very happy to read this), food blogging advice from my friend Tina (who might read this), and inspiration from my all-time favorite food blogging icon, Deb Perelman (who almost certainly won’t read this).  And of course Jean, without whom I’d still be stuck on blog names… though “A Pinch of Pennies”—which apparently makes no sense (cents?) to people—will always have a special place in my heart.  


  1. Melissa! Congrats on your first blog post :) Your pictures look great, and your writing is perfectly good, so don't have so much anxiety about people reading this blog! I also love the new blog name, and the cost break down section. Let me know when you want to guest blog for me...

  2. So thrifty, Melissa. Nice writing, pictures, cost breakdown, and everything. I see the beginnings of a pretty cool blog. If only I could cook...

  3. Hey cuz, this is awesome! What a cool niche food blog! I'm sending this link to Cindy. I have a feeling if you keep this up, you, too will end up with a book deal. I will definitely be reading this!

  4. Melis,

    The blog looks fantastic. The pictures turned out really crisp and colorful. It will be successful!


  5. This is so cute. Pluot pluot pluot! So hard to say fast.

  6. Hey Melissa,
    Awesome job! The pictures are great. Just let me know if you need help eating any :)

  7. Heehee.This reminds me of the bargain bananas I like to buy and make banana cake/muffins with.

  8. Thanks to everyone for reading!!! (Yes, I'm returning blog comments >6 months late... I'm kind of clueless about this whole blogging thing. So...

    Tina: Thanks for all you help and advice! (And the compliments don't hurt either... :P )
    Gip: Thanks Gip! I still feel bad that one of the few things I've cooked for you turned out waaaaaay too lemony. Don't worry, everything's tested here haha.
    Erwin: I'm so happy you and Cindy are still reading my blog! And it makes me happy that you guys appreciate my thriftyness :)
    Yarin: Thanks for reading! I'll have to get back into the habit of having dinner parties so you can sample more food!
    Wf: You're silly. <3<3<3 though!!! Miss you and glad you're enjoying!
    Michael: You're always welcome to join us for ANTM night... there could always be some delicious treats arranged. Though usually we just end up devouring 3+ bags of popcorn.
    babynyc: Thanks so much for being my only commenter that doesn't know me and is therefore not obligated to read my blog!!!!!!!! My first documented blogosphere viewer!!! Thank you! (also i love banana bread... it's beautiful that there's never a reason to throw away bananas. When they get old... muffin time!)