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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Mom's Blueberry Pie

I know...wrong season. But I just made a blueberry pie last week and had to put this up. Paddy's brother, two sisters, and brother-in-law were here last weekend for a gig and I needed to pull together some good eats for the family. My German brother-in-law loves blueberry pie so I whipped this up for the gang. Whip up a pie you say? Yes! Always make double or triple batches of pie crust and keep it in the freezer for emergencies. We all love a blueberry pie emergency...

3 cups of blueberries (about a quart and a half?)
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup sugar
Squeeze of a lemon
Zest of a lemon or 1/2 an orange
Dash of cinnamon
Pie crust

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Combine the flour and sugar in a bowl.

3. Roll out the dough and place in pie dish. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of the flour/sugar mixture on the pie crust.

4. Add the rest of the flour/sugar mixture, zest, juice and cinnamon to the blueberries. Gently stir.

5. Dump the blueberry mixture into the pie and cover with the other crust. Be sure to put at least four slits in the top of the crust  (1/2 inch slits) to let out the steam while it bakes.

6. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until the crust is golden.

Cauliflower and Herbed Barley Salad

I realize that this doesn't sound terribly exciting...cauliflower and beans? But this is delicious. And I almost always trust Bon Appetit. You could always swap out the dressing ingredients with your favorite dressing. The key is to get nice, brown, roasted cauliflower.

1/2 cup barley
1 tbsp lemon zest
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp mayo
1 tsp dijon mustard
6 tbsp olive oil
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 15 oz can of butter beans, rinsed
1/2 chopped parsley
2 tbsp fresh tarragon

1. Cook the barley in water or chicken broth for about 1/2 hour until tender.

2. Whisk the lemon juice, mayo, mustard and 5 tbsp of the oil. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Heat oil in a large skillet and add cauliflower. Cook at medium high until tender and browned on all sides. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl, add the beans, parsley, barley, tarragon and the dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with the lemon zest.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake

I feel like I've tried dozens of coffee cake recipes over the past few years. Why is it always better from the bakery? Any bakery! I finally came across this one in Cooking Light and it's now my go-to. It's got the perfect balance of cinnamon and sugar and comes out incredibly moist. LOVE IT. This can be made in a loaf pan or as Little Debbie ;)

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
 Dash of salt
2 tbsp butter, melted
2 tbsp chopped pecans - must toast! Put on stovetop for 5 mins or so on medium.

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Combine the struesel ingredients and set aside.

3. In a bowl, combine the first 4 ingredients and mix well. In a large bowl, combine the butter and sugar and beat on medium-high until well blended. 

4. Beating at low speed, add the flour mixture and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat until just combined.

5. Scrape half of batter into a 9x5 loaf pan coated with baking spray. Sprinkle half of the streusel mixture over the batter. Pour the rest of the batter on top and sprinkle remaining streusel on top.

6. Bake for 50 minutes. 

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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Whole Wheat Pita Bread

I never knew how the heck pita bread turns out hollow. And...I still don't. It's amazing, even after making it. And making pitas is very easy! I've been making these a lot since I've been on a bit of a bread roll (so to say) since getting my shiny Kitchen Aid mixer back in November. The equipment certainly helps here, otherwise, you'll end up with a much larger right bicep really soon...

1 tbsp active yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (found in grocery store (surprisingly) - look in organic grains section
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1. Dissolve yeast into water for 5 minutes in the mixer bowl.

2. Add the salt and 1/2 the flour. Knead with your dough hook on medium low until incorporated.

3. Add the rest of the flour and knead for another 8 minutes.

4. The dough will be sticky so flour your hands and all surfaces, and the dough itself. Break the dough into about 10-12 balls, flour them and roll them with your hands. Then, roll out each ball to a thin ~5-6 inch disk.

5. Place each disk on a floured baking sheet as you go. Let the rolled dough sit for about 30-40 minutes.

6. Preheat the oven to 425. Flip each dough disk. Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes or so.

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Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart with Gruyere

I know, lots of butternut squash stuff lately. But if you buy it, better have a couple of uses on hand because there's always a lot of it!

So I find meat pretty necessary in every meal...have you noticed? I'm not usually drawn to vegetarian delights, although I do love vegetable. I just find myself saying, this would have been better with chicken, or beef, or lamb, or BACON. But I was very pleasantly surprised by this butternut pie from Cooking Light. The great thing about it too, is that you can eat it as your entree or as a side with grilled or broiled meat. This is packed with flavor! Also - the crust is a super easy olive oil-based pie crust that I was pretty amazed with. You could also use store-bought pie crust (god forbid) or homemade pie crust.

1 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp ice water

3 cups cubed butternut squash
2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup shredded Gruyere
2 eggs
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 oz chopped pancetta (could sub bacon here)
5 oz slice shitake mushrooms (shitakes are key! Don't sub)
1/4 cup white wine

1. Preheat oven to 450.

2. For crust, combine flour, salt, pepper, and baking powder in a food processor. Pulse a couple of time or until combined. Combine oil and water and slowly pour through food chute and pulse until dough is crumbly.

3. Coat a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray and press dough into the dish and up the sides. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

4. For filling, place squash in food processor (no need to clean from dough) and pulse for 1 minute or until finely chopped.

5. Heat a large pan to medium high. Sautee the onion for a minute and then add the squash. Saute for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

6. While squash cooks, combine half the cheese, eggs, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Stir in the squash and onion mixture.

7. Remove crust from oven, spoon squash mixture over crust and spread evenly. Return to oven and bake for 10 mins.

8. While tart bakes, bring the pan back to medium high. Add a little olive oil and the pancetta and cook for a couple of mins until it starts to brown. Add the mushrooms and cook until browned. Season with salt and pepper. Add wine and cook for another minute or until it almost evaporates.

9. Remove tart from oven. Sprinkle the mushroom mixture over the top and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Return tart to oven and bake for another 5 minutes or until cheese melts.

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Butternut Squash Ravioli - The Easy Way!

When I make pasta, it's an all day affair that usually ends with my kitchen looking like it was just flour bombed. It's an intense, messy job but always worth it once you get to eat it. I make huge batches and freeze it so that the enjoyment at least lasts for a few months.

But sometimes I want it without the hassle, and wontons are are a great way to make ravioli. Wonton ravioli are quite a bit lighter and much better with a veggie filling and a light sauce because they don't hold up too well in your usual tomato sauce. This is from Cooking Light a few months ago and is a great way to use leftover butternut squash (have you ever noticed that when you buy butternut squash you have way too much of it?). These ravioli are best with fresh baby spinach pesto. These will melt in your mouth!

1 butternut squash, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tbsp fresh oregano
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 cup of grated parmesan, divided
salt & pepper
1 package of wonton wrappers (found near tofu in grocery store)
1 egg, beaten

1. Preheat oven to 400. Place squash on cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes or until the squash is tender.

2. Remove squash from oven and mash. Add the oregano, butter, and cheese.

3. Moisten 1/2 the edge of the wonton with egg and place 1 1/2 tsp of squash in the middle of the wonton. Fold over and seal. Place wontons on a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper as you finish the rest.

4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Carefully place the ravioli in the pot and cook for about 3 minutes. Drain and carefully mix with pesto, a brown butter and sage sauce or a drizzle of olive oil to finish.

*These freeze well! Make a big batch and store in a large tupperware container - just be sure to place parchment between each layer so they don't stick to each other. Put them in boiling water straight from the freezer - they're better if you don't thaw. Print Friendly and PDF

Baby Spinach and Basil Pesto

I love pesto - there's so much you can do with it! It's great on sandwiches, as a condiment with steamed or grilled vegetables, as a soup flavor finesser, with eggs, on pizza...the list goes on. But sometimes I find traditional pesto a little intense...which lead me to this baby spinach version which I actually prefer now. The spinach lightens it up a little and actually gives the pesto much more volume - you get so much more!

*Note to chef - my recipe here does not include garlic, by the way. I find raw garlic a little overpowering which seriously disappoints my dear husband who eats garlic cloves as a snack. I smell like it for days so, no thanks. Feel free to add it. Also several other variations noted below.

Easy to double this recipe - it freezes well. Freeze in a container or in an ice cube tray for easy re-use!
1 1/2 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted (substitute pine nuts)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan or finely shredded Romano, Asiago or any other Italian hard cheese
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp veggie or chicken broth

1. Place the nuts in a pan on the stove top and heat on medium high, turning occasionally, until they are browned slightly and are fragrant. Remove from heat.

2. Place the spinach, basil, nuts, cheese, and garlic in a food processor.

3. Combine the broth and olive oil in glass or measuring cup. Pulse the ingredients while drizzling the broth/oil through the food chute. Print Friendly and PDF