Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Grilled Salmon to Kick Off Summer

We've been having unseasonably warm temperatures in New England the past few days.  It feels more like July than May, but I will take it.  In honor of the unofficial start to summer, we ate dinner from the grill on our porch last night.  Aside from the fact that our neighbors have inexplicably acquired a bug zapper (Who knew you could still buy those?  Also, who still thinks they work?), it was a wonderful evening.

Our dinner was grilled salmon, grilled corn and wild rice pilaf.  Simple, but fresh and delicious.

Grilled Salmon
After extensive research by our grill master, we opted to go with the aluminum foil approach for the salmon.  We don't have a grilling basket yet, and it looked like it is possible to put fish straight on the grill if it's well oiled, but there is a risk it will break into pieces and your nice dinner will end up in the coals.
We used a very simple technique.  Spray a piece of aluminum foil with cooking spray.  Arrange salmon filet in the middle.  This was .85 pounds, and we ate about half tonight, and I made salmon salad (recipe coming in the next few days!) with the leftovers.  Sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning, folded the foil to make a pocket and grilled about 7 minutes, flipping once.
Served with lemon wedges and a sauce made from plain greek yogurt, lemon juice, diced cucumber and dill (not pictured).

Grilled Corn on the Cob
Another super easy recipe, and if you already have the grill going, a good way to avoid dirtying a pot.  We soaked the shucked ears of corn in water for about 20 minutes, because that is supposed to help them  steam while on the grill, but it's optional.  In aluminum foil again (I'm a poster child for Reynolds Wrap today), put the corn on the diagonal, rub with olive oil, roll and seal the foil.  Keep each ear separate.  In the past, we've made a spiced butter mixture to coat the corn before grilling.  It's good stuff, but takes more prep work.
Put the corn foil packets directly on the grill for about 15-20 minutes.  If you listen closely, you can hear the kernels popping as they cook.
Served with butter, salt, and pepper.  As if there's any other way to serve corn.

The wild rice pilaf was from a box (Near East brand).  I know, I usually eschew boxed side dishes, but I diligently read the ingredients and they were all things I could find myself if I were so inclined.  I was not, so the box won out.

After eating this nice balanced dinner with all the good omega-3s from the salmon, we had one of the best desserts ever.  Fortunately there are leftovers for tonight, but you'll have to come back later this week to see it!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Chia Chocolate Pudding

I tried chia seeds for the first time yesterday.  Yes, the ch-ch-chia.  Same stuff.  In addition to sprouting within hours to make a fun toy, they are also high in fiber, antioxidants, protein, and full of vitamins, minerals and omega-3s.  All good stuff. 

When you add chia to any liquid, it gels and thickens up.  This is why it lends itself to making healthy pudding.  A mixture of milk and chia seeds, stirred together and chilled in the fridge for 30 minutes, and you have instant pudding that's actually good for you!

Chia Chocolate Pudding
Serves 2

1/4 cup chia seeds
3/4 cup milk (I used almond milk)
2 Tablespoons hot chocolate mix
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon sweetener (sugar, stevia, or agave)

Combine all ingredients in a covered container.  I used a mason jar.  Stir well.  Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so.

My verdict: I used hot chocolate mix and found it maybe needed a little more flavor.  I think the cocoa/sugar combo is the way to go.  I might just top mine off with some extra chocolate.

As a side note, if you want to feel like a successful gardener, plant some mint.  At the end of last summer, my Mom gave me a few mint plants she had transplanted from her garden.  I left them in my car for an entire weekend, planted them when I got home, and watered a few times.  Once, while weeding, I accidentally pulled one up, and just jammed it back in the ground.  This spring, an explosion of mint plants came up, and I have more mint than I know what to do with!  

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Taco Night

At long last, we had Taco Night this past weekend.  As some of you know, tacos are my husband's favorite food, and he would be happy if we ate them every week.  I like tacos quite a bit myself, but we need some balance.  This makes enough to serve at least 4.  We usually eat the tacos in tortillas the first night, and taco salads for the leftovers.

Ground Turkey Tacos
1 pound ground turkey
Canola oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 Tablespoon each cumin and chili powder
1 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne or habanero pepper
Shredded lettuce
Chopped tomato
Shredded cheese
Sour cream
Hot Sauce
Other topping ideas: pickled jalapenos, avocado, mango, salsa

In a saute pan, or large frying pan, brown the meat.  Drain in a colander and wipe out the pan.
Heat canola oil over medium heat, add onion, garlic and bell pepper and saute a few minutes.
Return meat to pan, add spices and tomato sauce.  Allow to simmer for at least 5 minutes.
Prepare toppings, warm tortillas, and eat!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower and Chicken Sausage

This is one of the most requested dinners around here.  Cauliflower is kind of a tricky vegetable.  On it's own, I think it's kind of tasteless, but roasted with olive oil and garlic, it's good stuff.  Plus it's full of good things for you, so added bonus.  The recipe was originally from Cooking Light, but I've modified it a bit (mostly making it less light...).  It only takes about 20 minutes to pull together, which means it's great for a quick dinner, or if you are cooking at 10:30 in the morning because you didn't plan ahead.  

Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower and Chicken Sausage
adapted from Cooking Light


  • 1 package (4 links) chicken sausage - I've used spicy jalapeno and chicken apple, both with success
  • 3 cups small cauliflower florets - I use the entire head of cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • garlic cloves, sliced
  • 4 cups uncooked farfalle - I use whole wheat rotini
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1. Preheat oven to 450°.
    • 2. Pierce sausage several times with a knife. Combine sausage, cauliflower, and 1 tablespoon oil in a small roasting pan; toss. Sprinkle evenly with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes. Add garlic to pan; toss. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until sausage is done. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut sausage crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
    • 3. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain, reserving 2 tablespoons pasta cooking water. I just use the lid of the saucepan to help drain, which leaves a little pasta water.  Combine pasta, reserved cooking water, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and crushed red pepper in a large bowl; toss. Add cauliflower mixture, sausage, and cheese; toss gently to combine. Sprinkle with black pepper.
    • Serves 4-5

Monday, May 23, 2011

Saturday Night Pizza - BBQ Chicken and Mushroom with Arugula

This weekend marks the one year anniversary of our move to this house.  I can't believe it!  It's certainly been quite a year.  While there are advantages (free reign to decorate how I want, plenty of space, our own yard and wonderful porch) and disadvantages (replacing the water heater, the prospect of paying a mortgage for the next 30 years, the mysterious scratching noise in the attic) to owning a home in the suburbs as opposed to renting an apartment in the city, one of the things that has significantly changed are our weekend activities.  Back in the day, we would go out to eat at one of the many fantastic restaurants a few steps from our apartment.  Now, although the suburbs do have some good dining out options, we usually find ourselves cooking at home.

If you've been reading for a while, you know that homemade pizza is one of our favorite weekend dinners.  It's great to cook together - even when one of the cooks is kind of bossy like me.

As usual, we went with the tried and true Whole Wheat Pizza Dough.  Step by step directions here.  I start the dough in the morning, it really only takes a few hours to come together.  It can also be made a day in advance, just refrigerate and bring to room temperature before rolling.  We make two thin crust pizzas, which results in a lot of leftovers.  I love leftover pizza, but if you are just cooking for two people who don't want to eat pizza for the next three meals, you can put half the dough in the freezer and you'll be ready for next time!  Alternatively, you can find fresh pizza dough at most markets now, check in the prepared food section near those sandwiches no one buys.

I confess I usually shy away from mushrooms. I think it's because of bad experiences with slimy button mushrooms that have been overcooked.  In reality, mushrooms are great, and I'm so glad I tried this pizza because it was delicious!  The combination of the earthy mushrooms, salty feta, creamy mozzarella, and spicy arugula was a winner.

Magic Mushroom Pizza
adapted from Shape Magazine

3 cups mushrooms, thinly sliced (I used three Portabellas)
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 garlic clove minced (I omitted because I'm out of garlic)
pinch dried red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
salt and pepper
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup crumbled feta
3 cups arugula
pizza dough

Preheat pizza stone in oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium bowl, combine the mushrooms, parsley, garlic, red pepper, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and vinegar.  Allow to marinate while you roll dough.
Spread mushroom mixture over prepared dough, sprinkle with mozzarella and feta cheese.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges of the crust are golden brown and slightly crispy.
Toss arugula with oil and vinegar (you can use the same bowl you mixed the mushrooms in).
Serve pizza topped with arugula.

Barbecue Chicken Pizza

1 pound chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into small pieces
canola oil
1/2-1 cup barbecue sauce (I used Stubb's)
3 slices bacon, cooked
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2-3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2-3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (we like our cheese, so you can use your judgement here)
pizza dough

In a frying pan, heat oil over medium heat.  Saute chicken until fully cooked.  You can also poach the chicken in boiling water, but I don't like the way that looks.  Toss cooked chicken in barbecue sauce and allow to marinate for a few minutes.
Top the pizza crust with chicken, remaining sauce (or tons of sauce if Jon is cooking - I take no responsibility for this), sliced onion and crumbled bacon.
Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 10-12 minutes.
Allow to cool slightly before slicing, barbecue sauce gets hot!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Blueberry Pancake Oatmeal

It is no secret that I love pancakes.  Blueberry, strawberry, banana, chocolate chip - all pancakes are good in my book.  While pancakes are a frequent menu item on weekend mornings around our house, it's hard to justify filling up with flour, butter and sugar on a weekday.  Not exactly a breakfast of champions to give you energy.  Yesterday I had a major craving for blueberry pancakes, and came up with this oatmeal bowl as a slightly healthier alternative.  If you read any of the "healthy living blogs," oatmeal is no new thing to you, but I feel like it's sometimes forgotten and considered an unglamorous breakfast (I'm not sure what a glamorous breakfast is).  Old fashioned oats have many great benefits.  They come in that old school canister, they are full of fiber, and have a low glycemic index, which means you digest them slowly and your blood sugar remains steady.  Instant oats, while convenient, taste like glue, so if you have the time, go old fashioned.

Blueberry Pancake Oatmeal
serves 1
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
1 banana
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
Maple Syrup

In a saucepan, bring water and milk to a gentle boil.  Add in oats and banana and stir frequently until liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.  Top with blueberries (mine were frozen) and a drizzle of maple syrup.  A decadent breakfast that will keep you full!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Caprese Panzanella with Chickpeas

You've seen variations on both caprese and panzanella here before.  They are favorites around our house.  Today's salad included pesto coated chickpeas for a little variation, and a little protein to make it a meal.  Panzanella is one of my favorite ways to use up stale bread, right up there with french toast.

Caprese Panzanella with Chickpeas
1/2 loaf french baguette (or really any bakery bread), cut into bite size cubes
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas)
1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half
8 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes
1/4 cup pesto
olive oil
vinegar (I used red wine, balsamic works, too)

Lightly toss bread cubes in olive oil.  Toast in a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together chickpeas and pesto.

Add in tomatoes and mozzarella.

Mix in bread cubes.  Drizzle with a little vinegar.  I really like vinegar, so I'm usually pretty liberal with my pour here, but you can skip it altogether if you'd rather.  A vinaigrette salad dressing would work, as well.

Serve on it's own or over a bed of lettuce.  

Monday, May 16, 2011

Broccoli Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce

I thought I had a fridge full of vegetables ready to go into a stir fry.  When I actually took a look, it turned out to be mostly broccoli, but broccoli is good stuff, so broccoli stir fry it is.  As with any stir fry recipe I share with you, all the ingredients and amounts are customizable to your tastes or what you have available. It's all about creating a mixture of vegetables (and meat if you're into that), a savory sauce, and some grain to serve it over.

Broccoli Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce
2 bunches broccoli, cut into florets (about 3 cups)
1/4 bell pepper, sliced (I thought I had more, but no)
1 onion, sliced
2-3 carrots, cut into matchstick slices
1-2 teaspoons canola oil
any other vegetable you like - celery, mushrooms, bok choy, whatever
spaghetti, soba noodles, any kind of noodle or rice

Peanut Sauce
1/4 cup peanut butter (I used crunchy)
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon each sesame oil, mirin, and rice wine vinegar
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chili paste, depending on your spicy tolerance

In a saute pan or wok, lightly steam the broccoli until crisp tender.  I used a saute pan with a lid.

Remove steamed broccoli and heat up canola oil over medium.  Add in remaining vegetables and cook quickly just to slightly soften.  You want your vegetables to stay somewhat crisp, but not raw.

In a small saucepan (or just in the microwave), gently heat peanut butter until liquidy.  Add in remaining sauce ingredients and stir well.  As a side note, I really like crunchy peanut butter as a sauce base for stir fry.  The little peanut bits add a nice texture to the sauce.  Alternatively, try sprinkling the finished dish with a few chopped peanuts.

Return broccoli to the pan and add in the sauce.  Turn heat off and mix to coat.

Either mix noodles in with the vegetables or serve alongside.
Garnish with sesame seeds, if desired.  Add sriracha if it's not hot enough for you.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Apple and Cranberry Quinoa with Chickpeas

If you've been reading for a few months, a form of this quinoa may look familiar to you from back in February.  For that meal, we had it as a side dish, but today I changed it up a bit, and added some protein in the form of chickpeas to make it a light meal.  

Apple and Cranberry Quinoa with Chickpeas
adapted from Oh She Glows

1 cup uncooked quinoa, washed well
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup diced carrot
2 cups vegetable broth or water
1/4-1/2 tsp kosher salt, to taste
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups diced Granny Smith apple, not peeled (one large apple)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
black pepper, to taste


Rinse your quinoa.  Don't skip this step!  For reasons I can't recall right now, it's very important.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in pan over medium heat. 
Add chopped onion and carrots and sauté until the onion is translucent. 
Add broth, quinoa, chickpeas, salt, pepper and cinnamon and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and let sit for 20 minutes or until liquid is gone. 
In the last minute or so (or if it's all done that's ok too), stir in the apple and cranberries.  

Serve hot, cold or room temperature.  I put a scoop over lettuce, sprinkled with sliced almonds and drizzled with balsamic.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

Deconstructed Lasagna - Pizzagna

This pasta bake has all the components of traditional lasagna: noodles, tomato sauce, meat, onions, garlic, ricotta and mozzarella cheese.  Instead of layering, it's all just tossed together and sprinkled with cheese, a much easier and quicker dish.

One night this Fall I was eating dinner with my then-4 year old nephew and he was a little wary of it, as 4 year olds tend to be.  We described it to him as a combination of pizza and lasagna.  He said, I don't know if I like pizzagna, and then ate most of it.

Not-Lasagna Pasta Bake or Pizzagna

olive oil
1 pound ground turkey, chicken or beef - I used ground turkey
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
2 cups uncooked pasta (I used rotini)
1/4-1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2-1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

In a large saute pan or soup pot (something with at least 2 inch sides), heat a little olive oil and brown the ground meat.  When browned, transfer the meat to a colander to drain and wipe out the pan (no need to fully wash it, it's all going back in eventually).
Heat a Tablespoon of olive oil in the pan over medium heat and add the onion and saute for 2-3 minutes.  Add the garlic, cook one minute more.  Stir in the crushed tomatoes and spices and allow to simmer for a few minutes to blend the flavors.

Bring your water to a boil, add the pasta and cook until just barely al dente.  You'll be baking the final dish, so the pasta will continue to cook in the sauce.
Stir ground meat back into the tomato sauce, and add the pasta when ready.

Stir in ricotta cheese and pour into a baking dish.

Top with mozzarella cheese and bake in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Smoothie of the Day

This should actually be the smoothie of the week, because I ate it for breakfast five days in a row.  It's refreshing, and the tropical flavors are a delicious combination.

It used to seem that unless you had access to Trader Joe's, the frozen fruit selection at the market was primarily strawberries, blueberries, and the occasional raspberry.  While those are all great, it restricts smoothie recipes a bit.  Now, even at the regular grocery store, you can find everything from cherries, peaches, pineapple, even mango in the frozen fruit section.  Frozen fruit makes the best smoothies, because blending it results in a thick and frothy drink without the addition of ice cubes.  Of course, you can freeze fresh fruit yourself, which I often do whenever things are getting a little soft in the fruit bowl.

This smoothie was a combination of fresh banana, frozen peach, frozen pineapple, and lowfat milk.  So good I photographed it two days in a row.

Cup from Quonochontaug Central Beach circa 2008 - it's almost summer!

Cup from Tervis Tumblers - ideal if you have a problem with sticking coasters in the summer.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Minestrone Soup

I apologize for the inconsistency in my blogging lately.  I've been feeling a bit off, and as a result, my cooking isn't very adventurous or interesting.  We still need recipes for off days, though, and this soup has been my go-to all week.

Minestrone Soup
1 onion, chopped
2 small zucchini, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
2 cups chickpeas (any bean will do)
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes with liquid
28 oz. water or vegetable broth

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot.
Chop and drop the vegetables into the pot- onion through garlic.  Cook for about 3-5 minutes.

Add in the spices and cook one minute more.
Add in the chickpeas, diced tomatoes and water or broth.
Cover, bring to a boil, reduce and simmer for 20 minutes.

A quick, easy, healthy meal in no time.  If you need extra comfort, pair it with grilled cheese.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Seis de Mayo

I know you are all probably Mexican-fooded-out after yesterday (is that even possible?), but I'll share a few more ideas.

At the recent request of one of my friends, I have been working on making queso dip that does not involve fluorescent, processed cheese.  Searching online led to a lot of dead ends with the dreaded velveeta, so I went with a very simple creamy cheese sauce with a kick.

Easy Queso Dip
4 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded cheese - I used a Mexican four cheese blend.  A cheddar jack mix would work as well. It's important to have some blend that includes an easy melting cheese, all cheddar will give it a grainy texture.
1/4 cup salsa - I used hot
hot sauce, for topping

In a saucepan over medium low heat, soften the cream cheese with a couple Tablespoons of milk.
When mixture is melted and creamy, slowly add the cheese, stirring well.
Add milk, one Tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency.
Stir in salsa and mix well.
Top with hot sauce and serve with tortilla chips.

I was not on my game yesterday.  I did not plan an elaborate Mexican meal.  Instead I tried to go to my eye doctor appointment at the wrong office, and forgot my glasses and contact case.  By the time I got home, I wanted a supper that came together quickly and easily.

This is just a simple black bean and brown rice bowl (the perfect complete protein combo), topped with tomato, mango, avocado, a squeeze of lime, and a sprinkle of cheese.  Served with chips for scooping, it hit the spot.  

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Steakhouse Sides

A couple years ago we were out to dinner and Jon had a loaded baked potato along with his steak.  It was huge, topped with all the good stuff: bacon, cheese, scallions and sour cream.  He's been talking about it ever since, so I knew I would make it for the birthday dinner, with my own twist.

Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes
russet potatoes, scrubbed (I baked two so we could have leftovers.  No one is going to eat more than one half of these at a time.)
olive oil
kosher salt
cheddar cheese
sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prick potatoes with a fork several times.
Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.
Bake for about an hour, or until the skin is crispy and the inside is soft.
Allow to cool until you can handle the potato.
Cut in half and scoop flesh into a bowl.
Add milk, sour cream or greek yogurt, and stir until creamy.  I used milk.  Season with salt and pepper.
Refill potato skins with mashed filling, top with 1/4-1/2 cup of cheese and bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbling.
Top with crispy crumbled bacon, chopped scallions and a dollop of sour cream for serving.

Roasted Asparagus
Roasted asparagus is a favorite around our house.  Simply, fresh asparagus spears drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper and roasted at 400 degrees until lightly browned at the tips.

Side note: My filet was grilled perfectly.  This meal was as good as any we've had at a fancy steakhouse.  Now we just need to tackle steak au poivre.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Blueberry Pie

Yesterday was Jon's birthday, so a few of the recipes this week will be parts of his birthday dinner.  Instead of our usual tradition of going to a fancy steak house, this year we bought fancy steaks to cook on the new grill!  The birthday boy came up with the menu, and blueberry pie was his request for dessert.  

Making pie crust from scratch is not hard.  It really only takes a few minutes in the food processor.  It's a little more time consuming by hand, but still not difficult.  And if you read the ingredients on refrigerated pie dough at the market, you may find even more incentive to make your own.  

Normally, even when I use someone else's ingredient list, I give my own version of the directions.  You don't mess with the baking queen herself, though, so I'll give you Martha's instructions straight.  With my comments in italics. 

Pate Brisee (Pie Crust)
recipe from Martha Stewart


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small
  • 1/4 cup ice water, plus more if needed


In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt; pulse to combine. Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 10 seconds. (To mix by hand, combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then cut in butter with a pastry blender or two forks.)

With machine running, add ice water through feed tube in a slow, steady stream, just until dough holds together without being wet or sticky. Do not process more than 30 seconds. Test by squeezing a small amount of dough together; if it is still too crumbly, add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Turn out dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half, and place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into flattened disks. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.

Blueberry Pie
recipe from Martha Stewart


  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • Pate Brisee
  • 8 cups (about 4 pints) blueberries, picked over - I used my special frozen Maine blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream


On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, roll out one disk of dough to a 12-inch round. With a dry pastry brush, sweep off excess flour; fit dough into a 9-inch glass pie plate, pressing it into edges. Trim dough to a 1/2-inch overhang all around. Fold edge of dough over or under, and crimp as desired. Roll out remaining dough in the same manner; transfer dough (on parchment) to a baking sheet. Chill pie shell and dough until firm, about 30 minutes.

Ann comments: Rolling out dough can be challenging sometimes.  You go through a stage when you think it couldn't possibly ever be big enough for your pie plate, but persevere.  I also frequently end up with cracks along the edges that need to be pinched together to repair.  It's rustic.  I decided to attempt a lattice top crust for the first time.  I just used a paring knife to cut strips of the rolled dough, and wove them together on parchment paper.  It wasn't too hard, but next time I'll make thinner strips so there are more.  

Place blueberries in a large bowl; with your hands, crush about 1/2 cup of berries, letting them fall into the bowl as you work. Add sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice; stir to combine. 

Spoon mixture into chilled pie shell, mounding berries slightly in the center. Dot with butter. Remove dough from refrigerator, and place over blueberry filling. 

Tuck edge of top dough between edge of bottom dough and rim of pan. Using your fingers, gently press both layers of dough along the edge to seal, and crimp as desired.  Or, try to make the edges of your lattice look remotely presentable.

Using a paring knife, cut several vents in top of dough to allow steam to escape. Not required if you do a lattice crust.  In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and cream. Brush surface with egg wash, being careful not to let it pool. I skipped the egg wash step, and you can see my finished pie didn't have a glossy golden finish.  Next time I'll be sure to include the egg wash.  Freeze or refrigerate pie until firm, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees, with rack in lower third.

Place pie on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until crust begins to turn golden, about 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Continue baking, rotating sheet halfway through, until crust is deep golden brown and juices are bubbling and have thickened, 40 to 50 minutes more. Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool completely. The pie is best eaten the day it is baked, but it can be kept at room temperature, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.

Amazing with vanilla ice cream.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

As you probably know by now, in addition to Swedish Meatballs, tacos are Jon's favorite food.  Every week when I ask what he wants for dinner, he says one of those two things.  While I always aim to please, I'm not going to make tacos every week.  I will, however, make every possible variation on tortilla, filling, cheese, spices I can think of.

These were very good.  I used green chilis instead of pickled jalapenos because I was thinking I didn't want it to be extra spicy.  Then I realized that was crazy and added the habanero spice to the mix.  This made a little bit extra filling than would fit in the dish, so I ate it on the side.  If you want to portion things a bit better, I recommend cutting down the sweet potato quantity, or using slightly larger tortillas.  Mine were about 8 inches in diameter.

These could easily be made vegan by skipping the cheese or offering it on the side.  Also, I need to figure out how to make my own enchilada sauce, because the canned stuff is full of sugar.  When I want extra sugar, it better be in a cookie.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

1 medium onion, chopped
2 small, or 1 large clove garlic
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 pounds sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 4.25 oz. can green chilis or jalapenos
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons coriander
1/2 teaspoon habanero or cayenne
10 oz. can enchilada sauce
6 whole wheat tortillas
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Steam sweet potatoes over boiling water for about 7 minutes, or until tender.
Chop onion and garlic and saute in canola oil over medium low heat until softened.  
Add black beans and spices and cook for a few minutes until fragrant.
If your chilis are chopped, drain and add them to the pan.  If they are whole, drain and then chop before adding.
Mix in sweet potatoes after steaming.  
Pour a small amount of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a baking dish.  Just enough to prevent the tortillas from sticking.
I set up a little assembly line with my sweet potato and black bean mixture, tortillas, and baking dish.  Portion out about 3/4 cup filling, roll, and place seam side down in the dish.
Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the top, sprinkle with cheese, and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Serve topped with hot sauce and a dollop of sour cream.

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