Food

Happy Pi Day!

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Ok, not exactly A pie, but then again, pie isn’t exactly pi, so let’s dispense with technicalities, and say it’s a wedge, from a circle, which is from whither pi derives. (You’ve caught on by now that no mathematician am I!)

What I offer you here, my pi and pie loving friends, are hand pies. No more mess, or (in my house) arguments over whether someone is dipping inside the un-cut portion of the pie to pull out more filling than they deserve.

These are flakey, buttery, fruit-filled, wedge shaped, hand-held treats of deliciousness!

Ingredients:

BLACKBERRY FILLING:

  • 2 cups of cleaned blackberries, fresh or frozen

  • 1/2 cup of sugar

  • 2 Tablespoons of corn starch

  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice

  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

PASTRY CRUST:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 Tablespoon sugar

  • 1/2 tablespoon Salt

  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

  • 1 egg lightly beaten with 2 teaspoons of water

LEMON GLAZE

  • 1 cup powdered sugar

  • 3-4 Tablespoons of cream (half and half or milk will do)

  • 3-4 Tablespoons of lemon juice

  • Zest of 1/2 lemon

Directions:

  1. In a medium sized saucepan, combine blackberries, sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until well combined and blackberries are hot and releasing juices.

  2. Crush blackberries in the saucepan with a potato masher.

  3. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil by increasing heat to medium-high. Boil and stir for approximately 3 minutes, then remove from heat.

  4. Add vanilla extract, and continue to stir until saucepan has cooled enough that mixture will not burn.

  5. Set aside.

PASTRY CRUST:

  1. Pulse flour, sugar, and salt together in a food processor, or mix well in a large bowl.

  2. Add chopped, cold butter and continue to pulse until coarse crumbs form - or use pastry knife.

  3. Turn dough out onto clean, floured surface and dust with a little more flour.

  4. Kneed, adding a little flour if needed, or scant cold water, until smooth and no longer sticky.

  5. Flatten the dough, then fold, flatten, fold, several times - this creates the desired “flakiness.”

  6. Divide the dough in half, roll into balls. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

  7. Turn cooled dough onto a clean, floured surface, and use a rolling pin to roll each ball into an 8” circle.

  8. Place one circle on top the other, then use a pizza cutter to cut into 8 double layer pie wedges.

  9. Working with a top and bottom pastry layer at a time, separate, brush the edges of each with egg/water mixture, place 1-2 heaping tablespoons of filling in the center of the bottom layer, then cover with the matching top layer of pastry.

  10. Crimp the edges with a fork to seal and place on parchment covered backing sheet.

  11. Repeat for all 8 wedges.

  12. Brush tops with remaining egg/water mixture

  13. Back at 400 degrees for approx 20 minutes, until edges begin to turn golden brown.

  14. Cool completely

LEMON GLAZE

  1. In medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, cream, lemon juice, and lemon zest.

  2. Drizzle over cooled hand pies.

  3. Let the glaze set (15-30 minutes) before serving.

Notes:

Make filling and dough a day ahead and refrigerate. This breaks the process up, and helps things to move along more quickly the day of assembly and baking (especially if you have little helpers, like I usually do!)

Hi-Octane Breakfast Muffins

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This breakfast muffin recipe comes from my friend, Chris, a teacher who needs to fuel up before she starts her day in the classroom. Her hubby, a hard-working construction manager, says they keep him satisfied all morning long. We can all use that kind of fulfillment!

Little muffins packed full of healthful ingredients; seeds, nuts, fruits and veggies, these are truly hi-octane!

There are a LOT of ingredients, so I think it would be a fun recipe to try out with an equally busy friend or neighbor. Shop together and split the cost of the ingredients, then spend a fun afternoon or evening mixing and baking up your healthful breakfast bites for the days (or weeks) ahead.

With so many bodies under my roof, I’d double or triple the recipe, and think about freezing them for those mornings I can’t make breakfast. I say THINK because I know they’d be gone in a flash, even before they got to the freezer!

These are tasty, with the perfect mix of sweet and savory, and the right combo of soft and chewy. Enjoy!!

Ingredients:

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  • 2 cups multi-grain flour

  • 3/4 cup sugar

  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut

  • 1 1/2 - 2 cup dried fruit bits

    • ( Choose 3-4 of your favorites and use a half cup of each: raisins, craisins, dried blueberries, cherries, apricots, dates, figs, etc.)

  • 2 cups carrots, grated

  • 3/4 cup low-sugar apple sauce ( or one medium apple, shredded)

  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

  • 1/4 cup chia seeds

  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds

  • 3 eggs

  • 2/3 cup coconut oil (vegetable or olive oil also work)

  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Mix together.

  3. Add all the dried fruit, coconut, seeds, carrots and applesauce. Stir well to combine mixture.

  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with coconut oil and vanilla extract.

  5. Add the egg and oil combination to the dry mixture in the large bowl and stir to combine well so that all ingredients are evenly mixed.

  6. Spray about 12 standard cupcake tins or about 16 smaller muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray, or use paper liners. Fill to heaping.

  7. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, until tops are browned well.

Have one or two for breakfast and start your day off on the right foot, fully fueled, for what’s to come, with these hi-octane muffins!

Game Day (Any Day) Pretzel Rolls

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A batch of delicious, fluffy, salty topped, pretzel rolls recently made their way into the studio kitchen/break room.

If there are pillows in heaven, they’re made from pretzel rolls… well, maybe not pillows, the tops are rather firm, perhaps stadium cushions then? Yes, stadium cushions in heaven are definitely made of pretzel rolls. lol.

So add these pretzel rolls to your offensive line-up for January play-off games and well beyond. They’ll go perfectly with any soup, chili, or stew, next to a leafy green salad, and paired with innumerable main dishes.

Don’t let the three stages of directions for the rolls daunt your enthusiasm, it’s a relatively easy process, but a written explanation can seem a bit overly-involved. It’s not.

Have fun and enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 3 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon flour

  • 1 envelope (1/4 ounce) fact-acting yeast

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • 3 tablespoons baking soda

  • coarse sea salt

Directions:

1st Stage:

  1. Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the warm water and melted, cooled, butter. Add to the flour mixture and mix with the dough hooks until well combined. If dough is too sticky, add more flour. Transfer the dough to a work surface kneading and punching-down until a smooth and elastic ball of dough.

  3. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with a tea towel, and let rise in a warm place, or 100°F (35°C) warm oven, for 60 minutes until doubled in size.

  4. When the dough has doubled, punch it down, return to work surface, and knead for about 30 seconds.

  5. Divide dough into 10 equal (roughly 3-ounce) portions. Dust your hands with flour, roll dough for about 10 seconds until round and firm. This process creates surface tension and prevents the buns from becoming flat. Continue with the remaining dough, then cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for about 20 minutes or until puffy.

  6. Preheat the oven to 425°F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2nd Stage:

  1. In a large wide pot, bring 4¼ cups of water and baking soda to a boil. (Careful, it will foam up!) With a slotted spoon or ladle, slip two rolls into the boiling water and cook for 30 seconds, turn them over, and cook for another 30 seconds. Make sure they are not sticking to the bottom!

  2. Transfer the rolls to the lined baking sheets, score the tops, and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.

  3. Repeat for all rolls, then place them onto baking sheets.

3rd Stage:

  1. Bake, one sheet at a time, for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

  2. Eat warm with butter, or store in a sealed bag or container for up to one week.

Pasta with Gorgonzola Cheese and Roasted Cauliflower

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My nephew, Dalton (sister’s son), and niece, Laurel, (brother’s daughter), got together on Christmas eve and cooked up this “boujee” (their description!) version of my favorite dish - mac’n cheese.

Tender roasted cauliflower florets, Gorgonzola cheese, and the organic pasta they used, sets this apart from my typical elbow macaroni and cheddar dish, and make it special enough to serve at any dinner party of distinction. It’s versatile enough to use as a vegetarian main, or a side. (Perhaps to a halibut filet?)

Dalton and Laurel, a very Cousin Christmas!

Dalton and Laurel, a very Cousin Christmas!

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets (less than an inch)

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • ¾ teaspoon

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 large leeks, halved and thinly sliced

  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

  • 8 ounces pasta like farfalle, bowtie, or fusilli

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

  • 6 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

  • chives for serving

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

  2. In a large bowl, toss cauliflower, leeks, and garlic with olive oil, salt and 3-4 twists of freshly ground black pepper. Spread in a single layer onto a baking sheet or roulade pan and bake for about 35-40 minutes until cauliflower is tender and all veggies are caramelized.

  3. Cook pasta in large stock pot of salted boiling water - remove from heat just BEFORE it is al dente. Remove about 1 cup of the water - set aside, then drain the pot.

  4. Return the pasta to the pot, add the butter, Gorgonzola, a few more twists of the black pepper and 1/2 cup pasta water. Stir thoroughly until cheese is melted and evenly distributed.

  5. Add the roasted florets. leeks, and garlic to the pasta, then season with additional salt and pepper (if desired). If it is too dry, add more of the reserved pasta water.

  6. Dish into shallow serving bowls and garnish with chopped chives. Serve it up warm and delicious!

After carefully taste-testing and much discussion, our two burgeoning chefs decided it could be made even a little more extra by adding crab or lobster to the mix. I have to agree.

Take Comfort | Chicken & Green Chili Soup

The ravages of winter weather have affected much of the country. Whether it’s wind, rain, snow, sleet, or hail, unless you live in a southern state, you know it’s winter!

No kind of food brings me comfort as much as a hearty bowl of soup. This recipe, which calls for chicken (try it with turkey too) and chopped green chili’s, is Mmm Mmm good, and guaranteed both nourish and to you from the inside out!

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons butter

  • 3 cups Anaheim or Hatch green chili peppers, chopped

  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped

  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/4 cup of flour

  • 5 cups chicken broth

  • 1 can (19 oz) green enchilada sauce

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

  • 3 cups cooked chicken (or turkey,) chopped

  • 1 cup carrot, chopped or use the whole, small, peeled kind

  • 1 can (15oz) black beans (pinto, cannelloni, or red beans work equally well) drained and rinsed.

  • 1 can (15oz) whole kernel corn

  • 1 can (15oz) diced tomatoes

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in large stock pot over medium heat. Add chopped peppers, onions, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and onions are translucent.

  2. Add flour, and stir to coat the mixture well. Add chicken broth, enchilada sauce, and cayenne pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil and add chicken, carrots, beans, corn, and diced tomato.

  3. Reduce temperature to Medium and continue to cook for approximately 20 minutes (until carrots are tender.)

  4. Serve hot. (Add a dollop of sour cream or guac if you like!)

This is a super delicious meal all by itself, but made even heartier with the addition of a slice of Cheesy Jalepeño Loaf (which I conveniently linked to for you!) But only if you’re not actively avoiding carbs, like I am right now…

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Balsamic-Honey Glaze

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My oldest son hosted our Thanksgiving dinner this year. Well, what I really mean to say is that my daughter-in-law hosted Thanksgiving dinner this year.

While Isaiah works hard to provide for his family, so does Riely, and let’s face it, she’s the one that does the majority of the holiday prep.

Nearly 40 guests were invited into their gorgeous new home, where we feasted on not one, but two, delicious smoked turkeys. I brought the mashed potatoes and pumpkin dump cake; all other the sides, salads, and desserts were provided by the rest of the grateful guests.

The roasted Brussel sprouts with a balsamic-honey glaze were a stand out!

Ingredients:

  • 2lbs Brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved.

  • 1/4 cup Olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon each:

    • garlic powder

    • thyme

    • oregano

    • paprika

    • black pepper, and

    • sea salt

  • Glaze

    • 1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar

    • 1/4 cup Honey

Directions:

  1. Place prepared Brussel sprouts in a large bowl, toss with olive oil and seasonings until evenly coated (add or subtract seasonings as you desire, you know me, I use recipes as guides!)

  2. Spread seasoned sprouts on a shallow baking pan and place in preheated 425 degree oven.

  3. Meanwhile - combine vinegar and honey in saucepan and heat until mixture begins to reduce and thicken.

  4. Roast sprouts until tender and some have begun to blacken - about 25-30 minutes, turning occasionally.

  5. Remove from oven, drizzle glaze over the top, stir to coat and return to oven for approximately 5 more minutes.

  6. Serve hot.

  7. Add cooked bacon or sausage crumbles to the roasting mixture if desired.

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Even the kids gobbled these tasty little morsels up! They are super easy to prepare and a nutritious side to any family meal, but fancy enough to serve at your holiday dinner party!

(If you’re as lucky as me, after dinner you’ll get a live musical performance! Because, while my son may not be a domestic wonder, he - and our good friend Sharif - can sure play guitar and sing!)

Enjoy!