Is it too late for one more festive cookie recipe?? I’m going to say no! I didn’t bake half as many treats as I normally do this year – life has just been crazy – but I did find time to make a few tried […]
- 1.5 # mixed nuts unsalted
- 1 egg white
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1.5 sp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp gr. cloves
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp butter
Preheat the oven to 285 F.
Cut the butter into small pieces and drop on a rimmed sheet pan. Place the pan in the oven for 3-4 minutes to melt the butter.
Meanwhile whisk all ingredients except the nuts in a medium glass bowl until well combined and slightly frothy. Pour in the nuts and use a spatula to stir until the nuts are evenly coated with the spice mixture.
Using the same spatula spread the butter around on the sheet tray until it is relatively evenly coated. Pour the nut mixture onto the buttered tray and use the spatula to smooth the nuts to a single layer.
Bake at 300 for 10 minutes. Take the tray out of the oven and stir the nuts. Rotate and put it back in for another 10mn.
Repeat this process 3 more times, or until the nuts have roasted about 40 minutes. They should feel dry when stirred around with the spatula at this point, and not wet like they were when you put them in the oven. Take the sheet pan out of the oven and allow to cool completely in a single layer before transferring to a large bowl!
The other night I had the strongest craving for chocolate. Like I’m talking, super intense. I didn’t just want any chocolate either, I wanted melt-in-your-mouth, ooey, gooey, sinfully delicious chocolate lava cakes! And thankfully, I have a go-to recipe that can make that exact thing, […]
I recently read a quote in one of my cooking magazines that couldn’t have rung more true. I don’t remember it word for word, but the general gist was, you can buy too many carrots and beets and have them get soft and wrinkly before it’s time to use them, you can buy too many fresh herbs, and have them wilt and turn brown before you get to them – but you can NEVER buy too much fruit!
It reminded me of the time, earlier this summer, when my mom gifted me with a big bowl of black raspberries. They were fragrant, sun ripened berries that she had just picked a day or two ago. I took them home, knowing that I was going to be working all week and wouldn’t have time to do anything with them. After feeding a few to William, I laid the rest out on a few sheet trays, froze them, and poured them into freezer safe bags. We’ve now been munching on delicious blackberries all summer long – putting them on ice cream, panna cotta, and cereal. Moral of the story: no matter how busy you are, or how unreasonable it might seem to buy ALL of the peaches at the farmers market…do it! You literally can’t go wrong with fruit!
As another example, I have a VERY productive rhubarb plant in my garden. I actually split it last year and it’s right back to it’s old size already, still producing like crazy even in August. Rhubarb freezes great, so I’ve been sticking bags of it in the freezer, but I’m also trying to use it in creative ways throughout the summer too. When we were driving through the Wisconsin countryside the other day, we saw a sign for fresh picked strawberries. We stopped (I told him if I could stop for strawberries he could stop for fireworks – it works every time!) and I grabbed a few quarts from the highschool kid manning the stand.
When we got home I realized that, between the strawberries I had gotten at whole foods the other day, the new additions, and the metric ton of rhubarb sitting on the counter, it was time I made something with strawberries and rhubarb!
I actually settled on jam first, since I had SO MUCH fruit, but as I got the fruit on the stove, I started to wonder what other creative things i might be able to do with it.
And so, rhubarb strawberry cream cheese hand pies were born.
These might sound complicated, as there are three separate elements, but I promise they all come together in a snap, and can all be made the day before, so that when you’re ready to cook, you can just roll out the dough and stuff! I use soy and dairy free creamed ‘cheese’ for these as a general rule, so that the whole family can enjoy them. Honestly, I can’t even taste a difference, it just adds that subtle richness. If, however you want to use ‘normal’ cream cheese, I’ve tried that too, and it’s delicious!
Make sure that you don’t skimp on refrigerating the pie dough, and that all of your ingredients are cool when you fill the pies. As long as you crimp them well around the edges with a fork, and don’t overstuff, these guys shouldn’t leak, and they can be reheated in the toaster the next day for a healthy(ish) morning snack!
If you don’t have an abundance of strawberries on hand, feel free to mix it up with another berry and sub apple for the rhubarb. One thing that is important to note: adding the whole half of a lemon is actually important for more than just taste. Since strawberries and rhubarb are relatively low in pectin (the stuff that makes the jam jell up) you need to add the citrus to encourage the pectin in the fruit to coagulate. Without it, the jam will not get as gelatinous, and makes for a runnier pie.
- 10 oz All Purpose Flour (about 1 3/4 cups)
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/2 cup Shortening (I used Spectrum Palm Shortening)
- 1 Egg
- 3 Tbsp Cold Water
- 1 Tbsp White Vinegar
- 1.5 Quart Strawberries, cored and halved
- 2 cups Rhubarb, cut into 1/2" pieces
- 3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
- 1/2 Medium Lemon
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 4 oz Cream Cheese (I used Diaya Dairy Free)
- 1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
- 1 tsp Vanilla
- 1 Egg, beaten
- 1/4 cup Turbinado Sugar
Whisk together the dry crust ingredients. In a 1 cup measuring cup whisk together the egg, water and vinegar.
Cut the shortening into the flour with a fork or two knives until the flour resembles course sand. Pour in the wet ingredients and stir to combine. If necessary add another tablespoon or two of water, just until the dough comes together.
Form the dough into a slightly flattened round and wrap in plastic. Place in the fridge to chill for at least one hour or overnight. (The jam and the crust can both be made in advance and then assembled the next day)
Put the strawberries and rhubarb into a 3 quart saucepan. Pour the sugar over them, stir briefly and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
While the mixture is sitting zest the lemon half, and then slice it into 3 equal rounds, discarding the end. Reserve 2 tsp of zest.
Stir the strawberry rhubarb mixture. There should be a substantial amount of juice in the bottom of the saucepan. Turn the heat to medium low and allow to cook for 15 - 20 minutes, or until the strawberries are mostly broken down. Add the lemon slices and continue to cook another 20 - 30 minutes or until the rhubarb is also broken down and the mixture has begun to thicken.
Once the mixture is thickened and bubbly, use the plate test to determine if it is done. Place a small plate in the freezer for at least 5 minutes. Take it out and spoon a teaspoon of rhubarb jam onto the plate. Draw your finger through the jam, dividing it in half. If the jam stays seperate it's ready, if it collapses back in on itself in a puddle allow it to cook for another 5 - 10 minutes and then try the test again.
Once the jam is done remove the lemon pieces and allow it to cool completely. This recipe makes enough to stuff the pies, plus have a quart jar left over. (it's delicious on toast!)
Beat the softened cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until well combined and creamy. Set aside.
Take the dough out of the fridge and allow it to set on the counter for 10 minutes.
While the dough is resting preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Set a bowl of the cream cheese filling and the rhubarb filling out. Either use a small scoop, or a tablespoon to portion the fillings.
Divide the pie dough in half. Working with one half at a time roll it out into a large rectangle about 1/4" thick. Use a pizza cutter to square off the edges, or leave them uneven for a rustic look.
Use a pizza cutter to divide the dough into four equal rectangles, cutting the dough the short way so that the rectangles are tall and skinny.
Put one tbsp of cream cheese in the bottom half of each rectangle of dough. Use a small spatula to spread it around the bottom half, leaving about 3/4 of an inch free of filling around the sides.
Add two tbsp of rhubarb mixture and spread it about the same way.
Take the top half of the dough rectangles and fold it over the bottom half with the filling. Use your fingers to firmly press the dough pieces together, then use a fork to crimp the edges.
Transfer the filled dough pockets to the prepared cookie sheet. Brush with egg and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until puffed and golden.
Repeat process with the second half of dough. Allow pies to cool before eating!
My all time favorite vegetable is a tomato.
OK, so it’s not a vegetable, but still, close enough! Every year I plant 4 or five hearty, heirloom varieties of tomatoes, starting them indoors in April, gently fostering their growth throughout the month, and then transplanting them to the soil in mid to late May when the ground is ready, and the threat of frost is gone.
I love the whole process of it. From when I first poke that little seed into the dirt, to the curling green stems, popping out of the planter, to the feeling of satisfaction when I move my tender young plants out to the garden and place them in the soil, ‘on their own.’
But the best part of the whole process by far, is in late August. The sun is at it’s peak, the heat and humidity are making my hair frizz…and the tomatoes are hanging heavy on the vine. Deep red, sometimes with streaks of green or yellow, sometimes even getting cracks in their deep juicy flesh when I don’t get out there in time (or forget to water them everyday…) But always delicious. I can pick those hearty, juicy fruits right off the vine and eat them like an apple. Honestly, there is nothing better than a sun warmed tomato fresh off the plant. It’s like a little slice of heaven. Store bought tomatoes don’t even taste like tomatoes after you’ve had the real thing!
One of my favorite ways to capture the delicious, concentrated flavor of late summer that is the tomato is through a quick tomato soup. The fewer ingredients the better with this soup, what I’m really trying to emphasize is the beauty of the tomato (both color and flavor) while complementing it with the bright taste of young leeks. Sometimes I’ll throw a hot pepper into the mix too if I’m feeling feisty, otherwise, just tomatoes, leeks, garlic, a pinch of s&p, a dash of cream and a sprinkle of basil on top is all it takes for a divine main course of tomato-y goodness. Whip up some grilled cheese (I use earth balance butter and follow your heart cheese to make them William-friendly..a.k.a soy and dairy free!) to go along side and you’ll have a kid friendly meal in less than 30 minutes!
- 3 # fresh, ripe tomatoes
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 leeks
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 5-6 leaves basil chiffonade
Bring a pot of water to a boil, making sure there is enough water to just barely cover the tomatoes.
Once it is boiling use a tongs and place one tomato at a time into the water. Leave submerged for 30 seconds or until the skin starts to slough off, and then take the tomato out and place the next one in, keeping the water boiling the whole time. Depending on the size of the tomato you may have to lengthen or shorten the time a bit.
Core and skin all the tomatoes and chop up roughly, set aside.
Thoroughly wash the leeks, slice thin, and throw into a preheated 3 quart saucepan with a dash of olive oil. Cook over high heat until the leeks get some color, and then turn down the heat to medium low. Chop up the garlic cloves and add to the pan (add any other add-ins at this point too). Cook until the leeks are very wilted, and almost starting to break down.
Throw the chopped tomatoes into the pan and stir them up. Using an immersion blender combine everything until desired consistency is reached. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can turn off the heat right before adding the tomatoes, add them, and then pour everything into a blender. Once blended return to pan and return heat to medium low.
Cook until soup is hot but not boiling. Stir in the cream, season to tast with salt and pepper, and serve immediately, topped with a sprinkle of basil.