Sunday, July 9, 2017

Blueberry Pie

I really wanted to make a fun dessert for the Fourth of July, something cutesy and patriotic looking, so I checked the Internet for ideas. There were lots of great things, but I did not have all ingredients that I needed for the cutesy cupcakes I had in mind.  I had a lot of blueberries in the fridge, and after searching for some blueberry recipes, I decided blueberry pie with homemade vanilla ice cream would be the perfect summer holiday treat. I was so right! We had my parents over for dessert and everyone agreed that the pie was incredible. The filling was just the right amount of sweet and tart, the crust was flaky and buttery, and the homemade vanilla ice cream put it over the top! I put a cherry on top too because ice cream should always have a cherry on top (and it kind of made it red, white, and blue)! I was a little nervous about doing a homemade pie crust as I always am, but even more so because it was my first time doing a double pie crust. I had nothing to fear, everything worked out in the end and this pie was better than anything you could ever buy. We decided that this would become a tradition, so for now on, I'll be making a blueberry pie every Independence Day (and hopefully more often than just once a year, too)! Enjoy.

Recipe for Blueberry Pie

For the double layer crust
2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoon of granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks (16 Tablespoons) of very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
6 Tablespoon very cold water

For the blueberry filling
4 1/2 cups of fresh blueberries
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
3 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 tsp. of lemon zest
1/4 tsp. of cinnamon
1 Tablespoon butter, cut into small pieces

1 egg (for the egg wash)
1 Tablespoon of water (for the egg wash)

For the double layer pie crust
You will make two dough recipes. In the bowl of a food processor, put in 1 1/4 cups flour, 1 Tablespoon sugar, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Pulse to combine. Add in the pieces of chilled butter from one stick of butter. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse sand and the butter is the size of peas or smaller. With the food processor running, slowly pour in a couple tablespoons of the water. Add in more as needed and stop the processor when the dough begins to leave the sides of the bowl and comes together.  Remove from the bowl of the food processor, shape into a ball, and wrap in saran wrap or put into a ziploc bag. Put in the fridge for 30 minutes. Repeat this process with the remaining flour, sugar, salt, butter, and water to make the second batch of pie dough.

Take dough out of fridge. Use a rolling pin to roll out one of the doughs into a thin round on a lightly floured work  surface. Place into a slightly greased 9-inch pie pan and then trim the excess. You will roll out the other dough round after making the filling.

For the blueberry filling
Put the blueberries into a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice. In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch, lemon zest, sugar, and cinnamon. Pour over the blueberries and stir to incorporate. Pour the blueberry mixture into the pie plate with the dough. Scatter the small butter pieces from the one Tablespoon of butter on top.
Roll out the other dough round and place it on top of the pie and trim any excess from the bottom and top, then crimp together to seal the edges. Then cut out small pieces from the top layer in order for steam to be able to escape during the baking. Place into fridge for 20 - 30 minutes before baking.

Position oven rack in lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Take pie out of the fridge. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and water. Brush it on top of the crust (you will not use all of the mixture). If desired, use strips of foil and fold them over the sides of the pie plate or use a pie crust shield in order to prevent the edges of the pie from burning.

Place in the oven and cook for 50 minutes. If using the foil, carefully remove the foil pieces after 40 minutes then continue to bake for 10 more minutes.

Remove from oven and allow it to cool on a cooling rack, 1 - 2 hours. Then serve at room temperature or you can reheat in oven at 325 degrees for about 10 minutes before serving.

Serve your pie with vanilla ice cream on top!

*Pie tastes great cold, too! Cover the pie with foil and refrigerate any leftovers.

Recipe serves 8.
Recipe Source: Annie's Eats originally from Williams Sonoma

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Overnight French Toast Casserole

I got a text message the other night from my friend across the  street asking to borrow vanilla extract. We have this relationship where we can pretty much ask to borrow anything from each other, which is awesome. I asked her what she was making, and she told me a french toast casserole to eat the next morning for breakfast. When I got the vanilla back, I asked her how it was, and she said it was pretty amazing. After she sent me the recipe, I decided to make it for a staff breakfast. It was so easy to make and so very delicious. I made it again last Friday for Greg to have for his Father's Day weekend full of good breakfasts and dinners. He loved it. We enjoyed it a couple mornings with strawberries and fresh whipped cream on the side. I loved how simple this was to make, and you will too! Enjoy.

Recipe for Overnight French Toast Casserole

One loaf sourdough bread (I used a loaf of Pepperidge Farm Farmhouse sourdough - discarded the heels, though)
7 eggs
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
1 TBSP pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
8 TBSP. of unsalted butter, well chilled and then cut into 1/2 TBSP pieces
Pure maple syrup, for serving (optional)

Grease a 9 X 13 baking pan well with butter. Cut bread into roughly 1-inch squares and layer evenly in pan. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, cream, sugars, and vanilla until well mixed. Pour evenly over the bread. Cover the pan and put into the fridge overnight.

In a smallish bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add in the chilled butter pieces and cut with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles fine pebbles. Put into an airtight container and put into the fridge overnight.

When ready to make the french toast casserole the next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove the baking pan and the sugar mixture from the fridge. Once the oven is heated, place the baking pan with the bread and egg mixture in oven for 7 minutes, then remove. Sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly over the top. Place back into oven and cook for another 35 - 40 minutes. Remove from oven, place on cooling rack and let it cool for about 10 minutes before serving. Cut into servings and drizzle each serving with pure maple syrup.

Makes approximately 12 servings. 
Recipe source: The Pioneer Woman

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Creamy Tomato Soup

I have been trying to eat healthy again lately. Someone I know (not well) asked me if I was pregnant a few weeks ago, so I decided I needed to start making some changes again to my diet. She obviously has no filter and I probably wasn't wearing the most flattering outfit, but I really did gain at least 5 pounds over the winter holiday. I have been using a few recipes from the The Oh She Glows vegan cookbook, and I am loving them. This vegan creamy tomato soup recipe is one of the recipes I have tried and loved.  I added feta cheese as a garnish (you can find vegan feta cheese if you want to try it) along with some kalamata olives. You can also leave the feta out and use croutons as a garnish. Greg and I both think that this soup is comfort food. The other day he was eating a bowl of it, and he said "this soup is off the hook!" I don't think I have ever heard Greg describe anything as being "off the hook."

Serve it with toasted and buttered/olive oil brushed french bread. It's delicious! Enjoy.

Recipe for Creamy Tomato Soup

1/2 cup of raw cashews, soaked in water for two hours
2 cups of vegetable broth
1 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil
A pinch or two of sugar (optional - if you choose to caramelize the onions)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 can of San Marzano peeled Italian plum tomatoes (28 - 32 ounces)
1 can of tomato paste (3 - 4 Tbsp.)
6 Tbsp. of sundried tomatoes in oil (with oil drained off)
1/2 tsp. of dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 to 3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. dried oregano
a pinch or two of cayenne pepper
chopped kalamata Olives
Feta (optional - for garnish- you can find vegan feta)
Crushed red pepper flakes

Drain the water out of the cashews. Place the cashews in a food processor or blender with the vegetable broth and puree until smooth. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add the onion and cook for 7 - 8 minutes, then add in the garlic and cook for an additional minute. *If desired, add a pinch of sugar in with the olive oil and onions and then cook for 15 minutes to lightly caramelize before adding in the garlic and cooking for one minute. Allow onion and garlic mixture to cool slightly. Add the plum tomatoes and their juices, tomato paste, sundried tomatoes, and slightly cooled onion mixture to the blender or food processor. Mix until smooth. Pour mixture into the pot that you cooked the onions and garlic in. Heat over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Stir in the oregano, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and thyme. Continue to simmer over medium heat for 20 - 25 minutes. Ladle soup into bowls. Top each with a tablespoon of feta cheese (vegan or regular), sliced kalamata olives, crushed red pepper flakes, freshly ground black pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil.
This soup gets more flavorful and taste even better leftover the next day! Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Makes approximately 6 servings.

Recipe Adapted from: The Oh She Glows Cookbook

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Chocolate Silk Pie

This year, I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time. For the last several years, Greg and I have talked a lot about how we do not think turkey needs to be a part of a Thanksgiving meal. Nobody really talks too much about the turkey, but everyone always raves about the sides. A couple years ago, we were going to host my parents, but we ended up going out of town at the last minute. That year, we decided we would serve salmon instead of turkey when we hosted Thanksgiving. This Thanksgiving, we served pan seared chicken, salmon, candied sweet potatoes, spinach salad, and brussel sprouts. My mother brought green beans, stuffing, rolls, and cranberry sauce. I felt like our meal did not weigh us down or make us tired, so we were able to go heavy on the dessert. Instead of making an apple pie or pumpkin pie, I went with this decadent chocolate silk pie. It was declared by my mother as the best pie she has ever had (in her 70 years of life), and my in-laws absolutely loved it. Wendy was in heaven when she got her small slice of pie. After each bite, she said, "It's really good, mommy!" It is that good. If you want a true chocolate treat, try this pie. This may not happen to everyone, but I seriously could feel the endorphins being released from my brain with every bite that I took. This chocolate silk pie tastes really good, and it might even make you feel really good, too! Enjoy.

Recipe for Chocolate Silk Pie 

Pie crust
1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. of granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. of kosher salt
1 stick of very cold butter, chopped into small chunks
3 - 4 Tbsp. of ice-cold water
For the chocolate filling 
1 cup of heavy whipping cream, chilled 
9 ounces of bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips)
3 eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. of water
1 stick (8 Tbsp.) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 Tbsp. of pure vanilla extract
Fresh whipped cream, for topping 
Chocolate shavings or ground chocolate, for topping (optional)

For the pie crust
Place the flour, salt, and sugar into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse briefly to just combine. Add in the very cold pieces of butter. Pulse several times until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs (about the size of peas). With the food processor running, slowly pour a tablespoon of the water through the feed tube. Continue to pour in more water, a tablespoon at a time. After you have poured in 3 tablespoons of water, add in the fourth tablespoon if the dough has not yet left the sides of the bowl. Allow the food processor to keep running until the dough completely leaves the sides of the bowl and forms into a ball. Carefully remove the dough from the food processor and wrap in saran wrap or seal in a plastic bag. Put into the refrigerator for 45 minutes. Roll cooled dough out into a 12 inch circle and put into a 9 inch pie pan. Trim and fold edges, then cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer for 30 minutes.
Adjust an oven rack to the lower middle position. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut a piece of parchment paper to place over the pie plate so it covers the plates edges. Fill with pie weights. Place in over and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, carefully remove the weights and parchment paper, and lower oven temperature to 350 degrees. Place the pie crust back into the oven and cook for another 8 - 10 minutes, watching carefully until crust is golden but don't let it burn. Allow to cool completely.

For the pie filling
Whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Place into an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. 
Melt the chocolate in a small saucepan over medium low heat. Remove from heat and set aside to cool to room temperature. Put the eggs, water, and sugar into a saucepan and gently stir together. Set over a pan of simmering water and use an electric hand mixer and mix on medium speed until the mixture is thickened and 160 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read thermometer (about 8- 10 minutes). Remove from heat and continue to mix on medium speed for about 8 more minutes (or until the mixture is cooled to room temperature and fluffy). Add the cooled chocolate into the egg mixture and mix on medium low speed until incorporated. Stir in the pure vanilla extract. Then add in the butter, one tablespoon at a time, blending well after each addition. Add in the whipped cream and use a spatula to gently fold in until there are no streaks. Spread the chocolate filling evenly into the prepared pie shell. Cover and place in the fridge to firm up before serving (at least 3 hours). Top with freshly whipped cream and chocolate. 
Recipe Source: Annie's Eats, which was slightly adapted from Cook's Illustrated Entertaining Spring 2011