Thursday, July 27, 2017

Avocado Pasta with Tomatoes and Bacon

This tasty dinner brings together the flavors of so many things that I just love so much. If you are looking for a new twist on your pasta, and you love avocados like I do, I recommend that you try out this avocado pasta dish. The avocado sauce is so simple to make, and you can really make it your own based on what flavors you like (and don't like). If you do not like onion, leave out the shallot. Add in more garlic or more basil if you want. You can also make this vegetarian by not adding in the bacon to the pasta or even vegan by also omitting the Parmesan cheese from the sauce. I first tried this recipe from the cookbook "Oh She Glows," which is all vegan recipes. We loved it. When I decided to make it again the other night, I was craving bacon and cheese, so I added those to the dish. We loved the meal even more this time! I made it for the third time for our lunch today, and we finished it off quickly. It is a meal that is done in less than 20 minutes from start to finish, and It tastes like summer with a side of bacon. Enjoy!

Recipe for Avocado Pasta with Tomatoes and Bacon

Makes 3 - 4 servings
6 pieces of bacon
6 ounces angel hair pasta
20 - 25 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
 2 ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small slices - for topping your pasta (optional)
For the avocado sauce
1 medium to large ripe avocado
2 Tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (or two cloves of garlic, chopped)
1 Tablespoon chopped shallot
4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 - 4 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese (plus extra for topping your pasta, if desired)
3 small spanish olives (optional)
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

Cook bacon according to package directions (I prefer baking method). While the bacon cooks, bring a pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. Reserve 1 tablespoon of bacon grease after it is finished cooking.  Cook pasta according to directions. Drain well then return to pot. Stir in the reserved bacon grease to the cooked pasta.

In a blender or food processor, add in the ingredients for the avocado sauce and blend until smooth. Scoop out the avocado sauce and add into the pot with the cooked pasta. Toss well. Divide pasta onto plates. Top each with chopped tomatoes, bacon pieces, extra grated Parmesan, and fresh mozzarella cheese. Drizzle the top with a little bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Eat immediately. Avocado does not save well, so this is not a meal that you should try for leftovers. You shouldn't have too much trouble eating it all! 

Recipe Adapted from the "Oh She Glows Cookbook," by Angela Liddon

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