All-of-this-Mixed-Up-and-Baked-in-a-Beautiful Blueberry Galentines Pie

Happy Galentines weekend, all! (If you've never heard of Galentines, go ahead and click on the link for a tutorial and welcome to the holiday! I'm unabashedly channeling Leslie Knope in this post.)  Instead of our typical weekend gems post, I wanted to send a little love & appreciation to all of our N+L internet Gal Fridays today (or is it Gals Friday?). If I could have a weekend wish, I would have you all over on Saturday for a long chat, good laughs, and some pie.  Since that's not in the cards, I thought I'd share my favorite pie recipe and raise a fork to you across the miles.

If you've seen the 2007 dark comedy film Waitress, you might remember that Jenna (Keri Russell) bakes a series of cathartic pies that she creates and names after her emotional state at the time, things like the Marshmallow Mermaid Pie, the Falling in Love Chocolate Mousse Pie, the I Don't Want Earl's Baby Pie, Baby Screamin' Its Head Off In The Middle of the Night & Ruinin' My Life Pie, and finally the I Can't Have No Affair Because It's Wrong and I Don't Want Earl to Kill Me Pie.

In that spirit I'm calling this the She's-All-of-This-Mixed-Up-and-Baked-in-a-Beautiful Blueberry Galentines Pie. (I lifted the title directly from a song* in the new Waitress musical.) Don't get me wrong, though, this could also be whipped up on Valentines, too, and called the Blueberry Declare-Your-Love Pie. It's G's favorite pie on earth. In fact, it's one of his love languages. Feel free to choose your holiday on this one.

photo by  Mark Boughton

photo by Mark Boughton


She's All of This Mixed Up and Baked in a Beautiful Blueberry Galentines Pie
{or} Blueberry Declare-Your-Love One-Crust Pie

1 9" prebaked pie shell (I have great luck with Pioneer Woman's pie crust recipe)

4 cups blueberries, rinsed and dried (can use frozen but fresh is 100 times better)

1 cup white sugar, divided into 3/4 c. and 1/4 c 

1 cup water

3 T. cornstarch (i.e., corn flour in Australia)

1. Line baked pie shell with 3 cups of blueberries

2. Combine 1 cup blueberries, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 cup water in a medium saucepan and cook over medium high heat, boiling until soft.

3. In small bowl or mug, combine 1/4 cup sugar and 3 T cornstarch. Mix in a little (2 T or so) of the hot mixture and stir until smooth then add to pan with hot mixture.

4. Cook for a few minutes, stirring until warm and smooth and thick.

5. Cool and pour mixture onto berries in the pie shell.

6. Refrigerate for 2+ hours for pie to set. 

7. Serve with ice cream or fresh whipped cream. Go on, head back for seconds.

(A big thank you to my friend, Annette, who passed along this recipe to me many years ago.)


  • A few of those pie recipes from the movie Waitress
  • *The lovely Sara Bareilles song (from the new Waitress musical) that inspired the pie name:

Happy weekending!

Winner, winner chicken (tortellini salad) dinner

Gorgeous Kinfolk Dinner in Sydney, photo  via  

Gorgeous Kinfolk Dinner in Sydney, photo via 

This salad is an all-out winner. Hearty enough to be a main dish but versatile enough to fit in to any meal, you will love this one year round. I've taken it to dinners and potlucks and served it here at home for both guests-are-coming-over kinds of events and just our everyday family meals. It's also really really easy--more assembly than anything else.

I have never, however, served it without being asked for the recipe. (Well, my family doesn't tend to ask. But only because they know it comes from this favorite cookbook and that this dish will always be in the rotation at our house.) 

One thing I especially love is its adaptability. It's pretty healthy as it is but if you know someone's cutting carbs, just drop the pasta. It's still delicious. Vegetarian? It can still stand proudly without the chicken. 

Chicken & Tortellini Salad with Pesto Vinaigrette
(adapted from Whitney Ingram's The Family Flavor cookbook)

Dressing:
Mix together
1/2 cup prepared pesto (I use the Kirkland brand from Costco or whatever my grocery store has on the shelf)
2 tsp. vinegar (red wine or balsamic)
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil

Salad:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or shred up a grocery store roasted chicken if you're in a hurry)
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper
1 pkg of fresh cheese and spinach tortellini (or other favorite filled pasta--I use ravioli in a pinch)
1 carton cherry or grape tomatoes, cut into small pieces (I also like to use colorful heirloom ones)
2-3 handfuls of rinsed baby spinach
1/4 red onion, sliced thinly or diced
. . .
Prepare chicken breasts by rubbing with olive oil and seasoning with salt and pepper and then baking in a 400 degree F oven for 25 minutes. Cool and shred/slice into bite-sized pieces.

Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, rinse with cool water and set aside.

On a large platter or bowl, combine salad ingredients. Drizzle pesto dressing over the top and toss. Can be served at room temperature or chilled.

Enjoy! 

Cooking . . . always cooking

I've probably said this before, but it bears repeating: I don't like to cook. But I do like to eat, so I suffer through the cooking. For the past three months Sterling and I have been eating Paleo, a practice that has us testing out a whole new slew of recipes -- some good, some NOT so good. It's not that I've jumped on some paleo bandwagon. It's more that I find my body operates SO much better without any sugar. Also, I'm a sugar addict. So there's that.

Luckily, my kids love the paleo too. They still eat goldfish and popcorn for snacks, and have a sandwich and chips for lunch. But for dinner? They want our paleo goods. Here are the recipes that the kids are clamoring for:

  • Pancakes. I love these for dinner, breakfast, or even in the middle of the night. Sterling has been making the banana and egg pancakes for a while now. But a few days ago I spotted this recipe for Clean Eating Green Pancakes on Pinterest. Sterling made them yesterday morning, and I became a true convert. These have the taste and texture of real, flour-laden pancakes with none of the drawbacks. We top ours with butter and a little honey or maple syrup. And spinach! It's in there!
  • Heidi Swanson's Weeknight Curry. I mentioned this recipe in a post last summer, but it's worth repeating. This is easy, healthy, and we were fighting over the final bites just last night.
  • I'm also pretty enamored with Megan and Brandon Keatley's cookbook, Primal Cravings. Our very favorite recipe is the Shrimp Pad Thai (the noodles are actually thin strips of zucchini). I can't find the Keatley's recipe online, but it's essentially this one plus two pounds of shrimp (peeled and deveined). Just saute the shrimp in a tablespoon of butter until pink. Remove from pan and follow recipe instructions for the noodles and sauce. Add the shrimp back in just before serving. [Note: We have a mandolin that makes cutting the zucchini a snap.] Also, I double the recipe because we cannot get enough.
  • I'm back into making frittatas. This is a 20 minute dinner that is hearty and tasty. Last week I made a zucchini and goat cheese frittata and served it with this salad. Becca raved about this one. [Note: Keep the extra salad dressing in the fridge for lunch. It's great on anything.] [Note #2: If you don't have a frittata pan, you can finish it in the oven. See this method here.}

These recipes are great for anyone -- paleo or no. They are mostly just vegetables and protein . . . but really, really tasty. Hope you enjoy them as much as we have!

P.S. Any Paleo or Whole30 recipe suggestions are welcome. Write them in the comments!!

Spaghetti squash . . . I never knew I loved thee

I hate to be "jump on the bandwagon" girl, but I'll admit here and now that I've gone paleo. It's been nine weeks now (minus the week of Christmas when I drank a slurpee and ate cheesecake -- so NOT paleo). I won't bore you with the details, but I will tell you that, for me, not eating sugar is really key to my overall health and well-being. Also, not eating anything my body might possibly perceive as sugar. Sometimes I even have to hold my breath when I'm on the cereal aisle.

The good news is that I'm slowly building up a repertoire of good, tried-and-true recipes that my whole family loves. Guys, my kids will totally go to the mat after school for these leftovers. And I'm all, "Now kids, let's not fight over the squash." Yep, my life is totally like that. 

My point is that regardless of your eating philosophy -- this is good, healthy, satisfying food. Make it soon.

[Note: This recipe is adapted from Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo.  I've changed the quantities slightly. For the original version, see Sanfilippo's website.]

Balanced Bites by Diane Sanfilippo

Balanced Bites by Diane Sanfilippo

Spaghetti Squash Bolognese

Ingredients:
1 spaghetti squash (get one big one or two small)
2 TBSP bacon fat or butter
1 onion, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
2 stalks of celery, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 lb ground veal or beef
1 lb ground pork
4 slices bacon, crumbled
3/4 c full-fat coconut milk
small can tomato paste
1/2 c white wine or beef broth (add more if you need more liquid)
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375. Slice the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise (this may take some muscle. Consider it your workout for the day.) Scrape out the seeds and membrane, liberally apply sea salt and black pepper, put the halves face down on a cook sheet, and bake for approximately 45 minutes.
  2. Let the squash cool for 5-10 minutes and then scrape the insides of the squash with a fork. This is the magic part. It turns into spaghetti. Except it's sugar free. Put all of your hard-won spaghetti squash into a lovely serving bowl.
  3. While the squash is in the oven, get the sauce going. Melt the bacon fat or butter and then sautee the onions, carrots, and celery until soft. Add the garlic. Then add the beef (or veal), pork, and bacon and cook through. Add the remaining ingredients and let simmer for 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Bon Appetite!

 

Make this meal

Sorry to get so bossy with the title but sometimes you just have to say what's in your heart. And my heart loves this meal. It's a tried and true one that I've made many times, one that you can easily whip up to please your people. Maybe you have guests coming to stay for Thanksgiving so you have to think of a few more meals besides the big feast. Maybe you're having some people over this weekend but are short on time or ideas. Or maybe you, like me, open the fridge on a daily basis and look blankly at its contents at a loss for what to feed these people in your family that keep showing up around the table and expecting meals.

So here are three of my favorite recipes, each exceedingly delicious and just as easy (or as they say here in Australia "easy as." Or, for example, if someone's smart they say "he's smart as." Smart as what? Easy as what? I want to ask. But then I wouldn't be cool as. Is that a thing in the States, too? I'm losing track.) Anyway, this combo has saved my bacon on more than one occasion. (This is also one of those meals where doubling it really doesn't require much more work than just a single batch so it's great for a crowd.)

- The Best Flank Steak Marinade, Guaranteed (that's its name, I didn't make it up)
- Crash Hot Potatoes
- Lemon Bars From Heaven

photo via Tired & Inspired

photo via Tired & Inspired

The original Flank Steak Marinade recipe, shared by Tired & Inspired, makes a huge batch (5 liters of marinade!) so here's the recipe for 1 liter, which still goes far:

1/2 c. rice vinegar
1/2 c. oyster sauce
1 + 2/3 c. soy sauce
3/4 c. mirin
3 T garlic puree (or very finely chopped)
4 T ginger puree (I also use it from a spice jar if needed but reduce the amount)
2 T honey

Marinate flank steak for (ideally) 24 hours [sometimes we only do 2-4 hours, though the longer the better]. Grill steak 4-5 minutes per side on medium high heat. Remove from heat and let rest about 5 minutes before cutting into thin slices across the grain.

. . .

photo via  PW

photo via PW

Crash hot potatoes, according to our much revered, imaginary BFF The Pioneer Woman, are an Australian recipe so I feel like I bring it full circle, from Australia to Pioneer Woman and back to Australia again in my kitchen. They're really simple to make (you basically boil small red potatoes until soft, put them on a baking sheet, smash them down & drizzle them with goodness and bake them a while. So basically, your job is to pour potatoes in boiling water and then put them in the oven. I can handle that.) I don't change up this recipe at all so I'll just wait while you click on over and visit PW's neighborhood. Tell her I said G'day.

p.s. I lied. There's another item missing from this meal. I usually make a green salad or some other veg but that doesn't mean you have to do more work! Just ask one of your kids to do a salad while you're tending to the other deliciousness.

. . .

Okay, you might think you've had lemon bars before. You may even think you've had some really good ones. But this one? The one I'm about to give you? This is IT. Ellie at Less Cake More Frosting has found the holy grail of lemon bars. These have a lovely, crusty top and a gooey lemony filling. The buttery crust at the bottom is perfect. I was going to her site so often to make them that I finally just printed it out for my cupboard. Go. Make these.

I don't know the specific alchemy that takes such mundane ingredients (lemon, flour, sugar, butter...maybe it's not such a mystery) and produces such perfection, all I know is they complete me. 

Bon appétit! 

. . .
p.s.  Speaking of go-to recipes, for my birthday Sarah sent me the cookbook she raved about here last month, Whitney Ingram's The Family Flavor. I'm in love with it. You should see my copy--it has about 54 neon green post-it notes sticking out from all the marking of recipes I've tried or want to try. Pretty much every single page. If you're looking for more go-to recipes, this one is gold. 

Perfect, thick & chewy chocolate chip cookies

For years I was a bit of a chocolate chip cookie floozy. Indiscriminate and flaky, I would leap from recipe to recipe. There was an oatmeal one I liked. I tried a couple of recipes handed along from friends. I even made the Toll House or Ghirardelli back-of-the-package recipes now and then.  They were all pretty good.

Then these little wonders came into my life in 2008 and I have never wavered from them since. I can't take much credit for it. I've added my own twists and touches but I can hardly claim this recipe without a salute to its geneology: I got it from Annie's Eats, who adapted it from Blonde Ambition, who adapted it from America's Test Kitchen. Since then, every single time I bring them or give them, I'm asked for the recipe. Like clockwork. Even my Sunday School class of cute little 12-year-olds asked for the recipe.

So I feel confident promising you: you will not regret making these. They are thick and chewy (not cakey), with this spectacular little glossy crust on the outside. I think what makes them so good are a few little differences: the melted butter, the extra egg yolk, the specific method of forming the dough balls and pulling them apart with a rough top surface before baking, and the rotating of the pans midway through baking. They're small details but well worth it. You'll see.

Oh (at the risk of over-selling), the deliciousness ahead of you! I'm a little jealous you still have your first taste of these lovelies in your future: 

 

IMG_0637.jpg

Perfect, Can-I-Have-the-Recipe, Thick & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:
2 cups plus 2-3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
12 Tbsp unsalted (salted is fine, too, if that's what you have) butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla (sometimes I use just 1, depending how sweet I want them)
1 cup milk chocolate chips (I use Cadbury since I have it here in Australia) 
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (Cadbury or other good chocolate)

. . .

Adjust oven racks to upper and lower-middle positions. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment (sometimes I skip this). 

Whisk dry ingredients in medium bowl; set aside. In a large bowl, mix butter and sugars until combined. Beat in egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients and beat/stir just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. (The dough will feel a bit more moist than you might be used to. It's going to be okay, though. It's all part of the larger plan.) 

IMG_0629.jpg

Roll a scant half-cup of dough into a ball, then pull the ball apart into two equal halves. See how the edges where they separated are jagged?  Rotate the halved dough 90 degrees and, with the jagged surfaces facing up, place the dough onto the cookie sheet, leaving ample room between each ball. (These are big cookies so I place six per sheet.) Once you've filled both cookie sheets with portions of dough, put them on the upper and lower racks of the oven, trading their positions once halfway through baking (which will be at about 6-7 minutes). Bake until cookies are light golden brown and the edges start to harden yet centers are still soft and puffy (about 11-14 minutes total). 

 (Please turn a blind eye to the state of my oven and pans. Thank you.)

 (Please turn a blind eye to the state of my oven and pans. Thank you.)

Cool cookies on cookie sheets for a minute or two, until you can lift them without breaking. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. They're divine when they're still a bit warm. I dare you to try not to roll your eyes to heaven when you take a bite. (If you're feeling creative, you can also use coconut or m&ms or nuts or broken pretzel pieces.)

 

It's getting hot down here. . .

I think this May just might rank as the craziest month of my entire life. There is family arriving, multiple celebrations, and umpteen preparations. In fact, I have so many irons in the fire at the moment, I'm sure to blow something up. I'm just waiting. Somewhere I'm forgetting something VERY IMPORTANT.

Last night we had a crawfish boil at my Mom's in honor of my very sweet Aunt Rebecca, who is visiting from Utah. Unlike our Cajun neighbors, we are relatively new to the crawfish boil. For myself, I prefer the baguettes, corn-on-the-cob, and new potato parts of the meal -- partly because I don't like getting my hands messy with the crawfish and partly because I don't like dismembering the crawfish. I'm a delicate little flower; it's true.

Sterling and Jordan. Trying to soak up every last moment before she heads to France.

Sterling and Jordan. Trying to soak up every last moment before she heads to France.

My contribution to the party? Our family's favorite homemade ice cream -- affectionately known as the orange ice cream (cuz it's orange). I could also mention at this point that when I was very young we had three horses: Whitey, Blacky, and Browny. Our family seems to lack a certain amount of naming panache. We're working on that. But this ice cream? This ice cream is orange-y, and fizzy, with more than a hint of sweetened condensed milk. And, it takes about five minutes to throw together. Yep, it's the dessert trifecta: quick, tasty, uses sweetened condensed milk. I can barely contain myself even writing about it.

I've often wanted to share this beloved ice cream recipe on the blog, except I've been waiting for a whiz-bang Orange Ice Cream photo shoot. That, it seems, might be slow in the making. I don't want summer to get away from me . . . so I'm posting it here with just a little old iphone pic. My apologies.

orangeweb.jpg

The recipe: [Note: This recipe is for the old fashioned, ice-with-rock-salt, ice cream maker. So put away your new-fangled, sophisticated Kitchen Aid and go old school with me.]

2 2-liter bottles orange soda 
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
1 large can crushed pineapple, drained

Directions: Mix pineapple and sweetened condensed milk in ice cream maker. Add orange soda to the fill line. Layer ice and rock salt. Plug in the ice cream maker and let it go. I like to chill the soda first just to shorten the freezing process.

And that's it folks. Sometimes, in the fiery depths of summer heat, I've been known to mix up a batch, serve it to the kids in the pool, and call it dinner.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.