Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Strawberries and Rhubarb are in season.  Must have been on Martin2’s mind.   He challenged me to another pie.  The last one I made for him was a Pumpkin Pie at Thanksgiving.  It was ok.  I am not a pie person.  I guess the more I make the better I will get, right?  He requested a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie for this weekend.  When I was talking with him earlier today he also mentioned coffee cake.  Well, I baked the pie and then for back up I made a Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake.  If he likes them both then that is a bonus!!  Actually the pie looks and smells quite delicious.  I don’t want to try it until he does first.  I sent the Martin’s a pic of the pie and cake.  That prompted a visit.  They both loved the pie and the coffee cake.   I found the recipe for the pie, where else – America’s Test Kitchen.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

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Ingredients

Pie Dough

2 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
11 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
7 Tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
1/3 cup water, chilled with ice, increasing up to 3/8 cup, if needed (1/3 cup was enough for me)

Strawberry Rhubarb Filling

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3 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
3 cups fresh rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces (a friend from work surprised me with 3 cups of fresh rhubarb for my pie on Friday.  She even cut into pieces for me.  Thanks Chris!)
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon grated orange zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-4 Tablespoons quick cooking tapioca (I used 3 Tablespoons)
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Directions

1. Mix flour, salt, and sugar in food processor fitted with steel blade. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture, tossing to coat butter with a little flour. Cut butter into flour with five 1-second pulses. Add shortening and continue to cut it in until flour is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal with butter bits no larger than small peas, about four more 1-second pulses. Turn mixture into medium bowl.
2. Sprinkle all but 1 tablespoon of the ice water over mixture. With blade of rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 1 tablespoon of remaining ice water if dough does not come together. Divide dough into two balls, one slightly larger than the other. Flatten each into 4-inch-wide disk. Dust lightly with flour, wrap separately in plastic, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
3. Remove dough from refrigerator; let stand at room temperature to soften slightly, about 10 minutes. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss fruit with sugar, lemon juice and orange zest, vanilla extract, and tapioca; let stand for 15 minutes.
4. Roll larger dough disk on lightly floured surface into 12-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. (I rolled out on parchment paper.  That made it easier to transfer to the pie plate.) Transfer and fit dough into 9-inch Pyrex pie pan, leaving dough that overhangs the lip in place. Turn fruit mixture, including juices, into pie shell. Scatter butter pieces over fruit. may 2014 011Refrigerate until ready to top with remaining dough.
5. Roll smaller disk on lightly floured surface into 10-inch circle. Lay over fruit. Trim top and bottom dough edges to 1/2-inch beyond pan lip. Tuck this rim of dough underneath itself so that folded edge is flush with pan lip. Flute dough in your own fashion, or press with fork tines to seal. Cut four slits at right angles on dough top to allow steam to escape. If pie dough is very soft, place in freezer for 10 minutes before baking.
6.Place pie on baking sheet; bake until top crust is golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake until juices bubble and crust is golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes longer.
7. Transfer pie to wire rack; let cool to almost room temperature so juices have time to thicken, from 1 to 2 hours.

In case you want to know how to store a fruit pie.  According to Betty Crocker website;

  • Fruit pies keep at room temperature for two days; you can store them, loosely covered, in the refrigerator for up to two days longer. (In warm climates, always store fruit pies in the refrigerator.)

This was very simple and delicious.  This pie takes no time at all and you will love it.  Enjoy!!

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

May 2014 update;  Baked this cake tonight.  I popped over at the Martin’s this morning and Martin2 mentioned coffee cake.  That got me thinking about how much I love coffee cake.  Had to make it for tomorrow morning to enjoy with a nice, strong cup of coffee!!  Martin requested glaze so I topped it with that this time around.  I couldn’t wait for tomorrow so I tried a piece tonight.  This was simple and incredible DELICIOUS!

I bought a bundt cake pan earlier this month.  I am going to try a different bundt cake each month.  I baked Martin his Chocolate Bundt Cake for his birthday.  I wanted to try a coffee cake to see how it would turn out.  Eric, Rachel, Kent, Kyle and I each had a piece (or two, or three) and really enjoyed it.  Here is the recipe:

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

May 2014 003With orMay 2014 002Without Glaze.  It is delicious either way!!

Ingredients

Streusel Topping:

1 cup flour
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
1/2 cup COLD butter, cut into chunks
1 cup chopped nuts (optional and I did not use)

Cake:

2/3 cup softened butter
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup sour cream
4 eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Glaze

1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1-2 Tablespoons milk
Whisk above ingredients together.  It is that simple!

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  For the streusel topping, mix flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in medium bowl.  Cut in cold butter with pastry blender or 2 knives until coarse crumbs.  (I used my food processor for this step and it worked great.)

2.  For the Cake, beat softened butter, granulated sugar and sour cream in stand up mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Mix in vanilla. Gradually beat in flour, cinnamon and baking soda on low speed until well blended. ( You could also use an electric mixer or beat by hand.)

3.  Spoon 1/2 of the streusel topping into greased and floured 12 cup bundt pan.  Spoon 1/2 of the batter over top.  Repeat layers ending with streusel on top.

4.  Bake 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Removed from pan.  You can sprinkle confectioner’s sugar on top or a vanilla glaze.  (If you use glaze, drizzle over top of cake.)

When I first made this cake in January 2012 I checked with Eric and Rachel to see if I should add a glaze or sugar on top.  We agreed to leave it just as it came out of the oven.  They both loved this cake and will definitely be happy to see I have made it again when they come over tomorrow for dinner.

This bundt cake really was Simple and very Delicious!

 

Spinach Salad with all kinds of delicious ingredients!!

Martin and I drove to Syracuse this weekend.  We decided last year to start taking annual road trips.  Syracuse has been the destination the last 2 years.  We like to chat for our 15 hour drive – one way! 🙂  When I get there I can spend time with my parents.  He joins me or hangs with some friends he has made there.

My mom and dad live at an assisted living facility. May 2014 029 My mom is not a fan of the food there. This visit I asked if she would like me to make something for her.  She requested Coconut Macaroons.  She also mentioned stuffed peppers.  I ended up making dinner on Saturday evening at Tony’s home.  The menu I thought she would enjoy was Grilled Poblano Peppers, Spinach Salad and Strawberry Parfait.  (I did bring macaroons but gave those to her when I arrived.)  We had a very nice time and I enjoyed being able to have a chance to make my parents a simple and delicious meal.   Talk about simple – the salad was just that!!

Spinach Salad with Roasted Asparagus, Brussels Sprouts  and Strawberries

6 ounce bag of spinach
1cup strawberries, sliced (more if you like)
8 spears of roasted asparagus, cut into 1″ pieces
8 roasted brussels sprouts, sliced thinly
Add toasted nuts, if you desire

Dressing

3 Tablespoons olive oil
Juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey

Directions

Place ingredients for the dressing in a bowl and whisk. ( I put in a small mason jar and shook the ingredients together.)  Mix with spinach, strawberries, brussels sprouts and asparagus.  You will LOVE this salad.  Give it a try!

 

 

Tricolor Mexican Bean Salad

I am in the Mexican food mood lately.  I really enjoy the flavors of cumin and hot peppers or sauces.  I am also enjoying cilantro.  I never thought I would say that!  Cilantro does add a nice flavor with certain dishes and this was one of them.  I got this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen.  I changed the recipe up a little bit.  Next time I will have to add a little jalapeno pepper. 😉  I made this on Mother’s Day.  As usual, I had open dinner for Sunday. Lily, Eric, no Rachel she had to work, Martin and Martin2 who actually got out of work early and was able to pop over.  Martin2 definitely was a fan of this salad.  Here is the recipe for all to enjoy!

Tricolor Mexican Bean Salad

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Ingredients

3 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons lime juice
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup frozen corn (or canned or 2 ears corn on the cob)
1 can (16 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 large yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 rib celery, thinly sliced
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon cilantro (you could use more if you wanted too)
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped

Directions

1.  Puree lemon and lime juices, garlic, chili powder, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and red pepper flakes in blender or food processor until smooth. Turn blender back on and add oil in steady stream until incorporated.
2. Place corn, beans, bell pepper, celery, green onions, and cilantro in serving bowl. Pour dressing over salad and toss well to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
3. Just before serving, stir in tomatoes. Season with salt to taste.  Simple and Delicious!!

Asparagus with Pasta – under 45 minutes

Mondays are a very busy day at work.  When I get home I want to make a quick meal.  I went to Costco over the weekend and bought a 2 pound bag of asparagus.  I decided that asparagus and pasta sounded like a quick and easy meal.  If you like heat and flavor, then you will enjoy this meal.

Asparagus and Pasta

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1/2 pound pasta (I used shells)
1 pound asparagus, cut into 1 inch slices
4 pieces of bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 Tablespoon bacon fat
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
3 garlic, minced
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (don’t like heat, use less)
2 teaspoons sriracha sauce (Use your favorite hot sauce.  Depending on how hot you like it, will depend on how much you use)
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

1.  Bring 4 quarts of water and 1 Tablespoon salt to a boil.  Add pasta and time for 6-8 minutes.  Depends on how you like your pasta.  I like it al dente.
2.  While the water is boiling fry your bacon until crisp.  Remove from pan and place on paper towel to drain.  Leave the fat in the pan.  (I cook bacon slowly so I don’t burn it.  Sometimes I bake it.  Not today though)
3.  Add 1/4 cup of olive oil to frying pan.  Let heat until shimmering.
4.  Add garlic, crushed red pepper and your hot sauce.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.
5.  Add asparagus and saute for 5-8 minutes. This will heat through and still keep the beautiful green color.  Don’t overcook.
6.  Mix in Parmesan cheese.
7.  Drain your pasta.  Add pasta to the skillet and stir into the asparagus mix.
8.  Enjoy your bowl of pasta with a touch of heat!!May 12 2014 021

Cast Iron Skillet – Best non skillet frying pan, EVER!!

Do you own a cast iron skillet?  Once they are seasoned – and that doesn’t take too long – this is a great non stick skillet.  I love my cast iron skillet.  My favorite food to make is pan fried steaks.  I season each side with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper,add 1-2 Tablespoons of oil over medium heat until shimmering, add steak and pan fry each side 5-7 minutes, let rest 5 minutes and you have a simple and delicious steak.  

I have a Lodge Cast Iron Skillet.  Very reasonably priced – $26.95 – and this will last you a lifetime.

Here is how to take care of your skillet.  I got this information from their website.

If you do Nothing Else

Hand wash. Dry immediately—even before first use.

Rub with a light coat of vegetable oil after every wash. 

How much oil? Enough to restore the sheen, without being “sticky”. (I use 1 teaspoon to 1 Tablespoon, depending on how the oil absorbs into the skillet)

Why? To keep the iron “seasoned” and protected from moisture.

To Soap or not to Soap

 

If no soap is too scary, wash with mild soapy water and dry and oil immediately.  (I DO NOT use soap, water and heat work together very well to clean my skillet)  Consider that cookware is 400ºF in 4 minutes on medium heat and is sterile at 212º F, so soap isn’t always necessary.

Dishwashers, strong detergents and metal scouring pads are not recommended, as they remove seasoning. (Never, ever put in disherwasher.  No need to at all.  My opinion for what it is worth.) 🙂

Seasoning—It isn’t Salt and Pepper

“Seasoning” is vegetable oil baked onto the iron at a high temperature: not a chemical non-stick coating.

Seasoning creates the natural, easy-release properties. The more you cook, the better it gets.

Because you create, maintain, and even repair the “seasoning”, your cookware can last 100 years or more. (If I have 30 years I’ll be happy!)  Chemical non-stick coating cannot be repaired, limiting lifespan.

Helpful facts

Acidic foods like tomatoes, beans, and certain sauces can damage seasoning, and should be avoided until the seasoning is well-established.  (I avoid tomatoes in my skillet.  I have my stainless steel fry pan for most sauces – tomato based or not.)

Cast Iron rarely needs to go above a medium heat setting when properly pre-heated. For the times when you do cook at higher temperatures, add oil to cookware just before adding food to prevent sticking.

Our handles get hot; use mitts. Use trivets to protect countertops from hot cookware.

 

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Mexican Chicken Soup

Our office had a food day for Cinco de Mayo.  Of course with a Mexican theme.  I thought a nice soup would be enjoyed by all.  I found this recipe on old faithful, America’s Test Kitchen.  I had Kent taste test before I brought it in and he thought it was tasty.  I believe most everyone liked it at work.  Personally, I think it could have used a little more heat.  Next time I will add a whole jalapeno, cayenne and a dash of cumin.   This was a Simple and Delicious recipe!

Mexican Chicken Soup

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Ingredients

6 cups chicken broth
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 large onion, quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled
10 springs of cilantro
Table salt
1 – 14 1/2 ounce can whole tomatoes in juice, drained, with juice reserved
1/2 jalapeno chile, seeds and rib removed
1 canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce plus 1 Tablespoon sauce
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups frozen corn
2 – 14 ounce cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tablespoons lime juice

Directions

1.  Bring 4 cups broth, chicken, 2 onion quarters, 2 garlic cloves, cilantro, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to boil in large skillet over high heat.  Cover and cook over low heat until chicken is cooked through, 8-10 minutes.  Transfer chicken to a large plate.
2.  Puree tomatoes, remaining onion quarters, remaining 2 garlic cloves, jalapeno, chipotle, and adobo sauce in blender until smooth.  (I used my food processor)
3.  Heat oil in Dutch oven over high heat until shimmering.  Add tomato mixture and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook until darkened in color, 8 to 10 minutes.  Strain broth directly into post with tomato puree (discard solids).  Add remaining 2 cups broth, reserved tomato juice, corn and beans and simmer to blend flavors, about 5 minutes.  Shred or dice chicken into bite sized pieces and add to soup.  Stir in lime juice and season with salt and pepper. You could garnish with an avocado, Monterey Jack cheese and cilantro.

That’s it!   Another dish under an hour to make.  Hope you enjoy this simple and delicious soup!!May 2014 053

 

Taco Pie – Yep, a pie

A great suggestion I received from my friend, Jill.  This took under an hour from start to finish.  I love simple and delicious weeknight meals.  I doubled the meat filling recipe.  I used 16 ounces for the pie filling and froze the rest for tacos for another day of the week.

Taco Pie

May 5 2014 005
This photo doesn’t show everything I used.  I started with the original recipe and added a couple more ingredients as I went on!  Oops!!

1 14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes
6 – 6 inch flour tortillas
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 small onion, diced (I used red onion)
1 red or green pepper, diced (I used a red pepper)
1/2 large jalapeno pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2.  Brush a 9 inch pie plate with olive oil.  Spread a large spoonful of diced tomatoes on the bottom of the pie plate.
3.  Arrange four of the tortillas on top of the tomatoes and up the sides of the plate, overlapping as necessary, set aside.May 5 2014 012
4.  In a large skillet cook ground beef, onion, red pepper, jalapeno pepper and garlic on medium high heat until browned; drain off fat. May 5 2014 006 Add chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, ground pepper and cinnamon, cook and stir through.
5.  Stir in about 1/2 of the remaining diced tomatoes.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat and cook uncovered about 2 more minutes.
6.  Spoon over tortillas in place.  Cut remaining 2 tortillas into strips.  Layer cheese and tortilla strips over beef mixture. Top with remaining diced tomatoes.
7.  Bake, uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until tortillas are lightly browned.
8.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Cut into wedges and serve.  Top with cilantro if you desire.    May 5 2014 013

 

We loved this taco pie.  Lily noticed a bit of a sweet flavor to it.  That was the cinnamon.  Kent and I thought it was a nice flavor.  If I were you I would try it with the cinnamon.  You can always take it out next time.  Try this simple and delicious recipe and let me know what you think!!

Grilled Stuffed Poblano Peppers

I wanted to do a Mexican Sunday dinner this weekend.  Since Martin II works weekends he rarely is able to come to dinner on Friday or Sunday. I asked if there was anything he wanted me to make.  He asked if I would make one of his favorite restaurant dishes this weekend; Stuffed Poblano Peppers.  I accepted this challenge and decided on a meatless stuffed pepper. He was able to come over for lunch and he loved these peppers.  That made me very happy.  Hope you enjoy them as much as we did!!

Grilled Stuffed Poblanos Peppers

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Ingredients

1 cup cooked Basmati rice

6 medium poblano peppers
1 14 ounce can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 cup tomatoes, seeded and diced
2/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup red onion, diced
4 ounces Cotija cheese
1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 small jalapeno, diced
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

May 2014 084

1.  Using a paring knife to cut a wide circle around each stem, so you end up with a cap that can be replaced once you stuff the peppers.  (Keep in mind, you are going to be grilling the peppers.) Remove and discard any seeds and membranes from the cap and from the interior, set the peppers aside.
2.  Place the black beans in a large bowl.  Using the back of a fork, mash the beans.  Some whole beans should remain.
3.  Add the rest of ingredients.  Gently mix in the cooled rice.  I would taste to be sure it is seasoned enough with salt and pepper.  The Cotija cheese is kind of salty (like a feta cheese) so you want to be sure you taste before adding too much salt.
4.  Stuff each pepper with filling, replace the caps and press each cap into the filling.  Pierce 2 toothpicks through each cap and out the sides of each pepper to secure them while on the grill.  (If you are stuffing peppers more than 30 minutes before grilling, cover and refrigerate them for up to 4 hours.  Let the peppers sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes before grilling so they can cook faster and more evenly.)
5.  Heat grill to medium (350-450 degrees).  Place the stuffed peppers on their sides and cover the grill.  (I put a piece of aluminum foil on the grill. I set the tops of the peppers on the foil.  This way if any filling leaked out, it did so on the foil.  This worked really well for me.) Grill, rolling each pepper a quarter turn every 7 minutes to cook all four sides.  The skins of the peppers are well charred.  it does take about 30 minutes to grill the peppers.  Remove the toothpicks and serve.May 2014 087

I was concerned about grilling but they turned out great!  Kent and I thought they were delicious and Martin II absolutely loved them.  He said these were the best stuffed Poblano peppers he ever had.  That works for me!