Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

pie_July2018-3

Strawberry season in Michigan is so fleeting that my tiny apartment-sized freezer is full of the sweet gems.  The great thing about freezing them, is that even if you don’t have time to bake with them when they are in season, you can just pull them out of the freezer when you have time!  One of my favorite ways to enjoy strawberries when they are in season is pairing them with a flaky crust and sour-tart rhubarb, also from Michigan.

Mastering the art of the ideal pie crust can be tricky and frustrating.  As someone who has made a couple of gross pies in her day, I have found a recipe and a couple tried and true tips that work for me.  Some of the expertise comes with experience, and working with your specific flour, altitude, water, etc.  Many experts say that it’s easiest to make your dough in the food processor, however, I’m a firm believer that the blades ruin the flakiness that is key to good crust.

pie_July2018-1.jpg

My go to pie crust recipe can be found in Kate McDermott’s fantastic cookbook, Art of the Pie.  It can be found on page 61 and you’ll only need flour, salt, butter, and water.  Now, you’re your own person, so use any pie crust you feel comfortable with.  If pie makes you uncomfortable, buy this book and use this recipe.  I’m not going to include her recipe on here, because if you are committed to good making good pies, you really should have her book in your cookbook library.  Also, she has so many other great recipes and tips that are very valuable.  I would recommend buying a marble rolling pin.  It helps to keep the dough colder, keeping the butter inside the dough solid until you bake the pie.

pie_July2018-2

The filling recipe that I use is adapted from Kate’s recipe found on page 250.  I like to keep my fillings simple to let the gorgeous flavor of the just picked fruit shine through.  Just combine the ingredients below and let them cook down inside the pie.  For this pie, I didn’t pre-bake the pie crusts before putting in the filling, like some recipes call for.  It does take a little over an hour for this pie to bake.  I cover the pie with tin foil for the first 20 minutes to help the filling to begin to set.  Uncover for the rest of the baking process.  If you notice that the crust is getting too brown towards the end of baking, just re-cover with foil.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Filling

4 cups of strawberries, quartered

2 cups of rhubarb, sliced

1 cup of sugar

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup flour

Enjoy!

pie_July2018-5.jpg

Advertisements

Burrata: The Better Mozzarella

Burrata_1

Let’s talk cheese.  If you like mozzarella and good food in general, you’ll love burrata.  Trust me. It’s creamy and fresh, texturally unique compared to other cheese, and so versatile.  If you want to learn more about the process behind making fresh cheese, check it out here!  Or you can read about it here.

Burrata is traditionally from the Apulia region in Italy and is made with water buffalo’s milk or cow’s milk.  It is a thin shell of mozzarella holding in a creamy mixture called stracciatella, which is basically cream and strings of mozzarella curd.  I first had burrata when I was in Italy and we visited a mozzarella factory.  The burrata in Italy tastes different, mostly because the cream they use is the naturally separated cream from the milk, and in the U.S., cream that is mechanically separated is normally used.  The flavor difference also comes from the type of milk used.  The burrata that you can get most commonly in America is made from cow’s milk.

IMG_5493

Here in the midwest, it can be difficult to track down this cheese.  My go-to place is called Martha’s Vineyard.  They usually have burrata in stock and if they don’t, they are pretty good about letting you know when they will have it next.  If you aren’t in Grand Rapids, you should be able to find it at any local specialty wine or cheese shop.

IMG_5511

The brand that I used for this cheese plate (let’s be real….. I ate this for lunch) is called Liuzzi Cheese,  The flavor is really great and it lends itself well to a lot of different dishes and flavors.  It is made in Conneticut, but it is owned by two Italian borthers.  My favorite thing to do is pair it with really great heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, balsamic reduction, good extra virgin olive oil, and toasted crostinis.  Oh and lots and lots of freshly cracked black pepper.

IMG_5515

I’ve also melted this on sourdough bread with pesto or chipotle aioli and thick cut tomatoes in a grilled cheese.  Or you can melt it on top of a seared chicken breast or top a risotto.  Either way, give it a try and I’m sure you’ll love it!

Want to read more about burrata? Check out these links below.

Bon Appetit

Fine Dining Lovers

Culture Cheese Magazine

IMG_5516

Enjoy!

:I am Malala: by Malala Yousafzai

You guys.  I just finished this book, like less than 3 hours ago and I just couldn’t wait to post about it.  I don’t even have a picture for this post because I read it so fast.  This is one of those books that really makes you think and changes your perspective on the world.

If you’ve never heard the name Malala Yousafzai, then let me give you a quick run down of her amazing story.  She grew up in Pakistan and experienced the terror of the Taliban first hand, all while she was only 11 years old.  She fought for her right to attend school and advocated for the right to education for every child.  Because of how outspoken she was, she was targeted and shot point blank by a member of the Taliban.

This well written autobiography captures Malala’s strength, spirit, and tenacity while thoughtfully telling her story.  Her innocence shows in the early chapters when she herself was still young and trying to figure out her world.  She has accomplished so much in her life, and she is truly an inspiration to determined women and girls everywhere.  It’s no surprise that she’s the youngest person ever to be awarded the Noble Peace Prize.

Malala opened my eyes to the struggles that face women and girls all over the world.  While the #metoo movement is still in the forefront of the media, there’s a need to bring the issue of education of all individuals back into the spotlight.  We need to fight for all of women’s right so that every human can have the same rights.  Education for all could solve a lot of the issues around the world.

Seriously, use the freedom you have to read and educate yourself and buy/borrow this book.  Here’s even a link!

 

Happy Reading!

New Year. More Cake.

IMG_5019
Flourless Chocolate Cake 2018

2018.

 

Guys, we survived 2017.

 

As a whole {country} 2017 was a rough one, but personally, I had a great year. I got married to my best friend and favorite human, I got to travel to NYC and explore some fantastic food, and I got a new job that allows me to spend more time with said favorite human.  While I didn’t go to the gym as often as I wanted, and I didn’t post on my blog very often, sorry guys, and I probably watched too much TV, but I enjoyed this past year spending time with my loved ones and truly lived life.

Which is how I landed at the title for this post as well as my mantra for the year ahead.  Life is all about balance people.  Balance between work and relaxation, balance between exercise and couch time, balance between quinoa and cake.  So while New Years Resolutions can be a great way to motivate ourselves to be better, we need to take some time three days after the new year and eat a piece of cake out of the fridge after our workout.

The recipe for this Flourless Chocolate cake can be found here and while I’m not in love with the result, it did satisfy my sweet tooth.  I added cointreau to the ganache that I spread on top.  For the berries, I tossed them in turbinado sugar, white wine, and cointreau and let them macerate overnight.  Stay tuned for a better recipe.

 

Happy New Year!

Falling for Autumn

 

IMG_3331.JPG

It’s that time of year again folks.  Newsfeeds are full of first day of school photos, pumpkin spice coffee is on the market, and the markets are losing their summer jewels.  It seems almost too soon.  Gone are the days with our toes in the sand, quick and cold summer rains, and reasons to drink rosé in the middle of the day.

But autumn is my favorite time of year.  Well, until the first snow.  Fall is memories of Friday football games, almost seeing our breath, color guard girls huddled close for warmth in our tank tops, voices turning hoarse as we cheer on our team.  Fall is crockpot meals, long runs with shorts and gloves.  Fall is the crinkling of leaves underfoot as we rake almost everyday.  Fall is pumpkin rolls, homemade apple pie, stockpiling pie filling in the chest freezer for the winter.  Fall is home, when we find ourselves inside with those we love most.

So with fall just around the corner, I grabbed a lonely can of pumpkin puree and made some pumpkin bread.  This loaf is sweet and loaded with spice, cinnamon, cloves, and of course nutmeg.  I coarsely ground up pecans with brown sugar and butter to use as a crumb topping. Enjoy with your favorite strongly brewed coffee.

 

Spiced Pumpkin Bread (adapted from epicurious)

Makes 2 loaves

 

3 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

3 large eggs

1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

 

 

Throughly combine all ingredients. This does make a fairly sweet bread, so feel free to decrease the sugar by 1 cup if needed.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 60 minutes.

 

Top with crumb if desired.

Skillet Banana Bread

I recently was gifted my very first cast iron skillet set from two of my future sister-in-laws who are also a couple of my best friends.  I’ve literally been wanting some cast iron since I even knew it existed!  I could hardly wait two full days to get it out of its packaging and put it to good use.

Of course I made Pioneer Woman’s skillet chocolate chip cookie because let’s face it, she’s a goddess and who doesn’t like an oversized cookie?

IMG_2631

Trust me, I took bigger bites after I snapped this picture.

It seems like I always have brown bananas around.  I do tend to buy a bunch every week when I got grocery shopping, but I have the best intentions!  Or maybe I just really like banana bread….

I ‘ve made a ton of banana bread in my 22 short years, not to toot my own horn or anything.  Over the years, I haven’t really come across a recipe that has stuck with me until a couple weeks ago. This banana bread is delicious and the inspiration for my version.

 

Skillet Banana Bread

serves 4ish?

1/3 cup melted coconut oil

1/2 cup cane sugar

2 eggs

1/4 cup almond milk

1 cup of mashed bananas

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 shakes nutmeg

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

I also like to add in 2 tablespoons each of ground flax seed and whole flaxseed, but this is optional. You can also totally add in about 1/2 cup of whatever nuts or chocolate you want.

Melt the coconut oil in the skillet.  This is double duty because the pan can always use another layer of seasoning, and you need to preheat the skillet a little bit.  Add in the sugar and mix well. Whisk in the eggs, then add in the mashed banana and the almond milk.  Mix in the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg of course! Spread into your skillet and bake at 325 degrees for blank minutes. It bakes faster than loaf banana bread because its in a smaller layer and because the cast iron holds its heat better. On the plus side, you get to enjoy it sooner!

IMG_2645.jpg

Oh I almost forgot, make this recipe your own! This is the best part of baking! Swap the sugar for honey or agave, the flour for whole wheat flour ( if you go this route you might have to play with the hydration of the dough a little bit), or the almond milk for any liquid really.

IMG_2648

Enjoy!