Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Banana Cream Pie: A Birthday Story

I want to preface this post by saying that my husband hates few things as much as he hates bananas...peas are a close second! 

However, my brother-in-law loves banana cream pie so of course I wanted to make one for his birthday. My younger sister is a wizard with cake so we traded off...I baked a pie for her husband and she baked up something chocolate and banana-free for my husband. Perfect!

We celebrated with an evening of games, dessert, booze, snacks and laughing so hard we almost choked.

The banana cream pie is fantastic and I definitely will be making it again, check out the awesomely easy and super-tasty recipe courtesy of House Of Nash Eats.

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Saturday, February 4, 2017

Tropical Flavors In February: Grilled Lime Salmon

We're in February, that month where winter seems to really drag on and on, so I'm craving something light and fresh to brighten up my palate and my mood!

Thankfully it's also "Superbowl" season so I can get my hands on a ton of cheap avocados thanks to our country's sportsfans' love of guacamole while they watch the big game.

Mangoes can be hard to come by this time of year, but I lucked out at the market and was able to find a few that weren't hard as rocks! Check your local Asian grocery stores too, they might surprise you.

This is one of my favorite recipes to make in the summer, but if you can find the produce it's fantastic year-round. You can swap out the salmon for chicken or sturdy white fish and no matter which protein you pair it with, that coconut rice is addicting!

This recipe is barely adapted from Cooking Classy

Grilled Lime Salmon with Avocado-Mango Salsa and Coconut Rice

Ingredients For The Salmon
4 (6 oz) skinless salmon fillets
3 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for grill
2 tsp lime zest
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Ingredients For The Coconut Rice

1 1/2 cups Coconut Water
1 1/4 cups canned coconut milk (don't use "light", it will be too watery)
1 1/2 cups jasmine or basmati rice, rinsed well and drained well
1 tsp salt

Ingredients For The Avocado-Mango Salsa

1 large mango, peeled and diced
1 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/3 cup chopped red onion, rinsed under water and drained
1 large avocado, peeled and diced

1/2 tsp. ground coriander (I hate cilantro but love coriander so it's a great swap here!)
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp Coconut Water
Salt and pepper, to taste

Whisk together olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a 9x13 baking dish and add salmon. Cover and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes, then flip the salmon over and let it marinate another 20 minutes.

While the salmon is marinating, you can prepare the coconut rice. In a medium saucepan bring coconut water, coconut milk, rice and salt to a full boil. Cover and simmer until liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork, then let rest 5 minutes before serving.

You can prepare the salsa ahead of time or put it together while the coconut rice is cooking. Toss together the mango, red pepper, coriander, onion and avocado. In a small bowl whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, coconut water and a big pinch each of salt & pepper.

Note: I don't have an outdoor grill so I used my cast iron grill pan for this - either way works just fine or you can just sear off the salmon in a nonstick pan on your stove!

If using a grill or grill pan to cook the salmon, brush grill grates with oil. Otherwise add about 1 tbsp. olive oil to your pan on the stovetop. Place salmon on grill/pan and cook about 3 minutes per side or until just cooked through.

Serve salmon warm with coconut rice topped with avocado mango salsa.

Click Here To Print The Recipe 
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Monday, January 30, 2017

Pie It Forward: Cajun-Style

Time for another pie! This one is a delicious savory-style pie from the fabulous Gesine Bullock-Prado's cookbook "Pie It Forward". If I had the time I swear I would do a "Julie & Julia"- style thing and cook through the book cover to cover. Every recipe I've tried is fantastic so if you love pies and haven't checked the cookbook out yet, definitely see if you can grab a copy!

Cajun spices are fantastic and a definite favorite in this house. My husband requests jambalaya every year on his birthday and we've been known to celebrate with it on New Years Eve too. I want to give gumbo a try sometime soon, but this recipe for Low Country Boil Pie caught my eye.

Full of those delicious Cajun flavors we know and love, it blends peppers, corn, andouille, shrimp, potato and cheese into a one-crust savory pie that quickly became a must-have at our dinner table.

Serve it up with a big green salad (plus a cold beer) and you'll be ready to dig in!

The below recipe is barely adapted from "Pie It Forward" by Gesine Bullock-Prado

Low-Country Boil Pie

Ingredients For Crust

1 cup cold AP flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter (diced and chilled in the freezer for 10 min)
1/4 cup ice-cold water 
1/2 tsp. lemon juice

Ingredients For Pie

3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp. Cajun spice blend (I like Penzey's)
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup regular (non-quick cooking) grits
1 Idaho potato
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 diced red pepper
1jalapeno (seeded and diced)
1 cup corn kernels (if using frozen, make sure to thaw first)
1 link andouille sausage cut into small pieces
4 eggs
1/2 lb. fresh medium-sized shrimp (peeled with tails removed)

Instructions For The Crust

Pulse the flour, salt, sugar and butter together in the bowl of a food processor until the mixture resembles cornmeal. 

Stir together the ice water and lemon juice in a small bowl then add slowly to the flour mixture until the dough just comes together.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently press into the shape of a loose disk. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 and roll out your pie dough on a lightly floured surface before transferring it to line a 9" deep-dish pie plate. Dock the dough and freeze it for 20 minutes.

Line the crust with parchment paper, fill it with pie weights or dried beans and bake it for 15 minutes. Remove the weights and parchment then bake the crust for 5-10 more minutes until that raw-dough sheen goes away. Set aside.

Instructions For The Pie

Bring the chicken broth, Cajun spice, cayenne pepper and butter to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in the grits and whisk well until combined. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the mixture thickens (about 8-10 minutes).

Peel the potato, place it in a small saucepan filled with water and boil until it is fork-tender. Cool the potato and cut it into 1/2 inch cubes.

Stir the cheddar, cream, pepper, jalapeno, corn, andouille and potato into the grits until combined. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl just to break them up before stirring them into the grits mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste then stir in the shrimp.

Pour the mixture into the crust and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes, until the custard is set. Let cool 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.

I also recommend you place this pie on a rimmed cookie sheet before baking, as it has a tendency to spill over while baking.

Click Here For The Printable Version

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Pumpkin: Not Always Sweet, But Always Delicious

It's January so at this point I'm already sick of root veggies and apples, yearning for Spring and Summer produce. I love winter weather but the local produce scene here in Northern Indiana during these frozen tundra months is woefully root-themed.

This is a great time of year to experiment with those root veggies and make dishes that satisfy that "new" craving I have when I just can't eat one more roasted piece of squash! We're also well past the inundation of "pumpkin, pumpkin everywhere" so I feel like I can circle back to it safely.


This recipe is a simple risotto, which sounds kind of intimidating but honestly let's just call it creamy rice because that's what it is! I have an awesome go-to risotto recipe I love to make that has minimal stirring and you don't have to babysit it on the stove, but I wanted to try something new.

This pumpkin risotto is fantastic. Not only do you get in a great squash-like veggie, but the creaminess of the risotto topped with a little of that fabulous funky goat cheese elevates the entire dish!

If you're making this for your family and have pickier kiddos, just leave off the goat cheese and see if they'll go for the plainer version. Honestly it's fantastic either way and super-filling so I like to serve it up with a big green salad and a glass (or 2) of white wine.

Cheers to pumpkin being savory and not featured in every beverage on the menu! 

Cozy Pumpkin Risotto


4 cups vegetable broth (or use chicken in a pinch)
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling!)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. minced onion
1 tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Black pepper
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1½ cups Arborio rice
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ tsp. nutmeg
Fresh ground black pepper
8 oz crumbled goat cheese
½ cup dried cranberries


  1. Whisk together the vegetable broth and pumpkin in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring up to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low just to keep it warm.
  2. Melt the butter in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add in the onion, salt and a sprinkle of black pepper. Cook until the onion is translucent, then add in the thyme and rice and cook for one minute longer.
  3. Add the white wine vinegar and a ladle of warm stock and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated. Add another ladle of stock, and continue cooking until evaporated again.
  4. Continue cooking, adding a ladle of stock at a time, and allowing to evaporate in between each addition. Cook until the rice is cooked, but isn’t mushy. Should take about 20-30 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat then stir in parmesan and nutmeg. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed.
  6. Serve topped with the goat cheese and dried cranberries.
Barely adapted from an original recipe on

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Pie It Forward: Butterscotch Meringue Pie

Pie is a well-loved pastry in this house and I'm always looking for new recipes. I recently was able to get my hands on Gesine Bullock-Prado's fabulous "Pie It Forward" cookbook and am completely addicted. 

Sweet pies, savory pies, pizza pies, I want them all! Check out her blog G Bakes! for more of her amazing creations. I can't wait to try as many recipes as possible, hers always turn out flawlessly!

butterscotch pie

I've tried a few recipes so far and they've all been fantastic but the most visually stunning one has to be this Butterscotch Meringue Pie. Plus it gave me an excuse to finally buy a kitchen torch (much to my husband's chagrin).

This is in incredibly rich and delicious custard pie with  a toasted meringue on top that reminds me of a marshmallow, but not quite as sweet due to the balance of brown instead of white sugar in the meringue.

butterscotch pie

If you want a dessert that renders your friends speechless, this is the one to go with. It has a deliciously flaky crust combined with the butterscotchy/caramely filling and the toasty meringue that is completely addicting.

butterscotch pie

You just have to try it for yourself!

Butterscotch Meringue Pie
Recipe by Gesine Bullock-Prado, Pie It Forward

For The Crust
2 cups AP flour (cold)
1 cup cubed, chilled unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 room temperature egg, slightly beaten

Make & Bake The Crust
  1. Pulse together the flour, butter and salt in the bowl of a food processor until it looks like cornmeal. Whisk together the condensed milk and egg in a separate bowl and slowly add it to the flour mixture while pulsing the food processor until the dough just comes together.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently turn over a few times until it is smooth and the dry ingredients have completely integrated. Don't overwork it! 
  3. Shape the dough into a loose circle, wrap in plastic wrap and allow to rest in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 and roll out the dough into about an 11-inch circle. Line a 9-inch pie plate with it and crimp up the edges decoratively. Dock the bottom with a fork and freeze for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from freezer and line the crust with parchment paper. Fill with pie weights or dried beans and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the pie weights and parchment, then bake for 20 minutes more. You want it to be golden brown and baked through. Set aside on a cooling rack to cool completely.
For The Caramel "Lining"
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. salt

Make The Caramel "Lining"
  1. Combine the sugar, cream, butter and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring, until the sugar is melted. 
  2. Clip on a candy thermometer and heat until the caramel reaches 240 degrees, then remove from heat and allow to completely cool. 
For The Butterscotch Filling
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. vanilla bean paste
1/4 cup cornstarch
4 egg yolks
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk (divided)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Make The Butterscotch Filling
  1. Whisk together the brown sugar, vanilla, cornstarch, egg yolks, salt and 1/2 cup of the whole milk in a mixing bowl.
  2. Heat the remaining milk and the cream in a saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Slowly pour the milk-cream mixture into the sugar mixture, whisking constantly until smooth. 
  3. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking until it thickens to the consistency of mayonnaise. Transfer the custard to a bowl and cover with a piece of plastic wrap pressed directly on the surface to keep a skin from forming. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Make The Meringue & Assemble The Pie
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
4 egg whites
Pinch of salt
  1.  Pour the caramel into the cooled crust and smooth it along the bottom and sides, using the back of a spoon or a small offset spatula. Spoon the custard over the caramel and refrigerate until the filling is cooled and set.
  2. Begin making a meringue by combining the brown sugar and 1/3 cup of water in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring until the sugar has melted. Attach a candy thermometer and heat the sugar mixture until it reaches 234 degrees.
  3. While the sugar is cooking, place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk until the egg whites are foamy.
  4. Once the sugar syrup has reached 234 degrees, turn the mixer to medium-low and pour the syrup along the inside of the bowl (not directly in all at once, or the whites will scramble!) and increase the mixer speed to high and whisk until you have stiff, glossy peaks.
  5. Top the pie with meringue, creating swirls and peaks with the back of a spoon. Gently brown the meringue all over with a kitchen torch. Don't use a broiler, it will melt the pie! 
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