Blueberry Crumble Pie

I have been longing to make a homemade crust lately.  The last time I used a prepared crust, I just wasn’t happy with how it turned out – yes, it significantly cut down on the amount of time to make the pie, but it just wasn’t that good.  Also – I found a new gadget that I just love, and it makes rolling out pie crust so easy, you almost want to make one from scratch, just so you can use this thing.  I found it at Whole Foods one day, and decided that for $6, I have nothing to lose.  A prepared pie crust can cost up to that, so I figured I would be getting my money’s worth.

I tried it out for the first time during Thanksgiving – and it was awesome.  It made the most consistent homemade pie crust I have ever made, and it was so easy to get it into the pan.  No more worrying about folding it over, or rolling it, – I just unzipped the thing, and flipped it over on top of the plate.  This was my second or third time using it, and it worked like a charm.  When I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit, I decided it was time to make another crust.  Then I remembered my new gadget, and I was all over it.  This pie was excellent – not too sweet, not too tart, just perfect – and the crumble on the top was such a nice change from another pie crust.  So – no need to be afraid of pie crusts any longer – just get yourself a pie crust bag, and you will be making perfect pie crusts in an instant!  And no, I swear they are not paying me to say this…



  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus more for  surface
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut  into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher  salt

Filling and Topping

  • 2/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons  sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 2  tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 5 cups (1 pound 10 ounces) fresh  blueberries
  • 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose  flour
  • 3 tablespoons (packed) light brown  sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted,  cooled slightly

Special Equipment: Use a 9″-9 1/2″-diameter glass or metal pie dish. You will  need pie weights or dried beans to bake the crust.



Pulse 1 1/4 cups flour, butter, and salt in a food processor  until mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-size pieces remaining. Drizzle  3 tablespoons ice water over mixture. Pulse until moist clumps form, adding more  water by teaspoonfuls if mixture is dry. Transfer dough to a lightly floured  work surface. Divide into 4 equal pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time, use  the heel of your hand to smear each portion of dough twice in a forward motion  to distribute butter. Gather all 4 dough pieces into a ball. Flatten into a  disk, wrap in plastic, and chill dough until firm, at least 1 hour. DO  AHEAD Dough can be made up to 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to a 13″ round.  Transfer to pie dish, gently pressing dough onto bottom and up sides of dish.  Fold overhang under and crimp edges decoratively. Pierce bottom of crust in  several places with a fork, then chill until firm, about 30 minutes.

Line a large baking sheet with foil and place on a rack in  middle of oven; preheat to 375°. Line crust with parchment paper or foil and  fill with pie weights. Bake until crust is set, about 20 minutes. Carefully  remove parchment and pie weights. Bake until crust is pale golden, about 12  minutes longer. Transfer crust to a wire rack; let cool.

Filling and Topping

Whisk 2/3 cup sugar, cornstarch, and lemon zest in a large  bowl. Add blueberries and lemon juice; toss gently to coat and evenly  distribute. Let filling stand, tossing occasionally, until berries release their  juices, 20-30 minutes.

Whisk flour, remaining 3 tablespoons sugar,  light brown  sugar, cinnamon, and salt in  a medium bowl. Add melted butter; mix topping with  fingertips to blend.


Preheat oven to 375°. Spoon blueberry filling into crust, then  sprinkle topping over. Bake pie until filling is bubbling and topping is golden,  about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cover with foil after 30 minutes if browning too fast.

Let pie cool on a wire rack.

DO AHEAD Can be made 8  hours ahead. Let stand at room  temperature.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Blueberry Crumble Pie

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BBQ Brisket

My husband has a new best friend.  It is called the Big Green Egg (BGE for short).  He is obsessed – every night we talk about what he is going to make next.  I love it.  I swear, everything tastes better on the egg, I don’t know how we survived before with just a gas grill.  This is not a grill, this is a BBQ enabler.  And let me tell you, it is insane.  The best BBQ I have ever had, no joking.

So far this summer, he has been experimenting with all types of meat.  We have had steak, chicken, pork – all rediculously juicy and tender – and so moist – oh, and the flavor, bursting with flavor – every single time.  But, the brisket really knocked our socks off.  This was his first one, and the first one I didn’t prepare in the oven.  He started the process in the morning, then cooked it “slow and low” all day long.  The smell in our back yard was incredible – but it was nothing compared to how it tasted – tender and smokey, with the perfect amount of punch.  It was even better the next day.  He was so excited with how it turned out, he wanted to make sure I posted this – so this is his first recipe…welcome to the world of food blogging!


  • One 4-5 lb brisket
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup smoked paprika
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup beef broth


Put the salt, brown sugar, paprika, and pepper in a small bowl and stir to mix. (Your fingers actually work better for mixing the rub than a spoon or whisk does.)Store the rub in an airtight jar away from heat and light; it will keep for at least 6 months.  Makes about 3/4 cup

Apply a generous coat of the dry rub to the meat 1 to 8 hours prior to cooking (store in fridge).

Soak hickory chips in water for 1 hr prior to adding to coals.  Fill fire box of BGE with lump charcoal.  Light charcoal and add soaked hickory chips once flame has died down and center coals are glowing.  Add place setter (or cooking stone) on top of fire ring for indirect cooking.  Place grill on top of place setter.  Adjust cooking temperature to 225.

While setting up the fire, take brisket out of fridge and let warm to close to room temperature.  Barbeque brisket “slow and low” at a temperature in the 210 – 230 degrees F range until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 202 degrees F (approximately 8 hours).  Take brisket off the grill and triple wrap in tin foil with ½ cup of beef broth.  Allow brisket to rest in a room temperature cooler for 1 ½ hours.  Slice cross wise to the grain of the brisket. Enjoy!!!

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  BBQ Brisket

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Cucumber and Mint Martini

Cocktail time!!  The sun is finally shining, and it is a balmy 75 degrees here in Seattle, time to celebrate!  As you know, I am addicted to cocktails made with cucumber.  If I am ever out and see one on the menu, I look no further.  I am starting to think I am not the only one out there, since I am starting to see them more and more – which makes me very happy…

About a year ago in New York City, I  met an old friend from high school at Mercer Kitchen in SOHO.  I heard the bar was decent, but I had no idea what I was in for.  I got there first, and I didn’t see a cocktail menu, so I just went safe and ordered a Cosmopolitan.  It was excellent, I must say.  My friend came, and she ordered one as well.  Just as they were delivering her drink, I noticed the bartender out of the corner of my eye – she was garnishing a martini glass with a cucumber.  I asked her what it was, and she told me it was a Cucumber Mint Martini (or something like that) – I really only heard the cucumber part, and I ordered one.  It was amazing – seriously amazing, I had two.  I don’t drink a lot, but these were just too good.  My friend also ordered a couple and she was hooked.

It just so happens that this friend moved to Seattle just nine months later…and I told her that when I have her over for dinner, that I would figure out the recipe for our favorite drink.  I think I got it – at least she thinks so as well.  Now I keep sliced cucumbers and simple syrup in the refrigerator so I am ready whenever I get the urge…just like tonight.


  • 5 thin slices of cucumber
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons simple syrup
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup Hendrick’s Gin (or Vodka if you prefer)
  • Ice


To make simple syrup, put equal parts of sugar and water in a small saucepan and heat until all the sugar is dissolved and bowl for a few minutes.  Cool.

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the cucumber, simple syrup and mint leaves.  Add the fresh lime juice and the gin or vodka.  Shake with ice, then strain in a martini glass.

Makes 1 delicious martini.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Cucumber and Mint Martini

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Orzo Salad with Radish and Fennel

My family is afraid of vinegar.  I know, how can you be afraid of vinegar?  I didn’t believe it either, but it is true.  As soon as I take a bottle of vinegar out of the pantry, my family runs for the hills.  I am the only one that likes salad dressing (aside from my youngest, but she will only eat ranch dressing), and when I have to cook with vinegar, it is mandatory to open all the windows – even if it is cold and raining outside (oh, have I mentioned that we have only had 72 minutes over 75 degrees this year?), the windows need to be wide open for the smell to escape.  I have learned over the years that it is best to cook with vinegar when I am the only one in the house – and since that almost never happens, my vinegar bottles remain very full in the pantry – longing for me to find discrete ways to use them.

Because of the issue with vinegar, pasta salads are not very popular in our house.  I love them, and look for them every day in the salad bar at work – and for that matter, I cover my salad with balsamic vinegar every day.  I saw this recipe in Cooking Light – and what caught my eye was the fact that it was missing a key ingredient – yes, vinegar!  I had to give it a try, I had nothing to lose – and I was able to keep the windows shut.  So, here was the funny part – it actually wasn’t that good the first night I served it.  The dressing was too strong, and the orzo and veges needed more time to marinate.  The next day though, it was awesome.  I had no intention of blogging about this, until I had the leftovers.  The flavors really came together in perfect harmony, music to my mouth.  So – give this one a try, but you must make it ahead of time and let it sit – it is definitely a pasta salad well worth the wait.


  • 8 ounces uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups diced fennel (about 1 bulb)
  • 1/2 cup chopped radish
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 3 tablespoons minced green onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted


Cook orzo pasta with 1 tablespoon kosher salt according to the package directions, omitting additional fat. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain well.

Combine lemon juice and next 3 ingredients (through pepper) in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add orzo, fennel, and the next 4 ingredients (through 1/2 teaspoon salt); toss well to coat. Cover and chill. Top with nuts before serving.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Orzo Salad

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Apple Crisp with Oat Streusel

I know it is not apple crisp season, but here in Seattle, it is.  We have had a few days of summer so far, but today we have fast forwarded to fall.  I am seriously starting to worry that it may not break out of the 70s this summer.  I am trying to find the good in this, and cooking and baking is all I can find, besides all the money we are saving by not watering outside.  When the weather is like this, all I want to do is stay home and create yummy treats in the kitchen.

Apple crisp is one of my husband’s favorite desserts.  I didn’t make this one completely dairy free, but I didn’t use too much butter, so it seemed to be fine.  I actually found some dairy free earth balance sticks today at Whole Foods, that I am excited to try – I will let you know what I think.  So, I saw a recipe in Bon Appetit for an Apple Pie with Oat Streusel – but in order to cut down on the amount of butter, I decided to just make an apple crisp with the oat streusel – and boy was it amazing.  There was so much topping, it really didn’t need a crust at all.  I had a bunch of apples already in the house, so I used quite the variety – and it definitely worked – the apples were a nice caramel flavor, and the topping perfectly crisp.  The girls and I had some with whipped cream, but it definitely didn’t need it.  A perfect dessert for a not so summer day…



  • 3 pounds Pippin apples or Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into scant 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown  sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter,  melted
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose  flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground  cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground  allspice
  • Generous pinch of  salt


  • 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose  flour
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown  sugar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 7 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats



Toss all ingredients in large bowl. Let stand while preparing topping.


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Mix together first 6 ingredients. Add butter, using your hands until the mixture is crumbly.  Add oats. Transfer filling to a greased 9×9 baking dish. Sprinkle topping evenly over.

Bake crisp until topping is golden, about 40 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake until apples are tender when pierced with small  sharp knife and filling is bubbling, covering pie loosely with foil if topping and crust are browning  too quickly, about 30 hour longer.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Apple Crisp with Oat Streusel

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Spinach Gunge

Before I get into the food – I am writing this without power.  Ok, I have power on my laptop, but I am without connectivity, and therefore will not be able to post this tonight like I had planned.  By the time I paste this into wordpress,  I will either be on a shuttle to work, or with some luck, they restored the power.  Good thing I actually finished making dinner before the power went out – but unfortunately I didn’t finish cleaning up, and now I have a mound of dishes in the dishwasher waiting for power.  What that also means, is that my girls are not going to have a cold lunch for camp tomorrow – I actually made them a complete lunch without even opening the refrigerator.  Peanut butter and fluff sandwiches it is!  I almost made one for myself they looked so good.

Ok, back to the post. I know what you are thinking right now – how can a dish called Spinach Gunge actually taste good?  The word gunge just sounds too much like grunge and sponge – how can anything called that be delicious?  Well, the funny thing is, when I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit, I thought the same thing.  Then I read the ingredients, and realized that this really was a version of creamed spinach – with a lot of cheese.  I decided to make this to see if the girls would eat it.  I knew I would eat it (because seriously, mix anything with butter, cream and cheese, and how can it taste bad?), but I wasn’t sure they would – and if they did, boy would I be proud.  So I gave it a whirl, but no such luck.  Neither one of them liked it, I on the other hand, absolutely loved it!  It was super creamy, lots of flavor – and look at that color – just spectacular!  I had to surround the bowl with more spinach just so you could see that it is exactly the same color – vibrant as can be.  So don’t be afraid – take the plunge – and make the spinach gunge!


  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds fresh spinach, stemmed
  • 1 1/2 cup s(lightly packed) grated Pecorino, Parmesan, or Manchego cheese  (about 3 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground  black pepper


Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Working in 4  batches, add spinach to pot, tossing to wilt between batches. Stir in cheese,  crème fraîche, and mustard. Using an immersion blender, regular blender, or food  processor, purée spinach mixture until very smooth. Season to taste with salt  and pepper.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Spinach Gunge

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Mexican Chocolate Cream Pie

I have to wonder what is with the cream pies lately – first coconut, now chocolate, am I suddenly becoming obsessed with cream pies?  No, don’t worry – I think after this one I am done for a while, but I have to admit, they are pretty amazing.  So, I have been putting off writing about this for a while…but I don’t think I can hold it in any longer.  My husband is allergic to dairy products – not just lactose, but dairy.  I still am not sure I have completely grasped it – but maybe writing this will help it sink in.  So what exactly does this mean?  It means that I am going to start making more sorbet, and more deserts without dairy.  It doesn’t mean that I am going to stop baking with butter though…I can’t, and my girls would be very upset if I did.  So – from now on, there will be certain deserts that he can enjoy, and certain ones that I will enjoy with the girls.  I have already starting cooking without dairy – using a lot of coconut milk, and even coconut yogurt – and for the most part it has worked pretty well.  Stay tuned…but again, if you are not interested in dairy-free cooking, you will still enjoy my blog, I am definitely not giving it up.  I am completely crazy about all things dairy…and that will not change.

So back to this pie – this has dairy written all over it (I of course used real whipped cream instead of the non-dairy whipped topping the recipe called for) – and I didn’t even try to substitute.  I brought this over to a friend’s house, so I didn’t have to consume the entire pie myself with a little help from my very slender daughters.  The pie (from Cooking Light) was outstanding – the chocolate had a hint of cinnamon (thus calling it “mexican”) and the graham cracker crust was amazing.  It was probably the last chocolate cream pie I will enjoy for a little while, I am just really glad it was so delicious…always nice to end on a high note.



  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 10 cookie sheets), divided
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons egg white
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Cooking spray


  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 3/4 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen reduced-calorie whipped topping, thawed


Preheat oven to 375°.

To prepare the crust, reserve 1 tablespoon crumbs for topping. Combine the remaining crumbs, 2 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a bowl, stirring well. Stir in egg white and butter. Press crumb mixture into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 9 minutes or until lightly toasted; cool completely on a wire rack.

To prepare filling, combine 1/2 cup sugar and the next 7 ingredients (through egg yolk) in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Place the milk in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat; cook until milk reaches 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge (do not boil). Gradually add hot milk to egg mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Return milk mixture to pan; cook over medium heat 10 minutes or until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; stir until smooth.

Place pan in a large ice-filled bowl for 10 minutes or until mixture cools, stirring occasionally. Spoon filling into crust, and cover surface of filling with plastic wrap. Chill for 3 hours or until set; remove plastic wrap. Spread the whipped topping over filling; sprinkle with reserved cracker crumbs.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Mexican Chocolate Cream Pie

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