Delicious Simple Red Sauce (Whole30 Compliant)

Friends! I mentioned starting Whole 30 in my last Wellness Wednesday post, then immediately fell off the face of the Earth. The thing is, I didn’t really want to talk a lot about it up front, in case I did a terrible job and stopped committing, like, a week in. Here I am, though- almost through Week 4 and going so strong! Just five more days, and my Whole 30 is complete.

{its like hearing angels singing}

So I’ve successfully committed and I’ve seen some great results- I’ll talk more about those next week. What I want to do today is start to share some recipes that have played a big role in my diet lately. (In case you’re wondering, my Whole 30 strategy was very basic- I counted on about a half a dozen basic recipes, with slight variations, to get me through my first time).

Easiest Red SauceToday’s recipe is my Simple Red Sauce (which I’ve been making for years, well before I was even aware of Whole 30). Italian food is one of my comfort foods, and I really wanted to find a way to integrate parts of what I already love into my program menu. I also knew that if I changed too radically, it would just feel like a temporary diet, and not something sustainable. So this red sauce was really key to keeping my food familiar, interesting, and still really healthy.

This recipe has 4-5 ingredients, so it’s pretty simple (perfect for non-chefs!). When you cook with that few ingredients, you really need to make sure to use the best quality you can find and afford. For that reason, I strongly urge you to find some San Marzano whole tomatoes. They’re about $4 for the can, compared something like $1.60 for store brand, but they seriously make a world of difference in the flavor (I know, because I spent so long saying that it was silly to pay extra when the store brand was probably comparable- it’s not). You can usually find these either by the pasta sauce, or in the international foods aisle.

Easiest red sauce2

A few more common questions- why buy whole tomatoes? Because a cooking instructor once shared that they’re better quality than diced or pureed, because you can see exactly what you’re working with, so now that’s what I do. And it doesn’t really take that long to blend them. And why make your own sauce? Because why not? Seriously, though, most tomato sauces have added sugar and other preservatives and weird things. Whole 30 is all about eating as close to nature as you can, so I like my food to be as unprocessed as possible. Short of using actual, ripe tomatoes, this is as good as it gets for sauce…and its pretty good. Just saying 🙂

Basic Red Sauce

  • ½ sweet yellow onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (optional, I guess)
  • Olive oil
  • 28 oz can san marzano tomatoes
  • Kosher salt

Prep: Dice your onion to your specifications- I go between a fine dice and a rough chop, depending on how I’m using my sauce. Mince your garlic finely (or use squeeze garlic- seriously, that’s one place I don’t blame you for cutting corners). Empty the tomatoes into the blender and pulse a few times until you have a consistency that you like.

Sauce: heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a wide sauce pan. Add the onions and a generous pinch of salt and cook on medium or medium low for about 7 minutes, stirring occassionally. You want to onions to get translucent, and start to take on color very slowly- that’s how they start to caramelize and add amazing flavor to the sauce. After 7 or 8 minutes, add the garlic and continue to cook for another 2 minutes on relatively low heat. Garlic burns easily and then gets bitter, so really pay attention once you add it to the pan. When the garlic starts to soften and get really fragrant, add the tomatoes to the pan and cook on a medium heat for about ten minutes. You can put a lid on the pan to keep excess water from evaporating, or leave the lid off to cook out some of the water for a thicker sauce. As always, add some water to thin if you’d like to change the texture. Salt to taste (I usually add two or three generous pinches of salt) and serve however you’d like.

You’ll see next week that I use this with meatballs over zoodles, in zucchini boats stuffed with ground meat, with grilled stuffed peppers- there are so many options, and this is a delicious base for many Whole 30 meals.

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Chipotle Beef Flautas…Taquitos?

It’s Tuesday, and you know Tuesdays mean tacos around this blog…or something like tacos. This week we’re looking at some Chipotle Beef Flautas. When we made quesadillas last week, I used a three pound beef roast. Since we’re a two person household, you know there was some (a ton!) left over, so we just froze it in a ziplock bag, and set it in the freezer to thaw when we wanted to make flautas.

Chipotle Beef Flautas 3Here’s the thing about flautas- they are arguably indistinguishable from taquitos, and they’re usually deep fried, and I have a somewhat irrational affinity for them. (Also, they don’t look lovely in photographs, but you’ll just have to suffer through that.) I’m not so comfortable with deep frying, so I did a quick pan fry instead. Since I used the leftover beef, they took about five minutes to assemble and less to inhale. Serve with some pice and yesterday’s Summer Salad, and you have a delicious and somewhat balanced weeknight meal.

Chipotle Beef Flautas 2

Chipotle Beef Flautas…Taquitos?

–          1 cup shredded beef (whatever you have left over) from last week’s recipe
–          ½ cup shredded cheese
–          ½ small red onion, minced
–          4 flour tortillas
–          Pico, salsa or guacamole

Prepare filling: in a small skillet, saute the beef until it is warmed through. Mix in the cheese and onion (you can do this in the pan, but I didn’t want the cheese to stick so I used a separate bowl).

Prepare flautas: Heat about ¼ inch of oil in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat. Divide the filling evenly between tortillas, and roll tightly (make sure to leave some space at each end, so the filling doesn’t fall out). One at a time, set the flauta in the oil, seam side down. Turn regularly, so that all sides are a deep golden brown. Drain briefly on paper towels, and enjoy immediately with a topping of your choice.

This entry was posted in Food.

Summer Chopped Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette

Like many of you (some of you?) I try to organize my life a little with meal planning, so that I know what we’re planning to make every night and can, hopefully, do one main shopping trip each week. With the help of Pinterest, deciding on meals isn’t usually difficult. Choosing side dishes, though, is another story- for some reason side dish options are either not readily apparent to me, or don’t appeal at all, or don’t meet the needs of my household (our needs our usually vegetables, and the hard part is finding veggies that will satisfy everyone…so).

Summer Salad with Honey Lime Vinegarette

Welp, friends, what has solved all of my problems in the chopped salad. Chopped salad is somehow different than regular salad, even while seeming the exact same. I suspect the difference is in the lettuce- a) that there’s a lower lettuce to not-lettuce ratio and b) that it’s diced, and not in those unwieldy leaves. This summer I’ve grown particularly fond of this chopped salad with a bright lime vinaigrette, made a tiny bit spicy with some smoke chipotle powder. As a side dish, it’s perfect for Taco Tuesdays (similar flavor profile), but it also makes a great main with the addition of some black beans or chopped chicken. Leave out or sub what you don’t like- this salad if full of options!

Summer Salad with Honey Lime Vinegarette 2

 Summer Chopped Salad with Honey Lime Vinaigrette

–          1 small head lettuce
–          ½ English cucumber
–          1 colored pepper
–          1 tomato
–          ¼ red onion
–          2 ears corn
–          1 tbsp Dijon mustard
–          1 lime
–          1 tbsp honey
–          ¼ cup olive oil
–          ¼ tsp smoke chipotle powder (or cumin, or chili powder, or some red pepper flakes)
–          Salt

 Prepare veggies: rinse everything. Then, chop lettuce into about 1-inch pieces. Halve the cucumber lengthwise, remove the seeds with a spoon, and chop into small cubes; dice the tomato and pepper into similar sizes. Finely dice the red onion. Spray the ears of corn and grill, either on a grill, over the flame on your gas stove, or under a broiler; let them cool, then cut the corn from cobs. Put all of these ingredients into a medium sized bowl and toss.

 Prepare dressing: it’s so easy to make your own vinaigrette! Clean out an old jelly jar, or use a sealable Tupperware. Add the mustard, juice of one lime, honey, olive oil, chipotle powder and generous pinch of salt. Seal the container, and shake vigorously. Remove the lid, taste, and season again.

 Prepare the salad: Salt and pepper your veggies. (If you’re looking for a heartier salad, toss in a can of drained and rinsed black beans, or a chopped chicken breast.) Then, dress with about half of the dressing and toss. IF you need more dressing, use more dressing. If you don’t….don’t. Enjoy!

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French Toast with Bourbon Caramel Bananas

Guys, can we talk about breakfast for dinner? And then briefly touch on the bananas that are too ripe to eat, but every time that Evan attempts to throw them away I freak out and insist that I’m going to make banana bread, even though I think I’ve only made banana bread twice, and then I stopped trying because the middle is always still liquid when the outside is dark brown? And I know that’s not only me, right?

French Toast with Bourbon Caramel Bananas

Anyway, here’s the thing: breakfast for dinner is possibly my favorite thing, because breakfast is usually sweet things, and potatoes, and bacon. All of those things are good. Evan, for who knows what reason, really protests breakfast for dinner, suggesting that breakfast only belongs in the morning. This man is a stickler for rules.

Obviously, this means I make BFD on duty days, and relish it hard core. This week, as I was contemplating my menu, I glanced at the past-their-prime bananas that almost got trashed over the weekend and knew exactly how I would use them (spoiler: not making bread). No, these bananas were destined to be mixed into a glorious bourbon caramel and spooned generously over golden French toast triangles. It’s not hard, at all, and is way more satisfying than syrup- really.

French Toast with Bourbon Caramel Bananas 2

French Toast with Bourbon Caramel Bananas

–          1 Tbsp butter
–          ¼ cup brown sugar
–          Pinch of salt
–          2 Tbsp bourbon
–          1 Tbsp cream (heavy, or half and half, or milk…no rules)
–          2 bananas, at any stage of ripeness
–          3 eggs
–          ½ cup milk (let’s just say dairy product)
–          ½ tsp vanilla
–          ½ tsp cinnamon
–          6 slices bread (thick, old bread is the best option, but I only had Texas Toast this week. Use what you have)

Make the caramel: in a skillet, ideally one with a heavy bottom, melt the butter and stir in the sugar, salt and bourbon. Let it bubble up and, once it gets nice and foamy, allow to cook for about a minute- it should be a slightly thick, syrup-y consistency. Remove from the heat, and stir in the cream, and gently fold in the banana slices. Set aside, and allow to cool a bit.

Make the toast: whisk together the eggs, milk or dairy product, vanilla and cinnamon. Add some butter to a skillet or griddle that’s over medium heat and coat the bottom. Working with one slice of bread at a time, dip each side into the egg mixture and lay on the griddle. Allow to cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until lovely and golden. Plate the French toast, spread with butter if you like, and spoon over the banana caramel, and try not to explode with joy.

What say you, friends- what’s your favorite breakfast for dinner? Or, like Evan, are you irrationally opposed to the concept?

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Shredded Beef and Roasted Vegetable Quesadillas

It’s funny how Taco Tuesday comes around every. single. week. and I never get tired of making or eating Mexican inspired food! This week we’re continuing our deviation from tacos, specifically, with quesadillas. Roasted Veggie Shredded Beef Quesadillas 2For this week, our quesadilla recipe was pretty intentional- beef had time to stew in a spicy marinade in the crock pot all day, and I have quite the bounty of fresh vegetables ready for roasting. Usually, though, quesadillas can easily turn into one of my fridge clean out go-to meals- we always have cheese and tortillas hanging around, so it’s usually just a matter of assembling some sort of other filling. So open your cupboards, check out what’s available, and join me in my quesadilla appreciation!   Roasted Veggie Shredded Beef Quesadillas   Shredded Beef and Roasted Vegetable Quesadillas

–          2-3 pound beef roast
–          4 chipotle peppers in adobo
–          2 garlic cloves
–          Handful of cilantro leaves
–          1 tbsp cumin
–          1 can or bottle of beer
–          1/2 sweet onion, sliced
–          1 zucchini
–          8 oz mushrooms
–          1 bell pepper
–          ½ sweet onion
–          8 tortillas
–          1 cup shredded cheese

Prepare the beef: in a blender or food processor, mix the chipotle peppers, garlic, cilantro and cumin. Pour into a crock pot, and stir in the beer and sliced onions. Place roast in the cooking liquid, and cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 4-6 hours. When this is done, remove the beef from the crock pot, shred, and return to the juice to keep warm. This is something that you can definitely do over the weekend, then use the beef all week, if you’re prepared like that. Prepare the veggies: Dice the zucchini, mushrooms, pepper and onion into pieces about 1 centimeter square- you want them all to be about the same size, and not too big. Heat a cast iron skillet to high heat. Add some oil to the hot pan, and toss veggies for about five minutes, until they’re a bit softened and have some color. You can also prep this step well in advance.Roasted Veggie Shredded Beef Quesadillas 3Prepare the quesadillas: after years of improving our stuffed quesadilla technique, Evan and I have found the best way to make them with tons of filling, but so they still stick together (because you know when you put a layer of cheese, and then a layer of stuff on top, the two tortillas never stick to each other). So, it’s pretty much rocket science- very carefully, mix some of the veggies with some of the beef and some of the cheese in a bowl (whatever proportions you like). In a skillet over medium high heat, lay one tortilla, top with the filling mix spread to the edges, and cover with another tortilla. Ta da! The cheese mixed throughout the filling acts like glue, so everything stays in. Brown on each side, slice into 4 or 6 pieces, and enjoy with a ton of guac and pico.

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Almond Ice Cream with Cherry Compote and Brown Butter Streusel

Hi, I’m Erin and I cannot stop making ice cream.

Cherry Almond Ice Cream 3   Seriously, you guys…I’d wanted an ice cream make for years, but thought that it would take up way too much space for the few times I would use it. As it turns out- I was wrong. It takes up space, sure, but I’m making so much ice cream!

I made my inaugural batch of ice cream about two weeks ago. We had all of those fresh cherries, so I decided to go with a cherry ice cream. Obvious, right? But then, for some texture, I decided that I’d like a streusel situation swirled through and we ended up with a brown butter oat streusel. But wait- cherry goes really well with almonds, right? So we did an almond ice cream, with a sweet cherry compote and brown butter streusel.

Cherry Almond Ice CreamAnd, friends, it’s so easy- I thought ice cream making would be a process, but it really wasn’t. Notably, I used Jeni’s Ice Cream Base (of the ridiculously amazing Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, founded in Columbus). Here’s what I did…

Almond Ice Cream with Cherry Compote and Brown Butter Streusel

–          2 cups milk
–          4 tsp cornstarch
–          1 ¼ heavy cream
–          2/3 cup sugar and 2 tbsp sugar
–          2 tbsp corn syrup
–          ¼ tsp kosher salt
–          1 ½ oz cream cheese
–          1 tsp almond extract
–          1 tbsp butter, and 1 tbsp butter, melted
–          2/3 cup chopped cherries
–          Juice of ½ lemon
–          2 tbsp brown sugar
–          1/3 cup oats
–          1/3 cup slivered almonds
–          ½ tsp cinnamon
–          Sprinkle of kosher salt

Make the base: In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and 2-3 tbsp of the milk, and set aside. In a saucepan, bring the rest of the milk, the cream, 2/3 cup sugar, and the salt to a boil, and boil for 4 minutes exactly. Stir in the slurry, and boil for about a minute. In a small bowl (I used the same one I had the starch mixture in) mix the cream cheese with about ½ cup of the milk mixture, until it’s completely lump free. Mix the cheese and milk mixtures together, stir in the almond extract, and cool completely. Note: some people use an ice bath to cool the base immediately, but I like to make the base the day before, and let it sit in the fridge. This is also helpful because it reminds me to put my ice cream maker into the freezer to sit overnight, as well.

Make the compote: Melt the butter over medium heat, and add the chopped cherries, 1 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp sugar. Cook until the sugar is melted and the mixture has reduced to a thick syrup. Remove from the heat and stir in lemon juice. I also recommend making this ahead of time, so it has time to cool before you stir it into the ice cream.

Make the streusel: In a mixing bowl, stir together the 1 tbsp melted butter, brown sugar, oats, almonds, cinnamon, and salt. Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 350 until the almonds are slightly brown, about ten minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on these and mix regularly, because it’s so easy for nuts to burn!

Make the ice cream: assemble your ice cream maker. Pour the base into the freezer and freeze according to your manufacturer’s instructions. When there are about five minutes left, add the cherry compote and continue to freeze. Once my mixture had reached a firm soft-serve stage, I removed the bowl from the machine and used a wooden spoon to stir in the streusel (it seemed like that might be more than my freezer could handle). Then transfer the ice cream to freezer containers and freeze for at least two hours, to really firm up. Or, I mean, eat it as soon as everything is mixed. Totally your call 🙂

Cherry Almond Ice Cream 4I have one more ice cream recipe in the chute (thanks to our amazing local farmers market) but then I need ideas. I’m thinking something with banana and nutella, or smores, or peanut butter and brownies. Any suggestions, or flavor profiles you love?

 

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Strawberry Banana Nutella Tart

Guys, it’s a summer Polar Vortex. I don’t know what your weather looks like, but Central Ohio is looking pretty grey and bleary, and is unseasonably chilly. And I’ve had a crazy week, so I just want to change into yoga pants and snuggle with Howie. And also, I need some dessert. And also, I don’t feel like being at all productive.

IMG_5388 You can see where I am in life, right now.

Anyway, recently I just wanted dessert, but I didn’t want anything standard like ice cream or brownies. And I wanted chocolate, but also fruit. And I didn’t really feel like putting out a supreme effort. I reviewed to contents of my kitchen and realized that this Nutella tart was absolutely my solution- nothing has ever been easier. Check it out!

Nutella Tart 2 Fruit Nutella Tart

–          1 sheet puff pastry
–          1 jar Nutella (I used an off brand, and it was perfect)
–          Sliced fruit (I love Nutella with bananas and strawberries)

Step one: spread the tart into whatever pan you can find, and ideally up the sides of the pan, to create a lip for the Nutella. Pierce all over with a fork, to prevent air bubbles, and bake as instructed on your packaging.

Step two: spread Nutella. This step can conveniently occur immediately after removing the pastry from the over, or after it cooks. No rules here, friends. Do think about using the entire jar, though- I thought it would be too much….it’s not.

Step three: top with sliced fruit. You can make it look all fancy, with concentric circles, if you like. Or just chop it up and drop it on, and call it artistic.

Step four: Consume immediately. This sounds a little melodramatic, but I’d try to eat it within an hour or so of assembling. A) it’s delicious, and there’s no reason to withhold, but b) the fruit can get a little weepy and Nutella doesn’t love the extra liquid.

Nutella TartSo good, friends, and so easy. Perfect for brunch…and any other time.

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Spicy Chicken Lettuce Wraps

It’s Taco Tuesday, and this week I’ve taken some poetic license. I always think of lettuce wraps as a form of taco (you know, replace the tortilla with lettuce) but Evan pointed out that you can also replace the bread of a sandwich with lettuce, which results in a very similar product. I suggested that lettuce wraps can be whatever the chef intended them to be, and Evan just raised his eyebrows at me. This is our life…sometimes debating world affairs, sometimes classifying lettuce usage.

Lettuce Wraps 2   For the sake of blogging, at least, I’m proposing that today’s Spicy Chicken Lettuce Wraps fit the bill for Taco Tuesday. They’re pretty simple (ground meat, some veggies, seasoning) and totally delicious. I know that many lettuce wraps are topped with deep fried rice noodles for the crunch, but I’m sporadically on a health kick (as long as you don’t consider yesterday’s cream pie) so I used julienned carrots and cucumbers, which were just as crunchy and far less deep fried. But hey, this is America, so have all the deep fried noodles you like, if you’re so inspired. Either way, the lettuce wraps are a perfect week night dinner choice, so give them a try!

LEttuce Wraps 3

Spicy Chicken Lettuce Wraps 

–          1 lb ground chicken
–          2 tbsp olive oil
–          ½ onion
–          1 bell pepper
–          8 oz mushrooms
–          2 cloves garlic
–          2 inch piece of ginger
–          1/4 cup hoisin sauce
–          2 tbsp sriracha sauce
–          2 tbsp soy sauce
–          1 tbsp sesame oil (don’t leave this out or substitute it!)
–          Lettuce
–          2 Carrots
–          1 Cucumber
–          2 Green onions

Prepare the ingredients: dice the onion and pepper, and chop the mushrooms to similar sized pieces, and set aside. Mince the garlic finely, and peel and mince the ginger. (I like to use a microplane for ginger, but many people mince it the same way they would garlic…do whatever feels right for you.) In a separate bowl, make the sauce by mixing the hoisin, sriracha, soy and sesame oil. Separate the lettuce leaves (I used iceberg, because my grocery was completely out of everything else, but bibb lettuce and romaine are great alternatives with solid leaves), rinse and dry. Shred the carrots and the cucumber, and thinly slice the green onion for chopping.

Make the filling: preheat a heavy bottomed pan to high heat. When it’s hot, add olive oil and then add the ground chicken, stirring with a wooden spoon to break it up. In my experience, chicken releases a fair amount of liquid- continue to cook until that liquid has evaporated, and the chicken is slightly browned. At that point, add the vegetables with the garlic and ginger and cook for about three more minutes, until the veggies are softened, and the mixture is fragrant. (Remember to maintain pretty high heat, and keep moving the mixture!) When everything is cooked through, stir in the sauce and continue to stir fry for a minute, so the sauce is mixed in and everything is hot.

Assemble: lay out the lettuce leaves and spoon in the mixture (depending on what lettuce I’m using, I sometimes double the leaves so they’re less flimsy). Top with cucumber, carrots and green onions, and keep some extra sriracha in case you want a bit more spice. Enjoy!Lettuce Wraps

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Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie

Sometimes, I get an idea for a recipe in my head that I have to sit on for a really long time before I can finally commit to making it. This Banana Cream Pie was on such recipe. First, I really struggled with the topping- should it be meringue or whipped cream? The last one I had, in Central America, was meringue. An informal Twitter poll, though, showed that most people prefer whipped cream…and also pointed out that, as a cream pie, meringue was not at all called for.

After the topping was settled, I got really fixated on a peanut butter addition. Evan and I love peanut butter banana on sandwiches and in milkshakes, and it seemed like a perfect combination for this pie. My struggle was, where to put it- nutter butter crust? Maybe too sweet. A layer of peanut butter cream on top of regular crust? I was thinking that might be a little too heavy, or sticky. Finally, with some reservations, I decided to make a layer of peanut butter mousse, then add banana slices, banana pastry cream, and cover the entire thing with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

Peanut Butter Pie 2And…it was perfection. There are no pictures of the gorgeous layers because I took it to the fire station, where they demolished it.  This pie was amazing, and completely surpassed all expectations. I cannot recommend it more highly. Even people who were skeptical of banana cream pie loved it.

So. Good.

Peanut Butter Banana PiePeanut Butter Banana Cream Pie

–          1 pie crust
–          1 pint heavy whipping cream
–          ½ tsp vanilla and 1 tsp vanilla
–          ¼ cup powdered sugar and ½ cup powdered sugar
–          ¼ cup peanut butter (any kind will be fine)
–          4 oz cream cheese (any level of fat)
–          2 bananas and 3 bananas, sliced
–          2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp butter
–          2 cups milk or cream
–          2 tbsp corn starch
–          2 tbsp flour
–          4 egg yolks

Ok, I will admit- this recipe has many steps. But it also has a lot of layers, and is amazingly delicious. None  of the steps are complicated, and I’ll walk you through them. It’s so worth it- I promise!

Make the crust: here’s a truth- I use Pillsbury frozen pie crusts. They’re delicious and easy and inexpensive. Especially for complex pies, I let someone else make the crust for me. So, either thaw your premade crust, or prepare a recipe for a single shell pie. Settle it into your pie plate, crimp the edges as you wish, and prick all over with a fork (pricking with a fork, all the way through to the pie plate, allows the steam to escape so that the crust doesn’t rise while it bakes…and is very important in blind baking). Bake at 400 for 12 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

Make the whipped cream: so easy! First, you want to start with a cold bowl and cold ingredients. IF you’re using stand mixer, place the metal bowl in the freezer for 15-30 minutes before you start to whip the cream. If you’re using a hand mixer or, God bless you, a whisk, make sure that you use a glass or metal bowl…plastic bowls really won’t cut it for this. Once your bowl is very cold, add the pint of cream, the ½ tsp vanilla, and the ¼ cup powdered sugar. Whip until semi-stiff peaks form- that’s when, as you pull the whisk out of the cream, a peak will hold but have rounded tips. You really want to watch this step, because if you over whip you can actually separate the milk fat and create butter. Fortunately, there’s a pretty clear ‘grainy’ stage in between where you’re still okay, so just keep an eye out for that. It takes less than ten minutes to whip cream to perfection, so have patience!

Make the peanut butter mousse: Move the whipped cream into another bowl. In your now empty but not rinsed mixing bowl, beat 1 tsp vanilla with the cream cheese, peanut butter and ½ cup powdered sugar until fluffy. Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a rubber spatula, fold in about one cup of your whipped cream. Folding is easy- it’s just gently and slowly mixing, so that everything is incorporated without losing all the air you just whipped in. Once the mousse is all mixed, you can place it and the remaining whipped cream in the fridge until the pastry cream is ready.

Make the pastry cream: you might do this in two stages. First, melt 2 tbsp butter in a sauce pan with 2 bananas, cut into quarters or eighths. Saute for a minute or two until soft. Add the cream or milk, and bring to a boil. Boil for a minute, then remove from the heat and let the bananas ‘steep’ in the milk for a half an hour or so. This might be when you take care of the whipped cream and mousse.

Part 2- strain the bananas out of the cream or milk and discard. In a small bowl, mix the sugar, flour and corn starch. Whisk in a little bit of the banana milk, and make a lump- free paste. Add the paste back to the milk in the sauce pan, bring to a simmer, cook for two minutes while stirring, and remove from heat. In another small bowl (or the same one from before, really) separate the egg yolks and stir together. Take about a half cup of the thickened milk mixture and stir into the egg yolks. (This is called tempering the eggs. If we just added them straight to the milk, they might be shocked by the temperature and scramble…not ideal. So we introduce them gently to the heat.) Return the egg mixture to the milk, bring to a boil, and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat, whisk in 2 tbsp butter and 1 tsp vanilla, and cool completely.

 Assemble the pie: as a reminder, everything should be cool when you assemble. So, start with the pie crust and top with the peanut butter mousse. Arrange the sliced bananas in a layer and top with the banana pastry cream. For the whipped cream, I used a pastry bag to make pretty swirls, but you can certainly spoon it on and swirl nicely. I’d recommend letting everything settle for maybe an hour in the fridge, and then enjoy!

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Lemon Blueberry Madeleines

Lemon blueberry everything, please and thank you.

I’ve been kind of obsessed with the idea of lemon blueberry baked goods for a few months. I attended a baby shower in March where they had cupcakes, and I could not understand why there was frosting on a blueberry muffin. One of the girls let me know that they were lemon blueberry cupcakes, which only served to remind me that muffins are truly just cupcakes without frosting…which I like, because I actually don’t want my frosting desserts to get mixed up with my fruit desserts. Boundaries.

Lemon Blueberry Madelines 2Anyway, the idea of lemon and blueberry (without frosting) sounded delicious, and I whipped up my own batch of muffins (thank you very much) for my sister in law’s shower a few weeks later. And, to be honest- they were amazing. I’ll go ahead and hand back my humble card right now, because these muffins were everything I hoped for.

And then, for some reason, I really couldn’t let that flavor combination go. My sister’s boyfriend has made some pretty serious blueberry waffles on more than one occasion over the past few months, and I just kept thinking about how good they would be with lemon. And then my madeleine pan fell out of one of my over filled cupboards and it was game over.

Lemon Blueberry Madelines 3 Humility, part two- these are ridiculous. Even better than the muffins. The combination of juicy blueberries, and crispy edges, and not too much sugar? Spot on.

Lemon Blueberry Madeleines

–          2/3 cup white sugar
–          1 lemon, zested
–          1 cup flour
–          Pinch of salt
–          3 eggs
–          1 tsp vanilla
–          10 tbsp butter, melted
–          1 pint blue berries

Prepare your pan: preheat the oven to 375 and spray your madeleine pan with Bakers Joy, or butter and flour. Both work equally well here, so whatever you have on hand! Also, I bet you could make these in cupcake pans, but I really, really love a madeleine pan. You can get one for less than $15 with a 20% off BBB coupon, and it makes crispy edges, and they’re fancy. Just think about it.

Prepare the batter: measure the sugar into a medium mixing bowl, and zest the lemon into it. (Equipment note: I’ve found that you really need a microplane to best zest citrus- I tried making a few other things work, like the multiple cheese graters we seem to own, and it never worked out. I finally bought a microplane at Marshalls, and have never looked back.) After the lemon is zested, use a fork to mix the zest into the sugar until it’s really well incorporated. Mix in the flour, salt, eggs and vanilla, and then add the butter and stir just until well mixed.Lemon Blueberry MadelinesMake the madeleines: I always have problems with blueberries falling to the bottom of the batter, so I took a different approach with these. Pretty much, I dropped between 3-6 blueberries in each well of the pan, and then just covered the berried with batter (resulting in wells that were just slightly less than full). At this point, I sprinkled the batter with coarse sugar, for an extra crunch, but that’s totally unnecessary. Bake for about 8 minutes, until golden brown and baked through. These are amazing fresh out of the oven, obviously, but if you can wait 30 minutes or an hour to eat them, they get a really lovely crunch on the edges that’s…amazing. So good. Awesome.

 

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