Fresh Blueberry Pie

fresh blueberry pie

Let’s talk about ugly pies. Specifically, how ugly pies are often the best pies. A few days ago, I made a raspberry rhubarb tart that turned out more green than the bright pink I was hoping for. But the flavor? It was spot-on. Take this pie, a personal summer favorite, with misshapen crust and dark, lumpy filling. Without a double crust, and certainly no lattice top, it was doomed to be un-photogenic. Some summer pies are just meant to be ugly. Leaky galettes, graham cracker crusts that crumble when you slice into them, and mystery fruit fillings that are at once too homogenous and too irregular to look appetizing. Those pies, though, are often the best, filled with the summer’s best fruit and baked at home with care. 

blueberriesThis blueberry pie is no exception. Don’t let the photos fool you– this one is too good to skip. Make your way to a local blueberry farm, or head to Safeway to pick up a crate of berries. Bake a pie this weekend. Bake this pie this weekend. Share it with your friends. You’ll be glad you did.

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Mushroom Fried Black Rice

mushroom fried black rice

A week or so in, it finally feels like this blog has a home on the internet. Having your own domain, good hosting and a theme you like are such simple details, but they make the biggest difference. And while everything isn’t a hundred percent perfect yet, it’s approaching what I wanted it to be when I first set out to start a food blog back in February. It’s super satisfying to see it all come together.

This is also my very first recipe using ZipList— a feature that I’ve wanted to add for a long time, but just now got around to. Having ZipList means you’ll be able to view, print, and save recipes from this blog more easily. It also does all sorts of neat things for the blog, like making sure images of a recipe pop up in Google searches.

mushroom fried black rice, in bowls

This particular recipe makes a great weeknight meal. It’s relatively easy to pull together, but the black rice makes it special. Black rice is like brown rice— the grain with the hull left on. But in this case, the hull is black, not brown. This rice is packed with antioxidants and anthocyanins, those very same good-for-you molecules that make blueberries blue and blackberries black. Just like brown rice, this rice contains plenty of fiber. What I love about it, aside from the deep color and major health benefits, is the way that it tastes.  Black rice has a distinctive taste and appearance of its own, but also picks up other flavors well. I’ve bought it in the bulk section of our local grocery store, and recently picked up a bag from Trader Joe’s. If you can’t find black rice at a store near you, wild rice would make a good substitute. 

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Two Ingredient Banana-Chip Ice Cream

two ingredient banana-chip ice cream

Haaappy Friday! Today I can honestly say that I’m psyched for the weekend. Bring on the sunshine, cool mornings, extra hours off from work, time with friends, and Skype chats with family. Bring on the end-of-summer jalapeños, fresh berries, and lemonade. Bring on the ice cream. 

blended bananas and chocolate chips

This banana ice cream has been all over the internet. It’s been on every cooking site, baking blog, and pinterest page that I’ve seen in the last few months. So why post it again here? Because it’s amazing. And it’s even more amazing with chocolate chips.

blended bananas and chocolate chips

Here’s what you do: You slice up a few bananas, freeze them, and then throw the frozen chunks into your food processor. You blend them until they’re smooth and ice cream-like. Fold in some chocolate chips, scoop into a bowl, and you’re good to go. This ice cream barely needs a recipe, but there’s one below if you need details.

two ingredient banana-chip ice cream

Go make some ice cream. Go have an incredible weekend!

 

 Two Ingredient Banana-Chip Ice Cream

makes 2 large servings

Ingredients
3 bananas
1 handful mini chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Slice bananas into coins and freeze on a tray or in a plastic bag. This takes anywhere from 3-6 hours. Frozen bananas may be stored in a ziplock bag in the freezer.
  2. Put the bananas in a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth and creamy.
  3. Stir in the chocolate chips. Serve immediately for a soft-serve consistency, or freeze for 30 minutes and scoop out like a regular ice cream.
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Spicy Lemon Chickpea Pita Pockets

spicy lemon chickpea pita pockets

It has been over a month since my last post. The one where I talked about eating healthier, less processed food. I imagined that as I tried to trade bad habits for better nutrition, I’d be posting on here more. But the opposite happened– I’ve barely posted at all. Today, I’m reviving this blog. Better recipes, more inspiration, and (fingers crossed!) more regular posts. This pita pocket recipe, which I made for lunch last week, seemed like a good one to start with.

What began as a simple lunch from my pantry became a delicious, fresh summer meal. Soft, warm pita bread, a filling of spicy, creamy chickpeas, and a little crunch from the salad greens. This recipe isn’t difficult to make, especially if you mix up the pita dough a day or two before hand. And you can always buy pitas instead, simply making the chickpea filling to complete the meal.

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Healthier Eggplant Parmagiana

healthier eggplant parmagiana

I consider eggplant parmagiana to be the ultimate comfort food. I love the creamy richness of a pan-fried-then-oven-baked eggplant, combined with a crispy, oily crumb coat. Add red sauce, cheese, and a heaping plate of pasta and I’m in heaven.

However, I made some big changes to what I eat recently, which I mentioned in this post. I read Mark Bittman’s Vegan Before Six, caught up on some basic nutritional science, and did my own research on how the food we eat affects our wellbeing. I’ve always been a vegetarian, but I finally gave up dairy, cut out hyper-processed starches and sugars, and started eating more whole fruits and veggies.

healthier eggplant parmagiana

Between the cheesy topping and the heap of pasta underneath, eggplant parmagiana is everything I aim not to eat now.

I remade this dish to fit some new guidelines. What’s left is eggplant, thickly sliced, creamy as ever, coated in almond meal “breadcrumbs” and cooked to a crisp in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Layered with tomato sauce, baked to creamy perfection. And served, as one of my favorite Italian restaurants does it, wonderfully pasta-less.

[I don’t subscribe to the paleo lifestyle, but if you do, this recipe is also for you, fitting every paleo guideline I can think of.]
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Mango Citrus + Strawberry Watermelon Smoothies // Changes Are Afoot

watermelon and strawberries in a blender

I made some big changes to my diet recently. I stopped eating dairy. I filled up my meals with fruits and vegetables. I cut down on the starchy, carb-y, flour-based things that used to make up most of my meals. I added some whole grains, and swapped out refined sugars for honey.  I don’t spend any more time cooking than I used to, but I feel so much better. More energetic. Happier, knowing that I’m only putting the very best into my body. These simple changes have made my life a whole lot better. It’s only fair that my blog reflects those changes— from here on out, the recipes featured on here will be fresher, brighter, and lighter. It’s not that there will never be another oozy, gooey, cheesy dish on here, or that the cake recipes will all have to go. I still eat those things on occasion, and I will continue posting them. But the majority of dishes will be the healthier fare that I eat daily.

strawberry watermelon smoothie in a jar

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Hot Milk + Turmeric for a Sore Throat

hot milk with turmeric

It may seem strange to post a sore throat remedy during the first days of Spring. But just as I was beginning to enjoy the warmth and the extra hours of sunlight, I was hit by another bout of allergies. They’ve been acting up recently, and without rain to clear the air, this season has been especially bad. This morning I woke up with a dry, scratchy throat that even a good dose of Claritin couldn’t stop. 

My aunt passed down this recipe for an Indian sore throat remedy to me years ago. I’ve been using it ever since.  A mug of this turmeric-spiced milk first thing in the morning or shortly before bed brings almost instant relief. I like to make this drink piping hot, and sip it slowly. It soothes sore throat symptoms for 30 minutes to an hour after you drink it, depending on how bad symptoms are. Sometimes even longer, as in the case of these allergies. (I was cough-free for a full two hours after I drank this tonic.) When you’ve been suffering from a sore throat for few days, a simple hour or two of complete relief can be remarkably relaxing.

black pepper and turmeric

After browsing the modern-day research, my aunt’s recipe makes perfect sense. Turmuric has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It’s been linked to lowered Alzheimer rates in certain countries, and researchers think it may be effective against cancers and arthritis. Compounds in black pepper (pipeline) help with the absorption of turmeric and curcumin, it’s main medically active component.

Regardless of the health claims, one thing’s for sure— it’s soothing and does the body good. Combined with honey to sooth the throat and black pepper to clear congestion, it works small miracles.
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Depression-Era Dark Chocolate Cake

depression era dark chocolate cake

This recipe dates back to the Great Depression, when resources were scarce and thrift was a way of life. It has gone by several names— “Crazy Cake,” “Wacky Cake,” and a few others. It’s a cake is made without eggs, milk, or butter. The ingredients list is full of pantry items, and cocoa is used instead of baking chocolate. You’d expect this cake to be dryer or denser than a normal chocolate cake. But it isn’t. It’s moist with a perfectly soft crumb.

sweetened whipped cream

This is my favorite chocolate cake. I love this cake because it is un-fussy. It can go from mixing bowl to oven to table in under an hour, served warm or cool. And I’ve never gotten a single complaint about flavor or texture. In fact, it’s one of my favorite no-fail chocolate cakes. And it improves after a day or two in the fridge. Since it keeps, it can be made ahead, or can be made in a larger batch to keep in the fridge. Wrap it in cling wrap, making sure the plastic is touching any cut edges. Simple toppings like whipped cream and fresh fruit go far, and frosting is definitely optional (but never discouraged).

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Kale Garlic Pasta with Parmesan

kale garlic pasta with parmesan

The last week and a half has been incredibly busy. I’m in the middle of midterms-and-papers-and-readings season. I spend my mornings in class and my afternoons studying. The to-do list is never exhausted, and it’s a rare day when everything I set out to do is accomplished before midnight. On days like these, what breaks the monotony is coming home for lunch. I love cooking something satisfying in the middle of my day. I get to leave behind whatever I’ve been studying for a little while, and return to my work refreshed. 

garlic

The requirements are for the dish I choose to make are strict. It must be something that I can make in 30 minutes or less, but it must also be hearty enough to pull me through the afternoon.

This kale pasta does just that, and I made it twice last week alone. Crisp and bitter kale is paired with rich, buttery pasta. Salty, savory, and satisfying enough for a midday meal. I imagine it would make a great quick dinner, too.

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Homemade Marshmallows

homemade marshmallows

I have been on the quest for the perfect homemade marshmallow for months. I’ve always been a sucker for the jet-puffed variety, but when I tried artisan marshmallows from a local store, I was absolutely hooked.

hot cocoa with homemade marshmallows

I set about trying to figure out how to make a batch this good at home. I tried the smitten kitchen recipe, hoping it would yield a springy marshmallow without my having to use a stand mixer (I didn’t own one). The results were good, but not great. The marshmallows sweated in the refrigerator, turning the cornstarch and powdered sugar coating crunchy and resulting in a slightly sticky mess. A month or so later, I tried to make a batch of the Baked marshmallows, with powdered gelatin and an electric hand whisk. Failed again, this time too dense, jelly-like, and still watery.

Both of my marshmallow failures were probably due to a lack of equipment. Perhaps a stand mixer would have made my life easier. However, I wanted a recipe that was simple, and that I could make with the equipment I had at home. I was beginning to think I was out of luck, and that marshmallow making should be left to the pros.

Enter the Alton Brown marshmallow recipe. It produced perfect, springy, soft-but-not-sticky marshmallows on the first try. These were marshmallows I could eat every day, for the rest of my life. And while my first attempts at marshmallow-making had been daunting, I had learned the basic steps by now— it was easy. I used my electric hand whisk and stainless steel bowl in place of a stand mixer, and checked my sugar by hand as it cooked down (without a thermometer). I still had excellent results. You will get fluffier marshmallows with a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, though, so use one if you have it!

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