Strawberry Rhubarb (or Green Apple) Pie

My cousin just posted pictures of loads of beautiful rhubarb jam on Facebook. I’m jealous. I haven’t made any jam yet this year, BUT– I made a pie.

Quick story, when my Dad was a kid he was told  rhubarb pie was “green apple pie”. Apparently he must not have liked the idea of rhubarb, so my Grandma convinced him otherwise by changing the name. Green apples are tart, but I think the resemblance stops there!  Anyways, the name stuck and we still joking call this pie “green apple”.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie ~ Erin's DC Kitchen

I love the crimson color of the rhubarb. It really is a feast for the eyes.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie~ Erin's DC Kitchen

What’s that you say? The crust does look amazeballs, thanks! 😉

The tartness of the rhubarb in this pie is tempered with soft sweetness from strawberries and majorly complimented by an unexpected addition– almond extract. It provides a fuller, richer taste I think. I was comparing recipes before I started baking, and Richard Sax’s Classic Home Desserts has a recipe for sour cherry and rhubarb pie that seemed fabulous. That’s where I got the idea of adding almond extract.

Rhubarb season will end soon, once it starts to heat up, so if you want to try this recipe out hurry down to your local farmers market (or garden) and pick some up soon!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie

  • 3 1/2 cups diced rhubarb (about 4 large stalks)
  • 1 quart strawberries, sliced
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp (scant) cinnamon

For the double crust

  • 2 1/4 cups flour (I did the 1/4 cup wheat, the rest white)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup Crisco shortening
  • 8 tbl ice cold water or milk

Preparing the crust: In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Measure out the shortening and dollop it across the flour mixture (don’t dump it in one lump). Using a pastry blender, cut the shortening into the flour until it is course. Pile more than half of the flour mixture to one side of the bowl. Measure out a tablespoon of cold water and sprinkle it over the smaller pile of flour and fluff it with a fork to work the water through. As the mixture forms into dough, move it aside. Continue sprinkling a tablespoon of water onto a small pile of flour and fluffing it with the fork, moving aside the dough that forms. You may or may not use all 8 tbl of water. This process becomes easier the more you do it, trust me, and you get a feel for the dough. Divide the final lump of dough into two equal parts and roll them out into circles. Put one circle into the pie plate and add your filling, then put the top crust on. You need 1 inch or more of excess dough to roll under to make the edge. Anything over that you can cut off. Use your thumb and pointer finger to pinch together a pretty edge.

Preparing the pie:

Preheat oven to 375°.

In a large bowl, toss the fruit with the sugar, cinnamon and part of the flour. Let stand while you prepare the crust. Once the crust is ready, stir in the almond extract and the remainder of the flour. Toss to coat. Spoon filling into the pie crust. If there is a ton of excess juice, don’t pour it all into the crust, just some of it.  With a sharp knife, cut a slit into the top of the pie (or a design if you’re ambitious) to let steam out.

Bake for 30 minutes.  Bake an additional 20 to 30 minutes, but cover the crust with a crust protector or foil. Pie is done when the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly and steaming (peek into the center slit).

Let cool fully before cutting into, or else the filling will spill out everywhere and you’ll be sad about it.

Enjoy!

– Erin

Loaded Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes have more vitamin A, beta carotene and fiber than regular white potatoes.  Also, my Grandma used to serve them for her and Grandpa, who had diabetes, because it doesn’t spike blood sugar as intensely as a starchy white potato.

This was tonight’s dinner. Yum. My favorite veg, mixed with my favorite starch mixed with my favorite pork product, topped with cheese. What is not to like?

Loaded Sweet Potatoes

Loaded Sweet Potatoes

I was feeling pretty happy, thinking how this looks so pretty with all the colors, and I’m so excited to eat it– and then I realized, I wanted to take a picture.

I haven’t been interested in taking pics lately, or even blogging. Not sure why. Food has been thrown together. I haven’t been feeling inspired to bake.

The one time two weeks ago I made peanut butter brownies with a pretzel crust, the light was so bad and nothing looked pretty on camera I just got pissed off and gave up.

So I grabbed my camera and got ready for taking pics of my sweet dinner. But then, the negative voice. It creeped in. It said nobody cares about a dumb pseudo recipe for loaded sweet potatoes. Stop!

Well, I hesitated but decided to capitalize on my moment of inspiration and take the pictures anyways.  Screw you negative voice.

Loaded Sweet Potatoes

I’m glad I did. They look fine. It was easy. I was inspired to write this post. And now, after a month away from blogging, I’m back and it doesn’t feel weird. For those of you reading, thanks. I did miss you.

Loaded Sweet Potatoes

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 3 pieces bacon
  • 1 small broccoli crown
  • handful of shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 400°. Wash and prick the sweet potatoes all over and then bake for 1 hour. During last 20 minutes of baking, cut the broccoli into small florets and steam for 12 minutes. Cook the bacon until crispy, drain, and chop into pieces. Set aside. When the potatoes are done, remove from oven and slice down the middle, squeeze both ends to pop it open. Stuff the cooked broccoli inside, top with cheese and bacon. Return to the oven for 3 minutes or so, until cheese is melted.

Enjoy!

– Erin

Twice Baked Potatoes

Urgh. I know it is too hot to turn the oven on to make these (in the DC area anyway), but I’ve been needing to post this since Easter, so this is happening people!

Twice Baked Potatoes

These are tasty, the sour cream makes the inner pocket of mashed potato creamy and tangy. The cheese on top is gooey and makes these look homey and inviting.

Twice Baked Potatoes

These are a perfect side dish for a special occasion, or, make a main course out of them by piling steamed veggies on top. Plus, you can make these ahead and keep in the fridge so you can socialize with guests or have a ready-to-go weeknight meal.

Baffled by how to make these without ruining the skins? Don’t get overexcited trying to scoop out all the inner potato flesh. Leaving some potato inside helps maintain the structural integrity of the potato skin. I know, it almost feels like a challenge to see just how much you can get out to turn into the delightful filling– but all it takes is one aggressive scoop with a spoon and you’ve taken a chunk out of the skin.

Structurally Sound!

Structurally Sound!

Not being too aggressive is also important during the stuffing phase. Forcing to much filling in can split the skin, just pile some extra on top like I did!

Twice Baked Potatoes

  • 8 medium baking potatoes
  • 2 cups shredded colby jack cheese plus more for topping
  • 1  tbl Old Bay seasoning, plus more for topping (taste as you go, add more if you like)*
  • 1 cup sour cream (or Greek yogurt if you want to ‘healthy’ it up, but taste will be altered)
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2/3 c milk (give or take depending on thickness of mixture)

Preheat oven to 400°. Wash the potatoes and prick with a fork. Place on a lined baking sheet and bake until easily poked with a knife, about 50 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool so potatoes are easier to handle.  If you get impatient, fold a couple paper towels together and use that to hold the potatoes.

Meanwhile, dice the onion and cook just until tender and slightly translucent in the 1 stick butter. Save and set aside. Once cooled enough, cut a medium-sized diamond shape out of the top of the potato skin, peel off, revealing a hole large enough to fit a small spoon into. Start scooping out the potato flesh into a large bowl, reserving the whole skins for later.

Once you’ve cleaned out the potatoes, pour the onions and butter, milk, sour cream, and cheese into the bowl and mix well with electric beaters to get the chunks out and render the mixture smooth. Add in the Old Bay and some salt and pepper to taste. Stir to incorporate.

Now, stuff the mixture back into the potato skins. You may have some leftover, just pile it on top of the potatoes or eat it!! Top each potato with a sprinkle of Old Bay and more cheese.

If baking immediately: Preheat oven to 350° and bake the potatoes on a lined baking sheet for 25 minutes until the cheese is melted and potatoes are hot.

If baking the next day: Place the potatoes onto a lined baking sheet and wrap tightly all over with cling wrap. Refrigerate up to 24 hours. Remove from fridge 30 minutes prior to baking to allow potatoes to come to room temperature. Bake in 350° oven for 25-30 minutes until cheese melts and potatoes are hot.

*Note: if you are refrigerating these overnight, the taste of the Old Bay will intensify over time and you don’t need as much.

Enjoy!

– Erin

Muchi Curry-Spiced Chickpeas

Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas

Hi dear readers. I moved! Yes, three weeks ago I moved to a new apartment ( I should specify the husband came too), and we really like the new place. The space is smaller overall, but more useful, if that makes sense? It currently smells like curry… nom nom.

I’ve been thinking about healthy DIY snack foods lately. We really like Trader Joe’s crunchy wasabi peas for a snack, but it is so easy to blow through a whole bag and they are really salty. Making my own crunchy snackypoos allows the sodium usage to be much reduced, happily.

Curry Spiced Chickpeas

Curry Spiced Chickpeas

These little chickpeas are toasty from being oven roasted, spiced with muchi curry and have the addictive crunch many of us look for in a snack food. These are really easy too, it is three ingredients: 1 can chickpeas, oil and spices.

Curry Spiced Chickpea Snack

Ta-Da! A snack you can feel good about. 🙂 In order to get these nice and crunchy, please be sure to wash and dry the chickpeas well. Rub them with a folded paper towel to help release the skins (pick these out) and remove extra moisture. See below.

IMG_3678

Once the surface moisture is removed, you’ve won half the battle. The oven needs to be really hot for the first part of the roasting, then you’ll turn it down and continue to roast for over an hour to get out the remaining moisture so these stay crunchy after they’ve cooled.

It does take some time, but it isn’t active time, you can watch TV, clean the house or unpack moving boxes while the oven works its magic!

Curry-Spiced Chickpeas (serves two)

  • 1 15 ounce can chickpeas
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil*
  • 1/2 heaping tsp muchi curry (this is a savory based powder, heavy on cumin and fenugreek)
  • 1/4 heaping tsp cajun seasoning (I used McCormick)
  • Sea salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 425°.  Drain and wash the chickpeas. Lay out onto a paper towel to drain, and rub with another paper towel. Let sit for at least 20 minutes to dry off. Remove the transparent skins that come loose from some of the chickpeas.

In a small bowl, combine the chickpeas, oil, spices and salt. Toss gently to coat.  Line a cookie sheet with aluminium foil and spread the chickpeas out in a single layer. This is important, these must be in a single layer in order to toast properly. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through. The  chickpeas should become very fragrant, but not smell like burning!  Next, turn the heat down to 350° and continue to roast for 20 more minutes, stirring often. Turn off the oven, but leave the chickpeas in for another hour while the oven cools down.

Remove and serve warm, or let cool before storing in an airtight container to nosh on later.

*Note: Don’t use olive oil, it doesn’t have a high smoke point and will start burning to soon, these chickpeas need to cook for a long time to get all the moisture out. Vegetable oil has a much higher smoke point and it will not impact taste.

Enjoy!

– Erin

French Toast and Strawberry Cream Sauce

Yum, it’s time for Sunday breakfast. For my husband and I, Sunday breakfasts are lazy, drink your tea and eat your breakfast, relax… maybe you’ll be finished by 10:30.

I woke up and randomly felt like making something special, other-than-cereal special which is the usual go to.

I pulled some eggs and buttermilk together to whip up a dredge for the bread.

Buttermilk French Toast

And put some strawberries and sugar in a pot and set it to boiling to make a chunky strawberry syrup. I mixed some of this into Greek yogurt sweetened with powder sugar and  whipped it up into a pretty pink ‘cream’ sauce.

French Toast with Strawberry Cream Sauce

Spoon over french toast and top with some more chunky strawberry syrup. Pretty delicious. 🙂

French Toast with Strawberry Cream Sauce

French Toast and Strawberry Cream Sauce

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup or more buttermilk*
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 6 slices bread
  • 1 cup whole strawberries (frozen or fresh)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbl white sugar
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbl powder sugar

For french toast: Mix the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla together in a pie plate. The mixture should be more eggy than milky. Dip both sides of the bread into the mixture and cook over medium heat on a greased skillet. About 2-3 minutes per side.

For the strawberry syrup: In a small pot, put the strawberries, white sugar and water. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Cook for another 5 minutes at a simmer. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

For the strawberry cream: In a small mixer, add the Greek yogurt and powder sugar. Pulse. Add in 1/4 cup chunky strawberry syrup. Pulse until smooth. Spoon over french toast and then top with additional strawberry syrup if desired.

Enjoy!

Erin

*Note: I eyeballed the buttermilk, I guesstimate it was around 1/4 cup. The mixture will be thick and eggy, not thin and milky, but use your judgement on how much to add.

Winter Squash with Sugar-Toasted Almonds

It has been sooo freezing across the Midwest and East Coast recently. I was suddenly in the mood for something cozy and comforting in a way I haven’t been since pre-holidays so I grabbed a petite acorn squash from the grocery store last week.

Acorn squash is a favorite of mine since childhood; my mom would roast it and serve with brown sugar on top, which melted and flowed like a caramel river off the sides of a heaping helping of mashed squash.

This time, I scooped the flesh out of the roasted squash halves and mixed in some honey, clove, cinnamon and egg to make a souffle-casserole mash-up.

Winter Squash with Sugar Toasted Almonds

Bake it for 30 minutes and top with sugar toasted almonds and dried cranberries.

Crunchy, nutty, sweet and addictive! Awesome on salads too.

Crunchy, nutty, sweet and addictive! Awesome on salads too.

Yum, perfect as a side dish.

Winter Squash with Sugar Toasted Almonds

Or a very large bowl as a main dish if you are me :-).

Winter Squash with Sugar Toasted Almonds

  • one medium-small acorn squash
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove plus extra for dusting
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon plus extra for dusting
  • 2-3 tbl honey (depending on how sweet you like it)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 heaping tablespoon plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 heaping tbl white sugar
  • handle of dried unsweetened cranberries

Preheat oven to 375°.  Cut acorn squash in half, scoop out the seeds and lightly dust with cloves and cinnamon. Place cut side up in a large baking dish with a little water in the bottom, cover with a lid or tinfoil. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes until squash is fork tender. Remove from oven and let cool slightly until you can handle the halves.  Reduce oven temperature to 350°.

Scoop out the roasted flesh into a medium bowl. Mash and mix well with a fork. Mix in the 1/4 tsp cloves and cinnamon, 2 to 3 tbl honey, and Greek yogurt (this makes it a wee-bit more creamy). If needed, temper the egg with some squash before fully mixing in. Mix well and then scoop into a 1 quart baking dish. Cover and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. The casserole will crack a bit on top and not be jiggly in the center when finished.

For the almonds: Place the almonds and white sugar in a small pan over medium heat. The sugar will begin to melt and coat the almonds. Stir frequently and watch out, it can scorch easily.  Once sugar is melted and the almonds coated, spread out onto a sheet of parchment paper to cool.

Sprinkle the almonds and cranberries over top of the casserole and serve.

Enjoy!

– Erin

Butternut Squash Soup

Thick, creamy and satisfying. Not always words you can use to describe soup, but they definitely apply for this butternut squash soup!  I love the slight natural sweetness you get from the squash that mingles with the warmth from fresh cracked pepper and chicken broth.

I paired this with cheese, apples and crackers to make a complete meal.  You could also serve it alongside a warm, gooey-cheesy grilled sandwich.  Or maybe a first course at Thanksgiving? Nom nom nom. 🙂

Butternut Squash Soup

  • 4 lbs butternut squash
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 cube chicken bullion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • salt to taste

Preheat oven the 375°. Cut the squash into manageable size pieces and roast on a tray, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove and peel off skin. The flesh will not be fully cooked through, that is ok. Cut into 1 inch pieces, along with the celery and put into a large saucepan.  Quarter the onion and add to the pot.

Partially dissolve the bullion cube in the cup of hot water. Pour it into the pot along with the broth, pepper and bay leaf. Bring it to a boil and boil for 10 minutes, stirring often. The squash and celery will start to soften and dissolve into the broth. Remove the bay leaf and any pieces of celery that are particularly stringy. Working in batches, puree the squash and vegetable mixture until smooth. Return all the mixture to the pot, taste, and add salt if needed.

Serve warm and enjoy!

– Erin