Monday, June 20, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I got to visit my family in Idaho Falls last weekend for Father's Day.  My family is AMAZING!!  The Union Local that my parents belong to set up a team for the Relay for Life in Blackfoot on Friday night.  My Mom came up with the coolest fundraiser!  She designed this HUGE board that said IBEW and had a cute little house for the JATC (where apprentices train and go to school), another little diner for the Union Hall, a castle in the clouds for the Retirees, etc.  On the board were different colors of Zhu-Zhu hampsters.  The kids got to pick a hamster and put them on the board.  Then a location was drawn out of a bucket for where the cone would be placed.  The first Zhu-Zhu to touch the cone won and the kid got to pick a treat.  It was so much fun!  I got a bit hoarse yelling at those crazy little toys-- "You're going in the wrong way!".  My parents and their compadres walked all night long.  Plus, they only got about 4 hours of sleep before they were up and running again.  Crazy!

I also got to go and see my grandma Lucille this weekend.  I just love her!  She's tall, beautiful, and feisty.  Nothing gets past her!  She loves gardening and has tomatoes, potatoes, peas, beans, carrots and squash growing.  She also has lots of raspberries and rhubarb.  I love taking a knife out to the rhubarb and cutting off a piece to eat.   I know-- I'm weird.  I've accepted that!

Well, there was a lot of Rhubarb, so I cut enough to take home.  While I was doing my laundry last night, I decided to make a pie to keep me busy so I wouldn't miss my puppies so much.  Because I'm traveling so much for work, they will be at my Parents' house for about a month!

The pie was heavenly and I will definitely make it again!  Here's the recipe-- based on a recipe I found on  I hope you enjoy!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
1 lb. (16 oz) strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 lb. Rhubarb, washed well and sliced
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
2-layer pie crust for a 9" pie (I used the Pillsbury Refrigerated dough)
1 egg yolk
2 tsp water

1.  Mix the sugar and flour together in a bowl.  Add the fruit and toss to coat.  Let stand for about 30 minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes.

2.  Preheat oven to 400°F.

3.  Place the first pie crust in the pan and form to the pan.  Dock a few times with a fork on the sides and bottom.  Fill with fruit, making sure to get all the juices into the pie shell.  Brush a bit of water along the outside edges of the dough to help it seal.  Cover with the remaining disc of dough. Cut the excess dough off with a butter knife.  Press and crimp the edges to seal.

4.  Place the pie plate on a foil lined baking sheet to catch any drips.  Beat the egg yolk with water and brush on top of the pie with a pastry brush. 

5.  Baked for 20 minutes, then cover the edges with foil.  Return to the oven for another 40 minutes or until the crust is golden and the filling bubbly.  I let mine cool overnight and served the next morning at room temperature. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Dilly Potato Salad

Have you ever eaten at Gandalfo's?  For those of you that haven't, its a New York style deli with about a million different sandwiches.  Fun names like 'Knuckle Sandwich'!  And some HUGE dill pickles. You know me and pickles. ;-)

Gandalfo's also has a really amazing potato salad.  Its a sour cream base with fresh dill.  Here is my version.  The salad will seem very wet at first but as it cools, the potatoes will absorb some of the excess liquid. This is enough to feed 4-6 people, but the recipe can easily be doubled.

Dilly Potato Salad
2 lbs potatoes (I use redskin, whiteskin or gold skin, not russets)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
1-1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill

1.  Chop potatoes into 1" chunks and place in a large pot with cool water.  Make sure the water level is about an inch above the potato chunks.  Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 20 minutes.  Drain well and rinse with cool water.  Allow to drain for about 10 minutes.

2.  Mix remaining ingredients in a medium bowl.  Fold in the potatoes.  Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.  Be sure to fold in the potatoes to avoid too much breakage.

Serve with your favorite BBQ foods-- like smoked sausage and a green salad.

Don't forget to give your patio buddies some luvs!  Mocha has found a new comfy spot under the patio table.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Veggie Grill Night! Lemon Thyme Mushrooms and Grilled Caprese

What a weekend!  After traveling to the east coast for work, I traveled to Idaho Falls for a visit.  By the time I got home last night, I was pooped.  I wanted something that was good, but fast!  Yeah for grilling!

I love mushrooms-- especially when they are grilled in a foil packet on the grill.  No pan to clean!  Mushrooms are savory enough to satisfy a meat craving and tender enough to melt in your mouth.  Especially when you pair them with a bit of butter and some fresh Lemon Thyme! 

Have you ever had tomatoes on the grill?  They are absolutely delightful.  The grill adds a smokey flavor that goes very well with a tomato's sweet acidity.  Top it with fresh basil leaves and mozzarella cheese and you've got dinner!

Lemon Thyme Grilled Mushrooms

8 oz. mushrooms, cut in half or in quarters, depending on size
4 sprigs fresh lemon thyme
1 Tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
salt and pepper to taste
2 large sheets aluminum foil

1.  Divide mushrooms between the two sheets of foil.
2.  Sprinkle with half the butter, half the lemon thyme sprigs, and salt and pepper.
3.  Fold over one side of the foil.
4.  Fold over the opposite side, making sure they overlap.

5.  Fold in the sides to the middle.

6.  Crimp to be sure the juices won't escape.
7.  Grill over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes.

8.  Remove packet from grill, let cool for about 5 minutes, then carefully open the packet.  Yumminess!

Grilled Caprese
1 Large Tomato, cut into 1" thick slabs
6 fresh basil leaves
3 Tbsp shredded mozzarella

1.  Place tomato slab on the grill.  Top with basil and mozzarella.
2.  Close the lid and cook over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

3.  Serve with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  This one needs a knife and fork!

Have a great week!

Something's Brewing! Homemade Vanilla Extract

I had vanilla beans.  Lots of vanilla beans.  And no time to make pastry cream.  Oh well.  Might as well put them to good use!

Fresh vanilla beans are expensive-- but the flavor is absolutely magical.  Those tiny little black seeds explode with aromatic comfort. 

Do you know how easy it is to make your own vanilla extract?  And did you know that the homemade version will taste about 100 times better than the little bottle with the red lid?  Oh yes, it will. 

Vanilla Extract
1/5th bottle of Vodka or Rum (get one that is mid-range)
2-3 vanilla beans

1.  Pour off about a half cup of the liquor (or drink it).
2.  Split the vanilla beans lengthwise, then scrape all the seeds out with the blade at the tip of your knife.
3.  Put vanilla seeds and pods in the liquor.
4.  Let sit in a cool dark place for 3 to 4 months.

Should be heavenly just in time for fall goodies!

After just one week, the liquor is starting to darken.  You know its ready when it is a deep dark brown color and smells like vanilla when you open the bottle and take a tiny whiff.