GF Pie Crust and Fruit Pie Filling

My mother, Val is the best pie maker I know. Hands down, no argument. The best part of all? The crust. That crispy, flaky crust. She makes pies year round: strawberry rhubarb, peach, blueberry with whipped cream on top. It all culminates in an extravagant showcase on Thanksgiving of multiple pies. We can’t wait for it. We drool over the sight of them upon arrival on that 4th Thursday. The turkey is always moist and delicious but those pies are to die for.

Throughout the years, my sister suffered through the Thanksgiving meal. Never realizing until recently that she cannot tolerate so many of the ingredients on the table. Most of all: gluten.

Well there goes the pie eating. That glorious moment when you feel you may burst and you need to lie on the couch and secretly unbutton your pants.

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Summer Vegetable Tart

Obtainable. Obtainable and overwhelming. That pretty much describes this summer. We can obtain great memories this year by creating a fun summer in spite of all of the social distancing. It just takes a lot of inspired thought to reconsider what we think it should look like. To open our minds to something different. To rethink and redo all the plans, goals and ideas I had for this summer is so sad, it’s incredibly overwhelming at times. Especially when the zucchini I planted has failed to produce and the rabbits gnawed the tops off all the green bean plants and the slugs….aaagh! the slugs! It just adds to the sadness and the sense of failure. Damn it. The only way to soothe this achy heart is with a full stomach.

A crispy crust with some cheese and herbs is all I really want. But then all there are a lot of fresh vegetables that are sitting on my kitchen table to consider using up like the massive summer squash my neighbor foisted on me and perhaps some roasted peppers that have been hanging out in the refrigerator.

This is a forgiving recipe so that you can use whatever you have on hand and it will still come out tasting delicious and satisfying for dinner especially when paired with your favorite chilled rose. (Just a suggestion!) Easily swap out the flour in the crust for King Arthur Gluten Free Measure for Measure Flour to make it gluten free.

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Pomegranate Martini

POM Martini with Lemon Twist

“What are you doing later? Drinking heavily?”

“Yes. You?”

“Don’t you love how I invite myself over?”

“Cocktail menu: Pomegranate Martini, Bichon Frise, Boheme, and my newest, Deal Breaker. Do you have aperol? An hour? Anytime you need.”

“No aperol. Lemons, vodka, the usual. Around 6pm? Too late?”

“Perfect. Bring nothing.”

Pomegranate Martini
(makes 1 with extra for refilling)

Ice
lemon twist
2 oz. vodka
1 oz. elderflower liquor
1/2 lemon squeezed
POM juice

Fill a large martini glass with ice and water. 
Remove zest from edge of lemon with a sharp knife 
to make a twist. Set aside. 
Fill a shaker with ice. Add vodka, elderflower liquor,
lemon juice from 1/2 lemon, the half of lemon and 
top off the entire thing with POM juice. 
Shake vigorously until your fingers stick to the outside 
of the shaker. 
Pour ice water out of glass. Strain POM mixture into 
cold glass. Garnish with lemon twist. Enjoy.

“Cocktail and snacks were just what I needed. Thanks.❤”

“Same.❤”

Fans of Fancy Toast

jammy tomatoes and herb cheese on toasted white bread

Top Chef fans may remember Carrie Baird from season 15. The Colorado chef who won challenges with her ideas and execution with toppings on toasted bread. Her humble nature and kind attitude made you want to root for her and the judges seemed to absolutely love any concoction that she expertly put on toasted bread to the point where it seemed to annoy less successful “chef-testants”.

Chicken Salad

chicken salad with lettuce on whole wheat bread on a white plate

 

Chicken Salad.

It’s pretty basic as far as a sandwich goes but it is a favorite for all the right reasons. A really good chicken salad has the perfect amount of mayonnaise so that it is not soupy, yet binds together. Mixing the chicken with the mayonnaise when it is still warm, allows the chicken to absorb some of the mayonnaise and stick together, a trick my mother, Val uses for her famously delicious potato salad, too. It needs to be flavorful but not overpowering. Curried Chicken Salad is great but when I need my fix, I prefer something easier on the palate, a taste that children and adults with more sensitive taste buds will enjoy, too. A little bit of lettuce for crunch and some soft white or wheat bread complete the experience and make it easy to pack in my cooler for a day at the beach.

 

Chicken Salad
(makes 4 sandwiches)

2 large chicken breasts 
2 teaspoons celery seed
1 rib celery cut into 4 pieces, plus 1 rib chopped fine
1/2 cup or more, Hellman's Mayonnaise
salt
pepper
8 slices sandwich bread
lettuce (optional)

Place chicken breasts in a sauce pan with about 1 inch of water. 
Sprinkle with celery seed and place 4 pieces of celery in 
the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
Cover, bring to a simmer and cook for about 10-15 minutes 
until interior of chicken breasts is 165F. 
Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
Remove chicken from pan and chop/shred into small pieces.
Place in a medium sized mixing bowl and add chopped 
celery, mayonnaise and salt and pepper. 
Mix together and add more mayonnaise if needed.
Taste and add more salt and pepper, if needed.
Divide chicken salad among 4 slices of bread. 
Top with fresh lettuce and the remaining slices of bread. 
Cut each sandwich in 1/2 and serve.
Refrigerate chicken salad for up to 3 days. 
Alternatively, serve over a tossed salad or 
eat out of the container while standing in the kitchen.

 

Garbage Can Cookies

cookies with chocolate chips, pretzels and Reese's Pieces on a white plate

We invented this recipe together. Declan wanted cookies with Reese’s Pieces after viewing the motion picture  E.T. the Extra Terrestrial for the first time. That movie made we want some of the peanut butter candy, too and reminded me how sad and weird the story is. The kids barely made it through without crying when they thought E.T. was dead. But we all made it to the end when E.T. went back into outer space and lived happily ever after.

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Tart Breaker

wine glass with pink cocktail and lime garnish

 

What do you do when your husband refuses to wear his glasses while grocery shopping and he inevitably buys the wrong things? This may not seem like a terrible problem but when he brings home a pint of expensive organic blackberries instead of “good black olives”, it’s definitely not something you can substitute for the other. $4.00 worth of fresh, very perishable, blackberries and I don’t even like the taste of them! Continue reading

Kale, Pasta and Chickpea Stew

 

white bowl of Kale, Pasta and Chickpea Stew with Parmesan cheese

  Remember the campaign “Eat More Kale!” back in 2001? A crazy t-shirt designer named Bo Muller-Moore who clearly loved the stuff came up with this mantra to get America to eat healthy and to make a few bucks. I was so offended by it and it pissed me off. I really hated kale. Ever since I was a kid and my mother made kale soup for my dad (He was the only one who liked and requested it.), I had a deep dislike for its pungent, strong flavor. She grew it in her garden and tried to get us kids to like it, all in vain. We turned up our noses at Portuguese Kale Soup, a staple on Cape Cod. Which is weird considering that I absolutely loved to eat spinach which holds it’s own when compared with hearty, green, leafy vegetables. But I never wore a t-shirt that implored others to partake. Not even a Pop-eye or Olive Oil shirt which could have been acceptable considering I grew up in the 1970’s when Saturday morning cartoons were king.

Chocolate Chess Pie

Chocolate Chess Pie

  Although a Chess Pie is not much to look at, it is a truly decadent recipe using only humble ingredients from the pantry. A diamond in the rough, so to speak. It makes me feel like a queen when I indulge in a slice of this gooey, fudge bomb of a pie. It doesn’t matter that I am trapped in the house with my teenagers who make me want to pull every hair out of my head. This pie is like Calgon, it takes me away from all of their bickering, demanding of snacks, t.v. time, sulking and pouting.  I take a bite and savor a brief moment of solitude, locked in my office before they come knocking on the door, yelling , “Mo-om! Where are you???” 

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Fancy Hors D’Oeuvres: Stuffed Celery

 

celery stuffed with cream cheese and olives in a fancy orange dish

My grandmother would invite us over for “cocktails and hors d’oeuvres” and sometimes dinner would follow.  She never said the word, “appetizers”.  How boring.  Although the hors d’oeuvres were often stale Triscuits and a can of Cheez-Whiz or or a tub of WisPride port wine cheddar, not exactly fancy stuff.  The cocktails were a base of vodka, whiskey or rum (your choice) and an array of mixers: cranberry juice,  ginger ale, Coke and 7-Up.  But sometimes, if it was a holiday or the night after a big party, there were other treats on the table. Continue reading