Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sunday Dinner - Blueberry Pie and Basil Butter

Franny was sick on Sunday, so I stayed home from church with her and made a nice big Sunday dinner. I've noticed all the new recipes I've been trying out have been desserts. I've been sticking with the old faithfuls for dinner, so you may have seen a few of these before. The Chicken and Artichoke Casserole recipe I consider a gift from my mother. If all the casserole recipes make up a neighborhood, then this recipe is the fancy model home and the formulaic cream of mushroom casserole recipe is the one bedroom apartment atop the car mechanic's shop. So next time you're in the mood for a delicious chicken casserole, try this one- I promise you won't be sorry! (Did I mention it freezes well?) ;)

Also, I can't leave this Lime Dressing alone. Sour cream, lime zest, lime juice, and a little sugar. So simple and yet so delicious. Tastes great on all fruit.

I got really into flavored butters for a while- especially raspberry butter. Yum! But I remembered one that I used to make when we lived in Provo that Bobby really liked. Basil Garlic Butter. You just take four tablespoons or so of softened butter and mix in a very small amount of minced fresh basil and garlic. We're talking like 1/4 tsp or less of each. Mix it up and spread on your rolls. I had forgotten how delicious this tastes. We still have more of the butter, but we're out of the rolls. I think when I'm done here I'll go make some more.

My berry of choice is usually raspberry, and up until now I'd have probably called the blueberry my least favorite. But our recent trip to Blueberry Hill changed all that. I had a meeting at church with some ladies on Sunday and I decided a blueberry pie would be fun to try. I just love making pies. I just found out there's an apple pie contest on the 4th of July this year. I'm so all over that. Anyway, I found this recipe that calls for a cornmeal crust. I was intrigued and read all the reviews. Everyone seemed to love it so I thought I'd go for it. Boy was I happy I did. It had only 1/4 cup of cornmeal in the crust and added the slightest little crunch and just made the whole pie more interesting to me. The ladies at church loved it. Nobody had a crumb left on their plate. The recipe calls for a lemon butter cream to accompany it, but I made Erin's Lemon ice cream recipe instead. It was perfect.

Blueberry Pie with Cornmeal Crust and Lemon Ice Cream Bon App├ętit | July 2008

Yield: Makes 8 servings
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal (preferably stone-ground, medium grind)
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks total) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup nonhydrogenated solid vegetable shortening, frozen, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 tablespoons (or more) ice water

5 cups fresh blueberries (about 27 ounces)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
Milk (for brushing)
1 1/2 tablespoons raw sugar*
Lemon Ice Cream

preparation For crust:

Blend flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in processor. Add butter and shortening; using on/off turns, blend until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 4 tablespoons ice water; blend just until moist clumps begin to form, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough into ball. Divide dough in half; flatten each half into disk. Wrap disks separately in plastic and chill at least 1 hour. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled. Soften dough 10 minutes at room temperature before rolling out.

For filling:

Combine blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon water in large bowl; toss to blend. Let stand at room temperature until juices begin to form, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place rimmed baking sheet in bottom of oven. Roll out 1 dough disk between 2 sheets of generously floured parchment paper to 12-inch round. Peel off top parchment sheet; invert dough into 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Carefully peel off second parchment sheet. Gently press dough into pie dish, pressing any cracks together as needed to seal and leaving dough overhang. Spoon filling into pie crust.

Roll out second dough disk between 2 sheets of generously floured parchment paper to 12-inch round. Peel off top parchment sheet. Carefully and evenly invert dough atop filling. Peel off second parchment sheet. Trim overhang of both crusts to 1 inch. Fold overhang under and press to seal. Crimp edges decoratively. Cut five 2-inch-long slits in top crust of pie to allow steam to escape during baking. Lightly brush top crust (not edges) with milk. Sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake pie 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and continue baking until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling thickly through slits, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool pie completely on rack. Cut into wedges and serve with Lemon Ice Cream.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

"Blue Strawberries"

Sophie and I tagged along with Tara and her four girls to a blueberry farm just outside our town. We picked delicious blueberries to our heart's content for $2.50 per pound. Sophie had a good time. For a while she was calling them "blue strawberries." She liked picking the green ones best for some reason, even though I told her over and over to only pick the blue ones. And everytime she pulled one off the bush she screamed, "I GOT ONE!! MOMMY, I GOT ONE!!" I've read "Blueberries for Sal" for her at least ten times since we went. She wants it be her story for every naptime and bedtime. I bought two pounds and they are already gone! We used them in our pancakes, in some delicious blueberry muffins and in a blueberry pie I made for our dessert tonight. I can't wait to try it with homemade lemon ice cream.

I love this muffin recipe. I'd say it's definitely worth the extra time to make the blueberry jam. Very tasty. The original recipe can be found here and calls for a lemon sugar topping. I opted to use the streusel topping instead and it was fabulous.

Blueberry Muffins with Streusel Topping


2 cups (about 10 ounces) fresh blueberries, picked over
1 1/8 cups (8 ounces) plus 1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 cups (12½ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk (see note)
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Note: If buttermilk is unavailable, substitute 3/4 cup plain whole-milk or low-fat yogurt thinned with 1/4 cup milk.

1. FOR THE TOPPING: Stir together sugar and lemon zest in small bowl until combined; set aside.

2. FOR THE MUFFINS: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Bring 1 cup blueberries and 1 teaspoon sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries with spoon several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to ¼ cup, about 6 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk remaining 11/8 cups sugar and eggs together in medium bowl until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla until combined. Using rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and remaining cup blueberries into flour mixture until just moistened. (Batter will be very lumpy with few spots of dry flour; do not overmix.)

4. Following photos above, use ice cream scoop or large spoon to divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups (batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly). Spoon teaspoon of cooked berry mixture into center of each mound of batter. Using chopstick or skewer, gently swirl berry filling into batter using figure-eight motion.

instructions for streusel topping: Follow recipe for Best Blueberry Muffins, omitting Lemon-Sugar Topping. Prepare streusel by combining 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, pinch table salt, and ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons (3½ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour in small bowl. Drizzle with 5 tablespoons warm, melted unsalted butter and toss with fork until evenly moistened and mixture forms large chunks with some pea-sized pieces throughout. Proceed with recipe as directed, sprinkling streusel topping over muffins before baking.

5. Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17 to 19 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.

I just love her funny little face.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Our Caribbean Cruise

Our cruise was amazing- it was everything you want in a vacation. There were so many stories and pictures that it was really hard to choose my favorites. I don't journal anywhere else but here and since I figure people don't really want to scroll through all my vacation pictures, I thought I'd just backdate them and link them all to this post. So if you want to read anymore about any of the ports we visited, just click on the link below each picture.


Puerto Rico- our bonus vacation day.


Aruba- our first time snorkeling.


Bonaire, where the scuba-diving is awesome and the flamingos run wild.


Grenada- most romantic beach ever.


Dominica: The Rain Forest!


St. Thomas (post coming soon) - I saw the most amazing sea turtle while I was snorkeling at this beach.

Pictures and stories from the ship.

Thanks a lot, Mom.

I've been putting off taking Franny to the dentist for about two and half years now. I finally took her today. She did a great job. I don't know why I waited so long.

Yes I do.

I was afraid the dentist might have some bad news for us. You see, Franny screamed bloody murder for a time during her 2nd year whenever we made a move to brush her teeth. So we stopped trying for a while.

Well, the dentist did have some bad news for us.

Franny has FOUR cavities. FOUR!

I feel so bad! When I was looking for a picture to include with this post, I thought this one would work perfectly because the look on her face seems to be saying, "Thanks a lot, Mom."

Primo Bambino

Franny is sporting a new backpack these days. You can get one just like it here.

Sophie got one, too. Aren't they adorable?? I love all the details. Jessica, you amaze me.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I was on my way upstairs this afternoon to wait by the front door for Franny's school bus and the phone rang. It was Kyrsten returning my call and we had just started talking when Bobby said, "Katherine? I need you." I said quietly, "Bobby, I'm on the phone." And then Bobby replied in a commanding voice, "Katherine, I NEED YOU." So I finish walking up the stairs and see him feeling the back of his head with a bloody hand, and a thick trickle of blood coming down his neck and dripping onto the front of his shirt. I quickly got off the phone and thought about what to do. Franny's bus would be arriving in about ten minutes and Sophie was due to wake from her nap anytime after that. Thankfully we have awesome next door neighbors who are always willing to help if they can. My neighbor Amanda gets home from work early on Wednesdays and she happened to be outside, so I asked her to wait for Franny's bus and keep an eye on Sophie so I could rush Bobby to the Emergency Room. I might add that Bobby was amazingly calm during this whole ordeal. No hint of panic or distress in his voice or his body language.

We sat in the waiting room for less than two minutes before we were seen by Bobby's favorite ER doc. Two staples in his head and we were out of there! On the way home we were talking about how nice it was that we didn't have to take the girls with us. I wasn't going to look as they stapled his head shut, but I was curious so I turned around and saw the fourth year medical student following Dr. Elam pointing a staple gun at Bobby's head gangster style and couldn't help but feel grateful that the girls weren't there to see it. I love having good neighbors.

I asked Bobby if it hurt having his head stapled. (He didn't want to waste time getting any medicine to help with the pain.) He said it felt like getting your ears pierced. I said, "How would you know, you've never had your ears pierced!" And just as I said it, a memory started to surface from about 11 years ago. It was all coming back to me when Bobby said, "Yes I have! I let Janelle practice on me when she got that job at Claire's!" I was sharing a room with Janelle, one of my best friends from college, and she had in fact just been hired at Claire's. She was feeling pretty anxious about using an ear-piercing gun and Bobby offered his ear for practice. He wore that earring in his ear for one day before taking it out. I remember he picked me up from my job at the Marriott that day with an earring in his ear. I'll be honest, I'm not crazy about that look on him. Maybe that's why I blocked it out.

Oh, I almost forgot to explain what happened to Bobby. He's been working so hard this week. We're having a garage sale this week and he has been going through every closet and dejunking drawers and organizing everything. It's been really nice. He spent all day organizing the garage and this afternoon he knocked a few rolls of paper towels onto the floor. The floor of the garage was wet, so he bent over to pick them up and when he stood up, he knocked the edger down and it hit him on the head.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I think I hate walnuts.

I was really excited to try this recipe- I am a big rhubarb fan. I discovered after making this recipe that I am not a big walnut fan. I saw walnuts and thought, "yech... oh well, Dorie knows what she's doing." While I ate the dessert, all I could taste was walnuts. So next time I would either substitute pecans or leave the nuts out entirely. (To tell you the truth, next time I have a hankering for strawberry rhubarb, I'd probably just go with this. Because it's freaking awesome.)

Strawberry Rhubarb Double Crisp
(Dorie Greenspan)

Makes 9 servings

For the crisp mix

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup (packed) light brown sugar

3/4 cup old-fashioned oats

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Pinch of salt

Tiny pinch of ground cinnamon

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

1/4 cup very finely chopped crystallized ginger (see above)

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the filling

1 pound (4 to 5 medium stalks) rhubarb, trimmed and peeled

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup cold water

3 cups (about 12 ounces) strawberries, hulled and sliced

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

GETTING READY: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Put a nonreactive 9-inch square baking pan (I like Pyrex or porcelain) on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

TO MAKE THE CRISP MIX: Put the flour, brown sugar, oats, ground ginger, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl and sift the ingredients through your fingers to blend them — be on the lookout for lumps in the brown sugar. Mix in the nuts and crystallized ginger, then pour over the melted butter. Using a fork, stir the ingredients until they are thoroughly moistened.

Spoon half the mixture into the pan and pat it down lightly to form a thick crust; set aside the remainder for the topping.

TO MAKE THE FILLING: Slice the rhubarb into 1¿2-inch-wide pieces and scatter them over the pressed-in base. Dissolve the cornstarch in the cold water; set aside.

Put the strawberries, sugar and ginger in a medium saucepan and, with a fork, pastry blender or potato masher, crush the berries. Place the pan over medium heat and, stirring occasionally, bring the mixture to a full boil. Pour the dissolved cornstarch into the pan and, stirring with a whisk, bring everything back to a boil. Keep cooking and stirring until the strawberry filling is thick and no longer cloudy, about 3 minutes. Pull the pan from the heat, stir in the vanilla and pour the filling over the rhubarb. Scatter the remaining crisp mix over the filling, breaking it up with your fingers so you can scatter it evenly.

Slide the crisp into the oven and bake for 60 minutes, or until the topping is golden and the strawberry jam is bubbling up all around the edges. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool until only just warm or at room temperature.

SERVING: You can try to be neat about cutting the crisp into squares, but it's pretty hopeless; better to cut pieces in the baking pan and lift them out with a spatula or big spoon into shallow bowls. Have the crisp with ice cream.

STORING: This is best the day it is made, but if you keep it covered at room temperature overnight, you'll make a bunch of breakfasters happy the next day.

There's a first time for everything!

The title of my post seems to be the theme for this past week so I thought I would list off all the new things happening at our house.

Franny's first week of Kindergarten summer school! This girl could not have been happier about getting to go to Kindergarten. For over a month now, she's been telling complete strangers wherever we go, "I'm going to Kindergarten!" Once she called it out across the hospital parking lot to some random person. She loves riding the bus. She informed me at some point last year that she would be riding the bus to school in Kindergarten. So far so good!

Franny walking with purpose to the bus stop. This is a picture of the girls deciding seating arrangements on the bus.

Franny's little friend Lydia who just happens to live next door and just happens to be in Franny's summer school class. Don't you just love when things work out like that?

Sophie's first time wearing panties. It started out awesome- then she got really sick and we backed off. We're hoping to start again this week.

Franny's first swimming lessons. She's loving it. That girl is such a little fish! She just loves to be in the water. Bobby took her to her first lesson on Tuesday and snapped the shot below. I brought her on Thursday and watched with pride as she demonstrated how to do a "head bob" (put your head under water) for one of the new kids starting the class that night. She said, "See, you do it like this!"

My first ride in the green Chevy truck. Bobby and I went on a date last night to celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary and he took me out in style in his new truck. Actually, all of the Fields' girls had their first truck ride this week. I had a lot of fun.

Ooh and I almost forgot- I made grilled pizza for the first time and it was delish! I'm angry with myself for not taking pictures, but I'm sure I'll be making it again.
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