Strawberry Cream Pie

This pie is an upgrade of classic strawberries and cream. It was simple and minimally sweet. The creamy pudding filling was flavored with vanilla bean- yum. I had originally planned to make it with our freshly picked berries but ultimately made it with store-bought berries. (I ran out!) The honey drizzle was essential to the presentation and to add a little sweetness.

The recipe was adapted from Food 52, contributed by Erin Jeanne McDowell. I made the crust and filling in advance and chilled each component separately until serving to ensure that the crust wouldn’t soften once assembled. I must note that the crust remained crisp the next day when we ate the leftover pie. I also used a ceramic deep dish pie pan. Next time, I would sweeten the filling a little bit more, noted below. I would also add salt to enhance the vanilla flavor.

This would be a wonderful dessert to serve on July 4th because the components can be made in advance. Nice.

Yield: One 9-inch pie

For the Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 8 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
  • 3 tablespoons ice water, or more as needed

For the Filling:

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved and scraped
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided (adjust sweetness to your taste)
  • 1/3 cup (5 T) cornstarch
  • generous pinch of coarse salt, or to taste
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 quart strawberries, hulled (or enough to cover the top of the pie)
  • 2 tablespoons wildflower honey

To Make the Crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425º F, preferably on convection.
  2. In a large bowl or in a food processor, combine the flour and salt.
  3. Add the butter and toss to coat. Cut the butter into the flour with your hands, or pulse in the food processor until the butter resembles the size of peas.
  4. Add the water and mix to combine. The dough should come together easily but not be wet or sticky.
  5. Wrap the dough and chill for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it’s 1/8-inch thick. (I rolled it out between lightly floured parchment paper.)
  7. Transfer it to a pie plate, and trim the edges so there is only 1/2 inch of overhang all around. (I did not have this luxurious amount of excess crust because I used a ceramic deep dish pie plate.)
  8. Chill the dough inside the pie plate for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  9. Fold the excess dough under at the edges, pressing gently to “seal” the dough to the pie plate. Finish the edges as desired.
  10. Poke the base of the crust a few times with a fork. If the dough seems warm, chill it again.
  11. Line the crust with parchment paper and pie weights, and bake until the crust is golden and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes.
  12. Remove the parchment and pie weights and continue baking until the crust is fully baked, 5 to 10 minutes more. (I continued to cook the crust for an additional 8 minutes.)
  13. Cool completely. (After the crust had completely cooled, I covered it with plastic wrap and kept it at room temperature overnight. I chilled it the next day before assembling the dessert.)

To Make the Filling & Finish the Pie:

  1. Mix the milk, cream, vanilla bean, and 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of granulated sugar together in a medium sauce pot. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat. (I used 1/4 cup granulated sugar this time but would use up to 1/2 cup next time.)
  2. While the milk warms up, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, salt, and eggs in a medium heat-safe bowl.
  3. When the milk comes to a simmer, gradually pour the hot liquid into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to combine.
  4. Return the mixture to the pot and cook until the mixture is thick and comes to the “first boil” (one large bubble rising from the center of the pot, not many small bubbles around the edges).
  5. Whisk in the butter and pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust. Taste and adjust salt, if necessary. (I made the filling a day in advance and placed it in a glass bowl and refrigerated it overnight.)
  6. Cover the surface of the pudding directly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until fully chilled, at least 3 hours. (I chilled the pie crust for at least 3 hours prior to assembling and serving the pie as well.)
  7. To finish the pie, top the pie with the hulled strawberries.
  8. Warm the honey in the microwave or over medium heat, and when it’s runny, brush it over the strawberries.
  9. Serve the pie chilled. (not too chilled- let it warm up slightly so that the flavors shine through!)

Funfetti Mini Bundt Cakes

My daughter and I made these mini cakes as a birthday surprise for her friend. ❤ Sprinkles=Birthday over here. Using red, white, and blue sprinkles would make these cakes a fun and patriotic Fourth of July treat.

The recipe was adapted from thebittersideofsweet.com. They can be served for breakfast or dessert! 🙂

Yield: 4 mini cakes

For the Mini Bundt Cakes:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/2 cup sugar 
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt 
  • 1 large egg 
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used whole milk Greek yogurt)
  • 1 tablespoon milk (I used whole milk)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 1/3 cup rainbow sprinkles 

For the Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup Confectioners’ sugar 
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons milk (I used 1 1/2 T whole milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • rainbow sprinkles
  • gel food coloring, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F, preferably on convection. (My pan has a dark, non-stick interior finish. Set the oven to 350° F if using a pan with a light interior finish.)
  2. Spray 4 wells of a mini bundt cake pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  3. In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking power, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Set aside.
  4. In medium bowl, whisk together milk, yogurt, and eggs. Stir in melted butter and vanilla and whisk until combined.
  5. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Slowly stir until just combined. 
  6. Fold in sprinkles. Avoid over stirring.
  7. Using a cookie scoop, distribute the batter into the 4 prepared wells of a mini bundt pan.
  8. Bake for 17 minutes in a convection oven, or for 20-25 minutes in a standard oven, or until edges are golden. A toothpick inserted in the center of the cake should come out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
  9. Remove from oven, leave cakes to cool in pan for 5 minutes.
  10. Remove cakes from pan and allow to completely cool on wire rack.
  11. Once cool, make the glaze. In a medium bowl add milk, Confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Tint with food coloring, if desired.
  12. Drizzle glaze over cakes. Top with sprinkles.

Chicken-Spinach Burgers with Feta & Tzatziki

These Greek-inspired chicken burgers were juicy and flavor-packed. They were relatively healthy too! We ate them on Memorial Day with corn and potato salad on the side. Delicious.

This recipe was loosely adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Sue Li. I used freshly ground chicken thighs, added feta, and modified the proportions and method. The original recipe notes that in order to keep the burgers moist, it is important that the meat isn’t packed too tightly. I think that the exorbitant amount of spinach also kept the burgers moist.

Yield: 7 to 8 burgers

For the Burgers:

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground chicken (can substitute ground turkey)
  • 4 cups baby spinach, long and/or thick stems removed, chiffonade
  • 4 large or 6 small scallions, thinly sliced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped, finely grated, or pushed through a garlic press
  • 2 oz feta cheese, crumbled (about 5-6 tablespoons)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 T panko breadcrumbs
  • vegetable oil and/or cooking oil spray, for grill
  • 8 potato rolls, split, lightly toasted (if desired), for serving
  • sliced red onion, tomato, and/or avocado, for topping, as desired
  • tzatziki sauce, for topping (see below)

For the Tzatziki:

  • 1/2 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • dash cumin
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press
  • 1/4 cup grated English cucumber, squeezed dry (I used the small holes of a box grater)
  • 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used the juice of half of a Meyer lemon)
  • fresh dill or parsley, minced, to taste

To Make the Burger Patties:

  1. Using a meat grinder fitted with the medium disc, grind 1 1/2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. (Alternatively use 1 1/2 pounds of pre-ground chicken or turkey.) Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cut spinach, scallions, garlic, crumbled feta, cumin, salt, pepper, egg and panko. Using a fork, mix to combine.
  3. Add the ground meat; mix gently with a fork until just combined.
  4. Form into 7 to 8 patties, about 1/2-inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you make the sauce.

To Make the Tzatziki:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients with a large pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Refrigerate so that the flavors can develop while the burgers are cooked.
  3. Taste and adjust the seasoning, as desired. Additional lemon juice can also be added.

To Finish & Serve:

  1. Coat the grill grates with vegetable oil and preheat on medium to medium-high heat.
  2. Remove the meat from the refrigerator to bring the burger patties to room temperature. To prevent sticking, coat the burgers with vegetable oil or vegetable oil spray.
  3. Cook the burgers until lightly browned on both sides and until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, about 5 minutes per side.
  4. Serve the patties on rolls topped with tzatziki and sliced red onions, tomatoes, and/or avocado, as desired.

Note: Burger patties can be formed 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before cooking.

Spicy Coconut Grilled Chicken Thighs

This is another incredible and full-flavored grilled meat dish. I used the marinade on boneless, skinless chicken thighs but it would also be wonderful with shrimp or flank or skirt steak according to the original recipe. I love that the residual marinade is cooked down into a sauce for serving.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Molly Baz. I marinated ten chicken thighs but would add up to five more next time. I also used a mixture of harissa and sambal oelek for heat. Fabulous.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

  • 1 3-inch piece fresh ginger
  • 5 large garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup hot chili paste (such as sambal oelek and/or harissa)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 2 T light brown sugar
  • 1 3/4 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 2 T vegetable oil, plus more for grill
  • 2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs (use 10 to 15 thighs)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves with tender stems
  • lime wedges, for serving
  1. Prepare a grill for medium heat.
  2. Finely grate ginger and garlic into a medium bowl.
  3. Add coconut milk, chili paste, lime juice, brown sugar, salt, and 2 tablespoons oil and whisk to combine.
  4. Add chicken and toss to coat. Let sit at least 15 minutes or up to 4 hours.
  5. Remove chicken from marinade, letting excess drip back into bowl, and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.
  6. Pour marinade into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly reduced and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 2–3 minutes.
  7. Clean and generously oil grate of grill (if there are a few flare-ups while you do so, not to worry, they will burn off).
  8. Grill chicken, turning once and basting occasionally with marinade, until you see some good grill marks and chicken is cooked through, 8–10 minutes.
  9. Transfer chicken to a platter. Brush with remaining marinade. Top with cilantro and serve with lime wedges alongside.

Lee Brothers’ Pimento Cheese

My friend served delicious pimento cheese sandwiches recently- reminding me how much I enjoy them. 🙂 Eating them also reminded me that I wanted to try this version from Charleston, South Carolina.

The recipe is from The New York Times, contributed by the Lee Brothers. I used Cabot 3-year sharp cheddar cheese. I served it on the Fourth of July as a dip with crackers and pita chips. Alternatively, it could be used to fill about 4 sandwiches. Easy and fabulous.

Yield: about 1 1/2 cups

  • 8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated with a food processor or hand grater (not pre-grated)
  • 1/4 cup softened cream cheese (2 ounces), pulled into several pieces
  • scant 1/2 cup jarred pimento or other roasted red peppers (from a 7-ounce jar), finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons Duke’s, Hellmann’s or other high-quality store-bought mayonnaise (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red chile flakes
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. In a large mixing bowl, place the cheddar cheese in an even layer.
  2. Scatter the cream cheese, pimentos, mayonnaise and chile flakes over the cheddar cheese.
  3. Using a spatula, mix the pimento cheese until it is smooth and spreadable, about 1 1/2 minutes.
  4. Transfer the pimento cheese to a plastic container or bowl, cover tightly, and store in the refrigerator.
  5. Serve as a sandwich spread or as a dip.

Note: Pimento cheese keeps in the refrigerator for 1 week.

S’mores Blondies

I first made this crowd-pleasing dessert for our last summer beach day and sunset before the start of school. I’ve already made them again! Insanely delicious.

The bars are not overly sweet and they have an amazing texture. I weighed the dry ingredients to ensure perfection. This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Erin Jeanne McDowell. I modified the method. Fabulous!!

Yield: 24 blondies
  • nonstick cooking oil spray
  • 9 whole graham crackers (about 135 grams), or store-bought graham cracker crumbs (about 1 cup)
  • 1 ¼ cups/160 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup/225 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature
  • 1 packed cup/220 grams dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup/100 grams granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces/225 grams bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped into chunks (I used 78% cacao Lindt)
  • 2 ½ cups/150 grams mini marshmallows
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection, and arrange oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.
  2. Coat the inside of a 9-by-13-inch pan with nonstick spray and line it with parchment paper, leaving 2 inches of excess parchment on the long sides of the pan. (The excess will help you pull the blondies out later.)
  3. If using whole graham crackers, add them to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they form a fine powder. Alternately, you could put the crackers in a large resealable plastic bag and crush them using a rolling pin, then add them to the bowl. If using store-bought crumbs, add them directly to the food processor.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder and salt to the crumbs, and pulse a few times to combine.
  5. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time and mix on medium speed until well incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition.
  7. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.
  8. Turn the mixer to low and add the graham crumb mixture and mix just to combine.
  9. Add about ¾ of the chocolate to the mixer and mix to incorporate.
  10. Transfer the dough to the prepared pan. Use damp hands or a small offset spatula to press the dough into an even layer.
  11. Bake on the lower rack until the bars are golden at the edges and the surface has a crackly appearance, 25 minutes on convection or about 30 minutes in a standard oven.
  12. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the marshmallows evenly over the surface. Sprinkle the reserved chocolate on top of the marshmallows and return the pan to the top rack of the oven.
  13. Bake until the marshmallows have softened and are lightly toasted and the chocolate is melted and gooey, 10 to 14 minutes.
  14. Remove the pan from the oven. If any of the marshmallows have puffed up, use a toothpick or skewer to puncture them; they will deflate easily.
  15. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool, 45 minutes.
  16. Using a thin knife, slide the blade between the blondies and the pan on the short sides of the pan, then use the parchment sling to carefully remove the blondies.
  17. Let cool another 10 minutes, then slice into 24 even pieces and serve.

Brazilian Beer Chicken

I have already made this fabulous, full-flavored grilled chicken twice this summer. We loved it!

The recipe was adapted from The Barbecue Bible by Steven Raichlen. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken and coarse grain mustard instead of regular Dijon. On the first occasion, I served it with tzatziki and arugula-basil salad with peaches. Recently, I served it again with roasted potatoes, a raw zucchini salad, and sautéed fresh corn with shallots. All delicious. The original recipe suggests serving it with rice and beans. Next time!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 12 to 16 oz beer (I used a Brooklyn lager)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
  • 1/2 cup whole grain Dijon mustard or Dijon mustard
  • 1 T sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 12 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 9 to 10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 1 (3 1/2 to 4 pound) whole chicken, quartered
  • coarse salt
  • parsley, for garnish, optional
  1. Combine the beer, oil, mustard, paprika, and pepper in a bowl with a spout. Whisk throughly to blend.
  2. Stir in the onion, garlic, and bay leaves.
  3. Place a ziplock bag in a pyrex dish. (I used a 1 gallon bag.) Place the chicken pieces in the ziplock bag.
  4. Pour the marinade over the chicken in the bag. Seal the top and squeeze out excess air.
  5. Turn to coat all of the meat. Lay bag horizontally in the pyrex dish. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 6 hours or up to 2 days, turning occasionally.
  6. Preheat the grill.
  7. When ready to cook, remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and blot dry with paper towels. Season generously with salt.
  8. Oil the grill and cook the chicken, marinating occasionally, until lightly browned and cooked though.
  9. Garnish with parsley, if desired, and serve immediately.

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