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.

Cucumber-Tomato Salad with Seared Halloumi & Sourdough Croutons

This is a great dish to make with wonderful September tomatoes. I used a blend of my CSA tomatoes with grape as well as Campari tomatoes. It may possibly be my daughter’s (and even my husband’s!) dream salad- loaded with tomatoes, cucumbers, sourdough and fried cheese?!?! It was well received. 🙂

The recipe was inspired by a Greek horiatiki salad and is also similar to an Italian panzanella. Incorporating halloumi cheese makes it hearty enough to serve as a vegetarian main course. This recipe is from The New York Times, contributed by Julia Moskin.

Yield: 6 to 8 as an appetizer or side, 4 to 6 as a main course

For the Croutons:

  • 1 pound slightly stale sourdough or country bread, thickly sliced
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt

For the Salad:

  • 4 to 5 cups cucumber chunks, preferably thin-skinned, such as Kirby or Persian
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 3 pounds cherry tomatoes, halved, or ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks (I used a blend of orange cherry, grape, and Campari tomatoes)
  • 8 to 12 ounces halloumi cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup excellent quality extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 2 T thinly sliced red onion or scallions, plus more to taste
  • 2 to 3 T coarsely chopped fresh mint or basil
  • 2 T red wine vinegar, plus more as needed

To Make the Croutons:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut each slice of bread into 1-inch-wide strips. Tear each strip into 1-inch pieces, removing the crust as you go if it is very thick.
  3. Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet (or use 2 sheets, if necessary to prevent crowding). Drizzle with olive oil and toss until evenly coated.
  4. Bake until golden brown and crunchy on the outside, 10 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet and turning the croutons halfway through so they brown evenly, and checking them every few minutes. (I baked mine for 12 minutes on convection.)
  5. Taste and adjust the seasoning with a light sprinkling of salt, if needed. Let cool on the baking sheet.

To Make the Salad:

  1. In a colander in the sink, toss the cucumbers with about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place a bag of ice cubes or an ice pack on top to chill and firm the cucumbers. Let drain while you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes with about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss and set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. Slice the halloumi about 1/4-inch thick, then cut into bite-size strips.
  4. Smash and peel the garlic cloves and combine with 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil in a measuring cup to steep.
  5. Pour off excess liquid from the bowl holding the tomatoes. Add drained cucumbers, red onion or scallions, fresh herbs and 2 tablespoons vinegar to tomatoes and toss well.
  6. Remove and discard the garlic cloves from the extra-virgin olive oil, add the oil to tomatoes and mix well. (If desired, the salad can be made up until this point and refrigerated for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Drain off excess liquid in the bottom of the bowl before proceeding.)
  7. When ready to serve, add about half the croutons to the salad and toss so they can absorb the liquid.
  8. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper, extra-virgin olive oil and vinegar.
  9. Cook the halloumi: Line a plate with paper towels and lightly coat a nonstick skillet with extra-virgin olive oil. Heat oil over medium-high until rippling. Working in batches, cook the halloumi strips on both sides until golden-brown and crusty, about 1 minute per side. Remove to the plate to drain.
  10. Taste and add more croutons to salad as desired. (If there are too many, the salad will be starchy; too few, and it will be wet.)
  11. At the last minute, toss in the halloumi, mix gently and serve immediately. (If desired, transfer to a clean bowl or platter for serving.)

Velvety Corn Soup with Roasted Red Pepper Swirl

I have another fresh corn dish to share. 🙂 This wonderful soup was buttery and luxurious. The beautiful swirl of roasted red peppers puréed with Fresno chiles and smoked paprika gave the finished dish the perfect amount of heat. It is a great late summer dish to serve as the evening temperatures begin to drop.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by David Tanis. I modified the proportions and puréed the soup in a Vitamix and omitted pressing it through a sieve. I used chicken stock, but the original recipe also includes instructions to make corn-cob broth to use as an alternative. Delicious!

Yield: Serves 6

  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 3 fresh Fresno chiles, seeds removed, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp pimentón (smoked paprika) or 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 large yellow onions, diced
  • 4 1/2 cups corn kernels (from 6 large ears) or 4 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 4 1/2 cups water, corn-cob broth (see below) or chicken stock, plus more to adjust consistency
  • Lime wedges, for garnish, optional
  1. Place bell peppers on an aluminum foil lined, rimmed baking sheet under broiler and roast, turning frequently with tongs, until blackened and blistered all over, about 5 minutes per side. (Alternatively, the peppers can also be charred over an open gas flame.)
  2. Remove from heat, wrap in the aluminum foil pan lining (to steam off the charred skin), and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Cut in each in half vertically. With a paring knife, remove seeds from each half, then turn over and peel away the blackened skin. Do not rinse; a little remaining char is fine. Reserve one half for another use.
  4. Transfer 3 halves of roasted pepper to a blender or food processor and add Fresno chiles, pimentón, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend to a smooth purée. Set aside.
  5. Meanwhile, melt butter in a heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium-high heat. (I used a large enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  6. Add onions and corn kernels to the melted butter. Season well with salt and pepper and reduce heat to medium. Cooking, stirring, until onions are softened and beginning to color, 7 to 8 minutes.
  7. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
  8. Add 4 1/2 cups water or stock/broth and salt to taste. Simmer for 15 minutes, until corn is well cooked.
  9. Transfer to a blender or Vitamix and whiz to a smooth purée. Thin with additional water or stock/broth to the consistency of heavy cream, as desired. (I did not add any additional stock.)
  10. If using a Vitamix, purée soup at the highest setting for one minute to ensure a velvety smooth purée. (If using a blender or food processor, pass soup through a fine mesh strainer, pressing with the back of a large spoon or ladle to extract every drop of liquid. (This step is important to guarantee a velvety texture.) Discard any fibrous remains.)
  11. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  12. To serve, reheat and ladle into shallow soup bowls. Swirl about 2 tablespoons pepper purée into the center of each bowl. Pass lime wedges at the table, as desired.

To Make Corn-Cob Broth: put 8 cups water in a large saucepan. Add 6 corn cobs, cut into 3-inch chunks; 1 small onion, sliced; and a small sprig or two of thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Strain. Make broth up to 24 hours in advance.

Corn, Bacon & Cheddar Pie

I do have a few more desserts to share, but I am interrupting those posts to share this amazing savory pie. It was ridiculously good. Worth every calorie in every indulgent bite. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark.  I incorporated whole wheat pastry flour in the cornmeal crust (delicious) and adapted the method.

I made it with fresh sweet corn but I can imagine it would also be wonderful with frozen corn. We ate it with roasted potatoes and a giant green salad- a very satisfying meal. Fluffy and fabulous!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

For the Crust:

  • 1/2 cup/65 grams all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 cup/65 grams whole wheat pastry flour (can substitute all-purpose)
  • 1/4 cup/40 grams cornmeal or polenta/grits
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup/115 grams cold unsalted butter (1 stick), cubed
  • 3 to 6 tablespoons ice water

For the Filling:

  • 1/2 large or 1 small red onion
  • 1 T fresh lime juice, plus more to taste (from 1/2 lime)
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt, plus more as needed
  • pinch of granulated sugar
  • 4 ounces bacon (4 slices), diced
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (from 2 ears if fresh)
  • 2 T chopped pickled jalapeño, plus more slices for topping (I used Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted Green Chilies)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup coarsely shredded sharp Cheddar (3 ounces)
  • 3 T chopped parsley

To Prepare the Crust:

  1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, or in a large bowl, pulse or mix together flour(s), cornmeal and salt until combined.
  2. Add butter, and either pulse or use your finger to smoosh it in until butter is the size of lima beans.
  3. Add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse or mix just until dough comes together. There should still be large flecks of butter left in dough.
  4. Shape dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. (At this point, I placed the disk in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.)
  5. Between 2 layers of plastic wrap, or on a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a 12-inch circle.
  6. Transfer dough to a 9-inch deep pie plate; trim and crimp edges. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before baking. (Dough can be made up to 5 days ahead.)(I made the dough the night before.)

To Make the Filling and Finish the Pie:

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Place the pie dish on a rimmed baking sheet. Prick the bottom of the pie crust with a fork. Line with foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights, dried beans or rice. Bake for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove foil or paper and pie weights or beans. Bake until pale golden and dry to the touch, about 4 to 7 minutes more.
  4. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
  5. While crust is chilling and baking, prepare the filling: Cut red onion in half across the equator (not root to stem), then from the center, cut out two very thin, round slices. Separate onion slices into rings and put them in a bowl with lime juice and a pinch each of salt and sugar. Set aside while you assemble the rest of the tart. (I used half-moons because I used 1/2 of a red onion.)
  6. Coarsely chop remaining onion and set aside. (I used half-moons in the filling as well.)
  7. Scatter diced bacon in a cold 12-inch skillet. (I used a cast iron skillet.) Turn heat to medium, and cook until the bacon is golden and the fat has rendered, 8 to 14 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate. Leave fat in the skillet.
  8. Stir chopped onion into pan with bacon fat and place over medium heat. Sauté until golden-edged and translucent, about 6 minutes.
  9. Stir in corn, 1/2 teaspoon salt and chopped pickled jalapeño. Cook until corn is tender, 2 to 5 minutes.
  10. Remove from heat and scoop 1/2 cup corn mixture into a blender. (I used a Vitamix.)
  11. Add cream, sour cream and eggs. Blend until you get a purée.
  12. Using a spatula, scrape corn purée back in pan with whole corn kernels.
  13. Stir in 1/2 cup Cheddar, the parsley and the cooked bacon.
  14. Scrape mixture into the baked pie shell.
  15. Top filling mixture with pickled red onion slices and jalapeño slices. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Cheddar.
  16. Cover the edge of the pie crust to prevent over-browning.
  17. Bake until puffed, golden and just set, 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Key Lime Bars

I have a few bar desserts to share. Great for a crowd, party or pot luck event. I have made all of these desserts on more than one occasion! Quite an endorsement. 🙂

These tart, tangy, and sweet bars were fabulous- the crust was absolute perfection. I made them off-season and used bottled Key lime juice. They are a must try with fresh Key lime juice! Fresh Key lime slices would also be a lovely garnish.

This recipe was adapted from the Key lime pie from Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami Beach, via Martha Stewart Living.

Yield: 16 bars

  • 1 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons finely ground graham cracker crumbs (8 full cracker sheets)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • finely grated zest of 1 lime (about 1 1/2 tsp)
  • 2/3 cup fresh or bottled Key lime juice (about 23 Key limes total)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, for garnish, optional
  • 2 Key limes, thinly sliced into half-moons, for garnish, optional
  • confectioner’s sugar, for garnish, optional
  1. Make crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Line a 8-inch square, or equivalent, baking dish with parchment paper, letting it hang over 2 sides.
  2. Using a food processor, pulse graham crackers into fine crumbs.
  3. Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a small bowl. Press evenly onto bottom of the prepared baking dish. (I used the bottom of a dry measuring cup.)
  4. Bake until dry and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack. (Leave oven on.)
  5. Make filling: Put egg yolks and lime zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on high speed until very thick, about 5 minutes.
  6. Reduce speed to medium. Add condensed milk in a slow, steady stream, mixing constantly. Raise speed to high; mix until thick, about 3 minutes.
  7. Reduce speed to low. Add lime juice; mix until just combined.
  8. Spread filling evenly over crust using a spatula.
  9. Bake, rotating dish halfway through, until filling is just set, about 10 minutes.
  10. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Refrigerate at least 4 hours (or overnight).
  11. Cut into 2-by-2-inch bars.
  12. Put cream in the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the clean whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Garnish bars with confectioner’s sugar, whipped cream, and/or a slice of lime, as desired.
Note: The bars will keep, wrapped in plastic, in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Greens with Tomatoes, Creamed Mozzarella & Wild Rice

While my kids were away at sleep away camp over the summer (for one week), my sweet husband encouraged me to make dishes that were loaded with my favorite greens, etc. (dishes that may not have thrilled my kids!) Don’t worry, we also went out to eat. 🙂

I had wanted to make this dish after reading about how the recipe creates a faux burrata- genius! This recipe was adapted from Epicurious.com, contributed by Abra Berens. I substituted my beautiful CSA chard for the kale. This dish would also be delicious using true burrata, of course. 😉 I used pre-sliced fresh mozzarella but would use torn pieces from a ball of fresh mozzarella next time. It would have improved the burrata hack. Any cooked grain could be substituted for the wild rice as well.

We ate this dish as a main course, but it would also be a nice side dish or salad course.

Yield: Serves 2 to 4 as a main course

  • 1 small yellow onion or 1/2 large yellow onion, cut into thin slices
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup white wine or rosé
  • 1 cup wild rice, soaked overnight in 4 cups water (can substitute farro, quinoa, brown rice, etc.)
  • 1 bunch (4 cups) red or rainbow chard or kale, midribs stripped, cut into 1/4-inch ribbons
  • 1 ball (8 oz, 1/2 pound) fresh mozzarella
  • 4 T sour cream (or yogurt or creme fraiche)
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 pint (2 cups) grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  1. Soak the wild rice overnight in 4 cups of water. (The soaking liquid is used to cook the rice.)
  2. Heat a glug of olive oil in a large sauté pan. Sweat the onion and garlic with the salt until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the white wine and reduce by half.
  4. Add the wild rice and the soaking liquid and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender, about 45 minutes.
  5. In a mixing bowl, sprinkle the chard/kale with a pinch of salt. Massage until the greens are dark green, limp, and tender in mouthfeel.
  6. Tear the mozzarella into rough chunks.
  7. Combine with the sour cream, lemon zest and juice, a good pinch of salt, and a couple of grinds of black pepper.
  8. When the wild rice is cooked, drain any residual liquid and let cool.
  9. Toss the tomatoes, kale, and wild rice together with a couple glugs of olive oil and a pinch of salt.
  10. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  11. Dot with the creamed mozzarella and serve.
Note: The amount of time it takes to tenderize raw greens will vary depending on the age of the plant. The tougher the leaves, the longer it will take. Along the way, taste an individual leaf—once it is easily chewable, you’re done.

Basil Chicken Saltimbocca with Marinated Tomatoes & Mozzarella

We gobbled up the original version of this classic Italian dish when it was published in Bon Appétit. I had to try this summery version of the same dish. It was absolutely incredible.

This recipe was adapted from Half Baked Harvest.com. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts, increased the amount of garlic, and substituted ciliegine mozzarella balls for the burrata. It is an amazing adaptation of the original recipe.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 6 cloves garlic, grated
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup fresh basil, approximately, divided
  • 10 thin slices prosciutto
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil, plus more for cooking
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 2 T fresh thyme leaves, optional
  • zest of 1 lemon, optional
  • 4 oz ciliegine mozzarella balls or 3 balls burrata cheese, torn
  1. Working one at a time, place the chicken thighs between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Pound to achieve even thickness.
  2. Place the eggs and Panko in separate shallow bowls. (I used glass pie dishes.)
  3. Rub the chicken with garlic (1 clove per chicken thigh) and season with salt and pepper.
  4. One at a time, press 2 basil leaves on top of each chicken thigh.
  5. Wrap 2 pieces (1 1/2 pieces if small) of prosciutto around each cutlet to secure the basil.
  6. Dredge both sides of the chicken through the egg and then through the Panko, pressing gently to adhere. Place the chicken on a plate.
  7. Make the marinated tomatoes: In a bowl, toss together the tomatoes, 3 tablespoons olive oil, the balsamic vinegar, 1/2 cup fresh basil (chiffonade), and a pinch of salt, as well as the thyme and lemon zest, if using. (I omitted the thyme and lemon zest.) Add the cheese, if using ciliegine. Toss to combine. Set aside.
  8. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high.
  9. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken and cook until the bottom side is golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.
  10. Carefully flip the chicken and cook until golden brown on the other side, about 3-4 minutes.
  11. Transfer to a plate and lightly season with salt.
  12. Serve the chicken warm topped with the mozzarella/burrata and marinated tomatoes.

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