March 2013

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My dad has been talking about black walnuts for years. He loves them. A few years back, he really wanted some homemade black walnut cookies. So, I went on a search in the Pittsburgh area and could not find them. We found some chocolate that had them in it, so I bought that. Then, I sort of forgot about it.

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Well, until yesterday. I stopped at Giant Eagle to get some pickles for the dinner that I will share with you next week. As I was walking through the store, I paused to read a text message. When I looked down, a little plastic bag caught my eye. It said “raw black walnut pieces”. I immediately called my dad and asked him how many bags he wanted. So, we are now the proud owner of 3 bags of black walnuts.

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The first bag went into this cookie recipe. These cookies have oat flour in them which makes them have a toothless to them that chocolate chip cookies do not have, but not the density of an oatmeal cookie. It compliments the black walnuts well. I will be delivering the cookies to my parents today so my dad can enjoy them over the next month.

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Black Walnut Cookies

by Jessica

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 8-12 minutes

Keywords: bake dessert cookie

 

Ingredients (2-3 dozen cookies)

  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 ounces black walnuts, toasted

Instructions

Place the oat meal in the food processor or blender. Blend into a fine flour.

In a large bowl with a mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until fluffy. Add the egg and the vanilla. Blend to combine. Add baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, oat flour, and all purpose flour. Mix until combined. Add black walnuts and mix until the walnuts are evenly distributed.

Roll the dough into 24-36 cookie dough balls and place in an airtight container. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Take the cookie dough balls and break in half. Place the broken edge side up. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 8-12 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack.

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Daily Dish Magazine

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Oh, Meatloaf.

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I had to come up with a way to make it less of a giant hunk of meat and more of a healthy, tasty treat. I decided to mix the beef with jedra. Jedra is like a pilaf made with bulgur and lentils with garlic and onions. It adds a delicious flavor to the meatloaf that I had never tasted before. It is not as dense as an all meat dish, with tons of flavor and fiber.

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This is a great meatloaf to try for meatloaf haters. Top it with some simple pan gravy. Serve it ail mashed potatoes and green beans!

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My meatloaf tip: Make the meatloaf in advance (like the night before you plan to eat it). It is easier to slice when it is cold. You can reheat it in a pan on medium heat. The outside of the slices get caramelized and it heats quickly.

Meatloaf with Bulgur and Lentils

by Jessica

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour

Keywords: bake entree beef lentils bulgur fall winter

Ingredients (6-8 servings)

  • 3/4 pound super lean ground beef
  • 2 cups jedra (see recipe)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 3 pieces of bread, torn into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice from small can stewed tomatoes
  • stewed tomatoes
  • green pepper, sliced

Instructions

Heat oven to 400.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except stewed tomatoes and green pepper. Mix to combine. It should be moist but not soupy. If it is too moist, add more bread or breadcrumbs.

Put mixture in a loaf pan. Top with stewed tomatoes and green peppers. Bake for 40-50 minutes. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

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Let’s talk cereal. As a kid, I loved many cereals, but my parents would never buy them. I had to go to Grandma’s house for the good stuff. I’m talking about Cocoa Krispies, Fruit Loops, Corn Pops, Lucky Charms, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

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Oh the delicious, sugary cereals. They were such a treat. I may have picked what I wanted at the time based on the prizes. I think my favorite was Cinnamon Toast Crunch, though. I would pick it even without an awesome prize.

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When I had the idea to make cereal treats with different cereals, I wanted to take my favorite cereal flavors and make delicious treats. So, we made a bunch of different treats.

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Corn Pops Treats

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Fruit Loops Treats

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Rice Crispy Treats

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Lucky Charms Treats

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Lucky Charms Treats

My favorite treats were the classic rice crispy treats, cinnamon toast crunch, and cocoa crispies. It’s not real a surprise because those were also my favorite cereals as a child. You can use any cereals that you enjoy. It is the same basic recipe. I can imagine having a table of different cereal treats at a birthday party.

Cereal Treats

by Jessica

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients (16 treats)

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 10 ounce bag marshmallows
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 cups cereal

For Cocoa Crispies

  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder

For Cinnamon Toast Crunch

  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

Instructions

In a large sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter.

Spray a rubber spatula with cooking spray.

Add the marshmallows, stirring frequently to melt. When melted, add the vanilla (cinnamon or cocoa powder for other cereals). Stir to combine. Add the cereal and stir to combine.

Place in an 8×8 that is lined with parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray. Do not use waxed paper.

Use another piece of parchment paper that has been sprayed with cooking spayed. Press down on the treats to compress and form to the pan. Allow to cool before cutting.

To store, do not stack. Place in an air-tight container lined with parchment paper that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

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Foodie Friends Friday

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If you didn’t already notice, I am a bit obsessed with latin american cuisine. I love it. I love the bright flavors, the abundance of cilantro, the spice. All of it. Combined with my love of latin american cuisine, is my love of creating lunch items that are stored in the freezer and easily packed each day.

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Empanadas make a great freezer meal. I like to make minis and pack a few each day for lunch. Below I included my recipe for homemade chorizo. I developed this recipe by adjusting the spices and cooking small amounts until I loved the flavor. I suggest that method any time you are making a new sausage recipe. Then, allow the flavors to merry overnight. The below recipe is for potato, roasted pepper, and chorizo empanadas.

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The other flavor that we have made was using leftover carnitas, corn casserole, fire roasted Anaheim peppers, and Jack cheese. Those are seriously good. They are a great use for leftovers of any kind.

Empanada Dough

by Jessica

Prep Time: 10 minutes plus 1 hour rest

Cook Time: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients (36 mini empanada)

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 stick cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup ice water
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water

Instructions

In a food processor, pulse flour, butter, salt, and egg until it reaches a sand texture. Add the vinegar. With the food processor on low, drizzle in the ice water. Process until the dough forms a ball. You may need to add more flour if it is too moist or water if it is too dry.

Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough very thin. Cut into three inch diameter circles. Dip your finger in water. Moisten the inner edge the whole way around. Fill with 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of your choice of filling. Stretch the dough around the filling. Using a floured fork, close the empanada by making indentations the whole way around the outer edge.

Place on a rack on a baking sheet. Coat the outside with egg wash (egg and 1 tablespoon water). Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until brown and crispy on the outside. Remove from the oven and enjoy.

These freeze very well.

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Chorizo, Potato, and Fire Roasted Pepper Empanada Filling

by Jessica

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients (Filling for 36 mini Empanadas)

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, diced
  • 3/4 pound chorizo
  • 1 Idaho Potato
  • 2 fire roasted poblano peppers

Instructions

In a medium skillet, cook onions in oil until translucent. Add the chorizo and cook until brown.

While the onion and chorizo are cooking, microwave the potato until cooked thoroughly.

Add the potato and diced poblano peppers and stir to combine. Cool before stuffing into empanadas.

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Chorizo

by Jessica

Prep Time: 10 minutes active 8-24 hours r

Ingredients (8 servings)

  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 2 pounds ground pork

Instructions

Place all spices in a food processor. Process until the garlic is finely ground. Pour spices into a bowl with the pork. Mix to combine. Store in a plastic bag for at least 8 hours or up to 24.

It is yummy immediately, you can taste for spices by cooking a small amount in a pan.

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Foodie Friends Friday

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Who doesn’t love a breakfast sandwich? Ever since I was a child, I loved the breakfast sandwiches that came on a biscuit. Especially when the biscuit is buttery. One day, I really wanted a sausage breakfast sandwich. I went to the grocery store and bought some Bob Evan’s sandwich-sized sausage patties. They were good, but a little too thick and salty for me. I did like that it was the same size as the bread.

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I decided that I wanted to make my own breakfast sausage. I could make a big batch and freeze it. It would have less fat, and I could control all of the ingredients that went in to it. We started developing the recipe by adding the spices a little at a time and cooking a small amount until we liked the amount of seasoning. This is our perfect sausage recipe.

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If you want to create your own breakfast sausage recipe, I suggest doing the same thing. Write down how much spice you add, and then taste by cooking a little as you go.

Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Biscuit

by Jessica

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

 

Ingredients (2 breakfast Sandwiches)

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon flour
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Biscuits (I use whole wheat buttermilk biscuits)
  • 2 slices cheese (I use white American)
  • 2 sausage patties, biscuit sized

Instructions

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. In a small bowl, combine eggs, milk, and flour with a fork until the color and texture is consistent.

When the pan is hot, pour in the eggs. When the bottom has set, push the cooked part to the middle. Flip when the bottom is solid. Continue to cook until solid.

Place the sausage on the biscuits. Top with the egg and cheese. I like to heat it in the microwave until the cheese melts.

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Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits

by Jessica

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10-12 minutes

Keywords: breakfast sandwich

 

Ingredients (2 large or 4 small biscuits)

  • 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon melted butter (to spread on top)

Instructions

Heat oven to 450.

Put flour, baking powder, salt, and butter in the food processor. Pulse until it reaches a sand consistency.

Pour flour mixture into a large bowl. Add honey and milk.

Dump mixture onto a floured surface. Pat until is it about 1/2 inch in thickness. Cut biscuits using a biscuit cutter or glass. Reform and cut until all the dough is used.

Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or until the bottoms are browned. Brush with melted butter.

Serve hot.

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Breakfast Sausage

by Jessica

Prep Time: 10 minutes active 8-24 hours r

Keywords: breakfast

 

Ingredients (2 pounds sausage)

  • 2 pounds of ground pork or turkey
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 2 teaspoon ground dry mustard
  • 3 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring, optional

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl until spices are evenly dispersed.

To test the spice mixture, pan fry a small amount and adjust flavorings as desired. I like it zesty, so you may want to start with a smaller amount of spices and increase until you like the spice level.

Place in a zip-top bag and store over night. Cook as desired or freeze.

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Foodie Friends Friday

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HungryLittleGirl

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This is my second time participating in Hungry Little Girl’s Surprise Recipe Swap. This month, I was matched with Amber from Dessert Now, Dinner Later! Amber has tons of amazing looking recipes. After much time debating what to try, I decided on the blackened chicken alfredo.

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I decided on the blackened chicken alfredo because I never make blackened chicken. Until now, I had not found a recipe that I liked. Most are too salty. This one is perfect. It is not too salty, it is complex, yet simple to make. I will be making this seasoning again. It paired really well with alfredo sauce.

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The best part was the leftovers. It was a really good lunch the next day. I highly recommend this blackening seasoning. Amber has been using it since culinary school and I can see why.

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Below are some other recipes that I am really excited to try from Dessert Now, Dinner Later!

Head over to Desert Now, Dinner Later! and check out some of her awesome recipes. You can join the Surprise Recipe Swap, click the link below.

HungryLittleGirl

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I love salmon, but I almost never eat it. We eat tons of it in the summer when it is flown in fresh and wild, but in the winter it is never as good as the summer. Plus, we have had fresh salmon on the west coast in Seattle and British Columbia. The stuff in Pennsylvania is never as good. After a very long break, I decided that I really wanted salmon a week ago. It was so good, I made it again.

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I think the key to good salmon is getting a good sear on one side. I don’t like it on the grill or in the oven. I like to crust it in lemon pepper and sear it, basting it in butter at the end.

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My favorite things to serve it with are jedra, roasted vegetables, and Greek yogurt. This is a fresh, healthy, tasty meal for any weeknight or guests.

As part of the Surprise Recipe Swap, you can check out Marly’s This and That here.

Seared salmon

by Jessica

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 8-10 minutes

 

Ingredients (2 servings)

  • 1/2 pound salmon, cut into two pieces
  • lemon pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • juice 1/2 lemon

Instructions

Heat a skillet on medium-high. Coat the top of the salmon with lemon pepper.

Oil the hot pan and place the salmon lemon pepper side down. Cook without moving for a few minutes until a crust forms. Flip and add the remaining ingredients. Reduce the heat to medium low. Spoon the sauce over the salmon as it continues to cook. Cook until desired temperature.

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Foodie Friends Friday

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Jedra

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I grew up eating middle eastern food, despite the fact that my family is not from the middle east. We ate lamb almost weekly and tabbouleh, grape leaves, hummus, baklava, and many other delicious treats. Surprisingly, there is a fairly large Syrian population in New Castle, and so the recipes are typical fair at various restaurants. One of my favorite dishes to recreate is jedra. I have heard it called m’jedra and mujaddara as well.

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This dish consists of lentils and bulgier cooked and served with onions. I enjoy it most when it is served with yogurt. I typically use Greek yogurt when I eat it. It is really good with some roasted vegetables or a little salmon.

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I like to make a big batch on the weekend and eat it all week for lunch. It makes the perfect side dish for almost any meal. It is high in protein and bulgier is a whole grain, so it is a pretty healthy meal. I hope you enjoy this as much as we do. And don’t be afraid to add yogurt. It really does make it perfect!

Jedra

by Jessica

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Keywords: saute simmer side vegan vegetarian lentils bulgur

Ingredients (6 servings)

  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup uncooked bulgur
  • 1 cup uncooked lentils
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste

Instructions

In an 8 quart pot, place lentils and bulger. Cover with 2-3 inches of water. Boil with a lid slightly ajar until cooked through (about 20 minutes). Strain.

In a large skillet, heat oil. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cook about 1 minute. Add bulger and lentils. Stir and cook 5-10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with plain yogurt.

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Foodie Friends Friday

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Happy Pi Day! In honor of Pi day, I wanted to share with you the pie (not pi) of my childhood. As a kid, my grandma babysat me each day while my parents were working. Being with her everyday, I did basically everything with her. One of the things we did most frequently was go to lunch with her sister, my Aunt Helen. A few times a week, we would drive to her house and pick her up. It was always a good time.

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Then, they would pick a restaurant. They had interesting eating habits. I think my grandma subsided on candy, ice cream, dessert, and chips. Typically the place that we went served fried food, burgers, and dessert. There was one particular restaurant that we went to all the time specifically for the pie and homemade root beer. It was called B&Bs and was located on route 422 outside of New Castle, PA. I know I always ordered pie and root beer. They always ate fried mushrooms and a bunch of other stuff that I refused to eat.

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My favorite pie was a chocolate peanut butter pie with meringue. For years, I have been on a search to find this pie. I have google searched but only have come up with pies without meringue. In restaurants, I have ordered chocolate peanut butter pie, only to end up with whipped topping instead of meringue.

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As I was choosing Pi Day recipes (those will be popping up on the blog in the next few weeks), I kept thinking about that pie. The filling is a pudding filling, with fluffy meringue, and a flakey pie crust. This is it, the elusive pie. Now you can share my taste memory. Mind blowing.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie Filling

by Jessica

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Keywords: simmer dessert pie

Ingredients (filling for 1 pie)

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 3/4 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 75 grams 65% cocoa chocolate (about 2.5 ounces), chopped
  • pinch salt

Instructions

Combine sugar, cocoa powder, and corn starch in a small pan. Add milk.

Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture becomes thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Remove from heat and add vanilla and salt. Stir to combine. Add the peanut butter and chocolate and allow to sit for 1 minute. Stir until the chocolate melts and the peanut butter is combined.

Allow to cool and pour into your precooked pie shell.

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Pie Crust (Prebaked)

by Jessica

Prep Time: 75 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients (1 pie crust)

  • 1 cup and 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 stick cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons ice water

Instructions

In a food processor, combine flour, salt and sugar to combine (about 3 seconds). Add butter and vanilla. Pulse until it becomes a sand consistency. Pulse in ice water 1/2 tablespoon at a time until the dough forms a ball. Remove from the food processor, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Flour your surface and roll until the dough is about 2 inches larger than the pie plate. Gently place the dough in the pie plate, patching any holes with extra dough and moist fingers. Cut off any dough that is hanging over the edge. Fold over remaining dough and crimp.

Put fork holes in the pie crust, line with parchment and fill with beans, pie weights, or rice (you will keep these for future pies). Bake for 15 minutes at 425. Remove the parchment and weights and bake an additional 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Fill with your favorite pie filling

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Meringue

by Jessica

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 12-15 minutes

Ingredients (for 1 pie)

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl with a hand mixer or the stand mixer, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add cream of tartar and vanilla. Continue beating, adding the sugar a little at a time until hard peaks form.

Top the pie with the meringue. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes or until the meringue is browned.

Allow to cool and serve.

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Foodie Friends Friday

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Each year Pierre chooses his own birthday meal. He really could pick all of our meals, but he seems to struggle with meal planning more than I do. This year, he decided that he would like to have shrimp and grits. I had never made the dish before, so I started researching.

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I knew that I did not want to use tons of cream and butter. So, I read tons of recipes and came up with my own variation.

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The grits came out creamy and the shrimp was just slightly spicy. It had a nice acidic taste from the lime and richness from the cream and butter. I know they are not authentic, but they certainly hit the spot. Especially with those bacon sprinkles!

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Shrimp and Grits

by Jessica

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients (2-4 servings)

    For the Shrimp

    • 3/4 pound shell on, raw shrimp (I like smaller shrimp)
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 jalapeƱo, diced
    • 1 clove garlic
    • 2 teaspoons green onion, diced
    • juice 1/2 lime
    • 3 drops Worcestershire Sauce
    • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
    • 3 slices bacon, browned

    For the Grits

    • Shells from the shrimp
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1 1/4 cup milk
    • 1 cup shrimp water
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup cornmeal
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • 1/4 cup grated pepper jack cheese
    • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

    Instructions

    For the Shrimp

    Defrost the shrimp in a room temperature water bath. Remove the shells and place in a small sauce pan.

    In a medium skillet, cook the jalapeno in oil over medium heat until tender. Add the crushed garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds. Add the shrimp and cook until pink. Remove the shrimp and set aside.

    Add the green onion, lime, Worcestershire Sauce, cilantro, and cream to the pan. Cook another minute or two. Serve the sauce over the shrimp and grits. Garnish with Bacon, cilantro, and green onions if desired.

    For the grits

    In a small sauce pan, cook the shrimp shells in about 1 1/2 cups water with salt for 10 minutes on high. Strain the liquid and use it in the grits.

    In a small sauce pan, add milk, water, and salt. Bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in the cornmeal. Cover and cook on low. Whisk every two minutes to prevent sticking (They will be done in about 10 minutes. . When creamy, whisk in butter, heavy cream, and cheese. Serve immediately.

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