A Berry Nice Surprise

In a moment of great ambition, I volunteered to make pies for my family’s Easter celebration. Baking does not come naturally to me, so I felt a lot of pressure to get these pies right, since there was going to be a crowd of about 20 people. I decided on one strawberry rhubarb and one apple pie. I also decided to buy pre-made crust, and that I was not going to post about this adventure. However, a few things happened and that all changed. First, I found out there is no rhubarb to be found anywhere this time of year. So, with the strawberries already in my cart I decided to try a mixed berry pie. Second, the pies came out great! So here we are 🙂


Mixed Berry Pie
adapted from Epicurious

2 store bought pie crusts (I used the Whole Food’s brand frozen ones, made from only a few whole ingredients)
1-16oz container of strawberries, hulled and halved
1/2 pint fresh blueberries
1/2 pint fresh raspberries
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (dark or light)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg yolk (for glaze)

Preheat over to 400 degrees F. Combine all ingredients except egg yolk in a bowl, and stir until fruit is nice and coated. Line a pie dish with one crust, and fill with fruit mixture. It should be piled nice and high, since the filling will cook down quite a bit. Carefully cover pie with the second crust. Seal by crimping the edges together with a fork nice and tightly. Cut a few slits in the top for vents.

To make the glaze, beat one egg yolk, 1 tsp of water and 1/4 tsp white sugar together. Brush over the top crust.

Bake for 20 minutes at 400F, then reduce temperature to 350F and bake for an additional hour to 1 hour and 25 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from over and cool completely before slicing. Enjoy!


Chicken Sausage Lettuce Wraps

Confession: It’s not always easy being clean. Keeping the meal repertoire interesting and tasty enough to stay on track is hard to do sometimes. My motivation and creativity come in waves. Recently, simplicity has been my ingredient of choice. So, the other night I started with one idea, chicken sausage. Recently I’ve been playing around with taking sausage out of the casing, making it much more versatile. I actually googled “chicken sausage lettuce wraps” to see what ideas I could steal, but there wasn’t much to be found. I had cooked quinoa and a lemon in the fridge, naturally challenging me to incorporate them as well. So, I thought, let’s see if we can’t make chicken sausage lettuce wraps a thing.


Chicken Sausage Lettuce Wraps
Makes 3-4 servings

6 plain chicken sausages, casings removed
1 head bib lettuce
1 granny smith apple, diced
1 cup cooked quinoa
handfull fresh parsley, chopped (I actually pulled mind out of the freezer)
1 tbsp lemon juice
sea salt and pepper to taste

In a hot pan, add the sausage and break it up into small pieces as it begins to cook. Saute on medium heat until completely cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add in the quinoa and cook an additional 2-3 minutes, until everything is heated through.

Remove from heat. Toss sausage mixture in a large mixing bowl with parsley, lemon juice and the diced apple.

Carefully pull off each lettuce leaf, and fill them with a spoonful of the mixture. Serve like tacos. This also makes great leftovers, just pack filling and lettuce separately.


Grandma’s Chicken Soup

One of my most vivid memories of my grandma’s kitchen as a kid was creeping around for treats. If we were making chocolate chip cookies, I stealthily ate little pieces of butter when no one was looking. I would lick the batter from my fingers until I felt sick, even though the raw egg made my hands and mouth itchy. When she made chicken soup, I would sneak into the kitchen and eat handfuls of the cooked egg noodles that were waiting to be tossed into the soup. They were starchy, bland, plain and absolutely the best. I didn’t crave candy and ice cream, but put noodles, bread or rice in front of my and I was in heaven. I’ve pretty much been a carb tooth since I could chew. (I was also known to throw tantrums in the car if I could not have olives as a snack, but that’s neither here nor there.)

Though a loaf of bread is still my favorite dessert, I have come to enjoy the fresh veggies and rich broth of chicken soup and can survive without the noodles. I think the ritual is the best part. Putting on a pot of soup and filling my apartment with the smell is cleansing and brings be back to center. This weekend’s snow storm was an added bonus, making for a perfect Saturday.

Grandma’s Chicken Soup
makes 6-8 servings

1 whole chicken, with skin
1 sweet potato, peeled
2 onions
1 turnip, peeled
1 parsnip, peeled
4 carrots, peeled
2-3 celery stalks with tops
2-3 whole garlic cloves, peeled
small bunch of fresh dill
small bunch of fresh parsley
sea salt and pepper to taste

A note before we being: This soup is very user friendly. The list and number of veggies above is just a suggestion, and the more you add the richer your soup will be. Feel free to add anything you have in the house.

bunch-of-fresh-soup-veggies-in-a-kitchenTo start, make a bundle of herbs by tying together the dill and parsley with kitchen twine or sewing thread. Fill a cup with cold water and soak the bundle until adding it to the soup.

bundle-of-fresh-herbs-for-stockWash and peel all veggies and cut into large chunks. Add them to a large soup pot. Rinse chicken and add to the pot as well.
Add just enough cold water to cover all the ingredients. The less water, the richer your soup will be, but everything should be covered. Sprinkle in salt and pepper.

Bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat and skim off any brown foam off the top of the liquid.

Add herb bundle and return to a simmer. Cover and simmer on med-low for about 1.5 hours. Check in on it a few times, you may have to skim the top again. Also taste periodically, and add salt or pepper if necessary.

Once finished, separate out the chicken and veggies from the broth. Throw away the herb bundle. Then run liquid through a strainer to make it nice and clear.

clean-strained-chicken-soup-broth-in-containersTo serve, add chicken and veggies back into broth. Some nice additions are brown rice, barley, quinoa or my new favorite, wheat berries!

Any unused broth can be frozen and used in other recipes. I also figured out (by accident) that you can use some leftover broth in place of water to make another soup. Cooking it again with a fresh batch of veggies and chicken makes the color and flavor even richer.

Happy New Year!