Pear Butter Weight

Let’s be honest: there’s baby weight, and then there’s grad school weight.  And as long as we’re putting on weight, may as well make it worth it.  This pear butter is golden, just the right amount of sweetness, and will put you in all the good graces of anyone lucky enough to get a homemade jar from your hands.

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  • Servings: makes 6 pint jars
  • Difficulty: relatively easy
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  • 20 pears, cored and chopped in a large dice
  • zest of 2 large oranges
  • 2 vanilla beans, seeds scraped out, and pods used to steep*
  • 5 cinnamon sticks
  • 2-3 teaspoons anise seeds, depending on your taste
  • 4 cups sugar


  1. Combine all ingredients in a large stockpot.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the pears have cooked down to a soft texture, and most of the liquid has cooked off so the whole mixture looks almost like a can of apple pie filling (it will be a little wetter, not quite so much of a gel like the canned pie filling).  This will take about one hour.
  2. Remove the vanilla bean pods and cinnamon sticks, and working in batches, ladle about 5 cups of the pear mixture into the blender to blend into a smooth consistency (I usually do this in just two batches).
  3. Spoon into jars and can according to your canning directions, or save in the freezer.  (I always make 5 jars as “canned” jars to save in the pantry, and then fill an extra jar to keep in our fridge to eat right then.  The “extra” jar isn’t quite filled to a full pint.)

* If you don’t have vanilla beans, you can add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract while you are blending it; it will have a nice vanilla flavor, but you will miss the nuance whole vanilla beans give to the butter (I know I did when I made it with extract instead of beans!)


End of Summer Treats

Between the grocery stores putting flats and boxes of fruits on crazy outrageous sale prices, and neighbors asking us to help pick the abundant fruits falling off their trees, I have been a mad-jam-making woman in the kitchen this past week.  Got Jam?  Yes:  Strawberry, Strawberry Peach, Peach, Peach Orange, Apple Cranberry, Pear Butter…You know what I’m giving for Christmas now…Shhh, don’t tell!

Other than mad-jam-making, I’m also currently training for a half, and training hard to PR–I’m determined to run this one sub-2 hours (I was 2 measley minutes over the last half I ran, so it’s in my head now…).  I’ve upped my training schedule and cross-training schedule, and I’ve cut sugar.  So a little jam + buttermilk biscuit is a nice treat at the end of a long day.  And don’t tell me how much sugar is in jam.  It’s fruit, right??!

And after jam + biscuits, you gotta have a veggie pie.  This is a great pie to use up your summer veggies–zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper, basil.  And it makes a super pie for a crowd, or little individual pies for a small dinner.  I decided to go individual.

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Just roughly (rustically?) fit the pie dough into your pie plate or individual bowls, mix up the ricotta cheese with an egg and seasonings, layer the veggies on top, and you’ve got a veggie pie!

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  • Servings: makes 4 individual pies or 1 regular-sized pie
  • Difficulty: mediumish
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Adapted from Cooking Light


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 T sugar
  • 6 T unsalted very cold butter
  • 1/4 cup very cold vegetable shortening
  • 4-5 T ice water


  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced in thin rounds
  • 1 medium yellow squash, sliced in thin rounds
  • 1 medium red pepper, cut into 2-inch matchsticks
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, julienned
  • 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 more egg, beaten (for brushing the pie dough before baking)


  1. Start with the pie crust.  Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  Cut in the cold butter and shortening.  Sprinkle the ice water over the flour mixture, one tablespoon at a time.  Stir together with a spoon until a ball of dough starts to form.  Continue to form using your hands, kneading the dough together in 5-6 quick smooshes (The heat from your hands will melt the butter and shortening, and your dough won’t be as flaky, so work quickly!).  Flatten the dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 400F.
  3. Combine the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, basil, lemon zest and juice, and egg in a large mixing bowl.  If you haven’t yet, this would be a good time to slice up the veggies.  Put the sliced veggies in a large mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil, and add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Unwrap the dough and roll it out on a floured surface.  Roll into one large disc to fit a 9-10-inch pie plate, or use to cut 4 smaller discs to fit 4-5-inch round baking dishes.  Fit the dough into the baking dish, and spread the ricotta mixture over the bottom of the pie.  If you are making one large pie, pour the veggies in the pie plate, overtop the ricotta mixture.  If you are making individual pies, evenly divide the veggies among the four baking bowls.
  5. Fold the edges of the pie dough toward the middle of the pie.  Brush the pie dough with the egg and bake at 400F for 40 minutes for a large pie, and 20-30 for the smaller pies.

Melty Leeks

One of my favorite spring and summer finds is the leek.  This is an onion, but when cooked down is all melty sweet goodness and none of the usual onion sharpness.  Leeks work as a great topping, accompaniment, flavor addition, etc. etc.–they do it all!  In this recipe, they are going to add flavor to my favorite quick dinner:  a frittata.  I love frittatas because in a pinch you can still have a filling and veggie-laden dinner on the table within 20 minutes.  Serve with fruit and maybe some whole grain bread, and you’re set!

Leeks are pretty easy to clean.  First, slice in half lengthwise, second, rinse all the fronds individually and let dry, third slice thinly, and fourth, cook down with olive oil, salt and pepper.  It looks like a lot of onions in the pan, but they cook down quite a bit.

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This frittata has leeks, potatoes, red pepper, and mixed greens.

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Once you cook down the leeks, add the red pepper and cook just a few minutes more.  Add the leeks and red pepper in a bowl with the greens and set aside.

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Sauté the potato rounds, add the greens back to the pan, pour on the eggs.

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Let it cook for 7-10 minutes on the burner, then slide the oven-safe pan into the oven to finish cooking through.

Frittatas also work great as a sandwich on the go!

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  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 6-10 eggs
  • 1 cup milk or half-and-half
  • 2 leek stalks, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 3 small potatoes (red or gold preferable), thinly sliced
  • 2 loosely-packed cups of mixed greens


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Beat the eggs and milk or half-and half, salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.  Set the mixed greens in a mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. Coat a large (oven-proof) sauté pan with olive oil and heat to medium-low.  Add the leeks and salt and pepper to taste, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are golden and melty looking.  Add the red pepper and sauté for a few minutes more until the pepper is crisp tender.  Remove from the heat and add to the bowl with the mixed greens.
  4. Put the sauté pan back on the heat and coat with olive oil.  Raise heat to medium-high and add the sliced potatoes in one single layer.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook until golden brown.  Flip and cook again until golden brown on the other side.
  5. Reduce heat to low and add the mixed green mixture on top of the potatoes.  Pour the egg mixture evenly over top of all the veggies.  Cook until the egg is just set on the bottom, about 7-10 minutes.  Place the pan in the oven and cook for about 15-20 more minutes, until the eggs are slightly jiggly in the center but not wet.

Garden Vegetable Eggs Florentine

In our family, two of us have a “sweet tooth switch” and two of us do not.  You know, the switch that flips when you’ve had enough sweets and you know it’s time to put down the spoon and not even have that last bite.  I have that switch; I prefer savory to sweet, breakfast included.  Breakfast for dinner included.  Throw hash browns into any breakfast for dinner meal and I’m a happy camper!
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Eggs Florentine is the perfect recipe to add garden vegetables.  The eggs and milk are creamy and soft and the summer garden vegetables add a savory note that deepens the flavor of the dish.  After the first bite my husband and I looked at each other and sighed.  Ok, maybe I was doing the sighing, but both of us cleaned our plates–down to the last bite!

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  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Adapted from Weeknight Vegetarian


  • 3 thick slices of rustic bread, diced into course crumbs
  • thyme (fresh, 2 teaspoons finely chopped, dried, just a few shakes)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 5 cups mixed greens
  • 2 small to medium zucchini, quartered and sliced into little triangles
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup half and half


  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.  Spray two 4-cup baking dishes with cooking spray and place them on a timed baking sheet.
  2. Coat a large sauté pan with olive oil and heat to medium.  Add the bread crumbs, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste, and cook until the bread crumbs are browned and crisp, about 5 minutes.  Pour into a bowl and set aside.
  3. Add another 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat to medium-high heat.  Add the diced onion, garlic, and zucchini and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the mixed greens and salt and pepper to taste and toss with tongs until the greens are wilted, about 2-3 minutes.
  4. Evenly divide the vegetable mixture between the two baking dishes.  Crack two eggs into each dish, on top of the vegetable mixture.  Evenly divide the half and half among the dishes, pouring around the eggs, and evenly divide the tomatoes among the baking dishes.  Bake, rotating the baking dishes once, until the egg whites are set and the yolks are slightly runny, about 12 to 15 minutes.
  5. Before serving sprinkle the toasted bread crumbs over top, and salt and pepper, if needed.

Match Made in Heaven

I don’t know how your summer has been going, but our thermometer has barely dipped below 95F for two months straight.  When it’s so hot, you just don’t get very hungry for dinner.  We’ve been eating lots of smoothies, cucumbers + dip, bananas + nutella, or just nutella.  And running isn’t nearly as fun.  I can tell you there’s a huge difference between running in 100F and 90F.  I discovered yesterday 90F + a breeze is very comfortable running weather.

But when you get a new cookbook, the oven goes on.  And this meal is WORTH it.  This is summer on a plate–a beautiful, soft and fluffy Corn Pudding Soufflé topped with a sweet and flavorful stone fruit salsa.  And for good measure I threw some Citrus Cherry Irish Soda Bread on the side.  I kept waiting for a bite to be not as good as the first, but this meal will take you for an amazing ride on the SummerFlavorTrain.

Soda bread is pretty cool–it’s leavened with baking soda and buttermilk instead of yeast, so it’s like a big biscuit.  And we all know how much I love biscuits.  Just throw in some orange and grapefruit zest and dried cherries, and your biscuit is magically transformed into a citrus loaf from heaven.

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I hope you have a Farmers Market or fruit stand nearby–fresh corn, nectarines, and plums deserve to be in the summer sun as long as possible before ending up on your dinner plate!  Adding stone fruit to the salsa base makes it sweet and spicy.  You will have leftover salsa great for chip-dipping!

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I know this looks  like a normal pan of cornbread, but you will be surprised at how light and fluffy this soufflé is!

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This sweet, fresh summer corn pudding soufflé paired with the sweet, spicy stone fruit salsa is a match made in heaven!


  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium-ish
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Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone


  • 2 cups fresh corn
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 red onion, finely diced
  • 3 tablespoons masa
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 eggs, separated


  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.  Butter a 6-cup soufflé dish.  [I didn’t have a dish that size, and was nervous the soufflé would overflow in the oven, so I filled 2 small ramekins as well.  If you use a smaller dish, just watch them during the cook time!]
  2. Puree 1 1/2 cups of the corn with half and half, then pour through a fine sieve, pressing the liquid through with a rubber spatula into a bowl.  Set the bowl aside.
  3. Heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat, add the butter, red onion, salt and pepper to taste, and cook until the onion is translucent.  Stir in the flour, then whisk in the corn-milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is slightly thickened.
  4. Remove the mixture from the heat, and stir in the remaining corn, feta cheese, 1/2 salt and pepper to taste.  Warm the yolks with 1/2 cup of the mixture, then add the yolk mixture to the rest of the corn milk mixture, stirring until smooth.  The mixture will be thick, just make sure you make it as smooth as possible.
  5. Beat the egg whites until they hold firm peaks, then gently fold them into the corn milk egg yolk mixture.  Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and set in a large roasting pan with boiling water that comes halfway up the side of the baking dish.  Bake until a golden puffy soufflé crown rises over the top of the baking dish, about an hour [watch bake time in smaller baking dishes, check every 20 minutes until the soufflé is set and no longer wet-looking in the middle.]


  • Servings: males about 6 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 2 nectarines, diced
  • 2 plums, diced
  • 4 small tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Add all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir well.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Let sit and allow flavors to combine.
  2. Serve as a topping with the Corn Pudding Soufflé, and later with chips!


  • Servings: 1 loaf
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2-1 3/4 cups buttermilk
  • zest from 1 large grapefruit and 1 large orange


  1. Position rack in the center of the oven and heat to 450F.  If you are using a baking stone to bake the bread, place it in the oven to heat up.
  2. Sift all the dry ingredients and the zest into a large mixing bowl.  Make a well in the center and pour in 1 1/2 cups of the buttermilk.  Stir with one hand to incorporate the buttermilk.  If necessary, add more buttermilk 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough just barely comes together {Think biscuits–be very gentle and soft, not a lot of kneading, and it’ll stay moist and fluffy and not overworked}.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and pat into a round about 6-7 inches in diameter and 1 1/2-2 inches high in the center.  Invert the rounds the floured side is on top and transfer to the baking sheet or stone, covered with a sheet of parchment paper.
  4. With a thin, sharp knife, score an “x” on the dough about 1/4 inch deep, and extend from one side to the other.  Bake on the baking sheet for 15 minutes.  Lower the oven temperature to 400F and bake until the bread is browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, another 20-30 minutes.  Cool to room temperature on a rack before slicing and serving.

Apple Pumpkin Custard Pie with Pecan Streusel Topping

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{Recipe + Photos featured in LDS Living Sept/Oct 2016 Issue}

It’s a rule in my house that if something has fruit in it, you can eat it for breakfast.  And as this pie has a fruit (apple) AND a vegetable (pumpkin), it’s definitely a breakfast food, and as I have a “Breakfast For Dinner” category, I’d say this pie definitely makes the cut for the blog.

This has all the Thanksgiving favorites put together:  Apple Pie, a light and mousse-like Pumpkin pie, and a Pecan Streusel topping.  It’s perfect for breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, second lunch, dinner, second dinner…and anytime in between.  I am speaking from experience.





  • Servings: makes one 9-inch pie
  • Difficulty: medium to hard, for the three different components and time
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  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons very cold vegetable shortening
  • 5-8 tablespoons ice water


  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 15oz can pureed pumpkin (WITHOUT pumpkin pie spices)
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 3 cups peeled, diced apples (about 4 medium apples, Gala is my preferred–just sweet enough)

INGREDIENTS FOR THE TOPPING (Prepare at the end while the pie is baking)

  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup very finely chopped pecans
  • 2 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter


  1. Start with the Pie dough.  Place flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl and mix well.  Dice the cold butter and place in the flour mixture, as well as the shortening.  Cut in with a pastry cutter until the flour and fats result in pea-sized lumps.  Add 2-3 tablespoons of ice water to the dough and stir with a spoon until it starts to stick together.  Add 2-3 more tablespoons of ice water until most of the dough roughly forms into a ball.  You may need to add 2-3 more tablespoons of ice water until you get a mostly-formed ball of dough; don’t add more than 8 tablespoons of water, or your pie dough will be too dense and not flaky.  Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and knead just 4-5 times until the dough comes together.  Flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate at least 20-30 minutes.
  2. While the dough is resting in the fridge, prepare the pie filling.  Combine the first six ingredients (the flour through the cloves) in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Whisk the eggs, pumpkin, and greek yogurt together.  Add the flour spice mix and stir well until fully combined.  The mixture should be like a thin pudding in consistency.  Gently stir in the diced apples and set aside.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  5. Prepare the pie crust.  Roll out your pie dough on a well-floured surface, rotating and turning over as needed to make an evenly rolled out crust.  Add flour as needed so it doesn’t stick to your work surface.  Your dough should be about 1/4-inch thick, and about 2 inches wider in diameter than your pie pan.  Gently fold the dough in half, then in half again, so it looks like a triangle, and gently center the corner of your “pie dough triangle” in your pie pan.  Open the dough and gently fit the dough into the bottom and sides of your pan.  You want about 1 1/2 inches of “dough overhang” all the way around the perimeter of the pan; trim any excess dough.  Gently roll the overhang dough under itself and crimp in your desired style.
  6. Pour filling into the prepared pie shell.  Bake at 400 for 15 minutes.  Reduce the temperature to 350 and bake for another 30 minutes.
  7. While the pie is baking, prepare the topping.  Combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and chopped pecans.  Cut in the butter until pea-sized lumps form, similar to the pie dough.
  8. After the 30 minute bake, pull the pie out of the oven.  increase the oven temperature back to 400.  Sprinkle the pecan streusel topping evenly over the top of the pie and bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown on top.

Tomato Tart in a Little Green Dress

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How I ended up in Italy 3 weeks after graduating from high school is a long story.  The biggest part probably being the amazingly gracious family friends that agreed to host this lost girl who thought she would find herself amongst the cobblestoned streets and olive oil-scented air.  While the rest of my graduating class was living up the last summer of teenage “freedom” before starting college, I was working as a nanny for an Italian family in a small riverfront town.  While the mom of the family I worked for was not the typical Italian mama (no flour-dusted embrace, tomato-stained apron, hands waving “Mangia!  Mangia!” (Eat!) ), the upstairs neighbor was.  She made homemade gnocchi and pesto and tomato sauce, and brought it all down for the blonde American to taste.

I was probably the only person on earth, in Italy, who did not like olives, prosciutto, and pesto.  All that homemade green golden goodness just upstairs from me–and I took one taste of pesto and thought it was…thick.  I’m not sure how else to describe it!  It was a totally new flavor, and I simply did not like it.  Silly American.

My palate has grown up since that summer oh so many years ago, and I have to say pesto is now one of my most favorite ways to dress up any meal.  Seriously.  It’s like the little black dress of condiments…Little green dress.  You thought salmon wrapped in puff pastry was good?  Try spreading some pesto on the salmon before wrapping it up, and you can now charge your guests $10 more per plate.  A spoonful of pesto will make your Minestrone soup sing.

Put a little green dress on a tomato tart, and you will instantly become the belle of the ball.  I have brought this Tomato Pesto Tart to numerous get-togethers and brunches, and it has always disappeared within the first 60 seconds, and I have had to recite the recipe from memory to countless tomato-pesto-tart-wanna-be-makers.  And now, the secret is yours!

The key to a flaky whole wheat pie crust is keeping your refrigerated fats cold and your ice water ice cold.  When you use your hands to pull the pie dough together, you are going to knead it just enough, so the heat from your hands doesn’t heat up the butter and shortening.  You want to see “butter lumps” like this in your dough, then you know it’ll be extra flaky and crispy for your tart.  Gently fit it into your tart pan and get it ready to blind bake.  You can use a tart pan with the removable bottom, but I wanted to use this white porcelain one (mainly for aesthetic purposes).tomato pesto tart dough tomato pesto tart shell 2 tomato pesto tart shell 1

While your tart shell is blind baking, just whip up the rest of your ingredients–fresh garden tomatoes, your favorite pesto, fontina cheese, a little plain yogurt (or sour cream, or vegan mayonnaise) and then bake again until it all gets melty and your kitchen smells like a small corner of Italy.

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Serve with a little side salad and your dinner will be of the amazing-rave-to-all-your-neighbors sort.

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  • Servings: makes one 8-10 inch tart
  • Difficulty: easy if you've made pie crust before; medium if it's your first time making pie crust, as it adds another element to the recipe
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(This recipe will make a double pie crust; for the tart, I just cut it in half)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 12 tablespoons ( 1 1/2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening
  • 8-10 tablespoons ice water


  • 1 cup fontina cheese, finely shredded and divided in half (you can substitute mozzarella)
  • 3 medium tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt (or sour cream, or vegan mayonnaise)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons pesto
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2-3 fresh basil leaves, julienned


  1. Start with the pie crust.  Place flours, salt, and sugar in a large bowl and mix well.  Dice the cold butter and add with the shortening to the flour mix.  Cut in with a pastry cutter until pea-size.  Add 4 tablespoons of ice water to the dough and stir with a spoon until it starts to stick together.  Add 4-6 more tablespoons until most of the dough is a ball.  Dump out on a floured surface and knead just until the dough forms into a ball.  Flatten into a disc, wrap in wax paper, and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425.  Roll out the pie dough on a floured surface into a 12-inch circle.  Fit the dough into an 8-10 inch tart pan and prick the bottom with a fork.  Fit a large piece of parchment paper into the pie shell and fill with beans or pie weights.  Blind bake for 8-10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes and let rest on a paper towel to absorb extra liquid.  Stir together half of the shredded fontina cheese, yogurt, parmesan cheese, pesto and pepper.
  4. When the tart shell is done baking, sprinkle with the remaining shredded fontina cheese and let stand for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
  5. Arrange the tomato slices over the cheese. Spread the pesto yogurt cheese mixture over the tomato slices, leaving a 1″ border around the edge.  Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is golden.  Remove from the oven and let cool.  Sprinkle with fresh basil before serving.

Nothing Like a Waffle Celebration!

Waffles are pretty darn near the top of my list when it comes to thinking of celebration foods.    A good waffle is crunchy the outside, light and fluffy on the inside, buttery, and not too sweet, and definitely not dense.  This waffle celebration comes in the form of corn.  We are celebrating the last bits of farm-stand fresh corn you might have on hand, as I did.  We are celebrating the last bits of summer sun before diving head-first into the beauties of fall:  sweaters, crisp runs, and roasted winter squashes.

I wanted to make a vegetarian version of chicken and waffles, and use some fresh corn I had.  So.  I made basil cornbread waffles topped with white bean cassoulet and maple-glazed carrots and cauliflower.  Phew!  That’s a mouthful.  As are these waffles.  This meal is definitely not for the faint-hearted.  And definitely for the celebratory-hearted!

cornbread basil waffles bean cassoule

For the cornbread, I found this recipe a few years ago, and always keep a container of it in my cupboard, so I can throw together cornbread–or cornbread waffles–lickety-split.  It makes the moistest (moist-y-est?  most moist?)cornbread I’ve ever had!  I added the fresh corn cut from the cob and some fresh julienned basil, threw it on the waffle maker, and voila!

Cassoulet is traditionally a bean stew with meat, but I made mine without meat; just a lovely white bean stew.  I used dried white beans, and started from scratch, letting them soak for a full 24 hours.  You can let dried beans soak for just 8 hours, but I like to let them soak for a full 24, I think it yields a creamier bean.  After trimming the fresh corn from the cob, you can use the cobs with all that creamy corn “milk” to sweeten and thicken your bean stew.  This is what it’ll look like after simmering for a good 6-8 hours.  If using dry beans requires too much of your time and energy, feel free to use canned beans.  Look for the altered recipe suggestion in the recipe.

cornbread waffle beans

I also like using a flour/butter paste as a thickener.  This makes a luscious and silky stew without any lumps to be seen.  At this point, you could add some noodles and some fresh or canned tomatoes, some parsley, biscuits on the side, and you have a great bean stew dinner.  But we’re going to add another layer for our waffle celebration…cornbread waffle thickener

Pan-roasting carrots and cauliflower will make them sweet, and adding maple syrup will only sweeten the deal.  I used rainbow carrots for more color and fun, but if you have plain jane orange carrots in your fridge, use those.  A little lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon juice, and julienned basil on top, and your celebration is complete!

cornbread basil waffles bean cassoule


  • Servings: party-sized
  • Difficulty: this can be as easy or as difficult as you want to make it; canned or dried beans being a big part of that
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  • 3 cups of your favorite cornbread recipe
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned


  • 1 cup dried white beans, soaked for 24 hours (alternatively you can use 2 cans white beans, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 6-7 corn cobs (if you don’t have fresh corn, just omit the cobs)
  • 1 bunch cilantro, stems and leaves included
  • 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature, and 4 tablespoons flour; mix together as a paste
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • 3 carrots, peeled, cut in half, and then cut in large chunks
  • 1/2 cauliflower head, trimmed and cut in florets
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned
  • 1/4-1/2 cup maple syrup, depending on how sweet you want this topping to be
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon


  1. FOR DRIED BEANS:  Start with the cassoulet, as that will take time to simmer, and you can do the other things while the cassoulet is simmering.  If you are using dried beans, this will be your first step, as it’s an overnight step.  Soak them in four times the amount of beans you have.  So if you are doing 1 cup of beans, soak them in 4 cups of water, and let them sit at room temperature 8-24 hours.
  2. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a large pot.  On medium to medium-high heat, saute the onion, carrot, and celery with salt and pepper until the onion is soft.  Add the beans, corn cobs, cilantro, and about 10 cups of water.  Allow to come to a soft boil, then lower heat to low, and let simmer for the next 6-8 hours.  Stir occasionally, and you will add another 6-10 more cups of water throughout the  simmering process until the beans are cooked through.  You will know it’s done when the beans and water come together as a thin stew, instead of looking like just water with beans in it.  Remove the corn cobs and whisk in the butter/flour paste.  This will thicken the stew and you can let it rest, covered, while you are getting everything else ready.
  3. FOR CANNED BEANS:  Still do everything in step 2, but you will only add about 6-8 cups of water after sautéing the veggies and beans.  You can still add the corn cobs at this point, but chop about 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minus the stems (as you won’t have that long simmer time for the cilantro to cook down and sort of dissolve/melt into your stew).  Simmer the stew about 20 minutes, and add the flour/butter paste.  You may not need to add as much of the paste to thicken the stew.  Start with 2 tablespoons and add more if desired (just remember it’s equal parts flour/butter, mashed together).
  4. While the beans are simmering, mix together the waffle ingredients.  Use your favorite cornbread recipe and mix according to directions.  Add 3 cups fresh or frozen corn, and the 1/4 cup julienned basil.  Make your waffles.  I usually let mine rest on a cookie rack so they don’t get mushy while I’m making everything else.
  5. In a large saute pan, add enough olive oil to coat the pan and heat to medium-high.  Add the carrots and cauliflower and season with salt and pepper.  Let the veggies cook until there’s a little golden color on them, then add the 3 cups fresh or frozen corn and stir, sautéing for a few more minutes.  Lowering the heat to medium, add the basil and maple syrup and let simmer until you can smell the basil.  Turn off the heat and whisk in the butter, whisking until it all comes together as a sauce.
  6. You are definitely going to need some acid to cut all these rich flavors, so you can add both the lemon juice and zest at this point, right into the sauce, or add just the zest in the sauce, then serve lemon quarters on the side so everyone can squeeze their own fresh lemon overtop their waffles.  Also top with more fresh basil.

Poached Eggs on Toast

poached eggs on toast

My favorite breakfast when I was little was poached eggs on buttered toast.  Something about that salt-sprinkled cracked egg yolk running over crispy crunchy, sweet, buttered toast–warm, yummy, and comforting.  Whenever I hear those famous chef-folk talk about “umami”, it’s always a somewhat nebulous mystery to me–what do they mean by umami?!  Why do they use the word in the definition?!–that doesn’t help anyone understand what they are talking about when they are licking their lips after downing sea urchin, soy sauce, and other “ocean-y” tasting things.  Is umami like drinking the ocean, or what?!

And then I remembered the salty, homey, earthy taste of poached eggs on buttered toast–and I realized, in my opinion, that’s what umami is!  Not the ocean per se, but that otherwise indescribably melty, homey, hint of salt flavor.

And when you’re all grown up, it’s only right to put something green on that toast, right?!  Homemade toasted 10-grain whole wheat bread topped with smashed lime avocado, sautéed asparagus, fresh tomato slices, poached eggs, and grapefruit sections on the side.


  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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You can top your toast with any veggies you’d like–peas, broccoli, etc.; I had fresh tomatoes and asparagus on hand so that’s what I used.


  • bread of choice for toasting
  • 1-2 avocados (1 will be sufficient for 2 slices of toast)
  • 1-2 limes, juiced
  • 1 garden fresh tomato
  • 15-20 asparagus stalks
  • 1 egg per piece of toast


  1. Bring a pot of water to a slow simmer over medium heat.
  2. While water is heating, first, toast bread and butter slices.  Next, trim and sauté the asparagus stalks in olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. The water should be ready for poaching the eggs at this point.  It’s true what they say–add a splash of vinegar and it will keep the egg white tighter while poaching.  Gently drop the eggs in the water and watch so they don’t over-poach, maybe 3-4 minutes total.
  4. While eggs are poaching, shuck the avocados and smash in a bowl with the lime juice, add salt and pepper to taste.  Slice fresh tomatoes.
  5. Layer toast: lime avocado, sautéed asparagus, one slice of tomato, poached egg, sprinkle with salt and pepper.