Blueberry Pie Parfaits with White Chocolate Cream

Do you remember when you were younger and you would go blueberry picking?  I do.  Half the blueberries would be in the bucket and the other half in my mouth.  My shirt and fingers would be blue with the juice, but it was something I looked forward to every summer when they were ripe.  Now I just go to my back yard where I have two little starter bushes.  My only problem is I have to race the dog to see who gets there first!

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With blueberry season its natural to want to make blueberry pies.  I love a good pie but it is a little basic at times.  Imagine how pleased I was when I looked through a “Fine Cooking” magazine and discovered this blueberry pie parfait!  I had to give it a try…and taste!

This recipe had a white chocolate whipped cream and it was a welcome addition.  It lightened up the dessert without taking away from the blueberry pie flavor I expected and the white chocolate added a rich undertone.  The buttery almond-thyme streusel added more of a textural crunch than would a standard pie crust, which I really loved.  For me, this dessert was a huge winner on the flavor thermometer.

What I also liked about this is that if you’re tasting as you go along with the recipe, you can change it up to make it more to your personal liking.  A little more white chocolate in the whipped cream,  an extra squeeze of lemon into the blueberry or another shake of cinnamon into the streusel.

I’ve made these several times since my discovery of the recipe and it always gets rave reviews.  A few nights ago, we had been invited over to a friend’s home for dinner and I wanted to bring this but wasn’t sure about the trip.   It was easily solved when I used jelly canning jars, topped them with a lid and no spill! And I got extra points for presentation.

So enjoy your summer and bring some tasty fun to your family and friends.  They will love you for it!

Summer

This weekend is Memorial Day Weekend and guess what comes after that?  You’re right.  SUMMER..  Sweet, sticky, hot, and sunny summer.  This is the time of year that when I get something to drink, I want it cold and sparkly.  I don’t know why but the bubbles in my drink just makes me feel a little less hot!

I have to say that typically if I want a drink, I choose wine.  A dark red wine that is full of body.  Cabernet is my drink of choice for the most part.  However, it is a bit heavy for the summer.  I had to come up with something that was relaxing like my Cabernet, but refreshing and had a little sparkle to it.

What could be better than White Sangria?  I know there are many versions and we all think our version is the best.  Mine really is!  It’s not too sweet, and not too tart.  It’s light and refreshing,  fruity and fun.

It’s what summer is all about.

Chicken Bang Bang

It all started with a little fillo cup appetizer filled with chicken, scallions and a kicking peanut sauce.  I’ve made these many times and from what I’ve heard,  always gotten great reviews.  I think it’s because the flavor combination is crunchy, creamy and spicy all in the same bite

The other day, my friend Karen and I were discussing lunch ideas for a couple of things she was working on and my little appetizer cup came up. She mentioned that it was too bad that it wasn’t a meal.

That made me think.

I thought it was a great idea.

It can now be considered an entrée.

And that is one reason I love cooking and you should not be afraid of it.  You can take an idea from one little thing and turn it into something that is completely different and yet, still so incredibly good.  All it takes is a thought, a conversation or a suggestion and you can run with it and make it your own. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t turn out well.  Make it again or change it.  It’s all about trying new things.

You could even change this recipe.  Try shrimp with it, thicker noodles, different vegetables or spices to increase the heat a little…whatever you like to make it your own.  Just don’t be afraid.

Send me pictures and let me know what you did.  I would love to see the ideas that you come up with!

Happy eating!

 

 

 

Lobster Linguine with Lemon and Basil

On most weekends, sitting over breakfast, my husband and I look at each other and ask what we’re going to have for dinner.  It was no different this past Mother’s Day Sunday.  My children were not here to cook for me, and I didn’t want to go out for dinner.  My only other options were to have my husband cook dinner which probably would have consisted of steak on the grill, or to cook it myself.  I obviously decided to cook it myself.

The nice part of cooking for yourself on Mother’s Day is that you get to choose what you want.  And my husband got to do the shopping.  I wish everyday was like that!  Anyway…it was cold for May 12th so we were thinking of something comforting, but I really wanted lobster.  I could have done Lobster Mac and Cheese, because let’s face it…that is the ultimate of comfort foods.  However, we were trying to go a little healthier so it was crossed off my list of choices.

And then it hit me.  I had seen a recipe for a shrimp and pasta recipe that had previously caught my eye.  I could adapt it and use the lobster.  And so I did with some minor experimental changes.

And it was good.

You can use shrimp if you prefer but I think the lobster added a bit more richness to it.   You can also cut out the butter and wine to make it even more healthy if you choose.  This is one of those recipes you can add and subtract to make it your own.  Experiment a little,  I think this is one of those dishes that will always come out tasting yummy.

So the next time it looks like you might have to cook your own celebration dinner…..embrace it.  You’ll be glad you did!

Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day weekend, and there is no better time to reminisce about my mom and why I always smile when I think of her.  I grew up during a time when she thought you had to cook the meat until it was shoe leather and you ate all of your vegetables out of a can.  Sorry Mom, but it’s amazing that I grew up loving food the way I do.

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My two younger brothers and I grew up without much money, but until I was older I never realized that we didn’t have anything because my mom always made us feel that we had everything.  We were recently talking about how I loved our Sunday night “picnics”.  Mom would put papers on the floor and we would have sandwiches or burgers in front of the TV while watching Walt Disney.  That would be the one night we could have a coke, so we thought of it as a big treat.  She told me they just did that because sandwiches were cheaper and she didn’t want us to think we didn’t have money for dinner.

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If someone asked me what foods were my favorite growing up that Mom made, I can name them on one hand. If you asked me if I would still eat them, the answer would be a resounding yes!  Fried chicken (that was actually baked in the oven), macaroni and cheese, onion dip and her pies.  I still love pie and I still love her onion dip.  My children love it so much we have to make a double batch because they will eat the entire bowl.

Birthdays were always amazing.  She made me feel as though I was the only one to ever have a birthday.  I would pull back my chair to sit down and it would be filled with wrapped packages.  The day was always full of surprises, love and the special cake she would make.   My favorite was the doll cake.  You know the one, the doll is in the middle and she has a cake “skirt”.  Mine would always have a frosting hat too, so I guess I was really special!

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No matter what was going on, she was always there for me.  From wearing the tissue corsage I made her in Kindergarten, going to all my plays and color guard events, kissing me goodby when I left for school and holding my hand and heart when I went through my divorce,  she was always the one I could count on.

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She is turning 80 in July.  It wasn’t an easy life, but it’s been a good one.  She was a devoted wife who adored my dad for fifty-five years, as he adored her.  She is a great mom, a friend and a caring Nana to my children.  There is no way I can ever repay her for everything, but I try everyday.  I try to be the person she wanted me to grow up and be.  I want to be as giving, as kind and as loving as she is.

I want to make her onion dip.

I love you Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Butter Poached Lobster

One of my favorite memories was when we went to New Hampshire on vacation and my dad would take us to Rye Beach.  There was a restaurant that had a tree growing up through the inside of it and my dad would take us over to the big tank filled with lobsters and say “pick out the one you want”.   That began my love affair with lobster.

For awhile he drove trucks and sometimes he would drive up to New England for a delivery.  We always knew when he came home, my grandmother and my aunt would be over for dinner and there would be a cooler full of lobsters.  I could crack the shell and have my lobster sitting in butter before my grandmother had it on her plate.  We never had a lot growing up…..but we ate lobsters from time to time.

I’ve always steamed or boiled my lobster, just like my dad taught me.  I heard about butter poaching but really hadn’t thought about it.  One night, my husband had steak for dinner and I had a couple of small lobster tails so I thought I would give it a try, just to see what all the fuss was about.  Well, I have to say it was everything that everyone had said it would be.  Buttery, sweet, tender and absolutely delicious.  I vowed right there I would never steam lobster again.

This dish does look fancy but don’t be intimidated.  This will elicit a bit “wow!” if you want to impress someone but you don’t need to wait for a special occasion.  You can make it any time you want.

This recipe calls for a lot of butter.  I used a full pound of butter and honestly I probably could have added more…..but I didn’t want to get crazy.  I did a butter emulsion, which means that the butterfat and the milk solids are bound together and don’t separate as long as you keep the temperature under 190 degrees F.  I used a candy thermometer to regulate the temperature but you don’t have to go to this level if you don’t want to.  You could probably poach the meat in plain melted butter and get the same yummy results.

 

“Dishing Up Virginia”

A very dear friend of mine, Patrick Evans-Hylton recently celebrated the release of his new cookbook “DISHING UP VIRGINIA” at the Mariners’ Museum.  As a “foodie” there was nothing that would have stopped me from going.  The event was much more than I expected. It was elegant and casual at the same time, filled with his friends, fans and area chefs touting his recipes through their interpretations of yummy offerings for us to try.

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Once I had a chance to sit down and actually look through the book, I was amazed at the abundance of information and beautiful photography gracing the pages.  Not only are there recipes that are indicative of Virginia, but it is rich in history and stories and if I didn’t live here I would have enjoyed the book just as a tourist would when visiting a place of interest.

Every page I turned made me want to try the recipe or visit a place in Virginia I had not yet gone to.  The history behind each recipe was informative and entertaining at the same time.  This is a cookbook that I would actually sit down and read from cover to cover, just for the pure pleasure of reading.  The foodie side of me will want to make almost every recipe in the book, but if you aren’t into cooking don’t let that stop you from buying the book.

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If you are a Virginian, a transplant, someone who loves to cook or does not please go out and treat yourself to “DISHING UP VIRGINIA”.  You will fall in love with Virginia and it’s history all over again, just like I did.  And you’ll love trying the recipes too!  YUM.

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