A Few of My Favorite Things


I just recently had a head shot done with a fabulous photographer who owns Fresh Look Photography.   One thing that is not my favorite is me in a photograph but she told me before I came, to think about some of my favorite things that represented me both personally and professionally.  It really made me think because as humans I think we just get used to what we do every day but really don’t think about what of those things that actually make us happy.  Happily I am here to tell you what they are!

My Wooden Spoon.

It’s not an old spoon, but for some reason it reminds me of one that is.  It’s a Williams Sonoma spoon I sort of got for free because of a gift card.  At first it didn’t do much for me but now it’s the perfect spoon.  I grab it every time I have to stir.  I love the feel of the wood and the smell of the seasoning and time that has gone into it.  

My Chef’s Knife.

Every real cook or chef has one.   It’s not always the same brand, or the same size or weight.  It’s always sharp.  I use it even when it’s not the right knife to use.  It’s big and makes me feel powerful in the kitchen when I’m ready to take on a vegetable or onion or something equally choppable.  (I know that’s not a real word, but I just made it one).   My knife is my shadow and best friends with my wooden spoon.  It’s like we’re all a team.

My Cooking Magazines.

I have several I love to read.  They come every month and I look through them, tear our recipes and if I don’t have time to do that they pile up waiting for me.  It’s like a vacation I look forward to.  My very favorite is Fine Cooking.  It only comes every other month, which at times makes it the longest two months ever.  It’s perfect for the new cook or the more experienced.  Always different ways to use the same ingredients, directions that are easy to follow, favorite products (of which I have ordered from time to time) and great photographs.  My go to.  My obsession.  My “I wish I could be a part of this magazine” magazine.  Love it, and you would too.

Food.

I love food.  I love eating it, cooking it, discovering it.  My waistline doesn’t love it so much but for me it’s pure joy.  It’s how people come together.  It can be creative, beautiful, comfortable and delicious all at the same time.  Most of all, I love finger foods.  Creating beautiful little minis of bigger things we all love.  One or two bites (my waistline is all in favor) and you can be satisfied, but your palate tingles because it knows there are many more options to try.  I mean if you don’t like food, you really can’t be my friend.  

Prosecco.

Yes!  I love wine, water and juices, but Prosecco and I have a relationship.  Almost like a significant other but better because it doesn’t talk back.  I love the refreshing sparkle of the bubbles and the crispness it has, like a beautiful fall day.  Dry is better than sweet and a full bottle is better than an empty one.  Definitely one of my favorite things.

And finally..  bacon.  And Bourbon.  Enough said.

Have you ever thought about it?  What are your favorite things?  I’d love to hear what they are!

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!

Blueberry Pie Parfaits with White Chocolate Cream

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 6

Ingredients

FOR THE STREUSEL:

  • 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon rolled oats (not instant or quick-cooking)
  • 6 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup scant slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

FOR THE CREAM:

  • 4 1/2 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon grated and finely chopped lemon zest plus 1/2 teaspoon juice (from 1 medium lemon)
  • Pinch kosher salt

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 4 cups fresh blueberries
  • 6 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Instructions

MAKE THE STREUSEL:

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325 degrees F.

  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, oats, butter, almonds, sugars, thyme, and salt on medium speed until the ingredients are evenly dispersed and some of the pieces of streusel are the size of hazelnuts. Transfer the streusel to a large rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring every 5 minutes to 6 minutes, until light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let the streusel cool completely before using.

MAKE THE CREAM:

  1. Put 3 ounces of the white chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring 1/2 cup of the cream and the lemon zest to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; pour over the chocolate. Let sit for a few minutes, then whisk until smooth. Stir in the lemon juice and salt, cover the bowl tightly, and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

  2. Add the remaining 1/2 cup cream to the chilled mixture and beat with an electric hand mixer on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use.

MAKE THE FILLING:

  1. Put the blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt in a 12-inch heavy-duty skillet over medium heat. Using a potato masher or a silicone spatula, break up some of the blueberries to release their juice and cook, stirring often, until the mixture begins to boil, about 5 minutes. Once the mixture comes to a boil, stir constantly, reducing the heat to maintain a steady simmer, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter and lemon juice until melted. Let the filling cool until warm.

ASSEMBLE THE PARFAITS:

  1. Put 1 tablespoon of the streusel in the bottom of each of six 10 ounce parfait glasses. Divide the warm filling among them and scatter each with about 2 tablespoons streusel. Divide the remaining filling among the glasses and top with the remaining streusel. Dollop each with the white chocolate cream, sprinkle with the remaining chopped white chocolate and serve.

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