Easy Rustic Cherry Blueberry Pastry-Style Cobbler

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(Becky, the Mama.)  I just returned from bringing this simple cobbler to my pastor Hugh Halter’s new ranch house for a pot luck lunch on the back porch.  It is mid-January but I do believe God decided to borrow a perfect Spring Day from April, and drop it on us today as an early treat.   Hugh is also a passionate author and storyteller (his latest book, Flesh,just released this week), and we share a mutual love of cooking and experimenting in the kitchen.  Today he made a yummy creamy lentil soup and a delicious quinoa salad with cranberries, diced sweet potatoes and pears with a light vinaigrette.  What can I say? The man knows his way around the Bible, a horse barn and the kitchen.

So it was no small compliment when he strode out to the back porch and hollered out, “Becky Johnson! Did you make that cobbler?”

“I did,” I said.

“Well, it just changed my life. That might be the best dessert I’ve ever tasted.”

I thought about calling this “Change Your Life Cobbler,” but decided that might be over-promising a wee bit.  But I will tell you that there are few desserts you can make that will garner as many kudos, for as little trouble to make,  as this recipe.  It is one of my standard throw-together-in-a-hurry desserts for a crowd.

Using frozen fruit and Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts, you can assemble this dish in about five minutes.  It does take about 45 minutes to an hour to cook, however.  It’s nice to pop in the oven if you are having company for dinner,  while you prepare the rest of the meal.  Or if you are having folks over  for dessert only, pop it in the oven then you can go take a nice bath and get yourself ready for their arrival.   A  little Blue Bell vanilla ice cream on top never hurt anybody.  Some of the crust may sink a little into the berries as it cooks.  No worries as I think this  makes the cobbler tastes even better, with the pastry having different textures. You want it look rustic and free-formed,  like a farmer’s wife just made it.

Try this cobbler with other combinations of fruit,  fresh or frozen.  Peaches, Apples, Rhubarb, and Raspberries would also be delicious. If you like you can add a little cinnamon or nutmeg, vanilla or almond flavoring for variety.

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Easy Rustic Cherry Blueberry Pastry-Style Cobbler

4 cups frozen blueberries (you may also use fresh if in season and on sale)

2 1/2  cups frozen dark sweet pitted cherries

1 1/2 cups sugar (plus 2 more T. for sprinkling on top later)

1/2 c. flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

Juice of one fresh lemon

2 T. butter

2 Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts, unrolled

Directions:

Preheat Oven to 375 degrees.

Put the fruit in the biggest bowl you have (can be frozen or thawed at this point).  Toss with sugar, flour, salt and lemon juice.  Pour into a lightly greased, large,  oblong Pyrex pan.

Take small pinches of the butter and dot it all over the top of the fruit.

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Place one pie crust at the end of the pan, and lightly tuck it in to place. Tear the other pie crust in pieces to fit the oblong plan as best you can,  and pinch any seams together, free form, like a patchwork quilt. I like to make an edge and flute it a little bit, but do not worry about making it perfect.  Using a sharp paring knife, cut a few designs in the pastry to allow the juice to steam through.   Sprinkle the top top of the pastry with 2 T. sugar.

cobbler 002

Bake for 1 hour if the fruit is frozen,  for about 45 minutes if thawed.  You want the pastry to be very golden and juice to be thickened.  Let it sit at least 15 to 30 minutes before serving.   Is wonderful plain or with a bit of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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Double Chocolate Berry Nut Muffins

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(Becky, the Mama.)

Food memoirist Alyssa Shelasky described her mother as being a strict health-nut (who’d never eat anything that would “tick off Michael Pollan”), before being green and organic was cool. Alyssa’s school lunches were healthy leftovers like chicken salad and fruit, with notes of hand-written inspiration tucked into the brown bag. Nary a Dorito or Slim Jim in site.  And yet, even this Whole Foods Mama had a daily vice.  Every morning alongside with her cup of milky white tea, she ate a chocolate packaged snack cake filled with goopy marshmallow cream. Yes, she ate a Devil Dog.

In her defense she ate one and only one.  Every single day.  For  sixty years.  Without guilt.

Later in the day, Alyssa’s mom would  walk to the Farmer’s Market, loaded down with fresh veggies, enjoying every antioxidant-filled bite.

Now that Hostess has gone out of business, a box of Devil Dogs can be found on the internet for about $35.00 a box.  “Freshness guaranteed.”   (Presumably because they are so rich in chemicals, they are guaranteed to last forever.)

Though I draw the line at Twinkies and Devil Dogs for breakfast (even if I could afford such luxuries), I’m all in favor of making Chocolate a breakfast food.

To that end, I offer you this recipe for  Double Chocolate Berry Nut Muffins.  If I’d had blueberries or dark cherries on hand, I would have used those in this muffin. What I did have on hand was strawberries and kiwis, so improviser that I am… into the bowl they went. I’ve never let lack of correct ingredients stop me from whipping up a recipe.  I once made a carrot cake without any carrots, subbing zucchini and crushed pineapple.  It was delicious.

The result of my experiment was a just-right sweet muffin made moist from the coconut oil, Greek yogurt and fruit, chocolaty from cocoa and chocolate chips, with a nice crunch from chopped pecans.  I used white whole wheat flour  (which has the same nutritional value as whole wheat flour, but is made from white instead of red wheat);  and organic unprocessed sugar to ease my conscience even more.

So, okay, I’m not ready to declare these chocolate muffins a “health food.”  But hey, they are no Devil Dogs.

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Double Chocolate Berry Muffins

Makes 2 dozen regular muffins, and one pan of miniature muffins

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Ingredients

2 ¼ c whole wheat white flour ( I used King Arthur brand)

1 ¼ c.  organic sugar

½ c. unsweetened cocoa powder (if you like extra dark chocolate use dark chocolate cocoa)

2 t. baking power

1 t. baking soda

¾ t. salt

1 cup Greek Yogurt, plain

½ cup milk or almond milk

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted if it is solidified

2 eggs

1 t. vanilla or almond extract

1 cup berries (blueberries don’t need chopped, but strawberries, cherries, raspberries or blackberries will need to be diced into about ¼ inch pieces.)

1 cup chocolate chips

½ c. to 1 c. chopped nuts

Directions

Sift and stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a separate large bowl, and make a well in the center; set aside.

Whisk together the yogurt, milk, coconut oil, eggs, and almond or vanilla extract in a bowl until evenly blended. Pour the yogurt mixture into the well, then stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Fold in the berries, nuts, and chocolate chips. Spoon into prepared muffin cups, filling half full. (I used cupcake liners.)

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Bake until a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Try with a little smear of Nutella;  or a slice of banana and peanut butter, or a spoon of cherry or strawberry preserves.  Heaven….

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The Title:Double Chocolate Berry Muffins
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This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook


Blueberry Pie with a Lemon Twist

Becky’s Blueberry Pie with a Lemon Twist

(Becky, the Butter Lovin’ Mama)

“A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.”  Tenneva Jordan

I’ve always loved the above quote with its sentimental statement about the selfless love of mothers.  But, to be perfectly honest, I am the type of mother who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly bakes another pie so she can have at least two pieces for herself.

I’m not proud of this, but it is sadly true.  In fact, I did it yesterday.

Let me explain. I made a beautiful blueberry pie, Greg’s favorite, for Father’s Day dinner.  I honestly thought the family had eaten the whole thing.

But yesterday while my husband was away on errands, I woke from a nap feeling suddenly famished. Scrounging around in the fridge I discovered – a ha! – one leftover piece of blueberry pie!  I immediately said to myself, “Now, that is Greg’s favorite pie.  Don’t you want to save that one last piece for your him?”  But my Self completely ignored “I” and ate the pie.  It was delicious.

Then the guilt set in. Thankfully, I had exactly four cups of blueberries left, and an extra two rolls of Pillsbury pie crust.  Before Greg returned, a new pie was in the oven and I looked like a culinary hero, making him TWO pies in two days. That is, until he pressed the issue asking, “So there wasn’t even a single slice of pie leftover from Father’s day, eh?”  I started to lie, but could not do it.  I ‘fessed up, and he gave me a pious “just as I thought” look before taking a bite of warm blueberries wrapped in flaky pastry.

Alas, we humans like to think we are better people than we are.  But I would not trust even the likes of Mother Teresa to avoid the temptation of the last piece of this sumptuous blueberry pie with just the right twist of lemon. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and I doubt even the Pope could resist.

Let me just add this: if you have to make a pie in a hurry to assuage any sort of guilt, I know of no pie as fast and easy to throw together as blueberry pie.  No fruit to cut, you just toss those berries in a bowl, add a few ingredients, dump it into the crust.  Feel free to make your own crust, but if you only have a few minutes to cover your tracks, I’d reach for the Pillsbury refrigerated versions!

Becky’s Blueberry Pie with a Lemon Twist

Serves Six

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

4 c. fresh blueberries  (frozen will work as well but fresh tastes better to me if they are in season, as they are right now)
1 1/4 c. sugar

1 T. fresh lemon juice

1 t. fresh lemon zest

1/4 t. salt

4 T. cornstarch

1 T. butter, cut in tiny pieces

Two unbaked pie crusts

Directions:

In a large bowl, gently toss the blueberries with the next five ingredients until thoroughly mixed.  Line a 9 inch Pyrex pie pan (I prefer the simple Pyrex pans with about 1/2 inch lip) with bottom unbaked pastry shell.  Fill with blueberry mixture.  Dot with butter. Top with other pie crust, fluting the edges. Using a sharp paring knife cut a pattern.  I always like flowers!

Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown.  If edges begin to brown before pie is cooked, carefully and lightly crimp strips of aluminum foil around edges to keep it from getting too dark.  I double test for “done-ness” by sticking a fork into an open slit.  If it comes out coated, as if with syrup, it is probably ready.  If the fork emerges dripping thin juice, it probably needs a few more minutes for the cornstarch and blueberry juice to combine and thicken.
Variation: If you are making a deep dish pie, add another cup of blueberries, another 1/4 cup sugar and another tablespoon cornstarch. You can substitute a teaspoon of cinnamon or vanilla for the lemon if you prefer. Vegans will want to use a pie crust that does not use lard or butter.

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The Title: Blueberry Pie with a Lemon Twist
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© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved



White Tea Fruit Slushies: My New Summer “Coffee”

Becky’s White Tea Fruit Slushy

Nobody loves the first sip of morning coffee like I do! In fact, I used to use this moment as an inspirational speech illustration on how to capture “Eden moments” in our lives.

Obviously we aren’t living in Eden anymore, but that does not mean we don’t get glimpses of Eden.   “The way we catch ‘Eden moments’,” I would say, “is the same way we acknowledge that first sip of good coffee in the morning.  Many of us audibly say, ‘Ahh, that’s good.’  The same way God paused and said, ‘It is good’ after every phase of creation. We live more meaningful lives by noticing small blessings and pausing, even a second, to say, ‘Ah, that’s good.’ String enough of these small moments of gratitude together and you will find yourself happier.”

I still believe this is true.  But this week,  I had my favorite illustration taken from me!  Due to a spike in blood pressure, I’m cutting out foods that may raise BP, and adding in foods that may lower it. One of the toughest things to give up was that sacred, holy, blessed… Cup o’ Morning Joe.

Since I, like most people, am more motivated by pleasure than I want to admit, I had to find a substitute morning beverage that would be worth getting out of bed for.   I’ve experimented with several alternatives. There was a canned non-caffeinated health/energy drink.  It tastes like chilled, diluted cough syrup.  No go.

I tried various mugs of green and white teas, hot, with honey. They were nice, but hardly exciting enough to compel me to crawl from under the sheets.

Not a fan of de-caf coffee.

Then it hit me.  Our cute local tea shop offers “tea slushies” during the summer months.  I love them but they are a bit too sweet, full of sugar.  I also need to add more berries and fruit in my diet, so I wondered about making a white tea berry slushy.  A little of this, and a pinch of that went into the blender and in no time, out came The Winner.  (Insert angel voices singing here.)   Meet my new morning beverage of choice.  So perfect for back porch sitting and sipping, that I often enjoy an afternoon tea slushy, too.

You’ll find me under the shade tree with my new icey-brew tomorrow, savoring a first sip and saying,   “Ahh.. that is good.”

P.S. I like both green and white teas, but have found white tea has a milder flavor and even more nutritional benefits.  White tea has been shown to fight cancer, help with weight loss, improve and protect the skin and the heart in a myriad of ways among many other benefits.  I often mix it with decaf black tea and sip on this all day.  Here’s an informative link: White Tea Information.

Becky's White Tea Fruit Slushy

Becky’s White Tea Fruit Slushy

Serves 2 large glasses, or 4 “wine” glasses

Ingredients

2 cups brewed white or green  tea, cooled  (made from 2 to 4 tea bags, depending on how strong you like it)

10 ounces (or a little over 1 cup) frozen berries, any kind

1/4 cup agave nectar or a tad of stevia or other sweetener of your choice

1/2 cup ice

Optional: citrus slices for garnish/flavor

Directions

Put all ingredients into a blender and whirl until slushy.  Serve immediately, garnishing with a slice of lime, lemon or orange if desired.

Variations: Try other teas. (A visit to a nice tea shop is like a visit to a cool wine bar these days!) Substitute other frozen fruits such as peaches, cherries, mangos or kiwis.   Even veggies like celery and cucumber would be refreshing.

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Blueberry Raspberry Oat Nut Bars

blueberry raspberry bars 002(Becky, the Mama.) This week I had a run of crazy mistakes that defy even my questionable logic.  One day began by sending  my husband’s business blog post, unedited, to hundreds of subscribers on the wrong day. From there it seemed every hour was punctuated by a wrong move, a major mess or spill in the kitchen, an embarrassing misspelling on social media, or a relational faux pas.

I was determined to make the next day mistake-free, and sailed through until about 3:00 pm, when I darted into a store and ran into a friend. Her face was full of compassion as she hugged me.  “I read about all your latest mishaps on Facebook, bless your heart.”

I smiled and said, “Yes, but I’m having a much better day. No mistakes yet!”

She pointed to my abdomen and said, “So that big white sticker that says, ‘Citrus juicer, $5.00’ on your stomach, is that on purpose?”

Oh well, there’s “always tomorrow.”

This morning I woke feeling chipper, and posted a status on Facebook that described my excitement about going to my friend Sue’s house to celebrate her birthday with some of her good home cooking.  I decided to whip up my favorite quick and easy berry bars to bring for dessert. They are a “just right” treat; not too sweet. Perfect under ice cream after dinner, but wonderful with a glass of milk for breakfast as well.

As we were enjoying our meal around their table (fabulous tenderloin steak, fresh corn on cob, and pesto pasta), Sue’s husband Jason grinned and asked, “Should we tell her now?”

“Tell me what?” I asked.

“Oh, Jason,” Sue said. “I wasn’t going to say anything.  Becky had a hard week.”

“What?” I repeated.

Jason laughed.  “Sue’s birthday is next week.  We’d actually invited you to come for dinner next Sunday! But when Sue saw your status update, we thought, ‘Let’s just go with it.  We’re free tonight, anyway.’”

I left half a pan of these blueberry  raspberry bars with Jason and Sue, and hope it will remind them of how much I love them for being so patient and kind to their absentminded friend.

P.S. My daughter Rachel just wrote, “When my mom came to stay with me after Jackson was born, she made me these blueberry raspberry bars. I was a ravenous new nursing mom and let me just say, these did not last very long! They are especially delicious in the middle of the night with a glass of almond milk. Sigh…I miss those early nursing days when I could eat constantly and still lose weight!”

Blueberry Raspberry Bars

Becky’s Blueberry Raspberry Oat Nut Bars

Ingredients

Serves 12-15, depending on how big you cut the bars.
1 c. butter (vegans can substitute coconut oil or Earth Balance butter or a mixture of both)
1 c. brown sugar
1 3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. oatmeal
1/2 c. chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, whatever nut you like)
1 c. fresh or frozen blueberries

1 c. fresh or frozen raspberries

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Dump the first four ingredients into the food processor and pulse until crumbly. Add the oatmeal and nuts,  process just until blended. (You can also do this with a mixer or use clean hands for the job.)  Press half of the mixture into a greased 9×13 inch pan: spread blueberries over the mixture and sprinkle with the remaining oatmeal mixture. (Like a crumb topping.) Bake about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 10 minutes before cutting into bars.

If you have any leftover (and this is a big IF),  I have found they stay freshest when wrapped well and refrigerated, then nuke the portion you want to eat for  few seconds in microwave.

Try these with other fruits (raspberries, strawberries, cherries, pineapple, apples, rhubarb… or combos thereof).

Also works well with other flours (gluten free) and grains. Can sub wheat germ or other flakey grains for some of the oats to upsize or vary the nutritional value.  You can use date sugar instead of brown sugar for sweetening, and keep it sugar free.

I love for people to find a basic recipe-method that works, then get creative with it, to make it their own.  This is a great recipe to “play with,” because it is hard to mess up! (Even for me.)

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Blueberry Oat Nut Bars
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/03/19/blueberry-oat-nut-bars/
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved


Refreshing “Lemon Drop” Berries, Walnut & Greens Salad

Not long ago, I enthusiastically wound up my Cuisinart salad spinner, a gift from my efficient salad-loving daughter. What I did not do was read the instructions, which I’m now guessing said something like, “Wait until the inner whirling colander comes to a complete halt before removing the lid.” If you remove the lid early in the spinning process, I can testify that you will immediately give your entire kitchen, including ceiling and floor, a certain lettuce-based Rain Forest look. However, if you use it correctly, a salad spinner is quite the nifty item to dry the lettuce mix for this recipe below, one of my favorite salads.

The “dressing” is mixed as you toss the salad, no need for a separate bowl.

Becky’s
Refreshing “Lemon Drop” Berries, Walnut & Greens Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 to 6 cups of early spring mix lettuce (rinsed, patted, or spun dry)
½ c. toasted walnuts or pecans

1/2 c. fresh blueberries
1/2 c. sliced fresh strawberries
Juice of one small lemon or ½ large lemon
Olive oil (about 2 T. or to taste)
Sea salt (to taste)
Organic sugar (to taste)
(Blue cheese , feta, goat cheese or  Gorgonzola crumbles can also be added if you want a heartier salad.)

Directions

In a large salad bowl place the greens, berries and toasted nuts. Squeeze juice of one small lemon over all. Toss. Sprinkle the leaves with sea salt and sugar to taste.  (Hint from professional chefs: salad always tastes better and you use less dressing if you lightly salt the greens just before serving.) Toss. Finally squiggle about 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil. (My good friend Lucille gave me a bottle of Meyer Lemon Olive Oil featured in the picture- so good in this recipe!) Toss gently again. This is a taste-as-you-go salad. The dressing should taste sweet & sour — like lemonade or “lemon drops” — with just enough salt and olive oil to make it savory.

This salad is a light go-to side dish that goes especially well with heavier main dishes. Once you get the method down, it is also one of the fastest, easiest salads you can throw together – and everyone loves it!  Try using sliced green or red apples or sliced peaches in place place of berries, for a salad that refreshes in all seasons.

I made a huge version of this salad on a big oval platter fothe holiday. Not a drop of salad left, and it was so beautiful. Looked like a Spring garden! Added some goat cheese to this version. Yum!

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Refreshing “Lemon Drop” Berries, Walnut & Greens Salad
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.wordpress.com/2012/03/16/refreshing-lemon-drop-apple-walnut-greens-salad/
© Copyright 2012 – All Rights Reserved