Blueberry Lemon Pie with Stuffed Crust

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Blueberry and lemon are definitely fruity BFFs. I love blueberries, but sometimes they are too sweet for me. Lemon is the perfect balance to that sweetness. Like all good best friends, these fruits compliment and bring out the best in each other, and the praline stuffed crust adds a lovely, crunchy surprise! Served chilled, this pie is the perfect, refreshing antidote for the hot days of early summer.

We use fresh berries for this, but you can substitute frozen berries, just add a few minutes to the cooking time–no need to defrost them. I like turbinado (raw) sugar for the crust filling–it’s richer flavor is terrific with the pecans. But, if you have regular, granulated sugar, you can use that instead.

Enjoy berry season! It is short and sweet, but always very tasty!

Stuffed Crust Blueberry Lemon Pie

  • 2 pie crusts from your favorite recipe
  • 1/4 cup organic, raw turbinado sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup organic butter, melted
  • 1 cup toasted pecan halves
  • 3 cups organic or pesticide-free blueberries
  • Lemon juice and zest from 1 organic lemon
  • 2 teaspoons quick cooking tapioca
  • 2 tablespoons organic cane sugar
  • 8 ounces lemon curd
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Add turbinado sugar, pecans, and cinnamon to the bowl of a food processor. Blend until finely textured, about 30 seconds. Set aside.
  3. Roll first pie crust into a 9″ pie pan, making sure crust connects with the sides. Brush entire crust with the melted butter.
  4. Add remaining melted butter to the sugar mixture and blend well. Cover bottom of the crust with the cinnamon/pecan mixture.
  5. Top with the second crust, pressing crust down to make contact with the cinnamon/pecan mixture and the sides of the first crust. Crimp edges and trim extra crust.
  6. Use a paring knife, cut small slits in the crust (this will allow steam to escape when baking).
  7. Bake crust for 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and cool for 1 hour.
  8. When crust is cool, combine 1 cup of the berries, lemon zest, juice, tapioca and cane sugar in a saucepan. Heat over medium. Mash berries well and bring to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes.
  9. Add remaining blueberries, stir well and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes.
  10. Spread lemon curd over cooled crust. Spread blueberry mixture over the lemon curd.
  11. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Keep leftovers refrigerated for up to 5 days (if the pie lasts that long!),

Mediterranean Hummus Bowl

 We are very big on the bowl meal these days–not only are they healthy and delicious, but they help use up lots of little bits of vegetables and occasionally meat that we have left over from other meals. This Mediterranean bowl came about in just that way. I had the leftover feta and some hummus and some orzo. Why not put them all together and call it lunch? You could add a meat protein if you like–chicken or fish would be terrific–but it’s great without as well.

A note here on salting your salad. Have you ever wondered why salads at a restaurant taste so much better than salads you make at home? Guess what? They salt the greens. Not like making pickles or something, but just a sprinkle of good quality salt. Try it–you will love it.

What makes a good bowl meal? Here is a little formula I use to make sure I’m getting a balanced meal:

2 cups greens + 1 cup raw or grilled vegetables + 1/2 cup protein + 1/2 cup cooked grains + sauce or dressing of your choice

Mediterranean Hummus Bowl (Serves 1)

  • 2 cups fresh baby greens (I used arugula, kale and spinach), washed
  • 1/2 cup cooked orzo
  • 1/4 cup spicy hummus
  • 1 small, ripe tomato, cut into chunks
  • 1 small, ripe cucumber, peeled, sliced and cut into quarters
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, washed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata olives
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette dressing

In a large serving bowl, layer the greens and the next 6 ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette and enjoy!

Pasta alla Ceccha

Pasta alla Ceccha

  Some summer days just beg for easy cooking, and this past week was full of them! Sometimes serendipity intervenes and provides you with what you need. At a race I ran last week, one of the vendors was giving away yellow tomatoes. Tomatoes!!! So we came home loaded down with little packages of delicious tomatoes, just in time to make a dish that is summer simplicity at its best. 

Italian cooking makes the best use of simple, ripe, seasonal foods and this dish  is one of my favorite ways to get our pre-run carbs without turning the kitchen into a sauna. The sauce is a raw tomato sauce that is flavorful and satisfying without being heavy. Tossed with hot pasta, it fills your kitchen with the amazing aroma of basil and garlic. Try this with your best, ripe summer tomatoes! This recipe is based on one from Giada deLaurentis and is a favorite summer staple.

Pasta alla Ceccha (serves 4)

  • 1 lb pasta
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes or the equivalent in ripe, regular tomatoes
  • 3 green oinions, white parts and a little of the green
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ounce parmesan cheese
  • A generous handful of fresh basil leaves
  • Salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 6 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1″ pieces
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente.
  2. In a food processor, combine all remaining ingredients except mozzarella. 
  3. Pulse until all is combined but still chunky. Don’t puree ( although if you do, it’s not the end of the world).
  4. Toss the sauce with the hot cooked pasta.
  5. Add the fresh mozzarella and serve immediately.

See? Easy peasy! Enjoy!

Watermelon Smoothies

  Watermelon is one food that makes my summers extraordinary. Ripe tomatoes are right up there as well (nothing beats a summer lunch like a tomato sandwich), but ripe, cold watermelon is the antidote to our hot, sticky summers. 

This smoothie is like summer in a glass–perfect after a long run or a day at the pool. With no added sugar, it is also a healthy way to rehydrate! Don’t leave out the lime juice–it really helps balance out the sweetness in the watermelon. 

What is your favorite summer food?

Watermelon Smoothie (1 serving)

  • 3 cups watermelon
  • 1 cup ice
  • Juice from one lime
  1. Put all ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Serve immediately

Summer Egg Salad!

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Egg salad. Oh yes, summer is here.

When the days are warm and no one feels like cooking (well, not me anyway) and the thought of something cool and creamy for dinner makes everybody happy, it is time for egg salad. This is one of those dishes that is quick, easy, delicious and very budget-friendly–even if you buy farm fresh eggs like we do.

Any dish where eggs are the star deserves farm fresh eggs. We buy our eggs from farmers who pasture raise their chickens–not only do the egg yolks look healthier in color, but the eggs themselves taste noticeably better than grocery store eggs. They are also healthier for you, providing more omega-3 fatty acids than factory eggs and packing more protein as well.

I know people who don’t like to make this dish because they have a hard time peeling their hard boiled eggs. The recipe below details my system and I have never had this go wrong. Yet.

You can make this cold salad up to 24 hours ahead. Keep in the refrigerator with a slightly damp paper towel or piece of plastic wrap covering (touching) the surface of the egg salad to prevent any discoloration. Egg yolks, like avocados or bananas, react quickly to oxygen in the air and can turn brown. This doesn’t mean it’s bad, but it won’t be as appetizing.

We serve our egg salad with locally made sourdough from La Farm bakery or honey whole wheat from Great Harvest Bread Company. Pumpernickle is good, too, if you can persuade your children to eat it (if you can, please send tips). It is also delicious served on a bed of greens. Good sides for egg salad include homemade pickles or pickled okra, celery sticks, carrot sticks or even kale chips!

Egg Salad (makes about 3 cups)

  • 6 farm fresh eggs
  • 2 stalks organic celery, trimmed and diced (optional)
  • 1/3 cup good quality mayonnaise (we used Dukes)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  1. Gently put the eggs in a stock pot or large saucepan. Add water to cover eggs by 1″ and cover pot with lid.
  2. Heat pot over medium high heat until water starts to boil. Remove from heat, and let sit for 12 minutes.
  3. Unocover pot and remove eggs to a colander. Run cold water over the eggs to stop the cooking process.
  4. One at a time, take each egg and gently tap it all over its surface so that the surface of the egg has small cracks all over it.
  5. Holding the egg under a stream of cold water, gently peel the shell from the egg. The running water helps a lot. If some of the white sticks to the shell, that’s ok. You’re going to mash them up anyway. Put the peeled egg in a medium sized mixing bowl.
  6. Continue with all your eggs until they are all peeled and in the mixing bowl. With the back of a fork, mash the eggs so you have a rough mixture of egg whites and yolks.
  7. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix together with the fork until you have a thick, yellow mixture. Add more mayonnaise if your mixture seems too dry. Taste for seasoning and correct as needed.
  8. Serve on bread, toast or on a bed of greens!
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