Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I ate Strawberry Rhubarb Pie for the first time at my cousin’s Confirmation lunch when I was eight or nine. I didn’t know what it was, but I had three servings and only stopped my gluttonous endeavor because the tart rhubarb started to make my mouth hurt. For years after, I ordered it any time I spotted it on a dessert menu.

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Fresh rhubarb can generally only be found in the spring, and I’ve missed my window of opportunity the past few years. But lo and behold, the bright red stalks caught my eye at Fairway this week and I grabbed them like they were the last drops of morning dew in The Land Before Time (for those of you who don’t get that *v cool* 90’s movie reference, I snatched the rhubarb quickly and without hesitation).

This recipe is adapted from Epicurious.

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INGREDIENTS:

2 Pillsbury pie crusts, thawed according to package instructions

1 pound rhubarb, chopped into 1/2 inch slices

1 16-ounce container strawberries, hulled, halved (about 3 1/2 cups)

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (to dot)

1 large egg yolk beaten and blended with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze)

1 tablespoon turbinado or granulated sugar (to sprinkle on top)

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DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Press one pie crust into the bottom of a 9 inch pie pan. In a large bowl, combine the fruit, sugars, cornstarch, cinnamon, and sugar. Pour into prepared pie crust. Dot with butter.

You can either place the full second pie crust on top, crimp the edges, and cut slits for ventilation, OR cut the second pie crust into strips and create a lattice work top.

Once the second crust is on, brush it with the egg-water glaze. Sprinkle the turbinado (or 1 tbsp of granulated) sugar over the top.

Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and baked for an additional 1 hour and 15 minutes*. The filling should be thick and the crust golden when you remove it.

*I have a powerful oven, so you may need to keep it in for another 5-10 minutes.

Let cool on a rack then enjoy with vanilla ice cream!

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Hummus

Hummus is a divisive subject in my family. Some of us like it creamy, some like it a little chunky (I’m with you; I think the chunky hummus lovers are crazy too). Some adore store brand hummus such as Sabra, while others scoff at its pasty texture (yeah, this is the chunky hummus lover).

Personally, I’m fine with store bought or homemade, but I recently had a hummus awakening that drove me to make some myself and to try a couple new seasonings. “What could this revelation have been?”, you wonder. Answer: I went to a restaurant on the west side a few months ago called Hummus Kitchen. And. Their. Hummus. Was. Phenomenal. Like, can’t stop talking about it phenomenal. Like, told my coworkers that they have no option but to go there phenomenal. It was warm, covered in chicken shwarma, and drizzled with olive oil. The addition of olive oil to the top of hummus is probably completely normal but my family has never made it that way, so it was a lightbulb moment for me.

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The restaurant itself was frigid because of its petite size and my table’s proximity to the street, but the food and friendly waitstaff completely made up for it. Oh, and did I mention their freshly made lemon-mint lemonade? I’m a sucker for flavored lemonades. Lavender, mint, whatever… I’m there.

This recipe is ever so slightly adapted from Bon Appetit.

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INGREDIENTS:

1 15½-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed, drained

½ cup tahini, well mixed — this will take a couple minutes but don’t despair, it will become smooth!

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 garlic clove, finely grated (I used a garlic press)

¾ teaspoon (or more) kosher salt

10 cranks freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

1 pinch dried oregano

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DIRECTIONS:

Combine the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, black pepper, cumin, and water in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth, about 1 minute. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil as you continue to process the mixture for about a minute more.

Put the hummus in a shallow bowl or a plate with raised edges. Drizzle a tad more olive oil over the hummus and sprinkle on the sesame seeds and oregano.

Enjoy with veggies, pita, or on a spoon!

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Birthday Cake Truffles

Oreos are like my Mr. Big a la Sex and the City. I go back to them time and time again no matter how bad they make me feel (i.e. this directly correlates to how many I eat). My friends warn me about repeating bad decisions, but something keeps me coming back. I’ve dated them all: the birthday cake, the mint, the double stuf… no matter the flavor, they’re all my old standby.

This recipe gives air to an old flame; it’s amazing what adding cream cheese and chocolate to a relationship can do. These Birthday Cake Truffles are sort of a hybrid between a truffle and a cake pop; the texture is so creamy you wouldn’t know Oreos were the primary ingredient. Though delicious, they are exceedingly sweet, so have a cool glass of milk ready! There I go, pushing milk again.

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INGREDIENTS:

16 oz. white chocolate chip morsels, melted

8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature (not whipped– save it for your bagels!)

1 package Birthday Cake Oreos (you can use golden or chocolate but for the classic cake pop taste, go for golden!)

2 tbsp. rainbow jimmies

1 tbsp rainbow nonpareils

DIRECTIONS:

Set aside a baking sheet.

Put Oreos in a food processor. Process until a fine crumb forms, about 45 seconds– I used to use a meat mallet to smash the Oreos, but it never got the crumbs fine enough.

Dump Oreo crumbs into medium sized mixing bowl with cream cheese. Mix well, then add jimmies until combined. Roll Oreo mixture into balls that are about 1 inch in size. Set on baking sheet. Let chill in the freezer for 30 minutes.

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One by one, dip each Oreo ball into the melted chocolate, then set back on the baking sheet. I used a fork to dip the truffles into the chocolate, which was pretty successful. In the past I’ve used toothpicks and they always fell out!

Put a pinch of nonpareils on each ball as you go. Don’t wait until the chocolate has set or none will stick!

Wait until the chocolate has hardened, then eat!

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Cheesy Garlic Bread

Growing up in a heavily Italian area of New York, I’ve had every type of garlic bread imaginable. Garlic knots, garlic rolls, French-bread-cut-in-half garlic bread… the delicious list goes on. I have two favorite garlic bread experiences in recent memory. The first was the French bread type of garlic bread at a restaurant called Parm (think old standby Italian spot meets trendy, Instagram-worthy chain). The second was from a pizza place on the Upper West Side, and it entailed six, count ’em, SIX, garlic knots smothered in a melty layer of mozzarella cheese. It was those knots that got me thinking, “I should make this myself so that I can eat them ALL THE TIME!!! Will I gain weight? Probably… but that’s a small price to pay for such a satisfying lifestyle”.

I came down a little from that initial cheese high, but was still craving more. So, you guessed it! I decided to marry these two garlic rich experiences and make my own supply.

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If you’re wondering why the end of the baguette looks like a butt, it’s because it was meant to look like a fish tail but the baker had a bad day. No need to buy a fancy loaf for this recipe– I got this butt loaf at my local supermarket!

INGREDIENTS:

1 baguette, cut crosswise and then lengthwise

1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella

1/4 cup grated parmesan

6 Tbsp butter, melted

5-6 garlic cloves, finely chopped

 

2 Tbsp chopped parsley

Garlic powder, to taste

Italian seasoning, to taste

1/2 cup red sauce, if desired

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DIRECTIONS:

Makes 4 large servings or 8 small servings (i.e. for a non-monster unlike myself)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place the cut baguette, crust side down, on the sheet. Set aside.

Sprinkle garlic powder and Italian seasoning into the melted butter. Add the chopped garlic cloves and stir. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes, or until the butter has started to harden again.

Spread the butter mixture over the doughy parts of the baguette. Sprinkle the baguette slices with mozzarella, dividing it evenly over each one. Repeat with the parmesan.

Bake for 15 minutes, then broil for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese starts to bubble and brown. If you don’t have a broiler you can skip this step, but it makes the flavor even better!

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Heat up your red sauce in the microwave or in a small saucepan.

Sprinkle the baguettes with parsley and let cool until it is nice and warm but not hot. Dip in your red sauce and enjoy!!

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Jumbo Sugar Cookie

As much as I love baking, sometimes I’m not in the mood to go through all the setting up and cleaning up involved. That’s why this recipe, courtesy of Sally’s Baking Addiction, caught my eye– it just makes one huge sugar cookie. Meaning, it’s a much smaller project than making a full batch. It requires lower ingredient measures and therefore, smaller baking tools can be used.  I LOVE when a recipe only needs 1 or 2 small mixing bowls and teaspoon/tablespoon measures. Small bowls can be popped in the dishwasher and more of them can simultaneously fit on drying mats. Aka, quicker and easier cleanup. Oh, and did I mention the best part? If you only make one giant cookie you don’t have to worry about cookie vultures*; if there’s only one cookie, they know who it’s for.

*A cookie vulture is a person or animal that circles the kitchen while you’re baking and snags a cookie before it’s even hit the cooling rack. When I’m not the one baking, I am one hundred percent a cookie vulture.

This is the first time I’ve made a small batch version of a classic, and part of the reason I chose this recipe to be my first is that it still calls for an oven. I keep seeing recipes for single serving microwave brownies and microwave cakes, but there’s something about *baking* by *microwave* that feels wrong to me. Would it taste the same? Maybe. Would I think it tasted the same? Most likely not.

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INGREDIENTS:

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature

3 Tablespoons sugar

2 Tablespoons beaten egg (crack the egg, beat it, and use 2 tbsp)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 Tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

2 Tablespoons sprinkles — the more colorful, the better!

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DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Either spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray or cover it with a piece of parchment paper.

In a small bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Stir in the 2 Tbsp of egg and the vanilla extract.

Add the remaining ingredients and mix until just combined. Be careful not to overdo it!

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Flip the cookie dough out of the bowl and onto the baking sheet so that it looks like a tall ball (if it’s too flat it will be way too thin!). Bake for approximately 15 minutes until the edges are lightly browned. I took mine out at 13 minutes because I wanted an ooey gooey center, but that’s your call! Just remember that it will continue baking for a few minutes after you take it out of the oven, so don’t overcook it.

Allow the cookie to cool completely on the cookie sheet– no cooling rack needed here.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

Whenever I’m in the mood for a decadent dessert, I have my best friend Lauren come over.  She watches me make it, listens to me talk while it’s baking or chilling, and helps me eat it in front of whatever Lifetime movie is on (spoiler alert: the mom kills the daughter’s evil boyfriend!). It’s funny how long the blogging process takes compared to how long it takes to eat what I’m blogging. We usually don’t make it ten minutes into the movie before running to the kitchen for seconds. And when we’re being really honest with ourselves we’ll bring the entire dish into the TV room so we don’t have to make multiple trips (because why should you have to stand in order to get more dessert?!).

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This week I made this gooey, chocolatey, rich, chocolate chip cookie pie from Half Baked Harvest to satisfy my teeth-rotting craving for sweets (jk, I floss on the reg). Lauren was kind enough to bring over some Friendly’s vanilla ice cream to top it off, and I highly recommend the addition. The cold, creamy texture against that of the melty chocolate filling and the crisp pie crust is absolutely awesome.

INGREDIENTS:

1 Pillsbury pie crust

2 eggs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) butter, softened

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk — you know it’s gonna be good when there’s condensed milk!!

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DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a shallow (you don’t want the pie crust to far surpass the filling) pie plate with butter or shortening. I know it seems weird to grease a pie pan, but since we’re not making a typical pie, some things have to be done a little differently!

Roll out the pie crust and press it into the pie plate.

Using and electric mixer, beat the eggs in a medium bowl on medium until foamy, about three minutes. Add the flour, brown sugar, sugar, and vanilla, beat until combined. Add the butter and continue beating until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Drizzle half of the sweetened condensed milk over the bottom of the crust. Plop in half the filling and spread so that it evenly covers the layer of condensed milk. Drizzle the remaining condensed milk over the filling. Spoon in the rest of the filling and spread again.
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Transfer to the oven and bake for 55-60 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool at least 20 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream for optimum enjoyment!
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Buttershots Blondies

I haven’t posted in almost 6 months. That’s pretty insane considering I’ve been cooking and eating a lot of delicious recipes during that time. I got a little sidetracked with other things that I had going on, and I didn’t feel the urge to share what I was making in the kitchen. But I’m back and ready to share an absolutely wonderful blondie recipe that I adapted ever so slightly from the always marvelous Smitten Kitchen.

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I used to think, “why make blondies when you could just make brownies?”. It seemed counterintuitive to leave out chocolate and leave the sugar and butter blank. But we all have days when a nice warm sugar cookie sounds more appealing than a chocolate chip one. So the same must be true of blondies. At least, that’s the conclusion I’ve drawn because I am now equally attracted to both. And as far as the Buttershots* goes, well that’s just a butterscotch liqueur that adds a, you guessed it, toasty butterscotch flavor to the otherwise standard blondies.

*I was first introduced to Buttershots by my aunt, who would pour a bit of it into a saucepan of warm apple cider. Just thinking about it makes me want a mug full.

INGREDIENTS:

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1 cup flour, plus 2 tbsp

1 cup light brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup Buttershots liqueur

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Generous pinch of salt*

*I find these to be too sweet as is, so I like grinding some sea salt on them once they’re done cooling in addition to this pinch of table salt.

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DIRECTIONS:

Spray an 8×8 pan with non-stick baking spray, or smear with butter.

Mix melted butter with brown sugar – beat until smooth. Beat in egg and then vanilla.

Add salt, stir in all of the flour. Mix in the Buttershots and chocolate chips.

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Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350°F 20-25 minutes, or until set in the middle. To be honest, I always take it out a little before it’s completely set because A) it will keep cooking for a couple of minutes once it’s out of the oven, and B) I like them gooier than a Nicholas Sparks novel.

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Cup of Dirt

Growing up, my favorite place to get dessert (besides cheesecake in Philadelphia…), was Ground Round. Ground Round, for those of you unfamiliar with the 90’s haven, was a chain restaurant that led kids eat for a cent per pound of their body weight. Crazy, right? Yes, crazy. And crazy cheap. But the best part for me as a kid was the dessert. Their specialty, if you will, was cup of dirt. A child friendly delicacy made out of pudding, Cool Whip, crumbled Oreos, and gummy worms. They were always a little chintzy with the worms, so I had to ration them out through the meal. So now that I’m an adult and it’s within my power to add more worms, I decided to make them on my own.

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INGREDIENTS:

Makes about 6 servings

1 package of chocolate pudding, made

1 8 oz tub of Cool Whip, thawed

1 small package of gummy worms

1 sleeve of oreos, crumbled (I smashed mine with a meat mallet)

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DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl, fold the Cool Whip into the pudding. Be careful not to over mix. Put a few spoonfuls into a small glass. Slide a couple of gummy worms into the pudding, letting them hang over the side of the glass. Top with Oreo crumbles. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

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4th of July Berry Pie

The past few weeks I’ve been in a heightened state of spring cleaning. Throwing out random receipts (except the ones from Sur and Moonlight Rollerway in LA, obv), old shoes, and a terrible hat collection has been my go-to pastime. As I ran out of things to toss from my room, I set my sights on the refrigerator. In it, I found remnants of my insanely brief smoothie faze: a bag of frozen mixed berries. Next to this sad ghost of a healthier me sat an unopened bag of frozen cherries, which were leftover from last week’s cherry pie. In a fit of glorious, cleaning-driven energy I whipped up this five berry pie. It’s based on a recipe from Food Network, though I changed it a little bit to make it tarter since I love a good tang in my pie. I also used a star shaped cookie cutter from Christmas to make cute stars to top the pie with, turning what would be a regular, ho-hum-da-dum pie into a stunningly fabulous Fourth of July Berry Pie.

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INGREDIENTS:

4 cups of frozen berries, thawed (I used cherries, strawbs, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries)

2 Pillsbury pie crusts

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (you can use a little more or a little less depending on how sweet you want the filling to be)

4-5 tbsp cornstarch (depending on how thick you want it to be– I’d start with 4 and work your way up if you need to add more)

1/8 tsp vanilla

1-2 tbsp lemon juice

1 1/2 tbsp butter, to dot

1 tbsp granulated sugar, to sprinkle

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DIRECTIONS:

Place berries in medium saucepan and place over heat. Cover. After the cherries lose considerable juice, which may take a few minutes, remove from heat. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cornstarch together. Pour this mixture into the hot berries and mix well. Mix in the lemon and vanilla. Return the mixture to the stove and cook over low heat until thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and let cool– I always lose patience and just wait until it’s not hot… oh well. If the filling is too thick, add a little water, too thin, add a little more cornstarch.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Place one Pillsbury crust in the pie pan. Using a star cookie cutter, punch stars out of the other one. Set aside.

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Pour the cooled berry mixture into the crust. Dot with butter. Top with the star cutouts, then sprinkle the remaining tbsp of granulated sugar on top.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

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Fluffy Key Lime Pie

I made this pie what feels like ages ago, and just haven’t gotten around to posting it. Which is a shame, because it’s the perfect summer pie in a couple of respects. 1. It’s made with key limes, which hit their peak around now. And 2. It’s a Weight Watchers recipe, so you don’t have to eat it and then worry about sinking to the bottom of the pool. Not that that’s how eating works, but you know the feeling.

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3 weeks ago I went to the beach with my friend Ashleigh after stopping at the deli to pick up some sammies. Naturally, I picked the hottest, most buttery, sauerkraut filled sandwich there ever was. Eating that on the beach, though decadent and clearly uprooting social norms, is probably not something I would do again. Although the melted butter dripping off of the bread did give my hands the beautiful sheen of a basted chicken, so maybe I should reconsider.

But I digress.

I first tried this recipe at least a decade ago, when some family members were on Weight Watchers. Even as a kid, I remember becoming obsessed with its light, marshmallow-esque texture and its tangy but sweet flavor. And the graham cracker crust?! Fuhgettaboutit!

INGREDIENTS:

1 package (.3 ounce) sugar-free lime gelatin

1/4 cup boiling water

2 cartons (6 ounces each) Key lime yogurt — try to find something that’s not full on Greek yogurt, since that’s so thick, but a derivative is fine

1 carton (8 ounces) lite Cool Whip

1 reduced-fat graham cracker crust (8 inches)

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DIRECTIONS:

In a large bowl, dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Whisk in yogurt. Fold in Cool Whip. Pour into crust. 

Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until set.

Top with more Cool Whip (I assume you bought two..).

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