Dad’s Famous Blackberry Pie

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In my family, nothing says “I love you” like a freshly baked pie. Blackberry pie is my favorite, and my dad knows it. So when I journey back to Tacoma, WA for a visit and there’s a warm, lattice-top blackberry pie on the kitchen counter, the pastry says what words can’t. I love you too, Dad!

Dad with his lovingly crafted lattice-top pie.

Dad with his lovingly crafted lattice-top pie.

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Mother’s Day Brunch

Sue + Karen

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, Karen! If we didn’t live 2,413 miles apart, I’d have her over for Mother’s Day brunch tomorrow. I’d probably make this tomato tart recipe that she first discovered in a Sara Moulton cookbook, along with a green salad and some extra-lemony lemon bars (she’s a lemon-lover).  This quiche-like tart does involve several steps, but it can be partially (make the crust) or entirely made ahead, and then gently reheated in a low oven.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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The Best Black Bean Salsa

Best black bean salad

Well – at least I think it’s the best. Love yourself, love your salsa. This salad/salsa/dip/side is in heavy rotation in our house from Cinco de Mayo to the end of tomato season.  If using as a salsa/dip, we like Tostitos Scoops for obvious “scoopability” reasons.

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No-Bake Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Raspberry Sauce

Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta

A coconut-covered lamb cake sure would be cute right about now, but guess who’d end up eating most of it? Moi. So this year for our spring entertaining, I’m thinking about making Greek Yogurt panna cotta with raspberry sauce. These are cute in their own way, and so good for you they almost shouldn’t be called a dessert. The milk (nonfat!) mellows out the (nonfat!) Greek yogurt’s tang, and the gelatin transforms it all into a giggly, eggless custard. Top with a zingy raspberry purée, and I don’t think anyone will miss the lamb cake. (But I’ll keep some chocolate bunnies on hand just in case.)

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Blissful Turkey Meatballs & Italian Wedding Soup

Turkey meatballs wedding soup

Crafty wordplay aside (Get it? Wedding/Bliss?), you might be wondering if a meatball could really be blissful? Darn good, maybe – but blissful? Hardcore carnivores might not agree, but I think these lean turkey meatballs – laced with parmesan cheese, deliciously caramelized outside and spoon-tender inside – are about as good as a meatball can get. They’re the newest addition to our family’s “Favorites” list – whether added to this healthy meal-in-one soup, served with spaghetti and tomato sauce, or eaten straight from the pan.

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Healthy Cupcakes Take TODAY Show’s Top Prize!

Sue Walter TODAY Show

Can you believe it?? My “Too Good to Be Healthy” Black Bottom Cupcakes landed me on the TODAY Show last Thursday, as a finalist in Joy Bauer’s contest. AND -we won! (We, as in the cupcakes and me, and also as in shared honors with the nervous contestant #1 who fainted right before we went on air.)

Since everyone’s been asking me what the experience was like (and what was in that prize basket?), I thought I’d share some behind-the-scenes highlights.

The real stars of the day!

The real stars of the day!

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Sausage and Sun-dried Tomato-stuffed Mushrooms

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Looking for a crowd-pleasing appetizer that can also score as a quick weeknight dinner? The extra filling for these addictive stuffed mushrooms can be frozen and later turned into dinner in the 10 minutes it takes to cook a pound of pasta. I’m a big fan of epicurean efficiency.  (And also of all teams from Seattle – Go Seahawks!)

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“Too Good to Be Healthy” Black Bottom Cupcakes

Lighter black bottom cupcake

Can you have your cupcake and eat it too? With these lightened up, nutrition-enhanced beauties, the answer is yes! You don’t have to tell anyone that you cut back on the sugar, or that you swapped out all the oil for fat-free Greek yogurt and puréed prunes. Just don’t do as I did and eat 3 cupcakes in one sitting; that kind of works against the whole “eating healthy” idea. Continue reading

Holiday Open House 2013

Mini gingerbread cupcakes

For those who couldn’t make my Blog Holiday Open House earlier this month, here’s a little taste of what you missed.

This year’s theme was “Christmas in Paris” – I thought having a theme would help focus the menu and provide décor inspiration. Some of my menu items were legit French (i.e., gougères, or cheese puffs), but most were French-inspired/French-ish. I had fun creating a French Christmas theme board on Pinterest – a great way to organize ideas for a party.

Oui -those are little Eiffel Towers on my apron.

Oui -those are little Eiffel Towers on my apron.

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Healthier Boxwoods (and Free Holiday Greenery!)

IMG_1701Boxwoods often get a bad rap for being fussy and highbrow – shrubs more befitting Versailles than a New Jersey backyard. Not so, I say! We have at least 5 different varieties of boxwood in our yard (there are about 70 in the Buxus family), and they’re much more Sallie Sue than Marie Antoinette.  These well-mannered evergreen shrubs provide year-round structure in a landscape, and don’t demand much in return. As an added bonus, if you open-prune them in early December, they’ll reward you with free holiday greenery and healthy new growth come spring. 

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