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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“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

The Best (and Easiest) Way to Cook Green Beans

green beans

My daughter Leah has been known to consume about a pound of haricots verts in a single sitting.  Coincidentally (or not), she also looks like one of those skinny French beans.

 

Ma fille, Leah

Ma fille, Leah

“Proper” technique for cooking green beans (regular or haricots verts) is to blanch them in boiling water for about 2 minutes, then drain, rinse and cool in an ice bath (to stop the cooking). Then, you sauté the barely-cooked beans in butter and/or oil until just tender. This is not a bad method – especially if you want to blanch the beans a day ahead of time– but I have found that the extra steps (and dishes) are not necessary.  Especially if you cook beans a lot – which we do.

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No-Bake Grasshopper Pie

No-Bake Grasshopper Pie

Sure – red, white and blue flag cakes are really cute and patriotic, but there’s an easier summer dessert that will get just as many ooohs and ahhhs from the crowd: No-Bake Grasshopper Pie.  In summer, sometimes simple is best. Especially if simple involves mint chocolate chip ice cream. And Oreos.  Continue reading

No Yolk: Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta “Eggs”

April Fool's Panna Cotta Egg

Old-world panna cotta is experiencing a renaissance these days, and for good reason. This no-bake, gluten-free dessert is a giggly blank canvas for seasonal flavors and embellishments, from rhubarb compote to gingerbread crumbles. Sounds fancy, but panna cotta is really just barely-sweetened Jell-O made with cream (or milk or Greek yogurt) instead of water. Since it must be made ahead (in order to set up in the fridge), panna cotta perfect for entertaining. Busy restaurants love it for this reason as well.

Back in 1999, when I was voted one of Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chefs, I began experimenting with all kinds of different flavorings, shapes and toppings for panna cotta.

That's me - front row, second from the right.

That’s me – front row, second from the right.

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Crafty Cracker Baskets

Cracker basket salad

While many of our friends are lounging around in sunny locales this week for spring break, sipping Piña Coladas (or Shirley Temples) and worrying about nothing but SPF coverage, we are hunkering down at home – gearing up for another snowstorm (?!) and making To Do lists for our New Jersey “staycation”.

cat watching snow

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Quick-n-Easy Cookie Pops

Oreo Cookie Pops

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day – an especially fun and goodie-filled holiday for kids, as well as for women with creative, generous, romantic spouses . . .

While expressing love with a Valentine’s card is always appropriate, a little homemade treat can make the sentiment even sweeter. These Oreo cookie pops look fancy and festive, but can be assembled and decorated in less than half an hour. Sweet mother of shortcuts!

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Thanksgiving Loaf

Thanksgiving-inspired turkey loaf with traditional trimmings

With Thanksgiving only a week away, it’s time to talk turkey. Recipes, sure – but more importantly, a recounting of all we have to be thankful for.  Where I live in New Jersey, The Storm is still at the forefront of all conversations. “Were you guys hit hard?” “Any tree damage?” And then the unifying, “How long were you without power?” So it’s no surprise that family safety, an intact home and the miracle of electricity top the “thankful for” list this year. We spent 10 days without power, and will never again (at least until next month) flick on a light switch or oven or dryer without a little bit of wonder and appreciation.

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