Friday, July 03, 2020

Macaroni Salad with Peas and Ham


It’s almost summer! It's the season for picnics, outdoor family gatherings and cookouts. Lots and lots of cookouts!  And it's always a tough decision trying to decide what to take to a cookout, right?  Well, who doesn't love pasta salad?  Let's face it, no barbecue or picnic is complete without a nice chilled macaroni salad. When I think about some of the food that represents summer, this recipe comes to mind.  This is my Mom's Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad with peas and ham.  The memory of this summer classic  makes me smile.

Macaroni Salad with Peas and Ham

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise (I used only Hellmann's or Dukes)

1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sugar (more or less to taste)
2 cups pre-cooked elbow macaroni, drained well
1 cup ham, cut into small cubes
3/4 cup frozen baby peas
salt and pepper as desired

In a small bowl mix together the mayo, sour cream, Dijon mustard, and sugar. Add salt and pepper to taste. Empty frozen peas into a colander and pour hot water over them to thaw.  Set aside.

In a larger bowl, combine cooked macaroni, ham and thawed peas. Add dressing a little at a time until you have the consistency you like. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.  

Optional add-ins:

Your favorite cheese, cut in cubes

sliced red onion
fresh dill
boiled eggs, chopped
sweet pickle relish

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Monday, June 22, 2020

Simple Blueberry Turnovers

I woke up this morning to a cloudy day and felt like baking something. That’s what usually happens when the sun isn’t shining down on my morning.  I head to the kitchen to bake. It doesn’t always have to be anything elaborate. Sometimes I can open my pantry or my freezer and see something wonderful that will spark my creative brain. Sometimes, my creation can be so simple I’m embarrassed to call it a recipe! 

Simple Blueberry Turnovers

1 12 ounce bag of frozen blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
1 box (2 sheets) puff pastry
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Short cut:   Open a can of blueberry pie filling!

Heat blueberries, sugar and lemon juice on the stovetop in a medium-sized saucepan on low heat for about ten minutes or until the berries start releasing their juices, stirring frequently.

Once there is a lot of juice, mix the cornstarch and water together and stir into the blueberry mixture. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly until thickened. Allow the filling to cool slightly before filling the pastry.

Whisk the egg and water in a small bowl to create an egg wash. Set aside. Carefully unroll pastry dough onto a lightly floured surface. Cut each sheet into 4 equal sized squares by cutting down the center both ways.  Brush all around the edges of each sheet with egg wash.

Spoon 2 tablespoons of blueberry mixture onto the center of each square and then fold the pastry over by connecting two pointed corners into a triangle shape. Crimp all of the edges together with a fork to seal the filling inside.

Lightly brush the top of each turnover with the beaten egg wash. Cut 2 or 3 small steam vents in the tops of each pastry. Move to a line baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly before adding glaze.


1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-3 tablespoons cream (or whole milk)

Whisk confectioner's sugar, vanilla and cream or milk together until smooth. Drizzle over warm pastries.

Blueberry Turnovers will stay fresh for up to 3 days stored in an airtight container at room temperature. To crisp them up again, place in a toaster oven for a few minutes and they are good as new!

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Tuesday, June 09, 2020

Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake Pie

WOW!  Wanna really show off?  Present this easy-to-make pie to your friends and family and they will think you slaved in the kitchen for hours. This pie is so light and delicious and just for spring and summer!  Make your own graham cracker crust or really make it quick with a ready-made store-bought pie shell.

   Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake Pie

1 graham cracker crust (store-bought or homemade)
1 (8 oz.) block of cream cheese
8 oz. white chocolate, melted
1 cup powdered sugar
1 (8 oz.) package Cool Whip, thawed (see Notes)
12 oz. fresh raspberries

Spread 2 tablespoons of melted white chocolate on the bottom of the pie prepared pie crust (fully cooled if homemade). 
Chop ¼ cup of fresh raspberries and sprinkle them over the bottom of the cooled pie crust. Set aside the whole berries for topping your pie later.  Set aside 2-3 tablespoons of melted white chocolate to drizzle over the top.

In a large bowl, beat the remaining melted white chocolate with the cream cheese until smooth. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Add in the thawed Cool Whip and beat mixture until creamy and fluffy, scraping the sides as needed to ensure everything is fully incorporated.


Pour filling into crust, evening out the top with a knife or spatula. Place the fresh raspberries on top of the filling. 


Place the remaining white chocolate in a small Ziplock bag, snip off the corner of the bag, and drizzle the top of your pie with the melted chocolate.  


You can use 3 cups whipped cream instead of the Cool Whip if you don't have access to it or just prefer it!

Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Enjoy!

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Mom's Magical Apple Caramel Pie

We always had a family tradition at our house.  Every October we would go to the apple grove out in the country so we could pick our basket of apples for my Mom's famous apple pie. We would stop at the little family owned grocery store in town and pick up some homemade vanilla ice cream too. It was always a fun day at the orchard and we knew that that afternoon the whole house would be filled with that heavenly smell.  When most people think of falling leaves and pumpkins and all those things that come with fall....I remember my Mom's wonderful apple pie.  I now call this my Mom's magical pie because when I make it, I am transported back to those wonderful days as a child.  

Mom's Magical Apple Caramel Pie


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup chilled (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water

Make sure all your ingredients are thoroughly chilled before you begin. Freeze your butter for the best pie crusts. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Use a food processor if possible to quickly cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until it looks like cornmeal.  It's okay to have a few pea sized pieces of butter throughout. If doing this manually using a pastry cutter, work quickly. The quicker you work the better because you want your butter to stay cold.  

Add 4 tablespoons of ice water and pulse until the dough forms a ball. (If doing by hand, gather the dough and gently press into a ball.) It should come together loosely; if not, add water 1 tablespoon at a time. Divide dough in half; place each on plastic wrap. Flatten into disks. Wrap tightly; refrigerate 1 hour or overnight. 

Remove one disk from refrigerator. Between two sheets of lightly floured parchment paper, press rolling pin gently all over dough to flatten it slightly. Working from the center to the edge in all directions, roll out dough into a round about 3 inches larger than the pie plate.

Wrap the dough around the rolling pin; lift and center it over the pie plate. Gently unroll the dough over the plate, leaving an even amount of overhang around the perimeter. Flute the edge of the crust using the pointer finger of one hand and the thumb and pointer of the other hand.

Roll out the second disk between two sheets of parchment and cut into 1-inch strips for the lattice top. Chill bottom and top crusts while you prepare the pie filling.  But first prepare salted caramel sauce. 

Salted Caramel

1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup water
1 stick of fresh unsalted butter
1/2 cup fresh heavy cream
1-1/2 tsp. sea salt

Cook the sugar and water together over low heat until just dissolved. Add the butter and bring to a slow boil. Continue cooking at a low boil until the mixture turns a deep, golden brown color, almost copper. This process can take awhile depending on the heat source. Keep an eye on it, the caramel should just barely begin to begin to smoke, but be careful not to burn it or you will have to start over.

Once the mixture has turned a copper color, remove from heat and immediately add the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble rapidly and steam so be careful as the steam and sugar will be very hot.
Whisk the final mixture together well over low heat and sprinkle in the sea salt.  Set aside while you prepare the pie filling.

Pie Filling

 Juice and zest of 1 lemon
6 large apples (Granny Smith, Gala, or Cortland)
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Core, peel, and thinly slice the apples, and place in a large mixing bowl. Add zest and juice of the lemon and using your hands make sure the apples are coated in the lemon juice so they don't turn brown.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Sprinkle this mixture over the apples. Use your hands to gently mix and coat the apple slices.

Assemble the pie

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Gather your rolled pie crust, salted caramel, and apple mixture. Begin by layering 1/3 of the apples in the bottom of the crust so that there are minimal gaps. Pour 1/3 of the caramel over the apples. Add 1/3 of the apples and caramel for a second layer, and then add a third layer of apples, and then the caramel again. Save a small portion of the caramel for garnishing.

Assemble the lattice crust and blend in with the fluted edges of the crust. 


1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon cream
1/2 teaspoon raw sugar 
1 pinch of sea salt

Mix together the yolk and cream. Brush the crust with this egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar and sea salt.

Bake the pie on a baking sheet larger than the pie pan for 20 minutes (otherwise the caramel will bubble over and burn on the bottom of your oven). Reduce the oven temperature to 350 and bake for another 25 to 35 minutes. You can test the apples for doneness with a small knife. The apples should be just soft.  

Let the pie cool. Slice and enjoy with vanilla ice cream!

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