Category: blueberry

Triple berry jam (vegan) cakes with (vegan) cream cheese frosting.

Triple berry vegan cupcakes!

Oops, I did it again. I successfully tricked people into eating vegan cupcakes & they were none the wiser! Of course, there were a *few* tells: the texture of the cupcake, and the frosting texture of course. However taste-wise, there were no complaints!

I used that triple berry maple bourbon jam (from last month) in them, and wow. The moistness of the cupcake was just heightened with that addition. Yes, they are indeed messy though. That’s the price you pay for this kind of moist cupcake with jammy goodness.

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Triple berry maple bourbon jam.

Triple berry maple bourbon jam!

Boy, berries can be messy.

I forget this from year to year, until I have some & I’m making jam & it splatters everywhere & it looks like I’ve been doing illegal surgeries in my kitchen sink.They’re so pretty though. So I forgive them their trespasses, for they know not what they do. And they’re summery, so it stands to reason I’m ready to start using them.

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Independence Day pastries.

Every heart beats true for the red, white & blue. Happy 4th of July!

When our founding father’s made the blueprints for America, I don’t think they had any idea that this time of year would turn into such a circus. Don’t get me wrong- I’ve got nothin’ against a good party. I love to grill up some hot dogs & burgers & have a cold beer. I love the colors red, white & blue. I love seeing everyone (or almost everyone) flying the flag. I have nothing against the 4th of July in it’s current incarnation. As a matter of fact, it’s pretty great.

I just hope that it’s not reduced to nothing but another excuse to get drunk & stupid for most people. Like I said- I have nothing against a good time. But there’s more to the day than a reason to get plastered & blow an arm off. This is a historical day, an important day for Americans. On July 2, 1776, the Congress voted to approve the resolution of independence from Great Britain. From this, Congress turned their attention to the Declaration of Independence, one of the most important documents (if not the most important) in American history. The document explains the decision for leaving Britain’s rule, becoming 13 independent states that formed a new nation, The United States of America. The date on the Declaration itself was July 4th, which was the date the official wording was approved, so because of that, we celebrate on the 4th. But whichever day it is, it’s important. It should mean something.

For me, it’s not just a reason to party. I never take a minute of my existence for granted, not just that I’m healthy, etc… but that I live in a country which- for all it’s many faults- is pretty damn awesome. But to be honest? Holidays for me are always a(nother) excuse to bake. And as a matter of fact, my mother’s birthday happens to be tomorrow, so it’s kind of a double celebration, which means double the desserts. Which calls for some easy mini pastries for the 4th.

Easy little fruit-filled pastries for the 4th of July! #4thofjuly #independenceday

I’ve made homemade PopTarts before, and I’ve made tons of hand-pies or mini-pies. So I thought that it’d be fun to make some patriotic-themed ones for the 4th. It’s a simple, hand held dessert that bakes up pretty quickly and makes use of fresh fruits. I know, it doesn’t seem simple. There are a lot of steps involved, but in all honesty they’re easy steps! However- you can also use canned pie filling to make them, as well as frozen pie crust. One small can of pie filling and two frozen pie crusts will probably give you around a dozen of these, maybe less.

And you don’t just have to use the blueberry filling. Make strawberry, cherry, blackberry… whatever you want! Or a few of each.

Patriotic blueberry-filled mini pastries. Also known as red, white & BLUEberry pastries! #4thofjuly #independenceday

Why stars? Well because of the stars & stripes of course! The American flag is commonly referred to as the “stars & stripes”, obviously because of the fact that it contains both. The stars are known as the “Union field”, meaning the stars represent the States of the Union. The union field is a blue square, so it was only right I use blueberries in the pies. Right?

If I’m being totally honest, though, I really just wanted to say they were “red, white & BLUEberry.” I’m corny like that.

INDEPENDENCE DAY FRUIT-FILLED MINI PASTRIES

Ingredients:

Pastry dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks, or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten (to brush on pastry)

Blueberry filling:

  • 1 pint blueberries (2 cups)
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water

Directions:

  1. Make the dough:
    1. To make the crust, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, work in the butter until it is the size of peas and the mixture holds together when you squeeze it. Whisk together the egg and milk and add to the dough. Mix together with a fork until everything is evenly moistened. Knead briefly on a floured surface, if necessary, until the dough comes together.
    2. Divide the dough in half. (At this point you can wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days.) If you refrigerate the dough, let it come to room temperature for about 15 minutes before rolling out.
  2. Make the filling:
    1. Combine blueberries with cup sugar in pan. Simmer on low heat until sugar is melted and mixture is very liquid; about 5 minutes. Combine cornstarch and water in bowl, then add to pan with blueberries. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to full boil and is clear and thick. Pour hot mixture into large bowl & same as with the cherries, cool until room temp.
  3. Roll the dough out. Roll out one piece of dough to about 1/8-inch thick, in a 9″ by 9″ square, or as close you can get to that. Using a sharp knife, pastry wheel or bench scraper, trim the dough so you have even smooth edges. Add those scraps to a scrap pile- we’ll deal with them later.
  4. Cut the sheet of dough into 6 squares/rectangles/squarangles/whatever shape you can. On half of the squares, cut a star shape out of the middle; these are going to be the “tops” of your pastries. Save the stars!
  5. Using a spatula, transfer the “bottom” squares to a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Brush the lightly beaten egg on each of the rectangles. Spoon a tablespoon of filling into the center of each rectangle, leaving about a 1/2-inch of space around the edges. DON’T OVER FILL THEM. One at a time, place a second rectangle of dough on top of the nine assembled ones. Using your fingers, press around the seams of the dough to make sure they are sealed. Press the tines of a fork around the edges of the rectangles.
  6. Now, if you want to, you can add the cut out stars, attaching them with some of that beaten egg, to the tops of some pastries. Offset them on the cutout, or put them next to it, etc, then brush that too with the egg. If you’re not using the stars, dust them with cinnamon sugar along with the scraps mentioned above, and bake them on another cookie sheet until golden. INSTANT SNACKS.
  7. Repeat #’s 4 & 5 with the other half of your dough, if you wish. If not, the dough will keep in a fridge for a few days.
  8. Refrigerate the pans with the finished pastries (you don’t need to cover them) for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350° degrees F. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool slightly before serving. Store pastries in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

Independence day mini fruit pies! Better than those popular toastier pastries & great with vanilla ice cream. #4thofjuly #independenceday

If you wanted to add a white icing to the top, you could. Or ice the stars white with little red sprinkles. Cuteness.

So, here’s the deal: I’d suggest using the above as a guideline, because I never get the right amount of pastries. EVER. I never measure right, and I always end up with more or less than I’m supposed to. And mine are never perfectly shaped- they’re always wonky & uneven. But that’s okay! Who cares!? The important thing is that they’re DELICIOUS.

And they are. They’re particularly amazing to eat around the firepit, with a bowl of vanilla ice cream (or cherry!), while watching the fireworks.

Happy Independence Day!

Delicious little pastries filled with blueberry (or cherry, or strawberry). #4thofjuly #independenceday

 

Blueberry cream pie for Dad, plus a bonus jam.

This is my dad. Well, it’s him in the 1970’s, anyway.

Mein papa, 1970's.

My dad likes food.

My grandpa Butch liked food too, but he was my maternal grandpa, so there was no blood relation between them. However, between the two of them, I think that’s where I inherited my love of eating, my ability to eat more food in one sitting than a truck driver twice my height & weight, and also… my ability to inhale food as if it was the last meal on earth. Honestly, I eat faster than anyone on the planet. Everyone yells at me, tells me not to rush, to enjoy it. AND I’M NOT RUSHING. I DO ENJOY EVERY DAMN BITE. I JUST EAT FAST. Get over it. I once had someone ask me if my parents were in the military, because they knew someone who grew up in a strict military house where meals were timed. No. My parents were not insane drill sergeants, and neither of them were in the military. I just friggin’ fast, okay? Sheesh.

Anyway…

Other things I get from my dad: my height (I’m 5’9″ or 5’10”, somewhere in there), my stubbornness, and I’m sure my mother could tell you many more.

My dad also likes blueberry pie (I did not inherit this).

Pie prep!

Blueberry cream pie for Father's Day! The only baking involved is the crust.

For Christmas, a guy Jay works with went and picked up a bunch of pies from this place out on Long Island called Briermere Farms. They’re known for their pies, and they’re pretty incredible I have to say. Even though the only one I’ve had so far is the chocolate cream, I’ve seen how they look & visually they look… well… they look like pies you want to dive into headfirst, basically. And the fact that they’re all natural, homemade & don’t contain nasty preservatives or fake stuff? Even better. From the website:

All of our pies, bread, muffins, cookies, cakes, jam, and jelly are made right here on our farm from scratch. There are no pre-prepared ingredients or fillings bought for use. Most of the fresh fruit used in our bakery is grown right here on our farm.

But anyway, this guy drove all the way out there with a list of pies that other guys ordered, and picked them all up, just because the pies are that good. I’m talking like 30-something pies. They’re that big of a deal. So Jay ordered us a chocolate cream pie for dessert, as well as blueberry cream pie just for my dad, since he’s such a big blueberry pie fan.

And it definitely lived up to the hype. Even Jay liked it- and he hates berries more than I do. So I thought, gee, when Father’s Day comes around next spring, I should try & duplicate that pie.

Blueberry cream pie!

And so Father’s Day is here. And who better to look to when recreating a fantastic, cream-filled pie than Paula Deen? I mean, really.

So I found Paula’s version of the blueberry cream tart, and I decided it seemed pretty damn good. Now I’m not sure if it tastes anything like the one from Briermere Farms, but my dad sure likes it. I adapted it slightly from Paula’s original recipe. And looking at this pie, I take back what I said about not being a pie person. I make a pretty awesome looking pie!

And I guess we won’t have to order this particular pie from Briermere Farms anymore.

Easy & delicious blueberry cream pie. Perfect for Father's Day or a summertime barbecue.

BLUEBERRY CREAM PIE (adapted from Paula Deen’s Blueberry Tart recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1 9-inch deep-dish pie crust
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 pint (8 oz. or roughly one cup) fresh blueberries (I used Driscoll’s*)
  • One 21-ounce can blueberry pie filling (or equivalent amount of homemade blueberry pie filling)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350° F.
  2. Make your pie crust, and press it into your pie dish, poking holes in the bottom and sides with a fork. Bake for 10-12 minutes (or as directed on the package if using frozen) until golden, then remove and let cool completely.
  3. Beat the cream cheese with the confectioners sugar. Beat the heavy cream with the granulated sugar until it forms soft peaks, then fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Add the vanilla. Fold in the fresh blueberries gently.
  4. Spoon the cream mixture into the cooled pie shell and top with blueberry pie filling. Refrigerate until well chilled.
  5. Serve to your dad & tell him to enjoy!
 *I used Driscoll’s berries because I really liked what I read about them over at Food in Jars.

Easy & delicious blueberry cream pie.

I’m sure you could probably use a cookie crust, like graham cracker, and there wouldn’t be any baking at all! You can totally make your own blueberry pie filling, and on the same note you can use a frozen pie crust if you prefer.

Yes, there are people who will tell you not to, yes there are people who’ll rip you a new one for not making your own everything… but do what’s best for you. If it’s your first pie, then take baby steps. Pie crust can be rough for a beginner (it took me a long time to get a handle on it and I still suck at fancy crusts!). Of course, this is an easy pie to start with if you’re new to pie-making: there’s relatively little to do, not a lot of baking involved, and not too much prep.

And not for nothing, I think this idea would work really well with cherries, too, and probably even raspberries.

Fresh blueberries for blueberry cream pie (and blueberry basil jam!)

And if you’re like me and you buy more fresh blueberries than you need, you can make a simple little jam, too.

I decided to create something a bit more unique than your average blueberry jam, however. An added Father’s Day bonus for dad, if you will. My friend Chrisie made blueberry basil preserves last year & ever since then I’ve been dying to do that myself. It sounded so different, like it wouldn’t work. But yet the smell of the blueberries cooking with the basil totally made sense. It’s a genius idea, really, even more so than my raspberry-jalapeño-cilantro jam.

So what I did was I took Love and Olive Oil’s recipe for blueberry basil preserves and used Food in Jar’s recipe for small-batch blueberry ginger jam and kind of made a Frankenstein monster of blueberry recipe jamminess.

Blueberry basil preserves.

SMALL-BATCH BLUEBERRY BASIL PRESERVES

Makes about 12 ounces; either one half- pint (8 oz.) + one 4 oz jar or three 4 oz. jars

Ingredients:

  • 1 dry pint fresh blueberries, washed & dried (again, I used Driscoll’s)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4-5 large basil leaves, washed & torn

Directions:

  1. Smash your blueberries a bit and place them in a bowl with the sugar. In a mortar & pestle, bruise the torn basil leaves slightly and add to the blueberries & sugar. Toss together & let sit for one hour.
  2. Meanwhile, sterilize two 8 oz. jars or one pint jar, and put the lids in hot water to soften the seal.
  3. When ready, put the fruit mixture into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for 15-25 minutes or until it passes the plate test/reaches 220° F. This might take longer or maybe even less time; it will depend on the weather, how much liquid is in the berries, the ripeness, your stove, the type of pan you use, etc.
  4. Pour into warm prepared jar(s). Wipe rims, place lids & bands, and process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.

If you’re umfamiliar with term “the plate test“, you have no idea what I mean when I say “sterilize your jars“, then click those links, and if you’re totally new to the canning thing but you desperately wanna start… then go read my post Canning for Dummies.

Blueberries are like little bombs of pectin, so I’m not sure why people always want to add more pectin to blueberry jams. They don’t need it! Let them cook down on their own. Oh, and wear a dark-colored apron when you make this. Blueberries like to attack sometimes.

Blueberry basil preserves.

4-ingredient blueberry basil preserves.

I can’t speak on the taste, but it sure looked pretty. And that pool of clear blueberry “liquid” is actually gelled, & wrinkles when pushed, so the preserves aren’t as loose-set as they appear. I tried to show in the photos that there are indeed basil leaves in there, but those suckers were hard to find. You’ll have to trust me.

Happy Father’s Day to all the awesome dad’s out there. Enjoy your day!

 Sources & credits: Longaberger black 11″ pie plate, Sur La Table marble rolling pin, vintage silverware, Ball® 8-ounce jars can be purchased at freshpreserving.com.

My new favorite thing: Snackle Mouth!

A few weeks ago, my friend & fellow blogger Xenia told me about Snackle Mouth. I had seen the pictures of it on her blog, and read her reviews of it, and I was intrigued. First off, I loved the packaging. Coolest granola packaging ever, for sure. And anytime you have bacon in anything, you win me over. So the fact they make a Bacon Maple granola? Insane. In a good way.

Snackle Mouth is a brand spankin’ new company:

Snackle Mouth® was given wings by one of the Founder’s, John Raptis. “Rapits” (his call name by virtue of the fact that there are 3 guys named “John” in the business) was really the main man. As a reformed real estate developer, he crafted a healthy, tasty, and simple granola nut snack with a high degree of clumpability. We define clumpability like so: a phenomenal flavor cluster, embodying superior taste, and made from the most simple natural and organic ingredients on the planet.

Raptis hit the lab to produce a snack with those basic snack components in mind. From his own kitchen he watched his son and friends constantly forage for food and he developed a recipe to make a snack that Moms would approve of for their children, thus, Snackle Mouth® was born.

So they may be new, but they’re pretty awesome, and they’ve got a lot going for them:

  • Combine All Natural and Organic Ingredients
  • Mix in the Best Nuts We Could Find
  • NO Refined Sugar, NO Trans-Fats, Low Glycemic
  • Cool new name, Snackle Mouth®
  • Most Fun Package Design on the Planet
  • End Result, Great Tasting Granola Nut Clusters

They’re made with naturally yummy things like fruit juice, organic dried fruit & nuts, brown rice syrup, oat bran and organic blue agave. So when James from Snackle Mouth offered to send me these goodies… you can imagine how excited I was. And am. I received a box with three varieties: the almond pecan maple, the almond berry and the peanut cranberry. See, I wasn’t lying about the awesome packaging.

After sampling each kind, I knew what I’d do first. It was really warm and kind of sticky out, so I decided to wait for a slightly cooler day to make something really awesome. In the meantime, I continued sampling.

But really… I wanted more than to just snack on it. I wanted a unique Snackle Mouth creation. So on a slightly cooler, much more overcast day, I came up with this.


And this, my friends is the pièce de résistance: a granola nut coffee cake- it’s the same principle as a coffee cake with a streusel crumb on top, except in my version there’s no streusel, just granola nut clusters. To be precise, Snackle Mouth Almond Pecan Maple granola nut clusters. Genius, right? I thought so. Except it was a little too dark. The inside stayed very moist and delicious, but the granola got a bit too caramelized. Which might have been a nice effect, especially had I been using the Bacon Maple granola. But I wasn’t, and I wanted something a little lighter and more… summery?

And it was good, trust me. Like I said, the first time the top did get a little dark, meaning the granola got a little dark too, but it didn’t deter anyone from eating it. It was still quite delicious nonetheless, and it was all gobbled up (pretty damn fast actually). But I went back to the drawing board, being the perfectionist that I am, & I came up with a revamped & better version. And that version used Almond Berry Snackle Mouth as the topping, and a cup of fresh blueberries were added into the batter before baking. It paired excellently with the berry variety of Snackle Mouth, since it’s made with blueberry juice. I made that for my father for Father’s Day (he’s a blueberry freak) and talk about a huge hit! He seriously loved it. On this one, I also smashed the granola with a hammer before using it for the topping. It came out much better, since it was in smaller pieces, obviously. You live, you learn. I had never made a coffee cake with a granola nut topping before!

So the first version was just an experiment. But the second version? Ohhh, the second version… it came out fantastical.

And now you get to reap the benefits of my trials & tribulations. Here’s the recipe for the best coffee cake ever.

BLUEBERRY COFFEE CAKE WITH ALMOND BERRY SNACKLE MOUTH GRANOLA NUT “STREUSEL”

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) plus two tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup plus two tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries (or the berry of your choice)
  • 1 box Almond Berry Snackle Mouth granola nut clusters (or the flavor of your choice)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300° F and grease an 8″-inch square baking pan. Smash the granola with a hammer until it breaks into slightly smaller pieces. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. In a larger bowl, cream butter and sugars together until fluffy. Add egg, and beat until combined. Add vanilla extract to the milk in a glass measuring cup and alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the creamed butter mixture three times, starting with and ending with the flour.
  3. Mix the berries in gently, until thoroughly combined.
  4. Spread batter into prepared baking pan. Smooth it as evenly as possible, tapping the pan on the counter a few times if necessary. Sprinkle the granola on top, until the cake is pretty well covered.
  5. Bake 50-70 minutes (depending on your oven and what kind of pan you use: glass or metal), or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool. Serve while slightly warm or at room temperature.


Perfection. My mother pronounced it the best coffee cake she ever had, and said it reminded her of one she used to eat as a child.

If you’re more health-conscious, try it using whole wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour). You could also use an agave sweetener instead of sugar, or applesauce instead of the egg. There’s tons of room to mess around with this recipe. Not to mention that if you use the Peanut Cranberry Snackle Mouth, you can use a cup of fresh cranberries in the batter, and it’d be absolutely amazing. 100% adaptable to any combination. The cake is baked at a lower temperature in a very slow oven to keep the granola in good shape; it’ll start to burn long before the cake is done, otherwise. And burnt granola isn’t what you want. If you aren’t using the granola, if you’re using regular streusel or making it plain, you could bake it at 350° F for 35-40 minutes with no problem. And I have to say, this is a really unique way to do a streusel without the hassle of making a streusel. Especially if you’re like me & your streusel-making is hit or miss. It’s fail proof and delicious, and it travels well. Great for picnics or to bring somewhere for a party or cook-out.

It’s very moist, with a perfect crumb… but it’s also a very dense cake; so just be aware that if you think you can eat that big slice, you probably can’t.

Trust me. I could barely get through one normal sized slice!


This isn’t the last you’ll see of Snackle Mouth around here. That’s all I’m sayin’… just keep your eyes peeled, if you catch my drift.

Thank you, Snackle Mouth, for letting me play with your food! Now everybody go buy some. You won’t be sorry. And of course, let’s not forget social media! Follow @SnackleMouth on Twitter and become a Snackle Mouth fan on Facebook, too!

Like a lemon to a lime, a lime to a lemon.

I don’t know if you remember, but I made another version of this pie back in December. That was the “winter” version; cranberries & cinnamon. This, however, is the summer version. Inspired by this.

Yes, sometimes I keep my lemons in a mortar & pestle…

And also inspired by MCA’s lyric in one of my favorite Beastie Boys’ songs, No Sleep ‘Till Brooklyn; “Like a lemon to a lime, a lime to a lemon, I sip the def ale with all the fine women.” As you probably know, MCA a.k.a. Adam Yauch passed away on May 4th. The Beastie Boys were always a favorite of mine, and they play a big role for me in the soundtrack of my life. I’ve got some awesome memories that match up with songs off more than just one of their albums, not to mention when I saw them back in 1998 it was one of the most fun concerts I’ve been to. Some of their songs are just sentimental favorites. I think that’s the one thing that is comforting about “famous” people passing, whether it’s John Lennon or Johnny Cash or Kurt Cobain or Mozart or Adam Yauch- the fact that they never really die. The music lives on in our memories and on records and CD’s and iTunes forever. As far as my computer is concerned, The Beatles are all alive & kicking, just like it’s 1965. But it made me really sad to hear MCA died for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that he was only 47 years old, and that he left a 14-year-old daughter. Fucking cancer. The older I get, the more I realize how young 47 is, and just how much cancer really bites the big one.

Anyway, I was listening to some Beastie Boys songs, I knew I was going to bake something up, then I heard that lyric & saw the bowl of lemons, and I got an idea. Plus, add the fact that I was going to make something for my dad, and he loves blueberries… I came up with this idea of altering the infamous crustless cranberry pie into a more summery dish. Whereas last time this pie was made with cranberries & cinnamon, blueberries & lemon zest are the two main players this time, along with the sliced almonds. You can add a bit of lemon extract just to boost the flavor, but it’s not 100% necessary (I didn’t). You could also add lime zest too, if you really like that particular lyric. Another option would to be to dollop some lemon curd on top of it over the streusel before baking. It’ll brown and bubble up and get all creamy warm, like a lemon custard. Or, you can swirl some lemon curd in it before baking, or just serve it with some lemon curd & cream. It’s not really a pie. It’s not just a cake. It’s more like a coffee cake, or cobbler. And so, a new version was born. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the Beastie Boys, but it’s just inspired by a lyric. It’s not like I wanted to create a literal interpretation of B-Boy Bouillabaisse. Although, shit. That would’ve been a great idea.

Like a lemon to a blueberry, a blueberry to a lemon, I eat the def pie with all the fine women.

Listen, I’m not a lyricist. I bake.

As you can see, streusel hates me. It always melts down into nothing. Oh well.

And just in case you’re wondering, I got that pie plate for a whopping $2.50 after Thanksgiving at Michael’s. I love the color (goes especially great with blueberries) & the large ruffle around the edge. I think collecting pie plates might be my new “thing.” I’ve only got three so far (this one, a pink one and one that was my mom’s that has a recipe for apple pie on it), but next on my list is a regular old Pyrex clear glass one. I’ve heard they’re the best for baking pies with a crust. Emile Henry makes some really nice decorative ones. Do you have a favorite pie plate?

Sorry, I got off-track there for a bit. Let’s get back to the goods.

MCA’S “LIKE A LEMON TO A BLUEBERRY” CRUSTLESS PIE (altered from the original cranberry-based recipe which was from All Recipes, also with alterations)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons set aside for topping
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole fresh blueberries (or whole frozen)
  • ½ cup sliced almonds, divided, half set aside for topping
  • ⅓ cup light brown sugar
  • zest of one whole lemon
  • ½ cup butter, melted, plus 2 tablespoons butter just softened, set aside for topping
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • drop of lemon extract (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° degrees F. Grease one 9″-inch pie pan (or 8″ x 8″ glass baking dish).
  2. Combine the 1 cup flour, white sugar, lemon zest and salt. Stir in the blueberries and half the almonds, and toss to coat. Stir in the ½ cup melted butter, beaten eggs, vanilla and lemon extracts. If you are using frozen berries, the mixture will be very thick. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the 2 tablespoons flour, 2 tablespoons softened butter & light brown sugar together to make a streusel-like topping. Sprinkle mixture on top of pie. Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup almonds on top of that, or arrange neatly if that’s your bag.
  4. Bake at 350° degrees F for 40 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean.

The coolest thing about this ‘pie’ is exactly the fact that it’s not really a pie. It’s called a ‘crustless pie’ but you can call it anything you want. It’s like a zombie-pie-cobbler-coffee-cake. It doesn’t even require a pie crust! But even cooler than that- you can eat it any time of day. Because of the fruit-y aspect & the nuts, you can eat a slice for breakfast just as easily as for dessert (with some whipped cream or ice cream). And depending on how you make it, you might make it more breakfast-y or more dessert-y. Use whole wheat flour or add some oats for a totally different spin. And another amazing thing? You can use any fruit or berries in it, any kind of nuts, any kind of extract and zest.

Some other ideas include:

  • Blackberries & raspberries with almonds
  • Chopped strawberries with lemon zest & sliced strawberries & almonds arranged on top before baking
  • Peach slices with vanilla beans & chopped pecans
  • Chopped pineapple with Macadamia nuts & orange zest
  • Cranberries with cinnamon, walnuts & steel cut oats
  • Mango with flaked coconut, coconut extract, lime zest & pine nuts
  • Dried cherries with dark & white chocolate chips & walnuts
  • Banana slices with chocolate chips
  • Raisins & golden raisins with cinnamon, nutmeg, chopped walnuts & steel cut oats- “Oatmeal cookie pie”
  • Chocolate chunks with chopped hazelnuts & marshmallows (minus the streusel)- “Rocky Road pie”

Of course, some of those aren’t 100% seasonally appropriate right now, but that’s up to you. You could even mix some marmalade in with the batter, then top it with some chopped or sliced nuts, then brush it with more marmalade right out of the oven (so it gets all melty like a glaze) and make a sort of marmalade-pie-cobbler-whatever. Honestly, it’s so easy, and it’s so easy to change it up that you can totally do anything with it. You can tinker with it ’till your hearts content. Plus, it’s basically the perfect last-minute picnic or barbecue dessert. It takes no time to make,  doesn’t even require a mixer, travels well & a trained monkey could do it. Or someone who’s been drinking some Brass Monkey. Whatever. It’s easy, trust me. Blast some Ill Communication and get on that shit!

Rest in peace, Adam.

“He who sees the end from the beginning of time
Looking forward through all the ages:
Is, was, and always shall be.”

“B-Boy Bouillabaisse (A Year And A Day),” Paul’s Boutique

I found my thrill on blueberry hill.

I know, you’re probably like “What the fuck is with all the berries lately!?” Well I’ve been taking a lot of requests, that’s what. Also, berries are in season now so they’re everywhere I go. And being that 4th of July weekend was so hot & humid it was impossible to bake without dying, I opted to make some other treats that didn’t require an oven, just a stove-top, which is far easier to deal with. In the new Real Simple magazine, there’s a recipe for a quick blueberry jam, and since I had such success with the rhubarb-ginger one, I thought I’d give it a go. My canning kit had arrived by this time, but I wanted to make something really easy and not a huge batch of anything- I didn’t really want to be in the kitchen all day. Well that and I was lazy.

My parents are big blueberry people. Not blueberry people like Violet Beauregarde, blueberry people as in they like blueberries. My parents aren’t blue or round or anything. They look normal. They are normal, I mean. Well as normal as they can be, they did create me. My dad is actually the bigger blueberry person, remember when he requested blueberry cupcakes in January when they aren’t in season? I do. I had to buy frozen or pay 6 million dollars for a pint. But both of them do enjoy those little blue orbs that stain everything including your teeth. I did make those blueberry muffins for my mother, after all. So I figured why the hell not make some of this for 4th of July weekend/my mom’s birthday since the blueberries in my fruit market were humongous & absolutely gorgeous (and the raspberries & blackberries were buy one get one free- but that was already talked about!).

That is not a muffin. That is jam.

Speaking of blueberries, I recently, on a bit of a whim, bought a blueberry bush. Vaccinium Corymbosum, or Northern highbush blueberry to be exact, also known as blue huckleberry, tall huckleberry, swamp huckleberry, high blueberry, and swamp blueberry. It was on sale for 50% off and there were only 2 left, so I grabbed one. Of course I’m not expecting a harvest this year, but certainly next year I ought to end up with a few. I bought it more as a novelty than anything else; I think it’s a cool thing to have. If I get some fruit, then awesome, if not… oh well. For $4.50 it’s worth a shot, though it needs a little TLC (some browning leaves, etc). I’m also looking forward to seeing the leaves change to “a brilliant red” in the fall. It’s in a medium sized pot for now, I’m debating whether or not to plant it in a bigger pot or in the ground. I’m leaning towards a larger pot. Let’s see how it fares after this winter.

Just call me “Tall Huckleberry Finn”, a.k.a. the girl who adopts lonely plants…

Alright so basically, this jam was just as easy as the rhubarb-ginger jam, and just as tasty. Super quick & simple… and it lasts up to a month in the fridge! Save your jars, people. Every jar you buy, make sure it’s rinsed & cleaned out thoroughly so it’s odor-free & sparkly and then save ‘em. You can make loads of stuff like this to fill them, but they’re also great just for storage; nails, screws, paper clips, beads, nuts & bolts, etc. But you can also use regular Ball jars that you’d use for canning, or buy jars like the one above in a place like Williams-Sonoma (glass, like mine in the picture) or Bed Bath & Beyond (plastic, like this one). My great-grandmother never, ever used a plastic anything. She saved every glass jar and stored her leftover food in them, and even used them as drinking glasses, which is an idea I love. Maybe she was on to something?

I’m pretty sure that with the lemon juice this is safely acidic for canning, but don’t quote me on that. I’m a newbie. Either way, I’m sure it can be made into a canned blueberry jam quite easily, and not with much more hullabaloo. But did you ever have a day where you just didn’t want to make any effort further than the very basic one? Yeah. That was me the (sweltering, blistering, scorchingly hot) day I made this. Like I said, lazy. And very hot & sweaty.

EASY BLUEBERRY JAM

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups blueberries (about 2 ½ pints)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients in a medium saucepan and using a potato masher or wooden spoon, mash blueberries until they release their juices.
  2. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 18-25 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, transfer to containers, and refrigerate for up to 1 month or freeze up to 1 year.

This recipe can also be made with frozen blueberries instead of fresh; just buy two 10-ounce bags and cook them for 2-3 minutes before mashing, then reduce the total cooking time to 15-17 minutes.  I will say this about the cooking though… be ye ever so careful of the splatters. Don’t wear a white apron or a white t-shirt while making it. But other than that, it’s so easy, really a trained monkey could do it. So do it.

Here’s a dollop of it on some of that French vanilla ice cream I made. You could even mix it into vanilla ice cream while it’s in the ice cream maker to make a blueberry-vanilla ice cream.

Seriously, go try it. I’ve heard it’s insanely good for a 5 minute recipe. You can have it on ice cream, an English muffin, spread it on a delicious scone or piece of bread and sing this song with Fats Domino…