Thursday, March 6, 2014

Blackberry Pie Bars

I came across this recipe a few months back, and made it for my peeps at work.  Everyone raved, so I figured it was a total remaker.  So last week, we were invited to an appetizer and game party night at a friends, and I quickly decided that these would fit the bill.  I'm sure that fresh berries would work in place of the frozen variety, when they are in season.

Blackberry Pie Bars


Crust and Topping
3 cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups sugar
¼ tsp salt
1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled

Fruit Filling
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
¾ cup flour
pinch salt
zest of ½ lemon
1 tsp almond extract
2 (16-oz) packages frozen blackberries, thawed and drained


To make the crust and topping, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse a few times to mix.  Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes, and add to the flour mixture.  Process until the butter is evenly distributed but the mixture is still crumbly, 30-60 seconds.

Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the mixture to use as the topping.  Press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the pan, and bake 12-15 minutes.  Cool for at least 10 minutes.

To make the filling, whisk the eggs in a large bowl, then add the sugar, sour cream, flour, salt, lemon zest, and almond extract.  Gently fold in the berries and spoon the mixture over the crust.  Sprinkle the remaining flour mixture evenly over the filling, and bake 45 to 55 minutes.

Adapted from

Blood Orange Marmalade

Last year Craig and I set out to make canned good as Christmas presents. Well, we achieved our goal by making Bread and Butter Pickles, Honeycrisp Apple Jelly and Butter, Pineapple Chutney, Blueberry Lime Jam, Boysenberry Jam and Marionberry Jam, not to mention some Fig Spread from donated figs from a good friend. So this year, I thought let's do this again, with a few different canned goods.

Today marks the first of many canning projects this year.  With a great sale and a limited season, I jumped on a few pounds of Blood Oranges, also known as Tarocco, native to Italy, Sanguinello, native to Spain, and the Moro, which is the newest variety of the three, and the most common in the area we live.

Blood Oranges are a variety of orange with crimson, almost-blood-colored flesh. The fruit is smaller than an typical orange its skin is usually more pitted, but can also be smooth. The distinctive dark flesh color is due to the presence of antioxidant pigments common to many flowers and fruit, but uncommon in citrus fruits.  The flesh develops its characteristic maroon color when the fruit develops with low temperatures during the night.  Sometimes there is dark coloring on the exterior of the rind as well, depending on the variety of blood orange. The skin can be tougher and harder to peel than that of other oranges.  While all oranges are likely of hybrid origin between the pomelo and the tangerine, blood oranges originated as a mutation of the sweet orange.  In Europe, the Arancia Rossa di Sicilia (Red Orange of Sicily) has Protected Geographical Status.

So here is the recipe I used for this marmalade:

Blood Orange Marmalade
Yield 16, 1/2 pint jars

12 cups of chopped blood oranges (approximately 16 oranges)
5 cups sugar
1 cup liquid (orange juice, water, or some combination of the two)
1 lemon, juiced
2 packet liquid pectin (use two if you like a more jellied consistency)

Sterilize your jars in your preferred manner.

Put fruit, sugar, liquid and lemon juice in a 4-quart, non-reactive pot and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and cook at a simmer for 10-15 minutes (you want it to look syrup-y and shiny). Bring back to a boil and add pectin. Stir to combine and let bubble for 2-3 minutes.

Remove marmalade from head and ladle into jars. Wipe the rims and threads of the jars with a cloth dipped into your sterilization water and apply lids and bands. Put into water bath and process for ten minutes.

(Adapted from Food In Jars)

Teriyaki Grilled Chicken

Teriyaki has always been one of my favorite meals to go out for. Usually lunch, but on a rare occasion dinner. 

It's not fancy food, and in the Seattle area they are like Starbucks, 2 on every corner. And each shop is just a little different than the last one. This one might have Chicken Katsu, that one might have a thicker sauce.....the differences go on and on. Well I've tried to make teriyaki at home and it's good, but jut not the same, until last nights creation.  

Remember to keep food safe. If you'd like the teriyaki sauce to serve over the ice be sure to reserve some before marinating the chicken. Also when grilling the chicken I baste one side while the other is cooking, flip and baste once then stop using the marinade. 

Always check the temperature of your chicken, with a food grade thermometer, to ensure it is cooked. At 160°F, the chicken is 100% cooked, but will still be a little pink. If you want a less pink aim for 170°-180°  But remember the higher the temperature, the dryer the chicken. I typically cook my chicken to about 165°, and allow to rest before cutting. The chicken will continue to cook a little one it's off the grill. So the pinkness will go away, but the meat is still juicy. 

Teriyaki Grilled Chicken

3 pounds chicken thigh meat, boneless, skinless and fat removed 
2 cups soy sauce,( I use pearl river light soy sauce, not really a reduced sodium, but lighter in texture)
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1 bunch green onions reserve some for garnish later
1/4 cup sweet onion finely chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk (optional, I left out because I didn't have any!)

Trim chicken of any fat. 
In a large bowl, mix soy sauce, water, brown sugar, onions, garlic, sesame oil, and coconut milk. Mix well and pull 3/4 cup aside, BEFORE MEXT STEP. 
Place chicken in marinade and let sit for at least four hours, overnight is preferred. (If you opt for chicken breasts, I would definitely say over night is best to ensure the flavor is greatly absorbed)
Grill chicken until chicken is cooked through, switching sides half way through. Basting chicken with marinade while cooking. Stop using marinade after you flip the chicken. This is for food safety concerns. The marinade has chicken juices in it and you want to cook the chicken and sauce thoroughly before serving. Do not reuse the marinade. 

Serve over rice, garnished with green onions and pour reserved marinade over rice. 

Optional rice variance: To make coconut rice: Replace half of the water in your rice recipe with coconut milk.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Shrimp Scampi Pasta

I'm not sure how many of you are like me, but once I get to thinking about something it overwhelms me.  Luckily for me this blog is an outlet, but sometimes it a curse.  Like this post for Shrimp Scampi Pasta.  When I saw a version of this recipe, I put it on the menu, that though, hum...I wonder what make a shrimp a shrimp, and what makes a shrimp a prawn....I wonder if everyone knows why their lumped in to numbers like 26-30 or the OCD in my took over and at 3 am, I found myself reading all I could find about Shrimp or is it Prawns?

First off let me start by saying, the rest of the world (Non USA) call them prawns, and it is undetermined when the term shrimp came into use.  But go figure it was the English who are credited with first using the term.  That being some of the information I found, there really is a difference between Shrimp and Prawns.

The names "shrimp" and "prawn" are often used interchangeably. Understandably so. Shrimp and prawns have tons in common. They are both crustaceans, they both have 10 legs, they are both found in salt and fresh water, and they both live near the floor of whatever body of water they inhabit.
Yet, biologically speaking, they are different animals. Things labeled prawns are often larger, but aren't necessarily true prawns. And plenty of shrimp aren't shrimpy in size at all.

Want to get really confused? Some "prawns" - such as spot prawns - are biologically shrimp, and some "shrimp" - notably ridgeback shrimp - are technically prawns. So what is the difference?

Shrimp have branching gills, a side plate that overlays segments in front and behind, and carry their eggs outside of their bodies beneath their tails.

Prawns have lamellar gills, side plates that overlap tile-like from front to back, and carry their eggs inside their bodies near their tails.

In short, while shrimp and prawns are not the same, they are interchangeable in the kitchen. So choose your shrimp or prawns based on how they taste, what size you want, and if they've been caught or raised in an environmentally responsible way.

Shell on or shell off?

If the prawns are shell-on, you'll need to peel them. This can be done before or after cooking, but peeling them after cooking makes for a juicier, more flavorful prawn,  I prefer to peel them, and I like my food user friendly!

Turn the prawn over and pull the shell open along the length of the belly, working from the head end downwards, prying it open so that you can pull the prawn free.  I take the tail off as well, for this recipe.

Once the shell is off, check to see if there is a black line running down the back of the prawn. This is the intestinal tract - if it's black, it's full. It's not harmful to eat, but the prawn looks better without it, and it can be a bit gritty. Removing it is called 'deveining'. Using a small, sharp knife, make a shallow cut along the length of the black line, then lift it out using the tip of the knife.

Shrimp Scampi Pasta

1 pound of Prawns/shrimp (I used 26-30)
1 cube (1/4lb) unsalted butter
2 cloves of garlic, mashed, pressed or minced (however you like!)
Zest of 1/2 of a lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
Red pepper flakes
Salt and Pepper
1 lb Linguini, cooked according to package (or pasta of your choice)

Prep shrimp, peel and devein, set aside.
Boil and drain pasta, set aside
In hot pasta pan, heat butter, lemon zest, juice, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  When butter is hot, sauté shrimp until pink, toss in pasta, and stir. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.

Serve hot, and garnish with parmesan and a sprinkle of bread crumbs, if you choose.