Tomato Basil Tapas

There are very few things in life more delightful than the tomato, basil, fresh mozarella combination. I came up with this simple little summer treat a few days ago, and I cannot stop thinking about how yummy it was. Next time I have an appetizer assignment, this is going to be the one.

1 package fresh mozarella
2 cloves fresh garlic
4 Roma tomatoes
4 T. Pesto
2 T. Balsamic vinegar
1 loaf Italian Pugliesse bread

Evenly slice the Italian bread and toast at 400 degrees in the over for about eight minutes. Set aside to cool.

Using an egg slicer, slice the fresh mozarella into small dices. This is simpler than it sounds. Quarter the fresh mozarella log into four chunks, then softly slice it into even slices with the egg slicer. Next turn the slices to slice into strips, then turn once again to slice into tiny cubes. Easy.

Next, slice the tops off of the tomatoes and squeeze the guts and seeds out. This will keep your topping from being overly runny. After you have gutted the tomatoes, finely dice them and toss them into the bowl with the fresh mozarella. Press the garlic cloves into the mixture, then sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper. Add the pesto and balsamic vinegar and gently toss it all together.

Scoop healthy spoonfuls onto the toasted bread and enjoy your light summer treat.


Blueberry Sour Cream Pie

I love pie. I love making pie, and I love to eat pie. Sadly, the natives don’t really enjoy pie with me, so I rarely make it, if only to prevent myself from eating pie for days on end. As luck would have it, the Relief Society for my local congregation wanted to hold a pie class for the ladies and I volunteered to talk a bit about pie. I was also asked to bring a pie, which ended up turning into me baking two pies. I know.

So, I decided to go for the gold medal and make the blueberry sour cream pie I had about 10 years ago at Mom’s cafe in Salina Utah. It was so good, and I’ve googled and searched and cannot find a recipe for anything like it. So I decided to figure i out on my own.

1 Pie Crust

4 cups of fresh blueberries

3/4 cup of sugar

1 t. ground ginger

3 T. of cornstarch

4 T. butter

Rinse the blueberries and check for stems in a large colander. In a small bowl toss the sugar, ginger, and cornstarch together.  Once the blueberries have drained, pour into a large bowl and toss with the sugar, ginger, and cornstarch until well coated. Eat some. It’s delicious.

Roll a single pie crust out and place it into a pie dish. Pour the coated blueberries into the pie crust, then top with the butter cut into eighths.

Bake at 425 degrees for about 60 minutes. When it comes out, put it into the fridge or freezer to speed the cooling process.

For the topping

1 cup whipping cream

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup of sugar

1 t. vanilla

Using a mixer, beat all four ingredients until it becomes creamy like whipped cream and then store it in the fridge until your pie is cooled. Once the pie has cooled to the touch on the bottom center of the pie pan, top with the sour cream whipped cream and put back into the fridge. The longer it sets up in the fridge the better, ideally a good 12 hours. You can eat it sooner, don’t be afraid. It may be a bit runny though, which is also kind of yummy.

It’s so delicious. I am very happy with how this experiment turned out. So next time you find yourself looking at a carton of beautiful fresh blueberries at the store you will have the perfect use for them on a Sunday afternoon.


Pie Crust

First, a pie crust. Pie crust is simple.

2 cups flour

1 t. salt

1 T. sugar

1 cup shortening

1 egg

1 t. apple cider vinegar

3-4 T. cold water

Crack the egg into a small bowl. Add the vinegar to the egg and gently whip them together. In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt, and sugar. then plop the shortening in the bowl (it does NOT have to be measured perfectly, just approximate). Using a pastry blender (or a couple of butter knives) start “cutting” the shortening into the flour. It will become more and more of a clumpy grainy texture as you cut it in, and that is the idea. You are creating little flour coated balls of shortening so that when you roll your crust out it will smash the little balls together, which will turn into a flaky wonderland when baked. So imagine making little tiny balls of shortening that are coated in flour to smash into a big flaky mess. Yum. Once it is cut in and the little pieces are smaller than peas,you will add in the egg and vinegar mixture. Finally, it is time to add the water. You want COLD water to prevent the shortening balls from melting or becoming too soft, again for the flakiness. add the cold water and very gently fold it into the dough until a loose and clumpy ball of dough comes together. be careful not to really “mix it” into a dough because again, it will hurt the little balls of shortening. It sounds hard, but it really truly isn’t. Just be gentle with it and mindful of the texture and you’re well on your way.

Once the clumpy soft ball comes together it’s time to roll it out. this recipe makes two pie crusts, perfect for two open faced pies, or one pie with a top crust as well.


Italian Cream Pasta Sauce

Do you love cream sauces with pasta? This is for you.

2 T. butter
2 T. flour
1 clove garlic, pressed
2 C. Whole milk (or cream)
1/2 C. Mozarella
1/2 C. fresh Mozarella, diced 
1/2 C. Parmesan Cheese
1 diced Roma tomato
1 T. Pesto
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1/4 t. crushed red pepper
1/2 t. Kosher salt 

1 Box penne pasta, cooked per package instructions

In large skillet, melt butter with garlic, then whisk with flour to make a thick paste. Slowly whisk in milk (or cream).  Once whisked in, add the Mozarella, Parmesan, tomato, pesto, vinegar, crushed red pepper, and salt. Allow to lightly boil until a nice smooth sauce forms. Toss with cooked penne pasta.


Chicken Margherita

You know when four o’clock hits, and you still aren’t sure what to make for dinner? I did that today. I was lounging around on the couch after my Jillian Michael’s workout not wanting to move. Then I remembered that I had fresh mozarella, pesto, and tomatoes waiting for me in the fridge.

Which left me feeling excited, and confused. Because suddenly, the possibilities seemed endless.
If you have never purchased fresh mozarella, then you are missing out on one of life’s great culinary pleasures. Mixed with good pesto, garlic, tomato, and balsamic vinegar it is divine.
1 recipe for Balsamic Baked Chicken balsamic sauce prepped
3 chicken breasts, thawed
6 oz. fresh mozarella diced (Use an egg slicer and slice it three different directions to get a perfect dice easily)
2 Roma tomatoes diced
2 T. fresh Pesto (I buy mine in the fresh foods section at Costco, it’s the best pesto I have found)
1/2 t. kosher salt

In 9×13 baking dish prep Balsamic Chicken sauce and set aside.  Lightly combine the mozarella, Roma tomatoes, pesto and kosher salt. Take thawed chicken breasts and lightly slice into the side, creating a deep pocket in the meat. Stuff the meat to the brim with the pesto mixture and place into the baking dish, careful turning to coat with the balsamic sauce. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, then bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. I reserved my left over pesto mixture for a pasta side dish, it was awesome.
This will serve two adults and four children. If you need more, plan to double the recipe.
For easy variations, you can bake the balsamic chicken without stuffing it, and top with the fresh pesto mixture.

Cheese Enchiladas

Oh, how I love red sauces. This is another one of those sauces that I could drink.

Red Sauce:

1 cup water
1 T. butter
1/4 cup dried onion
1 t. garlic powder
2 T. chili powder
1 t. cumin
1 small can tomato puree
1-2 t. salt (to taste)

Combine in a saucepan and bring to a boil for five minutes. Set aside.

Enchiladas:

Corn Tortillas
4 Cups shredded cheese (Cheddar or a Mexican style blend)

To assemble, pour 1/3 of the sauce into the bottom of a 9X13 pan. Layer the corn tortillas across the sauce, then top evenly with cheese, reserving 1 cup for the top. Then layer more corn tortillas and smother with sauce, followed by reserved cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

Serve with shredded lettuce and sour cream, and beans and rice.


White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

I confess, I was a bit overly ambitious this weekend. I purchased the ingredients to make this recipe after hearing it’s praises on Facebook. Then I was reminded that it would by my mom’s birthday on Sunday, so of course I volunteered to make that cake. Being that my oldest daughter loves cheesecake I couldn’t simply ditch it without causing a lot of weeping and whailing and gnashing of teeth. So I made them both. But this is only for the cheesecake. Find the original recipe here.

For the crust:
2/3 package of oreo cookies
2 T. sugar
1/4 C. butter

Process the above ingredients together until fine crumbs are formed. Then press into the bottom of a spring form pan. Set aside.

For the cheesecake:

1 package white chocolate chips
1 cup whipping cream
3 Packages cream cheese
3 eggs
1/4 C. of sugar
1 t. vanilla

In microwave safe cup, heat cream until nearly boiling. Pour over white chocolate chips, and set aside. In mixer, cream together cream cheese, eggs, 1/4 c. sugar, and vanilla. Now, stir the cream/white chocolate mixture until it becomes very creamy, almost like thick pancake batter. Pour the cream/white chocolate into the cream cheese mixture and quickly mix into the batter.

For the Raspberry Swirl:
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 T. cornstarch

In large saucepan, boil water, raspberries, sugar, and cornstarch until smooth and becomes syrup like. Set aside.

In spring form pan, pour half of the cheesecake batter. Drizzle heavily with raspberry sauce, then top with remaining cream cheese mixture, then drizzle some more raspberry sauce. Swirl through batter with knife to marble the cheesecake.

Bake at 325 degrees for 55-60 minutes. When out of the oven, run knife around edges and then refrigerate while prepping the remaining topping.

For the ganache topping:
1 cup cream
1/2 cup chocolate chips

In large bowl, microwave cream until nearly boiling, then pour chocolate chips into hot cream and allow to soften, then stir until a thick creamy chocolate sauce forms. Pour this over the baked cheesecake and then set it in the fridge.

Right before serving, whip remaining cream with powdered sugar to make whipped cream. Spread evenly over the cheesecake.