Friday, November 28, 2014

Best Fresh Berry Pies Ever

I've made this with blueberries and with strawberries, and both pies all times blew everyone away.  This is the kind of stuff pie dreams are made of. 

Adapted from



  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt and water until smooth. Add 3 cups berries. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until thickened and bubbly (hangs onto your spoon and viscously drips off of it--pretty syrupy), about 3 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat. Add butter, lemon juice and remaining berries; stir until butter is melted. Cool. Pour into pastry shell. Refrigerate until serving. Yield: 8 servings. 
Serve with whipped cream, of course.

The Best Chocolate Pie Ever

I have used so many times for this particular pie that I now need it to be eternally in my own recipe archives.  Just in case.

Adapted from

The Basic Gist
1. Make wafers.
2. While wafers dry/rest/get sampled in your mouth (they are so good!), make pudding.
3. When pudding is set and/or being sampled in your mouth (the pudding is outrageously delicious!), crumble wafers and make pie crust.
4. After crust cools, put pudding in crust.
5. Make whipped cream.
6. Put on top of pie.
7. Eat and die in bliss.

1. Chocolate Wafers:
(adapted from Bubby's Homemade Pies)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa
11/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt; set aside. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until incorporated. On low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients, mixing well after each addition. Shape the dough into a 2-inch-diameter log. Wrap it well and chill completely—at least two hours.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Slice the dough into 1/8-inch slices and place them 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake them for 8 to 10 minutes, until they smell good and remain firm when lifted with a spatula. 
Cool the cookies on a wire rack, uncovered, overnight or until they are completely dry and wafer-like.
Us a food processor to crumb the cookies or put the cookies in a resealable plastic bag and press the air out before sealing. Roll over the bag of cookies with a rolling pin until they form fine crumbs. 

2. Chocolate Filling
(Adapted from Gourmet Magazine 2004)
2/3 cup sugar (feel free to sub maple syrup for some or all of this--it's delicious)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
3 cups whole milk
5 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, and yolks in a 3-quart heavy saucepan until combined well, then add milk in a stream, whisking. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking, then reduce heat and simmer, whisking, 1 minute (filling will be thick).

Force filling through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, then whisk in chocolates, butter, and vanilla. The pudding should still be warm hot enough to melt the chocolate. Cover surface of filling with plastic wrap (make sure there are no air bubbles between the pudding and the plastic wrap) and cool completely, about 2 hours.

3. Pie Crust

2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, chopped
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
Stir together crumbs, chocolate, and sugar. Pour hot melted butter over the top and combine (The butter will melt the chocolate). Firmly press onto the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Bake for 15 minutes and before cooling on rack, use the back of a spoon to press the hot crust back up the sides of the pan. Cool completely.

4. Spoon filling into crust and chill pie, loosely covered, at least 6 hours.

5 and 6. Just before serving, beat cream in a bowl using an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks add vanilla and sugar and spoon on top of pie.
Sprinkle chocolate flakes on top of pie (optional).

7. Eat and die in bliss.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

White Bean Chili

It's time.  I've searched through my email for "white bean chili sara" long enough.  This recipe belongs on this blog.

In honor of the excellent Sara formerly Smoot, who recently nuptialized to my great happiness.  To you, your new husband, and your great chili!

White Bean Chili
1 lg onion
3 cans chicken broth
3 cups of chicken (I used two frozen chicken breast; I have no idea how many cups it is)
2 t. oregano (or more--to taste)
4 t. cumin
1 t. cayenne pepper
6-8 cloves garlic or 1.5 t. garlic powder
1 7-oz. can diced green chilies
3 cans white beans
1 cup sour cream (or greek yogurt, of course)
3 cups grated monterey jack cheese (or meltable cheese of your choice, preferably white)
Cook chicken, onion, spices, and broth on high for 3-4 hours (in a crockpot).  Shread chicken, and add the rest-- chilies, beans, sour cream, and cheese.  Cook for another 45 mins, and it is done!
I've also had a lot of success making this on the stove, with varying proportions of things (e.g., much less cheese) and a lot of guessing, in less than an hour (with pre-cooked chicken, I think, like rotisserie).  SO so good.  Really good.  Feel free to season to taste, but do NOT omit the sour cream/greek yogurt.  For whatever reason, that's the kicker.  I often serve it with fresh cilantro and fresh tomatoes.  Tonight I served it over rice.  So good. 

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Texas Sheet Cake-Tastic

I adapted this from Our Best Bites, and I have to say--it is really, really good.  Or at least this batch was/is.  I hope it works out again.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 11 x 17 inch jelly roll pan (a cookie sheet with sides).

Combine 1/2 C butter, 1/2 C coconut oil, 2 ounces baking chocolate, and 1 C water in a small saucepan.  Heat until chocolate is melted.  Add in 1/4 C cocoa powder; stir until well mixed.

In a small bowl, combine 2 C flour and 1 t baking soda.

In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 C coconut sugar, 1 C agave, 1/2 C buttermilk (or sour raw milk, as I used), 2 eggs, 1 generous t cinnamon, and 1 t vanilla.  Combine with chocolate mixture.  Add flour mixture and mix very well.  Pour into pan and bake 15-20 minutes or until a pick comes out clean.  (You want it to look set but still moist.)  Five minutes before cake is done, making frosting.

Combine 6 T milk, 2-3 ounces baking chocolate, 1/2 C coconut oil, 1/4-1/2 C agave (sweeten to taste), 1/4 t salt (salt to taste), and 1 t cinnamon in a medium-large saucepan.  Heat until bubbles form around the edge.  Remove from heat and add 1 C (approx) of finely shredded or grated unsweetened coconut and 1 t vanilla.  Stir until well mixed.  While icing is still warm, pour over cake.

Definitely serve with milk.  (Or vanilla ice cream!)

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Whole Wheat Biscuits

I made the below biscuits for breakfast on Saturday.  And you know what?  They were perfect and easy.  Turns out, with enough butter, even 100% whole wheat biscuits can be light, fluffy, fast, and flake-tastic.

I found this recipe just by googling.  Sometimes the internet really provides.

Super Easy Whole Wheat Biscuits
Serves: 8-10 Biscuits
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 1 cup milk (any kind)
  1. In a medium sized bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well with whisk or fork.
  2. Cut the ½ stick butter into little pea-sized pieces and then mix the pieces into the flour mixture.
  3. Using a fork, try to mash the butter pieces as you mix it together with the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs. It is okay if the outcome just looks like the same pea-sized pieces of butter covered with flour.
  4. Then pour in the milk and mix it all together. Knead the dough with your hands 8 to 10 times and then turn out onto a counter or cutting board.
  5. Pat it out flat with your hands until the dough is a somewhat even ¾-inch thickness (sprinkle with a little flour if necessary).
  6. Turn a drinking glass upside down and cut out biscuit rounds.
  7. Then put them on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes or until lightly browned.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

The Christian Tent

With the recent release of the movie "Mitt" (available on Netflix), by the man who did "New York Doll" (a truly awesome film and one of my two favorite documentaries), I've been reflecting on the-Mormons-and-the-media-years of 2011-2012.  I suspect that Mormons will be in and out of the media limelight for the rest of forever, but those were two critical and high-profile years.  In retrospect, I am grateful for the way so many non-Mormons stood up for the LDS community and our place as part of the religious fabric of this country.  I was particularly glad to hear people say things publicly that we have been trying for years to get others to hear.  This line from the Economist comes to mind: "Mormons have always professed their faith to be Christian, and there is a consensus, I think, that they believe themselves to be so. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, the profession of faith should be enough." 

I love the teachings of Jesus, in particular His undogged efforts to teach His disciples about how wide His tent is.  He went out of His way to reach out to those that God-fearing people intentionally shunned--the Samaritans, the publicans, the adulterous, the leprous.  I love that when the disciples wanted to bring fire down to destroy a town that had not allowed the Savior to stay there, Jesus explained that that was not His style.  "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of," He said. "For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them." (Luke 9:55-56.)  Shortly thereafter (if we assume Luke was written chronologically), Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan.  I like to think that, in addition to answering the lawyer's question, He was telling that specific parable also to His disciples, knowing that they too needed to learn again of His ways and His power--that he came to heal and to care for and to include.  I know that Jesus looks upon sin with no degree of allowance, but I also believe that He will run to anyone and everyone who turns to Him.  When we turn to Him and truly repent, He takes our sins from us.  And we don't need His allowance for sin (He does not allow it--He washes it away!) because we have His mercy and His grace. 

As a Mormon, I may not worship and pray the same way that other Christians do (although my non-Mormon friends who've come to church with me have often been surprised at how traditional the services are), and I may not envision God the same way that other Christians do.  But I treasure the words of Christ.  I know that He is the Son of God and my Savior.  Without Him, I would not have anything--not this beautiful world to live in, not the hope of peace in this life or the next, not the ability to repent for what I've done wrong or to be healed from what I and others have done to me.  I believe that, just as He reaches out, welcomes, and heals me, He wants me to reach out, welcome, and heal others, openly and generously.  And I'm trying to (most days).  I believe that is what Christians do.  I am a Christian, and I'm trying to be a good Christian.  And I feel keenly that Christ is helping me serve others in His name.  I am glad there are others who hear my profession of faith--and that of other Mormons--and open their tents to welcome us in.