CSA Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

When you get rhubarb in your CSA box, what is the most logical thing to make? Pie, of course! This pie is not too sweet, a bit sticky and oh so good. I happened to have an extra pie crust sitting in the freezer from our last pie (I always make a double batch even when I only need one…might as well make the mess once!). That meant a list minute dinner party with the family could be finished with this beautiful summery pie. Strawberry rhubarb pie is always a bit runnier than I want it to be, but I think if I had let it rest long enough, this would have been perfect. The flavor was just tart enough to be perfect for an ice cream topping. This is a bit of a baking by feel recipe. I got some reinforcement from a family friend who knows her way around a pie! She said, “I can’t give you exact amounts of fruit, just enough to fill the crust!” Try this one for a great summer treat!


Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

1 pie crust


4 Stalks Rhubarb, Chopped

8-10 Strawberries, Halved or Quartered

½ cup sugar (adjust to the sweetness of your fruit)

Juice and Zest of 1 Lemon

2 T flour



1 T vanilla

Pinch of Salt


3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup cold butter, cubed

Preheat oven to 400° and prebake the pie shell for 10 minutes. Set aside.

In a saucepan, combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, lemon zest, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla. Cook until the fruit releases juice and becomes bubbly. Combine flour and lemon juice to make a slurry. Slowly add the slurry to the sauce and stir into the fruit until thickened to desired consistency. Pour into pastry shell.

For topping, in a small bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar and butter combine with your fingers until crumbly. Sprinkle over fruit.

Place pie on a baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° bake for 35 minutes longer or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool on a wire rack.

Serve with ice cream and enjoy!

Summer Mixed Grill

One of the things that has always been a staple in our house is the mixed grill. As a kid, I remember my mom shopping on Sunday for the week and picking up veggies, fish, chicken and steak to cook that night. We always ate the fish the first night and set the chicken and steak aside for later in the week. The brilliance of this is that you can use the meat for anything! It could be as is with some veggies, or reworked into something like tacos, or pasta. It makes things so easy for planning and you can save yourself time on work nights. This is also a great thing to do for a group or a party as we did here. Throw in the veggies from the CSA box, and you are good to go. Everyone gets what they like and there are always leftovers! Buy whatever is fresh or on sale and throw it all together on the grill; the perfect summer dinner solution!


Mixed Grill

CSA Salad: Fresh lettuce, arugula, herbs, diced tomatoes and radishes, tossed with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Tuna steaks marinated in Soy Vey Teriyaki grilled to medium.

Chicken legs grilled and basted with Grumpy’s BBQ sauce.

Teriyaki and pineapple sausage from Whole Foods…super delish!

Baby CSA artichokes steamed and drizzled with olive oil, pink flake salt and freshly cracked pepper.

CSA root veggies sautéed with onions in butter, then sherry vinegar to deglaze.




P.S. Up next is our CSA dessert: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie!

First CSA of the Season!

We got our first box of CSA veggies from Red Wagon Farms!

Here’s what our first CSA box looked like after a tiny bit of cleaning…

Included in the pack was Egyptian walking onions, Easter egg radishes, green garlic, spinach, sorrel, and arugula.

So tonight, I’m home alone and decided on a lush salad after working out.

Springtime Salad

Arugula one handful


½ Green Onion

Green Garlic leaves

From the fridge:


Grilled red and yellow peppers, chopped


1T Lemon Aioli

2T Greek yogurt


Mix the lemon aioli with the yogurt, salt and pepper

Toss in the bottom of a bowl and mix with the veggies. Top with Fried Chicken from Niwot Market and enjoy! I know not exactly the healthiest choice but at least I have the greens to counter act the fried chix. Plus I removed the skin, so it’s not that bad. Next time I’ll prepare better.

I’m happy to have my fridge filled with beautiful veggies and the ones from Red Wagon farms are beautifully trimmed and ready for my attention! Yum.


Chocolate Lavender Pie

Pie is a birthday tradition to celebrate my dad’s birthday. He loves pie and quite honestly, I only actually make it a handful of times in a year. I have worked long and hard on my crust recipe and have finally found just the right thing. It is flaky and flavorful. When I started looking for something to make for this year’s birthday celebration, I stumbled upon the Chocolate Lavender Pie from Sunday Suppers. They are really one of my favorite food blogs and I hope to get to one of their classes in NY one day. As you know, I am incapable of following a recipe exactly, so this is my variation. It turned out great! Pie with a great crust, rich dark chocolate, a whipped cream topping and just a hint of lavender. I chose a 72% dark chocolate which over powered the lavender, but it was a pretty touch! If you love chocolate, this is one to try. Happy birthday dad!!!


Chocolate Lavender Pie

Chocolate Lavender Pie
inspired by this recipe from Sunday Suppers

For the crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp coarse salt
4 T cold butter, cubed
3 T cold lard, cubed
1/4 cup ice water

For the crystallized lavender:
2 tablespoons dried lavender
1/4 cup granulated sugar

For the filling:
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons dried lavender (make sure it’s intended for culinary use)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar (or up to 1/4 cup if your chocolate is very bitter)
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Pinch of coarse salt

For the whipped cream:
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

To make the crust:
Combine the flour, butter, lard and salt in the bowl of a food process and pulse until it’s cut into the dry ingredients and the mixture has the texture of coarse crumbs. Add the ice water and pulse in 5-second bursts, just until the dough starts to come together. Don’t overwork it!

Turn it out onto a lightly floured board and roll out the dough to slightly larger than a 9-inch pie pan (you can wrap it well in plastic wrap and refrigerate it an hour to let it rest). Prick the bottom with fork tines, and put the pie in the freezer to chill for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Once the oven’s ready and the dough is chilled, spray a piece of foil with nonstick spray and press it, sprayed side down, on top of the pie dough. Fill the pie shell with beans or a pie chain, then bake it for 15 minutes until you see a little color on the sides of the crust. Carefully remove the foil and beans, then continue to bake the crust for an additional 15-20 minutes, until it is fully baked and golden brown. Cover the sides with foil if necessary to ensure the edges don’t burn. Let the crust cool completely before filling it.

For the crystallized lavender:
Boil the lavender in water for 30 seconds, then strain. Pat the lavender mostly dry between layers of paper towel, then roll the slightly damp lavender in the granulated sugar. Separate into individual pieces and let them dry completely.

To make the filling:
Combine the heavy cream, the lavender and gently heat. Allow to steep 5 minutes. Place the chocolate, sugar and salt in the bowl of a double boiler. Pour the cream through a mesh strainer into the bowl of chocolate, straining out the lavender pieces.

Whisk everything together until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is shiny and smooth. Add the room temperature butter and whisk it into ganache.

Cool the mixture to room temperature, whisking occasionally to prevent a skin from forming on top. Once slightly thickened and at room temperature, pour it into the baked crust and refrigerate it until it’s firmly set, at least 4 hours.

Chill your mixing bowl and whisk attachment for 15 minutes before you’re ready to use them. Pour the cream, sugar and vanilla into the chilled bowl into the bowl. Whip on medium speed until firm peaks form, then use immediately.

Garnish chilled pie with whipped cream, sliced strawberries (optional) and crystallized lavender. Slice and enjoy!!

Chicken Piccata

When it comes to Chicken Piccata, recipes vary a bit on the details, but the basics are simple. Think chicken breasts, lemon and capers. This is absolutely one of my favorites and this is a recipe that has evolved over the years. Some people prefer to bread the chicken while I prefer just a seasoned flour coating. Some people prefer to pan fry the chicken in just olive oil and add butter to the sauce later, I think using both butter and olive oil to fry adds some depth and a lovely golden color. Many recipes choose either chicken stock or white wine, I like to use both. Sometimes I adjust it based on what I have on hand, but this is my favorite combination. I tend to like the sauce a bit more on the tart side. One other note: I buy chicken cutlets that have already been prepared by a butcher to save time, but you can buy boneless breasts and butterfly them or pound them to the thickness you like. Enjoy playing with this recipe!

Chicken Piccata

1 Package Chicken Cutlets (5-6 cutlets)

4 T. Flour



1/3 c. Chicken Stock

2/3 c. White Wine

2/3 c. Lemon Juice (Freshly squeezed, about 2-3 large lemons)

2 Cloves Garlic, Finely Chopped

2 T. Capers

6 T. Butter

4 T. Olive Oil

Fresh Parsley, Chopped

Add flour to a plate and season generously with salt and pepper. Dredge the cutlets in the seasoned flour and set aside, making sure to shake off any excess flour.

In a large skillet, melt 1 1/2 T. butter and 1 T. olive oil over med high heat.

Place two or three cutlets in the pan (making sure not to crowd them) and cook until golden brown, approximately 3 minutes per side.

Remove from the pan and cover with foil while cooking the next batch.

Wipe out the bottom of the pan before adding another 1 1/2 T. butter and 1 T. olive oil and repeating with the next batch of chicken. When the chicken is cooked, wipe out the pan again and add 2 T. of butter plus 1 T. olive oil. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and lightly brown. Add the wine, lemon juice, stock, a pinch of salt and pepper, bring to a simmer.

While the sauce is cooking, make beurre manie by mixing equal parts flour and softened butter (1 T. of each) which will make a paste to thicken the sauce.

Add half of the beurre manie to the simmering sauce and add more as needed. The sauce should coat the back of a spoon when ready, 3-5 minutes. Add the chicken back to the sauce to finish the cooking (about 5 minutes), turning several times to coat evenly.

Add capers. Adjust seasoning as needed. Add the chopped parsley just before serving.

Serve with some good bread to sop up the sauce!

Risotto with Orange Juice

Risotto is one of those beautiful comfort foods that can compliment a variety of meals or can be a main dish. Sometimes it can be a little bit rich so it works well with lighter foods. This is a version that has just the right amount of freshness that comes from the citrus. It will definitely be a staple in our house from now on!

Risotto with Orange Juice

(Courtesy of Lidia’s Italy)

3 oranges, with bright, unblemished skins
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup onions, minced
2 tablespoons shallots, minced
2½ cups arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
5½ cups chicken stock, or canned chicken broth
½ teaspoon salt, or as needed
½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
freshly ground black pepper

With a vegetable peeler remove the rind from two of the oranges, being careful not to include the white part- it is very bitter. Cut the rind crosswise into thin strips. (There should be about 1/2 cup lightly packed.) Juice the oranges and reserve the juice. (There should be about 1 cup.)

In a heavy, wide 3 to 4-quart casserole or pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and shallot and cook them until golden, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the oil. Toast the rice until the edges become translucent, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the wine and orange rind. Stir well until the wine is absorbed. Add 1/2 cup of the hot stock and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until all the stock has been absorbed. Continue to add hot stock in small batches, just enough to completely moisten the rice, and cook until each successive batch has been absorbed. When all the stock has all been added, begin adding the orange juice in the same manner. Stir constantly and adjust the level of heat so the rice is simmering very gently while adding the stock and juice until the rice mixture is creamy but al dente. This will take 16 to 20 minutes from the time the wine was added.

Remove from the heat. Beat in the butter first until completely melted, and then the cheese. Adjust the seasoning with salt, if necessary, and pepper. Serve immediately, ladled into warm shallow bowls.

Homemade Applesauce

Ok, I know you can buy Mott’s applesauce for around $3. Just to buy apples for applesauce will cost more than that. But it will taste as good or better than gramma made! You may save money, based on how much you will yield but that’s not why you want to do it. It’s the taste and a low calorie, low sugar comfort food.

I bought apples at 10lbs for $10 and bought a mix of organic gala and braeburn, but only because those were the sale ones.

6 lbs apples, peeled and cored

½ c cane sugar

½ c water

Juice from 1 grapefruit

Zest from 1 grapefruit or candied grapefruit or other citrus if you have it

½ T Cinnamon

  1. Peel and core the apples. You don’t have to be perfect on this because it will be strained later.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients
  3. Cook on medium low heat for 20 min, stirring occasionally
  4. When tender put through a food mill
  5. Check for the amount of liquid. If it’s too liquidy put back in the pot and reduce. It will absorb a little liquid when it cools.
  6. Serve hot or cold, alone or with grilled meats.

Onions Are Awesome

Really, I mean it. Onions are awesome. They make so many foods better. You can make them sweet or savory. Seriously AWESOME. (Aside from being able to make me cry anytime I am in the same room).

If you, like me, love onions then this Onion Jam is for you! This is something I like to make at least a double batch and keep it on hand. I use it on everything from grilled meats and fish to pizza. If you want something really easy to impress guests, this is it. I have people who mention it for weeks after trying it. Here goes…

Onion Jam with Habanero

(adapted from the Mustards Grill Napa Valley Cookbook)

1 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 cups sliced onions

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons red wine

2 tablespoons water

Salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons Habanero Jelly

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook 5-8 min until soft and translucent.

Add the sugar and cook 15-20 min until golden stirring regularly.

Reduce heat to low and add all additional ingredients.

Simmer on low to medium low for about 20 min until thick and sticky.

Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate. Serve chilled (or add to anything you love).

Make it. Try it. ENJOY!

Oh and, let me know what you like to serve it with!

Weeknight Dinners: Tacos

Tacos are always a family favorite. You can pretty much make them from start to finish in 20 minutes. It is great for finicky eaters because you can keep everything on the side and let everyone choose their own combo. Tacos can also be a great way to empty the fridge and the pantry.

Our tacos usually start with 85% ground beef, some kind of beans, iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. Traditionally, we used Gebhardt Chili Powder, but lately we have been experimenting with some more heat (ancho and guajillo chili powders). These get added to taste to the ground beef while browning it along with salt and black pepper. When the beef is brown, remove some of the fat (we usually just use paper towels, but you can pour it off). Add onion and garlic to the browned meat and saute until the onions are soft and garlic is fragrant. Adjust the seasoning as needed. We sometimes add chili beans or tomatoes to the meat. Other times will serve beans on the side.

Some traditional Mexican toppings are radishes, cilantro (love it or hate it), onion, and salsa (pico de gallo). We also add avocado, scallions, and the ever present Tabasco. If you have a gas stove, you can just heat the tortillas directly over the flame until soft and lightly colored on both sides. Otherwise, warm them in the microwave or oven.








This is a great meal to get on the table quickly or for a fun and hands on party where your guests can help! Get creative and make it yours!

Grandma Del’s New Year’s Day Vegetable Soup

Growing up we spent most holidays at my grandparents house in Southern California. It always meant lots of people gathered around and on New Year’s, it always meant football. My Grandma Del always made soup as an easy way to feed the crowd after having festivities for several weeks.

This year, my dad decided he wanted to attempt the soup. Even though he is not the cook in our family, he followed the recipe to the letter. I think it came out just like hers. I never would have gotten it that way because I would have fiddled with it along the way. This is an old fashioned home-style Midwestern soup. It is delicious in its own right, but it we thought it needed some more oomph for today’s tastes. The ever-present bottle of Tabasco and Parmesan didn’t hurt and neither did the homemade french bread (courtesy of Peter Reinhart).

Grandma Del’s New Years Day Vegetable Soup

Shop on the 30th of December.  On New Years Eve Day morning put ½ gallon of water in big soup pot.  Cut in small pieces 2 ½ lbs of any good beef.  Round, chuck or Rump.   Add to water.  Include any bones.  Cut off green leaves of 2 stalks celery.  2 onions cut in ½ and pepper, garlic, basil,  rosemary.  Simmer all day, adding water.  Drain stock into big bowl.  Discard all except meat.

New years day while watching parade.  Return stock and beef to clean soup pot.  Cut small the two stalks celery, 2 more onions, 4 potatoes, 1 bunch carrots, salt and pepper to taste.

when first football game comes on add 1 lg can tomato sauce, salt pepper and basil.

2nd game add water – Stir.

3rd game add ¼ c rice.

At half time Rose Bowl Game add large package frozen mixed vegies.  Do not boil.  Serve w/ French bread butter cheese and leftover fruitcake and cookies.