Archive for the 'General' Category

Apple Cherry Pie

After the world was turned on its head, the world then stood still….for a very, very long time.

We are only 60 days into lockdown and I vacillate from the feeling that every day is a blur to there are some really amazing great memories we are creating together. There is plenty of time for deep reflection and undeniably plenty of ups and downs as we all have our days where we feel a bit less positive. We are keeping focused on the long game, we know we may not get out anytime soon, but at least we are finding ways to enjoy ourselves with cooking, baking, binging shows, memes and long walks with or without our old hound dog.

One of my recent projects was to peel, core, and chop some apples that we had in surplus. I had thought that I would then endeavor to make my Aunt’s apple cake, but I was short on flour and thought it best to save it for another project. So I quickly moved to plan B which was to make an apple tart cherry pie with a crust I had already made in the freezer.

This recipe is a riff on my fig crostata from a few years back. Since I know that shortcuts are always good to have, if you are limited on time or don’t really want to put maximum effort into this project, then you could get a store-bought pie crust and skip the frangipane recipe. If making the entire recipe from scratch then start with the frangipane recipe first, the crust recipe second and then the pie filling.

The way the filling comes together for this apple pie is a nice change-up from the traditional toss of apples, sugar, and cinnamon. In fact, this recipe has no cinnamon! Shocker, I know. The tartness of the apples, when combined with the stovetop caramel-like sauce, is a match made in heaven. The dry tart cherries add a nice juxtaposition of texture and visibly shimmer like rubies in this otherwise golden-hued pie.


Apple Cherry Pie

Pie crust Ingredients (9-inch double pie crust)

There are three ingredients: salted butter (yes you read that right, SALTED butter), plain all-purpose flour, and a little bit of water. That’s it. The recipe is so easy, do it twice and you’ll remember it by heart.

2 1/4 cup plain all-purpose flour

8 oz cold SALTED butter, cut into cubes 1/4 cup water

Frangipani Ingredients 1/4 the recipe of frangipane (prepare ahead of time)

½ cup whole almonds

½ cup sugar, (½ granulated sugar and ½ confectioner’s sugar)

½ cup butter at room temperature

1 large egg

Apple Cheery Pie Ingredients

½ cup unsalted butter

3 TBS all-purpose flour

¼ cup water

½ cup white sugar

½ cup packed brown sugar

6 cups Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples – peeled, cored and sliced/chopped

½ cup dried tart cherries, pitted

Frangipane Directions

Preheat the oven, or toaster oven, to 350 degrees. Spread the almonds evenly on a baking sheet and place them in the oven. Roast them for about 10 minutes, or until slightly toasted and fragrant. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool to room temperature. In a food processor, combine the cooled almonds and the sugar into a food processor and process until finely ground. Add the butter and the egg and continue to pulse until well-combined.

Note: To store the excess frangipane, divide into four equal parts, wrap each tightly in plastic. They will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, and up to a month in the freezer.

Apple Cherry Pie Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium-large saucepan, melt the butter. Stir in flour to form a paste. Once the paste consistency is achieved, add water and sugars, and bring to a boil. Then reduce temperature and allow the mixture to simmer until thickened.

Place the bottom crust in your pan, if using frangipane, add an even layer of it on the bottom of the pie crust. Then fill the crust with apples, mounded slightly.

Cutting thin strips of dough either with a knife or ravioli cutter to loosely weave into a lattice crust for the top of the pie, and then, crimp down edges to seal and crimp the edges or pressing the tines of a fork around it to create a pretty pattern. Next, take the sugar and butter mixture and slowly pour it over the crust, so that it does not spill beyond the pie dish.

Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 35-45 minutes, until apples are soft.

Pie Crust Directions

In a food processor, combine all ingredients. Once processed, begin to combine by hand into a cohesive ball until all of the dry parts are incorporated and it is a solid mass. Divide into two rounds, wrap each round in plastic and refrigerate. After 30 minutes, remove the dough from the refrigerator and unwrap it.

If the dough has been refrigerated longer than 30 minutes allow it to warm up so that it will roll out easier.

To improve the integrity of the dough it is important to roll it out a few times, folding it over itself. This will allow the dough to continue to become smoother and more pliable. Liberally flour your work surface. Use enough flour so that the dough doesn’t stick to the surface or the rolling pin. Place the dough on the board and flour the top of the dough liberally.

With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to an elongated rectangle. Pick up the pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough. Pick up one end of the rectangle, fold it 2/3 of the way in. Brush the flour off the newly folded section, then pick up the other end and fold it over that section. The dough is now neatly folded into thirds. Do not worry if the dough cracks or breaks. It is important to brush off as much flour as possible between folding so that additional flour is not unnecessarily trapped in the dough.

Repeat one or two more times as it is important to working the dough a little bit to build the strength so that it is not so fragile when rolling it out later. This is especially important when making a lattice top pie crust. Create two balls out of the dough and return to the refrigerator for 30 minutes longer.

Roll each round into a circle that is 2-3 times larger than your 9-inch pie plate.

The World Was Turned On Its Head

The world was turned on its head.

The people were told to distance themselves, limited to only essential outdoor activities.

The news increased a sense of panic and despair.

The economy plummeted.

Humanity behaved poorly.

At a glance those are my out-takes of the past few weeks. And yet, I implore you to look harder. To increase and strengthen your mind game. To be the kind of person that you want to meet in the future. To show your humanity. To help in any way you can. You can control the kind of person you are and the lens which you are now looking through as the world attempts to redefine itself. Caring goes beyond the walls of a hospital. Caring starts here. It starts now. We may not know the exact outcomes of what lies ahead but I choose HOPE and I choose POSITIVITY and I choose PEOPLE. In fact, every day, since this crisis turned into a global pandemic and shook me awake as to the ‘real’ challenges we faced, I have made it a point to find something positive in every day. This is why: If anger breeds anger and fear breeds fear then why can’t kindness and hope breed?

This certainly shouldn’t imply that I am wearing rose-colored glasses and out of touch with the world around me. I am simply suggesting that we try to find a new path to our measurement of personal pride and value. If the new currency is trust and smiles, it seems that we may have been transported back in time. To a simpler time. To a time when families spent time together, sitting around the table, watching one movie at the same time on TV, walking the dog, preparing meals. Talking.

We all have our own challenges to face in this new world UNorder – there is really no rule book to follow. It’s back to basics. It’s back to being or discovering the best version of yourself and finding ways to make others around you – family and friends – know that you care, with even the simplest of gestures like sending a text or a photo or a joke. This post is not about cooking, it is about creating a recipe for happiness in a time of chaos and measuring how you are making an impact today and can expand that kindness impact to others. There is no doubt in my mind that we are fighting a silent war against ourselves, our former selves, and our perceptions of the world as we used to know it. I am suggesting that we can win the daily battle by keeping a targeted focus on our values, by helping others and behaving kindly. In my opinion, these things are essential to making next week a self-proclaimed success. In my mind, this story’s headlines now have more substance.

The world was turned on its head. AND WE ARE OKAY BECAUSE WE ARE ADAPTING.

The people were told to distance themselves, limited to only essential outdoor activities.

The news increased a sense of panic and despair. BUT WE AS PEOPLE FOUND WAYS TO REMAIN POSITIVE.



#Giving #Thanks

The Thanksgiving Day celebration is an important part of American culture. From the iconic tales of Pilgrims and Native Americans to a holiday now focused on food and excessive retail therapy. It is easy to feel caught up in the hustle and bustle of the celebration.

The wafting aromas of turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie, a house filled to the brim with family and friends and a beautifully set table. When I think about the words tied to the holiday I realize that much of our attention as a society focuses more about turning the ‘giving’ into a way to promote spending/gift giving. But what if, for just a moment, we could really make a difference by giving the gift of sustenance. I often talk to my children about how we can make a difference and an impact. I am not suggesting that we turn in all of our gifts and put it towards a fund, but I am suggesting that for a moment we focus on really giving to help make someone’s reality better.

I’ll never forget that my Grandfather, Nunzio, during the days when he ran the crab stand at Alioto’s Restaurant at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco; he was always looking for ways to help. One morning, I joined him at work and was perplexed to see him talking to the homeless people sleeping alongside the restaurant. It was even more surprising that they all knew him by name. When I asked him what he spoke with them about he said that he was asking them what kind of sandwich they would like to eat that day. I learned that he would prepare food for them, every day. I inquired further as to why he didn’t just bring out the sandwiches that he had made, and he kindly explained to me that being poor was not a crime and that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. He respected them enough to give them what they wanted to eat, he cared for them deeply, just like he cared for all of us. Years later I learned he would even go out and buy them winter jackets so that they could keep warm.

Do you ever wonder how to make an impact? There are so many ways to give and make a difference. This, one of the richest countries in the world has millions of hungry children, approximately 13 million, that go to bed hungry every day. I often ask myself, how this is possible. There are so many families that can barely make ends meet let alone plan a festive dinner.

What if you could be the difference and make a dent in the hunger crisis that plagues so many, too many, children? I know that I can, and I will. Annually I make a conscious decision to stop the foodie talk and to make this space that I covet a platform to do more. I am a supporter of No Kid Hungry. As I sit down tomorrow I hope that my donation will allow others to sit around their table with those they care about to enjoy a good meal. To be part of the celebration so many of us enjoy. So for a time, I am choosing to forgo the pricey designer coffees and that new top I saw in the magazine because I know I can happily scale back and share with others to give them the memories I think are so important – to be seated around a table, enjoying the aromas of the meal, sharing laughter and stories with those that they care about most. Perspective… $10 = 100 meals.

I hope that you too will take this is an opportunity to provide a meal for a family in need because even one match of humanity can make an explosive positive impact on the lives of others. I raise my glass to all of you, I am so very thankful for all of your support as my beloved blog family. You make the difference to me by feeding my soul.

#thanks #giving

Photo Courtesy: IKEA

Photo Courtesy: IKEA

It’s easy to get caught up in the food festivities that surround the holidays. Traditional fare, too much of it, and an opportunity to hang out with ‘those’ relatives that often times create that intense and highly entertaining family drama you’ll eagerly recap at the water cooler at work come Monday. BUT what’s lost in this satirical depiction of Thanksgiving is that there are many families that can barely scrape by enough to provide this celebratory meal. Hunger in the United States is a reality that is not talked about often enough.

I would like to present you with the opportunity to change that reality. To give and provide something for others to eat. It takes but a moment and actually, if someone or a family is in need of a meal, they might very well be in need of more than just a Thanksgiving meal.

Annually I make this plight- I stop the foodie talk in hopes of opening up a very important dialogue. I am a supporter of No Kid Hungry. And as I sit down tomorrow I hope that my donation will allow others to sit around their table with family and friends enjoying some good food. It’s not that I have an abundance of cash lying around, it’s about making choices, and I’ll happily scale back on luxurious coffee drinks for a few weeks and share those funds where I can make a difference- giving to others. The impact $10 = 100 meals. Imagine what I can do in just a few weeks time.

And in light of all of the things I am thankful for today, I raise my glass to all of you – thank you for being my supportive blog family. You make the difference to me by feeding my soul.

Chocolate Chip Cookie – Bean Cake Cookies In Disguise (Gluten Free)

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I have lived on the edge of holding on. Holding onto quotes, phrases, and people. I am horrible at good-byes. And permanent good-byes terrify me. This type of closure pushes a hole deep into my heart. I guess I just can’t let go, so I live by Continue reading ‘Chocolate Chip Cookie – Bean Cake Cookies In Disguise (Gluten Free)’

Peanut Butter Coconut Balls (Gluten Free)

peanut butter balls finished.JPG

The holiday vortex. It is only when I’ve woken up in January from my sugar filled dreams that I realize I’ve been caught in culinary bliss; blissfully drifting from bite to bite through the month of December. My body screams- it’s time to wake up – time to thin down – time to ‘try’ to leave the sugar and excess poundage behind. Every year around this time I do a gentle cleanse. Now don’t panic, it is not just a juice cleanse, which I doubt I could ever do, but it does strip out a few edible options. The cleanse is gluten, dairy, and sugar free. There are a few foods I can’t eat temporarily, but Continue reading ‘Peanut Butter Coconut Balls (Gluten Free)’

Coffee Cake Gingerbread Chocolate Protein Waffles & 3 Unique Toppings

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I am fairly new to the world of waffles. My mother tells me that she used to make them, but I mostly remember her pancakes, omelets and drop biscuits. The person who I identify waffles with most is my stepmother Regan. A trip to the mountain house in Mt. Shasta is not complete Continue reading ‘Coffee Cake Gingerbread Chocolate Protein Waffles & 3 Unique Toppings’

Give Thanks – Give Hope

Give Thanks

I am looking forward to Thanksgiving, which I’ll spend at home cooking with my husband for our family and a few good friends. There is so much to be thankful for this time of year, including the lavish meal we will prepare for loved ones.

In my minds-eye, the table is festively set. Family and friends gathered Continue reading ‘Give Thanks – Give Hope’

Wordless Wednesday – North Carolina

1 day old piglet

A nearly Wordless Wednesday post sharing some photo out-takes from my trip to North Carolina. For the full story of ‘Farm to Fork’ and my recipe please read: Swine and Wine Italian Pork Stew Continue reading ‘Wordless Wednesday – North Carolina’

No Kid Hungry- A Thanksgiving Wish


While I am typically not home to celebrate a traditional Thanksgiving meal, when I see a beautiful table setting I imagine what it would be like to sit as a guest at that table. The wafting smell of a home cooked turkey, a plate brimming with my favorite stuffing, creamy mashed potatoes with a puddle of rich gravy, accompanied by tart cranberry orange relish and eventually a slice of pumpkin pie. What strikes a cord with me is that imagining such a dinner is what many do on this holiday. Knowing that there are families that can’t afford it breaks my heart. I know how lucky I am to have a good job that allows to put food on the table. My family and I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. But many people in America are struggling. You can help by making a donation to No Kid Hungry’s Thanksgiving campaign today. With the simple click of your mouse, you can be a part of the solution to end childhood hunger and connect hungry children with the food they need to grow, learn and thrive.
Continue reading ‘No Kid Hungry- A Thanksgiving Wish’