kid-friendly · Recipes

Sweet Potato Pot Pie

This is an all-purpose vegan recipe that can be made into a Meatless Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie, or turned into the filling for a Vegetarian  Sweet Potato Pot Pie. With crumbled veggie burgers instead of meat, and your choice of vegetables in a creamy non-dairy sauce topped with buttery mashed sweet potatoes, it’s versatile and hearty!

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Even though this turned into a vegetarian shepherd’s pie — with “meat” on bottom, veggies and sauce on top, and potatoes spread in a thin layer, baked until browned and bubbly — I created this filling with the intent of putting it in a pot pie next time. To do that, I’d keep the sweet potatoes cubed instead of mashing them, thin out the creamy sauce on the stove top with a bit of nut milk, then use a puff pastry shell to cover it in a glass baking dish. Let me know if you try it that way! I really liked how this turned out.

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Sweet Potato Pot Pie

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 veggie burger patties (I used frozen)
  • fresh or frozen vegetables of your choice; I used corn and carrots. You need about two 14-oz. cans worth, or two small bags of frozen vegetables.
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • cashew cream (eyeball the amount) & water to thin it out until spreadable
  • olive oil, for cooking the diced onion
  • butter, for stirring into the mashed sweet potatoes

DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat the oven to 350 then prep the ingredients. Microwave the four patties briefly, following package directions, then cut into triangles and set aside. Boil water in a large pot; peel and cube the potatoes, then cook in the water once boiling until just soft. Drain and set aside. Once they’ve cooled a bit, mash by hand with a pat of butter. Dice an onion.

In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat until warm, then saute the onion and add the veggie patties until the onion is translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place the onion-veggie burger mixture into the bottom of a glass baking dish — I used a round glass casserole dish, but a square 10×10 or 8-inch glass pan would also work well — and press down so it’s flat.

In a mixing bowl, combine the vegetables (thawing/draining first if frozen/canned) and the cashew cream, eyeballing the amount based on how creamy you’d like the filling of your pie to be. As I noted above, you should add some water to make the cashew cream more liquid-y if you’ll be baking it into a sweet potato pot pie with a pie crust instead of a shepherd’s pie. Pour over the veggie burger-onion mixture in the glass baking dish.

Top with the mashed sweet potatoes, patting down flat so they evenly cover the veggies. Bake uncovered for about half an hour, checking to make sure it isn’t burning, and let cool briefly once out of the oven. To reheat later, I like to put a pat of butter on top! (No surprise there — anyone in my family can tell you what a butter freak I am.)

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This travels and reheats very well, too. I made this in single-serve, miniature ramekins for Mark’s grandfather when he was recovering from surgery a few years ago, and also for friends who’ve just had a baby in winter. It’s just the kind of comforting food that cold days call for, and at least in Boston, we are still having lots of cold, rainy days. Brrr! Hopefully we’ve had our last true deep freeze for the year and we can look forward to warmer weather ahead. It is officially spring now, after all 🙂

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Cashew cream is really easy to make, and if you have a high-powered blender like a Vitamix (let this be yet another reason to justify buying one!) you can make it without even needing to soak the nuts overnight. Of course, you can also make this recipe with a conventional dairy-based white sauce from scratch or by using a can of “cream of” soup such as cream of celery or cream of mushroom or potato. But you don’t need to be vegan to enjoy cashew cream! It takes mere minutes to make, and seasoned with nothing more than a little salt and garlic it’s ready to dress pasta or any number of tasty dishes that would otherwise use dairy. Toss it with egg noodles, cooked spinach and diced butternut squash, or add nutritional yeast to create a “cheesy” sauce for baked macaroni. It can pinch-hit in any casserole you already make, or try it mixed with hot sauce or sriracha and baked with some shredded chicken for a tasty buffalo dip.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Blue Apron · Recipes

Tomato Zucchini Quiche

Boy, do I love quiche. Too bad it isn’t the healthiest thing around! What it lacks in fiber it makes up for in protein, however, and for vegetarians this can be a very good thing. Not to mention it’s a simple meal to throw together on a hot night, and if you toss a light salad alongside, you can make it a balanced dinner that’s budget- and family-friendly. I use pre-bought pie crusts when I’m crunched for time, and zucchini and tomatoes from my garden when they’re abundant. Combine that with some ricotta, eggs, and cheese, and you’re only 20 minutes away from yum.

QUICHE (1)

Zucchini & Tomato Quiche

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large, pre-baked pie crust (or 2 mini), store bought or home made
  • 1 zucchini, diced small
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup skim ricotta
  • 1/4 cup fontina cheese, grated or chopped small
  • salt, pepper & olive oil

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 425. Set the pie crust(s) out on a non-stick baking sheet to come to room temperature.

Small dice the zucchini and quarter the tomatoes. Dice or shred the cheese if it comes in a block. Peel and mince the garlic and smash into a paste using either the side of a knife, a mortar and pestle, or a zester.

In a medium non-stick pan, heat olive oil over medium-high until hot, then add the zucchini and cook, seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes or until browned and soft, then add the tomatoes and garlic paste. Stir for a couple minutes or until fragrant, then remove from the heat.

In a medium sized bowl, crack the two eggs and whisk; add the ricotta and whisk again, the add the cooked zucchini and tomatoes, seasoning lightly with salt and pepper.

Pour the mixture into the pie crust(s) and evenly top with cheese.

Bake the quiches in the oven for 18-20 minutes, or until the edges are browned and the fillings are set. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes.

Serve warm, at room temp, or even cold straight from the refrigerator!

Notes: 1/4 cup cheese is about one ounce, or 4 TBSP; you can also just eyeball the amount you’d like based on how heavy you want the dish to be. Add more or less to your health and taste needs, and vary the cheese type if you like something else better. You can also add a little more garlic; I did. Don’t want to overdo it, though.

***

This recipe came to me in my Blue Apron delivery. Unlike some of their meals, this featured no hard-to-find ingredients or complex preparation steps, so it was easy for us to replicate. I’ve also made more than a few quiche in my day, but even for newbies it’s a pretty hard dish to mess up! Enjoy and stay cool in this drought-level heat wave.

***

kid-friendly · Recipes

BLT Pasta Salad

Hot nights call for cold pasta salad! Here, I’ve taken flavors pretty much everyone loves — that of a BLT sandwich — and modified slightly to use a combo of ranch dressing and barbecue sauce instead of mayonnaise for dressing. It tastes light and sweet, and if you use salad bar bacon bits like I did, it’s actually vegetarian to boot. (Did you know most bacon bits aren’t made of meat? It’s true!) This is a sneaky way to get some vegetables into your kiddo for lunch or dinner, too. Consider it Georgia approved!

BLT PASTA SALAD

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound farfalle (bowtie) pasta, cooked and drained
  • 4 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup bacon bits, or about half package bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled
  • 1 head of romaine or other lettuce variety, chopped
  • ranch dressing and barbecue sauce to taste
  • pepper, seasoned to taste

DIRECTIONS

Put a pot of pasta on to boil and prep the remaining ingredients: chop the romaine, bake and crumble the bacon (or use bacon bits pre-crumbled from the salad bar, as I did, to save time) and dice the tomatoes. This entire recipe is flexible, so add more or less of any ingredient to your preference.

Cook and drain the pasta until it is al dente, making sure not to over-cook so they don’t turn mushy when mixed into salad. Let cool.

Toss together the tomatoes, bacon, lettuce and pasta in a large bowl, and drizzle ranch dressing to coat, using your judgment as to how heavily dressed you’d like the pasta to be. I would start with about a quarter cup and work upwards from there. Season with pepper and drizzle barbecue sauce over top. Toss once more and serve warm, room temp, or cold right out of the fridge. Will keep very well outdoors for a picnic, potluck or cookout. Enjoy!

BLT pasta salad

Recipe inspired by Life in the Lofthouse.

kid-friendly · Recipes

Classic Potato Salad

What else says summer like potato salad? My mom makes the hands-down yummiest, but if you can’t have hers, this is the next best thing.

I think potatoes get a bad rap: branded as a pound-packer since the low-carb craze of the early 2000s, potatoes are in fact quite nutrient dense, especially if you keep the skin on as I do in this recipe. Full of fiber and potassium, potatoes can absolutely be part of a healthy diet — especially for vegetarians — if you keep portion sizes in check and watch the fattening add-ons like sour cream, bacon, cheese, and Miracle Whip (back away from the fake spreads!) This recipe derives flavor from lots of ingredients, from green onions to pickles and celery, and cuts the mayo dressing with bright Dijon mustard. You won’t miss one ounce of creamy texture, but you will get just enough zip to perk up the whole dish without tipping over into spicy territory. Serve cold or at room temperature ~ enjoy!

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Classic Potato Salad

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 pounds red potatoes, skin on, cut into quarters
  • 3-4 eggs, hard boiled
  • 1 small onion (red or yellow), diced; or use a bunch of scallions/green onions
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 8 small sweet pickles, chopped
  • 2/3 Cup mayonnaise
  • 2 TBSP Dijon (OR 1 TBSP each Dijon and Yellow, to reduce spice)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • optional: fresh or dried dill for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Set the eggs on to boil if you haven’t any on hand, and then place a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil. Meanwhile, prep your other ingredients.

Quarters the potatoes. Small dice the onions and set aside in a small bowl of water to take the bite out of them. Chop the celery and the pickles and set aside.

Cook the potatoes in the boiling water for about 10 minutes or until fork tender. (Note: if you prefer to cook whole potatoes and chop after, allow for 30 minutes cooking time.) Drain and set aside to cool.

Once cool, stir in the pickles, celery, onion, eggs (discarding the water they soaked in), mustard and mayo, and stir together, seasoning to taste. I like to half-mash them to break up the texture so it’s somewhere between chunky and smooth. You can do anything for complete mashing to leaving the potatoes in big pieces. Top with fresh dill if using.

Serves a good sized crowd, and will stay good in the fridge for a week. 

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There are a few ways Potato Salad can go wrong.

Choice of spud is key: russets aren’t really your best bet, because they turn to slop so quickly. I’m a fan of catching that texture somewhere in between total mush and in-tact crunch, so something like a red bliss, fingerling, or even purple potato is better for me. The less starchy, the better. You’d want to pick a high-starch Russet for nice, fluffy mashed potatoes, but not so much for a salad where it’s important they hold their shape.

Fresh eggs, boiled just before you are about to make the salad, taste better.

I normally don’t do this, but seasoning the water for boiling the potatoes is key. Potatoes can end up pretty bland if you don’t salt the water. You can make sure you don’t damage your pans by adding the salt after the water is at a rolling boil, and before you add the potatoes to cook.

Let the potatoes cool off a bit before adding the mayo. If you add it too quickly while they are still warm, it can change the consistency of the dressing and turn it a bit oily. You can also use Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise if you prefer.

Finally, as I said above, I really feel like Miracle Whip is never the right choice, but I won’t judge too harshly those who disagree. 😉

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If you are in Boston, stay cool in the heat wave that’s just starting up. And happy Amazon Prime Day! What deals do you have your eye on? Popular items seem to be the Echo and the Instant Pot. There are also deals to be had on the Fire TV stick and kids tablets, if you’re in the market for one. On the food front, I might check out the markdown on a stainless pasta maker or a stand mixer. Personally, I’ll probably end up buying something boring like diapers or work shoes for myself; the dress form I really want is not on sale for Prime Day, unfortunately!

Don’t forget to also mark your calendars for the other big sale that happens this time of year — the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. It is not to be missed and I’m already hard at work making my virtual wish list. 🙂

Recipes

Pickled Watermelon

Just in time for the holiday weekend!! Let’s bust out the watermelons and swing into summer at last 🙂 The flesh of the watermelon provides a sweet topper for spicy arugula salad, and the pickled rinds make an unexpected side to grilled burgers, dogs, potato salad and a cold bottle of beer. Just like actual pickles, only cuter and niftier! 

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I suggest trying those miniature melons you see at the supermarket starting this time of year. Buy a couple pounds at least; this recipe doubles easily from there.

Pickled Watermelon Rinds

INGREDIENTS

  • 2.5 (about) pounds of watermelons (use small ones to make cutting easier)
  • 2 TBPS red wine vinegar (or whatever kind you have/like)
  • 1 TBSP sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup of water

DIRECTIONS

Halve the watermelons then slice into wedges. Cut off and set aside the pulp (the pink part) for use however you choose — particularly large-diced on a salad — leaving just the rind.

Using a knife, cut off the dark green outer layer and then slice the remaining rind into two-inch pieces.

In a small pot, combine the rinds, vinegar, sugar, a pinch of salt and 1/2 cup of water. Heat on the stove on high until boiling; once it boils, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, for 7-10 minutes or until the rinds are translucent and softened (test with a fork). Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. When they are at room temp, serve them without the extra liquid.

IF YOU ARE making a salad, whip up a nice vinaigrette from the leftover pickling liquid plus equal parts olive oil and mustard. Feta is also a worthy addition to a watermelon-arugula salad  🙂

YUM! Enjoy!!

**  Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, everyone **

kid-friendly · Recipes

Can’t wait to make this tasty Broccoli Toss!

What a week!! I had a crazy, crazy time at work, and I’m ready for some easy food. I was reading Parents Magazine on the train in this morning and saw this Crunchy Broccoli Toss, and I just know Georgia would love it. She loves beans, edamame and “trees!” (as she calls broccoli — which is funny because so did my little brother when he was a tot). Anyway, I can’t wait to make this and I just wanted to share it with you, too. Happy Weekend!

broccoli toss

Recipes

Cabbage-Arugula Salad with Sliced Beets, Grapes & Feta

Good Tuesday morning everyone! Hope you all had a restful Mother’s Day. We didn’t really do much — took Georgia for lunch and ice cream with both her grammies & her favorite Uncle Brent — and I’m already focused on the week ahead and the DAMN SUN COMING BACK OUT. Am I the only one losing their mind over last week’s seven-day stretch of rain? Weather that seemed charming and curious on my visit to the Pacific Northwest became alarming and anxiety-inducing when it overtook what’s supposed to be a sunny and mild season in New England. Thankfully, the nice weather seems to be back for this week (finally), and nothing says spring like a light, fresh salad. I created this one a couple weeks ago, and I can’t wait to share with you! I’m a sucker for any salad with beets in it, especially when they are set off with a flavorful cheese, and this one really hits the mark with a salty feta alongside grapes and beets. Plus, scroll to the end for an easy knockoff recipe for the Cosi Signature Salad — a weakness of mine when I buy lunch out! 

Cabbage-Arugula Salad with Sliced Beets, Grapes & Feta

INGREDIENTS

  • Greens: I used Napa Cabbage, Purple Cabbage and Arugula.
  • Toppings: Feta, crumbled; grapes, sliced in half; baby beets, sliced.
  • Optional Add-On: chicken for a little protein boost.
  • Dressing: Fig vinaigrette. Stonewall Kitchen makes an amazing one!


DIRECTIONS

Chop and toss salad together in a large bowl and serve. That’s it!

Don’t like feta? Try goat cheese, which always pairs awesomely with beets. Beets are actually not that difficult to peel and slice at home, as long as you use a plastic cutting board and wash it immediately afterward, and be careful not to touch anything with your hands covered in beet juice because it stains! Or, you can buy the canned/jarred kind, or snag some at a salad bar if you’re making this on the go.

Personally, I made this for the first time at a salad bar, and then recreated it at home later with great results. Now, it’s one of my new favorites! You can only order so much chicken Caesar for lunch before you want a change of pace.

What are your favorite salads? My other go-to orders for lunch and dinner are Panera’s Fuji Apple Chicken Salad, and the Cosi Signature Salad, which is easy to recreate at home with grapes, pears, pistachios (sold shelled at Trader Joe’s), dried cranberries, mixed greens, Gorgonzola and sherry shallot vinaigrette.

Sherry Vinegar is a specialty item, but lots of food bloggers have spent time trying to mimic its flavor with a copycat recipe, and I think Real Mom Nutrition has it down pat: you just need to whisk minced shallot, red wine vinegar, mustard, honey, and olive oil together until thoroughly combined, then add salt and pepper to taste, to recreate Cosi’s awesome house salad. The ratio is 1/2 a shallot, peeled & minced; 2 TBSP red wine vinegar; 1 TBSP each of honey and Dijon mustard; and a 1/2 cup of olive oil, finished with salt and pepper to taste.

The best part of the Panera salad is those crispy apple slices, if you ask me. I’m going to try my hand at drying apple rings into chips soon so that I can make a knock-off version of this awesome salad at home. These takeout salads run you almost $10 a pop, which is CRAY if you can easily make them at home! If I have any luck making dried apple rings, I’ll definitely post about it for you!

Well, that’s all for me today. I hope everyone has a great week!

Blue Apron · kid-friendly · Recipes

Updating a Classic: Orechiette with Kale & Paprika-Roasted Chickpeas

Back in the early days of my blog, I made this Spinach and Chickpea spaghetti dish that quickly became a favorite and a regular in our rotation. It’s healthy, hearty and easy. Well, I recently updated it a bit and loved the results, so I’m doing a quick post to share! The new version uses orechiette instead of spaghetti and kale instead of spinach, and I roasted the chickpeas in advance to give them some crunch and an extra pump of zest thanks to a sprinkling of paprika when they’re fresh out of the oven. Such simple switches, but they made all the difference! And there was so much flavor that I was able to cut way back on the dairy used for the creamy sauce. 


Orechiette with Kale & Paprika-Roasted Chickpeas

INGREDIENTS

  • Half of a one-pound box of orechiette
  • 1½ Cups Chickpeas
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Bunch Kale
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Onion
  • one pat of butter (about 2 TBSP)
  • 1 TBSP Capers (I keep a jar in the fridge)
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • Grated Parmesan (or Pecorino) Cheese, amount to taste (approx. 1/4 cup)

DIRECTIONS

First, roast the chickpeas. Preheat the oven to 450 and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Drain and rinse the can of chickpeas, then dry thoroughly between paper towels (laying on a flat surface and rolling sometimes works well). Discard any loose skins that come off. Arrange on the baking sheet in an even layer, coat with olive oil, salt and pepper,  and toss to coat, then roast — stirring halfway through — for about 25 minutes, or until crispy and browned (but not burnt!) After removing from the oven, season the chickpeas with the smoked paprika, tossing to coat evenly, and set aside.

While the chickpeas roast, wash and dry the kale. Prep the produce: peel and dice the onion and garlic, roughly chop the kale leaves (or tear by hand), discarding the stems, and roughly  chop the capers. Quarter and de-seed the lemon. Finally, put a pot of water on to boil the pasta. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook for about 10 minutes, reserving half a cup of the cooking water.

While the pasta cooks, heat olive oil over medium-hot in a large pan. Add the diced onion and garlic, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until softened (about 5 minutes). Add the kale and 1/4 cup of water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens have wilted and the water has cooked off.

Add the cooked pasta to the pan of kale and then throw in the capers, butter, juice of three lemon wedges and the reserved pasta cooking water. Cook for a few minutes, stirring thoroughly to combine, and season again with salt and pepper after removing from heat. Once off the stove, top the dish with the roasted chickpeas and stir to combine. Top with cheese and squeeze the remaining lemon wedge over the dish before eating.

Voila!

Without the cream cheese, this actually felt light enough to be in contention as an early spring dish, instead of a heavy “load up for hibernation” winter dinner. Georgia really loves roasted chickpeas as a snack, so she mostly kinda ate this, picking the onion and kale out and setting it off to the side. Cooked greens = bad, but cold fresh greens in a salad = OK by her. Pasta, of course, is always a toddler win.

I live by toddler logic.

That’s all from me today everyone! I hope you try this and like it as much as we did, and that you stay dry in the soggy northeast this week. Happy Tuesday!

Blue Apron · kid-friendly · Recipes · Uncategorized

Coconut Kale & Sweet Potato Casserole

Well, I guess the nasty weather has officially arrived. The Southern temps were fun while they lasted! (Although 70 degrees on Christmas just felt wrong). Now that we’ve had to turn the heat back on and bundle up for commuting again, it feels like it’s time to start making casseroles again. Especially all that holiday cooking…who wants to do anything fussy now? This vegetarian dish is hearty, nutritious and as spicy as you want it to be (or not). A few inexpensive ingredients will feed you for days and warm you from the inside out. As a bonus, you can make tea from the leftover ginger peels, and that’s great for healthy digestion (and for kicking the common cold, if you toss in some honey, lemon and bourbon 😉 ). Cuddle up for some home cooking and, as Georgia likes to say, “get cozy.”

Coconut Kale & Sweet Potato Casserole

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 Ounces Egg Noodles
  • 1¾ Cups Light Coconut Milk
  • 1 Bunch Kale
  • 1 Pound Sweet Potatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
  • 1-Inch Piece of Fresh Ginger
  • ⅓ C Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • ¼ C Panko Breadcrumbs
  • If you want it spicier, add some red pepper flakes or chilli powder. Totally optional.

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Heat two large pots of water to boiling on high. Peel and medium-dice the sweet potatoes. Peel and mince the ginger. Remove and discard the kale stems and rough-chop the leaves.

Add the sweet potatoes to the first pot of boiling water. Cook 7 to 9 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain thoroughly and place in a large bowl.

While the sweet potatoes cook, add the noodles to the second pot of boiling water. Cook 5 to 6 minutes, or until just shy of al dente. Drain thoroughly and transfer to the bowl of cooked sweet potatoes. Rinse and wipe out the pot.

In the pot used to cook the noodles, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the ginger and cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until slightly softened and fragrant. Add the flour and spices, if using; cook, whisking frequently, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until toasted and fragrant. Slowly add the coconut milk (shaking the can before opening) and ¾ cup of water; season with salt and pepper. Cook, whisking frequently, 3 to 5 minutes, or until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir the kale into the pot of béchamel sauce. Cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the kale has wilted. Turn off the heat. Add the cooked sweet potatoes and noodles; stir until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Transfer the finished filling to a baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and cheese. Stir in enough olive oil to moisten the mixture; season with salt and pepper to taste. Evenly top the filling with the breadcrumb-cheese mixture. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until bubbly and browned on top. Remove from the oven and let stand for at least 2 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

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This recipe is modified from my Blue Apron delivery subscription. I love when they have budget-friendly, easily-replicable recipes for our family to add to our repertoire! I hope you enjoy this as much as we did. The first time I made it as part of my Blue Apron delivery, it came out rather spicy, so I toned it down a LOT the next time I made it. I’m really happy with the non-spicy version and will likely make it that way from here on out. I hope you like it! It reheats for lunches and leftovers so well.

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Happy New Year, everyone! Here’s to a healthy, fulfilling 2016.

Tiny Prints - Birth Announcements and More

Blue Apron · kid-friendly · Recipes

Tomato, Sweet Pepper & Goat Cheese Pie

You might call this too summery, but I say we are in the midst of a warm spell and we might as well eat like it. Soon enough, we’ll be back to chili, soups, stews and risotto, so for now: bite into a tangy tomato, and a seasoned bell pepper, and enjoy the creamy goat cheese floating under this tender crust! Before you know it, the winter foods will be back in rotation, and wouldn’t you like to have this recent memory to sustain you through those days of early nightfall and windy, icy commutes? I thought so.

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This is very easy, but the most critical tip I can share is to assemble the pie right before you put it in the oven. If you put the tomatoes in and let them sit while you prepare the rest of the filling, it will make the crust too soggy to hold together while baking, so it’s critical to prep your ingredients and then put it all together at once before placing into a pre-heated oven. As with most recipes I share involving pie, I use a pre-made, store-bought crust. If you’re looking for a great homemade pie crust recipe, I like this one.

This recipe originally came from my Blue Apron delivery and I’ve recreated it using my own seasonings and garden tomatoes with excellent results. It really is easy and crowd-pleasing, and vegetarian to boot.

Tomato, Sweet Pepper & Goat Cheese Pie

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Pie Crust, homemade or store bought pre-made
  • 2 Tomatoes (large beefsteak/heirloom variety)
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • Sweet Peppers (3-4 small ones or one large)
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 1 Bunch Basil
  • ½ Cup Crumbled Goat Cheese (or more if you really love it!)
  • 1 Tablespoon Sherry Vinegar (or sub another kind you prefer)
  • ½ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • ¼ Cup Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 1½ TBSP Spice Blend: equal parts Flour, Mustard Powder & Dried Thyme

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Peel and mince the garlic (I used a garlic press). Cut out and discard the stem, ribs and seeds of the sweet pepper and thinly slice them into rings. Chop the onion. Cut the tomatoes into ¼-inch-thick slices. Pick the basil leaves off the stems and discard the stems.

In a medium pan, heat some olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the garlic, onion and sweet pepper; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 4 minutes, or until softened and fragrant. Stir in the vinegar; cook, stirring frequently, about a minute or until well combined. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Next, make the breadcrumb topping: while the onion and pepper cook, combine the Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs in a small bowl, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in enough olive oil to moisten the mixture slightly.

Layer half the tomatoes onto the bottom of the pie crust in an overlapping pattern; season with salt and pepper. Top with the cooked onion and sweet pepper, half the spice blend, half the goat cheese and the basil; drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Repeat with the remaining tomatoes, spice blend and goat cheese.

Evenly top the assembled pie with the breadcrumb topping; season with salt and pepper.

Place the topped pie on a sheet pan. Bake, turning halfway through, 20 to 22 minutes, or until the topping and crust are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Eat all in one sitting with a glass of white wine!

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Other things you can try if the crust comes out soggy: either pre-bake it for a couple minutes on low heat, then proceed with the recipe as usual; or, you can move it lower in your oven and thus closer to the heat source, which may solve the problem. Other solutions might include pricking the bottom of the pie with a tooth pick before baking, and/or lining the bottom of the crust with Parmesan before you add the tomatoes. If you pre-bake and are concerned about the top getting over browned, you can always cover that part with foil while it’s cooking, and it should prevent burning. But again, I didn’t have any issues with sogginess, I just noticed it was a common complaint about this recipe on the Blue Apron Facebook page.

The last piece of advice I would give is something that Blue Apron has taught me, which I must admit has improved all of my cooking: seasoning with salt and pepper throughout the preparation of any dish is essential to making sure it’s fully flavored at the end. You don’t have to be too heavy-handed with it, you just have to keep the seasonings coming at each step of the recipe. That’s definitely true of this pie as well!

Good luck, have fun cooking, and tell me how you’re getting ready for Thanksgiving! I’m cooking a turkey for the first time this year, for our community’s “Don’t Be Alone on Thanksgiving” event, which feeds over 900 people on Thanksgiving each year. Some come in person for the meal at our local high school, while families in shelters and elderly or disabled shut-ins have a meal delivered to their home. I’m using this helpful guide for first timers, although Ina Garten (aka the Barefoot Contessa) also has an excellent one. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Something tells me cooking the bird will pale in complexity against actually delivering the darn thing to the proper location with a rambunctious two-year-old in tow! 🙂