Summer Sweets: Lemon Pie with Blueberry Meringue

Good Morning and Happy Hump Day, everyone!

I hope you all had a sensational Labor Day Weekend- and although it marked the unofficial end of Summer and now we’re not supposed to wear white for a while (a rule I break constantly)– it’s nice to be looking ahead at the Fall and all the beauty that comes with it. It’s my favorite season for a reason!

Before I launch into some of my favorite Autumn recipes, however- I wanted to share one final Summer-inspired dessert I whipped up this past weekend for an impromptu “So Long, Summer” party I attended with friends. Made with lemon and a lot of love- this bright yellow and lavender-colored pie combined some of my favorite flavors of the season. It was a lovely (and delicious!) way to bid adieu to these long, late nights on the beach or by the pool.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

FOR THE PIE:

  • 1 prepared pie crust (store-bought or homemade)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1¼ cup sugar, divided
  • ⅓ cup cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

FOR THE BLUEBERRY MERINGUE:

  • ½ cup freeze-dried blueberries
  • 1¾ cup sugar
  • 6 large egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. MAKE THE LEMON PIE: Roll out the pie crust to ¼ inch thick. Roll up the dough onto the rolling pin, then gently transfer it to the pie plate. Chill for 10 minutes.
  2. Fold the excess pie dough under itself all around the edge of the pie plate, then crimp as desired. Prick the base all over with a fork, and refrigerate the dough for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  3. Cut a piece of parchment paper to slightly larger than the base of the pie plate. Place it in the base of the chilled pie crust and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until the crust is beginning to lightly brown at the edges, 15 to 17 minutes. Remove the pie weights and continue to bake for 5 more minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and cool completely. Lower the oven temperature to 375°F.
  4. Whisk the egg yolks together in a medium bowl. Whisk in ½ cup of sugar.
  5. In a medium pot, whisk together the cornstarch, salt and remaining sugar. Add 1½ cups water and begin to heat the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly. Bring the mixture to a boil; boil for 1 minute.
  6. Gradually pour about ⅓ of the cornstarch mixture in the pot into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to combine. Return the yolk mixture to the pot (pour in a slow, steady stream), whisking constantly.
  7. Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to bubble. Continue to cook once large bubbles appear on the surface for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
  8. Stir in the lemon juice and butter, mixing well to combine. Strain the mixture into the cooled pie crust and smooth into an even layer. Bake until the filling is just barely set (it will still look a bit jiggly), 15 to 17 minutes. Cool to room temperature, then chill until firm, at least 1 hour.
  9. MAKE THE BLUEBERRY MERINGUE: In a blender or food processor, pulse the blueberries until they form a fine powder (you should end up with about 2 tablespoons blueberry “powder”). Transfer to a medium pot and whisk in the sugar. Add ⅔ cup water to the pot and heat over medium heat.
  10. Stir the mixture until it comes to a boil; once it boils, stop stirring. If any sugar crystals have washed up on the sides, brush them away using a pastry brush dipped in cool water. Boil the sugar syrup until it reads 230°F on a candy thermometer.
  11. Meanwhile, place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When the syrup reaches 230°F, begin whipping the egg whites on medium-high speed. The goal is to have the egg whites at soft peaks when the sugar reaches the 240°F.
  12. Slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites, then continue to whip until it reaches medium peaks, 4 to 6 more minutes. Spoon the meringue on top of the cooled pie and swoosh with the back of a spoon into an even, centered mound. If desired, you can toast the meringue with a kitchen torch or under the broiler, but it’s safe to eat untoasted and it will keep the meringue a prettier color.

Served with some ice cold lemonade following one last backyard BBQ- I really enjoyed making this pie. Not as much as I enjoyed eating it, of course- but it was surprisingly easy to bake and was a big hit when it came time to pass the slices around!

For the next couple of months, my recipes will consist of more vegetables (harvest time!), more spices- and yes- more pumpkin. But this meringue pie is definitely one you can try at anytime, really. I know I’ll be making another one as soon as Summer comes back around again!

I’m off to get some work done at my office and prepare for a tailgate party this coming Friday (bring on the buffalo chicken wings!)– but I hope you all have a great Wednesday. It’s a short work week for many, so here’s to it being even closer to Friday again!

xx

– Ashley –

Backyard BBQ Recipes: Chicken and Snap Pea Stir-Fry

Good Morning and Happy Hump Day, everyone!

In the midst of wrapping up my end-of-the-month “To Do” checklist at my office, booking a vacation to the West Coast near the end of September, and soaking up as much sun as possible during my lunch breaks and after work since it’s been pretty hot out these past few days- I’ve also been whipping up the last of my favorite Summertime recipes before it’s time to skim through the Autumn cookbooks again.

This 10 minute recipe- infused with soy sauce, garlic and plenty of vegetables- is a quick, easy and delicious side dish to serve up at your Labor Day Weekend cookout this coming weekend.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 2½ cups snap peas
  • 1¼ cups boneless skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, plus more for finishing
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for finishing

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the scallions and garlic, and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the bell pepper and snap peas, and sauté until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add the chicken and cook until it is golden and fully cooked and the vegetables are tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, Sriracha (if using) and sesame seeds; toss well to combine. Allow the mixture to simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the cilantro, then garnish with a sprinkle of extra cilantro and sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

I kept a couple of separate dishes with the sesame seeds and cilantro on the side so that my friends could garnish their plates with as much/little as they wanted- and kept some extra soy sauce within reach for those who wanted more of a kick to their chicken and vegetables.

Overall, this was a hit- and it’s not overly filling which meant I could still scoop some macaroni salad and grab an ear of corn during the BBQ and not feel stuffed.

I’m off to get some work done, but I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday! I’ll be back here bright and early on Friday morning to bid a proper farewell to August, and to Summer 2018!

xx

– Ashley –

Backyard BBQ Recipes: 15-Minute Skillet Pepper Steak

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We made it to another weekend! Celebrate!

Today is my half day at work, and then once I’m out of my office- it’s off to lunch in the city with some friends and getting a jump start on my plans for the next couple of days. Not that I’m counting down to noon or anything, right?

Before I wrap up a couple of things I put off until the last possible minute and race out the door-I thought I’d share a quick, mess-free and pretty convenient recipe for those of you who- like me- are doing their best to savor the last of these final Summer days with as many backyard BBQs and cookouts with friends/family as you can fit into your schedule!

If you’ve got 15 minutes to spare and some steak and vegetables on hand, you can whip up this on-the-fly dinner recipe with no hassle and feed everyone in no time at all!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 12 ounces top round beef, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil (or other neutral oil), divided
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1½ teaspoons crushed red-pepper flakes
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • ½ white onion, thinly slices
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
  • Sesame seeds, as needed for finishing (this is completely optional. I skipped using these this time around because I didn’t want them to get stuck in my teeth!)

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Season the steak with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the steak to the skillet and stir-fry until browned on the exterior but not fully cooked, about 2 minutes.
  2. Transfer the steak to a medium bowl. Add the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and crushed red-pepper flakes. Toss well to combine.
  3. In the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the peppers and onion in an even layer. Cook, tossing occasionally, until just tender, about 4 minutes.
  4. Push the peppers and onion to one side of the skillet and return the steak to the other side of the skillet. Cook for 2 minutes. Stir the garlic into the peppers and cook for 1 minute more.
  5. Garnish the steak with scallions and sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

I’m a carnivore through and through- and I love burgers, steaks, chicken wings, etc. during the Summer. The steak was filled with so much flavor- and I added a little extra soy sauce to the vegetables after the fact to give them an additional kick, as well.

This dinner was filling for sure- but afterwards I didn’t feel gross or like I ate too much. It was just the right portion size!

I’d actually like to incorporate some grilled corn (my favorite!) the next time I cook up this recipe for guests in order to add even more flavors and textures to it. You can’t really go wrong with the vegetable choices, after all!

But I’ve got to head out and get to work. I hope you all have a wonderful rest of your Fri-yay and a fantastic weekend!

See you all on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –

Backyard BBQ Recipes: Honey-Lime Chicken and Veggies in Foil

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

I’m getting ready to finish an early morning stretch and then get to work on some cases while simultaneously preparing for plans tonight with a particularly handsome fella- but before I dive right into that- I wanted to share a 30 minute recipe that is going to make your next grilling endeavor a breeze.

After fighting off wasps that have congregated on my back porch over the course of the past couple of weeks- I declared myself victorious and able to use my grill again without risking a hospital visit from being stung 100+ times. My first order of business were whipping up these “pocket dinners”- meaning the meal is cooked to perfection within a tin foil pocket.

It’s super easy to do- and, like many of the recipes here- can be completely customized with your choice of vegetables and seasonings.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • Four 6-ounce chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ears corn, halved
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced green onion

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the butter, olive oil, garlic, ginger, honey and lime zest.
  2. Using 12-inch sheets of foil, build four packets. Place a chicken breast in the center of each. Season it with cumin and paprika. Divide the asparagus among the packets. Brush the chicken and asparagus with the honey-ginger sauce and season with salt and pepper. Fold the foil over the food inside and crimp several times to seal.
  3. Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill the packets until the chicken is cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. About 5 minutes before the chicken is finished, add the corn to the grill and cook until it’s browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.
  5. Garnish the chicken with cilantro and green onion before serving.

What I love the most about this recipe- apart from quite a few different flavors  and textures blending perfectly together- is that this is also a pretty healthy dinner, too. The chicken breast isn’t covered in fattening breading and the vegetables are, well- vegetables. You can’t really mess those up.

I’ve since fallen down the “Pocket Dinner” rabbit hole online- finding a ton of recipes similar to this one to try- so here’s hoping the wasps keep away so I can keep using my grill during the next couple of weeks!

Enjoy your Hump Day, everyone! See you all on Friday!

xx

– Ashley –

Summer Sweets: Frozen Strawberry Lemonade Pie

Good Evening and Happy Monday, everyone!

I hope you all had a wonderful start to your week! While my posts typically go up early in the mornings before I head into my office for the day- I was a little pre-occupied this past weekend- and with my hours changing a bit at work (I come in a little earlier, stay a little later- and have half days on Fridays now!) I didn’t have a whole lot of time to get this yummy, sweet and just the right amount of tart recipe up on the blog ’til now!

Lemonade is my go-to, non-alcoholic drink to serve during the Summertime- especially when it’s scorching hot out (which it definitely has been around New England lately!)– since it’s so refreshing when it’s made right. When I saw this strawberry-infused, set-it-and-forget-it frozen pie version a couple of weeks ago- I knew I had to try out the recipe during one of my days off to share with friends as we tried to beat the heat and stay cool!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 12 tablespoons butter
  • 24 whole graham crackers, crushed into tiny crumbs (you should have 4 cups worth of graham cracker crumbs total.)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Water, as needed
  • 3 egg whites
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 8 ounces whipped topping, thawed
  • 16 ounces frozen strawberries, thawed

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. MAKE THE CRUST: Combine butter, crushed graham crackers, and ¼ cup sugar in a large bowl. Stir together until the mixture begins to stick together. To test the mixture, pinch a small amount at a time and see if it sticks. If it doesn’t- add a tablespoon of water at a time until it does.
  2. Divide the graham cracker crumbs between two 9 inch pie plates, using your fingers to press the mixture evenly across the bottom and up the sides. Place the crusts in the freezer while you make the fillings.
  3. MAKE THE FILLING: Place the egg whites in a clean mixing bowl. Use electric beaters or a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment to beat the egg whites on medium speed for 1 minute. Then add the lemon juice. Beat on medium high speed for another 4 minutes. The mixture will look foamy and thick. Add the sugar, a quarter cup at a time, and continue to beat on medium high speed for 1 minute after each addition (the eggs will take about 8 minutes total to whip up completely.)
  4. Add the frozen strawberries and beat on medium speed until they’re broken up and evenly distributed throughout the egg mixture. Fold in the whipped topping.
  5. Divide the strawberry mixture evenly between the two pie pans. Cover and freeze for at least six hours- or overnight.
  6. To serve, drop the pie plate in an inch of hot water for about 30 seconds to help loosen the crust. Then slice and serve!

I love this recipe because it’s sweet and sour- but the graham cracker crust helps break up the tartness with each bite! You can also add or reduce the amount of lemon juice and sugar incorporated into this if you want the pie to taste more sour or more sweet- depending on your personal preference. I think I’ll actually be adding a little more lemon juice next time!

Here’s to another lovely week of Summer ahead of us. We’ve already made it through Monday- so here’s hoping the rest is a breeze!

xx

– Ashley –