Strawberry pie fail, sort of

Strawberries were super cheap at the store last weekend, so I bought two pounds. With half a recipe of pie crust leftover from my quiche, I knew exactly what to do with those berries: make pie!

I adapted this recipe from Smitten Kitchen to work with strawberries only, and it looked beautiful going into the oven. But when it came out … strawberry soup.

Despite a quarter cup of cornstarch, those berries put out enough water to render it useless. I will say, though, that after draining off some of the juice, that pie was darn tasty.

Next time I think I will use the technique that I use in rhubarb crisp, which is to heat the berries on the stovetop first, then add the cornstarch and make sure it thickens before I put it in the crust. I don’t think the filling would get overcooked with the extra cooking time, but if I needed to dial back the baking time, I think the crust would still get done. That was no problem.

Do you have a good strawberry pie recipe?

Yummy enchilada casserole

I made up this recipe because I’d made something similar before, didn’t really like it, and figured I could do it better myself. Turns out I can.

I combined the original enchilada recipe with a burrito bake recipe, added vegetarian chorizo, and voila. It was super tasty. By the way, this Melissa’s soyrizo is one of the only fake meat products I really like. We buy it all the time to put in scrambled eggs or to use in place of taco meat.

What I liked about the burrito bake was that it used turmeric to flavor the recipe. It’s one of those spices that seems reserved for curries, but you can definitely use it elsewhere. Not only is the color this brilliant yellow, but the aroma is wonderful, too.

I also like the addition of salsa verde, and the fact that I made my own enchilada sauce. It was wonderful, and so easy to make. I will never buy that canned stuff again.

Yummy enchilada casserole

1 medium onion, chopped (reserve 1/4 for the enchilada sauce, diced really small)
2 T. vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t. turmeric
1 cup uncooked basmati rice
2 cups veggie broth
1/2 a tomato, seeded and chopped
1 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup salsa (your favorite brand)
1 T. chili powder
1 t. cumin
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
Another T. each of cumin and chili powder
1 T. lemon juice
3 wheat tortillas
1 bottle salsa verde
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Start by sauteeing the onion and garlic in oil until translucent. Then add the turmeric, stir, and add the broth. Heat to boiling, then simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through.

(I can’t get over how great the color turns out!)

While that’s cooking, prepare your enchilada sauce. Heat a little more oil in a pan and add the finely chopped onion. Next add the fresh tomato. Squish the pieces with the back of a spoon and cook until it forms a paste. Then add the tomato sauce, salsa, tablespoon of chili powder and teaspoon of cumin. Cook just a few minutes until the sauce thickens slightly. Pour into another container and set aside.

In the same pan, heat another splash of oil over medium high heat and quickly brown the soyrizo. While that’s cooking, mix the black beans with the cumin, chili powder and lemon juice in a bowl.

Shred the cheese. If you’re me, get really excited about your new Pyrex cheese grater with measurement window. Woo hoo!

Now you can start assembling the casserole. Really you can do this in any order you like. It’s all going to taste the same in the end. But this is how I did it.

Spread half of the salsa verde on the bottom of a 9X13 casserole dish.

Layer one and a half tortillas over that.

Next add half of the rice and half of the beans. Top with half of the cheese. Arrange another one and a half tortillas, then top with the rest of the salsa verde. Add the rest of the rice and beans, the chorizo, the enchilada sauce, and top with the rest of the cheese.

Looks pretty good, huh?

Bake for 20 minutes and serve.

Loving: sun jar

I got this sun jar as a gift quite a while ago, but for some reason my first attempts at using it didn’t work. I was resigned to thinking I got a broken one, but when I went through the basement digging things out for our garage sale, I saw it sitting there in the box and had to try it once more.

The instructions said its reusable battery might need to be replaced occasionally, and we had just recently bought some of those. So I took the jar apart, replaced the battery, and set it in the sun to charge. Sure enough, as the sun went down it light right up. So we’ve been enjoying it ever since.

Did you know you can make one of these yourself?

The BEST oatmeal cookies

Found this recipe on Joy the Baker and thought I would try it. Wow, was it a good one.

There’s something about the way these cookies look that just seems perfect to me. Like a designer cookie. But they are very simple to make.

Plus, don’t you always feel a little less guilty when it’s an oatmeal cookie?

Strange…

The strangest thing happened today, and I just had to share it with you. Around 4 this afternoon I decided I had to spend some time outside because it was so beautiful out. So I took my book and a blanket and headed to the backyard. Normally when I go out to read I drag the blanket into the grass, but post-rain the grass was really high and, I figured, hiding lots of bugs. So I laid the blanket on a patch of patio and started reading there.

After a while I put the book aside and just looked up at the huge tree I was sitting underneath. It’s our big walnut tree, the one that drives me crazy when it starts dropping nuts. But it had just started leafing out, and against the blue, blue sky it was looking so pretty. It reminded me of living in the mountains – how blue the sky was. How much I used to savor my walks outside. It was one of those stop-and-smell-the-roses moments. Really nice.

After an hour I had to go back inside and get ready to teach my Nia class. A while later Mike came home from work. He went into the back yard to check out the garden, but he came back right away. He asked me if I had noticed that a branch was down (because it was also really windy today). I said no, but I’d heard some noises that I thought might have been banging doors or something. Well, it turns out a huge branch fell off of that tree, the one I was sitting under. It fell right where I had been sitting. If I had still been there, it probably would have hurt me.

Weird, right?

I don’t believe in signs, and I don’t even know what something like that would mean. But it’s a hell of a coincidence.

Loving: iPad

Looky what I got to play with last night. Mike brought home an iPad from work. It doesn’t have much on it, but I at least got to see how it looks, feels and works. I can’t say I feel the need for an e-reader in my life at this point, but I do find the iPad pretty cool. It seems similar in size to a lot of books, and for everyone who’s tired of pushing tiny buttons on a cell phone or PDA it’s nice to be able to really see what you’re looking at. When I have an extra $500 on hand (which is never), I’ll think about it.

Asparagus and cheddar quiche

Quiche and springtime just seem to go hand in hand, so I decided to add it to the menu this week. And since we have those local farm eggs, I thought it would be a good use for them.

I scoured the Internet for the perfect recipe, and after a lot of not-quite-right ones I found Pioneer Woman’s recipe. I knew I’d have to change a few things (especially since one big ingredient in hers is bacon), but overall it was a really good place to start.

I also used the Perfect Pie Crust recipe from her site, which you can find here. I didn’t change a thing, but I think next time I might substitute butter for some of the shortening for more flavor. When I took a pie baking class last fall the teacher actually used equal parts butter, shortening and cream cheese in her crust, and it was amazing.

This crust recipe was so easy to work with. Probably because it had so much fat in it, it just came together in a couple of minutes and held together nicely. After about 15 minutes in the fridge and then 15 in the freezer I rolled it out (well half of it), no problem. I wrapped up the other half to save for another time. Or perhaps a dessert pie?

For the filling, I decided to go with roasted asparagus, caramelized onions and cheddar cheese. Then I dropped a few green onions on the top before baking. I really think it’s important to cook the veggies before you add them in, both for flavor and texture. The only thing I would change would be to cut the asparagus a little smaller next time. Some of my pieces were like 2 inches long and a little chewy.

Oh, and the pan I used was much too shallow. Some of the egg overflowed, so I was glad I placed a cookie sheet underneath. Next time I’ll either use a bigger pan, fewer eggs and cream, or divide it into two quiches.

So here’s how my recipe came out:

Asparagus and cheddar quiche
adapted from the Pioneer Woman

1 bundle fresh asparagus, ends snapped off
1 medium onion, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
7 eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
4 green onions, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Start by roasting the asparagus in the oven with a little salt, pepper and olive oil at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, turning it halfway through cooking.

Meanwhile saute the onions with the butter until they just start to get caramelized.

Roll out the crust until it’s about 1/4 inch thick and gently place it over your pie or tart pan.

Press it into the corners, trim the edges, and then fill in any holes with leftover dough and press the edges with your fingertips to make it look pretty.

In a big bowl, whisk the eggs with the cream and a little salt and pepper. Chop the asparagus into 1-inch pieces and add that, plus the caramelized onions and cheese.

Carefully pour the filling into the pie shell and use a spoon to make sure the veggies are evenly distributed. Sprinkle the green onions on top.

Set the pan on top of a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about an hour. You’re supposed to cover it lightly with foil, but I forgot that part, and it it came out just fine, so I’ll leave it up to you.

To relist or not to relist

To my blog readers who are also Etsy sellers, how often do you relist items? I am a pretty infrequent relister, but I’ve been hearing lately that it’s a good thing to do often. In your experience does it pay off?