I don’t know about where you live, but around here it’s been seriously hot and humid. We’re talking frizzy hair, sweaty body, lethargic brain kind of hot. The kind of hot where you just wanna lay on the grass under a sprinkler all day, eat ice cream till your tongue freezes, or consume half a frozen fruit pie before you remember to take pictures of it. Yeah,that kind of hot.
Bake a pie in this heat? Probably not the best idea. But I still want pie!
It seemed I was destined to lead a pieless existence until the weather cooled off. But wait… I have the perfect solution. A pie baked on the grill! Recently I’ve been obsessed with the idea of baking some kind of dessert on my grill. I think it started when I gotthis cool griddle accessory for my grill. Other people may think pancakes, potatoes, or sausages when they see a griddle. Not me, I think pie. Not the fancy kind of pie with crimped edges and a pretty lattice crust, but the rustic kind where jagged edges of dough fold up over the fruit and the filling threatens to burst out the sides. I think the proper term is a Crostata. But since I’m not very proper I’ll just call it a rustic pie or tart. Here’s the thing though. It was too hot to even turn on the grill. The thought of standing over the hot grates and attending to my pie/tart was unbearable. So I abandoned that idea too.
Right about now you’re probably wondering why I’m even telling you about this pie on a grill idea since I didn’t actually make it. Umm…well, maybe cause I’m still thinking about it and ideas shared out in the world are much more likely to come to fruition then ones left rattling around in my head. The thing is that I still very much want to make a pie on the grill. But this heat has made me cranky, and impatient, and craving something cold & refreshing. So for now a frozen no-bake fresh fruit pie will have to stand in as substitute. A pretty yummy substitute. And crazy easy to make…even on a hot, sweltering day.
You start with a graham cracker crust. Store bought or homemade, it doesn’t matter. I made my own by combining melted butter with graham crackers, brown sugar and bit of cinnamon. I then patted it into a pie plate and stuck it in the freezer for about 15 minutes. See, I told you- no bake!
Next comes the filling. Cool whip, vanilla yogurt and raspberry-peach puree. Simple, simple, simple.
More fresh fruit on top and then in the freezer it goes. Now comes the hard part- waiting for it to freeze. My advice? Have a popsicle while you’re waiting…or two, or three. Or better yet, sneak into your neighbors yard and jump in their pool. Splash around for a few hours and when you come back the pie will be ready. Tell them I said it was alright.
Frozen Raspberry + Peach Pie
Makes one 9” pie
1 1/2 cups graham crackers, crushed
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted + more for the pie plate
1 8 ounce (3 cups) container low-fat Cool Whip, room temperature
16 ounces low-fat vanilla yogurt
2 cups fresh raspberries, divided
2 peaches, 1 roughly chopped & 1 cut into thin slices
1. Make the crust: Butter an 8-inch pie plate and set aside. Place the graham crackers in a large sealable plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. In a medium size bowl, combine the crushed graham crackers, brown sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Stir well and press the mixture into the prepared pie plate. Pop the crust in the freezer for about 15 minutes.
2. Make the filling: In a food processor, puree 1 cup of raspberries with one peach. In a large bowl combine the Cool Whip and vanilla yogurt. Fold in the fruit puree and stir until it turns a uniform color.
3. Remove the crust from the freezer and pour in the filling. Level with a rubber spatula. Place the remaining fruit on top of the pie in any sot of configuration you like. Cover with plastic wrap and place the pie in the freezer for at least 4 hours.
*If the pie has been in the freezer for significantly longer than 4 hours, be sure to let it thaw for about 15 minutes before cutting. This way the crust will soften enough that it doesn’t crumble when you lift it out of the pie plate.
Remember me? I used to come here several times a week to share recipes and foods. Well…you might have noticed that I’ve been absent for awhile now. My last post was (gasp) over a month ago. I never intended to stay away so long, but now I’m back with an interesting story and a fabulous recipe. First the story. Do you remember way back in mid-April when I announced that my husband and I were planning on selling our house with the intention of living and traveling in our airstream for several years? We did it! That’s right- our house sold in the unbelievably short time of two weeks, the closing was six weeks later, and here we are today one and half weeks into our journey. So you can understand why I haven’t had much time for food blogging. In fact, the last two weeks before the closing I barely had time to cook anything beyond slapping together a random sandwich with whatever happened to be hanging out in the fridge. Things have changed though. Life has slowed to a pleasant pace and I’m more than ready to jump back into cooking. And thrilled that I once again have time to share my recipes with you. As with everything in life, my new living situation is not without challenges. The biggest one so far has been adjusting to my ultra mini traveling kitchen.Here is the kitchen in our aristream. As you can see it’s kind of, umm…small, tiny, microscopic. Surprisingly functional though. Everything has a place and I mean come on- two square feet of counter space is enough to cook anything right? Hmm…maybe not. I’m making it work though. I have a custom cutting board that fits nicely over one side of the sink and a fold up counter extension to the left of the stove where I usually assemble my ingredients before cooking. This is actually a great space because it’s right in front of the door which means enough light comes in to take an okay picture.
Tiny kitchen challenge aside, life in the airstream is wonderful! Travel, nature, adventure, new people, new foods, what could be better? My hope for this space is that it will turn into a sort of traveling cooking blog. A place where I can share my culinary adventures as I seek out local foods and turn them into meals. Sometimes I will share stories of the places we visit, such as wineries or farms, and sometimes I will just share the cooking part. I have a ton of exciting ideas, like a grilling series (dessert on the grill anyone?), a tiny kitchen cake baking challenge, an all local feast, and much,much more. I hope you will enjoy following along on my journey as much as I will enjoy sharing it with you. Oh! I almost forgot, if you want to see more pictures of our airstream or learn more about our traveling adventures hop on over to our travel blog at watsonswander.com.
Now on to the recipe. We spent all of last week in the Finger Lakes region of NY. If you don’t already know, this area is famous for it’s wines. There are wineries everywhere! Most of them are conveniently located along the shores of the lakes with gorgeous views of vineyards that slope down to the water below. Kind of like this.
There are so many wineries that you could literally spend days trying to visit them all. We only went to one, but judging by the amount of buses and limos we saw in the parking lot plenty of people hire someone to drive them around for the day while they go from spot to spot tasting wines till they can no longer stand (just kidding- we only saw one group of girls who looked like they might fall over). We chose Three Brothers Wineries on the shores of Seneca Lake. In part because it was only a 15 minute drive from where we were staying, but also because at one location you can visit three different wineries and one brewery. After tasting wines at two of the wineries we wandered out into the vineyard for a close up look at the grapes. This time of year they are still small, hard and green. I bet it’s really cool to come here in the fall when the grapes are ripe.
I was very good and only purchased one bottle of wine. I also couldn’t resist buying some tasty local cheese and a bottle of grapeseed oil. The Finger Lakes wines tend to be on the sweeter side. I think this has something to do with the climate and what kind of grapes grow best here. Sweet wine is okay for sipping with dessert, but for the most part I prefer my wine less sweet and more dry. Which is why the bottle I brought home was the driest one we tasted.
I also chose this wine with the intention of using it for cooking. A few days before I visited a farm stand where I picked up some local sugar snap peas. Peas + wine + pasta = a simple, yummy meal.
Before leaving Vermont I was lucky enough to have been gifted a lovely traveling herb garden. Fresh herbs are such a luxury while traveling, and yes, that is a hot pepper you see in the back.
Armed with my NY wine, local sugar peas and fresh from the campsite Italian parsley, I set out to make a simple meal. Just look at the setting where I got to enjoy it!
Sugar Pea Pasta with White Wine Sauce
8 ounces whole wheat linguine
2 cups sugar snap peas, ends & stings removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup onion, diced small
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
juice from 1/2 of a lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
a handful of fresh Italian parsley
a few curls of parmesan cheese
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions.
2. While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium high. Sauté the onions for 1-2 minutes or until they turn translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds more. Add the wine, broth and lemon juice. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon and cook for a few more minutes until the sauce thickens just a bit. Add the peas and cook for 5-6 minutes more until the peas are just tender and the shells turn a bright green.
3. Remove from the heat and season with a few grinds of fresh black pepper to taste. You can add salt if you like, but I find that the saltiness of the parmesan cheese is enough.
4. Serve the pea and wine sauce over the cooked pasta. Top with a sprinkling of parsley and a few curls of parmesan cheese.
I’ve eaten this salad 3 times this week…so far. That’s right- 3 times I’ve devoured a great big bowl of spinach smothered in balsamic dressing and topped with flavor-bursting roasted strawberries and crunchy bits of toasted almonds. I just can’t get enough. This was the first (but definitely not the last) time I roasted strawberries. I’ve roasted other fruits in the past. Things like pineapple, peaches, apples, and even lemons, but never strawberries. Let me just say right not that you HAVE to try this. As soon as the first bite hit my mouth I knew I was hooked and my mind began frantically plotting more ways to enjoy these soft and juicy amazing little fruits.
Roasting strawberries is simple. Well, roasting anything is pretty simple but strawberries are especially easy because they only need 10 minutes in the oven to achieve perfection. A drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of sugar, a dash of salt and pepper and in the oven they go.
Ten minutes later and voilà! Roasted strawberries. Soft but not mushy, sweet but not sugary and perfect in combination with a big ol’ pile of tender baby spinach leaves. The best part about this salad? It only takes ten minutes to make! While the strawberries are roasting you whip up a simple vinaigrette, toast some almonds and wash a bunch of spinach. Spinach goes in bowl, strawberries and almonds go on top, vinaigrette is generously drizzled over everything…and then you eat. Could it be any easier?
Roasted Strawberry and Spinach Salad
adapted from Williams Sonoma
1 pound strawberries, hulled and cut in half
5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 teaspoons sugar, divided (I used coconut sugar)
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 cup slivered almonds, toasted
9 cups baby spinach leaves
optional: 5 ounces Romano cheese, shredded*
1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. On a large rimmed baking sheet pile the strawberries, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons sugar and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Toss and spread in a single layer. Roast for ten minutes.
2. While the strawberries are roasting make the vinaigrette. Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, orange juice, remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar, a dash of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Slowly add the last 3 tablespoons of olive oil while you are whisking.
3. You can serve this salad two ways. If you have a crowd of people and anticipate eating it all at once simply pile all the spinach in a bowl, top with berries and almonds, drizzle with dressing, toss and serve immediately. Or, if you’re like me and want to eat this salad 3 times in 2 days it’s best to keep all the ingredients separate and make individual servings as you need them. This way the spinach doesn’t get soggy.
*The original recipe called for a bit of Romano cheese. While I love the idea of salty cheese combined with sweet berries I kind of forgot to add it the first time, and the second time decided that I liked it just fine without the cheese and left it out on purpose. By all means though- add the cheese if you want.