No-Bake Chocolate Coconut Balls Recipe

No-Bake Chocolate Coconut Balls Recipe

Our monthly guest blogger, Erin from Food Wise Family, is sharing the perfect holiday treat that will be the star of your next holiday party. If you are looking for a last-minute, homemade goodie to take to a holiday party or for a Christmas cookie swap, look no further. These no-bake chocolate coconut balls are simple to make, deliciously chocolatey and crunchy, and secretly healthy.
 
Healthy Holiday Sweets
During the holidays, it’s so easy to load up on sugary treats because they are everywhere. A great solution for this is to make sweets that utilize something that’s already naturally sweet. While these chocolate coconut balls are addicting and indulge your chocolate craving, they are also guilt-free because they are sweetened only with dates. No added refined sugars here…just pure, natural dates!  

This recipe is also paleo, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free, making these chocolate coconut balls a great choice for anyone with special dietary needs or certain food allergies.

Packed with protein from the almonds, these little chocolate coconut balls are also more satisfying than you think, making it easy to stop at only eating one or two.
 chocolate coconut balls
No-Bake Chocolate Coconut Balls
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Chill Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serving: About 14-16 balls, depending on size
 
Ingredients
1 cup pitted soft Medjool dates(about 15 dates)
1 cup raw almonds
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup melted virgin coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
2-3 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut, as a topping
 
Instructions
1. Add dates to food processor and pulse several times until they are roughly chopped.
2. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the shredded coconut topping, to the food processor and blend until mixed well. 
3. Using a spoon, scoop out enough mixture to easily roll into a small ball using your hands. Continue until you’ve rolled all the mixture.
4. In a small bowl, place the remaining shredded coconut and gently roll each chocolate ball to evenly coat with the coconut.
5. Place balls on a parchment lined plate, tray or baking sheet, and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
6. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and serve chilled.
 
I believe that the food we put on the table should not only be healthy, but easy and full of flavor. Check out my website foodwisefamily.com for more wholesome recipes. 
Homemade Paleo Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Homemade Paleo Cranberry Sauce Recipe

Erin, our guest blogger over at Food Wise Family, has a healthy cranberry sauce recipe that is sure to be your new holiday favorite!

Whether you are cooking Thanksgiving dinner for the whole family, or you are just bringing a side dish for the upcoming holiday, homemade cranberry sauce is the way to go. Skip the canned stuff and buy some fresh cranberries instead. This dish is perfect for making the day before and grabbing from the fridge just in time for dinner.

Cut Out the Refined Sugar
I can’t have a turkey dinner without cranberry sauce, but when I started eating paleo I wanted a cranberry sauce that wasn’t full of refined sugar. So, I adapted this recipe from my mom’s that she makes every holiday.

To make this cranberry sauce recipe paleo, I removed all the refined sugar and replaced with real maple syrup.

I chose maple syrup because that’s something we always have in the house; however, you can substitute the maple syrup with honey or coconut sugar. If you use coconut sugar, make sure it completely dissolves before adding the cranberries.

Paleo Cranberry Sauce

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients
Juice and zest of 1 orange
1/2 – 3/4 cup of real maple syrup*
1 small piece (about 1 inch in size) of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
3 cups of fresh cranberries

Instructions
1. In a large saucepan, combine orange juice, orange zest, maple syrup, and ginger. Simmer for about 5 minutes, while stirring often.
2. Bring to a gentle boil on medium heat and stir in cranberries. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cranberries pop and the sauce starts to thicken (about 10 minutes).
3. Let cool and place in a storage container. Refrigerate until serving time.

*Recipe Note: Use 1/2 cup of maple syrup for a more tart cranberry sauce, or use 3/4 cup of maple syrup for a sweeter version. Personally, I enjoy a tart cranberry sauce!

Cranberry Sauce steps

I believe that the food we put on the table should not only be healthy, but easy and full of flavor. Check out my website foodwisefamily.com for more wholesome recipes.

See more of Erin’s recipes on our Butcher Block Co. Blog:

Make Your Own Pumpkin Spice

Super Moist Gluten Free Banana Bread Recipe

Try Our Recipe For Easy Grilled Sweet Potatoes

 

National Fig Week – Gettin’ Figgy With It

National Fig Week – Gettin’ Figgy With It

National Fig Week is November 1st-7th, which falls between the summer and fall harvest seasons. Unfortunately for us in Phoenix, that means no fresh figs in the grocery store. Fresh or not, figs are a fascinating fruit! Or are they…? Turns out figs are actually inverted flowers! Each fig is basically a sack filled with tiny flowers. Figs have been considered an aphrodisiac food since ancient times, due in part to their, umm, resemblance to a certain anatomical part that I will leave to your imagination (this is a family-friendly blog!), plus the fact that they are filled with seeds. Let’s not forget the world’s original lingerie: fig leaves. We’ll discuss this more later.

If all this fig talk is revving your engine, grab your closest hungry friend and get figgy with it!

Figs are packed with potassium and iron to keep you pumped up during your favorite fig frolicking. We’ve got the most delicious Fig, Blue Cheese, and Honey Crostini to kick off the festivities.

Fig

Tips before starting:

  • Taste all of your ingredients.  Grab a chunk of baguette, a blob of blue cheese, a piece of fig, and a couple drips of honey and try them all together. This will give you a great starting point for how to assemble your toasts.
  • If your cheese is super pungent, go easy. If it is more mild, though, slather it on.
  • Dried figs are going to have more concentrated sweetness than fresh.
  • I prefer a good quality, local honey.  The stronger your blue cheese, the more honey you can use.
  • A lovely alternative to honey is a balsamic reduction. Reduce balsamic down slowly over medium-low heat until it becomes syrupy. This should cook out some of the acidity, leaving a punch of flavor with a bit of sweetness.
  • If you’re not into blue cheese, go away. Just kidding! If blue cheese isn’t your thing, try goat cheese as a lighter alternative. Add a little fresh rosemary for extra earthiness. There is plenty of room for creativity!

Fig

Fig, Blue Cheese, and Honey Crostini

  • Baguette
  • Olive Oil
  • Blue Cheese
  • Figs (dried or fresh), sliced
  • Honey

Slice baguette on the bias into 1/2” thick pieces. Brush both sides with your favorite olive oil and toast on both sides until light golden brown. This can be done stovetop or in the oven; or for even more flavor, toast them lightly on the grill.

Meanwhile, prepare figs. If using dried figs, simply slice into 2-3 pieces. For fresh figs, if you’ve already got the grill going for your bread or a main course, cut figs in half, brush with olive oil, and lightly grill, cut-side down. Slice into thin pieces.

Heat blue cheese for about 10 seconds in the microwave until spreadable.

Spread blue cheese on each piece of toast. Top each toast with sliced figs and return to oven for a few minutes to warm the figs through. I popped mine in the toaster oven at 400°F for 4-5 minutes.

While your toasts are warming up, get your honey ready to drizzle. High quality honey is more likely to solidify a bit in cooler temps, so you may need to heat it up slightly. Scoop out a tablespoon or so into a microwave safe bowl and heat in five second bursts (mine literally only took five seconds) until runny.

Transfer warm toasts to your serving dish and drizzle liberally with honey.

Slap on your fig leaves and have some fun!

Fun Fig Facts

Having researched more into figs, I think part of the aphrodisiac quality comes from the terribly sexy way figs are fertilized. Those internal flowers are pollinated from the inside by a very special fig wasp, who dies after depositing her eggs and pollen into the fig’s ovaries (seriously, that’s what they’re called). When the male wasps hatch, they fertilize the unhatched females, and then tunnel through the fig flesh and die. Newly hatched female wasps pick up some pollen from inside the flowers, stretch their freshly-grown wings, and make their way out through those sacrificial brotherly tunnels, off to find a new fig to turn into a nursery. I read half a dozen articles about this and was still a little confused, until I found this fun and informative video with illustrations. It was a bit off-putting at the end when our host tells us we’re eating dead wasp bodies, but it turns out that’s a bit of a stretch. Figs produce enzymes that break the wasp exoskeleton down during ripening, so you don’t need to worry about getting wings stuck in your teeth. Besides that, most of what we find in the grocery store are “common figs,” which are artificially polinated without the need for wasps.

Do you believe in the aphrodisiac power of foods? I ate an entire tray of these fig crostinis, and I can’t say I got anything but full… So it’s probably safe to serve these at Thanksgiving.

 

Make Your Own Pumpkin Spice

Make Your Own Pumpkin Spice

Erin, our guest blogger from Food Wise Family, is getting us ready for yummy, pumpkin spice season! 

How to Make Pumpkin Spice
Now that fall is upon us, pumpkin spice is everywhere and somehow in everything, so it’s time to make a fresh spice blend. With only five ingredients, you can have this delightful autumn spice blend in five minutes or less. I am all about making homemade spice blends, and that includes pumpkin spice, which is also called pumpkin pie spice. This tasty blend is made up of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice, and somehow manages to encapsulate all that is fall.

Why You Should Make Your Own Spice Blends
Making your own spice blends saves money, especially if you already have the spices. A quick peek in the cupboard might reveal that you already have the ingredients for pumpkin spice. Without even thinking about it, you just saved some money by looking in your cabinet and making your own spice mix. Even if you don’t have all the spices, making your own blend will still save you money in the long run, particularly if you use a lot of pumpkin spice, or if you cook a lot with the individual spices.

Additionally, making your own pumpkin spice at home means you can customize the spice blend to meet your needs. If you have an allergy to a certain spice or just don’t like it, leave it out. Customize your blend to fit you and your family.

What Is Pumpkin Spice Used For
Typically, pumpkin spice is used in sweet pumpkin recipes, such as pumpkin pie, pumpkin cake, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, and don’t forget your pumpkin spice latte. Don’t limit yourself to just using it with pumpkin recipes. Branch out and sprinkle it on warm homemade applesauce, on freshly roasted butternut squash, or even delicious candied maple pecans. Get creative and liven up your food with these warming autumn spices this season.

Pumpkin Spice
Total Time: 5 Minutes

Ingredients
2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1.5 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1.5 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice

Instructions

  1. Add all spices to a small bowl and mix well.
  2. Place spice blend in a small airtight container. Store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.

Note: This mixture fits perfectly in a 4-ounce glass mason jar.

Homemade Pumpkin Spice
I believe that the food we put on the table should not only be healthy, but easy and full of flavor. Check out my website foodwisefamily.com for more wholesome recipes.
Read our other Butcher Block Co. blogs featuring pumpkin!
Super Moist Gluten Free Banana Bread Recipe

Super Moist Gluten Free Banana Bread Recipe

Our guest blogger, Erin, of Food Wise Family, shares with us a favorite fall baking treat for the family – gluten free banana bread!

Fall is almost here, so it’s time to crank up the oven and get baking. To me, nothing is more reminiscent of fall than banana bread, but maybe that’s just because my mom used to bake it around this time of year when I was a kid.

This gluten free banana bread is super moist and perfectly browned with that classic banana flavor. Not only is this bread gluten free, but it is also paleo friendly and grain free. Additionally, it is sweetened with bananas, applesauce, and maple syrup, making this recipe free of any refined sugars.

Use Up Those Overripe Bananas
Besides how irresistibly delicious this bread is, my favorite part about this gluten free banana bread recipe is the fact that it lets no bananas go to waste. It seems like bananas are underripe forever and then before you know it they are overripe, and somehow you missed the window of perfectly ripened before they got too mushy. Or at least, that’s the case for us. I cringe at the thought of throwing away food, so being able to use up overripe bananas in breads, muffins, or pancakes is a plus. (Tip – you can save overripe bananas in the freezer with their peels on. When you need one for baking, just pop it in the microwave for a few seconds until it softens.)gluten free banana bread ingredient
Is Your Baking Powder Gluten Free?
To keep this recipe gluten free, read the label and make sure your baking powder is gluten free. To my knowledge, there is no paleo or grain free baking powder on the market, so I make my own. Making your baking powder only requires baking soda, cream of tartar, and a few minutes of your time. If you’re interested, check out my instructions here.
Gluten Free Banana Bread
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Baking Time: 50 Minutes
Total Time: 60 Minutes
Wet Ingredients
4 large eggs
2 mashed large overripe bananas (about 1 cup)
1/3 cup melted extra virgin coconut oil
1/3 cup applesauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
Dry Ingredients
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup arrowroot flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
Nuts
1/2 cup chopped raw pecans
Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Grease a 9” x 5” bread pan with coconut oil.
3. In a large bowl, mix all wet ingredients until thoroughly combined.
4. In another bowl, combine all dry ingredients.
5. Slowly add the dry ingredient mixture to the wet ingredients while thoroughly mixing.
6. Gently stir in pecans.
7. Add batter to the greased pan.
8. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.
9. Let bread cool for at least 20 minutes before removing from the pan.
10. Store tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to one week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Although, this gluten free banana bread does not last in our house for more than two days before we gobble it all up.
Note: Unlike most wheat flour banana bread recipes, this gluten free banana bread recipe does not fill the entire bread pan once baked. So, if your bread is just a little over half the height of the pan, you did it right.gluten free banana bread
I believe that the food we put on the table should not only be healthy, but easy and full of flavor. Check out my website foodwisefamily.com for more wholesome recipes.
Try Our Recipe For Easy Grilled Sweet Potatoes

Try Our Recipe For Easy Grilled Sweet Potatoes

I would like to introduce you to our newest guest blogger, Erin Higgs, who is a food blogger at Food Wise Family. She creates wholesome, delicious paleo recipes with a focus on family, and she will be contributing to our blog monthly. When Erin is not in the kitchen or writing, you can find her playing peekaboo with her toddler. We hope you enjoy her first, of many, blog recipes!

The long weekend celebrating Labor Day is almost here. I imagine you probably already have an idea of what meat you’re grilling up for the holiday, whether it is a juicy hamburger or some tasty chicken kabobs, so I’m here to talk about making a side dish.

A side dish should be appetizing, but simple. With only five ingredients and quick prep, easy grilled sweet potatoes fit both of these standards.

Easy Cleanup
One of my favorite parts about grilling is the cleanup, or should I say the absence of cleanup. There is no messing with pots and pans. This sweet potato side dish is entirely cooked in an aluminum foil packet, making cleanup a cinch. I double up the aluminum foil to make sure there is no break in the foil packet while cooking.

Sweet Potatoes Are Amazing
We cook sweet potatoes a lot in our house, and there is no exception when it comes to grilling. This nutrient-rich vegetable is not only versatile when it comes to cooking, but also just absolutely delicious. For this recipe, I leave the skin on the sweet potatoes, but you can certainly peel them before cubing them if you prefer.

Easy Grilled Sweet Potatoes Prep
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Grilling Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 40 Minutes

Ingredients:
2 large sweet potatoes, washed and cubed
2 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil (melted) or olive oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

* Other spices to consider are sweet paprika, cinnamon and rosemary.

Instructions
1. Place two large sheets of aluminum foil on top of each other.
2. Position the sweet potatoes in the center of the aluminum foil, while keeping plenty of room to fold the foil up. Bring the sides of the aluminum foil up and lightly fold at the top. (Make sure it’s a light fold because we will be opening this back up in the next step.) Tightly bunch both ends of the foil.
3. Open the foil up at the top. Add oil and spices to the potatoes and gently stir to coat the potatoes. Firmly refold the aluminum foil on the top.
4. Place sweet potato foil packet on a hot grill and close the lid.
5. Cook for 30 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are soft. Remove foil packet from the grill with tongs.
6. Allow sweet potatoes to slightly cool and serve directly from the foil packet.

sweet potatoes cubed

spiced sweet potatoes

I believe that the food we put on the table should not only be healthy, but easy and full of flavor. Check out my website foodwisefamily.com for more wholesome recipes.

Try Our Spanish Paella – Meat and Seafood Recipe

Try Our Spanish Paella – Meat and Seafood Recipe

National Spanish Paella Day is March 27th, but you can make this amazing rice dish any day. There are many versions of paella recipes but what they all have in common is rice, meats, veggies and saffron spice, which turns the rice a beautiful golden color.

Spanish Paella originated in the Valencia region in eastern Spain. Classic paella usually is made with rabbit, chicken, snails, beans, and artichokes and seasoned with saffron and spices. Still hugely popular in Spain today, the recipe for paella has expanded over the years, and now many different varieties of paella are passed off as authentic. Paella is cooked over an open fire in a traditional paella pan. It is commonly made with rice, chicken, fish, seafood and any veggies you would like.

Today, Spanish Paella can be found all around the world. If you order paella outside of Spain you will likely get a rice dish with chicken and seafood.

My introduction to Spanish Paella came in October 2014 when my husband and I traveled with family to Madrid, Spain. It was October and the weather in Madrid was absolutely beautiful – ideal for strolling down the streets and eating at outdoor cafes. Here, we found an abundance of restaurants serving tapas and paella, family-style, in festive outdoor patios.

We fell in love with Spanish Paella so much that my husband came back and assembled this paella recipe with an assortment of Spanish meats and seafood. The beauty of paella is that you can make it your own, adding and subtracting ingredients as you wish. It is not difficult to make paella, but it is best to be organized ahead of time. Here are a few tips before you get started:

  • Tip 1– Prep and chop as much as you can in advance
  • Tip 2– Grill outside
  • Tip 3 – Invest in a real paella pan  – a large, flat, open pan that has handles on both sides for easy lifting. We recommend a pan 15” to 19” in diameter.

Ingredients:  We have organized our ingredients for this recipe by the different prep components, including the brine, broth, meats, veggies, seafood and garnish. 

BRINE (for chicken)
1-1/2 cups water
½ cup coarse salt
¼ cup sugar
2 bay leaves
1 Tbsp peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
Peel from a small orange
4  Star anise
¼ cup loose green tea

BROTH
6 cups very strong chicken broth (bouillon)
1/2 tsp saffron
4 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
1 small onion, peeled

Spanish Paella broth

MEATS
¼ lb Spanish Salame
¼ lb Spanish Ham diced (Jamon serrano ham)
1 ½ lbs Spanish Chorizo cut into ½” pieces
2 lbs Boneless Chicken Breast or Thighs cut into bite size pieces (approx. 1-1/2” square)

Spanish Paella meats

VEGGIES/RICE
1/2 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 scallions, chopped
4 Tbsp chopped garlic
2 fire roasted red peppers from jar, coarsely chopped
3 cups short grain Spanish rice, such as Bomba or Calasparra
5 Tbsp chopped parsley
2 bay leaves, crumbled
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 bag frozen artichoke hearts (12 oz.)

SEAFOOD
18 clams and/or mussels, scrubbed, or 12 oz. Peeled shrimp or frozen langostino tails

GARNISH
Lemon wedges for garnish
Parsley for garnish  

Preparation: 

BRINE THE CHICKEN – Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Stir to make sure the salt and sugar have dissolved. Let cool to room temp. Strain out all of the herbs and discard, keeping the brine broth.
Add the cut-up chicken to the brine. Refrigerate for at least two hours or as long as overnight. Remove chicken from broth, drain well and pat dry with paper towel. 

COOK THE CHICKEN –  Coat the chicken with olive oil and sear it in a preheated pan on the stove for 3 minutes. Transfer the pan to a 350 degree oven and cook for about 10 minutes. Set the chicken aside for later.

BROTH – Heat the chicken broth with the saffron, paprika and the whole onion. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Remove the onion and measure the broth — you need exactly 6 cups for later.

MEATS – In a paella pan over medium-high heat add the ½ cup of olive oil. Once hot, add in Spanish Salame & Spanish Ham. Cook for 5 minutes. Then add the Chorizo to the pan and stir fry about 10 minutes.  (Do not add the chicken). 

Spanish Paella prep

VEGGIES – In the paella pan with the cooked meat, add the chopped onion, scallions, garlic, & roasted red peppers and sauté until the onion is wilted. Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat it well with the oil. Sprinkle in the chopped parsley and the crumbled bay leaves.  Stir in the 6 cups of boiling hot broth. Add the wine and rice. Salt to taste. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, over medium high heat about 10 minutes. Add the cooked chicken and bury it in the rice.

SEAFOOD – Add the clams and the mussels (or other seafood) with the edge that will open facing up, pushing them into the rice mixture.

COOK MIXTURE – Scatter the paella with the artichoke pieces, then bake at 325 degrees F, uncovered, for 20 minutes. If using a grill outside, close the lid and grill for 20 minutes. 

GARNISH – Remove paella from the oven/grill and let sit, lightly covered with foil, for about 10 minutes. Before serving, decorate with lemon wedges and chopped parsley.

Spanish Paella

What does authentic Cuban Paella look like? My girlfriend Michele in Florida hosted a Paella party featuring Seafood Paella and Meat Paella. This looks spectacular!

Cuban Paella

 

 

Roasted Cauliflower Rice Recipe

Roasted Cauliflower Rice Recipe

The cauliflower rice craze continues to spread and I love it.  Touted as the new kale, it remains a trendy and healthy veggie often prepared as a substitute for rice in recipes. It has also found its rightful place as an alternative ingredient in many gluten-free recipes and even pizza crust!

I am pretty happy preparing it as an alternative to rice, as I attempt to avoid bad carbs and stick with healthy veggies instead. Like rice, the cauliflower morsels will soak up the flavor of the surrounding seasonings making it very flavorful. There is nothing too fancy about this recipe, but everyone needs a tried and true recipe now and then, and this roasted cauliflower rice can be made just how you like it. Best of all, it is not mushy because instead of it being sautéed in a pan, you roast it in the oven to the desired crispness!

Ingredients

  • 1 bag (16 oz.) – Cauliflower Rice
  • ¼ cup – Garlic Infused Olive Oil or use whatever flavor you like!
  • Fresh Tarragon
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 lemon juiced

Preparation

Preheat to 425 degrees convection roast. For those of you who are true cooking enthusiasts, you may want to make your own cauliflower rice by ricing the florets in your food processor. But if you are like me and looking for the easy route, use the already riced Cauliflower you can find at Costco and other stores.

In mixing bowl, combine cauliflower rice, infused olive oil (Trader Joe’s), salt and pepper. Stir. Spread the mixture on a foiled cookie sheet. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, then stir it around a bit. If you like crispy cauliflower rice, continue to roast to desired crispness. Take it out of the oven and add 2T chopped fresh tarragon to the top.  Fresh tarragon is really worth it, so make the extra effort to purchase it. Transfer your roasted cauliflower rice to a serving bowl and add the juice of 1 lemon and stir. Serve.

I like to double the recipe so that I have extra available to add to other goodies I find in my fridge. I will add it to other roasted vegetables, or add some rotisserie chicken to it to create another meal. I even mix it in with my less trendy kale salad!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie – A Fresh Summer Dessert

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie – A Fresh Summer Dessert

Claire is back and she brought Strawberry Rhubarb Pie! Claire has never let us down in regards to summer delights, and this is the perfect dessert as we transition into the hot summer months. Let’s all take advantage of the farmers’ markets and roadside stands this weekend to pick up some fresh fruit and see what treats we can come up with. In the meantime, Claire has pie to share.

A little birdie has told me that it’s dessert week at Butcher Block Co. I know for a lot of people, that might conjure images of chocolates or cakes, but my favorite desserts are all fruit-based. Baked fruit, fresh fruit, whatever, I love it. We’re coming into fruit season now, and I can tell because giant, weathered rainbow umbrellas are popping up along roadsides over tables offering the best local summer produce at the best prices. We’re not quite at stone fruit season, but I am here for the early summer offerings, like strawberries and rhubarb. I love rhubarb, but like so many of the best foods, I didn’t appreciate it in my youth. I thought it was too tart, and also, it was a weird food that no one ever heard of and it looked like weird celery. When I was a kid, my mom would make rhubarb pie, and I would eat the crust and the ice cream and leave the filling. I was an idiot with bad taste; I always ordered the chicken sandwich in restaurants, which is why I didn’t discover how good hamburgers could be until I was well into my adulthood. But I digress.

When I was a teen, my dad actually planted some rhubarb in our front yard. I watched it grow from a little puff of leaves on slender pink stems into a giant, fan-leaved monster that threatened to take over the whole garden. By that time, like all teens, I still hadn’t completely grown out of my idiocy, but at least I had better taste. I started making a mess in the kitchen trying to copy my mom and grandma’s pies. I did apples in the fall, peach in late summer, and as the spring would start to turn hot, I did my part to rescue the garden from the encroaching rhubarb-pocalypse. Of course, as an obnoxious teen, I couldn’t stick to their tried-and true recipes. Instead, I stole all the newly-ripened strawberries from the tiny patch at the side of the house and put them into a pie with the rhubarb. It turned out awesome. It was like a revelation. My family never really came around to my side – old habits die hard, I guess.

For me, strawberry rhubarb pie is my absolute number one pie pick.

I don’t make a ton of pies anymore. It’s less fun when the mess is in my own kitchen and I can’t rely on my dad to come in behind me and start doing dishes. Also, I am a grown adult person, and I can’t just go around eating pies all the time. Still, when I see those umbrellas pop up along the roadsides, I know I have to do at least one strawberry rhubarb pie to bring me back to those flour-coated summer days in the kitchen, my dad buzzing around me with a sponge and the whole house smelling like heaven. Heading home from the grocery store last weekend, I saw one of those rainbow umbrellas, and I had to stop. Fifteen minutes later, I was at the kitchen table hulling the sweetest strawberries, the whole house already smelling like heaven.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
I don’t have my grandma’s recipe on hand anymore, so for this strawberry rhubarb pie, I used Deb Perelman’s recipe from the Smitten Kitchen, which of course turned out amazing, even though I over-cooked the filling a smidge in order to get a prettier color in the crust. I really like the way the tapioca thickened the juices without affecting the flavor at all. Then I figured, as long as I was committing sacrilege by deviating from my family’s recipe for the filling, I might as well go whole hog. Mom, you may want to stop reading here.

My grandma always made the same crustStrawberry Rhubarb Pie for every pie with just flour, salt, vegetable shortening, and a little hot water to bind it all together. It’s a great workhorse crust. It doesn’t have a ton of flavor, but it’s reliable and simple to make, it works for a savory or sweet filling, and it’s what I grew up with, so it has always been my go-to. However, my mantra in the kitchen and in life is that the worst reason to do a thing is “because that’s how my parents always did it.” Plus, maybe I still have some of that obnoxious, rebellious teen in me. I decided to try my hand at an all butter crust for a change, and I am telling you, my eyes have been opened. It was flaky, rich, and as much the star of the dish as the incredible filling. After a perfect pie like this, I don’t think I could ever go back to shortening. Sorry not sorry, Grandma.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

In the spirit of dessert week, my husband and I have devoured nearly the entire glorious pie in the space of five days. I top each serving with some gently sweetened whipped cream, and I shamelessly lick the plate clean. What are you doing for dessert week? What is your quintessential summer dessert? Is it weird that I’m strongly considering making another strawberry rhubarb pie this weekend?

Food Processor Favorite – Olive Tapenade Recipe

Food Processor Favorite – Olive Tapenade Recipe

Are you a food processor aficionado? You should be! This versatile kitchen gadget, while large, makes short work of many tasks and will earn its keep every time you entertain. Sarah is here to share some of her favorite ways to use the food processor, along with a simple and versatile recipe for Olive Tapenade that is sure to please your palate. Alright, Sarah, get us all mixed up in this food processor world!

Greetings, entertainers. Let’s talk tech! I love kitchen gadgets, and when I was thinking around my kitchen for a favorite, one immediately sprang to mind. Not only is this gadget versatile, but it is easy to use, pretty noisy, and for me has some stress-relieving benefits.

I am, of course, speaking of none other than the food processor!

Why is a food processor so great? First, I never had one growing up, Food Processorso it went in the class of kitchen gadgets I thought of in my head as “super crazy technical and awesome” (along with the mandoline). I only ever saw them being used on cooking shows, and seeing professional chefs use them for everything made me want one pretty badly.

Fast forward a few years to when I finally put one in my own kitchen, and I’m a pretty happy camper. Do you want fresh salsa? Toss in a mango, some chiles in adobo sauce, and some fresh tomatoes. Run out of hummus halfway through the party? Never again. This thing is the king of dips, and as an added bonus, puts you in the front row to watch things being pulverized.

One of my favorite things to make with a food processor is tapenade. I usually have all the necessary ingredients in my kitchen, which mostly speaks to my love of olives (and anything salty). So let’s get down to it—how do we make this treat for your guests?

Ingredients

  • Olives. I like to use a combination of olives from the olive bar at my grocery store, but if you have a favorite, that works, too. Kalamata olives make great tapenade that turns out a pretty purple color. The key here is no pits.
  • Olive oil. Seems unnecessary, right? Wrong. Just a drizzle is absolutely necessary to getting your tapenade a smoother consistency.
  • Capers. Just a few!
  • Lemon juice. Salt loves acid. Enough said.

Food Processor

Directions

Assemble your food processor. For me, this means choosing the correct-size bowl, and determining which blade to use. I chose a smallish 4-cup bowl to keep my ingredients close together, and the standard chop blade that came with my machine. Some food processors offer doodads that julienne and add all kinds of awesome knifework to your ingredients. Olives are so small that it’s not necessary here.

Add olives! I chose a mix of dried black olives, red pepper Spanish queens, and kalamata. I used enough to almost cover the bottom of my food processor, but for a party, you’ll want closer to 2 cups.

Now capers. I used a heavy hand because I know I like the pungency. I wouldn’t use more than a teaspoon-full for guests.

I squeezed half a lemon using another favorite gadget—a citrus juicer. Pro tip—put your citrus in flat side down so that the squeeze turns the lemon inside-out.

Turn your food processor on low to blend your ingredients. I let it go about twenty seconds, or until the food stops moving around the bowl.

Once your olives are all stuck to the sides of your bowl, turn the processor off, remove the lid, and scrape the sides. Now, the magic. Add a little bit of olive oil, and turn it back on low. I’d recommend about a tablespoon, or enough to keep the pulverized bits moving around the bowl as the machine goes.

Do the check, scrape, add olive oil thing until your tapenade is the consistency you like, and then serve with pita chips or pita bread (I’m a sucker for pita bread with tapenade!). If you want to make it extra fancy, toast your pita in a pan on the stove first with a little butter.

So what are your favorite kitchen gadgets? Any that were a childhood dream realized as an adult (I know I’m a huge nerd)? Happy entertaining, hosts!