pie experiments

I recently found out about a pie cook-off contest in the city we live in. And as I’ve mentioned before (a few times), I love making pies! So I was really excited, and started experimenting with different crusts and fillings to come up with the perfect pie for the contest!

Unfortunately, they were only taking a very limited number of applicants (is that really the right word? you know what I mean) and all the slots were filled before I could enter! Alas. There’s always next year.

And I got to enjoy making (and sampling) all of these pies anyway!

mini pies

Don’t worry – these aren’t full size pies. I used little glass ramekins so that I could make several different pies with only one dough recipe. And not have to use as much fruit and such if the filling turned out to be less than great. So the pies you see here are a cherry pie (with fresh local cherries from the farmer’s market!), a peach pie, and an apricot pie (with apricots from the tree in our backyard!).

mini peach pie

I experimented a bit with the crust, and decided to try adding some cream cheese. It was good, but not great. It was a bit thicker and denser than I prefer – I like pie crust a bit more light and flaky. The fillings were all pretty good, but the apricot was my least favorite.

Time for some more experimenting.

Since I still had lots of peaches, I decided to try some variations on my peach pie, and a new crust.

mini peach honey pie

This time I used butter (instead of shortening like most recipes call for) and it came out much lighter and flakier than the cream cheese crust, and definitely more flavorful than the typical shortening crust. Winner. And for the filling, I used some honey instead of just sugar, along with cinnamon and nutmeg, and it made for a delicious combination of flavors! Winner! Except that the filling turned out really runny, so I’ll have to work on that and post the recipe once I get it perfected… But the taste was still amazing.

So even though I won’t get to enter the pie contest this year, I found my personal winner for the summer! And maybe next year I’ll have it perfected and enter the contest in time!

Moroccan couscous and roasted vegetables

I have a slight obsession with Mediterranean food. One of my dream vacations is to go on a Mediterranean cruise because I would love to see all the art and architecture and such, and I want to try all the amazing food! So many beautiful combinations of herbs and spices. I just love it.

A while ago I found a recipe for Moroccan chicken from the Betty Crocker cookbook, and it was amazing. We make it all the time. So I decided to take the basic ideas from that recipe, and adapt it to make Moroccan spiced couscous, and some roasted veggies to go with it.

moroccan couscous and roasted vegetables

its good for youUse whole wheat couscous for a healthier, higher-fiber meal. And all the vegetables are of course so healthy! There’s very little salt since there are so many wonderful spices, and the only fat is from the olive oil, which is also good for you. And of course, it’s delicious!

Put a medium pot on the stove with the water and olive oil, and bring to a boil. In the meantime, chop up all the vegetables, and toss them in a frying pan with olive oil, and a little salt and pepper if desired. Toss regularly, and cook until the onions are tender and the vegetables are getting nicely browned/roasted.

pan roasted vegetables

Once the water boils, add the spices and couscous, remove from heat and cover with a lid. Let it sit for about five minutes, then fluff the couscous with a fork.

moroccan couscous

Serve the roasted veggies with the couscous, along with Moroccan grilled chicken and sliced papaya, if desired. I know, it sounds a little weird to serve papaya with this, but trust me. It’s amazing. The flavors complement each other wonderfully.

moroccan chicken couscous and roasted veggies

Moroccan Couscous and Roasted Veggies

1 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups water
1 cup couscous
1/2 medium onion
1 medium zucchini
8 mushrooms
1/2 red bell pepper
1 small tomato
1-2 Tbsp olive oil

1. Mix all the spices together in a small bowl. In a medium pot, bring the water and olive oil to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, remove from heat, add spice mix and couscous, and cover with a lid for about five minutes.

2. Chop all the vegetables, and toss in a large frying pan with the olive oil. Cook, tossing regularly, until onions are tender and vegetables look nicely roasted.

3. Fluff the couscous with a fork, and serve with the vegetables. Serve with Moroccan grilled chicken and sliced papaya if desired.

For the Moroccan grilled chicken, use the spice mix from above, rub onto a chicken breast, and cook on a grill or frying pan. Slice and serve with the couscous and vegetables.

change it upYou could also add eggplant or artichoke hearts if desired

super simple chocolate sauce

My name is Megan, and I have a problem. I’m a little addicted to chocolate. It’s just so good! And so good with other things! And that’s why I made this chocolate sauce.

super simple chocolate sauce

It’s so quick and easy to make, and can be used for so many things! My favorite is on ice cream, but it’s also great on fruit, or used as a glaze for cakes or donuts, or to just eat by the spoonful. I mean…

simple chocolate sauce recipe

And all you need to make it is chocolate chips and half-and-half! And you can make as much or as little as you want – it’s just two parts chocolate chips, one part half-and-half. I usually do 1 cup chocolate chips, and 1/2 cup half-and-half. That makes enough for about 10 ice cream sundaes. And since it reheats well, if you have extra just keep it in the fridge and reheat it in the microwave.

In a small saucepan, heat the chocolate chips and half-and-half over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the chocolate melts and the sauce is smooth. It takes about five minutes. Pour over ice cream, fruit, etc.

super simple chocolate sauce recipe

It will set up a little bit, kind of like ganache, as it cools, but it won’t get hard.

Note: I used dark chocolate chips because I thought that would taste good with the amazing cherries we bought at the farmer’s market (it did!) But you could use dark, milk, or semi-sweet, depending on the taste you want.

Super Simple Chocolate Sauce

1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup half-and-half

Combine chocolate and half-and-half in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the chocolate melts and the sauce is smooth. Serve over ice cream, fruit, as a glaze, etc.