AM Northwest: Fresh Fruit Hand Pies

As a mom, there’s not much I get ‘props’ for. No one jumps for joy when I wash and fold their clothes; no one really notices when I go grocery shopping, or make lunches, or sweep the floor. (I wrote about motherhood being a tough gig not too long ago.) And hey – that’s the life of a mom, so I don’t sweat it. But one of the reasons I love, love, love to cook and to bake is because, without fail, when my kids catch whiffs of what I’m stewing, or baking, or sautéing… it draws them to me.

That’s the thing about cooking: the sweet, delicious smells created by my work call my babies to my side quicker than words ever do. They come in close, lean in, and ask for nibbles. They want to talk about what’s going into the pan; they ask questions like: Mom, did you make this up? Have I eaten it before? Will I like this?

They see ingredients at their finest – fresh, colorful, clean. They see me confidently using my hands to prepare and dice and toss and squeeze. They see me choose, and manipulate, and ‘dance’ my mama’s dance of love. And, when it’s all done, they enjoy the fruits of my labor.

It’s seeing my babies enjoy my ‘work’ and celebrate my ‘dance’ – that’s why I cook.

I especially love the squeals of joy when I make these:

Fresh Fruit Hand Pies with Homemade Flaky Puff Pastry

Fresh Fruit Hand Pies with Homemade Flaky Puff Pastry

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Call these my rebel yell against commercialize pop tarts, breakfast strudels, and sugary cereal. I dreamed them up in my kitchen one day when I had an abundance of mangos and some leftover tart dough… and I can’t believe it took me so long to begin creating these. They are just sweet enough with the fresh fruit and the slight addition of sugar that I wouldn’t hesitate to serve one for breakfast with a couple eggs – or as an after school treat with a glass of milk. And man, let me tell you: the kids really think they’re getting something spectacular when they eat these.

The crust is super simple, the filling is fresh and easy to prepare, and based on the reaction of my kiddos, all kids are sure to enjoy making and eating.

Here goes:

First, make the dough.

  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 2 regular sticks of salted butter
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 12-13 TBSP ice water
  1. Add flour, butter, and sugar to the bowl of a food processor. Turn on for 10 seconds nonstop. Then, pulse and additional 5-8 times. The goal is for butter bits to be about a little larger than pea sized…. so don’t over process!
  2. Drizzle a TBSP of water at a time through the top of the food processor and pulse for 1 second after each water addition.
  3. Pour mixture from food processor bowl into a large mixing bowl and, using your hands, squeeze the dough together until all of the mixture is stuck together. (NOTE: The dough should lean to the dry side. If it is too dry, wet your hands and continue to work dough until it adheres. If it is too sticky, add a tsp of flour at a time until the stickiness is gone.
  4. Form two discs, wrap in plastic, and chill.

While dough chills, prepare your filling. Here are some great options…

Mango/Coconut filling
Dice up some champagne mangos and toss with sweetened shredded coconut.

Apple filling
Peel and dice up granny smith apples. (Apple pieces should be just slightly larger than a corn kernal.) Toss the apples with a little sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Fresh Berries
Toss fresh blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries – anything! – with a little sugar and squeeze of lemon juice.

Assemble the handpies:

  1. Preheat the oven and a baking sheet to 400 degrees.
  2. Roll out your chilled dough on a floured surface until it’s about 1/8 of an inch thick.
  3. Cut out whatever shape you’d like with an oversized cookie cutter, or other found object from your kitchen. (Large coffee cups make great cutters for circular hand pies.)
  4. Fill the center of your shape so that you maintain about a 1/2 inch around the outside of the filling. Dip your finger in the egg wash and coat the edge along the outside of the filling.
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  5. Take a second shape and cover the filled piece. Gently push the edges together being careful not to push the filling out of the sides. Then, dip a fork into the egg wash and ‘seal’ the edges with the fork.
  6. Using a pastry brush, wash the top of the hand pie thoroughly, then score with either a knife or a several fork pricks.
  7. OPTIONAL: You can sprinkle colored pastry sugar over the top before baking. If you are making the apple pies, you can add chopped store-bought caramels and sprinkle a pinch of coarse sea salt over the top for a ‘salted carmel apple’ pie.
  8. Place the assembled pies onto a preheated baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for approximately 18-20 minutes, or until the pies are golden brown.
For "Salted Carmel Apple" Handpie: fill with prepared apples, a few pieces of store-bought carmel (diced), and then, after you apply egg wash to assembled pie, top with a pinch of corse sea salt.

For “Salted Carmel Apple” Handpie: fill with prepared apples, a few pieces of store-bought carmel (diced), and then, after you apply egg wash to assembled pie, top with a pinch of corse sea salt.

These little gems are amazing warm… but just as yummy served cold – especially when thrown into a lunch pail for your little love.

Check out today’s AM Northwest segment from this morning where Dave and I made these up:

http://www.katu.com/amnw/segments/Homemade-Fruit-Pies-204900551.html

Quinoa (Dutch) Baby, Oh Yeah!

My earliest memories of ‘breakfast’ are from when I was 5. We were living in an apartment in Oakland, California. Every morning before Kindergarten my nana would get me out of bed, sit me in my dad’s antique rocker with the velvet cushions and lions head arm-rests, and she’d serve me toast with strawberry jelly and a cup of coffee.

(Yes, I said “kindergarten” and “cup of coffee” in the same sentence.)

Sometimes I’d get cereal… and, sometimes I’d get her scrambled eggs. But without a doubt: breakfast was always one of those three dishes.

Then, my next breakfast memories are from when I was about 9 and in Guam. I remember the feel of the cool island air on my skin as I sat in the open doorway of our tin shack’s back porch. I always made it just in time to watch my nana throw cracked corn to the masses of chickens cooing in her honor. Half asleep, I’d watch her routine – and then, when her pockets were empty of the chicken goodies, she’d walk next door to her house and then return to mine with one of three things: a bag of warm donuts from the old man that used to sell them out of the back of his car on our street, a stack of her famous pancakes, or a plate of scrambled eggs.

Again, I could always count on it being one of those three things… and, honestly: the lack of variety never bothered me one bit.

So it is in my house these days. Breakfast is one of those meals where my kids can pretty much bank on one of a handful things, typically: cereal, fruit, and hardboiled eggs; quinoa porridge; or this:

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Quinoa Dutch Baby, served with a dusting of powdered sugar, a drizzle of real maple syrup, and fresh strawberries

The beauty of this dish is that, while it looks gourmet and totally wows the kiddos, IT IS SO SIMPLE. Seriously, it cooks itself! Here’s what you do:

Ingredients to make one 9×11 glass baking dish (feeds 4-5):

  • 4 eggs, room temperature (you can bring eggs to room temperature by soaking them in their shell in a bowl of warm water for 5 minutes)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup flour, sifted
  • two pinches of nutmeg
  • 1 cup of cooked quiona
  • 3 TBSP butter, sliced in squares
  1. Place your glass baking dish in the oven and pre-heat the oven (and the dish) to 425.
  2. Whisk your eggs until they are light. Add the milk, flour, and nutmeg; and, gently whisk until all ingredients are blended. (NOTE: It’s okay for it to be a little chunky, so don’t over mix!)

When the oven is ready, here’s where you’ll need to work a little quick:

  1. Remove the hot pan (carefully!) from the oven. Place the butter squares in the pan so they begin to melt. Using a fork, stab a butter square and butter up the sides of the pan, too.
  2. Pour the cooked quinoa into the buttered pan; toss it quickly through the butter and evenly distribute it.
  3. Immediately pour in your batter over the quinoa making sure the batter goes to each edge of the pan. (Yes, it will disrupt the perfect distribution of your quinoa, but that’s okay.)
  4. Return the pan to the oven. Bake for approximately 13-15 minutes, or until the center is set, and the sides are lightly brown and begin to curl up the sides of the pan.

Voilà!

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Now, here’s a big difference between my quinoa dutch baby and a traditional: This version won’t give you the impressive ‘rise’ of a true dutch baby due to the density of the whole quinoa. BUT, what it lacks in rise, it makes up for in texture and flavor. (Since you add the quinoa to a hot buttered pan, it crisps just a little and – mmmm! – you get a little crunch here and there…) 

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Now, peeps, seriously, there are some MUSTS for serving this yumminess hot out of the oven:

  1. You MUST use real maple syrup when you serve this little number… and just a drizzle! You don’t want it drunk on maple syrup.
  2. You MUST also use fresh fruit of some kind, like berries, or mango, or a warm fruit compote made by simply throwing some frozen berries in the microwave. The texture of this dutch baby is very dense, so the fresh fruit lightens it.
  3. You MUST dust with powdered sugar. Notice I said ‘dust’. It’s simply for effect more than anything. The goal is for the sweetness to come from the fruit and maple syrup, not an abundance of powdered sugar.

You may be asking: “Elisha, what if I don’t want it with the powdered sugar and maple syrup? ” Or, “what can I do with the leftovers?”

Here’s an alternative for serving (and it’s even better when they are cold):

Quinoa Dutch Baby topped with a dollop of plain greek yogurt and fresh strawberries

Quinoa Dutch Baby topped with a dollop of plain greek yogurt and fresh strawberries

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And that’s it!

Please note that this recipe is not gluten-free. I used regular flour for this recipe, although I’m guessing it’s possible to replace the regular flour with gluten-free flour. Would you do me a favor? If you make a gluten-free version of this, would you come back and share it with us? I’d love to hear how it turns out and what (if any) alterations you had to make to cooking time.

Happy eating everyone!

AM Northwest: Quinoa Super Snacks

Today I shared some quinoa love on Portland’s ABC morning show, “AM Northwest”! I had such a blast… especially because they LOVED the quinoa snacks I made. I mean LOVED THEM.

I made two SuperSnacks in my 6 minutes, both of which give that perfect power punch in the middle of the day: a sweet quinoa snack and a savory quinoa snack.

Here’s what I did:

Sweet Quinoa Super Snack –
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/3 cup greek yogurt
1/2 a banana, diced
1/2 a mango, diced
1/4 cup of coconut milk
sprinkle of unsweetened coconut
a drizzle of honey (if desired)

Savory Quinoa Super Snack –
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 fresh avocado, diced
handful of cherry tomatoes, each one cut in half
a drizzle of olive oil
the fresh squeezed juice from 1/2 a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

If you watch the segment, a couple of the ingredients for each dish don’t even make it in… yet Dave went bananas for both of them! After the cameras went dark he came right back over and totally finished off BOTH bowls I prepared for him. Even more rewarding was that the camera guy came over and let me feed him – and then two people that must have watched from a different part of the building came in, too! Everyone was gathered around my quinoa station for at least 15 minutes after the show ended… eating, talking, sharing food thoughts.

I must say that today was a good day.

Glad you’re here with me,
Elisha