Tuna Casserole Pasta Salad

September 13, 2015

Tuna Casserole Pasta Salad - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

 

Margaux says…

I know, I know…why am I posting about something boring like tuna pasta salad? Where’s the cake? Cookies? Cupcakes? It’s end of summer harvest…where are the tomatoes? Zucchini? Sweet corn? Well, sometimes I have nothing in the pantry but a couple of cans of tuna, some pasta, some frozen peas and some parsley.  When I desperately need to go grocery shopping, it’s likely that I have those things. So I make this tuna pasta salad, a recipe from the Cook’s Illustrated 30-minute suppers magazine that I’ve vowed to post all of my favorite recipes from.

And this is not your normal tuna pasta salad. It’s not mayonnaise-y or sweet. It has great flavor and a little bit of a bite from the lemon, garlic and Dijon mustard. I like to serve it on a bed of arugula, and if I have them on hand, with a handful of cherry tomatoes thrown in, too. The original recipe calls for toasted breadcrumbs on top, which I don’t love the texture of, but I’ll include the steps to that for those of you who would like it!

Tuna Casserole Pasta Salad

adapted from 30-Minute Suppers from America’s Test Kitchen, Fall 2010 edition

2 slices high-quality white sandwich bread, torn into pieces (optional)

1/2 cup olive oil (plus 1 tbsp if doing bread crumbs)

3 tbsp juice from one lemon

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 (6-oz) cans tuna packed in water, drained and flaked into large chunks (I like the “chunk light” tuna)

1 pound small shells

2 cups frozen peas

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1. Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. If doing bread crumbs, pulse bread in food processor until coarsely ground, about 6 pulses. Heat 1 tbsp oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add bread crumbs and 1/2 tsp salt and cook, stirring frequently, until deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl.

2. Whisk lemon juice, mustard, garlic, Worcestershire, 3/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper together in large bowl. Slowly whisk in remaining oil. Gently toss tuna with 1/4 cup dressing in separate bowl.

3. Meanwhile, add shells and 1 tbsp salt to boiling water and cook until almost al dente. Add peas to pot and cook additional 1 minute. Drain pasta and peas and rinse with cold water. Add pasta, peas and parsley to bowl with remaining dressing and toss to coat. Gently fold in tuna and season with salt and pepper. Serve, topping each portion with bread crumbs.

Serve over a bed of arugula, or by itself with a green salad on the side.

Snickerdoodles

March 3, 2015

Snickerdoodles

Margaux says..

It’s really difficult for me to get requests for foods or treats out of my husband, except for when it comes to cookies. He loves cookies. If I baked cookies once a week, he would be a happy man. And his taste is simple: chocolate chip is his favorite, and any other simple cookie like unfrosted sugar cookies, chocolate cookies, oatmeal cookies, and snickerdoodles.

Snickerdoodles remind me of my childhood…both my aunt and my grandma made them on a regular basis. The flavor is like cinnamon toast, all buttery and cinnamony, a perfect treat on a dreary winter day.

Snickerdoodle dough

I love the texture of snickerdoodles…chewy in the center, slightly crispy on the edges. This recipe gives you that perfect texture. I’ve tried tons of different recipes for them, and sometimes they turn out a little too cakey, and sometimes a little too crispy. The Martha Stewart recipe is a winner. And they require very few ingredients, which most people have on hand, so they are the perfect spontaneous baking project!

Snickerdoodles

 

Snickerdoodles

adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Put butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in eggs. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture.

Stir together cinnamon and remaining 2 tbsp sugar in a small bowl. Shape dough into twenty 1 3/4-inch balls; roll in cinnamon sugar. Space 3 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Blueberry-Strawberry Shortcake

September 1, 2014

Blueberry-Strawberry Shortcake

Aunt Suzy says . . .

This weekend I signed up to bring dessert to a get-together with friends. I wanted to make peach pie, but couldn’t find ripe peaches. I remembered it’s the height of blueberry season and one of our farmers grows “everbearing” strawberries, so both were in the market at the same time. I searched the web for some ideas and came across an unusual approach I’d never tried – cooking some of the fruit into a compote and serving the shortcakes with a combination of cooked and fresh fruit. I had some trepidation about this, but thought what the heck! It was declared delicious by all, both with and without whipped cream! (I think this could be made with just blueberries, just strawberries, or a combo of blueberries and peaches as well.)

 The Shortcake

We recommend one of two recipes for the shortcake base. One uses butter and cream and one is the Joy of Cooking’s classic cream scones which I like to use when in a hurry – only 4 ingredients, plus heavy cream! Or use your favorite shortcake, biscuit or pound cake.

The Fruit

6 cups total fruit, mixed blueberries and strawberries

4 tablespoons total sugar

juice of 1/2 lime

Make the compote: Place 4 cups fruit (I used 2 cups blueberries and 2 cups strawberries, sliced in half) in a medium saucepan with 3 tablespoons of sugar and the lime juice. Stirring constantly, bring to a low bubble over medium heat, then simmer for 3-4 minutes until fruit is a little soft and juice is slightly thickened. Take off the heat, turn into a bowl and set aside to cool.

Prepare the fresh fruit: Place 2 cups fruit (I used 1 cup each blueberries and sliced strawberries) in a bowl with 1 tablespoon sugar. Let sit at least 30 minutes to macerate.

Final Assembly

Make whipped cream by beating 3/4 cup heavy cream with a mixer on high speed. Just before it’s completely whipped (soft peaks) add 1 tablespoon sugar and whip to moderately stiff peaks. Don’t forget you’re not making butter! Or buy your favorite pre-made whipped cream if you’d like. We won’t tell :-).

Split the shortcakes horizontally. Spoon compote on top of the bottom, top with fresh fruit and then with whipped cream. Place top half of the shortcake on to of the prepared shortcake at an angle. I’m looking at our photo – we were in too big of a hurry to eat this to arrange it all per instructions!

Greek-Style Chicken Kebabs

August 28, 2014

Greek Chicken Kebabs - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

 

Margaux says…

We recently got a new gas grill, which replaced an ancient double hand-me-down (it was handed down to us from someone who had it handed down to them).  Our new one is also a hand-me-down, but much much newer, with no rust and *GASP!* it actually evenly cooks the food.  The other bonus to the new one is I can use it!  The old one had all these quirks, and it wasn’t easy to get started.  I could do it, but not very easily, and definitely not on a weeknight with two crazy kids hanging on me.  This new one is easier to use than the stove!  So I’ve been grilling every other night…no pan to clean up, and the kitchen stays nice and cool.  This is one of my favorite grilling recipes, an adaptation from the recipe magazine I use all summer long.  It’s not as quick as some of them, and doesn’t take 30 minutes like the magazine says, but it’s still quick enough that I can do it on a weeknight.  Plus, I kind of make it more complicated by doing veggie skewers for my vegetarian son along with it.  The recipe calls for serving it along with grilled pita, but I usually also serve with grilled veggie skewers and a green salad.

Greek-Style Chicken Kebabs with Grilled Flatbread

adapted from America’s Test Kitchen 30-Minute Suppers, Fall 2010 edition

1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded and finely diced

1 1/2 cups plain Greek-style yogurt

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 tbsp juice from 1 lemon

1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried)

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks (about 1 1/2 lbs)

2 red onions, cut into 1″ chunks

4 pita bread rounds

1. Whisk yogurt, 2 tbsp oil, garlic, lemon juice, 1 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper in bowl.  Toss oregano, cayenne, and chicken with half of yogurt mixture.

2. Thread four 12-inch skewers with chicken and onions.  Grill over hot fire, turning skewers every 2 minutes, until onions and chicken are cooked through, about 12 minutes.  Transfer skewers to platter, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes.  Brush both sides of pita rounds with remaining oil and grill until lightly charred and warm, about 1 minute.  Transfer to platter with chicken.

3. Toss cucumbers with remaining yogurt mixture.  Season with salt and pepper and serve with chicken and pita.

Grandpa's French Dressing - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

I grew up in a big salad-eating family.  We ate a salad with every meal, and I loved it. Of course, it was iceberg lettuce, with shredded carrot and red cabbage on top, but I thought it was soooooo good.  At my grandparent’s house I loved it because it was drenched in this dressing, which we called “Grandpa’s French.”  I never knew where he got the recipe, or if he came up with it himself, and I had no idea what was in it other than oil, vinegar, paprika and a clove of garlic.  So I was never able to recreate it.  For years we ate salads with just plain oil and vinegar, or with Newman’s Italian (for a store-bought dressing, it’s pretty good).  Then, right after I had Desmond, my Aunt Judy and mom somehow found this recipe in my vintage Betty Crocker cookbook.  If I remember this correctly (I was in the “new mom haze’), we all agreed that it sounded just like Grandpa’s French!  So we made it.  Lo and behold, it tasted like Grandpa’s French!  Could it be?  He got the recipe from a cookbook??  I always imagined that it was some culinary genius that he came up with on his own.  But of course, it’s from Betty Crocker.  That was my grandma’s cookbook.  She was a “Betty Crocker” loyalist (vs. my Granny, who was in the “Better Homes and Gardens” camp).

Grandpa's French Dressing - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

I’ve been making this dressing for us ever since.  We haven’t bought dressing in YEARS…once you know the formula for a good vinaigrette, there’s really no point in buying dressing.  It’s 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar (or citrus juice, like lemon or lime), and spices.  Every once in awhile, I’ll make some other kind, but for the most part, we always have this in the cabinet (and yes, we keep it in the cabinet and not the fridge, just like my grandparents did).  This dressing is always a hit with everyone that tries it…I’m constantly getting asked for the recipe.  So I thought I should probably post it.  I wish I had a photo of my son drinking it out of the bowl after he finishes his salad…he likes it THAT MUCH.

Grandpa Major’s French Dressing

3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp smoked paprika (Grandpa used regular, but I like the flavor of smoked)
1 tsp dried mustard
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, whole*

Place all ingredients in a jar or dressing bottle, place lid on it and shake until completely combined. It’s best to make it at least a few hours before using, even better the day before, so the flavors have a chance to infuse.

*I prefer putting a whole garlic clove in, rather than mincing it.  My aunt minces it before putting it in.  It’s your call…but, Grandpa put it in whole, for what it’s worth.  🙂

Zucchini and Tomato Frittata

Margaux says…

I love making frittatas for dinner in the summer.  It’s a great way to use up random produce sitting in the fridge, it’s quick and easy, and it is best served at room temperature, which is great in summer.  I got the idea for this one from Skinnytaste.com, except this isn’t the skinny version.

Zucchini and Tomato Frittata

We don’t have tons of tomatoes and zucchinis like some people, because we unfortunately don’t have a garden.  But I know that when you do grow those things, they are plentiful, so this is a great way to use it up.  And the Asiago adds so much delicious flavor to this dish!

Zucchini and Tomato Frittata

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 large onion, diced

2 medium zucchinis, cut into matchsticks

8 large eggs

3/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese

1/4 cup chopped basil

salt and pepper

2 small garden tomatoes, sliced thinly

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Whisk together eggs with 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper and Asiago cheese.  Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a 10″ non-stick pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add zucchini and turn up heat to medium-high.  Saute until zucchini is soft, about 2 more minutes.  Add egg mixture and let sit for a minute, then tilt the pan and loosen the edges with a spatula, letting uncooked egg slide underneath.  Cook until the underside is golden but the top is still liquid, about 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes to the top of the frittata, sprinkle a little salt on them, and transfer to a center rack of the preheated oven.  Bake until the top is set, about 5 minutes.  If the top doesn’t set in that amount of time, turn the broiler on high, move the rack to the top position, and broil until the top sets, about 1-2 minutes.  Don’t overcook!  Remove pan from oven and let cool to warm.  Remove frittata from pan onto a large serving plate, or cut right in the pan and serve.  I like to serve it at room temperature, but it’s also good warm.

Steak and Zucchini Tostadas - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

I bought this recipe magazine on a whim 4 years ago while waiting in line at the supermarket, and it quickly became my most-used recipe book in the summer and fall. Every recipe I have made (and I have used almost all of them) have been fantastic. And they are super quick and easy. So, since I use this blog as my virtual recipe box and menu planner (along with Pinterest, of course), I thought I would post some of my favorites from the magazine, just in case someday it catches on fire from being too close to a burner, or accidentally gets dropped in the dishwater. Plus, you should try out these recipes, too! They’re great for a quick, easy and flavorful weeknight meal.
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I’m starting with the steak and zucchini tostadas. I don’t make these as often because we really don’t eat steak all that much (small business owner budget), but I have made this substituting lentil taco filling for the steak and it is also pretty good. My favorite lentil taco filling recipe is sort of a mash-up of my own taco seasoning and the lentil taco recipe from Budget Bytes.  Actually, I keep the lentil taco filling on hand in the freezer for whenever we have tacos, so I have it ready for my vegetarian son on taco nights.  But I digress….try these tostadas on your next taco night, you won’t be sorry.  Zucchini and steak is a great combo!

Steak and Zucchini Tostadas

adapted from America’s Test Kitchen 30-Minute Suppers, Fall 2010 edition

**To make this even quicker, you can buy already made tostada shells at the grocery store if your store carries them.  Here in Chicago there are a couple of different local brands that make them, and you can find them in the “Mexican” aisle.

12 (6-inch) corn tortillas

4 tbsp vegetable or canola oil

salt and pepper

1 small flank steak (or about 1 lb strip steak…I used that once because it’s what I had on hand)

2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced thin

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves

1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving

1 recipe pico de gallo, for serving (recipe follows)

1. Adjust oven racks to lower-middle and upper middle positions and heat oven to 450 degrees.  Brush both sides of tortillas with 2 tablespoons oil and season with salt and pepper.  Lay tortillas in single layer on 2 baking sheets.  Bake until golden brown and crisp, rotating baking sheets and flipping tortillas halfway through, about 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, pat beef dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Heat additional 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium high heat until just smoking.  Cook beef until well browned and it registers 125 degrees (for medium-rare), 4 to 6 minutes per side.  Transfer to cutting board and tent with foil.

3. Add remaining oil and zucchini to skillet and cook until tender, about 4 minutes.

4. Cut beef in half lengthwise, then very thinly slice beef crosswise against grain.  Divide beef and zucchini equally among tostadas.  Top with feta and cilantro.  Serve with lime wedges and pico de gallo.

Pico de Gallo

3 cored, seeded and diced plum tomatoes

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 jalepenos, seeded and minced (leave more of the seeds for more heat)

juice from 2 limes

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.

 

TACO TUESDAY!

March 4, 2014

Tacos - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

We love tacos around here.  Really really love them.  Especially since it’s become my son’s favorite food, and, well, if you have a toddler, you know how important that is.  Since Desi turned 3.5, he went from eating everything we gave him to becoming vegetarian and not eating much of anything at all.  We’ve come a long way from there, and luckily we have a kid that has never disliked vegetables, even through the tough eating times.  But he’s still pretty picky now, and won’t eat much of what I make anymore.  So we have back-ups in our fridge for nights that he won’t eat what I make for the rest of us: veggie dogs, taco and quesadilla fixings, cooked noodles and tomato sauce…you get the idea.  Kid stuff.  In the meantime, we have tacos as a family pretty often.  Almost once a week.  And when we saw The Lego Movie, we thought “Taco Tuesday” sounded pretty awesome.  Because, you know, “EVERYTHING IS AWESOME.”

I’ve been making my own taco seasoning ever since I discovered the recipe in my Joy of Cooking that Aunt Suzy gave me back in 2001.  I never loved the super salty McCormick packets that we always used before, and was super excited in my early cooking years to discover how easy it is to make yourself.  I almost always have taco seasoning stuff on hand, and it takes less time to make the meat and/or beans part of the tacos than it takes to prepare everything else.  Now that we have a vegetarian in the family, I make meat for us and season a can of black beans in almost the same way for him, basing it on this fabulous recipe that we posted about last summer.  I also almost always make homemade guacamole, because Desi decided he only likes avocados in that form anymore (we used to just put chopped up avocados on our tacos).  I use this recipe because it keeps longer and tastes better with all the lime juice in it.  I also make pico de gallo (recipe below) instead of just plain chopped up tomatoes.  It’s better that way, and then we can eat the leftovers the next day on tortilla chips for an after-school snack.  Our other fixings are shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, sour cream, taco sauce (not really needed, if you ask me…but hubby and son love the stuff), and black olives.  I know, it’s weird, but it’s what I grew up putting on my tacos, and one of the reasons Desi loves tacos so much.

We have a few other taco recipes here, because I think Aunt Suzy loves tacos, too.  Maybe not as much as Desi, though.  🙂

Chipotle Chicken Soft Tacos
Fish Tacos with Avocado Slaw and Chipotle Sour Cream
Fish Tacos with Lime Guacamole and Cabbage Slaw
Fish Tacos with Black Bean Salsa
Braised Greens and Onion Tacos

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

YES, we love tacos up here in the Northland also! A few comments:  We often do veggie tacos with seasoned beans, but Randy also makes the taco filling with Tempeh as a substitute for the meat. He breaks it up into small chunks and toasts it in a skillet with a little oil and whole cumin seeds to get it crispy. This helps it keep its shape and texture when added to the sauce with seasonings and onions. We also like diced zucchini and shredded carrot with these traditional style tacos. We often serve doctored up refried beans as a side. So Margaux . . . does your family like soft tortillas or crispy taco shells?  For us, corn is a must – no flour tortillas for these – and we go back and forth on soft or crispy!

Margaux says..

We like soft tacos…corn and flour.  I always buy both, and we all have a couple of each.  I almost never buy hard shells, mainly because I never think of it!  I’m sure Desi would love them.  I’ll have to remember next Tuesday!  🙂

Ground Beef, Chicken or Turkey for Tacos

adapted from Joy of Cooking

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 medium red onion, minced
1 lb ground beef, turkey or chicken
1-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
Pinch of anise seeds, slightly crushed
salt to taste
1 cup tomato sauce (one small can)
minced fresh jalapenos, other fresh chili peppers, or chipotle peppers in adobo

1. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, and cook, stirring often, about 4-5 minutes.
2. Increase heat to medium-high and add the meat. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 3 minutes.
3. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, anise and salt. Cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds, until fully incorporated and fragrant.
4. Add tomato sauce and minced peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat for 10 minutes.

Pico de Gallo

Seed and chop 2-3 Roma tomatoes, 1/4 red onion, and cilantro. Seed and mince half an jalepeno. Mix all in a small bowl together, with a squeeze of lime juice.

Chicken Chili

October 13, 2013

Chicken Chili - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

We have been BUSY around here.  With Desi starting school and Stella being at that age where she doesn’t sleep all the time anymore and is into EVERYTHING, I haven’t had time to do much of anything other than cook dinner and do dishes.  The rest of the (extremely dirty) house and my side projects have definitely suffered.  But fall is here, and I’m cooking new and fun things again, so I’m doing my best to make time to post about them.
Charred Veggies - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

My husband raved about this chili, and actually got really protective over the leftovers. I knew this meant that he really REALLY liked it, because usually I’m the only one in this house that eats any leftovers.  The charred veggies gives the chili a little bit of a smoky flavor…it’s very different than any chili I’ve ever made.  So I’m definitely making it again, even though that means I’ll have to make Desi his own little pot of chili because this one has meat in it AND is pretty spicy. But that’s ok…more leftovers for us.

Chicken Chili

adapted from Martha Stewart Living

10 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise

1 jalapeno (or I used a Fresno because the jalapenos didn’t look that good)

1 yellow onion, peeled and halved

4 garlic cloves, peeled

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 3/4-2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2″ cubes

1/4 cup chili powder

salt

2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

2-14 oz. cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Preheat broiler, with rack 3 inches from heat source.  Arrange tomatoes, jalapeno and onion, cut side down, on a rimmed baking sheet.  Broil until starting to char, about 5 minutes.  Pulse tomatoes and jalapeno in food processor until chunky.  Chop onion and mince garlic.

Heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add oil.  Working in batches, brown chicken in a single layer, allowing to sear before stirring, 5-6 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium.  Add onion to skillet.  Cook until soft and golden, about 8 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chili powder and 1 1/2 tsp salt.  Cook, stirring for one minute.  Stir in chipotles, and drain fat off chicken and add chicken to the pot.  Raise heat to high.  Add tomato-jalapeno mixture.  Cook, scraping up browned bits, until fully incorporated, 3-5 minutes.  Stir in stock; simmer for 20 minutes.  Add beans, simmer for 10 minutes.  We served topped with sour cream and tortilla chips on the side…it would also be great with shredded cheese and chopped avocados, and with corn bread on the side.

Easy Strawberry Tart

June 26, 2013

Easy Strawberry Tart - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

This was the weekend of getting stuff done.  Actually, every weekend needs to be the weekend of getting stuff done, but somehow that doesn’t happen.  If I haven’t mentioned it before, my husband and I (more my husband, less me) are remodeling our house.  FOREVER remodeling our house.  Right now we’re re-doing our upstairs bedrooms…all three of them.  It’s going slowly, as usual.  Since it’s summer, we’re also trying to make our outdoor spaces more livable so that we go out there more often.  I always feel like we spend more time at Home Depot and Menard’s than we do actually doing any work…but that might just be because I really don’t like those places very much.

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This weekend I got the front yard looking pretty great…mulched, weeded, re-planted a bunch of stuff.  And meanwhile, in the backyard, Jason painted the wicker furniture that I found in the alley a while back.  I love finds like that!  Now all it needs are some cushions and we’re on our way to some outdoor living!

IMG_8167

 

So complicated baking projects were out of the question…but I had two quarts of strawberries that I needed to do something with ASAP.  I saw this recipe on Martha Stewart’s website last week, and thought it would be the perfect quick dessert to use up most of the strawberries with.  I love tarts, but making the pastry cream can be so time consuming and tedious.  This was a great alternative, and who doesn’t like a dessert with cream cheese??  It reminds me of a dessert my Aunt Gigi always made for summer gatherings, especially the Fourth of July, strawberry pizza.  It’s the same idea, with a shortbread-type crust, cream cheese topping and fresh strawberries.  This is even better I think, though, because it has about twice the amount of cream cheese filling…yum!

Easy Strawberry Tart

adapted from Everyday Food

1 bar (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for handling dough
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 to 2 pounds strawberries, hulled and halved
1/4 cup seedless red currant jelly or apple jelly
1/4 teaspoon salt

Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, blend flour, butter, 1/3 cup sugar, and salt until moist crumbs form (this may take up to 1 minute). Transfer dough to a 9-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom. With floured fingers, press dough evenly into pan and up sides. Dip a dry-measuring cup in flour, and use it to press dough firmly into bottom and against sides of pan. Freeze crust until firm, 10 to 15 minutes. Using a fork, prick crust all over. Bake until golden, 25 to 30 minutes, pressing down gently once or twice with a spoon during baking if crust puffs up. Cool completely in pan.

Make the filling: In a medium bowl, mix cream cheese and remaining 1/4 cup sugar until smooth; spread mixture evenly in bottom of baked crust (still in tart pan). Starting from outside edge, arrange strawberry halves, stemmed side down, in tight concentric circles on cream cheese. Microwave jelly in a small bowl until liquified, about 30 seconds (keep a close eye so it doesn’t boil). Gently brush strawberries with jelly; let set at least 20 minutes. Chill in pan at least 1 hour (and up to 6 hours); remove from pan just before serving.