Mini Blueberry Cornmeal Pies (Vegan) & Making Pie Crust EASY!

OK SO I COULDN’T WAIT.

I couldn’t wait 4 hours for a slice of pie like I was supposed to, cuz of the whole *letting the filling set* and all that.

But that’s just what happens when you take the pies out of the oven at like 8 PM and they’re so mini and corny and blue that there’s no way you’re waiting till midnight for a bite. I mean, I waited like an hour so that should count for something. Long story short, my filling ran allll over the place. The plate, the table, my face. But it sure does thicken up nice if you give it a chance. (No regrets)

Vegan Blueberry Cornmeal Pie | memo2munch

Vegan Blueberry Cornmeal Pie | memo2munch

Vegan Blueberry Cornmeal Pie | memo2munch

Vegan Blueberry Cornmeal Pie | memo2munch

I know a lot of people worry about making pie crust from scratch, but I learned a new technique that makes it SUPER EASY.

Use a food processor.

So easy. And you get flaky results EVERY TIME, no matter what fat you use.

A chef named J. Kenji López-Alt created this method, and you can read all about his food-sciencey reasons why it works here if you feel so inclined. Then if you’re like me, you’ll swoon & decide this is the man you are going to marry. (But don’t actually do that very last part k thanks)

Also, it turns out bae has a cookbook coming out on September 21st! It’s called, The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science. How serendipitous. Not that this was news to me, or anything. We are engaged after all.

As a final ode to summer, I used one of her greatest berry triumphs for these pies, along with a sprinkle of cornmeal in the crust ’cause why not? That texture. Give ’em a try 🙂

Blueberry Cornmeal Pie
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For the crust
  1. 1/2 c. cornmeal
  2. 2 c. all-purpose flour
  3. 2 tbsp. sugar
  4. 1/2 tsp. salt
  5. 10 tbsp. vegan butter or shortening (can use regular butter if desired), cut into small pats
  6. 3-4 tbsp. ice water
For the filling
  1. 2 pints blueberries (about 4 cups), fresh or frozen
  2. 1/2 c. sugar
  3. 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  4. 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  5. vegan buttermilk, for brushing (optional, can be made mixing 1/4 c. vegan milk and 1 tsp. lemon juice)
Instructions
  1. Make the crust: In the body of a food processor, or in a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, 1.5 cups of the flour, all of the sugar, and the salt and pulse/whisk briefly to incorporate. Scatter the butter pats evenly over the surface and pulse/cut until no dry flour remains and dough just begins to collect in clumps, about 25 pulses. Use a rubber spatula to spread the dough evenly around the bowl of the food processor. Sprinkle with remaining flour and pulse until dough is just barely broken up, about 5 short pulses. Transfer dough to a large bowl.
  2. Sprinkle with 3 tbsp. of the water and fold and press the dough using the spatula until the dough comes together to form a ball. Add another tablespoon of water if necessary. The dough won't be crumbly, like normal pie dough. Don't worry!! Divide ball in half. Form each half into a 4-inch disk. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before rolling and baking.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F/ 190 degrees C. Let the dough stand at room temperature for ten minutes before rolling it out to 1/4 inch thickness. Transfer the dough from one of the balls to your pie pan of choice and trim edges.* The other ball will be used for the top.
  4. Make the filling: In a bowl, stir the blueberries with the sugar, flour and lemon juice, lightly mashing a few berries; scrape into the prepared pie crust. Brush the overhanging pastry with water and carefully set the top crust over the berry filling. Press the edges of the dough together and crimp decoratively. Cut 4-5 slits in the top crust. Brush with buttermilk if desired.
  5. Bake until crust is dry and lightly browned all over and fruit is bubbling. This will vary depending on the size of your pie pan. My 5 inch pans took about 40 minutes, a regular pie will likely take at least 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cool for at least 4 hours before serving so the filling can thicken up.
Notes
  1. *Leftover dough can be rolled out, brushed with butter and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, cut into squares, and baked in an oven until crispy to make pie crust chips. Don't waste that dough!!
Adapted from Serious Eats
Adapted from Serious Eats
Memo2munch http://memo2munch.com/

memo2brunch: GF Baked Oatmeals & GF Banana Choco Chip Bars!

So having a kitchen at college has helped me realize something. I love–like, LOVE–feeding people.

Ok well, duh. BUT I want to make a distinction. What I’m talking about is not the same as cooking for the sake of cooking and then deciding to share it with others. It’s cooking with the intention of providing something for people I care about. Cuz food and happiness go together, and everybody needs both.

During those moments when I get to watch my friends sitting in our living room, laughing and talking with each other, a plate of my food in hand, my heart just swells right up. I think to myself, “Hey, I got to provide people with this small bit of joy.” And that feels really, really good. I get allll the fuzzies. Every fluffy puppy known to man.

(Cleaning the apartment = worth it)

Shout out to Grandma and Poppy, who have brought our family together for delicious food more times than I can count. Your house is the hub! Thanks for showing me how it’s done. 😉

This school year we’ve had a few brunches at the apartment where I get to lure people over to our “hub” with the promise of lots of carbs. Here are some pics from our most recent one, along with the recipes! We had blueberry pecan baked oatmeal, maple bourbon baked oatmeal, and banana chocolate chip bars. Mmmmmm <3

memo2munch | baked oatmeal

memo2munch | baked oatmeal

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Recipes: (There are 3)

GF Baked Oatmeal with Maple Bourbon Sauce
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For the oatmeal
  1. 3 cups certified GF rolled oats
  2. 1/2 c. brown sugar
  3. 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  4. 2 tsp. baking powder
  5. 1 tsp. salt
  6. 1 c. unsweetened almond milk
  7. 2 eggs
  8. 1/2 c. melted Earth Balance or coconut oil
  9. 2 tsp. vanilla extract
For the Sauce
  1. 1 c. pure maple syrup
  2. 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  3. 1/4 tsp. allspice
  4. 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  5. 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  6. 1/4 c. bourbon
Instructions
  1. Make the oatmeal: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/175 degrees C. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. Toss dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Stir in the milk, eggs, melted coconut oil, and vanilla extract.
  3. Spread evenly in greased baking dish. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
  4. Make the sauce: Heat all on high until incorporated. Then lower heat and keep warm until oatmeal is done.
  5. When the oatmeal comes out of the oven, pour about half of the sauce on top of the oatmeal. It will soak in and be delicious! Save the rest for people to add as they want it.
Memo2munch http://memo2munch.com/
GF Blueberry Pecan Baked Oatmeal
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Ingredients
  1. 2 c. certified gluten free rolled oats
  2. 1/2 c. pecan pieces, toasted and roughly chopped
  3. 1 tsp. baking powder
  4. 1.5 tsp. ground cinnamon
  5. scant 1 tsp. salt
  6. 2 c. unsweetened almond milk
  7. 1 egg
  8. 1/3 c. maple syrup or honey
  9. 3 tbsp. melted coconut oil or Earth Balance or butter
  10. 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  11. 1.5 c. blueberries, fresh or frozen (I used frozen because berries are not in season)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/175 degrees C. Grease a 10 inch cast iron skillet or other baking dish.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients except the berries and mix well.
  4. Pour some of the oat mixture into the pan. Top with some berries. Repeat with remaining oats and berries.
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Serve with more syrup, if desired.
Adapted from Epicurious
Adapted from Epicurious
Memo2munch http://memo2munch.com/
GF Banana Chocolate Chip Bars
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup mashed, ripe banana (from about 3 medium bananas)
  2. 8 tbsp. brown sugar
  3. 4 tbsp. honey
  4. 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  5. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  6. 2 large eggs
  7. 1/3 cup brown rice flour*
  8. 1/3 cup finely ground corn flour*
  9. 1 tsp. salt
  10. 3 cups GF instant oatmeal (uncooked)
  11. A whole lotta chocolate chips (Add until it looks like enough)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/174 degrees C. Coat a foil-lined 9x13 inch rectangular baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Beat bananas and next five ingredients until blended.
  3. Combine flours and salt in a separate bowl. Gradually add dry ingredients to banana mixture. Stir in the oatmeal, and then fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing into bars.
Notes
  1. *You can sub any flour you want, as long as it equals 2/3 cup
Memo2munch http://memo2munch.com/

Blueberry Hand-Pies of Cuteness

It feels awesome to be posting a recipe again! It’s been how long? About a month I think.

Woooow.

Blueberry Hand-Pies | memo2munch

It’s crazy that life can get so busy and hectic in ways you least expect during the summer. I mean, it’s SUMMER. In my brain, that equals a 0 on the scale of hecticity. (Ooh, I’m proud of that one.)

But life doesn’t always see things the same way we do.

As far as blueberry hand-pies are concerned, however, I think life and I are on the same page. Because there’s only one way to see a blueberry hand-pie. And that’s two seconds before you devour it/the whole pan.

I didn’t see anything. 😉

Blueberry Hand-Pies | memo2munch

Anyway, I made these a really long time ago, and I’ve been waiting to share them in all their mini, juicy, portable, delectable, adorable, VEGAN, blueberry glory.

YEAH, I SAID VEGAN! But don’t ignore the rest of the sentence. It’s all important. I mean come on, they’re portable. They can go with you anywhere. No hand-pies left behind. Now that’s a campaign I can get behind.

I don’t believe in adding a bunch of crazy ingredients to make something vegan. I like simple substitutions, and the majority of the time that’s all it really takes. In this recipe we’re taking the fat and replacing it with coconut oil.

Coconut oil in pie crust = 110% A++

Much healthier than shortening, much more vegan than butter, and much more tropical-sounding than any vegan butter substitutes.

Plus the outcome is DELICIOUS.

Also, I think the hand-pies look like mini crescent moons, and I can’t get over it. Mini. Crescent. Moons. Look at that moon-shaped juice outline.

Blueberry Hand-Pies | memo2munch

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Vegan Blueberry Hand Pies
Yields 7
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For the crust
  1. 2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  2. 1/2 c. coconut oil, solid
  3. 1 tsp. salt
  4. 1/3 - 1/2 c. ice water
For the filling
  1. 2 cups (285g) blueberries
  2. zest of 1 lemon
  3. 1/4 c. (50g) sugar
  4. 1/4 tsp. salt
  5. Vegan butter for wash (you can use a whisked egg white instead if you want, but it won't be vegan)
  6. Coarse/turbinado sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
Instructions
  1. Make the filling: Toss the blueberries, lemon zest, sugar, and salt together in a bowl.
  2. Make the crust: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line an edged baking pan with parchment paper. Combine flour and salt in a large bowl and toss to combine. Add coconut oil and use a pastry cutter or a fork to incorporate the oil until you have a crumbly mixture. Add the water, bit by bit, until dough begins to visibly come together. Small crumbs here are fine, just make sure the dough will stick together when you form it into a ball.
  3. Roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into 5-6 inch rounds. (I used a small bowl with a fairly sharp lip to cut mine.)
  4. Place a large spoonful of filling onto one half of each round, being careful to leave room around the edges to seal.
  5. Wet your finger and run it around the edge of one round. Then fold the round in half over itself to create a half-moon shape. Use a fork to crimp the edges of the curved side together. Repeat with remaining rounds. Use a small knife to cut two small vents in each pie. Transfer the pies to the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Melt the vegan butter in the microwave in 30 second intervals until melted. Brush the tops of all of the pies with the butter, then sprinkle generally with the coarse sugar.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes until tops are golden brown. Let cool slightly before removing from pan to avoid breaking the pies.
Notes
  1. Don't skip the parchment paper! You will have a giant mess of a pan to clean later if you do!
Adapted from Completely Delicious
Memo2munch http://memo2munch.com/

Blueberry Peach Corn Flour Pancakes (No Modern Wheat!)

When you’re not too good at something, the only way to get better is to practice.

I’m not too good at flipping pancakes. So…

BRING OUT THE SPATULAS, IT’S PANCAKE TIME!

Blueberry Peach Corn Flour Pancakes Cornmeal

And not just any pancake time either. We’re talking made-with-corn-flour/modern-wheat-free/stuffed-with-blueberries-and-peaches pancake time. Oh, yes.

You see, most recipes call for part corn flour or cornmeal and part all-purpose flour. However, after learning the truth about gluten intolerance and modern wheat, I’m giving some substitutions a try. This recipe uses spelt flour, and I give it an A++.

Blueberry Peach Corn Flour Pancakes cornmeal

If you’re unfamiliar with spelt—also known as farro—you’re not alone. It’s mostly cultivated in Europe and very rarely in the US, especially after the introduction of modern wheat to the US food system.

It’s exactly what I’m looking for in a grain these days. Get this: it’s an ancient variety of wheat that hasn’t changed since biblical times. No cross-breeding. No genetic alterations. It’s exactly the same. Were you aware that could still happen these days? ‘Cuz I wasn’t so sure.

Blueberry Peach Corn Flour Pancakes Cornmeal

And you can substitute it for regular flour without making any adjustments!

As if you needed another reason to make these pancakes, I’ll give you six more. These pancakes have:

A subtly sweet flavor
Bursts of juicy blueberries and peaches
A satisfying texture
The “fluff” factor
A gorgeous, pale, yellow hue
My heart <3

Am I serious? You’ll never know until you make them!

Blueberry Peach Corn Flour Pancakes Cornmeal

I’m pleased to say that besides for the first couple of flips, pancake-making went quite smoothly. You can’t hesitate; that’s what gets me. Any hesitation and your perfect, little pancake might tear in half!

Is there anything you still struggle with in the kitchen? Let’s commiserate and then become awesome at it. 🙂

Blueberry Peach Corn Flour Pancakes Cornmeal

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Blueberry Peach Corn Flour Pancakes Cornmeal

Blueberry Peach Corn Flour Pancakes

Serves 4
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Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups whole spelt flour (can sub all-purpose)
2/3 cup cornmeal or corn flour
3 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup canola oil
½ tsp. vanilla extract
Blueberries
Peach, skinned and sliced into thin wedges
Earth Balance or vegan margarine to grease skillet

Method:

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat.
2. Wash the blueberries and peel and cut the peach.
3. In a large bowl, combine spelt flour, corn flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, mixing briefly to distribute everything evenly.
4. In a second smaller bowl, whisk eggs, almond milk, oil, and vanilla together.
5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until no large lumps of flour remain. If batter is too runny, add more corn flour.
6. Use a large spoon or small ladle to pour pancakes onto lightly-greased skillet. Immediately drop blueberries and peach slices onto the pancakes on the skillet. Cook until bubbles start to appear, then flip and cook a minute or two on the other side.

Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins + EXCITING NEWS

THESE MUFFINS ARE DELICIOUS AND I REALLY WANT TO TELL YOU ABOUT THEM BUT I HAVE SPECIAL NEWS FOR YOU AND IT JUST CAN’T WAIT.

Okay, I’ll try to keep the caps lock to a minimum, but I’m telling you it’s gonna be hard.

Because.

I’m going to Italy. ITALY! (I’m sorry. I just couldn’t stand to see Italy not in caps.)

Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins | memo2munch

Yes, this summer I will be going to Florence–and spending what I’m sure will be two of the most memorable weeks of my life—to study the Mediterranean diet and gluten intolerance. In Italy. At the University of Florence. I am just at a total loss for words, so I’ll copy and paste the description of the program from the website.

Join University faculty and registered dietitians in Italy for a two-week immersion into the Mediterranean diet — the food and lifestyle. Learn about the ongoing research at the University of Florence on old wheat varieties and grains to address gluten intolerance and sensitivity.

As if by this point I wasn’t already drooling enough, the website goes on to add:

Visit local food markets and producers of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, wine, cheese and pasta to explore and experience the production, marketing and consumption of regional foods. Prepare foods of the Mediterranean diet and participate in discussions with researchers and practitioners engaged in studying ways to alleviate intolerance and sensitivity to gluten.

You guys. YOU GUYS. Not only will I be in Italy, but I’ll get to EAT EVERYTHING IN ITALY. You think I’m kidding. I’m so not.

Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins | memo2munch

Honestly, this opportunity is a dream come true. I’ve had this obsession with Italy for a while now—the culture, the language, the art, the architecture, the history, and obviously the food. Obviously.

I took French during high school, but I decided to start taking Italian in college. It has been one of the greatest decisions I’ve made, and a large thanks has to go to my aunt, who majored in Italian, for inspiring me to actually start learning the language. (Shout out: Hi, Tanta Karen (and the whole fam)! Love and miss you!)

You want to talk about a beautiful language? I could sit and listen to someone talk in Italian for HOURS. About literally anything. There’s just such a beautiful, natural lilt to it. It reminds me of iambic pentameter, and I don’t care if that makes me sound weird. Italian is like the Shakespeare of language. That’s a thing.

Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins | memo2munch

This trip will be my first time out of the country, and I’m a little nervous. I don’t even have a passport. I think this happens for a lot of people, but when I get nervous, crazy scenarios start running through my head. There are the bad ones like, “What if I’m ogling Italian bread or something, and the group leaves me behind, and then I can’t find them, and I have no sense of direction to get back to the hotel, and I have to sleep in the corner of a bakery for shelter overnight?” I mean, I guess that wouldn’t be too bad. But then there are scenarios that are definitely good. Like…

“What if I meet a nice Italian boy man who can cook?!” I can imagine the conversation now:

Him: Salve! Come state? (Hello! How are you?)
Me: Sto bene! Voi siete perfetto. Mi date il cibo. (I’m good! You are perfect. Give me food.)

Anyway, I’ll be sure to spam memo2munch with pictures and stories when I get back! Let’s talk about these muffins now.

Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins | memo2munch

Since part of the reason I’ll be going to Italy is to study gluten intolerance, and I have friends who can’t have gluten, I figured I should give a gluten free recipe a go.

And man, are these good.

They’re made with one hundred percent corn meal. While it’s not the healthiest of whole grains, corn IS a whole grain. It sure beats white flour, friends. These muffins are more of a scone consistency because cornmeal is a heavier base than flour. They’re also studded with fresh blueberries (the grocery store was having a sale!), so you’re getting a pretty substantial meal/snack out of these!

Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins | memo2munch

I made these vegan by using a mashed ripe banana and blueberry soy yogurt instead of eggs. You can easily use eggs, but I find the vegan substitutes really fun to play around with! Did you know that when you mix 1 tablespoon flax meal with 2-3 tablespoons of water, it has the same binding properties as an egg?

Sometimes I feel like a mad scientist when I bake, and it’s awesome.

Okay, this post has gone on long enough. Make these muffins! I’ll be looking at google images of Florence. *sigh*

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Gluten Free Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins
Makes: 12 muffins

Ingredients

2 cups corn meal
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 ripe banana, mashed*
½ c. Blueberry (or plain) soy yogurt*
½ c. almond milk
3 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 tbsp. vegetable oil
1-1.5 c. fresh or frozen blueberries, not thawed

*Note: you can substitute 4 eggs for these ingredients if you wish. They will no longer be vegan.

Method

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line muffin tin with paper. (Alternately, you can just grease the muffin tin and not use paper liners.)
2. Combine corn meal, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
3. Whisk together remaining ingredients—except blueberries—in a separate bowl.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix. Fold in the blueberries. Distribute mixture evenly into muffin tins.
5. Bake for 5 minutes at 400 degrees, and then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for another 10-12 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. (The initial 5 minutes at the higher temperature helps the muffins lift and achieve a domed top.)

Blueberry Peach Streusel Bars

Consider these blueberry peach streusel bars.

I don’t exactly know what that means, but an old menu on display in the Art Institute of Chicago suggested people “consider the oyster,” and I figured I’d give it a go. More on that later. Let’s talk about freezers.

Freezers are so handy! (I’m going somewhere with this I promise.) This time of year, we even have an additional, complementary freezer right outside. Thanks, December! That reminds me, I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday, full of family, friends, and good food.

Back to freezers.

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If you can feel an ice cream craving in the future and want to be prepared for it, and/or if you want things in the winter that you can only get locally in the summer: freezers have got ya covered.

You know what that means…

BERRIES AND STONE FRUIT IN THE WINTER YAAAAAY!

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Of course, fruit encased in ice will never rival the real deal, sun-ripened and fresh-picked, but hey, baked into streusel bars who’s going to be able to tell? You also have recipes like blueberry sweet rolls that actually require frozen blueberries, so that works out quite well.

If you’re still not big on using yeast—although if I can make the sweet rolls, so can you!—then these bars are the perfect alternative.

Deliciously sweet with just the right amount of crisp crust and streusel to balance out the juicy, fruity, filling. And blueberries and peaches are truly THE combination for fruit fillings. Seriously, if I’m combining fruits with something other than chocolate, blueberries and peaches would be right at the top of the list.

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PLUS these even have the family stamp of approval (which is suuuuuper!). I made them the day before we left for my grandparent’s house, and we had them as dessert after dinner. On Christmas, actually. I know what you’re thinking. Why did we not have Chinese food?!? We Jews like to switch things up occasionally. Instead we had a delicious meal prepared by my grandparents, and let me tell you, that beats Chinese any day. (We did have Chinese yesterday for dinner… We just couldn’t stay away!)

It is while I sit here writing this post, though, that we encounter a slight problem. See, I could tell you a thousand times that these bars are delicious. I could reinforce that my family thought these were delicious, and I could describe the flavors over and over again. But if the pictures aren’t exciting, then when you “consider these blueberry peach streusel bars,” you just won’t be convinced to make them. That’s the way it works with food—I know!

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Luckily I have apprehended some useful tips on this matter! We spent the day yesterday in Chicago and visited the “Art and Appetite” exhibit at the Art Institute. Oh, man, don’t go in there hungry. It doesn’t work like the wall in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Really, it was a great exhibit, and I encourage everyone to go!

Nothing like a bajillion rooms adorned with paintings of food to inspire a curious cook pretending she knows how to use a camera.

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If I had it to do over again, I might have added several spoons to the photos to emphasize that these bars are a treat to share with many.

I probably should have stationed the bars in close proximity to some dining room furniture with game caught from a hunt carved into the drawer handles, you know, just to casually symbolize man’s “mastery” over nature.

It undoubtedly would have been a good idea to include a glass of wine right splat in the center of the picture to show temperance, and some blueberries artfully tumbling out of the freezer bag would have been a nice touch.

While it’s too late to incorporate these new tips into this post’s photos, at least I have them for next time. And for the record, I will NOT be attempting to paint anything!

If you enjoyed this post, please “consider” clicking the gray follow button on the left side of the screen, or at the bottom of the page, to receive email updates about new posts. Thanks for reading!

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Blueberry Peach Streusel Bars
(Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Ingredients
Filling
3 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen (not thawed)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
4 teaspoons cornstarch
1 cup thinly sliced peach, peeled, fresh or frozen

Crust + Topping
1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole rolled oats (or quick oats)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
10 Tablespoons margarine, melted

Instructions
1. Make the filling first by combining the blueberries, sugar, and orange juice into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 1 minute, then whisk for 1 minute. Mix the cornstarch with 3-4 teaspoons of warm water, until it resembles milk (if you don’t mix with water, you will have white chunks in the filling). Add the watered down cornstarch to the blueberry mixture. Simmer on low heat for 3-4 minutes until the mixture has thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool. I poured mine into a bowl and refrigerated it until I was ready to use it.
2. Make the crust: Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Line 8×8 or 9×9 square baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Set aside. Combine the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Toss with a large spoon. Add the melted margarine and mix until the mixture is crumbly. Press 2/3 of the mixture into the prepared baking pan. Press so that the crust is tight and even. Place in the oven for 10 minutes, which will allow it to set.
3. Remove crust from the oven after 10 minutes and spread the blueberry filling on top. Top with the peeled and sliced peach, as shown in the photo above. Top with the remaining oat crumble.
4. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the topping it lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes on a wire rack. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 3 hours before cutting into squares. The bars will not cut if you do not chill them for 3+ hours.

Blueberry Sweet Rolls

Today marks the end of so called “dead week” here at school. On Monday we start the treacherous journey through finals week to get to WINTER BREAAAAAAK!

I have multiple explanations as to why this week was called dead week. They are as follows. Ahem.

  1. Class basically consists of review and squished-in exams and essays, thus all excitement about going to class is “dead.”
  2. It’s the week before finals, so everyone is super stressed out and feels like he or she is going to, well, kick the bucket. Or kick someone else’s bucket.
  3. We’ve all been turned into zombies. Just for this week.
  4. The letter ‘r’ was accidentally left out of the word dread.

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My personal view is that all of the sleep deprivation has finally caught up with us, so yeah, we basically are zombies. Except your brains are safe from me. I want to eat warm, gooey, melt-in-your-mouth, blueberry sweet rolls. That only have to rise once. Ohhhh, yeah.

Don’t look too closely at the swirls or you’ll be hypnotized. Really, though.

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These rolls are comfort foods TO THE MAX, my friends. You take one bite of these babies and all stress and thoughts about zombies just fade away.

One thing stood in the way of me making sweet rolls, just as five finals stand between me and winter break. And that would be a slight fear of using yeast.

“WHY do they have to be so picky about EVERYTHING?” I thought to myself. “If things aren’t perfect they just die on the spot. So dramatic.”

However, the more I researched using yeast, and the more I thought about the first bite of fluffy roll surrounding juicy blueberries and dripping with vanilla glaze, I realized I was going to learn to use yeast.

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The first step in successfully using yeast is to be confident. Yeast can sense fear, and it will just die because that’s what it does. I’m totally kidding. Well, about the sensing fear part.

It’s important to note that there are two types of yeast you can buy. One is active dry yeast, and the other is instant yeast. They are NOT directly interchangeable. This recipe uses active dry yeast.

Active dry yeast must be proofed, or activated, before being used in a recipe. This means pouring the yeast into lukewarm liquid and letting it sit for about 10 minutes. At that point in time, the liquid should look
bubbly on top; this is how you know the yeast is alive. In this recipe, our liquid is a mixture of almond milk, water, and melted margarine.

Instant yeast requires no proofing and can be tossed right in with the flour. It is harder to find and more expensive, so I stick it out with the active dry yeast.

Yeast is finicky about the temperature of the water it is proofed in. If the water is too hot, guess what it does? Yeah, just dies. (Maybe that’s why this week is called dead week…)

The temperature should be between 104 and 110 degrees F, a general guide is to aim for the temperature of bath water. If you like really hot baths, this tip is not for you. Think of the temperature water you would use for a baby’s bath and do that. You want to be able to keep your finger comfortably in the water.

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Another thing that usually frightens people about yeast recipes is kneading. Kneading develops the gluten in dough, which gives it that nice, chewy, texture. It’s very important, and not as hard as you think!

You want the dough to be a little sticky when you start, so don’t add too much flour or the rolls will be tough. Flour a surface and place the ball of dough down, flipping it so the outside is coated in flour. Hold the bottom edge of the dough in place with your left hand. Grab the front of the dough in your right hand and use the heal of your right hand to gently stretch the dough away from you, then fold it back on top of itself. Turn the whole dough ball a quarter to the right. Repeat this process for 5-6 minutes, and THAT’S IT! Pull, fold, turn. It’s actually pretty relaxing.

Keep the surface coated in flour, adding more as needed. When the dough is smooth and not sticky, you’re DONE! YAY!

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Next comes the rising. Yeast needs a suitably warm environment in order to rise (but are we surprised?). Our house is cold, so what we do is preheat the oven to 200 degrees and then TURN IT OFF when the rolls are ready to start rising. Cover the rolls loosely in aluminum foil and allow to rise in the oven for 1 hour. Works like a charm!

Finally, remember that using yeast comes with a learning curve. When I made this recipe the first time, I didn’t know how to knead, and the pan I used wasn’t big enough, yadda yadda. This is what happened.

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Not pretty, but they tasted fine!

So don’t be hard on yourself! You’ll master the yeast with time, I promise.

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Blueberry Sweet Rolls
(Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)

Ingredients:

Rolls

  • 2 and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 package active dry yeast (1 packet = 2 and 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (cow’s milk is fine)
  • 2 and 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted margarine (unsalted butter is fine)
  • 1 large egg 

Filling

  • 1 and 1/3 cup frozen blueberries, not thawed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

Vanilla Glaze  

  • 1 cup powdered sugar (or more)
  • 1-2 Tablespoons almond milk
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Make the filling first: Combine the frozen blueberries, sugar, and cornstarch in a bowl. Gently toss around and let sit while you prepare the dough.
  2. Make the dough: Heat the water, almond milk, and margarine together in the microwave until the margarine is melted. When mixture is bathwater temperature, sprinkle yeast on top and let proof for 10 minutes.
  3.  Set aside 1/2 cup of flour. In a large bowl, toss the remaining flour, sugar, and salt together until evenly dispersed. Stir the margarine mixture into the flour mixture. Add the egg and only enough of the reserved flour to make a soft dough. Dough will be ready when it gently pulls away from the side of the bowl and has an elastic consistency.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for about 5-6 minutes. Place in a lightly greased bowl (I used vegetable oil) and let rest for about 10 minutes.
  5. Fill the rolls: After 10 minutes, roll the dough out in a 14×8 inch rectangle. Pour the sugared blueberries on top and gently spread them to cover the dough surface. Roll up the dough tightly. Cut into 11 even pieces and place in a lightly greased 9-inch round pan or square pan.  Loosely cover the rolls with aluminum foil and allow to rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour. Here is what I do: heat the oven to 200F degrees. Turn oven off. Place rolls inside oven and allow to rise. Do not refrigerate the rolls at any point during or after rising.
  6. After the rolls have doubled in size, preheat the oven to 375F. Bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly browned. I covered the rolls with aluminum foil after 15 minutes      to avoid heavy browning.
  7. Make the glaze: Right before serving, top your blueberry rolls with glaze. Mix all of the glaze ingredients together. If you prefer a thicker glaze, add more      powdered sugar. If you’d like it thinner, add more milk. Pour over sweet rolls.