Saturday Night Sweets~ Blackberry Pie Bars (Regular AND Gluten Free versions)

Saturday nights are my husband’s night with his buddies.  Usually it consists of me BBQing and them playing D&D, which means I have a total dork fest happening in my dining room, and I mean that with much love.  Since my husband is preoccupied until the wee hours of the night, I am left to my own devices to do whatever I please, which usually ends up with me surfing the net or pinterest for new food ideas.

But now I have the blog!!  Which means Saturday Night Sweets, a post each week of something sweet, yummy, and oh so good!!

In honor of my first Saturday Night Sweets, I will share one of my most requested desserts…. Blackberry Pie Bars!!  My mother and sister are absolutely in LOVE with these, and are always begging me to make them, or at very least, give them the recipe.  I swear they would do anything to get their hands on them, and since I am such the wonderful person I am, I’m giving it to them for free.  No blackmail, no bribing me (although if they wish to shower me in gifts they are more than welcome to *wink wink*), and no giving up their first born to obtain it!  What can I say… I’m just cool like that 😉

Now be prepared to gain 20lbs…

.Blackberry Pie Bar

Blackberry Pie Bars 
Regular and Gluten Free

Ingredients:

Crust & Topping:

3 cups all purpose flour (to make gluten free substitute with 1c white rice flour, 1c sorghum flour, 1c tapioca flour, 2T xanthan gum)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups chilled unsalted butter

Fruit Filling:

4 large eggs

2 cups sugar

1 cup sour cream

3/4 cup all purpose flour  (to make gluten free substitute with 1/4c white rice flour, 1/4c sorghum flour, 1/4c tapioca flour, 1t xanthan gum)

Pinch of salt

6 cups fresh blackberries

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a very large bowl. Cut butter into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter. Continue until the butter is evenly distributed, but the mixture is still crumbly (as you would a pie crust).  Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the crumb mixture for the topping. Press the remaining crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake the crust for 12-15 minutes (this actually took me close to 20 minutes; just continue checking it after 15 minutes), or until it is golden brown. Cool for at least 10 minutes.

To make the filling:

Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl, then add the sour cream, flour and salt. Gently fold in the blackberries. Spoon the mixture evenly over the crust. Sprinkle the reserved crumbs evenly over the top. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the crust is lightly browned. Cool for at least 1 hour before cutting.Straight out of the oven

This recipe makes about 12 bars depending on how big you cut them.  Personally I cut them rather big, because the family says I have to share even though I want to eat the entire pan myself.  Meanies. Blackberry Pie Bar

Try topping them with vanilla ice cream while they are still warm.  Talk about heaven….

Heaven in food form

So what are you still doing here?!  Go make this!!  Now!!  And don’t forget to bring me a piece!!

Yours Truly,

Ms. Me

What is a CSA?

 

When I tell people I am taking part in a CSA this year, I usually end up getting a look like this O.o or just awkward silence. I think maybe people think it is some kind of government program, or something they would rather just not know about. But simply put, a CSA is Community Supported Agriculture.

So what exactly is a CSA? Basically a CSA is two groups. A group of local farmers and a group of people who wish to purchase their goods. Think of it as Groupon for farmers. The group of consumers (like you and me) get together and purchase “shares” of the farmers goods. The total amount is divided amongst the farmers, and each week you get fresh local produce from their farms. And that is basically it! Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Here where I live, I participate in the Grow Youngstown program. This is my first year participating, and to say I was excited was an understatement. I pay a little over $300 for a family share that lasts 18 weeks. The good thing about Grow Youngstown though is, for families that are under the “poverty line” they offer what is called a subsidized share. For a subsidized share, you fill out a small questionnaire about your family. If you are approved, you pay $36 for the first and last weeks shares, and then each week when you go to pick up your produce you pay $18 for the next weeks share. Grow Youngstown also offers a single share, but only a family share is offered in subsidized form.

This past Tuesday was my first pick up for my share. For my $18 worth of produce, I was given a large bag of red leaf lettuce, a large thing (for lack of a better word) of bok choy, a bunch of swiss chard, two large kohlrabi, a bag of sugar snap peas, two good sized zucchini, two softball sized (FRESH…yum!) tomatoes, and one large white crisp onion. It may not seem like much, but have I mentioned it is all ORGANIC!!csawk01

That is the beauty of a CSA. You know where your food is coming from because it is all local farmers. You know it is fresh because it is locally grown and doesn’t have to travel. In fact, most of our local CSA’s produce is picked that day! AND more often than you would think, if they are participating in the CSA program, they are worried about the environment, and like our local CSA provide ORGANIC produce at a price that can’t be beat!

So now that you know what a CSA is, how a CSA works, and how it saves you money you can participate in one near you!

For those in NE Ohio, Grow Youngstown sent me an email this morning to let me know they are opening up 20 more shares for pickup beginning the 23rd of July. For more information on Grow Youngstown’s Farm to You program you can go to http://www.growyoungstown.org or email them at csa@growyoungstown.org They have a ton of information on their website including what payment types they accept, how to reach them, and the numerous pickup locations, as well as info on their other shares available for meat, cheese, eggs, honey, and more!

So for the blog, look forward to CSA Tuesdays when I share what I get in my CSA box, and what recipes I plan to make with it!!

Yours Truly,
Ms. Me

Zuppa Toscana

Zuppa Toscana

One of our favorite restaurants to visit on date night is the Olive Garden. After my Celiac diagnosis, I was pretty upset at the thought of never being able to eat there again. After picking apart much of the menu, I stumbled across this little gem and gave it a try. It quickly became one of my favorite soups, but was sadly off limits to me at the restaurant. (Who knew chicken broth had wheat in it?!?!) After searching intently for the exact recipe, and failing many times, I finally think I have it down pat.

Now mind you, this is one of my most requested dinners and recipes, so be prepared to praised when you make it.

Zuppa Toscana

1 pound mild italian sausage (ground)
1/4 tsp cayanne pepper (or more depending on your taste)
4 slices of bacon cut into pieces
1 onion diced
1T (or 3-4 cloves) minced garlic
64 ounces chicken broth
8 potatoes peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup heavy cream
1/4-1/2 bunch Kale stems removed and chopped into small pieces

1. First cook italian sausage in large stock pot. While sausage is cooking sprinkle on the cayanne pepper. Drain and set aside.

2. Place bacon, onion, and garlic into stock pot and cook until it starts to brown. Add chicken broth, potatoes, and kale. Bring to a boil and cook til potatoes are tender.

3. Reduce heat and add cream and sausage. Heat through.

Thats about it. It seems like it takes forever but its fairly simple and quick. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!!

Yours truly,
Ms. Me

Side note: If you are preparing this for someone who is gluten free, please make sure the chicken broth you use is gluten free. Some are not, but those that are will say gluten free on the container.