Sour Cream Raspberry Pie

Sour Cream Raspberry Pie

Do you have a pie-maker in your family? You know, that person you count on to bring the showstopper pie to each and every holiday meal, picnic and potluck? In my family, we have five. Yes, I said five. My mom is the go-to for currant cream, apple and pumpkin. My sister-in-law, Trudy, is the queen of meringue and needs little advance notice to whip up a chocolate, lemon or coconut delicacy. My sister-in-law, Deb, loves to experiment with twists on the traditional, like a chocolate/bourbon/pecan. My fellow math geek niece, Anjouli, once made a bacon-topped, macaroni and cheese version for Pi(e) Day … just because! And I think you all know by now that I have a border-line unhealthy crush on pie (making and eating).

Perfectly Baked Sour Cream Raspberry Pie

This may sound like bragging but it’s really not. It’s to your benefit to know this because it means I have a plethora of recipes to share with you and the experts to help make sure you get all the tips and tricks too.

Today I want to introduce you to a cream pie recipe that is slightly unusual but amazingly delicious. Given that I called it “unusual”, you may have guessed it was introduced to us by my sister-in-law, Deb. The first time she said she made a sour cream raspberry pie, I was pretty upset that she had wasted some of the precious raspberries from the family farm (a.k.a. her garden) on a long-shot recipe. One look at it and I was eating my words … and her pie!

The balance of this recipe comes from the tanginess of the sour cream. There is enough sugar in the recipe to ensure the sweetness needed for dessert but the raspberries maintain the tartness they sometimes lose when paired with traditional cream ingredients. I added the small amounts of almond extract and cardamom to the recipe because I like a hint of warmth and nuttiness with fruit.

You don’t have to use a homemade crust but if you want to, this recipe is worth the effort.

Sour Cream Raspberry Pie

Serving this pie is always fun because it is impressive. The berries distribute through the cream and  the filling sets up beautifully.

Earlier this spring, I made this recipe using a combination of blueberries and rhubarb. Successful experiment!Sour Cream Blueberry Rhubarb Pie

I’m thinking this fall may be a good time to try a peach-blackberry version. Cranberries for Thanksgiving anyone?

Speaking of Thanksgiving … I think our family might have to start a new dinner tradition: pie buffet!


Print Recipe
Sour Cream Raspberry Pie
This pie has the perfect balance of tart and sweet! Sour cream adds a tanginess that keeps the berries from becoming overly sweet. A hint of cardamom adds warmth and depth. Do not worry ... this pie will still satisfy your dessert cravings!
Sour Cream Raspberry Pie
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 60 minutes
Servings
8 people
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom optional
  • 4 cups fresh raspberries
  • 1 9-inch pie crust unbaked
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 60 minutes
Servings
8 people
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom optional
  • 4 cups fresh raspberries
  • 1 9-inch pie crust unbaked
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
Sour Cream Raspberry Pie
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Mix sugar, flour and salt together until no lumps remain.
  3. Add sour cream, almond extract and cardamom and mix until well incorporated.
  4. Pour 1/3 of cream mixture into bottom of pie crust. Add half of the raspberries. Repeat layers ending with cream mixture.
  5. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of sugar over the top of the filling.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes at 400°.
  7. Reduce oven temperature to 325° and continue baking for 50-60 minutes. Top of pie should be lightly browned and the center should be set.
    Perfectly Baked Sour Cream Raspberry Pie
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving.

Sour Cream Raspberry Pie Pin

Lemon-Yogurt Salmon with Vegetable Couscous

Lemon-Yogurt Salmon with Veggie Couscous

Is salmon one of those dishes that you love to order in a restaurant but refuse to make at home because: “It is expensive and I don’t want to risk ruining it by over- or under-cooking it.”? I get it. And I’ve gotten over it. You can too. You just need a really reliable, flavorful recipe … or two!

Lemon-Yogurt Salmon with Veggie Couscous

What I love about this recipe is the use of greek yogurt to add flavor to, and preserve the moisture of, the salmon. It is spread on the outside of the fillet which helps to protect it from drying out while cooking. Add some lemon juice, fresh herbs and garlic to the yogurt and you have all that is needed for a successful dish.

If you’ve never tried couscous, it is time. There are different types of couscous with very different cooking methods, tastes and textures. This recipe is using an Israeli, or Pearl, couscous. It cooks quickly and is not as temperamental as rice. After you have made it once, you will quickly see how versatile it is and find ways to adjust the recipe for any season or any ingredients you have on hand.

As you can see, this fillet was cooked on a grill. It is a little tricky to grill skinless salmon for fear of it falling apart. If you are concerned about it, lay a piece of aluminum foil on the grill and drizzle a little olive oil on the foil before placing the fillet on top. The pretty grill marks will be lost but the salmon won’t fall apart and through the grate … which is worth the sacrifice!

Not grilling season? It will turn out just as good if made with the oven method.

Be brave … for the price that you would pay for a good salmon dinner, you can have an entire fillet for your family and maybe, just maybe, some leftovers for a salad/sandwich!


Print Recipe
Lemon-Yogurt Salmon with Veggie Couscous
Prevent overcooking salmon with a thin layer of this recipe's greek yogurt and lemon sauce. Couscous with white wine and vegetables provide the perfect (and pretty) pairing.
Lemon-Yogurt Salmon with Vegetable Couscous
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
4 people
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons greek yogurt
  • 4 tablespoons fresh chopped herbs divided (chives, parsley, tarragon, rosemary)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice divided
  • 24 ounces salmon fillet see note below
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt divided
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper divided
  • 2 cups fresh vegetables (peas, carrots (fine dice), corn, zucchini (fine dice), etc.)
  • 1/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups hot, cooked pearl couscous
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Servings
4 people
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons greek yogurt
  • 4 tablespoons fresh chopped herbs divided (chives, parsley, tarragon, rosemary)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice divided
  • 24 ounces salmon fillet see note below
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt divided
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper divided
  • 2 cups fresh vegetables (peas, carrots (fine dice), corn, zucchini (fine dice), etc.)
  • 1/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups hot, cooked pearl couscous
Lemon-Yogurt Salmon with Vegetable Couscous
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven or grill to 400°.
  2. Combine greek yogurt, 2 tablespoons of the fresh herbs, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a small bowl.
  3. Sprinkle salmon with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and spread a light layer of the yogurt sauce on both sides of the salmon.
COUSCOUS
  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add vegetables, onion and garlic to skillet. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until vegetables are tender. If using peas, they can be added half-way through the cooking time to avoid overcooking.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and wine to pan. Stir and cook for one minute. Add cooked couscous to vegetables and toss to combine. Remove from heat and partially cover to keep warm until the salmon is cooked.
STOVE TOP/OVEN METHOD:
  1. Heat an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan. Place salmon in skillet and cook for 2 minutes. Flip salmon over and transfer skillet to oven. Cook for 5 minutes or until salmon flakes easily when pierced with a fork.
GRILLING METHOD:
  1. Rub grill grates with olive oil and place salmon on grill. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes. Flip salmon over with a large spatula and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes, or until salmon flakes easily when pierced with a fork.
Recipe Notes

Serve salmon on the couscous, sprinkled with remaining fresh herbs and slices of fresh lemon.

SALMON TIPS: You can buy 4 6-oz salmon fillets or one big fillet for this recipe. Fillets with or without skin can be used. If you choose fillets with the skin, spread the yogurt sauce only on the skinless side of the fillet. Refer to the tips in text above about using skinless.


Want another reliable recipe but with a smoky-sweet flavor profile? Try this Smoky Maple Salmon … a wonderful mix of slightly spicy and smoky-sweet. Add some zucchini, corn and red pepper to the couscous and dinner is ready!


Lemon-Yogurt Salmon with Vegetable Couscous

Sweet corn, bacon, tomato and basil Pizza

Iowa Summer on a Pizza

Does the thought of that first, fresh-from-the-garden tomato make your mouth water? Will the sight of the first sweet corn truck along the road trigger your foot to move from the accelerator to the brake? Can crispy bacon, slices of that juicy tomato, some mayonnaise, cool lettuce and a couple pieces of toast satisfy you more than any four-course meal?

Anticipation. 

Here in the midwest, July arrives and so do the hopes that these oh-so-simple food cravings will soon be met, and met in excess! Please don’t tell me I can only have two slices of bacon on my BLT. Please allow me to slice my tomato as thin or as thick as I choose. Please look politely away as the butter drips from my corn and onto my plate (or my shirt). The anticipation is over … it’s officially summer in Iowa!

expedition farm country

Stone Wall Pizza

Last summer, I had the great privilege of traveling with the Iowa Food and Family Project on Expedition Farm Country. We toured several farms in southeast Iowa, learning from wonderful families about their farms and their commitments to land and animals. At each and every place, we were encouraged to ask any questions we wanted. They honestly discussed hot topics and current political concerns as easily as they answered questions about raising families in rural Iowa. 

Stone Wall Pizza Iowa

What does this have to do with tomatoes, sweet corn and bacon? They fed us really well! All our meals were delicious but one stop registered particularly high on my food-blogger radar. Instead of driving into a nearby town or city for dinner, our tour bus left the highway and travelled a few miles on gravel roads and pulled onto a pretty little farm outside Wellman, Iowa. On Friday nights, this farm turns into an outdoor restaurant, Stonewall Pizza, with live music, yard games, local wine and a buffet of homemade brick-oven pizza.

curious pizza combinations

Stone Wall Pizza Iowa

One pizza, in particular, piqued my curiosity: Sweet Summer. Fresh tomatoes, crispy bacon, and tender sweet corn on a wood-fired crust. Simply amazing.

I have yet to convince my husband that we need a brick pizza oven in our backyard, so I turned to my summer cooking partner, the grill, and started creating my version of that brilliant combination. 

two-ingredient crust

There are all kinds of options when it comes to pizza crust. The convenience of buying pizza dough at the grocery store cannot be beat for quick meals but I had been curious to try a homemade, two-ingredient crust recipe. It called only for self-rising flour and sour cream. Given that I have been a long-time fan of AE Dairy Sour Cream and that AE Dairy is a long-time (almost 90 years) Iowa based company using milk produced in Iowa by Iowa cows, well … you can see where this is going … ON the pizza. More specifically, it went IN the crust. Using only those two ingredients, the dough seemed too dense for pizza crust so I “thinned” it out with a little water and then, for flavor and maybe a little luck, added a pinch of salt. That was all it took to get the dough to a workable consistency.

To bacon? or not to bacon?

Bacon is a widely loved pork delicacy. If, by some rare chance, you do not share that love, or if you are lucky enough to have some leftover ham or bratwurst in your refrigerator, either would make a wonderful substitution. Maybe you just want to go all Iowa-hog-wild and put all three on your pizza … your Iowa pork producers will thank you for it!

No matter how you cut it, this pizza is a satisfying slice of summer!


Print Recipe
Iowa Summer Pizza
Fire up the grill and put summer on a pizza! Sweet corn, bacon, tomato and basil are the perfect combination for a fun and easy summer dinner.
Sweet corn, bacon, tomato and basil Pizza
Servings
6 people
Ingredients
BBQ-Basil White Sauce
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise/salad dressing
  • 2 tablespoons AE Dairy sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon BBQ seasoning or chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
Toppings
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • olive or avocado oil
  • 6-8 slices peppered bacon cooked and crumbled
  • thinly sliced fresh tomatoes
  • fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2-1 cup fresh sweet corn kernels
  • 1/2 teaspoon BBQ seasoning or chili powder
  • shredded Parmesan cheese
  • fresh basil
Crust
  • 1 1/2 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup AE Dairy sour cream
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water
  • pinch of salt
Servings
6 people
Ingredients
BBQ-Basil White Sauce
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise/salad dressing
  • 2 tablespoons AE Dairy sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon BBQ seasoning or chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
Toppings
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • olive or avocado oil
  • 6-8 slices peppered bacon cooked and crumbled
  • thinly sliced fresh tomatoes
  • fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2-1 cup fresh sweet corn kernels
  • 1/2 teaspoon BBQ seasoning or chili powder
  • shredded Parmesan cheese
  • fresh basil
Crust
  • 1 1/2 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup AE Dairy sour cream
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water
  • pinch of salt
Sweet corn, bacon, tomato and basil Pizza
Instructions
Sauce
  1. Combine all ingredients and refrigerate until pizza is ready to serve.
Preparing Corn
  1. Cut the kernels off of one ear of fresh sweet corn. Heat one tablespoon olive/avocado oil or bacon drippings in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add corn kernels and BBQ seasoning (or chili powder) to pan and sauté corn for two minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
    Grilled Summer Pizza Toppings
Crust
  1. Crust: Combine self-rising flour, sour cream, 1/4 cup of water and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Mix ingredients together gently by hand. Add more water if necessary for the ingredients to come together and form a slightly sticky ball. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and kneed, folding the dough over onto itself until smooth, 2-3 minutes. Divide dough into two pieces and form each into a 12” circle. Transfer crusts to a large cutting board or cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper (one sheet for each crust) and sprinkled with flour.
Assembly and Grilling
  1. Preheat grill to 450 degrees. Have all topping ingredients together and near the grill when ready to start cooking the pizza.
  2. Brush the grill grate with olive oil to keep the dough from sticking. Take each crust (with the parchment under it) and quickly invert the crust onto the grill, removing and discarding parchment paper.
  3. Drizzle the top of each crust with olive/avocado oil and sprinkle with minced garlic. Place sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella on top. Sprinkle bacon, corn, and Parmesan cheese over the tomatoes and mozzarella. Drizzle a little more olive/avocado oil on the outer edge of the crust.
    Pizza with Sweet Corn, Bacon, Tomatoes and Basil
  4. Close the lid and allow pizza to cook for 4-5 minutes. Rotate the pizzas to prevent burning and to cook evenly. Close lid again and continue to monitor and rotate for 8-10 more minutes, or until the crust is “blistered” and the cheeses are melted. Remove the pizzas from the grill onto a cutting board. Drizzle each pizza with white sauce and sprinkle with more fresh basil.

Iowa Summer Pizza Pin

Verde Goddess Dip with Sweet Potato Chips

Mexican Green Goddess Dressing

How do you like your avocado?

Guacamole? In a salad? On a sandwich? Breakfast toast?

Did you issue a huge sigh of relief when you first found out that avocados were actually good for you?

Does it hurt you physically to throw away an avocado because it ripened too fast or turned brown in the refrigerator after cutting it?

I’m with you, on all counts. This recipe will make you very happy!

Green Goddess Dressing with Avocado

healthier & greener

Ever heard of Green Goddess Dressing? It originated in California in the 1920’s by Chef Roemer at The Palace Hotel in San Fransisco to honor an actor named George Arliss, the star of the play The Green Goddess (American Food Roots). The original recipe used fresh herbs like parsley and chives to flavor and, give color to, the dressing and included anchovies for the salty/briney component. The hotel’s recipe was later modified to include more green herbs like tarragon and chervil, and fresh spinach.

If you search for a green goddess dressing recipe on Pinterest, you will find healthier adaptations have found their way into the mix … literally. Sodium, sugar and cholesterol free avocados, with their high levels of vitamin C, Omega-3’s, and fiber … and don’t forget their gorgeous green color … are a most welcome addition. The probiotic wonder food, greek yogurt, has replaced (or at least minimized) the less healthy mayonnaise and sour cream bases of the original versions. Anchovies still play a vital role in the dressing. Do not be afraid. Do not cringe. Do not pass GO without adding at least one. Please trust me on this.

Vegetable Salad with Green Goddess Dressing

I was first introduced to this dressing/dip when my husband and I attended a food and wine pairing dinner. The dressing was poured into the bottom of the bowl first. The beautiful, fresh vegetables were placed on top of it and a flax-seed crisp served as a “crouton”. Why hide such a beautiful dressing? It is a thick dressing and putting it on top of the vegetables not only hides their colors, but weighs them down. Serving it like this, your fork gathers the vegetables and, as it hits the bottom of the bowl, just enough of the dressing will coat the veggies. When that bite hits your tongue, the dressing is what you taste first! Brilliant.

avocado road trip

When I think of avocado, I think of guacamole. When I think of guacamole, I can’t seem to think about anything else. So when I decided to make this dressing for the first time, it quickly took a road trip from California to Mexico and jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice and garlic made it into the food processor. The result was awesome! (No applause necessary.)

If you need one more reason to try this recipe, here it is. Unlike guacamole or fresh-cut avocado, this dressing will not turn brown in the refrigerator for days. BONUS!

dressing/dip/spread

So what do you do with almost 2 cups of homemade dressing?

1) under a bed of Romaine, black beans, corn, onion, & grilled chicken = salad nirvana.

Salad with Verde Goddess Dressing

 

2) Spread it on your breakfast sandwich, lunch wrap or bagel.

 

3) Use it as a dip for vegetables (hello sweet potato fries) or chips.

Verde Goddess Dressing with Sweet Potatoes

 

4) Drizzle it on tacos.

Shrimp Tacos with Verde Goddess Dressing

 

5) Spread it on hot sweet corn on the cob?

Haven’t tried it … YET! If you beat me to it, let me know. I know you can’t stop thinking about it now.


Print Recipe
Verde Goddess Dressing
This simple, greek yogurt based recipe is a Mexican version of the traditional "green goddess dressing". Avocado is still front and center but cilantro and lime replace the traditional basil/tarragon profile and a small amount of jalapeño adds a little heat. Serve as a dressing on salads, a dip for vegetables/chips (sweet potato fries/chips as pictured), and/or a condiment for tacos!
Verde Goddess Dip with Sweet Potato Chips
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings
2 cups
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup salad dressing/mayonnaise
  • 6 ounces plain greek yogurt
  • 1 large Avocado
  • 1 fillet anchovy
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced jalapeno
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1-2 garlic clove(s)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon/lime juice
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings
2 cups
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup salad dressing/mayonnaise
  • 6 ounces plain greek yogurt
  • 1 large Avocado
  • 1 fillet anchovy
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced jalapeno
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1-2 garlic clove(s)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon/lime juice
Verde Goddess Dip with Sweet Potato Chips
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients and pulse/puree until smooth. Chill until ready to serve.

Mexican Green Goddess Dressing

Mediterranean Chicken on an Iowa Farm Table

Chicken served on an Iowa farm table is pretty common: fried, grilled, casserole, soup, salad, etc. Mediterranean? That doesn’t seem common at all. It isn’t. But I’ll return to that after a little background information.

Over the past few months, I have been helping my mom downsize her home. She has lived in that house for 25 years and had hosted family dinners, sleepovers for 9 grandchildren, visiting relatives from out-of-town, bridge clubs, a grandson’s entire baseball team in town for a tournament (two years in a row), countless Spite & Malice card games … you get the idea.

At the center of all this activity is the kitchen table. For most people a “kitchen table” is a small(er) table for everyday use and the “dining table” is the big table used primarily for gatherings of more than, say, 6 people. Not so for my mom, or most farm wives for that matter. Her kitchen table is as big as her dining table. It never has less than one extra leaf in it and, most often, two. The third leaf is readily available for last-minute expansion.

table service

This table serves. It serves 12 people as easily as it serves 2. It serves as her desk, sewing station, list-keeper, devotion venue, and quick-cup-of-coffee-for-a-visit spot. If I think about the number of dishes that were washed after being used on this table, my head spins. But then I think about the number of prayers that have been said around this table, and my mind finds peace.

When she decided to move into a smaller place, I knew right away she’d want to keep this table. I get that. I can honestly say I shed a few tears when I replaced my first table. It wasn’t fancy. It wasn’t expensive. It wasn’t the table per se. It was the memories that were built, the relationships formed and the time that was spent around that table.

table tribute

Before she moved, I thought we needed to pay tribute to that table in that house. My mom and I asked my sisters-in-law to come to dinner. The four of us have a shared life. We’ve been together for over 30 years and very seldom do the four of us take time to sit down together. So I set Mom’s table with her wedding china, Candlewick glasses, anniversary wine glasses, tablecloth and napkins and made a meal to honor the laughter, tears, prayers and stories we’ve shared.

Mediterranean Chicken with Asparagus

table time

For this meal, I wanted to make something out of the ordinary … something to show them, in my own way, how special they are to me. So what did I do? I used them as guinea pigs. I tried a new recipe.

Luckily, it worked out. Amazingly, it was fabulous!

This one-pan, stove-top chicken dish is too good not to share. Sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and capers provide the sweet and savory Mediterranean flavors in less than 30 minutes.


Print Recipe
One Pan Mediterranean Chicken
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15-20 minutes
Passive Time 20 minutes
Servings
4 people
Ingredients
  • 1.5 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast see notes below
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8-12 oz artichoke hearts see notes below
  • 6 oz sun-dried tomatoes drained, reserving the oil
  • 3 tablespoons capers drained
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • lemon zest
  • shredded Parmesan cheese
  • fresh basil
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15-20 minutes
Passive Time 20 minutes
Servings
4 people
Ingredients
  • 1.5 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast see notes below
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8-12 oz artichoke hearts see notes below
  • 6 oz sun-dried tomatoes drained, reserving the oil
  • 3 tablespoons capers drained
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • lemon zest
  • shredded Parmesan cheese
  • fresh basil
Instructions
  1. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Allow chicken to rest 20 minutes.
  2. Pour flour into a one-gallon resealable plastic bag. Add chicken pieces, seal and shake until chicken is coated in the flour.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add chicken (do not crowd the pan) and brown until golden brown (about 4 minutes). Reduce the heat to medium. Turn the chicken over and brown the other side (3-4 minutes).
  4. Remove the chicken to a plate.
  5. Add artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, lemon juice, garlic and crushed red pepper to the pan and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes, and stir in to combine.
  6. Push the vegetables to the sides of the skillet, and return the chicken to the pan. Cover the pan and cook the chicken and the vegetables on low-medium heat for about 5-10 more minutes, or until the chicken is completely cooked through and no longer pink in the center.
  7. Spoon the "sauce" from the skillet over the chicken.
  8. Sprinkle chicken and vegetables with fresh lemon zest, Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
Recipe Notes

Artichoke Tip: Frozen or jarred artichoke hearts can be used for this recipe. If using frozen, make sure to thaw completely. In either case, drain well before adding to the hot pan.

Chicken Tip: For best results, use chicken breasts that are about 1.5" thick. This can be achieved by pounding the chicken (placed between two pieces of plastic wrap) with a meat tenderizer or rolling pin to desired thickness. Extra thick breast pieces can be split in half lengthwise by running a sharp knife through the center, parallel to the cutting board.

Leftovers: If there are any leftovers, cube up the chicken and add it, the vegetable mixture, some chopped Kalamata olives and feta cheese to cooked pasta for a cold salad. This combination will also make a great Mediterranean pizza topping or panini-style sandwich!


For this special meal, I served the chicken with roasted asparagus, Onion Pie (you heard me), a fruit salad, and stuffed cucumber “cups”. For dessert, we had an  “Almond Joy” parfait, one of my mom’s favorite combinations.

Change is never easy. It is much easier, though, when you share it, and a good meal, with those you love most … around a table.


Mediterranean Chicken with Artichokes and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Bundt Coffee Cake

Grandma Opal’s Coffee Cake

If I close my eyes and try to remember my Grandma Opal, I picture a 4′ 10″, gentle, but yet strong lady with the most beautiful white-grey hair, kind eyes and an easy laugh. But if I want to remember our time together, all I have to do is make her signature coffee cake and the smell of cinnamon, pecans and sweet vanilla will bring her right back to me.

The dishes and tablecloth in this picture were passed on to me by my grandma.

I think the thing that is truly remarkable about my grandma was the courage that was required of her in the first 30 years of her life.  She and her brothers and sisters were orphaned when she was eight years old. In 1918, her father died of influenza and pneumonia. Less than two months later, her mother died from pneumonia following a hernia surgery. She and her five brothers and sisters were taken in by family and neighbors and, being the oldest, she cried herself to sleep many nights, worried about the care her siblings were receiving.

Grandma loved school … well, she loved learning. She remembered being bullied by the big kids (nothing new under the sun, as they say), often walking two miles to the nearest country school, and changing schools seven times in eight years. Despite all that, she had a gift for spelling and being a good student, she hoped she could continue beyond the typical 8th grade education and go to high school.

In those days, and given the circumstances of being cared for by relatives, there just wasn’t money to pay for her continued education. At 14, she went to work. Three dollars a week was her wage for housekeeping, laundry and caring for new mothers and babies. By the time she married my grandfather, she was earning eight dollars a week. She was 22 years old.

From what we would consider a meager wage, Grandma was able to save money to buy her own furniture. She ordered a new cookstove for $49 and a heater for $65 from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Starting their life together in the heart of the depression taught them great lessons on being self-sufficient, frugal, and grateful.

After losing their first baby at childbirth, she developed some form of kidney poisoning and nearly died. A new drug saved her life and she was later able to deliver two healthy baby boys.

The first 28 years of her life sound full of sadness. Then, I see a picture like this, my favorite of her, and I know that she also experienced much happiness.

She lived for 101 years. This is what she wrote to describe her life:

As I look back through the years, I know my life wasn’t easy at times,
but can see God’s hand was guiding me through the years.
I had a good husband and my two boys for which I am grateful.

Faith … gratitude … and a whole lot of class.

I loved spending time with her. Whether is was sharing a frozen pizza between my high school activities, baking cookies together at Christmas, canning and freezing garden produce side-by-side, or just playing a long game of UNO! together, we created simple memories. We had a lot in common but she envied my 5’8″ height and was quick to say so each time I could reach the upper shelves of her kitchen cabinets for her. I can only hope the grey hair that I keep camouflaged will someday be as beautiful as hers. To be remembered as a good-natured, fun-loving, faith-filled woman like her, would be a huge compliment. To be remembered by the smell of something warm and comforting fresh from the oven … well, that would be icing (or glaze) on the cake.

The hand-written version of this recipe, signed with a wish and, as always, given with love.
Print Recipe
Grandma Opal's Coffee Cake
The smell of this coffee cake baking is enough to make a non-coffee drinker crave a cup to accompany their first bites! A few simple steps and even more simple ingredients are all it takes to make my grandmother's cinnamon-struesel specialty.
Bundt Coffee Cake
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Servings
16 slices
Ingredients
  • 1 14.5-oz package yellow cake mix
  • 1 3.9-oz package vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup minced pecans
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Servings
16 slices
Ingredients
  • 1 14.5-oz package yellow cake mix
  • 1 3.9-oz package vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup minced pecans
Bundt Coffee Cake
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Coat the inside of a bundt pan well with butter or cooking spray. Sprinkle liberally with flour, turning the pan on it side and rotating to distribute flour evenly. The entire inside of the pan should be well coated.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine cake and pudding mix. Add oil and water, mixing on a low speed just until combined. Increase mixer speed a little and add eggs, one at a time, allowing 2 minutes of mixing between each addition.
  4. Struesel mixture: combine sugar, cinnamon and pecans in a small bowl; set aside.
  5. Pour half of the batter into the bottom of the bundt pan. Sprinkle the struessel mixture over batter. Pour remaining batter into pan.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until cake is brown and set in the middle. Cake is done when a toothpick, inserted in the center, comes out clean.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool 15 minutes. Use a very thin knife to gently release the outside edges of the cake from the pan. Place a serving dish over the top of the pan and invert quickly so the cake will drop onto the dish.
  8. Allow to cool completely.
  9. A powdered sugar frosting or glaze may be drizzled oner the cake, if desired.

Coffee Cake