...Strawberry Pie...

I have been loving strawberries these days.  Health benefits aside they're just good.  I remember reading something somewhere that they naturally clean your teeth.  I've been buying them and eating them before Benjamin gets any.  I don't think he even knows they're in the fridge.

For Easter I knew I wanted to make Strawberry Pie.  I'd made one before but was super excited that Cook's Illustrated came with their recipe inside.  As I've said before, a winner for sure.  This got all the rave reviews I was hoping for - sweet, but not too sweet.  It's the perfect pie to make when you have awesome berries.

Sometimes when you have an awesome fresh fruit you're not sure what to do.  Often times the best thing is to just eat it fresh so it doesn't get lost in a recipe.  If you have fresh sweet strawberries I'd make this pie.  You make the jelly yourself and there isn't too much sugar to overpower their natural sweetness.  When can I make this next?

Recipe loosely modified and thanks to Cook's Illustrated 

Ingredients You'll Need:

  • Pie Crust (I baked one according to the package thanks to Trader Joe's)
  • 4 pints (3 pounds) strawberries rinsed, hulled, dried
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Sure-Jell for low sugar recipes
  • generous pinch of table salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1.  I made a pie crust according to the package directions.  You can make pie crust if you'd like, but pie crust and I aren't friends yet so I opted for the pre-made kind I had in my freezer.

2.  Select 6 ounces of the unattractive berries, having those that are too large, and measuring about 1 1/2 cups.  Process the berries in a food processor until smooth.  You should have 3/4 cup of puree.

3. Whisk sugar, cornstarch, sure-jell, and salt in a medium saucepan.  Stir in the puree scarping down the corners of the pan.  Stir constantly and when it boils continue stirring for 2 minutes then remove from the heat.  Pour the jelly into a bowl and let it cool to room temperature.

4. Take your remaining berries and hull them.  Half the large ones but otherwise try to keep whole berries.  When the jelly is at room temperature mix it with the berries then pour everything into the pie shell.  Chill for at least 2 hours and up to 5.

Note: I made everything the night before I was serving this.  I assembled the pie the morning of Easter knowing it wouldn't be enjoyed until later that afternoon and it was fine!  I think you can assemble it the night before too and no one will be upset because it's just that good.

...Where to Find Me...

You can find me, and the article I wrote, over at Metrocurean.

Want to know about 5 options for getting farm fresh food delivered this summer?  Check it out here.

...Broccoli-Cheese (and Spinach) Soup...

I've been eating a lot of dairy these days.  Usually this would make my stomach hurt but perhaps the baby is soaking up all the milk and turning it into bone before my body gets a chance to think about it.  There's no science behind my theory but it works for me.

Today I bring you Broccoli-Cheese Soup thanks to Cook's Illustrated.  You really can't go wrong when it comes to their recipes and I love knowing that they're essentially fool-proof.  After having a very creamy broccoli-cheese soup in a restaurant the other week I opted to make some at home.  This version is heavy on the broccoli, which is a.o.k. by me.

Recipe thanks to Cook's Illustrated

Ingredient's You'll Need

  • 2 T. unsalted butter
  • 2 lbs broccoli florets cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped (1 cup)
  • about 2 teaspoons minced or pressed garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 3-4 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable if you're a veg)
  • 2 ounces baby spinach (2 loose cups)
  • 3 ounces sharp cheddar (3/4 cup)
  • 1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 3/4 cup)
1. Heat butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  When foaming is done with add the broccoli, onion, garlic, mustard, cayenne, and 1 teaspoon table salt.  Cook until fragrant, about 6 minutes.  Add 1 cup water and baking soda- bring to a simmer, cover and cook until broccoli is very tender, about 20 minutes stirring only once while it cooks.

2.  Add broth and 2 cups of water and increase the heat to medium-high.  When it begins to simmer stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, just about a minute.  

3. Turn off the heat and transfer 1/2 of the soup to a blender.  Add cheddar and Parmesan and process until smooth.  Transfer soup to a mixing bowl then repeat with remaining soup.  Return the soup to the dutch oven and bring to a simmer.  

4.  Adjust the consistency of the soup with up to 1 cup of water, depending on how thick you like it.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with extra Parmesan!

Spinach, cheese, broccoli, more cheese.  Sounds like all the major food groups to me!  I served this up with some homemade croutons and extra cheese per their recommendation.  Enjoy a warm soup while you still can before the weather warms up too much!

...Happy Easter...

Happy Easter everyone!  We just got back from a great church service filled with a wonderful sermon and lots of kids in their Easter get up.  My husband will be included in that mix as he held out until today to wear this purple check shirt and green bow tie!  Kid at heart.

We're off to my parents where we'll enjoy lamb, sunshine, strawberry pie, and lemon bars!  Some vegetable sides as well of course.  Posts on those recipes to come this week.  So glad it's nice out today as we celebrate Christ!

In other news, I'm featured in the Top 9 today for Food Buzz!  Pretty exciting.  You can check it out here!

...Totally Legit Banana Bread...

I'm not a big banana bread person.  I usually eat the bananas in smoothies before they reach the point where they're soft enough to be mashed and turned into bread.  I must have bought a big bunch the other week because I found myself with several bananas on hand and the itch to make some bread.

I turned to the Bride & Groom Cookbook, a wedding present of course, and saw a recipe for their "Unbelievable Banana Bread."  Sounded good to me...  This bread had that carmelized sugary crust and delicious moist center.  I'd make this again for sure.  Thanks Kate for the cookbook!

Recipe thanks to the Bride & Groom Cookbook

Ingredients You'll Need:

  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (or add a couple teaspoons of white vinegar to regular milk and let it sit for a few)
  • 2 cups mashed bananas - takes about 5 small bananas
1. Preheat oven to 350.  Put the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast them for 12-15 minutes.  After 6 minutes shake the pan then proceed to cook them the rest of the way.  Let them cool and if they're not already chopped, chop them up.

2. Spray 2 loaf pans with cooking spray, or if you only can find 1 loaf pan spray a muffin pan.  I used my over-sized muffin pan which really brings the bakery feel into your home.

3. Stir together the flour, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl and set aside.

4. Combine the oil and sugar in a stand or hand mixer.  Beat on low until combined then add in the eggs and vanilla and beat for about 1 minute.

5. Stir the baking soda and buttermilk together then add 1/3 of the the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl then 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture.  Repeat this process making sure everything is combined and add in the remaining dry ingredients.  Now stir in your bananas and walnuts- don't overmix!

6.  The batter will seem pretty wet but that's great.  Pour it into your prepared pans and cook about 1 hour for the loaf pan and then 20-30 minutes depending on how big your muffin tins are.  If they're small I'd check them about 15 minutes and gage the time from there until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

When they're done grab a slice after they've cooled for about 5 minutes.  If you're like me you'll spread some cream cheese on there, or maybe you'd like some butter to melt.  Either way, this bread is in fact unbelievable.

...How Many Eggs? And 3 Onion Quiche...

I love when Trader Joe's carries their pie dough.  It means summer is coming and people will be making more pies!  I came across this recipe in Sunset and knew I had to make it.  Benjamin always says, "oo quiche" whenever we're at a random bakery and I figured I could and should top any store bought quiche.

This recipe was not only easy but looks pretty (a good thing) and it's super rich.  Note that there are only 3 eggs used for a whole quiche!  The rest of the goodness comes from 1 cup half-and-half.  Need I say more?

Recipe thanks to Sunset

Ingredients You'll Need:

  • 1 sheet pie dough
  • 1 T butter
  • 3 medium leeks, rinsed and sliced thin
  • 2-3 bunches green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into half moons
  •  kosher salt
  • 1 T flour
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar
1.  Preheat oven to 425.  Roll out the pie dough into a 9 inch pie pan, crimp edges (mine never look pretty) and line the dough with parchment paper then fill with dried beans or pie weights.  Bake until golden- about 15 minutes.

2. While it's cooking melt 1 tablespoon butter in a saucepan then add leeks, green onion, and red onion.  Add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and saute until tender - about 20 minutes on medium- not too hot!

3. Whisk together 1 Tablespoon flour, half and half, eggs, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and the cheese.  Stir in 3/4 of the onion mixture and pour the filling into the pie shell.  Sprinkle rest of the onions on top.

4. Bake until the knife inserted comes out clean, about 20-30 minutes.  I always shake the pie a bit too to make sure it's set.  I covered the edges of the pie with foil until the last 10 minutes or so because I feared they would get too dark.

Let it sit 10 minutes then cut in and enjoy!  A nice dish to make Easter weekend, don't you think?

...Spiced Crab and Mango Salad...

This dish is a nice summer time salad with an extra kick of fancy.  Of course the crab and mango and avocado will have others swooning and the grapefruit on top adds a lovely punch of color.  You could even serve this with edible flowers like chive blooms or fresh pansies for an extra punch.

Having made this salad only once I would recommend watching the level of mayonaise you add.  You don't want all the lovely ingredients lost in the salad and you want to make sure the dressing is well seasoned and not too heavy.  This is best served very cold so make sure your ingredients are all cold when you start to assemble!

Recipe thanks to Small Parties

Ingredients You'll Need:

  • 1 mango peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 1 avocado, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 1/2 pound crabmeat
  • the juice of 2 limes
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried or 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon spicy Cajun seasoning
Everything Else:
  • 4 cups spring mix
  • 2 ruby red grapefruits, peeled and segmented
In a bowl gently toss the salad ingredients then separately make the dressing and fold the two together.  If you're not ready to serve it just yet you can go ahead and place it in the refrigerator for several hours.

Place your lettuce on a plate, top with the crab salad, and then garnish with the grapefruit.  Enjoy! 

...Salmon Nicoise Salad...

I made this winner of a dish a few weeks back to celebrate the soon to be birth of a friends baby.  Since then the baby has arrived and we get to meet him tonight!  Ina made this dish for a baby shower on her show and when I saw that I knew I had to make this for Kara.

The dish involved lots of items that could be made hours ahead and then everything was to be served chilled or at room temperature.  This is an excellent dish if you're having a barbecue, lunch, or light dinner and don't want to mess with last minute prep or worrying about the mayonaise covered salad going bad in the sun.  I don't think this salad would stay out long enough to go bad however- we all ate it up real quick!

All the flavors go together excellently and need I say more?  You should most definitely make this!

Recipe thanks to Ina Garten

I made some loose adaptations from her recipe, but nothing that made a huge difference.

Ingredients You'll Need:

  • 4 lemons, zested and juiced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large piece of skin-on fresh salmon fillets (mine could have served 5)
  • 3 pounds small Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 1/2 pounds haricots verts
  • 3 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges (6 small tomatoes)
  • 12 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut in 1/2
  • 1/2 pound large olives, pitted


  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil


1.  Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. 

2.  For the marinade, whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, mustard, garlic, 1 1/2 
tablespoons salt and 1/2 tablespoon pepper in a small bowl and set aside. 

3.  Place the salmon on a sheet pan that has been covered in aluminum foil, and drizzle the marinade over the salmon. Allow the salmon to sit for 15 minutes. 

4.  Place the potatoes and 2 tablespoons salt in a large pot of water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are just tender when pierced with a fork. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then place the colander with the potatoes over the empty pot off the heat and cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel. Leave the potatoes to steam for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender but firm. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice them in thick slices and set aside.  (This steaming method is a great new tip from Ina) 

5. Place the salmon in the oven and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until it is just cooked.  You'll know when it's done because it will flake with a fork. Remove to a plate and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. Remove the skin and break into large pieces. 

6.  Blanch the haricots verts in a large pot of boiling salted water for 1 1/2 minutes only. Drain immediately and immerse in a bowl of ice water. Drain again and set aside. 

7.  For the vinaigrette, combine the vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion.

Arrange the salmon, potatoes, haricots verts, tomatoes, eggs, and olives, on a large flat platter. Drizzle some vinaigrette over the fish and vegetables and serve the rest on the side if others would like more.

Just going through this recipe makes me want to have it all over again.  It's really that good.

...a gardening update...

I'm getting you a recipe today, but before I do a little update on how the gardening day went.  Well, when you're dealing with shade and eager to start planting but maybe it's not yet time, things can be a bit depressing.  Shade-only plants aren't my favorite and since I couldn't answer the question of how much sun light we'll actually get once all the leaves finish growing back on the trees I settled for pots already planted....from Costco.  Gone are the days (for now) of getting herbs from the farmers market and picking out any seed and flower my heart desired knowing it would grow.  The flowers are making me happy and once I know what I've got to work with I plan on getting some bright flowers to cover the small spot of dirt we've got!

...gardening day...

Later on today I'll embark on potting some flowers to put on our front steps.  I'm hoping to also plant a lot in our little patch of soil and officially welcome Summer.  It was 90 the other day so I'm pretty sure Spring will be past us soon and the temperatures will simply spike.

We have a lot of trees around us which I love, but that just means I'll have no sunlight for well- most everything I planted in my garden in Santa Barbara.  No tomatoes for me, and I'm afraid even basil may struggle.  It'll be a shade friendly spot, but hopefully a lush one with lots of color.  I'll report back on my progress!

...8 months, a little love throw back...

 So we've been married 8 months as of today.  Lots of change has happened in life and then we went ahead and added more by getting prego.  In 8 more months we'll have a little babe.  Crazy.

In the spirit of wedding bliss, and because it's way more fun to look back on the wedding like this than think about the useless stress and anxiety one goes through in planning it, wanted to show you this.  We were featured on the blog that made our Save the Dates.  Pretty fun to see it up and hear someone else's perspective on what the day looked like!

Check it out Here.

Off to bake cupcakes but rest assured some more tasty posts to come....

...Ina's Greek Gazpacho...

 It's warm out today.  Not the 76 or 82 we may have been expecting, but 91.  I'm not complaining.  I'll take warm and sun any day over gray and cold.  It's the kind of day where you could sit outside and eat some gazpacho.  If you have a food processor, there's no good excuse as to why you shouldn't make this soup.  Unless of course you're allergic to tomatoes.

I made this as a starter for a lunch the other day and it was a hit.  I think next time I might go with only 1 red onion over 2, but that's personal preference so I'll just go ahead and give you Barefoot's recipe as she recommends it here.

Recipe thanks to Ina

I ended up serving feta as an option for people to add in at the end, as opposed to adding it in then serving it.


  • 2 thick slices day-old bread, crust removed
  • 6 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped oregano leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 red onions, chopped
  • 1 seedless cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 4 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 3/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1 (46-ounce) can Sacramento tomato juice
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces good feta cheese, small-diced not crumbled
1.  Place the bread, garlic, oregano, and parsley in a food processor and process until everything is finely chopped. Add the vinegar and olive oil and process again until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl.

2. Place the peppers, red onion, cucumbers, tomatoes, and olives separately in the food processor and process until very coarsely chopped. Add to the mixing bowl. Add the tomato juice, salt, and pepper and stir well. Taste for seasoning, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Fold in the feta and serve cold.

Ina's Easy Garlic Lemon Chicken

 I was having an Ina kind of week.  I made a few recipes from her and as to be expected they were all delicious.  This recipe appealed to me because it looked simple, the ingredients were in my fridge, and it looked super tasty despite the lack of time it took to put things together.

I watched her make it and quickly grabbed a pen and paper to write down what I needed to do.  I'm pretty sure it was dinner that very same night.  Next time I'd go out to get chicken breast with the skin on to help keep the chicken moist instead of using the skinless chicken I had in the freezer.  Lesson learned- always listen to Ina.

Recipe thanks to Ina Garten

Ingredients You'll Need & the Easy Recipe
  • 1/4 cup olive oil in a saucepan on medium high heat
  • Place 9 chopped garlic cloves into the olive oil for 60 seconds
  • Add 1/3 cup white wine, 1 Tablespoon lemon zest, 2 Tablespoons lemon juice, 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano and a 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme.  Also add in 1 teaspoon salt and stir.
  • Place sauce in the bottom of a baking dish then top with 4 skin on chicken breasts that have been seasoned with salt and pepper and brushed with olive oil
  • Place 8 lemon wedges into the dish and bake at 400 for 30-40 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, wrap with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.
I served this up with some rice to soak up the delicious juice and green beans.  Easy peasy- and maybe your dinner tonight?!

Facebook Official: LB's Good Spoon!

It's a common joke that things aren't official until they're on Facebook.  Well, I've been meaning to make this official on there for awhile and finally hunkered down and made it happen the other night.

So, if you want to see what I'm making for dinner, hear my inner foodie ponderings and get links to these recipes there, come on over and "Like" it Here.

 There are also some pictures from my garden in Santa Barbara, the early cooking classes, and when I add new recipes, I'll add the link there and also pictures of the goods on Facebook!

  Here's the link- hope to meet many of you there soon!