Maple Pumpkin Pie

This week is proving to be the quintessential autumnal weather. Outside my window, the wind rocks thin branches with tawny leaves and weathered edges. The air current through the room made us all reach for a cozy pair of socks this morning! Certainly a season of inexhaustible flavors and tastes, cool fall evenings require creamy pies for warming the body and soul.

No better way to kick off October than with maple plus pumpkin in a satisfying pie dish.

As soon as there’s a chill in the air, I crave the textures and flavors of pumpkin. And here it is, our first pumpkin pie of the season. The addition of maple to the silky pumpkin adds a soft and subtle flavor. This maple pumpkin pie recipe is so simple, you’ll be putting this fall favorite on your regular dessert rotation.

For a pudding-like option, skip the crust and bake the filling in a lightly greased dish or individual ramekins.

The ingredient list is so wholesome, you may just want to have a slice of pumpkin pie as an afternoon snack with a cup of hot tea…every day until Thanksgiving : )

Maple Pumpkin Pie

  • 1 15oz. can pumpkin puree

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 2/3 cup maple syrup

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (maple sugar or coconut sugar would be perfect!)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 3 eggs, well beaten

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • CRUST: use your favorite pie crust recipe, I recommend this one. Have it premade in the fridge (or store bought) for a faster way to enjoy your pie!

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Roll your pie crust onto a pie plate. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until fluffy and add all other ingredients. Stir until combined and smooth. Carefully pour filling in pie crust. Bake in the middle rack for 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let it stand 30 minutes or more before cutting. It’s delicious slightly warm, but you might enjoy it best after it’s chilled in the fridge.

That’s it! To serve, sprinkle toasted pecans, drizzle a little maple syrup, or maybe whip up a little cream for a silkier, richer treat.

Let me know how you like it. Can’t wait to hear how you enjoyed it!

with love. Damaris


Heirloom Tomato Quiche

If you’ve been to the farmer’s market lately, the tables are overflowing with all sizes and every color of heirloom tomatoes. It’s a beautiful thing to see! Malformed, purple, lopsided, variegated, golden, pink, really every shape and shade is delicious.

We are growing a handful of heirloom varieties this summer. The good-lookin’ ones go out to the farm stand, but a fair share come into the farmhouse kitchen. Too many too eat sliced up, matter fact! We make batches of fresh salsa using jalapenos from the garden, and we also crush the tomatoes and slow simmer with garlic and basil for a simple, traditional marinara sauce. Since the abundance was exceptionally high last week, I picked the most gorgeous heirloom tomatoes and decided to make a couple quiches.

Our family loves quiches! It’s really a real food, fast food : ) Lately, I’ve been keeping a pie crust or two in the fridge for a late afternoon summer galette that can be made at a moment’s notice. When I told Eva I was going to write this post, she was very excited saying that I had invented this recipe. The truth is there are many similar ways to a quiche, all tasty and rewarding. I have made quiches for so many years, so many ways, that I’ve found how to simplify it to be a quick and easy breakfast, lunch, or supper pleasure for our family.

We don’t have chickens yet, but we’ve had hens in the past, and if you can get your hands on a half-dozen real eggs, this quiche will be all the more satisfying and goldenly delightful.

Heirloom Tomato Quiche

  • 6 eggs

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 1 teaspoon herbed salt blend (delicious with herbs de Provence salts, or just seasoned salt)

  • 1 cup of bacon, cooked and cut up/chopped/thinly sliced

  • 1 cup of sharp shredded cheese

  • 1 or 2 heirloom tomatoes (depending on their size), cored and sliced

  • more herbed salt bled of your choice for sprinkling over tomatoes

  • CRUST: use your favorite pie crust recipe, I recommend this one. Have it premade in the fridge (or store bought) for a faster way to enjoy your quiche!

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Roll your pie crust onto your pie plate. Beat the eggs until fluffy, add milk and herbed salt blend. Add the bacon and the cheese and pour the mixture into the crust-lined plate. Lay the heirloom tomato slices over the egg mixture and sprinkle a little herbed salt blend to flavor the tomatoes. Bake in the middle rack for 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let it stand 5 minutes or more before cutting.

That’s it! Real food the fast way for any day of the week!

Let me know how you like it. I’m sure cooked sausage, ham, or meatless would be just as tasty. Can’t wait to hear how you enjoyed it!

with love. Damaris


Strawberry Rhubarb Galette

This free-formed pie is light as a summer supper al fresco requires. This delicate fruit galette is just sweet enough to nicely wrap up the meal all the while being wholesome and loaded with seasonal fruit.

Traditional galettes may have a crust on top too. We’ve served it up with a generous dusting of sugar, but a dollop of whipped cream would be extraordinary. Strawberries and rhubarb are so happy together! Sweet and tart are an ageless match. Whenever they’re paired, strawberries and rhubarb make so much juice that some will always run out.

Peaches are also absolutely delicious (not too mushy) in this galette instead of strawberries and rhubarb. Since blueberries are in season, I think blueberry-peach or blueberry-strawberry would be scrumptious. Apples in the fall are perfect for this recipe and yield less errant juices.

I’m convinced this is the fastest desert you’ll ever make!

Strawberry Rhubarb Galette

  • 3 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered

  • 2 cups rhubarb, chopped

  • 1/2 cup sugar, any will do – we used coconut sugar in the galette pictured

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot

  • zest of a lemon or 1 teaspoon lemon peel

  • melted butter for brushing over the crust

  • 1 raw or coarse sugar for sprinkling

  • CRUST: use your favorite pie crust recipe, I recommend this one. Have it premade in the fridge (or store bought) for a faster way to dessert!

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper to collect any juices. In a medium bowl, add the sugar, zest, and cornstarch or arrowroot to the fruit. Mix and spoon into the center of the round crust. Leaving about 3 inches between the fruit filling and the edge of the crust. Fold the edges of the crust over the fruit. To finish the galette, brush the crust with melted butter and sprinkle with a few pinches of sugar. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the crust is golden brown. Allow it to cool before slicing. Enjoy it with a dollop of whipped cream or crème fraiche.

Let me know how you like it and which fruit combination you enjoyed!

with love. Damaris


Kale, Farro, and Chickpea Salad

Farro has been my new favorite thing. There’s just something about that unique chewy texture and nutty flavor that I can’t get enough of this summer!

Farro is an ancient wheat grain that is small, light-brown colored. It’s wholeness and subtle bran tastes are flexible and adaptable to most recipes that would call for rice or other grains. Before farro is cooked, it looks similar to wheat berries, but afterward it looks similar to barley.

I always used to make this recipe with millet, which is delicious and gluten free. We also enjoyed this kale and chickpea salad the last couple summers with quinoa, but the farro is the softest, largest, almost creamiest grain. I’m sure barley would yield similar taste, but farro’s soft texture contributes a tasty surprise. I’m sure you’ve figured out that this is one of our unconventional uses for our prolific garden kale. But really, it’s so good that you’ll find it a gratifying compliment to your grilled chicken or broiled salmon dinners this week.

You may find that it has a bite from the lemon. I admit I like to taste the lemon. If perhaps you don’t, cut back on the amount of lemon to maybe 2 tablespoons. The smoky hint from the cumin rounds it all up. Other than that, this salad is pretty straight forward. I recommend “massaging” the kale first before incorporating the other salad elements. Because kale leaves are so sturdy, allowing it to sit in the fridge a couple of days helps soften the kale and allows the farro to absorb the salad juices.

An emotional side note: Two summers ago, an older friend was suffering from cancer, and her diet was very restricted to highly-nutritious, whole foods. Of all the meals we shared with her, this salad (with quinoa instead of farro) was her favorite. She liked it with the grilled boneless chicken thighs on top as a one bowl meal. Making this salad always reminds me of Judy.

Kale, Farro, and Chickpea Salad

  • 1 bunch of kale, washed, leaves cut off the stem and chopped like lettuce for salad

  • 1 cup farro (I use Trader Joe’s 10 minute farro), cooked according to package directions

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 1 15 or 16 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Place cut up kale in a bowl. Add salt and massage the leaves with the salt until the leaves start to become tender. Add the cooked farro (cooled, warm is fine too) and chickpeas. Stir in the oil, lemon juice and cumin. Add black pepper to taste and enjoy. It really is better 2 and 3 days later. Refrigerate your leftovers.

Even if it’s not a weekly staple for you like it is at our house, I do hope you’ll give this delicious salad combination a chance.

Let me know how you like it and what you paired it with!

with love. Damaris


Swiss Oats: The Breakfast You'll Crave All Summer

Not too long ago, overnight oats had an overwhelming representation on Pinterest and food blogs because of the dish’s simplicity, no-cook, wholesome approach to breakfast. But the healthy overnight oats has in fact been around for well over a century. When you look at this recipe and hopefully try it, think of the beautiful summertime mountains of Switzerland for a moment : )

Swiss Oats or “Birchermüesli” was invented by Maximilian Oskar Bircher-Benner (1867-1939), a pioneer of holistic medicine and a whole foods diet. In 1897, Dr. Bircher founded a health clinic in Zürich, where he practiced holistic therapy which included whole foods diet, a daily walk, bathing and sunbathing. He also set up exercise equipment for his patients. He created Swiss Oats as a way to get his patients to eat more raw foods and a plant based diet. The original Bircher muesli was soaked overnight with water and lemon juice, and then eaten with yogurt.

I first tried Swiss Oats at a women’s breakfast nine or so years ago. I found it so unusual, refreshing, whole yet delicious. That’s when I did some background research on the dish and fell in love with the story of its creation. I have often shared a bowl with moms who just had a baby because it’s filling and fresh.

Swiss Oats

  • 2 cups of oats

  • 2 apples, cored and chopped very small (or grated)

  • 1 cup raisins or your favorite dried fruit

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 2 cups almond milk (any milk works fine)

  • blueberries or halved grapes make a delicious addition when serving (bananas add natural sweetness)

  • a splash of more milk when serving

  • honey or yogurt are very common additions (we’ve never used either one)

Combine all the ingredients together in a glass bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. You’ll enjoy the hassle-free, nutritious bowl in the morning.

Tell me when you make it, and I do so love to see your pictures!

with love. Damaris


Perfect Instant Pot Vegetarian Lentils

My mom makes the most delicious pots of lentils you’ll ever eat. Her favorite way to serve up a steaming shallow bowl of lentils is having cooked them with diced carrots, a trusty bay leaf, and short ribs. With a large romaine and tomato salad and fresh crusty pan (bread – always a baguette), you’ll find lentil stew on every restaurant’s menu in Spain. It serves their health well, for it boasts lots of minerals and vitamins.

Lentils are a quick cooking legume that provide a great source of protein making them a nutritious alternative to meat. Lentils are also high in fiber. You can read about their health benefits here. Improving digestion and heart health, lentils are a most frugal meal as well.

I have cooked lentils with a little sausage and at other times with a ham bone (reserved from a ham dinner), but meatless is equally delicious. Since the addition of an Instant Pot to my kitchen, I have made these vegetarian lentils again and again, and it’s a perfect meal every time. With no stirring, or tasting, or worries, it’s as quick and easy as dump and forget.

Some favorite garnishes are chopped parsley, thinly sliced radishes, and a splash of vinegar (growing up, mom used white wine vinegar, but I mostly used apple cider vinegar – both are delicious).

The pictures show our lentils from last week that I cooked with a ham bone.

Perfect Instant Pot Vegetarian Lentils

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 4 carrots, chopped

  • 4 celery stalks, chopped

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste

  • 4 oz. (or 4.5 oz) can of chopped green chiles

  • 12 oz. jar of roasted peppers and their juice, chopped

  • 2 cups of lentils (any kind)

  • 8 cups of chicken stock (true vegetarian: use vegetable broth)

  • salt and fresh ground black pepper

Turn the Instant Pot to the sauté function and add the olive oil. When heated, add the onion, carrots, and celery. Add the garlic stirring until it’s fragrant. Add the tomato paste and bay leaf almost at the end of the sauté stirring to incorporate the tomato paste. Add the chopped roasted peppers and their juice, the green chiles, lentils, and the chicken stock (or vegetable broth). Set the Instant Pot to the porridge function (automatically sets to 20 minutes) and keep the steam vent closed. That’s it! I allowed it to slow release and stay warm until we were ready to eat. You’ll love both the convenience to this nourishing bowl!

Tell me when you make it, and I do so love to see your pictures!

with love. Damaris


Flirty with Whole30?

Our family just went through the health program Whole30!!! If you’ve heard anything about it, it’s pretty shocking how many things considered daily staples cannot be included in the month’s meals. Nathan, Alexander and I had done a very strict Whole30 over a year ago, and we didn’t have a hard time. We were eating delicious food, bigger breakfasts than we ever had, more bacon, more guacamole, and lots of almond butter. Not bad. But this time around was exponentially harder.

To be fair, it was much easier in some ways (like menu planning or second guessing our food choices), but that everyone in the family was on the program, even the little ones, made it harder. Their cravings seemed more uncontrolled or at least they verbalized it more than any of us older ones would have admitted to. Everyone did excellent and enjoyed what we could eat for 25 days, and then mom made grilled cheese. I called it quits! They smelled the forbidden food from all over the house and came running to hug and kiss me for the gift of a little hot sandwich- hahaha!

Before I tell you how we dined for 25 days, I’ll go through the basic rules of the program: no real or artificial sweeteners (no honey, maple syrup, stevia, etc.), no grains (corn, rice, sprouted grains, quinoa, etc.), no legumes (all kinds of beans, soy, peanuts, peas), no dairy (cow, goat, sheep), no preservatives/additives (msg, carrageenan, sulfites), no alcohol nor tobacco. Lastly, cannot consume baked goods, treats, or junk food even if it’s made with ingredients you can eat. The program is for a strict 30 days of no sneaking or skipping, or cheating. There are numerous benefits to completing the month, but primarily, the health program’s goal is to help you “slay the sugar dragon” and identify your food sensitivities or inflammation triggers. We involved the children this time around because we were curious if there would be any measurable improvement in their focus and cognition.

Two things helped us to be successful:

  1. Incorporating all the meals we already eat and love that were compliant into the Whole30 menu. By planning meals we eat regularly instead of looking up all new ideas and recipes, we simplified mom’s menu planning and guaranteed we’d all enjoy the familiar foods.

  2. Ketchup – yes! Expensive, compliant ketchup : )

Breakfasts:

sausage, potato and egg hash

crust less quiche Lorraine

fried eggs, scrambled, poached, or soft boiled eggs with sausage or bacon

omelets

sausage and potato breakfast casserole (shredded hash brown potatoes instead of squash)

eggs shakshuka (no jalapeno nor cheese)

Lunches:

tuna salad

chicken salad

egg salad

burgers

hot dogs (compliant)

omelets

left overs

Suppers:

meatballs and marinara

beef stew

jambalaya

chicken curry

sweet potato chili

burgers and potato wedges

baked salmon and roasted Brussel’s sprouts with bacon

baked lemon-herb chicken with mashed potatoes

baked pork chops and roasted asparagus bundles wrapped in bacon

sausages/brats (compliant) and coleslaw

meatloaf and sweet mashed potatoes

Italian stuffed peppers

Quick sides to any meal or “desserts”:

olives

avocados/guacamole

dates

dried figs

raisins

apricots

almonds

walnuts

pistachios

all fresh fruits

celery

baby carrots

almond/cashew butter

applesauce

fried apples (omitting the sugar, using coconut oil)

fried bananas (same way as the apples)

I hope our experience can be a help to you if your considering a journey like Whole30. We would recommended it, not to tell you it’s easy, but to tell you it’s worthwhile. Let us know if you have any questions!

with love. Damaris


White Wine Herb Chicken: Instant Pot Lessons

There’s some irony here. In my world of loving slow, we have completely embraced our Instant Pot.

When I was growing up, my mom would leave me in charge of her time bomb ticking in the kitchen pressure cooker. It often contained some kind of stew. The steam valve would go off and spin angrilyspitting steam all over the kitchen while making the loudest shrieks. Today, we can enjoy electric pressure cookers that are very safe and the functions take all the guess work out of the experimentation.

This meal has so much flavor! If you choose not to use white wine, you can substitute chicken stock. The wine flavor is very mild but marries beautifully with the sweet garlic and oregano. A healthy and wholesome dinner cooked in the Instant Pot is perfect for a mid-week busy night. We’ve enjoyed this chicken several times, even this past Monday night. So, so good and tender!

White Wine Herb Chicken

3 lbs. bone-in (skin on or off) chicken thighs and/or drumsticks

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon dried oregano

2 cups white wine (substitute chicken stock)

salt and fresh ground black pepper

Turn the Instant Pot to the sauté function and add the olive oil. When heated, add the chicken, salt generously and brown well on both sides. Add the garlic, oregano, pepper, and wine. Set the Instant Pot to the poultry function (automatically sets for 15 minutes) and keep the steam vent closed. That’s it! I allowed it to slow release and stay warm until we were ready to eat. Disclaimer: I did not cook the potatoes with the chicken. I did take the chicken out and added small red potatoes to the broth in the Instant Pot. Turned it on to pressure cook for 7 minutes and allowed to slow release. The little potatoes will melt in your mouth. You’ll love it!

Tell me when you make it, and I do so love to see your pictures!

with love. Damaris


Honey-Apple Dutch Baby Pancake

We have a healthy relationship with honey in our household. It seems each time Nathan is working in the hives, the kids love to eat the raw honeycomb right off his tools. While this is their favorite way to indulge in our honey, perhaps a close second is this Honey-Apple Dutch Baby Pancake.

The cast-iron skillet heating in the kitchen, butter sizzling as it melts, and an eggy batter being whisked can only mean a sweet homemade Dutch Baby Pancake is about to please. Its flavors are pure and simple. This recipe is made with a very simple batter poured over honeyed apples. Baked in a very hot oven until puffed up and golden, it serves up like a giant popover with a honey-butter glaze. A light sprinkling of cardamom adds warmth and an undeniable woody aroma. Since this Dutch Baby Pancake can be made in just a matter of minutes and bakes up quickly, you’ll enjoy more time to savor the silky bites and take your time at the table.

We have used seasonal fruits like peaches or pears with delightful renditions of this delicate Dutch Baby Pancake. When it’s done baking, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see the honey-glazed apple slices arranged like an upside-down cake. A sifting of powdered sugar adds just the touch of sophistication.

Honey-Apple Dutch Baby Pancake*

  • 4 tablespoons of butter

  • 1 or 2 apples, cored and sliced into thin wedges

  • 1/3 cup honey

  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 cup milk (any kind will do)

  • 1 cup flour (used whole wheat with delicious results)

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • powdered sugar for dusting over the top

Heat the oven to 400F. Melt the butter in a 10 or 12 inch oven-safe skillet. When melted, add the apple slices and cook until soft and golden. Turn off the heat and stir in the cardamom and the honey. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, flour and salt. Pour over the hot cooked apples. Bake until puffed up and deep golden about 20 minutes. Slide the pancake onto a large plate or serve it up rustic -we do :). Dusting it with powdered sugar makes it extra special.

*This recipe was inspired by an old Martha Stewart cookbook I found 10 years ago at a garage sale : )

with love. Damaris


Instant Pot Loving + White Bean and Smoked Sausage Stew

Happiest of Fridays, My Friends! Life has been put on hold here in Michigan. We’re in the middle of a snowstorm and what better than a post about hot, steamy stew? We’re having this for dinner tonight, because you can’t beat SEVEN ingredients and a pot that does all the work for you in no-time.

Did I tell you I’m over-the-moon infatuated with my Instant Pot? Meals that would have used a skillet, slow cooker, or a pot come out of the stainless steel pressure cooker prepared to perfection with a fraction of the mess and time. Is your cupboard boasting this treasure yet? I’m sure we’ll share the same love : )

Nothing speaks family like the pleasures of gathering our loved ones, carefully ladleling stew into deep bowls, holding little hands, and saying grace – a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the day. Next, we all load a spoon and blow gently until it is just cool enough to eat.

I am confident that the best dishes emanate from the freshest ingredients prepared in the simplest way, and this stew attests to that. Using dried white beans, quality canned tomatoes, and full-flavored smoked sausage will deliver a rewarding, aromatic, hearty stew. Everything goes into the electric pressure cooker at once, and if prepared days in advance, this stew tastes even better.

When you serve this white bean and smoked sausage stew hot in generous portions with fresh crusty bread, you’ll enjoy the most soul-warming rustic stew! Do tell me you’ll try it?

White Bean and Smoked Sausage Stew

  • 3 cups of dried white beans (navy, canellini, any will do)

  • 2 (12 oz.) smoked sausages, sliced

  • 8 cups chicken stock

  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped

  • 2 (15oz.) diced tomato cans (stewed, crushed, whole-all work well)

  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary (crushing it in the palm of your hand gives it a little more life)

  • handfulls of fresh spinach leaves or kale for throwing in after cooking or directly upon dishing (optional)

Add all the ingredients to the electric pressure cooker. Cover and set on pressure cooking function for 45 minutes. Allow to slow release for a set-it-and-forget-it approach. The Instant Pot takes between 20-40 minutes to reach high pressure and will slow release for another 20-40 minutes. Enjoy the ease and comfort of this satisfying stew any night of the week! Makes fabulous leftovers and freezes great.

with love. Damaris