Wednesday, August 27, 2014


I believe in pie. It stands gloriously uncontested at the tippy top of my personal dessert hierarchy. I believe in pies of all shapes, sizes, and colors. I believe in sweet pies, savory pies, and those that just can't decide. I believe pies should be sky high and golden grown. I believe pies can gather everyone around a table in ways that other desserts can't. Think Thanksgiving. Think summer picnics. Think holiday baking with all that spicy goodness. 

So when my little sister returned from an eighteenth month sojourn in Latvia, I knew what had to grace her homecoming table. But it could not be just any pie. No sirree. Warren conjured his pie magic and created a pie filled with every perfect thing about summer heaped into one epic pan. Because pies should always be large enough to feed small nations. Such is the work of the humble slab pie. And of course I mandated that it had to be my favorite flavor. Strawberry rhubarb pie has never, not even once, let me down

Since the strawberry rhubarb filling provided such a pretty canvas, I bust out my alphabet cookie cutters to spell out the truest and most fitting phrase to ever adorn a pie. Tom Haverford would be so, so proud. Side bar: we just finished re-watching the entire series of Parks and Rec and I wept, yet again, watching every perfect stage of Leslie Knope and Ben Wyatt's love story unfold. If you haven't watched P&R do yourself a favor and:

Treat Yo' Self Two Thousand Fourteen! It's the best day of the year!

Finally, here in Michigan, we are doing our very best to savor the last teensy bit of summer. I still don't understand how summer slipped through our fingers so quickly. We are making one last trip (to Madison!) to celebrate so much love at our dear friends' wedding. And yes, there will be fried cheese curds. Hope you all have a lovely last summer weekend ahead of you!

P.S. Just imagine how good this pie would taste with a scoop of Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Ice Cream


For the Flaky Cream Cheese Crust
Adapted from our favorite Apple Turnovers
  • 18 tablespoons butter, diced and frozen
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ice cold water, just a few tablespoons
Mix the dry ingredients together; we use a Ninja but any food processor/blender will do (a couple of forks or pastry blender will also work). Add the cream cheese and pulse, then add the butter and pulse again. Pour in the vinegar and a tablespoon of water and pulse one more time.

Place the mixture into a zip-lock bag and add enough water (one tablespoon at a time--a few tablespoons should be all you need). Seal the bag and massage it gently until the flour mix is incorporated but not runny. Try not to handle it too much to keep everything cold. Refrigerate for an hour.

For the Strawberry Rhubarb Filling
Adapted from Simply Recipes
  • 6 cups rhubarb cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 4 cups strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 8 tablespoons minute tapioca (you can blend yours in a food processor to make it even finer)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • zest of one lemon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine rhubarb and strawberry in a large bowl and sprinkle with sugar, tapioca, salt, and lemon zest. Let it sit and mingle for ten minutes.

Roll out pie dough to fit a 9 x 13 pan and transfer to the pan. Put the filling in the dough-lined pan and crimp the dough edges with a fork. (Optional: if you have extra dough, cut out a few fun sayings with cookie cutters and place on top of filling.) Brush the crust with a little bit of milk and sprinkle with sugar. 

Put pan on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Then lower heat to 350 and bake for 50-60 minutes longer (start checking to see if it's done at 50 minutes). Serve with a scoop of strawberry rhubarb pie ice cream! Serves 10-12.

Obsessed with Pinterest? Me too! Let's be Pin Pals!

Some more awesome pie recipes:

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Ice Cream

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Ice Cream | Club Narwhal

Cookie Butter Pie

Cookie Butter Pie | Club Narwhal

Apple Turnovers

Bisteeya | Moroccan Chicken Pot Pie

Bisteeya | Moroccan Chicken Pot Pie

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Blackened Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa | Club Narwhal

You guys. These tacos. Oh. Em. GEE. Perfectly blackened shrimp layered with sweet mango salsa and zesty avocado crema, these babies are, like, my everything. 

Blackened Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa | Club Narwhal

You already know that I have a major thing for tacos (I'm still drooling over the Slow Cooker Beef tacos) but you might not know about my shrimp addiction. Because it is a real thing. However, I hardly ever make shrimp since Warren is seafood averse, which is just plain criminal.

Blackened Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa | Club Narwhal

Blackened Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa | Club Narwhal

And yes, Warren did legit refuse to eat these, but I didn't mind one bit since that left all the more for me. Leftovers made a mean salad and I can bet they would go really well with nachos. Or Totchos. Whatever floats your boat!

Mango Salsa | Club Narwhal

And this mango salsa is pretty much everything I love about summer--fresh, sweet, with the perfect amount of zest. It's pretty fab all by itself, or heaped on a pile of tortilla chips, and of course, these lovely shrimp tacos.

Blackened Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa | Club Narwhal

Blackened Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa | Club Narwhal


For the blackened shrimp
Adapted from The Wicked Noodle
  • 1 lb. large frozen peeled shrimp
  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • corn tortillas
Defrost shrimp in a bowl of cold water. Meanwhile, mix the spices. Pat shrimp dry and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the seasoning (save the rest of the seasoning for another meal). In a heavy skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. When pan is hot enough that water drops sizzle when they hit, add the shrimp in an even layer. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, until shrimp is pink and slightly browned. Take off the heat and transfer to another bowl so you don't overcook the shrimp.

To assemble the tacos, warm up corn tortillas and top with blackened shrimp, mango salsa and avocado crema (recipes below).

For the Mango Salsa
  • 1 large, ripe mango, peeled and diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • zest and juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • salt and pepper
Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside.

For the Avocado Crema
  •  1 ripe avcoado
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • zest and juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Put all ingredients in a food processor or blender (or you can just mash everything together if you have a really ripe avocado) and blend until smooth. Set aside. 

Wednesday, August 06, 2014


Fresh Blueberry Marshmallows | Club Narwhal

Blueberry season is my favorite part of summer. As a child, we used to spend a few weeks in Traverse City picking fresh berries to our hearts' content. Of course, I don't actually remember any of those idyllic summers of yore, but the pictures prove that I was a berry eater of the heroic kind (berry juice splattered all over my smug little face). 

As a grown up, I still can't get enough of fresh berries (Triple Berry Tarts, anyone?). It's one of the most magical parts about living in Michigan--blueberries for miles. I can't wait for the time when we can plant a few rows of blueberry bushes in our backyard. And some cherry trees. And an apple orchard. Dream big, right? Which brings me to these absolutely dreamy Blueberry Marshmallows.

Marshmallow Fluff | Club Narwhal

While I'm not a marshmallow fan generally speaking, if they are homemade I pretty much can't stop stuffing my face. How can you resist fluffy clouds of marshmallows? I had a few pints of blueberries to eat my way through and I sacrificed one to make a gorgeous, vibrant blueberry simple syrup to marble over the gooey marshmallow goodness.

It was a good decision. 

Fresh Blueberries | Club Narwhal
Making Blueberry Marshmallows

The gem-toned blueberries swirled so beautifully with the fluffy marshmallows. I took approximately one million photos of this pan. I would also be really into this if it were fabric. Just think of how cool a marbled skirt would look!

Marshmallows with Marbled Blueberries | Club Narwhal

Yep, just get all up in there. Don't be shy. 

Marshmallows with Marbled Blueberries | Club Narwhal

Marshmallow making can be a bit scary but I promise you that it is so worth it. Powdered sugar will be your new BFF. And it is kind of like magic, watching a bowl of grainy gelatin water become gorgeous pillows of marshmallows. I'm sure there's, like, "science" behind the transformation but seeing it still blows my mind every time. 

Marshmallows with Marbled Blueberries | Club Narwhal

I love that these marshmallows stand tall and proud. And my mind is whirring with possibilities--Nutella marbled marshmallows? Mango curd? Key lime pie marshmallows sprinkled with graham crackers?! Holy cow, I need those in my life so badly. 

Fresh Blueberry Marshmallows | Club Narwhal

Obviously, the best way to eat these lovely blueberry marshmallows is melted with white chocolate and sandwiched between homemade lemon sugar cookies. Fancy S'mores are basically a requirement when it comes to these, right? 

I'm sharing a fun recipe over on Cindy's lovely blog, Hungry Girl Por Vida. She just had her first darling child so I'm pitching in to give her all the time in the world to snuggle with Casper. Hop on over to see how to make these Blueberry and White Chocolate Fancy S'mores!

Blueberry and White Chocolate Fancy S'mores | Club Narwhal


Adapted from Ina Garten
  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin (usually found by the Jell-O boxes)
  • 1 cup cold water, divided in half
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • blueberry simple syrup (recipe below)
  • powdered sugar, for dusting
Dump gelatin packets in the bowl of a stand mixer and add 1/2 cup cold water (you can try using a hand mixer but I would halve the recipe so you don't tire your mixer's motor out). Let it sit so the gelatin softens.

Meanwhile, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan and cook over medium-high until the sugar dissolves (this takes about 2-3 minutes). Raise the heat to high and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Your candy thermometer should read 240 degrees. We don't have a candy thermometer so we went by time.

Using the whisk attachment, turn the mixer on low and slowly pour the sugar syrup in the dissolved gelatin. Crank the mixture up to high and whip until mixture is thick and fluffy, about 15 minutes (see above photo of the whisk to get a feel for how things should look). Add vanilla and mix thoroughly.

Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper and dust generously with powdered sugar. Pour the marshmallow fluff into the pan and smooth the top. Swirl with 1/2 cup blueberry syrup. To create a marbled look, dot the blueberry syrup across the pan and then drag a knife in vertical zig zags, then horizontal zig zags. Add more blueberry syrup for more marbling. Dust with more powdered sugar and set pan aside, uncovered, over night (or until they marshmallows dry out). 

Lift marshmallows out of the pan and cut into squares (or use cookie cutters dusted with powdered sugar to create shapes). Dust cut sides with powdered sugar so they don't stick together. Enjoy!

For the Blueberry Simple Syrup
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
Put blueberries and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Boil for 6-7 minutes, until mixture has thickened. Pour into a bowl and bring to room temperature (or refrigerate) until you are ready to marble the marshmallows.