Easy 4 Ingredient Fig Pie

We had friends visit a couple of weeks ago and while here, they made a fig and goat cheese with honey flatbread that was to die for. It got me onto a fig kick and right after they left, figs went on sale BOGO at my grocery store, so I got some. I made another flatbread, but then wanted to try something else as well.

This is where I confess that I have never in my life made a pie. The crust intimidates me. Hubby bought me some packaged, store brand pie crusts to experiment with and even those had me nervous. I always joke that I am a big nerd who has 4 pie plates in my cupboard and have NEVER USED THEM. Nerd.

So, I pulled two of them out one day since from the recipe I used, I thought I had enough ingredients. In hindsight, I should have just made one huge overflowing with figs pie. But instead I got two sort of skimpy pies. I liked this recipe because I didn’t have to do anything scary like put crust over the top of the pie.

My family claims they loved it. I thought it was pretty delicious for breakfast this morning. I want to try it again while the figs are still on sale and try one big pie maybe with honey instead of maple syrup.

Anyway…if you would like to whip up a super easy, delicious fig pie, this is how you do it! Only 4 ingredients!

1 pie crust (thawed if frozen) or be fancy and make your own.
20 fresh figs, top cut off, thinly sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp maple syrup

Directions: Preheat oven to 350°F. Slice figs and place in crust. Sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar. Bake for 25 minutes. Drizzle with maple syrup and bake for 5-10 minutes.

Serve warm.

Enjoy!!

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What I Learned By Cooking All New Meals For a Month

Bok Choy with Sesame and Garlic Tofu

My month long challenge to cook all new meals ended late last week. The grand finale was sweet and sour chicken, requested by my daughter. It is absolutely her favorite treat for us to take her to out for Chinese and to order that. She kindly stated that “since you can make restaurant meals now, can you make those for me?” I say this not to pat myself on the back to claim the most magnificent culinary skills, but to tell you that we enjoyed it – it was worth it, and indeed it often seemed like we were eating restaurant meals, not home meals. Maybe this is all just to say that maybe I was just really not a great cook before. I mean, I made whole, good, healthy foods for my family often, but the number one thing that I discovered over the past month was that everything I cooked before was relatively tasteless. I couldn’t believe the spices almost every meal I made called for! I used spices that until now have done nothing but sit in my pantry. It’s not that I didn’t have them, I didn’t know how to use them. I was so afraid of using too much and instead I was using not enough.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

When the month started and I printed out recipes and scoured websites to try to find foods we’d all enjoy that would be challenging, but not so much so that it was a bust, I was very nervous. As it turns out, never once did we have to go out to eat and only twice did my kids decide that they’d rather have yogurt and bananas for dinner instead of what I made. The first few meals, I’m not going to lie, took a long time. I wasn’t used to reading recipes and so much planning in the kitchen. I usually just pull out something, decide it’s going to be the basis of our meal and concoct something relatively simple from that. It was challenging, but rewarding to use some things I hadn’t thought of and to make things that often until the last minute of cooking I was sure I had ruined.

Tuscan-Style Chicken with Italian Sauteed Beans

I discovered that my hubby and I love Thai food (I think he already knew that about himself, but I didn’t know it about him and I certainly didn’t know it about myself). I discovered that there is more to dinner than meat and potatoes. I learned that I go through a lot of garlic and olive oil. And I learned that homemade mozzarella sticks are seriously insanely delicious, although not even remotely healthy. The goal was not to be really healthy, and I think I did a nice mix of meals that ranged from entirely deep-fried fat filled to uber healthy tofu and vegetables. I am all about moderation around here and the challenge of new meals for 30 days was long enough for me to really spread out a wide variety of foods and experiment with a lot of new things.

Some other recipes I tried and loved but didn’t take pictures of (I am not a food photog!) are:

Cheese Tortellini Soup
Curried Cod Filet
Shrimp and Zucchini with Bowties in Light Tomato Sauce

Hopefully you can find some cooking inspiration from some of this, since I know all about how discouraging a rut in the kitchen can feel and how unmotivated I can get when it’s time to make dinner and I’m uninspired.

Happy cooking!

The Dinner Challenge: Two Weeks In

Thank you all so much for the suggestions that you gave me last week for recipes, websites, and cookbooks to help me through my challenge of making new-to-me dinners for a month. If you want to check out the ideas people shared, there are some good ones – just read the comments here.

I am not going to tell you every last meal I have made over the past two weeks. Nearly all have been hits with the whole family, but I thought I’d just share a few favorites.

Lemon Orzo Salad with Veggie and Chicken. My kids loved this despite the green stuff on the chicken.

Heidi shared this recipe for Dixie Pork Chops. My family *loves* pork chops. This was a huge hit. I even shared the recipe with my mom for a birthday dinner she was making for a friend. Rave reviews came pouring in. Try this.

Pad Thai. Nobody loved this more than I did. So yummy. I made it with just tofu, no shrimp. I could not wait to eat the leftovers for lunch the next day. Apparently, neither could hubby because he took ALL THE LEFTOVERS to work with him. I was peeved!! I can’t wait until this challenge is over so I can make it again.

Olive Oil, Tomato and Basil Pasta. Last week at yoga, my friend was telling our instructor about my blog and the dinner challenge – she told me about this dish and I have no idea if I did it right. I found something similar online to what I ended up making, only I also put in cubes of mozzarella and added chopped up garlic per yoga instructors directions. Everybody loved it except my daughter who had a piece of garlic touch her mouth and screamed “MY MOUTH IS ON FIRE!!” for a while afterward. For those of us in the less dramatic crowd, this one is good!!

Last night, I made Thai Coconut Curry Shrimp. Every spring when my parents leave for the season, they clean out their pantry and give everything to me. I had a can of lite coconut milk that I had no idea what to do with. I found this recipe online and I drooled all day long thinking of making this dinner. It. Was. Amazing. If no other meal made this month long challenge worth it, this one did. Sooooo goooood.

Some things I’ve learned so far:

  • Scary ingredients are not that scary. In fact, they are delicious.
  • Brown rice is not horrible just because it takes twice as long to cook.
  • It costs no more to try new than it did to buy the same old stuff every week.

I have opened my pantry and my refrigerator and taken out things that have sat for too long because I either didn’t know what to do with them or was afraid it would be too hard, or that no one would like it. When I started this challenge and said to myself “the worst that can happen is we go out for pizza”, I let all of those worries go. No, not everyone likes everything I make. But they also haven’t died of food poisoning. I am learning to love the *process* of cooking again – the chopping, the following a recipe, the excitement when I put plates in front of everyone and none of us know what it’s going to taste like.

I have also learned that my 4 year old is adorable beyond words. All he says every night when I put dinner on the table is “Mommy? Do I love this?” and I say “Yes, Eli, you love this dinner!” and he eats it and – loves it. I wish kids stayed little forever!!

What have you been serving up for dinner lately? I still have weeks to go – so feel free to hit me with more ideas.

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