Grandma’s Vinegar Pie

During Thanksgiving weekend the Johnson family eats pie for breakfast, as an afternoon snack, and for dessert after dinner. We are passionate about pie. At my wedding there was no wedding cake. I was more interested in wedding pie from Zingerman’s. This Thanksgiving we baked Pumpkin Pie, Oatmeal Pecan Pie, Apple Pie, Blueberry Pie and Chocolate Banana Cream Pie. We also made a Johnson family specialty…Vinegar Pie. For the first fifteen years of my life I was a Vinegar Pie skeptic. Vinegar in a pie sounds gross. My mom finally convinced me to give it a try when she described it as a pecan pie without the pecans. Vinegar Pie essentially is a sugar pie. Nobody seems to know why the recipe calls for vinegar, but we add that tablespoon every time. It’s about time I blog Grandma Johnson’s Vinegar Pie. I dug out the recipe in Mama’s old cookbook. Give it a try this holiday season! I have also included some of my Friendsgiving and KIPP Potluck photos. Quick tip: Next time you make sweet potato casserole, use marshmallow fluff. Your vegetarian friends will thank you and if you bake then broil it, the marshmallow will make a delicious crusty layer.

Mamita Chenhall’s Recipe Book
Chocolate Banana Cream Pie, Vinegar Pie, Apple Pie, Oatmeal Pecan Pie 
Thanksgiving 2013, Green Bean Casserole, Marshmellow Fluff Sweet Potatoes, Alaina’s Rolls

Pecan + Cherry Brussels Sprouts with Gorgonzola

Quarter 1 parent teacher conferences are officially over! At KIPP we conference as a full teaching team, so the fifth grade team has spent fifteen hours together over the past three days… and it was fun! We met with lots of happy parents (a testament to the strength of the team), shared some good laughs and ate lots of food! Last year we started the tradition of having a conference week potluck. As a result, we’ve eaten very well, enjoying Karen’s apple crumble and pasta salad, Julie’s black bean enchiladas and salted caramel cupcakes, Arlena’s chili and sweet cornbread, Alaina’s fluffy fruit dip and decadent chocolate pie, and Ashley’s baked pasta and famous crumble. Tuesday I tried a pinterest cheesy tomato quinoa bake. Meh, it’s not worth blogging. Today I decided to make my new favorite Brussels sprouts dish. I’ve made it three times in the past two weeks! I love roasting Brussels sprouts because of the way they get soft on the inside and are crunchy on the outside. The dried cherries and pecans add sweetness and texture. The gorgonzola topped at the end is the icing on the cake, and really brings the entire dish together. I’ll be making this dish for school thanksgiving and LA friendsgiving. It’s become a quick hit! 

1 pound brussels sprouts, halved
2/3 cup dried cherries
1/3 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup pecan halves
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt + Pepper to taste

Heat oven to 400° F. On a baking sheet, toss the Brussels sprouts, pecans, cherries, oil, balsamic, salt and pepper. Turn the Brussels sprouts cut-side down (this will give them a nice crunch). Roast until golden and tender, about 25 minutes. Top with gorgonzola and serve.

Puerto Rico + Family Wedding + Mofongo

This past weekend Brent and I flew the red eye to New York and down to San Juan, Puerto Rico to celebrate my cousin Lucille’s wedding. I did not realize how far Puerto Rico is from California! In my mind Puerto Rico is close. California is close to Mexico. They speak Spanish in Mexico and they speak Spanish in Puerto Rico, so they must be close, right? Our total flying time was nine hours one-way, longer than it takes to get from Michigan to London! It was a quick Friday-Monday trip, but it was totally worth it to see my party in a box cousin get married and to spend time with the crazy Chenhalls. Below are a few pictures from our trip. Keep scrolling for food pictures!

The wedding ceremony was at the Castillo de San Cristóbal, a Spanish fort in San Juan. It was such a unique ceremony location. Brent and I, of course, teared up when we saw Lucille in her gorgeous dress walking down the aisle. The reception was then at Hotel El Convento. We ate yummy food and danced for hours, to be expected from a Lucille wedding.

The next day Brent drove Marta, Brooke, Alicia Ann and I to Yunque rainforest. We had fun visiting waterfalls, going on mini-hikes and we had plenty of laughs. On our way back to San Juan we were determined to find some authentic Puerto Rican food. We stopped along the side of the road for some mofongo. Mofongo is made from fried plantain mashed with broth, garlic, and pork cracklings. It is typically served in a mound and filled with meat. We ordered a creole steak mofongo and a garlic chicken mofongo. I also had to order fried plantains and we got some chorizo too. We loved the mofongo so much that we had mofongo again for dinner back in San Juan. This time we had ropa vieja mofongo topped with shredded beef. When I got back to Los Angeles I bought a few plantains from the grocery store today, and I’m gonna play around with frying them and mashing them, but I am sure I will not be able to top what I had on this trip. It was such a unique dish, and had such a variety of textures and flavors. Delicious!

If you ever have the chance to visit Puerto Rico, do it! Flights are fairly inexpensive, San Juan is a beautiful, surprisingly big colonial city with great nightlife, food and sightseeing. The rainforest gives the off the beaten path experience, and the beaches are beautiful. Thank you Lucille for choosing such a great location to get married. Congratulations to you and Anthony!