I bought a set of miniature Valentine’s Day cookie cutters a couple weeks ago, because I had grand plans of making a ruby red mixed berry pie with the top crafted from dozens of little overlapping pie crust hearts…
Now I pride myself on making a pretty darn good pie crust. I’ve spent a lot of time getting the recipe and method down to a science. In the fall I’ll make a couple apple pies, in the spring it’s strawberry rhubarb, and peach raspberry in the summers. Aside from those, I like to mix it up and try out some new combos, but the ingredients are always more or less the same.
So into this Valentine’s Day pie went raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries. A touch of lemon juice, sugar, and corn starch. All the usual subjects, adjusted a bit to accommodate the juicy berries. Then I rolled out a circle of pie crust, and set to work cutting thirty or so miniature hearts, which I then delicately arranged over the filling.
I refused to screw up this time -consuming pie. It was going to be freaking beautiful. People would oo and ah at my artistry. I took a deep breath once I finished assembling the pie. So far so good. I said a quick prayer and slid it into the oven. I closed the oven door and thought to myself “ohhhh yea, 45 minutes away from the prettiest pie you’ll ever see.”
I went to check on it about a half hour later. I noticed some of the red juices coming through the top. My inner perfectionist started to pace, but I told myself to remain calm. It’s is a pie after all, it’s supposed to look slightly rustic. After the oven timer went off I checked again. The juices were bubbling, the crust was golden brown. All good indications that a pie is ready. Out of the oven it came.
I stared at the pie. Red juices leaking all over my precisely cut little hearts. I tried to convince myself it was still pretty, not to touch it, that the stains did not take away from the overall effect.
A few minutes passed. My inner perfectionist started to get pissed. I intended to make a flawless pie and damn it I want what I want. I resolved to just eat it, forget photographing it or bringing it anywhere to share. So I put it in the fridge to cool.
A couple hours later, I noticed the juices that had leaked were still pretty liquidy. I thought, ‘That’s strange… after a few hours it won’t be fully set but it should have at least thickened some…’ I decided to try and assess the situation further by cutting into in.
Red liquid every where. Raw bottom crust. Doughy hearts. A ruined sheet pan. Stains on my shirt and hands. A Valentine’s Day massacre. I had to destroy the evidence. Down the drain it went immediately so I wouldn’t have to stare failure in the face a moment longer. I threw the pan away. I took a shower.
That afternoon I sat down to have a good hard think about my efforts. I don’t know where I went wrong. The incident is still too fresh in my mind to consider making another berry pie for a while. It will probably be a couple more years before I reattempt a geometrically extravagant crust situation.
I strove for pie perfection. What I got was a pie perfect for throwing at the windshield of an ex-boyfriend’s car.
This smoothie is my rebound. Put ingredients in blender. Press “on.” Pour into glass. Drink.
Because it’s Valentine’s Day and we love red velvet, this smoothie emulates the classic cake flavors. It has a touch of cocoa, plenty of vanilla, and tanginess from greek yogurt as opposed to buttermilk, the traditional cake ingredient. No red dye here, it’s vibrant hue comes from a few strawberries and, you guessed it, beets!
Did you know the very first red velvet cakes were made with beets? The recipe was born in the early 20th century when food ingredients were scarce during the war. Did you also know that red velvet cakes made with beets look and taste horrendous?
At least anything I’ve ever attempted has. And I love beets. I eat them in some form or another every single day. Really. This smoothie does not taste like beets though, I promise. You’ll use just enough to give the drink its pretty color, and some added vitamins!
This smoothie is a treat when you need a little break from all the chocolate and pasta and wine. It’s also a great breakfast for when you know the day ahead is going to be full of chocolate and pasta and wine.
And because I will not be made fool of by a pie and you shouldn’t either, go ahead and use that miniature heart-shaped cookie cutter to make an adorable garnish of your extra beets and strawberries. Then drink your Red Velvet Smoothie as you tell them the stains on your hands are just from the beets.
Red Velvet Smoothie
Yields 1 large or 2 smaller smoothies
A vibrant and healthy anytime smoothie inspired by the signature cake flavor.
- 1 (5.3oz) container vanilla greek yogurt (a heaping 1/2 cup)
- 1 large banana, frozen
- 3oz. strawberries, frozen (about 2/3 cup)
- 2oz. fresh, steamed beets, chopped and frozen* (a scant 1/2 cup)
- 2 Tbs. (10g) cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Dash of salt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk, plain or vanilla*
Place the yogurt, banana, strawberries, beets, cocoa, and vanilla in a high powered blender and process until smooth. Add a dash of salt and a 1/4 cup of milk. Blend for a few seconds longer. Add a bit more milk if you’d like a thinner smoothie.
Pour into glasses and enjoy!
*I buy pre-steamed beets in a vacuum sealed package from the produce section of the grocery store. They can usually be found next to the baby carrots and other pre-chopped veggies. Trader Joe’s offers the best deal at $1.99 a package. I then cut them into chunks, transfer to a Ziploc bag, and freeze them before using in smoothies. If you would rather peel and steam beets yourself, and leave your hands looking like you just killed a man in the process, the more power to you. I have not tried raw beets in this recipe, nor do I recommend it.
*Any milk would fine, really. Soy, rice, or dairy.