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Celebrate Going Back-to-School with Literary-Inspired Dishes


Class is in session! 

By now, students have received their semester reading lists. Make reading fun and spend some time together in the kitchen this season. In celebration of the beginning of this school year, here are some literary-inspired dishes to go with some classic and new novels we all know and love.

Fuel Up for “Back to School” with Literary-Inspired Recipes:


literary-inspired recipes Recipe via The Country Contessa

Peter Rabbit’s Blackberry Bush Pie

“Oh, I know a really good blackberry bush for dessert. If I can just show you…”
-Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter



2                             Rolled pie crusts (this is one box of refrigerated pie crusts if you buy them at                                 the store. If making from scratch, use a "double crust" recipe)
6 cups                 Fresh blackberries
1 cup                    Granulated sugar (if your berries are very sour, add an extra 1/2 C of sugar)
1/4 cup               All-purpose flour
1/4 tsp.               Salt
1/2                        Fresh lemon, juiced
2 tbsp.                 Cold butter
1 tbsp.                 Egg, beaten and mixed with 1 tbsp. water


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place a pie crust in the bottom of a standard pie pan. In a bowl, mix the berries, sugar, flour, salt and lemon juice and place in crust. Roll out the second crust and cut strips to make a lattice top, weaving the strips together.With a pastry brush or the back of a spoon, brush a light coating of the egg wash over your crust. Cut away any long strips of pie crust and crimp the edges or press around the edge with a fork to seal the crusts together.Dot with butter and sprinkle with one tbsp.. of granulated sugar before baking. Bake 50-55 minutes until golden and bubbly. If your crust starts to get too brown, cover it with aluminum foil while in the oven.


literary-inspired recipes Recipe via Taste of Home

Pride and Prejudice: Nicholls’ White Soup

*This comforting dish is a hearty white chicken chili recipe inspired by Jane Austen’s classic romance novel

“If you mean Darcy,” cried her brother, “he may go to bed, if he chooses, before it begins—but as for the ball, it is quite a settled thing; and as soon as Nicholls has made white soup enough I shall send round my cards.”
-Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen



1 lb                            Boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped
1                                 Medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp.                     Olive oil
2                                 Garlic cloves, minced
2 (14 oz) cans     Chicken broth
1 (4 oz) can          Chopped green chilies
2 tsp.                        Ground cumin
2 tsp.                        Dried oregano
1-1/2 tsp.               Cayenne pepper
3 (14.5 oz) cans  Great northern beans, drained, divided
1 cup                         Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1                                  Sliced jalapeno pepper (optional)


In a Dutch oven over medium heat, cook chicken and onion in oil until lightly browned. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the broth, chilies, cumin, oregano and cayenne; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low.

With a potato masher, mash one can of beans until smooth. Add to saucepan. Add remaining beans to saucepan. Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and onion is tender.Top each serving with cheese and, if desired, jalapeno pepper.


literary-inspired recipes Recipe via In Literature

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish: Dr. Seuss’s Edible Pink Ink

*This is something fun for the little ones, and a healthy alternative to soda. This ink crafted from concentrated cranberry juice can also be diluted for a refreshing bubbly beverage!

He likes to wink and drink pink ink.
SO… if you have a lot of ink, then you should get a Yink, I think.
-One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss


4 cups                  Cranberry juice
1                              Fresh lime
8 oz                        Soda water
Small ink bottles or glass jars of your choice


In a saucepan over low heat, bring juice to a simmer with the lid off. Continue simmering until the juice has reduced to ½ cup. Let cool before pouring into a glass jar or bottle. Use brand new paint brushes or calligraphy pens for artistic creations.

To serve as a drink, you'll want the color to look more like what the Yink drinks. Pour the cranberry concentrate into a drink glass and top with 4 cups soda water. For extra flavor, add a squeeze of lime juice.


literary-inspired recipes Recipe via Karen Really Likes Food

The Hunger Games Catching Fire: Katniss’ Roast Duck and Potatoes

“At night, my mother would pretend not to recognize me because I was so clean. Then, she’d cook up an amazing dinner of roasted duck with Katniss tubers and gravy.”
-The Hunger Games: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins


1                             Whole duck
4                             Potatoes, large

For Gravy:

2 cups                 Chicken or duck stock
2 tbsp.                 Plain flour
1 tbsp.                  Salt
1 tbsp.                  Pepper


Preheat to 350 degrees. Get a baking pan, insert a rack into the pan and place your bird on the rack, breast side down. Season with salt and pepper.

The bird goes on a rack so that all the yummy duck fat pools underneath the bird. This makes it easier to use the duck fat for the potatoes and allows the base of the bird to crisp up. Put the duck in the oven. It will take about 1 1/2 hours to cook if it is around 4-5 pounds. It will be obvious when it is ready, as it will have beautiful golden skin.

As soon as the duck goes in, chop the potatoes into large chunks and partially boil in salted water on  high heat for about 10 minutes until potatoes begin to fluff up and fall apart. This gives you lots of nice edges for crisping in the oven.

Drain the potatoes and put them in the oven in the same pan as the duck (under the rack). This allows the fat from the duck to drip onto the potatoes, which is where this dish gets most of its flavor. Once everything is cooked, remove the duck from the oven and let it rest for a bit under foil while you prepare the gravy.

(Place the potatoes in a new dish and let them sit in the warm oven so they don’t get cold)

Remove the rack from the pan and drain the fat, all except for a couple of tablespoons. Sprinkle the 2 tbsp. of plain flour over the bottom of the baking pan. It will absorb the oil. Put the baking pan on medium heat on your stove top and use an egg flip to fold in the flour. Let this simmer a bit as it will taste better.

Once you have a brown flour base, add the 2 cups of chicken stock and increase the heat to high. This should bubble furiously and thicken. Cook the gravy down a bit as this gives you a richer, more intense gravy. Slice your duck and serve with the super crispy potatoes (a substitute for Katniss tubers) and a drizzle of gravy. This literary-inspired recipe would do the Everdeen’s proud!


literary-inspired recipes Recipe via In Literature

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Harry’s Shepherd’s Pie

“Harry didn’t enjoy his shepherd’s pie as much as he’d thought.”
-Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling




2 lbs.                     Mashed potatoes
1 lb.                        Ground beef or lamb
1/2                         Sweet onion, diced
1                              Garlic clove, minced
1                              Carrot, diced
2 cups                  Beef stock
1-2 tbsp.             Leaves from fresh rosemary sprigs
1/4 cup               Worcestershire sauce
Extra Virgin Olive Oil


In a frying pan or large saucepan, pour in a bit of olive oil, then sauté the onion and garlic until the onion is semi-transparent. Add the ground beef or lamb, and stir until completely browned.

Then incorporate the rosemary leaves, beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, and carrots, and let simmer for 20 minutes.

In a casserole dish, spread a layer of mashed potato on the bottom. Pour in the meat mixture, then thickly layer the rest of the mashed potato on top. Place dabs of butter on top, and place in the oven for 30-45 minutes. Remove and serve immediately.