Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fourth of July Salad

My husband used to work for a deli so I kept trying to come up with fun salad ideas. I like the challenge and we would bounce ideas off of each other. For the 4th of July, a fun salad can add color to your BBQ. The idea is to mix red, white and blue food in whipped cream.

Red Foods:
dried cranberries

White foods:
peeled apple or green apples with peel
mini marshmallows

Blue foods:
(we were stuck there but you can use a dried blueberry or maybe even blackberries)

I like salads that aren't all that exact because I can play with them. Feel free to suggest more items that can go in this salad. We don't use Jello, even though you could because we try to avoid artifical flavors and colors.
A jello "cake" of blue and red would be fun sandwiched/frosted with whipped cream. That would be a stunning slice of red, white and blue.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Homemade Magic Shell for Ice Cream

With my son on the Feingold diet finding ice cream toppings has become difficult. My son loves Magic Shell topping and the concoction I created for his ice cream turned out to be a great substitute.

Chocolate Chips (we used Safeway organic)
Whipping Cream

It doesn't matter how much you use but I think I started with about 1 cup of chocolate chips. Melt in the microwave in 30 second increments until melted (took me 2 times). Stir well and drizzle in whipping cream until it's a smooth consistency. May have to re-microwave if it starts to solidify. Spoon over ice cream while still warm (microwave if it gets too hard). Be careful not to over- microwave. The chocolate will harden on contact with the cold ice cream but remain soft enough to break with spoon.

Monday, June 27, 2011


I wanted to apologize for neglecting this blog and my wonderful readers. It's been a crazy month (and if you want details feel free to catch up with my other blog.
We've had a lot of family craziness and two moves (not ours). Things are finally settling down and I promise I will start posting recipes this week. I need to make time for pies since I was going to do lots of pies and I have decided to try my hand at ice cream. I keep reading all these ice cream blog posts and I figure I need to try some. We had an ice cream maker ages ago but not anymore. I'm borrowing one from my mom and if it works out we'll buy our own.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Wheat and Flour Varieties

There are so many flour varieties that it can make one's head explode trying to figure them out. With this post I am only looking at Wheat flours. I have been trying to come up with a way to add more whole grains to our diet but whole wheat flour can be really dense and can change a recipe greatly. All purpose flour lacks the nutrients of whole wheat but is so much easier to use. Then you add things like cake flour and bread flour and I just want to curl up and cry.
So for your sake but mostly mine, I thought it was time to figure it all out. I did a google search with the hope of finding a perfect explanation but it didn't happen. I am using King Arthur Flour's site for some information and may have to google each flour as I go for more information.
Growing up in wheat country I have learned there are 4 basic types of wheat in American flours - Hard Red Spring Wheat, Hard Red Winter Wheat, Hard White Wheat and Soft White Wheat. I don't quite understand what the difference is between the two hard red wheats but they seem to have different properties. There are more varieties of wheat than just these 4 but they are the ones that seem to be used for most wheat flours.
All Purpose Flour is made from hard red winter wheat. The outside parts of the wheat are stripped leaving only the endosperm when ground. This makes the flour easy to use but not overly nutritious. There are two types of AP flour - bleached and unbleached. I can't explain the bleaching process but when possible I choose unbleached because it's just one less process the wheat goes through before becoming flour.
Bread Flour is made from hard red spring wheat. It has a higher protein content than AP flour making it produce more gluten which in turn produces a better bread. The gluten makes dough rise more and produces a chewier product (in a good way). You can "make" your own bread flour by adding gluten flour to AP flour but I don't have a ratio for you.
Cake Flour is produced from the endosperm of soft white wheat. This makes the flour very low in protein/gluten giving cakes a softer lighter texture. It's also ground finer than AP flour.
Pastry Flour is like cake flour but not as finely ground.
Whole Wheat Flour is ground hard red wheat that has all three layers in place. It can be used for any recipe but does require extra liquid.
Whole White Wheat Flour is made from hard white wheat that is ground whole. I have found that it works just like AP flour but has a higher nutritional value and more fiber.
Graham Flour is whole wheat flour that is more coarsely ground and is used in making graham crackers as well as other baked goods.
Self-Rising Flour is AP flour that has had a leavening added such as baking powder. It's in between AP flour and a biscuit mix and allows the baker to cut out the leavening.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Banana Cream Pie

I took the banana pudding recipe from Country Recipes by Martha Storey (same as the piecrust) and adapted it slightly to turn it into banana cream pie. Something I didn't know about banana pudding is that the pudding is not banana flavored but that bananas are layered in the pudding. I layered bananas in my cream pie and found it had wonderful banana flavor (too weird).

Banana Cream Pie
1 piecrust, baked at 350 until golden brown
2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons AP flour
2 eggs
1/2 teas vanilla extract
2-3 very ripe but still firm bananas
Whipping cream
additional sugar
In medium saucepan, heat milk until nearly boiling but do not let boil. In a bowl (I used my 4 cup measuring cup that I measured the milk with), mix together sugar, flour, eggs and vanilla. Add to milk. On medium heat, stirring constantly, cook pudding until thickened. Slice bananas and layer in piecrust. Pour over pudding and let chill. Meanwhile, whip cream and add sugar to taste (I think it's about 1/4 cup sugar to 1 cup cream but I didn't measure).
If you just want pudding then line a casserole dish with Nilla wafers in place of the crust.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bulk Piecrust

I've slightly adapted this recipe from Country Cooking cookbook. I love this cookbook and should have written down more information about the cookbook when I brought my notes in to work on the blog. I do know that it was published from Storey publishing (one of my favorite publishers - all things country living).

5 cups flour (I mixed all purpose unbleached and whole white wheat)
2 cups cold butter
1 egg
3/4-1 cup ice water (I stuck mine in a bottle in the freezer while prepping the rest)
Cut butter into flour. I followed the recipe and used my stand mixer. This didn't work as well with the butter as it would have with shortening. The butter is rather stiff so it would have gone better and faster to just use a pastry cutter. Mix egg with water to make one cup of liquid. Slowly add to flour to make a stiff dough. Pat dough into a ball and set in the refrigerator, covered. Let chill atleast 20-30 minutes. Pull off a ball of dough about the size of a baseball and roll into a pie crust.

Tomorrow I will share the filling for the banana cream pie.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Coconut Rum Pie

It was a crazy four days. I helped my aunt move for two of them and was so tired and had so many errands after that my remaining two days didn't give me much time for pie experiments. However, I managed to make 2 really good pies. The first was a banana cream pie that I mashed together using two different recipes and the second was this coconut rum pie. I have to get the banana cream pie recipe sorted out to share.
This coconut rum pie is based on the recipe of my Irish Whiskey Pie which is a family favorite. Irish Whiskey pie is full of quick ingredients like Cool-whip and a pre-made crust. I wanted something that was all natural from start to finish. It also turned out to be gluten free - which works for so many people. It's not dairy free so be aware.
The coconut I used in the crust is a finely shredded organic unsweetened coconut. If you use a less fine shred, you may need more than what I used.

Coconut Rum Pie
2 oz chocolate chips
4 oz butter
1 1/2 cup finely shredded coconut
Melt chocolate and butter in a glass dish in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and return to the microwave for another 30 seconds if not melted. Stir until smooth. Slowly add the coconut, stirring after every 1/2 cup. Add more if necessary to make a thick paste. Press into the bottom of pie pan to make a bottom crust. Set in refrigerator to harden while making the filling.
1 package unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup dark rum
2 eggs, separated
2/3 cup whole milk
1-2 cups sweetened whipped cream (I had some left over from the banana cream pie so I can't say how much liquid whipping cream it takes or how much sugar I used)
Combine gelatin and 1 tablespoon sugar in a small to medium sauce pan. Add milk, egg yolks and rum. Stir and set on medium-high heat. Stir constantly and let heat until thickened. Set in refrigerator until completely thick (jello/pudding consistency). Beat egg whites until they reach soft peaks, add remaining tablespoon of sugar and beat to stiff peaks. Beat thick filling in pan until somewhat smooth (I have never gotten it really smooth and no one seemed to mind a lumpy pie). Fold in egg whites and whipped cream. Gently fill crust and chill until completely firm. Let sit out for up to 2 hours to soften enough to cut (okay I don't think our pies have ever sat out that long and I cut into them just fine, you can speed this up by using the freezer to set the filling before adding egg whites and whipped cream and then after to set up for serving because I never start making this pie early enough).

Always use fresh eggs for this pie. The alcohol in the rum helps kill germs in the egg whites. I have heard you can use pasturized eggs but I have never tried them. No one I know of has gotten sick from the whiskey pie and I wouldn't guess that they would from this version.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Cobbler vs Crisp

I don't make fruit pies because I am not very good with crusts but I make a lot of crisps. I often confuse crisp and cobbler because they are similar but they are not the same.
They both start out the same - a fruit concoction with a topping but it's the toppings that make them different.
Crisps have an oatmeal based topping while cobblers are more biscuit or bread based. In fact I have seen cobbler recipes use canned biscuits.
To make a crisp (which to me it the easiest of the two) - I take the fruit of my choice. If it's fresh/frozen fruit then I layer it in the bottom of a greased casserole dish, sprinkle with white or brown sugar (based on the sweetness of the fruit) and top with a mixture of 1 stick butter, 1 cup brown sugar and about 2 cups oatmeal. I don't really measure but mix them together until I get a somewhat dry "batter" (similar in texture to cookie dough) which I plop on the fruit. Sometimes I flatten parts of the dough into pancakes and use them to top the fruit, just depends on my mood. If you use canned fruit then don't sprinkle with sugar and depending on the amount of syrup, you may want to slightly drain. You should have a decent amount of syrup but not soup.
I don't have a great cobbler recipe, yet but that what the experiment time is for. We start our pie experiments either Sunday or Monday so be on the lookout for lots of fun recipes coming this way.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Brown Sugar Pie

I love this pie because it is the easiest thing in the world to make and comes out looking like I spent time actually cooking. It, also, requires no extra dishes but the pie pan and whatever you use to serve/eat it.

Brown Sugar Pie
1 8" pie crust
1 cup brown sugar
3 tbs. flour
1 can evaporated milk
2 1/2 tbs. butter
Oven - 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients with fingers in pie shell. Spread out evenly. Slowly pour over milk - do not mix. Dot with butter, sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake 50 minutes.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Southern Peanut Butter Pie

This is a family favorite but I haven't had a chance to work on pie experiments so I don't have a crust recipe and I am not sure there isn't anything I would change with this recipe to make it more healthy. I know pie is not always meant to be healthy but it should have something about it that makes us feel like we're nurturing more than our junk food genes. There's something about pie that brings us back to a more simple time - fruit pies cooling on the window sill. This pie is not so bad since it's packed with protein powered peanut butter. Use an all natural peanut butter and it would almost come across as a health food (almost).

Southern Peanut Butter Pie
9" pastry shell
3 eggs
1 cup dark corn syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 teas vanilla
1 teas orange zest
1 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped.
Preheat oven to 400 - make sure shell has been refrigerated 1 hr. In bowl beat eggs until frothy. Add corn syrup, sugar, peanut butter, vanilla and zest. Beat until smooth. Stir in peanuts, the pour into shell. Bake for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and bake an additional 30 minutes. Cool thoroughly before cutting and serving.

note: I don't think I have ever added orange zest to this recipe and I can't tell you where I got it from.