Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pecan Topped Pumpkin Pie

This pumpkin pie is a bit different than the usual "Libby's" pumpkin pie. For one it uses sweetened condensed milk instead of evaporated milk. It also has a pecan struesel type topping that is put on during the baking. This pie is best eaten after it has chilled, and is good with or without whipped cream. The pie crust recipe makes enough for 4 single crust pies. You can freeze the remaining dough, just let it defrost in the fridge the day before you plan to use it.

Pie Dough
6 C flour
1 1/2 T sugar
1 T salt
1 C cold shortening
1 C cold butter
1 egg, beaten
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 C ice cold water

Combine flour, sugar and salt. Cut in shortening and butter with two knives or a pastry blender, until it has pea sized crumbs. In a separate bowl, mix the egg, vinegar and water. Pour into flour mixture and toss with a fork until it comes together. Don't overwork the dough or you will wind up with a tough crust. Divide evenly into 4 disks and wrap with saran wrap. Chill dough before rolling out.

Kitchen Tips: If you have time, chill your pie dough after you've fluted the edges before you fill it (or if it's for a pre baked pie, before baking the crust.) This will keep your fluted edges from losing shape in the oven.

Kitchen Tips: Don't tell me you throw out your dough scraps after you trim your edges! Reroll onto parchment paper or silpat liner (for ease of transferring), butter top side (don't be shy) and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (here's not the time to be conservative!) Place onto a jelly roll pan (liner and all) and bake at 350* for 20-30 minutes until golden on the bottom. Just TRY to wait until it is cool to eat it ;-)

Pecan Topped Pumpkin Pie
4 C canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
1 T cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp salt
2 eggs, beaten
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
Mix spices with pumpkin. Stir in eggs and sweetened condensed milk. Pour into 2 prepared pie crust. Bake at 425* for 15 minutes. Spoon topping on pies, REDUCE HEAT to 350* and bake an additional 40 minutes or until knife inserted near middle comes out clean. Chill and serve plain or with whipped cream


1/4 C flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 C brown sugar
1/4 C butter
1 C (110 g) pecans, chopped
Combine flour cinnamon and brown sugar. Cut in the butter until crumbly. Stir in pecans

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Boursin Cheese spread

Have you ever eaten Boursin Cheese spread? It is garlicky and yummy and WAY too expensive! This recipe tastes just like it and is quick (not counting softening the cheese and butter) and easy. These crackers are a recent find at Costco. They come in big sheets and they have a bright rosemary flavor to them. This spread would be good on any cracker though, and it is a fabulous topping for baked potatoes too! Fresh herbs can be used instead of dried, just increase each by using 3 T of oregano and 1 T of the others
Boursin Cheese Spread

2 (8 oz packages) cream cheese, softened
1/2 C butter, softened
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp dill
1/4 tsp chives
1/4 tsp parsley
Beat cream cheese and butter together until well blended. Add remainin ingredients and mix well, scraping bowl as needed. Chill for a couple of hours before serving.

Strawberry Salad Dressing

This salad dressing is easy, tasty and healthy! Agave nectar is a sweetener made from agave plants (same plants that tequila is made from). It doesn't effect blood sugar like regular sugars do because it has a lower glycemic index. It has more calories than sugar cup for cup, but since it is sweeter than sugar, you use less. This salad dressing stays good in the fridge for several weeks. My kids who are die hard Ranch Dressing fans LOVE this dressing.

Strawberry Salad Dressing

1/3 C agave nectar
1/3 C rice vinegar
10 strawberries

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hummingbird Cake

My sweet Elizabeth turned 8 yesterday! She is turning into a mini me! She loves to help out in the kitchen. I wasn't going to ask her to help dry the dishes for me since it was her birthday, but when she saw me washing, she asked if she could help dry. I know it won't last too long... so I will enjoy it while it lasts! She didn't have a preference for what kind of cake for me to make. I wanted to try something new. I've read about Hummingbird Cakes and it intrigued me. It is a dense cake without being too heavy. I decided to use fresh ground soft white wheat in it and it worked! I wouldn't want to use whole wheat in delicate cakes, but with this cake having bananas, pecans and pineapple in it, I figured it would hold up well. I must say, it was a hit! There is only one piece left... I hear it calling my name, but I think I will wait until the littles come home from school and share with them! Toasting the pecans brings out their nutty flavor and gives them a crisper texture. I toasted them at 350* for about 7 minutes, shaking the pan every couple of minutes. Careful, they can go from toasted to burnt real quick. I got the Stable Whipped Cream frosting from Coleens recipes It was very light and piped beautifully, with a hint of the cream cheese. This will be my go to recipe any time a cream cheese frosting is needed.

Cool Kitchen Gadgets: This is my food chopper. It makes quick (and clean) work out of chopping up nuts) No more nuts flying all over the kitchen while chopping with a knife! I use a paper plate underneath, chop a handful at a time and then toss the nuts into the dry ingredients! The chopper is useful for chopping fruits and veggies as well. The kids enjoy slapping the top of the plunger to chop.

Cool Kitchen Gadgets: Here is my kitchen scale. I use this mostly for baking, but it did come in quite handy for weighing food for dieting. I love the gram feature of it... but do wish it weighed in 1 gram increments instead of 2. The Tare feature is something that is necessary (IMHO) for a kitchen scale. I can weigh one ingredient, hit Tare, and then add a second ingredient, etc. 1 C of flour weighs 4 3/4 oz. (134 grams) Fresh ground flour will not measure the same as store bought flour since it has so much air incorporated into it during the grinding process. I weigh my grains before grinding. I also use the scale to evenly divide cake batter in the pans. Kitchen tips: I like to use parchment paper to line my cake pans. No worries about the bottom sticking. Then when you turn the cakes out of the pans, you just peel the liner off. I grease the pans before putting the liner in. This helps hold the liner in place. Then I grease the liner as well. You can find 9" parchment rounds at specialty baking supply stores or you can take a piece of parchment paper, fold it in half 4 times and trim it to fit. This may take more than one trim to get it right. Just unfold it and lay it in the pan. Then you can use the first one as a guide for the second one.

Hummingbird Cake

3 C (402 g) whole wheat pastry flour (AP could be used, but you can't tell this has whole wheat)
2 3/4 C (400 g) sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1C (110 g) pecans, toasted and chopped
2 C mashed bananas
1 C crushed pineapple (with juice)
3 eggs beaten
3/4 C vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and pecans. In a separate bowl combine the remaining ingredients. Combine the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients stirring just until combined. Pour into two greased and floured (or greased and lined with parchment paper) 9" cake pans. Bake at 350* for 25-30 minutes. Leave in pans for 10 minutes and then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely. Frost with Stable Whipped Cream.

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
2 cups heavy whipping cream
Combine the cream cheese, sugar and extracts in a large mixing bowl until very smooth (scrape the sides of the bowl often). While the mixer is still running, slowly pour in the heavy cream. Continue beating on high speed until very stiff peaks form.

Ice Cream cupcakes

This was an afterthought for the birthday party. I knew that some of my family would be coming to celebrate a bit before Nathan's family. I didn't want to cut into the cake until after everyone got to see it (I know "what a show off" ;-) So I took a cake mix (gasp!) and portioned it out into the ice cream cones. I stood the cones in a muffin pan... they didn't have any problem staying upright even though the muffin holes are much bigger. I DID overfill them though. ONLY fill them 1/2 -2/3 full or else you will get the batter running over the edge. They baked at 350* for 20-25 minutes. I used the same frosting as the cake and just piped it on. These were cute, but the cake did soften the ice cream cones which detracted from the texture.