Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pie Party Recipes: Key Lime Pie

Here's one of the recipes I made this past weekend at my Pie Party. I can't decide if I liked this key lime pie or the banana cream pie best. I think I need another slice of each in order to decide. I chose this pie to make because I craved it while I was pregnant with Hayden. I had several slices while pregnant with him and I never tired of it. For some reason though, I never made it, I just ordered it out at restaurants. And at $5 a slice, it's much cheaper to make your own!

This pie could not be simpler to make either. The filling is made up of 3 ingredients- sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks and lime juice. That's it! The combination is like magic. I think it's a great recipe to start out with if you're a beginner baker or just want to get into baking pies because it is so easy and fast. You can purchase your own premade crust or make one like I did. Of course, homemade tastes better, but do what you like. The end result will still be creamy, tangy and delicious.

Key Lime Pie from Nellie & Joe's

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  • (1) 9-inch graham cracker pie shell (recipe below)
  • 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup key lime juice

Combine milk, egg yolks and lime in juice in a medium bowl. Blend til smooth, then pour filling into prepared pie shell.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes.

Allow to stand at room temperature 10 minutes before refrigerating. Refrigerate until completely chilled. Just before serving, top with freshly whipped cream and garnish with lime slices.

Graham Cracker Crust from Keebler

  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted

Combine crumbs and sugar in medium sized bowl. Stir in the melted butter until thoroughly blended.

Pack mixture firmly into a 9-inch pie pan and press firmly to bottom and sides, bringing crumbs evenly up to the rim.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8 minutes, cool, fill and chill.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Foodbuzz 24x24: A Pie Party!

I was selected by Foodbuzz to participate in the January's 24x24. That means 24 bloggers (me included) were chosen to have dinner or a social gathering revolving around food. The chosen 24 will blog their meals or creations within the next 24 hours. This is documentation of my party- A Pie Party to be exact!

For the last few weeks I've wanted to have a pie party. I blabbered on about it at the turn of the new year to my family. They listened, nodded in agreement and probably thought I was nutso, but to me it sounded like great fun. Chicken pot pie for dinner and sweet, creamy, dreamy pies for dessert. What's not to like about that?! On Saturday, my dream of a pie party came true. Friends and family came to join us for pie. A few of the guests even came bearing their own pie creations. Then after stuffing our pie holes, we played board games, hung out and watched television.

For dinner I made 4 chicken pot pies and my mom put together a big green salad. My aunt and uncle brought a Spinach and Mushroom Quiche and my friend Maranda brought a Barbecue Pork Shepherd's Pie.

For dessert I made a Pumpkin Pie using homemade pumpkin puree, a Key Lime Pie, a Banana Cream Pie, A Chocolate Macaroon Pie and mini Cherry Cream Cheese Pies with two different crusts. My brother bought a Reese's Peanut Butter Pie and Maranda made an Apple Pie with a Cheddar Crust. All were delicious but my favorites were the banana cream and the key lime pies. They were also the first ones to go.

Autumn even got in on the fun. I made sweetened whipped cream to top a couple of the pies and threw the disposable piping bags in the trash when I was done. When I wasn't looking Autumn stuck her snoot in the garbage and started licking the cream off the bags! My mom caught her in the act so I snapped a few pictures of her. She looks quite pleased with herself :-)

So that wraps up my pie party. I hope I've inspired you to invite some friends over and have a pie party of your own. I've linked to a few of the recipes in this post and have shared my very easy recipe for chicken pot pie. Over the next few days I'll share the recipes for the other dessert pies. Enjoy!

Easy Chicken Pot Pie from Monica h

  • 1 pkg. (2 crusts) Pillsbury Roll Out Refrigerated Pie Crust
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
  • 1 bag frozen vegetables (I used peas, corn, carrots and green beans)

Roll out thawed crust into pie dish. Place half of your chicken in bottom of dish, top with half your veggies and 1 can cream soup. Layer remaining ingredients. Top with additional pie crust (you can do fancy lattice work or simply lay rolled out dough over pie) and crimp the edges to seal in filling. Be sure to make vent holes in your crust if you roll out your top crust. Brush with melted butter or egg wash (optional). Bake on cookie sheet in a preheated 425 degree oven for 60-75 mins.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Simplicity At It's Best

I did not intend to blog about this coffee cake. I was wanting to make Belgian waffles from my Williams-Sonoma Breakfast cookbook and noticed this recipe. The original version included dried cranberries and chocolate chips. In typical fashion, I wanted to use fresh cranberries and leave out the chocolate while Mr. H only wanted chocolate and no cranberries. We both compromised and left it plain, and I'm so glad we did. This coffee cake was perfectly delicious without any additions.

We may have left the coffee cake plain, but it was anything but. It's simple in that it doesn't call for any special ingredients to gussy it up- no nuts, no oats in the streusel, no brown sugar, not even vanilla extract (though I added that anyway, because old habits die hard). It does include sour cream, but other than that, it's just butter, sugar, flour, eggs and leaveners. One unique thing about this recipe is that it has you combine the sour cream with the baking soda prior to adding it to the batter, which makes it really light and airy. I've never seen or heard of that technique before, but it worked brilliantly.

The end result was a cake, so light and spongy, but buttery and rich at the same time. There's nothing dense or heavy about this breakfast cake and it'll keep you wanting more. I took a bite when it was still piping hot from the oven and couldn't stop picking at it. Before I knew it, I had eaten a quarter of the cake myself- it was just that good! Don't feel compelled to add anything to it, just try it as it is and enjoy it, in all it's simple glory. As I mentioned above, I didn't intend to blog about this recipe so there aren't any photos of the baking process, but it was just too good not to share. If you try it, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake adapted from Breakfast

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For The Streusel:

  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

For The Cake:

  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with butter.

For the Streusel Topping: In a chilled bowl, combine the butter, sugar and flour. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the butter into dry ingredients until the mixture is the consistency of fine, moist crumbs. Work the mixture with your hands until it will hold together when compressed, then squeeze it between your hands into several firm pieces. Cover and refrigerate until the cake is ready to go into the oven. (I did this the night before and had it ready to go the following morning).

For the Cake: Place the sour cream in a bowl and sift the baking soda and salt into it. Stir to blend evenly and set aside. As the sour cream mixture sits, it will get airy and fluffy.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed or a wooden spoon, beat together the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Sift the flour and baking powder over the top and mix in, then beat in the sour cream mixture. Scoop the batter into the prepared dish and smooth the surface. Scatter the streusel mixture evenly over the top, breaking it up into large crouton-sized pieces (some of the streusel mixture may be small crumbs).

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center on the cake comes out clean but not completely dry, 40-45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature, cut into squares.

And for those of you who are hooked on Hayden, here are a couple pics of my bright-eyed little man. For Christmas, he wore this penguin sweater, but we didn't get any pictures of him wearing it. So last week before I took the Christmas tree down, I got him dressed up and snapped a few pictures. I put him on the ottoman and slid it in front of the tree. That's his handprint in the background. I couldn't find a "baby's 1st Christmas" ornament that I liked so we just made one with stuff I had around the house- a glass ornament, glue and glitter.

This one is my absolute favorites and will find it's way into a frame, I'm sure. I might be a little biased but I think he's just so beautiful and perfect. Y'all, I'm in love!

Have a great rest of the week!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Favorite Recipes of 2011

I'm a little late getting to this list, but here are my favorite recipes of 2011. I tried to limit them to just 12 but had a hard time, so you get 14. Bonus! 2011 was a delicious year. I hope you enjoy.

14. Ultimate Shortbread Cookies

13. New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies


The winner of Cake Ladies cookbook is:

#61- Nicole from nuts4knitting said "My knitting buddy, Susan, fits the description of a cake lady, which is a new term for me, perfectly. If there is an occasion, a birthday, retirement, or a day which ends in "d a y", she bakes a cake. For Christmas, she cranked out sixteen chocolate cakes. She is the only person I know who can go to the dollar store, chat with the cashier as she is paying and come out with a new cake recipe. She baked it for us at knitting, an apple cake, which was amazing, She should sell her cakes, to help her make ends meet, but she says that would take out all the love she puts in her cakes. This book would be for her!"


And the winners of the Grimmway Farms coupons are:

#5- Heather of Kitchen Concoctions

#11- Carole Douglas

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cake Ladies Book Review and Giveaway (CLOSED)

I have another baking book up for review today! This time it's Cake Ladies by Jodi Rhoden. This book appealed to me immediately because I consider myself to be somewhat of a cake lady. "What is a cake lady?", you may be asking yourself. Everyone may have a different definition, but to me a cake lady is a woman who bakes cakes to make people happy. Sometimes they bake to make ends meet, sometimes it's a creative outlet, and sometimes it's to feel a part of a community. All the ladies in this book come from different backgrounds and have their own story, but they all believe in the healing powers of cake. They all love cake. I love cake. Do you?

Are there really healing powers in cake? In a way, I believe there is. A homebaked cake sitting on the counter makes an ordinary day better, they put smiles on faces. There's a reason they're always present at birthdays, weddings and showers. It's like a gift wrapped up in sweet buttercream and piped rosettes. Okay, enough about cake and more about the ladies who make them. This book shares the stories of 17 women- from bakery owners in Georgia to a midwife in North Carolina who bakes for the new babies she delivers to sisters in New Orleans baking vegan and sugar-free cupcakes for the community.

I read this book while soaking in a hot tub. I got so wrapped up in it that I had to rewarm the water an hour and a half later. The cakes that are shared in this book are all the prized recipes from these ladies. I chose to bake the peanut butter banana cupcakes, because I adore that combination. I really enjoy a PB and banana with honey sandwich and these cupcakes were very similar in flavor. The cupcake itself was dense and moist and the peanut butter cream cheese frosting was so light and fluffy. I also plan to make the chocolate cake on the cover- a request from Mr. H and a white layer cake slathered in lemon curd. That one is for me. Yum!

The only downside I saw in this book is that the author, Jodi Rhoden, who is a cake lady in her own right didn't share a recipe of her own. That would have been the perfect addition to this book. Otherwise it was a great read, informative and all the recipes are accompanied with full size color photos.

Peanut Butter & Banana Cupcakes from Cake Ladies

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For the Cupcakes:
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk

For the Icing:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup dried banana chips (for garnish)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees . Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners and set aside.

For the Cupcakes: Beat the eggs and sugars together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, stopping the mixer twice during mixing to scrape down the paddle, bottom and sides of the bowl. Add the oil in a slow, steady stream while beating on medium low speed. Add the vanilla and beat. Add the bananas and peanut butter, mix, scrape down the bowl and beat.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a separate bowl and set aside.

With the blender on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the creamed mixture in three parts, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Blend just until the ingredients are fully incorporated.

Add batter into each cupcake liner until two-thirds full. depending on the size of your cupcake pans, this recipe should make about 2 dozen cupcakes.

Bake cupcakes for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

For the Icing: Cream the butter, peanut butter and the cream cheese together in a bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment on low speed. Beat until the mixture is smooth and cream and no lumps remain. Add and combine the vanilla. Add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, blending on low speed until fully incorporated. Scrape down the paddle, sides, and the bottom of the bowl using a rubber spatula. Beat the mixture on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Icing the Cupcakes: When the cupcakes are completely cool, spread or pipe about 2 heaping tablespoons on the peanut butter icing on each cupcake, then garnish each one with a banana chip.

Cupcakes will keep several days covered in the refrigerator.

Want to win your very own copy of Cake Ladies?

Leave a comment on this post telling about a cake lady that you may know of, or simply tell me about your love of cake. It's that simple. One winner will be chose and the publishers will send a book out to that person. Giveaway valid in the USA only. Please leave contact info when leaving a comment.

The giveaway is closed, the winner is announced HERE.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Carrots For Breakfast? Yes!

Do you make resolutions for the new year? Did any of you resolve to eat healthier this year? If so, then I have a healthy and delicious breakfast recipe for you today. I don't usually make New Year's resolutions because they often get broken and I can't stand the guilt and shame I bring upon myself when I don't follow through with them. Instead I just try to do better everyday, though sometimes I slip. The one silent resolution I did make this year was to read more to Hayden- simple yet gratifying.

Anyway, back to this recipe. Carrot Cake Pancakes. Sounds and tastes completely indulgent but they're light in calories and cram packed full of goodies. I've made these pancakes before but I didn't like the way the photos turned out so I never blogged them. I decided to make them again (only better this go round) when Grimmway Farms offered me some of their carrots to make a recipe with. Grimmway Farms, also known as Cal-Organic and Bunny-Luv has some great California grown produce. We used to feed our bunny, August, Bunny-Luv carrots and he, of course, loved them :-)

These pancakes are delicious. They have all the basics that are in the actual cake, including shredded carrots, brown sugar, nuts and spices. But I decided to kick them up a bit by adding crushed pineapple, sweetened shredded coconut, and raisins. Of course most carrot cakes are topped with cream cheese frosting, but a single pat of butter and some golden maple syrup is all these really need. These pancakes are dense, hearty and satisfying but not heavy. If you're looking for a little something different to try this weekend, I hope you'll try these pancakes. They also freeze and reheat well so make a double batch to enjoy during the week.

Carrot Cake Pancakes adapted from Picky Cook

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  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 Tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups grated carrot
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 3 Tablespoons crushed pineapple
  • 3 Tablespoons shredded coconut
  • 3 Tablespoons raisins
  • 3 Tablespoons toasted chopped pecans
  • butter for pan

Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a large bowl with a whisk.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk brown sugar, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and eggs together.

Add sugar mixture to the flour mixture and gently combine with a large spatula. Do not overmix. Fold in the carrots, orange zest, pineapple, coconut, raisins and pecans.

Heat a cast iron skillet/griddle/other large skillet over medium heat. Coat the bottom with butter. Spoon (1/4 cup) batter into the skillet and gently spread the batter out a little bit. Cook for a couple minutes or until you see the top covered with bubbles. Flip over and cook another minute or two.

Keep pancakes warm in 190 degree oven until you are ready to serve. Serve with butter and maple syrup.

Makes about 12 four-inch pancakes.

Ooooh, come to momma!

If you'd like to give Grimmway Farms carrots a try, just tell me how you'd use them and you may be chosen to receive a coupon for free produce. Thank you Grimmway Farms!

The recipients of the Grimmway Farms coupons are revealed HERE.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Chocolate and Gingerbread- They Just Go Together

Happy New Year! I know we're already one week into the new year, but this is my first post in 2012 and it's a good one. Usually on New Year's Eve, we are at home, watching the ball drop, drinking sparkling apple cider and sharing a kiss or two...with family. Party animals we are not! We don't like crowds and we don't drink much so we opt to stay home- it's cheaper and safer that way. This year was a little different though. My mom suggested we have a small get together at our house and it sounded like a good idea since we spent Thanksgiving at my in-laws and aunt's houses and my mom's for Christmas dinner.

Hayden and Mr. H posing next to one of the Christmas decorations. He looks so darn cute in those overalls!

It was a simple gathering and everyone brought a dish or two including the traditional black eyed peas, 7-layer dip, pork tenderloin sliders, crudite and dip, chocolate fondue and this chocolate gingerbread. It was a feast and no one went hungry. Ever had chocolate gingerbread? Ever heard of it? I hadn't. A couple weeks ago I was craving gingerbread, which is a rarity, because I tend to not like the stuff. In fact, the only gingerbread I've ever really liked is the one from Souper Salads and it comes from a mix (sad but true). I even went as far as buying ground ginger and molasses then the neighbor came over with a loaf as a Christmas gift so I didn't make any. It was good but I kept thinking it was missing something. That something was chocolate! I consulted Mr. Google and came across a few good looking cakes and they all pointed back to this recipe from Martha.

Autumn, Mr. H and Hayden- Hayden is wearing his daddy's Christmas outfit from 31 years ago. It was a little long, but it fit!

It is a simple recipe and it came together rather quickly. It baked up while Hayden and I showered together and when we got out, the house smelled divine. It doesn't look like much, mostly because it's brown on brown, but it was delicious. The cocoa adds a nice dimension to it, almost like a spiced chocolate cake but not as rich and decadent, afterall it's still bread. It's moist and tender, spicy and warm from the molasses, cinnamon, ginger and pumpkin pie spice and the chocolate chips add a bit of sweetness. I will definitely make this again. And if you like gingerbread and want something different, give this one a try. Heck, if you don't like gingerbread, try adding chocolate and see what happens. You might just change your mind.

Chocolate Gingerbread adapted from Martha Stewart

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  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish or spray with non-stick spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together cocoa, flour, ginger, pumpkin-pie spice, cinnamon and baking soda and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together butter, brown sugar, molasses, egg, and sour cream until smooth. Add flour mixture and stir just until moistened, being careful not to overmix. Stir in chocolate chips. Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth top.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Once cooled, cut into 16 squares and serve from directly from dish.


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