Sunday, August 23, 2009

My Most Favorite Pie in the Whole Wide World

I grew up eating and loving this pie. We always called it Lemon Meringue Pie. I was shocked in my teens to learn that most of the public think Lemon Meringue Pie has a transluscent filling, consisting of eggs, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Yuck. Nope, OUR Lemon Meringue Pie has a filling similar to the filling in a key lime pie. It's made with sweetened condensed milk, and if I didn't have a crust, I could eat the filling out of a bowl with a spoon.

I experimented with the crust this time. Normally I would make a graham cracker crust. This time, I added 1/3 cup of finely ground almonds to the ground graham crackers. Yum! We both thought it was a great addition.

Lemon Meringe Pie

1 pkg. (about 9) graham crackers
1/3 cup finely ground almonds
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 Tablespoon grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract
3 egg yolks

3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350˚. Put graham crackers in a gallon-sized ziploc bag. Use a rolling pin to smash into fine crumbs. Add almonds, and sugar, and then pour into a small bowl. Add melted butter. Pour mixture into a 9" pie plate (or use a 9-10" springform pan). Bake 6 minutes. Cool 15-20 minutes. Combine filling ingredients in a medium bowl and then pour into pie crust. To make the meringue: in a small mixing bowl mix egg yolks and cream of tartar on high speed. When mixture is frothy, slowly add sugar, mixing until stiff peaks form. You want the sugar dissolved into the egg whites - to test this, rub a small amount between your fingers. You should not feel any sugar grains. Spread meringue on top of filling and bake at 325˚ until lightly brown, 15-20 minutes. Cool at room temperature for 1 hour, then chill until thoroughly cold

Quick-fix from frozen berries: Mixed Berry Pie

I keep a bag of frozen mixed berries from Costco in my freezer - and pull some out for quick and easy desserts. We've had them over ice cream, with shortcake and whipped cream, in cobblers, cakes, and muffins, and in pies. Last week I made a pie. It's a simple fix: Preheat oven to 425˚. Take 5-6 cups of frozen mixed berries and put in a large bowl so they start to thaw. Toss them with about 1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar or Splenda, 2 Tablespoons of melted butter, and 2 Tablespoons of tapioca (the tapioca helps thicken the filling). When they're partially thawed (or even totally thawed), pour into an unbaked pie shell and top with another crust. Use a shield or foil to protect the edge of the crust from burning. Bake for 10 minutes at 425˚, then lower the temperature to 350˚ and bake another 40 - 45 minutes.

More Take-Alongs: Breakfast in a Muffin

Remember my Grab 'n Go Pumpkin Waffles and Take-Along Breakfast Pockets? Here's another great take-along breakfast. I've done some tinkering with a recipe I found on recipezaar (I think) and added fiber, lowered the sugar, and raised the protein. These were great warm, and are also fine eaten cold while I drive to work.

Breakfast in a Muffin
makes 22-24

6 eggs
¼ cup applesauce
1 cup flour
⅓ cup rolled oats
½ cup sugar
½ cup Splenda
1 Tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 Tablespoons bacon bits

Preheat oven to 350˚. Evenly coat 12 (3-inch) muffin cups with cooking spray. In a large bowl, beat together eggs and applesauce until well blended. Add flour, rolled oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and pepper. Beat until well combined. Stir in cheese, parsley, and bacon bits. Divide batter evenly among the 12 cups.
Bake until lightly browned, and toothpick comes out clean when inserted, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Sunday Visitor

Don and I were watching the end of the golf tournament, and were startled by the crashing and ringing of our wind chimes that hang right outside the kitchen window. I said, "Must be a squirrel hanging on my chimes." They kept swinging and crashing, so Don got up to look. As soon as he got to the window, he saw the bear paw come down from the roof and swipe at the chimes again. He said, "Nope, it's a bear." I didn't believe him, and got up to look just as the bear jumped from the roof to the tree next to the house. As it clambered down the tree, we heard our neighbors yelling at us to come outside and look. They'd followed it down the street as it must have smelled the brownies I was baking. Since there were 5 of us outside at the front of the house, the bear tried to jump over the back fence - and as soon as he was on the other side, a dog chased him back over into our yard. Here he is slowly making his way towards me.

As he got closer, and saw several people in his way (yeah, we should have left him alone), he climbed up the big tree to the roof again and wandered around on our roof for a while.

Don went inside and closed the windows, fearing that the bear wanted the brownies I'd just pulled from the oven. After about 5 minutes of wandering around on the roof, the bear climbed down our chimney to the deck, then jumped off the deck and ran down the street.

Just yesterday, the Forest Service re-opened the picnic area and trailhead that are about a half mile from our house - they'd been closed since the 7th of July because people were feeding a bear there (probably this one). Don blames today's visit on Melanie's brownies.

And here they are - full of sugar and fat and evil gooey-ness. We are going to do our best to eat these sssslllloooowwwwwllllyyyy.

Deep Dark Chocolate Brownies
from Melanie of My Kitchen Cafe

2 sticks (8 oz) butter
8 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5 large eggs
⅓ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt
⅔ cup all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13×9 inch metal pan with foil and spray foil with cooking spray. Alternatively, you may use parchment. These are pretty sticky at first!

Melt butter and chocolate in a 3-qt heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring, until smooth. Add 1 cup of the sugar to the hot chocolate mixture. Remove from heat and let cool to lukewarm.

Whisk in remaining 1 cup sugar and vanilla. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time until mixture is glossy and smooth. Whisk in salt and cocoa powder, then add flour and stir until it disappears (do not overbeat).

Spread in pan and bake until a pick inserted in center comes out with crumbs, 25 to 35 minutes. Cool to room temperature then chill for an hour or more. Lift from pan, place on a cutting board, cut into squares.

Makes 1 13×9 inch pan (yield depends on how big you cut your brownies, but they are rich, so small is fine.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Recipe for Yucatan-Marinated Grilled Chicken

1 cup orange juice
2 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 clove garlic, chopped
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half, or 8 small boneless chicken thighs
Kosher salt to taste
8 leaves of butter lettuce

In a pan or bowl, whisk together orange and lime juices, chile powder and garlic. Add chicken and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours or overnight. Remove chicken from marinade. Grill or broil about 4 minutes per side, or until cooked completely.

Serving idea: Place each piece of chicken in the center of a lettuce leaf; top with a sprinkling of cilantro. Roll and eat.

Lemon-Blueberry Roll-ups

I have two inspiration sources for this recipe:
1) Sandra Lee has a new show, and while I'm not a rabid fan, I do like the concept of her show. She takes her "semi-homemade" touch and applies it to cooking inexpensively. I've watched two episodes, and in one of them, she made some apple "pies" using tortillas, peanut butter, and apple pie filling. (In my opinion, if I were to make them, which I probably will, I'll substitute some cream cheese for the peanut butter.)
2) I had some crepes at a food stand during the quilt show in Sisters, Oregon, last month, and they had this filling.

Here's the "recipe:"

1. Cook some flour tortillas (the kind you can get at Costco that are uncooked) until very lightly browned. I suppose you could use regular tortillas, and heat them slightly until they're pliable.
2. Spread each one with a couple tablespoons of canned lemon pie filling.
3. Top the pie filling with a small handful of fresh blueberries (thawed from frozen will do, too).
4. Roll up the tortilla, and top with some sweetened whipped cream. I use Sugar-Free Cool Whip.

Note: I bet these would be even better with some of the lemon curd you can get at Trader Joe's.

Two Rachael Ray Recipes: Chicken Salad PIccata and Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese

Every once in a while I get some time to peruse the recipes on My favorites usually come from people like Rachael Ray, since they're easy, they're made with ingredients I often have, and many times they're done in 30 minutes.

This one caught my eye because I love chicken piccata, and the idea of a one-dish meal sounded good. (I also think any kind of new potatoes are divine!). I had an Italian potato salad once at Matano's Little Italy (a deli in Yucaipa), and liked the fresh green beans that were in it.

When you make this, be prepared for the contrast between the warm chicken and the cold/cool potatoes and green beans. Once I was mentally prepared for that, it was wonderful. This will be a repeat in our house!

Chicken Salad Piccata
from Rachael Ray

1 ½ lbs. small red potatoes, quartered
½ lb. green beans, halved crosswise
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped capers
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Grated peel and juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper
1 large egg
¼ cup flour
Two 6-ounce skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, lightly pounded
¼ cup chicken broth

1. In a large saucepan, add the potatoes and enough salted water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and cook until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a colander. Add the green beans to the boiling water and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Drain in the colander with the potatoes; let cool slightly.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon capers, 3 tablespoons parsley, the lemon peel and half of the lemon juice. Add the potatoes and beans and toss; season with salt and pepper.
3. In a shallow bowl, beat the egg. In another shallow bowl, season the flour with salt and pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Coat the chicken breasts with the seasoned flour, then dip in the egg, allowing any excess to drip off, and coat with the flour again, shaking off the excess. Add to the skillet and cook, turning once, until golden, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into strips.
4. Add the chicken broth to the skillet; cook over medium heat, scraping up any browned bits. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon capers, 1 tablespoon parsley and lemon juice. Top the salad with the chicken and drizzle with the pan sauce.

The next dish was one we had twice this week - once on Tuesday, with some turkey burgers, and then again on Friday with some fish. It makes a LOT, so we still have some leftovers. I saw this in this month's Everyday magazine, and since we like jalapeño poppers, we thought this would be good. It was. I wish it were "gooey-er" though. Don't skimp on the peppers - they might look like a lot when you chop them up, but the cooking lessens the intensity of the capsicum, and I wish I'd added an extra jalapeño.

Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese
from Rachael Ray

Salt and pepper
1 lb. hollow, ridged corkscrew pasta, such as cavatappi
Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
3 jalapeño chiles, seeded and thinly sliced
2 serrano chiles, seeded and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 ½ cups whole milk
8 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons dried minced onion
2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and return to the pot. In a skillet, heat a drizzle of EVOO over medium heat. Add the jalapeños, serranos and garlic and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add to the pasta. Preheat the broiler. In a saucepan, combine the milk, cream cheese and onion over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring, until smooth, 5 minutes; stir into the pasta. Stir in the jack cheese; season with salt and pepper. Transfer the pasta to a baking dish and broil until browned, about 3 minutes.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Tinkering with Recipes: Applesauce Puffs

Sometimes we get tired of eggs or pancakes for breakfast, so this morning I was looking for some muffins. I found this recipe in my files, and decided to tinker with it a little to make it a little healthier.

Here's the original recipe:

Applesauce Puffs

2 c. Bisquick
½ c. sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ c. applesauce
¼ c. milk
1 egg

Mix dry ingredients together. Stir in applesauce, milk and egg. Drop into well greased muffin tins. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes. While still warm dip into melted butter and dip in a mixture of 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Makes 24 muffins.

Now, while I have Bisquick, I hardly ever use it. I prefer using Trader Joe's Multigrain Baking Mix - and I've learned you can use it for any recipe that calls for Bisquick.

Here are the changes I made:

1. Substituted Trader Joe's Multigrain Baking Mix for the Bisquick.
2. Used Cranberry-Raspberry Applesauce + Fiber instead of regular applesauce
3. Used Splenda Granular instead of sugar
4. Added 1/2 cup chopped pecans

So here's my revised recipe:

Applesauce Puffs

2 cups Trader Joe's Multigrain Baking Mix
½ c. Splenda Granular
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ c. Cranberry-Raspberry Applesauce+Fiber
1/2 c. milk
1 egg
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Mix dry ingredients together. Stir in applesauce, milk and egg. Drop into well greased muffin tins. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes. While still warm dip into melted butter and dip in a mixture of 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Makes 24 muffins.

Potato Bundles from Pioneer Woman

Don wanted steak last night; we hadn't had one in many months. So at the commissary, while I restocked my fridge, freezer and shelves after 6 weeks on the road, I picked up two ribeyes. Originally I'd planned on baking a large potato and sharing it, but I saw these potatoes on Pioneer Woman and had to try them. It won't be the last time - these are GOOD.

Go HERE for Bree's post, with pictures. Mine is much simpler, since I don't document every step with photos. She's a much better photographer. Plus, I forgot to take a picture of them after they were cooked.

Potato Bundles
from The Pioneer Woman

Russet potatoes, cut into chunks

Yellow or white onion, cut into chunks
Butter (regular, salted)
Heavy cream
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced parsley

Pile potatoes and onions on a square of foil. Add 2 tablespoons butter, splash on some cream, then sprinkle on salt, paprika, and black pepper. Wrap bundles tightly and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, or until extremely tender.

Imagine a photo of some yummy potatoes here!

Roasted Chickpeas

Don't these look good? My first try. I made some Four Bean Salad, but the can of garbanzos/chickpeas was one of those double-sized ones. I used half of them for the salad, and made a good snack for Don and me with the rest.

Roasted Chickpeas

1 15-oz can. chickpeas/garbanzo beans
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 425˚. Line a baking sheet with foil (otherwise, the chickpeas leave marks on your baking sheet). Rinse and drain the chickpeas, and dry on paper towels. In a bowl, toss the chickpeas with the olive oil and spread in a single layer on the baking sheet. Sprinkle evenly with cayenne and garlic powder. Don't salt them yet. Roast approximately 30 minutes - keep an eye on them, and when they're all brown, test one for crunchiness. You want them all crunchy, because when they cool, the ones that were still a little chewy become rubbery. When they're all brown and crunchy, cool on paper towels.