Friday, August 31, 2012

Cucumber Salad

After all those delicious pies I figured I'd better make something a little healthier.
Our dad came up with this recipe years ago and we have it all the time in the summer when the cucumbers are plentiful in the garden.
He said Sue and I could share the recipe with the rest of the world as long as we give him props.
So.... for the record.....our dad is a super genius and came up with this amazing, supercalifragilisticexpiali-delicious recipe.

Cucumber Salad

1 large cucumber
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1 Tbsp light sour cream
1 tsp finely chopped onion
1 tsp fresh dill, chopped
1 tsp vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar


Peel your cucumber - or you can leave the peel on if you want - slice cucumber into fairly thin slices. Place into a colander and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Set on something to catch the water that drains off, and set aside.
Mix together sour cream, onion, dill, vinegar, and sugar. Cover and place in fridge.
Let cucumbers drain and dressing chill for at least an hour, up to 2 hours.
Before serving, rinse cucumbers under running water briefly. Pat dry with paper towel.
Toss dressing with cucumbers and serve.

So simple yet really tasty.
Of course my measurements are rough estimates as our dad doesn't really measure, rather does a bit of this and a bit of that. You don't have to use light sour cream, you can use full fat, but that will alter the nutritional value.
With the light sour cream the entire recipe is (according to Fitday):
Calories - 50
Fat - 1.7
Carbs - 7.9
Protein - 1

Awesome, yes?
An entire large cucumber with tasty dressing as a side dish is pretty filling, trust me.
I'm hoping it helps to counteract the 10 billion calories of pie I ate this week.

Hop over to Carole's Chatter for tons of great links!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Peach Cream Pie

Okay, last cream pie for a while, I promise.
This one is really mild compared to the last two (Caramel Cream Pie and Banana Coconut Cream Pie) The peach flavor is subtle and is soooooo good with the cinnamon whipping cream. I'm thinking this would be perfect after a heavy meal, when you just want to finish with something "light".
I put light in quotations because I mean light in flavor and texture, definitely not in calories.
I used my Grape Cream Pie recipe that I made last year for the grape cooking competition, but instead of grape juice I used fresh peach juice and subbed out the lemon juice for lime (that is what I had on hand). It worked really well.
Peach Cream Pie
1/2 cup sugar
6 Tbsp cornstarch
pinch salt
1/8 tsp cinnamon
2 1/2 cups peach juice (Fresh)
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 8 or 9 inch baked pie shell
1 cup whipping cream
generous dash of cinnamon
2 Tbsp sugar
Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, and cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Slowly whisk in peach juice - do not whisk in fast or you will create foam which makes the peach pudding go a little weird.
Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened.
Remove from heat. Add lime juice.
Cool and chill until very thick.
Spoon mixture into baked pie shell.
Whip the cream with the generous dash of cinnamon and 2 Tbsp sugar until stiff peaks form. Spread on top of pie.
The color did seem a little was almost as dark as the caramel pie I made...I thought it would be a more "peachy" color. Oh well, trust me when I say that the color detracts only a minuscule bit from the pie. It tastes divine and the texture is amazingly smooth and creamy.
Need something really unique to take to your next dinner?
I recommend this one or the Caramel Cream Pie. they are both really different and are pretty impressive. Or, you could try the Grape Cream Pie and totally blow everyone away!
Head over to My Turn (for us) and Carole's Chatter for some tasty and fun links!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Caramel Cream Pie

Day two of my cream pie recipe sharing. I am beyond excited to share this recipe with you because as soon as you read it you have to go make it.
Have to...
If you don't make it you will wonder for the rest of your days why you didn't.
I'm not even lying here people.
It's that ridiculously good.
I was worried that it would be too sweet - which is weird because I'm pretty sure I was Willy Wonka in a past life - but it's not too sweet at all. Well, it IS sweet....but not THAT sweet.
I'm putting a warning on this one though....DO NOT..for the love of all that is holy....I repeat, DO NOT look up how many calories are in this sucker.
Trust me, you are better off not knowing!
Caramel Cream Pie
1 1/4 cup brown sugar, divided
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp cornstarch
2 cups whipping cream
3 egg yolks
3 Tbsp butter
2 tsp vanilla
1 baked pie shell
1 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp Skor bits
In a medium saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of the brown sugar and the butter. Cook and stir over low heat until butter is melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a bowl, combine remaining 3/4 cup brown sugar, flour, and cornstarch.
Add flour mixture to butter mixture and stir to combine. Slowly whisk in whipping cream.
Return pan to heat. Cook and stir constantly over medium heat until bubbly and thickened. Reduce heat and cook 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.
In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks. Very gradually stir in the hot mixture - 1 Tbsp at a time - until you have about half the mixture whisked in. Return egg yolk mixture to saucepan and place back on heat.
Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
Reduce heat and cook 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in the 3 Tbsp butter and 2 tsp vanilla.
Pour into the baked pie shell.
Refrigerate until completely cool. 
Whip the one cup of whipping cream, 2 Tbsp sugar, and 1 tsp vanilla until stiff peaks form. Place on top of pie filling and spread evenly. Sprinkle with Skor bits.
The Skor bits are completely optional here. I only used them so I could tell the difference between the pies I was making. See...the peach cream pie I made looked pretty similar to this one. Don't believe me? Have a look (below).
The one on this side is caramel........and this one is peach!
Pretty similar, yes?
There was enough of a difference that I could tell them apart but I figured once they had the whipping cream on top I might be in trouble.
On a side note, I really want to learn how to pipe whipping cream all fancy-like on a pie to make it look that much more spectacular.
There you have it. Caramel Cream Pie.
Who knew there was such a thing?
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say this is probably something you want to save for a special occasion. You will want to eat it all the time but you must resist.
It will spoil you for all other desserts.
I miss it already.
Check out The Mandatory Mooch for some tasty links!
Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons has more great links.
Don't forget about Six Sister's Stuff too!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Banana Coconut Cream Pie

I went a little pie crazy this weekend.
Two of the girls at work are leaving us so I thought I would make something special for them.
Plus...I have been dying to make some new pie recipes that I have been holding onto all summer. Yay for cooler weather!
I made a banana coconut cream pie, a caramel cream pie, and a peach cream pie. I may have had a bit of a "cream" theme going there.
Anyway...they all turned out amazingly, mind blowingly delicious....if I do say so myself.
I am sharing the banana coconut recipe today and will do the other two this week as well.
Banana Coconut Cream Pie
1 baked 8 or 9 inch pie shell
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
pinch salt
2 cups whipping cream
1/3 cup toasted coconut
3 ripe bananas
1 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp Butterscotch Ripple Schnapps
In a small bowl, whisk the 4 egg yolks until well mixed. Set aside.
Whisk together sugar, flour, and salt in a medium saucepan. Slowly whisk in whipping cream. Bring to a low boil over medium/low heat. Stir constantly until thickened. Remove from heat.
Slowly whisk in the hot cream mixture into the yolks, about a tablespoon at a time so as not to curdle the eggs, until you have half the cream mixture whisked in. Return the egg/cream mixture to the pot with the rest of the cream mixture and place back over medium heat.
Stir constantly until pudding thickens. Remove from heat.
In a small bowl, mash 2 of the 3 bananas. Spread the mashed banana into the bottom of the pie shell.
Sprinkle with all but a tablespoon or two of the toasted coconut (which you will save to sprinkle on top).
Pour the pudding into the shell on top of the coconut and spread evenly. Slice up the last banana into thin slices. Layer evenly over pudding.
Let cool completely. The bananas may go a bit brown but it's okay, you are going to cover them with whipped cream.
When cool (you can place in fridge to speed process), whip the remaining 1 cup of whipping cream with the Butterscotch Ripple Schnapps and 2 Tbsp of sugar. **If you don't want to use the Schnapps then you can use 1 tsp of vanilla, it will just taste a teeny bit different.**
Cover the pie with the whipped cream and sprinkle with the reserved toasted coconut.
I just need to take a moment to enjoy the beauty of this pie.
I can't even tell you how much better this is than using store bought pudding. You know how sometimes store bought isn't that much different than homemade and you think, "Holy heck, why did I just put out so much effort for that?" I promise you will NOT be saying that with this pie.
Stay tuned for the other cream pies I made this week.
The bottom one is the caramel cream pie, the middle is the peach cream pie, and the top is the banana.
You know you will be back...I's PIE!
No one walks away from that. Well, unless you are crazy.
*cough*  Sue *cough*
Be sure to visit Carole's Chatter for tons of fabulous links!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Crazy Easy Pizza Dough

Super quick post today. I'm in the midst of making a bazillion different pies and a million different recipes for dinner.
Plus, I put my neck/shoulder out.
Then...I stubbed my toe on a chair leg and I am pretty sure I broke it.
Feel bad for me?
My family doesn't. 
Want to know how the conversation went?
My dad - Oooh that's too bad. Remember that one time I fell and broke my neck?
(Yeah, he actually did. The day before his 80th birthday)
My mom - Remember that one time I got my fingers cut off in the lawnmower?
Sue - Remember that one time when I got hit by a bat and broke my arm? Or that other time, when I needed to have surgery to have my gallbladder removed?
See what I have to put up with?
They are jerks.
I will seek sympathy from strangers then. That's just fine.
Anyway, this pizza crust is super simple and quick to whip up. Especially when you are whining about your sore neck/shoulder or broken toe.

Crazy Easy Pizza Dough
(Slightly adapted from Allrecipes)

2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
 1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
3 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in the water, and let sit for 10 minutes.
Stir the salt, oil, and minced garlic into the yeast solution.
Mix in 2 cups of the flour. Turn dough out onto a clean, well floured surface, and knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky but still fairly soft.
Place the dough into a well oiled bowl, and cover with a cloth. Let the dough rise until double; this should take about 1 hour.

Before the rise (above), after (below)

Preheat oven to 425.
Punch down dough. Let dough relax for a minute before rolling out. Use for your favorite pizza recipe.
 Line a cookie tray with parchment paper, press the dough onto it, and let the dough rise for about 15 minutes before topping and baking it.

I have also made it on round pizza trays, lined with parchment paper, as well...

Bake pizza in preheated oven, until the cheese and crust are golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

This made almost one full cookie tray. It was about 1 inch shy of the end of the pan. I probably could have stretched it a bit more but didn't want the dough to be too thin.
It is chewy yet just crunchy enough.
Perfect homemade pizza.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some more whining to do.

Don't forget, Ms. enPlace has some great links! Check it out!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Single Serving Mac and Cheese

I'm in love with making single serving recipes right now.
It's fun to take full size recipes and pare them down and try and have the end result be as good as the original.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. So far we have been pretty lucky!
I made it twice with two different cheeses and they were both delicious. The one with Velveeta cheese was definitely much smoother though.
Single Serving Mac and Cheese
1/3 cup macaroni (I use Catelli Smart)
1/2 cup water
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup 1% milk
1/2 cup shredded light cheese OR 2 inch square of Velveeta cheese, cut up
2 Tbsp frozen peas
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese
Combine the pasta, water, and garlic in a large microwave safe mug or bowl.
Microwave for 2 minutes, then stir. (The water may overflow when you heat it - this is normal. If you don't want it to overflow make sure you use a very large microwave safe bowl)
Repeat this at least 2 to 4 more minutes, stirring after each 2 minutes. The water should absorb completely and the pasta cooked through. (If the pasta needs another minute it is okay to add 1 tsp of water and go another minute.)
Remove from the microwave and stir in milk, cheese (either 1/2 cup of light cheese OR 2 inch cube of Velveeta, whichever you are using.), and frozen peas. Microwave for another minute to minute and a half. Stir thoroughly.
Season with salt & pepper to taste.
Top with 1 Tbsp Parmesan cheese. Serve hot.

This one (above) was made with 1/2 cup shredded Italiano blend cheese.
This one (above) was made with the Velveeta.
These were both delicious.
The Italiano version was fairly stringy from the cheese - it didn't completely melt and mix in with the pasta. It still tasted fantastic, it just wasn't smooth at all. I think some people might be scared away from eating it because of the little clumps of stringy cheese. Not me though. I'm a trooper.
I'm glad I gave it a chance. Soooooooooo good!
I am pretty sure it was the Italiano blend that caused the stringiness. It's the blend that is meant for pizzas and such.  I think shredded aged cheddar would work really well.
The Velveeta version was extremely creamy and smooth. I used a 2 inch cube of Velveeta because that was pretty much the same amount of calories as the 1/2 cup of shredded cheese so the nutritional info for the two is almost exactly the same.
According to My Fitness Pal the breakdown is:
322 calories, 38 carb, 11 fat, 17 protein.
**A couple of notes**
**It will bubble over in the microwave. Put it in a big microwave safe bowl if you want to prevent this and then serve it in a smaller, cuter dish.
**You don't have to add the peas BUT the peas definitely add some flavor and texture to the dish.
**I happen to like the flavor as is but feel free to spice it up with your favorite spices or a dash of hot sauce.
**It takes no time to make. I started at 2:00 and was sitting down to eat it at 2:15. And that was after I washed the big bowl I used to make it. Prep, cook time, and clean up in 15 minutes. True story.
Check out Six Sister's Stuff for some fun links!
My Turn (for us) and Carole's Chatter also have some great food and crafting links.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Single Serving Scone

I love single serving recipes for those days when I am ready to eat everything in sight.
If the recipe only makes one, then you can only eat one.
It's ingenious.
Of course, when the recipe is as simple as this one is it can be tempting to just go and make another one. Thing is, I am still less likely to make another one than I would be to eat 8 scones made from a full recipe.
Why can't I be one of those people that loves to eat salad?
Single Serving Scone
1/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
pinch cinnamon
2 1/4 tsp brown sugar, divided
1 Tbsp coconut oil
2 Tbsp milk (1%)
2 Tbsp fruit, chopped
Preheat oven to 450. Line small oven safe tray with parchment paper.
Mix together flour, baking powder, pinch salt, pinch cinnamon, and 2 tsp of the brown sugar.
Crumble in the coconut oil to form coarse crumbs.
Stir in milk and peaches to form soft dough. (If it is too dry to stick together add a little more milk, 1 tsp at a time, until it comes together) Pat into a circle on a small tray lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 tsp brown sugar on top.

Bake at 450 for 8 - 10 minutes, until top is golden brown.
Best served warm.
**NOTE - this can be made in a toaster oven!
Make sure you preheat the toaster oven first!

**NOTE 2 - you can use anything you like for the 2 Tbsp fruit. Fruit, chocolate chips, toffee bits, etc. Make it savory by using cheese as your add in, leaving out the cinnamon, and lowering the sugar to 1 tsp and not sprinkling sugar on top.
This wouldn't be too bad for breakfast; it comes in at 318 calories. I had it as an after work snack so 300 calories was a little high. I try to keep my snacks to about 100 calories or so.
*try* being the operative word there...
If you were feeling generous you could split this with someone and only have half the calories.
I like to think I am a pretty generous person...but, seriously...share my scone??
I don't think so.
Be sure to check out Blissful and Domestic for some sweet links!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Rhubarb Lemonade

I noticed we haven't blogged about many drink recipes before so I decided to share my rhubarb lemonade recipe.
Sue here by the way.
I have made this recipe for the last few years when the rhubarb is plentiful. You can drink it up right away or can it for use all winter. The combination of two tart flavors really works.
Plus, it is such a girly light pink color that it would be perfect for a baby shower or bridal shower.

Rhubarb Lemonade

8 cups rhubarb, chopped
3 cups water
3 cups sugar
3 Tbsp lemon rind (about 3 lemons)
1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice

In a saucepan; stir rhubarb, water, sugar, and rind. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and stir approx 10 minutes (until soft). (I usually throw the juiced lemon peels into the pot as well.)
Take off of the heat, remove peels, and stir in lemon juice.
Strain through a fine sieve, pressing out liquid.
If you want to can it and process it, now is your chance. If you are going to be using this now then simply pour it into a jar and refrigerate. serve the lemonade here are your instructions.
Mix 1 part punch to 3 parts water.
1 part punch to 2 parts water and 1 part 7/Up

Wink wink, nudge nudge - You can make this an "adult" punch by adding some vodka instead of the 7/Up.

Super simple. Super refreshing on a hot summer day.
I find the best way to drink this is ice cold.
A tip to not dilute this too much with ice - freeze some of the rhubarb lemonade in ice cube trays and add it to your drink. As it melts it will make your drink stronger, not weaker!

Want to check out some fun links? Visit Kitchen Fun With My 3 Sons
And don't forget about My Turn (for us) and Carole's Chatter too!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sour Cream Raisin Bar

So, yeah.
I think I pushed my luck with the whole baking-before-the-sun-comes-up thing.
It worked out so well yesterday that I thought, "why not do it again today?"
I woke up at the crack of dawn everything made and in the oven again...this time though I was hotter than heck.
See...yesterday when I was all smart and using the oven in the morning, it had cooled off enough outside to open all the windows and have the lovely morning air breezing through. Last night it did not cool all... and so the lovely morning air was on fire.
I'm not even lying.
The air was on fire.
Okay...I'm exaggerating a little bit....but still.... it was sooooooo hot!
But, I was already commited so I went ahead with it.
I'm happy I did. This is one of my favorite bars. It is very rich and creamy and crumbly and cinnamony. So worth breathing fire air.

Sour Cream Raisin Bar

2 cups raisins
1 3/4 cup rolled oats
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9 X 13 pan with parchment paper, spray lightly with cooking spray.
Cover raisins with hot water and let soak until plump, 5 to 10 mins. Drain and set aside.
Crumble together oats, flour, baking soda, brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter in a large bowl. Pat half of the crumb mixture into prepared pan.

Bake at 350 for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, whisk together egg yolks, sour cream, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and raisins.
Pour the filling over the partially baked crust.

Sprinkle the remaining oat mixture over the filling. Lightly pat down.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, until top is browned.

Let cool. Remove from pan using parchment paper handles.

Cut into bars and serve. I would refrigerate these if you are not eating them right away.

The filling for these is similar to my favorite Sour Cream Raisin Pie but still different enough that you should probably make both to see which is your favorite. ;)

Want to know how fast these disappear? See that photo above...
As I was cutting them I had samplers coming in for more.
FYI - If you can get them cut and wrapped before everyone eats them; these freeze really well.
I think I am back on the no-oven-until-fall wagon.
My house is hot and everyone is tired of me whining.

Don't forget The Mandatory Mooch and Carole's Chatter too.