Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Coconut Cream Pie

Now that I'm getting a little more comfortable with pie crust, I'm finding that pies really aren't that difficult. Really, the crust is the hard part, once you get that down, it's a piece of cake. (ha ha)

I have always wanted to make a Coconut Cream Pie, and I promised my good friend one, but first I had to practice on my family. This one turned out pretty good! Charlotte, you have a pie coming your way soon ;)

Coconut Cream Pie

one 9 inch pie crust (I use Barefoot Contessa's)
Ina's Perfect Pie Crust
This recipe makes 2 crusts, you can freeze and save the other for another time, or even better, make two pies!
12 Tbs. very cold unsalted butter
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup cold vegetable shortening
6 to 8 Tablespoons ice water

Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll crust out on a lightly floured board.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place pie crust into a 9 inch pie plate, fold and crimp edges. Prick bottom and sides of pie crust with fork. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. Remove from refrigerator, remove plastic wrap. Gently place a piece of parchment paper in pie crust to line, and place pie weights in bottom of pie crust. Bake 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven, remove parchment paper and pie weights. Place on wire rack to cool.

For the filling:
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cups half and half
4 egg yolks
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Combine sugar and cornstarch in a heavy saucepan. Whisk together the half and half and egg yolks. Gradually add egg yolk mixture to saucepan while whisking. Bring to a boil over medium heat, while whisking continuously. Boil 1 minute and then remove from heat. Stir in butter, vanilla, and coconut. Place plastic wrap directly on pudding, and let stand for 30 minutes. Remove plastic wrap and stir pudding. Spoon into pie crust, cover and chill at least 30 minutes.

Whipped Cream Topping

2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place bowl and beaters in the freezer for a few minutes.
Beat heavy cream at high speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar and vanilla. Beat until soft peaks form. Spread whipped cream over pie filling. Garnish with toasted coconut if desired.

Rosie has a Sister

Larry Jr. modeling Roxy and Rosie
Meet the newest member of our family, Roxy. (yorkie on the left) She is so sweet!
When I picked Rosie up at the groomer's yesterday, they told me about a family that needed to give their yorkie to a good family, did I know anyone? Yeah, US!
It was so funny, kinda meant to be. They happen to go to the same groomer's, the same Veterinarian, they have the same coloring, their names are close, and almost the same size. Larry said they are match made in Yokieville ha ha! Rosie and Roxy are getting along so well, you would think they have always been together.

Monday, May 18, 2009

I Have a Bee In My Bonnet

Even though it's been 100 degrees outside, and it feels like the middle of August, it is still spring.
I'm getting a slow start this year, but it finally hit... Spring fever. I've gotten out the gloves, and just about every cleaner known to mankind, and I've been scrubbing the house top to bottom. Now if there were only more hours in a day so I could get it all done before I lose my momentum, I never now how long it might last.
Anyone else Spring cleaning? Any tips?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Strawberry Trifle

I made this trifle for Mother's Day, it was delicious! It was the first time that I made pastry cream. I don't know why I have always felt intimidated with pastry cream, It really was fairly easy. Actually, the angel food cake was more of a challenge. I'm always worried that I'm going to underbeat, or overbeat the egg whites.
Strawberry Trifle

1 10 inch angel food cake, cut 1 by 1 inch
(I used Barefoot Contessa's, omitting the lemon and glaze )
1 quart fresh strawberries, rinsed and then sliced
(reserve 3 whole strawberries for garnish)
2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
pastry cream
1 cup whipped cream

Pastry Cream

2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a small stainless steel bowl, mix the sugar, and egg yolks with a wooden spoon. Sift the cornstarch into egg mixture, mixing well. Set aside. In a medium saucepan combine the milk and vanilla on medium heat until boiling. Remove from heat and slowly add to egg mixture, tempering the eggs, whisking constantly. Pour through a strainer, back into the saucepan, and continue to cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. When mixture begins to boil, whisk for another 30 to 60 seconds until it becomes thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and immediately pour into a clean bowl and cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool, then refrigerate a few hours until cold. Before assembling trifle, softly whip the 1/2 cup heavy cream, and fold into the cold pastry cream.

To assemble the Trifle:
Rinse and slice the berries and place in a bowl with the powdered sugar. Set aside.
Cut angel food cake 1 x 1 inch pieces. Arrange a layer of cake pieces in the bottom of a trifle or large glass bowl. Spoon half the berries over the cake. Spoon some of the custard over the berries. Repeat layering, ending with the custard. Best if it sits for a couple of hours. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Remove trifle from refrigerator about 1 hour before serving.

Whipping Cream

1 cup very cold heavy cream
1 to 2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch

Just before serving the trifle, make the whipped cream:
In a chilled bowl, with chilled beaters, beat cream until thickened. Add the sugar, cornstarch and vanilla. Continue to beat until the cream begins to thicken. Watch the cream carefully. Do not overbeat. Decorate with large dollops of whipped cream, sealing to the edge of the bowl to keep the moisture in the cake. Top with the 3 reserved whole strawberries.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Oatmeal Cranberry Chip Cookies

There is this really cute little Cookie Shop in the town that I grew up in, they make the best cookies! Whenever my daughter and I happen by ( yes, we have even been known to drive there just for cookies) we always stop for a baker's dozen. The one that we love the most has dried cranberries and white chocolate chips, they are soft and chewy, and so yummy! I tried to re-creat it, and this is what I came up with.

Oatmeal Cranberry Chip Cookies

1/2 cup shortening, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temp.
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups oatmeal
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries (Craisins)
3/4 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, cream together the shortening, butter, and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time incorporating after each addition. Add vanilla. Set aside. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder.
In a food processor blend the oatmeal a few second, and add to the flour mixture, stir to incorporate. Combine half the flour mixture to the sugar mixture until just blended, then add the rest of the flour mixture just mixing until blended. Do not over mix. Add the coconut, dried cranberries and white chocolate chips, mix in by hand.
Drop by rounded Tablespoon fulls (I use the oxo medium cookie scoop) on parchment or silpat lined cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes to 11 minutes. Do not over bake.

Easy Weeknight Spaghetti

I know, it's the weekend, but it's actually a "weeknight" for me since I worked today.

1 lb. extra lean ground beef
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
8oz. fresh white button mushrooms. sliced
1- 28 oz. can San Marzano dices tomatoes
3- 8 oz. cans tomato sauce
3 or 4 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning
fresh grated Parmesan Cheese

Brown ground beef in a large skillet or saute pan in the 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium heat.. As the beef is browning add Italian Seasoning. I usually just eyeball it, but we use a lot. After ground beef is about halfway browned add the onion and saute for a few minutes, then add the minced garlic and the mushrooms. You are looking for the onions to be translucent, and the mushrooms cooked, but not really browned. You may have to adjust your heat. After the hamburger is completely browned I usually drain in a sieve, to get rid of any extra fat, but it's not necessary. Return to pan, or a 5 qt. sauce pan if necessary, and add the diced tomatoes. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, then add the 3 cans of tomato sauce and simmer. Fill a large stock pot with water to cook your pasta. Allow your sauce to simmer while you are bringing your water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and mix pasta with sauce. Sprinkle with fresh Parmesan Cheese if desired.