Dessert, Pie

Lemon Cream Pie

Every month at my fire department association’s business meeting the firefighters take turns bringing a dessert or snack. This month was my turn and when I asked around what people might want the answer I got was cream pies. So I decided to make four different types of cream pie in hopes of having something for everyone. This lemon cream pie was chosen because I love all things lemon and it looked so good, I just had to try it. I had never made my own curd before so it was a little dicey for a bit as I kept stirring and stirring waiting for the curd to thicken, but eventually it did and it was heavenly. Recipe inspiration by wellplated.com.

Graham Cracker Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 sheets if you are using whole crackers)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 7 tablespoons melted butter

Lemon Cream Filling:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 large lemons)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (from about 1 lemon)
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature

Whipped Cream Topping:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Begin by preheating your oven to 375. Mix together your graham cracker crumbs, sugars and melted butter. Press into a greased 9″ pie plate. I like to use a glass or measuring cup with a flat bottom to make sure it is even. Bake for 7-9 minutes, then let cool completely. Next, place a heatproof bowl over a pan of lightly simmering water to create a double boiler. Add the eggs into the bowl, then with a hand mixer on medium speed (or a whisk and some serious arm power), beat the eggs until thick and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes if using a mixer. With the mixer running, slowly add the sugar, then the lemon juice and lemon zest. Once incorporated, switch from a mixer (or whisk) to a rubber spatula. Continue to cook the mixture over the simmering water, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the bowl with your spatula, until it forms a thick, smooth custard, about 8-12 additional minutes. When you dip your spatula into the custard, the custard should easily coat the spatula’s back, and if you draw a line through the custard on the back of the spatula with your finger, the sides of the custard should stay separated. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool to almost room temperature. In a large mixing bowl or a standing mixer fit with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium high speed until it is completely soft and smooth, about 3 full minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium, then gradually add the cooled lemon custard to the cream cheese, beating until smooth and fully combined so that no white streaks remain. Pour the cream cheese into the baked pastry shell. Refrigerate the pie until fully chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight. Up to 4 hours before serving, prepare the homemade whipped cream: In large mixing bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment over medium speed. When it starts to thicken, add the powdered sugar and vanilla, increase the mixer speed to high, and continue to beat until soft peaks form. (Do not over beat or the cream will separate.) Spread over the chilled pie, slice, and serve cold.

*Now I know there are a lot of words in the instructions, but it really is not as difficult as it might appear. Also, I knew I wouldn’t be serving my pie right away, so I made a stabilized whipped cream using gelatin to ensure that my whipped cream didn’t fall. That recipe can also be found on my website.

Bars, Dessert

Banana Blondie with Peanut Butter Frosting

I’ve been a new recipe kick for a little while now, and the other night when I was restless seemed the perfect time to try another. This time it was banana blondies. I don’t typically make banana desserts other than banana bread because for some reason I think they will taste artificial, which is never good. I decided to break out of my comfort zone and try this blondie recipe because when I looked at the ingredients I knew that it couldn’t possibly taste artificial. The original recipe came from cookiesandcups.com, but instead of using the browned butter frosting, I thought it would be delicious with a peanut butter frosting and boy was I right.

Blondie

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and if desired browned
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana (1 medium banana)

Frosting

  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. Line an 8×8 baking dish with foil and spray with cooking spray. Set aside. In bowl of stand mixer combine melted (or browned) butter and sugar. Mix until combined. Add in egg and vanilla and continue mixing until incorporated. Stir in salt, flour and banana until batter is smooth and even. Spread in prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes until center is set. Transfer pan to wire rack to cool. Frost the blondies when they are mostly cooled.

To make the frosting, cream together peanut butter and butter until smooth. Add in the vanilla and powdered sugar. Incorporate fully, then add in milk until the frosting reaches the desired consistency. Spread over cooled bars.

Cookies, Dessert

Chocolate Chip Cookies

There are so many recipes out there that claim to be THE BEST. That definition is so different for everyone, especially when it comes to chocolate chip cookies. Some people say that chilling is mandatory, or cake flour, or nuts…the list goes on and on. In my opinion, this is the best chocolate chip cookie recipe I have tried to date. There is no chilling, no super fancy ingredients, but there are a couple steps in here that I feel make this recipe stand out. One is the extra egg yolk. The other is the 4-5 minutes of beating before you add the dry ingredients. I did add about 25 grams more flour to compensate for being at altitude and I have included the US measurements in case you don’t own a food scale. I did weigh my ingredients so keep that in mind when you try this. Recipe and photo courtesy of janespatisserie.com.

  • 175 g (1 stick + 6 tablespoons) butter
  • 225 g (1 1/8 cup) light brown sugar
  • 100 g ( scant 1/2 cup) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 300 g (2 cups) flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 325 g (2 1/2 cups) semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375.  Line 2 large baking trays with parchment paper. Melt the butter slowly until it is fully melted, leave to cool for a couple of minutes. Once cooled, beat in the two sugars until they are thoroughly combined. With a stand mixer, add the egg, the egg yolk and vanilla and beat the mixture for about 4-5 minutes on a medium speed or until the mixture becomes much lighter in color, is smooth, and has increased in volume. (I literally set a timer for this so I made sure I beat it for long enough.) Add the dry ingredients and beat again until smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips. Using a cookie scoop, portion the cookies onto the trays and bake the cookies in the oven for 10-12 minutes for softer cookies; 14 minutes for soft/crunchy cookies. I rotate my pans halfway through baking to make sure it bakes evenly. Take them out of the oven and let them cool on the pan for 1 minute, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Entree

Slow Cooker Smothered Chicken Burritos

I always up for trying a new slow cooker recipe and this one was really good. I especially liked the cheesy sauce that goes over the top. Perfect for a cold winter night. Recipe and photo courtesy of barefeetinthekitchen.com.

Chicken Filling:

  • 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Burrito Ingredients:

  • 6-8 flour tortillas or 12-16 corn tortillas
  • 3/4 cup chopped roasted green chile or (1) 10-ounce can
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 2-3 tablespoons light flavored olive oil

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose or brown rice flour
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

Place chicken in the slow cooker. Sprinkle with cumin, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cover with lid and cook on low for 3-4 hours. When the chicken can be easily pulled apart, shred it and toss it in the juices in the crockpot. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Transfer the chicken to a large bowl, add 1 cup of shredded cheese, and the green chile. Stir to combine. Scoop the chicken mixture into the tortillas, about 3/4 cup of filling fits nicely in each flour tortilla. (About 1/3 cup of filling fits easily in the smaller corn tortillas.) Roll them up and place them snugly into a baking pan. Brush with olive oil. Bake 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned and crispy. While the burritos are in the oven, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Slowly add the chicken broth and whisk until smooth. Add the cumin, salt, and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes, whisking and simmering until thickened. Remove from the heat. Add the sour cream and the remaining cheese, whisking until smooth again. Pour the sauce over the crispy burritos.

30 minute meal, Entree

Taco Spaghetti

The best thing about this dish is that it can all be made in a single pot. It combines two of my favorite foods, tacos and spaghetti. My family is pretty sensitive to spice so next time I’ll use mild Rotel but other than that I loved how easy and delicious this dish is. Recipe and photo courtesy of damndelicious.net.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 (1.25-ounce) package taco seasoning
  • 1 (10-ounce can) Rotel
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 8 ounces spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add ground beef and cook until beef has browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the beef as it cooks; stir in taco seasoning. Drain excess fat. Stir in Rotel, tomato paste, spaghetti and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until pasta is cooked through, about 13-16 minutes. Remove from heat and top with cheeses. Cover until melted, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately, garnished with tomato and cilantro, if desired.

 

30 minute meal, Entree

Crispy Garlic Parmesan Crusted Salmon

I’m making an effort to incorporate more fish into our dinners and this recipe was a huge success. My six year old even asked for seconds. It is my favorite kind of recipe, quick, delicious and a crowd pleaser. Recipe and photo courtesy of cafedelites.com

  • 2 pounds (1 kg) side wild salmon fillet
  • 2/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 4 cloves garlic , minced
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • Salt and pepper

Position the rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400.  Line a baking sheet with foil. Place the salmon fillet, skin side down, on the baking sheet. Set aside. Mix together the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley and garlic in a small bowl. Pour in the melted butter; season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/3 teaspoon pepper (or to taste).  Mix the ingredients together until the breadcrumbs absorb the butter (about 40 seconds). Pour the mixture over the salmon, pressing it into the top until the fillet is completely covered. Lightly spray salmon with cooking oil spray for a golden crumb. Bake uncovered for 12-15 minutes (depending on the thickness of your fillet), until the crust is golden and the salmon is cooked and flakes easily with fork. Serve with your choice of vegetables.

Dessert

Cinnamon Cream Puffs

I just love watching baking shows, in particular, baking competitions. One item that inevitably comes up in every competition is cream puffs. Cream puffs are made with a special dough called pate a choux. I have always been intrigued by the preparation method of this dough and finally decided to give it a try.  Although the name and directions look intimidating, it came together really easily!  I will definitely be making these again. Recipe and photo courtesy of barbarabakes.com

Pate a Choux

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature

Egg Wash (optional)

  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon water

Cinnamon Whipped Cream

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 425°. Lightly grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper. Measure flour and set aside. Bring butter, sugar, salt, and 3/4 cup water to a boil in a 3-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Immediately remove from heat, and quickly stir in flour mixture all at once. Return to heat and stir with a wooden spoon for 1 to 2 minutes, or until dough is smooth and forms a ball. Transfer dough to the bowl of an electric mixer, and let cool 5 minutes. Add 3 eggs, 1 at a time, beating until mixture is smooth and glossy. Spoon dough into a pastry bag fitted with a 5/8-inch plain tip. Pipe dough onto prepared pans into 1 1/2-inch rounds (1 1/2 inches high). Smooth out peaks and round tops with a moistened finger. Whisk together remaining 1 egg and 1 tsp. water. Brush tops of dough with egg mixture. Bake at 425° for 5 minutes; reduce oven temperature to 375°, and bake 30 minutes or until puffy and golden brown. Turn oven off; let shells stand in closed oven 10 minutes. Remove from baking sheets to wire racks, and cool completely.

For the Filling:

In a large mixing bowl, beat the heavy cream and salt at medium speed until soft peaks form. Add powdered sugar and cinnamon, and beat until stiff peaks form. Spoon whipped cream into a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip. Pierce the side of each cream puff with a small knife to create a hole. Insert the pastry tip into the hole and fill with cinnamon whipped cream.