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Category Archives: Recipes

Pear Cherry Pie of Mine

Its dancing in my head, it’s bigger than my fist, its yellow or green or brown or red. The pears this season have been divine – from the grocery store varieties to the lovely gifts from home trees. It’s also one of the fruits on the lower end of the glycemic index for those of us watching their sugar intake. I have been gifted with a large sack filled with yellow green tree pears and have been racking my brain with what to do with them. I have eaten my fill of them raw and have already made up my pear butter (low sugar). Thankfully I have both food-loving coworkers and dessert-needing friends. I came across a recipe for a pear cherry pie after a suggestion from a fellow baker. Being me, I altered it to suit my tastes and it ran. Cherries are also very low on the glycemic index, however the dried varieties of all fruits have a higher index to keep in mind when relying on the index as your sugar intake guide.

Two or three things are required for pie: filling, crust(s) and/or crumble. I prefer crumble topped pies over two crusts or lattice – maybe it’s the oats? This will be a debate to the end of time – not even getting into the composition of the pie crust itself. Here is my take on the crust – feel free to use your own preferences.

Pie Crust Ingredients

IMPORTANT!!!! Put your solid fats into the freezer for at least an hour before use and nearly freeze your pie crust liquid. This makes one 9 inch crust.

  • 1 ¼ c. AP Flour
  • 1 ½ t. White Sugar
  • ¼ t. Fine Salt
  • ¼ t. each: Allspice, Cardamom and Cinnamon
  • 3 ½ T. Butter, frozen and cut into pieces
  • 3 ½ T. Vegetable Shortening, frozen and cut into pieces
  • ¼ c. plus extra Good Quality Apple Juice, slushy

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and toss in the cut pieces of fat, coating them. Using a pastry blender (sort of looks like Edward Scissor-hands got his fingers tangled) or a pair of knives, cut the fat into the flour mixture until you have a good mix of cornmeal, peas and a few hazel nut sized pieces left. The chunky fat is a very good thing. Using a fork, gently toss the mixture with the apple juice slush, 1 T. at a time. Depending on your local environment, you make need more or less liquid (higher humidity, less liquid needed). The finished mixture will be a bit loose and raggy. If you can take a fist full and squeeze it together and it holds its shape – it’s got enough liquid. Knead this together about 4 times lightly and gather it into a flattened disk. Wrap it closely in plastic and refrigerate it at least 30 minutes.

Once the crust is rested and chilled, begin rolling it out. I place mine between parchment sheets and roll it into a disc that will completely line a 9 inch pie plate, plus some over the edge. Peel back the sheets from the rolled crust and lightly sprinkle with a touch of flour, patting it in. Fold the dough over to get each side and ease it into your pie plate or pan. For single crust pies, tuck the extra crust edge into the shell between the crust and the edge and crimp as you like. For two crusted or lattice pies, refrigerate the shaped crust while rolling the second and refrigerate the second rolled crust until you have the first shell filled.

Crumble Topping Ingredients

  • 2/3 c. Rolled Oats
  • ½ c. AP Flour
  • ½ c. Brown Sugar
  • ¼ t. each: Allspice, Cardamom and Cinnamon
  • ½ c. Butter, soften to near melted

Mix all the ingredients until crumbly together. There will be some larger and smaller pieces. Set aside until the filling is done.

Preheat your oven to 400°F

Pie Filling Ingredients

  • ½ c. Good Quality Apple Juice
  • ½ c. Dried Tart Cherries or 1 c. Dark Sweet Cherries, pitted and halved
  • 1 T. Corn Starch
  • 1/8 t. each: Ginger, Nutmeg, Cardamom, and Allspice
  • 4 ½ – 5 c. Pears, sliced thin

In a small to medium sauce pan, mix the spices, starch, juice and cherries. Bring them to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Let bubble for one minute. Pour over the pears in a large mixing bowl and stir together, being sure to evenly distribute the cherries. Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust. Top with crumble. For two crust or lattice pies, cover or weave the lattice over the filling and tuck ends, crimping the edge together. Be sure to cut a few vents in the top crust.

Wrap the edge of the crust with a 2-3 inch foil strip to prevent over browning and bake 35 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool one hour before serving.

This pie has extremely low amounts of added sugar but it doesn’t need any additional sweetness. Vanilla or cinnamon ice cream or whipped cream would be a great addition – if you are into that sort of thing. Also very good for breakfast.

*Pictures are from two different pie making days. Neither of which was fully consumed by me – Honest – I only ate 2 slices!

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Posted by on November 23, 2012 in Recipes

 

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Pumpkin Mousse – Problematic?

It was that time of year again where turkey, cranberries, sweet potatoes and pumpkin come out to play. This year my Thanksgiving was going to be solo therefore I certainly didn’t need dinner for six. But I could make dinner for me, myself, and the occasional I for that day plus a few random other days the next week or so. So the turkey tenderloin, potatoes and squash were roasted and stuffed. The sweet potatoes were deliciously mixed into a sweet spicy casserole and biscuits, green beans and cranberry apple compote were prepared. But what about dessert? My biggest difficulty will always be my sweet tooth. I do not need to have an entire pumpkin or apple pie in my home. It will be eaten. All. By. Me. My solution was not low fat. I cannot say it was low calorie. But it was low in sugar, high on taste and small in size.

Pumpkin Mousse 1

I decided on Pumpkin Mousse – a fluffy concoction with brown sugar and spice with a touch of gingersnap crumbs. After having made my whipped cream frosting and debating flavoring options with at least half my Facebook friends, why wouldn’t it convert to a mousse? It is easily made with a hand mixer and can be made and frozen in advance.

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1/2 c. Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 t. Ginger
  • 1/4 t. Cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. Allspice
  • 1/4 t. Cardamom
  • 1/4. Nutmeg
  • 2/3 c. Pure Pumpkin Puree
  • 1 c. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 9-12 Gingersnap Cookies, crushed to crumbs

Blend the cream cheese, sugar and spices until light and fluffy. Slowly add the puree to create a smooth mixture (too fast or early and the mix will have cream cheese lumps – my mistake). Slowly add the whipping cream and whip on high until stiff peaks form. Spoon cookie crumbs into your choice of service vessels, dividing the crumbs between each evenly but reserving a few teaspoons for the top. Spoon or pipe the mousse on top of the crumbs and sprinkle remaining crumbs on top. Cover each container with plastic for the refrigerator if you are serving it that day or the next. Use two layers of plastic and a layer of foil if you need to freeze it for serving it farther than the next day. Thaw it in the refrigerator. Easily makes 4 servings.

 

Curious about my meal? Here it was:

Tarragon roasted turkey tenderloins and baby yellow potatoes; sweet potato casserole; steamed green beans; Italian sausage, apple, cranberry and roasted mushroom wild rice stuffed acorn squash; whole cranberry and apple compote; and honey butter biscuits. Pumpkin mousse for dessert.

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2012 in Recipes

 

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Healthier Peanut Butter Cookies

I was minding my own business at work, reviewing the final report for my latest 3 year project when it hit me. Peanut Butter Cookies. NOW!! So not right when you have 4 more hours to go in the day, let alone several days until Friday. But this necessary wait for time to make them gave me time to think and research. This was good. I had the craving for that rich, sweet, nutty goodness and I was certain there was a way that I could have my cookies and not gain it on my hips.

I reviewed several recipes – so many no carbohydrate 10 calorie cookies out there… But it should be sweet, it needs to have that crumb, and it does need butter. Finally I found a recipe that was nearly perfect – an applesauce substitution for half the butter. Yet it still had 2 cups of sugar. I went back into my recent arsenal of substitutions (minus the use of a baking quality sugar sub) and came up with this:

  • 1/2 c. Butter, softened
  • 1 c. Natural Peanut Butter
  • ¼ c. Unsweetened Applesauce
  • 1 Large Banana, mashed
  • ½ c. White Sugar
  • ½ c. Brown Sugar, packed
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 ½ c. All Purpose Flour
  • 1 c. Whole Grain Oat Flour
  • 1 t. Baking Powder
  • 1 ½ t. Baking Soda

Cream the butter and sugars until fluffy then beat in the peanut butter, applesauce, banana and eggs. Add in the dry ingredients and incorporate well. Cover the very sticky batter and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat your oven to 375°F and dish out the chilled dough onto your favorite cookie sheets. I had approximately 1 inch balls of dough placed 2 inches apart. Depending on how accurate I was, I managed12-15 cookies per pan. Press a criss-cross of sugared fork tines across each ball to flatten and give them a traditional look.

Unbaked
Bake each pan until they are nicely golden brown. Mine took 10 minutes.
Baked

Yum.

Add Ins

Incidentally – if you add chocolate chips and chopped nuts they are also quite delicious. Next time, I intend to eliminate the leavening to hopefully get that chewy texture compared to the light moist cake-like texture these have.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2012 in Recipes

 

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Heaven..er.. Heavenly Chocolate Cake

(Holy wow – Twice in one week!)
I went a little nuts in my kitchen this weekend – the result was panakuchen, chocolate mousse, a divine grilled cheese with havarti, beef and mushroom stroganauf with fresh green beans, cupcakes (more cupcakes) and cake. Thankfully, I am adept at scaling back those recipes that I can – and dividing up the remains to highly deserving people (co-works!) At least I will only focus on the related parts tonight.

Saturday night I was craving chocolate. BADLY. I found and gave this a try (Frugal Feeding’s Mocha Mousse as prepared by me).
Mocha Mousse recipe prepared by cheshire21
It was divine – but a different kind of divine than the grilled cheese. Chocolate craving satisfied. I thought. So I decided to be generous and bake for my co-works (and me). Answer: Chocolate cupcakes! As I had already hurt my arm by whisking a single egg white to stiff peak manually – I took the easy route and began with a mix.

Cake:

  • Your Favorite Brand Dark Chocolate Fudge 13×9″ cake mix
  • Its instructed ingredients (egg, oil, water, etc.)
  • 1 T. Cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. Cayenne Pepper

Frosting:

  • 8 oz Cream Cheese, softened
  • 2 c. Heavy Whipping Cream, well-chilled
  • 1/2 c. Granulated Sugar (standard)
  • Splash of Vanilla
  • 1 t. Cinnamon

Optional Filling:

  • Mocha Mousse
  • 3 T. Apricot preserves mixed with 2 T. Brandy

Prepare the cake batter as directed plus extra spices. Bake off as desired. I dished out 48 miniature cupcakes into lined 24-cup pans, baking each pan 12 minutes. Then I woke up to reality and baked the remaining batter in a 6″ round cake pan lined with parchment paper for 33 minutes. Let them all cool completely. The cupcakes will take less time than a full cake (thermal dynamics is crazy like that).

For the Frosting, place cream cheese into the bowl of a stand mixer with a whip attachment and cream in sugar and flavorings until smooth and light. Still on medium speed (KitchenAid #4-5), slowly add in the chilled heavy whipping cream. Once it is all added and incorporated, crank that baby up to high (#8-10), step away to grab a spatula, turn back and its done – stiff peaks, room temperature stable non-melting lightly whipped cream. Frost and decorate the cupcakes as desired, decide how many cupcakes your co-workers deserve – and put them ALL onto the pan to let them eat.

Cupcakes
Now for the rest of that cake. Flatten and split the cake into layers as desired – took off the top (was rather domed and split into 2 layers). Place a dollop of frosting onto your cake plate and center a layer on top of it. Slather half of the apricot/brandy mix on it (lush). Ring that layer with a frosting wall and fill further with Mocha Mousse. Top with the remaining layer of cake and repeat! Cover with more frosting – then you have permission to lick the bowl, whip, spatula and any other digits needed.
Cake
Its cake on a plate – ergo – Cake Plate.
Slice coming
Mmmm – hello beautiful!
Slice of Heavenly Chocolate Cake
Yum. Delish ❤

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2012 in Recipes

 

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Simple Meal

Have you ever found yourself unable to figure out what you want to eat or running out to grab something fast for a group of friends coming for a gathering?  One of my favorite ’emergency’ stops is the grocery store salad bar, cheese counter, and bakery.  You can find a variety of precut vegetables, meats, cheeses, fruits, spreads and some prepared salads at the bar, breads that are very nice and delectable cheeses.  Best of all, it is customizable for however many people you are expecting.  You can create sandwiches, soups, salads or desserts for 1 to 20 with reduced preparation (if not for reduced price).

This trip I collected sliced cucumbers, shredded carrots, a hard boiled egg and a fresh yellow on-the-vine hothouse tomato to go with my Kiev Pumpernickel bread, 15 month aged Comte and veggie or plain cream cheese.  Just thinly slice whatever toppings you wish, spread with your favorite spread, top with your choice of toppings and munch!  It is a delightful take on finger or tea sandwiches with just a slight twist to traditional tomatoe, radish, or cucumber sandwiches of the past.  These were all vegetarian (plus eggs) tonight but nothing says they cannot be 100% vegetarian or have meat options.  I had a hard salami in the refridgerator but didn’t feel like it tonight.

 

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2011 in Recipes