Sunday, June 30, 2013

Graham Cracker Crust

Graham cracker crust is great in the summer when you don't want to turn that oven on for too long. I'm trying out a few custard/cream pies with this crust recipe and hopefully will be posting them soon. For small, consistent sized crumbs, use a food processor or even a blender. A lot of the time I don't have unsalted butter, so I use salted. In this recipe if you go with the salted butter, just omit the pinch of salt.

Graham Cracker Crust
Bubby's Homemade Pies
1 1/2 cups Graham Cracker crumbs (about 9 or 10 full cracker sheets)
2 TBSPs sugar
Pinch salt
5 1/3 TBSPs unsalted butter, melted

1. In a large bowl mix the crumbs, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and stir until evenly combined. (You don't need to worry about overworking a crumb crust).
2. Press this mixture into an 8 to 10 inch pie pan with your fingers. Make the thickness as even as possible. Refrigerate the crust for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the crust for 8 minutes uncovered, until it begins to smell good and is lightly browned near the crust edge. Cool at room temperature and refrigerate before filling.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Chocolate Malt Cupcakes

These are the last of the cupcakes I made recently for a baby shower. I thought Chocolate Malt would go along with Pink Lemonade and Cherry Limeade since they are all drinks. :) I liked everything about these, although I am still looking for that perfect dense chocolate cupcake recipe. These are moist and fluffy like a boxed mix. There is quite a bit of malt powder in both the cupcake and the frosting, but it's not an overpowering flavor. Unless you know it's a malt cupcake you might not even be able to taste it. They were yummy.

Chocolate Malt Cupcakes
adapted from
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsps baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups malted milk powder
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.
2. Whisk together flour, cocoa, both sugars, baking soda and salt.
3. In another bowl, whisk together milk and malted milk powder until powder is dissolved.
4. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat flour mixture, milk mixture and oil until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add sour cream and vanilla, and beat just until combined.
5. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each halfway. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. While cupcakes are cooling, prepare frosting.
Makes approximately 30 cupcakes

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup vegetable shortening, at room temperature
1/2 cup malted milk powder
4 TBSPs unsweetened cocoa powder
5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Chocolate covered malt balls to garnish (optional)

1. In a large mixer bowl, whip the butter and shorting for several minutes until very light and fluffy. Sprinkle in malted milk powder and cocoa powder. Whip for 1 minute.
2. Slowly add the powdered sugar a few spoonful at a time, letting it incorporate until the frosting becomes thick and stiff.
3. Fill bag with the frosting and pipe large swirls on top of cupcakes. Top with candies to garnish.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Cherry Limeade Cupcakes

I made some baby shower cupcakes last week, and found a couple new recipes to add to my blog. I made pink lemonade cupcakes which I posted previously, and to go along with the pink, and the lemonade, I decided to try cherry limeade. I found the Sprinkles Key Lime Cupcake recipe, and topped it with cherry frosting. I really like Sprinkles cupcakes because they are very dense and nothing like a boxed mix. Zesting key limes was interesting. They are so tiny I was sure I was going to zest my fingers!

Key Lime Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 TBSPs key lime juice, divided
1 TBSP key lime zest
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 large egg whites, room temperature
Toothpick or skewer

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla, key lime zest and 1 tbsp of lime juice; set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.
4. With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.
5. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely.
6. Use a toothpick or skewer to poke the tops of the cupcakes with holes. Use pastry brush to brush remaining lime juice over the top of the cupcake.

Let cupcakes dry slightly before topping with frosting.

Cherry Frosting
1 stick salted butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
8 maraschino cherries, chopped small enough to fit through piping tip
2 TBSPs of juice from a jar of maraschino cherries
4 cups powdered sugar

In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter and shortening together, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add maraschino cherries and juice; beat until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beat on med/high speed until light and fluffy. Pipe onto cupcakes and top with a cherry.

*Tip take the cherries you will be using for chopping and garnish out of the jar ahead of time and place them on a paper towel so the excess liquid can drain off.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Oh you lovely little pie! This was my husband's choice for Father's Day dessert. Rhubarb was a totally new experience for me. I mean is it a vegetable or is it a fruit? I actually read about it on Wikipedia because I didn't know. Apparently it's a vegetable, but is regulated as a fruit in the US. I needed this to be a really good pie, so I checked out "Bubby's Homemade Pies" from the library again to increase my pie knowledge. I always use the crust recipe from this book. You can find that here. I read about fruit pie thickening agents, flour vs cornstarch vs tapioca. Flour is typically used for firm fruits, and tapioca for berries, so I went with a recipe that uses a little of both. This recipe is a prize winning rhubarb pie, Taste of Home recipe that I adapted for strawberry rhubarb. I also learned some things about should look for firm slender stalks, and don't eat the leaves because they are toxic. You can read a little more about what Bubby says about cooling, storing, and reheating below.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
adapted from Taste of Home
Double pie crust
2 cups sliced fresh rhubarb
4 cups boiling water
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 TBSPs flour
1 tsp quick cooking tapioca
2 cups sliced strawberries
1 egg
2 tsps cold water
1 TBSP butter

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 9in. pie pan with bottom crust.
2. Place rhubarb in a colander; pour boiling water over rhubarb and allow to drain. In a large bowl mix sugar, flour, and tapioca. Add drained rhubarb and strawberries; toss to coat. Let stand for 15 minutes. In a small bowl whisk together egg and cold water; stir into fruit mixture.
3. Pour filling into crust; dot with butter. Place top crust over filling. Trim, seal, and flute edges. Cut slits in top. Bake 15 minutes.
4. Reduce oven to 350 degrees. Bake 40-50 minutes longer or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool on a wire rack.

Note: If using frozen rhubarb, measure rhubarb while frozen, then thaw. Drain in a colander, but do not press liquid out.

For Rhubarb Pie, use 4 cups of rhubarb, and increase sugar to 1 1/2 cups.

Cooling Fruit Pies
Allow time for your fruit pie to cool down thoroughly before serving. If you're impatient and cut into it straight from the oven, or before it is properly cooled, the hot filling juices - no matter how perfectly thickened - will gush to form a lake where a slice has been prematurely removed. Pie fillings thicken as they cool. Wait at least a couple of hours - preferably 3 or 4 before cutting into a pie. Early morning, when it's cool and quiet is a good time to make pies; they'll have ample time to set up by dinner.

Storing Fruit Pies
Refrigeration makes pastry crust soggy and should be avoided. In general, only refrigerate a pie if it contains animal products, excepting all fats and butter (my pie has an egg, but I left it on the counter anyway and I'm not dead). Double crust pastry needs to breathe in order to remain light and flaky. Double crust fruit pies should be stored uncovered at room temperature (I covered my leftover pie lightly with plastic wrap after eating).

Reheating Fruit Pies
To rejuvenate pies when refrigeration or humid weather or time has dampened your crust's crisp: Heat the pie at 350 degrees (5-7 min for a slice, 20 or so minutes for a whole pie). A microwave does more damage than good in reheating a pie. It transmogrifies the texture of the crust in ways that make it seem forth steamed and tough.

Bubby's Homemade Pies by Ron Silver and Jen Bervin
I absolutely love this book. I don't buy many cookbooks because of the wealth of recipes on the internet, but if this weren't available at my library, I'd buy it. It has so many yummy sounding recipes and I've loved all the ones I have tried. I also has tons of useful information.

Fruit ready to go.

 Waiting 15 minutes.

Here is what the tapioca looks like. I found it in the baking aisle next to the pudding mixes.

 Ready for the top crust.

 All sealed and fluted with a lovely slit pattern. :)


Time for a piece!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

This is a cookie recipe that I remember my mom making when I was a kid. I recently rediscovered it while going through a recipe box. It's a simple cookie made extra tasty with the addition of rum extract. If you don't have the rum extract though, you can just add a little more vanilla.

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp rum extract
2 tsps water
2 1oz squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup oats
1/2 cup pecans (optional)
Extra sugar for tops of cookies

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease or line cookie sheets.
2. Combine shortening, sugar, egg, vanilla, rum extract, and water; mix well.
3. Add melted chocolate and mix until combined.
4. In a separate bowl add flour, salt, and baking soda, oats, and nuts (if using); whisk to combine. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the shortening mixture. Mix until just combined.
5. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on cookie sheet about 2 in. apart. Dip a glass in sugar and flatten the tops of the dough balls slightly.
6. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheet, then remove to cooling rack.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Slow Cooker Pesto Ranch Chicken

I found another slow cooker chicken recipe I like that is different than the others I've posted. The original recipe uses 4 thighs, but I've adapted it to a 3lb. bag of frozen chicken, because that is the easy way to do it! We had 2 meals with this chicken, one with stuffing, and the other with noodles. I ended up loving the noodles! I just chopped up the leftover chicken and added it to some Pasta Roni. It had a lot of basil flavor and actually made my crock pot smell like pesto for a few days, so watch out for that! :)

Slow Cooker Pesto Ranch Chicken
adapted from
1 3lb. bag frozen chicken breasts
1 cup of basil pesto (I used an 8.1 oz jar)
1 pkg (.25oz) ranch dressing mix
1 cup chicken broth

Place chicken breasts into crock pot. Pour the pesto evenly over the chicken. Spread around a little to cover the chicken. Sprinkle the ranch dressing powder on top. Pour the chicken broth over the chicken. Close with lid and cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 8 hours.

Leftover Meal

Really good...really!

Basil Pesto

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Peanut Butter Candy Bar Squares

Oh my! These are the ultimate sweet. Cookies with candy, more candy, chocolate, and nuts! If you are a chocolate peanut butter lover you have to try these bars at least once in your life. :)

Peanut Butter Candy Bar Squares
adapted from
1 16oz. pkg Nutter Butter cookies, crushed
1/2 cup butter, melted
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 T vanilla extract
1 8oz. pkg Reese's peanut butter cup minis, coarsely chopped
1 3.9oz. pkg  Butterfinger candy bars (6 small candy bars), coarsely chopped
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup honey-roasted peanuts

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 13″x 9″pan with aluminum foil, allowing it to extend over edges of pan. Grease/spray foil.
2. Combine crushed cookies and butter. Press mixture into bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 6-8 minutes. 3. Combine condensed milk, peanut butter, and vanilla, stirring until smooth. Set aside.
4. Sprinkle chopped candy bars, chocolate chips, and peanuts over crust. Drizzle condensed milk mixture over toppings.
5. Bake for 25-27 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool in pan on wire rack. Using foil, lift out of pan. Peel foil away, and cut into bars.

Some of the ingredients.

Ready to bake.