Coconut Cream Pie

Since I made a not so classic coconut cream pie, I decided to conquer a more classic version. This wonderful pie has a nice thick coconut custard base with a fluffy meringue and toasted coconut on top. It looked much prettier in person than it does in the pictures, and the taste was unbelievable. It made me want to bake even more custard based pies!

RECIPE: Coconut Cream Pie
Makes 1 Pie

SUPPLIES NEEDED:DSCF4255
Mixer
Food Processor
Spoon
Bowls
Pot
Oven heated to 375
Baking Pan
Pie Dish
Spatula
Tea Pot
Cooling Rack

INGREDIENTS: 
1 Stick Butter
1 Packet Graham Crackers
4 Egg Yolks
4 Egg Whites
Pint of Heavy Cream
2 Ounces White Sugar
Vanilla
Salt
Shredded Coconut
Sugar

DIRECTIONS:
DSCF42591)  Begin heating a tea pot of water on the stove.
2) Separate the 4 eggs so that the four yolks go into a bowl, and the four egg whites go into a mixer bowl.
3) Mix two ounces of white sugar into the egg yolks.
4) In a pan, begin heating together the the heavy cream, a dash of vanilla, and a pinch of salt.
5) In another bowl, melt the stick of butter. DSCF4261
6) Grind up one packet of graham crackers and mix them thoroughly with the butter before pressing the mixture into a pie dish.
7) When the heavy cream mixture is warm, slowly begin pouring it into the egg yolk and sugar mixture, stirring constantly at an even pace as you sprinkle in 1/2 a cup to 1 cup of shredded coconut.
8) Pour the mixture into the graham cracker crust and place on the baking sheet. DSCF4262
9) Pour the water out of the tea pot into the baking sheet until its about 1/2 way up the pie dish.
DSCF426310) Place in the oven and set the timer for 15 minutes.
11) While the custard starts baking, figure out the weight of your egg whites. If you have two mixing bowls, just zero the scale with an empty one, and then switch it with the filled one.
12) Begin beating the egg whites. When the egg whites are soft peaks, begin slowly adding an equal amount of white sugar to them as you continue to beat. This is why you need to know the weight of the egg whites!
13) When the meringue hits solid peaks (but not over beaten), wait for the timer to beep. Once it beeps, open the oven and scoop the meringue over the pie and sprinkle it with more coconut!
14) Close the oven and let it bake for another 5-10 minutes until the coconut begins toasting and the meringue is just the lightest shade of golden brown.
15) Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool on a rack before moving it to the fridge.

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Peanut Butter Balls

This recipe is technically known in my family as Peanut Butter Eggs, since they are always made as an Easter Dessert. Because I dared to be different, and made these during the off season, they are now peanut butter balls! My husband loves all things peanut butter and chocolate, but this recipe is officially his favorite. He likes these better than even peanut butter cups!

According to family tradition, this recipe is supposed to be mixed by hand. And when I say by hand, I mean with your hands! No utensils or anything! But when you just got off work, and don’t feel like spending the whole night picking peanut butter out from under your nails, you can cheat and use a mixer. Just don’t tell my mom!

RECIPE: Peanut Butter Balls
Makes 5 Dozen or So

SUPPLIES NEEDED:DSCF4239
Mixer
Scoop
Wax Paper
Pot or Double Boiler
Spoons or Forks
Fridge
Baking Sheets
or
Plastic Container

INGREDIENTS: 
1/2 Pound Margarine
1 teaspoon Vanilla
8 ounces Cream Cheese
2 Lbs Confectioner’s (Powdered) Sugar
18 ounces Peanut Butter (Smooth)
Bitter Sweet or Dark Chocolate
Paraffin Wax

DIRECTIONS:
DSCF42411) If doing the hand method, add everything at once to a large bowl or bucket and continue mixing and squeezing the mixture until its all fully incorporated (Except the chocolate and paraffin wax of course!)
2) If doing the mixer method, cream together the cream cheese, margarine, peanut butter, and vanilla on low.
3) Slowly beat in the confectioners sugar on a low setting. If you do it on a high setting, you will turn your kitchen white with sugar.
4) Keep mixing until everything is fully incorporated and you have a mixture that vaguely reminds you of play dough. DSCF4244
5) Use a cookie scoop to create even size balls of the peanut butter mixture. Lay these out on a baking sheet or in a plastic container covered in wax paper. As long as there is wax paper between each layer, you can stack these.
6) Chill the peanut butter balls either in the fridge or freezer.
DSCF42457) In a pot or double boiler over low, melt together the chocolate and paraffin wax. You can do any type of chocolate you want, but you don’t want milk chocolate. Milk chocolate is not real chocolate and is unacceptable for this recipe!
8) Using spoons or forks, dip the peanut butter balls in the chocolate and evenly coat them before placing on wax paper.
9) Let dry and then store in the fridge or freezer. I like them in the freezer because the first bite into the almost frozen peanut butter is the best thing ever.

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My mom is definitely better at chocolate work than I am, but I figured if I keep practicing my peanut butter balls will one day be as smooth and beautiful as hers. Also, I will admit that I sometimes eat these for breakfast because they are so tempting and delicious. unnamed

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I found a new recipe for chocolate chip cookies that was a bit different than the usual Toll house recipe. With it being a long weekend, I figured I would give it a try. This recipe is definitely softer rather than chewy, and while not my favorite recipe overall, I could see this being a favorite for someone who enjoys slightly cakey, fluffy, soft cookies!

RECIPE: Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 3-4 Dozen

SUPPLIES NEEDED:DSCF4317
Measuring Utensils
Mixer
Baking Sheets
Silicon Mats
Cooling Rack
Oven heated to 350
Spatula
Cookie Scoop

INGREDIENTS: 
5 oz Margarine
4 oz White Sugar
4 oz Brown Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon Salt
2 Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla
10 oz Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
Bag of Chocolate Chips

DIRECTIONS:
DSCF43201) Cream together the margarine and both kinds of sugar in the mixer.
2) Slowly beat in the salt, eggs, and vanilla.
3) Add the flour and baking soda while mixing until a good cookie dough is formed.
4) Stir in gently a bag of chocolate chips. I went with the 80% bitter sweet chips just to make these cookies seem a little fancier. IMG_3112

5) 
Use a cookie scoop to scoop the dough onto a lined baking sheet.
6) Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.
7) Remove from sheet, the bottoms should be golden in color, and let cool on a cooling rack.
8) Once cool, store in air tight glass containers. These will stay fresh for about a week if stored properly.

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Please note, the number of servings depends on the size of the cookies. I went with smaller cookies to maximize the recipe yield and to reduce the guilt when I ate more than one at once.

Layer Dip

This is not your usual layer dip, and by the time we had walked to our friend’s house, it wasn’t much off a layered dip. But no matter if the layers hold or not, this is a delicious dip! The yogurt ranch with homemade bean puree makes this Mexican inspired dip like nothing you have ever tasted. You can add more of less hot peppers depending on your desired level of spice!

RECIPE: Layer Dip
Makes 2 Servings

SUPPLIES NEEDED:DSCF1397
Baking Dish
Can Opener
Cutting Board
Knife
Food Processor
Bowl
Spoon
Spatula
Pan
Cheese GraterDSCF1401

INGREDIENTS: 
Onion
Garlic
Pinto Beans
Cumin
Paprika
Chili Powder
Cilantro
Diced Tomatoes
Cheddar Cheese
Pepper Jack Cheese
Yogurt
Parsley
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Hot Sauce


DIRECTIONS:

1) Chop garlic and onion and start cooking it in a cast iron pan.
2) Once the onions and garlic are becoming translucent, drain and add a can of pinto beans.
3) Season with paprika, chili powder, and cumin.

4) In a bowl, combine plain yogurt, parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, and a dash of hot sauce. This will make a spicy yogurt ranch.
5) In a food processor, process the bean mixture until smooth.
6) Grate half a block of each kind of cheese.
7) In a baking dish, layer ranch, beans, tomatoes, cheese mix, hot peppers, and then repeat.

8) Once you get to the party, stick it in an oven until all warmed and the cheese is melted!
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Consume this with tortilla chips or scoop it on top of a taco or burrito for a little extra fun. It is also a perfect companion dip for margaritas!

Green Cream Pasta Dinner

My favorite father in law came to visit the other weekend! We had lots of good food while he was here, but this was a dinner I had a little too much fun experimenting with. I call it green cream sauce, because it is a mix of different green vegetables made into a thick cream sauce for on top of pasta! The chicken would probably be great cut up into the sauce, but I was getting hungry and just wanted to eat!

RECIPE: Green Cream Pasta Dinner
Makes 3 Servings

SUPPLIES NEEDED:DSCF4278
Cast iron pans
Pot
Oven heated to 375
Baking Sheet
Spatula
Meat Thermometer
Brush

INGREDIENTS: 
Angel hair pasta
Italian bread dough
Garlic Oil
Parmesan Cheese
Chard
Green Onions
Green Tomatoes
Garlic
Cream Cheese
Skim Milk
Chicken Thighs or Breast
Salt
Pepper
Butter (for table)

DIRECTIONS:
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1) In a hot cast iron pan, sear chicken breasts on one side, flip, season with salt and pepper, and then stick it in the oven.
2) Chop up lots of chard, a few green onions, a large green tomato, a handful of garlic cloves.
3) Slowly cook together all of the vegetables on a low temperature.
4) Take the bread dough and shape it into lots of long skinny bread sticks.
5) Brush the bread sticks with garlic oil and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese before placing in the oven to bake (10 minutes).
6) Boil a pot of water and cook the pasta as directed.

DSCF42867) Break apart the cream cheese and add it to the vegetables. Pour in some skim milk to help thin it out and melt.
8) Stir the cream sauce and vegetables.
9) Remove the chicken after it the meat thermometer tells you it has reached the all clear level of heat (165 degrees)!
10) Pour the chicken juice in the pan into the pasta sauce and stir.
11) Drain the pasta and serve topped with sauce and a chicken breast/thigh on the side. Place a bowl of bread sticks and spreadable butter on the table as well.

DSCF4287

 

All the fresh green vegetables helped to make the thick cream sauce feel light and fresh, which is hard to do! This meal is perfect for the end of a busy day, where you just want to reach a comfy level of full and then watch Spaceballs on the couch.

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Pizza Dippers

I have made pizza bites before, but I thought I would change it up this time. These pizza dippers are a nice snack or appetizer. They are a nice alternative to buying pizza bagels, mozzarella sticks, or other delicious appetizer options.

RECIPE: Pizza Dippers
Makes 4 Appetizer Servings

SUPPLIES NEEDED:DSCF4268
Cast iron pans
Oven heated to 375
Cutting Board
Knife
Spoon
Serving plate and bowl

INGREDIENTS: 
Pizza Dough
Mozzarella Cheese
Garlic Oil
Parmesan Cheese
Tomato Paste
Oregano
Basil
Sage
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder

DIRECTIONS:
1) Cut the mozzarella cheese into cubes.
2) Pinch off bits of dough large enough to wrap around the cheese.
3) Place the cheese filled ball dough into a cast iron pan.

DSCF42744) Once the cast iron pan is filled, drizzle or brush with garlic oil and Parmesan cheese.
5) Place the baking dish into the oven.
6) In another pan, combine the tomato paste with the oregano, basil, sage, garlic powder, and onion powder.
7) Thin the sauce if you want using a bit of water, white wine, or hot pepper juice. This is optional, I think the thick sauce goes well.
8) When the dough is down baking and is nicely browned, remove from the oven and serve on a plate.
9) Pour the final dipping sauce into a bowl to go with the dippers! DSCF4276
Once you dip these bites and pop them into your mouth, you will swear that you are eating a fresh pizza right out of the oven!

Banana Bread Experiment

I like banana bread, and was in the mood to try a new recipe. After googling and looking at different recipes, I realized I wasn’t craving the sugary sweet version of banana bread that is popular. I wanted a savory, hearty, banana bread that could be served with the meal instead of as dessert. So I decided to wing it, and see what the result was!

RECIPE: Banana Bread Experiment
Makes 3 small Loaves

SUPPLIES NEEDED:DSCF1167
Mixer
Scale
3 mini baking pans
Oven heated to 375

INGREDIENTS: 
10 oz Overripe Bananas (3 bananas)
4 oz Eggs (2 medium eggs)
2 Tablespoon Robust Molasses
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
Salt
5 oz White Flour
5 oz Whole Wheat Flour
Grease

DIRECTIONS:
DSCF11691) In a mixer, begin beating the banana and eggs together until a single texture.
2) Slowly beat in the molasses. The molasses flavor will compliment the whole wheat flour, while allowing the natural banana sugars to be the main sweetener.
3) Add in the baking powder, baking soda, a pinch of salt, and both flours.
4) Grease the mini loaf pans before pouring in the batter.
5) Bake until done, which was between 15 and 25 minutes (I forgot to write it down, sorry!) You can test for done-ness based on color and inserting a toothpick into the bread.
6) Let cool briefly before removing from the loaf pans.

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Serve immediately, or wrap them to put in the freezer. These whole wheat banana breads have a hearty filling flavor. I would definitely make them again this winter, to perhaps be served along with an extra thick beef stew.

Fried Green Tomatoes

If you live in the south, you better cook like you live in the south! Besides being an iconic movie, fried green tomatoes are available at almost down home southern style restaurant in my area (and living in the south, there are a lot of those restaurants). Since the farmer’s market had some green tomatoes for sale, I thought I would try my hand at frying some up.

RECIPE: Fried Green Tomatoes 
Makes 2 Servings

SUPPLIES NEEDED:DSCF4249
Knife
Cutting Board
Spatula
Three Bowls
Serving Plate
Cast iron pan

INGREDIENTS: 
Green Tomatoes
Flour
Egg
Bread Crumbs
Salt
Pepper
Crisco

DIRECTIONS:
1) Slice the green tomatoes into desired thickness. I like them a bit on the thick side, while my husband likes them thinner.
2) In the small bowls, fill one with flour, another with egg, and a third with bread crumbs with a bit of black pepper mixed in.
3) Melt the crisco in the cast iron pan and get it hot.

4) Dip each slice of green tomato into the flour, then the egg, and then finally into the bread crumbs before dropping them into the oil.
5) Flip the green tomatoes so each side browns evenly.
6) Put the fried green tomatoes onto a plate, and lightly salt them before serving.
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These fried green tomatoes were so tasty that they ended up being dinner instead of an appetizer! They are so simple to make, but such a unique flavor.

Bratwurst Pizza

There is nothing better than experimenting with pizza toppings! This pizza was an idea that my husband came up with, and it was executed in a quite tasty manner. With chard, cider brats, and spring onions, this pizza is a German interruption of a classic Italian dinner.

RECIPE: Bratwurst Pizza
Makes 2 Servings

SUPPLIES NEEDED:DSCF4227
Cast iron pans
Spatula
Cutting Board
Cheese Grater
Can Opener
Cutting Board
Knife
Heated oven or grill

INGREDIENTS: 
2 Bratwurst
1 Bottle Hard Cider
Spring Onion
Chard
Mozzarella
Oregano
Fresh Basil
Garlic
Pizza Dough
Onion

DIRECTIONS:
1) In a hot cast iron pan, sear the bratwurst on both sides.
2) Lower the heat and pour 3/4 of a bottle of cider over the brats and add in a chopped up spring onion.
3) In another pan, mix together tomato paste, diced tomatoes, and the last quarter of the hard cider.
4) Season the tomato sauce with oregano, three cloves of garlic, and fresh basil. Let simmer.

5) Remove the cooked brats from the pan and slice them on a cutting board.
6) Rip the chard and drop it into the pan where the brats had been cooking, turn off the heat, and let it wilt just a little bit in the residual heat.
7) Shred the mozzarella cheese.
8) Spread out the dough for either a pizza or a cal zone.

9) Add sauce to the dough, then layer with cheese, and finally top it with the slice bratwurst, the spring onion, and the wilted chard.
10) Bake on a hot grill or in a heated oven.

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I apologize for the lack of final pictures. Once these came off the grill, we just sat down and enjoyed dinner outside with the sunset. I didn’t even think about going in to grab my camera. Sorry!

 

Root Beer Float

This is a lazy recipe, but sometimes its fun to be lazy! Root beer floats are so refreshing and delicious, especially on a hot day. This recipe is our last minute version of a root beer float, if we had planned ahead it would have been homemade ice cream.

RECIPE: Root Beer Float
Makes 2 Servings

SUPPLIES NEEDED:DSCF1322
Straws
Fancy cups
Ice Cream Scoop
Mixture

INGREDIENTS: 
Vanilla
Heavy Cream
Powdered Sugar
Root Beer
Vanilla Ice Cream

DIRECTIONS:
1) In a kitchen aid mixer, pour in some heavy cream, a dash of vanilla, and a teaspoon of powdered sugar.
2) Beat the mixture on high until a nice fluffy heavy cream is formed.
3) Scoop the vanilla ice cream into a metal cup with a straw.

4) Pour root beer over the ice cream.
5) Top the mixture with a heavy dollop of whipped cream!

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Honestly, I think the homemade whip cream is the best part of this entire meal! I can’t wait to try this again with homemade vanilla ice cream.