Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tiny Patriotic Pies

Pie is good. Tiny pies are even better. Several weeks ago I found three little pie tins at a local thrift shop. They looked like they might have come out of a child's baking set- the kind I used to make mud pies in when I was little. They sat on my kitchen counter just waiting for inspiration. I could just imagine the little pies that could be made in them. Pies you could hold in your hand. Pies you could share with a friend.

 And then I saw them- in the checkout line at the grocery store, no less. On the cover of Martha Stewart Living magazine. Little patriotic pies. It didn't hurt that blueberries were on special and they were absolutely gorgeous, blue and plump.

It also didn't hurt that my grandson was visiting and he loves to help in the kitchen. He had made several requests over the last few days to use those little tins on the counter. ("Mimi- Could we make the tiny pies now?" ) It's not like my arm needed twisting or anything.

We ended up with these three little pies, all dressed up for Independence Day. (Not that these will ever see the 4th of July. They won't even see tomorrow!) Don't they look like they should be cooling on a windowsill somewhere? They were quite easy to put together, especially since I used the pie crust in a box. (Sorry Johnny.) And if you don't have three little pie pans, this lovely blueberry pie filling would be just as delicious in one big one. You'll just need a fork to eat it.

This post has been entered in Faith and Nutmeg Nanny's All Through the Year Cheer 4th of July event!

Blueberry Pie
adapted from this recipe at
For 3 tiny pies (5 inch diameter) you'll need:
2-3 cups fresh blueberries
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoons water, grape juice, or other berry juice (I used some blackberry juice that I'd just prepared for jam.)
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
Pie Crust (enough for double crust pie), unbaked
For one 9-inch pie, double all of the filling ingredients except for blueberries. Use about 4 cups of blueberries.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Line pie tin(s) with dough, trimming off excess from edges. Set aside.
  • Wash berries, discarding stems and mushy berries. Put in colander (lined with a towel) to drain.
  • Combine sugar and cornstarch. Stir in lemon juice and water or juice.
  • Arrange drained blueberries into prepared (unbaked) pie crust(s).
  • Pour sugar/liquid mixture evenly over the blueberries in the pie(s).
  • Cut remaining dough with a pastry cutter (or a Play-Doh Swiss Army knife if you can't find your pastry cutter) and a star shaped cookie cutter. Place dough strips and stars on top of blueberries in the pie shell(s). Press strips down onto the edges of the pie crust(s).
  • Brush exposed dough with a mixture of 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 Tablespoon milk. Make sure the mixture is well combined and that you don't put it on too thickly. Just a thin coating is best. Sprinkle with sugar (white or colored) if desired.
  • Bake for about 1 hour for one 9 inch pie, or about 40 minutes for three 5 inch pies. Before baking time is completely up, check to make sure pies are not browning too quickly. If they are getting brown too quickly, tent with aluminum foil.
  • Remove from oven when filling is bubbly and no longer cloudy. The crust should be lightly browned. Cool completely before slicing, if you can wait that long. Enjoy!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches, Waffle Style

When my friend Rita sends me a recipe, I know it's going to be a keeper. (She's the one responsible for delightfully simple and delicious recipes like Cake in a Mug and Heavenly Pineapple Cake .) When she shared her recipe for Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Waffle cookies on facebook the other night, it only took me one hour from inspiration to cleanup to finish the entire batch. We were munching cookies in record time- Talk about quick and easy!

The cookies were soft and cake-like when they first came out of the waffle iron, but crisped up a little as they cooled. They tasted curiously delicious just as they were, but I thought they would be superb with ice cream. The texture of the waffle cookies lent itself perfectly to pairing with a generous scoop in the middle- I used vanilla, but you could go for whatever flavor floats your boat. (You could even use homemade ice cream for an even more special treat.)

I individually wrapped mine and put them in the freezer. They're pretty steadily disappearing, but I'm not surprised, considering the sweltering heat we've been having here. I'll probably make another batch and hide them for later. You never know when you'll need a cool tiny treat from your stash in the freezer. Just remember- it's nice to share.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Waffle Cookie Sandwiches (printable recipe here)
cookie recipe from Rita
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons packed brown sugar (I used dark because that's what was already open.)
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup quick cooking oats
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (If you use regular size chips, chop them into small bits.)

  • Preheat waffle iron (I used the High setting on my George Foreman.)
  • Combine flour, baking soda, salt and oats. Set aside. 
  • Mix together butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla. 
  • Add flour mixture to butter mixture. Mix until combined.
  • Stir in chocolate chips.
  • Spray your waffle iron with Pam or brush with vegetable oil. (My waffle iron is non-stick, so I brushed on some oil one time before I started and didn't have a sticking problem. Depending on your waffle iron, you may need to repeat this.)
  • Using a small (about a Tablespoon) scoop, evenly space scoops of batter (dough?) onto your waffle iron. They do spread a little, so I suggest you space them far apart until you see how much room you have once they spread. I was able to do six cookies at a time.
  • Close the waffle iron and cook until batter is set and lightly browned. (This took just a little more than a minute for the small cookies.) Carefully remove cookies to a cooling rack.
  • Yield: about 3 dozen waffle cookies
To assemble ice cream sandwiches. Wait for waffle cookies to cool completely. Put a small scoop of slightly softened ice cream on one cookie, then top with another. Press lightly together. Tightly wrap in plastic and store in the freezer. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Hatched Henfruit

A little while back I wrote a post in honor of little Prissy, who was diligently setting a clutch of fifteen eggs. Last Friday, when I got home from work and looked for her under the azalea bush where she had been for three weeks, all I found was her nest full of eggshells. She already had her little brood out and about around in the yard pecking at this and that and whatever looked interesting.

 Aren't they just the cutest things? I love this photo. For some reason, every time I see it I want to say "Guess What?" to whoever is around.

I had been worried that we wouldn't have any chicks at all. Last Monday when I happened to catch Prissy off of her nest and peeked, there were only eight eggs instead of the fifteen that were originally there. I still don't know what happened to them- there was no evidence of broken shells. I attempted to move her, but she would have nothing to do with it. (Note to self: Don't mess with a setting hen!) But five fuzzy butts are enough for her to keep up with right now. Mama and babies are now in a safer place than the azalea bush, and are all doing well. I'm hoping for a few more hens!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Most Awesome Cinnamon Rolls You'll Ever Eat...And Eat...And Eat

Sweet, gooey, nutty, decadent- who could ask for more in a Cinnamon Roll? I've had my eye on Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls for a while, but I was so confident I'd eat them all myself I waited to make them until I was sure I'd have a houseful of people to help me. My opportunity came this weekend, with lots of family and friends here for a wedding. (And a beautiful wedding it was!) Everyone who sampled them gave them a "thumbs up" and then came back for more.

These were possibly the best Cinnamon Rolls I've ever had, and I'd definitely make them again for any occasion. I used Pioneer Woman's recipe and added my own twist, substituting my own Baking Spice Blend for the Cinnamon. The recipe makes lots enough to keep a houseful of people happy plus some left over to freeze for those occasions when you need to show people how much you love them. And when they taste these rolls, they'll love you right back. I guarantee.

Cinnamon Rolls with Baking Spice Blend (printable recipe here)

very slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman
(yield 50-60 rolls)
1 quart whole milk
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
2 pkg. active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
8 cups all-purpose flour + 1 cup all purpose flour
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1 scant teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon salt
2-4 sticks butter, melted (let your conscience be your guide)
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup Baking Spice Blend (recipe follows) or ground Cinnamon
Maple Frosting
2 pounds confectioners (powdered) sugar
1/2 cup milk
3/4 stick melted butter
1/4 cup brewed coffee (strong)
dash of salt
2-3  teaspoons maple flavor or extract
  • In a large pan (dutch oven size), mix together milk, oil and sugar. Scald mixture- heat until just before it boils. (Do not let the mixture boil.) Take off of heat and allow to cool until lukewarm. (Not hot!)
  • Sprinkle yeast on top of warm milk mixture and let set for a couple of minutes.
  • Stir in 8 cups of flour and let rise in a warm draft-free location for at least an hour.
  • After mixture has risen for at least an hour, stir in the remaining cup of flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. The dough is now ready to use or refrigerate for later- overnight up to a couple of days. (If you choose to refrigerate the dough, make sure you cover it and keep it in a container large enough to hold it when it rises. A 4 qt. bowl is not big enough- trust me. Punch it down occasionally.)
  •  Making the Rolls: 
  • Prepare pans. I used four 9x13 pans since I knew mine weren't going anywhere. Pioneer Woman uses 7 disposable round cake pans. This makes them easier to freeze and then deliver to lucky people for special occasions. Spread a tablespoon of melted butter into each pan you are using.
  • Separate the dough into two equal parts. On a generously floured surface, roll 1 part of the dough into a rectangle, approximately 10 x 30 inches. Spread with 1/2 to 1 cup of melted butter, 1 cup of sugar and about 2 Tablespoons of Baking Spice Blend or Cinnamon.
  • Starting on the long side farthest away from you, tightly roll the dough toward you. Pinch the seam sealed when you finish. Cut the roll about every inch or inch and a quarter. Place in prepared pans.
  • Repeat process with the other half of the dough. Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm draft-free place to rise- about 20-30 minutes.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 13-17 minutes, or until light golden brown. (Please do not overbake!)
  • While rolls bake, whisk together all of the ingredients for the frosting. It should be thick but still pourable. Pour over the warm rolls. 
Variation: Sprinkle chopped pecans over the rolls before drizzling the frosting. You could also sprinkle nuts or raisins onto the dough along with the sugar, butter and spices.

To Freeze: Method 1: Make rolls and place them in pans but do not allow them to rise. Wrap tightly with foil and freeze. To bake, thaw and rise. Frost as directed. Method 2: Freeze the pans of baked, frosted Cinnamon Rolls, tightly wrapped with foil. When ready to use, warm the frozen rolls in a 250 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Baking Spice Blend
6 Tablespoons cinnamon
1 Tablespoon ground allspice
1 Tablespoon dried orange peel
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Combine all ingredients and store in an airtight container. Use in recipes in place of cinnamon or other baking spices. Recipe makes about 1/2 cup of Baking Spice Blend.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bacon, Linguine and Tomato Toss

Are you one of those people who can walk into a tomato patch, pick a red ripe tomato, and eat it right there with warm tomato juice dripping off your elbow? I have to confess I'm not one of those people. I do love tomato sauce and even salsa to some extent, but I really can't say I'm a tomato lover. I think I was traumatized by a tomato worm at a tender age. The only exception is in late June or early July when the tomatoes first start ripening. That's when I crave a tomato and bacon sandwich with mayo- on soft white bread no less.

But I digress. Last weekend I went to a Pampered Chef party where the consultant whipped up this pasta dish to showcase some of her products. It was delicious! Bacon and tomatoes in a creamy sauce- it was like a BLT,  only pasta style.  I think it might just tide me over until I have that sandwich.

Quick, easy and tasty, I think it's a great meal to serve after a harried day at work when you don't have much time or energy. I chose to use high fiber whole wheat pasta and low fat cream cheese when I made it for dinner tonight. Do you think that made up for the extra bacon I threw in?

Bacon, Linguine and Tomato Toss
adapted from Pampered Chef
6 slices of bacon (I have to confess I used more than this)
1 qt. chicken broth
3 cups (or 2 small cans) diced tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 oz. cream cheese (low fat is fine)
12 oz. linguine (I used whole wheat)
1 oz. grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved (or another 1 cup diced tomatoes)
  • Dice bacon. Fry until crisp, remove from skillet and set aside. Pour all but about a tablespoon of bacon grease out of the skillet.
  • In the bacon grease left in the pan, cook the onion and garlic until onion is tender.
  • Add the 3 cups (or cans) of tomatoes and all of the broth to the onion mixture, and simmer until tomatoes are heated through.
  • Add the linguine, cover and simmer about 9-10 minutes.
  • Break or cut cream cheese into pieces. Stir into linguine-tomato mixture until melted.
  • Stir in the Parmesan cheese, reserved bacon and grape tomatoes.
  • Garnish with fresh basil if desired.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Red, White and Blue Berries

I know, I know...strawberries are so delicious on their own why mess with them? Well, because they're delicious AND cute when you mess with them, of course. I saw these patriotic strawberries on Baking Bites, and thought they would be great for a quick treat to take to summertime picnics. I made these for a Memorial Day picnic but they would be equally appropriate for the 4th of July. These are quick, easy, and you don't even have to turn on your oven.

The strawberries I used were HUGE! Some were the size of small apples, but you can use any size berries you can find in your grocery (or garden if you're lucky)! Here's how to make them:

You'll need:
Strawberries- As many as you plan to dip
1 pkg.white chocolate chips or white dipping chocolate (bark)- found with baking supplies
Blue sanding sugar or sprinkles (The kind you decorate cookies with)
  •  Wash your strawberries and let them dry thoroughly. Pat dry if necessary. Set aside.
  • Line a baking sheet or tray with wax paper or nonstick foil.
  •  Pour about half of the sanding sugar into a small bowl.
  • In another small bowl, melt white chocolate according to directions on package. I usually melt it in small increments in the microwave on low power until about 80% of it is melted. I then stir it until it is completely melted. If it is too thick, add about 1/2 teaspoon shortening (like Crisco) and stir until melted and smooth.
  • Holding a strawberry by the leaves on the stem end, dip into the white chocolate to cover about 2/3 of the berry. Let the excess chocolate drip back into the bowl. (If there's a "glob" of chocolate on the end of the berry, scrape it off onto the side of the bowl.)
  • Dip the bottom third of the chocolate covered berry into the blue sanding sugar.
  • Carefully place each berry onto the prepared tray or baking sheet to set.  (They will set quicker in the refrigerator.) Refrigerate until time to serve. These are best served the same day they are prepared!
This post has been linked to Faith and Nutmeg Nanny's All Through the Year Cheer 4th of July event!
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