Saturday, March 27, 2010

Who Knew: I Love Banana Cream Pie!

I've never really been drawn to banana cream pie. I'm not sure why but I guess I was just so uninterested in it that I assumed I didn't like it.

So then why did I make one, you might wonder. I think I just wanted to make the custard. Because I got a flat whisk and I wanted to use it. What can I say, shiny new kitchen utensils inspire me that way.

There are a bunch of slightly different ways to make custard. I pieced together a couple of different recipes to get one I likes. (It seems that in my pie studies I have gotten really opinionated about my thickeners.)

And lo and behold, I LOVED IT!

 Banana Cream Pie

9” or larger pre-baked pie shell*
2/3 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 cups milk
4 beaten egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ripe bananas

In a large saucepan combine milk, sugar, and cornstarch.

Heat over medium, stirring constantly, until thickeners

Stir a small amount of hot mixture into egg yolks

Stir yolks into hot mixture and cook 1 more minute

Remove from heat and blend in butter and vanilla, let it cool a bit

Slice bananas unto the bottom of pre-baked pie shell.

Pour cooled custard over bananas

Top with whipped cream. I whipped 2 cups of cream but 1 probably would have been enough.

*I used a 9” pie, and there was quite a bit of leftover custard and whipped cream so next time I will use my 9 ½” pyrex,but I am not sure if it is enough to fill a deep dish. Of course, you could ways fill in with more bananas if needed.

Like I mentioned, I had quite a bit of extra custard and whipped cream, so I bought some of those packaged dessert cups and had a couple more days of desserts topping them with sliced banana, custard, and whipped cream.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Do It For The Kiddies

There is a new badge posted on the very top of my sidebar. It's at the top because I hope everyone will notice it. It is for Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Petition.

Yes, this is related to his new TV show. I watched the preview Sunday, it wasn't bad. But whether you will watch the show or not, you should sign the petition.

Today's kids are eating too much crap. Too many of them are overweight. Too many of them will have health problems. And America's School Lunch Program is not helping, because too much cheap crappy food gets funneled into this guaranteed buyer.

Many of America's poorest children depend on the program for 10 meals a week. Instead of dumping our excess cheap food into them, we should be taking the opportunity to teach them to eat better.
The show demonstrated that many of these kids are eating processed foods, like chicken nuggets, several times a week but won't eat a marinated and baked piece of chicken. Many won't even try it.

Taste is (mostly) cultivated. Kids who grow up eating junk will continue to eat junk in adulthood, and suffer the consequences. We cannot determine what children eat at home, but by serving high quality healthy meals at school we can make sure these a taste for healthy choices is cultivated which will lead to a lifetime of better eating and better health.

So click on the badge, it will take you right to the website where you can sign the petition to show your support for improving America's school food.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Simple Vegetarian Chili Cheese Dip

My Mom makes this dip when we watch movies.

The first time I made it was in college, my roommate put together a little holiday pot-luck get together at out apartment. But I still had one paper to do before finals were over, and being me I had stayed up the whole night before working on it and was still working on it thru the party- until midnight when it was due. My Mom told me to make this because it is so easy but everyone loves it.

It is incredibly good. Dangerously good. I can only make a half batch about twice a year because I will eat every last bite.

Simple Vegetarian Chili Cheese Dip

8oz Cream Cheese

15oz can Vegetarian Chili

8oz or 2 cups shredded Cheddar, Co-jack, Cheddar-jack (Basically, whatever cheese sounds good to you)

For Serving:

Tortilla Chips

Shredded lettuce (optional)

Spread cream cheese in an even layer across the bottom of pie or square casserole dish

Layer chili over the top

Sprinkle cheese evenly over the chili

Bake at 350º for approx 25min, until cheese is melted and chili is bubbling underneath

Serve with chips. I also like to eat it with shredded lettuce. Because I'm really into health food like that.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patty's Day Treat For Grown-Ups: Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

A few weeks back I got the idea to make some Irish Car Bomb cupcakes, after making a Stout Chocolate Cake from Smitten Kitchen for a friends birthday. I love Irish Car Bombs and couldn't help but think cupcakes with irish crème filling and a whiskey glaze sounded pretty awesome.

Since it was so close to St. Patty's day, I waited it out and brought them in as a holiday treat for my co-workers. I wasn't sure how the whiskey glaze would go over, I even make these back-up cupcakes: the same stout cake with a simple irish crème frosting.

Both were gobbled up,but the back-up's were totally unnecessary. These Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes were a hit! They were also clearly more popular then the back-ups.

Stout Cake – makes 24 cupcakes

1 cup stout beer

1 cup/2 sticks unsalted butter

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1 ½ tsp baking soda

¾ tsp salt

2 eggs

2/3 cup sour cream

Irish Crème Filling

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 Tbsp powdered sugar

1/3 cup Irish Crème

Whiskey Glaze

2 Tbsp Butter

2 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup Whiskey (Irish whiskey would be most appropriate, but honestly it's not what I used)

The directions on smitten kitchen say to bring the beer and butter to a simmer over medium heat, the whisk in cocoa until smooth and cool. The First time I made this cake I didn't notice this complicated step and just mixed everything together. This time I did it correctly. I am not convinced this makes a difference. Proceed according to your own discretion. I probably won't bother to do it again.

Whisk together dry ingredients. Add eggs, sour cream and butter and beer or chocolate mixture depending on how you did it. Mix just until combined.

Fill muffin tins ¾ or a little more full. I recommend using papers because this cake is moist and can be hard to work with if it's not wrapped in something.

Bake at 350º for 15-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, beak together filling ingredients until soft peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.

When cupcakes are cool make a slice in the top with a knife. Fill a pastry bag with flavored whipped cream, using a small tip. Insert in the slot made in the top of the cupcake. Fill slowly, just until cupcake starts to spread open a bit like it might break in half if you keep going.

Simply mix together ingredients for whisky glaze with a spoon until combined*. Spread or decoratively drizzle over the cake tops.

*Warning: This glaze will smell pretty strong. The end product DOES taste like whiskey, but in a good way, so don't be afraid.

(For the back-up cupcake frosting I simply beat together 2 Tbsp softened butter with 2 oz softened cream cheese and 2/3 cup powdered sugar. I mixed this with 2 cups of the same whipped cream mixture I used to fill the Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes. This produced a very soft and light frosting. I dropped a spoonful on each cupcake (no filling) and spread it a little bit by gently pressing with the back of a spoon.)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

C-fun's Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cake Mix Cookies

I have a friend I like to call C-fun. In my opinion, she has a few signature desserts. They have a theme: chocolate and peanut butter.

Chocolate and peanut butter pie, chocolate covered peanut butter truffles, and the cake mix peanut butter chocolate chip cookies I'm writing about now.

She says she likes this recipe because it's consistent, the cookies always come out good. I like it because it makes a softer peanut butter cookie that doesn't crumble into a million pieces as soon as you take a bite. Plus it is super easy because the cake mix means very little measuring.

But I warn you, they are addictive.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cake Mix Cookies

1 box white cake mix

2 eggs

1/3 cup water

¼ cup softened butter

15oz jar creamy peanut butter

12oz chocolate chips (I used ½ milk, ½ semi-sweet)

Pre-heat oven to 375º

Scramble eggs with water

Whip to combine with butter

Add half the box of cake mix and peanut butter and beat until light and fluffy

Add second half of cake mix and stir until mostly combined

Add chocolate chips and continue stirring until thoroughly combined

Drop onto greased cookie sheet by rounded teaspoonfuls (I used a medium cookie scoop)

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until done

Cool on cookie sheet about 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

For When Life Gets Busy: A Simple, Delicious Vegetable Pasta

I love dishes that are able to deliver a lot of flavor with just a few simple ingredients.

It's especially important to have a few of these favorites around when life gets busy, and February was an especially busy month for me.

Here's a quick and simple pasta I threw together. A local food columnist I read religiously suggested flavoring simply with garlic and crushed red pepper. I wanted a more balanced dish so thought it would be good to add some vegetables, zucchini and grape tomatoes are two of my favorites and I almost always have them on hand.

Next time I think I will try it with a bit of lemon juice too.

Simply Delicious Vegetable Pasta

4-6 cloves garlic, depending on the size
2 tsp crushed red pepper
2 zucchini, cut into halved thin slices
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 lb strand pasta (like spaghetti or capellini)
2 tbsp olive oil

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large sauté pan, allow it to get warm but not too hot

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta and cook according to package directions, reserving a cup of pasta water when it is finished.

When oil is warm add garlic to the oil and cook just until flavor, and scent, is released. Be careful not to burn it!

Add zucchini and toss to coat with oil. Cook until it softens and begins to turn translucent.

Add tomatoes. Cook just a couple minutes until they warm thru and begin to soften. Add 2 tsp of crushed red pepper and toss with vegetables.

Add 1 Tbsp of water to pan to deglaze if necessary. Pour cooked vegetables over cooked pasta, being sure to get any oil left behind and all the bits of garlic and crushed red pepper.

Drizzle remaining Tbsp of oil over pasta and toss gently with tongs to combine. If pasta is too dry add more of the reserved pasta water.

I recommend serving topped with parmesan cheese.

I will also be posting this recipe (as I plan to do with all my pasta recipes) on this week's Presto Pasta Nights. For the 3rd anniversary of the pasta round-up it will be hosted by it's creator at Once Upon a Feast. So look for it and a bunch of other delicious pastas this Fri.