Sunday, July 25, 2010

Blueberry Pie

Now that is a Pie!



As I mentioned in an earlier post, Zack turned 30 last weekend and he is not a cake person. Easy enough for me, I made pie. Believe it or not I have not made too many pies in my life. Prior to the three I made for Zack's birthday I had only made three, Frozen Lemonade Pie, Frozen Coconut Pie, and a Pecan Pie. Based on my limited experience with pie, I think they are quite a bit easier than cakes. This was my first pie with a double crust; I thought it would be pretty to make the lattice on top and it was surprisingly easy. I am not very skilled at making pretty edges, so I used some of the extra dough and a small cookie cutter to cut out shapes for the edges. I was really pleased with the taste and the look of this pie. Just add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you are set!

Blueberry Pie
recipe from Allrecipes.com

3/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cups fresh blueberries
1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie (see the recipe I used below)
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).


Mix sugar, cornstarch, salt, and cinnamon, and sprinkle over blueberries.
Line pie dish with one pie crust. Pour berry mixture into the crust, and dot with butter. Cut remaining pastry into 1/2 - 3/4 inch wide strips, and make lattice top. Crimp and flute edges. Bake pie on lower shelf of oven for about 50 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

Bakers note: I covered the edges of the pie for the first
forty minutes w/ foil so it would not get too dark and removed it for the last 10 minutes.

Vodka Pie Crust
recipe from Cook's Illustrated

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening , cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup vodka , cold
1/4 cup cold water

Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

Bakers Note: I have prepared this recipe in the food processor and by hand using a pastry cutter. It is definitely easier with the food processor, but tastes just as great doing it by hand. This is by far the best pie crust I have ever tasted!


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sparkling Peach Sangria...back to dessert tomorrow

This is my all-time favorite drink.



I seriously love it and could drink it everyday. That would require me drinking an entire bottle of wine, and I just can't do that (well maybe if I tried, but that is not in Zack's best interest, hehe). I wanted to share this with you because I love serving it at parties and I really think it is amazing. Dessert will be back tomorrow. For now, relax and pour yourself a glass!

Note: I usually double the recipe below for a party.


Sparkling Peach Sangria
from Baked Perfection

1 bottle sparkling white wine, chilled (i.e Prosecco, Cava, Asti)
1/2 33.8 oz bottle Looza Peach Nectar, chilled
1 cup frozen peaches
1 cup frozen mixed berries

Pour all ingredients in a pitcher, stir, serve.

Note: I use frozen fruit to help keep the drink cold. Feel free to use fresh, but then you may want to keep this in the fridge to serve chilled.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lemon Cupcakes with Blueberry Meringue Buttercream

Birthday Cupcakes!



Yesterday was my wonderful husband's birthday and we celebrated with friends and food. Unfortunately for me, my husband is not too fond of cake...or cupcakes. Don't get too worked up though, I made pie for him and it turned out great! I will post all THREE of the pies I made soon, but in the meantime here are some cupcakes I made last month for our friend John's 3oth birthday.

You may notice from the color scheme in the pictures that John is quite the Auburn enthusiast. His wife, my great friend Leslie, asked me to make Auburn colored cupcakes and that was the only specification. Since I wanted to make blue frosting I immediately thought to make a blueberry frosting and I love lemon and blueberry together. These cupcakes turned out great! Everybody loved them which was evidenced by their blue smiles :)

Lemon Cupcakes
from Baked Perfection

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
4 teaspoons grated lemon zest
4 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sour cream

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla; mix well. Add the flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream (batter will be thick). Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups with 1/4 cup of batter. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.


Blueberry Meringue Buttercream
recipe adapted from www.marthastewart.com

4 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) blueberry jam, pureed in a food processor
Blue Food Coloring

In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine egg whites and sugar. Cook, whisking constantly, until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch (about 160 degrees).


Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg-white mixture on high speed until it holds stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until the mixture is fluffy and cooled, about 6 minutes.


Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium-low speed, add butter several tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. (If frosting appears to separate after all the butter has been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again, 3 to 5 minutes more.) Beat in vanilla. Beat on lowest speed to eliminate any air bubbles, about 2 minutes. Stir in blueberry jam with a rubber spatula until frosting is smooth. Add food coloring until you reach desired color.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Frozen Coconut Pie

If you can't take the heat...don't turn on the oven!



When Zack and I were back in West Virginia visiting the family I did one of my favorite things while I was there...I sifted through my mother-in-laws cookbooks and recipes. I came across this recipe for Frozen Coconut Pie and showed it to Zack. He and I just had to taste it immediately. His parents were hosting their annual 4th of July Party the next day; a perfect occasion for this pie. We went out right then and bought the ingredients. This pie is so simple and soooo tasty! The original recipe does not call for toasting the coconut or sprinkling any on top, so this can really be a no oven recipe. I prefer the flavor of toasted coconut, so I was able to handle the heat.

Frozen Coconut Pie
recipe adapted from Kraft Philadelphia Desserts and More

4 ounces softened cream cheese
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup toasted sweetened coconut flakes*
1 tub (8 ounce) Cool Whip, thawed
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 graham cracker pie crust (homemade or store-bought)**

Beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Gradually add milk, beating well after each addition. Stir in 1 1/4 cups toasted coconut, whipped topping and extracts. Spoon into crust. Top with remaining coconut.

Freeze for four hours or until firm. Remove pie from freezer about fifteen minutes before serving. Let stand at room temperature until pie can be cut easily. Store leftover in freezer.

* To toast coconut: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread flaked coconut on non-greased cookie sheet. Toast in oven, stirring every five minutes, until it turns light golden, about 15-20 minutes.

** To make homemade graham cracker pie crust:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
7 tablespoons butter, melted

In medium bowl, combine cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup of sugar, and the melted butter. Press firmly on bottom and up sides of pie plate. Bake for 7 minutes and let cool completely.