Saturday, March 31, 2012

Key Lime Pie

Yesterday I made the best Key Lime Pie! It is the perfect blend of sweet and tart. Instead of the usual graham cracker crust I decided to make a pretzel crust. In my mind I just thought that the saltiness of the pretzels would blend well with the key lime pie (think margaritas) and it did. MMMM!!! There are some good picnic holidays coming up - Memorial Day, 4th of July.... Make this and you will be the hit of the party!

Key Lime Pie with Pretzel Crust

Ingredients for the Pretzel Crust:
1 1/2 cups crushed pretzels
3 tbs sugar
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, melted

Instructions for the Pretzel Crust:
Preheat oven to 350. Combine all the crust ingredients. Mix well and press into a deep dish pie plate. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until just starting to color.

Leave the oven on.

Ingredients for the Key Lime Pie:
2 14 oz cans sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup key lime juice (I squeezed the limes with a garlic press. It worked well.)
1 tbs lime zest (zest limes before cutting and squeezing)

Instructions for the Key Lime Pie:
Preheat oven to 350. Combine all of the filling ingredients. Mix well. Pour into prepared crust. Bake for 15 minutes. You do not want it to color.

Cool to room temperature and then chill thoroughly - at least 3 hours - before serving.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tortilla Pie

To continue my week of pie posts I made another savory selection tonight: Tortilla Pie. I think it came out really good and so did the people I made it for. It will definitely be added to the dinner rotation.

Tortilla Pie
1 lb lean ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning
¾ cup water
1 can pinto beans, undrained
¼ cup diced onion
1 diced plum tomato
2 cloves garlic,, minced
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
1 chipotle chili from a can of chipotle chilies in adobe, finely chopped
1 16 oz jar salsa
1 avocado
2 tsp lime juice
2-3 tbs chopped cilantro
Salt to taste
8 burrito grande size flour tortilla
12 ounces shredded Mexican blend or cheddar cheese
For garnish: sour cream, chopped cilantro, fresh chopped jalapenos and remaining salsa

Preheat oven to 350.

Brown beef and drain off fat. Add the taco seasoning and water. Simmer, stirring occasionally until the liquid is absorbed. Set aside.

For the beans, saute the onion, tomato and garlic in a nonstick skillet for 2-3 minutes to soften. Add the beans with their liquid. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, pepper and the chipotle chili. Mash with a potato masher until fairly smooth but with some texture. Bring to a simmer. Cook until it is the constancy of peanut butter, about 10 minutes. (It may splatter, I cover it with a splatter screen). Set aside.

Mash the avocado with the lime juice, cilantro and salt to taste.

I cover the baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Place a tortilla on parchment. Cover with ½ of the beef mixture. Sprinkle the3 beef with some of the cheese. Top with a second tortilla. Spread 1/3 cup salsa over it. Top with another tortilla. Spread ½ of the bean mixture over top. Sprinkle the beans with some of the cheese. Top the beans with a tortilla. Spread all of the avocado mixture over the tortilla. Top the avocado mixture with another tortilla, then with remaining meat. Sprinkle meat with some cheese. Place another tortilla over top and spread with 1/3 cup salsa then another tortilla. Spread with the remaining bean mixture and sprinkle with some cheese. Top with the final tortilla. Spread the top with 1/3 cup salsa. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Serve topped with sour cream, remaining salsa, chopped cilantro, chopped fresh jalapenos.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Shepherds Pie

To continue with this weeks pie theme I made shepherds pie for dinner tonight. I had to keep it mostly low carb but it still came out great with everybody having seconds and my 10 year old daughters asking me to make it again soon.

When they ask for it again you know it has to be good!

Preheat oven to 400.

For the "mashed potatoes":

1 head cauliflower
1 medium potato
2 tbs butter
2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the cauliflower into florets. Place in a steamer. Peel and cube the potato. Add to the cauliflower. Steam the vegetables for 10 minutes. Drain well and then place in a food processor. Process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the butter, cheese and egg. Add salt and pepper to taste.

For the meat:

1 1/4 lb ground beef
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
3 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 cup beef stock
1/4 cup red wine
1 tbs Worcesters sauce
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs ketchup
1 tbs fresh chopped rosemary or 1 tsp dried, crushed
salt and pepper to taste

2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbs butter cut in small pieces

Brown the meat and drain well. Return to the skillet and add the carrots, onion and celery. Cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until the vegetables start to get tender. Add the remaining ingredients except cheese and butter. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes or until most of the moisture is absorbed and the vegetables are tender.

Pour into a deep dish pie plate or casserole. Top with the "mashed potatoes". Sprinkle the cheese on top of the casserole. Dot with the butter. Bake 25-30 minutes until hot. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Butternut Squash Pie

The American Pie Council's 2012 Great American Pie Festival® sponsored by Crisco® will be held at Lakeside Park, Celebration, Florida Saturday, April 28 and Sunday, April 29. It is an event that our family looks forward to every year. Features include a kids area that my daughters love! At various stations they get to decorate a pie crust, make a pie, play on inflatables and participate in a pie eating contest.

My favorite is the Never Ending Pie Buffet where you can sample every kind of pie imaginable! Admission to the festival is free however tickets to the pie buffet are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and kids 5 and under.

In anticipation of this years festival I am going to be featuring pies on my blog over the next week. I plan to include sweet and savory pies - all family favorites. At the end of the week there will be a giveaway for a family 4 pack of tickets to the Never Ending Pie Buffet. So, if you are going to be in the Orlando area that weekend stay tuned....

Last week I made that really yummy crab bisque which used about 1/2 of a 2 lb butternut squash. Needing something to do with the rest is what prompted the first of my pie posts. So here it is:

Butternut Squash Pie (tastes just like pumpkin pie)

1 single pie crust, your favorite recipe or refrigerated
1 lb peeled, seeded and cubed butternut squash (around 3 cups of 1/2 inch cubes)
2 tbsp butter
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk
1 tsp cinnamon 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
pinch of salt
Whipped cream

Preheat oven to 400. Melt butter in a casserole. Add squash to casserole and toss with the butter. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes until the squash is tender and starting to caramelize.

While the squash is baking prepare a crust for a single crust pie. Here my daughters are decorating it with little star cutouts from the scraps:

Chill the crust while making the filling. After the squash is cooked mash it and set it aside to cool. Beat together the sugar, eggs and vanilla until thick and pale yellow. Add the milk, spices, salt and mashed squash. Mix until blended.

Pour into crust and bake at 400 for 15 minutes. Turn the temperature down to 350 and continue baking 25 - 30 minutes until set. Chill well before serving with whipped cream.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Crab Bisque

Laughing is the best medicine in life so I do hope my very good friend does not take offense to this post. She was so excited as she got this great deal at the farmers market - 3 spaghetti squash for $5. Knowing I love spaghetti squash one was for me! She brought it to me and low and behold - it was butternut squash - not spaghetti squash! What are we going to do with 3 butternut squashes! Well the first thing is to make this fabulous soup. My parents made this for me when I visited. It is very rich and very good. Try it.

Adapted from Feasting on Fish by Louise Pickford

Crab Bisque
2 tblsp butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 tsp grated ginger root
12 ounces butternut squash
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 ounces crab claw meat
3 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon good medium sherry
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
fresh ground pepper
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Melt the butter in a nonstick dutch oven. Add onion, celery and ginger. Saute 5 minutes. Peel and chop squash. Add to the pan and saute 5 minutes. Add wine and boil 3 minutes. Add crab, stock, sherry and ceyenne pepper. Cook 20 minutes. Puree soup in blender. Return to pan and heat. Add pepper to taste. Serve garnished generously with parmesan cheese.

Scallops Au Gratin and New Dishes

I love dishes and serveware. The housewares departments at the back of TJ Maxx, Marshall's, Ross - you name it - they draw me in. My car automatically makes a u-turn if I pass a sign that says Garage Sale! Most of the dishes I buy I keep but I also look for nice casseroles and serving dishes at garage sales that I can use when I bring someone dinner or send something into the kids school. It is so nice to bring the food on real dishes and I do not worry if I get them back. I usually have paid as much for them at a garage sale as I would for disposable aluminum pans.

So what does this have to do with today's post? A month or so ago my friend's neighborhood was having a progressive dinner but they were one couple short so we got invited. The theme was French. I was told to think seafood. I immediately thought coquilles saint jacques and remembered some dishes I saw at the dollar store in the mall that would be perfect! Keeping my fingers crossed I headed to the mall. They had 12 of the dishes left. Check them out:

I bought all 12 even though I only needed 10. You just never know...and what if one breaks? At a buck each it was all I could do. And the colors - Provence, France yellow and blue.

Then I get the call - someone else is doing seafood and scallops at that. I am now in charge of the main course. Okay - I made a cassoulet - my first. I had a beautiful casserole which I made it in. But still, I had these dishes. And I do not regret buying them because I really love them.

Tonight I made scallops au gratin for my family and used these dishes. One of the ingredients in this dish is a new product by Kraft called Fresh Takes. It is basically a divided pack with grated cheese on one side and seasoned breadcrumbs on the other. Between the sale price and coupons provided I was paying .25 a pack for them so I thought I might as well give them a try. I bought several of each flavor.

Scallops Au Gratin
4 Tablespoons Butter
4 Cloves Garlic
4 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons dry white wine
1 lb bay scallops
1 package Kraft Fresh Takes Cheddar Jack and Bacon Flavor

Heat oven to 400. Put 1 tablespoon of butter into each of 4 au gratin dishes. Put one crushed clove of garlic into each dish. Put into the oven to melt butter. Once butter is melted add 1 tablespoon each wine and cream to each dish. Divide the scallops evenly among the dishes and stir to coat with the sauce. Sprinkle with the Fresh Takes crumbs and cheese. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes then turn on the broiler for 2-3 minutes to crisp up the top.