Friday, April 18, 2014

And the Winner Is:

In a random drawing from the comments for the family four pack of tickets to the Never-Ending Pie Buffet at the The 2014 Great American Pie Festival® #2 came up! 

This is a wonderful event for the whole family so I hope to see you there. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

2014 Great American Pie Festival and a Giveway!

I meant to do another pie post with this giveaway but due to some recent events in my life I had to be out of town for the last several weeks.  I was unable to get to the post and the 2014 Great American Pie Festival is right around the corner. 

As always it is being held in the quaint town of Celebration, FL the weekend of April 26th and 27th, 2014.

You can check it out here:

You can also check out my review of the event here:

One of the highlights of the festival is the Never-Ending Pie Buffet.  It is basically a block long pie buffet and you get to try as much as you like.  Stay all day and go back to it over and over!  

I have a family four pack of tickets to the Never-Ending Pie Buffet to giveaway! 

If you plan to be in town and heading for the Pie Festival here is what to do. To enter all you need to do is tell me in the comments what your favorite pie is.  Check out my recipes!  My favorite is the Key Lime Pie from this post:

I will choose one winner from all the entries on Thursday, April 17th, 2014 in a random drawing.

Also, watch for the post I was planning for this day which is actually a favorite Southern specialty and savory to boot:  Tomato Pie coming soon.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Sweet Potato Pie

 For this weeks pie contribution I made Sweet Potato Pie.  This pie is so good.  It totally exceeded my expectations.  We all think it is so much better than pumpkin pie.  I used one of my favorite ingredients in the filling:  browned butter.  MMM so good!

Check out the pie pan I have been using.  It has this lever in it.  When I am ready to serve the pie I swirl the lever around the pie pan and it releases the pie from the pan.  I was skeptical at first thinking it would tear at the crust but it works like a charm.  My slices come right out.  If you can find one of these pans I highly recommend it.

We are now one month away from the 2014 Great American Pie Festival.  It will be held in Celebration, FL  the weekend of April 26-27.  If you are headed to the festival you will want to check out next weeks post as I will be having a give away.  A family four pack of tickets to the Never Ending Pie Buffet.  For more information on the festival you can go here:

You can also check out my write up on the festival here:

And now for the recipe.

Sweet Potato Pie

  • 1 refrigerated pie crust
  • 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes (yield from about 1 1/4 pounds steamed, peeled)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup plus1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

  1. In a small dish mix together the 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and set aside.
  2. Place a sturdy baking sheet in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  3. Place pie crust in pie pan and crimp the edges.  Place in the refrigerator while preparing filling.
  4. Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat, whisking constantly for 2-3 minutes or until it is a golden brown and smells nutty.  Take care not to burn it. 
  5. In a large mixing bowl blend together the butter and the 1/2 cup sugar.
  6. Add the eggs and mix well.
  7. Add the milk, sweet potatoes, vanilla and spices.  Mix well.
  8. Pour the filling into the shell.  Sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar mix evenly over top of the pie.
  9. Place the pie on the heated baking sheet and bake at 425 for 15 minutes. 
  10. Reduce the temperature to 350 and bake for an additional 35 minutes.
  11. Cool and store in the refrigerator.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Apple Crumb Pie

This second pie in my "pie series" leading up to the 2014 Great American Pie Festival® and Never Ending Pie Buffet family four pack giveaway is really good.  It is my Apple Crumb Pie.  Judging from the moans of pleasure as my family ate this pie they all think it is really good too.  I think it is the best apple pie ever. 

I love the crumb topping because it hugs the pie instead of creating a space of air between the pie and the top crust  I also add nuts to the crust which gives it even more flavor.  MMM - so good.

Check out the post for Nonie's Cherry Cheese Pie for links to more information on the pie festival.

Apple Crumb Pie

  • 2 1/4 pounds mixed apples (I used 3 different varieties)
  • 3 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  1.  Peel and core the apples.  Slice them thinly. 
  2. Add the lemon juice 1 teaspoon at a time and toss the apples gently after each addition.
  3. Add the vanilla and toss to distribute.
  4. In a small bowl combine the remaining ingredients.  Toss the sugar mixture with the apples.
Crumb Topping
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
  1. Cut the butter into about 8 pieces. 
  2. Place everything into a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles course crumbs. 
  3. To mix by hand, cut the butter into the flour and sugar.  finely chop the nuts and add to the flour and butter mixture.
  • 1 refrigerated pie crust
  • 1 recipe filling
  • 1 recipe crumb topping

    Fill in all those nooks and crannies with crumb topping!

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Place a baking sheet in the oven.
  2. Roll out crust and place in a deep dish pie plate.  Crimp edges high. 
  3. Add the filling to the crust and spread evenly.
  4. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the apples, filling all the nooks and crannies. 
  5. Place the pie on the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.
  6. Turn the oven off but leave the pie in the oven to cool, at least 60 minutes during which the pie continues to gently cook and reach peak consistency.
  7. Refrigerate if not serving right away.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Nonie's Cherry Cheese Pie

The 2014 Great American Pie Festival® is coming to Celebration, FL the weekend of April 26 - 27.  I have been attending this event for the last several years.  It is always so much fun with activities for all ages.  You can see my write up of this event here:

You can also head over here for information about this years event:

Once again I have been provided with a family four pack of tickets to the Never-Ending Pie Buffet to  giveaway on this site.  If you have not experienced the Never-Ending Pie Buffet you are missing out.  You get to enjoy as much pie as you can eat.  They have so many different kinds too!  YUM!  I will be doing a series of pie posts over the next few weeks and then will have the giveaway.  Enjoy the posts, make some pie and watch for a chance to win!

The first pie I am featuring is in memory of Grace "Nonie" M. Whiting who passed away on February 22, 2008.  I count myself blessed to have a second family in my life.  My extended family does not live nearby yet it is so important to have family and traditions and get togethers, especially on holidays.  Especially for the kids.  So how lucky am I that one of my very best friends, Angel and her family have been there for me.  Grace is Angel's grandmother.  Over the years it was always Grace who made the pies for the holidays.  Her Cherry Cheese Pie was always the favorite.

Nonie's Cherry Cheese Pie


  • 1 refrigerated pie crust
  • 1 pack Dream Whip prepared according to package instructions
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 22 oz can cherry pie filling and topping


  1. Blind bake the pie crust according to the instructions on the package.  Make sure to crimp high as the crust does shrink during baking.  Cool completely.

  2. Prepare the Dream Whip according to the instructions on the package.
  3. Beat together the cream cheese, confectioners sugar, lemon juice and vanilla. 
  4. Fold the Dream Whip into the cream cheese mixture.
  5. Pour into the pie shell.
  6. Gently spoon the cherry pie filling over top. 
  7. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce

My mom had a green thumb.  She could bring plants back from the dead.  This is not a trait I inherited from her.  Most plants do not thrive in my care.  I have found one exception:  Ghost Peppers! 

I love my food hot and spicy.  I make my own chili powder by drying habanero chilies and then pulverizing them in the food processor.  I keep this stuff on the table and sprinkle it on all of my food.  I even keep a vial of it in my purse so I have it when I am eating out.  I had been searching for ghost peppers and finally found a small package of fresh, bright red ghost peppers at Jungle Jim's in Cincinnati.  I brought them home and set about harvesting the seeds .... with my bare hands.  Bad idea!  My hands hurt for 3 days.  I tried everything from spraying them with bactine to rubbing orajel all over them.  Nothing but time worked.  I could not remove my contacts for those three days either.  So - ALWAYS wear gloves when handling these suckers. 

Anyway, I got my seeds and last March I planted them in my garden.  Now all these forums I read say they are hard to germinate and will take up to 30 days to pop up and so on and so forth.  My peppers were up and at 'em at day 14.  The forums were correct in that it takes 6 months from germination to budding.  Once the buds formed, they formed.  Tons of them.  Then the forums said that unlike other chilies and peppers that are self pollinating, ghost peppers need our help.  So last September I ran to my garden every day with a little paint brush to tickle the inside of each flower.  It must have worked because I got tons of peppers.  By November they were turning red and ready to harvest.  I took the first batch and made some of my habanero powder.  I dried a bunch of the ghost peppers with the habaneros and blended them in.  That powder is powerful stuff.  I gave away a bunch of the chilies to my chili loving comrades.  There were more green chilies on the plants.  I left them to ripen and although it got cold here we did not experience a freeze (I live in Orlando).  Today I harvested the last of the red fruit.  I had about 20 chilies.  My plants survived the winter and we have had 80 degree weather the past week and now there are tons of buds all over my chili plants so I am going to have a bumper crop this coming year. 

I honestly do not know what I will do with them all.  My family does not share my passion for heat.  I will probably make a batch of pure ghost pepper powder.  As for todays harvest, I made some hot sauce.  By the way - I wore gloves.

Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce
makes about 8 ounces sauce


1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup diced carrots
1/3 cup diced tomato
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
1/2 cup chopped ghost peppers (or hot peppers of your choice)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt


Melt butter in a saucepan.  Add the onion, carrots, tomato, garlic and peppers.  Saute until softened, about 3 minutes.  Add water.  Simmer about 15 minutes until most of the water is evaporated and the vegetables are very soft.  Put this mixture in a food processor.  Add the vinegar and salt.  Process until very smooth.

Press mixture through a fine sieve .  Put into a clean jar in the refrigerator.  Let age for a couple of days before using.  Use judiciously!


Sunday, February 9, 2014

Asian Pork and Shrimp Buns with Soy Dipping Sauce

Happy New Year!  Chinese New Year that is!  Okay, so this post is a little late.  The year of the horse officially began on January 31, 2014.  However, the Chinese celebrate the Chinese New Year for 15 days so I am actually right in the midst of things here.

We belong to a group called Families with Children from China because our twin daughters are adopted from there.  Our big New Years celebration was last night.  We have a big dance party with a DJ.  Everyone brings a dish.  We have a dragon dance and for fireworks one of the men brings PILES of bubble wrap which we cover the dance floor with and at "midnight" the kids jump all over it until every last bubble is popped.  What a racket! 

This is the dish I brought.  I actually developed the recipe to submit for the Pillsbury bakeoff a couple of years ago but sadly it was rejected.  I really don't know why but all I can say is everyone loves these.  They are pretty easy to do and they look so professional.  Like you went out and bought them or something. So even though Pillsbury will never publish my recipe I do not want to deprive anyone!  Here you go:

Asian Pork and Shrimp Buns with Soy Dipping Sauce

Ingredients for the buns:

4 ounces peeled, deveined shrimp
2 ounces white mushrooms
8 ounces ground pork
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 cup minced green onions
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1  (8 count) can Pillsbury Grands Flaky Layers Refrigerated Biscuits
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 egg
Soy Dipping Sauce (recipe follows)


Preheat oven to 375.  Grease a large cookie sheet.

Coarsely chop shrimp and place in a large bowl.  Finely chop the mushrooms and add to the shrimp.

Add the remaining ingredients except the biscuits, sesame seeds, egg and Dipping sauce to the bowl with the shrimp.  Mix well.

Divide each biscuit into 3 pieces.  Cut each lengthwise into 3 strips.  Fold each strip together and then press to seal and shape into a 2 1/2 inch circle. 

Divide the filling among the circles.  Pull and the dough up around the filling and twist to seal the filling in.  Place twisted side down on baking sheet.

Brush the buns with the beaten egg.  Sprinkle each with sesame seeds.  Bake 16 to 18 minutes until golden.  Switch the baking sheet around halfway through for even baking.  Serve with Soy Dipping Sauce.

Soy Dipping Sauce


1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon minced green onions


Combine all ingredients until sugar is dissolved.  Serve with buns.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Pantry Antipasto Salad

Here is a recipe - well not as much a recipe as a suggestion of one.  That is one of the problems with me and blogging.  I love food.  I love to cook.  I want to tell you about all the things I am making!   But most of the time I am throwing stuff together from what just happens along in my kitchen and while the food is good it is hard to post a recipe that calls for a little bit of leftover this and whatever happens to be left in that other jar in the fridge so I can use it up.....because what is lurking in your fridge is going to be different than what is in mine.  What is really a problem is when my family says mom this is so good, make it again, and the fact is I will probably never have that particular combination of bits and pieces again!

For example, one thing that gets made only once or twice a year is the best chicken marsala.  The secret?  Leftover turkey gravy in the marsala sauce.  Well there is only leftover turkey gravy in the fridge after Thanksgiving so that is when we have it.

So here it is - a non recipe that I can post for you!  Most everyone probably already makes a version  this but forgets about it so here I am to remind you of it.  The next time you are invited to a potluck or neighborhood picnic here you go. 

Tonight I made a very basic version of this salad.  Here is what I did...

Pantry Antipasto Salad
Serves 10 - 12


1/4 pound hard salami (ask the deli to cut 2 pieces about 1/4 inch thick each)
1/4 pound genoa salami (ask the deli to cut 2 pieces about 1/4 inch thick each)
1/4 pound cheese ( I used mozzarella because of my kids but otherwise would have used pepper jack)
one 7 ounce can roasted red peppers, drained
one 5 ounce container large, black, pitted olives, drained
generous 1/2 cup stuffed green olives, drained
8 ounces marinated mushrooms, drained
one 15 ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1/4 cup pepperoncini, stems removed and sliced into rings
1/2 cup your favorite vinaigrette


Cut the salami and the cheese into 1/4 inch strips and then crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces.  Cut the roasted red pepper the same way.  Place all ingredients into a large bowl and toss. 

Chill and serve.  Please continue reading as that is just the beginning...

This is so versatile!  Add what you like.  Some of my favorite additions include 8 ounces cooked penne pasta, one 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained, and a container of grape tomatoes.  Or add some tortellini instead of the penne.  Indeed, tonight I served it as written as a side dish.  I am going to change things up and add the penne to what is left for tomorrow - and there I go again - adding things to things to ......


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Restaurant Style Flatbreads

Whenever we go out to eat we always order a couple of flatbreads to share.  I love how they come out with that cracker thin crust and had been wanting to make them at home.   One thought that crossed my mind was putting the dough through my pasta roller.  Thankfully I did not have to go that far.  I found this fantastic gem of a recipe that comes out perfect every time.  It rolls out cracker thin with ease.

We just love making these for dinner!  The whole family gets involved and my daughters love it because they can put whatever they like on theirs.  Then we all try each others creations and decide whose we like the best!  Obviously the topping ideas are endless.  Indeed I will look at menus online of some of my favorite restaurants and their flatbreads to come up with toppings to serve at home.  I set up bowls with all kinds of things so everyone can customize their flatbread.

By the way - these flatbreads cost at least $10 each at your favorite restaurant so I just saved you at least $40 depending on the toppings you choose!

My dough recipe is changed only very slightly from the one here:

I would normally simply list the changes but I am adding the recipe here with my changes because we love this recipe.  I have had the misfortune of loving a recipe and then going to my bookmarked page only to find the site has been taken down.  So, I will place it here where I always know I can find it.

I weigh my flour.  Weighing gives the most consistent results.  I highly recommend a kitchen scale.  I have increased the rosemary in my recipe because I love it and I have decreased the olive oil and it comes out perfect.

Flatbread Dough

  • 2 ½ cups bread flour (300 grams)
  • 2 tsp bread machine or rapid rise yeast 
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbls fresh rosemary, minced
  • ¾ cup wheat beer or pale ale
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbls olive oil
    Put all of the ingredients into a bread machine and put it through the dough cycle. 
    If you do not want to use a bread machine, heat the beer to 120 degrees.  Add remaining ingredients, mix and then kneed until smooth.  Set aside, covered, for an hour to rise.
    While the dough is rising prepare your toppings.  Here are some ideas:

    sautéed onions, diced tomatoes, kale, spinach, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, steak, cooked and crumbled sausage, pepperoni, shrimp, blue cheese, boursin cheese, shredded cheese, balsamic syrup and the list goes on....
    When you are ready to make your flatbreads preheat the oven to 500.  Take the dough and punch it down.  Cover it and let it rest for 5 minutes.  (This is necessary to help it relax and make it easier to roll out).  After 5 minutes divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. 
    Mix 3 crushed garlic cloves with 3 tablespoons olive oil.
    Grease 3 large baking sheets and sprinkle them with cornmeal.  On a large board sprinkled with a little flour roll out the dough into long flatbreads.  Place 2 long flatbreads on each baking sheet.

    Brush each flatbread with some of the garlic olive oil.
    Top as desired.
    Place 2 baking sheets at a time in the oven.  After 5 minutes switch the top and bottom sheets.  ( I also turn them so the back side is now in front.  If you are only baking one move it from the bottom to the top and turn it after 5 minutes for even baking.
    Bake 5 more minutes.  Enjoy!

    Wednesday, January 8, 2014

    Meyer Lemon Curd

    This past week winter was felt everywhere including here in sunny Florida with temperatures dipping into the low 30's Monday night!  The weather is warming up though but in the meantime you can do like I do and head into the kitchen and cook.  It will keep you warm!  Plus I have the perfect thing to bring some sunshine into winter and that is lemon curd.  Indeed right now Meyer Lemons are in season.  One of my neighbors has a beautiful tree laden with fruit and offered some to me.  So I made Meyer Lemon curd with it and it is fantastic. 

    Although I used Meyer Lemons for this batch you can make this with any kind of lemon or other citrus.  I absolutely love this recipe which I have adapted from a Cooking Light recipe.  It is creamy and bursting with lemon flavor and it is so easy to make.  I added a sprig of rosemary to mine while it cooked for a gentle hint of flavor.

    You can use it on toast or scones.  I have used it as a filling in cakes and for lemon tarts and as a topping on lemon cheesecake.  It is just so versatile!  Please give it a try. 

    A few tips before I begin the recipe:  Leave the lemons on the counter as a room temperature lemon will yield more juice.  Grate the lemons first while they are still whole.

    Meyer Lemon Curd
    Yield 2 cups

    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    2 eggs
    2 tablespoons finely grated lemon rind, yellow part only
    1 4-5 inch sprig of fresh rosemary
    2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
    2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    2 tablespoons heavy cream

    Put the sugar, eggs and lemon rind in a sauce pan and stir to thoroughly blend.  Add the rosemary.

    Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes until the sugar is completely dissolved. 

    Remove the pan from the heat and add the lemon juice, butter and cream.  Return to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes until the mixture thickens and starts to bubble.  Remove the rosemary.

    Pour the lemon curd into clean jars and put in the fridge. It will thicken up as it chills.