Saturday, November 30, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

Usually when these ingredients are present it means some tasty chocolate chip cookies are on the way.  Well, not this time my friends.  These ingredients are instead coming together, uniting their lovely flavors to become a Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie.
I first discovered the greatest pie there ever was on Pinterest which led me to to Bakerella's blog. This pie and I have been BFFs ever since.  So when my original plan for a Thanksgiving Pie was given the red light by my family I knew my BFF would come to the rescue.  I have lots of great memories with my BFF and I'm so thankful my family and I were able to spend some time with her during the Thanksgiving Holiday. 

Me & my BFF after arriving at Granny's for Thanksgiving Dinner
Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

1 - 9-inch deep-dish pie shell, blind baked
2 large eggs
½  cup all-purpose flour
½  cup granulated sugar
½  cup packed brown sugar
¾  cup butter, softened
1 cup  semi-sweet chocolate morsels
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup chopped black walnuts
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven 325° F. 
Beat eggs in large mixer bowl on high until foamy. Beat in flour, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Beat in butter. Stir in morsels and nuts and spoon into pie shell. Bake for 55-60 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Serve warm with ice cream.

My BFF wearing her Thanksgiving inspired look by Nestle. 

One of the last moments I got to spend with my BFF, but I'm quite thankful for the time we had together.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Apple Pie Spring Rolls

"wRapper's Delight"

I said a hip hop,
Hippie to the hippie,
The hip, hip a hop, and you don't stop, a cook it
To the yum yum yummy, say, down to my tummy,
To the rhythm of the boogie, the beat.
Now, what you see is not a test - I'm wrappin' up a treat,
And me, the Girl, and my Granny are gonna try to make it sweet.
See, I am Girlie Goal, and I'd like to say hello,
To the black, to the white, the red and the brown,
The purple and yellow. But first, I gotta
Wrap wrap, the roll to the roll,
Say down to my tummy, to the yum yum yummy,
Let's wrap, you don't stop,
Wrap the roll that'll make my Granny proud.
Well so far I've tried my best but I keep doing it wrong,
And the next time I try it will be right,
C'mon, Girl, wrap that roll!

I might be the worst wrapper in the history of spring roll wrappers. I could possibly have fryophobia (also known as fear of frying)...
but Granny always says to keep trying and tweaking things until it's right.
That being said I decided to give these Apple Pie Spring Rolls another try.  
I adapted this recipe from Juanita's Cocina

For the Apple Pie Filling
4 baking apples, peeled and chopped (I used Honeycrisp apples)
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the Spring Rolls
20-30 rice paper wrappers (spring roll wrappers)
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbs. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
Oil for frying

Combine the water, cornstarch, 3/4 c. sugar,  1/2 t. cinnamon, salt, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until thick.
Add the apples and reduce to a simmer. Allow the apple mixture to simmer until the apples become just tender (10 minutes). Allow to cool.
Spoon apple pie filling in the center of the wrapper.
Think of the wrapper as a diamond.  Fold the bottom corner toward the top corner.  Next fold in each side corner toward the center.  Finally fold down the top corner. 
Sidebar: as previously stated I am the worst wrapper ever, so don't do what I did.  Follow this guide instead: How to Egg Rolls
In the meantime, heat a skillet with 1/2 an inch of oil. Once oil is hot, fry the spring rolls on each side until  golden brown.(This is where things get scary for me!) Be sure not to crowd the rolls in the skillet as they may stick together.
Remove the spring rolls and place them on a paper towel-lined plate and allow to drain. Next, roll the warm spring roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture to coat.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Brown Sugar Chewies

A few weeks ago I was looking through some old photo albums at my mom's house and came across this pic.
It's a pic of me mixing up the ingredients to make Brown Sugar Chewies.  It was the very first time Granny let me make a recipe solo (or as solo as at gets when Granny's involved). 
Funny thing is that Granny still uses that cookbook on the regular.
Recently I thumbed through the cookbook and found the recipe, so I decided it was time I revisited this recipe.  The simplicity of recipe makes it even easy for an 8 year old.

1 box light brown sugar
1 ½ sticks butter
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ½ c. self-rising flour
1 c. chopped nuts

Cream sugar and butter. Add eggs, one at a time. Add flour and mix well. Add vanilla & chopped nuts. I used less than a cup of mix of black walnuts and pecans. Bake in greased 9x13 pan at 325° for 35-40 minutes.
Without Granny to supervise me during this baking experience I inadvertently grabbed bread flour instead of self-rising.  I realized my mistake after putting in about a half cup and switched out the bread flour for the correct flour.  So my Chewies came out a tad bit more glutenous than planned, but they were still quite tasty nonetheless.The next time I make these I plan to experiment with a few addends like chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, toffee, or coconut... But for now (and by now I mean this very instant) I'll just top them with a hearty scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Fresh Creamed Corn

Granny's creamed corn is my mom's absolute favorite "Granny dish." She literally eats it by the bowl full.  My poor non-cooking mother tried to make creamed corn herself a few times using the frozen tubes of corn.  However, nothing can compare to the real deal. I quickly learned why my mom resorted to the tubes...fresh corn is a lot of work!
Season after season I've waited for Granny to show me how to make the corn.  She made it without telling me a few times, but finally agreed to let me blog it when she made it again.  
Granny had plans to make a meal with lots of veggies from her and PawPaw's garden.  Unfortunately they don't have corn in their garden, so PawPaw made a visit to the Nashville Farmer's Market to get that. 

 Granny and I started by shucking the nine ears of corn.  She then uses her special little tool to remove the silk.

We then removed the kernels from the cob.  Granny said the key to doing this job is using a good, sharp knife.  I'm a little afraid of good, sharp knives so it took me a little lot longer to complete that job.  I think when I make creamed corn on my own I'll use a tool I saw when Granny and I went shopping later that evening. I definitely think I need one of those Oxo corn peelers in my gadget drawer.
Granny then added the following ingredients to the bowl of corn:
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
1/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. milk (or water or cream)
1/2 c. butter, reserved

She mixes all the ingredients until the corn mix looks creamy.  The mix is then poured into a waiting hot skillet with cooking oil (medium heat).  Granny stirs the corn very frequently to prevent sticking while it's cooking over medium heat.  When kernels are tender and the kitchen starts smelling oh so heavenly it's time to add the butter.  Keep stirring as the butter melts into the corn. 
Before long, it was time for us to enjoy Granny and PawPaw's harvest.  (There was also squash from their garden, but I'm not a fan of that).

Friday, July 19, 2013

Challenge time: Making bagels

So far the theme of this week has been facing my fears. Some challenges I have faced ... others,well call me a coward. I'm guessing nobody really cares to hear about the mouse that took up residence in my classroom's closet over the summer. I'm sure no one is interested in how behind I am on setting my classroom up for the upcoming school year since I'm too much of a coward to step foot in the closet.
Someone may have stopped by for the kitchen challenges I've faced this week. 
Obviously, making any type of dough is the kitchen feat that eludes me. 
Challenge #1 was attempting a pie crust to make a peach pie/cobbler. I visited The Peach Truck for the first time and decided I should make something special to commemorate my visit. The peaches were good, but the crust ... not so much. Although it was the best crust I've made sans Granny thus far. 
Granny thought the crust was quite tasty, but the look of it... well we'll just say it didn't look so tasty.
Since that challenge was a semi failure I was now even more frightened by the challenge that was still to come. 
Heather from Life by the Spoonful somehow talked me into accepting Love & Olive Oil's kitchen challenge for the month. 
So I did what any novice, nerdy, analytic baker would do.  I searched bagel recipes on Pinterest, I watched people make bagels on YouTube (mainly Julia Child), I read books about bread making and finally I attempted to make bagels. 
After I figured out how not to proof yeast (I used active dry instead of the suggested instant), I was able to follow Peter Reinhart's recipe in The Bread Baker's Apprentice pretty easily.The recipe can also be found at the Brown Eyed Baker
We decided to complete day 1 of the bagel making festivities on our own and meet up to complete day 2 of the recipe together.
Usually when kneading dough I have a little Granny angel sitting on my shoulder telling me, "don't over work that dough or it will be tough!" But Mr. Reinhart's recipe actually said to knead for approximately 10 minutes.  Most baker's probably cringe at that amount of time. Not me, I was in heaven! I no longer heard Granny but now had a Julia Child devil on my shoulder saying "bang it down, be rough!"
I explained to an impatient friend that the hardest thing about making bagels is all of the waiting. 
Wait 2 hours for this and 20 minutes here and 20 minutes there, 20 minutes everywhere, 10 seconds for that, and wait overnight for this.
 After my bagel passed the float test I knew my waiting had paid off.
The next morning when I finally arrived at Heather's to boil and bake I noticed I wasn't the only one having a challenging week...
After comparing our bagels we boiled them, and I may have dropped one.
With a later batch I deviated from Reinhart's recipe and gave the bagels a brush of egg white. I went out on a limb and very lightly sprinkled a few with brown sugar and cinnamon.
When they were finally boiled, baked, and cooled We were able to taste them. 
I was eager to hear what Heather thought of them since she spent most of her life in Philly.  I on the other hand have only had bagels of the Tennessee variety (grocery store & Panera).  I'm thinking I should take a field trip to NYC before making my next batch (any one interested in sponsoring that trip?). 
Heather thought they were lacking salt.  I thought they were pretty good (given I have no "true" bagel taste to compare them to).
We soon learned we needed to cook them a bit longer than the recipe called for. We both got tastes of raw dough in our bites  I now know why Paul Hollywod made such a fuss about it on the "American Baking Competition."  I'm very interested in finding out what the malt barley syrup that neither Heather or I could find would have done for the taste of the bagels (we used honey instead).  

Bagel making wasn't as challenging and intimidating as I thought it would be.  In fact I'm already planning my next bagel making adventure.  
Read about Heather's bagel challenge here.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Patriotic Brownies

Happy Birthday America!
I've  never really made a holiday themed dish.  Of course I make plenty of recipes for the holidays but you can't usually look at my creation re-creation and know what holiday it belongs to. 
Needless to say I was thrilled when my colleague and blogging buddy Heather from Life by the Spoonful invited me to come do some patriotic baking with her and her sweet little Baby Spoon. 
My mission was to find something patriotic [looking] to bake. My first plan was to make red, white & blue cupcakes, but when the my 4th of July plans changed a bit I decided to go with a different recipe. 
I decided I wanted needed to make Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies. These brownies have been in my Pinterest "to make que" for quite a while now and they already had two of the three colors I needed for making them patriotic-ish. 
It was Heather's idea to add a little blue to the mix.  Although I didn't really like the look of them in the beginning, they have sort of grown on me (pun intended). My mom thinks they look a more like something out of a Dr. Seuss book than a patriotic treat.
Now I didn't know when I started, but I now know I'm helping America (okay mainly just my family) by making these brownies. The recipe calls for the use of dark chocolate pieces. The use of dark chocolate in these brownies means each time my family and I eat one we will lower our blood pressure, improve cognitive function, improve blood sugar, consume antioxidants, prevent cavities, and load up on vitamins & minerals! Thanks for cluing me in on that information
Yeah I know the sugar, butter and cream cheese probably definitely negate some of the positive properties of the dark chocolate, but I'm going to pretend I don't know that. So I've officially decided that these are not brownies they are: Red, White & Bluies and of course they are good for America!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

It's German Chocolate Cake Day!

So it's German Chocolate Cake Day huh? who knew there was such a holiday? Certainly not this girl.  It took way less convincing than I thought to talk Granny into making a German Chocolate Cake.  I know I'm not the only one in the family who is glad she broke from tradition and made this cake on a June day.  Usually Granny only makes this cake in January -- as a birthday cake for my mom and aunt.
The hardest part about making this cake was finding THE recipe.  Granny apparently cuts out the recipe from the Baker's German chocolate box and places it in her recipe box each time she makes this cake (although she denies it). At some point I even wrote it out for her , but she didn't want to follow that one because I may have written it wrong (hmmm... it didn't match any of the thirty-eleven that were in her box).
Granny finally decided which one was THE one. So we made German Chocolate Cake using the recipe below.
CLICK HERE for a printable version.

German Sweet Chocolate Cake
2 c. sugar
2 c. flour
1 c. (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 c. buttermilk 
1 pkg. (4oz) Baker’s German’s Sweet chocolate
4 eggs (yolks & whites separate) 
½ c. water
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. salt

Heat oven to 350° F.  Line bottoms of 3 round cake pans (9 inch) with wax paper. I can't believe this is actually on the recipe.  Granny lines the pans for almost every cake she makes.
Microwave chocolate and water in large microwavable bowl on high 1 ½ - 2 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring halfway through heating time.  Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Set aside.
Mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. 
Beat margarine and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Stir in chocolate mixture and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating after each addition until smooth. 

Beat egg whites in another large bowl with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. 

Gently stir into batter. Pour into prepared pans.
Bake 30 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched in center. Immediately run spatula between cakes and sides of pans.  Cool 15 minutes; remove from pans. Remove wax paper. Cool completely on wire racks. Granny likes to have her cakes cool on a clean dish towel.
We started making the cake at her house, but since we were going to dinner across the county in my neck of the woods we packed it up and took it to my house to make the frosting. Granny was feeling a little out of her element in my kitchen. 
She threatened to leave me to finish up on my own, but she was afraid I would tear up her already fragile cake. But she stayed and it all came together (and stayed together) in the end.

Oops, I started eating before I remembered to snap a picture! Oh well it can't be helped with this cake.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Asian Inspired Salad

Somethings Granny will never cook. 
"I'm not buying all of that extra stuff just for 1 recipe!"
That's usually the response I get when I try to persuade her to make something new.  But I have a feeling Granny is going to add a few things to her list once she gets a taste of this super yummy salad.
My recent trip to Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney was the inspiration behind the salad.  So of course I headed to Pinterest to see what I could pin.
I'm so glad I found the dressing for the salad from The Pioneer Woman. She uses it for her Asian Noodle Salad.
I knew I wanted to add a bit of chicken (and no noodles) to my salad so I went back to Pinterest and found Honey Ginger Chicken Wings from Leanne Bakes.Instead of using chicken wings I used chicken breasts so I could slice it up and top off my salad.
Throw some crispy romaine, red & green shredded cabbage, carrots (ok, so really I just bought a package of cole slaw), tomatoes, and a few crispy wonton strips into a bowl [I always eat my salads from a bowl when I eat at home, pretty sure that's not normal] and top it off with Leanne's honey ginger chicken and toss it with Ree's super yummy Sesame Ginger dressing...don't forget the cilantro! Of course any favorite salad ingredient could be added to individualize the salad.  Most Asian inspired salads I see have mandarin oranges, but since I'm not really a fan of those I left them off. 
I was almost ready to join Jeff Houck's Plate Licker's Club, almost! I think the only reason I didn't is because I forgot to add the sprinkle of sliced almonds that would have surely sent my tongue into overdrive and straight for my bowl.
In the meantime I'm going to pack up my leftover dressing and drive it to Granny's so she can see what she's missing out.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Lemon Icebox Torte

It's working!
I started blogging in hopes that I would some day be able to cook like Granny.  She has a certain finesse for looking through cookbooks and finding two to three recipes to mishmash and usually ends up with a superb dish.
In trying to decide which dessert I was bringing to the family cookout I started thinking like Granny. I knew I wanted to make something cool and lemony (nothing says summer like a refreshing lemon dessert, right?).  I thought of this recipe and that recipe and what if did this instead of that and somehow I came up with a delectable Lemon Torte that everyone loved, despite that I never found a Meyer's lemon even after driving all over the city of Nashville! (Yeah, yeah run on sentence -- I know!) I'm not really sure it qualifies as a torte but I'm still going to call it Lemon Icebox Torte....or maybe Lemon Icebox Torture since the piece I'm supposed to be saving for a friend is currently in the frige torturing me right now. 
Unlike Granny I am able to recreate my recipe at any time because I took notes.

Lemon Torte
1 pkg. Pecan Sandies
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 c. confectioners sugar
8 oz container whipped topping, divided
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
1 c. lemon juice
1 egg yolk
¼  c. pecans, optional
zest of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 350°. Start by crushing the cookies.

Combine crushed cookies & melted butter in medium bowl and press into 9x13 dish.  Bake for 15 minutes and let this layer cool completely (30-60 minutes).
Thoroughly combine cream cheese & sugar. Fold in half of the whipped topping.  Spread the mixture on top of the cookie layer.  Next, beat the egg yolk slightly and add milk and lemon juice and lemon zest.  When thoroughly combined spread this layer on top of the cream cheese layer. 
 Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.  Before serving top with remaining whipped topping and pecans.

Granny and I came up with a few alternatives for the cookie crust. She suggest trying vanilla wafers, I'm leaning more towards Golden Oreos. I think both would be pretty tasty.  And next time I will try it with Meyer's Lemons even if it means growing my own tree (that's how dedicated I am).