Archives

Waiting for Spring

I’m all about changing seasons.
Really, I am.
Unfortunately, here in the Midwest, winter seems to last forever. Even if there’s no snow. First it’s cold. Everything turns brown. And we are lucky to have snow covering the ground by Christmas. So by the end of January, most people are sick of the cold and just want Spring to come.
This year it has been cold.
Colder than normal.
Record breaking cold.
Now that we are into March, you can smell the Spring air. The temps are in the 30’s again. It’s practically flip flop weather! (When the 800 feet of snow melts anyway…)
So, in light of Spring, and a family get together, Lemon Meringue Pie has been on my mind.
If you’re anything like me, or just starting out with his whole baking thing, you’re probably thinking “What!?! Lemon meringue pie? Are you nuts? I can to do that.”
But let me tell you. It’s simple.
I promise.
Would I lie to you??

This recipe is an old family favorite and I’ve never had it not turn out (I’ve failed at the meringue a couple times, buts it’s been a whole) So don’t get frustrated, try, try again. I’ve tried other recipes, and they were all horrible. So please take my word when I say, this one is PERFECT.

Lemon Meringue Pie
Recipe from: my Mom (and most likely from her mom, and her mom and her mom… Well, you get the drift)

Basic Pie Crust
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter flavored shortening
Very cold water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening with pastry cutter or fork until crumbly.
Run your water in your sink until very very cold. The colder the better.
Add a little (1 Tbsp at a time, if you want to measure) cold water and stir with fork until it comes together in a ball and pulls away from edge of bowl.
Less is more here. You can always add more water if it’s still crumbly, but you can’t take it back out. If you happen to add touch water and it’s sticky, add some flour.
When ready, sprinkle some flour on your counter too or pastry mat, and roll crust out until big enough for the pie shell you’re using.
Spray your pie shell with non-stick cooking spray. The carefully place the a pie crust in pan. Cut off the excess if you have and seal the edges with a fork or make another pretty pattern. Be sure to press down the dough in the pan so there’s no major bubbles under it. Stab bottoms of crust a few times to avoid more bubbles when you bake it.
Bake for about 10 minutes or just until you can smell it. (Not a burning smell, preferably)

Set aside.

Pie Filling

8-inch
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup water
2 egg yolks
2 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup lemon juice

9-inch
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 cup water
3 egg yolks
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup lemon juice

10-inch
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 cups water
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup butter
2/3 cup lemon juice

Mix sugar and cornstarch in medium saucepan. Gradually stir in water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and boils. (This happens VERY quickly)
Boil and stir for 1 minute.
Gradually stir half the mixture into the egg yolks. (do this very careful and stirring right away so the eggs don’t cook) Mix the egg mixture back into the saucepan and boil for 1 minute (2 minutes for a 10-inch pie) stirring constantly.
Remove from heat.
Stir in butter and lemon juice.
Pour into prepared pie crust.

Meringue

8-inch
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla

9-inch
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
6 Tbsp white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

10-inch
4 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup white sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla

In a clean metal or glass bowl (preferably a stand mixer, but could be done with a hand mixer)
Add egg whites and cream of tartar into bowl. Turn mixer medium-high speed. Mix until egg white are foamy.
Slowly start to add the sugar, one tablespoon and a time, letting is mix in before adding the next one.
The mixture will start to thicken and turn very white. Add the vanilla.
Continue mixing until stuff peaks form.
Spread the meringue over the lemon, sealing the edges to the crust.
Place in oven and cook for 10 minutes or until it turns a delicate brown.
Remove from oven, cool on wire rack, away from a draft.
Enjoy!!!

20140308-140026.jpg

Gluten Free Banana Bread

It’s been a while since I posted and for that I am so sorry! I feel like I haven’t caught up from being sick over the winter and now I only have less than 10 weeks until my baby boy comes! AHHHHHH!!!!!!

I’m still baking, cooking, and you name it in the kitchen and last week I found the only recipe I’ve made with coconut flour that actually turned out AND tasted good! I know, I as shocked too.

I happened to have a couple bananas that were begging to be baked into something. I thought of making pancakes, or banana cake, or regular banana bread, but I am really trying to cut back on my sugar intake and going completely ‘clean’ again. Cause let’s face it, I have been giving in to my cravings…a lot…and I’ve been craving things like ice cream and oatmeal butterscotch cookies…..

Now I know coconut flour can be expensive and that’s why I’m so worries about baking with it and it not turning out..cause that’ happened one too many times. But for some reason, I had faith in this recipe. And it only uses 1 cup of the flour, so I felt as though I could sacrifice that, and I am SO glad that I did! I even meant to share some with my gluten-intolerant mother-in-law..but the boys and I loved it so much, we ate it all in two days. Next time… next time.

Gluten Free Banana Bread (adapted from Gutsy)

1 cup coconut flour, sifted
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (2-3 bananas)
4 eggs
6 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
5 Tbsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Lightly oil a bread pan before lining with parchment paper.
Line pan with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, mash the bananas. Add the honey, oil, vanilla, and eggs.
In a small bowl, sift the coconut flour and add baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. (The batter will be VERY thick and will just kind of plop in to the bread pan.)

Pour the batter into your prepared bread pan and spread evenly.
Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Top and edges should be a nice brown color.
Let cool in pan for about 15 minutes.
Place on cooling rack.
You can slice and eat right away!
I ate it with butter, but if you’re going completely clean, just use honey!
You could also add chocolate or carob chips to the batter to add some more texture and flavor. (Yes, I know chocolate chips aren’t clean, but a little won’t hurt, especially if you use a good chocolate brand)

Enjoy!

Catching Up

Wow…it hasn’t even been a whole month since Christmas, but it feels like an eternity!
So much has happened in the past few months and I wanted to fill you in.
It started a couple weeks before Thanksgiving, I found out I was pregnant with baby #3, but only 2 short days later I had a miscarriage. I was glad it happened so early, but it hit me very hard. Thanksgiving was a very hard holiday for me. I started planning for Christmas and got another positive test only a month after my miscarriage and am happy to say that I am pregnant with baby #4! But being pregnant as Christmas was not all fun and games. I was tired and wore myself out baking and cooking and making gifts. And in top of that, I didn’t want eat anything I made, cause I had morning sickness pretty much all the time. That is something I’m still battling.
Then, two weeks ago I got sicl for a day, which messed up the whole week. My hubby then went away for a ‘man camping trip’ and came back with the flu. He was out of service for a week straight. So I spent the whole week cleaning and avoiding him. Plus taking care of our two, very loud and rambunctious boys.
To end it all, my oldest son (almost 4) was sick for a day right after my hubby got better.
It’s been a long couple months and holiday season with many emotional ups and downs. I couldn’t have got through it if it hadn’t been for my Lord Jesus Christ and my friends and family. Seriously, I’ve been through some tough times, but this has beens hard time in my life. And honestly, I don’t think its going to get better any time soon. But I can keep praying.

So, in case you’re wondering if you’ll ever see a recipe on here again. The answer is yes! (oh, did I mention a matchbox car ‘flew’ through our livingroom and made a crack in our computer monitor, so I also dont have access to a computer? Yeah…)

And, if you’re wondering, what I may be craving these days is what you’ll be seeing. Of all things to dislike right now, I dislike chocolate and peanut butter. I know! I must be nuts! 
But all I crave is fresh fruit (mostly berries and citrus), and protein and carbs.
And water is the one thing that usually helps take away any nauseousness I have. Pregnancy is SO weird.

All in all, I feel as though I’m keeping a semi-healthy diet going. Once I’m feeling like moving again, I’m hoping to exercise a little, so when my ‘bean’ comes in August, it will be a little easier the squeeze back into some old clothes for the end of summer. Hey, a girl can dream, right?

Thank you all for being so patient with me all this time. Once I have a working compute again, I’ll be able to post more again! And I hope that’s soon. Cause I have some fun cakes coming up in the next few months too!

God Bless!

No-Cook Mint Patties

004

Today I give you another recipe that has been in my family for as long as I can remember. And although I’m not a huge fan of peppermint, these little candies are delicious and help ‘clear the palate’, if you may.

These are just so simply delicious.

I do suggest NOT using a mixer. I tried, it did not work.

You also could make these for any holiday or event and color them whatever color(s) you would like!

No-Cook Mint Patties

1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 tsp salt
4 3/4 cup powdered sugar
Food Coloring (in this case, red and green)

Blend corn syrup, butter, extract, and salt together.  Add sugar; mix with spoon until it gets too hard to stir, then pour onto a cutting board to knead in the powdered sugar. Knead until smooth.Divide dough into thirds. Add red food to coloring to one-third, green to another, and leave the last white. (Although, I do suggest doing the white first, so you don’t have red and green hands to roll it out. Also, its handy to have gloves, it saves your hands from being colored!)
Shape dough into 1-inch balls; flatten with fork on waxed paper-lined baking sheet.
Let dry for several hours.

Flamingo from 2010It has a bell for a butt!!!

Flamingo from 2010
It has a bell for a butt!!!

Vanilla Bean Salted Caramels

Image

I’ve never been one to make candy. The fudge from yesterday was as close to candy as I’ve ever really gotten. Until last year.

I saw a recipe for caramel. I was in awe. Not to mention that we had just started making our own vanilla, so I had vanilla beans at my disposal. (happy dance!)

I’m pretty sure I made these at least three times last year and only within a couple weeks. Every party I took these to, they got eaten right away! They were that good.

The most difficult thing about these was just finding the fleur de sel. I went to a local bulk foods store that has a plethera of coarse salts, but none with this specific name. And the employees weren’t helpful either. But thankfully, I have had my handy dandy ‘smart’ phone and could look up some other names for it. I ended up buying was called Sel Gris, a french sea salt. It was a little pricey, but I have barely used any of it over the course of the year, so I think it’s well worth the money.

Vanilla Bean Salted Caramels (from Annie’s Eats)Yield: 64 caramels

1 cup heavy cream
5 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean pod, split lengthwise and scraped1 1/4 tsp fleur de sel, plus a little more sprinkling
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water

Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper. Lightly butter the parchment paper.
In a small saucepan, combine the cream, butter, vanilla extract, vanilla bean seeds, pods and fleur de sel.  Cook over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Boil, without stirring but gently swirling the pan occassionaly, until the mixture turns a light golden caramel color.
Remove the vanilla bean pods from the cream mixture and carefully stir the cream mixture into the caramel. The mixture with bubble up, so pour slowly and stir constantly. Continue simmering the mixture until it reaches 248 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
Immediately remove from heat and pour in the the prepared pan.
Let cool for 30 minutes, then sprinkle lightly with fleur de sel.
Continue to let sit until completely set and cooled. Cut in to 1×1 inch pieces.
If I recall, I buttered a pizza cutter and it worked quite well 🙂
Wrap the individual pieces in small pieces of wax paper. (or just eat them all!)

Image

There you have it. Vanilla Bean Salted Caramels. Wasn’t that easy?

Here’s my next flamingo!
Flamingo #5, 2009

Image

Merry Christmas!

The “Wow” Factor

Not long ago, our Sunday school class had a progressive dinner. If you don’t know what that is, I’ll explain it!
A small group of people started out at the “dinner hosts” home. We had some time to chat and get to know each other (technically we already ‘knew’ each other, but it was nice to get to talk without being interrupted by 2 and 3 years-olds constantly.), we ate dinner and ended up just sitting around the table having some great conversations!
After that we all headed to the same house (at least 15 couples! and a few babies) for dessert. The spread looked fantastic!

Image

Yeah, that’s right. Be jealous.

There was SO much. It was so good! I took a couple small pieces of dessert and couldn’t even finish it. But it was so yummy!

Wondering which dessert I made?

ImageWhite Chocolate Mint Mousse Cake. Wow.

I had a really hard time decided what to make for this event. I perused my Pinterest boards. I conferred with Beth, a lot.
I had so many options.
But in the end, I wanted the ‘wow’ factor.
And I got it.

This dessert had a delicious chocolate cake (that could easily be made gluten free, might I add) and a smooth, minty mousse middle. The combination of flavors was superb.

I know what you’re thinking. Mint and chocolate. It’s like PB&J, oreo’s and milk, pickles and ice cream (totally kidding on that last one..I hate pickles) But seriously. The cake wasn’t too sweet and was offset perfectly by the creamy middle. Mmmm, I can still taste it.

White Chocolate Mint Mousse Cake (adapted from Sprinkle Bakes)

For the Cake:
1 cup almond flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour (you can use gluten free all-purpose flour as well)
1/2 cup unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder
4 eggs
1 egg yolk
4 egg whites
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp melted butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line an 11.5×17 inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper; set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat almond flour, powdered sugar, all-purpose flour,cocoa powder, eggs, and egg yolk until combined, scraping the sides as needed.
In a separate bowl, beat egg whites with a hand mixer until foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar and beat until it’s shiny and forms stiff peaks.
With a large rubber spatula, carefully fold the meringue into the flour and egg mixture; trying not to deflate the meringue.
Add the melted butter and again, gently fold in the cake batter, trying not to deflate it.
Pour into prepared pan.
Bake for 5-8 minutes, or until cake springs back when you gently press the center of the cake. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before removing from the pan.
Gently flip the cake on to a cooling rack or towel to cool. Carefully peel away the parchment paper.
Now, in an 8-inch spring-form pan, trim the edges of the cake and carefully line the sides of the spring-form pan with cake. (the cake does not have to come to the top of the pan it can be as short or tall you’d like it to be)
Once you have the sides covered with cake, cut out a circle that will fit remaining bottom of the spring-form pan. Now, set aside.

For the White Chocolate Mint Mousse:
1/4 oz pkg unflavored gelatin (2 tsp)
2 Tbsp cold water
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup hot milk (microwave for about 30 seconds)
8 oz high quality white chocolate (I used Ghirardelli white chips)
1/2 – 1 tsp mint extract (I used a whole tsp)
Few drops of green food coloring (or gel food coloring)
1 1/2 cups whipping cream

Image

In a medium sauce pan, whisk together water and gelatin. Let stand for 1 minute. Whisk in egg yolks and sugar. Stir in hot milk. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 7-10 minutes. Stir in white chocolate chips until melted. No streaks! Let cool. When the mixture is somewhat cool, (I tested it with my finger) add the extract and food coloring. Whip the cream until if forms stiff peaks. Gently fold into the mint mixture until well blended.

Image

Assembly:
Pour the mousse into the cake lined spring-form pan as you can. Smooth the top.
Put the cake in the freezer for about 2-3 hours, or until firm. Remove from freezer and remove cake from spring-form pan. Place on a cake platter or plate.

Melt 1/2-3/4 cup white chocolate chips in the microwave, in 30 second intervals. If it seizes up, add a little oil (i used coconut oil and it worked better than anything I’ve ever tried!) After it’s melted, spread chocolate, relatively thing, on a parchment paper lined jelly roll pan. Place in freezer for a few minutes. (It’s best to have a little melted chocolate left over)Z
After it’s hardened, remove from freezer and gently break in to pieces that are about as tall as the cake. Take the pieces and spread a enough of the extra melted chocolate to attach it to the side of the cake. (Trust me, it works 🙂 )
Cover all the sides of the cake with white chocolate pieces. Store in refrigerator.

Make some whipped cream, by whipping some extra heavy cream and some powdered sugar together. Pipe the whipped cream on top of the cake, or just serve on the side.

Voila!

ImageImage

Image
Flamingo #3, 2007.

The 12 Days of Christmas… Flamingo Style!

I. Love. Christmas.
I do. It’s true.

It is my favorite time of year (besides when it’s actually warm outside…that better than cold, wind, and snow…but still). There’s something magical about this time of year. I know you hear that everywhere. But it’s remembering Jesus’ birth and getting to teach my 2 and 3 year old about Jesus too. It’s the sparkle in their eyes. And the twinkling of the lights on my tree. Sigh…it’s just so perfect.

Every year I make a list of Christmas cookies, candy and treats to make for out parties and gift opening times at other people’s houses. I tend to go overboard. No one needs this many cookies…but I love doing it! And I love giving them away to friends, family and neighbors.

Well, this year I’ve decided to do something special!

12 Days of Christmas Treat just for you guys! Because I love you, so much!

And of course, what is Christmas without a little flamingo added in 😉

There will be some classics, that I’ve made many years and recipes that have been in my family for years and also a few new recipes that I am so excited about! Tomorrow recipe is a new one I tried and it was FANTASTIC! I’m so excited to share these with you and I hope that you will come along on this countdown to Christmas with me!

Thank you to all my readers that support me and have stuck with me during my last month, since it was super slow. I apologize for that. Life gets busy!

I’ll be talking to you soon!

-karen