Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Lemon Meringue Pie Bites

So it was my turn to work at the hospitality table at church this past weekend. I wanted to bake something special (of course), but  I also wanted it to be bite-sized.  Because not everyone likes to have sweets for breakfast. Weirdos.


Anyhoo, I decided to make mini lemon meringue pies.  Because. Pie.  And since I have a love/hate relationship with pie crust, I decided to cheat and use my sugar cookie dough as the crust.  (The boy said that if I had added a layer of cake it would have been the perfect dessert.)

After making the dough, I got out my mini muffin pan and my small Pampered Chef scoop and got to work rolling balls of dough.  My very favorite activity in the whole wide world! [Insert sarcasm font here]


After rolling the dough, I used the Pampered Chef mini tart-shaper to make the balls into shells. Confession: I have had the tart-shaper tool for about 14 years and this is the second time I've used it for its intended purpose. The first time I made pecan tassies.  They were divine, but they stuck to the pan so badly that I had to chip them out and only like, six of them could be salvaged, so I ate them all and never used the tool again.


I am happy to report that this time the tart shells were successful.


When they were done baking they popped right out of the pan.  But I didn't take a picture of that part.

Moving on.

I made lemon pie filling while the shells were baking. Then I piped the very hot filling into the baked shells with a piping bag, giving myself some pretty wicked burns in the process.  Turns out you can let the filling cool down some because these aren't real lemon meringue pies, and we don't have to worry about putting the meringue onto hot filling.


Next I whipped up some meringue and piped a blob onto each of the pies using an open star tip.  You can't tell, though.  A round tip would have worked just as well.


And into the oven for 10 minutes or so.



I thought they came out cute.


They were pretty good overall.  The cookie dough was a little poofy, so I didn't get as much filling as I would have liked; however, most of the people who ate them liked the cookie-to-filling ratio.  The rest of us wanted a little more filling.  Next time I'll just use a little less cookie dough in the shells.

Specifics:

I think I used about 1 recipe of cookie dough (I always make a double batch and I used about half) and got 72 tarts.  I baked the tarts at 350F for 16 or so minutes.  Just until slightly golden around the edges.  Once the meringue was on, I baked them in a 375F oven for 10 minutes.

I made one batch of pie filling and had about 3/4 of a cup left over.  I gave the leftovers to the boy to celebrate him getting his black belt in Taekwondo. He was quite pleased.

Here's photo of the boy giving Arnold what-for:



Well, that's all for now.

Enjoy!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Peeps Cookies

When I saw the Peeps cookie cutters at Michael's, I had to get them. I didn't even try to rationalize it.  They're Peeps cookie cutters for crying out loud. Who needs a reason?


The boy, being a purist at heart just like his mother, refuses to eat the bunny Peeps.  He calls them impostors.  Somehow he learned that Peeps were originally chicks.


He's my boy and I love him, but he's a little odd sometimes...


I thought the pink bunny Peeps were cute.

They're iced yellow or pink, and covered with regular granulated sugar.  Easiest. Cookies. Ever.

That's all for now.

Enjoy!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Going Away Cake

Two of my coworkers moved on to bigger and better things last week.  Jerks.

Just kidding. I wish them all the best.  And to prove it, I made a cake.


Whenever I decorate with buttercream, my cakes come out looking like grocery store cakes.  Oh well.  Lemon cake with vanilla buttercream.

Good luck, guys!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Toad-In-the-Hole

Guess what the girl ordered for her special birthday dinner?  OK, you'll never guess.

Toad-in-the-hole and macaroni and cheese from a box.  So much for healthy eating.  And all of the wonderful from-scratch macaroni and cheese I've made over the years.



So, have you heard of toad-in-the-hole?  It's British.  Only I didn't know it was British when I first started making it.  The first recipe I found for toad-in-the-hole wasn't a really good one, but I knew it should be good. If only I knew what to do.

So I did some digging and found out the "hole" is Yorkshire Pudding.  Seriously awesome stuff.  The toad is sausage.  I believe you're supposed to use something called "bangers", but that's not an item I can easily get here.  So Bob Evans bulk sausage it is!

**If anyone reading this blog knows how to make real, authentic toad-in-a-hole, feel free to leave me some pointers.  But this is how I make it and it's the girl's favorite dinner in the whole world.**

Start by mixing 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1 1/2 cups of milk, 1 1/2 cups of eggs and 1/2 tsp salt in a large bowl.  Whisk until perfectly smooth.  Now let that sit for about 20 minutes so all the air bubbles rise to the surface.

Preheat your oven to 400F.  While that heats, fry some sausage in an oven-proof skillet.  I use my handy-dandy stainless steel saute pan. Please don't judge the condition of my stovetop. It's clean now, I promise.


Once the sausage is all cooked through, and while the pan is still smoking hot, pour in the egg/milk/flour mixture.


See all that grease?  That's what makes the magic happen.  Don't pour it off beforehand or your dinner will be RUINED.

Throw the pan into the hot oven and bake,uncovered, for 40 - 45 minutes. Do NOT peek in the oven to see how it's going.  Turn on the light and strain your eyes looking through the little window, but do not open the door.

When it's done, it should look like this:


See how high it is over the side of the pan? It will sink a bit as it cools, but it will still be high.  The brown crispy bits around the edge are to die for.  Seriously. I can't help but pick a piece off every time I walk by.

Oh, and be sure to cover the handle of your pan after you take it out of the oven. I usually put an oven mitt over mine.  Because it's a handle.  And even if I know it's hot, I grab the handle. Over and over again. I'm smart like that.

Cut it into wedges and serve with a side of mac & cheese and a veggie. Heavenly when hot. Not so much when cold, so eat it right away.

Anyhoo, this is not a healthy meal option, but it's really good and you should make it. (Oh, and it's called toad-in-the-hole because the sausages bake with little air pockets around them and they look like toads in holes when it's done.)

Toad-in-the-Hole

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, unbleached
1 1/2 cups whole milk, room temperature
1 1/2 cups eggs (7 or 8 large)
1/2 tsp salt

1 pound bulk pork sausage, cut into patties

Mix milk, flour eggs, and salt in a large bowl with a whisk until smooth.  Set aside for 20 - 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400F.

Fry sausage until cooked through.  Pour flour/egg/milk mixture onto cooked sausage while the pan is still very hot. (Don't drain the grease first.)

Bake in a preheated oven for 40-45 minutes until puffy and golden brown and delicious.

Well, that's all for now.

Enjoy!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Barbie Birthday Cake

So there is technically no Barbie on this cake.  In fact, to look at this cake you'd wonder what the heck Barbie has to do with it at all.  Let me explain.

The girl has become enamored of "Barbie: Life in the Dream House" on Netflix.  There are 4-ish episodes available to stream.  We may have seen each episode approximately 32 times.

But, getting back to the cake, in one of the episodes Chelsea is turning 6.  Chelsea gets a birthday cake.  My precious little princess wanted a replica of Chelsea's cake for her birthday.

Chelsea's cake:


The girls' cake:


Here's the deal.  When I mixed the fondant and started decorating on the morning of the party, the fondant was the shade of pink in the first picture above.  By the time we got to the venue (ok, my brother's house), it had faded to the shade directly above. I was a bit annoyed.  I was out of Americolor Pink, so I used Wilton instead.  Never again.

But, it still came out cute.  And the girl didn't notice it wasn't pink enough. Bottom tier was chocolate, middle was strawberry and top was coconut.


But she had a great birthday.  More on her special birthday dinner later.

That's all for now.

Enjoy!