Saturday, July 9, 2022

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie

My favorite balance of creamy and tart. Recipe from here.

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks
1⁄2 cup Nellie & Joe's key lime juice
1 9-inch graham cracker crust
Whipped cream

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Beat softened cream cheese until creamy.
  3. Add sweetened condensed milk and beat to incorporate.
  4. Add egg yolks and beat well.
  5. Add lime juice and beat till combined.
  6. Pour mixture into pie crust and spread with spatula until evenly distributed. Place on cookie sheet and then into the oven and bake for 10 minutes, until the filling begins to set.
  7. Remove from oven and allow to cool on rack at room temperature. Then place in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Two works better.
  8. Cut into 8 slices and serve with a generous helping of whipped cream.

Friday, July 8, 2022

Brownies

I use Pinterest to organize my recipes, but I have probably a dozen brownie variations saved. This is my go-to brownie recipe, a dense, fudgy base for whatever mix-ins we want. People always like them, probably because there's a stick of butter in there. Also it uses cocoa, so there's no melting of chocolate. One bowl and a spoon, y'all.

Recipe by Cafe Delites <--- check out all their other brownie recipes

The Best Fudgy Cocoa Brownies

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and HOT
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 1/8 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all purpose (or plain) flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Optional add-ins: chocolate chips, white chips, Craisins

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Lightly grease an 8-inch square baking pan with cooking oil spray. Line with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Combine hot melted butter, oil and sugar together in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk well for about a minute. Add the eggs and vanilla; beat until lighter in color (another minute).
  4. Sift in flour, cocoa powder and salt. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until JUST combined (do NOT over-beat as doing so well affect the texture of your brownies).
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing the top out evenly. (OPTIONAL: Top with chocolate chunks or chocolate chips.)
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes (but check at 18), or until the center of the brownies in the pan no longer jiggles and is just set to the touch (the brownies will keep baking in the hot pan out of the oven). If testing with a toothpick, the toothpick should come out dirty for fudge-textured brownies.
  7. Remove and allow to cool to room temperature before slicing into 16 brownies.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Most people like chocolate chip cookies, but not everyone likes the same attributes. I like tall ones that are barely baked. This is the recipe I use, adapted from this one, which is a Levain Bakery copycat. Yield: 24 cookies

Ingredients

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl add the butter and sugars. Using a hand or stand mixer cream the butter and sugars together until fluffy.
  2. Add egg and vanilla and mix until combined.
  3. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix until combined. The dough might seem crumbly.
  4. Pour in the chocolate chips and use your hands or a strong spoon to mix them in. This will bring the dough together. Be gentle though. We don't want to compact the dough too much. We want to keep it as airy as possible.
  5. Chill the cookie dough for at least 30 minutes. (If you are freezing dough balls* you can skip this step). Preheat the oven to 375 during this time. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  6. Scoop dough using #40 (1½ Tbsp) scoop.
  7. Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes. The tops will start showing golden brown. Do not overbake.
  8. Cool on the baking sheet for a minute, then remove to a wire rack to continue cooling. 
*Unbaked cookie dough balls freeze well for up to 3 months. Scoop onto a small baking sheet (it's okay for them to touch) and freeze for a few hours, then transfer cookie dough balls to a freezer bag to store. Bake frozen cookie dough balls for 13-14 minutes, no need to thaw.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Ultimate Chocolate Indulgence Cookies

Rich, chocolatey cookies with a brownie-like crackle on top, available in Wegmans bakeries. You could just buy some (they're $2 each) and I do on my birthday, but I also like figuring out how to make amazing food at home. They're labeled in the store as gluten-free, and after trying several flourless recipes resembling meringue and Swedish kladdkaka, the pandemic hit and I was focused on other things. Then when Wegmans started packaging them in groups with a label (covid) I saw oat flour listed in the ingredients and so I tried a few more recipes that weren't The One either, and got discouraged. I also figured Wegmans probably has its own chocolate plantation and grinds its own nibs, so mere mortals couldn't possibly recreate them at home. (Cocoa butter is also on the ingredients list and that's where I drew the line). Months later I was excited to find this recipe developed by Cookie Madness at the same time as my quest. I tweaked it a bit and doubled the amounts since 6 cookies is not enough for this house, especially with the research suggested in step 6. Now I get 26 cookies with the #40 scoop.

Ingredients 

  • 168g dark chocolate,* coarsely chopped (about a cup) 
  • 56g (2 oz) unsweetened chocolate (half of a Baker's bar), broken up
  • 6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder  
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar 
  • 2/3 cup oat flour**
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips 

*Dark chocolate is often sold in 100g bars, so keep that in mind when purchasing. I usually weigh mine out just to be sure, but I bet you could eyeball it if you're good with fractions (1 2/3 bars).

**I used my food processor to pulverize rolled oats the first time, but even after several minutes there were chunks. I have used store-bought oat flour since that, and like the results. Next time I'm substituting all-purpose flour since we eat gluten.

Instructions 

  1. In a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup, melt the dark chocolate, unsweetened chocolate and butter together by microwaving on high and stirring every 15-30 seconds. Set aside to cool.
  2. With an electric mixer combine the eggs, espresso, and vanilla. Add sugar and beat for about two minutes. Mix in the cooled melted chocolate mixture.
  3. In a small bowl mix together the oat flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix this into the chocolate mixture on low until just combined.
  4. Fold in the chocolate chips by hand. Chill dough for 30 minutes***, then preheat the oven to 325 degrees. 
  5. Using a medium cookie scoop (1.5T/size 40), portion out dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Check off your arm workout for today. Rawr!  ***If you plan to freeze the unbaked dough you can skip the chill time and scoop right away onto a small cookie sheet to freeze. Once frozen, transfer dough balls to a zipper bag and return to freezer until ready to bake.
  6. Bake chilled dough for 10-12 minutes, frozen dough a few minutes longer. Do not overbake. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. I love eating freshly baked cookies, but I also love the crunch of the chocolate chips when they're fully cooled. Do your own research on that though.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Tomato Pie





It's late July and we’ve moved into the hot, praying-for-rain, beetles-eating-roses part of the year. There are precious few things I love about summer, so I did make a list to remind myself...
Picking strawberries, cherries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, figs Floating in the river Turning off the alarm clock for a couple months Hammock & book Baking with berries
BLTs with fresh tomatoes Fireworks
Drought-tolerant perennials Lightning bugs Corn on the cob Sunsets at the river Warm peaches Lilly Pulitzer prints
Watermelon Homemade ice cream Zinnias Docktails Picking steamed crabs
Paddleboarding Hiking in the mountains Tomato Pie

Wait. Tomato... pie? Like a dessert? No, ma'am. (I'm southern enough to use ma'am but not southern enough to grow up eating tomato pie. (My mom is from Oklahoma and my hometown in Virginia changed hands over 70 times during the Civil War). If you don't like tomatoes you may move right along because you probably won't like tomato pie, but if you do like summer-ripe tomatoes and cheese and fresh basil then consider making this.

Tomato Pie

(In typical Anne fashion I am philosophically somewhere in the middle... this time between Paula and Bobby Deen).

Ingredients 1 frozen deep-dish pie crust 1/2 cup mozzarella or Italian blend shredded cheese
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
4 plum tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup light mayonnaise 2-4 shakes hot sauce 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Directions Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line crust with foil and cover bottom with pie weights or dried beans. Bake crust until edges are lightly browned, 10-12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Remove foil and weights. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F. Sprinkle 1/4 cup mozzarella evenly on the bottom of the cooled crust; top with the tomato slices, overlapping to fit. Sprinkle the tomatoes with the salt and top with the basil. Combine the mayo, hot sauce and the remaining cheese in a medium bowl until blended; spread over the tomatoes, almost to the crust. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, until the filling is hot and the top is browned and bubbly, 30-35 minutes. Serve warm.

Hope you're embracing summer!

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Maine

When our kids were little our parents would sometimes watch them while Steve and I had a getaway, and a few years ago our Week of Freedom was offered in August. Bleh. Where could we go that is wonderful then? Alaska? Banff? Maine, it was decided, and it was incredible. But that Summer of 6 and 9 was when I realized that we had turned a corner and our kids were fun to travel with (and still enjoyed being with us). When we got to Maine with all the wonderful hikes and rock scrambling we immediately said we needed to bring the kids back. 

Last time we flew into Boston and explored Gloucester and Rockport, MA on the way up. This time we drove the whole way, staying overnight along the way in order to stretch our legs and explore places like... 

  • Downtown Portsmouth, NH - we got French pastries at La Maison Navarre
  • Nubble light
  • Kennebunkport - Sea Glass is a well-curated jewelry shop
  • traffic detour through adorable Ogunquit, which we wouldn't have seen otherwise
  • Portland Head lighthouse
  • Boothbay Harbor and Ocean Point Walk - would love to spend more time here, stayed only long enough to enjoyed interesting hot dogs, waffles, and ice cream at Wannawaf, and our first lobster roll (warm and buttery "naked," not lobster salad) from Shannon's Unshelled
  • Bath Iron Works - got a peek at ships being built from a dog park along the river 
  • Rockland - wonderful main street - it was Sunday this time and many places were closed, but we did go see the lighthouse on the breakwater 
  • Sea Dog Brewery, which overlooks the harbor in Camden - ate here on our previous trip  

Steve and I found sea glass, too. 
Last time Steve and I stayed at the wonderfully cheap Robbins Motel on Mount Desert Island and just walked to the nearby restaurants for several of our meals. MDI has an interesting mix of the Vineyard Vines vacationers in Bar Harbor right alongside the hikers fresh off the trails of Acadia National Park. For this trip we rented an adorable cottage where we'd have a kitchen and separate bedrooms. It had access to the shoreline as well, and the kids spent hours playing with rocks. Stacking, skipping, trying to break them, etc. It was about half an hour past the turn for Schoodic Peninsula, so that was the first place we ventured after a day playing Risk and reading books at the cottage. 

Schoodic Point is part of Acadia, a huge rocky shoreline to climb on with tidepools at low tide and crashing waves to watch. After that we headed to the smaller-scale Grindstone Point for more rock scrambling and "pinballing." It was foggy that day, but we could just make out the silhouette of the Beehive over on MDI (foreshadowing).

New day... time for Acadia! Beehive Trail goes straight up from Sand Beach parking area, and is clearly a crowd favorite as the parking lot is full by 8:30 in season. It took us under half an hour to get to the top and another hour to hike down the back way, past The Bowl. Beehive has some spots with iron rungs to help people grip the rocks, which can feel a little dicey, but our kids (now 9 and 12) were champs and this ranks up there as one of our favorite hikes anywhere.

At low tide you can walk out on the sandbar to Bar Island from Bar Harbor, but this time we didn't time it right and just sat on the green for a picnic lunch with a view of the boats. Then we got ice cream (blueberry, of course) and fudge and tshirts, as one does in Bar Harbor. My son picked a shirt with a drawing of Bass Harbor light, so we decided to check that out next. Southwest Harbor is a sweet little village, and this time we got flavored tea and lemonade from Sips and a lobster roll from Beal's. I'm not a big shopper, but I enjoy handmade things, so I like visiting Island Artisans in BH and Southwest Harbor Artisans.

Cobblestone bridge over Jordan Pond Stream
We went back to Acadia the next day because the forecast looked the best of those remaining. Not wanting to fight crowds, we took the shuttle from the visitor's center to Jordan Pond House. We wanted to see some of the carriage roads, so we hiked along Jordan Pond Stream (pretty trail) to this cobblestone bridge, then we wanted to do a hike with a view so we took Spring Trail, hiked up Penobscot Mountain, down Deer Brook, enjoyed the breeze off Jordan Pond, then finished with Jordan Pond Path along the lake, back to JP House. I would love to explore more of the central mountain area of Acadia. Last time Steve and I did the St. Saveur & Acadia Mountain loop with incredible views of Somes Sound. Acadia NP has so many great views because it has mountains right next to the ocean.

Looking back on the way up Penobscot


The next day was rainy, so we hiked up Pigeon Hill near our cottage, and hung out in Winter Harbor, including seeing Prospect Point light and eating at J.M. Gerrish Cafe, where one can get blueberry pancakes and a lobster roll. We also got a doormat made from lobster rope at the 5 & 10. Then it was time to pack up and head home, but we did stop along the way at Maine Beer Company and the LL Bean outlet and flagship stores in Freeport.

We're already talking about next time!  

Monday, June 7, 2021

Coffee Toffee Ice Cream

 My favorite ice cream flavor is Hershey's Cappuccino Crunch: Coffee ice cream with a dark chocolate spiral and almond toffee pieces. I can't find it around here, plus my daughter has a new interest in making ice cream (and also can't have almonds which are in the toffee crunch component of the real thing). So I cobbled together different recipes and I'm keeping my notes here for future reference. 


Toffee Bits
First I made almondless toffee according to this recipe. If almonds aren't an issue you can just use Heath bits, available near the chocolate chips. If you want toffee in every bite use a cup of bits. If you're not crazy about toffee chunks a half-cup will suffice. Or use Oreo bits as the original recipe suggests.

Fudge Swirl
(under construction)
For Round 1 I used the brownie batter element from this recipe. It was darn delicious, but didn't give that fudgy chew characteristic of real Cappuccino Crunch. I may just try hot fudge. I'm still working down the first batch, so I will update this after Round 2. Chocolate chips will not give the intended result. If you want to read more about that, check out this article about ice cream mix-ins. 

Coffee Ice Cream Base (recipe from King Arthur Flour)

1 cup (227g) cold whole milk
3/4 cup (149g) sugar
2 tablespoons (11g) espresso powder
2 tablespoons (11g) unsweetened cocoa, Dutch-process or natural
2 cups (454g) cold heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk or mix together the milk, sugar, espresso powder, and cocoa until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.

When the ice cream maker is almost finished doing its thing, throw the toffee bits in for about 30 seconds. Quickly transfer half of it to a freezer container, layer on half of the Fudge Swirl, and repeat. Throw it in the coldest freezer you have. I love that this recipe stays scoopable. And I love the flavor of this coffee base, although I'm curious to try another version that includes sweetened condensed milk.

Round 1