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Lemon and Blueberry Pie For Pi Day and Debi Baker

1 Apr Lemon Blueberry Tartlets

Earlier this month, as March 14 approached, I started thinking about what kind of pie I wanted to make for Pi Day 2014. Last year I made a Mississippi Mud Pie. And it was delicious! As I contemplated what to make I remembered that my dad had given me a jar of his homemade Meyer lemon custard. (Yea, my dad makes his own lemon custard.) So with that in mind I decided to make a lemon custard pie of some sort. That was Thursday morning. Thursday afternoon one of my dear friends from high school called from Nashville. Her mom had been admitted to the hospital in Santa Barbara with an aggressive form of cancer and she had been given just days to live. My friend (Alex) had just arrived at the airport and was flying out to California. I told her I would meet her at the hospital on Friday morning.

I was devastated. Debi Baker wasn’t your average mom. She had always cut her own path and many times Alex would say she felt like their relationship was more like Lorelei and Rory Gilmore from the TV show “Gilmore Girls”. They trusted each other, took care of each other and were the best of friends. On a Tuesday morning her friends and family gathered to say goodbye and celebrate her life. Debi was big on living in the moment. She traveled even when she had no money. She adopted pets, even after she already had a house full of animals. Debi was loved by many and loved many. I feel privileged to have known her.

There is something about food that has magical powers to make us feel better in bad times. Especially baked goods. This pie is super easy to make and the only thing you bake is the crust. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Lemon Blueberry Pie Ingredients L-R: Blueberries, Pie Crust, Lemon Curd, Whipping Cream, Powdered Sugar, Vanilla

Lemon Blueberry Pie Ingredients L-R: Blueberries, Pie Crust, Lemon Curd, Whipping Cream, Powdered Sugar, Vanilla

LEMON BLUEBERRY PIE (serves about 8)

  • 1 Pie Crust
  • 1 Cup Lemon Curd (8 oz)
  • Whipped Cream (I made this from scratch)
  • About 1 Cup Fresh Blueberries

I like to use frozen pie crusts, it saves a lot of time and tastes just the same as a homemade one (in my humble opinion). (I did make a crust by hand for last year’s pie. It’s up to you.) Lay out your pie crust on an 8 inch pie pan and prick the bottom with a fork. Cut the edges off and you can either discard or save to make mini tarts*. Bake in your preheated oven.

While the crust is baking I made fresh whipped cream.

homemade whipped cream

Whipping the cream in my stand mixer. You can also use a hand a mixer.

When your crust is done let it cool before filling it with your lemon curd. Top with your fresh whipped cream and blueberries. Cover and stick in your refrigerator to cool. Serve chilled and enjoy!

Pie Crust

Pie crust fresh from the oven

Lemon Curd Pie Filling

Meyer Lemon curd fills about 3/4″ of the pie

Whipped cream on top of the lemon curd

Whipped cream on top of the lemon curd

Lemon Blueberry Pie

Lemon Blueberry Pie ready for serving!

*To make mini tarts use a muffin pan and make sure you roll out your crust to be about an 1/8″ thick. Bake for about 5 minutes less than what the regular pie crust was baked for. Let cool, fill with custard, top with whipped cream and blueberries. Share with friends and enjoy one for yourself!

Lemon Blueberry Tartlets

With my extra pie crust I made small tartlets for my roommate and I.

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Secret Kisses Cookies

6 Feb Secret Kisses Cookies cooling on the wire rack after rolling in powdered sugar.

I have a love affair with Hershey’s. Actually, I’ve always had a love affair with chocolate, ever since I was a little girl, but it wasn’t until near the end of my junior year, March 20o2 to be exact, that Hershey’s and I became inseparable. I was appointed to a state office in the California Rainbow for Girls, the Grand Representative to Ohio and Pennsylvania, and since Hershey’s was founded in Pennsylvania, my life was immediately filled with all things Hershey’s and all things chocolate. To this day I see something Hershey and I just have to have it. Earrings, necklace, hoodie, old candy tins, and of course, cookbooks. And so every year during my holiday baking I always use a recipe from these books that uses a whole Hershey’s Kiss. Last year it was chocolate thumbprint cookies and this year it is Secret Kisses Cookies from Hershey’s Kisses Brand Recipes (that is in the shape of a kiss, lol).

33911_A_01_Kisses_EBUI thought I would be clever and use not just regular kisses, but caramel filled ones too. Well…it kind of backfired on me, and while they were baking the caramel proceeded to melt and seep from the cookies. Well drat. Upon eating one later I discovered that the kisses became hollow. Drat again. While some of the caramel stuck to the bottom of the cookies, some melted to the pan. Oh well, have to try it at least once! I don’t know if I’d make these cookies again, I think I prefer the thumbprint ones better. Tell me in the comments below which one you prefer!

Secret Kisses Cookies Ingredients L-R: Flour, Milk Chocolate Kisses, Crisco Butter Flavor, Vanilla, Sugar, Caramel Kisses, Powdered Sugar

Secret Kisses Cookies Ingredients L-R: Flour, Milk Chocolate Kisses, Crisco Butter Flavor, Vanilla, Sugar, Caramel Kisses, Powdered Sugar

SECRET KISSES COOKIES (makes about 3 dozen)

  • 1 Cup Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla
  • 1 3/4 Cups Flour
  • 1 Cup Finely Chopped Walnuts or Almonds (optional)
  • 36 Hershey’s Kisses (I used Milk Chocolate along with a few Caramel filled ones)
  • Powdered Sugar for sprinkling, about 1/4 cup

DON’T preheat the oven as you will need to refrigerate the dough for an hour or two before baking.

In your stand mixer (or large mixing bowl if using a hand mixer), cream together your softened butter and sugar until fluffy on high-speed. On a low-speed slowly add in your flour (and nuts if you choose-I did not) and mix until well blended. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours until the dough is firm.

Secret Kisses Cookies

Creaming together the butter and sugar

Secret Kisses Cookies

Mixing in the flour to form the dough.

Once dough is firm, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and unwrap your kisses. Scoop out about one tablespoon of dough and form a  ball around each kiss. Make sure that the kiss is completely covered by the dough.

Secret Kisses Cookies

Secret Kisses Cookies ready for the oven!

Bake each sheet for 10 to 12 minutes. Start at 10 minutes and increase by 1 minute at a time if additional baking time is needed. When done let cool for about 2 minutes then remove to wire racks to finish cooling.

Secret Kisses Cookies fresh from the oven.

Secret Kisses Cookies fresh from the oven.

Before completely cool though, roll in powdered sugar (or sprinkle over cookies). Enjoy!

Secret Kisses Cookies cooling on the wire rack after rolling in powdered sugar.

Secret Kisses Cookies cooling on the wire rack after rolling in powdered sugar. You can see one in the upper right that has caramel leaking, lol.

Baking Flashback

17 Dec ghiradelli chocolate truffles

Last week I started my annual holiday baking that I give as gifts. Last year I shared it all with you, and while I will  be doing posts on all new baking again this year, there are a few items that are repeats. So here’s what I’ve made this year that was made last year. I hope you enjoy these baking favorites and share with your own family and friends! Merry Christmas!

  1. THREE GREAT TASTES BLONDE BROWNIES
    Chocolate, White and Peanut Butter Chips in these yummy blonde brownies!
  2. CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES
    Rolled in Cocoa, Toffee Bits, Peppermint Bark
  3. PUMPKIN SPICE COOKIES
    Not the cookie cutter version
Three Great Tastes Blonde Brownies

Three Great Tastes Blonde Brownies fresh from the oven!

ghiradelli chocolate truffles

Chocolate Truffles ready for consuming!

Alternative Pumpkin Pies

5 Dec Persimmon Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Tofu Pie

A little less than 2 weeks before Thanksgiving I asked my Facebook followers if they had any questions for me about Thanksgiving cooking and a friend asked about a pumpkin pie made with tofu. I thought “Tofu?! Never!” But I knew that she couldn’t be the only one who ever wanted to know about a tofu pumpkin pie. I told her that I had never done it, but that I would find recipes from trusted cooks for her to try. And find I did and sent them to her to try out. Then I posed to her that if she liked, she could document her own cooking adventures and be a guest blogger. She agreed with gusto and over the holiday weekend I received the following post from her. So from Jessica’s kitchen to yours, enjoy a tofu pumpkin pie and a persimmon pumpkin pie!

Persimmon Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Tofu Pie

I asked Sarah for some recommendations for a good Tofu Pumpkin Pie recipe. Not only did she recommend a great recipe from AllRecipes.com but she also recommended to try a Persimmon-Pumpkin Pie recipe from Giada de Laurentiis. Below you will see how my cooking adventure turned out.

Jessica Clara Sousa

Guest Blogger, Jessica Clara Sousa

TOFU PUMPKIN PIE (as made by Jessica Clara Sousa)

For The Crust (Vegan):

  • 2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup (2 sticks) Earth Balance Butter, cut into 1/4″ cubes and refrigerated about 15 minutes
  • 2 Tbsp Powdered Sugar
  • Ice Cold Water (have about 1/3 cup handy, but only add enough as needed)

Pie Filling:

  • 1 Package (10.5 oz.) Silken Tofu, drained
  • 1 Can (16 oz.) Pumpkin Puree
  • 3/4 Cup White Sugar
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 Tsp Ground Cloves

THE CRUST

  1. Place all the ingredients except the water in a glass or steel bowl. Using a fork, mix the ingredients.
  2. Slowly drizzle the cold water, a tablespoon at a time, over the flour mixture, mixing with the fork quickly until the dough starts to clear the sides of the bowl and comes together.
  3. Shape the dough into a disc and wrap in cling wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator for at least an hour or longer. The dough can also be frozen and used for a later date.
  4. Once the dough is set, remove from fridge and push into pie pan so it goes all the way up the sides.
Vegan pie crust for pumpkin pie

Vegan crust for pumpkin pie

vegan pie crust

Vegan crust for the pumpkin pie ready for the oven!

THE FILLING

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, then start the filling.
  2. Place the filling ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth. You may need to use a little bit of water to help it puree.
  3. Once smooth, pour into the pie crust.

    Tofu Pumpkin Pie

    Tofu Pumpkin Pie ready for the oven

  4. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and continue baking until a knife inserted into the mixture comes out clean, about 40 minutes more. Cool before serving.
tofu pumpkin pie

Tofu Pumpkin Pie ready for serving!

Bloggers Note: This recipe is great but I felt it needed some more spices (about a teaspoon more of cloves, tablespoon of cinnamon and and added teaspoon of nutmeg) and I used agave instead of sugar. Also, to do the decorative braid, roll out the remaining dough and cut into strips. Using the three strips make a braid. Add more lengths of the braid as needed to fit around the entire rim.

PERSIMMON PUMPKIN PIE

For The Crust:

  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon fine salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, diced
  • 3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese, chilled
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons apricot preserves

Pie Filling:

  • 1 cup canned pure pumpkin
  • Two 6- to 7-ounce ripe Fuyu persimmons, trimmed, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (or 1 cup of persimmon pulp from two 6- to 7-ounce very ripe Hachiya persimmons)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup mascarpone
  • ⅓ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

THE CRUST

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9-inch-diameter glass or ceramic pie dish with vegetable oil cooking spray.

In a food processor, blend the flour, sugar and salt until combined. Add the butter and mascarpone cheese and blend until moist clumps form. Gather the dough into a ball. Drop 2-inch pieces of dough over the bottom and sides of the pie dish. Using moist fingertips press the dough together to form a smooth crust. Using the tines of a fork, prick the dough all over.

persimmon crust2

Bake the crust until the edge is browned and the center of the crust is pale golden, about 25 minutes. Transfer the crust to a work surface. Brush the bottom and sides of the crust with apricot preserves.

persimmon crust3Bloggers Note: This crust shrinks so make sure you have the crust all the way to the top of the pan and over the lip if you can.

THE FILLING

In a food processor, combine the pumpkin and persimmon. Blend until smooth. Add the sugar, mascarpone, cream, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt and eggs. Blend until smooth. Pour the filling into the cooked crust.

persimmon pumpkin pie filling

The filling for the persimmon pumpkin pie.

Bloggers Note: Make sure to have a great working food processor/blender otherwise it will take forever to blend all of the ingredients. I sadly have a lame blender so I sat and waited……

Bake the pie until slits or cracks appear around the edge and the center is set, about 35 minutes. Cool the pie on a rack. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Bake and cool to room temperature. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate.)

Just before serving, dust the top of the pie with powdered sugar, which I obviously forgot to do, oops! Cut into wedges and serve.

persimmon pumpkin pie

Persimmon Pumpkin Pie ready for serving! Enjoy!

Chocolate Cheesecake For My Anniversary

4 Oct Chocolate Cheesecake

So about a week ago was my 1 year blog anniversary. I couldn’t believe that it had been a year since I began sharing my recipes with everyone. I knew that I wanted to make something special, but it wasn’t until just a few days before my anniversary that I knew exactly what it would be: a chocolate cheesecake. Back home my dad is kind of famous for his baking. A jar of his cookies once started a bidding war at a silent auction for Visalia Assembly of the California Rainbow for Girls that even involved the jar being “misplaced” and a record winning bid. It was quite an eventful auction, and one that we still talk about, lol. Well his other signature baking dish is his cheesecake, specifically his chocolate cheesecake. Since I was in high school I would ask my dad to make one as my birthday cake. And when my dad came down for my birthday in 2012 he made one and bought a springform pan that he left for me so I could make one myself. I was always scared to make one because his are soooo good, even though he gave me the recipe while I was still in college. Well 19 months later I finally conquered my fear and made one myself. This one served as a birthday cake for my dad and my sister on a visit home. Enjoy!

Chocolate Cheesecake Ingredients L-R: Vanilla, Chocolate Graham Crackers, Eggs, Butter, Cream Cheese, Cocoa Powder, Sour Cream, Chocolate Chips, Sugar

Chocolate Cheesecake Ingredients L-R: Vanilla, Chocolate Graham Crackers, Eggs, Butter, Cream Cheese, Cocoa Powder, Sour Cream, Chocolate Chips, Sugar

CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE (serves about 12)

  • 1 Pkg. Chocolate Wafer Cookies or 1 Box of Chocolate Graham Crackers
  • 1/2 Cup (1 stick) Unsalted Butter
  • 24 oz. Cream Cheese
  • 1 Cup Sugar plus 3 Tbsp
  • 1 1/2 Cups Sour Cream (24 oz)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla
  • 10 oz. Chocolate Chips (I used Ghiradelli 60% chips)
  • 1/2 Cup Seedless Raspberry or Apricot Preserves (optional)
  • 9″ Springform Pan (an 8″ or 10″ one will work too)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Make your crust first. In a food processor crush the cookies until fine. You might need to hand crush a few larger pieces if you use graham cracker cookies (like I did). Transfer crumbs to a small mixing bowl. In a small pot melt your butter. Add the melted butter and the three tablespoons of sugar to the cookie crumbs and mix well.

Chocolate Graham Crackers

Chocolate Graham Crackers ready for the Cuisinart

Graham Cracker Crust

Above: The crust mixture
Below: The crust all set in the pan.

Transfer to your cake pan and press into the bottom and up the sides to form the crust (see above). It’s okay if the crust doesn’t go all the way up to the top of the pan.

Next make the filling. My dad uses his Cuisinart food processor, I used my Kitchen Aid mixer, you can also use a hand mixer or a spoon, it’s up to you. Mix together the cream cheese, remaining sugar and sour cream. Blend until smooth. Add in the eggs and mix well. Finally add in your cocoa powder and vanilla (on a low setting if using a mixer).

Cream Cheese, Sugar, Sour Cream, Cocoa Powder, Vanilla

Clockwise from Top Left: Mixing the cream cheese and sugar. After mixing in the sour cream and eggs. Adding in the cocoa powder and vanilla (so pretty!). After they’re mixed in the color doesn’t change much.

Melt your chocolate chips either in a microwavable safe bowl or in a double boiler on the stove. A double boiler consists of a pot of water with either a fitted pot on top (you can buy a set) or what I do, a bowl.

Chocolate Chips, Double Boiler

Melting the chocolate chips in my homemade double boiler

Add melted chocolate to mixture and blend until mixture is smooth.

Melted Chocolate

Melted Chocolate

Mixing in the melted chocolate. Isn’t it pretty!

Pour mixture into cake pan and put into oven. Bake for 50 minutes for a 9 inch pan (1 hour for an 8 inch pan). When done, remove from the oven and let cool. It will puff up above the pan (see photo below) while baking, which is completely normal.

Chocolate Cheesecake

Cheesecake is ready for the oven

Chocolate Cheesecake

Fresh from the oven! As you can see it puffed up about an inch. It will go down later.

Store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to serve. When ready to serve melt about 1/2 cup of seedless raspberry or apricot preserves in the microwave and pour over the top and spread over the top.

Chocolate Cheesecake

After cooling for about 45 minutes or so it deflated and is ready to go in the fridge.

Chocolate Cheesecake

The ring has been removed and is almost ready for serving, just going to add the jam.

I recommend thin slices, as it’s very rich. Enjoy with a cold glass of milk or a cup of coffee!

Chocolate Cheesecake

It’s finally ready to be served.

Chocolate Cheesecake

Served best with a cold glass of milk! Enjoy!

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