Sunday, June 26, 2011

Banana Cream Pie

After I had my baby, my friend brought over her family's favorite dessert - Banana Pudding. I think my husband and I ate the entire pan that night. It had layers of Pepperidge Farm Chessman cookies, bananas, and was so rich, creamy and delicious. I emailed her and said I wanted the recipe, but I couldn't wait for her to respond. So I started a search for banana pudding and found Paula Dean's Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding. I knew I had found the recipe.

My husband requested a banana cream pie for Father's Day. First off, he LOVES banana cream pie. Second, he wanted something easy so that I wasn't spending the whole day in the kitchen slaving away. I searched for recipes but all of the ones that appealed to me involved turning on the oven and stove.

In the end I decided to use a store-bought Nilla wafer crust (gasp!) and filled it with bananas and the pudding from Paula Dean's recipe. My husband guessed right away what I had done. There is no mistaking this pudding. It's a combination of french vanilla pudding, cream cheese, and whipped topping. A-MAZING. And it is so easy. Some may call it cheating, but I just call it good eats.

Banana Cream Pie
Adapted from Paula Dean's Not Yo' Mama's Banana Pudding
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1 Nilla wafer crust
3 to 4 bananas, sliced
1 cup milk
1 (3.4 oz) box instant French vanilla pudding
1/2 pkg (4 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 can (7 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 container (6 oz) frozen whipped topping thawed, or equal amount sweetened whipped cream

Layer the sliced bananas on the bottom of the crust.

In a bowl, combine the milk and pudding mix and blend well using a handheld electric mixer. Using another bowl, combine the cream cheese and condensed milk together and mix until smooth. Fold the whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture. Add the cream cheese mixture to the pudding mixture and stir until well blended. Pour the mixture over the bananas.

Refrigerate until ready to serve, at least 2 hours.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Key Lime Bars

Key limes will always remind me of my 2nd anniversary. We went on a cruise to the Bahamas, and one of our stops was Key West, Florida. They had these touristy shops with everything key lime - so of course I indulged and bought things like key lime taffy and key lime fudge. Me and key limes. We're tight.

I've had my eye on Nellie and Joe's Key West lime juice for years but had never bought it. Until a week ago. I didn't have a reason for buying it. I wanted to have it, just in case.

Well, the awesome people at America's Test Kitchen must have known I was in the market for a recipe to use it on, so they sent me a link to their Key Lime Bars. Granted, probably a million other people got this link via their newsletter, but I still felt like it was directed at me. And I was co-hosting a baby shower that needed some serious delicious desserts. Perfect.

These bars tasted so fresh and creamy! I loved the addition of cream cheese to the filling. There was just the right amount so that it didn't overpower the lime flavor, and the toasted coconut added such great texture. (You'll just have to imagine my pictures with toasted coconut because I took these pictures before it was added). The perfect summer treat!

Key Lime Bars
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated and Joy of Baking
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1 1/4 c graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

2 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 tbsp grated lime zest
pinch table salt
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 egg yolk
1/2 c fresh lime juice, either Key lime or regular

Garnish (optional)
3/4 c sweetened shredded coconut , toasted until golden and crisp

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut about 12-inch length extra-wide heavy-duty foil; fold cut edges back to form 7 1/2-inch width. With folded sides facing down, fit foil securely into bottom and up sides of 8-inch-square baking pan, allowing excess to overhang pan sides. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray.

To make the crust: Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake for about 10 minutes or until set and lightly browned. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool while you make the filling

To make the filling: While crust cools, in medium bowl, stir cream cheese, zest, and salt with rubber spatula until softened, creamy, and thoroughly combined. Add sweetened condensed milk and whisk vigorously until incorporated and no lumps of cream cheese remain; whisk in egg yolk. Add lime juice and whisk gently until incorporated (mixture will thicken slightly).

To assemble and bake: Pour filling into crust; spread to corners and smooth surface with rubber spatula. Bake until set and edges begin to pull away slightly from sides, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Cover with foil and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours.

Loosen edges with paring knife and lift bars from baking pan using foil extensions; cut bars into 16 squares. Sprinkle with toasted coconut, if using, and serve. (Leftovers can be refrigerated up to 2 days; crust will soften slightly. Let bars stand at room temperature about 15 minutes before serving.)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Apple Blackberry Crisp

In an effort to eat more healthy, I went to the store and bought 4 pounds of strawberries, 4 pounds of grapes, and 18 ounces of blackberries. I was pretty excited to have a bowl of fresh fruit for my breakfast, and the strawberries and grapes tasted so good together. And then I bit into a blackberry. Yow! It was so tart my face scrunched up and I couldn't even finish the berry.

I immediately started thinking of things I could make with my blackberries, and I decided on apple blackberry crisp. I guess this means that my quest to eat healthy was short lived.

I have a go-to recipe for apple crisp that my good friend gave me, but I was concerned about the blackberries and what they might need for balance in the crisp. So I found a recipe for apple blackberry crisp online, and then combined the two (because I LOVE the crisp topping from my friends' recipe) and it was absolutely delicious!

So if you're like me, and you get a batch of tart blackberries, whip up some apple blackberry crisp. Or better yet, go and buy some blackberries just for this crisp. And serve it with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. You won't be sorry.

Apple Blackberry Crisp
Adapted from Fine Cooking and Crystal Wilde's recipe

1 cup flour
1 cup quick oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup melted butter

6 cups sliced apples (I used Granny Smith but you could mix things up a little)
2 cups blackberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp butter

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix together the dry ingredients for the topping, and then stir in the melted butter. Set aside.

Put the apples and blackberries into a large bowl and stir in the sugar. In a small dish, dissolve the cornstarch into the lemon juice and gently toss the mixture with the fruit.

Pour the fruit mixture into a 9x13" glass or ceramic baking dish and dot with butter. Top the fruit with the topping and bake for approximately 45 minutes until the fruit is tender when pierced with a knife, the topping is crisp, and the juices are bubbling. Let cool for 20 to 30 minutes. Serve warm.