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Pecan Pie

Stuck.

Blocked.

Bored.

Uninspired.

Dislike cooking (can that possibly be!?).

Stuck, blocked, bored, and seriously challenged by my iMac.

I miss my PC.

Once you get out of the habit of sitting down and writing, it is SOOOOooooOOOOO hard to sit back down again and write.

The drill for resizing and reformatting my photos is becoming a nightmare.

And now that I haven’t posted in a month (GASP!), will anyone out there still read? Has anyone noticed my being MIK (Missing in Kitchen)? This is the chance I must take, so here we go!

Every year, usually the weekend before Thanksgiving, my foodie friends and I gather at my house for Friends’ Thanksgiving. Friends’ Thanksgiving is a time honored tradition in my family and always a lot of fun (you get to spend Thanksgiving with the family you have chosen, and not necessarily the ones you are stuck with – and no Mom I am not talking about you!).

As we’ve branched out on our own, we each do our Friend’s Thanksgiving a little differently.  In my house, because my friends all love to cook, the turkey, stuffing and gravy are on me, and the friends bring everything else.

This year I also made cranberry sauce and 2 pies that everyone always asks for – one of which is this pecan pie.

If I do say so myself, this is the BEST pecan pie ever!

Although I always make this in a 9″ deep dish pie shell, and did just that for Friends’ Thanksgiving, I became a little adventurous for ‘real’ Thanksgiving and made them in mini – at the end of this I will explain the mini debacle.

This recipe is very simple and has a really delicious result! I know my Mom gave me this recipe, where she came across it is one of those things that is lost in the recesses of my aging brain.

Preheat oven to 350.

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 C light corn syrup
  • 1/2 T flour
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1/2 C butter (melted)
  • 2 C pecans

NOTE:Being part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program has its perks. I was asked to try Land O’ Lakes eggs in a recipe and used them in this recipe!

Beat eggs.

Add next 5 ingredients, mix well.

Stir in melted butter and pecans.

Pour into pie shell.

NOTE: Those of you who USED to read my blog know that I am totally pie crust phobic. I used Pillsbury Pie Crust. PERFECT and less work.

Bake for 60 minutes.

NOTE: I add a pie shield or aluminum foil on the crust about halfway through so the crust doesn’t incinerate.

NOTE: So making minis … I know I had mini pie tins. I KNOW I DID. They chose to hide when I needed them. Probably sitting in the back of a cabinet LAUGHING at me searching for them. What is a girl to do? I searched the supermarket for a solution – and there it was, mini graham cracker crust shells. I scraped out the graham cracker and cut the pie dough a little larger than the tin. I made a HALF batch of the filling and poured it into the little tins. They baked in about 30 minutes.  I was worried about there not being enough ‘goo’ and too many pecans, but I was told they were really yummy!

For those of you still out there, thank you for being patient! It’s nice to be back!

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Bird’s Eye Pasta with Grilled Chicken

A while back I was invited by the Tastemaker program at Foodbuzz and Bird’s Eye to taste test some new products coming out on the market from their Chef’s Special Steamfresh line.

The risottos were great. We weren’t to crazy about the green beans and potatoes. And the bag of creamed spinach sat in my freezer.

And sat in my freezer.

And sat in my freezer.

The truth of the matter is …

(be ready to gasp)

I really dislike creamed spinach. Really, REEEEAAALLLY dislike creamed spinach.

What’s a girl to do? Ask her mother, that’s what. My Mom came up with the perfect solution – throw it into some pasta. Pure genius – I hoped!

I started a large pot of water boiling, and cooked pasta. I cut up, seasoned and sautéed 2 boneless chicken breasts. Once cooked through and browned, I removed them from the pan. Added the creamed spinach until it was defrosted, added back in the chicken, a splash of cream, the cooked pasta, about 2/3 C of the pasta water to thicken it a little, and a handful of Parmigiano.

Absolutely fantastic!

(I may need to keep bags of this in my freezer now for a chicken dinner! Doesn’t really get easier than this!)

Ghiradelli Chocolate Pavlova

 

I want to dive into this picture and eat the whole thing!

We love pavlova in our house. Usually just a plain pavlova with some sort of fruit and whipped cream on top. But for Sunday dinner our guests included someone from Australia and someone from New Zealand. What better than a Pavlova smack down!? All the stops needed to be pulled for this battle!

 

Thanks to Foodbuzz Tastemakers and Ghiradelli Chocolates sending me a box full of wonderful dark chocolates to try, I decided to experiment with Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova. 

But, wait, we have a problem – the boy doesn’t like chocolate. HMMMMMM… the solution? Mix up the pavlova as I usually do, split the lovely, glossy meringue mixture in half, add half the cocoa powder and chopped dark chocolate that Nigella calls for in her wonderful Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova recipe and then make individual pavlovas.

With this recipe I made 8 WAY TOO BIG pavlovas – 4 plain and 4 chocolate. I could have easily made 8 of each and made them like little nests, but – well, go big or go home!

I used the same Nigella recipe that I used for my Darling’s birthday cake, just making a few adjustments.

  • 8 large egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • 500 g (17.5 oz) superfine sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar

For the topping:

  • 500 mL (2 cups) whipping or double cream
  • Raspberries
  • Sliced kiwi
  • Raspberry sauce

To make half the meringue chocolate:

  • 1 1/2 T cocoa powder
  • 25 g chopped dark chocolate

NOTE: The eggs should be at room temperature. This step makes all the difference in the world. Leave them out for a few hours before separating the eggs. Use the egg yolks for a creme brulee or a pudding. 

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Because I was making these smaller, I did them free form on the parchment.

Beat the egg whites and salt with the whisk attachment of a stand mixer or an electric beater until thick soft peaks form. Beat in the sugar, a scattered spoonful or two at a time, until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle over the cornstarch and vinegar, and gently fold into the meringue.

This is where I made the split.

For the half that I was making chocolate, I sprinkled the cocoa and chopped chocolate over the top and gently folded. 

Make small (and far smaller than mine) mounds or meringue and using a spatula, shape them and make a small dent in the center of each pavlova to hold the whipped cream and fruit.

Place in the preheated oven and immediately turn down the temperature to 300°. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, during which time the meringue will puff up. Turn off the heat, open the door and leave to cool sitting in the oven — it should be left to cool in the oven until shortly before serving, or alternately it can be cooked ahead of time and stored in an airtight container for a week or so.

I whipped the heavy cream until light and fluffy and added a teaspoon of vanilla extract and a few teaspoons of sugar.

Onto the table were a pile of Pavlovas, a plate of freshly sliced fruit, a pitcher of raspberry syrup and a bowl of whipped cream. It was make your own Pavlova day!

You may be wondering about the smack down results. The only smacking were the smacking of lips and ooohs and aaaahs!

 Thanks you Ghiradelli and Foodbuzz Tasemaker for this tasty opportunity!

There’s still time to stop by my wonderful Giveaway ~ $100 American Express gift card! So simple – follow this link and leave a comment! Winner will be picked September 29th!

Sargento Cheese Comparison

Sometimes you just gotta love blogging!

FoodBuzz Tastemakers and Sargento Cheese asked me to compare Sargento cheese to any processed cheese.

First, contrary to popular belief, processed cheese is real cheese. It just has emulsifiers added to it so that it melts more uniformly. Also, the additives allow this cheese product to have a LONG, long, long shelf life!

And another bit of misinformation, although Kraft was the first American company to introduce processed cheese it is actually a Swiss invention!

Because of the additives and emulsifiers, tis cannot be sold as cheese but only as a cheese product.

Now, on the other hand, Sargento is all natural cheese. No emulsifiers, no additives.

The 2 cheese in that photo are both cheddar. The one on the left is a cheese product. The one on the right Sargento.  Sargento’s cheese saps when you bend it, te processed not so much. The color is more vibrant ont he Sargento. THe taste has a wonderful sharpness and dry quality.

We had this taste comparison over the weekend – some crackers, grapes, dried cherries, caramelized onions. And trying each with a bit of each topping, even with eyes closed – well, there is no comparison –

Sargento is a superior cheese. Great taste. Great value. Perfect for all our cheese needs!