Archive | August 2013

Fresh Blackberry Pie

For Steve and me, blackberries are probably our second favorite fruit on Earth (right behind strawberries)! Plump, juicy and perfect dipped in sugar. Every summer, those dark purple jewels go on sale during their high season. There are even farms around here where you can pick your own blackberries. I love making blackberry jam with fresh blackberries! I think I loved blackberries before I even tasted one thanks to the book I had read in elementary school, A Taste of Blackberries, by Doris Buchanan Smith. It was probably the first book I read where I was so caught up into the story line that I literally bawled my eyes out following it. That book changed my life forever. From that point on, I became an avid fan of literature. If you haven’t read the book, it’s never too late. Check it out at your local library. 

The hubby was craving some good ol’ fashioned blackberry pie. I found this recipe and thought, it’s so simple that it has to be perfect! I tweaked it a bit to suit our taste and the end result was this perfect bliss of sweet and tart blackberries in yummy syrup sandwiched between lightly sweetened, flaky crusts. It was fantastic! Definitely a keeper recipe for our family!

Printable Recipe: Fresh Blackberry Pie

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups fresh blackberries (separated into 3 cups + 1 cup)

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup flour

  • Package of ready made unroll and bake pie crusts (contains 2 in pkg)

  • 1 tablespoon of milk

  • sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rinse and pat dry the blackberries.

Place 3 cups of blackberries in a medium-sized bowl. 

Add flour and sugar to the blackberries. Stir until all berries are well-coated. Try not to “smash” the blackberries. This pie is excellent because there are large chunks of blackberries that remain after it is baked. There is also a lot of blackberries that will burst while baking creating this wonderful, thick filling.

Lightly coat a 9” glass pie pan with non-stick cooking spray. Press one pie crust into the glass pie pan. Pinch the crust edges to create pleats so that the pie crust fits perfectly into the glass pie pan. 

Dump the coated blackberries into the pie crust. Using a spatula, gently move the blackberries into an even layer. 

Add the remainder cup of blackberries evenly on top. Place the second pie crust on top. You can cut the diameter of the pie crust down so that it lays over the pie and evenly meets the edge of the first pie crust. I however love pie crust and didn’t want any of it to go waste. I laid the pie crust on top of the blackberries allowing the crust to “puddle” over the valleys and highs of the filling ensuring the second pie crust edge met the first pie crust edge. Crimp edges together using the back of a fork. 

With a sharp knife, gently cut slits into at least 4 different areas of the pie to allow the steam to escape while baking. Because I made this mostly for the hubby, I cut small hearts out to remind him how much I love him. I then placed the heart cut-outs back on top of the pie crust to to add to the cute design.

Using a pastry brush, brush on milk. 

Shake sugar over the milk covered crust creating a light layer of sugar. Bake for 15 minutes in the pre-heated oven. Decrease the temperature to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden and filling is bubbly.

I hate when pie crust edges become “over-cooked”. To prevent this, after 15 minutes at 425 degrees, I covered the edges with crimped foil before lowered the temperature to 375 degrees. I removed the crimped foil covers the last 5 minutes of baking. At one time I had these awesome adjustable metal pie crust cover thingys…I wonder where they went? Would have been nice because it was hard crimping foil around the crust of an already too hot pie! Steve had to help me with this part so that I didn’t burn off all my fingerprints. Once cooked, allow pie to cool on a wire rack. Caution! The filling is extremely hot!

 

 

Magic Crust Coconut Pie

I made this pie a while ago and had to eat it all by myself, lol. I am the only one in this house that loves coconut. The guys don’t know what their missing! What makes this pie “magic” is that while it is baking, the flour does some sort of hocus pocus and turns into a crust! This has a custard-like filling and is chock full of coconut! I think it is best served cold right out of the fridge! If you can’t wait a couple of hours for it to chill, just be sure to let the pie cool completely before serving. If you are a fan of coconut, be sure to give this recipe a try! I wish in my pictures you could see the crust that formed, but sometimes my camera has a mind of it’s own! Hope your weekend was as busy and fantastic as ours!

Printable Recipe: Magic Crust Coconut Pie

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs

  • 1/2 cup self rising flour

  • 2 cups milk

  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar

  • 1 1/2 cups coconut

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Apply non-stick cooking spray on a glass pie pan or grease glass pie pan with a thin layer of shortening. 

Wisk eggs by hand in a medium-sized bowl. Add in and wisk the self rising flour. Pour in the milk, butter and vanilla. Wisk till well incorporated. Add sugar and guess what, wisk that in too! My sous-chef, Spencer, was very helpful with all the wisking! Using a spatula, fold in coconut. 

Pour into the prepared glass pie pan. Bake for approximately 55-60 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool completely. Best if placed in fridge for 2-4 hours and served cold.

Restaurant Style Potato Skins

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Crispy bacon, ooey, gooey cheese and crispy yet soft potatoes combine to make the most awesome of appetizers! Most places sprinkle thinly sliced green onions on top however we just like a big dollop of sour cream. The secret to making Potato Skins taste like they are made in a restaurant is using your deep fryer. Yep, I said it, deep fryer. It gives the skins a crisp outer edge and you will find on the inside some yummy, mushy goodness. Some restaurants charge an arm and a leg for their appetizers so since we are on a somewhat fixed income, we often skip it. Unless it is 1/2 off like during happy hour, then we sometimes splurge. On average, potato skins cost around $6.99 for 5 of them. Ok, can someone tell me why 5? Why not 6, why not 4? When there’s 5, our family of four gets a little unfriendly arguing about the last potato skin. And $6.99? Sheesh…I made 16 of these bad boys (yep, no arguing in our house) using stuff I already had in the fridge! Try this recipe out, I’m sure it will make it into your regular rotation of side dishes! Note: We used 8 oz of cooked bacon and 1 cup of shredded cheese to make 16 potato skins. I probably should have used 2 cups of shredded cheese to be honest. They still turned out awesome!

Printable Recipe: Restaurant Style Potato Skins

Ingredients:

  • Potatoes, scrubbed and dried

  • 8 oz of cooked bacon bits

  • 1-2 cups shredded cheese of choice (we used colby-jack shredded cheese)

  • Salt & pepper

  • Sour cream (optional)

  • Green onions sliced thinly (optional)

Directions:

Preheat deep fryer to 375 degrees. Puncture each uncooked potato with a fork several times. How many potatoes to use are dependent on how many you want. Remember that each potato will make 2 potato skins. 

Place all the potatoes in the microwave and cook on high. For 8 potatoes, try 10 minutes. If the potato is not soft when squeezed, add 2 minutes on high until soft. Times will vary depending on the amount of potatoes being “baked” in the microwave and also will vary depending on the watts your microwave uses. Once potatoes are “baked” (soft when squeezed), remove from microwave to cool for at least 7-10 minutes.

Once potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice potatoes lengthwise in half. Using a spoon, gently scoop out the potatoes into a bowl leaving behind a potato shell. Save the scooped potatoes to make mashed potatoes another day. Prepare an area for the fried potatoes by doubling over paper towels over a cookie sheet.

Once deep fryer is fully heated, drop 3 potato skins (or how many you can fit in the deep fryer) into the hot oil. Fry for 45-60 seconds.

Remove potatoes and place open side down to allow oil to drain. Repeat until all potato skins have been fried. After placing the new batch open side down, turn the prior batch over to drain oil off the outside of potato skins.

Prepare a baking sheet by covering in foil and brush a little butter, margarine or oil onto the foil. Sprinkle with salt and/or pepper. Place cooled potato skins open side up onto prepared baking sheet. Turn oven on to broil.

Sprinkle salt and/or pepper onto potatoes. Fill potatoes with cheese as much as you like.

Sprinkle cooked bacon bits on top.

Broil for 3-5 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Top with sliced green onions and/or sour cream (optional).

Enjoy Restaurant Style Potato Skins at a fraction of the cost in a restaurant! Even better, you end up with a second side dish the next day! Place the scooped out potatoes in a covered dish in the fridge. Remove from fridge the next day. Microwave for 1-1 1/2 minutes until hot. Add a splash of milk, a few tabs of butter/margarine and some garlic salt! Beat with a mixer adding milk a tablespoon at a time until the mashed potatoes is the consistency you like. Tadah! Garlic mashed potatoes!

 

Fresh Strawberry Popsicles

 

Well we love strawberries. That is evident in all the strawberry recipes I have in my blog archive. It is the perfect fruit! I was at Krogers a couple weeks ago and they had their summer items clearanced. I am the dollar store and clearance aisle queen, lol! I found these awesome Jelly Belly popsicle molds that had sipper wells. The popsicle syrup that melts is caught in the well. Then you can sip the sweet liquid gold out of the formed spout on one side of the popsicle. I got a mold for 4 popsicles for only $1.75! It was such an awesome price that I bought two of them! Now I had the molds and absolutely had to make popsicles! We made fresh strawberry popsicles a few days ago! Super delicious and refreshing! Who doesn’t love strawberries, water, sugar and lemon juice as the only ingredients?! No preservatives or other additives you can’t even pronounce. The entire family LOVED them! You don’t need popsicle molds to make these. You can go seriously old school and use paper dixie cups with wooden popsicle sticks! Give these sweet, cool treats a try and you won’t regret it! This recipe made 8 full popsicles using the Jelly Belly molds.

Printable Recipe: Fresh Strawberry Popsicles

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb fresh strawberries

  • 3/4 cup water

  • 6 tablespoons sugar

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions:

Wash, dry and cut ends off of the strawberries.

Mash strawberries leaving some large chunks.

Add water and sugar. Stir till well combined.

Add lemon juice and stir till well combined. Spencer is always wanting to help in the kitchen. Most days he is my sous-chef. Daddy helped Spencer pour the lemon juice into the strawberry mix.

Carefully pour into popsicle molds or into the small paper cups.

Place mold in freezer for at least 4 hours.

If using paper cups, add a popsicle stick after cups are in the freezer for 1-2 hours (set enough to hold the popsicle stick upright). Pop out of mold or rip paper cup away and serve with a smile for a smile!

NOTE: To remove popsicle from mold, place mold in a bowl of hot faucet water. Make sure water comes all the way up the mold without actually being too high to mix with the popsicle itself. Gently rock popsicle out of mold after 45-60 seconds.

Pulled Pork Roast

One of our easiest and most favorite of meals is our Pulled Pork Roast. You can turn it into pulled pork sandwiches by adding bar-b-q sauce or anything else you like. Sometimes we will spoon my hubby, Steve’s, East Carolina Barbecue Sauce over our pulled pork sandwiches. His sauce is tangy and fantastic! On the first day, we usually like the shredded pork just the way it comes out of the crockpot served over a heaping scoop of buttered mashed potatoes! The flavor of the roast is perfect straight out of the crockpot! Almost every week or every other week, our local grocery chains will have a boneless, skinless pork roast for around $1.79 a pound! Of course it is usually a 6-8 pound hunk of roast but my hubby slices it right up. He usually keeps a 1/3 of it as a roast. Then he splits the remainder in half. With one half he makes thick sliced pork chops (4 slices) and the other half, he makes thin sliced pork chops (8-10 slices). The thick sliced pork chops are great for our Creamy Ranch Crockpot Pork and the thin porkchops are perfect for Pancit Canton or Schnitzel. We can usually get 4-5 meals from one pork roast! This roast is so easy and packed with flavor! Buttery, moist pork seasoned with tasty seasoned salt. Yum, yum, yum!

Printable Recipe: Pulled Pork Roast

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 pound boneless, skinless pork roast

  • 1 stick of butter/margarine

  • Lawry’s Seasoned Salt

Directions:

Sprinkle a good layer of Lawry’s seasoned salt on both the top and bottom of the pork. How much? Enough to coat but only create a thin layer (see photo below).

Place pork roast in the crockpot. Cut butter/margarine stick in half lengthwise. Place butter halves on the sides of the roast. Cook on high 4-6 hours or on low 6-8 hours. I like to turn my roast upside down initially. The fat melts down into yummy juices. Then I turn the roast right side up (the fat on the bottom) after 3-4 hours and what fat is left on the roast usually melts away. You know your roast is done when you do the fork test. Stick a fork in the middle and gently pull to one side. If the meat easily pulls apart/shreds, you are done! If your roast is fully cooked (145 degrees F) shredding it would literally be effortless. It should almost fall apart with just a little poke. You could always use a thermometer to ensure your roast is fully cooked. Remove the roast from juices. Shred the roast on a cutting board using 2 forks. Strain the juice left in the crockpot to remove any large chunks. Return the shredded pork to the crockpot full of juices to keep the pork moist. 

Serve pork warm. Spoon juices over pork on plate. I prefer my shredded pork roast over buttered mashed potatoes. Save leftovers by removing shredded pork from most of the juices (leave some in there to keep the pork moist). We almost always have enough leftover to make at least a second meal from our pork roast like pulled pork sandwiches!

Pulled pork sandwich with Steve’s East Carolina Barbecue Sauce! YUMMY!

Panko Crusted Italian Chicken

We made Panko Crusted Italian Chicken and it was full of flavor, crispy and fanfreakingtastic! Use your favorite Italian dressing. We always use Kraft Viva Italian when we are cooking with Italian dressing. This recipe is easy and very flavorful! 20-25 minutes for a home-made dish!

Printable Recipe: Panko Crusted Italian Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

  • Bottle of your favorite Italian

  • Panko bread crumbs

  • Vegetable oil or butter oil

Directions:

Clean chicken breasts removing any skin or fat. Slice breast in half horizontally (to make 2 thin pieces of chicken). Lay sliced breasts on cutting board. Loosely cover with plastic wrap. Using a meat tenderizer, beat meat until thin (approximately 1/4″). Place Italian dressing in a shallow, wide bowl. Place Panko bread crumbs in another shallow wide bowl. Heat about 1/4″ of oil in a chicken fryer pan.

Once oil is hot, dip chicken breast into Italian dressing. Coat both sides.

Then dip chicken breast into the Panko bread crumbs, pushing down so that bread crumbs stick. Coat both sides.

Gently lay coated chicken breast into hot oil. Cook 3-4 minutes, then turn. Cook 3-4 minutes on other side or until juices run clear. Place cooked chicken breast on a cooling rack above a cookie sheet covered in foil (to catch dripping oil). Allow to cool slightly, serve warm.