Thursday, September 14, 2017

My Favorite Baking Tools

It's all about the tools.  Here are some of my must-have's:

I roll my pie crusts between this no-mess pie crust maker before rolling it out with a marble rolling pin that puts just the right amount of pressure on it...

I love using these shapes to decorate my pies...

I hate fishing egg shells from my mixes; this little guy solves that problem by separating eggs so easily -- fits onto the side of the bowl too!

I use these pie weights to hold down the crust while baking an unfilled pie...

My secrets to a perfect pie crust every time:

When you have a parchment paper obsession and want your sheets to fit perfectly onto your baking pans:

Pumpkin Pie Spectacular

9" piecrust (I usually make my own but in a pinch I use the refrigerated ones and just spread it into the pie plate)
2 c crushed gingersnaps (about 40 gingersnaps)
1 c pecans, finely chopped
½ c powdered sugar
¼ c butter, melted
1 (15-oz) can pumpkin
1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
2 large eggs, beaten
½ c sour cream
1 t ground cinnamon
½ t vanilla extract
¼ t ground ginger

Pecan Streusel (recipe follows)
Stir all of the following ingredients together:
            ¼ c all purpose flour
            ¼ c firmly packed dark brown sugar
            2 T melted butter
            ¾ c pecans, coarsely chopped

7 thin ginger cookies, halved (I use Anna's Ginger Thins – available at most Kroger,
    Tuesday Morning, Walgreens & Target stores)

Ginger-Spice Topping, ground cinnamon (recipe follows)
            Stir all of the following ingredients together:
            1 8-oz cool whip, thawed
            ¼ t ground cinnamon
            ¼ t ground ginger

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Fit piecrust into a 9" deep-dish pie plate; fold edges under and crimp.
2.  Stir together crushed gingersnaps and next 3 ingredients (finely-chopped pecans, ½ c powdered sugar and melted butter).  Press mixture on bottom and ½" up sides of piecrust.
3.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  Let cool completely on a wire rack (about 30 minutes).
4.  Stir together pumpkin and next 6 ingredients until well blended.  Pour into prepared crust.  Place pie on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.
5.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle Pecan Streusel around edge of crust.  Bake 40-45 minutes or until set, shielding edges with aluminum foil during the last 25-30 minutes of baking if necessary.  (Really you should have the pie crust shields, either silicone or aluminum, that they sell for this purpose and use them instead!)

Insert ginger cookies around edge of crust.  Let cool completely on a wire rack (about 1 hour).  Dollop with Ginger-Spice Topping; dust with cinnamon. 

Layered Walnut Pumpkin Pie

This is Gary's fav...

3/4 c walnuts
1/4 c cold water
3/4 c granulated sugar
3 large eggs, separated
1/2 t salt
1 c shipping cream
walnut halves for decoration
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 lb. pumpkin
1/2 c milk
1 t pumpkin pie spice
1/4 t vanilla
1 9" baked, cool pie shell

Chop nuts fine. Soften gelatin in water in 2-qt. pot. Stir in pumpkin, 1/2 c of the sugar, milk, lightly beaten egg yolks, spice and salt. Heat just to boiling, stirring constantly. Turn heat very low and cook 5 minutes, stirring. Remove from heat; add vanilla and cool. Chill until mixture thickens slightly. Beat egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually beat in 2 T sugar, beating until stiff. Fold into pumpkin mixture along with the chopped walnuts. Beat cream with remaining sugar until very stiff. Turn half pumpkin mixture into pie shell and spread level. Top with 3/4 of the whipped cream and spread in even layer. Spoon remaining pumpkin filling on top of whipped cream gently. Decorate top with remaining whipped cream and walnut halves. Chill at least 4 hours before cutting.

Lemon Cheesecake

This is Jeanette's fav cheesecake, so I made it for her birthday!
This recipe is taken from:  Creative Culinary

Preparation 30 min
Cook Time 45 min
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
A large and luscious cheesecake with just the perfect touch of lemon.


    For the Crust

    • 2 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 25 single crackers, crushed)
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 6 tablespoons melted butter

    For the Filling

    • 3 - 8·ounce packages cream cheese, softened
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 1/3 cups sugar
    • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

    For the Sour Cream Topping

    • 1 pint sour cream
    • 3 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract

    For the Glaze

    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
    • 1/2 cup water (I substituted 1/2 cup Limoncello for the water but it's optional. I also ended up adding just a touch of lemon paste color. )
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice


      Prepare the Crust:

      1. Combine cracker crumbs, sugar and butter. Press into bottom and 1/2" up sides of an 11 to 12 inch springform pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes. Cool before adding filling.

      Make the Cheesecake:

      1. Beat cream cheese with electric mixer at high speed until completely smooth.
      2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition.
      3. Continue to beat, gradually adding 1 1/3 cups sugar, then lemon juice and vanilla.
      4. Stir in lemon rind.
      5. Pour into cooled crust and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
      6. Blend sour cream, sugar and vanilla extract for topping.
      7. Remove cake from oven. Gently spread sour cream over top of cake. Return to oven and bake about 12 minutes.
      8. Cool on rack for 30 minutes. Refrigerate until topping is cool but not completely chilled.
      9. Make glaze by combining sugar and cornstarch, blending in water and lemon juice until smooth. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until thickened. Cook 3 minutes. Chill until cool but not set.
      10. Spread top of cheesecake with lemon glaze. Chill several hours or over­night. Can also be frozen.
      Recipe Notes
      This recipe calls for a rather large springform pan; if your pan is smaller in diameter than your baking time will need to be adjusted accordingly. 

      Friday, April 7, 2017

      Karen’s Incredible Triple Chocolate Cake

      (Everyone loves this, but especially Jesse and Matthew!)

      (a repost!)

                  1 package Pillsbury Plus Devil’s Food Cake Mix
                  1 c dairy sour cream                         ¾ c water
                  1/3 c oil                                              3 eggs
                  4 oz (+) bar good milk chocolate, chopped in food processor

      Frosting (I usually double this part for frosting-loving crowds)
                  8 oz (+) good white chocolate, cut into pieces*
                  ¾ c Land O Lakes butter, softened (yes it does make a difference!)
                  ½ c powdered sugar

      Garnish (make before frosting the cake)
                  Apx. 2 lbs. white chocolate

                  Heat the oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9” round cake pans.** In large bowl, combine cake mix, sour cream, water, oil and eggs at low speed until moistened: beat 2 minutes at high speed. Gently fold in milk chocolate. Pour batter evenly into greased and floured pans. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pans. Cool completely.

                  Mix white chocolate in double boiler, stirring constantly. Alternately, you could microwave it at a very low temperature, but watch it carefully and stir often because if it burns you have to toss it! Remove from heat; cool. (If you don’t cool it thoroughly, it will harden when mixed in with room temperature ingredients and look lousy.) In small bowl, beat butter and powdered sugar until fluffy. Gradually beat in cooled chocolate until smooth and fluffy. To assemble cake, place one layer bottom side up on serving plate. Spread generous amount of frosting between layers. Place remaining layer bottom side down on frosted layer. Frost sides and top of cake with remaining frosting.

                  For garnish: Melt white chocolate and spread thin layer over back of cookie sheet or ideally on slab of marble. When it loses the shine, but BEFORE totally cool, take a putty knife or wide spatula, and make big chocolate curls or fans to put all over the top and sides of the cake. Put over sides and bottom while frosting is not yet “set.” If you are flunking out with the chocolate curls, cool the good white chocolate in a small bowl lined with saran wrap then take it out and just use a potato peeler to make small curls!

      *Use GOOD white chocolate! I use Callebaut online or get imported chocolate from candy making store.
      **I grease the bottoms, trace and cut pieces of parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper. Don't need to grease the sides.


      Wednesday, March 22, 2017

      Cauliflower Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

      I used a recipe I found on line (see below for link).

      1 head cauliflower stem removed and cut into smaller pieces
      1 large egg
      1/2 c shredded Parmesan
      1 t Italian seasoning (or use combo of salt, pepper, basil, oregano & parsley)
      (I added few shakes of cayenne pepper too)
      a few thick(er) slices of your cheese of choice (white cheddar, white American, swiss, provolone, or in our case jalapeƱo)

      1.  Preheat oven to 450. Pulse cauliflower in food processor til small pieces about half the size of a grain of rice.
      2.  Microwave for 2 minutes. Stir. Microwave another 3 minutes. Stir. Microwave 5 minutes. Stir. Microwave another 5 minutes. It should be a LITTLE moist but pretty dry and clumpy. Make sure it is not too moist or you will have issues.
      3.  Let it cool a few minutes. Add egg, Parmesan and seasoning.
      4.  Divide into 4 equal parts and make into squares on parchment paper, about 1/2" thick. Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes.
      5. Carefully slide cauliflower "bread" off parchment. Add cheese in between each "pair" of slices. Place either in toaster oven or back into oven on parchment until cheese melts.

      Original post is from:

      Friday, December 23, 2016

      Cut Out Snowflake Sugar Cookies

      Soft Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies with Perfect Frosting

      Makes 2-3 dozen sugar cookies
      Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes (includes chill time)
      Cook time: 10 minutes


      1 c unsalted butter room temperature
      1 c granulated sugar
      1 large egg, room temperature
      2 oz. cream cheese, room temperature (do not use fat free)
      1/2 t vanilla extract
      1/2 t almond extract
      1 t lemon zest
      3 c all purpose flour (I use King Arthur:
      1-1/2 t baking powder
      1/2 t kosher salt

      3 c powdered sugar
      3-4 T milk
      2 T light corn syrup
      3/4 t almond extract
      food coloring, as desired
      sprinkles etc. for decorating
      (I used the snowflake cookie cutters from King Arthur:


      1. In large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar on medium until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and add the egg and beat until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add the cream cheese and beat for a minute, scrape down the bowl once more and beat in the vanilla, almond extract, and lemon zest until incorporated, about 30 seconds.

      2. In separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture, mixing just until fully incorporated and a soft dough is formed.

      3. Divide the dough into quarters. if using the dough within 24 hours, roll each quarter to a 1/4" thickness between two sheets of parchment paper (I use these sheets: you can store the dough in a ball or disk and roll out when ready to cut and bake). Be careful not to roll the dough to thin, or the cookies will be too crisp. Keeping the dough flat, transfer it to the refrigerator and chill for at least an hour or overnight. (You can stack the dough "flats" on top of each other to save space.) You can also freeze the dough in tiptop bag for up to a month, let thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then proceed with the recipe.

      4. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 and line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (I use the silicone mats: Remove one dough flat from refrigerator and cut with cookie cutters. Repeat with remaining dough.

      5. Bake 9-11 minutes until barely lightly golden brown and edges are dry. Cookies will look slightly under baked. Let cool completely.

      6. Make the frosting by stirring together the powdered sugar and 3 T of milk (it will be pretty solid at this point). Beat in the corn syrup and almond extract until the frosting is smooth and glossy. If it is too thick add milk 1 t at a time, until desired consistency. Add few drops of food coloring. Frost and decorate.

      (This recipe is from