Sweet Potato Pie

I thought nothing could be worse than all of the lives lost to the covid-19 pandemic and the way it has changed the way we live.  But it could and did get worse.

Even as some of the lockdown restrictions were being lifted, we had the tragic death of George Floyd.  This has caused more grief and sadness for African Americans.  Looking at the news, it appears his tragic death has affected the whole world.

Hopefully, we as Americans can come together and provide a better and safer community for African Americans.

Food52 has compiled a list of cookbooks authored by African-American and I am including it here.  Seems I’m alway buying cookbooks so it is a good list to have on hand.  I bought Carly Hall’s Soul Food.

Bookbub.com has provided a list of Black-Owned bookstores that we can support right now.

Sweet Potato Pie is a traditional dessert that originated in the Southern United States.  Very often it is served for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.  The sweet potato pie was very likely developed by African Americans.  Sweet potato pie is similar in color and flavor to pumpkin pie.

For this recipe, I peeled the potatoes, cut into chunks, and then boiled them until tender.  Other recipes have you bake the potatoes in their skins and then remove the pulp, which is probably the easiest process.

Sweet Potato Pie

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 unbaked 9-inch deep-dish pie shell

2 cups mashed sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs)
1 cup packed dark sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1 cup half and half

Egg Wash

1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, blend together the mashed sweet potato, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger and salt.   Beat in the eggs.  Gradually mix in the half and half.  Pour filling into prepared pie crust.

Brush the edges of the crust with the egg wash.  Bake 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  If crust is browning too quickly, cover edges with 2 inch strip of aluminum foil.

Cool completely.  Serve with whipped cream, if desired.  Store leftovers in the fridge.  

Let us strive for a kinder America.  A photo from my archives: Cosmos and a butterfly.

 

Lemon Tart

Mother’s Day this year was very different, no big family gathering with lots of good food.  I am not going to complain because we are all healthy and safe.  How was your Mother’s Day?

I have long been a fan of lemons and always have them in the fridge.  I like a twist of lemon in a gin martini.  Thanks to California, lemons are readily available year round here in the USA.

Lemon pie in any form is my favorite dessert.  I wanted an easy pie to make the day special.  This lemon tart is easy and quick to put together.  It is more similar to a Key Lime Pie than a classic Lemon Tart with a curd filling.

if you are a lemon lover, i think you will love this pie.

Lemon Tart

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Crust
1 1⁄4 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1⁄3 cup melted butter

Filling
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon Juice
5 large egg yolks
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For the crust:
Combine crumbs and sugar in medium sized bowl. Stir in the melted butter until thoroughly blended. Pack mixture firmly into a 9 inch tart  (or pie) pan and press firmly to bottom and sides, bringing crumbs evenly up to the rim. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 6-8 minutes, or until light brown. Cool on a wire rack.

For the filling:
Mix lemon zest, lemon juice, and egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Add in condensed milk and whisk until smooth and thick. Pour mixture into the prepared crust and bake until the center is set but still quivers when the pan is nudged, 15-17 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Then refrigerate for at least 1 hour before slicing.  Store leftovers in a tightly covered container in the fridge for up to 3 days.   Serve with whipped cream and garnish with lemon zest (optional).  

Notes:
1. Because of the small amount of filling this recipe makes, it is perfect for a tart pan, but I have used a regular pie pan in the past.
2.  Egg whites from the eggs can be reserved for another use (or even frozen).

I will leave you with a photo of a gorgeous Hydrangea planter gifted to me for Mother’s Day.  Be safe everyone.

Easy Belgian Waffles

I hope everyone is still doing good under the circumstances.  Some states have begun to reopen but we are still on lockdown until May 28th.  A few restrictions have been lifted.  Lansdcapers can resume work so at least my lawn will get taken care of.

Once all the states reopen, does that mean no more shortages of paper products, flour, and yeast (to name just a few items)?  I did recently find all-purpose flour at a smaller local grocery store.

While searching for flour, I came across a familiar waffle mix that I have used in the past, Krusteaz Belgian Waffle Mix.  I have always been pleased with the waffles made from this mix.  Saving my flour for other baking projects, I made a batch of the waffles for this post and below is the recipe.

These waffles are wonderful served up simply with butter and warm maple syrup.

Easy Belgian Waffles

3 cups of Krusteaz Belgian Waffle Mix
1 1/3 cups water
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Heat and lightly spray waffle iron with cooking spray.

Measure the mix by lightly spooning it into a measuring cup and leveling it off.  Whisk the mix, water, eggs, and oil until smooth.  Let batter stand 2 minutes.  Pour about 2/3 cup batter onto waffle iron.  Cook waffles until steaming stops or until golden brown.  Serve with your favorite toppings.  Makes approximately 4-5 seven inch waffles.

To add a bit of color, below is a picture of one of the buds from my rhododendron bush.

Banana Nut Bread

I hope everyone is well and safe during this scary time.  I haven’t been too motivated for baking or cooking but I did bake up some banana bread.

I have to admit that I had never made banana bread before.  I’m not sure why because I do like bananas and homemade breads.

Banana bread belongs to the category of pastry as quick breads, more like a cake or muffin.  There is no yeast required because the rise comes from the addition of baking soda and/or baking powder into the batter.

Mary Ellis Ames, a well known home economist in the 1930s-’50s, is credited with developing the first-ever published recipe for banana bread.  The recipe was included in the 1933 edition of Pillsbury’s Balanced Recipes cookbook.  Source for info on banana bread is from Wikpedia.

I’m glad I finally decided to bake banana bread.  This is a delicious bread with a lot of banana flavor.  I like a slice of it with lots of butter and a cold glass of milk.

Adapted from a James Beard recipe.  

Banana Nut Bread

  • Difficulty: easy
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2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup mashed, very ripe bananas (2-3 large bananas)
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Butter and flour a 9×5 inch metal loaf pan.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

Cream the butter and gradually add the sugar.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the mashed bananas, milk  and vanilla extract and mix well.

Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just incorporated.  Do not over mix.  Fold in the chopped walnuts.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.  Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick or tester inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Cut into slices and serve.  Makes 1 loaf.

I don’t live in the country but I do see deer quite often.  A couple of weeks ago there were 4 or 5 in my backyard.  Here is a picture of two of them that I managed to get a picture of before running off.

Be safe everyone.

Easter Marshmallow Bark

These are such unsettling and uncertain times that it has been hard to even think about posting a recipe.  I hope everyone is safe and doing good under the circumstances.

I had planned to make this Easter Marshmallow Bark for our family Easter Dinner but guess we won’t be having a family gathering this year.

If you are looking for a new Spring or Easter treat, this is an especially easy one to make.  Plus, it only has two ingredients: chocolate chips and marshmallows.

Easter Marshmallow Bark

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 bag of white chocolate chips (11 or 12 ounce size)
3 cups mini rainbow marshmallows

Line an 8×11 inch baking  dish or a half-sized cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil (for easy cleanup).

Measure out 3 cups of the marshmallows and set aside.

Pour the chocolate chips into a large glass bowl and microwave for about 1 minute 30 seconds or until the chocolate is melted when you stir it.

After chocolate is melted, add marshmallows and stir to coat.  Transfer the chocolate marshmallow mixture to the prepared pan.  Press down slightly to make an even layer.  Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until chocolate is set.  Remove from the pan and cut into bars.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge.  

Notes:
1.  I used Ghirardelli brand white chocolate chips which are 11 ounce size.  Other major brands are 12 ounce size.
2.  Metal Easter shaped cookie cutters can be used instead of cutting into bars.

Be safe everyone.

 

 

Buttermilk Pie

Buttermilk Pie is a vintage Southern dessert.  The pie is similar to a custard pie or even the chess pie.  It has a filling that is smooth and sweet.  The basic filling consists of a mixture of sugar, melted butter, eggs, buttermilk, and a small amount of flour.  Some versions include lemon, lemon zest, and nutmeg.

This is a really easy one-bowl pie to make and comes together in just minutes.  Mix the ingredients together and pour into your prepared pie shell.  Make this pie the next time you are looking for a quick, easy,  and delicious dessert.

Buttermilk Pie

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 prepared (9 inch) deep dish pie crust, unbaked

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

whipped cream (optional)
blueberries (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, and salt.  Add the eggs, buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla.  Whisk until well combined.

Pour the mixture into the unbaked pie crust.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the pie is set and golden brown.  Transfer the pie to a wire rack and cool before slicing.  Serve with whipped creamed and  blueberries (if desired).  Store leftover pie in a covered container in the refrigerator.  

Buttermilk is an essential ingredient in this recipe, and I don’t recommend using a buttermilk substitute.  Buttermilk is widely available in USA grocery stores.  It is in the refrigerated dairy case close to the regular milk.  If you would like to know more about buttermilk, here is a very informative article from thespruceEats.

Note:
I used a small Wilton star tip to pipe homemade whipped cream around the cooled pie.

Although it is not officially Spring, our weather has warmed up and all of the snow has melted.  Makes one happy.  Here is a photo of a pretty red Cardinal I recently took in my backyard.  It helped to brighten up a dreary day.

 

 

 

 

Strawberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Valentine’s Day is almost here.  Are you perhaps looking forward to one of the heart shaped boxes of candy?  I am.

If you are looking for a sweet treat to make for someone special on Valentine’s Day, I can recommend these cookies.  These Strawberry Cookies with White Chocolate Chips are a one bowl, no beaters required cookie.  The bright pink color, white chocolate chips, and strawberry flavor are a perfect combination.

Using a boxed cake mix, these Strawberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies are easy to make.  They just may become your favorite treat.

Strawberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 (15.25 ounce) box strawberry cake mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon strawberry extract (optional)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

In a large bowl, add the cake mix, vegetable oil, eggs, and strawberry extract.  Stir with a spoon until a dough forms and mixture is thoroughly combined.  Fold in the white chocolate chips.

Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.  This will make the dough easier to shape into balls.

While the dough is chilling, line two large baking pans with parchment paper (or lightly spray with cookng spray).  Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a medium (1 1/2 tablespoon) ice cream scoop, drop rounded balls of the dough on the prepared baking sheets.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until set.  Once the cookies are done, remove the tray from the oven and let cool on the tray for 10 minutes.  Transfer the cookies to baking racks to cool completely.  Makes approximately 26 cookies.

I don’t live in the country but there are a lot of deer about.  They can actually be very destructive to your plants and flowers.  Here is one that showed up a couple of weeks ago in my backyard.  He didn’t seem to want to leave.

Wishing Everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day.

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread

In case you are not aware of it, there is a fairly new cooking show on the Food Network.  The show is Delicious Miss Brown, hosted by Kardea Brown.  The show debuted on Sunday, July 28th 2019 and is in its second season.

Kardea Brown is a Southern cook born in Charleston, SC.  She is of Gullah/Geechee descent.  The Gullah/Geechee is a term used to describe a distinct group of African Americans living in the coastal region of South Carolina.  Source is Food Network.

The food she makes on her show reflects this heritage.  Miss Brown prepared this cornbread recipe from an episode titled Fishing and Dishing in which she joined her brother on an unsuccessful fishing expedition (didn’t catch any fish).

I hope that you will check out her series.  She explains the preparation and cooking methods in such a fun way and shares recipes that are part of her family and culture.  Her show will remind you of how the Food Network used to be: about cooking instead of the all too many competition cooking shows.

This Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread is not your typical Southern cornbread but it is still delicious.  It has a crispy crust, tang from the buttermilk, and slight sweetness from the honey.

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon seasoned garlic powder
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
1/4 cup chopped jalapeños
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, salt, and garlic powder in a medium bowl.  Mix well and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Transfer the melted butter to a large bowl and allow to cool slightly.  Add the buttermilk, honey, and eggs.  Whisk until blended.  Stir in the jalapeños and the Cheddar cheese.  Add the cornmeal mixture and mix until very few lumps remain.

Pour the batter into the hot skillet and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool before slicing.  Serve with butter.

Notes:
1.  The Delicious Miss Brown show is on Sundays 12/11c on the Food Network.
2.  Recipe adapted from Kardea’s Sweet Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread recipe and can be found here.  
3.  I used canned diced jalapeños for this recipe.

Easy Cinnamon Rolls

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.  We didn’t have a white Christmas and this was our weather on December 28th, a warm 52°F.  Below is a picture I took of a squirrel enjoying the warm winter day.

And then, winter returned overnight.  Below picture taken on New Year’s Eve.

Do you like Cinnamon Rolls?  My family loves them.  If you are looking for an easy Cinnamon Roll recipe this is the one.  It uses frozen bread dough that is readily available at most grocery stores.  The Rhodes brand is the one available locally so that is what I used.  It comes in a 3 pound bag with three loaves.  In my opinion, it tastes as good as made from scratch yeast dough.  I have been using the Rhodes brand of frozen dough for many years.  I also like their Texas Rolls that you thaw, let rise, and then bake.

This recipe is great anytime but especially when you don’t have time to make yeast dough from scratch.  You will get soft, tender, and delicious cinnamon rolls.

Easy Cinnamon Rolls

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

For Rolls

1 (1 lb) loaf frozen bread dough, thawed (such as Rhodes)
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

For Icing

2 cups powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a rectangle, approximately 12×18 inches.  Brush with the melted butter.  Combine the light brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl.  Sprinkle over the butter.  Starting on the long side, roll up jelly roll style.  Cut into equal pieces.  Place in an 8 or 9 inch cake pan, sprayed with cooking spray.  Cover rolls with sprayed plastic wrap and let rise until double in size, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Remove the plastic wrap and bake at 350°F  15-20 minutes.  Let the rolls cool for about 10 minutes and then drizzle or spread the icing over the warm rolls.

For the Icing

Combine the powdered sugar, milk, butter, and vanilla.  Mix well.  

Notes:
1.  I let the frozen loaf thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
2.  Serve the rolls warm or at room temperature.
3.  Leftover rolls are good after warming in the microwave a few seconds.

Have a safe and Happy New Year.

 

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

These Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars have been a family favorite for several years.  Using a cookie mix, this is a fast and easy recipe to bake up.

I do prefer a cookie or bar cookie made from scratch.  However, this is the recipe that the family requests that I make for family and holiday dinners.  If you are a fan of peanut butter and chocolate, I think you will love these bars.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker peanut butter cookie mix
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons water
1 egg
1 (12 oz) package Nestle Toll House semi-sweet mini morsels

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 13×9 inch baking pan with aluminum foil with a 1/2 inch overlap.  Spray with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir cookie mix, oil, water, and egg until a soft dough forms.  Press into the prepared pan.  Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are light golden brown.  Cool 10 minutes.

In a small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips on high 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until melted, stirring several times.  Spread evenly over the cooled peanut butter base.  Refrigerate 30 minutes or until set.  Remove from pan, cut and serve.  For bars, cut into 9 rows by 4 rows.  Makes approximately 36 bars.  

Thanksgiving is in a couple of weeks.  Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving with lots of good food.

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