Author Archives for geekycooker

About geekycooker

Hi, I'm geekycooker but also known as Bev Davis. I have long been Interested in cooking. I started cooking as a teenager and really haven't stopped since. I'm originally from the South but with many stops along the way now live in Michigan. I am a history major and still have a love for history, so you may find bits of historical information about food in my posts. And remember to always cook with love. Thanks for taking a look at my blog.

Key Lime Pie

This is a vintage Key Lime Pie recipe adapted from one that I found in a pamphlet published in 1946.  Florida Keys Cooking is a pamphlet of native recipes compiled by Patricia Atman and self published in Patricia’s Notebook in 1946.

While similar to a traditional Key Lime Pie, it differs in that stiffly beaten egg whites are folded into the condensed milk and egg yolk mixture.  Folding in the beaten egg whites gives the pie a light, mouselike texture.  This pie is not as sweet as some of the other versions.

Key Lime Pie

1 9-inch deep dish pie crust, baked

Filling

4 eggs, separated
1 14 ounce can Condensed Milk
1/2 cup lime juice
1 tablespoon grated lime zest

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat the yolks of 4 eggs along with the white of one of the eggs, until thick.  Add the condensed milk and beat again until mixed in.  Add the lime juice and zest, and beat until thick.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat the 3 remaining egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Fold the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk and condensed milk mixture.  Pour into the prepared pie crust and bake about 15-20  minutes or until the pie is set.

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.  Refrigerate overnight before slicing. Serve with sweetened whipped cream and garnish with lime slice and zest, if desired.  

Notes:
I used the fresh limes (Persians) which are readily available in USA markets since Key limes are not usually available.

My Spring became a lot brighter a couple of days ago when a beautiful Baltimore Oriole stopped by.  They are such beautiful birds.

French Toast

Many years ago when I was still living in Florida (Panama City), we took a trip to the Florida Keys.  That was a wonderful trip in which I discovered some amazing food and drink:  Key Lime Pie, deep fried French toast, and gin martinis.  To this day, I still enjoy a good martini and quite often make Key Lime Pie and French toast.

I always serve maple syrup with french toast, waffles, or pancakes.  And recently, I was gifted with some homemade maple syrup from a gardener friend.  The maple syrup was made from maple trees within the Grand Rapids area.  Some of the maple trees tapped were located on my daughter’s property.  That makes this maple syrup even more special.

Below are pictures of one of the tapped maple trees from my daughter’s property, the maple syrup evaporator, and the finished product: maple syrup.

While Vermont leads the nation in the making of maple syrup (1.9 million gallons yearly), Michigan is in the top 10 U.S producers, usually around fifth place (producing around 90,000 gallons per year).  Although according to Michigan State University Extension, Michigan has enough trees to outproduce Vermont.  Only about 3 to 5 percent of the sugar maples are currently being tapped.  Source is mlive

When it comes to maple syrup, we must not forget our friends from the North.  Canada is the world’s leading producer and exporter of maple products ($381 million in 2016).

Typically, French toast is cooked in butter.  I prefer cooking with the vegetable oil.  The French toast fries up with a crisp exterior and a tender center.  All it needs is butter and maple syrup and you have a special occasion breakfast.

French Toast

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Print

9 slices of thickly cut Sour Dough bread
5 large eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

oil for frying (such as vegetable oil)

maple syrup and butter for serving

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees F (or low setting).

In a medium bowl combine the eggs, milk, and vanilla.  Whisk until well combined.

Heat about 1/2 inch oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Dip each side of the bread in the egg mixture.  Carefully add the bread slices to the skillet and cook in the hot oil until light golden brown on each side (about 1-2 minutes per side).  Keep the cooked French toast warm in the oven while preparing the other slices of bread.  Serve warm with pure maple syrup and butter.  

Notes:
1. The recipe comes together quickly, so have the bread sliced and egg mixture made before heating the oil in the skillet.
2.  Other breads such as Italian, Challah or French baguette are good for making French toast.

 

 

 

 

Easter Sandwich Cookies With Lemon Curd

Easter is only a couple weeks away.  A lot of us in the US will celebrate Easter with family gatherings and good food.  We nearly always have a ham dinner with a lot of side dishes and desserts.

Some of the folklore associated with Easter includes colored eggs and the Easter bunny.  This may not be the Easter bunny, but here is a picture of a cute bunny that is occasionally in my yard.

I saw some pretty pastel Easter Linzer cookies with a lemon curd filling on Fancy Flours‘ web site, and I was inspired to bake up some similar cookies.  Except, I used a sugar cookie recipe and homemade lemon curd.

These are pretty cookies with the pastel colored powder sugars and will remind you of Spring.

You can use store bought lemon curd but I really recommend making your own.  I have made the microwave version twice.  It is so easy to make and delicious.  You will want to eat it straight from the jar.

The sandwich cookies are not too sweet with a hint of lemon from the lemon curd,  and the cutout on the top cookie allows the lemon curd filling to peak through.

Microwave Lemon Curd

1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

In a microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until smooth.  Stir in the lemon juice and butter.  Cook in the microwave for one minute intervals, stirring after each minute until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon.  Remove from the microwave, and pour into small clean jars.  Store for up to three weeks in the refrigerator. Makes about 2 cups of lemon curd.  

Easter Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
3/4  teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla extract.  Combine the flour, salt and baking soda and gradually beat into the creamed mixture.  Beat just until the dough comes together.

Shape the dough into a ball.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until dough is easy to handle.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Using an egg shaped cookie cutter, cut the dough into an egg shapes.  On half of the cookies, use a tiny bunny cookie cutter to cut out a bunny in the center of half of the whole cookies.  If desired, gather up the bunny scraps and roll out the dough again to create as many cookies as possible or bake them.  *See note.

Place 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 350°F for 8-10 minutes or until edges begin to brown.  Cool for 2 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

Place the cookies with the cutouts on a separate wire rack and lightly dust the tops with the colored powdered sugars.

On the bottom surface of the full cookie, spread with about 1/2 teaspoon of the lemon curd.  Place the cutout cookie on top and gently sandwich them together, trying not to smudge the powdered sugar.

Makes approximately 22 sandwich cookies.

Store cookies up to a week in the refrigerator.

Notes:
1.  *Bake the mini bunny cutouts for only 3-4 minutes.  Mine got a little too brown.
2.  White powdered sugar can be used in place of the colored sugars.
3. I bought the colored powdered sugars, oval cutters, and mini Easter cutter set from Fancy Flours but I believe the same items are available from Amazon as well.
4.  Lemon curd recipe adapted from allrecipes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ham, Egg and Cheese Muffins

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We all know that breakfast is the first meal of the day and usually eaten in the early part of the morning.  Breakfast literally means to break the fasting period of the prior night.

I’m not a really big fan of breakfast.  I’m happy with just an extra cup of coffee in the mornings.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t like breakfast foods.  Eggs, bacon, grits, and pancakes are all good.

These colorful Breakfast Egg Muffins caught my eye on Pinterest, and I wanted to give them a try.  I think they are going to change my mind about skipping breakfast.  They are easy and quick to make.

Once they are completely cooled, leftovers can be stored in a Ziplock bag in the fridge for a few days.  They are easy to reheat in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds or until heated through.  I have also frozen them and reheated in the microwave.

A glass of orange juice tastes great with these Muffins.

Ham, Egg and Cheese Muffins

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
1/4 cup diced orange bell pepper
1 cup finely diced cooked ham

9 large eggs
2 tablespoons half and half or milk
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon seasoned pepper
1/4 teaspoon seasoned garlic powder
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (4 ounces)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a standard size muffin tin (12 cups) with cooking spray and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a medium sauté pan and add the diced onion and diced bell peppers.  Sauté over medium heat until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and mix in the diced ham.  Set aside.

In a large bowl whisk the eggs with the milk, salt, pepper, and garlic powder until well blended.  Stir in the diced ham mixture and the cheese.  Mix lightly to combine.  Spoon the mixture into the muffin cups, filling 3/4 full.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes or until knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  Let cool in muffin pan for 5 minutes and then carefully run a knife around each muffin before removing.  Serve warm.

Note:
A nonstick muffin pan is recommended for this recipe, sprayed generously with cooking spray (such as Pam).

 

 

Blood Orange Marmalade

Blood oranges are a beautiful and tasty citrus fruit available for only a short period of time.  For a long time I would not buy or try these oranges because of its name which is not very appealing.  However, I’m glad I finally tried them a few years ago.

The blood oranges are so called for their red flesh and deep red juice.   Also, when ripe their skin may also be reddish on part of the orange.  The orange does not seem very sweet to me.  They are perfect in a citrus salad for their beauty and are great drizzled with a slightly sweet poppy seed dressing.

But I think my favorite way to enjoy this beautiful citrus is in marmalade.  I first discovered blood orange marmalade when someone gifted me with a jar from Harry and David Food Company.  I have been a fan ever since.

So when the blood oranges again became available, I made my first batch of the marmalade.  It is really not difficult to make at all.  The marmalade has to set for 24 hours.  Then, you can refrigerate or freeze for longer storage time.

I adapted Kraft’s Orange Freezer Marmalade recipe that calls for Sure-Jell Fruit Pectin.  Kraft’s recipe uses 3 medium navel oranges.

The marmalade is good on toast, hot biscuits, or English Muffins.  My favorite way to eat this marmalade is spread on a slice of toasted Jalapeño Cheese bread.

Blood Orange Marmalade

about 2 pounds of blood oranges
4 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3/4 cup water
1 box Sure-Jell Fruit Pectin (1.75 ounce box)

Wash clean glass jars (or plastic containers) with hot water or run through the dishwasher.  Dry thoroughly.  You will need six 8 ounce jars or plastic containers.

Wash and dry the oranges.  Remove the colored part of the peel from the oranges using a vegetable peeler.  Cut the peel into thin slivers, or finely chop.  Peel  and discard remaining white part of the peel from the oranges.  Chop the fruit, reserving any juice.  Mix with the slivered peel along with the lemon juice.  Measure 2 1/3 cups of the fruit mixture into a large bowl.  If needed add up to 1/2 cup water (or orange juice) for exact measure.  Stir in the sugar.  Let stand 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mix water and pectin in a small saucepan.  Bring to boil on high heat, stirring constantly.  Boil and stir 1 minute.  Add to fruit mixture, stirring 3 minutes or until sugar is dissolved and no longer grainy.  (A few sugar crystals may remain.)

Fill the jars immediately to within 1/4 inch of tops.  Wipe off top edges of containers.  Immediately cover with lids.  Let stand at room temperature 24 hours.  Marmalade is now ready to use.  Store in the refrigerator up to 3 weeks or freeze up to 1 year.  If frozen, thaw in refrigerator before using.  

Notes:
1.  My oranges were very small and it took 2 pounds of unpeeled oranges for the recipe.
2. I usually find the blood oranges locally during January-March.

Strawberry Brownies

February is supposed to be the month of love.  Well it hasn’t shown much love to us here in West Michigan.  Perhaps, that is Mother Nature’s fault.

So far this month, we have suffered through the Polar Vortex (snow and very bitter cold temperatures) and then freezing rain that caused mass power outages and school closings for days.  My neighborhood was without power for over two days and it was not fun.  Thankfully, I have a gas fireplace that provided some heat in the freezing temperatures.  Hopefully, the remainder of February will be more kinder to us.

Below is an icy tree in my backyard after the freezing rain and a rabbit eating an apple I tossed out for them.  The third photo is courtesy of Andrew Sietsema who has an apple orchard in the nearby Fruit Ridge area in NW Grand Rapids.

The ghost apple was caused when the rotting apples slid out of their icy shells to leave behind a nearly entire apple “ghost”.

Because, we do have Valentine’s Day to look forward to, here is a recipe for Strawberry Brownies.

These strawberry brownies are so simple and easy to make and are a pretty pink.  As pretty as they are, the brownies are delicious to eat as well.  The main ingredient of this recipe is a strawberry cake mix.  After the brownies are baked they are topped with a glaze made with powdered sugar and water.  I made two batches of the brownies for this post.

Strawberry Brownies

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 box Strawberry Cake Mix (without pudding in the mix)
2 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon Strawberry Extract (optional)

1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.  Set aside.

Mix the cake mix, eggs, oil, and strawberry extract with a stand or hand mixer until combined.  The batter will be thick.  Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.

Bake for 15 minutes.  Be careful not to over bake.  Remove from the oven when the brownies are just set.  Allow the brownies to cool for 10 minutes; lift carefully from pan using ends of parchment to lift.

Mix the powdered sugar, water and vanilla extract until smooth.  Add just enough water until thick but spreadable.  Spread evenly over the warm brownies.  Allow to cool and the glaze is set before slicing into squares.

Notes:
1.  The brownies can also be baked in a 9 inch square baking pan.
2.  Recipe is adapted from Family Savvy.

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Valentine’s Day is next month and I like to cook a special dinner and make a special dessert for the day.  This year I’m making a favorite chocolate and peanut butter pie.  I’ve been making it for holiday dinners for a few years now.

This pie has three delicious layers: a chocolate cookie crust, a no-bake peanut butter filling, and a chocolate ganache topping.  This is an amazingly decadent and rich pie.  If you love peanut butter and chocolate, this is the pie for you.

The recipe is adapted from a favorite food blogger and cookbook author Jennifer Segal (once upon a chef).  Please visit her web site for beautiful photos of the preparation process.  In April 2018, her first cookbook, Once Upon a Chef, The Cookbook:  100 Tested, Perfected, and Family-Approved Recipes was released.

I bought my hardcover copy from Amazon for $17.58.  It is also available for the Kindle.  My local library has it available in hardcover and electronic resource format.  Perhaps, your library does also.  I can recommend this cookbook.  It has amazing recipes and beautiful photos of the food.  I hope you get a chance to read it.

This is an easy recipe to make even with the three steps required to make it.  It is almost a no-bake recipe, except for the quick 10 minute bake of the crust.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

For the Crust

4  tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (1/2 cup)
2 cups finely ground chocolate wafer cookies, such as Nabisco Chocolate Wafers (see note)

For the Peanut Butter Filling

1 cup cold heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup smooth peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Topping

4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup salted roasted peanuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  In a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter.  Add the chocolate and stir until melted.  Add the cookie crumbs and stir until evenly combined.  Press the cookie crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the rim of an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then cool on a rack.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the cream until stiff peaks form.  Set aside in the refrigerator while preparing the rest of the filling.

In a large bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Add the sugar and mix until well blended.  Add peanut butter and vanilla, beating until combined.  Scrape the sides of the mixing bowl as needed to ensure that the ingredients are fully combined.    

Add one-third of the whipped cream to the peanut butter mixture and beat on low speed to combine.

Add the remaining whipped cream and using a large rubber spatula, fold until evenly combined.  Spoon the filling into the crust, smoothing the surface.  Refrigerate uncovered for about 1 hour.

Place chocolate chips and heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl and heat on low heat for 20-30 second intervals.  Remove the bowl from the microwave and stir with a spatula and repeat in 20-30 seconds intervals until the chocolate is completely melted.  Stir until well blended, then let cool to just warm, stirring occasionally.  Spread the chocolate topping over the chilled peanut butter filling.  Return to the refrigerator and chill uncovered for an additional 3 hours.

When ready to serve, carefully remove the rim from the pan by gently pressing upwards on the bottom while holding the rim in place.  Slice and serve cold, garnished with chopped peanuts if desired.

Note:
It takes about 40 cookies from a 9-ounce package to make 2 cups ground cookie crumbs.

Since it is a cold and snowy day as I write this post, I’m including a cute snowman from my photo archives.  The upside down snowman was spotted in my neighborhood a couple of years ago.