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137 posts categorized " 06) Cakes, Desserts, Fruit Desserts & Pies"

08/15/2017

~ Rich, Toasted Indian Basmati Rice Pudding (Kheer) ~

When it comes to worldly or exotic recipes, I always do my research and my best to keep them as close to authentic as I can. When it comes to Indian food, I always reply upon the advice of my four Indian girlfriends, and the woman who owns Krishan, Happy Valley's Indian grocery store, because you're all such good cooks. That said, when it comes to kheer, a delicately-spiced addictively-rich rice pudding dessert, if you're one of my Indian girlfriends, you might find yourself wincing in one or two spots while reading my recipe. Why? While the flavors in my...... View full recipe for "~ Rich, Toasted Indian Basmati Rice Pudding (Kheer) ~"

08/03/2017

~ She's Gone Bananas: Banana-Walnut Bundt Cake ~

How many bananas can a gal put into a bundt cake? Every time I bake this banana cake, I push the envelope a little farther, and, today I used the entire bunch. Six bananas. It yielded a total of 3 cups mashed bananas, and, the recipe, which started out using 1 3/4-2 cups, came out super-moist and full-flavored -- just perfect. Often times, this is how recipes are developed or improved upon (by trial, error and gutsy experimentation). That said, me thinks I'll stop improving this one. The original recipe came from my mother's recipe box and I'm pretty certain...... View full recipe for "~ She's Gone Bananas: Banana-Walnut Bundt Cake ~"

07/18/2017

~ A Very Berry Sour Cherry and/or Blueberry Cobbler ~

While I adore a traditional cherry or blueberry pie (who doesn't), sometimes, especially July thru September, the months when there is so much (too much) going on in our garden, I need to speed things in order to make use of all the fresh fruits and vegetables in a timely, manner. When it comes "short shelf life" fruits like our sour cherries and blueberries, this cobbler is my solution. All I need is four cups of one or the other or a combination of both, along with 15 minutes of hands-on time, and: dessert is in the oven. There's more....... View full recipe for "~ A Very Berry Sour Cherry and/or Blueberry Cobbler ~"

07/03/2017

~ Creamy Dreamy No-Bake Strawberry Key Lime Pie ~

Here's a pie I seldom get the opportunity to make because, after making strawberry shortcakes, a batch of strawberry preserves, and, some strawberry dessert topping, I rarely have leftover strawberries. That said, I keep this super-simple go-to recipe in my repertoire for times when I do have a few cups of seriously-ripe strawberries at that "use 'em or lose 'em" stage. Read on: The combination of strawberry & key lime is delightfully grown up. All of us have encountered recipes similar to this, and you've probably even tasted them once or twice -- it originated on the box of Jell-O...... View full recipe for "~ Creamy Dreamy No-Bake Strawberry Key Lime Pie ~"

06/25/2017

~ Seriously Simple & Sweet: Fresh All Strawberry Pie ~

When it comes to freshly-picked, home-grown strawberries, past eating them out-of-hand, as a strawberry dessert lover, I'm a purest at heart. Today's recipe is a perfect example. I'd rather bake a smaller-sized pie that's loaded with lots of strawberries, than add another ingredient to them (because I don't have enough strawberries) to fill a bigger pie dish. Note: I have nothing (zero) against the quintessential strawberry-rhubarb pie concoction (we grow rhubarb in our garden too), I just prefer to indulge in a slice of pie containing all of one or all of the other. Period. My memories of fresh strawberry...... View full recipe for "~ Seriously Simple & Sweet: Fresh All Strawberry Pie ~"

06/23/2017

~ Simple & Sweet: Homemade Strawberry Topping ~

Strawberries, one of the first fruits to ripen in the Spring, are considered to be the fruit that announces "Summer is here", and, here in Central Pennsylvania, we've been enjoying our own homegrown and locally-grown farmers-market strawberries for a couple of weeks now. From pancakes, waffles and French toast, to cheesecake, shortcake and ice-cream (to name a few), the 20-30 minutes it takes to make strawberry topping is well-worth the effort. It's luscious. Those who scratch-make this pretty-to-look-at positively-yummy tart-and-sweet topping make it to their own liking. Some folks hull and toss the berries in whole, then after it has...... View full recipe for "~ Simple & Sweet: Homemade Strawberry Topping ~"

06/15/2017

~ In a Pie Shell: A Pie Filling is Thicker than Pudding ~

"What's the difference between pie filling and pudding?" That was the question that came across my desk last week, and, when you ask, I always answer. "I can't seem to find any recipes for pudding on your blog." That was the comment that followed the question that came across my desk last week, and, when it is brought to my attention that my blog is lacking something, I fix it. Thank-you Missy. You triggered my writing three pudding posts, ~ Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pudding ~, ~ Old-Fashioned Very Vanilla Pudding ~ and ~ Old-Fashioned Butterscotch Pudding ~, one pie post, ~...... View full recipe for "~ In a Pie Shell: A Pie Filling is Thicker than Pudding ~"

06/12/2017

~How to: Make a Better Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pie~

Chocolate pie. The kind our grandmothers made before they had too-many-to-mention options for high-quality, super-expensive brands of chocolate, cocoa powder and extracts imported from all over the world. Two generations ago, when a mom wanted to surprise her family with a chocolate pie for dessert, she simply opened her pantry door, and, without hesitation, reached for a can of Hershey's cocoa powder and/or a few squares of Baker's unsweetened chocolate. She cooked the pie filling on the stovetop, poured it into a baked pie shell, chilled the pie in the "icebox" and served it with freshly-whipped cream on top. Those...... View full recipe for "~How to: Make a Better Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pie~"

06/06/2017

~ How to: Make Old-Fashioned Very Vanilla Pudding ~

Exotically fragrant, vanilla is said to be the world's most popular flavor (and is the second most expensive next to saffron). One would be hard pressed to find an American kitchen pantry that doesn't contain at least one bottle of pure vanilla extract and/or a whole vanilla bean or two. Why? Something wonderful happens when any form of pure vanilla gets added to all sorts of sweet or savory dishes. My very vanilla pudding recipe is a spin-off of my grandmother's vanilla pudding recipe, and, it is the base recipe and starting point for all three of my favorite pudding...... View full recipe for "~ How to: Make Old-Fashioned Very Vanilla Pudding ~"

06/04/2017

~ How to: Make Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pudding ~

When I was raising three boys in the '70's and '80's, chocolate was, hands down, their favorite pudding flavor. Just like today, grocery store shelves were full of convenient pudding options (boxes and boxes of instant and quick-cooking pudding, and, ready-to-eat lunch-box-size pudding cups). While I was often tempted to succumb to their wishes and buy those boxes, I resisted. I grew up eating homemade, creamy, dreamy, rich real-deal pudding -- my memories prevented it. As for the pudding cups, I admit, I allowed them, on occasion, as a school lunchbox treat. Don't succumb to boxes of instant or quick-cooking...... View full recipe for "~ How to: Make Old-Fashioned Chocolate Pudding ~"

06/02/2017

~ How to: Make Old-Fashioned Butterscotch Pudding ~

My three favorite flavors of pudding are butterscotch, chocolate and vanilla (in that order). They're all creamy and dreamy, but something wonderful happens when brown sugar and butter team up to make real-deal butterscotch. Homemade pudding (from scratch, not a box), was something my grandmother made often -- just for me. I'm in my early 60's, that was back in the latter 50's, and: there is no letting go of homemade pudding memories. Whether it was butterscotch, chocolate or vanilla, she'd always leave me an ample sample, in the bottom of her enamelware saucepan and on the wooden spoon, because:...... View full recipe for "~ How to: Make Old-Fashioned Butterscotch Pudding ~"

05/31/2017

~A Few Bites of Summer: Pineapple-Meringue Tartlets~

During the Summer, our gas grill is the focal point for all sorts of fun, foodie get-togethers. While I like a rare-cooked steak or a juicy cheeseburger accompanied by a baked potato and a garden salad as much as the next person, for me, 'tis the season to partake in poultry and pork. Big, meaty bone-on breasts, chops or ribs, slathered with sweet and savory sauces accompanied by grilled vegetable kabobs are amongst my favorites, and all are deserving of a light, bright Summer fruit dessert. Pineapple-meringue tartlets are the perfect ending to a Summer evening. I adore pineapple. Spring...... View full recipe for "~A Few Bites of Summer: Pineapple-Meringue Tartlets~"

05/29/2017

~ How to: Cut, Form & Bake Pie-Pastry Tartlet Shells ~

When it comes to desserts in general, but especially desserts like pies, tarts and cheesecakes, if I'm baking for a large group of people or for a special occasion, small, individual-sized ones, while a bit more labor-intensive up front, are well worth the "fussy" extra effort in the end. Why? They're perfectly-portioned and require no slicing. Serving them is 100% mess-free and stress-free. This post refers to tartlets made w/classic, rolled pie pastry: To make pie-pastry tartlet shells, you need pie pastry, and, to make 14, 3"-round shells, you need the same amount you would use to make one, 9"...... View full recipe for "~ How to: Cut, Form & Bake Pie-Pastry Tartlet Shells ~"

04/30/2017

~ Five-Minute Food-Processor Cream-Cheese Glaze ~

Everyone loves cream cheese frosting sandwiched between the layers and slathered on the sides and top of an applesauce, banana, carrot, coconut or pumpkin cake -- meet my short list of layer-, sheet-, or cup- cakes that require cream cheese frosting. That said, certain quick breads and muffins (which traditionally don't get frosted), many bundt cakes, cinnamon rolls, pastries and even an occasional cookie, benefit from a smooth, drizzly, glaze, and, the tang that cream cheese adds to the classic confectioners'-sugar-and-milk mixture is: a perfect finishing touch. I've decided, in tandem with a few professionals, that making the ultimate smooth,...... View full recipe for "~ Five-Minute Food-Processor Cream-Cheese Glaze ~"

04/28/2017

~ Charmingly Southern: Hummingbird (Bundt) Cake ~

Best described by me as "an extremely moist, banana and pineapple, cinnamon 'n spice cake containing toasted pecans and topped with cream cheese frosting", this absolutely scrumptious cake concoction is impossible for me to resist. It's simply irresistible. If you're like me, when you hear "bananas and pineapple", you likely say to yourself "that sounds tropical, akin to Caribbean, more than it does Southern." That's because it is. Hummingbird cake was created on the island of Jamaica during the 1960's and is named after their national bird, where the cake is also known as Doctor Bird Cake ("doctor bird" being...... View full recipe for "~ Charmingly Southern: Hummingbird (Bundt) Cake ~"

04/18/2017

~ A Must Have Recipe: Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake ~

If I knew you were coming I'd have baked you a mayonnaise cake. While that might not sound appetizing, I always say, "what happens in my kitchen, stays in my kitchen" and in my food world, there is no reason to reveal to anyone they are eating a mayonnaise cake unless they ask for the recipe. In the event anyone rolls their eyes or turns up their nose, the joke's on them, as, they obviously don't know mayonnaise is a concoction of oil (which makes cakes tender), eggs and a bit of flavor-boosting acid (like vinegar or lemon juice) --...... View full recipe for "~ A Must Have Recipe: Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake ~"

02/24/2017

~ My Buttery Sour Cream & Buttermilk Pound Cake ~

No embellishments necessary. There is nothing like the first slice of a perfectly baked, slightly-warm pound cake. With or without a dusting of Confectioners' sugar or a drizzling of sweet creamy glaze, it's the perfect foil for berries, ice cream, whipped cream or all three. For me, just as pictured here, it is all I need for breakfast or brunch with a cup of coffee or tea. It's irresistible. Pound cake is personal. I'd never proclaim to have the best recipe because almost everyone's mother or grandmother made the best pound cake they ever tasted. I'm no exception: My grandmother...... View full recipe for "~ My Buttery Sour Cream & Buttermilk Pound Cake ~"

02/20/2017

~ All-American Presidents' Day Gingerbread Cake ~

Say "snack cake" and folks my age think "Twinkie" or "TandyCake". Interestingly, snack cakes have been in America since Colonial times. Recipes for gingerbread, both the hard cookie and the soft cake or loaf, came to the us with the English and German settlers. Gingeroot was delivered by boat to the pilgims -- they used it fresh, dried it, and, made syrup from it. Ginger beer, made by pouring boiling water over brown sugar and pounded ginger combined with yeast proofed in warm milk was bottled and served as a refreshing beverage on hot days. The first recipe for gingerbread...... View full recipe for "~ All-American Presidents' Day Gingerbread Cake ~"

02/14/2017

~ How to Make Whole Buttermilk & Crème Fraîche ~

Once upon a time here in Happy Valley, circa the 1970's and into the 80's, crème fraîche wasn't an item one could find in the dairy case of any market. Why? Most folks had no idea what it was except for schooled chefs and those of us who scoured French cookbooks and/or read magazines like Bon Appétit, Food & Wine and Gourmet. Yes indeed -- foodie life was very different pre- Food Network and the information superhighway we refer to as the internet. A bit about crème "fraîche" (pronounced "fresh" and meaning "fresh cream"): In technical terms, it's a French-invented...... View full recipe for "~ How to Make Whole Buttermilk & Crème Fraîche ~"

02/12/2017

~ Powdered Buttermilk: What it is & How to use it. ~

Once upon a time, buttermilk was something I kept on hand. As a cook and baker for our family of five, I used it regularly to make quite a few things: pancakes, waffles, biscuits, scones, coffee cake, pound cake, fried chicken and salad dressing. To breads and cakes it adds tangy flavor and volume and produces a fine, soft crumb. Its acidity when used as a marinade is a natural tenderizer for poultry and meat. There's more. It does all this without adding a lot of extra fat. Times change. Our children grew up and left the nest. That left...... View full recipe for "~ Powdered Buttermilk: What it is & How to use it. ~"

01/20/2017

~ The Differences Between: Cupcakes and Muffins ~

Cupcakes and muffins. Past their shape and portable-foodness, they have less in common than one might think. The fast, simple generic answer is: Cupcakes are fancy little cup-sized cakes and muffins are plain little cup-sized quick-breads. Served with an ice-cold glass of milk or cup of piping hot coffee, rare is the person who would take a pass on either. That said, I will always choose a muffin over a cupcake. Sorry cupcake -- this post is going to be a bit biased. Shape. They're both baked in multiple-cupped pans, to produce individual-sized, portable portions. Prior to the invention of...... View full recipe for "~ The Differences Between: Cupcakes and Muffins ~"

01/04/2017

~ Alice's Super-Simple Georgia Peach-Pie Cobbler ~

Alice was a friend and a member of our tailgate group back in the 1980's and 1990's. Alice was a Southern Belle who lived most of her life in Atlanta, Georgia. She made no secret of the fact that she detested the sport of cooking -- which complicates things for a woman in a tailgate group like ours. That said, she participated and prepared something good each week, and, from her, I got a few very nice recipes that were easy to make too. Since Georgia is known as the Peach State, it wasn't surprising that one of Alice's dessert...... View full recipe for "~ Alice's Super-Simple Georgia Peach-Pie Cobbler ~"

11/15/2016

~ So Sophisticated: Sweet Potato & Frangelico Tart ~

"So sophisticated." That was my mother-in-law's comment when I served this dessert in place of pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving a few years back. I hung onto those words because Ann was a woman of few words who didn't hand out compliments often. We were having an unusually small gathering of eight people that year. Making one easy-to-serve dessert to feed us all, enabling me to offer seconds to a few, and, save me time too -- it worked out perfectly. Sweet potato or pumpkin pie (in addition to Dutch apple, pecan, and rhubarb) was/is always a part of my three-four...... View full recipe for "~ So Sophisticated: Sweet Potato & Frangelico Tart ~"

11/02/2016

~ Simply Divine: Chocolate Tart (Tarte au Chocolat) ~

Don't look now but the season of holiday entertaining and festive gatherings is quickly approaching. If you're like me, you're always "in the market" for another elegant yet easy-to-make dessert to serve at your own get-together or take to someone else's. A chocolate tart is a perfect ending to any occasion, and, in the case of this recipe, it doesn't require the skills of a trained pastry chef -- feel free to keep that a secret and let 'em think you slaved all day over it. "Tarte au Chocolate" -- No special skills required. A chocolate tart, or as they...... View full recipe for "~ Simply Divine: Chocolate Tart (Tarte au Chocolat) ~"

10/30/2016

~ Short and Sweet: A Three-Ingredient Tart Pastry ~

Pies and tarts: Two of my all-time favorite desserts. This isn't a "pass/fail", but, you only get out of something what you put into it, and, the pie or tart pastry you choose to use can turn a dessert from ordinary to extraordinary. While we all agree we love the time-saving convenience of picking up a store-bought pie crust or pastry on occasion, in our hearts we also know their taste and texture are a compromise. Even a store-bought, artificially-flavored graham cracker or cookie crust pales in comparison to one made at home using real-deal melted butter instead. Is there...... View full recipe for "~ Short and Sweet: A Three-Ingredient Tart Pastry ~"

10/27/2016

~ Pucker up for French Lemon Tart (Tarte au Citron) ~

One thing I love about the late Fall and Winter is the vibrant-colored citrus fruit. Because it's available all year long, a lot of folks don't realize that citrus fruit (lemons, limes, grapefruit and oranges) are in fact "winter fruit". This year, for some reason, the citrus fruit I've been purchasing, is extra-over-the-top, plump, tart 'n sweet and juicy. I've been eating grapefruit every morning, putting orange segments in our salads, lime slices in my gin and tonics, and, today I'm baking a lemon tart for dessert. Tarte au citron is a classic French dessert and every patisserie (bakery) in...... View full recipe for "~ Pucker up for French Lemon Tart (Tarte au Citron) ~"

09/15/2016

~ The Old-Fashioned Classic Coconut Custard Pie ~

When I was growing up, two trucks pulled into my family's driveway twice a week (and they weren't FedEx or UPS which didn't even exist then). They were: The milk man and the baker. The milk man delivered milk, butter, eggs, sour cream and some cheeses. The baker delivered bread, sandwich rolls, cakes, pies and cookies. In the case of both, via a paper checklist, you ordered on a Tuesday what you wanted delivered on Saturday, and you ordered on Saturday what you wanted delivered on Tuesday. When mom said it was my turn to pick a dessert, it was...... View full recipe for "~ The Old-Fashioned Classic Coconut Custard Pie ~"

09/13/2016

~ Silky-Smooth & Delicate: Traditional Egg Custard ~

I have a penchant for sweet treats with smooth, creamy consistencies: pudding, mousse, ice cream, cheesecake, éclairs, cream pie, brûlée and crème caramel are off-the-top-of-my-head examples. They're luxurious and make me feel all "la-tee-da". As a young bride and novice cook it was only natural that these were the first dessert recipes I gravitated too. After a while it occurred to me that, technically speaking, they are all a form of basic egg custard -- the only creamy-type dessert my grandmother ever made and the first dessert that was spoonfed to me. In its most basic form, custard is thickened...... View full recipe for "~ Silky-Smooth & Delicate: Traditional Egg Custard ~"

09/11/2016

~ Bird's Custard Powder. You make it so special... ~

Custard powder. These are two words not typically on the tip of the average American foodie's tongue. That's understandable, because, unless an American cook has some form of culinary ties to the United Kingdom or Australia (via cookbooks, travel or personal friendship), it's not an ingredient that has made its way into our food lover's vocabulary. Given its popularity "across the pond", I find that hard to understand, because, for me it's a "nifty", time-saving pantry staple. I learned about custard powder back in the early 1990's. This was not an ingredient I ever found in my grandmother's or mother's...... View full recipe for "~ Bird's Custard Powder. You make it so special... ~"

07/20/2016

~ Plantation Cake: A Very Southern Vintage Cake ~

I first came across this recipe in a stack of recipe cards held together with a rubber band. They were in a plastic bag full of newspaper- and magazine-clipped recipes that my late grandmother collected. I don't recall her making the cake, but, at some point in her life she must have, as she took the time to write it down in her own hand. It's an unpretentious, yellow cake made of butter or margarine, sugar, flour, eggs, vanilla, home-canned peaches or pears, pecans or walnuts and buttermilk or sour cream. It sure sounded good to me, and, its name...... View full recipe for "~ Plantation Cake: A Very Southern Vintage Cake ~"

06/30/2016

~ Coconut and Rum Pineapple Upside Down Cake ~

Remember the first time you watched your mom make a pineapple upside down cake? I was mesmerized. I stood stoic, across the counter, watching as she carefully arranged and layered the ingredients in the pan. I stood vigil, peering through the glass, at the oven while it baked. I stood breathless, fingers crossed behind my back, when she inverted it out of the pan. In the end, I didn't know whether to joyfully jump up and down or hug her with pride -- I think I did both. I was five or six at the time, and, that Norman Rockwell...... View full recipe for "~ Coconut and Rum Pineapple Upside Down Cake ~"

05/07/2016

~ Nana's Oatmeal-Applesauce-Raisin-Walnut Cake ~

I've always loved oatmeal and anything edible containing oatmeal, and, let me tell you: this recipe "takes the cake" in terms of oatmeal recipes. When I was 19 and still living in Tamaqua, PA, my fiancé's grandmother, Nana, made this for dessert the first time I was invited to their house for dinner. For me, it was genuine "love at first bite". After that, she made it almost every time I visited, just because she knew I liked it so much. Fond memories of a lovely, gentle lady. For my bridal shower, Nana gave me the identical stainless steel baking...... View full recipe for "~ Nana's Oatmeal-Applesauce-Raisin-Walnut Cake ~"

05/05/2016

~ Deli-, Bakery-, & Coffee-Shop- Style Crumb Cake ~

If you're under the impression that "coffeecake" and "crumb cake" are words that can be used interchangeably, you haven't spent much time in the delicatessens, bakeries and coffee shops of the Northeast, namely: New York, New Jersey, and here in Pennsylvania too. We take our crumb cake seriously. Simply stated: it is a medium-textured buttercake with a coarse-grained, flour-based cohesive-crumb layer on top. Confusing it with other types of crumby cakes (which sometimes contain fruit or nuts and get topped with a sort-of similar-looking but looser streusel topping), is easily avoided -- once you taste a crumb cake, the difference...... View full recipe for "~ Deli-, Bakery-, & Coffee-Shop- Style Crumb Cake ~"

05/02/2016

~ Come on Over for Coffee & a Classic Coffeecake ~

Thanks to post WWII advertising campaigns by the American Coffee Bureau, by 1950, America was a country of coffee drinkers. In the workplace, the 15-minute coffee break was born, and, if you were a housewife, once you got your husband off to work and the kids off to school, you likely participated in a daily, weekly or occasional mid-morning "coffee klatch" with neighborhood friends. The term "coffee klatch" comes from the German word "kaffeeklatsch", meaning "coffee chat" -- a casual gathering for sharing coffee and conversation with close confidants. Literally translated: kaffee = coffee, and, klatsch = gossip. I like...... View full recipe for "~ Come on Over for Coffee & a Classic Coffeecake ~"

04/17/2016

~ Chocolate-Glazed Chocolate-Raspberry Tart Bars ~

The purchase of a few rectangular- and square-shaped tart pans were some of the best baking investments I've ever made. When it comes to serving crumbly cookie-type crusted tarts with custardy-textured centers, I find portioning and slicing a tart into bars or squares, instead of wedges from a round-shaped pan, more "user friendly" -- it's a kind of unique presentation too. There's more: When I'm making tarts that require refrigeration, I find these shapes to be a more efficient use of refrigerator space -- which, in my kitchen, is valuable real estate. "Tarte au chocolat" -- no special skills required!...... View full recipe for "~ Chocolate-Glazed Chocolate-Raspberry Tart Bars ~"

04/04/2016

~A Sophisticated Indulgence: Mousse au Chocolate~

Not being a chocolate lover (yes, that's what I said, I am not a lover of chocolate), when pressed to name my favorite chocolate confection, the French dessert, mousse au chocolate, is at the top of my very short list, which includes truffles and chocolate cheesecake made with a chocolate cookie crust. For me, mousse au chocolate is chocolate confection perfection. Calorie for calorie, every light, airy, creamy, thick spoonful is full of deep, rich, intense chocolate flavor. As easy as chocolate mousse is to make in theory, if you've never made one, it can be a bit confounding. Demystifying...... View full recipe for "~A Sophisticated Indulgence: Mousse au Chocolate~"

03/24/2016

~ What's Up Doc? A Carrot Pie w/Gingersnap Crust ~

In the Fall, we all flaunt our favorite recipes for pumpkin, squash and sweet potato pie. Well, it's Spring now, and I am here to tell you: anything a pumpkin, a squash or a sweet potato can do, a carrot can do better. It's got way more flavor than a pumpkin or a squash and a lot less calories than a sweet potato. There's more: besides being a great source of vitamins and minerals carrots contain more natural sugar than any vegetable aside from beets, which intensifies during the cooking process. Also, I have it on good authority, it's the...... View full recipe for "~ What's Up Doc? A Carrot Pie w/Gingersnap Crust ~"

03/01/2016

~ Pie-O-My: The Famous Mar-a-Lago Key Lime Pie ~

Don't shoot me I'm only the messenger. Finding common political ground with anyone this election cycle is harder than it has ever been. The climate is downright trash-talkin' nasty "out there". That said, when a friend suggested I post a recipe for key lime pie yesterday, I couldn't wait to get up this morning and make this particular one -- I could hardly sleep. For the first time ever here on Kitchen Encounters, I am mixing food with politics (and my wickedly-sarcastic sense of card-carrying DNC Super-Tuesday humor). I'm making what is touted to be "the most requested dessert on...... View full recipe for "~ Pie-O-My: The Famous Mar-a-Lago Key Lime Pie ~"

02/29/2016

~ Making Graham Cracker & Cookie Crumb Crusts ~

Cheesecakes, cream pies, many layered bar-type cookies, and, some refrigerated pudding and frozen ice-cream desserts call for using a graham cracker or cookie crumb crust as a buttery, crunchy base. While homemade graham crackers, sugar cookies, gingersnaps and chocolate wafers make exceptional crumb crusts, I won't lie, it would have to be one heck of an insanely over-the-top dessert for me to bake any of them for the sole purpose of starting with a real-deal scratch-made base. That said, I don't at all care for the quality of ready-made crumb crusts. Why? They taste bland to me, and that's primarily...... View full recipe for "~ Making Graham Cracker & Cookie Crumb Crusts ~"

02/27/2016

~ Pretty in Pink: No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecakes ~

When you find a big beautiful box of fresh strawberries in your market in February, you don't pause to ponder. Into the cart they go, you checkout, and, by the time you're out of the parking lot, your mind is recollecting "that recipe" you made "that time" for "that woman", who, two days before her Oscar party, decided to add mini-strawberry cheesecakes to her menu -- which caused you to go looking for strawberries in February -- not to mention 28 mini-cheesecake pans. "That woman" would be me, and, as I always say, "the devil is always in the details."...... View full recipe for "~ Pretty in Pink: No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecakes ~"

02/24/2016

~ Take it Easy: Cherry-Berry & Triple-Ginger Crisps ~

This luscious, easy-to-make dessert turns a gloomy, cold, wet, end-of-February day into a bright taste of sunny, hot, Summer. Made with frozen tart pie cherries, sweet blueberries and ingredients I keep on-hand in my pantry, it didn't require a trip to the grocery store or more than about twenty minutes of my time. FYI: A "crisp" is an American heritage dessert consisting of a fruit mixture topped with a crispy streusel usually made with oats. I happen to love gingersnap cookies (and all things ginger), which, when used in place of oats, gives it an extra-crunchy top. Why don't I...... View full recipe for "~ Take it Easy: Cherry-Berry & Triple-Ginger Crisps ~"

12/31/2015

~ Butter-Rum, Vanilla Bean & Eggnog Pound Cake ~

If you're planning on drinking some eggnog over the course of the next two days, set a cup of it aside until you read the rest of this post. You can thank me later. In my opinion, any cake, cookie or confection that starts out as plain vanilla, gets jettisoned to star status with the addition of the flavors of eggnog: cinnamon, nutmeg, and, of course, rum. Even folks who don't care to drink eggnog per se seem to love it if it is used as a flavoring in a dessert -- like this cake. Eggnog literally means eggs in...... View full recipe for "~ Butter-Rum, Vanilla Bean & Eggnog Pound Cake ~"

11/09/2015

~ Oh My Cup of Tea: Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares~

I love cheesecake -- on many levels, it's my ultimate-indulgence dessert. For me, a slice of cheesecake is a celebration on a plate. Ponder that last statement for one moment. Now: Would you rather celebrate your birthday with a candle in a slice of real-deal cheesecake, or, no matter how moist and decadent, a piece of cake or a cupcake? You've guessed my answer. I'm guessing I'm not standing anywhere close to alone. I hear a resounding cry for "cheesecake"! A bit about cheesecake: Cheesecake, a sweet dish of one more layers, is a beloved dessert around the world. A...... View full recipe for "~ Oh My Cup of Tea: Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares~"

08/22/2015

~ Plumb Scrumptious: E-Z Plum & Almond Galettes ~

Our purple plum tree is up to its old tricks again -- it's gifting us with these tart, juicy beauties faster than we can eat them hand-to-mouth, right-off-the-tree (which is my favorite way to enjoy them). Plums and peaches are my two favorite stone fruits. When they begin coming into my kitchen a basket or two at a time, using them to make a few rustic, freeform French galettes is a great way to keep up with them without a lot of effort on my part. When they pick up the pace and start coming in faster than that, I...... View full recipe for "~ Plumb Scrumptious: E-Z Plum & Almond Galettes ~"

08/03/2015

~ Golden Goddess: Shiro Plum & Egg Custard Tart ~

Plums fall into two categories: European and Japanese. Did you know that? I never knew that. I grew up thinking all plums were blue-ish purple and they showed up in farmers markets in August. Mostly I remember my mom putting them in a bowl on the kitchen counter for us to snack on 2-3-4 at a time -- nobody can eat just one plum. My grandmother turned them into thick jam, which we adored slathered on crepe-like pancakes called palacinki. And -- you can't grow up in an Eastern European house without acquiring a taste for slivovitz (plum brandy). Mel...... View full recipe for "~ Golden Goddess: Shiro Plum & Egg Custard Tart ~"

08/01/2015

~ Love is Blue: Very Berry Blueberry Creme Brulee ~

Resisting a rich, creamy, vanilla-laced egg-custard topped with a crackly layer of caramelized sugar is not something many people can do. I certainly don't have that kind of will-power. For us custard lovers, creme brulee and its cousin, creme caramel (flan), are the definition of decadent. Could anything possibly make it more tempting? Heck yea. Throw in a handful of freshly-picked blueberries, or, blackberries, or raspberries, or a combination of all three. A bit about creme brulee: Literally translated, "burnt cream" is a silky-smooth egg custard that is gently baked/steamed in a porcelain mold or in individual ramekins at a...... View full recipe for "~ Love is Blue: Very Berry Blueberry Creme Brulee ~"

07/30/2015

~ The Facts about ClearJel (Cook-Type vs. Instant) ~

On more than an occasional basis, everyone who enjoys the sport of cooking needs to thicken food, and, choosing the right thickening agent for the particular job can mean the difference between delight and disaster. Because thickeners come in many forms and they all work a bit differently, depending upon what's being prepared (a savory sauce, gravy or stew, or a sweet preserve, pie filling or pudding), it's in one's best interest to be well-informed in this arena. I am not a rocket scientist, so when it comes to discussing thickening agents, I stick to discussing what I know: how...... View full recipe for "~ The Facts about ClearJel (Cook-Type vs. Instant) ~"

07/17/2015

~ Andrew's Favorite: His Mom's Cherry Cookie Bars ~

Cherries and cherry desserts -- more specifically sour cherries and sour cherry desserts -- I don't know anyone who doesn't love cherries. My husband picked 150 pounds of pie cherries from our backyard tree last week, and ever since, I've been "making hay while the sun shines" -- posting as many of my favorite cherry recipes as I am physically capable in order to use up all of these culinary jewels. Click on the Related Article links below to get the most recent ones. Andrew is the Production Manager for WHVL-TV here in State College, PA. He's the host of...... View full recipe for "~ Andrew's Favorite: His Mom's Cherry Cookie Bars ~"

07/12/2015

~ Sweet Treats: Sour-Cherry-Pie Cookie Squares ~

When it comes to cherry desserts, these sweet little easy-to-make cherry treats hold their own amongst the heavy hitters. I can't lie either, this is not an original recipe of mine, it is my amped-up version of one that came straight from the pages of Taste of Home magazine, which, as most home cooks know, is one of a handful of reliable sources for good-tasting, easy-to-make, family-friendly, kitchen-tested recipes made from readily-available or on-hand ingredients. When it comes to baking fruit pies, tarts and galettes, with few exceptions, I never consider using pre-cooked, store-bought, canned pie filling (which is what...... View full recipe for "~ Sweet Treats: Sour-Cherry-Pie Cookie Squares ~"

07/09/2015

~ Seriously Simple Stovetop Sour Cherry Pie Filling ~

When it comes to baking fruit pies, tarts and galettes, with few exceptions, I never consider using pre-cooked pie filling, the kind made-from-scratch, in advance, on the stovetop. Lots of people do, and, I'm not here to criticize. If the end justifies the means, there is nothing wrong with pre-cooked. In fact, it's a commonly used, kid-tested, mother-approved method. There's more. Even when I'm faced with an over-abundance of fruit, depending on the fruit, whenever it's applicable, I choose freezing the fruit or cooked fruit concoction over the more laborious option: water-bath canning and preserving (which was a necessary way...... View full recipe for "~ Seriously Simple Stovetop Sour Cherry Pie Filling ~"