Shiny Cookie Icing

Shiny Cookie Icing

Dana and I love making and decorating cookies!  Needless to say, Dana is way better at decorating the cookies than I am.  This does not prevent me from trying.  Our son has been begging us to make some fancy cookies.  So we have been testing different recipes.  We tried royal icing.  It was great tasting and easy to work with.  However, it dried dull and not shiny.  Our next step was to try making our own recipe.  We dabbled with different ratios and finally figured out exactly what we wanted.  We used corn syrup for the perfect shine.  We then added vanilla for flavor.  Finally after a few tries we nailed down the perfect amount of water to make it sturdy enough to outline, yet loose enough to flow and fill.  This recipe gives you shiny and glossy cookies.

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Banana Pudding

Banana Pudding

There is no dessert out there, that screams bbq, better than banana pudding. If you go to any hardcore bbq joint in the south they will have a banana pudding. It is a great dessert that is cool, refreshing and balances out the smoke of the main dish. So I decided that I had to have an awesome banana pudding in my repertoire. This banana pudding is amazing and I hope that you get a chance to make it for yourself.

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Royal Icing

Royal Icing

I love Christmas Cookies.  They are delicious and fun to eat.  My favorite cookie is the humble sugar cookie.  However, you can turn that humble cookie into an extraordinary cookie by using royal icing.  This simple icing uses meringue powder as a base to form a strong and delicate icing that can hold together a gingerbread house or add whiskers to a Santa cookie.  I love it!

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Glazed Apple Pie

Glazed Apple Pie

My wife used to enjoy glazed apple pie when she lived in New York.  The other week when her family was down here visiting, I decided to try my hand at making it. The apple pie is a mixture of a classic American Pie, a Dutch Apple Pie and a French Apple Pie.  The first step in creating this pie was to choose the right apple.  Since this pie has a sweet glaze over the top, I choose a tart apple (Granny Smith).  That way the tartness was balanced with the sweet glaze.  I also used my super simple Food Processor Pie Crust.  This pie crust is quick, easy, flaky and delicious!

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Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie

Dana has been craving pumpkin pie for a couple weeks now.  I decided that I should break down and make her one.  I wanted to try something different so I found a recipe from Paula Deen that uses cream cheese instead of evaporated milk. I made it and wow! It was awesome. Paula knows what is up.  The flavor is a little more delicate than the original but it tasted amazing.

Pumpkin Pie – (From Paula Deen)

  • 1 (8oz) Package Cream Cheese, room temperature
  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 1 egg, plus two yolks
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 pie dough, if you buy pre-made use a deep dish pie crust

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Prick the pie dough on the bottom and sides with a fork.

Dock the dough

Then place in the oven to blind bake for 10-15 minutes.  Bake until the pie dough starts to brown.  Remove the crust and let it cool.

Blind bake the crust

Turn the oven down to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer add the softened cream cheese.  Beat with a hand mixer or stand mixer until light and fluffy.

Mix the cream cheese

Add the pumpkin and beat until combined.

Add the pumpkin

Add the sugar and salt, beat again.  Then add the eggs, half-and-half, melted butter and beat again till combined.  Finally add the vanilla, cinnamon and ginger.  Beat one more time until all of the ingredients are fully incorporated.

The filling

Pour the filling into the prepared pie crust.  If you use a shallow dish you may have a little left over. It may not all fit.

Fill the pie shell

Bake the pie in a 350 degree oven for 50-55 minutes, or until the center is set.

Bake till set

Remove the pie from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Slice and enjoy

When cooled, cut into slices and serve.

Pumpkin Pie

This pie was amazing!

Pumpkin Pie

The only condiment needed was a little whipped cream.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

I love vanilla ice cream.  So one of the first things I did when getting my ice cream machine was to make vanilla ice cream.  I used extract and it was not the best.  So bad, that I never posted about it.  However a couple of weeks ago I got my hands on some Madagascar vanilla beans.  They are not the cheapest ingredient around, but they pack a ton of flavor.  Further once you use them for the ice cream you can use the pods to flavor sugar or other ingredients.

This recipe takes a while to make, however it is worth every second.  The ice cream is rich and creamy and totally delicious.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream – Adapted from David Lebovitz

  • 1 cup (250ml) whole milk
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup (150g) sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 cups (500ml) heavy cream
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a medium sauce pan, heat the milk, salt, and sugar. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk with a paring knife, then add the bean pod to the milk. Cover, remove from heat, and infuse for one hour.

Let the mixture get infused with the vanilla flavor

In another medium bowl, stir together the egg yolks.  Then temper the eggs with the milk mixture.  To do this, gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Then place the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.  I checked this temperature-wise and figured out it was around 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cook to 170

Once thickened, strain the mixture into a chilled bowl.  To do this, set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour the cream into the bowl. Stir over the ice until cool, add the vanilla extract, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. Preferably overnight.

Once chilled, remove the vanilla bean and freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  For mine it is a quick spin in the machine for about 25-30 minutes.

Quick Spin

You can eat it in a soft served consistency right from the ice cream maker or freeze it in a covered container and get a harder consistency.

Scoop into a covered container to freeze

Overall this ice cream is rich, creamy and full of vanilla flavor.  Vanilla beans are the only way to go when making ice cream.

My Favorite Part

You thought licking the frosting bowl was fun.  Scooping out the remainder from the ice cream tub is the best.

Cinnamon Sugar French Toast

Cinnamon Sugar French Toast

The other day I was strolling through the local Super Market when  I came across an amazing loaf of Challah bread.  I knew I had to make something with it.  So I decided to make my favorite French Toast for dinner.  Who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner.  Plus, a little brown sugar and Cinnamon to round off my French Toast.  The perfect complement for a savory sweet breakfast for dinner treat.

Cinnamon Sugar French Toast

Top with a little powdered sugar and this breakfast treat is going prime time.

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Awesome Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have been on a quest for the best chocolate chip cookies for a while.  After a while I have figured out the ingredients needed to make a really good cookie.  You need to use both butter and shortening.  If you use all butter your cookies come out flat and crunchy.  If you use all shortening your cookies come out fluffly but don’t spread out.  A perfect balance of the two gives you a light and fluffy cookie that is not too thick and not too thin.

Light fluffy with a little crisp on the edges.  The perfect cookie.
Light fluffy with a little crisp on the edges. The perfect cookie.

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