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Monday, May 9, 2011


It is no secret that in my family, we are passionate about custard, especially my dad. My parents live about an hour away from Amish country and they make a custard pie that has my dad, who is a total healthy eater, throwing away his strict discipline regarding treats. My sister has also been known, while driving the long drive to visit my parents, to go out of her way to stop there and pick up several pies. Between her and my dad, the pies quickly disappear. And there might or might not be some good hearted accusations about where all the pie went when they are gone.

This is actually one of the very first recipes I ever attempted to make. You might think that is weird but realize that I did not even make anything by myself until I was well into adulthood. I would even cajole my college roommates into making boxed dinners for me. I was pathetic. But when I was ready to make my first real dessert, this was a natural thing for me to gravitate toward. As is my mantra for this blog, it is delicious and easy!
A quick note: the original recipe calls for grated lemon peel and I didn't have any when I first made it and so I just used a few splashes of lemon juice instead. Later on, I tried the lemon peel and found it to be way too lemony. If you want a more vanilla type custard, just add the lemon juice, if you want it to be lemon custard, use the lemon peel.

slightly adapted from Taste of Homes

1/2 c sugar
2 tbsp flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 c half and half
a few squirts of lemon juice (or 1 tsp grated lemon peel)
3 eggs yolks, lightly beaten
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp vanilla extract

In a saucepan, combine sugar, flour, and salt. Gradually add cream and lemon juice until blended. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Remove from the heat. Stir a small amount of hot mixture into egg yolks. Return all to pan; bring to a gentle boil, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat, stir in butter and vanilla.

Pour into parfait glasses (or whatever glass you have will work, it tastes the same no matter what you put it in). Cool. I always add fresh berries and whipped cream to make it extra special.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Pistachio Cake

Growing up, the ice cream joint we would frequent was good ol' Baskin and Robbins. I would inevitably get that bubble gum ice cream that had the actual gum pieces mixed in. I would sit there and eat the ice cream but spit out the gum onto a napkin so when I was done with the ice cream, I could eat all of the gum at once. I know, I was weird.
My dad, however, would get their pistachio almond ice cream. He finally convinced me to try it. And right then I decided that as much as I loved that pink bubblegum ice cream, I would give it up for that yummy pistachio. And then when Florida got Blue Bell ice cream and they had a pistachio almond flavor that became a staple in my freezer, I renewed my love affair with pistachios once again.
So even though I love pistachio ice cream and eating just plain pistachios, I have never really attempted to make anything else with that as the main flavor. I have seen plenty of recipes I wanted to try but haven't yet. So when I saw this and I had everything needed, I finally took life by the reins(or is it horns?) and just made it right then!
It is really yummy. I found it on Pioneer Woman. I do agree with her that it isn't a really strong pistachio flavor but when you add a glaze and chopped pistachios, it really rounds it out nicely. My oldest daughter is obviously following in her mother's footsteps. After I finally convinced her to try a piece, she ate like half the cake in 2 days. I am totally serious. Oh, does that say something bad about my parenting skills??? Oops.

Pistachio Cake


Box of white cake mix
1 package (4 oz) Pistachio Instant Pudding Mix
1/2 c Orange Juice
1/2 c water
1/2 c vegetable oil
4 eggs
3/4 c chocolate syrup (like Hershey's)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour bundt pan.

Mix all ingredients but chocolate syrup and beat for two minutes on medium-high. Pour 3/4 of the batter into the bundt pan.

Add chocolate syrup to the remaining batter and mix well. Pour chocolate-laced batter on top of the pistachio batter.

Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Note: You can use a knife to swirl chocolate batter into the pistachio batter for more of a marbled design.

She recommended a chocolate ganache but I made a vanilla glaze instead. I am sure it would be great with either!!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Banana Cream Pie

Let me begin this post with a coming of age story about a young girl and a pie. I was 8 years old. My family had invited like 4 big families over to share in our Easter dinner with our family of 7. There was ham, a plethora of side dishes and rolls. Oh, and tons and tons of pies. In my memory, there was a table just filled with pies. A kids dream come true, especially since there were like 100 kids running around and the adults are otherwise occupied conversing one with another.

I meandered over to the pies. There were several banana cream which has long been a favorite of mine. I took a huge piece and ate it. I went back and got another huge piece and ate it. I went back and got another huge piece and ate it. This went on and on until the pie was almost completely gone, just a few crumbs and some filling that had fallen out. I then went on my way. Later that night I paid for my pigginess (Spell check confirms pigginess is indeed not a word but a totally appropriate made up one for this story).

Interestingly enough, that horrible night of throwing up banana cream pie did not have any lasting effect on my love for it. So when I saw this recipe and the description was that things don't have to be totally homemade to be good, I knew it was going to be a keeper. And it really, really is. I have made this pie over and over again. It is easy and so so good!!

Just a quick note here. The original recipe actually makes two pies. However, I am a pig (see above story) and just make one pie. I buy the big graham cracker pre-made crust instead of the smaller one. I follow all the same directions except that I put about 2/3rds of the pudding mixture into my crust and then eat the other 1/3rd while I am standing there in the kitchen. Also, I have only ever tried the vanilla version but I am sure the chocolate one is good as well.

Banana Cream Pie
adapted slightly from Our Best Bites

1 4-serving size box of instant chocolate or vanilla pudding
1 c. cold water
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 cookie crusts. You can use anything--graham crackers, Nilla Wafers, shortbread, even Oreo.
Lots of bananas
1 pint whipping cream
1/3 c. powdered sugar
In a medium bowl, combine pudding mix, cold water, and sweetened condensed milk. Mix well and place in the refrigerator to chill for a few minutes.
Slice the bananas and layer them on the bottom of the crust, just until entire bottom is covered, although I do stack a few but just be careful. If you stack too many bananas, the crust doesn't get as moist. Set aside.

In another bowl, whip 1 c. of whipping cream until soft peaks form.
Remove pudding from the fridge and gently dollop the whipped cream on top of the pudding. Gently fold the whipped cream into the pudding mixture until well-combined. Place most of the pudding mixture on top of bananas. It doesn't all fit and it is fun to have some left to eat with cookies!
Be sure and save the plastic domes that come with the pie crusts, you will use them to cover the pie while it refrigerates.

Using mixer, whip remaining whipping cream and 1/3 c. of powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Spread over pie. Place the clear plastic shells back on the pies and allow to chill for several hours. This is actually really important, the banana flavor has to have time to seep into the pudding and the crust to get softened.
Go ahead and dig in. But maybe not eat a whole pie all in one sitting. Then again, maybe I could do it without throwing up this time. Something to think about.....

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Cranberry Dip

I am really not a lover of cranberries. At Thanksgiving, it is a dish, whatever form it takes, that I pass over. However, this year for Thanksgiving, we went to my sister in law's house and she had out this dip. I decided to be adventurous and try some. It was so good I couldn't stop eating it, even though I knew that we would be eating the main meal soon. And even though I was so stuffed after dinner, as we were leaving, I ran over and took a few bites more.
New Year's Day was spent over at my parents with my sister and her family. We decided to do a huge spread so we could just snack and watch football all day long. I knew this dip had to be included. Some of us loved it, some of us, well, didn't. It definitely combines different flavors than usual, but I just love it.

Cranberry Dip
Source: Rebecca Mebius

12 oz. fresh cranberries
1 jalapeno pepper
4 green onions(I forgot these so they are not pictured)
1 bunch cilantro
juice of 1 lime
1/2 c sugar
3/4 tsp cumin
1/2 c sour cream
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
Pita chips

Using food processor, chop cranberries, pepper, onions, and cilantro.
Add lime juice, sugar, and cumin to the mixture and stir together.
Using hand mixer, combine sour cream and cream cheese. You can just mix by hand if preferred. Spread cream mixture into a glass dish, whatever size you want. Pour salsa mixture over top. Garnish with cilantro if desired.

You can serve with anything you want but pita chips are so good!