Aunt Marg's Strawberry Pie Revisited

Hope y’all are having a good summer so far. We are enjoying a new baby girl in our extended family but also having fun watching the older kids grow up and change. Last weekend, my oldest grandson celebrated his eighth birthday with a swimming party for his friends in the afternoon and another one an hour later just for the family. Unfortunately, he fell from some monkey bars a few weeks ago and broke his wrist. We were afraid he wouldn’t be able to swim, but the original cast, which could not get wet, was replaced just in time with one he could swim in, so it all worked out.

With summertime comes better and cheaper fruit, like strawberries. Have you been eating as many as I have? I recently had the occasion to revisit my strawberry pie recipe after I received a negative letter from a reader. These kind of letters always put a damper on my blogging spirit, but I was determined to see if her complaint was valid. I assembled the strawberry pie, to the letter, as it was originally published. Oh my! I was reminded just how delicious this pie really is–not too cloyingly sweet but sweet enough to enhance the berries. The texture of the gel is not so thick that it seems rubbery nor so thin that it is runny or watery.  I decided to republish the recipe unchanged because I love it the way it is, but I added some details about the process that might be helpful. The first picture posted above was taken 24 hours after the pie was made so you can see exactly what to expect. Of course, any kind of dessert made with fresh fruit is better eaten the day you make it, especially in regards to the crust which can quickly become soggy.

Speaking of the crust, I had forgotten how perfect this crust is for fresh strawberry pie, but I am adding a second method for putting it together using a food processor. I recently purchased a new Cuisinart food processor (not given to me by the company). It has some great new attachments I will be telling you about in the future, but for now, I think this is an easier method for making the crust. If you don’t have a food processor, the original method works fine although it’s a bit more labor-intensive.

Aunt Marg's Strawberry Pie

P.S. I looked up the original recipe as sent to me by my aunt and noticed for the first time that she adds a touch of almond extract to the glaze after it is cooked. I tried it and added it to the recipe you see printed here. Nice touch!

Aunt Marg's Fresh Strawberry Pie Revisited
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8 servings
 
A not-too-sweet fresh strawberry pie formulated for maximum enjoyment of fresh strawberries. Easy pat-in-the-pan crust takes it over the top.
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds fresh strawberries, cleaned and de-stemmed
Strawberry Glaze
  • ½ cup + 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons powdered strawberry Jello (do not sub diet Jello)
  • ¾ cup corn syrup
  • Few drops of red food coloring, if desired
  • ⅛ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
  • Pre-baked 9-inch pie crust
Pat-in-the-Pan Pie Crust
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ cup frozen butter, grated (This process is much easier if you start with a whole stick so you have something to hang on to.)
  • 1 tablespoon cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons cold milk
Instructions
Glaze
  1. Combine water, cornstarch, Jello and corn syrup in that order. Stir or whisk until dissolved. Cook until mixture boils and thickens to the consistency of maple syrup.
  2. Cook the filling in a microwave using a 2 qt-glass batter bowl. Takes 4-7 minutes on High, stirring once or twice.
  3. Add food coloring and flavorings if using. Set aside to cool.
  4. Arrange 2 quarts cleaned and dried strawberries in pretty pattern in pre-baked and cooled pie crust. If fruit is very large, cut in halves or quarters. I try to buy smaller berries so I don't have to cut them. They seem to last longer. Pour glaze over strawberries, taking care to cover every berry.
  5. Alternately, pour glaze over strawberries in large bowl. Gently mix. Pour strawberries/glaze mixture into pie crust. Although not as pretty as arranging individual strawberries, I like the way the gel holds the berries together better.
  6. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Best eaten the day it's made. Serve with whipped cream.
PIE CRUST--Original Instructions
  1. Whisk together first four ingredients in medium bowl.
  2. Add grated frozen butter and cream cheese to dry ingredients and combine with your fingers. Texture should be coarse with pieces of varying sizes like oatmeal and fine bread crumbs combined.
  3. Mix vegetable oil and cold milk. Pour into flour and butter mixture all at once. Use fork to mix until all flour/butter particles have been kissed by moisture. Mixture should should have a "shaggy" appearance.
  4. Dump into a clean pie plate and pat out crust with your fingers as smooth as possible taking care to evenly cover pie plate and sides. It probably won't be perfect but as long as you have no holes and no terribly thick places, it will be fine. Place crust in the freezer while you preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  5. Place rolled and twisted parchment paper on top of pie crust (see picture on this post) or use beans or rice to weigh down the crust. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove weights or paper and continue to bake another 8-10 minutes until golden brown. Watch closely in last 2-3 minutes. It can go from gloriously golden to badly browned faster than you can answer the doorbell. Set aside to cool. Assemble pie according to directions in step 4 in the Glaze directions.
PIE CRUST--Method 2 (in a food processor)
  1. Add flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder to food processor bowl and pulse several times to mix thoroughly.
  2. Add frozen or very cold butter (cut into 6-8 pieces) and cream cheese to the dry ingredients. Pulse until mixture looks similar to raw oatmeal flakes.
  3. Combine oil and milk and pour over ingredients already in the bowl. Pulse just until mixture looks shaggy. Mixture should stick together if you press on it with your fingers. If too dry, add a little bit more milk and pulse 2-3 times.
  4. Remove blade from bowl. Dump dough mixture into a clean pie plate and pat out crust with your fingers as smooth as possible taking care to evenly cover your entire pie plate. It probably won't be perfect but as long as you have no holes and no terribly thick places, it will be fine. Place crust in the freezer while you preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  5. Using non-stick aluminum foil to cover raw crust. Place flat piece of foil over the top with non-stick side next to the crust. Use your hands to press foil down into contact with the crust. No need to place weights on top.
  6. Bake 12 minutes, then remove foil and continue to bake another 8-10 minutes until golden brown. Watch closely in last 2-3 minutes. It can go from gloriously golden to badly browned faster than you can answer the doorbell. Set aside to cool. Assemble pie according to directions in step 4 in the Glaze directions.

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Steakhouse Orange Rolls
This post is dedicated to my Alabama sister and all lovers of anything flavored with oranges.

My sister has been talking about these famous orange rolls for years and encouraging me to come up with a recipe so she can make them herself at home. Since I had never been to the restaurant that serves these rolls, I could only go by her description.

Words proved to be a poor substitute for actual taste-testing. I devised these Iced Orange Yeast Rolls a few years ago, but I was way off despite how scrumptious they are on their own credentials.

A few years ago, my sister actually transported the famous rolls to my house, but they didn’t fare so well after a 12-hour car trip. During my annual visit last year, she finally took me by the restaurant. Since it wasn’t dinner time, we asked for a half dozen rolls to go. Now I understood what she had tried to describe to me for so long. The rolls were still hot when we got them and a little bit doughy, but I observed they were extremely orangey both in color and taste. The sweet stuff on top was a glaze, not an icing like you might put on traditional cinnamon rolls. I took notes in my mind and tried to remember the taste. Have you ever tried to remember exactly how something tastes? Kinda difficult actually, especially after some time has passed.

Steakhouse Orange Rolls

Fast forward to a few weeks ago.  I was inspired by a food magazine that recently printed a recipe for the famous rolls. The first step was to figure out how to use my bread machine to mix and knead it. No problem. (If you would like to know how to convert most any regular bread recipe to use in your bread machine, see this post.) However, I was not happy with the final product because the orange flavor wasn’t nearly as prominent as the real thing. I fixed that by using frozen orange juice concentrate in place of fresh orange juice and increasing the amount of orange peel used in the filling. Be careful not to pick up any of the white under the peel which can cause bitterness.

I make no claims that this is the authentic recipe. It most definitely IS NOT. However, these rolls are mighty tasty and so fabulous that I am tempted to eat half the pan. Therefore, I’m declaring this experiment over. This will be a special-occasion-recipe–perfect for Mother’s Day next Sunday.

Steakhouse Orange Rolls

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers in my family and to all the mothers who read this blog. I truly appreciate you and feel honored that you take the time to stop by.  paula
Steakhouse Orange Rolls-4

Steakhouse Orange Rolls From a Bread Machine
 
Author:
Recipe type: Sweet Yeast Bread
 
Distinctly orange-flavored sweet yeast rolls similar to those served at one of my sister's favorite steakhouses in Alabama.....mixed and kneaded in a bread machine
Ingredients
Dough
  • ¼ cup heavy cream (warmed in the microwave about 30 seconds)
  • ½ cup frozen orange juice concentrate (thawed to room temperature)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg plus 1 yolk
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons bread machine or instant yeast
Filling
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grated orange zest (from two medium oranges)
Glaze
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Add ingredients to a bread machine pan in order given. Leave lid open. Choose dough cycle and start. Observe dough after about 10 minutes. If dough does not stick to side of pan and then pull away because it is too dry, add a tablespoon of water. If dough is too wet, add flour a tablespoon at a time until dough sticks and then pulls away. Continue to add water or flour until dough looks just right according to this picture. Close lid and allow dough cycle to complete.
  2. When dough cycle finishes, check to make sure dough has doubled in size. If not, allow dough to continue to rise in the pan until it is double the original volume. Then remove dough from the bread machine pan by dumping it onto a floured surface. Roll into a rectangle measuring approximately 12 x 17 inches. Spread softened butter over rolled-out dough until dough is completely covered. (See picture above.) Sprinkle sugar-orange zest mixture evenly over butter.
  3. Begin rolling dough from the long side. Roll as tightly as you can. Cut long roll in quarters. Cut each quarter into 5 evenly-sized rolls. Place inside buttered 9 x 13 inch pan, cover with a tea towel, and allow to rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes before baking.
  4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake rolls for 25-30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 190 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Prepare glaze while rolls bake. Combine all ingredients into a small saucepan and heat over medium temperature under mixture turns syrupy and coats the back of a spoon. Set aside to cool.
  6. Pour glaze over hot rolls as soon as they have been removed from the oven.

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Spicy Ham and Mushrooms

My husband and I are in a celebratory mood!

I’m thrilled to announce the birth of our fifth grandchild (third granddaughter) just last week. God is good. New babies are such a miracle and always point me straight back to the Creator.

I’m also excited to commemorate Easter this Sunday. Billy and I are both doing the study of John in Bible Study Fellowship, and this week we are examining the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Perfect timing!

Speaking of Easter, we are hosting Easter dinner at our house. The whole family will be here  along with some long-time church friends who also happen to be the in-laws of my youngest son. We share the aforementioned grandbaby.

Although I don’t plan to serve ham this Easter, I know many of you do. (My menu will probably include these Beefy Sausage-Filled Pinwheels.) Whenever ham is on the menu, we seem to have plenty of leftovers. This recipe is a perfect way to recycle some of that ham. It’s simple and quick to pull together. I like to serve it over mashed cauliflower but it would be delicious served over grits, mashed potatoes, rice, or pasta. Don’t hesitate to play with the seasoning to suit your taste. You could also sub canned mushrooms for fresh if you are looking to pull dinner out of your pantry.

Spicy Ham and Mushrooms
 
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 4 servings
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
A great way to use leftover ham to make a new and delicious meal
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 scallions, coarsely chopped
  • 8 ounce package white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1-1/2 cup coarsely chopped ham
  • 1-1/2 cup marinara or spaghetti sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning (I like Tony Chacheres)
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in medium skillet. Add scallions and mushrooms and saute until soft, approximately 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add ham and marinara along with seasoning. Simmer until sauce is thickened to your preference. For me, that's about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Serve over mashed cauliflower, mashed potatoes, pasta, grits, or rice.

Tip of the Day:  If you don’t have time or like a fresher taste, strain your marinara instead of cooking it down on the stove. Pour sauce into a coffee filter-lined colander and let it sit on the counter until it is the thickness you prefer. It doesn’t take long.

Just for fun and because I know some of these old posts may be new to some of you, I’m including some other ideas for leftover ham and other Easter-related foods.

Ham Salad Sandwiches
Ham Salad Sandwich Spread with a Basil TwistPost-Easter Ham and Veggie Fried Rice
Post-Easter Ham and Veggie Fried RiceDeviled Eggs the Whole Family Will Eat
Sweet and Sour Deviled EggsChallah from the Bread Machine
Challah from Your Bread MachineSlow Cooker Pulled Ham
Slow Cooker Pulled Ham and Honey Mustard Barbecue Sauce

 

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Favorite Low-Carb Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’m not sure I should share this recipe. Many will say it has too many calories. Many more will complain it’s not sweet enough to deserve the name “cookie.” Others may think it has too much fat. Consider yourself warned. These aren’t the gigantic-chewy-and-crispy-on-the outside-soft-on-the-inside chocolate chip cookies you might see at a New York City bakery.

But for me, it’s the perfect treat as I battle my sugar monster. It’s a dessert that doesn’t spike my blood sugar, yet one cake-like cookie satisfies my craving for something sweet after lunch.

The only sweetness comes from the “natural” applesauce, the 85% chocolate bar, and the inherent sweetness of almond flour.

Thanks to Gourmet Girl Cooks for introducing me to these cookies. I have significantly revised her recipe, but hers are very good, too, and taste much sweeter due to the use of artificial sweetener. If you are a sugar-holic who wants to cut back, I recommend you start with 1/2 cup of sweetener such as granulated Swerve and gradually decrease the amount.

I store these cookies in the freezer. My husband prefers to eat them frozen, but I like to microwave them just until the chocolate gets soft–30 seconds or less. Tastes fantastic when enjoyed alongside a latte made with half Hazelnut Decaf coffee and half cashew milk.

Grain-Free, Reduced-Carb Chocolate Chip Cookies
 
Author:
Recipe type: Cookies
Serves: 16 cookies
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Chocolate chip cookies made with almond flour. unsweetened applesauce, and 85% chocolate make a not-so-sweet treat that won't cause your sugar monster to go out of control.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups extra fine grind almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup unflavored Greek yogurt (should be extra thick)
  • ½ cup unflavored, unsweetened applesauce
  • Sweetener of your choice, (optional--see notes)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup chopped pecans, toasted
  • ¾ cup 85% chocolate bar, roughly chopped (I like The Dark Chocolate Lover's Chocolate Bar from Trader Joe's)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a cookie sheet by covering with parchment paper, a non-stick baking mat, or lightly grease.
  2. Stir together almond flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. In separate bowl, combine butter, Greek yogurt, egg, and vanilla extract. Add to dry ingredients and stir until blended.
  4. Fold in toasted pecans and chopped chocolate. If dough seems a little soft, chill it in the freezer for 30 minutes or the refrigerator for an hour to make the cookies hold their shape better. You don't want them to spread much.
  5. Drop dough with two spoons or a spring-loaded ice cream dipper onto prepared cookie sheet. Dip fingers in water and slightly press down on each ball to make a flat, round shape. Don't press too hard--you don't want to flatten the cookies.
  6. Bake for 16-20 minutes or until the cookies are nicely browned all over.
  7. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before removing from cookie sheet because cookies are crumbly when warm. When cool, they will hold together and have the texture of little cakes.
Notes
I have weaned myself from needing any added sweetener in this recipe. The applesauce, chocolate and the inherent sweetness of almond flour are enough. If you need more sweetness, ½ cup of Swerve is a good place to start. If you prefer another kind of sweetener, you may need to experiment with the amount.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Calories: 181 Fat: 16 g Saturated fat: 4.4 g Unsaturated fat: 9.9 g Trans fat: 0 g Carbohydrates: 7 g Sugar: 2 g Sodium: 93 mg Fiber: 2 g Protein: 5 g Cholesterol: 21 g

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Low-Carb Scooter's Spaghetti-14Scooter’s Spaghetti appears to be one of the rockstars of this blog. Please forgive me for bragging that it has had over 450,000 pins according to Pinterest. Just when I was feeling kinda proud about that statistic, my 7 yr. old grandson tells me this past week that he likes spaghetti and meat sauce but he doesn’t care for Scooter’s Spaghetti because of the “white cream stuff in it.” Way to slam the oven door on my souffle! I’m convinced that God uses children to gently keep us humble.

As you can imagine, especially if you are a food blogger yourself, I’ve had a lot of comments and questions over the years about what to substitute for this or that ingredient people don’t care for. One of the most popular substitutions in this recipe is zucchini noodles, sometimes called zoodles, for the spaghetti. Reports back were positive so I couldn’t wait to try it.

My first attempts were disappointing. The noodles were watery. Solution? Two things. The first was to remove as much water as possible from the zoodles themselves. In a nutshell, I cut the noodles in advance. (By the way, I cut up the little cylinders you end up with after making zoodles and add them to the mix, also.) Salt well and roll them in a large fluffy towel lined with paper towels. Let sit for 20-30 minutes. Then I put the rolled-up-in-a-towel noodles on a tile floor and step on them to squeeze out as much water as possible. Think Lucy and Ethel stomping on grapes. The towel should be pretty well soaked. Unroll and use the zoodles as is. No need to pre-cook. Don’t worry, this can be done ahead of time.

Squeezed out zoodles2

The second thing that cuts the watery-ness is ensuring your sauce is very thick. You could cook it down for 30 minutes or so, but I think it’s faster to strain it. I use an industrial size coffee filter inside a cheap colander. This is the first thing I do when I start to make this recipe so it will be thick by the time I get ready to assemble the casserole.

Assembling Low-Carb Scooter's Spaghetti

Let’s talk about the French-fried onion rings that go on top. Between the cream cheese layer and the onion rings, they are what make this recipe memorable. There are only 3 carbs in 2 tablespoons of the onion rings so I use them. Without them, this dish just isn’t the same. However, if you are needing a gluten-free entree, you could easily substitute pan-fried shallots for the onion rings. (See picture below). You will need at least 4-5 shallots for this recipe. I tried doing the same thing with regular onions, but they wouldn’t get crispy like the shallots did.

Low-Carb Scooter's Spaghetti-11

Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Added-Sugar-Free but Super-Flavorful Scooter’s Spaghetti

Low-Carb Scooter's Spaghetti-13

My favorite marinara for this spaghetti is the Victoria White Linen brand which I buy at Costco. It claims only 6 grams of carbs for a 1/2 cup serving, and sugar is not found on the ingredient list. The label also claims no water has been added–a good thing whenever you are cooking with lots of vegetables.

Scooter's Spaghetti with Zucchini Noodles
 
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 10 servings
 
Popular spaghetti casserole gets a remake with zoodles instead of traditional spaghetti
Ingredients
  • 40 ounce jar marinara
  • 6 zucchini
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ¼ cup chopped red bell peppers
  • ¼ cup chopped green bell peppers
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 2.8 ounce can French-fried onions
Instructions
  1. Pour marinara into coffee filter or paper towel-lined colander to strain off excess liquid.
  2. Spiralize 6 zucchini. Spiralizers vary but I use the larger spaghetti noodle shape. The most narrow noodle on my machine also works well. Salt heavily (approximately 1 tablespoon of salt). Wrap salted noodles in paper towels, then in a large bath towel. Set aside for 20-30 minutes minimum. Apply pressure on top of rolled-up towel to squeeze out as much moisture as you can.
  3. Brown ground beef. Drain excess grease. Add onions and fry until softened. Add drained marinara to beef and onions. If still watery, cook until sauce is very thick. Set aside.
  4. Add butter and bell peppers to a microwave-safe glass bowl. Cover. Cook on HIGH for 2-3 minutes until peppers are softened. Add cream cheese to bowl and microwave for another minute or until cheese is soft enough to combine with veggies.
Assembly:
  1. Cover the bottom of a 9 x 13 -inch casserole dish or pan with approximately ½ cup of meat sauce. Layer zoodles on top. Spread cream cheese mixture over zucchini. Carefully pour meat sauce over cream cheese layer. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Can be made ahead of time up to this point and refrigerated.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until hot throughout. Add more time if dish has been in the refrigerator. 5 minutes before completion, sprinkle french-fried onions over the top of casserole and put back into the oven to brown. Watch closely as the onions will burn easily.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/10 Calories: 312 Fat: 21.1 g Saturated fat: 10.2 g Unsaturated fat: 1.2 g Carbohydrates: 16.8 g Sugar: 7.4 Sodium: 591 mg Fiber: 2.7 g Protein: 13.5 g Cholesterol: 46 mg

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