Monday, June 20, 2011

Pineapple Pie

My dad's favorite pie is Pineapple Pie. I found this recipe on allrecipes and it looked perfect for Father's Day. It was super easy to prepare, especially since I used store bought crusts, and it tasted delicious. I used the type of crust that comes in a pan for the bottom crust and the kind that come in the refrigerated section for the top crust. Sprinkling sugar on the top crust gives it a nice color.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Putting leftover phyllo to good use

I have plenty of leftover phyllo from our gathering on Sunday, and Carol suggested I make a dessert with phyllo and bananas. She forwarded me a recipe from Molly, the Dining Diva, and I gave it a try tonight (despite a serious case of 7-month pregnancy cankles).

Here is Molly's original recipe, but I think you can get away with any number of substitutions (see mine below):

Banana Phyllo Rolls (Molly's recipe)
Serves 6

15 Sheets Chocolate Phyllo (You can use the regular flavor)

1/2 cup butter

3 ripe bananas

3/4 cup grated white chocolate

3/4 cup toasted and ground macadamia nuts (chopped)

Prepare medium rolls using 5 layers of phyllo. Cut layered phyllo in half lengthwise. Cut ends from bananas and split them lengthwise. Place 1 banana half on each strip of layered phyllo. sprinkle 1 tablespoon each of chocolate and nuts over banana. Roll phyllo dough around banana.Brush with butter and place seam side down on cookie sheet. Bake banana in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with caramel cream sauce.

Caramel cream sauce:

1/2 cup brown sugar

4 egg yolks

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup melted semisweet chocolate

In top of a double boiler, over hot water, mix sugar and egg yolks. Heat until hot to touch,stirring frequently. remove from heat. Using electric mixer, whip at high speed until stiff and thick.In a small bowl. lightly whip heavy cream and fold into sugar mixture. Drizzle over phyllo rolls. Serve.

I just stuck with the general method of wrapping the bananas in phyllo. I placed half a banana on the phyllo, added some brown sugar cooked in butter, and sprinkled with some cinnamon and chopped pecans. After baking, I drizzled with some of my chocolate raspberry jam (heated), and added a scoop of Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla, just for good measure. I still have some phyllo left, so I plan to try more substitutions.

June 12, 2011

We met at Tonya's house and all were in attendance except for Janet. Also, we were joined by guests Lauren and her mom, Lisa.

The menu:

Appetizer - Tomato Tart, Angie
Salad - Watermelon Salad, Lauren
Side - Couscous Salad, Mary
Bread - Assorted, Carol
Main Dish - Spinach and Chicken Phyllo Cups, Tonya
Dessert - Lemon Cake and Cookie Cups, Carol

Tonya set a beautiful table with jars of homemade jams and jellies at each setting. I left with a jar of the famous mayhaw jelly. Yum!

I made the tomato tart using fresh tomatoes from my garden. The only change to the recipe was I placed fresh basil leaves, also from my garden, under the tomatoes. I think it would be tasty, as well as pretty, to put some fresh basil on the top too, after baking. The recipe was very easy and I served it at room temperature.

Lauren, a friend of Tonya's, made a delicious, refreshing watermelon salad. It was wonderful and very summery. Hopefully, Lauren will become the newest member of the Gourmet Gals! And Lisa is welcome any time too!

Watermelon Salad

4 cups cubed seedless watermelon
1/2 cup feta
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 pressed garlic cloves
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup olive oil

Mix together salad. Mix dressing and add as desired to each serving.

Mary made couscous salad and it was amazing! I have never tasted such a flavorful couscous before. The dates were the secret ingredient. I could also see using golden raisins or even dried cranberries.

Couscous Feta Salad

Chicken broth (use amount indicated on couscous package)
2 boxes of couscous with pine nuts
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
Add honey to cut the sharpness of the vinegar.
1 cucumber, seeded and chopped
1 (4 ounce) container crumbled feta cheese (used fat free feta)
6 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (shortcut is to use the couscous with pine nuts in it)
Dried dates. Adds a bit of sweetness and nice texture. I used about 1 heaping cup.


Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Remove from the heat, and stir in the couscous. Cover, and let stand for 10 minutes. Scrape the couscous into a mixing bowl, fluff with a fork, and refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.

Once the couscous is cold, make the dressing by whisking together the salt, black pepper, red wine vinegar, and Dijon mustard in a small bowl (add some honey to cut the vinegar a bit). Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while continuing to whisk until the oil has thickened the dressing. Fold the cucumber, feta cheese, green onions, parsley, and pine nuts (if needed) into the couscous. Pour the dressing over top, and stir until evenly moistened. Chill 30 minutes before serving.

For our main dish Tonya picked a Rachel Ray recipe for chicken and spinach in phyllo cups. The dish was put together quickly and tasted great. The phyllo cups make the presentation very fancy and would be great for a dinner party. If you had made the cups in mini muffin tins you could serve it as an appetizer.

Carol made two desserts. YUM. The cookie from the cookie fruit baskets was so crisp and sweet and the perfect way to enjoy ice cream and ripe berries.

Cookie Fruit Baskets

Yields 12 servings


1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup light corn syrup

3 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup ground pecans

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Vanilla Ice Cream (or and fresh berries


In a small saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Stir in brown sugar and corn syrup; cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat. Stir in flour. Fold in pecans and vanilla.

Drop by tablespoons 3 inches apart onto parchment paper lined baking sheets. Bake at 325 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool for 30-60 seconds; peel cookies off paper. Immediately drape over inverted custard cups; cool completely. Scoop ice cream into baskets; top with berries.

The second dessert, lemon cake with berry compote, berry paper and buttermilk thyme sherbet was light and refreshing.

Lemon Cake with Berry Compote, Berry Paper and Buttermilk Thyme Sherbet

Serves 8

Lemon Cake:

6 eggs, separated

1 3/4 cups sugar, divided

3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

In bowl, whip egg whites and half of the sugar to stiff peaks for meringue. In separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Gently fold into mixture.

Spritz 8 4-ounce ramekins with cooking spray and fill each to 2/3 full with mixture. Place ramekins in 9-inch by 13-inch pan. Add water about 1/3 way up to create a water bath. Bake at 300 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven.

(Carol did state that her batter made many more than 8. Twelve or 14, I think.)

Huckleberry Compote:

16 ounces Sauvignon Blanc

3/4 cups sugar

2 cups huckleberries (Carol used blackberries)

zest of 2 lemons

1 cinnamon stick

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

1 in fresh ginger, peeled and grated with microplane

Combine ingredients in large saucepan. Cook over medium heat until liquid reduces and thickens to sauce. Set aside to cool.

Huckleberry Coulis:

Puree half of the huckleberry compote. Strain through cheesecloth. Set aside.

Huckleberry Paper:

Heat oven to 200 degrees. Spread huckleberry coulis thinly on nonstick cookie sheet liner such as Silpate and dry in oven 45-60 minutes, testing frequently. Remove from oven and quickly pull off large pieces, forming them by hand into free-form cup shape with point at bottom. Set aside as garnish. (This is similar to fruit roll-ups.)

For Thyme Simple Syrup:

4 cups granulated sugar

1 quart water

1/2 bunch thyme

zest of 2 lemons

Combine ingredient in large saucepan over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Cool and strain through fine-mesh strainer.

Buttermilk Thyme Sherbet:

1 quart organic buttermilk

1 cup thyme simple syrup

pinch salt

Mix, then prepare in ice cream maker

To Serve:

Place lemon cake in center of each plate and dot plate with huckleberry compote, a few thyme leaves and bits of ginger. With large soup spoon, form sherbet into egg shape and place on top of cake. Garnish with molded huckleberry paper.

Below are pictures of future baby Vivian's nursery. It is decorated in lavenders, white and black. Very beautiful and chic! Except for the scary "peek-a-boo" bear!

Chocolate Chip and Banana Muffins

I found this recipe for Chocolate Chip and Banana Muffins in Food and Wine magazine. Teresa had gifted me with the magazine as part of her packing for her move to Florida.

Instead of muffins, I made loaves (two). Also, I did not have six bananas, but only three, so I added about two cups of shredded zucchini (one VERY large from a friend's garden or two to three normal size). You cannot taste the zucchini and it adds great moisture and of course, nutrition!

The mini chocolate chips are awesome and really dominate the flavor. I am thinking mini chocolate chips should be added to every dessert. HA!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Beef Stroganoff and a pie

My friend at work said she was going to make beef stroganoff in her slow cooker this weekend and it sounded so good that I had to make it also! I found this simple recipe for Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff and it is delicious! The only change I made was to add fresh mushrooms at the beginning. I made a bag of egg noodles (a little too many.. half a bag would have been enough) and mixed those in right before serving. I think next time I will just put it on top of the noodles rather than mixing together.

I also made a pie this weekend (that picture is, which used the other half of the cream cheese from the beef stroganoff. This Layered Lemon pie was pretty good but I do not think I will make it again. And if I did, I would use 1 package of lemon and 1 package of vanilla pudding as the lemon is too intense. The strawberry jam is a nice touch. My mom suggested that it be frozen and that would have been even more refreshing.