Thursday, November 03, 2016

Buttery Pie Crust

Pie crust 101. Get a cold stick of butter, cut it into sixteen pieces. Put some ice cubes into a measuring cup with water to get it cold. Measure 1 and 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Remove ice cubes (and excess water) to measure to 1/4 cup ice cold water. Add butter, flour, and salt into food processor and pulse until it is all mixed into fine, crumbled, and loose pieces. Slowly pour the cold water in until it turns into a big ball. Take it all out and put into a gallon sized zippered plastic bag. Refrigerate for an hour or two. (to be continued...)

Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut cream pie, one of Kelly's and my favorites! Here's how I make the filling.
•5 tablespoons corn starch
•1 cup sugar
•1/4 teaspoon salt
•2-1/2 cups milk
•3/4 cup heavy cream
•3 egg yolks
•2 tablespoons butter
•2 teaspoons vanilla
•1/2 cup coconut
Mix cornstarch, sugar, salt, milk, cream in pan and cook on medium heat, stirring constantly until smooth and thick. Pour small amount of egg mixture into egg yolks, blend thoroughly, then pour back into pan. Cook additional 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into cooked pie crust. (My preference is to use a tart pan with the bottom circle that lifts out, rather than a traditional pie pan or plate.)  Chill 3-4 hours. Whip one cup heavy cream, add sugar as it starts to thicken, then spread whipped cream over top. Calories: 458 per 1/8 slice.   

Monday, September 08, 2014

BYU football weekend

Hello blog world! It's been a while. So tonight's occasion to check in is rather lame, considering I neglected to cover events such as my daughter returning home from her mission in Hong Kong and Macau in April, or my toddler turning two in March, or my other daughter starting middle school recently, etc. Football season apparently gets me off the couch with updating the blog. So, here we go! 
We first got asked by Kelly's cousin, Tim, a month or so ago, if he could stay here with us during the BYU game when they come to Austin. Then in the past few days, several other out of town friends texted me to say they will be out for the big game. I've been so anxious for the Cougars to come to town that I did what I always do when an upcoming event is approaching, I started planning a party menu. I whipped up all manner of BYU blue treats, and built up the anticipation for the big weekend. 

Our social worker who flew to Taiwan when we did our home study to adopt Hannah, was one of our guests, and he brought a friend along too. A couple of Lindsey's friends arrived for the weekend as well and it was a blast celebrating with everyone. I whipped up some pulled pork sandwiches topped with crispy coleslaw for us to eat before the game, and we went swimming in the pool after lunch. 
Notice the BYU plate? Those are my new addition to my entertaining stash that I bought this summer, along with a bunch of red ones too, that I used for our ward Pioneer Day dinner. 
Tim made a handy sous chef and helped with the Y watermelon slices.
Isaac liked playing peek-a-boo with us. 
We had a fun visit from Zach the night before, just Tim, Hannah, and I had attended the BYU football team's devotional at the Round Rock Stake Center, which was fantastic. I drove the convertible, so my hair looks like I had a blast, which I did, so it's all good. Zach is a big Texas fan too, so I offered a Hook 'em Horns courtesy pose. 
This next picture was just before we were heading out the door, and Christopher took it. All three shots he took were blurry, but this was the least unclear. 
We attended a Cougar Town tailgate event in campus before the game. The real Cosmo was there, but on the other side of the room, so I forced Kelly and Tim to pose by this Cosmo instead. 
The seats were arranged by Tim, and he got tickets for us on the opposite side of the stadium than where we normally sit. We were up high in section 103, row 52. There were only two rows higher. It was so much cooler sitting there in the shade. We are usually burning up on the other side. It was an overall excellent view. I would have liked to be down a little lower, where Josh and David got seats, in section 104, row 15, where they had comfortable chair backs and a nice view on the 40 yard line. 
It was fabulous to be here at this game. The first half was somewhat uneventful and ended at 6-0, with BYU leading. The new coach at UT has been doing all kinds of rebuilding and apparently this wouldn't be their night to show what they've got. The Cougars dominated and beat the Longhorns 41-7, which is the most that Texas has lost a home game by since about 1997 or something like that. 
Tim brought his goal post costume and put it on for us in the fourth quarter. 
It was a discouragement for all the Texas fans, but I was impressed with their kindness and hospitality they showed the BYU crowd. 
The final highlight of the game was when we met Michael after it ended. He met Lindsey years ago when they were in the same EFY company, two years in a row, coincidentally, then wrote to Lindsey on her mission a few times, and then they dated a couple of times after she got home. He had come out to Texas for the football game with his dad. 

We look forward to cheering on both teams this fall and hope the Longhorns can make a big comeback, and that BYU can keep being awesome! 
(Special thanks to Judy for sharing her recipe for Monster Cookies, which look and taste amazing. She makes a boatload at a time, so I broke down her recipe to this smaller version shown above.)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

First time singing bed time song

Oh my goodness. He just melted my heart. Every time before I put Isaac down for a nap, I sing "I Am a Child of God" and then put him in the crib. Today I asked if he wanted to sing with me and he said, "sing!" So I took the binky out of his mouth as we stood next to his crib, and he practically sang the entire song with me! I had a hard time singing and not crying because it was so incredibly sweet! He has been listening and learning. Sometimes he applauds at the end of the song. He is such a joy to have in my life. 
This was taken outside a Subway sandwich shop near Kelly's work, where we often meet him during lunch on Mondays since Kelly goes directly to Chinese class each Monday after work. Isaac is usually in bed by the time Kelly gets home, so this gives them a chance to see each other a bit during the day. He still goes down so well for his nap without crying and sleeps for about two hours every afternoon. He's such a good baby. 

A few days ago, I was downstairs and heard a loud thud during nap time and then a crying, frightened Isaac. He took a nosedive out of his crib since he has been into climbing a lot. He fell out of his bed about a year ago and hadn't done it since then until Saturday. Hopefully he will remember that it hurts to crash down into the floor and not keep doing it. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Pecan Pie Tartlets

My most favorite pie in the world is pecan pie.  Recently I treated myself to a new set of these mini tart pans and want to share how easy these completely irresistible petite versions are of this family favorite recipe that I got from my sister, Tracy, that came from our Grandma Jackson.
The set of six mini tart pans from The Pampered Chef each has a removable bottom, which is perfect for removing the dessert without any problems.  I used one Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust, and rolled it out to make an oblong piece of dough, to be able to fit all six pans.   As you can see, I sprinkled a little bit of flour onto the counter top to prevent the dough from sticking.
I cut the dough into six sections using a tiny paring knife, then one by one, placed dough inside a tart pan, and gently pressed it down into the bottom, to fit closely around the fluted edges, then used my fingers to press down and cut off any excess dough from along the top edges.  I discarded the remaining dough.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Here's the mixture that you will stir together into a bowl, then divide among the six crusts.  Okay, be warned that the measurements for these five simple ingredients are going to be really awkward and nontraditional because I have used two- thirds of our family pecan pie recipe (except with the pecans).
  • 2 eggs
  • .44 cups of sugar  (use a 2/3 measuring cup, then fill it 2/3 full)
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1/6 cup melted butter (2.67 tablespoons)
  • 2/3 cup light corn syrup (Karo brand)
After I mix these together, I pour it all into my awesome Wilton candy funnel, to be able to easily pour the mixture into the prepared tart shells.  Later, the pecans will be put into the shells after the mixture has been evenly dispersed.
The shells will seem full, but should still be able to accommodate the pecans.  Add the pecans next.
  • 1 1/3 cups pecan pieces
After you put the pecans inside each cup, you can carefully dip them down into the mixture to let them get covered somewhat, and they'll rise back to the top while baking.
As you can see, I bake mine on a perforated baking sheet.  Use a cookies sheet if you don't have one of these.  I'm assuming that a cookie sheet will have similar results and need the same baking time.
I baked these for 30 minutes, but oven temperatures vary greatly.  You may need to add or subtract a few minutes to get yours just right.
After they cool down a little while, the mini pecan tartlets should lift right out from the bottoms just by pushing the center rim upward.  You may need to gently slide a thin knife or spreader along the bottom to release the crust from the non-stick surface.
Most of them should come out easily and you will be so excited the first time you remove it from the tart pan and see the gorgeous fluted edge.  It's hard to resist sinking your teeth into one right then and there.
You'll be delighted at their cuteness, how they are slightly bigger than a cookie.
When you look at it like that, you might as well take a bite.  Besides, there are still five more left.   My husband detests pecans, so unless I want eat the whole thing, it's easy to package these little goodies up to give to a friend.  I used a clear cellophane bag and pitched the boring, unattractive twist tie, and used some pretty ribbon to close it off.
Finally,  you can attach a small 3" x 3" little love note with festive washitape to finish the gift and make someone's day.
Alternate crust option: If you prefer to make your own pie crust, add 1 1/4 cup flour, then with a pastry blender, mix in 1/3 cup Crisco shortening, and a little bit of cold water to form a ball.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Crab Dip/Salad

Toasted homemade canape bread that I baked in a metal flower-shaped tube accents a mini crab salad for an individual serving. I bought the adorable mini flare dish in a set  of 24, which includes twelve flares and twelve petite tasting spoons, from Pier 1 Imports.  Love them!
Here it is served as a dip, served with store-bought bagel crisps to scoop it up. 
There have been many requests for my crab dip/salad recipe, and I finally am posting it.  It's so delish to snack on if you are a fan of imitation crab meat, cream cheese and veggies, which apparently, I am.  I have adapted this from a recipe in one of my old Pampered Chef Season's Best Recipe Collections.  Enjoy!
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 handful of fresh (rinsed and patted dry) parsley, chopped
  • 8 ounces imitation crab meat, chopped
  • 2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
  • juice from 1/2 of a large lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, diced
I usually chop the onion, bell pepper, parsley, then imitation crab meat, one by one in my food processor by pulsing each ingredient a few times, then put it in my Kitchen Aid stand mixer with the paddle attachment, and blend everything together until well mixed.  The most time consuming thing is perhaps dicing the grape tomatoes, and that's completely doable. This recipe comes together in a snap and is excellent served in individual mini cups, with some type of bread, bagel crisp, or cracker, or served family style in a chip and dip set-up.  Refrigerate until serving.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Teaching baby how to talk

Isaac has been adding many new words to his charming little 21-month-old vocabulary and seems to be delighted that he has figured out ways to verbally express his wishes to us.  He loves being able to tell us what he wants, then get the reaction that he expects, simply by saying a word or a combination of words that he has learned.  For several months he has been able to understand much of what is going on, and we are all so excited when we hear something new that he clearly utters. 
For quite some time, Isaac has known to say "amen" at the end of a prayer, since he hears us praying often as a family at the table before we eat, or when we have family prayer.  Sometimes he will squeeze his eyes together to pretend they are closed and bow his head. 
Tonight as Hannah was ready to go to bed, we gathered together for prayer and somewhat jokingly, Kelly called on Isaac to say the prayer. Without thinking of it, I called him over to stand by me to help him.  (Please note that this picture below was not the actual prayer time that I'm talking about, but was one of several attempts I made at getting a good shot of him before church on Sunday in his new little vest.)
Back to the prayer, I reminded him to close his eyes and I started him off by saying, "Dear Heavenly Father, we are thankful for all of our blessings. Thank you for everything," then I told him to say "thank you." And as he was snuggled up next to me, in the sweetest voice, said "thank you," which actually sounded more like a "teh-tu," but it seemed so genuine and pure to me, and for a moment I couldn't speak, because I was so happy that my little baby boy was learning to express his gratitude to our Father in Heaven through prayer.  The brief silence where I was trying to pull myself together before commencing to help Isaac with the remainder of the prayer, had the rest of the family unsure of what was going on, but Isaac knew what he was doing.  He then confidently declared, "Amen." So we all joined in and made his amen the official one.  It was a tender moment to hear my son say his very first prayer.  I know it was extremely basic, but I will count it as that.  It warmed my heart and I am thankful for his intelligence and his sweet little spirit and the joy that he adds to our home.
I bribed him with a Hot Tamale candy here to see if I could get a smile from him.  I'm not fast enough with my camera!