Posts Tagged 'everyday food'

Update: Spaghetti and Meatballs

Maybe I should search for recipes on my blog before I write them up…  I was convinced that I’d never posted this recipe (one of my all-time favorites), but I did (in August of 2008).  However, since it’s so good and since I have a much-improved photo, I think it’s worthy of a repeat.  I made it recently for Dr. O and my friend Christopher; subsequently, Christopher has been signing me up for meatball throwdowns with friends’ Italian mothers, convinced I’ll win.  It’s a pretty amazing recipe.

In Dallas, I would routinely make this dish, along with Penne with Vodka Sauce, when we’d have dinner guests.  I always appreciated that I could make the meatballs ahead and have them waiting in the refrigerator; sautéing them and making the sauce was easy enough, even in the presence of company.  If you’re like my family (not a drop of Italian blood in us, yet we have Italian food for Christmas dinner), this could be a great option for a holiday meal.

Spaghetti and Meatballs
Serves 4 – 6
Prep time: 20 minutes | Total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:
1 large egg
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 large onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
8 ounces ground pork
8 ounces ground dark-meat turkey
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
3/4 pound spaghetti

Method:
In a large bowl, whisk together egg, 1/4 cup water, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Stir in half the onion and half the garlic.  Add breadcrumbs, cheese, pork, turkey, and 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning.  Mix gently.  Form into 16 balls.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add half the meatballs; brown on all sides, 4 to 6 minutes.  Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon.  Cook remaining meatballs in remaining tablespoon oil; remove meatballs.

Add remaining onion; cook over medium-low until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add remaining garlic and 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning; cook 30 seconds.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in tomatoes and 3/4 cup water.  Return meatballs; cover, and simmer until cooked through, about 20 minutes.  Remove meatballs.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook spaghetti according to package directions until al dente.  Drain, return to pot.  Toss with sauce; serve meatballs on top, sprinkled with more cheese.

Note:  If you have time, chill the meatballs for about 30 minutes before cooking them; this will help them keep their shape and make them easier to handle.

Source: Everyday Food, April 2004

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Oh, these meatballs are soooo good.  They’re super flavorful (thank the seasoning and the beautiful browning!), and Christopher characterized them as “fluffy,” as opposed to the super-dense meatballs you get with some recipes.  The sauce is garlicky deliciousness; just make sure you taste and season it to your liking before serving the dish.

TIPS:  This is a repeat from the original post, but at most grocery stores, ground pork and turkey come in 16-ounce packages, not 8-ounce packages.  In the interest of efficiency, I always double the meatball part of the recipe (making 32 meatballs) and freeze half of them.  When I’m ready to cook them, I just thaw them overnight in the refrigerator and start with the second step of the recipe.

Recipe link: Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spicy Turkey Thighs and Bacon Stir-Fry

I dug into the December 2011 issue of Everyday Food this weekend and came out with an absolutely delicious recipe: Spicy Turkey Thighs and Bacon Stir-Fry.  I can’t say that I’ve ever made a stir-fry with bacon in it, but maybe that’s the secret.  Dr. O said it was just like Pei Wei – not the ultimate Asian food experience, I’ll admit, but pretty darn good.

This one isn’t on the Everyday Food website (yet), so here’s the recipe if you’d like to give it a try:

Spicy Turkey Thighs and Bacon Stir-Fry
Serves 4 | Active time: 30 min. | Total time: 30 min.

Ingredients:
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless turkey thighs (about 2), thinly sliced (I used chicken thighs since I couldn’t find turkey thighs; turkey breast or chicken breast would also be acceptable substitutes)
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili sauce, such as sambal oelek (I got mine at SuperTarget)
5 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 bell peppers (any color), stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

Method:
Cook rice according to package instructions.  In a large bowl, whisk together egg white and cornstarch until combined.  Add turkey and toss to coat.  In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, and chili sauce.

Heat a wok or large skillet over high.  Add bacon and cook, stirring, until browned and crisp, about 7 minutes.  Add turkey mixture and ginger and stir until turkey begins to brown at edges, about 3 minutes.  Add bell peppers and scallions and stir until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.  Add soy sauce mixture and cook, stirring, until sauce is thick enough to coat turkey and vegetables, about 2 minutes.  Serve over rice.

Per serving: 296 cal; 7 g fat (2 g sat fat); 31 g protein; 27 g carb; 2 g fiber

Source: Everyday Food, December 2011

Spicy Turkey Thighs and Bacon Stir-Fry

Oh, this stir-fry is sooooo good.  It’s salty, spicy, and extra flavorful from the ginger and scallions.  It’s definitely essential to use the low-sodium soy sauce dictated in the recipe since the bacon is salty as well; regular soy sauce would put the sauce over the edge, I think.  As written, though, this recipe is an absolute keeper.

TIPS:  I get a little nervous cooking on high heat, and several of my steps in the recipe were a minute or so shorter than the recipe said they’d be.  (I think my bacon was ready at 5 minutes, and my turkey and vegetables only needed about 2 minutes each.)  I proceeded more based on what the recipe said to look for (browned and crisp bacon, turkey browned at the edges, etc.) than on exact times.

Beet and Tomato Salad

I got two pounds of gorgeous tomatoes in my CSA share this past week, so I think it’s time to share what has been one of my favorite salads this summer: Beet and Tomato Salad from the September 2010 issue of Everyday Food.  It’s colorful, fresh, and delicious, and it makes a perfect accompaniment to grilled meats (especially pork chops – our favorite!).

I’ve made this salad four of five times this summer, and I have to admit that I initially struggled to find the perfect roasting time for the beets.  The recipe says to roast them for 45 minutes to an hour.  This works fine for very small beets, but in my experience, average-sized beets need at least 75 minutes to become tender.  After the initial roasting time, poke them with a fork or knife to make sure they’re tender; if not, put ’em back in.

Beet and Tomato Salad
Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 medium beets (about 1 pound total), scrubbed
2 teaspoons plus 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 medium beefsteak tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves

Method:
Preheat oven to 425°F.  Place beets on a large piece of foil on a baking sheet. Top with 2 teaspoons oil and season with salt and pepper.  Fold foil around beets and crimp ends to form a packet.  Roast beets on sheet until tender when pierced with a knife, 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Remove beets from foil and let cool, then peel and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

In a small bowl, whisk together remaining 3 teaspoons oil, shallot, and vinegar; season with salt and pepper.  On a large platter, arrange beets and tomatoes; season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with fresh oregano leaves.

Source: Everyday Food, September 2010

Beet and Tomato Salad

This is sooooo good.  I suspect this salad could be a game changer for people who think they don’t like beets (especially if they’re used to canned beets at the salad bar).  The combination of fresh tomato and beet slices, simple but flavorful dressing, and fresh herbs is seriously out of this world.  (I must admit, though, that I’ve put a dash of dried oregano in the dressing when I didn’t have fresh oregano to sprinkle on top.  I like the fresh herbs better, but the salad was still amazing.)

Since I’m all about entertaining, I love that this salad is easy to make ahead as well. Roast and slice the beets, slice the tomatoes, and make the dressing earlier in the day.  Arrange the beet and tomato slices on a platter and store the dressing and the platter in the refrigerator.  Right before serving, add the dressing and the oregano to the beets and tomatoes.  If you prep the salad ahead and round out the meal with grilled pork chops or chicken, you can have dinner on the table in 15 minutes flat.

Recipe link: Beet and Tomato Salad

Basic Potato Salad

I had one of my most glorious summer nights ever at the end of June.  Some dear friends and I packed ourselves (and our picnics) into a car.  Our destination? Venetucci Farm in Colorado Springs to see Gregory Alan Isakov (one of our local favorites) play al fresco.  It was an evening of great friends (including one I hadn’t seen in nine years!), perfect weather, wonderful music, and (of course) tasty food.

Since my friend handled the concert tickets and the wine, I volunteered to take care of the picnic.  I settled on Pampered Chef’s Italian Muffuletta (I need to make it again because it must be blogged), Martha Stewart’s Basic Potato Salad, grapes, and Coconut-Apricot Macaroons.  Everything was so delicious and so able to be made ahead (a picnic must).  Here’s the recipe for the potato salad:

Basic Potato Salad
Serves 8

Ingredients:
3 pounds waxy potatoes (such as Yukon gold or new), scrubbed and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/3 cup white-wine vinegar
4 scallions, white part minced, green part thinly sliced
Coarse salt
Ground pepper
3/4 cup light mayonnaise

Method:
Set a steamer basket in a Dutch oven (or large pot with a lid), and add enough salted water to come just below the basket; bring to a boil.

Place potatoes in basket, cover pot, and reduce heat to a gentle simmer.  Steam potatoes, gently tossing occasionally, until tender, 15 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine vinegar, scallion whites, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Add hot potatoes to vinegar mixture; toss to combine.  Cool to room temperature, tossing occasionally, about 1 hour.

Add mayonnaise and scallion greens to cooled potatoes; mix gently to combine. Serve, or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days.

Source: Everyday Food, June 2007

Basic Potato Salad

Now I am all for eating complicated potato salads with long lists of ingredients (particularly if that list includes bacon and/or sour cream), but making them can be a pain.  This salad is super simple with minimal hands-on time, but it’s seriously tasty (though liking vinegar is a must).  It’s tangy and creamy, with the slightest bite from the scallions.  YUM.  I’m going to make this one again when my parents come to visit next month.

TIPS: Next time, I’ll be sure put my scallion whites and greens in separate little bowls while I make this.  I wasn’t really paying all that much attention to the recipe, and I put my whites and greens in the vinegar with the hot potatoes.  The result? Sad, wilted, washed-out-looking scallion greens.  I solved the problem by snipping some of my CSA chives over the top, but next time, I’ll just do it right the first time.

Recipe link: Basic Potato Salad

Emeril’s Nutty Granola Bars

In my mind, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  It doesn’t have to be a big production, but it’s essential that it happens.  We go through phases at my house, but common breakfasts include egg sandwiches, smoothies, and oatmeal with fresh fruit.  All delicious, all easy, all prepared by me since my darling husband doesn’t cook.  (His line: “Why should I learn when you’re so good at it?” 🙂  I suppose this is why I haven’t “learned” to haul the trash to the curb on Tuesday mornings.)  Anyway, I’m happy to help him get a good start to the day during the first part of the week when his office opens a bit later, but Thursday and Friday mornings are killer.  In trying to come up with a grab-and-go solution that was more substantial than a banana or a cup of yogurt, I found a great recipe: Emeril’s Nutty Granola Bars.  They’re soft, chewy, delicious, and filling, and the recipe is infinitely adaptable depending on what you have in the pantry.

Emeril’s Nutty Granola Bars
Prep time: 10 minutes | Total time: 40 minutes plus cooling | Yield: 16 bars

Ingredients:
3/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 1/3 cups slivered almonds (6 ounces)
Coarse salt
1 cup raisins or other dried fruit
1/3 cup creamy almond butter or other nut butter
1/4 cup light-brown sugar

Method:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a small saucepan, heat 1/4 cup honey and butter over low.  Cook, stirring, until butter melts, 2 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine oats, almonds, and pinch of salt.  Drizzle honey mixture over oat mixture and stir to combine; wipe saucepan clean.  Spread mixture evenly on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Let cool completely on sheet, 10 minutes.  Return to large bowl and add raisins; stir to combine.

Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking dish.  In saucepan, combine 1/2 cup honey, almond butter, and brown sugar over medium.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a boil and sugar dissolves, 10 minutes.  Drizzle over oat mixture and stir until combined; transfer to baking dish.  With a spatula, firmly press granola into dish.  Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour, then cut into 16 bars or squares.

Source: Everyday Food, March 2011

Emeril's Nutty Granola Bars

Emeril's Nutty Granola Bars

Holy deliciousness, these are good.  The taste is very similar to the soft packaged granola bars you can buy at the store, but I think they hold their shape better because they aren’t as gooey.  Plus, you get to skip all the preservatives that keep the store-bought ones edible for months; these will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for five days (unless they’re gobbled up sooner!).  I ended up using creamy peanut butter, slivered almonds, and a combination of raisins, dried cherries, and dried cranberries for my bars.  The flavor profile was terrific.  I can’t wait to experiment with other combinations like cashew and cherry or maybe macadamia nut with coconut and dried apricots.  The possibilities are endless!

Update 7/29/11: I made these again last night, and they were terrible.  I re-made them this morning, and they were wonderful.  The difference?  I cooked the honey/almond butter/brown sugar mixture for too long last night.  If you’ve ever made candy before, you know the longer you cook sugar and the hotter it gets, the thicker and firmer it gets when it cools.  For some reason, I thought it would be a good idea to cook the mixture for 10 minutes once it began to boil.  I knew something was wrong when I added the cooked mixture to the oats and fruit; it didn’t incorporate very well and some of the oats still seemed dry even after I had stirred and stirred.  When I went to cut the bars after I had chilled them, they were crispy (in a hard-to-eat way, not a good way).  This morning, I cooked the honey/almond butter/brown sugar mixture for 10 minutes total, starting with the moment I turned on the burner.  You could even shave a minute or two off if you want your bars to be super soft; just make sure the sugar is fully dissolved and you have a homogenous mixture.  Live and learn!

Recipe link: Emeril’s Nutty Granola Bars

Watermelon Lemonade

I love watermelon, and I love serving it as part of a summer menu.  (Does it get any easier?  Slice, cover, refrigerate, uncover, serve.)  I usually need more than a personal-size watermelon to feed my guests, but Dr. O and I seem to have a heck of a time finishing the leftovers from a full-size watermelon on our own. Thankfully, I found a delicious solution: Watermelon Lemonade.  It’s pretty simple to make and it keeps in the refrigerator for three days.  Here’s the recipe:

Watermelon Lemonade
Serves 8

Ingredients:
2 lemons, quartered
1 cup fresh mint leaves (mine were loosely packed)
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/2 medium seedless watermelon (about 9 pounds), rind removed, flesh cut into chunks
1 cup vodka (optional)

Method:
Squeeze lemons into a large pitcher; add squeezed lemon quarters.  Add mint and sugar; mash with a wooden spoon until mint is bruised and sugar is dissolved.

In a blender, purée watermelon in batches until smooth; pour through a fine-mesh sieve into pitcher (you should have about 8 cups of juice).  Stir to combine. Refrigerate, covered, up to 3 days.  Add vodka, if using; serve over ice.

Source: Everyday Food, July 2008

Watermelon Lemonade

Refreshing and deeeeelicious.  Watermelon is absolutely the dominant flavor here. The drink is sweet from the watermelon and the brown sugar, and while you can taste the lemon and the mint, neither are overwhelming.  We tried it with and without vodka and enjoyed it both ways.

My only complaints are: (1) they say it takes 5 minutes to make this (maybe if your watermelon is already cut and you can get it puréed in just two batches), and (2) the lemonade does separate over time in the pitcher (easy enough to solve with a quick stir before serving).  It’s tasty and perfect for summer, though!

Recipe link: Watermelon Lemonade

Dueling Veggie Burgers

I’m having a vegetarian dinner guest again this weekend, and my tried-and-true options (a) have been done before, and (b) aren’t seeming super appropriate at this moment with this gorgeous weather.  What does seem appropriate?  Grilling! Burgers and side salads make an easy entertaining menu, so I decided to try two very different vegetarian burger recipes: Greek-Style Quinoa Burgers and Balsamic Portobello Burgers with Red Pepper and Goat Cheese.

My use of the word “dueling” in the title might suggest that there was actually some hot competition between the recipes.  There wasn’t.  One recipe was leaps and bounds (truly!) above the other.  I wanted to include both, though, to help anyone who might be having their own veggie burger debate.

I’ll start with the Greek-Style Quinoa Burgers since I made them first.  The patties were made of quinoa, carrots, scallions, beans, breadcrumbs, and egg; they were seasoned with cumin, salt, and pepper.  The patties came together easily and without too much mess, and I liked that they could be assembled a day ahead and held (uncooked) in the refrigerator.  The recipe called for the patties to be cooked on the stove, but I decided to use my outdoor grill since it would create less mess when I was entertaining my guests.  They cooked up easily (I did 8 minutes per side over medium heat) and didn’t stick to the grill at all.

The problem?  Despite all those delicious ingredients, they didn’t have a lot of flavor.  They were also super dry when we reheated the leftovers the next day.  The yogurt-lemon-scallion sauce helped quite a bit, but the experience really should be about the burger, right?  Carnivores would never trade a beef or turkey burger for one of these, but I figured the quinoa burger would be a not-amazing-but-good-enough backyard barbecue option for vegetarians.

Greek Style Quinoa Burgers

That was, until I tasted the Balsamic Portobello Burgers with Red Pepper and Goat Cheese.  Oh.  Mah.  Gawd.  They were just as easy to make as the quinoa burgers (maybe easier) and still had make-ahead convenience factor, but I would actually choose this over meat from time to time.  Portobellos are a meaty mushroom to begin with, and they soaked up the marinade so beautifully.  You know that wonderfully messy, juicy dribble you get when you bite into a fantastic burger? You get it here.  With roasted red peppers and goat cheese (two of my favorite ingredients!) on a grill-toasted bun, this was absolute heaven.

Balsamic Portobello Burger with Red Pepper and Goat Cheese

My only note is that you’ll use either one or two mushrooms per burger depending on the size of your portobellos.  Just make sure you get at least the weight recommended by the recipe (1 pound).  Consider making extras…  You won’t regret it!

Recipe links: Greek-Style Quinoa Burgers and Balsamic Portobello Burgers with Red Pepper and Goat Cheese

Peanut Butter Waffles

How do I love thee, peanut butter?  Next to apple slices, tucked inside a chocolate cup, sandwiched with homemade jam, and now, in waffles.  As someone who consumes peanut butter almost daily, I saw this recipe in the May 2011 issue of Everyday Food and couldn’t resist.

The recipe isn’t on Martha Stewart’s site yet, so I’ve posted it for you.  I was able to get 20 small heart-shaped waffles out of the batter.  Two waffles (before you add bananas and syrup) are 6 Weight Watchers PointsPlus points.

Peanut Butter Waffles
Yield varies with waffle maker

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more for brushing waffle iron
6 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
3 bananas, sliced, for serving
3/4 cup pure maple syrup, for serving

Method:
Heat waffle iron and preheat oven to 275°F; set a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet and place in oven.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  In a blender, blend butter and peanut butter until smooth, 1 minute.  Add buttermilk and eggs and blend until combined, 1 minute. Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture and stir just until batter is combined.

Brush waffle iron with butter and pour in 1/2 to 3/4 cup batter, leaving a 1/2-inch border on all sides.  Close iron and cook until waffles are golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes.  Transfer waffles to rack in oven to keep warm; repeat with remaining batter.  Serve with bananas and maple syrup.

Note: Waffles can be frozen in zip-top bags, up to 1 month; reheat in the toaster or a 325°F oven.

Source: Everyday Food, May 2011

Peanut Butter Waffles

I’m not sure I’ve ever had a bad waffle, but these are tastier than most.  They have a subtle peanut butter flavor when eaten plain; I think the bananas and syrup bring out the peanut butter a bit more.  In terms of texture, they’re pretty light and fluffy. The oven time crisps the outside edge a bit (a plus in my book!).  Since I am always looking for good make-ahead recipes to take the stress out of entertaining (or even just getting Dr. O out the door in the morning), I love that I can make a whole batch and either hold them in the oven or freeze them for later.

These aren’t going to dethrone my favorite classic waffle recipe, but they are certainly delicious and a nice change of pace.  Give them a try!

Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Maple Mousse Served in an Edible Container

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!
__________________________________________

I’m not going to win any creativity-related prizes for my container (the baker who created vols-au-vent out of pancakes with bacon spirals gets my vote!), but at least I completed the challenge.  I also managed to reset my kitchen disaster clock since my chocolate-coconut macaroon containers were mostly pried off my upside-down muffin pan in (flying) pieces, although one did survive for photos.  Here are my notes:

  • I made a half-recipe of the mousse.
  • Despite my best efforts, my gelatin just would not dissolve completely after the intervals in the microwave.  I ended up pressing my egg-maple-gelatin mixture through a sieve to eliminate any chunks before I let it sit for an hour.
  • For presentation’s sake, I found it better to allow the mousse to set up in the refrigerator inside the edible container, rather than allowing it to set and then transferring it.
  • I used the Chocolate-Coconut Macaroon Cups recipe (minus the almonds) from the April 2006 issue of Everyday Food for my containers.  I used 1/2 cup of batter for each container (I made four total) and just molded it over the tops of an inverted muffin pan that had been sprayed with cooking spray.  I baked the containers for 25 minutes at 350°F.  In hindsight, maybe they would have come off of the pan easier if I had placed cupcake liners over the muffin cups before molding the batter.  Lesson learned!

Maple Mousse in a Chocolate Coconut Macaroon Cup

Will I make this mousse again?  Probably not.  The consistency was a bit too thick and gelatinous (from the gelatin, naturally!) for my taste.  Many mousse recipes don’t use gelatin at all.  Despite the challenges, I will make this macaroon recipe again; I’ll just bake the cookies in their intended shape to avoid raining coconut bits all over my kitchen.

Thanks for the challenge, Evelyne!

Recipe links: Maple Mousse and Chocolate-Coconut Macaroon Cups

Coconut-Key Lime Pie

We are slowly and steadily working our way through the leftover party beverages, but I planned a dinner party for last Friday to help speed up the process.  The weather was relatively nice last week, which (1) motivated me to spring clean my grill, and (2) put me in the mood to serve brighter, lighter food for my party.  To keep things relatively stress free, I went with a menu I served to my family last summer: Cilantro Honey-Lime Grilled Chicken, Southwestern Two-Bean Salad, and Hill Country Coleslaw. Watermelon wasn’t going to work as dessert this time around, though, since it’s hardly the season.  I knew several of my guests were coconut fans and that lime would go well with the meal, so I decided to try a recipe from the November 2010 issue of Everyday Food: Coconut-Key Lime Pie.

I actually made the pie twice; I experimented on my family when they came to dinner two Sundays ago (I’m glad they welcome my tests!), and then I served it at the dinner party mentioned above.  I got fantastic results both times, but I have to admit I made a significant substitution.  Knowing that there are 50 calories and 5 grams of fat per tablespoon of heavy cream, I just couldn’t pile 32 tablespoons worth onto my pie.  Couldn’t do it.  I used an 8-ounce container of Cool Whip Lite instead and saved 37 Weight Watchers PointsPlus points for the entire pie.  I would probably dig out the cream if I planned to serve the pie to hardcore foodies, but my guests certainly didn’t have any complaints.  Here’s the recipe:

Easy Press-In Pie Crust
Prep time: 10 minutes | Total time: 20 minutes plus cooling | Yield: One nine-inch pie crust

Ingredients:
6 ounces cookies (about 12 graham crackers, 46 vanilla wafers, or 30 chocolate wafers, such as Famous)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Method:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a food processor, pulse cookies until finely ground (you should have about 1 1/2 cups).  Add sugar, salt, and butter and pulse until combined.

Firmly press crumb mixture into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie plate.  (If using a springform pan, press crumbs halfway up sides.)  Bake until crust is dry and set, about 12 minutes.  Let cool completely in plate on a wire rack before filling.

Coconut-Key Lime Pie
Serves 8

Ingredients:
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 can (13.5 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
1/3 cup fresh or bottled Key lime juice
7 large egg yolks
1 Easy Press-In Pie Crust, made with graham crackers
2 cups cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
3 tablespoons sweetened shredded coconut, toasted

Method:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a medium bowl, whisk together condensed milk, coconut milk, lime juice, and egg yolks until smooth.  Pour into crust and bake until set but still slightly wobbly in center, 40 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, then refrigerate 3 hours (or up to 1 day).

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream and sugar on high until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes.  To serve, top pie with whipped cream and sprinkle with toasted coconut.

Source: Everyday Food, November 2010

My notes:

  • When making the crust, I would recommend adding the salt while you’re grinding the graham crackers for the best distribution.  I often enjoy being able to taste the salt in sweet things, but you might want to cut the salt to 1/8 teaspoon if salt isn’t your thing.
  • Beware the unsweetened coconut milk!  I’m used to using sweetened coconut milk, which is pretty smooth and creamy.  The unsweetened, first press stuff is basically chunks and water; I still haven’t figured out how to successfully get it all out of the can without splashing coconut water somewhere.  Also, I would recommend whisking it separately until smooth before adding it to the sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, and egg yolks.  My filling came together much more easily when I did this.
  • I’m usually a from-scratch-all-the-way kind of gal, but when the two grocery stores I visited didn’t have key limes, I just went with the bottled stuff (although it was specifically key lime juice, not just lime juice).  One of my guests commented that he wasn’t usually into citrus desserts because the flavor is typically too intense, but he liked the mellow flavor of this pie.  The coconut probably helped as well.
  • My pie needed 45 minutes (instead of 40) at 325 degrees to be reasonably set with a wobbly center.
  • I already mentioned the heavy cream swap.

Coconut Key Lime Pie

This pie is seriously yummy.  The graham cracker crust is divine – sweet, buttery, salty, crunchy – and I love the bright but mellow citrus-coconut filling.  The cream (real or not!) and toasted coconut on top are great textural elements.  This recipe is perfect for summer, for Southwestern or tropical menus, or for any time you need a little sunshine in the form of dessert.  I’ll be making this one again for sure.

Recipe links: Easy Press-In Pie Crust and Coconut Key-Lime Pie




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