Happy Pi Day

What kind of pie to make for Pi day? This I asked Hubby. I had recently made an apple pie which we proceeded to eat 75% of in one sitting. Mincemeat is not seasonal. Pumpkin is a standard. Finally we settled on a Chocolate Cream Pie. No meringue. I went through at least half a dozen cookbooks to find a Cream Pie and not a Meringue Pie. So it was back to basic Betty, Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, page 302 in my edition.

Most of the recipes for pudding pies that I found use egg yolks. This allows the whites to be used for the meringue. I had to make a decision as to how to use whole eggs or have 4 egg whites sitting about the fridge for who knows how long? The next decision was to use cocoa or chocolate. I have these 85% chocolate discs and wondered if these would serve. I also had an 82% Belgian Dark Chocolate bar available. The third decision was about pie crust. Should I make homemade or use the “emergency pie crusts” in the refrigerated box. I had already made the decision to use canned whipped cream. It is easy enough to make it from scratch but then I would have a half-used carton of whipping cream sitting around in my fridge for, you guessed it, who knows how long? But as I write this I am envisioning cream puffs with crème patisserie. Darn! I did not think of that when I was at the store.

The pie crust is pre-baked for this pie. I used one of the emergency crusts. I have a pound of dried navy beans that I use for pie weights. Just let them cool and keep them for next time. Betty says to pre-bake the shell, well-pricked, in the oven at 475 degrees F for 8-10 minutes. I had never used that high of a temperature but gave it a go. Other than it taking longer than 10 minutes it worked well. It took my crust longer because I had also weighted down a tin pie pan with the beans for additional weight. This did not let the crust brown for the first 8 minutes.

So the first step in the recipe is to bake your pie crust for a 9-inch pie.

  • 1 cup sugar; Betty wanted me to increase this from 2/3 cup to 1 1/2 cups if making the chocolate version of the cream pie. I only increased it a bit. This probably matters depending on what type of chocolate is used. The chocolate I used had some sugar in it.
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups milk; I bought 2% milk and now have half a half-gallon sitting in my fridge for who knows how long? We usually drink/use/cook with nondairy “fake milk”.
  • 3 whole eggs; I decided this would work just as well as 4 egg yolks
  • 1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 ounces chocolate; I used the chocolate discs.
  • Sweetened whipped cream

First, melt the chocolate with the vanilla. Slightly beat the eggs in separate bowl, medium sized, so that half the hot milk mix can be poured in this. Mix the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a good sized sauce pan. Pour in the milk slowly and bring this to a boil, stirring constantly. This will take at least ten minutes of standing by the stove. Betty intended for the chocolate mixture to be added with the milk but I forgot to read that part of the instructions. Let this boil for 1 minute, still stirring. Now pour half the hot milk mixture into the eggs, stirring those so as not to have scrambled-egg pudding. it was at this point I read about when to put in the chocolate so I put it in the sauce pan. I thought I might have chocolate-spotted pudding but it did blend all-together when put all back into the sauce pan. Now boil for one more minute. Remove from heat.

Pour into the waiting pie crust. Cover top of pudding with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours. Betty says not more than 48 hours, not sure why. Top with whipped cream for serving. Be sure to remove the plastic wrap!

This was very delicious and rich tasting. I added more whipped cream on each slice.

Turkey Dinner

Due to the various arrangements and travels of family members through the last winter holidays, Hubby and I did not get to enjoy a traditional roast turkey dinner with all the trimmings. But we had a 15 pounder in the freezer. Well, it was time. Hubby roasted the turkey and made his famous stuffing. He also made smashed potatoes. I made the turkey pie and cranberry sauce. It is nice having a house-husband around. When I came home from work I just had to make the gravy.

Betty Crocker’s recipe was used for the cranberry sauce. Unfortunately it did not gel. It was tasty but did not gel. My daughter had that problem a few years ago. We did not figure out why.

  • 4 cups cranberries
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar

I admit I halved the recipe. Was that the problem? I also did not follow the instructions strictly. But I never had in the past either. One is supposed to bring the sugar and water to a boil and boil rapidly for 5 minutes before adding the cranberries. Once added boil this for an additional 5-8 minutes. So I brought the water and sugar to a boil, maybe let it boil a minute or two, then poured in the cranberries which were frozen. I let this boil away for 10-15 minutes since I failed to watch the clock.

Meanwhile life goes on. Hubby continues to job search. He keeps busy doing various household tasks and chores and reads books and listens to the financial reports. (I’m counting on him to make our millions in the market so I can eventually retire.) Grandson turned 3. Our debit cards got hacked. We can’t seem to lose weight, even though I walk to and from work most days. We watch too much Netflix and complain about no content. I got a bird book and have casually taken up bird watching. But now that I am looking, the birds are not staying put long enough for me to figure out what they are. Ordinary life is a good life. Blessings to all!

Part two: the waffles

I made Betty Crocker’s Cookbook Crisp Waffles (page 196). I have made this recipe before because my grandchildren like for me to make them waffles when they come to my home. The youngest cracks the eggs and the older one measures the ingredients. I did not have them here to help me with these..

I made the whole wheat variation. I used a non-dairy milk because that is all we had in the house. I did not want to use up the half-and-half that we use for coffee. I have used that in a diluted form in the past as a sub in for milk.

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • a little bit of wheat germ
  • a little bit of chopped walnuts

I mixed the ingredients in my blender. I do not have the world’s most powerful blender. It is an old Oster with two speeds. Hubby likes it that way. I think I would like one of the newer high-tech, lots of speeds one. But I am working hard at not buying replacements for things that are not broken. There is too much stuff in this house as it is.

Heat waffle iron as directed by manufacturer. Make waffles. The added nutrition to these is sprinkling a tablespoon of wheat germ (yes, I have this in my fridge) and a sprinkling of walnuts over batter immediately after pouring it onto the iron. Serve with butter and syrup.

Thus far this plan of cooking from the Betty Crocker’s Cookbook is working out quite well. I wonder what I’ll make next?

Ginger snaps and waffles: part one, the cookies

This week’s Betty Crocker’s Cookbook makes are Crisp Ginger Cookies (page 276) and Crisp Waffles (page 196).

I was reading about how to reduce the sugar in cookies and got inspired by this to make ginger snaps. Hubby likes the crisp ones and I like the chewy ones. These are crisp. The recipe says one can roll them out 1/8-inch thick or paper-thin. I rolled them into a log and cut them into 1/8-inch-ish rounds. The majority of the sugar in these is the molasses and I did not reduce that at all. And the original recipe calls for shortening so I use butter instead.

  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • dash of ground nutmeg
  • dash of ground allspice

Mix the molasses, butter, and brown sugar. I whisk together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and then add this to the butter mixture. Beat until combined. This makes a smaller amount of cookie dough than I expected. The recipe said it would make 1 1/2 dozen 1/8-inch thick cookies or 3 dozen paper-thin. Once the dough is mixed, put in refrigerator for 4 hours. I left mine in the fridge for almost 24 hours.

Instructions say to roll out and cut in 3 inch rounds. As I was preparing to do this, I found the the dough was just as easy to shape into a log. I figured this would be just as good, so that is what I did. I carefully sliced the dough and put it on parchment paper and baked these in 375 degree F oven for 8 minutes. I was not sure if that was enough time, they looked soft, so I left them in the oven for one more minute. I slid them off the parchment onto the cooling rack. As they cooled they became crisp.

Yummy with a cup of hot cocoa!

Betty Crocker Brownies

I wanted to bake brownies. I did not need to make brownies. I do not need to eat brownies. But I wanted to make brownies. I knew that the Betty Crocker’s Cookbook uses chocolate squares instead of cocoa, so I thought maybe these won’t turn out good (or should this be well?)and I wouldn’t feel compelled to eat them. Well…it is the rare brownie that cannot be eaten. And these are very edible!

Just uploading the photo made me go get a couple to nibble on.

So Hubby asked if I would put Walnuts in the brownies. Sure. While getting the ingredients together I found a bag of green and red M&Ms that I did not use for Christmas baking. I asked Hubby if he minded those in his brownies as well. So these brownies are loaded. I used the Fudgy Brownie variation, also on Page 271.

  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour; you know, to be healthy.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup M&Ms

Melt chocolate and butter together. Mix in sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk this for a time, preferable 3 minutes, but I didn’t do that long. Supposedly that will help get the meringue crackly top surface. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spread into prepared pan and bake.

Preheat the oven to 350 F prior to mixing the batter. This variation called for a 9×9 inch pan or 12×7.5 inch pan. Neither of which I have. My brain had a glitch and I used a 13×9 pan. I’m not sure why I thought that was a good idea but by the time I had sprayed it and lined in with foil and sprayed the foil again, it was too late to turn back. I have 8×8 and a 10×6 but my brain was not working on this one. I figured they would be very thin (there is no rising agent in fudgy brownies) and I would bake them for the least time. I baked them for about 19 minutes.

They did turn out thin. They did turn out fudgy. They did not have that shiny crackly top. Remember to remove them from the foil while still warm; I have brownie chunks along with my nicely squared brownies.