Friday, November 26, 2010

Sweet Potato Pie

Sweet Potato Pie with Marshmallow Meringue
Southern Living: November 2010

This delicious pie is on the cover of the Southern Living Thanksgiving issue and has the look of perfection. Mine of course does not look as fabulous since I don’t have a food stager or professional photographer on standby. Many years ago at a Thanksgiving buffet I grabbed a slice of sweet potato pie by mistake thinking it was pumpkin—they are both orange. I was disappointed when I was told it was sweet potato, but reluctantly tasted it anyway and was pleasantly surprised. This pie was absolutely delicious and exceeded the pie in my memory.

Also last night while eating Thanksgiving leftovers for dinner I realized this pie can double a side or dessert since its sweet potato!

I started off this year’s holiday season with our new tradition of a broken oven (it has broken 3 years in a row during the holidays). Fortunately the part was available and it was repaired on Tuesday allowing me plenty of time to bake my dessert to take to Scott’s family Thanksgiving.

There were several great things about this pie recipe. I was able to bake the sweet potatoes for the filling on Tuesday night, use a Pillsbury pie crust and assemble and bake the pie on Wednesday, and then prepare the meringue on Thursday morning. For the sweet potatoes, I poked them with a fork, wrapped them in foil and baked them in a 400 degree oven for about an hour and half and then scooped out the filling. I absolutely detest making a pie crust from scratch--I feel like it’s a lot of unnecessary work for something that is in the background, and yet at the same time it’s so essential. I once cut my finger on the food processor blade while making a pie crust for a less than stellar pie, so maybe I am scarred for life. But there are some shortcuts I take to deviate from my scratch method, and for me the Pillsbury pie crust is one of those rare exceptions.

This pie also had several baking firsts for me. I don’t bake a lot of pies since my favorite desserts are cookies and I will occasionally bake a tart but tart crust is entirely different. Anyway this pie called for prebaking the pie crust using pie weights. I didn’t read over the directions until the last minute, so instead of braving the Thanksgiving shopper insanity at the grocery store to pick up some dried beans, I was already planning to stop by Williams-Sonoma for some pre-black Friday holiday shopping and purchased pie weights there. Scott made the mistake of biting into one thinking it was candy…good thing he didn’t bite too hard or he would have lost a tooth. Also this was my first time to ever make a meringue which sounds intimidating, but it was actually very easy thanks to my Kitchen Aid mixer. However I discovered in the car on the way to our Thanksgiving meal that meringue can melt so it needs to stay in the fridge.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Chocolate Raspberry Cookies

Chocolate Raspberry Cookies
By Paula Dean

I’m in love with these cookies and also very sad since this is the last time I will ever bake them. Hershey’s has discontinued the main ingredient. I used to be able to find the chocolate raspberry baking pieces at my local grocery store and then one day they were gone. I immediately went to the Hershey’s website only to discover they were no longer listed. I sent an email to Hershey’s urging them to bring them back and to let me know if there were anymore packages available in the Houston area. As luck would have it, I received a reply and headed over to the River Oaks Randall’s where I bought the last bag! This was over a year ago and I have been holding on this piece of heaven ever since, waiting for the perfect occasion.

That day has finally come. When I bake cookies I usually have enough for 2 occasions, so I try to be strategic about splitting up the cookies…I don’t want to end up with too many on my waistline. The two lucky recipients of this chocolate goodness are my Grandpa and my old boss Anita.

My Grandpa is 99 and recently broke his hip, had hip replacement surgery, and is temporarily living in a rehabilitation facility so he can undergo physical therapy everyday for several weeks to learn how to walk again. He has a serious sweet tooth and those genes were passed onto me. At his age I hope he is around long enough for this pain and suffering to be worth it. So I thought I’d cheer him up with a package of cookies and some cross word puzzles to keep him occupied.

Also Anita’s birthday was on Halloween, so I owed her some goodies. She was my boss for several years when I first started working and she is responsible for molding me into the employee that I am today.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Fall Flank Steak Salad

This recipe was inspired by the November 2010 issue of Southern Living. It is filled with fabulous fall and Thanksgiving recipes, including a sweet potato pie that I have been dying to bake. I was looking for a quick and easy weeknight recipe and when I saw the Leafy Green Salad with Pears recipe I thought, “Add a protein and it’s a meal.”

Fall Flank Steak Salad
Serves 3-4

1 lb flank steak
1 Bartlett pear
¼ cup candied pecans
1 bag butter greens
Salt & pepper
Salad dressing (optional)

1. Heat skillet over medium heat
2. Season flank steak with salt and pepper and cook for 5-6 minutes per side for medium rare. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
3. Slice pear.
4. Add lettuce to plates and top with steak, pear slices, and candied pecans. Add salad dressing if desired.

Blue cheese would be a great addition to the salad. I have a chunk in the freezer but was too distracted with all the leftover Halloween candy to think about it. I opted for no salad dressing; however Scott added some Brianna’s Blush Wine Vinaigrette. A honey vinaigrette or balsamic dressing would be a great addition as well. I will be enjoying the leftover salad for lunch tomorrow.