Can She Make a Healthy Pie, Billy Boy, Billy Boy?

cherry-pit-this-one

[Click here for the music.]
Oh, where have you been,
Billy Boy, Billy Boy?
Oh, where have you been,
Charming Billy?
I have been to seek a wife,
She’s the joy of my life,
She’s a young thing
And cannot leave her mother.

Can she make a cherry pie,
Billy Boy, Billy Boy?
Can she make a cherry pie,
Charming Billy?
She can make a cherry pie,
Quick as a cat can wink an eye,
She’s a young thing
And cannot leave her mother.

Every time I think about, crave or eat cherry pie, the traditional folk song “Billy Boy” comes to mind. It’s one of those nursery rhyme-type songs that Aunt Dot used to sing to “Billy,” my husband, each time he scampered through the house.

Last Sunday, in the bleak mid-winter, I was craving cherry pie made with sour cherries which obviously are not in season. To the rescue is Trader Joe’s deep purple Morello cherries, imported from Germany. Here’s a healthy pie – Billy Boy, Billy Boy – made with whole wheat flour and sour cherries resulting in a filling that is not overcome with a heavy sugary cornstarch filling. Besides, a pie like this one is great for breakfast – fruit and a whole wheat crust.

[Healthy] Cherry Pie [Billy Boy, Billy Boy]
Use jarred Morello cherries when you can’ t get fresh. They retain their tart flavor and meaty texture. Do not use canned cherry pie filling. 

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 4 cups Morello cherries (2 12-oz. jars of Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 double-crust pie dough (recipe below)

Heat oven to 500 degrees and adjust oven rack to the bottom rack. Place a rimmed cookie sheet on the rack.

Mix the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the cherries and the almond extract.

Spread the filling in the unbaked pie crust bottom. Place top pie crust over cherries, seal and crimp the edges and make four air slices. Sprinkle with a tablespoon of sugar.

Place the pie on the heated baking sheet and lower oven temperature to 425 degrees. Bake for 25 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet, lower oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake for about 35 minutes until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly.morello-cherries

Coconut Oil/Whole Wheat Pie Crust
Makes enough for one 9-inch pie crust. Double the recipe for a top and bottom crust.

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4-7 tablespoon water, cold

Whisk together flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Rub in coconut oil with your fingertips or use a hand mixer on low speed. Using a fork, stir in cold water until dough almost comes together into a ball. Add water gradually, a tablespoon or two at a time. Press dough into a ball, divide in half, and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least one hour.

When ready to use, let the dough come to room temperature (coconut oil hardens firmer than butter). Use flour on the surface to prevent sticking when rolling it.

Now, start singing!

True Colors

‘Tis the season for red and green and easy-to-carry party food. Spinach stuffed tomatoes provide all the color you need and this dish is easy to make ahead (even the day before) and bake when you need it. This tasty veggie dish is also a hit when you have to take something to a party because baked-ahead tomatoes can be eaten at room temp.

Spinach Stuffed Tomatoes

  • 10 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 package frozen spinach
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion of your choice (I use chopped shallots or finely-minced red onion)
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese mixed with 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs and 2 tablespoons of melted butter

Wash tomatoes and slice a small slice off the stem end so the tomato will sit upright in a baking dish. Cut off the top of the tomato and scoop out the pulp. Lightly sprinkle the inside of the tomatoes with a little salt. Spray baking dish with cooking spray and place cored tomatoes in dish.

Cook spinach according to package directions, drain and squeeze all water out

Add butter, cream cheese, onions, salt and pepper and combine until butter and cheese is melted.

Spoon spinach mixture into tomatoes. Top with parmesan/bread crumb mixture.

Bake for 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Can make ahead and hold in refrigerator for two days before baking.

 

 

 

 

 

Dressed for Fall

The leaves are falling this time of year….right onto your cake! Dress your pumpkin cake up with some silk leaves for a fall look and a great dessert centerpiece for a dessert table.

I used this recipe but baked it in a Bundt pan.

 

It Might Be Your Grandmother’s Gooey Dessert, But It’s NOT Your Grandmother’s Hearing Loss

Hearing loss isn’t just for grandparents. You might not be an elder statesmen, but you could be losing a little hearing. Join the crowd – one in ten people have a hearing loss in the U.S.

  • Do you often think,  “I can hear but I can’t understand.”
  • Do you have trouble hearing on the phone?
  • Do you turn up the volume on the TV?
  • Do you say to yourself, “I’ll just stay in the kitchen and cook so I won’t have to talk to anyone!”

I hope I am not making you uncomfortable by asking these questions. (Quick, skip to the recipe!)

I write about the food that brings us together, but when someone is left out of the party, the family dinner, or the conversation because he or she can’t hear, that’s NOT hospitality. If you haven’t already, do something about your hearing loss today. The holidays are coming so don’t stay home or leave the party early! I love you and that’s why I am writing about this.

The Number One charitable organization in the world for people with hearing loss is HLAA (Hearing Loss Association of America). I normally don’t ask for donations for charitable organizations on this blog, but this organization is a winner. Revlon has chosen HLAA for the LOVE IS ON 2016 MILLION DOLLAR CHALLENGE.

You have about 24 hours to make a tax-deductible contribution. Read more about HLAA and the Revlon Challenge. I’ve donated. If you think you have a hearing loss or know someone who does, you might want to as well. Click here and scroll to my photo. The LOVE IS ON! If you aren’t inclined to give (no amount is too small), just enjoy this easy recipe and peruse the blog. Thanks for reading.

Spread-the-Love Space Cake

(This is my grandmother’s gooey peanut-butter chocolate cake. Mabel Varner Space did not have a hearing loss that she admitted to, but her husband, my grandpa, sure did, as do the younger branches on the family tree!)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 box graham crackers
  • Bananas, about 3-5 depending on the size of the dish
  • Chocolate frosting, about 1-2 cups
  • Peanut butter, about 1 to 2 cups

DIRECTIONS

Layer graham crackers in a baking pan. Slice bananas lengthwise and layer on top of graham crackers. Repeat the layers at least twice until you end with graham crackers. Frost the top with your favorite chocolate frosting mixed with peanut butter (about half and half). Cover tightly and let cake sit for at least 24 hours before eating it. It gets better with age and will hold in the refrigerator a few days after that.

[Photo by Cindy Dyer.]

It’s Not the 1960s Anymore

By this time in 1969, I had consumed at least (at least!) 52 Sealtest ® Ice Cream Sandwiches at the local Clarion pool in the college town where I grew up. Clarion was sleepy in the summer because the college kids left and all the happenings were at the pool on Liberty Street or down at the river.

I remember those ice cream sandwiches from the vending machine – thick with ice cream, not like the skimpy ones today. Maybe when you’re a kid everything just seems bigger and better like the little house you grew up in.

I never deviated from that frozen treat, even though the lure of banana popsicles beckoned. I think I only sat out one week that summer when I had what mom called, “sun poisoning.” I looked like a lobster with bumps and the word “poisoning” scared me enough to stay home, but it killed me!

The pool closed down after that for several years on and off for repairs and I never really got back into going. I found books, bicycling and baking instead. Hang on to those good memories as you build new ones.

2016 Ice Cream Sandwiches

Pictured above is my brownie bar filled with Breyers® Salted Caramel Ice Cream. Cut the brownies into squares, freeze them. Take them out of the freezer and slice in half crosswise and top each half with your favorite flavor of ice cream/gelato/frozen yogurt. Make little ice cream sandwiches and wrap each individually with plastic wrap. Make a ton and keep them in the freezer for when the kids come in looking for something good.

Cookies work well too. I used molasses cookies here. And, keep enjoying summer with all those food memories!

Susie-Infused Shrimp

Susie makes a succulent marinated shrimp and avocado salad. I’ve never met Susie but I couldn’t help but think about her yesterday when preparing this dish for a picnic.

Do you ever feel like you know someone just by hearing about her over many years? Susie is Nancy’s sister. I know she makes delicious and creative food. She’s pretty, fun and loves her family. She’s also a youngish grandmother who loves cuddling babies. I can picture the kind of clothes she wears because Nancy will often say, “My sister Susie could get away with wearing that! (And it’s always something stylish.) Susie also talks to the hummingbirds that linger on her feeders, “Hi sweetie…”

Now you know Susie like I know Susie. Enjoy one of her signature recipes.

Marinated Shrimp and Avocado

  • 2 lbs. shrimp, peeled, cooked and deveined
  • 2 small onions sliced (I used one bunch of green scallions)
  • 12 mushrooms, sliced
  • Lemon-Thyme Marinade (recipe below)
  • 2 avocados cut into bite-sized pieces

Combine the shrimp, onions and mushrooms in a bowl. Toss lightly. Pour in the Lemon-Thyme Marinade and toss gently to coat. Chill covered in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours. Add avocado a few hours before serving. Drain the marinade and serve.

Lemon-Thyme Marinade

  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme (I added some fresh thyme from my garden to the dried)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard

Whisk ingredients in a medium bowl until well combined.

Still Trending — Sprodkas

No, A Sprodka is not a Russian spacecraft.

Actually, Sprodkas have been trending for about 15 years now in the Kelley household and in select zip codes across the country. It started one day when my husband Bill mixed me a summertime cooler and dubbed it the “Sprodka.”

I’m putting it out — right here, right now. When it becomes a worldwide sensation recorded in mixology manuals, I want you to know it started in the Kelley house.

Wherever we go, coast to coast, people see us and say, “Sprodka time!”

Recipe for Sprodka

  • Vodka to taste
  • Sprite Zero*
  • Lime, squeezed with fruit left in the glass (plus any other fruit to make it pretty)
  • Ice

Serve it in a highball glass or anything that strikes your fancy.

*Bill’s variation, depending on the audience, is equal part Sprite Zero and diet tonic.

Rise Up Ye Sons and Daughters…Mom Loves Dessert!

In my salad days, when I was in denial about being addicted to sweets, our hostess asked us if we would like a piece of her homemade cheesecake with a hint of Bailey’s Irish Cream. I said, ‘Yes, but only a sliver.’

She gave me a sliver.

I said, ‘I really didn’t mean it!’

Lesson learned: if someone asks for a sliver, give her a generous slice.

Mom really does love dessert. So make your mom something she loves. Here’s one of my favorite cheesecake recipes. I came up with this version when I was publishing Celebrate Home Magazine.

Happy Mother’s Day to all!

Mother’s Day Cheesecake with Nectarines

This cheesecake is extra creamy much different than a New York-style cheesecake. A unique crust and a topping of fresh nectarines gives it a unique tang. Can also use apricots when in season.

  • 1-1/2 cups vanilla cream cookies (Golden Oreos or Vienna Fingers)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 eight-ounce packages of cream cheese (do not use low fat), room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon rind, grated finely
  • 5 nectarines, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of apricot Polaner All-Fruit, high fiber

Crust: Grind cookies into a medium crumb consistency in a food processor (similar to graham cracker crumbs). Mix crumbs with melted butter and sugar. Press mixture into a nine-inch ungreased spring form pan.

Filling: Beat together cream cheese, and sugar until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Blend in butter, vanilla and lemon rind.

Topping: Put nectarines and apricot All-Fruit in food processor and coarsely chop to spreadable consistency.

Preheat oven to 450⁰. Put creamy mixture into spring form pan. Bake 15-20 minutes until slightly browned around edges. Refrigerate overnight, at least for 12 hours.

When ready to serve, remove sides of the pan and top with nectarine topping. Garnish with a few slices of nectarine and mint.

Photo by Cindy Dyer Photography.

Living by the Old Adage

Lemon cookies goodDid you know that lemons have health benefits – everything from possibly preventing strokes to building collagen in the skin? While you might not choose a lemon as an afternoon snack, you might be like me and opt for something lemony sweet and smooth with a cup of coffee at 3 p.m.

I always think of lemons when spring arrives with its tease of warmth – think yellow, sunshine, lemonade, and lemon vinaigrette with fresh asparagus.

The old adage of “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” seems overused, but really, is there any other way to live?

Here are two of my favorite lemon cookie recipes.

Lemon Ricotta Cookies
Pictured above, these tangy, light cookies were brought to the office by Nancy via Giada De Laurentiis of Food Network. Frankly, Nancy is the Giada of our office!

INGREDIENTS
2-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
3 tablespoon lemon juice
1 lemon, zested
Glaze:
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon, zested

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the butter and the sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Add the dry ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let them rest on the cookie sheet for20 minutes.

Glaze: Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon onto each cookie and spread. Let the glaze harden for about two hours.

Yield: 44 cookies.

Lemon Crinkles
I adapted this easy recipe from one of my favorite bloggers, Tidy Mom.

Crinkle cookies

INGREDIENTS
1 box lemon cake mix
1 8-ounce container Cool Whip
1 egg
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice with the pulp and 1/4 teaspoon of lemon zest
1/3 cup powdered sugar (for rolling)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In medium bowl, beat Cool Whip, egg, cake mix, lemon juice and zest, until well blended. Dough will be thick and sticky.

Drop a rounded teaspoon of dough into a bowl of powdered sugar and roll to coat.

Place on parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. The parchment paper is essential. Let the cookies completely cool on the sheet or they are too gooey to remove. Hint: If you don’t have parchment paper then grease a cookie sheet with Crisco and flour it. Don’t use wax paper. (I can attest to that failure.)

Let the Kids Do the Smashing

CoverI was in Balducci’s last week stopping in for a fresh-brewed cup of their wonderful coffee on my way to the office. I noticed the gorgeous display of chocolate-covered pretzels. Price: $15.99 for 20 ounces of hand-dipped pretzels cleverly decorated with colorful toppings. I don’t know if prices are high this year or I’m feeling frugal, or just wanting to do things myself, but for whatever the reason, I re-created the pretzels, Easter style.

I took some ordinary, bagged Easter candy and used them for the pretzel toppings. Whoppers’ mini Robins Eggs and egg-shaped M&Ms are easily ground in a food processor. Or, put them in a Ziploc bag and smash them with a rolling pin. (The kids love to do the smashing.) I also used some spring-looking toppings.

In the end, I produced about 100 chocolate-covered pretzels for around $20 max. Be creative, use various toppings, different-shaped pretzels, bag them in cellophane with ribbon

Ingredients

  • Pretzels
  • Chocolate for dipping. I used white and dark chocolate. You can buy the Wilton Candy Melts where cake baking/decorating supplies are sold or Dolci frutta meltable chocolate from your grocery store. Check the baking aisle for other brands.
  • Various toppings: crushed candies, mini M&Ms, nuts, mini chocolate chips, sprinkles, and more.

    candy-close-up

    Crush candies for topping after you dip the pretzels in chocolate.

Have at It!

Melt the chocolate according to directions. Dip a pretzel in the chocolate, and then dip in the topping. Place on waxed paper to cool.

That’s it! Have fun! And, please, don’t get me wrong, Balducci’s is great.

good

I used four different toppings with white and dark chocolate.