Sunday, February 27, 2011

Frozen Key Lime Pie

So I've officially had key lime pie three times this week. Don't judge me, I have a severe case of spring fever and a healthy dose of summery sweets is just what the doctor ordered. That, and a long awaited honeymoon to Maui next week. I highly recommend getting married in September but waiting to take the honeymoon in the most miserable part of winter.

If you like key lime pie, you will absolutely LOVE this frozen variation of the original classic. With only eight ingredients and minimal effort, this simple and delicious dessert is sure to become a regular in your household. If you are worried about a few raw egg yolks, six to be exact, you may want to stop here. However, if you've grown up eating copious amounts of cookie dough and cake batter and order your eggs over easy like me, then prepare for total salivation. A special thanks to Stephany White for introducing this recipe to me!

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers)
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
6 egg yolks, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons lime zest
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (4-5 large limes)

For the topping:
1 cup (1/2 pint) cold heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Lime wedges or slices for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a bowl. Press into a 9-inch pie pan, making sure the sides and the bottom are an even thickness. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

For the filling, beat the egg yolks and sugar on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment for 5 minutes, until thick. With the mixer on medium speed, add the condensed milk, lime zest, and lime juice. Pour over the crust and freeze for about thirty minutes.

For the topping, beat the heavy cream on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until firm. Spoon onto the pie and garnish with a few lime wedges or slices. Freeze for several hours or even better, overnight. Serve immediately out of the freezer. The more frozen, the better. I made this at 8pm last night and being the impatient being that I am, had a taste at 10pm. While still wonderful, it wasn't nearly as good as when frozen throughout. Enjoy!

This recipe is the work of my idol, Ina Garten.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Blueberry Jam in the Bread Machine

Over the past year, I have obtained and grown to be obsessed with my bread machine, Mr. Breadman (not just a nickname but also the product's brand). If I provide the ingredients, he in turn mixes, kneads and bakes me fresh loaves of bread. Last week, I discovered Mr. B is also great with jam.

Being the middle of what seems like the longest North Dakota winter in history, I live for the small things that remind me of summer. Among these things are fresh berries and even better, homemade jam. It had been weeks since I last saw the berries dip below three dollars at the grocery store, so when I saw blueberries on sale I grabbed two large cartons. Two large cartons for two people seemed like a good idea at the time, but nearly two weeks later sat one lonely carton behind the milk, approaching the raisiny phase of its life. Now seemed like the perfect time to to try out Mr. B's jam setting I'd yet to use. I started with a simple jam with only two ingredients and again, Mr. B didn't disappoint.

Blueberry Jam in the Bread Machine

I made this one week ago and it's nearly gone, therefore a winner.

2 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup sugar

Wash the berries in cold water, drain well and transfer to a medium bowl. With a potato masher or fork, crush the berries coarsely. Add the sugar and mix well.

Simply dump the mixture in the loaf pan of your bread machine, select the jam setting and press start. When the cycle is complete, transfer the contents to a small jar and allow to cool uncovered. Store in the fridge and use within a four to six weeks. Enjoy your jam with muffins, toast or my personal favorite: greek yogurt.

Today I tried a variation of the same jam, however this time I added the juice of one lemon to tone down the tartness of the blackberries. It also turned out wonderfully.

Lemon Blackberry Jam in the Bread Machine

2 cups fresh blackberries
1/2 cup sugar
1 lemon

You all must try a bowl of greek yogurt with a dab of homemade jam swirled throughout. Add some variety to your diet with this healthy yet filling breakfast or snack.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Captain Crunch Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Marshmallow Frosting

I truly love all things baking. It's the smells, tastes and not-so-guilty pleasure derived from freshly prepared goodies that gets me every time. I've always baked sweet treats and shared the recipes (and treats) with family and friends, however today I've decided that my previous methods of sharing through Facebook and email are, well, previous. I've been following various cooking and baking blogs for years, but it took me until now to join the masses and start one myself. Today marks the day I cross an item off my bucket list and introduce to you Z Sweets, a compilation of my favorite baking recipes and adventures.

Now to the good stuff. I bring you Captain Crunch cupcakes topped with peanut butter marshmallow frosting. First off, thank you to the genius that thought to combine my two favorite meals, dessert (of course it's a meal) and breakfast. Rice Krispies treats will always be a classic but it's time for something new. Move over Snap, Crackle and Pop, the Captain's stepping out of the box (pun intended) and into the dessert scene. I encourage you all to try these amazingly simple and delicious cupcakes. They were tested at our Superbowl party and passed with flying colors. Enjoy!

1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup buttermilk
4 large eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
4 cups Captain Crunch cereal, plus more for garnish

Preheat oven to 350. Line 24 muffin tins with baking cups and set aside.

Using a rolling pin and ziploc bag, crush the cereal to a cornmeal consistency. In a large bowl, combine and mix the five ingredients listed above.

Fill liners 2/3 full and bake for 12-15 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched. Let cool completely on cooling racks.

2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup milk
4 cups powdered sugar
7 oz. jar marshmallow fluff

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter, peanut butter, milk and vanilla on low to medium speed until completely blended. Slowly add powdered sugar until blended.

Frost cupcakes generously and garnish with crushed cereal. To achieve the look in the picture above, I used a piping bag and an Ateco extra wide pastry tip. I am usually not a huge frosting girl, but this frosting is so light and fluffy you really can't go wrong!

This recipe was found on Confessions of a Cookbook Queen.