Monday, May 31, 2010

Strawberry-Rhubarb Slab Pie

What better way to feed a crowd dessert, than with a slab pie? Made in a sheet pan with a sturdy crust and a tangy filling, this pie can be easily transported to any summer barbecue.

Truth be told, I make a version of slab pie in the fall, with apple pie slices. Everyone here likes those so well that they suggested I put my rhubarb to good use and make up some rhubarb slices. Martha calls hers a slab why not?

Strawberry-Rhubarb Slab Pie

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup butter flavored shortening
1 egg yolk
2/3 cup cold milk
1 egg white
1 1/2 cups frosted corn flakes, slightly crushed
3 cups chopped rhubarb
3 cups sliced strawberries
3 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup seedless strawberry jam
2 tablespoons orange liqueur (sub orange juice, if desired)
1 tablespoon grated orange peel


1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon orange liqueur
1-2 teaspoons milk
1 teaspoon grated orange peel, if desired

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and the salt. With a fork, cut in the shortening until the mixture is crumbly. Beat the egg yolk into the cold milk and slowly add it to the flour mixture, stirring it together until it forms a ball. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and gently knead a little more flour into it if it is too sticky (avoid handling it too much, or the crust will be tough). Divide the dough in half. Sprinkle a little flour on a piece of parchment paper or a silpat and roll out one half of the dough into a large enough rectangle to cover the bottom and sides of the 15- inch pan. Turn the dough into the pan and gently press it into place.

I used bran flakes this time, but any cereal flakes are fine. This step helps to prevent the pie juices from making the dough too wet.

Beat the egg white until it is slightly frothy. Brush the bottom and sides of the dough lightly with the egg white and reserve the rest for later. Sprinkle the frosted corn flakes evenly over the dough. 

Combine the rhubarb and the strawberries in a large bowl; sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of flour. In a small bowl, combine the jam, orange liqueur, and orange peel. Gently fold the jam into the fruit and pour mixture evenly over the pie dough.

When I make my apple pie slices, I use a 13 X 9 inch pan, but the fruit in this is tart enough that less filling per bite is OK.

 Roll out the remaining pie dough and carefully place it over the top of the fruit. Make a few cuts in the dough to vent, then brush it with a little of the egg white. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 40-45 minutes or until the crust is golden and the fruit is bubbling.

Don't forget to put a drip pan underneath while might get a bit messy!

In a small bowl, whisk the glaze ingredients together, adding a little more liquid, if needed, to thin. Drizzle over warm pie. Allow the pie to cool for at least an hour for the filling to set.

Feel free to change out the rhubarb with some blueberries or blackberries if you don't care for rhubarb.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"Holy Moly Guacamole" Avocado Cupcakes

 I can't seem to leave well enough alone. There was another avocado beckoning me. I had to do it. I had to make a sweet treat out of it. The trouble was, I was running out of time....deadlines were looming. Aaack---the pressure! I reached for a cake mix.....

All the while I was thinking and dreaming about Avocados from Mexico, I couldn't help but notice how really adaptable this tasty, green fruit is. Sweet, savory---it really didn't matter----the avocado seems to compliment many flavors. I was especially interested in trying out some citrus flavors with it. How apropos, then, that the cake mix in my hand was lemon flavored. Since avocados have the good fat, I omitted the oil from the recipe and thought to replace the water with some tangy buttermilk. Then, to top things off, a good dose of orange cream cheese icing. Oh. My. Goodness. Easy and delish. And cute, too! Just have a look see:

"Holy Moly Guacamole" Avocado Cupcakes

Printable Recipe


1 ripe avocado, peeled and seeded
¾ cup buttermilk
3 large eggs
1 box (18.25 oz) lemon flavored cake mix

Orange Cream Cheese Icing:

¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
2-3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
3-4 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with liners.

Combine the avocado and the buttermilk in a large mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until mixture is nearly smooth. Add the eggs and the cake mix and continue to beat for an additional 2 minutes. Spoon batter into 24 cupcake liners; bake for 18-20 minutes or until the tops spring back when touched. Cool completely on wire racks before frosting.

For the icing, combine the butter, cream cheese, orange peel and vanilla in a medium sized bowl. With a hand mixer, beat until smooth. Add the orange juice, blending well. Stir the powdered sugar into the mixture and then beat until smooth, adding additional sugar until desired consistency is reached. If icing becomes too thick, add more orange juice, a teaspoon at a time. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

Seriously good. Seriously easy to make. Do it.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Avocado-Bacon Scones with Smokey Tomato Butter

The challenge: to create an original recipe showcasing avocados from Mexico in a new and different way. No tacos, no cilantro, no salsa....emphasis on new and different. Was I up for it? You betcha! Did I know what I was doing. No way! Did it work anyway? Yup!

It's funny how I go about creating recipes sometimes. I think up a name first. Scones were on my mind lately--I had just had a really tasty, albeit caloric little sucker, from, of all places, Target. They carry little mini-scones in some pretty tasty variations. So, as I was digesting my tasty little morsel (honey-almond, I believe), I was thinking about how I could make an avocado into a scone. It would have to be savory and have a really cool sounding spread to go on top. Hmmm....avocados, tomatoes, bacon, onions, chives....I could make this work. Plus---avocados (from Mexico!) were on sale for a dollar apiece! The fates were with me.....

Truth be told, I've never in my life made a scone. This meant that a little research was in order. Oh, I googled "avocado scone" and nothing much came up (which was kind of good, seeing that this had to be original). I figured that avocados kind of had the consistency of a banana, so I started there. When it was all said and done, this is what I came up with:

Avocado-Bacon Scones with Smokey Tomato Butter

Printable Recipe

Smokey Tomato Butter

1 plum tomato
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon chopped chives
½ teaspoon liquid smoke
¼ teaspoon sea salt

Avocado-Bacon Scones

4 thick slices bacon
1 ripe avocado
½ cup buttermilk, plus 2 tablespoons for brushing
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped chives
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Coarse salt for sprinkling

Cut an X into the bottom of the tomato. Blanche the tomato in a pan of boiling water for 10 seconds, then transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water. Peel and core the tomato, remove the seeds and chop coarsely. Place the chopped tomato into the bowl of a food processor, along with ½ cup unsalted butter, 1 teaspoon chives, ½ teaspoon liquid smoke and ¼ teaspoon sea salt. Pulse until well-blended. Set aside.

My daughter gave me a food processor for Mother's Day....I had to put it to good use. I imagine that you could blend the butter mixture with a hand mixer or a blender.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Fry the bacon until crisp; crumble and set aside.

Mash the avocado in a small bowl; stir in 1/2 cup buttermilk and the chives.

Into a bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt; add the butter and blend the mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.

I also used the food processor to blend the butter into the flour mixture...I went ahead and put the bacon and chives in with the flour and blended it all together. I'm guessing that not everyone will want to use a food processor, though, so I wrote the recipe as if I still didn't have one.

Stir in the crumbled bacon and then add the avocado mixture, stirring until the mixture is sticky, yet manageable. If the dough is too sticky, add additional flour, one tablespoon at a time. If too dry, add more buttermilk. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for just a few seconds. Divide the dough in half and pat each half into a circle, about 6 inches in diameter. Place the circles of dough on a large baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Cut each circle into 8 wedges and separate slightly. Brush each wedge with buttermilk and sprinkle with coarse salt.

Many of the scone recipes I was looking at used heavy cream to make a nice crumb. I chose buttermilk since the avocado provides some good healthy fats (we'll ignore the fact that I also put bacon and butter in there, lol).

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until just starting to turn brown. Serve warm with tomato butter.

They weren't as green as I thought they would be. Probably a good thing....

All in all, a pretty tasty little appetizer....or bread course to serve with a salad....or a good side to have with soup....

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Faux Philly Cheese "Steak" Sandwiches

When Pete and I lived in San Diego, so long ago, there was a little hole in the wall restaurant, actually just a sandwich shop, that sold authentic Philly Cheese Steak Sandwiches. The husband and wife who owned this delectable little shop were actually transplants from Philadelphia, so we had to take their word for the authenticity of their sandwiches, since we had never experienced these wonderful, cheesy, oniony, heavenly creations. Now you see them all over the place---even in any shopping mall's food court. We never did find any that we liked as well, however. For a time, I even resorted to using Steak-ums (those very thin, frozen steaks) to make my own sandwiches....not bad, but not great either. So, this weekend, wanting to fulfill a craving, I thought about those sandwiches and what it was about them that I liked so well. Guess what? It really wasn't the steak (although I am, most definitely, a carnivore)  that made this sandwich so tasty for me. I discovered that it was the combination of the caramelized onions, green peppers, mushrooms, and melty cheese on top of a very good roll, that made the sandwich. Since I really wanted to make something that my meatless daughter would eat, it occurred to me that an avocado might just make a good substitute for the steak. Boy howdy...does it ever! This is what I came up with:

Faux Philly Cheese "Steak" Sandwiches with Lemon-Dill Mayo


¼ cup light mayonnaise
¼ cup light sour cream
1 teaspoon fresh or freeze dried dill
½ teaspoon salt-free lemon pepper seasoning


3-4 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium, sweet onions chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
½ green bell pepper, chopped
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 cups sliced mushrooms
Salt and pepper to taste
4 hoagie rolls, split
8 thin slices provolone cheese
2 ripe (not mushy), avocados, sliced
1 tomato, sliced (optional)

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, dill and lemon/pepper; set aside.

My husband liked this mayo stuff so much it was gone before I had a chance to spread it on the sandwiches. He was sitting on the sofa dipping chips into it.....

I'm not afraid to use convenience food. I found this freeze- dried dill in the produce section. It's perfect for me since it needs no refrigeration and it won't spoil by the time I decide to use it. It was a bonus that it tasted good, too!

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil to the pan and allow it to heat for a minute or two. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions, red bell peppers and green peppers. Sprinkle with sugar and cook for about 10 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic, mushrooms and salt and pepper. Cook an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until mixture is caramelized.

I didn't really measure the olive oil...just eyeballed it.

You can use just green bell peppers if you want. I just like the color of the red.

Push the onion/pepper mixture to one side of the pan and place a split hoagie roll on top of some of the hot oil, to brown the roll; remove from pan. Spread the toasted roll with about a tablespoon of mayo. Arrange about one half of an avocado on the bottom part of the roll; set aside.

The reason I used such a large skillet was so that I could push the onion mixture around and toast the buns in the olive oil. If there isn't enough oil, just brush a little on each roll before you toast them in the pan.

Working with ¼ onion mixture at a time, cover it with two slices provolone cheese. Allow the cheese to melt slightly and then, using a spatula, carefully lift the portion of cheese/onion onto the avocado. Top with tomato, if desired, sprinkle with a little more pepper and serve. Repeat with remaining rolls.

It has taken me many years, but I finally figured out the way to take the pit out of the avocado. Stick a knife in it and twist.

A Philly Cheese "Steak" with no meat. How cool is that?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Banana Fudge Ice Cream Pie

 Tradition in our family dictates that we have a banana fudge ice cream cake from the local creamery for my daughter's birthday. Last year, we tried one from Cold Stone Creamery instead, and though it was good, it just wasn't the same. So last week, I was on the phone with the usual place, all ready to place my order, when the young man on the phone told me that they didn't make banana ice cream! What? Say it ain't so....(I still think he had no clue). Well, I am told that necessity is the mother of invention, so it was time for me to make my own. All I can say at this point is that I'm glad that that young man had no clue, because my version of our yearly treat turned out to be far superior (I'm not modest, lol).

Banana Fudge Ice Cream Pie

Printable Recipe


1 ½ cups heavy cream
1 ½ cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon vanilla)
2 eggs
¾ cup sugar
2 medium, ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup good quality hot fudge topping (I used Mrs. Richardson’s)
1 premade Oreo pie crust

The lighting was bad, so I didn't get any shots of the actual ice cream making, but I did take a shot of the jar of fudge! :)

Combine the cream and the milk in a medium sized heavy saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the cream/milk mixture; add the rest of the bean.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and the sugar until thick, about 1-2 minutes. Whisk the eggs into the cream/milk mixture and heat until it just comes to a boil, whisking constantly. Continue to heat until mixture thickens slightly and is able to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat, pour into a bowl, cover and chill for several hours or overnight.

When the custard is thoroughly chilled, remove the vanilla bean, and pour into an ice cream machine. Add the bananas and churn, per manufacturer’s directions, until the desired consistency is achieved, about 30 minutes.

Spread ½ cup fudge on the bottom of the pie crust. Top with half of the ice cream and repeat, ending with ice cream. Cover and freeze pie until firm. Serve with additional hot fudge, if desired.

The ice cream was a little melty at this point. It was hard not to just eat it right then and there....

A little messy, to be sure.

But it was all good after a little re-freeze.

Yum! Fresh banana ice cream and hot fudge (and don't forget that Oreo crust). A match made in heaven.

Happy 20th Birthday, Taylor!!!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Butterscotch Walnut Pie

I hadn't made a treat for my sister in awhile, so I asked her what she wanted. "Make that walnut pie!" she said. Hmm...not so Spring-like, but good nonetheless. Of course I followed through.....

A few years ago, I was tinkering with a pecan pie recipe when I came up with this one. Enough changes to call it my own, but not so different as to make it weird. I swapped out the nuts, used butterscotch ice cream topping instead of corn syrup, and added a little bourbon. It has been a keeper ever since.

Butterscotch Walnut Pie


1 unbaked 9" pie crust, recipe follows
3 large eggs, beaten
1 jar (12.5 oz) butterscotch ice cream topping
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon bourbon (or two if you dare)
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In medium bowl, combine beaten eggs, butterscotch topping, melted butter, sugar, salt and bourbon. Mix until well-blended.

I actually used about 2 cups of walnuts---and I used a Pillsbury pie crust this time

Sprinkle walnuts evenly over bottom of pie crust. Pour butterscotch filling over walnuts.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until knife inserted halfway between center and edge of pie comes out clean. Serve warm or cold, with whipped topping if desired.

For pie crust, stir 1 1/4 cups flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in 1/3 cup shortening or lard until pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle with 3-4 tablespoons of cold water and form dough into a ball. Place dough in center of two large pieces of parchment paper. Roll dough with rolling pin from center to edge, forming a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Peel off one piece of parchment paper and center dough over a 9 inch pie plate. Carefully peel off the second piece of parchment paper. Fold under any extra dough and make a fluted edge. Or bag the whole thing and use some refrigerated pie crust, hee hee.

So, am I nuts to serve a walnut pie in the Spring? I think nut not!