Happy Pi(e) Day

In honor of National Pi Day (March 14 or 3.14), I made two pies for my birthday treat to take to work.

Peach Pie with Pecan CrustIMG_2627

Pastry Dough

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup ground pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Cream together shortening, butter and sugar.
3. Sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder.
4. Combine creamed mixture with dry ingredients and ground pecans.  Dough will be crumbly.
5. Chill dough for 30 minutes.
6. Press dough into pie plate and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
7. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Peach Filling
5 peaches, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbs corn starch
1 small pkg peach jello

1. Place peach slices and water in a microwave safe bowl and cook at high for four minutes. Drain water into a separate bowl.
2. Mix together sugar, corn starch and jello.
3. Slowly sprinkle mixture into hot peach water.
4. Heat to a rolling boil.
5. Remove from heat and stir in peaches.
6. Pour mixture into pecan crust.
7. Refrigerate until set.


Almond Pear TartIMG_2628

Pastry Dough

1 1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 cup butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
1 egg, beaten

1. Place flour and sugar in food processor and pulse a few times to combine.
2. Scatter butter pieces over the dry ingredients and pulse to coarse mixture.
3. Add egg and process for about 10 seconds, until clumps form.  The dough at this stage will be very sticky.
4. Wrap dough and freeze for one hour to make dough easier to handle.
5. Press dough into pie plate and bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.    Note: a removable bottom tart pan would make serving easier since the crust tends to stick to the pan.
6. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Custard Filling
2/3 cup almond flour
1/3 cup sugar
6 Tbs butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 large egg

1. Mix flour and sugar together.
2. Add butter and flavoring and blend until smooth.
3. Mix in egg. Pour into crust.
4. Cover and chill for 1 hour.

2 pears, peeled, halved and cored
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbs lemon juice

1. Bring water, sugar and lemon juice to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
2. Add pears and allow to sit in hot syrup for 30 minutes.
3. Remove pears and place on paper towel to remove excess moisture.
4. Cut each pear half into thin slices and arrange atop the filling like spokes of a wheel, pressing down into filling.
5. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes.
6. Remove from oven and cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

If you try these recipes, I hope you enjoy them.

Christmas 2017

Today we celebrate the birth of our King, Jesus. Our hearts are filled with gratitude for who he is, all he has done and his great love for us. Yes, Christmas is a special time of year here at the Erickson house.  Merry Christmas to everyone!

A Christmas Craft – Fused Glass Ornaments


A Christmas Recipe – Cranberry Honey ButterIMG_2579

1 cup salted butter, softened
1/3 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbs orange peel

Beat together all ingredients and divide into jars.  Store refrigerated. Enjoy!




Holiday Baking

I enjoy baking.  And, since most of my boys no longer live at home, I will sometimes try a new recipe and bake for my staff. For tomorrow, I decided to try making Lemon Brûlée Mini Tarts.  This recipe called for four egg yolks.  Not wanting to waste the egg whites, I  also made Chocolate Cloud Cookies.  These cookies are gluten free since there is no flour.

I hope the staff enjoy these treats in the morning.

Lemon Brûlée Mini Tarts IMG_2560
Pastry Dough
1 cup flour
5 Tbs cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 Tbs shortening
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs ice water

1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup lemon juice
4 egg yolks
1 whole egg

Blend together flour, butter, shortening and salt until mixture resembles coarse meal (I used a mini food processor to do this).  Drizzle water over the mixture and pulse until incorporated.  Be careful not to overwork the dough or it will become tough.  Divide dough into 12 pieces.  Roll each section to 1/8″ thick and press into well of mini tart pan.  Trim edges and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place the tart pan on a large baking sheet and bake the shells for 15 minutes. The mini tart pan I used had 12 wells with removable bottoms (to make removing the tarts easier).

Near the end of the baking time, whisk together cream, sugar, zest, juice, yolks and whole egg until combined.  With the oven rack extended, carefully pour the filling into the tart shells, then carefully slide the rack into the oven.  I had extra tart filling that I poured into individual custard dishes. Bake the tarts for 20 minutes, or until the custard is set.  Remove from the oven and cool for at least 30 minutes.

Remove the tarts from the pan.  Sprinkle the top of each tart with sugar.    Using a baking blowtorch, move the flame back and forth over the top of the tart, avoiding the crust, until the sugar is caramelized.  Let stand 5 minutes, top with a fresh raspberry and serve.

Source: this recipe is a modification of a Epicurious recipe.

Chocolate Cloud CookiesIMG_2555
4 egg whites, beaten stiff
4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup Triple Cocoa Blend
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup mini white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Sift together sugar, cocoa and salt.  Add egg whites and vanilla.  Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment paper and bake for 12 minutes.  Store in airtight container.

Source: I have had this recipe for several years and unfortunately do not remember the original source for it.  There are several different cloud cookie recipes available on-line.  Most of these use cream of tartar, but not this one.

Veggie Tart

IMG_2243My Facebook news feed is generally filled with fun things that my friends are doing. When a “Suggested Post” (aka – annoying ad) shows up, I usually click Hide Ad because I hate seeing them.

Every once in a while, however, there is an ad that I like.  That was the case recently when the Food Network had a video for “Rainbow Rose Veggie Tart” that showed up on my new feed.  It sure looked tasty, so I wanted to give it a try. The original recipe can be found at Food.com.

After reading some of the reviews, I did decide to alter the recipe.  The two main criticisms of the recipe were (1) the veggies were too stiff and (2) the cheese tart was too bland.

To reduce the stiffness of the vegetables, I precooked them in water for six minutes in the microwave.  This resulted in soft, easy to roll veggie slices.  To change the flavor, I decided to add some of the spices that I normally use when making quiche. The spices added a nice taste to the tart.  The original recipe called for varied colored carrots. However, I found that the purple carrots lost their color in the precooking.  Next time, I think I will try eggplant instead of purple carrots.  I think they will keep their color better and add some additional flavor to the recipe.

So here is my version of the recipe.

Veggie Tart
1 sheet Puff Pastry
15 ounces Ricotta Cheese
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan Cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon oregano
carrot, peeled

  1. Unfold a puff pastry sheet and roll thin before placing in a tart or quiche pan. Place parchment paper in the center and weight it down with beans or pie weight (I actually used a glass pie plate, which worked very well).
  2. Bake the tart base in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes. Remove the weights and parchment paper. Let it cool.
  3. In a bowl, mix the cheeses, eggs, and spices until smooth.
  4. Slice strips carrots length-wise using a potato peeler or a mandolin. Place the slices in a bowl of water and cook in the microwave for 6 minute. This step will soften the slices and make them much easier to roll.
  5. Slice strips of zucchini and eggplant length-wise.
  6. Cut broccoli heads into small pieces.
  7. Spread the cheese mixture on top of the tart base.
  8. Take one slice of a vegetable and roll it up very tightly—this will form the core of the rose. For the carrots, take another slice and keep rolling. With around 2-3 slices you should obtain a decent-size rose bud. A single slice of the zucchini and eggplant is sufficient to make a nice looking rosebud. Place the buds in the tart, pushing it down into the cheese. Keep rolling roses of different colors and place them in the cheese mix.
  9. Bake the tart at 375 degrees F for 50 minutes.


Holiday Baking – Thumbprint Cookies

Day Two of holiday baking included several different of Thumbprint Cookies

Salted img_1981Caramel Thumbprint Cookies
1 cup butter
3/4 cup granular sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs (yolks only)
2  1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
3 Tbs heavy cream

Combine 1 cup butter, sugars, egg yolks and vanilla and beat until creamy.  Add flour and beat at low speed until well mixed.  Cover and refrigerate for one hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Shape dough into 1″ balls.  Place on parchment paper lined cookie sheets, 2″ apart.  Make an indent in the center of each cookie with the end of a wooden spoon handle.  Bake for 7-10 minutes until edges begin to brown.

Combing brown sugar with 1/3 cup butter in a small saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture begins to boil.  Continue cooking and stirring for one more minute.  Stir in whipping cream.  Allow to cool for about 15 minutes.  Spoon 1/2 teaspoon caramel mixture into the center of each cooled cookie. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Caramel Thumbprint Cookiess img_1972

Trial #1:  Follow the recipe above.  When the cookies are removed from the oven, top with a chocolate star candy and cover with caramel.




Trial #2:  Follow the recipe above.  When the cookies are removed from the oven, top with a chocolate star candy and drizzle with caramel.

Trial #2 looked nicer and tasted better!


Red Velvet Thumbprint Cookiesimg_1982
I made these last year and really liked them. So, they were included in my baking this year as well.  For the recipe, see the December 15, 2015 posting. 

Holiday Baking – Pretzel Butterscotch Cookies

With Christmas fast approaching, I have started my holiday baking.  Each year I try to find a new recipe or two to try.  This year, I actually come up with a couple ideas myself.

My first idea was  inspired by a recipe that I saw in a magazine – Pretzel Butterscotch Fudge.  When I saw the recipe, I thought that the combination would work for making cookies.  Using the classic Tollhouse Chocolate Chip recipe, I set out to try out my idea.



For my first attempt, I simply replaced the chocolate chips with butterscotch chips and replaced the nuts with pretzel pieces.   The result tasted good.  But, in my opinion, there was too much butterscotch flavor and not enough pretzel crunch.


So, I decided to try again.  This time I reduced the amount of chips by half and doubled the amount of pretzels. The changes were successful – these tasted great!


Butterscotch Pretzel Cookies
2  1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
3/4 cup granular sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup butterscotch chips
2 cup pretzels, broken in to pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine flour, baking soda and salt.  Beat butter, sugars and vanilla until creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in chips and pretzels. Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.  Cool slightly, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Cranberry Orange Relish, Wild Rice Bread and Canning

I recently ate one of the best tasting sandwiches I have ever had. This sandwich was roast turkey on wild rice bread with a cranberry orange relish, lettuce, arugula, white cheddar cheese and thin sliced apple.

I liked it so much, that I decided to try to try to make my own bread and relish. The results were actually better than what I remembered from my purchased sandwich.

Cranberry Orange Relish
16 ounces frozen cranberries
2 navel oranges, peeled and chopped
2 cups water
2 cups sugar

Combine the cranberries, oranges and water in a large saucepan.  Boil until the skins of the cranberries burst.  Puree in a food processor. Pour mixture back into the saucepan and stir in sugar. Heat to boiling and continue to cook until the gel stage is achieved. Ladle into jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Note – it took about 90 minutes to reach the gel stage.

Wild Rice Bread
1 1/4 cup water
1/4 cup ground uncooked wild rice
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup bread flour
2 T honey
2 T canola oil
2 T flax seeds, ground
1/2 T yeast
1 T salt

Layer the ingredients in the bread maker pan in the order given.  If doing overnight, make sure that the honey, yeast and salt are on top of the flour so that they do not come in contact with the water until the mixing process begins.

Mix and knead according to your bread maker setting for whole grain breads.
Do not bake in the bread maker.
After the dough has risen once, remove the dough, form into a ball and place in a greased traditional bread pan.  Allow to rise until at least one inch higher than the edge of the pan.

Bake 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Note – not having a wheat grinder, I tried several different ways to grind the rice. I found that the Nutra Ninja worked the best.  In the future, I think I will purchase wild rice flour.  While it is expensive, the recipe does not use very much.  And, I can try it in other recipes to see if I like the added texture and taste.

Canning 2016
While making the cranberry relish, I also made some Citrus Marmalade.

Thus my canning for the 2016 summer is complete.
Here is what my pantry
Strawberry Jelly – 13 jars
Triple Berry Jelly – 13 jars
Peach Jelly – 13 jars
Citrus Marmalade – 7 jars
Cranberry Orange Relish – 7 jars
Applesauce – 15 jars
Dill Pickles – 5 jars
Hamburger Dills – 2 jars
Sweet Relish – 2 jars
Dill Relish – 2 jars
Dehydrated Apples – 15 cups