How to Make Great Summer Beverages

By Dennis Weaver

In the heat of the summer, it’s important to drink plenty of liquids. That’s especially so for children as they play in the sun. But water quickly gets boring and kids don’t usually like it anyway. So what can you do to help them, and yourself, stay hydrated this summer? Here are some ideas:

• If you don’t want to go to the work of pureeing and straining fruit, use a fruit pancake syrup. We made ice cubes from blueberry syrup and used them in lemonade, as shown in the picture above. Dilute the syrup with two parts water for one part syrup before freezing the ice cubes.

Other syrup choices include boysenberry, cherry, raspberry, peach, and strawberry.
• Add pancake syrup to your lemonade to make cherry lemonade, strawberry lemonade, and so forth.
• Add fruit juices or fruit syrup to soda water.
• Add fruit juices or fruit syrup to lemonade.
Still need help? How about trying some of these beverage recipes:

Strawberry Lemonade Slush

Fresh is always better. If you have a food processor or blender, here is a great way to convert a couple lemons and a tub of strawberries into a wonderful, fresh beverage.

Ingredients

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (juice from approximately two lemons)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups strawberries
A few drops red food coloring
ice

Directions

Puree the lemon juice, sugar, and, strawberries together in a blender or food processor. Add the food coloring.

Add the ice cubes one at a time and process until smooth. (If you are using a blender, you can remove the round handle from the lid and drop the ice cubes in the blender one at a time.)

Continue adding ice cubes until the mixture is diluted to the desired taste. Add more sugar for a sweeter drink.

Baker’s notes: If you add enough ice you will have a slush. If you desire a more frozen beverage, place the blender jar in the freezer and in a half hour, scrape the forming crystals from the sides. Repeat if desired.

Tropical Breeze Smoothie

As with all smoothies, this is quick and easy to make. And as with all smoothies, you can vary the quantities of ingredients to fit your taste.

Ingredients

1 ripe banana
1 cup pina colada flavored yogurt
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract
10-12 ice cubes
1 tablespoon honey or to taste

Directions

Mix all ingredients together in a blender. Add more honey if desired. You can buy pina colada flavored yogurt in individual serving-sized cups at the grocery.

The Best Strawberry Shake

What could be better than a tall strawberry shake? You’ll find that you can deliver a better shake than the local car hop. This is a thick strawberry shake made with plump, ripe berries and premium ice cream. It’s topped with sweetened, flavored whipped cream.

The following recipe makes two shakes. So as to not overfill the blender, make a half at a time.

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups of ripe, fresh strawberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
about 3 cups premium vanilla ice cream
2/3 cup half and half (or a 50:50 mixture of milk and whipping cream)
sweetened whipped cream for topping

Directions

Wash, trim, and slice the berries. Sprinkle the sugar on the berries and let them soak at room temperate for two hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Place half the strawberries and half the ice cream in a blender plus half the juice from the berries. Puree until smooth and combined. Add half of the half and half and mix.

Put the shake in a tall, chilled glass while you make the second shake.
Top the shakes with whipped cream and an optional strawberry and serve.

There are some tricks to making a very good strawberry shake. Start with the very best berries. If they are not fully ripe, they won’t be flavorful but if they are starting to get mushy, they may have an off-taste. And put the right amount of berries in the shake. Judge the amount by the color of the shake; it should be a rich but pastel pink. If it’s too light, add more berries.

Taste the shake before you serve it. If it does not have enough strawberry taste, add some strawberry flavor.

Before making the shakes, chill the blender and glasses in the freezer. It’s hard to make a thick shake in a warm blender; it melts the ice cream. Your ice cream should be rock hard.

(Use an ice cream spade, not scoop, to pry out hard frozen ice cream.) Don’t mix the shake any longer than necessary; the friction from the motor causes heat that will melt the ice cream.

For the whipped cream topping

1 cup heavy whipping cream (the fat content should be 35% or more)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or other flavor

Directions

Chill the cream, the utensils, and bowl that you will be using.
Beat the cream at medium speed until soft peaks form.
Add the powdered sugar and flavor and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Do not over whip.

Instead of vanilla, try a different flavor. Strawberry of course works but any of the “warm” flavors will do.

French vanilla, brown sugar, and caramel flavors are all good choices.

Italian Sodas

Summer Sunrise Soda

1 tbsp (1/2 oz) Torani Peach Syrup
1/2 tbsp (1/4 oz) Torani Mango Syrup
1 cup sparkling water or club soda
Ice

Directions

Pour sparkling water into tall glass filled with ice. Add Torani syrup and stir well.

Berry Blast Soda

1 tbsp (1/2 oz) Torani Blackberry Syrup
1 tbsp (1/2 oz) Torani Raspberry Syrup
1 cup (8oz) sparkling water or club soda
Ice

Directions

Pour sparkling water into tall glass filled with ice. Add Torani syrup and stir well.

Raspberry Cream Soda

2 tbsp (1 oz) Torani Red Raspberry Syrup
1/2 tbsp (1/4 oz) Torani Vanilla Syrup
1 cup (8oz) sparkling water or club soda
2 tbsp (1 oz) cold milk or half &half
Ice

Directions

Pour sparkling water into tall glass filled with ice. Add Torani and stir well. Slowly top with milk

Dennis Weaver is the founder of The Prepared Pantry. He is the author of How to Bake, a 318 page book about the art and science of baking. You can download a free copy of How to Bake here. Kindle, Nook and iPad versions available.

Copyright © Dennis Weaver :: The Prepared Pantry :: Grandma’s Home Blogger Place :: All Rights Reserved

3 Cool Treats to Help Beat the Heat – Monthly Food Column

By Dennis Weaver From The Prepared Pantry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The weather outside may be horribly hot, but that doesn’t mean you have to be too. We’ve been working in the kitchen all week coming up with ways to beat the summer heat. Here are the top three frozen treats we were able to whip up. They are guaranteed to cool off your toasty afternoon, no matter what the temperature—and no A/C is required!


Pink Lemonade Pie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve been making pink lemonade pies and their cousins for years now. After much trial and error, we’ve found using a springform pan instead of a pie pan works best, but you can use either. These pies are absolutely scrumptious. They are frozen, almost ice cream pies, and don’t require baking (unless you choose to bake the crust for eight to ten minutes) so they are perfect for summer. Since everyone loves them, they’re great for guests or a family occasion. They can be made ahead and frozen if you won’t have time to make anything the day of a big event. The best thing about this recipe is you can use whatever juice concentrate you wish—cherry cranberry, peach mango, cranberry pear—and it’ll come out just as tasty.

This pie is made in three parts: a graham cracker crust, a lemonade and cream cheese filling, and a whipped cream topping. If you prefer, you can use a commercial whipped topping or whipped cream from an aerosol can for the topping.

For the Crust

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter

Mix the crumbs, sugar, and butter in a nine inch pie pan or spring form pan. Mix until the crumbs have absorbed the butter and the mixture is uniform.
Press the crumbs across the bottom of the pan and up the sides. We’ve found using a drinking glass to press the crumbs up the sides works well.
Bake for eight to ten minutes at 350 degrees. (If it’s a hot July day, you can choose not to bake the crust. A baked crust holds together better because the heat melts the sugar to help hold the crumbs together.)

For the Filling

1 8-ounce packet of cream cheese, softened
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup pink lemonade concentrate (not mixed with water)
2 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
AmeriColor Red Red food coloring or equal

Using the whip attachment and your stand-type mixer or with a handheld electric mixer, mix the cream cheese until softened. Pour in the sweetened condensed milk very slowly while mixing to avoid clumps, scraping the bowl as you go.

Slowly add the lemonade concentrate and lemon juice and continue beating. Color with red food coloring as desired.
Pour the mixture into the pie shell or springform pan and place it in the freezer while you mix the topping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the Topping

1/3 cup shredded coconut
red food coloring
1 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the coconut in a small plastic zip top bag. Add a drop of food coloring and seal the bag, trapping air inside. Shake until the coconut turns pink.

Whip the cream until stiff, adding the sugar and vanilla in the process.

Wait until the pie filling is slightly stiff on top, and gently spoon the cream over the pie filling. Garnish with the pink coconut.
Freeze the pie until firm. Slice the pie with a warm, wet knife for smooth cuts.

Fudge Dreamcicles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When it’s blasted hot outside, there’s no better way to cool off than with a creamy, chocolately fudgesicle. Save money and a trip to the store by making your own. With only four ingredients, this recipe couldn’t be easier. With no baking or chopping required, this makes a great recipe for kids.

The secret’s in the cocoa

The only way to have really good fudgesicle is to use really good cocoa. We use our Ramstadt-Breda Dark Cocoa. It’s rich, smooth, and incredibly flavorful. This will make the difference between a good fudgesicle, and an exceptional one.

Ingredients

1 can 14-oz. sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup Ramstadt-Breda Dark Cocoa
1 tsp vanilla

Directions

1. Mix all ingredients together until smooth.
2. Pour into popsicle molds work the best, you could also use paper cups or even glass ramekins for more of a frozen custard feel.

Ice Cream Filled Cupcakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imagine a cool cupcake filled with your favorite ice cream. They’re easy to make. Just make regular cupcakes, core the centers, and fill them with ice cream. The frosting will hide the cuts.

Step 1: Make the cupcakes.

Step 2: Use a cupcake corer to hollow out the cupcakes.

Step 3: Fill them with ice cream.

Step 4: Frost them and freeze them

You’ll have a cold cupcake filled with ice cream. We recommend buttercream frosting. It’s light and when it freezes, it’s almost like ice cream. Cool treat. The kids will love them; the adults will be impressed.

Dennis Weaver is the founder of The Prepared Pantry. He is the author of How to Bake, a 318 page book about the art and science of baking. You can download a free copy of How to Bake here. Kindle, Nook and iPad versions available.

Copyright © Dennis Weaver :: The Prepared Pantry :: Grandma’s Home Blogger Place :: All Rights Reserved

Monthly Food Column – How to Make Skillet Cornbread

How to Make Skillet Cornbread

 

 

 

 

 

By Dennis Weaver of The Prepared Pantry

 

 

My favorite cornbread is skillet cornbread. And Merri Ann can’t eat gluten so skillet cornbread is perfect for her—it relies on eggs for the structure, not flour. We’ve made it so often that it has evolved from a series of recipes to a technique. Using a ratio of ingredients, we use this technique to make both sweet and savory cornbread—whatever we are in the mood for—from Jalapeño Cheese Cornbread to Banana Nut Cornbread.

 

 

Today we’ll tell you how to make your own cornbread and give you several recipes to get you started.

 

 

 

 

Apple and Bacon Cornbread

 

 

 

 

 

 

At first glance, this is similar to our Cheddar and Bacon Cornbread but it is really quite different, a sweeter cornbread with a different texture. Apple and bacon are a wonderful combination. Instead of cheese, it’s made with melted butter and with maple syrup, it is a little sweeter. Again, it is an egg-rich, skillet cornbread and a flourless recipe.

 

 

Ingredients

 

1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 melted butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 pound bacon
1 1/2 medium sized apples, finely diced or shredded with peel

 

 

Directions

 

 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

 

1. Fry the bacon to a crisp, pat the grease from the bacon with paper towels, and crumble or chop the bacon.
2. In a large bowl, stir together the cornmeal, baking powder, salt and spices.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs then stir in the milk, melted butter, and maple syrup plus the bacon and apples.
4. Form a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix with a spatula until well combined.
5. Bake in a ten-inch, nonstick skillet for 20 minutes or until all but the center of the cornbread is set. Remove the cornbread from the oven and immediately sprinkle the reserved cheese over the cornbread to melt. Serve hot with butter and maple syrup.

 

 

Pepper Jack Cornbread

 

 

This is great cornbread. It is best eaten on a plate with a fork, maybe drizzled with maple syrup.

 

You will need a heavy, ovenproof skillet for this cornbread. This recipe was designed for a ten-inch skillet.

 

 

If pepper jack cheese is not your thing, cheddar or Monterey jack may be substituted

 

 

Ingredients

 

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 15-ounce can of corn kernels, well drained
11/2 cups grated pepper jack cheese, lightly pressed in a cup for measurement
2 tablespoons butter

 

 

Directions

 

 

1. Place a ten-inch, ovenproof skillet or frying pan on the middle shelf in the oven. (A heavy-duty or cast iron skillet works best.) Set the oven temperature to 400 degrees and let the oven heat while the pan is in the oven.
2. In a large bowl, stir together the cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
3. Add the eggs, milk, and corn kernels and stir until well combined. Fold in the cheese.
4. Remove the hot pan from the oven and place the butter in the hot pan. Place the pan back in the oven for a minute or two to allow it to melt.
5. Remove the pan from the oven and pour in the cornbread mixture.
6. Bake the cornbread for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of the pan comes out clean.

 

Serve warm drizzled with maple syrup.

 

 

Texas Chili Cornbread

 

 

This recipe was adapted from Baking in America by Greg Patent. (We recommend this book.) For our version of this recipe, we used chiles instead of jalapenos, red bell pepper instead of pimentos, and garlic powder instead of clove garlic but feel free to experiment.

 

 

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped and diced
1/2 medium sized onion, chopped and diced
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 4-oz can diced green chiles, drained (less if you prefer a less spicy bread)
1 cup corn kernels–fresh, frozen, or canned
11/2 cups grated cheese, cheddar or jack

 

 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a ten-inch skillet and place it on the middle shelf in the oven.
In a large bowl, stir together the cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs then stir in the rest of the ingredients, reserving 1/2 cup of the grated cheese.
Form a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix with a spatula until well combined.
Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven and immediately pour the batter into the pan. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and return to the oven.
Let bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the pan comes out clean. The top will be a rich, golden brown. Let cool for ten minutes before unmolding.

 

 

Here’s How to Make Your Own Cornbread Recipe

 

 

Skillet cornbread is very forgiving. Consider the following as guidelines and a palette for creating your own masterpieces. Build a basic cornbread batter and add whatever you are in the mood for. Here are some suggestions for additions:

 

 

• Bacon snipped into pieces
• Chopped ham
• Diced onions (consider steaming them in the microwave until partially cooked)
• Diced bell peppers
• Jalapeño peppers
• Sun-dried tomatoes
• Herbs
• Pimento
• Chilies
• Fresh or canned corn (one 15-ounce can well drained of one cup fresh or frozen kernels)
• Grated cheese (add up to 1 1/2 cups)
• Dried fruit (cranberries are a favorite)
• Applesauce
• Bananas (up to two ripe bananas)
• Chopped walnuts, (3/4 cup seems about right)
• Chopped apple (one apple finely chopped and unpeeled)

 

What are some of our favorites? We like savory cornbreads with plenty of cheese and onions or bell peppers. Pepper jack cheese is good when you are in the mood for something spicy. When making savory cornbread, we usually add corn kernels. Banana nut cornbread is very good. (The banana taste is even more pronounced the second day.) Try it with a teaspoon of allspice or cinnamon. We made a cranapple nut the other day that was very good. (Made with one apple, 1/2 cup dried cranberries, and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts.)

 

 

Be sure and refrigerate any leftovers. Cut the cornbread into wedges and wrap them in plastic wrap.

 

 

Here’s how to make your cornbread:
You will need a ten-inch, ovenproof skillet. A heavy metal skillet is best. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with the skillet in the oven.

 

 

1. Cornmeal. Place 1 1/2 cups cornmeal in a medium bowl. If you are going to use corn kernels, reduce the cornmeal to one cup. If you would like a softer grain to your cornbread, add the liquids and eggs to the cornmeal and refrigerate it for an hour so that the cornmeal grains absorb the liquid.

 

 

2. Eggs. Add three large eggs to the cornmeal. It’s the eggs that are going to give your cornmeal structure and hold it together.

 

 

3. Fat. Cornbread tends to be dry and the addition of an oil or fat is essential for a moister cornbread. Without adequate fat, your cornbread will be dry. The eggs provide some of the fat. Bananas or applesauce reduce some of the need for fat. Use melted butter or vegetable oil. If you are using cheese, bananas, or applesauce, 1/4 cup will do. (We suspect that you can leave it out all together with a cheesy cornbread.) Other wise, use 1/2 cup. Add the fat when you add the eggs.

 

4. Spices and salt. Generally use 1/2 teaspoon salt. If you are using cheese, you may reduce it to 1/4 teaspoon. Add whatever spices you choose. One teaspoon of allspice or cinnamon is about right. You can add the salt and spices anytime.

 

 

5. Sweetener. For a savory cornbread, one teaspoon of sugar or honey will do. For a sweeter cornbread, we use up to two tablespoons. Add it anytime.

 

6. Leavening. You can get by without any leavening but we prefer to add 1 teaspoon of baking powder. (If you do not use baking powder, increase the salt by 1/4 teaspoon since baking powder contains sodium.) Since baking powder looses potency after sitting in the batter, add the leavening just before the “additions” and soon before baking.

 

 

7. “Additions”. Stir in the additions of choice.

 

8. Liquid. You will likely need some liquid to make the batter soft and of the right consistency. It should be barely pourable. The amount of the liquid will be determined by the moisture content of the additions but you will need anywhere from a couple tablespoons to one cup. Stir in the liquids after the additions. We usually use milk but you can use what you want from water to a juice.

 

 

Mix all ingredients well. Notice that this is a one-bowl technique.

 

 

Remove the hot pan from the oven being careful not to burn yourself. Add one tablespoon of butter and tip the pan from side to side until the butter is melted and the bottom and sides of the pan are covered. Add the batter to the pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the top is golden. Serve hot and refrigerate any leftovers.

 

 

We often serve our cornbread, even savory cornbread, with hot maple syrup. Our gourmet fruit syrups open up some very nice combinations. Jams Jams or just a pat of butter work well too.

 

 

Dennis Weaver is the founder of The Prepared Pantry. He is the author of How to Bake, a 250 page book about the art and science of baking. You can download a free copy of How to Bake here.

 

 

Copyright © Dennis Weaver :: The Prepared Pantry :: Grandma’s Home Blogger Place :: All Rights Reserved

Monthly Food Column – Candy Popcorn Easter Eggs

 

 

 

By Dennis Weaver From The Prepared Pantry

 

 

 

 

 

Make adorable popcorn balls that don’t just look great, but taste fabulous as well. These popcorn eggs make the perfect Easter treat, and kids will love to form the balls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We made these Easter eggs with Marsden and Bathe Flavors such as; huckleberry, green apple, apricot, cherry, blueberry, and root beer. Experimenting with flavors is half the fun. 🙂

 

 

 

We then used Americolor food coloring gels to make our Easter eggs bright and festive. These colors are nine times more concentrated than liquid food gels and they come in 27 colors, so you can make endless varieties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to make candy popcorn:

 

 

3/4 cup un-popped popcorn kernels
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup white corn syrup (Karo)
1/4 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 teaspoons desired flavor
3-4 drops of Americolor food coloring gel or equal

 

Pop the popcorn kernels with a popcorn popper. Set aside in 2 large bowls.

 

Over medium heat, melt the butter in a medium sauce pan.
Add the corn syrup and water. Stir.
Add the sugar. Make sure not to let any sugar stick to the edges of the pan. If one grain of sugar is left un-dissolved, it can cause the whole batch to crystallize.

 

 

Bring to a boil and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 235-245 degrees. (Please use a candy thermometer). It is
important for the mixture to reach this temperature, if it doesn’t the candy will not harden properly.

 

 

Add the baking soda and stir quickly as the mixture begins to bubble. Once bubbly and frothy, remove the pan from heat.
Add the flavor and food coloring until mixed in.

 

 

Pour over the popped popcorn in both bowls. Fold into the popcorn until evenly coated.
Once the popcorn has cooled slightly, take a handful and squeeze it in your hands to form an egg shape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tip: If you plan on making several different flavors/colors of popcorn do them all in separate batches. If you were to separate the mixture after cooking a large batch and add color/flavor to each, the mixture will have cooled too much and you will not achieve the right temperature for making candy popcorn.

 

 

Dennis Weaver is the founder of The Prepared Pantry. He is the author of How to Bake, a 250 page book about the art and science of baking. You can download a free copy of How to Bake here.

 

 

 

Copyright © Dennis Weaver :: The Prepared Pantry :: Grandma’s Home Blogger Place :: All Rights Reserved

 

Monthly Food Column – How to Make a Pie as Easy as a Peanut Butter Sandwich

(Okay, maybe not quite that easy but pretty darned easy)

 

By: Dennis Weaver @ The Prepared Pantry

 

 

People are intimidated by pies. They shouldn’t be. You can make pies as good as the bake shop—even fancy pies. And they’re yours. And you’ll save a bucket of money.

 

 

 

 

If you have ever had trouble with pies in the past, you won’t again. This is your answer.

 

 

How to Bake the Perfect Crust

 

 

It’s the crusts that intimidate people. Throw away the recipe—the recipe for the crust is definitely more complicated than a PB sandwich. You have to cut the butter or shortening into the flour with a pastry knife. You have to keep the dough cold, work quickly, and don’t handle the dough too much.

 

 

Forget all that. Grab a mix. A mix is darned near foolproof. Just add water. Beat it with the paddle in your stand-type mixer for no more than a minute. You’re done.

 

 

 

How to Make Your Pie Crust Pretty in 3 Easy Steps

 

 

 

 

A good crust is not necessarily a pretty crust. Here’s how to make it pretty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sprinkle a little flour on the counter and roll out the dough until it is a little thinner than 1/4 inch thick. You may need to sprinkle a little flour on the rolling pin. (Do yourself a favor and buy two of these shakers. Fill one with flour and the other with powdered sugar. (You’ll be amazed how often you use them.)

 

 

 

Transfer the dough to the pie pan. Trim the edges using a sharp knife or a bench scraper.

 

 

 

Make the edges pretty. It’s easier to show you than to tell. Once you’ve done it. It’s simple. Watch the video Here. You’re done.

 

 

If you need a pre-baked crust, fill the crust with ceramic pie weights , or a pie chain weight and bake. If not, load it with a filling. Sometimes, you’ll need a top crust. Add it, trim it, and flute it in the same way. (Make sure you press the bottom and top dough sheets together with a fork before forming the edge so it doesn’t leak.)

 

 

 

Cut vent holes and bake. Even easier, cover the top with streusel. Use this easy streusel mix.

 

 

You’ve still got to bake your pie.

 

 

There are two faults with baked pie crusts: The top edges can burn and the bottom can be soggy, under baked. You can solve both those problems with equipment.

 

 

 

Use dark pie pans. Dark pie pans absorb and distribute the heat. Your bottom crust will be browned and crisp. (These are pretty amazing pans. You can slide your pie out of the pan and onto a plate for cutting and serving.)

 

 

 

Cover the top edge of the pie with a pie shield. Those top edges take a beating in the oven. By the time the bottom crust is baked, the top is burned. A pie shield stops that. Use one every time you put a pie in the oven. You’re ready to go!

 

 

 

Grab some recipes and start making some easy pies. Once you’ve made a couple pies, they’ll be as easy as peanut butter sandwiches—almost. You’ll be the designated pie baker at family reunions, church socials, and with friends. No more expensive trips to the bake shop.

 

 

 

Fresh Peach (or Strawberry) White Chocolate French Silk Pie Recipe

 

If you have fresh peaches, consider this incredibly good French silk pie. If it is not peach season, consider making this pie with strawberries or mangos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A French silk pie is usually made with dark chocolate; this one uses white chocolate. They are usually made with raw eggs. In this recipe, they are cooked.

 

 

 

1 nine-inch deep dish pie shell, baked and cooled

3 large eggs

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 quarter-ounce packet non-flavored gelatin

1 tablespoons water

10 ounces white chocolate wafers or other quality coating or eating chocolate

1/2 cup butter cut into pieces and softened

1 cup whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla flavor

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 cups fresh peaches peeled and diced peaches for garnish and topping

 

 

 

Mix the sugar and gelatin powder together. Add the eggs, sugar mixture, and water to a large sauce pan. Cook the egg and sugar mixture over low to medium low heat while beating constantly with an electric mixture. Continue cooking and beating until the mixture starts to thicken and reaches 165 degrees being careful not to scorch the eggs. Remove from heat.

 

 

 

Immediately mix the butter into the hot egg mixture with the electric mixer until smooth. As soon as the butter is melted and while the mixture is still hot, add the white chocolate wafers. Continue beating until it is completely mixed together and cooled to room temperature.

 

 

 

Whip the first measure of whipping cream in your stand-type mixer with the whip attachment until stiff peaks form. Add the vanilla flavor. Add the peaches.

 

 

 

Change from the whip attachment to the paddle attachment. Scrape the white chocolate mixture into the bowl with the whipped cream. Turn the mixer onto the slow speed setting and gently fold the chocolate mixture into the whipped cream. Mix for less than a minute, until the white chocolate is mixed into the whipped cream. Scrape the filling into the prepared pie pan. Set aside and let chill.

 

 

 

When you are about ready to serve, whip the second measure of whipping cream. As the cream is whipping and after the peaks start to form, drizzle in the sugar and add the flavor. Beat until stiff peaks form. Top your pie with peaches and whipped cream.

 

 

 

Dennis Weaver is the founder of The Prepared Pantry.

 

He is the author of How to Be a Better Baker, a 250 page book about the art and science of baking. You can download a free copy of How to Be a Better Baker here.

Copyright © Dennis Weaver :: The Prepared Pantry :: Grandma’s Home Blogger Place :: All Rights Reserved

Monthly Food Column – A Guide to Cookie (& Cupcake) Decorations

Brought to you by The Prepared Pantry

A Guide to Cookie (& Cupcake) Decorations

Cookie decorations are the cookie baker’s best friend. It means that you can bake, frost, sprinkle, and you’re done. But what can you sprinkle them with? We’ll show you. Plus we’ll give you alternatives to sprinkling.

Immediately after frosting your cupcakes, sprinkle decorations on them. If the frosting starts to dry, the decorations won’t stick.

How to Bake Great Sugar Cookies

What are the secrets to great sugar cookies?

First, add flavors and colors to your frosting. Don’t make them plain. Make them interesting and flavorful. (It’s more effective to add flavor to the frosting than the dough.) Be a little creative with your flavors. Choose blackberry or apricot or caramel

Choose a color. Gel food colors will give you better control over your colors than liquid food colors and there is a myriad of colors available.

Second, don’t over bake them. If you roll your dough thin, they’ll bake in six or seven minutes and tend to be crisp. If you roll them thicker—as I like them—they’ll bake in eight to ten minutes. They’ll be softer and moist.

Decorating Sugar

Decorating sugar or “sanding sugar” comes in an array of colors, both pastel colors like sage and lavender and primary colors—solid red, black, green and more. It also comes in blended combinations of colors.

Decorating sugars come in fine grain and larger crystals, AA being the largest that is commonly available.

You can also buy white sugar, add a drop of food color, and stain the sugar any color you wish. We sell 27 different food colors so you can color your sugar just the right shade.

Metallic Sugar Crystals

Metallic sugar crystals come in sliver and gold. We used these for my daughter’s wedding. They really do look like metallic pieces, pieces of gold or silver but the silver pieces are less shiny and remind me of pewter. They are larger than AA sugar crystals. These are distinctive, classy decorations.

Jimmies

Jimmies are another choice (PPJimmies are our brand name for jimmies decorations). They come in a choice of colors and in blended colors. To me they are very nearly flavorless except for chocolate jimmies which I like.

Bark Decorations

Recently we discovered bark decorations. Bark is a combination of chopped candy and white chocolate pieces. You may know of almond bark and peppermint bark. For decorations, the candy is chopped into pieces.

The candy is intensely flavored so instead of just making your cupcakes pretty, you get a burst of flavor. My favorites are lemon cream, cherry, and strawberry cheesecake.

For me, these are top-of-the-line decorations. I love adding flavor, not just color to the cookies. If there is a downside to bark, it is that there are fines in the mixture. Those can be removed with a sieve.

Other Decorations

There are other decorations available, not as often used. Wilton makes some luscious toppings and we carry them. The turtle candy topping is noteworthy. We also carry some cute little candy discs.

Free! A Baker’s Cookie Guide

A Three Volume Cookie Cookbook

You will get three volumes of recipes, tips, and
techniques—everything you need to make perfect cookies.

Would you like to bake perfect cookies? Learn to troubleshoot cookies? Or even make cookies without baking?

We’ll give you “A Baker’s Cookie Guide” to help you bake those perfect
cookies!

You’ll get :

Dozens of recipes
A Baker’s Cookie Guide: Tips and Techniques for Better Cookies
How to Troubleshoot Cookies
Save Time with No-Bake Cookies (with Recipes)
The Joys of Refrigerator Cookies

Get your free guide now. Just tell us where to send it.

Decorating Sugar Cookies with Fondant Frosting

You can decorate your sugar cookies with fondant instead of spreadable frosting. (The cookies in the picture are chocolate sugar cookies but you can choose others.)
You can buy premade fondant in most craft stores or from The Prepared Pantry. We carry white fondant as well as colored fondant. You can also use food coloring gels to tint the fondant the desired color.

Watch this video to see how to decorate with fondant

How to decorate the edges of a cookie

It’s fun to decorate the edges of a cookie; you can do that with refrigerator cookies.

Cookies with minimal spread work best for decorating. For best results, look for recipes that have a higher flour to sugar ratio or for those without leavening (refrigerator cookies with a high sugar content are usually light and crisp because the sugar in the dough melts in the heat of the oven. Cookies without leavening tend to be rich and shortbread- like but decorate nicely. The Festive Fruit and Oat Cookies and The Coconut Cranberry Cookies are perfect for edge decorating).

Use large colored sugar crystals, turbinado sugar decorating sprinkles, decorating jimmies, crushed candies, or nuts. Simply roll the log of dough in the decorating materials prior to slicing the cookies. If you roll the log with the sugar or other decorations in waxed paper or parchment paper, you can press them into the surface of the dough.

Some instructors use an egg white wash to assure that the candies stick to the log. Except for nuts, we don’t. We don’t find it necessary and the moisture from the egg white tends to melt the candies or sugar crystals into a blurry mess.

To showcase the edges, we usually cut the slices just a bit thicker before baking. We color white sugar crystals any color we like by mixing a few drops of food coloring with the crystals. You can buy large bags of white crystals to make a collection of different colors. Turbinado is an excellent coating sugar with its amber color and large crystals . Learn more about turbinado sugar.

Dennis Weaver is the founder of The Prepared Pantry. He is the author of How to Bake, a 250 page book about the art and science of baking. You can download a free copy of How to Bake here.

Copyright © Dennis Weaver :: The Prepared Pantry :: Grandma’s Home Blogger Place :: All Rights Reserved

Monthly Food Column – Easy Scrumptious Filled Cinnamon Rolls

By Dennis Weaver From The Prepared Pantry

I love making sweet rolls. They’re not quick but they’re easy.

You can make sweet rolls a thousand different ways. And they’re hero food. They can be so good that your family and friends will make a hero out of you.

Last week, Julie Rencher in our test kitchen was the hero. She made really good sweet rolls—apple pie cinnamon rolls plus lemon cream rolls and raspberry cream rolls. She made them like cinnamon rolls but substituted pastry fillings for the cinnamon and sugar fillings typically found in cinnamon rolls.

She made them; I handed them out. I handed out apple pie cinnamon rolls while they were still warm and covered with caramel frosting. People were swooning over them. One fine lady said she didn’t like to bake, that she was just picking up pancake mixes and syrups. But she sure liked the cinnamon rolls.

“I don’t want to make them,” she said. “I just want to buy the baker.”

I explained that they were easy to make. She listened and for a minute; I thought she might be persuaded. She left without the fixin’s but she didn’t leave hungry.

How to Make Cinnamon Rolls with Pastry Fillings

If you can make cinnamon rolls, you can make filled sweet rolls. 😉

You can use a bread recipe, but to make it even easier—easy enough for non-bread makers—use a mix. You can make it with your bread machine set on the dough cycle or with your stand-type mixer.

If you use your stand-type mixer, use the dough hook and let it beat for about four minutes on medium speed. The gluten will be developed then. Roll the dough out on the counter, cover the sheet of dough with a layer of filling and roll it up pinwheel fashion. Cut slices, put them in a greased pan, and let them rise. When fully risen, bake them, let them cool, and frost them.

It’s that easy. I’ll give you more directions in the recipes but basically, you’re substituting a pastry filling for a filling of cinnamon, butter, and sugar. You can use any pastry filling you like from raspberry to Bavarian cream. Often, we mix a fruit filling with a Bavarian cream or a cream cheese filling to make an apple cream or raspberry cream filling.

If you buy a tube of premade filling, it’s super easy. Snip the corner off the tube and squeeze what you want on the sheet of rolled out dough. Lots of filling is better so we usually use a couple cups of filling, about half a tube. We have a new cherry filling, Chubby Cherry that makes great sweet rolls.

Pastry Fillings vs. Pie Fillings

Can you use a pie filling instead of a pastry filling? Yes, but the pastry filling is better. With a pie, you get a little bit of pastry with a lot of pie filling where with a pastry, you get a lot of pastry with less filling. The pastry filling has to be more intense to balance. The pastry filing has more flavor and is usually a little sweeter. In our store, the pastry filings are usually less money.

The following pastry fillings are commonly available. They are used not only as pastry filings but fillings for cupcakes and between layers of cakes.

Bavarian Cream
Chocolate Bavarian Cream
Cream Cheese
Raspberry
Blueberry
Cherry
Lemon
Apple

Apple Pie Cinnamon Roll Recipe

1 bread mix,Buttermilk White
Sour Cream Potato Rolls, or equal
3/4 cup cinnamon chips
2 cups (about one pound)apple pastry filling

Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)

1/4 cup Sweet Sensations Cinnamon Apple Bark Topping (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x13-inch baking pan.

Mix the bread dough according to package directions. Set the dough aside to rise.

After the dough has risen, fold in the cinnamon chips kneading until the chips are dispersed. Do not knead more than necessary.
Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rough rectangle on a floured counter with the dough about 1/4-inch thick. Spread the pastry filling on dough.

Roll the dough into a log with the filling trapped inside. Pinch the seam with your fingers to keep the filling from falling out.

Cut slices horizontally about 1 1/4-inches thick. Place the slices in the prepared pan. Bake for about 30 minutes or until done. The center of the rolls will register 190 degrees with an insta-read thermometer. Times will vary with different pans.

You may let the rolls cool in the pan. We prefer to invert the pan onto a cutting board to remove the rolls (you may need to loosen the rolls first) and then invert the rolls and the cutting board onto a wire rack so that they finish cooling right-side-up. (If you are going to remove the rolls, do so immediately before the sugar starts to set up. If you have trouble getting the rolls out, lift the cutting board six inches with the pan inverted on the cutting board and then drop the cutting board with the pan to jar the rolls loose.)

Let the rolls cool for five minutes and then frost them. While the frosting is still soft, sprinkle with the Cinnamon Apple Bark Topping.

Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces of cream cheese, softened.
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon caramel flavoring
2 tablespoons milk
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar

Beat the butter and cream cheese together with the whip attachment of your stand-type mixer.
Add the flavor and milk. Beat the mixture, adding powdered sugar until the consistency reaches a soft frosting just right for spreading.

Lemon Cream Roll Recipe

1 bread mix,Buttermilk White
Sour Cream Potato Rolls or equal
2 cups (about one pound) lemon pastry filling

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)

1/4 cup Sweet Sensations Lemon Cream Bark Topping (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x13-inch baking pan.

Mix the bread dough according to package directions. Set the dough aside to rise.

Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rough rectangle on a floured counter with the dough about 1/4-inch thick. Spread the pastry filling on dough. Roll the dough into a log with the filling trapped inside. Pinch the seam with your fingers to keep the filling from falling out.

Cut slices horizontally about 1 1/4-inches thick. Place the slices in the prepared pan. Bake for about 30 minutes or until done. The center of the rolls will register 190 degrees with an insta-read thermometer. Times will vary with different pans.

You may let the rolls cool in the pan. We prefer to invert the pan onto n cutting board to remove the rolls (you may need to loosen the rolls first) and then invert the rolls and the cutting board onto a wire rack so that they finish cooling right-side-up. (If you are going to remove the rolls, do so immediately before the sugar starts to set up. If you have trouble getting the rolls out, lift the cutting board six inches with the pan inverted on the cutting board and then drop the cutting board with the pan to jar the rolls loose.)

Let the rolls cool for five minutes and then frost them. While the frosting is still soft, sprinkle with the Lemon Cream Bark Topping.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces of cream cheese, softened.
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon lemon flavoring
2 tablespoons milk
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar

Beat the butter and cream cheese together with the whip attachment of your stand-type mixer.
Add the flavor and milk. Beat the mixture, adding powdered sugar until the consistency reaches a soft frosting just right for spreading.

How to Make Raspberry Cream Rolls

1 bread mix, Buttermilk White
Sour Cream Potato Rolls or equal
3/4 cup raspberry baking chips
1 cup (about 1/2 pound)raspberry pastry filling
1 cup (about 1/2 pound)Bavarian Cream pastry filling

Raspberry Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x13-inch baking pan.

Mix the bread dough according to package directions. Set the dough aside to rise.

After the dough has risen, fold in the raspberry chips kneading until the chips are dispersed. Do not knead more than necessary.
Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rough rectangle on a floured counter with the dough about 1/4-inch thick.

Spread the pastry fillings on dough. Spread the fillings evenly on the dough with the two flavors mixed together. Roll the dough into a log with the filling trapped inside. Pinch the seam with your fingers to keep the filling from falling out

Cut slices horizontally about 1 1/4-inches thick. Place the slices in the prepared pan. Bake for about 30 minutes or until done. The center of the rolls will register 190 degrees with an insta-read thermometer. Times will vary with different pans.

You may let the rolls cool in the pan. We prefer to invert the pan onto a cutting board to remove the rolls (you may need to loosen the rolls first) and then invert the rolls and the cutting board onto a wire rack so that they finish cooling right-side-up. (If you are going to remove the rolls, do so immediately before the sugar starts to set up. If you have trouble getting the rolls out, lift the cutting board six inches with the pan inverted on the cutting board and then drop the cutting board with the pan to jar the rolls loose.)

Let the rolls cool for five minutes and then frost them.

Raspberry Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces of cream cheese, softened.
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon raspberry flavoring
1/2 teaspoon vanilla flavoring
2 tablespoons milk
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar

Beat the butter and cream cheese together with the whip attachment of your stand-type mixer.
Add the flavors and milk. Beat the mixture, adding powdered sugar until the consistency reaches a soft frosting just right for spreading.

Dennis Weaver is the author of the popular 250-page ebook How to Bake. You can get your free copy of this culinary-school type book, as well as another free e-book called Monkey Bread and Other Sweet Breads Baking Guide on the Prepared Pantry website
.

Copyright © Dennis Weaver :: The Prepared Pantry :: Grandma’s Home Blogger Place :: All Rights Reserved

Monthly Food Column – Wonderful Cupcakes—Even for Decorating Dummies

By Dennis Weaver of The Prepared Pantry

I’m a decorating dummy. We have plenty of people that that are naturally talented but somehow, I missed that line. I can make reasonably attractive cupcakes by sticking with a few basic techniques. I can make cupcakes that taste good. And that’s my priority—making them taste good. But they still need to be reasonably attractive.

How to Make Your Cupcakes Taste Better

Because it’s easy, I usually use a box cake mix. But a box won’t win any culinary awards. So I enhance my box cupcakes, and make them taste better in the following manner:

Add goodies to the batter. Usually, I add cinnamon chips or raspberry, strawberry, or blueberry tidbits. You can add nuts or coconut. You can add chocolate or other baking chips. Add 3/4 to one cup chips or tidbits. Fold them in after the batter is mixed so that they don’t melt in mixing and tint your batter.

Add flavors and colors to the batter. You have an incredible array of flavor choices with warm flavors like butterscotch or caramel and fruit flavors from apricot to blackberry. To get enough flavor, it will usually take two teaspoons flavor. Add a coordinating color. Americolor professional food color gels come in 27 colors.

Add a filling. I don’t remember the last time that I made cupcakes without a filling. It’s just too easy and adds too much. Use premade pastry fillings. Snip a quarter-inch corner off the bag, insert the cut corner in the top of the cupcake, and squeeze. When you frost the cupcakes, you’ll cover the holes. You can fill a dozen cupcakes in a minute. I use Bavarian cream pastry filling most often but I also love raspberry and lemon. They’re all good.

Make the frosting good. There are a ton of great frosting recipes out there. I love butter and cream cheese based frostings. Seven Minute Frosting is very good. I don’t care for shortening. A half teaspoon of flavor and couple drops of color can transform an ordinary frosting into something memorable.

Add toppings that taste good. Most toppings are sugar and color. They’re for show, not flavor. And I’m not too fond of big chunks of candy on my cupcakes. Our new favorite toppings are the chopped bark toppings. They pack a lot of flavor. If you load your cupcakes up, you’ll add a layer of flavor to your cupcakes.

You can add more flavor to your cupcakes by spreading a layer of jam or pastry filling over the cupcakes before adding frosting. That’s especially easy to do if you’re piping frosting onto the cupcakes rather than spreading the frosting.

How to Make Your Cupcakes Pretty

Even a decorating dummy like me can make cupcakes reasonably pretty. I love making Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes (they’re very good) because all I have to do is dip the cupcake tops in melted chocolate and let the chocolate set.

But here are some other suggestions:

Use pretty colors and pretty decorations. There is no reason not to use pretty colors and colorful decorations. We have 27 colors, 16 colors of jimmies, and decorating sugars, not just in standard colors but less used colors from black to sage. Chopped bark toppings are two-toned, are pretty, and add flavor. Decorations go a long way in masking imperfections in the frosting.

Don’t be afraid of a pastry bag. For most cupcakes, we use a pastry bag; it’s faster and easier than spreading frosting. If we have a lot of cupcakes to do, we use a large disposable pastry bag and either a star tip or a round tip.

A Note about Bark Toppings: To Sprinkle or Dip?

Bark—like almond bark—is a confectioner’s delight, a melding of white chocolate with another candy. This bark is cut into pieces perfect for cookies, cakes, and cupcakes. The nuggets are full of flavor. They are also pretty, two-toned.

If you are only interested in pretty, sprinkle the toppings on your cupcakes. (Be sure and set the cupcakes on a plate so that you can recover any sprinkles that slide off the cupcakes.) If you want pretty and flavor, dip your cupcakes to get more decorations on your cupcakes. To do so, fill a small bowl with topping–a bowl slightly larger than a cupcake is perfect. And then invert the cupcakes into the bowl with a rocking motion to cover the top with pieces.

The Recipes

Caramel Apple Cupcake Recipe

This is a terrific apple cupcake recipe. The cupcakes are made with a box cake mix–either yellow or white—with cinnamon chips added. They are made with an apple filling, a caramel frosting, and topped with cinnamon apple bark topping.

Make a batch of cupcakes with a boxed yellow or white cake mix. Add 3/4 cup cinnamon chips to the finished batter. Bake the cupcakes. Let them cool on a rack.

Snip a quarter-inch corner off a bag of apple pastry filling. Insert the snipped corner into the top of a cupcake. Squeeze to fill the center of the cupcake. Repeat with the remainder of the cupcakes.

Make the frosting—the recipe follows—and frost the cupcakes.
Decorate with cinnamon apple bark topping or other decorations.

Caramel Frosting

This is a great caramel frosting and firm enough that you can spread if you like. No cooking is required.

1/2 cup (one stick) butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon caramel flavor
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the brown sugar.

Cook and stir until the sugar is melted and bubbly. Remove from the heat.
Add the milk and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add the flavor.

Add the powdered sugar and beat until it reaches spearing consistency. Spread the frosting while it is still warm.

Lemon Cream Cupcake Recipe

These are wonderful creamy cupcakes with a bright, lemon flavor. The cake is lemon, the filling is lemon, the frosting is a lemon cream cheese frosting, and it’s topped with lemon bark.

Make a batch of lemon cupcakes with a boxed lemon cake mix. Let them cool on a rack.

Snip a quarter-inch corner off a bag of lemon pastry filling. Insert the snipped corner into the top of a cupcake.

Squeeze to fill the center of the cupcake. Repeat with the remainder of the cupcakes.

Make the frosting—the recipe follows—and frost the cupcakes.
Decorate with lemon bark topping or other decorations.

Creamy Lemon Frosting

This is a great frosting for lemon lovers. It’s a creamy frosting made with cream cheese that packs a lot of flavor. It works well with a pastry bag. No cooking is required.

6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (one stick) butter, softened
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar
zest from one lemon

Beat cream cheese, butter, and lemon juice together with an electric mixer.
Add three cups powdered sugar and beat until well mixed and fluffy. Add more as necessary to reach the desired consistency. Add the zest.

Black Forest Cupcake Recipe

Black forest is a mixture of chocolate and cherry. We used a boxed cake mix and filled the cupcakes with cherry pastry filling.

We used a chocolate buttercream frosting mix and added a teaspoon of cherry flavoring. We sprinkled the cupcakes with Black Forest bark topping.

This recipe makes great cupcakes.
Make a batch of chocolate cupcakes with a boxed cake mix. Let them cool on a rack.

Snip a quarter-inch corner off a bag of cherry pastry filling. Insert the snipped corner into the top of a cupcake. Squeeze to fill the center of the cupcake. Repeat with the remainder of the cupcakes.

Spread a thin layer of cherry pastry filing on the tops of the cupcakes.
Make a chocolate buttercream frosting.

We used a chocolate buttercream frosting mix. Add a teaspoon of cherry flavoring. Frost the cupcakes.
Decorate with black forest bark topping or other decorations.

Wild Blueberries and Cream Cupcake Recipe

These are blueberry cupcakes in five ways.

There are blueberry tidbits in the batter, the centers are filled with blueberry pastry filling, the frosting is made with a wild blueberry flavor, the topping is Wild Blueberries and Cream bark topping, and each cupcake is decorated with a fresh blueberry.

Make a batch of cupcakes with a boxed white cake mix. After the batter is mixed, add 3/4 cup blueberry tidbits. Bake the cupcakes and let them cool on a rack.

Snip a quarter-inch corner off a bag of blueberry pastry filling. Insert the snipped corner into the top of a cupcake. Squeeze to fill the center of the cupcake. Repeat with the remainder of the cupcakes.

Make your buttercream frosting. We used a vanilla buttercream frosting mix.

Add a teaspoon of wild blueberry flavoring and a drop or two of Electric Purple food color gel or a blue food color of your choice. Frost the cupcakes.

Decorate with Wild Blueberries and Cream bark topping or other decorations. Top each cupcake with a fresh blueberry.

Cinnamon Apple Pie Cupcake Recipe

If you like apple pie, you’ll love this cinnamon apple pie cupcake recipe. It’s a wonderful combination of cinnamon and apples.

Make a batch of yellow cupcakes with a boxed cake mix. After the batter is mixed, add 3/4 cup cinnamon chips. Bake the cupcakes and let them cool on a rack.

Snip a quarter-inch corner off a bag of apple pastry filling. Insert the snipped corner into the top of a cupcake.

Squeeze to fill the center of the cupcake. Repeat with the remainder of the cupcakes.
Make the frosting—the recipe follows—and frost the cupcakes.
Decorate with cinnamon apple bark topping or other decorations.

Browned Butter Frosting Recipe

1 1/2 cups butter
6 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 or 6 tablespoons milk as needed to reach the right consistency

Melt the butter in a small saucepan until it has started to brown.

Watch it closely. It should be just amber in color, not dark brown.

Let the browned butter cool for a few minutes then pour the clearer liquid off the top into a small bowl leaving the dark solids and a little liquid in the pan.

Place the browned butter in the refrigerator to cool for about an hour. It should cool to a gel.

Add the flavor and browned butter to the powdered sugar in a large bowl. Whip with an electric mixer. Thin with additions of milk as needed.
Frost and decorate as desired.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Cupcake Recipe

These strawberry cupcakes are filled with a strawberry cream cheese filling and topped with a flavored cream cheese frosting. They are topped with a strawberries and cream bark topping.

Make a batch of cupcakes with a boxed white cake mix. After the batter is mixed, add 3/4 cup raspberry tidbits and 1 teaspoon raspberry flavor. Bake the cupcakes and let them cool on a rack.

Snip a quarter-inch corner off a bag of cream cheese pastry filling. Insert the snipped corner into the top of a cupcake. Squeeze to fill the center of the cupcake. Repeat with the remainder of the cupcakes.

Make the frosting—the recipe follows—and frost the cupcakes.
Decorate with lemon bark topping or other decorations.

Creamy Strawberry Frosting

This is a creamy frosting made with cream cheese and strawberry flavor. You may add red food coloring or pink food coloring to tint it pink if you desire. It works well with pastry bag. No cooking is required.

6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (one stick) butter, softened
1 teaspoon strawberry flavor
3 to 4 cups powdered sugar
red or pink food coloring (optional)

Beat cream cheese, butter, and flavor together with an electric mixer.
Add three cups powdered sugar and beat until well mixed and fluffy. Add more as necessary to reach the desired consistency. Add the color.

Cherry Blossom Cupcake Recipe

These are wonderful cherry cupcakes with a bright, cherry flavor. The cake is white, the filling is cherry, the frosty is a light, fluffy, seven-minute frosting made with cherry flavor and just enough color to tint it cherry blossom pink. It’s topped with cherry bark.

Make a batch of cupcakes with a boxed white cake mix. Add a teaspoon of cherry flavor and a couple drops of red food coloring to the batter. Bake as directed on the package. Let them cool on a rack.

Snip a quarter-inch corner off a bag of cherry pastry filling. Insert the snipped corner into the top of a cupcake. Squeeze to fill the center of the cupcake. Repeat with the remainder of the cupcakes.

Make the frosting—the recipe follows—and frost the cupcakes.
Decorate with lemon bark topping or other decorations.

Cherry Flavored Seven Minute Frosting

Seven minute frosting is wonderful. Though it must be cooked, it’s easy to make: You whip it with an electric mixer as it cooks on the stovetop. At the end of the cooking, add the flavor and color. It works well with a pastry bag.

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/3 cup cold water
1 teaspoon cherry flavor
2 drops red food coloring

Combine the sugar, egg whites, cream of tartar and cold water in a large saucepan.

Beat with a handheld electric mixer for 30 seconds.

Place the pan over very low heat and cook for seven minutes beating continually or until stiff peaks form. Remove from the heat.

Add the flavor and color. Beat for two or three more minutes until the desired consistency is reached.

Dennis Weaver is the founder of The Prepared Pantry and the author of How to Bake, a 250 page book that you can get for free. You can get a dough press and other baking tools and supplies at the company’s store as well as a free e-book of yummy desserts at the company’s site.

Copyright © Dennis Weaver :: The Prepared Pantry :: Grandma’s Home Blogger Place :: All Rights Reserved

Monthly Food Column – Grandpa’s Orchard and Fully Loaded Apple Pies

By: Dennis Weaver Of The Prepared Pantry

My grandfather had a big orchard. At least it seemed so to us boys. We spent hours in that orchard—climbing trees, checking out bird nests, eating green apples, and doing what boys do. The outer row of trees had peach and plum trees and I don’t remember what else. We didn’t spend much time in that row. The inner rows always beckoned, more secretive and better to explore.

There was a giant, gnarled apricot tree with spreading branches that was easy to climb. There was a whole row of apple trees—Jonathans, Winesap, and I don’t remember what else. In the far corner of the orchard was a pillar of a pear tree with branches so thick and tall that it was difficult to climb and with a tangle of low plum bushes behind and along the fence. Beyond the plums and pears were the sand lots with sagebrush and scattered ponds with lots of frogs and an occasional jack rabbit. It was a boy’s paradise.

I remember picking apples at the end of the season with Mother and my brothers. “It’s going to snow,” she said. “We have to get all we want.”

The skies were leaden and we kept sticking our hands in our coat pockets to warm them up. The wind found its way through the orchard to bite our noses and turn our cheeks red. But the apples were incredibly good–cold, crisp, and sweet. We picked bushels to take home and store in our covered porch where we could have them until late in the winter.

I learned how to bake apple pies from my mother. I don’t recall her using a recipe. She would roll out the dough and line a pie pan. She would toss peeled and sliced apples in cinnamon, sugar, and flour. She would load up the pie pan and place chinks of butter over the apples before covering it with a top crust. In my memory, her pies were the best.

Rarely do I use a recipe when I make an apple pie. I just load and bake as my mother did. But I’m prone to add ingredients that my mother often didn’t have—bright red cranberries either fresh or dried, golden raisins, sour cream, or caramel sauce—whatever sounds good at the moment. I have a choice of cinnamons; she had whatever was at the store. She would put one of her boys at the sink peeling the apples; I use an Apple Master. I don’t think my pies are as good as the memories of my mother’s pies but I like them and I like making them.

How to Make a Fully Loaded Apple Pies

You can freelance your apple pies or you can start with a recipe and then add what you want to it. Here you will find a list of suggested ingredients like sour cream, dried cherries, and walnuts. You’ll find quantities but you can add more or less—it’s your pie.

The top crust always seems better if it’s slathered in butter and coated with a sprinkling of sugar and cinnamon. You’ll find a choice of cinnamons here.

A Basic Apple Pie Recipe

This is a good recipe to use as base. It makes a nice rounded pie. Add more goodies to it. If it stacks higher, so much the better. Be sure and use a dark pie pan so that the crust bakes and is not soggy. We recommend a pie crust shield to protect the edges from burning so that you’re not tempted to remove the pie from the oven before the apples are tender and bottom crust is baked. Use an Apple Master to peel and slice your apples. Not only will it save you a lot of time but your slices are uniformly thick so that they bake uniformly. A just-add-water pie crust mix will save you more time and give you a tender professional crust every time.

Apples and cinnamon are essential companions. You have a choice of three cinnamons. Ceylon or Sri Lankan cinnamon is very mild and fruity. Korintje cassia cinnamon is what we are most familiar with—but the quality ranges widely. Vietnamese or Saigon cinnamon is very aromatic and flavorful with a taste of cinnamon oil. For apple pies, we use Vietnamese most often.

Ingredients

For the crust:

9-inch double crust pastry from a just-add-water pie crust mix or equal.

For the filling:

8 cups apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter
For the topping:
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons granulated sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Toss the apple pieces with the lemon juice and set aside.

Prepare and press the pie crust into a dark pie pan setting aside the dough for the top crust. Trim the crust. Do not bake the crust.

In a large bowl, mix the sugar, flour, and cinnamon together. Add the apples and toss them with the dry ingredients to coat. Scrape the apple mixture into the unbaked pie shell. Cut the butter into chunks and spread on top of the filling.

Roll out the top crust. Brush the top edge of the bottom crust around the rim with water to help the two crusts seal. Place the top crust over the pie. Trim the crust and seal the two crusts with the tines of a fork or with your fingers.

Mix the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon together with the remaining sugar. Brush the melted butter over the top of the pie. Sprinkle the cinnamon and sugar mixture over the top of the pie.

Cover the edges of the pie with a pie crust shield to keep it from burning. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the pie is bubbly and the crust is golden.

Suggested additions with which to load your pie:

2/3 cup sour cream
2/3 cup Bavarian cream
2/3 cup walnut pieces
2/3 cup dry cranberries
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
2/3 cup caramel sauce
2/3 cup dry cherries
2/3 cup golden raisins

Dennis Weaver is the founder of The Prepared Pantry and the author of How to Bake, a 250 page book that you can get for free. You can get a dough press and other baking tools and supplies at the company’s store as well as a free e-book of yummy desserts at the company’s site.

Copyright © Dennis Weaver :: The Prepared Pantry :: Grandma’s Home Blogger Place :: All Rights Reserved

Monthly Food Column – Little Caramel Apple Pies, Quick, Easy, Luscious

By: Dennis Weaver & Julie Rencher Of The Prepared Pantry

You can have a batch of little apple pies in the oven in 20 minutes. That’s easy. But we wanted to make them extra special using the best fresh apples of the season. You can do that too.

Step 1: Mix and roll out the pie crust. You’ll need a just-add-water pie crust mix to make a good crust in a hurry. Elapsed time: 4 minutes.

Step 2: Use a dough press to cut out six circles for the little pies. Elapsed time: 2 minutes.

Step 3: Use an Apple Master to core, peel, and slice your apples with a few twists of the handle. Add the browns sugar, cream, and starch or other ingredients from the recipes below. Toss. Elapsed time: 5 minutes.

Step 4: Place the circles in the press one at a time. Press about 1/3 cup apple filling into the center. Brush the edges with water and fold and crimp with press. Place them on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes. Elapsed prep time: 5 minutes.

Step 5: Mix up your icing using powdered sugar, a little water, and flavor. It you would like a hard shell on the frosting, add a couple tablespoons of meringue powder. Once you have moved the little pies from the pan to a rack to cool, frost them. Elapsed time: 4 minutes

Premade filling or scratch?

Using a premade apple pastry filling is really quick and easy. You can knock about five minutes out of the sequence above. And the apple pastry filling that we sell is very good. But you can knock your family’s socks off with a homemade filling.

We wanted to make little apple pies using the best fresh apples we could find. We prepared the apples, added plenty of brown sugar and butter for the caramel, and made the pies. Too much juice. You couldn’t pick them up and eat them without making a mess.

So we added starch. We used Instant Clearjel. It’s precooked and does not require further cooking. As long as you cook your pies all the way through, you can use cornstarch.

We used Granny Smith apples for these pies but you can use any good cooking apples.

We wanted a Carmel Apple Pie. We made one using caramel ice cream topping. Along the way, we created a Brown Sugar Apple Pie, a Cinnamon Apple Pie, and a Sour Cream Cranapple Pie.

And here are the recipes:

Caramel Apple Pie Recipe

This is a very simple recipe to make. The filling is simply apples, caramel ice cream topping, and a little starch. We heated the ice cream topping so that it was easy to toss the apples in the topping. We used firm Granny Smith apples and no further ingredients were needed.

Not counting the water and frosting, this is a three ingredient recipe.

2 cups just-add-water pie crust mix for six turnovers
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoons cold water
2 cups baking apples peeled and thinly sliced with an Apple Master or other means
1/2 cup good quality caramel ice cream topping
1 tablespoon Instant Clearjel

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the pie crust mix and water. Roll out the pie crust until it is just less than 1/4-inch thick.

Use a dough press to cut out six circles for the little pies.

Warm the ice cream topping in the microwave just until it flows easily. Place the prepared apples in a large bowl. Sprinkle with Clearjel.

Pour the caramel filling over the apples and toss the apples until coated.

Place the circles in the press one at a time. Scoop about 1/2 cup filling into the center. Brush the edges with water and fold and crimp with press.

Place the completed pie on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining five dough circles. Poke four sets of vent holes in each pie to allow steam to escape as the pies bake.

Bake for about 12 minutes or the pies begin to brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

For the icing:

You may use whatever flavor you prefer: vanilla, brown sugar caramel, orange, lemon, butter rum, butterscotch, or more. For these pies, we used caramel.

Make your icing by mixing 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar with 1 1/2 tablespoons meringue powder. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons water and 1/2 teaspoon flavor. Mix until smooth and spreadable adding more water as necessary.

Do not make the frosting too thin. Drizzle the frosting over the completed apple pies using a disposable pastry bag or a zipper-type plastic bag with the corner cut.

Brown Sugar Apple Pie Recipe

This is a scrumptious apple pie. It’s a simple pie to make. The filling is made with brown sugar and cream plus Instant Clearjel to thicken the sauce. You can use cornstarch to thicken the filling as long as your little pies are cooked all the way through.

2 cups just-add-water pie crust mix for six turnovers
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoons cold water
2 cups baking apples peeled and thinly sliced with an Apple Master or other means
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon Instant Clearjel
1/3 cup heavy cream

For the icing:

You may use whatever flavor you prefer: vanilla, brown sugar caramel, orange, lemon, butter rum, butterscotch, or more. For these pies, we used caramel.

Make your icing by mixing 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar with 1 1/2 tablespoons meringue powder.

Add 2 to 3 tablespoons water and 1/2 teaspoon flavor. Mix until smooth and spreadable adding more water as necessary. Do not make the frosting too thin.

Drizzle the frosting over the completed apple pies using a disposable pastry bag or a zipper-type plastic bag with the corner cut.

Cinnamon Apple Pie Recipe

Cinnamon was made for apples. We love the bright, distinctive taste of Vietnamese cinnamon and highly recommend it.

We first made these with 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon and most of us thought it was just right. Some thought that it was too much cinnamon and we cut it back.

2 cups of just-add-water pie crust mix for six turnovers
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoons cold water
2 cups baking apples peeled and thinly sliced with an Apple Master or other means
1 teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon Instant Clearjel
1/3 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the pie crust mix and water according to package instructions. Roll out the pie crust until it is just less than 1/4-inch thick.

Use a dough press to cut out six circles for the little pies.

Make the filling by mixing the brown sugar and cinnamon with the Instant Clearjel. Add the cream and stir until combined. You should have a thick sauce.

Place the prepared apples in a large bowl. Pour the cinnamon filling over the apples and toss the apples until coated.

Place the circles in the press one at a time. Scoop about 1/2 cup filling into the center. Brush the edges with water and fold and crimp with press.

Place the completed pie on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining five dough circles. Poke four sets of vent holes in each pie to allow steam to escape as the pies bake.

Bake for about 12 minutes or the pies begin to brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

For the icing:

You may use whatever flavor you prefer: vanilla, brown sugar caramel, orange, lemon, butter rum, butterscotch, or more. For these pies, we used orange.

Make your icing by mixing 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar with 1 1/2 tablespoons meringue powder. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons water and 1/2 teaspoon flavor.

Mix until smooth and spreadable adding more water as necessary. Do not make the frosting too thin.

Drizzle the frosting over the completed apple pies using a disposable pastry bag or a zipper-type plastic bag with the corner cut.

Sour Cream Cranapple Pie

Sour cream in a apple pie makes for a rich, creamy pie. This one has tart, ruby-red cranberries poking through the filling.

2 cups just-add-water pie crust mix for six turnovers
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoons cold water
1 1/2 teaspoons good quality Cassia cinnamon
2 cups baking apples peeled and thinly sliced with an Apple Master or other means
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon Instant Clearjel
1/3 cup dry cranberries
1/3 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the pie crust mix and water according to package instructions. Roll out the pie crust until it is just less than 1/4-inch thick.

Use a dough press to cut out six circles for the little pies.

Make the filling by mixing the brown sugar and cinnamon with the Instant Clearjel. Add the cream and stir until combined. You should have a thick sauce.

Place the prepared apples and cranberries in a large bowl. Pour the sour cream filling over the apples and toss the apples until coated.

Place the circles in the press one at a time. Scoop about 1/2 cup filling into the center. Brush the edges with water and fold and crimp with press.

Place the completed pie on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining five dough circles. Poke four sets of vent holes in each pie to allow steam to escape as the pies bake.

Bake for about 12 minutes or the pies begin to brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

For the icing:

You may use whatever flavor you prefer: vanilla, brown sugar caramel, orange, lemon, butter rum, butterscotch, or more. For these pies, we used lemon.

Make your icing by mixing 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar with 1 1/2 tablespoons meringue powder. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons water and 1/2 teaspoon flavor.

Mix until smooth and spreadable adding more water as necessary. Do not make the frosting too thin. Drizzle the frosting over the completed apple pies using a disposable pastry bag or a zipper-type plastic bag with the corner cut.

What You’ll Need:

Your favorite cooking apples
An Apple Master to quickly peel, core, and slice your apples
A Large Dough Press to easy assemble your little pies
A just-add-water pie crust mix
Caramel Ice Cream Topping
Flavor for the frosting
Meringue powder, optional
Instant Clearjel or cornstarch
Vietnamese cinnamon or other cinnamon
Really good cranberries, If you prefer, you can use a premade apple pastry filling.

Your dough press can also be used to make calzones and pocket sandwiches. You can download a free e-book that tells you how to make pocket sandwiches with great recipes.

Dennis Weaver is the founder of The Prepared Pantry and the author of How to Bake a 250 page book that you can get for free. You can get a dough press and other baking tools and supplies at the company’s store as well as a complete prepared pastry fillings including Bavarian cream and Raspberry. A free baker’s library can be found on the company’s site.

Copyright © Dennis Weaver :: The Prepared Pantry :: Grandma’s Home Blogger Place :: All Rights Reserved