Friday, July 3, 2015

Cherry and Blueberry Slab Pie

I made this American Flag Cherry Slab Pie for the Grandsons……but I must confess that I was craving a little Cherry Pie myself.  A slab pie is a great way to feed pie to a crowd, so it is nice to cook one up for a special occasion when there are more than a couple mouths to feed.  I decided to make a Cherry Slab Pie with just a traditional top, but then I realized the rectangular shape of the sheet pan made a perfect flag, so I couldn't  resist. 

Make the dough: this recipe uses half whole wheat and half white flour, with butter and shortening cut in until  thoroughly blended.  Add water and mix until all clings together well, and then divide into two balls (with one bigger than the other).  

Roll out to fit a Jelly Roll or Sheet Pan.

Place Blueberry Mixture in one corner of the crust.

Put Cherry Mixture in remaining pie  shell.

Top with remaining dough rolled thin and cut into Stars and Stripes.

Bake 40 -50 minutes.  Cool approximately 1 hour.  You can also add an icing if desired.

Note:  Sour Cherries are more red in appearance and sweet cherries are often much darker, almost black once baked.  I had sweet cherries, but if you have a chance to get some sour cherries for this pie, it would look prettier.  Adjust the sugar for either type of Cherry according to the tartness or sweetness by a little taste testing.

For the dough:
3 cups Whole Wheat Flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice or grated into flour
3/4 cups Natural Palm Shortening
8 to 10 Tablespoons ice water

For the filling:
For Cherry Filling:
8 cups (2 3/4 lb./1.25 kg) pitted fresh or frozen cherries
3/4 to 1 cup granulated organic cane sugar
1/4 cup Cornstarch
2 teaspoon. Almond Extract

For Blueberry Filling:
2 cups fresh or frozen Blueberries
1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
1/4 cup granulated organic cane sugar

For Icing:
1 1/4 cup organic powdered sugar
1 tsp Almond extract
4-6 teaspoons milk or cream (enough to make to make a drizzling consistency).


For Crust:
  1. Measure flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. 
  2. Cut in butter and shortening until well distributed into dough.
  3. Add water a tablespoon at a time, stirring and mixing until dough clings together well.
  4. Divid dough into two balls, making one ball slightly larger than the other.  The bottom crust will require the larger ball of dough.
  5. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and store in refrigerator until filling is ready. You may make the dough a day ahead and refrigerate until needed if desired.
  6. When ready to use, roll out larger ball of dough into 13 x 18 inch rectangle on a piece of wax paper or parchment paper,  (slightly larger than the size of an approximate sized sheet pan).
  7. Lift wax paper with dough and gently roll dough onto a 12 x 17 inch sheet pan (or close approximate size).  Press dough neatly into the pan.
  8. Trim dough at the top of the rim of the pan.
  9. Roll remaining dough into a rectangle  approximately 6 x 17 inches long.
  10. Cut strips to form the stripes of the flag. 
  11. Cut stars out the scraps of dough, using a tiny star shaped cookie cutter.
For Filling:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. For the Cherry Filling, measure cherries, into bowl; add sugar, cornstarch and almond extract and stir to mix well.
  3. For the Blueberry Filling, measure blueberries, sugar, cornstarch and vanilla in a second bowl. Stir to mix well.
  4. Spread Blueberry filling in one corner of the of the sheet cake, making a small rectangle that will represent the blue part of the flag.  
  5. Spread the Cherry filling in remaining part of the flag.
  6. Top with remaining strips of dough to make the stripes in the flag.
  7. Add dough stars.
  8. Bake in preheated oven 40 - 50 minutes.
  9. Cool approximately 1 hour.
  10. Drizzle with icing.
  11. Serves 12
For Icing:
  1. Mixing Icing ingredients until smooth.
Cut, Serve and Enjoy!

Happy Fourth of July everyone.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Picnicking 101

Since we moved to Florida, picnics have become a regular part of our lives; now that the beach, children and grandchildren, are within reach, we find ourselves off on a picnic almost weekly… and for me it naturally follows that one of the side effects to regular picnicking, is the constant surfing the internet for picnic ideas.  I find great satisfaction in reading other peoples ideas, and mulling over them to decide which ones I would like to try, or to conclude after all my searching, that the old favorites are still my "favorites".  I even love looking through old pictures like the one above to see what they ate, and what they did to create a wonderful picnic a hundred years ago. I think they are working on the dessert segment, I can see cake and Pie

With Fourth of July coming up, we all talked about what wanted to do to celebrate and came up with a very original idea: "Picnic on the Beach".  Ha ha. Well what can I say, a good idea is a good idea, even if we have done it many times.  We also talked about what kind of food we wanted on our picnic that would set it a little above the regular weekly picnic, and decided on another "original idea" of Fried Chicken and Potato Salad. I know …. but like I said, "Old Favorites are still our favorites; and we don't very often have fried chicken… perhaps once a year around the Fourth of July… so why not make it a tradition.

With all that searching and thinking about picnic ideas for the Fourth, I decided to do a post of favorite picnic ideas, and list of things to remember. We have made most of the food ideas at one time or another, and others I have wanted to try, but haven't gotten around to it yet. Perhaps they will inspire a picnic or two for you.  I would love to hear some of your ideas as well, so be sure to leave a comment of some of your picnic favorites.

Favorite Picnic Meal Ideas:

Main Dishes
Homemade Fried Chicken
Homemade Chicken Nuggets
Tortilla wraps…. cream cheese, cheese, cold cuts, green chills, olives, veggies, beans etc rolled in tortilla and eaten as a wrap, or sliced as spirals
Hot Dogs and Chili : (we just did this picnic last for our Grandson, Zane's, Birthday), and it hit the spot for all the hungry swimmers.  This is also yummy for a campfire picnic.
Salad Sandwiches.
Chicken Salad, Egg Salad, Tuna Salad, are great regulars, but you can get creative with salad sandwiches, depending on what you have on hand, I have used Tofu, Roast Beef, Crab meat Ham and even Bologna to make a Sandwich Spread, all of them are delicious.
Saddle Bag Sandwiches
Muffin Tin Sandwiches and Pies: such as:
Meatball Sandwich,                                                                                                                    
Reuben Sandwich,
Beef Pies                                                                                         


Salads and Sides:
Potato Salad
Russian Potato Salad
Picnic Beans
Mexican Bean Salad
3 Bean Salad
Black Eyed Pea Salad
Sweet Potato Salad
Pasta Salad
Spaghetti Salad
Broccoli Salad
Cauliflower Salad
Brown Rice Salad
Wheat Berry Salad 
Barley Salad
Quinoa Salad

Deviled eggs, 
Sliced Veggies
Fresh Fruit

Texas Sheet Cake,  
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Strawberry Cookie Tarts,
Berry Handpies
Slab Pies can be made, cooled, sliced into squares and packed nicely in a picnic basket

Iced Tea
Coffee: In our family, no picnic is complete without coffee in the thermos.  Those of us who like cream in our coffee bring along a little cream in a pint sized canning jar.

Here's a link to Country Living for more wonderful picnic recipes

 Pack, Haul and Serve It

1.  Tupperware, Rubbermaid,
I don't know about you, but when it is time for a picnic or potluck,  I am always looking around my cabinets for good ideas to pack and store and haul the food and supplies. My Daughter Elizabeth found this Tupperware set at a Garage Sale a little while back.  It is the cutest little picnic set, that carries 6 each of large plates, 6 small plates, 6 bowls, 6 beverage cups a tray and two bowls, all of which store together nicely in this little cute package.

2.  Empty Plastic Coffee Cans or plastic tubs with lids.
Last week, we had a picnic at the Beach for my Grandson Zane's birthday, we planned to serve Hot dogs and Chili. We wanted to cook it ahead and bring it hot.  So we heated the Chili in the crockpot and brought the Crock pot in its entirety to the picnic.  We cooked the hotdogs and packed them into a large and sturdy coffee can (the plastic variety), packed it into an insulated food bag, and surrounded it with hot towels that had been wet down and placed into a large ziplock and then microwaved.  The food  arrived hot and delicious at the picnic site just in time for lunch.

3.  Canning Jars , make easy storage and charming serving containers. They are wonderful for serving drinks, salads,  and even desserts: Don't you just love all of those desserts in a jar on Pinterst. This link at By Stephanie Lynn, will inspire a variety of ideas for you. and this link  from My Baking Addiction for the recipe to this picture of Cherry Crisp in a Jar.

4.  Coolers For drinks and food, are of course the modern-day picnic basket that can't go wrong. I personally love the kind with wheels that can be pulled easily by the weaklings of the family (such as myself).  I also love the small insulated bags that are now popularly used for lunches.  I have one of them and use it all the time for traveling in the car, or picnics on the beach.

5.  Picnic Basket: Nothing Beats the romance of a picnic basket for packing up food and memories. I find any kind of basket or hamper is wonderful to haul all the food and supplies for a perfect picnic.

6.  Blankets and Tablecloths: 
7.  Umbrella:  A large umbrella on the beach is a must to provide that protection from excess sun. It is well worth investing in if you are a regular to the beach.
8.  Plates, Cups, Utensils, Napkins
9.  Wet Wipes and a Wet and Dry Towel:  I have started putting a wet hand towel or wash cloth into a ziplock and freezing it for cold packs, and microwaving it for a hot pack.  It is a wonderful addition to helping keep things hot or cold, and as it cools or melts, becomes a perfect clean up towel.
10.  Sun Screen: Yep, I have learned the hard way not to forget this one!

 Happy Picnicking Everyone!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Chocolate Mocha Cookies and Cream Ice Cream Pie

Buttery, chocolatey, crunchy, chewy crust topped with coffee flavored ice-cream mixed with chunks of cookie and chocolate chips, could cause you to eat most of this pie before you realize what you have done.  I am very glad I  made this one to share, because otherwise, I know I am in danger of eating it all, just myself. 
This dessert  takes about 10 minutes to make, and what a delicious dessert to share with family or friends during the hot summer months.

Begin by crushing 25 Oreo type sandwich cookies.  There are several great brands that are on the healthier side, and even some gluten free varieties that are delicious.  I used the "Back to Nature" brand.

Chop 8-12 Chocolate Sandwich Cookies into chunks. Set aside.

Stir  1/4 cup melted butter into crushed Cookie mixture and mix until well blended.

Press mixture into a standard pie pan and bake at 350 degrees for 5-6 minutes, then cool completely.

Soften three pints of Mocha/Coffee flavored Ice Cream of choice, by allowing the ice cream to sit at room temperature 10-15 minutes.

Stir the cookie chunks into the ice-cream.

Mix until well distributed.

Spread softened ice-cream mixture into the cooled pie crust.

Freeze 2 hours or more.  Top with mini chocolate chips.

Decorate with whipped cream and more chocolate chips….

….and serve.

I do really love it when it gets a little melty, and begins to drip all over the crust.

Chocolate Mocha Cookies and Cream Ice Cream Pie

For the Crust:
25 chocolate sandwich cookies
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter melted

For the Filling:
3 pints (6 cups) Mocha or Coffee flavored Ice Cream, softened
8-12 chocolate sandwich cookies, chopped

For Garnish:
Whipped Cream
Chocolate Chips


For the Crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Crush 25 chocolate sandwich cookies in a food processor blender, or by hand.
  3. Stir in butter.
  4. Press into a standard pie plate.
  5. Bake 5-6 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool completely
For the filling:
  1. Thaw 3 pints of ice cream until slightly soft.
  2. Stir in chopped sandwich cookies.
  3. Pour and spread into cooled crust.
  4. Freeze for 2 or more hours.
  5. Decorate with whipped cream and chocolate chips

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Keepin your cool in the summer kitchen

Summer is upon us and its getting hot.  This time of year, most of us in the upper hemisphere are thinking of ways to stay cool… everything from going to the beach, creek, lake or pool, to fixing up some cool meals and family treats.  My friend Camille from "Flowers in His Garden" got me inspired by her menu plans and meal ideas last week, and I made up her Idaho Tacos for dinner, which were awesome.  I thought I would pass on the inspiration and write up some summer meal ideas as well.

Keeping cool in the summer can be easier when the oven isn't turned on more than necessary, and the work load of a hearty winter meal is lifted  by quick and easy recipes.  Think of Reducing the use of the oven to once or twice a week, cooking several things at once that can be eaten cold later in the week, such as: Roasting a chicken, a roast beef and a meat loaf or even potatoes in one evening, allowing the left overs for sandwiches or salads through the rest of the week, using the crockpot, stove top and of course, the grill is always a favorite way to take the heat outside.

I liked how Camille made up a meal plan for 3 weeks worth of menu ideas to choose from… rather than a  hard and fast menu for every day.  I work best in that kind of flexibility as well, and decided to just start my list of meal ideas that I can add to as the summer goes on. My Summer cooking focus is usually broken down in these 4 ways:  "quick and easy", "cool and refreshing", "summer abundance" or "outdoor cooking".  So here are some of my meal ideas for the summer. Some of them I make fairly frequently and have posted previously and  some are "Newbies" that I want to try: If I get a chance, I will post a few of the "Newbies" this summer. I would love to hear some of your ideas.  It is always inspiring to hear what other people are making and what they are up to.

Overnight Oats (I am trying this recipe out this week… and look forward to sharing it).
Yogurt with fruit
Veggie Omelette
French Toast with fresh fruit
Creamy Cottage Cheese and Coconut Pancakes with fresh berries.

Grilled Vegetable Sandwiches/wraps
Cold Vegetable and Hummus Sandwiches/wraps
Vegetable, Fruit, cheese, nut and olive platter
Saddlebag Sandwiches
Curried Chicken Salad Sandwiches

On the Grill: Burgers, Steak, Chicken, Fish, and Kebobs
Grilled Pizza (This is delicious, Luke has made it for us on many occasion and mmmm good).
Grilled Steak Salad
Grilled Chicken salad
Asian Salad with Chicken
Fried Rice with Garden Veggies
Barbecue Beef Sandwiches
Angel Hair Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and basil.
Fish Tacos
Bean Tostadas
Mexican Lettuce Wraps

Unbaked beans (Picnic Beans)
Grilled Vegetables
Grilled Corn on the Cob
Layered Fruit and Vegetable Salad
Pasta Salad
3 Bean Salad
Asian Slaw
Vegetable Kebobs

Berry Cream Pie
Ice Box Cakes:Peanut Butter Banana Icebox cake
Almond Joy Chia Pudding
Ice Cream Pies: Key Lime Ice Cream Pie, Chocolate Mocha Ice Cream Pie
Cold Watermelon

Fruit Juice Popsicles
Nuts and dried fruit
Fresh Fruit wedges
fresh cut veggies and dip
Olives and cheese
Hummus with Pita chips
Peaches and Cream fruit roll ups

Something Good to Drink
Watermelon Water
homemade ginger tonic
Iced tea with mint

Be sure to share your summer-time favorites....
We all love reading them.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Key Lime Ice Cream Pie

Here is the first of three Ice Cream Pies that I am going to post over the next week or two for some cool, quick and delicious, summer desserts. The other two recipes use ready made Ice cream as the base in the recipes, but this recipe is made by combining yogurt and whipped cream, for a slightly healthier ice cream. It delicious, light, creamy cool ice cream dessert that tastes like Key Lime Pie. 

Key Lime Ice Cream Pie

Preheat oven to 350 and gather ingredients and mixing bowls.

 Begin by placing crushed Graham Crackers and Coconut Sugar in a mixing bowl.

Add melted butter and stir all together until well blended.

 Pour crust mixture into a 8 or 9 inch Pie Pan.

Distribute evenly into Pie pan.

Press until you have a nice crust evenly spread over the pie pan.

Place into preheated oven and bake 6-7 minutes.  Cool completely before filling.

In a separate bowl, add Yogurt, Lime Zest and Lime Juice.

 Stir together.

Add powdered sugar and mix until well blended.  You could sift the powdered sugar if you want… or just mix it up good, it will dissolve and distribute nicely.

Whip the Heavy Cream and gently fold in the yogurt mixture.

Stir until thoroughly combined.

Spread into prepared pie crust.

Freeze one hour before serving. Garnish with whipped cream, lime zest and sliced limes and reserved Graham Cracker crumbs.

If you freeze this the day before, allow to it sit out at room temperature  30 minutes to 1 hour before serving to soften.

Yes, it really is sooo good.

Key Lime Ice Cream Pie

For Crust
2 Packages Graham Crackers (18 full Graham Cracker rectangles) Crushed into crumbs (Reserve about 1/4 cup for Garnish)
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup Coconut Sugar or Sucanat

For the filling
1 1/4 cup Heavy Cream measure first, then whip
2 cups Vanilla flavored Greek Yogurt
1Tablepsoons Lime Zest
2 Tablespoons Lime juice
2/3 cup Organic Powdered Sugar

For Garnish
1/4 Cup reserved Graham Cracker Crumb Mixture
Whipped cream
Lime slices
Lime zest


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare Pie Crust by  mixing together Graham Cracker Crumbs, Coconut Sugar and Butter.
  3. Pour and spread the mixture evenly in a 8 or 9 inch pie shell; pressing to form a nice crust.
  4. Bake 6-7 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool completely before filling.
  6. While Crust is cooling, Whip heavy cream until soft peaks form.  Set to the side.
  7. Put Yogurt, lime zest and lime juice into a bowl and mix together well.
  8. Add powdered sugar and mix together well.
  9. Fold the Yogurt mixture into the whipped cream. Stir until well blended.
  10. Pour the cream and yogurt mixture into the cooled pie crust.
  11. Place into the freezer and freeze 1-2 hours before serving.
  12. Garnish with whipped cream, lime slices, lime zest and reserved Graham Cracker crumbs.
Note: If Pie has been frozen  for more than a couple of hours, or overnight, just allow it to sit at room temperature 30 minutes to an hour, to allow ice cream to soften before serving.