Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Raspberry Cream Pie with Almond Crust

So, today is Pie Day.  You know, Pi Day.  Pi, as in 3.14.  As in March 14th.   (I explain this only because I’m confident that there are people in the world far less nerdy than I and the rest of the Foodie family.)  I’ll confess that I was a little sad at the thought of not celebrating Pie Day this year, since I have yet to find a gluten-free pie crust that I like.  But then it occurred to me that the bag of almond flour in my refrigerator might yield a pie with a very satisfactory almond flour crust.  A little research suggested that this is, in fact, very simple to put together.  And thus I began to wander down the road that produced this divine concoction:  Raspberry Cream Pie with Almond Crust.

When I was a teenager in the 1970′s and yogurt was an exotic new item on grocery store shelves, I learned to make a quick cream pie from two containers of yogurt and one container of Cool Whip. Times have changed, of course–now there are dozens of yogurt varieties to choose from, and I no longer eat Cool Whip–but that pie was my general inspiration for this one.  I wanted a filling that was light and creamy, not rich and heavy.  After consulting an old recipe for a blackberry tart with a cream cheese filling, I set about creating the raspberry cream mixture for this pie.

I went with raspberries because I found a lovely box of them at Costco this afternoon (though they aren’t in season locally), and because I already had raspberry yogurt on hand.  Feel free to try this recipe with any combination of yogurt and fruit, either in matching or complimentary flavors–I think a filling made with peach yogurt and topped with raspberries would be delicious.  A mixed berry filling topped with raspberries, blackberries and blueberries would be beautiful and tasty.  I used Greek yogurt because it’s non-fat but very creamy.  I also used light sour cream, but regular cream cheese, which gave the filling some stability after it had been chilled.

You’ll need to give the crust plenty of time to cool completely before you fill it, so plan to make the crust early in the day (or even the night before.)  The filled pie will need several hours to chill, so it can set up before serving.  All of which is to say that this isn’t a last-minute recipe, though it is really easy to make–and a perfectly delicious centerpiece for Pi Day.  The Girl and her father were hard pressed to wait until after dinner for the official celebration.

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Raspberry Cream Pie with Almond Crust

Ingredients:

For the crust
1 1/2 cups almond flour
3 T. sugar
3 T. butter, melted

For the filling
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 small container (6 oz.) raspberry Greek yogurt
1/4 cup light sour cream
Fresh raspberries, for topping

Directions:

To make the crust: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly coat a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray. Set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the almond flour and sugar. Mix well; stir in the melted butter, making sure all the almond flour is coated and no dry flour remains at the bottom. Spread this mixture evenly across the bottom of the prepared pie pan. Using your fingers, press to create an even layer across the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes, until the crust begins to brown at the edges. Cool completely before filling.

To make the filling: Use a mixer to combine the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Add the yogurt and sour cream; continue mixing until the filling is smooth. (You can make the raspberry cream without a mixer, but chances are you'll end up with some small pieces of cream cheese in the filling. It will still taste good, but it won't be as smooth.)

Pour the filling into the cooled crust and use the back of a spoon to smooth out the top. Top with fresh raspberries. Chill the filled pie for at least three hours before serving.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Slow Cooker Potato and Leek Soup

I cheated a little bit on our produce adventure this week.  Just a teeny tiny bit.  I bought leeks, which The Hubs and I have eaten before but the Foodie children had not.  And it had been several years since The Hubs and I had eaten them, so it didn’t seem like much of a cheat at all.  We were still adding something new to the dinner rotation, after all.

I decided to buy leeks when I saw them at my local grocery store last Friday, looking all green and fresh and beautiful as they reclined on their refrigerated shelf in the produce section.  As you can probably tell from the photo, leeks are related to onions–they’re just a different shape, long and slender instead of bulbous.  (Some leeks to do have a rounded end, but most do not.)  They’re also very mild in flavor, which is why some people add a second variety of onion to their versions of potato and leek soup.

When you’re buying leeks, you want to choose those that have a long white portion, since the tough green tops will be cut off and thrown away–or tossed in your compost bin.   I trimmed these before taking photos, but you’ll most likely find them with their tops intact.  In order to get that long, slender white root, farmers mound the dirt around the leeks while they’re growing.  This means leeks are really, really gritty, with dirt tucked into every nook and cranny, and they need to be washed thoroughly before you can eat them.  The good news is that if you’re using leeks to make a soup like the one below, you can go ahead and remove the root end, slice the white portion into thin rings, break those rings apart with your fingers, and rinse everything easily, in a colander.

You’ve probably heard of vichyssoise, which is the cold version of potato and leek soup.  I confess that I am not a cold soup person–no gazpacho for me, nor melon and mint soup, nor vichyssoise.  This slow cooker recipe makes use of the humble Russet potato in a most delightful way, producing a hot, hearty soup that takes the chill off a rainy day.  Because it cooks for a fairly long time, the potatoes and leeks are easily broken up with a potato masher–no need for an immersion blender to make this soup nice and smooth.  Of course, if you prefer your soup a little on the chunky side, you can simply mash the potatoes less vigorously.  You can also make an easy vegetarian version of this soup by using vegetable broth in place of chicken broth.

Although he is not a fan of soup in general, The Boy loves a baked potato–and this isn’t too far removed from that since, as I mentioned, leeks have a very mild flavor–so he ate his bowl of this soup without much fuss.   The Girl, my resident soup lover, ate hers after adding some extra cheese.  The Hubs and I both added crumbled bacon to ours.  Anything you’d enjoy on top of a baked potato is fair game for topping this soup, though it’s perfectly delicious all by itself.

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Slow Cooker Potato and Leek Soup

Ingredients:

2 large leeks, sliced into thin rings and rinsed well (about 4 cups of leeks)
3 large Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks (about 6 cups of potatoes)
1 carton (32 oz.) chicken stock
1 can evaporated milk
1 cup grated sharp white cheddar
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Layer the leeks and potatoes in the slow cooker. Pour the chicken stock over the vegetables and cook on high heat for 4 to 6 hours. When the vegetables have softened, use a potato masher to break them up and created a smooth or chunky texture, whatever your prefer.

About 30 minutes before you plan to serve the soup, stir in the evaporated milk and grated cheese. Allow the soup to heat through, then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the soup with crumbled bacon, additional shredded cheese, or anything else you might put on top of a baked potato.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Adventures in Produce: Turnips

An amazing thing happened last week.  A miraculous thing, really.  The Boy asked me to buy turnips.

That’s right:  he of the Five Approved Foods specifically asked me to buy a strange vegetable he’d never eaten before.  He even reminded me to buy turnips before I headed to the grocery store.  When I asked what made him decide that he was ready to eat turnips, he said “Well, I’ve never had one before.  I figured I should at least give them a try.”

Can’t argue with that kind of logic.

Turnips are actually very pretty, as vegetables go.  They’re a lovely shade of purple, gradually fading into a creamy shade of white.  Once you’ve peeled off their very thin skin, they look a lot like potatoes.  The texture is very different, though–a little more solid, but not as crisp.  I tried a cube of turnip raw, on its own, and found the taste fairly similar to a very mild radish.  The Boy even tried a piece of raw turnip while I was in the process of chopping them up.  I waited for him to gag and refuse to eat the cooked turnips I was making, but to my surprise he pronounced it “not too bad.”

The Hubs and I disagree about whether our family had tried turnips before this.  He had eaten them as a kid, at his grandmother’s house, but he was sure I’d never made them for him.  I’m pretty sure I added turnips to a roasted root vegetable mix I made a few years ago, while we were still receiving weekly boxes from a local organic produce delivery service.  Either way, turnips clearly hadn’t made a positive or lasting impression on either of us.  While I normally opt for the simplest preparation for any vegetable we eat in the Foodie family, I really wanted The Boy to have a good experience with the turnips he’d requested.  It was important to me that he feel positive about taking a risk and trying something new.

So, I did a few things I wouldn’t normally do.  After I cubed the turnips (3 smallish ones), I simmered them in 1/4 cup of water.   Once the water had evaporated, they were nice and soft.  That’s when I added a tablespoon of butter to the saucepan, stirring to coat the turnips; then I sprinkled on a tablespoon of white sugar, and I kept stirring until the sugar started to caramelize.  Then I sprinkled that mixture with a little coarse sea salt, and I served it on the side of a tri-tip roast I’d made for dinner.

Well.  Those turnips were out of this world: sweet and salty, soft and crunchy (thanks to the sea salt.)  The Boy gobbled them right up.  When The Hubs later asked him if he wanted another spoonful, he said, “I’d better not.  I don’t want to develop a turnip addiction.”  The very fact that a turnip addiction is even within the realm of possibility for The Boy makes me so happy, I hardly know what to say about it.

Except this: Will we be eating turnips again?  Oh yes.  Most definitely.

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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Super Simple Cherry Cobbler

I know, I know.  Weeks without a blog entry, and when I return to blogging it’s with another recipe for dessert.  I can only say that my work life has exploded in the last two weeks and, combined with the cold that’s been making its rounds at our house, blogging was pushed to the bottom of the priority list.  But no more!  Another produce adventure is in the works.  For now, though, let’s celebrate the triumphant return of the Foodie with a really easy recipe that will make the after-dinner hour special:  this Super Simple Cherry Cobbler.

Let me say right up front that I am not a fan of canned cherry pie filling.  It’s too sweet, too gloopy, too artificially-glowing-red.  This recipe calls for either fresh or frozen (and thawed) cherries.  Frozen cherries come with the pits removed, which is (partially) where the Super Simple portion of the title comes in.  If you want to use fresh cherries–which won’t be in season for awhile, but might still be available at your local grocery store–I highly recommend using this Oxo Cherry Pitter to make that job easier.  I love my cherry pitter, and I use it often during cherry season.  But when it comes to Super Simple baking, I take it to another level and go with the frozen cherries.

The second part of this Super Simple recipe is the use of a packaged cake mix.  Especially since I started eating gluten-free, I’ve relied on packaged mixes to make my life a little easier.  Baking gluten-free from scratch can be tricky, and while I’m gradually learning the things I need to know, there are times when I’m not in the mood to roll the dice.  Sometimes, I just want the assurance of knowing that what I’m making is more than likely to turn out.  When you have a cold, and you’re losing your mind at work every day, you find yourself in the midst of one of those times.  So I used a gluten-free vanilla cake mix, but you could just as easily use any cake mix you have on hand.

One thing to note:  when you add the melted butter to the cake mix, you will end up with a crumbly topping–nothing like cake batter.  If you’re of the opinion that cobbler should be more like upside-down cake, you probably won’t be happy with the result provided by this recipe.  On the other hand, if you like cobbler with a crunchy topping, this will make you very happy.

The Hubs has been happily snacking on this cobbler for the last few days.  It would be just as Super Simple to make with any combination of fruit and cake mix–I’m thinking an apple cobbler with a spice cake crumble on top would be very tasty.  And if you want to toss a half-cup of chopped nuts into the crumble topping for a little extra crunch, you’ll get nothing but support from me.

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Super Simple Cherry Cobbler

Ingredients:

1 lb. cherries, pitted (thawed, if frozen)
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
4 T. corn starch
1 T. vanilla
1 vanilla cake mix, dry
1 stick butter, melted

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large saucepan, combine the cherries and water over medium heat. Stir together the sugar and corn starch, then add this mixture to the pan and stir until dissolved. When the cherry mixture starts to bubble, stir constantly for one minute, then remove it from the heat and stir in the vanilla. The mixture should be very thick, the consistency of pie filling. (If it's not, let it cook until you get the right consistency.) Transfer the cherry mixture to a baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray. (I use a 9-inch pie plate, but a 9-inch square pan will also work.)

In a large bowl, combine the dry cake mix and the melted butter. Stir until the dry ingredients have been coated with butter and turn into coarse crumbs. (You made need to use your hands for this step--just squeeze together handfuls of the dry ingredients, creating large clumps, and then break them into smaller pieces.) Sprinkle the dry crumb mixture over the cooked fruit.

Bake the cobbler for 35-40 minutes, until the crumb topping is nicely browned and the fruit is beginning to bubble around the edges. Serve warm, with ice cream or whipped cream.

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Gluten-Free Coconut Lemon Bars . . . and a Giveaway! {Winner Announced}

As I think we’ve already established, I have a serious addiction to lemons.  (Take a look at the header for my blog.  See that luscious lemon hanging from its branch?  It’s no accident that a lemon is the first thing you see when you look at my blog.)  Especially this time of year, when the rain and gloom descends even as far as south Texas, lemons are nothing short of a blessing.  They’re bright and cheerful.  They’re like edible drops of sunshine.  And they smell good.  Plus, they’re full of Vitamin C, and you can’t have too much of that stuff during cold and flu season.

So, while lemons are typically thought of as a summer thing, making lemon bars in the middle of February doesn’t strike me as the least bit strange.  In fact, it seems entirely fitting.  When the fine folks at Bob’s Red Mill contacted me a few weeks ago and asked if I’d be interested in trying out their coconut flour, the very first thing that came to my mind was a version of lemon bars that incorporated coconut flour into the crust.  I’d never baked with coconut flour before, so I knew I’d need to experiment a little to get it right.

And did I ever experiment.  The Girl and The Hubs have been eating coconut lemon bars for the last two weeks.

No one is complaining, mind you.

A few things I’ve learned about coconut flour:  it’s very absorbent, which means you need to increase the amount of liquid in a recipe by the same amount of coconut flour you’ve incorporated.   (So, for example:  if you use 1/4 cup of coconut flour in place of wheat flour, add 1/4 cup of liquid to your recipe.)  The first batch of lemon bars I made turned out more like lemon cake for precisely this reason:  the crust soaked up all the lemon custard.   Baked goods made with coconut flour also bake faster, which means you can shorten your baking time by a few minutes (or, at the very least, start checking them earlier–another lesson learned the hard way.  Pun most certainly intended.)  Coconut flour is very high in fiber, which means you can feel good about having a treat that’s actually good for you–but it also means you should be careful about pigging out.  Otherwise, your stomach may have a little something to say about that.  Finally, and best of all, coconut flour is gluten-free.

What I really like about this recipe is that the crust tastes a little like a shortbread cookie, thanks to the addition of almond meal.  It’s firm, but not crunchy, and it’s a nice contrast to the gooey topping.  I don’t really taste the coconut in coconut flour, although some people say they do–it’s made from finely ground coconut with the moisture and fat removed, so it smells the way you’d expect, but I found the taste pretty mild.  That’s why I added flaked coconut to the crust.  I tried toasting the coconut first, but I think drying it out encouraged the coconut to absorb more of the lemon custard, and the coconut flour was already doing that job quite effectively.  The addition of untoasted coconut provided a nice flavor and a slightly chewy texture.  I added more coconut to the top, as well, but if you’re not as coconut crazy as I am, you could always go the traditional route and add a sprinkle of powdered sugar instead (after the bars have cooled, of course.)

But here’s the best part!  The folks at Bob’s Red Mill would like to give one of you the chance to try out their products as well–coconut flour, granola, brownie mix, whatever tickles your tastebuds–and they have generously provided me with a $50 gift card for one lucky reader.  I don’t usually do giveaways, but I really love this company and the way they do business.  Plus, I’ve never tried a Bob’s Red Mill product that I didn’t like.

How do you enter?

1.  Head over to the Bob’s Red Mill website and take a look around.  Then add a comment to this blog telling me one of the items you’d like to buy with that $50 gift card.

2.  Click on over to Facebook and “Like” The Family Foodie.  Then leave a comment below telling me you did this.  (If you’re already one of the Foodie faithful, just leave me a message that says so.)

That’s right, I’m giving you two chances to win.  That’s how much I love you.  Just be sure to leave two separate comments.

This giveaway will end at midnight CST on Feburary 29th, 2o12.  I’ll use Random.org to select one lucky commenter.  If you don’t see your comment on the blog right away, it’s because you’re new to The Family Foodie and your comment is awaiting moderation.

Good luck!

And the winner is:  Jordan D. (#10)!  Congratulations, Jordan.  Please use the Contact form on this website (see the link at the top of this page) to send me an email with your mailing address.  Claim your prize within 48 hours and get ready to start shopping!  

This is a sponsored blog post and giveaway.  I received product from Bob’s Red Mill to use in developing the recipe below, and a $50 gift card to share with one reader of The Family Foodie, but I did not receive additional compensation.  All the gushing about Bob’s Red Mill products is my own unsolicited and humble opinion.

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Gluten-Free Coconut Lemon Bars

Ingredients:

Crust
1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill Coconut Flour
1/4 cup Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
6 T. unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Lemon Custard
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
Juice of 3 large lemons, plus enough water (if necessary) to equal 2/3 cup liquid
1 T. (packed) lemon zest
1 tsp. Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut for topping (optional)

Directions:

For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8 x 8 inch square pan with foil, leaving enough overhang to use as a handle. Lightly coat the foil with non-stick spray. In a large bowl, combine the flours, almond meal, sugar, salt, and flaked coconut; stir to combine dry ingredients. Use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut in the cubed butter, working the mixture until the butter has been reduced to pea-size crumbs. Use your hand to knead the butter into the dry mixture. When all dry ingredients have been incorporated, press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes, until the crust is just beginning to brown around the edges.

For the custard: While the crust bakes, whisk together the sugar, eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest, flour, and baking powder. Remove the hot crust from the oven and pour the custard over the top immediately; return the pan to the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup coconut over the custard; bake for another 8 to 10 minutes, just until the lemon topping is set at the center. (If you aren't using the coconut topping, just bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until the lemon custard is set at the center.)

Transfer the pan to a rack and let the lemon bars cool completely. Use the foil to move the bars to a work surface when you're ready to cut them. (If you're topping them with powdered sugar, now is the time.)

Assuming you have any left over, these bars can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days.

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