My apologies for the severe lack of new recipes for several weeks!  I've been busy between working and baking cookies!  But it's time to resume the good old blog, and a classic Strawberry Pie recipe seems to be fitting for this time of year.  This is one my mom makes every spring and summer.  We're having it on Easter, which is always a great way to round out the Easter dinner.  Fresh strawberries...mmmm....just makes me excited for summer!

Fresh Strawberry Pie

(serves 8)


1 quart fresh strawberries

1 refrigerated pie crust

1 cup sugar

3 T. cornstarch

3/4 cup water

Reddi-whip

 
Arrange half of strawberries in baked pastry shell. Mash remaining berries and combine with sugar in a medium saucepan. Place saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.


In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water. Gradually stir cornstarch mixture into boiling strawberry mixture. Reduce heat and simmer mixture until thickened, about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour mixture over berries in pastry shell. Chill for several hours before serving. Top with whipped cream.

 
 
 
 

I've skipped a few days and slacked off the recipe blogging, but all for good reason.  I recently started my own cookie business, creating one-of-a-kind filled cookies of a variety of flavors.  It had been an idea for awhile but I didn't know if I could pursue it or not.  But thanks to a lot of time, effort, and experimenting, it has emerged!  My website is complete enough to share with the world, and I look forward to expanding to shipping across the U.S.  For now--local Pittsburgh orders only unless you arrange it with me, or I like you a whole lot.

www.cookiesfromthehart.com

More recipes to come soon!

 
 

     Since I just spent the weekend at Rosie's house in Cleveland, I wanted to post this recipe creation she came up with.  She had some ripe bananas that she wanted to use up and also wanted to make something with Bailey's.  So why not combine both and see how it goes?  That's what we did with this banana bread!  And surprisingly, it worked quite well.  Oh and it's fairly healthy, too.   A perfect thing to eat with Irish coffee! 

Bailey's Banana Bread
(1 loaf)

2 eggs
2/3 cup white sugar
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup applesauce
1/3 cup nonfat milk
1/4 cup Bailey's Irish cream
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1/3 cup chocolate chips (optional)

  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Spray a bread pan with non-stick cooking spray, and lightly dust with flour.

In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in bananas, applesauce, milk, and Bailey's.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir flour mixture into banana mixture, mixing just until blended. Fold in walnuts. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips.

Bake in preheated pan until golden and a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean, about 1 hour. Turn bread out onto a wire rack and let cool.

 
 

      Okay, so the weather in Pittsburgh today is BEAUTIFUL.  Spring, finally!!  Since the sun is out and it's actually warm, I was reminded of an old favorite recipe that features lots of spring and summer fruit.  Ever heard of fruit pizza?  The "crust" is actually made out of sugar cookie dough and you top it with cream cheese and whatever fruit you want.  It's pretty fantastic and great for this time of the year.  It's one of those recipes that looks fairly impressive to take to a picnic or party...but it's actually very simple to make.  Enjoy!

Fruit Pizza
(serves 8)

1 (18 ounce) package refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries, mandarin oranges, bananas (whatever fruit you want!)

Glaze:
1/2 cup white sugar
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon orange zest 


 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Slice cookie dough and arrange on greased pizza pan, overlapping edges. Press dough flat into pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Allow to cool.


In a large bowl, soften cream cheese, then fold in the whipped topping. Spread over cooled crust. You can chill for a while at this point, or continue by arranging the fruit.

Begin with strawberries, sliced in half. Arrange in a circle around the outside edge. Continue with fruit of your choice, working towards the middle. If bananas are used, dip them in lemon juice so they don't darken. Then make a sauce to spoon over fruit.

In a saucepan, combine sugar, salt, corn starch, orange juice, lemon juice and water. Cook and stir over medium heat. Bring to a boil, and cook for 1 or 2 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat, and add grated orange rind. Allow to cool, but not set up. Spoon over fruit. Chill for two hours, then cut into wedges and serve.



 
 

    I don't known why, but there's something about making bread from scratch that I find very satisfying.  Sure, it takes a lot of effort, but it is SO worth it.  This is one of those recipes.  I had been wanting to experiment with bagels and try making them myself, which sometimes can be disastrous.  However, this recipe was actually easier than I thought (thanks to the bread machine) and I ended up with 8 wonderful homemade bagels that made me never want to buy bagels again.  The nice thing about this recipe, like most of the ones I post, is that you can sub in different fruit/nut combinations or leave them out all together.  It's hard to believe that boiling bread dough can create something so lovely.

Cranberry Nut Bagels

(makes 8)

1 1/8 cups water (70 to 80 degrees F)
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup quick-cooking oats
3 cups bread flour
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped pecans


TOPPING:
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


In bread machine pan, place the first seven ingredients in order suggested by manufacturer. Select dough setting (check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or flour if needed). Just before the final kneading (your machine may audibly signal this), add the cranberries and pecans.

When cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface; cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Divide into eight balls. Push thumb through the center of each ball to form a 1-in. hole. Place on a lightly floured surface. Cover and let rest for 5 minutes.

In a large saucepan, bring 2-qt. water to a boil. Drop bagels, one at a time, into boiling water. Cook for 45 seconds; turn and cook 45 seconds longer. Remove with a slotted spoon; drain well on paper towels.

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over bagels. Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.


 
 

     I just found the recipe for this drink today, so I have yet to try it, but I thought it looked good and it sort of takes traditional Irish coffee to the next level with some Grand Marnier in place of whiskey.  It looks like a lovely after-dinner drink and is a perfect one to make for St. Patrick's Day!  Have a cup of this with some scones or soda bread and may the luck of the Irish be with you.




Leprechaun's Delight
(Serves 1)

1 cup hot brewed coffee
1 fluid ounce brandy-based orange liqueur (Grand Marnier®)
1 fluid ounce Irish cream liqueur
1 tablespoon whipped cream
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest


Pour hot coffee into a mug. Stir in Grand Marnier and Irish cream. Top with a dollop of whipped cream, and sprinkle with grated orange rind.


 
 

     After a weekend in Philadelphia, I wanted to post another middle eastern recipe after going to a great Syrian restaurant in the city.  The hummus there was good, but I think I can top it.  Most people assume that hummus is pretty healthy, and while it does have loads of protein and is better than the average dip or appetizer, most store-bought kinds have a ton of oil and sesame paste in them.  I'm a huge fan of the stuff and wanted to find a lighter version with less oil and more flavor.  I must say, this is now the new standard hummus in my house.  Instead of using 1/2 cup or more of oil to make a smooth hummus, you use lemon juice and cottage cheese.  Sounds strange, but it's amazing.  With just a few ingredients, you can whip up enough to last for a week.  And it's cheaper than having to keep buying it.  I recommend giving this a shot.  (You can also add whatever spices you want.  I always use curry powder.)


Lowfat Hummus
(makes about 2 cups)

1/2 cup cottage cheese
2 cloves of garlic
4 T. lemon juice
1 can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
2 teaspoons tahini (sesame paste)  if you can't find this, you can leave it out
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. garam masala (or any indian spice)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and chop until smooth.  Add more lemon juice if mixture is too thick.  Also, add spices until you are satisfied with the flavor.  Serve with veggies and pita chips.  You can store it for about 1 week in the refrigerator.

 
 

     When I went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic last year, our group's favorite breakfast by far was the baked oatmeal.  I had never even heard of this before, but seriously--so good!  Sort of tastes like a oatmeal cookies and we ate ours with yogurt and pineapple.  This is a great recipe because you can add raisins, craisins, or any fruit you want.  The recipe says to bake in a 13 x 9 pan, but you probably could use a smaller, square pan and make it a little thicker.  (Just bake it a few minutes longer.)  Definitely give this one a try.

Baked Oatmeal

(serves 6)

1 1/2 cups quick oats

1/2 cup sugar 

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup melted butter 

1 egg

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9 x 2 baking pan.
Combine all ingredients together. Spread on prepared baking pan.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
Immediately spoon into a bowl. Top with warm milk, fresh fruit, or brown sugar if desired.


 
 

     Today's recipe is almost embarrassingly easy.  Yet,  people always go crazy for this pie!  I made this several times in college since it  was pretty difficult to bake anything ever, and my friends loved it.  It's like taking a no-bake cookie  and turning it into  a frozen, creamy pie.  It reminds me a little bit of an ice-cream cake...minus the cake part.  This makes a great spring/summer dessert AND it's pretty inexpensive to make.  I always decorate mine with some extra whipped cream and chocolate chips or Reese's  pieces.  Enjoy!

No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie

(serves 6-8)

1/3 cup peanut butter
1 (8 ounce) package frozen whipped topping, thawed
2 (4 ounce) packages single serve ready-made, fat free, chocolate pudding
1 prepared graham cracker pie crust  (I use the Oreo crusts instead)
1/2 cup chocolate & peanut butter chips for garnish (optional, but recommended!!)

In a mixing bowl, combine pudding and peanut butter; stir until smooth. Fold in whipped topping; stir until completely blended.

Pour filling into pie crust. Freeze pie until firm.  Top with optional chocolate & peanut butter chips.  Partially thaw in refrigerator, for about 2 hours or so, before serving. You can store leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer.