Black Bottom Cherry Pie Tarts

Cherries, oh, cherries. Is there anything better than fresh sweet cherries in July? I found some for a decent price at my local grocer and stocked up for the weekend. 

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My mom told me recently that my departed grandfather loved cherry pie the very most, and I couldn’t help but feel a bit tender as I purchased my cherries to create a cherry pie for Sunday dinner. Of course, I couldn’t just make a cherry pie. I had to complicate things, so I decided to make individual pies in my muffin tin with cute little gingham liners.

Which made me pause and consider changing the name of this blog to be something about gingham because I adore gingham. But I soldiered through my distracted musings and focused on the task at hand and began to make mini pies rather than re-design my neglected food blog.

I started with a new pie crust recipe. Why? I don’t know. So here it is.

2 1/2 cups of flour 

2 T. of sugar

1 t. of salt

12 T. cold butter

8 T. shortening

1/4 cup ice cold water.

 

Combine flour, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Pour onto large metal baking sheet. Add butter and shortening, then using a pastry cutter, cut butter and shortening into the flour. (You can do this in a bowl if you prefer. I tried it out on the sheet on a whim and liked working with it that way.) Once you have cut the fats into the dry ingredients, drizzle with cold water and sort of toss together, adding more water as needed to JUST barely bind the flour together. You don’t want to smear the butter or shortening into the butter, that ruins the flakiness. So just toss it until you can press it into a soft ball. Roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Cherry Filling

3 1/2 cups of pitted sweet red cherries

2/3 cup of sugar

1/3 cup of corn starch

1 t. almond extract

1/2 t.s vanilla

Take baking sheet used for pie crust and pour the cherries onto the sheet. In small bowl combine the corn starch and sugar and then sprinkle evenly over the cherries. Drizzle extracts onto pile of cherries, sugar, and corn starch. then using hands gently toss and roll the cherries to coat well with the corn starch, sugar, vanilla, and almond. Let sit.

I use freezer paper as a base for rolling out pie crust. It works really well, and then I throw the whole mess away. So sprinkle a large sheet of freezer paper with flour. Then gently ROLL don’t press the pie crust into a large rectangle. I then placed a cupcake liner on the corner and using a pizza roller cut a large square about 1 inch wider than the base of the cupcake liner. Repeat for number of mini pies you will be making. Gently peel the pie crust square from the freezer paper and hold by corners, creating a small “purse” shape. Fit into the cupcake liner in the cupcake pan. Shape with care to the shape of the cupcake liner. Does not need to be perfect, but don’t lose filling space by only half putting the pie crust into the liner. 

At this point I added Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Chips to the bottom of the little tarts. You can skip that step if you wish.

Take a large spoon and carefully spoon cherries into each tart, taking care not to over fill, but also not under-filling each tart. It’s  not hard, just remember they will collapse a bit while baking as the juices run out. Top each tart with a tiny slice of butter on top.

For the final step I rolled the crust out and using a large star shaped cookie cutter cut a star to top each tart. Cute, right?

So excited to try these tonight after dinner! 

 

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Chocolate Sour Cream Mousse

I made this on impulse as a fruit dip. It was fantastic. It works as a stand alone mousse as well. Plus, it is super easy, so why not?

1 cup whipping cream

1 cup sour cream

1/2-3/4 cup sugar

1/4-1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/2 t. vanilla extract

1/2 t. almond extract

Combine whipping cream and sour cream in a bowl. Whip on high, slowly adding sugar and cocoa powder to desired sweetness/cocoa flavor. Finish off with vanilla and almond extract and continue whipping until the cream thickens to the consistency of whipped cream.

Serve with fresh strawberries, bananas, pound cake, kiwi, graham crackers. you really cannot go wrong. This would also work well as a cake filler or to top a chocolate cream pie. 

Or simply serve in little cups for a romantic dinner treat.

 


Peanut butter bars

This recipe is an ode to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

I started with a shortbread crust, a recipe I found on Bakerella. It’s the crust for her lemon bar recipe.

I made it plain on a whim one day and fell in love with the simplicity.

Crust:

1 cup softened butter

1 3/4 cup flour

2/3 cup powdered sugar

Combine into a thick dough. Press into a jelly roll pan.

Peanut butter layer:

1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (I used Kirkland’s All Natural Peanut Butter)

1 cup softened butter

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 t. vanilla extract

1 egg

1/2 cup flour

Whip peanut butter, butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until smooth, then stir in gently 1 egg and 1/2 cup of flour.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool for 1 hour.

Frosting:

1/2 cup softened butter

1/3 cup cocoa

2 cups powdered sugar

1 t. vanilla

3 T. whole milk

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, melted

Whip butter, cocoa, powdered sugar, vanilla and milk until smooth. Microwave 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips until soft, stir chocolate chips until smooth, and then add to frosting, whipping as you add the melted chocolate. Allow frosting to whip until fluffy. Spread over cooled peanut butter bars.


Not-from-a-can Biscuits

I was going to make a salad for dinner tonight, but then I thought, “Why?” So I made biscuits instead. Obvious decision, right?

Mmmm. Biscuits are one of the simplest, most delicious breads you can make. No really, everyone should make biscuits at least once. If you are up for a little excitement, bake up one of the can biscuits, and one from scratch and have a little beauty pageant. Homemade biscuits are big and fluffy and sweet and salty and can biscuits are flat and have a weird after taste and an off yellow color.

One reason biscuits are so simple is that they don’t require any unusual ingredients. Most home cooks, even the most inexperienced will have the ingredients on hand, which makes them perfectly convenient.

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1 t. salt

1 T. sugar

1 T. baking powder

1/2 cup softened butter (or margarine, or shortening)

3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large mixing bowl (or kitchenaid bowl) combine dry ingredients…flour, salt, sugar, baking powder. Once combined take the softened butter, cut it in half, then in half again, then toss it into the dry ingredients. Now, cut the butter into the flour. The point of doing this is to create little balls of butter (or shortening or margarine) that are coated in the dry ingredients, then when you smash it all together and roll it out, you will have a very soft dough, which will translate into fluffy biscuits. Cutting is simple. take two knives and simply start cutting the butter into lots of little pieces until you get a grainy texture throughout the mix. In a kithenaid, you can put your paddle attatchment to work and have the right texture on low speed in just a couple of minutes. Now, drizzle the milk over the flour and butter mixture, and toss then, press into a soft ball. Remove from the bowl and roll out on a lightly floured surface. You want it to be rolled to about 3/4 -1  inch thickness. then, take a round cup, or biscuit cutter, whatever, and cut biscuits into the dough. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes.

Easier than pancakes. Now, blend up a stick of butter and 1/4 cup of honey. See? Now I’m your best friend. You just made honey butter and your life will never be the same again. Slather it on a biscuit. Plan to serve this for your next birthday it’s better than cake.


Mashed Potato Bake

I dont’ really know what to call this one. It’s a version of something my mother in law makes, that my dh loves. Tradition calls it sour cream potatoes, but I don’t feel that really fits well enough. It’s a spin off of the traditional funeral potatoes Utah Mormons are famous for, or potato crap as my grandmother calls it. So with that off the wall introduction, on to the ever evolved mashed potato bake.

 

6 large red potatoes, scrubbed and boiled until tender…skins on

1 bunch green onions, sliced

8 oz. sour cream

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1 1/2 t. garlic powder

1 t. dried parsley

1/2 t. pepper

2 t. kosher salt

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (or more, if you like it smothered)

 

In large bowl, mash potatoes with a potato masher. Toss half of the green onion into the bowl and combine. Sprinkle all herbs over potatoes, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper as well. Top off with sour cream and stir well. Layer half the potatoes in a baking dish (8×8 or equivalent round pan), top with half of the cheddar cheese, layer the remaining potatoes and top with remaining green onion and cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes.


Blueberry Dreams Muffins

I’m in love with blueberries. There I said it. I have lots of blueberries in my home, due to this unhealthy fetish, and when afternoon hits, it’s time to play.

And our love child was born. Blueberry muffins. Big, soft, fluffy, sweet, delightful blueberry dreams.

 

Ingredients:

4 eggs

2 cups white sugar

2 sticks of softened butter

1 t. vanilla

4 cups of flour

1 t. baking soda

1 t. salt

1 1/2 c. sour cream

1/2 c. heavy whipping cream

2 cups of blueberries

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, and butter until soft and creamy. Add the vanilla and stir until combined.

Next, add the flour, soda, and salt, and gently fold together. Once slightly mixed in, add the sour cream and whipping cream and fold until just combined, toss in the blueberries and once again, gently fold them in.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Slather with butter spread and eat them all. Say a prayer of thanks for blueberries. I did.


Chicken Broccoli Cheese Casserole

We all have them, those favorite cream of soup recipes. This is one from my childhood that I remember and love, the only problem is that I really don’t care for cream soups. I hate the way they glob out of the can, I hate the strange ingredients on the list (mehcanically separated chicken anyone?) and so I have worked hard to replace them in my cooking.
Tonight was a huge success.

Ingredients:
1 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
1 1/4 lb. of chicken breasts, cubed
1 small white onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, pressed
4 cups of chopped fresh broccoli
1 t. salt
1/4-1/2 t. pepper
1 T. chicken base
1/4 t. allspice
1/2 t. rubbed sage
1/4 t. marjoram
1 t. dried parsley
2 T. flour
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
2 t. cholula
2 to 3 cups of shredded medium/sharp cheddar cheese
1 package stove top stuffing
3 T. butter

I know that seems like a long list of ingredients, but once you start adding things to the pan, it’s quite simple, plus you are cutting back on the processed foods by cooking from scratch and gaining a knack for using spices in freestyle cooking.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

First, heat a large frying pan over medium high heat with the butter and olive oil, once hot, toss in the chicken, the onion, and the garlic and saute until the chicken is cooked through. Once cooked, add in the broccoli and top off with a small amount of water to saute the broccoli. Now, chicken base, the herbs and spices, salt and pepper, and flour, stir briskly to make a thick roux in the pan. Once the flour is mixed in, add in the whipping cream and whole milk, allow to heat, then add the cheese. Stir and add in the cholula. Once done, grab a spoon and check the flavor for salt and pepper.

Pour the mixture into a large 9×13 and set aside.

In a large microwave bowl melt the last butter, toss with the stuffing mix until evenly coated, then bake for about 20 minutes.

Pat yourself on the back and enjoy your lovely dinner.