RSS Feed

Author Archives: Lanie Brown, Texas real estate broker

Lanie’s Summer Blueberry Pie

As promised this long holiday week, I made a blueberry pie as a follow-up to the 4th of July Cherry Pie (July 2018 archives). For blueberry, I had the idea to add a fresh herb. I again checked the tried and true “plaid cookbook,” and I googled for herbs to pair with blueberry and found a helpful article on Driscoll’s berry farm web site. Here is my original recipe for Summer Blueberry Pie:

Blueberry Pie Filling

3 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed+drained
1 cup sugar
Rounded 1/4 cup flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp finely chopped rosemary
Zest+juice from 1/2 lemon
2 Tbs softened butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Additional flour, salt, shortening for pie crust

Whisk together: sugar + flour + salt + rosemary. With a fork, mash in softened butter. Add and mix in with fork: lemon zest + lemon juice + vanilla. Toss in blueberries.

Set aside blueberry mixture to macerate. Meanwhile, make pie crust…

Homemade Pie Crust

Sift together: 1+1/2 cups flour + 1/2 tsp salt.
Cut in: 1/2 cup shortening.
Add and toss lightly with a fork to mix dough: 4-5 Tbs cold water, adding and mixing 1 Tbs at a time.
Gather dough into a ball and knead a couple times. Do not over-handle the dough. Form dough into a ball; cut ball in half; form each half into a disk; wrap each disk in plastic wrap; refrigerate to chill.
Roll one disk of dough onto floured board; roll out enough that dough will hang over edge of pie dish. Roll pie dough onto rolling pin and lift gently to transfer rolled dough to pie dish.
Give blueberry pie filling a stir and pour it into pie shell.
Roll second disk of dough onto floured board; roll out enough that dough will cover pie. Roll pie dough onto rolling pin and lift gently to transfer rolled dough to top of pie; fold ends of dough under and crimp top and bottom pie crusts together to form sealed edge. Cut slits in top pie crust to allow steam to escape as pie bakes.

Loosely cover edge of pie crust with foil to protect from burning. Bake at 425* for 40 minutes. Let pie cool completely on a wire rack to set filling before slicing.

Serve plain or with vanilla ice cream. I’m convinced leftover fruit pie makes a healthy breakfast.

For ambitious bakers, it would be fantastic to make both a cherry pie and a blueberry pie for the 4th of July! God bless America!

Up next: I had the crazy decadent idea to make cherry pie s’more…

Advertisements

Lanie’s 4th of July Cherry Pie

Over the weekend I was inspired to make a 4th of July cherry pie. While apple would be the all-American choice, I like the patriotic color of cherry. I checked the tried and true “plaid cookbook,” called my Mom, refused to add red food coloring to my food, and came up with my recipe for 4th of July Cherry Pie:

Cherry Pie Filling

1 16-oz bag frozen pitted dark sweet cherries (I shop at Trader Joe’s)
juice from thawed cherries + cherry juice = 1/3 cup cherry juice
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 Tbs softened butter
1/2 tsp almond extract
Zest from 1/4 orange
Additional flour, salt, shortening for pie crust

Pour frozen cherries into a bowl to thaw. When cherries are thawed, reserve cherry juice and add more cherry juice to equal 1/3 cup juice.

Whisk together sugar + flour + salt. With a fork, mash in softened butter. Add and stir cherry juice + almond extract + orange zest. Toss in thawed cherries.

Set aside cherry mixture to macerate. Meanwhile, make pie crust…

Homemade Pie Crust

Sift together: 1+1/2 cups flour + 1/2 tsp salt.
Cut in: 1/2 cup shortening.
Add and toss lightly with a fork to mix dough: 4-5 Tbs cold water, adding and mixing 1 Tbs at a time.
Gather dough into a ball and knead a couple times. Do not over-handle the dough. Form dough into a ball; cut ball in half; form each half into a disk; wrap each disk in plastic wrap; refrigerate to chill.
Roll one disk of dough onto floured board; roll out enough that dough will hang over edge of pie dish. Roll pie dough onto rolling pin and lift gently to transfer rolled dough to pie dish.
Give cherry pie filling a stir and pour it into pie shell.
Roll second disk of dough onto floured board; slice dough into long strips with a sharp knife or pizza wheel; lay strips of dough in a lattice design over pie filling; fold ends of dough strips under and crimp top and bottom pie crusts together to form edge. Try to make it pretty, but don’t worry; it will be delicious.

Loosely cover edge of pie crust with foil to protect from burning. Bake at 425* for 40 minutes. Let pie cool completely on a wire rack to set filling before slicing.

Serve plain or with vanilla ice cream. Definitely eat leftover pie for breakfast – that’s why there’s no photo of my weekend creation.

A couple notes: 1) When I was ready to learn how to make pie crust, my Mom came over and made it with me. It’s best if an experienced baker will help on the first try, and then it takes practice to make a pretty pie crust. 2) For additional cherry juice, I pour from a jar of maraschino cherries which I have in the ‘fridge for making Super Cutie Cherry Muffins (February 2017 archives). 3) For orange zest in July, I froze orange rinds in quarters when I peeled oranges in the winter season, but you can buy oranges any time of year.

Up next: the Sage hubby requested a blueberry pie…

Lanie’s Fresh Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

One of my first and best friends from Kingwood, Texas, is moving. I am honored to be included in her celebration at my old office where I began the tradition of pot luck parties. To secure my invitation since I’m no longer affiliated with that office, I promised homemade ice cream. While all of my ice cream flavors seem to be appreciated, I wanted to make something special for my friend. I was inspired by the mint plant on my patio and decided on mint chocolate chip. Many recipes I referenced cautioned that it takes peppermint extract to get a strong mint flavor. The recipe author I trusted most admitted he doesn’t get enough mint from his plant so buys it at the market to make ice cream, so I left the mint on the patio for iced tea and bought a 1 ounce bunch of big mint leaves. I was determined to make mint chocolate chip ice cream with real mint and my usual easy method, so I made up my own recipe and gave it a whirl. The ice cream was delicious and definitely minty. In fact, the fresh scent of mint lingered in the house the next day. Here is my fresh and simple ice cream creation:

In a pot, combine:
1 cup whole milk;
2 cups heavy cream;
3/4 cup sugar;
1 oz mint leaves, rinsed and patted dry.
Turn heat to medium, and gently stir cream mixture to dissolve sugar. Heat and stir until cream mixture is hot and steaming. Turn off heat; cover pot; let mint leaves steep in hot cream for an hour.

Strain cream mixture into a 4-cup heat-proof measuring cup. Mash mint leaves with the back of a wooden spoon to extract as much mint flavor and color as possible. Discard mint. Stir in 1/2 tsp Tahitian vanilla. Cover cream mixture with plastic wrap and set in freezer to chill until very cold.

Turn on electric ice cream maker, and pour in cold ice cream mixture.
Let mix until beginning to thicken, about 15-18 minutes.
Add in 4 oz dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces. (While big chunks of chocolate look appetizing, smaller pieces of frozen chocolate make a nicer bite in a spoonful of ice cream.)
Let mix another 5 minutes.
Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer to firm up.

I made this ice cream to serve at an open house as a trial run, and my friend said it was delicious. I will be making the exact same recipe again for her celebration and sending the extra with her, and I will remember my best friend every time I make fresh mint chocolate chip ice cream.

 

Spring Mint Sweet Tea

 

As we are receiving hot spring weather in Houston, I name this Sweet Tea Season. Sweet Tea Season runs from the first weekend of hot, sweaty yard work until pumpkin spiced latte month. Last year I started experimenting with making a variety of sweet tea flavors and shared my recipe for peach tea (July 2017 archives). Today I kick off Sweet Tea Season with refreshing mint tea. Here are the simple steps:

  1. Heat kettle of fresh water to a boil.
  2. While water is heating, pour 1/4 cup honey into heat-safe, 4-cup measuring cup. It’s best to use local honey.
  3. Unwrap 2 family-size tea bags and set them aside. Our house brand is Luzianne decaffeinated so we can enjoy iced tea all day and evening.
  4. Pour boiling water over tea bags and into honey to a little over the 4-cup measure mark. Stir gently to melt the honey. Steep tea for 8 minutes.
  5. While tea is steeping, thinly slice 1/2 lemon and harvest 5 mint leaves.
  6. Fill pitcher with ice cubes, about 3/4 full. Add lemon slices and mint leaves.
  7. When timer goes off, use a large spoon to remove tea bags and squeeze excess tea into measuring cup by pressing another spoon against them.
  8. Let tea cool for several minutes until it is safe to pour tea into your pitcher. Pour cooled tea over ice.
  9. To serve, fill a glass with ice cubes and pour tea over ice. Garnish with another mint leaf. Store pitcher in ‘fridge. It’s okay if the ice melts, but drink the tea in the next day or two.

Happy spring, y’all!

 

Chocolate Almond Buttercream Frosting


Has anyone else noticed the Hershey’s cocoa special every holiday baking season? Buy this and get free a carton of Hershey’s cocoa; buy that and get free a carton of Hershey’s cocoa… I am buying these baking items anyway, so I take the free carton of Hershey’s cocoa… And eventually soon I had in my pantry a collection of about 7 containers of Hershey’s cocoa. Seems instead of buying chocolate to melt for recipes, I could start using up this abundance of free cocoa. So, I’ve created an easy version of my Dark Chocolate Buttercream Frosting recipe (February 2014 archives).

This is my easy chocolate frosting creation:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 tsp instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 tsp very hot tap water
1 tsp quality vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
1  cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup Hershey’s cocoa, of course

Beat softened butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Mix into butter: espresso + vanilla + almond extract.
Gradually add and mix: confectioners sugar + Hershey’s cocoa.

*I made this frosting to frost The Bomb Cherry Chocolate Cake (January 2014 archives), so I used Tahitian vanilla for a nice flavor with the cherry. And I thought almond sounded good too. This is like if Jergen’s lotion were a chocolate cake.

Bible Stories for Kittens

 

 

 

Today Hubby & I said good-bye as we gave over our foster kittens to their new mom. If cats have 9 lives, we’ve seen 2 of those.

The kittens had been abandoned on a county road to meet their fates with coyotes when we noticed them. As we walked across the dirt road to check out the kittens, they came running, one directly to each of us, with expectant looks which said, “Will you take care of us? Are you our new family?” When we couldn’t place the strays in a no-kill shelter back in Houston, we committed to foster while we found a loving family to adopt them. A very nice lady had come to meet the pair and promised to take them, but she needed time to get organized with some supplies… and then Hurricane Harvey hit Houston. Suddenly, everyone had bigger concerns than prior appointments, and we didn’t know if the new mom would ever come for the “hurrikittens.” But we were grateful they were safe with us because who-knows? what could have happened to them during the hurricane if they’d been in a shelter.

This morning I told the kittens three Bible stories every kitty needs to know. Telling these Bible stories gave me a final sweet responsibility with the little bundles as I prepared for a heart-breaking good-bye:

Adam and the animals: God created all the animals, and he gave them to Adam and let Adam name them. God loved Adam and wanted him to have the animals, and He loved the animals and wanted Adam to know them and take care of them. I reminded the kittens we took care of them when we found them by the dirt road and we named them Tuohy and Maxine.
*Genesis 2:19-20.

Noah and the animals: God instructed Noah to take a pair of each animal into the ark with his family. God remembered Noah and all the animals with him in the ark. When it was safe to leave the ark, God instructed Noah to release all the animals so they could scurry about and be fruitful. God loved the animals and saved them from the great flood, and He used Noah to protect them. I told the pair of kittens we are happy we protected them during the hurricane and floods in Houston.
*Genesis 7:2-3; 8:1, 15-16.

Jesus and the animals: Every creature in Heaven and on earth sings to the Lamb of God. The animals rejoice for Jesus in Heaven, so we will see our beloved pets again in Heaven. I promised the kittens I love them and I will miss them, and God promises us I will snuggle them again one day in Heaven. Amen!
*Revelation 5:13.

I hesitated for a moment to show the kittens love, to get attached and risk my heart. But in almost the same instant I realized they should be loved. After all, some cold-blooded person had dumped them and left them to be killed. Jesus would show the kittens love. So I gave away my heart to the little love bugs. I knew God gave them to us to love and protect, and I knew one day, probably soon, He would call us to give them back. I’ve always lost beloved pets to disease and death, never by choice. It was hard emotionally to foster the hurrikittens and give them away, but we had the privilege of saving their lives and loving them, and Hubby & I agree it was the right thing to do.

 

 

Lanie’s Pink Lemonade Cherry Ice Cream

I am blessed each month to attend Inspire Women’s Inner Circle where the sweet staff and wonderful teacher, Anita Carman, refresh and encourage women’s ministry leaders. This month we celebrated Anita’s birthday, so I brought ice cream to go with cake. I like to make a pink ice cream to match Inspire Women’s signature color, so I created pink lemonade cherry ice cream with white chocolate morsels. Here is another refreshing summer ice cream creation:

2 hours in advance, in a small bowl combine:
2 cups pitted, dark sweet cherries (I prefer Trader Joe’s frozen);
1/2 cup sugar;
Zest from 2 lemons;
Fresh juice from 2 lemons.

Let cherries macerate. When it’s time to mix the ice cream, strain cherries and reserve cherry juice. Mash half the cherries to mix in the ice cream mix, and reserve half to add in later.

In a large mixing bowl, mix on low speed until sugar is dissolved (2 minutes):
1 cup whole milk;
1/2 cup sugar.

Stir in:
2 cups heavy cream;
1/2 cherries, mashed;
Reserved cherry juice;
1 tsp Tahitian vanilla.

Turn on electric ice cream maker, and pour in ice cream mixture.
Let mix until beginning to thicken, about 15-18 minutes.

Add in:
Reserved cherries;
Heaping 1/2 cup white chocolate morsels.
Let mix another 5 minutes.

Ice cream will be soupy. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer to firm up. Remove frozen ice cream from freezer to soften for about 10 minutes before scooping.

This is so fresh and delicious! Maybe try amping up the sour by adding the zest and juice of a third lemon… Happy summer!

Unpaid ad, but FYI: My ice cream maker is the Cuisinart Classic Frozen Yogurt – Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker.

%d bloggers like this: