Category Archives: Baking Tips

Naturally Sweet and Utterly Delectable Strawberry Pie

**Don’t forget to tune in tomorrow for Tuesdays with Tommy. He has a five-part mini-series that starts tomorrow and trust me, you don’t want to miss it!**

Do you remember in the post about arepas that I said we made the arepas for Mother’s Day and promised that the recipe for my mom would be coming soon? Well folks, here it is—strawberry pie that is to die for!

Choosing a recipe to honor my mom on Mother’s Day was really hard because she has so many amazing recipes. Her most famous one is for her hot fudge sauce. I swear that stuff has crack in it because it is so so so addicting! I can’t even begin to imagine how many gallons of my mom’s hot fudge I have consumed in my lifetime. Her hot fudge is so good that I don’t even bother to eat any other kind of hot fudge because I know it won’t compare to my mom’s (it’s not worth the disappointment). But making hot fudge for her on Mother’s Day was 1) the easy choice and 2) impossible because it’s the only recipe she doesn’t share in hopes that someday you’ll see “Gramma Judy’s Hot Fudge Sauce” on the shelf in your local grocery store :).

Anyway, back to Mother’s Day. I thought about it for a while and finally settled on strawberry pie. First of all, I love fresh strawberries and when Amanda was here it happened to be strawberry season in Okinawa. And second of all, strawberry pie makes me think of summer and thinking of summer brings back so many wonderful memories from my childhood, including spending the whole summer at our lake house.

My not so red strawberries. I couldn't find any local ones so I had to settle for strawberries from the commissary.

From the time that I was four until I was a freshman in high school, we had a lake house that was just thirty minutes from our ‘regular’ house. It was close enough for my dad to commute to and from work everyday so we stayed out there for the whole summer. Man did I love that place! We didn’t have a TV so I spent all day everyday playing outside with the neighbors’ grandchildren. I spent so much time in the water during those summers that you would think I would have turned into a fish ☺. My mom had this big triangle (the musical instrument) hanging by our front door and when it was time to eat lunch or dinner she would ring the triangle and I would come running home!

We did a lot of entertaining during those summers at the lake house, both for out of town guests and friends from our hometown. Our lake house wasn’t fancy by any means. The best way to describe the décor is kitschy. When my parents bought the house, it was fully furnished. It looked like the previous owners just woke up one day and decided to leave because all of their stuff was still in the house—I’m talking books, dishes, linens, even some clothes! I can remember one of the first times we were at the house and I was looking through the dresser in my room. To my horror, I found a woman’s bra! I could not believe it and was mortified. Hahaha.

Our lake house may not have been fancy, but it was so cozy. One thing that we all loved the best was the enclosed screen porch. We ate all of our meals out on that porch, usually surrounded by lots of family and friends. There are certain foods that make me think of meals on the porch at our lake house—sourdough waffles, corn on the cob, and strawberry pie. And that is why I wanted to make it for my mom on Mother’s Day.

Since I promised you I would share the recipe, I thought it was a great excuse to make it again for us—just so I could take pictures of course ;).

While I was reading the recipe for the piecrust, I saw an option of making individual pies using an inverted muffin tin. I had never tried this before, but thought it sounded like a great idea so I gave it a go and they turned out really well. The piecrust was PERFECT—so flaky with an excellent butter flavor.

I tweaked the original pie recipe a bit to make it naturally sweet, but I don’t think it compromised the flavor at all. My husband and I both loved it—so much that we ate it two nights in a row. (I’m actually eating some as I blog about it right now….that’s how good it is!) Tonight I also topped our pies with some homemade whipped cream—delicious!!

Naturally Sweet Strawberry Pie
*I’m not sure where this recipe comes from other than my mom’s recipe binder 🙂

For the Pie Crust
*Recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking

Ingredients
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 + 1/8 tsp salt
7 1/2 tbsp butter, chilled
3 tbsp + 1/2 tbsp water, divided

Directions
To make a good piecrust, it is very important that the butter and ice water stay chilled until right before you use them. Letting them warm up too much will produce a crust that is not flaky. To really ensure a flaky crust, I recommend wrapping it in plastic wrap and letting it chill for 10-15 minutes before you are going to use it.

Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until incorporated. Add butter evenly over the dry ingredients and pulse a couple of times until most of the butter is the size of peas. Remove the lid and pour the 3 tbsp ice water over the butter and flour. Pulse until there are no more dry spots.

Remove the lid again and see if you can pinch the dough together with your fingers. If it won’t stick together, add a little more water and pulse again. Do not allow the dough to gather in a ball. Once you can pinch it between your fingers, take it out and shape it into a ball yourself. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 10-15 minutes.

To make a large pie, roll out the dough and fit it into a 9-inch pie pan. Prick the dough with a fork (to prevent bubbling), line it with foil, and weight it down with beans or metal pie weights. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, remove the weights and bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until golden.

To make individual pies, roll out the dough and cut into 4 or 5-inch rounds (I used a large ramekin for this). Fit rounds of dough over inverted muffin cups (that have been greased) and prick with a fork. (Side note: I forgot to prick mine until half-way through the baking process and they still turned out okay.) Cover with a large piece of foil and bake at 425 degrees for 11-12 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 4 minutes, or until golden.

Let piecrust cool completely before filling.

For the Strawberry Pie

Ingredients
*I made half the filling for the individual pies

6 cups strawberries, washed and stems removed
3/4 cup agave syrup
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1 package cream cheese, softened

Directions
**My strawberries were not super sweet (since I couldn’t find any local ones and had to buy some from the commissary that were shipped in from the States…boo). I drizzled a little honey over the cut up strawberries to bring out their sweetness, but this isn’t necessary if your strawberries are already really sweet.

Mash (I used the food processor) enough strawberries to measure 1 cup. Place agave in a small saucepan. Blend water and cornstarch together and add to agave. Stir in crushed berries and cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Once mixture boils, cook for 1 minute (stirring constantly). Cool.

Beat cream cheese until smooth and spread evenly over the baked pie shell. I probably used about a tablespoon per pie.

Fill shell with remaining berries. My mom usually leaves the berries whole and places them tops-down in the pie pan. I was worried they wouldn’t fit so well like that in the mini pies so I cut up the strawberries.


Pour cooked berry mixture over the top and refrigerate for several hours or until set.

For the Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp agave syrup
splash of maple syrup
splash of vanilla extract

Whip heavy cream on high speed until it starts to thicken. Add sweeteners (these are just approximations—add them to your taste preference) and vanilla. Beat until peaks form and pipe over individual pies.

Go make this strawberry pie—I promise you’ll love it! It’s just the perfect amount of sweetness, and utterly delectable!

Question: What summer foods bring back special childhood memories for you?

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Filed under Baking Tips, Desserts

Satisfying My Cravings

Fist off, let me apologize for not posting for so long.  I was finishing up my classes last week for grad school (yay!), which means I just have my thesis to write this summer and then I will graduate with an M.S. in Global and International Education.  I have loved the program, but it has been a long two years and I’m very excited to know the end is in sight!  Then my cat ran away.

This sounds like a silly excuse that kids give their teachers for not doing their homework, but in my case it’s true.  He is an indoor cat, except for going out on our balcony.  On Sunday night he ran away and we didn’t find him until Tuesday evening.  It was a long two days and I was starting to feel pretty depressed about it.  I love my little Harold and I’m so happy to finally have him home!

Our little Harold 🙂

Anyway, enough with the excuses!  I am happy to report that we are now two weeks into our challenge and so far things are still going really well.  I have found that I am craving sugar a lot less, which for me is a HUGE accomplishment!  I also think I have more energy.  I have been subbing a lot in the past two weeks and spending a lot of time out in the hot sun, so it’s a little hard to tell, but I haven’t taken any naps and in the past, I was taking a 30-minute nap almost every day!

Although I am not craving sugar as much, I still want something sweet once in a while.  I made some of HEAB’s oaties the other day.  My friend Katie made some for me before and they were delightful, but without adding any chocolate chips or butterscotch chips, they were too “healthy” tasting and didn’t really taste like I was having a treat!  I highly recommend them though with chocolate or butterscotch chips.  HEAB has many variations and the ones I have tried are all delicious.

I sought out to find something else that doesn’t involve chocolate, but would satisfy my craving.  I found a recipe for peanut butter honey cookies.  These were excellent and definitely satisfied my sweet tooth.  Dare I say they were even too sweet for me?  I know that is hard to believe, but I’m finding that honey gives baked goods a very rich flavor so I need to start reducing the amount of honey called for in the recipes I try.  Anyway, these were excellent and I thought I would share the recipe with you.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I think they would be delightful as cookie sandwiches with cream cheese “frosting” (cream cheese sweetened with a little honey) in the middle.

Peanut Butter Honey Cookies

Recipe from http://www.honey.com

Makes 2 dozen

3/4 cup honey

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 egg

3/4 cup peanut butter**

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

In medium bowl, cream honey and butter until light and fluffy.  Beat in egg, peanut butter and vanilla.  Add flour, salt and baking soda; mix until combined.  Drop dough, one tablespoon at a time, onto well-greased baking sheet.  Dip fork into flour and press flat on each cookie to form an “x.”  Bake at 350°F for about 10-12 minutes.  Remove cookies from sheet and cool on wire rack.

**I used natural peanut butter (the kind with oil on top that you have to mix in).

**I also halved the recipe, so only used the yolk of the egg.  I like my cookies under done so I only baked them for 8 minutes rather than 10-12 as the recipe calls for.  Oh and the “x” in the cookies was not happening.  I don’t know if it’s because it is super humid here or what, but the fork kept sticking to the cookies even after I sprayed it.  “X” or no “x” they were excellent :).

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Filed under Baking Tips, Cookies, Desserts