Living The Sweet Life

Monday, May 28, 2012

"Real" Key Lime Pie

This is one of my favorite summer desserts to make for any occasion.  It's so tasty, and "fresh," and it's surprising how many people have never had a real key lime pie.  Keep your eyes peeled for real key limes, they're little and round, not like the limes you're used to seeing.  You can sometimes find real key lime juice in a bottle, but it's not the same as fresh squeezed, so wait until you find the real limes in season.  Our supermarket sells them in a little green mesh bag and there just happens to be enough juice in those limes to make two pies.  I usually make one pie, and freeze the juice for the second pie.  I know this will quickly become a favorite.

The Crust Ingredients

1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
6 tbsp. unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
3 tbsp.granular sugar (I use organic, to help make this healthy.)

The Pie Ingredients

1 can of sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
1/2 cup key lime juice, freshly squeezed
1 tbsp. key lime zest
4 large egg yolks

The Pie Topping

1 1/2 cups of whipping cream
2 tbsp. icing / powdered sugar
1 tsp. key lime zest for garnish

Tips for getting every last drop of juice out:


See how little and round the limes are?  You can use a regular wooden or glass citrus juicer, but my mom figured out that the garlic masher from Tupperware holds half a key lime perfectly.  This handy tool makes squeezing those little guys fast and easy.



I usually get 1 cup of juice from squeezing all of the limes in the bag, but if you don't and you're just shy of one cup, top up the juice with water to measure 1 cup.  You won't be adding a lot of water, it will be just a little bit. Use 1/2 cup of the juice for this pie, and then freeze the other half a cup for another.  If you buy limes individually, keep going until you get 1/2 cup of juice for your pie. Don't forget to get zest off of the limes.


This is how many limes I had to squeeze to get one cup.  I didn't count them before I started, but I hope this helps to give you an idea of how many you will need.  At my market the bag of limes is about $2.99.

Method:

1.  Heat the oven to 375 degrees to bake the crust.

2. In a medium bowl, using a fork, combine the graham cracker crumbs, butter, and sugar until evenly blended.  Press firmly and evenly, into a 9 inch pie plate.  Bake until lightly browned, about 12 - 14 minutes.  Remove from the oven to a wire rack and cool completely.


3.  Reduce the heat in the oven to 325 degrees.

4.  In a medium bowl, gently whisk together the condensed milk, egg yolks, key lime juice, and zest.  Gently, gently, gently mix them together until smooth and creamy.  Pour the mixture into the cooled crust.


5. Bake the pie until the center is set but still quivers when you give it a little nudge, about 15 - 17 minutes.  Remove the pie from the oven and cool on a wire rack.


6.  Before serving, whip the cream, gradually adding the icing / powdered sugar.  Taste it to make sure it's sweet enough - I have been known to add more than the amount in the recipe.  Whip the cream on a medium speed until soft peaks form, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Spoon the cream over the pie and and garnish with a bit of zest.  Chill the pie in the fridge for about 30 minutes, or the freezer for about 10 minutes before serving.


This is sure to impress - it's a really lovely summer treat.  Enjoy.

Oh one more thing:  I have used this same filling to make little key lime tarts.  Instead of a graham cracker crust, just drop a vanilla wafer cookie into the bottom of a small cupcake liner and pour the filling over top.  Once baked and cooled, top off with the sweetened whipping cream.  Heavenly!

The Lost Love Letter

I was going through some things today, and found this tucked away.  A love letter from my sweet son.

I love when he said, "you couldn't even begin to understand the tiniest fathom of my love..."

A mother understands.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hawaiian Angel Cake

I love this cake.  It's healthy, tasty and super fast and easy to make.  It's so good that after I have it I feel like I should be guilty, but really there is no need.  You can serve it with a bit of sweetened whipping cream if you like but when I have this at my Mom's it's always plain.  It's Angel Food Cake and pineapple, that's it.  Enjoy this fresh healthy dessert.


Ingredients:

Betty Crocker Angel Food Cake Mix
One 19 ounce can of Dole Crushed Pineapple (or measure 19 oz. from two smaller cans)
Coconut Extract

Method:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

1.  Pour the cake mix into the mixer.  (This recipe will not work with an Angel Food cake mix that comes with two bags in the mix.  Betty Crocker is the one to get.



2.  Pour the 19 oz. can of crushed pineapple with it's juice into the mixer with the cake mix.  Sometimes I can't find the 19 ounce can, so I will buy two of the 14 ounce ones and measure the extra 5 ounces out of the second can.  You can also add the one teaspoon of coconut extract.


3.  Mix the cake mix and the pineapple on a low speed for thirty seconds.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
4.  Now, mix for an additional one minute on medium.


5.  Pour the batter into an ungreased 9 x 13 pan.


6.  Bake the cake for 35 minutes until golden and it bounces back when touched lightly in the middle.  Cool in the pan on a rack.


7.  Whip up some whipping cream and sweeten with icing sugar.


Fast, easy and healthy.  Try it, I know you'll love it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Starbucks Refills

I came across an interesting blog about Starbucks.  If you love coffee as I do you'll want to check it out.  The blog is called Starbuckmelody  she is the "ultimate" Starbucks fan and reviews different stores and keeps upto date on anything Starbucks.  She clarified some points about the Starbucks "refill" policy. 

Who knew?  This is the reply from the Starbucks Customer Care at Starbucks.com about getting a refill of coffee, iced coffee or even an ice tea - no matter what handcrafted beverage you purchase.  (So long as you have a registered card and it's the same visit.) 


Starbucks Reply posted July 11, 2011 at 9:27 am

Here is the original  long thread at Starbucks Customer Care - Discounted Refills on Coffee - even if you buy a different drink.
Starbucks gave the final word on the last post.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Taylor's Favourite Rhubarb Cake

Taylor's 26th birthday was last week and he wanted me to bake a cake that he loved and remembered from when he was little.  I haven't made this cake in years and years, but apparetly it was one of his favourites.  So out came the stacks of cook books and papers to try to find the recipe.  Thank goodness I found it!  Taylor wrote the recipe out on a Labours of Love note pad.  The cake was awesome!
The precious little recipe hand printed by Tay,
look at the spelling, "rubarb" and "suger."


Method:
Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees

5 cups of Rhubarb
1 cup of Sugar
1 small package of Strawberry Jello
3 cups of Minature Marshmallows
1 Betty Crocker French Vanilla Cake Mix

1.  Put the rhubarb in the bottom of a 9" x 13" pan.
2.  Sprinkle the rhubarb with the sugar.
3.  Next sprinkle on the jello powder.
4.  Next sprinkle the mini marshmallows on top.

This is how it will look so far.

5.  Make the Betty Crocker (not Duncan Hinds) French Vanilla cake mix according to the instructions on the box, and pour over top of the marshmallows, sugars and rhubarb.

Tap the pan just a little bit on the counter to release any air bubbles.

Pop it into the oven on the middle rack and bake for 50 - 60 minutes, until a tooth pick comes out clean.

This is what it will look like.  Just let it cool on a rack. 
You can serve it warm or cool, but you definitly serve it with vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Last Love Letter

The perfect gift. (2010)
Spencer used the word "Love" fifteen times.

I remember when Taylor (my oldest) was just a little boy and would bring me a bouquet of dandelions home after school.  One day I realized that, there hadn't been a bouquet in a long long time.  My thought was, "Wow if I had known that last bouquet would be my last, I would have enjoyed it more."

Because "my boys" are ten years apart, I was thrilled when Spencer showed up one day after school with a hand full of dandelions.  It's such a sweet, sweet gesture, that little kids (especially little boys) do for their Mom.  But I knew that one day it would stop.  So I was savored every little dandelion that came my way - every time.

I'm getting that same feeling with the love letters.  I've loved getting all sorts of little notes from my boys, but as they get older I know they too will stop.  So this one from Spencer is especially sweet, I can still see the little boy who gave me dandelions in this one, but I know what's coming.

Part of being a Mom to boys is teaching them to be sweet, while you are, the only woman in their life.  Taylor gave me a Valentines card a few years back that said, "You were my first Valentine".  I loved it, and in reading those words I could see the proud little boy with a fist full of dandelions.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Button Sugar Cookies


Sewing themed sugar cookies, this is right up my alley.  Since I've learned how to make cookie cutters I've really been into making sugar cookies.  Spencer had a project for Math class on "PI", so we decided to make sugar cookies in that shape, outline them, and then "flood" them with green icing.  They turned out super cute.

Here's Spencer "flooding" his cookies.
Just for the record he got 90% on the project.
So needless to say I've been spending a fair amount of time searching the internet for cute sugar cookies.

I could hardly contain my excitement when I saw these!
Button Sugar Cookies - I can't wait to make them!

I found them over at the Sugar & Meringue Blog.
Emily even has the cards to print out and sew the cookies onto.
Thank-you Emily for sharing such a great idea.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Louis Vuitton Speedy 25

Audrey Hepburn and her Speedy 25 (I love her.)

The Speedy marks one of the single most important turning points in Louis Vuitton’s history. In 1932, LV was still a luxury luggage house, with such a reputation that the brand’s designs were starting to spill over into haute couture. After the Keepall travel bag became such a icon, Georges Vuitton was urged to create a smaller carry on for short trips. The Speedy 30 was the very first crossover—both luggage and a purse, and Louis Vuitton’s very first true handbag. By 1965, the bag was a worldwide icon, inspiring Audrey Hepburn to personally ask for an even smaller version to be created. And so, the Speedy 25 was born—Audrey was never again seen without one, and the history of Louis Vuitton was forever linked to the Speedy.

(More from this article here)

Thirteen Things To Know About Louis Vuitton

1. A very high percentage of “Vuittons” in the world are fake.  Someone with a real LV can spot a fake - it's all about the "honey" colour of the leather and perfect "cut" of the patterns.

2.  Louis Vuitton craftsmen rarely cut thorough the "LV" logo on the monogram canvas.  Designs are created around this tradition.  Look close at the pictures, you'll see what I mean.  If you go to the Louis Vuitton web site, there are only a few bags where the "LV's" are cut to accommodate a more complicated design but it's very rare.  Two bags that break this rule are the Galliera PM and the Galliera GM.

3.  Louis Vuitton carefully centers the pattern to be symmetiecal, and cuts out the material to perfectly match and line up at seamlines.  You will never see a Louis Vuitton handbag where the pattern doesn't line up at the side seams.

4. Louis Vuitton celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2004.

5. Louis Vuitton opened his first store in 1854, he began making handbags after the 1892 world’s fair.

6. The world’s first flat top trunk was created by Louis Vuitton in 1858.

7. Each and every Louis Vuitton has a hidden tag stamped with a serial number, more specifically a date code that tells where and when the item was made.  Wallets will be stamped right on the item, tucked close to a seam, usually hard to find - you have to know what you're looking for but it's there.

8. Though it’s been around since 1930, the Speedy didn't gain a massive following until it was redesigned for Audrey Hepburn in the 60s. (see above)

9. Vuitton HQ is in Florence, Italy.

10. Louis Vuitton was born in Jura, France in 1821.

11. The “LV” monogram was originally meant to foil counterfeiting attempts. It didn't work.
12. When the Louis Vuitton Building opened on the Champs-Elysees it was the largest travel-goods store in the world.

13.  Louis Vuitton handbags are only sold in Louis Vuitton boutiques (some boutiques are in high end department stores) and on line at their official web site.  They don't go on sale or get discounted ever.  Never, ever, ever.  They are not sold wholesale to boutiques or sold on the street or at purse partys.

My Speedy 25 got damaged somehow (see the nick in the piping).  I took it to the Louis Vuitton Store in Vancouver to have it repaired and they replaced it on the spot explaining that the piping was not installed correctly.  As happy as I was that the problem was solved,  it was like giving up my best friend, I hated to see her go.  The leather on this one was just getting to that nice shade of honey.

My original speedy, with her little "nick".

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Easter Cupcakes

This is my dream costume the Cupcake Pin Up Girl. It wouldn't even have to be Halloween, it's just so so cute!  These days all I'm thinking about is cupcakes and Easter.  Yellow cupcakes with a nest and three little speckled eggs tucked inside to be precise. I came across some really cute ideas of cupcakes that I wanted to share, and keep a record of for future baking.  Future as in, the next couple of days.  Whatever I decide to do I'll post some pictures for you to see as soon as they're done.

These get me excited!

Adorable, just like outside the Mad Hatter's House at Disneyland.

Springtime!

So simple, but so pretty, and lots of icing.

I saved the best for last, the perfect Easter cupcake.
I decided this would b e the perfect time to show you my new cupcake fabic.

I have absolutely no idea what I'll do with it.

Mango Porcupine

You have to go a long way to find something that tastes better then a ripe mago.  I love them.  I've gotten some friends into them and I've promised to do a quick video on how to cut them into porcupines so that they're easy to eat as a snack.  I buy a big box of nine mangos from Costco and pull them out of the fridge one by one, or two by two if I have to share them, and let the ripen for the day on the window sill.  They will be slightly soft when they're ready to cut and eat.  When I was in Hawaii, they made Mango Bread, it's thier more tropical version of our Bananna Bread.  It was wonderful!  There is a very popular highly rated recipe for Mango Bread at All Recipes.  Give it a try, I know you'll love it!

So here's the "how-to" on cutting one just right.


My next video will be on how to sharpen knives.
Enjoy your tasty, healthy, low calorie Mangos.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Pumpkin Cheesecake


This recipe was given to me by a good friend as most recipes are.  It's a combination of my oldest son's two favourite things, cheesecake and pumpkin pie.  It's hard to imagine any dessert other than pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, but trust me on this - you will change your mind when you taste this.  My girlfriend was almost tempted to sit down and write this out on a cute recipe card like she has in the past, but then she got thinking and decided, no "we" (as in all the friends) have an old "clipped" original version just like this one.  It's part of the fun that we all have the same; an old newspaper clipping that has been blown up on a copier so we can see it, it's been faxed and scanned, emailed, facebooked and now blogged.  So here it is, your own beaten up copy.  You can make this one day ahead and you're guests will love it.

Pin up image by Gil Elvgren


Method:

1. For The Crust

24 graham crackers crushed (that's two cups of the crumbs)
1/2 cup sugar (try not to notice how much sugar is in this recipe)
1/2 cup melted butter

Combine the graham cracker crumbs with the sugar and melted butter.  Press into a 9 x 13 buttered pan.

2. For The Cheesecake Layer

8 ounces of cream cheese (that's one brick if you're Canadian)
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs beaten

Beat the cream cheese, sugar and beaten eggs together.  Pour over the crust and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

3.  For The Pumpkin Layer:

2 cups of canned pumpkin (I use Royal City brand, because that's what my Grandma used)
3 egg yolks (set aside the whites)
1/2 cup milk (this is no time to use low fat milk)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 envelope of unflavoured gelatin (dissolved in 1/4 c cold water)

In a saucepan cook the canned pumpkin for 10 minutes on medium heat.

While the pumpkin is cooking, in a mixing bowl, mix together the egg yolks, sugar, cinnamon, sugar, salt and gelatin/water mixture.  Add this to the pumpkin when cooked, and let the mixture cool until thick.  Put it in the fridge for an hour or so and give it a stir now and again.

One hour later...

3 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar

Beat the egg whites and sugar until stiff and fold into the pumpkin mixture.  Pour over the cream cheese and place in the fridge.  You can cover it up, you're done until the day you serve it.

When you serve it you'll notice the recipe suggests to use a spoonful of cool whip to top the dessert.  No, no, noooo ... see next step.

4.  The Whip Cream Layer

2 cups of whipping cream
1/4 cup icing sugar

Whip the cream until frothy and add the icing sugar slowly a tablespoon at a time.  Whip until it holds peaks and taste it as you go.  If you want more icing sugar, feel free.  The whipping cream should be nice and sweet. 

Spread this over top of the pumpkin layer and cover with saran wrap over until your ready to cut it up and serve it.  Because this is in a pan, I would suggest you cut it up in the kitchen, and then serve it to the guests already on dessert plates.

Thank you "Tune" for the amazing recipe.
I've been asked for the recipe three times already, that's how you know it's a "keeper".

Spencer was just proof reading the blog and said, "Oh I wish we still had some of that!"

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mom's (Magic) Pancakes

I love pancakes.  I especially loved when my Mom would make breakfast for dinner when I was little.  I think it was America's Test Kitchen that reviewed pancake mixes and found that Bisquick of all things was chosen as the best pancake mix.  The best recipe I've ever used is the one from a booklet from my Mom called Basic (Magic) Pancakes.  I'm not sure why I have this book, if she gave it to me or if it's supposed to be returned but I love this recipe and can't imagine giving this little booklet away.  The lady that wrote it was a food writer for The Vancouver Sun, her name was Edith Adams and she made a collection of these booklets from all the recipes that were featured in the newspaper.

So first things first, here's the recipe

Method:

In a larger bowl sift together the dry ingredients:

1 3/4 cups of sifted All Purpose Flour
1 Tbsp. of Baking Powder
2 Tbsp. Sugar
1/2 Tsp. Salt

In a smaller bowl mix together the wet ingredients:

2 well beaten Eggs
1 1/2 cups of Milk
1/4 cup of melted Butter

Gradually stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.  Even though the recipe says, "beat until smooth" I don't because I saw a pancake cook off and they said to never do that, a few lumps are ok.


So preheat your pan on medium heat.  This pan I'm using is only used for Pancakes and is well seasoned (20 years), except for the one time someone fried onions in it and didn't know it was only for pancakes.  Anyways, I lightly grease  the bottom of the pan with Grape-seed oil, each time a new batch goes in.  Using the 1/4 cup measuring cup, pour out four pancakes.

Optional:  You can of course add fresh or frozen "blues", that's what we call Blueberries.  Delicious!


Cook until bubbles appear on the top of the pancake, flip and cook on the other side.  You should serve them right away but if you want to keep them warm in the oven put them on the rack, not a plate.  Pop them onto a plate at the last minute when your ready to serve them.


At our house the last bit of batter is always turned into a Mickey Mouse Pancake.


Another variation we like is how they spruce them up in Hawaii at our favourite little breakfast place, the Kihei Cafe in Maui.  You  dust icing sugar over the top of your pile, add some banana slices, and some macadamia nuts (chopped).  Pour on the pancake syrup and that's what you call Banana Nut Pancakes.