bananas

Jonathan’s birthday is tomorrow.  He will be 39.  It’s crazy to think I met him when he was 29.  Time has gone by so fast.  I would say the two most memorable birthdays I’ve spent with Jonathan would be his 30th, and his 35th.  His 30th I got to know his good friends who have now become some of my favorite people.  His 35th I threw him a surprise party that was, if I must say an amazing party!!!!

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This year we spent a weekday at Disney.  It was so great because the parks were not crowded at all.  No long waits for rides.  A breezy 75 degree day.  And a toddler who took an afternoon nap in the stroller so mom and dad could have some time together and sip a cocktail or two while doing so.

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This past weekend we spent the day at the zoo, and later with some of our favorite people Steve and Emily, and their awesome kids Lucy and Leo.  Burgers at Oinkster, a crazy peanut butter banana cream pie that I will talk about in a sec.  And some more fun back here at the house so the kids could watch a movie and we could hang and have some wine and listen to good music.

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The thing with making something sweet for Jonathan is he almost always loves it.  Especially is it has his favorites: peanut butter, banana and chocolate.  I made him this amazing cake a few years back, and was tempted to make it again.  But I knew I could make something that would live up to that cake, and I believe I have.  This pie is ridiculously good.  The first layer is a dark chocolate cookie crust, next a layer of peanut butter, then a layer of bananas, followed by a vanilla custard, topped with a whipped cream that was soaking in peanut butter cereal.  I have to give credit to Jonathan, it was his idea to soak the cream with the cereal.  Ummmmm yeah can you say crazy!!!!  I know it sounds crazy sweet it’s actually not.  It was the perfect combination, and the crust without a doubt I will be making again for other pies.  Have fun and enjoy this one!!!!!

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Whipped Topping ingredients:

1 pint heavy whipping cream

2 cups peanut butter cereal

2 Tablespoons powdered sugar

Directions:

This one you will want to do first because you want the cereal to soak in the cream for about 4 hours.  Once you’ve completed the pie.  The last step is to whip your cream.  Strain the cereal, and add the powdered sugar.  Whip to your liking, and top on pie!!

 

Custard ingredients:

3 cups whole milk

4 egg yolks

2/3 cup sugar

5 Tablespoons cornstarch

1 vanilla bean, or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

Add milk and cornstarch to a sauce pan.  Cook over medium heat.  Next whip your yolks and sugar in a bowl and put to the side.  Once the milk has started to step, add a little bit to the egg mixture mixing the whole time.  You are tempering the eggs so they don’t curdle.  Once its mixed in then add the rest of the milk to the egg mixture.  Continuing to mix.  Pour all back into sauce pan and cook on low heat until bubbles start to form in the middle.  Take off heat and add to bowl.  Top with plastic wrap and place in the frig to cool down.

 

Crust ingredients:

2 cups any kind of dark chocolate cookie crushed til its fine

1/3 cup melted unsalted butter

1 cup smooth peanut butter ( I used a natural organic peas nut butter that wasn’t loaded with sugar)

4 ripe bananas

Directions:

Using a food processor, pulse cookies until they are fine.  Pour two cups into a bowl, then add melted butter.  Pat down in pie dish.  Place in freezer for 30 minutes.  Bake for 20 minutes on 350 after its been chilled in the freezer.  Once it’s done baking, put aside and let it cool.  Once your pie is chilled spread your peanut butter.  Next slice bananas and place on top of peanut butter.  Top with pudding and chill in frig.

 

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The holidays……do you feel like all you do is eat, drink, and act like a sloth? Yeah me too!!!  But what would the holidays be without letting go and indulging for a few days, or in our case a few weeks.  We had a blast with family and friends.  I had my first night away from Oliver, in Atlantic City with my two best friends…..no photos from that night ;).  Christmas shopping with my mom and brother, and delicious afternoon margaritas.  Telford Time.  Homemade eggnog.  Please Touch Museum.  Meeting our new nephew (and cousin) Ian.  Oliver was very interested in Ian, especially laying on top of him, kissing him, and trying to poke his eyes out.  Ian is the most mellow baby Ive ever been around.  So chill, almost makes me want to have another…..hahahaha!!!!  It was nice to be around a new baby, new baby smell, and just a cuddly, smiling 14lb baby.  So much more to tell you about, but I’m going to let the video I post below kinda tell you the story.

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I do want to tell you about some of the goodies I’ve made over the last few weeks here in LA for our Christmas party, for a gathering at my parents with friends and family, and New Years Eve.  Thanks to my parents for having an open door policy and always allowing us to have friends over without question.  Even when we were younger, our house was kinda the gathering house, and still is.  I’m 40, but it doesn’t matter.

A salmon salad, savory tarts, and sugar cookies.

The salmon salad is easy breezy.  We served at our New Years Eve get together.  A mixed green salad with herbs added, mint and dill.  Thinly sliced fennel, topped with poached salmon.  Served with a grain honey mustard dressing.  Poaching salmon is easy.  Add 1-2 carrots, 1 celery stalk, juniper berries about 5, whole pepper corns about 5, one whole lemon squeezed with rind, 1 cup of white wine, and water til large sauce pan is half way full.  Bring to a boil for about 20-30 minutes.  Salt and pepper salmon.  Add to simmering water and cook to your liking.  I like mine a little rare in the middle.  For the dressing,  1/3 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon grain mustard, 1 tablespoon honey, salt and pepper.  Shake.  Serve.  Eat.  Enjoy!!!

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A savory tart can be as easy as you want it to be.  If I have left over pie crust I will use it, but most of the time I just use puff pastry.  It”s easy.  Thaw your dough, coat with egg wash, and add whatever you like. Bake for 20 minutes on 375.  I made one with roma tomatoes, rosemary, and goat cheese, salt and pepper.  The other one I was caramelized onions, mushrooms, Gruyere cheese, thyme salt and pepper.  For this one I caramelized the onions and mushrooms together before adding to pastry.  I made this at our Christmas party here in LA, and our New Years get together.

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For the sugar cookies I wanted to make cut out cookies so Audrey and Oliver could have fun decorating.  They had a such a good time, especially Audrey.  After doing a few they were done.  So later the next day I decorated the left over cookies that were yet to be decorated.

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Sugar cookie ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup  granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Directions:

Mix butter until smooth.  Next add sugar, then an egg, then the extracts.  Then add your dry ingredients.  Once dough is together, wrap it in plastic wrap and let it set in frig for an hour, or three days.   Once your dough is ready and chilled, preheat oven to 350, and line cookie sheets with parchment.  One thing i did do was once they were rolled and cut out I placed them on the cookie sheet and put them in the frig for about 10 minutes.  Bake for 8-11 minutes.  It depends on how you like your cookies soft or crispy.  I personally like mine crispy.

Once they’ve cooled you can icing them with nay kind of icing you like.  I used a royal icing.  Which is 3 eggs whites with a teaspoon of vanilla whipped until frothy.  Then adding one cup at a time of powdered sugar.  All together you should add about 4 1/2 cups.  Your icing once it is done should shiny, and glistened.  Eat…enjoy…repeat!!!!

 

 

 

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I invited our friends Dino and Kevin over to help us hang lights on the house and trim the tree.  It was more me lighting a fire under Jonathan’s butt, to step away from work and enjoy some evening fun, food and friends.  Anyone who knows Jonathan, he can not say no to a good time.   So I promised I would cook up something good while they hung the lights outside.  Well it only took all of about 10 minutes to hang the lights, because lucky for us Kevin is tall.  But I also bought classic colored big bulb lights and they have a little snap that will attach to your gutter, so a lot easier then we had expected.   But nor was I slaving away,  because the jams, and soup I’m about to talk about are very very easy!!!

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I wanted to make something cozy to eat before we trimmed the tree.  I knew I wanted to make grilled cheese and tomato soup.  But I wanted to add something more then just good cheese (I used a nice sharp aged cheddar) and bread (sourdough) to the grilled cheese.   So I decided to add jams to the sandwiches.  While we were in Houston having dinner with friends a few months ago, we shared an app of deviled eggs topped with bacon jam.  Ummmmmm we were all in heaven.  This was just about the best BAE I’ve ever had!!! Pure genius!!  So it thought this would be a good thing to add to a grilled cheese, and yup it was pretty delicious.  Another jam I made was tomato.  I’ve always been a fan of adding sliced tomatoes to a grilled cheese. And yes this jam was just as good , as the bacon jam for the grilled cheese.  A little something for your veg friends and not veg friends.  And I promise you these are not hard to make at all.

 

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So yummy grilled cheese and tomato soup in our bellys.  And some bourbon egg nog after to trim the tree.  We were a happy bunch, and so was Oliver.  He loved decorating the tree so much.  He thought it was so cool.   Every morning now he gets up and plays with the tree rearranging the decorations while I make him breakfast, it’s all too sweet!!!  Special thanks to Dino and Kevin for coming over and helping, and Kevin for taking awesome pics of Oliver!!!!

 

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Ingredients for soup:

2  28 ounce cans of plum tomatoes

1 large onion

2 cloves garlic

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

a few dashes of crushed red pepper

1 large container chicken broth, or veggie

chopped basil, or chive

small container creme fresh

 

directions:

Start heating a large soup pan on your burner.  Chop onion.  Add olive oil to coat bottom of pan.  Heat for a twenty seconds to so, add onions.  Smash garlic cloves, add once the onions are becoming translucent.  Add seasonings, salt and pepper to taste, red pepper flakes and sugar.  While that’s still cooking, smash plum tomatoes with your hands in a large bowl.  Once they’re smashed slowly add them to the onions.  Let this cook for another 5-10 minutes.  Add broth.  Put a lid on soup and cook for about 45 minutes on low.  Once the soup is done.  Let it cool down for a bit.  Start padding soup into a blender.  Only add a little at a time.  And make sure once you blend it, you place a towel over the blender.  This part is very very important because trust me it will explode and your kitchen will be covered!!!!!! So you may be doing about 6-8 batches of blending.  Once it’s all blended place back is large sauce pan, and season to taste, if you need more.  Serve with chopped basil, and of chives, with a dollop of creme fresh.

 

Bacon jam ingredients:

1 package good bacon

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/8 cup maple syrup

1 large onion

1/2 teaspoon Cheyenne pepper

salt and pepper to taste

 

directions:

Heat Dutch oven, or cast iron skillet.  Chop bacon and cook.  Let bacon cool on a paper towel.  Leave about 2 tablespoons bacon fat on the bottom.  You can save the rest if you like for whatever.  Cook chopped onions until translucent.  Add all the rest of the ingredients.  Cook down for about about 10 minutes on low to medium heat.  Take off heat and add bacon.  Place in a jar.  Just that simple!!!!

 

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Tomato jam ingredients:

1 container cherry tomatoes

1/2 onion

red pepper flakes to liking

1/4 cup brown sugar

salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Heat a medium sauce pan.  Coat with olive oil.  Add sliced tomatoes and onions, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Cook for about 20 minutes.  Add brown sugar and cook for about 10 more minutes on low.  Let it cool for a few.  Then pulse in your cuisinart to your liking.

 

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I’ve been trying to post this for the last week.  But Thanksgiving happened, traveling, and spending time with family, so needless to say this takes a back seat.  We are in here  in Albuquerque New Mexico with Jonathan’s family.  Everyone should visit here at least once in their lives.  It’s so beautiful and breathtaking.  The mountains, the sunsets, and architecture.  I’ll talk more about our visit in another post, because we have been cooking and baking up a storm here!!!

But let me talk about this pie.  A butterscotch banana cream pie.  I ask you what could be better?  Ummm pretty much nothing.  This is the second time I’ve made this pie.  The first time I made it the custard part came out a little soupy,  I’m being kind to myself here, it was soup.  But did it taste good?  Yes.  The stubborn part of me, didn’t want to follow the recipe properly which calls for corn flour, to thicken the custard.  I used corn starch instead, well I got soup.  So this time I followed the recipe correct, the custard part. And it came out great.  But I found the custard to be to starchy.  So after much research I have figured out the proper measurements to use corn starch, which I think works better, and makes for a silkier custard.  The recipe calls for chocolate snaps, but used the left over ginger snaps I had from the cookies I made in the last post.

The pie was a celebration.  It was our friend Kyra’s birthday.   I had a feeling it would go over well with the crowd that gathered for her day.  Kyra is one of those friends that I can say is very true to herself, and those around her.  I know only a few like that. And she is one of them.  I’m so glad she in our lives.  We’re lucky to have such a wonderful friend!!

 

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Ingredients:

crust:

15 ginger snaps

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

2 Tablespoons sugar

 

custard:

1 cup brown sugar

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

3 Tablespoons corn starch

1 1/2 cups whole milk

3/4 teaspoons salt

3 large yolks

2 teaspoons dark rum

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 ripe bananas

 

topping:

1 pint heavy cream

1 Tablespoon powdered sugar

2 teaspoons dark rum

1/2  teaspoon vanilla

 

directions for crust:

Melt butter.  Let cool.  In a food processor pulse cookies and sugar.  Add melted butter.  Mix.  Pour into 10″ pie pan.  Pat down.  Cool in a freezer or frig for 30 minutes.  After done cooling bake for 15 minutes on 350.  Crust must be completely cool before adding bananas and custard.

 

directions for custard:

Pour brown sugar into sauce pan along with butter.  Melt and mix and put aside.  Next take about a 1/3 cup of your milk and add the cornstarch to that.  You will make a slurry.  Next add the rest of the milk  over medium heat.  Once the milk is hot but not boiling add to the milk and cornstarch mixture.  Then add all of it back to the pot over medium heat.  Stirring constantly, once it starts to boil and thicken our a small amount over your egg yolks that are already beaten.  You are tempering your eggs do you don’t end up with scrambled egg custard.  Next you will add the egg and milk mixture to the rest of the hot milk mixture.  Cook on medium heat constantly stirring.  Once it looks like the consistency of mayonnaise .  Take off heat.  Next you will use a sieve.  Place this over your melted brown sugar and butter.  Pour over brown sugar and butter.  Once it’s allI  added mix well.  And add rum and vanilla.  Place aside while you slice up you bananas.  Put banana slice onto crust.  Pour custard over.  Let cool in the frig for about 3-4 hours, or until set.

directions for topping:

You a can do this by hand, or with an electric whisk.  Whip cream with sugar.  Once it starts to thicken add vanilla and rum.  Eat, enjoy, and put on some sweat pants because I promise you, you will want seconds!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One thing I love is a good ginger snap.  The spicier the better.  The great thing about the ginger snap is you can make them to your liking.  You can make them soft and chewy or crispy.  Even if they go a little stale you can still enjoy them with a glass of milk.  I used to dip them in milk when I was younger, but my now my 40 year old self is no longer dairy friendly… Damn you 40!! But in all honesty if they go stale after a few days, use them to make a crust for a pie.  You can freeze them for a few months.

I’m looking forward to the holidays.  I’m hoping to post a ton more with sweets and even some savory for your holiday parties or just for your family or yourself.  I’m also hoping to tackle a few things here myself before the end of the year, making a new stocking for Oliver, lights on the house, decorating the house and tree, and hosting a big holiday party.  We got this I keep telling myself, and I think we we do!!  I love the holidays so much,  and I’m so excited to see  if Oliver gets it a little more this year.

 

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If you can use organic products great, if not don’t sweat it.

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butter 

1 cup dark brown sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon clove

1 Tablespoon ground ginger and 1 teaspoon

1/2 cup crystallized ginger (optional)

1/3 cup sugar for dusting

 

directions:

Mix butter until smooth.  And sugar, molasses, then egg, and vanilla. Next add dry ingredients.  If you are adding crystallized ginger chopped it up and toss it in sugar, and fold into the dough.  Once everything is incorporated leave it in the bowl and place in the frig for an hour.  You can also roll it into a log in parchment paper, and leave in the frig for an hour as well.  Once it’s chilled pre-heat oven to 350.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Take dough out of frig.  Roll about one inch cookies with your hands, and then roll into sugar, and place on sheet.  Place each cookie about two inches apart.  Push down with palm, or a glass.  If you are doing a log, cut about 1/4 slices, and sprinkle sugar on top.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Bake longer if you like them crispy.  I baked mine for 14 minutes because I like mine crispy.  Enjoy!!

 

 

Lemon Pie Movie from Bethany on Vimeo.

My little buddy Lucy has been asking me for some time to make a lemon meringue pie with her.  So I thought it would be a perfect way to introduce a webisode.  We did it on Saturday so we could BBQ, and relax while the pie cooled.  It was so much fun to cook and bake with them in the kitchen.  I can’t wait til Oliver is a little older and can do the same.  I highly recommend cooking or baking with kids , it’s so much fun!!!!

Ingredients for pie crust :
1 1/8 cup flour
1 stick unsalted butter, or 1/2 cup
1T sugar
1/4 cup ice cold water
In a cuisinart , or this can also be done by hand.  Add flour, butter in cubes, sugar and a pinch of salt.  Blend, until butter looks the size of peas.  Next slowly add in your water.  You may need less or more, that’s why it’s important to add a little at a time.  You want your dough to seem more dry, you don’t want it sticky or wet.  Wrap in cellophane and put in frig for an hour.
Preheat oven to 350.  Take out crust, and roll out on clean surface that has been floured.  Crimp your edges, add parchment paper to to pie, and then pie weights.  Bake for 25 minutes, take pie out and remove weights and parchment paper.  Place pie back in the oven and bake for another 25 minutes or so.  Let crust cool.
Ingredients for lemon filling:
1 cup suagr
1 1/2 cup water
2 T flour
3 T cornstartch
2 lemons
2 T unsalted butter
4 egg yolks beaten 
Add your water, flour, sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, and juice of two lemons to a sauce pan.  Cook til it almost boils.  Take off the heat and add your butter.  Put back on stove and bring to boil.  Next you want to add a little of the hot mixture to your egg mixture.  This is called tempering the eggs.  Once it looks like it’s incorporate then add the rest to the egg mixture.  Place it back on the stove and wait for it to come to a boil. Once it starts bubbling, pour it into the pie crust.  Let it cool it the frig for 2 hours.
Ingredients for meringue:
4 egg whites
6 T sugar
 Pre heat oven to 350 . To get the perfect egg whites whipped it’s best to use a whisk attach then to your mixer.  Add whites, and then slowly add in the sugar.  Once the sugar is incorporated, mix on high speed.  Once it looks soft a fluffy stop. To add meringue to pie you can pipe it or can smooth it on a make peaks.  Once you’ve put the meringue on the pie, bake for 10 minutes. Serve after it’s cooled. Enjoy!!