Blood Orange Vanilla Pie

This was hands down, THE MOST DELICIOUS THING I HAVE EVER MADE!

Did you hear me?

Did I just say that?

Truly, the MOST delicious thing that I have ever made.

Delicious as in, plates were being scraped as each person finished off their own slice, and…..who knew? I was shocked!

So here’s how it all started….

We had a bag of oranges that I just knew that I had to put to use before they went bad.

It’s a crazy thing how this quarantined time makes you more mindful of how much we actually eat & how much we waste.

We’ve been especially mindful to make the most of everything that we eat, drink and consume & to put it all to use.

So, back to these oranges…

I did not want to see them go to waste, so I originally started looking for a recipe, either sweet or savory, that I could put this good oranges to use.

So, I came across this interesting pie recipe, that incorporated both oranges and maybe even a custard. I knew that I could bust out a pie, like that! And some of my pie recipes are baked and others that I keep on stand-by do not have to be baked at all.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “So what are those pie recipes that do not have to be baked at all, that you keep on stand-by?” I feel you, and I am going to share them, or that one base of a pie with you. I got you!

I have a basis of a no-bake pie that is good with anything, and I was testing my luck as to whether or not it could work with an orange topping.

“Orange pie?”

I have actually never made one before, but this will be one, that I will make again & again, and again.

The basis of that no-bake pie is quite simple. It’s:

1 8 ounce package of cream cheese

1 14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk

And in this case, 1/2 cup of fresh squeezed blood orange juice.

Okay, so wait a minute. Did I tell you that these were blood oranges?! Umm….yes! I didn’t even know it, until I sliced them.

WAS I PAYING ATTENTION WHEN I BOUGHT SAID ORANGES?

No.

DID I NOTICE THE BIG BLOOD ORANGES SYMBOL ON THE OUTSIDE OF THE PACKAGE?

Again, another resounding, “No!” But I was pleasantly surprised to see their dark color as I cut a couple of the oranges opened to get them prepared for drying.

Yes, I was going to need several slices of already dried orange slices in order to make this pie.

This pie was going to be need to be made in steps, so I got to it!

First off, the crust.

We needed one box of vanilla wafers crushed, with one stick of melted butter, combined and pressed down into a crust, set to chill over night.

So I prepped my oranges for drying. (*Note: I used the oven dry method, which is oranges sliced placed on a baking cooling rack, which is then placed on cookie sheet and into the oven on low 200 degrees, for a total of three hours. If I ever make this again, I am going to go straight for making these slices in my dehydrator. Why, because you can essentially set it & forget it. Rather than having to come back and keep checking your oven timer/or worry that you forgot to turn your oven off…. I can’t be bothered! For future reference, I am slapping these babies in my dehydrating rack, place them where they need to, one & done and not looking back. End of story. But that’s just the orange slices part…..)

After my slices were arranged and under way to dry, I went ahead and started working on my crust.

Okay, vanilla wafers crushed up as my crust instead of graham crackers? Count me in!

I am here for it, honey!

I didn’t know how much of a difference that simple switch up would make but I was willing to try. What I was most intrigued by was the thought of what the crushed vanilla wafers with melted butter would taste like vs. what crushed graham cracker cookies with melted butter would taste like.

IT SEEMS LIKE AN EXECUTIVE DECISION WAS MADE ON SOME LEVEL…

Once again, I’m here for it.

I made up the crust & pressed it into my large tart pan, which was also different. I don’t think that I will use a tart or pie pan that is larger than 9-inches in diameter, because the depth (or lack there of) of the pie crust wasn’t right to me, but okay, the flavor was there, so I have to count my losses and I have to count my wins. Flavor-2, Depth-1. Flavor wins but I like to be shooting on all cylinders and my pie depth got a minus one. (lol!)

Making up the pie filling itself (you’ll have a printable recipe card from this, don’t worry. I just have to get through my ramblings on what made this a win and critiques, so that you can get the benefit. I want you winning. I always want you winning, mama!)

The filling was easy: with a hand mixer combine and blend until smooth one full 8 ounce stick of cream cheese with one full can (14 oz) of sweetened condensed milk, completely blend these first before adding any other juices etc.

So here’s where I went wrong.

I was rushing & I wasn’t paying attention and I neglected to follow my own rule.

Two baking rules: #1- Always, always, always, combine your dry ingredients first before ever adding any wet or else you’ll have clumps

and

#2- Always, always, always combine your smooth ingredients first, to make sure that they’re smooth before adding any other liquids or you’ll have clumps.

I had clumps.

I wasn’t paying attention.

I threw the whole cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk and the blood orange juice all in the same bowl and started blended.

As I began to mix it, I saw the clumps from the cream cheese form and my heart sank.

Now, could I just make an absolutely perfect one and post that for you?

Sure.

Are you going to learn anything from my mistakes by it, though?

No, absolutely not.

So……

Always,

always,

always fully combine your creamed items together before adding any liquid to it.

Okay?

Okay.

There, I feel better now. (Danger adverted).

Nevertheless,

The flavor was still there.

So let’s recap:

*We made our crust- one box of vanilla wafers crushed, mixed with one stick of melted butter, pressed down into the bottom and the sides of a pie or tart pan. Set in the fridge overnight. -Done.

*We made our filling- one 8 oz. stick of cream cheese, combined with one 14 oz. of sweetened condensed milk, and then 1/2 of blood orange juice combined and poured into the crust for another 6 hours. -Done

*We made up our dried orange slices, either in our dehydrating machine or in our oven on low (200 degrees) for 3 hours & set those aside. Ready to go to make our topping. -Also done.

Keep in mind that this pie is going to take you a minute.

Like, don’t promise that morning, that you’re planning to bring this pie anywhere that night because…..

IT’S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.

Good things take time.

This pie is going to take time.

But when you get to that end result honey……child, listen!

Trust me.

Okay?!

Okay.

The topping is also quite delectable but it too, takes time.

You’ll need to bring 1 1/2 cups of orange juice (not blood orange juice for this recipe), 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and all of your orange slices to a boil.

Another take away note: Set aside 25-30 mins to bring this to a good thick boil and a good thick syrup of the orange juice and sugar.

Before I served it, I let it cook a rough 10 minutes and that wasn’t long enough, at all.

Allow yourself at least 30 minute to perfect it. Twenty to twenty-five minutes to boil your simple syrup (that is what your orange juice and granulated sugar is going to create -even without the orange slices) and then another 5-10minutes to let it cool). If I had my way, it would even be 45 minutes in total just for the sauce. Why? Because cool sauce, cool pie and cool orange slices, seemed to go better than hot sauce, hot orange slices and cool pie that’s coming out of the fridge. This is a no-bake pie, so you’re using that setting time in the fridge, whether it’s overnight or 4-6 hours in the fridge as your “baking” time or “setting” time.

Lastly,

get those beautiful oranges, on that pie.

Another great reason why you’d want your mixture of orange juice with sugar and orange slices to completely cool down, is so that you’ll be able to then turn it over and cover your pie with it.

It didn’t want to do that.

My simple syrup was hot and my pie was cold and I was afraid that my hot orange slices were going to melt the whole thing. Boo-who!

So, the next time that I make this thing and hopefully the very first time that YOU make this thing, you’ll do it the right way, with all of my take away notes added in!

************

Did you make this pie?

Did you love this recipe?

Did your family love this recipe?

Then I want to hear from you!

Drop me a line in the comments below or email me at thingsshemakes@gmail.com & give me a shout.

I want to know that you loved this pie just as much as I did.

Talk soon,

Chemeeka

Homemade Bread Recipe

* This is an old recipe. I originally made this bread almost 9 years ago. I hope that you enjoy.*

So, I decided to try my hand at a little homemade bread. We like to make lots of things from scratch and I thought this would be great to add to our list.  The recipe was rather simple.  Once we mixed all of the ingredients, I punched the dough down (literally) and made three loaves out of, each into greased pans, and sprinkled a little a few whole oats for that extra little touch.

  I set these again to proof.

 And they just about doubled in size.

 Since I only had two loaf pans, I put the third loaf, into a greased shallow casserole dish.

 And then they were ready for the oven.

 After about 25-30 minutes in the oven they were all done.

 I brushed mine with just a little bit of browned butter.  *Now here’s a tip: Do not use your standard fiber kitchen basting brushes to do this, because for some reason, the little fibers from the brush come out onto your bread and get stuck, especially if you’ve got the oats on top like I do.  Use one of the silicone basting brushes.  We know for next time ūüėČ

The instructions said to let the bread cool completely but….

 Eh…we couldn’t wait!  I tore right into one of those loaves and drizzled on a little honey.  Before I even had the first bite down I was hearing, “Oh, Mama…what is that?”

This bread was super easy to make!  And can I tell you: (1) I did not use my stand mixer and  (2) you can substitute out some of the ingredients listed for organic ingredients. 

That’s what I did with the wheat.¬† I wanted to see how I could alter this & still make it taste delicious!¬†¬†


Here’s my recipe:
Ingredients

  • 3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 1/2 cups organic whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Add 5 cups white bread flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly. 
  2. Mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky – just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch. This may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled. 
  3. Punch down, and divide into 3 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch. 
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes; do not overbake. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard. Cool completely.

DIY {Chocolate Chip} Little Bites Recipe

I love making things homemade for my family.

Baking & cooking are two things that I absolutely enjoy. And when I find a recipe on how I can make something on my own; something that I know that they’ll love, I jump right on it!

The other day, it occurred to me, that we go through a good deal of Little Bites at times. I mean, when they’re on sale, we’re like, “Stock up!” So I thought to myself, “Why not make my own recipe, my own batch & we can have different flavors, whenever they want, they’ll be here”. So with that, I took another recipe that I have & merged it with this one to create:

DIY {Chocolate Chip} Little Bites

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 large eggs

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup canola oil

1/2 buttermilk (or for a substitution use 1/3 cup whole milk and 2 tablespoon of lemon juice to make your own buttermilk for this recipe).

1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt, and stir until completely blended. Next add in the eggs, vanilla extract, canola oil and buttermilk and then combine until blended. With a spatula or a large wooden spoon add in the mini chocolate chips, until blended.

Generously spray your miniature muffin tins with pan spray. Using a measuring spoon, scoop levels of one tablespoon of your muffin mix into each cavity of your baking pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.

Allow to cool completely before serving.

For freezing, divide muffins by 4’s into sandwich size Ziploc bags and then store all of the bags (about 6) into one large gallon size Ziploc bag.

When I first made these, I made up a batch of 24 bites and then stored them in the freezer only taking out a bag or two at a time, or as needed. If you think that your family is going to go through them more quickly, then six little bags in a week, then you can also keep this in the refrigerator until you are done with them.

I hope that your family enjoys these DIY Little Bites as much as mine did!

Homemade Knock-Off Coconut Ice Cream

This homemade knock-off ice cream recipe is a delicious & affordable treat that you can make at home, to enjoy this summer.

One of my very favorite things to make during the summer is delicious homemade ice cream.¬† My kids love when I take them out for a nice cold treat when it’s hot out, but I thought, how much better to get them involved in the process in making their own delicious treat?

The steps to making this particular recipe is simple and starts with one of my favorite appliances, my Cuisinart ICE-20 Automatic 1-1/2-Quart Ice Cream Maker, White

Which clearly, needs the outer cover to be replace, because I’ve used this thing quite a bit (since 2002).¬† So, it’s seen a few days of homemade ice cream recipes & then some.

I found this particular brand of ice cream at the local Publix supermarket & loved it!  It had a subtle coconut flavor and itty-bits of fresh coconut texture.

Since I had most of the ingredients on hand.  I decided to go for it.  The only thing that I needed to make this recipe happen was heavy whipping cream.

So with that here we go.

Homemade Knock-Off Coconut Ice Cream Recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup of heavy whipping cream

3/4 cup of plain yogurt

1/4 cup of whole milk

3/4 cup of granulated sugar

1 cup of Trader Joes Organic Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

A churn style ice-cream maker (with an ice cold freezer basket)

In a large mixing bowl, combine, heavy cream, coconut flakes and sugar until fully blended.

In a separate bowl blend plain yogurt and milk until smooth.

Combine milk & yogurt mixture to coconut and cream mixture and fully blend.

Once, you’ve got that done, begin setting up your ice cream maker.

*Note: After each time we use our ice cream maker, I wash out the inner basket, dry it completely and place in a plastic bag, back in the freezer.  

The purpose of placing in the plastic bag is so that nothing gets inside of it.¬† And the purpose of keeping it in the freezer even when you have no upcoming plans of using it, is so that when you are ready to whip up a batch of ice cream, you’re good to go, without waiting a day or two for the basket to freeze.

After your ice cream machine is all set up, another little trick that I’ve learned is to pour the cream mixture in without the final lid being on.¬† So, pour the mixture in¬†before¬†you place the lid on it.¬† I have always put the final lid on like a cap and then have had to come back to clean mix off of the edges and sides of it.¬† Now, I realize that I could have skipped that clean up step all-together.

Since your basket is already frozen, this should take no more than 20-30 minutes.  If your basket is not frozen solid and just cold, your ice cream may never fully form.  Even putting that liquid into the freezer as is, will not turn it into full-on, ice cream.

Because we added plain yogurt to this, the texture is extra creamy and the little bits of the Trader Joe’s coconut flakes makes the texture of this, just that much more awesome!

I may or may not have been taking little samples from this batch before my ice cream was even done.

The bonus for me was that I kept the container from the previous “store” batch for this, and reused it once my ice cream was through.

This was simply delicious.

Will you try this?  I hope that you try this.

Homemade Knock-Off Coconut Ice Cream Recipe

Ingredients:

1 cup of heavy whipping cream

3/4 cup of plain yogurt

1/4 cup of whole milk

3/4 cup of granulated sugar

1 cup of Trader Joes Organic Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

A churn style ice-cream maker (with an ice cold freezer basket)

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, combine heavy whipping cream, granulated sugar, and coconut flakes until completely blended.

In a separate and smaller bowl, combine plain yogurt and milk until smooth.

Add yogurt mixture to coconut cream mixture and completely combine.

Set up ice cream machine, complete with completely frozen freezer basket.

Before attaching the cover/lid, pour cream mixture into the basket, and then set cover/lid in place on top.

Hit the “on” button to churn mixture for 20-30 minutes or until completely thick and creamy.¬† After 30 minutes, ice cream should be set.¬† Use a large metal spoon or wooden spatula to serve ice cream immediately or store in an airtight container in your freezer until you’re ready to eat.

Enjoy!

 

Sweet Cream Cookies

I love making homemade cookies.¬† Each year, usually around Christmas, Thanksgiving or holidays (or anytime), I break out a batch of cookies & every now and again, I hit on a favorite.¬† THIS particular cookie has been a real favorite of the ones that I’ve made for my own family & relatives alike.

I call it my Sweet Cream Cookie because although the originally recipe says that it’s “Stawberries & Cream”, I have used so many different varieties of fruit fillings to fill the center with.

 

I’ve done these cookies with guava, blackberry, strawberry, apricot, blueberry, and lime.¬† They’re absolutely delicious with whatever fruit flavored filling, you fill them with.

Where did I get the original recipe?  From this Cookie Magazine here:

It was one of those $9.99 magazines that you see at the checkout counter that actually looks different from the rest, and I don’t mean in just the content.

It’s the quality of the cover & the quality of the image of the recipe.¬† And if you’re used to cooking & baking, then you can sometimes just look at the cover image that’s on the magazine &¬†know¬†that the recipes that are inside are going to be GREAT.¬† Then, you’ll usually look down to check the price of said cover and it’s, oh, $9.99 or $10.99….and in this case,¬†totally worth it!¬†

 

I have been making cookie recipes out of this magazine for almost ten years (since 2009)!  And, I love them every time.  There are old favorites that are tried and true to my repertoire and this is one of them.

You start this cookie, just like you would any rich & buttery cookie, with butter and cream cheese.  And then it all goes uphill from there!

 

My dad asked me to make this cookie the other day, so I wanted to start out with a new variety of flavors. First I went with the recipe original,

which is strawberry, and then I added the apricot jelly to it, and last but not least, I got lucky at the new LIDL’s by us and found this nice blueberry jelly.

You don’t often see blueberry jellies or jams sold in stores.¬† I don’t ever have a problem finding strawberry, blackberry, grape or apricot, but when I can find something like peach or blueberry, I grab it!

I made a single batch of this recipe (which yields about 5 dozen cookies–that’s¬†if¬†you don’t eat the batter along the way, lol!)

I grabbed my cookie containers for $1/each from the Dollar Tree (and that includes the top and the bottom of the container), and I made one to send to a friend & one to my dad.

They were absolutely delicious!

 

~Chemeeka 

Christmas Toffee Crackers

I have seen this cookie recipe so many times.¬† Moreover, I had¬†tried this cookie so many times and LOVED IT!¬† The first time that I had it was at a Christmas Cookie Swap with a mom’s group years ago.

I knew then how easy it was, but had just never tried it for myself until this past Christmas.¬† Big Mistake!¬† My intentions were to make these & give them out to the neighbors, but what actually happened was the little treat bags that they were in never left my kitchen.¬† Well, except for one neighbor.¬† His did make it (see the one in the container pictured above).¬† Let’s get into this recipe.¬† ¬†It’s super simple & super delicious.

You start out with lining a shallow baking pan with parchment paper & not aluminum foil.  Why do I tell you that?  Because it will be far easier to remove your crackers once the toffee has been cooled from the parchment paper,  then from the aluminum foil.  It’s just that simple.

Next, you want to dissolve the brown sugar and butter in a medium saucepan and over medium high heat.

Don’t make the same mistake that I did, of melting the butter first and then adding the brown sugar to it, the second time that I made these.  The brown sugar & butter won’t become the lovely bubbly caramel that you’ll need if you do!

 

Next, pour your toffee over your parchment lined pan of crackers & let it sit for a few minutes.  Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 5 minutes on 350 degrees.

Remove from oven and immediately add the chips.

If your chocolate chips don’t melt for a while after sitting there, then you can put the pan back into the warm oven for 2-3 minutes.

Spread your chips evenly with a spatula or a clean butter knife, sprinkle on toffee pieces, sprinkles or nuts.  Chill for 2 hours then break to enjoy!

 

If you’re planning on sharing these with friends or family DO NOT sample before doing so.  Otherwise, they may not get any, as they are just that good!

Sincerely,

Chemeeka from Things She Makes