Friday, June 29, 2012

Key Lime Pie

On a recent Saturday morning, we took the kids to the Fernbank Science Center for the first time. By the time we got to the vicinity, it was close to lunch time, so we opted to get lunch at Mellow Mushroom before heading to the center. After finishing a pizza, we shared an order of key lime pie. Everyone agreed that was quite good. Somewhere during the conversation, it was hinted that such pie would be a welcomed item at home (*wink wink*). As I was trying to expand my recipe repertoire, I did an online search to see how complicated to make a key lime pie, for I was not about to take on any dessert recipe with more than 8 steps. It turned out the complexity level was acceptable to my simple mind. Once that was settled, I set out to buy the ingredients that I hadn't had in my inventory. From my past experience on many recipes I came across, I adjusted on the sweetness to my family's preference. Here is my take on key lime pie.

For crust
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs*
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For filling
1 1/2 can (14 ounce can) sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons key lime juice*

For topping
Whipped cream

Make crust:
Preheat oven to 350F.

Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter in a bowl with a fork until combined well, the press mixture evenly onto the bottom and up side of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake crust in middle of oven for 10 minutes and cool it on a rack.

* I used Back To Nature honey graham crackers as the regular graham crackers contain partially hydrogenated oil. I apologize I didn't count how many sticks of honey graham I used (maybe next time when I make the pie, I'll count it and update this post), but I think to start with 1/3 of the package is a good bet; then you can add a little more if needed. Or you could use 9 (2 1/4" x 4 3/4") regular graham crackers if you choose to.

As usual, I have extra cracker crumbs left, so I used two 3/4" tart/quiche pans to make 2 small crusts. I baked those for about 6 minutes.

Buttercup and Bubbles were good sports.
My kids helped me ground the crackers with their Powerpuff Girls characters, Buttercup and Bubbles. As you can see in the picture, the back of their heads don't seem to have any apparent damage from the repeated pounding. The insides, I can't say the same;-).

Make filling and bake:
This is one of the two tarts. By the time I took this picture,
the other one had already been consumed.
Whisk together the condensed milk and yolks in a bowl until combined well. Add juice and whisk until well combined and the mixture thickens slightly.

* I used the regular bottled lime juice out of convenience. Some suggest using Manhattan brand bottled key lime juice if you are picky about this kind of thing.

Pour filling into crust and bake in oven at 350F for 15 minutes. Cool pie completely on rack, then chill, covered, at least 8 hours.

I just used the store bought whipped cream for the topping as I didn't feel like making my own whipped cream. Or you could beat heavy cream until it just holds stiff peaks.

The result was excellent. The pie is plenty sweet and you can still taste the tartness from the lime juice. Some of the reviews from recipes with 1 can of sweetened condensed milk suggest 2 cans of milk, I suspected it would be too too sweet for my taste and it turned out I was correct. One and a half cans was just the right amount. The pie doesn't have a fancy look (my food usually don't anyway), but it sure is scrumptious! As my kids put it: "the best ever, mommy!"

Uh, once again I forgot to take a picture before the pie was sliced (*sigh*), but at least I remembered after a small serving was served.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Pineapple Fried Rice

Recently when dinner time draws near, I've had a hard time to come up with an exciting meal idea. Yesterday afternoon after I went back and forth a couple times with my family on what was for dinner, fried rice was finally decided. It was almost 6 o'clock, so I removed myself from the couch and set to start dinner. Good thing I have instant brown rice in the fridge to cut down the cooking time.

1/2 cup unprepared instant brown rice
This is probably one serving worth.
Olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/3 cup chopped onions
1 medium carrot, sliced
1 green onion, chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup roasted lightly salted cashews
2/3 cup diced red bell pepper
2/3 cup diced yellow bell pepper
12 pineapple chunks
2 tablespoons raisins
Tamari sauce or salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the instant brown rice in the microwave according to the package instructions. At the same time, chop the other ingredients and beat the eggs. Heat a large skillet or wok with olive oil in, put garlic, onions, carrots and white parts of the green onion in until the onions are translucent. Then put the green parts of the green onions and cilantro in. I don't like the green parts of the vegetables get overcooked. Dump the rice then stir in the eggs. Season with either Tamari sauce or salt and pepper to your taste. I put about 1 heaping tablespoon of Tamari sauce. When the eggs set in, add the cashews, bell peppers, pineapple pieces and the raisins. Mix everything well to serve.

Some fresh basil would be an excellent ingredient for this too. But I didn't have it on hand, so I used cilantro instead.

I used Uncle Ben instant brown rice. I like the texture of it, not as chewy like the regular brown rice, or as mushy like the instant white rice. I just bought some store brand kind but haven't tried it yet. We shall see how it'll turn out when I try it next. Don't forget to store the brown rice in the fridge after the package is opened.

Bon Appetit!