Thursday, July 14, 2011

Free Form Peach Pie...

... or if you want to get all fancy about it, Peach Galette.  (No, I have no idea how to pronounce it.  That's why I call it the "free form peach pie".)

Remember the "I love strawberries" post?  Well, I love peaches too.  I love peaches a lot.  I eat them just like you would an apple - peach fuzz and all!  You can blame my father, he taught me to do it.  Everyone thinks I'm nuts for eating peach fuzz but in my own defense, I only eat peach fuzz on one type of peach... come to think of it, I only each one type of peach.  And they are peaches that can only be found at the farmer's market.  I have no idea what the name of the peach is but I know the flavor.  I've gotten peaches from the grocery store and they just aren't right.  So I tend to stock up on peaches I love once I find them.  The last time I got peaches, I wanted to make a pie but I didn't want to go through the whole process of actually making a pie (mainly because I was tired and it was around 8:30 at night when I suddenly had the bright idea to make something).  Enter Cooking Light.  Full of great recipes that are good to you and good for you! 

Now for a little product placement... you all know how much I love King Arthur Flour.  Awhile back, I placed an order that included a little thing called Instant ClearJel.  You're wondering what it is, aren't you?  According to all the reviews on the KAF website, the ClearJel is the greatest invention since sliced white bread, especially for people who bake fruit pies.  Fruit pies have this tendency to leak.  Leak a lot.  Instant ClearJel makes all that leaky mess disappear and form this lovely, yummy, gelatin-like substance.  You'll see in my picture that not ONE bit of my peach pie thingy (my other name for this recipe) leaked out of the sides!  Do you need ClearJel to make this recipe?  No - you could just as easily use cornstarch (but please dissolve it in a little water with a whisk or fork so you don't end up with cornstarch clumps!). 

Peach Galette / Free Form Peach Pie / Peach Pie Thingy
(courtesy of Cooking Light, Sept. 2001, adapted slightly by me!)

1 refrigerated pie crust
4 c. Peaches, fresh and pealed
1/4 - 1/3 c. Sugar (this all depends on how sweet your peaches are)
1/2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
2 Tbsp. Instant ClearJel (or Cornstarch)

Preheat oven to 425.
Line a large broiler pan or cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
Combine the peaches, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and ClearJel/cornstarch.
Roll out your pie crust until it's around 11 or 12 inches (you can easily do this with your hands in the pan itself - why dirty up another dish?).
Pour the peach mixture into the center of the pie crust.
Using a spoon, flatten the mixture slightly, moving the filling towards the crust, leaving a 1 1/2 inch border of pie crust.
Now fold that 1 1/2 inch pie crust border OVER the peach mixture.  You aren't covering the peach mixture, you're just making a crust.  Don't make it look pretty, it's supposed to look rustic!
Bake in your preheated oven for 10 minutes.
Reduce the temp. to 350 (don't take out the peach thingy!) and bake for an additional 20 minutes (lower temp and turn on the timer - don't wait until the temp drops to 350).

Calories:  232 per serving (makes 8 servings)

Note:  Feel free to add blueberries to this dish if you'd like.  Use 1 c. blueberries with 3 c. peaches!

Blueberry Muffins

I have a husband who loves blueberries.  Especially blueberry muffins.  When we went to the farmer's market in Raleigh last weekend and found $2 pints of fresh NC blueberries, I couldn't resist getting some.  So what does he ask for?  Blueberry muffins.  Off I go in search of a great blueberry muffin recipe.  Now I'm going to let you in on a secret - I've made muffins before and the last two times I tried to make them with a different recipe, it was a disaster.  Complete and utter disaster.  The outside was cooked perfectly but the insides weren't even cooked!  One batch I made basically looked like a bubble had formed between the inside and outside of the muffins.  I can't explain it.  That recipe promptly got thrown out.  So knowing my previous experience with blueberry muffins, I had to go back to my tried and true source - King Arthur Flour.  Now I know you're all thinking, "Here she goes again with the KAF!"  But let me assure you, I go back to this company's recipes for a reason.  Their recipes work.  Time and time again.  So I knew if I could find a blueberry muffin recipe that would work, it would be from them.  I looked in their All Purpose Baking cookbook and found a recipe that sounded just yummy!  I made it and I have gotten rave reviews from my husband and mom, both who have said they are some of the best muffins they have ever tasted!  Want rave reviews for your blueberry muffins?  Give these a shot!!

Classic Blueberry Muffins
(courtesy of The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion - The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook)

8 Tbsp/1 stick Butter, melted
1 c. Sugar
2 Eggs (or 1/2 cup EggBeaters)
2 tsp. Baking Powder
2 c. All-Purpose Flour (KAF)
1/2 c. Milk (I used skim)
1 tsp. Vanilla (Nielson-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste)
2 c. Blueberries, Fresh (can you use frozen?  I don't think so - the original recipe specifies fresh)

Preheat oven to 375.
Cream together the butter and sugar.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.
Mix in the baking powder.
Now you need to add the flour and milk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour and mixing well.
Add in the vanilla.
Fold in the fresh blueberries.
Pour the batter into a greased muffin tin.  (Note:  The amount of batter will come pretty close to filling up the muffin cups but don't worry, the batter won't spill over.  They dome up so pretty!)
Bake the muffins for 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.  (The tops may look a little underdone.  If they aren't dark enough for you, feel free to leave them in for another minute or two.)
When the muffins are finished, let them cool for 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes, take the muffins out of the muffin pan and let them finish cooling on a wire rack (or you can flip the muffins out of the pan slightly so they bottom doesn't steam.)

Calories:  230 per muffin

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Easy Banana Nut Muffins

Sometimes a recipe comes along that is so good, people ask for it as a gift.  This is the story of these muffins.  I was looking for a banana nut muffin recipe because I had some bananas that were turning black and were begging to be used.  Now, I'm not the biggest fan of banana nut bread or muffins.  I prefer straight bananas but my best friend Erin is the exact opposite and I knew my parents loved banana nut things (what about Ryan?  He hates bananas).  So I knew if I made them, they would be eaten.  I made the muffins and my dad fell in love with them.  He loved them so much that when I asked him what he wanted for father's day, he said, "I want those banana muffins you made a couple of weeks ago."  So that's what I did!

Banana Nut Muffins
(recipe courtesy of King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook)

1/2 c. Butter, melted
1/2 c. Brown Sugar (I use light but you can use dark if that's all you have)
3/4 tsp. Baking Soda
3/4 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice (no PPS?  Use 1/4 tsp. nutmeg and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon)
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract (Neilson-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste)
3 Ripened Bananas
1/4 c. Honey
2 Eggs (or 1/2 c. Egg Beaters)
2 c. Whole Wheat Flour (or White Whole Wheat or All-Purpose) (KAF)
1/2 c. Chopped Walnuts or Pecans

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 12 cup muffin tin.
Beat together the butter, brown sugar, baking soda, spices, and vanilla in a bowl until smooth.
Add the honey and eggs, beating until smooth.
Peel the bananas and place into the bowl.  Using a potato masher, mash the bananas into the mixture (you can make it as lumpy or smooth as you like).
Add in the flour, stir to combine.
Lastly, add the walnuts/pecans and mix.
Pour the batter evenly into your muffin tin (I like using a 1/4 c. measuring cup so I know how much is going into each tin).
Bake the muffins for 23 to 28 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Remove them from the oven and allow them to cool for a couple of minutes and then move the muffins to a rack to cool.

Want to make Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins?  Add 1/2 c. chocolate chips instead of the 1/2 c. nuts.
Want bread instead of muffins?  Follow the directions only instead of adding to greased muffin tin, you'll add the batter to a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes.  After 50 minutes, cover the bread lightly with foil and cook an additional 10 minutes.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing the bread from the pan and allowing it to finish cooling on a wire rack.