Tag Archives: baking

Key Lime Pie: Dairy-Free and Easy-Peasy

27 Mar

For as long as I’ve known my boyfriend, he’s been lactose intolerant. To be honest, I hadn’t known all that many lactose intolerant people before I met him. Yes, there was that one friend’s mom who always ordered her pizzas without cheese, and I thought that was unspeakably weird. But for the most part, my family members have stomachs of steel and don’t deal with food allergies (aside from Chase’s instant gag reflex if he ever so much as looks at a hot dog).

Back when I met H. those 6 years ago, he could eat what he described as “a little cheese.” And then he would just get “a little sick.” For years, I encouraged him to try Lactaid, a pill that helps your body digest lactose (I swear this isn’t an ad for Lactaid). He resisted, because (begin stereotype) men don’t like to admit when women are right (end stereotype).

As soon as he finally tried Lactaid, I’m telling you, he was a new man. All of a sudden it was pizza this and cheeseburgers that and once he even got ice cream at Jeni’s. But soon his Lactaid use started to worry me, and not just because the Lactaid packets look like little, tiny condoms and that’s a weird thing to whip out at the dinner table. I worried because he would take 3, 4, 5 or more Lactaid tablets with one meal. This seemed bad, perhaps even unhealthy. It also seemed like he was spending a lot of money on Lactaid.

So when he recently told me he was swearing off dairy, I was happy. I made the mistake of referring to this as a “dairy-free phase.”

“This isn’t a phase,” he corrected me. “This is a lifestyle.”

Okay, then! If you’re livin’ that dairy-free lifestyle, here’s a key lime pie for you and yours. Does it taste exactly like a “regular” key lime pie? No. It tastes like a pudding in a pie shell, because that’s exactly what it is. Also, I think you should know that as soon as I typed the words “pudding in a pie shell,” I sang “Turtle Power!” in my head. But anyway, pudding is never a bad thing!

You might be thinking to yourself, “Those look like regular limes, not key limes.” Well, you know what? Stop being so nitpicky.

Key Lime Pie
adapted from here

For the filling:

1/4 c. key lime juice
2 1/2 c. soy milk
1 c. sugar
5 Tbs. cornstarch
2 tsp. lime zest

adapted from Southern Food
6 tbsp butter, melted
24 graham crackers
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

In a small saucepan or the microwave, melt 6 tablespoons of butter.
Place about 24 graham crackers in a plastic bag. Roll with a rolling pin until finely crushed. Or use a food processor.
Measure 1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs into a bowl.
Add 1/4 cup of sugar, the cinnamon, and the nutmeg to the graham crackers.
Add the melted butter.
Stir or blend together with your hands.
Press into the pie plate or other pan.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F. oven. Under no circumstances should you spill pie crust crumbs all over your kitchen floor. That is NOT a step. I certainly didn’t do it.

Whisk lime juice, sugar, soymilk, lime zest, and cornstarch together in a saucepan, then turn on medium heat and slowly bring to a boil, stirring constantly until thick and creamy. Allow to cool slightly then pour into the pie crust and chill until firm.

Notes: This was really sweet, which maybe you will like. But it was too sweet for me, so I will probably cut down on the sugar next time.

Chocolate Cake Craving: Satisfied

21 Mar Joy the Baker's Simple Vegan Chocolate Cake

Remember when I had chocolate cake on the brain? Well, I finally made one…Joy the Baker’s Simple Vegan Chocolate Cake. Livin’ the dream!
Vegan baking is the best kind of baking. No, you don’t get that satisfying feeling that comes with blending butter and sugar, but you do get to eat the batter without the threat of salmonella. I mean, yeah, I eat the batter either way, but this way I don’t have that tiny little voice in the back of my head, warning me of my impending doom.
My favorite thing to do on the weekends is bake in the morning (not that kind of bake, you guys. I’m a grown woman), while listening to podcasts and drinking coffee. That’s how I made this cake, and it was a lovely morning. But it’s only partially about the process…I got a cake out of it, and I was so excited I couldn’t even wait until I took a picture to eat a piece.

It’s super easy and delicious. Make it for yourself!

Lady Podcasts: Joy the Baker

15 Mar

Are you tired of me talking about Joy the Baker? Well, sorry. I can’t stop/won’t stop, because she is a super-powered inspirational lady to me. She’s smart, driven, talented, stylin’ and a positive thinker. She just gets things done: a blog, a book, and a podcast. Not just a podcast, either, but an entire podcast network. Much like Nerdist or Earwolf, Joy the Baker is running a podcast empire, and I love her for it.
Her own podcast, cohosted by Tracy from Shutterbean, is my go-to car listen right now.
Here’s why I love the Joy the Baker podcast:

1. I always laugh.
Joy and Tracy are very funny. Not in a “trying to make jokes” sort of way, but in the “natural storyteller” sort of way. They are so good at relaying the weird, awkward moments in their lives in colorful, descriptive terms. You can tell that they’re real-life friends who care about each other, and they have super-interesting lives.

2. It’s good advice.
I can truly say I’ve learned so much from the Joy the Baker podcast. From easy party appetizers to blogging tips to what to buy a guy for Valentine’s Day (fancy gin/an ax), you’ll learn things you didn’t even know you wanted to know!
3. Positivity
This podcast is a guaranteed pick-me-up. Just like Joy’s site, the podcast is pretty, cheerful, and light. Joy and Tracy aren’t mean to people and they don’t complain. They talk a lot about their goals and dreams, and I like that! I honestly look forward to my ridiculously long commute when there’s a new JTB podcast.

Give it a listen! Do you like food, baking, laughing, and being happy? Of course you do! Check out the Joy the Baker Podcast with Tracy of Shutterbean.

Pi/Pie Day!

14 Mar

Hey nerds, it’s March 14th. You know what that means…PIE DAY. Get it? 3/14? 3.14? Pi? Pie? Right. Get excited.
In high school, the teacher I had for algebra, trig and calculus (that’s right, I took all three. Fellas, the line starts to the right) always celebrated pie day by making us all bring in a pie. We still weren’t allowed any goof off time, though. We had to learn and eat pie at the same time. Even though the other algebra class got to watch Stand And Deliver on the last day of the semester, she made us work because, “in this class, we work every day.” As a result, I’ve never seen Stand And Deliver and I know nothing about teaching math to underprivileged gang members.
But enough about that. Do you want to see some pictures of delicious pies from my favorite food blogs? Sure you do!

Strawberry Banana Cream Pie from Joy the Baker

Pear Custard Pie from Shutterbean

Chocolate Pudding Pie from Smitten Kitchen. Papa W’s favorite. Seriously, if you don’t like a good chocolate pudding pie, get out of my life.

Orange and Cream Pie by Joy the Baker. I actually made this one, so the picture above is taken by me. Highly recommended!

Toll House Chocolate Chip Pie from Nestle. This is what I always brought in for Pi/Pie Day. People always thought it was a pecan pie. It wasn’t.

Peach Blueberry Pie from Joy the Baker (again). This is another one I’ve actually made. So good!

I hope you all enjoy your Pie Day. As for me, I’ll have to save all the pie baking for the weekend, when I have more time. Why can’t my life just revolve around pie?!

Lady Tip #1: Bake A Little Something For Your Guests

12 Mar

I’ve discussed my love of self-help books in the past. Whether they’re about work, writing, happiness, what have you…if it’s about self-improvement, I will probably read it/listen to it in my car. We can get into the (weird, cynical, and completely unwarranted!)stigma around self-help books later. I know that, for me, they’ve been an enormous help. Over the past year, self-help books have helped me change my attitude towards myself and actually start accomplishing the things I’ve wanted to do my whole life. It’s kind of amazing!
Anyway, since I’m constantly listening to podcasts about creativity, reading books about achieving your goals, listening to audiobooks about writing and reading generically positive “you can do it, girl!” websites, I thought maybe I should share with you guys the things I’m learning. Hence LADY TIPS, which I like because it almost sounds dirty, but I don’t know why. Like, I’m not even going to let my brain go down that path to figure it out. If I found some nugget of wisdom through a book, website, or podcast I’ll link to it, but today’s Lady Tip just came from my own life. That will be rare, because I do not often learn from either my mistakes or my successes (end self-deprecating aside). And anyway, who do I think I am, Oprah (oh, hold on, it’s still going)? We’re just talking about the things I’m doing to make my life better/be a better friend/produce more/write more.

Lady Tip #1: Bake a Little Something For Your Guests

I don’t keep snack food in my house. I know, it sounds like a nonstop party around here…no snacks AND no TV? Who wants to visit? Since I don’t want any hungry guests to rummage through my cabinets and be like, “Umm, I guess I’ll eat this can of beans?” I always try to bake a little somethin’ somethin’ if I know a friend is coming around.
My ultimate model of hospitality is my mom. She will drop everything to make a person feel at home. Even if that means making one of her famous turkey-bacon sandwiches at 11 p.m, or even if that means buying ingredients she would never normally have in the house for someone with a dietary restriction. You will, guaranteed, always leave her house with a bag of cookies or a plate of food.
I’d like to have at least a little bit of that welcoming warmth in my place, even though I definitely can’t compete. So I always try to have something baked when people show up. Brownies, cake, cookies, it doesn’t matter. Sometimes I forget or run out of time, and I always regret it when that happens. It’s a quick thing you can do for a friend that says, “I’m glad you’re here!”
Of course, it’s important to make something your friend can ACTUALLY EAT. Very important! For example, I know Lauren doesn’t like broccoli (I KNOW!), so I would not make broccoli cookies for her. I wouldn’t make broccoli cookies anyway because those sound gross. Just kidding, I would totally make them! Please send any and all broccoli cookie recipes to welcometoladyville(at)gmail(dot)com!
My gal pal Jayne came over this weekend, and she is not a Sugar Eater. I wanted to bake something sweet she’d be able to eat, so I remembered a recipe I make often when I need a quick cookie. There are only four ingredients: peanut butter, sugar, an egg, and vanilla. I remembered seeing Paula Deen’s recipe for these cookies, which used sugar substitute. Bingo! I decided to use natural peanut butter to go with the unnatural sweetener.

Magical Peanut Butter Cookies
from Paula Deen

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar replacement, plus extra for doing those fun little fork criss-cross things (Paula recommends Splenda)
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet.

In a mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter, 1 cup sugar replacement, the egg, and vanilla, and stir well with a spoon. Roll the dough into balls the size of walnuts. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet. With a fork, dipped in sugar replacement to prevent sticking, press a crisscross design on each cookie. Bake for 12 minutes, remove from the oven, and sprinkle the cookies with some of the remaining sugar replacement. Cool slightly before removing from pan.

Note: I typically make these using real sugar, and I personally prefer them that way. But then again, I’m a big ol’ sugar eater. They were a little crumbly this time around, but they got the job done.

Yay for cookies!

Chocolate Cakes. Lots of Chocolate Cakes.

6 Mar

For some reason I’ve been thinking of nothing but cake lately. Typically I only make cakes on my boyfriend’s birthday (then, it’s always either strawberry with strawberry frosting or funfetti) or for my mom’s birthday if Alex isn’t around to do a better job. So why do I have cake on the brain? Probably because I started reading Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, which showcases this beauty on the cover:

But right now, what I wouldn’t give for a slice of thick, dense chocolate cake with a glass of ice cold milk. And I don’t even like milk.

Here are some chocolate cakes I would like for you to make and then deliver to me:

Joy the Baker’s Simple Vegan Chocolate Cake. I’m not vegan (obvi), but I do not discriminate when it comes to baked goods.

Joy the Baker’s Chocolate Avocado Cake. If I can add an avocado to something, I will.

Shutterbean’s Chocolate Earl Grey Cake. Oh my Lord, tea in a cake? I might need to make this, like, yesterday.

Smitten Kitchen’s Everyday Chocolate Cake. This is actually adapted from the cookbook Magnolia Bakery At Home, which is maybe my all-time favorite cookbook. Somehow I don’t own it, so if you would like to buy it for me, feel free to send it along.

Food Coma’s Flourless, No Bake Chocolate Cake. Seriously, what is this delightful little thing? Three ingredients? Is this just like straight-up ganache? I need to try this.

And finally, this Winning Hearts and Minds Chocolate Cake, found on Shutterbean but originally from the most amazing food memoir I’ve ever read, Molly Wizenberg’s A Homemade Life (read the first chapter here!). I can recommend this from personal experience, because I made it as soon as my tears dried after reading the absolutely gorgeous, touching last chapter of her book. This was her wedding cake, and it’s truly perfect. No frosting, which is a plus (I love frosting, for about three bites). It’s soft without being mushy, like a cross between a cake and a gooey brownie. I think I’ll make it again soon.

Do you have any favorite chocolate cake recipes? Let me know in the comments!

Because I Haven’t Posted a Recipe in a Very Long Time

5 Mar

True story: I love to bake. Truer story: I worry myself into a panic about whether or not I’m “healthy,” whatever that means. This sometimes means I think twice about making, say, a yellow cake with chocolate icing or a big pan of funfetti anything. But what about a “healthy” baked good? That’s okay, right? Like, if there’s fruit or a vegetable in something that basically cancels out the sugar and flour and butter…I’m pretty sure. Oatmeal raisin cookies are like eating oatmeal, banana bread is good for you, and zucchini bread counts as one of my 5-a-days. Don’t try to tell me otherwise, because I’m not listening.

Morning Glory Muffins are some of my favorite “healthy” baked goods. If you live around Columbus, try the ones from Northstar. With a bright orange Shooting Star (orange, carrot, lemon and ginger juice)? Divine! If you don’t live near Columbus, don’t worry. You can make your own wonderful Morning Glory Muffins in the comfort (or discomfort, it’s up to you!) of your own kitchen. They contain whole wheat flour, apples, carrots, raisins, and coconut, which means that these are basically health food. Just don’t say the name “Morning Glory Muffins” around my brother or boyfriend, because they will laugh at you. It does sound dirty. Why does it sound dirty? Whatever, let’s make some muffins!

Morning Glory Muffins
from Whole Foods

Makes 16

1 1/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed natural brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Fuji apple, cored, peeled and diced
1/2 cup seedless raisins
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons dried flaked unsweetened coconut, divided

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; break up any brown sugar lumps with your fingers or a wooden spoon.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, oil and vanilla, then add to flour mixture and stir just until combined. Add apples, raisins, carrots, walnuts and 1/4 cup of the coconut and stir gently until well combined.

Spoon batter into 16 paper-lined muffin tins, filling each about 2/3 full. Top evenly with remaining 4 teaspoons coconut and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cooked through.

Some changes from me:
-Like anyone is going to know if you ran out of whole wheat pastry flour and you just use regular flour. Just do you, girl! We’re not gonna tell anybody.
-I use half the amount of oil and sub the rest with applesauce, because I am really attached to the healthy theme. I also use sweetened applesauce, so I cut back on the sugar. I actually cut back on the sugar anyway, because all the fruit makes these pretty sweet.

*Photo is from Whole Foods. Obviously I did not take that picture.

Conquering My Fears (With Yeast)

20 Dec

I have a lot of fears. Knitting, for one. Do you know how many years I’ve had “learn to knit something other than a scarf” on my goal list? I don’t know either. I’ve lost track, and yet I still only know garter stitch. Remember that time I was afraid of pie crust? Similarly, I have a longstanding fear of yeast. So many times in my life, I’ve attempted to make french bread, rolls, or a pizza crust, only to have the dough remain a tiny, tough lump. For the life of me, I could not get that damn yeast to activate. In general, I don’t like any food that’s fickle; I stay away from desserts that can’t be made on humid days, or anything you need a candy themometer to make. So even though I’ve been craving cinnamon rolls for weeks, making them never even crossed my mind. I looked up places to buy them. I found recipes that didn’t involve yeast. And then, finally, it hit me like a ton of flour, sugar, and butter: why didn’t I just make them myself? What was I afraid of? A fear of yeast, just like a fear of knitting or pie crust, isn’t a real fear. I mean, it’s not like cults or serial killers, both of which pose a real and persistent danger to all of us daily. The worst that can happen with a pie crust is that it turns out to be not so good, and it would take a real effort to harm yourself with a blunt knitting needle. So what was I so afraid of when it came to cinnamon rolls? Was I afraid of failure? Was I afraid of trying? Was I just afraid of hard work?

Probably the latter.

So this morning, armed with my trusted Betty Crocker recipe, I tackled cinnamon rolls. The recipe in my book was very similar to this one, although the filling involved brown sugar instead of regular sugar. Also, I did not include raisins or nuts.
Guess what, guys? They actually turned into cinnamon rolls! When I saw that the dough had risen, meaning that the yeast activated, I gasped.

They were delicious, but truthfully, they were also a pain in the ass. Cinnamon rolls are time consuming and involve two rising sessions. Cinnamon rolls: the divas of baked goods. Also, you do not need to add near that much flour. I think, in total, I had less than 3 cups in there. I’d recommend making them, but save them for a morning you have a lot of time on your hands. Or maybe just make them when you’re stressed out, because kneading was surprisingly cathartic. These cinnamon rolls absorbed my frustrations.

H. ate two! They got his seal of approval, but that’s coming from a guy who once told me he prefers Pillsbury cinnamon rolls from a tube to homemade, so I’m not sure what that means.

To Do: Make a Pie Crust

5 Sep

Some things you just don’t want to do every day. Like go to the gynecologist. Or renew your driver’s license. Or make a pie crust.

To be fair, one of those things is much less stressful than the others, and also has a much greater reward. Since I’m not enough of an exhibitionist as to talk to you about my doctor’s visits and not enough of a bore as to discuss my trips to the BMV, I’m talking about pie making.

Every year, I make a list of goals for myself, and “make a pie crust” has been on that list for about three years. Somehow, even though checking it off the list only required the investment of a couple hours and a few cups of flour, I just kept not making a pie crust. People often talk about how labor intensive the process is, and those Marie Callender’s pie crusts are right there next to the refrigerated crescent roll tubes, and the whole thing seemed to rely on equal parts luck and finesse, neither of which I have much of in the kitchen. As I started my 25th year by writing the words “Make a pie crust” yet again, it started to feel like that pie crust meant something. The pie crust was effort that I wasn’t expending, creativity that I wasn’t putting to use, chances that I wasn’t taking. That damn pie crust had begun to symbolize everything that frustrated me in my life.

Do you guys know how old Lady Gaga is? She’s 25. I’m 25. Look at how much she’s accomplished and look at how much I’ve accomplished. You don’t have to write a gay pride anthem or wear a meat dress or get really into method acting for an awards show, I told myself. You just have to make some dough.

So I made a pie crust this weekend. I used Joy the Baker’s recipe for Peach Blueberry Pie because a) peaches are at the end of their season and b) every Joy the Baker recipe turns out well and stuns the crowds.

I used an empty Sofia bottle as a rolling pin because I’m such a lush.

Here’s the thing about making pie crust: it doesn’t take that long, but it kind of does take that long. It’s slightly frustrating (personally, I don’t like cutting butter into flour OR rolling out dough) and it gets messy. You will get a lot of flour on your shirt; this is just something you will have to accept early on. Also, I think I did something wrong when I was mixing it up because mine seemed far crumblier than was described in the recipe. But guess what?

It’s a pie! It turned out okay, and earned such high praise as “This is actually pretty good” from one of H’s friends. The best kind of compliments are the reluctant kind that make it seem as if the compliment giver expected terrible things from you. Oh, wait. Those are the worst kind of compliments. No matter! I made a pie and it was good.

Was it better than the Marie Callender’s refrigerated pie crusts? Well…it tasted almost the same! While it will certainly make you feel about 85% more badass to make your own pie crust, probably no one will be able to tell if you just buy the refrigerated kind. You’ll lose some bragging rights, though, and then you won’t be that obnoxious girl who says things like, “Oh, a premade pie crust? No, I bake from scratch.”

One more thing to check off the ol’ to do list. If you’re venturing into the wild and wonderful world of pie baking, I’d recommend this recipe. Just try to cut your piece a little more neatly than I did.

A Cake for Cake Mom

7 Aug

I haven’t been baking or cooking much this summer. Part of that’s due to the weather…who wants a box emanating 350 degrees of heat when it’s already above 90 degrees? The other part is due to something I heard Marc Maron talk about on one of his podcasts awhile ago, and that’s using cooking as a procrastination tool. I realized I was preparing elaborate dinners for just me in order to put off doing the things I really wanted/needed to be doing.

But that doesn’t mean I’ve put aside baking entirely. A few weeks ago, Mama W had a birthday. As Cake Mom, she’s generally in charge of making the birthday cakes. That’s because she makes cakes like this:

Holy Macaroni. Am I supposed to compete with that? “Can’t you just make your own birthday cake?” I asked, and while she probably would actually have done that, I knew I had to roll up my sleeves, crack my knuckles, and get to bakin’.
Because I know I don’t have her mad decorating skills, I decided to make a simple cake that required only edible adornments. This double chocolate layer cake from Smitten Kitchen seemed like it was indulgent enough to make up for a lack of icing flowers. There’s a cup and a half of cocoa in that cake. Also I’m pretty sure the ganache was directly responsible for some minor weight gain on my part. I threw some raspberries on there to finish it off and make it look presentable. No piping required!

She wasn’t even turning 51, but those were the only candles we had. That was an improvement from last year’s birthday candle.

Chasey wanted it to be his birthday:

I also made the Cook’s Illustrated recipe for the Best Blueberry Muffins. I would recommend this recipe, because they actually were the best! That’s mostly due to the use of butter, oil, and buttermilk, and making a quick jam in addition to using whole berries.
They put Lexie to sleep.

Then we sang Happy Birthday and Alex melisma-ed the hell out of it.