Perfect Pie Crust

Before I found this recipe, pie crust – and really pies in general, had been my nemesis. Jon prefers pie over cake. So I tried, God I tried. But I always had issues with the dough splitting and cracking, or not rolling out evenly. Not to mention my rolling skills weren’t the best to begin with. But I knew that pie crust was something that I had to get the hang of, so I soldiered on and finally came across this recipe from Annie.

Couldn’t be simpler! There’s no funny techniques or weird ingredients (I’m looking at you, vodka) to worry about. It’s made in the stand mixer, which is always a plus – the paddle attachment breaks up the butter pieces as a pastry cutter would do. A little chilling period in the refrigerator to firm it up before rolling out, and then voila – a pie crust that rolls out beautifully, and it still sturdy enough to work with to get in the pan and get your crimping done. Not to mention it’s always perfectly tender and flaky as well…everything that a pie crust should be!

I’ve used this recipe for pies that require a blind bake (for something like this Cherry Cheese Pie, where you need a baked pie shell, but the pie-filling doesn’t need to be cooked) or for something like Ricotta-Pineapple Pie, where the whole pie needs to go in the oven to bake. In either even, it always turns out beautifully. If you too have struggled with pie crusts in the past, give this recipe a try. It really was a lifesaver for me, and now I’m so proud of my many pie accomplishments in the kitchen!

Source: adapted from William’s Sonoma via Annie’s Eats

Boston Cream Cupcakes

I love Boston Cream in any incarnation – whether it’s doughnuts, or the traditional cake, or these perfect little cupcakes…I love ‘em all! Last month when I made the homemade paczki, I had some leftover pastry cream. So, I thought what better to do with them than make these cupcakes?

I used my favorite vanilla cupcake recipe, filled them with a bit of the pastry cream, then topped with a decadent chocolate ganache. I loved the way the chocolate dripped down the side of the cupcakes. As you can imagine, they were nothing short of spectacular! The guys declared them one of the best cupcakes I’ve made, which really speaks volumes I think.

Leftovers went into work with Jon the next day, and all his coworkers at NASA loved them too. There’s not much that crew won’t gobble up! I’m looking forward to trying this recipe as a traditional Boston Cream cake too, using two 9-inch cake pans instead of baking cupcakes.

I hope everyone has a great weekend! We’re still on “baby watch” – 2 weeks left to go! Jon’s mom is in town for the weekend , so we’re looking forward to spending some time with her and Grandpa Matt since we haven’t seen them since Thanksgiving. Kicking it all off by taking the boys to the local baseball game tonight. It’ll be their first time, and they’re super excited. Go Shorebirds!

Source: pastry cream adapted from All Recipes

Banana Crumb Coffee Cake

I love banana bread and all, but sometimes I just feel like my bananas have a higher calling than in the form of a loaf. A calling for something more like…cake, for instance! Now, after making this – I’m not sure that I’ll ever make a loaf of banana bread again. It was that good!

I mean, I guess I should have known. Coffee cakes have never let me down in the past. But the banana added so much flavor and moisture, then to combine it with the cinnamon streusel on top was just the perfect touch. It also has some of the streusel layered in the middle of the cake too, which I thought was a really nice and surprising twist.

It was perfect as breakfast or dessert, and was still fresh and moist after day three. It made plenty, so it’s perfect to make for a get-together, or to share with friends and neighbors. It’s been a few weeks since I baked this, and I’m already looking forward to making it again. It might have to happen this weekend!

We’re looking forward to the annual egg hunt at our local NASA base tomorrow. As well as dying our easter eggs – that’s getting to be so much fun now that the boys are getting a little bit older.! Although, I’ve been making poor Jon dye eggs since before we were married – so I suppose I’ve always had alot of fun with it. I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter holiday!

Source: adapted from Cookies & Cups

Apple Oatmeal Cheesecake Bars

We’re officially down to the wire with baby #3, with less than a month to go at this point. Giving my large size and just general uncomfortable nature – I’m not feeling up to cooking and baking as much as I have been in the past few months. But, I did find the time and energy to make these awesome oatmeal bars this week!

I know apple butter may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to spring. But, let me just say that’s the wrong way to think! It’s a delicious base for a barbecue sauce, or smeared onto a crostini and topped with a little blue cheese and a slice of apple for an easy appetizer. Not to mention the classic peanut butter and apple butter sandwich that is my boy’s favorite!

These bars are delicious, and easy to bring together – which automatically means a winner in my kitchen. A quick crumble composed of oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, and butter is used for the base and the topping. And sandwiched in the middle is a layer of apple butter and a cheesecake filling. What’s bad in that equation? All the flavors go together just perfectly.

I hope that everyone is enjoying all the gorgeous weather we’ve been having. Our crew is heading to Ocean City for the weekend – for a little family “babymoon” before our next bundle of joy arrives. Hoping to eat plenty of good food and let the boys have some fun in the sun. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Source: adapted from Musselman’s

Disclaimer: I received a jar of apple butter from Musselman’s, as well as a lovely spring bouquet of flowers from FTD for my review. As always, all opinions are my own.