Peanut Butter and Jelly Hand Pies

Peanut Butter and Jelly “Pies”

These little pies are a fun way to take peanut butter and jelly on the road. They are just cut out circles of pie crust, filled with peanut butter and jelly, sealed, then baked.  Very easy to make, and a fun cooking project for kids as well as adults. We made them in cooking camp yesterday. Since my camps are nut-free we just made jelly hand pies. The kids loved them.

I prefer home made pie crust, but use store bought, if you like. We used the recipe for Eva’s Kolachy, listed below. It makes enough for more hand pies than a box of pie crusts, so make more of use the extra dough for something else.

A nice treat, these little pies can be a snack, breakfast, lunch or even a dessert.

They are also great to take along for road trips. I have filled them with peanut butter and a few chocolate chips for a fun dessert. You can use almond or cashew butter, if you prefer.

Get creative and have fun.

Peanut Butter & Jelly  Mini Pies

1 (15 oz.) package pie crusts or homemade crust for 2 pies*

1 egg

1 T. water

½ c. peanut butter, about

½ c. preserves, any flavor or pie filling, about

Powdered sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 400-degrees. On lightly floured surface roll out one of the crusts into a 12-inch circle. Using a 2½-inch round cookie cutter cut out about 12-14 circles, re-rolling scraps and set aside. Roll out second piece of dough so you will have about 24-28 circles altogether. Beat together water and egg and set aside. Place a circle on work surface and place 1 teaspoon each of peanut butter and preserves in the center. Brush edges of the circle with egg wash. Place second circle on top and press edges together to seal. Prick crust with a fork a few times. Repeat with remaining circles. Place “pies” on lightly greased baking sheets and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack and dust with powdered sugar, if desired.

Eva’s Kolachy

Dough:

3 c. flour

1 t. baking powder

½ t. salt

1 c. butter*

3 eggs

2 pkts. Yeast

½ c. warm milk

Filling:

Assorted pie fillings, jams, sweetened cream cheese or ricotta cheese. You will need about three cups of filling.

In mixing bowl, combine flour with baking powder and salt. Cut  butter into flour until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Set aside.  Place eggs in a small bowl and beat until smooth. In small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. Add to egg mixture and stir to combine. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until combined. If mixture is sticky add a small amount of flour. Roll dough out on floured board. Thinner the better, as this dough will puff some when baked. Cut into squares- or whatever shape you like. I did 2-inch squares. Place a spoonful of filling into center of each cookie. Fold up two of the corners and press firmly to seal. Fold over and press seam again. These like to pop open when baking, so the second fold over and pressing helps them to stay closed. Some people like to add a bit of egg wash or milk to the tops to help them seal better. I just squeeze together and fold twice.  Place cookies on an ungreased baking sheet, about an inch apart. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Cook on a rack. Dust cooled cookies with powdered sugar or with a powdered sugar glaze. Makes about 5-6 dozen.

*The original recipe called for shortening. Tia and  I both decided butter was better!! That is the only change we made to Eva’s original recipe.

Blackberry Jelly

Blackberry Jelly

I recently purchased some beautiful blackberries. I was busy, so a lot of them ended up in the freezer to use and enjoy later.

I decided to use some of them to make blackberry jelly. I had recently made jam and pie filling. This time I wanted a seedless end product.

It came out perfect. Sweet and tart, and full of the flavor of summer. Jelly was a little more work than jam, but worth every bit of effort.

I first cooked the berries to extract the juice, then used that juice to make the jelly. While it was a hot day to be making jelly- the aroma in the house made it all worth it.

Blackberry Jelly

3 quarts blackberries*

1/2 c. water

1 box powdered pectin

5 c. sugar

Place the berries in a pot and use a potato masher to crush the berries. Add the water and simmer until the berries are soft. Strain out the solids and then pour the juice through several layers of cheesecloth to clarify. You should end up with about 4-5 cups of juice. Place juice in a pot and add the pectin. Bring mixture to a boil stirring constantly. Add the sugar and return mixture to the boil, again stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and skim off any foam. Ladle mixture into clean, hot jelly jars and fill to 1/4 inch from the top. Seal and repeat with remaining jelly.  Place in a boiling water bath and process 10 minutes. Makes 6-7 half pints.

* Best if some of the berries are a little under ripe. Under ripe fruit is higher in natural pectin.

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

We made these in cooking camp yesterday. They were still warm at the end of class so we will be frosting them today. The kids were a little curious about adding zucchini to a dessert, but I think they will be pleasantly surprised.

I like the recipe because the zucchini makes the cakes nice and moist. They aren’t that sweet, either. I used a simple vanilla frosting but you could just dust them with powdered sugar or perhaps use a cream cheese frosting.  I have a friend who likes me to leave them plain. She prefers them un-frosted. Frosted or not these are a simple and tasty recipe that can make a dessert even the zucchini haters should love.

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

½ c. butter
½ c. oil
1 ¼ c. sugar
2 eggs
½ c. buttermilk
1 t. vanilla
2 ½ c. flour
1/3 c. cocoa
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
2 c. shredded zucchini

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 30 muffin pans with paper liners and set aside. In mixing bowl combine butter, oil, sugar and eggs and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in milk and vanilla. Combine dry ingredients and add to egg mixture- beating until smooth. Stir in zucchini. Scoop batter into cupcake paper lined pans, filling about 2/3 full. You will get about 30, I sometimes get more. Bake 15-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool and frost. Makes 30-36.

I used the Classic Vanilla Frosting recipe below, but doubled the recipe.

Classic Vanilla Buttercream

3/4 cup butter
6 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk
Beat butter in a large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add 3 cups of the sifted confectioners’ sugar, beating well. Slowly beat in the vanilla, salt, and 1/3 cup of the milk. Gradually beat in the 3 remaining cups of confectioner’s sugar. Beat in additional milk (1 to 2 tablespoons) if needed, to make frosting of spreading consistency. If desired tint the frosting with 6 to 8 drops of food coloring.

Homemade Blackberry Ice Cream

Blackberry Ice Cream

I am so happy with this ice cream. The flavor came out just right. The texture is super creamy and not too sweet. The chunks of blackberry add just the right amount of tartness. I love fruit based ice creams, but I never made blackberry ice cream before. I will be making it again, for sure.

I have had the inspiration to make a new recipe for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes creative reasons, or sometimes nostalgic feelings. This ice cream came about because of expiration dates. I had both heavy whipping cream and half and half that needed to be used up soon. I didn’t want to freeze them and I wasn’t going to waste them. Since I had a carton of blackberries in the fridge, it seemed only natural to make a blackberry ice cream. I don’t always add eggs to my ice cream, but I had a dozen eggs that needed to be used, too.

Whatever the motivation, this ice cream is one of my favorites. There is a little more work to making an egg-based custard ice cream. But the extra effort is worth it. The texture is so creamy.

With any fruit based ice cream, you don’t want to just put raw fruit in the mixture and freeze it. That will cause the fruit to get big ice crystals. Fruit can be cooked first, like I did with the berries in this recipe, or the fruit can be frozen, then thawed before being added to ice cream base.

So here is the recipe. I used an orange because I had an orange. I could see using a lemon instead, or perhaps lime. I left a little wiggle room on the amount of sugar you add to it. Before someone asks- yes- you can sweeten with honey, if you prefer. Just use a light hand. Honey is sweeter than sugar. Enjoy!!

Blackberry Ice Cream

6 oz. blackberries, washed

1 large orange

½ c. sugar

1½ c. half and half

1 c. heavy whipping cream

3 egg yolks

¾ c. sugar- or a little more or less to taste

1 t. vanilla

In medium saucepan, place the blackberries. Zest the orange and add the zest to the berries. Juice the orange and add the juice to the berries along with the ½ cup of sugar. Heat until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture starts to thicken, about 6-8 minutes. Stir occasionally. Don’t let it burn. Remove mixture to a bowl to cool down. You can use the same saucepan to heat the half and half and cream to a low boil. In a small bowl, beat together the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla. Add ½ cup of the hot cream mixture to the eggs, whisking in well. Add another ½ cup of the cream mixture, whisking again. Add one last ½ cup of the hot cream and again, whisk until smooth. Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan with the cream and while whisking, simmer until mixture starts to thicken and will coat the back of a spoon. This will take about 5 minutes. Don’t use too high a heat, or you will scramble your eggs. Mixture should reach 160 degrees to be sure eggs are cooked. Remove from heat, stir in reserved blackberry mixture. Pour mixture into a bowl. Allow ice cream base to cool down, then chill in fridge. Chilled mixture can be frozen in an ice cream maker once cold- in a few hours- or even the next day. Once mixture has been frozen in ice cream maker, place in a container and freeze until ready to serve. Makes about 5-6 cups of ice cream. 

Raspberry Tea Bread

Raspberry Tea Bread

This raspberry tea bread is a favorite of mine. It is not too sweet and pairs nicely with coffee or tea, so it can be a breakfast or brunch dish. It makes a nice dessert, too.

The bread is studded with raspberries with hints of cinnamon and vanilla. It can be eaten plain or served up with fruit topping or maybe some whipped cream.  I have used it as the base for a pretty good shortcake. I topped slices of the raspberry bread with ice cream, more berries and a dollop of whipped cream.

Like most quick breads, it is better if you wrap it up in plastic or foil, once cooled, and eat it the next day, if you can wait that long!!

 Raspberry Tea Bread

1¾ c. flour
½ t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
½ t. cinnamon
½ c. butter, at room temperature
¾ c. sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
½ c. sour cream, room temperature
1 t. vanilla
1 c. raspberries, fresh or frozen
¾ c. chopped nuts, optional

Grease an 8×4 inch loaf pan and preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine dry ingredients. Set aside. In small bowl beat butter until creamy. Add sugar and beat 1 minute. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in sour cream and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture until just moistened. Fold in berries and nuts and place batter in prepared pan. Bake 60-65 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack. Makes 1 loaf. Freezes well.

Blueberry Galette

Blueberry Galette

A galette is a cross between a pie and a tart. Rather than placing the crust in a pie pan, the crust is rolled out and the fruit is placed in the middle. The edges of the crust are folded over the fruit, leaving them exposed in the middle.  Galettes have a rustic charm. They are also easy to make.

I will be serving this for dessert later. It was one of those times that what I had on hand worked together perfectly. I had blueberry pie filling and leftover kolachy dough from cooking camp. Made sense to use them together.

I used homemade blueberry pie filling, but you could use store-bought, if you prefer.

The ingredients are pretty simple, pie crust and pie filling. You’ll need enough pie crust dough for one pie and one cup of blueberry pie filling per galette. After I folded over the edges, I brushed them with a little milk and sprinkled the edges with sugar, to help the crust brown nicely.

Blueberry Galette

Crust for one pie- recipe follows

1 cup blueberry pie filling

milk

2-3 T. sugar

Roll out crust like you would for a pie, about a 10 or 12 inch circle. Place crust on a baking sheet. Spoon filling into the middle of the crust. Fold edges of the crust over the fruit filling, leaving about a three inch circle exposed in the middle. Brush crust with milk and sprinkle  with the sugar. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Remove to a rack to cool. Serves 4-6.

Blueberry Galette: ready to serve

Here is the recipe I used for the crust. It would make enough for about 3-4 galettes.  We used most of the dough for hand pies in cooking camp and I had leftover dough. It can be frozen, too.

Eva’s Kolachy Dough

3 c. flour

1 t. baking powder

½ t. salt

1 c. butter

3 eggs

2 pkts. Yeast

½ c. warm milk

In mixing bowl, combine flour with baking powder and salt. Cut butter into flour until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Set aside. Place eggs in a small bowl and beat until smooth. In small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. Add to egg mixture and stir to combine. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until combined. If mixture is sticky add a small amount of flour. Roll dough out on floured board. Thinner the better, as this dough will puff some when baked. Unlike a traditional pie crust dough, this one does not need to be chilled. It is also very easy to roll out. Use about 1/3- 1/4 of this dough per galette. Extra dough can be frozen to use later.

Coconut Almond Sorbet

Coconut Almond Sorbet

Inspired by a friend who can’t have dairy, I made this coconut sorbet. I started with a can of coconut milk, added some almond milk, sweetened it, and added vanilla for a little added flavor. So simple and really tasty.

It has a lot of the creaminess of a dairy based dessert.  In fact, if you didn’t know, you would probably think there is some milk or cream in this sorbet, even though there isn’t.

Looking forward to making some for my vegan niece the next time she comes to town.

Coconut Almond Sorbet

1 can (13.5 oz.) coconut milk

1 c. almond milk

¼ c. sugar- or to taste

2 t. vanilla

Combine all ingredients in bowl and stir until sugar is dissolved. Place in an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Makes 1 quart.

Note: If you don’t have an ice cream machine, you can freeze the sorbet in a shallow tray. Once frozen, remove from freezer and let it soften a few minutes. Break into chunks and process in a food processor to soften. Return to freezer until ready to eat.

Cherry and Blueberry Clafoutis

Cherry and Blueberry Clafoutis

So what is clafoutis? Clafoutis is a sort of pancake, sort of custard, sort of quiche. It is a lovely dessert for fresh fruit, for sure.

You can serve clafoutis plain, or topped with powdered sugar or whipped cream. On a hot day, I like to serve it with a scoop of ice cream.

Clafoutis is really simple to make, too. You start by putting the fruit in a prepared pan. The batter is made in a blender, and takes just a couple of minutes to prepare. You pour the batter over the fruit- and bake.

I used cherries and blueberries in this one, but you can use all sorts of fruits- peaches, plums, raspberries…..

Most people enjoy it as a dessert, but it is also nice with that morning cup of coffee.

I used a combination I thought would make a nice dessert for summer.

Cherry and Blueberry Clafoutis

2 c. pitted cherries, I cut them in half, but you can leave whole

1 c. blueberries

3 eggs

1 c. sugar

3 T. melted butter

½ c. flour

2 t. vanilla extract

1 t. almond extract

pinch of salt

1 c. half and half

powdered sugar, optional

Grease a 9×9-inch baking dish or pie pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cherries and blueberries in the prepared pan. In blender, combine eggs, sugar, butter, flour, flavorings and salt.* Blend until smooth. Add half and half and blend again until smooth. Pour batter over the cherries and blueberries. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until clafoutis is browned around edges and puffed up. Allow to cool and dust with powdered sugar, if you like. It will deflate as it cools. Serves 6.

* You can whisk the ingredients together by hand, if you prefer.

Blueberry Mini Tarts

Blueberry Mini Tarts

When a friend gave me some beautiful blueberries from her garden, I decided to use them to make mini blueberry tarts in cooking camp this week. Thanks, Anita.

You can use store bought pie filling, but I include the recipe at the bottom of the post. The recipe makes 4 cups of filling- you can use all the dough and all the filling and have 48 tarts.

The kids were divided into two groups and each group made 24 tartlets. We had a little blueberry filling left over.

Blueberry Mini Tarts

Flaky Pie Crust

2 c. flour

1 t. salt

3/4 c. butter, chilled – you could use coconut oil, lard or shortening

1 T. cider vinegar

4-5 T. cold water

Combine flour and salt in food processor and add butter. Pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Toss in vinegar and water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing as you add, until dough just holds together. Remove from processor and press dough together to form a ball. Chill at least 30 minutes before using. Makes enough for 2 pie crusts or up to 48 tarts.

Blueberry Pie Filling

3 1/2 c. blueberries, fresh or frozen

3/4 c. sugar, or to taste

1/4 c. cornstarch

1 c. water

1 T. lemon juice

In saucepan, bring blueberries and sugar to a boil, stirring often. Combine cornstarch with water and lemon juice and add to the blueberry mixture. Return to the boil and cook until thickened and bubbly. Makes 4 cups. You will not need the whole batch for the tarts.

To make the tarts: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thickness on lightly floured board. Cut out with 2-inch round cutter and place dough circles in mini muffin tins or mini tart pans. Re-roll scraps and keep cutting out until you have 48 circles. Place a rounded teaspoon of filling in each tart. I used fairly shallow pans, you can add more filling if your pans are deeper. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn down the oven to 350 and bake about 15 minutes longer, or until edges of the tarts are golden brown. Cool a little before you remove from the pans. Makes 48.

Tarts right out of the oven

Cherry Almond Sorbet

Cherry Almond Sorbet

I love all sorts of sorbets. I make them all year long, but seem to make more when summer arrives. The basic recipe is simple –  just pureed fruit, some sweetener and usually, some flavoring or herb, to add interest. They are so light and refreshing. The perfect dessert for summer.

I picked up fresh cherries at the market, so I decided to make cherry sorbet with some of them.

Fresh cherries are one of my favorite fruits of all time. I love both sweet and sour cherries. For the sorbet, I just pitted a pound of sweet cherries, added sugar and some lemon juice. It needed a little something more- so I added almond extract. Really worked well with the cherries. You could easily use sour cherries in this recipe. You might want to add just a little more sugar. This sorbet would also be wonderful with a little vanilla added, or perhaps some fresh mint or basil.

So here is the recipe. Simple and sweet.

Cherry Almond Sorbet

1 lb. cherries, pitted

3/4 c. sugar, or to taste*

3 T. lemon juice – it helps the cherries retain their color

1 t. almond extract

Place cherries in blender or food processor, with the sugar and extract. Blend until smooth. Adjust sweetener to suit your taste. Place in a container with a lid and freeze. Once mixture is frozen, remove from the freezer, break into chunks and place in food processor. Process until mixture looks creamy and smooth. You might have to do this in batches, depending on the size of your food processor. Eat or return to freezer until ready to use. Makes just over a quart of sorbet.

*Feel free to use other sweeteners you like in place of the sugar. Honey or maple syrup would both work nicely.

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