- Select your Pineapple.
- Cut off the top (or remember, twist out the top, but you’ll still have to slice off the top….) and bottom.
- Use a knife to trim off the rind.
- Slice the Pineapple in half.
- Then in quarters.
- Trim out the core.
- Divide each quarter in to 2-3 strips, then dice into smaller bite sized pieces.
Have you ever been faced with the daunting task of finding the best pineapple in the store? Never fear! About 6 years ago Mark and I went to Hawaii on our 1 year marriage anniversary. One of our trips was to the Dole Pineapple Plantation. We got to see where they grew pineapples, we watched them cut up a pineapple, plus the lady even gave us tips that I’d like to share with you today. Don’t worry, I know it was 6 years ago, but I take notes. Must be that studious part of me… Feel sorry for me or jump for joy that I can still share information with you… your choice!
4 Tips for Pineapple Selection
- Smell – you don’t want a pineapple to have a real strong “pineapple” smell. The more smell you get, the more the fruit is actually fermenting, and getting closer to being bad.
- The “circles” on the outside of the Pineapple are called eyes. You want your eyes to be relatively the same in size and shape. This means that the Pineapple is ripe.
- Don’t pay attention to color. Color is not a factor in how ripe a Pineapple is. All the color does is show how much sunlight the pineapple received during the growing process.
- You don’t need to cut the top off a pineapple. If a Pineapple is ripe, just twist and pull up and the top will come out of a pineapple. Now the really cool thing is you can allow it to dry for a couple days and then place in water. Then you’ll create your pineapple plant. Just keep the temperature range between 70 and 90 degrees year round and you should be able to produce about 3 pineapple’s per pineapple plant.
What is the best Pie Crust recipe without a good pie to go in it? Earlier this month I shared with you a recipe for PW’s Flat Apple Pie (also known as a Galette as we found out) and that was the pie crust I used for that. Really though, my favorite Pie when it comes to fruit pies is a Cherry Pie. YUM!
While you can buy cherry pie filling in the can, it’s almost just as easy to make your own. Now once upon a time I had a cherry tree in my yard. Boy I miss that cherry tree. The thing with Cherry trees is really the only time of year they give off cherries is late May early June depending on the weather. You also have to be especially quick so the dumb birds don’t eat all your fruit! The off time of year, where in the world do you find the tart cherries (or sour cherries as I like to call them)?
When I went to Walmart, because as you may or may not know I live in one of those small towns in a flyover state where all we really have is Walmart, all they had were the big sweet cherries. They are okay to make a Cherry pie with, except you just cut down on the sugar added. But truthfully the tart cherries are the better tasting cherries in a cherry pie.
Finally I went to Reasor’s in Tulsa one one of my trips there and they had the tart cherries in bags. I may or may not have stocked up on them. Then once I came back home, I went to Food for Less and they have them too. <insert Happy Dance 💃> With that being said, all you need to make your own cherry pie filling is the cherries, water, sugar, and cornstarch. Yes, it is easy to open up a can, but it tastes so much better when it is homemade! And it is truthfully just as easy!
If you’ve noticed, usually a cherry pie has the lattice work on top. In the past, Mark and I have placed each piece right there on top of the pie, but the other day we decided to do the lattice work on a piece of parchment paper, place it in the freezer for about 15 minutes, and then transfer it over to the pie. Do you hear those angels singing? OMG, that made all the difference in the world and it was super simple! Yey!
Last year I made a giant chocolate chip cookie in a cast iron pan that went for $130. I felt the pressure to try again to outdo myself. This year it didn’t just rain but it poured! We had flooding and almost had to emergency evac due to rivers flooding and everything else. I’m pleased to announce that we were all okay and even with the horrible weather we had a great turn out. Numbers were down but you always have good and bad years.
Anyway back to this Cherry pie… I placed it in a Cast Iron Pie Plate that my friend Tracy introduced me to last fall. This particular pie brought $50. Okay okay, so not as good as last year but I’ll definitely take it!
Here was my finished pie that went into the auction. Really, the real winners are the kids who benefit at the CP Center from the Trails for Kids trail ride and all the other fundraisers and activities throughout the year.
So my Cherry pie………
- 3 cups pitted cherries
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- approximately 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 Cup cornstarch matched with just enough water to make a slurry
1. Combine fruit and sugar in a pan and stir together. If cherries are soft and mushy, you won’t need additional water, but if cherries are firm, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil.
2. Mix cornstarch with some cold water (about 3 tablespoons of cold water with 1/4 c cornstarch making a slurry), whisking to remove lumps.
3. When cherries are boiling, add cornstarch slurry mixture while stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Add enough thickening agent to make the consistency you desire. We like our pies fairly thick. Stir until the juices are clear. When the filling looks clear, it’s fully cooked. Over-cooking will start to break down the filling. If you want your pie to be more of a red color, add a couple drops of food coloring (optional; I never do this.)
4. Pour into pie crusts and bake pies at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes or until browned.
*You can use sour or sweet cherries for this recipe, but you will need to adjust the sugar if using sweet cherries. I would use about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of sugar for sweet cherries.
**Cornstarch thickens, and will continue to become thicker as your mixture cools. Do not make it as thick when hot as you would like it to be when it has cooled, or it will be too thick.
Over the weekend we decided to have a cake decorating day. Back in 2008 (or maybe 2007… I don’t remember) I didn’t have much better to do and really wanted to learn how to decorate cakes. It’s ironic because I’m not a huge icing fan… I prefer the cake without icing… Go figure.
So they wanted to put my knowledge to work over the weekend and I was willing to oblige. Kristi’s dad was having an 80th birthday celebration the next day so we decided to decorate a cake for him. Tracy has a 1st birthday cake in a few days, weeks, months… she never really told me that she’ll be doing. Deb wanted to learn too, so it was the perfect opportunity to mess up someone else’s kitchen because why mess up your own kitchen. Just saying 😜.
So when you make up icing, or this particular icing anyway, it starts out as thick icing. Then you thin it out with either water or milk to the consistency you want. Typically you add a tbsp of your liquid at a time until you get the desired consistency. There are really 3 types of consistencies that you look for in cake decorating, thick, medium, and thin and each has their place in the course of decorating a cake.
One thing to consider, thick icing requires the most strength to push out of the bag and you’re more likely to blow the tip out of the end of the bag. Just something to note. In my opinion the two hardest things to learn about cake decorating is how to get a smooth finish on your cake and learning the correct consistencies.
Note that when you see cakes in magazines, they’re covered with buttercream and then fondant so that’s how they get that clean look. You can get that clean look with buttercream but it’s difficult. A trick to help you is once you have your icing on the cake, take a long flat spatula (like 11″ or so depending on the size of the cake) and dip it in as hot of water as you can. The hot water will help smooth. And usually the more icing you have on the outside of the cake, the easier it is sometimes too, reason being, you have more to slick off.
Now some people do a crumb coat. You can do that with buttercream or you can do it with a mixture of water to powdered sugar. You just smear that all over the cake and then it should help hold the crumbs in. I rarely if ever do a crumb coat. It’s a lot of work and as long as you always keep pushing the icing from top down, you shouldn’t get to many crumbs in your icing. And if you do, cover it with more icing. Obviously to each their own 😀.
My opinion on fondant, while it looks gorgeous, it doesn’t taste so good. I mainly just used store bought, the homemade does taste better but it’s a LOT of work. One of those labor of love things.
Now for writing… if you’ll notice I wrote all over my hand and arm. It’s a good practice tool, it really is. That and just wax paper on the table. It’s easier to practice there than on a cake where it really matters. Once you get the hang of it, which isn’t difficult, then you can write on the cake like a pro. Our teacher always had us write on our hand for practice. (btw, my dogs name is Marlie and I always say, “Oh my stars Miss Mars” I started with the y on my hand because I put the stars down the bottom showing an idea for the cake above. Then I added the M. After that I saw my stars and added Miss Mars, therefore it says My Stars Miss Mars.)
Then we’re huge Chiefs fans around here and our boys were in the Playoffs so I had to do one in honor of them, obviously.
Handy tools to have for cake decorating:
- All the ingredients for icing, obviously
- Decorating tips
- A rose nail if you plan on making any kind of flowers
- Cake (again obviously…. haha)
- A short off set spatula
- A large long spatula
- A hot, tall glass of water
- A knife to flatten off your cake
- Gel food coloring (better to color with those than liquid)
- Piping bags (I’m really starting to like the disposable ones best)
- Couplers (allow you to change tips easily)
- A pair of scissors to cut the piping bags for your tips
So what recipe do I use? It actually came in the canister of Meringue powder. Btw, do you know what Meringue Powder is? Well, Meringue Powder is a fine white powder made primarily from dried egg whites, with cornstarch to keep it from clumping while stored and some food gums to help it bind together easily when it is being used. The powder can be reconstituted with water and forms up into a nice, fluffy meringue when beaten at a high speed.
Now for the recipe, keep in mind, this makes 7 cups of icing. It has a nice consistency for decorating cakes. It is my go to icing and I’ve tried quite a few.
7-Cup Batch Buttercream Icing Recipe
2/3 Cup Cold Water
4 tbsp Meringue Powder (1/4 cup)
12 c or 3# Confectioners Sugar
1 1/4 cups solid vegetable shortening
3/4 tsp salt
Up to 1 tsp Flavoring
Mix water + salt in a mixer to dissolve salt. Add meringue powder. Add flavoring.
- White icing – use white flavoring
- Candy flavoring by the drop
- Almond – no more than 1/4 tsp
Next add 2 # of the powdered sugar. (easiest way is to weigh it out on scales). Add shortening 1/2 cup at a time, mixing completely. After all shortening is added add the last 1# of powdered sugar, a little at a time.
This gives you about 7 cups of icing at a stiff consistency.
You want to Ice a cake with thin consistency so thin out with a couple tsp of water (or milk) added one at a time until you get desired consistency.
- Stiff – some decorations and for making a barrier between the two layer of cakes (one of the best ways is with icing and coupler, no tip) where you can add a combination of:
- Plain Icing
- Icing/Pudding (pudding cup good for regular sized cake)
- Medium – piping decorations and writing
- Thin – covering your cake
The other day my friend Jared asked if I knew how to make No Bake Cookies. That’s another one of those easy things that I’ve never really tried. That might be a partial lie… I tried one time but I was like 20… now I’m 33 (I think, I can’t ever remember my age, just my birthday).
A while back a girl I went to high school with posted pictures of No Bakes on Facebook and someone asked for the recipe. She said they were extremely easy and shared her recipe which I quickly snatched up. Then I forgot where I put it.
When Jared asked, I went on the hunt for that recipe. After about 10 minutes of searching my laptop and external drive (which won’t open now but that’s another story for another day) I finally found the recipe so I went into the kitchen and made some. Oh boy am I glad I did! They are awesome!!
I grabbed a pan and went to town. Now at the time I was at Deb and Grady’s and they drink 1% milk so that’s what I used. Let me tell you, you couldn’t tell a difference, they were that good!
The longest part was waiting for the butter to melt… seriously. But once it melted they zoomed right along.
Bring to a boil. I’ll tell you the minute it started to boil, I set a time for 3 minutes. By the 2 minute mark it hit the full rolling boil so it worked out perfectly. I made them the next day and ran down stairs to the basement for a minute. When I came back up it was at a medium boil so the 2 minutes was fine.
Deb said there are 2 hints you need to take into account (remember I really hadn’t made these before)
- Use either stick butter or oleo. If you use the soft stuff in the tub it won’t work. But as long as it is stick, it should work
- Let it come to a boil. For some reason if you don’t they don’t set up or something. I don’t know, I let it come to a boil.
Once it has been 2 minutes you remove it from the heat, add the vanilla, oats, and peanut butter. I’m not a huge fan of peanut butter so this was a good amount for me truthfully. In fact, some of them asked if there was even butter in there. Yes, yes there is. 1 cup in fact. I think peanut butter really is only good on toast or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. sad but true.
Then you just plop them into piles and let them cool. That’s the toughest part… waiting for them to cool!
Pretty much the minute they are cool, they are ready to eat. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. They were so good I made another batch the next day, but shhhhh don’t tell my diet that!
And that my friends is a No Bake Cookie. Yum! I still heard it is in bad taste to say yum but when it is so good, how can you resist?
After I ate these, I may have been on a little bit of a sugar high and bounced to the door to greet a friend. I may or may not have scared this person too… I hope not! This friend shall remain nameless in case I scared them, you know to protect their identity 😁.
Hello, happy Foodie Friday. I mentioned last week that my daughter’s birthday was in June and we did a Minnie Mouse theme. I made cake as well as cupcakes and cookies. The cupcakes and cookies were for one birthday party (at the lake, cupcakes make for easy transport and distribution) and the cake was for her other birthday party (with family at home).
I wrote this blogpost a month ago for a guest blogpost on a website. They didn’t use it, they didn’t tell me they weren’t going to… so I’m posting it here since I did spend quite a bit of time writing it :). Hopefully you enjoy and maybe find a little useful information to boot!
Today is the first day of Fall. Does anyone think this year went by in a whirlwind? Wow! I can’t believe it but before we know, it’ll be Halloween, then Thanksgiving, and then Winter which means Christmas. Let’s throw in a couple birthdays in that mix and a couple anniversaries and Bam, the year will come to New Years Eve and an end. We’ll be at 2017. Wow!
And this has been quite the interesting year for my family and me. But let’s not focus on that today. Instead, I’d like to offer up 10 Fall Cleaning Ideas to help make your transition into the Fall Season a little easier!
1. I hear winter is going to be tough this year, so you might want to Tighten/Secure the hatches! Make sure to look for gaps or seals in and around your doors and windows as well as just make sure you don’t have any gaps in your foundation, etc. If you do, use some caulk or weatherstripping to fix or else call a professional to come make sure your house is in tip top shape!
2. Clean that chimney. Your Chimney has sat vacant all summer… or so you think. If you don’t have a cap on the top, a bird could very easily have gotten in there to create a home. Or better yet, you might find that there is a crack in the fireplace or chimney. My parents had that unfortunate incident happen and we had to get it fixed before they were able to use their fireplace. Better to be safe than sorry!
3. For once put your mind to the gutter… as in Clean out the gutters. Make sure to clean all the leaves and gunk out of the gutters. If you’re feeling real ambitious you can put mesh covers over the gutters to prevent having to do this in the future.
4. Check for Damage to your rooftop. Remember, just around the corner Santa will be bringing in his sleigh and reindeer. Make sure he has a safe landing space. Also, you don’t want a minor problem on the roof to become a major problem!
5. Drain, unplug, remove water from ponds, bird baths, bird feeders, etc. And your water hose, especially if your water hose drains back into your house to keep the hydrant from freezing, because you’ll actually break pipes.
6. [In my Joey Gladstone’s best voice] Cut it out. Meaning, take that lawnmower for one last spin before placing it in the garage for the winter. Also take extra care of that lawnmower and winterize it! Hopefully by this point you’ll be done mowing the grass for the year.
7. Clean the furnace. Especially if this is your only source of heat for your house, but even if it is secondary. You want it to be up and running efficiently, especially with below frigid temperatures coming soon!
8. Steam Time. Check the humidifiers. With the drier air, make sure your humidifier is working properly. Your nose will thank you! Make sure to remove any hard water deposits from your humidifier.
9. Rake and destroy leaves. It’s time to start thinking about raking those leaves up. Make sure you let the family play in them and they’re a great opportunity for pictures, so don’t forget the camera!
10. Check batteries. Setting yourself a reminder to check batteries in smoke detectors and CO2 monitors twice a year is a good thing. One time to do it is Spring and Fall. Why not. Hey, if you want, check them 4 times per year. Better to be safe than sorry. Also check the batteries in your vehicles with the upcoming winter and flashlights. Flashlights are necessary if freak ice storms take out your power for a week… been there done that.
So what other tips am I missing?
1. A day in the life post – These are always fun because it allows people to get a feel for your day.
2. What’s in your Camera Bag – Sometimes this is helpful for other people. It allows them to get ideas for their own bag, especially if they are newer to photography.
3. What camera you use – I always love these. It allows me to see what other people use and I’m nosey like that. I devour camera reviews.
4. Speaking of Camera bag – What camera bag do you have and what features do you like?
5. Start a 365 project – It is time consuming but oh so worth it. I’m about to wrap up my second year of doing this. Yup, 2 years now. I think I’m going for a 3rd, but changing it up a bit. Either focusing solely on photos from my dSLR or maybe Black and White Photos. I haven’t decided yet.
6. Show some behind the scenes in setting up a picture – Not everyone knows what goes on behind the scenes of a photoshoot.
7. Tell people your photography story – Not everyone was born with a camera in hand… maybe some were and that’s okay. We all have our own story, so share yours!
8. Favorite Photography books you read – Photography is an ever evolving hobby/profession. Help people continue their learning!
9. Share that “ah-ha” moment, that time when something finally clicked – for me, that would be that moment I figured out Manual Mode.
10. Not all photos come straight out of camera perfect. Show people how you edit photos.
11. Share those before and after photos – You know, the straight out of camera versus edited photos.
12. Share before and after shots… wait, didn’t I already say that? I’m talking either before and after dSLR photos or maybe your photos from a few years ago and then photos after training, etc. I looked at photos I took in 2009 and cringed.
13. Share a photography struggle – Someone might have a tip to help you overcome this struggle.
14. Share tips on how to complete a 365 project – Like I said, this is time committing but I know how to do it as I’m about to finish my second project. Share tips to help others succeed.
15. What inspires you and your photography?
16. Tell us about where you’d like to see your photography in 5 years.
17. We all have specialties in photographing, share yours and give tips!
18. What is the best piece of photography equipment you purchased?
19. What do you wish you’d never purchased?
20. Do a Self-Portrait session – Because as the photographer, you’re usually behind the camera, not in front of it. You need to be in pictures too!