The Best Key Lime Pie

Ok, so in all seriousness, I have never made a key lime pie before. I know, I know, so how can I call this “the best?” Well because for me it is, and three other people agreed, pretty sure that’s claim to fame…pie fame.

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Sometime during one of our long car rides Shane mentioned that he has never had Key lime pie before. Perfect excuse to make it…right?

Dinner with friends showed up on the calendar, I knew exactly what dessert I was going to bring. The key lime pie I have never made. So, after a few searches on Pinterest and then making sure my few favorite cooking sites agreed, I went for it.

It really is a simple dish to make, that is if you have the necessary tools: needed lime juicer    (the last thing you want to do is hand squeeze a fricken pound of tiny limes)

Graham Cracker Crust

1 tablespoons Butter, melted
11 full Graham Crackers
¼ cup Sugar
¼ teaspoon salt

Pie Filling
2 tablespoon key lime zest ( 1 TBS reserve for garnish)
3 Egg Yolks
1 can (14 ounces) Sweetened and Condensed Milk
¾ cup Key Lime Juice (from approximately 1 pound of key limes)

Whipped Cream
1 cup Heavy Cream
1½ tablespoons Sugar

Preheat oven to 350ºF  Graham Cracker Crust:
Make graham cracker crumbs in food processor.
Put butter in a med-large mixing bowl and mix in graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and salt until combined.
Put mixture into a 9-inch pie dish and pat it down with your fingers to make the crust. Bring the crust up the edges as well.
Bake for 10 minutes or until very lightly browned.
Allow to cool while preparing pie filling.

For Pie Filling
Whip 1 tablespoon lime zest (reserving 1/2 TBS for garnish) egg yolks in a large mixing bowl for 2 minutes or until thickened.
Add sweetened and condensed milk and mix for 3 minutes or until thickened.
Add lime juice and mix until combined.
Pour mixture into pie crust.
Place in oven for 15 minutes.

Pie will rise slightly but the filling won’t change color.
Allow to cool for ½ hour at room temperature before cooling completely in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Top with whipped cream and enjoy!

 

Farro, Watermelon, Tomato and Feta Salad

A few weeks back we had a very nice lunch in Little Italy. Aside from a couple of delicious pies we also ordered a farro, watermelon, tomato and feta salad with mint and arugula. It was AHmazing. I have been thinking about that salad ever since. I almost made it for Thanksgiving but wasn’t sure that was the best audience to try it out on. Safely back in my own kitchen, I set to work.

In all actuality it’s a fairly easy recipe. If you make the farro ahead of time then you shave 20 minutes off of your prep work. The end result is the perfect combination of sweet, salty, chewy, and a tad spicy, but the punch of mint is the real winner.

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1 cup whole grain  farro
2 cups medium dice heirloom tomatoes
2 cups medium dice watermelon
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
2 cups baby arugula
6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled                                                                                                                             3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat, stir in farro, reduce heat to medium and simmer until farro is al dente, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, drain then spread onto a rimmed baking sheet to cool.

While the grains are cooling, make the rest of the salad. Combine tomatoes, watermelon, 1 tablespoons of the olive oil, a pinch of salt, and some freshly ground black pepper, stir then set aside until flavor is intensified, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Combine remaining olive oil and vinegar in a small jar, close, and shake until well combined. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper then mix with the cooled farro.

When tomato-watermelon mixture is ready, drain off any juices and add the mint then stir the mixture into the farro, add the arugula and feta and stir through. Serve immediately.

*recipe adapted from Aida Mollenkamps Salt & Wind

Thanksgiving and Homebound

We had a very nice and low key holiday. I don’t know why I say “low key” because there were 17 of us but since the kids were so entertained it felt, well calm.

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The girls had so much fun with their cousins, it’s too bad we don’t live closer.

No one went hungry. We had Brie en croute and plenty of snacks,  ham, turkey, all the side dishes and a plethora of desserts which I couldn’t even manage to eat until late that night.

I didn’t take any food pictures which is very odd and I have no excuses.

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We  woke up way too early the next morning to hit the road, home bound. We drove from 6:00 in the morning until 6:00 at night, went through five states and saw much of nothing but the girls did amazingly well considering. A good book doesn’t hurt either.

imageWe stopped for the night in Bishop, Ca. Luckily there was a Holiday Inn express with one room left that suited our needs. Once we were checked in we headed to a small Italian place for a decent pizza and then to bed so we could do it all over again But since we went so far the first day, the second day was much shorter. We pulled into San Diego by lunchtime.

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Wine About It

We spent most of the day wandering from winery to winery. Downtown Walla Walla is basically one after the other, the only problem  is deciding which ones to skip. You could easily wine taste for days just downtown.

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We started the trip with a list of wineries we haven’t been to so we could try some new wines.  Some were great, some too expensive and a few just amazing.

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K Vitners, also known as Charles Smith has  very good wine, especially their Syrah’s.

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We headed to the airport to try a few new ones and revisit an old favorite.

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Of course we had to pop into Sleight of Hands since we are members.

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And luckily two of the wineries we are always hoping to visit but are always closed were open.

Va Piano was a great experience. Not only did they have playmates for the girls,

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we met the winemaker. He gave us a taste of his Rose out of the barrel and although it wont be ready for months is was already delicious, all of his wines were five star.

We got to visit the cellar and witness the aftermath of a wedding proposal.

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Hard to follow that but we still tried. Dusted Valley had some above decent wines and a large lot for the girls to run around.

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We have done some pretty good damage in the wine department.

On the Road Again

I pulled Kaili out of school a tad early so we could hit the road, destination Walla Walla.  The girls did good, better than I expected to be honest. After a pretty decent dinner in Stockton, we finished up the days drive in Dixon, a town outside of Sacramento. It was 8:30 p.m by the time we were all ready for bed and the girls crashed without a peep.

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Dinner at Harvest Moon, Stockton, Ca.

After a quick hotel breakfast we were back on the road again by 8:00 a.m. It was a long day in the car and the weather wasn’t great. We saw Mount Shasta and a few beautiful rainbows but besides that our sights were set on Newport, Oregon.

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We hoped to get there while there was still daylight but by the time we checked in to our hotel and made it down to the bay front for dinner, it was pitch dark outside. Dinner was good, we have been wanting to try Mo’s for a long time, it was fun to check that box.

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Too cold and dark to walk around, so we went back to the room to get the girls and myself in bed. I fell asleep before 8:00 p.m.

Kaili woke up around 6:00 a.m so we had an early start to the day. With cheese and ice cream on the mind, we made our way to the Tillamook factory. Kaili seemed to enjoy watching the cheese packaging process and pretending to milk the fake cow. Averi was just enjoying being out of the car and neither of them seemed to care about the cheese. We were disappointed to find out the cafe was only serving breakfast since we had our minds set on grilled cheese, so we settled for ice cream instead.

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The only other stop we planned on before arriving in Walla Walla was Multnomah falls.  It was a perfect spot for a bathroom break and a stretch of the legs.

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On the third day and the final stretch  of the trip, Averi decided to give into a nap. It was bliss.

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We made our arrival into the town and conveniently drove by one of the wineries we are members of, so of course we had to stop.

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It’s good to be here and it’s good not having to get back into the car for another day of driving tomorrow. Maybe wine tasting downtown instead.

 

Pumpkin Patching

We managed to visit three different pumpkin patches this year. I don’t think this is something anyone needs to do, but the kids had fun.

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We took a day to check out the Ramona pumpkin patch. We also tried the famous cinnamon roll at the Ramona cafe…way overrated and then on to a few new wineries.

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Averi had her first ever pony ride, you can tell from her face that it was exhilarating.

We painted pumpkins before school and then met Kaili for her Halloween parade.

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After a mediocre dinner and a total meltdown from Averi, the girls were ready for some Trick or Treating.

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Momma lasted about an hour and a half and then I was ready to get the girls to bed.

I think we successfully nailed October this year!

 

 

Easy Homemade Gak recipe

Kaili likes to watch Creative Galaxy and after each episode her creativity is sparked. She comes out wanting to cook or create. I thought about how I used to make Gak with my students and how easy it was. How come I haven’t done this with her yet?

We walked to the drugstore to pick up some of the ingredients. Once the littler one was in bed, we set out to make some homemade Gak.

This comes together in five minutes, it’s too easy.

Ingredients 

4 oz. school glue

1/2 cup water + 1/4 cup HOT water

1/2 teaspoon Borax

Food coloring

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Mix glue and 1/2 cup water in small bowl or container and mix well.

Add in food coloring if using.

Dissolve the borax in 1/4 cup of hot water. Mix until it’s completely dissolved.

Pore the borax water into the glue mixture.

Stir the Gak and watch as it changes into a solid mass. Knead the Gak for a bit until it’s no longer sticky and wet.

Voila!

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It’s a great sensory activity. Mesmerizing.

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