I have some friends who declare that they “don’t bake”. And I get that, not everyone enjoys baking but that doesn’t mean that they can’t enjoy homemade treats, specially not these days when ingredients that are normally baked can be bought inexpensively at most grocery stores.
You can buy things like pie and tart shells, puff pastry and bread dough inexpensively and they sure cut your baking time almost in half. At times it’s more cost effective to buy these things frozen than it is to make them from scratch. Not only that they actually taste good! And of course you don’t have to tell anyone that the pie crust was frozen; let them think you made it from scratch!
So for those of you who love desserts but don’t like to bake here’s a super easy Strawberry Cream Pie! You can actually use any fruit, yes even canned pie filling, for this pie, but I love strawberries and these days you can pretty much get fresh strawberries year round.
Strawberry Cream Pie
1 Graham Cracker Pie Crust
1 Pkg. Whipped Cream Cheese
1/2 Tsp. Vanilla
1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 Pkg. Cool Whip
1 Basket Fresh Strawberries cleaned and hulled
3/4 Cup Juice any type
1/4 Cup Sugar
2 Tbs. Cornstarch
2 Tbs. Corn Syrup
Beat cream cheese in mixer until smooth.
Add vanilla and powdered sugar.
Fold in Cool Whip.
Pour into pie crust and smooth top.
Chill in refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
Meanwhile dissolve corn starch into 1/4 cup of juice.
In small saucepan whisk together remaining juice and sugar.
Cook over low heat to boiling.
Stir in dissolved corn starch and cook until thickened.
Remove from heat and stir in corn syrup.
Set aside to cool.
Once pie filling is set and chilled arrange strawberries on top.
Gently pour thickened glaze over strawberries.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.
What is a Pavlova? It’s a sweet cloud of deliciousness! Actually it’s a meringue based dessert that’s named after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. It’s lightly crispy on the outside and light and marshmallowy on the inside. It’s usually served topped with fruit and cream.
Pavlovas can be a cake like dessert or they can be individual shells filled with cream that’s topped with fresh or preserved fruits. I love meringues and Pavlovas are one of my favorites. It’s one of the desserts I always choose when we’re on a cruise.
Most folks think Pavlovas are for company desserts, yes, they’re that impressive. But really Pavlovas a pretty easy to make. I usually make them after I’ve made my grandmother’s flan which uses up a lot of egg yolks. Pavlovas handily use the remaining egg whites. Other than egg whites all you need is sugar, preferably caster or baker’s sugar (it’s super fine sugar that is between regular sugar and powdered sugar), cream or tartar, cornstarch, and vanilla. You probably have all those things already. (If you don’t have caster sugar you can either pick some up at the grocery store’s baking aisle or place regular granulated sugar in your blender and pulse until the crystals turn into a fine grains, sort of like sand, but not powdery.)
You’ll also want to use your standing mixer with a whisk attachment. You can also use a hand held mixer. You’ll need parchment paper to line your baking sheets, and a piping tip and bag if you have one. Otherwise you can spoon the meringue onto the parchment paper for baking.
For my Strawberries and Cream Pavlovas I make individual shells that I fill with the mascarpone cream I make and top with Riesling Marinated Strawberries. Click here for the Riesling Marinated Strawberries recipe!
Here’s how to make these delicious Pavlovas. Your family and friends will be impressed!
4 Egg Whites
1 Cup Caster Sugar
1/2 Tsp. Cream of Tartar
1 1/2 Tsp. Cornstarch
2 Tsp. Vanilla
8 Oz. Container of Mascarpone Cheese
1 Cup Cold Heavy Whipping Cream
1/4 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 Tsp. Vanilla
Preheat oven to 320 degrees.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form.
Gradually add caster sugar and cream of tartar. Continue beating at high speed.
Add cornstarch and vanilla. Beat until stiff peaks form.
Pipe or spoon meringue on to the parchment paper. If piping start with a small circle for the base then pipe coils of meringue on top of it. If spooning meringue drop them on the sheet and use the back of the spoon to make a shallow indentation in the middle. (I usually drop meringue Kisses with any leftover meringue. I use them to top the strawberries)
Place on sheet in the oven and IMMEDIATELY lower temperature to 245 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes. Lower temperature to 200 degrees and back until the meringue is dry to the touch. Touch carefully as they are fragile.
Turn off the oven and open door halfway. Leave meringues inside to cool down to prevent them from cracking.
Meanwhile whip mascarpone, whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla together until fluffy. Refrigerate until ready to use.
When meringues are cooled fill the wells of each meringue with cold cream mixture. Top with Riesling Marinated Strawberries. If you have a meringue kiss place one on top to decorate the pavlova, you can also add a fresh mint leaf if you like.
Strawberries & Cream Pavlovas
Fried Chicken is a favorite dish in most familys. Its tender and juicy on the inside and has that perfect satisfying crunch on the outside. What’s not to love?
Most folks picture KFC like chicken or Southern Fried Chicken (that’s delicious by the way) when they think of fried chicken. Of course Southern Fried Chicken served with homemade mashed potatoes, thick gravy, and melt in your mouth biscuits are delicious, but there are other equally delicious versions of fried chicken.
One of my favorites is Mochiko Chicken or Japanese Fried Chicken. It’s battered with Sweet Rice Flour giving it a bit of sweetness along with a nice crunch on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. Served with steamed white rice and Stir Fried Baby Bok Choy it makes a nice healthy meal.
This dish is marinated in the refrigerator overnight, that’s what makes it so tasty and gives it a nice crunch.
4 Lbs. Boneless Skinless Chicken thighs cut into thirds
2/3 Cup Cornstarch
1/3 Cup Mochiko Flour
1/3 Cup Soy Sauce
2 Tbs. Oyster Sauce
1 Tsp. Sesame Oil
1 Tbs. Garlic Minced
1/4 Cup Chopped Green Onions
Oil for frying
Sesame Seeds and chopped Green Onion for garnish
Combine all ingredients expect garnish and oil for frying into a large ziplock bag. Batter will be thick, it will thin overnight.
Shake bag to coat all chicken pieces.
When you are ready to fry you will find that the marinade has thinned and possibly separated. Shake to recombine marinade and coat chicken.
Heat oil and fry each piece until chicken is cooked and batter is golden brown and crisp.
Drain on paper towel.
Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onion.
Serve with hot rice and vegetables of your choice.
Mochiko Chicken - Japanese Fried Chicken
Mochiko Chicken - Japanese Fried Chicken
Ukoy or Shrimp Fritters is a popular Filipino street food. There are different types of fillers for this deep fried fritter but the common ingredient is shrimp; unless you want to make it vegan and just have veggies.
Ukoy can be made using grated squash, sweet potatoes, yucca, green papaya, carrots or just bean sprouts, my personal favorite.
Ukoy as I mentioned is a popular street food which can be eaten on the run, but it can be served as a side dish or as I do the main course with rice and a vinegar dipping sauce.
I’ve been trying to make Ukoy the way my Lola, grandma, used to make. Hers always had the perfect texture and the right crunch. She made it with fresh tofu, bean sprouts, and medium sized shrimp. Talk about yummy!
After many fails, I mean trials, I finally figured out where I’ve been going wrong. It was my batter! For reasons I can’t explain I’ve been using egg in my batter, possibly because egg is something that I put in all my batters. But that batter is always thicker and heavier. And the end result was more like a fluffy pancake, not crunchy at all.
Well the simplest solution was no egg batter! Don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner! Once I omitted the egg my Ukoy turned out perfect. Literally just like Lola’s Ukoy was!
Here’s the recipe!
Ukoy Na Togue - Shrimp & Bean Sprout Fritter
In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, garlic powder, salt, and water. Mix until well blended and all powders have dissolved.
Add shrimp, bean sprouts, tofu, green onions, and garlic to the batter. Coat well.
Heat about 1 1/2” of oil in frying pan.
Drop 2 tbs of batter mixture into hot oil. Flatten with back of spoon to form patties.
Fry about 4-5 minutes then flip to fry other side.
Fry another 4-5 minutes or until both sides are golden brown and crisp.
Mix dipping sauce to taste.
Serve hot with white rice and dipping sauce. Or serve as a snack.