Sunday, May 3, 2009

This is What Happens When I Get Creative

I made two things for the Cafe at church today. Neither of my initial plans for said recipes worked out the way that I intended. The first was a Key Lime pie, suggested by my sister-in -law, for the promotion of the Pie Making Contest that we will be having in a few weeks. The second was cucumber sandwiches. Both seem easy enough, right? Well they were until I got creative, and thought I could make them all cute and exciting. I tried to make a meringue to top the key lime pie with. I have never made a meringue, but have read several sets of instructions, so I thought, I, being the talented baker that I am, can easily pull this off. Wrong. My "meringue" was sad, flat, and ultimately ended up "wilting", or being separated from the pie by a layer of liquid. The pie itself is absolutely delicious, but there is no way that I can serve that to anyone other than my husband, and other people who I am confident know that I am a good baker. So, Tim is happy because he got a free pie out of the deal, and he could care less what it looks like. I ended up going to Tony's and buying a pie to serve at church. No one seemed to care that it wasn't home-made. I will share the pie recipe with you, because I do highly recommend it. I will make it again, probably without the meringue, until I have practiced enough.
The problem that I had with the cucumber sandwiches was that I wanted to make them with the Pampered Chef Cut and Seal. This did not work because the cucumbers were too thick, and the bread started tearing. So, I just decided to for-go the idea and make them like normal sandwiches. Not as cute, but they still almost all disappeared, and I kept hearing people say how good they were! I was bummed though because I have been desperately searching for a time/place to use this tool since my Mom gave it to me in December. My next attempt with these will be peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which I think will work well. I will keep you posted on that. I am also going to give you the "recipe" for these, if you can even call it that. It is so simple, but it is a great snack, super easy, and pretty healthy. It is something you should know how to do in case you need to make a simple appetizer or snack and don't have a ton of money or time to spend.

Key Lime Pie

14 OZ Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/2 C Key Lime Juice (I used fresh squeezed because every recipe that I consulted said that it is way better. It is a lot of work though, so if you want to do this quickly, you can use ready-made juice)
1 t Grated Lime Zest
2 Egg Yolks
1 Egg

Graham Cracker Crust
1 1/3 C Graham Cracker Crumbs
5 T Butter
You can use a pre-made crust if you want to. I bet no one would notice, I just have a guilt-complex about serving store-bought foods...

2 Egg Whites
4 T White Sugar

To make the crust, combine graham cracker crumbs with butter until evenly moistened.

Press into the bottom of a prepared Pie Pan, and bake in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. This is called baking blind. It makes it so that the crust does not get all soggy when you add the filling to it. Baking the crust by itself allows it to get more firm, and it holds together a lot better this way. You can eliminate this step if you really want to, and if you plan to serve it from the pan that you are baking it in, but I still would recommend it.

To Make the filling, combine sweetened condensed milk, lime juice, and zest in a medium bowl. Mix in egg yolks and whole egg. Pour over crust, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make the meringue, beat egg whites in a large glass or metal mixing bowl until foamy. Gradually add sugar and continue beating until whites for stiff peaks. Spread meringue over pie, covering completely.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Chill before serving.

Here is what happened to my meringue...

First of all, you can see that it looks nothing like meringue should is all flat and gross. It also cracked when I took the pan out of the oven. I was using a silicone pan., and it bent a little when I was getting it out, so that just made it look worse...
I think I failed to whip the eggs long enough, and supposedly the wilting of the meringue is due to un-dissolved sugar, which means that I did not add the sugar gradually enough. I have to keep practicing this technique, and Tim will probably have a lot of screwed-up pies to eat while I learn the process. If anyone has any tips on this, let me know!

Here is what my failed cucumber sandwiches looked like...

The bread got all ripped on top, oh well. Here is what I did instead:

I sliced my cucumbers pretty thick, because then you can use one per "sandwich" which is a lot easier than trying to layer the cucumbers. That can get pretty messy when you go to eat them because they are all slippery.

Spread Miracle Whip or Mayonaise on a slice of white bread. Layer 4 cucumbers on top of that.

Spread Miracle Whip/mayonaise on another piece of white bread and cover your cucumbers. Cut this sandwich into 4 individual sandwiches, and there you have it. Make as many as you want. Super easy, nutritious, and delicious! what else could you ask for?

All dressed up and ready for church.

I just thought this one was cute :-)

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