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Tag Archives: cooking with kids

Tropical Chia Green Smoothies

It’s been pointed out to me, that my own enthusiasm for holiday celebrations, may explain the intense energy my 5-year-old, Liam, puts into planning how we’ll honor each special day. We are two peas in a pod when it comes to festive occasions. Heck, we’re already co-planning the Temple Run themed birthday party we’ll throw in May, complete with a costumed gorilla to chase the party guests through the obstacle course we will assemble in the backyard. My husband is skeptical about the logistics involved in carrying out this event, but Liam and I have got it covered.

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As Valentine’s Day approached, Liam easily slipped into holiday planning mode. For weeks, I heard about the special Valentine’s Day he was planning for me. It was to be a spa day, as imagined by a 5-year-old, pieced together with ideas he’d gleaned from watching episodes of Phineas and Ferb or Spongebob. I was given a list of the supplies to acquire for this special day: bubblegum scented bubble bath, ‘some kind of soap’ for my face (a face mask), cucumber slices, candy, and bubbly water. Then I eagerly waited for Valentine’s Day and the one hundred arm massages I’d been promised as part of this luxurious spa package.

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But then I received the phone call from the school nurse. My sweet, little valentine was running a fever and needed to be picked up from school. After a bit of rest at home, I decided to turn his little spa idea around on him. It just seemed like he needed the extra attention more than I did. The boys enjoyed the funny face masks and cool cucumber eyes and they laughed their bubble-bearded faces to near tears in the over-filled bathtub. I poured cool glasses of cucumber water for the boys to sip while they enjoyed the soothing effects of the face masks, but none of the boys would drink what they perceived to be ‘pickle water’.

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After soothing face masks, ‘pickle water’, and bubble baths, we enjoyed some delicious tropical green smoothies. Inspiration for these smoothies came to me while watching a food documentary I ran across on Netflix, Hungry for Change. For the most part, the film spoke to what most of us already know; whole foods are good for you, processed foods are not. Eat lots of fresh, unprocessed fruits and vegetables and you’ll feel better, look younger, and have glowing skin. (They talked a lot about skin.) At one point, the filmed focused so heavily on juicing that I started to suspect I’d been tricked into watching an 89-minute long informercial for a juicing machine. But all-in-all, it was a decent film which drove home some important points about healthy eating.

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Above all, to me, the most interesting segment had to do with foods that have the ability to reset and detoxify our bodies, so that they function more efficiently and effectively. Leafy green vegetables and gelatinous plant foods, such as chia seeds, were given the biggest focus. After doing a bit of research into chia seeds and discovering their many potential health benefits, I made the decision to incorporate them into my diet, starting with these delicious and nutrient dense smoothies. These vibrant smoothies start with fresh tropical fruit and a big handful of baby spinach. Protein-rich greek yogurt, omega-3 and fiber-rich chia seeds, and natural, sweet honey complete the mix to form a nutritional powerhouse smoothie you can feel great about enjoying.

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Today’s Focus on Technique – Making Smoothies with Frozen Fruit

Keeping a stash of fresh fruit pieces in your freezer makes smoothie-making a breeze. Most fruit contains enough water content to give your smoothies that icy texture, without actually adding any ice. (Banana smoothies usually require some ice.) Clean, peel, and chop your favorite fruits, then freeze them in large ziploc bags or airtight containers. For extra convenience, consider buying the bags of pre-cut, no-sugar-added frozen fruit, which can be found in the freezer section of your grocery store.

Tropical Chia Green Smoothie

Ingredients*

  • 1 6-ounce container plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup pineapple, cut into cubes and frozen
  • 1 cup mango, cut into cubes and frozen
  • 1 cup kiwi, cut and frozen
  • 1 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (or milk)
  • 3 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey

*All ingredient measurements are approximate.

Directions

Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend until well combined. Taste and adjust sweetness with additional honey, if desired.

Makes 2 generous smoothies

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Candy Corn Krispie Pops

I had the coolest adventure this past weekend, at an event hosted by the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council in upstate NY. I pet a baby cow. I drank wine. I ate cheese. Mmmmcheese. I’m in the process of organizing my thoughts so I can tell you all about it. I’ll even be hosting my first ever giveaway in conjunction with this dairy adventure!! I’m really pretty excited about it all!

In the mean time, I wanted to share this straightforward and adorable idea for a fun Halloween treat. These candy corn krispie pops almost never happened, as a series of wild events ensued in their making, beginning with the microwave dramatically giving up the ghost in a plume of stinky gray smoke as I was trying to melt the candy for coating these pops. That was just the beginning. I won’t go into the rest.

Suffice it to say, my life set a series of obstacles between starting and finishing these sweet pops. My end result lacks a bit of the finesse they may have had if I weren’t simultaneously jumping hurdles as I made them. But they’re too darn cute not to share. Yours will look nicer than mine!

Line a small baking sheet or baking dish with wax paper or parchment paper. Prepare rice krispie treats by melting 3 tablespoons butter and 4 cups of mini marshmallows in a large pan over low heat, stirring until melted. Turn off the heat, then stir in 6 cups of rice krispies cereal. Press the mixture into the baking dish in an even layer.

Once cool, cut the rice krispie treats into triangles. You can make them any size you wish, but smaller is easier to dip.

Try not to eat them all…yet.

Insert lollipop sticks into the bottom of the triangles. Cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour or two.

Melt about 3 cups of yellow candy melts in a double boiler or in the microwave until smooth. Dip the entire pops in the yellow candy melts. Cool until hardened. Then, melt about 2 cups of orange candy melts and dip the top 2/3 of the pops. Cool until hardened. Then, dip the final 1/3 in white candy melts.

A piece of styrofoam is handy for arranging the pops in an upright position as the candy hardens.

Finished pops can be stored at room temperature for a couple of days or in the refrigerator for several days. Take them out of the fridge a few minutes before serving so they soften up a bit.

A Few Other Spooky Treat Ideas for Halloween…

Spooky Eyeball Cake Pops

Chocolate Covered Spiders

Bloody Molten Lava Cakes

Wormy Apple Pops

How to Juggle Cooking and Kids

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I’m often asked, How do you do it? How do you cook all of that yummy stuff with the three boys running around?

Well…sometimes it’s not so easy. Sometimes it feels downright near impossible. And sometimes I don’t even try. We pick up some prepared salads or sandwiches from the grocery store, order a pizza, or I give the kids what I call ‘snack dinner’, which is essentially a random collection of snacky type things like a mozzarella cheese stick, cup of yogurt, handful of grapes, or some carrots sticks and dip. (Snack dinner happens to be the boys’ most favorite meal.)

But I do cook a lot and I’ve developed a repertoire of strategies which I employ to get the job done. Perhaps they’ll work for you too…

Involve the Kids

Strategy 1 – Involve the Kids

I love cooking with the kids. It’s an activity which is bursting with very natural learning opportunities, plus it teaches kids about foods and flavors and makes them more willing to try out new things. Best of all, when they’re engaged in helping you, they’re not off doing other sorts of mischief. You can read a bit more about involving kids in the kitchen in my special section devoted towards cooking with kids.

Dance Party!!

Strategy 2 – Kitchen Dance Party

Sometimes, getting the kids involved in the meal preparation just isn’t logistically possible. When that’s the case, I initiate kitchen dance party. I have an ipod dock sitting on my kitchen counter. We cue up my running mix and pump the volume. And then we dance our butts off while I tend to whatever I’m whipping up that day. All three boys come running when Ice, Ice, Baby starts pumping through the kitchen. Who doesn’t love a song which includes lyrics about a pound of bacon??

Serve an Amuse Bouche

Strategy 3 – Serve an Amuse Bouche

In fancy restaurants, they often serve an amuse bouche. Amuse bouche translates literally to ‘mouth amuser’. It’s usually some small bite-sized hors d’oeuvre of the chef’s choosing; a little blini topped with smoked salmon and caviar or a tiny cup of seasonal bisque or a bite of perfectly-cooked truffled risotto. The entire idea of an amuse-bouche makes me absolutely gleeful. It’s like a bonus course, a little surprise. And it helps makes the time between ordering your food and the arrival of your first course more pleasant. In the home, an amuse bouche may buy you the time you need to cook the actual meal. Of course, I’m not serving salmon, truffles, and caviar to my children. A handful of cherries, scoop of cereal, or a strawberry spinach smoothie usually does the trick…it just needs to be something which keeps them busy and adds a bit of nutritional value to the coming meal.

‘Mise en Place’ for Penne ala Vodka

Strategy 4 – Cook in Parts

I rarely cook a meal from start to finish all at once. I cook in parts, when the opportunities present themselves. If the kids are playing independently, I hop into the kitchen and chop the onions for a tasty penne ala vodka. Then I stick them in a baggie in the fridge. A little while later, while the baby’s napping, I may measure the cream and chop the prosciutto. When the boys are eating lunch, I grate the cheese. In the culinary world, chefs use the term mise en place, which essentially translates to ‘everything in its place’. It’s basically referring to the process of prepping and gathering all of your ingredients prior to cooking. It’s a good practice to get into whether you have kids or not. Gathering and preparing everything before you get started will save you a whole lot of scrambling around while you cook. I prepare my ‘mise en place’ in little bits all throughout the day so that when dinner rolls around, I just need to put it all together.

Melon Sangria, Anyone?

Strategy 5 – Put on Your Blinders and Charge Onward

Sometimes everything else fails and you just need to plug along. In fact, just this morning, as I was preparing a cake for a pool party potluck we’ll be attending tomorrow, I had a nightmarish cooking experience. I tried our dance party tactic, which worked for a while, until my 5-year-old threw himself head and hands first onto the floor in an attempt to do some sort of headstand type move, which he clearly has no business doing. While performing this ambitious maneuver, he managed to injure his hand, which resulted in the immediate need for icepacks, pretend bandages, and snuggles. I then moved onto to the ‘amuse bouche’ strategy in an attempt to get the cake in the oven. In this case, I gave everyone a scoop of the peanut butter chips I was using in the cake. The baby ate a few and then abandoned his peanut butter chips in favor of clawing at my legs and screaming at me to pick him up. The dog wasted no time and immediately stuck his tongue into the baby’s snack bowl. I threw the now slimy snack bowl into the sink, picked up the baby and held him on my hip while I continued preparing the cake batter. At this point, I realized that in my distracted state, I’d almost forgotten to add the cocoa to my chocolate cake. As I moved to the pantry the grab the cocoa, commotion ensued in the living room. Turns out that my three-year-old had found his favorite shoes outside, put them on, and proceeded to spread dog poopy all over the house and his toys. I stopped again to clean the mess, then thoroughly washed my hands in scalding hot water and proceeded to finish the cake with the baby on my hip. Sometimes you just need to charge onward.

And when all else fails, a glass of melon sangria usually helps…for you, not the kids, silly goose!

Peanut Butter Monkey Ice Cream

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This sweet summer treat is the brainchild of my brilliant five-year-old, who is perpetually dreaming up new recipe ideas. Of course, the fact that he speaks the words and I immediately get cooking has provided some serious reinforcement of this behavior. If you dream it, I will make it. I don’t think a soul at the table was disappointed after Liam recently suggested I make a batch of chocolate peanut butter pudding. In fact, as he sat at the table of guests enjoying the luscious, still-warm pudding, he suggested that everyone should thank him for coming up with such a great idea. Actually most of Liam’s recent recipe ideas have had something to do with peanut butter and chocolate. I told you, he’s a brilliant kid.

With three kids in the family, we go through a good deal of ice cream once the summer heat hits. Catching the elusive ice cream man has become a mission of epic proportions. In the five years that we’ve lived here, we’ve caught the ice cream man once. Once. And this is not for lack of effort. I’m beginning to feel like that kid in Better Off Dead who justs wants his two dollars, as my ice cream man races down my road with the speed of the mailman in Funny Farm. My life has become an ’80s movie.

Unable to rely on the local ice cream man, we’re resorted to purchasing our ice cream at the grocery store or making our own. Making your ice cream at home is not a money-saving endeavor. The cost of the cream and other ingredients will run you just as much as picking up a half-gallon container of your favorite brand. But, there are few pleasures in life as ridiculously decadent as a spoonful of homemade ice cream straight out of the ice cream maker. That’s when it’s best folks; fresh frozen, still slightly soft, and oh-so-satisfying. Don’t wait. Just dive in.

The addition of a fresh, pureed banana to this creamy peanut butter ice cream is the inspired genius of my son. He tried to back out of the banana idea moments after suggesting it, but I was too committed to the idea at that point. He later agreed that his initial instinct was right on target. Mini chocolate chips, fresh bits of banana, and salty peanuts complete this fantastic ice cream treat.

Peanut Butter Monkey Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 banana (pureed)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 banana, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup salted peanuts, coarse chopped

Directions

Prepare your ice cream maker according to your maker’s instructions.

In a saucepan over medium/medium-low heat, combine the cream, milk, pureed banana, sugar, and peanut butter, whisking frequently, just until the sugar dissolves and the peanut butter has melted. Cool for a few minutes at room temperature, then refrigerate for a couple hours until the mixture is completely chilled. Once the mixture is cold, pour it into your ice cream maker and freeze according to your maker’s instructions. Once the ice cream has reached the consistency of soft-serve, add the chopped banana, chocolate chips, and peanuts. Freeze in the ice cream maker for a few minutes longer.

Mother’s Day Cinnamon Raisin Donut Bread Pudding

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I get breakfast in bed once a year. On Mother’s Day. My breakfast in bed day is coming soon!! (For the record, my husband also gets breakfast in bed when Father’s Day rolls around.)

Last year, I got my breakfast in bed at the hospital, since I’d given birth to our third son the night before. But the year before that, my husband made me a delicious bacon, egg, and cheese bagel sandwich. It was fantastic. The boys came dancing into the room, buzzing with excitement over serving me breakfast in bed. They’d mostly just watched their daddy preparing the meal, but they took full credit for it.

They may not have made that bagel sandwich, but even young kids are quite capable of preparing some pretty fantastic stuff in the kitchen (with a little help, of course). And there’s really nothing like that aura of pride which emanates from a child who just accomplished something awesome.

With that in mind, I’ve come up with a Mother’s Day breakfast-in-bed recipe which is so simple that even preschoolers can complete almost every step on their own, with just a bit of adult direction. It starts with donuts, chopped into chunks, which are then sprinkled with raisins. Next, a mixture of half and half, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon gets poured over the donuts. As it bakes, the donuts absorb the sweet, creamy mixture forming a lusciously decadent donut bread pudding.

This is good stuff, people. Make it for yourself if no one is going to make it for you. But, if you’ve got some kids who’d like to surprise you for Mother’s Day, here’s a step by step photo guide for them to follow.

Note to helper grown-up: It’s a good idea to gather all ingredients and supplies ahead of time, so you can move through the steps quickly. Young kids have a tendency to get distracted, lose interest, or start eating the donuts if you take too long between steps.

Step 1: Wash your hands. Then, ask a grown-up to preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Step 2: Use a paper towel to spread one tablespoon of softened butter all around a medium-sized baking dish.

Step 3: Using a child-safe knife, carefully chop 7 or 8 cake-style donuts into chunks. You can use plain, powdered, cinnamon, or apple-cider donuts. (We used a variety pack of plain/powdered/cinnamon Entermann’s donuts.)

Step 4: Arrange the chopped donuts in a baking dish.

Step 5: Sprinkle the raisins overs the donuts.

Step 6: Pour 2 cups of half and half into a large bowl or measuring cup.

Step 7: Add 1/2 cup sugar.

Step 8: Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla.

Step 9: Add 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Throw a pinch of salt in there too!

Step 10: Ask a grown up to help you crack 4 eggs into a dish. Then, pour the eggs into the half and half mixture.

Step 11: Whisk the half and half mixture until it’s well blended.

Step 12: Pour the mixture over the donuts. Make sure you pour some over every donut.

Step 13: Gently press down on the donuts so they drink up the half and half mixture.

*The key to a great bread pudding is not to over-soak the bread (donuts, in this case). The donut chunks should be mostly submersed in the liquid, but not swimming in it. A few donuts peaking out of the top will help a nice crust to form on the top when it bakes.

Step 14:  Ask a grown-up to help you put the baking dish in the oven. Bake for 50-55 minutes.

The bread pudding should look like this before it bakes.

Step 15: Ask a grown-up to help you take it out of the oven. Sprinkle it with powdered sugar. Serve warm.

*If desired, the bread pudding can be made the day before and reheated in the morning.

While the bread pudding is cooking, cut up some fresh fruit. It will trick Mommy into thinking she’s eating a healthy meal when it’s sitting next to her main course of donut pudding. (Mommies like to think they’re eating healthy.)

Cook a huge batch of bacon, because mommies like bacon.

Ask a grown-up to pour a glass of sparkly champagne or sparkling white grape juice for Mommy, because it’s a special day. A cup of hot coffee would be nice too.

Arrange everything nicely on a platter with a fresh flower or two and a handmade card. Your mommy will be in Mother’s Day heaven!

Cinnamon Raisin Donut Bread Pudding

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 7 or 8 cake-style donuts, chopped into chunks (plain, powdered, cinnamon, apple cider)
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease the inside of a medium sized baking dish with the softened butter. Chop the donuts into chunks (about 1″ square). Arrange the donut chunks evenly in the baking dish. Sprinkle the raisins on top. Combine the half and half, sugar, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl or measuring cup. Whisk to combine. Pour the mixture over the donuts and raisins. (Try not to over-soak the donuts.) Gently press down on the donuts so they are mostly submerged in the liquid. Bake for 50-55 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve warm.

Baked Coconut-Crusted Chicken Tenders with Fruit Salsa

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I’ve come to an important realization about the difference between boys and girls. Girls create. Boys destroy.

As a little girl, I remember spending endless hours with my younger sisters drawing, painting, planning, assembling, and constructing. We took pride in neatness and paid special attention towards maintaining an unbroken, neatly sharpened set of crayons. My sons, on the other hand are destroyers. They disassemble. They tear to shreds. They eat the shreds. Seriously. In their world, crayons are disposable objects, with a new set required for every coloring session.

The only thing my little men ‘create’ is chaos. When my sisters and I dug holes in the yard, it was in the process of gathering ‘ingredients’ for mud pies. When my boys dig up the yard, the holes are their end game. They are the very definition of entropy. If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, Mars must be a very messy place. Of that I am certain.

I thrive under conditions of order and organization. I donate sets of drinking glasses when one breaks, rendering the set odd-numbered and incomplete. I cringe at mismatching dinner plates. My coffee mugs are neatly lined in the cupboard with all of the handles facing the same way. When someone else unloads my dishwasher for me, I thank them for the favor and then fix the handles on the coffee mugs. I can’t help it. I have a problem. My boys are determined to fix me.

But what my little men lack in the organization department, they more than make up for in other ways. They are sweet, smart, snuggly, and they are all fairly open to trying new foods. For a mom who loves cooking new things, this is a blessing. But, like most children, there are times when they want nothing to do with something new, no matter how delicious it may be. And when the boys team up in their unwillingness, there’s almost no way to win. This was recently the case on the night I made these delicious coconut-crusted chicken tenders, served with a sweet strawberry and mandarin orange salsa.

My oldest son, at the wise old age of five, proclaimed that he preferred ‘regular’ breaded chicken tenders as he stood there watching me prepare the meal. He decided he didn’t like my new chicken tenders before ever taking his first bite and nothing was going to change that. Once the meal was cooked, he reluctantly agreed to try the chicken. He crinkled his nose and took one carefully small bite. He chewed the bite with his face contorted into a dramatic look of utter repulsion, purposefully chewing and swallowing the bite without it ever touching his tongue. His younger brother watched as his big bro gave us such a notable display of disgust for the chicken he never actually tasted. Taking all of his cues from his big bro, he refused to even taste his chicken, loudly, repeatedly, and confidently stating, It’s ‘b’isgusting! Gross. He wouldn’t even eat the strawberries and oranges, which on any other day he would have loved, since they were somehow contaminated by the ‘b’isgusting chicken.

I assure you, this chicken is actually quite ‘b’elicious. It may even become one of your family’s new favorite meals, assuming your kids don’t team up in turning their noses up at it. Best yet, it’s baked in the oven, rather than fried in oil, making it a healthier meal choice for you and your family. The sweet fruit salsa can be made with whatever fruits you have on hand, though soft tropical fruits will work best. A pinch of cayenne pepper, added to the chicken and the salsa give the dish a nice little kick. Add more or less cayenne, depending on you and your family’s preferences.

Baked Coconut-Crusted Chicken Tenders

Ingredients

  • 2 cups shredded, sweetened coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 pounds chicken tenders (or chicken breast cut into strips)

Directions

Combine the coconut, panko bread crumbs, salt and cayenne pepper until well blended. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Dip each chicken tender into the eggs, then press in the coconut mixture until well coated. Arrange the tenders in a single layer on a baking sheet. (Lightly rub the baking sheet with a bit of olive or vegetable oil to help prevent sticking.) Bake on the middle over rack for about 15-20 minutes, until cooked through and lightly golden.

For the fruit salsa: Chop assorted fruit into small pieces. (I used strawberries and mandarin oranges. Mango, kiwi, and other citrus fruit would be fantastic!) Combine with a bit of honey and a squirt of lime juice. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper for a little spicy heat. Chopped jalapeño pepper or green onions would be another tasty addition! Refrigerate until using.

Check out this little cutie, already an expert in cupcake destruction!

Orange Creamsicle Custard Pie

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There’s a team spirit around here like nothing I’ve ever experienced anywhere else. Everyone goes bananas (or maybe I should say oranges) over our local Syracuse University basketball team, the Syracuse Orange. It’s a passion that has nothing to do with where a person actually went to school, and everything to do with the place we call home. I’ve never seen an entire city so consumed with team spirit. The way a typical city turns green on St. Patty’s Day is the way this place turns orange on the day of an SU game. There’s a sort of magic to it all.

Out of necessity, I broke my unwritten rule and ventured into my grocery store yesterday (on a Saturday) to return some movies I’d rented from Redbox. The place was a predictable madhouse. But there was something else at play inside the store. It was like an unspoken rally for our hometown team. Syracuse balloons floated up from every table. Displays of elaborately decorated SU cookies and orange and blue frosted cupcakes tempted team spirit with sweets. And a full wall of the store was decorated with an arrangement of Fanta and Pepsi boxes in an SU design.

But beyond that, nearly every person I passed was dressed in their favorite Syracuse Orange gear. T-shirts, hats, and hoodies. My grocery store was a living, breathing playground of team spirit. And it was contagious.

I’ve never really followed sports of any kind. Being a Yankees fan is in my blood and I’m darn proud of it, but I barely follow the baseball season. In fact, I know very little about baseball. I didn’t go to an undergrad college known for sports, so I never experienced that swell of excitement on game day. And though my graduate school had some teams to be proud of, I commuted to classes and was never engaged in that part of the school community.

But as I was walking through my grocery store, surrounded by the infectious excitement for our local team, I could feel my blood turn orange. I became a true Syracusian sometime during that grocery trip. I’ve lived here for almost five years now. It’s about time I joined the team. During that grocery trip, I bought myself my first SU t-shirt and a couple shirts for the boys. I even picked up a pack of SU shaped pasta in all of the excitement (though I refused to get the SU antennae balls that the boys insisted they needed).

And I made this pie. I call it an Orange Creamsicle Custard Pie, since it’s got the sweet flavors of fresh orange combined with a smooth vanilla custard…reminiscent of a bite into a frozen Creamsicle bar. I nestled the custard into a vanilla cookie crust and topped it with vanilla accented whipped cream and fresh orange slices. The boys are calling it ‘SU Pie’. Whatever you call it, don’t cheat on the fresh oranges with pre-squeezed juice. The fresh zest is one the MVPs when it comes to the flavor in this recipe. Use fresh oranges.

We let the boys stay up late last night to see the beginning of the game. They wore their new t-shirts, ate SU pasta salad and SU pie, and created long lists for all of the SU gear our family suddenly needs. Our team ended their run for the season last night, but it’s ok. It was a good game. I think I could get into watching basketball. In fact, I think this could be the start of something…

Orange Creamsicle Custard Pie

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 2 cups vanilla wafers, crushed to fine crumbs
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, melted

For the Filling

  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon fresh orange zest*
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice*
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

For the Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
*Two large oranges should provide the zest and juice necessary for this recipe.

Directions

To prepare the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together the vanilla wafer crumbs and the melted butter. Press the mixture onto the bottom and sides of a pie dish. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool.

To prepare the filling: Combine the milk, sugar, cornstarch, vanilla extract, salt, and orange zest in a sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, for about 5-6 minutes until the mixture comes to a gentle boil and begins to thicken. (It should be quite noticeable when the thickening occurs.) Remove from heat. In a bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks. Slowly add about 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture to the eggs and whisk to combine. Add another 1/4 cup of the hot milk and whisk to combine. (This slow addition of the hot liquid tempers the egg yolks and prevents them from scrambling when added to the hot liquid.) Pour the egg mixture into the pot. Bring the mixture to a very gentle boil, whisking constantly. Cook for a few minutes until the mixture becomes even thicker. Whisk in the orange juice and lemon juice. Cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly. Turn off the heat. Allow to cool slightly, whisking every few minutes to prevent a skin from forming. Pour the filling into the prepared crust. Refrigerate for a few hours to set.

For the whipped cream: Beat together the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract until thick. Use the whipped cream and additional fresh oranges or fresh orange zest to garnish the pie, as desired.

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