Sunday, November 4, 2012

Meet ZoZo, My Little Pumpkin

Sadly, my 5 year old sous chef, Calico, has left my tutelage  and moved on to a higher institution of learning.... kindergarten.  Fortunately, for me, she hired her replacement before she left. I would like to introduce you to ZoZo. Now, ZoZo is 3 years old and already quite adept in the kitchen. For her debut she wanted to demonstrate how to make Gooey Pumpkin Cake.

We found this recipe on the Food Network website, courtesy of Paula Dean, and thought we'd give it a try. It took only about 15 minutes to put together and 45 minutes to bake.  The aroma of pumpkin and spices baking in the oven always helps to usher in the new season and makes me glad autumn has arrived.


Press into pan

  • 1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
  • 1 egg
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted


  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

ZoZo will demonstrate how to add the melted butter to make the filling in the video below.

To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to over bake, as the center should be a little gooey.

As ZoZo so simply says, "DONE"!

Serve with fresh whipped cream.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Making Pie Crust is a Snap

My sister, Teri, asked me for the recipe to Mom's pie crust yesterday.  So, being the good sister that I am, I decided to not just tell her, but to show her.


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsps. vegetable oil
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsps. milk
1 tsp salt

Makes 1 double pie crust or 2 single pie crusts

Pour all ingredients into a medium mixing bowl. Stir with a fork just until it is blended (20-30 strokes). Divide dough in half and form each half into a disk. Place one disk in the center of a 14" long piece of waxed paper. Place a second piece of waxed paper over the disk so the dough is between two pieces of waxed paper. Begin rolling evenly from the center outward to form a circle. Roll dough 12-14" round, depending on size of pie plate. remove top piece of waxed paper then place it gently back over dough. Flip the crust over and remove waxed paper. Center dough in pie plate and remove the waxed paper. Ease the dough into the bottom of the plate so there are no air bubbles between the dough and the pie plate. Leave 3/4" overhang on top edge of dough and fold under to form a crust.

If you are making a single crusted pie, crimp edges all the way around. If recipe calls for a baked pie crust, place foil on top of dough and weigh it down with pie weights (or dried beans). Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. Cool. Fill with cream filling.

If you are making a double crusted pie, place pie filling over bottom crust in pie plate. Roll out second pie dough disk 12-14" and center it over the pie filling. Roll both crusts edges under in a smooth ridge and crimp edges with fingers.

If desired, you can brush crust top with milk or egg white and sprinkle with raw sugar or almonds. Cut four 1/2 " slits in center to allow steam to escape. Bake 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until filling is cooked. Place sheet of foil loosely over the top of the pie if crust is browning to quickly. remove from oven when done and let cool.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Apricots and Mom and Dad

The last several days have been a blur as I have picked apricots off overburdened trees at the house and made jam, pies and cobbler from the apricots. While the picking and cooking have been a lot of work, the experience has reminded me a lot of my Mom and Dad.

My dad didn't like gardening, but loved cultivating fruit trees. He got great joy in sharing his harvest with his neighbors and friends. If he didn't have enough from his yard, he would go over to Fresno State and pick whatever he needed to augment his harvest.  Mom was equally generous with supplying everyone she knew with a pie, whether it be apricot, peach, or rhubarb.   Every year, they would share the tedious task of splitting hundreds upon hundreds of apricots onto grape trays and drying them in their backyard. This process took weeks, and lots of patience, but the result was being handed a bag of the best dried apricots you ever tasted. So, you see, I have apricots in my blood.

So the first apricot pies that came out of the oven are dedicated to my parents. I thank them for instilling the love of fruit and baking in me. At last count, there were 13 15 19 pies, 31 39 jars of jam and  2 3 cobblers. I have become very popular with my friends, family and neighbors, and I'm delighted to share with them.

The photo above shows how productive my trees were this year. Below is a picture of the apricot filling ready to go into the crust. The recipe I'm using here was my mom's favorite apricot pie recipe. It's quite different because the thickening agent is tapioca, rather than flour or cornstarch.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

8-10 cups halved apricots (about 22-24)
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 Tbsp. water
1  Tbsp. amaretto or orange liquer
Mix liquids and sprinkle over apricots. Stir and let stand.

3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar (+ 1/2 cup more sugar is fruit isn't real ripe or sweet)
3 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. minute tapioca
1 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
In a bowl, stir sugars and tapioca together until thoroughly mixed. This is very important as not to have unpleasant lumps of tapioca. Add sugar/tapioca mixture to apricots, 1/2 cupful at a time, making sure you mix thoroughly after each addition. Let stand 15 minutes.

Assemble pie crust, fruit, and top crust. Brush top with milk or egg white and sprinkle with sugar and slivered almonds, Reduce temperature to 450 degrees and bake 10 minutes.Then set oven to 375 degrees and bake for 35 more minutes. Cool at least 6 hours.
Makes one large pie. Serves 8-10.