Sunday, March 20, 2011

Coconut Cream Pie...Mmm!

So... It's my beautiful mommy's birthday this weekend and I just had to make her her favorite pie! I didn't want to just make a 'jello' pudding pie out of a package... it just wouldn't seem right! So I found a recipe online and tweeked it a bit to my liking to fit what she'd like...If you want to make it... just make sure you have a candy thermometer If you want to make the yummy meringue!

Coconut Cream Pie topped with Italian Meringue 

(serves 12)


1 1/2 cup of dates
1/3 cup of chopped almonds
2 tbsp of warm water
Coconut Cream Filling:
1  cup Coconut milk (skim the cream off the top first and then add up to 1 cup)
2  cups  half-and-half
1 1/2  cups  flaked sweetened coconut
1  vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2/3  cup  sugar
1/3  cup  cornstarch
1/4  teaspoon  salt
4  large egg yolks
2  tablespoons  butter
3  large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2  teaspoon  cream of tartar
1/2  cup  sugar
1/4  cup  water
1/4  cup  flaked sweetened coconut, toasted

You can definitely make this pie with a different crust, but my mom doesn't eat flour so I just made this recipe. Do as you please, but this is the recipe I used... I just put the dates and the almonds into the food processor and chopped them up until they were really fine and added a little warm water here and there until it started to stick together. Lydia loved this part since I let her push the button once! (I guess if you need to get out a little steam, you could smash them by hand too). I spread it into a cute little pie plate. Now if you're baking your crust, make sure to let it cool fully during the next steps.

mmmm... the most important ingredients! Coconut milk, 1/2 n 1/2, coconut, sugar, and vanilla beans. If I could have found some unsweetened coconut or some of the yummy non-dehydrated stuff from the freezer section then I would have used that instead of the sweetened, but unfortunately I couldn't find any this time

So add your coconut milk, half and half, 1 1/2 cups of coconut to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean with a spoon and add those along with the whole vanilla pod into the milk mixture. Heat it slowly to a simmer and then quickly cover it and remove it from the heat.

Now look over at my sweet little boy sleeping in the bouncer on the counter with a death grip on his monkey :]

Now in a large bowl... add 2/3 cup of sugar, your cornstarch, salt, and egg yolks and wisk it all together. It'll be one nice, big, gooey clump, but no worries!  (Make sure to set aside 3 of the whites of your eggs for later!) 

Now that 15 minutes have gone by... Strain your milk mixture through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a bowl. Gather the edges of the cheesecloth and squeeze out the remain liquids into the bowl. Don't burn yourself! It's still pretty hot. Toss the remaining stuff in the cheesecloth into the trash. Now add the milk mixture to the sugar and egg yolk mixture. Wisk it until it's smooooth

Return your mixture to your saucepan and bring it slowly to a boil while wisking it constantly. It'll set up fairly quick, so don't let it burn on the bottom of the pan!

Remove it immediately and put it into a bowl over ice. Mix it to cool it down a bit faster. It'll take about 5-7minutes. Now pour that into your cooled pie crust, smooth it, cover it, and put it in the fridge to set for an hour.

15 minutes before my hour was up for the pie to be done, I started my meringue topping. It takes about 2 hours to set so be aware of that to know you'll be able to serve it on time.
Beat your egg whites (room temp), and cream of tarter with a mixer on high until stiff peaks form. Then combine 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of water into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Cook it without stirring until your candy thermometer registers at 250°. ( I didn't use a saucepan small enough to keep my thermometer from touching the bottom so I had to keep tipping it a bit to get a reading... just a warning. Choose your smallest saucepan!) Pour the hot syrup in a thin stream over the egg whites and beat on high until it gets thick. Spread the meringue over your pie and make it pretty... then cover the pie and stick it in the fridge for 2 hours to set. Top it with some toasted coconut if you'd like... we opted for a few cute sprinkles on top instead!

Now lick the spoon! It's perfectly yummy and totally safe to heat. The eggs are cooked just enough from the sugar syrup and tastes amazing. YUMM!!

It turned out GREAT! The taste was delicate and sweet. Using real vanilla beans really made a big difference. Maybe I've just had too many pudding pies made from a box.... but this was good. I can't really eat dairy, so it left me a bit sick, but it was worth it :) I'll be working on a dairy free option soon! I know I definitely will be using the meringue recipe in place of whipped cream topping on anything I do make dairy free in the future. It was great! So let me know what you think after you make it!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! I'm excited to make you your pie every year for your birthday! I love you so much :]

Monday, March 14, 2011

Lydia turned 2!!!!

So it has been a little while since I've posted. We celebrated Lydia's second birthday on the seventh, were struck with the stomach flu for about a week, and just had some of our family visiting this last weekend.
I can't believe that my big girl is already 2 years old! Time has really gone by fast! I feel like we JUST celebrated her first birthday! What's happening?! This year we decided to keep the birthday celebration a bit more low key. My friend, Haley, and I took our girls to paint pottery together. Of course we had to paint something ourselves too! I'll add a photo of our creations.... after I pick them up :\. (hopefully today!)

It was a bit of a mess, but we learned that the paint washes out....and thankfully for little Ava, it's non toxic too if you happen to try and eat it! It's not necessarily the best activity to do in replace of a nap time, but we made it through Lydia's fits and still had a good time. I would've posted photos, but simply forgot my camera on the charger at home!
The evening of Lydia's birthday I came up with the stomach flu. (Thank goodness Haley and Ava didn't catch it!) All birthday celebrations went on hold for that evening, but as soon as we were all well we celebrated a little bit in each day the following week followed by the big bash!

Lydia and I were getting SO tired of being stuck in the house so the moment we were well and the sun came out, we went out. She met loads of little friends her age, I chatted with other parents, we ate a great picnic, and took lots of pictures!

mmm... banana!

I was so proud of her accomplishing the 'Big' slide without a second thought! She just climbed up and went right down over and over again! It's still so sweet how she chooses to go down on her belly welly!

Here she is going through the tunnel! It's something else she was nervous about doing this last summer and now it doesn't seem to phase her one bit.  I loved seeing her sweet little face peeking out at me!

Happy girl on the swing :)

I love her little rosy cheeks! It was SO cold outside, but so worth it!

'Mr. Squirrel'

This weekend we had my parent's up and finally threw a little birthday party for Lydia. She was so excited when she woke up and saw 'Nana and Popsky' and a fully decorated house. She got 'big girl undies', dresses, some clothes, and a tricycle complete with a bell! (She's always so spoiled by them!!). Once again... camera on the charger. I really failed at photos for her birthday this year! Thankfully Nana took a few to save the memory. We had a great time. Lydia had her favorite foods for dinner and played on her trike. That evening I let her decorate her own mini-cake with various colors of frosting and fun toppings. I was very surprised by how much she didn't eat! The rest of us had some marionberry pie...yum :) The next day my dad and I fixed some things around the house. We put up pictures, a mirror, and attempted to put up my little ikea thingamajigger. On a trip to Bimart to find screws, we happened across a little sock monkey for Gray like Lydia's.

He'll smile, coo, and squeal at him in excitement when he sees his face. If you run his yarn hair over Gray's hands or face he squeaks and kicks his little legs everywhere. Nana put the monkey on top of him in his bouncer and he chewed his ear for the longest time last night. It's so much fun watching this little munchkin grow and get excited about the littlest things :)
I'm going to miss my family now that they're gone, but we'll be going to visit them in only a few days time while daddy is gone to Alaska. Hopefully we'll visit the ocean, sample some cranberry sweets, and meet up with friends if the weather is good.
We really have been having fun here in the Balint house. So many fun activities, seeing our family, play dates with friends... awesome. Hopefully we can stay away from sickness/flus for awhile and keep this up! I'll leave you with two of my favorite new recipes of the week!

Baked Chicken Taquitos

Preheat oven to 375
Mix up some shredded chicken (I had some leftover from a whole chicken the night before), a can of *mild green chillies, a couple spoon fulls of salsa, a tablespoon full of minced garlic, some chopped green pepper and onion, and roll then inside of warmed corn tortillas. You can also add some shredded cheese, but I do things dairy free around here...Place on a greased cookie sheet and brush with a very light coating of olive oil. Cook for about 15min and then turn the oven on to broil. Brown one side (about 2min) and then turn and brown the other.
These taquitos rival the best I've had! We topped ours with some homemade guacamole :)

Blueberry Buttermilk Muffins

Mmmm... definitely the tastiest, moistest, most delicious blueberry muffins that I have ever made! Don't they look yummy?! I'm making another batch today for the freezer!
I got my recipe here.

Okay okay... enough with the numerous photos, I know! Sheeeesh!
Well I can't leave a post without my sweet little boy's cute face :)
Specially with my handsome hunk of a man in it too!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Bicycle for 2

I've been working on my friend's baby shower for a few weeks now. It's not that there's that much to do, it's just that it's taking me a long time to get the little things ready and made with two babies around. I tend to Lydia all morning while Grayson takes his long nap (3 hours). Then I put Lydia down for her nap and Gray wakes up. He normally only needs an hour to an hour and a half to feed/change/snuggle before he's ready to play on his tummy, but that's 1/2 of Lydia's nap time over with. I simply can't get too many extra things done in that little hour a day... specially when I'm dying to nap! I'm so excited to celebrate this new sweet little girl arriving soon and I REALLY am enjoying all the fun creative crafts I get to do in the meantime, but I can't believe how long it's taking me to prepare! I'm excited to share photos of all the fun things I've been making, but I don't want to spoil her decor and gifts on here before the big bash!

Oh little Charis... I'm so excited to meet you! You're going to be beautiful like your momma, giving like your daddy,  and as sweet as your sister Ava... I just know it! What a wonderful family you get to be brought up with! (That and you have two VERY cute boys your age waiting to hang out with you too and more little friends coming soon after!)

So Lydia and I took a little bike ride to the scrap-booking shop in downtown Indy a few days ago and I thought I'd share some pictures! She's just too cute with her little helmet and pads on :]
We ended up riding about 2 miles! It wasn't too bad on the ride back, but I really learned how much work it can be with 2 very flat tires and an almost 25lb toddler on the rear! It took me about a half an hour of a killer leg workout to make it to the gas station. I had brought 1.00 in quarters to use to get air in the tires. I must've been a silly sight to see! I held lydia in one arm and tried to fill the tires one handed with the other! She squirmed everywhere and by the time I finally got the back tire filled... the air ran out.

Air is .75... I only had a 1.00. Lesson learned: bring 1.50 next time and ask the attendant for help instead of just letting them watch and laugh at you.

It was a lot easier riding with only one flat tire, but I can't wait to fill up the other! Bike rides might happen a bit more frequently if I do! I guess I need the workout anyhow though ;]

I really like my sweet bicycle, but I'm thinking that Lydia and I both need a bell!

She LOVES riding our bike. She'll sing to me, chat up a storm, and point out everything she sees as we ride around town.

What a beautiful smile :]

...and just because Grayson so cute right now all snuggled up with his ducky!

I'm very excited for spring to finally arrive. I love the snow and the cold, but I want to enjoy riding our bicycles, going to the park, taking the wagon to the farmer's market, and playing outside with Lydia's little friends. It won't be long! Lydia and I just planted fresh starts of veggies in my kitchen window and are watching the green pop up... oh the joy! Spring is coming soon!!!