Birthday Brunch

Today the fam got together to celebrate Mom & Dad’s August birthdays. It’s nearly impossible to get everyone together at the same time, but we planned weeks ahead and had everyone over to our house.

We did an egg casserole in the crockpot, monkey bread muffins, yogurt parfaits, and “mimosas” (except we used some dry white wines mixed with assorted Italian sodas and orange juice).

For dessert I made Grandma Stromberg’s rhubarb cream pie (one of Mom & Dad’s favorites), brownie pops, and key lime pops using key lime bars from Taste of Scandinavia!  Everyone was too full to have dessert so I sent desserts home with everyone except Mom & Dad who are coming back over tonight!

Here are some photos of our brunch! (I didn’t get a picture of the crockpot casserole, sorry!)

brunch collage 1brunch collage 2brunch collage 3brunch collage 4brunch collage 5rhubarb pie

Dad and Katie are in a food coma

Dad and Katie are in a food coma

Cheers to many more birthdays!

Cheers to many more birthdays!

The Cherry Pie Project

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Cherry season is in full swing and I’ve had a hankering for a cherry pie for a few weeks now thanks to a patriotic cherry pie recipe that CMI posted on their Facebook page.  I kept telling myself, “I’m going to make that cherry pie”.  Soon, the Fourth of July was long over and I had not made that pie. I browsed several other recipes & even bought the 2 1/2 pounds of cherries to make the pie, but that was a week ago Friday and it is now Sunday. I kept procrastinating but every time I opened the fridge I was reminded that sooner or later my gorgeous red cherries are going to look raisins. And in that case I might as well switch from cherry to mince meat (no thanks!).  I figured it was a perfect Sunday afternoon project so as soon as Avery zonked out for his nap I got started. I have never made a homemade pie with a crust from scratch so I was prepared for this to be an experiment where things may or may not go wrong. I used my iPhone to photo document the whole process. Enjoy!

The recipe I ended up following was from the blog Smitten Kitchen.

All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough

  • Makes enough dough for one double-, or two single-crust pies.
  • 2 1/2 cups (315 grams) flour
  • 1 tablespoon (15 grams) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces, 225 grams tablespoons or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold

Sweet Cherry Pie

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

  • 4 cups pitted fresh cherries (about 2 1/2 pounds unpitted)
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2/3 to 3/4 cup sugar (adjust this according to the sweetness of your cherries)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits
  • 1 egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons water
  • Coarse sugar, for decoration
These CMI cherries from Washington are our favorite! They are sweet & HUGE!

These CMI cherries from Washington are our favorite! They are sweet & HUGE!

I started out by making the crust so that it had plenty of time to chill in the fridge while I prepared the cherry pie filling.

Gather your ingredients, and if you're like me, conveniently spill flour directly on your foot

Gather your ingredients, and if you’re like me, conveniently spill flour directly on your foot

Fill a one cup measuring cup with water, adding a few ice cubes, and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Dice the two sticks of very cold, unsalted butter in to approx. 1/2 inch pieces and work them into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until they are evenly distributed and about the size of peas.

Note: I realized I only had salted butter so I used it anyways and reduced the teaspoon of salt in the dry ingredients just a tad.

Add the butter cubes to the flour and start working them in with a pastry blender

Add the butter cubes to the flour and start working them in with a pastry blender

Start gluing together by drizzling approx. 1/2 cup of the ice water on top of the butter & flour mixture. Gather the dough together using a rubber or silicone spatula. Stirring in a little at a time, add an additional 1/4 to 1/2 cup of ice water to bring it all together. Get your hands in there and pull out the doughy clumps and gently kneed them together.

Divide the dough in half, wrapping each half in a large piece of plastic wrap.

Divide the dough in half, wrapping each half in a large piece of plastic wrap.

Let the dough chill in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours before rolling it out.  Note: This dough will keep in the fridge for approx. a week and even longer in the freezer. To defrost your dough from the freezer, put in in the fridge for 1 day before using it.Cherry pitters are a brilliant tool. You might not want to wear your favorite white shirt when pitting these juicy beauties though!

It took some time to pit 2 1/2 pounds of cherries, so that’s why I suggest to do it while the pie dough is chilling. (Who knew that a pie that can disappear so fast takes so long to make!?) It’s worth it. Stick with me people.  Where were we? Oh yeah. The filling.  So once your cherries are pitted, gather the rest of your ingredients.

I love love love the smell of fresh squeezed lemon juice!

I love love love the smell of fresh squeezed lemon juice!

Gently stir together the cherries, cornstarch, sugar, salt, lemon and almond extract in a large bowl.

Look who woke up from his nap and busted me for baking without him!

Remove your chilled pie dough from the fridge and roll out half of it on a floured work surface to about 13″ round.

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Gently place it in a 9″ pie pan, trimming edges to a 1/2″ overhang.

Spoon in the pie filling, discarding most of the extra juice in the bottom of bowl, and scatter the bits of cold butter on top.  This is where it gets exciting because It’s starting to look like a pie and you have not ruined it yet!  You can now roll out your other puck of dough on a floured surface and drape it over the pie filling leaving a 1 inch overhang that you can fold under the bottom crust, pressing the edges to seal it. Crimp the edges decoratively (or if you’re like me and don’t know how to do the crimping technique, you can wing it). Brush the egg wash on top, and sprinkle with  coarse sugar. Cuts slits in the top of the crust using a sharp knife, forming steam vents.

I did not do a full crust on top, instead I cut my rolled out dough into strips and made a lattice.

When I think of cherry pie, I picture it having a lattice crust to show off the cherries.

When I think of cherry pie, I picture it having a lattice crust to show off the cherries.

Bake the pie in the middle of the oven for 25 minutes. Reduce the temp to 350 and bake for 25-30 minutes more, or until golden brown.

Note: I had to bake mine about 10-15 min longer, so if it’s not quite golden enough after the 55 minutes, continue to reset the timer for 5 minutes at a time until the crust is golden and flakey!

I put a large cake pan on the rack below to catch any drips. It’s common for the filling to ooze out!

Holy deliciousness! At this point your house smells like heaven.

Holy deliciousness! At this point your house smells like heaven.

P.S. It tasted as good as it looks!

My giddy Mom & sweet tooth Dad rushed over for a taste.