Happy 4th of July

I was up late last night making Jell-O Firecracker Shots to share on this great day of independence.  And as my luck would have it, mine turned out as if someone had already detonated them!  How the heck can you screw up Jell-O you ask?  Well, let me tell you.  You hastily read the directions to a recipe that you should have printed off the computer but didn’t.

So, I missed the part about boiling the water.  Who would have thought?  Especially since that’s what you typically do when you make Jell-O. 

And you thought it was just you – right? 

Regardless,  Vanessa and  Heather from the blog, At The Picket Fence, did a great job making and photographing their firecrackers

If you get a minute to hop over there and take a look you will see how darned adorable their firecrackers are.  And you will  see why I was   disappointed to find mine didn’t set properly.

Have no fear.  I will try again.  Happy 4th!

july 011

Guilt Free Mini Pies

I use to get Kraft Food & Family magazines (when they were free).  I loved them.  They were loaded with great recipes and enticing photo’s.  The recipes were simple too.  Somewhere along the way Kraft started charging for these magazines and it (sadly) disappoints me.   Fortunately, I still have all of my original issues so I can refer to them.

Last night I was looking for low-fat, low-calorie recipe.  For inspiration I dug out my old issues from Kraft.   I didn’t need to search beyond the issue that was on the top of the pile (Summer 2007). 

Although a lot of recipes jumped out at me, the one that I decided on was called “Flat Bottom Fruit Pie”.  It looked so fresh and inviting.  Just what my diet ordered.

Of course, I can’t leave well enough alone so I adapted this recipe to actually make a healthier version.  Once you read the recipe you will see how easy it is to interchange ingredients to satisfy just about any taste.

Here is my adaptation.  I must warn you this is a fast and easy one.  If you are looking to spend hours in your kitchen this one isn’t for you. 🙂

You will need:

1 refrigerated ready to use pie crust

1 tsp. of cinnamon & sugar (3/4 tsp. sugar and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon) I used King Arthur Vietnamese cinnamon – my absolute favorite! 

1 package of Jell-O Sugar Free Cheesecake Pudding (and 2 cups of non-fat milk)

Fresh Blueberries

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Unroll pie crust, take a round cookie cutter and make cut outs.  (Hint – once I made the initial cutouts I rolled out the remaining dough and made several more to prevent wasting the dough.) 

Lay the cutouts on a baking stone.  Sprinkle with cinnamon & sugar mixture.  I didn’t use the entire teaspoon but feel free.  Bake for 8-10 minutes until golden brown.

While the crusts are baking mix up your pudding. 

Let the crusts cool, and put the pudding in the refrigerator to thicken for 1 hour.

Once the crusts are cool and the pudding is thick put your mini pies together.  Top with fruit and low-fat whipped cream.

These are so versatile.  If you don’t want to use sugar-free pudding you can use regular pudding.  You could also sprinkle the dough with a cocoa and sugar mixture. Can you image these made with chocolate pudding, and topped with fresh raspberries?  Vanilla pudding and fresh peaches?  Or,  how about white chocolate pudding with cherries and chocolate drizzled on top?  The list of possibilities is endless, and these are guilt free. 

More modified Kraft recipes to come!

A measly cup of sugar-free Jell-O

Sadly this is what is has come to for The Joy of Caking.  A measly cup of sugar-free Jell-O. 

Lets talk about the upside of a cup of sugar-free Jell-O.  It has only 10 calories, tastes very cherryish ( I bought the cherry and black cherry pack), and is capable of a few upgrades –  capable enough to satisfy most of my cravings for sweets.  Thank goodness!  Now, do I have you convinced that sugar-free Jell-O is  far better tasting than the homemade treats you and I make?

I didn’t think so.  I’m not all that convinced either.   I’ve never been a big diet freak, but there is something I have noticed over the years.  The older I get, the harder it is to stop gaining weight, and the harder it is to lose weight when I want  need to. 

With weight loss foremost in my mind I spent some time last night in the grocery store reading labels.  I decided I was going to forego buying anything that was high in fat, sugar, and calories.   I didn’t even stroll down my favorite isle –  the baking isle.  Can you imagine?  No flour, sugar, chocolate chips, or butter.  What a hard task for a  baker like myself.  

Have you ever shopped when you’re thinking along the lines of dieting? It’s a real chore finding food to buy that resembles something healthier, and is still tasty.  Lets compare a breakfast food for example. Take bagels and english muffins. First, there is a considerable difference in calories between the two.  I prefer bagels but english muffins are lower in calories.  Then compare the whole grain  to the  white,  the regular to the light, and one brand from the next.  This is what I call work.   If everything I wanted to buy was this involved, the grocery store could easily become my home away from home.  Do I sound like Andy Rooney yet?

Have you ever notice the price difference from healthy food to what some might consider unhealthy food?  Why is it that anything that appears to be better for you costs more money?  If an english muffin has more calories doesn’t it make sense that more ingredients went into it?  Apparently not the case. 

To settle my nerves after my trip to the grocery store I upgraded my cup of cherry sugar-free Jell-O a bit.  I added some sliced banana and a squirt of whipped cream – while it did help satisfy my sweet tooth, it certainly is not comparable to a piece of my homemade chocolate and cream cheese crostata.  This is the price I have to pay for being a bit too excessive during the last ten months that I’ve been baking my fool head off and blogging about it.

Will you stand by me while I work on this self-improvement project, or until I’m sick of it?  Please join in, I’d love to hear your  suggestions, tips, and thoughts on getting healthier in 2011.

JELL-O

Who couldn’t resist the headline (no bake) on this box of Jell-O brand cheesecake?   On a hot, extremely busy Memorial Day weekend with lots of other fun things to be doing, I for one couldn’t.

I do however, have a couple confessions to make.  I always try to make my baked goods from scratch.  Sometimes on a rare occasion I cheat a wee bit and buy a box mix, or a store-bought item.  Sure I know, and can tell the difference, but there are times it’s warranted (in my mind). 

The second part of my confession is that I have never made a homemade cheesecake.  It’s not that I don’t want to.  For one,  I don’t own a springform pan, and secondly, I know homemade cheesecake recipes make enough to feed an army, and I don’t have an army to feed. 

As it stands now, I give at least half of the baked goods I make away to friends and neighbors.   In many cases the extra goodies end up in our freezer for a day that I don’t feel like baking.  Right now there’s only a loaf of lemon-blueberry bread in our spare freezer.  Probably due to the fact that our Frigidaire side by side that I used for freezing my goods has broken down for the 2nd time this year. (Did I mention it’s only four years old? And of course there is no warranty left on it.) My last call to the company ended in frustration when I was transferred to a young woman who I could tell was very proficient in Spanish, and not so much in English.  She also had me on hold more time than she spent conversing with me, and could offer very little to remedy the problem.    Okay, enough about Frigidare…

Any who… I’ve made cute little mini cheesecakes before with Nilla Wafers and a real cream cheese mixture.  They are yummy little devils.   I’ve made this cheesecake from the box before too.  The one thing that stood out when I made this today was how little time, effort, and ingredients it took to throw this together.  Even the most apprehensive person in the kitchen could handle this recipe.   A little melted margarine, some sugar, and milk, and a topping of your choice (I’m opting for fresh strawberries from our garden)  – it’s just that simple.    

Now, I’m not advocating boxed foods – but sometimes a girl just has to do, what a girl has to do….  And, one of these days when I’m expecting an army of people  I’ll buy that springform pan and make a real homemade cheesecake.