Tag Archives: Baby Shower

The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s Cherry Pies

What it is about mini cherry pies that makes them so much tastier than the regular sized ones? Perhaps they are easier to eat. Or the tiny crust-to-cherry filling ratio is better. Maybe it’s the cute factor.

For whatever reason, these mini pies were one of the most popular dishes at my sister’s book-themed baby shower last month.  I made them using my standby pie crust recipe (seen here and here) and a jar of wild cherry preserves homemade by my aunt in Carlisle, Iowa.

The process for making mini pies is pretty simple as long as you have some biscuit cutters and a mini muffin tin. Here’s what I did:

  1. After rolling the pie crust to 1/4 inch thickness, I used a 2-5/8 inch biscuit cutter to cut the top and bottom crusts.
  2. Then I placed a bottom crust into each well of a mini-muffin tin, using my fingers to press the crust flat down into the tin.
  3. I put a 1/2 teaspoon of cherry preserves in each pie and brushed the edges of the bottom crusts with egg wash.
  4. I placed the top crusts on the filled pies, pinching the crust edges together with my fingers.
  5. Finally, I used the tip of a paring knife to cut four vent holes in the top of each finished pie before giving them a final brush with egg wash.
  6. I baked the pies for 35 minutes at 350, until the crust was golden brown.

A full recipe of double crust and 1 cup of cherry jam yielded 32 tiny pies.

This assembly method was effective, but next time I’d like to experiment to get a prettier finished product. Although the pies stayed sealed, I wasn’t happy with the fluting effect I got with my bare fingers and the muffin tin, plus the tops of the pies were lumpier than I wanted.

None of the guests at the baby shower complained about the fluting, so I’m not sweating the cosmetics here too much.  Still, I’m eager for the next time I have occasion to make these so that can figure out a better way to attach the top crust. Any advice, fellow pastry-obsessives?


Bacon Wrapped Dates, Amelia Bedelia

Bacon wrapped anything is guaranteed to be a big hit at parties, and these delicious dates are no exception.  In this easy recipe, sweet dates are wrapped with Richardson Farms pastured bacon and baked until the bacon is crispy.  The basic recipe is

  • Package whole, pitted dates, about 30 pieces total
  • 1/3 slice bacon per date, about 10 slices total
  • blue cheese crumbles, goat cheese or almonds to stuff the dates, if desired

To make the dates, first stuff each date with a bit of cheese or almond, if desired. Then wrap each piece of dried fruit with 1/3 slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Place wrapped dates on a foil lined baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. (If you’re stuffing them with sweet goat cheese, a little brown sugar sprinkle is nice, too.) Cook in a preheated oven at 350 degrees until the bacon is brown and crispy, about 30 minutes. Turn the dates a few times during cooking to help them brown evenly.  Serve hot or at room temperature. Here are the step by step instructions with pictures (and my mom!) in a vintage post.

For my sister Beth’s baby shower, we taped paper due dates to the toothpicks of the finished appetizers.  I simply typed several January dates on a piece of paper, cut the separate dates into flags, and used a small piece of scotch tape to secure a flag to each toothpick. This tied in nicely to the children’s book, Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia, in which the ever-helpful Amelia Bedelia tries to make a date cake, using actual paper dates from the calendar instead of fruit in her cake!  It made for fun party conversation to discuss the literal-minded Amelia Bedelia, and to speculate on Beth’s actual due date.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Green Eggs & Ham / Spinach Deviled Eggs & Bacon

Deviled eggs are popular party food for good reason: they’re inexpensive and really easy to make ahead of time, plus they look great on a buffet. I developed this deviled egg recipe for my sister Beth’s book-themed baby shower, adapting the classic recipe in homage to Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham.

In developing the recipe, I drew heavily from Rachel Ray’s Green Eggs and Ham scrambled eggs, and Martha Stewart’s Spinach Deviled Eggs. In my recipe, sauteed, pureed spinach gives the yolk filling a greenish hue, and bits of bacon add flavor and garnish the dish. I also took care to use gluten free condiments and bacon so that the dish would be safe for all of our guests to eat.

Spinach Deviled Eggs with Bacon
12 eggs
4 slices gluten-free bacon
1 bunch regular spinach or 6 oz. bag baby spinach
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup gluten-free mayonnaise
1 tablespoon gluten-free Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika

A day ahead of the rest of the prep, hard cook the eggs. Place 12 eggs in a single layer in large saucepan and cover with two inches of tap water. Cook over medium high heat until the water comes to a boil.  Once the water boils, remove pan from heat, cover, and let sit covered for 12 minutes.  After 12 minutes, gently add a few cups of ice to the pan, repeating as necessary until the water is cold. Remove cooled eggs from the pan and pat dry. Store in a closed container in the fridge for up to a week.

Peel the eggs. Slice them in half lengthwise, then remove the yolks and set them aside in a small mixing bowl.

Wash and dry the spinach. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the spinach and cook, tossing occasionally, until the greens are completely wilted and start to look a bit dry.  Transfer cooked greens to paper towels and squeeze out any extra moisture.

Next, cook the bacon in the saute pan.  Drain crispy cooked bacon on paper towels to remove any extra grease. Once bacon cools, crumble/chop it into fine pieces. Set aside.

Combine cooked, drained spinach with mayonnaise and mustard in a food processor.  Puree until mixture is well combined and tinted green.  Add egg yolks and pulse until yolk mixture is smooth.  Add salt, pepper, and paprika to taste, pulsing until well combined. Pulse in half the crumbled bacon to the yolk mixture.  Transfer filling to a heavy-duty plastic sandwich bag.

Arrange egg white halves on a serving platter.  Snip off one bottom corner of the sandwich bag and pipe filling into each egg-half. Garnish finished eggs with remaining crumbled bacon.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

*Hint: if you’re preparing the deviled eggs to take to a party at someone else’s home, you’ll need an egg plate to transport the finished eggs safely. I don’t have –or want– an egg plate, so I just used ziploc bags to transport the component parts of this recipe to the party and assembled them on-site on a regular serving plate.  This is a great way to store the eggs, too, since the separate parts will stay fresher longer than the assembled eggs. A gallon-sized bag will hold the peeled, halved egg whites.  A snack-sized bag will hold the crumbled bacon garnish.  And a sandwich-sized bag will hold the filling. Obviously, you should wait to snip the corner of the filling bag to pipe the filling until you arrive at the destination and are ready to set up the eggs for service.

A Bookish Baby Shower

Last weekend my mom and I co-hosted a book-themed baby shower for my sister Beth. The party was a big hit, and I had a blast putting together the menu: dishes based on foods from popular children’s books.  We carried the book theme through other aspects of the party, too, by writing a nursery rhyme-themed game for everyone to play, and by asking folks to bring Beth a copy of their favorite children’s book instead of a greeting card. We were amazed that with about 15 guests at the party, there were no duplicate books.  Everyone has a different favorite baby book!

Here’s the menu I prepared for the party, along with the books that inspired each dish.  Many thanks to my twitter friends for helping me to brainstorm the book-menu pairings in the weeks leading up to the party!

  • Plain Water and Fancy Pink Lemonade, inspired by Olivia’s Opposites by Ian Falconer.  “Plain” and “fancy” are one pair of opposites featured in the book, so we set out a pitcher of raspberry lemonade and another of plain tap water.
  • Spinach Deviled Eggs with Bacon, inspired by Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss.  I mixed some spinach and bacon in with the traditional deviled egg seasonings for this dish, and topped the finished eggs with bacon.
  • Bacon Wrapped Dates, inspired by Merry Christmas, Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish. Amelia Bedelia tries to make a date cake in this story, using “literal dates” by cutting a calendar into the cake batter.  We used fruit dates– not calendar dates– for this easy appetizer.
    Bacon Wrapped Dates
  • Apple Rosemary Pizza with Brie, inspired by Ten Apples Up on Top! by Dr. Seuss.

  • Peter Rabbit’s Garden Vegetables with Spicy Radish Dip, inspired by The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter. I used French Breakfast radishes to make the dip, so it turned out pale pink.

  • Assorted Cheeses & Crackers, inspired by Anatole by Eve Titus. This book is less well known than others on this list, but it’s a wonderful story about high quality  cheeses with French phrases sprinkled throughout.
  • Yucky Hot Sauce & Tortilla Chips inspired by Yummy Yucky by Leslie Patricelli.  This hilarious book teaches toddlers what not to put in their mouths, and it describes hot sauce as “yucky.” We served Kelli Jo’s delicious salsa straight from the farmer’s market, along with Gardener’s Feast Tortilla chips.
  • Jam Tarts, inspired by Jamberry by Bruce Degen. Filled with raspberry jam, of course.
  • Butter Bars with Coffee Frosting, inspired by The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore. These crunchy shortbread cookies with coffee frosting, from my mom’s recipe, are Beth’s favorite holiday treats. We make them every year together.
  • Mini Cherry Pies, inspired by The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. My aunt makes sweet cherry jam from the cherry trees in her backyard in Iowa; I filled these mini pies with a jar of her famous jam.
  • Fancy Nancy’s Delectable Cupcakes, inspired by Fancy Nancy and the Delectable Cupcakes by Jane O’Connor. I outsourced these and purchased a few dozen cupcakes from Hill Country Cupcakes. They were great!

I’m planning to blog separately the individual recipes, several of which are gluten & dairy free and which feature locally sourced ingredients.