Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Florida Strawberry Pie

Where have I been.. It has been a crazy couple of weeks.. This blog should have been posted a few days ago. The days just seem to evaporate... On March 6th, I celebrated my 50th birthday. AUGH.. I was really dragging my feet about turning 50. My hip has been bothering me, I need readers all the time and winter just seems to be dragging on forever. WHINE..

So, my wonderful Husband and my fabulous sisters threw me a birthday party the week before my actual birthday. It was at a local bar. My Husband invited everyone, ordered the cake and paid the bill. He also flew my Florida sister in. She was glad she was here, but did not like the super cold weather. My sisters went WAY over the top. They decorated the place, made fabulous appetizers and really made me special. They are all a very special part of my whole life.  Sometime I will post my birthday pictures.

My birthday party started February 27th and finally ended on March 7th. Wow 10 days of lots of fun. If you are approaching a new decade, hit it up with a bang.

So off to Florida we went to celebrate my birthday. I was really missing my Mom. She was very glad to see us.. The first day we were there, we went to Bonefish Grill for are usual, Bang Bang Shrimp and Martini's. Well Martinis for me and beer for everyone else..

It is wrong to start a vacation with Bang bang shrimp
and a delicious martini.. well 2 martinis

Florida agrees with my Mom
My Husband and I after watching a beautiful sunset

Super long walk all the way to DOCS

Even the birds have fun on the beach

Going to celebrate my birthday some MORE with my family

My Florida sister and I after dinner

My handsome and TALL nephews

Another cocktail and another perfect beach day

My Mom made me a wonderful Florida dessert. Strawberries were in season their and just delicious in this birthday dessert. This recipe came out of either Cooks Illustrated or America's Test Kitchen. Make Ahead Dinners.. There recipes are always tested and come out perfectly. Time and time again. 

My Mom made this in a 9 x 13 pan and doubled the recipe. I am going to give you the recipe for a 9" pie pan. This dessert does go a long ways. This PIE could be made the day before. It could be covered with the topping even several hours before your event. The original recipe calls for a homemade pie dough. Mom likes to use a graham cracker crust. It does not break down so fast and is just perfect for Florida or anywhere you call home. It is up to you. Today I am posting a graham cracker crust recipe.

Icebox Strawberry Pie
original recipe for America's Test Kitchen
Adapted by my Mom
1 cellophane package of graham crackers, crushed
4 ounces (1/2 stick) butter, melted

Filling and Topping
2 pounds strawberries (7 cups)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
1 cup granulated sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 pound strawberries (3 cups), hulled and sliced thin
4 ounces Cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream

For the pie crust
Preheat your oven at 350 degrees. 
Crush the graham crackers. Add melted butter and mix completely. Pour into a 9 inch pie pan. Using your fingers and hands, press the graham cracker mixture into your pie plate until smooth. Bake in oven for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and let complete cool.

For the filling and topping
Cook the 7 cups of strawberries in a large saucepan over medium low heat until they begin to release their juices. About 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium high and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is thick and jamlike. It should measure 2 cups, this takes about 25 minutes

Combine lemon juice and water in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over lemon juice mixture and let sit for 5 minutes until the gelatin softens. Stir 1 cup of sugar, salt, gelatin mixture into cooked strawberry mixture and return to simmer, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool for 30 minutes.

Fold fresh strawberries into filling and spread evenly into cooled pie crust. Cover pie with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set. at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, mix cream cheese, vanilla extract and 3 tablespoons of sugar on medium speed until smooth.  About 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add cream and whip until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes. Spread over the top of your set up strawberry pie. Decorate with additional strawberries if you want. 

My Mother did not want ANY one in Florida 
to not know it was my Birthday. 

The original pie was not photograph before cutting...

It was beautifully decorated and served perfectly
Additional strawberries fanned over the top.
AND Candles if you want

Is that just a perfect dessert.
Cut beautiful and easy to serve

I really liked how it set up. 
You could serve this at a casual gathering or
Pre-plate it for a more formal occasion

This is what the caught on the beach one day...

They call this a Lemon Shark...
I call it never going into the water again

My Mom and I in front of this large gardenia bush.

And this is how you end a wonderful vacation..