Banana Pudding Pie

Banana Pudding Pie

Before my wife Molly and I even started dating, we discovered we share a love for reading Carolina Country magazine, a monthly publication of North Carolina’s electric cooperatives. Since we married we’ve looked forward to receiving the latest magazine each month from our parents, who are members of a cooperative while we are not. We settle side by side into the couch and spend 30 minutes to an hour digesting the entire magazine.

Each magazine’s back page shares a set of recipes, many of which we’ve tried and saved in our personal collection. We recently read about this Banana Pudding Pie recipe in Carolina Country and knew we had to try it!

The buttery vanilla wafer crust, which we’ve tried on another pie or two, is a delicious take on the more common Graham cracker crust. The filling is rich and flavorful on top of the layer of bananas. And the whipped cream and crushed wafer topping sets this particular pie off right!

Banana pudding is a staple of American South desserts. When you take a pudding to a gathering, it can get quite messy as family members and friends dip into the dish and dig out servings. This pie is a nice way to control the mess and consolidate a serving into a slice. To take that a step further, we recently made this recipe and modified it to fit mini pies, one of which is pictured above.

As a #FoodieScore Pro Tip in that direction, just make the recipe with the quantities listed in the original, but use small pie tins instead of a full-size pie plate and divide your crust, filling and topping mixtures.

Any way you make it, this Banana Pudding Pie is delicious!

 

Banana Pudding Pie

Ingredients

Crust

2 cups crushed vanilla wafer cookies

6 tablespoons butter, melted

1/8 teaspoon salt

Filling

3 medium bananas, thinly sliced

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups milk

4 large egg yolks

4 tablespoons butter, cubed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping

Whipped cream

While vanilla wafer cookies

Crushed vanilla wafers for sprinkling

 

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir together crushed vanilla wafer cookies, butter and salt. Press mixture into pie plate or mini pie tins to cover bottom and up sides. Bake until light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to let cool.

2. Place sliced bananas on top of cooled crust(s). Set aside.

3. In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in milk and egg yolks until combined. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in butter and vanilla.

4. Spoon filling mixture over bananas in crust(s). Let cool 10 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap directly on surface of filling and refrigerate until firm, about 2 to 3 hours.

5. Spread whipped cream atop filling and garnish with whole cookies around edges and crumbs on top.

Sweet & Salty Atlantic Beach Pie

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Let’s just save the suspense on this one. This is the best lemon pie I’ve ever eaten.

Now that we’ve got that bite of bold honesty out of the way, let’s back it up with my qualifications for making the claim.

I’ve eaten a lot of lemon pie. My mom loves lemon pie. So did her dad. My wife Molly loves lemon pie, too. So does her dad. Infinite opportunities, by my count, have presented themselves to my mouth for lemon pie consumption.

We learned about Atlantic Beach Pie while visiting the fabulous small food city Chapel Hill, N.C. Locals tout the legendary and unique flavor of the Atlantic Beach Pie, made from a recipe always credited to Bill Smith, at local restaurant Crook’s Corner. (Why does he make it this way, and why is it called Atlantic Beach Pie? Here are your answers.)

No matter how much we tried, we couldn’t get the pie, and the opportunity to make our own at home, out of our heads. Then the recipe for Atlantic Beach Pie showed up in a copy of Carolina Country, a magazine we devour together each month it’s released by North Carolina’s energy cooperatives.

So we made it, just like Bill Smith does at Crook’s Corner. I don’t know if it stacks up to his or the pies served up in the restaurant, but the flavor and texture in ours were extraordinary. The filling was smooth, slightly tart and perfectly sweet. The crust was crackly, slightly salty and very buttery.

As if that wasn’t enough proof to support my argument that Atlantic Beach Pie is the best lemon pie, the popular Our State magazine included Atlantic Beach Pie in its February 2018 cover feature on The Legendary & Landmark Pies of North Carolina. And a slice of Bill Smith’s Crook’s Corner creation adorned the very cover of the edition.

Can you see by now that you must make this pie, no matter where you live but especially if you’re a North Carolinian? When you try it, let us know what you think! Is it the best lemon pie?

Here’s the recipe, with complete and praiseworthy credit to Bill Smith. (If you Google “Atlantic Beach Pie,” his name will be attached to most all of the search results anyways, and rightly so!)

Atlantic Beach Pie

Ingredients

1 ½ sleeves saltine crackers

1/3 to 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

3 tablespoons sugar

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

4 egg yolks

1/2 cup lemon or lime juice, or a mix of the two

Fresh whipped cream and coarse sea salt for garnish

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Crush the crackers finely, but not to dust. You can use a food processor or your hands.

3. Add the sugar, then knead in the butter until the crumbs hold together like dough.

4. Press into an 8-inch pie pan.

5. Chill for 15 minutes, then bake for 18 minutes or until the crust colors a little.

6. While the crust is cooling (it doesn’t need to be cold), beat the egg yolks into the milk, then beat in the citrus juice. It is important to completely combine these ingredients.

7. Pour into the pie crust and bake for 16 minutes, until the filling has set.

8. The pie needs to be completely cold to be sliced.

9. Serve with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkling of sea salt.

Fresh & Fluffy Sun Drop Pound Cake

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When you’re a kid growing up in the American South, you have the opportunity to contribute to shelves full of cookbooks. Your schools, churches, civic organizations and other community groups constantly compile and release volumes of recipes. At least that was true back in the 1980s and 1990s when I navigated grade school in western North Carolina.

Recently my mom introduced my wife Molly to a “Springfield Specialties” cookbook produced by my first elementary school, Springfield in Stanley, N.C. Children and their parents submitted recipes for the book, which was accompanied by student drawings of food and kitchen implements.

Cookbook Cover

Molly gravitated to the dessert sections of the cookbook, and she ultimately landed on a Sun Drop Pound Cake to make and sample first. Sun Drop has always been somewhat of a preferred drink on both sides of our family, particularly for our dads, so it seemed a natural choice to bake into a cake.

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Here’s the Sun Drop Pound Cake recipe, straight from the book:

Sun Drop Cake Recipe

We discovered that the Sun Drop flavor is actually pretty subtle in this recipe. The impact of the cake flour it recommends is much more profound! Molly and I had neither one baked with cake flour previously, and we learned in this experiment that it produces a fluffy, spongy cake that is quite delightful in texture and flavor, much different than the result of regular baking flour options!

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Our small town grocery stores didn’t offer many options for cake flour, so you might have to look closely or ask what’s available. I found this box hiding on a top shelf, the only one of its kind.

Adding the glaze over the hot cake leads to a very sweet, satisfying confection that we recommend you sample as soon as you make it for the best experience possible! We also found that, like many pound cakes, this Sun Drop Pound Cake pairs quite nicely with your favorite vanilla ice cream for an extra special treat.

As a #FoodieScore Pro Tip I learned from my parents during my childhood, you can rejuvenate slices of cake after it’s several days old by cutting hunks and toasting them lightly in a toaster oven or conventional oven. A slightly browned piece of pound cake with freshly and slightly melted icing is a nice surprise when you expect it to become much drier as it sits. The method really preserves cake nicely!

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Thank you to my elementary schoolmate Marinda Teague and her family for sharing the recipe all those years ago. When the Springfield cookbook debuted in 1991, my wife had just been born. The experience of baking the cake together is a reminder of the timeless beauty of cookbooks, family and community recipes, and food that connects generations of people.

Foodie Travels: Wake N Bake Donuts, Wilmington, N.C.

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When we travel, we intensely scout restaurants for weeks in advance. That means when we arrive in a new place, we already know the top-ranked dining spots on sites like Thrillist, Trip Advisor, Yelp and Buzzfeed. We also know which restaurants are trafficked more by locals than tourists, the hours the shops are open and which ones serve the can’t-miss dishes that are iconic to the local dining scene. (As a little pro tip to all of the disappointed eaters out there: This strategy can help you improve your satisfaction with restaurants because you won’t leave your meal or snack selections up to chance at the last minute.)

But sometimes good eats sneak up on us, and that was the case with Wake N Bake Donuts in Wilmington, North Carolina. We had already had brunch on a Thursday and were walking through downtown to visit a few shops, planning to wait until dinner to eat again. That’s when we rounded a corner and Molly spotted donuts in a store windowfront. This half-dozen box had maple bacon, chocolate peanut butter cup, a chocolate-iced with potato chips and other amazing-looking donuts. We looked up and saw the sign, and you know from there we had to head inside.

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We were instantly greeted by the donut counter with a couple dozen creative options. There was a cotton candy donut, donuts with fruity cereals, an espresso donut, and the list goes on. As we game-planned on how many treats to try and which choices to make, we learned that Wake N Bake is not just the quiet little shop we thought we stumbled upon. This place won Cooking Channel’s “Donut Showdown” AND Buzzfeed made it North Carolina’s featured spot on its “Best Donut Shop in Your State” list. We’d uncovered a sweet gold mine and the rush was on to decide which treats to experience.

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Molly indulged in a Reese’s-style donut, rich with the creamy flavors of both peanut butter and chocolate. I decided to test out the “Donut Showdown”-winning entry, a maple cream cheese-glazed donut with candied walnuts and a blueberry compote. It was like the donut gods had created this prize just for me, as anyone who knows me well is aware that I love walnuts and blueberries.

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Wake N Bake wowed us so much with creative, rich donuts that are now among our favorites anywhere. (We took our donuts to the car and devoured them before heading to our next destination, because there’s not really any seating in the shop. We had to take a couple extra donuts with us for the road.) The shop also reminded these plan-ahead foodies to always keep our eyes open for delicious surprises. As much as we study a city ahead of time, there are always new experiences to unwrap on the travel menu!

Wake N Bake, 114 Princess St., Wilmington, N.C. (There’s also a location in Carolina Beach, N.C., at 1401 North Lake Park Boulevard, Suite 46.)

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#FoodieScore Recommends: Cleveland County (N.C.) Eats!

In Shelby, N.C., for the American Legion World Series baseball tournament? You’re sure to get hungry after all that baseball! Well, Shelby-based blog #FoodieScore’s got you covered with great local recommendations for where to eat while you’re here in Cleveland County, N.C. This list is just a small sampling of our favorite spots, and it is by no means a full list of all the amazing restaurants our county has to offer. We hope you enjoy!

Red Bridges BBQ

BBQ

Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge, 2000 E. Dixon Blvd., Shelby

Red Bridges is arguably one of the most popular barbecue joints in our area, as it is a two-time national award winner for barbecue. It has won Thrillist’s “Best BBQ in America” March Madness bracket competition, as well as the Garden and Gun Ultimate Barbecue Bracket. We won’t waste any more your time on reading, other than to tell you this barbecue is worth the acclaim.

Alston Bridges Barbecue, 620 E. Grover St., Shelby 

Alston Bridges offers up fast service and fantastic barbecue on the northern side of Shelby. This place has a ton of regulars that you can see filling up the parking lot at all hours of the day. (It is not affiliated with Red Bridges across town.) Its barbecue is more vinegar-based and less sauce-focused, which gives it a completely different flavor and a wonderful texture.

The Flying Pig, 901 College Ave., Shelby/Boiling Springs

Matthew is a huge fan of the barbecue (and the friendly staff!) at Flying Pig. It’s a little more off the beaten path, a true old-fashioned barbecue joint. The Q is delicious and Flying Pig offers three different barbecue sauces for your fancy.

Jammin J's

Pepperoni pizza from Jammin J’s Pizza Factory.

Pizza & Italian

Jammin J’s Pizza Factory, 1011 Grove St., Shelby

Jammin J’s is our personal favorite for delicious, inexpensive, endless pizza. Did we say endless? Jammin J’s offers buffet pizza with a range of flavors. They’ll ask when you come in what kind you’d like and immediately get it started for you. (Molly always asks for bacon, tomato, mushroom.) A few favorites are fiesta chicken and livermush pizza. (Livermush is a Southern specialty made from similar ingredients as sausage, but it has cornmeal mixed in, so the texture is a little different.) You won’t break the bank at Jammin J’s either, which is another reason it’s one of our favorites.

Pleasant City Wood Fired Grille, 233 S. Lafayette St., Shelby

You usually see wood-fired pizza grilles in larger cities, and they’re usually part of a chain. Not so here. Pleasant City is a local delight that many in our county can’t get enough of. Their pizza and beer game is strong, and it’s a great local hangout.

Toscanos Bistro, 5 E. Marion St., Shelby

If you’re looking for an Italian option, the relatively new Toscano’s is a great pick. Their pita gyros are delicious and fresh, their pizza is amazing, and their pasta plates are quite tasty.

Shelby Cafe

Cheeseburger and fries at Shelby Cafe.

American

Shelby Cafe, 220 S. Lafayette St., Shelby

You can’t come to Shelby without going to the Shelby Café. Their menu says it best: “Home Cooking Since 1922.” One of Molly’s personal favorite dishes: the Mayor’s Special, a pita bread breakfast burrito with eggs, cheese, and livermush.

Snack Shop Family Restaurant, 103 S. Main St., Boiling Springs

A great diner option near Gardner-Webb University, the Snack Shop is a near-daily favorite for many locals in Boiling Springs. They have excellent home-style food, as well as diner food such as burgers, hotdogs, and milkshakes.

238 Cherokee Grill, 222 S. Railroad Ave., Kings Mountain

One of the best restaurants around if you’re looking for something a little more fancy. Cherokee has wonderful steaks, Greek chicken dishes, killer sandwiches, delicious desserts, and more. They also have a well-stocked bar area.

The Local Market, 4629 Fallston Rd., Fallston

If you’re looking for farm to table in Cleveland County, look no further. The Local Market’s burgers and chicken dishes are fabulous, and the locals rave about their cheese curds made from locally-sourced cheese. It’s in an old house, which houses both the restaurant and a gift shop with tons of local goods.

Sweet House Bakery

Coconut Cream Cupcake at Sweet House Bakery

Coffee & Dessert

Sweet House Bakery, 304 E. Kings St., Kings Mountain

Sweet House has a delectable assortment of cupcakes (filled, iced, however you like), cookies, and dessert bars. It’s Molly’s go-to place for dessert anywhere in Cleveland County.

Uptown Sweets & Treats, 221 S. Lafayette St., Shelby

Uptown offers not only cool, refreshing frozen yogurt, they also sell local donuts made by Forest City-based Davis Donuts. We hear they also have some pretty tasty gourmet popcorn, although we haven’t laid our hands on it yet.

Swooger’s, 1016 Shelby Rd., Kings Mountain

Want to enjoy a fantastic, fresh-scooped milkshake in a retro, 1950s-themed diner? Swooger’s is your place. They also have great diner food, including a solid cheeseburger.

Hannah’s Coffee House, 1024 E. Marion St., Shelby

This coffee shop situated in a quiet area of Marion Street is the perfect place for a variety of sweet treats, as well as great coffee. The service is impeccable! You can also pull up a few chairs and play Scrabble if you like.

Broad River Co., 105 S. Main St., Boiling Springs

Over in college-town Boiling Springs, Broad River is everything you can ask for in a coffee shop. It has plenty of space and little nooks for studying, reading, relaxing, listening to music, or hanging with friends. They offer bagels and sweet treats, in addition to coffee and mouthwatering smoothies.