25 February 2009

Pie Crust

Everyone needs a good pie crust recipe! There are so many meals that can be made using pie crust. :-)

Pie Crust

For a 9-inch single-crust pie:
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, divided
½ teaspoon salt
2 ½ tablespoons ice water
½ cup Crisco© or other good shortening
For a 9-inch double- or lattice-crust, just double this recipe.

Preheat oven to temperature for pie recipe.

Put the Crisco in a medium bowl. Over it, pour 1 cup of the flour and the salt, reserving 1/4 cup flour. With your pastry blender (some old timers use a fork), cut the flour and salt into the Crisco until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Combine the reserved 1/4 cup of flour with the 2-1/2 tablespoons ice water (estimate, or, if you must be exact, a half tablespoon equals 1-1/2 teaspoons) in a cup to make a smooth paste. Pour the paste over the pastry mixture and continue cutting in with the pastry blender until incorporated. Remember, the less you work the dough, the lighter and flakier the pastry.

Form the pastry into a ball, flatten and roll between sheets of waxed paper (you may see little veins of Crisco here and there, but that's okay) to a thickness of about 1/8 inch and 1-1/2 to 2 inches wider than the pie plate.

Peel off the top piece of waxed paper, invert a 9-inch pie plate on dough surface, and turn the sheet of dough and the pie plate over. Center the dough on pie plate, if necessary, and peel off the second sheet of waxed paper (tear off in pieces, if you like). Fit the dough into the pie plate without stretching it. If the dough tears a little, just pinch it back together.)

Trim the dough to overhang the edge of the pie plate by about 1-1/4 inches, then turn under to make an edge. You can put a fancy crimp in the edge at this point, if you wish.

Pre-Baked Pie Shells:
For a pre-baked pie shell, prick bottom and sides of pastry with a fork to avoid bubbles developing, and bake in a 425°F oven for 10 to 12 minutes until the crust is lightly browned.

19 February 2009

Chocolate Mints

I posted the recipe for this on my own blog last night. Since I used photos, I decided to just post the link. MMMM.

18 February 2009

I need someone to make this...

Was flipping channels one day and caught a portion of a PBS program called Cooks Country where they were making these potatoes. I tracked down the recipe on line but haven't 1. got enough mouths to feed to accommodate the recipe and 2. haven't found the time to even think about it yet. IF anyone decides to make this would you let me know how it comes out! Thanks! Beth



4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2 cup half and half cream
11/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
12 tablespoons unsalted butter ( or 1.5 sticks) cut into pieces
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons salt
4 large eggs
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives


1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Bring potatoes and water to cover by 1 inch to boil in large pot over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

2. Heat half-and-half, broth, butter, garlic, mustard, and salt in saucepan over medium-low heat until smooth, about 5 minutes. Keep warm.

3. Drain potatoes and transfer to large bowl. With electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat potatoes, slowly adding half-and-half mixture, until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Scrape down bowl; beat in eggs 1 at a time until incorporated, about 1 minute. Fold in chives.

4. Transfer potato mixture to greased 2-quart baking dish or a 13 x 9 inch pan. The potatoes will look very soupy when they are poured into the casserole dish. They will firm up and rise in the oven. For better browning and and impressive presentation, use a fork to make a peaked design on the top of the casserole. Bake until potatoes rise and begin to brown, about 35 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes. Serve.

5. Make Ahead: The baking dish with the potatoes can be covered with plastic and refrigerated for up to 24 hours. When ready to bake, let the casserole sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Increase baking time by 10 minutes.

16 February 2009

herbed chicken breast

This was a new way of doing chicken for me - 12 of 50. It was good the next day cut into thin slices and put on a sandwich.

4 chicken breasts

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp sage
1/4 tsp marjoram
a few drops of hot sauce (I used a little bit of red chili flakes for the hotness since I didn't have any hot sauce)

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Stab the chicken breasts with a fork so the marinade can get into the meat a bit deeper. Coat the chicken with the olive oil marinade - you can let it sit for an hour or 2 (or the whole day while you're at work - it doesn't much matter), or you can cook it right away. It's up to you and your time frame.

Bake at 425 for 35-45 minutes.

The chicken I used was very thick so I doubled the marinade and had to bake them a little longer to get them cooked all the way through.

When done, sprinkle with parsley. We served it with plain pasta (with olive oil, parmesan cheese, and parsley on it) and steamed broccoli.

chocolate frosting

I made cupcakes for a church function last week, and all I had in the cupboard was a white/vanilla cake mix. I thought it would be best with chocolate frosting, and here's the recipe I located somewhere online, with my addition of A LOT more sugar!

3 tablespoons butter - heat on low on the stove in a small saucepan until totally melted.

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder - when you add the cocoa powder to the butter, turn the heat off on the stove, then add the rest of the ingredients.

2 tablespoons milk
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Once you have that all stirred together, keep adding powdered sugar about a half-cup at a time until you have it to the sweetness and consistency that you want. I added probably 3 or 4 more cups of sugar total.

Then you have to move pretty fast to get your cake frosted before the frosting stiffens up too much. The last few cupcakes I did, the frosting wasn't spreading very well and was starting to tear the cake.

11 of 50, the first new thing for February.

11 February 2009

rice and peas

Number 10 of 50, and I actually made this in January. So in one month, I was already 20% done. Yay!

1 tbl olive oil
4 tbl butter
4 strips of bacon or pancetta, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
6 cups hot chicken broth - I used chicken bullion to make the broth
1 3/4 cups rice - the original recipe calls for risotto, I used regular medium grain
3 tbl parsley
2 cups frozen or canned peas
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1. Heat the oil and half the butter in a (very) large pan on low heat. Cook the bacon and onion until the onion is translucent.

2. Add the broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Stir in the rice and season to taste with pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Simmer, stir occasionally, until rice is starting to get soft. Takes 20-30 min.

3. Add parsley and peas, continue cooking until peas are hot and liquid is mostly gone from the pan.

4. To finish, stir in 2nd half of butter and the Parm.


We originally got this recipe off AllRecipes, but altered it a bit. This is our version. Adam makes these so frequently that we have the recipe on cardstock and taped to the inside of the kitchen cupboard. I finally made them myself a couple of weeks ago, so it's #9 of 50.

1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 regular sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Sift the dry ingredients together.

2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons melted butter

Mix the wet ingredients together, then combine wet and dry ingredients.

Butter the skillet between each crepe. Pour a small amount of batter into pan, then pick up pan and swirl it around so the crepe is very thin. When ready to flip it, pick up the pan and shake it to loosen the crepe from the pan before lifting it with the spatula.

Top with whipped cream and diced fruit. Our favorites are strawberries and blueberries, OR very tiny diced apples heated in a saucepan with cinnamon and sugar.

07 February 2009

Ground Beef T-Bones

So, I found this recipe in one of my mothers old recipe books and LOVE it. I am sure it is the soy sauce! We usually double this because we love it so much.

Oh, and I always use Kokkimon soy sauce because it does not have anything crazy added, and it makes it taste so much better!

1 lb ground beef
1/4 cup dice onion
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup soy sauce

Mix all ingredients together. Form into 4 patties. Broil each side at least 5 minutes, or until done.

Serve with whatever side you want.

06 February 2009

Creamy Pumpkin Tart

I know this will be a long post, and a lot of effort, but its so good it is totally worth the effort. Absolutely fabulous!


Butter Cookie Dough (1 disk, at cool room temperature) - see following recipe
2 Eggs
¾ cup Dark Brown Sugar (6oz/185g) firmly packed
2/3 cup (5 fl oz/160 ml) heavy (double) cream
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons Ground ginger
¼ teaspoon Salt (kosher preferably)
1 can (15oz/470 g) Pumpkin Puree
Whipped cream for serving

Serves 8

1. Partially bake the crust
Put the dough disk between 2 large sheets of parchment paper and roll out into 12-inch (30 cm) round ¼ inch (6 mm) thick. Fold the dough round in half and transfer to a 10-1/4 inch (26 mm) tart pan with a removable bottom. Unfold the round and ease into the pan, patting it firmly into the bottom and up the sides. Trim the edges to form a ½ inch (12 mm) overhang. Fold the overhang back over itself and press it into the sides of the pan. Freeze for at least 30 minutes but preferably overnight. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (190 C). Line the crust with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights, place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and continue to bake until set and lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees (180 C).

2. Make the filing
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in the cream, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and salt until smooth, about 1 minute. Whisk in the pumpkin until blended. Pour the filing into the partially baked crust.

3. Bake the tart
Bake until the filling looks set when you give the pan a gentle shake, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack until the top feels cool to the touch, about 1 hour. Remove the tart from the pan. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate until cold. Cut the tart into wedges and serve each wedge topped with whipped cream, if desired.


3 cups All Purpose flour
2 ½ cups Cake flour
1 ½ tsp salt (kosher preferred)
2 ¼ cups unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract

1. Make the dough
Sift together the all-purpose flour and cake flours and the salt into a bowl. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on low speed, beat together the butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the flour mix and mix just until a moist dough forms. Form the dough into three equal disks and wrap separately in plastic wrap. Chill 1 disk until firm, about 45 minutes, and store the remaining 2 disks for future use.

Storage Tip
You may store the dough disks, wrapped tightly in plastic, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or in the freezer for up to 1 month. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and soften at room temperature. You may also roll out a disk, line a tart or pie pan, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight, or freeze for up to 1 month. It can go directly from the freezer to the oven.


With the extra dough you can make BUTTER COOKIES

The only extra ingredient you need is 8oz Semi-sweet chocolate chips
Make about 30 cookies

1. Cut out the cookies
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out 1 dough disk ¼ inch (6 mm) inch thick. Using a 2-inch (5 cm) round cookie cutter, cut out the cookies. Transfer them to the prepared sheets, spacing them about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart.

2. Bake the cookies
Bake until the cookies are golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate at 10-second intervals in the microwave until smooth and melted, stirring often. Dip one half of each cookie into the chocolate and return to the rack, allowing the chocolate to set. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.


If you want to use the third disk, you can also make LEMON TART WITH RASBERRIES

Butter Cookie Dough (1 disk, at cool room temperature)
2 Eggs
2/3 Cup (5oz/155g) sugar
12 oz (375 g) Cream cheese, at room temperature
½ cup (4 oz/125 g) Sour Cream
2 teaspoons, finely grated Lemon zest
Lemon juice, from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
1 carton (about 6 oz/185g) Raspberries

1. Partially bake the crust
Put the dough disk between 2 large sheets of parchment paper and roll out into 12-inch (30 cm) round ¼ inch (6 mm) thick. Fold the dough round in half and transfer to a 10-1/4 inch (26 mm) tart pan with a removable bottom. Unfold the round and ease into the pan, patting it firmly into the bottom and up the sides. Trim the edges to form a ½ inch (12 mm) overhang. Fold the overhang back over itself and press it into the sides of the pan. Freeze for at least 30 minutes but preferably overnight. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (190 C). Line the crust with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights, place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and continue to bake until set and lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees (180 C).

2. Mix the filing
In a food processor, combine the eggs and sugar and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the cream cheese, pulse to break it up, and then process until smooth, about 15 seconds. Add the sour cream, lemon zest and juice, flour, and vanilla, and process until just smooth, about 20 seconds. Pour the filing into the partially baked crust.

3. Bake the tart
Bake until the top looks firm and is set when you gently shake the pan, about 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, about 1 hour. Remove the tart from pan. Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight. Spoon the raspberries on top of the tart just before serving.


*also, this dough makes great basic sugar cookies for kids to cut out with cutters and decorate. Holds up to a lot - like birthday parties (we've had lots of experience with it).

Soft Pretzels

Homemade Soft Pretzels

(Alton Brown recipe – made it tonight with my kids. So much fun)

1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt

· Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
· Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
· Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
· In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.
· Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.

05 February 2009

Sweet and Sour Chicken

3/4 cup sugar
4 Tbsp ketchup
½ cup vinegar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire or soy sauce
1 garlic clove, minced

You may want to double this portion...I do when the chicken breasts are large. Mix together and set aside.

5-6 chicken breasts
1 egg

Cut up chicken into cubes, coat with egg and then coat with cornstarch. You will use a lot of cornstarch. Add oil to frying pan ½” deep, heat and cook chicken until cornstarch is light brown. Transfer to baking dish, then add sauce. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Serve with rice or mashed potatoes.

02 February 2009


Adam and I get a kick out of the movie "Ratatouille" (Lauren, give it back!) so when I came across a recipe for it, I of course had to try it out. I made this last winter. I'd make some alterations to the quantities because this made A LOT. It took us almost a week to eat it all, and we were totally sick of it by the end. So either invite someone to dinner when you have this, or cut the quantities.

The thing that takes the longest is the chopping. Once everything was cooking, it went pretty fast.

Chop up the following ingredients:
1 medium onion (small dice)
1 garlic clove
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 medium eggplant
2 zucchini (thin slices)

6 to 8 potatoes in bite-size pieces - boil separately from all other ingredients until soft, drain, set aside.

Start cooking the onion, garlic, and bell peppers in a (very) large skillet or saucepan.

Add to saucepan:
2 14-oz cans of chopped tomatoes - do not drain,
1 can tomato paste
salt and pepper
parsley, thyme, oregano, savory - no measurements on the herbs, do according to taste (or smell).

Cook this COVERED for 5 minutes, stir, cook covered for another 5 minutes.

Add the eggplant and zucchini and cook for another 10 minutes, this time UNcovered, until the vegetables are soft the way you like them. Shorten the time a little if you like them more firm.

Once everything is cooked, put the mixed vegetables in a big flat baking dish. Put the potatoes in a layer on top, then put cheese over the top.

Put under the broiler for about 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

If you want, you can add chives over the very top after it comes out of the broiler.

I know things get added in a random sequence, so let me know if any of this was not clear. Like I said, use very large dishes with this. The thing that takes the most time is the chopping. Once it's all cooking, it goes very fast.