Friday, November 23, 2007

Apple Pie #1

I made two apple pies for Thanksgiving dessert this year - this one with a pastry bottom and top and one with a pastry bottom and cobbler-style top. Here is the pastry one. It was very tasty :) Apple pie is best if you leave it until the next day to eat it (and it makes great leftovers!) I served this with home-made vanilla ice-cream as a Thanksgiving dessert.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled, cut up
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup to 1/2 cup ice water

1. Place all ingredients (except water) in a large bowl. Crumble together with your fingers until you have some pea-sized pieces of dough along with coarse crumbs. Add 1/3 cup water; knead just until dough begins to form, adding additional water 1 tsp. at a time if necessary.

2. Divide dough in half; shape each half into a flat round. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 20-30 minutes.

3. Lightly flour a work surface and roll one piece of dough into a 13-inch round (I can never made perfect circles..!) Gently line a 9-inch pie pan with the dough. Trim dough along the edge of the pan. Leave the second piece of dough in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 large Granny Smith apples
3 large McIntosh apples
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
3/4 cup plus 1 tbsp. granulated sugar (I wonder if light brown sugar would taste good as a substitute...?)
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
1. Peel, core, and quarter the apples. Cut the quarters into bite-sized pieces and toss apple pieces with the lemon juice and zest. In a medium bowl, mix 3/4 cup of the sugar, the flour, spices, and salt. Toss the dry ingredients with the apples. Turn the fruit mixture, including juices, into the pie shell and mound the fruit slightly in the center.

2. Roll out the second piece of dough to a 12-inch circle; place it over the filling. Trim the edges of the top and bottom dough layers to 1/2 inch beyond the pan lip. Flute the edge or press with the tines of a fork to seal. Cut 4 slits in the dough top. Brush the pastry with a little milk and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tbsp. sugar.

3. Place the pie plate on a baking sheet and bake until the top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Rotate the pie from front to back and continue baking until the juices bubble and the crust is a deep golden brown.

4. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

The filling recipe is the "Classic Apple Pie" recipe from Baking Illustrated. The pastry recipe is "Perfect Pie Pastry" from the October/November 2007 issue of Cooking Pleasures magazine.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thanksgiving Menu

I volunteered to host Thanksgiving this year and I'm actually really excited about it. I actually *want* to go grocery shopping for the first time in my life! lol There will only be 7 or 8 of us which is nice - not too stressful! We'll have my parents, my younger brother, my in-laws, possibly my sister-in-law, and my husband and myself. Good thing we bought a new dining room table earlier this year! :)

Here's what I'm planning:
*Veggies and dip.
*I *might* make a shrimp cocktail but looking at the rest of my menu, I really don't think I'll need it!

*Turkey (obviously)
*Two types of stuffing - one hybrid one I'm sort of making up as I go along (regular bread + cornbread, celery/onion, sage, chicken-apple sausage, and dried cranberries) and one plain/boring one with just the two breads, celery, onion, sage, thyme. The boring one will be stuffed in the bird; my hybrid one will be used as a dressing.
*Cranberry sauce.
*Apple sauce.
*Sweet potato and orange swirls (some recipe my dad has... I'll have to either get it from him or have him make them).
*Roasted potatoes (my mom will make these).
*Mashed potatoes.
*Brussels sprouts - seasoned with herbs and sauteed. They are so yummy!
*Green beans amandine.
*Carrots with a brown sugar glaze.

*Apple pie - regular crust-topped pie plus a Dutch apple pie for my husband.
*My mom will make a pumpkin pie for my brother/anyone else who eats that (I personally think it's vile).
*Home-made vanilla ice-cream.

Menu for November 17-24

Saturday 11/17 - Saucy Parmesan Chicken, broccoli, spaghetti, homemade marinara

Sunday 11/18 - Baked pasta with sausage, tomatoes, cheese. We'll probably have a salad on the side.

Monday 11/19 - Broiled chicken with sesame-ginger glaze, rice.

Tuesday 11/20 - Oven-fried chicken, cornbread muffins, green beans.

Wednesday 11/21 - Taco night!

Thursday 11/22 - Thanksgiving! :) I'm hosting so the menu will be coming soon.

Friday 11/23 - Turkey chili, cornbread, salad.

Saturday 11/24 - Margarita salmon, salad.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Pasta alla Puttanesca

So I suppose I should start by telling you what the name of this sauce translates into - pasta with harlot's sauce. You know anything with a name like that just has to be good ;)
I actually tried this for the first time at a church leadership camp a couple years ago... why my church considers me fit for church leadership is a whole other issue! ;) We go up to this great little mountain town where there is a camp that is pretty much self-sustaining. It's really a wonderful place (sadly, this camp was very badly damaged during a wild fire in late September). Anyway, the food there is just amazing - they grow all their own vegetables and it's all organic/fertilized with compost the staff makes. Anyway, I thought it was so funny when they told us what the name of this sauce meant. I remembered the translation but knew I'd never find "Harlot's Sauce" in a recipe book! lol Finally found this in one of my books and had to make it. So tasty!

The original recipe called for anchovies but I left those out since I wanted this to be vegetarian. I also halved the amount of red pepper flakes that I used since the original recipe's 1/2 tsp. made this a bit too much on the hot side!
This probably should be served with spaghetti but I didn't have any (have to break out the pasta makers!) so I just used whole wheat fussili instead.

This is a really fast dinner - perfect for week nights. It took me less than 45 minutes start to finish.

Serves 4

2 1/2 cups canned tomatoes with juice
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, crushed
3 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. dried marjoram
4 tbsp. black olives, pitted and sliced
4 tbsp. green olives, pitted and sliced
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
4 tbsp. small capers, drained
salt to taste if needed
spaghetti or other pasta

1. Combine the olive oil and garlic in a large skillet. Place over medium-low heat and saute gently until garlic softens - about 3 minutes.

2. Add the parsley and marjoram and saute gently, just until the herbs release their aroma, about 30 seconds.

3. Add the tomatoes (with the juice), olives, red pepper flakes, and capers. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Check for salt and add if needed.
Cook pasta according to package directions during this step.

I topped mine with a little grated Parmesan just to mellow out the red pepper flakes! It's vegan and dairy-free if you leave off the cheese (obviously!)

I found the original recipe in a Pasta Recipes and Techniques book I got from the Cooking Club of America (of which I am a member).

Menu - Week of November 6-11

Tuesday - Pasta all Puttanesca, salad

Wednesday - Chicken enchiladas

Thursday - Chicken noodle soup

Friday - Spicy chicken and penne or broiled chicken with sesame-ginger glaze

Saturday - I will be out with one of my best friends so hubby is on his own for food...

Sunday - I think I'm going to attempt chicken pot pies!

Just Like Those Girl Scout Cookies...

I love anything citrus-y so when I found this recipe I had to try it! These were really yummy, but with 2.5 g sat fat per cookie (yes, per cookie!), they will be a once-in-a-while treat!

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar plus extra for garnish, divided
1 1/2 tsp. grated lemon peel
1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped almonds
1/4 tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Beat butter, 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, lemon peel, and lemon juice in a large bowl (or KA mixer) 3 minutes or until soft and creamy.

2. Combine flour, almonds, and salt in a medium bowl. Slowly beat into butter mixture.

3. Drop teaspoon-size rounds of dough onto baking sheets 1 inch apart. Bake 7-9 minutes or until light brown on bottom. Cool 5 minutes. Roll the cookies in 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar while still warm and then cool completely. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar before serving.

I found this in the April/May 2007 issue of Cooking Pleasures magazine.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Corn Bread Muffins

Like the baked beans below, this recipe came from the October 2007 issue of Cooking Light. These were great! They freeze well (up to 1 month) so I made a whole batch and have been serving them with different things over the last few weeks. If you freeze them, heat them through in the microwave/a warm oven - they taste even better warm!

Yield: 12 muffins

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tbsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (the sharper the cheese, the better the flavour!)
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
1/4 cup chopped onion (subbed for the original recipe's green onions)
1 (8 3/4 ounce) can cream-style corn
Dash of hot sauce
1 large egg, beaten
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Lightly spoon the flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and next four ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl. Combine cheese and remaining ingredients (except cooking spray) in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Add the cheese mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just moistened.

3. Coat the muffin pan with cooking spray. Divide batter evenly among the cups of the muffin pan. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in cups 2 minutes on wire rack; remove from pan. The recipe says to let them cool completely but they are so yummy served warm!

The original recipe can be found in the October 2007 issue of Cooking Light magazine. Corn Bread Bites.

Vegetarian Baked Beans

I'm usually a little disappointed in Cooking Light magazine - a lot of the things I've made from them are just so bland :( I picked up the October issue on a whim while waiting in line at the grocery store and boy am I glad I did! I read it while I was in a week-long conference for work in September (shhh!) and turned down the corner of so many pages - it was just chock full of recipes I had to try! I've already made several of them. This was one of my favorites. I just made one small adjustment to make the beans vegetarian since I don't eat pork products/I eat very little meat in general. If you'd like, you can add 4 slices of bacon to it - I'll put a link to the original recipe at the bottom. I wonder if soy bacon would work or if that would just be weird... probably best for me just to stick with my bacon-free version! ;)
Not sure if this is vegan or not - it has molasses which I'll have to ask my sister about... I'm pretty sure it's vegan-friendly!

This will make 10 servings.
Since I'm the only one in my house who will eat baked beans (can you believe my husband doesn't like them?! He doesn't know what he's missing!), I didn't make anywhere near that much!

1 pound dried navy beans
1 cup diced onion
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 minced jalapeno pepper
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper (I just used red pepper flakes)
5 cups water, divided
1 tsp. salt
Small amount of extra-virgin olive oil or other cooking oil

1. The night before you plan to make this, sort and wash your beans. Place them in a bowl or Dutch oven. Cover the beans with water to 2 inches above the beans. Cover the bowl and let them stand overnight or at least 8 hours. Drain.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

3. Pour a small drizzle of oil in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottom sauce pan; cook 5 minutes over medium heat or until the onion begins to brown. Stir often. Add the tomato paste; cook 2 minutes, stirring often. Add molasses, sugar, jalapeno, mustard, and red pepper; stir to combine. Stir in the beans and 4 cups of water. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring this mixture to a boil. Remove the beans from the heat.

4. If you are using an oven-safe Dutch oven, cover the pan and bake at 350 degrees for 3 hours. After 4 hours, stir in the additional 1 cup water. Cover and bake an additional 1 hour or until beans are tender and liquid is almost absorbed. Remove from the oven and stir in the salt.

5. If, like me, you either don't have a Dutch oven (or, in my case, you forget you own one!), you can transfer the beans from the sauce pan to a casserole dish. Follow the rest of the instructions as in step 4.

Obviously if you change the amounts in this recipe, you will also change the cooking time. Mine did not take 4 hours to cook since I only made about 4 servings worth.

These were really yummy served with BBQ chicken and corn bread. Hubby missed out... hee hee ;)

Here's the original recipe from Cooking Light October 2007.

Home made pasta

So I got a new toy for my birthday - the pasta roller and cutter attachments for my KitchenAid mixer! woo hoo! :) I made my first pasta - just a simple whole wheat fettuccine-style thing - a couple weeks ago (just getting back to updating this thing) and it was so yummy! Not sure I'll ever go back to the crappy store-bought stuff!

Here's the recipe I used - it's just the whole wheat pasta recipe from the little
booklet that came with the attachment set (another reason to love KitchenAid!)
I'd been warned by a few people that making pasta was a bit of a pain in the you-know-what... I really thought it was easy! I'll definitely be making more very soon!

4 large eggs
2 tbsp. water
3 1/2 cups sifted whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt

1. Place eggs, water, whole wheat flour, and salt in the mixer bowl. Attach bowl and flat beater. Turn to speed 2 and mix 30 seconds.

2. Exchange the flat beater for the dough hook (ooh! I get to use the dough hook!). Turn to speed 2 and knead 2 minutes. Remove dough from bowl and hand knead for 2 minutes. Divide dough into eight pieces before processing with Pasta Sheet Roller Attachment (the flat roller).

I had to add a little more water to mine since it was too dry and flaky - best to do this very gradually.

3. To cook, just add 2 tsp. salt and 1 tbsp. oil to boiling water. Gradually add pasta and continue to cook at a boil until pasta is al dente. Dry pasta will only take 7 minutes; fresh will take about 6 minutes.

I served this with a simple home-made marinara. I plan to try the spinach pasta recipe (no way my husband will touch that, though!) as well as some other "shapes" - I'd like to make some ravioli with it now that I've figured out how easy it is to do the basic stuff.