Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fried Ice Cream

Fried Ice Cream

After two recent disappointing encounters with fried ice cream at two different local Mexican restaurants, I decided the other day to take matters into my own hands. I've been meaning to do this for some time, and my craving for fried ice cream finally reached a fever pitch. I was compelled to do this, and today I am thankful that I both have the time and resources to do this for fun. 
I wouldn't say I've perfected this dish at all, but what you see above was infinitely more satisfying than the sad excuses I had at the restaurants--those tasted like they'd been fried days before I even got there. At any rate, this fried ice cream here is crisp on the outside, and very cold and vanilla-y on the inside. I used a vanilla bean ice cream, and I kind of think it might have been a mistake. I think I needed to go for a plain old vanilla ice cream to really get the taste I have in my mind of the perfect fried ice cream. I'll just have to try again sometime.
I'm glad I took a few minutes to make the whipped cream to go with this too. For some reason, it balanced the flavors of the coating and the sweetness of the vanilla ice cream. I don't know why exactly, but it completed the dish for me. For my first attempt at frying these yesterday, I made a little chocolate ganache to go on top, but it ended up soaking into the corn flake exterior and just didn't look appetizing. It tasted good, but it was not very attractive for the pics here.
So, there you go. My first (well, second) attempt at frying ice cream. Now when I get a craving for it, I know exactly what I need to do.

Fried Ice Cream


  • 1 quart vanilla ice cream
  • 2 1/2 cups corn flakes cereal
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • canola oil for frying
  • 2 flour tortillas
  • cinnamon sugar
  • whipped cream

The day before, scoop ice cream into balls, place on a wax-paper lined baking sheet, and freeze 2-6 hours, or until very firm. (Note: I used a large cookie scoop for this. Each scoop measured about 1/4 cup. I ended up with 8 ice cream balls.)
When ice cream balls are firm, start prepping the coating. Place beaten eggs in a shallow bowl/dish. Crush corn flakes cereal until you have smallish pieces, but not pulverized. Mix in the 5 tablespoons sugar and 1/2 to 1 teaspoons cinnamon (depending on your preference for cinnamon). Prepare another baking sheet by lining it with wax paper.
Working with one ice cream ball at a time, roll and press it into the corn flake mixture. Then roll it in the eggs to coat completely. Roll in the corn flake mixture again, making sure to press the coating into the sides to get a nice solid coating. Place coated balls on prepared baking sheet and freeze overnight, until hard--like rock hard. Repeat with remaining ice cream balls.
When coated ice cream balls are hard, leave in the freezer until ready to fry, and get the oil heated and cinnamon crispas made.
Place about 3 inches of canola oil in a medium pot (not any kind of shallow pan--a cooking pot). Heat oil on a burner set to medium-high heat. Prepare a plate by lining it with paper towels (this is for the crispas).
While oil heats, cut the tortillas for the crispas. I cut cute flower shapes today, but you can cut strips, or triangles--whatever works for you. Place a small tortilla scrap in the oil while it heats. When it starts to sizzle and brown, place another small piece in the oil. If it starts to sizzle right away, your oil is ready. Place a few tortillas in there to fry up golden-brown and crispy. Turn when edges are browned, and fry until deep golden brown. Remove to the paper towel lined plate and sprinkle immediately with cinnamon sugar, preferably on both sides. Repeat with remaining crispas.
Once crispas are fried, set them aside and start frying the ice cream, one ball at a time. Leave remaining ice cream balls in the freezer while they wait their turn.
Carefully place a frozen coated ice cream ball into the hot oil and fry for only about 12-15 seconds, turning with a slotted spoon to fry all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to drain momentarily before putting in a bowl to serve. Top with whipped cream and cinnamon crispa.
Repeat with remaining ice cream balls. 
(Note: I've left most in the freezer and fried a couple a day--the only problem with that is that some of the sugar and corn flakes have stuck to the bottom of the pan and have made ugly black flecks on my fried ice cream. I think my oil was only really okay for two different frying sessions. I'll have to figure this out.)

Makes 8 smallish servings

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Mini Cranberry Orange Scones

Mini Cranberry Orange Scones
I'm making scones today for a women's tea deal at church this afternoon. I already have a post with the full-sized version of these, but I thought it would be more fun to give them a post all their own since there's a little more to the process, and you bake them at a higher temperature. It's taken me a couple of years to realize this, but when you're making a smaller version of a scone like this, it's better to bake it faster at a higher temperature so that they don't dry out. These came out perfectly browned and crisp on the outside, moist and tender on the inside. Just the way I like my cranberry orange scones. They have a definite orange flavor, thanks to both the orange zest and the orange extract; and they are buttery, sweet and fluffy. Mmm. I'm so glad my friend Sherri asked me to bring something today.
These scones are perfect for taking to group events where there will be other baked goods to choose from. They're big enough to enjoy all the flavor--about four or five bites, but they're small enough that people will be able to sample other small goodies as well. 

Cranberry Orange Scones
      --adapted from

  • 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar (rounded)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon orange extract
  • 1 cup half & half
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. (Parchment isn’t necessary, but it helps.)  
Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda into large bowl. (By "sift" I mean put the ingredients in a large bowl and stir well with a whisk.) Mix in orange peel. 
Add butter and rub in with fingertips, or cut in with a pastry blender, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Mix in dried cranberries. 
Measure half & half into glass measuring cup and add orange extract.   Add half & half, tossing with fork until moist clumps form. Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead briefly to bind dough, about 4 turns. 
Cut ball of dough in half.  Form dough into 2 1-inch-thick rounds. Cut into 6 wedges each. Then cut each of those wedges into four wedges (sorry I didn't take a pic of this process--but you can see it at the bottom of my Mini Cake Mix Scones post). Transfer wedges to prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 1/2 inches apart. You should be able to fit 16 on each sheet. Place two sheets in the refrigerator while you work with the first. Brush tops of scones with a little half and half and sprinkle with sugar, if desired.  
Bake at 400°F until tops of scones are golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Let stand on baking sheet 10 minutes. Serve scones warm or at room temperature.

Makes 48 mini scones

Note: If you are not baking for a crowd, you can freeze these and enjoy one or two at a time for a while. Place cooled scones on a parchment or wax paper lined baking sheet and place in the freezer for a couple of hours. When they are frozen solid, place in a zip top freezer bag. Reheat them at about 325 degrees Fahrenheit, wrapped loosely in aluminum foil, for about 10-15 minutes. 
Alternately, I've seen that Martha Stewart will freeze the unbaked scones. Click here and see how Martha does it. I have not tried that, but I trust Martha that it works.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pizza Sauce

Pizza Sauce
I've gotten a little tired of using jarred pizza sauce lately. I wanted something that I could tweak and make different, AND that didn't make me think my homemade pizza was not as awesome as it could be. I mean, I'm not opposed to jarred sauces and such, but I figured that since I was going to the trouble of making homemade crust, I probably should at least attempt to make a homemade sauce.
So I went to my trusty and found this no-cook "Exquisite Pizza Sauce." It is so super easy, and it tastes great too. I may have to do a little more tweaking, but it's a fantastic start--and so easy. doubled the recipe because one of the reviews said it made so little, but I really didn't need to double it. I made two large pizzas and had enough leftover to freeze for our next pizza night. One recipe is enough for probably three large pizzas, I'd say, unless you like tons of sauce on your pizza. What you see below is the original size recipe.
We'll see how this recipe fares over time, but for now, I think it's a thumbs up.

Pizza Sauce
    --Adapted from

  • 1 (6 oz) can of tomato paste
  • 6 oz warm water
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
In a medium bowl, mix all of the ingredients until combined.
Allow to sit for at least half an hour before using on pizza.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups of sauce.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Pumpkin Bars

Pumpkin Bars

Full disclosure first off: When I baked these bars, I baked them in a quarter sheet pan and then another baking dish (I did not have a 10 x 15 inch pan called for). The bars baked in the other dish came out cake thickness, and these are slightly thicker than I perceive pumpkin bars to be, so in the recipe that follows, I call for a half sheet pan. I think that will create the right thickness in this bar, but honestly, now that I'm writing this, I'm wondering if it will bake through to the center. I'll just have to try this again soon.
That being said, here's a mini story of how these bars came to be here on my blog.
I don't even think I knew pumpkin bars existed until I started working at Clive Elementary School here in Iowa. I haven't researched it, but I suspect it's another one of those Midwestern things, like Dutch letters. Connie J., our library associate, makes these about once a year, and although they look harmless, these bars are dangerously addicting. I don't know if it's the tender spice cake or the cool cream cheese icing, but they are awesome. Sorry to say, this is not Connie's recipe. I keep meaning to get it from her, but have not done so yet. This one comes from, and by the pics on, I could see it was close to Connie's recipe.
If you've never had a pumpkin bar before, just imagine a light pumpkin bread, tender and lightly spiced, with a nice just-thick-enough layer of sweet, cool cream cheese icing. It's just a perfect fall sweet treat, and great to bring to pot lucks. Really. When Connie makes these for a pot luck, they are always one of the first things to go.
So there you go. Pumpkin bars. Give 'em a try.

Pumpkin Bars
    --Adapted from Paul's Pumpkin Bars on


  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened, but cool
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened, but cool
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 3/4 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a half sheet pan (13 x 18 inches) with non-stick cooking spray & set aside. (Note: original recipe calls for a 10 x 15 inch jelly roll pan.)
In a medium bowl, mix the eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Mix into the wet ingredients until combined.
Spread the batter evenly over the bottom of the prepared sheet pan. 
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely before icing it.
While the baked bars cool, prepare the icing... Cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla. Add the powdered sugar. Mix on low until sugar is incorporated, and then mix on medium to medium-high until creamy.
Once the bars are completely cooled, spread the frosting evenly over the top. Cut into bars and serve. Refrigerate leftovers.
Makes one half sheet pan of bars that can be cut into 24 to 48 bars, depending on the size you like.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Homemade Chili Mix & Resulting Chili

Homemade Chili Mix

This may look like a regular recipe post on a blog, but it's actually me at 4:30 on a Sunday afternoon avoiding lesson planning for the week. There I said it. I don't like lesson planning.
Now that I've admitted that, onto the chili.
I normally purchase chili mix in little packets in the grocery store to make chili. Recently, though, I didn't have a packet in the house when I went to make chili, so I looked one up on the internet. What do you know--there are a bunch of recipes out there. I actually forgot which one I used the first time, but today I'm writing down and posting what I used, which is adapted from is my go-to recipe finder because they have so many recipes to choose from AND especially because they have reviews and ratings. This one rated high, so I've used it. And I like it too. 
I think the taste will depend a lot on the chili powder you use, so I recommend using one you already know you love, or try something you know has a good reputation. I really like the Bueno Special Reserve that my brother's friends introduced me to. I "import" it from New Mexico, but if you click on that link, you can order some online.
The resulting chili is super good. Not too spicy, a little greasy, and very satisfying. I tried a cooking method I've seen several times on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives--cooking the meat in water before adding spices and tomato sauce. I think the difference is that you don't drain the fat, as I do when I brown the meat first, and dang it--it tastes better. Oh well, I just won't make it very often then.
Give it a try--chances are you have all of the ingredients in your cupboard already.

Homemade Chili Mix & Resulting Chili
    --Adapted from

Chili Mix Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons chili powder (I used Bueno Special Reserve medium hot)
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons masa* (corn) flour

Mix all of the ingredients except the masa flour. Place (about) three tablespoons of powder mix into 2 plastic baggies (basically divide the mix in half) and then place 2 tablespoons of masa flour into each bag. Seal for later use, or use immediately in recipe below.
Makes enough mix for two batches of chili
*You can use all-purpose flour if you don't have access to masa flour, but it's really a second choice--try to get the masa if you can.

Homemade Chili

Chili Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 pounds ground beef
  • 1 1/2 cups water, divided
  • 1 packet (half recipe) of Chili Mix Powder (recipe above)
  • 1 can tomato sauce (8 ounces)
  • 2 teaspoons beef base or 2 cubes beef bullion
  • 1 can pinto or kidney beans (optional)

In a high-rimmed saucepan over medium heat, place 1/2 cup water and the ground beef. Allow to start simmering and then break up the ground beef with a spoon, spatula, or other appropriate kitchen tool.
When beef is cooked through, add the chili mix and stir. Add tomato sauce and 1 cup water. Add beef base/bullion. Stir until incorporated. Bring chili to a simmer, cover and reduce heat to low. (Add the beans now if you're going to use them) Simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes to 1 hour on low. The longer you simmer it, the more tender the meat will be. If it seems to be getting too thick, add a little more water, about 1/4 cup at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

Serves 4-6, depending on appetites

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Soft Oatmeal, Coconut, Pecan, Toffee, Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Soft Oatmeal, Coconut, Pecan, Toffee, & Chocolate Chunk Cookie
It seems like anything I write about these cookies is going to pale in comparison with what the cookies are: soft, moist, flavorful, buttery, chewy greatness. They're not the most attractive cookies in the world, but they are one of the best-tasting. They have just enough oatmeal to live up to the name, and you can taste each of the other tasty additions: the coconut, pecans, toffee, and chocolate. Even without the chocolate, they're fabulous.
You want to be careful not to under bake these, because they need to caramelize pretty well on the bottom so that they stay intact once cooled. The second pan I baked didn't get done enough, and when I put them in a zip lock bag to take to my tutoring students, they had broken a little bit, even though I handled them gingerly. The first pan I thought I'd over baked, but they held together, stayed soft, and were de-lish.
I only made half of these with the chocolate chunks. They taste great both ways.

Soft Oatmeal, Coconut, Pecan, Toffee, Chocolate Chunk Cookies
     --inspired by Barb's Oatmeal Cake

  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup toffee bits
  • 8-9 ounces dark chocolate chunks (I used chopped up Dove Dark Chocolate)

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring milk to a simmer/boil. Remove from heat, add rolled oats, and stir. Set aside to cool for about 15-20 minutes.
Into a small bowl, sift the flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar for about 3-4 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix on high until fluffy again. Then mix in the cooled oatmeal until incorporated.
Add the dry ingredients and mix just until fully incorporated. Add the coconut, pecans, toffee bits, and chocolate chunks and stir to incorporate. Be careful not to over mix.
Move dough to a plastic container with a lid and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop dough into 1 1/2 tablespoon balls and place evenly on prepared baking sheet, leaving about two inches between dough balls.
Bake at 350 degrees for 11-13 minutes, or until browned around the edges and the cookies are starting to darken a little toward the middle.

Makes about 5 dozen cookies

See how that chunk of toffee in the middle
of that dough ball turns into a fantastically
sweet and crunchy crater in the finished cookie?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Egg in a (Sourdough) Basket

Egg in a Basket

Egg in a Basket. I first saw this breakfast item way back in 1987--the year I graduated from high school--in the movie Moonstruck, starring Cher and Nicolas Cage. Crazy that I remember it. It fascinated me, though, that one would fry an egg within a hole in a piece of bread. I probably tried it shortly after that, and have been making this dish on and off since. Recently I've had it at Cracker Barrel, and when the Pioneer Woman made her version the other day with gobs of butter, I thought I'd better make myself one soon. So I did, with my favorite bread: San Francisco sourdough. Mmmmm. Eggs and sourdough are one of my favorite combinations.
It's a pretty simple thing to make, and for me, it makes fried eggs more enjoyable because when I usually fry eggs, the edges end up tough and crisp--not something I like in an egg. Done this way, some of the white soaks into the bread and cooks to a tender perfection inside. The yolk is always perfectly done, which for me is done around the edges and liquid throughout the rest. Mmmm. Then the toasty sourdough soaks up the yolk and each bite is a perfect pleasure. I suppose if you don't like liquid yolks, you can cook this a little longer. The times I'll give below are approximate, and I generally go more on look and puffiness than time on this one.

Egg in a (Sourdough) Basket


  • 1 large slice of sourdough bread
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Heat a non-stick frying pan/skillet over medium-ish heat. Butter one side of the bread with most of the butter. Using a large biscuit cutter (about 2 3/4 inches), cut a circle out of the center of the buttered bread. Place bread and cut circle into the preheated pan, butter side down. Spread the remainder of the tablespoon of butter on the unbuttered side of the bread. 
Crack the egg into the hole and cover the pan with a domed lid. 
After about 1-2 minutes, lift the lid. When the white is set and clouded, carefully turn the bread/egg over with a spatula. Turn the bread circle over at this time as well.
Fry the egg another minute or so, or until the center looks puffed and edges of the egg circle seem set. 
Remove to a serving plate, sprinkle with salt and pepper and eat while it's hot.

Makes 1 serving

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

About Me

The family and me. My favorite people.
About me. Well, for a couple of years I had a long explanation of how this blog came to be and about what I do and why I do it. I don’t know who’s really that interested though. So I’ll just bullet-point this revised “About Me.”

(In no particular order) I am...
  • A Southern Californian who has also lived in Portland, Oregon, and who now lives in Des Moines, Iowa.
  • A mother of two awesome middle school boys. Yes, I used “awesome” and “middle school boys” in the same description. I mean it.
  • A wife for 22 years to a man who loves and blesses me daily—whether it be through his kindness or his challenges to my status quo.
  • A part-time ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher to kindergarteners and third graders. I love my job.
  • A cook, baker, and entertainer—just for fun and sharing. I have no real passion for making money, but I do have a huge passion for food and making people happy with food.
  • A volunteer tutor to an amazing group of Burmese refugee women who bless me every time I meet with them.
  • A reluctant blogger. I mean, I was reluctant at first, but now it’s often my sanity.
  • A member and participant of a tiny but mighty faith community called the Des Moines Vineyard.
  • A modern woman who would sometimes prefer to live in an age before screens took over. I love my blogging, iPhone, and email too much though.
I also love to respond to questions. If you have a question for me, feel free to post a comment within a post the question is about, or, if you want/need a quick response, email me at 

Thanks for stopping by Food Pusher. I hope you enjoy your visit.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins
The streusel is tucked into the sides too. Super yummy.
Moist, light, and pumpkiny interior
I've thought about making these muffins before, as I made their banana version. Today was a good opportunity because I had friends coming over for a morning meeting, and it's fall, and I happened to have a can of pumpkin sitting in my cupboard. And they worked. I like 'em. These muffins are slightly less dense than a pumpkin bread, so that they stand up to their muffin name. They're very moist and just sweet enough with all of that streusel on top and actually on the sides too. I used a large cookie scoop to get the batter into the muffin cups, and that left room on the sides for the streusel to fall. It got nice and crisp there on the side, and therefore made each bite sweet and fantastic.
If you make these, you may want to play with the spices a little. They're not super spiced, and most of the spice flavor hits you at the end of the bite as opposed to the beginning, which is fine by me. 
So, there you go. This is me, not knowing how to end this post. Glad I'm not doing this to get paid. 

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

Muffin Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/16 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted & cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped nuts (pecans and/or walnuts)--optional
Streusel Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons butter 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Coat muffin pans with non-stick spray, or use paper liners. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves; stir in one cup of chopped nuts, if desired; set aside.

Combine streusel ingredients in a medium bowl and rub with fingers until it's crumbly and butter is all mixed in. Stir in the other 1/2 cup of nuts, if desired. Set aside

Combine pumpkin, sugars, egg, and melted butter in a large bowl. Fold in flour mixture, and mix until smooth. Scoop into muffin pans. Top each muffin with a couple of tablespoons of nutty streusel.

Bake in preheated oven. Bake average size muffins for 10 to 15 minutes, and large muffins for 25 to 30 minutes. Muffins will spring back when lightly tapped.

Makes about 18 average size muffins, or 6 jumbo and 5 average size muffins

Apple Streusel Galette

Apple Streusel Galette

At first I was going to call this "Panless Dutch Apple Pie," but apparently it's called a "galette." Whatever you name it, it's delicious. Everything I love in an apple pie: plenty of buttery, flaky crust, sweet & tart tender granny smith apples, and a sweet & crisp streusel topping. Mmmm. This one was made in honor of my friend Christie who loves most baked good involving apples. She came over last night for dinner and a yarn shopping trip--then she later showed me how to start crocheting an afghan. Good times indeed. 
This is just a nice, relatively easy, yummy way to eat some apple pie. It's even great for breakfast. Give it a go.

Apple Streusel Galette

Streusel Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/4 inch slices
Filling Ingredients:
  • 3 medium granny smith apples
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Crust Ingredients:
  • 1 ¼ cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, plus more for dusting
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoon butter
  • 3 tablespoon Crisco (vegetable shortening)
  • 3-4 tablespoon ice cold water
  • flour for dusting 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

For the streusel... in a medium bowl, mix the white sugar, graham crumbs and flour. Add sliced butter and toss to separate butter slices. With your fingers, gently smoosh the butter into the dry ingredients until butter is entirely incorporated and the mixture looks like wet sand, with some clumps here and there. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.

For the filling... peel, core, and quarter the apples. Slice each quarter into 1/8 to 1/4 inch slices. Place all of the apple slices in a medium bowl, add the lemon juice, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon, and then fold gently to disperse the dry ingredients. Set aside while you prepare the crust.

For the crust... get two square pieces of wax paper. Place one on a flat surface for rolling, and lightly flour the wax paper. Then, in a medium bowl, combine the flour and the salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour until you have quarter-inch chunks of butter. Add the vegetable shortening and continue cutting until you have some sandy parts and some larger chunks of butter and shortening (a few quarter-inch chunks here and there--see pic below). Drizzle in the ice water and toss with a fork until the dough starts to clump. 

Then use your hands to gently knead the dough into a relatively cohesive mass--be careful not to over work the dough, or your crust will be tough. Turn out onto the lightly floured wax paper, sprinkle with a little more flour and top with the other piece of wax paper. Roll the dough out into a rough 13-inch circle (dough will likely extend beyond the wax paper--just keep the surface floured so it doesn't stick). 

Remove the top layer of wax paper and carefully turn dough over onto the prepared baking sheet with parchment. Remove the wax paper and center the dough on the pan/parchment. 

Assembling the galette... Pour/scoop the apples into the middle of the dough circle, leaving about 3 inches apple free. Try to make sure the top of the apple mound is slightly flattened so that it can hold more streusel. Carefully scoop the streusel all over the apple mound. Now, fold up the dough edges to form rough pleats around the edge. Press lightly to make sure the pleats hold.

Bake galette at 400 degrees for 45-60 minutes, or until nicely browned and a knife inserted into the center meets little resistance. Check the galette about halfway through baking. If the streusel seems to be browning too quickly, place a piece of aluminum foil on top without pressing down--just let it sit there on top.

When done, remove from oven and allow to cool for 20-30 minutes before serving. 

Serves 4-6

Crust dough before water is added.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Chicken Alfredo Pizza on Focaccia Crust

Chicken Alfredo Pizza on Focaccia Crust

My original plan for dinner tonight was just the regular old thin crust pizza. Somehow I didn't manage to make the dough in time, which tastes better with a slow rise in the fridge. So, then I thought I'd make pepperoni pizza on a focaccia crust because focaccia is a fast bread to make. THEN I remembered that I had one chicken breast in the fridge that I needed to use, so I decided to try this. Although I think the crust is too thick (I'll probably divide it into thirds next time), it was flavorful, creamy, and satisfying nonetheless. My eating buddy Ezra and I enjoyed it thoroughly, and we even have some leftovers for lunch today. Mmmm.
When I was making this pizza, it didn't feel like a ton of ingredients and work, because I've made each part dozens of times. When I started typing out the ingredients, though, I thought, "Hmmm. Other people may find this overwhelming." So, if you're a novice in the kitchen, you may want to try taking some shortcuts on this, like using rotisserie chicken and a pre-made pizza crust (could be one that you made yourself and froze, for instance). You can't shortcut the sauce, though. Obviously, it's in the name. Plus, it's really easy to make.
I actually only made one pizza when I made this, and I have half a cup of leftover sauce in my fridge. The crust that I did not use for the Alfredo pizza turned into a pepperoni pizza that, honestly, was a bit disappointing. Again, the crust was much too thick for what I had going on on top. At least this one turned out, and I think I will be making it again sometime.

Chicken Alfredo Pizza on Focaccia Crust

Chicken Ingredients*:
Focaccia Crust Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for pans
  • 1 scant teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt, plus more for bottom
  • 3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon (approx) Italian seasoning
Alfredo Sauce Ingredients (adapted from
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon flour (I used Better Batter Gluten Free All Purpose)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
Other Pizza Toppings:
  • 2 cups or so clean fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 2-3 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1-2 cups grated Italian cheese blend

For the chicken...
Mix all of the Chicken Ingredients in a large zip-top bag, or in a medium size bowl. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator while you prepare the crust.
At some point while the dough rises or the crust bakes, either grill the chicken until done, or fry in a pan on the stove set to medium until chicken is done and browned on two sides.
Allow to cool a bit and then cut into 1/8-1/4 inch slices. Set aside.
*I'm only very specific here about how I prepared the chicken because it's what I did, and I love this seasoning. Any savory, garlicky prepared chicken will work fine. Two cups of sliced/diced chicken should do it.

For the focaccia crust...
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. 
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, put in the water, oil, salt, garlic salt, flour, yeast, and Parmesan cheese. Mix on low until dry ingredients are moistened and then mix on high for about 1 minute. Remove paddle attachment, scraping off as much dough as you can. Allow dough to rest while you prepare the pans (makes it easier to spread the dough in the pans).
Drizzle about 1-2 tablespoons olive oil into two 9-inch cake pans and thoroughly grease bottoms and side with the olive oil. Sprinkle a little garlic salt and 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning into the bottom of each pan. 
Divide dough in half and press one half into each pan, using greased hands. If you can, try to make the dough a little thicker at the edges. (My focaccia ended up with a bit of a dome that was hard to work with.) Allow dough to rise for one hour.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until puffed and starting to brown on top.
While dough rises and then bakes, prepare the Alfredo sauce and chicken.

For the Alfredo sauce...
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the 2 tablespoons butter. Add minced garlic and stir. Cook garlic for about 30 seconds. Add 1 tablespoon flour and stir, cooking for about 1 minute more. Whisk in heavy cream and then whisk in the Parmesan and pepper. Turn heat down to low and whisk until sauce is thick and creamy. Remove from heat and set aside.

For the pizza...
Turn the oven up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Spread half the sauce onto each crust. Top each with about 1 cup baby spinach leaves. Then top each with half the chicken and then half the cheese.
Place pans on a baking sheet just in case the cheese oozes over.
Bake at 450 degrees until cheese is bubbly and beginning to brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 3-5 minutes. 
Carefully run a sharp knife around the edge of each pan to loosen the pizza. Using a strong spatula, carefully remove the pizza from the pan to a cutting board lined with parchment paper. If the cheese sticks use the spatula or the knife to loosen it before removing the pizza from the pan.
Cut each pizza into six slices (I suggest using a large sharp knife and cutting straight down; I used a pizza cutter, and it was a mess--crust was too thick).
Serves 4-6 people, depending on their appetites and what else you're serving.
Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

The pizza was so thick that the cutting
part got a little messy, but you can see
all of the yummy creamy sauce under
the toppings. Mmmmmmmm.

01 09 10