Monday, April 30, 2012

Three Bite Chocolate French Silk Pies


Three Bite Chocolate French Silk Pies


Although this is my fourth bite-size pie post (see Bite Size Banana Cream Pies, Bite Size Chocolate Cream Pies, & Bite-Size Coconut Cream Pies), I really think that this is where my original idea started.  It's just taken me this long to follow through.  I really love chocolate French silk pie.  The ingredients of the filling are simple: butter, sugar, chocolate, vanilla and eggs.  Raw eggs.  So proceed with caution.
For the cookie base, I wanted the challenge of making everything from scratch, but I really think that if you wanted to break open a package of Oreo cookies and scrape out the filling, they would work just as well.  Or if you're a traditional silk pie fan, you could use regular pie crust.  What I have below is actually adapted from my Swedish Cream Cookie recipe by replacing some of the flour with cocoa powder, and it really tastes good with the French silk pie filling. Then again, that filling would probably taste good on dirt.  Do what works for you (e.g. if you want a sweeter crust, then use a base with more sugar than what I have in my cookie crust below).
When making these, or any other French silk pie, make sure you use UNSALTED butter.  It makes a difference in the flavor.  For the cookie part, it doesn't matter so much, but with the filling it does.

Three (or One) Bite Chocolate French Silk Pies

WARNING: THIS RECIPE CALLS FOR RAW, UNCOOKED EGGS!

INGREDIENTS

Cookie (You can skip this part and just use the cookie parts of Oreos):
  • 1 cup salted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (for dusting)
French Silk Pie Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cool, but not hard
  • 1/3 cup white C & H sugar
  • 18 unwrapped Dove Dark Chocolate Promises (about 5 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, cold
  • Stabilized whipped cream* (recipe below) or 1 cup heavy cream whipped with 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate sprinkles or shaved dark chocolate

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Mix flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl.  Cut 1 cup of the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the cream and form the dough into a ball. Divide dough into thirds, flatten into a rough disk about 1/2 inch thick, and wrap dough in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (Note: I do all of the mixing in my Kitchen Aid with the paddle attachment, and they turn out fine.  The original recipe calls for the cutting in of the butter.)
3. Dust a cutting board with the sugar/cocoa mixture.  (I like to roll my dough between two sheets of wax paper and dust that with the sugar/cocoa.) Roll dough out 1/8-inch thick and cut with a 2 " circle or flower cutter for three-bite pies, or 
1 1/2” circle or flower cutter for tiny pies.  Place circles/flowers on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Prick cookies three times with a fork.



4. Bake at 375°F for 10 minutes.  Cool on pan for 5- 10 minutes before removing carefully to a wire rack to cool completely.  (Be careful.  I dropped one on the floor and it shattered into powder.) 

5.  In a double boiler, melt Dove Promises about 2/3 of the way.  Remove top of double boiler and continue to stir until chocolate is completely melted.  Set aside to cool further.  I recommend cooling until the chocolate starts to thicken slightly so that it won't melt the butter.

6.  In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer with the wire whip attachment, cream butter.  Gradually add sugar, creaming well.  Blend in melted and cooled chocolate and vanilla.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating 4 minutes after each addition with mixer on medium speed.  
7. Transfer filling either to a pastry bag fitted with an open star tip or a large zip top bag that you will later cut 1/2 inch off the corner.  If the filling seems a bit loose and you don't trust that it will hold its shape and stay on the base, then refrigerate for about 10-15 minutes, or until you can pipe it and have it hold its shape.  If the filling seems firm, start piping onto cookie bases.  Refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.
8. Top with whipped cream squeezed out of another pastry bag with open star tip or zip-top bag.  Top with sprinkles or shaved chocolate, if desired.  Refrigerate until ready to serve
Makes about 70 three-bite pies, OR about 120 one-bite pies (I think.  Don't hold me to that.)
Stabilized Whipped Cream Frosting
--adapted from cdkitchen

  • 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin powder
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tbsp confectioner's sugar
1. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in small bowl to soften. 
2. Scald 2 tablespoon of the cream; pour over gelatin, stirring till dissolved.
3. Refrigerate until consistency of unbeaten egg white. (This takes about 10-15 minutes.) Then, with a whisk, beat until smooth. 

4. In a stand mixer with a whip attachment, or with a hand beater, whip remaining cream and sugar just until soft peaks form; whip in the smoothed gelatin mixture, stopping to scrape the bowl twice. You will probably only need to whip it another 10-20 seconds before it's done.
*A note about the stabilized whipped cream: this is really the way to go if you plan for these to last more than one day.  The two pictures at the top of this post were taken on the third day of these little pies' lives, and the whipped cream sill looks perfect.  Just saying.




One three biter and two one biters

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Chicken Nachos for Dinner

Simple Chicken Nachos
This is a relatively easy dinner that we enjoy occasionally around here.  When I tell my husband this is what I'm making for dinner, half the time he will ask me to make quesadillas instead, so I usually do both when making this meal.  Tonight, though, it's just the nachos with homemade smoothies as our side.  I don't know how strange that sounds to some people, but it passes for dinner around here.  The measurements below are only approximate, as nacho making is not an exact science.  The key for me here is the chicken, which, like I said, can be used in quesadillas OR in chicken burritos, which we haven't had in a long time.  I'll have to remember that.  It only takes about 30-40 minutes to prepare this from start to finish, so it's a nice alternative to McDonalds on a busy night.
Use your favorite tortilla chips and your favorite salsa.  Make it yours.  I think you'll like it.

Chicken Nachos

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound chicken breast, cut into chunks, or about 6-8 chicken tenders
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup salsa (I like Herdez medium)
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 bag tortilla chips (about 7-8 ounces)
  • 2 cups medium cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup pepper Jack cheese, shredded
Instructions:
Over medium heat, bring chicken and salsa to a simmer and cook until tender and shreds easily.  If you're using the chicken tenders, when chicken is cooked, remove the tendon at the fat end with tongs or a knife and fork.
Sprinkle chicken with a little salt and set aside.  Turn oven on to broil.
Spread tortilla chips onto an oven-proof platter that will hold them in about a single layer, but it's okay if they overlap a bit.
Evenly distribute the shredded chicken over the chips.
Evenly distribute the cheese over the chicken and chips.
Place platter in oven and broil until cheese is melted and bubbly.  Stay nearby or put on a timer for two minutes if you have to step away.  Keep checking until they're done.  Carefully remove from oven with oven mitts and serve.
This would probably taste good with guacamole & sour cream, if that's what you're into, but I like mine straight-up.
Makes about 3-4 servings for hungry people.


Friday, April 27, 2012

My Shopping List

My actual shopping list.

It's Friday night, time for me to start thinking about my weekly trip to Super Target to pick up groceries and what-not for the week.  Now, I'm not a very organized person in most areas of my life, but when it comes to food, I guess I am.  For, oh, I don't know, about twelve years now, I've used a Word document to store a semi-permanent shopping list.  The list contains all of my staples I purchase on a regular basis and is somewhat organized according to my route I shop through the store.  When I type it out like this, I realize how anal retentive it sounds, but it works for me, and it helps remind me of what I need because I hate getting to the store without a list and then forgetting one or more items that I have to go BACK to the store for.  It annoys me to start preparing a meal or a dessert only to realize too late that I'm missing a key ingredient.
I make changes as my kids grow and as our tastes change.  For instance, I removed "diapers" from the list a good seven years ago and have recently added gluten-free flour, which, actually probably needs to be removed for the time being.  Anyway, when it's time for a shopping trip, I just print out the list.  Then all I have to do is highlight the items I want to buy.  I also have lines at the end of each section in case I have a write-in item that I only intend to buy once.
If this sounds good to you, give it a try.  If you think I'm a complete weirdo for doing this, click on one of the yummy photos to the right.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Creamy Pasta with Chicken & Broccoli

Creamy Pasta with Chicken & Broccoli

Well, Eddie's at school tonight, so I'm cooking pasta for me and my eating buddy Ezra.  (Max gets a grilled hamburger patty and his favorite fried potatoes.)  This pasta is sort of an Alfredo, I think, but I don't really follow a recipe, so I'm just calling it Creamy Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli.  I think a real Alfredo stays creamy longer---maybe because there's an egg yolk in it or something, or more cream is used.  I'm not sure.  I just like this because I usually have all the ingredients on hand and because I just love pasta.
A lot of the flavor in this dish comes from the seasoning you put on the chicken, so make sure you choose a flavorful marinade.  I use Weber Canadian Chicken seasoning that I bought at Sam's Club, but when I googled "Weber Canadian Chicken Seasoning," it really only showed Sam's Club as a store that carries it. Even Amazon has a picture but says it's not available.  Not sure why they do that, but there you go.  Any flavorful, garlicky Italian salad dressing will probably work here.  Just make sure you already like the flavor of it before dousing your chicken with it.
This dish has just the right amount of richness, as far as I'm concerned.  Just enough cream and butter to get me into trouble, but not so much I feel sick after eating it.  I've made it with half and half, and that works okay if you're trying to make it lighter.  If you're not concerned about calories, by all means, go for the heavy cream.
If nothing else, this is a good base to add other ingredients that you like with pasta.  Hope you enjoy it as much as Ezra and I do.

Creamy Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 to 3/4 pound chicken breasts
  • Italian dressing or other Italiany chicken marinade
  • 3 cups dry pasta (I use Barilla piccolini Mini Farfalle)
  • water to boil pasta
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small to medium garlic clove, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream or half and half
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups cooked broccoli* (I like mine al dente)
Instructions:
Marinate the chicken breast in Italian dressing for half an hour to an hour.  Heat up your grill and grill chicken until cooked.  Alternatively, fry the chicken in a pan. (I'm hoping you can do this on your own without all the instructions, because grilling and cooking chicken is another thing.)

Bring water to a boil in a large heavy saucepan and add the tablespoon of salt.  Add pasta and cook according to package instructions.

Pour hot pasta water into the serving bowl to within 1/2 inch of the top (this warms the bowl so the pasta stays hot/warm longer). Drain remaining water and set pasta aside in a colander or other bowl.

Return pot to the stove and turn heat to medium-low.  Melt butter in the pot and then add the minced garlic and pepper.*  Cook for about one minute and then add the cream or half & half.  Bring mixture to a simmer.  Put the pasta back in the pot and stir.  Add parmesan cheese.  Stir.  Add chicken and broccoli.  Stir again.  Pour water out of the serving bowl and add pasta.

*Instead of broccoli, you can also use spinach (see photo below). I use half a bag of packaged spinach. I add it to the butter and garlic before adding the cream. Stir until the spinach is bright green, wilted, and shiny. Then proceed with the recipe as before, except without the broccoli.

Makes 4-6 servings

Just so you know what I consider "a serving."
So you know what the Canadian
Chicken Seasoning looks like.
Creamy Pasta with Chicken & Spinach
Ezra likes this one better.

Max's Favorite Potatoes/Fried Baked Potatoes

Fried Baked Potatoes

Ah, Max.  He's my older of two sons, and he's a quirky bird.  He's a big fan of most fried potato foods: french fries, potato chips, potato pancakes, tater tots, etc.  So, when I introduced him to a fried baked potato, he was in fried potato nirvana.  A couple of months ago he even told me, as he picked up one of these little fried potatoes, "Mom, this is MY comfort food."  Gosh, I love that kid.
My mom used to cut up day-old baked potatoes and fry them in a little bit of oil in her trusty cast-iron skillet.  I tried that, but there were too many little potato pieces that would stick to the bottom, and that not only made the pan hard to clean, but then I didn't get to eat all that brown crispy potato goodness that was stuck to the pan.  So, why not just fill up the pan with more oil and fry them like french fries?  Yeah, why NOT?  So, that's what I did.  Mind you, I only do this occasionally because it just seems sort of wrong.  Baking a potato and then cutting it up and deep frying it, but it makes the potato so crisp and succulent.  They sort of remind me of those potato skin appetizers we would order at Black Angus.  Do they even sell those any more?
So, anyway, I'm making these for Max tonight while my little eating buddy Ezra and I enjoy some of our favorite pasta.

Max's Favorite Potatoes/Fried Baked Potatoes

Ingredients:
  • 1 or more baked potatoes, fresh or day old
  • canola oil for frying
  • salt to taste
Instructions:
If you don't quite know how to bake a potato, you just preheat an oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Scrub potatoes (any kind will do) and cut off a little bit of each end (like 1/8 inch) and carefully pierce each potato about 5-8 times with a sharp knife.  Bake at 400 degrees for about an hour, or until potatoes just yield when squeezed with an oven-mitted hand.  Then remove from the oven.

If you opt for fresh baked potatoes, be careful when cutting them so you don't get burned and so you don't crush them.  Cut potatoes into 1-inch chunks.

Fill a frying pan with about 3/4 to 1 inch of canola oil and turn heat to medium-high.  Put one potato chunk in the pan.*  When it starts bubbling and frying, carefully slide in the rest of the potato chunks.  I use my grease screen to help me with this by putting the potatoes on the screen and shimmying the potatoes into the oil (see video below).  Make sure potatoes are evenly distributed in the pan.

Allow the potatoes to cook until deep golden brown, turning only occasionally and gently at that.  Once they reach the desired color, remove to a paper towel-lined plate and salt to taste.

Makes 1 to infinity servings.

*When this potato starts bubbling,
the oil is ready for the rest of the potatoes.

video

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Fresh French Fries

Fresh Homemade French Fries
Just a little closer...
I make these almost weekly for my family.  I have virtually stopped buying frozen french fries, because my family and I really prefer these.  I try to stay as unprocessed as possible, and this is one way to do it.  Yes, I am eating/serving fried food, but I rationalize that with the fact that they were a whole food when I started, not frozen in a bag.  Let me have my fantasy.
That being said, these fries represent for me one of my first realizations that my mother is a food pusher.  My mom made these from time to time when I was growing up.  They became a regular side dish to hamburgers.  She cut hers thicker and fried them in Crisco, making sure to stir them when they got soft so the potatoes broke slightly and got all crunchy and greasy.  Mmmmm...my mom makes the best fries.
When I was in high school my boyfriend would often come over hungry after our family had already eaten dinner.  On more occasions than I think was reasonable, my food pusher mother would light up the gas grill and cut up a couple of potatoes and make a fresh burger and fries for Rob.  Seriously.  Either she was very happy that I had a boyfriend or she's really THAT hard-core of a food pusher.  It was probably some combo, really, but looking back, it makes me laugh that she went to such lengths to make her "guest" happy.
The take-away for me is this fabulous fried side dish.  The cooking method here, though, I learned from Cook's Illustrated.  In one of the issues I have lying around my house, they did french fries, and their recipe called for starting with cold oil.  Now, they didn't take into account that I would probably want more than one frying pan could hold, so I just add the second batch to the hot oil, and they turn out fine.  The cold potatoes bring the oil temperature way down at first, and then it all heats up in a couple of minutes.  I honestly can't tell the difference between the first batch fried and the second.  They all get eaten at any rate.

Fresh French Fries
Ingredients:

  • 5-6 medium russet potatoes
  • canola oil
  • salt

Instructions:
Scrub potatoes under running water.  Using a very sharp knife, slice potatoes lengthwise into about 1/6-inch slices.  Set end pieces to the side.  Separate the sliced potato into to halves with the largest slice on the bottom and slice into 1/6-inch strips for long skinny fries.  Place raw fries into a large bowl half filled with cold water.  Slice the end pieces into strips as well and add to the cold water.  Repeat with remaining potatoes.
Stir the raw fries in the water with your hand and drain the water.  Fill the bowl again to cover the potatoes.  Allow to sit up to 8 hours in the water.  If it's going to be longer than an hour, go ahead and place the bowl in the refrigerator.
When you're ready to fry, preheat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place a metal cooling rack in a metal sheet pan (if you have those things) and cover the cooling rack with two layers of paper towels.  In a high-rimmed, old, yucky frying pan, pour in enough canola oil to go about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches up the side, making sure you still have about 1 1/2 inches above that.
Drain your potatoes and either dry thoroughly with a towel or paper towel, or place in a salad spinner and spin until pretty dry.  I stir with a paper towel in my hand to make sure they're even dryer.
Place 1/3 to 1/2 of the potatoes into the oil and THEN turn the heat on to medium-high.
Bad lighting, but you get the idea.
Allow french fries to fry until light golden brown, and then stir carefully with a screen skimmer or slotted spoon.
When fries are the desired color (deep golden brown for me), carefully remove with the skimmer or slotted spoon to the prepared paper towel-lined rack.  Sprinkle with salt.  Place in the warm oven until the next batch is ready.  Carefully place 1/3 more or the remaining raw fries into the oil and fry the same way as before.  They will go a little faster this time since the oil is already hot.
Serve warm.
Makes 5-6 servings, or 4 if you like fries as much as we do.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Grilled Tri-Tip Chunks

Grilled Teriyaki Tri-Tip Chunks
Just pink in the middle.  Served with Bacon Fried Rice.
Ah, beef.  Other than chile colorado burritos, I think this may be my next favorite way to enjoy beef.  When I lived in California, tri-tip came whole, like a 2.5-3.5 pound roast kind of thing.  My mom would marinate it and grill it whole, slice it, and it was fabulous.  I did that a little bit, until our friend Jamie Gillentine served us some tri-tip at their house.  But it was in these 3-inch chunks.  The flavor of the marinade and caramelized exterior was amazing.  I never grilled a whole tri-tip again.  Now that I live in Iowa, the only place I've found that sells something called "tri-tip" is Sam's Club, and they sell it in these long strips.  This actually makes it easier to prepare it the way I like.  I just cut each strip into three or four pieces.  It works.
Like I said, when you grill this cut of meat in this way, each bite has the flavorful, caramelized exterior and the tender, juicy pink interior.  Mmmmm... I'm looking forward to the leftovers tomorrow, which are great even cold.
If you're going to grill, and you want it done right, I really think you ought to invest in a meat thermometer.  Mine is almost dead, and I need to replace it, but it works just well enough to get by.  I like to grill my beef to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, and then I allow it to rest for about 10 minutes.  It creates what I think is the perfect piece of meat, and it's what you see pictured above.
My favorite way to enjoy this grilled meat is with Mr. Yoshida's Gourmet Sauce, which is pretty much a teriyaki sauce.  I can't find it here in Des Moines, so I import it from California.  My mom either brings it when she comes, or I stock up when I'm out there in the summer.  I know I should ask my grocery store manager to get some, but I just haven't yet.  It gives me an excuse to see my mom and go to California.

Grilled Tri-Tip Chunks

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 pounds tri-tip cut into 2 1/2 to 3 inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce (I love Mr. Yoshida's Gourmet Sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
Instructions:
About two to four hours before you want to eat, put meat and teriyaki sauce into a large plastic zip-top bag and place in the refrigerator.
About half an our before you want to eat, heat your grill to about 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place oil in bag with the marinating meat and smoosh it around.
Place meat on grill, leaving at least an inch between pieces.  Check and turn meat after about 5 minutes.  Adjust heat, if necessary.  Check meat again after another 4 minutes or so.  When the exterior is dark and caramelized, start checking the smallest chunk with your probe thermometer.  You really should check each individual chunk, but you can also guess that similarly sized/shaped pieces are probably cooking at about the same rate.  When meat gets to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, remove to a clean, heat-proof plate to rest.  Not all pieces will be done at the same time, so close the lid between temperature checks, and remove meat as it finishes cooking.
Allow all meat to rest at least 10 minutes before serving.
Makes about 5-6 servings.

The way tri-tip comes at Sam's Club
In case you're wondering what the store calls it.


Dutch Apple Pie Cookies (Three-Bite Dutch Apple Pies)

Dutch Apple Pie Cookies



I think I've discovered my favorite way to enjoy these cookies:
atop a bowl of Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream.

I first made these little things about two years ago.  I'm not quite sure why or how I thought this up.  Maybe I saw somebody else do it and I stole their idea.  I don't think I did that, but if you recognize your work here, let me know.  I want to give you credit.
These cookies really are just a couple of bites of Dutch apple pie, complete with real pie crust on the bottom.  So cute too.  Imagine eating a piece of Dutch apple pie.  If you think about the last inch or so of pie, where the ratio of filling to crust shifts so that you're eating slightly more crust than filling, that's what these cookies taste like.  To me, that's the sweet spot of the pie, and that must be why I like these.
I entered these "cookies" into a Tone's Spices competition at the Iowa State Fair.  They made it behind the secret curtain, but they didn't win anything.  I think they're awesome, though. My friends and coworkers loved them. I thought so much of these that I even entered them in the Pillsbury Bake Off.  Well, Pillsbury wasn't very impressed either, apparently.  If you think they look good, give them a try and let me know what you think.  I know I've made them sound like losers, but they're really just under appreciated.
The cookies taste best when they're fresh, when the topping and crust are crisp, but just like an apple pie, they still taste great later too.


Dutch Apple Pie Cookies (Three-Bite Dutch Apple Pies)

Ingredients

Crust (You can also use store-bought refrigerated pie crust):
Topping:
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • ¾ cup oatmeal (quick or old-fashioned)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups canned apple pie filling* roughly chopped (I took a knife and cut the apples while still in the can.)
  • powdered sugar for garnish (optional)

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Prepare pie crust: In a medium bowl, mix flour and salt. Cut 4 T butter into flour until it looks like coarse meal, and then cut in Crisco until well blended. Add ice cold water and stir with fork. Then use your hands to gently work the dough into a ball.
3. Flour a square sheet of wax paper, place dough ball in the middle, flour the ball, and cover with another square sheet of wax paper. Roll dough out to a thickness of about 1/8”. Using a 2” round circle cutter, cut out as many circles as you can. Carefully place circles on a wax-paper-lined cookie sheet and place in the freezer until needed. Collect dough scraps and roll and cut more circles that you will add to the pan in the freezer.
4. Prepare topping: In a large bowl, mix all of the dry topping ingredients with a fork. Add butter chunks and mix with your fingers until all the butter is incorporated and it begins to form crumbles. Set aside ½ cup of this crumb mixture.
5. Stir chopped apple pie filling into remaining crumble mixture, just until mixed.
6. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, evenly place 12 of the frozen dough circles. Place a scant tablespoon of apple mixture onto the middle of each circle. With your finger, flatten the top of the apple mixture a little bit. Using a fork, place about ½ teaspoon of the reserved crumble mixture on top of each cookie. 
7. Bake at 375°F for 14-15 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned. Remove from oven and then transfer cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely. Shake a little powdered sugar over cookies to make them look pretty.

Makes about 3 dozen cookies. Recipe is easily doubled. 
I might have put too much filling on these.



*If you want to go completely homemade, here's the recipe for apple pie filling, which I think tastes the best, and most like the dutch apple pie taste I was trying to replicate in a cookie. This makes twice what you need for the cookie recipe, so you can either halve this, or you can freeze half of it for another time. Or you can try making some Apple Turnovers.

 Apple Pie "Filling" 

Ingredients:
  • 4 medium granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup white sugar 
  • 3 T cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup apple juice (fresh apple cider is better)
  • 1 cup water (you can use just 2 cups water, but the apple juice/cider is better)
Directions:
-In a large bowl, toss diced apple with lemon juice and set aside.  Pour apple juice and water into a high-rimmed saute pan over medium heat.  Combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt, & nutmeg.  Add to liquid in pan, stir well, and bring to a boil.  Boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
-Add apples and return to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer until apples are tender, about 5-6 minutes.  Cool for 30 minutes.
-Ladle into plastic containers to refrigerate or freeze.  Cool at room temperature no longer than 1 1/2 hours.
Makes about 3 1/4 cups apple pie filling.


Canned apple pie filling
makes it easier. Remove some of 
the goo if there's a ton.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Oven Roasted Potatoes

Oven Roasted Red Potatoes
These seem like such a basic side dish to me, that I'm only now thinking that I should post it. I didn't learn to roast potatoes like this until about six years into my married life of cooking for my husband. This boil first, then roast method was taught to me by my awesome sister-in-law Heidi. 
These are currently one of my son's favorite things to eat. He kind of hoards them at dinner. There are several ways I make these potatoes, but here is a recipe for the most basic. I have my lovely sister-in-law Heidi to thank for teaching me the trick of boiling the potatoes first, to rough up the outsides so they crisp up nicely. These red potatoes didn't do it as well as my usual yellow-fleshed potatoes, but they were still fabulous.  I find that yellow potatoes are the best, red next, and last russets. All are good, but that's my order of preference. Since I can no longer find my Klondike Goldust potatoes, I have to make do with whatever other non-russets I can find.

Oven Roasted Potatoes

Ingredients:
  • 2 pounds yellow or red potatoes
  • 3-4 tablespoons canola oil (or olive oil, if you prefer)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • pot of water with 1 tablespoon water
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a cookie sheet with non-stick aluminum foil or parchment paper.
Clean potatoes and cut into 1-inch chunks (very small potatoes are quartered, medium small, cut into eighths, etc.).
Place in a heavy medium saucepan and cover with water.  Add the tablespoon of salt.  Bring potatoes to a rolling boil (uncovered) over medium-high heat.  Only allow to boil for 1-2 minutes.
Using the saucepan lid, carefully drain the boiling water into the sink.  Place the pan back over a low heat, shaking and tossing potatoes until they look dry, about 1 minute.
Remove from heat and add oil.  Toss with a silicone spatula until potatoes are coated with oil.
Pour potatoes onto prepared pan, scrape excess oil out of the saucepan onto the potatoes, and spread potatoes evenly over the pan.  Sprinkle lightly with more salt and pepper to taste.
Roast potatoes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20-30 minutes, or until as brown as you like, turning/stirring every 10 minutes.
Remove from oven.  Serve hot.

Makes 4-6 servings, depending on how hungry you are and how much you like potatoes.


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