Friday, August 15, 2008

All American

It had been quite a while since The Boy had an apple pie. He kept mentioning craving apple pie & wondering where he could get a fresh slice of it. One day we were at the grocery store, and I come upon him in the freezer aisle, door ajar, with one hand on a frozen apple pie, and a ‘guilty-as-charged’ look on his face. I said “Put the pre-packaged, HFCS-filled, pastry BACK. I will make you a dag-on pie.”

I began to peruse Cooking Light’s website for a suitable pie recipe. I’ve found tons of dinner recipes on Cooking Light so I consider them a reliable source. I’ve only made one fruit pie in my life (blueberry), and it was only “alright” but not spectacular, so I was a little scared. I finally chose this recipe. I had high hopes for this pie, and let me tell you, my expectations were exceeded!

I also had a lot of fun taking these pics with the camera I “stole” from my dad. It’s a Cannon EOS 40D. I want one, now. I can’t wait to borrow it again.

Begin with a bunch of these.

Chop, chop, peel, peel. Fun, right? It’s worth it I swear.

This pie crust is one of the best discoveries at Whole Foods, EVER. Seriously, you should check it out.

Melt the buttah…

“Pour, some, (brown) sugah on me….”

Stir it all together.

Pour it into the pie crust.

Now it’s time to make the scrumptious crumb topping.

Before adding the crumb topping drizzle on some caramel sauce. Homemade, store-bought, whatever you desire.

Bake at 375 degrees, for 30 minutes (mine baked for 35).

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Caramel Apple Crumb Pie

Ingredients:

CRUST*:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chilled butter or stick margarine, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
3 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon ice water
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
Butter-flavored cooking spray

FILLING:
1 tablespoon butter or stick margarine
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
9 cups sliced peeled Granny Smith apple (about 2 3/4 pounds)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons lemon juice

TOPPING:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons chilled butter or stick margarine, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup fat-free caramel sundae syrup

*I used store bought

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°.

To prepare crust, lightly spoon 1 cup flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine 1 cup flour and salt in a bowl; cut in 2 tablespoons butter and shortening with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle surface with ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time; add vinegar. Toss with a fork until moist and crumbly (do not form a ball).

Press mixture gently into a 4-inch circle on heavy-duty plastic wrap; cover with additional plastic wrap. Roll dough, still covered, to a 12-inch circle. Freeze 10 minutes or until plastic wrap can be easily removed.

Remove 1 sheet of plastic wrap; fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray.

Remove top sheet of plastic wrap. Fold edges under; flute. Line bottom of dough with a piece of foil; arrange pie weights (or dried beans) on foil. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes or until the edge is lightly browned. Remove pie weights and foil; cool on a wire rack.

To prepare filling, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Combine 1/2 cup brown sugar and cinnamon. Add sugar mixture and apples to skillet; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in 3 tablespoons flour and lemon juice. Spoon into prepared crust.

To prepare topping, lightly spoon 1/4 cup flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and 1/4 cup brown sugar in a bowl; cut in 2 tablespoons butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.
Drizzle syrup over apple mixture; sprinkle topping over syrup. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until apples are tender. Cool on a wire rack.

10 servings (serving size: 1 wedge)

CALORIES 277(27% from fat); FAT 8.4g (sat 4.2g,mono 2.4g,poly 1g); IRON 1.3mg; CHOLESTEROL 16mg; CALCIUM 33mg; CARBOHYDRATE 50.1g; SODIUM 109mg; PROTEIN 2.1g; FIBER 2.4g

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Rumors Are True

Everywhere I read on the food blogs, was NY Times chocolate chip cookie this, NY Times chocolate chip cookie that…  I am referring to the article written by the NY Times about the perfect cookie.  Now, let’s face some facts.  I’m not about to go out to the store and purchase the multiple flours, expensive chocolate, etc, etc.  What I AM willing to do is buy Ghirardelli chocolate chips & try out the method of refrigerating the dough.  I found a recipe from a very drool worthy website I love, Smitten Kitchen. This website is AWESOME. I luckily found her awesome chocolate chip cookie recipe. Unfortunately my cookies were nowhere near as photogenic as hers, but they tasted awesome. Here’s the recipe and in parentheses are my changes (not a lot of changes though, these were great to begin with).


Seriously, next time you know in advance you will be wanting chocolate chip cookies, I TOTALLY recommend refrigerating the dough. Even 24 hours made a difference. If you have 48 hours notice, EVEN BETTER! I think you can see from the pictures alone the difference in appearance.  From now on, I will always refrigerate the dough.  I can’t wait to buy some more chips so I can make these again!

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

adapted from Smitten Kitchen, originally from the Great Book of Chocolate

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) (115 grams) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch (1cm) pieces
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt or 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
1 1/2 cups (200 grams) semisweet chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli).
1 cup (130 grams) walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped (I completely forgot these)

Directions:

Beat the sugars and butters together until smooth. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and baking soda.

Stir together the flour and salt, then mix them into the batter. Mix in the chocolate chips and nuts. (I forgot to add nuts).

Press dough into a bottom of bowl, cover with plastic wrap, pressing onto the dough, so no air gets in. Refrigerate for 36-48 hours.

Scoop the cookie dough into 2-tablespoon (5cm) balls and place 8 balls, spaced 4 inches (10cm) apart, on each of the baking sheets.

Bake for 18 minutes at 300 degrees, or until pale golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Brantastic!

I really enjoying making healthy, but still yummy dishes. With blueberries being in season I wanted to make blueberry muffins. Using the Food Blog Search I started browsing for a good recipe. I came across a wonderful blog, Foodie Farm Girl. Her muffin recipe is very very good for you, and very yummy at the same time. I mean, her mother said they were the best bran muffin recipe ever. You can’t go wrong with a promise like that! What I liked MOST about this recipe is how healthy the ingredients are. It’s 100% whole grain & there’s NO added sugar. I don’t like muffins that are pretty much just a cupcake, and this one is definitely not. It’s a muffin; and a mighty good one! The only bummer was my own fault. I was out of my favorite all-natural yogurt, Cascade Fresh, and had to use Publix brand, which has artificial sweetners in it. Next time I’ll make sure and use the Cascade Fresh though.

She provides variations on this basic recipe. I wanted to try out the Blueberry Banana Bran version, and but The Boy doesn’t like blueberries, so I wanted to make half a different flavor. Before adding the blueberries I seperated the batter. One half got blueberries, the other half got crushed walnuts. Here’s the recipe. Now, what are you waiting for? Go bake these! You won’t be disappointed!

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Foodie Farmgirl Susan's Basic Bran Muffin

Ingredients:

2 cups (3oz/86g) wheat bran
1 cup (5oz/141g) oat bran
1 cup (6oz/170g) whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons (12g) baking soda
1 teaspoon (6g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (4g) salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup (5oz by weight/156g) milk
2/3 cup (5-1/2oz/156g) yogurt (I used vanilla flavored as that's all I had)
1/3 cup (2-1/4oz/65g) canola oil
1/3 cup (3-3/4oz/108g) molasses or cane syrup (I used local Tennessee sorghum)
1/3 cup (3-3/4oz/108g) honey
1 teaspoon (6g) vanilla extract (optional)

Directions:

Place oven rack in middle of oven and heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a standard size muffin pan. (I used liners but still sprayed them with cooking spray)

Combine wheat bran, oat bran, whole wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and set aside.

Combine eggs, milk, yogurt, canola oil, molasses, and honey in a small bowl and mix well. (Note: you can use all honey or all molasses instead if desired.) Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula just until combined.

Generously fill muffin cups with batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool muffins in pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then carefully remove from pan and serve warm, or let cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy them plain, drizzled with a little honey, or spread with peanut butter and a slather of your favorite jam. Store muffins in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze. Defrost muffins at room temperature, or in the microwave if you are in a hurry.

Blueberry Bran Muffins
Makes about 10 large muffins. Follow Basic Bran Muffin recipe, but gently fold 1-1/2 cups (7-1/2oz/214g) fresh or frozen blueberries into the batter. There is no need to defrost frozen berries, but do quickly rinse off any ice with cold water.

Blueberry Banana Bran Muffins
Makes 12-14 large and very moist muffins. Follow Basic Bran Muffin recipe, but stir mashed very ripe banana (2 small bananas, about about 9 oz/255g including peel) into wet ingredients. Then gently fold 1-1/2 cups (7-1/2oz/214g) fresh or frozen blueberries into the finished batter. Baking time may need to be increased to 25 to 28 minutes.

Cranberry Orange Bran Muffins
Makes about 10 large muffins. Follow Basic Bran Muffin recipe, but replace the 2/3 cup milk with 2/3 cup orange juice and omit the vanilla extract. Stir 1 cup (4-1/2oz/127g) orange flavored dried cranberries or regular dried cranberries to finished batter. For muffins with more orange flavor, stir 1 teaspoon finely chopped or grated orange zest into the wet ingredients. (When I make this version of them, I might try & use Cascade Fresh's Orange Cream flavored yogurt)

**Since posting this original post, I have also made the Cranberry Orange ones. They were equally delicious.

The pictures just don’t do it justice. These are great! Thanks again to Foodie Farm Girl. She has a GREAT blog, and this recipe is a keeper!

Click this picture to see the gorgeous texture of the bad boys!


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Summer Vegetable Tostadas

I’m a proud member of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). It’s been an enjoyable experience. Sometimes it’s challenging, but it has really helped me to broaden my cooking, and really learn how to cook in season. Here’s a recipe that uses great summer veggies, zucchini & corn I cut off the cob!

Overall we really liked this.  I know I did any way.  It definitely did make 4 servings.  I only ate 1, but The Boy had two.  I served it with refried beans (I LOVE refried beans).  This one’s a keeper!

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Chicken and Summer Vegetable Toastadas

from Cooking Light
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons canola oil
12 ounces chicken breast tenders
1 cup chopped red onion (about 1)
1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
1 cup chopped zucchini (about 4 ounces)
1/2 cup green salsa
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, divided (we're not cilantro fans, so I skipped this)
4 (8-inch) fat-free flour tortillas
Cooking spray
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Directions:

Preheat broiler.

Combine first 3 ingredients, stirring well. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the spice mixture evenly over chicken. Add chicken to pan; sauté for 3 minutes. Add onion, corn, and zucchini to pan; sauté for 2 minutes or until chicken is done. Stir in salsa and 2 tablespoons cilantro. Cook 2 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring frequently.

Working with 2 tortillas at a time, arrange tortillas in a single layer on a baking sheet; lightly coat tortillas with cooking spray. Broil 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Spoon about 3/4 cup chicken mixture in the center of each tortilla; sprinkle each serving with 1/4 cup cheese. Broil an additional 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Repeat procedure with remaining tortillas, chicken mixture, and cheese. Sprinkle each serving with about 3/4 teaspoon of remaining cilantro. Serve immediately.

CALORIES: 398 (30% from fat); FAT 13.1g (sat 5.9g,mono 4.1g,poly 1.2g); IRON 1.4mg; CHOLESTEROL 75mg; CALCIUM 236mg; CARBOHYDRATE 36.7g; SODIUM 799mg; PROTEIN 32.5g; FIBER 3.1g