November 24, 2009

My favorite thanksgiving pie

I keep saying it but it's shocking how fast time has flown since I had my Baby Strawberry. She's getting so big (10 weeks tomorrow and 11 pounds already) and I'm loving every minute. Thanksgiving is here already and that means some serious cooking with the holidays starting. We'll be enjoying a good ham (with some turkey on the side, I'm not the only person who much prefers ham, right?), hot homemade rolls (my assignment), and plenty of pies from the woman who taught me how to crimp a crust- my Aunt CarmaLee. It's going to be wonderful and a holiday I look forward to every year.

If you haven't planned your menu yet, I'd really recommend this beautiful and delicious Apple pie from Dorie Greenspan. I've never been a huge pumpkin fan, except for that sugar and chocolate loaded bread, and will take an apple pie over that any day. Apples are a buck a pound around here right now and you can bet this will be gracing our table. Pile in those apples, don't think about the calories, and enjoy the time of year. There's a lot to be thankful for (especially, for me, the people in my little strawberry patch!)

Don't forget to come back next week for a special giveaway...

All-American All-Delicious Apple Pie
adapted from Dorie Greenspan (and casually typed- buy the book already to enjoy her beautiful writing, photographs, and recipes of course!)

Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough for a double crust, chilled (see instructions below)
4 pounds (about 6 very large) apples - I used a mix of Pink Ladies, Fujis, Granny Smith, and Golden Delicious - whatever looks good and a nice mix of textures and sweetness
3/4 cup sugar
Grated zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca or 1 tablespoon Ultra Gel
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs (or dried bread crumbs, unseasoned)
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
milk and sugar for the optional glaze

Assembly Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 425. Peel, core and slice the apples. Put the apples into a large bowl and add the sugar, lemon zest, tapioca (I used Ultra gel), cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Toss together and let sit for five minutes.

Remove the pie crust from the fridge and sprinkle the crumbs over the bottom of the crust (to help prevent sogginess) and then turn the apples and the juices into the crust. The apples will heap over the top of the crust. Pat them into an even mound. Dot the apples with the bits of cold butter.

Lightly moisten the rim of the bottom crust with water, place the top crust over the pie, and crimp together after cutting overhang.

Use a sharp knife to cut slits into the top crust. Brush the top crust with a little milk and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake the pie for 15 minutes (at 425). Reduce the heat to 375 and bake for another 50 to 60 minutes, or until the crust is browned and the juices are bubbling. Check on the pie after a half an hour or so to make sure it’s not browning too quickly (use a foil tent in that case).
Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and let it rest until just warm. Serve with ice cream.

Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough
adapted from Dorie Greenspan

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks very cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
3/8 cup very cold (frozen is even better) Crisco (plain, not butter flavored), cut into 4 pieces
About 1/2 cup ice water

Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse just to combine the ingredients. Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse only until the butter and shortening are cut into the flour. Don't overdo the mixing—what you're aiming for is to have pieces the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley.

Pulsing the machine on and off, add 3 tablespoons of the water—add a little water and pulse once; add some more water and pulse again; and keep going that way. Then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour. If after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn't look evenly moistened or form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water, or even a few drops more, to get a dough that will stick together when pinched. If you've got big pieces of butter, that's fine. The dough is ready and should be scraped out of the work bowl and on to a smooth work surface. (be careful not too add too much water- if the dough looks dry after adding most of the water, pinch it with your hands to check if it's coming together, and finish combining it by hand)

Shape the dough into a disk and wrap it. Refrigerate the dough at least 1 hour before rolling. The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

November 17, 2009

TWD- Cranberry Caramel Apple Crisp with Walnuts

Now that I have two kids I figure it's about time to be a grown up. Part of that entails nuts, since my mom always told me I would like them when I got older. You know how grown ups always opt for the nuts on their sundaes and in their banana bread (blasphemy!)? But I'll be honest... I'm not quite there yet. I love certain nuts but I'd never want nuts in my cookies and heaven forbid they get sprinkled on top of something creamy like pudding and ruin the texture. And cocoNUT? I don't want that in any form (am I the only person who thinks it tastes like sunblock?) However, one thing I've decided actually really benefits from the addition of nuts is any sort of crumb topping, so I added walnuts to topping of this delicious crisp and then threw in some chopped up caramel since I'm really still a kid at heart.

Now in all seriousness, one thing I've learned since I started baking too often is that you should follow your instincts with a recipe. Too often I've thought- I should add some whatever and decided to follow the recipe instead, only to try the final product and wish it had cinnamon or whatever I'd left out. I'm still up for trying new things and techniques but when I saw this recipe I knew it needed orange zest so I added it and it worked out great. The flavor enhanced all the others and was nice and subtle.

I'd also recommend subbing some whole wheat flour in the topping. With all the spice and flavors no one will be the wiser (how's that for grown up!) Don't forget you can easily sub in the fruits or nuts you have on hand or in the freezer- this recipe is good like that. Here's the recipe with my changes. I'm definitely going to make this again! Thanks for the fun choice, Repressed Pastry Chef! See the original there and don't miss the other versions from all the TWD peeps. This really is a delicious and quick recipe- perfect with all the holiday craziness already creeping up.

Cran-Apple Crisps
adapted from Baking by Dorie Greenspan

For the topping
¾ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup (packed) light brown sugar
½ cup old-fashioned oats
¾ cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter cut into 4 pieces

For the filling
5 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch chunks
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (if frozen, don’t thaw)
½ cup moist, plump craisins (if you are like me and bought the enormous bag at Costco and they've seen better days, plump them up in some hot water, or orange juice even, before mixing in)
1/2 cup chopped up Peter's caramel (or kraft caramels if you haven't succumbed and bought this yet, but you should!)
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Getting Ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly butter eight ovenproof cups or bowls, each with a capacity of about one cup. Put the cups on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

To make the topping:
Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse just until the mixture forms big curds, about 1 minute. (You can make the topping up to 3 days ahead and refrigerate it in an airtight bag.)

To make the filling:
Toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Divide the fruit evenly among the cups then spoon an equal amount of topping over each portion of fruit. Bake the crisps for 40-45 minutes or until the topping is golden and the fruit juices are bubbling up around it. Transfer the cups to a rack and let them rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. Top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for the perfect fall dessert.

November 11, 2009

Meeting the Pioneer Woman (and her Chicken Pot Pie)

Last week my mom and I went to see the Pioneer Woman at her Phoenix book signing. I couldn't believe how many people were crammed into the little book store! Fortunately, we found a seat and enjoyed chatting with some great people while we waited. When she came out the room erupted in applause and that kept happening all night! My daughter was pretty scared by the noise but she must have enjoyed Ree, because she didn't cry once and was cute and smiley and even met her sister, Missy.

Ree answered some fun questions. My favorite came from a little girl who asked, "Do you have elephants?" Ree just said, "No Honey, but I think I need them!" Then someone asked if she minded that everyone was in love with husband. She didn't. Someone else asked how she keeps in such great shape with all the butter in her recipes, she just laughed and said she works at it like the rest of us (I thought in my head, portion control, and working a ranch, come on!) She was really funny and down to earth. After she finished answering questions they called up the A group for signing and said those with little kids could come up too so they could get to bed. I booked it to the front and was the third in line. I thought that was really sweet of her. I was in group L on my ticket and there were 30 for each letter!

(pic from PW- see me there, just barely?)

So now I'm sure you're wondering about my really high quality pictures. I didn't want to bring my big camera since I had my baby strawberry to carry and wanted to pack light. So I meant to ask my mom to bring her purse camera but forgot in all the stress (newborns always want to eat at the most inconvenient times) and so all I had was my cell phone. When Ree was signing my book, I asked the girl behind me to take our picture and it didn't work. By the time I realized it was too late and I was so disappointed. My mom told me to go ask Missy, her sister, if she would take another so I did. Missy held my little cutie and it all worked out.

Ree was really sweet while she signed my book. She asked how old my baby was (seven weeks I said, and this is her first big thing- she hasn't even been to Church yet!). Then she asked if she was my first. I told her about my little boy and she said, "Yeah, I can tell from the way you're holding her over your arm, you aren't too nervous." "I have to chase a toddler all day, I need all the hands I can get I told her!" I think she understood that.

So all in all, the signing was a lot of fun. We at great food at Wildflower Bread Co next door (Butternut Squash salad with Gorgonzola and a Cranberry Balsamic Vinaigrette and Potato soup), enjoyed listening to PW, and got some new material for our upcoming meals. I'll post them as we try them.

Check out her book on Amazon. I love having her great recipes at my finger tips and seeing all the photos of her life that seems so different from mine (minus the butter... we both like to use that!)

I thought I'd make dinner out of here for a while and here is the first recipe- Chicken Pot Pie. It came together in a flash and was flaky and filling. Perfect.

For better directions than I'd ever be able to give (people, I have about 15 minutes a day without a child physically attached right now, I can't take all those process photos and get in a shower) visit Ree.

Notes on the Recipe-

I made one batch and was able to make two "Marie Calendar's" size pot pies (I love those tins- the right size and no worries if you lose one- and my husband brings them home from work all the time, since I don't buy pie!)

Instead of adding the peas with the other veggies, I added them after the filling was all cooked. I think that keeps them greener and prettier and I'm kind of vain like that. I also added extra carrots since I LOVE them. Sorry about the crappy action shot. We were hungry and in a hurry to watch Transformers 2 from Netflix. We should have slowed down and enjoyed the pie, it was better than the movie. Really really.

Lastly, I used my favorite "cooking wine" with a dash of white wine vinegar. In honor of PW, I even took a picture (or asked my mom too, she's a budding food photographer I think, don't you like the shot of the pie with the heart on it?)

More PW woman recipes coming soon! And happy Veteran's Day! Today we're arranging the nursery, eating cinnamon swirl french toast, and enjoying my husband's day off. Hope yours is great, too!

November 10, 2009

TWD- Molasses Crinkle Cookies

Most people don't make these cookies. They don't know what they are. But they love them, which is why this is my mom's signature recipe. Her recipe is a little different- with shortening and cloves. However, I liked Dorie's almost as much (don't tell my mom) because they tasted almost the same- but buttery, too. And we all know I'm with Ina and Paula on team butter, in moderation of course. I'd challenge you to make them, but my mom would say, "If everyone makes them they won't be as special." These are indeed special cookies... and you should make them. If you don't have all spice, use cloves like we do around here. But make them either way.

Notes on the recipe- I didn't squish them quite as much as Dorie said and they still flattened. I think that must be a desert things- my cookies tend to be a little flatter here for some reason. Also, I underbaked them a little since I like them soft and chewy. Yum.

Come back tomorrow to hear about the Pioneer Woman! I went to the book signing in Phoenix and I'm even on this post if you look hard. I'll have one of her recipes up and pictures of my Baby Strawberry at the event. You won't want to miss it!

Recipe- Find it here, on page 77, or on Pamela's wonderful blog. This is one you REALLY need to make. Honest. I might even type it in later when my baby isn't crying... because you'll love these!

*edit- I was going to add the pepper to half the batch and have a blind test to see what everyone preferred, but I totally forgot! Next time! And if you made these, let me know how you liked the pepper...

Dorie's Molasses Crinkles
recipe adapted from Baking by Dorie Greenspan

2 1/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice (or cloves)
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
1 large egg
1/2 cup sugar, for rolling

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk together the dry team. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar and molasses and beat for 2 minutes or so to blend, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the egg and beat for 1 minute more. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing until the flour and spices disappear. If some flour remains in the bottom of the bowl, to avoid over-beating the dough, mix in the last of the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula. You'll have a smooth, very soft dough. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats. Scoop the dough out and roll in the reserve sugar. Place 12 on each baking sheet and squish slightly with a glass, spatula, or your fingers.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the tops feel set to the touch. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and, if the cookies have spread and are touching, use the edge of a metal spatula to separate them while they are still hot.

November 5, 2009

Orange Rolls (quick and light... you can do it!)

{printable recipe}

Okay maybe "light" isn't the best word for these rolls, but compared to some I've made and eaten (and certainly enjoyed) these are pretty light. I started with my new favorite cinnamon roll dough and instead of using lemon zest in the dough, I used orange zest. Then after I rolled the dough out I covered it with sugar rubbed with the zest of an orange, a fragrant, delicious mixture. Roll it up, slice, rise, bake. The if you want to go along with the "light" idea top with a thin powdered sugar glaze. Or go for the good stuff with a nice orange cream cheese frosting.

Halloween is over, my friends, and the holidays are here. Are you ready? Soon it will be Christmas and the citrus trees will be heavy with ripe oranges. I'm going to pretend like its already here and make another batch of these. You should too! And really, if my little man can do this, I know you can... your family will thank you!

Orange Rolls
adapted from the Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

{printable recipe}

Yields one big baking sheet worth of rolls (about 12-18 depending on how you slice them- I like a little variation so people can choose a big or small roll- use a bench cutter for neat slices or dental floss in a pinch)

6 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 1/2 tablespoons shortening or butter, at room temperature
1 large egg, slightly beaten
grated zest of two oranges, divided use
3 1/2 cups bread or all purpose flour (I used King Arthur's bread flour)
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/8 to 1 1/4 cups milk, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar (for filling)

Cream together sugar, salt, and shortening on medium high speed in mixer with paddle attachment. Whip in the egg and one teaspoon of the orange zest until smooth. Then add the flour, yeast, and milk. Mix on low speed until the dough forms a ball. Switch to the dough hook and mix for about 10 minutes on medium, or until the dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky. Add a little flour or water if necessary to attain this texture.

Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough into it, cover, and let rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Rub together remaining orange zest with 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl until fragrant.

Lightly flour or oil a counter and roll the dough into a rectangle about 2/3 inch thick, or 18 by 9 inches wide. Sprinkle the orange sugar over the dough and roll it up into a log, with the seam down. Slice the log, making the pieces about an inch thick. Place on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and let rise until nearly doubled (about an hour in my lovely desert home).

Bake at 350 on the middle rack for 20 to 30 minutes, or until gold brown. Remove from oven, let cool, and glaze with powdered sugar icing or cream cheese icing.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
1 block Neufchatel (reduced fat) cream cheese, softened
1 stick of butter, softened
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 bag (1 pound) powdered sugar
Fresh squeezed orange juice (from the zested oranges), as needed (about 1 tablespoon)

Cream the cream cheese, butter, and orange zest until smooth and well combined. With the mixer off, add the powdered sugar. Cover with a clean dish towel and combine on low speed until the sugar is incorporated. Remove towel and increase speed to make a smooth frosting, adding orange juice until desired consistency is reached.

Spread on slightly cooled orange rolls and enjoy!

November 4, 2009

Baby Strawberry

Dear Friends,

I'm sorry my mom has been slacking lately with recipes and stopping by your lovely blogs to say hello, but I've been a bit of a distraction! You can't really blame her, though, because although I don't yet enjoy the types of food she loves to make, I do love my very frequent feedings.

Don't worry, though, because mom is still craving chocolate like crazy and my dad is hungry as usual. There's still food coming out of our kitchen, even if there's less time to make it in!

Baby Strawberry

November 3, 2009

Candy Bar Peanut Butter Cookies

Whew! Halloween was a ton of fun but I'm glad it's over. I'll admit I'm slightly scared by the overly frightening yard decorations and the pounds of candy all the children around me are ingesting, although I love seeing all the kids in their costumes. My son had a ton of fun trick or treating and even though we only did a little bit, we have a scary amount of candy, especially considering my sleep deprived and slightly hormonal postpartum state! Like a good parent I promptly picked through his bucket after he went to bed Saturday and removed the snickers/musketeers/milky ways (for baking) and the tootsie rolls (for me, ahem). He's only two, he didn't even notice.

I'm sure you have a lot of candy lying around, too, which is why I think you should try these sneaky little peanut butter cookies. I use my favorite dough recipe (from my mom's aunt, it's a good one, too) and after I scoop the dough, I flatten it out and put in a 1 inch piece of candy bar, happily pilfered from my son. Then I wrap the dough back up around it, squish it a little, and bake as usual. The end result is WAY better than a regular peanut butter cookie, which I still make for my non chocolate eating tall man.

If you are feeling particularly indulgent, try chocolate dough (like my Paradise Bakery Black and White Chippers Copy Cat recipe) with mint three musketeers or yorks. Oh man. I could probably live on those alone...

Candy Bar Peanut Butter Cookies
from Anne Strawberry

Note- I like my cookies a little bit flatter, so I squished these before and after baking. If you like them a little puffier, look at this post and all the goo-iness. Yum.

1 cup softened butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup smooth peanut butter
2 2/3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 bag bite size candy bars (or 4 full size bars) - Snickers, Milky Way, Three Musketeers, etc

Preheat oven to 375. Cut candy bars into 1 inch pieces and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until well combined. Mix in peanut butter. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Scoop dough out, flatten slightly in your palm. Place one piece of candy into the middle and roll in your hand to wrap the chocolate into the middle of the dough. Please on baking sheet, spacing apart generously, and bake from 9-12 minutes until dough has set but before cookies take on too much color. Remove from sheet and allow to cool. Enjoy warm!