Thursday, August 19, 2010

Peach Pie

There is something so satisfying about baking.  Pies in particular really make me feel accomplished and domestic.  Now that I have found the easiest and best crust recipe around, pies are literally easy as pie and just as wonderfully tasty. 

The peaches have been awesome around here lately, and I haven't been able to get enough of them.  Thus, the peach pie was born.  I loved making this pie.  Slicing the fresh peaches and letting the juice run down my hands and elbows was sticky and messy and amazing.  It felt really good to just get in the kitchen, make a mess, and in the process, create a pie - something tangible, beautiful and delicious.  And since I wasn't the only one to enjoy it, it was infinitely better.  It really doesn't get much better than sharing a homemade pie with family and friends.

Peach Pie

For the crust, see my post for Cherry Pie, here.

The filling recipe came from Kitchen Parade.

6-8 cups ripe peaches, skins on
1 1/3 cups sugar
4-6 tablespoons flour (depending on how many peaches you use)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons butter

Slice the peaches in six or eight pieces lengthwise, then each piece into three or four pieces. In a large saucepan, gently stir together the peaches, sugar, flour and nutmeg. Let rest at room temperature for 20 – 30 minutes until a peachy syrup forms. With a slotted spoon, move the peach pieces to a bowl. Bring the remaining liquid to a boil over medium heat, reduce to low, cook for about 10 minutes or until just beginning to thicken. Stir in the peaches; stirring often, cook for another 10 minutes or until the peaches are tender. Take the pan off the heat, stir in vanilla and butter, stirring until butter melts. Let cool to room temperature. (The peach filling can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.)

Preheat oven to 425F. Roll the top crust, cut into nine long narrow strips. Working quickly, pour the filling into the bottom crust and arrange the pastry strips in a lattice, five strips running left to right, four strips running up and down. Turn the overhang over to form the crust’s edge, pinch to seal.
Bake at 425F for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350F, bake for another 25-35 minutes or until the crust is golden on top and bottom and the filling is bubbly.
Let cool for 2 hours or more. Slice and serve.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Best Tin Foil Dinners

The first time I ever had a tin foil dinner, I was disgusted.  I had made it per my husband's instructions - ground beef, carrots, potatoes - and then seasoned the heck out of it.  I was sure that it would turn out so well, but when we ate them, it tasted like nothing.  It was just texture.  I asked if that was what they were supposed to taste like and he said, "Yeah.  Just put some ketchup on it."  Lovely.  So now I was eating textured ketchup.  The next opportunity I had to make a tin foil dinner was this last weekend.  I made sure that we would not be eating the traditional tasteless mush and would be actually eating something we wanted to put in our mouths.

When making this recipe, I decided that it was essential to go way over the top on flavor at first.  The fire had cooked out all flavor before, so I figured that if there was way too much flavor to start with, we might end up somewhere in the middle.  I figured right.  The end result was absolutely perfect.  Cheesy, creamy and delicious.  The sauce soaked right into the vegetables and marinated the chicken.  My husband said that it was the best tin foil dinner he's ever had.  He said, "You have to understand.  These are traditional.  They don't usually taste good, so these are awesome."  I guess I did something right.  And finishing the meal off with a Reese's smore doesn't hurt either.

The Best Tin Foil Dinners

2 large Yukon gold potatoes, sliced
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 chicken breasts, cut into pieces
Salt and pepper
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon chicken Better than Bouillon, or 1 chicken bouillon cube
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Lay out 2-3 large pieces of tin foil.  Lay the potatoes and carrots in each of the pieces of foil.  In a large skillet or medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then cook in the oil until almost cooked through.  Take off the heat and let cool for a few minutes.  Layer the chicken in each piece of foil.  Drain the skillet of excess liquid.
In the same skillet over medium heat, add soup, butter, sour cream and Better than Bouillon.  Cook until butter melts and ingredients are mixed, stirring frequently.  Add cheddar and stir until melted.  Add pepper to taste.  Take off the heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.
Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables.  Wrap up well.  Wrap each foil packet with 2 more pieces of foil.
When outside, let the fire burn down until there are just smoldering logs left.  Put the dinners in and turn a few times.  You'll have to watch it though, since cooking time will entirely depend on the heat of your fire and the foil you used.  It will probably take about 10-20 minutes.  Unwrap and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Smoky Chili Joes

These are what my husband describes as the best sloppy joes he's ever had.  In fact, when I made them the other day, I made them early because my husband had to travel for work that night.  He stopped at home to grab a few things before he left, and was excited to see that I had made them.  He then proceeded to wolf down two of them in 10 minutes or less.  They are truly different from any other sloppy joes I've ever had, which is good, because generally I hate them.  And although they don't use any summer produce, they really are summer fare.  Delicious.

Smoky Chili Joes
from Cooking Light, December 2006

1/2 pound extra lean ground beef (I used turkey)
1/2 cup chopped onion (I omitted this)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 chipotle chile powder (I used regular chili powder)
1/4 cup ketchup
1 15-oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes, with green pepper and onions, undrained (I used regular)
6 hamburger buns
6 tablespoons shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I used more)
12 pickles

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add beef to pan; cook 4 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble.  Add onion and garlic to pan; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add cumin, chili powder and chipotle chili powder, and cook 30 seconds.  Stir in ketchup, beans and tomatoes; cook 6 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Spoon about 2/3 cup beef mixture over 6 bottom bun halves, and top each with 1 tablespoon cheese and 2 pickles.  Top with remaining bun halves.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Raspberry Cream Pie

This pie is divine.  Divine.  It's the first thing in a long time that my husband has just raved about.  I saw it on Ree Drummond's blog The Pioneer Woman a few days ago and absolutely had to make it, so I did the next day.  It was just delectable.  If this doesn't make you want to make it, I don't know what will.
My daughter was simply dying to eat this once I showed her the "pink pie".  She devoured it, made a huge mess of the kitchen, and was so cute doing it that all I could do was snap pictures of her and her sticky face and hands.
This is perfect for those hot summer days (not that we've had many of those out here in Oregon lately) and most definitely uses those juicy, delicious summer raspberries.  Make it before summer ends!  You'll thank me.  And the Pioneer Woman.

Raspberry Cream Pie
by Ree Drummond on The Pioneer Woman

25 whole Oreos
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup (generous) raspberries
3 tablespoons sugar
2 6-oz containers raspberry yogurt
1 3.4-oz package vanilla instant pudding mix
1 cup heavy cream

To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350.  Crush cookies in a food processor (or smash in a plastic bag with a rolling pin).  Stir in melted butter until combined.  Pour into a pie pan and press crumbs all over the pan and up the sides.  Bake for 3-4 minutes - just long enough for it to set.  Cool crust completely.
Place raspberries on a plate.  Smash them with a fork, then sprinkle on 3 tablespoons of sugar.  Stir together and allow to sit for 15 minutes.
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the yogurt with the pudding mix (powder only).  Beat on low until combined, about 1 minute.  Pour in heavy cream and whip on low for 30 seconds.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Turn mixer on medium-high speed and beat for 2 minutes, or until thick.
Turn off mixer, then fold in raspberries until just combined.  Pour into cooled pie crust and spread evenly.  Freeze for 2 hours, or until very firm.  Allow time to thaw before serving.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sweet Corn Chowder

I realized on Sunday that is already August.  August!  As usual, this year has flown by and I have no idea where the time went.  As a kid, I remember it taking forever for Christmas to come, but now it seems to sneak up on me every year.  August means that we only have one more month of summer produce before the fall bounty starts coming in.  But I'm not quite ready!  I didn't use the summer flavors to their fullest.  So before apple season is upon us, I am going to share with you some awesome recipes to use up all of those summer fruits and vegetables before they go away.  First up: corn.  This recipe comes from Ari who runs both Baking and Books and The Vegetarian Family Table.  I lover her sites.  This is a tasty and very low fat recipe considering how creamy the end product is.  My husband described this as creamed corn soup, and he's pretty much dead on.  Sprinkle some cheddar cheese on top and you have a perfect summer meal.

Sweet Summer Corn Chowder

4 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup diced scallions, white and light green parts only (I omitted this)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup flour
4 cups skim milk (use what you have, I used 1%)
2 cups vegetable stock
Kernels from 6 ears of corn
1/2 cup cheddar cheese

In a large soup pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the scallions and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the scallions are soft, about 2-3 minutes.  Turn the heat down to medium and add the flour, stirring constantly until the mixture turns a light golden brown and smells cooked.
Add the milk and vegetable stock, stirring until it has combined with the flour mixture, about 2-3 minutes.
Add the corn kernels and bring to a boil.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn has cooked through, about 15 minutes.
Remove 1/4 cup of the kernels, then puree the chowder.  To do this: Remove the soup from the burner, and puree with a hand blender or a regular blender.  If you use a regular blender be sure not to create an airtight seal with the lid by closing the top entirely.  If you do, heat from the chowder will cause hot air to expand and splatter chowder all over you. (Believe me, it will.  I've done it before.  Not fun.  I have a hand blender now though, and it's much easier.)  If you have a hand blender, it's definitely the easier way to go.
Stir in the cheddar cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Ladle the chowder into bowls and top with the reserved corn kernels.  I topped it with more cheddar too.
Note: For a thicker chowder, you can add 1 large peeled and diced baking potato to the pot when you add the corn kernels.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Chicken Pasties, or Chicken Hand Pies

One of my food blogging idols is Jaime on Sophistimom.  If you have not visited her site, please, go visit it and revel in her beautiful pictures and wonderful recipes.  I saw this amazing recipe on her site and just had to try it.  Not the least of the reasons why is because while reading Harry Potter my mouth always waters at the mention of pasties, and here is a recipe for one!  But that's a story for another time.  Today I'm paying tribute to Jaime and her beautiful blog.  These are essentially a chicken pot pie wrapped in a pastry, making it easily transportable.  And was it ever delicious.  I think I needed to use a little bit more of the chicken broth in the filling, and I think a little bit too much flour got into my pastry, but it was heavenly nonetheless.  When you see the method, please don't let it turn you off from making it.  It looks long, but it's not hard and doesn't even take up all that much time.  In fact, the pastry and the filling can both me made as early as the night before and then refrigerated until needed.  Make them for someone special for an extra treat.  Make them for a picnic or a camping trip.  They really are fabulous, and you will not regret it.

Chicken Pasties, or Chicken Hand Pies
by Jaime on Sophistimom

1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced (I omitted this and added more celery to replace it)
1 stalk celery, finely diced (I added 1-2 stalks)
2 large carrots, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 14-oz can chicken stock
1 bouillon cube or 1 tablespoon Better than Bouillon
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Pastry dough (recipe follows)
1 egg, plus a teaspoon of water, beaten

Place potatoes in a medium saucepan, and cover with water.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Cook until potatoes are tender to the point of a knife.  Drain and set aside.  While the potatoes cook, set a large skillet over medium low heat and add in the olive oil, onion, celery, and carrots.  Cook until onions are very tender, about 12-15 minutes.
Melt butter into the mixture and stir in flour.  Let cook for 2 minutes or so, just to let the flour taste cook out.  Pour in about half of the can of chicken stock.  Add the bouillon and potatoes.  Let simmer for a few minutes and taste for flavor.  Add salt and pepper if needed.  Add in chicken and simmer until cooked through.  The mixture should be thick, but not too dry.  Add more chicken stock until you achieve the desired consistency (she used the whole can).  Store mixture in refrigerator until ready to use (the pies are easier to make if the filling is cold).
Preheat oven to 425.  Place a piece of parchment paper in a baking sheet and set aside.  Roll out the pastry dough on a floured surface 18x22-inch rectangle.  (A note on rolling: I have no idea how people get perfect circles or rectangles when rolling.  I never can.  So don't worry if some of your pies are misshapen - they will still taste good!)  Cut in half, then cut each half in thirds, to make 6 equal smaller rectangles.
Spoon 1/4 cup of the chicken mixture onto one of the rectangles of dough, placing it slightly off center.  Wet the edges of the dough with a pastry brush and water, and fold the longer end of the pastry up and over the filling.  Press the dough down to seal it, and then crimp with the edges of a fork.  Place on the prepared baking sheet.  Make two incisions in the top of the pastry with a sharp knife, and brush with the beaten egg and water.  Repeat with remaining 5 pastries.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and puffed.

Pastry Dough

2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/3 cup ice cold water

In a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse together the flour, salt and sugar.  Add in the butter, and pulse a few times until the mixture is crumbly and resembles coarse meal.  Combine the egg and water in a container (remove all ice pieces).  While the processor is running, pour the water/egg mixture in and pulse until mixture just comes together.
Pour mixture out onto a floured board and knead a few times to bring all the ingredients together. (I think this is where I got too much flour in the dough.  Be careful!)  Dough can be rolled out immediately, or it can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days.
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