Sunday, January 16, 2011

Double-Crust Pie Dough

This crust is great for pies, and awesome for quiche. Crispy, with just a hint of sweetness... it's a great crust.

2 & 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, plus extra for counter
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
8 Tbsp. shortening, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
12 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
6-8 Tbsp. ice water

Put 1/2 cup of water in the freezer to be used in a few minutes.

Combine flour, sugar, and salt in food processor. Sprinkle shortening over the top and proces until it looks like sand, about 10 seconds. Scatter butter and pulse 10 times. Mixture should resemble coarse crumbs. DON'T OVERPULSE. Better to need to mix more than to over mix.

Sprinkle 6 Tbsp of ice water over the mixture, and press the dough together with a rubber spatula. If the dough is still not coming together, add ice water, 1 Tbsp at a time, until it can be mixed.

Divide the dough into 2 portions, pressing each portion into a flat 4-inch disc. Cover each disc with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour. *** Remove dough & roll to fit into pie plate.

(*** At this point in the recipe, the dough can be frozen for future use, for up to 2 months***)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Two great Chicken & Broccoli recipes

This recipe is always delicious, and looks beautiful to serve guests!

And my friend Bethany shared this recipe, and it's wonderful. This is my standard quiche recipe, and I just alter what's inside (leftover fajita chicken w/ red bell pepper is sooooo tasty).

Sesame Chicken

(Thanks to my friend Jamie for introducing us to this recipe!)

  • 1 pound chicken, chopped
  • Coat in 1 part flour/1 part cornstarch
  • Fry on stovetop in small amount of oil
  • Brown sesame seeds in pan in small amount of oil
  • Mix together the following for sauce:
    - 1 c. water
    - 1 c. sugar
    - 1/4 c. vinegar
    - 4 Tbsp. soy sauce
    - 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • Add to fried chicken pieces, and stir until thickened.
  • Add sesame seeds, and serve over rice.

Classic Cream Scones

(from my friend Wendy)

Yields about 14 scones

2 c. flour
1/4 c. granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 c. chilled unsalted butter
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 lg. egg
1 & 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg mixed w/ 1 tsp water (for glaze)

Preheat oven to 425.

In large bowl, stir together dry ingredients. Cut butter into 1/2 inch cubes and distribute over flour mixture, cutting into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

In small bowl, stir together cream, egg, and vanilla. Add cream mixture to flour mixture until combined.

With lightly floured hands, pat dough onto lightly floured cutting board/counter to a 1/2 inch thickness. Using a floured biscuit cutter (or pizza cutter), cut out desired shapes.

Lightly brush scones with glaze if desired, then bake 13-15 minutes or until lightly browned.

Fresh Pesto

(Great recipe for when you have an overabundance of basil leaves to use up!)

3 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
2 garlic cloves
3/4 c. fresh parsley
1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. melted butter
1/3 c. parmesan
Salt to taste.

Process all ingredients in food processor or blender. Serve over freshly cooked pasta, top with parmesan cheese. You can freeze extra in baggies or ice cube trays for future use.

Lasagna Worth Making

This lasagna happens in several steps. Yes, it takes time to make lasagna... but I guarantee that this lasagna is worth making. Well, I think so anyway... and everyone I've ever served it to has said it's the best lasagna they've ever tasted. So give it a whirl, and tell me if you agree.

Lasagna Worth Making

Sauce Ingredients:
1 pound ground beef
1-2 yellow onions
olive oil
1 garlic head
5-8 large tomatoes (or 28 oz. in cans)
6 oz. tomato paste
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried basil (or 1 Tbsp fresh, chopped basil)
1 bay leaf
2 cups water
  1. Chop up your onions and garlic. Onions can be diced... garlic needs to be minced.
  2. Sautee your onions in olive oil in the frying pan, just enough to coat the onions. Once softened, add in your beef and brown the meat.
  3. While meat is browning, chop up your tomatoes.
  4. Once meat is browned, add in everything else on the list above: (garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, red pepper flakes, sugar, basil, bay leaf, and water). Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to lowest setting. Simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir occasionally. Sauce will reduce and thicken.

While sauce is cooking, make the following:

Ricotta cheese filling:
8-10 ounces ricotta cheese (leave undrained)
2 large eggs, beaten
whole milk (maybe)
parsley (if you have it)
  • Combine ricotta cheese with 2 beaten eggs. If thick, add a Tbsp or so of milk until it is a smooshable consistency. That's right, I said smooshable.
  • If you have parsley, add in about 1 tsp of parsley. Fresh is even better. If not, don't sweat it!

Also, you'll need 1 box lasagna noodles (specifically, you'll need 12 noodles), 1 cup of water and roughly 1 pound shredded mozzerella or meltable white cheese (for those here in Turkey with me, I like the white cheese found at Bim... it comes in 1 kilo blocks, and has a mountain scene on the package. It's the best cheese I've found for general use like this).

Once the sauce is ready, you'll want to have all your ingredients around your 9 x 13 baking dish. To make your lasagna, do the following:
  • First, take a serving spoon-ful of the liquidy sauce at the top of the sauce pan, and use it to coat the bottom of the baking dish. This will serve as your greasing of the pan.
  • Then, you'll want to proceed in the following order, repeating yourself 4 times (so for each layer, you'll want to use approximately 1/4th of whatever ingredient you're pulling from.):
  1. Lasagna noodles-- 3 across
  2. Ricotta cheese-- use approximately one heaping forkful on each noodle. Then use your fork to smash down and spread across the noodles. It won't cover it, and that's fine, just get it to where it's evened out throughout the pan, across the noodles.
  3. Sauce-- A few serving-spoon-fuls across the cheese mixture. Try to spread it out, but remember to just use about 1/4th of the sauce for each layer. It should almost cover the layer below. (This is where you get to be Madam Chef. If things look a bit dry, use some of that 1 cup of water to just pour over this layer. We want the noodles to fully cook, and so you can just add a splash of water here or there as needed in this layer. Have confidence in yourself... it won't likely mess up either way!)
  4. Shredded cheese. Use slightly less than 1/4th of the cheese for each layer, so that you can completely cover the dish on the top layer.
That's it.

Then stick it in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until the top is nice and browned, and the sauce is no longer liquidy. This is one of my prized recipes, for company, and just for enjoyment by our family as well. I hope you enjoy it too.

P.S. - this meal is easily doubled and you can serve one to your family, and take another to a friend who just had a baby, just had surgery, etc. Lasagna is a classic meal for those circumstances, but homemade is even more of a treat!

MamaJo's Chili

We love this chili... delicious, and fairly easy to make:
  • Sautee 1-2 lg. onions in vegetable oil.
  • Then add & brown 1 lb. ground beef
  • Add:
    1 minced garlic (not one clove, one garlic)
    1 Tbsp. chili powder
    1 tsp salt
    1 tsp cumin
    1 tsp oregano
    1 Tbsp cocoa
    1/2 tsp red pepper sauce (I never have this, so I add a good few dashes of red pepper flakes)
    16 oz. diced tomatoes (I just eyeball this, and dice up 4-8 good-sized tomatoes)
    *** I also add in about 1/2 c. tomato paste & 1-2 cups of water, but this is optional, and not part of the original recipe.***
  • Bring to a boil, then let simmer one hour, stirring occasionally. Then add a 15 ounce can of kidney beans (don't drain it). Let simmer an additional 15-20 minutes, then serve.
Delicious by itself, with crackers, over hot dogs, over Fritos, or any other way you can dream up. Everyone but my dainty daughter loves this chili... and we can forgive her; her tastebuds aren't fully developed. :)

[UPDATE- as of 10/19/2012, even Maranatha loves this chili.  She called it "soup" but we can forgive her that too.  :) ]

Pizza Crust

Best recipe I've found:

In addition to making a great pizza, I've also rolled it out even thinner and then used it to make pizza rolls. (For that, you just roll it out thin, cover it in pepperoni and cheese, and then roll up, beginning at the widest side. Then, cut the rolled "log" into 1/2-inch slices. Cook @ 425 for 15 minutes.) That, too, comes out sensational.

Chocoluxe Cookies

These are the most incredibly chocolatey cookies I've ever eaten. Enjoy.

  • 2 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. cocoa
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp instant coffee
  • 10 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 & 1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 16 oz. chocolate melted and cooled (I usually do a mix of milk chocolate, bitter chocolate, and white chocolates, but do whatever mix of chocolates you prefer)
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt together.
  3. In separate bowl, mix eggs, vanilla, and instant coffee, until coffee dissolves.
  4. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars together on medium speed until light & fluffy, 3-6 minutes. Beat in egg mixture, then melted chocolate. Scrape down sides as needed.
  5. With mixer on low, mix in the flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips until combined.
  6. Cover and leave on counter approx. 30 minutes. Texture should be goopy like fudge.
  7. Take 3 Tbsp of dough at a time and spoon balls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until edges are set and tops are cracked, but the centers are still soft and underdone, 10-12 minutes.
  8. Let cool on sheet 10 minutes, then serve warm or let cool on wire rack.

Peanut Butter Cookies

These are to die for. Incredible. Can't say enough good things about them. Doug makes them for me for my birthday, and I confess I'm not sorry to say that I horde them like a selfish scallywag.

2 & 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
16 Tbsp butter
1 c. packed light brown sugar (or for those of us overseas, sugar with molasses added in)
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. extra crunchy peanut butter (Skippy is awesome!)
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 lg. eggs
1 c. dry-roasted salted peanuts, ground fine

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In large bowl, whisk dry ingredients together.
  3. In another large bowl, beat butter & sugars together w/ an electric mixer @ medium speed until light and fluffy, 3-6 minutes. Then incorporate the PB, then add the vanilla, then the eggs, scraping down the beaters and bowl as needed.
  4. With mixer on low, incorporate the flour mixture until combined. Then add ground peanuts.
  5. Use 3 Tbsp of dough at a time, roll into balls, and place on parchment-lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Make a crosshatch design on the top of each cookie, with a fork. ***see note below*** Bake until the edges are golden and the centers have puffed up and are beginning to deflate, 10-12 minutes. Rotate halfway through baking.
  6. Let cookies cool for 10 minutes, then serve warm, or cool on wire racks.
*** At that point in the recipe, cookies can be frozen for several months, and pulled out to bake as desired. The cookie dough is tasty too. :)

Big Beautiful Muffins

These muffins are SO tasty, very moist, and definitely a family favorite of ours. Not to mention they are super easy. I often double or triple this recipe. This recipe can also be the basis of many stir-in muffin recipes... add in fruit, like peaches, blueberries, or bananas.
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Melt 8 Tbsp. unsalted butter.
  3. Grease muffin pan or line with paper cups.
  4. In large bowl, mix:
    3 c. flour
    1 c. sugar
    1 Tbsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
  5. In medium bowl, whisk together:
    2 large eggs, beaten
    1 & 1/2 c. lowfat plain yogurt (I rarely buy lowfat, as the kids need full-fat, so I use normal yogurt, and this comes out fine)
  6. Gently mix the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture, until combined.
  7. Fold in melted butter.
  8. Fill muffin cups roughly 2/3 full, then put into oven.
  9. Bake until golden, roughly 25-30 minutes.
  10. Let cool in pan a few minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely.

These are great warm, and very, very delicious cooled, or served the next day (don't bother refrigerating them, just put in a sealed container on the counter). Enjoy!

Cream Biscuits

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. (For our family, I multiply this recipe by 3.)

In large bowl, combine:
2 c. flour
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt.
With wooden spoon, stir in:
1 & 1/2 c. heavy cream
Stir just until mostly mixed, then turn out onto lightly floured countertop & knead until smooth. Press dough flat until 3/4 inch thick.

***I used to then cut biscuits out, with biscuit cutters, but recently started just cutting squares. It uses the whole dough and then you don't have the re-mixed more tough biscuits from the 2nd kneading/pressing.*** But if you like nice circle biscuits, feel free. I also like doing little "biscuitlets" (smaller biscuits to go along with soups, or for large groups) with smaller cookie cutouts.

Place onto parchment-lined baking sheet & bake until golden, approx. 15 minutes. Quick and tasty!

Shepherd's Pie

1 pound, or more, of cubed beef
1 pound, or more, of trimmed, cubed lamb
salt & pepper
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 onions, minced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 garlic head, minced
2 Tbsp flour
2 & 1/4 c. chicken broth (or 2 & 1/4 c. water w/ 2 chicken bouillion cubes)
1/4 c. dry red wine (we never have this, and thus never use it)
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. minced dill
pinch of rosemary

Season meat w/ salt & pepper. Heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium heat, and brown beef in a dutch oven. Remove beef to metal bowl, and brown the lamb in the dutch oven w/ more oil. Remove lamb. Then add more oil, and cook carrots, onions, and salt until softened (approx. 5 mins). Stir in tomato paste & garlic, then add in flour & cook 1 minute. Whisk in remaining ingredients, and return lamb & beef to the pot. Scrape up any browned bits, and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat, and let cook approx 25-30 minutes.

Serve over mashed potatoes.

(You can do the whole, in a dish, over the mashed potatoes thing... but I'm too lazy. :) It's tasty just like this. And it goes great over rice if you have leftovers.)

Cream Sauce (to serve over steak)

We don't eat steak often, but when we do, I like to serve it with this cream sauce. It's easy enough to make, and it's made at the very last minute, once you have juice from the steaks to add in.

1 minced garlic head (yes, the whole head)
1 & 1/2 c. water w/ 1 beef boullion cube, and 1 chicken bouillion cube (or broths can be used in place of these ingredients)
5 Tbsp brandy (we never have, and thus never use, this part... I use pan drippings for this liquid)
1/4 c. heavy cream
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Remove steaks from pan, and put on plate (tent them with foil so they will remain hot while you whip up this sauce).

Reserve a Tbsp. or more of pan drippings from the steaks, and briefly sautee the garlic, less than 30 seconds. Add the water w/ boullions, and simmer about 5 mins. Stir together and add cream. Add in 1 Tbsp butter at a time, whisking to thicken. Then, remove from heat, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve over steaks.

Chicken Teriyaki

Another family favorite-- mmm mmm mmm!

(Note: This is the amount I make, to feed our family of 6 eaters, plus have a little leftover for the next day. Quantities can be easily halved or cut into thirds for smaller families.)

1-2 pounds chicken thighs, chopped roughly into 1-inch cubes
Vegetable oil
1 & 1/2 cup soy sauce
1 & 1/2 cup sugar
6 Tbsp mirin/white wine (if you don't have this, as I never do, I sub in a splash of lemon vinegar)
2 Tbsp grated ginger
1 garlic, chopped fine/minced
1 & 1/2 tsp cornstarch
roughly 1/2 a tsp of red pepper flakes, give or take, according to your taste

***(as a sidenote, you'll want to start up your rice first, before you even chop the chicken. By the time it's done cooking, your chicken will be ready too.)***

Chop up the chicken. Nearly cover the bottom of a frying pan with vegetable oil, then add in chicken, and brown over medium-high heat. You want the chicken to be cooked, but still tender. Once chicken is cooked, add all other ingredients, in the order they appear above, to the frying pan, combine, turn down the heat, and simmer. Let thicken slightly, and then serve over rice.

Easy & delicious!