Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dreamy Apple Pie

I know I say this a lot, but this recipe was nothing short of amazing.  I just want to keep making this pie again and again.  It was absolutely incredible and it was devoured by my small family in less than 24 hours.  The texture was perfect and it was soooo creamy.  I was desperately trying to savor every mouthful, I couldn't believe how great it tasted.  This was very similar to Dutch Apple Pie, another recipe that I love.  All I have to say now is....MAKE THIS PIE!!!!

Source:  The Pioneer Woman


1 whole Unbaked Pie Crust (I used a refrigerated crust)

3 whole Large (4 Or 5 Small) Granny Smith Apples, Peeled, Cored, And Sliced Thin
½ cups Brown Sugar
½ cups Sugar
1 Tablespoon All-purpose Flour
1 cup Heavy Cream
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
⅛ teaspoons Cinnamon

7 Tablespoons Butter
¾ cups All-purpose Flour
½ cups Brown Sugar
¼ cups Pecans (more To Taste)
Dash Of Salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll out pie dough and place it in a pie pan. Decorate the edges as desired.

Add apple slices to a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together cream, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon flour, vanilla, and cinnamon. Pour over apples. Pour apples into pie shell.

In the bowl of a food processor (or you can mix by hand) combine butter, flour, sugar, pecans (chop if you’re not using a food processor), and salt. Mix until everything comes together in clumps. Pour topping over apples.

Attach foil to the edges and lay a piece of flat foil loosely over the top of the pie. Place pie pan on top of a rimmed cookie sheet and bake for one hour. At the end, remove foil and allow to finish baking and browning. Can bake for up to 15 or 20 minutes more if necessary.

Remove from oven when pie is bubbly and golden brown.

Serve warm with hard sauce, whipped cream, or ice cream.

Pumpkin Pie

This was a really simple pie to make, and perfect for a Thanksgiving dessert.  I must admit, I really don't care for pumpkin pie so I didn't try it, but my Dad and husband said they both liked it and would eat it again.  Therefore, if you're looking for a simple pumpkin pie recipe, this is definitely a good one to try.

Source:  Betty Crocker


Pat-in-the-Pan Pastry:
1 1/3 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons cold water

2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk

Sweetened Whipped Cream
3/4 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar


Heat oven to 425°F. In medium bowl, mix flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the oil with fork until all flour is moistened. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all water is absorbed. Shape pastry into a ball. Press in bottom and up side of 9-inch glass pie plate.

In large bowl, beat eggs slightly with wire whisk or hand beater. Beat in 1/2 cup sugar, the cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, ginger, cloves, pumpkin and milk.

To prevent spilling, place pastry-lined pie plate on oven rack before adding filling. Carefully pour pumpkin filling into pie plate. Bake 15 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake about 45 minutes longer or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Place pie on cooling rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours.

In chilled medium bowl, beat whipping cream and 2 tablespoons sugar with electric mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form. Serve pie with whipped cream. Store in refrigerator.

Strawberry and Banana Mold

Have you ever tried making a Jell-o mold?  It is so easy, but looks like it takes effort so I knew I wanted to make this for Thanksgiving,  But, c'mon,  let's face it.  Everyone loves Jell-o!  The hardest part is unmolding it, but as long as you dip it in warm water for a few seconds, it shouldn't be a problem!

Source:  Kraft Foods


1-1/2 cups boiling water
1 pkg.  (8-serving size) JELL-O Strawberry or Strawberry-Banana Flavor Sugar Free Gelatin
2 cups cold water
1 cup  chopped strawberries
1 banana, sliced
Stir boiling water into gelatin in large bowl at least 2 minutes until completely dissolved. Stir in cold water. Refrigerate about 1-1/2 hours or until thickened (spoon drawn through leaves definite impression).

Stir in strawberries and banana. Pour into 5-cup mold sprayed with cooking spray.

Refrigerate 4 hours or until firm. Unmold. Store leftover gelatin mold in refrigerator.

How To Unmold Gelatin
Dip mold in warm water for about 15 seconds. Gently pull gelatin from around edges with moist fingers. Place moistened serving plate on top of mold. Invert mold and plate; holding mold and plate together, shake slightly to loosen. Gently remove mold and center gelatin on plate.

Roast Turkey

It seems silly now, but I was so nervous about roasting my first bird.  This was my first time ordering a fresh turkey from the butcher and my first time brining it as well.  The recipe went so well that I don't think I'll ever try a different way to prepare and roast a turkey again.  The meat was so flavorful, the aroma from the oven was incredible, and the turkey was visually stunning once I took it out of the oven.  As soon as it came out of the oven, I felt like I had created a masterpiece!  If you are unsure how to properly roast a turkey, click on the link for Alton Brown's recipe and watch the video clip of how he does it.  After watching the video several times, my mind was at ease and it resulted in a beautiful turkey that myself and my family devoured.

Source:  Alton Brown


1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey  (I used a fresh turkey)
Canola oil

For the brine:
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger (I omitted)
1 gallon heavily iced water

For the aromatics:
1 red apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage


2 to 3 days before roasting:
Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.

Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.

Early on the day or the night before you'd like to eat:
Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.

Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.

Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.

Green Bean Casserole

I know that green bean casserole is synonomous with Thanksgiving, but I usually don't eat it because I'm not a big fan of combining green beans with cream of chicken soup and french fried onions.  It's just not my thing.  Then I found this recipe on one of my favorite cooking sites, The Pioneer Woman.  The recipe was so much different than the original recipe that I knew I had to make it.  I first made this recipe for a dinner party a few weeks ago, and it was pretty successful so I made it again for Thanksgiving dinner.  I love this recipe because it's creamy and has a slight kick to it.  I usually can't eat green beans by themselves, but in this casserole, I can't stop eating them!

Source:  The Pioneer Woman


2 pounds Fresh Green Beans, Ends Cut Off
4 slices Bacon, Cut Into 1/4 Inch Pieces
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
½ whole Large Onion, Chopped
4 Tablespoons Butter
4 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour
2-½ cups Whole Milk
½ cups Half-and-half
1-½ teaspoon Salt, More To Taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
⅛ teaspoons Cayenne Pepper
1 cup Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 jar (4 Ounce) Sliced Pimentoes, Drained  (I omitted)
Extra Milk For Thinning If Necessary
1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs


Cut green beans in half if you like pieces to be a little smaller.

Blanch the green beans: drop them into lightly salted boiling water and allow green beans to cook for about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove them from the boiling water with a slotted spoon and immediately plunge them into a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain beans once they’re cool and set aside.

Add bacon pieces to a skillet over medium heat. Cook bacon for two minutes, then add diced onion and garlic and continue cooking for 3 to 5 minutes, or until bacon is done (but not crisp) and onions are golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a separate skillet or saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Sprinkle flour into the pan and whisk immediately to evenly mix it into the butter. Cook for a minute or two, then pour in milk and half and half. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, while sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and cayenne then add the grated cheddar. Stir while cheese melts. Turn off heat.

Add pimentos to pan, then add bacon/onion mixture. Stir to combine. Pour over green beans and stir gently to combine. Pour into a baking dish and top with panko crumbs.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and panko crumbs are golden.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes

I love potatoes.  A lot.  I usually like to make my favorite  Red Garlic Mashed Potatoes, but this was a a great recipe to try.  The potatoes came out so smooth and creamy.  They were literally perfect in everyway and my family definitely enjoyed them.  If you're only cooking for a few people, I would definitely cut this recipe in half.  With 5 lbs of potatoes, we'll have mashed potatoes coming out of our ears for weeks!

Source:  The Pioneer Woman


5 pounds Russet Or Yukon Gold Potatoes
¾ cups Butter
1 package (8 Oz.) Cream Cheese, Softened
½ cup (to 3/4 Cups) Half-and-Half
½ teaspoon (to 1 Teaspoon) Lawry's Seasoned Salt
½ teaspoon (to 1 Teaspoon) Black Pepper


Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces that are generally the same size. Bring a large pot of water to a simmer and add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. When they’re cooked through, the fork should easily slide into the potatoes with no resistance, and the potatoes should almost, but not totally, fall apart.

Drain the potatoes in a large colander. When the potatoes have finished draining, place them back into the dry pot and put the pot on the stove. Mash the potatoes over low heat, allowing all the steam to escape, before adding in all the other ingredients.

Turn off the stove and add 1 ½ sticks of butter, an 8-ounce package of cream cheese and about ½ cup of half-and-half. Mash, mash, mash! Next, add about ½ teaspoon of Lawry’s Seasoning Salt and ½ a teaspoon of black pepper.

Stir well and place in a medium-sized baking dish. Throw a few pats of butter over the top of the potatoes and place them in a 350-degree oven and heat until butter is melted and potatoes are warmed through.

Note: When making this dish a day or two in advance, take it out of the fridge about 2 to 3 hours before serving time. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 to 30 minutes or until warmed through.

Thanksgiving 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!!!  I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday with delicious food and good times with family and friends.  I know that I did.  This was an extra special Thanksgiving for me because it was the first time I had ever cooked the meal.  I spent a few weeks preparing everything so that everything would go perfectly.  All of the food turned out fantastic and I was even able to plan everything accordingly so that all of the food was ready at the same time!  I tried a lot of new recipes and even brined and roasted my first turkey.  The items that I prepared included:

Corn with butter

The next blog entries will include how to make some of these wonderful dishes as well as how to roast the perfect turkey.  Enjoy!!!

Tres Leches Cake

God, I love Tres Leches cake.  It is so sweet and creamy that I savor each and every single bite as I eat it.  I first tried this cake for the first time in 2004 when I spent a summer in Ecuador.  My host family made this often and it was soooo yummy that I try it on a menu whenever I see it at a restaurant.  Oddly enough, I had never made it on my own before.  I was participating in a baking contest with another girl from work last week and we decided to try making a Tres Leches cake, since neither of us had ever made it before.  We each tried different recipes and they were both outstanding.  We both had problems with using a spring-form pan because the cake kept leaking in the oven.  Eventually, I gave up and made it in a 9 x 13 cake pan and it turned out beautifully.

Source:  Joelen's Culinary Adventures, from Alton Brown


Cooking spray to grease cake pans
6 3/4 ounces cake flour, plus extra for pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces sugar
5 whole eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup half-and-half

2 cups heavy cream
8 ounces sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons sugar
1 lb strawberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour a 10-inch metal springform pan and set aside.

Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.

Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Decrease the speed to low and with the mixer still running, gradually add the sugar over 1 minute. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl, if necessary. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix to thoroughly combine. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine. Add the flour mixture to the batter in 3 batches and mix just until combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly. This will appear to be a very small amount of batter. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden and reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees F.

Do not remove the cake pan to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Poke the top of the cake all over with a skewer or fork. Allow the cake to cool completely and then prepare the glaze.

For the glaze:
Whisk together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and the half-and-half in a 1-quart measuring cup. Once combined, pour the glaze over the cake. Refrigerate the cake overnight.

For the topping:
Place the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whisk together on low until stiff peaks are formed. Change to medium speed and whisk until thick. Spread the topping over the cake and allow to chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, chop up the strawberries and place in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Toss to combine and set aside until ready to serve.

To serve:
Place the cake on a serving platter. Carefully remove the ring from the springform pan. Slice the cake to serve and garnish with a spoonful of strawberries.

Boeuf Bourguignon

If you have been following my blog closely, you probably noticed that I took a slight hiatus.  I wasn't planning on it being this long, but I went on a very strict diet with limited food options.  Therefore, it was tough to try new recipes that I wasn't supposed to be eating.  The hiatus turned out to be a positive thing because I lost almost 40 pounds!  I also developed a new appreciation for food and a new attitude in regards to trying new food.  I'm going to try to make more of an effort to post healthy recipes, although I will at times post some ones that are not-so-healthy, but delicious nonetheless. 

For my first comeback recipe, I decided to try Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon!  Although I am not a great cook by any means, I love the movie Julie and Julia and I have been wanting to try the famous Boeuf Bourguignon ever since.  If Julie Powell can do it, I can do it.  I bought a beautiful red Le Creuset 7.25 quart french oven for my birthday so I was finally ready to try the recipe!  It was AH-MAZ-ING!! The hubby and I shared a bottle of wine and enjoyed this wonderful meal.  It was not nearly as time-consuming as I thought it would be and I am so excited to host a dinner party in the near future and serve this!

Source:  Joelen's Culinary Adventures, adapted from Julia Child


6 ounces bacon
3 pounds lean stewing beef , cut into 2-inch cubes
1 cup baby carrots
1 sliced large onion
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. flour
3 cups full-bodied, young red wine , such as a Chianti
2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 tsp. thyme
Crumbled bay leaf
18 to 24 small white onions (white pearl onions)
1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms , sautéed in butter
Chopped chives for garnish


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Sauté the bacon in a dutch oven (no oil) over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. (The bacon will render and give off enough fat to cook with.) Remove the bacon from the pot and place in a bowl; set aside.

Dry the stewing beef in paper towels - it will not brown if it is damp. Add the beef, a few pieces at a time, to the dutch oven to cook in the rendered bacon fat. Sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Remove the beef from the pot and add it to the bacon in the bowl; set aside.

If the bacon fat has been absorbed by sauting the beef at this point, feel free to add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. In the pot, brown the carrots and onions.

Return the beef and bacon to the pot and toss with the salt and pepper. Sprinkle on the flour over the meat in the pot and toss everything in the pot to coat the beef lightly with the flour. On the stovetop, heat the pot for about 2-3 minutes to lightly cook off some of the flour.

To the pot, stir in the wine along with the stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the pot and set in lower third of preheated oven. Allow the pot to braise very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms:

For the onions - place the unpeeled white pearl onions in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring the saucepan up to a boil over the stovetop and allow the onions to boil for about 5-10 minutes. Remove the onions from the water and cool. Cut off the ends of each pearl onion and remove the outer layer of skin. Once all pearl onions are peeled, saute the pearl onions in a skillet with 2 tablespoons of butter. Allow the pearl onions to caramelize. Remove from the skillet and set them aside to cool.

For the mushrooms - add 2 tablespoons of butter to the same skillet used to prepare the onions. Saute the mushrooms in the butter until caramelized. Remove from the skillet and set them aside to cool.

After the meat has braised, remove and strain the beef and vegetables from the pot with a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl; set aside. With the remaining sauce left in the pot, allow it to simmer. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down rapidly to reduce and thicken. If it's too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning.

At this point, return the beef and vegetables to the thickened sauce, along with the caramelized pearl onions and mushrooms. Gently heat everything over a medium low heat and then serve. Garnish with chopped chives.