Saturday, November 28, 2009

Apple Pie

Happy (belated) Thanksgiving! This year I continued my tradition of baking an apple pie. This is a recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking the first year I was married and have made it each year since. I hope you enjoy it as much as we have (this is a verified crowd pleaser).

Deluxe Butter Flaky Pastry Dough

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/4 cup Crisco
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon ice water (plus 1-2 tablespoons more, as needed)

Mix flour, sugar, and salt. Add butter to dry ingredients, working quickly to prevent softening, using a pastry tool until butter is pea-sized.

Add Crisco with pastry tool. Continue chopping until mixture is coarse crumbs with some pea-sized pieces. Make sure mixture does not soften or begin to clump. It must remain dry and powdery.

Drizzle ice water over mixture and cut with rubber spatula until mixture is evenly moistened and begins to form small balls.

Press down on the dough with the flat side of the spatula, if balls stick together you have added enough water, otherwise drizzle 1-2 tablespoons more ice water as needed.

Press dough with hands until dough coheres. The dough should look rough, not smooth. Divide dough in half.

Press each into a round flat disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

Apple Pie filling

2 1/2 pounds (5-6 medium-large) Golden Delicious apples
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

2 teaspoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Wash and peel apples. Slice into 16ths, pieces should be approximately 1/4 inches thick at thickest point.

Mix apples with sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon, and salt. Let stand for 15 minutes, stirring several times, so apples soften slightly.

Remove one dough disk and roll out into 13 inch round shape. Fit into 9-inch pie pan and trim overhanging dough to 3/4 inch all around. Cover and return to refrigerator. Remove second disk and roll out into 12 inch round shape for the top crust. Cover and refrigerate. If necessary for room, you may fold the round in half and then half again, just make sure to let the dough warm a bit before you try to unfold it over the pie.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Remove pie bottom and top from refrigerator. Pour apple and all liquid into bottom crust. If time allows, I take one slice at a time and lay it out on the pie slightly overlapping to make the pie as dense as possible, so it will shrink less as it cooks, and make cutting easier.

Dot top with butter. Brush 3/4 inch overhanging bottom crust with cold water.

Unfold top crust and place over top. Seal edge and then fold overhanging top crust under bottom crust. Next, either crimp with a fork dusted in flour, or flute (as I did in the picture). Cut steam vents in the top and then sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.

Bake pie for 30 minute at 425 degrees in lower third of oven. Slip a baking sheet beneath pie and reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 30-45 minutes longer, until apple feels just tender when a knife or skewer is poked through a steam vent and thick juices have begun to bubble through the vents.

Cool pie completely on a rack, 3 to 4 hours in order for filling to thicken properly. If you want to serve the pie warm, stick the pie in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Best served day it's baked, or can be kept for 2 to 3 days on the counter.

I prefer to serve my pie warm with vanilla ice cream. Once you have this pie, you'll never want to buy a store-pie again, there's just no comparission.

Friday, November 27, 2009

12 x 16 Pillow Tutorial

I've been wanting to get a pillow for our chairs since we got them, but could never find the right size and design style. So, I decided to break out a really old pattern my mom bought me when I was 12 that I'd never used and make my own pillow. I found some cute fabric at Jo-Ann's, and found one for me and one for my hubby. Since I'm a fan of the tutorial, I thought I'd try my hand at it. Unfortunately, I didn't start taking photos until 1/2 way through :( I'll re-do this when I make my hubby's pillow.

1 yard of fabric of your choice
60 inches chord for piping

Cut two pieces of fabric 12 1/2 x 16 1/2
Cut 1 3/4 inches wide bias strip for piping 60 inches long. You will have to cut at least two strips and sew them together to get the length. To cut on the bias, start at the corner by the selvage and cut at 45 degree angle from the selvage. To get the two pieces to join properly put the strip ends perpendicular to each other so they form an L.

I had to play around with off-setting them just enough so when I finally sewed them together they ended up being completely joined into a straight line.

To sew the piping, place the chord on the wrong side of the bias strip, fold the bias strip so wrong sides are together and right sides are showing. Using the zipper foot attachment on your sewing machine, sew the bias strip right along the chording.

Next, place one of your two rectangle right side up on your working surface. Pin the piping with raw edges matching. I started a few inches from the bottom left, so when the edges were joined, they would be less noticeable. Pin in place. You will need to snip the edge of the piping when rounding the corners.

When the edges of the piping meet, trim the chord so the ends will meet. I found taping the ends and then cutting in the middle of the line of tape will keep the chord from unraveling over time. Trim one end of the fabric to the same length as the chord it's covering. Cut the other end about an inch or so longer. Fold over that end, and enclose the other end of the piping so the chord ends now meet, and the end is covered by the extra length of fabric. Pin in place. You may baste it in place if you prefer (but I didn't bother).

Next, place the second rectangle wrong side up and pin in place. Using the same zipper attachment, sew the perimeter of the pillow case, leaving a big enough end unsewed to allow for turning right side out and stuffing the case with the pillow. Try to sew as close to the chord as possible, without actually sewing the chord, this way, your first set of stitches on the piping won't show.

Clip the corners and trim the edges to about 1/4 inch all the way around. Turn case right side out and stuff the case with the pillow. Sew the opening using a slip stitch.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Lunch sacks

I think I might make some lunch sacks, like these, for the craft fair. A lot of people bring their own lunches, so this might be a great item to sell. I've read that oil cloth can't be used for children under 12, so if someone wanted to get one for their child, I would need to figure out a different material to use. Any suggestions??

I just finished an awesome pillow and need to post the pictures, stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Milenesa with Seasoned Rice

This is one of my favorite dinners. I always get really excited when it's on the menu. The salty breadcrumbs and thin steak are a wonderful combination. Add a side of my mother-in-law's seasoned rice and it's to die for.

4 pieces steak cut very thinly, sometimes labeled for "milenesa"
1/2 cup (+ more as needed) seasoned breadcrumbs
2 eggs
salt to taste
canola oil

Lightly beat eggs in a shallow bowl. Add salt as desired. Dredge steak slice in egg mixture then in seasoned bread crumbs. pan fry in oil for a few minutes on each side until browned. Rest on paper towels to drain excess oil.

This makes enough for my hubby and I to have 1 1/2 slices each, with one for leftovers the next day.

Check this post out for the seasoned rice recipe.

Chicken and Potatoes with Thyme and Garlic

Recipe courtesy of Ukiah, CA newspaper. This is simple and easy and quite tasty. The smaller you cut the potatoes and chicken, the faster it will cook. We cut 15 minutes baking time by doing just that, and by using a slightly larger pan so there was a single layer of the chicken potato mixture.

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, but across the grain into strips (we cut ours into cubes)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
+2 thyme sprigs
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium-sized Yukon gold potatoes cut into wedges (we cut ours into cubes)
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a pan with non-stick aluminum foil or aluminum foil sprayed with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine chicken, potatoes, olive oil, garlic, and thyme. Using a large spoon, toss to coat. Transfer the mixture to the pan, and bury the thyme sprigs in the mixture and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 1 hour. Remove the thyme sprigs before serving.

I think substituting rosemary for thyme would be a great alternative. It's just that my hubby likes the thyme so much we haven't tried it yet.

Wish list

I saw this adorable charm by tinkertown on Etsy and thought it would make such a cute Christmas gift. It's such a cute idea, especially for Scrabble fans (which I happen to be).


I saw this cute little guy on LaurieMaid on Etsy. How cool is that?!

But, you know what's even cooler? My friend Shanda makes these awesome stick horses. She just designed them in her head. Incredible. Check her website Mitico out.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Penne with sausage and broccoli

The hubby and I made this for dinner tonight. It's easily one of our favorites. To mix things up a bit, the hubby bought turkey sausage, which I ended up enjoying more than the traditional sausage. Go figure. Yeah, and it's healthier, too! The best part is how super easy and simple it is to make.

Baby quilting

I'm slowly piecing together my baby quilt for the craft fair. I bought the backing and binding last week and will be posting pictures of those soon. I also got some cute fabric for the onesies.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Loving this

Photo courtesy of GracieBeanBaby from etsy
If I had kids, I would totally make this for our back yard. How stinkin cool!

Monday, November 2, 2009

I love my new table!

I stopped by Costco this weekend and decided to grab a folding table and a pair of chairs. I knew I wanted a folding table so I could put it away when it wasn't being used. I pulled it out for the first time tonight and worked on my quilt for the craft fair. I don't know what I was thinking trying to sew on that tiny table, once I took another look at the photo I knew I couldn't do that again. It worked out really well and was actually pretty comfortable.

Re-Do: Carne Asada Chicken Salad

I love making salads like these for dinner. They are quick, healthy, and yummy. I've done this before, but sometimes it's good to revisit the tried and true. Plus, this is a little bit different. We took chicken and marinaded it for a few hours. Since we are sadly without a grill right now, we used our grill fry pan and cooked the chicken up on the stove. We piled it on top of lettuce, cheese, tomatoes, salsa, Cholula, guacamole, and corn. It turned out great. I just wish I had some fresh lime, cilantro, and black beans to really round it out.