Friday, October 29, 2010

Pumpkin Squares

A friend of mine from way back posted this recipe on Facebook, and it looked so easy that I had to try it. They are great! I love that it makes a big pan full and feeds a lot of people. You can add chocolate chips too to make it even better!

Pumpkin Squares
adapted from a Melissa Blair recipe
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
1 can (15oz) pumpkin
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 tsp cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips (optional)

6 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
2 tsp vanilla OR vanilla paste
5 cups powdered sugar
Sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)

1. In a large mixing bowl combine the eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin; mix well.
2. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg; stir to combine. Add flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix well. Mix in chocolate chips (if desired).
3. Spread on rimmed cookie sheet (I used a 15in. x 10in.) and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
4. To make frosting, beat cream cheese, butter, and shortening together. Add vanilla and cinnamon (if desired), and gradually add powdered sugar. Beat until creamy. When the pumpkin squares are cool, spread with frosting. Cut into squares.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie in an Acorn Squash

I had to post this separately because it's such a fun fall dinner. I use a chicken pot pie filling recipe that I've posted and also my pie crust. It's really an all in one dinner, because once you've eaten all the yummy filling you get to start on the squash. It takes a little bit of time to prepare these, but you could always make it easier and buy the refrigerated crust.

Chicken Pot Pie in an Acorn Squash
6 acorn squash (about 1 1/2 pounds each)
Chicken Pot Pie Filling
Single Pie Crust

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Prepare the pie crust. Roll out, and cut the dough into 24 lattice strips (about 3/4in. wide and 4-5in. long). Cover and refrigerate until needed.
3. Wash the acorn squash. Cut the stems off of the tops. Slice the bottoms off and scoop out the seeds. Place squash on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle the squash with salt and pepper and cover each with foil. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.
4. Prepare the chicken pot pie filling.
5. When the squash is done, remove the foil and fill each squash with pot pie filling. Arrange the strips of pie dough on the tops of the squash.
6. Return to the oven and bake for 30 more minutes.
Serves 6

Chicken Pot Pie

I love chicken pot pie! This is a recipe found on the internet claiming to be a copycat of Marie Callender's Chicken Pot Pie. The only change I've made, is I use 1/2 an onion instead of a whole. I like to make it with my pie crust recipe that I've posted. To save time, use the refrigerated Pillsbury Pie Crusts. I have substituted milk for the heavy cream and it works just as well. You can also serve it in an acorn squash like this, or use your leftover Thanksgiving turkey like this

Chicken Pot Pie
2 cups water
14 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled and cubed
2 ribs celery, sliced
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 TBSPs chicken bouillon granules
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup butter
4 TBSPs cornstarch
1 TBSP flour
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup frozen peas

Double Pie Crust

To make the filling: In 4-quart saucepan combine water, chicken, carrots, celery and onion. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chicken bouillon, pepper and butter. Dissolve cornstarch and flour into whipping cream and stir into chicken mixture. Simmer 3 minutes stirring frequently until thickened. Add peas and set aside.

Crust: Roll out bottom crust on floured surface to 1 inch larger than inverted 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Lift dough off floured surface by rolling onto rolling pin and unroll over pie plate. Ease the dough into the plate loosely and press in place. Trim bottom crust even with edge of plate.

To assemble: Pour filling into bottom crust. Roll out top crust, cut slits for steam to escape. Cover filling with top crust and fold top crust under bottom crust. Seal crust and flute edge. Bake in a 400 degree F oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Serves 6

Friday, October 15, 2010

Basic Butter and Shortening Pastry Pie Dough

Time to start busting out holiday recipes. This is my pie crust recipe. I got it from a book called "Bubby's Homemade Pies". This book describes the ins and outs of making pies like Alton Brown would do it. Here's an interesting snippet from the book:
"Fats hold the key to both the flavor and texture of a crust. The better the fat flavor, the better the crust flavor. A flaky crust can be achieved with any fat as long as proper consideration is shown to keeping the fat cool and well below its melting temperature. It is necessary to keep fat in its solid state during mixing and rolling to achieve a desirable crust texture and structure. Whatever fat you choose, it should be very cold when it is mixed into the dough".
Good to know huh? It goes on to talk about how butter softens quickly at room temperature, is harder to work with and keep cold, but has better flavor. Shortening has a higher melting temp, is easier to work with, and yields a very flaky texture. So, I make a combination of butter and shortening crust. This is about a 10 page illustrated recipe with very specific instructions that I've condensed. I left out a lot of the rolling out and baking can do that part right? :) Don't forget to make pie crust sticks with your leftover dough.

Basic Butter and Shortening Pastry Pie Dough
Bubby's Homemade Pies
8-10 inch Single Crust 
4-5 TBSPs ice cold water
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
5 TBSP cold unsalted butter
3 TBSP cold shortening

Double Crust
5-6 TBSPs ice cold water
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
7 TBSP cold unsalted butter
4 TBSP cold shortening

Measure out water; chill in freezer. Measure out flour and add to medium bowl. Add salt; stir. Use cold butter; coat solid stick with flour mixture in bowl. Cut lengthwise in half then lengthwise in quarters, coating with flour as you go. Dice into 1/4 inch cubes. Chop shortening into 1/4 inch pieces and add them to the bowl. Chill briefly in freezer.

 Using a pastry cutter, cut until fat is size of shelling peas and lentils. Rechill if necessary.

Add water, 2-3 TBSP at first, quickly tossing with hands with light upward motion to distribute water evenly. Work dough as little as possible. Continue adding little bits of water. When there are no floury bits anymore -just comet like cobbles that don't quite cohere- slow down and sprinkle on the water. To test dough, lightly pat together some dough the size of a tennis ball. If ball crumbles, it's too dry. Let it break apart add a drop or 2 of water and work just a little. If butter starts to melt or dough ceases to feel cool, put whole mixture in the freezer about 10 minutes.

Shape into ball (I slightly flatten my ball into a disk). Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Roll out, and place into pie plate. Trim excess dough about 3/4 inch beyond the edge of the pan. Roll dough edge under to lip of the pie pan; crimp edges. Chill for another 20 minutes before filling or baking it.

For baked pies: Follow the pie recipe's baking directions.

For a pre-baked (blind-baked) crust: Poke the bottom of the entire crust with a fork. Line the inside of the crust with parchment paper or foil and fill it with dried beans or pie weights. Bake at 450 for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and lift out liner and weights. Turn oven down to 375 and bake for 10 more minutes.

Here's the pie I made with this crust: Sugar Cream Pie . It's a recipe my mom makes, but I'd never had before. I made it for a friend, but was able to have a little slice when I dropped it off. It was really good; kinda custardy.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Meal Idea - Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

This idea is from Cat Cora's newest cookbook. In it she has a recipe for tomato soup, and then a recipe for grilled cheese croutons, which essentially are just plain old grilled cheese sandwiches cut into small pieces. I thought this would be an easy meal for me and the kids while the hubby was out of town. I used canned soup :), and made a couple grilled cheese sandwiches 1 with cheddar an 1 with provolone (Cat Cora uses sharp white cheddar). The little sandwiches in our soup made it kinda fun.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fruit Dip

I love this fruit dip. It's very easy and tastes great!

Fruit Dip
Lion House
1 (8 oz.) tub of strawberry or pineapple soft-style cream cheese
1 (7 oz.) jar of marshmallow creme
1 TBSP orange juice
1 TBSP lemon juice

In a mixer bowl, beat together cream cheese, marshmallow creme, orange juice, and lemon juice. Beat until smooth. Refrigerate before serving. Serve with fresh fruit. Makes 2 cups.