Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Easy As Pie: Pie Crust

I used to think my method was kind of cheating, taking the easy way out. Then I saw a pie maker on Bobby Flay's Throwdown do it and I knew I was in good company. It is not cheating, it is simply smart. This method allows you to have a positively flaky crust because you add no extra flour for rolling AND you don't overwork the pastry.

Here are a few ground rules for pie crust:
Butter = firm & crumbly
Shortening = flaky and light
Over mixing = tough crust

I know, I know: shortening? I use shortening for only two things in this world: pie crust and buttercream frosting that will be piped on a cake. Sorry, but even the Culinary Institute of America, which promised no-trans fats on campus, had to make an exception to that. There is simply no way to achieved the right texture with either of those without the dreaded shortening. Luckily Crisco has a no-trans fat formula so we can live with ourselves.

This will make one 9 inch bottom crust:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter-flavored Crisco
3-4 Tbsp cold water

This will make one 9 inch double crust:

2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter-flavored Crisco
6-7 Tbsp cold water

Combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl and toss together. Drop in the Crisco.

With your hands, blend the ingredients together, working quickly until you have a mixture that looks like bread crumbs. Sprinkle on the water, just 1 Tbsp at a time. Continue mixing with your hands.

Add just enough water for the dough to come together as one mass.

Take two pieces of wax paper that are square. Put the dough in between.

Roll out and continually adjust the wax paper and dough. Use the pie plate as your guide and try to keep it as round as possible. You should have about two inches wider than the pie plate all the way around. Pull one piece on wax paper off, replace. Flip.

Pull the other side off.

Put down the pie pan and flip both over so the pie crust is in the pan.

Pull the top wax paper off and use you fingers to fit it the pan.

Trim off the excess crust around the tin.

Prick several (by several, I mean go nuts) fork holes into the sides and bottom. This will keep the crust from becoming soggy. You can also brush it with an egg wash at this point. Sometimes I do, sometimes I forget. But if you prick enough holes, you shouldn't HAVE to.

For a single crust, decorate the edges and trim. If it should be pre-baked, baked for 15-20 minutes, keeping an eye on it at 425 degrees.

For the double crust, fill it and them repeat he same procedure with the next crust and set on top. Pressing the top and bottom crust together and decorate and trim. Follow the individual recipe for temperature and baking times.


I have decided that truffles are my new thing. Since I have learned how, and practiced, and now I am blowing my mind with how good they are, I just cannot stop. Here is my offering. More will follow.

Cranberry Orange Filling

300g good white chocolate

¼ cup whipping cream

½ tsp orange oil
½ cup dried cranberries, finely chopped

1 1/2 tsp grated orange zest or rind

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Warm the cream in a saucepan or microwave but be careful not to scald. Add the warm cream to the chocolate (still in the double boiler) and mix together until evenly combined. Remove from heat, add the remaining ingredients and beat the mixture until smooth and glossy.
Cover and refrigerate the mixture until it has set, 4 hours or overnight – remove mixture from fridge 10 minutes before rolling the truffles. With a small spoon or cookie scoop roll small balls of the mixture.
Makes 25-30

Lemon Blueberry Filling

300g good white chocolate

¼ cup whipping cream

½ tsp lemon oil
½ cup dried blueberries, finely chopped

1 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest or rind

Lime Coconut Filling

300g good white chocolate

¼ cup whipping cream

½ tsp lime oil
½ cup shaved coconut, finely chopped

1 1/2 tsp grated lime zest or rind

Peanut Butter Filling

4 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup creamy peanut butter

Mix together. Roll into balls and refrigerate. Makes approx. 40.

Chocolate Truffle Fillings

1 pound of chocolate
1 cup heavy cream

Heat the cream and pour directly over the chocolate. Let sit for a few minutes and then stir slowly until completely incorporated. Add flavorings, if desired. Cover and chill until solid and then form into balls. Makes approx. 50 fillings.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tabitha's Frosting

2 boxes or one large bag powdered sugar - thank you for not making me measure powdered sugar!
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp cream of tartar - this helps the icing set up so you can stack them later
1/2 cup milk, you can add more depending on the consistency you want it

Beat the powdered sugar and butter in a mixing bowl until crumbly. Add the extract, cream of tartar and slowly add the milk. Beat until smooth and creamy, adding more milk, if necessary. Add coloring if desired. Okay so that is Tabitha's recipe. I was so intrigued with how good the almond taste, which is still my favorite flavoring, by the way that I started going a little nuts. This makes a lot of frosting, so I started experimenting with flavors and colors. I like to divide this batch into four smaller bowls and add different colorings and flavors in each bowl. Some of my favorites: lemon, raspberry, coconut, mint, plain ole vanilla, orange, cherry, maple, etc. I think you get the idea. Have fun and prosper.

Whipped Cream

Fresh homemade whipped cream. Nothing better. It completes the dessert. It can turn a simple bowl of berries into a decadent dessert. The addition of dry milk does not change the taste one bit, but it will work to stabilize it. You can now make your whipped cream in advance, without worrying about deflation.

This makes 2 cups:

1 cup heavy whipping cream
4 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp nonfat dry milk
1 tsp vanilla

Refrigerate a bowl (glass or non-copper metal) until it is chilled. Combine all ingredients and mix at a high speed until soft peaks are formed. If you over mix, it will turn to butter or separate, so keep an eye on it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Clam Chowder

McKayla's favorite soup is clam chowder. She loves it with good sourdough bread. If she sees it on a menu, she orders it. She is very loyal.

I love clam chowder as well, but I have had the best so nothing else can compare. Gladstones of Malibu is pure cream and clams. Maybe a little salt and pepper. Perhaps some butter. It is the richest, most celestial clam and cream concoction created. Notice when I start salivating that the alliteration begins?

I love the traditional chowder with all the veggies in it as well. Which is what this is. But don't begrudge me my little reminiscence. Enjoy it with some sourdough bread.

3 (6.5 ounce) cans minced clams

1 cup minced onion

1 cup diced celery

2 cups cubed potatoes

1 cup diced carrots

3/4 cup butter

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 quart half-and-half cream

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

ground black pepper to taste

a drop or two of Tabasco, according to your taste.

Saute the onions, celery, potatoes and carrots with 1 Tbsp of the butter over medium heat until just soft. Add water to cover, and cook over medium heat until tender.

Meanwhile, in a large, heavy saucepan, melt the rest of the butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Whisk in cream and stir constantly until thick and smooth. Stir in vegetables and clams* with their juice. Heat through, but do not boil. When clams are heated through, stir in lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper and Tabasco. Serve immediately.

*Stir in clams just before serving. If they cook too much they get tough.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


I am not a recipe person for chili. I usually just toss in a bunch of stuff, heat it through, correct the seasonings and yell: "Come 'n get it!" The night after tacos is a good time to make chili. Toss the leftover taco meat, tomatoes, onions, open a can or two of beans, add some seasonings ... et voila. Top it with sour cream, cheese, or guac. Everyone is very happy. For the meat, I can add leftover steak, pot roast, meatloaf, chicken. I like black, kidney, white, chili, or pinto beans. Saute whatever veggies I happen to have. It is never the same, but I kind of like that about my chili. Always a surprise, always good.

So why am I publishing a recipe for it? Because I signed up to bring chili for a church Halloween party and was given a recipe. A recipe? The fun of chili night at church is trying every one's different recipe. Sampling a little of each and then finding out who made what and then getting their recipe. It is not about eating dinner, it is the fun of discovery.

Well, it turns out I really liked this recipe. So here is it. If I ever need to make chili from scratch, or I someone asks me for a recipe, I now have something in writing. My favorite thing about it is that is is chunky and has plenty of vegetables. That is the way I like my chili.

Okay, okay, I confess. They gave me this recipe and I used my leftover taco meat and turkey meatloaf and I added a can of black beans and I ran out of dried parsley. I also sauteed the veggies first, which I will add to the recipe instructions. But seriously, every one's chili tasted good. No one ever pointed out that mine was that different.

So here is the recipe in it's purity. Let your conscience be your guide. (Translation - substitute and add like crazy and feel good about it.)

1 lbs ground beef
3/4 cup diced onion
3/4 cup diced celery
3/4 cup diced green pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can tomato sauce - 15 oz
1 can chili beans with liquid - 15 oz
1 can kidney beans with liquid - 15 oz
1 can diced tomatoes with liquid - 15 oz
1/2 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp dried basil
3/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp Tabasco sauce

Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat and cook until even. Drain grease. With the greasy residue, heat and toss in the garlic and then add onions, peppers, and celery. Stir and cook until they are soft.

In a crockpot, add the meat, veggies, and EVERYTHING else. Stir it all up. Cover and cook for 8 hours on low. Stir it up a couple of times throughout the day.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Italian Creme Soda

When I was at BYU, I had two friends who were in their senior year, Lori and Kari. They were roommates since their freshman days and I had been all over. (At that point, I had gone to community college, BYU-Hawaii and served an 18 month mission.) We really didn't see each other that much, but one night they called me up and wanted to know if I wanted to join them for a run to The Old Spaghetti Factory in Salt Lake City. I jumped at the chance to hang out and eat something more interesting than top ramen or a baked potato. One of them had worked there and knew everyone. Apparently, they made this run quite often. They also knew what to order.

They said I had to get the Italian Creme Soda. Not only was it to die for, but it came in a neat souvenir glass. Well, how do you say no to that? I ordered a raspberry flavored and the rest is history. Lisa & Raspberry Creme Soda: A Love Story. They brought it in a tall glass with ice, creme, raspberry syrup, and soda water. You could still see the layers of everything and you were supposed to stir it all up yourself. The swirling of white and red are lovely and should be enjoyed by the drinker.

This was the first of many runs we did together. In fact it was the first of three runs we made in one week. I think it was the only time I saw them that year: on our Spaghetti Factory runs. each time I got an Italian Creme Soda. I had a nice set of glasses. There are many flavors to try, but I love the red and white swirls in raspberry best. You can also adjust the amounts of soda to cream to syrup. It is ALL about YOU.

I hadn't thought about it for a while, then Jen and Alyssa started going on and on and my throat started feeling a bit parched. While sorting through the food stuff to put away in my new kitchen I spied it: Torani Raspberry Syrup. Guess who is having Italian Creme Sodas tonight?

For each serving:
2 oz half-and -half
2 oz Italian syrup flavor (Vanilla, Cherry, Orange, Raspberry, Almond, Hazelnut, Caramel or any other flavor you can find)
4 oz club soda
2 oz crushed ice

Use a tall glass with straight sides. Put in the ice first, then slowly add the soda, then the syrup and then the creme. With a long spoon stir until smooth. I use a straw.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sweet Potatoes and Apples

Since Dr. Atkins taught us how evil the potato is (my apologies to those with roots in Idaho) we have been looking for other alternatives in our side dishes. The solution? Brown rice instead of white, whole wheat pasta instead of semolina, and let's start coming up with something to eat instead of potatoes.

One more point: there is a difference between a sweet potato and a yam. Most people use the terms interchangeably and most recipes can handle either. You can use either for this recipe. I find that most stores carry yams year round, but sweet potatoes only seasonally. Both are good and Yams have more orange in them which usually is a sign of really good vitamins and antioxidants and other really positive things.

Now that we know how good they are, lets add naughty things. The main thing we are adding here are apples, which aren't naughty so that is a good sign. They sweeten up the potatoes quite a bit. The only key is that, depending on how you like the texture, the potatoes will probably need more cooking time than the apples. Cut them both the same size. This recipe serves 12, I have cut it in half many times. While typing this in, I also was thinking that you could toss some nuts into it as well. I haven't tried it yet.

6 sweet potatoes OR yams (cooked, peeled, and cubed)
6 tart apples (peeled, cored, and cubed)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp melted butter
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350. Place cooked potatoes and uncooked apples in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Combine the remaining ingredients and mix together in a separate bowl. Toss with potatoes and apples. Bake for 1 hour.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pumpkin Soup

This recipe is courtesy of Kim Donaldson. I do not always pick friends who are great cooks. It is merely a coincidence that I seems to be drawn to them. When I first tried this, I was a little skeptical. I love pumpkin desserts. I couldn't imagine liking pumpkin in something savory.When I saw nutmeg was added, I was really skeptical, even though I like nutmeg in savory dishes (spinach, Alfredo sauce.) I too closely associate pumpkin and nutmeg with sweet. But what can I say? It works. Because this includes a can of puree pumpkin, it is easier and smoother than cleaning, roasting, scraping, chopping, and puree-ing a real pumpkin. But hey, if you have to do that to live with yourself, go for it. I was just fine with the can - better than fine. This is smooth. With a little swirl of cream and a sprinkler of an herb - I am thinking sage - this is fine dining.

A big PS to this: all my children love ... adore this soup. That alone makes this a keeper.

4 T butter
1/3 C flour
2/3 C grated onion (1 medium)

4 C water
4 chicken flavor bouillon cubes

1 (16 oz) can of pumpkin
2 t salt
1 1/3 t lemon juice
1/4 t pepper
1/4 t nutmeg

2 2/3 C half & half
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a large pan, melt butter and saute onions until soft, stir in flour. Stir until the flour and butter make a nice smooth roux (except for the chunks of onion.) Add the bouillon cubes which have been dissolved in water. Stir until smooth and thick. Add pumpkin, salt, lemon juice, pepper and nutmeg. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally. Let simmer 15 minutes. Add the half & half. Heat through but do not boil. Add the cheese, if so inclined and stir until blended. Correct seasoning. Serve immediately.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tres Leche Cake

This is my favorite cake in the whole world. I first tasted it when I was teaching at Fenton Ave. Charter school where 98% of the students were of Hispanic descent. One day, to celebrate a birthday, a mother brought in what looked like an ordinary cake with lots of fruit on top. She offered me a piece and, being a true cake girl, I graciously accepted. I took a bite and almost died right then and there. The mother spoke no English, but somehow in that moment, language was transcended as I expressed that it was love at first bite. The next day she brought me my own - which by the way, despite my cake-lovers instinct, I shared with other teachers - and the business card to the bakery. It was the greatest gift I ever received as a teacher.

When I moved, I found other tres leche cakes. They had them at Walmart and Fresh & Easy (in the frozen section.) No, no, no. I am sorry but those were sorry excuses. I had a few homemade and a few from other bakeries. I was in trouble. Apparently I had eaten the BEST ever and would never find anything that was even close. Even the Martha Stewart recipe called for "frozen whipped topping." I mean how could anyone put anything but real whipped cream on this glorious creation. I couldn't even attempt the recipe because of that disrespectful overture. I ended up having to ask around. I got all sorts of answers to my pleading. Nothing was close. I finally asked a mom of one of my kid's sport teams where to get one. She didn't speak a lick of English and neither did the people in the bakery. It was divine. So my conclusion: The good stuff is a safely guarded secret by those who are completely fluent in Spanish bit don't speak more than ten words of English. I just don't trust anyone else.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

5 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup milk

1 can evaporated milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9 x 13 inch pan liberally until coated.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Separate eggs. Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until yolks are pale yellow. Stir in milk and vanilla. Pour egg yolk mixture over flour mixture and stir very gently until combined. Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer on, pour in 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry. Fold egg white mixture into other mixture very gently until just combined.

Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out surface. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Turn cake out onto a rimmed platter and allow to cool.

Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, and 1/4 cup heavy cream in a small pitcher. When cake is cool, pierce the surface with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle the milk mixture—try to get as much around the edges of the cake as you can. Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for 30 minutes.

1 pint heavy cream, for whipping
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Fruit to garnish - I love strawberries

Whip cream with sugar and vanilla until thick and spreadable. Spread over the surface of the cake. Garnish with fresh fruit (or maraschino cherries.)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Layers of Skin Lesson

I think the only legitimate justification for jello is to build parts of the body for educational purposes. I also believe that once you make this, the layers of the skin enter into the permanent memory. Sure you might forget the details, but the image of it will stay forever. The coolest part is that as the dye from the peanut M&M's liquefies, you get that really cool blob of blue and the yellow as well. This makes it more realistic, but takes time. Let it sit in the refridge for a little.

I am not sure how this tastes, but I'm sure some sugar fiends will love it.

Layer, in reverse order:

Epidermal Surface - made up of dead cells - crushed up cornflakes
Epidermis - made up of dead, dying, and new skin cells - cool whip mixed with cocoa powder to resemble skin color.
Hair Follicle - hole from which a hair grows - large marshmallow
Hair - licorice. Put the licorice in the marshmallow and then insert into the dermis layer.
Meissner's Ending - detects light pressure - grapes
Pacini's Ending - detects heavy pressure - Peanut M&M's (yellow)
Sebaceous Gland - makes sebum, a natural oil - Peanut M&M's (blue)
Dermis - made up of tough, flexible fibers or collagen and elastin - red jello (or pink)
Subcutaneous Fat Layer - helps to store food, warmth, and absorb knocks - orange or yellow jello with corn pops

Friday, September 4, 2009

California Geography Lesson

This geography lesson is about as good as it gets. Trace the map on the back side of wax paper. The beans represent the Mountains. The guacamole is the Central Valley. The cheese is the Desert. The sour cream is the Coast. Eat with tortilla chips when you are finished. Geography has never tasted so good.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Frog Eye Salad or Dong-Dong Salad

Having eaten animal eyes, I strongly object to the title of this recipe. In Chinese, these little balls of pasta were known as dong-dong. Which, roughly translated is just "little things." If I titled this Dong-Dong Salad, I would be happier but no one else would know what I was talking about. So do I go with my gut or follow the trend? Maybe I can start slowly.THis version is from Jennifer Frank. I adjusted a tiny bit. You can add other fruit - I've had it with bananas but you have to eat it all right away. You can add fresh fruit if you eat it all right away. If you are planning on making it in advance or keeping leftovers, stick with canned fruit that has been drained.

Boil 1 1/3 cup of Acini de Pepe with a dash of salt for 9-10 minutes and drain in strainer.
Put in large serving bowl.

While that cooks, mix the following:
1 ½ cups Pineapple Juice
1 Cup sugar
2 eggs (beaten)
1 ½ tsp salt
2 heaping Tbsp flour
1 tsp lemon juice
Combine and heat over medium, stirring constantly until mixture boils and thickens. Pour over Acini and stir.

Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

The next day add:
1 lg can Mandarin oranges (drained)
1 can pineapple tidbits (drained)
1 small can crushed pineapple (drained)
6 oz Cool Whip
1 small jar of maraschino cherries
Half a bag of mini marshmallows

Mix well and serve ... or store a little longer.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Spagetti Dogs



Serve with anything. At this point, why let shame get in the way?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Aloha Pasta Salad

I made this recipe for a baby shower for Cyndi Broadhead. The recipe was provided by Tara, her sister. When she first sent the recipe, I was a little apprehensive. I really do not have a background in pimento use and I tend to be a little wary of a sweet and savory pasta salad. All those fears were put to rest. As soon as I finished this, my kids ate it for breakfast before I left for the shower. They all loved it. I tried it and could definitely see the appeal. This is one I will make again. I might do a little tweaking, but not much. What can I say? It works.

3 cups medium shell pasta (uncooked)
1 cup Best Foods Mayonnaise
1- 8 ox. Kraft Coleslaw dressing
6 chicken breasts cooked and cubed
2- 20 ox. cans crushed pineapple (drain and reserve juice)
2 cups diced red apple (soak in pineapple juice to preserve)
2 cups red seedless grapes
2 cups chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/4 cups minced onion
1 small jar pimento (I'm calling this optional)
1/2 cup cashews (a little bit more wouldn't do anybody any harm)
salt and pepper
Cook pasta according to package. Cool and stir in dressings. Add remaining ingredients, Drain off pineapple juice from apples before adding to pasta. Add salt and pepper to taste. Makes 25 one cup servings.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mango-Raspberry Baked Alaskas

Few things make my children happier than the combination of mango and raspberry. Admittedly, there is DNA involved because I love it too. Add in there the juxtaposition of hot and cold, dense and airy, sweet and tart and you have the perfect carnival for the mouth. We make a Mango-Raspberry Bombe, which is McKayla's traditional birthday "cake." This is a slight variation: flavors are the same, but textures are added. It is also done in individual serving cups which makes everything a little more fun and fancy. This is a do-ahead, except for the last step. This makes 4 servings.

1 cup raspberries (fresh* or frozen)
3 Tbsp sugar
4 store bought dry ladyfingers**
1 cup mango sorbet - we usually use Haagen Daz
2 large egg whites
pinch of salt

Put sorbet in the fridge or on the counter to soften. In a food processor, process the thawed raspberries with 1 Tbsp of sugar. *If using fresh add a little liquid to process smoothly. Using a spatula and a fine strainer, pass the puree through into a small bowl. This will result in a seedless sauce.

Half the ladyfingers and dip each piece into raspberry puree and turn to coat thoroughly. Lay 2 halves side by side in the bottom of each 3/4 cup ramekin. Spoon the remaining puree into each ramekin and let stand for 10 minutes to absorb the puree. **You can also use other dried cake, but be careful that the result isn't pure mush.

Spoon 1/4 cup of sorbet in each cup and spread over the raspberry/ladyfingers in an even layer. Cover each ramekin with plastic wrap and freeze until firm.

While freezing, beat the egg whites and salt with a mixer, in a medium chilled bowl on high speed. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of the sugar and beat until incorporated. Repeat with the last Tbsp. Beat until the whites are firm and shiny. Remove the ramekins and take off the plastic wrap. Spoon the whites on top of the sorbet. Make decorative swirls or peaks. Freeze until firm - about 3 hours.

Preheat the broiler. Set the ramekins on a baking sheet and broil for about 5 minutes, watching carefully. The meringues should be evenly browned, but not black. Serve immediately.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Lemon Bars

I love lemon bars. We are definitely lemon lovers. This is why we like our lemon bars to be lemony. Maya has declared that they are her favorite dessert. She had her first one at the Christian's 4th of July BBQ and has been passionate about them ever since. The mere mention of them sets her heart a twitter.

There are good lemon bars and bad ones. This is a bad one:
and this is a good one. Notice that the bad one is flat. It is probably chewy. It probably has a crust equal in size to the lemon part or even more crust than lemon. A good lemon bar will have more lemon filling than crust. The crust should only be there to hold the lemon filling, to support it. The filling should not be translucent, but almost a little creamy. This is good. This is from Ina Garten's collection. That woman knows her stuff.

For the crust:

nocoupons1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 cups flour

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling:nocoupons

6 extra-large eggs at room temperature

3 cups granulated sugar

2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup flour

Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet as evenly as possible. Chill.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

Cut into triangles and dust with confectioners' sugar.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Lisa's Pot 'O Corn AKA Fried Corn

Have you ever seen a show on the food network and then wanted to make it and then kept tweaking it because you didn't have the right ingredients and for some reason decided to go ahead anyway? Then the next thing you know you are adding all sorts of stuff just 'cause it sounded good? Then you serve it to others who act like you are their own personal hero for serving something that is so good? Then you tell them you got the recipe from the food network? Then you make it again and again and each time everyone loves it? Then someone on facebook asks for the recipe and you tell them sure and so in order to save the time typing it out you look it up from the food network to cut and paste and you realize that the concoction you created has nothing to do with the original recipe? So then you look all over the Internet and discover that no one calls what you made what you have been calling it?So here it is ... Lisa's Pot 'O Corn. Apparently, an original creation, even though I have been giving Paula Deen credit for years. I have only made it for big groups and this fills a large crock pot for a buffet. It will be tons too much to serve to a single family. So make your adjustments accordingly. I originally added the creamed corn because I did not have enough frozen corn. The sauce combined with the bacon tastes buttery even though there is NO added butter!

1 lbs of bacon, fried, drained (keep the drippings) and crumbled

1 onion, chopped fine
4 cans of creamed corn
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 lbs frozen corn (I like a variety of white and yellow and fresh)
salt and pepper to taste

In a frying pan, add a Tbsp of the bacon drippings. Heat and add the chopped onion and cook until soft and golden. Put into the crock pot. Add the creamed corn, crumbled bacon, and Parmesan cheese, stir.

Add another Tbsp of bacon drippings, heat. Add 1 lbs of corn. Let cook until you can hear it kind of popping. Stir and continue cooking and stirring until you can see the corn is starting to develop a fried look - it should be brown, but not over cooked. Add that to the crock pot and stir.

Repeat with the Tbsp of bacon drippings and another pound of frozen corn. Repeat with the third and fourth bags of corn, stirring after each addition. (this has to be done in small batches so all the corn get an opportunity to have the fried texture.

Add pepper to taste. Don't over-salt because the bacon and drippings and cheese are salty foods. I usually don't add any additional salt.

Serve in the crock pot, on warm.

Trail Mix Granola

This is a picture from the original recipe from Paula Deen. I had to make some changes. On the positive side, I loved the texture of the granola. I love the addition of banana chips. However, it was a bit too tangy for me with the dried cherries and apricots. So I took out those and added m&ms. Now it is true "Trail Mix" granola (with banana chips.)

2 cups granola (recommended: Hudson Valley Dessert Company)
3/4 cups coarsely chopped pecans
3/4 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
1 (3 1/2-ounce) can flaked coconut (1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds (meat only)
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cups vegetable oil
1 cup banana chips
1/2 cup dark raisins
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 cup m&ms

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

In large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except banana chips and raisins, and m&ms. Mix well. Spread evenly in an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Bake 55 to 60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven; stir in banana chips, raisins, m&ms. Cool thoroughly. Store tightly covered at room temperature.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Tiropetes from the Goddess of the Hunt

This recipe is literally from the goddess of the hunt - Diana. I love this women. She is a teacher at my girls' elementary school and even though we have not been privileged to have her (yet - I still have hope -there are two more chances) I have worked with her on projects and the PTO Board. I love to see her interact with the students: she loves them like they are her own. She is incredible. Not only is she an amazing teacher and person, but she is such a great mom. She has two daughters who are everything you would want daughters to be. Trust me, I know. She gives so much to everyone. She gave me this recipe. That action alone is enough to make her one of my favorite people. This is a spin-off of spanikopita, a much more famous version that includes spinach. I love spinach. Some people do not. This is a perfect option for them. However, even us spinach lovers can appreciate this. It is hard to describe, but so yummy and rich. You will not want to share, but it is pretty rich ... beep ... beep ... beep ... this an an official test of the emergency broadcast system ... beep ... beep ... there is a lot of butter in this dish ... and cheese ... beep ... beep ... beep. Anyway, consider yourself warned.

This is also TONS easier than wrapping everything up like flag-folding in individualized appetizer portions. It is just all made in a casserole dish (the instructions for the fancy way is still in here) but boy, oh boy, it is SO much easier and faster and tastes just as good, if not better because I think you get a little more cheese than you would in the little triangles.

And by the way, my goddess of the hunt truly is Greek.


1 cup Basic White Sauce

1 pound feta cheese, crumbled

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

3 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

3 tablespoons butter

about 1 cup butter, melted and cooled

1 pound filo dough, thawed

Basic White Sauce

2 cups milk

1/4 cup butter

3 tablespoons flour

salt and pepper to taste

Bring milk to a boil and remove from heat. In a second pan melt butter, add flour and cook, stirring until well blended and bubbly - do not allow it to color. Reduce heat to med low and gradually add hot milk, stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper. Keep stirring until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. (a thick gravy) This freezes well, so I always make double and freeze for the next time I need it.

Traditionally as appetizers you cut the filo dough into 2 inch long strips. Brush with butter and add a rounded teaspoon of filling to one end and fold back and forth into a triangle. (like a flag) Brushing top with butter when you put it on cookie sheet. They freeze very well. You just freeze on cookie sheets and then stick in a freezer bag until you need them. You cook them frozen.

When I make tiropete as a side dish I use a 9X12 pan. Lightly brush bottom of pan with melted butter. I add 7-10 layers of filo dough - each lightly brushed with butter. Add filling and cover with 7-10 layers of filo dough, each lightly brushed with butter. One recipe makes almost two pans, depending on how thick you want the filling to be.

Bake at 375º until golden brown - about 20-25 minutes. The triangles cook a little faster about 15-20 minutes.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Homemade Potato Chips

These are not meant to look or taste like Lays. They are not thin, they are not fried, they are not meant to be eaten twenty at a time. They are quite substantial. You need to serve them with a dip that is worthy or by themselves.

Good Olive Oil
1 potato for every two people
Kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spread each baking sheet with 1 Tbsp olive oil each. (It will take about one baking sheet for every two potatoes.) Put the sheets into the oven for ten minutes to heat.

Slice the potatoes on the narrow side, lengthwise about 1/16 inch thick. Place slices on the hot baking sheets with no overlapping. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake the chips for 10 minutes. rotate the pan and bake for another ten minutes. Flip each chip and bake for another 5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove chips to a paper towel to cool. Repeat until all slices are done.

You can eat them right away which is best or store them in a ziplock bag after COMPLETELY cool.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

GOOD Pizza Crust

I must emphasize that this is good pizza crust according to the way I like pizza crust. You might feel EXACTLY the opposite as I do. I like CPK. I like New York style. I like Z Pizza. I do not like heavy or thick dough (with the exception of the dough made by Andrea Carter which is dripping in butter and made in a cast iron skillet.) I think that I was scarred for years from homemade pizza dough that was heavy and thick. I was convinced that no good could from a homemade dough. No matter how much the "maker" of it would try to convince me, I always politely ate as little as possible and wondered if it was just me. There is something about having the right equipment as well. The right pan. The right oven. The right ingredients.

1 1/4 cups warm water (100-110 degrees)
2 packages dry yeast
1 Tbsp honey
3 Tbsp olive oil (the good stuff)
4 cups flour
2 tsp kosher salt

Combine the water, yeast, and honey in the bowl of an electric mixer. Let bubble. (This shows that the yeast is good. No bubbles = bad yeast. Throw out and start over.) Add the olive oil, 3 cups of flour, and the salt. Mix with the dough hook. While mixing, add the last cup of flour. Knead on low speed for about 10 minutes until smooth. Sprinkle it with flour if it sticks to the bowl. When ready, turn it out on a floured surface. Knead by hand until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a well oiled bowl and turn until covered in oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise about 30 minutes at room temperature.

Divide the dough into six equal parts and roll each one into a smooth ball. Place the balls on a baking sheet and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest about 10 minutes. Use immediately or chill for up to four hours.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. The dough should be room temperature when you work with it. Roll and stretch each ball to about an 8 inch circle. Place on baking sheets.

Top with desired toppings. Take about a teaspoon of Italian Seasoning and grind it in the palm of your hand. Sprinkle on the top of the pizza toppings. Bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is crisp and the toppings are ready.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pastel de Choclo

One day, when I was the PTO Hospitality Chair, I came up with this crazy idea to have an International Feast. The issue was, whenever you try to be truly international, you end up with a lot of European and Mexican dishes. That is not a real problem, because it is all quite yummy. But I wanted equal representation from all cultures and continents, and not just cliches. I literally spent hours and days and weeks on the Internet until I felt I had a balance of yummy food from multiple countries. This was my find from Chile. It is kind of like a South American version of Shepard's Pie. Instead of mashed potatoes, there is a light cornmeal topping. It was a hit and many people wanted the recipe.

The meat filling for this recipe is called pino and is also used to fill the famous Chilean empanadas.

(Chilean ground beef casserole with corn batter topping)

Yield: 4-6 servings





2-3 T


chopped fine

1 each



2-3 cloves

Ground beef

1 lb


1 T

Cumin seed

1 t


1 t

Water or stock

1 cup


1 T

Corn, fresh or frozen

1 lb


1/4 cup


1-2 T


as needed


1 T

Salt & pepper

to taste


1 T


2-3 T


Basic Steps: Sauté → Simmer → Puree → Thicken → Bake

  1. Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium flame. Sauté onions till translucent. Add the garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes more. Add the ground beef, paprika, cumin, oregano and salt and pepper and sauté till beef is just cooked through.
  2. Pour in the water or stock and bring to a simmer. Sprinkle flour over all and stir in well. Simmer for another 5-8 minutes till thickened. Adjust seasoning. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Place the corn, cornmeal, cornstarch and sugar in a food processor and process till well pureed. With the blade running, add milk a little at a time till the corn forms a thick batter. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Preheat oven to 375º. Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a large saucepan. Add the corn puree and cook, stirring constantly, until well thickened, about 5-8 minutes.
  5. Spread the beef mixture in a greased casserole dish. Top with the corn puree and spread out evenly. Sprinkle the sugar over the top and bake for 30-40 minutes till bubbling and golden brown on top.

Pão de Queijo

I first had these at a Brazilian BBQ place called Picanha. Along with the gluttonous portions of meat, meat, meat ... these were served. They have a glorious texture and a saltiness from the parmesan cheese. I have worked to get them right. No small feat. At first, the starch overpowered the cheese. I think I finally have something worth serving to others.

Like many Brazilian foods, Pão de Queijo from scratch is tricky to prepare. It is difficult to make the balls rise as much as the prepared mix. Also, the rolls can harden very easily if left overnight.

The secret is to use mashed potatoes in the dough.


2 lb of manioc starch (polvilho). You can use either sweet or sour manioc starch. Some people complain that sour manioc starch causes heartburn, however sour manioc starch makes the rolls rise more. It is your choice.

1lb of mashed potatoes (just cooked potatoes, mashed with no salt or oil).

2 tablespoon margarine

1/2 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

3 1/2 oz grated parmesan cheese

2 cups (500ml) milk


Preheat oven to 350° F

The mashed potato should be cool before using.

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except the milk. Then add the milk slowly while you mix until you get a soft dough.

Place 1 inch balls spaced in a unbuttered cookie sheet and bake at moderate oven (350 F) for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes about 50 rolls.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Roy's Edamame Recipe

We love this stuff. I serve it just with salt and all four girls will heat it hot, room temperature, or cold. I just need to keep it in the fridge. They will gobble whatever I put out so I need to keep more on hand. So much healthier than chips. Trader Joe's has them already cooked and I usually toss them with a little more salt. But the Roy's recipe is awesome. Spicy hot, but not too hot. Just enough that you want to drink it with some ice water. And what could be healthier than edamame and ice water?

This recipe is from the official Roy's website and this is the introductory paragraph.

It was as a young boy growing up in Japan that Roy began to love edamame. The Yamaguchi family embraced the Japanese custom of offering edamame at the beginning of each meal, and always kept some ready in the refrigerator as a healthy snack for the kids. To this day, Roy still regularly prepares and eats it as often as he can, and explains, "Edamame is a great way to start a meal so you don’t get filled up on bread."


Roy’s Edamame Seasoning
8 oz. kosher salt
4 oz. shichimi (Japanese red pepper seasoning)
1 oz. granulated sugar

1/2 lb. edamame beans, in pods
1 tbsp. of Roy’s Edamame Seasoning


Boil 7 cups of water in a large pan. Wash edamame bean pods well. Add edamame to boiling water and let boil for 5–10 minutes. Drain the edamame and sprinkle well-blended Roy’s Edamame Seasoning over them. You can serve edamame warm or cool.

If you don’t have the ingredients to make Roy’s Edamame Seasoning at home, sprinkle edamame with regular, kosher, or sea salt—whatever you happen to have.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Frushi is fruit sushi. It is a bonafide breakfast dessert but it is welcome any time of the day.
You can dip it in yogurt, a fruit sauce, or eat it plain. You can roll it or shape it. You are only limited by your own imagination as to what types of fruit you want to use. Here is the basic recipe for the rice.Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups water
1 cup uncooked sushi rice or other short-grain rice
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light coconut milk
Dash of salt


Bring water and rice to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until water is almost absorbed. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, 15 minutes.

Place rice in a large bowl. Add sugar, coconut milk, and salt, stirring gently until well combined. Cover and let stand 20 minutes.

Lightly coat hands with cooking spray. Divide rice mixture into 20 equal portions, shaping each into a ball (about 1 rounded tablespoon each). Lightly press each rice ball into an oval between palms; place ovals on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Top each oval with fruit. To make a roll, place the rice on wax paper in a rectangle of about 7 inches by 5 inches. Add the fruit filling across the length, roll up and slice. Cover and chill frushi until ready to serve.

Ina's Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Before you start gathering the ingredients, you can buy this mix.But if you want to do any tweaking, here is the recipe. I love this stuff. Once a year. More than that would be a little much. But I do love the concept of brunch. I just do not have a brunch lifestyle. If I ever get a brunch lifestyle, I would eat this more often.

Streusel Topping:
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Place all ingredients in a bowl and pinch together until mixed and crumbly. Set aside.

1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cup sour cream
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan. Cream the butter and the sugar, until light. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla and sour cream. Add pre-sifted flour b. powder, b. soda and salt. Mix until just combined. Final mix with a spatula to make sure well combined.

Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread with a knife. Sprinkle with 3/4 cups of streusel topping. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out and scatter the remaining topping on top. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Transfer to a cake platter, streusel side up.

1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp REAL maple syrup

Whisk together (add a few drops of water, if not runny.) Drizzle over cake with a fork.