Sunday, October 30, 2011

Flaky Homemade Pie Crust



Don't you just love the fall?  I can't seem to help myself, but the crispier air, beautiful autumn colors, and cooler temperatures puts me in the mood to bake bake bake!

I bought more than a few sweet potatoes at the store and tried to figure out what I wanted to do with them. I decided to make a couple of sweet potato pies for the hubby, my brother and sister-in-law.  I sat there and tried to find my recipe on the computer and decided that I had everything to make it.  I was not in the mood to go to the store to get any pie crusts, so I decided to try my hand at making my own.
Back to the internet I went to search for an easy to make, yet flaky and delicious pie crust. 
Keep in mind that I've never made my own pie crust before, but luckily I have family who don't mind being my guinea pigs.  The test kitchen is back open!
bwa ha ha ha ha (in my evil laugh while rubbing my hands together)
Ok, I just had a whole Bram Stoker/Mary Shelley moment there, complete with the flickering lights and the thunder in the background.
LOL!



Yeah, something like that. LOL!!!

So anyway, I found this fabulous recipe from Monique at DivasCanCook titled the Best Homemade Pie Crust and let me tell you it was delicious! For a newby with regards to making an actual pie crust that has to be refrigerated and rolled out with a rolling pin and flour and all that, I have to say it was pretty easy to make.  I was actually quite proud of myself.

Of course, it didn't come out all that pretty and I need to work on getting the thickness more uniform, but the taste and the texture were amazing!
Here is the recipe. The only thing I changed at a suggestion of one of her other blog followers was to switch the water to half & half.  Delicious!

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick of cold butter, chopped in pieces
  • 1/2 cup cold butter-flavored shortening
  • 1/2 cup cold half & half (add more by the tablespoon if the dough is too dry)

DIRECTIONS
1.  In medium-sized bowl, add flour. Be sure to carefully measure!
2.  Add in sugar and salt.  Whisk to combine.
3.  Add in chopped, cold butter.
4.  Use your hands, a pastry cutter, or 2 knives to cut the butter into the flour. (I used my new KitchenAid mixer for this step.)
5.  Add in cold butter-flavored shortening.  Cut in the shortening.
6.  Can finish it up with a fork to break up the larger chunks of butter.  Mixture should be nice & crumbly.
7.  Add in the half & half.
8.  Use a spatula to fold in the liquid until just combined.  Add a little more if the dough is too dry.
9.  When slightly moistened, gently shape dough into a flattened disc and wrap securely in plastic wrap.
10. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
11. Lightly flour a flat surface and your rolling pin.
12. Pinch the dough into two equal halves (makes 2 pie crusts).
13. Gently flatten the dough with your hands and then proceed to roll the dough flat using rolling pin to desired thickness.
14. Gently roll the dough onto the rolling pin and place over pie pan.
15. Using fingers, press dough into pie pan. Gently shape out if needed and remove excess crust from edge.
16.  Fill with pie filling of your choice and enjoy!

P.S.  Both the pie and my 1st homemade pie crust got good reviews from all test kitchen lab rats.  On to the next experiment!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Liebster Blog Award

Oh my goodness! I just won my very first blog award! Holy crap! That's awesome!!! [LOL]

This award is called the Liebster Blog Award.  I found out from Lisa at I Heard Its Yummy that in German, Liebster means, "beloved, dear, dearest and it is so very special to me."  Lisa, thank you so much for passing the award along to me and my blog.  You are so sweet and you have no clue how much you totally made my day.  Thank you so much for the award, for reading and liking my blog, and for sending other folks my way.  I would also like to thank every single one of my readers who take the time to listen to my rambling, to look at the food pictures, and those who take a chance to try a recipe that I created. You too will never know just how much I appreciate you.  I thank you again. 
[Ok, I just totally had a Grammy award acceptance speech going there... LOL]


So, according to the rules, I'm going to pass  this award along to 5 other pages that I have enjoyed reading lately. 


Trust me when I say that it was REALLY REALLY hard to pick 5 out of all the blogs I follow.  There are some amazingly talented folks online who can seriously cook their butts off.  All these new pictures and recipes have given me so much inspiration. I am absolutely loving it.

Here are the rules that come with this
award:
1.) Show your thanks to the blogger that gave you the
award by linking back to them.
2.) Reveal your top 5 picks by leaving a comment on their
blog.
3.) Post the award on your blog.
4.) Enjoy the love of some of the most supportive people
on the internet!

Thanks again, Lisa! You rock!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

KITCHEN KREATION: Southern Meatloaf


Who doesn't love a delicious juicy slice of meatloaf? I mean, seriously, it's one of those memories of the ultimate comfort food to me. I don't know about you guys, but as a child, we didn't have meatloaf that often, so when we did it was kind of a treat. The leftovers the next day were always even better than the 1st night. I'm sitting here thinking about how good our meatloaf is going to be tomorrow after it's sat overnight in the fridge! Mmm mmm...

So anyway, for tonight's Sunday dinner, I made a Southern-style meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and peas and carrots. It was so good, I think I surprised myself with this one.  I'm pretty sure it's not all that healthy since I didn't really try to adapt any recipes or anything. I had to rely on my imagination and my childhood memories of watching my mama make her delicious meatloaf.  I have to admit, I think my version has her's beat.
Progress indeed...

INGREDIENTS
1 pound meatloaf mix (beef, veal, and pork - next time I will get 2 packages for 2 pounds)
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used Progresso's Garlic & Herb - for 2 pounds of meat, use 1 cup)
1 egg - beaten (again, for 2 pounds, use 2 eggs)
1/2 cup onions - chopped
1/2 cup onion/bell pepper mix (found in the frozen vegetable section)- chopped
2 cloves garlic - minced
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp Italian seasoning

Meatloaf Glaze
1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar

DIRECTIONS

1.  I used the meatloaf mix found at my local grocer. It consists of ground beef, veal, and pork. It was a little shy of a pound of meat so next time I will use 2 packages and adjust my seasonings accordingly.


2.  Beat 1 egg in small bowl.


3.  Measure 1/2 cup bread crumbs.


4.  In medium-sized bowl, place meat, beaten egg, and bread crumbs.


5.  Add 1 Tbsp minced garlic (approximately 3 cloves).


6.  Add 1/2 cup chopped onion.


7.  Add 1/2 cup chopped onion/bell pepper mix.


8.  Add 1/2 tsp salt.


9.  Add 1 tsp black pepper.



10.  Add 1 tsp smoked paprika.


11.  Add 2 tsp Italian seasoning.



12. Add 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce.




13.  Mix well. Works best to use hands but I have issues with having raw meat under my nails (hence the use of gloves)...


14.  I lined my baking dish with foil (I think the size is a 9x5 loaf pan). 
This makes clean up a lot easier!
Pack the meat in the baking dish forming it into a loaf.




Now to make the glaze!

1.  Add 1/2 cup ketchup to small bowl. (Feel free to use tomato sauce, I just prefer my meatloaf glaze sweeter.)


2.  Add 2 Tbsp brown sugar.





3.  Add 1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar. Mix well.


4.  Add half of glaze mixture to top of meat (approximately 3 Tbsp).


5.  Smooth over entire loaf, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.


6.  After 30 minutes, remove foil cover, place remaining amount of glaze and bake uncovered for an additional 30 minutes.

7.  Let sit for 10 minutes, cut and enjoy!











Saturday, October 8, 2011

KITCHEN KREATION: Crockpot Zuppa Toscana Soup


So this weekend I was in the mood for my favorite soup from the Olive Garden, the wonderful Zuppa Toscana soup.  The only problem was that this was one of our few lazy weekends and neither the hubby nor I felt like actually leaving the house. I had gone to the grocery store on Friday so I already had everything that I needed to make this copycat version of the soup. I combined a couple of recipes, the original clone from CopyKat recipes and a healthier version found on my favorite SparkPeople site. I added a few more seasonings than could be found at either site and made my own version. This is a really good soup, hearty and healthy weighing in at an awesome 154 calories/serving! Not bad for a version that has more potatoes and more veggies.  Hope you try it and let me know what you think.

INGREDIENTS
1 pound turkey sausage - browned & drained
3 medium-sized russet potatoes - washed and chopped
1 bunch fresh kale - (approx. 2 cups) - washed and chopped
2 cups fat free low sodium Chicken Broth
4 cups water
1 cup fat free half and half
3 cloves garlic - minced
1 cup onion - chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika

DIRECTIONS
1.  Thoroughly wash your potatoes.


2.  Cut potatoes in half and then slice thinly.

 

3.  Meanwhile, in medium sized skillet, brown turkey sausage. 
If you have to use the turkey sausage links, remove the casings first, then brown.


4.  Add potatoes and onions to crock pot.

5.  Rinse 1 bunch of fresh kale.


6.  Chop thinly and add kale to crock pot.


7.  After sausage has browned, remove from heat and set aside. Drain if necessary.

8.  Add browned turkey sausage to crock pot.

 9.  Add minced garlic to crock pot.


10.  Add 2 cups of  low fat/low sodium chicken broth.


11.  Add 4 cups of water.


12.  Add 1/2 cup of fat free half and half.
13. Add salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and paprika to crock pot. Stir well.

14.  Cook on high temperature for 4 hours or until potatoes are tender or cook on low for 8 hours.

Enjoy!




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