Friday, December 18, 2009

Turkey Pie

Even though we weren't home for Thanksgiving and did not even have turkey on that day, my father-in-law ensured we would have turkey leftovers. God bless him! He put three plates of turkey meat in the freezer and I decided to make a turkey pie from one plate. DELISH!

I wish I could provide exact amount for you, but I was working with what I had and it was at the last minute so here are the basics.

about 3 cups of turkey meat chopped
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 stalk of celery, thinly sliced
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
dash of garlic powder
4 tbsp butter, separated
2 tbsp flour
3/4-1 cup milk
1 tsp dried thyme
1 small can of turkey gravy
pie dough for top and bottom crust (see my quiche recipe for basic dough and notes before for added touches)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare pie pan or casserole with half of the pie crust dough. I added 2-3 tbsp Pecorino Romano cheese, 1/4 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp thyme, and 1/2 tsp marjoram to the flour before making the pie crust. I would have liked to add rosemary, but I was out.

Heat 2 tbsp butter in a large pan. Add onions, carrot, celery, garlic powder salt and pepper and cook over medium heat until veggies begin to become tender.

Add turkey and remaining 2 tbsp of butter.

When butter has melted, sprinkle 2 tbsp of flour over the entire mixture and stir to incorporate.

Let flour cook for 1-2 minutes without burning, then add milk and stir quickly. Add thyme and 1/2-3/4 cup gravy. You're looking for a thick consistency, but not too thick so add more gravy if necessary.

Put turkey mixture into prepared pie crust, cover with pie crust and add 4-5 slits in the top crust to vent steam.

Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then drop oven temperature to 350 and bake for 20-30 minutes until top crust is brown. I keep a baking stone in my oven to help ensure the center of my pie crust is not soggy and raw, but crispy and brown just like the sides.

Things I would change
My husband missed having potatoes in the pot pie. I did not. If I were making this for my husband, I would add a bit more gravy or make more sauce and add some cooked potatoes to the pie. I actually took my first bite and thought, "This is missing peas...not potatoes" I like the meatiness of the pie and that it wasn't all sauce and veggies. But if you really like sauce and veggies, adjust for your tastes. I would have probably used chicken broth if I had had it instead of the gravy. I just wanted to make sure there was plenty of flavor as turkey can be a bit bland when paired up with strong flavors like onion and celery.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Kathy's Karamel Korn

When I delivered the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Rice Krispies to our friend John, his wife Kathy lent me her air pop popcorn machine so I could make her famous Karamel Korn. This is delicious!

6 quarts popped popcorn
2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup
2 sticks butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Heat oven to 200 degrees. Mix all the ingredients besides the baking soda is a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly. Boil and stir until mixture reaches 260 degrees (about five minutes). Remove from heat and thoroughly but quickly stir in baking soda. Pour syrup over popped corn and stir until all corn is coated with mixture. Pour on two cookie sheets sprayed with no-stick PAM. Bake at 200 degrees for 1 hour, stirring two or three times. Turn out and let cool completely. Break apart and store in a tightly covered container.

You can also use this recipe for popcorn balls. Omit baking step and form balls of syrup coated popcorn (but don't burn yourself!)


Thanks Kathy, this was GREAT! My husband requested that I put some almonds in the next batch, which I think was an excellent suggestion. I'll probably toast them beforehand. I've even considered drizzling a little chocolate on it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Peanut Butter Cup meets Rice Krispie Treat

I heard our friend John really likes Rice Krispie Treats and since we've been baking treats for all of our friends all month I wanted to make something he liked. However, I'm not a fan of Rice Krispie Treats. I can eat them, but I don't love them.

I found a recipe for peanut butter krispie treats with chocolate chips. This sounded like something I would like as I adore peanut butter and chocolate together. However, I do not like chocolate chips unless they're melty and soft so I changed the recipe a bit and this is what it resulted in:


1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
8 cups Rice Krispie cereal
1 - 1 1/2 cups of chocolate for melting
Measure cereal into a large bowl with plenty of room for stirring.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine peanut butter, sugar and corn syrup. I did not bring this to a full boil, but there were bubbles on the side of my pan. I cooked long enough for the sugar crystals to dissolve.

Pour peanut butter mixture over cereal and mix completely. Spread into a 13X9 pan coated with cooking spray.

Melt chocolate and drizzle or evenly spread over the peanut butter krispies.

Now, I must admit....I looked in my pantry and was stunned to find I was out of chocolate chips. This never happens! So I went to the shelf with the chocolate stash and found a Kron Bunny that was missing his tail and part of an ear and decided it was perfect for chopping up and melting down. I LOVE Kron and if you've never had it, you should try it. The truffles are my favorite! We keep them in the freezer and then pull them out one by one as a little treat. Anyway, I've used bits and pieces of different Kron sculptures we've had for melting and dipping because you can't buy this kind of chocolate at the grocery and it sure is tasty.

We used a gingerbread boy shaped pan and using royal icing we decorated him with m&m's.
This was perfect for me! It tasted like a peanut butter cup, one of my favorite sweets, but this really fulfilled my love for something to chew on. I love sweets, but I'm picky about the sweets I eat because I like texture and part of my enjoyment from food comes from being able to chew it. I love pastries versus candy because of it's texture.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bottom Round Roast with onions

This is quick, easy, few ingredients and tasty!

For roast
1 tbsp olive oil
1 (4 pound) bottom round roast
salt and pepper to taste
2 -3 large onions, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, smashed
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup red wine vinegar

For gravy
2 tbsp flour
1 cup cold water

In the bottom of a large pot with a lid, add 1 tbsp olive oil and heat over medium high heat. Season your roast on all sides with salt and pepper and add to the hot oil. Brown all sides of the patient, wait for it to brown. You can't recreate the flavor from browning later in the cooking process so do it right in the beginning.

Once the roast is brown all over, remove the roast from the pan and add onions and garlic (I just hold the roast up with tongs and have my husband add the onions and garlic from my cutting board). Place the roast on top of the onions. Sprinkle dried thyme over the roast and onions, add bay leaf and vinegar to the bottom of the pot. Place a tight lid on the pot and simmer until roast is done...avoid removing the lid! The onions are create a lot of moisture which can eventually be made into a gravy, but if you take the lid off the steam/moisture leaves the pot and you end up with a dry roast and burnt onions.

Done is a relative term and could take varying amounts of time so what I do is use my digital oven thermometer (click link to see the type of thermometer I'm referring to). I run the thermometer probe through the steam vent on my pot lid and set the alert for 145 degrees. Once the alarm goes off (in this case about 2 hours), I remove the roast and onions then cover with foil to keep warm.

For Gravy:
Add 2 tbsp of flour to 1 cup of cold water and stir completely. Slowly add this to the juices in the pot, bring to a boil then simmer until desired thickness.

What I would change?
Not much would I change about this roast. However, I would like to try balsamic vinegar next time and we love onions so the more onions the better, in my opinion.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Potato and Ham soup

I'm back on a roll! I am cooking again and it feels so good. Yesterday I made cinnamon rolls and yeast rolls from the beauty of bread post and then made a lovely potato soup with the ham bone from Thanksgiving.

Usually if I have a ham bone then I make a pot of beans but since the baby and I are usually the only ones to eat them, I thought I would try something different with the ham bone. This turned out great.

1 ham bone
5 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 medium onions, chopped into large sections
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 carrots, diced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
olive oil
salt and pepper
ground nutmeg

In a large pot I placed the ham bone, about 2 tbs olive oil, chopped onions and salt. I sauteed the onions and ham to get some of those nice brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Once the onions became translucent I added 12 cups of water, brought to a boil and then simmered for 2 hours.
Remove the ham bone, pull off any meat and chop into bite-size pieces. Discard ham bone and add ham back to pot. Add celery, carrots, potatoes, salt (remember the ham will be salty so don't over salt) and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer for 40 minutes.

Mix flour and 1/4 cup water then slowly pour into the soup while constantly stirring soup. Cook for another 5 minutes, add cream then remove from heat. Sprinkle a little nutmeg on each serving.

This was a thin potato soup so in the future I would consider removing some potatoes, mashing them and then returning them to the pot. However, I would also like to add some cut up cabbage that would serve as a filler and my husband added some shredded cheddar which also thickened it a bit. I think for personal taste I would add some thyme and maybe even some coriander, you know how I love the combination of these two!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cranberry Pecan Pie

This is my favorite pie. I even adapted it to make a bar cookie with a shortbread base when I didn't want pie but wanted the cranberries and pecan goodness.

1 9 inch pie crust
1 1/2 cup cranberries
3 eggs
2/3 cup white sugar
1 cup dark corn syrup
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecan halves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Finely chop cranberries in food processor or by hand. Spread into bottom of pastry-lined pie pan.

In a large bowl beat eggs until frothy. Add sugar, corn syrup, melted butter or margarine, vanilla, allspice, and salt. Mix well.

Pour mixture over cranberry layer. Neatly arrange pecan halves on top of sugar mixture.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until golden and set in center.

Perfect Pie Crust

I wish I could express how flakey and delicious this pie crust is and there is no picture that can capture how delightful this crust is in your mouth, but here is a picture of the pie crust being used for my pumpkin pie.

I've never made good pie crust...I don't understand baking very well. So I did what any smart cook would do, I asked my friends for help :) My friend Sarah really came through for me on this one! She shared this recipe from The New Best Recipes.

Enough for double crust

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2 T sugar
1/2 cup shortening, chilled
12 T cold unsalted butter cut into 1/4 inch pieces
6-8 T ice water
(I put everything in the freezer for about 40 minutes, including the flour)

In food processor: flour salt sugar, until combined.

Add Shortening. Process until like coarse sand. (10 seconds) scatter butter over mixture. Cut the butter in until pale yellow and coarse crumbs. (No bits larger than small pea - 10, 1 second pulses).

Put in med bowl. Sprinkle 6 T water over mixture. Fold in with rubber spatula. Press down on dough with spat until the dough sticks together. Add up to 2 T water as needed.

Divide dough into balls and flatten into 4 in disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour up to 2 days.

The key I found to all of this is COLD everything.

I used powder sugar instead of granulated sugar and after rolling out the dough and putting in the pie plate, I put the crust in the refrigerator for another 30 minutes before baking. This crust turned out beautiful! It was flakey and buttery and just delicious.

Pumpkin Pie

I know it has been a long time since I've posted anything, but we've been sick since September and we've been living on macaroni and cheese from a box and chicken nuggets from the freezer. I'm not proud of it, but it is reality.

I did make 2 pies for Thanksgiving and I must say, they were outstanding! The first of which is pumpkin pie from a fresh pumpkin. This makes the most perfect pumpkin pie! And even though you're suppose to refrigerate overnight, ours was eaten within hours. It was a little soft and I could definitely see that it firm up overnight, but we couldn't wait.

UPDATE: I made this again tonight and only had 1 cup of cream instead of 1 1/2 cups. This fixed the firmness issue and allowed me to eat it a few hours after making it rather than having it set up in the refrigerator overnight. So I'm adjusting the recipe to reflect the change in cream.

I'll add the recipes for the pie crust that I used and for making your own pumpkin pie spice.

1 sugar pumpkin
1 9 inch pie crust
2 eggs
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 cup heavy cream

1. Prepare pumpkin - Cut pumpkin in half and remove seeds. Place cut side down on a cookie sheet lined with lightly oiled aluminum foil. Bake at 325 degrees F for 45 minutes, or until the flesh is tender when poked with a fork. Cool until just warm. Scrape the pumpkin flesh from the peel. Puree in small batches with an immersion blender.

2. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F.

3. In a large bowl, slightly beat eggs. Add brown sugar, flour, salt, 2 cups of the pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, and heavy cream. Stir well after each addition.

4. Pour mixture into the unbaked pastry shell. Place a strip of aluminum foil around the edge of the crust to prevent over browning.

5. Bake 10 minutes at 450 degrees F, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake an additional 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove the strip of foil about 20 minutes before the pie is done so that the edge of the crust will be a light golden brown.

6. Cool pie, and refrigerate overnight for best flavor.