Tag Archives: Tasty Goodness

Tasty Goodness: It’s Time for Pie

Alright, Dean Winchester, listen up.  I’m making pie.

Apple Pie

Homemade Apple Pie

I mentioned in my Fourth of July post that I made an apple pie, so I thought I’d revive my Tasty Goodness (links are below) series, and share my recipe with you.  Now, I’m still tweaking the filling a bit, but it tastes phenomenal. (Also, my mother threatened strongly advised me to not forget whatever it was I’d done.)  For me, it is about the crust almost as much, if not more than, the filling, and I have finally gotten my grandmother’s crust recipe down pat.  For years, I’ve been told this made the easiest, tastiest, flakiest pie crust, but until this year, it never worked out as well for me. I don’t know what I did different, if I “cut in” the flour and shortening a little more or what, but it worked

Grandma Audrey’s Pie Crust

Ingredients

  • 3 Cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 1/3 Cup shortening
  • 1 Tablespoon vinegar (yes, just trust me)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 1/2  Tablespoons water
  • 1  Egg, lightly beaten

Place flour in a mixing bowl and “cut in”* shortening until the mixture reaches a corn meal consistency (a little chunkier is okay too).  I used a pastry cutter, but I have been reliably informed that you can use a knife and fork to achieve this.  Add salt, vinegar, egg and water (one tablespoon of water at a time.  I usually only end up using 5 Tablespoons) and mix until everything is well combined and it looks like pie crust dough.

Split the dough in half and form each half into a ball.  On a well floured work surface, roll the dough into a piece big enough to cover the bottom of your pie pan with a little overlapping the edge.  (My pie pans are extra deep, so my dough is sometimes a bit thinner when rolled out).  Gently move into the pie dish.  Don’t worry if it tears a little.  This happens to everyone, and no one sees the bottom of the pie anyway.  Just use your fingers to press the torn edges together.

Jessica’s Pie Filling

Ingredients

  • 5-6 Large Apples (or 6-8 small apples) Peeled, cored and sliced (I used Jonagold in one and Granny Smith in the other.  Both were delicious)
  • 1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1-2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of butter

Disclosures: Okay, fair warning.  I mentioned this recipe needed a bit of tweaking to perfect.  I’ve tried this with both cornstarch and flour as a thickening agent, and both times it ended up a little runnier than I’d like.  The taste, however, is divine.  I’m thinking I use a bit too much lemon juice in combination with the vanilla. (I don’t actually measure the lemon juice).  Also, I mentioned my pie pans are extra deep, so you may not need as many apples.

Heat oven to 375 F.  As you peel, core and slice your apples into a mixing bowl, be sure to sprinkle them with lemon juice.    This will keep them from turning brown while you work.  When all your apples are ready to go, add the vanilla.  Toss until all the apples are well coated.  There shouldn’t be extra liquid in the bottom of the bowl.  If there is, I recommend you drain it off.

In a separate bowl, combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cornstarch, and whisk to combine.  Add the mixture to the apples and mix well with a large spoon until all the apple pieces are coated with the mixture.

Pour the apples over your bottom crust in the pie plate.  Cut up the butter into little chunks.  I usually quarter the tablespoons I cut from the stick of butter.  Dot the pie filling with butter (it adds a nice richness to the filling, but if you forget, it isn’t a problem).

If you haven’t already, roll out your top crust to the same thickness of the bottom crust (kind of close anyway.  You don’t want it to be too unbalanced).  Carefully transfer the top crust to cover the apples in the pie plate.  Make sure you have enough to overlap the edges of the pan a bit (although this isn’t strictly necessary, I found it helps me to make a prettier pie).  If your crust tears, just gently press the torn edges together with your fingers.

Trim off the excess crust with a small, sharp knife.  My pie plates have a pretty wide lip, so I use that as my measurement on where to trim.  It is about 3/4 of an inch wide, and I find that is just enough to make a pretty edge.  Press the top and bottom crust together with your fingers, and turn up a little bit.  Then, using your fingers, scallop the edge of the crust.**  (Really I should have taken pictures to show you, but I was too excited about eating pie.)  Finally, using a sharp knife, cut a pretty design in the top crust to allow steam to vent during cooking.

Cover the edges of the crust with foil to prevent burning.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, checking occasionally, until the crust is golden brown.  (If it takes a little longer, don’t worry about it.  I start checking at 10 minutes in, because I’ve owned ovens with a…unique sense of temperature.)  Once golden deliciousness is achieved, and your whole house smells like heaven, remove the pie from the oven and let cool.  I know we like warm pie, but that filling is hot don’t eat it too quickly and burn yourself!

* To “cut in” the shortening to the flour using a fork and knife, just act like you’re cutting up dinner.  You’re just looking to achieve much smaller pieces than bite sized, and it takes a little while, so don’t get frustrated.

**Keeping in mind I’m left-handed, I use the first two fingers on my right hand on the inside edge of the crust and the first finger of my left hand on the outside of the crust.  Press the single finger on the outside of the crust in between the two fingers on the inside and make your way around the edge of the pie.  Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect.  That’s called “rustic”. 😉

‘Til next time,

Jessica

P.S. Tasty Goodness links to parts

  1. Tasty Goodness Part One
  2. Tasty Goodness Part Two
  3. Tasty Goodness Part Three
  4. Tasty Goodness Part Four
  5. Tasty Goodness Cheesecake

 

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Tasty Goodness – Cheesecake Edition

Tasty Goodness – The Cheesecake Edition

Cheesecakewithganacheandcherries2 The time to resurrect the Tasty Goodness series has arrived. (Easter pun…I couldn’t resist.)  For Easter, I decided I wanted to try out something new.  Sunday dinners at my parents’ house are nothing new, but whether it was a need to do something special to commemorate the holiday, an intense desire for cheesecake, or just a craving for expanding my skills, I decided to make a cheesecake from scratch.

Somewhere along the line, I’d gotten it in my head that cheesecakes were really hard to make, so I’d never tried it.  My spring form pan sat empty for two years because I just didn’t know if I wanted to make an attempt only to fail miserably.

Inspired by my new “what’s the worst that can happen” attitude (I’ll talk about that more in another post), I set out on a mission for a good cheesecake recipe.  Fortunately, I work with some great people who hooked me up.

My recipe comes from a cookbook published by a local private school the year I graduated from High School, and I’m making copies of just about everything in there.  It all looks so very good!  I mixed and matched a couple of recipes to get to what I wanted (my sister requested chocolate).

  • Crust:
    2 Cups Chocolate Cookie Crumbs
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 6 T unsalted butter (melted)
  • 1 Cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and press into the bottom and sides of a 10 in spring form pan.  Bake for 7-10 minutes.

Jessica’s Notes:

  • I used chocolate graham crackers to avoid the creamy filling of a cookie like Oreo s.  Don’t ask why, I just decided this was important when I was at the grocery store.  It had absolutely nothing to do with the “Avengers” Chocolate Grahams…

When it came time to decimate the “Avengers” into usable crumbs, I started out with my hand powered food processor…15 minutes later I had chunks that were still too big to use and a very tired arm.  I dumped everything into a large plastic zippered back, and took my grandmother’s rolling pin to it.  This was much more effective.  (Also, you can release some frustration if you want to.)

  • I would like to say that I used mini-chips instead of regular size because of some well thought out…thing.  Truthfully, that’s what I had on hand.  However, if you aren’t a fan of a thick crust, then mini-chips are the way to go.
  • My pan is 9 inches instead of the 10 inch pan called for in the recipe, and I had no idea how I was going to get this stuff to stick to the sides of the thing long enough to cook.   Therefore, I didn’t do that part.  My crust was on the bottom only, and there was a bunch of crust mixture left over.  At least enough for the bottom of another cheesecake.
  • If you’re going to use a water bath (recommended) to cook your cheesecake, go ahead and wrap your pan tightly in foil now.  Otherwise your fingers will get a bit warm and you will curse your lack of forethought when the pan hasn’t cooled enough and you’re ready to back the cheesecake…not that I learned that the hard way or anything.

CheesecakeCheesecake:

  • 5 8oz packages of cream cheese (no, that isn’t a typo)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract

In a food processor, combine the eggs and sugar until smooth.  Add vanilla and set aside in a mixing bowl.  Cube cream cheese into 1 inch cubes and process half the cream cheese until smooth.  Add the sugar mixture until smooth, before adding second half of cream cheese cubes.  Process until smooth and pour onto crust.  Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes.  Cheesecake is done when firm to the touch but jiggles in the middle.  Allow to cool on a wire rack, and then wrap tightly and refrigerate over night.

Jessica’s Notes

  • I don’t have an electric food processor.  I have a small 3 cup processor with a handle you press down to make the blade spin, so when I first read these directions it was not just a “nope” but a “hell, no”.  I’d still be trying to process cream cheese.  Fortunately, I could see from margin notes that my recipe-source had made this before.  No food processor is necessary, a good mixer is a definitely requirement though.
  • Cube your cream cheese smaller than 1 inch if you don’t have a food processor.  That will help with the creaminess.  It will also keep you from overworking the batter.  I don’t know what happens if you overwork the batter, but lots of recipes online made it sound like a bad thing.
  • Don’t worry about adding the ingredients in batches.  I processed the eggs, sugar and vanilla and set it aside until the cream cheese was nice and smooth, then poured the whole lot in the bowl.
  • Make sure you don’t over mix the eggs and sugar…you’ll end up with meringue.    Also, make sure you scrape the bottom of the bowl to get all the sugar that settled while you were waiting for the cream cheese to become creamy.
  • Drop the cheesecake gently on the counter/table a couple of times to make sure all the large air bubbles pop.
  • Use a water bath to avoid the cheesecake from cracking on top (also don’t over cook it).  Make sure your pan is wrapped tightly with foil, and place a large baking pan (I used a cake pan) filled ¾ of the way with water in the oven while it preheats.  Be very careful when you lower and remove the cheesecake.  The water is boiling!
  • These guys must have been using a super oven powered by the Human Torch to get it to bake in 30-45 minutes.  It took a little more than an hour for this to bake.  I started checking every 10 minutes and then every 5 minutes until I thought it was done.  It was done probably 5-10 minutes before I thought it was…my cheesecake top cracked.  Oh well.  That’s what the chocolate ganache was for!

CheesecakewithGanacheGanache

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 5 oz Germans Sweet Baking Chocolate (shaved/curled)

Add the chocolate curls to boiling cream.  Stir until the chocolate is completely melted.  Refrigerate for several hours.  Whip until light and fluffy.

Jessica’s Notes

  • Shave/curl all of your chocolate ahead of time.  It does not take cream as long to boil as you think it will…or as long as I thought it would.
  • Keep the paper on the chocolate bar as you shave it to use as a handle.  This may be obvious to everyone else, but chocolate melts when it encounters warm objects.  My hands are not as cold as my ex says they are.  They do melt chocolate.
  • Use a flexible cutting board to do this.  Shaved/curled chocolate melts a lot faster than you think it will…not that licking some of the melted chocolate off your fingers isn’t tasty, but…really.  Flexible. Cutting. Board.
  • I have no idea how to “curl” chocolate.  All of my attempts ended in shaved shards.  I was bothered by this until I realized it was going to be melted and no one would see it.  This epiphany took much longer to come about than it should have.
  • Stir this stuff constantly…make sure your cream doesn’t scorch.  These were also palm to forehead moments.  Mine came out with a texture that isn’t as smooth as I would have liked, but when I asked my mom about it she told me that it didn’t stay on her tongue long enough to worry about the texture.  She was too busy eating it.

Presentation:

  • I piped the ganache around the edges of the cheesecake until all the ganache was gone.  (It really did taste divine).  The decorated edge also had the added benefit of corralling the cherries that I put in the center.
  • I used the canned cherries that I also used in my Cherry Cheesecake Pie recipe.
  • Removing the spring form ring from around the cake wasn’t bad.  I just ran a thin paring knife around the edge to make sure it detached.  However, if you’re trying not to mess up your decorating during moving, just leave it on there.  (trust me)
  • The cherries will move during transport.  Maybe you should put them on once you arrive at your destination.

There is no need to fear the cheesecake (well, unless you are unable to eat this goodness in moderation…in which case you should definitely fear homemade cheesecake!)  This really wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be, and it was really light and fluffy and creamy. Two bites in and my mother requested this for her birthday (I’m not allowed to make any changes or “improvements”).  The leftovers were coveted, and disappeared quickly.  Luckily for me, my family is kind and generous, and they left me enough for two small pieces … as a matter of fact, there is one leftover piece waiting for me at home … maybe I’ll go home for lunch.

‘Til next time,

Jessica

P.S. Now I’ve immersed myself in cheesecake recipes.  I found a Irish Cream Cheesecake…using my homemade Irish Cream?  Yes, please!

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Tasty Goodness Part 4: The Doctor Who Theme Party Menu

Are you ready for Part 4 of Tasty Goodness?  I thought after my post about turning theme parties into a way to give back to your community, I should give you the recipes used in my Doctor Who theme party I hosted a couple of months ago.  Of course, all of this can be made without the Doctor theme. (It isn’t as much fun though.)

Moisturize Me Lasagna

This one is a super easy and simple way to put together lasagna.  The amounts you’ll need really depend on how big your baking dish is, and personal preference

  • Moisturize Me Lasagna from my Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Party

    Moisturize Me Lasagna

    Lasagna Noodles (I like the oven ready ones.  Less work!)

  • Marinara Sauce
  • Ground Beef (optional)
  • Ricotta Cheese
  • Mozzarella Cheese
  • Frozen Spinach (Optional)

Cassandra’s Face

  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Radish
  • Black Olive Slices

Preheat your oven to 350.  Brown the ground beef and drain off excess fat before mixing the meat with the marinara sauce.  Spread a little marinara sauce (without meat) in the bottom of your baking dish to prevent sticking, and lay an even layer of noodles in the bottom of the pan.  You can leave a little space between the noodles (the noodles swell a little when cooking), but make sure you don’t over lap them.  On top of the noodles, spread a thin coating of meat sauce.  Drop a few spoonfuls of ricotta over the meat sauce, space them out (otherwise you run out of ricotta!).  If you’re using spinach, make sure the spinach is thawed and gently patted dry to remove excess water.  Layer the spinach over the ricotta and top with another layer of noodles.  Repeat this process until you reach the top of the baking pan, ending with a layer of meat sauce.  Spread grated mozzarella cheese on the top of everything.  Bake in 350 oven for 1 hour.

If you don’t like ground beef, you can replace that with ground turkey or even buffalo.  If meat just isn’t your thing at all, just use spinach.  Some of the best lasagna I’ve ever eaten was made with spinach!  Be careful not to burn the roof of your mouth!

After the lasagna is out of the oven, you can assemble Cassandra’s face using two slices of radish, two slices of black olive, and a red bell pepper cut to look like lips.

Bow Ties are Cool Pasta from my Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Party

Bow Ties are Cool Pasta

Bow Ties are Cool Pasta

  • Bow Tie Pasta (actually you can use any kind of pasta you like)
  • Cherry or Grape Tomatoes
  • 5 Cloves of Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh Basil
  • Fresh Mozzarella (optional)

Cook the pasta according to directions on the package.  While the water is boiling for the pasta chop the garlic and brown in a skillet with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  (Watch the garlic closely.  It can burn quickly and will get bitter!)  Slice 1/3 of the tomatoes and cook them over medium heat with the garlic until the tomatoes release their juices.  Toss the cooked pasta with the tomatoes and garlic.  Tear fresh basil on top of the pasta and toss in some pieces of fresh mozzarella (because why not?).  Now let’s eat!

 

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Tasty Goodness Part 2: Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

English: Four aluminum measuring spoons on a r...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I mentioned in Tasty Goodness – Part 1, I Geek Out over cooking, baking, and good food in general.  I know lots of people are starting their new year off with a renewed passion for eating healthy, and I am as well.  However, I also firmly believe in balancing all the healthy with a little bit of “who-cares-about-the-calories/salt/sugar/fat-it-tastes-amazing!”.  So, with that philosophy in mind, I present a recipe today for lovely baked goods that have become go-to items for bake sales and fundraisers…and birthdays…and driving exams…and…I found this from Chef-In-Training on Pinterest.  Seriously, I don’t know whether I love Pinterest for all the wonderful things on there or curse it because I spend so much time looking at the wonderful things…You can find more deliciousness on my board The Sweetest Thing.  If you’re new to Pinterest…I’m sorry.  I’m so, so sorry.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

The cupcake craze seems to have taken over.  No matter which city I go to, I find bakeries specializing in cupcakes only, television shows with cupcake cook offs…the list goes on and on.  Why not?  They’re perfect hand-held pieces of yummy!  Cupcakes allow you to indulge in a sweet treat while controlling the portion…well, most of the time.  (Some days you just need a second one…)  This recipe was made both for a United Way bake sale at work, and as either a “Congratulations! You got your learners permit” or “Let me console you, you failed your learners permit test.” (My niece and I studied hard for her test for her driving permit.  She passed with flying colors (the second time) but I was prepared for contingencies with signs for both eventualities.  She was not overly amused.)  This recipe comes from Chef-In-Training.  She has a lot of great recipes on her blog.  It is definitely worth checking out!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

Cupcake Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup unsweetened cocoa (sifted)
  • 1 Cup hot water
  • 1 Cup Buttermilk
  • 2 Cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 Cup heavy cream

Salted Caramel Buttercream Ingredients

  • 1/4 Cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1/4 Cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 Cup butter (softened)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 package Dream Whip (dry)
  • 3 Cups powdered sugar (more if needed to reach desired consistency)

Instructions

Chocolate Cupcakes

  1. Add the sifted cocoa powder to a medium-sized bowl and pour in the cup of hot water.  Whisk until completely dissolved.
  2. Add the buttermilk to cool down the mixture, then add the sugar and whisk until all is combined.
  3. Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla and mix again.
  4. In a small bowl, stir flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Whisk this into the wet mixture until you no longer see any lumps.
  5. Stir in heavy cream until evenly mixed.
  6. Pour into cupcake tins and bake at 350 for 18-22 minutes or until done.  Let cool and chill in fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Salted Caramel Buttercream

  1. In a saucepan, stir together granulated sugar and water.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Cook without stirring until the mixture turns a deep amber color, about 10 minutes. (Watch this closely!  The caramel will burn if you take your eye off of it.  This happened to me…twice!)  Remove from head and slowly add in cream and vanilla, stirring constantly until very smooth. (Make sure you continue stirring as you add in the cream and vanilla, otherwise you end up with a big glob of brown stuff.)  Let the caramel continue to cool for about 20 minutes, until it is just barely warm and still pourable.  Alternatively, you could use just under 1/2 cup of your favorite caramel sauce.
  2. Beat butter and salt together until lightened and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and add dry Dream Whip until combined. Whip until combined. (Why low speed?  Do you want to look like a ghost?  Then leave it on high.  You will have a fine dusting of Dream Whip all over you and your kitchen!  Learn from my mistakes, folks.)
  3. Beat in powdered sugar.  Mix until thoroughly combined. (Watch the consistency here.  The first batch of frosting was pretty tight and hard to manipulate, but the second I added just a hair less, and it was perfect.  Sifting the sugar into the mixing bowl helped greatly.)
  4. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the caramel.
  5. Beat on medium high until light and airy, and completely mixed (about 2 minutes).

The frosting should be ready to use without refrigeration.  If your caramel was too hot when it was added, your icing will be runny.  No worries though, just refrigerate for 15-20 minutes and mix well.  Now you can frost your cupcakes.  Try not to “test” too much of the frosting as you decorate….I dare you.  Enjoy!

What’s your favorite recipe?

‘Til next time,

Jessica

P.S. I’m taking an html writing class.  I can create headers now!  Pretty huh?  What do you think?

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