Saturday, December 20, 2008

Mini Chicken Pot Pies

This recipe was also a recent request. And I made it today for a Christmas gift. And Will actually thought to take a picture!! I have no idea how long they should bake for and if they should be defrosted before baking or just bake frozen, but for longer. I'm leaving that to the gift-getter to figure out! If anyone else tries these and has suggestions for the best way to cook them, please comment! (adapted from Betty Crocker)
Chicken Pot pies:

1 package (10 oz.) frozen peas and carrots
1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. flour
1/3 c. chopped onion
1/3 c. chopped celery (optional)
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1 3/4 c. chicken broth
2/3 c. milk
2 1/2 - 3 c. cut-up cooked chicken (we bought a 20 oz package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and just cooked them in water on the stove until done, then cooled and cut up and used all of it. Probably more than the recipe called for.

Pastry for 10-inch two-crust pie (will be barely enough)
6 little pie pans

Rinse frozen peas and carrots in cold water to separate (still uncooked), drain. Heat butter in large pan over med heat until melted. Add onion and celery and cook until tender, stir in flour, salt and pepper. Cook until bubbly. Remove from heat and slowly stir in broth and milk (this works best if you add a little at a time, and it is easiest to avoid lumps if the broth is cold, not hot). Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Stir in chicken and veggies. Let cool.
Make the pastry according to your favorite recipe. (I used a shortning recipe even though I usually use oil pastry because I think the shortning makes the dough easier to handle for something like this and I suspect it will hold up better after having been frozen... but I have no proof of that.) We bought little disposable aluminum foil pie pans at the store and washed them. Dough was rolled out for the bottom crusts (I made these once before without a bottom crust, but this time I decided to try it... like I mentioned about, I don't know how these will all bake up, I'll have to ask the person in a month or two!) and then the pies were all filled. And then smaller pieces of dough were put over the top and the pies sealed in some fashion or another. I then cut some slits on the top. Then I put them in covered plastic food containers out on the back deck to freeze in this very cold weather we are having. Tonight I'll bring them in and wrap in foil and then put in plastic bags. And either put in the freezer or back out on the deck (unaccessable to random stray dogs and such).

Make 6 little pies (I probably used extra veggies too, I was combining peas and carrots separately, so I wasn't keeping good track.)

The recipe says to bake the normal pie (in a square 9x9 inch pan) at 425 deg F for ~35 minutes or until golden brown.

Butter Crispies

This is not a new-fashioned family recipe. It's an old recipe, requested by Ellen. This is the cut-out Christmas cookie recipe that Ann C.'s kids grew up with, and according to her, it's also Grandma's recipe. Does everyone else's mom make this recipe too?

1 c. butter (no substitutions, of course!)

1 c. white sugar

1 egg

1 t. vanilla

3 1/2 c. sifted flour (if you don't have a sifter to sift before measuring, use less flour (~3 c + 2T ?)

1/8 t. salt

3/4 t. nutmeg (Ann C uses less... maybe 1/4 t. ?)

1 t. baking soda

1/2 c. buttermilk (put 1/2 T. of cider vinegar (or white vinegar) into a liquid measuring cup and fill the rest with milk. Let sit ~5 min.)

**Do NOT use an electric mixer to make these. I accidentally did this year and the cookies turned out tough and practically unedible. If anyone has used an electric mixer successfully with this recipe, let me know, but I'll probably just stick with bowl and wooden spoon.

Cream butter, gradually beat in egg, vanilla, and sugar. Combine flour, salt, nutmeg, and baking soda and sift into creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk. Divide dough into parts and wrap in plastic wrap, chill at least an hour (can freeze for weeks too). Roll out just a bit at a time. Roll very thin. Cut out with cooking cutters. Place on an ungreased baking sheet (sprinkle with sprinkles now, if you aren't going to be using frosting.) Bake at 350 deg F 8-10 min (watch closely). Done when edges are just turning golden-brown. Yield: 5 1/2 doz (? I have no idea what that's based on or actually counted myself. That's just what my recipe says.)

Grandma frosts these and decorates them. I don't know what recipe she uses for the frosting, though. But I'm sure everyone remembers which is the favorite shape of cookie when the tray is being brought around...

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I have no idea where we got the recipe for these; we've been making them for a while. Will shared his favorite kitchen smell the other day - one of my favorite kitchen smells comes from a step making these. This is a little more involved of a recipe, but nothing is difficult or anything like that. We haven't tried it, but I imagine these would freeze pretty well; they are good the next day for leftovers. The dipping sauce is good with them, but be warned that it will leave your house/apartment smelling like vinegar for the rest of the evening (and until all the dirty dishes get washed). This made us ~12 samosas (dinner for two, plus two smaller lunch servings the next day).

5-6 small red-skinned potatoes, well washed
1T. butter
1c. minced onion
2 med. cloves garlic, minced
1 T. grated ginger (or more!)
1 t. mustard seed (not ground mustard)
1 t. dried, ground coriander
3/4 t. salt
1 1/2 c. uncooked green peas (we use frozen)
2 T. lemon juice
Cayenne pepper to taste

Roughly chop potatoes (we leave skins on) and place in saucepan, cover with water and boil to soften. Drain, mash, set aside in a bowl. Melt butter in the pan. Add onion, garlic, ginger, mustard seeds, coriander and salt. Saute over medium heat 8-10 minutes. (My favorite savory kitchen smell!) Add to potatoes. Mix in peas. Allow to cool for ~10-15 minutes before filling samosas.

2 1/2 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
1 c. yogurt (or buttermilk, but we've always used plain yogurt)

Add flour and salt to bowl. Mix. Make well in the center for yogurt. Mix w/ spoon then by hand, adding extra flour as needed to keep from being sticky. Knead for 5 min.

Making the samosas: Preheat oven to 425 deg F. Oil baking sheet. Roll out 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls of dough pretty thin. Place ~2 T. filling into center of dough, fold over and seal with water and a fork. Brush tops w/ oil. Bake 15 min at 425, then turn samosas over, reduce heat to 375 deg F and bake ~10 min more.

Dipping sauce:

1/4 c. cider vinegar
2 T. water
1 1/2 T. brown sugar
1 very small clove garlic, minced
1/2 t. salt
2 T. cold water
~1-2 t. corn starch?

Mix all except last two ingredients in saucepan. Boil, then simmer ~5 minutes. In separate bowl (or coffee mug :) mix the cold water and corn starch and then slowly add to sauce, stirring.
(last time we made these was the first time we tried thickening the sauce. It definitely is better thicker, but I'm not sure of the amount of corn starch really needed.)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tamale Pie

This is a very tasty casserole that produces one of my very favorite kitchen smells at one point during the cooking process.

2 T. oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 green pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
1 T. chili powder
2 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 c. tomato sauce
1/2 c. water
1 15 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups frozen corn
1/4 t. salt
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1 1/2 c. water
1 c. milk
1 c. cornmeal
1 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 large egg, beaten
1 T. butter

Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the onions and garlic and saute until onions begin to color. Add green pepper and jalapeno and stir until pepper is soft. Sprinkle spices on and cook for 2 minutes. (This is the point at which I love the smell!) Add tomato sauce, water, kidney beans, corn and salt and bring to boil. Scrape mixtur into a casserole dish. Top with the cheese.

Meanwhile, bring milk, water and cornmeal mixture to a boil in medium saucepan, stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the mixture is very thick and pulls away from the pan (10 minutes, maybe, depending on heat). Remove the pan from heat and add sugar, salt, baking powder and egg. Stir together and spread over the beans and cheese. Top with little bits of butter. Bake 45 minutes at 375 degrees. Let cool 10-15 minutes before eating.

(Adapted from Vegetarian Classics, by Jeanne Lemlin)

Ann C's (aka Mom's) Pancakes

Though she is known as "Mom" to those of us who lose her recipes (and to some of us who don't!), she isn't "Mom" to all contributors... but she does make some tasty pancakes!

1 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. oatmeal
1/4 c. regular flour
1/2 c. dried milk
3 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 t. sugar

Mix dry ingredients.

Beat 2 eggs well in measuring cup. Add 3 T. oil. Then fill measuring cup to 2 c. mark w/milk. Mix.

Add dry and wet ingredients together until just moistened. Cook on hot griddle.

Eat. Enjoy. Repeat.

Mom's Pancakes

Ok, I went to make Mom's pancakes this morning but discovered I have lost the recipe!!! Who can help me out? I promise I will post pictures of pancakes if someone can post the recipe.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Chicken, lentil and barley curry

Hi! I thought I'd share this recipe that my college roommate gave me a while ago. It is one of my favorites to make and have leftovers for lunch at work. It's extra nice on a cold winter day like today too! I did make it today but need to recharge the batteries in my camera, otherwise I'd share a picture. Anyway....

2 tsp olive oil
1 1/4 cup sweet red pepper, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp ginger root, freshly grated (I just use about 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger, though it probably isn't the same)
2 tsp curry powder
2 cup water
2 cup canned chicken broth
1 cup carrot, sliced
1/2 cup uncooked barley
3 1/3 oz dry lentils, rinsed and picked over (about 1/2 cup)
8 oz chicken breast, uncooked, boneless, skinless, cut into bite-size chunks
4 1/2 oz frozen kale, chopped (about 1 cup) (I use spinach instead)
1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt (it's good without this topping too)

Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add peppers and onion. Sauté over medium-high heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, ginger root and curry powder. Cook over low heat 1 minute until fragrant.

Stir in water, broth, carrots and barley and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes.

Stir in lentils. Cover and simmer, stirring once or twice, until barley and lentils are tender, about 30 to 35 minutes. I usually cut up the chicken and kale/spinach at this point.

Stir in chicken and kale; cover and cook until chicken is cooked through and kale is hot, about 5 minutes. Serve yogurt on side to drizzle over top. Yields about 1 1/2 cups per serving plus 2 tablespoons of yogurt. I don't know why the recipe says how big your servings should be, but not how many total servings it makes. Anyway, when I make it I'll usually have some that day, take leftovers to work a couple of times that week and freeze some for later too.

Anyway, that's it! Hope you like it!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Beer-braised barbecued pulled pork

Will and I made this on Sunday and it was SO good! This is actually my inspiration for this blog. It's from a cookbook from the library (a Food tv chef whose initials are D.L. - if you watch that channel ever). (note: From what I've read, as long as you make a couple changes to the recipe that you are posting on the internet, it's not a copyright issue, so I've modified the title and I'll re-word some of the instructions.)

We had the pork as a sandwich on hamburger buns, but the recipe as I'll type it calls for serving over cheesy grits. I've never had grits before. Greg - you're practically a southerner by now, have you had them? Wikipedia tells me that it's a corn porridge similar to polenta. "Traditionally the corn for grits is ground by a stone mill. The results are passed through screens, with the finer part being corn meal, and the coarser being grits." I think the pork would probably be great that way too - and fancier for a special meal.

Here's the recipe:

For the pork:
3 T. canola oil
2 T. salt
1 T. sugar
~50 grinds black pepper (we used ~1/4 t.)
2 T. chili powder
1 T. garlic powder
2 t. ground coriander
2 t. ground mustard seed
1 pork butt, about 5-6 pounds (I think this recipe is supposed to use pork with the bone. We used a 3.4 lb boneless butt - and we probably got ~8 nicely stuffed hamburger bun sandwiches out of the recipe)
12 oz. good ale or dark beer, such as Bass (we used Leinies Ocktoberfest Amber beer)
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 c. ketchup
2 T. dijon mustard
3 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/3 c. dark brown sugar

**Best to start this recipe the night before!** Combine the oil, salt, sugar, pepper, and all dry spices in a small bowl and mix well. Rub all over the pork but. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and preferably overnight. (we just did 2 hours)

Preheat the oven to 500 deg F (nope, not a typo). Unwrap the pork and place in a roasting pan with sides just a couple inches high. If your pan is too high the meat won't brown well. (we don't have a roasting pan, we used a fairly shallow 9 x 13 inch pan and I think it worked fine. The only problem is that the pan was really tough to clean out afterward... maybe line with aluminum foil or something? That might work.) Cook ~45 minutes, until dark browned and blackening in places. (This dish may take a long time to cook, but it makes your place smell amazing while it's cooking!) Remove from the oven. Lower the temp to 300 deg F. Pour the beer over the top and add the sliced garlic to the beer around the pork. Cover tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil or twice with regular foil and poke ~10 holes all over the top of the foil. Cook the pork ~2 1/2 hours longer, until it is so tender it comes away from the center bone. (we didn't have a bone, it was plenty tender. I don't think you can overcook this. In his recipe intro the chef says the recipe is based on a roadside stand in Georgia that cooks their pork up to 18 hours.)

Place the meat onto a plate, and pour the pan juices into a saucepan (most of the garlic just naturally stuck to the roasting pan for me, and I left it there, a few pieces went into the pan and dissolved easily when making the sauce.) To the pan juices add the ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire, and brown sugar. Stir together and bring to a boil. Simmer until thick and reduced by ~half (around 20 minutes).

While the sauce is boiling, pull apart the pork with two forks. (Make sure you try some of the pork at this point... especially outside bits! I almost ate it all at this step before even getting to the sauce!) Pour the sauce over the pulled pork and work until fully absorbed.

Making the grits: (if you want something fancier)

Scald 3 c. whole milk with 1 t. salt in a saucepan over medium heat until little bubbles appear around the outside. Slowly whisk in 1 c. instant grits and continue whisking until the mixture barely simmers. Cook, whisking often, until very thick, which might take about 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 c. grated sharp white cheddar cheese until melted and smooth. Serve the savory pulled pork over the hot grits.

Serves 8.

If you try it, let me know what you think! I don't eat meat all that often, actually, but I've decided that pork just might be my favorite, so if you have any great pork recipes, please share!

What have you guys made/eaten lately? I'll try to take some pictures next time while cooking and the finished product to liven up the blog! Who doesn't like food pictures?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Finding new family favorites and obsessing about good food

There are only a few people that I know who obsess about good food and enjoy talking about it as much as people in my extended family. Now that most of our generation are out on their own and cooking for themselves, I thought that a forum to share recipes and rants about food might be kind of fun, especially with others who have the same food background (ie crescent rolls at holidays are a must). As the title implies, hopefully we'll discover good dishes that might become new family favorites too.

Blog authorship is open to any of the cousins who likes to cook and wants to share recipes or food obsessions. Blog readership is open to anyone who cares to read, so pass it along (and please keep it anonymous - only use first names, etc.) Let me know if you want to be added as an author!

Happy cooking!