Monday, July 4, 2011

Nothing Says Happy 4th of July like Apple Pie!

235 years ago today, the Continental Congress announced their separation from England and thus began the history of our great country.

How better to celebrate our freedom than with apple pie?! Here's a recipe adapted from Annie Eats that would even please Johnny Appleseed!

First, start out by making your pie dough (my favorite part of any pie).  If you have a food processor, this is a cinch!  I made this recipe twice and wrapped them separately in saran wrap.  (One for the bottom pie crust, and one for the top.)  You could always just make one recipe and then cut it in half and wrap separately.  Whatever floats you boat.  You will need more than just one recipe though. 

Go ahead and preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Begin by placing 1 1/4 cup flour, 1 Tablespoon sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt in your processor and give it a few pulses to mix.
Cut in one stick of cold butter until butter pieces are about the size of peas.  Then, with processor on "dough" setting, add 3 tablespoons of ice cold water, one at a time.  Turn off processor when one dough ball forms.
Repeat (unless, of course, you doubled the recipe), and wrap in saran wrap and chill in the freezer while you get the apples ready. 

You'll need 5-6 Granny Smith Apples.  Peel and slice thinly. 
Stir into apples the following ingredients:
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • juice from one medium lemon (about 1 Tablespoon)
Now, take one doughball out of freezer, roll out and form to pie plate. Cut of excess on the edges and crimp with your fingers.

Spoon apple mixture (and make sure you get all the juices that have formed) evenly into pie crust. Top with 2-3 Tablespoons butter cut up into small pieces.

Then, roll out the other pie dough ball and start cutting stars.  Or, you could always top lattice-style.  I just liked the patriotic flair of the stars!
Make an egg wash by mixing 1 egg with 1 Tablespoon cold water and brush on the top of your stars.

Now, here's the real difference in my recipe and the one I was using as a guide.  The original recipe says to bake for 50-60 minutes.  It took mine 38-40 minutes.  So, depending on your oven, start checking it around 35-40 minutes and cook longer until the top is a nice golden brown.

Isn't it beautiful?!  

Happy Independence Day Everyone!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Super-Easy Chicken Nuggets

This is Justin's new favorite dinner.  He requests it at least once a week, if not more.  It's just as easy as my oven-fried chicken and equally as tasty.  Which is good for me!

1. First, cut up 2 or 3 chicken breasts into 1" chunks. I like to cut my chicken when it's still ever so slightly frozen, because it just slices into much neater chunks.

 2. The first time I made this I did the following step in a ziploc bag--shake and bake style.  This time I tried mixing it in a bowl.  Shake and bake style was much easier, and I will go back to that next time.  Anyway, you will mix 1/3 cup flour and 1 teaspoon seasoning salt and dredge chicken nuggets.

3. Now, crush some corn flakes and melt about a half stick of butter.

4. Dip each nugget in the melted butter and then roll in the crushed corn flakes. 

5. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil (for easy clean up) and bake nuggets at 400 degrees for about 20-22 minutes. 

6. Serve with honey mustard, BBQ sauce, or gravy...or just eat them plain like Justin...and enjoy!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Rose Cake

Here is a picture of the cake that I decorated my mother-in-law's birthday last week.

I tried a new decoration method with this one.  Super Easy!**  First, I spread a thin layer of icing over the whole cake.  Then, I basically did the same swirl that I use to top my cupcakes over and over until the cake is covered.  I love decorating this way because it doesn't have to be perfect.  And when it comes to decorating cake, I am far from a perfectionist.  Even I can make a cake look elegant with this method!

**This method should be easy.  I, however, had the biggest headache with it.  I made it on one of the days when I was "snowed in" had been canceled, and being the South Texas girl that I am, I was terrified to drive on ice.  Right as I start to make my icing, I realize that I am almost out of powdered sugar.  No way am I going to get out on this ice.  Then a little light bulb goes off in my head...I think I remember a way to MAKE powdered sugar.  So, I google it.  Seems simple enough...blend granulated sugar and a little cornstarch.  No problem, I think.  BIG MISTAKE.  What a mess!!

Next time I will risk the ice to get the powdered sugar.  It was that bad.  

Or, like my oh-so-clever sister says, "Steph, you should always have an extra bag of powdered sugar on hand!"  

Lessons learned....

Crispy Flaky Oven Fried Chicken

My husband's favorite food is fried chicken.

I DO NOT make fried chicken.

Therefore, hubby gets no fried chicken.  

How's that for a syllogism?  Aristotle would be proud....I think.   Wait...!!  Hold up!!!  I think I just used my college degree!!  Mom...Dad!!!!  I used it!!  Majoring in Speech Communication was useful!! 

Okay...enough of that.  Look at this:

It looks like fried chicken....

It tastes like fried chicken...

but it is NOT fried chicken....technically.

After eating this, Justin said..."Steph, I will never ask you to make fried chicken for me again if you promise to keep making this."  DEAL!!!  

This is the easiest dinner ever! 

Ingredients Needed:
1 1/2 cups mashed potato flakes
1 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 cup melted butter
1 TBSP water
1 egg
1 cut fryer chicken (about 3-3.5 lbs)

First, preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

In a large mixing bowl comine: 1 1/2 cups mashed potato flakes, 1 teaspoon seasoned salt, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Stir 1/4 cup melted butter into potato flake mixture.

In a separate bowl, beat 1 egg with 1 TBSP water. 

Dip chicken in egg, then coat in potato flake mixture. 
Place chicken in 13x9 (ungreased) baking dish. I actually like to spread mine out into two dishes so the chicken pieces don't touch and the batter stays on. I also pour the leftover crumbs on the already coated chicken for extra crunch.  

Then, bake for 1 hour.

That's all!  And it's so good!  I will definitely be adding this to the "rotation".

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Turnip Greens to die for!

Even if you don't like turnip greens, you'll love these.  Delicious, I tell you.  Delicious!  Just look at this picture:

My mouth is watering....

These are so easy, and you will not be able to get enough....I promise.

Step 1: Cook some bacon (or bacon ends if you can find them) in a BIG skillet on medium heat. Once it starts to sizzle, throw in a chopped medium yellow onion and a few chopped cloves of  garlic.  Saute until bacon is cooked and onions are translucent.

Step 2: Now toss in your turnip greens.  Stuff in as much as you can in your skillet.  They will reduce like crazy!  Carefully stir to distribute the yummy bacon. 

Step 3: Add in 2 cups or so of chicken broth.  (This depends on how many greens you stuffed in your you may need more.  Just eye ball it. This is going to make the most delicious juice.  Justin and I were literally tipping our bowls and drinking the juice when we finished our greens.  Don't laugh.  You will too!)  Again, stir. You'll notice it start wilting right away and you'll be able to stir. Now season with salt and pepper.

Step 4: Reduce heat to low and cover.  Let simmer 30-45 minutes. 

Now, Eat!

This is also good with hot pepper juice sprinkled on top. 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fire-Roasted Stuffed Jalapenos

I have to begin by crediting this recipe to my uncle, David!  Every time I eat jalapenos (or any pepper, for that matter) I think of my two uncles--Charlie and David--who grow the best peppers ever!

First brown up and crumble some breakfast sausage (I like to use the "hot" kind for the extra spice).  I use about a half of a roll for 16 poppers (and still had a little left over).  So, you probably won't want a whole package unless you're making a lot of peppers.

Then, mix in a package of cream cheese and a few handfuls of shredded cheddar cheese.  The only way to mix it thoroughly is with your fingers.  So go ahead and get dirty.

Now for the jalapenos.  This is the best tool ever!!

It's the jalapeno corer from Sur la Table (the best store in the world).  If you don't have one of these you could use a really skinny paring knife to get in the peppers to take out the ribs and seeds and make room for the delicious stuffing.

Once you get them cored, I like to rinse them with cold water to get any stray seeds.

Next step....stuff!  Again, use your fingers.

For cooking, I definitely prefer grilling!  But you could definitely bake them if you don't have a grill, or don't want to for some strange reason.  However, the flavor is much much better!  We have this handy little tool, that my uncle, David, welded for us that makes grilling a breeze using skewers.  They have a jalapeno griller at Sur la Table too.

Before you grill, they should look like this...

Don't over stuff them or it will all ooze out and get really messy.

Now....grill!  It doesn't matter how long.  Just until they are to the point you like them, and the cheddar is melted.  The longer you grill them, the less heat in the pepper, though.

Again, thanks to David for the oh-so-handy pepper rack, and thanks to my dad for the charcoal grill.  We use it so often!

Here's a picture of my uncle, David, cooking some peppers of his own!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have many life-long goals.  One is to write a novel.  Another has been to find the PERFECT chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I have tried several different recipes in search for a nice, big, fluffy cookie.  It seems like every recipe produces flat cookies.  I am very happy to report....I! Have! Found! It!  Seriously, the best...EVER!  It's one I found on, and like always, I made my own changes to make it perfect.

What a mountain of GOODNESS!

I kept thinking about keeping this as my "secret recipe."  But...I just couldn't.  It's too good not to share.  So, fear not.  Here you go.  

2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 sticks (one cup) butter* (IT HAS TO BE THE REAL STUFF!)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large packet of vanilla flavored instant pudding mix (I think it's 5.8 oz)
2 eggs
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
chopped nuts, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift together flour and baking soda.
2. Cream together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar.

*Now, this is going to sound weird.  I got it in my mind to make cookies last night.  Even after I went to check for ingredients and found I only had 1 1/2 sticks of butter.  This was not going to stop me!  In my fridge, I found a small container of cream cheese frosting left over from Justin's cupcakes.  Well, I thought to myself....that frosting had a lot of butter in it...  The texture is pretty similar....  It couldn't hurt....  What the heck....  So, I scooped a few big spoons of the left over frosting into the bowl to make up for what I was lacking in butter.  Sooo good!  Just shows...improvisation in the kitchen (even when baking) can produce amazing results!

*Another side note on butter, I've found using cold butter, straight from the fridge, helps cookies keep their shape.  Room temperature butter seems to make them slide out and become big flat Frisbee cookies.  Maybe it's in my head...but I always take it straight out of the fridge and put it directly in my mixer.

Back to the recipe...

3.Now, beat in the pudding mix.  Then add eggs and vanilla.
4. Slowly add flour mixture 1/4 cup at a time until completely mixed.  Your dough should be fairly dry.  If it looks really wet or sticky, your dough needs more flour.  This is another common problem that causes flat cookies.  I've even added oatmeal to my chocolate chip cookie dough before to "dry it up" and it was delicious!
5. Now, stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if you want) until mixed.  Drop by spoonfuls (about the size of a golf ball or maybe a little smaller) onto an UNGREASED cookie sheet.  If you're afraid of sticking, use parchment paper.  Cooking spray makes your dough spread out too much.  (Maybe this is in my head too...but I'm sticking to my cookie theories.)
6. Bake 10-12 minutes.  It actually took mine 15-16 minutes because I cooked 2 cookie sheets full at a time. You know how your oven cooks.  Just keep an eye on them.  When they lose that "wet" look in the center, they should be done. you have the best recipe for chocolate chip cookies....of all time!  

Now...time to write my novel.