Pie Crust

David and I are sharing Thanksgiving with friends in Ft. Collins this year and I wanted to make a pie. I have made a couple – a caramel pumpkin and a chocolate bourbon pecan. I made two crusts with these pies – one 50/50 (shortening and butter) and one all butter crust. I admit that I think that the 50/50 crust turned out better, so I am putting it here so that I can remember it. I got it from this recipe from the American Pie Council (who hosts recipes of good pie makers – of course…).

http://www.piecouncil.org/2016Amateur?entry=17612

Crust
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. baking powder
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cold, in 8 pieces
4 Tbsp. vegetable shortening, cold
1 tsp. cider vinegar
1/4 c. water, cold

1. Mix flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse in the butter until the pieces are the size of large beans. Pulse in the shortening until mixture resembles coarse wet sand and there are no pieces larger than peas.
2. Add the vinegar to the water. Pulse in the water mixture until incorporated but before a dough ball forms.
3. Remove the dough from the processor and pat into a 4-inch disc on a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. (On my first time making this crust, I put it in the freezer for about 30 minutes).
4. Roll out the pie dough out to a circle large enough to fill a 9-1/2 inch deep-dish pie pan. Line the pan with the rolled crust and crimp the edges as desired. Freeze for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425F.
5. Line the dough with parchment paper and pie weights. Bake for 18 minutes.
6. After 18 minutes of baking, remove the weights and parchment. Continue baking until the crust is golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes more.

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Maple and Chocolate-Bacon Crunch Ice Cream

I wanted some ice cream, and I have had some regular ol’ Ben and Jerry’s but I wanted to start working on finding ice cream that fit my lifestyle, that is dairy free. So, I went looking around and I found this. It’s delicious, rich, and with a nice salty crunch anytime you get a piece of bacon.

* You will need an ice cream maker.

Ingredients

4 cups full fat coconut milk
1 pack gelatin
1 cup maple syrup
6 egg yolks
3 tbsp unsalted butter
Pinch salt
4 pieces of thick cut bacon
3-4 ounces Dark Chocolate (72%)

Instructions

1. In a small sauce pan, reduce the maple syrup by about half over medium heat. Set aside.

2. Pour coconut milk in a medium sauce pan and sprinkle gelatin on top WITHOUT stirring. Let sit for 1 minute and then whisk in. Turn the stove on medium and then whisk in the reduced maple syrup and pinch of salt. Lightly simmer the mixture until just before boiling.

3. Then in a mixing bowl off to the side, beat the egg yolks until light in color. (Not sure what to do with the leftover egg whites? Freeze them individually in an ice cube tray and then store for later use.)

4. Slowly temper the eggs with the hot maple cream mixture. Add the butter and then either return back to the stove and whisk for 5 minutes OR Vitamix that shizz for 5 minutes. I think blending it makes it lighter and silkier.

5. Remove from stove and bring to room temperature before chilling for at least 6 hours or overnight. You want it to be plenty cold before churning in the icecream maker.

6. Prior to churning, fry up 4 pieces of bacon until crisp but not burnt. If you cook the bacon in a microwave it will produce a dryer, crispier bacon that works better for this type of recipe. So if you own a microwave, use it, but it isn’t necessary.

7. Layer a baking sheet with parchment paper.

8. Melt chocolate using a double boiler and then dip bacon strips in it. (I trimmed off any excess rubbery fat from my jerky-like bacon before coating with chocolate.) Lay on baking sheet.

9. Chill for 15 minutes and then cut into small bite-sized pieces.

10. Follow the directions of your icecream maker and churn the maple ice cream. Throw in the chocolate bacon pieces towards the end of churning.

11. Pack into pints or an airtight container and freeze before serving.

Herb-Crusted Pork Loin

A few weeks ago, I was the one with a few minutes of free time, so I made dinner for David and I. I picked out this dish and I think it turned out really well. I got this one from The Paleo Mom. 

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 lbs pork center loin or sirloin
  • 2 large sprigs fresh rosemary (about 2 Tbsp chopped)
  • 10-12 sprigs fresh thyme (about 2 Tbsp chopped)
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • ½ tsp cracked Pepper
  • 8-9 cloves Fresh Garlic
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • ½ tsp Paprika

1.    Preheat oven to 350F.
2.    Blend spices in the small cup of your Magic Bullet or a small Food Processor. If you are using entirely dry spices, you could blend in a Spice Grinder.  Alternatively, you could chop extremely fine and then grind in a mortar and pestel.  (I used the mortar and pt
3.    Rub spices evenly over entire roast (if you don’t quite have enough for an even coat over the whole roast, focus on the top of the roast, which should be the side with the fat cap).
4.    Optionally, you can wrap the roast in plastic wrap, place in your fridge, and let “marinate” for a few hours or even overnight.
5.    Place roast fat side up on a roasting pan.  Cook for 20 minutes per pound, until internal temperature reaches 160F.
6.    Remove roast from oven and let sit 5-10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

Apple, Sage and Chestnut Stuffing

This was a hit at our recent Thanksgiving dinner. David and I have made this before, but we wanted to be sure to include it here to remember. We didn’t use packaged stuffing bread mix, but we have in the past. It usually turns out better with half stuffing bread mix and dried bread.

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 cup thinly sliced celery, about 4 celery stalks
1 1/2 cups chopped onion, about 1 medium onion
4 cups chopped Fuji apples, about 3 apples (we used Braeburn apples)
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
10 cup (1-inch) cubes from assorted whole-grain bread, toasted until dry (we used white bread)
2 cups coarsely chopped cooked shelled chestnuts
2 cups cooked crumbled lean sweet Italian chicken sausage (optional)(We used regular sausage.
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 1/4 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth, heated
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 350º. Coat a 9- x 13-inch baking dish with 2 teaspoons olive oil.

2. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add celery and onion; sauté 5 minutes. Add apple, parsley, sage, thyme, and rosemary; sauté 3 minutes.

3. Combine apple mixture, bread, and next 5 ingredients (through egg) in a large bowl. Add hot broth; stir well. (Mixture should be moist but not soaked.) Spoon into prepared baking dish. Dot with butter. Cover with foil.

4. Bake at 350º for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 25 minutes or until top is golden brown. Let stand 15–20 minutes before serving.

Bacon Corn Hash

We got this from Smitten Kitchen and it proved to be a delicious breakfast. David is especially keen on the corn included in this recipe.

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Note: I used 3 small ears corn, which yielded 2 cups but wanted more corn. So, the recipe below reflects the suggestion that you use more than you’ll see in the photos. Raw potatoes cubes can take a bit of time to cook in a pan, about 20 minutes, but you can speed the process up microwaving or steaming the cubes for a couple minutes before adding them to the pan. I never bother, since I’m always trying to use as few dishes as possible.

Makes 4 to 5 cups

1/2 pound thick-cut bacon, cut into small dice
1 pound red potatoes, scrubbed clean and diced into 1/4- to 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 to 3 1/4 cups)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 medium-large ears corn, kernels cut from the cob (2 1/2 to 3 cups)
1 bundle scallions, thinly sliced

Toss bacon into a large skillet over medium heat, no need to heat the pan first. Let rest for a few minutes until it starts sizzling, then move the bits around so that they begin to brown evenly. Again, wait a couple minutes before shuffling the pieces around; you’re looking for them to get evenly golden and crisp. This should take about 10 minutes. Remove the bacon bits with a slotted spoon, leaving the drippings in the pan and transferring the bacon to paper towels to drain.

If your bacon is like mine, you’ll be left with a spectacular amount of fat behind. You’ll be tempted to drain it off. May I ask you not to? The potatoes that cook in this will be gorgeous and you will have a chance to remove this extra in a bit. It will mostly stay in the pan.

Heat the pan to medium/medium-high, making sure the bacon fat is nicely sizzly, then add your potatoes all at once in a single layer. Sprinkle them with 1/2 teaspoon table salt and several grinds of black pepper. Let them cook for a few minutes in one place and get a bit golden underneath before turning them over and moving them around. Repeat this process until the potatoes are browned on all sides; this takes about 20 minutes.

At this point, you can push aside the potatoes and pour or spoon off all but a small amount of the fat. I won’t tell you how much I was able to remove but it rhymes with shmoo to shmee shmablespoons. If you save it, you can use it to fry an egg in a bit.

Bump up the heat a little and add the corn to the skillet. Saute the potatoes and corn together until the corn gets a bit brown but stays fairly crisp, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the drained bacon, and stir the mixture together until it’s evenly warm, about 1 more minute. Remove the skillet from the burner and sprinkle the scallions (reserving a couple spoonfuls if you’d like to use them as fried egg garnish) over the hash. In two minutes, they should be warm and mellowed. Season with more salt or pepper to taste, if needed.

Add a fried egg to it: Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and swirl in one to two teaspoons bacon fat or butter. Crack one egg into the skillet and reduce heat to medium. I like to cover the skillet with a small lid at this point, as it seems to help the egg cook faster and more evenly. In one minute, you should have a perfect sunny-side-up egg. Season with salt and pepper, serve on top of a pile of bacon corn hash.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

About a month ago we made these rolls – and by we, I mean David. They were delicious. I want to make them again during the week of Thanksgiving. About half way through the recipe, there is a place to stop and start again the next day. These are really good, but they take a lot of time…

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Yield: 16 to 18 buns

Dough
6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, to be divided
1/2 cup (120 ml) whole milk, warmed (but not over 116 degrees)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (from 1 .25-ounce or 7 gram envelope yeast)
3 1/2 cups (440 grams) all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out
1/4 cup (packed) (50 grams) light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon (6 grams) table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2/3 cups (160 grams) pumpkin puree, canned or homemade
1 large egg
Oil for coating rising bowl

Filling
3/4 cup (packed, 145 grams) light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons (5 grams) ground cinnamon

Glaze
4 ounces (115 grams) cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons (30 ml) milk or buttermilk
2 cups (240 grams) powdered sugar, sifted
Few drops vanilla extract (optional)

Make your dough: Melt your butter, and hey, if you’re melting it in a little saucepan, you might as well brown it for extra flavor. Once the butter has melted, keep cooking it over medium heat for a few additional minutes. It will become hissy and sizzle a lot, then take on a nutty flavor as golden bits form at the bottom of the pot. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Combine your warmed milk and yeast in a small bowl and set aside. After five to seven minutes, it should be a bit foamy. If it’s not, you might have some bad yeast and should start again with a newer packet.

In the bottom of the bowl of an electric mixer combine flour, sugars, salt and spices. Add just 1/4 cup (or two-thirds of; leave the rest for assembly) of your melted/browned butter and stir to combine. Add yeast-milk mixture, pumpkin and egg and mix combined. Switch mixer to a dough hook and run it for 5 minutes on low.

Scrape mixture into a large oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for 1 hour in a draft-free place; it should just about double.

While it is rising, line the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans (8-inch round should work too, as does an 8-inch square) with parchment paper and butter the sides of the pan and the paper.

Assemble buns: Scoop dough onto a very well floured surface and flour the top of it well. With a rolling pin, roll the dough to an approximately 16×11-inch rectangle. Brush reserved melted/browned butter over dough. Stir together remaining filling ingredients and sprinkle mixture evenly over dough. Starting on a longer side, roll the dough into a tight spiral. It’s going to make a mess because the dough is crazy soft and some stuff spills off the ends; don’t sweat it. It will all be delicious in the end.

Here’s how to cut cinnamon rolls without squishing their pretty spirals: With a sharp serrated knife, using absolutely no pressure whatsoever (only the weight of the blade should land on the dough) gently saw your log with a back-forth motion into approximately 1-inch sections. When a soft dough like this is rolled, it tends to grow longer, which means that you’ll have the option to either make more buns (say, 18 instead of 16) or just cut them a little larger (in generous inches).

Divide buns between two prepared pans. You can sprinkle any sugar that fell off onto the counter over them. Cover each pan with plastic wrap and let rise for another 45 minutes.

If you’re doing this ahead of time, you can now put them in the fridge overnight. In the morning, leave them out for an hour to warm up and finish rising.

15 minutes before you’re ready to bake them, heat the oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, you can make the glaze. Beat your cream cheese until it is light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Drizzle in milk until you get the consistency you’re looking for, either thick enough to ice or thin enough to drizzle.

Finish your buns: Remove the plastic and bake buns for 25 minutes, until puffed and golden and the aroma brings all the boys to your yard is like a snickerdoodle. Transfer pans to wire cooling racks and drizzle/schmear with cream cheese glaze, then have at them.

Wild Mushroom-Barley Risotto

Serves 4

14 oz. wild mushrooms (such as cepes or porcini, trompettes de la mort, and chantrelles) (We used portobellos – so, maybe not that wild…)
3 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 Tbs. butter
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 onion, minced
1 c pearl barley
slash of dry white wine
1/4 c freshly grated Parmesan
2 tbs. mascarpone
handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves minced

Clean the mushrooms and thickly slice the large ones. Set aside while you start the risotto.

Brink the stock to a gentle simmer in a medium saucepan. Meanwhile, heat the butter and a tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan or sauté pan and add the onion and a little seasoning. Gently fry the onion, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften 4-6 minutes. Tip in the barley and stir well to coat. Toast the barley for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the splash of wine and let it bubble until reduced by half. Stir in two-thirds of the hot stock and simmer, stirring every once in a while, until the barley has absorbed almost all the liquid. Add more stock, a ladleful at a time, and simmer until the barley is just tender (you may not need all the stock). Stir in the Parmesan and mascarpone and season well to taste. Remove the pan from the heat and cover with a lid to keep warm.

Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan. Fry the mushrooms with some seasoning until they are lightly browned and any moisture released has evaporated, 3-4 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the risotto and stir well to mix.

Divide the risotto among warm plates and sprinkle with the minced parsley. Serve immediately.

David: I thought it was great! It came together pretty easily and I feel like it could go on the side with a lot of different things. A.

Carla: I also really enjoyed this risotto. It went together nicely. And who doesn’t love cheese? A.