Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cookie Exchange

I'm back! Did everyone have a nice Thanksgiving? I hope you had lots and lots of yummy food. If you have any must-have recipes from the holiday, send them my way.

The Christmas season has just begun and I've already participated in two different cookie exchanges. So since you, faithful readers, may also be asked to participate in such an event, I am posting my 4 favorite cookie recipes with which you may impress all your friends.

The best part is that this week's Guest Chef is the lovely and always entertaining, Shauri Quinn. My very own sister. Author of the ever popular blog, Spin-ster Stories. Hopefully some of her readers made it over so they can see that in addition to her talents in film, photography, writing, and embarrassing moments, she makes a mean oatmeal chocolate chip cookie.

Oh, another talent. She is the best gift giver I know. A few Christmases ago she made me a fabulous cookbook called Delsa's Delights with all of my favorite recipes from my mom. A book which I consult weekly for this very blog. So without further ado... I give to you: Shauri Quinn!

Aunt Carolee's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies by Guest Chef Shauri Quinn

Golden brown on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside with gooey-melty chocolate chips and a little kick of salt. It's the ultimate answer to PMS: a little chocolate, a little salt. Everyone loves the classic chocolate chip cookie, but this one is over the moon, die and go to heaven delicious. Not to puffy, not too flat.

Truth be told, this cookie only recently entered my consciousness in the past couple of years. I made it once and it was so delicious that Lisa, my sister-in-law, insisted I make them on a weekly basis. Every time we got a craving, she told me that I had to make them because no one else could make them as good as I could. I totally bought it because I am a bit of an ego-maniac which she shamelessly targeted, but I just tasted them at her house recently and noted no difference whatsoever, so rest assured that if you give these babies a whirl they'll be equally delicious.

One important note - only bake them for 10 minutes and let them bake a bit on the pan out of the oven. This is something Lisa insisted up on and I eventually owned was a good decision (internally - never to her out loud). AND put the leftovers in the freezer and pull them out as you eat them with a 30 second zip in the microwave for a fresh just out of the oven taste.

1 c brown sugar
1 c sugar
1 c shortening
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 c flour
1 1/2 c oatmeal
1 c chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together sugar, brown sugar and shortening. Add the next 7 ingredients and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Bake 10 minutes.

Peanut Butter Candy Cookies

This recipe comes from some recipe booklet my mom bought in the check out line one day. I can't even tell you the name because the cover has been ripped off. What I can tell you is that they made my favorite cookies list.

3/4 c Chunky Peanut Butter
1/2 c butter, softened
1 c packed light brown sugar
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 egg
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
2 c quartered miniature peanut butter cups
1/3 c milk chocolate chips
1 small plastic bag

  1. Beat peanut butter and butter in large bowl of electric mixer at medium speed until well blended. Beat in sugar, baking powder and baking soda until well blended. Beat in egg and vanilla until well blended. Beat in flour at low speed just until mixed. Stir in peanut butter cups. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or until firm.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Form 1/4 cup dough into a 1/4-inch-thick disc.
  3. Place dough on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.
  4. Place chocolate in small resealable plastic freezer bag; seal bag. Microwave at MEDIUM 2 minutes, turning bag once. Knead bag until chocolate is smooth. Cut off tiny corner of bag; pipe chocolate onto cookies. Let stand until chocolate is set.

Chewy Cinnamon Cookies

My friend Andrea recommended the blog Kitchen Addiction to me and I'm loving it. This girl is hardcore. She comes up with her own recipes and I have been loving the ones I've tried. My favorite are her Chewy Cinnamon Cookies.

Peanut Blossoms

My mom would make these cookies every December along with her Christmas candy. Actually, knowing her, she was probably done with them in October. But in any event, she would put everything out in the freezer so it would be fresh for Christmas.

Enter Kristin. I would then sneak out to the freezer in the garage and sneak as many cookies and candy as possible before I estimated she would start to notice. And to this day, I prefer my Peanut Blossoms frozen.

1 3/4 c flour
1 t soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 c shortening
1/2 c peanut butter
1 egg
2 T milk
1 t vanilla
24 Hershey's Chocolate Kisses, unwrapped

Preheat oven at 375. Combine all ingredients except for candy. Mix at low speed until dough forms. Shape dough into 24 balls. Roll balls in sugar. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 minutes. Top each cookie immediately with candy kiss. Press down firmly so cookie cracks around edges.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Luncheon

Last Saturday I was in charge of feeding 90 people.  It went suprising well thanks to amazing friends who helped.  So for all the people asking for for the recipes, this post is for you.  You'll have to forgive me for the lack of pictures.  I forgot to take them in all the hurry to get the food out.

Even if you're not feeding an insane amount of people, this is a great menu to have on hand.  Specificly, I was thinking it would be perfect if you wanted to host a nice lunch for a friend who is celebrating some milestone in her life.    

Curried Butternut Squash Soup

This recipe comes from The Dexter Cider Mill Cookbook. One Valerie Oldham gave it to my mom as a thank you gift when they came and spent Thanksgiving with us. That's her on the left at my wedding, crying because she didn't win an award... which is another story for another time.

It was one of those marathon Family Game night weekends. In fact, I believe that may have been the year of the infamous "Do Re Me Fa So La Ti Do as interpretated by Trav, Trev, Ted, Britt and Ali" perfomance.

So you can see why I have warm memories of this soup. I should also mention that I am a butternut squash soup addict and of all the versions I've tried, this is still my favorite.

1 cup chopped onion
2 T olive oil or veg. oil
1 1/2 t curry powder
2 butternut squash (1 1/2 lbs each) peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 medium apples, peeled, chopped
1 can chicken broth
1 1/2 cup water
1 1/4 t salt
pepper to taste
1 1/2 cup half and half

Saute the onion in heated olive oil in a 4 quart saucepan over medium heat for 15 minutes or until tender. Stir in curry powder. Cook for 1 minute longer. Add the squash, apples, chicken broth, and water. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the squash is very tender, stirring frequetnly. Process the mixture in several portions in a food processor until smooth. Combine the portions in a saucepan. Add the half and half, and mix well. Add salt and pepper. Cook until heated through, stiring occasionally.

Honey Dijon Chicken with Apple Cranbery Relish

Lawry's Honey Dijon Marinade
12 chicken breasts (I'm guessing here)
fresh spinach
apple cranberry relish

Marinade chicken overnight in Lawry's Honey Dijon Marinade.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  Cover loosely with tin foil for the first twenty minutes, remove for the second twenty minutes.  Serve over a bed of fresh spinach and top with Apple Cranberry Relish.

Apple Cranberry Relish (from Carol Voigts via
8 red firm apples
juice of 1 lemon
1 can whole cranberry sauce
1/2 cup chooped candied giniger
1 T grated fresh ginger root
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup orange juice

Grate the unpeeled but cored apples in fine julienne style, and toss with the lemon juice.  Mash up the cranberry sauce slightly and combine that and the rest of the ingredients with the grated apples.  Refrigerate and allow the flavors to blend for at least 1 hour.

Baked Apple Pudding with Butter Sauce

This is one of those recipes that got lost in the shuffle.  My mom recently found it and starting making it again.  And I'm so glad she did.  It's a really moist cake that it very good in it's own right, but the butter sauce puts it over the top.  

1 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
4 cups ground or shredded apples
2 cups flour
2 t baking soda
1 t salt
2 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
2 t vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 pan and set aside.  Sift flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together, set aside.  Cream sugar and shortening together.  Add eggs and shredded apples, mix well.  Mix in dry ingedients, then stir in vanilla.  Pour into greased pan and bake for 45 minutes. 

Butter Sauce Ingredients
2 cups sugar
1 cup cream or evaporated milk
1 cup butter 
1 t vanilla

Butter Sauce Instructions
Simmer until dissolved.  Serve warm over pudding.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pie Fest

Oh people, you are going to love me after this week's post. Our guest chef Tara is gracing us with not one, but eight, yes EIGHT pie recipes. I mean, we have a Thanksgiving holiday to prepare for here. If you don't think your family needs eight pies for Thanksgiving, have a pie fest with your friends the next night and assign them each a pie from this post. You will not regret it. Well, you might, but not because it wasn't real real good.

Now let me tell you about Tara. We were roommates in college. Ah college, wasn't that fun? Yes, well, one of those crazy college nights Tara made Razzelberry Pie for a Pie Bake Off. And that's when I fell in love with her. She tore that Bake Off up. I mean, no other pie even compared to my girl Tara. And today, ladies and gentlemen, she is here to share that blessed recipe with you.

And just for kicks I will now mention a few other little known facts about TaraMitch and myself:
  1. I first discovered text messaging with her and Brandi. We thought it was the greatest thing ever. Then we got our bills. 10 cents a text. Ouch.
  2. She is from Danville. I am a Northern Californian magnet. Those people love me there. And they find me wherever I move. Can I get a witness Mary, Justin, Elizabeth, and the girl I met at bookclub last month?
  3. She is a co-creator (again with Brandi and myself) of acoustic night. All you BYU students out there having "acoustic night" at your house? You owe it all to us. No, really.
Okay, back to food. Here is a list of the many pies you have to chose from:

Award Winning Pie Crust by Guest Chef Tara

First of all, I have to give a shout out to the queen bee of pie making, Martha Edgren. She is my mom's best friend and is well known in our area for her pies as well as her cooking/baking all around. When I was 12 she taught me how to make pies at mutual, and I've been making our family's pies ever since.

So my family was over at the Edgren's house for Thanksgiving one year and my younger brother, Justin, was good friends with Martha's nephew, Ben. Boys being boys and these particular boys being about 15 years old, they got into the competitive mode. They were arguing over who could eat more at Thanksgiving. Well they ate. And ate. And ate. And then Justin puked. Then he filled up another plate of food and ate again, because hey, how can you not take advantage of a second chance of eating Thanksgiving dinner and pie?


2 c flour
1 t salt
2 pinches sugar
1 c Crisco (I prefer butter-flavored, but do what you must)
Scant 1/2 c cold water
1/4 t salt


Mix first three ingredients together, cut shortening into flour mixture (I use a pastry knife) until it is uniformly the texture of cornmeal (less is more here). Pour cold water, about 2 tablespoons at a time, evenly over all and mix quickly with a fork. Shape into a ball, then divide ball into two equal pieces. Cover one ball with a towel.

Using a floured, flat napped tea towel, roll the other ball flat, evenly rolling from the center outward with a rolling pin (nonstick or silicone works best here). Be careful to keep the circle even and round as you roll. Don’t be afraid to patch, either. You will have to occasionally add flour as you roll when the dough begins to stick. When the circle becomes approximately the size of your pie tin in diameter, fold in half, and place inside the pie plate. Unfold the pie dough and adjust to fit your pie plate. Patchwork is not frowned upon.

After you have filled the pie, repeat with the other ball of dough. Place the second crust over the filling and press the two crusts together at the edge of the pie plate, sealing them to each other. Using a sharp knife, cut off both crusts evenly, slightly larger than the pie plate. Tuck the excess under the edge of the plate and crimp the edge of the crusts with your fingers in a decorative pattern all of the way around the pie. Optional: Brush egg-white over the top for a nice glossy finish. Cook until lightly browned.

Razzleberry Pie by Guest Chef Tara

12 oz package frozen raspberries
16 oz package frozen boysenberries
1 1/2 c - 1 2/3 c sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
1/3 c flour
2 T butter
1 T vanilla

Fill the unbaked pie shell with berries. In a separate mixing bowl, combine flour and sugar. Pour over the berries. Cut butter in small chunks and place evenly over flour and berry mixture. Drizzle vanilla over the top of everything. Place second crust on top with the vents. Place in 375 degree oven for about an hour. Don't forget to put a baking sheet on the shelf underneath to avoid a messy cleanup. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Vanilla/Banana/Coconut/Peach Pie by Guest Chef Tara

3/4 c sugar
1/3 c flour
1/4 t salt
2 c milk
3 slightly beaten egg yolks
1 t vanilla
1 T butter

Optional Fillings:
3 sliced bananas
1 c toasted coconut
3 sliced sweetened fresh peaches (sweeten the peaches just before filling the shell as the sugars draws out the juices)

Combine sugar, flour, and salt. Slowly stir in milk. Cook and stir until the mixture bubbles. Then cook for two minutes. temper the egg yolks by stirring in a little of the hot mixture. Add several spoonfuls. Then add the yolks into the hot mixture in the pan. Cook an additional two minutes. Stir in butter and vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap with the wrap touching the top. cool completely. Pour into pie shell after filling the shell with desired filling.

Chocolate Pie by Guest Chef Tara

1 c sugar
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/3 c flour
1/4 t salt
2 c milk
3 slightly beaten egg yolks
1 t vanilla
1 T butter

Combine sugar, flour, and salt. Add chocolate. Slowly stir in milk. Cook and stir until the mixture bubbles. Then cook for two minutes. Temper the egg yolks by stirring in a little of the hot mixture. Add several spoonfuls. Then add the yolks into the hot mixture in the pan. Cook an additional two minutes. Stir in butter and vanilla. Strain through a large strainer if you have lumps. Cover with plastic wrap with the wrap touching the top. Cool completely. Pour into pie shell.

German Chocolate Pie by Guest Chef Tara

1 c miniature chocolate chips
1/2 c toasted almonds or pecans
1/2 c toasted coconut
chocolate pie filling
1 pint sweetened whipped cream
extra toasted coconut
extra toasted almonds or pecans
milk chocolate shavings from a chocolate bar

Make chocolate pie filling. Fill pie crust with chips, nuts and coconut. Pour chocolate filling over. Spread whipped cream on top of chocolate filling. Sprinkle with coconut, nuts and milk chocolate shavings.

Pecan Pie by Guest Chef Tara

1/3 c butter, melted
3/4 c sugar
dash of salt
1 1/2 c toasted pecans
1 c light corn syrup
3 eggs
1/2 t vanilla

Toast pecans on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix everything but the pecans together in a mixer. beat well. Then add toasted pecans. Pour into un-baked pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until the mixture doesn't wiggle. You should be able to insert a knife and have it come out clean.

Strawberry Pie by Guest Chef Tara

8 oz cream cheese
1 c powdered sugar
sliced ripe strawberries
1 pint whipped cream

Mix cream cheese and powdered sugar. Spread in the bottom and on the sides of a baked pie crust. Fill with sliced ripe strawberries. Cover with whipped cream.

Apple Pie by Guest Chef Tara

8 c Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced thinly
3 T butter
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 c sugar
1 1/2 t cinnamon

Fill unbaked pie crust with apples. Mix cinnamon and sugar together and pour over apples. Top with butter, cut into chunks. Cover with a second crust of pie dough. Brush top with evaporated milk or egg white then sprinkle with a little cinnamon sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately one hour. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

Pumpkin Pie by Guest Chef Tara

1 small can pumpkin
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c granulate sugar
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t cloves
1/4 t ginger
2 eggs
1 c milk

Mix all together and pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 and cook for an additional 40-50 minutes.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Amy's Delight

I've mentioned before that this blog is about tried and true recipes.  And if I find a new delicious recipe, I must make it twice to make sure it's as good as I thought the first time.  This week I was all ready to post a menu around a main dish I loved growing up, but when I made it I turned to my husband and said, "Is this as good as I've always thought it was?"  I could see the relief on his face as he was finally able to speak his truth as he exclaimed, "No!"  

Luckily for my faithful readers, I am ahead of the game and have some recipes and photos ready for just such an occasion as this.  And so I bring you: Amy's Delight.  (Remember Amy?  Of Brown Sugar Pork Loin fame?)


Melinda's Spinach Salad

From the lovely Melinda Cameron.  My mom and Melinda have been friends since college, maybe just so that one day I would get the recipe for this salad.

1 large bag baby spinach
1 bag shredded carrots
1 bag shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 stick butter
1-2 oz sesame seed
1 bag sliced almonds
Oriental flavor Ramen Noodles

Sweet Vidalia Onion Dressing

Saute butter, sesame seeds, almonds, Ramen Noodle and seasoning packet until brown.  Cool.  Mix bag of spinach, carrots and cheese.  Add sauteed topping, then toss with dressing.  

Chicken Florentine (Amy's Delight)

Abram was so taken with this dish he named it Amy's Delight in her honor.

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 T Italian dressing seasoning
1/4 c butter
1/2 c half-and-half
3 t minced garlic
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 T lemon juice
1 big bag of fresh spinach (sauteed)
1 can cream of mushroom soup (I use half chicken, half mushroom - if you double the recipe you can also use cream of roasted garlic)
1 c shredded mozzarella cheese
4 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced (sauteed)
2/3 c bacon, crumbled

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place the chicken breast halves on a baking sheet; bake 20 to 30 minutes, until no longer pink and juices run clear (sometimes I marinade the chicken in Italian dressing and then grill it outside).  Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees.  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Stirring constantly, mix in the garlic, lemon juice, cream of mushroom soup, Italian seasoning, half-and-half, and Parmesan cheese.  Arrange the spinach over the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.  Cover the spinach with the mushrooms.  Pour half the mixture from the saucepan over the mushrooms.  Arrange chicken breasts in the dish, and cover with the remaining sauce mixture.  Sprinkle with bacon bits, and top with mozzarella cheese.  Bake 20 to 25 minutes in the 400 degree oven, until bubbly and lightly browned.  Serve over pasta.   

Lemon Asparagus with Pine Nuts

This is sort of a fancy side dish, but I'm telling you, little kids love it.  Weird, I know, but I've had several kids shock us by demanding seconds.  What is better than a dish everyone loves?  Not much.  

1 lb. fresh asparagus
3 T pine nuts
1/4 c olive oil
1 T lemon juice
1 clove garlic
1/2 t salt
1/2 t dried basil
1/2 t dried oregano
freshly ground pepper, to taste

Snap off tough ends of asparagus.  Remove scales from stalks with knife or vegetable peeler, if desired.  Place spears in a steaming rack over boiling water; cover and steam 4-5 minutes or until spears are crisp-tender.  Transfer to a serving platter.  Saute pine nuts in a small skillet over medium heat 2-3 minutes, until browned.  Set aside.  Combine olive oil and remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan; stir with a wire whisk to blend.  Cook over medium heat 2-3 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring constantly.  Pour over asparagus.  Sprinkle with pine nuts.  Let stand to room temperature before serving.  

Dessert Crepes

Abram cringes every time I say I'm going to make crepes because he knows I'm about to bust out my crepe maker.  Having spent 2 years in France, he is a bit of a crepe snob and has let me know in no uncertain terms that my crepes are not real crepes.  So maybe we can convince him to be a guest chef and give us a real lesson, but in the mean time, I am fairly confident that you will love this recipe: 

Wrap a crepe around two scoops of mint chocolate chip and top with hot fudge sauce.   If you are my mom, whip up some cream to top it all off. 

All Purpose Crepe Recipe
3 eggs
1/4 t salt
2 c flour
2 c milk
1/4 c melted butter

Combine ingredients and blend for about 1 minute.  Refrigerate batter at least 1 hour.  You may want to add 1 or 2 T of milk or water if you like thinner crepes.  Makes about 30 crepes.

Hot Fudge Sauce

6 T butter
2 c confectioners sugar
2/3 c Baker's Cocoa
1 c evaporated milk

Melt butter in saucepan.  Add sugar and cocoa and mix well.  Add milk gradually, beating until smooth.  Bring to boil over medium heat.  Cook and stir about 5 minutes, or until sauce is thick.  Serve hot.  Makes 2 cups.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Is it weird that I'm already planning on how to use my leftovers from Christmas?  Well, I am.  We always have a ham for dinner and this is what I'm going to make the day after.  But you can make it tomorrow if you like.  

The key to being able to throw a panini together is having a tasty dressing on hand.  One of my favorites is Cranberry Chutney from Honey Baked Ham.  Unfortunately, it's only available during the Christmas and Easter, so  getcher cranberry chutney this holiday season folks.

This Honeycup mustard is also a favorite:

For dessert there's a recipe from this week's guest chef, Melanie Gunnell from the ever popular My Kitchen Cafe.  She probably doesn't need much of an introduction since I've spied a link to her blog on dozens of your own blogs, but she is a super mom with 3 little boys and one more on the way.  Isn't there a special place in heaven for moms with all boys?  If there is, she's got her spot reserved.  Oh, and did I mention she's a baking genius?  Check out her Caramel Apple Pie below.  


Spinach Salad with Raspberry Maple Vinaigrette

This dressing comes from the Common Grill Cookbook, and I swiped the salad from their restaurant.  The recipe makes two cups of dressing, so I usually make half.  

Spinach leaves
Dried cherries
Pine nuts
Shredded parmesan cheese

Dressing Ingredients
1/2 c olive oil
1/2 c peanut oil
1/2 c raspberry vinegar
1/2 c real maple syrup
1 T dijon mustard
1 T tarragon leaves, crumbled
1 t salt

Dressing Instructions
Mix all ingredients in a bowl until well combined. 

Ham and Cranberry Panini

This is an easy one folks.  You just need 4 things:
  1. Sourdough bread
  2. Ham (deli or leftover holiday ham)
  3. Gruyere or swiss
  4. Cranberry Chutney from Honey Baked Ham Company

Turkey and Ham Panini with a Bite

I love honeycup mustard.  It's sweet and spicy at the same time and really spices up a regular old sandwich.  

Rye bread, (or sourdough always works too - as pictured above)
Honeycup Mustard

Carmel Apple Pie by Guest Chef Melanie Gunnell

This pie - oh my, it is delicious.  Probably my favorite apple pie EVER, so I'm glad to pass on the recipe.  The tartness of the apples (I used Granny Smith) is perfectly complemented by the sweet caramel.  You can use any pie crust, but I'm including a recipe below that doesn't require chilling the dough and has a little more sugar in it so it tastes a little bit like a cookie crust.   Enjoy!

Filling Ingredients
6 c apples (Jonathan or Granny Smith)
1/2 c packed light brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t salt
1 T lemon juice
1 t vanilla
4 T heavy cream
4 T butter

Filling Instructions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Peel and slice apples.  Sprinkle with lemon juice.  Combine dry ingredients in large bowl and add apples.  Toss to mix.  Add vanilla and cream.  Melt butter in heavy skillet.  Add apple mixture and cook approximately 8 minutes, to soften apples.  Turn into pie shell.

Streusel Topping Ingredients
1/2 c all-purpose flour
3 T sugar
1 T butter
2 toffee bars or 3 oz chocolate-covered peanut or pecan brittle, crushed

Streusel Topping Instructions
Combine the flour and sugar.  Mix in butter with fork until coarse crumbs.  Stir in the crushed toffee bars.  Sprinkle over pie.  Add top crust.  Seal, flute edge and vent top.  Brush with beaten egg white and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 30-45 minutes longer, until nicely browned (I covered the edges of my pie about 15 minutes into the reduced temperature baking).   

Pie Crust Ingredients (from Carolyn Weil)
8 oz (1 cup) cold unsalted butter
9 oz (2 cups) all-purpose unbleached flour
1/4 c sugar
1/4 t salt
1/4 cup cold water

Pie Crust Instructions
Cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes.  Dump the flour, sugar, and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl, if mixing the dough by hand).  Mix for a second or two to blend the dry ingredients.  Add the butter and then, running the mixer on low (or by hand with two knives or a pastry cutter), work the mixture until it's crumbly and the largest pieces of butter are no bigger than a pea (about 1/4 inch).  

The butter should remain cold and firm.  To test it, pick up some butter and pinch it between the thumbs and forefingers of both hands to form a little cube.  if the butter holds together as a cube and your fingers are not greasy, then the butter is still cold enough.  If your fingers look greasy, put the bowl in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up the butter before adding the water.

As the mixer turns on low (or tossing with a fork if mixing by hand), sprinkle the cold water evenly overthe flour and butter. Work the dough until it just pulls together as a shaggy mass.

It may feel strange not to, but don't chill the dough yet. Shape it into two disks and start rolling; you can chill the dough once the pie is assembled. This method is unconventional, but author Carolyn Weil says that ultimately you get the most tender result because you don't have to struggle with a disk of chilled, hard dough.

Cut the dough in half and pat each piece into a thick flattened ball. Lightly flour your work surface and tap one of the dough balls down with four or five taps of the rolling pan. Begin rolling from the center of your dough outward. Stop the pressure 1/4 inch from the edge of the dough. Lift the dough and turn by aquarter and repeat the rolling until the dough is at least 12 inches in diameter. Be sure to re-flour the work surface if your dough is sticking.

Feel free to flour the surface, and slide that dough around. Having your dough stick is worse than using too much flour, most of which can be brushed off after rolling anyway.  After every few strokes of the rolling pin, free the dough from the surface by sliding and turning it.

Using a pot lid or a circle of cardboard as a template, trim the dough to form a 12-inch round (this should give you a 1-1/2-inch margin all around your 9-inch pie pan). Fold the dough in half, slide the outspread fingers of both hands under the dough, and gently lift it and transfer it to the pie pan. Unfold and ease the dough round in to the bottom of the pie pan without stretching it.

Roll out the other doughball and cut a second 12-inch round to be used as the top crust.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dinner and Cake

Let's get right to the exciting stuff.  This week's guest chef is, drumroll please.... Amy Barker!  Entertainer extraordinaire, that's what I call her.  If you've never been to a party at Amy's house, you are missing out.  The girl knows how to give out party favors.  And she also knows how to make the best lemon cake I have ever tasted in my life. 

Amy and I didn't realize we were kindred spirits, or at least that we find one another to be real real funny, until entirely too late.  The next thing I knew I was moving to Michigan.  Luckily her blog keeps me laughing and feeling up to date. 

There's not much to say about the rest of the menu.  I highly recommend all of it, but it's really just here so there's a reason to post The Lemon Cake.  Yes, The Lemon Cake.  


Autumn Pear Salad

Yet another recipe from my trusty Favorites: A Collection of Favorite Ivory Family Recipes cookbook.  Thank goodness for the Ivorys, whoever they are.  I had a friend recommend this cookbook to me.  She swore that every recipe you tried would become a regular.  I took her word for it and then as I was looking through, I found at least 3 or 4 recipes that my mom already had.  I bet there are only 2 or 3 degrees of seperation between my mom and the Ivorys. We're practically related. 
Salad Ingredients
1 head green leaf lettuce, washed and torn
1/2 head red learf lettuce, washed and torn
2 ripe pears, thinly sliced
2 oz Asiago cheese, shaved with vegetable peeler
1/2 cup unsalted cashews, toasted

Salad Instructions 
In salad bowl, combine greens and 3/4 of the dressing.  Arrange pears, cheese and cashews over top and drizzle on remaining dressing. 

Dressing Ingredients
5 T olive oil
3 T Balsamic vinegar
1 t honey
1 t Dijon mustard
1 T chopped green onions
salt and fresh ground pepper

Dressing Instructions
Mix dressing ingredients in a jar, shake well and refrigerate

Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Roll Ups

You can head over to Sugar and Spice for this recipe.  I'm using it for a Sunday Dinner menu, but it is a perfect weeknight dinner.  And by perfect weeknight dinner I mean E-A-S-Y.  And tasty, of course.  

I get excited about these roll ups for two reasons.  First, because it means I'll be making Lemon Ricotta Pancakes (recipe to come soon) sometime that week with the leftover ricotta.  And second, because of the sun-dried tomatoes.  Sun-dried tomatoes turn my frown upside down.  They make everything sunshiny and bright.  

Crash Hot Potatoes

This photo and recipe come from The Pioneer Woman Cooks.  If you haven't jumped on that bandwagon yet, it's about time you do.  She has the easiest, tastiest, most fattening recipes around.  Love her.  

Veggie Potato Topper

This recipe makes a great side dish, but you can also serve it over baked or roasted (I prefer roasted) potatoes and make a meal out of it.  I would only add shredded cheddar (as pictured above) if you are going to serve it with potatoes.  

1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced
1/2 head cauliflower, cut in bit sized pieces
1 small onion, diced
1 bunch broccoli, cut in bite sized pieces
1 med. zucchini, cut in bit sized pieces
1 c sour cream
3 oz cream cheese
2 T butter

Saute onions and mushrooms in butter. Steam the cauliflower, broccoli, and zucchini for about 2 minutes (You want these veggies to stay crisp).  Mix sour cream and cream cheese in a saucepan over low heat.  Stir until smooth.  Add all veggies to cheese sauce and warm through. 

The Lemon Cake by Guest Chef Amy Barker

I laugh that Kristin asked me to be a "guest chef" on the cooking blog since neither I, nor anyone I know would describe me as a chef.  The only thing I can make is lemon cake.  This cake is good.  It wins friends.  It brings people together.  it makes those who don't like lemon cake like lemon cake.  

The cake recipe is from my friend Nancy and the frosting is from the Magnolia Bakery in New York.  Enjoy!

Cake Ingredients
1 package lemon cake mix
1 c sour cream (8 oz)
3/4 c water
3/4 c oil
4 eggs
1 small package lemon instant pudding

Cake Instructions
Mix dry ingredients.  Add wet ingredients.  Mix with electric mixer on medium/high for about two minutes.

Pour into a greased 9x11 pan or two round pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

You can also make cupcakes and bake them at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  The cupcakes will fall after they come out of the oven, but this is normal.  Just fill up the indentation with more frosting.  

Frosting Ingredients
1 c (2 sticks) butter, very soft
8 c powdered sugar
1/2 c fresh lemon juice
1 t grated lemon zest

Frosting Instructions
Place the butter in a large mixing bowl.  Add 4 cups of sugar, then the juice and the zest.  Beat until smooth and creamy.  Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, until icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency (I add about 6 cups total).  If desired, add a few drops of yellow food coloring and mix thoroughly.  Use and store at room temperature.  (Don't refrigerate and it will last in a Tuperware for about three days.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I could not be more excited for this week's post.  Not only to share some delicious recipes, but because for the first time ever, You Got Served is having a Guest Chef!  

I decided a while ago that dessert just isn't my thing.  Let me clarify, eating dessert is definitely my thing, making dessert - not so much.  So I have been recruiting Guest Chefs to help make my menus complete.  

This week's Guest Chef is Janie Ward.  We both attended a party when I first moved back to Michigan and she brought this dish.  I decided then and there that we must be friends.  Luckily, she didn't mind, and look at us now.  The magic of food.  

Okay, back to business.  This week I decided to share a Halloween menu, which to me, means chili.  Halloween is such a crazy busy day and night, chili is the perfect dinner to serve.  So here are my two very favorite chili recipes (have you ever used avocado as a garnish for your chili?  Do it.  Do it right now.) and Janie's pumpkin cake for dessert.  


Texas Red Chili

Mi amiga Heather Bassett gave me this recipe.  One day last fall I knew I wanted to make chili, but didn't have a tried and true recipe.  I thought, "who can I trust to have a good recipe?" Heather was the first person I called, and sure enough, that night I was in chili heaven. 

As side note, I've never found ground ancho or pasilla chili peppers. I found them dried in the produce section and intended to find a mortar and pestle when my personal witch doctor, Mary Hales, let me know that any herbalist worth her salt had a coffee bean grinder.  So she hooked me up.  It only took a few minutes and voila: ground ancho/pasilla chili pepper.  

3 1/2 - 4 lbs. ground beef
1 TB corn oil
1/4 lb bacon diced
3 c chopped onion
2c green pepper
2 medium jalepenos
2 heaping TB garlic
4 cups beef broth or stock
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
Kosher Salt (to taste)
Black pepper (to taste)
2 TB ground ancho chili pepper
1 TB ground pasilla chili pepper
2 TB cumin
1 1/2 TB brown sugar
1 TB dried oregan
Juice of half a lime
2 TB of chopped cilantro

1. Brown the meat. Drain and set aside.
2. Cook bacon in corn oil. Take bacon out but leave the grease in the pan.
3. Sautee onions and garlic in grease. Then add everything but oregano, lime juice and cilantro.
4. Simmer for 1 1/2 - 2 hours
5. Add oregano, lime juice and cilantro right at the end.
6. Add Red Hot if you want to spice it up.

Super Bowl Chili

You can find this recipe at Nook and Pantry.  It is spiiiiiicyyyyyyy.  And delicious.  (But if you don't like the spice, don't let it scare you away.  Just add less chili powder). 

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting by Guest Chef Janie

This deliciously moist pumpkin cake topped with cream cheese frosting adds up to one irresistible autumn treat!  This cake has become a fall tradition, and after making it for the first time--this season  I was once again showered with rave reviews from my family.  I first tried this cake at a party at my sister's house at least ten years ago, I knew I had to have the recipe and here it is for you!

Cake Ingredients
1 can pumpkin or cook your own (15 oz)
2 cups sugar
1 cup oil
4 eggs beaten
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. nutmeg
Cake Instructions
Cream together: pumpkin, sugar, oil, eggs.  In a seperate bowl combine dry ingredients and mix thouroughly.  Then add to the pumpkin mixture, mix well.  Grease a 9x13 pan or two round cake pans.  Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.  Let cool before frosting.  Garnish wtih nutmeg.
Frosting Ingredients
2  packages cream cheese (8 oz), room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
5 T. butter (optional)
2-3 cups powdered sugar

Frosting Instructions
Mix all ingredients until combined.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Book Club

This week I'm posting a great menu for hosting book club.  Or Bunko.  Or any other excuse you have for getting together with your girlfriends.

So in honor of book club and girlfriends, I'm dedicating this menu to Andrea Strong.  Or "Fun Andrea" as I like to refer to her to Abram.  

Andrea and I were in the same book club in Virginia.  I was still fairly new and the night I hosted at my house only three people showed up.  I know, so sad.  Well, it turned out to be the best book club night ever because Andrea and I became friends.  Fast forward to more than a year later when I was feeling like "The Opposite of Fun Kristin" and Andrea cured me of my ails by taking me out three nights in a row until I had fun oozing out of me.  

So here's to book club and girlfriends and staying out way too late.


Artichoke-Prosciutto Gratin

Don't plan on eating more than a few.  These are RICH and delicious and must be served with crusty bread.  Zingerman's Paesano bread is a good choice. 

This recipe come from Bon Appetit, via Epicurious.

2 14-oz cans artichoke hearts, drained, quartered
6 oz thinly sliced prosciutto
1 c whipping cream
1 1/2 c crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1/2 c pine nuts (about 2 oz), toasted
1/4 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 t chopped fresh sage

Pat quartered artichoke hearts dry with paper towels.  Cut each prosciutto slice crosswise in half.  Wrap each artichoke heart quarter in halved prosciutto slice.  Place wrapped artichoke hearts in single layer in 13x9x2 inch glass baking dish.  Pour cream over.  Sprinkle with Gorgonzola, pine nuts, Parmesan, and sage.  Bake until gratin is bubbling and sauce thickens, about 25 minutes.  Serve warm with crusty bread for dipping.

Sun Dried Tomato Quiche

I loved when we hung our with our friends the Davises in Virginia, because Jessica always brought the most mouth watering dishes.  Roasted Red Pepper Enchiladas, Squash Tart, Sun Dried Tomato Quiche... almost thou persuadest me to be vegetarian Jessica.  Almost.  

I specifically made this quiche last week so that I could take a picture for today's post, and of course, I forgot.  But I'm sure it won't be too long before I make it again.  I'm telling you, if you're gonna make a quiche, this is the quiche to make.  

3/4 c Swiss cheese, shredded
3/4 c Cheddar cheese, shredded
2/3 c chopped sun dried tomatoes (packed in oil)
2 T finely diced onion
1 t Italian seasonings
1/2 t salt
4 eggs
1 c half and half
3/4 c milk
1 T flour
one 9-inch pie crust (this recipe makes enough for two 8-inch crusts too)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and then bake pie crust for 5 minutes.  in a large bowl, whisk all ingredients together.  Pour mixture into the crust.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean.  Slice into wedges and serve.

Cream Puffs

When we were little our family was friends with an older couple, the Georges.  Going over to their house was a special treat because they always had cream puffs.  I remember when I realized that my mom could make them too and thinking, "if you could make cream puffs, why wouldn't you make them every day of your life?"  

Of course, I had a similar thought when my brother got his license and I didn't understand why he wouldn't go to McDonald's every single day if he could get there himself, so don't listen to me.  Listen to the cream puff recipe...

1 c water
1/2 c butter
1 c sifted flour
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Heat water and butter to boiling point in saucepan.  Stir in flour.  Turn heat to low and stir constantly until mixture leaves the pan and forms into a ball (about one minute).  Remove from heat.  Cool.

Beat eggs into the mixture one at a time.  Continue to beat mixture until smooth and velvety. Spoon onto ungreased baking sheet.  Bake until dry (45-50 minutes).  Allow to cool slowly.

Cut off the top third of each cream puff.  Fill with Vanilla Cream Pie Filling.  Replace the top and spread chocolate frosting over the top of the cream puff.

Vanilla Cream Pie Filling

This is not the last you will hear of Vanilla Cream Pie Filling.  She will also make future appearances in Boston Creme Pie (actually a cake), Chocolate Pie, and Coconut Pie.  I love her.  

2/3 c sugar
1/2 t salt
2 1/2 T cornstarch
1 T flour
1 1/2 c milk
1 1/2 c evaporated milk
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 T butter
1/2 t vanilla

Mix sugar, salt, cornstarch and flour in a saucepan.  Gradually stir in milk and evaporated milk.  Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and boils.  Boil 1 minute.  Remove from heat.

Slowly stir half the mixture into egg yolks.  Then blend into hot mixture in the saucepan.  Boil one minute more, stirring constantly.  remove from heat. 

Blend in butter and vanilla.  Cool, stirring occasionally.

"Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting

No secret here ladies and gentlemen.  My chocolate frosting recipe comes right off the back of the Hershey's Cocoa can.  And yes, "Perfectly Chocolate" is their confident branding, not mine.  

1/2 c butter
2.3 c Hershey's Cocoa
3 c powdered sugar
1/3 c milk
1 t vanilla extract

Melt butter.  Stir in cocoa.

Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating on medium speed to spreading consistency.  Add more milk, if needed.  Stir in vanilla.  About 2 cups.