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.