Friday, July 12, 2013

Turkey Pot Pie + Update

After nearly a week of regular blogging, I fear I will again take another hiatus. Hopefully not too long of one, but I make no promises.

We're moving again. This time from Northern Virginia to Columbia, Maryland. I think this is my fourth move in three years. I can't really blame military life as my move from Chicago to Hawaii in 2010 was a bit overdue. For those of you who don't know, my husband and I spent the first nearly four years of our marriage living hundreds to thousands of miles away from one another. I was working in Baltimore when he was stationed in North Carolina. Then I moved to Chicago and he was transferred to Hawaii where he frolicked on the beach when he wasn't deployed to Iraq, then Iraq again, and finally Afghanistan for 6-7 months at a time. Fortunately, my work in Chicago allowed me visit him roughly once every other month or so and I didn't go quite too nuts during these numerous deployments. Naturally, once we decided that enough was enough and I relocated to Hawaii, took the bar there, and found a great job, boom, he was transferred to Northern Virginia. To be fair, move number 3 wasn't the military's fault. Last spring we moved on our own to a larger apartment in preparation for the arrival of our son.

In truth, we're excited about this move. Our new home will be an actual house, but not too much house for our first non-apartment experience. There's no basement and the yard looks manageable (fingers crossed that I'm right on that), but we will be getting a living room, a family room, and a separate dining area. The trade-off is the loss of an open-concept design, a closed-off kitchen (but with windows!) and smaller bedrooms. Assuming I remember, I'll try to post pictures in the coming weeks.

Okay, that's enough rambling. Onto today's post. It's not really new as I made this recipe with chicken last year. However, I did take new pictures so it's worth a separate entry.

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Turkey Pot Pie

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1/4 cup ice water

2 cups cooked turkey
3-4 med carrots, diced
1 med onion, diced
1/2 c corn
1/2-1 c peas and or green beans, if desired
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 3/4 cups of chicken broth
1 cup milk

1 egg, mixed with 1 tsp water

To Make Crust
Using a pastry cutter or in the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt.

Cut in or pulse butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add in ice water a tablespoon at a time until the dough holds together without being wet or sticky.

Turn out dough onto a floured work surface. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

To Make Filling
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Remove dough from fridge.

In a saucepan, melt butter and saute onions and carrots until onions are soft and translucent. Whisk in flour, salt, pepper, and spices and cook for a minute. Slowly stir in 1 3/4 cup chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thickened. Gently stir in turkey, corn green beans, and peas. Cook for 2-3 minutes to bring everything to the same temperature.

Remove from heat and cool.

Divide dough in half (if you haven't done so already) and roll into a large circle. Line the base of your pie pan. Roll the other half into a circle large enough to cover the pie. If possible, put both in the freezer for about 10 minutes. Spoon filling into pie. Cover with remaining dough and crimp edges with a fork (or fancy pie tool) to seal. Cut several slits to vent and brush with egg wash. Bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown.

Serves 4

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cherry Mini Pies

It's summer time and cherries are in season! No, we haven't been cherry-picking this year. Somehow berry picking in the summer turns out to be more difficult to schedule than apple picking in the fall. In June, the weekend we had planned to go turned out to the be the off weekend between strawberries and cherries. Since then the unbearable heat has made being outside for any length of time not ideal. Still, summer means fruit pies and I just so happened to have some frozen sweet cherries in the freezer.

A brief note on sweet cherries. Most pie recipes tend to call for sour cherries, but all I had were sweet. Fortunately, I stumbled upon this recipe for cherry pie filling from My Baking Addiction and these turned out great. A healthy dose of lemon juice provided some needed tartness. In general, I imagine you could just use less sugar in whatever pie filling recipe you use if it calls for sour cherries.

I also used a lighter crust than my usual pie crust with tasty results.

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Cherry Mini Pies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup ice water

5 to 6 cups fresh pitted cherries, about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds (or 16 oz frozen)
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2/3 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 large egg, whisked with 1 teaspoon water
1 tablespoon raw sugar

To make dough whisk together flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter and cut in with a pastry cutter until coarse crumbs form. Add in water gradually until dough comes together, adding more water if too dry. (Alternatively, you can do this in a food processor.) Make a flat disc, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours.

To make filling, in a saucepan over medium heat, combine cherries, water, lemon juice, sugar and cornstarch. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes until thickened. Stir in extract. Cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll dough to 1/8"-1/4" thickness. Cut or slice into pieces for 6-10 pies. (My pies were about 3 x 2" and I got 10). Spoon a tablespoon or so of filling into each pie, add top layer of dough, and crimp shut. Place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Make a couple slits in each pie to allow steam to escape. Brush with egg wash and dust with sugar. Tip: Freeze pies for about 10 minutes before baking for flakier crusts.

Bake pies for 35 minutes until golden brown and filling is bubbly.

Makes 6-10 pies

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Note: I didn't bake this many pies on one tray, only put them there for the photo. You should space your pies a couple inches apart as they may ooze filling during baking.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter

My husband loves, loves, loves raviolis. Even certain veggies that he does care for (e.g. mushrooms), he'll eat in raviolis. Hmmm, I wonder if I could put roasted beets in them? Anyway, I've been making this recipe for several years now, but just realized that it's never made it to my blog. It's an Emeril recipe from over a decade ago and I pretty much follow it precisely except to omit a suggested pinch of nutmeg and substitute 1/2 and 1/2 for the heavy cream. The recipe calls for shallots, but if I'm out, I'll often use a bit of onions and garlic.

When I first started making this recipe, I used premade wonton wrappers for the ravioli dough. Then two years ago we moved to Virginia and the ones from the local grocery store tasted weird. Ever since, I've always made my own dough using another Food Network recipe. I have a set of pasta rollers for my KitchenAide mixer, but when I'm feeling too lazy to haul out the entire apparatus, I just use a rolling pin and we eat a little thicker pasta.

A couple ways I speed this recipe along is to roast the butternut squash ahead of time and keep it in my freezer. Actually, for a good-sized squash, say 2-3 lbs, this recipe only requires half. So I might roast the squash, use half the same day, and freeze the rest to make the dish in another month. I'll also make the filling earlier in the day and chill it in the fridge till I'm ready to make the raviolis in the evening. That only shaves about 10 minutes of time, but eliminates an extra pan and chopping board. Pasta dough can also be frozen.

Wow, that's a bit more blathering about a dish than I usually do. On to the actual recipes!

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As you can see, the pasta's a little thick because I used my rolling pin last night, but I did punch cute little ravioli shapes for you, which I wouldn't ordinarily do.

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter

Ravioli Dough
2 c all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 TBS olive, plus a drizzle for later

1/2 c + 1 TBS butter, divided
3 TBS minced shallots
1 c roasted butternut squash, mashed
3 TBS half and half
3 TBS grated Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus 2 more for serving, if desired
salt, pepper
12 fresh sage leaves (or more), rinsed and dried

To make the dough using an electric mixer, please see the original recipe for directions. My method is as follows: Mix the flour and salt together and dump onto a clean counter top, forming a mound. (You can use a large bowl too, but you'll dump it later for kneading so I just use my counter.) Make a well in the center (think volcano) and add all the eggs and 1 TBS of olive oil. Whisk the wet items together. Carefully draw the flour from the base of the volcano towards the well and incorporate the mixture together. In a couple of minutes, all of the flour should be incorporated and it shouldn't be too sticky. Keep kneading and folding the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. (Note: if your dough isn't coming together, add a drizzle of water or more olive oil. Conversely, if it's too wet, you can add a little more flour.) Drizzle your ball of dough with olive oil and wrap in plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 30 minutes while you make your filling.

To make filling, melt butter in large saute pan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the squash and cook until the mixture is slightly dry, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the half and half and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 3 tablespoons cheese. Season again with salt and pepper, if necessary. Cool completely.

To assemble your raviolis, roll dough out to 1/8" thinness or less. (Original recipe states 1/4" but it's simply your personal preference so long as the dough isn't so thin that it won't hold your filling). Cut into your preferred size of ravioli. The picture shows 1.5" squares, though I tend to make mine about 2 x 2" or larger when I'm free-handing cutting them. Drop about 2-3 teaspoons of filling per ravioli. Lightly wet the edges to seal the ravioli. Place on a sheet covered in parchment paper and freeze for 5-10 minutes. (This step helps them hold together).

Cook raviolis in boiling salted water for about 3 minutes until they float to the top and are pale in color. Drain and keep warm.

To make the brown butter sauce, melt 1/2 cup of butter in a saucepan. Add sage leaves and continue cooking until butter begins to brown. Remove from the heat.

Spoon butter sauce over raviolis and sprinkle with cheese for serving.

Serves 4

Monday, July 8, 2013

Monday Breakfast

Good Monday morning! Finally, it's a decent temperature outside--mid-70s. While it won't stay that way long, it's a very nice break from the horrible heat we've had of late. Hopefully we'll be able to take a nice walk in a bit before it gets too hot.

Here's my simple breakfast:

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Blueberries, bananas and toast.

Chicken Fried Steak with Gravy

I have no idea what brought about this craving, but one afternoon about a week ago I had the urge to make chicken fried steak. The thing is, I'm not sure I've ever had chicken fried steak. It certainly isn't a dish I've ever made before or had at a friend or family member's house. Southern cooking, other than the occasional cornbread (and chili, if that's considered southern), just isn't in my food routine. I may have ordered the dish on a whim years ago at a chain restaurant such as Cracker Barrel, but I honestly don't remember.

Anyway, I had a nice piece of sirloin which I had intended to use to make beef with broccoli, but I just wasn't in the mood for that. After a quick Google search, I decided upon a recipe from The Pioneer Woman and one from Alton Brown. Essentially, I followed the Alton Brown recipe but applied Ree's method of battering the meat.

The results:

Fantastic gravy! I'd never made a white gravy until now and will definitely make it again. (The only gravy I'd made before is my caramelized onion-balsamic gravy that I serve with turkey.) Pounding the meat was fun, though a meat mallet would have worked a lot better than my rolling pin. Pan-frying wasn't nearly as intimidating as I thought it would be. The only real negative was a slightly oily crust, which was due to the double batter method from the Pioneer Woman and my not keeping my oil the right temperature. My husband gave it a thumbs up and I enjoyed leftovers the next day.

Chicken Fried Steak with Gravy
2 lbs sirloin (or bottom round)
2 teaspoons kosher salt (seasoned salt would be tasty too if you can find a brand without MSG)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup + 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2-3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup oil
1 tablespoon of butter
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup milk (I used half and half for added richness)
1/2 -1 teaspoon dry or fresh thyme leaves

Cut steaks into 8-10 portions. I only had about 1.5 lbs of meat so I cut roughly 6 four-ounce pieces. Pound meat evenly to a height of 1/4". Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Whisk about a teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme with 1 cup of flour. Set up an assembly line and dredge meat first in flour, then in egg, and then again in flour. If you're more proficient that I am at pan-frying, do one more round in the egg and flour. Allow meat to rest for 10-15 minutes before frying.

In a heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it's shimmery. Test it with a pinch of flour which should sizzle immediately when it hits the oil. Fry steaks about 4 minutes per side until golden brown. Be careful not the overcrowd the pan which will cause the oil temperature to plummet and your breading to become greasy.

Allow meat to drain a bit on a rack and rest while you make the gravy.

Discard all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the pan. Melt butter over medium high heat. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of flour and make a roux. Add the chicken broth and deglaze the pan. Whisk until the gravy comes to a boil and begins to thicken. Reduce heat and add the milk and thyme. Whisk until the gravy coats the back of a spoon, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Season to taste. Serve the gravy over the steaks.

Serves 4-6

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Breakfast Sunday

86 degrees with a heat index of 93 on this gorgeous Sunday morning and it's oatmeal for breakfast again.

Index Updated!

Since I've been posting a lot this weekend, I decided to give the Recipe Index a needed update. I still want to figure out a better and more attractive way of organizing the index, but at least most of my recipe collection is now linked from there. If you can't find something, please use the search box in the upper right corner of the page. Thanks for visiting my kitchen!

Mocha Chip Ice Cream

With the temps hitting the 90s each day, it was time to make some ice cream! I made this recipe a couple times last summer, but with the new little one, food blogging took a break. Last summer I generally followed this recipe from My and made coffee ice cream with chocolate chips. Yesterday, I decided to add even more chocolate and mixed the chocolate shavings right into the ice cream base. Then when churning I added another three ounces of shaved chocolate to recover the missing crunch. Fantastic!

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Mocha Chip Ice Cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk (I've used 2% and whole)
1 cup half-and-half
1 egg yolk, beaten
2 tablespoons instant espresso
6 oz shaved semisweet or dark chocolate (only 3 oz if making coffee chip ice cream)

1. Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large heavy saucepan. Whisk in milk and half-and-half. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat.

2. Temper egg yolk with about 1/4 c of hot milk mixture, then return to pot, whisking briskly. Whisk in espresso. Whisk in half of chocolate. (Skip this step if you prefer coffee ice cream with chocolate chip.) You may need to return the mixture to the heat over low to get the chocolate to melt smoothly.

3. If necessary, strain mixture to remove any solids. Pour into a bowl and cool for about an hour. Place plastic wrap directly on cream mixture; chill 8 to 24 hours.

4. Pour mixture into freezer container of a 1 1/2-qt. ice-cream maker, and freeze according to your machine's directions; stir in remaining chocolate halfway through freezing.

Makes about 3 cups

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Skirt Steak with Red Wine/Thyme Sauce (and Gorgonzola Polenta)

Hmmm, I thought this was a spring/summer recipe but a quick search on Cooking Light informed me that this recipe was found in the December 2012 issue. I guess I'm more behind on my magazine pile than I thought. Oh well. I've now made this recipe twice and each time I pan-seared the steak but you could easily throw it on the grill. I loved that this recipe allows the meat to shine, but also has a nice pan sauce that adds a touch of sweetness. As for the Gorgonzola polenta [NOT PICTURED], it was definitely interesting, but I much prefer my regular version which uses Parmesan cheese instead. All in all, a tasty and quick meal.

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The gorgonzola polenta is obviously not pictured. I served it with the steak the first time I made the dish but didn't particularly care for it so we had it with brown rice the second time. However, since the two recipes are paired together by CL, I figured I'd share them both.

Skirt Steak with Red Wine/Thyme Sauce and Gorgonzola Polenta
2 cups plus 1 TBS chicken broth, divided
1 c milk (I used skim)
2/3 c quick-cooking polenta
1 oz Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (about 1/4 cup)
1 lb skirt steak, trimmed and cut into 4 pieces
1 tsp butter
1 TBS finely chopped shallots
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp cornstarch (I increased this to at least 1/2 tsp, which is why the sauce pictured is so thick)

1. Combine 2 cups broth and milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil. Gradually whisk polenta into broth mixture, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently, about 10-20 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover; let stand 5 minutes.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly oil pan or spritz with cooking spray. Sprinkle steak with salt and pepper. Add to hot pan and cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. You could also grill it. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest.

3. Melt butter in skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots; sauté 1 minute. Add wine, thyme, and honey; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by half (about 2 minutes). Combine remaining 1 tablespoon broth and cornstarch in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add cornstarch mixture to skillet; cook 1 minute or until sauce slightly thickens.

Serves 4

Friday, July 5, 2013

What's for breakfast today?

Let's see, it's 87 degrees outside with a heat index of 94 and what am I having for breakfast?

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Oatmeal with strawberries and walnuts

Weekly Chocolate Pudding

Posting my chocolate pudding recipe is long overdue. I've been making this pudding recipe every single week (sometimes twice a week) for about three months now. It's simple and relatively idiot-proof once you get the hang of it and so very yummy.

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How did this begin? I have no idea idea. Pudding used to be a once-in-awhile treat in my house and always either from a mix or the refrigerated section of the market. Then one day in February, I got a craving for something chocolate, specifically pudding. As I often do for sweet treats, I turned to Martha Stewart and for the first couple weeks made this recipe. It was tasty, but not quite as rich as I'd like. Plus, 4 eggs meant a whole lot of fat and whatnot. Next I tried this recipe from A Cup of Jo. I liked that it only called for two egg yolks but still was richer due to the addition of chocolate chips, which I ignore for calorie and fat purposes ;) The only problem was that the result was runny as soup! Cooking it forever obtained the desired consistency, but was just too inconvenient. I was about to abandon the recipe when on a whim I tried the method used in the Martha Stewart recipe, i.e. adding everything including the eggs to the milk mixture right from the start. Success!

In general, though the pudding will thicken some when it cools, do not remove it from the heat until it thickly coats the back of your mixing spoon. This pudding tastes like a rich piece of chocolate cake and pairs wonderfully with bananas or strawberries.

Chocolate Pudding

3 cups milk (I use skim)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 TBS cornstarch
2 heaping TBS unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 large egg yolks
3 oz. dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium heavy saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt. Whisk in milk and egg yolks. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until mixture thickly coats the back of a spoon.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and chocolate chips until chocolate is melted. Portion into equal servings or pour into a bowl. Cool before refrigerating. If storing in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap touching the pudding. Chill for at least 6-8 hours.

Makes about 6 half cup servings.