Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tell Me, Am I Indecisive Or Out of Control?

I love all kinds of dishes. I'd rather shop for dishes or items to use in my kitchen than anything else. A couple of years ago I started collecting Fiestaware dishes. I had admired them for years, but I didn't know what color I wanted, so I kept holding off on buying the first piece. Well, I finally decided that since all the colors were beautiful I would mix them up a little.

But then how do you stop at a couple of colors?

The Tangerine and Chocolate make great Thanksgiving colors.

But I didn't want my table to look like fall all year round, so I added some Scarlet, Heather, and Lemongrass.

And then there's Cinnabar to add even more color.

The Lemongrass gravy boat seemed like an essential serving piece.

I use the Scarlet cake plate and server every week at my house.

And when I make a casserole, it's just more fun to make it in a Sunflower colored dish.

I do have one antique piece of Fiesta. I received this platter after my grandmother Clark passed away. I want to be sure I don't get this piece broken, so I keep it on display on top of my cabinet.

This platter belonged to her, and it is the only piece I have in this Rose color, which now is retired. Hers was the original Rose, there was another Rose released much later that is a pinker shade.

I pulled all my Fiesta out of the cabinet today and moved it. I put it in a more prominent place in the kitchen so that I can enjoy it more. All the colors make me feel happy when I use them. Would other colors make me even happier? There are lots of colors I don't have yet. Is it time to stop buying dishes? Am I in need of an intervention? I hope not, because when I was rearranging everything today I realized that I don't yet have a sugar bowl and creamer set. Now what new color do I need?

All opinions are my own. This is a non-sponsored post, and I have received no compensation.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut Cream Pie is one of my husband's favorite desserts, and it is one of the first pies he wanted me to learn to bake for him after we were married.

We lived several hundred miles away from our families then, and there was no internet to search or YouTube to watch, so I relied on the one cookbook that I had received as a wedding gift. I studied that cookbook, and I still refer back to it today. My recipe for today's Coconut Cream Pie comes from that reliable old cookbook, my Better Homes Cookbook. The copyright date in my cookbook is 1965.

Coconut Cream Pie
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups coconut, divided
1 (9-inch) baked pastry shell

In a double boiler, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt; gradually stir in milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils and thickens. Cook 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat.
Stir a small amount of hot mixture into egg yolks; return to hot mixture; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla; mix well. Stir in 1 cup coconut; cool to room temperature. (To prevent a crust from forming, put clear plastic wrap directly on top, touching surface of the hot pudding across to the sides of pan. When cooled pour into baked pastry shell.

3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sugar
Beat egg whites with cream of tartar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form and sugar is dissolved. Spread atop pie sealing to pastry. Sprinkle top of meringue with 1/3 cup coconut. Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for 12 - 15 minutes or until meringue is golden.

In my opinion, a double boiler is an important tool for making a cream pie. It's just too easy to stick and scorch the cream filling in a regular saucepan.

Slightly beat the egg yolks, but don't add them to the mixture until you have mixed some of the hot mixture in with them.

Stir some of the hot mixture in with the egg yolks before mixing the egg yolks into the whole batch. Cook for 2 minutes longer after adding the egg yolks.

Remove from heat and add butter and vanilla; . . .

. . . then stir in coconut. Let cool to room temperature.

Pour filling into prepared pastry shell.

Top with meringue.

Spread meringue to edges to seal and sprinkle with 1/3 cup coconut.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 12 - 15 minutes; set your timer so you don't over brown.

Coconut Cream is my husband's favorite pie . . .

. . . so I should give this first slice to him.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sourdough Bread

The Sourdough Bread experiment has been completed. Six days ago I mixed up a Sourdough Starter and I have been patiently watching and waiting to see the results. Finally today, I baked the bread.

This has been a long wait. Each day I checked on the starter, and stirred it as directed, but not much happened. On the morning of the 5th day, I fed the starter and it bubbled and grew, but the directions said to wait until later in the day to take out any of the starter to use in a recipe. So, last night I had my Sourdough Bread recipe ready. The bread recipe I used belongs to my friend Beth, who has baked Sourdough Bread for many years. I've had her recipe tucked away for a long time.

Sourdough Bread
1 cup sourdough starter
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 package (or 2 1/4 teaspoons) dry yeast
1/2 cup oil
1 teaspoon salt
5 - 6 cups flour

In a large bowl, mix together starter, sugar, water, yeast, and oil. Add salt, then flour 1 cup at a time. Place dough in a large glass bowl that has been greased, and slightly grease top of bread dough. Let rise overnight at room temperature, then shape into loaves. Let rise again, then bake at 325 degrees F for about 35 minutes, or until browned. Makes two 9 x 5-inch loaves.

My starter looked about the same on days 2, 3, and 4.

Each morning a layer of clear liquid had settled out on top before the starter was stirred.

On the 5th day the starter was fed and it really came alive! That evening I used the starter to prepare the bread dough and  let it rise overnight, as per directions.

Fortunately, I'm an early riser. The bread dough was just about to outgrow the bowl by morning.

The next step was to divide the dough into two loaf pans and let it rise again.

Then bake in a preheated oven for about 35 minutes, or until browned.

Let the bread cool before slicing, if you can.

My husband and I sliced into a loaf while it was still warm.

Today for lunch I had ham and cheddar on sourdough bread, yum.

If you haven't made your Sourdough Starter yet, it is definitely worth a try. The bread is delicious.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

My Mother's Pie Crust

Today I am making my Mother's Pie Crust recipe, and this post is especially for Cindy, a very sweet blog follower. Cindy has made some kind comments on several of my posts, and she told me that she is working on her pie crust skills. So, I got to thinking about my mother and her pie crust. Probably there is no one who has made more pies than my mother. She whips them up 3 or 4 at a time, and she tries to make sure she has one of everyone's favorite. It's apple for Philip, chocolate for Julie, and so on down the line until she's made the whole family happy. If you tried to find a number for how many pies Mother has baked in her lifetime, it would have to be one of those incomprehensible mathematical terms like infinity.

I have posted about pie crust previously. The last pie crust recipe I used was made with a higher ratio of shortening to flour plus an egg, and it is very tasty, but it is a delicate crust and must be chilled before rolling out. It is also easy to tear and can be frustrating unless you have a good deal of experience in putting together pies. But mother's crust is made with less shortening, is sturdier, easier to handle, and doesn't have to be chilled before rolling. I think this will be the perfect recipe for Cindy, or anyone, to use to practice those pie crust skills.

My Mother's Pie Crust
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup vegetable shortening (Crisco)
5 or 6 tablespoons very cold water
1 tablespoon vinegar

In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt. Add shortening and use a pastry cutter to combine with the flour. Stir in water and vinegar. Divide dough into two equal parts. Dough can be used to make 2 single crusts or 1 double crust. Roll out on a floured surface to desired size. Place in pie plate. For a single crust, bake in a preheated 450 degree F oven for 10 - 12 minutes or until browned.

Place half the dough on a floured surface.

Roll the dough out slightly larger than the pie plate.

Fold dough in half.

Place folded dough in pie plate.

nfold the pie crust and roll the excess dough under around the edge.

Finish edge as desired. Bake in preheated 450 degree oven for 10 - 12 minutes.

Good luck with your pie crust, Cindy. I hope some part of this has been helpful. 

And this is my Mother, Virginia. I know she'd love to bake a pie for you. She just needs to know your favorite kind.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A New Toy

I love it when the big squarish brown delivery truck stops in front of my house and the driver jumps out, runs to my front door and leaves something wonderful. The guy who makes these deliveries is a lot like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny all rolled into one brown-clad wish granter. He drops the goodies, and is back in the truck and roars out of sight so quickly, leaving me to wonder if he was there and I ever really saw him at all. But there is the box as proof.

So what has he brought today? He delivered a long-shopped-for and long-awaited new kitchen toy.

It was just like Christmas morning unpacking this food processor. The last one I bought was over 20 years ago, and it has been a good companion to me. It did every job I asked it to do, but it was too small for some of the jobs I needed it to do. My new food processor is much larger.

The 12 cup bowl will be much handier to work with for those larger jobs.

In fact, it is so much bigger, it makes my old food processor look like little brother. This little 3 cup model has given me many good years of service and will continue to be a back-up for small jobs, but I am so excited to have a larger one to work with now.

So why did I choose this particular one? I read a lot of reviews. I compared prices. After all things were taken into consideration, this is what sold me on this one instead of another brand that I considered strongly.

This one has a built in drawer to hold all the extra blades and accessories, no clutter. So now I need to find something to slice, chop, shred or otherwise process.

I have not been compensated in any way for writing this post.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Spice Cupcakes With Penuche Frosting

Today I baked some Spice Cupcakes that I adapted from a Taste of Home recipe, then I topped them with an easy Penuche Frosting. My mother-in-law gave me the recipe for the frosting a number of years ago. She was a restaurant owner for many years and always a wonderful cook.

Spice Cupcakes
1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup applesauce
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a cupcake pan by spraying with nonstick cooking spray or use paper liners.
In a bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture alternately with applesauce. Stir in walnuts.
Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack. Frost cooled cupcakes. Makes one dozen.

Penuche Frosting 
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 3/4 to 2 cups sifted powdered sugar

Melt butter in a medium saucepan, add brown sugar and bring to a boil. Over low heat, boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in milk, bring mixture back to a boil, stirring constantly. Cool to lukewarm, then gradually stir in powdered sugar. Beat until thick enough to spread. If frosting is too stiff it can be thinned with a little hot water.

 Cool the butter, brown sugar, and milk mixture to lukewarm before adding the powdered sugar.

 Gradually stir in the powdered sugar, beating until thick enough to spread.

This Penuche Frosting is a good companion for the Spice Cupcakes.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mexican Chicken

Our dinner tonight is an update of an old favorite, Mexican Chicken. My family has enjoyed Mexican Chicken for years, but the recipe has evolved over time. The original recipe that I used came from my Aunt Lillian, and it called for a bag of taco flavored Dorito chips. I use a different kind of chips now in my Mexican Chicken, and I have also added some other ingredients to the original recipe.

Mexican Chicken
2 pounds boneless chicken, cooked
Ground red cayenne pepper
Garlic salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 (10 ounce) can Rotel tomatoes
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
1 (4.5 ounce) can chopped green chiles
1 (2 1/4 ounce) can sliced ripe olives, drained
1 pound Velveeta cheese, cubed
1 (13 ounce) bag tortilla chips

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Prepare a 9 x 13-inch baking dish by spraying with nonstick cooking spray. Chop or shred cooked chicken and place in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with red pepper and garlic salt.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the onion until tender. Add the Rotel, mushroom soup, chicken soup, chiles, olives, and Velveeta cheese. Stir together over low heat until cheese is melted.
Place a layer of tortilla chips over the chicken in the baking dish, then pour the cheese mixture over the chips; mix slightly. Top with another layer of tortilla chips (you will not need the whole bag of chips). Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.

Sprinkle chicken with red pepper and garlic salt.

Add a layer of tortilla chips.

Pour the cheese mixture over the chips and mix slightly.

Add another layer of tortilla chips, cover with foil and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake 10 minutes longer.

Serve it up - hot, cheesy, and delicious.