Thursday, October 29, 2009

Apple Pie

I am not a dessert person per se only because I prefer meat and potatoes or a bowl of chips and salsa over chocolate any day of the week. But, if I have one signature dessert to my name it's apple pie. My mom made the best apple pie ever and over the years I've added 'this and that' to make it my own and it's safe to say that I can make a mean pie. Although, I never put my pie in a traditional pie dish, just because they are never deep enough. I prefer a good old fashioned 13 x 9 dish, but I have whittled this down to fit in either a deep dish pie pan or an 8x8 baking dish. Your choice. (And just so you know, I normally make a pie crust but today I cheated since I didn't have enough time.)

Oh, and make sure you have some vanilla ice cream on hand because you're going to need it.

Annie's Apple Pie
6 Large Granny Smith Apples - cored, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup Old fashioned oats
3/4 Cup white sugar
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon ground allspice

3/4 Cup packed brown sugar
1/2 Cup all-purpose flour
1/4 Cup butter
1 pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie

Preheat oven to 375. Place the pastry in an ungreased 8x8 baking dish, and press along the bottom and half way up the sides. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine apples, sugar, cinnamon, allspice and oats. Pour apples into baking dish and sprinkle with nutmeg.

Using a fork or pastry knife, mix together the flour, brown sugar and butter until it is crumbly. Sprinkle mixture on top of apples.

Bake 40-50 minutes and cover half way through baking to keep the topping from getting too brown. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Today was definitely a chicken soup day. The wind was blowing, it's been colder than heck, my son ended up staying home from school with 'the fever' again, my DH was feeling crummy as well and requested some chicken noodle soup. So I did what I normally do on days like today and whipped up some homemade soup. There are a ton of short cuts for making soup that includes using store bought broth. This is something I just can't bring myself to do when making this soup, only because homemade stock is so easy to make.

When it came time to throw the soup together, I had the luxury of heading out to my garden and to pull some of the carrots that are still in the ground. There is nothing like fresh carrots in chicken noodle soup.

So here's the recipe from start to finish the truly homemade way.

Chicken Stock
1 3-4 lb Whole Chicken
5-6 Cups water
1 Onion coarsely chopped
1 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Teaspoon ground pepper

Place whole chicken in a stock pot and add water. Add onions, salt and pepper. Place on stove over high heat, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool. Strain broth and set in refrigerator for 6-8 hours. Once chicken is cool, remove meat from bones and refrigerate meat until ready to use in soup.

Chicken Noodle Soup
3 Medium Carrots, diced
3 Stalk celery, diced
1 Medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon butter
Chicken stock
Cooked chicken, diced
6-8 Oz. wide egg noodles
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic, carrots, onions and celery. Cook until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 15 minutes. Add chicken, cover and cook an additional 10 minutes. (You can add a few cups of water if needed.) Add egg noodles and cook until tender. Salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hot Apple Cider

A few (maybe ten) years ago, Bob and I went to a little town called Oregon Illinois during their Fall Festival. I had HOT apple cider for the first time, and just couldn't get enough. Since then, I like to make hot mulled cider in the crock pot this time of year.

Hot Apple Cider

1/2 cup of brown sugar
2 quarts of cider
1 teaspoon of whole allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
Orange slices

Place whole allspice and whole cloves into a tea strainer. Put all ingredients into the crock pot. Cover. Cook on LOW for 2 to 8 hours. Use a ladle to serve cider directly from the crock pot.

@PamperingBecki on twitter gives a recommendation for making Pumpkin Pie Spice coffee on her blog here along with ten random things. Don't pat her on the but if you like it. Trust me...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Lentils With Chicken and Kielbasa

It appears that we went straight from summer to winter as it is snowing like crazy outside and it was 80 degrees just a week ago. Hopefully we'll see some nice fall days and the snow isn't a sign of what kind of winter we will have.

The cooler temperatures call for some heartier meals and so last night I decided to make up a pot of lentils. I baked a few chicken breast that I had seasoned and added that to the lentils, but left over rotisserie chicken would work just as well. The sausage gives it just a little extra flavor and the home grown carrots, of which I have an abundance, provided a little sweetness to the mix.

Lentils With Chicken and Kielbasa
1 lb lentils
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large carrots, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large celery stocks, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 chicken breasts, baked,diced and seasoned with salt and pepper
1 package cooked kielbasa cut in half, sliced and sauteed until slightly browned
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
Salt and pepper

Rinse lentils, place in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 15 minutes and drain. Set aside.

In a large stock pot heat oil and add carrots, onion, celery, red pepper and garlic. Saute vegetables until they are slightly tender, about 10 minutes. Add lentils, broth and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered (with the lid not completely closed) until lentils are tender, about 20-25 minutes. Add cumin, paprika, chicken and sausage. Stir well and simmer another 10 minutes (most of the liquid will be absorbed). Salt and pepper to taste and serve with sourdough bread.