Peanut Chicken Stew

Have you jumped on the peanut train yet? Well, clearly I have because I am posting a second peanut recipe , and I still have another jar to use up. Peanut butter protein balls perhaps next?

My husband began calling this Peanut Chicken Stew “crack” stew because neither one of us could walk by the pot without hovering over it, swiping spoonfuls before and after dinner.

It is that good. I have been dreaming about this stew  since we finished it one week ago. This is really special. It makes you feel good, so good, that I made it again today to pair with homemade bread and friends!

peanut chicken stew

When you read the recipe, you are going to jump out of your  chair and proclaim I am crazy for putting together the strange mix of ingredients….I jumped out of my chair the first time I saw peanut butter, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, rotisserie chicken,coconut milk, turmeric, brown rice, fresh herbs and other healing spices mixed together.

The, I tried it because I was curious, and I am  now a peanut-stew-convert.

On another note, I’m sorry I haven’t posted in almost 2 weeks.Life over here has looked like this-

work. cook. eat. sand. repeat. paint. cook. eat .repeat.paint. repeat. clean.repeat. think about starting the garden. paint.

Our dining room is now painted, and we are working on the impossible task of the kitchen, which entails removing 50 year old wallpaper, sanding with my purple swimcap on to protect my  hair , balancing on a 15 foot tall ladder at a 60 degree angle, and finding dust bombs from the sanding on every surface. Today we painted trim. Ick.

I am looking forward to the part where I have a glass of wine and marvel at the newly painted  walls.

Until then, I’ll be eating this peanut stew while the weather is still cold, and  enjoying this cream sauce without the cream from Eating Well. I used it to make a killer healthy macaroni and cheese  last week and in homemade tomato soup.  Alas,  the healthy  mac n’ cheese was downed before I could photograph it. Food blogger photography problems….the subject disappears quickly.

 

To Your Health,

Lydia

Peanut Chicken Stew

Serves 8
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 1 hour
Total time 1 hour, 30 minutes
Allergy Peanuts
Meal type Main Dish, Soup
Misc Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
This peanut chicken stew , filled flavorful ingredients and superfoods, is the perfect cold-weather healthy meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 roasted bell pepper (chopped finely)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 1.5 teaspoons grated coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon dark chili powder
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1 16 oz can plum tomatoes
  • 1 large sweet potato, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 1 rib rotiserie chicken, meat removed and chopped
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts

Note

You can puree this stew before adding in the coconut milk , peanut butter, and chicken and rice for a smooth and creamy soup.  Then warm it up, stir in the rest of the ingredients, and serve. I prefer the chunky stew though.

Sriracha is a delicious hot sauce, but you can substitute tobasco is you have no sriracha on hand.

 

Directions

Step 1
Saute the onion in the oil on medium-high heat until it is translucent. The add in the spices, garlic,and ginger and saute 2 more minutes.
Step 2
Add the chicken broth, grated carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, brown sugar, sriracha, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to medium and let it simmer with the top on for at least 45 minutes.
Step 3
Stir in the coconut milk and peanut butter and whisk until combined.
Step 4
Stir in the roasted chicken and cook another 2 -3 minutes on medium high until the chicken is hot. Garnish with fresh chives or cilantro.
Step 5
Serve atop the cooked brown rice in a bowl and sprinkle with chopped peanuts.

 

 

 

New Year, New Outlook

I never make New Year’s Resolutions, but I do write a list of things I would like to focus on in the coming year. My focus in  2012 was to start a blog. Mission accomplished!  A few of my others were :Travel to at least 1 foreign country. Done. Cook more often. Done. Keep my diet clean 80-90 % if the time. Done. Simplify. Eh, not sure that was achieved anywhere in my life with the wedding. Run 26.2 miles. Done. Organize. Hmm, that definitely did not happen.

I obviously  fell short on some things.

Here’s what I’m focusing on this year!

Posting more of my healthy recipes and eats and WORKOUTS– I have literally thousands of recipes tucked into books, notebooks, folders and cookbooks, begging to be cooked. Many are healthy but many are indulgent stretchy-pants- recipes meant for a special occasion or that- skinny- friend –who- needs- to gain- some- weight. Don’t we all have a friend like that?  I will be focusing more on the healthier recipes with some indulgent ones snuck in from time to time. It’s all about balance. Ditto with workouts. I have an entire notebook of workout written over the years. Expect to see a workout tab soon here!

Organize my life.

Save money and track everything I spend.

Fix up the guest cottage and rent it out. The guest cottage behind our house is  far from habitable.  It will be a great deal of work, but we love projects, and the end result will be more money in our pockets!

Go on more weekend trips. Last year I felt stuck at home because all of my time and money was going towards the wedding and honeymoon. This year we are going on more weekend trips, including a trip to New York City in February and a few camping trips.

 Weight train 2-3 times per week  & participate  some kind of triathlon.

Forgo Christmas 2013 and donate that money and time to charity. We have enough stuff, and I prefer not to get caught up in the materialistic aspect of the Holidays. I would rather adopt a family, honestly, and put our time and money to those who desperately need it.

So let’s kick off my 2013 Recipes with this one: Beef Lettuce Cups with Peanut Sauce

lettuce cups

I am a peanut butter fanatic. Not a day goes by when I have not eaten at least a spoonful of  the natural kind that you stir and keep in the refrigerator.

The best brand is in my opinion Maranatha, but most stores now have their own natural brands that are fairly tasty! Watch out for the varieties that say “natural”  but don’t need to be refrigerated. They are imposters ,  masking themselves as healthy! If it can sit out on your counter,  something has been added to it that should not be there(sugar, corn syrup, chemicals, etc). READ your ingredient list.

Now, please give these lettuce wraps a try. They are adaptable to whatever veggies you may have in your house , take 20 minutes to prepare, and delicious. The husband ate 5 for dinner and gave them a thumbs up.

That’s a winner in my book!

Beef Lettuce Cups with Peanut Sauce

Serves 4
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 45 minutes
Allergy Peanuts
Meal type Appetizer, Main Dish
These beefy lettuce cups with peanut sauce are a delicious, healthy, and fast week-night meal!

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons natural peanut butter (crunchy)
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 lime (juiced)
  • 1lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 heaped teaspoon sriracha (optional)
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots
  • 1 package fresh sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup green onions (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 head butterhead lettuce or endive
  • 3 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

Note

The great aspect of lettuce cups is they are infinitely adaptable to whatever veggie you would like to put in them-Try adding broccoli pieces, sauteed bean sprouts, chopped cashew or peanuts, rice or soba noodles, rice, chopped bellpepper , cucumber or water chestnuts.

Directions

Step 1
Saute onions in 1 T sesame oil until translucent in a saute pan on medium-high heat. Add in garlic and saute 2 more minutes at medium heat. Add in ground beef and cook until browned.
Step 2
Remove the beef mixture from the pan and place into a serving bowl. Saute the mushrooms in the same pan until browned and soft.
Step 3
In a small bowl combine the peanut butter, sesame oil, soy sauce, fish sauce, red pepper flakes, lime juice, brown sugar, coconut milk, and sriracha. Taste and adjust to your liking-add more coconut milk for more creaminess.
Step 4
Serve the meat mixture over pieces of lettuce, which are shaped like little cups.
Step 5
Top with mushrooms, a tablespoon of grated carrot and green onions. Add in any other toppings you prefer.
Step 6
Drizzle your lettuce cups with peanut sauce and enjoy!

 

Who Dat, Cher?

Louisiana is another world in itself, and unlike most states with normal street names, it boasts impronouncable street names  which abruptly change from their indecipherable  French to  American names: Tchoupitoulas,  Hebert, and Eraste Landry to name a few.”Laissex le bon temps rou lez” and ‘Who Dat” are plastered on shirts in windows lining the streets of New Orleans. If you listen enough, you will hear the thick Cajun or Creole accents and “cher” placed at the end of a sentence as a term of endearment.

New Orleans is place I remember even as a child as rather dirty, full of the sounds of zydeco and Cajun music at each and every street corner ,and delicious food. The sole purpose of stopping over in New Orleans on the 13 hour drive to Lafayette every other year was to stop and eat.

new orleans

Central Grocery is the highlight of the city for me, a bustling, slightly tired and old 1900’s  grocery store wafting with smells that remind me of Italy and Sicily, where the dust-covered cans in the store shop give it a distinct feeling of home for me. Perhaps it’s the fact you can buy octopus or eel in a can or the fact that there is  gigantic jar of capers for sale the size of my head, but I just feel so comfy in this place.

If you have never been there, you might not know that the muffaletas can feed 4 people: a large round plate-sized French bread , sandwiched onto a thick layer of salami and imported meats,2 slices of  provolone, and their famous and never-to-be-replicated olive salad, dripping with fragrant olive oil.

The meal is not complete without ordering a huge stuffed artichoke pulled out of the refrigerator, a bag of Zapp’s chips, and a root beer. Make your way to the tiny and crowded back counter, where you will sit alongside strangers and savor each bite while commenting on all of the ancient cans of olive oil and signage flecking the store shelves.

muffaleta  zapp's

Walk just a mere block from Central Grocery on Decatur St., turn the corner, and you will find an excellent po’boy place called Johnny’s.

When you awaken in the morning, forget the hotel breakfast and make your way to Cafe Du Monde, where you can only expect to find two things, beignets and coffee. Expect to wait in the lively line a few minutes, which moves quickly, and then enter the green and white ten,t and scope out a tiny, powdered sugar coated table that is just being cleared of the previous occupants’ dishes.

Order the hot chocolate on a cold day, or the cafe au lait, and expect to taste a slight difference in the coffee with that hint of  chicory that Creole enjoy. My mother has bought only Community coffee since I was a kid, and that was no small feat considering it only recently could be found east of the Missisippi. Pa had been shipping it to her along with Steen’s can syrup as long as I can remember.

On our recent visit to Cafe Du Monde, it was bitterly cold, which only made sipping on the piping hot coffee and powdered beignets even better.

For dinner, make a reservation at Bayona on Dauphine Street. A beautiful garden lies behind the stucco house,   beckoning foodies to try its delicious food.We started with the quail salad, which was absolutely divine and the highlight of my meal, crispy, delicate fried quail on a bed of greens with pistachios and a house made Dijon dressing.I then dined on a local fish, tripletail, atop a delicious bed of French lentils and buttery sauce.Dessert . Yes. The hazelnut chocolate tart with blueberry compote and earl grey ice cream was an explosion of perfectly balanced flavors. Order it if you go.

Spend the day perusing the antique stores and boutiques on Royal St. and listen as the sounds of each talented bluegrass or zydeco band blends into one another. The music talent here on the street is astounding, so carry one dollar bills in your pocket to tip them.

Walk Bourbon Street and grab a Hurricane or Grenade if you can handle the sugar and alcohol content (I can’t!) and try not to blush at the risque  signs adorning every strip joint.

Where to stay? Over the years I have stayed in a different hotel each time. I recommend Le Pavillon or the Royal Sonesta if you want to truly experience excellent location, service, and luxury. However, if you are on a budget, the Country Inn and Suites on Magazine St.  is actually built in an old factory, has a heated pool in the courtyard, and a wonderful concierge lady.

This is the New Orleans I know, and I hope this recap is helpful to those of you who plan to visit!

 

 

 

 

 

Snickers Fudge

MrSnowman2

Ah, where were we?

Oh yes. I was writing this blog post a few days before Christmas, before the chaos ensued.

Since that moment, I have scarcely had time to sit down at a computer, and when that has occurred, work has been on my mind.

No matter.If you had been spending Christmas with me you would already see  all the presents wrapped under the tree, and me frantically making a homemade caramel cake and red velvet trifle on Christmas Eve in a mere 2 hour span of time after work . In past years, I started planning the Christmas menu months ahead, but this year with the move and a trip to Louisiana planned the day after Christmas, we knew it would be a last minute and laid-back affair.

I winged it with caramel cake, taking an old recipe for pound cake and turning it into a layer cake topped with a caramel frosting . I measured almost nothing for the frosting, so I can’t give you the exact recipe, but perhaps I will sit down and try to remember exactly what went into it. It was phenomenal, moist, and rich.

The red velvet trifle is an oldie, one that I made last year for our engagement party at Christmas time. Think thick squares of homemade moist red velvet cake, layered with a decadent mascarpone, whipped cream layer, mint, crumbled Andes and dark chocolate, and it is easily one of the most beautiful desserts you have seen at Christmas with all the beautiful colors.

 

Except the trifle dish was deep in the bowels of a box. So I had to sacrifice the 4 or 5 beautiful layers for two fat layers. Here is the result:

(sorry, phone photo!)

(sorry, phone photo!)

 

But the whole reason I write this post is not to rub in all the delicious food we ate on Christmas Eve (weiswurst, kraut, knackwurst, pretzels, grainy mustard, and Lebkuchen) or Christmas(minted lamb, cranberry salad, squash casserole, fig and blue cheese salad), or even to tell you about all of the wonderful presents and family time I was so blessed by this Christmas,  but to share the recipe for which so many people have been asking: Snickers Fudge.

Snickers Fudge

Before you turn up your nose, let me tell you there is no Snickers to be found in this. It just tastes like the most delicious, thick, nutty, creamy, frozen snickers bar you ever tasted.

So for all of my friends begging for the recipe, here it is a week late.

It requires zero baking, only a pan and a freezer.

These are rather sweet, so I advise you cut them into tiny squares and enjoy in small portions.

Though I  am sad I have had little time for baking this year, I have been stuffing my face in New Orleans for a few days , before driving to Lafayette to eat po’ boys, boudin, cracklins, and other Cajun goodies.

I only packed stretchy pants. No worries. I am prepared.

I promise a foodie recap when I return, and then perhaps I will tell you about 2 Blue Egg’s New Year’s changes and resolutions.

See you in the New Year!

Snickers Fudge

Serves 48
Prep time 2 hours
Allergy Peanuts
Meal type Dessert
Misc Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold
A fudgy, nutty homemade candy bar fudge that bring you back to the freezer again and again to sneak a bite.

Ingredients

chocolate layer 1

  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1/2 dash creamy peanut butter (JIF or Skippy)

marshmallow filling

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 dash evaporated milk
  • 3 cups marshmallow cream
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups salted peanuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

caramel layer

  • 1 bag caramels (14-22 oz bag, unwrapped)
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk

chocolate layer 2

  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (JIF or Skippy)

Directions

Step 1
Coat a 9 X 13 pan with cooking spray.Prepare a space in your freeze where you can easily set the pan later.
chocolate layer 1
Step 2
In a double boiler, melt together the chocolate and peanut butter until creamy. Spread onto the bottom of the pan. Place in the freezer.
marshmallow filling
Step 3
In a large saucepan on medium heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and evaporated milk. Stir on medium-high heat until boiling. Boil for 3 minutes and remove from heat quickly.
marshamallow filling
Step 4
Quickly stir in the marshmallow cream, peanut butter, and vanilla until incorporated. Toss in the peanuts and stir.
marshmallow filling
Step 5
Spread onto the set chocolate layer in the pan in the freezer and leave in the freezer.
caramel layer
Step 6
In another small saucepan melt together the evaporated milk and caramels. Once melted, spread onto the fudge layer, only after the fudge layer has hardened slightly.
Step 7
Let the pan sit in the freezer around 20 minutes until caramel has set.
chocolate layer 2
Step 8
Melt together the chocolate and peanut butter in a double boiler for the last layer. Spread onto the top evenly and top with a few extra peanuts if you prefer. Let sit in freezer at least an hour or two.
Step 9
Cut the frozen fudge into 48 tiny squares with a sharp knife and serve. Can be left in the refirgerator or freezer for a week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Chip Caramel Cookies

I have a slight obsession with making the perfect chocolate chip cookie. I created the perfect healthy cookie already. I have a few recipes for the perfect indulgent cookie , too. But, what about a Holiday chocolate chip cookie?

Enter Caramel Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

This is a fudgy, thick cookie that oozes caramel and goo-iness. It’s not a light cookie, but who needs a light cookie around the Holidays? Not me. I want real butter.

It is also the perfect recipe to whip up in just an hour or so and take to one of the countless Holiday parties to which you agreed to bring something.

I feel your pain.

I know TOO well how it feels to be pulled ten different ways during the Holidays: busy at work, not quite finished with shopping, present wrapping, parties,  getting sick, removing wallpaper, moving my office, buying a house, moving to said house.

Notice, running or any type of working out is not present on the aforementioned list. I am on a running hiatus for two weeks.

I think I need one of these cookies. Now.

I will post my next Holiday recipe after the move this Saturday. There is a backload of Holiday recipes in my head that I cannot bake or post to this blog fast enough!

Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

Serves 24
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 10 minutes
Total time 25 minutes
Meal type Dessert
Misc Freezable
Spice up the traditional chocolate chip cookie for the Holidays with ooey-gooey caramel!

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cups choc chips
  • 1/2 cup pecans (chopped and browned)
  • 16 caramels (unwrapped, chopped into pieces)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 egg (room temperature)

Directions

Step 1
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Step 2
Meanwhile, beat together the butter, coconut oil, and sugars until fluffy and light.
Step 3
In another bowl, combine your flour, salt, cornstarch and baking soda in another bowl.
Step 4
Beat the egg and vanilla into the wet mixture, then slowly add the dry mixture on low speed until completely combined.
Step 5
Stir in the nuts and chocolate chips.
Step 6
Press a few pieces of caramel into each dough ball.
Step 7
Bake 8-10 minutes until slightly golden.

 

 

Fudge Spice Cabin Cookies

I call these cabin cookies because they are rather rustic and remind me of cabins and drinking Gluwein, mulled wine,  around a  big warm fire.  If you have never tried Gluwein, you are seriously missing out.I had my first sip 7 years ago when my German mother-in-law served it to me with a plate of Lebkuchen and gingerbread. It’s a Holiday ritual around here now, and on cold nights we warm it up with some sticks of cinnamon and enjoy it with cookies.

This year, I made some delicious cookies to eat for the Holidays, but spruced them up to include more wholesome ingredients.

Buckwheat flour , which I do use often ,  is the ugly duckling of the flour family, yet it is one of the nuttiest and heathiest whole grains. Let me reveal a  secret: it actually has a hint of spice to it. When you try it, you will say to yourself ” Whatever is that hint of spice?”. It tastes Christmas-y.

Buckwheat is not a grain or type of wheat, but is actually classified as fruit. Confused yet?It  contains all eight essential amino acids, so it’s nearly a complete protein. Buckwheat is also high in fiber , B vitamins and, according to a USDA study, keeps glucose levels in check better than other carbohydrates.

Because I was feeling particularly daring and  ill after having too much dairy and wine over the weekend, I used buckwheat, as well as some other healthier ingredients for these cookies: dark chocolate, walnuts and coconut oil. This ganache  is the kind of  thing a girl could pull out of the fridge and eat by the spoonful if she was having a particularly bad day..

not that I ever do that...

I urge you to try these, and you will see what I mean about the Holiday-feel of these cookies.

Oh, did I mention they are vegan? That was purely by accident, but a happy accident nonetheless.

Here are some more ideas for you to incorporate buckwheat flour  into your diet:

pizza dough

quick breads

pancakes

waffles

protein bars

crepes

nutty cookies

You can find buckwheat  at your local health food store.

 

Happy Holidays,

Lydia

Fudge Spice Cabin Cookies

Serves 12
Prep time 1 hour
Cook time 15 hours
Total time 16 hours
Allergy Tree Nuts
Dietary Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Dessert, Snack
Misc Freezable, Pre-preparable
Occasion Christmas
A rustic and wholesome vegan fudge cookie with the essence of the Holidays in every bite.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Buckwheat Flour
  • 3/4 cups walnut meal (walnuts ground up in food processor)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 heaped teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons almond milk or soymilk
  • 1/3 cup virgin coconut oil (melted)

Filling

  • 3/4 cups dark choc chips(vegan if preferred)
  • 2 tablespoons almond or coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil
  • pinch of salt

Note

Freeze these individually for a snack that can be eaten right out of the freezer.

Directions

Step 1
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Step 2
Combine all wet cookie ingredients in to a mixing bowl. Fold in the dry ingredients.
Step 3
Once all ingredients are combined by stirring, chill the dough 20 minutes in the fridge. Once you remove your dough that has been chilled, it should be firm enough to roll out.
Step 4
Roll out the dough, and cut into small 2 inch circles with a cookie cutter OR just hand drop into teaspoon -sized balls. The roll-out method produces prettier cookies, but the ball drop method is faster and easier, which is what I did.
Step 5
If you used the ball method, flatten the cookies a bit, and bake them on a parchment-paper lined cookie sheet for about 15 minutes.
Filling
Step 6
Combine filling ingredients in a double boiler, so the chocolate doesn't scorch, and stir over heat until all ingredients are combined and chocolate has melted.
Step 7
Chill the chocolate mixture 20 minutes, until it has the consistency of peanut butter and is thick enough to spread.
Step 8
Slather fudge filling on a cookie and top with another cookie.

 

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving was my Dad’s favorite Holiday. We were required to display the one dish he cooked each year: an  oyster-casserole  made with 2 sticks of butter, bread crumbs, and oysters. The table was not complete without rice and Gram’s homemade turkey gravy. There had  better be a praline topping, not  marshmallows,  on the sweet potatoes or someone would have a major freak-out.

We still have rice with Gram’s gravy, homemade pies, a turkey, the famous squash casserole, sweet potato casserole with praline topping, and enough collards for 15 people even though there will only be 5 of us.

I now understand Thanksgiving was my Dad’s favorite Holiday because it was spent celebrating his Family, his friends, and his life, and I appreciate this Holiday now that I understand.

I have an abundance to be thankful for in my life today. but what pops into my head at this moment is that I  am thankful for all the memories I have of Thanksgiving through the years :some in Louisiana with my Mom’s side of the family, some here in Savannah, and even one with my husband’s family in Virginia.

What are you thankful for on this day?

 

 

Pie Crust 101

If you go to the store and buy a pie crust for Thanksgiving I might slap you when I find out.

Really, friends, homemade pie crust is not a difficult or time-consuming process. You can make it tonight, so you have one less thing to do on Turkey Day! My recipe is flaky , golden, crusty, and buttery, much  like a puff pastry rather than a store-bought pie crust.

Got butter? Got flour? two hands?15 minutes?

This recipe makes a large pie crust that will leave you a ball of  dough leftovers that you can roll out to make cute fall shapes like leaves and apples with a cookie cutter to adorn your pie .

You can use a food processor, fork, or pastry cutter,  and you probably have all of the ingredients on hand. (If not, I will pray for you while you navigate the hell that is the grocery store today to fight  for  some butter…)

Here is the golden rule of pie crust-making: You cannot overwork the dough and must keep it very cold.

You also should prevent the  dog from stealing the dough ball off the counter while you are in the bathroom, as has happened to me at least twice in my pie-making life.

Let’s get started.

 

Ingredients:

2.5 cups flour

1/4 cup cornmeal

2 sticks cold butter

1 tsp salt

8-10 Tablespoons cold apple cider or ice cold water

Take the cold butter out of your fridge, and slice both sticks into 8  thin slices.

Meanwhile, put your dry ingredients into the large bowl or into your food processor bowl . If using the food processor pulse about 6-10 times, just enough to break up the butter in to small chunks. Be careful because it is incredibly easy to grind it up  to the point of graham cracker crumbs. That dough will be too tough. Uniformity is actually not a good thing when we are talking about pie crust flakiness, so the hand-cutting way is superior in my opinion.

Cutting In the Butter

If you are using the hand mix method,  start mashing with your fork or pastry cutter. Mash, mash , mash until those butter slice pieces become like peas. The entire mixture will look like small peas when it is ready. See the photo below.

Pour the ice cold water or cider into the mixture  and work quickly to combine with as little mixing as possible. (Using cold apple cider is a wonderful way to add a Fall flavor and bit of sweetness, but I typically only use cider in fruit pies. Cold water is an excellent alternative. )You can use your hands here to combine into a rough ball. This is where you want to work with the dough until it just barely sticks together and work quickly.The purpose of the cold is to keep those little pea-sized pockets of butter. When those warm up and combine with flour, your dough gets tough. More pockets of butter = more flakiness. If using a food processor, pulkse another 2 -3 times,a dn start mixing the dough with your hands from now on.

Mash the dough into a round, thick disc.Wrap it  in plastic wrap and chill 1-24 hours. If you are pressed or time, skip that step and go ahead and roll it out.

 

On the actual Turkey Day, all you need to do is roll that baby out, and voila!, pie crust to impress your family. When you do roll out the dough, you should see some butter chunks in there. If you have no rolling pin, try rolling the dough out with a drinking glass. I find it easiest to roll dough between two sheets of plastic wrap, which keeps the mess minimal and makes it simple to transfer right into your pie plate. If your dough starts to get too sticky or soft, stop, and put it in the fridge 15 minutes. Then continue to roll out again.

Flip your pie plate over on the crust to see if you have plenty of excess crust around all edges. Crust should be around 2-3 inches wider or more  on all sides around the plate edges.

Now, flip your crust into the greased pie plate and allow the excess to overflow.

You can trim the edges or fold under and crimp. I doubled the recipe so I could have a top and bottom crust, pictured below. Then I filled the crust.

 

 

Carefully flip the top crust, which should be fairly cold, onto the top over the filling. Fold and crimp the top and bottom crusts together and seal tightly  You could  make a pretty design with a fork, whatever floats your boat. I’m not fancy like that this year.

 

Trim of the excess dough and make three long slices down the center to create an air vent. Brush with one scrambled egg for  a golden sheen after baking or just use a bit of milk. Bake your pie as directed.

 

Happy crust-making! Let me know how it goes. It should be golden, buttery, and flaky.

 

 

Change

I like marching onward in life , and embracing change as it comes…..but please please don’t ask me to change my daily routine. Go DANCING on a Thursday night until 2 in the morning when I have to get up at 5 a.m.? Yeah right. Spontaneously put aside my scheduled blogging time or  workout time? fuggetaboutit.

I need to work on that. I don’t enjoy that last minute change. Old lady over here.

But bringing home more chickens?

I like that change.

I picked up five fluffy little chicks and brought them to their new heated home in our shed.The Orpington, which I immediately dubbed “Orpie”, is a buff color, and she is showing her behind in the photo above because she is camera shy. If you are curious about this breed, you can read more here. The other four speckled chicks are Barred Rocks, and you can read more about the breed here.  I can already see these breeds are much more calm than our Ameraucaunas, and I have heard wonderful things about both breeds as family pets in terms of their friendliness and egg-laying reliability.

Another HUGE change for us is coming in December (fingers -crossed). We are closing on a new home  and  if all works out, will be moving 2 turtles, 5 fish, 2 dogs, 1 kitten, 5 chickens ,5 chickies, and 1 man to a bigger and better yard! I cannot wait! I have been stuffing myself with too much food in anticipation.

Besides dreaming about the new house and not running much, I made this pumpkin butter and cannot help slathering it on everything.

This is the perfect gift to bring your new neighbors with a hunk of hearty bakery bread, or you can keep it all to yourself and spoon into your oatmeal, onto a sliced banana, bread, and even use it in a dessert.

Expect many delicious Holiday recipes on this  blog in the coming months,but  made-over to include nutritious ingredients and less sugar!

To Your Health

Lydia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Cool Weather Meal

I ran a marathon a few days ago, and last night  I honestly didn’t even want to stand up to walk to the bathroom, let alone cook. Can someone bring me a bedpan?

I enjoy the aches and groans of my muscles reminding me I ran freakin’ 26.2 miles. Truth be told Saturday November 3rd was an amazing day, the weather was perfect, and I had some gas left in the tank at the finish and great cheerleaders along the course. I had the pleasure of running with some wonderful ladies from C.R.E.W. for part of the race, and they kept me at a steady pace until I jetted off by myself for the last mile!

Marathons. Are. Awesome.

The training is the hard part.

But back to those the -last-thing-I want-to-do-is-cook nights like last night, coincidentally.

Lentil Dal is my absolute favorite recipe for those kind of nights because it is cheap, fast, delicious,  healthy, and vegetarian(though I am sure you could throw in some bacon).

Lentils are not especially exciting, I know.  Until a few years ago I cast a wary on on any menu item involving lentils mostly because I had never been exposed to them much. We were not Indian -food eaters in my family. Yet, last year something in me changed when I realized an ugly, dried up little legume can be transformed into soups and stews and patties and make you feel happy when you eat it with a thick slice of warm bread by the fireplace and a good book.

Dal can be made in so may different ways, but this one is incredibly light and fresh  and  not at all  heavy thanks to the lime juice and coconut milk.

Lentils are a protein-packed legume, fat-free, and each variety has a different taste and cooking time. My personal favorite lentil is the red one, which you can find at nicer grocery stores, and health-food stores. Red lentils cook lightning fast, and become soft and mushy when cooked, whereas the typical brown lentil you see at the grocery store has a longer cooking time and keeps it shape more when cooked. I think you could feasibly use any type for this recipe, but red would be the best.

Turmeric , which I add to my dal, is  a powerful healing spice. It  contains phytochemicals which have been shown to reduce the growth of cancer cells and lessen arthritis symptoms .

Lentils +turmeric+coconut milk+rice+chilly night+sore muscles+laziness=heaven.

This will  warm your body and soul. Enjoy.

Creamy Lentil Dal

Serves 12
Dietary Vegan, Vegetarian
Misc Freezable, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
This creamy lentil dal with coconut milk and lime juice will warm your body and soul on a cold night .

Ingredients

  • 3 cups red lentils
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • juice of 2 small limes or 1 large lime
  • 1 onion (finely diced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (diced)
  • 6-8 cups jasmine rice (cooked)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander (freshly ground)
  • 1.5 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 tablespoons coconut oil

Directions

Step 1
First cook your jasmine rice according to package direcetions, and set aside.
Step 2
Meanwhile, cook your lentils in 3 cups of water and 3 cups stock.Bring to a boil, reduce, heat and simmer 10-15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.
Step 3
In another pan, saute your onion in coconut oil 5-10 minutes until browned. Toss in garlic and saute for another 2 minutes.
Step 4
Stir in all the spices to onion mixture until well combined. Stir in lentils and a bit of stock if needed. Then add in coconut milk.
Step 5
Warm on medium to low heat and stir until well combined. Take off the heat and stir in lime juice.
Add more stock to taster depending how thick or thin you would like it.
Step 6
Serve over jasmine rice with a slice of lime.