Perfect Apple Pie

“Pilates?! Oh Heaven’s No.  I thought you said Pie and Lattes.”

Is there anything more enjoyable than an apple pie?

Apple Pie Recipe

Dough

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon fine salt

14 tablespoons cold butter, diced

1 large egg, 

2 Tablespoons Water (more if dough is dry)

Method: I make my dough in a food processor.  It may not be fancy, but I think it’s the easiest.  Blend Flour, Sugar, and Salt.  Add cold butter and pulse until mixture resembles a sand.  Add egg and water and blend until dough forms into ball.  Place in the refrigerator for one hour.

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 pounds baking apples like Golden Delicious, Cortland, or Gala (I used Cortland, probably anything will taste delicious).

2/3 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling on the pie

1/4 cup unsalted butter

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon all spice

Pinch ground nutmeg

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Method:

To start I cored and peeled the apples.  Then I melted the butter in a large skillet and added the apples lemon juice and sugar.  I cooked the apples until the sugar dissolved and liquid began to form.  I then strained the apples over a colander and collected the juice in a bowl.  I then returned the juice to the hot pan and let it caramelize and bubble up to a thick mixture. Once the liquid was bubbly and brown, I returned it to the bowl with the apples.  I then tossed the apples with the other spices. I took the dough out of the fridge and cut it in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll each half of dough into a disc about 11 to 12 inches wide. Layer the dough between pieces of parchment or wax paper on a baking sheet, and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.

Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Line the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan with one of the discs of dough, and trim it so it lays about 1/2 inch beyond the edge of the pan. I put the apple filling in the pan and molded it slightly in the center. Fold the top layer of dough under the edge of the bottom layer and press the edges together to form a seal (may be harder than it seems). i usually lattice my pies because I seriously think it is easier.  I didn’t this time and learned that latticing is in fact easier. Flute the edge as desired. Brush the surface of the dough with egg and then sprinkle with sugar. Pierce the top of the dough in several places to allow steam to escape while baking.

Place pie in the oven and bake for 50 minutes.  Invite everyone over to smell how delicious your home smells and be jealous.

The orchards in my town are beautiful.  I had so much fun picking the apples for this pie.  An enjoyable annual tradition.

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Mini Chicken Tostada Bites & 1 Year Anniversary

Mini Chicken Tostada Bites

So my one year anniversary of this blog occurred about 2 months ago. This whole working thing has put a real damper on my blogging but certainly not on my cooking.  I have a ton of post that have piled up on my phone that I’m waiting to draft. So…new posts coming soon!

In honor of my anniversary I’m posting one of my favorite appetizers! These tostada bites embody the whole “looks impressive isn’t impressive” notion that I love. They are a real crowd-pleaser!  Also, there are sooo many variations you can make with this.  Swap chicken for beef, or heck you can even make tiny dessert cups. If I made these again, I think I would add some diced tomato.

I stumbled upon this recipe on Pinterest. Usually I avoid these recipes cause they seem doomed for failure but this one definitely intrigued me.

Ingredients:

Tostada Cups

Flour or Corn Tortillas ( I found that an 8 inch tortilla would make 3 cups)

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

Mini Muffin Tins 

Method:

Preheat the over to 375 degrees.  If tortillas are cold microwave them for no longer than 20 seconds. Use a circular cutter (I may or may not have used the top of my margarita shaker) to cut out circular pieces. Once you have desired amount, brush each piece with olive oil.  Use a mini muffin tin (greased with cooking spray) and carefully place the circular piece into the tin. The Yummy Life does a far better job of explaining this process than I can ever do so please check out her site for all kinds of taco shell variations. I sprinkled some sea salt on my and popped them into the oven for 12 minutes.  They should easily slide right out.

Homemade Guacamole 

3-4 ripe avocados

salt and pepper

3 tbs lime juice freshly squeezed

2 large garlic cloves

1/2 cup small diced red onion

Hot sauce (to taste, definitely optional). 

1 tsp red wine vinegar

2 tbs cilantro 

Filling

Shredded chicken ( I used a store bought rotisserie chicken…works amazingly!)

Shredded Monterrey jack cheese (use any you would like)

Black Beans

Method:

Carefully layer chicken, guacamole, and black beans into the cups.  Sprinkle with shredded cheese.  Enjoy!

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Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins

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If you suffer from the curse of the brown bananas sitting in your fridge, I have the perfect recipe to cure your troubles. Brown bananas were specifically invented for baking…did you know that?  That may or may not be true, but there is no denying that their mushiness (mushyness?) is perfect for mashing into a batter.  Mash away! Oh yah, this is a one bowl recipe, so don’t fret about cleaning your sifters, your mixers, or any of those other appliances that makes me hate baking. 

Note: This recipe was adapted from http://www.forkknifeswoon.com/

Ingredients: 

3 medium ripe bananas

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 large egg

1/2 cup canola oil

1/3 cup milk (skim is fine, whole is better)

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar

2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder 

1/2 tsp sea salt

1-1/2 tsp baking soda

1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup miniature chocolate chips

Method:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, and line 12 muffins cups with paper liners. In a large mixing bowl, use a fork to mash up the mashed bananas, vanilla and egg until the mixture is completely combined. Add the oil and milk, and whisk to combine. Add the brown and granulated sugars, and continue whisking.

Then stir in the cocoa powder, and mix until the cocoa is completely incorporated. Add salt and baking soda, and then gently fold in the flour.

Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffins cups. Sprinkle the tops with the chocolate chips…and if you are daring, sprinkle some sea salt on the top for a saltier bite.

Bake the muffins for 14 to 17 minutes, until the muffin tops look set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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Eat these for breakfast, eat these for lunch, eat this for dessert…it doesn’t matter.

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Summer Tuna Pasta Salad

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Pasta salad has been a favorite of mine for years.  But sometimes it can be weighed down by excessive mayonnaise or sour cream.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about that, but sometimes a lighter option is needed.

Ingredients:

1 box of pasta

1/4 cup marinated artichoke hearts

1 bell pepper diced

1/2 cup black olives chopped

1/2 cup cucumber

1/2 cup celery

1/4 cup chopped pickles (I use gherkins)

1/4 dijon mustard

1/4 balsamic vinegar

1/2 red onion diced

1 can of tuna (drained)

Salt and Pepper

1 tsp Celery Salt

1 tsp Dill Weed

2 garlic cloves minced

Red Pepper Flakes (to taste)

Boil pasta until al dente.  Drain pasta and run under cold water until pasta cools down.  Allow pasta to dry slightly and then transfer the pasta into a large bowl and combine with all above ingredients.  Adjust the seasonings as necessary.

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