Friday, July 18, 2014

Gluten Free Trial

I went in for a health check up on Monday, I've been struggling with achy joints in the morning, and persistent knee problems, as well as a general feeling that I'm not as healthy as I should be. The doctor suggested that the inflammation in my joints could be a food sensitivity and that doing a gluten free trial might provide some relief. This was not something I wanted to hear. As I told the doctor, gluten is the elastic that holds my world together! I love breads, cakes, cookies, crackers, tabboleah, kibbie, rye, barley, wheat, spelt, but most particularly bread. The doctor was actually laughing at how sad I was that I might not get to eat bread for two weeks. But as skeptical as I am in this, I am willing to try anything for two weeks.

Here's my thought--if I am going to do this, I'm going to do it right. I'm wiping things down to get any wheat off of things, cooking gluten free dishes, tracking down gluten free ingredients, and planning out menus that will allow me to eat as close to normally as usual without gluten. I worry that if I were to just go out and buy gluten free processed foods I would have a reaction to switching to processed foods from natural foods that would disguise any change due to the lack of gluten. So I'm going to make some dishes I've made before, and try to make sure no gluten sneaks in!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Simone's Pet Strawberry Pie

At last, after a month of cooking a variety of pies, here is the long awaited Pieathalon Pie swap pie recipe! I was assigned Simone's Strawberry Pie, which was simultaneously a relief and a disappointment. Having read through the archives of many a recipe swap I'd looked forward to a crazy vintage recipe combining strange ingredients in never before thought of ways. Of course, I hadn't looked forward to eating it, and this recipe produced a lovely pie that I've been happy to eat most of myself!

I will say that for a recipe that calls for Jello and a prepared pie crust this was remarkably tricky and I even used a shortcut not available when Simone wrote this recipe. Out of general squeamishness I used pasteurized egg whites since they aren't cooked in this recipe, and I had to whip up two batches to get them airy enough to fold into the egg yolk custard. I did make another change--because I'm bad at following directions, and jazzed up the pureed strawberries with some lemon zest. 

The eggs were the hardest part of the whole thing--cooking the yolks over the water bath without them curdling, then getting the whites beaten up enough to fold in. I used less sugar  in the whites, because the first time I added the sugar it deflated the whites. So the second time I added half as much sugar--which was plenty.

I was a big worried about the jello--the recipe called for strawberry gelatin, but no indication of the size of packet. The package I used was pretty small, so I worried it would not set up properly. This turned out not to be a concern, as the whole thing came together very well. In fact there was extra filling, more than could fit in the graham cracker crust. I figure that maybe the crust Simone used was bigger.


The filled pie goes in the fridge to set up. I left mine in there overnight because I wasn't ready to eat it after I made it, but it set up after a couple of hours. I topped it with sliced strawberries as directed, and served it with strawberry puree and whipped cream from a can. You can probably see the texture in the picture--it was super light and airy, with a good strawberry flavor.

One thing I really liked about this recipe was that the pie held onto the water and didn't leak liquid like other pies I've made. So it was good for several days after it was made, which is nice when it is just me to eat it over the week.

I was pretty lucky with this recipe from Jenny of Silver Screen Suppers--if you want to check out some other lucky bakers trying their hands at pie construction I listed the links at the end of the post!
Brian of Caker Cooking – Chess Pie
Mimi of The Retro WW Experiment – Nesselrode Pie
Erica of Retro Recipe Attempts – Curried Egg Pie
Jenny of Silver Screen Suppers –Mile-High Lemon Chiffon Pie
S.S. of A Book of Cookrye — Upside Down Chicken Pie
Sarah of Directionally Challenged Cooking –Simone’s Pet Strawberry Pie
Kelli of Kelli’s Kitchen –Butterscotch Pie
Ashley of A Pinch of Vintage –Schoolteacher Pie
Poppy of Granny Pantries –Black Bottom Pie
Carrie of Ginger Lemon Girl –Chocolate “Pie”
Emily of Dinner is Served 1972 –Seafoam Cantaloupe Pie

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Moroccan Chicken Pie

I love, love, LOVE the flavors of this dish--similar to the Chicken Tagine I made a while back. In fact, I made it even more like that dish by adding the olives and preserved lemon. This is out of one of the books I bought at the thrift store, and I was happy that I could find a savory pie dish that wasn't the same old thing.

    • 2 tbs butter
    • 3 lbs chicken breasts and thighs
    • 1 lrg onion chopped fine
    • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1 tsp ground ginger
    • 2 tsp ground cumin
    • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne or to taste
    • 1 tsp ras al hanaut
    • pinch saffon soaked in 2 tbs warm water
    • 1/2 c chicken stock
    • 1 c egg substitute
    • 1/2 c cilantro
    • 1/4 c chopped parsley
    • 1/3 c chopped olives
    • 1/2 chopped preserved lemon
    • 16 sheets filo pastry


    1. Melt the butter in a dutch oven, add chicken, onion, spices, and the stock. Add salt and pepper and cook until chicken is cooked through. Add the eggs and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is quite dry. Stir in cilantro, parsley, olives, and preserved lemon.
    2. Place first filo sheet on parchment sheet, and spray with cooking spray. Place another and another in a pinwheel pattern, spraying in between, until you've used half the sheets. Then add the mixture (it should be pretty dry, otherwise the liquid will ruin the dough) Fold the dough up around it, and top with more sheets spraying in between, tucking the edges under until you have a round pie. Spray the top with cooking oil.
    3. Bake in pre-heated 350 oven for 40-45 minutes or until cooked through and brown. I cooked it on a pizza stone, moving it on a parchment sling.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Baked Alaska Pie

This recipe comes from the same cookbook that I found the pie recipe for the Pieathalon exchange--the Lion House Cookbook. I found this vintage 1980 cookbook in the Deseret Industries so I feel all local pride to make this dish. Though I have to admit I only have one memory of going to the Lion House and not any of eating there, though I must have. Certainly if I did eat there, I never had this dish--I would remember something as distinctive as this pie! I followed this more in spirit than the letter.

Prepared graham cracker crust
ice cream
dessert sauce
egg whites
1/3 c sugar
cream of tartar

Put ice cream into crust, top with sauce (I used blueberry), and return to freezer. I did this a week or so ago, and then today I pulled it out and topped it with egg whites beaten into meringue, with the sugar, vanilla, cream of tartar, and salt. That went into a 500 degree oven for 5 minutes. It got a little burnt on top and didn't really cooked through.

It was pretty hard to cut, and while it tasted good, it was a less than impressive presentation on the plate. It was fun to do the meringue though, so I might have to do a lemon meringue pie soon!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Pot Pie

While I've discovered a love of cooking since the first of the year, I still haven't figured out a way to fit in cooking more than one or two days a week. I'm the worlds slowest cook, and have no energy after a long day of work to throw things together, plus I work two nights until 9:15. So every Sunday I cook one big meal for the rest of the week. This week I knew it would be pie of some sort--since it is pie month! I had two recipes in mine, and the one that won is a pot pie from a Rachel Ray cookbook I bought at goodwill. Buffalo chicken pot pie--with extra veggies!

The recipe is posted all over the internet--it was on TV after all. I used my book and made some changes.
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 large onion, chopped into bite sized pieces4 carrots, peeled and chopped into bite sized pieces
8 oz mushrooms chopped
half a head of cauliflower, chopped into fine florets5  stalks celery, chopped into bite sized pieces
3 roasted garlic clovesSAUCE4 tablespoons light butter4 tablespoons flour2 1/2 cups chicken stock1/2 cup hot sauce

Cornbread (the original calls for 2 boxes, but I made two batches of Cooks Illustrated Southern Cornbread)
blue cheese

First you cook the chicken in a pan, if you follow the original recipe you use a lot of olive oil to do so, and then once it is cooked, take it out and then cook the veggies. While the veggies cook you make a roux and then add the broth and hot sauce and let it cook until thick. I used the last bag of frozen stock--3 cups, but didn't end up using it all. Once the veggies are softened, the chicken is added back, and then the sauce poured on. I made so much that I put it in a pie pan and a 9x13 inch pan. Then covered it with the cornbread with the blue cheese mixed in. That goes in a pre-heated oven for 20 minutes or until the cornbread cooks through.

It turned out pretty good--I used part buffalo sauce and part another hot sauce because I ran out of the buffalo sauce. It has some heat, but with so many veggies and the corn bread it is tamed. The one challenge I had was that the cornbread cooked all the way through in the pie pan, but was under done in the 9x13 pan. I didn't realize this until I went to dish it out for work lunches. Well, it will be more polenta like! I am looking forward to a good week's worth of meals.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Blueberry Cream Pie

When I was younger, my mom used to make a no-bake cheesecake that she served with cherry pie topping. It was so rich that you could only have a small slice. I believe it had sweetened condensed milk along with the cream cheese, but I don't recall exactly. This pie is something like it, though less rich. I found this recipe in a Farmer's Market cookbook from my time living in Ohio. It has everything one could hope to find in a cookbook put together by neighbors--convenience foods that can be tossed together at the last minute to make a dessert for any church supper or potluck. I did find it somewhat ironic that a cookbook celebrating the bounty of the Farmer's Market had so many recipes calling for not fresh ingredients. To celebrate the spirit, if not the letter of this cookbook, I made the blue berry topping from scratch with fresh berries!

1 pkg softened cream cheese (I used Greek yogurt cheese)
1 c powdered sugar (I used abt 3/4 of a cup and might use less if I made this again)
1 tsp vanilla
lemon zest, lemon juice
1 container cool whip
1 prepared pie crust
blueberry pie filling

Mix cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and a squeeze of the juice, until smooth. Fold in one cup of cool whip. Spoon into prepared pie crust. Spoon pie filling on top and add more cool whip to cover pie. Chill.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Berry Parfait Pie--Family Recipe

Years ago, when my Mom was clearing out her cookbooks, I snagged a cookbook that had been compiled by my Father's mother's family. It is one of those self published cookbooks, similar to those put out by churches and other civic groups. It has the typical types of mostly 1950's type convenience recipes. I've not made anything from it--the only family recipes I have are my Mom's gazpacho and my Dad's Grandma's cheese sandwiches (not sadly, in this book). So for my Pie Month celebration, I decided to make a pie from the collection. I selected one called "Strawberry Parfait Pie," only since I didn't have strawberries I used raspberries.

1 3 oz pkg raspberry jello
1 1/4 cup hot water
2 c vanilla ice cream
1 1/2 c raspberries
1 9 inch baked pie shell

Dissolve jello in hot water, add ice cream, and stir until blended/melted. Chill until thick, but not set. Add fruit, and pour into pie shell. Garnish with whipped cream and more fruit.

I made half batch, in a 5 inch pie, because I wasn't sure how this would turn out and didn't want to waste the ice cream. I used sugar free ice cream and jello, and a home made vanilla wafer crust.

Surprisingly it didn't taste that bad, though it moved in an alarming way and the crust got a little soggy as liquid came out of the fruit. I liked that it was lighter than other pies I made so it was more like eating a fruit salad than pie. Plus I ate it with some fruit and a dash of whipped cream! I'm not saying I'd make it again, but I'm not tossing it out.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Impossible Leftover Pie

This past week I made a massive batch of sloppy joes for work. I thought they were delicious, with great flavor and loads of veggies. I based them off of this recipe and received some compliments, though they were apparently not to everyone's taste. Regardless, there were leftovers. So I brought some home and since it is Pie month, decided to use them to make a pie. Sound impossible? Ha! Just kidding--I'm using them to make a pie in the style of Bisquick's many Impossible Pies. I based it loosely off of a recipe from a cookbook for a broccoli pie. I just added spinach, the sloppy joe mix, ricotta, shredded cheese, and poured the bisquick/egg/milk mix on top.

Having just finished off a bunch of it, I can tell you there are two real impossible things about this pie--one is figuring out how long it needs to bake, and the other is eating just one piece! The recipe I used said to bake it for 30-35 minutes, but it ended up taking more like 50 minutes and even then it was a little on the soft side. As a leftover pie, this is a really loose concoction--more an outline than a recipe.


3/4 c heart smart bisquick
3/4 c milk
1 cup egg substitute
1/2 c ricotta
1/2 c shredded reduced fat cheese, plus more for sprinkling on top
8 oz frozen spinach defrosted and drained
8 oz shredded broccoli stems
3/4 c leftover sloppy joe mix
salt and pepper
steak seasoning

Basically the pan is sprayed with oil and then the ingredients mixed--I'd mix the bisquick first with the egg and milk to get out the lumps, and then add the rest. That goes in the pan, and cheese sprinkled on top, then it goes in the oven until it is done--at least 50 minutes. It needs to set in the middle and a crust forms on top. It was delicious--eggy, cheesy, with a good amount of veggies. I was surprised how little I could taste the sloppy joe meat. It probably could have used a little more of the steak seasoning and salt. Still a fun way to use up some leftovers!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Beet Galette

This was my most successful galette--with a good balance of filling and crust. I've not cooked with beets myself, so this was a new experience. I found the basic outline for this recipe here and made some changes. I used regular beets, and added some roasted new potatoes to extend it out. The dough was the best--I modified a recipe from Martha Stewart, using half butter and half Greek yogurt. I brushed it with egg white and sprinkled herbs and salt over it. It browned up very nicely!

Here is the recipe for the crust as I modified it. I found that putting it in the freezer after rolling it out, really helped to solidify the fats. I'm hoping to try the crust out this month with a different filling in a proper pie pan. I think reducing the salt would be called for if this was for a sweet application, and of course no herbs!
    • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
    • 1/4 c toasted oat bran
    • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
    • 1/4 c greek yogurt, whey drained
    • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk


    1. In a food processor pulse together all-purpose flour, toasted wheat germ, salt, and baking powder. Add cold, unsalted butter, and process until largest pieces are the size of small peas.
    2. With machine running, add low-fat buttermilk until dough just holds together.
    3. Pat into a disc, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour (or overnight).
    4. After rolling out, roll up in parchment and stick in the freezer for 5-10 minutes

Friday, June 6, 2014

Feeling Blue--A Blueberry Galette

For my first week of pie month, have mostly galettes. My second attempt at almost pie, I made a blueberry galette. I didn't really have a recipe--which is typical for me. I've been making blueberry sauce and thought I'd use some of that and some frozen blueberries with a crust made with a light butter. I added some Greek yogurt cream cheese, sweetened and thickened with some egg to the bottom. The blueberries released a lot more liquid than I anticipated, and it was sort of a soggy mess. It tasted good--particularly with a good amount of ice cream and blueberry sauce.

I hope I have better success with my upcoming fruit pies!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Galette--A Pie by Any Other Name

Galette was the Home Cooking Dish of the Month at the Chowhound website, and I thought I'd give it a try. I have to admit that before I saw it on there I didn't know what it was, I thought it was a cake! Turns out it is a free form tart/pie that can be savory or sweet. 

While I was intimidated by the pastry dough, I found a fun recipe at Smitten Kitchen I wanted to try. I didn't use her crust recipe, since the amount of fat in it was daunting to me. Instead I found a quick olive oil whole wheat recipe that promised to be low fat. It was ok, but not something I'll be repeating. The filling was amazing, though! I will for sure repeat the combination of zucchini, herbs, ricotta, feta, and mozzarella. 

I cooked it on my pizza stone, which gave a nice crunch. The only big changes I made to the filling was using more herbs--thyme and rosemary instead of basil. One thing I liked a lot was that it was good hot or room temp, and reheated well. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

June is Pie Month!

So I've gotten a little lost lately from the blog--I've been stepping up my physical therapy to try to fix my knees, and haven't had the energy to post. I have been cooking up a storm, lots of complicated projects and fun dishes. I may go back and post some, but I've been drawn back to the blog this June by pie!

A bunch of bloggers are participating in a vintage pie recipe swap--Pieathalon! I found a fun recipe in the Lion House Cookbook to send--Four-step Black Bottom Pie, which uses gelatin, which to my mind makes it plenty vintage! I'll be baking a strawberry pie of some sort and posting on June 30th along with a bunch of other bloggers. To get in the mood, I thought I'd declare June Pie Month. I thought about celebrating actual PI day on March 14th, but didn't make it. So this month I'll be featuring a variety of pies, leading up to the reveal of my contribution to the Pieathalon!

I should probably admit that I've only ever made one pie, besides pot-pie, and it involved a pre-made graham cracker crust and fresh peaches. This should be an interesting month of pastry making!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Cochinita Pibil--Mexican Pulled Pork

A while ago I watched a video on this dish, and while I've never tried it before, and never cooked pulled pork, I really wanted to try this. Partially for those two reasons--I really enjoy trying something new and different, and this has two new things for me to try. Plus it is basically served as tacos at the end--which I know I like, so not a big risk. I hadn't gotten to it for a while, because of the fear of the meat--what cut should I use? Will it be fatty? Am I going to gain a gazillion pounds from this dish? Anyways, I found a package of pork picnic roasts on sale at the store on Friday and that is the cut for this dish--and 4$ for 3.5 lbs, it was a deal I couldn't resist! So here is my attempt--we'll have to see if it makes me gain a gazillion pounds!

This is a recipe from Rick Bayless's Mexican Everyday with some variations, though I also drew on his longer recipe on-line.

1/2 package achiote seasoning
juice of one lime, half of one orange, half of one lemon
lime zest
3 lbs pork picnic roast
1 1/2 yellow onion, chopped roughly
4-5 garlic cloves
cumin, cinnamon, cloves, salt and pepper

This is actually pretty simple--if each step takes a while to work before moving to the next, it is much less work overall then I would have thought. First mix up the marinate--which is mostly just the achiote paste. I bought the paste a while ago, when I first started thinking about this dish, and it is an interesting flavor profile--it already has some spices in--I added more to get the flavor I wanted. It went into my mini blender with a couple of cloves of garlic, the lime zest, the lime, lemon, and orange juice, salt and pepper, some cinnamon, cloves, and cumin. This is blended smooth and poured over the roast.

It will stain your hands, so I put the roast (trimmed of obvious fat concentrations) in a gallon zip lock bag and then just poured the marinade in the bag over the roast, being careful not to get it on me. Then I can zip the top and really rub the marinate in. That goes in the fridge overnight or for up to 24 hours to really get the flavors in. My roast was actually two roasts in one package, so even more flavor can get into the meat.

When you are ready to cook the roast, toss half an onion roughly chopped in the bottom of your crock pot, then dump the roast on top and the marinade.The rest of the onion is sprinkled on top of the roast, and then I added half a cup of water to the bag to get the rest of the marinade out and poured that over the onions. I added a few pealed cloves of garlic to the sauce as well.

That cooks on high for about 6 hours, though I turned it over at about 4 hours and it was well on its way. I turned it down to low at that point for another three hours. Once it is done, I took the roasts out and put them on a plate with all the onions. Then I strained some fat off the top of the liquid, and reduced the rest to make a slightly thicker sauce. The meat is basically crumbling at this point, so I used my fingers to shred it and then poured the sauce over the pork.

The Verdict: This is a new flavor for me--sour and citrusy, a little sweet from the orange, but not spicy at all. It does go well with spicy, but isn't of itself very spicy. A little goes a long way in a taco shell, especially if you serve it with roasted veggies, as I did. Which will hopefully keep me from ballooning as I eat it all week!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Something Spicy--Mexican Chocolate Cookies

This weekend I went a little south of the boarder, and in honor of this, I decided to make a sweet treat to go with the meal. I found this recipe in a book I'd checked out of the library, Everyday Baking, by CookingLight I did make it a little lighter by using some sugar substitute and egg substitute. These are small cookies, but have a really good chocolate flavor, with just a little kick of spice. They give you that happy yummy feel.

5 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chopped
3.3 oz all purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
dash of freshly ground pepper
dash of ground red pepper
1/2 c sugar
1/3 c stevia baking substitute
1/4 c egg substitute
1/4 c butter softened
1 tsp vanilla extract

First get the oven heated to 350, and then melt the chocolate in the microwave. I ended up using half unsweetened chocolate and half semi-sweet, of a really high quality chocolate. Since this is so chocolate centered I wanted to highlight the chocolate flavor.

The dry ingredients are sifted into a bowl. The trick with this recipe is that a dash of the black pepper and hot pepper could be different each time--this time it was just right, a pretty generous sprinkle of both.

In a second bowl, the butter and sugars are creamed. I'm getting better at this and creamed it together for the 5 minutes the recipe suggested, until it was good and fluffy. Then the egg substitute and vanilla are beat in until smooth. At that point the chocolate should be room temperature--if not the butter will melt and the egg will cook, so don't put warm chocolate in! Fold it into the batter, and then gently fold the dry ingredients until just mixed.

This made a really thick batter--almost like a fudge, so it would be good to use a small scoop to portion out of about one tablespoon. They didn't spread much, so I was able to fit them all on two pans. They bake for about 10-11 minutes, and then set on the pan for another two minutes to set. I found them to be pretty soft, so you could possible cook a bit longer.

The Verdict: YUM! Just a hint of spice, just a hint of heat, the dark luscious chocolate is satisfying in just a small amount. I'm looking forward to enjoying these as part of my south of the boarder feast!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Thai Green Curry Sauce

Rather than purchasing a bottled sauce, I found two different recipes in my cookbook libraries to make a Thai Green Curry sauce. While the list of ingredients was sort of long, it is actually a pretty simple to make--as long as you have a blender and a good knife! It took me some time to find all the ingredients, but I really enjoyed my time at the Asian Market, wandering around, poking around the produce bins, peering at labels, and enjoying imagining what I could make with all these different flavors.

3 large poblano chillis
2 medium Serrano chillis
10 fresh green Thai chillis
2 stalks lemongrass
bunch thai basil
1 shallot diced
3 garlic cloves
1 tbs fish sauce
1 tbs grated ginger
1 tbs grated galangal
2 tbs chopped cilantro
4 kaffir lime leaves
ground black pepper

Depending on how hot you want this, you can vary which peppers you use. The little Thai chilis are super hot, so they go pretty far, which is why I used a milder, larger chili like the poblano. I deseeded the larger chilis and roughly chopped them--the Thai chilis went in seeds and all, just the stems came off.

The garlic, ginger, and shallot are peeled--and I used a microplane to grate the ginger and galangal. Everything else is roughly chopped and tossed with the fish sauce (the original recipe called for shrimp paste, which I didn't have.)

 I used my blender and pureed it into a very smooth paste. This is a complex sauce, not just spicy, redolent of so many different flavors. This can be used in a number of different dishes--I used it in two different ones.