Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sweet Buttery Pie Crust





















Sweet Buttery Pie Crust

Ingredients:

8 oz. (1 cup/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold water

Directions:

Cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes.
Put the flour, sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the plastic blade.
Add the butter.

Pulse the mixture until the mixture is crumbly and the larger pieces of butter are no larger than a pea (about 1/4 inch). 

Pulsing as you add, drizzle in the cold water and continue to pulse until it pulls together loosely. 


 If you don't have a food processor, don't be discouraged, you can still cut in the butter the old fashioned way and drizzle in the water while you stir.


Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin.  Divide the dough into halves.  Taking one half, shape it into a ball and pat it into about 1/2 inch thick.  Sprinkle flour over the stop.
Using your rolling pin starting in the center, working outward, roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness.


Move the disk to the side and reflour your worksurface.
Turn the disk of dough over, dust lightly with flour and continue rolling to about 12 inches in diameter.
Turn the dough frequently a quarter of a turn making sure it isn't sticking to the work surface.  Reflour as necessary to prevent sticking.

Fold the dough in half and gently lay it in your pie pan and unfold.  Fix any cracks that may occur.  Trim the edge so you have about 1/2 inch around the edge of the pan.


Roll the remaining dough ball out in the same manner.
You can use the disk of pastry as the cover for your pie filling or you can use a pastry cutter or a knife, cut strips of dough about 1/2 inch wide to prepare for making the lattice.



If you have left over pie crust dough, like I usually do, make these little Pie Crust Bites with cinnamon and sugar.  It's easy. 

Just roll out the remaining dough and spread with soften butter, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and roll up and slice. 
Put little rolls on a baking pan and bake along with your pie. Check them often and when the are golden, remove them from the oven. They will disappear quick as a flash!

.....and that my friends, is What's Cooking at Cathy's ~ Enjoy!

Fresh Peach Pie

I am so not a summer person.  I despise the triple-digit temperatures we've had this year. 
The only saving grace for me for summer is the fresh fruit and vegetables.  I frequent several farmers markets for my stash of fruits and veggies.  Best of all it is peach season!  Fresh peaches are my all time favorite fruit and not always is the crop good.  However, both last year and this year have yielded some wonderful fruit.
I like them sliced up and sugared served with home made ice cream, in pie, used as an ingredient in home made ice cream or simply eating them out of hand on the deck to keep the sweet sticky juice out of my kitchen! 

Head down to your local farmer's market and get some fresh peaches to try out this peach of a recipe!

Fresh Peach Pie

Ingredients:

5 cups of peeled, sliced peaches
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar 
Pastry for Double Crust Pie (9 inches)  - Use my Sweet Buttery Pie Crust Recipe or your Favorite
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon butter

Directions:


In a large bowl, combine the sugars,  Add the sliced peaches and gently toss together.  Cover and let the peaches stand at room temperature for one hour.
While you wait, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. and mix up the pie crust.  Line a 9 inch pie plate with the bottom pastry.  Set aside.
Drain the peaches, reserving the juice.
In a medium sized, heavy saucepan, combine the cornstarch, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt.  While stirring with a whisk, gradually add the reserved peach liquid.  Continue to stir, bringing the mixture to a boil.  Cook until thickened, about 2 minutes.  It will look like a thick caramel or like gravy gone wrong, but that's okay.
Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and butter.
Gently fold in the peaches, mixing to combine well.
Turn the peaches and filling into the pie crust.


Roll out the remaining pastry and cut into 1/2 inch strips for a lattice crust.  You can use a fluted pastry cutter for pretty edges or use a knife. 

If you haven't made a lattice crust, check out You Tube for demonstration videos.  It's really easy once you know how it is done and it makes such a lovely pie.


Fold the strips under and crimp the edges of the crust.


Using strips of foil, cover the edges of the crust.
Bake in a 400 degree F. oven for 50-60 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly.
Remove foil.
Cool on a wire rack.

...and that is What's Cooking at Cathy's ~ Enjoy!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bacon Caramels

Bacon, Bacon, Bacon....I LOVE bacon.  I also love caramels and this is a match made in heaven!

If you are a bacon lover or know someone who is, I guarantee you that these will be a big hit!  Providing samples with the ingredients "undisclosed" (because there are those who will be skeptics) result in rave reviews.

I cut these in small squares, probably 1 inch by 1 inch and wrapped them in waxed paper.  I think these would be wonderful cut in smaller pieces and added to Cheesecake Ice Cream (appearing later in the blog).

Bacon Caramels

Ingredients:

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup butter
1 cup heavy cream, divided
1/4 cup maple syrup
12 strips of crisp cooked  bacon, crumbled into pieces

 
 
Directions:
 
  1. Thoroughly butter an 8x8 Pyrex dish and set aside.
  2. Set aside 1/2 cup of the heavy cream.
  3. In a medium saucepan (non-stick of you have one), combine all remaining ingredients except the bacon.
  4. Cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally until temperature reaches 240 degrees F.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 1/2 cup cream.
  6. Return the plan to the burner and continue to cook to 245 degrees F.
  7. Immediately remove from heat and stir in two-thirds of the crumbled bacon.  Mix well.
  8. Pour the caramel into the buttered dish.
  9. Top with the remaining crumbled bacon. 
  10.  Let set for at least 3 hours before cutting.  In the heat we've had this summer, I'd also recommend refrigerating these after they have cooled to room temperature.
.....and that is What's Cooking At Cathy's ~ Enjoy!



Sunday, August 14, 2011

Homemade Butterfinger Candy

Do I have your attention?   I know when I saw another blogger post this recipe, I knew that I absolutely had to try it and share it with you.
I like many different candy bars, but when I buy Halloween candy, I always make sure I have Butterfingers and I usually hold those back until the end, so if I have leftover candy, well....I have something that I like.  There's nothing wrong with that is there??

To make this recipe, you will need a good candy thermometer.  When you make candy having an accurate temperature and controlling the heat so you don't burn the sugar mixture is key.
I know there are new fangled candy thermometers available, but I use the one I've had for the last...cough..ahem...30 years or more and it works just fine.

Because of the need to mix the ingredients quickly, it is essential to have everything measured and prepared and ready to go before starting to cook.  Because the candy is cooked to nearly hard crack it sets up very quickly and you have limited time to stir things together and get them into the pan.  Because of the time constraints,  I have only a few photos.  There just wasn't time to stop the process to snap any pictures. 

I won't lie, getting these bad boys out of the pan wasn't easy, even after liberally greasing the pan as stated in the recipe.  You have to chip away at a corner so you can get enough leverage to pry the entire slab out of the pan and then cut it on your cutting board with long bladed chefs knife.

The extra effort is so worth it.  Be sure you hang on to all those wonderful crumbs because the candies can be crushed and mixed in with good quality vanilla ice cream for a wonderful creamy treat.


Homemade Butterfinger Candy

Ingredients:

1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup (heaping) chopped bittersweet chocolate (chocolate chips work too)

Directions:
  1. Butter an 8-inch square pan and set aside.
  2. In a small, microwave-safe bowl, combine the peanut butter, vanilla and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a very clean medium saucepan combine the sugar corn syrup and water.  Combine those ingredients and remove any grains of sugar from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush wet with water.
  4. On medium-high heat, cook the sugar until it reaches 290 degrees F., just under hard crack.  While the sugar cooks, warm the peanut butter mixture in the microwave for 30 seconds.  (I did this when the temp was about 280 degrees F. so it was ready to mix in.)
  5. When the sugar has reached 290 degrees, quikly add the peanut butter mixture and stir to combine.  The mixture thickens quickly (can't emphasize this enough) so once combined put the mixture into the buttered pan.
  6. Let cool beirfly for a few minuteson a wire rack.  Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top and let sit for a few minutes.  Using the back of a spoon, spread the chocolate evenly over the peanut butter candy.  Please the pan in the fridge to set for about 30 minutes.
  7. After cooling, run a knife around the edge of the pan then invert.  The candy should pop out.  Mine didn't, and I needed to get my three tined "granny" fork under the edge to pry it out.  Once I did that, the entire slab popped out just fine.
  8. Cut the candy into the desired shapes.  Keep any crumbs to use as mix ins for ice cream.

  


and that my friends is What's Cooking at Cathy's.....Enjoy!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Cheesy Chicken Lasagna

Have you been looking for an alternative recipe to lasagna made with ground beef?   If so, look no further and give this one a trial run. I think you'll find it a nice change of pace and a hit with your family.  It would also make a nice buffet option to have as an alternate offering along with regular lasagna if you are hosting a large gathering. Make both ahead of time and pop them in the oven together and bake.

This recipe has been buried in my folder of recipes that I want to try "someday" for over a year now. I consider it occasionally but something else always tends to edge it out of the running.  I was struggling for something to fix that would result in leftovers for lunch (I do that a lot) and pulled this out and gave it a try.  I did a little planning ahead and cooked and chopped the chicken breasts and also shredded the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese  ahead of time and stored them in baggies in the fridge until I was ready to assemble the lasagna. 

For those of you who have made homemade lasagna, you know that there is an assembly process and you end up with a lot of dirty dishes.  Thank goodness for the invention of dishwashers!

The recipe makes quite a bit, so if you have a smaller family, you may want to consider making half a recipe in a 9x9 pan  or make the full recipe, split it into two pans and freeze one.  Or, if you are like me and like to have leftovers for lunches during the week, you will find that this dish reheats nicely in the microwave for single servings. Trust me, you will enjoy your lunch and you will make your co-workers envious of your plate!

If you are a diehard spinach hater, don't be put off by the spinach that is in the recipe, just make it without and it will be equally as good.
Here is the recipe, so ladies and gents, tie on those aprons and start your ovens!  This is a great recipe and I'm sorry that I have ignored it for so long!

Cheesy Chicken Lasagna
Yield: 12 servings

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups milk
4 cups (16 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 carton (15 oz.) ricotta cheese
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
9 lasagna noodles (8 oz.) cooked and drained (I cook a few more because I always manage to have one or two that ends up in pieces)
2 packages (10 oz. each) frozen spinach, thawed and well drained (squeezed dry)
3 cooked and chopped chicken breasts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a saucepan (non-stick will make cleanup easier), melt the butter over medium heat.
Sauté onion and garlic until tender. Stir in the flour and salt; cook until bubbly.
Gradually stir in the broth and milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute.
Stir in 2 cups mozzarella, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, basil, oregano, and pepper; set aside.


In a bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, parsley and remaining mozzarella. Mixture will be dry. Set aside.

Start building the dish by spreading one fourth of the cheese sauce into a greased 13x9x2 baking dish; cover with 3 of the cooked lasagna noodles.











Top the noodles with half of the ricotta mixtures and half of the spinach and half of the chicken.

Cover with one fourth of the cheese sauce and layer on three more noodles.  Repeat the layers of ricotta mixture, spinach and chicken and one fourth of cheese sauce.  Cover with remaining three noodles and top with remaining quarter of cheese sauce.

Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. (I had additional mozzarella and added it to the top also.)
Bake uncovered in a 350 degree F. oven for 45 -60 minutes. Keep an eye on the top to make sure it doesn't over brown.

Let stand 15 minutes before cutting.


 
Serve this dish with a nice side of green veggies or a big crisp salad.  I served mine with a side of dry fried green beans with pancetta.  I think I'll head to the fridge now for some leftovers!

...and that is What's Cooking at Cathy's ~Enjoy!





Sunday, August 7, 2011

No-Knead Bread

I was given this recipe by the manager at the Le Creuset store in Leawood, KS.  The recipe originated from the New York Times.  Regardless of where it came from,  I have been using my cast enamel French Oven and have been making amazing bread from this recipe.

This recipe takes some rise time, so plan ahead.  If you like artisan breads with the crisp crust and texture of a Tuscan loaf, this is your recipe!  You will never pay $4 a loaf again!

No-Knead Bread
Yield: One 1 1/2 pound loaf

Ingredients:

3 cups all purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or what Bran as needed
1 5/8 cups water

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast and salt.  Add 1 5/8 cups water and stir until blended.  The dough will be shaggy and sticky. 

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature (about 70 degrees).
Dough is ready when the surface is dotted with bubbles.
Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it. 
 Sprinkle the dough with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice (no more, remember this is a no-knead recipe).  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface and your fingers, gently and quickly shape the dough into a ball.  Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal (I used cornmeal because I like the finished results.). 
Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours.  When dough is ready, it will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.


At least 30 minutes before the dough is ready, heat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Put a 6-8 quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in the oven as it heats.  When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven.  Slide your hand under the towel and turn the dough over into the pot, seam side up.  It may look a mess, but that is okay.  Shake the pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed, it will straighten out as it bakes. 

Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes.  Remove the lid and bake another 15-30 minutes, until the loaf is beautifully browned.  Cool on a rack.


 Get out the butter and slather it on while it is still warm and indulge yourself!



Enjoy!


Friday, August 5, 2011

Good Stuff



I know, I know...you are probably saying to yourself what kind of name is that for a recipe.  Well, you are probably right.  We had this frequently when I was growing up, probably because it was inexpensive, simple ingredients, easy to fix and good.  I think the official name is Hamburger Casserole, but we called it "Good Stuff" and I think that is more appropriate because that is exactly what it is....Good Stuff and it is one of my "comfort foods".  I hope you give it a try and enjoy it!


Good Stuff (Hamburger Casserole)
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cans of green beans, drained
1 can of cream of tomato soup
1/2 soup can of water
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Brown ground beef along with chopped onion in a large skillet over medium high heat.
Drain any excess fat
Add drained green beans, tomato soup, water, salt and pepper.
Stir, mixing well.
Simmer covered for 15 minutes.


We always had biscuits with this recipe, so you might want to bake a pan while the Good Stuff is simmering on the stove.

That's What's Cooking at Cathy's!  Enjoy!

About Me

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My career is in IT.  Cooking and photography are among a few of my hobbies. In my spare time, which is most weekends I tie on my apron and exercise my creativity by trying new recipes and adapting them to my tastes. I also have a passion for photography that I incorporate by taking photographs to go along with the recipes I post on my blog.  
I also enjoy travel, both near and abroad. Meeting new people, new experiences and cultures and oh, not to mention the food! I hope you enjoy my blog.