Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mom's Pie Crust!!!!

"For the foundations of the earth are the LORD's; upon them he has set the world."
1 Samuel 2:8
   Can you imagine how powerful He is?!?!?! is ANYTHING too much for Him??? Not only did He speak the world into being, He also made the foundation...the support and source of stability and strength!!!!
In building, there is nothing more important than the foundation. Changes in the environment can cause a house to shift  and be damaged, or even fall if the foundation is inadequate.With all the quality woods and materials we have access to, even superior craftsmanship and design will prove worthless if not built on a solid foundation.
In my life, circumstances change all the time. Unexpected things crop up and I realize that I am not in control. Before I knew Jesus as my Lord (meaning at the helm of my life....the One in charge), I turned to temporary fixes to give me the illusion of security.Those things ended up being a trap to me rather than the source of strength I had hoped they would be. I know someone who is trustworthy. He doesn't always answer the way I would like, but He is faithful to guide me through whatever comes and I don't feel the need to turn to something that will numb my heart or someone who will break it- I turn to God Himself and I am secure because He shelters me.
  In baking, there are few things more foundational than pie crust, but if the crust is not good, the whole pie runs the risk of being sub-par regardless of how good the filling or fruit is.
My mom was never all that interested in cooking, but she made a couple of things really well...pie crust was one of them and I have adopted and adapted her recipe over the years to be what I think is one of the best I've ever tasted!!!!!!
ummm- we had company over when I was photographing this recipe and this photo is devoid of salt and sour cream...and you only need the egg if you are making the "Pie Crust Cookies"...see below!) so this picture is almost worthless- sorry!!!!
You will need:
3 3/4 c. flour
1 heaping T.sugar
1/2 T. (yes a half tablespoon seems like a lot, but it really balances out a sweet pie!!)
1/2 t. baking powder
whisk all these together with your dough blender (or a whisk, but using the dough blender gives me one less thing to clean...and I can never get those 30 seconds back!!!!!)
This is my handy dandy Androck dough's been around the block and then some...and i find it irreplaceable!!!!
Cut in the butter and Crisco till the mixture is all crumbly....
1 c. very cold unsalted butter
3/4 c. cold Crisco(makes it really flaky, but you CAN use all butter!!!!!!)
then combine:
up to 2/3 cup ice water
(and enter-  the two "secret ingredients" mom said the vinegar really increases the flaky factor and you can't taste it, so I've taken her word for it and I have to say, this is a very flaky, tender crust!!!!)
1-2 T. sour cream
1 t. vinegar.
and add them to your crumbly butter mixture...over mixing makes a tough pie dough, so  steer clear of making it a smooth dough and go for something that just holds together!!!!
Then press it to form three discs and wrap in plastic wrap and chill a couple hours. At this point I froze 2 of them because I only wanted a bottom crust...i was using a buttery crumb topping (which I also HIGHLY recommend!!) But they make excellent "Pie Crust Cookies" if you brush them with a beaten egg and sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top and bake themmmmmmmmm till golden brown!!!!!!!!!(But I was good, and I did NOT do that!!!!)
I made an apple pie with my crust and will probably try a lemon pie later this week with one of the others...and I may succumb to the urge to make the cinnamon/sugar Pie Crust Cookies too....we'll see!!!!!
When you make a pie, roll out the dough and then put your pie plate on top to make sure you've rolled it big enough to cover the bowl....
then roll the dough back onto your rolling pin and drape it carefully over your pan...

Cut off any excess and make any repairs to the dough that occurred during one will see this bottom one, so it's okay- it'll taste good!!!!
An easy way to TOP a pie instead of a pastry crust is a crumb topping- here's a rough idea of what to do...
1 stick of softened butter
1 c. brown sugar (is there a better combo in all the world....not in MY book!!!)
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
use your dough blender again to get it nice and crumby!!!!! sprinkle it over your pie...and viola!!!!instant gratification!!!! Everybody who's tried this loves this recipe and it's easy as....PIE!!!!!!!
Hope this pie crust recipe makes it into your foundational cooking file

......and as for the rest of life's quandries...
"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. "
Hebrews 6:19
 There are still things that still cause me to fear, but God's love is the foundation of my hope and the strength. .I am learning to run to Him before I run anywhere else. He is a firm foundation!!!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Recipe for Deliciously Big Smiles!!!!

"Though you have not seen [Jesus Christ], you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an INEXPRESSIBLE AND GLORIOUS JOY" 1 Peter 1:8

So when your home schooled kids come home from church asking why everyone else has been on Spring Break tell them that since you had a baby and they took extra time off at Christmas that they won't be having any such luxury....then resume school as, DO NOT PANIC!!! The looks of disappointment will be overcome once they finish lunch and you announce that today is their day!!! Then pack up some homemade flat cookies (recipe later this week) leave the sleeping baby with Dad whilst he completes his assignments for his graduate degree, and grab some bread for the ducks and head to their favorite park!!!!! You will find kissable, delicious smiley happy faces on both of them....or at least that's how OUR day went down today...
Hold on TIGHT, Johnny!!!!!!!! Whoa!!!!!!

 "I'm going to tell Dad we had NO FUN at ALL!!!!!!!!!! Devious, I know!!!!!"
You actually never outgrow the thrill of the swings!

You spin me righCH round baby, righCH-round!!!!!!♪♫♪

Girls...always want to hug you!

...or TICKLE YOU!!!!!!!!!
They will be ALL giggles and laughter.........and there will be astounding wildlife!!!!!!!

Brave little turtle
 serene moments of peace and calmness.......
brief, but peaceful!
followed up with a huge burst of running, chortling and energy unmatched since the beginning of time- REALLY! You weren't there!! it was CRAZY!!!!!!!!!

but, see???? Did I tell you....DELICIOUSLY BIG SMILE #1

it is a NO-FAIL RECIPE  (I love to see those words!!!)....and the coolest side dish comes along with it....YOU will be filled with joy and they will tell you you're the best mom ever...and you'll have to agree....for the time being!!!!!!
It was a huge hit of a day!!!!! Then, sit back and enjoy watching Superman after dinner and think how quickly time flies and how you need to take more days like this and how you could just eat these little ones up- they delight me to tears...and laughter!!!!!!!!!!
Tune in later this week when we will be featuring recipes for cheesecake, flaky homemade pie crust, my absolute favorite "flat" cookies, and Almond Joy won't want to miss tomorrow's exciting episode of...
Short and Sweet!
See you then!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Excellent AND praiseworthy!!!!

"whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable— if anything is excellent or praiseworthy— think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me— put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."

So late last week I went to hang out with a couple of my friends. Can I just say, girl friends are so much fun!!!
We just "get" each other.
One of the biggest blessings I have been surprised by since becoming a Christian is the gift of friends. Seriously-it has been so huge for me to shake the terrible lie that other women can never be trusted....that says more about me than anyone else...sad, but true.
Thankfully, God hadn't written me off ... He chose to fill my life with wonderful women I can share my burdens with,confide in, giggle with and....COOK with!!!!

So, my sweet friend Leslie had our friend Karen and me along with my munchkins over for a "baking day"(....the song from Backyardigans haunts me in that title...."Baking Day! It's baking Day!Baking Day! It's baking Day!It's not Sausage-tasting's the day we BAKE!!!!"  - whew! I think theirs is "Racing Day" so I don't know why, but I'm glad I got that out!!!!).
So- Leslie makes the most wondrous splendiferous scones I have ever tasted....and...and... AND she shared the recipe with me- so I'm sharing with all of you!!!!!Sorry there are so few pictures of the process....we were chatting!!!!
So, here are Leslie's scones- they are noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable...see for yourself!!!!
 Leslie's Cranberry scones:

Preheat your oven to 400°

First, soak 1 c. dried cranberries
in a combo of:
1/4 c. O.J.
1/4 c. heavy whipping cream
1 farm fresh egg

The point of soaking the dried fruit in the wet ingredients to plump them up a bit....let's just say they may not be ALL that plumps up if you make this a recurring recipe in your morning routine!!!!These are sooo worth the splurge though! Enter - the dry ingredients:

2 c. flour
10 t. sugar (or 1/8 cup)
1 heaping T. orange zest
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t.baking soda
1/2 t. salt
for my 2 cents (Stephanie- how do you make a cents sign???Does anybody out there have a clue?)
I'm going  to add 1 c. of white "chocolate" chips (everyone knows they're not really chocolate, right?)

whisk together dry ingredients (including the chips if you're using them) then cut in:
1/3 c. cold butter cut in chunks
cut in till the size of small peas...then add wet ingredients - allow to sit a moment and then stir just to combine. Knead dough 7 X (Leslie says 6-8 times, but seven is the # of "completion" in the Bible, so that seems like a good, godly number!!!!)

Pat the dough into an 8" circle and cut into wedges.

separate on a cookie sheet....these babies won't spread, so you can easily fit a double batch on your pan if you're good with geometry....probably even if you're NOT (like ME!!!!)
Brush with cream or a beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Bake the scones for 12-15 minutes- watch carefully- you don't want them to be dry, just barely golden!!!!

(this part is Fat-free, so don't feel any guilt whatsoever about the glaze!!!!)
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 T. O.J. (see!!!- i would even call this "HEALTHY"!)

serve these warm out of the oven with mmmmMarmalade Butter (NOT a fat-free food! .....that pretty much goes for everything I make so count this as my all-in-all other words be sure to always read the fine that was a looong parenthetical statement now wasn't it?!?!?!)
sorry- we were ALL fingers ans forks when the scones came out and I got this after we'd eaten most of it!!!

Marmalade Butter:
1 stick of soft butter mixed with 3 T. marmalade...or whatever kind of jam you have on hand, or even  honey...
However, if you do substitute, throw some citrus peel into the mix- it really tastes fresh and delish!!!!!

can you just see the "it" factor in these????
  of you make these, you will be as happy as Jill's cat in this video!!!!!

Now that I have seen, I will put into practice what  I've learned....all silliness aside, though, Leslie has exemplified the idea that a true friend "loveth at all times". Her friendship is of greater worth than gold or rubies....or, in this case, more than cranberries!!!!!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Cake Pops!

" How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!"
-Psalm 119:103
There is something richer, sweeter, and far more satisfying than anything I could put IN my mouth!

That God's words would pour out of my mouth from the overflow of this grateful heart is my sincere desire.
I am so aware...especially now that I have kids, how powerful words can be. Kind words and encouraging words have strength to build and nurture greatness, and harsh, bitter words are as destroying as a sock in the jaw!

The book of James says this, "We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check."(wouldn't THAT be nice????)" When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal." If we could really grasp the far-reaching effects of our words and hold our tongues, i think we would have it DOWN!!!!! I am certainly not there!!!
However, today- instead of a bit in my mouth, how about something SWEET?!??!

I went to a baby shower recently and they had the cutest little OWL Cake Pops! I decided then and there that I wanted...needed to make some cake pops of my own.So in honor of  the fact that it's rainy and cold outside, I decided TODAY IS THE DAY!!!!!

Basically, it's just a cake that you bake, crumble up, mix with frosting and dip in melted chocolate or candy!
It sounded simple and fun, and you can use a cake mix and a can of storebought frosting, but I just couldn't see myself doing THAT!!!!!!

So I began with a homemade butter cake and buttercream frosting....
Yes- this is a completely incomplete assortment of ingredients!!!!Sorry!
 Here goes:
Start with a cake of your choice and cut it in pieces to make crumbling easier:

Blend it in the blender or food processor or just give it a good crumbling if it makes you feel better.

Mix it together with half a cup of frosting .

and up to another half a cup to make the mixture the consistency of a thick, fudgey truffle
then roll it into balls....don't be too prissy to get your hands sticky now!!!!! They should look like this:

Refrigerate cake balls till firm.

Dip your sticks into the melted chocolate and insert them into each cake ball. Let them get cool-  this helps them stay put!
 Finally, dip the cake balls into the chocolate mixture and sprinkle with fun stuff!!!
Okay- I didn't have a picture of the melted chocolate, but I thought you might enjoy this one in its place!!!!!

 and EAT "EM UP!!!!!!

.Next time I may make cream cheese frosting and mix in some crushed Oreos to make kind of a "cookies and cream" cake filling - that sounds good, or red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting mixed in, or lemon cake with lemon curd and cream cheese....or maybe German chocolate with coconut frosting or?????The possibilities are endless!!!!
Check out this website for cute decorating ideas.....

In the meantime,this is my prayer-
"Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips."
Psalm 141:3

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mary's night to make dinner!

"the older women [should] be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger be self- controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no-one will malign the word of God."

God has brought many wonderful women into my life to sharpen, encourage and support me. Some who are barely older, whose children are older than mine and who reassure me in my frustrations and come alongside in my doubts. Others are women who are a generation older who can see the big picture better and the grand scheme of things- who show me how to let little things be little things!!! I am so grateful for their mentoring influence in my life!
As for teaching the younger- well, at this point, my main obligation ( and privilege) is trying to raise  my daughter !!!! While she is very capable, she is also very opinionated and very much like me! She wants to do things herself , her own way, and she thinks she has mastered every new challenge at her first attempt. Did I mention she is like me??? Oh dear!!!!
We really are so much a like that I easily empathize with her and anticipate her reactions more than anyone else on the planet. She has recently taken a huge interest in helping me with meal preparation and making side dishes and desserts on her own. So tonight is her big debut at making the main course for dinner. The recipe is for cheeseburger pie- YES- she picked it out of a cookbook she got for Christmas this year.

 Here is how the process goes:

Tirelessly grate a generous cup of cheddar cheese....

like so....and then gather some of your other ingredients:
1 lb. of ground beef
1 onion finely diced
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. Bisquick (see substitute we used below because we don't have Bisquick!!!)
1 c. milk
2 eggs
First saute the onion in a little butter (like 1 T. or so).....just till it's tender-

remove the onions from the pan and add your beef...
break it up with lots of water- you don't want any huge chunks....Once it's cooked, drain off the fat and water and return the onions top the pan- sprinkle with 1/2 t. of salt and stir thoroughly!
Now make your Bisquick "crust" mixture with the milk and eggs...(in place of the Bisquick, we used
1/2 c.regular flour + 1/4 t. baking powder and 1/8 t. baking soda and a pinch of salt)
Now you are ready to layer your ingredients- begin with the beef/onion, then the cheese and finally pour over the Bisquick mixture then bake in a 400 ° oven for about 25 minutes or until golden .

In MY oven, 22 minutes would have been better, but you live and learn!!!! We all enjoyed Mary's dinner and she served it up with mustard (just for me) ketchup, and pickles!!!

When all was said and done- we were full and there was nothing left of her Cheeseburger pie!
What a blessing to have a little sweetheart who can take over a meal every now and then!!!!
Did I mention how I adore my helpful little girl????? Oh I DO!!!!!!!!!!!