Meat Pie

This is basically one big meat pastie, all of it’s homemade.  Good for one of those days when you don’t feel like doing much more than letting your food cook itself, and also another good filler for those cold nights.  Jess and I used to make casseroles and bakes when we weren’t up for anything strenuous. (Thinking of you, girl!)  It’s heavy and thick and tasty!  This is basically one of my creations, and albeit not always the -prettiest-, it’s of the yummy.

What you’ll need for the inside –

1 pound of ground beef (or meat of your choice)

1 tbsp of Beef base

1 1/2 Cup of hot water

 

What you’ll need for the crust –

  • 3 cups of Flour
  • 4 teaspoons of Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup of melted butter
  • So I always suggest starting your bread first, not that it takes long.  This is a yeast free bread that you’re going to use for the shell, so it’s quick and easy to put together.

    Add the dry ingredients and mix’em together, then add the butter and milk to the dry.  I use the dough bar for this.  Mix it for about 4 minutes or so, until all of the loose flour is gone.  If it’s sticky, add a bit more flour.

    While you’re doing that, start your ground beef and preheat your oven to 400 F.  You want to make sure that you mix it with about 3/4 of flour when you put it in the pan, this will cause the gravy effect.  Mix your beef base with your water, stir thoroughly and add it to the beef in your pan.  Make sure you’re cooking at about medium high to thicken it up.

     

    While that’s thickening, form the dough into a ball and place it into the pan of your choice.  I went with a round 8 inch glass bowl that works in the oven, about 4 inches deep.  Mash the dough down and form it to the inside of the dish, making sure you tug it over the edges like so:

    When the meat is thickened to the consistency that you want it (not too watery), add it to the shell.  There are multiple ways to close the top, and you don’t have to if you don’t want to either.  You’re also able to add veggies into it as well if you want, tonight I was lazy and just did a meat pie, plain and simple.  When you close the shell, make sure you pinch it tight, as the bread will spread once it starts cooking and you don’t want the filling all over the inside of your oven.

    Place in oven and cook for 25 minutes.  When you pull it out, it’s going to be hot so I’d suggest letting it sit for about 10 minutes before cutting into it.  While it sets, smear a little butter over the crust to soften it a little.

     

    Like I said, it doesn’t always look like a masterpiece but it’s tasty and gives you enough creative leverage to make it look anyway you please.

     

    Enjoy!

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    Simple Herbed Chicken Breasts

    So I was sitting on my couch exhausted this afternoon, chicken breasts in the kitchen thawing, with absolutely no clue what I was going to do with them.  It was “Clean the Kids’ Rooms” day and I was feeling more than  a little wiped out.  I had every intention of doing my usual parmesan chicken nuggets (which I’m only getting a little sick of) when I happened upon the show Cook Yourself Thin.  Now, this is not their recipe.  To be fair, I didn’t really pay attention to what they were doing, I just saw that they were doing an herbed chicken and it sounded good.

    I took three chicken breasts (the kids usually share one) and set them aside.  In a large dish I added olive oil, lemon juice, sage, thyme, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper.  I mixed that together well, and dredged the chicken breasts in it.  When the breasts were nice and covered, I let them sit for a while, just to let everything soak in just a touch.

    While I waited for the chicken to get cozy with all the ingredients, I went ahead and turned the oven on to 400 degrees.  I also sliced up some potatoes.  I’m not sure I’m even capable of making a meal that doesn’t include those delicious red potatoes anymore.  I might have a few issues.  I tossed the potatoes around with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary.  That’s really all there is to them.  Every thing is to taste.  If you don’t have (or like) rosemary you can easily add basil, or oregano, or thyme, or ROSEMARY, because rosemary is really really good.  Did I mention that I have issues?

    I popped everything into the oven, checking the potatoes after about 15 minutes, giving them a good stir (so they don’t stick).  The potatoes take about thirty minutes total.

    The Husband devoured it, because that’s what he does.  The four year old ate one bite and declared that he didn’t like it.  Apparently it couldn’t even be saved by ketchup.  He ate the potatoes, but only after scraping the rosemary off of them. The toddler devoured the potatoes, ate two bites of chicken, drank a large glass of milk, and asked for crackers.  That’s my girl.

    I thought it was wonderful.

    Simple Herbed Chicken Breasts

    3 – 4 Chicken Breasts

    3 TBSP Olive Oil

    1 TBSP Lemon juice

    1/4 tsp sage

    1/4 tsp thyme

    1 tsp rosemary

    2 cloves garlic pressed (or chopped)

    salt and pepper to taste

    In a large dish, combine olive oil, juice, garlic, and seasonings.  Dredge chicken breasts in mixture. When the breasts are fully covered, let them sit in the oil for 10 to 20 minutes.  Turn the oven on to 400 degrees.  Set the chicken on cooking pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until juices run clear.


    Chicken and Dumplings

    So I apologize for the quiet that has happened in the last few days, I fear the semester started and I have been focused mainly on getting settled into my classes. It doesn’t mean however, that I’ve stopped cooking! And after lastnight with a lovely dinner party consisting of me Lissa Angela (Fayne in spirit..we missed you love!) and a poor bedraggled boy we yanked along (Paco, poor poor Paco) I was reminded that we should be talking about what we are eating more often. The food last night was very good..simple but delicious and I’ll let Lissa go into detail (which btw Lissa is a big hint) so I’ll be talking about what I made the other night.

    It’s finally decided to get cold in our southern state around here and when it is cold I am drawn to thick stews, soups, and roasts to warm myself and my family up. So it was with that in mind that I decided to make some chicken and dumplings.

    What follows this is just basically what all recipes say about chicken and dumplings, but it’s my version of it and since I know I can make it I am fairly sure anyone else can do it as well.

    I took one whole chicken and cleaned it out and patted it dry. In the pot that I was using to do the whole thing in, I put some cut up onion (about a half of one) and a overly healthy addition of garlic (seriously I put at least a whole head in ) but I like mine garlicky so if you don’t scale back. I sauteed them until the onion was translucent and then I put the chicken in and covered it with water. To that I added four bay leaves, rosemary, sage, thyme and oregano in an amount that frankly made me a bit nervous. I then added salt and pepper and put it on in between medium and  high and let it boil for two and a half hours, covering the pot to keep it from evaporating..

    When I came back the chicken was easily pulled off of the bone with a fork, so I got the whole bird out of the water, and using two forks and a lot of pulling up of the big girl panties, I pulled off all the skin and tossed it, then removed all the usable meat from the bones and tossed the bones, after putting the meat back in. Then I added chopped celery and carrots, enough that it felt like a good ratio (this depends on the amount of broth and chicken you have in there, for my chicken I used four stalks of celery bite sized chopped and five carrots. And in it went again without the lid for another 2 and a half hours. By the way I can not stress enough to test the broth during this phase. I had to add a lot more salt and pepper, and some more garlic powder to mine during this to get it to the taste that I wanted.

    Once I made sure that the carrots were soft enough to be cut with a fork, I then took the one cheat of the whole process and made bisquick drop biscuits. They are easy, and when I think ‘dumplings’ they are immediately what springs to my mind.

    After I made the dumplings, I realized that the broth was too think for my taste, and so bisquick came to the rescue one more, I took two tablespoons, and a bowl, spooning some of the broth into it and mixed up a quick roux and put it into the broth to simmer for another 15 minutes before serving. I like my chicken and dumplings to be somewhere between stew and soup, so it came out perfect for me.

    The boys of course wouldn’t eat it. I ended up giving my picky eaters, a peanutbutter sandwich and yogurt for their dinner, but it warmed the adults of the house for a few days before we froze the leftovers for another cold snap.

    Personally? I enjoy mine with a nice little sprinkling of red pepper flakes on top. For a little zing with all that flavor. I hope you can make this for your cold days as well!


    Old World White Bread

    Fayne here!

    Okay, so I have a family favorite for all you carb junkies out there.  There’s no better smell than that of freshly baked bread when you walk into the house, especially when it’s nice and cold outside.  So, this is my Old World White bread for those of you out there that enjoy baking.

    What you’re going to need –

    2 packages of Dry Active Yeast

    3/4 cup of warm water (about 110 F)

    2 cups of lukewarm milk (scalded and then cooled)

    3 tablespoons of shortening (I use real butter)

    7-8  Cups of all purpose Flour (Half it with wheat flour if you wanna go a bit more healthy)

    3 tablespoons of Sugar

    1 tablespoon of Salt

    2 loaf pans 9×5

    And an extra set of little hands!

    So the first thing I do is make sure my water is at the right temperature by using a candy thermometer, when it’s between 105-115 degrees I add both packages of yeast to let it dissolve in your mixing bowl.  While its dissolving I scald the milk.  You don’t want it to boil but get to the point just before it does.  Let it sit until you can comfortably stick your finger in it (luke warm).

    Add your milk, shortening, sugar and salt and mix until it’s smooth. (I use a stand up mixer and the whisk attachment for this part.)  Add 4 cups of the Flour again, until smooth.  Switch the whisk attachment with the dough hook, add 2- 2 1/2 cups more flour and let it mix on low for 10 minutes.

    For those of you that aren’t lucky enough to have a mixer, flour the surface of your counter liberally and knead for 8-10 minutes until it’s nice and elastic.

    Roll the dough into a ball, oil the bowl and rotate the dough once in it to make sure it’s coated.  Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let it rise for an hour in a warm place or until doubled in size.

    Grease the loaf pans liberally with butter or no-stick spray. Separate the ball of dough in half, roll into a loaf shape and set it into the pan.  Brush the top with melted butter. Again, let it double until it’s about 2 inches above the edge of the pan (about 45 minutes to an hour).

    Preheat the oven to 425.  If you like a darker crust, brush with 3 tablespoons of water and one egg white and place into the oven to cook for 30-40 minutes (depending on your oven).

    Dump the bread gently, and tap the bottom. If it sounds hallow it’s done and if it doesn’t put it back in for another 5-7 minutes to continue cooking.  Pull out and let cool on a wire rack.  As it cools, brush the top with butter to soften the crust and voila!  White Bread Goodness that the whole family will love!

    Much Love and Happy Baking,

    Fayne!


    Quick and Dirty

    So the other night, I made Pioneer Woman’s BBQ Meatballs and I was going to do a little how much do I love these things (I have a few for lunch for days afterwards) but the cooking gods were not with me that night and I managed to over pepper both the meatballs and the mashed potatoes I made to go with it. The meatballs were totally my fault the mashed potatoes? was the pepper container’s fault. I really do loathe that container.

    Neither of them were inedible, everyone enjoyed dinner, they just weren’t…spectacular. I realize that part of this blog’s intentions is to put up the foils and failures as well, but really, when one of your favorite meals goes face down into a sea of bleh…well it takes a day or two to face it again.

    Last night, however, I did one of my favorite takes on a quick and dirty meal, an easy throw together that my family is big on. Really I know that this isn’t all that special or dazzling but you know what? some people never think of  doing all these things so I’m just throwing it out there.

    I buy a good jar of spaghetti sauce (I like Classico tomato and basil but your mileage and taste varies), get some of the tortellini from the fresh pasta section, and some sweet Italian sausage. It’s a generally big and filling meal, I cook the sausage separately because I like the caramelized spots  on the outside, boil up the pasta, heat up the sauce, toss it all onto a plate with a little Parmesan and while it is a lot more processed than I like..it’s quick easy and everyone seems to like it.

    Tonight however, I’m doing a familia favorite that I got from MFA Mama that we call ‘Mexican Casserole’ around these parts. This is another hit that everyone universally comes to the table for. Well nearly everyone, the boys eat this with various stages of success.  Now I double my recipe, so if you don’t have four people who want left overs to consider, half everything that I do

    Mexican Casserole (Pic to follow tomorrowish probably?)

    I take Three – Four chicken breasts, cut them up into bite sized pieces.

    Throw them into a pan and -heavily- season them with salt, pepper, garlic, cumin, chilli powder and cilantro.

    Turn the oven on to pre-heat at 350

    Add in two cans of re-fried beans and stir it up, let it simmer, while that is happening find your biggest casserole glass dish baking pan. It’s probably hidden in the back of the cupboard.

    When you come back out, pour in a can of enchilada sauce and stir it up, let it simmer.

    Get a spray can of pam, and spray down the inside of the glass dish and then put a layer of  tortilla chips, I’d start out with just covering on the bottom, if you like more do more next time!

    Then you take the whole glop from the frying pan and pour it on top of the chips. Pour another 3/4’s of a can of enchilada sauce on (I know I hate wasting that last little bit but I can’t help it, the whole thing is too much) and the cover with as much cheese as you like. I won’t begin to tell you how much cheese that is, we all have our own very deep and personal feelings about cheese.

    Put in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

    I then serve it with taco toppings, like salsa, sour cream, chips, avocado or black olives, and chips. Use it like a..nacho dish kind basically. I warn you it’s pretty filling so I only take a little, but it leaves good left overs that are nice to have throughout the week

    Of course you could make this all low fat (and I try to whenever possible though I admit to mixing some real cheese in with the low fat since the low fat sometimes melts weird without it) so it doesn’t have to be a terrible dish.

    But if you want to make it for company I’d go for all out, it is a treat after all!

     


    Pizza for the first time

    So Last night I snuck a kid free night over at Lissa’s (she being the only one amongst us without two tagalongs..though she loves ours enough to be partly responsible for them) and to celebrate my freedom and a few hours of relaxation before the new semester comes, I brought up the idea of a home made pizza and she jumped on it. Now she made the pie to go with the dinner so I’ll let her discuss that, but since I made the dough and we both agreed on toppings I’ll handle the pizza.

    For the dough, we used Smitten Kitchen’s Basic Pizza dough which I doubled, because I like a good thick bread-y crust. The recipe by the way was great, easy to use and the only complaint I had was that she didn’t have  a temperature listed for baking but we found one on her pizza updated so all was well. For the sauce, we sauteed some garlic and onions, poured in crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper and oregano, and then left it to simmer for 20 minutes while the dough finished raising. For our toppings we used bacon, Brown sugar ham slices, basil leaves (which were chopped) and a ball of mozzarella.

    Over all? It was a very yummy pizza! The sauce was a touch saltier than we liked, but that’s easily adjusted, and the dough was a great one for our purposes. I think we’ll try the updated one next time, just for a little bit of flavor to it, and perhaps another one down the line but we both really enjoyed it.

    I think we’re going to repeat this one again, we talked about doing a white pizza last night and there are some more ‘out there’ ones that I enjoy that I would like to try. Liss is not down for the bbq pizza but I think that it would be a lovely one to try at home with the boys here.

    Smitten Kitchen’s Pizza Dough

    Really Simple Pizza Dough

    Makes enough for one small, thin crust pizza. Double it if you like your pizza thick and bready.

    1 1/2 cups flour (can replace up to half of this with whole wheat flour)
    1 teaspoon salt
    3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
    1/2 cup lukewarm water (may need up to 1 or 2 tablespoons more)
    1 tablespoon olive oil

    Stir dry ingredients, including yeast, in a large bowl. Add water and olive oil, stirring mixture into as close to a ball as you can. Dump all clumps and floury bits onto a lightly floured surface and knead everything into a homogeneous ball.

    If you are finding this step difficult, one of the best tricks I picked up from my bread-making class is to simply pause. Leave the dough in a lightly-floured spot, put the empty bowl upside-down on top of it and come back in 2 to 5 minutes, at which point you will find the dough a lot more lovable.

    Knead it for just a minute or two. Lightly oil the bowl (a spritz of cooking spray perfectly does the trick) where you had mixed it — one-bowl recipe! — dump the dough in, turn it over so all sides are coated, cover it in plastic wrap and leave it undisturbed for an hour or two, until it has doubled in size.

    Dump it back on the floured counter (yup, I leave mine messy), and gently press the air out of the dough with the palm of your hands. Fold the piece into an approximate ball shape, and let it sit under that plastic wrap for 20 more minutes.

    Sprinkle a pizza stone or baking sheet with cornmeal and preheat your oven to its top temperature. Roll out the pizza, toss on whatever topping and seasonings you like. (I always err on the side of skimpy with toppings so to not weight down the dough too much, or if I have multiple toppings, to keep them very thinly sliced.)

    Bake it for about 10 minutes until it’s lightly blistered and impossible to resist.

     

    Our recommendations? work with the dough, push and knead it to get it where you want..make sure that you make it even, we had some thicker parts on the pizza that disrupted the even nature of it. Otherwise? delish!

     

    A delicious kid free dinner


    Welcome to the kitchen

    Welcome!

    This is just a small modest beginning, for what I hope will be a somewhat larger adventure. By somewhat larger, I mean that I hope someone reads this that isn’t obligated to do so out of friendship or familial ties. What is this modest beginning? Lately I and my friends (who are gracious enough to help and write here) have been creating wonderful meals in our kitchens, sharing recipes and techniques between us and trying new and exciting things in an attempt to make our kitchens achieve their potential. I wanted a place for us to record our triumphs and failures, to place our favorite recipes, to discuss tips and techniques, and to share those with others so that they might enjoy as we do.

    This is not going to be high cuisine, at least not all of the time, but it is going to be good food and hopefully good for you.

    So I am going to wrap up this post here with a little bit more hope. I hope that you all enjoy what you read, I hope that you participate in our discussion, and I hope that everything that comes out of your kitchen is good and flavorful.