Friday, August 28, 2009

Grandma's Apple Pie and a Favorite Kitchen Gadget

My grandma made the best apple pie. Ever.

As a little girl, I spent many hours in her kitchen "helping" her bake pies and cookies. Grandma saved the little metal tins that potpies used to come in, and would give me and my sisters the leftover dough to make our own mini pies.

I loved spending time with my grandma, and I know my husband is especially grateful that she taught me how to make a good pie! ;-)

I remember staring, fascinated that my grandma could peel an apple in one long, thin spiral. I never could. Still can't.

In fact, I dislike peeling apples so much, that years ago, I made a trade with my sister. I gave her a Pampered Chef stoneware baker that I was never going to use, and she gave me her Pampered Chef apple peeler/corer/slicer that she was never going to use. It was a happy trade!


Although Grandma always used Macs, I purposely buy Granny Smith apples so I can use my nifty gadget. You need a nice firm apple, or else you'll end up with applesauce! ;-)

Grandma also always "dumped" her sugar over her apples. Some recipes call for stirring the apples together with the sugar and spices, making a syrup. I don't think that method turns out the same pie... so, Grandma's dumping method is mine. :-)


Grandma was also a butter and cholesterol girl. lol. Had to place 4-5 pats of butter on top of the apples. If you knew my grandma, you'd know that my pats are much smaller than hers. :-D



Mmm, yeah. Grandma's pies were the best.

I must *shamefacedly* admit that the pie in the pictures was made with a storebought crust. But, I will still share Grandma's pie crust recipe with you.

I will share her recipes exactly as they are written on my recipe cards from her. No instructions on the pie crust. I'm sure she couldn't imagine that someone didn't already know to make pie crust by blending the shortening into the flour and then adding just enough water to form a dough... I can still hear her voice, "Don't overwork it! It'll be tough!"

So, here is the recipe for my Grandma's Apple Pie:

Pie Crust (2 crust pie)
2 cups flour
3/4 cup Crisco
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4-1/3 cup cold water

Apple Pie
5-6 apples (peeled and sliced) (I tend to use all but 2 apples in a 3-lb bag...my husband likes a LOT of apples in the pie!)
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
butter

Prepare pie crust. Heap apples into crust. Sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Dot with butter.

Cover with top crust. Cut slit for steam.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.


Mmmm, eat and enjoy!

Recommend: YES

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My First Chicken Curry and Homemade Naan

This post is dedicated to my dad, who loves all things Indian. :-)

When I was in college, he took me to an Indian buffet and I thought it (whatever it was that I ate) was delicious. But, I've never gone again. No real reason, except that I don't live near my parents...and, I don't know of an Indian buffet around where I do live.

Nor have I ever attempted any "Indian" food at home.

Until the other night.

When I saw Kristen's Chicken Curry and Homemade Naan recipe, I thought, "I can do that! That looks easy...and yummy."

So, I bought some curry powder and coconut milk...and YUM!!


*Naan is leavened, oven-baked flatbread*


The flavor was fantastic! And, I was quite impressed with the naan! I didn't follow Kristen's directions for that - I made the dough in my bread machine...and don't have a griddle, so "grilled" up each piece in a nonstick skillet.

If you've never had curry, this one is really simple (I also used leftover chicken instead of cubed boneless, skinless chicken breasts) and tasty!

I LOVE trying new recipes, but I would not call myself an adventurous cook. Making CURRY and NAAN was definitely out of my normal comfort zone, but I'm soo glad I made it. I will make it again...and, perhaps try some other "adventurous" eats! :-)

Be sure to stop over at Kristen's for the full recipe!!!

Recommend: YES

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Monday, August 24, 2009

The Apothecary's Daughter by Julie Klassen


I noticed Julie Klassen in my last CBD catalog. I immediately put two of her books on my paperbackswap’s wishlist. I just received my copy of The Apothecary’s Daughter a few weeks ago.

I have only read one book by Jane Austen, but I have watched several movie adaptations of her books.

Right from the beginning of The Apothecary’s Daughter, I felt like I was watching an Austen movie or several episodes of Cranford. I could picture in my mind everything about Klassen’s imagination-born village of Bedsley Priors.

In this village, lives Lilly Haswell. Lilly helps her father run his apothecary shop, while keeping watch over her brother and the new apprentice.

A surprise visit from an aunt and uncle gives Lilly the chance for a life in London, far away from the medicinal life she knows. Lilly, eager for the change, is swept into high society until a letter summons her back to Bedsley Priors.

Leaving suitors behind, Lilly returns home to find her father strangely ill and the apothecary shop near ruin.

I really enjoyed the story of Lilly Haswell. I wouldn’t call The Apothecary’s Daughter “slow” reading, but, like an Austen movie, you really have to be paying attention or you’ll miss something important.

The story is full of complex characters, “blending romance, family drama, and fascinating historical detail.”

Well researched, well written. If you like Regency-inspired romance, you might give The Apothecary’s Daughter a try.

416 pages by Bethany House.

Recommend: YES

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Juicy Rotisserie Style Chicken

I combined a couple of different recipes for this Roasted Chicken. I have made it several times, and every time, I can't believe how juicy and tender the meat always is!

Even the next day leftovers for chicken sandwiches are moist and delicious!


JUICY ROTISSERIE STYLE CHICKEN

1-2 teaspoons salt (I omit this)
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup margarine, divided
celery, onion, or lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a small bowl, combine all spices.

Place rinsed and dried chicken (giblets removed!) in a roasting pan, and season generously inside and out with spice mixture. Place 3 tablespoons margarine in the chicken cavity. Arrange dollops of the remaining margarine around the chicken's exterior.

Stuff the chicken cavity with (whatever you have on hand: 3-4 celery stalks, cut into chunks; whole onion, quartered; or a lemon, halved)

Bake uncovered 1 hour and 15 minutes in the preheated oven, to a minimum internal temperature of 180 degrees F (82 degrees C). Remove from heat, and baste with melted margarine and drippings. Cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest about 30 minutes before serving.

The last time I made this, I used an oven roasting bag and threw in some quartered potatoes. I also made another loaf of Light Oat Bread. Yummmy meal!

Recommend: YES

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Ding Dong Sheet Cake

I was craving filled cupcakes, but didn't want to go through the hassle. I came up with this version, and my husband and I would be embarrassed to say how quickly we scarfed down a 9x13 cake all by ourselves!!



DING DONG SHEET CAKE

1 pkg. devil's food cake mix

Filling:
1/2 c. shortening
1 1/4 c. confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. milk
3/4 c. marshmallow fluff

Frosting:
1 tub of your favorite chocolate frosting

Prepare and bake cake mix according to package directions for 9x13 pan. Let cake cool completely.

Once cake is cooled, prepare filling. Beat shortening with electric mixture until light and fluffy. Slowly add confectioners' sugar and blend until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and beat until smooth and fluffy.

Visually divide cake into 15 sections (3x5). Using a knife, make an small "X" in the center of each section. (You will have 15 "X"'s in your cake). Spoon filling into a large gallon ziploc bag and snip off a corner. Gently place snipped corner into one "X" and carefully squeeze filling until it just fills hole. Repeat with remaining "X"'s.

Once cake is filled, soften frosting in the microwave - uncovered about 30 seconds - until it becomes a pourable consistency. Pour over cake and carefully spread to cover cake.

Decorate with remaining filling, if desired.

Recommend: YES

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Red River of the North by Lauraine Snelling


I just finished reading Lauraine Snelling’s Red River of the North series.

The six books follow the Bjorklunds, a Norwegian family who decide to make a new life in America.

Brothers Roald and Carl Bjorklund, along with their wives and children, are the first to leave their homeland for this new country. Together, they struggle to build their dreams in what will eventually become North Dakota.

After both brothers die during the winter months, wives Ingeborg and Kaaren struggle to keep the homestead alive and thriving.

Each following book continues the stories of Ingeborg and Kaaren as well as other Bjorklunds who continue their trek to America.

If you enjoyed Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly series, I think you will enjoy the Red River of the North books. They aren’t really the same - I think Lauraine's books are a bit more serious, or show more of the reality and harshness of homesteading - but both are very similar in the prairie and community life aspect.

As I began book 5, the story began slowing for me. I found myself anxious to begin another book, but wanted to finish the whole series. I plodded through the rest of book 5 and picked up book 6, expecting to skim/rush through it so I could start the next book waiting on my shelf.

Well, I DID rush through book 6, but not because I was anxious to be done with the series. Book 6, Blessing in Disguise was the best of all the books! I LOVED it!

One of the few remaining Bjorklunds in Norway, Augusta reluctantly agrees to come to America to help in her mother’s boardinghouse. Not believing the importance of learning English before she leaves, Augusta is confused and bewildered at her long trip west.

Because of the language barrier, Augusta gets on the wrong train and ends up miles from where her family is expecting her. Instead, Augusta lands right into the arms of a young rancher, Kane, waiting at the station for his Norwegian mail-order bride.

Kane doesn’t understand Norwegian…Augusta doesn’t understand English. What a mess. ;-) It was great!

Although I'd read book 6 all by itself again, the entire series was very enjoyable. A bit more of a deeper read I thought than Janette Oke’s books, but enjoyable just the same.

I am always amazed at stories of those who worked so hard to build their dreams in America. I don’t think too many today have that kind of work ethic and determination. I find weeding my garden a terribly difficult task!

Lauraine Snelling also wrote three more books, Return to Red River, which I would like to read. I have already read the “Daughters of Blessing” series, which focuses on several of the children from Red River of the North.

(As a side note): I am very excited that I have been recently accepted into another reviewer group. Even more exciting, one of the first books I'll be reviewing for them (in October) is Lauraine's newest book, A Measure of Mercy. At the end of this post, I didn't know I'd get to finally read more about Astrid!

By Bethany House.

Recommend: YES

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Please bear with me!

I am breathing a huge sigh of relief! I'm rearranging a few things on my blog, including tweaking a new template.

I had backed up all of my old info but was still terrified of losing my followers -- but, it looks like you are all still there! PHEW! :-)

So, please bear with me in the next few days (hopefully not longer...but, you never know with the little time two young ones let you have!) as the entire blog may look strange as I get things put back in some semblance of order!

Time for some chocolate to calm me down. :-)

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Honey Wheat Rolls

This is one of my all-time favorite roll recipes! The wheat isn't overpowering - just lends a nice subtle, nutty taste to the roll. They're soft and freeze well, too!


HONEY WHEAT ROLLS

1 1/4 cups warm milk
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup honey
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 3/4 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 teaspoons bread machine yeast

Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press start.

When dough cycle has finished, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cut into 24 pieces. Shape into rolls. Place on lightly greased cookie sheets; cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Lightly brush with an egg wash (1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp of water). Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.


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Monday, August 17, 2009

A Man of His Word by Kathleen Fuller


Ahh, another “Amish” book.

But, I couldn’t resist when I was given the opportunity to review A Man of His Word. I didn’t really like the cover design, but I’ve always tried to remember the often-true saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

I’m glad I kept those words in mind…A Man of His Word was really good! Of all the “Amish-genre” authors that I’ve read, my favorite has always been Beverly Lewis. I sincerely hope that Kathleen Fuller will take it as a compliment that I felt I was reading one of Beverly’s books.

Moriah Miller, newly married and expecting a baby, is abandoned by her Amish husband. Stunned, utterly confused, and blaming herself, Moriah moves back with her parents, hoping and praying that her husband Levi will realize his mistake and return to his family.

In the background is Levi’s twin brother, Gabe, longing to offer Moriah more than his support and sympathy.

Kathleen writes an emotional story of loss and love. A Man of His Word was very engaging with well-developed characters. The book was a quick, easy read that I enjoyed.

Kathleen has another Amish-set book coming out in March 2010. I look forward to reading An Honest Love, as well as others by her.

320 pages by Thomas Nelson.

Recommend: YES

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Taco Burger Wraps

Inspired by Kim who was inspired by Heidi, I decided to make Taco Burger Wraps for supper the other night.

Since I was inspired, I didn't follow either recipe exactly. And, I certainly don't have exact measurements for you!

Hahaa! That's the joy of cooking! You can find a recipe that looks interesting and tweak and twist to your own family's likes and dislikes, or just adjust the recipe because of what is in or isn't in your pantry at the time!

Be sure to check out both of Kim's and Heidi's recipes...but, here's what I did.

I mixed 1-lb of ground beef with a handful of crushed tortilla chips, a good sprinkling of shredded, sharp cheddar cheese, and a big spoonful of salsa.


I then formed into patties and pan fried. Grilling would be amazing...but, I'm a terrible griller.


I did, however, make Kim's super delicious zippy mayo (minus the lime juice, because I didn't have any) to top our burgers! I think I would love to try that same spice combo in sour cream next time!


I wrapped up the juicy burgers in warmed, large, burrito-sized tortillas and we topped with the mayo and more cheese.

My picture isn't as yummy-looking as Kim's or Heidi's burgers. But, believe me, they were delicioso! (My husband doesn't like lettuce...so, my wrap looks kinda flat).


I know the Taco Burger Wraps were a hit, because when hubby was eating day two's leftovers, he said to me, "These are really good! You've got to make them again!"

Thanks for the inspiration, girls!

Recommend: YES

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Heart Remembers by Kim Vogel Sawyer


Kim Vogel Sawyer has got it.

She can really write. Really.

I just flew through My Heart Remembers, which is the story of three young siblings who are separated after being sent on an Orphan Train to Missouri.

The oldest child, Maelle, promises her brother Mattie that she will come for him someday after already watching their baby sister Molly, along with the family Bible, disappear in the arms of a wealthy couple.

Maelle, Mattie, and Molly all go their separate ways, each into very different lives. Will Maelle ever be able to find them again? Have they kept their “ties to home” so that she will recognize them?

Kim absolutely knows how to capture the reader’s attention, imagination, and emotions. She is an amazing storyteller.

I don’t have much more to say, except that I loved it.

I’d read it again.

And again.

I’ll be filling my shelves with more of Kim’s books!

You should, too. :-)

Try this one or this one.

You won’t be disappointed!

352 pages by Bethany House.

Recommend: YES

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Golden Sweet Cornbread (Muffins)

Mmmm, I love warm cornbread alongside Spanish rice or chili. I especially love warm cornbread with butter and honey for breakfast. My husband loves leftover crumbled cornbread with milk and sugar.

I used to only make Jiffy cornbread/muffins...until I realized cornmeal wasn't all that expensive, and I could make my own! ;-)

The recipe on the back of the cornmeal canister is good...but, I like a nice, sweet cornbread. Enter allrecipes.com! I just love that site!

I tried a couple of different cornbread recipes. One had sour cream and creamed corn which was delicious!! But, those are not ingredients I always have around... so, I've only made it a few times.

But, the Golden Sweet Cornbread recipe is exactly that! Golden and sweet! Just what I was looking for!

The last time I made chili, I made the recipe into muffins:





Mmmm!

Recommend: YES

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The Secret by Beverly Lewis


I’m not sure exactly what I think about this book! The Secret, Beverly Lewis’ newest book on the shelf, seems a bit different than most of her others.

Some of Beverly’s books are written in a more contemporary setting, but because the characters are mostly Amish, it’s hard to tell what time period they are in. The occasional mention of a neighbor picking them up in a car, or the use of a phone, is about the only reference to the modern world.

The Secret seems to have a dual main character – Grace Byler, a young Amishwoman and Heather Nelson, an Englischer. Because an Englischer seems to be an integral part of the story, the book is peppered with references to Twitter, iPods, email, and texting – not something that appeals to me when reading.

However, that being said, Beverly still knows how to write a story that draws you in. I had to keep reading “just one more chapter” to find out the secret!

Grace's Mamm is acting strange. No one understands what is wrong and Grace is becoming concerned. One day, Mamm just leaves. No one knows where she is; no one hears from her. Grace feels her Daed knows something, but won't reveal any
secrets. Where could Mamm be?? What could be so awful in her life that she would leave her family so suddenly?

Heather Nelson has just lost her mom to cancer. She herself has just been told that she now has the awful disease and must begin treatment. Heather refuses to admit something is wrong or go through treatments that only left her mom more sick and weak. Determined to find a more natural way and some peace, Heather arrives in Lancaster.

By the end of the book, you will know the secret, but, if you’re like me, you’re going to feel like the whole secret wasn’t told!

I have my suspicions, but I have to wait until book 2 is released! The Missing won’t be available until September. Not too much longer to wait!

If you enjoy Beverly’s books, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in The Secret. I just generally prefer books pre-WWII, so the setting was the only thing I didn’t really like. Even though I know The Missing will very likely be filled with more modern references, because of the characters, I am still anxious to see the rest of the secret revealed!

352 pages by Bethany House.
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