Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Best Rice Krispie Treats Ever

Need I say more? These are incredible and what I will do whenever I happen to have rice krispies sitting around my house. I love them.

Salted Brown Butter Crispy Treats
from SmittenKitchn

1/2 c unsalted butter
10 oz of marshmallows
heaping 1/4 t coarse sea salt
6 c Rice Krispies cereal

Butter a 9" square pan. In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. Cook slowly, stirring frequently until butter has browned (it will foam, turn clear golden, and then start to brown---it will look like little pieces of brown things are floating in it). As soon as butter has browned and has taken on a nutty color and smell, turn off the heat and stir in the marshmallows. You shouldn't need to turn the heat back on, the pot and heat from the butter should melt the marshmallows. Stir vigorously until it is smooth. (if needed, turn the heat on low to help melt the marshmallows). Remove from the stove and stir in the salt and cereal. Spread into buttered pan. Press firmly into pan and evenly into the edges and corners with a silicon spatula. Let cool and cut into squares.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Chicken in Dill Mustard Sauce

Mmm...fresh dill. Problem is, I think of dill with summer dishes like cucumbers. No cucumbers here in December. I was excited to find this recipe--it was easy and adaptable for kids (I just left off the dill sauce). I used 1 lb of chicken breasts instead of the chicken legs and kept the rest of the proportions the same.

Curtis and I thought it was really good. I'll make this again next time I have dill in December. I served it over rice and with a side salad.

Chicken in Dill Mustard Sauce
adapted from Gourmet

1/4 c flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
4 whole chicken legs (2 lbs) or 1 lb chicken breasts
3 T oil
3/4 c onions, chopped
1/2 c white wine
1 c chicken broth or water
2 t dijon mustard
1/4 c fresh dill, chopped

Stir together flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl. Pat chicken dry, then dredge, 1 at a time in flour, shaking off excess. Heat oil in 12" heavy skillet over moderate high heat until hot. Brown chicken, skin sides down first, turning over once, 6 - 8 minutes total. Transfer chicken to a plate, then pour off all but 1 T fat from skillet. Add onions to skillet and saute, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 2 - 3 minutes. Add wine and deglaze skillet by boiling, stirring, and scraping up brown bits. Add broth, mustard, and remaining salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then return chicken to skillet, skin sides up, along with any juices from the plate, and cook over moderate heat, covered, until chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes (10 - 15 minutes for chicken breasts). Transfer chicken to a platter and boil sauce until reduced to about 1 c and slightly thickened, about 3 - 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in dill, then pour sauce over chicken (or serve beside chicken if it is questionable if everyone will like the sauce).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pizza Roll-ups

You would think just two days before Christmas, one day before we fly out of town I would have better things to do besides post. I do. I could make a list: laundry, pack, organize, clean. I don't really want to do any of those things though, so I am posting instead.

Our neighborhood had a Christmas party last Sunday night. It was wonderful, complete with a hay ride through the neighborhood to look at Christmas lights and caroling as we rode. It was a potluck and I wanted to bring a main course, because I suspected (and was right) there would be lots and lots of desserts. I also had arugula I needed to use.

I decided to try pizza roll-ups. I saw a recipe for mushroom pizza roll-ups on Bitten and thought I'd attempt those. While I was at it, I thought I'd make the traditional, more kid friendly sausage and cheese pizza rolls, which recipe found elsewhere on the internet. Plus, there was that arugula so I decided to make my own variation to use the arugula as well.

I had varied degrees of success. The sausage and cheese roll-ups looked the nicest. The arugula tasted the best (I thought). The mushroom was a bit of a flop--I think too much moisture for the dough to rise in the oven and too rich with all the mushrooms. Regardless, all three were gone pretty quickly at the potluck. A double batch of dough will make two-three pizza rolls. I am not including the recipe for the mushrooms because I don't think it I will make it again. You can include the pizza sauce on the arugula one if you want--I did this time, but don't think I will next time so the dough rises more in the oven (at least that's my hypothesis). Serve on the side if you don't use it inside the roll-up.

Pizza Roll-Ups
Adapted from Taste of Home plus my inventions

A batch of your favorite pizza dough (click here for my favorite)

For sausage and cheese filling for one pizza roll-up
1 lb bulk Italian sausage
7 oz roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
1 c mozzarella cheese, grated (or other Italian cheese)

For arugula filling for one pizza roll-up
one small bunch of arugula, coarsely torn
thinly sliced Italian deli salami
1 c mozzarella cheese (or other Italian cheese), grated
1 c pizza sauce (optional)

For the sausage and cheese filling: Cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink. Stir in red peppers and mozzarella cheese. Roll dough into a long rectangle. Top with sausage topping. Roll up jelly roll style, starting with a short side. Tuck ends under and pinch seam to seal. Mix an egg with a little water and brush over top of roll, sprinkle with some parmesan cheese (optional). Bake in preheated 375 degrees oven for 25 -30 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting into 1/2 - 1" slices. (A variation: use 1/2 lb sausage and 10 oz of chopped spinach).

For the arugula filling: Roll out pizza dough into a long rectangle. Spread salami across the top of the dough. Top with arugula and then cheese. Mix an egg with a little water and brush over top of roll, sprinkle with some parmesan cheese (optional). Bake in preheated 375 degrees oven for 25 - 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cherry Brownie Torte

Lest you think I've only been baking cookies lately, I'll share my current favorite winter dessert to share. I tend to only make this when I know I'll have other people to share this with. It is so rich and it looks too pretty just to keep to myself. This is the cake that can get me through long evenings of taking care of kids and cleaning up all by myself. In fact, I think I will need to take a brief blogging break to have a piece. It is too good not to sit and appreciate it---to just eat it while doing something distracts me.

This is somewhat time consuming to make. It has two separate cooling/chilling periods. I make the brownie one day and the topping the next, being sure to give it at least 4 hours to chill before serving.

Cherry Brownie Torte
slightly adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c cocoa powder
1 t coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 t salt
1 c dried tart cherries
1/4 c water
3 T cherry preserves
12 T butter, cut into chunks
11 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 c sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
1/4 t vanilla

3 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 c sugar
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 c (12 oz) mascarpone cheese
3/4 c heavy cream

Whisk together the flour, cocoa, pepper, and salt. Bring the cherries and water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the preserves and boil until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Set aside to cool. Put butter and 7 oz of chocolate into a small metal bowl. Put over a pot of boiling water. Cover and turn off heat. Stir occasionally, until chocolate and butter are melted (turn heat on slightly if chocolate isn't melting). Stir in 1/2 c sugar and remove from heat. Meanwhile, with a mixer, beat the eggs, 1 c sugar, and vanilla until pale and thick, about 4 minutes. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, gently mix in the melted chocolate. Fold in dry ingredients, followed by cherries and remaining 4 oz of chopped chocolate. Pour batter into a 9" springform pan, whose bottom has been butter and lined with parchment paper. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula.

Put springform pan on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven for 55 minutes or until the top is dry and the cake is starting to pull away from the sides of the pan. (Don't expect the middle to be dry--if poked with a tester, moist batter should be attached). Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and cool for 15 minutes. Loosen the cake from the pan by running a blunt knife between cake and pan. Remove sides of the pan. Cool completely on base. When completely cool, invert remove base of pan and parchment paper. Wash and dry the pan and return the cake to it. Refasten the sides.

At this point, I cover the pan with foil and refrigerate for a day until I am ready to do the icing. You can do this all in one day, I just can't ever quite time it right to achieve that. It may be because I bake during nap times in the afternoons.

To make the mouse icing, beat the cream cheese, 1/3 c sugar, vanilla and a pinch of salt on medium-high speed until it is very smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the mascarpone cheese and mix until it is smooth. Add the cream and beat only until the mousse is smooth and blended. Spoon the mousse over the cake and smooth out with a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon. Refrigerate cake at least 4 hours to set the mousse.

To serve, remove sides of springform pan. Dust with some extra cocoa if you would like just before serving. It is best if it sits at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sand Tarts

Like I said on Friday, my first true sand tart success was this past week. I had almost decided it was time to ditch the sand tart recipe and just stick to my sugar cookie recipe. This batch of cookies saved sand tarts for me.

In case you aren't familiar with sand tarts, or at least my definition of sand tarts, let me fill you in. Sand tarts are very thin sugar cookies. A little sandy, crispy, they are thinly rolled and baked only long enough to crisp, but not brown. When I was looking for other sand tart recipes online, I discovered there are other versions of sand tarts--many have walnuts or pecans or almonds on them. Some are circular and decorated with almonds to look like sand dollars. The sand tarts I am familiar with though tend to have no nuts---just cut out with cookie cutters and topped with a little colored sugar.

A good baking pan is very helpful for this. Just a plain, heavy duty baking sheet is all you need---nothing fancy. If you don't have good baking sheets, I would recommend going to a restaurant supply store. I found them there for $7.50 a piece and I am in love with mine---the best baking sheets I've found. Other than that, try to get the cookies all the same thickness or at least group cookies of similar thickness on one pan. That will allow the cookies to get crispy without browning. The cookies need to refrigerate over night or freeze for an hour before baking.

Sand Tarts
from Good Housekeeping's Cookies!

1 c butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 c sugar
2 large eggs
1 t vanilla
3 c flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt

Beat butter and sugar in a mixer until light and creamy. Reduce speed to low and beat in eggs and vanilla until mixed. Beat in the flour, baking powder, and salt until well combined, occasionally scraping bowl with a rubber scraper. Shape dough into 4 balls and flatten into disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze 1 hour or refrigerate overnight.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out one piece of dough until 1/8" thick. To prevent dough from sticking, pick up and rotate/flip dough frequently, reflouring as necessary. Cut dough into as many cookies as possible with cookie cutters, reserving trimmings. Place cookies on large ungreased baking sheet. Sprinkle with colored sugar or sprinkles if desired. Bake in preheated 350 degrees oven for 8 - 12 minutes (depending on thickness), until cookies are crispy, but not browned. Repeat with remaining dough and trimmings until all the dough is used. If desired, frost with icing when finished (if you didn't top with sprinkles, etc).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What We've Been Eating Lately

I must say, my family has been no fun to cook for lately. Curtis still has no appetite and is not eating much in the evening due to his nausea---hence nothing tastes great. M is getting pickier and J has been snacking too much. Thus the past few days menus have looked like this:

Spaghetti and meatballs made with store bought sauce and meatballs from Costco
Leftovers and freshly made big salad.
Take out (and the kids didn't even like that).

Ok. It hasn't all been that bad. :) Also on the menu:

Potato Soup with Kale
Butternut Squash and Kale Risotto
Salmon with Bok Choy
Baked Ziti (frozen this summer and pulled out for an easy meal)
Homespun pot pie (which had perfect biscuits on top--light and flaky. I used chicken, kohlrabi, turnips, and sweet potatoes as the vegetables)
plus the above mentioned meals.

We've also had several big salads (a big salad is one that has more than just lettuce on it---the latest had a sliced bell pepper, boiled eggs, and sliced carrots). Now that Curtis is through with radiation, hopefully he'll start eating better again. I miss having a good audience to cook for.

Friday, December 18, 2009

How I Spent My Friday Afternoon

It was a truly wonderful afternoon. The only thing it needed was the foot of snow that my Virginia family is forecast to get tonight/tomorrow. All of the cookies I had stashed in the refrigerator and freezer I brought out to bake. What I ended up with (from front to back):

Molasses Cookies
Pinwheel Cookies (I especially like the pinwheel cookie wreck in the middle of the picture)
Sand Tarts
World Peace Cookies
Linzer Cookies
and already made, not pictured Buckeyes.

I like this method of baking. I will definitely need to remember it for next year. I used Stonewall Kitchen's Raspberry Jam for the filling of the Linzer cookies. It wasn't what I used last year, but it was thick enough to do.

This was the first year I was happy with my sand tarts. The secret? Two things. 1) No one helped me. 2) New baking pans from a restaurant supply store. Heavy duty, half sheet pans. They were awesome and the cookies cooked until they were crispy without browning. It was easier to roll them out evenly since no one was helping me (as in, no children assisting). Cookie making with kids is fun, but cookie making by myself is fun too.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Potato Soup with Kale

I really like kale in soup, but was ready for a change from my normal minestrone/Italian soup version. I was delighted to stumble upon this version for which I had all the ingredients and was not very time consuming to prep (it does simmer for an hour, but you can basically ignore it during that hour.

The family enjoyed it--especially the croutons for the top (the cubed bread sauted in olive oil). I'll be making this one again. This serves 6 adults.

Potato Soup with Kale
from Bon Appetit

5 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
5 - 8 oz fully cooked Spanish chorizo, casings removed if necessary, chopped
1 - 2 t smoked paprika
1 1 /2 lbs potatoes, cut into 1/4" slices
8 c chicken broth (or a broth/water combination)
1 bunch kale (1 - 1 1/2 lbs), stemmed and torn into small pieces
3 c 1/2"-cubed rustic bread

Heat 3 T olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, cook until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add chorizo and paprika and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add potatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Add kale; stir until wilted and soup returns to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally. (Can make this ahead, just rewarm before serving).

Meanwhile, heat 2 T oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add bread cubes and saute until golden and crispy, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

To serve, place soup in bowls and top with croutons.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Salmon with Bok Choy

the before picture

M hasn't been thrilled with my meals lately. This is due mostly to the fact that she doesn't like leafy greens. I made this meal with her in mind, wanting a meal she would love.

Love she did. I can't go wrong with fish and that girl, even if the fish rests on a nice bed of bok choy. She didn't eat the bok choy, but she sure enjoyed the salmon! Everyone else enjoyed this meal too, Curtis and I liked having the bok choy all to ourselves.

This is an easy weeknight meal, but presents fancy since it is fish sitting on a bed of something. I didn't have hoisin sauce, so I substituted soy sauce. This proportions will serve 4.

Salmon with Bok Choy
adapted from Bon Appetit

2 heads bok choy (or however much you have), well rinsed and separated
1 lb of salmon, cut into 4 pieces
2 T fresh orange juice
1 green onion, thinly sliced (optional)
1 T hoisin sauce (or 2 t soy sauce)
1 t fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 t finely grated orange peel
1/4 c fresh cilantro leaves

Form a bed of bok choy in the center of 4 12-inch pieces of foil. Top bok choy with fish. Mix orange juice, green onion, hoisin, ginger, and orange peel in a small bowl. Spoon mixture over fish, dividing equally. Sprinkle with salt. Top with cilantro. Fold up foil sides and pinch tightly to seal above fish and at both ends of the packets, enclosing contents completely. Place packets on baking sheet and bake in a preheated 425 oven for 12 - 14 minutes, or until fish is just opaque in the center. Serve with rice.

the not as great, after picture

Friday, December 11, 2009


This is another one of my Grandma's recipes. Buckeyes, I've learned recently, aren't just a Lancaster County, PA Christmas speciality. In my not very extensive research, I've learned that buckeyes are commonly eaten at Ohio State "Buckeyes" football games. Those buckeyes, are slightly different than mine. The football buckeye candy is not completely coated with chocolate, but instead made to look like eyes. That approach looks really cool, but I'll take total chocolate coating any day over appearances.

My Grandma and her two sisters would make candy every year for many, many years. Buckeyes were the simplest candy they made and also my favorite. I was relieved to learn exactly how easy they are to make when I tried to make them. To make buckeyes the easiest, they will need to chill twice before being coated with chocolate. When coating them with chocolate, be careful not to let them sit in the chocolate. The chocolate will melt. I use an electric skillet, set to between 200 - 250 degrees. If you are fortunate enough to have a double boiler, use that. (I am not one of the fortunate ones...) If the finished buckeyes don't look perfect, don't fret. Everyone will ignore that once they eat one (and then another and another).

Do I need to say my kids love these?


1/2 c butter, at room temperature
2 c crunchy peanut butter (not the organic/natural type--stick to Jiff or Peter Pan or the like)
1 3/4 c confectioners' sugar
3 c Rice Krispies

approximately 8 oz of chocolate chips or chocolate pieces
approximately 2 - 4 oz of a Hershey Bar (or similar chocolate bar)
approximately 1/4 slab of paraffin (Gulf Wax is a very common brand--pictured below)

Mix together butter, peanut butter, confectioners' sugar, and Rice Krispies well, using your hands if necessary. Form into small balls and chill.

Melt chocolate slowly in a double boiler or in an electric skillet (set between 200 - 250 degrees). If the chocolate is too hot, it will get crumbly. It will not recover from this (the heat being an "irreversible change," as M likes to remind me). Water and moisture will cause the chocolate to harden, so don't cover the pan while melting. Stir frequently. Stir in a little melted paraffin to thin chocolate. If chocolate is thin enough to coat, you won't need the paraffin. (Play around with this---taste or cut buckeyes in half to see if the thickness is right. It took me a several attempts before I figured out how thin it needs to be.)

Dip balls into chocolate. The easiest way I found to do this was dropping the buckeye in the chocolate, rolling it around, lifing it out with a fork, and scraping the bottom of the fork clean with a thin knife. Drop coated buckeye onto parchment paper to cool. Chill to harden and store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mac and Cheese with Chard

I needed new ways of using chard and few this recipe. I think it passes as a recipe that can stand up to the rigors of chard. It's nice for the kids (who won't eat the chard, because it is green and leafy), because the chard is in a layer in the middle, making it easy to eat around it.

Mac and Cheese with Chard
adapted from Bon Appetit

3 T butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c flour
3 c milk
2 c Gouda cheese, coarsely grated
2 c Edam cheese, coarsely grated (or you can use 4 c total of whatever cheeses you want)
a pinch of chili powder
a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
1 1/2 lb chard, stems and center ribs removed
12 oz macaroni

Melt 3 T butter in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in garlic, then flour, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Cook, whisking occasionally, until mixture begins to boil, about 5 minutes (longer if you use skim milk). Add 1 1/2 c grated Gouda and 1 c grated Edam. Stir until cheeses melt. Stir in chili powder and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook chard in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 1 minute. Transfer the chard to a plate with a slotted spoon to cool. Reserve water in the pot. Squeeze water from the chard and coarsely chop. Return the water in the pot to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente. Stir drained macaroni into warm cheese sauce. Place half of macaroni in a 9 x 13" baking dish, smooth top. Top with 1 c Edam cheese and then chard. Top with remaining macaroni mixture, spread evenly. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 c Gouda over top.

Bake in a preheated 350 degrees oven and bake for 40 minutes, until macaroni is golden and edges are bubbling. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Rigatoni with Fennel and Sausage

My kids don't dig fennel. That's unfortunate because fennel is one of my favorite things. I am excited that we've gotten fennel two weeks in row in our CSA box and I hope the streak continues.

That said, neither M or J ate the fennel in the pasta. They ate the pasta and sausage quickly, they just avoided the fennel, leaving it to their parents to eat off their plates (mostly me).

Curtis and I enjoyed this recipe. It wasn't as rich as I was worried it would be based on the cream sauce. I made some serious adjustments to the original recipe, but I think it turned out just right.

Rigatoni with Fennel and Sausage
adapted from Gourmet

1 lb mild Italian sausage (either bulk or links with the casings removed and discarded)
2 T olive oil
1 c onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 large bell pepper (red is preferable but green is fine), chopped
1 fennel bulb, sliced thin (about 2 c)
2/3 c dry white wine
1 c chicken broth
1/2 c heavy cream
1/2 lb rigatoni or other tubular pasta
1/4 c minced fresh parsley leaves
grated fresh parmesan cheese

Cook the sausage over moderate heat in a heavy skillet, stirring and breaking up any lumps, until it is cooked through and transfer it with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Add the onion and garlic to the skillet, reduce heat to medium low, and cook until the onion is softened, stirring occasionally. Add the bell pepper and fennel and cook the mixture over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the bell pepper and fennel are softened. Add the wine and broth, bring to boil and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Add the cream and boil until it is thickened slightly and reduced by about a 1/3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente in a pot of boiling water. Place pasta in a bowl, toss with the fennel mixture, sausage, parsley, and Parmesan. Serve

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cookies Galore!

It's Christmastime and for those who know me, you know that I love to make cookies around Christmas. I give plates of cookies as gifts of thanks to teachers, neighbors, friends, pretty much anyone I can for as long as the cookies last. I enjoy coming up with a cookie menu with something for everyone--peanut butter, chocolate, sugar and butter, nuts, and spicy.

This year, that has gotten more challenging. The addition of another child and continued health issues for Curtis has made finding the time required a little more difficult. I have found the answers though. 1) Don't make as many kinds of cookies (the list of this years cookies to follow) and 2) Break cookie making into parts and divide over days.

We are fortunate to live in modern times of good freezers. This makes my problem so much less of a problem. Currently in my freezer, I have two different kinds of cookies, waiting until the week I want to give them to be baked. Most cookies freeze easily before baking or at least will last in the refrigerator a week or so. Rolled cookies and ice box cookies actually require refrigeration (or freezing) before baking. Thus, I have started making my cookies 3 weeks before I intend on giving them.

My cookie list for this Christmas:

Linzer Cookies
Molasses Sugar Cookies
World Peace Cookies
Sugar cookies or sand tarts
Pecan Sandies

The buckeyes are waiting to be coated with chocolate in my refrigerator and the Linzer Cookies and World Peace Cookies are chilling in the freezer. I plan on having the molasses sugar cookies join them there tomorrow and making sand tarts with the kids next week. Pecan sandies will be made only right before I bake them. The plan is to post recipes for the buckeyes and sand tarts this year. The World Peace Cookies can be found here, at smitten kitchn.

Monday, December 7, 2009

What We've Been Eating Lately

Fennel in Roasted Chicken with Fennel (pictured)
Poblanos and Tomatoes in Pork and Tomatillo Stew
Chard in Lasagna-Style Baked Ziti
Mustard Greens in Greens and Smoked Gouda Sandwiches
Bell Pepper, Lettuce, and Salad Turnips in salads
Kohlrabi in Boiled Pot Pie
Poblanos in Cranberry Salsa

Plus, new recipes coming this week and Christmas Cookies!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Grandma's Boiled Pot Pie

I have no less than three pot pie recipes in my collection. Two are very similar---baked in the oven with a dough topping or crust. This one is different.

This is what I grew up thinking pot pie was like. My Grandma would make it and it was my absolute favorite thing she made. Rolling out the noodles is a lot of work, so we wouldn't get it every time we visited their farmhouse in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, just on rare occasions. Pot pie was said as one word, kinda like pah-pie. It was until I was in upper elementary school before I was introduced to what others called potpie. Even for years after that, I couldn't understand why they called the baked aberrations pot pie.

Getting this recipe was a bit of a challenge. Like all good family heirloom recipes this wasn't written down. When I asked my Grandma for the recipe several years, she tried to write it out for me. I attempted to make and had to call her to have her help me figure out what she meant and what I was meant to do. I still use making pot pie as an excuse to call and talk to her.

The noodles are basically an egg pasta (duh, right?). I used the Pennsylvania Dutch method of rolling it out, which is pure elbow grease. I think I may be sore tomorrow from my rolling workout (I am serious--it used serious abs and arm muscles). I understand now why I didn't attempt to make this last winter when I was a 5 + months pregnant. The recipe itself goes fast if you have cooked chicken and broth in the freezer, which I did. The whole house smells wonderful. There is no better cold winter's day meal.

My Grandma's recipe didn't include kohlrabi. I've also made this with some turnips thrown is as well. The original versions only has carrots, peas, celery, and potatoes. I however, use this recipe as a good excuse to use up some of the root vegetables that have been collecting in my fridge.

January 2018 edit:  Last fall I went to Lancaster and watched my uncle make this.  He wasn't fighting with the dough nearly as much as I normally do.  It doesn't need to be so hard, I realized as I watched.  Thus I did some research when I got home, tweaked the recipe the a bit and now my noodles are even better!!

Grandma's Boiled Pot Pie

2 qts + 2 c chicken broth**
3 c cooked chicken, chopped**
pinch of saffron
3 medium sized potatoes, cut into large bite-sized chunks
1 c celery, diced
2 - 3 carrots, sliced
1/2 - 1 c frozen peas
2 kohlrabi, peeled and diced
a teapot full of boiling water

2 1 /2 c flour
1/2 t salt
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
1 t butter
1/4 - 1/2 c water

**can substitute one whole uncooked chicken. Cover chicken with water in a large kettle and boil until cooked. Use the liquid for the chicken broth. Remove the chicken from the bone when it is cool enough to handle.

To make the dough: On the counter or work surface, put the flour and salt. Make a well in the flour and add the two eggs and butter. Mix with a fork until a shaggy dough forms.

Mix flour, eggs, and butter together with a fork in a large bowl.  Add water, starting at 1/4 c and continue to mix.  Add up to a 1/2 c of water, until dough holds together (it shouldn't be gritty or coarse).  Transfer to counter and knead until dough feels soft and "dough-like" (almost like bread, not quite that far, but almost).   Form into 2 round balls. Let sit for 15 - 30 minutes. Roll out on a floored surface as thinly as possible. Cut into 2 - 3 inch squares with a knife. If the middle of the dough is significantly thicker than the edges, continue to roll out squares after they are cut or cut the edges first, roll at the middle some more, and then cut the middle. Set aside. Do not stack the dough. It will stick together and you'll have to start all over again (with the rolling out).

Once the dough has been cut, begin the soup. Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large soup pot. Crumble a pinch of saffron into the boiling water. Add the potatoes and kohlrabi and cook just until the potatoes are tender. Drop the dough squares over the potatoes when the broth is boiling vigorously. Do not overlap dough. Broth should boil over squares before more dough is added. Occasionally add some carrots and celery. Once almost all the dough has been added, add the peas. If the pot pie is starting to look dry and there is not much broth boiling over the dough, add some boiling water (the boiling water is better than cold water because it allows the pot pie never to stop boiling). Continue until all dough has been added. Add the cooked chicken last. Taste and season with salt and black pepper as desired. Serve hot!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Lasagna-Style Baked Ziti

Two years ago, I could not get enough of swiss chard. I was thrilled with every bunch we received and would trade it for it in the trade box. Last year, I was sad because insect pests made the swiss chard crop smaller. I thought I would be totally thrilled with getting swiss chard this year, in November, no less.

I wasn't. I haven't figure out why. I was thrilled to have this recipe though, that didn't accentuate the taste of the chard, at least until I can get used to it again. Everyone liked this recipe, even I had some ground up tastes. I served leftovers to our neighbor kids (who were 3 and 1 1/2) and they also both liked it. This was an easy recipe to make, the most time consuming parts were sauteing the meat (which you could leave out, if you desire) and grating the cheese.

Lasagna-Style Baked Ziti
adapted from The Kitchn at Apartment Therapy

12 oz penne
1 T olive oil
1 lg onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb lean ground beef or Italian bulk sausage
4 c marinara/pasta sauce (1 26-oz jar)
4 c spinach or swiss chard, thick stems removed and coarsely chopped
1/2 c ricotta
1/2 c Parmesan, grated
1 c mozzarella, grated

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and put into a 9 x 13" pan. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 4 - 5 minutes. Add the meat and cook until it's no longer pink, 5 - 6 minutes, breaking up large chunks. If using swiss chard, put with the meat and cook until the chard wilts. Toss the pasta with meat and chard, marinara sauce, spinach (if not using chard), ricotta, and 1/4 c Parmesan in the baking dish. Sprinkle with mozzarella and remaining Parmesan. Bake in a preheated 400 degrees oven until the cheese melts, 12 - 15 minutes.