Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Blueberry Hand Pies

Hand pies have been on my to make list since last summer. Our freezer is still stocked with blueberries from last summer, so of course I went for a blueberry filling.

I did just a few things slightly different than the original recipe. I used my food processor to bring the butter and flour mixture together since I don't have a pastry cutter and I didn't want to go the fork route. And, if you're like me, you don't have biscuit cutters, either. But, you might have some of those plastic ziploc storage containers (with the blue or orange screw on lids?). I measured one - it's 4 1/2 inches wide and works great as a cutter. I got 20 pies from this recipe. Instead of sprinkling with sugar, I went for a sweet glaze brushed on after baking.

Before tasting one I had decided that these were fun to make, if you have a lot of time, but I probably wouldn't make them again. The steps were really drawn out (do something, then freeze, do one more thing, the chill again, repeat a few more times) and I am not really that patient! A regular pie would certainly be easier, but these individual pies are really cute.

After tasting one, I've changed my opinion on the long process. It's worth it! The crust is super flakey and puffs up nicely. I thought my filling could have used a bit more sugar, as most of the sweetness came from the glaze. As I spooned the filling onto the dough, I tried to keep any extra liquid out, so that was mostly sugar.

Source: Smitten Kitchen

Makes 14 to 24 (depending on cutter size)

For the pastry:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup sour cream
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup ice water

For the filling:
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen (thawed)
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 tsp cinnamon

One egg yolk beaten with 2 tablespoons water (for egg wash)

For the Glaze:
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. To make the pastry, in a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Place the butter in another bowl. Place both bowls in the freezer for 1 hour. Remove the bowls from the freezer and make a well in the center of the flour. Add the butter to the well and, using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Make another well in the center. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add half of this mixture to the well. With your fingertips, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Remove the large lumps and repeat with the remaining liquid and flour-butter mixture. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. If preparing ahead of time, the dough can be stored at this point for up to one month in the freezer.

2. Divide the refrigerated dough in half. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out one half of the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 4 1/2-inch-round biscuit cutter, cut seven circles out of the rolled dough. Transfer the circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and place in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes. Repeat the rolling, cutting, and chilling process with the remaining half of dough. (I used a 4-inch cutter–if you can call a “cutter” the tin edge of the container that holds my smaller round cutters–and managed to get 12 from each dough half, after rerolling the scraps.)

3. Make the filling: Mix all filling ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.

4. Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator, and let stand at room temperature until just pliable, 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon about 1 to 2 tablespoons filling (use the smaller amount for a 4-inch circle) onto one half of each circle of dough. Quickly brush a little cold water around the circumference of the dough, and fold it in half so the other side comes down over the filling, creating a semicircle. Seal the hand pie, and make a decorative edge by pressing the edges of the dough together with the back of a fork. Repeat process with remaining dough. Place the hand pies back on the parchment-lined baking sheet, and return to the refrigerator to chill for another 30 minutes.

5. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove the chilled hand pies from the refrigerator, cut a small slit in each and lightly brush with the egg yolk wash. Sprinkle sanding sugar generously over the pies, and place pies in the oven to bake. Bake until the hand pies are golden brown and just slightly cracked, about 20 minutes. Remove the pies from the oven (mix together and brush on the glaze at this point if you don't want to sprinkle with sugar before baking), and let stand to cool slightly before serving.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dinner Divas Lime Chicken Soft Tacos

Here is my first Dinner Divas post! I'm a bit embarrassed to say I have never made a Dinner Diva recipe until now. It's not that I don't want to, but a lot of the recipes come from the Food Network site and I do most of my menu planning at work, where this site is blocked. I was happy to be able to pick one of the March recipes, though. I headed to the trusty allrecipes.com site to make my selection and found this recipe for Lime Chicken Soft Tacos.

Normally when we have tacos, I season the meat with cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper and a couple other spices. I thought this recipe would be interesting to try since it didn't include my normal ingredients. It was too late, but I realized that I added the juice of the whole lime instead of 1/2 the lime as the recipe listed. Needless to say, our tacos were very limey. Aaron thought they were really good and I liked it, too. I bet the right amount of lime would be better, though. I liked the citrus flavor mixed with the red wine vinegar and spices. If I had some fresh cilantro, that would have been perfect! I did make some quick quacamole with a mashed avocado mixed with some salsa. (Does that count as guacamole?)

Here's the poorly photographed chicken:

You'll notice in the picture above that we had hard tacos. That is because I was out of soft taco shells. We did have burrito shells, so I made one of those, too - just because.

Source: Allrecipes.com

1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast meat - cubed
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
10 (6 inch) flour tortillas
1 tomato, diced
1/4 cup shredded lettuce
1/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup salsa

Saute chicken in a medium saucepan over medium high heat for about 20 minutes. Add vinegar, lime juice, sugar, salt, pepper, green onion, garlic and oregano. Simmer for an extra 10 minutes.

Heat an iron skillet over medium heat. Place a tortilla in the pan, warm, and turn over to heat the other side. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Serve lime chicken mixture in warm tortillas topped with tomato, lettuce, cheese and salsa.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Texas Chicken Quesadillas

It's been a while since my last update, but I'm still here! I starred this recipe from ...and a Cookie for Dessert a while back and loved the idea for a few reasons. First, it's Mexican-ish, with a twist. Second, it's quick. And third, I have all of the ingredients. This turned into an easy weekend lunch for us.

The sweet & spicy BBQ sauce I used on the chicken was my favorite part, but the small-ish onion I sliced for 2 big quesadillas was a little too onion-y for my taste. Recently I discovered a new method to making quesdadillas that is so easy. I love that I don't have to use the oven or my quesadilla maker. I always over-fill that thing and have a mess to clean up.

Stove-top method: (Do this after you've cooked the onions and chicken.) Spray your skillet with non-stick spray. Place tortilla in skillet and sprinkle cheese over the whole thing. Then, on just half of the tortilla, spoon the onions and chicken. Let it heat through a little until the cheese is melted and the tortilla starts to brown a bit. Then, fold it in half, let it sit for a minute and that's it. The tortilla will be crispy on the outside while the cheese is melted and gooey inside.

The Chicken:

The method:

2 TBSP of oil
1-1/2 onions (vidalia is preferred) sliced into rings
1 TBSP honey
2 chicken breasts, diced
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1 Cup shredded Mexican cheese
8 ten inch flour tortillas

Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until they begin to caramelize. Mix in the honey and stir until it is golden brown. Remove and set aside.Place the remaining oil in the pan and add the chicken. Cook through over a medium high heat. Stir in the BBQ sauce to evenly coat the chicken. Place the chicken, onions and cheese onto a tortilla, top with the other tortilla and cook in your quesadilla maker about 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can cook them in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
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