Sunday, January 29, 2012

Molly Meal

This is Molly. 

This is a Molly meal. 

Molly was my grandmother, and while she died in 2007, she lives on in our hearts and in our food. Watching her and my mom in the kitchen cultivated my love of cooking.  I visited my Aunt Jane this weekend, and she and I bartered computer lessons for a trunk full of canned and frozen food. (Homemade, of course.)

Hey look, Alton Brown is on the bartering bandwagon!
(Perhaps he should be on the Patti Wagon as well)

Every time I visit my aunt, she makes a Molly meal and then gives me the leftovers. Lucky me! I get to enjoy Molly meals for the next week.

What exactly is a Molly meal, you ask?  Well, until I was eight, my family lived about a mile from Grandma and Aunt Jane.  We went to their house for dinner every Sunday night.  These are some of my fondest memories from Madisonville, and this is the quintessential meal we ate.  Here are requirements for a Molly meal: 
  1. Cucumber and onion salad with vinegar 
  2. Peeled and sliced tomatoes.  Do not skip the crucial peeling step.  (My sad looking Kroger tomatoes will have to do until Ripley tomatoes come in this summer.)
  3. Corn. This is a must.  No alternatives. 
  4. Green beans  (Limas are an acceptable alternative.)
  5. Ham  (I remember sometimes having grilled chicken as a child, but ham is the way to go.)
  6. Sister Shubert roll(s)
A Molly meal is best served on a Sunday evening and must be followed by a card game.

Questions of the Day: What is the quintessential meal from your childhood?  Do you still eat it?  What memories does it evoke? 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

White Chicken Chili

This is the other soup recipe I promised a couple weeks ago.  I have made it twice now, and you can see the variations in the recipe.  It is definitely going to stay in the rotation for winters to come. 
Mini grilled cheese on the side - delicious!
Tip to new cooks:  If you're looking to move beyond following a recipe to a tee, try making a soup.  They are so forgiving, and all pretty much follow the same methods.  Feel free to add/omit ingredients as you see fit.  Think about what flavors you like together and put them in a soup.

On to the recipe!

1 medium onion, chopped
1 smallish bell pepper, chopped (I would use yellow, orange, or green.)
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, finely minced (Variation: Use jarred pickled jalapenos or a combination of fresh and jarred.)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
sprinkle of red pepper flakes
1-2 cups chicken broth, depending on how thin/thick you like your soup (Variation: Use water and chicken bouillon cubes.)

1-2 cups water, again depending on how thin/thick you like your soup (Know that you'll be adding barley at the end, which will thicken the soup.)
3 cans of white beans, drained and rinsed (any combination of Navy, Cannellini, Great Northern)
1 can golden hominy (Variation: use 2 cups frozen corn. Note that the hominy is mushier, but in a good way.)
2 cups leftover roasted chicken, shredded*
1/4 cup barley

1. Saute onions in oil on medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes.
2. Add in bell pepper, celery, and jalapeno pepper and cook about 5 minutes.
3. Add in garlic and spices. Cook, stirring regularly about 5 more minutes.
4. Add in chicken broth, water, beans, and hominy. Turn heat up to medium high and bring to a simmer.
5. Add in chicken and barely and let simmer for 25 minutes. The soup is ready now, but if as with most soups, you can let it sit on the stove for longer. The flavors will continue to meld, but it will get thicker.

Toppings: When serving, top with a squeeze of lime juice. Other toppings could be a dollop of sour cream, shredded cheese, sliced avocado, or chopped red onion.

*Chicken: You can use just about any form of leftover chicken you have, but if you want to make it fresh for this recipe, I would do one of the following:

1. Follow this recipe for bone-in roasted chicken. (Scroll down to Curried Chicken Salad.) Cook two breasts, three legs, or four thighs, or a combination thereof. Before coating the outside with oil, you could sprinkle on a healthy amount of Penzey's fajita seasoning or a combination of the oregano, cumin, chili powder, cayenne mixture you use in the soup.)

2. Cook 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts following this method:
Lay out chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Sprinkle on a healthy amount of Penzey's fajita seasoning or a combination of the oregano, cumin, chili powder, cayenne mixture you use in the soup. Coat with olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Problem Solved



The tools: 
Use one lid or the other
Circular objects that work: V8 bottle lid, blush container lid, Pringles lid. 
Put the lid close to your body and wrap both ends of the scarf around it. Rubber band, and voila! Problem solved. 

(Just realized that in the only other picture of me on the site, I'm wearing the same dress. I promise I have more than one dress. Promise!)

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Grilled Pimento Cheese on a Croissant

Tip: When making a grilled sandwich on a bagel, sandwich thin, hoagie, or croissant, turn the sandwich inside out. Slice it, then butter the inside edges. Put the filling on the crusty sides, and then put it together, inside edges facing outward. (Seems a lot more complicated when I write it out. We got it, right?)

Cook the sandwich on the buttered sides in a hot skillet. This enables the butter to seep in through the air pockets in the bread. 

Note: This ooey, gooey yumminess does not a healthy sandwich make.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Nerd Bird

The grammar gene runs deep in my family.  You want proof?  My father has the website bookmarked.  While this gene does not manifest itself in me as acutely as it does in my sister, it comes out of its dormant state every so often, i.e. now.

Example #1: Haiku Nerd

Spell-checkers won't catch
You're mistaken homophones
Scattered hear and their

                   -Gord Roberts

This little gem won a National Grammar Day Haiku contest and comes via my dad.  It combines two of my many nerd loves, haikus and grammar.  I often write haikus in my head whilst running or sitting in traffic.  It's such an easy way to exercise the creative part of my brain.  One of my 101 goals is to actually start writing some down.  Here's attempt number 1:

Sweet maple syrup
Emanates from your abode
Breakfast for dinner?

(This is in reference to my neighbor's house. It always smells like pancakes.)

Example #2: Pronunciation Nerd

I would say that teaching a foreign language enables me to look at the English language a little differently than most, namely when compared to Spanish and German, English spelling and pronunciation are hard! Read the poem and you'll agree. You must read it out loud though.

The Chaos by Gerard Nolst Trenite (1992 version)

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.
Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.
Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.
Query does not rhyme with very,
Nor does fury sound like bury.
Dost, lost, post and doth, cloth, loth.
Job, nob, bosom, transom, oath.
Though the differences seem little,
We say actual but victual.
Refer does not rhyme with deafer.
Foeffer does, and zephyr, heifer.
Mint, pint, senate and sedate;
Dull, bull, and George ate late.
Scenic, Arabic, Pacific,
Science, conscience, scientific.
Liberty, library, heave and heaven,
Rachel, ache, moustache, eleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
People, leopard, towed, but vowed.
Mark the differences, moreover,
Between mover, cover, clover;
Leeches, breeches, wise, precise,
Chalice, but police and lice;
Camel, constable, unstable,
Principle, disciple, label.
Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.
Pronunciation (think of Psyche!)
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Oh Baby! (Part 3)

The desserts and decorations at the shower were the real show stoppers. The theme of the shower was literacy. (What? I'm a teacher.) We encouraged all the guests to bring a book to help stock the baby's library. One of our activities was making an alphabet book, and a lot of the decor centered on books and baby blocks.



There were carrot ginger cupcakes from Muddy's, a local bakery in Memphis. LB made these gorgeous cupcake toppers. So cute!

Fortune Cookies


Another pinterest idea. I wrote baby-centric fortunes and folded them inside the fortune cookies. Some were sentimental (Baby will live a long life full of happiness and joy), some were personal (Baby will have an affinity for ketchup), and some were just ridiculous (Baby will grow up to be a famous trapeze artist). I used this Martha Stewart recipe. I only baked them for about 5 minutes though. The one problem I encountered was that fortunes stuck to the inside of the cookies. I'm not sure what the solution to that is, but the next time I have an occasion to make fortune cookies, I'll have to experiment some more.



Katie and LB tackled this department. Katie made the gorgeous diaper cake, and LB painstakingly made the tissue paper flowers.


We played a trivia game about babies, and Jackie did quite well! Except she's going to have to improve her knowledge of toddler cartoon characters. Caillou? Anyone else? I could get into that.

We also gave everyone a page from an alphabet book to decorate. I'll laminate and bind the pages to make baby's first alphabet book.

Katie made hot chocolate mix and layered it with lots of toppings in baby bottles, and I made a fabric flower name tag for everyone.  Mark me officially obsessed with fabric flowers. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Oh Baby! (Part 2)

If I'm going to have a career in catering, I'm going to have to be better about the amount of food I make. We were expecting about 20 ladies at the shower, and of course, I was panicking beforehand that I wouldn't have enough food. (It's my nature.) As I starting piling it on the serving platters, not only did I realize my fears were unfounded, but that I had cooked for about 50 people instead of 20. Either I'm going to have to refigure serving sizes or limit my catering to sumo wrestling conventions. Here are the main dishes I made for the baby shower: 

Quinoa Salad
This represents about half of the leftovers. Oops...
Recipe found here.  This has been a go-to recipe for me for about the last 8 months.  I made it often this past summer when I had copious amounts of fresh corn.  If you're not familiar with quinoa, its amino acid profile makes it a complete protein.  It's high in lots of nutrients and gluten-free. It's similar to couscous, but much more filling.  Are you sold yet?  All aboard the quinoa wagon!
Here are some changes I make to the recipe: 

  • Add peeled chopped cucumbers for another texture. 
  • Add other fresh herbs like basil and parsley.
  • If you can get fresh corn on the cob, fry it before you add it to the quinoa.  My technique: 
    • Cut the corn off the cob, and then turn the knife around and run it against the cob, getting out the "corn milk".  Heat equal parts olive oil and butter in an iron skillet.  When it gets hot, hot, hot, add the corn.  Cook for a couple minutes, stirring frequently.  Add in a healthy amount of salt and sugar, and turn down the heat a bit. Cook it until it's tender, continuing to stir.  Remove from skillet.  You can enjoy it now in salads, quesadillas, salsas, etc.  But if you're looking for another punch of flavor, don't walk away yet.  To the hot skillet, add a good amount of fresh lime juice to deglaze.  Keeping the heat on, gently scrape the fried corn bits from the bottom of the skillet with a heat-resistant spatula.  Cook the liquid down until you get a light syrup.  Pour over the corn, and mix well. Yum! 
    • As it's January, no fresh corn is available.  Luckily, I froze some in August, so I just added two cups of that for this batch.  You could also use frozen corn from the grocery store.  Or maybe a can of hominy? I'll have to try that next. 
  • The mama-to-be is a vegetarian, so I substituted vegetable broth for chicken broth.  Personally I prefer the flavor of chicken broth, but if you want to go vegetarian, know that vegetable broth works just fine.
Pimento Cheese Sandwiches

Recipe found here.  The only change I made was to add jarred pickled jalapenos instead of fresh.  I've been make that substitution a lot recently, and I quite enjoy it.  I served it on mini croissants. 

Curried Chicken Salad

Adapted from this recipe.  It calls for poaching chicken thighs with cilantro and lemon.  I've made it a few times like this, and it's been fine.  The dressing and other yummies more than make up for the lack of flavor that you get from poaching.  I've been roasting a lot of chicken for other recipes lately, so I decided to try it for this recipe.  I roasted a whole chicken and three split breasts, then followed the rest of the recipe.  I added chopped toasted pecans to the salad for more crunch. Also served on mini croissants.  Here's my recipe for roasted chicken: 
  1. Preheat oven to 425. 
  2. Rinse and dry the chicken or chicken pieces. If using a whole chicken, stuff the cavity with flavors of your choosing. I used halved lemons, a halved head of garlic, and a bunch of cilantro. 
  3. Let a couple tablespoons of butter soften in a small bowl resting on the stove. (My stove is on top of the oven. If that's not the case, microwave the butter until it's soft.) Add in a couple tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. 
  4. Separate the skin from the meat by sliding your fingers under the skin. Slide in bits of the soften butter mixture. 
  5. Top the bird with olive oil and any leftover butter bits. Salt and pepper generously. 
  6. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes (for breasts) or 1 hour and 20 minutes (for 5 lb bird). 
  7. Let rest for about 20 minutes before carving and enjoying, or let it rest for an hour before picking all the meat off the bones for chicken salad, soup, or any other dish that calls for leftover chicken.
  8. Be sure to save all the bones for stock. I freeze any chicken bones or vegetable scraps I have. When I have a large amount, I make a big batch of chicken stock. Then I'll freeze that in plastic bags. 
Chilled Asparagus

This is an Alex Guarnaschelli recipe found here on Food Network.  I followed the asparagus preparation to a tee, and it was worth it.  It is definitely labor intensive, but the asparagus came out perfectly.  The dressing recipe was light and allowed the asparagus flavor to come through.  

Citrus Salad

I adapted this Mark Bittman recipe. Here's what I did: 
  1. Peel and section 4 ruby red grapefruit, 6 navel oranges, and 6 pink oranges. Be careful to get rid of as much pith and as many membranes as you can.
  2. Top with 1/4 cup of very thinly sliced red onion pieces and 1/4 c feta cheese. 
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together 3 T olive oil, 1 T rice vinegar, 1/2 T honey, and 1 T lime juice. Stir in 2 T chopped fresh mint.  Pour over the grapefruit and toss to coat. 

This recipe will definitely become part of my rotation in the wintertime when I have fresh Florida grapefruit and oranges. 

Deviled Eggs
Thanks, Paula Deen. You never disappoint. 

Baby shower desserts and decor coming soon. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Oh Baby! (Part 1)

This past weekend, my friends LB, and Katie, and I threw our friend Jackie a baby shower. Jackie's mother-in-law graciously offered us her immaculately decorated home as the venue.
I thought it was a fantastic shower, and I had such a fun time hosting. I volunteered to spearhead the food, so I was really excited about sharing some old favs and trying out some new recipes. Here are the appetizers I made:

Cream Cheese with Homemade Catsup and Crackers
This is a tomato camp recipe, and I'm not sure how closely guarded it is. Erring on the side of caution, I will merely tell you it is the perfect combination of sweet, spicy, and sour flavors. I served it with my favorite Trader Joe's pita bite crackers. 

Zucchini Tartlets
See recipe here. The only change I made was to turn them into "tartlets" and bake them in a mini muffin tin for 15 minutes. Scrumptious! 

Crudite and Bleu Cheese Dip
Recipe here.  I thought the dip tasted good, but the cutesy serving idea was not very conducive to getting a big scoop of dip or double dipping, two requirements when you are compelled to eat raw veggies at a party.  I got the idea from pinterest but chose baby food jars over shot glasses (for obvious reasons).  Perhaps the shot glasses would have worked better.  Vessel FAIL.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

In Lieu of a Resolution

I have decided to make a 101 in 1001 list. These are 101 tasks that I would like to complete in the next 1001 days. I'm telling the world (albeit the small blogger world), and in doing so, hopefully it'll give me the accountability I need to accomplish as many as I can. So set yourself a calendar reminder for Sunday, October 12, 2014.  I'd better get busy. Here's the list:
  1. make pasta from scratch
  2. write down a haiku 
  3. watch a classic movie 
  4. read a classic book 
  5. go to a concert 
  6. at least 10 random acts of kindness 
  7. go to an amusement park 
  8. go skiing 
  9. go on a fabulous exotic vacation 
  10. go hiking 
  11. participate in a multi-event competition 
  12. go to a football game 
  13. make jam 
  14. learn Spanish on Rosetta Stone 
  15. invent (and write down) 10 new recipes 
  16. take the GRE 
  17. go to DC 
  18. qualify for the Boston marathon 
  19. run the Boston marathon 
  20. knit something 
  21. host a party 
  22. star gaze 
  23. go on a picnic 
  24. buy a house 
  25. cook a three course meal 
  26. be on a fantasy sports team 
  27. change a flat tire
  28. see 123 and maintain for one month 
  29. make an article of clothing 
  30. go rock climbing
  31. take a cooking class 
  32. facebook/twitter fast for a month 
  33. buy a house 
  34. go to a film festival 
  35. go to a food festival 
  36. watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy 
  37. watch the Star Wars trilogy 
  38. run a 5K under 21:00 
  39. get a massage 
  40. get a bike 
  41. sleep in a tent 
  42. go surfing 
  43. make creme brulee
  44. relearn how to play euchre 
  45. drink an expensive glass of wine 
  46. finish my CEUs
  47. blog at least twice a week for three months straight 
  48. go to a painting class 
  49. clean up school documents
  50. go to the opera 
  51. go to the Nutcracker 
  52. go geocaching 
  53. plant herbs and maintain them from three months 
  54. buy a new dining room set 
  55. clean out school email
  56. start grad school 
  57. keep a one sentence a day journal for one month 
  58. watch The Girl With series in Swedish 
  59. bake a proper loaf of bread 
  60. batting cages
  61. watch a documentary film 
  62. try a new flavor of ice cream 
  63. use the raclette 
  64. take a road trip 
  65. go to a new restaurant 
  66. visit Laurel and Jeremy 
  67. perfect/can pizza sauce
  68. swim laps for fitness 10 times 
  69. unsubscribe from junk email 
  70. read 10 books I own but haven’t read yet 
  71. drink sake 
  72. 25 positive parent contacts 
  73. eat banh mi 
  74. go to a musical or play 
  75. complete a no spend month 
  76. print out and hang this list in my office 
  77. visit 5 museums 
  78. go to trivia night 
  79. buy something on etsy 
  80. practice guitar every day for a month 
  81. fix TMJ
  82. go dancing 
  83. write 5 letters of praise for good service 
  84. do not use the dryer for one month 
  85. grill meat 
  86. take a dance class 
  87. go to a UK game 
  88. see a comedian perform
  89. subscribe to a Sunday paper 
  90. learn how to give myself smoky eyes 
  91. score 100 in bowling 
  92. can proper pizza sauce 
  93. make dinner from scratch in 20 minutes 
  94. send 10 personal letters 
  95. roll out with foam roller every night for a month
  96. move 
  97. get a manicure 
  98. get a pedicure 
  99. watch a sunset 
  100. put away $5 for each completed task - buy something wonderful for myself with it
  101. donate $5 for each uncompleted task to Youth Villages 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Chicken Soup x2

My go-to winter soup has always been vegetable beef, but this year I went for something different. I made two quite tasty chicken soups. I'll freeze them in individually containers to take to school for lunch. Here is recipe #1:

Chicken Chickpea Tomato

1 onion, finely chopped
2 T olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
4 t total of various dried green herbs (think rosemary, thyme, parsley, basil, oregano, summer savory; could probably also use Italian seasoning, duh!)
1/2 t coriander
dash of garam masala (optional)
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper
1/2 t sugar
2 cans fire roasted tomatoes
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup tomato juice
1 and 1/2 cups leftover roasted chicken
2 cans chickpeas
2 T pesto

Sweat onion in a olive oil until soft and semi-translucent. Add in minced garlic. (Note: I like to mince my garlic, sprinkle salt on it, and let it sit for a couple minutes. Then I scrap the side of my knife blade across the top until it makes a paste.)

Cook for about 30 seconds. I usually turn the heat to low or med-low here to ensure that the garlic doesn't burn. Add in green herbs, coriander, and garam masala. Feel free to switch it up here. You can omit the coriander and garam masala as they might not be on your spice rack, but I really like the warmth they bring. Cook for 3-4 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients except the pesto and chickpeas. Cook about 10 minutes. You can turn up the heat to medium or medium high here. Add the chickpeas. Turn the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer for 10 more minutes. Stir in the pesto. You can serve it now or keep it on the stove for longer, allowing the flavors to meld.

Serving: Top each bowl with a spoonful of pesto or fresh herbs. Add a grilled cheese sandwich on the side, and call yourself a hero. 

White Chicken Chili coming soon. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Recent Craftings

Here are some crafts I've been working on recently: 

Fabric Flowers

I experimented with several different types, and I had the most luck/ease with the version from Lil Boo Blue:
as a hairpin
three glued together to embellish a belt
view from the back
Thanks to Susan Clayton for sewing the belt attachment.

Decorative Plates 

I'm still perfecting my technique on these, but I like the process a lot, and I'm excited to keep trying. It's a glass plate with a piece of scrapbook paper mod podged to the bottom. See Pretty Handy Girl for instructions. 

Ornaments (Anyone else still riding the Christmas spirit wave?)

My sister made this golden snitch Christmas ornament, and I had to share it. 

It just barely eclipses the immortal ice cream cone as my favorite Christmas tree ornament.


This ice cream cone is 23 years old.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Green Apple Dumplings

First of all, welcome to my blog! I will be posting recipes, crafts, and various musings every so often. I hope you enjoy! I'm starting with Green Apple Dumplings.

This recipe belonged to my Grandma Molly. It has the perfect ratio of ease of preparation and deliciousness. And, while I can't exactly call it healthy, each dumpling has just 300 calories. That means I can eat one for breakfast tomorrow, right?

Start by making the pie crust. DO NOT believe people who say frozen pie crusts are as good as homemade. They lie! Homemade crust have that flaky yet soft and buttery quality I have never seen replicated at the supermarket.

Mix 2 cups of flour with one teaspoon salt. Add in 2/3 cup of shortening with a pastry cutter. Cut in the shortening until the pieces resemble peas.

Add in 5-6 tablespoons of ice cold water and gently mix with a fork. Be careful here. Only mix until it just begins to hold together. It's okay if there are crumbs at the bottom of the bowl. The more you handle the dough, the tougher it will get. I'm totally paranoid (it's my nature) about overmixing that I often end up making a huge mess rolling it out. I end up with delicious, albeit ugly dumplings. My mom helped me make these, so I was prodded into mixing a bit more.

Divide the dough into 7 balls and roll out each one until into a 6 inch circle. Some tips on preventing stickage
  • Use a pastry board liberally dusted with flour. (If you don't have one, you could use a piece of canvas secured to your counter.)
  • Use a cotton rolling pin cover dusted with flour. 
  • Store the rolling pin with cover in the freezer. 
Peel and slice 3-4 Granny Smith apples, depending on how big they are. You'll need about 1/2 an apple per dumpling. 

Place the apple slices on the dough circles. Bring up the edges to almost enclose the apple pieces. Feel free to be as artistic/rustic as you want. Place 1/2 teaspoon butter on top of the apples.

You can bake them immediately or place them directly in the freezer for a few days. When you're ready, bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes. They should be beginning to brown.

I must confess, the Christmas cocktails began to flow, and I forgot to take any more pictures. Rookie mistake.

At some point on the day you want to serve the dumplings, whip up this delicious sauce to serve on top. I could drink this sauce. I could swim in a river of this sauce. It's. That. Good.

In a saucepan, stir together 2 tablespoons flour and 1 cup sugar. Add 1 cup water and whisk until there are no lumps. Heat to boiling and then let it boil for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and stir in 2 tablespoons butter and a splash of vanilla. Reheat when you're ready to serve.

Ladle a generous amount of sauce over each dumpling. Serve, take a bow, and soak up the praise.

[picture of beautiful finished product]

Apple Dumpling Recipe:

2 c flour

1 t salt
2/3 c shortening
5-6 T ice cold water

Mix flour and salt. Cut in the shortening with a pastry cutter until the pieces resemble peas. Using a fork to mix, slowly add the ice cold water, adding only enough water and mixing just enough to make the dough hold together. Divide into 7 balls. Roll out each ball into a 6 inch circle.

3-4 cups peeled and sliced tart apples
2 T butter

Top each dough circle with 1/2 cup apples. Bring up the edges to almost enclose the apple pieces. Put 1/2 t butter on top of the apples. Place dumplings on a cookie sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

2 T flour
1 c sugar
2 T butter
1 t vanilla (scant)
In a saucepan, stir together flour and sugar. Add water and stir until there are no lumps. Heat to boiling and boil 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla. Top each dumpling with a generous amount of sauce.

Bon app├ętit!

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.