Recipe: Cherry Pie

Cherry Pie, in-progress.

Go ahead, ask me why I don’t have a shot of the finished pie at the top of this post.

…go on, don’t be shy.

You really wanna know? You sure? You positive you can handle the truth?

‘Cause I ate it.

All.

Hopefully that tells you more about how good this pie is than about my complete and total lack of self-control when left unsupervised with a scrumptious baked good.

I ate it all before I had the chance to take a picture.

The pie made me do it.

Be afraid, people. The power of this pie to totally draw you in and make you eat it –ALL– is omnipotent. You can’t escape it. Once its out of the oven, it calls to you, seducing your tastebuds with its sweet-tart taste and flakey-crisp and buttery crust.

The Force is strong with this one.

It doesn’t help that this pie is also 1) the easiest one I’ve ever made and 2) the quickest pie I’ve ever prepared.

This Cherry Pie will get you, too, and have its way with you. You wont even realize you’re eating the entire pie until you’re three slices in…and there’s no going back. I should know; I’ve made it more than a dozen times over the last five years. This may explain the number on my scale…

Be warned.

RECIPE:

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/4 cups sugar plus 1 TBSP sugar for sprinkling on crust

1/4 cup corn starch

1/4tsp cinnamon

pinch salt

3 cans of Oregon tart cherries, strained and pitted. Not cherry filling (gross). You could use fresh tart cherries, or canned tart cherries from your garden, but make sure you’ve got between 6-8 cups worth.

1/4tsp almond extract

1 recipe double pie crust (the recipe is about half-way through the apple pie post…)

1 TBSP milk (half &half) for milk wash

Adding sugar.

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare the pie crust. If you’re planning to make a lattice top, you’ll need to put one ball of the dough in the freezer for about 20minutes…so…do this first.

Cover a rimmed baking sheet in aluminum foil. If you neglect this, you will regret it later when you’re trying to scrub the darn thing clean.

Adjust oven rack so it is in the lowest position; place that rimmed baking sheet on the rack and turn up the oven all the way to 500. Don’t be scared when the smoke alarm goes off; it means an angel just got its wings.

In a bowl, mix the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt. Stir in drained and pitted cherries, add almond extract. You can add a smidge more sugar if the cherries are particularly tart (and if they are, or are fresh, or both, then let the cherries sit in this mixture for about 20minutes before proceeding).

Life is just a bowl of cherries, don’t take it serious; it’s too mysterious! And this is a glimpse in to a moment of my sweet life (to make it less mysterious):  This bowl of cherries is soaking in its sugar and spices on top of the beautiful hand-me-down kitchen table my girlfriend Monica recently gifted me so my 6’4″ husband would stop hitting his head on the random chandelier in the kitchen that (now) hangs above it; the bowl was part of a 3-bowl set (of which only two still survive) from our wedding 9 years ago; the apron on the back of that chair is a vintage apron I’m quite fond of; the chair it is on is an antique I picked up at a big festival in a teeny town that just happens to match (exactly) an antique chair that comes from my mom’s side of the family that I was given when I got my first apartment in college. That chair has moved seven times with me before it finally found its mate. The china hutch in the background is an antique children’s piece I’ve had since childhood that used to hold my little treasures and books and today holds my Emile Henry pie plate collection, my wire chicken egg basket collection, and other miniature and tiny culinary treasures. Next to the bowl is my handy-dandy recipe notebook and in the far background, that green blur, is my taste-tester, trying to sneak a taste of the tart cherries.

Easy so far, right?

Now put the pie filling in the prepared pie dish.Add top crust (lattice or cut outs or whatever your heart desires). Crimp edges.

Brush the top crust with the milk, then sprinkle sugar on it.

if you want beautiful crusts, get your fingers wet and massage the crust until it blends perfectly with the rest of the crust. I didn’t feel like doing that…

Cover edges with a pie protector. If you don’t have one, bend some aluminum foil around the rim of the pie to protect it.

Place pie on the pre-heated baking sheet and then place it in the oven on the lowest rack, and turn temp DOWN to 425. Bake for about 25 minutes or until crust is golden. Rotate the sheet, turn the oven temp down to 375 and bake another 30 minutes until crust is golden brown. Cool on wire rack until room temperature. Try to resist its awesomeness.

Recipe: Chicken Tortilla Soup

chicken tortilla soup…so good I spilled it!

When I worked at the TV station I usually grabbed lunch at a coffee shop with some of the other reporters. One of our favorite meals was a chicken tortilla soup. It’s taken about six years, but I think I’ve finally found a good chicken tortilla recipe that comes close to the one I enjoyed so much in Idaho.

This recipe is inspired by one from Emeril Lagasse.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 4-6 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped small
  • 2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock
  • 1 lb chicken–whatever is leftover from a roast chicken the night before
  • 1 Tablespoon dried cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
  • 6 stale corn tortillas, cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips (fresh is fine, too)
  • 1 teaspoon Essence, recipe follows
  • 1 avocado peeled, seeded, and chopped, for garnish

Directions

In a Dutch oven or large heavy pot, heat the oil on medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, peppers, salt, cumin, and coriander for 5 minutes. Add the diced tomatos and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the chicken and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cilantro and lime juice, and stir well. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.

Heat the oil in a heavy pot or electric fryer to 350 degrees F. Add the tortilla strips in batches and fry until golden and crisp, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Season with the Essence.

Ladle the soup into 4 or 6 serving bowls. Garnish each serving with the diced avocado, the fried tortilla strips.

Emeril’s ESSENCE Creole Seasoning

  • 1 1/4 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

Yield: 1/3 cup

Recipe from “New New Orleans Cooking”, by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993.

 

Recipe: BEST EVER Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookies? Welcome to the best recipe for the best cookies.

Growing up in the woods of Tracyton, Washington, my mom would make peanutbutter, snickerdoodle, no-bake, spritz…but they never got the same gratitude from my Dad that chocolate chip cookies did.  Dad, and coincidentally Santa, LOVED chocolate chip cookies. Nothing else even came close.

So as soon as I could use a spatula to mix dough, I started making cookies for my Dad. New Years Eve of 1992 I was 11 years old–and made chocolate chip cookies from a box mix all night long in to the new year. I went through four giant  boxes of mix and  made over 350 cookies that night. My mom gasped at the sight of her kitchen in the morning; Dad stopped asking for chocolate chip cookies for a while after that. Mom told him he should have enough to last him until the next year.  I think we froze them…

The view from my kitchen window…It’s cookie weather, for sure.

What I learned from that experience is that it is nice to have some control over your ingredients. The only thing I had to add to the box mix was water. No eggs, no oil, nothing but water. This was unsatisfactory; I wanted more chocolate chips than what came in the box. I wanted chocolate with chips of cookie, not the other way around. But as a kid, with no car and no skills beyond mixing in water and spooning dough on to a cookie sheet, I wasn’t really in a position to make decisions about ingredients.

Today, with three inches of fluffy white stuff already on the  ground and another three forecast, I took out two sticks of butter to soften and got to work. It’s cookie weather.

Recipe made 48 cookies

While all chocolate chip cookies are good, not many are great. These, however, are great. They even have the beautiful cracks on the top that you find on those fancy-schmancy  bakery cookies. Also like fancy-schmancy bakery cookies, I used chunks of chocolate instead of chips…because when you’re an adult you get to make decisions like that.

This recipe is modified from one at allrecipes.com

**To make Dairy-Free: Swap the butter for Earth Balance and the chocolate chunks for Enjoy Life Mega Chunks

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup butter, softened**
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons hot water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks (chips are ok, too, but chunks are so much more substantial)**
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Cream together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water and dissolve. Add salt to hot water baking soda mix. Add to batter. Stir in flour, chocolate chunks and nuts. Drop by large spoonfuls onto ungreased pans.
  3. Bake for about 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges are nicely browned. It took me about 14 minutes in the oven, so watch the cookies after about 9 minutes.

Recipe: Meatless Monday: Black Bean Lettuce Bundles

There are two types of people: Those who look at this picture and think, “dog puke” and those who notice the beautiful rainbow of  bell peppers, scallions, the white specks of garlic and think, “Dinner!”

Luckily, my 6.5 year old falls in to the second camp; he’s already had five servings of this to eat tonight. Good thing we have three bathrooms, that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

I first found this recipe at Whole Foods, and they got it from Joel Fuhrman, M.D.’s Eat for Health.  After having this dish and watching my fellas devour their dinner like everything they’ve ever eaten until this point was, well, dog puke,  I think I’m going to buy the book set. That’s how good this little concoction is. It is really good. I mean, really, really good. So good Matt asked that we please serve it every Monday.

What I adore about black beans is that for their humble reputation as an affordable pantry staple, they actually rival grapes and cranberries for antioxidant content . Add that to their fiber and protein content, and these little things become the super food of the canned food aisle.

Did I mention this recipe is also really quick? Start to finish, it took less than 10 minutes. And that it’s low-calorie (about 225 calories/serving).

And it’s cheap! FTW!

Yum!

Serves 4….(each serving has about 14g of protein, 14g of fiber and 225 calories…but I suggest you do your own calorie calculations based on your ingredients)

INGREDIENTS:

2 cans cooked no-salt added black beans

1/2 large avocado

1/2 green bell pepper (I used left over red and yellow bell peppers instead)

3 scallions, chopped

1/3 cup fresh cilantro (I used about a half Tablespoon of dried cilantro)

2 Tablespoons lime juice

1 tsp ground cumin

1 clove garlic, minced

1/3 cup mild low-sodium salsa

8 large romaine lettuce leaves

DIRECTIONS:

Drain and rinse beans. Heat beans over medium heat until warm, about 5 minutes. Mash beans and avacado in a bowl, then  mix all ingredients except lettuce. Use lettuce as tortillas and place about 1/4 cup of the bean mix in to the center of each lettuce leaf.