Sunday, October 14, 2012

Chicken Soup with Herb Dumplings

I just had the best anniversary! My husband gave me a card, among other things, that ended with "With all my love, your husband." I have the best husband in the world, and I don't tell him that enough. It's hard to believe it's been four years since our wedding. We went to Vermont to take anniversary pictures to celebrate. Hopefully I can share them with you soon!

Actually, we are both recovering from a week long cold. During which, all I wanted to eat was soup. Thick chicken soup with dumplings. This is the best thing to eat when you're under the weather. It will warm you right up.

Chicken Soup with Dumplings
Makes 4 servings

2 chicken thighs
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
2 carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 cups water

Herb Dumplings
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp basil
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp chopped parsley
4 tbsp cold butter, cubed
1 tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season chicken thighs with salt, pepper, oregano, and thyme. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes with the skin side up in a flame proof casserole. Take the chicken thighs out. Remove the skin and bones. Divide the chicken into bite size chunks and set aside. Add the olive oil and heat it on medium high heat. Cook carrots and celery until tender. Turn the heat down to medium. Add the skins and bones back in the pan with water and Worcestershire sauce. Bring a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes.

In the mean time, make the herb dumplings. Stir together the flour, salt, oregano, basil, baking powder, ground black pepper, and parsley in a medium bowl. Add butter and rub into the mixture with your finger tips. Stir in the milk to make a very thick batter. Bring the soup into a boil and drop the dumplings in with a spoon. Simmer for another 20 minutes.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Green Tomato Pie

Well, it has been a while. I will try not to neglect my little blog so long next time. Get sneak peeks for what's coming up by subscribing to The Sweetness of Pie on facebook!

Summer has passed by us quickly. It took our tomatoes the whole season to grow on an apartment balcony. We now have three ripe tomatoes. The rest are still pretty green and it's getting chilly out. Some people suggested harvesting them and leaving them on the counter. Other people suggested a green tomato pie. You know how much I like pies. There's no need to guess which route I chose.

The recipe I used is a simple one. It's very much like an apple pie recipe. The cooked green tomatoes tasted to me like plums.

Green Tomato Pie
Crust: from JoyofBaking
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, chilled
1/2 cup ice water

Filling: from Southern Food
6 medium to large green tomatoes, quartered and sliced
grated peel from 1 lemon
juice from 1 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp milk
Demerara sugar for sprinkling

Pulse the flour, salt, sugar, and butter in a food processor until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Add ice water and pulse until it comes together into a ball. Form into two disks, wrap it in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes in the fridge. My tiny 2 cup food processor processed this twice to make two disks.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cook tomato slices, lemon peel, lemon juice, salt, and ground cinnamon in a medium saucepan over low heat. Combine sugar and corn starch and stir into the mixture. Cook about twenty minutes, or until tomatoes are softened and filling has a thick consistency. It never really turns clear for me. Add butter and remove from heat.

Roll out the crusts for a 9-inch pie pan. Pour in the filling, top with crust. Cut slits and brush the top of the pie with milk and sprinkle with  Demerara sugar. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until the crust is golden brown. Cool for an hour before serving.

Served with vanilla ice cream. I hope you enjoyed this post! Until next time!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Guest Blogger: Serena's Summer Sangria

Hi There! This is Serena, Shirley's sister. This drink is an all-around excellent drink for all of summer. From escaping the smoldering summer heat to the end of the season when you want to savor the very last bit of it. This sangria recipe is slightly adapted from Emeril Lagasse.

Summer Sangria
Serves 6

1 bottle (750 ml) brandy
1 bottle (2 liter) wine
5 lemons, sliced
1 pint blueberries
1/2 pint strawberries, whole
4 medium green apples, sliced
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup agave syrup, more for sweetness
Ice for serving
Sparkling water for serving

Mix lemons, blueberries, strawberries, green apples, and raisins in a large bowl. In another large bowl, add one layer of mix, drizzle 2 tablespoons of agave sugar. Repeat three more times until all the fruit and agave sugar are mixed. Pour in brandy and wine. Marinate for at least 24 hours. Serve with ice and sparking water.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Peaches n' Cream Pop

Are you sad summer's coming to an end? Make some peaches n' cream pops to savor the end of summer!

Peaches n' Cream Pops
Makes 3 pops

1 peach, pit removed
2 tbsp cream
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp honey

Slice peach. Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Pour into Popsicle container and set in freezer until frozen.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie and Lessons Learned

This is my first time making strawberry rhubarb pie! They say this is an old time-y pie, but I don't remember ever eating one. Perhaps I have once or twice, but they didn't stick in my memory.

But many people have told me it's their favorite pie. Since my in-laws had rhubarb growing in their suburban garden, I figure this is a good opportunity to try baking one myself.

I adapted the recipe from Epicurious, with only 2 cups of cut rhubarb and milk instead of egg for glazing. I also had about a quarter of the pie dough left in the end.

The strawberry was from the market.

The pie was delicious but I had some issues with the crust. I learn best by doing. So here are my lessons learned.

(1) Cut butter in the flour first, then add vegetable shortening. If you're not using a food processor and are manually cutting in the butter and vegetable shortening, the different consistencies tend to leave the butter in large chunks.

(2) Leave only one inch or less overhang on the bottom crust. Otherwise the crust will sag in the oven. But build the edge up taller than the pie pan so it doesn't shrink too much.

(3) Make larger crimps when working with a crust made with vegetable shortening. Because the crust will expand and smaller decorations tend to lose shape.

(4) Cool pie completely before covering. Otherwise the condensation will make the crust soggy.

(5) Strawberry rhubarb pies are so yummy! Make more!! Whatever issues I had with the crust didn't matter, because in the end, the pie was delicious and we got to share it with our friends at the church picnic.

And eat more pie everyone! Until next time~

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Watermelon Popsicle

I can't believe it's the middle of August already. Before the summer slips by me, I want to make something summer-y. These recipes for grownup pops came at just the right time. I made the watermelon pops using honey and vanilla yogurt.

Watermelon Pops
Adapted from NPR

Watermelon Layer
8 oz watermelon (about 15 1 in. cubes)
2 tbsp vanilla yogurt
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
18 semisweet chocolate chips

Lemon Layer
3 tbsp milk
3 tbsp water
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp honey
yellow food coloring

First strain the blended watermelon. Whisk in vanilla yogurt, honey and lemon juice. Set aside. Stir together ingredients for the lemon layer and add enough yellow food coloring to achieve desired color.

Heat up a small frying pan. Take it off the stove. Use chopsticks or tweezers to pick up one chocolate chip at a time and set it on the frying pan for 1-2 seconds to melt the bottom. Stick it on the inside of the popsicle container carefully. If melted chocolate gets on the sides of container wipe it off. Stick about 3-4 chocolate chips in each container.

Pour in the watermelon layer until about an inch from the top. Set in the freezer until the top layer has a thin layer of ice, about two hours. Pour in the lemon layer and insert the popsicle stick. Freeze until solid.

I find they are much easier to remove if they are set in a bowl of water for a couple of minutes before serving. Enjoy on a hot summer day!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies & Thoughts on Normalcy

Sometimes life gets so busy that it gets the best of me. I forget that it's not normal that dishes are left undone, and meals are hastily prepared, and the bathroom is left dusty. Bill's been filling in as I run from work to school to yoga. It's the kind of life I tried to avoid ever since I graduated from college.

It took a batch of chocolate chip cookies to remind me what is normal. Normal is freshly baked breads and family dinners and board game nights and drinks with friends. And time to breathe. It's time to work on getting life back to normal.

This is just Hersey's chocolate chip cookie recipe with walnuts. The recipe makes 5 dozen, and we had enough for the weekend my mother-in-law visited, a BBQ dinner with church friend, and camping with my sister-in-law.

My mom is visiting soon. I hope she will enjoy the chocolate chip cookies!

I also made white chocolate macadamia nut cookies with some leftover ingredients.

If you have a busy life, slow down and enjoy a cookie. You deserve it!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Blueberry Strawberry Pie

It's been a while since I've made a pie. What better time than the Fourth of July?

Surprisingly, the Internet has very few recipes with just strawberry and blueberry to offer. So I adapted this three berry pie recipe from one of the most dependable recipe blogs: JoyOfBaking, with 2 cups of blueberries and 3 cups of halved strawberries.

The lemon/sugar mixture is a dry mixture.

The pie crust is from SmittenKitchen. At first I was very skeptical because the dough was not as crumbly as I'm used to, but it bakes really well!

Once the pie crust is rolled out, pour in the berry mixture.

Then I cut out stripes with a pastry cutter. Very evenly as always.

Of course I could have studied up on the craft of making a lattice pie crust, but I decided to improvise...because a summer cabin and a day of fishing was about to begin! So this is how I started, alternating over and under strips.

The filling bubbled up. The crust was puffy and flaky. The pie was delicious without being overly tart.

Cut a piece and enjoy your Independence Day!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Peanut Butter Cupcakes With Cake Banner

I've been seeing cake banners popping up all over the blogosphere. People are so creative and clever! Too bad Bill's birthday has passed this year. Around the same time, though, I found out it was my yoga instructor's birthday and was also dumbfounded how young all the yoga instructors at the studio was. When did people around me start to get younger?

Anyway, I decided to make a peanut butter cupcake because I've never made this kind before, and it's always fun to try new things. Besides, protein is good for you after a tough workout. Then I made a cake banner! After yoga class, we had a teeny tiny celebration. It turns out *two* yoga instructors had birthdays in the same week. The cake banner was a big hit. Cupcakes too.

I didn't change the recipe at all, except I sprinkled some pecans on top of it. Contrary to the recipe comments, my feedback included that they had just the right amount of peanut butter flavor, and that they're good enough to eat four at one setting! Although, in my opinion, the cupcake was just a little on the dry side.

So here are the picture! The batter was just scrumptious-looking.

I have a tendency to over fill the cupcake liners, causing them to look like muffins. Although the toothpick came out dry, the middle still sunk in, which is probably the reason they turned out a little dry.

Decorate the cupcakes and sprinkle nuts on top if you wish.

To decorate the cake stand, I added a parchment paper cutout. Outline with something's useful at this point that the cake stand is also a lazy susan...then fold it in half to cut the shape. It didn't look too bad for being parchment paper! But beware, the parchment paper causes the cupcakes to slide on the stand during transportation. I lost two cupcakes that way.

Last but not least, the cake banner was set in position.

All set for a birthday party! What's your favorite birthday cake decoration?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Making Cake Donuts with a Gadget *gasp!*

I like making things by hand. Well, not technically by hand...I can't live without my KitchenAid...but more or less I like to put in my personal touch. I think bread makers and cake mixes take all the fun out of it. If you're looking for convenience, well, it's much more convenient to buy and sometimes cheaper too. But when I wrecked my brain trying to come up with a third item for the church coffee hour--besides lemon bars and white bean brownies--I suddenly remembered this little gadget my mom gave me for Christmas.

The batter is a simple one, like a pancake batter.

Basic Donut Recipe
Makes 21 mini donuts

1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
4 tbsp cooking oil

Preheat Bella Mini Donut Maker. Stir flour, sugar, and baking powder together in a large bowl. Whisk egg, milk, and vanilla in a small bowl. Add egg mixture to flour mixture. Beat with an electric mix for one minute on low. Add oil and beat one more minute. Pour one tablespoon of batter in each well. Close the lid for three minutes. Remove from Donut Maker and place on paper towels. Dip mini donuts in anything you like!

I dipped them in chocolate (1/2 cup melted chocolate mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons of milk), sugar glaze (1/2 cup powdered sugar with 3-4 tablespoons of milk), and powdered sugar.

It was really a lot of fun and an easy way to make a lot of tasty snacks at once. Plus homemade mini donuts are kind of unusual so it was kind of treat at coffee hour. I don't usually make food for a large crowd, but if I were to do it again, mini donuts would for sure make the menu!