Sunday, December 24, 2017

Vodka Pie Crust

Long time, no see!  I've gone through a drought of motivation, inspiration and energy to do much.  There's been a lot of take-out involved (shame).  But, 'tis the holidays, and it's time to bring on a little holiday spirit.  I'm looking to make a homemade chocolate cream pie for tomorrow's Feast of Christmas Eve, and came here to look for the Vodka Pie Crust I made last year.  But it wasn't here!  Further proof I've gotten super lazy (sigh).
Last year was the first year I had ever made a homemade pie crust.  To be honest, I felt super intimidated by it for some reason.  But thanks to my new Ninja food processor and this recipe I found on Food Network, I conquered my fears and made (in my opinion) a delicious pie crust.

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. fine salt
  • 1 ½ sticks (12 Tbsp.) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup vodka
  • 3 to 4 Tbsp. ice-cold water

  1. Pulse the flour, shortening, sugar, salt and 4 tablespoons of the butter in a food processor until it has the consistency of a fine meal.
  2. Add the remaining 8 tablespoons butter, and pulse until you have pea-sized pieces.
  3. Sprinkle the vodka and water over the flour, and pulse until the dough just comes together.
  4. Evenly divide the dough between 2 pieces of plastic wrap, and gently pat each into a round.
  5. Wrap each round tightly and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour and up to overnight. 

Makes (2) 9” crusts for single crust pies, or (1) double-crusted pie

The dough can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Credit:  Food Network - Original Recipe

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Savory Ricotta Scones

Catherine and I had a biscuit-off – I made the buttermilk biscuits and she wanted to try and savory biscuit.  She found this recipe off Pinterest – these scones are so flavorful.  They were a little crunchy on the outside, but softer on the inside – a really great consistency.  These were a great addition to our Feast of Christmas Eve, but also as leftovers with our eggs on Christmas morning.

Prep Time – 15 minutes
Cook Time – 20 min
Total Time – 35 minutes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • ¾ Tbsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 5 Tbsp. chilled unsalted butter
  • ½ cup green onions or scallions, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp. water (for egg wash)
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • smoked paprika
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Grate butter into the flour mixture and stir with a fork until the consistency of coarse meal.
  4. Stir in scallions and fresh herbs.
  5. Add ricotta cheese, then add milk and stir until just combined.
  6. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
  7. Knead 2 to 3 times, then pat dough into a 9-inch rectangle.
  8. Dip knife into flour and cut dough into 12 equal pieces.
  9. Transfer scones to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  10. Brush tops liberally with egg wash.
  11. Sprinkle tops with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and smoked paprika.
  12. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until scones are golden brown.
Adapted from Life, Love and Good Food blog

Buttermilk Biscuits

For Feast of Christmas Eve, I wanted to make some biscuits to go with dinner.  I looked on Pinterest and when I saw this recipe with the description of being flaky, buttery, fluffy AND super easy to make, I was so sold.  My biggest concern was all of the warnings about not overworking the dough or they would come out like sad little hockey pucks.  Luckily, I was on the lazier side of working the dough (mostly based on all of the warnings and my fear), and they came out great.  Everyone loved them.  My husband actually thought they were pre-made from the pop-til-you’re-scared can.  He was shocked that I made them from scratch.  I’m so excited to now have a go-to biscuit recipe!

Prep time:  15 minutes
Cook time:  15 minutes
Total time:  30 minutes
Serves: 6-8

  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 8 Tbsp. cold, unsalted butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 Tbsp. salted butter, melted

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F
  2.  Sift flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl. Transfer to a food processor.
  3. Cut butter into cubes and add to flour, then pulse 6 or 7 times until the mixture resembles rough crumbs. (Alternatively, cut butter into flour in the mixing bowl using a grater, fork or a pastry cutter.)
  4. Return dough to bowl, add buttermilk and stir with a fork until it forms a rough ball (don’t worry if it is a little sticky).
  5. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll it into a rough rectangle, about an inch thick. Fold it over and gently roll it down again. Repeat 6 times.  DO NOT OVERWORK THE DOUGH.
  6. Forms a rectangle and cut dough into biscuits using a floured glass or biscuit cutter. Do not twist cutter when cutting; this will crimps the edges of the biscuit causing it not to rise.
  7. Repeat using the scraps to reform a rectangle and cut additional biscuits.
  8. Place biscuits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake until golden brown, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
  9. Brush melted butter over tops of biscuits before serving

Adapted from Cooking Maniac blog

Kahlúa Pudding Pie

This was the holiday pie of the year -- I made it for both Thanksgiving and Feast of Christmas Eve.  I liked the idea of making a homemade pudding, rather than out of the box, and everyone liked the idea of the Kahlua in it.  It's basically a velvety, chocolate cream pie with a Kahlua and cinnamon kick.

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook: 4 hours 40 minutes

For the crust:
  • 14 whole graham crackers
  • 1 Tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. In a food processor, add graham crackers, brown sugar and butter, pulsing until moistened.
  3. Use the bottom of a measuring cup, glass, or ramekin to press the crust mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate.
  4. Bake until fragrant and golden brown, about 12 minutes.
  5. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For the pudding:
  • 1 Tbsp. unflavored gelatin
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tsp. instant espresso powder
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. salt3 cups lowfat milk
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • ¼ cup Kahlúa
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  1. In a small bowl combine the gelatin and the boiling water, stirring until dissolved, and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan whisk together the sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. Gradually add the milk, whisking until smooth.
  4. Set over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil, about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate and Kahlúa.
  6. Stir in the vanilla and reserved gelatin.
  7. Pour into cooked piecrust and press plastic wrap against the surface. Refrigerate until very well chilled, at least 4 hours but preferably overnight.

For the whipped cream:
  • 3/4 cup cold heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Kahlúa
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder or grated milk chocolate, for garnish

  1. Place the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form.
  2. Dollop or pipe onto pie
  3. Add sifted cocoa powder or grated milk chocolate over pie for garnish.
  4. Slice and serve.

Adapted from:  Handle the Heat blog