Monday, September 24, 2012

Mozzarella Sticks

When I was young, we lived in Southern California for a time. Our favorite spaghetti joint was a place called Vince's. I remember one of my cousins suggesting that instead of going to Vince's, we should change things up and go to Spaghetti Factory. I had never been to Spaghetti Factory, but I knew I wouldn't like it. I scoffed at her, "Spaghetti Factory? Who wants to eat at a factory?" In my mind it was as likely a restaurant name as Meat Factory, or Rice Factory. Completely unappetizing.  I mean, where would you choose to eat-Vince's or Spaghetti Factory? (Vince's is the obvious choice...would you eat at Tio Pepe's or Taco Factory??? Come on people!)
I didn't know it, but I was already a food snob. Or maybe I was just a snob.
The Old Spaghetti Factory isn't that bad, but that's really not relevant.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Baby Boy Shower

Well, we have been trying to move this last week, and all I have to say is, we haven't really moved anything, yet.
Our renter had a cat living inside and it destroyed the carpet in two rooms. There is lots of repainting that needs to be done, so I am working on that while we are haggling with Home Depot and their flooring department.  And when I say haggling, I mean haggling. You would not believe some of the stuff if I told you.
On top of that, we have had a little run in with the flu virus. But hopefully we didn't share and we have seen the last of it.

That said, hopefully we will be in by the end of the week and things can get back to normal.

Friday, September 7, 2012

DIY Hot Sauce-Tabasco

This recipe has been a long time in coming. I mean a long time. I have been planning to make this since the beginning of time. Not really, but sometimes it feels like that. It started quite a few years ago, when Saveur Magazine had it's Saveur 100. This is a list of 100 cooking gadgets/tools, recipes, restaurants, people, name it, it's there. Anything remotely linked to food can be found on this list. So, anyway, they had a hot sauce recipe. I took one look at that and knew I needed to make it. My husband LOVES hot sauce. I am not even joking. When we were first married he poured Frank's Red Hot on EVERYTHING-pizza, eggs, tacos from Jack in the Box, spaghetti, whatever. It was gross. He has since been reformed by a long and tedious process that has been painful at times, but he has been clean now for over a year,

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cooking School-Pie Crust

"I love the leaves I do not know why. Is it their colors or how they fly? They crunch and crinkle Under my feet; I pile them up And take a leap!"

Author: Beth Paulsen

Labor Day is a bittersweet holiday. I don't care what the calendar says, it officially marks the last day of summer. School is in full swing, which means my planner is bursting with new music students, practices have begun for the annual Christmas cantata, and I have to seriously start planning my recital. Production is in full swing for my mom's annual holiday boutique and the birthday parade has begun: Mine in September, my mom's, niece's, and husband's in October, my dad's, brother's, and son's in November, my sister's in December, and my son's in January.
For me, this is officially the beginning of the Christmas season. With all these special practices for recital and cantata, Christmas music is now constantly being reviewed, scrutinized, and chosen. Holiday-themed fabrics are out, names are chosen for the Christmas exchange, and plans are being made with relatives for these special days. The chilly nights make my fingers itch to get out the sweaters, scarves, and shawls. But best of all, soon it will be enjoyable to spend the day in the kitchen, again. Decorating cookies, trips to coffee shops in the rain, and taking the kids to the park to play in the leaves are things to look forward to in the cooling weather. That, and pie-making. I would be totally fine if we changed the name of the season from 'Fall', to 'Pie'. It just has a nice ring to it. You would see signs that greet passers-by, "Happy Pie!". It would bring a smile to my face. Spring, Summer, Pie, Winter. It definitely fits. But best of all, it would be a whole season dedicated to the art of Pie-Making!
Now, I know some of you don't share my fervor, and I have to think that a contributing factor to your lack of enthusiasm is the fact that you don't like your pie crust. Pie is the one thing we all have in common, whether you enjoy making French pastries or your holidays include tamales, pie is American. The problem is the crust. I know a lot of people who just don't like theirs, it won't work for them, or they don't know how to manage it. If this is you, try again. I sampled several crusts before I found one that worked for me, and I still play around with others, just to see if I find something I like more. I have said this before, my mom and I don't use the same crust. She uses a shortening crust that I can't do anything with.
Shortening crusts are a little denser, so they hold up really well to fillings. The problem with them is, well, they are denser. You don't really want a heavy crust, so you have to be really careful. Butter crusts, on the other hand are very flaky, but they can be crumbly, too. I have to problem with crumbly. Supposedly, a mixture of butter and shortening can yield a fantastic crust, that can hold up to its fillings and still be very flaky. I guess I should try it.
I have never had a problem with my butter crust, and it comes together in a snap in the food processor. Sounds like a winner, right? Well, here are recipes for four different pie crusts, starting with my butter crust. After that, its a cinch. Well, not all the time. I have outlined step by step instructions for rolling out the dough and baking blind (which is baking before a filling is in your pie-pecan, any fresh fruit, chocolate).
Your pie recipe will give you instructions for baking a filled pie.
Looking for a pie? Here are my recipes for pumpkin, my caramel apple pie, strawberry cream cheese, and this amazing pecan.

 After making your pie dough, refrigerate for forty minutes, then leave out for twenty minutes. (This is essential to your dough. It will keep it from shrinking)

1. Flour your work surface and rolling pin.

2. Place your dough on surface and lightly flour that also.

 3. Roll out the dough north south, east west, northeast southwest, northwest southeast, and repeat. Continue until your crust is about 1/4 larger than your pie dish.

4. Lightly flour then fold in half.

5. Lightly flour again, then fold in half again.

 6. Lay quartered crust into your pie dish, and unfold.

7. Trim with a knife to about 1-inch over the edge of the plate.


 8. Fold the edge of the crust by pinching it between your thumbs and forefingers, as pictured.

9. Continue around the edge.

 10. Preheat the oven to 400.

11. Fold parchment in half over and over, holding the center, until you have a small piece. Cut this to fit the inside of the pie plate.

12. Place inside unbaked crust.

13. Fill with pie weights or beans.

14. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove weights. If crust is browning too quickly, cover with foil.
If you need a completely cooked shell, keep cooking for 20-30 minutes more. Otherwise, follow the directions for the pie you are making.

Remember these rules when making crust:
  • keep all your ingredients cold
  • never knead the dough
  • handle as little as possible
  • always let it rest
  • don't be timid. Quickly handle the dough

Monday, September 3, 2012

Cherry Peach Cobbler

Cherries have been one of my favorite treats since I was a little girl. I was gazing at them, fondly, in the grocery store the other day, when my sister told me she thought they were gross. I was like, "What?" "What?!" "WHAT??!!" She just stands there. "They're gross." (just imagine her voice. She has the California Valley Girl accent, for those of you who remember that) JK, she doesn't really. But she seriously doesn't like cherries. I mean, who. doesn't. like. cherries?
When I was a kid I always loved those chocolate covered cherries,

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