Thursday, November 17, 2011

Perfect Pie Crust

Every year, just before Thanksgiving, I make pie crusts. I got this recipe years ago from Make a Mix Cookery Cookbook, though I have made changes to that original recipe. I love that I can make all my crusts at once, freeze what I don't use for Thanksgiving, and can have delicious pie in minutes all through the year. ( I can make an apple pie in 30-40 minutes, as I start it in the microwave. I'll have to share that recipe sometime. ) This crust turns out perfect every time. It's a bit of a project to make, but then SO nice to have those balls of dough just waiting for me in the freezer. Here's what you'll need:
5 lb. bag of white flour (About 20 cups) Even though I have flour in my storage, I always buy the 5 lb. bag. It turns out better than trying to measure it.
2 1/2 T. salt (this is one change I made. The original had less salt, but I think it's better with this amount)
1 (3lb.) can shortening- Crisco
3 cups ice water(I just put some ice in my measuring cup and add the water and let it get really cold)
More flour, as needed
Plastic wrap
Aluminum foil

In a very large bowl, combine flour and salt. Mix well. Put the full can of shortening on top and cut it into the flour with a pastry blender (I always end up using my hands at the end.) Be careful not to handle it more than necessary to get it mixed. You don't want to release gluten. When of a uniform consistency, add the very cold water all at once. Mix lightly until the water is absorbed. It should resemble putty. If the dough is really sticky, sprinkle a little flour in and mix in. It is a very moist dough. Divide the dough into nine equal portions (the recipe said ten, but I find it makes the portions a little too skimpy.) Form the portions into oblong rolls. Each roll makes two crusts, so oblong is perfect for dividing in two. Wrap each roll in plastic wrap, then in foil. You can write "Pie Crust" and the date right on the foil. Freeze any you aren't using now. Each roll will make one double-crust pie, or two single-crust pies.

Baked Pie Crust
Divide the dough into two balls. Roll out dough with a rolling pin into a large circle on a lightly floured board or waxed paper. Place the dough in a pie pan. Flute the edges. Prick well with the tines of a fork. Bake in a 425 oven for 10-15 minutes. Watch it closely and remove when just lightly browned. There's nothing worse than burned pie crust.
For a two-crust pie, follow the recipe instructions.

Note for the kids: You can use your trimmings, too. Roll out and cut into strips. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake until lightly browned.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Candied Yams

This is my personal favorite part of Thanksgiving and an essential in the Hinton household for this holiday. The original recipe came from Grandpa and Grandma Gabe and Aunt Pam. I got it from my Mom's super helpful cookbook, "Kitchen Fun with Kay." My mouth is watering right now just thinking about these yams. A dessert disguised as a veggie . . . awesome.

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
(1/3 cup) -- 3/4 stick butter
2 T water
Boil about 3 minutes in a saucepan, until the sugars are fully dissolved. Be sure not to boil it too long or it will harden and create a crust over the yams. The ideal is to keep it saucy.

6 medium yams, steamed until soft. Slice in pan. Pour sauce over. Bake 350 for about 1/2 hour. So yummy!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Peppermint Chocolate Christmas Cake

1 (18.25 oz) package devils food cake mix
1 (5.9 oz) package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup warm water
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup crushed peppermint candies, divided
Whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, a spoon full of peppermint, sour cream, oil, eggs, and water. Pour batter into 2 well-greased round pans.
Bake for 40 minutes and sprinkle chocolate chips to cover the top of one of the cake rounds. Return to oven until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake thoroughly in pans, invert and remove from pans. Place the cake without chocolate chips on top of the cake with chocolate chips so that the chocolate layer is in the middle. Frost with whipped cream and sprinkle remaining peppermint candy.