Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Homemade Apple Pie with a Buttermilk Crust

It's game time. You've got your food assignments, your materials, now it's time to plan out the execution of the highlight of the Thanksgiving table: pie. Perhaps it's pumpkin or pecan or the classic all-American apple.

Both the crust and the apple filling are from Joy the Baker's Homemade Decadence (side note: going to see her again in 2 weeks, aaaaah!). Unlike last year, I planned ahead. I set aside a fair amount of time to make the crust, let it chill, work on the crust again and let it chill some more. Okay, I still didn't let it chill as much as prescribed but it worked out.

The best that I can tell, when you're making a fruit pie, you don't have to pre-bake the crust like with a pumpkin pie. But you still need a lot of time to chill. Flour, sugar and salt are cut with butter--lots of butter-- to make a crumbly dough. Buttermilk is then added to make a shaggy dough. Shaggy is a very technical term for pie crust, it's not smooth like cookie batter but has a pull-apart quality to it.

This recipe makes two pie crusts so the dough is divided in half. It's okay if the dough is a little crumbly because you're going to knead it a bit so it will stick together more. Round one of the chilling begins with the two disks of dough wrapped in plastic and chilled for 30-60 minutes.

While the crust chills, you can prepare the apples. I used 5 medium sized apples but you could pile that pie higher if you want. There will be a top crust to contain the filling. The apples are sliced and seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar. Also, a little bit of lemon juice. The apples are then left to set for 30 minutes (conveniently while the crust is chilling). This allows the flavors to meld together and the juices to net out.

Those juices are going to be key. After the half hour, strain the apples in a colander over a large bowl. You want to capture about a half cup of juices. Those juices are then heated with butter to create a syrup.

The syrup will take a few minutes to cook so you can roll out your crusts in the meantime. If you're worried about multi-tasking, you can also roll the crust out before making the syrup. The dough can become sticky so make sure you flour your surface and rolling pin. Roll out to 1/8 inch thickness but still large enough to fill the pie pan. Carefully center the crust over the pie dish and push in on all sides. You can trim large pieces of dough that overhangs and patch up thinner areas or save to make a seal with the top crust.

Mix the apples with the cornstarch. I didn't have any so used a 1:3 ratio of flour instead. Once the syrup is done, mix in with the apples and add the apples to the pie pan. In an ideal world, you would have time to let the filled pie chill before baking. However, I didn't do that so no stress. Roll out the second disk of dough and cover the pie. Make sure to seal the top and bottom crusts using a little bit of water or pinching together with a fork. If you're fancy, you can make designs.

Make sure you make some vents in the top crust. I just made a classic flower design but get creative! The last step is brushing the top with an egg wash. This will give it a nice golden shine.

The pie should bake for 45-60 minutes or until the apples are softened. I used a chopstick to test this, through the top crust vents. Make sure you place the pie on a baking sheet to catch any juices that bubble out. No fires on Thanksgiving!

Serve warm, with ice cream or cold for breakfast. Whatever makes you happy. Have a great Thanksgiving!


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon cold buttermilk
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Cut in the cubed, cold butter with your fingers or a pastry cutter. The dough should become crumbly with butter chunks about the size of peas.
  2. Create a well in the flour and pour in the buttermilk. Using a large fork, stir in the buttermilk until combined and the dough becomes shaggy.
  3. Divide the dough into two pieces. On a floured surface, knead the dough into a disk. The dough should be held together now. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Repeat with the second section of dough. 
  4. Once the dough chills, roll out on a well-floured surface until the dough is 1/8 inch thick. Try to roll out evenly to create a circle about a foot across. 
  5. Using one shell, line the pie pan. You will use the second to cover the filled pie (see below). 

  • 5-6 apples (I recommend Granny Smith for their tartness), peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter (for syrup)
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Cover the bowl and allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Set a colander over a bowl and strain the apples to capture 1/2 cup of juice. In a small saucepan, bring the juices to a boil. Add the 2 Tablespoons of butter and allow to cook until syrupy. You won't need to stir much, a syrup should form in about 5 minutes.
  4. Toss the apples with cornstarch while the syrup is cooking. Pour the syrup over the apples and stir to combine.
  5. Fill the prepared pie pan with the apples. Cover with the second pie crust.
  6. Pinch the edges of the pie crusts together. You can seal this with the tines of a fork or use a little bit of water to seal the shells together.
  7. Create vents in the top shell in whatever design you like. Brush with the egg wash. 
  8. Place the pie on a baking sheet to catch any juices during baking.
  9. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 and continue baking for another 40 minutes.
  10. The pie is done when the apples are tender but not squishy. 
  11. Allow the pie to cool before serving.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Kale & Butternut Squash Stuffing

I read an article recently that discussed what people eat at Thanksgiving. The most common answer is "the usual" which makes sense to me, I mean, we're saying stuffing, sweet potato casserole, green beans, cranberry sauce, turkey, mashed potatoes and all the pie. But maybe that also includes butternut squash soup or pumpkin risotto or Jello, no?

Here's a proposal: in all the Friendsgivings, Thanksgivings, and potlucks, there's some room for experimentation on "the usual". This recipe comes from the Oh She Glows cookbook and aligns well with my transition from pumpkin things to Christmas things. This recipe is also super simple.

You could get a whole butternut squash to roast but I bought those convenient pre-cut packaged squash. Not the freshest but certainly convenient! Right up there with pre-peeled chestnuts. The butternut squash is roasted in a casserole dish with garlic, parsley, salt, and olive oil. The lid for my dish was not oven safe so I just covered it with aluminum foil.

While the squash is cooking, almonds and pecans are placed in a food processor with olive oil to create a crunchy topping. When the squash is cooked through, fork-friendly, stir in some chopped kale and the nut mixture. Return to the oven for five more minutes until the nuts are slightly toasted.

I found this was best served warm and if you have guests that have a nut allergy, it still tastes delicious without the almond-pecan topping.

Don't worry, there will be pie!


  • 2-3 lbs. butternut squash, diced (peeled and seeded if using a whole squash)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup kale, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350. 
  2. Chop butternut squash and add cubes to a casserole dish (oven-proof). 
  3. Add the minced garlic, parsley, salt and olive oil to the casserole dish and carefully stir.
  4. Using the dish's lid or aluminum foil, cover the dish and roast for 30-45 minutes until the squash is tender.
  5. Meanwhile, combine the almonds, pecans and olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until chopped into a crumbly consistency. Set aside.
  6. Chop approximately one cup of kale. You can use more if you'd prefer.
  7. Remove the squash from the oven and add the nut topping and kale. Carefully stir together.
  8. Leaving the dish uncovered, continue baking for 5 minutes to toast the almonds and pecans. 
  9. Serve warm! 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Peanut Zoodles with Chicken

I grew up in a small town. The extent to which we had take-out was pizza or Chinese food. It was a really big deal when the grocery store started carrying sushi--mind you, only California roll and spicy tuna but still, big deal. Chinese food will always hold a special place in my heart for being my first introduction into non-American food.

Cold sesame noodles were a staple along with beef and broccoli. So much sauce. The sesame noodles were the inspiration for picking up this recipe. Armed with new-found love of zoodles, this has become a quick and easy meal to make during the week.

Using a spiralizer, we make some long ribbons of zoodles. I try to cut them every once in a while so we don't have a Lady and the Tramp issue later. The zoodles are then cooked in a sauce pan to warm and soften. I also added chopped scallions for flavor.

While the zoodles cook, the peanut sauce is made by mixing together peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce and a little bit of sesame oil. This can get a little difficult to stir but once the sauce is added to the zoodles, the heat will help smooth it out. I also usually bake some chicken during this time to add to the zoodle bowl.

I find tongs are the easiest tool to use to stir up the zoodles and sauce, just because it gets very thick and goopy. Once everything is warmed and the sauce is distributed throughout the zoodles and not just one blob, I add the chicken.

I try to pretend that this will last me a couple nights but if you're only using one zucchini, it probably only makes 2 portions. More zoodles!

  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 2 scallion stalks, chopped
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 Tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Cooked Chicken, diced (optional)
  1. Using a spiralizer or mandolin, create ribbons of zucchini to serve as noodles.
  2. Chop two scallion stalks, green parts only, into small pieces. Add the scallion and zucchini to a skillet over medium heat.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce and sesame oil. Stir to combine.
  4. Add the peanut sauce all at once to the pan with the zoodles. Stir together to spread the sauce throughout. The heat from the pan should help to thin the sauce.
  5. Once the zoodles are cooked, they should still have a little crunch, remove from heat and stir in the chicken (if using).
  6. Serve warm or reheat as leftovers.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Turkey Stuffed Acorn Squash

Even though Halloween is over and all the stores are decorated for the holidays, I'm in the weird limbo of holidays. I only found my Halloween decorations about a week before the 31st so I'm not ready to put them away but it's far too early to hang up Christmas lights. And it would be so sad to go back to my plain apartment so I bought some squash to fill the gap.

But then I ate the squash so I guess I should get more. The season of pumpkin is still relevant but I feel a shift in my cooking towards other gourds. Last year, I replicated my mom's sweet squash recipe with an oatmeal and brown sugar filling. This year, I decided to mix it up with some ground turkey instead.

After the spicy stew last week, the squash was a sweet switch. I only used a tiny bit of brown sugar, relying on cinnamon and cumin for most of the flavor. As with the sweet stuffed squash, the acorn squash is cut at the top and gutted. I'm sure you could roast these seeds but I'm not a big fan of seed eating. I also cut a small piece off the bottom so the squash would sit flat while eating.

The squash is brushed with vegetable oil and roasted in the oven. Meanwhile, I browned the turkey with some onion and garlic. The cumin and cinnamon are added next to really get the flavors going. I added the brown sugar last but only a tablespoon. Lastly, walnuts are added for extra crunch. Once everything is cooked and fragrant, the squash should be good to go!

I had leftover turkey once I had stuffed the squash so just ate it plain. You could probably use 4 acorn squashes (that's a weird word) or just have some chili-type meal as leftovers!

  • 2 acorn squashes, gutted
  • 1 lb of ground turkey
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Cut a small portion off the bottom of each acorn squash so they can sit flat. Next, cut off the tops so you can see the seeds. 
  3. Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds and guts of the acorn squash, much like you would for a jack-o-lantern.
  4. Lightly oil the acorn squash edges and insides with olive oil. Place face down on the baking sheet and roast for 30 minute.
  5. In a medium skillet, brown the ground turkey. You may need to add some vegetable oil to the pan to keep the meat from sticking if you have a very lean beef.
  6. Once the meat is browned, add the diced onions and garlic. Cook together until fragrant.
  7. Stir in the brown sugar, cumin and cinnamon so the spices are spread throughout the pan.
  8. Lastly, add the chopped walnuts. Once the meat is cooked, reduce to a simmer to keep warm.
  9. When the acorn squash is cooked, invert them into a bowl and fill with the turkey stuffing. 
  10. You could also top this with cheese! Enjoy warm or reheated. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Vegan Peanut Stew

You know it's fall when...you finally succumb to the first cough of the season. Colds are no fun and chest colds are rough. But if it means an excuse to drink all my meals as soup and tea, then I guess there's a silver lining.

This stew comes from the Oh She Glows cookbook. I've dabbled in these vegan recipes from time to time and this stew sounded like it was the right amount of hearty and spicy for the darker days of fall. Plus, it has all kinds of veggies in it and after all the Halloween sweets I ate, it's time for a reset.

The vegetables are chopped and cooked first. I thought about adding carrots, you totally could, but in the end, stuck to the recipe. Onions, garlic, bell pepper, jalapeno pepper and sweet potato--that's a lot of chopping.

While those start to cook and soften, add the diced tomatoes. Hopefully, your can opener won't break at the beginning of this process like mine did. Fortunately, you can still use the sharp part of the can opener to punch tiny cuts into the lid, it will just take ten times as long to open the stupid can. Struggles.

The diced tomatoes and juices will help to cook the vegetables while you mix up some broth. Peanut butter and 1 cup of broth are whisked together until no clumps survive. This mixture and another 3 cups of broth (conveniently making one carton) are added to the vegetables. Now we're in business!

Allow the stew to cook until the vegetables are tender. Add the chickpeas and spinach last so they will warm and soften. Clearly you should serve this hot but if you're feeling extra hungry, you can also add some rice.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I must go make some tea and curl up in a ball of warmth and sniffles.

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 28oz can of diced tomatoes (with juices)
  • Paprika (optional for additional heat)
  • 1/3 cup of peanut butter
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth (divided into 1 and 3)
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup of spinach, roughly chopped
  1. Mince the garlic and chop up your onion before adding to a large pot with the olive oil. Cook over medium heat until the onion is translucent. 
  2. While the onion cooks, peel the sweet potato and chop up with the red bell pepper and jalapeno. Add to the pot with the onion and garlic.
  3. Pour the canned tomatoes with juices into the pot. If you like a spicier soup, add paprika to your liking. Stir everything together and allow to cook over medium heat while you prepare the broth.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the peanut butter and 1 cup of vegetable broth. Once all of the peanut butter clumps are gone, add to the pot of vegetables. 
  5. Next, add the remaining 3 cups of vegetable broth.
  6. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pot. Cook until the sweet potato is soft and easily skewered with a fork.
  7. Last, add the torn spinach and drained chickpeas. Stir to combine and allow to simmer until the spinach is wilted.
  8. Serve hot and potentially with rice.