Cookbook Reviews...Fine Cooking Pies, Crisps and Cobblers

I found this book for Myrna - Fine Cooking  Pies, Crisps and Cobblers, with 59 excellent recipes along with lots of good hints for pie success and was really happy that she liked it so much.  I liked this pie book also…and I think you would too.  It’s enough to make me make a pie  – and I will for the holidays coming up.  
However, I really don’t need to make pie – we are on Myrna’s “Pie Route” – and get deliveries of pieces of pie often.   Myrna’s pie fans actually remind her when they haven’t had their favorite pie in awhile!!
So that’s why she’s making the pie and crisps from this great book.  Hope you'll find something you'll want to try too!

Apple Crisp with Pecans and Orange

Pear and Brown Sugar Crisp

Buttermilk Pie

Apple Cider Pie - Sue's favorite

Family Favorites...Soft Vanilla Cookies

Filled with preserves
 When I want to bake cookies I often turn to Fine Cooking Holiday Edition,  2012 for a recipe. I always have very good luck with their cookie recipes. These are simple to make and very tasty.
What I found amazing was that dropping them from a cookie scoop they turned into prefect circles looking like I had rolled and cut them out. 
Just plain to eat with your cup of coffee
  We ate some with apricot jelly in-between as they suggest, using your favorite jelly or jam, and I left some just plain. If you put sugar on them, do it after they come out of the oven and before they are completely cool. They do however make a small amount of cookies and I kept the dough refrigerated as I was baking them as they have quite a bit of butter in the dough and it was warm in our kitchen.
  Lyle said he would recommend them and Bettie’s daughter thought they were good also.
Soft Vanilla Cookies
6 ¾ ounces (1 ½ cups) all purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
6 ounces (¾ cup) butter at room temperature
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean, or 1 ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
  Heat oven to 375°. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. 
  In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder until well blended. In another medium bowl, beat the butter on medium-high with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue beating until well combined, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and beat until well blended about 1 minute longer. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just blended.
  If your kitchen is warm, keep dough in the refrigerator when you are not using it.
  Using a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop or 2 tablespoons arrange the dough in mounds about 3 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake until the edges are golden brown about 9 to 14 minutes. Nine minutes worked just right in my oven. Let cookies set on pans for 5 minutes before removing to rack to cool. Sprinkle with sugar when just barely warm if desired.
 They can be put together with your favorite fruit preserves or eaten just as one cookie. 
 Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days or freeze for up to a month.

Freezer Chicken Pot Pie Filling

Here’s my favorite recipe for using those frozen pie crusts in my freezer…freezer pot pie filling…most of the mess and work are done ahead, and you simply combine your crust and filling and bake!
If you wish, you can use leftover mashed potatoes for the topping and skip the pie crust.   Simply spread the potatoes over the filling, top with a little melted butter and bake.  You can also just put a top crust on your individual pies in small casseroles and bake until the crust is brown and the filling is bubbly.
You can use the recipe for Perfect Poached Chicken for this recipe, or leftover turkey works well.  You can use Home Canned Chicken Breasts or Home Canned Turkey   too. 
Having packages of the pot pie filling and of the pie crust in my freezer sure makes pot pies easier!        
                        Freezer Chicken Pot Pie
  6        ounces  onion -- chopped
  5        ounces  celery -- chopped
  5        ounces  carrots -- chopped
  2        tablespoons  butter -- melted
  2        ounces  flour, all-purpose
  2        cups  chicken broth
  1        cup  evaporated milk
  20      Ounces  cooked chicken breast halves without skin, diced -- 2 pounds uncooked
  5        ounces  frozen peas -- thawed
            Dough for 4 single pie crusts
Assembly Directions:
Sauté onions, celery and carrots in butter in a large skillet over medium heat until tender.  Add flour and stir until smooth. Cook one minute, stirring constantly. Add chicken broth and evaporated milk.  Cook, stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly. Stir in chicken, peas, salt and pepper.
Freezing and Cooking Directions:
Cool. Freeze 3 cup portions in freezer bags for 10" pie or ¾ cup portions for about 8 individual 5” pot pies. 
Keep frozen pie crusts on hand.
To serve: Thaw filling. Bring pie crusts to room temperature. Shape bottom pie crusts. Add filling. Cover with top crust. Pinch the edges of the two crusts together and then flute or crimp. Make a few slits in the top crust for the steam to escape.
Bake at 400° uncovered for 45 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.  For individual pot pies, they are usually done in 30 minutes.
Makes 3 cups of filling for each of two 9" pies, eight bags of 3/4 cups of filling for 5" individual pies, or 6 cups of filling for the recipe.

From the Garden...Pepper Relish Rice Salad

We really like home-canned pepper relish, and it makes this salad easy and tasty.    I almost always make this the night before and combine before serving – no fuss in serving day.  I usually keep cooked rice portioned in one or two cups in the freezer. 
We like this salad with anything from the grill or sandwiches.
Cooked dressing is much more tasty than purchased dressings…we much prefer it.    Use any leftover dressing for sandwiches, or chicken or tuna salad, it keeps at least a week, covered, in the refrigerator.                

Pepper Relish Rice Salad
  2             cups  Cooked Rice -- cooled
  1            Tablespoon  Olive Oil
  2             large  Eggs -- hard cooked, chopped
     1/3      Cup  Celery -- chopped
     1/2      cup  Pepper and Onion Relish -- drained, save liquid
     1/4      Cup  Cooked Dressing -- or mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
                 Salt and Pepper to taste                             
Cook rice; bring 2/3 cup dry rice in 1 1/3 cup water to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally.  Let stand, off heat for 5 minutes; fluff with fork.
Combine a tablespoon of the saved pepper relish liquid and a tablespoon of olive oil.  Pour over hot rice; cover and chill 2 hours or overnight.
Cook eggs; cover with water, bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover and let stand 15 minutes.  Drain, cool in chilled or ice water.  Refrigerate.
Prepare cooked dressing if using, let cool 2 hours or overnight. 
Just before serving, in a small bowl, combine the dressing salt and pepper and combine with the celery and pepper and onion relish, stir in rice. 
Peel and chop eggs, saving a slice or two for garnish, gently combine with salad and serve.
Serves 4

                        Cooked Dressing
  1         tablespoon  Sugar
  1         tablespoon  Flour, All-purpose
     1/2  teaspoon  Salt
     1/2  teaspoon  Dry Mustard
  1         large  Egg -- Yolk, slightly beaten
     3/8  cup  Skim Milk
  2         tablespoons  Vinegar -- mild
     1      teaspoon  Butter
 Mix dry ingredients; add egg yolks and milk; cook over hot (not boiling) water until thick, stirring constantly.  Add vinegar and butter; mix well and cook until thick.
Yield:   "1/2 cup"

67¢ per cup   Only 25 Calories per tablespoon

"Betty Crocker Good and Easy p152 or Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book 1968 - p 291"

Braided Pie Crust

 There are many ways to finish a pie crust topping a pie. Recently I saw this photo of Braided pie crusts and thought I should try some of them. 
 This lattice type caught my fancy the most and did not look too fussy to make.
It was fairly easy though I found out it worked best if the strips were narrow rather than wide and you had to be sure they were flat when you were weaving them.

Cut narrow to wide strips of pie crust and
braid together on a floured board before laying on your pie. If you want too you could vary the size of the strips. Lay on your filling and finish with a fluted edge folding the pie crust over the strips. Brush with egg wash or milk and bake as usual.

Pie Crusts for the Freezer

I want to share my go-to pie crust when I don't have time to make our favorite crust recipe from Farm Journal.  I have used this recipe since the early 80’s to simplify pie-making.  When I was working full-time, I still liked to bake, but found I wanted to speed up the process.  We just didn’t like the results or expense of refrigerated crusts, and this recipe has been a life-saver. 
I especially like to make a batch before the holiday rush, so I don’t have any excuses not to make a pie, whether it’s a dessert pie, a quiche or pot pie.  I also use this recipe for individual pie crusts and turnovers; sometimes putting up part of the dough in 3-3 ½ ounce patties.  A scale is very handy for making this recipe. 
There are recipes like this that use a whole can of shortening and a 5 pound bag of flour; I think they are too greasy.  If you make this in the larger size recipe, use a dishpan and your hands.  Try the smaller size recipe to see how good they are.                    
Pie Crusts for the Freezer
5 Regular or 4 Large Crusts 
20 Regular or 16 Large Crusts
     3/4         pound  shortening
  3             pounds  shortening
  1 1/2         pounds  flour, all-purpose
  6             pounds  flour, all-purpose
  1                cup  ice water
  4               cups  ice water
  1 1/2      teaspoons  salt
  2        tablespoons  salt
2011 Cost:  $1.76 - 36¢ per 9 ounce crust
2011 Cost:  $7.03 -36¢ per 9   ounce crust
Mix in a very large bowl or pan. Mix flour, salt and shortening together with large rubber scraper and pastry fork or pastry blender until the size of peas. Add ice water a quarter at a time and toss together with a fork or your hands until blended, do not overmix.  Wrap individually in freezer paper, plastic wrap or waxed paper and freeze in a large zip-type freezer bag. (Be sure to mark you packages with the size and date).

Make into 3 oz. patties for use in 5" pie plates or for turnovers.
Make into 9 oz. patties for 9" top crusts or regular 9" bottom crusts
Make into 11 ounce patties for Deep Dish or 10" bottom crusts

When you want to make a pie crust, defrost number of desired crust 'patties' on the counter 30 min or so, or in the fridge overnight. Roll out between 2 sheets of waxed paper or on a lightly floured surface and proceed with your recipe.

These will keep for at least a year in the freezer, although mine never last that long!. There is something about freezing this dough that makes it so easy to roll out. I use this for dessert pies as well as quiches and savory pies. It turns out perfectly every time.

Sunday in Iowa...

A walking trail bridge at the Thomas Mitchell park

between Altoona and Mitchellville, Iowa

Cookbook Reviews...Holiday Baking

This weeks cookbook is from Better Homes and GardensHoliday Baking from 2006. Here is a mixture of baking recipes. Everything from cakes, breakfast specials, crackers, pies and of course cookies. 
  There is a simple gingerbread house to make and directions for dressing up store bought cookie dough mix for when you need those cookies in a hurry.
  Better Homes and Gardens are numbered among my favorite cookbooks and cooking magazines and this one is no exception. 
 Here are a few recipes to get you started and in the mood for the Holidays.