Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Autumn Comfort ~ Warm Apple-Buttermilk Custard Pie

Adapted from myrecipes.com

I'm on a roll with two new recipes in two days! Yesterday was one of those first wonderfully cool, rainy early fall days that always makes me want to heat up the oven and crank out baked goods. All I got done yesterday was the Enchilada Soup, so the baking had to wait until today. So far, this is all I have gotten done today, so I really need to kick it into gear because we need to replace our furnace, and if you saw our basement right now you would think I'm a hoarder. I have no aspirations to become a reality TV star, so cleaning the basement is a necessary evil that I must do, and soon. In the meantime, I've got a very interesting looking apple pie in the oven that I can't wait to try.

This recipe originated in Cooking Light magazine in March, 2003. I got it on myrecipes.com but first saw it on Pinterest. Pinterest really has opened up a whole new world of things to try! At first it sounded like apple crisp in a pie crust, but the buttermilk custard totally threw me. For the crust, I made the Pat-A-Pan crust from the Amish Cook's Baking Book that I told you about here: http://notcandlesagain.blogspot.com/2010/11/pumpkin-pie.html It's the one you make right in the pan. You can use the pre-made crust like it says in the recipe, but I personally think those are nasty and prefer to make my own. Your own favorite crust recipe will do just fine.

Instead of Granny Smith apples, which are an excellent baking apple. I chose to use Jonathans because, well, it's fall and Jonathans were in the store, and I love them.

Aren't these pretty?

Here's the recipe from myrecipes.com:

1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie crust dough
cooking spray


1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 1/2 Tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces


5 cups peeled and sliced Granny Smith apples (about 2 pounds)
1 cup sugar, divided
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Heat your oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare your crust. For the pre-made crust, spray the pie pan with cooking spray and place dough in pan. Flute the edges and fold under. Keep refrigerated while prepping the rest of the pie.

For the streusel, lightly spoon 1/3 cup flour into dry measuring cup and level with a knife. Okay, isn't this how we always do this? Baking 101... Anyway, combine the flour, brown sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon into a medium bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or fork (The recipe says use 2 knives.. I've got pretty decent knife skills but lets not press our luck!)Work this until it resembles a coarse meal, then put it in the refrigerator until you're ready for it later. I had trouble with the butter sticking to my pastry cutter, but eventually it worked.

Next, peel, core and slice your apples. Heat a large nonstick skillet and melt a chunk of butter - about a tablespoon. Add the sliced apples, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Let this hang out and cook down for about 10 minutes or until the apples are tender, stirring occasionally.

While the apples are cooking, make the custard. Whisk the eggs, flour, salt and sugar together, then stir in the buttermilk and vanilla. Spoon the cooked apple mixture into the pie crust, then pour the custard mixture over the apples.

I used a deep dish pie pan and measured the 5 cups of apple slices, and I still had quite a bit of the custard left over.

Bake the pie at 300 for 30 minutes, then sprinkle the streusel topping over the top and bake at 325 for 40 minutes more. When you pull the pie out to sprinkle the topping on, just pull the rack out but leave the pie there, don't pull it completely out of the oven. The custard did bake over a bit, so be sure and put your pan on a foil lined baking sheet to catch the drips. It smelled heavenly in the oven until the spilled custard started burning on the bottom of my oven. Yuck.

I forgot to take pictures until I pulled it out of the oven. Looks pretty good! Be sure and refrigerate the leftover pie.

Yep, pretty good! Not overly sweet, using a sweeter apple would help with that, and I think next time I will add more cinnamon. Let me know what you think!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mexican Comfort Food... Cheesy Enchilada Soup

Adapted from Paula Deen and sufficientlygraced.com

I got off work this morning after a fairly uneventful 24 hour call shift, and to my delight it seemed as if fall had arrived overnight. It was deliciously cool and rainy, and the world was screaming at me to hurry home and get busy making soup and baked goods. The baked goods didn’t get done, but the soup was delicious! Pinned on Pinterest by Sufficiently Graced, it’s a recipe that came from Paula Deen’s magazine. I stayed mostly true to the original recipe this time, only substituting different beans because I wanted to use up what I had on hand, I used frozen corn because I like it better, and I used different cheeses because I was afraid using all pepper-jack would make it too spicy. I was thinking tortillas would be really good with this, but then I remembered how good it was last time I cut up flour tortillas and fried them to make chips. From there my thoughts progressed to tortilla strips and then those ended up being cut up into little pieces to sprinkle on top. It was perfect!

Here's the original recipe:

1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
1 onion, chopped
2 (15oz) cans tomato sauce
2 (10oz) cans enchilada sauce
1 (16oz) can chili beans, drained
1 (15.5oz) can great northern beans, drained
1 (15.25oz) can corn, drained
1 (14.5oz) fire roasted tomatoes
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese with peppers

This makes a huge pot of soup, so since it's just the two of us, I put away quite a bit in the freezer for later. Next time I will try cutting it in half.

Heat up a little olive oil in your soup pot or large Dutch oven and cook the onion over med-high heat until slightly translucent. Don’t overcook them because they will continue to cook while the soup simmers and you don’t want them mushy. Next, add the ground chuck and cook until brown and crumbly.

I added some water to the pot because I like the ground beef to cook up into a finer crumble rather than have big chunks of hamburger in the soup. The water cooks down and really doesn’t affect the finished soup.

Add all the remaining ingredients except the cheese. I’m so glad I finally broke down and bought an electric can opener! I dumped in the sauces first, and if you look at those cans you'll notice that I have two different brands of enchilada sauce… I wanted to see if there was a big difference between the Old El Paso and La Victoria brands, and there is a little. The OLP brand was milder, and the LV brand was a darker color and had a tasty little kick to it. It also cost about 20 cents more, but it was definitely worth it.

I had to search a bit to find fire roasted tomatoes among all the different brands and combinations of canned tomatoes, but I found them. If you can’t find them it would be fine to use plain diced tomatoes, or if you don’t like chunks of tomatoes, just substitute the same size can of tomato puree. I don’t think in the whole pot of soup it really matters because the flavor of the fire roasted tomatoes isn’t that different.
This reminds me a lot of making chili. The beans went in next, and I never drain them – every bit of that thick liquid goes in my pot. I used dark red kidney beans and pinto beans because that’s what I had. I hate it when I buy something and then come home and find I already had it in the cupboard, so this time I was in the store on the phone making my husband search for beans. He was thrilled.

I had both frozen and canned corn on hand, but I like frozen better so I used a whole 16 oz bag.

Once you get everything in there, let it simmer for about 30 minutes, then stir in the cheese until it all melts. Grate your own, it's required. Not really, but you're probably tired of hearing me harp on this, so just do it.

I wasn’t sure how spicy the pepper-jack would be, so I used a medium cheddar along with the pepper-jack, and grated up the Colby-jack to sprinkle on top. I’ve always been more of a dump cook, so I’m pretty sure there is a lot more than just 2 cups of cheese in this! I was skeptical about dumping all that cheese right in the pot at first, but it all really disintegrates and every bite is wonderfully cheesy but not stringy-gooey like you would expect.

Soup is done, so I turned the heat down to keep it warm and fried up the yummy flour tortilla chips. There is no big trick to this, cut up the tortillas, then just heat some oil in a pan and fry them up on both sides until nice and brown. Pile them up on paper towels to drain and cool a bit. Yum… these are better than any chips you can buy in the store.

I garnished this with a dollop of sour cream, a little cheese and a bit of fresh cilantro. Mmm mm mmmm…..

Monday, September 3, 2012

Chili Rellenos Casserole

Adapted from allrecipes.com

I don't know anyone who doesn't like Mexican food. I sure do, although for me it also serves as yet another vehicle for sour cream. This recipe sounded really good, and looked easy enough that I thought it would be worth a try, and I was right. It's similar to a lasagna with layers of mild green chilies surrounding a thick layer of melted cheese, and a custard-like batter to hold it all together. The plain tomato sauce compliments it perfectly, and it tasted even better re-heated a couple of days later. If you love Mexican food but don't like or can't tolerate the spicy heat, then this is perfect.

I did run into a few snags along the way though, so my adjustments are in parentheses. Here is the original recipe as it appears on allrecipes.com:

2-7oz cans whole green chilies, drained (I recommend 3-10oz cans)
8 oz grated Monterey Jack cheese
8 oz grated Longhorn or cheddar cheese
(buy a 16 oz brick of each and grate it yourself until you have as much as you would like)
2 eggs, beaten
1 5oz can evaporated milk
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup milk
1-8oz can tomato sauce

You are supposed to use a 9 x 13" pan, but I used an 8 x 8" square pan and still didn't have enough green chilies even though I had purchased larger 10 oz cans.

I also used a lot more cheese, and I sprinkled the remaining cheese on top of the tomato sauce so it would have that last 15 minutes of baking time to get all melty-ooey-gooey. The chopped green onions were my own addition because we eat with our eyes before anything hits our mouth, and this needed an extra pop of color.

Alright then, here's what you need to do to get this going so you can eat...

Prep your 8 x 8 inch baking dish/pan with cooking spray, or line with non-stick aluminum foil.

Lay half of the green chilies evenly in the bottom of the pan.

Grate up your cheeses and sprinkle half of it over the chilies.

Lay the remaining chilies on top of the cheese. At this point I ran out of chilies, so I raided my stash of chopped green chilies I always have in my pantry and used them.

Now, mix the milk, eggs, flour and evaporated milk together and pour over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes then remove from the oven. It will be a little brown around the edges but will look more like a custard.

Spread the tomato sauce evenly over the top.

Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top of the tomato sauce and bake an additional 15 minutes.

Let it rest for 10 minutes or so before cutting. Sprinkle with chopped green onions, smear with sour cream if you like, and serve.


nom nom nom...