Pie Pr0n – Cherry Hand Pies

DSC_0599 (1600x1060)Mrs J wanted to make more of these hand pies with the newest batch of cherries.  These were “Strawberry Cherries”, bought at the same produce store that the Rainier cherries came from.  They still aren’t the deepest red cherries so she added a couple tablespoons of maraschino cherry juice just for the red dye #5.  These are baked in the oven, rather than fried, and seem to be just as good this way.  They have the same dough from smittenkitchen as the Rainier cherry pie the other day.  They were brushed with an egg wash and sprinkled with sugar and baked at 400 for about 25 minutes.

Rainier Cherry Pie

DSC_0584 (1600x1060)Mrs J wanted to make a pie out of the Rainier cherries she found at the local market.  We’ve always had good luck finding good recipes over at smittenkitchen, we took a look and went with her sweet cherry pie recipe.  Her butter pie crust recipe is Mrs J’s goto pie crust.DSC_0591 (1600x1060)It turned out pretty well, but it just doesn’t say cherry pie – it’s that the color isn’t right.  I think cherry pie and I see bright red filling in my mind’s eye and this fails.  We are off to the store after some more cherries for another go!

Cheese Cake Fun

DSC_8068 (1600x1060)We were cruising through the web the other day and ran across this recipe and we were all “Wow! That looks good! Let’s try it!”  Needless to say, our results didn’t match that picture on the recipe page but I will wager it tastes just as good.  Five bricks of cream cheese!  Mrs J says we’ll never buy those plain bricks again, given that they sell pre-whipped cheese in those little plastic tubs.  Our stand mixer got a fair workout and did fine with them.

Naturally, our “jump in and do this thing” eagerness was a bit deflated when we got to the refrigerate overnight line in the recipe.  We bucked up and went with it.  Fun for the whole family!DSC_8076 (1600x1060)

Full Dinner Menu:Cream of Potato Soup, Orange-Walnut Spinach Salad and Pear and Sour Cherry Crisp

The deep chill set in last week and shows no sign of leaving, so it had to be soup tonight. I just made a big pot of potato soup from leftover mashed potatoes and a few whole potatoes I sliced on my new mandolin to help get me through the big freeze. I thought it should then be the theme for tonight’s menu.

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I’ve been eyeing mandolins for a while and settled on one that would be useful for how seldom I would use it. So far I really liked it. I did invest in a glove to prevent adding my fingertips to any meal prep. So between that and the new camera, I’m hoping to wow you with some pretty plates in the coming weeks.

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But until then, here is tonight’s full menu and shopping list:

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There’s nothing better on a cold night than Creamy Potato Cheese Soup.  I rarely peel potatoes, I scrub the skins thoroughly and that’s good enough for me. It also saves a lot of time and potato skins are full of good things. Yes, there is cheese, but milk instead of cream, and you can even use non-fat milk without noticing any loss. I threw the Pear and Sour Cherry Crisp in at the last minute, because to me, fall is all about fruit crisps.

On the board tonight:

  1. Cream of Potato Cheese Soup
  2. Orange-Walnut Spinach Salad
  3. Pear and Sour Cherry Crisp

Cream of Potato Cheese Soup

  • 6 large potatoes, cubed (peeling opt)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ tsp ea: sage, rosemary, basil
  • 4 cups milk
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
  • salt & pepper to taste

Lg. saucepan (2 to 4 qt)

In saucepan or Dutch oven, cover potatoes with water and boil until fork tender, drain all but 2 cups water. Add onions, garlic and spices to potatoes*. In a bowl mix together  milk, flour, salt & pepper. Mix well, no lumps, add melted butter. Add to potatoes and mix well.  Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly, add cheese, reduce to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

*A great trick is to remove about ½ cup of the cooked potatoes and mash, then add back into soup, this gives you an extra creamy texture.

Orange-Walnut Spinach Salad

  • 10 oz spinach, washed
  • 2 oranges, peeled, remove white skin & cut into chunks (you can substitute equivalent canned mandarin orange slices)
  • ½ red onion, sliced in rings
  • 1 oz bleu cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • Raspberry-walnut dressing

large salad bowl

Tear spinach leaves. Layer in a large salad bowl. Top with orange chunks, onion, sprinkle blue cheese and walnuts. Add dressing & toss before serving.

Pears & Sour Cherry Crisp

Topping:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup)

Combine dry ingredients and cut in butter until mixture is crumbly

Filling:

  • 4 large fresh pears, cored, peeled and sliced
  • 1 ½ cups frozen pitted cherries, thawed
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ cup sugar

8×8 baking dish, greased

Combine pears, cherries, sugar, & cornstarch. Spread in baking dish. Top fruit mixture with flour topping. Bake at 375° for 25 to 34 minutes, topping should be golden & pears tender.

Shopping List:

  • 6 large potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red onion
  • 4 cups milk
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • 10 oz spinach
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 oz bleu cheese,
  • 4 oz chopped walnuts
  • Raspberry-walnut dressing
  • 1 stick + 3 tbsp butter
  • 4 large fresh pears
  • 12 oz frozen pitted cherries

Also: cornstarch, sugar, brown sugar, flour, oatmeal, cinnamon, sage, rosemary, basil, garlic

Originally posted November 2009

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Thursday Night Menu: Creamy Potato Cheese Soup

This is actually one of the highest searched recipes on the blog, so for tonight’s Thursday Night Menu, I’m going to repeat it.  I’m (unfortunately for my blogging escapades) swamped with work and meetings today and didn’t think ahead in time to get a new menu prepped.

Good news is, I have two meatloaf recipes to post as soon as I have a chance to type them up.  Until then…

From November 5, 2009

It’s warm here today, but it’s always good to have a soup recipe on hand for when the cold weather returns. And there’s nothing better on a cold night than Creamy Potato Cheese Soup.  I rarely peel potatoes, I scrub the skins thoroughly and that’s good enough for me. It also saves a lot of time and potato skins are full of good things. Yes, there is cheese, but milk instead of cream, and you can even use non-fat milk without noticing any loss. I threw the Pear and Sour Cherry Crisp in at the last minute, because to me, fall is all about fruit crisps.

On the board tonight:

  1. Cream of Potato Cheese Soup
  2. Orange-Walnut Spinach Salad
  3. Pear and Sour Cherry Crisp

Cream of Potato Cheese Soup

  • 6 large potatoes, cubed (peeling opt)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ tsp ea: sage, rosemary, basil
  • 4 cups milk
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
  • salt & pepper to taste

Lg. saucepan (2 to 4 qt)

In saucepan or Dutch oven, cover potatoes with water and boil until fork tender, drain all but 2 cups water. Add onions, garlic and spices to potatoes*. In a bowl mix together  milk, flour, salt & pepper. Mix well, no lumps, add melted butter. Add to potatoes and mix well.  Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly, add cheese, reduce to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

*A great trick is to remove about ½ cup of the cooked potatoes and mash, then add back into soup, this gives you an extra creamy texture.

Orange-Walnut Spinach Salad

  • 10 oz spinach, washed
  • 2 oranges, peeled, remove white skin & cut into chunks (you can substitute equivalent canned mandarin orange slices)
  • ½ red onion, sliced in rings
  • 1 oz bleu cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • Raspberry-walnut dressing

large salad bowl

Tear spinach leaves. Layer in a large salad bowl. Top with orange chunks, onion, sprinkle blue cheese and walnuts. Add dressing & toss before serving.

Pears & Sour Cherry Crisp

Topping:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup)

Combine dry ingredients and cut in butter until mixture is crumbly

Filling:

  • 4 large fresh pears, cored, peeled and sliced
  • 1 ½ cups frozen pitted cherries, thawed
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ cup sugar

8×8 baking dish, greased

Combine pears, cherries, sugar, & cornstarch. Spread in baking dish. Top fruit mixture with flour topping. Bake at 375° for 25 to 34 minutes, topping should be golden & pears tender.

Shopping List:

  • 6 large potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red onion
  • 4 cups milk
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • 10 oz spinach
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 oz bleu cheese,
  • 4 oz chopped walnuts
  • Raspberry-walnut dressing
  • 1 stick + 3 tbsp butter
  • 4 large fresh pears
  • 12 oz frozen pitted cherries

Also: cornstarch, sugar, brown sugar, flour, oatmeal, cinnamon, sage, rosemary, basil, garlic

Thursday Night Menu: Healthy Junk Food Edition

I’m busy getting ready to head to New Orleans, so tonight’s menu is pretty simple. I won’t have computer access there, so I won’t be posting until I get back, but I’m hoping to have lots to talk about then.  JeffW is out of commission for the foreseeable future due to computer issues and I thought we were going to be a sad little blog until I got back, but fate intervenes.  We are so lucky to welcome IndyLib as a new contributor.  I don’t think she was expecting me to hand the keys over to her first thing, but here you are Indy.  Take care of everyone while I’m away.  Please make her feel welcome.

On to tonight’s menu. When I was a kid, this was one of the favorite Friday night recipes my mom would make.  I don’t make it as often now, probably because once I start eating it, I don’t want to stop. Kind of healthy junk food, I guess. Dress up the salad with things that make you happy, I’d probably add a little more heat, myself.  And if you want to make it vegetarian, skip the beef, add black beans instead, sprinkle taco seasoning in with the beans, corn and tomatoes before adding to the salad.

On the board tonight:

  1. Layered Taco Salad
  2. Broiled Pineapple

Layered Taco Salad

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 pkg. taco seasoning
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 8 – 16 oz. tortilla chips
  • 4 cups shredded lettuce
  • 8 oz canned corn, drained
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 2 oz sliced black olives
  • 8 oz ranch dressing
  • 8 oz salsa
  • 1 avocado, peeled and sliced (or guacamole)

9×12 baking dish and skillet

Brown ground beef & onions in skillet.  Prepare taco seasoning according to package directions and add to beef mixture. Set aside.

Layer ½ tortilla chips on the bottom of baking dish, followed in order: lettuce, beef, corn, cheese, tomato, olives, and remaining chips, crushed.  Mix together dressing and salsa, pour over salad and garnish with avocado or guacamole.

Broiled Pineapple

  • 22 oz sliced pineapple *
  • 4 oz cherries, sliced in half & pitted**
  • 1 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar

baking sheet

Place a single layer of pineapple in the baking sheet, top each with a cherry half, cut side UP.  Mix together butter and sugar and brush over fruit.  Broil until lightly browned (move rack to the second slot from the top to keep pineapple from burning).

* if you can find fresh, sliced pineapple it broils better.

** yes you can use maraschino cherries, I just hate them so I use fresh.

Shopping List:

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 pkg. taco seasoning
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 8 -16 oz. tortilla chips
  • 4 cups shredded lettuce
  • 8 oz canned corn
  • 8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tomato
  • 2 oz sliced black olives
  • 8 oz ranch dressing
  • 8 oz salsa
  • 1 avocado (or guacamole)
  • 22 oz sliced pineapple (fresh if possible)
  • 4 oz cherries

Also: butter, brown sugar

Mmm…Awesome Cherry Crumble Cake

Last try at a cherry dump style cake wasn’t a winner.  It was OK, we ate it.  This time we have a winner.  Went with a white cake mix this time.

Pitted about 2 pounds of cherries, chopped them up a bit and simmered them with about 1/3-1/2 cup of water, 1/4 cup of Splenda, and a tablespoon of lime juice.  Just a few minutes to soften the cherries.  While they were warming I cut two sticks of cold butter into the cake mix.  The cherries went into the 13×9 cake pan, with the cake mix spread atop and about 1/4 cup of brown sugar sprinkled over that.  Now into a 350 oven for about 45 minutes.  Smelled great.  I think there is a lot of leeway on the baking time, just don’t leave it in there so long that the juices dry up.  I looked at mine after 30 minutes, then cycled the timer twice again, for 8 minutes, then for 8 more.  I’m happy with it.

Enjoy!

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Chocolate Cherry Dump Cake

I was afraid I used too much fruit and liquid in this thing, turned out OK.  I think the dump it in there concept admirable but next time I will do it a bit differently.  Pitted a pound of cherries and brought them to a boil with about a cup of water, I added a quarter cup of Splenda to sweeten them.  Dumped the cherries into the 13X9 pan and sprinkled the cake mix evenly on top.  Arrayed the butter as the picture shows, that was 2 sticks, each pat one tablespoon worth.  I then sprinkled Splenda over that.  Also put some cane sugar on there, too.  I wasn’t sure what the Splenda would do.  Popped it into a 350 oven for nearly an hour-it just wasn’t looking right so I pulled it and fired my torch and caramelized the sugar some.  It worked!  Yay!  The topping had some crunch to it.

Next time I’ll use a bit less water in the cherries, and will cut the butter and the sugar/Splenda into the cake mix in a bowl before putting it atop the cherries.  Oh, and I’ll try to remember the nuts.  The cherries-chocolate are the perfect flavor for this, but visually just not much to look at.  I have a white cake mix and more cherries for next time.

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