Monday, June 24, 2013

Peach Pie With Oatmeal Crumble Topping

This is the result of my first-EVER attempt at making a pie from scratch. I had always heard stories of pie crust being so fussy and so easy to mess up that I was a bit gun-shy about making my own! I learned that it wasn't as bad as I had heard, and though the edges of the crust got more brown than I like (I'll share a tip to remedy that later) I was very pleased overall. The crust was very flaky and wasn't the slightest bit soggy (my biggest fear). Those who tasted the pie truly loved it, and that made this first-time pie baker feel pretty good! That being said, it was a VERY messy process and it's probably not something I'll do on a regular basis! One final word of instruction before I give you the recipe: Allow yourself plenty of time to make this! The entire process start to finish (including time for pie dough to chill, finished pie to cool, etc.) took four hours. Maybe once I've made a few of these I can trim that time down some, but I'm glad I devoted a Saturday afternoon to this project! Hope you enjoy.

For the crust:
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 c. cold butter, cubed
5 Tbsp. ice water

For the filling:
3 pounds peaches (about 8 cups)
1/4 c. light brown sugar
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

For the crumble:
1/3 c. packed light brown sugar
1/3 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
6 Tbsp. cold butter, cubed

To make the crust:
Combine flour, salt and sugar. Add butter and mix with fingers until mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-sized pieces. (This can also be done with a food processor.) Sprinkle with ice water. Knead until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (be very careful not to over-work the dough.) Form dough into a disk; wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Peel, pit and cut peaches into 1/2" slices. Taste one peach slice to test for sweetness. If the peaches are not very sweet add 1/4 c. white sugar to your filling ingredients. Set peaches aside.

To make the crumble:
In a small bowl combine all of the dry ingredients and use a fork to work in the cubed butter until large clumps form; cover and refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly flour a rolling pin and a work surface. Roll out dough to a 12-inch round and place in a 9-inch deep dish pie pan; fold overhang under and crimp edges.

To make the filling:
In a large bowl toss together sliced peaches, brown sugar, flour, vanilla and cinnamon (and white sugar, if needed) until combined.

Transfer the filling to pie shell and crumble the topping evenly over the top.

*Cover the edges of your pie shell with aluminum foil - this will help prevent them from browning too quickly before the rest of the pie is finished baking. You will remove the foil about halfway through the bake time.

Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until juices are bubbling and top is golden, approx. 45 minutes to an hour. Halfway through the bake time remove aluminum foil from the edges of the pie to allow them to brown nicely.

Let pie cool on a wire rack for 1 hour before serving. Store leftovers tightly covered in refrigerator.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Vegetable Tian

In continuing with the theme of featuring things from the garden, today we have another veggie dish. This recipe comes from the kitchen of my cousin, Greg. Though I haven't tried it yet, he says it is VERY tasty! Hope you enjoy.

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow squash
1 medium potato
1 medium tomato
1 tsp. dried thyme
to taste salt & pepper
1 cup shredded Italian cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Finely dice the onion and mince the garlic.
Sauté both in a skillet with olive oil until softened (about five minutes).
While the onion and garlic are sautéing, thinly slice the rest of the vegetables.
Spray the inside of an 8x8 square or round baking dish with non-stick spray.
Spread the softened onion and garlic in the bottom of the dish.
Place the thinly sliced vegetables in the baking dish vertically, in an alternating pattern.
Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and thyme.
Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. 
Remove the foil, top with cheese and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Tomato Cracker Salad

It's here, the recipe for which I have had several requests! Let me start by saying that although it might not be the PRETTIEST salad you'll ever make, the taste far makes up for the appearance. This side dish has been a well-loved staple in my family for years. My dad even has memories of eating this as a kid! We had Friday night fish fry a lot when I was growing up because I had two uncles who loved to fish - this was almost always one of the sides my granny would serve. It's also great along with peas or other veggies fresh from the garden. I love it pretty much any time! Hope you enjoy.

2 medium tomatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 sleeve Club crackers or Ritz crackers (some people use saltines for this but I prefer a buttery cracker)
1/4 c. plus 1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
Salt and pepper

*This recipe makes enough for 2-4 servings

Stir tomatoes and mayonnaise together, mashing tomatoes very slightly.
Crush crackers and add to tomato/mayonnaise mixture.
Add salt and pepper to taste, keeping in mind that the crackers are already salty so you won't need to add very much!

That's it. It's really that simple!

**Side note: Sometimes I like to add a diced cucumber to the salad just to change things up a bit and it is very tasty!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Fried eggplant

Those of you who are my friends on Facebook might be disappointed that I'm not featuring tomato-cracker salad today, but I promise that one is coming! Today's recipe features another veggie that is in abundance around here right now, eggplant.  Though I'm not a huge fan of eggplant prepared any other way, fried eggplant is one of my favorite side dishes (you know we prefer to fry EVERYTHING in the South! LOL) This is actually a quite simple dish to make... enjoy!

First, peel and cut the eggplant into slices or "fries" (you can see I opted for eggplant fries when I made these.)

After you have cut the eggplant, place it in a colander and sprinkle it with a fair amount of salt. Eggplant contains a LOT of water and the salt will help to draw some of that water out so that your eggplant won't soak up too much oil when you are frying it. Let the eggplant sit for about 20-30 minutes.
Rinse the eggplant well and pat dry with paper towels.
In a small bowl, mix 1 cup of flour, 1 tsp. cornstarch, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder and 1/2 tsp. onion powder.

In another bowl, beat 2 eggs.
Pour vegetable oil into a large frying pan so that it is about 1/2" - 1" deep. Heat oil on medium-high heat.
Dip eggplant pieces into egg, then dredge in flour.
Fry them on both sides until golden brown and watch them CLOSELY - it doesn't take very long to cook them!
Here's the finished result!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Special Squash Casserole

Some of my FAVORITE things about this time of year are the yummy veggies that come from the gardens of friends and family who are more than happy to share their bounty. My yard isn't very conducive to planting my own garden (as much as I would LOVE to) due to having too many giant oak trees giving shade, so I am always grateful when a friend stops by or calls and says, "Do you guys eat squash? How about cucumbers?" or another friend opens her garden for me to pick whatever we can eat.  Maybe it's a Southern small-town thing but I absolutely love it.

Over the next couple of weeks I will be posting recipes that feature veggies that are in abundance during this time of year. Some are time-tested family favorites, others are ones that I have tried more recently and very much enjoyed. Today's recipe is a newer one that I have made several times and provides a different twist on the traditional squash casserole. Hope you enjoy!

2 lbs. yellow squash
1 onion
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 c. sour cream
1 stick butter
8 oz. Pepperidge Farm herb stuffing
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil squash until tender; Drain and mash.
Chop onion; saute in 1/2 stick butter until tender.
Add soup. sour cream, salt and pepper.
Melt remaining butter and stir into dressing crumbs.
Put 1/2 of dressing in bottom of lightly greased casserole dish.
Mix squash with soup mixture and pour over dressing.
Spread remaining 1/2 of dressing on top.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.