Thursday, October 17, 2013

In Defense of Refrigerated Pie Crust

I know some amazing bakers. They whip up pies by the dozen, creating crusts that are light and flakey, seemingly without effort at all.

I am not one of those bakers. I'm not much for rolling, kneading or delicate mixes of starches and fats. And, I tend to not want more than an hour to pass between the time I decide I want something and when I get to have it.

So, I keep refrigerated pie crusts in my fridge. Usually I buy Pillsbury, but Publix has a great store brand, too. The crusts come two to a box, and I usually just use one at a time.

I also have a tart pan with a removable bottom. Between the pie crusts and the easy pan, I can make a "rustic" dessert any day of the week with very little effort.

What goes in depends on what's in my fridge and freezer. Today, there was goat cheese and blueberries, so, I started Googling about and found these adorable handpies from une gamine dans la cuisine. The addition of rosemary intrigued me, and, I happen to have some growing outside my front door.

The handpies were a little more ambitious than I was feeling. But, the filling would do great in one of my rustic tarts. I didn't have buttermilk, so, I soured some whole milk instead with a teaspoon of vinegar. I switched out the honey for sugar since I liked the idea of releasing some of the rosemary's flavor by rubbing it against the coarse grains.

What we wound up with was pretty good; definitely a suitable treat for a weekday night, with very little hands-on time.


1/4 cup goat cheese
1/4 cup soured milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 refrigerated pie crust

Preheat oven to 400. Combine dairy ingredients until thoroughly mixed. Rub sugar and rosemary together and add to bowl. Stir in berries.

Unroll pie crust across tart tin, letting edges overlap the sides. Pour filling evenly into tin. Fold edges of the crust over the pie.

Bake for 35 minutes, or until crust is lightly browned.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pimento Cheese, Like Revenge, Is a Dish Best Served Cold

I'm heading to a friend's house tonight for a beer tasting and bringing this epic crab mac and cheese. I remembered right as I was leaving the store that her boyfriend is gluten intolerant, though! No crab mac for him.

To make sure that he can enjoy the crabby, cheesy goodness, I am setting aside some of the crab and cheese to make the world's most high falutin' pimento cheese.

Pimento cheese is super easy, pretty trashy, and just plain good. Here's a recipe for the one I'm bringing tonight:

1/2 cup gruyere, grated
1/2 cup sharp cheddar, grated
1/4 cup mayonaise
1 clove garlic, grated
1/4 crab meat
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
serious grind of black pepper

Mix it all together and refrigerate. It is best to make pimento cheese the day before, so the flavors have time to blend. And, yes, pimento cheese usually has pimentos, or another red pepper. I'm out of those, so, I figure the crab is an adequate stand-in. ;)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Crock pot: Ultimate tool of the lazy

The crock in my old crock pot broke awhile ago. This made me very sad, as replacement crocks cost as much as the original unit! However, I found a great replacement (red!) at the thrift store last week. It was $15, on a half off appliance day. Seven dollar, fifty cents (red!) crock pot? SOLD!

Lazy as I am, I am just now getting around to cooking in it. The first project, since the veggie child is at a sleepover, is beef stew.


1 1/4 pounds stew beef
4 shallots, diced
2 medium carrots, sliced in chunks
2 medium potatoes, cubed
generous grind black pepper
small glug red wine
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed in your hands before adding
1 tablespoon bacon fat (you do save bacon fat in your fridge, don't you?)
couple tablespoons soaking liquid from morel mushrooms

Toss it all in, set the crock pot on low. I expect it to be done in about 5 hours. I'll get back to you if I'm wrong.
Now, keep in mind, all of these measurements are approximate. Cooking, as I noted in the last entry, is not baking. Baking (well, baking cakes) is chemistry, and requires exact proportions. Cooking is far more forgiving, and you can more easily play it by ear. Don't have bacon fat? Toss in a little olive oil. Stew beef fatty enough? Skip it altogether. Plus, if you have garlic or onions to use up instead of shallots, well, use those instead.

Learning to cook by feel means that you can throw together an easy meal any day in less time than it would take for Chinese take out to arrive. Fresh food is good and cheap, and can be easy, too.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Rice Krispie Treats: Can you get even lazier with the laziest dessert ever?

Oh, yes. Yes you can.

I've been having a craving for rice krispie treats lately (or, rather, crispy rice treats, since I'm cheap and I buy the generic cereal). A short discussion with my vegetarian daughter revealed that she doesn't mind marshmallows, and she'll eat things that contain them. Armed with this knowledge, I stopped by the store & picked up the necessary ingredients.

Now, I was even less in the mood to stand over my stove & stir than normally, so, I wondered: can I nuke these? Indeed you can. The Kellogg's website says to microwave for 3 minutes, but I found that was far too long. I did mine 45 seconds at a time, stirring in between, and discovered that they were done after two short jaunts in the microwave. Stir in cereal, pat it in a pan, and, you're done!


3 tablespoons butter
1 10 ounce bag mini marshmallows
enough cereal for it to stick together.

Melt the marshmallows & butter together. When it's smooth, start stirring in cereal. Yeah, the official recipe has a measurement for the cereal, but, why bother? This is mixing, not baking. There's no chemistry involved here. Save your time & eyeball it. I promise, no one will die.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fudge for the Lazy

I love homemade fudge, but, until recently, I rarely made it. I have a tendency to either burn the sugar or undercook the fudge, leading to less than optimum taste or texture. Plus, I live in Florida, so, the idea of standing over the stove stirring sticky candy is not always appealing.

However, I started making fudge more once I found a super easy recipe to make it. The magic lies with sweetened condensed milk. This is not to be confused with evaporated milk, by the way. Sweetened condensed milk is sweetened, while evaporated milk is just milk. Sweetened condensed milk gives foods a smooth and pleasant texture that is great for fudge and other desserts.

I usually make this in the microwave. You can vary the flavor by using different kinds of chips, or even subbing some peanut butter or almond butter for part of the chocolate chips.

Try adding nuts, crushed mint candies or other add-ins to mix it up.

Stupid Easy Fudge
  • one pound (3 cups) chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl. Cook at medium heat for 30 seconds at a time, stirring at the end of each interval. The fudge is done when all ingredients can be combined. Pour into a parchment or plastic wrap lined 8 in by 8 in pan. Cool in the fridge.

If you do not want to use the microwave for this, you can also heat the items in a double boiler over medium heat until melted.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Stupid Easy Winter Soup

This recipe came to me by way of my ex-MIL, a chef. She said they used to make it as a quickie second soup at the inn where she worked. Every time it was presented, it was the most popular selection.

This is one of those super tasty, but super embarrassing recipes. Jellied cranberry sauce? You feed that to people over the age of 12? Seriously, though, the result is delicious. It is just the thing to accompany a grilled cheese sandwich on a cold night.
Cranberry Tomato Soup
  • 1 can jellied cranberry sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
Dump both of these in a sauce pan. Cook until heated through. Seriously. That's it. If you want to fancify it, you could add a drizzle of heavy cream, a handful of dried cranberries, or perhaps a bit of crystallized ginger.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Beautifully Animated GIFs

This one is my favorite:

There are many more food and fashion animated photographs here.