Happy Holidays! ^^
Thursday 25 December 2008, 6:42 PM
Filed under: cooking, pies/tarts

My family and I aren’t particularly religious, but we do like to do the whole Christmas deal because quite frankly, we deserve it. :)

Last year, my sister and I cooked Christmas dinner and we decided to give it a go this time around. When I say “my sister and I cooked” I really mean I cooked almost everything, haha.

Pasta Primavera
from Giada de Laurentiis, serves 6

Healthy and colorful!

Healthy and colorful!

3 carrots, peeled and cut into thin strips
2 medium zucchini or 1 large zucchini, cut into thin strips
2 yellow squash, cut into thin strips
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tabelspoon dired Italian herbs or herbes de Provence
1 pound farfalle (bowtie pasta)
15 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Toss all the vegetables with the oil, salt, pepper, and dried herbs to coat in a bowl. Use two baking sheets and arrange the vegetables evenly over them. Bake until the carrots are tender and the vegetables begin to brown, stirring after the first 10 minutes, about 20 minutes total.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Toss the pasta with the vegetable mixtures in a large bowl to combine. Toss with the cherry tomatoes and enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve.

Stuffed Mushrooms
from Giada de Laurentiis, makes 28 mushrooms

Bite-sized pieces of deliciousness.

Bite-sized pieces of deliciousness.

1/2 cup Italian-style dried bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
salt and pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
28 large (2 1/2″ diameter) white mushrooms, stemmed

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Stir the bread crumbs, Pecorino Romano, garlic, parsley, mint, salt and pepper, to taste, and 2 tablespoons olive oil in amedium bowl to blend.

Drizle a heavy large baking sheet with about 1 tablespon olive oil, to coat. Spoon the filling into the mushroom cavities and arrange on the baking sheet, cavity side up. Drizzle remaining oil over the filling in each musroom. Bake until the mushrooms are tender and the filling is heated through and golden on top, about 25 minutes.

Retro-Metro Fancy Tuna Casserole
from Rachael Ray, serves 6

Nom nom nom nom.

Nom nom nom nom.

1/2 loaf day-old crusty bread
1 to 1 1/4 pounds tuna steaks, 1-inch thick
1 cup white wine
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons butter, divided
2 large shallots, chopped
16 small button mushrooms, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground thyme or poultry seasoning
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1’2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
1 cup baby frozen peas
1 pound extra wide egg noodles
chopped fresh parsley leaves, to garnish

Place bread in warm ove, 250 F, to dry and toast for 20 minutes.

Place tuna in a skillet and add wine, then water – just enough to cover the fish. Add bay leaf and peppercorns. Bring liquids to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover skillet. Poach fish for 12 minutes.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add oil, 1 turn of the pan, and 2 tablespoons butter. Add shallots and mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Saute gently for 5 minutes. Sprinkle in thyme or poultry seasoning and flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring with whisk. Whisk in stock, then cream. Adjust seasonings. Add peas.

Remove cooked, poached tuna to a bowl and flake fish with a fork.

Add cooked noodles and tuna to sauce. Remove sauce from heat and transfer mixture to a casserole or serving dish.

Crumble the bread into large crumbs. Melt remainig 2 tablespoons butter and pour it over the bread. Scatter buttery bread crumbs and parsley over the top of the casserole.

Green Bean Casserole
from Paula Deen, serves 6

Cheesy goodness - the family's favorite dish.

Cheesy goodness - the family's favorite dish.

1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
2 cups sliced green beans
3 cups chicken broth
1 (10 3/4 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (2.8 oz) can French fried onion rings
pepper, salt, and garlic powder to taste
1 cup grated Cheddar

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Melt the butter in a large skillet. Saute the onions and mushrooms in the butter. Boil green beans in chicken broth for 10 minutes and drain. Add the green beans, mushroom soup, onion rings, pepper, salt, and garlic powder, to taste, to the onion mixture. Stir well. Pour into a greased 1 1/2-quart baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes, then top the casserole with the Cheddar and bake for 10 minutes longer, or until the casserole is hot and cheese is melted.

Pecan Pie

This pie is mildly sweet, does not use corn syrup, and FULL of pecans. It’s also ridiculously good. It was so good my sister asked for seconds. Apparently it IS possible to please her!!!

I love pie.

I love pie.

For the crust:
this will make 2 9-inch crusts; either halve this recipe or save the other half for something else
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, frozen and diced
1/2 stick vegetable shortening, frozen and diced
1 teaspoons vinegar
1 cup ice water

For the filling:
1 tablespoon molasses
1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
2 eggs
2 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 – 2 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Crust Directions:
Combine the flour, salt, and sugar. Use a food processor, pastry cutter, or two knives to combine the butter and shortening with the flour mixture. You want a consistency of coarse cornmeal. Add the teaspoon of vinegar to the cup of ice water. Add 6 tablespoons of water to the dough and use a spatula to bring the dough together. Put the dough on a floured surface and work the dough for it to come together even more. Halve the dough, wrap each half, and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

Pie Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F.

Beat eggs until foamy, then stir in the melted butter. Add in the brown sugar, flour, molasses, milk, and vanilla.

Take one of the pie dough halves and roll it out and line a 9 inch pie dish. Crimp or flute the edge. Spread the chopped pecans along the bottom. Pour in the filling mixture. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 300 F and bake for another 50 minutes.

Nuts for nuts!

Nuts for nuts!


Nectarine Galette
Monday 1 September 2008, 9:31 PM
Filed under: fruit, pies/tarts

I bought my very first pastry blender today so I had to use it. I’ve been on a quest for a good pie dough recipe and I think I may have the one. It’s wonderfully flaky and tender and it was way easier to make than before. I’m going to credit my pastry blender for this galette’s success.

I used three overripe nectarines for the galette filling because they were going to go to waste otherwise. Usually a few tablespoons of graham cracker crumbs are spread on the bottom, but I didn’t have any and substituted crushed pecans to counter the sweetness and tartness of the nectarines and jam.

Pie Dough (for two 9-inch crusts or 10-inch pie; slightly adapted from Cooks Illustrated)

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 (8 tablespoons) vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 cup ice cold water (only 6-8 tablespoons will be used)

Make sure the butter and shortening are very cold. You can dice the butter and shortening and freeze them for about half an hour.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut the butter and shortening into the flour mixture using a pastry blender, two knives, or a food processor. You want something that looks like coarse cornmeal.

Mix the vinegar and cold water. Fold in six tablespoons of the water mixture into the flour/butter mixture with a spatula until the dough comes together. Dump the dough onto a floured surface and knead a few times to bring the dough together.

Shape the dough into a flat disc and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Store in the fridge for at least an hour.

Nectarine Galette

3 large nectarines, pitted and sliced
2-3 tablespoons jam
2-3 tablespoons crushed pecans (you can use graham cracker crumbs)
1 pie crust (recipe above)

Preheat oven to 425 F.

Roll out the pie dough into a fairly large circle. Spread the jam in the middle, about 11-inches wide. Sprinkle the crushed pecans over the jam. Place the nectarine slices decoratively on top. Fold the edges over the nectarine slices. Brush the dough with milk.

Place the galette on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 25 minutes.

Berry Tart
Friday 8 August 2008, 6:00 PM
Filed under: fruit, pies/tarts

My first tart! It was exciting and a more or less successful experiment. The recipe is from Dorie Greenspan’s infamous book Baking: From My Home to Yours and it called for a pastry cream filling… but there was no way I was gonna crack open six eggs to start that, so I settled for vanilla pudding, haha.

The crust was not bad. The vanilla pudding was too sweet so I’ll have to make adjustments next time. But the fruit was absolutely DIVINE. I am a fruit-aholic. Also… who loves Trader Joe’s? I love Trader Joe’s.

Sweet Tart Dough
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 T) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in- you should have some pieces the size of oatmeal fakes and others the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses- about 10 seconds each- until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change- heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate and dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing.

To press the dough into the pan: butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using all but one little piece of dough, which you should save in the refrigerator to patch any cracks after the crust is baked. Don’t be too heavy handed- press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but not so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture. Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferable longer, before baking.

To partially or fully bake the crust: center a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.

Blueberry Pie
Sunday 3 August 2008, 2:20 PM
Filed under: fruit, pies/tarts

This is the first time I’ve ever made pie crust from scratch and I’m pretty pleased with the results. It wasn’t super flaky, but the taste and texture complemented the filling very nicely. The blueberries themselves are sweet already, so I cut back a lot on the sugar. The filling ended up being slightly sweet and tart, just the way my mom likes it. It appears a little runny, but that’s because I didn’t wait for it to cool completely.

The pie crust recipe is from Beyond Salmon. The page features step-by-step photos so it’s a great help. I followed the recipe exactly because I was pretty paranoid in messing up. When making the lattice structure, I looked at Simply Recipes.

The blueberry filling is adapted from the recipe featured on Cooking Light.

Ingredients (Blueberry Filling)

  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 6 cups fresh blueberries


  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Prepare the pie dough.
  3. Combine all the ingredients for the blueberry filling.
  4. Put the filling inside the pie dish that has been lined with half of dough.
  5. Form the lattice structure with other half of dough.
  6. Place pie on a baking sheet (in case the filling overflows).
  7. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes.