Saturday, December 3, 2011

Simple Spiced Apple Pie

I love pie. And when you can say you are eating fruit too, well it doesn't feel as much like you are cheating on healthy eating. :)

One of my favorite recipe websites is and I find some good food ideas there to adapt to my liking. That's where this pie recipe grew from.For the crust I used Grandma's Secret Pie Crust (not so secret anymore I suppose).
Following recipes equal one 9-inch apple pie.

Crust recipe (or you can use pre-made refrigerated crust):

Makes a top and bottom crust

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups shortening
1 egg
1 splash distilled white vinegar
4 tablespoons water (if you live in a dry environment, you might need more)

In the food processor mix the flour and salt and cut in shortening.
Drizzle the wet ingredients into dry mixture, cutting it in until it forms small granules. 

Turn out the mixture onto a stone countertop or rolling mat with a sprinkle of flour on it and roll thin with lightly floured pin to fit your pie pan.

Now for the filling:

1/2 cup sugar (if you don't like super sweet pies or are using sweet apples, gala vs. the more tart granny smith, you can cut the sugar in half or substitute the equivalent of stevia powder)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice, nutmeg, and cloves (or your favorite pie spices)
4 large apples thinly sliced
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 egg white

In a small bowl, combine sugars, flour and spices until the brown sugar isn't very clumpy. In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice to keep from turning brown. Add sugar mixture and stir well with big spatula (or hands) to coat. Line a 9-in. pie pan with rolled out pie crust dough. Stack rings of the apple filling into crust and dot with butter. 
Cover with the top crust and pinch around the edges so you don't get leaks in the oven. Cut a few slits in top (feel free to make them decorative). Beat an egg white and brush over the top of crust so it turns golden in the oven. Lightly sprinkle sugar on top if you feel the need. 
Bake at 375 degrees F for 35 minutes. Increase temperature to 400 degrees F and bake 10-15 minutes more or until golden.

Let it cool before eating. That's the hardest part! :)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Easy Thin Crust Pizza Dough

This is a simple and versatile recipe. Use it for pizza, calzones, or even breadsticks! I love me a good pizza dough, plus it is a bit healthier by using whole wheat flour. But it doesn't taste healthy so I love it! The honey adds some great flavor without being overly sweet.

Whole recipe makes 2 Medium thin-crust pizzas or 3 personal-size calzones

1 package active dry or fresh yeast (a.k.a. 2 1/2 tsp)
1 pinch of sugar
1 - 2 tsp honey (your favorite kind)
1 cup warm water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (finer ground than plain whole wheat flour, rises better)
1 tsp sea salt
Pepper and dry italian herbs (optional)

Preheat oven to 400+ degrees.
In a small (non-metal) bowl, dissolve the yeast, honey, and pinch of sugar in 1/4 cup warm water for a few minutes to make the yeast happy & bubbly (or activate the yeast if you want to be technical about it). 

Here you have to choose:
I throw all the ingredients into a bread maker on the dough setting. Super easy. Just roll out, decorate and bake.
If you don't have one then you can definitely make it by hand in a big bowl and mix with a spatula (sometimes I do this if I only make a half recipe). 

In a large bowl, combine the flour and the salt (and herbs if you want). Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the oil, the yeast mixture, plus the remaining 3/4 cup of water.

Mix until the entire mixture clumps into a big ball. Either knead the dough by hand or just fold it over and over with the spatula for a couple minutes. The dough should be smooth and firm.

Cover the bowl of dough with a clean, damp kitchen towel and let it rise in a cool spot for about 2 hours. It'll puff up a bit so you know your yeast is fresh and doing it's thing.

Divide the dough into 2 balls (or however many you want). If you want to get crazy you could keep it as one super thick crust... but I'm impatient when I smell pizza baking so I prefer the quick, thin-crust route. 
Roll the ball out to your desired thickness (with a rolling pin or just stretch it for that rustic, homemade look). Carefully place dough on a pizza stone or pizza pan/cookie sheet sprayed with oil or dusted with cornmeal to keep from sticking.

Add your favorite sauce and toppings. (I love lots of thin-sliced veggies, roasted garlic and prosciutto on mine, yum.)

Bake at least 10 - 12 minutes, more depending on the thickness of crust. If it is still floppy/soft in the center when lifted with a utensil, keep baking until nicely browned and crisp.

Let cool, don't burn yourself now. I know it smells good, but wait a moment for it to cool, then cut, and serve! 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Warm & Hearty Chicken Tortilla Soup

I love this thick and chunky soup on a cool evening. It warms you right up. Plus if you feel a cold coming on then make the soup extra spicy to help you clear your sinuses. :)

This can also be made in a slow-cooker if you are running low on time.

About 6 servings

Drizzle of olive oil
1 cup pulled chicken (a chance to use up leftover roasted chicken)
1/2 medium onion (diced)
3 cloves of garlic (diced)
1 can diced tomatos
1 can diced green chilies
1 tbsp oregano (preferably mexican oregano)
1 dried ancho chili ripped in half (remove seeds for less heat)
1/2 tbsp paprika or a few splashes of hot sauce (to taste)
1/2 tsp of sea salt and pepper

Add after 1/2 hour of simmering:
1 handful of chopped cilantro
1/4 cup of cooked rice (white or brown rice)
1 can black beans (drained)
2 limes juiced
3 tbsp of sweet corn, canned or fresh (optional)

Heat up a large soup pot with a drizzle of olive oil inside, over medium heat. Saute the diced onions and garlic until golden. Add the can of tomatoes and green chilies. Stir in the herbs and spices, hot sauce and large pieces of dried chili peppers (so you can remove the dried peppers before serving). After allowing the first ingredients to simmer at least half an hour, add the shredded chicken, lime juice, beans, rice, cilantro, and corn. Simmer in the open pot to let thicken for at least another half hour, or until the soup is your preferred consistency. Top with crushed tortilla chips, sour cream, and cilantro.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Chewy Fruit & Nut Granola Bars

  • Once you make these simple and tasty granola bars at home, you will think twice about buying store-bought bars filled with preservatives. When you make your own you can add your favorite ingredients and mix it up each time. Sometimes I cut these into bite-size pieces to serve as bar cookies at parties.

Makes about 16 rectangular granola bars

  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup puffed rice or kamut (I use Arrowhead brand)
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp honey (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup of diced dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds (or nuts of your choice, chopped cashews or peanuts are tasty)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp each of ground cloves and nutmeg
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine and stir all the dry ingredients together. Pour sweetened condensed milk over dry mixture until it is just sticking together (if it seems too wet, add more oats). Evenly spread over a cooky sheet lined with a silicone baking mat (Silpat), and press with spatula to about 1/2 inch thick. Bake for 20-25 minutes until just golden around the edges. 

Let cool, then transfer to a cutting board to cut into your desired bar size. Enjoy for a snack or dessert! Customize with your favorite fruit and nut combos.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Pear and Carrot Salad with Tangy Curry Dressing

This is a very refreshing salad on a warm day. Crisp, tangy and sweet all at the same time. A great, unique side.
Makes about 4 servings.

2 large carrots, trimmed and peeled
 2 firm pears
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp curry powder
1 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Peel the carrots lengthwise into ribbons. Stem then slice the pear into bite-size slivers.

In a mixing bowl, combine the pear and carrot with the chopped parsley. In a blender, mix the white wine vinegar, curry powder, honey, salt, and pepper and blend until combined.

While the machine runs, drizzle the olive oil. Pour the dressing over the carrots and pears and toss. Serve immediately or quickly cool the salad in the refrigerator.

Goes well with a main dish of grilled meat.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Quick & Delicious Flaky Biscuits

I love to eat these fresh and steaming out of the oven. You can even add your favorite herbs, cheese, or dried fruit to this recipe to spice it up. Such a treat!

Note: In an air-tight bag you can refrigerate the dough for a day if you want fresh biscuits right out of the oven 2 days in a row!

Makes about 15 biscuits, depending on size

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or you can just use 2 cups of AP flour if that's all you have)
1/2 tsp. salt
5 tbsp. cold butter (cubed)
3/4 cup buttermilk (or 3/4 cup milk + 1/2 tsp. lemon juice)
3 tbsp. honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a food processor, combine both flours, salt, butter, and honey. Pulse the food processor a few times until the butter is coarsely mixed into little balls covered in the flour mixture.

Pour the milk into the food processor with the blade running. The mixture should come together to form a ball of dough. (Only add as much milk as it takes to combine into a ball, it might vary in your climate.) Do not over mix! You can always just mix the last bit of flour stuck to the bowl in by hand.

Either roll out and cut the dough with a biscuit cutter or roll into little palm-sized balls and place on a cookie sheet and bake for 12 minutes until fluffy and golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack, or just smother them in butter, honey, or jam and eat them as soon as possible. :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mouth-Watering Pork Carnitas

I love this recipe because it can be quickly made in a pressure cooker or just thrown in a slow-cooker in the morning an it's ready to eat when you get home. (It makes the house smell great!)
There are a few key ingredients that make this recipe over-the-top-tasty (hint: OJ).

Can easily serve 5 people.

4 Pork Chops or a 3-4lb. Pork Shoulder
1 14oz. can diced Tomatoes
1 small can diced Green Chiles
3 cloves of Garlic, diced
1 small white or red Onion, diced
1 tbsp. Lime juice (bottled or fresh)
1/2 cup of Orange Juice
1 cup beef or chicken Stock (or as much liquid as it takes to cover the meat)
2 tsp. ea. Paprika and Chile Powder
4 tsp. Ground Cumin
2 tsp. ea. Salt & Pepper
2 roasted and chopped Peppers of your choice (depending on how spicy you want it)
2 tbsp. chopped Cilantro (to garnish)

Heat a splash of olive oil in a large pot or pressure cooker. Sprinkle salt & pepper on the pork, then turn to sear the meat on all sides. Push meat to the edge of the pan so you can also saute the garlic and onion until it's translucent. Either transfer the meat, onions, and garlic to a slow-cooker or keep it in the same large pot/pressure cooker.

How to roast a pepper: Spray or coat the peppers of your choice in oil and broil, turning with tongs until all sides are charred. Let the pepper cool and remove stem- and seeds if you want it to be less spicy.

Add the rest of the spices on top of the meat, add the can of tomato and chiles, fill the pot with the lime juice, orange juice, and stock (or water if you don't have stock on hand) and stir.

Cover the pot and bring up to a low-simmer (medium-low heat) if slow-cooking in a pot or CrockPot and cook for at least a few hours until meat can be shredded with a fork. If using a pressure cooker, bring up to temperature, then lower and cook for at least an hour.
Shred the tender meat using a couple of forks. Let the pork simmer in the juices to absorb all the spices throughout, while also thickening the juices. Keep warm until ready to serve.

This meat helps make my favorite tacos: warm some tortillas, add your hot carnitas, add chopped lettuce, tomato, cilantro and a dollop of sour cream to top it all off. Yummm.
Best of all, the leftovers only taste better as the flavors mix.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Swedish Meatballs

Here's another favorite recipe of mine inspired by a recipe. Makes a quick and filling week-night meal. I love the warm spices and sauce from these meatballs poured over a pile of steaming hot egg noodles.

Makes about 20 meatballs.

1 tsp olive oil
1/2 a medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 celery stalk, minced
1 small carrot, shredded
1/4 cup minced parsley (or 1 tbsp dried italian herbs)
1 lb lean ground beef
1 egg
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
pinch of salt and pepper
1/2 tsp allspice
2 cups reduced sodium beef stock
2 oz cream cheese

In a large saute pan over medium heat, heat oil and sauté onions and garlic for about 5 minutes. Add celery and carrot, cooking until soft, and allow to cool.

In a large bowl combine ground beef, egg, sautéd veggies, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and allspice. Mix well with hands or spoon and form small, bite-sized meatballs.

Pour beef stock into the pan and heat to a low boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and carefully add meatballs to the broth. Cover and cook about 20 minutes. Remove the meatballs with a slotted spoon. Next, strain the stock, add to blender with the cream cheese and blend until smooth. Return sauce to pan and simmer a few minutes to thicken, then add meatballs, warm and serve.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Basic Homemade Crepes

The thing I love about crepes is their adaptability. You can have sweet breakfast or dessert crepes, savory dinner crepes, and even eat them on the go. These are simple to make and are a real treat that is sure to impress your family or guests! Keep your crepes warm in a low temp oven while you cook the desired amount.

This recipe makes 3 crepes, feel free to double or triple it for bigger groups.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. softened butter

Place all the ingredients in a blender a mix on high until frothy. You may have to stop the blender and scape down any flour stuck around the sides and blend again. Refrigerate batter (up to 2 days) before cooking.

For savory crepes: add 1 tsp. of italian herbs (fresh or dry) and pepper to the batter.
Possible fillings: I like to fill with ham and swiss cheese, or even a cooked egg. Or you can fill with sautéed slivers of onions, peppers, and zucchini.

For sweet crepes: add a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.
Possible fillings: I typically fill my crepes with my favorite fresh chopped fruit. Other fillings I recommend are Nutella, whipped cream, vanilla yogurt, or sweetened ricotta cheese. Finish with your choice of nuts, fresh lemon juice, honey or powdered sugar.

Grease a 10in. pan with non-stick cooking spray. Turn your stovetop to medium heat and let the pan come up to temperature. When the pan is hot, slowly pour a thin layer of batter into the pan and swirl to get an even layer all around the pan.

The edges should start to peel up and bubbles should appear in the center when the first side is cooked. Carefully raise edges with a spatula and flip over. When both sides are lightly browned, add your chosen filling to warm. You can fold the crepe into quarters, or slide onto a plate and simply roll into a tube. Eat while warm!

Combine your favorite flavors and try your own filling combinations. There are so many possibilites!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sweet & Tangy Summer Coleslaw

I didn't like cabbage much (except sauerkraut) when I was growing up... until I combined a couple coleslaw recipes to make my favorite. The maple syrup and nutmeg make this a sweeter slaw, but the lemon juice balances it and makes a refreshing side dish.
Your kids might even eat their veggies now!

1 bag of shredded cabbage (with or without carrots)
1/3 cup of mayonaise
juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. celery seed (optional)
pinch of salt & pepper

Note: Depending on how much dressing you like on your coleslaw, adjust the amount of mayonaise.

Mix together all the ingredients except a handful of the shredded cabbage. Refrigerate and taste to check the amount of salt. Mix in the last handful of cabbage right before you serve to make sure your coleslaw is crispy.

I recommend refrigerating for at least 30 minutes before serving, allowing time for the flavors to blend.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Moist Banana Nut Bread

My recipe was inspired by one I saw on I made some changes to my personal taste. I make this weekly - at my boyfriend's request. It makes a great snack any time of day.

3 ripe medium bananas, smashed
1/4 cup natural apple sauce
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. softened butter
1/4 cup molasses
2 tbsp. sugar (or the equivalent of your favorite sweetener)
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Add to your taste:
2 tbsp. walnut pieces
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon

Non-stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 325°. Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, combine the two flours, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Add butter, molasses, and mix with an electric mixer. Then add the egg, bananas, apple sauce, vanilla, spices, and beat until batter thickens. Be sure to incorporate all the dry ingredients.

Add walnuts and gently blend until combined. Do not over mix.

Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake on the center rack for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let the bread cool to room temperature before slicing.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Welcome to My New Food Blog!

Hello, My name is Ashley. I'm a home cook who likes to shake up the types of meals I cook each week. I try to scout out nutritious and tasty food options so you don't get stuck in Boring-land in the kitchen. Some recipes I create myself and others I adapt from other interesting recipes I find online or in cookbooks.

Come follow along in my kitchen, feel free to eat with your eyes, and be sure to try the recipes I share and add your own flare! Let me know how it goes in your own kitchen! I would also love to hear your suggestions of other styles or cuisines you would like to see.

I hope this blog will inspire you to try some new recipes and take comfort in tasty home cooking.