Monday, November 26, 2007

Perfect Pie Crust Apple Pie

This Thanksgiving I was assigned to make an apple pie. I've made one apple pie in my life, two years ago, and it was the recipe on the Splenda bag for Michael's diabetic grandpa. (Does that even really count?) Well, either way, I am a legit apple pie baker now! I even made my very own pie crust--a first for me. And the dish was such a hit, I was handing out the recipe left and right before the night's end! If you are looking for a new apple pie recipe, look no further. You won't be disappointed!

Here's what you'll need:
3/4 cup sugar
1 T all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Dash salt
3 1/2 cups peeled, chopped cooking apples
1 (16-ounce) jar applesauce
1 T lemon juice
2 T butter, chopped into small pieces

Crunch Topping:
3 T all-purpose flour
1 T sugar
Dash salt
1 T butter, at room temperature

Pie Crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp fine salt
3 T granulated white sugar
1/4 cup vegetable shortening, cold
12 T butter, (1 1/2 sticks) cold and cubed
1/4 cup to 1⁄2 cup ice water

For the crust:
In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, salt and sugar. Add the shortening and break it up with your hands as you start to coat it all up with the flour. Add the cold butter cubes and work it into the flour with your hands or a pastry cutter. Work it quickly, so the butter doesn't get too soft, until the mixture is crumbly, like very coarse cornmeal. Add the ice water, a little at a time, until the mixture comes together forming a dough. Bring the dough together into a ball. When it comes together stop working it, otherwise the dough will get over-worked and tough. Divide the dough in half and flatten it slightly to form a disk shape. Wrap each disk in plastic and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

On a floured surface roll each disk out into a 10 to 11-inch circle to make a 9-inch pie.

Line a 9-inch pie pan with half of dough. Combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Stir in the apples, applesauce, and lemon juice. Spoon the apple mixture into pie pan and dot with butter. Cut remaining crust into strips; arrange in a lattice design over top of pie. (my lattice top needs a little work, that's for sure, but the crunch topping is very forgiving)

For crunch topping: Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Using a fork, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over top of crust. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees F and continue to bake for about 45 minutes, or until crust and topping are golden brown.


Monday, November 05, 2007

T Cakes

I saw this painting when I was at the National Gallery two weeks ago and I knew I had to have it! (Ok, so I settled for the print.) Baking cakes--baking anything, really--is one of my most favorite things to do! My mom is the queen of cake-baking and somewhere along the way, she must have instilled that passion in me. I love baking so much, in fact, that one day I hope to open a bakery that will be called "T Cakes". Not sure when exactly I will put this plan into action, but I've already got a couple investors lined up! ;) For now, I will put this print in my kitchen to inspire me...and one day, when the time is right, I will move it to decorate the walls of my bakery.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Just Two Pregnant Ladies Loose in the City

Last weekend, one of my closest friends from BYU came to visit! Hooray for visitors! Heidi arrived late Friday evening and we had a lot to pack in before she left on Monday morning. We started Friday night with a trip to Wegmans so I could show her the grocery store (if you can even appropriately call it that) that I have been raving about for a year and a half. We stocked up on snacks for the weekend, including HobNobs and Havarti cheese, a few of Heidi's favorites, and had some dinner and one of Wegmans' many in-house dining options.

I am due in Feb. and Heid is due in April, so she isn't sporting the huge baby bump that I am quite yet.

Saturday, we started the day off with a trip downtown to the National Gallery to hit all the highlights, including a new exhibit by Edward Hooper. It's always great to go see some art with someone who really knows a thing or two about it. I have gotten pretty good at faking my knowledge of art, but this time around, I let the art history major do most of the talking. ;) I had the greatest time at the National Gallery and am going to make it a point to go much more often!
After the National Gallery, we walked around the Mall and stopped inside the Air and Space Museum to see the Treasures of American History exhibit and also the Smithsonian. After the morning full of museums, we stopped for lunch and then headed to Old Town Alexandria to take a water taxi along the Potomac to Georgetown. It had been rainy for three days straight when Heidi arrived on Friday, but by some miracle, the rain held out on Saturday morning and the sky completely cleared into a perfect day by the afternoon! We couldn't have asked for better weather for the boat ride -- it offered a great view of the city and very interesting information, I thought. When we docked at Georgetown, we walked around on M Street and did a little shopping and then met Michael for dinner. By dinnertime, my feet were killing me and I was pretty exhausted, so I talked Michael into giving Heidi and me a driving tour of downtown DC. There's something about the view of the monuments at nighttime that I just can't get enough of!

On Sunday, after church, Heidi and I went to Mount Vernon to visit George Washington's old stomping grounds. (Although, between the wars and becoming President, he really didn't get to spend much time there.) I haven't been to Mount Vernon since my sixth grade east coast trip and I definitely appreciated it a lot more this time around.

On Monday morning, we fit in a quick trip to Arlington National Cemetery to see the changing of the guards before heading to the airport. It is a pretty amazing ceremony! An impeccably uniformed relief commander appears on the plaza to announce the Changing of the Guard. The relief commander walks out to the Tomb and salutes, then faces the spectators and asks them to stand and stay silent during the ceremony. The relief commander conducts a detailed white-glove inspection of the weapon. Then, the relief commander and the relieving sentinel meet the retiring sentinel at the center of the matted path in front of the Tomb. All three salute the Unknowns who have been symbolically given the Medal of Honor. Then the relief commander orders the relieved sentinel, "Pass on your orders." The current sentinel commands, "Post and orders, remain as directed." The newly posted sentinel replies, "Orders acknowledged," and steps into position on the black mat. When the relief commander passes by, the new sentinel begins walking at a cadence of 90 steps per minute.

After the ceremony, it was time to hightail it to the airport so that Heidi could get back to Reno. Thanks so much for coming, Heid! We had the greatest time. Come again soon!