Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Pink Stuff

Most families have old favorite recipes that get trotted out during the holiday season.  I know I have mentioned a number of my family favorites like angel cookies, rib roast, and Yorkshire pudding.  Today I am going to share a tried-and-true, wouldn't-be-a-holiday-without recipe from The Husband's family.

It is referred to as "The Pink Stuff" and my lovely mother-in-law makes it for Thanksgiving and Christmas each year. It is gobbled up in great quantities and loved by all who are lucky enough to taste it.  One day I was looking through an old cookbook called A Taste of Oregon and I came upon a recipe that looked very similar to the description my Mom-in-law has given me as to how she creates her pink stuff. 
This year she decided not to make the pink stuff for Christmas dinner so I took it as an opportunity to try my hand at making this recipe to see if it was indeed similar.  It is very simple to make if you have a food processor, which I do. Mom-in-law does not.  She takes the cranberries and grinds them through a manual meat grinder apparatus she screws onto the counter top.  I can't even imagine the effort that must entail!!  Five seconds, pulse, pulse, pulse, and viola, perfect finely chopped cranberries for me.  I am lucky to live in Oregon where local cranberries can be found in the grocery stores. So good!  Throw in a can of crushed pineapples and a pile of miniature marshmallows and some sugar and let sit overnight.  The next day whip up some cream and combine with the rest of the ingredients and there you have it...The Pink Stuff.

P.S. If you're like The Husband's family, you might as well make a double batch while your at it. Take my word for it. There will be no leftovers. 
Mother's Cranberry Christmas Salad (a.k.a. The Pink Stuff)

1  pound fresh cranberries
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup drained, crushed and/or tidbits pineapple
4 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup whipped cream

Grind cranberries. Add sugar, then pineapple.  Add marshmallows. Let this set in refrigerator overnight. Add whipped cream just before serving.  Serves 6-8.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Beauty Is Only Skin Deep

Sometimes when I cook something that I think would be great to blog about, it turns out to be rather homely and not very photogenic.  Such is the case with this delicious apple pie.  It looked so inviting in an old issue of Bon Appetit, but when I took it out of the oven it was a little on the dark side and not that appealing in appearance.

That is not to say while baking it didn't fill up the house with the most intoxicating smells of apples and cinnamon. Yum.  And it was love at first bite upon tasting.  What makes this apple pie rise above the rest in my opinion, is the addition of a couple teaspoons of vanilla extract and the use of brown sugar instead of white sugar with the apples.  The recipe also calls for raisins which I opted not to include this time.

The other wonderful thing about this pie is that it was so easy to put together as there is no top crust but instead a delicious crumb topping.  If you are a fan of apple pie this should be on your list of recipes to try. I think you'll agree it's a keeper.

Cinnamon Apple Pie with Raisins and Crumb Topping
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup (or more) ice water
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 3/4 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 6 medium), peeled, halved, cored, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices (about 8 cups)
1 cup raisins
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Crumb Topping:
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream

For crust:
Blend flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in processor. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Mix 1/4 cup ice water and vinegar in small bowl; add to processor and pulse until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if mixture is dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 1 hour. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled. Soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.

Roll out dough on floured work surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter deep-dish glass pie dish. Fold edges under and crimp, forming crust sides 1/4 inch above rim of pie dish. Freeze crust 20 minutes.

For filling:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Mix brown sugar, flour, lemon peel, and cinnamon in large bowl. Add apple slices, raisins, and vanilla; toss until well coated. Transfer filling to unbaked crust, mounding filling slightly in center. Bake pie until apples begin to soften, about 40 minutes.

For the crumb topping:
Whisk flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in small bowl. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture begins to clump together.
Sprinkle topping evenly over hot pie. Continue to bake pie until apples are tender and topping is browned and crisp, tenting pie with sheet of foil if browning too quickly, about 50 minutes. Cool pie on rack at least 2 hours. Can be made 8 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Homemade vs. Store Bought

A quick blog entry today to expound on the cost savings in most cases between homemade and store bought products.  Last weekend The Husband requested one of his favorite dinners, Fettuccine Alfredo and Caesar Salad.  As we were grocery shopping I went to the fresh pasta section of the refrigerator case and picked up a 12 oz. pack of fettuccine. I was so startled at the price, $5.95, I put it right back on the shelf.

We are lucky enough that we can usually purchase whatever we like, though I do compare prices, utilize coupons, and look for sales items.  But really, $5.95 for 12 oz. of flour and egg?? Ridiculous considering I have a manual pasta maker at home and know that the quality of homemade pasta is light years ahead of anything purchased, both in taste and in texture.
So home we went pastaless for the time being. 
Upstairs from the basement came my tried and true Italian made Atlas pasta maker purchased at a garage sale for just a few dollars.  In a matter of minutes I had mixed 2 cups of flour, 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a sprinkle of water to make my pasta dough.  In came The Husband who did the cranking and we had a pound of pasta made within one half hour.  Not only was it a great activity for the two of us (come on, we've been together 17 years, it doesn't take much to excite us), but it was an amazing cost savings.

Here is the breakdown:  Store bought fettuccine $5.95 for 12 oz or .50 cents per ounce  versus Homemade fettuccine   $  .96 for 12 oz. or .08 cents per ounce

Consider cooking from scratch more often for great cost savings and healthier, better food.