Rustic Apple Pie

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There is nothing like the smell of fresh apple pie straight out of the oven. This yummy smell reminds me of the first time I attempted to bake this delicious treat. When I was very young, I made my first apple pie from scratch. It was my mom who first showed me how to dice the apples, roll out the dough, and bake this glorious pie but let me tell you, I am now the pie crust master.

The recipe below is the same one I have been following since I was 10 years old. It’s from a very old edition of a Betty Crocker cookbook that my mom has now passed down to me (I think the publishing date is from the early 1970’s) where the finishing result is far superior than any other pie recipe that I’ve previously baked. The end result is a flaky, delicious crust with a flavorful burst of apple filling.

Ingredients:

Pie Crust

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 4-5 tablespoons of cold water

Filling

  • 7-8 McIntosh apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of butter

Directions:

Filling

Begin by peeling and coring the apples, then dicing into cubes.

Place the apples in a medium sized bowl and toss with flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt till all the apples are well coated.

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While you are making the pie crust, the apples will have time to marinate in their delicious spice coating.

Pie Crust

Combine the flour and salt in a medium size bowl and add the shortening. Using two knives, cut the shortening into the flour until the mixture is about the size of small peas. Add 1 tablespoon of water at a time until the dough forms a ball.

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Split the dough into two equal portions. Wrap one portion in cellophane and place it in the fridge. Sprinkle a dusting of flour across a work surface and proceed to roll out the second portion of dough to form a 10-inch circle.

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Carefully transfer the rolled dough into a pie plate. A handy trick that will keep the dough from tearing is to roll it back up around the rolling pin, then transfer and unroll over the pie plate. Using your fingers, push the dough firmly into the pie plate so no air remains underneath and trim any excess dough from the sides.

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Add the apple filling and top with bits of butter.

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Repeat the same process for the second portion of dough, rolling it out and transferring it directly on top of the apple filling. Again, use your fingers and pinch the dough along the rim to form a seal. Trim any excess dough.

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Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, use a knife to cut 3 slits into the top of the pie allowing the steam to escape while baking. Cover the crust of the pie with a small amount of aluminum foil for the first 35 minutes of baking to ensure that it doesn’t burn.

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Cook the apple pie for 45-50 minutes and remove the aluminum foil from the crust for the last 15 minutes. Let the pie cool and serve with some delicious ice cream for dessert!

Beer Marinated Chicken Burgers

The month of May marks the one year anniversary of owning my own condo. The past year has been one of the best years of my life, but also one of the most challenging. Living in my beautiful new home has been a huge adjustment, not only because I have many new responsibilities, including a new job working in a bank, but because I am now living with my boyfriend. It was a huge change when we decided to move in together, as it involved a lot of compromising and getting used to each others habits. However, I must say that it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. As per my new home and location, I have been adjusting quite well to living by the canal and have been taking advantage of all the restaurants and quaint boutiques that are in the nearby vicinity! The Atwater Market is just 5 minutes away, meaning fresh and local produce are readily available for my creativity in the kitchen. This summer I plan on having a garden out on the patio that will include a variety of herbs that would make excellent additions to salads and summer meals.

The warm weather is finally arriving and that means barbeque season has arrived! I have recently acquired my very own barbeque and I can’t seem to get enough of it during the summer months. I basically cook anything I can on the grill, as I find there is just a glorious taste that emerges from slightly charred food that is cooked in the outdoors. My boyfriend taught me an amazing trick for cooking chicken on the barbeque where it always turns out to be so deliciously juicy! Here is a recipe for scrumptious chicken burgers that are tender and flavorful.

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Ingredients:

  • Chicken breasts (quantity depending on the amount of guests, I used one per guest)
  • 1 bottle of beer (any kind can be used, but preferably dark beer)
  • Flat bread buns
  • Avocado
  • Lime
  • 1 red onion
  • Local brie cheese, double creme
  • Handful of baby spinach
  • Mayonnaise
  • Spice rub (cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper)

Directions:

First step is to marinate the chicken in beer. Score both sides of the breast with a knife and place the chicken in a bowl deep enough to allow the beer to just cover it. Marinating for 30 minutes or more (in the fridge) will tenderize the chicken and keep it moist.

While the chicken is marinating, chop the avocado into small wedges and toss it in lime juice to add flavor and to prevent it from turning brown.

Cut up the red onion into rounds, then toss in oil with salt and pepper. Keep aside, ready to be barbequed.

Cut thick slices of local brie and keep aside.

Mix all spices together in a small ramekin then remove the chicken from the fridge and drain all liquid. Sprinkle the spices evenly over the chicken breasts and rub till well incorporated.

Five minutes before grilling, pre-heat the barbeque to medium-high.

Oil the grill then add chicken and close the lid. Check after 5 minutes then flip the breasts carefully and close the lid for another 3 minutes or until cooked through. At the same time, grill the onions until tender.

Add the buns to the grill for around a minute each side until heated.

Remove the chicken and let it rest for 2 minutes. This is a very important step to ensure the moisture is locked in by allowing all the juices to settle.

Time to build the burger! Add the chicken breast, brie cheese, baby spinach, and grilled red onion to the bun. Top with some mayo, avocado and a splash of lime. Hope you enjoy!

My-O-Mahi! Devine Fish Tacos

Prior to making this recipe I had never eaten a fish taco before. I had always wanted to try them and friends of mine had told me they were absolutely delicious. So instead of ordering them at a restaurant, I decided to be adventurous and make them at home! However, I went a step further and challenged myself to use Mahi Mahi as the fish of choice.

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To give everyone a little description of Mahi Mahi, they are one of the fastest growing fish in the ocean, concentrated mostly in the Caribbean, the Golf of Mexico, and around Florida. They have a bizarre shaped head that is very rounded and are beautiful in color, varying from a blueish-green down to a gold. They are also known as the dolphin fish but have no relation to actual dolphins. In terms of using Mahi Mahi in cooking, it is moderate in flavor and have a fairly firm texture that can stand up to various cooking techniques, meaning the fillet will not fall apart very easily. It also contains mercury so it is best to eat this fish in moderation. (Information from Facts).

Back to the tacos! This recipe gives the Mahi Mahi a huge burst of flavor. A dry rub is created that adds heat and gusto, while other ingredients are prepared to compliment the fish, adding texture and crunch.

Ingredients:

  • Mahi Mahi (ask your local fishmonger to cut you a filet corresponding to how many guests you’ll be cooking for, I got just over a pound for two people with plenty of leftovers).
  • 1/4 tsp chili
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill
  • Handful of cilantro
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup of purple cabbage
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 green onions
  • Juice of a lime
  • 1 Avocado
  • Taco shells (quantity varying on number of guests)
  • Sour cream

Directions:

The first step is to make the dry rub. Combine chili, paprika, cayenne, onion powder, oregano, garlic powder, fresh dill, salt,and pepper in a bowl. Rub mixture all over the Mahi Mahi until well covered. Let the fish marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes.

While the fish is marinating, chop up the purple cabbage into bite size slivers. Add the chopped green onion, cilantro, plain yogurt, lime, salt, and pepper. Mix everything together until creamy and well blended.

Cut the avocado into cubes that will fit nicely into the taco shells.

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Pre-heat the barbeque to medium high heat. After 30 minutes, remove the fish from the fridge. When the barbeque is hot, turn down the heat to medium heat. Oil the grill with a paper towel so the Mahi Mahi doesn’t stick. Place the fish on grill for 4 minutes on each side (be gentle when flipping the fish).

Remove the cooked fish from the grill and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

You can either assemble the tacos before serving or you can create a build-your-own-taco station at the table to allow guests to get creative!

Have fun!