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Favorite Apple Pie

This is the apple pie recipe that I've been making for the past 40 years.  It's from a paperback cookbook that I was given at my wedding shower over 41 years ago called Farm Journal's Complete Pie Cookbook, Popular Edition.  I don't know if it's still available or not, but it's 291 pages of pie recipes.  My book has been used so much that it's now held together with a rubber band :).  The only difference from the original is that I now use rice flour instead of regular flour, and of course my pastry is gluten free. 

Favorite Apple Pie (makes one 9" pie)

Pastry for a 2-crust pie (I used this recipe)
3/4 to 1 Cup sugar, depending on tartness of apples
2 Tbsp  rice flour
1/2 to 1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
6 to 7 Cups sliced peeled apples (I like to use equal amounts of Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples)
2 Tbsp butter or margarine (optional)

Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Slice apples 1/4" thick.  Mix sugar mixture and apples.  Heap in pastry-lined 9" pie pan.  Dot with butter if desired.  Adjust top crust and flute edges; cut vents.

Bake in hot oven (425) 50 to 60 minutes, or until crust is browned and apples are tender.

I brushed the top crust with beaten egg white and then dusted it with granulated sugar.  This is the first apple pie I've made using the cream cheese pie crust recipe, and the edge seemed to get brown ahead of the top.  I'm thinking that next time I'll adjust the temperature to 400 in hopes of it browning more evenly.  I'll be making another one this month sometime, and if it works better, I'll revise the instructions above.


Gail's Green Beans

I made the yummiest green beans for Thanksgiving dinner!  I got the idea from my friend Gail who is one of the most creative cooks on the planet.  She's always up to something wonderful in her kitchen, and doesn't use recipes much, preferring to create as she goes.  Anyway, she brought these beans to a dinner we both attended and they were so wonderful I had to ask her how she did them.  No recipe, of course, but she told me what she had put in, so I did the same for Thanksgiving, and voila!  They were as easy and delicious as Gail said they'd be! 

Gail's Green Beans

Enough fresh green beans for 3-4 people (about 1 lb)
1 Tbsp butter
2 green onions, sliced
6 medium sized fresh mushrooms, cut in half and then sliced
2 slices bacon, fried crisp and chopped

Cook green beans in boiling water until tender-crisp.  Drain.  While beans are cooking, melt butter in large fry pan; saute onions and mushrooms in butter until cooked.  Add cooked chopped bacon and drained green beans and cook together briefly, stirring well.  Serve immediately. 


Chicken Pot Pie

This is a bonus recipe that combines the last two posts into one!  If you've made the Chicken and Dumplings, you're set to go.  I made this in individual sized ramekins, although it would work fine in a regular pie plate if you're feeding a family or don't have ramekins.  I decided I wanted to change up the chicken stew a little, so I just sauteed some sliced fresh mushrooms in a little butter and added some frozen peas to the mushrooms right at the end to thaw them, then stirred them into the chicken stew.  (I didn't use the dumplings at all.)  I've always thought that a bottom and top crust on chicken pot pie was too much, so I just ladled the jazzed up stew into the bowls...

and then topped them with the crust (using yesterday's recipe, which makes 4 tops).  If you like lots of crust, feel free to line the bottom and top -- I'll never tell!

Then I baked them in a 375 oven until the tops got browned.

They were yummy!  Here's a picture of one that's been cut into so you can see the flakiness of the crust.

These is also a great way to use up leftover turkey, vegetables and gravy from Thanksgiving dinner.  Just combine what you've got, add what you like, and top it with crust!  A hit every time!


Pie Crust

Up until now, I've been using Donna Jo's Dream Pastry from Bette Hagman's book More from the Gluten-Free Gourmet for my pie crust.  It is a great recipe, good-tasting, tender and flaky, but the dough is very delicate and hard to handle -- I always had to do a lot of patching once I got it into the pan because it broke apart so much in the transfer from surface to pie plate.  Recently my daughter-in-law got me a new GF cookbook called Life Tastes Good Again by Kirsti Kirkland and Betsy Thomas.  It had an intriguing pie crust recipe in it that I just had to try.  In the book it's called Best Gluten Free Pie Crust, although they explain that it's original name is "The Best Pie Crust You've Ever Eaten Because It's Amber's Recipe and She's Perfect," which made me laugh.  The biggest difference in this crust is that there's no water added, which makes it way easier to handle.  In fact, it handles just like regular pie crust!  And it turns out tender and flaky.  The flavor is a tad different, probably because of the cream cheese, but still very good.  Because of the ease in handling, this has become my new favorite.

Pie Crust

1-1/2 Cups Bob's Red Mill all-purpose GF flour
1/2 Cup gluten-free flour mix (I usually use basic or featherlight)
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
6 oz cream cheese, softened
1 Cup real butter, softened

Whisk together flours, xanthan gum, sugar and salt.  Set aside.  Use an electric mixer on low speed to mix the cream cheese and butter together.  Add the dry ingredients and mix just until the dough clumps together.  Divide the dough into 2 discs, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.

Sprinkle some GF mix on a clean surface.  Roll each disc into a circle that is 1/8 inch thick.  Transfer to pie pan.  With your fingertips, pinch the top of the dough to make ridges all around the top of the crust or just press it all around with the back of a fork.  Chill 20 minutes before filling.  Fill with your favorite pie filling and bake as that pie recipe directs.  Makes one double crust or two single crusts.

If pre-baking:  Preheat oven to 375.  Prick the bottom of crust all over with a fork.  Line the inside of crust with aluminum foil.  Fill it with pie weights, uncooked rice, or beans.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until very lightly browned.  Lift foil and weights out of the shell and bake until browned, 10-15 minutes more, checking frequently to prevent over-baking.  Remove from the oven and cool completely before adding filling.

If you would like to have the Bette Hagman recipe, leave me a comment and I'll put it in a separate post.


Chicken and Dumplings

OK, you're finally getting my all-time favorite, ultimate comfort food recipe.  Be warned, however, that it is also labor-intensive, but totally worth it.  For the ultimate experience, you'll want to pay attention to the following, in order of importance:
1.  A cold day, preferably snowing or storming (this is definitely not a warm-weather dish).
2.  A day when you have a block of time with no deadlines and no stress, so you can just enjoy being in the kitchen (it turns out better with the love flowing).
3.  Make sure you have the ingredients you need on hand so you don't have to run to the store in the midst of making it (see #1).
4.  An evening coming up (not necessarily the day you make it) with family or close friends invited who love honest, simple, delicious homemade food and will appreciate your efforts (optional if you hate entertaining).

I have made this recipe for years and given it out numerous times.  I adapted it the first time (pre-GF) from a recipe I found in a magazine. That version was more casserole-y, with the chicken still on the bone in pieces, which I thought was weird because it was so hard and messy to eat.  So I changed that and a few other things that I'll explain later.  It became an immediate family favorite, and is usually what we have for Christmas Eve dinner (made a day or two in advance, when I can manage it--thank goodness it keeps well).  When we found out about Ron's allergy to wheat, I was determined to adapt it again so that we could continue to enjoy it -- it was impossible to imagine our lives without ever having chicken and dumplings again!  It took a few tries, at least for the dumplings, before it was back to its previous status as #1 fav.  I hope it becomes one of your family favorites as well. 

Chicken and Dumplings (makes enough for 12 generous servings)

5 lbs chicken breasts and thighs, skinned, or 2 whole chickens cut into pieces
6 Cups thickly sliced carrots
6 Cups thickly chopped onions
3 Cups thickly sliced celery
13 Cups water
6 cans Swanson's chicken broth
Bouquet garni:  3 Tbsp dried parsley, 1 large bay leaf, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp rosemary, 1-1/2 tsp crushed peppercorns or coarse ground pepper.  The traditional way to make a bouquet garni is to put the ingredients in a couple layers of cheesecloth, and tie it with string.  I rarely have cheesecloth on hand, so I use a large spice ball.  The picture below shows 2 spice balls with a teaspoon in the foreground so you can get an idea of the size.  I most often use the one on the right, as you can tell from its beat-up appearance :).  Incidentally, large spice balls like these also work great for the spices used in spiced cider (I'll be sharing my favorite recipe for that soon!)

Cook chicken in 10 cups of the water.  Boil, skimming often, until chicken is cooked through.  Remove chicken from water and keep broth.  If you use whole chickens, you will, of course, have to remove the meat from the bones, which is more work.  Using skinned boneless chicken breasts and thighs speeds things along a little.  After it cools, cut into bite-sized chunks.

Cook the veggies in 3 Cups water, canned chicken broth and bouquet garni.  When veggies are done, remove bouquet garni and vegetables from broth.  Keep broth

While the meat and vegetables are cooking, mix up the dumplings:

6 Tbsp shortening
2 eggs
2/3 Cup buttermilk or sour milk
1 Cup rice flour
2/3 Cup potato starch flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2-3 Tbsp dried parsley

Beat the shortening and egg together.  Whisk the dry ingredients together.  Stir in the buttermilk alternately with the dry ingredients.  Do not overbeat.  This will be a fairly stiff dough.  Set aside.

3 cubes (1-1/2 Cups) butter
2 Cups brown or white rice flour
1 Tbsp salt
2 tsp ground pepper

In very large stock pot, melt butter.  Add flour, salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes.  Pour in 16 cups of the reserved veggie and chicken broth.  If you need additional, add water to make the 16 cups.  Stir until thickened.  Bring to a boil; lower heat until gravy is at a good simmer that is producing steam.  Drop dumplings by heaping tablespoonfuls into hot gravy.  Only put in as many as can fit comfortably, not touching each other.  Cover with tight lid and steam for 10 minutes.  Do not lift the lid while cooking dumplings.  It is the steam that cooks the dumplings.  You can test for doneness in the normal way - with a wooden toothpick.  They will be coated in gravy, but should be done in the center like biscuits.  Remove dumplings from broth and put in your next batch.  Keep cooked dumplings warm on an oven-proof plate in the oven.

Here's what they look like when done.  They aren't real attractive, but it won't matter.  Keep reading!

When all the dumplings are cooked, add the veggies and cut-up chicken back into the gravy, stirring well.  Lower heat. 

To serve, put a dumpling in the bottom of a bowl and ladle the chicken stew on top. 

Note:  Don't be tempted to put the veggies and chicken into the gravy before cooking the dumplings.  The veggies and meat will sink to the bottom and burn while the dumplings are cooking. Getting the gravy hot enough to produce the steam necessary to cook the dumplings without burning on the bottom is the trickiest part.  If you discover that the gravy has stuck and burned some on the bottom, don't panic.  Just transfer the gravy into another large pot, without scraping the burnt part with it, then add your vegetables and meat into the gravy and reheat at a low temperature.  The veggies and meat are usually still pretty warm and the gravy is hot, so it doesn't take long at all to get it to eating temperature.

There it is -- total comfort in a bowl.  And as an added bonus, your house will smell divine! 

For my gluten-eating followers, just use regular flour instead of the rice flour in the soup part, and here's the original recipe for the dumplings:

3 Cups flour
1-1/2 Tbsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
15 Tbsp milk
2-3 Tbsp dried parsley

Mix dry ingredients and parsley in a bowl.  Mix milk and eggs together.  Add to dry ingredients and mix until just blended.  Dough will be sticky.  Proceed as directed above.


Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread

This easy to make spread is great on the pumpkin muffins, and pancakes, and waffles, and anything else you want to spread it on.  Mmmmmm.  Thanks, Better Homes and Gardens!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 Cup canned pumpkin
1/4 Cup sugar
3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp vanilla

Beat all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.  Makes 1-1/2 Cups.

With this and this in your refrigerator, you can forget about buying those expensive cream cheese spreads at the supermarket! 


Pumpkin Muffins

We were up in the mountains over the weekend and I decided to try to adapt a recipe I've had for awhile for Pumpkin Muffins.  Anything pumpkin seems appropriate this time of year, and it was snowing beautifully -- you know, the big fat flakes straight down kind of snow that automatically puts you in the mood for the holidays (and baking, in my case :).  So maybe it was just karma, because first-try adaptations rarely turn out well, or maybe it was the snow, but I have a new favorite muffin, they turned out that good.  So good, in fact, that I had to make a second batch today because I just can't get enough of them.  And, oh yeah, I had the idea to try adding some chocolate chips to this batch, and....woohoo, they got even better!  Not as healthy, maybe, but hey, it's the holidays!  (If you want healthy, try adding some raisins or nuts, which is what's going into my next batch.)  So here you go -- don't blame me if you get addicted!

Pumpkin Muffins

1-1/3 Cups gluten-free rice flour mix
3/4 Cup Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Baking Flour or gluten-free four flour bean mix
1/3 Cup sugar
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 rounded tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 slightly beaten eggs
1 Cup canned pumpkin
1/2 Cup milk
2 Tbsp oil
1/2 tsp finely shredded orange peel
1/4 Cup orange juice
raisins, chopped nuts, chocolate chips, your favorite add-in (optional)

Whisk all dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  In another bowl combine the eggs, pumpkin, milk, oil, orange peel and orange juice.  Add to the flour mixture all at once (along with any add-ins) and stir until moistened (batter should be lumpy).  Spray twelve 2-1/2 inch muffin cups if they have a non-stick coating, or grease regular muffin tins.  Spoon batter into the prepared muffin cups, dividing evenly.  Bake at 400 for 15 to 20 minutes or until the muffins are light brown.  Cool in muffin cups for 5 minutes; remove and serve. 

This is a picture of my last plain one, and one of the new ones with the chocolate chips.  And what is that in the container to the side, you ask?  Check tomorrow for a new spread recipe that's perfect on these!


Cranberry Fruit Nutbread

This is my favorite Christmas tea bread that I told you I'd be sharing two posts ago.  Better sooner than later, I guess!   I make dozens of loaves of this every holiday season to give to neighbors, friends, co-workers, etc.  Below the picture are some shortcuts you can take to speed things along if you're really cranking them out in production.  I also make them in different sizes of loaves -- a big loaf for a family, a tiny one for a single person -- you get the picture.  I also like to use the single-use pans they sell at the supermarket.  Some of them even come with little plastic lids that you pop on after they've cooled, and you don't have the stress of wondering if the loaf will come out of the pan cleanly -- you just leave them in the pan!  If you're really pressed for time, you can just stick on a bow or tie a pretty ribbon around the pan and lid, attach a tag, and you're good to go.  I usually wrap the whole shootin' match in foil (shiny side out) and then tie on the ribbon and tag.  So here we go:

Cranberry Fruit Nutbread

2 Cups gluten-free mix (I usually use the featherlight mix)
1 Cup sugar
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 Cup shortening
1 tsp grated orange peel
3/4 Cup orange juice
1 well beaten egg
1 Cup fresh cranberries
1/2 Cup chopped nuts (optional)

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl.  Cut in shortening.  Combine the orange peel, orange juice and egg in a separate bowl.  Add to the dry ingredients and mix.  Fold in cranberries and nuts.  Turn into greased loaf pans.  Bake at 350 for 40 to 60 minutes, depending on size of loaf pans being used.  Cool thoroughly.  Best if wrapped and stored overnight before cutting.

You can double, triple, or even quadruple this batch to make more loaves without any loss of texture or yumminess. 

The loaf pictured is a tiny one, in case you're wondering why the cranberries look so big :).  If you're making a bunch of these, here's some tricks that will save you some time, but won't affect the quality of the loaf:

Rather than grating fresh orange peel, you can buy bottles of dried grated orange peel (in the spice section).  Just add it to the orange juice before you start putting together the dry ingredients so that it can soften and plump up.  Also, for the orange juice, instead of squeezing fresh orange juice, or even reconstituting frozen orange juice, just buy ready-to-go orange juice in the cartons.  I like to get the kind with the most pulp, so that it's most like fresh squeezed.  If you use the chopped nuts, you can buy them chopped up, rather than having to chop them yourself, or if you have whole ones, use a food processor to chop a quantity of them rather than doing it by hand.  Also, they don't have to be chopped real small.  Bigger chunks look more attractive and taste better, and still slice fine once the loaf has cooled.  In the picture is the orange juice I use, the little bottle of dried, grated orange peel, and the little loaf  pans with lids that I mentioned at the top.

For those of you who tolerate wheat -- substitute regular flour for the gluten-free flour and leave out the xanthan gum.


Clam Chowder

I think I've mentioned this in other posts, but my husband is also allergic to milk.  However, we figured out that it's only the whey he's allergic too, so he can tolerate cheese since the whey is taken out.  For whatever reason, he can also tolerate reconstituted evaporated (canned) milk when I use it in cooking.  I don't know if it's something about how it's processed or what, but I'm glad because it really opens up a lot of recipes to me.  This is one of them.  The original recipe calls for whole milk, of course, but I just substitute reconstituted evaporated milk (an equal amount of water reconstitutes it), and it works fine.  I've served this alot at parties and dinners, and it's always a hit. 

Clam Chowder

2 cans clams, chopped or minced (I use one of each so there's variety in the size of the pieces of clam)
1 Cup finely chopped onion
1 Cup finely diced celery
2 Cups diced potatoes
3/4 Cup butter
3/4 Cup rice flour (or regular flour for the gluten-tolerant)
1 qt milk (see note above)
1-1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1/2 tsp sugar

Put vegetables and clams with juice in sauce pan.  Add enough water to barely cover vegetables.  Simmer covered over medium heat until potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes).  In meantime, melt butter in a stock pot.  Add flour, blend and cook for one to two minutes.  Add milk all at once and stir until smooth, creamy and thickened.  Add veggies and clams (with cooking water) and heat thoroughly.  Season with salt, pepper, and sugar.  Serve.  Makes about 3 qts of soup.

I'm not into embellishments on soup much, but this looks pretty boring, so I probably should have added a little something.  Trust me, though, it tastes great!  Perfect for a cold day. 


Orange-Cranberry Cake

I saw this recipe on the Better Homes and Gardens website and was intrigued because it had some of the same ingredients as my favorite tea bread (which I'll be sharing sometime between now and Christmas).  Unlike yesterday's muffins, this recipe calls for fresh cranberries, so I've been hanging on to it for a while waiting for the cranberries to come on the market, and yesterday, there they were!  I have several recipes that call for fresh cranberries, but the only time you can buy them, at least around here, is during the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays.  I've tried freezing them for use at other times of the year, but was disappointed in the result.  As soon as they thaw, they kind of deflate and go watery.  The thing I like about them when they're fresh is how they hold up in baked goods, and the frozen ones just don't cut it.  So I've decided that cranberries are like peaches -- enjoy them as much as possible in season and try to be patient the rest of the year.  I'm grateful they last so well in the refrigerator so that I can buy a quantity of them as soon as they're available.  There have been some years where I bought a few at a time and then they were gone at the supermarket, never to reappear, and I hadn't had nearly my fill.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy this cake.  The recipe said to cook it in a 10-inch tube pan (like you would angel food cake), but I thought a bundt pan would be much prettier, so that's what I used and it worked fine.

Orange-Cranberry Cake (adapted from Better Homes and

2-1/4 Cups gluten-free rice powder mix
1-1/2 Cups rolled oats (Bob's Red Mill sells guaranteed gluten-free rolled oats)
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 Cup butter, softened
1 Cup sugar
3 eggs
1 Cup milk
2 Cups fresh cranberries
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp finely shredded orange peel

1.  In bowl, whisk together flour, oats, xanthan gum, baking powder, soda and salt. 
2.  In large mixing bowl, beat butter with electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds.  Add the 1 Cup sugar; beat until well combined.  Add eggs; beat until well combined.  Alternately add flour mixture and milk, beating on low speed after each addition until combined.
3.  Toss cranberries with 2 Tbsp sugar; fold into batter with the orange peel.  Spoon batter into greased and floured bundt pan (or sprayed one if yours has a non-stick finish).   Spread evenly.
4.  Bake at 350 for 50 to 60 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean.  Cool in pan 10 minutes.  Remove from pan.  Cool.  Prepare Orange Glaze; spoon over cooled cake.  Let stand until glaze is set.  Makes 12 servings.

Orange Glaze
In small bowl combine 1 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp finely shredded orange peel.  Add 2 to 3 teaspoons orange juice to make drizzling consistency.

My husband likes lots of glaze, so I doubled the glaze recipe :). 


Buckwheat Cranberry Muffins

I remember my grandmother loving buckwheat pancakes.  She kept trying to get us grandkids to like them, but we ranged from ambivalent to adverse.  I haven't thought too much about buckwheat since then, but since it is a gluten-free flour (despite its threatening-sounding name -- at least for those with wheat intolerance), I thought I'd give this recipe a try and see if I liked buckwheat any better now than when I was a kid (I was the ambivalent one).  The answer is no, I'm still ambivalent.  But in case you're someone who loves buckwheat, these really are good muffins that I think you'll enjoy. 

Buckwheat Cranberry Muffins

1-1/3 Cups dried cranberries
3/4 Cup sugar, divided
3 Tbsp fresh orange juice
1 Cup gluten-free flour mix
1 Cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
1-1/2 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 Cup buttermilk

Combine cranberries with 1/2 Cup of the sugar and the orange juice in a bowl.  Let stand 30 minutes.  Beat the eggs with the melted butter until smooth.  Stir in the cranberries with all their liquid.  Add the flours, remaining sugar and rest of dry ingredients.  Stir in enough buttermilk to make a soft batter.  Grease or spray muffin tin.  Fill cups 3/4 full.  Bake at 375 until firm and golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing from tin.  Makes 12-14 muffins.


Magic Vanilla Ice Cream

I got this recipe off the internet from Cook' last August and finally got around to trying it yesterday.  I wish I hadn't waited so long!  It sounds impossible, but it turned out great!  And best of all, you don't have to own an ice cream maker to make it.  I guess that's what makes it magic :). 

Magic Vanilla Ice Cream

1/2 Cup sweetened condensed milk
1 ounce white chocolate chips (see note)
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
Pinch salt
1/4 Cup sour cream
1-1/4 Cups cold heavy cream

1.  Make Base:  microwave sweetened condensed milk and white chocolate in large bowl until chocolate melts, stirring halfway, about 30 seconds.  Let cool.  Stir in vanilla, salt, and sour cream.
2.  Whip Cream:  with electric mixer on medium-high speed, whip heavy cream to soft peaks, about 2 minutes.  Whisk one-third of whipped cream into white chocolate mixture.  Fold remaining whipped cream into white chocolate mixture until incorporated.
3.  Freeze:  place in airtight container and freeze until firm, at least 6 hours or up to 2 weeks.  Serve.  Makes 1 quart.

Note:  shop carefully.  White chocolate varies greatly in quality.  We like Guittard Choc-O-Lait Chips or Ghirardelli Classic White Chips.  If you use a bar instead of chips, chop it fine before melting it in step 1.  If you plan to store ice cream for more than a few days, place plastic wrap directly on its surface before you freeze it.

Remember the hot fudge sauce recipe from last June?  Oh yeah.  A match made in heaven.