Homemade Pie Baking Tips

November 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Recipes

Image by Ilja via Flickr

Homemade Pie Baking Tips
by Jill Cooper

If you love baking pies from scratch and have the time to do so, then go for it, but don’t feel guilty if you can’t. There are many ways to get that homemade taste without as much work. For example, say your family loves pumpkin pie but every year you notice that they only eat the filling and leave most of the crust. Then, this year, don’t put your pumpkin pie filling in a crust. Just pour it into a well greased baking dish or pan to bake. This will save you time and calories.

If your family loves apple pie but you don’t have time for a crust then make an apple crisp instead.

For homemade cinnamon rolls: Use frozen dough — most people can’t tell the difference. I’ve told this story before but it is a perfect example of what I mean. My grandmother-in-law made the best “homemade” noodles that everyone fought over and raved about at every family get-together. No one made noodles like grandma’s. One day I decided to ask grandma what her secret was and she took me to her freezer and laughingly, pulled out a bag of frozen egg noodles. Everyone assumed that she had made them from scratch.

Make your life easy and take shortcuts when you can. It is much less expensive to use convenience foods sometimes than to go out to eat.

Here are some more pie tips for you bakers and non bakers:

For something different, try serving your apple pie with butter pecan ice cream instead of the usual vanilla and/or top it with a little caramel ice cream topping.

Replace 1/4 of the white sugar in your apple pie recipe with brown sugar and/or replace your regular spices with pumpkin pie spice *(below).

You can give canned apple pie filling more of a homemade flavor by adding apple pie or pumpkin pie spice* to it.

Lime juice works much better than lemon juice to prevent fruits like apples from turning brown.

When making fruit pies, microwave the filling for 5-7 minutes before pouring it into the crust. This prevents the crust from becoming overly brown before the filling is completely cooked. In the case of an apple pie, you won’t have to worry about partially cooked apples.

When making pumpkin pie: Before you pour in the filling, bake the crust for 2-3 minutes just until it starts puffing a little on the bottom. Watch it carefully because it only takes a minute and you don’t want to totally cook it. This really helps prevent those sometimes very soggy pie crusts.

If you like cheese with your apple pie, mix 1 cup of grated cheddar cheese into your pie crust and then layer the apple filling with another cup of grated cheese.

If your pies are too runny, add 1 Tbsp. of tapioca to your filling.

When making pecan pie, melt the butter in a saucepan until it turns golden brown. Watch it so it doesn’t burn. This adds the most wonderful caramel like flavor to your pie.

When making a graham cracker crust, add a little cinnamon to the mix.

The Best Pie Crust

3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 1/4 cups shortening, cold
1 egg, cold
1 Tbsp. vinegar, cold
5 Tbsp. cold water

Mix flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender or 2 knives. Add egg, vinegar and 3 tablespoons water. Mix lightly. If dough is too dry, add more water. Mix with hands. Don’t overmix. Mix just until the dough sticks together. Divide into thirds. Roll out to make 3 pie crusts. When using the crust for the top of the pie sprinkle sugar on top. Crust can be frozen in balls and then defrosted and rolled out when ready to use. Makes 3 crusts.

Graham Cracker Crust

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 stick margarine, melted

Mix all ingredients together and press into a 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Cool and fill with favorite pudding filling. Makes 1 crust.

Pecan Pie

1 stick butter
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla
dash of salt
1 1/4 cups pecans, chopped
1 (8-9 inch) unbaked pie crust

Brown butter in a pan until golden brown. Do not burn. Cool. Add other ingredients in order given in a separate bowl. Mix well. Blend in cooled butter well. Pour into pie crust. Bake 10 minutes at 425° and then 40 minutes at 325°. Makes one pie.

Pumpkin Pie Spice

1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. cloves

Mix ingredients well. Makes 1 teaspoon. Use in any recipe calling for pumpkin pie spice.

Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the authors of the Dining On A Dime Cookbook. Dining On A Dime will help you save money on groceries and get out of debt, by cooking quick and simple homemade meals. For free tips & recipes visit LivingOnADime.com

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Snow Ice Cream

February 8, 2010 by  
Filed under For Kids

<a href=”http://www.linkedtube.com/A1Ar-Zbn9TI2fb05e39618d8af8cf07fd7bebc61da6.htm”>LinkedTube</a>
From LivingOnADime.com

Snow Ice Cream

½ cup milk or cream
¼ cup sugar
¼ tsp. vanilla

2 cereal bowls fresh clean snow.

Mix milk, sugar and vanilla together. Stir until vanilla is dissolved.  Add fresh snow and stir gently until it is thoroughly mixed.  Serve immediately. Serves 4.

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Food Dos and Don’ts to Beat Winter Blues

December 13, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles

A loaf of white bread. Photo by sannse, 18 Jul...
Image via Wikipedia

People with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) tend to put on weight because they tend to sleep more, are less active, and eat more than during the longer spring and summer months. They may crave carbohydrates and sweets to the point where they eat little else. Understanding these food dos and don’ts to beat winter blues may help you keep the extra pounds at bay while enabling you to feel better.

SAD is a type of depression which affects millions of people in the United States and around the world. While most of the people affected are women, men also suffer from this sometimes debilitating disorder. As stated above, people with SAD often crave carbohydrates and sugary treats because their body needs serotonin which helps regulate hunger and affects mood-enhancing chemicals. Unfortunately, when anyone eats too many sweets, extra pounds also creep onto the body.

Things to do:

* Eat complex carbohydrates found in fruits and vegetables. Choosing the most colorful vegetables and fruits will not only help you avoid simple carbs, but they may actually help brighten your day with their colors. Some dieticians suggest their patients with SAD eat as many as four cups of brightly colored fruits and vegetables a day.

* Eat three servings of protein a day. The protein helps fill you up, gives you energy, and helps build muscle.

* You may want to keep the following foods on hand for when you feel you need a mid-afternoon snack: oatmeal, nuts, peanut butter, prewashed vegetables, air-popped popcorn, whole grain crackers or bread, turkey, fruit, or cottage cheese.

* Bananas are a good choice if you want something sweet. Not only do they curb the appetite for sugar, they also can help enhance your mood because they contain both dopamine and serotonin.

Things not to do:

* Avoid consuming too much caffeine. Caffeine has been shown to suppress serotonin levels, so you’re actually compounding the problem when drinking coffee. If you must drink it, wait until after the mid-day meal so there is still plenty of daylight left to keep you from getting too tired.

* Avoid sweet treats and simple carbohydrates. This would include white bread and rice. Eating too many simple carbs raises your blood sugar level and then drops it just as quickly, which leads to the afternoon slump many people feel.

* Don’t skip meals as a general rule, not only during the winter months. The longer you wait between meals, the hungrier you will be. You will also notice a dip in concentration and more of a tendency to make poor food choices.

Following these food dos and don’ts to beat winter blues will help improve the way you feel as well, as help you avoid putting on extra pounds. When the winter months are over, you can feel better about the way you dealt with SAD this year and feel good about not having extra weight to lose before summer months arrive.

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Stress-Free Holiday Road Travel Tips for the Whole Family

November 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles

Phillips 66 Cottage-Style Filling Station - Ro...
Image by jenniferrt66 via Flickr

Some of us stay home for the holidays. Others make trips to see family and friends. But when you’ve got the kids in tow, road trips can become, well, rather unpleasant at times.

It’s not that we don’t enjoy spending time with our kids. In fact, just the opposite. It’s just that they get easily bored. And they get hungry – even more often on a long drive. And they need to stop at every rest area. (Well, most moms do too but I digress…)

But if you stop every time they want to stretch their legs or get a candy bar, you could add hours onto your trip. You may find yourself wondering why you didn’t just take a plane.

But road trips with the family don’t have to be an exercise in frustration. If you’re well prepared, they can actually be lots of fun. Here are some ideas to keep boredom and other things that make a road trip less pleasant at bay.

* Bring along plenty of snacks and drinks. But steer clear of chocolate, caffeine and sugar as much as possible, because these things can make already antsy kids even more hyperactive. Instead, pack some juice boxes, fresh fruits and veggies, crackers and other snacks that are healthy yet filling.

* Invest in a couple of travel games that the family can play together, or make up your own. These are great for keeping morale high and providing for quality time on long trips.

* Let each child bring a toy or individual game to play with. Most kids enjoy both group and individual activities at home, and they need both to keep them occupied and contented during a car trip. But be sure to place limits, because if you don’t, they’re likely to bring a whole bag full of stuff.

* If you have an infant, make sure to bring plenty of diapers, wipes, bottles and formula. Calculate how much of each item you will need, and bring about twice as much, just in case. Also, if any of your children take medication, be sure to bring an adequate supply.

* Bring something to put trash in. It’s surprising how many parents forget this. If you fail to do so, you’re just about guaranteed to end up with a car full of trash by the time the trip is over. Depending on the size of your family, you might need a grocery bag or a full-sized garbage bag.

* Be prepared for messes. If you have a mini car vac, it’s a good idea to bring it along. Other things you might need include wet wipes, paper towels, upholstery and carpet stain remover and glass cleaner.

* Ask kids if they need to use the restroom each time you stop at a restaurant or gas station. Otherwise, you might find yourself making lots of unscheduled rest stops.

Parents often consider holiday road trips necessary evils in which they must participate to get where they’re going. But if you plan ahead, the trip can be enjoyable for the whole family.

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Banana Bread with Sour Cream

August 23, 2009 by  
Filed under Recipes

A picture of some bananna bread I made in a lo...
Image via Wikipedia

Banana breads has been one of my girls’ favorite treats since they were very young. Pretty healthy too!

1 cup banana, mashed
½ cup sour cream
½ cup mixed nuts, chopped (optional)
½ cup butter or margarine
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 ½ cups unbleached flour
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar
½ tsp salt
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix the cinnamon with a bit of sugar and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and whisk in sugar, eggs and vanilla. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Grease large loaf pan and dust with the cinnamon/sugar mixture. Pour in butter mixture and put into the preheated oven for about 1 hour.

Serve warm!

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Apple and Apricot Bake

August 20, 2009 by  
Filed under Recipes

Apricot fruit
Image via Wikipedia

This recipe would make a wonderful Sunday brunch meal!

1 lb cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1 can (14 oz) apricot halves in natural juice, drained
Sugar to taste
4 slices bread (preferably whole wheat)
1 ½ oz butter or margarine
½ tsp ground cinnamon

Place chopped apple pieces in a large saucepan. Add the lemon juice and 1 tbsp of water and toss well. Slowly bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the apples are soft.

While the apples are cooking, slice the apricots and add to the apples for the last few minute. Add sugar to taste and set aside.

Preheat the grill to hot and grill the pieces of bread until deliciously golden brown. Butter the slices of bread on one side and sprinkle with cinnamon (and if desired some more sugar). Place under the grill again until hot and bubbly. Cut the bread into bite-size pieces.

Serve the hot fruit in bowls and top with the toasted bread. A delicious and quick dessert.

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