Sunday, September 18, 2011

Harvest Apple Pie

This is the last fall we will be spending in this house ... and the first for apples on our tree.  They were small, VERY tart and we had just enough for one pie.  So here it is .... apple pie with an all butter pastry!

I used a pastry crust recipe from Simply Recipes.  I personally prefer an all butter crust over lard or shortening.  Before I bake the pie, I glaze it with one egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp water.  The end product is perfectly golden, rich and flaky ... just delicious!

The filling is typical, but I always choose brown sugar over white for richness.

8 medium-large tart apples
2 tbsp lemon juice
3/4 cup  brown sugar
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix together and place into prepared bottom pie dough.  Top and seal with remaining pie dough (lattice or solid - whatever style you prefer).  Bake in a 425°F oven for 15 minutes with crust shield*. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake for 25 minutes.  Remove crust shield and bake for another 15 minutes or until golden, filling is bubbly and apples are soft when pierced with knife. Bring to room temperature on a cooling rack ... if you can wait that long.  MMMMM!!  The smell is divine!

*This is by far the best pie crust shield I've ever used.  I found it in a kitchen store in Orillia, Ontario, but I've also seen similar ones at flea markets.

We had to kill some time while our pies were in the oven, so Morgan practiced back-bends while we waited.  Lots of good fun and giggles.  We had a couple helpers in the kitchen as well ... dual vacuums really, waiting for any and all morsels to drop. :)

Serve pie with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt and top with a little fresh ground nutmeg.

Sadly, Matt is in the UK on business so he didn't get to enjoy the fruit of our labour ... but Morgan and I managed to put a pretty good dent in it.

Morgan is an amazing baker ... she even made her own cinnamon-sugar pie!  She loves to be in the kitchen ... and I'm so glad!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Take It ... and Grow

Change is in the air for our little family ...  BIG CHANGE.

It’s my time to embrace the gift of freelancing from home.  Exciting, scary, hard, overwhelming … I know many others are in the same boat: job loss – one of my biggest fears.

With this opportunity comes selling, moving, down-sizing, purging, simplifying and a whole myriad of change.  At times I don’t know what to think or feel … am I dreaming?

All this could be quite discouraging, but I purpose to choose a different path.  It’s taking me more than effort to rise above my superficial bend and welcome this kind of new beginning.

To my surprise, my faith hasn’t weakened (though I have had my moments), but strengthened … I’m realizing I can’t control life.  There is no plan or preparation great enough.  God is teaching me to let go and trust (Isaiah 55:8-9 - "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts").

He's also teaching me that maybe, just maybe, this entire series of events is not about me at all.  Maybe He's answering someone else's prayer through my trial?  Maybe He's answering a prayer that I've had deep in my heart for a while, but never would have embraced on my own?

My confidence in Him is strong … and through that, somehow, so is the confidence I have in myself.  This adventure brings a new freedom and a hope of endless possibilities.  It can be better than it’s ever been.  (Jeremiah 29:11 - "... I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. ")

“If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living.” – Sheehy

It’s time, Wendy, to take it and grow …

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Jalapeño Popper Dip

Ahhh!  Football season again ... my favourite!  (Not really, but it's Matt's so I try and be supportive). Sunday is a day for kicking back, so we typically eat snacks after church (and all afternoon) instead of sitting down to a real meal (though we do that all the other days of the week).

We love Mexican food!!  And let me tell ya, this dip cannot be beat.  It came about, really, out of laziness.  I used to make jalapeno poppers a lot, but it's not exactly a quick and easy treat.  So, from the need for speed and cheesy heat was born my version of Jalapeño Popper Dip.

8 large jalapeños, halved and seeded
1 cup light real mayo
2 - 250g or 8oz pkg of light cream cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
1 cup panko bread crumbs**
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup non-hydrogenated margarine or butter, melted
olive oil

**to make this recipe gluten-free, substitute 1 cup of coarsely ground rice crackers

TIP:  Seeding the jalapeños can be a bit tricky.  If you have sensitive skin, wear gloves as the oil from the peppers can really burn.  My tool of choice is actually a grapefruit spoon.

 The serrated edges make it perfect for scraping out the seeds and veins, where most the heat is stored.

Toss the jalapeño halves in a little olive oil and place under a 500 degree broiler for around 5 minutes each side.

Watch them closely!!  You know they're done when the edges start to char.  Switch oven to Bake setting and turn down to 400 degrees.

Finely chop the jalapeños ... they actually form a bit of a paste.

Mix together mayo, cream cheese, cheddar cheese and jalapeños until well combined.  Spread into a small casserole dish.  Place in the oven while you prep the topping so the dip gets a head start.

Mix together bread crumbs, Parmesan and margarine until the mixture forms soft crumbs.  Pull the dip out of the oven and evenly coat the top with the crumb mixture.  Place back in the oven for 18 minutes.

You'll know it's done when the crumbs turn a beautiful, tasty golden brown.  It looked too good not to dig in right away, as you can tell.  Serve with your favourite tortilla chips - we like Tostitos Restaurant style.  MMMMMMM!!!

Even Morgan loves it!  (Warning: it may be too spicy for the average kid - ours is just used to it. ;) )

My laziness has certainly paid off this time (according to Matt) - just look at those happy faces. :) :) :)  If you'd like a little cheesy heat in your life, this dip is a MUST try!

MMMMMMMMM!!!!  El mejor sabor!