Drink and Food

Saturday, March 10, 2007

How To: Crumb Crust Apple Pie From Scratch

I must admit... It is hard to find an easy way to cook a crumb crust apple pie from scratch. But with a lot of essay and errors and cook book research I came up with I think is the most easy way to cook a crumb crust apple pie from scratch. Try this one, you will be delighted! How To: crumb crust apple pie from scratch

2 c. plus 2 tbsp. unsifted all-purpose flour 1 tbsp. granulated sugar 1/2 tsp. salt 3/4 c. vegetable shortening 3 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. water Crumb Topping (recipe follows) 6 Granny Smith apples or other tart apples 3/4 c. firmly packed light brown sugar 1 tsp. ground cinnamon Milk 1 tbsp. confectioners' sugar

Prepare pie crust: In large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, granulated sugar and salt. With pastry blender or 2 knives, cut shortening into flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stirring gently with fork, gradually add 3 tablespoons water until stiff dough forms. Add more water, if necessary. Form dough into two balls, one slightly larger than the other. Wrap and refrigerate larger ball. On slightly floured waxed paper, roll out smaller ball of dough to an 11 inch round. Invert pastry into 9 inch pie plate; remove waxed paper and fit pastry into pie plate. Refrigerate while preparing topping and filling.

Prepare Crumb Topping; set aside. Peel, core and coarsely chop apples. In large bowl, combine chopped apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and remaining 2 tablespoons flour, mix well. Transfer apple mixture to pastry lined pie plate mounding apples slightly at the center.

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Place baking sheet or piece of aluminum foil on the lower rack or floor of oven to catch crumbs. On lightly floured waxed paper, roll remaining ball of dough into a 12 inch round. Invert pastry onto apple filling and remove waxed paper; press pastry edges together and trim even with rim of pie plate. With small knife, make eight 1 inch slits randomly, in top crust of pie to allow steam to escape.

Lightly brush top of pie with milk; pat Crumb Topping all over pie. Bake pie 30 minutes; reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. and loosely cover pie with aluminum foil to prevent over browning. Bake pie 40 minutes longer. Cool pie on rack at least 40 minutes. Before serving, in small bowl, combine confectioners' sugar and remaining 1 teaspoon water to make glaze. Drizzle over pie and serve.


In medium bowl, combine:

1 c. unsifted all-purpose flour 1/3 c. sugar 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon 1/4 tsp. salt

With pastry blender or knives, cut 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Briefly rub mixture between fingers to blend in butter. Squeeze some mixture together to form larger crumbs, if desired. Makes 8 servings.

So making a crumb crust apple pie from scratch wasn't too hard after all wasn't it?

Friday, March 9, 2007

Child Friendly Recipes - Fruit Pizza

Child friendly recipes are fun to create. What makes a child friend recipe? A recipe that incorporates fun and good foods. Fruits and vegetables are favorite ingredients in child friendly recipes. Using these fresh ingredients provide vibrant colors that are appealing to children while also providing a nutritious meal.

Fruit can be cut into small sizes so a toddler can experience the texture as well as the taste of these healthy food group. Fruits or vegetables make excellent finger foods and can be easily added to fun recipes that children love. This fun "fruit pizza" is an example of a food project that allows children to select fruits in different colors and create a healthy snack while having fun creating fun faces.

Allow children to choose colorful fruits at the store or farmers' market. Turn the kids loose in the kitchen creating imaginative faces on this delicious fruit pizza. Odds are, they will snack as they create--and like what they taste.

Child Friendly Fruit Pizza


*Graham cracker piecrust

Filling for pie:

*1/2 cup fat free or low fat cream cheese
*1 tablespoon sugar
*1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
*1 tablespoon 1% milk


Suggestions for fruit pizza faces:
*Strawberries for the nose
*Kiwi fruit or seedless grapes for the eyes
*A banana for the mouth

The choices for making the face are only limited by their imaginations. The kids can choose pineapples, mandarin orange, grapes or any fruit they like.


To Prepare the Filling:

1. Whisk together cream cheese, sugar, vanilla extract, and lemon juice.
2. Add just enough milk to the mix to make it spreadable onto the crust.
3. Spread the cream-cheese mixture with a rubber spatula.
4. Spread to the edge of the crust.
Now its time for the kids to get involved.
*Allow the kids to arrange the fruit onto the cream cheese mixture.
*Don't worry if it is not perfect. It is perfectly nutritious and fun.
*Children may want to add sprinkles or chocolate chips. Let their imaginations run wild.
*Refrigerate the pizza for at least 1 hour.
*Slice with a sharp knife and serve.

The kids will be impatient and want to eat the pizza right away. This pizza cream cheese mixture is almost set but will cut easier if refrigerated for at least 1 hour. Let the kids help you with the cleanup. They will be anxious to taste their creation.

Chocolate Dessert - Something for Everyon

Who doesn’t like a rich, delicious chocolate dessert to end a great meal? In fact, a great chocolate dessert recipe can make an otherwise bland meal seem great. They say people remember the end of the meal more than the beginning. So, it’s no surprise that most chefs recommend you put a little thought into choosing a great finishing recipe and luckily, a chocolate dessert will more often than not, fill the bill superbly and easily!

How to Find a Great Chocolate Dessert Recipe

I know I am a chocolate freak and I think there is truly nothing better than enjoying a home-made dessert. But the best part is there are so many recipes to choose from that it’s just so easy to be a chocolate dessert freak! So, I’m going to share one of my real favorite recipes. It is called the double chocolate chunk cookie recipe, and for this you will need: 2 cups all-purpose flour; ¾ cup Nestle Toll House baking cocoa; 1 tsp baking soda; ½ tsp salt; 1 cup butter or margarine, softened; 2/3 cup granulated sugar; 2/3 cup packed brown sugar; 1 tsp vanilla extract; 2 large eggs; and 1 ¾ cups Nestle Toll House semi-sweet chocolate chunks.

First you need to preheat the oven to 350°F, it is important that the oven has reached baking temperature, and then combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl, and beat the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in a large mixer bowl until it is perfectly creamy. Then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; gradually beat in the flour mixture, stir in chunks, then drop by rounded teaspoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Now let them bake away for about 9-11 minutes. You will see the cookies puffing up and the centers will still be soft. Check by inserting a skewer or strand of raw spaghetti. Then allow them to cool on baking sheets for a couple of minutes after you take them out of the oven, and remove to wire racks so that they can cool completely.

I know you will just love this simple recipe. It is so easy but really satisfying even as a dessert. To dress the cookies up a bit and to make them more of a formal chocolate dessert, you may like to try the following finishing touches.

Option One

Arrange two cookies in a small desert bowl. Pile whipped cream between the cookies then crumble two small meringues over the top. Dress up with fresh raspberries and top with a small amount of extra whipped cream.

Option Two

Place a layer of fresh strawberries on bottom of serving bowl. Carefully slice one cookie lengthways and place one half on top of strawberries. Add layer of whipped or thickened cream that has been flavored with orange liqueur. Place other half of cookie on top. Add more fresh cream and garnish with a few strawberries.

Bon appetit!

Prepare Your Meals Ahead of Time

Being a mother, a parent, a student, and an employee, I do not have the time or the desire to prepare fancy meals for dinner every night of the week. With the hectic life I lead, I was finding it extremely difficult to put a meal on the table much before 9:00 or 10:00 at night. I needed to find a way to feed my family earlier and healthier and take out food was not a viable option. I finally figured out a neat little solution to my problem that seems to work fairly well. I plan and prepare all my dinner dishes a week ahead of time and freeze them.

I start by making a menu of what I would like to make for dinner for each night of the following week. Often times, I will plan this menu so that I can utilize the leftovers from one meal in a different meal. For example, I will buy a half of a ham and cut enough ham steaks off of it for one meal. Then I will take what is left of the ham and chop it into cubes and make scalloped potatoes or potato soup out of them. Another example would be hamburger. I cook an entire package of hamburger at a time. I prepare one half of the hamburger for spaghetti or goulash and the other half for something like Taco’s or Sloppy Joes. These little tricks save me a lot of time. They also tend to save me a lot of money because I buy the meat in bulk, which costs less.

If I know the following week is going to be especially hectic, I will plan meals like a big pot of soup or stew. I know that these dishes will have plenty of leftovers and I can get two nights worth of meals out of them. I also choose dishes that I know I can freeze without ruining the food. I recommend waiting to cook any pasta you will need for your meals until the night you need it. Pasta does not tend to freeze very well. You can still prepare the meat ahead of time and freeze it though.

After I have planned my menu, I make a list of what I need to prepare all of my meals and I take a trip to the grocery store. Once I have all of my ingredients, I set to work preparing the meals.

I prepare all of the meals on the same day and then I freeze them until the day I plan on having that meal for dinner. Then I take it out of the freezer that morning and let it thaw out. By dinnertime it is thawed and all I have to do is reheat and serve. I know it seems like a lot of time to spend cooking in one day but it will save you from having to do it during the week when you are exhausted and don’t feel like cooking a big meal.

Sometimes, instead of pre-cooking the food I will just prepare the ingredients for cooking. For soups or stews, I will cut up the carrots, potatoes, celery, onions etc. and put them in a freezer bag and freeze them. You can even cook the meat and freeze it after it has cooled. On the day that I want that particular meal, I just put all of the ingredients in the crock-pot and let them cook on low all day. When I am ready to eat dinner that night, my meal is ready with without having to put forth a lot of effort.

By cooking my meals ahead of time I have solved my dinnertime troubles. Now dinner is on the table no later than 6:30 and my family is much happier.

Making Food With Your Coffee Maker

So most of us love coffee as a drink, and more often that not a means to stay awake during the day, but how often do we think to use coffee as an ingredient in the food we eat? You could be using that coffee maker to prepare your main course and not just at the end of the meal.

Immediately you will think of desserts or chocolate, which are the most common uses of coffee in food, and we will discuss these in more detail, but you shouldn’t limit your imagination to sweet product. Coffee can also give a real kick to barbeque glazes, marinades, chili and even some casseroles.

Before you start throwing instant granules into all your dishes, bear in mind that fresh coffee produces the best flavor. You want to use freshly ground beans, preferably ground yourself if you have the equipment. If you need to brew the coffee, make it with clean filtered water and don’t make it until you actually need it. Generally coffee to be used in food should be at least twice as strong as drinking coffee depending on your tastes.

One popular savory sauce to make use of coffee is meatloaf sauce, which is best served with Australian meatloaf. You need to mix a tablespoon of coffee with a small amount of water, some tomato ketchup, Worcester sauce and a little dry red wine. Vinegar, a squeeze of lemon, dark brown sugar and some vinegar are the rest of the ingredients to add to the zesty concoction.

You should cook the meat at three hundred and seventy five degrees Fahrenheit for thirty or so minutes, before adding the sauce and continuing cooking for an additional forty five minutes.

A popular use of coffee in sweet food is espresso brownies, which will make any social occasion a success. Mix together sugar, a pinch of salt, and some butter over a low heat. Add some vanilla to taste and broken up chocolate, preferably sweet milk chocolate to contrast with the bitter coffee. Add some finely ground dark roast coffee, such as an Italian or French roast.

Mix all the ingredients together and then allow slight cooling. Fold eggs and flour into the mixture whilst still a little warm. The resulting combination should be baked in a moderate oven for thirty minutes and allowed to become cold before sampling.

There are so many possibilities when using coffee in your food, cakes, gateaux, cookies and ice creams all taste fantastic with a coffee flavoring. Even a simple sponge can be livened up with coffee icing or coffee cream filling.

The popular Italian dessert tiramisu is becoming a global favorite with its rich combination of espresso, marsala, sponge and mascarpone cheese.

A number of cocktails are now incorporating coffee. As well as the well known Kahula, various coffee liqueurs such as Tia Maria make versatile cocktail ingredients.

A final possibility is coffee syrup, a perfect topping to almost any desert or ice cream. You just combine sugar with good quality double strength brewed coffee and boil to dissolve the sugar. Simmer over a lower heat until the mixture thickens and then allow to become cool.

So get a little creative with your coffee machines and see what innovative dishes you can come up with using coffee as the special ingredient.

How To Use Salt

Salt is a great flavor enhancer and vitally necessary to our bodies if not taken in excess and I do recommend cooking with less salt than you think will be needed. One can add more to one’s plate if wished.

The French generally cook vegetables, soups and pastas in salty water. Cooking it this way helps the flavor of the salt to penetrate the food and greatly improves the taste(but be careful not to add too much). Adding salt to the water in which one is boiling food, raises the cooking temperature and will also give the vegetables much more intense color.

I really recommend cooking with unrefined (gray) salt as it includes other minerals that are also needed by the body. Salt comes in two basic “sizes”, fine and coarse. Coarse salt is generally used for adding to water when boiling or adding to certain dishes at the end of the cooking process and fine is used for everything else. I really recommend against buying regular “table salt” or “rock salt” but only purchasing sea salt. Taste the difference for yourself and you’ll understand why! Since salt is relatively inexpensive, this luxury is a great investment in terms of improved taste.

I really like to vary the way my dishes are flavored and why I suggest using all the substitutes possible. Examples would be: a raw vegetable salad served with anchovies, freshly ground pepper and olive oil. You could also add a little red wine vinegar or lemon juice to the above dressing. Another example of adding a substitute would be slivers of Parmesan or grated Parmesan over a dish instead of salt. Personally, I like something that is not French at all! This is Thai fish sauce added as a flavoring to a dish. You can buy this in a supermarket or Asian store. This sauce is extremely versatile and can be used in many dishes instead of salt.

When broiling, BBQ-ing or pan frying meat or fish, you can add the salt before or after the cooking. Generally, salt is added before cooking. Personally, I like to cook both ways, depending on what I am doing, where I am and what type of salt I have available to me. If I have a good unrefined salt, for instance, I loved to add the salt (preferably coarse) at the end, sprinkled over a T-bone steak because I like to feel the taste of the salt mixing to the food in my mouth. This is just an example but you can prepare different foods this way, including fish and even vegetables. (A good fish, fried in a skillet and eaten with coarse sea salt and olive oil is a great dish, as long as all the ingredients are fresh and of very high quality!)

Beware of the hidden salt in most prepared foods, like canned goods, sausages, hams etc. and don’t then make the mistake of adding too much salt yourself.

Fantastic Easy Tips For A Healthier You

The modern world demands a successful career and a fast paced tech savvy social life. These demands also place such a burden on people in the area of physical appearance. They must look good.

These aspects can be so crushing that proper health practices suffer as a result. Not everyone can keep up with the blistering pace set by those at the very top. It can be quite brutal; more fall off the wagon than not.

Remove the following from your diet:

1. chips and dips
2. soda and sweet juices
3. fast foods
4. these are deadly combos to your health.

Your body tends to store these items as fat, especially if you are sedentary. The scales tip, and before long you are battling an obesity problem. Exercise should be an extremely important segment. The balance of a sound diet and regular exercise safeguards your body for the future. Simple things like:

1. walking after meals
2. half hour exercise per day
3. gym workout for an hour
4. adopting a five day a week exercise program.

Just these simple exercise tips will serve you well and go a long way to protecting you against obesity. Be careful because when good foods are not readily available we tend to snack on fast foods and unhealthy quick foods.

Keep these items in at home at all times:

1. Water! Keep your favorite water on hand at all times. Remember, do not just have it readily available, drink it! It is always best to drink water at room temperature. Cold water tends to slow and impede the digestive process.

2. Soy Milk. Good for cereals. If you cannot handle this, try the powder form. That works better for me. I mix a pitcher of the powder and it goes great with my cereals and oatmeal. Stay away from cows milk. It is for calves.

3. Have fruit handy. I am a banana person. They fill you quicker than a bag of chips will.
4. Carrots and Broccoli. Get a vegetarian recipe for dip.
5. How about peanut butter. Spread that on your toast instead of butter.
6. Do you like eggs? Have you ever heard of Egg Beaters? They are an excellent alternative to eggs.
7. Bread. I am talking about the wholesome wheat bread. Never allow white bread to cross your lips.
8. Cheese. Make your own vegetarian cheese; it is great, tastes better too!
9. Brown rice. Great for a quick meal. Never white rice.
10. I did mention cereals earlier. Read the labels, watch for the sugar content.

Best Leftover Pizza Tips

Make left over pizza taste as good as if it just came out of the oven at your favorite pizza place. After eating your pizza you will need to refrigerate any leftovers.

When ready to eat leftover pizza take out of the refrigerator and place in a skillet that has a lid. Depending on how many pieces you have left will depend on the size of skillet you will need. Either use a Teflon skillet or spray it with non-stick cooking spray.

Place skillet on stove top and turn burner on to medium-low heat or to number 4 and cover. Let cook covered for fifteen to twenty minutes if it’s the deep dish and if it’s the regular crust about ten to fifteen minutes should do it and last but not least the thin crust about seven minutes. Be sure and check it after about ten minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn since all pizzas aren’t equal; depending on if you have it loaded up and where you bought it or maybe you made it. Once it’s done serve warm and enjoy.

Before I learned to fix my pizza this way I use to heat my leftover pizza up in the oven or worse put it in the microwave and it just wasn’t as good, so I decided to give this way a try and my family and I couldn’t believe how much better it was. Fixing your leftover pizza this way is like having fresh pizza two nights in a row. Of course you don’t have to fix your leftover pizza the next night, but it’s better the sooner you eat it of course.

Tips On Cake Decorating

Cake decorating is a hobby and a delight for all seasons. What better way to keep the family happy than to bake them a sweet tasting cake for that special occasion, or maybe just to show you care.

It is important before you even begin to bake your cake that you decide what you are going to actually decorate it with. You have a variety of options.

Most cakes are commonly topped with icing or frosting of which there are a multitude, including Buttercream Icings, Caramel Icings, Peanut Butter Icings and many, many others. There is also fondant, marzipan and butter cream which are also types of icing. Other icings to consider which aren't so common are those made with a mixture of sugar and cream cheeses. The simplest icing you can make is called Glace and is basically made with water and icing sugar.

The ingredients of your icing consist of sugar, water, butter, egg whites and milk. I would imagine most homes would have a plentiful supply of these ingredients but it's always a good idea to check before you get started.

The finished cake can also be garnered with sprinkles which are little piece of candy and add a nice texture and decoration to your cake.

If you are going to turn your cake decorating into a business or even a common feature of your home life then there are tools you can use to enhance your cake decorating abilities. Two of the most used are piping bags and syringes. These are basic tools that shape the icing as it come from the bag onto the cake. Examples of tips for your piping bag or syringe are drop flower, leaf, basketweave and round.

You should also decide how many layers your cake is going to have. A wedding cake for example usually consists of multiple layers, each getting smaller as the cake reaches the top. We've all seen them! If you are baking a simple cake at home then you are going to keep it to one layer. Birthday cakes are usually a single layer also.

Layered cakes usually have some sort of filling in between each layer like cream, or custard.

Thinking of baking a cake for your kids next birthday party? These cakes should be made considering the points above but the occasion itself obviously has to be taken into consideration when choosing your toppings, covering and layering. Birthday cakes are usually made with colored frosting with some novelty toys used to put atop the cake.

Valentine cakes which wouldn't have been considered a few years ago are now becoming popular. In this case one would choose the appropriate color and topping for the occasion with those little added extras that are going to make the cake special.

Whatever the occasion, like any hobby, the more care you put into your cake decorating, the more you will ultimately get back.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Making a Great Dessert that is Not Fattening is Not Easy - Or is It?

For those who love food and wish to indulge in the dessert treat to finish off a perfect meal, too we must watch what we eat. No sense in sending our diets over the edge. It is possible to make a dessert which is not fattening. So, taking this premise we scoured the Internet to find such desserts and we did. Actually we found many tasty treats and quality desserts which were simple to make and non-fattening too.

One of the first great desserts we discovered was Apple Sauce Whip on a website called; Batemania. Apple Sause Whip has under 40 calories per each serving (yes, that is what we said, we were amazed indeed). Even better is that is a synch to make, not very time consuming at all and simple ingredients to boot.

Another great dessert we came across in the hours of scouring the Internet for low-calorie tasty desserts was actually a whole collection of desserts with men in mind on; Askmen.com

True many were way out of the realm of only 40 calories and some over 400, but we are men and well we deserve a little more once in a while. After all we need the calories to reach high places and lift heavy objects and to feed our powerful brains right?


I certainly hope this article is of interest and that is has propelled thought. The goal is simple; to help you in your quest to be the best in 2007. I thank you for reading my many articles on diverse subjects, which interest you.