Friday, August 27, 2010

Two cooks in the kitchen

I don't know what it is lately.. Hector and I have really been interested in cooking. And trying new things we haven't ever had before. It's a nice change from mac-n-cheese and KFC all the time.

Our first adventure today was... brace yourselves... Apple Pie. I've never before made an apple pie. You know, the kind your Grandmother used to make for dessert on Sunday afternoons? The kind where you would sneak into the kitchen and tear off a piece of the pie dough she just made and stuff it into your mouth before she could swat at you? This is what we attempted today. I. was. nervous. Because I'd heard and read that pie crust is particularly hard to master. Too hard, too flaky, wrong flavor... the list of possible mess-ups is endless. I got the recipe from here, but in this post you'll see my own pictures.

The ingredients:

First I started with the dough while Hector worked on peeling and slicing the apples.
In this bowl: 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp of salt and 2/3 cup + 2 Tbsp of shortening (I used butter-flavored shortening, like the recipe suggested). You cut in the shortening until it's pea-sized. Is that pea-sized? I don't know. But we'll try it. Then add ice water 1 tbsp at a time and mix (NOT stir!) the ingredient with your hands until it is all moistened and forms a ball.

I kept saying.. "Ohhh, I'm nervous.." Hector reassured me that this is our first pie ever and we're allowed to mess up.
Meanwhile, Hector was working his magic on the apples. 1 1/2 lbs of Granny Smith apples, to be exact.

Don't forget to toss the apples with a tbsp of lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.

Separate the dough into two halves, roll out the first to 1/8 inch thickness and place in pie plate. Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 Tbsp flour, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon and 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg... Toss this with the apples.

Pour apples into the pie crust. Chop up two Tbsp of butter and sprinkle the cubes over the apples. Top with second portion of dough (rolled out, of course). Make sure to cut slits to vent the steam or do a cutesy lattice design like we did. Learn how here.

Pop in the oven at 450 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for another 50 minutes. Watch your top crust--don't let it brown too quickly! We went ahead and cut a circle of foil and put it in on top of the crust when we first started baking! I completely forgot to brush with butter and sprinkle sugar on top before we put it in the oven... so, next time! Anyways, here it is!
It was quite delicious! The crust turned out very nice! I was so worried, but.. our first apple pie was a success. :)

Mmmmm... crust was nice and flaky!

Alas... Our second adventure was a little gem called Stuffed Pizza Rolls and the recipe came from the same blog (Our Best Bites) here. I'll just tell you now, these turned out wonderful! So easy.. pretty quick.. and really tasty. The ingredients:

The pepperoni, ham and pineapple are all optional items, you choose whichever pizza toppings your heart desires! Make sure you grab marinara sauce, rather than spaghetti sauce. And you'll see why in a minute, but the mozzarella cheese we found was called pearls and it worked out wonderfully. Then there's garlic powder, dry Italian seasoning, Parmesan cheese, olive oil and refrigerated pizza dough (we chose thin crust).

Cut your dough into 24 squares (I think we got about 30), but honestly, they could stand to be a little bigger.

Pile about a teaspoon of each topping onto the squares. Mine were the pepperoni and mozzarella, Hector chose ham, pineapple and mozzarella. See how those pearls work out so nicely? They're the perfect size and we put two little pearls in each roll. Note: we did not put the marinara on the dough, it's for dipping the rolls into later. Now, carefully pick up each square and wrap the four corners over the goods and pinch it up to seal it. Place the roll, seam side down, into a greased oven dish. We used a metal pie pan.

Brush with olive oil, then sprinkle with garlic powder, Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese. Place in oven at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. Just watch them... they will burn really quickly!

The cheese started seeping out of ours, so we figured.. ehh.. They must be ready. :) And they were!

They break right apart and taste so great! I can't believe how easy they were! We thought they'd be great for kids to help with.. what with the toppings and stuff. Serve the marinara warm and that's it!

My husband certainly liked them! He said the pepperoni ones were better because they had more flavor than the ham did. Live and learn.

Well, we're sufficiently full tonight! Thanks Our Best Bites for giving us these great recipes! Can't wait to try more! Here's to our cooking spree never ending!

Some of you may be interested to know that our little boy is now the size of a mango!

And I don't know where "What to Expect When You're Expecting" gets their mangoes, but ours was only 4 inches long. They said he's about 6.5 inches long and almost 10 ounces, like a mango. I think he's moving around in there, too. I can't say for sure. I feel dumb, because everyone says you always think you're feeling gas bubbles when the baby first starts moving. And that's exactly what if feels like. Little flutters of air moving in my tummy. Very fleeting and never lasting long enough for me to stop what I'm doing to concentrate on another move. I guess I shouldn't stress. He'll probably be keeping me up at night with his kicks soon enough. :) We are 20 weeks along today! Happy Half-way Point!!

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