Monday, November 30, 2009

Pie Tutorial

Hi all, I am joining the crew! My name is Tammie and I have prepared a pie crust tutorial for today. I love making pies, and my husband loves to eat them!!! My mom is a great cook, and she taught me none of it, I didn't want to learn I was going to have my own maid and cook!! Huh, that didn't work out like I planned, but making a pie crust is probably the only thing in the kitchen that I do better than my mother! Maybe that's what motivates me to keep making them!! :-)

I tried to do this step by step, but taking pictures of step by step is not as easy as it sounds. Steps aren't always clear and taking a picture with my left hand while doing something with my right is next to impossible. Do they make camera's for lefties??? I could sure use one, or maybe a tripod and camera remote that I could take pictures with my teeth. What do you invention idea??? Here goes, I hope this makes sense and you don't get bored before your finished!!!!

Here are the ingredients you'll need to make a basic double crust pie or 2 single crusts.
2 cups flour
3/4 cup of shortening (Crisco)
1/2 tsp salt
6 - 7 Tbls. ice water
Pie crust is a very simple recipe with basic ingredients.
Step 1 use a pastry cutter and put the flour, salt and Crisco and cut in. Now I know that I have heard it said that you shouldn't over work pie crust, I have come to discover that for me at least that rule is after the water has been added.

Keep mixing until it looks like this, now if you read in the Betty Crocker cookbook it says to blend until the texture of cornmeal, but if you've never worked with cornmeal you might not know what that looks like and I don't think it looks like cornmeal anyway! Just make sure all the flour is blended into the shortening. It takes about 3 min with the pastry blender.

This is where pie crust becomes tricky and this is my trick. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons of water over your mixture and lightly stir in with a fork. Don't press just sort of toss, as you toss, the water adheres to the mixture and sticks together.

Add 1 Tablespoon at a time at this point and keep tossing with your fork, depending on the moisture in the air depends on whether or not I add a 7th and sometimes if its a humid day (not usual in Idaho) I've only added 5 but that is very rare. At 6 if there is no loose flour left or if there is very little take your hand and squeeze it all together into a large ball.

Do not knead!!! Just squeeze into a ball.
Split the ball into 2 equal halves.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until you need to use it. If its in the fridge longer than 1/2 hour then it might need to sit for a few minutes to become slightly pliable before rolling out.

I would like to make a small disclaimer. I have read many, many different ways to do pie crusts, and I have tried most of them. Most recipes tell you to work with very cold ingredients I have never noticed a difference between cold shortening and room temperature except cold is harder to cut into the flour. Before rolling, I like my dough slightly chilled, because then it doesn't stick to the wax paper when rolling out, but not too cold because then it seems crumbly when I try to roll it out. (10 min chill is plenty) I have noticed that the pie crust doesn't shrink as bad if the pie sits for at least an hour before baking and is chilled before baking.

Put your crust between two pieces of wax paper and roll out. As you roll peel the paper off the dough on top press lightly back on and flip to the other side and then re roll and repeat, until its the right size. Just before you lay your crust on the pan, make sure that both sides of the wax paper have been loosened (or peeled and lightly pressed to the wax paper) or it could possibly tear your crust when you try to take it off on the pie tin, take the top paper off and lift the bottom paper turning crust over onto the pie tin.

If using this recipe for a fresh fruit pie, cream pie or cheesecake type filling you will need to pre-bake the crust. Roll out the crust slightly larger than the pie tin, center and lay over the top.

Take excess and tuck underneath edge to give you enough dough to crimp/flute.

tucking the extra underneath
fluting the edge
The first pie is ready to be filled for a two crust pie and have the top added, the second is ready to be baked and then filled for a single crust.

Bake at 400 for 20-25 min, let cool and add your filling and serve. I will post a couple of pie recipes next to give you a few options.

Superhero Cape Towels

Instead of PJ's this year, my boys are getting these capes inspired by Martha in this article. Of course, I had to SIMPLIFY, to make it work for me and here are my changes:

My tools and materials:

Bath Towel


Superhero Cape Template (from the link above)


Paper-backed fusible web

Straight Pins

Sewing Scissors

Matching Thread

Ironable Velcro (much easier than sewing on velcro)

I pretty much followed her directions, except I just appliqued the shield and the lightning bolt using the fusible web and a zig-zag stich.

I did not do a button and button hole like she did. I just followed the directions from the velcro to iron on a closure for the front to go around their necks. Measure around your neck (or your childs if it's not a surprise), and then iron one on the front of the towel, and the opposite piece on the back of the towel.
I've been meaning to make my boys these for a long time now. Check, check, check that off my list.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Is someone bugging you for a wish list?

Then you have to add these to your list! These are Tim Holtz - Non-Stick Micro Serrated Scissors. My sister (who used to work at Archivers , so she is up on all of the latest scrap booking gadgets) brought these to Thanksgiving so we could work on our scrabble tile pendants (pics to come).

I have to tell you that these are seriously the best scissors you will ever use. I will never be satisfied by another pair of scissors again. These are so comfortable and so precise. The directions for the pendants tell you to sand off the edges, but these are so precise I didn't need to do that.

So, let that desperate person who doesn't know what to get you know about these. You will have a very merry Christmas if you do. I promise.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


I have been asked to share how to make here goes. I don't have photos now, but I can add them in the next time that I make tamales.

What You Need
Corn husks
Large container or sink for soaking
Container or plastic bag for keeping the husks in
Tamale dough
Steaming bucket or something you can steam them in

Tamale Dough
6 cups masa harina
5 cups warm water or broth
1 1/2 cups lard or shortening
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chile powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt

In a mixing bowl combine masa and warm water or broth until combined. Let the mixture sit for 20 minutes or so to let the masa soften. Then mix it on low speed until a dough forms.
After Masa is prepared-
Gradually add in the salt, cumin and onion powder.
In a separate bowl, whip lard or shortening until fluffy. Add the lard to the dough a little at a time while mixing until well combined.The mixture should be about the consistency of peanut butter. If not, add more masa, water or broth as necessary. Cover and store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Tamale Fillings

Pork and Chicken
1 pork roast (6-8 pounds) cooked and shredded
1 large chicken (5 pounds) cooked and shredded
1/2 c corn oi
6 Tablespoon chili powder
2 Tablespoon garlic salt
3 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon (or less) black pepper
2 Tablespoon salt.

Beef filling
3 cups shredded beef
8 large roasted chiles- skin, seeds and veins removed and coarsely chopped.
1 white onion- peeled and coarsely chopped.
6 cloves of garlic- peeled and crushed.
1 jalapeno- seeded and diced
3 potatoes- peeled, boiled and chopped into large chunks.
1 cup homemade chile sauce or store bought.

Green Chile
1 cup green chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped
3 cups shredded Jack cheese
1/2 cup green chile sauce
1/2 cup whole corn kernels added to dough

México Del sur
2 cups shredded chicken, seasoned with hoja santa
1 cup fresh, whole corn kernels
1 cup finely diced tomatoes
1/2 cup red chile sauce

2 cups cubed, cooked chicken marinated in citrus flavors
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup cotija cheese, crumbled
2 serrano chiles, finely diced
1/4 cup orange juice

Black Bean and Cheese
2 cups seasoned black beans
1/4 cup liquid from beans (bean broth)
1/2 cup of cilantro
1 cup queso panela shredded
1/2 cup onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 cups cooked shrimp or lobster
1 cup shredded Jack cheese
1/2 cup mariscos sauce- 1/4 cup heavy cream mixed with 1/4 cup mayonnaise, seasoned with 1 teaspoon garlic powder and 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped.

How To Wrap a Tamale

Here's How:
Sort the husks
Go through the corn husks removing any debris. Separate the larger usable pieces from the smaller bits and pieces.

Soak the husks
Place the husks into a large bowl or sink. Cover husks with warm water. Set a heavy item (like a heavy bowl) on top of the husks to keep them submerged.

Prepare the husks
Remove the husks from the water and pat dry. Use only the larger and medium sized husks for the tamales. When looking at the husk, they have a narrow end, a broad end, and 2 long sides.

Adding the dough
Lay a husk on a flat surface. Place 1-2 tablespoons of dough onto the husk. When spreading the dough, leave a space of about 4 inches from the narrow end of the husk and about 2 inches from the other end. Spread the dough to the edge of one of the long sides and 2 inches away from the other long side. Try to keep the dough approximately 1/4 to a 1/2 inch thick.

Spread about a tablespoon of filling down the center of the dough.

Locate the long side with a 2 inch space with no masa. Fold that over, slightly overlapping the other side so the edges of the dough meet. Wrap the extra husk around the back. Fold the bottom empty part up.

Set tamales upright in a steamer. You can buy large steamers made just for this purpose. You may have something else you can use to create the same effect. The key is to have a small amount of boiling water on the bottom of the pot and a colander or mesh of some sort to keep the tamales away from the water.
Steam for about 90 minutes

Do not let the water boil up completely. Add hot water to the pot as necessary but keep it away from the tamales. If some of the husks are too small or you have trouble closing them, use extra pieces of husk to wrap around the open areas.

Lazy moms stain fighting magic

I admit it. I don't take care of stains immediately. Especially with babies who guarantee at least one blow-out a day, not matter what size or brand of diaper you have. Those bm's are just destined to head out the back door.
So, I make a pile of stained clothes and take care of them once a week. And my method works. Almost every time.
So, you need: stained clothing
Your secret weapons: Fels Nafta: (This is the cheese-looking bar. We have gotten our at Winco. They are cheap and last for a long time) and Oxi-Clean.Then you set your washer to soak and while the tub is filling , scrub the stains with yours Fels Nafta. Then when the washer is filled, put a couple of scoops of Oxi-Clean. Then you let it sit for a couple of hours. Or a couple of days depending on how you week is going. Then wash and dry as usual. And wa-lah. Good as new.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Personalized letter book

Here is a sample of something me and the kiddos worked on today. I got the idea while visiting with a friend during tumbling class. You simply take pictures of things around your house that start with each letter. Then I'm going to print, laminate, and put rings around the pictures to make a little book. I believe associating his letters with the things he sees around the house will help him remember his letters better.
The older kids had fun thinking of things to photograph, even if we know have a picture of underpants. Darn lost umbrella.

Do you prefer long or short-sleeves?

I used to wear both. The hubs hates anything long-sleeved except an occasional sweatshirt. I used to be able to wear both, but long-sleeves makes me feel slightly claustrophobic sometimes. Especially being a mom-doing dishes, wiping bums, you get the picture.

But the problem comes at night, when I slow down and the house gets cold. I used to put on the hubs sweatshirts, but they felt bulky. Then I saw this tutorial and had to try it. Easy peasy! I must advice to try to find more neutral socks than these if you are going to wear them in public. Little Birdies Secrets pulls it off much better than I do, but I think it will keep me warm at night.

I couldn't find any thigh-highs at Wal-mart, but Target had plenty of cute options.And then baby legs are so popular right now that I had to make some for my daughter. The real ones aren't cheap, but Target had a three-pack of knee highs for $6.99 to make your own. I like how she can still wear some of her adorable skirts in the winter. I just made her some pink and brown polka dot ones that are adorable.

What are you making this week?

Luckily, we still go to parents houses for Thanksgiving and I've never had to prepare the feast by myself. Tomorrow I am going to make Pumpkin Cheesecake (recipe from Joy), Pie Pops (minus the sucker stick part. I never have good luck with those things. They will be more like pie cookies) for the kiddies.

And I can't believe I'm saying this (and neither will the people I'm eating Thanksgiving with), I'm going to try to make a cranberry sauce. Out of real fresh cranberries. The direction is on the bag, and then I will add orange zest to it. I'm not a real traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving. We are all about Stove Top stuffing, no sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce etc. But Rachel Ray inspired me to try a real cranberry sauce. We'll see how that goes.

Every year, the women in my family also do a craft. This year we are trying the Scrabble Tile Pendants, which I saw at the craft fair for $5 each. I think we will be able to make them for less than 25cents each. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Molten Lava Cakes

Tonight as I was preparing our dessert {using a spatula} I knew I needed to post this recipe. After going on a cruise--Molten Lava Cakes are one of our favorite desserts. My oldest son could eat them every night, but I only prefer to cook them occasionally.

The recipe that I found I like the best came from I have revised it slightly.

8 (1 ounce squares) semi-sweet baking chocolates
10 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 425`

Grease silicone cupcake pan. Melt butter and chocolate in the microwave. Mix in flour and sugar. Then add eggs and yolks until smooth. Stir in vanilla. Divide batter into cupcake pan (makes 12). Bake for 12 minutes. The edges should be firm but the center will be runny. The longer you cook them the less runny they are. And what is a Molten Lava cake without the Lava so don't overbake.

Flip the cupcake pan over and squish them so the cake comes out.

The coloring on these next pictures did not turn out great--but the cakes were great!!


Newest Member of our Stocking Family

Last weekend I finished this angel stocking for my baby girl...To join the rest of the stocking family...
I got the Santa and Snowman from Old Navy and liked them so much that I made the elf, reindeer and Mrs. Claus to match. The heads open pez style for filling.

Welcome to this new blog!

I am so glad you made it! A few of my friends and I started this blog as a place to share anything domestic...projects, tutorials, recipes, etc.. We hope you enjoy it and if you use any of our ideas, please just link it back to us.

Enjoy! Julie, Tina, Joy, Jana, and Krista