Sunday, October 18, 2015

Prayers for Patricia

Pretty, isn't she? If you knew her you'd really think she was somethin' special, cause she is! I don't think that just because we're kin, she's got a whole posse of folks who are pretty high on her! Right now she is facing a battle with cancer, and the smile on her face is there because she knows she is being carried into battle by her Lord and Savior... and the prayers of about a zillion friends and family. She's been a warrior once before so she knows what lies ahead. I ask you please to remember Patricia in your prayers, she is facing a pivotal point in her battle. Her words, "Inspire until you expire" ...she will feel the strength of many praying for her.

Love ya Sweetie! 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Chocolate Fried Pies

That's not the way to feel about anything as delicious as Chocolate Fried Pies. In fact, it's an insult to a Southern delicacy that's rarely made these days! I hadn't thought about fried pies in a long time, but Saturday when my BFF Chocolate kept knocking on my front door... I caved and went into the kitchen and made myself (I say myself because my better half knows to keep his mitts off my chocolate cravings!) some homemade chocolate pudding. The recipe is from Hershey and it's simple: 

1/2 Cup Hershey's cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Dark Cocoa)
1 1/8 Cup sugar 
1/3 Cup cornstarch
1 tsp salt
3 Cups milk
3 TBS butter 
1 1/2 tsp good vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan, mix cocoa, sugar, cornstarch and salt, whisk well. Gradually add milk to dry ingredients in saucepan. Whisk til smooth and well blended. Cook over medium heat. Stir constantly. Mixture will come to a boil. Boil 1 minute, remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla. Whisk to blend. Pour into serving dishes, or into cooled baked 9" Pie Crust. Cover with plastic wrap. Cool in refrigerator 4-6 hrs. Or till firm. 

Now I grew up on this stuff and it's as different from the little square boxes of  Jello as day and night. 
It's Pure Comfort, Mama loves you, The World is Round Food. 
It will take you away from politics, or the state of the economy or even a failed relationship. I don't think it can cure cancer though, that would be great wouldn't it?

I ate a few spoonfuls when I was pouring it into serving cups, you know from the the pan. I had to do that, it's wasteful to leave any smidgen~ Then I put the plastic wrap on each serving and put them in the fridge. About 9pm I remembered them, oh daddy! The first bite was Heaven, but you know... it was little RICH! I used to be able to eat chocolate buttercream out of a bowl with a big spoon but age has robbed the glutton clean out of me. I get ACID REFLUX, if I abuse my stomach it's just not worth it. So I ate a few bites and put it back in the fridge : (

The next morning after a few cups of coffee, my brain started working again and I knew just what to do with that decadent chocolate pudding/pie filling! Chocolate Fried Pies... just like Mama used to make and Grandma and probably her Grandma.

It's easy as 1-2-3 to stir up the crust, no waiting for it to chill. You just measure out 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup Crisco and 1/2 cup milk. Cut in the Crisco into your flour and salt with a fork or your fingers, just work it into a flaky consistency. Then add the milk and stir gently to moisten. If it's just a little dry and won't pull together, add a teaspoon more milk. Pat into a disk and then divide up into about 10 balls. 

Flour your surface and roll out the balls to make little 5 inch circles, not perfect circles unless you want them to look like store bought Hostess Fried Pies and that's not what you are making. You're making Grandma's Fried Pies and she'd be mortified if you cut them out to make them perfect!

Add a dollop, a rounded tablespoon or two to each little pie. 

Then dip your finger in a bowl of water and run it around the edge of the crust. Fold over and press, crimp the edge with a fork and place on a plate in preparation of the frying of the pies!

Don't they look purty? 

Heat the oil up to medium high, to test you can dip the edge of the crust into the oil a little. If it's just right, it will bubble slightly.

Slip them in, one at a time and watch them like a 2 year old! Don't be trying to clean up the kitchen or put away the flour or answer a text cause this is where you can mess up quick! 

Patience Grasshopper, you are looking for golden brown. Not tan, not brown, golden. 

Drain on paper towels and admire each one as they come out of the pan. Talk to them, tell them 
"I love you!"

Last one, and you are finished!  

Luckily, we had company this weekend and the fried pies went home with them. There's few things more dangerous than a fried pie on the kitchen counter. Especially if it has chocolate filling!

That is all.

Fried Pies

Fruit fillings are delicious too... just boil down some dried fruit with sugar and water and a little spice.
6-7 ounces dried fruit (peaches, apples, apricots or even a mix of all three)
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
1/4 cup butter 
 T lemon juice 
1/2 tsp cinnamon 
2 Cups Flour
1 Tsp salt
1/2 C Crisco
1/2 C of milk 
Place dried fruit in a pot and add water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer until fruit is tender. Add butter, lemon juice and cinnamon, mash together with a potato masher or fork. Set aside to cool while dough is prepared.
In medium bowl, place flour and salt. Stir together. Cut in shortening with a fork or your 10 little fingers! Add in milk and stir until dough sticks together. Divide into ten portions. Roll each portion out on a floured surface into a five inch circle. Place two tablespoons of filling in each. Use your fingertip to wet the edges with water and fold over, crimping with a fork. Cook in oil which has been heated on medium heat, until golden browned on both sides, turning as needed. Remove to paper towel lined plate.

PRINT RECIPE (Chocolate Filling too)

Fried Peach Pies

Grandma Keeling's fried pies were simple, that's not to say that they weren't the most delicious treat that came out of that old kitchen. She was a country cook who used lard and white flour and didn't have to go to the store for everything, they grew most of what they needed. Every morning she put on her apron and made biscuits for Grandpa, he would have thought the world would have come to an end if he didn't have a hot biscuit on his plate alongside his eggs at 7AM! Those biscuits were enjoyed with honey or sorghum or preserves that had been put up over the summer months when their little orchard produced peaches, apples and pears. Grandma also dried the fruits, spreading them out on steel screens that Grandpa fashioned out of old window frames just for this purpose. On special mornings she'd put that little saucepan on the back burner and add some dried peaches in preparation for making her fried pies. As the peaches cooked down the smell of summer filled the kitchen, even if it was the dead of Winter. If you had a Granny who made these for you, I don't have to explain how good they are. If you didn't, you need to make them... just once. Make sure you do it when someone you love is there with you to absorb the goodness♥♥♥

Fried Peach Pies
6-7 ounces dried fruit (peaches, apples, apricots)
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Cups all purpose flour
1 Tsp salt
1/2 C Crisco Grandma used lard
1/2 C of milk
Put the dried fruit in a saucepan and add water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer until the fruit is tender, about 15 minutes. Add the cinnamon, then mash with a fork. Set aside while you make the dough.Place flour and salt in a bowl and stir together. Cut in the shortening with a fork and add the milk and stir until dough sticks together. Divide into about 8-10 balls. Roll each out on a floured surface, in 5-6" circles. Place 2 tablespoons or so of filling in each. You want them full but not enough that it oozes out. Wet the edges and fold over, crimping with a fork. Cook in oil which has been heated on medium heat, until brown on both sides, turning as needed. Remove to paper towel lined plate.

Stand back and wait for compliments!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Street Tacos

One of my favorite places to eat when we are in Texas is Taco Cabana. Once you get to the Dallas area, or anywhere south of Dallas... they are everywhere. It's a chain like Taco Bell, but the food is far superior. The difference? Well, they have real cooks in real kitchens making real Mexican food--by hand. That means they are chopping the cilantro, roasting the peppers, stirring the beans and making the tortillas everyday.

My love affair with Taco Cabana started on a balmy March day in 1996 when we had just moved to South Texas. It was icy in NW Arkansas when the movers came to pack us up, but a pleasant 80 degrees as we enjoyed our meal that night on the patio. Over the next 5 years we ate at nearly all of the famous Mexican restaurants in the San Antonio area. As memorable as they were, Taco Cabana is etched in my heart as a favorite!

They have street tacos on the menu now, and while we were in Texas I had them 3 times... they are THAT GOOD!  Little corn tortilla treats filled with seasoned chicken, brisket or pork and topped with a variety of fresh sauces, they are the perfect lunch, dinner or snack.  

I bought this great magazine at Sam's Club in Dallas while we were there and spent the trip home planning the recipes I'm going to make. Better Homes and Gardens publication Mexican is the real deal, authentic dishes from the many regions of Mexico. Inside the covers are the treasured recipes that are so hard to duplicate on your own. This weekend we tried the Beer Braised Chicken Verde, I took a shortcut and made the recipe with rotisserie chicken. The filling was delish, very much like the ones at Taco Cabana♥♥♥

Beer Braised Chicken Verde
1 tablespoon canola oil or vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano or dried oregano, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 12 ounce bottle Mexican beer (such as Modelo Especial or Pacifico)
1 11 - 12 ounce can tomatillos, drained
2 4 - 4 1/2 ounce can diced green chile peppers
1 1/2 pounds chicken breast tenderloins
1. In a 4-quart Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir for 3 minutes. Add butter, cumin, coriander, chili powder, oregano, and salt. Cook and stir until butter melts.
2. Add beer, tomatillos, and chile peppers. Bring to boiling. Add chicken. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 15 minutes or until chicken is tender and no longer pink, stirring every 5 minutes to break up the tomatillos. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken from the cooking liquid to a cutting board. Gently boil the cooking liquid, uncovered, about 10 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, using two forks, pull chicken apart into shreds.
3. Place chicken in a medium bowl. Add 1 cup of the reduced cooking juices; stir to moisten. Use chicken mixture as filling for quesadillas or tacos; pass the remaining cooking juices.

Tacos el Pastor
1 medium peeled and cored fresh pineapple
8 dried pasilla and/or guajillo chile peppers
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoonsalt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 pounds boneless pork loin, cut into 1/2-inch slices
16 6 inch corn tortillas
1 cup chopped onion (1 large)
Snipped fresh cilantro
Lime wedges
Bottled hot pepper sauce
1.Cut pineapple into 1/2-inch-thick slices, reserving juice; cover and refrigerate pineapple and reserved juice separately.
2. Remove stems and seeds from chile peppers. Place peppers in a medium bowl and add enough boiling water to cover. Allow peppers to stand about 30 minutes or until soft; drain, discarding water.
3. In a food processor or blender combine chile peppers, any juice from the pineapple, the orange juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, cumin, and cloves. Cover and process or blend until nearly smooth.
4. In a 3-quart baking dish arrange pork slices in a single layer, overlapping slices as necessary. Pour chile pepper mixture over pork slices, spreading evenly. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 4 to 24 hours. Remove pork from marinade, discarding marinade. Stack tortillas and wrap in foil.
5. For a charcoal grill, place tortilla packet on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals. Place pork slices and pineapple slices on the grill rack alongside the foil packet directly over medium coals. Grill pork and pineapple slices for 6 to 7 minutes or until pork slices are slightly pink in the center and juices run clear (160 degrees F), turning once. Grill tortilla packet for 10 minutes, turning once. (For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Grill tortilla packet, pork slices, and pineapple as directed above.)
6. Coarsely chop pork and pineapple and combine in a large bowl. Fill warm tortillas with pork and pineapple mixture. Sprinkle each taco with chopped onion and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges and, if desired, hot pepper sauce.
Print Recipe

Roasted Tomato Salsa ~Yes, this IS that great restaurant salsa recipe!
2 1/2 pounds roma tomatoes (about 15)
3 fresh jalapeno peppers
1 medium head garlic
1 teaspoon salt
2 medium white onions, finely chopped
2/3cup lightly packed cilantro leaves, snipped (1/4 cup)
4 teaspoons cider vinegar
Tortilla chips
1. Core the tomatoes. Place in one side of a 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Halve the jalapeno peppers. Remove stems and seeds. Place, cut side down, in the other side of baking pan with tomatoes. Peel away outer skin from garlic. Cut off the pointed top portion with a knife, leaving the bulb intact but exposing the individual cloves. Add to pan. Roast, uncovered, in a 450 degree F oven for 25 minutes or until tomatoes are soft and pepper skins are charred. Cool.
2. Remove tomato skins. Press to remove garlic paste from individual cloves of garlic. Place garlic, jalapeno peppers, and salt in a food processor bowl or blender container. Cover and process or blend with a few pulses until finely chopped. Add half of the tomatoes; cover and process or blend with a few pulses until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add remaining tomatoes to food processor bowl or blender container; cover and process or blend with a few pulses until coarsely chopped. Stir into tomato mixture in bowl.
3. Stir onions, cilantro, and vinegar into tomato mixture until combined. Cover and chill several hours to blend flavors. Serve with tortilla chips. Makes about 4 cups.
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