Saturday, July 2, 2011

Cutie Pies

How cute are these little pies in mason jars?  I have seen these little pies everywhere and I had to try it.  I love the little lattice tops, so cute!!  These are blueberry pies, I made them to give to a friend.  I will freeze them so she can enjoy them whenever she has the inclination.   You can bake them straight from the freezer or thaw overnight in the fridge.   What a wonderful to have pie without committing to the whole thing at once!  I made these in the 1/2 pint wide mouth jars, but I had a little filling leftover and made a 1/2 c regular mouth jar pie too, its really little and cute!!  But what a great way to portion control, no cheating, no going back for one more sliver, no cutting a huge slice and telling yourself its a normal portion size!!
There is nothing special about these, use your usual crust recipe, you don't even have to roll out the inside of the jar part of the dough, it works better if you just press chunks of it all over the sides and bottom.  Roll out the top and make a lattice, or using the jar ring as your guide, cut out a solid top, and use a mini cookie cutter to make a vent hole.  The first lattice I made, I wove it right on the jar.  The second lattice I wove on the flat lid, then slipped it onto the jar, much much easier that way.  Use your favorite fruit filling recipe, and you could also do the streusal crumb topping if you would like, these truly can be as personal as you want!   How sweet would these be for a picnic or brunch, you could even make them into quiches!  Now that would be the perfect brunch picnic!

Friday, July 1, 2011

I'm Freezing!!!

Since acquiring a deep freeze and a toaster oven, I've fallen in love with stockpiling a variety of small quick treats to warm, bake or toast up in my cute new toaster oven.
So I did a test run on homemade hotpockets, biscuits, mini lasagne, cinnamon rolls and petite apple pies.   I took the opportunity every time my husband opened his mouth, to stuff it full of one of these treats.  He approved! 

For the hotpockets and cinnamon rolls, I decided to use my wheat bread dough recipe.  Its just sweet enough for the cinnamon rolls, but not so sweet that it would be distracting in the hotpockets.  I doubled my recipe  and was able to get 3 pans of cinnamon rolls (5-6 each pan), and 8 hotpockets.  For the hotpocket filling, I just decided to go with what I know he likes, I sliced up polish sausage and added cheddar cheese and a slice of american cheese.  I know I know, terrible nutrition  but I did use a reduced fat cheddar cheese.  I also made a ham, brocolli and cheese batch, at least it has a green veggie in it!  The hotpockets were baked at 350 until browned, about 30 minutes, cooled completely before freezing.  These heated up fantastic in the toaster oven.

Hot Pockets -
Dough ingredients: (for one batch/loaf, just double it for two)
1 1/2 cups white wheat flour
1 1/4 cup white flour
1 c warm water
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp oil
3 tbsp dough enhancer (optional)
2 tsp instant yeast

With the warm water already in your mixing bowl, add the salt, oil, honey and dough enhancer, mix well.  Sprinkle yeast on top of mixture, saturating yeast well, let bubble and foam, then add flour and mix until forms a ball.  Knead with dough hook 8 minutes, or knead by hand for about 15 minutes.
Let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, punch down and roll out to approx. 19  x 13 rectangle (cause thats how big my dough board is) and cut into 8 squares.  Place your fillings in the center of each square, I may have used a generous 1/3 cup of filling per pocket.  Fold the corners of the square to the center, then start mushing the folds together to enclose the filling completely.  Then gently start elongating the package into the approximate shape of a commercial hot pocket.  Put seam side down on a greased baking sheet, repeat for rest of dough.  Bake for about 30 minutes, until nicely browned.  Cool completely, package in freezer bags, I was able to get two per quart size bag.  Don't forget to label the bag of the pocket's filling.  I have not tried to reheat these from frozen, but in the thawed state, 15 minutes at 400 in the toaster oven did just fine.  Watch the last 5 minutes to keep from getting two brown.

Merry Cinnamon Rolls
Use the above dough recipe
Filling ingredients:
1 stick butter, softened
1 c sugar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 cardamon

Mix above filling ingredients together.

After dough has risen in a warm place for one hour, punch down and roll out to approx 19 x 13 rectangle, and spread butter on rectangle, and sprinkle combined filling ingredients evenly over buttered dough.  Starting on the long end, roll as compactly as you can, enclosing filling.  Cut into even rounds, and place them in greased pans, you decide how big or how many to fit into your pans.  Let rise until double, then bake 350 for about 30 minutes, check on them in the last 5 minutes.  Or let rise then freeze.  Thaw overnight in fridge then bake 350 for 30 minutes approximately.

For the icing, I just mixed together powdered sugar, butter, vanilla and enough milk to make it loose and spreadable.  Some people ice their rolls hot, some wait until they cool.  Personally, I believe you should do both.  Put a nice coating on while hot, let it melt into the rolls, then when they cool, give them another coat.  But thats just me.  My husband would like them iced twice with a bowl of additional icing to dip each bite into.  I also think these would taste good with a maple icing, just switch out the vanilla for maple flavoring.  I suppose you could make the icing ahead of time and tape it to the frozen rolls, thawing both out at the same
time, that would be the best time saver.

Mini Apple Pies
The apple pies were pretty easy to do also, I made a batch and a half of pie dough.  I just estimated the half part, I didn't get scientific about it.  I had a dozen shallow 4 inch tart pans, and just lined them with pie dough and used my standard recipe for apple pie filling, chopping the apples into a small dice.  For the top of the pie, I used a cookie cutter and cut out the top,  and used a smaller cutter to cut a hole in the middle.  I did not overfill these, as I didn't want a mess in my toaster oven when I baked them later. Next time I may do a lattice top, cause those are so cute!   These were frozen unbaked, before topping, I did put a small pat of butter on top of the filling.

Pie Crust
1 stick butter, cold in pieces
3/4 c lard, cold in pieces
1 tsp salt
5 tbsp approx ice cold water

6 apples, mix of granny smith, golden delicious, pink lady etc., peeled, sliced, cored and diced small
1 c sugar
1/2 c honey
1/4 c cornstarch
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp cardamom
pinch salt

 1stick butter,  sliced into 12 pieces

Place flour, salt, butter and lard in food processor.  Process in pulses until the fats are incorporated into the flour.  Add the water 1 tbsp at at time, giving a short pulse after each addition, process until the flour just pulls together and forms a ball.  Divide the dough in half, wrapping each with wax paper or plastic wrap.  Flatten each out into a disk, and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Mix together all the filling ingredients, except the butter.

Roll out one disk of dough, using your tart pan as a guide, cut out a circle of dough and place it in pan.  Do this for each tart pan.  Tidy up the edges of dough in the tart pans, then fill with apple filling mixture, top each with a pat of butter.

Roll out the second disk of dough, incorporate any scraps from first disk.  Using a cookie cutter, cut out the tops for the tarts, in the center of each top, cut out another hole, this will keep the filling from bubbling out.  Place tops on tarts, ontop of butter pat.  Place these on a cookie sheet, and freeze.  After tarts are frozen, I put these in a large freezer container, separating each layer with wax paper.

You can bake these from a frozen state, or thaw in fridge first.  These took about 30 minutes at 400 in a toaster oven.  If thawed, then the bake time will be less.