Sunday, October 16, 2011

Apple-Almond Streusel Pie

     Sweet almond paste sandwiched snugly between layers of flaky crust... Tender apples spiced with warm cinnamon ... Crunchy bits of toasted almond streusel ... So many reasons to love this pie!

     The quintessential fall fruit teams up with almonds here to create a treat worthy of any occasion. It's delicious warm or cold, and I say this with authority having made it twice already in the past week. I first saw this pie in the new Pampered Chef catalog, and it sweetly called my name. Hope it calls yours too!

Apple-Almond Streusel Pie
Recipe from Pampered Chef  featured in Simply Sweet with my changes noted
You'll need:
For the crust:
two pie crusts (enough for a double crust pie) your favorite homemade or refrigerated
1  8oz. can of almond paste (or 7oz. tube)
1 tsp. cornstarch
2 egg whites, divided (One of these is just for moistening the edges of the pie crusts to keep them together, so I used the white of an extra large egg and saved back a teaspoon of it to brush on the crusts.)
For the filling:
3 to 3 1/2 lbs Granny Smith Apples, peeled (8 cups sliced)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice (I used 2 Tablespoons)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I used a bit less than this)
1 teaspoon Cinnamon Spice Blend (Pampered Chef has its own blend. I didn't have any so I used my own spice blend, recipe here.)
2 Tablespoons butter
For the Streusel topping:
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup sliced almonds (I used more than this)

  • Preheat oven to 370F or 190C.
  • Place almond paste, one egg white and cornstarch in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth.
  • Roll each of the pie crusts into a 12 inch circle. Spread almond paste onto one pie crust to within 1/2 inch of edge. Lightly beat the reserved egg white and brush over the edge of the crust not covered by the almond paste.
  • Carefully place the second pie crust on top of the first. Pat together gently and press edges together with fingertips. Using a pastry cutter, trim 1/8 inch edge off of the crust to create a decorative border.
  • Place crust into a deep dish pie pan, pressing dough into bottom and up sides. Prick bottom and sides. Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until edges are light golden brown. (I had to cover the edges to keep them from browning too quickly.) While the crust is baking, prepare the filling.
  • Filling: Pour lemon juice into a large bowl. Peel, core and slice apples into the lemon juice. Add brown sugar and spices; toss to coat.
  • Melt butter in a skillet. Pour apple mixture into the skillet and cook, covered, over medium high heat until apples are tender. (6-8 minutes)
  • Strain cooked apples over a bowl, reserving the liquid. Return the liquid to to the skillet and cook 2-3 minutes on medium-high heat until thickened and amber in color. Toss with apples and pour into crust.
  • Combine flour, sugar and melted butter; stir until crumbly. Add almonds; toss to combine. Sprinkle topping over pie. Bake 20-25 minutes or until topping is light golden brown.
  • Serve warm

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Monday, October 10, 2011

White Chicken Chili

     Who says chili has to be red? Not me. One of my favorite kinds of chili is this white chicken one, which really hits the spot when the weather starts getting cooler. Several years ago I was unable to eat tomatoes in any form, so this chili was  the one I turned to. I can eat tomatoes now but I still love this as a change of pace from the beefy tomato based ones usually associated with the name.  

     This is a heart healthy recipe, especially if you stick to low sodium chicken broth and beans. If you can only find regular beans, rinsing and draining them helps to remove excess sodium. (Another option would be to use dried beans that you've pre-soaked.) A heart healthy topping would be avocado, one of my favorites with any kind of chili. Spice it up with peppers and salsa, and it'll keep you warm from the inside out!

White Chicken Chili
3 chicken breast halves (about 1 1/2 lbs.) cut into small cubes*
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tblsp. olive oil
1 qt. chicken broth (homemade or canned)
2 small cans chopped green chiles (I used some Hatch chiles that I'd roasted and frozen- yum!)
1 bag frozen white corn (or canned)
3 cans white beans, drained**
2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. black pepper
cayenne or white pepper to taste (I love the spiciness that the white pepper gives it.)
For garnish:
shredded pepper-jack cheese
low fat sour cream
fresh cilantro
chopped avocado
salsa or hot sauce, green or red
  • Saute chicken, onions and garlic in olive oil and spices.
  • Add rest of ingredients (except cheese and other garnishes) and simmer on low for about an hour, or until flavors have blended well.
  • Serve with shredded cheese.
  • Top with sour cream, fresh cilantro, salsa or chopped avocado if desired.
*If you prefer, you can use cooked chopped chicken (a rotisserie would be handy) and add it when you add the beans.
**You can use any combination of beans you like. Great Northern are my favorites for this, but I've also used them in combination with Cannelini, Chickpeas, and even black eyed peas. Hominy is good in this also!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Triple Threat Brownies (Or should I say Triple Treat?)

     Disclaimer: These brownies are only sort of homemade. They're homemade in the sense that you make them at home. But they are very easy. You can put them together very quickly. And they are very good. Here's what you'll need:

     Double Stuff Oreos, brownie mix, and refrigerated cookie dough. Yep, that's it. Three things. (If you don't count the extra ingredients that go in the brownie mix, anyway.)

     Here's what you do. First, line a 9x9 baking pan with parchment paper or nonstick foil. Press that refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough evenly over the bottom of the pan. Cover the dough with a layer of Oreos. Mix your brownies according to the directions on the box and pour the batter right over the top of the Oreos. That's it. Bake it at 350 degrees for about 40-45 minutes, or until the brownie layer is done. Cool completely in the pan, then slice and swoon.

     Since I'm trying to practice moderation in all things sweet, I cut them into small bars. But if you want something a little more festive, you could cut them big enough to hold a scoop of vanilla ice cream with some fudge sauce poured over the top. Visit Kevin and Amanda for their wonderfully decadent "even more homemade" version of these. Just be prepared to drool!

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