Thursday, March 7, 2019

How to Make Food Processor Pie Crust

Today I'm making an asparagus quiche for dinner.  I often hear people debating whether to make or buy their pie dough. Let's get one thing out of the way right off the bat with this post.   You don't have to be an expert to make pie crust.  I know from talking with friends, family, and co-workers year after year, that making pie crust fills more people than not with dread and fear.  The same used to be true with me.

Four Easy Steps to Making Pie Dough with a Food Processor

Making Pie Crust with a Food Processor.
Making Food Processor Pie Dough


Making pie dough is not rocket science.  A simple combination of flour, fat, salt, sugar, and water magically comes together to create the foundation for a delectable filling.  What's so hard about that? Well, it seems that far too many of us overwork our dough.  Too much handling of the dough makes it tough.  Others of us add either too much water or too little water.  Still others of us don't keep our ingredients chilled. Wow, there sure is a lot we can do wrong with so few ingredients!
How to Make Food Processor Pie Dough

Enter the food processor.  Before using the food processor,  I cut the shortening and butter into my flour mixture with a pastry cutter.  Do you have one of these?

A Pastry Cutter
My Trusty Pastry Cutter
I know, the pastry cutter itself is enough reason to run screaming from the kitchen!  Luckily, I discovered the food processor for making pie dough and with it, fear gave way to confidence.  I still have this pastry cutter, but it has been relegated to a box with seldom used kitchen tools in the back of a kitchen cabinet.

Making pie dough with a food processor is a quick and easy four-step process:
  • Step 1:  Mix the dry ingredients with the fat
  • Step 2:  Add the water
  • Step 3:  Chill the dough
  • Step 4:   Roll the dough
Simple, right?  Let's make some pie crust!

A few simple ingredients are used to make pie dough.
Make Pie Dough with Few Simple Ingredients

Food Processor Pie Crust

Printer Friendly Recipe
Makes 2, 9-inch pie crusts

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar (leave out for savory pies like quiche)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, chilled
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
  • Ice water

Directions

Mix (pulse) the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of your food processor.  Cut the cold butter and shortening into small chunks and add them to the flour mixture.

Keep butter and shortening cold.
Keep Your Butter, Shortening, and Water Ice Cold


Pulse about seven or eight times, until the butter and shortening are well distributed and in small pieces.

The butter and shortening will make pieces resembling peas.
The Butter and Flour Combined

Continue to pulse, adding 1/3 cup of the ice water.  The dough will begin to clump together.  If still too dry, add more ice water one teaspoon at a time.  Once the mixture holds together you are done. 

Turn the dough out onto plastic wrap.  Divide the dough into two pieces.  Don't handle the dough too much or you'll be sorry.  Flatten the dough into disks.  Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate them to chill for at least 30 minutes before using.

Disks of Pie Dough
Disks of Pie Dough Wrapped in Plastic Wrap

When ready to roll out your dough, begin by generously flouring your workspace, using at least 1/4 cup of flour.  Unwrap your disk of dough and place it onto the flour.  Turn the dough over being sure both sides of the dough are floured.  Rub flour onto your rolling pin and begin rolling away from you and turning the dough clockwise, after every few rolls of the pin.  Keep rolling until your dough is about an inch larger than your pie plate.

Rolling out the Pie Dough
The Dough is Larger than the Pie Plate

Fold the dough in half and lift it over the pie plate.

How to place the dough into the pie plate.
Placing the Dough into the Pie Plate

Fit the dough into position in the pie plate and crimp the edges.  If making a single crust pie, refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes before filling or prebaking.  If making a double crust pie, roll out the top crust, fill the bottom crust, cover the pie with the top crust and chill for 30 minutes.  Bake according to your recipe directions.

A pie dough ready for baking.
A Single Crust Ready for Baking
If you own a food processor go ahead and use it to make your pie dough.  It helps take the fear away and the debate you have with yourself about whether to buy or make yourself will be over.  No need to buy pie dough again.

Here's my recipe for Asparagus Quiche.

Apple Pie with Food Processor Pie Crust
Apple Pie with Easy Food Processor Pie Crust


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Enjoy!

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Banana Bread Made Two Ways

Banana bread is often underrated and overlooked. I can hear you now.  Ho-hum, you are saying.  Banana bread is just so yesterday.  Yes, everyone has a banana bread recipe, but this is the one we use in my family.  It is the banana bread my mom made for my brothers, my sister and me, and for all her grandchildren. Now that I am a grandmother, this is the banana bread I make for my precious granddaughter.

This is the banana bread that is at the top of the favorite foods list for three generations of our family, so it is definitely not a ho-hum recipe for us. If you haven't made banana bread in a while it is time to make it again. Our family favorite recipe can be baked either plain or with a sweet, crunchy topping.  This is my favorite banana bread made two ways.

Family Friendly Banana Bread



A Slice of Banana Crunch Bread
Banana Bread with Crunch Topping
Banana bread is delicious any time of day.  It is perfect in the morning with your coffee.  When you need a grab-and-go breakfast, a slice of banana bread is a good solution.  I think a slice of banana bread is easier to eat on the run than a muffin.  In my experience, picky little ones will often eat banana bread when nothing else interests them.


Family Friendly Banana Bread
Banana Crunch Bread
Don't forget banana bread as a sweet snack option.  I love a slice of banana bread with a steaming mug of my favorite tea mid-afternoon. Banana bread freezes beautifully.  Just wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and place it in a freezer bag.  There's nothing better than having a loaf of banana bread on hand for when you need it.

Tip:  Freeze ripe bananas by first removing the peel and then wrapping individually in plastic wrap.  Store in a zipper freezer bag to use when making banana bread and smoothies.



The traditional way to make my banana bread is to follow the recipe without making the crunch topping.  That's how I make it most frequently.  When you are in the mood for banana bread with a twist, just add the crunchy topping. Who doesn't like a little bit of sweet crunch to start their day?

Banana Crunch Bread

Printer Friendly Recipe
Makes One Loaf
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 3 small, or 2 large ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 Crunch Topping
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup cold butter, in chunks


Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease a glass or metal loaf pan.  Mix together the flour and salt.  Set aside.  In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.

Mash the bananas with the back of a fork. and add to the egg mixture.  Dissolve the baking soda in the hot water and add to the batter.  Add the flour mixture and the vanilla.  Stir to combine. Your batter will be lumpy.   Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

Optional:  Make the crunch topping.  Place the flour, sugar, and butter in a medium bowl.  Using your hands, toss the ingredients and then squeeze the butter, flour, and sugar together between your fingers until well combined and crumbly.

Banana Crunch Bread Loaf
Banana Crunch Bread Loaf

Bake for 50 minutes to one hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.  Be careful not to over bake.

Let the bread cool in the pan for ten minutes and then turn it out onto a rack to cool completely. You'll want to let your banana bread cool completely for easy slicing.

Kitchen Essentials

Occasionally I liked to add a Kitchen Essentials section to my posts.  I do this for two reasons.  First, I don't believe you should clutter your kitchen with a bunch of silly, single-use tools but the tools you do have should be practical and provide good value. I want to share with you which tools fit that description for me.

Second, including affiliate links to products I think you need, will like and most importantly, use helps to cover the costs of operating this blog.  If you choose to make a purchase using one of those links I will earn a commission for referring you.  The cost to you will be the same as if you didn't use my link.  I think that works in both our favors. Win-win! 

Today's banana bread recipe is wonderful because it doesn't really need any complicated gadgets.  This is a perfect recipe to focus on the basics in your kitchen.  Below you'll find my affiliate links for a beautiful loaf pan made in the USA, a set of stainless measuring spoons that includes a 1/8 teaspoon measure, a set of stainless measuring cups for dry ingredients that includes a 3/4 cup measure, and my favorite set of three glass liquid measuring cups. Each of these is certainly a kitchen essential.

Is it time for you to update your kitchen basics?



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 Enjoy!

Monday, February 18, 2019

Forgotten Pork Chops


Today dawned dark and dreary in my corner of New England.  I woke to a dusting of snow, gray skies, and ongoing drizzle forecast for the remainder of the day. It's days like these when you turn to a one-pan, comfort food dinner like this recipe for Forgotten Pork Chops. This recipe is perfect for a dreary winter weeknight or any day you want an easy, hearty meal.


(This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.  When you purchase through these links I receive a small compensation.) 
Forgotten Pork Chops: A One Pan Dish
Forgotten Pork Chops
Truth be told, this recipe came about on a day when I wasn't really in the mood to spend time in the kitchen.  Much like today, it was dreary.  It was pouring rain and we had just sent the last of our guests home from my son's wedding.

All I wanted to do was sit with my feet up. I needed an easy pork chop recipe!  This recipe is the result and has been a favorite ever since.  The recipe serves two to four, depending on the number of pork chops you use.
Forgotten Pork Chops

This Forgotten Pork Chops recipe couldn't be easier.  Canned cream of mushroom soup is key to the flavor.  No snarky comments, please.  You know you already have some in your pantry just for recipes like this.

This dish is perfect for days like today when you know you want a hearty meal, but don't really feel like cooking.  All of the ingredients are combined together in one baking dish and then baked together in the oven. It's easy as can be!

Serves 2-4 adults

Pork chops, rice, onion, and condensed cream of mushroom soup baked in the oven.
Forgotten Pork Chops Ready for Oven




  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-4 bone-in pork chops, cut 3/4-1" thick
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 can condensed mushroom soup
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • salt and pepper, to taste


Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat on your stove top.

Season the chops with salt and pepper. Brown the pork chops for 3-5 minutes on each side or until you get a nice brown sear. Set aside.

Spoon the mushroom soup into a two-cup glass measuring cup,  Add water to make two cups liquid. Mix the water and soup together.  Add the chopped onion and mix to combine.

Add one cup of rice to the soup mixture and stir to combine. Pour the soup and rice mixture into a 9" square baking dish (13x9" baking dish when baking four pork chops).  Place the chops on top of the rice mixture.

Cover the baking dish very tightly with aluminum foil.  You want to be sure you keep as much steam as possible in the pan as it cooks.

Bake the pork chops and rice for 90 minutes.   Remove the pan from the oven and check to be sure the rice has absorbed the liquid and is ready.

Be careful when you remove the foil. The steam will be hot and can burn you.  Serve with your favorite vegetable side dish for a complete meal.


Try these other pork chops recipes, too.

For one of my favorite pork chop dinners try Pork Chops with Onions and Provolone Cheese.
For a yummy baked pork chop and stuffing main dish try Gloria's Pork Chops.
For a delicious, slow cooker pork chops recipe try Slow Cooker Pork Chops with Seasonal Vegetables.
For a grilled pork chops recipe try Teriyaki Pork Chops with Coconut Rice.

Essential Kitchen Tools


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Enjoy!


Monday, January 7, 2019

Five Workhorse Essentials for Your Kitchen

I've been the queen of my kitchen for a long time.  That means I have accumulated all manner of kitchen equipment, tools, and gadgets.  A couple of years ago we completed a full kitchen renovation and I took that opportunity to eliminate all the excess clutter and anything that was no longer useful.

I've been working hard to maintain discipline in my kitchen.  Nothing comes into the kitchen without thoughtful consideration.  I do not want to get into kitchen clutter again.  Even so, I do buy things once in a while.  I reviewed my Amazon purchases for 2018 and thought it would be fun to share the handful of kitchen items that made the cut into my kitchen cabinets this year.  I consider each of these items essentials. You'll notice there is no air fryer or InstaPot on this list.

My Kitchen Essential Purchases


My Kitchenaid double ovens were not replaced in the kitchen remodel.  Those ovens are teenagers now and I've felt the need to monitor their temperatures.  This inexpensive oven thermometer gives me peace of mind and ensures successful roasting and baking.



In early November I decided I needed to replace my fat separator.  For many years I used an OXO fat separator with a spout the did an okay job.  This new one by Cuisipro is a much better tool.   It's a little pricey but worth it for the no mess, no bother job it does. I've been using it for gravy and making chicken stock.




I always keep cooking thermometers on hand in a drawer.  "One and a spare" is my motto here.  A working cooking thermometer takes the guesswork out of your meal preparation.  This Taylor thermometer was a fantastic daily deal and is still very reasonably priced for a must-have kitchen tool.




Throughout the years I've had a number of favorite pans.  In 2018 I found myself making a lot of one-pan, stove-top dinners that required a broad cooking surface for browning a combination of meats and vegetables.  I went in search of a pan that would do the job for me.  This 14-inch pan from Rachel Ray does the trick.  It's my new favorite pan. You'll love it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner food preparation. If you are buying just one pan this year make it this one.




Finally, this most recent purchase is a combination of function and pleasure.  I bought an Amazon Echo to provide entertainment while I'm cooking.  It allows me to switch quickly and easily between, music, news, and podcasts.  I can set a timer with my voice, check for recipe substitutions quickly, make a quick phone call and even get recipe suggestions, all hands-free. I also like its sleek design.




I only recommend items I use and love.  All of these items were purchased by me from my personal Amazon account.  If you choose to use these links I will receive a small compensation.

Monday, December 31, 2018

My Favorite Homemade Snack Mix

It seems that homemade snack mix has been around since the dawn of time.  You know the snack mix I am talking about.  It's the one made with those little squares of rice, corn, and wheat cereal that you bake in the oven.  It's a delicious and addictive addition to festive gatherings of all kinds.

Delicious and Addictive Homemade Snack Mix


You might be tempted to take the easy way out and buy a pre-packaged mix from the store.  Don't do it.  I beg you.  I've yet to find a premade mix that is worth the money.

The key to a tasty homemade snack mix is in the seasonings and the yummy stir-ins.  First, I like to use more butter than is usually recommended.  Using more butter ensures all the tasty bits get coated with the seasonings.  I also tend to have a heavy hand with the flavorings.  If you have been visiting Just One Donna for a while you know I like flavor in my recipes.  This snack mix is no exception.  I use Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and smoked paprika.

The base of this snack mix is made from three flavors of Chex cereal in equal portions.  Some people don't like wheat flavored cereal but I just don't get that.  I think the wheat cereal has an earthy flavor that adds to the overall yumminess of the mix.  
My Favorite Homemade Chex Mix

Bagel chips and pretzels are traditional and I like them, too.  I'll usually break about half of each into pieces in the mix to keep most of the mix relatively even in size.  The garlic flavored bagel chips are yummy so I buy them whenever I can.

Goldfish are a delightful addition to the snack mix.  I like to use the original flavor because the butter mixture works really well on them.
Homemade Chex Snack Mix
My Homemade Chex Snack Mix

My favorite mix-ins for my snack mix are salted cashews, smoked almonds, and wasabi peas.  Don't add these until after the base mix has baked and cooled.  Yum!

My Favorite Homemade Chex Mix

Serves Many

Homemde Snack Mix Cooling
Homemade Chex Mix
Base Mix
3 cups each of corn, rice, and wheat Chex cereal
2 cups bite-size pretzels
2 cups bagel chips, garlic flavor preferred
2 cups original flavor goldfish crackers

Seasoning Mix
3/4 cup unsalted butter
4 T. Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons seasoned salt
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F.  Combine the base mix in a large bowl.  Melt the seasoning mix ingredients together in your microwave or in a pan on your stove-top.

Stir the seasoning mix into the base mix.  Combine well.

Divide the seasoning mixture between two sheet pans.  Bake the mix in your oven for about one hour.  Stir the mixture every fifteen minutes and rotate the pans to be sure the mixture bakes evenly.

Cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

Enjoy!