Friday, March 30, 2012

Pie Crust

It is difficult to find a "healthy" pie crust since butter is a crucial ingredient., however some pie crusts call for a lot more butter (or shortening or lard, which I won't use) than others. 

Store bought pie crusts usually have way too many preservatives in them, and they tend to be expensive when you figure the ingredients it takes to make a pie crust.  Really it shouldn't cost much more than .60 to make 2 pie crusts.  I used to buy pie crusts, but when I really thought about how over-priced they are and realized how easy they are to make, I began looking for the perfect pie crust recipe.  I liked America's Test kitchen's method, but they used too much butter for me, so this is a combination of a few different recipes I've found.

The following recipe is definitely the "healthiest" and best tasting pie crust I have come across.  It also has a little vodka in it (concept taken from America's test kitchen) because this causes a flakier, lighter crust since the vodka helps hold the dough together while rolling it out, but evaporates during cooking time.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon butter, cut into 1" squares and frozen for 10 minutes
1 egg yolk
3 tbs blend of water and vodka in a bowl with an ice cube so it is nice and cold
2 tsp lemon juice

In a food processor combine flour and salt.  Add butter.  Pulse 10 1-second pulses.

Stir egg yolk and add 3 tbs of the water/vodka mix and a tsp of lemon juice (make sure it is nice and cold and do the next step right away).

Add 1/2 of this mixture to the food processor, and pulse 3 times.  Repeat this last step.  Add a little more (1 tsp at a time) lemon juice/vodka/water if the dough is still too dry.  If you can squeeze the dough together and it holds its shape, it has been mixed enough.  Do not over mix.

Dump the dough out on work surface and form 2 round 5- inch "pancakes".  wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.  When you pull it out, flour your surface and the dough liberally and roll into 12-inch round.

I usually only need 1 crust at a time (for my one-crust chicken pot pie), so I roll the second one out to 12-inches, put a piece of wax paper over it and carefully roll it up.  Then I wrap it in plastic wrap and put in the freezer for a quick and easy pie crust next time.

healthier chicken pot pie

I usually love the taste of chicken pot pie, but for the longest time I wouldn't make it because it was such a fattening dinner.  The crust of course is the worst part for you, made up of butter and flour, so I figured, why not eliminate the bottom crust since it usually ends up soggy anyway.  

Sometimes chicken pot pie has heavy cream or butter in it, but instead this one uses low fat cream cheese.  I make this a little different every time, depending on what vegetables I have on hand, but this is the basic recipe.  

One Crust Chicken Pot Pie (adapted from kraft family magazine)

*1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-in pieces and marinate in italian dressing or oil/vinegar     /garlic/salt 20-30 minutes prior to cooking.
*1/2 onion
*4 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese, cubed
* 2 TBS flour
*1/2 cup chicken broth
*1 bunch of broccoli, chopped and 2 carrots peeled and diced
*1 pie crust

1.heat a large pan to medium heat with extra light olive oil.  Add onions and cook for 2 minutes, then add chicken and cook through (about 3 minutes).  Add cream cheese, and stir until melted.  Add flour, mix well.  Add broth and vegetables; cover and simmer 5 minutes.*

2.Pour mixture into deep dish 10-inch pie plate.  Arrange pie crust over filling and flute edges.  Cut four slits in crust to allow steam to escape.  

3.  Bake 30 minutes on 400 or until crust is golden brown.

* I often steam the vegetables separately in the microwave (in my pampered chef veggie steamer) to make this part go a little faster.



This is definitely the best hummus recipe for me!  I found it online a while back, but unfortunately I copied it down and don't remember the website.  Soo yummy!

1 cans garbanzo beans
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoons tahini paste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 to 5 Tablespoons reserved juice from the garbanzo beans
3 heaping tablespoons plain yogurt
½ teaspoon cumin
Salt to taste
cayenne pepper to taste
Mince the garlic. Drain the liquid from the garbanzo beans into a small bowl and keep the liquid handy for later in the process. Add the beans and the garlic into the bowl of your food processor. Process with the metal blade until well combined. Make sure you open the processor at least once to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add in the lemon juice, tahini, yogurt, cumin, and cayenne and continue to process. Add enough of the reserved juice (4 to 5 Tablespoons) to make the hummus smooth and consistency that you like.

Pad Thai with Tofu

This is a family favorite around here, taken from Molly Katzen's cookbook.  The kids can't get enough of it, so to save in cost, I always double the recipe, but don't double the amount of tofu and egg.
Pad Thai
6 oz rice noodles (or ½ box angel hair pasta)
5 tablespoons soy sauce
2 TBS peanut butter
1 TBS brown sugar
cooking oil
3 eggs, beaten
6 scallions chopped (use red onions if you don’t have scallions on hand)
1 lb bean sprouts (optional)
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
Crushed red pepper (to taste)
1 pound firm tofu, cut into small cubes
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 ½ cups chopped toasted peanuts
Wedges of lime

1. Cook noodles, drain and rinse in cold water. Set aside.
2. Combine soy sauce, peanut butter, and brown sugar in a small bowl, and stir until it is a uniform paste.  Set aside.
3. Heat wok or large skillet.  Add a tbs of oil, add eggs, cook and remove.
4.  Heat wok again until hot, add 2 tbs oil, scallions, sprouts, garlic, and red pepper.  Stir-fry for a minute or   so.  Add tofu and stir-fry a few more minutes.
5.  Add the cooked noodles and stir-fry, attempting to combine everything as uniformly as possible, about 5 more minutes.
6.  Add peanut butter/soy sauce mixture, and vinegar .  Stir and cook a few more minutes. 
7.  Stir in the cooked egg.  Top with peanuts and wedges of lime.