Sunday, October 7, 2012

Peach Pie Crisp

Hello loyal readers! Just Michelle again with another baking post. I decided to try something new and combine a peach pie with a peach crumble. It worked out alright, but there are a few things I would change next time. I'll get to that in a bit. 

Here's what you need:
6 fresh peaches
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp Maple syrup
1 tsp ground cinnamon, divided
1 pre-made pie crust

Crisp Topping:
1/4 light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 stick of cold butter, cubed

Here's what you do:
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Get your crust started by placing it into the pie plate and dotting the bottom of the crust with a fork. This will help the air escape and prevent bubbling.

For a normal pie, you should continue cooking your crust by covering with foil and adding pie weights or beans to cook it through. Since we're doing a two-step cooking process for the crumble, we skipped this step. Our crust will get plenty of oven time. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Drop the heat in the oven to 350 degrees.

I decided I wanted to try leaving the skins of the peaches on for this pie and see how it turned out. I won't do that again. They were fine for the first serving, but on day two, the skins really stuck out and weren't enjoyable. Basically I'm saying peel your peaches. You'll be happier.

Now that I have that said, peel, slice and pit your peaches. 

Add the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and maple syrup. Stir to combine. Set this aside for a few minutes and get started on your crisp topping.

In another bowl, combine the brown sugar, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. 

Cube the butter and add to the bowl. Combine with either a pastry cutter, fork or hand mixer until the mixture looks crumbly. I forgot to capture this with my camera. If you want to see the basics on making a crisp topping, check out my Apple Crisp.

Now, we get to build our dessert.

Pour your peach filling into the pie crust.

Sprinkle the crumble topping over the peaches. I say sprinkle, but you don't want to really be able to see the peaches any more.

Cover with foil and place in the oven for 15 minutes. I like to put the pie on a foil lined baking sheet in case of any bubbling over. Hasn't happened to me yet, but better safe than sorry!

Remove the foil and continue baking for 20-30 more minutes, or until your crisp topping is a lovely golden brown.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Balsamic Chicken Tenders with Tomato Couscous

Zack conceptualized this dish completely. Couscous is a pasta, but cooks like a rice. We've made it with chicken stock before, but this was our first experiment with tomatoes. If you haven't noticed, we like to try new things in the kitchen. This one was a winner, and perfect for a weeknight meal.

Here's what you need:

1 lb chicken tenders (You can use chicken breast, just cut them in half)
1/2 cup Balsamic vinaigrette
1 cup couscous
1 15 oz. can low sodium diced tomatoes in juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
Pinch of red pepper flake
salt and pepper to taste

Here's what you do:

Throw your chicken in a freezer bag and pour in the vinaigrette. Place in the fridge for an hour or so to marinade.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add a little bit of olive oil. You don't need much, because the marinade will prevent sticking as well.

At this point, you just want to brown the tenders, not cook them all the way through. Add them to the pan in shifts so that they aren't crowded and have room to sear.

While you're chicken is browning, strain a can of diced tomatoes, reserving the juice in a measuring cup. Set the tomatoes aside in a bowl for later use. You want a cup of liquid for the couscous, so top off the tomato juice with water until you reach one cup.

Add the juice, two tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of red pepper flake to a medium sauce pan.

Start the mixture coming to a boil when you're about done with your chicken tenders.

Once all of the tenders are browned, throw them all back in the pan and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

Now that your tomato juice is boiling, add one cup of couscous.

Cover and remove from the heat.

After about 10 minutes, your couscous should have soaked up the juice and cooked through. Fluff with a fork to make sure all of the liquid has absorbed.

Finally, stir in the tomatoes that you strained earlier.

Sprinkle a little grated Parmesan over the top, stir it up again, and call it a day.

And by now, your chicken should be finished.

Definitely easy enough for a Tuesday, right?


Monday, October 1, 2012

Silicon Spatulas

Between the two of us, we go through a lot of spatulas in the kitchen. We use them constantly. We use them to make eggs, to make any form of batter, to scrape our creations out of the blender. You name it, and we probably use a spatula for it. 

We prefer the silicon spatula. We don't like the ones with the wooden handles, because they can be difficult to clean properly and every once in a while, the scraper will pop off of the wood, rendering the spatula pretty much useless.

We have a couple of KitchenAid spatulas, but our favorite brand has become Zyliss. You can peruse their full line of spatulas here. They have all sorts of fun shapes that are ideal for different uses.

This long skinny one is great for spreading icing or removing purees from the blender. If you're going to be spreading icing inside a pan as opposed on a cake stand, we'd recommend an offset spatula (but that's another blog all together).

This double sided spatula is probably the most used. There are two different sized ends depending on what you need to do. Can't you just imagine the scraping possibilities with this?

This spatula is primarily used for baking. Though, it does come in handy for scrambled eggs from time to time.

Zack likes to use this one for his eggs. The flat bottom works well for him.

You probably don't need to have quite as many spatulas as we do. One or two sturdy spatulas should suffice. Since we use them for just about everything, we like to have plenty on hand. Saves time washing them!