‘Ding, Dong I’m Sick Again’ or ‘My Go-To’s’

I’m sitting here on the couch, sick again. Again! Or maybe it never left me… It’s like a mutant cold, this thing. Not strong enough to knock me over, but just enough to be really, really annoying. And last night I dropped a can of evaporated milk on my big toe. Sounds pretty innocent, but maybe it was the fact that the can fell from three levels up or that it was full of really thick milk that made it hurt so damn much. But here I am, snotty and puffy-eyed, my foot resting on a tower of pillows, (a true vision of beauty) with not a thing to watch on TV. Why do we have all of these movie channels if there’s nothing to watch when I really, really need there to be? So, instead of being angry at my TV, (which I tried and took me nowhere), I have decided to post some of my go-to baking recipes. These recipes are old pals written on the backs of business cards or coffee-stained post-it notes. They’ve been in my sloppy recipe book for years; some family hand-me-downs, some borrowed ideas that I twisted into my own, but all really, really solid recipes. And now I pass them onto you. I hope you find something in here you can use…
**EASIEST PIE CRUST** (makes 2 crusts. 1 top and 1 bottom)
I am not against buying store-bought pie crusts. In fact, the Pillsbury Ready-Made Pie Crust is an excellent product, but I happen to love making my own and keeping it in the freezer for when I get the craving for a pie. It only takes a minute or two to prepare, and if you have a stand-mixer with the paddle attachment, definitely use that.
In the bowl of the mixer, add 3/4 cups of shortening (the butter flavor is great if you can find it), 1 TB of milk and 1/4 cup of boiling water (I use a small glass measuring cup in the microwave, takes about a minute to boil.) Beat these until light and fluffy on medium speed. Reduce the speed to low and add 2 cups of AP flour and 1/2 TB of salt. Mix until everything is incorporated. Turn dough onto a floured surface and divide in half, shape into disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Store in fridge 4 hours before use, or keep refrigerated for up to 1 week. Can be frozen for months (in freezer safe zip-bags), but thaw in fridge before use.
**SCONES** (makes 8 or 6 really big ones)
These are the best scones I’ve ever eaten. I make them every Christmas morning and whenever we have overnight house guests. They’re truly a family favorite.
In a food processor, add 3 cups of AP flour, 1 cup of sugar, 1 TB of baking powder and a couple good pinches of salt. Pulse to combine. Add 1 1/2 sticks of cold butter, cut into cubes and pulse again until the consistency of wet sand is achieved. Very slowly pour into the spout of the mixer about 1/2 cup of cream or milk, or just enough to form a giant dough ball. Then, by hand, add whatever flavorings you’d like. (My fave is a big handful of dried cranberries and the zest of an orange.) Turn onto a floured surface and knead into a disk shape. Cut into 8 wedges, as if you’re slicing a pie and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sugar and bake at 375* for about 17 minutes, or until they become golden brown on top.
**SIMPLE WHOLE WHEAT PIZZA DOUGH**(makes one med. sized pizza)
Again, I am not ashamed to use store-bought pizza dough. When it’s on sale and I can get it for free, you will often see a tube of Pillsbury Original Pizza Crust in my fridge, but it is really hard to find ready-made whole wheat dough so I usually make my own, and keep in the freezer…
In a small bowl stir together 3/4 cup of lukewarm water (not too hot, not too cool..like good bath water), 1 TB of active dry yeast and 1 tsp of sugar. Set aside and let stand until frothy, about 3-5 mins. Using a stand mixer, with the paddle attachment, mix 3/4 cup of whole wheat flour, 1 1/2 cups AP flour and 1 tsp salt at low speed. Slowly add the frothy yeast mixer and 3 TB of olive oil until it starts to look doughy. Change to the hook attachment and mix at med. speed until it becomes smooth, about 6ish mins. Transfer the dough onto a well-greased, large bowl and oil the top of the dough as well (cooking spray makes this a little easier). Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled, about 45 min-1 hour. Punch down and rise until doubled again. Before use, lightly punch down the dough and shape into desired shape.
My mom made this a lot when I was little. I still get cravings for it. In fact…I’m considering incorporating it into this week’s meal plan just to satisfy this craving.
-Grease an 8in*8in glass baking dish and place in a preheated 350* oven to get hot. Meanwhile, beat 2 eggs and 3 TB of melted butter in a large mixing bowl until blended. Add 3 TB of sugar, 1/2 TB of salt, 2 cups of milk and 1 1/2 TB of plain, white vinegar and beat until well combined. In another bowl, combine 1 cup of flour (you can use whole wheat), 3/4 cup of yellow cornmeal, 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp baking soda, then add to the wet mixture. Mix until smooth. Carefully take the baking dish out of the oven and pour the batter into the dish, then slowly pour 1 cup of cream or half and half into the center of the batter. DO NOT STIR. Carefully return the dish to the oven and bake 1 hour or until the top is lightly brown.
These have become a family favorite dessert. I adore shortbread and it’s so easy to make at home. It’s incredibly tasty on its own but when you combine it with dark chocolate and milky caramel, it’s heavenly.
-In a food processor, add 1 cup of AP flour, 1/3 cup of sugar, 1/4 tsp of salt and 1 stick of cold butter, cut into pieces. Pulse until it looks like wet sand, then press into a greased and floured 9in*9in pan, (baking spray works great for this). Bake at 350* for about 20 mins, or just before it becomes golden brown. Set aside while you make the dulce de leche: Place in a small saucepan 1 can of sweetened condensed milk and heat, while constantly stirring, until it becomes a dark tan color. Pour this onto the baked shortbread and spread evenly. Set aside to cool while you make the chocolate: In the microwave, completely melt half a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and pour evenly over the cooled caramel layer. Allow to cool before cutting into squares and dust with powdered sugar to serve.
Please stay well everyone. And if you are, in fact, well; kindly send that energy to me.

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  • Reply Anonymous January 16, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    I tried the scones recipe at brunch this morning (with fresh blueberries,chopped crystallized ginger, and a bit of nutmeg) and they were delicious! Thanks for posting such a great, easy recipe!

  • Reply Anonymous January 16, 2010 at 10:08 pm

    Did you know that you can make dulce de leche effortlessly in a slow cooker? Just stir together 4 cups of whole milk, 2 cups of sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla, and 1 tsp. baking soda and forget about it in an uncovered slow cooker for about 9 hours [leave setting on High]. The house will smell great. During the last hour, give everything a stir every 20 minutes or so, scraping the crystalized sugar and stirring into the mixture.

  • Reply Everyday Champagne January 16, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    Oh I'm so glad you tried the scone recipe! (secretly my favorite out of the bunch…shhh, don't tell the pie crust) And I did not know about the slow-cooker dulce de leche, that's really good to know. I've always done it the way mis amigos taught me in LA (boiling the sweetened condensed milk until brown). Thanks so much for the idea!

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