Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Homemade Apple Pies

Mum called them non-commercialized, homemade apple pies-- after she bit into one.

Look at that! Two baking experiences in one day. Not bad.

Went to Borders today & picked up a great book, Cooking: A Commonsense Guide. Read up on cooking terms, different cuts of meat, and how to bone a chicken. Smart tips on cooking, especially for a novice, like me. This book is a gem I found in the bargain shelves. I kept reading until I decided I wanted to cook again... tonight!

I bought a package of PILLSBURY Refrigerated Pie Crusts from Walmart a couple of weeks back, and I knew I wanted to use it for something, I just didn't know what for. I took the pie crusts out of the box & followed the recipe listed right under the nutrition facts.


- 1 package PILLSBURY Refrigerated Pie Crusts
- 3 cups of thinly sliced, peeled apples (ripe Fuji Apples were fantastic)
- 1/4 cup SPLENDA Sugar Blend
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp water (or lemon juice, I used water to "lessen" the calories... oh, and because I didn't have a lemon)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (I have no idea why I added this, I suppose you can opt this one out)
- 1/8 tsp salt

The sliced apples went into a large bowl. Right by it, in a smaller bowl, I mixed together the sugar, flour, water, cinnamon, vanilla extract & salt. I threw the mix onto the apples & tossed the apples around, with the "sauce".

Turned the oven on at 425 degrees and laid the pie crust on a sheet of parchment paper. I divided the dough into my desired shapes & came out with three different shapes of apple pie. Take a piece of flattened dough, line it with some apples & sauce, then seal it shut. The photograph shows my attempt to be creative with the dough (or, I simply didn't know how to wrap the apples in dough).

After sitting in the oven for 40 minutes, then 10 minutes of cooling... lovely, edible, warm apple pies.

One great tip I learned from the book I am reading, "Always read the recipe before you start." The golden commonsense rule, they say. It would really suck to find out your dinner centerpiece, for tonight's party, needed to be chilled overnight...

Low-Sugar, Old-fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies

My first baking adventure.

Yesterday, my boyfriend suggested that I bake low-sugar, low-calorie cookies. I have been working on losing just enough weight for two weddings next year: my future sister-in-law's & my girlfriend's, so it wasn't a bad idea. My mum is also a diabetic, and cookies like these would be great!

On my first try, being the sugar-lover I am, the cookies were much too sugary for my taste. So, this morning, I attempted the recipe again, but this time, cutting the sugar amount in half-- it was successful! Listed below is the improved version of this recipe.


- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 stick (cup) CRISCO Baking stick, softened (which is 50% less in saturated fat)
- 1/2 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter (generic brands are much, much cheaper)
- 1/4 cup SPLENDA Sugar Blend
- 1/4 cup SPLENDA  Brown Sugar Blend
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1⅓ cups NESTLE TOLL HOUSE Peanut Butter & Milk Chocolate Morsels

Because I needed a "sugar free" recipe, I used one from the SPLENDA website.

In a small bowl, I mixed together the flour & baking soda. My pastor's wife suggested that, in baking, for every dry ingredient, sifting is key. I don't have a sifter, so I used a fork. I believe the fork became a good friend during this experience.

In a larger bowl, I beat together (with my friendly fork) the baking stick, peanut butter, SPLENDA sugar blends, vanilla extract, & egg. When it was smooth enough, I threw in the peanut butter, chocolate morsels, then gradually mixing in the flour & baking soda. This is when I turned on the oven to 375 degrees.

After a taste test-- tasting the batter before it goes in the oven-- I was ready to bake. On my reliable baking sheet, which I bought on sale from Sur La Table (honestly, the product companies should be paying me for these blogs), I divided the cookie dough into little round balls & lined the sheet with about 12-15 balls.

The baking sheet went into the oven and, after a good 8-10 minutes, the cookies were done!

The cookies weren't soft, but they were tasty, nonetheless. I don't think I have tried low-sugar, low-calorie cookies that had the same consistency as the legitimate, hearty cookies. Probably different ingredients call for different results. On my next attempt on these cookies, I will try to experiment with the cooking time.

I'm excited to see the cookie tin emptied by the end of the week. Hehe.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tangy-Lemon Chicken in Creamy Sauce

This was one of those spur-of-the-moment kind of eats.

I went with my brother's fiancée to a bridal exposition yesterday. Naturally, there were photographers laying out their best albums, companies renting out spiffy tuxedos, and... caterers-- presenting samples of their best entrees.

I came across a small platter of lemon chicken with basmati rice & beans. I don't quite remember what the server named it, but I knew it was something I wanted to have a full plate of-- or something close to it. Right after the expo, I went straight to our fair-sized refrigerator & scoured for lemons.

I found one.


For the batter...
- 1 thick, skinless chicken breast (I realized that the chicken is easier to cook, much more tender, and can make two servings, if it is filleted in two to three pieces)
- 1/4 cup of flour
- 1/4 cup of lemon juice (about half a lemon)
- 1/4 tsp garlic salt
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning (just bought a 50-cent bottle from Walmart)

For the sauce...
- 1/4 can of cream of mushroom
- 1/8 cup of lemon juice (use the other half of the lemon)
- 3/4 cup of chicken broth

I created the batter in a mixing bowl, using the ingredients listed above, and entirely covered the slices of chicken with it.

Funny story... I had this recipe in my Recipe Box in (yes, I am a fan). I took it out and followed its instructions. Originally, the lemon juice does not belong in the batter at all. In fact, the herbs & paprika were supposed to, simply, powder the chicken. However, I accidentally threw in the lemon juice right after I read: [For the sauce...] "In a mixing bowl, mix together cream of mushroom, chicken broth, & lemon juice." Doh!

I wasn't planning on throwing away this batter, especially since that was the only lemon I had in the fridge. I continued. What was supposed to powder the chicken, now enveloped the chicken in batter.

I threw olive oil & about 1/2 a tsp of minced garlic onto a skillet and let it saute. I ended up frying the chicken with this red-orange, pastel-like batter. We all know how to fry things on a skillet, I hope.

When the chicken was thoroughly cooked, I put the heat under the skillet in low and put together my creamy sauce with the other half of the lemon. I poured it over the chicken & let it settle for a bit.

I cut into the chicken. Mind you, I wasn't hungry, but I wanted to taste this entree. I loved it!
Served over rice, the breading on the chicken was tangy & tasty from the lemon and herbs. The sauce was very creamy & delicious.

A party in my mouth.

My Mum did eat some and my boyfriend did, as well. They said they enjoyed it.
Or, they just praised my efforts so I wouldn't stop making meals for them in the future. Hehe.

Let curiosity sink in. Try it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Chicken Cordon Bleu and Rice with Dill

Let me caution you, that I picked up my style of cooking from Mum. She cooks to taste.
A little less on the measuring, more on the tasting. Hence, I might miss a few advises on ingredient measurement or cooking time. Do remind me.

All right...

Today, for lunch, I made an attempt to make the "Blue Ribbon" along with my boyfriend's family rice recipe.

I'm not quite sure if you're all familiar with I thought about subscribing to food magazines, but found this website much more enjoyable to follow because the recipes are posted by wives, or soon-to-become wives, cooking for their husbands or soon-to-become husbands. In other words, the meals are quick & easy to prepare. If you are familiar with it, that is where I got the recipe for this entree... with a few variations.


- skinless chicken breast
- slices of Swiss cheese
- slices of ham (Christmas ham, if you have leftovers)
- hickory-smoked pepper (regular ground pepper works, too, but I found that the chicken is tastier this way)
- hickory-smoked salt (same goes for the salt, any salt, preferably Himalayan pink salt... hehe)
- 1 cup of Italian bread crumbs

Since I planned on preparing a small meal for myself, I used one chicken breast and filleted (like slicing parallel to a fish's spine) it into four slices.

After turning the oven on at 355 degrees, I sprinkled hickory-smoked pepper & salt on both sides of each chicken slice.
A slice of Swiss cheese on top of it, then a slice of Christmas ham.
I rolled the whole concoction together and stuck a toothpick in the middle to keep it neatly rolled up.

The baking sheet was lightly covered with olive oil and I arranged each Blue Ribbon on the pan.
It sat in the oven for 25-30 minutes.


- a cup of rice
- a tbsp of Smart Balance butter
- 1/2 tsp of olive oil
- a cup of water
- dill (I get mine at Mother's Market, across the street)

I threw all the ingredients into a sauce pan & let it boil.
Once it reached its boiling point, I put it in medium heat & stirred the rice a little bit, once in a while.
After about 20 minutes, the rice is done. Almost all of us know how to cook rice.
Threw an even amount of dill into the rice & my stomach started growling.

I think the butter & dill carried the taste for this one.

Mum told me that once the time comes when I need to feed my children, I will learn to cook well.
I don't have any children to feed, at the moment, nor am I married, but I do enjoy cooking very much-- especially when there are people willing to eat what I prepared.