Pie Crust Pleasers

After making chicken pot pie last week, I had some leftover pie crust.  The thing about tender, flaky pie crust is that you shouldn’t touch it.  Don’t mess with it too much, or it gets tough.  Tough pie crust is not tasty pie crust.  And “not tasty” pie crust is just plain not worth it!

So, instead of messing with your crust and trying to make something out of it (like rolling it out again to make another pie crust, only to be disappointed when your crust doesn’t quite fit… and is now quite tough… wanna ask me how I know?) make Pie Crust Pleasers (I totally made up that name for this post… I don’t think these really have a name)! 

Simply lay your scraps in a pan as you cut them, and generously sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. 

"That MY job, Mommy."

"That MY job, Mommy."

Bake in a 350 oven for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Mmmmm.  I remember fighting over these sharing these with my siblings growing up.  And my sister?  Don’t tell her I told you this, but I think she sometimes makes pie crust just to make these.  Yep.  She cuts the whole recipe into strips for Pie Crust Pleasers.  They are that good.

Be sure to visit Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and Kitchen Tip Tuesday, and check out my church cookbook giveaway!

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Floss Your Rolls

A quick tip for making pretty cinnamon rolls:  don’t slice them, floss them!  Using unflavored waxed dental floss, slide the floss under the rolls.

 

Bring the ends of the floss up, cross and pull.

No more squishy rolls!

Pretty, right?  She sure thought so…

You can find more kitchen tips and recipes at Tammy’s Recipes and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace.

Pizza Braid

Homemade pizza is all the rage these days in menu planning and recipe sites.  We love homemade pizza, too, but sometimes it’s fun to have a pizza switch up.  This pizza braid fits the bill; it’s tasty, easy to prepare, and beautiful!  Serve slices with a salad and you have a lovely, fun meal for company or for family fun night.

Pizza Braid

Dough:

  • 1 pkg. (1 scant T.) yeast
  • 1 c. very warm water
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T. butter
  • 3 c. flour (I use 1/2 white, 1/2 whole wheat)

Filling:  This is what we used on our most recent braid.  Feel free to adjust to your liking!

  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 2 oz. pepperoni, sliced in quarters
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 1/2 chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 can mushrooms, chopped
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese

Dissolve yeast in water; add sugar, salt, egg, butter and 1 1/2 cups flour.  Beat until smooth; add enough remaining flour until dough is stiff enough to knead.  Knead for 10 minutes.  (I never knead that long, and I let my dough hook do most of the work!)  Place in a greased bowl and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.  While dough is rising, brown ground beef in skillet; add pepperoni and veggies, then add seasonings and tomato sauce.  Mix well. Set aside.  Punch down risen dough.  Roll dough into a rectangle on a greased cookie sheet.  Spoon meat filling down the center of the dough.  Top with mozzarella cheese. 

Cut 8 even slits from the filling out to the edge of the dough.  (I use my pizza cutter to do this.  Hint:  for even strips, slice your middle strip first.  Then slice the middle of the halves, then the middle of the quarters.) 

Start at one end and criss cross the dough strips. 

Tuck the last strip under.  Bake for 15 minutes at 400*.

Serve with a side salad or veggie for a fun twist on pizza night!

 For more kitchen tips, visit Tammy’s Recipes, and for more yummy recipes, visit Blessed with Grace.

Stretchy Taco Meat

Mexican-themed meals go over so well at our house that I usually prepare some form of tacos, burritos, enchiladas and the like at least 2 or three times a month.  Until about a year ago, the filling for our tacos was generally just the seasoned meat, lettuce, tomato, cheese, salsa, and sour cream if we had it on hand.  A pound of taco-seasoned ground beef would be enough for one meal plus a couple of taco salads for lunch the next day.

I don’t remember what exactly it was that made me think to stretch my meat… unexpected company, maybe?… but I did it, and we loved it, and I haven’t turned back.  Now our seasoned meat mixture consists of meat (beef, chicken, or pork) mixed with refried beans (homemade) and rice.  The only thing I do other than add the extras, is to also add a little more seasoning and sometimes a little water if it gets too thick.     

We also add a layer of black beans before the veggies. 

The same meat mixture that used to last us one or two meals now needs to be frozen, because we can’t eat it all in one week!

Here’s to frugal, tasty, streeetttcchhyy taco meat!

For more kitchen tips, visit Tammy’s Recipes.

Roast Beef Redos

A friend once commented that she doesn’t like to make roast because “we end up eating it all week and it gets dry and we get sick of it and I have to throw it out.”  Ouch!  I don’t do wasting food, but if I tried to reheat and eat the same roast all week, in the same way, well… I’d get pretty sick of it too. 

A few roast beef tips:

  • We get a variety of roasts with our 1/2 beef order, and I learned a valuable lesson early in my bulk-beef purchasing experience:  don’t buy chuck roast.  It’s the fattiest cut, and it’s tough, and it’s just not very easy to work with.  Any other cut works great for me, but we have our chuck ground into hamburger.  **Update:  this might just be my experience.  Several people have commented that they have good luck with chuck.     
  • My favorite roast beef cooking method is to stick it in the crock pot with some carrots, potatoes, onions, either beef bouillion granules or dry onion soup mix, and some water.  How about that smell in your kitchen all day!  Yum!
  • I prefer to pull my roast apart with forks instead of slicing it.  It’s easier to prepare, easier to eat, and easier to create the “redos” when it’s shredded.

  • If you’re going to eat it again the next day, pour a little of the juice over the meat before refrigerating to keep it moist.
  • Cooked roast freezes beautifully.  Bag it and save it for a busy day!

Our favorite roast beef redos:

Photo from Taste of Home

Photo from Taste of Home

  • Roast Beef Burritos — My all time favorite roast beef meal.  Sometimes I make a roast just so we can have these!  We like to top them with shredded lettuce, cheese, and sour cream.

We’ve also enjoyed these meals with leftover roast:

  • bbq beef sandwiches
  • hot beef sandwiches
  • beef ‘n noodles
  • roast beef salad (like chicken or tuna salad) for sandwiches
  • roast beef salad (shredded on a lettuce salad)
  • beef and bean nachos
  • beef and veggie soup

Does your family enjoy roast beef?  What do you like to do with your leftovers?

Check out more kitchen tips at Tammy’s Recipes.

A Well-Stocked Freezer, Part 3

After sharing with you WHY I like to keep my freezer full and WHAT I like to put in it, today I thought I’d share a couple tips to make your freezer stocking easier.

I am fortunate to have lots of freezer space, including two refrigerator/freezers and one deep freezer, therefore my freezers are never truly full.  The deep freezer can still create organizational issues with its cavernous space, but we’ve found a solution that prevents me from digging through three feet of steak and roasts looking for the last package of hamburger.

Four of these inexpensive crates have saved us!  We organize our beef in them (hamburger in one, roasts and round steak in another, steaks for the grill in the third), and put lightweight extras on top.  The fourth (not shown) is used for other meat I have on hand (chicken, turkey, sausage).  They are easy to lift, and it’s easy to find what I need.

Another way to use the crates (if you don’t keep quite as much beef as we do!) is to purchase multi-colored crates for different items.  Veggies in one, meat in another, maybe fruit or baked goods in another crate.  The options are limitless!

This next tip is my all-time favorite freezer cooking tip, and I must credit my high school home ec. teacher for the advice.  See Mrs. R, I was listening!  Just don’t ask me a thing about what I remember from the sewing project… which I never even completed…

Line your baking dishes with foil (I recommend heavy duty) before you freeze the meal!  No more flimsy aluminum pans (and for those of you frugal enough to reuse them, no more cleaning those nasty ridged corners!), and… you can still have your lovely baking dishes handy for other meals, not hiding away in the freezer!  Yea!  Oh, and this method takes up a little less space for those of you with a freezer space crunch.

I line the pans with foil, making sure to leave enough around the edge to fold over the food.

Then I place a sheet of plastic wrap over the top (mostly so my cheese doesn’t stick to the foil), fold the foil over the top, and freeze the dish.

After it’s frozen, I pop the foil lined food out of the dish and put it in a freezer bag for storage.  I don’t freeze many things in a 9×13 dish because my family would be eating lots of leftovers, and we prefer to just freeze half of the meal to fix another week instead of eating the same thing all week (9×9 pans are perfect for gallon freezer bags).  For those of you with larger families, you could just wrap your frozen food in extra foil before freezing.

When you’re ready to bake, you have two options.

  1. Peel the foil off while it’s still frozen, then place back in your favorite dish. (preferred method if you get points for presentation!)
  2. Stick the frozen foiled food in the dish and bake as is (preferred method for very little clean up!) BUT don’t forget the plastic wrap that might be protecting your cheese!

Do you have any helpful hints for organizing your freezer or freezing lots of food?  I’d love to hear them.

Oh, and the casserole that’s pictured up above?  To die for Cavatini.  Come back tomorrow.  I’ll share the recipe!

Happy freezing, everyone!

Check out more kitchen tips at Tammy’s Recipes.

Too Many Tiny Tomatoes?

I’m interrupting my Fill Your Freezer series (you can see the first two posts here and here) to ask a very important question.  What on earth am I going to do with dozens of these?

And hundreds more of these?  (They’ll be ripe soon!)

My generous neighbor has given me free reign over his prolific garden, which is awesome for me… but he has so many cherry tomatoes.  (I’m just guessing on the cherry tomato thing.  They are small, and they’re not grape tomatoes.)  This same neighbor also “secretly” planted two tomato plants in my garden to replace my dying ones… and they are really taking off!

I have done and have plans to do/make the following things:

  • top tacos, quesadillas, other Mexican food

The problem is that my idea list is much shorter than my tomato supply.  What else should I do?  I do NOT want to take the time to peel them and make sauces (I sure would if they were big!)  Can I freeze them?  I would really like to freeze them… I remember freezing salsa before, but I think I peeled the tomatoes first…  I can’t stand to see them go to waste.  I was already stepping lightly around grounded, squished tomatoes while picking some this evening.

Any help is much appreciated.  I sure wish I could share my tomatoes with all of you!

Find fewer questions and more actual kitchen tips at Tammy’s Recipes.