The easiest, greatest pie crust, that turns out perfectly every time

All these years, I thought I had my stand-by pie crust recipe here on my site, but a quick search didn't turn it up (and I refuse to search for longer than oh, 2 seconds! Ha) so I wanted to be sure it was here for my oldest daughter to easily find, as well as my son and younger daughter too, now that all three will be 'out of the nest' as of this Fall.

This is a recipe I've been making for almost 20 years.  It's quick and easy, it's pretty much fool proof, and it tastes great as well as having a nice texture.  I'm actually more of a pie 'crust' kind of a person moreso than the filling.  So this crust sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar is more of a treat for me than a whole slice of pie would be as it's a food I remember my Mom making with the extra scraps of leftover pie crust when I was only 3 and 4 years old.

Quick and Easy Perfect Pie Crust

2 c flour
1 t salt
3/4 c mixture of shortening (Crisco) and butter
4-5 T ice water

In a food processor, place the flour, salt and a mixture of about 1/2 cup shortening and 1/4 cup butter (you can use all shortening, all butter, or a mixture of both, but I like these amounts for a flaky, tender crust from the shortening with the stability and flavor of the butter).  Pulse a few times just to make a crumbly mix.  With the machine running on low, drizzle ICE cold water thru the feeder tube just until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides.  This usually takes about 3-4 tablespoons but could be less or more depending on the brand of flour, the humidity, the exact amount of flour used, etc.  Now split into 2 disks and chill for about 20 minutes to make them easier to work with.  Roll out on a lightly floured surface.  This makes 2 bottom crusts or 1 top and 1 bottom crust.  Bake according to your pie recipe.

Stop adding water and pulsing as soon as it forms a ball

One disk of dough
An easy way to do a top crust; lay the rolled out crust over all
Gently roll the excess to the edge of your pie
Either seal the edges by pressing with a fork or by pinching to form a waved crust
I just go around the outside pinching the dough between my fingers
For this pie I sprinkled the top with cinnamon and sugar before baking

You might also be interested in;
Perfect Pies: The Best Sweet and Savory Recipes from America's Pie-Baking Champion
Pyrex Easy Grab, 9.5 Inch, Pie Plate
HIC Ceramic Rose's Perfect Pie Plate, Rose

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14 Zucchini Recipes! Everything from Dark Chocolate Zucchini Bread to Spicy Chicken and Zucchini

Pasta with Spicy Chicken and Vegetables
Chicken, Zucchini and Feta
Sugar Free Dark Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Caramelized Zucchini with Garlic
Sauteed Zucchini and Cabbage
Zucchini Puff (Zucchini Casserole)
Vegetable Casserole (Using up your Zucchini, Yellow Squash and Carrots!)
Zucchini Jam
Zucchini Cake
Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Zapple Pie (Zucchini Pie you will swear is Apple Pie)
Scallops and Penne in Garlic Cream Sauce
Italian Garden Salad
Vegetable Cakes

Chicken, Zucchini and Feta
Vegetable Casserole

Sauteed Zucchini and Cabbage

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Spicy Chicken and Spinach

Boy do I owe this recipe an apology. 

This dish is tweaked and based on a recipe I've had sitting in a very well used 3-ring-binder for ten years.  Yes....  10. Years.  And I've flipped past it, never made it because the list of ingredients seemed so boring, so common and so blah, that I didn't give it the time of day.  Today that changed.

It started simply enough.  I grabbed two Ziploc packages of frozen, boneless, skinless chicken breasts from the freezer, popped them into my electric skillet on 300 degrees and let them cook while I did other things.  When they were cooked I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them, so I flipped open one of my kazillion 3-ring binders where I have old recipes hand written, printed, ripped out of old magazines, etc.  And my eyes fell on a very boring looking chicken and spinach casserole recipe.  It only caught my attention because it called for 3 cups of cooked, diced chicken (which I had in front of me) and spinach... which is currently my 18 year old daughter's favorite vegetable that she can't get enough of.

I added a bunch of jalapenos, some salsa (because I made homemade fresh salsa a few days ago and wanted to use it up), some red and orange peppers and viola!  I taste tested it before it was even heated through, loved it so much, I immediately (yes, immediately)  made a second batch to put in the freezer for a future dinner.  I am also going to copy it right now to send the link to my oldest daughter to add to her 'whip this up for dinner' and it's "soooo good" file.

Spicy Chicken and Spinach

3 cups cooked, diced chicken
10 oz. pk. frozen spinach, thawed
1/2 yellow and 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 T butter
1/2 c jalapeno slices (canned) or 2 small jalapeno's fresh (increase, decrease)
8 oz. cream cheese
1/3 c sour cream
1 1/2 c salsa or 14 oz. can diced tomatoes w/ peppers, onions, garlic, salt and lime juice mixed in to taste
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t chili powder
1 c cheddar cheese

Mix the chicken and spinach in a casserole dish.  Saute' the onion and pepper in butter until tender.  Add the jalapenos, mix and add to the chicken/spinach.  Heat the salsa (or the tomato/onion/pepper/garlic/lime/salt) in a pan.  Add the cream cheese and heat through.  Pour over the chicken mixture.  Add the sour cream, spices and cheese.  Mix and bake at 350 until heated through and bubbly or microwave if you are in a hurry or don't want to heat up the kitchen.

I tasted it at this stage;  pre-cream cheese and sour cream and salsa and it was amazing already!
I would even venture to make this and serve as it is;  without the cheeses as a lighter alternative.
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Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies! (And an option for grain free, sugarfree versions too!)

If you are a fan of peanut butter cookies, I can't imagine you haven't made the oh-so-simple three ingredient version that not only has every Great Grandmother (in the US at least), but pretty much, almost every 8 year old has made as well.  (1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup sugar and 1 egg... make into balls, flatten and bake at 350 for about 9 minutes.)  I'm not a fan of peanut butter, but my family is so I made them... but like every other recipe I ever make, I always tweak, embellish, change it a bit.  Whenever I made that simplistic version I always added some vanilla at the very least, and usually used half white, half brown sugar.

This recipe is similar - very basic, but with a few more additions than just the 3.   The thing is, this is a regular peanut butter cookie recipe without flour or grains... but I went a step further and used natural sweeteners that make it sugar free as well.  The only sugar in this cookie (if you make it with natural sweeteners) is whatever sugar grams are in your favorite peanut butter. 

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

1 c peanut butter
1/2 c brown sugar (or brown sugar substitute sweetener)
1/2 c granulated sugar  (or granulated sugar substitute)
5-10 drops liquid sweetener IF you are using Xyliol or other natural sweetener in place of sugar & like them sweet
1 egg
1 t baking soda
1 t vanilla

Mix in a bowl until smooth.  Chill dough for easier handling and less spreading.  Form balls of your favorite size cookie and bake on parchment at 350 for about 10-12 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheets at least 3 minutes before moving to racks to cool complete. These can be more crumbly in texture than the sort with flour (especially in the summer when the humidity is high), but after they are cool I put 3 cookies each in individual baggies and keep them in the refrigerator or freezing for easy "grab and go".   

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Sugar Free, Low Carb, Grain Free Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Sugar Free, Grain Free, Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 c butter
1/4 c coconut oil
scant 3/4 c brown sugar sweetener - minus about 2 T
1/4 c granular sugar sweetener
8-10 drops liquid sweetener
2 t vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
3 c almond flour
1/4 c coconut flour
1/2 package sugar free chocolate chips 

Mix the butter, oil and sugars until creamy.  Add the liquids and eggs.  Mix in the dry ingredients and stir in the chips.  Chill the dough at least 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350.  Scoop cookies into balls, flatten slightly and bake on parchment paper for 10-12 minutes until golden brown on edges and starting to brown on tops.  Cool on cookie sheets for about 3-4 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely. 


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Steaks over a Campfire and using my Solar Oven = "cool" cooking this summer

We grill out a lot... no really.  A lot.  Year round.  So it's no wonder we go through grills fairly often.  I won't invest in an $800 grill because I know we will be buying a new one by the end of the 2nd or 3rd season.

We also like to have backyard bonfires.  Since we have a wood deck, we were using our fire pit on the grass area in the backyard.  However, we installed a patio last Spring of 2013 with concrete pavers.  This allowed us to put our firepit on the concrete and it's been getting heavy use ever since.

We enjoy grilled steak, seafood, vegetables, chicken and burgers... but cooking them under the broiler when you don't have a grill just is not the same.  So one night I decided to cook over our fire pit as if we were camping.  The first night was simply jalapeno hot dogs.  The next night we made steaks and grilled veggies in a grill basket.  A couple nights later it was chicken.  

Since then, we've been 'grilling' over our patio fire pit about three times a week all summer... and it's wonderful!  The flavor of the foods cooked over a fire is incomparable to the taste of being grilled in a propane grill.

I simply get the fire going, let it burn down (about 30-45 minutes) and lay the grill rack across some flat rocks to raise it about 5-6 inches from the heat.  If it's not level, I can just add a new piece of wood or a few more rocks (the photo above has a 'fresh' log I added to the bottom to level out the rack - although the steaks are cooking over the hot coals).

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Jalapeno Cheese Balls

Jalapeno Cheese Balls
Similar to Great Balls of Fire from Joe's Crab Shack

2 T butter
2 oz cream cheese
1/4 c sour cream
1 T mayonnaise
1 t season salt
1/8 t paprika
1/8 t chili powder
1/4 c cheese, shredded pepperjack
4 t onions, minced
4 t green peppers, minced
3 jalapenos, minced and seeded
6 oz crab, canned
4 oz shrimp, minced salad shrimp
2 eggs
1T milk
1 c Panko or breadcrumbs
1 c oil for frying

Mix the butter, cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise until blended. Add seasoned salt, paprika, and chili powder. Add cheese, onion, green pepper, and jalapenos. Add crab and shrimp; mix. Roll into 1/4 inch balls; refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Beat eggs and milk. Dip the balls into egg mixture; dredge in fine bread crumbs. Deep fry until golden in 1 cup hot oil.

Adding the yummy spices!

Before breading them

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My Favorite Blueberry Pie - Made into a Lower Carb, Sugar Free Version

And... 2022 update - this post is from 2014 and most of the products have changed or are unavilable (the Just Like Sugar brand for example) use whatever brands and options are available in whatever year you are reading this post.

One of the few fruit pies I will eat, is my blueberry pie.
I love my blueberry pie.
I know my blueberry pie.  I love my blueberry pie.
But it's full of regular, all purpose white flour.
And sugar.
And not exactly 'healthy'.
So yesterday I set out to make it healthier.

The end result made me sad... because it wasn't MY blueberry pie.

It didn't have sweet sugary blueberry filling.
It didn't have the crunchy crust from the extra sugar sprinkled and baked on top.

And the fact that I didn't love it as much as I do "my" blueberry pie... is all in my head.
And I know that.
And my husband agreed with me- that it's all in my head...  as he finished every last crumb of his slice.

Healthier Blueberry Pie

1 c  Blanched Almond Flour
4 T Hodgson Mill Vital Wheat Gluten
2 t xanthan gum
2 T Nature's Best Isopure Unflavored Whey Protein Powder
1/3 c oat flour (optional - I used this time but not the last 2 times. Not a significant difference)
1 t baking powder
dash of salt
6 T cold butter, cut into small pieces (reduce to 4 T if you don't use oat flour)
2 egg yolks
2 T cold water

4-5 cups frozen or fresh blueberries
1 1/2 T  Thick-It-Up Low Carb Food Thickener
3/4 c  Brown Sugar Substitute or a mixture of both 'white' and 'brown' together
dash of cinnamon, vanilla and ground ginger
Just Like Sugar Baked Right to sprinkle on the top crust**

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl with a whisk.  Cut in the butter with your fingers and work it in until it's coarse.  Beat the egg yolks with cold water and blend it into the dry ingredients.  When it forms a ball, remove, place on plastic wrap, form a disk, wrap and chill.

While the crust is chilling, mix the berries, thickener, sugar substitute and ginger, cinnamon and vanilla in a bowl. Remove the chilled dough, divide into half and roll out the pie crusts (between two pieces of parchment because it's sticky) and place one in a large, deep dish pan pan.

Fill with the blueberry filling.  Top with the second crust and crimp the edges with your fingers or use a fork.  Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and a sugar substitute (I used Just Like Sugar's Baked Right).  Bake at 350 until golden brown and firm in the center. 

**Note:  The next time I make this I'm going to use some erythritol in the blueberry mix and sprinkled on top to make it just a little sweeter and to give it more of that crunch that unhealthy, beloved blueberry pie has.

I use my blueberries frozen - right from the freezer, yes with ice still covering them

Crimping the edges to seal in the filling

This is a product that is sweetener and cinnamon already blended
I baked it my sun oven for about 2 1/2 hours (nothing burns so forget about it as long as you want)


And... 2022 update - this post is from 2014 and most of the products have changed or are unavilable (the Just Like Sugar brand for example) use whatever brands and options are available in whatever year you are reading this post.




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Jello Salad with Marshmallows and Pineapple

You won't find a picture of this on my site, because this is a 'jello salad' I will never, ever make.  Nor eat.  I'm not a fan of jello salads of any sort, but I know they are very popular with the generation's before me.   This morning I was looking through my files for things I had posted on previous Fourth of July holidays and this popped up in my search because originally I found it labeled "Fourth of July Salad".

I know why I put it in my recipe files... this is the kind of thing my Mom, my Grandmother and my father-in-law would love.  I've had it sitting in my draft files since 2008 when I collected it with the intention of possibly making it for one of their visits. 

For anyone looking for a very 50's, 60's, 70's Jello Salad... well, this is for you I guess!

Jello Salad with Marshmallows and Pineapple

2 boxes lime jello
16 marshmallows
2 (3 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1 pkg. orange jello
1 pt. whipping cream
1 small can crushed pineapple

Mix lime jello and chill only until congealed. Mix together in top of double boiler the marshmallows, cream cheese and orange jello (dry). Heat until all has melted and is creamy. Set aside. Whip whipping cream; add pineapple (liquid and all). Add this to melted mixture in double boiler. Put in large Pyrex dish. Pour congealed, lime jello over this. Put in refrigerator. Chill until served.Print Friendly and PDF


Teriyaki Beef with Cabbage (made in 2 minutes in the microwave using my freezer mixture teriyaki beef)

I didn't take a picture of the first 2 bowls of this dish... because they were so good I ate them before I even thought about it!  (And that was for breakfast!)   Yes, it's true - I had Teriyaki Beef with cabbage for breakfast.  But, that's typical of me.  I don't like breakfast foods, nor do I have much of a sweet tooth.  I do however have a 'salt' tooth and a 'crunch' tooth!  All I could think about was the salty goodness of the soy sauce in this beef mixture so I got it out of the freezer (remember I made a double batch and froze it).

I decided to use fresh, raw, grated cabbage in the bottom of my bowl, topped with some of the frozen meat mixture, and I microwaved it for 2 minutes.  The liquid from the thawed and heated meat cooked the cabbage just a bit so I was left with a perfectly cooked dish.  So perfect I really did have 2 bowls... and then was fairly thirsty the rest of day from having so much 'salty' foods for breakfast!

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