Sunday, August 21, 2011

Fair Time!!

This week was county fair time here in Cusick, WA. Our tiny town in eastern Washington boasts the distinction of having the Pend Oreille County fairgrounds! So, of course, it's a big deal!! Our church has a booth at the fair that has free games for kids, like popping balloons with darts, and a bean bag toss. We give out lots of free candy and toys and also get a chance to tell the kids about our school-year time club, Awana. It is a lot of work and a lot of fun! While we're at the fair, I also sneak in a few entries. I have entered things in the county fair since I can remember! When I was growing up in Oregon, we always went to Clackamas County Fair and my siblings and I would enter everything from paintings and photographs to collections, flower arrangements, scrapbook pages and salt clay figurines! It was so much fun to go to the fair during the fair weekend and see our stuff on display (hopefully with a bright blue ribbon on it!). I still enjoy walking around our little county fair and seeing everything on display. Home-baked and hand-made items are special and unique, and of course, in a small town, you recognize a lot of the names and their tell-tale handiwork. This year was my first year ever entering baked goods! The day of entering, I had a blast in the kitchen whipping up a few of my most trusted and tried recipes. Our fair is very fun to enter things in, in part because they operate on the Danish system of judging, which means that you don't really compete against one another (except for special prizes), rather you are judged by a standard and awarded points, which add up to either blue (very good or perfect score), red (good), or white (needs work) ribbons. This means that your work must stand on its own merits and is also nice because you don't have to feel like you're in great competition with your friends and neighbors! Anyway, I have to brag a little and say that in both knitting and baking, I came away with eight blue ribbons and one red! I'm so excited. I hope to do more baking entries next year.

If you'd like to try them, my baking entries were:

Deep Dark Old Recipe Bran Muffins

Pumpkin Gingerbread


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Peach Hand Pies

I have stumbled onto a beautiful culinary discovery! Hand pies! Of course, you have probably had one from McDonald's, or those kind you can get at the supermarket wrapped in a waxy paper. But if you've never had a homemade hand pie, allow me to introduce you...

A hand pie is, in it's simplest form, a circle of golden pie crust folded over a delectable filling. The result is an adorable, scrumptious, hand-held, infinitely variable pastry! Under a flash of inspiration yesterday afternoon, I searched "mini pies" online and happened upon this idea. Putting other recipes aside, I chose the starting point of my mom's own pie crust (which you can find here), and improvised from there. To up the flavor a bit, I swapped out half the shortening for butter, which was delicious. It's so simple! Just roll the pastry out, cut into 5 inch circles (or whatever size you like), put filling on half, and pinch to close!

I used peach for the filling, but now I am itching to try other fruits (Apples, anyone? And my freezer is loaded with strawberries, cherries and huckleberries!), as well as something savory (Maybe a pizza pocket? Maybe something Greek style?)- the possibilities now seem endless! Beware, though, it's hard to stop eating these cute, flaky, little pies!
Bake some up to take on your next picnic or surprise your guests with a darling treat after a summer barbecue- kids and adults alike will find them appealing and delicious!

Peach (or any other filling) Hand Pies
(printable version)
a KitchenJoy original recipe
makes about 7-8 pies

1 recipe Mom's single pie crust (swap half the shortening with butter for flavor)
1-2 ripe peaches (approx.), diced (you can leave skin on or peel)
1-2 TB brown sugar
1-2 TB flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Mix diced peaches, sugar, flour and spice together. Set aside.
Make pie crust dough. Roll out on floured surface to desired thickness. Cut into 5 inch circles. Place circles on cookie sheet.
Spoon 1-2 TB of filling on one side of each circle; fold other half of dough over filling. Pinch to close.
Crimp edges to seal or press lightly with fork tines. Poke holes or make slits in tops of pies.
Sprinkle with granulated sugar if desired.
Chill at least one hour.
Bake in preheated 450 oven 15-20 min (mine were done at 18) or until golden brown and filling is bubbly.
Serve warm or cold.

Tip: if you don't have time to make a homemade pie crust dough, use store-bought!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Chunky Mashed Red Potatoes

Homemade mashed potatoes must be the top of the list for savory comfort food. Some boxed potatoes have a wonderful flavor and consistency, but none I have tasted come close to the amazing texture and flavor of a good batch of the homemade variety. I have been making mashed potatoes from scratch since I was a young teen, but I recently tried a new variation! I absolutely love the flavor and texture of red potatoes, so I switched out my usual russets for a handful of reds. I left the skin on, added a few special ingredients, and I have to say, they were amazing!! Feel free to tweak the flavors to your liking, but give these heavenly potatoes a try alongside your next barbecued pork, chicken or beef!

Chunky Mashed Red Potatoes
(printable version)
a KitchenJoy original recipe
serves about 6
5-6 small or medium size red potatoes, washed and cubed (skin on)
1/4 cup butter
1/4-1/2 cup of milk
garlic powder
shredded parmesan-reggiano cheese (about 1/4 cup)
Place potatoes in pot, cover with water, sprinkle water with a bit of garlic powder; boil about 10 minutes or until tender. Drain potatoes; mash slightly with potato masher or pastry cutter.
Add milk, butter and garlic powder to taste, blend until slightly smooth (leave some chunks) with electric blender. Stir in salt, pepper and cheese to taste.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Chocolate Marbled Peanut Butter Pie

Last night as I was going to bed, I was looking through my twitter feed and saw a recurring theme among my favorite foodie bloggers. The hashtag #apieformikey had me curious, so this morning I googled it (the way I learn everything). What a sad story that is turning into something beautiful! Last week, chef and food blogger Jennie Perillo lost her husband Mikey to a sudden heart attack. She had no time to say goodbye (read the whole story here). So, in his memory, and as a way to remind us all that life hangs by a thread, she says this: "For those asking what they can do to help my healing process, make a peanut butter pie this Friday and share it with someone you love. Then hug them like there's no tomorrow because today is the only guarantee we can count on." Mikey loved Jennie's creamy peanut butter pie and she said she had been meaning to make it for awhile. Now her chance is gone.
Today, as Jennie and her loved ones gather around to remember Mikey, I am making a peanut butter pie for my husband and some special friends. Lord, help me to receive each day you give us breath with gratefulness and joy!
"So teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom." - Psalm 90:12

Hershey's Chocolate Marbled Peanut Butter Pie
(printable version)
from the Hershey's Cookbook
6-8 servings
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 tub (8 oz.) Cool-Whip, thawed
1 graham crust
1/2 cup chocolate chips
Beat first 3 ingredients until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar and milk, beating until smooth. Fold in whipped topping. Place 1 cup peanut butter mixture in separate bowl. Spread remaining mixture in crust.
Melt chocolate chips in microwave, stirring every 30 sec. until smooth. Stir chocolate into reserved peanut butter mixture, blending thoroughly; drop by tablespoons onto top of pie. Using knife or spatula, gently swirl for marbled effect.
Cover; freeze 4 to 5 hours or until firm.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Welcome, Friends!

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." - Shakespeare
Dear friends and readers, I am excited to welcome you to my new home, KitchenJoy! Sometimes, it is just time for a change, and a fresh start with a new name feels good. I hope you'll join me on my continuing adventures in cooking and eating! You can still find all the old posts filed away here, so there's no need to look back! If you want to find out why I named it what I did, read the last post on RookieCookie!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Berry-Spinach Salad with Grilled Chicken

It is difficult to know what to name this beautiful salad. Balsamic Chicken Strawberry Blueberry Spinach Salad is just a wee bit I shortened it. Maybe when this post is up, you all can let me know what you think it should be named. I can't quite be credited with creating it, but I couldn't find its exact match readily available on the internet either so... Anyhow, one fateful day as I was running out of the gym on my way to something else at about lunch time, I stopped at the gym's deli and grabbed an interesting looking salad. It was spinach and strawberries, blueberries and feta cheese, with some sliced almonds and grilled chicken lying on top. I have always been a bit wary of fruit in salads, but boy, I can tell you, this salad has won me over permanently.

At the deli, the salad did not come with it's own dressing suggestion, so I chose my own, randomly picking the balsamic vinaigrette (which surely must have been destiny and not random), thinking somewhere in the back of my mind I had heard balsamic vinegar paired well with strawberries.
It was love at first bite. If you are something of a foodie, you know that there are some moments that live in your memory, when you take that first bite of something wonderful and delicious and heretofore unknown and your taste buds simply stand up and sing and you swear you can hear the hallelujah chorus as everything else fades away and all you know is that taste and the feeling that you've just made an life-altering discovery. Maybe I'm being a bit dramatic (maybe I've been reading too much Anne of Green Gables), but I know it was all I thought about on my way home. At every stop sign I took another marvelous bite. I began to think to myself, I must recreate this!

So, on our next shopping trip, I wrote down everything that I remembered from the salad and found a great balsamic vinaigrette recipe to make from scratch. The first time I recreated the salad, we had it alongside steak, so I omitted the chicken and it was fabulous by itself. But the next time I made a meal out of it, and took it up a notch by marinating the chicken in a bit of the dressing before grilling. Oh, yeah.

You have to try this- it's a fantastic easy salad that is perfect for a hot summer day when you don't feel like cooking! And it's versatile too, so put in whatever nuts you like (I used walnuts the second time) and your favorite cheese (although how can you go wrong with feta??) and change it up!
When we made this last night, I also had hubby grill some fresh peaches as a side/dessert.

They were so good! Sprinkled with just a bit of balsamic vinegar and liberally powdered with brown sugar and grilled until tender (a few minutes per side, depending on how ripe they are), the peaches were smoky and sweet, with a lightly charred, crispy sugar topping.

Berry-Spinach Salad with Grilled Chicken
(printable version)
a KitchenJoy copycat recipe
serves about 4 (main dish servings)

About 1 bag (10 oz.) fresh spinach
1 cup (or more) fresh sliced strawberries
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup (or however much you like) crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup (or just a handful) sliced almonds or other chopped nuts
enough chicken to go around (we used 2 breast halves for the 2 of us and there was some leftover), marinated in the fridge at least an hour in about 1/2 cup of the dressing, then grilled.

Toss spinach, berries and cheese. Top with nuts and grilled chicken. Coat lightly with dressing on individual plates. Enjoy! Good served with rolls and grilled peaches if desired.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Monthly Menu- August

I can't believe I never got around to making up a menu for you last month- my apologies! I kept intending to, then my menu would change...again. I even had a draft going! I can't guarantee this month's won't be altered, but at least you'll get an idea of what we'll be eating...if not in this exact order. :) Summer is so hard to plan- it keeps changing on you. Which I suppose, is the beauty of it. No routine. Just go with it. Anyhow, here's how I've tried to schedule out our meals for August, come what may!

Week 1 (Aug. 2-6)

Chicken-Bacon Bruschetta with Cantaloupe Wedges
A delicious "recipe" from CatzintheKitchen that is super easy and fantastic on grill! I like to marinate the chicken in a balsamic vinaigrette.
Turkey Italian Sausage and Veggie Kabobs with Rice (?)
We have really enjoyed experimenting with skewers, and I'm excited to try a new meat- a sweet Italian sausage alongside zucchini, grape tomatoes, yellow peppers, and maybe some red potatoes.
Balsamic Chicken and Strawberry Salad with Rolls
Very easy and so tasty! Marinated grilled chicken atop fresh spinach, sprinkled with feta cheese, strawberries, blueberries and almond slice, with a tangy balsamic dressing. I picked this salad up at our gym's cafe and had to recreate it for dinner.
Another CatzintheKitchen steal, these are fantastic! We are making ours with steak strips and topping with tomatoes, beans, cheese, peppers and the rest.

Week 2 (Aug. 9-13)

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad with Garlic Breadsticks
Creamy Chicken Taquitos with Fresh Fruit
A fantastic light treat from Our Best Bites- cilantro makes all the difference!
Honey Chicken Stir Fry with White Rice
Whole BBQ Chicken with Red Potatoes
A couple in our church gave us a whole chicken that they butchered. I'd like to try grilling it, but we'll see what we have going on. Yay for leftovers!

Week 3 (Aug. 16-20)

An old favorite we haven't had in awhile. Hoping to use leftover chicken from Saturday.
Spicy Lime Chicken with Red Potatoes
Turkey Burgers
We will be manning the church's fair booth starting today through Saturday, so dinners will be easy to fix and carry (if I make dinner at all...but fair food gets old pretty quick).
Fair Food?
Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
Hoping I'll have time to run home from the fair and put some chicken in the crock-pot for these.

Week 4 (Aug. 23-31)

Hot Dogs with Chips and Fruit
We have VBS this week, so again, dinners will be fairly quick and easy since we'll probably be tired.
Breakfast For Dinner
Not sure what this is going to look like. Maybe breakfast wraps. Maybe pancakes or waffles with huckleberries. Maybe huckleberry crepes. Mmm.
Pizza (even though it's not Friday)
Dinner at Dalkena Church's 60th Celebration (I think)
Grilled Pork Chops (not sure how yet)
Salmon and Veggie Packets (Burger for Trav)
Spaghetti with Crusty Bread
Chicken, Beef, or Meatless...who knows?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Huckleberry Pie

Until I moved to northeastern Washington, I had never had a huckleberry. The first summer we were married, Travis and I lived in Kettle Falls, and a couple in the church there brought us a container-full, which I used in some muffins, I think. Both in Kettle Falls, and here in Cusick, when we moved, we kept hearing people talk about "their" huckleberry patches, and the right times to "go picking." It seemed huckleberry picking was a bit of an initiation to living in the rural northwest! If you have never had a huckleberry, it is a wild berry, similar to a commercial blueberry, though smaller and more tart. The bushes grow in relatively high elevation, and are not currently cultivated commercially anywhere, as far as I can tell. If you are fortunate enough to live in huckleberry country, you may find someone selling the wild berries on a street corner or in front of your local supermarket. Last week, Travis and I were invited to come pick huckleberries at the home of one of our church folks. They have a great patch on the hill by their house, but due to some physical limitations, are unable to reach the rather steep slope on which the berries grow. So, we grabbed our buckets and set to picking- some for us and some for them, munching a few along the way, of course! We soon found that picking the wild berries is a bit of an art form. They do not generally grow in large clusters, but have to be searched out, usually found hiding under leaves. They are small and so are the bushes.

It took us awhile to accumulate very many berries, but it was fun and relaxing to sit under the pines (staining jeans as well as hands!) and quietly harvest little berries, squirrels chattering overhead.
When I got my share of the berries home, I decided to make a pie!

I found a recipe on, and for my first attempt, I think it turned out pretty well!

I followed one reviewer's advice and added additional cornstarch, since the berries tend to be very juicy, but it still gushed juice when I sliced the cooled pie later (I just scooped out the juice and put in on ice cream later- no waste there!).

I also could have added more sugar, as the pie was still pretty tart! However, I just sprinkled a little added sugar on my piece to make up for it. :)

These tweaks aside, it was a real northwestern experience! I still have 3-4 cups of berries left in my freezer, so we'll see what I can do with those...
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