September 26, 2010

Caramel Apple Pie, oh my!

Ok, so I think I made my best pie ever! The other day, I made a caramel apple pie and it was so delicious I scraped the plate...and so did my husband...and my oldest son actually pretended to pass out and fall on the floor. It was so funny! I take that as a serious compliment!

I got this huge bag of green apples at Wal Mart...

...they were sold in these cute, little, heavy, plastic tote bags with handles. Maybe you've seen them at your local Wal Mart? I also bought a container of Marzetti's caramel dip. After a few days, we ate a couple apples and a little bit of dip....and I knew it was time.....time to make the CARAMEL APPLE PIE with what was leftover!

I made a caramel apple pie last Fall and fell in love with it! Well, since then, I have made many a pie and my pie making skills have increased ten fold! So, this time around, it was even better.

Here's my recipe!!


3/4 C. sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
6 to 7 C. sliced, peeled, tart apples
3/4 C. Marzetti's caramel apple dip
pastry for a double crust pie click here for my recipe

Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Combine apples with cinnamon mixture and toss to coat.

Heap apples into 9 inch pastry lined pie plate.

Spread caramel on top of apples.

Cut 4 slits, or cut 4 pretty ovals into top pie crust, place on top of apples and crimp edges to seal pie. If you want, you can make cute little leaves with the oval cut outs by using a knife to make leaf design. Affix leaves to top of pie crust with egg wash (1 egg yolk mixed with a splash of water). Brush egg wash all over top of pie and sprinkle top of pie generously with sugar.

Cover edges of pie with strips of foil to prevent browning.

Bake pie at 425 degrees on a cookie sheet for 50 minutes.

Ten minutes before pie is done, remove foil from edges of pie so they can brown. At this time check the top of your pie for browning...if your leaves or any part of your pie is browned enough to your liking, just place a little piece of foil over it until finished baking.

Cool thoroughly before cutting and serving.


September 20, 2010

Individual Chicken Pot Pies

Oh yes, the weather is getting a lot cooler and it is time for some comfort food. Chicken pot pie is one of my specialties. I usually make it in a 9 inch pie pan like this here but this time I made individual pot pies in ramekins.

They turned out wonderfully!! I loved it and my family loved it. The salted crusts on these pies was so delicious!

If you're looking for a really homey meal, you gotta make these! Here's the recipe!

Individual Chicken Pot Pies

4 Tbsp. butter
1 medium onion diced
2 carrots diced
1/2 C. flour
4 C. chicken broth
3 C. cooked chicken cut into 1 inch pieces
1 C. frozen peas
1/2 tsp. dried thyme (taste and then add more thyme to your liking)
2 uncooked pie crusts - store bought or use my recipe here

1 egg yolk
salt and pepper

In a saucepan melt butter. Add onion and carrot, cook until soft. Add flour and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cook stirring frequently about 5 minutes. This helps to cook out the raw flavor of the flour.

Add broth SLOWLY WHILE WHISKING CONSTANTLY to the pan of onion, carrot and flour. If you pour broth in all at once it will boil over quickly! Trust me, it happened to me! Stir frequently for 8 minutes until mixture has thickened. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Keep a watchful eye and mix every so often so it won't burn. Stir in chicken, frozen peas and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to your liking.

Divide mixture evenly between ramekins.

Roll out dough and cut into squares approx. 1 inch larger than the size of the ramekin you're using. Cut 4 slits into each dough square.

Lay dough square on top of each filled ramekin.

Brush with a beaten egg yolk that has been mixed with 1 tsp. water. Sprinkle each crust with salt, pepper and a tiny bit of dried thyme for color and flavor.

Bake for 35 minutes until pie crust is deep golden color and filling is bubbling.

Cool few minutes, serve and enjoy the goodness!

September 17, 2010

A fancy book club meeting

This month, my friends and I had our Book Club meeting at a wonderful restaurant called The Hyeholde. The story of The Hyeholde is an enchanting one, beginning in the late 1920's. So the story goes, a young man promised his beautiful, young bride he would build her a castle on the crest of a cornfield right where they stood.

In 1931, the young couple, William and Clara Kryskill, began building this massive home with their own hands, using wood and stone from old barns they purchased. They dismantled these barns themselves, piece by piece.

The young couple planned for their home to be part restaurant, part living quarters. Finally, in 1938, after 7 years of hard work, they opened their restaurant and served their very first meal. It was said that the restaurant was an instant success and the owners continued to build on to their home.

In the 1970's the restaurant was sold to someone outside the family, but was repurchased in 1991 by the original owners' daughter, Barbara McKenna. Finally, the restaurant was back in the hands of family. The daughter still owns and operates the restaurant to this day. In fact, we met the lovely woman during our visit. We were first greeted by her at the back of the restaurant where we had parked. She was carrying an arm full of pears and I assumed she was headed into the back door of the kitchen. She immediately greeted us with a warm and welcoming smile and asked if we were here for Hye Tea. She must have read the look on our faces as we looked rather unsure of exactly where to enter. She directed us through a small tunnel that goes under the building and around the front to the entrance.

As we approached the entrance, we were greeted by a friendly woman coming down the front walk. She graciously welcomed us to Hye Tea and escorted us through the front door into the parlor. Immediately upon entering, I could feel that this was going to be something very special. We were led to a small dining room and seated at a beautiful table all set in white. Our server presented us with a wooden box filled with many kinds of tea. We waited as our server disappeared to fetch our individual tea pots, full of steaming, hot water. Classical music was playing in the background and my friend and I were giddy. We kept looking at each other and whispering as if we did not want to make a sound or be disrespectful in any way. I whispered to my friend, "now I know what it feels like to be rich" to which she replied with a flushed grin "I know!" I truly felt special, like I was SOMEONE, like I deserved to be waited on and taken care of. I have never experienced such service and special care. I have never had a meal at such an exquisite, yet relaxed and charming place. The air did not feel uptight at all, but I did have a sense that I should take extra care to use my best manners. I felt like I was SOMEWHERE and that SOMEWHERE was very special.

The restaurant has the look and feel of a old French Chateau and sits on 4 acres of beautiful wooded land just north of Pittsburgh in Moon Twp, Coraopolis, PA. It has earned the prestige accolade of being 1 of 21 legendary American restaurants! I am astounded that they have been open for business for 72 years! There are 6 rooms that can cozily and comfortably seat 100 people. The decor is filled with heavy, rustic antiques, medieval tapestries and beautiful paintings.

There are also working fireplaces that are used during the colder months that add to the ambiance. I can't wait to go back for a visit during the bone chilling months of winter and request, if I may, a table near the warm, crackling fire.

The executive chef at Hyeholde has been with them for 17 years, starting at the tender age of 21. His style of cooking is New American cuisine with a classic French influence. I really wouldn't know that myself, but I do know that it tasted delicious! I also know the chef uses locally grown fruits and vegetables when possible...some of which come right out of the little vegetable garden located on the property. I also noticed a beautiful fig tree growing around the back of the house. I have read the chef also uses some locally raised meats as well. His creative menu consists of wild game meats, such as quail and elk, which I would LOVE to try one day! I also noticed some rather delicious and seasonal vegetarian dishes available as well.

So finally, I want to tell you about the wonderful meal my friends and I ate at the Hyeholde. There was three of us and we had reservations for what is known as Hye Tea. Basically it is a sampling of the chef's choice, served in three courses.

Please don't ask me to recall the name of each of these tasty, heavenly little treats, but I can give you a basic little description. I have to say, this was the most flavorful, delectable food I have ever tasted. I was delighted with every single morsel that made it's way onto my plate!

For our first course, we were presented with an assortment of little heavenlies! The soup was a delicious corn chowder with what I believe to have tasted, a bit of a tomato base. It was to die for! We all agreed we would have loved a second helping of that! Going clockwise from there, a tiny roll with shrimp adorned with a thin slice of cantaloupe was very tasty! I'm sure that little roll has a wonderfully fancy name, that of which I cannot recall. Next, was a cute little tea sandwich which I believe was filled with a fancy chicken salad. It was so flavorful! Mixed into the sandwich were cut grapes and chopped apples giving it that touch of sweet and crunch. Then finally, last but not least, a small slice of brie with a tiny drizzling of honey, adorned with a sweet, but tart, black raspberry.

Now, for the really, really delicious part...lamb riblets with peach barbecue sauce and grilled peaches. I really love the taste of lamb and I knew this dish would not disappoint! The meat slid right off the bone with barely a touch and completely melted in my mouth! I cannot express to you how GOOD it was! The sauce was smokey and sweet at the same time with a subtle infusion of peaches. Of course the grilled peaches alongside the lamb were sweet and succulent. The sauce was a wonderful accompaniment to the smokey, sweetness of the peaches.

I should mention, at this point, I was really getting full...but...then, the dessert was presented to us! Oh my goodness gracious! How could I resist! Of course, I could not resist and I wasn't about to resist! I had no intentions of resisting! I did however, have EVERY intention of tasting every little morsel of these beautifully crafted desserts presented to us on a lovely white porcelain pedestal. There was a very light, chocolate mousse piped onto a tiny, vanilla flavored, cookie-like boat, a mini, multi layered, dark chocolate, cream and vanilla cake with a fleck of edible gold, and finally, an ever so light and fluffy, lemon butter cream filled into another one of those vanilla, cookie flavored boats. We ate each tiny treat slowly as to savour each and every bite. I think my eyes were closed half the time reflecting my sheer pleasure to the palate!

One last thing that I have to mention...these pretty, petite, raspberry scones. I cannot say enough about these. The texture was crumbly and dense with a sweet hint of raspberry to tickle your tongue. A course, white sugar sprinkled atop gave it just the right amount of sweetness.

To go with our sweet little scones, we were presented with these charming, vintage, chicken shaped, pedestal cups filled with homemade, raspberry plum jam and Devonshire cream. I had never tasted Devonshire cream and was quite impressed with the taste being that of a sweet, heavy, thick spreadable cream.

okay...are you following me here! Do you see why I am gushing on and on about The Hyeholde! Each course was truly a work of art and it was so obvious everything was prepared with heart and passion. It's no wonder this restaurant is legendary and I am priveleged to say that I have experienced the whole thing. I am a foodie, and I really appreciate all the time and the details that go into a meal such as this.

I know this is a long post, but I really wanted to share my experience. I wish all of YOU, my blogger friends, could have been there to share it with me.

P.S. If you are wondering if we ever discussed our book...being that this was supposed to be a book club meeting....well, yes, we did! We had a great discussion of our book "Still Alice" by Lisa Genova, and were all in agreeance that we really loved the book. It's a fictional story about a 50 year old woman who is a brilliant Harvard professor suffering with the effects of Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease. I whole heartedly reccomend this book to anyone! Especially those who have a loved one suffering with this terrible, uncurable disease.

So...where will our book club meeting take us next month? I have another special place in mind...but, until then, you'll just have to wait and see!

September 14, 2010

Making Progress

Just wanted to let you all know, my experience at the Hyeholde restaurant was wonderful and I can't wait to blog about it! I have never been treated so well in my life...and the meal was perfection! I took some photos without a flash and they still turned out pretty well. As soon as I make a few more adjustments to my blog, I will be making a post and will let you know all about it. There's lots to show and tell!

I should be done finalizing my blog by stay tuned!!!

Have a wonderful day!

Your blog friend,

September 13, 2010

Please bear with me! I know not what I do!

Good morning everyone! It's Monday Sept 13.

As I was perusing other blogs this morning, I decided that I needed to spruce up my blog a bit. Well....I did a little playing around and a little freaking out!!! It is now a little after 8 in the morning and I have to get ready for work....BUT I AM NOT SATISFIED WITH MY NEW CHANGES YET! Why oh why did I decided to do this first thing this morning...when I will be so busy all day long! Aaaahhhhh!

Oh well, that's me I guess.

I do love the fall leaves on my blog but now I have to figure out how to get my header picture to fill up the space intended. I need to alter the size of my photo of my header and then reapply it. So anyhow, please bear with me, I know not what I do!!! My blog is like my 3rd child and I am protective of it and oh man......but, I guess it's not the end of the world....just's just a're blogger friends will understand!

So for now, I am off to get child #2 on the bus, take a shower, get ready for work, go to Starbuck's before work to get my first pumpkin spice latte of the season, work a 4 hour shift at Pier 1 Imports, come home, get child #1 off the bus, get child #2 off the bus, change clothes into something a little more fancier, leave children and hubby at home to go to my book club meeting at a very special, fancy shmancy restaurant for "hye tea" at the Hyeholde restaurant....can't wait....will try to take some pics but don't want to use a flash in such a fancy shmancy place...., then back home again, house will be empty because the hubby and kids will be at Boy Scout meeting from 7 to 9, enjoy a little of the fresh evening air, water the garden, welcome kids and hubby back home from meeting, kids to bed, and then finally.......attention to the thought I was going to say attention to the, he will undoubtedly find something manly to watch on tv and I can focus on getting a new header for the blog. Sheez! Is that all?? Ok...I think right now I just need to focus on getting the kid on the bus....and that shower....ohhhhh and that loverly, wonderful pumpkin spice latte waiting for me at Starry Starbuck's!!! Have a great day!

Yours Truly,

The Crazy Lady that decided to make major, earth shattering, design changes to her blog first thing on a Monday morning before getting children on bus and going to work!

That would be me.....Bonnie :^)

September 10, 2010

Spicy Vanilla Pecans...oh my!!!

Who likes pecans?
"I DO, I DO!!"
I think we all do!
Boy, have I got a treat for you!
If you also like vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, salt and pepper, then you'll definately LOVE this recipe!

Mark my words, you won't be sorry!

I'll bet you have all of the ingredients in your pantry right now...except maybe the pecans. So.....go to your grocery list and write down 1 POUND BAG PECAN HALVES.
Since you're making a's the ingredients..make sure ya got everything!
-pecans, white sugar, butter, corn syrup, vanilla extract, salt and pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice.

Go it! I'll wait for ya!

Now, keep in mind, they will cost you about $7.00, but...this snack will last you about a week or so if you nibble on them from time to time. A handful here, a handful me, you won't be able to stop!

***Keep one thing in mind, the prep for these pecans must marinate overnight so think about that if you are planning to make these for a special occasion. Or if you start them early in the morning you could feasibly roast them later that night.


STEP ONE: In a large bowl, mix together 1/2 Cup sugar, 3 Tbsp. melted butter, 1 Tbsp. corn syrup, and 1 Tbsp. vanilla. *(yes, 1 Tbsp. vanilla, not 1 tsp.) Set aside.

In a large pot, boil 6 cups water. Then, add the pecans and boil them for exactly one minute.

Drain pecans, and immediately toss with sugar/butter mixture.

Cover pecans and let sit for 12 to 24 hours. I usually put my pecans in a large ziplock type bag and leave right on the kitchen counter overnight.

STEP 2: Place pecans on ungreased baking sheet.

Roast in 325 degree oven for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.

This is an important step. To keep track of the 5 minute increments, I set my timer for 5 minutes at a time and leave a piece of paper and pen next to the stove to make a check mark for each time I stirred the pecans.

While pecans are roasting, combine these ingredients: 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. allspice, and 1/8 tsp. pepper.

After roasting pecans, immediately toss pecans in a large bowl with the spice mixture.

Toss well to evenly coat.

Spread pecans on aluminum foil or a clean baking tray to cool.

Once cool, store in an airtight container.