Fresh Homemade Cherry Pie From Scratch

I am sorry I don’t have a great photo but this pie is worth every bit of effort to make it.  Crust recipe is incredibly forgiving even for a novice.  I got it from a friend of mine and use it for all my pies.  The cherry filling piece of the recipe came from another friend.  Lastly I credit Mark Bittman for general baking instructions.

Double Crust 9-Inch Pie Crust

Will work with a deep dish 9 or low 10 inch

Make in Cuisinart with regular dough blade

Key is to keep all the ingredients cold. Even put the dry ingredients in the freezer for a few minutes before starting…but especially important that the butter and shortening are chilled.   (cut butter and then chill, measure Crisco).  For me keeping cold was about 20-30 minutes.

Crust Ingredients

–       2 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface

–       1 tsp salt

–       2 tbsp sugar  (will also need a little sugar to sprinkle on top pie crust)

–       1/2 cup vegetable shortening, chilled

–       12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter cut into 1/4 inch pieces

–       6-8 tbsp ice water

–       note need a little milk for top of second pie crust

Directions for Pie Crust

Mix dry ingredients in a food processor, then add shortening (about ten seconds). Then cut the butter into the flour mixture until pale yellow, coarse crumbs. Pulse the processor to do this. Then add ice water until dough sticks together. Add little bit of ice water as needed to make dough stick. Divide the dough into two even balls and flatten into 4 inch disks. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least an hour (up to two days) before rolling. Roll out on well dusted surface to prepare the crusts.

Ingredients Cherry Filling

–       5 cups pitted cherries (slice the larger ones in half) – try to drain and keep as dry as possible.  William Sonoma sells a Cherrymat Cherry Pitter for $29.95.  I have a seen a similar one for slightly less.  This gadget works incredibly well and if you plan to make this pie a few times a year, suck it up and buy it.  It will save you oodles of time.  Freeze any unneeded cherries and consider making a fruit topping for waffles/pancakes.

–       little less than 3/4th cup sugar

–       1/3 cup flour

–       1 generous tablespoon of cornstarch

–       2 tablespoons of butter cut into small pieces

Directions for Filling

Toss lightly all but the butter

When ready to make pie – preheat oven to 450

1)   Roll out first dough (if from fridge, let sit for 10-15 minutes max) from center out

2)   When close to 10“ check diameter large enough with upset down pie plate

3)   Transfer first crust – fold in quarters, move, then unfold

4)   When dough is in place, press firmly in the bottom, sides and junction of bottom and sides

5)   Trim excess dough to about ½ inch all around, then tuck under edge of plate

6)   Fill the pie with the cherry mixture – little heavier in the center of pie

7)   Dot with the 2 tablespoons of butter throughout.

8)   Place second crust on top of pie dish (using quarter method above)

9)   Trim if necessary

10)  Decorate edges of pie crust with fork

11)  Place pie on a baking sheet and brush top lightly with milk.  This step saves your oven from becoming messy.

12)  Sprinkle with sugar throughout lightly

13)  Use sharp paring knife cut to to three 2 inch long vent holes in top crust for steam escape

14)  Place in oven 450 for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 for 40-50 minutes (mine was ready at 40 minutes exactly).  Pie should be golden brown.  Do not underbake

15)  Cool on rack before serving warm.

 Fresh Whip Cream Ingredients and Directions

–       Put  mixer bowl and whipping beater in freezer for 20-30 minutes

–       1 cup heavy whipping cream (do not pull out of fridge until ready to make)

–       1 tablespoon + of sugar to taste

–       Slowly bring heavy whipping cream (no sugar) up to high speed for a few minutes

–       Before starting to near the consistency of peaks you should add 1 tablespoon of sugar and keep beating

I serve the whip cream on the side versus placing directly on the pie.



Barefoot Contessa’s Crab Strudel – Luxury Appetizer or Entree

When I saw this in Ina’s Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof, I was attracted to the small number of ingredients, 20 minute prep time, and the ability to freeze the dish and bake-off at a later date.  I was secretly also hoping to get a wow factor from the crowd, and I had success.  The good news indeed the ingredients are easy to find in a store.  The bad news is that 20 minutes of prep is not realistic.  I would say if you are prepping this solo, count on 30-40 minutes unless you are proficient with pastry dough.  In addition you need to plan ahead before making the dish.  The dough needs to defrost for 8 hours or overnight in your fridge.  Then it needs to rest at room temperature for 30-40 minutes before using.  I suggest you gather all your ingredients, then take out the dough, and start your timer and complete your prep work.  The sheets needs to be soft but not too soft.  Yes you might have time to kill waiting for the dough to get just right, but you can always start cleaning up.  Once you start working with the sheets you need to cover the unused sheets with a damp dish cloth (non fluffy type that won’t stick to dough).    Finally my experiment freezing went well but I thought the dish tasted slightly better when baked immediately after prepping vs the frozen but not enough for your guests to likely care.  Her yield says 6-8.  If it is a main entree I think that sounds about right.  But I served a half a recipe for 6 people as an appetizer and it was a perfect quantity.

In terms of difficulty, I upped this to medium because pastry dough is tricky.  However in reality if you just read the box directions and the directions in the recipe, I think it is hard to mess this recipe up.  I used Wegmans Ready to Use Phyllo Pastry Sheets.  Our store carried two sizes and I used the larger size but the smaller size would be fine.   My recipe yielded 4 meaty size loaves.  I got the crab at Wegmans too.  The brand was called Graham & Rollins Inc. Crabmeat, Jumbo Lump.  It came in a one pound container and I never saw one shell and the crab tasted great.  Downside is that the container costs close to $30.00.  At Wholefoods it would be significantly more.


12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided   (2 tablespoons + 10 tablespoons)

3 scallions, chopped (use whole of scallion cut into small slices)

2 garlic cloves, minced (I hand diced small)

1 teaspoon curry powder (I think you could add a touch more (extra half teaspoon?) and have a more favorable result.  In the website many wrote in they used Old Bay.  I think that would be fine too but give a different flavor for sure)

1 pound lump crabmeat, drained and picked to remove shells

2 teaspoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1 lime, juiced

Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

10 sheets phyllo dough (such as Pepperidge Farm) – I used Wegmans brand and 20 sheets (4 rolls, 5 sheets each)

1/4 cup plain dry breadcrumbs – I used a half cup at least and would measure at least that amount out.  (I used Panko style)


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saute pan, add the scallions and garlic and cook over medium-low heat until the scallions are soft, approximately 5 minutes. Add the curry powder (or old bay) and stir.

Shred the crabmeat into a bowl and mix with the parsley, lime juice, salt, to taste, and pepper.   She then says add the crabmeat to the scallion mixture.  I found it easier to add the scallion mixture to the crabmeat bowl.

Melt 10 tablespoons of butter in a small pan and set aside.


Unfold 1 sheet of the phyllo dough. Brush the sheet with melted butter and sprinkle with bread crumbs.  (My sprinkles caused me to end up using 1/2 cup total).   Repeat the process by laying a second sheet of phyllo dough over the first sheet, brush it with melted butter and sprinkle with bread crumbs until 5 sheets have been used. Spoon a 1-inch wide row of the crab mixture along 1 edge of the phyllo dough. Roll it up. Brush the top with butter and set aside. Repeat the entire process using the all the phyllo dough and crab filling.

Cover a sheet pan with parchment paper. Score the crab strudel diagonally into 1 1/2-inch pieces and bake for 12 minutes, or until the top is lightly brown. Slice and serve.

If you are using a previously made batch from the freezer I had success pulling it out of the freezer 1 hour before cooking and resting at room temperature.  I remelted some butter and painted the tops again before baking.  Make sure your score marks are deep enough if you are using previously frozen dough so you get a good chance at the crab evenly warming.  At the same time, you don’t want to score all the way through or the dish will fall apart.   I had to bake closer to 18 minutes on the frozen logs.  The straight to the oven pieces needed 12 minutes max.

Read more at:

Below are pictures just before going into the oven and as it came out as well as the crab mixture.




Awesome Oatmeal Waffles – Kid Helpers Welcomed

IMG_5357Today my daughter wanted oatmeal but wanted something creative.  I said how about we look for some oatmeal pancake recipes and she said what about oatmeal waffles.  I never heard of oatmeal waffles but figured with Google an arm’s length away- sure I said.  30 minutes later, I was super excited to have stumbled upon this healthy recipe.  It was a great  switch up from our regular Bittman waffles.  It came from the website (I website I had never seen).  The recipe says it will make 6 waffles – our batter produced 7 good sized waffles.  Prep time was about 10 minutes and  I was cleaned up before waffle 3 was out.

6-7 Waffles Servings Prep/Total Time: 30 min including cooking waffles and cleanup

Before you start mixing, plug in your waffle iron and melt your butter in the microwave to get cooled


  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour – dry
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats – dry
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder – dry
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon – dry
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, optional – dry – I would at least use a pinch or full 1/4 – dry
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Assorted fresh fruit and yogurt of your choice


  • In large bowl, combine the dry ingredients:  flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; set aside.
  • In small bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, butter and brown sugar.
  • Add to flour mixture; stir until blended.  (This is a pretty wet waffle batter)
  • Pour batter into a lightly greased waffle iron (amount will vary with size of waffle iron).
  • Close lid quickly; do not open during baking until your waffle iron beeps done.
  • Use fork or knife to remove baked waffle if stuck.
  • If not using right away, cool on a rack and freeze uneaten waffles once cooled.
  • Top with fresh fruit and yogurt.
  • Yield: 6 -7waffles.

Picture of batter; uncooked batter in waffle iron; fully cooked waffle




Nutritional Facts: One serving equals 1 bread, 2 fats; also, 176 calories, 223 mg sodium, 65 mg cholesterol, 21 gm carbohydrate, 5 gm protein, 8 gm fat.

Simple mustard fish recipe; Will surely delight the crowd

I have Ina Garten to credit for this recipe, and I have made it many times and it has never disappointed.  Here is a link to one version of the recipe:

I love this recipe because it truly is foolproof, requires few ingredients, and takes no time at all to prepare.

I find it best with white fish, but it will work with a good piece of salmon.

Prep takes 10 minutes, cooking takes about 15-20 minutes, and cleanup is simple if you use parchment paper on your rimmed cookie sheet.  Basically you only need to clean a few measuring spoons and a small bowl along with the cookie sheet.  I think this dish would be more messy on a non-rimmed cookie sheet for clean up.


4 – 8 oz servings of fish fillets such as snapper – I have tried this with many white firm fish types from Whole Foods and usually prefer asking them for one large 3-4 pound fillet, making sure it has been picked over for bones.  I specifically ask them to hunt for major bones before taking the piece home.   Usually if I call late in the day with 2 hours notice they will have the fish waiting for me.  Ina in her show and book never mentions salmon and I am not sure why, as this works well on salmon as well.

Kosher salt and pepper (have ready 2 teaspoons of each but you won’t use it all)

8 ounces of creme fraiche (I never heard of creme fraiche before making this recipe.  It comes in a round tub like a cottage cheese or whipped cream cheese and usually is found near the fresh cheeses at your store.  I have only seen it come in one size.)

3 tablespoons of Dijon Mustard (recommend using both types and I usually go heavy when measuring)

1 tablespoon of Whole Grain Mustard (recommend using both types)

2 tablespoons minced shallots 1-2 shallots depending on size (do not skip as it adds a lot of flavor)

2 teaspoons of drained capers (I never add the capers because I find most people don’t like the taste as much as me)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Line sheet pan or rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper or can use ovenproof baking dish.  I find the cookie sheet with parchment makes cleanup a breeze

Place the fish skin side down on the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper to your taste

Combine the creme fraiche, 2 mustards, shallots, capers if using, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper in small bowl.

Generously spoon sauce over fish.  I recommend mixing the ingredients in the quantity above but just using about half to three quarters of the sauce.  It is rich enough in half the quantity. Unfortunately I have found little use for the other half so usually I toss it down the drain.

Cooke the fish 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish until barely done.  Do not overcook it.

Serve hot or at room temp with the sauce of the pan spooned over the top.

I will upload a picture later this week when I make the dish!  You will be impressed with how professional the dish looks.

I usually serve it with Ina’s roasted root vegetables.  See separate posting.  That too is easy to make.

Quick and Easy Homemade Waffles by Mark Bittman

This waffle recipe is easy.  You will never want frozen waffles again!

I have never had it fail and I have made it at least 50 times.   I always make one extra set of the dry ingredients which I set aside in a large zip lock bag.  I label the outside of that ziplock well and then inside in a small separate plastic bag I put a note card with the wet ingredients to add.  This way me or my husband can whip up a batch quick.

Effort to make 1 batch – 10 minutes plus time to cook the waffles.  To cook a full batch allocate 30 minutes.    I love my waffle iron which came from William Sonoma.  It does not have any bells and whistles but it does the job well.  The only choice is the doneness setting.  Usually I cook on setting 2 (out of 10).

Before starting the mixing, turn on your waffle iron, and put the butter in the microwave and set aside to cool.


2 cups of all-purpose flour (dry)

1/2 teaspoon salt (dry)

2 tablespoons of sugar (dry)

3 teaspoons of baking powder (dry) (underlined to make sure you measure this precisely and that you use powder not soda).

1 1/2 cups of milk

2 eggs

4 tablespoons or 1/2 stick of butter melted and cooled – I use the microwave cutting the butter into a few pieces before setting it to 40 seconds.

1 teaspoon of good vanilla extract (worth adding but is labelled optional in Bittman’s recipe)


Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl mix the eggs into the milk (I usually separately scramble the eggs before mixing with the milk).

Add to the smaller bowl the cooled butter and vanilla if using.

Add the wet smaller bowl to the dry ingredients and stir until mixed well but not obsessively well.

If the mixture is dry add a little more milk but if you measured correctly additional milk should not be necessary.

Spread batter into center of your waffle iron (using a large spoon, poured from a measuring bowl, or using a ladle).

Bake until waffle is done 3-5 minutes – my waffle iron beeps and turns green when done.  There is no guesswork.

Carefully peel waffle off iron and pour in more batter until done.

I like to lay the done waffles on a cooling rack to keep crisp and get air below the waffle.  If I am serving a few minutes later I reheat on a cooling rack laid on top of a cookie sheet.

Once cooled I freeze all leftovers in a freezer bag.  They last well in the freezer for at least 2 months.  I have not tried longer.

I defrost the night before if I remember and  then just place in the toaster in the morning.  Even without defrosting one toast or a preheated toaster at 325 for 5-10 minutes warms the waffle right up.

This recipe is super easy and doubles perfectly.  I almost always make a double batch if I have time and freeze as many as possible.

DO NOT MAKE THE BATTER THE DAY BEFORE THINKING YOU WILL SAVE TIME IN THE MORNING.  Results will be sub-par.  If you need to save time, set aside the combined dry ingredients the night before on your counter and pre-measure the milk and vanilla and leave those two ingredients in the fridge.   Then cut your butter and place in the bowl you will put into the microwave but return the butter back to the fridge as well.   This will save you 5 minutes out the 10-15 minutes it takes to make the whole batter start to finish.

If you have a kid helper, ask them to measure all the dry ingredients and place in the bowl.   Ask them to help stir the wet ingredients as well.

Apple Spice Muffins (Kids Helpers Welcomed) – Very Easy

Today I made a batch of these.  The recipe was on the back of StonyField LowFat French Vanilla Yogurt.  I was worried we were not going to finish the yogurt and did not want it to go to waste.  Everyone liked these: Mom, Dad, and especially our 4 year-old.  I had the muffins in the oven in less than 15 minutes and was completely cleaned up before they came out. They looked and tasted great.  I froze the extras and presume they will taste fine in the future but will report back.

Kids can do the sifting, mixing, and scooping into the tins.


12 muffin tin regular sized

Sifter tool

Wax or Parchment Paper (if you have it; if not just sift into the dry ingredient large bowl)

Preheat oven to 375, & melt and get your butter cooled before doing anything else!  


2 cups flour (dry)

1/2 cup sugar (dry)

1 1/2 tsp baking soda (dry)

2 tsp cinnamon (dry)

2 eggs

1 cup Stonyfield Low Fat Vanilla Yogurt or some other brand

1/4 Cup butter melted and cooled (This is 4 tablespoons, or half a stick).    I cut the butter into 4 pieces before starting the microwave.  Then I melt the butter in the microwave for about 45 seconds.)

1 apple if large peeled and diced small


Preheat oven to 375

Sift the first four dry ingredients after wax or parchment paper and pour into a large bowl

Crack two eggs in a small bowl and scramble (remove any shells if needed)

In medium bowl mix eggs, yogurt, and cooled butter.  I stirred around 20 times quickly.

Pour this wet mixture over your dry mixture, add apples and stir.

Do not panic at first this batter will seem hard to come together and you will think you have too much dry ingredients.  However after a minute or so of stirring I got all the ingredients easily incorporated.

Pour the combined batter into the tins and bake for 20-25 minutes.  In my oven they seemed done at 21 minutes but I pulled them out at 23 minutes.  I let them stay in the tins for about 10-15 minutes and then let them cool on a cooling rack outside the muffin tin pan.  Clearly they can be served pretty soon coming out of the oven if needed right away.

I forgot to take a picture but they had a nice brown color with pieces of apples sticking out !

Mini Meat (or Turkey) Loaves – Kid Helpers Welcomed

This is a simple dish for a novice to make.  You need one regular size muffin pan.  This dish can be in the oven within 20 minutes and clean up takes about 10 minutes max if you throw everything (muffin pan included) in the dishwasher.  This recipe was adopted from C is for Cooking Recipes From the Street by Susan McQuillan.   This is a kids’ cookbook I skeptically bought but turns out I would highly recommend it.  (It can be found on Amazon:  I receive nothing for this mention).

Equipment: Muffin Pan (12 cups), Small Bowl, Large Bowl, measuring items)

Kids can help with all the measuring and my 4 year old loves making the balls for the tins.  I mix the ingredients in the bowl though initially to make sure the consistency is good.



1 egg

1 pound turkey ground turkey (I like a combo of thigh and breast; however any type of ground meat is fine- chicken, beef, pork etc)

1 cup uncooked old fashioned oatmeal (I like Bob’s Red Mill Organic Extra Thick Rolled Oats which can be found at Wholefoods)

1 small onion (or half large onion) – diced very small

1 or 2 carrots depending on size (shred with a grater)

1/3 cup ketchup and 1/4 Heinz Chili Sauce (sold near ketchup at most grocery stores)

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (I buy this pre-grated to save time)

1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt (I use half this but recipe calls for full one)

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Topping – (original recipe calls for ketchup; I make my topper below)

1/3rd cup Heinz Chili sauce,  mixed with 1 very generous tablespoon of Light Brown Sugar


Lightly spray cooking spray in 9 muffin tins (sometimes you get 8, sometimes 9)

Crack egg in tiny bowl, remove any shells.

In large bowl combine chosen meat, oatmeal, onion, carrot, egg, ketchup, chili sauce (if using), parm cheese, salt and pepper

Mix with your CLEAN hands or use plastic baggies over hands.

Once well mixed, scoop up a ball and place in muffin tin, patting the top down to be smooth.

Brush with topping if using (again I think the Chili Sauce with a little sugar is the way to go)

Bake 20-25 minutes until center not pink (I usually cook it the full 25, but they usually seem done after 22-23 minutes).

Remove from oven and keep in muffin tin for ATLEAST 10-15 minutes so the muffins continue to set.  If they are not set, this recipe will not come out as desired.

After you patiently wait, carefully with a knife lift up muffins (they should be completely stuck together – see pictures) and place on a rack to cool if not serving right away.   I freeze these all the time, and defrost the night before I want to use them.  For a kid under 7, one muffin as a main dish is more than enough.  My husband will eat two at a time.  One would not be enough for him.  For me, one is fine.   Hence I often double this recipe and we eat a few and then we have lots to freeze later.

View after putting on the topping but before being baked.


View before the topping.


Done and now resting on a rack after staying in the muffin pan for 15 minutes.