Reuben Sandwich Casserole

A lot of people are familiar with Reuben sandwiches. For those of you who aren’t, they’re the ones that are made with sauerkraut, corned beef (sometimes pastrami), Swiss cheese, Thousand Island dressing and rye bread.

I’ve had my share of restaurant Reubens over the years,  but my preference always has been the homemade variety.

Just the other night for supper, Therese fixed a variation of the old standby. She called it a Reuben sandwich casserole. She got the recipe from a co-worker of hers, Mary Sphlical. Basically, it’s a Reuben sandwich that is baked in the oven like a casserole.

Following is a recipe for the casserole, although I’m not sure if it’s exactly the same as the one we used. This one was printed in the Lifestyle section of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette back in 2002.

A couple of things cooks will like about the recipe are how the melted Swiss cheese helps the bread cubes stick in place and the sauerkraut on the bottom layer ensures that servings are easy to get out of the casserole dish.

Also, find a recipe for a slimmed-down version of the Reuben that was featured in the Kansas City Star in 2007.

Reuben Sandwich Casserole
1 32-ounce bag sauerkraut, well-drained
1 pound deli-style corned beef, chipped
8-ounce bottle Thousand Island dressing
1 pound sliced or cubed Swiss cheese
12 slices rye bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place a layer of sauerkraut on the bottom of a 13-by-9-by-2-inch casserole. Top with a layer of corned beef. Pour the dressing evenly over the beef. Sprinkle on the cheese to cover.
In a large bowl, toss the bread cubes with the melted butter to coat, then press the bread cubes gently onto the cheese layer. As the cheese melts, it will help the crispy bread cubes adhere.
Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Let cool slightly, then cut into portions.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8.

Slimmed-Down Reuben Sandwich
2 slices EarthGrains Pumpernickel Rye bread
2 tablespoons of homemade Thousand Island dressing (recipe follows)
4 slices Sara Lee Corned Beef
¼ cup well-drained sauerkraut
2 Kraft Swiss 2 percent Milk Singles
Cooking spray
Heat a griddle to 350 degrees. Spread 1 tablespoon of dressing on 1 slice of bread, then layer on the corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. Spread the remaining dressing on the other slice of bread and put the sandwich together.
Spray the griddle lightly with cooking spray and cook the sandwich for 2 to 4 minutes on each side, until the cheese is melted and the bread is browned and crisped.
Serve immediately.
Yield: 1 sandwich.
Approximate nutritional analysis per sandwich: 415 calories, 12.3 grams fat, 39 grams carbohydrates, 2,164 milligrams sodium, 4.1 grams fiber.

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing
1 cup light mayonnaise
¼ cup ketchup
¼ cup chili sauce
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1/8 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Blend all ingredients in a bowl, then refrigerate the dressing in a sealed container for 24 hours before serving to allow the flavors to blend.
Yield: Makes about 1¾ cup dressing.
Approximate nutritional analysis per 2-tablespoon serving: 75 calories, 3.3 grams fat grams, 2 grams carbohydrates, 114 milligrams sodium, 0.1 grams fiber.

Get the Blues

We have a bowl of oatmeal just about every morning. One of Therese’s favorite things to do with hers is to add some fruit. During the summer, she uses fresh raspberries. Recently, she’s been into raisins.

Another of her favorites is frozen blueberries. She’ll be happy to know that the most-recent issue of Health magazine have named wild blueberries as one of the Top 10 Superfoods for Women. Specific health benefits highlighted include improving motor skills, preventing memory loss, lowering blood pressure and fighting wrinkles.

This recognition comes on the heels of several additional studies that also have found and/or promoted specific health benefits offered by wild blueberries for both men and women (including guarding against cell damage associated with heart disease, cancer, damage from stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and the effects of aging).

Another nice thing about wild blueberries is the frozen version is just as nutritious and tasty as fresh ones. 

Blueberries aren’t just for snacking or using in your morning bowl of oatmeal. They go great in salads such as the following that also contains grilled chicken breasts, strawberries and gouda cheese.

Blueberry Salad
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Olive oil for grill
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup blueberry vinaigrette (recipe follows), plus extra for grilling
1 large head of romaine lettuce, shredded
1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds
¾ cup blueberries
8 to 10 strawberries, sliced
½ cup shredded aged gouda
Prepare grill. Rinse chicken breasts under cold running water, then drain and blot dry with paper towels. When ready to grill, brush grill grate with olive oil. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and arrange breasts in same direction on hot grate.
Grill for 2 minutes. Using tongs, rotate breasts 45 degrees and grill for 2 to 4 additional minutes. Turn breasts, brush cooked side with blueberry vinaigrette and grill, rotating breasts 45 degrees after 2 minutes. Remove breasts to a platter and cool.
When ready to serve, toss lettuce with vinaigrette in a large salad bowl. Arrange almonds, blueberries, strawberries, cheese and chicken breast on lettuce, season with salt and pepper and serve.
Note: To toast almonds, spread nuts on a baking sheet and bake 3 to 4 minutes in a 350-degree oven.
Blueberry Vinaigrette
¼ cup champagne vinegar
¼ vanilla bean
¼ cup honey
1 cup blueberries
2 tablspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 medium shallot, diced
2½ teaspoons kosher salt
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon lemon zest
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup olive oil
1 cup corn oil
1 tablespoon shredded fresh mint
Pour vinegar into a small saucepan over medium heat. Split vanilla bean. Scrape seeds into vinegar and add vanilla bean to vinegar. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low and reduce vinegar/vanilla mixture by half. Remove (and discard) bean, cool mixture and reserve.
In a blender, combine vinegar, honey, blueberries, lemon juice, shallot, salt, mustard, lemon zest and black pepper and blend until smooth. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil and corn oil.
With blender on low speed, slowly drizzle oils into blender until smooth. Stir in mint. Transfer vinaigrette to an airtight jar and refrigerate at least 2 hours before using. Vinaigrette may be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks; shake before using.

Super Healthy Chili

It would be a safe bet to assume most people who are hosting a Super Bowl party will have chili on the menu. And you can be sure that no two of them will be exactly alike.

That’s the way it is with my chili. Some has meat. Some doesn’t. Some has beans. Some doesn’t. Some is tomato-based. Some isn’t.

In my versions that have meat, it could be ground or chunked, preferably bison, venison or elk. Sometimes, it’s chicken or pheasant. And if it’s a chili with beans, they could be kidney, red, black, garbanzo, navy or pinto.

As you can see, I believe in variety.

Another thing that’s important to me is eating healthy, which brings me to an interesting chili recipe that came via e-mail from registered and licensed dietitian Susan Burke March, author of "Making Weight Control Second Nature: Living Thin Naturally." 

Susan is a certified diabetes educator who has authored more than 400 articles, has served as chief clinical nutrition manager at Mount Sinai Hospital in Queens, N.Y.,  is a media spokesperson for the Florida Dietetic Association and recently completed a two-year elected position as secretary for the Weight Management Dietetic Practice Group, a professional practice group of the American Dietetic Association.

Along with the chili recipe, Susan offered some tips for healthy football-friendly fare if you’re planning a Super Bowl get-together. Among them:

  • Always choose baked chips instead of fried. Tortilla chips and potato chips come in different baked flavors and saves up to 30 percent of the calories of fried chips. Fat-free or reduced fat does not mean calorie free … watch your portion size.
  • Serve bean dip instead of regular sour cream dip. Only 46 calories per 3 tablespoons compared with more than double for full-fat sour cream.
  • Nuts are nutritious, but they add up quickly. Serve a giant bowl of air-popped popcorn sprayed with butter-flavored cooking spray and sprinkled with dehydrated butter granules … such as Butter Buds or Molly McButter. This is delicious with only 60 calories for 3 cups, only a trace of fat and about 10 grams of sodium. You save 280 calories, 28 grams of fat and 330 milligrams of sodium over the regular microwave popcorn.
  • Replace fried mozzarella sticks with chicken skewers. They’re really popular and always great party food. You can buy them already prepared (especially at warehouse grocers) and save 188 calories, 9 grams of fat and 546 milligrams of sodium over the same sized portion of fried cheese.
  • Serve a healthy submarine sandwich. Whole-wheat hero rolls give you that extra added fiber and nutrition (not to mention taste!) compared to white bread. Layer on turkey breast, lean roast beef or lean ham, shredded lettuce and tomato slices; slice into 2-inch portions and serve with sliced onions and pickles.
  • Keep the calories low by using low-fat mayonnaise and naturally low-calorie ketchup and mustard. Fat-free dressings should be offered … the new varieties are so good, you won’t miss the fat.
  • Imbibe with caution, because those brews add up! One regular beer ranges between 150 to 200 calories; instead serve light beer … only about 100 calories per bottle. A 5-ounce glass of wine has about 100 calories, as does one ounce of alcoholic spirits such as vodka, gin or scotch. Serve a variety of diet sodas, flavored club sodas and keep a big cooler with individual bottles of spring water.
  • Don’t forget … substituting juice for regular soda is like substituting regular sour cream for mayonnaise … you’re not going to save calories. An 8-ounce glass of juice, unsweetened, has about 120 calories. Offer club soda with a splash of 100 percent juice and a piece of fresh lemon or lime for a lower calorie refreshing beverage.
  • Dips: Any dried dip mix will do, but instead of regular sour cream, add ½ cup of nonfat sour cream, ½ cup of nonfat mayonnaise and ¾ cup of diced fresh tomatoes, ¼ cup of chopped green onion and ¼ cup of chopped ripe olives, rinsed and drained. Mix and refrigerate for ½ hour before serving.
  • Crudites: Everyone like crunchy veggies, especially with a tasty dip. Buy prewashed and cut-up veggies and you’re ready to go … zero prep time.

Here is Susan’s chili recipe, which looks like a winner.

Susan’s Weight-Wise Chili
1 pound 97 percent lean ground beef or turkey or firm tofu, drained
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green pepper, seeded and diced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 28-ounce can tomato puree (no salt added)
1 15 ounce-can each kidney beans, white beans and pinto beans-rinsed and drained
3 small-medium baking potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
2 tablespoons chili powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
2 cups water
In a large, nonstick saucepan over low-medium high heat, heat olive oil. Add garlic and cook until just softened.
Add the onion and pepper and cook 2 more minutes; then add the ground meat or crumble in the tofu: cook about 5 minutes.
Drain off fat if using meat; add pureed tomatoes, canned beans, potatoes, seasonings and water.
Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for approximately 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
For thinner chili, add a cup of broth, wine or water.
Serve with a tossed salad.

Traditional Mexican

I haven’t been to the new Mexican restaurant in Grand Forks, Mi Mexico, but from most of the comments to a poll question on the Herald’s Web site, it sounds like a pretty good place to eat.

I’m a big fan of Mexican food, especially the traditional kind. Don’t get me wrong, there are some really good dishes at the other Mexican restaurants in town, but none of them really features authentic Mexican food.

A few years back, there was a traditional Mexican restaurant in East Grand Forks, and I really enjoyed the food there. But after less than a year, it went belly up. The food there reminded me of some I had eaten years ago at a mom-and-pop place in Topeka, Kan., and another in Grand Junction, Colo., where my brother and sister-in-law live.

For those of you who can’t wait to check out the Mi Mexico’s traditional food, here’s a recipe for sopes, corn tortillas filled with a spicy black bean spread, roasted chicken, lettuce and cheese.

Although they are usually served as appetizers in Mexico, this adapted recipe for sopes is a meal in itself.

Mexican Sopes
2 teaspoon canola oil
½ cup diced red onion
4 6-inch corn tortillas
½ cup black bean dip
1 cup ready-to-eat, shredded lettuce
¼ cup shredded reduced-fat Monterey jack cheese
¾ pound roasted or rotisserie chicken breast, skin and bones removed
1 cup tomato salsa (your choice)
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the diced onion until it starts to shrivel, about 2 minutes. Remove to a bowl.
Return the skillet to the burner over medium heat. Add the tortillas and warm for half a minute. Turn them over and spread with the black bean mixture. Sprinkle each with onion, then layer with lettuce, cheese and chicken. Remove to dinner plates. Spoon salsa on top or serve on the side.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 489 calories, 21 percent of calories from fat, 11.3 grams fat (3.2 grams saturated), 105 milligrams cholesterol, 52.8 grams protein, 44.1 grams carbohydrates, 10.2 grams fiber, 1,210 milligrams sodium.

A Bowl of Green

Chili always is good bet when the weather turns nasty. Nothing tastes better than a bowl of some piping hot chili when the wind is blowing new-fallen snow around, making for blizzard conditions.

I’d be making chili today if Therese hadn’t made a tasty batch yesterday. Hers isn’t quite as spicy as mine, but it’s pretty darned good, especially when she puts cornbread on top of it like she did.

My idea of chili is a lot different than that of most people. I think something can be chili if it has beans in it. (Texans won’t agree.) And you don’t have to have red meat to make it chili. (My editor doesn’t agree.) To me, there’s nothing wrong with chicken or turkey in chili.

The following chili recipe doesn’t contain beans but does have chicken. It’s not quite as spicy as I’d prefer, but you can kick it up a notch by adding some jalapenos.
Green Chili with Chicken
8 New Mexico or poblano chilies
2 jalapeno chilies (optional)
¼ cup olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 14-ounce cans chicken broth|
1 14½ ounce can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ cup whipping cream or half-and-half
2 tablespoons cornmeal
Chopped chilies, crumbled Mexican cheese, chopped onion, minced cilantro, salsa
Heat the broiler or a heavy skillet over medium heat; roast the chilies, turning, until blackened on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plastic or paper bag; set aside to cool. Peel away blackened skins. (It’s OK if some charred bits remain.) Seed chilies; chop. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in onions, garlic and cumin; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and tender, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the chicken into ½-inch square pieces; transfer to the Dutch oven. Cook, stirring once or twice, until chicken is opaque, about 8 minutes.
Add chicken broth, tomatoes, oregano and reserved chilies. Increase heat to high; heat to a boil. Cover; reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 50 minutes. Stir in cream and cornmeal; cook 10 minutes. Pass the garnishes at the table.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 299 calories, 43 percent of calories from fat, 14 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 66 milligrams cholesterol, 13 grams carbohydrates, 29 grams protein, 780 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

Shrimp — It’s in the Bag

Sometimes when looking for an idea of what to fix for supper, the first place I head is the freezer. A lot of times, there are things in there that I’ve forgotten about.

Actually, I should say freezers because we have four.

Why four, you might ask. Being an avid hunter and gardener, I need a lot of space to store things. While I do can some of my veggies, they all can’t all be saved using that method. And even though I’d like to preserve some of my game the same way, that has happened yet.

The other day, when perusing one of our freezers, I came across a couple of packages of frozen shrimp that was bought when they were on sale at my neighborhood supermarket about a month ago.

Frozen shrimp is great if you don’t have a lot of time. A bag will thaw quickly in a bowl of cold water and with a some seasoning and a quick saute, will go with just about anything.

So, with this in mind, I started to look for recipes. The following is what I decided to try. It’s a dish with roots in North Africa and makes use of three spices that appeal to me — coriander, cumin and turmeric.

North African Spiced Shrimp
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or 1 to 2 dried red chili peppers, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled
Juice of 1 large lime
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
Mix coriander, Aleppo pepper, cumin, ginger and turmeric in a large bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil; stir to combine. Add shrimp; toss to coat. Marinate 15 minutes, or in refrigerator 4 to 6 hours.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large heavy skillet over high heat; add shrimp in batches, discarding marinade. Cook until browned and opaque throughout, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer cooked shrimp to a large bowl. Toss with lime juice; season with salt.
Yield: Serves 6.
Note:Can be served with rice.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 166 calories, 37 percent of calories from fat, 7 grams fat (1 grams saturated fat), 224 milligrams cholesterol, 1 grams carbohydrates, 24 grams protein, 343 milligrams sodium, no fiber.

A Classic Combo: Cabbage and Sausage

One of my favorite things to eat is any kind of sausage and sauerkraut. For example, I find it hard to resist a brat with sauerkraut when it’s available at a sporting event or summer picnic. Occasionally, I’ll have throw a ring of elk sausage in my Rival Crock-Pot with some homemade sauerkraut.

I really like that combination of sausage and cabbage. I think it’s one of the classics. Maybe that because of my northern European heritage. But maybe not. I know a lot of people who share my fondness for the two.

Recently, in one of my Chef Jeff One Byte at a Time items in the daily Herald, I featured a hearty cabbage skillet supper recipe that also contained sausage. As is the case with some of the recipes in the column, I hadn’t tried it yet but had hoped to sooner rather than later.

A couple of days after it was in the Herald, a women who exerices at my gym, Shirley Kieffer, told me she fixed the recipe and really liked it. That sealed the deal. I had to make the dish soon.

And when I did, we weren’t disappointed. Therese said it reminded her of a Pennsylvania Dutch recipe she used to make. The only changes I made to the following recipe were to slice my sausage into thin pieces and sprinkle a bit of balsamic vinegar over the dish when it was served. We also had some toasted sourdough bread on the side to sop up some of the tasty juices.

If you’re a fan of sausage and cabbage, you have to try this recipe. If you’re not, I’ll guarantee you will be after sampling it. And it’s a perfect dish to kick the winter blahs.

Hearty Cabbage Skillet Supper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 16-ounce package coleslaw or 6 cups finely shredded cabbage
¼ to ½ cup chicken broth
1 apple, peeled, diced
4 precooked sausages
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat; add onions. Cook, stirring often, until onion softens. Add cabbage, ¼ cup of broth and apple. Cover; reduce heat to low. Simmer 5 minutes. Stir in caraway seeds, salt and pepper to taste. Arrange cooked sausages over cabbage. Add more of broth if needed. Cover; cook 5 minutes. Uncover; cook until broth is reduced, about 2 minutes; do not let veggies burn.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 241 calories, 50 percent of calories from fat, 14 grams fat, 45 milligrams cholesterol, 17 grams carbohydrates, 15 grams protein, 407 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.
 

 

‘Fabulous Bean Soup’

Any day is a good day for soup. And if you add fresh bread to the mix . . .

Our Relay for Life committee sponsored a soup and bread fundraiser this week. Featured soups included tomato, chicken tortilla, vegetable beef and my Czechoslovakian cabbage. We raised more than $200. It was a nice way to celebrate Soup Month.

Recently, I solicited Herald readers to send my any good bean soup recipes. So far, I’ve received only one, but it looks pretty good. It came to me from Lorraine LeBlanc of Grand Forks. She wrote:

"If you want to try a fabulous bean soup, here’s a great recipe from Ginger Tryznka, who’s the librarian at Valley Middle School. The lentils make it creamy. Most of the beans can be found at Amazing Grains, or if you can’t find one, just leave it out. The bean mix can be packed into bags and given to friends, or buy less of each."

The soup contains about dozen kinds of beans as well as three kinds of peas and barley. Apparently, Ginger likes to purchase a pound of each ingredient, mix them and then put them in pint jars, which is what is called for in one batch of soup. I can’t wait to try some.

Here’s Ginger’s recipe, along with the list of beans and peas she uses. 

Ginger’s Fabulous Mixed Bean Soup
1 pint bean mixture
1 tablespoon salt
Water to cover bean mixture
8 cups water
1-pound ham hock (optional)
1 teaspoon ginger
1 large onion, chopped
Salt to taste
1 28-ounce can tomatoes, whole or diced
Juice of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove
1 red bell pepper, chopped
Wash 1 pint of bean mixture (see list below). Cover with water. Add 1 tablespoon salt. Soak overnight. Drain beans and rinse. Put in large pot with 8 cups of fresh water, ham hock and ginger. Cover and simmer 2 hours. Add onion. Simmer another ½ hour.
Add tomatoes, lemon juice, garlic clove and red bell pepper. Remove ham hock, cut meat into small pieces and return to soup. Simmer until ready to eat.
Yield: 3 quarts.
Note: For vegan, use vegetable broth, onion, garlic, extra salt, and maybe a dash of Tabasco sauce.
Bean Mixture
For 17 pints, mix 1 pound of each: black beans, baby lima beans, navy beans, great northern beans, small red beans, kKidney beans, mung beans, barley, Anasazi beans, lentils, black-eyed peas, green split peas, yellow split peas azuki (or adjuoki) beans and pinto beans.
 

Old-Fashioned Pot Roast

You can hardly beat an old-fashioned pot roast dinner. There’s nothing like coming home and walking into a house that’s filled with the aroma of a roast and vegetables slow-cooking.

I just love it when were having an elk roast with potatoes, carrots, potatoes and a little onion and Therese calls to tell me that the house smelled so good when she came home from work.

At exercise this morning, the subject of roasts came up. Joan Dondoneau, who along with her husband, Vern, go to the same fitness facility as me, wanted to know what would be better, a roast marinated in bourbon or one in burgundy pepper. She said there was an advertisement in the paper from a local supermarket for both.

My preference would be the one in burgundy, since wine is a favorite of mine when I make a roast. About a half-cup of wine along with the juice of my canned carrots makes an excellent base for gravy, I told Joan.

I like to fix my roast in a Dutch oven, but for the busy cook, a slow cooker is just the ticket. You can put all the ingredients in the slow cooker in the morning before work and come home at night to a wonderful meal. And if you have a slow cooker with a removable insert, you could even assemble this on a weeknight, chill it overnight and turn it on before you go out for the day.

Here’s a recipe for a pot roast dinner using a slow cooker. f you don’t have one, you can make this in a Dutch oven and cook in the oven for about 2½ hours at 325 degrees.

Old-Fashioned Pot Roast
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 beef chuck roast, 2½ to 3 pounds, trimmed
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup beef or chicken broth
2 tablespoons quick-mixing flour, such as Wondra
8 red potatoes, halved
8 small carrots
2 yellow onions, quartered
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
Combine the all-purpose flour, salt and pepper to taste in a large resealable plastic bag. Add the meat; seal. Shake until evenly coated.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add the meat. Cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the broth and quick-mixing flour in a small bowl until smooth. Transfer the meat to a slow cooker.
Arrange the potatoes, carrots and onions on top of the meat; pour in the broth mixture and vinegar. Cover; cook on low until the meat is very tender, about 8 hours. Skim off fat.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 578 calories, 33 percent of calories from fat, 21 grams fat (6 grams saturated), 98 milligrams cholesterol, 54 grams carbohydrates, 42 grams protein, 560 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber.

Pie for Pie Day

Have you made a pie lately? If you the answer is no, Saturday might be the perfect day to do so. That’s because it’s National Pie Day.

But if you’re unsure that you can do it, the American Pie Council (www.piecouncil.org) offers tips, award-winning recipes and discount coupons on its Web site that can help anyone bake a homemade pie.

The APC, an organization committed to maintaining America’s pie heritage (it offers personal, professional and commercial memberships) even suggests sharing a a homemade pie with a friend, a soldier or loved one as a way of saying thanks.

And if you really want to get serious about pies, there’s the three-day APC/Crisco 2010 National Pie Championships on April 23 to 25 in Orlando, Fla. Last year, more than 170 judges graded pies created by 138 bakers who entered 465 commercial, 130 professional and 266 amateur pies.

Emile Henry USA, makers of the finest quality ceramic bakeware and gourmet cooking products, has returned for as the "Official Pie Dish" of the National Pie Championships. Each junior, amateur and professional competitor receives an Emile Henry ceramic pie dish, valued at $45 each. Best of Show winners in the amateur and professional divisions will each win $5,000, a new Sears Kenmore range and a Crisco gift basket, while the top winner in the Junior Chef division receive a $2,000 Crisco college scholarship and a Crisco gift basket. First-place ribbons and bragging rights will be awarded to Commercial Division winners.
To enter, APC members pay $15 per pie entry for amateurs and $20 per pie entry for professionals. Nonmembers pay $35 per pie entry for either category. Junior entries are free. 
For more details, to become a member of the APC or to register for the National Pie Championships, go to APC’s Web site.

Here is a recipe that was an amateur Best of Show winner.

Peanut Butter Pie
CRUST:
1 1/3 cups finely crushed vanilla wafers
2 tablespoons sugar
½ tsp vanilla
1/3 cup melted butter (unsalted)
Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl until blended; pour into a 9-inch pie dish sprayed with Crisco cooking spray. Press into the bottom and sides; bake in a 350 degree oven for 8 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool.
PEANUT BUTTER FILLING:
¾ cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup Jiff creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons softened butter (unsalted)
¼ cup chopped peanuts (save small amount for garnish)
Mix first 3 ingredients in a small bowl. Spread into the bottom of cooled pie shell and sprinkle with peanuts.
FILLING:
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon Pillsbury All-Purpose Flour
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups milk
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
¾ cup Jiff Peanut Butter
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
6 small (0.55 ounces) frozen Peanut Butter Cups, chopped
In medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, flour and salt over medium heat. Gradually stir in milk until smooth; bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in 1 cup of hot filling into the beaten egg yolks. Return all to saucepan, stirring constantly. Return to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and peanut butter. Let cool, fold in 5 chopped peanut butter cups. Pour into cooled pie shell. Garnish with whipped topping and remaining chopped peanut butter cups and remaining chopped peanuts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOM’S CHEERY CHERRY CHERRY BERRY PIE

Crust:

One and one-half cups of flour
One-quarter tsp baking powder
One-half tsp salt
One tsp sugar
One-half cup Crisco shortening

Mix all ingredients in a stand mixer on medium speed swiftly until crust appears “pea like.” Carefully sprinkle ice cold water in crust mix until it just starts to be fully moistened and gathers together. Pat into disc, wrap and refrigerate for at least one half hour. Roll out on floured surface and make and crimp piecrust. Freeze until ready to use.

Filling:

Four and one-half cups Montmorency tart cherries –frozen
One cup sugar
One-quarter cup cornstarch
One-half tsp real almond extract
One tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
One-half tsp orange zest
One-half cup dried Michigan cherries
One and one-half cups of frozen blueberries

Combine frozen cherries, dried cherries, sugar, cornstarch. Stir constantly on med-hi heat until boiling. Add blueberries. Boil for one minute or until thickened. Add almond extract, lemon juice and zest. Pour blueberries in bottom of pie shell and pour cherry mixture over them.

Crumb Topping
One cup sugar
One cup all purpose flour
One-quarter tsp salt
One stick butter softened

Mix together all crumb topping ingredients by hand or a pastry blender until crumbly.

Cover filling with crumb topping. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 45 minutes to one hour or until filling is bubbling over crust.