Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ladies Fingers or Man's Toes

I made these for the first time a couple of years ago and they were fantastic! They kind of creep me out, especially the crunchy fingernails, but are super-fun. This was my first experience with boiling dough and it was not hard at all. This step is what makes them nice and chewy, like pretzels. I hope you give them a try. They are spooktacular. :) Happy Halloween!

taken from Martha Stewart website.

Makes 4 dozen.

  • Red or green food coloring (optional, for fingers)
  • 24 blanched almonds, halved lengthwise
  • 2 cups warm water (110 degrees), plus 3 quarts, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast (1/4 ounce)
  • Vegetable oil
  • 5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • Sea salt
  • Fried rosemary (optional, for toes)


  1. Place a small amount of food coloring, if using, in a shallow bowl, and, using a paintbrush, color the rounded side of each split almond; set aside to dry.
  2. Pour 2 cups water into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough-hook attachment. Add sugar; stir to dissolve. Sprinkle with yeast, and let stand until yeast begins to bubble, about 5 minutes. Beat in 1 cup flour into yeast on low speed until combined. Beat in coarse salt; add 3 1/2 cups flour, and beat until combined. Continue beating until dough pulls away from bowl, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup flour. Beat 1 minute more. If dough is sticky, add up to 1 cup more flour. Transfer to a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth, 1 minute.
  3. Coat a large bowl with cooking spray. Transfer dough to bowl, turning dough to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap; let rest in a warm spot to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a 6-quart straight-sided saucepan over high heat; reduce to a simmer. Add baking soda. Lightly coat two baking sheets with cooking spray. Divide dough into quarters. Work with one quarter at a time, and cover remaining dough with plastic wrap. Divide first quarter into 12 pieces. On a lightly floured work surface, roll each piece back and forth with your palm forming a long finger shape, about 3 to 4 inches. Pinch dough in two places to form knuckles. Or, to make toes, roll each piece so that it is slightly shorter and fatter, about 2 inches. Pinch in 1 place to form the knuckle. When 12 fingers or toes are formed, transfer to simmering water. Poach for 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fingers to the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough, blanching each set of 12 fingers or toes before making more.
  5. Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water. Brush pretzel fingers and toes with the egg wash. Using a sharp knife, lightly score each knuckle about three times. Sprinkle with sea salt and rosemary, if using. Position almond nails, pushing them into dough to attach. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool on wire rack. Fingers and toes are best eaten the same day; or store, covered, up to 2 days at room temperature.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rice Crispy Treats

I know it's just rice crispy treats, but sometimes a good recipe for a basic is worth it's weight in gold. That is how I feel about this one. These are the best rice crispies I ever had. Shawn is a huge fan of rice crispies. I made a pan today and the girls and I each had one. He ate the rest them. Literally- in front of the TV with the pan. So I figure if he likes them, they pass.

Rice Crispy Treats

7 c. crispy rice cereal
5 c. miniature marshmallows
5 Tbs. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
Dash of salt

In a large saucepan, melt butter, marshmallows, and salt over low heat. When melted, remove from heat and add vanilla. Stir to combine. Then add rice cereal all at once. Stir until well combined
Pour into a buttered 9x13 inch pan. Butter your hand and press cereal into pan until even and flat. Let cool. Cut and eat. Yum!
If you want really even, precisely-cut bars, after the cereal has cooled, gently work the whole pan of crispies out onto a cutting board. Using a very sharp knife, cut the bars evenly.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Halloween Mummies

I found this super fun photo/idea on Tastespotting and decided to try it for dinner. I have to admit I am very fond of these little guys. Aren't they cute?
This recipe was adapted from a recipe found on Cooking By the Seat of My Pants.

Halloween Mummies

4 jumbo hot dogs
1 can Pillsbury Grands biscuits
your favorite mustard

Cut hot dogs into thirds.
Take each biscuit from can and roll it out so that it is long and skinny. Using a pizza wheel, cut the biscuit into three long strips. Using two strips per hot dog piece, wrap dough around hot dog to resemble a mummy. Don't over think this people, just have fun, and leave a spot for the mummy to see through it's wraps.
Place wrapped hot dogs on a cookie sheet covered with parchment or a Silpat. If you don't have either of these, use a thin coat of pan spray. Bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 15 minutes, or until biscuits are golden brown. Allow mummies to cool on sheet for several minutes.
Using a toothpick, make little eyes on each mummy out of your favorite mustard.
Serve immediately with mustard and any other dipping sauces (my kids like ketchup). You could also use little smokies instead of hot dogs and take them to your party this year as an appetizer.

Yummy! These were a hit with the kids, and you can talk to your dinner while you eat it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Halloween Popcorn

My girls are really into after-school snacks. They like me to set up place mats, use folded napkins, and pretend like I am their chef/waiter. Here is a quick and easy snack I made the other day that was fun with Halloween looming so close.
There are lots of different colors of candy melts out there. This can be modified to work for any number of holidays.

Halloween Popcorn

5 cups air-popped popcorn-1/3 cup of unpopped kernels makes approx. 5 cups popped corn
1/3 cup each of orange and purple candy melts

Place candy melts in separate bowls and microwave for 30 seconds, or until melted to a nice pouring consistency.
Place popcorn in a large bowl. Pour one color candy melts ontp popcorn and toss with hands to combine. Let set up for 2-3 minutes. Repeat process with second color of candy melts. Let popcorn set up for about 5 minutes. My kids were impatient so I stuck mine in the fridge for about 2 minutes and that worked well.
Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cabbage Salad

Grandma was known for her salads. Any time we had a family dinner you can bet that there would be at least two salads to choose from. Here is one of my favorites. I used this as a side salad. If you want to make it a main course, add 2 cups of grilled, shredded chicken breast. Family members: this is slightly modified from the recipe in Grandma's Cookbook.

Cabbage Salad

1 medium head cabbage, shredded
6 green onions, sliced
1 pkg. slivered almonds, toasted
2-3 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds
1 pkg. Ramen noodles broke into pieces

Toast almonds: place almond in a single layer on a cookie sheet and brown for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Be sure to watch them. Remove from oven when they are a nice crisp brown. Let cool.

Combine all of the above ingredients in a large bowl and toss with dressing just before serving.


2 Tbs. sugar
1/8 c. vegetable oil
1/8 c. olive oil
2 Tbs. white vinegar
1 Tbs. rice vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
seasoning from Ramen noodles(I used chicken flavor)

Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk well to combine. Make sure the sugar is dissolved well. Pour on salad and toss before serving.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Tip from Grandma: Write Things Down

I don't know why it took me so long to figure this out: Don't be afraid to write in your cookbooks! I guess I was afraid to write in them for a long time. Grandma always told me to write things down about a recipe. It took forgetting important things time and time again before I got this figured out.
When I try a new recipe I like to write down what I liked about it, what I didn't like, what went well, what I could do better next time, even write down if the recipe is worth making again. This is a much easier way to keep track of things than trying to remember them. Besides I think it's really fun to go back through a cookbook and see what your first impressions were of a dish that has become a favorite, or how you have modified a recipe over time to fit your needs better. Thanks for a good tip Grandma!

Just as a side note: My grandma is gone now, but I find great comfort in looking at her handwriting. It makes me feel like she is in the kitchen with me. She also taught me that when someone gives you a recipe, keep it. You will enjoy looking at a loved one's handwriting someday, even if the spelling is not that great!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Baking Powder Biscuits

Today we spent the day working outside in the yard. Pulling out the garden, weeding, trimming, mowing. When we came inside I was tired and cold. I wanted something warm and comforting. So I made baking powder biscuits and we ate then for dinner. Ummm, and that's all. I figured it was a balanced meal because we put jam on them.

Baking Powder Biscuits

4 cups flour
2 Tbs. baking powder
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, cold, cut into pieces
2 cups milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl whisk together flour, powder, sugar, and salt. Cut in butter until the mixture esembles coarse crumbs.
Pour in milk. Using a spatula, fold milk into the dough, working to incorporate all crumbs, until the dough just comes together. The dough will be slightly sticky.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. With floured fingers, gently pat the dough into a round aobut 1 inch thick, pressing in any loose bits. Do not overwork the dough. Use a floured 2 1/4-inch round biscuit cutter to cut out the biscuits as close together as possible.
Place to biscuits on an unlined baking sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake, rotating the sheet halfway through, until the biscuits are golden and flecked with brown spots, 20-25 minutes. Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack to cool.
Serve with butter, jam, honey, etc.

We used apple jelly, apricot-almond jam, honey from Grandpa's bees (thanks Dad), and strawberry jam.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Whenever I hear the word croissant pronounced in it's true French fashion (kwɑːˈsɑːn) I always think of that song in The Little Mermaid: Les Poisson. Now I know that le poisson is French for "the fish" but it is the way that it is said, kind of like croissant, with that rolling R sound. The thing I always think of is the way the French chef laughs, "Hehehe, hawhawhaw". So whenever you see the word "Croissant" in this post you can think of me laughing "Hehehe, hawhawhaw"!

My dad lived in France for two years while on his mission. He talks about two things from that time: Sneaking into the Cannes Film Festival (that is a whole other story), and the French patisseries. He goes on and on about the flaky, buttery croissants. So I thought I would try my hand at making these little yummies.

Bread products in general are not my strong point. To be honest, anything with yeast scares me a little. So this was a good bread for me to take on. I had to face my yeasty fear straight on. It was not as hard as I thought, just very time consuming. So if you decide to try this out, I suggest doing it over two days, or taking one entire day. There is lots of waiting involved. The whole process was really quite fun and the croissants turned out flaky and buttery, crisp on the outside, airy and soft in the middle. Dad said they tasted like he remembers, so I will call this experiment a success!

recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook and The Professional Pastry Chef

2 cups cold milk
2 Tablespoons honey

4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 cup unbleached pastry flour

*NOTE: I used all purpose flour in place of both flours
1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 Tablespoons dry yeast
1 Tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 Pounds (5 sticks) butter, cold

Lemon juice
milk for washing prepared croissants

In a small saucepan, heat milk to 110 degrees. Remove from heat, then stir in yeast to dissolve. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Then add honey and stir to dissolve. Set aside.

Make the dough package: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine 4 1/4 bread flour, pastry flour, sugar, and salt. Add milk mixture and mix on low speed until dough just comes together, about 1-3 minutes.

Turn out dough on a lightly floured surface. Gently knead to form a smooth ball, about 1 minute. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour or overnight.

Make the butter package: Lay butter sticks side by side on a clean work space. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup bread flour, and several drops of lemon juice. Work flour and lemon juice into butter by kneading it against the work space with your hands. Do not use a mixer. My butter was chilled but slightly softened, about the consistency of the dough. Shape butter into an 8-inch square (I got my ruler out and measure). Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
Remove dough package from the refrigerator; place on a lightly floured surface. Roll out to be a 16x10 inch rectangle- again I measured, about 1/2 inch thick, with the short side facing you. Remove butter package from the fridge; place on the bottom half of the dough. Fold the dough over butter packet, and pinch around the edges to seal butter in. By the way I am sorry you all have to look at my ugly counter top all of the time. Some day we will do something about that. . .

Roll out the dough to a 20x10 inch rectangle about 1/2 inch thick, keeping corners as square as possible. Remove any excess flour with a dry pastry brush.
Starting at a short end, fold the rectangle into thirds: fold 1/3 of the dough over the middle section, then fold the remaining third over both sections, brushing away excess flour as you go.

This completes the first of three turns. Wrap in plastic wrap and let dough rest for 1 hour.

After and hour, take dough out of fridge and unwrap. Position the dough so that the long side runs horizontally, roll the dough to the same size rectangle as before, fold, and make the second single turn. Chill the dough for 1 hour.

Repeat the steps above, making the last of the three turns. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Chill 6-8 hours, or overnight. I let the dough chill overnight then got up very early (think big yawns during church) to form and raise.

Turn out chilled dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll out dough to a 30x16 inch rectangle. If the dough is elastic, cover with plastic wrap and let rest in fridge for 10 minutes. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough in half lengthwise into two 30x8 inch rectangles. On top of each rectangle, mark every 4 inches. On the bottom of each rectangle mark in between the the upper marks (two inches) to form triangles. Cut dough into triangles. You can use a ruler to guide you.

Cut a 1-inch slit in the center of the base of each triangle. Now take a moment to feel bad for me. At this point it is 4AM and I am whimpering for my bed and half asleep.

To shape croissants, slightly stretch the two lower points of each triangle to enlarge the slit. Fold the inner corner formed by the slit toward the outside of the triangle. Roll the base of the triangle up and away from you, stretching the dough slightly outward as you roll; the tip should be tucked under the croissant. Pull the ends towards you to form a crescent.
Transfer each crescent to a baking sheet lined with parchment or a Silpat. Do not overcrowd on the pan. If crowded they will get overdone in the ends before they are fully baked in the middle.

Let croissant rise until they are slight less than double in size. Brush the croissants with milk,

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. I baked both pans at once, moving the lower pan to the upper rack and visa versa halfway through baking time. Transfer to wire racks to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature. Croissants are best if eaten within 6 hours of baking.

Croissants definitely take some time, but are so worth it if you are after a taste of the real thing. Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Tip from Grandma: Garlic

I love garlic.It is my go-to guy in the kitchen. I love the way it smells, I love the way it tastes. It wasn't always like this. I had never cooked with fresh garlic before Shawn and I got married. When we got married he brought two things with him Betsy (our '69 Ford Ranger that I am actually very fond of) and a garlic press. After that is was true love. But the problem is that I can rarely use a whole bulb of garlic before it starts to go bad. So here is what Grandma taught me:
Freeze it! Buy it on sale and get that good deal on a whole bunch of bulbs. Then when you get them home peel all the cloves (yes it takes some time and your hands will smell for a while, but it is easy with this tool) them throw all the cloves in a pint jar. Then close up the jar and put it in the freezer. The cloves won't stick together when they freeze and then you have garlic quickly and easily at your fingertips when you cook. A frozen clove only needs to sit out for about 30 seconds to a minute before it is ready for the press.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Turkey Noodle Soup

Oh man, a post about something besides dessert? I am branching out. This is a proud moment.
We went to my mother-in-law's house for dinner on Sunday. She had cooked a turkey and so kindly gave me the carcass. Hooray! Hmmm, how many people get excited over a turkey carcass? Me and my dad's dog. I boiled the carcass (yuck) in enough water to just cover it for about an hour. Then I strained the liquid and was left with a beautiful stock for soup (Yum).
So if you are lucky enough to get your hands on a fresh turkey carcass, make yourself some yummy, hearty soup!

Turkey Noodle Soup

1 quart turkey stock
2 cups turkey- diced
2 cups celery- diced
2 cups carrots- diced
1 medium onion- diced
1 recipe fresh pasta- see post below
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil celery, carrots, and onion in just enough water to cover until fork tender. Add turkey stock, turkey and bring back to a boil. Add noodles and boil for 4-5 minutes more, stirring often. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I like mine with lots of pepper. Enjoy!

Pasta Making Basics

Making fresh pasta is fun! I love to use the noodles in soup. So yummy! I was surprised how easy it was to make pasta the first time I did. You don't need a pasta machine to make fresh noodles.

Fresh Pasta

2 cups flour
4 large eggs

1) On a clean work surface, mound flour and make a well in the middle. Crack eggs into the well.
2) Beat eggs with a fork until smooth, then begin to work flour into eggs with a fork.
3) Use a bench scraper to work in the rest of the flour. If you don't have a bench scraper, use one of those annoying fake credit you get in the mail. Make sure it is good and clean first.

4) Once dough is incorporated well, work the dough with hands to form a rounded mass for kneading. Knead about 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. If dough is sticky, add more flour.
5) Cover dough with a bowl and let rest 1 1/2 hours. This is very important. The dough needs to relax to be workable. I learned this the hard way. It really acts like a rubber band, shrinking right up, if it is not rested.

6) Divide dough into quarters. Working with one quarter at a time, roll dough into a very thin circle, about 1/16 of an inch. Let rest if it pulls back.

7) Lightly fold sheets one at a time into thirds. Cut with a knife or a pizza wheel into desired thickness. For fettuccine, about 1/4 inch strips works well.
If you have a pasta machine, follow the manufacturer's directions. I rolled my dough to a 5, then used the fettuccine cutter.

At this point you can do several things: Hang the noodles on a rack to dry or prepare them for immediate use or freezing. If you are going to use or freeze the noodles, after you finish with each batch mix the noodle gently in a large bowl with enough flour to keep them from sicking together. You will use lots of flour here. Use flour each time you add new noodles to the bowl. This will keep them from turning into a blob.
You are done! To cook, boil noodles (at a full rolling boil) for approximately 4 minutes stirring often. Toss with your favorite sauce and enjoy!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Name Change

I decided to change the name of this blog from Grandma's Cookbook to The Orange Apron. It may be a silly reason, but I felt like if it was call "Grandma's Cookbook" everything I posted should come from Grandma's cookbook, and I wanted to be able to post new things I try. Besides, the cookbook was a pretty special thing we did together and I kind of want to leave it alone.
So, The Orange Apron it is. If Grandma was in the kitchen, she had on her apron. So the idea is to become a good enough cook that I could wear an orange apron and own it.
I hope this is not confusing to anyone- not like I have that many(if any) followers, but let me know if there is any problems.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Peach Pie

Looking back over past posts. . . I seem to have an affinity for the sweet. It can't be helped! So chalk up another post to the sweet things in life.
My husband LOVES fresh peaches. When they come on every year we get a bushel to bottle and a bushel (yes a bushel) to eat. I make my man a pie every year then fight him for a piece. I think this recipe is super yummy. Just be forewarned: pie crust is not my forte but this one from Martha Stewart seems to work well even for me. Oh yeah, be sure to serve this with a good vanilla ice cream.

Peach Pie

5 c. fresh peaches–peeled and sliced
3/4– 1 c. sugar
3 Tbs. flour
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Dash of salt

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Gently pour into prepared pie crust (recipe below). Dot with 2 Tbs. butter. Dash with cinnamon sugar. Lattice top the pie crust. Bake 45 minutes at 400°, until golden brown. I recommend putting the pie on a cookie sheet to bake. The juices often run over and can make a real mess of your oven.

Easy Pie Crust

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 sticks chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
ice water

To make the dough, mix flour, salt, and sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Cut butter into pieces. With a pastry blender, cut in butter, working until mixture resembles coarse meal.
Add 4 Tbs. ice water; work with hands until dough comes together. If dough is still crumble, add more water a tablespoon at a time (up to 4 more tablespoons). Do not overwork.
Divide dough in half, and flatten halves into disks. Wrap disks separately in plastic. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.
To form pie shell, roll the dough on a floured surface into a 14- inch round. Wrap around rolling pin and carefully unroll over a 9-inch pie plate.
Fit gently into bottom and side of plate. Use kitchen shears to trim dough to a 1-inch overhang; fold under; and seal to form a rim.
Crimp rim with fingertips and knuckle. Repeat around entire edge of pie crust.