Sunday, August 25, 2013

Perfect Pie Crusts and Yummy Hand Pies

Even as a fairly adept baker, pie crusts always intimidated me. Finally, in an effort to move away from pre-made, packaged foods, I started learning the ins and outs of pie crust making. After much trial and error, and several burned, tasteless, or dry crusts, I've finally come out on the other side with a pie crust that's easy and versatile.

I choose to make mine with whole wheat/spelt flour. You can use any flour you prefer to make these.

This recipe makes ONE pie crust. For a two crust pie, double the recipe. 

Perfect Pie Crusts

1/2 cup local raw organic unsalted butter
1 c. organic wheat flour
1/2 c. organic spelt flour
1/2 tsp salt
(for sweet pies, add  up to 1tsp-1TBSP organic whole cane sugar)
1/2 c. ice cold water

Make sure you start with ICE COLD water. Keeping the butter cold assures a flaky crust. Sift all dry ingredients together into a bowl. Mash in butter until mixture is very crumbly. Add water, 1TBSP at a time, until mixture holds together. It may take less than 1/2 a cup. Kneed just enough to press together. Do NOT overwork or crust will be dry and tough. Refrigerate apprx 30 mins to make rolling it easier. Remove from fridge and turn out on lightly floured surface. Gently roll out as needed.

I love to make turnovers with them! Roll it out, cut out circles, fill, fold, and bake! I sprinkle herbs on each circle for savory pies, or cinnamon sugar on each circle for sweet pies. Here's two of my favorite turnover recipes. I like to make large amounts and then freeze some for an easy dinner/dessert later. Just freeze individually on a tray and then place in ziplock to store until ready.

Spinach Feta Turnovers

Organic Local Raw Butter
Organic Chopped Spinach
Chopped Onion
Minced Garlic
Juice from half a lemon
Pie Crust
Herbs of choice

Melt butter in saucepan.
Saute spinach, chopped onions, and minced garlic until soft. Add dill and lemon to taste. Remove from heat. Gentle stir in feta (I prefer herbed feta).
Cut circles out of pie crust (I usually do about 6-8 inches across) and sprinkle with herbs.
Place spoonful of spinach feta mix inside.
Fold circle in half and seal the edges with the tines of a fork.
Brush tops with egg white. Cook in 350 degree preheated oven until crust starts becoming firm and light brown. Do not overcook. Times will vary based on size of turnovers, amount of filling, elevation, etc. Mine typically take about 16 minutes. Just watch closely.

Apple Hand Pies

4 organic granny smith apples - 
     peeled, cored and sliced
2 tablespoons local raw organic butter
1/2c to 1c brown sugar
1 tsp- 1 TBSP ground cinnamon to taste
1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder

1 tablespoon water
Organic whole cane sugar
Pie crust
Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add sliced apples and let cook 2-4 minutes.
Add brown sugar and cinnamon and stir until well combined.
Mix cornstarch and water and add to pan. Cook until sauce thickens, 1-2 minutes.
Remove from heat and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut circles from pie crust (apprx 6-8 inches across) and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Brush tops with egg white and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake in preheated oven until crust begins to firm and turns light brown. Do not overcook! Time will vary based on size, amount of filling, etc. Mine typically take about 16 minutes.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Sack Lunches- the Whole Food, Eco-friendly Way!

Although my son is not in school (and in fact, may never really be), we pack a lot of sack lunches for hikes and adventures, as well as the rare days he goes to someone else. Being so heavily invested in our minimally processed, low sugar, natural lifestyle, it's hard for me to trust others to make healthy food choices for him. The first time I sent him to a sitter at a year and a half, she fed him hot dogs, microwave popcorn, and ritz crackers. I was pretty upset, but I recognize that those are 'normal' foods for much of the population! To keep it from happening again, I always pack a full meal!

I spent a lot of time looking into and trying out different options for eco-friendly lunches. Stainless steel lunch boxes. Plastic bento boxes. Tupperware individual containers. PUL/cotton reusable snack/sandwich bags. There are so many options! We ended up with several different things that I use together depending on what our daily needs are.

Here's an example of what a fully packed lunch looks like in this house, along with links to products I find helpful!

 Food contents: 
Spinach, chard, and feta hand pie, hummus, sprouted lentils, homemade trail mix, Annie's graham bunnies, Simply Sprouted Way Better Snacks Multigrain Tortilla Chips, Clif Kids ZBar, Plum Organics baby food pouch, Justin's Almond Butter Packs, and an Almond Breeze 11oz Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk.

Recipe for Spinach Feta Hand Pie:

 (All Packed Up And Ready To Go!)

Way Better Snacks- Whole Grain Tortilla Chips:

Annie's Graham Bunnies:

Almond Milk- Shelf Stable- 11oz option:

Rubbermaid Lunch Blox Sandwich Kits:

Bamboo Utensils in Eco-friendly Recycled Carrying Case with Carabiner:

Kid Kanteen Stainless Steel Sippy Cups:

Toxin-free Eco-Friendly Reusable Cloth Snack and Sandwich Baggies in CUTE designs:

Silicone Baking Cups:

Amazing Stainless Steel Bento Boxes (Pricier but worth the money!)