Monday, October 1, 2012


This past weekend was my Father's birthday.  Happy Birthday Dad!  His favorite meal is my Mother's Sweet and Sour Chicken and he can't resist a homemade pie.
 The best part of this recipe is the homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce.  You could put this sauce on anything and it would taste good! The sauce was made on Friday afternoon and put in the fridge.  My Mom taught me when preparing for a party or feeding a large crowd to prepare anything I could ahead of time.  This cuts down on stress on the actual day!  Sunday turned out to be a giant gathering, fantastic celebration, and great food!

I got this recipe from my Mom who got it from a friend the first year she was married. She got married in the earliest of the early 1970's. So, people...this is a "retro" recipe.  It is made the way things are suppose to be made.  Back when there wasn't a restaurant on every corner.   
Sweet and Sour Chicken
1 ½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons oil, divided
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 small onion cut in wedges
1 small green pepper cut in chunks
1 large carrot sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 small tomatoes cut in thin wedges
2 cups fresh cubed pineapple  or 1 cup pineapple tidbits, drained,
(reserving liquid for Sweet and Sour Sauce)
2 cups steamed rice
1 cup Sweet and Sour Sauce  (recipe to follow)
Combine chicken cubes with soy sauce and salt; mix well.  Coat chicken evenly with the cornstarch.  Fry quickly in 2 T. of the oil and 2 T. of butter until lightly browned and cooked through.  Remove chicken from the pan and reserve.  Add the rest of the oil and butter into pan and quickly fry the onion, green pepper and carrots for about 3-5 min. until slightly crisp, but not cooked thru.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook another minute.  Add Sweet and Sour Sauce and pineapple; heat thoroughly.  Carefully stir in the chicken and tomato wedges; cook until heated and coated with sauce.  Serve immediately on hot rice.  If desired, pass additional Sweet and Sour Sauce.  Serves 4.

Sweet and Sour Sauce
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup red wine vinegar
½ cup orange juice
½ cup pineapple juice (drained from pineapple tidbits)
1 can (6 ounce) tomato paste
Blend sugar and cornstarch.  Stir in vinegar, fruit juices and tomato paste with a whisk.  Cook stirring constantly, until thickened and glossy.  Unused portion can be covered and refrigerated for later use. 
For dessert...PIE!
Macadamia Nut Cream Pie
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
dash salt
2 cups hot milk (microwave for 4-5 minutes)
3 slightly beaten egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla 
1       (4.5 oz.) can macadamia nuts, chopped
1 to 1-1/2 cups whipping cream, whipped
1 (9”) baked pastry shell, cooled

Whisk sugar, flour and salt together in a saucepan; whisk in hot milk gradually until smooth.  Cook over medium high heat, stirring continually (I like a flat edge wooden spoon) till bubbly.  Cook and stir for two minutes.  Remove from heat.

Whisk small amount of the hot mixture into egg yolks; then more; immediately return to hot mixture; whisking to avoid lumps; cook and stir 2 minutes. Remove from heat.  Add the butter and vanilla.

Now, set aside to cool completely.  This is important: remember to cool completely and whisk often to keep the filling smooth.
While the filling is cooling, chop the macadamia nuts
(a food processor is easy and quick) and whip the cream.
When the filling is completely cooled fold in the whipped cream and half the macadamia nuts.  Pour into the cooled shell and top with the remaining nuts.  Chill for several hours before serving.

If you are a lover of cream pies...this is one you have to try!!!  It is DEE-LISH!

NEVER MADE A PIE CRUST BEFORE???...THEY ARE EASY!  It takes less time to make a homemade pie crust than actually driving to the store to buy one.  PLUS...they taste WAAAAYYY better!

I have watched my Mom make pie crust for years!  She is quite proud of her pie crusting skills, she learned from watching her Mother and Grandmother.    I am glad I have learned my pie skills from generations of THE best pie makers ever!  Each one dedicated to "flaky" crust!  This is the recipe my Great-Grandmother gave my Mother:

Pie Crust
Half as much shortening as flour
and half as much water as shortening.

I know all this sounds difficult and too tricky to bother with.  But don’t be frightened.  After a few tries it is quick and easy and everyone will think you are a genius. She taught me that making pie crust was more in the technique than in the recipe.  This is what my Mom taught me:

For one single crust pie shell
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup, chilled Butter Flavor Crisco
¼ cup (approximately) ice water

For one double crust pie:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup, chilled Butter Flavor Crisco
½ cup (approximately) ice water

Mixing the dough:
Cut the shortening into the flour and salt with a pastry cutter until course and crumbly, like the size of peas.  Cut half of the mixture into a more fine texture.  The combination of the coarse and fine textures will yield a tender crust. 

 Add the ice water a little at a time and stir with a fork until it starts to ball up.  Add just enough water in small increments until it all begins to come together.  Form into a loose ball, handling it as little as possible.  Cover and chill until you are ready to roll out your crust.

Rolling out the dough:
Flatten ball gently on a lightly floured surface by pressing with edge of hand 3 or 4 times across in both directions.  Now with your rolling pin, roll dough gently from center to edge till it is about 1/8 inch thick. Notice the "marbling" of the dough benieth, this is what creates a flaky crust.

For a single crust pie shell:  Fit pastry into pie plate without stretching (stretching it will cause it to shrink during baking); trim with a knife or kitchen shears ½ to 1 inch beyond edge; fold under and flute edge by pressing together. 

 Prick bottom and sides well with fork.  (If filling and crust are baked together, do not prick.)  Bake at 450 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or till golden.

For a double crust pie:   Trim lower crust ½ inch beyond rim of pie plate.
Pour in whatever filling your recipe calls for.  Cut slits in top crust. Lay top crust carefully over filled pie shell.  Trim ½ inch beyond edge.  Now tuck top crust under edge of lower crust.  Pinch together gently and flute edge.  Brush lightly with milk and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake according to recipe instructions.

 Mom taught me some "secrets" to a great pie crust:
Keeping the pastry ingredients as chilled as possible will yield the best results.  I always keep my shortening in the refrigerator, so I am always ready to make a crust.  You never know when you will need one!

Freezing or thoroughly chilling an unbaked pie crust is a good thing to do.  You can pop it right into the preheated oven and it will come out great.

I use a cloth pastry sheet and a pastry sleeve on my rolling pin so I don’t have to worry about using too much flour or about the dough sticking.

Handle the dough as little as possible.  Over handling it will make it tough.  Be careful not to over work the dough.

Sometimes the fluted edges of the pie brown too quickly.  So part way through baking you can put strips of tin foil around the edges to protect them from getting too brown.
All this to tell you...Sunday Dinner Was Good At My House! ENJOY!

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