Monday, July 6, 2009

Convenience foods, an alternative

Mmmmm....I love me some easy food. Whip it out from the freezer, toss it in the microwave or the toaster oven. A few minutes later, you have food. Okay, maybe not healthy food, but food!

Yeah. But with kids home all summer, and the busy-ness of life, healthy foods kinda go out the window. Needing a solution?

Make your own meat pies! It's old skool, but a good solution. You can fill them with whatever you want, lunch fillings, breakfast fillings, or fruit fillings to make fruit pies.

I am not a baker. Particularly pie crusts. But I found a good recipe that is very forgiving.

Fool-Proof Pie Crust
4c flour
1 3/4 c shortening
2t salt
1T vinegar
1 egg
4T cold water
-Mix together the flour, shortening and salt with a fork until crumbly and well blended.
-Mix the egg, vinegar and cold water in a bowl and add to flour mix. Add more water if needed to make it clump together. When mixed, should be the consistency of play dough.
-Makes enough for two top and bottom crusts.

*I have made this dough a few times, and have never had to add any extra liquid to it. This dough is forgiving, and you can re-roll it if you need to. Be sure to use lots of flour to coat your surface when rolling.

*Today, I didn't have shortening. I did have lard (shocker, but yes, I cook with lard for certain things, like re fried beans), so I used a cup of lard, and 3/4 cup of butter as a substitute. The dough turned out just fine, even with these substitutions.

-I made a sloppy joe mix for some of the meat pies.
-I also made scrambled eggs with potato's and cheese, a bit of cheese to top 'em.
-Lastly, fruit pies with some homemade jam I had in the fridge. I wasn't about to waste any pie dough!

*I used a small bowl to cut circles, put a spoon or two of filling on one half, dipped a finger into water to cover half the circle edge, folded the circle to match the edges and pressed to crimp them. Doesn't need to be perfect! I then put them on a sheet pan in the freezer, freeze them until hard, and then transfer the pies into a freezer bag and label with the filling type.

All told, I ended up with about 25 different small pies. To cook, I heat up the toaster oven to 350 degrees and put one or two frozen pies in for about 10 minutes, checking after 5 minutes to see how they are baking. The fillings are completely cooked, so you are just baking the outside and warming the fillings.

Yes, I spent a few hours making these things today, but now I get several guilt-free meals where I don't need to think about what the kids are eating. And that makes me very happy!

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