Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mushroom Pot Pie with 3 Ingredient Crust

Pot pie is one of my favorite comfort foods. This meatless version is features a tender crust, nourishing vegetables, and a rich gravy. 

Pot pie is a simple dish, consisting of two parts: a stew and a crust.

You can use any kind of stew that you like. In this recipe, I'm using a mushroom stew.

Pie crust is an art. My recipe calls for only 2 ingredients and a little water. A remarkable pie crust takes a bit of practice, but is a skill worth acquiring. 

For a vegan version, use a vegan butter substitute in the crust.

1/4 cup olive oil
6 carrots, sliced
1 potato, cubed
1 onion, diced
1 pint mushrooms, sliced
pinch of salt
1/4 cup flour
1-2 vegetable bouillon cubes or soup base to taste
approximately 2 cups water
1 bag frozen peas

Heat oil in a large pot. Cook carrots, potato, onion, and mushrooms till tender. 

Sprinkle vegetables with flour. Cook and stir over high heat for 2 minutes. 

Add bouillon cubes or soup base. Slowly stir in enough water to make a gravy. 

Cook and stir until gravy is thick and bubbly. 

Stir in peas. Remove from heat. Set aside. 

2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup butter or substitute
1/4 to 1/2 cup water, or as needed

The key to a good pie crust is cold butter. Real butter is quite hard, which makes for a fine crumb and a tender crust. Substitutes tend to be softer, resulting in a pastier crust. If possible, you may prefer a stick form over a tub, or chill it in the freezer before beginning. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, mash butter into flour with tips of fingers, pastry cutter, 2 butter knives, or a fork. Continue mashing until fine crumbs form. These tiny chunks of butter will melt in the oven, creating flaky, buttery layers. Avoid using the whole hand, as the heat will melt the butter.

Add in water, 1 TBS at a time. Gently stir until a soft ball just begins to form. 

Turn out onto lightly floured surface.  Remove 1/4 of dough for top crust. If kitchen is warm, place in the refrigerator. Roll remaining dough out to the general shape or the dish, slightly larger than the diameter. Do not overwork the dough. Rolling it out twice or more will result in a tough, cracker-like consistency. 


Fold dough gently into quarters. Lift and place in the dish. Unfold. Press dough into bottom and sides of pan gently. If you have cracks or gaps, pinch the dough closed, remove excess dough from upper edges, and replace to fill gaps. Prick with a fork a few times. This crust does not have to be pretty. It won't show on the final pie. 

Prebake crust for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Dough should be firm, but not browned. 

Pour filling into pie. Roll out top crust. Place on top of filling. Score with a sharp knife to vent. 

Bake 15-20 minutes until top crust is golden brown. 

Cool 20 minutes. Serve hot and steamy. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Easy Homemade Vegan Hummus and Naan from Scratch

This simple meal takes little hands-on time, and makes a perfect, light summer dinner paired with a fresh Greek salad.
I had misplaced my recipe card, so I was looking online at various recipes. Naan is so simple, they must all be similar, right? Wrong. Most recipes called for 10 different ingredients, including yogurt and ghee, and required up to 4 hours of preparation time.
What. No. Here's my one-hour, 4 ingredient recipe. The easy-to-remember ratio is 4: 2: 1: 1


4 cups flour of your choice. I use bread flour.
2 cups warm water
1 tbs yeast
1 tsp salt

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together. Stir until a soft dough form. If dough is dry, add a little warm water. If dough is wet and sticky, add a little flour. 

Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise 45 minutes to 1 hour. 

Turn out and work the dough with a little flour until it's nice and smooth. Do not overwork. Let rest. 

Heat a skillet, griddle, stove top grill, or fine mesh bbq grill. Or whatever. A flat heat source of your choice. 

If necessary, brush surface with oil to prevent sticking. 

Pinch off small handfuls of dough. Work each one into a large, flat oval or circle, like a little crust. Place on hot grill or pan. If will cook and rise very fast. Less than a minute on each side. Remove to a tray and allow to cool slightly. 

Serve warm with hummus. 

Place cooled leftover naan in a large freezer bag. Store in freezer. When ready to use, reheat in 375 degree oven for 10 minutes, or in microwave for 30 seconds. 


In my little town, hummus is a specialty item and sells for around $1 an ounce. This is crazy to me, because where I grew up, it's as common as peanut butter. It's essentially seasoned, mashed beans, and costs less than $2 a pound to make. 

1 pint (or one can) cooked chickpeas (garbanzos)
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp tahini, or substitute peanut butter, soy nut butter, sunbutter, almond butter, or any other nut or seed butter you prefer
drizzle olive oil
pinch salt, to taste

Start by cooking dry chickpeas. I use a crock pot or pressure cooker, depending on how far in advance I plan. Cook the whole pound and freeze all but one pint in canning jars or freezer bags.

Or use a can. 

Place all ingredients except olive oil in blender jar or food processor. Add a little of the liquid from the beans, to help it move. Blend until smooth, drizzling a little olive oil until you have a nice, creamy texture. 

Spoon into a bowl and serve warm with fresh naan. 

Easy Homemade Scented Play Dough

Play dough is so easy to make, smells better, feels better, and costs almost nothing. You can make it with items you already have in your pantry. 

The ingredient list is out of order, because the ratios are easy to remember- 2: 1: 1/2: 1/2.
2 cups flour- all purpose or bread flour work well
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cooking oil
a few drops of food coloring of your choice
Scents listed below (optional)

In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients. 

Add oil, boiling water, color and scent (if desired). Stir until a soft dough forms. Knead until smooth, adding a pinch of flour if needed. 

Dough will be very soft and warm. It will firm a bit as it cools. 

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Because there are no preservatives, dough is not shelf stable. 


You can any essential oil, extract or candy flavoring that you like. Here are some of our favorites.

Tangerine Essential oil
Lavender essential oil
Peppermint essential oil or extract
Rose essential oil
Lemon essential oil
Orange essential oil
Grapefruit essential oil
Spice blend scented oil
Blueberry scented oil
Cinnamon scented oil
Chocolate scented oil
Citrus spice scented oil
Vanilla extract
Almond extract
Coconut extract
Lemon extract
Butter flavoring
Chocolate mint flavoring
Apple flavoring
Grape flavoring
Cherry flavoring
Watermelon flavoring