Pie Crust

This is my recipe for pie crusts. I’ve used this recipe for most of my 55+ years of marriage and it hasn’t let me down yet. But there were times when I turned to Pillsbury prepared pie dough and with NO GUILT! The whole idea is to make a yummy pie to bless your family and friends.

The edges of your crusts don’t need to look perfect – or they might not look home-baked. The torn places are no problem – just press the dough together and patch with pinches of dough where needed. I do brush the edges with an egg wash before baking (1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water) … it gives the crust a beautiful shine.

Roll the dough around your rolling pin and it will lift easily into your pie dish.
After forming the dough into the pie dishes, freeze them. Wrap with two layers of plastic wrap – they will keep well for 2 months. You can see where I pinched and patched my shells.

Pie Crusts

Yield: 5 pie shells (8, 9, or 10-inch)

4 cups flour

1 tablespoon sugar (optional)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 cups Crisco (or half Crisco and half butter or all butter)

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 egg

Egg Wash: 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water

  1. Stir together flour, sugar, and salt. Add Crisco and use a pastry blender or fork to cut it into the flour until the mixture looks mealy. The pieces of Crisco should be pea-sized or so.
  2. Beat together water, vinegar, and egg. Add to the flour mixture and stir in with a fork or spatula until it holds together in a ball. You might need to add a few extra drops of water, but not usually.
  3. Form dough into a large, round disk and cut into 5 equal wedges. Use immediately or wrap and freeze for later.

Chicken Pot Pie

This is a recipe I love to share with as many busy cooks as possible. Except for the deli chicken, you can have all ingredients waiting for you in pantry or fridge. It’s hearty enough for big eaters while being kid-friendly enough for even picky eaters. Most kids love chicken and the yummy Alfredo sauce is comfortingly creamy.

We’ve made all kids of additions and substitutions to the filling recipe. My most recent is adding 1/2 cup frozen pearl onions. The frozen ones I find at my Walmart are really nice. The are all the same nice little marble size, and they are already blanched and peeled. That is huge.

I like to use a peeled red bell pepper in place of the pimentos. I burn the pepper under my broiler on a piece of foil. When it’s burned on all sides, gather the foil up and around so it can steam inside. After a few minutes you can peel, seed, and chop.

My friend, Cindy, adds sautéd celery and mushrooms. Some moms make it with green beans because that’s what their kids will eat.

Yield: 1, 9-inch pie to serve 4 to 6

About 1/2 fully-cooked deli chicken, meat taken off the bones

1, 15–ounce jar Alfredo sauce

½ cup frozen peas and carrots

2 tablespoons chopped pimentos

Salt and pepper to taste

Pinch of dried thyme

1 package Pillsbury pie crusts or your own recipe for 2-crust pie

1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg glaze to brush on top crust

  1. Preheat the oven to 375º. 
  2. Stir together chicken, Alfredo sauce, peas and carrots, and pimentos. Stir in salt, pepper and thyme.
  3. Line a pie pan with one piece of the pie dough. Fill with chicken mixture. Top with remaining piece of pie dough and crimp the edges. At this point you can also decorate with extra crust. Brush on egg glaze. Bake 35 minutes or until crust is golden brown and pie is hot and bubbly.

Huevos Rancheros

Cook this fabulous dish over coals, on the grill, or stovetop. Use a large skillet, or in this case my paella pan.

Huevos Rancheros

Huevos Rancheros
Yield: 7-8 servings

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
3 cloves garlic, chopped
4 large tomatoes, diced
3 roasted poblano chiles, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 chipotle chile, chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon chili powder
½ teaspoon cumin
Chicken stock as needed
7 – 8 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste
8 crispy corn tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 – 1 ½ cups prepared pico de gallo
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

  1. Heat oil in skillet and add onions and garlic; cook and stir 3 – 5 minutes until soft. Add tomatoes, poblano, chipotle, chili powder, and cumin. Mix well and cook until tomatoes start to break down and become a salsa-like consistency. If salsa becomes too thick, stir in a little chicken stock. Break eggs on top of salsa; cover skillet and cook 10 – 12 minutes, until eggs are done to your preference. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. To serve, spoon a cooked egg, along with some of the salsa, on crispy tortilla. Top with cheese, pico, and cilantro.

Caramelized Pearl Onions from Trish Gomez

Every year I seem to discover a “break-out” recipe. This is definitely a winner for this year. Thanks to my wonderful, lovely friend, Trish, for sharing this dish with me. It sparked lots of chatter on FB, and she is gracious to let me post it here.

All my family went crazy over it at Thanksgiving. Wanted to just roll around in it! It is a beautiful dish and I served it in my cute iron skillet to add even more visual appeal.

I can imagine that it will go fabulously well with grilled steaks. Sweet Bill spooned it on top of his mashed potatoes. My dear gluten-free girl also spooned the sauce on her potatoes and I think on her cornbread dressing.

So I’m thrilled to get to share Trish’s recipe with you. Enjoy and let me know how you serve it.

Yield: 6 – 8 servings

Judie’s note are in parentheses.

2 pounds pearl onions or boiler onions (I used boiler onions)

1 stick butter

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I used 2 teaspoons dried thyme instead of nutmeg)

1 teaspoon salt or to taste

1/2 teaspoon pepper or to taste

3 cups heavy cream

  1. Peel onions: Bring a saucepan of water to a rolling boil and add onions. Simmer 1 minute, then remove onions with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice water. Use a paring knife to cut the root end off each onion, then pinch each one at the stem to slip it off. You can use a paring knife to remove the skin if it doesn’t slip off easily. Note: if you use frozen pearl onions, you can skip this step since they are already peeled.
  2. Melt butter in a skillet and when hot, add onions. (I did this in two batches to keep the onions in one layer.) Slowly cook until onions are becoming golden brown. Stir gently only when they are ready to turn. You don’t want the onions to completely fall apart.
  3. Add brown sugar, nutmeg (thyme), salt and pepper. Continue to cook onions until very golden and caramelized. (At this point I added about 2 tablespoons brandy and cooked it down a few minutes. This is not necessary.)
  4. Add heavy cream to the level of the onions. (I used extra cream since we like lots of sauce.*) Cook slowly until sauce is thickened and nice and creamy brown. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

*The amount of cream you use doesn’t need to be exact.


Pithivier with Chicken, Ham, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Herbs (Pee-‘tee-vee-a)

Yield: One, 9-inch pie with 6 – 8 servings

This simple-to-make French pie is beautiful and as delicious as it looks. Use store-bought puff pastry and it’s a snap to put together. This recipe is for a savory chicken pie and you can also make sweet pithiviers. One example is the apricot filling below.

1 package Pepperidge Farm puff pastry dough, defrosted

2 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion, chopped

2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cups chopped sun-dried tomatoes

2 tablespoons flour

1 ½ cups chicken stock

Meat from 1 deli chicken

About 6 ounces chopped ham 1 – 1 ½ cups

½ cup chopped, cooked red bell peppers and/or ¼ – ½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 egg, beaten

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, lightly roll one piece of puff pastry to about 1/8-inch thickness. Use a 9-inch cake pan to cut out a circle. Dock the surface (bottom crust). Repeat with remaining piece of puff pastry, except make this one 10 inches diameter and do not dock. Freeze rounds on prepared baking sheet while preparing filling.
  2. Filling: Heat butter in a large skillet and add onion; cook and stir until onions begin to soften. Add garlic and cook a few more minutes. Add flour; cook and stir a minute or two. Slowly whisk in chicken stock; bring to a simmer, and whisk at a simmer for a minute. Stir in chicken, ham, peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, thyme, and parsley. Refrigerate mixture until cold.
  3. Remove crusts from freezer and position bottom crust in center of baking sheet. (Set top crust aside.) Pile filling in middle of bottom crust, leaving a 1-inch border clean. Lightly and carefully brush just the top of this border with the beaten egg, being careful not to let the egg drip down the sides of the puff, which would seal the sides and keep the puff from rising.
  4. Now place the remaining round on top, carefully forming around the mounded filling. Press the two edges together lightly to seal. Use a paring knife to score the top crust in the traditional spiral pattern or crosshatch or a pattern of your choice. Make a hole in the very center of the top crust. Place in freezer for 30 minutes while oven preheats to 400º.
  5. Remove Pithiviers from freezer and brush the top with egg wash, again being careful not to let the egg drip down over edges of dough. Place in preheated oven. Turn oven down to 375º and bake until puffed and golden brown, about 45 minutes.


Apricot filling:

12 ounces dried apricots, chopped

1 cup water

½ cup sugar

Simmer apricots and water 15 minutes. Stir in sugar and return to simmer. Cover, simmer on low until very thick, about 15 minutes.

Pithivier constructed and ready for the oven.

Heavenly Yeast Rolls

Heavenly Yeast Rolls

Yield: 2 dozen large rolls, or more if smaller

½ cup warm water (Not over 110º)

2 packages dry yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup warm milk

½ cup melted butter

¼ cup sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

4 ½ cups flour

¼ cup soft butter

About ¼ cup vegetable oil


  1. In a mixer bowl, place the water and then sprinkle on the yeast and sugar. Stir mixture and then allow it to sit until bubbly. Stir in milk, 1/2 cup melted butter, sugar, eggs and salt, and mix well. Add flour and beat.
  2. Knead, either with a dough hook or by hand, until smooth and very elastic. The dough will be very soft. Cover and let rise until double, about 45 minutes.
  3. Stir down dough and turn out onto floured surface and knead several times. Roll out to about 1-inch thickness. Spread dough with ¼ cup soft butter. Fold dough over so butter is in the middle. Cut out rolls with biscuit cutter.
  4. Pour vegetable oil into a 9” x 13” baking dish. Place rolls in baking pan, turning over once to coat tops with oil. Let rise until double, about 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 375º and bake rolls 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Chocolate Pecan Pie

I learned this recipe from my daughter-in-law, Stephanie. The photo above doesn’t do it justice – it’s more beautiful than this! Take it out of the oven while it is still very soft in the center as it will set up as it cools. It will be moist, gooey, and scrumptious.

Yield: Yield: 1, 8-inch pie (Shallow pie pan. For deep dish pie pan, double the recipe.)*

1, 8-inch unbaked pie crust

½ cup butter

½ cup chocolate chips

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten together in a small bowl

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup coconut

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line an 8-inch pie pan with the pie crust. Refrigerate pie crust until ready to fill.
  2. In a saucepan or microwave-proof bowl, melt the butter.Add chocolate chips and stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into prepared shell. Bake 35 minutes.

Can be baked ahead and frozen. Wrap well (two layers plastic wrap and one layer foil), and freeze up to 2 months.

*This recipe, tripled, will fill two 9-inch pie shells.


Pie Crust

Judie’s Easy Pie Crust

Yield: 5 single pie crusts

4 cups flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1 ½ teaspoons salt

¾ cup butter

¾ cup shortening

½ cup water

1 egg

1 tablespoon vinegar

  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, and salt. Add butter and shortening and cut in until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together water, egg, and vinegar. Add to flour mixture and stir until mixture holds together. Dump out onto floured surface and use your hands to form into a round disk, about 1-inch thick. Use a pastry cutter or knife to cut disk into 5 even pieces. Form each piece into a flat disk and wrap with plastic wrap.
  3. Refrigerate dough at least 20 minutes before rolling out, or freeze to use later.

Chocolate Ganache


Chocolate Ganache

It’s easy to make any cake look totally “Hollywood,” when you frost it with Chocolate Ganache. It doesn’t have to be a three-tired Groom’s cake. It can be a single-layer cake you just whipped up. Or even cupcakes.

My recipe is simple … just two ingredients; heavy cream and semi-sweet chocolate. My recipe calls for 2 pounds of each, but you can use any amounts. The formula is equal parts heavy cream and chocolate.

I usually make more than I think I will need, and freeze the extra. It’s very convenient to have ganache on hand for last-minute desserts. Heat to a liquid and drizzle over pudding, ice cream, or just about any dessert.

Chocolate Ganache

Yield: enough to fill and frost 2-layer, 9-inch cake

2 pounds quality chocolate, chopped or 2 pounds chocolate chips

2 pounds heavy cream

  1. In a heavy saucepan, heat chocolate and heavy cream until chocolate is melted. Beat with a wire whisk for at least 1 minute to insure every bit of chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. If there are bits of chocolate left, the ganache will be lumpy.
  2. Cool to room temperature. Ganache is now ready to be used as frosting.

Tips: Use a kitchen scale to measure the chocolate and the heavy cream. Chocolate recommended: Ghirardelli chocolate chips.
If finished ganache is not thick enough, place bowl of ganache over second bowl of ice and beat with a metal spatula until thickened.


When first melting the chocolate into the heavy cream, it will look swirly. Keep stirring.

When the mixture looks completely mixed, I whisk for about 1 minute to make sure all lumps of chocolate are melted.

Beautiful! When the mixture comes to room temperature, it will have the consistency of frosting. If it is a little thin, place over a bowl of ice and beat a few minutes to help the ganache set up.


Spaghetti Sauce

Judie’s Spaghetti Sauce

Yield: 6 – 8 servings

As my granddaughter, Taylor, says, “A recipe is just a guideline.” Especially true of my sauce recipe. The amounts don’t need to be exact. You might not have Italian sausage – Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage is fine. You might need to stretch the amount and add extra tomatoes. You can add more red wine, or leave it out. I bet you end up making this your own version!

It’s an all-purpose sauce. Use it as-is on spaghetti, as sauce for Chicken Cacciatore, on meatball sandwiches, or wherever you need Italian sauce. In my kitchen, leftover sauce often finds its way as a base for vegetable soup (non-vegetarian).

Freezer in freezer bags up to 2 months.

1 pound Italian sausage (hot or mild or a mix)

1 pound ground chuck

1 onion, diced

2 – 5 cloves garlic, finely minced (amount depends on your taste and size of cloves)

1, 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1, 12-ounce can tomato paste

1 tablespoon dried Italian mixed herbs (or several tablespoons chopped fresh herbs*)

1 tablespoon A-1 Sauce

1, 10 ½ -ounce can beef broth

½ cup red wine

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Cook sausage and ground chuck in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, chopping with a spoon or spatula as it cooks. When meat is almost done, drain off fat and liquid. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is tender.
  2. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, A-1 Sauce, beef broth, and red wine. Simmer on low heat for 30 to 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

*Such as rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil, savory, marjoram.

Extra: Depending on what I’m using this sauce for, who will be eating it, and what I have on hand, I like to add capers (about 1 tablespoon), Kalamata olives, and/or extra slivered garlic.