Sunday, December 13, 2015

Secret Chef Strawberry Hand Pies

Two-Bite Strawberry Hand Pies
Author: Kelly Jaggers 

Prep time: 20 mins Serves: 30


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 T orange zest
2 T sugar
1 t. kosher salt
1 cup butter (2 sticks) cubed and chilled
3-6 T ice water

2 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
2 T packed light brown sugar
1/4 t. cornstarch
1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 cup diced fresh strawberries

1 egg beaten well
1/3 cup coarse sanding sugar 


1. Begin by making the crust.

2. In a large bowl combine the flour, orange zest, sugar, and salt. Whisk to combine, then add the cubed butter. Using your fingers rub the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like coarse sand studded with peanut sized pieces of butter. 

3. Add 3 tablespoons of ice water and gently mix the dough with your hand until it forms a shaggy ball. Add more water, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough lightly, about 5 times) then form the dough into a disk and divide into two pieces. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes, or up to three days.

4. While the dough chills prepare the filling.

5. In the work bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or in a medium bowl with a hand mixer, combine the cream cheese, sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the diced berries and mix until some of the berries are gently mashed but the mixture is still chunky, about 20 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and chill for 15 minutes.

6. Heat the oven to 350 F. 

7. Once chilled pull one half of the dough out of the refrigerator and let stand for 5 minutes to warm up. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to 1⁄8-inch thick, about a 12-inch circle, turning the dough often to make sure it does not stick. Dust the surface with additional flour if needed. Use a 2-inch biscuit or cookie cutter to cut out circles of dough. Cut as many as you can, you should be able to get at least 20 from the first roll, and arrange then on a parchment lined baking sheet. Gather up the scraps, press into a disk and chill for 20 minutes, then roll them out and cut out the remaining dough circles. Repeat this with the second dough ball.

8. To assemble the pies begin by placing a heaping 1⁄2 teaspoon of the filling into the center of 30 of the dough circles. Gently brush the edges of the pastry with beaten egg, then top with a second dough circle, gently pressing around the edges to help the dough adhere. With a fork crimp the edges of the pies to seal. Brush the tops of the pies with beaten egg, then dust with the sanding sugar.

9. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the pies are golden brown all over, and the bottoms of the pies are deeply golden. Cool to room temperature on the baking sheet before serving.

Secret Chef Chai Cake

Chai Cake with Honey-Ginger Cream Frosting.....Mmmmmmmmmmm!

Makes an 8-inch triple layer cake; serves 12-16
  • 1 and 1/3 cups of milk
  • 6 chai tea bags, without added sweetener, such as Tazo
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 2 and 3/4 cups of cake flour
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 4 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 8 ounces of unsalted butter at room temp.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees F.
  2. Grease the bottom and sides of the pans and line with parchment paper. Grease the paper as well.
  3. In a small saucepan bring the milk to a simmer over low med-low heat. Add the tea bags, careful not to let the paper tag fall into the milk. Remove from heat and allow the tea to steep for 5 minutes. Remove the teabags and squeeze out the milk. Let the chai milk cool completely.
  4. In a medium bowl mix the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, and 1/3 cup of the chai milk. Whisk together.
  5. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt in the bowl of a mixer. Beat on low for 30 seconds. Add the butter and the remaining chai milk, on med-low speed.
  6. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg mixture in three additions scraping the between additions. Divide the batter evenly among the pans.
  7. Bake the cakes for 26-28 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes.Remove cakes from pans and peel off parchment paper. Cool completely.
To assemble the cake place one layer flat side down a serving plate and top with 2/3 cup of icing. Spread to the edge and repeat with second layer. Place third layer on top and spread the remaining ginger cream on top allowing it to drizzle down the sides of the cake like icicles.

Honey-Ginger Cream


2 and 1/2 cups of confectioners sugar  Opt: decreased to 1 1/2 cups
6 ounces of cream cheese at room temp.  Opt: increased to 9 oz 
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter at room temp.
1/2 cup of honey (any kind as long as liquid)
1/2 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger  Opt: substituted w. 1 1/2 tbsp finely minced crystallized ginger

Place all the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse to blend together, then scrape the sides of the bowl and pulse until smooth.
Please try this today and tell me what you think.
Secret Chef
As usual, use the comments below to confess.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Secret Chef Olive Garden Pasta Alfredo

I tried this recipe I found on Pinterest last night and it was fabulous, my family loved it and it was so simple. I also served it with thinly sliced chicken breasts or your favorite vegetable.

Give it a try!!!

My secret ingredient is sugar, it really brings out the balance of flavors and punches up the sauce to another level and that makes this simply delicious! 
But remember, keep it our secret. 

Copy Cat Recipe - Olive Garden Pasta Alfredo

  • Saute chicken breasts, mushrooms or broccoli
  • Pasta
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 1 pint of heavy cream
  • 1 cup of Parmesan cheese (shredded)
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (opt)
  • salt and pepper (I ended up adding about ½ teaspoon of pepper but that is just me)
  • salt the pasta water and add  a little pasta water to the sauce.
  1. Make pasta according to package directions.
  2. In a sauce pan over medium heat - melt butter and add garlic and cook for two minutes.
  3. Add cream and cream cheese and heat till bubbling ( not to the point of a boil)
  4. Add in parmesan cheese, sugar, salt and pepper to taste and mix until the cheese melts and becomes thicker.
  5. Add a little pasta water for the right consistency because this sauce thickens as it cools.
  6. Mix the sauce with the pasta and serve with sauteed chicken or vegetables such as mushrooms or broccoli.

Note: I sliced chicken breast into thirds, seasoned them lightly with salt, pepper and truffle salt. Then I sauteed them in olive oil and butter, and served them over the pasta.  

Please post your secrets in the comments below.

Secret Chef