That being said, my time in the kitchen is often more like the challenge round in Double Dare (see-now you know how old I really am). I have to get in, complete the task and feed the family in an unspecified amount of time before our little Dragon in Training (DIT) bursts into alertness with crying. I may have an hour to cook; I may have 15 minutes.
I'm glad I put up some meals in the freezer ahead of time but that cache is now depleted and don't even mention baking. All my years of culinary work in pastry and baking and I'm lucky if I get a pan of rice krispies together for the crew.
Which is actually what led me to think about the recipes that manufactures print on their packaging to help the consumer think of the product as versatile and indispensable. It reminds me of the post-war boom of marketing launched by convenience foods and name brands like Betty Crocker, Duncan Hines and Pillsbury. Cake mixes, proof-n-bake rolls, dough in a tube. Meet George Jetson.
Some of the recipes found on the packaging are actually pretty good, even the off-brands from the store have some interesting ones. That's not to say that I'm about to give up on baking from scratch. But in my quest for balance in the my universe, I am willing to take short cuts now and then if it means happy kids or a few extra minutes to sit at the table while they talk about their day. They don't need to see my mad baking skills every day to know I'm awesome, right? They'd probably much rather have me give them rice krispy treats while we discuss the finer points of season 2 of the Muppet Show.
For this reason, I'll be adding a new segment to this blog that includes manufacturer's recipes; look for posts labeled "On the Back of the Box" for this group. And don't expect the big name brands either--they have their own websites (and payrolls of which I am not on). I'm taking on some of the lesser known products out there.
And today's might be the easiest of them all...mini pies.
You need two ingredients: pre-made pie crust and a can of pie filling.
(1) Preheat your oven to 350 and pull out a couple of baking sheets. Either line the sheets or spray them with pan spray.
(2) Roll out the pie shell slightly--I made the mistake of trying to get more out of the dough than I should have and then my dough was too thin and split a little. Just sprinkle a little flour over the counter and on top of the dough and roll the dough enough to get any creases out.
(4) Place the dough rounds on your baking sheets.
(6) Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. You may want to rotate the sheets in the oven for more even baking.
(7) If you like, brush the mini-pies with some confectioner sugar/water glaze when they come out of the oven and are still hot. You'll get that shiny glaze on them as they cool that way.
Okay, not exactly rocket science, right? But for 20 minutes of work you have a cute little treat that you can pack in lunches, use for breakfast or an after-school treat. You could also serve them two at a time with a scoop of ice cream on top for a twist on a la mode. Have fun with the little guys-that's what they are for.