How to make a delicious, hearty winter dinner of Pastie (meat pie)

Pastie with gravy

Everyone has the dishes they love from their childhood. The one or two meals that just bring back great memories and makes you feel good when you eat it. For me, one dish is called “Pastie,” pronounced [pass-tee].

The dish, which originated in England, can be made two ways: a smaller, filled hand pie or a standard pie, like the one my mom made. It’s filled with any spiced meat, onion and potatoes. It can be fried or baked. The hand pie version is apparently very popular in Michigan and Cornwall, England.

I’ve made some changes to my mom’s recipe by adding in some extra spices and pouring over gravy when it is served, but the essence of the original dish I grew up with is there.

Here’s what you need.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pie crusts (store bought or homemade)
  • 1 pound ground beef, cooked and drained
  • 3-4 larger red potatoes, diced into 1 inch chunks
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 tbsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Worcestershire sauce – add to taste (optional)
  • Soy sauce – add to taste (optional)
  • 1 packet of brown gravy, prepared separately

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a sauté pan, pour in olive oil and add onion. Cook onion until softened, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Remove onion and garlic from the pan into a separate bowl. Add in ground beef and cook until browned. Drain excess fat from ground beef and add back in the onions and garlic. Add in the potatoes, salt, pepper and spices. Cook until the potatoes start to become translucent.

While the mixture is cooking in the sauté pan, prepare the pie pan by placing one of the unbaked pie crusts in the bottom of the pie dish.

Once the potatoes are just starting to cook, place all the filling into the crust and top with second pie crust. Crimp edges, slice a vent into top of pie to allow steam to escape and place in oven to bake for 30-35 minutes.

If the pie crust starts to brown too quickly, you can place aluminum foil over the top to stop the browning.

Once baked, let cool for 10 minutes while you prepare the brown gravy. Slice into pie pieces and serve with gravy on top.

Enjoy!

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How to bake my version of Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies in a whole new way

You might be surprised to know that my chocolate chip cookie recipe is based off the classic Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. How could it not be?

The original version are so absolutely delicious and it is how I learned to make them and find my passion for baking.

Over the years, after making a recipe time and time again, you tweak things to make it your own.

Here’s my way to make these cookies – and my signature way to bake them: in a muffin tin!

Ingredients

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix together butter and the two sugars until just combined, but not grainy or lumpy. Add in the 2 eggs and the vanilla. Mix together until eggs are incorporated. Add in all of the flour, baking soda and salt and mix carefully until incorporated. Mix in the chocolate chips with a hand mixer – and be a little rough so that some of the chocolate pieces may break, this adds more flavor and more pieces.

Spray a standard size, 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray. Using a 1.5 tablespoon scoop, place cookies into the muffin cups. Flatten out to scoop just a bit so it reaches the edges of the cup.

Bake 8-10 minutes until the edges are golden brown and the center is just set. Let the cookies cool in the muffin tin or else they’ll fall apart. You will need two 12-cup muffin tins to bake these in a timely manner or else you can wait until the first batch cools.

This method makes about 30 deliciously crisp on the outside and soft in the middle chocolate chip cookies.

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Baking Through History: Fry Bread Tacos

Hard shell tacos, soft shell tacos, walking tacos, puffy tacos, birria tacos – there are a multitude of styles of tacos out there.

But, have you heard of fry bread tacos??

I grew up eating these in North Dakota and they’re still a favorite today.

Instead of a standard shell, the meat, cheese and other delicious toppings are piled on a crispy, fried bowl of dough with a soft and fluffy inside. Fry bread is so popular in North Dakota and South Dakota that in 2005 South Dakota lawmakers even declared it to be the state’s official bread, according to travelsouthdakota.com.

The standard is to use regular frozen bread dough, thawed and cut into one inch pieces, but if you’re ambitious, you could make your own dough or even use sourdough starter in your dough. That could be quite tasty.

The recipe is super easy.

Here’s all you need:

  • Cooked ground beef prepared with taco seasoning
  • 1 or 2 loaves of frozen bread dough (each loaf makes about 8 smaller fry breads or 4-6 larger ones)
  • Cooking oil
  • A high sided frying pan
  • Taco toppings (lettuce, salsa, sour cream, cheese, pickled jalapenos, etc.)
  • Refried beans (optional)

Thaw the bread dough. Cut into 1 to 2 inch pieces. Stretch out the dough to make a flatter round disc. Set aside.

In your high sided frying pan, heat about 1 to 2 inches of oil until ready to fry. Fry each piece of the dough until golden brown. The center will still look doughy, but that’s ok as long as it isn’t raw.

Cook up the ground beef as noted on your taco seasoning package.

Scoop ground beef onto fry bread and place your favorite toppings on the beef.

Enjoy!

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Baking Through History: Chocolate Potato Candy (ew.)

Chocolate Potato Candy

Potato. Candy. With chocolate. How do these ideas make it onto a page? I have no idea, but really, this one shouldn’t have.

In the “Hershey’s 1934 Cookbook,” is all about chocolate. Chocolate bread, chocolate ice cream, hot chocolate, and potato chocolate. There’s not just one recipe that uses potato, there are two!

The second is a Cocoa Potato Cake. But let’s start with Chocolate Potato Candy.

The recipe sounds like one you could use to make potato gnocchi, but instead of flour to bind the potato together, it uses powdered sugar.

I expected these to be quite delicious – but boy, was I wrong. What was the point of the potato? You couldn’t even taste it. They were way too sweet and used way too much powdered sugar to make them worth it.

If you want to try and make these, good luck. Let me know how it goes.

Chocolate Potato Candy
By Hershey’s

  • 1 medium baked potato, mashed (¾ cup)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup Hershey’s Cocoa
  • 4.5 cups powdered sugar
  • Chocolate glaze 

Combine the mashed potatoes, salt and vanilla. Gradually beat in the cocoa and sugar until mixture is stiff enough to be rolled into balls.

Chill the balls. The recipe called for a Chocolate glaze, but they were so bad, I didn’t want to waste the ingredients.

Baking Through History: Chocolate Potato Candy

Makes 4 dozen candies

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Vintage Recipes … but how exactly do I make it?

The Daily Independent Cook Book

Welcome back! It’s been a moment since I’ve had the time to work on my Vintage Recipes series, a whole year to be exact. 2022 was crazy, but it’s time to reset and get back to sharing recipes with you.

As I was researching what to bake next, I ran into a strange issue in one of my books titled, “The Daily Independent Cook Book” from 1948. It was published by Kannapolis Publishing Company. They called it “A collection of favorite recipes tested and proved in Kannapolis area kitchens by some of North Carolina’s best cooks.”

Well, bless their hearts. Some of those “best cooks” didn’t leave instructions!

In any vintage cookbook, I always look at the cookies, cakes and desserts first. But, it’s hard to bake a new recipe with no information.

When this book was published, there was no internet. I found similar recipes for two of the three below online, but, in 1948, unless you know the baker or had it before, sorry friend, you’re missing key information to make it on your own.

Here are just a few of the interesting ones in the book.

The Irish Potato Coffee Cake. The author thankfully gives all of the ingredients, but as for the filling and what exactly you’re boiling, or at what temperature and for how long you’re baking the cake … you’re out of luck.

I am interested in how this would taste with potatos, coffee, spices, raisins and that filling. Maybe I’ll just have to wing it. I’ll let ya know how that goes.

The Easter Bunny Cake … takes the cake, in my opinion.

Bake it however you want. Just figure it out. Hopefully you don’t curdle the milk with the lemon juice. Also, what makes it an Easter Bunny cake anyway?

You can try to google this one by the name, but you’ll only find cakes shaped like Easter Bunnies. Not exactly helpful.

And finally, the Jam Cake. Unless you’ve had this kind of cake before, I’m not sure you’d know how you’re supposed to bake this! Do you put the jam *in the cake batter?

I imagine the filling is for between the cakes, but that’s not clear either. I did some research on this one since it was the most vague and, turns out, there are a lot of other Jam Cake recipes. Southern Living and even Paula Dean had recipes for this cake. But again, no internet in 1948 to find out more.

The jam seems to be the star, so next time I make or buy some great strawberry jam, I may just give this a try!

If you’ve made any of these recipes or have had them before, let me know! I’d love to hear how they came out and how exactly you bake them. Comment below or email me at heather@pigdogfarms.com.

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Baking Through History: Great Grandma’s Kuchen

Nearly every holiday season, I go back to my roots and make my great-grandma’s kuchen!

Kuchen (ko͞okən), as defined by dictionary.com, is a cake, especially one eaten with coffee.

Every family of German heritage has their own version of kuchen – including mine. It is a very popular holiday treat in North Dakota and South Dakota. It has gotten so popular, there are now a few companies that make it in large quantities and sell/ship them all over the country.

Kuchen – to my family – is like a pie and cake combined. It has a very tasty yeast dough that is baked in a pie pan with a cream and egg custard on top. The most common way to top the custard before baking it is with cinnamon and sugar, but you can add fruit like strawberries, blueberries, plums, peaches, figs, cherries, etc.

My family’s recipe has been passed down for generations. My great grandma, Laura Berreth, who lived to be 95 years old, used to make it every Christmas. Our large, extended family, who always gathered at her home in Herreid, S.D., ate every bite of her kuchen.

When I was around 7 or 8, my grandma, Carol, and my aunt, Laurie, started to teach me how to make this delicious dish – and I’ve made it almost every year since.

I’ve tweaked the recipe, modernized a few of her methods and added my own twists, but it is still the same family recipe that’s been used for decades. This dish takes about one day to make – and I haven’t yet figured out how to cut down on that time.

I enjoy giving them as Christmas gifts, so right now they’re not on my menu. Perhaps one day, they’ll be added – but for now, they transport me to Christmas Day at my great grandma’s house… Including to that one year when there was a blizzard, everyone had to sleep on the floor because there weren’t enough beds – and the next day we had a family snowball fight and my cousins made the largest snowman I’d ever seen.

Kuchen
By Laura Berreth

Makes 10-12 kuchen

Kuchen Filling: (can be made the night before baking)

  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar

Mix all three ingredients into a sauce pan and heat over medium heat, stirring consistently, until thickened.
Let the filling cool on the stove top. If making the night before, put filling into container and refrigerate overnight.
*The filling can be doubled or tripled

Kuchen Dough:

  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
  • 2 packets active dry yeast
  • 1 cup milk, scalded and then cooled to 105 degrees
  • 2/3 cup cooking oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 7-8 cups of flour

Scald milk in sauce pan on stove top. Cool to 105 degrees so it doesn’t kill the yeast.
Dissolve yeast in warm water (110 degrees) until blooming (about 5 minutes).
Add milk, yeast water, oil, sugar, salt, eggs and nutmeg into a bowl or into a stand mixer with dough hook.
Slowly add in flour until the dough mixed and the dough is not sticky and feels elastic.
Place dough into lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let rise 60-90 minutes until double in size. Punch down and let rise again 60-90 minutes.
Slice off pieces of dough to fit the bottom of a pie plate, roll out and place in pie plate. (The dough does not go up the sides like a pie)
Top with filling to cover bottom of dough, sprinkle with topping (recipe below).
Bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes until sides of dough are browned slightly.

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 stick butter
  • Optional fruit like strawberries, apples, plums, peaches or blueberries can be added, if desired

Mix together non-fruit items together with fingers until crumbly. If adding fruit, spread fruit onto filling first and then add topping.

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Baking Through History: Potato Chip Cookies

Potato Chip Cookies

I found the cookbook “Pass the Plate: The Collection from Christ Church” is a massive antique shop outside of Charlotte.

The shop, called The Depot at Gibson Mill, has aisle and aisle of antiques, some junk, and books. Lots and lots of books – including old cookbooks.

If you’re ever in the Concord area – I definitely recommend stopping there. But, make sure you have at least two hours to go. Even then, however, you won’t see it all. It is big.

In one of the aisles, I found this old church cookbook, which was published in 1981.

The book was published by the Episcopal Churchwomen and Friends of Christ Episcopal Church in New Bern, North Carolina. In the foreword of the book, there is a short history of the town and the church parish.

According to the book, New Bern was settled in 1710 by a colony of Swiss and German Palatines. It was named in honor of Baron Christopher deGraffenried’s native Bern, Switzerland. In 1715, in the Province of North Carolina, the “Act for Establishing the Church and Appointing Select Vestrys” was created and that marks the start of Christ Church in New Bern. The site where the church is currently located in the town has been used for more than 300 years.

New Bern has a special place in my heart because it was where I met my husband when we both attended the annual U.S. Marine’s Ball in 2005. He was there with his mom and I was there with a friend. We danced the night away. I called him a stud muffin. And, we’ve been together ever since.

So this recipe, Potato Chip Cookies, are cookies with crushed potato chips in them. Salty. Sweet. How could this recipe be bad? The recipe doesn’t say what type of potato chips to use but I would assume it is plain chips with salt – nothing too crazy like jalapeño. 🙂

So, here is the recipe:

Potato Chip Cookies
Submitted by Patricia Byrum McCotter and by Carol Coleman Pursell 

  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup potato chips, crushed
  • 4x powdered sugar
  • ½ cup pecans, finely chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter, sugar, flour and vanilla well. Add nuts. Add potato chips. Pinch into marvel-sized pieces and place on cookie sheet. Press flat with fork. Bake 13 minutes and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Yield: 5 dozen

I cut this recipe in half because even though I share with my coworkers – I don’t need 5 dozen cookies.

This recipe is just OK. It is not my favorite, but I definitely don’t hate it. I could tweak it a bit to maybe add more salt or more sugar, but I’m not sure that would help. I could also make the bigger, but, that could alter the way it bakes. If you try these and love them, let me know! I’d love to hear from you.

There are so many more recipes in this book that I can’t wait to tackle including Applesauce Cupcakes and what’s called the “Totally Amazing Tomato-Spice Cake.” That one even has a note that says, “A delicious way to use up your garden’s bumper crop! Children refuse to believe there are tomatoes in this cake.”

…We’ll see about that one… stay tuned!

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Baking Through History: Casserole Cookies

Cookies…baked in a casserole dish. I have never heard of such a thing. And…I likely won’t try them again.

In the “Wyoming Centennial Cookbook (1890-1990)” published by the Johnson County Extension Homemakers Council, there is a recipe for Casserole Cookies. This book is also where I got the Fudge Nut Cookies recipe.

Johnson County, Wyoming has quite the history. According to its county website, it is a “place of sheep herders and cattle barons, renegades and rustlers. Where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid holed up after their outlaw exploits. Where miners consumed with gold rush fever passed through on the Bozeman Trail. Where some of the most famous Indian battles in American history occurred. And where the Johnson County Cattle War, a rangeland dispute which historians often deem one of the most notorious events in our history, left its mark here in the late 1880s … and that Owen Wister wrote about in his epic American novel, The Virginian. One of Johnson County’s biggest attractions is the magnificent Bighorn Mountains.”

This recipe was submitted by Mildred Ann (Weber) Anderson, I couldn’t find much on her life in Wyoming. She might still be living (which would be awesome) because there is no obituary for woman by that name that matches a time in Wyoming. I hope, somehow, this video and blog post finds her and I can ask her about this recipe.

In all my recipe reading, I’ve never seen casserole cookies. And, after baking it, I think I know why…

Casserole cookies
Recipe from Mildred Ann (Weber) Anderson 

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup dates chopped
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp almond extract

Beat eggs in buttered 2 quart casserole dish. Add sugar, mix well. Add dates, coconut, nuts, vanilla, almond extract.

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, stirring 4 or 5 times while baking. Cool and stir occasionally. When cold, form into balls, roll in powdered sugar and flatten with fork

This recipe is not my favorite. I did halve it, which I really should not have done. They did not have enough moisture to eventually make them into cookies. It made more of a crumbly granola (which my husband liked) rather than a cookie you could bring together and roll in powdered sugar.

If you happen to make these – and they turn out – please let me know! I want to see what they look like.

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Baking Through History: Great Grandma’s Ginger Cookies

I think I get my love of baking (and gardening) from my great grandma. She was a great baker and always had something sweet to eat when I visited her home in Herried, South Dakota.

Ginger Cookies from Laura Berreth

My great grandma, Laura Vossler Berreth, lived to be 95 years old. Her family was part of a group called “Germans from Russia” who started arriving in the U.S. in the 1870s.

I remember my great grandma fondly, and I love the recipes she passed down to my grandma and my aunt, who then passed them to me.

According to her obituary, she was born in 1915 on the family homestead near Terry, Montana. When she was quite young her parents moved back to the Vossler homestead, located northeast of Zeeland, North Dakota. They lived in a sod house, which her grandparents built when they homesteaded the land.

She led quite the interesting life painting, working, crafting, growing roses and irises and even moving to Lodi, California for a time before coming back to the North Dakota/South Dakota area.

One note in her obituary that made me smile was this: “She will always be remembered for her kuchen and gingersnap cookies.”

I’ll be making her kuchen (German for cake) in an upcoming video. 

My grandma, Carol, shared this ginger cookie recipe with me recently. She said it was one of her favorites that her mother made – along with Peppernut cookies (a post on that also coming soon.)

The recipe is below – and in the video, I scaled down the recipe by half so I wouldn’t have quite as many cookies to eat.

Ginger Cookies or Ginger Snaps
By Laura Berreth

  • 1 cup (201g) sugar
  • 3/4 cup (143g) shortening
  • 1 egg (50g)
  • 1 cup (280) molasses, I use light
  • 2 tsp. soda
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 1/2 cups (420g) flour

Mix everything but the flour with a mixer, then add the flour and mix by hand, as it gets too thick for the mixer to handle.  Lightly form balls the size of a walnut, dip in sugar and put on a cookie sheet. 
Bake at 325 degrees about 13 minutes for a soft cookie like Mom used to make, also how I make them. If you bake them longer they will get hard, more like Ginger Snaps.

After baking these cookies, I’d have to say, they’re quite tasty. They are an acquired taste, however. You either love them or you don’t.
The cookies were soft in the middle and crunch on the sides right after baking. After sitting out, covered, for a few hours, they got more chewy.
If you’re not expecting that, it can be different. However, it is how I remember them when I had them at my grandma’s.

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Baking Through History: Fudge Nut Cookies

Fudge Nut Cookies

Baking is sharing. A three layer cake, a pecan pie, a dozen cookies – each calls for sharing. Someone could eat a dozen or two dozen cookies, but why keep them for yourself?

But when did desserts become a thing? Food historian Deborah Krohn said in a Food & Wine article from June 2018 that the first cookbook for desserts didn’t surface until the seventeenth century, when the idea of having a separate course for sweets first came into existence.

“Up until the seventeenth century, sweet and savory dishes were put out on tables indistinguishable from each other,” she said to Maria Yagoda, who wrote the article for Food & Wine.

Recipes and home cookbooks are passed down from generation to generation, and favorite recipes are shared with friends. This is why old church cookbooks and centennial cookbooks for a community are created – people want to share their recipes.

Wyoming Centennial Cookbook

My mom recently sent me an entire box of old cookbooks. There is one from our old church in Glenburn, N.D. and one from her home state of Wyoming.

In the “Wyoming Centennial Cookbook (1890-1990)” published by the Johnson County Extension Homemakers Council, dozens of people shared their favorite recipes.

The book even has recipes from lawmakers from the time, including from former First Lady Barbara Bush, who submitted “Mexican Mound – a Great Bush Favorite!” This recipe is for a walking taco with corn chips, taco meat, cheese and toppings.

Former Wyoming First Lady Jane Sullivan submitted two recipes – Ambassador Black Bottom Pie and World’s Finest Chocolate Gateau, which has raisins and Scotch in it. Marilyn Quayle, wife of former Vice President Dan Quayle, shared her mother’s “fried biscuit” recipe. I love that the homemakers council reached out to them for recipes – and that they responded.

There are quite a few I plan to bake, but I’ll start first with Fudge Nut Cookies. It is unique because it uses cottage cheese!

It was submitted by a woman named Helen Rinker. From my research, she was a basketball player, a teacher, a past president of the Johnson County Homemaker’s Club and met her husband at a country dance. She passed away in February 2013 at age 91. She was noted in her obituary as a “great wife, mom and grandmother and loved spending time with her family.”

Her recipe for Fudge Nut Cookies makes 9 dozen cookies. I am not sure how many people were in her family – but that is a ton of cookies! The original recipe is below, but for my video I’ve scaled it down by one third, to make it more manageable. 

Fudge Nut Cookies
By Helen Rinker

  • 1-½ cup (307.5) shortening
  • 3-½ cup (703g) sugar
  • 4 eggs (200g)
  • 2 cup (324g) cottage cheese
  • 4 tsp vanilla
  • 5-½ cup (660g) flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup (100g) cocoa
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Cream together shortening and sugar. Add eggs, cottage cheese, and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder, soda, cocoa, salt. Add nuts and/or chocolate chips.

Cover bowl and chill dough for 1 hour in the refrigerator. After chilling, form into balls. Roll in powdered sugar

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-14 minutes (depending on size of cookies.) Makes 9 dozen cookies.

After baking these cookies, I think I need to add more chocolate!! The bites without the chocolate chips were good, but the ones with them were excellent. I could also add a chocolate drizzle to the top to really bump up the flavor.

If you bake these, let me know! I’d love to hear how they went for you.

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Enjoy the video below to see how I made them and how they turned out.