I met my friend Janean over breakfast. We both attended the same MOPS group when our children were just babes. We mothers would come in bleary-eyed from months of lack of sleep; we’d fill our coffee cups and our plates and enjoy the first real meal we’d had that week. Janean always brought in the most delicious breakfast items and I soon learned that she beautifully nurtures others through food. Earlier this year, Janean took her loves of food and people and became the Fredericksburg Foodie. She has gained a loyal Instagram following and is a voice in the Fredericksburg and northern Virginia culinary scene. I am proud to welcome my friend Janean on the blog today!
by Janean Miller
I’ve always loved reading recipes. Even as a little girl I would take a look around my grandparents’ kitchen, snatch their recipe box, find a cozy spot and flip through all the handwritten instructions. They often contained personal notes; my favorite was my Grandpa’s classic stamp of approval: “This recipe is so good it’ll make your tongue slap your brains out!”
That little literary gem was written on two recipes I still make today for my family: Ham & Cheese Pie and Grandpa’s Apple Pie. While making these pastries I can’t help but feel a strong connection to my past; the flavors and smells conjure such sweet memories. There are slow days when I have time to replicate the recipe exactly as Grandpa wrote it, but more times than not, my days are busy as all mamas can understand. When time is a little tight but I’m still craving those familiar flavors I love to take heirloom recipes and adjust them to fit my lifestyle.
The beauty of old family recipes is that you can adapt them to newer cooking methods (insta-pots and slow cookers), healthier ingredient swaps (quinoa for rice), or semi-homemade ingredients (boxed stock and pre-chopped veggies). My absolute favorite time-saving ingredient is Puff Pastry.
In my opinion, Puff Pastry is a gift from the culinary gods. The versatility and ease of use can make a time-consuming recipe super simple with this easy substitution! I’ve taken my family recipes for Ham & Cheese Pie and Apple Pie and updated them into dishes you can enjoy on the busiest of days. Both can be served either as a breakfast/brunch meal or as a dinner with a nice salad.
I encourage you to take a look back through your family recipes. I’m betting you’ll feel that sweet connection to generations past, and may even find one that will make your tongue slap your brains right out!
Ham & Cheese Puffs
1 (17.3 oz. pkg) frozen puff pastry, defrosted for 20-30 minutes
½ lb. thinly sliced black forest ham
½ lb. thinly sliced sharp white cheddar
1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp. water for egg wash
1 tsp fine sea salt
½ tsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. thyme
2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. allspice
½ tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. garlic powder
Fine sea salt to taste
Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Make the seasoning by mixing all together in a small bowl. Set aside. (You’ll have a ton of extra spice mix, be sure to save, it’s delicious!)
On a floured surface, unfold pastry and cut each pastry into 4 equal squares.
Place a few slices of ham and cheese in the middle of each square, sprinkle a little seasoning on top and fold two opposite corners over the top, pressing to seal. Transfer pastries to baking sheet.
Brush with egg wash and sprinkle a little extra spice mix on top.
Bake until pastries are golden brown, about 12 minutes. Remove from sheet and let cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Apple Pie Pastry
1 sheet, Puff Pastry, thawed and cut in half
3 apples, cored, halved and sliced thin
1 c. light brown sugar
1 pinch of salt
Powdered sugar & caramel sauce for serving
Preheat oven to 425. Place puff pastry onto a baking pan covered in parchment paper and sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
Place apples, brown sugar and salt in bowl, stir and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir again before placing apples on the puff pastry in a straight line down the center of the pastry.
Bake for 18 – 20 minutes until the pastry is puffed and golden brown.