Showing posts with label Fall. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fall. Show all posts

Friday, November 15, 2013

Pecan Pie Mini Cupcakes

Are you a pecan pie person?  I'm not, really.  I mean, I'll always take one bite of it because I do love the rich taste of the pecans.  But a whole piece?  No thank you.  There's just too much of that...goo.  I'd rather have pretty much any other pie.  But, I do recognize there are a whole bunch of you out there who cannot wait for your big ol' slice of pecan pie for Thanksgiving dessert.

That said, it's not really a pie many people make all throughout the year.  Some do, I know.  I think for the majority of pecan pie lovers, it's akin to pumpkin pie in that it's pretty much a holiday thing just as much tied to memories, family, and tradition as to flavor preferences.  But that may just change when you see what Monica Holland has done in her cookbook, Lick the Bowl Good.

The cookbook, named after her blog and published by Skyhorse Publishing, focuses on what Monica calls "classic homestyle desserts with a twist."  True to her word, so many of Monica's recipes remind me of my childhood in Oklahoma while, at the same time, taking a step into the present.  Case in point--Texas sheet cake cupcakes and these mini pecan pie cupcakes.

These little guys are full of classic pecan pie richness but in smaller, bite-sized form.  Without the goo.  Plus, they are a cinch to throw together.  Everything gets mixed in one bowl and put into mini muffin tins.  The only hitch is removing them once they're baked.  As Monica warns, you'll want to gently remove them as soon as they come out of the oven to prevent them from sticking.  They'll still be hot and fairly soft, but in just a few minutes, the outsides will crisp up nicely.  Even as a non-pecan pie lover, I have to say, these are wonderful.  To me, they are the perfect addition for Thanksgiving breakfast, late night snacking, or a work or church potluck.

*If you think these little guys look irresistible, click here to enter a giveaway for this cookbook!



Pecan Pie Mini Cupcakes
from Monica Holland, Lick the Bowl Good

Ingredients:
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 c. unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 c. finely chopped pecans

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350° F.  Generously spray a mini muffin tin with baking spray with flour.  (You can easily find this next to the non-stick sprays at the grocery store.)  Alternately, grease and flour the tin.

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients except pecans.  Add nuts and mix well.

3.  Using a mini spring loaded scoop or tablespoon, fill each well of the muffin tin 3/4 full.  Place muffins in oven and bake 17-19 minutes.

4.  Remove cupcakes from oven and place tins on a wire rack to cool, one minute.  Run a knife around the edge of each cupcake to loosen and quickly remove from the tin.  Allow to cool completely on wire rack.  Store at room temperature in a sealed container up to three days.

Yields: approximately 24 mini cupcakes

Friday, October 4, 2013

Pumpkin-Apple Streusel Cake

With a crazy demanding group of kids in my classroom this year, I haven't had nearly as much time as I'd like for cooking and baking.  To cope, I've been making an even more concentrated effort to choose recipes I'm sure will be a knockout.  Of course, some are better than others.  (Hello pretzel-chocolate chip muffins!)  Then are those that are so, so much better than I could've even imagined.  This cake.  It falls in the latter category.

Oh.  My.  Autumn.

Moist, buttery, fluffy pumpkin cake would be amazing enough, but when it's topped with what is essentially an apple crisp, you've got one heck of a decadent dessert.  Just one bite was all it took for me to see visions of enjoying a slice of this, once again, when it's cool enough to haul out the fluffy socks, make a cup of tea, and snuggle up under a blanket.  Good gracious...doesn't that sound like fall heaven?



Pumpkin-Apple Streusel Cake
adapted from epicurious

Ingredients:

For the apples:
2 TBSP unsalted butter
4 c. diced, peeled, cored firm apples (such as Fuji or Granny Smith)
3 TBSP dark brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 c. chopped pecans (optional)

For the cake:
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature
1/ tsp. salt
3/4 c. canned pumpkin purée
1/3 c. plain yogurt
2 TBSP dark brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. baking soda
2 large eggs, room temperature

Directions:
1.  To prepare the apples, melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add apples and sauté until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Add sugar and cinnamon and sauté 3 minutes longer.  Set aside to cool.

2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour a 9-in. springform pan.

3.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat flour, brown sugar, butter, and salt until it resembles coarse meal.  Remove 2/3 c. of the mixture from the bowl, stir in pecans (if using), and set aside for streusel topping.

4.  Beat pumpkin, yogurt, brown sugar, spices, and baking soda into the remaining flour mixture until just smooth.  Add in eggs one a a time.

5.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Scatter apples and cinnamon-sugar syrup evenly on top, then sprinkle with reserved streusel topping.  Bake until topping is golden brown and tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 55-70 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool, in the pan, on a wire rack for 20 minutes.  Run a knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake and release pan sides.  Transfer cake to a platter or cake stand and let cool completely.

Yields: 8 servings

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Praline Apple Bread

Happy fall, y'all!

Are you as excited about the season as I am?  I'm always glad when autumn rolls around, but this year I'm extra excited.  I've got a list a mile long of recipes, both new and old, to try, a couple new sweaters picked out, and a bevy of experiences I want to pack into the next few months.

Choosing this recipe to kick off my fall food frenzy was an easy choice.  First of all, it features apples.  I'm kind of in love with them (duh!) and am always looking for new recipes to feed my addiction.  The big, juicy chunks of my favorite fruit are prominent here and I just love it.  Add in some chopped pecans and a sweet praline glaze and we're at a whole new level.  This is definitely one of those fantastic quick breads that is questionably breakfast and possibly dessert--a bad decision you really don't feel that guilty about.  Even if you eat it for both breakfast and dessert one day.  Or two.  Not that I did that or anything...


Praline Apple Bread
slightly adapted from Southern Living, September 2009

Ingredients:
8 oz. sour cream or Greek yogurt (low fat is fine)
1 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 TBSP vanilla extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. finely chopped, peeled firm apples
1 c. chopped toasted pecans, divided
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. firmly packed light brown sugar

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat sour cream, sugar, eggs, and vanilla on low speed until blended, about 2 minutes.    

2.  In a separate medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Add to sour cream mixture in three additions, beating on low speed until just blended.  Stir in apples and half the pecans.  

3.  Spoon batter into a prepared 9x5 loaf pan.  Bake 60-70 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  If necessary, cover with foil after 50 minutes to prevent the bread from browning too much.  (I didn't need to do this.)  Cool in the pan on a wire rack 10 minutes, then turn bread out and allow to cool completely on the rack.  

4.  When bread is cool, bring butter and brown sugar to a boil in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium heat.  Let boil 1 minutes, then remove from heat.  Place a silicone mat or piece of foil under wire rack and carefully spoon or pour praline icing over bread.  Sprinkle with remaining pecans.  Let cool and set completely (about 1 hour) before slicing.

***Note: The original recipe says the bread can be frozen up to 3 months wrapped in plastic wrap and foil.  Defrost at room temperature.  I have not tried this yet, but if I do, I would freeze it uniced, then add icing after bread is fully defrosted.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mapledoodles--a Guest Post on Sunny Side Up

Surprise surprise!  Here I am with a post on a Thursday.  And let me tell you, I think you'll really like what I'm bringing.  

Mapledoodles.

They're like snickerdoodles but with maple flavor.

Yeah.


The recipe is over at my friend Jessica's fantastic blog, Sunny Side Up.  She's in the midst of moving back to the U.S. after living in China for some time.  As you can imagine, life is pretty hectic for her right now, so she's asked a few of us out here in the blogosphere to fill in while she gets settled.  Her kitchen may be in boxes right now, but yours probably isn't.  And I think you'll want to make these mapledoodles.  Go on.  The recipe's right here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Spiced Bundt Cake


Without a doubt, the best thing about food is the way it can bring you right back to a memory.  Sometimes you don’t even have to take a bite; the smell alone takes you right there.  As the baker, just measuring out the flour and butter and spices starts the process.  So it was with this cake.

Spice cake is my little brother’s favorite.  I made this for him when he was home on leave.  It was important to me to make sure he had his favorite dessert before heading off to Afghanistan.  He's risking his life for us, so I figured I could make a cake for him.  I hope the memories of the night our family ate this stick with you out there.

Stay safe, Little Brudder.  I love you.  I can't wait to make this for you again.


Spiced Bundt Cake
an "Apple a Day" original

Ingredients:

For the cake:
3 1/2 c. cake flour, plus more for preparing pan
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 TBSP ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt 
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. dark brown sugar 
5 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. buttermilk

For the glaze:
4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c. confectioners' sugar (plus more, if desired)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon 
4 TBSP orange juice
zest of one orange

Directions:
1.  Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 325 degrees F.  Grease and flour a standard-sized Bundt pan.

2.  In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, and salt.  Set aside.

3.  In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars together about 3 minutes.  Scrape sides of bowl and beat 3 minutes more until mixture is light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating fully after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl. 

4.  In a measuring cup, combine vanilla and buttermilk.  

5.  Reduce mixer speed to low and add dry mixtures in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk mixture.  (Be sure to begin and end with the dry mixture.)  Do not overbeat.

6.  Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake until cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, 45-50 minutes.  Transfer the cake to a wire rack and cool upright in the pan 10 minutes. Turn the cake out onto a rack and cool 1 hour more.

7.  Make the glaze by combining cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, cinnamon, and orange juice in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Once cake is completely cooled, poor glaze over cake then decorate with range zest.  Serves 16 (or my adorable and brave brother).

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Bars

I'm a planner, type A to the core.  What you all see on this blog is usually thought out, cooked, photographed, and written a week or two in advance.  But when I go out of town two weekends in a row and then come down with the stomach flu, even my best-laid plans are guaranteed to falter.  

Sorry guys.  Can I offer you some pumpkin spice bars as a consolation?

They're fuffy and cakey and bursting with delicious fall flavors.  They're easy to make--just a couple of bowls and your hand mixer and you're home free.  Plus, you can easily adapt them to your personal tastes by choosing which mix-ins to add or not add.  If I was making these with myself in mind, I would've used crystallized ginger, raisins, and walnuts.  But these are for you all and I know not everyone is in to all those things.  So I took it easy.  I hope that's good for you.

Pumpkin Spice Bars
adapted from The Cookie Book

Ingredients:
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. finely chopped crystallized ginger OR 3/4 tsp. ground
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 c. pumpkin purée
1/3 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/4 c. plus 1 tsp. vegetable oil, divided
1/2 c. raisins (optional)
1/2 c. toasted walnuts, chopped (optional)
1/2 c. white chocolate, chopped

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9x13 baking dish with parchment paper or foil.  Spray with oil or baking spray.

2.   In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Set aside.

3.  In a medium bowl, lightly beat eggs with hand mixer.  Add in pumpkin, applesauce, and 1/4 c. oil and mix until just combined.

4.  Mix wet pumpkin mixture into dry mixture until combined.  Fold in raisins and walnuts, if using.

5.  Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 18-20 minutes.  Remove from oven and set on wire rack to cool.

6.  When bars have cooled, melt white chocolate and remaining tsp. oil in a small pan over low heat.  Allow to cool slightly, then place in a pastry bag fitted with a small tip or a plastic zip top bag.  If using a plastic zip top bag, snip a small bit of one corner just before icing bars.

7.  Using corners of parchment or foil, remove bars from pan and drizzle with white chocolate.  Allow chocolate to set 15 minutes, then cut into desired amount of bars.  Makes 18-30 bars.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Meatless Monday--Quinoa and Apple Salad

 Here I go again...another apple recipe.  But on a blog called "Apple a Day," that shouldn't be too much of a surprise, right?   

Like so many recipes I've been making lately, this one brings fall flavors I can enjoy in warm weather.  Unfortunately, you have to make your own fall in Phoenix.  But this salad did the job.  The sweet, crisp apples really shone through in this healthy, simple salad.  

We ate it for dinner one night right after I'd made it.  We enjoyed it, but I can tell you it's better after sitting for a bit.  The vinaigrette really soaks in and the Gorgonzola flavor become more pronounced.  (If you're not a blue cheese fan, I think feta or even small cubes of cheddar cheese would also be great.)  So make this up on a Sunday evening, put it in the fridge overnight and enjoy knowing you've got Monday dinner or a few lunches already taken care of.

 
Quinoa and Apple Salad
adapted from Cookin' Canuck

Ingredients:

For the salad:
2 c. water
1 c. quinoa
1/2 c. toasted nuts, chopped (walnuts, almonds, pecans, or your favorite)
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas
1 large, crisp, red apple, cored and chopped (I like Honeycrisp or Gala)
1/4 c. Gorgonzola cheese, plus more for garnish
3 green onions, sliced (green and white parts)

For the dressing:
1/3 c. apple cider
3-4 TBSP apple cider vinegar
2 TBSP olive oil
1 tsp. honey or agave nectar
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt

Directions:
1.  Rinse and drain quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer.

2.  In a medium pot, bring water to a boil.  Add quinoa, bring back to a boil, then cover and turn heat to low.  Cook until water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff quinoa with a fork and pour quinoa in a large mixing bowl.  Let cool, fluffing occasionally, until room temperature. 

3.  Meanwhile, prepare vinaigrette by whisking together all ingredients in a small bowl.  Taste and adjust any ingredients to achieve desired balance.  Set aside.

4.  Once quinoa has cooled, add in nuts, chickpeas, apple, cheese and green onions.  Toss with dressing.  Serve immediately or cover and place in the refrigerator at least 2 hours to let flavors develop.  Serves 3-4 as a main course.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad

Sometime simple really is best.  The older I get, the more truth I find in that statement.  A relaxing morning on the couch with my husband, a good cup of coffee, a leisurely bike ride on a cool day--all things that are simply perfect.  

To me, this salad fits right in with that list.  It has a relatively short list of ingredients left to stand pretty much on their own merits.  So, as you've heard many a chef, blogger, and foodie say before, use the best quality ingredients you can find.  Resist the urge to add too many seasonings.  In fact, this would be a great opportunity to take something away; I think this salad would be a great vegan meal if made sans chicken.

However you prepare it, just be sure to take the time to sit down and enjoy it with your favorite people.  Because time spent with those you love is the most beautiful simplicity of all.


Is squash one of your simple pleasures?  If so, you'll be so glad to see the assortment of squash recipes submitted for this month's Monthly MingleDara is hosting this month over on her blog, Cookin' Canuck.  Meeta started it on her blog back in 2006.  That's a lot of great recipes, folks.  You can find them all here.
 
Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad
adapted from Annie's Eats
originally from Real Simple

Ingredients:

For the salad:
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4-in. pieces
3 TBSP olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (optional)
3 hearts of romaine, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces
1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained 
pita chips, crumbled, for serving
3 TBSP fresh minced chives, for serving

For the dressing:
1/3 c. tahini
1 TBSP olive oil
1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 clove garlic, finely grated
2 TBSP water, plus more as needed
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions.  Line two rimmed baking sheets with foil.  

2.  On one baking sheet, toss squash cubes with 2 TBSP oil.  Season generously with salt and pepper and toss once more to distribute seasonings.  Place the baking sheet on the lower oven rack and roast until fork tender, about 20-25 minutes, tossing once during cooking.

3.  Meanwhile, place chicken on the second baking sheet and drizzle with remaining TBSP olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place on the upper oven rack and roast until cooked through.  Roast 15-20 minutes, depending on size.  (Internal temperature, measured by an instant read thermometer, should be 160 degrees F.)  Set chicken aside to rest briefly on baking sheet, then chop or slice just before serving.

4.  While chicken and squash cool slightly, make the dressing by combining tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, oregano and garlic in a small bowl or mini food processor.  Whisk or process to blend.  Add in water a bit at a time, until dressing reaches desired thickness.  Taste and season with salt and pepper, as desired.

5.  To assemble salads, divide lettuce between four serving plates.  Top each serving with equal amounts squash, chicken, and chickpeas.  Drizzle lightly with dressing.  Top with pita chips and sprinkle with minced chives.  Serve immediately.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Southwest Bacon and Sweet Potato Hash

Do you ever have those nights where the meal you carefully planned out and shopped for just doesn't sound good anymore?  I definitely do.  Usually, one of two things work for me--either push it to another night that week or just suck it up knowing you hate wasting food and you'll probably love the finished product.  Sometimes neither trick works.

After pushing my original intentions back two nights in a row and realizing the only perishable items from my original plans were apples, which I was bound to eat anyway, I decided to go out on a limb and make up a hash from ingredients I already had on hand.  It turned out to be exactly what I was hoping for--hearty, slightly spicy, and super simple.  I know I'll be having this one time and again.

On purpose. 


Southwest Bacon and Sweet Potato Hash
an "Apple a Day" original

Ingredients:
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. fresh black pepper
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. dried chipotle chili flakes OR 1/2 chipotle pepper in adobo, minced
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-in. cubes
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 lb. bacon
1 large onion, diced  or cut into 1/4-in. strips
1 (15 oz.) reduced sodium black beans
4 eggs
2 green onions, chopped

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  In a small prep bowl, mix together salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, and chipotle flakes, if using.  (If using chipotle in adobo, reserve until next step.)  Set aside.

2.  In a large bowl, toss sweet potatoes with olive oil, chipotle in adobo, if using, and half of seasoning mixture.  Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast just until beginning to soften, 10 minutes.  Leave oven on.

3.  Meanwhile, in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until crispy.  Remove bacon and place on a large plate lined with paper towels.  Reserve bacon grease in skillet.

4.  Add onion to pan and sauté in bacon grease until becoming translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add in sweet potatoes and remaining seasoning mixture.  Sauté 3 minutes more.  Finally, add black beans and 3/4 of bacon and cook until just warmed through, about 2 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

5.  Make four wells into hash and crack an egg into each one.  Place skillet in oven and cook until egg whites are cooked but yolks are still runny, 5-7 minutes.  Remove skillet and garnish with remaining bacon and green onions.  Serve immediately.  Serves 3-4.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Meatless Monday--Pumpkin Donut Muffins

Where do I even begin about with these muffins?  The inside was perfectly dense and moist, just like a great cake donut.  The outside held together wonderfully and the topping of butter, cinnamon, and sugar takes it all over the edge.  Don't skip that step--it's what makes these muffins really feel like donuts.  

I know for sure that I'll be indulging in these muffins several times throughout the fall and winter.  In fact, I'm already dreaming of enjoying a warm, fresh batch of these while sitting outside on a crisp morning with a blanket, a book, and a hot cup of coffee.  

Pumpkin Donut Muffins
adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients:
For the batter:
10 TBSP (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
3 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. coarse salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/3 c. buttermilk
1 1/4 c. pure pumpkin purée
3/4 c. light brown sugar 
2 large eggs

For the cinnamon-sugar topping:
3/4 c. granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 c. unsalted butter, melted

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour 18 wells in standard-sized muffin cups. 

2.  To make the batter, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice in a medium bowl.  In a separate small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and pumpkin.

3.  Cream butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.  Turn the mixer speed to low and add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with pumpkin mixture.  Beat to combine.  (Dough may be slightly sticky.  It will resemble donut dough more than a traditional muffin batter.)

4.  Fill muffin tin by using a standard-sized cookie scoop or 1/3 c. measuring cup.  Bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean. 

5.   Meanwhile, make the topping by combining cinnamon and sugar in a medium bowl.  Let muffins cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack.  One at a time, remove muffin from pan and brush the top with butter.  Toss to coat in cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Let muffins cool completely on a wire rack.  Keep in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.  After a day or two, you may wish to redip in cinnamon-sugar.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fifteen Fall Faves

Finally, finally, just in time to save my sanity, it's here.  Fall is here!  (Tomorrow.  Small detail.)

All summer, while happy to be munching on mountains of berries, cherries, peaches, and tomatoes, I am thinking of fall with its pumpkins and apples and sweaters and soup.  And now it's here.  Fall is finally here.

I'm looking forward to making these 15 favorites.  (Especially the ones from the early days with the really bad pictures.  I think updates posts are in order.)

for a lovely autumn breakfast or brunch

belly-warming comfort food

sweets to swoon for
clockwise from top left: pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap crust and bourbon-sour cream topping, pear pie with maple and ginger, pumpkin chai blondies with spiced cream cheese frosting, cranberry chai cupcakes

Monday, September 17, 2012

Meatless Monday--Zucchini, Apple, and Cheddar Frittata

The blog name doesn't lie.  I really do eat an apple almost every single day.  I just love them.  I have ever since I was old enough to chew (though I suspect I was quite content with applesauce before that day arrived).  Honestly, I'd be happy eating apples for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.

Apples are pretty darn perfect all by themselves, but that doesn't stop me from using them in every way I can.  Applesauce, apple cake, apple granola, even apple cider cocktails--I've made and loved them all.  Today's post marks my first time using apples in a frittata and it was outstanding--the perfect mix of sweet and savory.  The brown butter added just the right amount of nuttiness and depth to the dish--be sure no to skip that first, and very important, step.  Let me tell you, this is not my last apple frittata.  I'm already thinking of swapping out the Granny Smith for a crisp Gala and switching the cheddar for havarti, chevre, or smoked gouda.  I'll keep you posted on the combinations.  I have a feeling M and I will be having this for many a weeknight dinner or weekend breakfast.   

Zucchini, Apple, and Cheddar Frittata

Ingredients:
1 TBSP unsalted butter
2 eggs
2 egg whites
1/4 c. milk
salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 1 c.)
1/2 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
2 TBSP chopped fresh parsley (for garnish)

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven broiler to low.


2.  In a small (8-9 inches) nonstick skillet heat butter over medium heat, allowing it to become slightly brown.  (This will contribute extra richness to the dish.)  Swirl pan to cover coat bottom with browned butter.  Reduce heat to medium low.

3.  While butter in browning, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, and milk.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in about 2/3 of the cheese.


4.  Pour egg and cheese mixture into the pan.  Cover, and cook on the stove top, 6 – 8 minutes, until the eggs puff slightly but are not completely set on the top.

5.  Arrange zucchini and apple slices on top of the eggs and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.  Place, uncovered, under the preheated broiler about 10 minutes, until the eggs are fully cooked and the frittata is golden.  Remove from oven, garnish with parsley, and serve immediately.  Serves 2 as an entrée.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Apple Pie Granola

On my drive home from school one day, my mind wandered (as it pretty much always does) to my cooking and baking plans for the following week.  I ran through my mental list and settled on apple pie.  I haven't made one in so long and hello!  It's September and September means apples.  I continued on with my mental list and remembered that I needed to make up another batch of breakfast granola that night.  Just like that, apple pie granola was in my head.  And it wouldn't leave.  I stopped off at the store on my way home to pick up some dried apples and apple pie granola was happening.

Like most simple foods created to highlight a certain ingredient, the quality is of the utmost importance.  I'd recommend using homemade applesauce (this one is a cinch in your slow cooker) for a rich, deep granola with just the right amount of apple pie flavor.  Try to find unsweetened dried apples and cranberries, if at all possible, to make sure your granola stays just on the side of breakfast instead of dessert.  Then savor this breakfast treat while you rejoice in the fact that mornings are finally starting to get just a touch cooler.


Apple Pie Granola
an "Apple a Day" original

Ingredients:
3 1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1/4 c. flax seeds
2 TBSP chia seeds
1 TBSP ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. applesauce (homemade or unsweetened, if store bought)
1/3 c. pure maple syrup
1 TBSP lemon juice
1 1/2 c. chopped unsweetened dried apples (not freeze-dried)
1 c. unsweetened dried cranberries (optional)

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat.

2.  In a large bowl, mix together oats, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt.  Add in applesauce, syrup, and lemon juice and stir until thoroughly combined.

3.  Spread mixture onto prepared baking sheet.  Bake 20 minutes then remove from oven and gently stir.  Place back in oven and bake 15 minutes more.  Remove sheet from oven and place on a wire cooling rack.  (Some pieces of granola may still seem slightly soft.  They will crisp up as the cool.)

4.  With granola still on baking sheet, carefully stir in dried apples and cranberries, if using.  Allow granola to cool completely before placing in an airtight container.  Keeps up to two weeks at room temperature.  Serve alone as a snack, over yogurt or fruit, or with milk as a cereal.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Meatless Monday--Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

I sincerely hope you all aren't tired of tomato basil recipes.  I know this is the second Meatless Monday in a row to feature the combination, but in my opinion, it's truly one of summer's best.  And, just to let you know, they'll be at least a couple more tomato basil recipes before August is out. 

But soup in the middle of summer?  Absolutely.  I mean, this is when tomatoes and basil are at their best and peak ingredients make peak food.  Then you go and roast those perfect tomatoes and oh man, prepare yourself for unbelievably pure and rich flavor.  With just a few other ingredients, most of them pantry staples, this hearty, savory soup is a cinch.  If you're still not convinced, let me put it this way--this soup is a perfect pairing for grilled cheese.  And who doesn't love grilled cheese, right?


Roasted Tomato Basil Soup
slightly adapted from Ina Garten via Food Network 

Ingredients:
3 lbs. ripe plum tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 c. plus 2 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP sea salt
1 1/2 tsp. fresh black pepper
2 c. chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 TBSP unsalted butter (replace with olive oil for vegan soup)
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28-oz.) can plum tomatoes, with juice
4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 qt. vegetable broth

Directions:
1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Toss together fresh tomatoes, 1/4 c. olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the tomatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes.

2.  In a large stockpot over medium heat, sauté the onions and garlic with remaining olive oil, butter, and red pepper flakes for 10 minutes.  Once the onions start to brown, add in canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and broth. 

3.  Add the oven-roasted tomatoes, including any juices on the baking sheet. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered 40 minutes.  Process with an immersion blender or pass through a food mill fitted with the coarsest blade.  Taste for seasonings. Serves 6 as a main course.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Meatless Monday--Herbed Sweet Potatoes with Feta

It's no secret I love sweet potatoes.  I've featured them on the blog many, many, many times.  I just can't get enough.  That's why, even as spring begins, I've got yet another sweet potato recipe for you.  

I originally served this as a scrumptious side dish, but I found the sweet potatoes equally fantastic on top of a spinach salad with some thinly sliced red onion, dried cranberries, and balsamic vinaigrette.  I also think they'd be great tossed in some couscous or quinoa for a healthy and filling meal.  For even more flexibility, you could easily change out the oregano for thyme, sage, or any other herb you'd like.  I'm already thinking of a version with cilantro, chipotle, and cotija cheese...


Herbed Sweet Potatoes with Feta
slightly adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Ingredients:
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-in. slices
3 TBSP olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 lb. feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 c. pine nuts (I used walnuts.)
1 TBSP finely chopped fresh thyme
juice of 1 lemon

Directions:
1.  Preheat an oven to 400ºF.

2.  In a large bowl, drizzle sweet potatoes with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.  Arrange the potatoes in a 2-qt. baking dish.

3.  Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for about 25-35 minutes, depending on how potatoes are arranged.  Uncover and sprinkle the cheese, nuts, and thyme over the top.  Return to oven and continue to bake, uncovered, until the cheese is golden and the sweet potatoes are tender, 12-15 minutes more.  Remove from the oven, drizzle evenly with the lemon juice and serve immediately. Serves 6 as a side.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Lemon-Garlic Roasted Potatoes

I've been trying, but I still find myself putting most of my effort into main dishes (and desserts, let's be real).  That's not really fair to the side dishes, is it?  After all, a great side dish can take even the most ho-hum main dish from okay to delicious, right?  

Case in point--these potatoes.  They were so easy to put together.  I got the main dish of chicken with thyme, lemon, and chile prepped and cooked while they were in the oven.  The chicken definitely wasn't ho-hum, but these potatoes really rounded out the meal beautifully.  Note to self--side dishes don't need to be involved, they just need to be tasty.


Lemon-Garlic Roasted Potatoes
slightly adapted from Pennies on a Platter
originally from Melissa's Produce
Ingredients:
1-1 1/2 lb. yellow potatoes, cut into 2-in. chunks
1/4-1/2 c. butter, melted
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
zest and juice of one lemon
1 TBSP Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Layer potatoes in a medium baking dish or casserole. 

2.   In a small bowl, mix together the melted butter, garlic, salt and lemon zest and juice. Pour evenly over potatoes and toss to coat. Sprinkle Parmesan over top. 

3.  Bake, covered, for 35 minutes.  Uncover, and bake an additional 15 minutes, or until fork tender and golden brown.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Beef and Butternut Squash Stew

Chances are, if something has butternut squash in it, I'll be all over it.  I love, love, love it.  You know who else loves butternut squash?  My dad.  I made this stew for him during one of his monthly visits.  I figured we'd eat dinner and I'd photograph the leftovers the next day.  Wrong.  So, so wrong.  My dad ate two bowls of this.  He never does that.  I was thrilled he loved it that much, but also a little bummed, I have to say.  I was hoping for leftovers.  Oh well.  I just took it as a great excuse to have this stew again.

The flavors are deep and rich with the slightest sweetness from the squash and Marsala wine.  The first time I tasted it for seasoning, I knew it was very good.  I wanted it to be great, though.  To me, it was calling for a dash of cinnamon.  I added some in and oh my, what a great result--a beef stew that's just as comforting as the traditional, but with a unique and delicious twist.


Beef and Butternut Squash Stew
slightly adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis, Giada's Kitchen

Ingredients:
3 TBSP olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 TBSP minced fresh rosemary
1 TBSP chopped fresh thyme
2 lbs. stew beef, cut into 2-in. cubes
1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
2 TBSP all-purpose flour
1 c. Marsala wine
1 lb. butternut squash, trimmed and cut into 2-in. cubes
1/4 c. chopped sun-dried tomatoes
4 c. beef broth
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 TBSP fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
crusty bread, for serving

Directions:
1.  In a large soup pot heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, rosemary, and thyme and sauté until the onions are tender, about 2 minutes. 

2.  Toss the beef cubes in salt, pepper, and flour.  Turn heat up to medium-high and add the beef to the pot.  Cook until the beef is browned and golden around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the Marsala wine. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir up all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. 

3.  Add the butternut squash and sun-dried tomatoes and stir to combine. Add enough broth to just cover the beef and squash. Stir in the cinnamon and bring the stew to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, 1 hour. 

4.  Season the stew with additional salt and pepper, to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with crusty bread alongside.

Yields: 6-8 servings

Monday, January 16, 2012

Meatless Monday--Potato Rosemary Soup

True, genuine soup weather doesn't come very often in Phoenix.  Usually that doesn't stop me; I'm a huge soup lover and so is M.  But there are just certain types of soup that really are better on a cold winter's night.  Potato soup is one of them.  It's thick and creamy and warms you from the inside out.  

This particular recipe puts a new twist on your basic potato soup.  Potato and rosemary are a classic combination and, of course, they work beautifully here.  The twist comes from the feta cheese, which adds a wonderfully salty bite to the soup and makes it different enough to stand out without taking away the comfort I always look for in potato soup.  As if all of this wasn't enough, this was BY FAR the easiest potato soup I've ever made.  I felt like I did little more than throw ingredients in a pot and let them go--I didn't even have to peel the potatoes!  Less than 30 minutes stood between me and a bowl of cold weather goodness.  A definite win.

I'm submitting this recipe to Branny Boils Over's Charity Souper Bowl Challenge.  Branny's not much of a football fan, but she loves soup and loves animals.  Last year, she found a very clever way to combine those loves.  For every soup recipe her readers make and submit to her in the month of January, she'll donate $1.00 to the ASPCA.  Last year she donated over $50.  Let's beat it this year!  YOU can enter, too.  Just follow the Souper Bowl link above and follow her simple directions.  You don't even have to have a blog.  Just a camera, an e-mail address, and some soup.  Come on, guys!  You still have two weeks left!


Potato Rosemary Soup
slightly adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Ingredients:
1 TBSP olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 large Russet potatoes, washed and cubed (peeled or not)
6 c. vegetable broth
1 c. water
3 TBSP unsalted butter
3 TBSP all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. milk (I used skim)
3/4 tsp. each salt and black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 c. feta cheese
1/2 TBSP chopped fresh rosemary

Directions:
1. In a large stock pot, heat olive oil and sauté onion until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes. Add potatoes, broth, and water to the pot. Bring to boil and reduce to medium heat. Let potatoes cook until tender, about 20 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove 2 cups potatoes. Set aside. Puree the remaining potatoes with an immersion blender or put potatoes in a blender or food processor.


2. When 5 minutes remain in cooking time for the potatoes, melt butter in a small saucepan.  Stir in flour and cook 2 minutes. Whisk in milk, bring to a boil, and simmer until thickened.  Slowly stir mixture into large stock pot with the pureed potatoes.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a low simmer. Stir the 2 cups of potatoes back into the soup. 

3. Stir in salt, pepper, feta, and rosemary.  If desired, puree further to make completely smooth.  Check salt and pepper and adjust to taste. Cook an additional 5 minutes. Serve warm.  Serves 4-6.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Balsamic-Braised Chicken with Swiss Chard

I just finished eating this.  I'm already looking forward to eating the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.  I pushed back a couple other blog posts to share this one right away.  It was that good.

I should've known.  It comes from America's Test Kitchen, after all.  They test and test and play and play with recipes until they have found the perfect ingredients list, tools, and techniques to get the job done.  For this recipe, they actually found reducing the balsamic to be key to retaining the flavor in the finished dish.  Since they had the pan already out, as they say in the recipe's notes, they might as well use it for a few other simple things before letting the slow cooker finish the job.

I had extra fun with this one since I got to use the brand new slow cooker my mom got me for Christmas.  It has extra functions from a traditional slow cooker, so I was able to sauté and slow cook all in the same vessel.  I can't wait to use it again, especially if it helps me create meals was delicious as this one!


Balsamic-Braised Chicken with Swiss Chard
from America's Test Kichen Slow Cooker Revolution
*slight adaptations noted in parenthesis 

Ingredients:
1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, minced
5 tsp. minced fresh thyme or 1 1/2 tsp. dried
1 TBSP tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 anchovy fillet, rinsed and minced (I used 1 1/2 tsp. anchovy paste)
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
3 TBSP all-purpose flour
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 c. dry red wine
2 bay leaves
12 (6 oz.) bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed, trimmed (I used 8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
6 oz. Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves sliced 1/2 in. thick

Directions:
1.  Heat oil in 12-in. skillet (or super sweet slow cooker!) over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add onion, thyme, tomato paste, garlic, anchovy, and red pepper flakes and cook until onion is softened and slightly brown, 8-10 minutes.  Stir in flour and cook 1 minute more.

2.  Slowly whisk in vinegar, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps.  Cook until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.  Transfer to slow cooker.

3.  Stir tomatoes, broth, wine, and bay leaves into slow cooker.  

4.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker.  Cover and cook until chicken is tender, 4-6 hours, on low.

5.  Gently stir in chard, cover, and cook on high until tender, 20-30 minutes.  

6.  Transfer chicken to platter and tent loosely with foil.  Let braising liquid settle 5 minutes, then skim fat from surface using large spoon.  Discard bay leaves.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with sauce spooned over each chicken piece.    Serves 6-8.  (I served it with basic polenta as recommended in the cookbook.)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Meatless Monday--Curried Lentils and Sweet Potatoes

The food bloggers dilemma--you make something delicious.  Surprisingly delicious, in fact.  I mean, you obviously didn't set out to make something you didn't think would be good, but then it turns out really good.  You love every bite and the leftovers even make great lunches.  So what's the problem?  

It looks like this.


It doesn't sit beautifully in the bowl, it isn't bursting with multiple colors, and the texture doesn't exactly jump out at you.  Frankly, it's downright homely.

But don't judge.  Not every dish can be the beautiful homecoming queen of your kitchen.  What this meal lacks in looks it more than makes up for in flavor and versatility.  In fact, the original calls for yellow curry powder, which I don't like.  Red curry paste was a substitution.  Not a fan of sweet potatoes?  I bet butternut squash would be just as good.  Can't find good chard in the store?  How about kale or escarole?  I don't think you can go wrong.

Curried Lentils with Sweet Potatoes
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:
2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1-in. piece fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
1 1/2 tsp. garam masala
2 TBSP red curry powder
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded if desired, then minced
5-6 c. vegetable broth  
2 lbs. orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-in. cubes (about 4 c.)
1 1/2 c. dried lentils (I used red)
1 bay leaf
1 lb. Swiss chard, center ribs removed, leaves thinly sliced
1 tsp. kosher salt, more to taste
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/3 c. chopped fresh cilantro
zest of 1 lime
juice of 1/2 lime
1/3 c. slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 c. chopped scallions, for garnish  

Directions:
1.  In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion and saute until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes.  

2.  Add garlic, ginger, garam masala, curry powder and jalapeno. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

3.  Stir in 5 c. broth, sweet potatoes, lentils and bay leaf.   Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium, partially cover, and simmer 25 minutes. (If lentils seem dry, add up to 1 cup stock or water, as needed.) 

4.  Stir in chard, salt, and pepper, and continue cooking until lentils are tender and chard is cooked, about 30 to 45 minutes total.

5. Just before serving, stir in cilantro, lime zest and juice.  Spoon into a large, shallow serving dish or individual dishes. Garnish with almonds and scallions.  Serves six.

one year ago: pumpkin dip 
three years ago: mini pumpkin cheesecakes with cinnamon crusts