Sunday, October 2, 2016

Caramel Apple Crisp

Yum! I love apple crisp, it is definitely one of my absolute favorite desserts.  Next to strawberry shortcake, and chocolate chip cookies, and carrot cake, and chocolate cream pie, and....sorry you get the picture, I really like dessert. The best part about this crisp is the addition of the caramel sauce.
 It's so rich, over the top, delicious. The tender and sweet apples paired with the crunchy, crisp topping is the perfect balance.  Don't forget the ice cream, of course! 

Caramel Apple Crisp

Caramel Sauce
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 stick butter (4 tbsp)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Add all of the ingredients to a small saucepan over medium heat.  Stir constantly and bring the mixture to a slow bubble, reduce the heat, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and cool while you prepare the apples.

Apple Crisp
6 to 8 apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the apples in a 9x13 pan and toss with the flour, cinnamon, and caramel sauce.

1 stick butter, cold and cubed
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Mix the flour, oats, sugar, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl.  Add the cubed butter and use your fingers or a pastry cutter to combine with the dry ingredients. Top the apples evenly with the crisp. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until bubbly and golden brown.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Kettle Corn

I wish I had known that homemade kettle corn was so simple. I knew it was just a few basic ingredients but I thought the process was more difficult than it really turned out to be.  K bought one of those Whirly Pop stove top poppers a few years ago because we read an article about all the bad stuff in microwave popcorn. However when I was pregnant with our daughter I had a craving for kettle corn for several weeks so I bought a box of the microwave stuff. I should have looked up a recipe for the homemade version sooner because it was 1000 times better, tasted just like the extraordinarly overpriced yummy bags of kettle corn you can buy at the local fairs.  Speaking of pregnancy cravings, I haven't had time to blog for awhile  (again) because we recently welcomed our second baby into our family.  Aurora was born September 1 weighing 7lbs 10 oz. We absolutely love her and little K is doing a great job adjusting to being a big brother.  Popcorn is one of little K's favorite snacks so I decided to make us a special treat today while Aurora napped. I was pleasantly surprised that it only took about 3 minutes to pop the corn, just as long as it takes to microwave a bag. The kettle corn was so delicious, sweet and crunchy but also salty and buttery just like kettle corn should be. You could probably make this recipe in a regular nonstick pot, just be sure to shake it around the whole time so the popcorn pops evenly.  I hope you give this recipe a try soon!

Homemade Kettle Corn
1/2 cup corn kernels
1 tsp oil
3 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
Salt to taste

Place corn and oil into the pot or Whirly Pop and cook over medium heat.  When the oil starts to sizzle add the sugar and mix well.  Stir or shake the corn constantly until you hear the corn stop popping.  Immediately pour the popcorn into a bowl and toss with butter, vanilla and salt. Best if served immediately, while warm.


Monday, August 1, 2016

Sweet & Sour Dill Refrigerator Pickles

Hey friends, I am back! Although it probably won't last very long since baby girl is due to be here later this month and I am sure my cooking, photographing, and blogging time will be scarce once again.  We have been having an incredibly busy summer squeezing in lots of fun activities with little K, family visits and adventures, a quick getaway to Maine, and prepping for our baby's arrival soon!

We also grew our first successful veggie garden this summer.  Our yard has very sandy soil and gets full sunshine for at least 10 hours a day so our previous attempts went poorly.  For the past several years we have done a few potted plants on the deck just to have some fresh vegetables but this year big K suggested building a raised bed garden out of a large pallet.  He stapled fabric paper to the bottom, attached some support boards around the four sides and filled the whole pallet with great quality dirt/compost mix.  We planted cucumbers, scallions, lettuce, a selection of herbs, and lots of green beans.  A few weeks ago we made 10 pints of my delicious dilly beans with our very own beans and dill!

Last weekend the stack of fresh cucumbers was starting to pile up in the fridge and so I decided to try refrigerator pickles. When I was a kid my parents made and canned a big batch of amazing bread and butter pickles every summer.  I didn't think I would have enough cucumbers to bother with the whole canning process so I decided to give a new recipe a try.  I will have to track down that bread and butter pickle recipe for another year!  These pickles came out great.  The cucumbers stay super crunchy and have wonderful elements of both sweet and sour.  They are definitely more on the dill/sour side of pickles and less reminiscent of bread and butter but they do have a nice sweetness about them.  The combination of adding the onions, garlic, and various spices add nice complexity as well.  This recipe is so tasty and very easily scaled up or down, so whether you have a garden exploding with cucumbers or you would have a pick some up from the market, I really hope you give these pickles a try!

Sweet & Sour Dill Refrigerator Pickles

3 cups sliced pickling cucumbers, approx 1/8" thick
1 small onion, thinly sliced
small bunch of dill
3 small cloves garlic
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tsp whole peppercorns
1 tsp celery seed
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 cups cider or rice wine vinegar (good quality)
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp pickling or sea salt

In a medium saucepan, stir the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt together and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer over medium heat.  Once the sugar and salt are dissolved, remove from the heat, add the turmeric, and let the mixture cool while you prep the other ingredients.  Evenly distribute the garlic, mustard seeds, peppercorns, celery seed and a few sprigs of dill between approximately 3 pint size (16oz) mason jars.  Layer the slices of cucumbers and onion into each jar and then pour over the pickling solution, filling to about 1/2" from the top of the jars.  Place lids and rings on the jars and refrigerator for at least 24 hours before eating.  The pickles should keep fresh in the refrigerator for approximately 2 months or longer.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Spring Veggie Penne "Alfredo"

Sometimes a meal is so good that you decided the recipe must go on the blog, even though it is a crazy Tuesday night, your DSLR camera battery is dead, and you have exactly 12 seconds to finish eating dinner before your wild two year old demands he is "all done." So you whip out your cell phone, put your plate on the floor in the only place of the house that has any natural light available, tell your dog to scoot, and snap the world's most blah picture of this amazing pasta dish!  I have missed out on blogging lots of amazing recipes because I didn't have the opportunity to photograph the dish. I always tell myself, next time I will make sure to plan better, but that hardly happens. So I am putting my perfectionism away and posting this recipe for you! 

This pasta was so delicious and creamy but also very fresh and full of wonderful spring flavors. The sauce is reminiscent of an alfredo but has far less cream and butter and cheese in it than a traditional alfredo sauce.  It still has a great silky texture that coats the pasta nicely but doesn't feel too heavy and it tastes amazing too.  As always, feel free to change out any of the ingredients - use different shaped pasta, use a different combo of vegetables, add a protein if you wish - just customize away until the recipe suits your preferences.  Another huge plus for this recipe is that it took less than 20 minutes to make!  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did.  Let me know if you try any other combos of ingredients that work well together! 
Spring Veggie Penne "Alfredo"

2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
2 green onions, sliced
1 sm red bell pepper, diced
1 cup asparagus pieces, 1" pieces
1 cup quartered baby portabella mushrooms
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups low/no sodium stock of your choice
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Fresh parsely or basil, optional
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb box Penne pasta

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt the water, cook the pasta for one minute less than the box's instructions for al dente, and drain well.  While the water is coming to a boil, prep all of your veggies. Then, heat the butter and olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet or saucepan.  Add the veggies, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook for about 10 minutes or until veggies are just tender.  Stir in the flour, cook for one minute and then whisk in the stock.  I used chicken stock because that is what I had on hand but veggie stock would work great too.  Let the sauce bubble for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until it thickens slightly.  Stir in the cream, the parmesan cheese and the cooked pasta.  Let this bubble away for about 2 more minutes until the pasta is cooked perfectly.  Serve with additional grated parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of chopped fresh herbs, if desired. 


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Pie {{No Bake}}

"Kaden, what did we make?"
"Can my have some?"
"No, it has to go in the fridge and set. Plus you already licked the spatula!"
"Can my touch it?"
"No you can't touch it, you will smoosh it."
"Who did we make this pie for Kaden?"
"Does Daddy like pie?"
"PB pieeeee"
"Can my eat choc-O-lit?"
"I need choc-O-lit!"

"Just be patient for a few minutes and let Mama take some pictures."
"You can wait a few more minutes and then I'll let you have a piece of peanut butter cup."
"I want choc-O-lit!"
"Please wait Kaden, good boy."
"Can my touch it now?!"
"Kaden, go see what Daddy is doing; tell him we finished the pie."
"I want choc-O-lit!"
"How did we make the pie?"
"Bang it!"
"What did we bang?"
"You're right we banged the graham crackers and then we melted chocolate and whipped up peanut butter filling!"
"All done now?"
"Yes, Mama is all done taking pictures!"
"Can my have choc-O-lit?"
"Okay! Just one!"

~Conversation with Kaden, age 22 months

Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Pie

Graham Cracker Crust
1 1/2 cups cinnamon graham cracker crumbs
(or chocolate cookie crumbs or pretzel crumbs)
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar

In a medium bowl, stir together the cracker crumbs and the brown sugar and then add the melted butter.  Stir the mixture well until all of the crumbs are well coated in butter.  Transfer the crust mixture to a 9" pie plate and press into an even layer along the bottom and up the sides.  Chill the crust in the fridge while you make the ganache and mousse.

Chocolate Ganache
1 1/3 cups chopped chocolate
1 cup heavy cream

Place the chocolate in a heat proof bowl or container.  Heat the cream in the microwave for about 2 minutes or on the stove just until you see little bubbles forming around the edges.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit for about 5 minutes.  The chocolate should fully melt in this time and then you can stir well to combine.  If you have any unmelted chocolate you can continue to heat the mixture until it is completely smooth.  Let the ganache cool for about 10 minutes and then pour a layer of ganache into the chilled pie crust.  The amount of your ganache layer is completely up to you.  Make sure to leave enough to garnish the top of the pie.  Return the pie to the fridge to chill while you make the mousse.

Peanut Butter Mousse
1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
1 cup softened cream cheese
1 cup confectioner's (powered) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
Peanut Butter Cups, for garnish

In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to cream together the softened cream cheese and peanut butter until smooth and fluffy.  Beat in the confectioner's sugar and vanilla extract until well combined.  In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream to soft peaks.  Fold the whipped cream gently into the peanut butter mixture, until well combined.  Transfer the peanut butter mouse to the pie plate and decorate with remaining chocolate ganache and chopped peanut butter cups, if desired.  Place the pie in the refrigerator for at least two hours to set firm.


Inspired by Gretchen's Bakery