Monday, September 30, 2013

SRC: Pioneer Woman's Perfect Pancakes

When I was browsing through Making Miracles, my Secret Recipe Club assignment for this month, I was torn.  Do I make sweet? Savory? Breakfast? Lunch/supper?  Which way do I want to go?  I browsed through many of her recipes that sounded amazing; cinnamon roll cake, carrot cake cinnamon rolls, slow cooker balsamic beef dip sandwiches, slow cooker brown sugar and garlic chicken, caramel nougat bar peanut butter cookies, or big, fat, chewy chocolate chip cookies.  I could go on and one, but I won't.
There were so many options to choose from and they all sounded delicious.  I was leaning more towards the cookies, since I'm a sucker for a hot, chewy cookies, but my little man had some say-so in the decision and in the end he always wins.  He wanted breakfast food, pancakes to be exact.  So we decided to go with Pioneer Woman's Perfect Pancakes.  These are a favorite of Rebekah and her family, so I knew we couldn't go wrong with these pancakes.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Candy Corn White Chocolate Haystacks

If you've been in any store lately you are well aware that fall is here and Halloween is right around the corner.   With Halloween comes parties, costumes, Trick-Or-Treaters, all that good Halloween candy and of course, yummy treat making.  Each time I enter the store during this time of year I can't help but peruse the seasonal isle to check out all the candy that is available.  Then comes the hard part, do I practice willpower or give in an buy several a few bags to munch on and possibly bake with?  Well, if you are reading this post then obviously the later of the two happened.  Yup, I had no willpower.  I bought some candy corn while I was at the store.
Oh, if candy corn were the only thing I bought that would be good.  But you and I both know that didn't happen.  Nope, I got candy corn, Reeses, and Snickers just to name a few.  I could go on but then I'd just be embarrassed.  Time will go on and you'll see what other sweets made it into my basket. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

DB: Tres Leches Cake

Inma of la Galletika was our Sept. 2013 Daring Bakers’ hostess and WOW did she bring us something decadent and delicious! Pastel de Tres Leches or Three Milk Cake, creamy yet airy, super moist but not soggy.. just plain delish!

Lately I've seen tres leches cake making appearances; on t.v., blogs, in magazines and I've been wanting to try one to see what all the rave was about.  With them gaining such popularity I knew there had to be something amazing about them, but I needed to see what it was all about for myself.  And if the ever growing popularity wasn't enough, I actually had a conversation with some friends a few weekends ago and they kept going on and on about these cakes.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Smitten Kitchen: Flat Roasted Chicken

There are many people, myself included, that think a roast chicken is a roast chicken.  Season with a little salt and pepper and pop in the oven and bake.  Simple enough, right?  Well, I got The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook as a gift for my sister-in-law shortly after it's release (and decided to go ahead and get one for myself since I had been anxiously awaiting the release) and it wasn't long after I gave it to her that I got a text.  They had made something from the cookbook and were addicted.  They made the flat roasted chicken and were in love and amazed.  Not only were they infatuated with this recipe, but they had since gotten many of their friends to make this recipe.  This is now their "go to" roasted chicken recipe.
The next time we went to their house they made this chicken.  Can I say, I see what all the fuss was about.  It's bursting with flavor, moist, tender and juicy.  Seasoned perfectly with a little salt and pepper the roasted with an assortment of veggies nestled under and around the chicken and  roasted.  The chicken comes out of the oven picture perfect.  Once it's completely baked, it's topped with a healthy dose of fresh lemon juice and thyme.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Spicy Mango Chutney

Chutney.  What is chutney, exactly?  It sounds fancy doesn't it?  For the longest time I've been intimidated of the word alone, let alone attempting to make the stuff from scratch.  In my opinion, the term chutney sounds incredibly fancy.  But, before you start becoming like me and getting all nervous about the term let me tell you exactly what a fruit chutney is.  Chutney is a mixture of fruit, sugar, vinegar and a variety of spices that is slowly cooked until the mixture has thickened and resembles a relish. 
So we now know what chutney is.  Now you're probably wanting to know if it's hard to make.  Well, the answer is no.  Not at all.  To make the chutney you need fruit, vinegar, desired spices, and sugar.  Combine all of these ingredients, cook over low heat until the fruit is tender, mash and allow to cook until thickened.  That's it.  Easy, right?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Caprese Chicken

The first "official" day of fall is right around the corner, but you couldn't tell my looking at thermometers in my neck of the woods or looking at my garden in my back yard.  We've been in the mid 90's for the past week and my garden is still full of jalapenos, bell peppers, fresh basil, chives, large tomatoes and those delicious little grape tomatoes.  I honestly think the garden is actually doing better now than it has all season, go figure!  So, needless to say, we still have tons of fresh veggies at our fingertips. 

When I came across this recipe on The Novice Chef's Blog, it was a no-brainer, I knew I had to make this.  And soon.  Not only did I have an abundance of fresh tomatoes just waiting to be used, I also love love love Caprese salad.  So combining tender juicy chicken with this salad just had to be a match made in heaven.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Slow Cooker Maple and Brown Sugar Pork Tenderloin

I have always been a fan of the slow cooker.  I love that you can add a bunch of ingredients to a big ol' pot, turn it on and walk away.  In a matter of hours you have a delicious and flavorful meal that required very little effort.  More times that not I use my slow cooker throughout the week.  This allows me to have a tasty meal ready for my family whenever we walk through the door at the end of the day.  You really can't beat that can you?  No racing around the kitchen at 5:30 and more time with my family.  It's a win win.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Apple Cake with Brown Butter Frosting

It's September which means fall, football, tailgates, soups and stews and the best time of year to eat apples.  Apple orchards are in full bloom that means an abundance of fresh apples.  So what's one to do with an overflow of apples?  Make an apple cake, of course!  I enjoy apple cakes throughout the year, but fall has to be my favorite time of all to make them.  Why?  Well, because apples are at their prime, there's nothing better than welcoming fall with the combinations of apples, cinnamon and brown sugar.  Even better, in the cake form.  Why else is apple cake one of my favorites?  Because it's so easy to make! 
So apples are one of my loves.  What's another?  Well, browned butter.  It's no mystery to you that I love my browned butter.  I may very well be an addict.  The stuff is just amazing, life changing.  It's just down right good, folks.  I use browned butter in so many recipes; both sweet and savory.  It just adds a depth of flavor that you can't achieve with anything else. 
So I got to thinking.  I love apples.  I love browned butter.  Why not take these two weaknesses of mine and combine them?  How about a moist apple cake topped with brown butter frosting?  Ohhhh yeah, that's what I'm talking about!  This is a combination that I recommend.  One that you actually need in your life.  This is no joke.  You truly need this. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Macaroni and Cheese: Apple Lover's Style

Comfort food. Apples. Cheese. Pasta. Hard cider.  All things I love and all that scream fall.  Now would you necessarily think of combining all of these ingredients?  Maybe not at first.  But what if I were to tell you that this hard cider mac and cheese is life changing?  Chalk full of onions, apple chunks, tons of cheese and pasta.  Would you be intrigued?
For you skeptics out there, you're not alone.  Spencer had to give me a double take when I first mentioned wanting to place this recipe on the meal plan.  I guess more than anything it was the apples in the mac and cheese that really threw him for a loop.  But after he thought about it for a minute, he looked at me and said "sounds interesting, but apples and cheese go together so this sounds like it will work too"!  So with that, I officially added it to our menu and couldn't wait to actually make the dish.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Crockpot Apple Butter

Apple butter has long been one of my food loves, perhaps maybe one of my first food loves.  As long as I can remember, anytime I encountered a jar of this stuff I went weak in my knees and haaaaad  to have a taste, schmear or jar of it!  Obviously the homemade stuff was (and still is) the best, but I wasn't picky (and am still not) when it comes to this stuff.  Whatever, wherever...I'll take it.   

A few years ago Spencer and I went on vacation with my parents to Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  I had done some research before we went and had a list of restaurants that received rave reviews that I wanted to try.  There was one that intrigued me for a few reasons; one because of all the reviews but the one that really sealed the deal was the name Apple Barn Cider Mill.  That name just screamed to me and then I read their menu; "apple fritters with a side of apple butter dipping sauce".  That was it, I knew before we left Gatlinburg we had to run through Sevierville and visit this restaurant and see if it lived up to expectations.
Well, I got my wish and we ate breakfast at the Apple Barn our last day there on our way out of town.  We pulled in and it was a small, little wooden building with a tin roof and the smallest parking lot ever and it was packed.  That was an immediate good sign.  We walked in, were seated and quickly ordered.  And ohmygoodness, it hit the spot and surpassed any expectations I had.  Everything was fresh, hot and sooooo good! And they had my weakness, that magical apple butter.  This apple butter was beyond amazing and was probably some of the best stuff I've ever put in my mouth.  Sweet, with a mixture of warm spices, smooth and a little creamy and simply mind blowing.  I was in love with their apple butter.  What's even better?  They had a little shop right before you walked out the door.  So what did I do?  I stocked up on their apple butter and even a few extra jars for gifts.  Yes, it's that good.  So on the years we head back to Tennessee the Apple Barn is priority on our list of stops.  Oh, yeah and they've done such a good business that they've moved locations and built not only a new restaurant but a separate store, along with a creamery, Christmas shop and I don't think their done yet.  It's its own little "compound".  Incredibly impressive.  So the little barn is booming and it's all because of their quality products!
Since we head to Tennessee every other year for vacation, I'm not able to enjoy their apple butter yearly. (yes, I could order on-line...and I have, but it's just not the same as actually buying it there) So I figured it was due time to attempt my own, homemade apple butter.  What better time to do so than apple season?  I went to the market, stocked up on a few different types of apples, broke out the slow cooker and got to work.  The end result, not only did my house smell like the epitome of fall but I had a smooth, creamy and spice packed apple butter that was pretty darn close to the stuff I enjoyed at the Apple Barn.  This makes a perfect snack and is a wonderful addition to muffins, bread, biscuits...even pork chops (pork chops and apple sauce, how about apple butter???) or even by the spoonful.  This would also make terrific gifts and favors.  Just make sure to save a jar or three for yourself!

Crockpot Apple Butter

6 1/2 Pounds apples; peeled, cored and chopped*
1 Cup granulated sugar
1 Cup packed brown sugar
3/4 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 Tsp grated nutmeg
Pinch ground cloves
1/4 Tsp salt
1 Tbsp vanilla

In a large bowl combine both sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt and stir to combine.  Working in batches, place apples in sugar mixture and toss to coat.  Place the sugar covered apples in the crockpot and repeat process until all apples are coated.  Pour the remaining cinnamon sugar mixture in the crockpot over the apples.

Turn the crockpot on low and cook the apples for about 10 hours, stirring occasionally until the mixture has thickened and is dark brown in color. 

Once the mixtured has thickened, add vanilla and stir to combine.  Leave the mixture uncovered and continue cooking on low heat for an additional 2 hours.

Using an immersion blender, puree the apple butter until smooth.  If you do not have an immersion blender, you may accomplish the same result with a blender.  Work carefully in small batches and pulse until pureed. 

Spoon the mixture into sterilized jars and seal with canning lids.  Refrigerate for up to two weeks or freeze.  Alternately, place sealed jars in a large pot of water, bring to a boil.  Once water reaches the boiling stage start the timer and boil for 10 minutes.  Carefully check the lids to make sure a seal is formed (the middle shouldn't pop up and down).  If the lids are sealed, transfer to a towel lined counter and allow to cool.  If the lids still aren't sealed return water to a boil and repeat the boiling process.

*For the apples I used 1 1/2 pound Granny Smith, 1 1/2 pounds Gala, 2 pound of Honeycrisp, 1 1/2 pounds fuji.  If you can't find Honeycrisp Pink Ladies would subsitute wonderfully.  

Recipe source: My Baking Addiction

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Butternut Squash Pot Stickers

While I love testing and trying new foods and recipes, I definitely have a culinary comfort zone.  That comfort zone tends not to include foods in Asian category.  There's just something about the thought cooking on a wok that intimidates me.  Who knows, it could have something to do with the showmanship that goes on at the hibachi grill that has contributed to that intimidation too.  While Asian cuisine is one of my favorites I rarely attempt it at home. 
But, since I try to push myself and try things beyond my comfort levels I decided it was due time to attempt this cuisine again.  I decided to start simple, dip my toes in the water rather than diving in head first.  It's all about baby steps, right?  So I decided to start small, by making these cute, little pot stickers.  Not only would these allow me to dabble in Asian cuisine it would also help me welcome Fall since their stuffed with butternut squash.  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Cinnamon Pear Jam

Growing up, my MaMaw had a pear tree right in her front yard.  I lived right down the street from her and would walk up to visit her pretty much on a daily basis.  When the pear tree starting blooming I would go pluck a pear or two from the tree each time I passed it.  There's nothing much better than sinking your teeth into a ripe, juicy pear straight from the tree!  The epitome of fresh!  While I enjoyed pears in their original state, I also enjoyed picking several pears from that tree and taking them into my MaMaw's kitchen and making various items.  Once of our favorites was pear sauce.  Simple, incredibly easy to make and full of flavor.  Fresh juicy pears boiled down then seasoned with a bit of sugar and a dash of cinnamon.  Oh. So. Good.  My MaMaw is gone now but that memory lives on.  Every time I go home, I pass that tree and those memories re-emerge.

Any time I pass the pears in the grocery store I think of my MaMaw and her pear trees and how much we enjoyed those fresh pears.  Well, pears are back in season and this year I decided to look up some pear recipes and make some that I know my MaMaw would definitely approve of.  One of the first recipes I came across was cinnamon pear jam.  Yum, right?  It screams comfort, cozy, and Fall.  And definitely would be MaMaw approved. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

S'mores Skillet Cookie

I am a sweet lover through and through.  I love anything that has sugar in the ingredient list.  I'm a sucker for it! That being said it's no surprise that cookies are a weakness for me, as well as s'mores.  There's nothing better than popping a giant marshmallow on a stick, holding it over an open fire and letting it get slighty charred on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside.  Sandwiching that hot marshmallow and a slab of chocolate between two slightly salty and sweet graham crackers definitely makes for the ultimate dessert.
Since I don't always have access to an open fire to toast some marshmallows I decided to take my love for s'mores and my love for skillet cookies and fuse the two together.  A s'mores skillet cookie.  Two layers of graham cracker cookie dough that encloses a layer of sweet chocolate chips, chocolate syrup, and soft and sticky marshmallows.  Now that's a cookie.  A giant 12 inch cookie to be exact.
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