Monday, October 31, 2011

Mini Triple-Treat Cupcakes

Trick-or-Mini-triple-treat and Happy Halloween!  A big thank you to Emily for cooking with me and taking beautiful photos so that I could share all those apple recipes with you last week.  If you liked the series please leave a comment and let us know.  We'd also love to hear what ideas you'd have for future marathon themes :).  Now back to your regularly scheduled programming (and not so awesome photos) with me.

When I saw these on Josie's blog and had some leftover candy corn I knew they were simply too cute not to make.  It's very similar to the standard peanut butter cup blossom cookies that you see all the time but with a dough that's more fluffy and cake-like in texture (it is a cupCAKE after all) and topped with candy corn for extra festivity.

Go ahead and make these for your favorite ghouls and goblins tonight.

Two Years Ago: Turkey Bean Pumpkin Chili and Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
One Year Ago: Who Loves Ya Baby Back?

Mini Triple-Treat Cupcakes

Yields: 48 mini cupcakes

Mini Triple-Treat Cupcakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 6 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 48 miniature Reese's peanut butter cups
  • 48 pieces candy corn
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two 24-cup mini muffin pans with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lour, baking powder, and salt. 
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the peanut butter, butter, and brown sugar until pale and fluffy.  Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk, scraping down the bowl as needed.  With the mixer on low, beat in the flour mixture and the buttermilk just until combined. 
  4. Place 2 teaspoons of batter into each muffin cup, then press a peanut butter cup into the center until the batter aligns with the top edge of the candy.
  5. Bake until puffed and set, about 10 minutes.  Immediately press the candy corn into the top of each cupcake.  Let cool completely in the pans on wire racks before serving.
Source: Originally from Every Day Food, October 2011 as adapted by and seen on Pink Parsley

Friday, October 28, 2011

Apple Cinnamon Truffles

This is it.  The grand finale to Apple Extravaganza week on my blog and coincidentally also all-time post #250! That's some pretty exciting stuff!  Who would have known that in just a few years I would have made so many new recipes (and honestly, what I post isn't even all of it!).  You all inspire me to do what I do!

Now back to this recipe.  My husband absolutely LOVES truffles.  At Valentine's Day one year I made Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles and our friend Jackie made Oreo Truffles.  He pretty much inhaled them both and we were baffled at how few truffles were leftover at the end of the night.  Anytime I make a dessert he practically begs me to make the cookie dough truffles so I thought I'd throw a truffle recipe into the baking mix.  Chris wasn't so keen on the idea of having fruit instead of chocolate in the mix but he went along with it anyway.

Scott was a little sad when he found out the oreos were going to be pulverized to be used in the recipe but once they were put together he changed his tune, too.  These were a hit with both of our guys!  They're very sweet and the small size makes them deadly because you feel justified in eating several at a time.  Not surprisingly Chris guarded his allotted truffles once we got home.  Sharing was not an option but that's okay because I happily ate the other treats that Emily and I produced.

To sum things up, Emily and I made six recipes between the two of us:
If you liked these posts, leave a comment to let us know because Emily and I (and/or any of my Dinner Club friends) would LOVE to do another marathon cooking/baking session sometime.  Any theme ideas or recipes that you have to share would be lovely!  If you want to be a taste-tester for one of our sessions, we might be able to arrange that, too ;).

Apple Cinnamon Truffles

Apple Cinnamon Truffles
Photo Credit: My wonderfully talented friend, Emily
  • 1 package Golden Oreos
  • 6 oz Cream Cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup Apple Pie Filling, pureed
  • 1 tsp Ginger, divided
  • 2 packages White Chocolate Baking Bars
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon 
  • Crushed Pecans, for garnish
  1. Add the Oreos to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until fine crumbs form. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl) and mix together with the pumpkin (or pureed apple pie filling), cream cheese and 1/2 tsp. ginger. Once combined, use a cookie scoop to form into small balls and place on a plate. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, until firm. 
  2. Cover a baking sheet with wax paper and set aside. Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring after each time, until fully melted. Stir in the cinnamon and remaining 1/2 tsp. ginger. 
  3. Remove the balls from the fridge and dip into the chocolate, making sure they are coated evenly. Place on the wax paper and repeat until all balls are covered in chocolate. Sprinkle pecans on top and refrigerate until hardened.
Source: The Jey of Cooking as slightly adapted from Cooking with Christen

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

Holy mother of butter!  I urge you to try to ignore the fact that there are not one, not two, but THREE sticks of butter in this recipe because once you do, you can fully enjoy the ecstasy of this rich dessert.  As I mentioned yesterday, this is a Paula Deen recipe so to contain lots of butter is a pre-requisite.  Oh and don't worry, Paula threw in three APPLES to offset all that butter :P.

I picked this as an option because I wanted something caramel.  Apples are caramel just go together and this recipe is no different.  The flavor was much like the Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie but way less time intensive in the event presentation is not so important.  With its classic, rich flavors, it's no wonder that Emily voted this her favorite recipe of the bunch.  But, Emily being Emily and not able to practice self control gave THE ENTIRE PAN to me and my husband to take home.  Thank a lot Em.  Way to make Chris and me fat ;).

Tomorrow I'm wrapping up the Apple Extravaganza posts.  I'm saving the boys' favorite recipe for last.  Hint: They're bite sized which makes them extra deadly!

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
Photo Credit: My beautiful friend Emily


For the Bars
  •  2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar 
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened 
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons, divided 
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
For the Streusel Topping
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar 
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats 
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup caramel topping
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  2. To make the streusel topping: In a small bowl, combine all ingredients except the caramel.
  3. To make the bars: In a medium bowl, combine flour and brown sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Press evenly into a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking pan lined with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned. 
  4. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 1/2 cup sugar in an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Then add eggs, 1 at a time, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour over warm crust. 
  5. In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle evenly with Streusel topping. Bake 30 minutes, or until filling is set. Drizzle with caramel topping. 
Source: Originally from Paula Deen as seen on Delicious Meliscious

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Shrimp with Green Apple Chipotle Salsa

All of the recipes that Emily and I made during our apple extravaganza were sweet with the exception of this one.  I have had this particular recipe bookmarked in my Google Reader forever and had suggested this as a savory option for our collection.  To be honest, I'd take savory over sweet any day, anyway!  When it came time to pick the final recipes I actually didn't end up picking this one but it was Emily's husband Scott that chose it to be made.  Yep, we gave the boys a say.  They were going to be eating everything, after all, so it only seemed fair.

I really liked the bold slightly spicy flavor of the shrimp in this recipe and overall it was quite a delicious dish.  It certainly gave our sweet tastebuds a break.  What we all agreed was disappointing was the fact that the apple was completely overwhelmed by the red onion and cilantro.  It really isn't all that surprising given how strong those particular flavors are and if it weren't for the whole "apple" theme it wouldn't matter at all.  Eh...who am I me, it still didn't matter at all.  I happily gobbled up this savory treat and was so glad that Scott added it back into the mix :).

Only two more recipes left to share!  Tomorrow I'll be sharing Emily's favorite recipe from the batch.  Hint: It's a Paula Deen so get ready to get your butter on.

Shrimp with Green Apple Chipotle Salsa

Photo Credit: My friend Emily


For the salsa

  • 1/2 c. diced Granny Smith apple
  • 1/4 c. diced red onion
  • 1/4 c. diced red bell pepper
  • 2 TBSP chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. chipotle chile powder
  • 1/8 tsp. Cayenne pepper
  • salt and black pepper, to taste 
For the shrimp
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. light brown sugar
  1. Combine all ingredients for salsa in a medium bowl and mix well.  Cover and refrigerate at least one hour before serving.
  2. To cook the shrimp, heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Meanwhile, combine shrimp and all spices in a large bowl.  Toss to coat.  Place shrimp in the saute pan and cook one to two minutes per side, depending on size of shrimp.
  3. Serve shrimp over a bed of salsa. Serves four.

Source: Scoot Uehlein, Canyon Ranch Cooks as adapted by and seen on Apple a Day

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Apple Cider Butter

So continues apple extravaganza week here at Christine's Kitchen Chronicles.  This particular recipe was considered a "bonus".  Emily had the bright idea to make something that we could enjoy later once everything else was long gone into our bellies.  I didn't even know we were making apple butter until I showed up at her house and saw a bunch of canning supplies out on her kitchen table.  What a pleasant surprise :).

Since we haven't opened these precious jars yet I can't speak to the taste but the smell while it was cooking?  Wow.  Delicious.  Just like apple cider!  Honestly, I've never tried apple butter before and am curious as to why it's called "butter".  Also, I need inspiration!  What's your favorite way to enjoy apple butter?

Coming up tomorrow, something savory to mix things up a bit!  And remember, if the anticipation of waiting to see what might show up is killing you, you can always become a fan of my facebook page for sneak peeks of posts!

Apple Cider Butter

Yields: 4 pints
Photo Credit: My friend Emily
  • 10 cups peeled, chopped, cored Granny Smith (or other tart) apples
  • 6 cups apple cider
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1.5 teaspoons allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 1.5 teaspoons nutmeg
  1. Prepare canner, jars and lids per manufacture directions.
  2. In a stainless steel saucepan, combine apple pieces and cider. Cook until apples are tender – about 20 minutes.  Puree apples using an immersion blender or transfer cooked apples into a blender.  Put the pureed mixture back into the pan and add your sugar and spices. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly to prevent burning, until thick.
  3. Pour into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Wipe rim, center lid on jar, and add screw band to fingertip tight.
  4. Process in a canner bath for 20 minutes at sea level, more depending on altitude or larger size of jar. Remove canner lid and let jars rest for 5 minutes before removing from the water. Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them.
  5. Cool jars overnight. Once the jars have cooled, ensure they are sealed. Press down gently in the center of the lid. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. Put the jar in the refrigerator and enjoy it for the next 3 – 4 weeks. If the lid remains taut, you've got a good seal.
Source: Canning with Kids

Monday, October 24, 2011

Apple Cider Beignets with Butter-Rum Caramel Sauce

I can't believe it's already been over a week since Emily and I had our apple baking extravaganza.  As promised, I'll be continuing to share the recipes EVERY DAY this week.  That's two bonus posts for the week...not to mention more of Emily's drool worthy pictures.  You should be excited!

It has always been an inside joke...and probably desire...of the folks in my Dinner Club to do a fried theme.  So, Emily and I figured we should bust out her Fry Daddy and make sure we had a fried recipe in our repertoire to make in their honor.  Since we tagged teamed the recipe list and I was *still* working on those oh-so-time-consuming Apple Pie Cookies, this recipe was all Emily.

On the outside, these look like simple donuts but on the inside, there's actually an entire apple slice to offset the unhealthiness ;).  This recipe also uses sparkling apple cider instead of sugar to give them just a touch of sweetness.  Personally, I was craving more sweetness so I'd either dust it with more powdered sugar, douse it in more of that yummy butter-rum caramel sauce, or go ahead and add some regular sugar to the batter...or maybe all of the above.  Haha!

Next up tomorrow?  Something that will keep long after everything else was gobbled up.  Any guesses?  

Apple Cider Beignets with Butter-Rum Caramel Sauce

Photo Credit: My friend Emily

For the Sauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/3 cups water
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
For the Beignets
  • About 8 cups vegetable oil, divided
  • 2 Golden Delicious apples
  • 1 3/4 cups self-rising cake flour*, divided
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup sparkling apple cider
  • Confectioner's sugar for dusting
*If you can’t find self-rising cake flour, you can substitute self-rising all-purpose. Use 1 cup in the batter and 1/2 cup for dredging. Increase cider to 1 cup and follow recipe as directed.

  1. Make the Sauce: Heat sugar in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring with a fork to heat sugar evenly, until it starts to melt, then stop stirring and cook, swirling skillet occasionally so sugar melts evenly, until it is dark amber. Stir in butter, water, rum, vinegar, and a pinch of salt (caramel will harden and steam vigorously) and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until caramel has dissolved. Add cream and bring to a boil, stirring, then remove from heat. Cool to warm. 
  2. Make the Beignets: If you have a deep-fryer, use that and heat the oil to 375F.  Otherwise, preheat oven to 250°F with rack in middle. Set a cooling rack in a large shallow baking pan. Heat 2 inches oil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat to 375°F.
  3. Meanwhile, peel apples and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cut out core with cutter, then pat apple rings dry. 
  4. Put 1 1/4 cups flour in a large shallow bowl and make a well in center. Beat egg in a small bowl with a fork, then stir in cider and 1 tablespoon oil and pour into well. Stir with fork until a lumpy batter forms.
  5. Working in batches of 3 or 4, dredge apple rings in remaining 1/2 cup flour, shaking off excess, then dip in batter to coat, letting excess drip off, and fry, gently turning over once with a slotted spoon, until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes total per batch. Transfer to rack and keep warm in oven. Return oil to 375°F between batches.  
  6. Just before serving, dust warm beignets with confectioners sugar. Stir sauce, then serve on the side.
Make-ahead Notes: 
  • Sauce can be made 3 days ahead and chilled, covered. Warm before serving.
  • Beignets are best freshly made but can be fried 2 hours ahead and kept, loosely covered, at room temperature. Reheat beignets (they should not touch) on a rack set in a large shallow baking pan, uncovered, in a 325°F oven until hot, 15 to 20 minutes.
Source: Gourmet

Friday, October 21, 2011

Apple Pie Cookies

My friend Emily and I love to cook and bake.  Emily, in particular, almost always makes sure to snag the dessert category for our Dinner Club.  She's also our resident photographer with her fancy d-SLR camera and eye for composition.  I'm always so envious of her pictures!

When she had the idea to do a marathon baking session we were both giddy with excitement.  We decided it would be fun to go to an apple orchard and pick apples then make tons of recipes with them that same day.  Unfortunately for us the apple crop in our area was damaged from bad weather earlier in the year and the one orchard that did have u-pick apples was about 45 minutes away and pretty picked over by the time we were ready to get together this past weekend.  So, the apples came from our local grocer but that didn't stop us from baking up a storm.

We donned our cute aprons (which Emily specially bought an apple print one for the occasion!) and went to work while our husbands plopped down on the couch and watched massive amounts of TV.  The only time they paused was when a new dish was ready for them to try.  So, with the recipe list was set, the ingredients purchased, and taste-testers lined up, we were ready to go!

To kick us off, Emily pre-made the crust for this recipe the evening before our event.  She also helped prep my apples and spice mixture and then off I went to roll, cut, and assemble these gorgeous cookies.  Somehow as time went on my cookies got fatter...I guess because I didn't have the best gauge of how much filling to put in.  Honestly, they were a royal pain in the butt to assemble but the end result was a cookie sized apple pie...essentially a small apple pie or hand pie :).  As our friend Jackie pointed out, these were certainly the cutest of all the treats that were created that day.  They were fantastic when warm out of the oven or re-heated in the toaster oven.  In fact, it made a perfectly good breakfast this morning when I realized my husband had used all of the milk ;).

Don't forget to come back next week when I'll post a recipe EVERY (WEEK) DAY!  If you're a fan on facebook, I'll even give you a sneak peek photo for the next post ;).

Apple Pie Cookies

Photo Credit: My friend and baking partner in crime, Emily

For the Crust
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting surfaces, dipping fork
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (doubled from my standard pie dough to make this more cookie-like)
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces, 16 tablespoons or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold
  • 1/2 cup water, very cold (I pour 1 cup and add ice while I work, then measure 1/2 cup from it when I need it)
For the Filling
  • 3 medium baking apples (such as granny smith, gala, or golden delicious)
  • Squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Few gratings fresh nutmeg
  • A pinch of any other spices you like in your apple pie
For Finishing
  • 1 large egg
  • Coarse or granulated sugar for garnish
  1. Make your pie dough: Whisk together flour, sugar and salt in the bottom of a large, wide-ish bowl. Using a pastry blender, two forks or your fingertips, work the butter into the flour until the biggest pieces of butter are the size of small peas. Gently stir in the ice water with a rubber spatula, mixing it until a craggy mass forms. Get your hands in the bowl and knead it just two or three times to form a ball. Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and flatten a bit, like a disc. Chill in fridge for at least an hour or up to two days. 
  2.  Meanwhile, get everything else together: Line up six small dishes. In the first one, pour some water. Leave the second one empty; you’ll use it for your apples in a bit. In the third one, mix the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and any other spices you like in your pie, such as a pinch of cloves. In the fourth one, place a little bit of flour to dust your surface and dip your fork for crimping. In the fifth one, whisk an egg with one teaspoon of water until smooth. In the last one, or in whatever container you keep it in, add some coarse or regular sugar for decorating the tops of the pies. 
  3. On a well-floured counter, roll out your pie dough a little shy of 1/8-inch thick. Lift and rotate your dough as you roll it, to ensure that it rolls out evenly and so you can be sure it’s not sticking in any place. Use a round cookie cutter (I used 2 1/2") to cut as many rounds as you can from the dough. Transfer them to parchment- or silcone mat lined baking sheets and keep them in the fridge until you need them. Once you’ve finished the first packet, repeat the process with the second packet of dough
  4. Prepare your apples: Peel your apples. Cut into thin (1/8-inch thick) slices. Place them in your second bowl, covering them with a few drops of lemon juice if you find that they’re browning quickly.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  6. Assemble your cookies: Grab your first disc of chilled dough and lightly dampen it on one side with the water to help it seal. Add some apple slices to the center of the disk, leaving about 1/2" to 3/4" around the edges. Place a second disc of dough on top and press the tops and bottoms around the apple with your fingers. Cut decorative slits in your “pies”. Dip your fork in the flour and use it to create a decorative crimp on the sealed edges. Brush your cookie with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Replace on baking sheet and chill while you prepare the others. 
  7. Bake your apple pie cookies for 20-25 minutes, or until puffed and bronzed and very pie-like. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool before eating.  
Do ahead: These will keep for a few days at room temperature. You could also make a larger batch of these, doing everything but brushing them with egg and sprinkling them with sugar, and keep them frozen until needed. Bake them directly from the freezer, just adding a couple minutes to the baking time.

Source: Smitten Kitchen

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Recipe Swap: Chunky Italian Vegetable Soup

For this week's recipe swap I got another recipe from Fried Ice and Donut Holes and submitted my recipe for Chinese Chicken Corn Soup though I'm not sure yet who received it.  Guess we'll see when the hostess with the mostess does her roundup at A Taste of Home Cooking :).

This one I knew I had to tone down for my hubby's sake.  He's dealt with acid reflux for his entire adult life and is even permanently on Prilosec for basically the rest of his life.  A recipe that is nearly all tomatoes would be torturous for him so I ended up taming it a bit and making mine into more of a soup instead of stew.  Also for his sake, I omitted the eggplant (which he won't eat solely because it has the word "egg" in it...he hates eggs that taste/look like eggs) and added a healthy serving of green beans instead.  Lastly, a handful of elbow macaroni to add some more heartiness to the meal.  The result was pretty good but still too overwhelmed by tomato for our tastes.

Chunky Italian Vegetable Soup


  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 (small-ish) Onion, chopped
  • 1-2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 2 small Zucchini, cubed
  • 1 medium Yellow Squash, cubed
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, cut into squares
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, cut into squares
  • 1 cup green beans, ends trimmed and cut in half if desired
  • 1 (28 ounce) can Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 (28 ounce) can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 2 cups Chicken Broth (sub veggie to make this completely vegetarian)
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine (optional)
  • Basil (I used about 4 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons)
  • 1/2 tablespoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 cup elbow macaroni
  • Parmesan Cheese
  1. In a large pot, add oil and heat until shimmering.  Then add the garlic and onion and saute until onions are translucent.  Then vegetables and saute for several minutes more.
  2. Empty both cans of tomatoes, broth, and wine into the pot.  Add the spices and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 30-45 minutes. 
  3. While the soup is simmering, cook elbow macaroni per the package instructions.
  4. Put a serving of macaroni into into bowls then ladle soup over top and garnish with parmesan cheese.
Source: Modified from Fried Ice and Donut Holes

Monday, October 17, 2011

Coconut Potato Curry with Basil and Pecans

This was a quick vegetarian curry that was perfect for a cold night.  I considered making it in the crockpot while I went to work during the day but it comes together so quickly that you don't even need it.  My only wish is that I had made rice to go with this dish to sop up all the delicious juices!

Two Years Ago: Grandma B's Brownies - This recipe comes from Chris' grandmother and she made THE BEST brownies.  Yep, we're letting you in on the secret recipe ;).

Coconut Potato Curry with Basil and Pecans

Yields: 4 Servings (1.5 cups each)

  • 500 g new potatoes, steamed for 10 minutes
  • 1/3 cup pecans (or nut of your choice), chopped
  • 1 cup green beans (or peas, or mixed vegetables), fresh or frozen
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 1 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Handful of basil, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. In a large pan, heat the oil and cumin.  When they begin to sizzle, add the pecans and gently roast.  Add the steamed potatoes and toss to coat.  Add 1/2 cup water with the tomato paste and incorporate.  Add the cherry tomatoes and simmer for 5-8 minutes.
  2. Add all of the spices.  Stir well to coat the potatoes.  Mash any tomatoes that are cooked through.  Simmer for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add the coconut milk and red bell pepper and green beans (or other veggies).  Simmer until the sauce begins to thicken.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add chopped basil to garnish.  Serve as is or over rice (or caulirice)  if desired.
Source: Very slightly modified from Prevention RD

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pan-Fried Okra

Brace yourself.  I have a confession to make.  I have never had fried okra before.

If you've been a long-time reader of mine you'll recall that I have a deep disdain for frying food.  It's greasy, it's messy, and it's just plain unhealthy.  When I do get the urge to fry my food, I'll go halfway and do pan-fried.  This way, I can better control the amount of oil that I use and it doesn't generally smell up the house like a McDonald's nearly as much as deep-frying does.

I loved the way this pan-fried okra turned out and can understand why after I bookmarked this recipe on my Pinterest board why they got repinned over and over again. They were like little golden nuggets of crunchy goodness.  Very addicting.

Pan-Fried Okra

  • 3 cups okra, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (may need a bit more)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  1. If using frozen okra, just lightly rinse and do not let thaw. Trim off ends of okra and cut into 1/2 inch rounds. Place okra in a gallon zippered bag and add buttermilk. Seal bag and toss to coat okra. If okra is not well covered, add more buttermilk 1 tbsp. at a time until okra is well coated.
  2. In a separate clean gallon bag add cornmeal and then add the okra to the bag, seal and toss until okra is well coated with the cornmeal. If needed add an additional tbsp. of cornmeal.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet add olive oil (need enough to cover the bottom of the skillet). Heat over medium high heat until oil is hot. Add the coated okra to the skillet and reduce heat to medium. Cook on one side for 5 minutes allowing okra to begin to brown. After five minutes, turn okra and sprinkle with salt. Turn okra every 5 minutes, sprinkling with salt each time until okra is golden brown in color. This should take approximately 20-25 minutes. Taste okra and salt more if needed.
Source: Barely modified from Macaroni and Cheesecake

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Green Bean Ham Potato Casserole

Fair warning.  This picture doesn't look like much and in real life, it's not exactly breath taking either.  It is, after all, a casserole.  But, it is a tasty dish and is something I wouldn't hesitate to serve with say, Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner because it has that homey comforting goodness to it.  What this casserole has going for it is that it doesn't use cream of ___ condensed soup so fear not!

Green Bean Ham Potato Casserole

  • 3/8 cup of butter
  • 3/8 cup of flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cup grated Cheddar or American cheese
  • 4 cups of cooked green beans
  • 4 medium, diced, cooked potatoes
  • 3 cups diced cooked ham
  • Bread crumbs (optional)
  1. Melt butter and stir in flour.  Add milk, stirring constantly, until thickened.  Remove from heat, add cheese and stir until melted.  
  2. Arrange potatoes in a buttered casserole dish and cover with green beans,  Pour half of cheese sauce over the green beans.  Add ham and remaining cheese sauce.  Top with buttered bread crumbs if desired.  
  3. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes.
Source: Cedarmore CSA Newsletter

Monday, October 10, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I wrote the following post as a guest on Alicia's blog Culinary Bliss.   She is busily loving on her new bundle of joy Eleanor so blogging isn't exactly at the top of her list of "to-dos" right now.  When she posted a request to a cooking message board that we both frequent looking for folks to help out, I figured why not.  This is the post that I decided to share with all of her readers.

Congratulations Alicia!

PS: Would you like to guest post on my blog?  Even if you don't *have* a blog but maybe want to have a creative outlet, please post a comment and let me know.  You can be featured on my blog!

Why oh why was I ever intimidated by butternut squash?  The skin of this squash was much softer than I expected and the shape, once you prepare the ends of the squash, didn't make it difficult to cut either.  I was extremely excited to see this butternut squash show up in my weekly CSA share last week because I knew that meant that I'd have no choice but to face my fear and make something with it.  Even better was it allowed me the opportunity to check another item off my 23 Things in 2011 list.  Double win!

To get the most delicious combination of flavors I decided that I wanted to combine aspects of two different recipes.  I knew that roasting the squash first would bring out its delicious natural flavors better than boiling would.  I also thought that adding apple could bring a new dimension of flavor (and nutrition) to the soup.  Cayenne pepper would bring an unexpected small kick of heat.  And finally, real butter is infinitely better than margarine and a touch of low fat cream cheese would literally smooth out the flavor and texture.  The result?  PERFECTION.  I simply could not get enough of this soup!

I love the flavor and texture of butternut squash and am so excited that I am no longer intimidated by the preparation of it because now the possibilities are endless.  Do you have other recipes to share featuring this lovely squash?  If so I'd love to try them!

Two Years Ago: Chili - This recipe is adapted from my mother-in-law and currently entered in a chili contest at Nicole's blog, Prevention RD.  Check out what she had to say about it here!

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Yields: 6 servings


  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 green apple, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 medium (2 pounds) butternut squash
  • 3 cups reduced sodium chicken broth (substitute vegetable broth to make it vegetarian)
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 oz low-fat cream cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.  Cut both ends off the squash then cut it in half and scoop out the seeds.  Place squash on a large baking sheet flesh side up and roast in oven for 45 minutes to an hour or until soft.  Peel and chop the squash.  Set aside.
  2. While the squash is roasting, in a large sauce pan, boil onions and apples in broth with marjoram and cayenne pepper.  Simmer for 20 minutes or until soft.
  3. Add chopped squash and low fat cream cheese to the sauce pan and puree all ingredients using an immersion blender.  If you do not have an immersion blender, transfer the contents of the sauce pan and squash into a blender and puree until smooth then return to sauce pan to heat through.  Do not allow to boil.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  If desired, add more water or chicken broth to thin the soup until it reaches your preferred consistency.  Serve hot.

Source: Adapted using a combination of Use Real Butter and All Recipes.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Brown Sugar Spice Cutout Cookies with Maple Icing

I have to say that I've been spoiling my co-workers this week.  I brought in these delicious fall-flavored cookies AND Pumpkin Pecan Loaf both in a single week.  While I enjoy sharing the goodies I bake (because it's less for me to eat) I hope they're not thinking this will be a regular thing ;).

I made this cookie dough so that I could make large round cut-outs for my Wilton cake decorating class.  I only needed 6 cookies and so the rest of them I used a pretty biscuit cutter and decided it would pair nicely with a maple frosting or icing.  After much debate on whether I should go light and fluffy or hard and shiny with this cookie, I decided to ask for advice on my facebook page where one of my fans Brenda said to go hard and shiny.  So, away I went and I couldn't have been happier with the results.

This cookie has the texture of a butter shortbread and a flavor that just screams Fall.  The spices and use of brown sugar instead of regular breathe new life into traditional sugar cookies.  And, the maple glaze (Thanks Delia for the maple syrup!) perfectly ties everything together.  I'm adding this cookie to my holiday rotation for sure.  Though, I would have liked to decorate the cookie with more colors but didn't have the time.  See Annie's Eats for some great fall decorating ideas!

Brown Sugar Spice Cutout Cookies with Maple Icing

Brown Sugar Spice Cutout Cookies with Maple Icing

Yields: Varies depending on the size of your cookie cutter but I made approximately three dozen 2.5" diameter cookies


For the Cookies:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. allspice
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the Maple Icing:
  • 1 cup of powdered sugar (plus more if needed)
  • 3 Tablespoons of real maple syrup (plus more if needed)
  1. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and spices in a medium bowl; whisk to blend.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, brown sugar and butter.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.  Blend in the egg and vanilla.  With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Form the dough into a ball or disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  Chill until firm, at least 30-60 minutes.
  2. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to about ¼-inch thickness.  Use cookie cutters to form desired shapes and transfer to the prepared baking sheets.  Bake 10-12 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheet a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.   
  3. To make the maple icing, stir together powdered sugar and maple syrup.  Mixture should not have lumps of powdered sugar and be thick but spreadable like frosting.  You may need to adjust the thickness by adding more powdered sugar (to thicken) or maple syrup (to thin).  Using a small round cake decorating tip or ziplock bag with the corner cut off, pipe a border of the thick sugar maple syrup mixture on the outline of your cookie.  Repeat until all cookies are outlined.  Then, take the mixture and slowly add additional maple syrup to thin.  You'll have reach the desired consistency when the icing melts back into itself when you lift a fork or spoon from the mixture and allow it to drizzle back into the bowl.  Flood the center of each cookie using the icing and use a toothpick to spread the icing all the way to the edges.  Allow icing to dry overnight.
Source: Cookie originally from Bake at 350 as seen on and barely adapted by Annie's Eats.  Icing recipe based on Everyday Occasions by Jenny Steffans Hobick.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Recipe Swap: Pumpkin Pecan Loaf

It's been awhile since I participated in a swap (did you notice?) but I was excited to jump back in after being absent with vacations and general business.  This week's Recipe Swap theme was Pumpkin/Apple to savor the flavor of Fall.  I received this classic pumpkin loaf recipe from Fried Ice and Donut Holes and Joelen from What's Cookin' Chicago received my Turkey Bean Pumpkin Chili.

When I was putting together the ingredients I was a bit surprised by the amount of ginger in it but it actually worked out fine and gave it a nice warmth.  I added cinnamon to the topping and resisted the urge to use butter and flour in the topping (which is what I'd do with my typical crumble toppings) in order to stay true to the original recipe.  I ended up taking it to work as a brainstorming session treat and it was well received.  People told me it was the moistest bread they've ever eaten and kept coming back for more :).

See the full round-up of recipes at A Taste of Home Cooking

Need more Fall flavor and looking for more pumpkin treats on my blog?  Try Turkey Bean Pumpkin Chili, Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, Pumpkin Pie Fudge, Pumpkin Fluff Dip, Amazingly Creamy Pumpkin Penne, Turkey Pumpkin Meatloaf with Cranberry Glaze

How about Apple (the other swap theme ingredient for the week)?  Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie, Asian Lettuce Wraps, or see my whole Dinner Club's Apple Themed Spread

Pumpkin Pecan Loaf


For the Bread:

  • 1/2 cup Canola or Vegetable Oil
  • 1 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 cup Pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup Milk
  • 1 1/2 cup Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger
  • 1/2 cup Pecans (omitted)

For the Topping:

  • 1/2 cup Pecan Pieces
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Oil
  • Couple good shakes of Cinnamon


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and coat a 9x5 loaf pan with non-stick spray.
  2. In a bowl, stir oil and sugar together with a spoon.  Stir in eggs until blended.  Add the pumpkin and the milk.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.  Add to the pumpkin mixture and stir well until combined.  Stir in the pecans if using.  Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  4. In another small bowl, combine the topping ingredients until mixed and crumbly.  Sprinkle the topping over the batter.  
  5. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan to cool completely.  Slice and serve.
Source: Barely adapted from Fried Ice and Donut Holes

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Spaghetti Pie

This is a recipe that I made awhile back in either the winter or early spring (hence the not-so-awesome night-time lighting) but never got around to posting before the weather got too hot to justify using the oven.  Now that we had our first official freezing temperature of the season, I feel like I can dust it off of my "drafts" and share it with you all.

As you know, I aspire to make a pie on my 23 Things in 2011 list.  But, I'd consider it cheating if I counted this dish because the whole purpose of my making a pie was really to challenge myself to make a homemade crust.  And besides, I have a different recipe set aside for that ;).

What I love about this dish is how it tastes a lot like a lasagna to me (because it uses all the same delicious components) but is served in a fun, unassuming way and takes way less time to assemble since there aren't so many layers.  Heck, it kind of even looks like a deep dish pizza, really.  You can change it to suit your tastes (for example, I added basil, cracked red pepper, and some leftover Italian sausage for a boost of flavor and to meet Chris' meet requirements) and while I don't have kids, I have a feeling that this could please the entire family.

Two Years Ago: Cheesecake cupcakes - These remind me of when I was growing up because mom used to always make them.  Nilla wafers form the base of a bite-size cheesecake treat!

Spaghetti Pie


  • 8 ounces spaghetti
  • 2 large eggs 
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsps plus 1 tsp olive oil 
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 pound ground beef or turkey or Italian sausage (optional)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp cracked red pepper
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 10 oz package frozen spinach, thawed and liquid removed
  • 1 15 oz container part skim ricotta
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella
  • Black pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put water on to boil.  LIghtly grease a 10" pie plate with olive oil or cooking spray then set aside.
  2. In a saute pan, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil.  Add onions, garlic, and meat if using.  Cook until the meat is browned (breaking meat up into small crumbles as you cook) or if not using meat then until onions are translucent.  Add diced tomatoes with their juice, oregano, basil, cracked red pepper, and tomato paste.
  3. Place ricotta in a bowl and combine with spinach.  Add black pepper to taste then stir to combine.
  4. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti until just al dente, drain and toss in a large bowl with 1 tsp olive oil.  Whisk eggs with a fork in a small bowl with 1/3 cup shredded parmesan.  Toss with spaghetti.  Add spaghetti to prepared pie plate.  Shape into crust shape by using fingers to flatten the center and pressing up the sides of the plate.  Add the spinach-ricotta mixture to the indentation in the center.  Top with tomato meat sauce  and bake, uncovered for 25 minutes.
  5. Top with shredded mozzerella and remaining shredded parmesan cheese.  Bake an additional 5 minutes, until cheese is melted.  Remove from oven.  Let cool for 10 minutes.  Then, slice into wedges and serve.

Source: Modified from REC(cession)IPIES

Monday, October 3, 2011

Chicken, Blueberry, and Summer Squash Salad

I'll admit I was skeptical about this one at first BUT it had all the right ingredients to use up a good part of my CSA share (big ol bag of salad greens!) and I've had great luck with Kelsey's recipes.  I trusted her and it paid out.

This salad has a symphony of flavors.  A tart, slightly sweet and light dressing that contrasts with fresh pops of blueberry along with the salt and cream of feta.  It just works!  I decided to add one more player to this harmonious dish because I had a small lonely red onion in my cabinet, too.  Caramelized onions.  They make the world go round.  The other change I made was because I just am not a fan of raw squash.  So, I lightly sauteed it before putting it on my salad.

I get it, October is officially Fall and it's pretty dang cold out but I'm hoping that you'll be able to try this one out with the last of your Summer veggies (or *gasp* buy in store off-season) or if not, bookmark it to make next year.  Trust me, you don't want to miss out on this one!

Two Years Ago: Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip

Chicken, Blueberry, and Summer Squash Salad

Yields: 4 servings


For the dressing:

  • 1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. honey (I added a little more because I prefer a more sweet dressing)
  • 1/4-1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil 
  • salt and pepper, to taste
For the salad:
  • 4 packed c. preferred greens
  • 3 tsp. butter or margarine, divided
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small summer squash, thinly sliced
  • 2 TBSP fresh basil, cut chiffonade
  • 2 c. cooked chicken breast, chopped
  • 1 1/2 c. blueberries
  • 1/2 c. feta cheese, crumbled
  1. To make dressing, add lemon, honey, and olive oil to a small container with a lid.  Close the lid tightly and shake vigorously until well mixed.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Taste and adjust blend until desired amount of sweetness (add honey) or tartness (add lemon) is achieved.  Put container into the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. In a large skillet, melt 2 tsp butter or margarine then add onion.  Cook until onions begin to caramelize and brown slightly.  Remove and set aside.  In the same skillet, melt remaining 1 tsp butter or margarine then saute squash until lightly cooked.  It will start to look translucent.  Remove and set aside the squash.
  3. To assemble salad, divide greens among four plates.  Top with squash, caramelized onions, basil, and chicken.  Drizzle dressing over the top, then add blueberries and feta. 

Source: Slightly modified from Apple a Day