Monday, October 31, 2011

Crock-Pot Baked Apples


 This just sounded so good and easy that I knew I had to try it this fall. They taste like an apple pie without the crust! It was very easy, delicious, and made the house smell great! I highly recommend trying them - it will warm you up on a cold Halloween night!  Happy Halloween!

Crock-Pot Baked Apples
From: Skinny Chef

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
2 Tbs butter
1 tsp cinnamon
6 Gala or Macintosh apples, cored
1/2 cup apple juice or apple cider
2 Tbs orange liquor (optional)

1. Preheat a large crock-pot on high heat.  In a bowl, mix brown sugar, walnuts, butter, and cinnamon.

2. Fill apples with the filling and place them in the crock-pot.  Pour in the apple juice/cider and liquor if using it.

3. Cover and cook 2 1/2 - 3 hours on high heat until the apples are soft and begin to collapse.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fried Apples

My soon to be sister-in-law sent me this recipe and it sounded so good.  The recipe suggests serving with pork or with breakfast, but we just had them as a snack and they were delicious. Soft and sweet but not overly sweet with a great tart apple flavor!  I cut it in half for us and it still made a lot, although that didn't stop us from eating every last bite!

Fried Apples
From: Natalie Walten

8 Granny Smith Apples, chopped
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg

1. Melt butter in heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and stir to coat apples.

2. Saute 15-20 min, or until apples are tender.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pumpkin Cake Pops

I've been wanting to try cake pops for a long time and I thought pumpkins might be the easiest to start with.  These were quite easy, although time consuming. They were also really delicious. They would be perfect for a Halloween party - although I just made them to give to my family and friends.  I may have to try to make them at Christmas if I come up with a Christmas themed one as easy as the pumpkins to make.

Pumpkin Cake Pops
From: Bakerella and others

Cake Mix (and eggs and oil according to directions)
One can frosting
1 lb orange candy melting wafers
Green apple tic tacs
black food safe markers
sucker sticks (my Hobby Lobby was all out so I used straws)
Styrofoam block

1. Bake cake according to directions in 9x13 pan.  Let cool completely.

2. Crumble cake very small into large bowl.  Add about 2/3 can of frosting and mix together with hands until evenly moist.  May need to add a little more frosting if needed, but should not be overly moist.

3. Shape mixture into balls and place on wax paper on a cookie sheet.  Refrigerate for 2 hours or freeze for 15-30 min.

4. Melt the orange wafers.  Dip end of sucker stick in melted candy coating and then into the cake ball. place back on cookie sheet and repeat with rest of balls (this part helps keeps the stick in the cake ball).

5. Then dip each ball in the melted wafers and tap lightly to remove excess candy coating. Lightly push one tic tac in the top of the cake ball. Then stick into styrofoam block.

6. After candy coating has hardened, draw on Jack-o-lantern face with food safe markers (If you don't have food safe markers you could just make pumpkins instead of jack-o-lanterns.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup

I love fall soups so I knew I had to try this recipe when my Cooks Illustrated came this fall.  At first I was a little skeptical about microwaving the squash instead of roasting it, but the soup turned out soooo good (and faster than roasting it)!  It had fantastic flavor and made a big pot of creamy goodness even though didn't have any cream or milk. I only wish my pictures were better of it.  I guess that is as good as it gets when I take pictures of my food in my kitchen with no windows, at night, with a point and shoot camera that my dog recently chewed up!  But believe me, this soup is fantastic!

- The first few times I made it I served with a dollop of sour cream.  but I've since stopped doing it, I don't think it is needed since the soup is rich, creamy, and delicious all on its own.

Butternut Squash Soup
From: Cooks Illustrated

2 1/2 pound butternut squash (about one whole squash) peeled, seeded, and cut into 2 inch chunks
2 Tbsp butter
1 leek, white and light green parts only, quartered lengthwise, sliced thin, and washed thoroughly
4 cups vegetable broth
1-2 cups water
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
pinch cayenne pepper
sour cream

1. Place squash in bowl, cover, and microwave until paring knife glides easily through flesh, 14-18 minutes, stirring halfway through.  Carefully transfer squash to colander set in bowl (squash will be very hot) and drain for 5 minutes; reserve liquid.

2. Melt butter in dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add squash, leek, and 1 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until squash pieces begin to break down and brown fond forms in bottom of pot, 10-13 minutes.

3. Add 2 cups broth and scrape bottom of pot to loosen and dissolve fond.  Add remaining 2 cups broth, reserve squash liquid, 1 cup water, thyme sprigs, bay leaf, and cayenne.  Increase heat to high and bring to simmer.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until leeks are fully tender, 6-7 minutes.

4. Remove and discard bay leaf and thyme sprigs.  Working in batches, process soup blender until smooth 1- 2 minutes (or use your immersion blender like I did). Return soup to pot and bring to simmer, thinning with up to 1 cup water to desired consistency.  Season with salt and pepper to taste; serve with a dollop of sour cream if desired.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans

I'm always looking for more ways to cook black beans and using a slow cooker to cook them while I'm at work is right up my alley.  I really liked the different flavors of this dish, the tomatoes and spices really added a little extra something to the beans.  This would be perfect for a family, but it made a TON for only 2 people.  I ended up freezing some of it, and hopefully they will be just as good frozen as they were fresh.

Slow Cooker Mexican Black Beans
From: A Year of Slow Cooking

1 lb bag black beans
6 cups Chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
5-6 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes with or without chilis
1 Tbsp Cumin
1 Tbsp Chili powder

1.  Soak beans overnight and drain.  Put drained beans into 6 quart slow cooker, then add chopped garlic, broth, tomatoes, cumin, and chili powder.  Stir well to combine.

2. Cover and cook on low for at least 8 hours (mine ended up cooking for about 11 hours). Serve alone or with rice or tacos.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Mexican Baked Eggs


If you couldn't tell by now, I love Mexican food.  When I saw these eggs at Closet Cooking I immediately looked in my pantry and had almost everything so I made it with what I had.  And it was fantastic!  I did overcook the eggs a little bit so I will have to perfect that the next time (and there will be a next time).  Below is the variation of the recipe I used based on what I had in the house, which I found to be perfect!

Mexican Baked Eggs
From: Closet Cooking and Kalyns Kitchen
1 Tbsp oil
1/2 onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chipotle chili powder (I used Chili powder)
2 jalapeno peppers, diced
1 can rotel (or diced tomatoes with chiles)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp oregano
1 handful cilantro, chopped
4 -6 eggs
1/4 - 1/2 cup grated cheese

1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat

2. Add onions and saute until tender

3. Add the garlic, cumin, chipotle chili powder, and jalapeno saute until fragrant, about one minute.

4. Add tomatoes and black beans and bring to a boil  Reduce heat and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 10-20 min.

5. Remove from heat and stir in cliantro.  Place half of mixture into one or more baking dishes sprayed with cooking spray, top with the eggs and spoon the remaining mixture around the eggs.

6. Bake in preheated 350 oven until the eggs just start to set, about 5-8 minutes.

7. Top with the cheese and broil until it melts, no more than a minute or so. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Banana Bread

Growing up, my mom made the best banana bread.  It is one of the few breads I enjoy eating.  I also like that I have all the ingredients in the house anytime I have a couple of overripe bananas!

Banana Bread
From: Mom

1/2 cup butter or margarine (softened)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
3 ripe bananas

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat together butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs one at a time.

2. In food processor blend milk and bananas together

3. Stir in vanilla, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt alternately with banana misture.

4. Grease ad flour loaf pan and pour mixture into pan. Bake for 1 hour or until wooden pick instered in center comes out clean.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Baby Back Ribs

 I have a really good ribs recipe that I like, but unfortunately you have to have a lot of time on your hands to make it. So I looked for a recipe that would at least cut the time in half.  This recipe got rave reviews on All Recipes so I gave it a try when my parents were in town.  My mom helped me with diner and they were very good and not very complicated. Bill, my parents, father-in-law, and sister-in-law all liked them!  I will definitely make them again!

Baby Back Ribs
From: All Recipes

3 lbs Pork Back Ribs, cut into serving size pieces
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp liquid smoke flavoring

1. Place Ribs into a large pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium and simmer until tender, about 1 hour.

2. Meanwhile, stir the ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, salt, and liquid smoke in a sauce pan.  Bring to a simmer over medium high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered, stirring frequently until thickened, about 30 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 400 line baking sheet with foil.

4. Drain the ribs and place meaty-side-up onto the prepared baking sheet.  Brush ribs with half of the barbeque sauce.  Cook until sauce has turned sticky and lightly browned about 7-10 minutes. Turn ribs over and brush with remaining sauce.  Continue to bake until sauce has turned sticky, about 7-10 more minutes.


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