Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!!

Wishing you all a safe and Happy Halloween!!I'm off to my children's schools with the goodies above!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Puffed Apple Pancake


This is a perfect fall  weekend breakfast,just add some bacon cooked with maple syrup,and a pot of coffee!It comes from Martha Stewart,and it tastes delicious!It reminds me of a bread pudding or a rich french toast.What a great way to use all of the delicious apples from your local farmer's market.

Ingredients:
6 eggs
1-1/2 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg(freshly grated,if possible)
1 stick of butter
3 apples,sliced thin(gala works great)
1 tbsp brown sugar
powdered sugar
    In a medium bowl combine the eggs,milk and vanilla.Mix well.Add the flour,cinnamon,sugar and nutmeg.
MIx until batter is combined and only slightly lumpy.
  Place the butter in a 9X13 pan,and place ina 425 degree oven for about one minute,until the butter is just melted.Place the apples in the pan on top of the butter,in a single layer.Don't worry about being precise,once the batter goes in the apples are going to go where they want!Return to the oven and bake for 4 minutes,until the butter is bubbly.
   Pour the batter over the apples,then sprinkle the brown sugar on top.Bake at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes,until golden and puffed.Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Favorite new Pan

Love this pan!If you are like me,no matter how hard I try to cut my brownies evenly,I can never do it.Now I don't have to.This pan,made by Chicago Metallic,provides an insert that cuts the square for you!Not only is it great for brownies,it works for any type of cake,bar cookie and even quiche.I just purchased at set of 2 pans at QVC for a whopping $19.99.A great investment,and I think it is a great gift idea,so you will see this on my gift page too!Look at the size of this brownie!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Quick Tip.........

With the holiday season is around the corner,we tend to find ourselves wondering what to bring when we visit friends and relatives....here is an easy suggestion.Here is a tray of sweets I made for my son's football dinner.Looks nice ,right?
   Well,to make it look more festive,I simply wrapped it in cellophane and tied it with a pretty fall themed ribbon.....looks nicer,don't you think?
   It's simple.Next time you are in your local Michael's Craft store,or even a party supply store,pick up a roll of cellophane(the good stuff,not the flimsy type),which will run you about $12.Pick a few pretty holiday ribbons and you will be equipped to make all of your treats beautiful this holiday season.What is even better is that this works great with store-bought items too!We are all pressed for time during this busy time of year,so if you pick up a pie,a cake or some cookies,you can wrap them up to make a fabulous presentation.
    It really is easy to take the ordinary and make it extraordinary,and your friends/family will appreciate the extra effort!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Mini Maple Cakes

This recipe comes from Martha,but I've changed it a bit.I decided to make mini cakes shaped like maple leaves(sticking with the maple theme) and topped with a cute maple cookie just for fun!These can be made as cupcakes too.Feel free to eat them plain,or with a sprinkle of powdered sugar.You can also decorate them with chopped walnuts or fall sprinkles.

Ingredients:
3-1/2 c. flour
4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1-1/2 sticks of butter,softened
1/2 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 c. pure maple syrup
3/4 c. milk
1 c. chopped walnuts
    In the bowl of your mixer,blend together the butter and sugar.Add the eggs,the maple syrup,salt & baking powder. Add the flour and milk,alternating between the two,and mix just until the batter comes together.Spoon the batter into your pan(I am using a mini leaf pan,you can use 2- 8inch cake pans if you like).Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.Test for doneness.Remove from your oven and cool on a wire rack.
  Unmold the leaf cakes(or the larger cakes).Frost with the brown sugar frosting and decorate as desired.

Brown Sugar Frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese,softened
1-1/2 sticks of butter,softened
3/4 c. brown sugar
2 c. confectioners' sugar
   Blend all ingredients together in your mixer bowl.Spread on the mini maple cakes.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

Luscious cream cheese frosting nestled between two moist,delicious,spiced pumpkin cakes..what more needs to be said?How much icing you put between the cakes is entirely up to you.The recipe is easy and the results are delightful.
Cake Ingredients:
2 c. flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/3 c. butter,melted
3/4 c. cream
3/4 c. pumpkin puree
     In the bowl of your mixer,blend the eggs,brown sugar,melted butter,pumpkin,cream,salt,baking powder and pumpkin pie spice.Mix well.Add the flour and mix just until the batter comes together.
   On a baking sheet lined with parchment,place approximately 1 tbsp. of batter,a few inches apart from one another.Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes,or until the tops of the cakes bounce back when touched.Remove from the oven and cool completely.
  Once cooled,turn one cake over and spread some frosting on it.Top with another cake.Enjoy!

Cream Cheese Frosting:
2- 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese,softened
1 stick of unsalted butter,softened
1 16 oz. pkg. confectioners' sugar(sifted)
1 tsp. vanilla
   In the bowl of your mixer.blend together the cream cheese,butter and vanilla.Add the sugar and mix well.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Halloween Pretzel Fun!



Here are some fun ideas for Halloween treats using pretzels and chocolate...a perfect combination!I have made a few different treats using only pretzles,melting chocolate,and caramel.These are perfect for a fall afternoon project with your children,but use caution when melting the chocolate & caramel..that is for adults only!The kids will have fun dipping and decorating,and everyone will enjoy eating!
    For the pretzels,just melt chocolate,dip your favorite shaped pretzels in,then place on a parchment lined baking sheet and decorate as desired.I have used assorted sprinkles,but mini chocolate chips,mini m&ms,or chopped nuts all work well.
  For the caramel-chocolate pretzels,I melted a block of caramel(available at http://www.kingarthurflour.com/ ),and coated half of the pretzel rod with it.I let that set for about 5 minutes,then dipped them into melted chocolate.Again,you can decorate as desired.Yum!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Had To Share....

When I saw this cookie this morning from Cookie Crazie & Cookies With A Mission,I just had to share it with you!The talent and work that went into this cookie is unreal.I love the details,right down to the leaves on the trees,and the hay sticking out of the wagon!I have always been a fan of the beautiful designs done by Cookie Crazie,and like her other creations,this just puts a smile on my face!It was created by a team of cookie decorating enthusiasts,and it just embodies fall.Only problem is,I think it is too pretty to eat!!
   Check out http://www.cookiecrazie.blogspot.com/ for more beautiful,whimsical cookie art.You are sure to be amazed.Not only is this one talented cookie decorator,she also uses her cookies to help others!Love it!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

How cute are these?If you love pumpkin and cheesecake,then these are for you.Adorable and delicious,they are sure to become part of your annual Halloween celebration!The pan is from Williams-Sonoma,as is the recipe.

Ingredients:
Crust:
1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
2 tbsp. unsalted butter,melted
2 tbsp. sugar


  Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.Divide among the wells in the baking pan.Press mixture evenly into each well.Bake at 325 degrees for about 10 minutes.Remove from the oven and let cool.Reduce your oven temperature to 300 degrees.

Filling:
8 oz. pumpkin puree
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
12 oz. cream cheese(the bars,softened)
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
   In the bowl of an electric mixer,mix together the cream cheese and sugar for 2-3 minutes.Add the eggs one at a time,then the vanilla.Add the pumpkin,cinnamon,cloves and ginger, and mix about 1 minute.Pour an even amount of batter into each crust.

  Bake at 300 degrees ,until the filling is set,about 18-20 minutes.Transfer to a wire rack to cool.Refrigerate at least 3 hours before unmolding.Garnish with fresh whipped cream if desired.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chocolate Pumpkins

Here is a fun way to add  some fall fun to your parties.Using a pumpkin mold(found at http://www.kitchenkrafts.com/ ), I melted some chocolate and poured it into the mold.I let it set for about 15 minutes in the freezer,and now it can be used as a serving bowl for Halloween candies.Easy and fun!

   These also make great party favors or a nice hostess gift.Wrap them up with some cellophane and add a festive bow.Kids will absolutely love eating  them,and will love making them!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Stuffed Acorn Squash

  Acorn squash is often overlooked.It is quite versatile and you can make delicious side dishes using this vegetable.This one is a great addition to any fall meal.You can do most of the work ahead of time,then pop them into the oven while making your dinner.

Ingredients:
2 acorn squash
1-10oz. pkg. frozen spinach(thawed and drained well)
1/2 c. parmesan
4 slices of cooked bacon
3 tbsp.butter
1 green onion
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Topping:
2 tbsp. breadcrumbs(or panko,if preferred)
2 tbsp. parmesan
 Mix together and set aside.

   Cut the squash in half.Remove the seeds.Place in a baking dish ,cut side down,and bake for 30 minutes.Turn over,cover and bake an additional 20 minutes.Remove and cool slightly.
  Once cooled ,remove most of the flesh of the squash,leaving a small amount still in the skin.Place the flesh in a bowl,then add the spinach,parmesan,green onion,salt,pepper and butter.Mix well.Divide the mixture evenly into the four squash "bowls."Sprinkle the parmesan/bread crumb topping on top of each half.Place back in the oven and cook for approximately 15 minutes,until heated through.Remove from the oven and sprinkle the bacon on top.

**If desired,you can add the bacon to the spinach mixture before cooking.I prefer to sprinkle it on top after it is done,so that the bacon stays crisp.
 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Spinach Lasagna

  I love this recipe,not only because it is delicious,but it is also versatile.Today,I have made individual lasagnas in gratin dishes,but this can be made the traditional way,in a square baking dish,or even using lasagna noodles that we cook(remember those)?,and spreading the fillind on them,rolling them up,and covering with the sauce!Any way you decide to make it,you are sure to be pleased with the results!


Lasagna noodles of your choice(no cook,fresh,or boil)
Filling Ingredients:
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion,chopped
1-10oz. pkg. chopped spinach,thawed and well drained
1-1/2 c. shredded mozzarella
3/4-1 c. ricotta
1/2 c. good parmesan
1 egg
  In a saute pan,heat the olive oil & butter together over medium heat until the butter melts..Add the onion and spinach.Saute  until the onion is cooked and is translucent.Set aside and cool slightly.
   In a large bowl.combine the mozzarella,ricotta,parmesan and egg.Mix well.Add the cooled spinach mixture.Set aside while you make the sauce.
 Sauce Ingredients:
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 c. flour
pinch of pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. milk
1c. cream(you can use another c. of milk if desired instead of cream)
1/4 c. parmesan

  In a saucepan,melt the butter over medium heat.Add the flour and whisk until combined.Add the salt & pepper.Cook,whisking, for at least one minute to get rid of the flour taste.Add the milk & cream(or just milk if you are not using cream,just make sure you have 2 c. of liquid).Bring to a boil ,whisking,until the mixture thickens.

To Assemble:
   Place enough sauce on the bottom of your baking dish to cover it .This should be a thin layer.Layer your ingredients starting with the lasagna noodles,filling,sauce,then repeat once more.Top with lasagna noodles,another thin layer of sauce ,and some shredded mozzarella.Place in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for at least 35-40 minutes.The top should be brown and bubbly.

***This is a great make-ahead dish.Refrigerate until ready to use.

 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Tomato Tart

  If you are fortunate enough to live near a local farmer or farmer's market,then you have probably had the privilege of eating heirloom tomatoes.They are truly one of life's great joys(at least in the world of food).Although summer has ended,these delicious fruits are still available and I intend to use them as long as I possibly can.If you are not able to find them,any ripe tomato will make this tart delicious.It also calls
for three different italian cheeses.Again,if you are lucky enough to have an italian shop near you,I implore you to make the investment and buy the REAL cheese,not the stuff in the green container.It is a bit pricey,BUT,you can grate it all and freeze what you don't use...that way,you will always have delicious ingredients for an italian meal!Keep in mind that this dish doesn't have too many ingredients,therefore it is important to use the best quality you can find...the end result will only be as good as the ingredients you put in!

Ingredients:
1 c. shredded provolone
1/4. c. grated parmesan
1 c. shredded mozzarella(the pre-shredded stuff is okay here)
2-3 leeks(see note on the bottom)
2 large heirloom OR 6 ripe plum tomatoes(look at the color of these tomatoes)!
1 tsp. of garlic powder
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 pie crust(homemade or store bought)

   Roll out the cold pie dough.Sprinkle the dough with the provolone,leaving about one inch around the edge.Sprinkle the leeks ,then the tomatoes on top.Sprinkle the parmesan and garlic powder on top of the tomatoes.Carefully, fold in the sides of the pie dough towards the center of the pie..it will only cover the outer edges of the tomatoes.It should not reach the center and cover all of the tomatoes.Sprinkle the exposed tomatoes with the mozzarella.
    Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes at 425 degrees.The crust should be brown,and the center bubbly.Let cool for 5 minutes,then slice and enjoy!

***Note: Leeks need to be cleaned well because they are grown in sand.To clean them,I chop them(white & slightly green  lower parts),then place them in a measuring cup or bowl with cold water.Swish them around with your hands or a spoon,rinse and repeat once more.All of the sand should be removed and there will be no gritty texture to your meal!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

More Halloween Fun From Meadowbrooke Gourds





I have mentioned this company before,but their products are so stinkin' cute,I'll mention them again!Check out http://www.meadowbrookegourds.com/ for a great selection of gourds turned into adorable seasonal decor!

Apple Pie Bread

   This recipe is from Better Homes & Gardens. It is called a bread,but it is more like a cake.Filled with apple deliciousness,it is sure to please your family.

Ingredients:
1 stick of butter,softened
1/4 c. buttermilk
1 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
4 medium apples(gala,granny smith),peeled & shredded
1 c. chopped walnuts or pecans

Streusel Topping:
1/4 c. brown sugar
3 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. butter
1/3 c. chopped walnuts or pecans
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  Mix all of the streusel ingredients together in a bowl until it resembles a soft paste.Use to sprinkle on top of the cake batter before baking.

   In the bowl of your mixer,beat the butter and sugar.Add the buttermilk,baking powder,vanilla,eggs and salt.Add the flour.Mix until blended.Add the nuts and mix just until the nuts are incorporated.
   Pour into a greased 9x5x3 loaf pan.Pour batter into the pan.Sprinkle streusel topping on top.Bake at 350 degrees  for 60-65 minutes,or until a knife comes out clean after being inserted in the middle of the cake.
   Let cool slightly,then remove from pan.The recipe calls for wrapping the cake in plastic overnight,before slicing and enjoying,BUT I say cut into this baby and enjoy immediately with a cold glass of milk!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fun Touches for Your Halloween Table!

Looking to add a little Halloween flare to your table?How cute are these? Adding little touches like these Halloween themed straws to your party table or even your dinner table not only brighten up your meal,they are sure to bring a smile to your child's face!They can be found,along with countless other wonderful items for all of your party themes,at http://www.shopsweetlulu.com/ .Not only are they fun,the price is right!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mini Apple Crumb Tarts

  It is time for apples!This recipe comes from Ina Garten,but instead of making a large pie,I have made a  miniature version.The mini version is a bit tedious,so if you prefer,make a larger one.I make the crust,but again,if you prefer,you can use your favorite store-bought brand.Whatever the size,you are sure to be pleased with the results!

Crust:
2 c. flour
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks of cold butter,diced
   Add all of the ingredients into your food processor.Pulse until the butter resembles course crumbs.Then add 1/4 c. of ice cold water and process just until dough comes together.Divide dough into two pieces,flatten into discs,wrap in plastic and refrigerate.

Crumb Topping:
1/2 stick of cold butter,diced
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. flour
   Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl.Using clean hands,work the ingredients until they all come together.Refrigerate until ready to use.

Apple Mixture:
  1-1/2 lbs. of chopped apples(gala,macintosh,macoun or empire,I combine a few)
  1/4 tsp. orange zest
   Mix together the apples and orange zest.



Assembling the Tarts:
   Roll out one of the discs on a lightly floured surface.Be sure to flour your rolling pin as well.Use a round biscuit cutter to cut small circles.If making a larger pie,roll out into a large circle about 1 inch thick.
   Place the apple mixture in the center of each tart(about 1 tsp),or the entire mixture into the center of the larger version.Gently fold in the sides onto the apples for a rustic look.Top with the crumb mixture by sprinkling it on top of the apples evenly..you will have to crumble it a bit. Place on a parchment lines baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes.Enjoy plain,with ice-cream,or even drizzled with caramel!