Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Cinnamon & Spice Apple Muffins

I love this extended Fall season with very little rain.  The leaves are gently dancing down the street and hopefully departing my yard.  I am a dreamer.  Any that have left are being replaced.  At least I can enjoy the aroma of cinnamon and apples that just came out of the oven with a cup of tea.  These muffins are not overly sweet, nor were my apples so it's a nice break from the Halloween candy.

Cinnamon & Spice Apple Muffins

1 1/2 cups apples, peeled and diced
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup mascarpone, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 3/4 cup flour


1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp butter, softened

In a medium bowl, combine butter, mascarpone and both sugars.  Add in the buttermilk. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients.  The dough will be dense, but it will loosen up as the apples release their juices while baking.  Fill cupcake liners up 3/4's full.  In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt.  Blend in the butter and sprinkle on top of each of the muffins.  Bake for 20 minutes at 350°.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

I finally got back to this recipe idea from a few weeks ago when I made the Italian Chicken Pot Pie but opted to top it with biscuits instead of these potatoes.  They are a great side for any protein and so tasty that no additional toppings are needed although I did sprinkle a pinch of Parmesan on each serving for fun.

Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
3# red potatoes, peeled and slice into small pieces
Salt for water
3 tbsp butter, softened
½ cup milk
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ cup Parmesan cheese
1 tsp parsley

Boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender.  Drain and add in butter to melt.  Mash until smooth and add in milk, Parmesan cheese and spices.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Beef & Squash Stew

After several cool days, it just seemed like a good time to make a beef stew in the crock pot.  I had a lone acorn squash sitting around waiting for a warm home and it found it.    I substituted the squash for the potatoes that I would normally add in and it turned out great.  I still added in some carrots and peas for a variety of vegetables since I had both on hand. 

Beef & Squash Stew
1# beef stew meat, cut down into bite-size pieces
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup flour
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
1 acorn squash,  peeled, seeded and cut into 1” cubes
¼ cup, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups beef broth
1 cup carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
½ cup peas
½ tsp thyme
1 tsp parsley

Combine flour, salt and pepper in a bowl or plastic bag for coating the beef on all sides.  Place in the hot frying pan with the heated olive oil.  Brown beef pieces on both sides, before it’s completely cooked, add in the onions and garlic and cook all together.  Add into crock pot, along with the beef broth, thyme and parlsey.  Prepare you squash and carrots and add into the stew.  You can wait to add in the peas until ½ hour before serving.  Taste and see if additional salt and pepper are needed.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Fall Snack Mix

The Fall and Christmas season always makes me think of snack mixes.  Maybe it's the return of football and hockey seasons and having a fun snack on hand to enjoy the games with.  The only question was whether to make it a savory or a sweet mix.  This time, I went with the sweet option with a hint of cinnamon.  The blue tortilla chips were a colorful addition.  You can sub in regular ones but with Halloween fast approaching, I liked the color.

Fall Snack Mix

Place in a roaster pan ~

1/4 cup popcorn, measurement is unpopped
4 cups Crispix
2 cups tortilla chips, blue or regular
1 cup pretzels
2 cups apple chips
In a small pan, melt 1 stick of butter.  When melted, add 1/3 cup brown sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon.  Stir and pour over the popcorn mixture.  Bake for 1 hour at 250°, stirring every 15 minutes.  Allow to cool and pour into a serving container.  

Add to this mixture ~

1/2 cup Peanut M & M's in fall colors
1 cup Candy Corn

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Taco Quesadillas

It's college football game day so a special snack is needed for viewing the game.  Today I made these taco quesadillas....yes, I still have a quesadilla maker but you can easily assemble these and cook in a large frying pan (turning once).  Plus you can make these in any size of flour tortilla that you want.  I used the 8" tortillas.  I'm adding in my recipes for refried (crock pot) beans that I freeze in 1 cup containers and my homemade taco seasoning (little salt vs commercial...I just add in the amount that I prefer).  You can make the quesadillas ahead of time and do a quick reheat in the oven to serve a crowd instead of making them one at a time.

Taco Quesadillas

1# ground beef, seasoned with salt and pepper
1/4 cup onions, minced
1/3 cup water
2 tbsp taco seasoning (recipe below)

Brown the ground beef and seasonings.  Add in onions before it's completely cooked and finish cooking with them in.  Add in the seasoning and water and cook another 5 minutes.
Spread one tortilla with refried beans (about 2 tbsp for an 8" tortilla).  Top with 1/3 cup taco meat and then 1/4 cup shredded Mexican or cheddar cheese.  Cook in your quesadilla maker or frying pan until a nice, golden brown.  Cut into 6-8 pieces and serve with hot sauce and sour cream.

Taco Seasoning

1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp  oregano
1 tsp pepper, freshly ground
1/2 tsp salt

Place in a sealable plastic bag or container that's airtight and mix well.  Double or triple the recipe to have on hand for future use.

Crockpot refried beans

2 cups pinto beans
1/2 cup onion, peeled and chopped
2 dried chile chipotle
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp cumin
1 cup V8 Juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Rinse and clean pinto beans and soak overnight.  Put in crockpot on high with onions, garlic and chile chipotle on high.  Cook for 8 hours occasionally stirring and adding liquid as needed (the V8 juice and water).

When the beans are soft, mash and add cumin, salt and freshly ground pepper.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Italian Chicken Pot Pie

We are back to cooler temperatures again after a record breaking 97 degrees on Sunday.   I wrote down an idea for a recipe a few months ago when it was too warm to think about turning on the oven but now it’s the perfect time for it.  My only debate was how I wanted to top it – with biscuits or Parmesan mashed potatoes.  I opted to try the mashed potatoes later in the week with pork chops. 

Italian Chicken Pot Pie
1 pie crust, I used a frozen deep dish one that I pre-baked
2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped into bite-size pieces
1 ½ cups low sodium chicken stock
½ cup milk
¼ cup flour
½ cup carrots
½ cup green beans
½ cup corn
1/3 cup peas
½ cup Fontina cheese
1 tsp parsley
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Place all of the vegetables and chicken pieces in your baked pie shell.  In a saucepan, whisk together flour and chicken stock.  Add in milk and heat until it thickens.  Add in salt, pepper and parsley.  Pour over the vegetables.  Top with spoonfuls  of biscuits (recipe below).  Bake for 30 minutes at 350°.  Brush tops of biscuits with 2 tbsp softened butter and return to the oven for an additional 5 minutes.  

Parmesan Biscuits

In a small bowl, mix together

1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp parsley
1/4 Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp milk
2 tsp canola oil

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Coca-Cola Sloppy Joes

Unseasonably warm temperatures and college football meant it was another good day for using the crock pot.  Using ingredients that I had on hand, I decided to throw together some sloppy joes using Coke that I had in the refrigerator instead of brown sugar.  I stirred in a tablespoon of flour into the ground beef mixture to thicken up the joes.

Coca-Cola Sloppy Joes

1# extra lean ground beef
1/4 cup onions, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 tbsp flour
3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup Coca-Cola
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Brown the ground beef (drain if you do not use extra lean).  When almost cooked through, add in onions, garlic and red peppers until it's no longer pink.  Stir in flour and cook for another minute.  In your crock pot, (or you can just add these ingredients to your frying pan) stir together Coke, ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire and seasonings.  Mix in the ground beef mixture and set on low for a couple hours until you're ready to serve.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

The smell of apples and cinnamon is always one of the scents that make your house seem like a home.  And what a delicious way to start off your day and you can kind of convince yourself it’s almost healthy because there are apples in these rolls.  Make these the night before and let the dough rise for the second time (after you’ve made the actual rolls and put them in the greased pan) covered by plastic wrap in the refrigerator.  If you want an even easier way, you can buy the sweet dough frozen at the grocery store and allow it to rise for the first time before spreading it out and filling it.  I used a bread machine to do all the hard work for me this time.

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Dough –
1 pkg yeast
½ cup warm water
¼ cup sugar
Mix together and let sit for 10 minutes

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan heat until the butter has melted –
½ cup milk
1/3 cup butter
¼ cup sugar

Put In your bread maker  -
4 ¼ cups flour
1 1 /2 tsp salt
1 egg
Add in the yeast and milk mixtures and turn on machine on the dough setting.
When done, spread out into a 12 x 18 shape and top with –
3 tbsp butter, softened to spread over dough
3 apples, shredded and mix in 2 tbsp lemon juice so they don't turn brown
½ cup brown sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp flour
¼ tsp salt

Mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, flour and salt and sprinkle evenly over the buttered dough.   Roll up the 11” way.  Cut dough.  I cut in half, in half again and then half for the final time so you end up with 8 equal slices. And place in a greased 9 x 13 pan and allow to rise until it reaches the top of the pan.  Bake for 35 minutes at 350°.  Allow to cool before icing.
3 tbsp butter, softened
3 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 ½ cups powdered sugar

Mix together in a small bowl and spread over cooled apple cinnamon rolls.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Apple Cider Waffles

They just don't make apple cider in small pint size containers.  When you buy a half gallon, you need to find all kinds of delicious ways to use it.  This is my second attempt at making waffles.  Last weeks were a bust.  So it was back into the kitchen to try again and this time with success.  The cinnamon syrup blended perfectly with these apple waffles.

                         Apple Cider Waffles

1 1/4  cups flour
2 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp sugar
1/2  tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon
1 large egg, separated
1/2  cup milk
1/2  cup apple cider 

1/4 cup apple, shredded

Whisk all dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Add in milk, egg yolks, apple and
apple cider.  Beat egg whites until light and fluffy.  Gently fold
in egg whites.  Bake in waffle maker per manufacturers instructions.

                            Cinnamon Syrup

1 cup light corn syrup
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp cinnamon
1 dash nutmeg
1 cup evaporated milk

In a large saucepan, mix together corn syrup, sugar, water and spices. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir in evaporated milk. Serve warm

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Root Beer Chicken

It's Saturday afternoon and when you live in a college town, that means football.  The Dragons are playing at home and the game is on now while the Bison are playing early evening.  Time for an easy meal which usually means the crock pot.  I put this together at around 8 this morning so it was ready to go in 6 hours.

Root Beer Chicken

3 chicken breasts (approximately 1 pound)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp ground red pepper flakes (optional but they add a nice heat)
1/2 cup root beer
1/2 cup bbq sauce

Place chicken breasts at the bottom of the crock pot.  Sprinkle seasonings evenly on top.  In a small bowl (or in your measuring cup if it's big enough) stir together the root beer and bbq sauce and pour into the crock pot.  Heat on medium for 6 hours.  Fork shred and serve on toasted buns.