Apple Crisp

This apple crisp is probably the best one I have ever eaten. The addition of lemon juice (I also added some lemon zest) makes a huge difference. The flavors meld well and it doesn’t taste “lemony” at all. This will be my go-to recipe for now – I could have eaten the whole pan! This recipe is for individual ramekins, but I used my 11×7 inch baking dish and it worked perfectly. I substituted Fuji apples because they are my favorite, but I’m sure the Granny Smith apples would be equally tasty. And what takes any apple dessert to the next level?Vanilla ice cream! Don’t forget it:o) Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Apple Crisp – adapted from The Neely’s

Filling –

  • 5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, chopped small (*I used Fuji apples)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans (*I omitted)
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Crumb topping –

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans (*I left these out, too)

Directions –

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.Mix all the ingredients together. Place into 7 to 8-ounce ramekins.

Mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in large bowl. Blend the butter into the mixture until it forms pea size lumps. Stir in pecans and sprinkle over filling.

Bake crisps for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

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Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup

Just a quick post to share a yummy recipe I discovered early this year. This recipe is easily doubled, and if you’d like to stretch it even further you can add some potatoes ( I did this time ). Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Recipe found here: My Bizzy Kitchen

Gift Knitting

This is the first year that I have ever given anything handmade. I decided about a week ago to knit S’ teacher’s some useful winter  accessories. I hope they enjoy and get a lot of use out of these. I was up until 12 midnight finishing this hat it up, then I soaked it in wool wash for a few minutes to loosen the whole thing up. This yarn is so thick that I had to toss it in the dryer this morning (on really low heat) three times and it was still damp. Note to self: plan way ahead next time! Oh well…

I never thought I would like this kind of hat on me, but I may have to make myself one some time.

This is a Scrunchable Scarf for Mrs. H. I have made one of these before, and what’s so great about it is that it’s reversible – meaning there is no wrong side. The fabric that the super simple K2, P1 pattern creates is squishy-comfy perfection. Thanks for reading!:o)

Triple Chocolate Mint Cookies

Oh, wow – these were so much work…it’s all my fault though. I took it upon myself to double this recipe so I would have enough for M and Little S’ classes. They were also really hard to judge doneness because they didn’t brown up like non-chocolate batter cookies – they’re already a rich brown because of the melted chocolate and the cocoa powder. If you love mint chocolate, you’ll love these. Do yourself a favor and find the Andes Mint Baking Bits – I had to open a pack and a half of the individually wrapped candies to get three cups worth of pieces. I will make these again, and I’m thinking they’d taste so good in a vanilla milkshake! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Triple Chocolate Mint Cookies – adapted from The Culinary Chronicles

  • 16 Ounces Semi-Sweet Chocolate
  • 2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • ¾ Teaspoon Salt
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 10 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 1½ Cups Brown Sugar
  • ½ Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1½ Cups Andes Mint Chocolate Baking Bits

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, with the oven racks in the upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, melt semi-sweet chocolate. This can be done by placing the bowl over a pot of simmering water (for a make-shift double-boiler) or in the microwave at 50% power. Stir and set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl, using a hand electric mixer), beat butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar at medium at speed until the mixture is light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add one egg a time to the butter mixture, beating after each addition. Add vanilla extract and beat until combined. Add the cooled melted chocolate and beat until well combined.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Stir in mint-chocolate baking bits. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the mixture sit at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the mixture is easy to scoop and fudge-like.

Using 3 tablespoons of dough for each cookie, roll the dough into balls and place on the prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, switching the position of the sheets and rotating them back to front halfway through baking. The cookies are baked when the edges are set, but the center are still soft. The cookies will still look a little raw in between the cracks, but are done.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack. Repeat with the rest of the dough, using cooled cookie sheets. Serve the cookies warm or at room temperature.

Makes 25 to 30 cookies.

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

This is my all time favorite appetizer and it’s definitely a family’s too. It’s such a treat for all of us and we always looks forward to enjoying it. The cocktail sauce isn’t too spicy, so if you enjoy hurting yourself when you eat (because of all the horseradish) add more to your liking. For us, the three tablespoons is the perfect amount. The shrimp cook quickly and perfectly in the oven the flavor is so much more rich compared to boiling them.The hardest part about making this is peeling and deveining the shrimp, which can take at least a half an hour per pound for me anyway. I suppose it’s worth saving the three to five bucks to clean my own so I grin and bear it through all the nasty vein pulling – ick! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail – adapted from Ina Garten

  • 2 pounds (12 to 15-count) shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup chili sauce (recommended: Heinz)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (recommended: Tabasco)

Directions –

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place them on a sheet pan with the olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread them in 1 layer. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes, just until pink and firm and cooked through. Set aside to cool.

For the sauce, combine the chili sauce, ketchup, horseradish, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Serve as a dip with the shrimp.


Ham and Potato Soup

Wow – was it cold today or what?? Seriously icy cold winds that would not let up made it unbearably chilly today. I don’t normally cook dinner on Mondays because M is at school, but today was perfect soup weather. This is one of my family’s favorite soups – it’s creamy but not too heavy. I always double or triple the amounts given at Allrecipes.com because it’s that good! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Ham and Potato Soup – adapted from Allrecipes.com

* = my modifications

  • 3 1/2 cups peeled and diced potatoes (*2 pounds)
  • 1/3 cup diced celery (*5 stalks)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion (*one whole small onion)
  • 3/4 cup diced cooked ham (*a little over 1 pound)
  • 3 1/4 cups water (*4 cups chicken broth)
  • 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules (*I omitted this)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste (*I omitted this)
  • 1 teaspoon ground white or black pepper, or to taste
  • 5 tablespoons butter (*11 tbsp)
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour (*11 tbsp)
  • 2 cups milk (*three cups)

Directions –

1. Combine the potatoes, celery, onion, ham and water in a stockpot. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the chicken bouillon, salt and pepper.

2. In a separate saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour with a fork, and cook, stirring constantly until thick, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk as not to allow lumps to form until all of the milk has been added. Continue stirring over medium-low heat until thick, 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Stir the milk mixture into the stockpot, and cook soup until heated through. Serve immediately.


Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Bites

These are always welcome here, but thankfully they were meant for a cookie exchange. The kids were expecting these to stay home, but I don’t think they mind that there are 18 different kind of cookies to choose from now. These are so easy to make and you can use other mini candies in place of the Reese’s if you’d like. For example, I have tried Snickers in place of the Reese’s cups and I bought some Rolo’s thinking that those would be a perfect complement to these too. Maybe the next batch will have those in them! These were snapped up at the cookie exchange really quickly and I hope whoever chose these enjoyed them. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Peanut Butter Cup Brownie Bites – adapted from Savory Sweet Life

  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 40 mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, unwrapped from the brown paper

DIRECTIONS – Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray mini cupcake pan with non stick spray.  In a medium bowl, mix melted butter, sugars and vanilla.  Beat in eggs one at a time. Gradually add flour, cocoa, and salt and mix until combined.  Fill each cupcake slot slightly more than halfway but not more than 2/3 full.  Place a peanut butter cup in each slot pressing it down until it is almost level with the batter.  Bake in preheated oven for 15-18 minutes or until done.  Allow the brownie bites to cool for 5 minutes before removing from the cupcake tin.  Enjoy! *Notes: Be sure to remove brownie bites 5 minutes after coming out of the oven.  Otherwise they might cool and stick to the sides making it difficult to get out.  If baking these in a pan, your baking time will increase to 25-30 minutes.  You can be sure they are close to being done when you can smell them from your oven.

Meatball Subs and Marinara Sauce

Ooh…these were good. Even my picky eater enjoyed these, which is always a great because she often refuses to eat anything new. Another great thing about these recipes is that they made enough to become spaghetti and meatballs with marinara for last nights dinner. I’m so happy that my husband who hates spaghetti loved eating that meal too. Maybe it’s because this was all from scratch and not from a jar or package. I love being able to cook like this for my family and what makes that even better is that I thoroughly enjoy the process of it. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Meatballs – adapted from The Comfort is Always Here

  • 1/2 lb of ground beef
  • 3 Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 slices of white bread, crusts removed, torn into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 shallot, grated
  • Italian loaf of bread, or Italian rolls
  • 4 slices of mozzarella cheese per sandwich

Warm your marinara sauce in a deep skillet or a large saucepan while you prepare your meatball mixture.

Begin by soaking the bread in the milk for a few minutes. In a large bowl, add the meat, eggs, basil, seasonings, cheese and grated shallot. Squeeze the milk from the bread and add to the bowl. Thoroughly combine all ingredients, but be careful not to over-mix. Next form your balls and think about the size of them as you will place them onto the sub.

Cook your meatballs right in the sauce. Make sure the meatball is completely covered, and continue to cook on simmer for about 45 minutes, or longer.

When you are ready to make your sub, you have a couple of options. I hollowed out the top of mine, thinking I could place the cheese on the bottom, fill with meatballs, and place a couple of more slices of mozzarella on top. The choice is yours. You decide.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Add two slices of cheese to the bottom of the bread, and cook in the oven for about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the oven, and set your broiler. Add the meatballs to the top of the cheese, cover with two more slices of the cheese, and place under the broiler. Watch it carefully – the toasty goodness happens quick!

Marinara Sauce – adapted from Food.com

  • 3 -4 tablespoons olive oil (I use enough oil to lightly coat the bottom of my pot)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 -6 garlic cloves, minced (or to taste, the more the better I use 6 extra large cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional or adjust to taste)
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste (can use two cans for a thicker richer sauce if desired)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can whole roma tomatoes, undrained (break up with a fork before cooking, go ahead and use two cans if desired!)
  • 1/3-1/2 cup dry red wine (you may omit if desired but good to add in, can use white wine)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (optional or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste, a good tomato sauce needs lots so don’t be shy with the salt)
  • fresh ground pepper

In a heavy bottomed stock pot or dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic, dried herbs and pepper flakes saute for 3-4 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Add canned tomatoes and wine and simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 – 2 hours stirring occasionally. Season with salt, pepper and sugar. You can add more water if you prefer a thinner sauce.

The Chewy (cookie)

I always enjoy watching Good Eats – it’s educational, entertaining and it’s all about food. I remember seeing this episode a long time ago but I never tested any of the three cookie recipes in the show. Tonight that all changed when I made the “chewy” cookie – I would have chosen the “thin” cause those kind are my fave. M really likes underdone cookies – ick! These aren’t taken out early or anything, but with the higher ratio of brown sugar and the use of bread flour keeps these cookies moist and prevents them from drying out. The batter is much smoother and creamy than any other I’ve ever made, but it’s super tasty…I couldn’t resist!

These turned out to be as good as they look, but I didn’t find them to be “chewy” at all…which is just all right with me. M warms any cookie up in the microwave before eating anyway, so that softens them up a bit. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies – adapted from Alton Brown

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Hardware:

  • Ice cream scooper (#20 disher, to be exact)
  • Parchment paper
  • Baking sheets
  • Mixer

Direction –

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat.Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.

Pour the melted butter in the mixer’s work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Chill the dough, then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.