Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Healthier Apple Crunch

A little off topic of the post, but I'm excited to say that I've joined the team Operation Cookie Drop on Baking Gals. For those of you unfamiliar with the site; it is for volunteers to bake goodies and send them to troops deployed in a war zone. You can also add other goods to your packages as well.

On to the apple crunch...

I have a whole bag of granny smith apples that I need to use up, so I went on the hunt for some new apple recipes. I wanted to make something a little healthier than the pies and dumplings I usually make. I found this recipe for Apple Crunch on the blog Good Things Catered, and it seemed to fit the bill. It was quick and I was pretty impressed with the flavor for the few ingredients. It will definitely become a regular dessert at our house!

Apple Crunch

4 large apples
1/2 c. oats
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. whole wheat flour
4 Tbsp butter, cold
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray an 8x8 baking dish with baking spray
Peel, core, and dice apples into 1/2-inch pieces
Spread apples evenly in baking dish.
In medium bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg
Cut butter into small pieces and add to dry ingredients along with the vanilla.
With pastry blender, cut butter into dry ingredients until all butter is about the size of a small pea.
Sprinkle this mixture evenly over apples.
Place baking dish in oven and bake for 55-60 minutes or until apples have cooked down and begun to caramelize.
Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

First Attempt at Pumpkin Pie

This recipe was called "Perfect Pumpkin Pie" and I must say, I agree! I was a little nervous because I had never made pumpkin pie before, but it seemed pretty simple. So easy, and so, so good!

Perfect Pumpkin Pie

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

1.Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Whisk pumpkin, sweetened condensed milk, eggs, spices and salt in medium bowl until smooth. Pour into crust. Bake 15 minutes.
2.Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking 35 to 40 minutes or until knife inserted 1 inch from crust comes out clean. Cool. Garnish as desired. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Colorful Veggie Bake

I was looking for some new ways to cook veggies, so I tried this casserole. I think it is great as a side dish and would work with almost any meal. I doubled the cracker topping because it's my favorite part.

Colorful Veggie Bake

2 (16 ounce) packages frozen California blend vegetables, thawed
8 ounces process cheese (eg. Velveeta), cubed
6 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 cup crushed butter-flavored crackers

1.Prepare vegetables according to package directions; drain. Place half in an ungreased 11-in. x 7-in. x 2-in. baking dish. In a small saucepan, combine cheese and 4 tablespoons butter; cook and stir over low heat until melted. Pour half over vegetables. Repeat layers.
2.Melt the remaining butter; toss with cracker crumbs. Sprinkle over the top. Bake, uncovered, at 325 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies - Take II

This recipe was a little different, since it included instant pudding mix. I think they came out great. I prefer these to the last recipe, but Justin still rates the last one as his top pick so far.

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies
*I cut this recipe in half, as I had no need to make such a huge batch. I also had to bake them for about 4 minutes longer than the directions called for.

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 (3.4 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups chopped walnuts (optional)

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour and baking soda, set aside.
2.In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture. Finally, stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.
3.Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Edges should be golden brown.

Original Recipe

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

No Pumpkin Shortage Here!

I keep hearing how there is going to a big shortage of canned pumpkin this year. I ran into the grocery store to grab something else, and saw an end shelf full of it. I don't know if there is really going to be a shortage, but I'm not about to make homemade pumpkin puree...I made sure I grabbed enough for the bread and pies I want to make this fall.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies - Take I

I am looking for the best homemade chocolate chip cookie recipe that I can find. I figure I will try a different recipe each time, until I find "the one". This recipe is very popular on the food blogs and had a pretty high rating. The cookies are good, but I just wasn't that impressed. I will definitely be trying another one next time.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Adjust oven racks to upper and lower-middle positions. Preheat oven 325°. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl; set aside. With electric mixer, or by hand, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly combined. Beat in egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients and beat at low-speed just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

Roll a scant half-cup of dough into a ball. Holding dough ball in fingertips of both hands, pull apart into two equal halves. Rotate halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, place formed dough onto cookie sheet, leaving ample room between each ball. Bake, reversing position of cookie sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft and puffy (approximately 11-14 minutes). Do not over bake.

Cool cookies on sheets until able to lift without breaking. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Freakin' Fantastic Apple Dumplings

I saw this recipe on Tasty Kitchen. I was hesitant for two reasons...

1. It is absolutely loaded with butter and sugar
2. It uses Mountain Dew for a sauce

It had raving reviews, so I decided to give it a go. Oh. My. God. These are so delicious! I packaged most of the pan up to give to friends, just to avoid eating too many of them. They truly are awful for you(but oh so worth it).

Easy Apple Dumplings
2 whole Granny Smith Apples, Cored And Peeled
2 cans Refrigerator Crescent Rolls
2 sticks Butter
1 1/2 cup White Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 can Mountain Dew
Ground Cinnamon

Cut apples into 8 slices each.

Roll each apple slice in a crescent roll. Place in a 9 x 13 buttered pan.

Melt butter, then add sugar and barely stir.

Add vanilla, stir, and pour over apples.

Pour Mountain Dew around the edges of the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Serve with ice cream, and spoon some of the sweet sauces from the pan over the top.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Stuffed Shells

I made stuffed shells for dinner tonight. They were way more time consuming than I was expecting. I tried adding spinach to half the batch and it added a nice flavor. I think next time I may try adding some kind of meat(italian sausage or chicken). I also added some mozzarella on top before baking. I covered it with foil for the first 15 minutes to keep them from drying out, then removed the foil and continued baking for 15-20 minutes.

Stuffed Shells

1 (16 ounce) package jumbo pasta shells
4 cups large curd cottage cheese
12 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 pinch garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 (26 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1.Cook shells according to package directions. Place in cold water to stop cooking. Drain.
2.Mix together cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, eggs, and garlic powder. Rub the dried herbs in the palms of your hands to pulverize them, and stir into the cheese mixture. Stuff mixture into the shells.
3.Spread 1/3 of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a 15 x 10 inch pan. Place shells open side up, and close together in pan. Spread remaining sauce over top, and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.
4.Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 35 minutes, or until bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Donut Muffins

I have been waiting for some free time to try these donut muffins and finally got around to it tonight. They taste pretty good, and do remind me a lot of donuts. Great fall muffin!

Donut Muffins

1-3/4 cup Flour
1-1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoons Salt
1/2 teaspoons Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1/3 cups Oil
3/4 cups White Sugar
1 whole Egg
3/4 cups Milk

1/4 cups Butter
1/3 cups White Sugar
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Combine oil, sugar, egg and milk. Add dry ingredients and stir only to combine.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a bowl. Combine the white sugar with the cinnamon in another bowl.

Shake muffins out while still hot. Dip muffins in butter, then into the sugar/cinnamon mix. Let cool.