Thursday, October 29, 2009

Apple Crisp sans Oatmeal

A friend of ours has a bunch of apple trees and offered us some if we came and picked them.  It turned out to be a great family night activity.  That said, we now have almost 4 bushels of apples that need to have something done to them.  So Monday night we had Apple Crisp.  I went looking for a recipe since I don't have one I am in love with and found one in my America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook which was mostly GF, which I thought was wonderful and so I had to try it and it was delicious.  I still think I like it best with oatmeal, but this was really good and everyone loved it.  Note to self, watch the timer and the temperature in the oven.   I was making this the same time I made Twisty Cheese Sticks and I ended up under cooking the cheese sticks and over cooking the apple crisp.  That said, it was delicious still.  Basically, it turned out a little more caramelly (if that's a word), the only thing missing was ice cream. I did 2x's the recipe and cooked it in a 9x13 pan.

Apple Crisp sans Oatmeal (printer friendly recipe)
3 T rice flour blend
3 T sorghum flour
1/4 C sugar
1/4 C packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla
5 T unsalted butter (or substitute), cut into 1/2 pieces and softened*
3/4 C finely chopped walnuts or pecan
3 lbs apples (6-8), peeled, cored and sliced
1/4 C sugar
1 1/2 T lemon juice

1. For the topping combine the flours, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Add the vanilla and butter and stir to coat the butter.  With your fingers squish the butter and flour mixture together until you get a mixture that resembles "wet sand" (love that description).  Add the nuts and stir to combine.
Doesn't it look like wet sand?
Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 375-degrees and make sure the oven rack is on the 2nd to lowest level.
3. Combine the apples, remaining sugar, and lemon juice and dump into an 8x8 pan or 9" deep-dish pie plate.
I love the look of the apples, so shiny and pretty.

4. Crumble the refrigerated topping over the apples so it covers evenly.

 5. Bake for 40 minutes (1 hour if doubling and using a 9x13 pan) or until the fruit is bubbly and the topping is deep golden brown (not dark like mine).  Let cool on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes.

*I just microwaved my butter for 10 seconds and cut it up

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Twisty (kind of) Cheese Sticks

The other day I decided to make the Cowboy Beans from the "A Year of Slow Cooking."  After a disastrous issue with soaking the beans overnight with the crockpot on (can you say ready to be refried) and then forgetting to soak them I finally got around to successfully making it.  The soup was pretty good, not amazing, but good.  However, the Cheese Sticks I made to go with the soup were fabulous.  I only wish I would have realized my oven wasn't heating all the way and they would have worked even better, and I should have cooked them just a bit longer to get even more crunch (I finally figured it out on the 3rd pan in the oven - 1 GF pan, and 2 regular).  I was a little worried my dough was too soft since they didn't twist great, but I think it is because I didn't twist them enough to really stay twisted, instead they just folded.  I think I got this recipe from the Family Fun magazine, but I'm not sure since I cut it out and placed it in my "to try" binder, and I really should have "tried" it before.  Even though I made GF & regular sticks, I could have just done GF (cost aside) and no one would have known the difference.  You really need to try these the next time you crockpot.  They are really easy and don't take too much time.  Since you already made dinner in the crockpot it makes it even easier.

Twisty (kind of) Cheese Sticks (printer friendly recipe)

1 C rice flour blend
1/2 C sorghum flour
6 T butter, softened
2 C grated cheddar cheese
1 1/2 C grated Parmesan &/or Romano cheese
1 egg
1/4 C milk

1. Heat oven to 400-degrees and grease 2 cookie sheets
2. In a food processor add the flours, butter, and cheeses.  Pulse for about a minute or until all the cheese, flour, and butter and well combined.

3. Add the egg and pulse until its combined well.  With the processor running, add the milk through the feed tube and blend until the dough forms a ball (about a minute).  Add more Parmesan if it seems really sticky.
4. Place 1/2 the dough on a floured surface (I used parchment paper) and roll to about 1/8 inch thick.  Cut into 1/2-inch strips that are 4-inches long.  Twist the strips and line them up on the prepared cookie sheet.

5. Bake the strips for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Store in an airtight container for up to a week (if they last that long).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chicken, Toasted Garlic & Veggie Pasta

First I have to admit that the photo is not using GF pasta.  My daughter who is GF had the flu the day I served this and she didn't want to eat anything, so I didn't have to make her pasta.   That said, it had been a long day and I needed something fast so I went to my Rachel Ray Express Meals cookbook and went searching.  I came upon "Toasted Garlic & Sweet Pea Pasta" that I had been wanting to try for a while, but was always missing one or more ingredients.  Well I still didn't have enough peas but decided to make it work anyway, by using the end of a bag of broccoli.  I also decided it needed chicken.  Let me say, this was DIVINE!!  It was so good I ended up freezing it in portion sizes so I could eat it later.  I am definately going to make this again.  If you are worried about it being too garlicky, it isn't.  The garlic seems to just melt into the sauce and compliments perfectly.  I think I am going to try adding toasted sliced almonds next time, I think it would give a great crunch.

Chicken, Toasted Garlic & Veggie Pasta  
(printer friendly recipe)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 chicken breast halves, chopped
1 lb pasta
1/4-1/3 olive oil
5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 lg onion, finely chopped
1 med green pepper, finely chopped
1/2 tsp dried thyme
salt, to taste (about 1/4 tsp for me)
black pepper, to taste (about 1/4 tsp for me)
2 3/4 C chicken broth
1-10 oz box of frozen peas
1 small bag of frozen broccoli
3 T dried parsley
1 C grated Parmesan Cheese (opt)
1/4 tsp sliced almonds, toasted (opt.)

1. In a medium skillet cook heat 1 Tbsp olive oil and cook chicken until golden brown.
2. Cook pasta according to package directions, be sure to save about 1/2 C of the pasta water for the sauce.
3. In a large skillet heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat and add the sliced garlic.  Cook until golden brown, careful garlic goes from golden to black quickly.  Remove garlic to a paper towel lined plate. 
4. Turn the heat up to med-high and add the red pepper flakes, onion, green pepper, thyme, salt and pepper.  Cook, being sure to stir frequently, until the onions and green pepper are tender and the onions start to brown.  Add the chicken stock and cook for about 4 minutes.  Add the peas, broccoli, cooked chicken and 1/2 C pasta water (if doing GF & regular pasta be sure to get water from the GF pasta pan).  Bring the sauce to a boil and add the parsley and garlic slices.  Stir to combine and taste to determine if it needs more salt and pepper, add if necessary.
5. Pour sauce over pasta and and stir to combine.  Add cheese and stir.  If the sauce is too thick you can add more chicken broth.  Pass cheese at the table for those who want more.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pork Chops with Apples

I love Pork Chops with apples.  I realize some might find this strange, I have a brother-in-law that does not believe in fruit in savory dishes, but ever since I had it at some restaurant I have loved it.  Right now we have a plethora of apples from a neighbors trees that need to be sauced, dried, and maybe even made into apple pie filling, so when I found some pork chops in the freezer I decided I was going to make pork chops with apples.  Having never made them before (I just order them in restaurants) I went looking for a recipe, starting at  I searched for "pork apples" and the first item on the list was "Carmel Apple Pork Chops" with 4 1/2 stars.  Sounded good to me, with a little of my own tweaking (I used 2 pans and not the oven) it turned out divine!  My kids were a little leary of my creation, but after making them take a bite they were sold!  We had 2 left over and in one of my selfish mom moments I hid them and saved them for my husband and I.  They were too good to share with the kids.  But now I need to find more pork chops or buy some because we need to eat this again!  The one downside, I was in such a hurry to get it on the table before we had to take my daughter to gymnastics I forgot the pecans.  Something I will NOT do again, because it would make this even better.

Carmel Apple Pork Chops (printer friendly recipe)
4 (3/4 inch) thick pork chops
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 C brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 C unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
2 tart apples - peeled, cored and sliced
3 tablespoons pecans (optional)

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetable oil and place chops in the pan.  Salt and pepper the chops.  Cook, turning occasionally, until done.
2. In a separate pan, combine the sliced apples, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Cover and cook until apples are tender and sauce is thick.
3. Spoon sauce over apples and chops. Sprinkle with pecans.

* You can also cook it using just one pan like the original instructions say, keeping the pork chops warm in the oven with tin foil over them.  Up to you.  I used 2 pans because it was faster.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Chocolate Cookies to DIE for!

My sisters and I all own the Nestle Toll House Best Loved Cookies cookbook which we affectionately call "The Cookie Book".  We are constantly calling each other when we have tried a new recipe in it and telling each other you MUST try this recipe.  Their Double Chocolate Dream Cookies are just one of the recipe we all love.  But when I tried adapting it I failed MISERABLY and was so sad since my daughter LOVES these cookies.  Enter my sister whose daughter was diagnosed with Celiacs a year ago.  I told her my troubles and asked her to give it a try and, voile, success.  So this recipe is curtesy of her, thanks!  And I am not going to reveal how much dough I ate (DON'T DO THIS, IT IS BAD AND YOU MIGHT GET SICK!) while cooking these or how many I snitched before our regular ones were done.

Chocolate Cookies to DIE For printer friendly recipe
2 3/4 C flour
1/2 C baking cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 C butter or margarine, softened
1 C packed brown sugar
3/4 C granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
1 1/2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips.

1. Preheat oven to 375-degrees
2.Combine the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
3. Beat butter, sugars and vanilla in a separate bowl until creamy.  Beat in eggs for about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy.  Gradually add the flour.  Stir in the chocolate chips.
4. Drop by rounded tablespoons on an ungreased cookie sheet.
5. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until they are puffed.  Let cool on sheet for about 2 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way.  Makes about 2 1/2 dozen (if you don't eat the dough).

Create your own font

My friend Valerie, from whom I get some of my best crafting ideas, just posted about a way to make your own font using your handwriting.  You need to go to As usual I had to try it out (instead of cleaning my house or canning, I'm so not very responsible today).  And it was so fun!  I am going to have my daughter who is home sick with the flu do it also, I figure it would be something to cheer her up.  Here is how it turned out.
MY Fonts

Don't you think this would be a fun way to make Christmas cards? or other cards?  I am going to have to think of other uses as well.  Thanks Val!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fantastic Site!

I love to bake and cook but perhaps one of my passions is sewing.  I absolutely love to sew!  There is something about taking scraps of fabric and turning it into something, fun, useful, beautiful, or just plain interesting that fascinates me.  When my husband was in graduate school I often did a homemade Christmas and I loved it.  I have to admit adding 2 kids and more money kind of got me out of the habit.  But this year I was thinking of doing it again.  Then while I was looking at Chocolate on My Cranium, one of my favorite blogs I lurk on, I saw a link to this site called "Skip to my Lou: Gifts you can Sew" and had to click.  I am now in LOVE and VERY motivated to do a homemade Christmas  The best part was the link to other blogs with fun ideas as well.  Now to narrow down what I am doing.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Roast Beef Pinwheels

Last April I made Ham & Chicken Rollups, basically the same, but with ham & chicken.  Obvious, I know.  Anyway, the original recipe done by my sister used a leftover roast, but all I had was ham & chicken in the fridge so I tried it with that.  It was a hit.  So this week when I made roast I forced everyone to save some (I started with a 2.3 lb roast and after it was cooked and everyone ate their fill I had about 1/3 left) and made these a few days later.  They were DIVINE!!!!  My daughter had to be stopped from eating so she could have some for lunch the next day.  I have to admit the biscuit mix I used is not the best (Blue Chip Group -- it is too greasy, even after halving the shortening), but we are trying to use it up.  I will probably replace the photo when I use my regular recipe that is more like regular Baking Powder Biscuits.  That said, you should try these, my kids can't get enough of them.  The measurements are approx since I just kind of dumped and used what I had.

Roast Beef Pinwheels (printer friendly recipe)
1 tsp vegetable oil*
1 sm onion, sliced*
2 cloves garlic, smashed
Left over cooked roast (about 3/4 lb), chunked
1 sm bell pepper,** chunked
Handful of cheddar cheese
1 beef bouilion cube, crumbled (I had to use a meat mallet)
1/4 C milk or water
1 egg
1 Baking Powder Biscuit recipe prepared (12 biscuit size)

1. Heat oil over Med-high heat. Sautee onion until softened and browned.*
2. In a food processor (I love this appliance!) Place the onion,garlic, roast, bell pepper, cheese, bouillon cube, and water or milk. Pulse a few times to mix the hot onions in. Add the egg. Mix until thoroughly combined, and the mixture resembles a thick puree.

3. Mix up biscuits according to recipe and roll out to about 1/4" thick into a rectangle. Spread Roast mixture over the dough with it going to the short ends and going withing 1" of the edge.

I did a 1/2 recipe and ended up with more of a circle than rectangle, but you get the idea

If you have some dough leftover shape some regular biscuits, if you have the mixture leftover, cook in the microwave about 3 minutes (to cook the egg) then refrigerate and use as a sandwich spread.

4. Roll up like a cinnamon roll and slice about 1" apart.

I used the wax paper I rolled the dough out on to help roll it up

Your roll

5. Slice about 1 to 1-1/2 inches wide.  Place rolls on a greased cookie sheet.

6. Bake on 425-degrees for about 10-15 minutes or until browned. Enjoy!

We ate it as a main course, but I think it would work for an appetizer also, just spread the meat mixture really thin and roll a thin rectangle so you would have smaller ones.

*I just cooked the roast with onion and saved what was cooked.
**use whichever color you like

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mini Turnovers & Pies

I know I have mentioned this before, but I just really love pie.  So when I saw these teensy-weensy turnovers I just had to make them.  Well I ended up making the GF pie dough a little too dry (still working on the crust) and the crust didn't bend well so I ended up just making mini-pies.  I filled them with peach pie filling , pear-raspberry-strawberry jam (a variation of this recipe), and a simple pecan topping.  They were delicious!  If I hadn't made GF & regular ones they would have been fast also.  I am thinking of making fried pies next time.

Mini Turnovers & Pies
1 recipe 9" pie crust (I used this one)
Pie filling
Egg white
White Sugar
Glaze (recipe below)

1. Roll pie crust between parchment or wax paper to 1/8" thickness.

Use a circular cookie cutter or top of a cup to cut "crusts."

I used a 1-1/4" cutter

2. Place "crusts" on a cookie sheet.  If you are doing turnovers, prick each crust with a fork just above the middle.  If you are doing "pies" prick every other "crust".

3. Place a little filling (about 1/4 -1/2 tsp) in the middle of each crust for the turnovers and every other crust (the one not pricked with a fork) for the pies.

Peach & Jam filling shown

4. Rub a little water around the edge of the crusts and fold over for turnovers or place the pricked crust on top of the filling pressing down slightly at the edges.  For an extra touch you can indent with a small sucker stick or something like it.  Beat egg white with a fork until foamy and brush on each pie.  Sprinkle with a bit of white sugar.

5. Bake in a 375 for 10-12 minutes.
Aren't they pretty?


4 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Milk (enough to be thin)

1. Stir together and drizzle over cooked turnovers.

Simple Pecan Topping

I came up with this when I wanted a pecan pie type filling for mini-turnovers and mini-pies.  This was what I came up with.  It is delicious and I think I am going to serve it on some ice cream tonight with some of the smooth peach pie filling.

Pecan Topping
(printable version)
1/2 C chopped pecans
1 T corn syrup
1 T brown sugar

1. Combine in a small bowl.  Serve as pie filling or on top of ice cream.

Smooth Peach Pie Filling

I originally made this for mini-turnovers and mini-pies since a regular pie filling would have been too chunky.  Thankfully, it turned out pretty yummy and would be great to make a smoother pie filling, or to use as ice cream topping or cheesecake topping, or, I just thought of this, top a cracker with some cream cheese and add some peach filling.  I am definately having that for my midnight snack.

Smooth Peach Pie Filling (printable version)

5-1/2 C peeled, & diced small*
1 C sugar
6 T cornstarch
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
dash of salt
3 T butter or margarine
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Combine peaches, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a saucepan.  Let sit about 30-45 minutes or until a syrup forms (you won't see a syrup if you use a food processor).
2. Bring peach mixture to a boil; reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for about 5-10 minutes or until the peach pieces are tender.  Stir often.  Allow to cool.  I placed the filling in a bowl and set the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice and stirred occasionally.  Took about 1 1/2 hours.  Use for ice cream topping, pie filling or anything else that sounds good.
*I put my peeled peaches in my food processor and pulsed a few times


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