Wednesday, October 29, 2008

How ya like them apples?

Made applesauce the other day.
Very easy and so much better than anything purchased in a store.

I cut 6 peeled and cored apples in half and placed them in a casserole dish with a few tablespoons of water and several dashes of cinnamon.

Microwaved for 12 minutes (2 minutes per apple). Let them cool a little and mushed them in a food mill (borrowed from my sister) with the coarse grater.

Ridiculously simple. Ridiculously delicious.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Apple Overload.

We went to Linvilla Orchards on Friday. We all had a lot of fun. We saw animals, rode a train, picked out pumpkins and went apple picking.
I spent about $25 on apples. There were hardly any apples left, but we found two or three trees that had a decent amount of fruit. The only apples available to pick were red delicious. I think they are my least favorite apples, but what can ya do? (FYI... honeycrisp apples are my new favorite. They are tart and sweet and crisp and wonderful.)
When we came home, I adapted a recipe and made a sort of apple cobbler. Eh. Not impressive and therefore, not picture worthy.
This morning I made German Apple Pancakes. It was Cooking Light's August 2008 cover recipe.
This was easy, but not quick. It was good, but not a "go out and get the ingredients" recipe. Although really, it's one of those recipes that has basic pantry ingredients anyhow. That's always a bonus.
OK, wait, I'm lying. I didn't have egg substitute, so I substituted the substitute by using *gasp* three real eggs mixed with water.
It was good, but not great. It tasted too egg-y for me. Maybe that's due to the amount of eggs. Maybe it's just that way. I don't know. Either way, it wasn't really a good use of the excess of apples I have since it only used about one and a half apples. I think I'm going to make applesauce today.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Mac & Cheese.

Today was such a perfect autumn day. Chilly, windy, and sunny. The trees were shedding their leaves in droves. I so enjoy driving through the park in the downpour of autumn leaves.
The weather completely inspired my dinner menu; plus I knew that my husband would be craving something warm and comforting since he has a cold (and no blood.)
I found this recipe from Cooking Light. I decided to alter it. A lot. I replaced the gorgonzola with goat cheese. I replaced the mozzarella with 1% sharp cheddar. Skipped the bay leaf and added paprika. Served with stewed tomatoes, of course! It was very delicious. A perfect meal autumnal meal. I also made some vegetarian minestrone (a photo from last year here.) inspired by this soup. I used vegetable broth instead of water, and used about 8 cups of it since I more than doubled the recipe's vegetables. I added celery and cabbage too. Very tasty. Cannot wait for tomorrow' lunch (soup) and tomorrow's after work dinner (mac & cheese and more soup).

Pumpkin Cupcakes.

I wanted my house to smell good. Nice and fally. Ya know, cinnamon-y. So, instead of lighting a candle, I decided to do it the real way. The way that helps you maintain your way above average weight. I baked. (Plus, I had a lot of cream cheese left over from my baking for my sister's housewarming.)

I adapted a recipe from my Philadelphia cream cheese cookbooks. This recipe was supposed to be some sort of pumpkin bar with cream cheese frosting. I just made cupcakes. I didn't have enough nuts, so I used half nuts, and some raisins. It made 24 cupcakes. And the frosting? Divine. Or evil. Depends on how you look at it. Cream cheese, butter, 10x, and cinnamon. (view the photo large so you can see the little specks of cinnamon.) So delicious. I knew they were really good when my normally self-controlled-around-sweets husband had two at a sitting.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Apologies for the pun, but really, what's a blog without puns?
So, I completed my first pair of socks. I feel so accomplished on the dpns (double-pointed needles) that I can't believe I had such a difficult time with them before. I'm wondering if the main reason is because the needles I was using were aluminum and therefore slippery. I love the texture of the bamboo and the ease at which they work. Since knitting is so tactile, I think bamboo needles are worth the extra money, plus they make such a nice sound when they click against each other.

Back to the socks. They are for Abby, because, well, let's face it, it's more fun to make things for little people because:
  • the projects go quicker (more opportunities for a sense of accomplishment)
  • little things are cute, and
  • little people are genuinely appreciative
I really like these socks because I love the colors of the self-striping yarn. And yes, I am currently making a pair for myself. Don't be jealous.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

You're a Mormon, Charlie Brown.

Abby has a recent addiction to "Peanuts." We've watched the Halloween one; a classic (I got a rock), but I've seen it so many times recently, that I'm not sure I like it anymore. On the same DVD as the Halloween episode is, "You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown." I think that says it all.
We've watched the Thanksgiving one: kind of weird, Abby calls Peppermint Patty "he." (But, who can blame her, really? I mean, after all, Marcy does call her "sir.")
We've seen the Mayflower one: this one is so bizarre, and, I imagine, like some weird acid trip that involves overly friendly, English speaking Native Americans, sick and dying children, and over zealous pilgrims anxious to share the land with and work it with its original inhabitants.
Oh, and of course the Christmas ones. The good one and the one that has no plot and sucks.

Anyhow, because of the recent rise in "Peanuts" in our house, when we saw the autumn Peanuts fabric, I knew we needed to buy it and make her a skirt with it pronto. So, I made her an a-line skirt with a bias-tape hem. I figured since it was for fall, I should make it a bit longer. Then I remembered that I had a yellow t-shirt that I had purchased with the intention of screenprinting something, but never got around to, so I sewed a snoopy on the front (more than slightly askew, so really, it looks like I did it on purpose and not by accident.) I also did some decorative stitches on the arms and collar; I ripped off the original collar because it was so thick.

What did I end up with? An extra large, shapeless outfit (hence the Mormon reference) that she couldn't wait to wear. I'm glad she likes it, but really, it's quite ridiculous.

Monday, October 13, 2008


My sister had a housewarming party on Saturday.
I made two desserts. Honestly, there was so much food I don't think it was necessary, but alas!, I made two artery-clogging, cholesterol-raising treats.

First up:
The no-bake cheesecake in Martha's Halloween issue. I couldn't be bothered with the spiderweb decoration and just spattered the ganache Jackson Pollock-style. My only issue with the cake: the ganache did not stick to the crust sides like Martha says it should. I didn't let that stop me; I just poured it on the bottom instead of fighting with the side crumbs. This cake, as you can imagine, was so filling. Me, my daughter, and my father split one small piece. The three of us, as individuals are sweets lovers, and we were all satisfied sharing. Overall, good cake, would recommend for making it for a party.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars from my Philadelphia cream cheese cookbook. This is a no-brainer. Cream cheese. Peanut butter. No need to say more. (I must admit, I am not a real peanut butter fan, but my love and chocolate and cream cheese makes this dessert worthy of a piece or three.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

That Time of Year.

The time of year when there's a little chill in the air and sweaters are optional, but preferred.

The time of year when I get an obsessive need to bake and/or make soup.

The time of year when your daughter gets a cold and keeps you up all night watching Barney on Sprout and you thank you the gods that there is a 24 hour channel for preschoolers despite the fact that when you were child-free you wondered why the hell there should be a 24 hour channel for kids.

I made lentil soup this morning. Kinda just threw it together without a recipe and it's delicious (and vegan). I had two bowls for lunch.

Lentil Soup
1 lb. lentils, picked through
8 c. (4 cans) vegetable broth
2 c. water
olive oil
3 carrots (finely diced)
2 small onions (finely diced)
6 cloves minced garlic (I heart my pampered chef garlic press)
liquid smoke (didn't measure)
sea salt
chili powder
(I didn't measure the herbs/spices)

  • Saute the garlic, onions, carrots in the oil. Add the herbs and spices. Saute a bit more until well combined and the kitchen smells delicious.
  • Pour in the vegetable broth, water, the lentils and liquid smoke.
  • Bring to boil and then simmer until desired thickness.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Why the Gods Invented Nutella.

My first Nutella experience was years ago. I was still living with my parents. I was still eating meat. I was still going to the Italian deli every Saturday with my mom. The deli had a lot of imports from Italy: Italian greeting cards with saints on them, Italian sodas, and the sweet thick chocolatey goodness that is Nutella. I'm pretty sure my mom bought it on a PMS-induced whim. The container recommends spreading it on bread. We just dipped spoons into it, as I'm sure most Nutella disciples do.
Now, I don't live with my parents, I don't eat meat, and the Italian deli is closed. But I can buy Nutella in the average-Joe grocery store; however, I don't because I cannot live with the guilt that is involved with being the sole consumer.
I never made anything with Nutella until I found this cake recipe. It is delicious. It is loaded with hazelnut happiness. It has more calories and fat than you need in a week. It is definitely a special occasion cake. My sister asked me to make it for her friend's birthday. (Happy Birthday, Cate!)
The recipe is from "The Whimsical Bake House."

Hazelnut Cake with Nutella Mousse & Nutella Butter Cream

1 stick unsalted butter
1 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 c. sour cream
2/3 c. finely chopped toasted hazelnuts

  • Grease 2 8" round pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Beat butter and brown sugar at high speed unti light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs one at a time and beat until combined.
  • Sift dry ingredients together.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/egg mixture alternately with sour cream.
  • Beat until smooth.
  • Stir hazelnuts in by hand.

Pour 3 cups of batter into one pan and the remaining batter into the other. Bake the less full pan for 20-25 minutes and the fuller pan for 30-35 minutes, or until cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 15-20 minutes before turning the cakes out of the pans.

Nutella Mousse:
2 c heavy cream
4 tbsp. 10x sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. nutella

  • Whip heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla in electric mixer at high speed, until stiff.
  • Soften nutella in microwave for 10-20 seconds
  • Gently fold nutella into the whipped cream.

Nutella Buttercream:
( I am not using the book's buttercream recipe; I'm using my own with the deletion of all but a tsp. of vanilla, and whatever nutella is leftover from the mousse.)

tbsp. melted butter
6 c. 10x sugar
2/3 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
remanding nutella

  • pour melted butter into mixer bowl
  • alternately add 10x sugar and milk
  • add vanilla
  • mix in nutella
(Cut each cake in half horizontally making two layers per cake; 4 layers total.) Please note, in photograph, there are 3 cakes instead of 2.

  • Bottom of cake
  • Mousse
  • Top of cake
  • Buttercream
  • Bottom of cake
  • Mousse
  • Top of Cake
  • Frost with Buttercream.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Apple Crisp.

I've had this recipe for years. I make it every autumn. Due to those two facts you'd think the recipe would be perfected. Nope.
I tried gala apples instead of granny smith. Eh. Too mushy.
Added more nutmeg. Nope. I don't know why I can't just accept the fact that I don't care for nutmeg in anything except pumpkin pie or pumpkin bread.
This one also ended up a bit soupy. Overall, I liked the crisp part better than the apple part. I'm thinking I just may make up some "crisp" and have it on hand as a topping for misc. autumny treats. (And I wonder how I gained those 20 lbs.?)

5-6 GRANNY SMITH apples
1c brown sugar
3/4c oats
3/4c flour
1tsp cinnamon (I don't measure, but I'm pretty sure I use more.)
1stp nutmeg (if you don't have a non-pumpkin aversion to it.)
1 stick of softened butter
1/4c apple juice or water

  • 375 degree oven.
  • mix apples with cinnamon and nutmeg and put in pie plate
  • blend remaining apples
  • pour juice over top
  • bake 35 minutes