Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Apple Butter Cookies

When we visited the apple orchard a couple of weeks ago, we bought a jar of Apple Butter.
When we got home, we opened it up and to my surprise, there is no butter in apple butter. Who knew? The kids didn't want it, and I didn't know what to do with it.

Also a couple of weeks ago, I decided to join the Cookie Carnival. Just for fun. And September's cookie recipe happened to be....

Apple Butter Cookies.

How fortuitous!

I wasn't sure what to expect out of these, but they turned out great. A very tasty fall treat. This recipe is a very cakey cookie, but the cookie and filling make a great combination.


cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
cup light brown sugar, packed
TB molasses
cup sour cream
½ cup apple butter
2 large egg yolks
large egg
cups pastry flour**
cup whole wheat flour
teaspoon cinnamon
teaspoon nutmeg
teaspoon baking powder
teaspoon baking soda
teaspoon fine salt

1/2 cup apple butter for the filling

**You can substitute 1 cup pastry flour with 2 TB corn starch and 7/8 cup all-purpose flour. I just put the corn starch in the bottom of my 1 cup measuring cup and then fill it up with flour.**

1. Beat butter, sugar and brown sugar together until smooth.
2. Stir in molasses, sour cream and ½ cup apple butter.
3. Stir in yolks and eggs.
4. Whisk dry ingredients together in a small bowl. Gently stir into butter mixture.
5. Spoon or pipe batter by tablespoonfuls onto cookie sheet (line it with parchment paper), leaving 1 ½-inches between them. Spoon a teaspoonful of remaining apple butter into center of each cookie. Pipe more batter on top.
6. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes at 325 degrees, until cookies lift easily from tray.

Adapted from The Food Network

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

I know I've linked to these cupcakes over at Annie's Eats two...maybe three times. Now that I've made them several times, a little differently each time, I've decided on my favorite.

The raspberry buttercream frosting is very pretty, and very tasty, even though I don't care for buttercream frosting. But the chocolate raspberry ganache frosting absolutely wins for me.
9 TB unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
8 TB unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.

In a small bowl sift together the cocoa powder, flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. In a mixer (with paddle attachment), cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Mix in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions.

Combine the water and milk. Add half of the dry ingredients to the mixer and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Stir in the milk mixture. Add in the remaining dry ingredients, again mixing just until incorporated. Fill the cupcake liners about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

*I usually half this recipe and make 2 dozen mini-cupcakes. Bake the mini cupcakes for 8-10 minutes.*

Chocolate Ganache (filling and frosting):

15 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
1 cup heavy cream

Place chocolate and jam in a glass bowl.

Heat the cream in a small saucepan to boiling, then pour over chocolate/jam mixture.

Let it sit for about 3 minutes, then stir until smooth.

If ganache is still lumpy, pop it in the microwave for 15 seconds and give it another stir. Continue to heat and stir until the ganache is nice and smooth.

To fill the cupcakes:
Cut a small cone out of the top of each cupcake, and cut off the tip of the cone. Fill the cupcake with chocolate/raspberry ganache, then replace the top.

To frost the cupcakes:
Refrigerate the ganache for about 30 minutes. Place it in a piping bag and pipe onto the cupcakes.

Raspberry truffles:
Rinse the raspberries and allow to dry. Pipe a small amount of chocolate/raspberry ganache into the raspberry. Refrigerate about 30 minutes. Place raspberry truffles on cupcakes.

Adapted from Annie's Eats:

Double Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Grandma!

We celebrated Grandma's birthday last week...

Boo helped get the cupcakes ready, lit the candles...

...and helped blow them out.
Grandma asked for the chocolate raspberry could I say no?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Apples and Raspberries

We've had company for the last 10 days, and have been having a great time.

We took a trip out to the orchard one morning for some raspberries and apples. It was a gorgeous day to be out in the orchard.

We didn't get many raspberries, but Kitty learned how to pick some herself.
We decided to pick Fuji apples, and Kitty was a big fan.
Kitty with grandma, grandpa and great-grandma.
Before we knew it we had picked 2 1/2 pecks.

I think I better make some more apple cake.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Raspberry Sparkler

I'm not big drinker of anything but water.

An occasional lemonade in the summer.

A really good root beer on the Fourth.

A Mountain Dew when I've got a migraine.

But some people in my house live for the holidays when there is sparkling juice in abundance. (And egg nog, but that's another post.)

But the other week, we figured out how to make our very own sparkling juice.

Sparkling Juice

2 liter bottle of sparkling WATER (It's with the bottled water in the grocery store, and it only costs about seventy-five cents. And when you are driving home from the grocery store, don't let it roll under your seat because it just might puncture and then you'll have a mess on your hands).

1 can of frozen 100% juice concentrate (don't let me catch you buying juice cocktail).

Mix them up and you've got a tasty drink.

In the picture above, I used raspberry-white grape juice and popped a few frozen raspberries in the glasses before I poured the drink.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Apple Cinnamon Cake

I love symbolic food and traditional food. I failed in my Passover meal this spring, but a few weeks ago with Rosh Hoshana coming up, I started looking for a good dish.

I came across a post from Judicial Peach for apple cinnamon cake. He explained apples and honey are traditionally eaten to celebrate the Jewish new year, to ensure that the coming year is good and sweet. I'm fairly picky when it comes to how I eat my apples, and I'm a little suspicious of any cake that does not contain a large amount of chocolate. But I couldn't pass this one up.

Holy apple cake, Batman.

I know I rave about desserts a lot, but this cake was phenomenal. The texture of the cake was a dream, and the crunchy cinnamon sugar top was fabulous.

And if I can make a vanilla ice cream recommendation.

Breyer's Natural Homemade Vanilla. J has tried them all and this is the only vanilla ice cream allowed in the house. I used to think he was silly, being so picky about vanilla ice cream. But I have come to see it his way.

BTW, I cannot wait to celebrate Diwali.

Apple Cinnamon Cake


For the cake -
1 1/2 c. sugar
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 c. chopped apples

For the topping -
1/4 c. sugar
3 tsp. cinnamon

Beat sugar, cream cheese, butter and vanilla on medium speed until well blended.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until incorporated.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

Add dry ingredients 1/2 cup at a time to the sugar mixture.

Combine sugar and cinnamon for the topping.

Add 2 TB of the cinnamon sugar mixture to the apples and mix until the apples are coated.

Fold the apples into the cake batter.

Pour batter into a greased pan (I used a deep 9 inch Pyrex bowl, the original recipe recommends a springform pan). Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the top.

Bake in a 350 degree (preheated) oven for 1 hour.

Cool the cake completely in the pan, then enjoy!

Adapted from Judicial Peach.

Monday, September 13, 2010

It's a new look for me...

How do you like the new look? J made the banner for me.

If you haven't read this book,

read it.

It's a hoot.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Kettle Corn

We don't buy microwave butter popcorn.

But we have spent a small fortune on microwave kettle corn. And kettle corn from the fair.

Last week I went looking for a kettle corn recipe. And was pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to make.

Maybe a little too easy. We've made it every day for a week.

Here's what you need:
Large pot with a tight fitting lid - I use a five quart pot
1/4 cup oil - I use canola, although I've read lots of recommendations for peanut oil
1/3 cup sugar - I use slightly less than 1/3 cup and it's plenty sweet. I do half brown/half white sugar.
1/2 cup corn kernals
3/4 tsp kosher salt - Or 1/2 tsp if you're not a salt maniac like me.

Heat the oil in the pot over high heat until shimmery.

Put three kernals in and wait for them to pop.

Turn the heat down to medium, add sugar and kernals, stir it all up and put the lid on.

Turn the heat up to medium-high, and give the pot a good shake.

Return the pot to the heat and give it a couple shakes every 3-4 seconds until all the corn is popped (about 3 minutes).

Immediately dump the popped corn into a large bowl. Sprinkle the salt over the popped corn, give it a good stir, and it's ready to go!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Some like her in the pot

Kitty is a kick.

She is addicted to climbing. She's very aware of when my attention is otherwise occupied and makes a run for the desk or the table.

If I'm distracted for long enough and a door has been left open, she's happily splashing in the toilet.

She has gappy front teeth, molars, and no other teeth.

She likes to crawl into small spaces.

She's either hyperlexic or just lucky.
She really did do this herself.

She is the clumsiest child I have ever met. If a piece of furniture is in the same room as she is, she will bump her head on it on her way to climbing up it after which she will fall off of it.

And she has discovered a new love: coloring.
She carefully selected her crayons and made her scribbles.

And fell off the chair twice.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Blackberry Tart

J keeps talking me into these non-chocolate desserts.

This weekend we tried a blackberry tart.

J and my brother-in-law loved it. For me, it was just okay. I liked the crust. The blackberries were great. I'm a huge fan of mascarpone cheese, but it had too much of a honey taste for me.

The crust actually caused me some problems, but I think it worked out for the best in the end. I don't have a tart pan, so I used a glass pie dish - this may be what caused the trouble.

So I baked the crust with the pie weights (designated pinto beans), but when I took the pie weights out, the crust slumped down the sides until it was just a big crust puddle on the bottom. I ended up just squishing it down to make an extra thick bottom crust and then baked it for about 7 minutes longer. It ended up with a great taste and perfect crunch and I didn't miss the side crust. All's well that ends well.

It is a great summer dessert, so give it a try if you like honey and blackberries.

Blackberry Tart with Honey Mascarpone Filling

For the crust:
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp. very cold water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

For the filling:
2/3 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup honey
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch ground nutmeg

For the topping:
Fresh blackberries

To make the crust:

Stir together the egg yolk, water and vanilla and set aside. Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter and beat on medium-low speed (with paddle attachment) until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the egg mixture and beat on low speed just until the dough comes together. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, lifting and turning the dough occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the work surface. It should be large enough to line a 9-inch tart pan and about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer the dough to the tart pan (or pie pan), press it into the sides, and trim to remove the excess.

Cover the dough with foil and fill with pie weights (dried pinto beans). Bake for 5 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Remove the foil and pie weights and gently poke holes in the bottom and sides of the crust with a fork. Bake until the crust is golden, 15-20 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

To make the filling, mix the mascarpone, sour cream, and honey and beat until smooth. Mix in the vanilla extract and nutmeg.

Spread the filling into the cooled tart shell and smooth the top with a spatula. Top with fresh blackberries. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


*From Annie's Eats*

Friday, September 3, 2010

Grilled Potato Fries

I found a new food blog...Judicial Peach. Maybe I just like it because it's written by a young attorney.

I had BBQ chicken slated for dinner and adapted this recipe for Grilled Potato Fries. They were spic-ay. I loved them, but J says they were just a tad too spicy. I used white potatoes only this time around, but can't wait to try them with sweet potatoes.

Grilled Potato Fries

7 Idaho potatoes
1/4 cup canola oil (a tad less than 1/4 cup)
2 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder

Scrub the potatoes. Cut them in half lengthwise, then lay them flat and cut lengthwise at 1/2" intervals. In a large mixing bowl, toss the potato wedges, oil and spices.

Grill on medium-high for about 10 minutes per side.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fish and Chips

Sara brought her Complete America Test Kitchen Cookbook when she came to visit.

We made a lot of great food from this cookbook. The chocolate chip cookies were the best I've ever had.

On Sara's last day we decided to do the Fish and Chips (also the day we decided to do the Oreo cupcakes and Lemon Curd was a good day).

Well, now I can't find my copied recipe for Fish and Chips, and the link to ATC is for premium members only, so it looks like you will have to buy the book for this one. But let me say that even though it took 3 quarts of oil, it was worth it! We didn't have any beer, so we substituted ginger ale for the beer in the batter, and it was still awesome.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

I just finished The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

One of the most interesting books I have ever read.

Henrietta Lacks was the daughter of sharecroppers in Virginia and eventually moved to Baltimore with her husband. In 1951 she was 31 years old, with four small children. She went to Johns Hopkins and was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She died a few months later.
During the course of her treatment at Johns Hopkins, a sample of her cells was taken for a research study. At the time, scientists had never been able to keep cells alive. But Henrietta's cells lived, and grew. And paved the way for remarkable breakthroughs in the medical field, including the polio vaccine.
This is a story about Henrietta, her life, the lives of her children, and the incredible life of her cells and the part that biomedical ethics has played out in this situation.

Colbert's interview with author Rebecca Skloot:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Rebecca Skloot
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News