Archive | November, 2011

Apple Pancake Rings

23 Nov

A few weeks ago I was at a friend’s house meeting her stinkin’ cute little baby boy! We were chatting, laughing, and just plain old catchin’ up while I was snuggling the little one. The TV was on in the background, but neither one of us were paying much attention to it. That is, until I heard the word “pancake!” Immediately my ears perked up and my eyes were glued to the television. And then they mentioned “apple,” which is another one of my love childs (I eat one nearly every day!) Put the two together– apples and pancakes– and I suddenly have a new obsession!

They look like normal, ordinary pancakes, don’t they? And where are the apples I speak of?!?

There they are! In the middle! Coated in delicious pancake batter that is jazzed up with a little pumpkin pie spice and lemon zest!

I’m serious when I say obsession. Eat them three days in a row kind of obsession. And even made a special trip to the grocery store just for apples. Didn’t buy a single thing other than apples!

In the midst of this obsession, I tried the pancakes with three different kinds of apples! And Gala definitely won the contest! It’s a slightly softer apple. Which just seems like a better match to the fluffy pancakes.

 

Apple Pancake Rings (Featured on The Chew)

1 cup Bisquick baking mix

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Zest of 1/2 a lemon

2 medium apples, pared and cored

 

Beat baking mix, egg, and milk with rotary beater until smooth. Add pumpkin pie spice and lemon zest to batter and mix until incorporated.

Core and cut apples crosswise into 1/8″ slices.

Using a toothpick or knife, dip apple slices into the batter. Place on a greased griddle. Cook on medium-hot griddle until golden brown. Serve hot with syrup or cinnamon and sugar.

 

*I did also try making these using a just-add-water pancake mix and they were just as delicious. But I did still add in the pumpkin pie spice and lemon zest.

 

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Healthy Eats: Florida’s Natural Organic Nuggets

15 Nov

Every time I go to the cupboard for a snack I seem to grab carbs, carbs, and more carbs. Cheez-its, pretzels, wheat thins, chex mix, chips. I could go on forever, but you get the idea. Its easy to open the bag, grab a handful, and be on my way.

I’ve tried having grapes, carrots, and strawberries on the top shelf of my fridge. Purposefully positioning them front and center so I see them first when I open the fridge door. Doesn’t work for me. I open the fridge, stare at the healthy choices, close the door, and go straight to the cupboard. Epic fail!

So there is only one choice, gotta start stocking the cupboard with only healthy snack options! Away with all of the carb-loaded snack options!

These little guys have become a snack-staple! Gotta have a box of them in the cupboard at ALL times!

First of all, they are distributed by AU’SOME INC!! Love it!!

And the first ingredient actually is fruit! Granted it’s from concentrate, but none the less, it’s fruit!

And they have a couple of other things going for ’em…no preservatives or artificial sweeteners! I feel like everything these days is loaded with both of these. ICK! But this snack is au-naturale!

And the best part of all, only fifty calories!! A snack I don’t even have to feel guilty about eating! And only 4% of my daily carbs!

And they really are little nuggets! They weren’t lying! Tiny little pieces that are  soft, chewy, and bursting with flavor!

 

Honey Oat Granola Bars

10 Nov

Buh-bye Quaker! Hello home-made granola bars! Mmmm! So soft and chewy!

No more artificial preservatives or fake sweeteners for me! The real-thing is so much better!

And the combination options are endless! Next on the chopping block is craisins and white chocolate chips!

 

Honey Oat Granola Bars

4 cups quick cooking oats

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup chopped salted peanuts

1 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup sunflower kernels

3/4 cup butter, melted

2/3 cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

In a large bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, peanuts, chocolate chips and sunflower kernels. Stir in the butter, honey, and vanilla extract until well combined. Mixture will still be crumbly. Press into a greased-parchment paper lined 15x10x1 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Cool for fifteen minutes on a wire rack. Cut into squares. Allow to cool completely before removing from the pan.

I keep mine stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. The cold helps them keep their shape and from sticking together.

Coffeecake LOADED with streusel

6 Nov

I had THREE pieces in one day! Zach had two pieces. Which means the two of us ate nearly half of a 9×13 pan! I think that should be a pretty dang good indicator of how freaking delicious it is!

Not enough? Okay, how about the fact that I gave up having a bun with burger so that I could save my bread serving for coffeecake! And then decided it was legit to have a piece of coffeecake in replacement for both the top and bottom parts of the bun. Meaning my dinner consisted of a bun-less burger and two pieces of coffeecake! And I hereby vote this the best dinner of 2011!

And yes that is a little brown sugar layer in the middle! Pretty essential given the thickness of the coffeecake! Perfect way to break up the cakey-ness!

This morning was the first time that I have actually drank a cup of coffee with my coffeecake! Bitterness of the coffee. Sweetness of the cake. Makes for a perfect pair!

Literally ate a bite of cake, took a sip of coffee, and repeated (multiple times of course!)

Cinnamon Struesel Coffeecake

Streusel:

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tablespoon cinnamon

6 tablespoons butter, melted

Filling:

1 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon cocoa

Cake:

3/4 cup butter

1/3 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 eggs

 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 cup sour cream

1 1/4 cup milk

3 3/4 cup flour

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan.

Make the topping by whisking together the sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Add the melted butter, stirring till well combined. Set the topping aside.

Make the filling by mixing together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa powder. Set the filling aside.

To make the cake, in a large bowl, beat together the butter, sugars, baking powder, and vanilla until well combined and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time. Beating well after adding each egg.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the sour cream and milk till well combined. You don’t need to whisk out all the lumps.

Add the flour to the butter mixture alternately with the milk/sour cream mixture, beating gently to combine.

Spread half the batter (a scant 3 cups) into the prepared pan, spreading all the way to the edges. Sprinkle the filling on top of the batter. Spread the remaining batter atop the filling. Use a table knife to gently swirl the filling into the batter. Don’t combine filling and batter thoroughly; just swirl the filling through the batter. Sprinkle the topping over the batter in the pan.

Bake for 55-60 minutes. Make sure to test with a toothpick or cake tester. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes before serving. Serve warm with a little butter on top and a cup of hot coffee!

Source: King Arthur Flour

Christmas Baking in November

5 Nov

Men go hunting. And women start baking! It has become an annual tradition for my mom, sister, and I to bake massive amounts of Christmas cookies in November! Then we freeze them and hope there are at least a few left  by the time Christmas finally rolls around!

SEVEN bowls of cookie dough! Yes, we are insane! Usually we tackle three or four kinds of cookies in a day. But apparently this year we decided to whip out the big guns!

My mom, the master cookie maker! These six batches of cookies is just the beginning for this lady! Usually she ends up with about fifteen kinds! Her cookie platters are the ones we all dream of diving into!

And a little sneak peak of a few of the cookies!

Reese’s peanut butter cups wrapped in a peanut butter cookie! De-licious!

Mint chocolate chip cookies rolled in sugar!

Classic spritz cookies!

And the chocolate cookies with a peanut butter surprise (before they received their beautiful powdered sugar dusting!)

What a day! Who knew a full day of baking could be so exhausting! And it doesn’t help that I have about a pound of dough sitting in my tummy!

Role Switcheroo

4 Nov

Yesterday morning as I was eating breakfast and surfing the net I discovered it was National Men Make Dinner Day! wwhhhaaatttt! Didn’t know such a day even existed! But I was pumped! I immediately grabbed my phone and texted the hubby! And his response “I would love to make you dinner tonight! I will be home by 6:30!” yessss! I was off the hook again!

Then the guilt kicked in. I have the day off from work and at home doing nothing. He’s at work all day racking his brain. And then I expect him to make me dinner while I sit back and sip some wine. Something wrong with this picture.

So I set off to do him a little favor as well!

When we were looking at houses to buy we made a big list of things we would want our dream home to have. One of those things being a yard with mature trees. Can someone remind of why we wanted that? I’m not gonna lie, it sure is nice having the shade during the summer. But dang, there are A LOT of leaves on those trees!

And the look on his face when he walked in the door was priceless! Of course I strategically left the rake sitting out in the garage so he would see it and take a look in the backyard! I must say, he was very impressed! Score one point for the wife! (now it’s his task to suck ’em all up with the leaf eatin’ machine and haul them to the yard waste site!)

And now for National Men Make Dinner Day…..

Zach dinner choice took us a little trip back to Italy! A good ‘ol authentic Italian meal! Pasta with an olive oil, pesto, and parmesan sauce!

One of our last days in Italy our tour took us along the Amalfi Coast to beautiful Positano! At one of the rest stops along the way there was a little fresh fruit stand that also sold dry herb and seasoning packets! I walked away with a bag of juicy cherries and two herb packets! One of them being pesto!

Delicious! Bursting with basil flavor! And so easy! Just needed to add a little olive oil!

I think I could get used to him cooking dinner every night!

thee most amazing apple bars!

3 Nov

A couple of weeks ago Zach and I spent a Sunday afternoon visiting my grandma! And as usual, she insisted on making us dinner. Definitely not necessary, but something I will never turn down! Love my grandma’s cooking! Always a good ‘ol hearty comfort food meal!

And she never, ever forgets dessert! We both have the same bad habit of needing to end a meal with a little sugary goodness!

That Sunday afternoon she had a pan of these delicious apple bars for dessert. Unfortunately I had had a second helping of hotdish and was absolutely stuffed! Almost to the point of misery. And it killed me to have to say “no thank you” when she offered these bars. Three words that very rarely come out of my mouth at her house!

Thankfully she offered to send a few home with us! And of course I ate all four of them! One bar each day and suddenly the plate was empty. Weird how that always seems to happen!

Thick shortbread crust. Layer of soft apples. Topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar! How could not love them!

After finishing the fourth bar I dialed up my grandma and requested the recipe!

 

Apple Bars

Crust:

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

3 1/2 tablespoons margarine

1 cup sugar

1 egg, slightly beaten

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and sugar. Using a pastry cutter, cut the margarine into the flour mixture. Mix in the slightly beaten egg. Mixture will still be very crumbly. Press into a greased 9×13 cake pan.

Cut up five peeled apples into quarter-inch slices. Line the crust with a single layer of apples. 

Topping:

4 tablespoons margarine

2/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all three ingredients together until crumbly. Sprinkle over the top of the apples.

Bake at 350 degrees for forty minutes. Halfway through press the apples with the back of a tablespoon. Return to the oven for the remaining time.