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Appletastic Tarte Tatin

Tart TatinThis is a great way to “wow” your family and friends!  It tastes even MORE delish than it looks!  The contrasting sweetness from the carmelization versus the tart of the orange zest, just bring all your taste-buds alive!

 

 

INGREDIENTS:

Crust

1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces

1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp salt

the zest of one medium orange

1 egg yolk

2-4 tbsp iced water

Filling

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup fresh apple cider

the juice of 1/2 an orange

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup butter, cut into 16 slices

6 baking apples peeled, cored and thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS:

1.  To make the crust, combine the butter, flour, sugar, salt and orange zest in a food processor.  Pulse until pea-sized.  Add egg yolk and pulse a couple times.  Add chilled water one tablespoon at a time, pulsing a few times between.  Once the dough comes together in a ball, stop pulsing and do not add anymore water.

2.  Dump dough onto a floured work area.  Knead the dough just enough to make a smooth ball, 2-4 times.  Roll dough out to 11-12 inches in diameter.  Gently place dough onto a cookie sheet lined with plastic wrap.  Cover with additional plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

3.  In a 10-inch non-stick ovenproof pan over medium heat, combine the filling ingredients, sugar, apple cider, orange juice, and vanilla extract.  Increase heat to high and bring mixture to boil, occasionally scraping down the sides of the pan.  Once the mixture turns light brown, after 6-7 minutes of gentle stirring, it will take just another minute or two until it turns deep amber in color.

4.  Remove from heat.  Stir in butter 2-3 slices at a time.  Be cautious, as it will bubble and try to splatter.  Once all the butter is incorporated, fan the apple slices in a neat layered circle (like fanning a deck of cards), leaving a few for the center.

6.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

7.  Over medium heat, cook the apple mixture for 20 minutes, being careful not to disturb the apples.  Remove from heat.

8.  Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator.  Remove plastic wrap and, draping over rolling pin, gently drape dough over apple mixture.  Tuck edges of pastry into the pan, creating a crust.

9. Place in preheated oven, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

10.  Remove from heat and cool for 10-15 minutes.  Place a plate face-down over the pan and gently, but quickly flip both over.  Slice and serve!

* Mix a small container of mascarpone cheese and 1/4 cup confectioners sugar together.  Garnish individual slices with a heaping teaspoon.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Chocolate Crust

Yummmmmmm!!!

Cheesecake uninterrupted!

Cheesecake uninterrupted!

While attempting to duplicate the pumpkin cheesecake I devoured last year at one of our local eateries, I came up with this fantastically delish recipe!  “Melts in your mouth” may seem cliché, but it is beyond right at this juncture!  Wow family and friends with this one and it will be in demand for years to come!  Get ready for a big foodgasm with the first glorious bite!

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted (divided use)
  • 2 1/2 cups chocolate cookies (I used chocolate animal crackers)
  • 2 3/4 cups granulated sugar (divided use)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus
  • 1 pinch salt (divided use)
  • 2 lbs cream cheese, room temperature (4 boxes)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin purée
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 cups sweetened whipped cream (optional)
  • 1/3 cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped (optional)

Directions:

  1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  2. Brush a 10 inch springform pan with some of the butter;stir remaining butter into graham cracker crumbs with 1/4 cup sugar and pinch salt.
  3. Press mixture into bottom and up sides of pan , packing it tightly and evenly. (use a cup with a flat bottom)
  4. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Cool on rack, then wrap outside of springform pan with heavy-duty foil and place in a roasting pan.
  6. Bring a medium pot of water to boil.
  7. Meanwhile beat cream cheese with a mixer until smooth; add remaining 2 1/2 cups sugar and beat until just light, scraping down sides of bowl and beaters as needed.
  8. Beat in the sour cream and pumpkin. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla, 1 teaspoon salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves and beat until just blended; pour into cooled crust.
  9. Without pulling rack out, gently place roasting pan in oven and pour boiling water into roasting pan until it comes about halfway up side of springform pan.
  10. Bake until outside of cheesecake sets but center is still loose, about 1 hour and 45 minutes.
  11. Turn off oven and open door briefly to let out some heat.
  12. Leave cheesecake in oven for 1 more hour, then carefully remove from roasting pan and cool on a rack.
  13. Run a knife around edges of springform pan, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  14. Bring cheesecake to room temperature 30 minutes before serving. (optional)
  15. Unlock and remove springform ring.
  16. To finish, place a dollop of whipped cream on each slice and sprinkle with toasted pecans.

Magically Moist Zucchini Muffins

These muffins stay moist for DAYS!!  The zucchini flavor says “hello” without tipping the kids off that you snuck a veggie in there!  Dressed to impress, the rise is perfection every time!

2 wicker baskets full of muffins sit on a blue...

 

 

 

Ingredients:

3 cups grated, squeezed fresh zucchini

2/3 cup vegetable or canola oil

1 1/3 cups granulated sugar

2 eggs, beaten

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

a pinch of salt

3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour

1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a large bowl combine sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla.  Stir in the zucchini.  In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.  Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients 1/3 at a time, until blended.

Coat muffin tins with non-stick spray.  Scoop equal amounts of batter into each tin, being sure to fill to the top.  Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and muffin springs back when touched.  Remove from oven and place on cooling rack for 5 minutes.  Remove muffins from tin and cool an additional 20 minutes.

Makes 12-14 large muffins.

 

Quick Tip #5.7

English: Sieve, Flour Sifter Русский: Сито мех...

 

Cake Flour:

Ever been looking for a new recipe, only to discover you’re missing one of the key ingredients?  Enter cake flour!  I hardly ever keep cake flour in the cupboard.  There is an easy substitute for cake flour!  Measure out the all-purpose flour equal to the amount required for the recipe.  For every cup of flour, remove 2 tablespoons and replace with 2 tablespoons of corn starch.  This is easily divisible by four, if needed.  For every quarter cup, remove and replace with 1/2 a tablespoon.  Finally, sift the mixture three to four times, ensuring the corn starch is equally dispersed and the flour is light and fluffy.  A simpler way is to whisk the two ingredients together for about five minutes, or until desired consistency and voila!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Clouds

Triple C CloudI’ve searched high and far for a chocolate chip cookie that beats all others.   This one has everything I love about a good cookie.  It’s cakey and airy, it melts in your mouth without crumbling in your hands, and it is sweet but not too sweet.  One cookie is all you’ll need to feel satisfied…oh, and don’t forget that glass of milk!!!

Ingredients:

3 3/4 cups cake flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 sticks room temperature unsalted butter

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated white sugar

2 large room temperature eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 bag (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup pecan pieces or rough chopped pecans (optional)

Directions:

Row Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough covered with plastic wrap

Sift together flour, cornstarch, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl.  In a large bowl, cream together butter and both sugars.  Add eggs one at a time, blending well after each one.   Add vanilla and blend.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients a cup at a time, mixing until just blended each time, until all the dry ingredients are incorporated.  Fold in chocolate chips.  The pecans may also be added at this point.  Cover the dough directly with plastic wrap by pressing it down directly on the dough.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Scoop about 2 inches of dough for each cookie, shaping into a rough ball, and place 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet.  Bake for ten minutes, rotate cookie sheet, bake an additional thirteen minutes and remove to cool.  Once cooled for 10 minutes, transfer to cooling rack.

Serve with ice-cold milk and enjoy!!!

Missing in action!

Just wanted my followers to know I’m still blogging. We recently moved and today I had a medical procedure. Next week I’ll be back in the saddle again with a new recipe and quick tip. Be on the lookout and have an awesome weekend!!

Posted from WordPress for Windows Phone

Cavendish bananas are the main commercial bana...

Do you find that your Bananas ripen too quickly and you end up throwing some away?   Don’t waste another banana ever again!!!  When you arrive home with your bunch of bananas, UNbunch them!!  YES!!  Separate the bananas and they will not ripen as quickly as when they are still bunched.  Now, I know some of you might be saying…”didn’t she talk about bananas before???”.  I was talking about what to do WITH those overly ripe bananas!  So, now you have front-end and back-end tips for using up all those bananas!!  Enjoy!!

Humming for Hummus!!

So, if you made the Chicken Souvlaki, this will go well right along with it!  Yes, I was guilty of buying the pre-made stuff.  Once I found out how easy it is to make, it’s the only way!!!  Hummus goes well with multitude of dipping tools; however, it is also served as in a pita like a gyro.  We usually dip warmed pita or flat bread and cucumbers.  If you really want to wow your family and friends, serve it with roasted or grilled zucchini, summer squash, red peppers…whatever comes to mind.  It’s also good with celery, tomatoes, broccoli…I could go on and on, but you get the idea.  You can also convert this to a roasted red pepper hummus, simply by adding some roasted red peppers.  The same goes for garlic!Hummus with pita and veggies

Basic Garbanzo (chickpea) Hummus

2 cans Garbanzo (chickpeas) beans, drained and rinsed

3-5 cloves of garlic, peeled (to your personal taste)

1 heaping tablespoon Tahini (sesame paste)

1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley (2 tbsp dried parsley)

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp granulated garlic (optional)

1/4-3/4 cup cool water

Hummus with Pita & VeggiesDirections:

In a food processor, pulse Garbanzo beans, garlic, salt and pepper (granulated garlic).  Once the ingredients look like small grains, add tahini, parsley and lemon juice.  Pulse a few more times.  Turn processor on and slowly drizzle extra virgin olive oil.  After addition of olive oil, slowly pour in water.  The amount of water used will vary depending on the consistency preferred.  I usually add enough to make the hummus almost fluffy in appearance.  The hummus should rotate easily in the food processor.  Allow hummus to mix for at least 2-3 minutes, scraping the sides once or twice to get all the chunks in the mix.  Taste and adjust flavor with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to your personal preference.  Hummus is best served fresh and at room temperature.

Do you make a different version of hummus you’d like to share?  Comment below!!

 

Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki Sauce

I’ve really fallen in love with Mediterranean food over the years.  The flavors just jump out at you and say “HI!!!”!!  So, here is one of my favorite go-to meals!!  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!Mediterranean Pleasure

 

Chicken Souvlaki

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

3/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing

3 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp dried oregano

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp granulated garlic

1/2 tsp paprika

Tzatziki Sauce 

1 cucumber, seeded and grated

1 tsp sea salt

1 1/4 cups greek yogurt

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tsp olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

1/2 tbsp dried dill (or 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped)

1 tsp Mediterranean seasoning

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Additional Ingredients for Assembly

4 large rounds of pita bread or flat bread

2 tbsp olive oil

1 heart of romaine lettuce, cut sandwich thin

1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped

1 tomato, halved and sliced

1 container (4 oz.) crumbled feta cheese

 

Directions:

In a gallon sealeable plastic bag, , put in all the ingredients for the chicken…then, add the chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for at least two hours.  I usually do this the evening prior or the morning of, for better flavor.

Remove chicken from refrigerator to rest on the counter for twenty minutes.  In a small, place the grated cucumber and salt.  Allow to rest for at least ten minutes, drawing out the moisture.  In the meantime, in a medium bowl mix together the remaining sauce ingredients.  Squeeze the remaining moisture from the cucumbers and place in the  sauce.  Gently mix sauce and cucumbers together.  In a large non-stick pan over medium to medium-high heat, place 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Add marinated chicken breasts, being sure to shake off excess marinade.  Cook 8-10 minutes per side, depending on thickness.  In another non-stick pan, warm 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-low heat.  Place pita/flat bread one piece at a time, warming and slightly browning each side.  Each piece should take about two minutes.  Remove chicken to cutting board to rest for ten minutes.  Thinly slice on the bias.

To assemble, place bread on plate.  Add chicken in a straight line, down the center.  On top of the chicken, add lettuce, onion, tomato and feta cheese.  Top with Tzatiki sauce, fold and eat!!!

candles

Now I know this really isn’t a food tip, but it is a useful one for sure!  Have a really nice candle holder/jar you would like to recycle, but the new candle is a different color and scent from the old one?  Place the candle holder/jar in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove and rest for 1 minute.  After the minute has passed, the wax should easily pop out of the holder/jar.  Insert new candle but do not light until the holder/jar returns to room temperature, as it might crack or break.  Now if you’re REALLY thrifty, save up the leftover wax and re-melt later using a candle-making kit.  It’s really simple and cost-effective! 

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