Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Apple Pie Cookie Bars

Oh, dear reader, this is quite possibly my new favorite dessert.  I know, I have a lot of 'favorite' foods, but honestly.  I know I could eat the entire pan of these bars and be quite content with life.  I know this because I, in fact, just about did that.  When I made them for the first time I texted my neighbor to tell her I had a tasty treat to bring her and then never ended up taking her any.  They all found their way into my happy stomach (over the period of a few days, not all in one sitting).  I normally am a very generous person with my treats, but this one is special.  Short bread is amazing.  Very slightly salty short bread with a caramel apple pie filling and a cinnamony crumble topping? MAGICAL!  Go ahead - share the pan - I dare you.  Or not, just eat it.  I'm not here to tell you how to live your life. 
By the way: your house will smell incredible while this is baking. 

3/4 c. butter at room temperature
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt

3 1/2 Tbsp. butter
3 granny smith apples - peeled, cored, and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces, tossed in a squeeze of lemon juice to coat
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
dash salt

1/2 c. reserved short bread dough
1/4 c. + 1 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Line a 9X9" baking pan with parchment (I have skipped this and just sprayed the pan with cooking spray, worked just as well).
2.  Cream together the 3/4 c. butter and 1/2 c. sugar until smooth.  Add vanilla and egg yolk.  Mix well.  Add the 1 1/2 c. flour and 1/4 tsp. salt just until combined, do not overmix.  Reserve 1/2 c. of the dough for the crumble topping.  Press remaining dough into the prepared pan, press as flat as possible.  Bake 16-22 minutes until the edges are just starting to brown.  Remove pan from oven and set aside.
3.  Over low heat, melt butter in a medium saucepan.  In a medium bowl combine the brown sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. flour, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon 1/8 tsp. nutmeg and dash of salt.  Toss the apples in this mixture to coat.  Add all to melted butter in the pan.  Increase the heat to medium; stir 3 minutes until this mixture simmers.  Continue simmering an additional 4 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
4.  Add reserved dough back to the mixing bowl.  Add 1/4 c. + 1 Tbsp. flour, 1 Tbsp. brown sugar, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp. salt.  Mix until crumbs formed.
5.  Pour apples over the base crust, spread to the edges of the pan.  Sprinkle with the crumb topping.  Bake 32-27 minutes until the topping is a light-medium brown.  Cool completely before serving (if you can wait that long).

Salted Caramel Butter Bars

Salted Caramel is kind of the rage right now.  A rage that I whole heartedly embrace.  This recipe is not at all for the diet minded.  It uses and entire POUND of butter.  Whatever, I don't care.  I will eat it anyway.

4 sticks (1 lbs.) butter, at room temperature
1 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. vanilla
4 c. flour
14 oz. bag caramels, unwrapped
1/3 c. heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. coarse sea salt

1.  Preheat oven to 325.  Spray a 9X13" baking dish with cooking spray.
2.  In a large bowl combine the butter and sugars with an electric mixer.  Beat until creamy.  Add vanilla and beat until combined.  Sift the flour into the butter & beat until dough forms.
3.  Press half of the dough evenly onto the bottom of the prepared baking dish.  Refrigerate the other half of the dough.  Bake the bottom crust for 20 minutes until firm and the edges are a pale golden brown.  Remove from the oven and cool for 15 minutes.
4.  Place the caramels and the cream in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave on HIGH  for 1 minute.  Remove from microwave and stir.  If the caramels aren't melted, return to microwave and heat at 30 second intervals, stirring between each heating until caramels melt.
5.  Pour caramel over slightly cooled bottom crust.  Sprinkle with coarse salt.  Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the caramel.  Bake 25-30 until filling is bubbly and the crumble topping is lightly golden brown.  Cool completely before serving.

Turkey and Quinoa Meatloaf

I love meatloaf.  It is one of favorite comfort foods.  It's so basic and family pleasing and, for me, a quick go to when I run out of ideas for what to make for dinner.  Occasionally ground turkey is less expensive than beef and in a few dishes it is pretty interchangeable.  I happened to have the hankering for meatloaf, but no ground beef, instead there were a few pounds of ground turkey in the freezer.  I found this recipe and have to say it was quite successful.  My kids were not crazy about the sweet 'glaze' that is on top, but I likes how it make it almost teriyaki-like.  

1/4 c. quinoa - well rinsed
1/2 c. water
1 tsp. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
20 oz. ground turkey
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. hot pepper sauce
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 egg
1 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. water

1.  Bring quinoa and 1/2 water to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the water has been absorbed, 15-20.  Set aside to cool.
2.  Preheat oven to 350.  Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Cook onions until soft, about 5 minutes; add garlic and cook 1 minute more.  Remove from pan to cool.
3.  Stir the turkey, quinoa, onions, tomato paste, pepper sauce, 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce, egg and salt and pepper.
4.  Shape into a loaf and place on a foil lined baking sheet.  In a small bowl combine the brown sugar, 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce and 1 tsp. water.  Rub over the top of the meat.
5.  Bake about 50 minutes until no longer pink in the center, and an instant read thermometer registers 160.  Cool 10 minutes before serving.

Lasagna Soup

Fall food is some of my very favorite food around.  Comforting, warm, and filling.  This soup is so full of the classic goodness of lasagna, complete with ricotta and mozzarella cheeses.  Without all of the fuss of a classic lasagna.

8 oz small shaped pasta such as small shells, bowties, or elbows, cooked according to package directions, drained and set aside.
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lbs. Italian sausage, casing removed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
6 c. chicken broth
1 twenty-eight oz can fired roasted diced tomatoes
1 c. shredded zucchini
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1 c. shredded mozzarealla cheese
1/4 c. fresh basil chiffonade, optional, for garnish

8 oz. ricotta cheese
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese 
salt and pepper to taste

1.  In a small bowl combine the ricotta, parmesan and salt and pepper, set aside.
2.  Heat oil in a dutch oven or large soup pot over medium high heat.  Add the sausage, cook and crumble until no longer pink.  Drain off excess fat drippings.  Add the garlic, onions, oregano and pepper flakes.  Cook stirring frequently until onions are cooked.  Stir in the tomato paste for 1 minute until combined.  
3.  Stir in the stock, tomatoes zucchini, and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.  Stir in pasta.  Remove bay leaves.  Serve immediately with a heaping spoonful of the ricotta mixture.  Sprinkle with mozzarella and basil.

Dutch Apple Cake with Caramel Glaze

It is fall.  Fall means wonderful things like apples at their peak of deliciousness.  Fall means things like warm desserts that are taken from the oven and smothered with something buttery, caramely, delicious.  Fall means I'd better step up my work out if I plan to eat things as gooey and sweet and satisfying as this.  And I will be eating things just like this, many, many times this Fall.

7 small to medium baking apples, such as granny smith, peeled, cored, and cut into 16 slices each (I used 3 medium and 4 large and I think it was too many)
3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
3 eggs
1 1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. chopped pecans

6 Tbsp. butter
1/3 c. dark brown sugar
1/3 c. light brown sugar
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream

1.  Preheat oven to 325.  Butter and flour a 9X13" baking dish.
2.  In a medium bowl stir together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt.  In a large bowl combine the eggs, sugars, oil and vanilla.
3.  Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet.  Fold in the apples and the pecans just until coated (the batter will be very thick).
4.  Spread batter into prepared baking pan.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
5.  While cake is cooling prepared the caramel glaze:  Over medium heat melt the butter in a medium saucepan.  Stir in the sugars, cream and a pinch of salt.  Lower the heat to medium-low; cook and stir until blended for about 2 minutes.  Increase the heat back to medium and boil the caramel 2 more minutes stirring constantly.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.  Drizzle over cake.

Caramel Stuffed Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookies

The U.S. is an amazing place.  A place where people love big food.  What is the perfect way to make chocolate chip cookies even bigger?  Use a huge mound of cookie dough, stuff it with a caramel and bake it in a muffin tin.  What to you get?  These amazing deep dish cookies.  
The original recipe uses a specific chocolate chip cookie dough recipe, I used my regular cookie dough recipe because I know it's good.  It's the recipe on the back of the Nestle Chocolate Chips bag.  I frequently will make a batch of dough, bake only half of the dough into cookies and freeze the rest for another day or to use in a recipe that calls for chocolate chip cookie dough.  

1 recipe chocolate chip cookie dough (what you don't use in this recipe can be frozen.  The FDA advises that you NOT eat raw cookie dough, but this is a judgement free zone.)
20 caramels, unwrapped.

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  scoop 1 1/2 Tbsp. cookie dough, press in to the bottom of an ungreased muffin tin, press 1 caramel into the dough, but not all the way to the bottom.  Cover the caramel with an additional 1 Tbsp. cookie dough.
2.  Bake for 18-20 minutes.  Do not overbake.  Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before eating.

Beef Tri-Tip with Three Onion Marmalade

Tri-Tip is a an amazing cut of meat.  It's not a super expensive cut, but it is easy to work with.  It has a good texture, not too fatty, not too dry.  It takes really well to rubs and marinades.  The first time my family had this recipe I couldn't stop talking about how delicious it was, my kids said I was acting like I was kissing someone.  I guess I was really appreciating it's flavors at the dinner table.  The meat ends up with a nice spice and the onions with the acid from the vinegar add a nice acid flavor.  So, so, so good!

1 1/2 lbs trimmed tri-tip roast
1/4 c. ancho steak seasoning (this seemed quite salty for my family, I would cut down to 3 or 3 1/2 Tbsp.)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large, thinly sliced red onion
1 large, thinly slice yellow onion
2 bunches green onions, thinly sliced
3/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Prepare the onion marmalade:  Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add the red and yellow onions; cook and stir about 5 minutes then add the green onions.  Cook and stir an additional 3 -5 minutes, until tender and beginning to brown.  Reduce heat to low; cook 12 minutes or until onions are caramelized, stirring occasionally.  (This is a good point to start preheating your grill.)  Increase eat to medium-high, stir in vinegar, cook 4 minutes or until reduced by half.  Stir in the sugar; season with salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to low; cook 5 minutes or until liquid has evaporated and mixture thickens.  Remove from heat and keep warm.
2.  Generously season the meat with the seasoning rubbing it well in to all sides of the roast.  Place meat on grill over medium ash covered coals (I am not a great griller so I can't give any better instructions than what I found in the original recipe) or use medium heat on a gas grill.  Place skinny end of meat over a lower heat level as it will cook much quicker than the thick end.  Grill for 25-350 minutes, flipping the meat occasionally to prevent over cooking, until instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the roast registers 140 for medium-rare.  Remove from heat an let stand 10 minutes (meat will continue to cook, increasing around 5-10 degrees in temperature).
3.  After the meat has rested, slice across the grain and serve with the onions.
4.  Make kissing noises as you eat.

Ancho Steak Seasoning

This is a great seasoning for beef, chicken, or pork.  It can be a little bit spicy so if you have family or friends who, like my children, are sensitive to heat, use the seasoning sparingly.  

1/4 c. kosher salt
3 Tbsp. ground ancho chili powder
2 Tbsp. ground cumin
2 Tbsp dried granulate garlic
2 Tbsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. white sugar
1 Tbsp. ground thyme

Mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container.

Peanut Butter Cookies - by Caroline

My grandma Reed was an amazing cook.  She worked in the school cafeteria and was really good at what she did.  Her home was always full of wonderful smells and the kitchen was sure to have a treat for her grand-kids, she is the reason I love to cook.  I have great memories of my Grandma Reed's peanut butter cookies, they were soft and chewy, crunchy on the outside and full of peanut butter goodness.  Unfortunately she didn't ever leave a recipe behind so they have been lost to me.  This recipe comes so close it is near perfection.  I do enjoy the addition of the chocolate chips, something my grandma didn't do (because peanut butter + chocolate = nirvana).  My friend Caroline gave me this recipe.  It is based off the cookie recipe from Magnolia Bakery in New York City.

1 1/4 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. peanut butter (I do 3/4 smooth and 1/4 crunchy for a little texture, or you can use all of one or the other)
3/4 c. .sugar
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. peanut butter chips
1/2 c. chocolate chips
sugar for sprinkling (regular or super fine, I use turbinado because I like how coarse it is, my husband said it was awesome-crunch-magic)

1.  Preheat oven to 350.  In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
2.  In a separate large bowl, beat the butter and peanut butter until fluffy.  Add sugars until well combined.  Add the egg, milk and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients; mix well but not too much.  Stir in the peanut butter and chocolate chips.
3.  Scoop the dough into rounded teaspoons.  Lightly roll the dough balls in the sprinkling sugar, place dough on ungreased cookie sheets with a minimum 2" space between balls.  Use the back of a fork to lightly indent the dough into a criss-cross pattern.
4.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  They may appear underdone - DO NOT OVERBAKE.  Cool on rack for 1 minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.