Friday, October 29, 2010

Easy All American Apple Pie

When I was a little girl, I did not like apple pie. I didn't even like fruit pies since they had large chunks of fruit in them. The same rule applied to things like chunky fruit yogurts, jello with fruit, etc. Although the latter two are still on my "No likey" list, I have come to appreciate fruit pie. I mean, was it really that hard for me to like these? Think of all the calories I could have saved before I discovered them! Well, I probably would have been eating chocolate silk pie or banana cream instead..

This recipe may look a little familiar...if you have ever googled "Apple Pie" it's like the first recipe to come up- but for good reason! It's very simple and delicious. I guess this could be considered "Dutch style" since it has the crumbles on top instead of another crust. In my opinion, this makes it extra delicious and extra easy. :) The other thing that makes this pie so easy is that the crust doesn't have to be rolled out- you just mix and press into the pan. I'm not saying it has the same flavor and texture as a gourmet crust, but hey- I didn't feel like making a real crust. The most time intensive part of this recipe is peeling and slicing the apples. To make the time go by faster, I watch Keeping up with the Kardashians while I do this- really makes time fly! I'd also recommend a peeler that leaves a texture behind so the apples don't slip in your hands- I'm a huge fan of the Piranha Peeler.

The bf loves this pie too. He loves everything that's cooked in the oven to be extra crispy, so if it were up to him he would probably cook 10+ minutes longer. Unfortunately for him, it's up to me! Such a good sport- he was able to down this no problem.

I topped with some homemade brown sugar vanilla bean ice cream- DELICIOUS! :)

Easy All American Apple Pie

  • 1 1/2 cups AP flour
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 TBSP cold milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 large apples, cored and sliced thin (I used a variety, but Fuji works too)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (white or brown)
  • 3 TBSP AP flour
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar (white or brown)
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
Preheat oven to 350. To make crust, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, oil, milk, 1 1/2 tsp sugar and salt until evenly blended in large bowl. Pat mixture into a 9 inch pie pan, spreading evenly over the bottom and up the sides. Crimp edges if you have enough dough left around the perimeter (I did not).

To make filling, mix together 3/4 cup sugar, 3 TBSP flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle over apples and toss to coat in large bowl. Spread evenly in unbaked pie shell.

To make topping, use a pastry cutter (I only had a fork-poor me...) to mix together 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar and COLD butter until evenly distributed and crumbly in texture. Sprinkle over apples.

Place pie in oven on a cookie sheet to catch the juices that may spill over. Bake 45 minutes -1 hour, or until top is golden brown.

Let cool and serve with Brown Sugar Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Cover and store in fridge. I did not let this cool when I first served it and there was A LOT of juice in the pie. The next day after being in the fridge, I didn't have this problem, so I would recommend waiting if you can!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Brown Sugar Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Mmmm.. When I made my MEGA double grocery store trip on Sunday, I got a few things to bake a delicious apple pie. Well, I haven't quite gotten around to that yet, but thinking in advance, I wanted to whip up the custard after I made these delicious pork chops with grilled pineapple salsa, since I just felt like it. The custard has to be refrigerated overnight, which is unfortunate when you want it NOW. It's totally worth it though and super easy!

I found this recipe on Mangio Da Sola, the first cooking/baking blog that I started reading. Her blog made me really get into baking again- its fabulous! I've made this recipe several times, but this was my first time using brown sugar instead of white. It was VERY delicious the way it was, but I was intrigued when I saw a recipe for brown sugar ice cream on Baked Bree. I decided to risk tinkering with my favorite ice cream recipe... and the results were delicious! When I asked the bf how he liked it after he was done, he was like "OH! You made that? I just thought you bought it." (Doesn't he know by now that I make my own ice cream?) "It was really good!" :)

What I love about this recipe is how rich and creamy the custard makes the ice cream. And the teeny tiny vanilla bean specks make it look SO GOOD! :) I've also made ice cream sandwiches with this and its perfect.

Brown Sugar Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 cup sugar (Brown or white)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
*If you don't have a vanilla bean, you can double the vanilla extract

Split your vanilla bean and place the seeds, empty bean and milk into medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat until ALMOST boiling.

Remove from heat and allow vanilla to infuse for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy in a large heatproof bowl. I did it by hand, but you could use a mixer if you want.

Slowly pour the milk mixture into the egg mixture, stirring until smooth. You can leave the vanilla bean in the mixture as long as you like- the longer you leave it the more flavor it will have. I took mine out right before I mixed in the cream and vanilla extract.

Place bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring until mixture is thick and coats the back of a wooden spoon (about 5-8 minutes).

Remove from heat, strain to remove the stray pieces and cover immediately with plastic wrap, placing directly on surface of custard to avoid a skin forming.

Place in fridge overnight until thoroughly chilled. Give it a quick mix. Stir in cream and vanilla extract right before pouring into ice cream machine.

I used a funnel to pour mine in- avoids the spillage that normally happens! Use according to manufacture's instructions (30 minutes for me).

Place in airtight container with lid and freeze several hours until firm.

Mmmmm enjoy all by itself or on top of your favorite dessert....

What's your go-to ice cream recipe?


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cleaning My Baking Cabinet

Somehow last Sunday after making two trips to the grocery store, several trips to and from the car (a la my personalized grocery getter) and 4 loads of laundry, I was inspired to clean out my baking cabinet (After reading Bree's post recently). I wasn't going to fight it! I was too embarrassed to take a before picture, but I promise- it REALLY needed it. I know that it still looks like a big mess, but its better than before! I really need to go to the container store and get a few of those lazy susans and big glass jars for my dry ingredients... soon!

If you remember, I mentioned my baking tool/ingredient hoarder tendencies here. Well, those tendencies were validated when I found multiple packages of the same things... Oops! :) Sometimes I can't remember if I have something or not when I'm at the store so I get it anyway....Hmmm That is so something my mother does! Aren't we cute?

After I took EVERYTHING out it looked like I was preparing to go into my nuclear shelter for 10 years.

And the cabinet looked relieved. Not for long...

I began to feel the exhaustion kick in as I started the next step- so bear with me. I attempted to group my ingredients into categories. Halfway through I decided I didn't want to do it anymore...hence I failed at some, but oh well! I'm sure you know what I meant and appreciate my effort- right? Right. Thanks!

Floury Things

Bread Flour, 2x-All Purpose Flour (One in bulk), White Whole Wheat Flour, Cake Flour, Cornstarch


Raw Sugar, White Sugar, No Calorie Sugar Substitute, 3x Powdered Sugar, 3x Light Brown Sugar, Dark Brown Sugar


2x Nestle Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips, Ghiradelli Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips, Milk Chocolate Chips, Peanut Butter Chips, Dark Chocolate Chips, Ghiradelli Cocoa Powder, Cocoa Powder from Max Brenner in NYC, Block of Callebaut Chocolate, 2x Packages of Bittersweet Chocolate Squares, Semi Sweet Chocolate Squares

Spices and things

Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Espresso Powder, Jar of Yeast (Kept in fridge), Yeast Packets, Sea Salt, Meringue Powder, Vanilla Beans, Jumbo Jar of Vanilla Extract, Regular Jar of Vanilla Extract, Mexican Vanilla Extract, Almond Extract, Peppermint Extract, Maple Extract, Poppyseeds, Cinnamon, Ground Ginger, Ground Nutmeg, Ground Cloves

Dairy Things
(Obviously not kept in my baking cabinet)

Cream Cheese, Heavy Whipping Cream, Whole Milk, Skim Milk, Butter, Shortening (No need to refrigerate), Sour Cream, Eggs

Decorating Stuff

Powdered Milk (Oops... forgot in previous group), Dino Sprinkles, Fall Sprinkles, muffin cups, Cooke cutters and 3x food coloring

Random Fun Ingredients

White Vinegar, Apple Cider Vinegar, Pure Maple Syrup, Vegetable Oil, Light Corn Syrup, Marshmallows, Marshmallow Cream, Pecans, Almonds, Apple Butter, Pumpkin Butter, Caramels, Condensed Milk, Evaporated Milk, 2x Canned Pumpkin (not pictured)

Man those cabinets are deceivingly deep! Phew! Maybe I don't need as many things as I thought... Just some more kitchen gadgets! I'll save that drawer for another day...

What is the must-have ingredient in your baking pantry?


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pork Chops with Grilled Pineapple Salsa

What I love about this dish is how fresh it tastes and how colorful it looks. I also love that it has only a few ingredients, yet packs so much flavor! I found this recipe in Cooking Light earlier this year, and I've made it twice. The bf thinks he doesn't like pork chops, but he likes this dish. The leftover pineapple salsa is yummy with chips or quesadillas too. This recipe is for a grill pan, but I don't have one (on my Christmas list!), so I used my Griddler.

Pork chops with Grilled Pineapple Salsa

  • 2 boneless pork chops
  • 2 TBSP & 2 tsp lime juice, divided (1 lime worked for me)
  • 4 pineapple rings, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced into thick pieces
  • 1 TBSP jalapeno, chopped (If you don't like it spicy, remove the seeds!)
  • 2-3 TBSP cilantro, chopped
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Cover pork chops with 2 TBSP lime juice and set aside for about 10 minutes.

Heat grill pan/griddle on medium heat, spray with non-stick cooking spray and cook pineapple and onions for 4 minutes on each side. As you can see, I sliced my onions too small, but it doesn't really matter.

Chop pineapple and onion into small pieces and place jalapeno, salt and remaining 2 tsp lime juice in a medium bowl. Add the cilantro right before you serve so it doesn't get wilted from the warm pineapple and onion.

Spray grill pan with non-stick cooking spray (I had 2 sides with my griddle, so I could cook the chops and other goodies at the same time). Season pork chops with salt and pepper and cook over medium heat for 4-6 minutes on each side (depending on how thick your pork chops are). Try only to flip once- it really seals in the juices!

Top pork chops with salsa and eat up! I served mine with homemade garlic mashed potatoes.

And the bf enjoyed his with a frosty mug of Stella. Aren't these mugs great? I found them at the dollar store! Shh... :)

And fresh strawberries and homemade whipped cream for dessert. Perfection. :)

Have a great week!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Amazing Pumpkin Spice Pancakes and Vacation Jars

Must. make. more. pumpkin. recipes. After posting about so many delicious recipes, I woke up Saturday morning thinking about these pumpkin pancakes from Pennies on a Platter. I normally prefer waffles, but the waffle iron I have does not know how to make good waffles. It's OK- I was able to suffer through eating these pancakes! :) They're delicious!!! So much better than I expected. The pumpkin flavor is not overpowering at all, and the cinnamon sugar really makes this dish! Please make these soon!

The bf said they were "good" and "nicely cooked"... and then informed me that he does not like pumpkin... WHAT?! He didn't tell me this until now, but he has not had a problem eating the pumpkin muffins or these pumpkin pancakes. Hmm.... I thought I might have needed to find someone else to come over and eat these when I used the leftover batter Sunday morning. But, surprise, surprise the bf gobbled them down again..hmmm all that pumpkin must be killing him!

I also wanted to share our vacation jars with you. I saw this idea at someone's house years ago and couldn't wait to start this tradition! While vacationing, I collect small souvenirs, ticket stubs, etc. in a bag and when I get back I arrange them in a jar to put on display. Tada! Decor AND special memories. It took me while to find the cheap canning jars I had envisioned, but I finally found them last week at the Container Store for around $5! I wish I had remembered this idea sooner, because I've already missed several trips. One of the best parts of making these jars is that you're always on the lookout for fun things to put in your jar and its so cheap compared to buying other souvenirs, since most of the things you put in are FREE. The bf gave me a big thumbs up!

Riviera Maya,Mexico- August 2010

London, England- October 2010.

This jar is just waiting to be filled. Any suggestions on where I should go to fill this baby up? :)

Amazing Pumpkin Spice Pancakes
  • 1 1/4 cups AP flour
  • 2 TBSP brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • dash of ground ginger
  • dash of ground cloves
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 TBSP melted butter (or vegetable oil)
Preheat oven to 200. Set aside baking sheet or oven-safe platter. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices in a large bowl and set aside. Make sure to squish any brown sugar chunks.

In a separate small bowl combine milk, pumpkin, egg and butter.

Slowly incorporate wet mixture into dry mixture. Mix until just combined. The batter may look lumpy- that's OK!

Heat a greased skillet/griddle over medium heat. Pour the patter onto the skillet in 1/3 cup increments. If you want a perfect pancake shape, use the back of a spoon or bottom of measuring cup to shape. As you can tell, I was way too hungry for this step! When bubbles start forming on the top, carefully flip over with spatula.

Let cook a few more minutes until golden brown. Transfer to baking sheet and keep warm in oven while you make all the pancakes, re-greasing pan as needed.

Serve with cinnamon sugar (I made my own) and maple syrup! Mmmmm

And then go back for seconds!

Hope you had a great weekend!
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