Applesauce Oatmeal Sweet Cake

Another of my luscious morning breads and cakes. ‘

This one marries two great tastes, apples and oatmeal into a spicy delight.

The author of this recipe is Jean Wilkinson from JustaPinch.

I cut the spices some to allow the apple to be more prominent and added some fresh apple to give it more crunch and taste as well.

This can be served as is for breakfast or add a broiled coconut topping for a simple dinner dessert.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 c applesauce, unsweetened
  • 1 c dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/3 c butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 2 c flour
  • 1 1/3 c quick cooking oatmeal
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 2/3 c walnut pieces

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and grease a large square pan at least 2 inches deep. (I use shortening-butter has water in it and causes sticking)
  2. Place butter, sugars, egg, applesauce, vanilla and spices in a bowl and beat until creamy. This will be quite loose.
  3. Mix the oats, flour and baking soda in a bowl and whisk to distribute the baking soda.
  4. Add to the wet and mix on low until mixed well. Remove the bowl from your mixer.
  5. By hand, add the nuts and apple, and just stir until nicely mixed. Mixture is very thick.
  6. Scoop into the pan, and bake for about 30-35 minutes until a pick comes out clean.
  7. Either eat as is or frost with the Broiled Coconut Topping.

Serves: 8

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Broiled Coconut Frosting

This is a wonderful cake topping, and very easy to make. It works perfectly on a sheet cake of any size.

It can turn a simple breakfast bread/cake into a dinner dessert in minutes.

I think you can also boil this up in a sauce pan and let it cool and then spread it.

It would be similar to the frosting for a German Chocolate cake.

So enjoy. It’s versatile enough to use on many different cake bases.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/3 c melted butter
  • 1/2 brown sugar
  • 3/4 c sweetened coconut
  • 3 tbsp cream
  • 1/2 c chopped nuts (any kind that you like)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Mix everything together, spread on the cake.
  2. Place it under the broiler, and watch carefully.
  3. Remove when it starts to bubble. Again, watch so it doesn’t burn.

Serves: about 1 1/2 – 2 cups

Note: consider lemon, orange zest depending on your cake base.

Comforting Creme Brulee

This is exquisite stuff.

It is quite simple to make.

It helps to have a propane torch.

It’s the ever so French, crème brûlée.

It is silky smooth, gentle of taste, quivery and crunchy.

It is like most things French, an anomaly. The opposites join in bliss.

This is my favorite recipe, and it is from Joy of Cooking.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 c heavy cream
  • 8 lg egg yolks or three lg eggs
  • 1/2 sugar
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla
  • sugar or brown sugar for the glaze

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat the cream in a sauce pan until just barely simmering.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir the eggs with the sugar until blended.
  3. Slowly, and carefully add the cream to the eggs, stirring as you go.
  4. Pour through a fine sieve into a bowl with a pouring lip.
  5. Stir in the vanilla
  6. Pour into 6-8 custard cups or ramekins, and place in a water bath.
  7. Set the pan in the oven and turn on the oven to 250°.
  8. Bake for 1 1/2 hours until custards are set but still quivery.
  9. Remove from water bath and cool to room temp and then cover with Saran wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days, but at least 8 hours. Blot away any water droplets that form on the top before proceeding to the glaze.
  10. Method one: (Can be applied up to 12 hours in advance of serving) Measure 2/3 c of sugar into a saucepan and drizzle 1/4 c water over. Swirl the pan over medium heat, without stirring, until a clear syrup forms–it must clarify before boiling. Once it has, raise the heat, bring to a boil, cover and boil for 2 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until the mixture darkens. Swirl, and continue until it turns a deep amber. Dip the bottom of the pan in cold water for 2 seconds. Spoon a tablespoon immediately of the caramel over custard and tilt to cover. Do remaining custards. Cool again if it continues to darken while you are doing each custard, or reheat a bit if it gets too thick to pour. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  11. Method two: (must be applied within an hour of serving) Adjust oven rack so that custards will be within 2 inches of the broiler element. Preheat the broiler for 10 minutes. Measure 1/3 c light granulated brown sugar or sugar placed through a sieve to fluff it up. Divide among the custards, evening with finger. Place on a baking sheet and place under the broiler until the sugar melts and bubbles. It will be uneven. Serve immediately.
  12. Method three: Sprinkle evening over each custard 1 1/2- 2 teaspoons of sugar. Use a propane torch, and carefully hold the flame about 2 inches from the surface, rotating as the sugar melts and darkens. Serve no more than 1 hour after.

Serves: 6-8

NOTE: You can vary this recipe with other flavorings besides vanilla.

Carne Guisada Galore

This stuff is wonderful. It’s a Mexican stew, and it’s supposed to be very thick, and very spicy. And it makes the most wonderful burrito with some frijoles refritos and a few other condiments.

It has a lot of ingredients (though there are plenty of simpler recipes out there), but once thrown together, you can let it cook away all day with nothing much else to do until you can’t wait to EAT!

I am indebted to Kim Biegacki at JustaPinch for her recipe which inspired me. Frankly this is mostly her recipe, I just cut and added a bit here and there based on looking at a dozen or so similar recipes. Some of my changes were based on what was available to me, so do not feel bound to exactitude.

Here, the blending of flavors is more important than actual amounts, so change it up to fit your idea of heat and spice. I can tell you that what I ended up seemed awfully hot, but when we ate it, it was mouth warm rather than burning. So judge by my use of chiles what you might like.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 lbs chuck, diced into bite-size pieces
  • 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes with their juice
  • 1 1/2 c of a Mexican lager beer (I could find none so used Sam Adams Winter Lager)
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and deveined as you prefer or not, diced finely
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced finely
  • 1/2 of a sweet pepper, any color, diced finely
  • 1-2 Serrano chiles, seeds removed or not (I did most of them) diced very finely
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 TBSP my Mexican spice mix
  • 2 tsp adobo sauce
  • 1 TBSP chipotle in adobo sauce, minced
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, micro-planed
  • flour and oil for the meat
  • tortillas
  • 1 recipe of frijoles refritos (recipe follows)
  • sour cream
  • assorted cheddar or other Mexican cheese
  • limes
  • fresh cilantro

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat about 3 tbsp of oil in a large cooking pot. ( I use a big old cast-iron pot with a glass lid)
  2. Throw all the meat into a plastic bag and sprinkle generously with flour, shake until all the pieces are well coated
  3. Begin by browning in batches the meat. Just one layer at a time, and brown them well. Remove done ones to a bowl until all are completed. Then return all the meat to the pot.
  4. Add the onions, chiles, peppers, and saute until they are just softened.
  5. Add the tomatoes, beer, and all the spices and herbs, adobo sauce etc.
  6. Put it on a low simmer and check every hour or so and stir. Let this cook for a good 4 hours. It should be quite thick. Make a roux from flour and butter and add if it is too liquid, or take the lid off and continue simmering and let it cook down.
  7. Warm your flour tortillas
  8. Make a recipe of frijoles refritos.
  9. Place the rest of the condiments on the table.
  10. Take a tortilla, spread with some frijoles, add a couple of tablespoons of the guisada, add sour cream, cheese, squirt some lime on top, and a sprig of cilantro. Roll into a burrito and chow down!

Serves: 4-6

Note: If you do not wish to make burritos, you could serve over rice, Mexican flavored or plain. It could also be served with tortilla chips. Obviously you can add other things like avocado, chopped scallions, ripe olives as you desire.

Frijoles Refritos

Refried beans are a staple in Mexican cooking. They are a wonderful side all on their own, but they are also used as part of more elaborate dishes such as tostados, chimichangas, and carne guisada tacos.

Yes, you can buy a can of it ready-made, but it won’t be very appetizing, and if you are taking all the time to make something really wonderful, why ruin it by have some blah refried beans when with very little extra time, you can make a really great refried bean dish.

If you insist on total purity, then start with dried pinto beans, soak as recommended, (over night) and then drain, refill with water and cook until tender. But frankly good canned pinto beans are fine. Just make sure to rinse off the salt and stuff by placing them in a sieve and rinsing.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cans pinto beans, rinsed
  • 4 TBSP lard, bacon fat, or oil
  • 1/2 c finely minced onion
  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers, finally minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • a bit of chicken broth
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Heat the fat in a saute pan. Add the onion and jalapeño and saute until tender
  2. Add some of the beans and begin mashing them with a fork or a potato masher. As they get mashed, add more, until all is incorporated.
  3. Add the cumin and stir, and then loosen until it is the consistency for spreading on a tortilla by adding a few tablespoons of chicken stock.
  4. Add the cilantro

Serves: at least a dozen tortillas, and 6-8 as a side dish

Note: if you don’t want the heat, then leave out the chiles.  

Chicks in the Coop Pie

The weather was expected to be frightful, and anyway, it’s still technically winter, so it seemed a good idea.

I love chicken pot pie. And my husband LOVES chicken pot pie.

So I rolled up my sleeves and got busy.

It is soooo good.

And not nearly so hard to do. From scratch that is. And don’t even think of taking short cuts, cuz if you do, it will turn out average. And average is not what we want.

We want a happy tummy.

So as I said, just plunge in and reap the wards of your labors.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 2 c chicken broth
  • 1 c beef broth
  • 1/2 of a medium onion, chunked up
  • 1 rib of celery, tops if you have them too
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary
  • 10 peppercorns crushed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 3 ribs celery, diced
  • 3 cubs of assorted veggies such as corn, peas, lima beans, green beans
  • 1 medium potato, diced
  • 6 mushrooms, diced
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • additional chicken stock
  • 1 recipe of basic buttermilk biscuits. (I added 3 tbsp of fresh parsley to the dough)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Place the chicken thighs and up through the peppercorns into a large saucepan and cook for about 45 minutes, until chicken is done. Keep the lid on most of the time, but allow it to reduce some toward the end. Keep at a good simmer. Remove the chicken to cool, strain the contents out and measure the remaining broth. Add additional chicken stock to measure three cups.
  2. Meanwhile, dice up your onions, carrots, celery, potato, and mushrooms. Place in a steamer and steam until fork tender. Set aside.
  3. Make a roux from the butter and flour. Add the 3 cubs of stock and heat until bubbly and thickened. Place all the veggies into the gravy. Take the skin off the chicken, remove from the bones and shred. Add to the gravy.
  4. Add the sage, and taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed.
  5. Pour the contents into a large baking dish.
  6. Make the biscuit dough. Turn out onto a floured surface, and knead three or four times until it holds together. Shape into a rectangle, and then lightly roll it to the approximate size of your pan. Slice into squares, and using a spatula, place them onto the hot chicken stew, covering the top. (I tried to lift the entire pie and it is just too delicate to hold so it’s best to cut it up into pieces. It will grow together as it bakes and cover the top nicely)
  7. Place in a 450° pre-heated oven for 10-12 minutes until top has browned.
  8. EAT IT!

Serves: 6-8

NOTE: You can also make a regular pie crust which is great too. But we prefer the fluffy biscuits frankly.

 

Oh Oh Onion Quiche

This is a lovely recipe that is so adaptable to what you have on hand. I am indebted to Melanie B at JustAPinch, as this is here recipe.

You have lots of options, so pick what sounds good! But do try other variations to discover what you like best.

Although the recipe calls for Vidalia onions, you can use any kind at all.

INGREDIENTS:

  • A crust (1 sleeve of crackers or equivalent of any type cracker you like, plus 5 tbsp of butter or enough to bring the crumbs together and press them into a pie plate.  Or use a pie crust dough such as a pre-baked pie crust.
  • 2-3 lg onions, sliced fairly thinly
  • oil for sauteing the onions
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 c milk
  • 1 c or so of any cheese you like
  • Salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Prepare the crust: place the crackers (if using) into a plastic bag, squish out most of the air, and then roll with pin until they are nicely crumbed up.
  2. Melt the butter and pour into the crumbs and mix. It need not be wet, but needs to be damp enough to press into a pie plate. Cook for 8 minutes at 350.
  3. If using dough, prepare as directed and cook as directed.
  4. Place 2-3 tbsp of oil in a saute pan.
  5. Place the sliced onions in the pan and cook slowly until caramelized, 20 minutes or so. A medium temperature should be about right.
  6. Place the onions in the cooked pie shell.
  7. Whisk the eggs and milk together and add a dash of salt and maybe 1/2 tsp of pepper.
  8. Pour over the onions.
  9. Scatter the cheese on top.
  10. Bake in a pre-heated 350 oven for 45 minutes.

Serves: 6-8

Note: You can use any cracker of course, or the pastry crust. Any cheese you like is fine. A cup is only a suggestion. Also, you could it seems to me use other vegetables such as leeks or broccoli. You could fry up a few strips of bacon and crumble that either on top or among the onions before pouring on the custard.

This is a great light meal for lunch or dinner, and of course it is a wonderful vegetable side.