Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Step-by-Step Recipe: Apple Cider Braised Pork with Onions and Leeks (sort of)

I really like braising meat, as I believe I've said before (braised short ribs)  It's pretty much the easiest thing you can do that delivers such amazing results, though admittedly it takes a while.  The good news is that most of that time is hands-off from you.

This isn't quite a true step-by-step posting, as I had guests over for dinner, and then I got a tiny bit flustered,
and then I didn't take pictures.  It happens.  Sorry!

More below the cut.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Step-by-Step Recipe: Best Ever Apple Pie

First things first--time for a confession.  I made a pie yesterday.  An apple one.  But I did not make pie crust.  Yes, yes, I know *how* to make pie crust.  I just...didn't feel like it.  And I'd never used the ready-made stuff before, so I wanted to see how good it was (and just how easy).  And let me tell you...I can see why people don't bother to make their own crust.  :)  The Pillsbury stuff tasted good and was the easiest thing to use ever.

Okay, now that that's over...I *did* make the filling, which I think is more complicated than the crust.  Have you ever had apple pie where the apples weren't soft enough? (Ick.)  Where they were still sour tasting and not saucy enough?  (Gross.)  Well, if you make this filling, you will not experience that.  This smelled like...heaven.  And it tasted pretty great, too.  So if, like me, you've been scared or nervous to make an apple pie...fear not!  Try this recipe (and consider cheating with a storebought pie crust if you must), and you'll feel like a pro!

Friday, October 22, 2010

And the winner is...

Based on the votes from your comments, comments on Facebook, and a couple by email...Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting is the winner.  Thanks for voting, everyone! I might whip up a half batch this weekend to make sure I'm comfortable with the recipe.  Maybe pictures, too?

My apologies for being so quiet lately.  My husband and I have been very busy with work, and I have not been doing much cooking.  I made some pesto pasta the other night with what was probably my last basil harvest of the year...but since I've already posted that recipe...  I hope to whip up a few new things this weekend.  Braised pork roast with apple cider and caramelized leeks, anyone?  And maybe, finally, that apple pie.

Happy fall, everyone!  Hope you're enjoying some tasty fall treats!

Monday, October 18, 2010

PLEASE VOTE! Halloween Dessert Ideas

So my office is having a Halloween dessert competition/bake sale next week.  Apparently I've set the precedent that I am expected to make something awesome to compete.  Part of me is flattered...but most of me is anxious just thinking about it.

To minimize my stress, I'm thinking I'll want to make something I've made before.  I need some help deciding what would be best.  Here are my current thoughts.  Please respond in a comment to this post with your vote.

  1. Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting
  2. Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars with Gingersnap Crust
  3. Apple Cake (see post from last week)
  4. Something else entirely?
If your vote is for #4, please submit an idea...something I'll have time to try this weekend before the actual competition, since the very idea of baking something for other people to eat without testing it myself makes my stomach twist up into a giant knot.

Thanks!  I hope to get back to regular posting this week at some point.  I hardly cooked last week, since I was on travel for work for a few days.  And then I was just lazy.  And then my camera battery died when I was trying to photograph last night's dinner.  Oh well!  You folks don't care about sauteed chicken with mustard-cream sauce, do you?

And one more request...PLEASE VOTE!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Recipe Snapshots: Apples (Part II)

Over the long weekend (it was Columbus Day yesterday, which is a federal holiday, in case it wasn't a long weekend for you!), I used up a few more of our apples.  I still haven't made that apple pie I've been planning, but maybe next weekend?  The apples are looking good and fresh, which I guess makes sense because the ones you typically buy at the store were probably picked weeks before they find they way to the produce section.

One of my challenges with the apples was finding savory recipes to use them in.  Delicious as it was, that apple cake didn't exactly stretch the imagination much!  But then low and behold, a friend told about this recipe: Creamy Chicken-Apple Chili.  I know, it sounds weird.  But the reviews on the recipe were good, and the friend who told me about the recipe enjoyed it.  So I thought I'd give it a whirl.

It was pretty great.  It needs a little cilantro for garnish, and the apple flavor could actually use a boost, but overall, I was pleasantly surprised.

Also over the weekend, I tried to make Baked Apple Cider Donut Holes.  A couple of things: there are no actual apples in this recipe.  But it does call for applesauce, which I could have made with my apples.  I just don't plan to do this, since I don't really care for applesauce all that much.

According to my husband, these were fantastic.  I thought they were just pretty good. The ingredient list is really long, and I'm not sure how much a lot of those items really added.  And they sure didn't taste very apple-y.  But anything fluffy and baked and coated in buttery cinnamon-sugar?  How bad could it be?  (Note: my "donut holes" look more like muffins because I don't have a mini-muffin pan and had to use a regular one.)

Recipes below the cut.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Step-by-Step Recipe: Apple Cake

I don't think I had ever had an apple cake until last fall.  My sister- and brother-in-law had gone apple picking and were kind enough to share a half dozen or so of their pickings.  Being terrified of making a pie, and not being a fan of apple crisps (too healthy), I decided to try one.  My expectations were low...but wow.  Zack and I devoured the cake ourselves within a couple of days.  And then I made it again and actually shared it with other people!

I found this recipe online at  If you click that link, I have no idea what makes this cake "German."  I just know it's delicious!  I made a few alterations based on reviews from other bakers, and I think they're delish!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Recipe Snapshots: Apples (Part I)

For these first couple of apple recipes, I didn't do the full step-by-step thing.  Since the galette was a first-time recipe, I was too focused to take pictures.  And then I forgot for the second recipe.  But here are some pictures of the finished products and the recipes!

First I made an apple galette, which is basically a cheater's pie--it's pie crust filled with fruit filling and then folded in on itself, no pie dish needed.  It's rustic and a little bit less effort than a pie.  I had seen this recipe on one of the food blogs I follow, and decided to give it a try.

All in all, this was an okay recipe.  The filling needed a little bit more "sauce," because the apples on top were a little dry.  I altered the recipe a bit--I made my own pie crust from a fool-proof recipe I found, and then added some nutmeg to the filling and increased the amount of apples in the filling (maybe why it was dry?).  I would make this again, for sure, since it was pretty simple to throw together, even making my own pie crust!  I like how rustic it looked.  But I'll be trying a regular ol' apple pie sometime soon, to show off my crust-crimping skills (or lack thereof).

I also made roasted pork tenderloin with apple-cherry chutney, which was fabulous.  I like savory recipes that incorporate apples, and this was also very easy.  The recipe is from Southern Living magazine, though I found it online.

I've made this recipe before, and it's delicious.  I served it with brussels sprouts and a wild rice blend.  I made a few tweaks--I halved the amount of chili sauce in the chutney (I used sriracha sauce, and 2 tablespoons of that would have made it inedible for us), and added more apples, as well as a touch of cinnamon.  I also used a shallot instead of onion, but that's just because I had more shallots on hand.

Recipes below the cut.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Coming Soon: Apples, Apples, and More Apples!

This past weekend, my husband and I went apple-picking with some friends.  I had never been apple-picking before, and I really enjoyed it.  I am also enjoyed the 19+ pounds of apples we brought home!  I've already made a couple of things, and plan to make more in the next couple of weeks.  Last night I made my very first apple galette, and for dinner, I made roasted pork tenderloin medallions with spicy apple-cherry chutney.  I used about 5 percent of my apples to make these.  So there will be much more in the days to come.  Stay tuned!

And now I will leave you with my favorite picture from our apple-picking adventures: my favorite teeny-tiny little apple.

Check back later this week for my adventures in apple-cooking.  (I'm thinking apple cake tonight.)  In the meanwhile, please share any favorite apple recipes!