Monday, November 28, 2011

Roasted Apples


I have a great idea.

My mom came to visit me a few weeks ago and we went apple-picking.  She went a little overboard, as this was her first apple-picking experience.  15lbs of apples later, this was quite apparent.  And then Mom left the next day to head back to The Bahamas, sans apples.

This got me thinking.

You know how apple pie recipes always call for "cups" of apples?  Well, how am I supposed to know how many apples will yield 6 cups? This inevitably leads to that moment in the grocery store when I hog the spot in front of the Granny Smith apples while trying to figure out how many apples equal 6 cups.  Awkward.  Then there's always at least an apple or two left over that I have to deal with.

So here's my great idea.  Why not roast those extra apples up and treat yourself to a fresh, homemade apple pie without the crust?  Some people say the crust is the best part (and I concur), but sometimes you just do what you gotta do.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes with Whiskey Espresso Frosting

It's November.  It's Thanksgiving-time.  This means that I have been slurping on Dunkin Donuts' pumpkin spice coffee approximately 3-4 times per week since the end of September.  I'm not sure exactly why it took me forever to put two-and-two together and realize that the flavors of one of my favorite beverages should be recreated in cupcake form.  I'm only slightly disappointed in myself.

OK, I'm over it.

When my neighbor informed me that he was once again holding his epic pre-Thanksgiving Deep Fried Turkey party, I knew exactly where I could debut these cupcakes.  Yep, right amongst the deep-fried turkey, deep-fried ravioli, deep-fried risotto balls, deep-fried onion rings...Do you see where this is going?  This would be an excellent chaser for all that excellent fried food.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Red Onion Pasta with Spicy Zucchini-Tomato Sauce

Let's be honest.  We all crave pasta.  Who doesn't?  (Pssst...if you don't, you should.)  And even though I just gave you some pasta sauce earlier this week, I just had to hit you with this.  This is some amazing spaghetti sauce that I need to put in your face.

OK, not really in your face. Because that would be weird.  Weird and not so nice.  And I want this to be a nice, welcoming blog space for you.  Let's just say that you would want to put your face in it.

Wait, that's odd too.  This conversation is getting awkward and heading in the wrong direction.

Instead, let's think about fresh crisp zucchini and earthy tomatoes tossed with ever-so-slightly-spicy red onion pasta.  Yes, now this is heading in the right direction.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Bolognese Sauce

I recently joined a new club.  It's a not-so-secret club called the Secret Recipe Club.

Here's the deal.  Once you join, you're randomly assigned another person's food blog.  From that blog, you need to choose one recipe to make or adapt to your liking. One.  Only one! There are so many recipes to choose from out there, I wasn't sure how I'd do it.

For my first month as a part of the club, I was assigned the Living Lou blog.  I was surprised to learn that Lou is an 18 year old who's infatuated with everything having to do with food.  Let's see.  When I was 18, I'm pretty sure I was only concerned with consuming whatever food was within reach.  And I definitely was not interested in making it.  Clearly Lou's got her life together already.  I'm still working on that.  Let's not talk about it.

What really matters is Lou's food blog.  On her website, she has several recipes that caught my eye, but the one that finally won me over was the recipe for Bolognese Sauce.  This was the perfect choice for me for two reasons:
1. I've been thinking about making a Bolognese sauce for months; and
2. I purchased a ton of pasta recently from Flour City Pasta and obviously needed to make more pasta sauce.

I made a few adjustments to Lou's recipe, but I rarely ever leave a good recipe alone.  You must know that by now.

Bolognese Sauce
adapted from Living Lou's recipe 
makes 8-10 servings

  • 1 lb ground turkey (or ground chicken)
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 onion, chopped roughly
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped roughly
  • 1 carrot, chopped roughly
  • handful (~3 tablespoons) basil, julienned
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 5.5oz can tomato paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • habanero sauce, to taste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • black pepper, to taste

1) Add the onion, red bell pepper, and carrot into a food processor and pulse several times until vegetables are desired size.  (You can choose to chop them by hand, but this is much easier.)

2) Meanwhile, heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large pot and add all the ground meat.

3) Once the meat is done, add the chopped vegetables and the basil to the pan.  Cook the mixture for about 3 minutes.

4) Toss in the garlic and cook for another minute.

5) Stir in the tomato paste and cook for about a minute.

6) Pour in the crushed tomatoes and stir to combine the sauce.

7) Sprinkle in the salt, habanero, and the spices (oregano, nutmeg, celery seed). Stir.

8) Simmer the sauce for about 45 minutes so the flavors have a chance to blend together.

9) Pour in the milk and stir to combine.  Add black pepper to taste.

10) Toss with pasta and serve.

Wow.  I liked this sauce.  I liked this a lot.  I had some Rasta Pasta in my pantry so I poured the sauce over it and dug in.  (By the way, who knew a sweet potato, red pepper, carrot thyme, and lime flavored pasta blend would be so amazing? Apparently these Flour City Pasta guys did.)

Lou mentioned that this would be a staple in her house during the winter and I tend to agree.  This sauce is warm and comforting enough to get me through the nippy winter weather that has come barging into New Jersey way too early this year.  The meat and vegetables formed a hearty savory/sweet base for the sauce and the tomatoes and seasonings were aromatic and spicy.  As I have several pounds of pasta in my pantry, I will gladly consume all this bolognese sauce until it is extinct.

Thanks for the recipe, Lou!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Spekuloos Cookies

Who doesn't love some gingerbread? It's getting closer to the holidays now and even though Christmas decorations are popping up like wildfire, I'm trying to take it slow.  I want to ease into the holiday season.  

Just let me have this moment and a spekuloos cookie, please.

Yes, the spicy spekuloos cookie.  Tastes like gingerbread, ya know.  I like gingerbread.  This works.

And since I had spekuloos laying around (as we ALL should), I threw it in some batter and whipped up a few treats for no reason at all.  I see no problem with this.

Spekuloos Cookies
makes ~60 cookies*

Print Recipe
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup spekuloos
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1) Cream together the butter, spekuloos, and sugars.

2) Add the eggs, beating well after adding each egg.

3) In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. 

4) Stir into batter, then put the batter in the refrigerator for 1 hour. 

5) Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place on baking sheets. Flatten each ball with a fork, making a criss-cross pattern.

6) Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F oven for 8-10 minutes or until cookies begin to brown.  Let cool for several minutes before removing from the tray.

* The original recipe for this says that this batter yields 24 cookies.  I got much more than that, so I'm not sure what the deal was there.  Just be aware that you may get a lot more cookies than you bargain for.

My cookies sort of flattened out and didn't hold the criss-cross pattern very well.  I think the butter in the batter didn't chill as much as it should have, which lead the cookies to spread in the oven.  In spite of this, the cookies were pretty tasty.  Since they were thin, they were a little crunchy but I don't mind that at all.  Just because a cookie isn't chewy doesn't mean we throw it away.  Work with it, people.  The cookies ended up being a cross between a sugar and a gingerbread cookie.  This equals perfect yummy-ness.