Going bananas

I recently spent a weekend in Chicago with a friend from college. We shopped, listened to live music, ate pizza and ran a half marathon.

I admit I didn’t know what I was committing to when I registered for the race in February. I’ve completed multiple 5Ks, but I still didn’t consider myself a runner when I paid my registration fee. Yet as the weeks went by and my mileage grew, I started to enjoy the process. I’d walk in the house, dripping in sweat, eager to talk about splits and hills with my family as they nodded from a distance.

I swallowed several vitamins and supplements every morning. I learned to like sports drinks and suffered through strength training sessions. I didn’t give up Diet Mt. Dew completely, but I cut back quite a bit.

I napped for two hours after my first seven mile run. I completed eight miles in Arizona the weekend of my brother’s wedding (By the way, dry heat is a LIE!) and I finished my first 10 mile run at 11 p.m. on Mother’s Day.

With less than a week before the race, I set out for an easy five mile jog. I hobbled home without finishing, due to a tightening in my left calf. I’m still not sure if I heard something pop or just imagined it, but something was wrong. Forget running; I could barely walk!

Not willing to see 16 weeks of work be for nothing, I turned to Facebook for help and was overwhelmed with the advice: RICE (Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation.). Take magnesium supplements. Use a foam roller. Eat bananas.

That last one was the worst of the bunch. (See what I did there? Banana. Banana bunch. Ha!)

I hate bananas. I’d rather take a dozen ice baths than eat a banana, but I choked one down each day, hoping the potassium would do its job. Walking to Grant Park at 5 a.m. on a Sunday morning, I told Val I’d never have to eat a banana again – and then I was handed one at the finish line.

Limping back to our hotel, shiny medals hanging around our necks, my friend and I rehashed the 13.1 miles of hills, sun and sweat. We were too tired at that point to even jog across the street to beat the traffic lights, but that didn’t stop either one of us from talking about our next race.

Bring on the bananas.

PEANUT BUTTER AND BANANA MUFFINS
banana muffins
  • 1 ½ cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed bananas, ripe
  • 6 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup low fat buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 350. Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners or lightly mist the muffin tin with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir together to combine.
In a separate large bowl, combine the applesauce, brown sugar, eggs, mashed bananas, peanut butter and buttermilk. Whisk together until thoroughly combined and smooth.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Spoon the batter evenly into the liners. Bake for 20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Recipe courtesy of www.emilybites.com
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The 5 Stages of Grief + Baking

I got a new iPhone last week. This was after my old once accidentally got tossed in the wash.

Oops.

I can say that now because I have a new phone. And went through the five stages of grief.

Denial: Me, running to the laundry room: Nooo! It’s not in the wash, it’s not in the wash.

Anger: WHY?!?!?!?

Bargaining: Me, after obsessively Googling “Washed iPhone” for two hours: If the rice trick works, I will never, ever complain about anything again.

Depression: I suck. I don’t deserve a Smartphone.

Acceptance: I bought the replacement plan after I ruined my last phone? Yay!

Until I realized that getting a new phone wouldn’t cost that much, I was pretty stressed out. When I’m stressed, I bake.

My colleagues compared the Rolo Cheesecake Bars to crack.

That’s a good thing.

ROLO CHEESECAKE BARSrolo cheesecake1

For the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tablespoons of butter, melted

For the cheesecake:

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup caramel sauce
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup mini Rolos

For the topping:

  • 8 ounces dark chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup caramel sauce

To make the crust: Mix the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter and press them into the bottom of a greased 8 inch square baking pan.

Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven until lightly golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes and set aside.

For the cheesecake: Cream the cream cheese, mix in the caramel sauce followed by the sugar, the egg, the vanilla extract and finally the mini Rolos and pour the mixture into the baking pan.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees until the cheesecake is set, about 30 to 35 minutes, set aside and let cool.

For the chocolate topping: Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler, mixing until smooth and pour the chocolate over the cheesecake.

Place the caramel sauce in the corner of a small bag, cut a small hole in the corner and slowly squeeze out the caramel creating lines across the chocolate. Use a toothpick to make lines in the caramel going in the other direction to create the wave-like pattern.

Recipe courtesy of: www.closetcooking.com

All you “knead” to know about marriage

“What time was our wedding?”

I’m lucky Scott didn’t freak out when I asked him that this morning. He doesn’t know, either.

“5 p.m. maybe?”

It makes sense. We had a sit-down dinner after the ceremony. The cake was good. There was dancing. Before that, I tried to put Scott’s wedding ring on the wrong hand. And my brothers smeared Oreo cookie filling on the windshield of my car.

That is everything I remember from our wedding. We planned it in six weeks, after knowing each other for less than a year. Fourteen years, two kids, three newspapers and several moves later, we’re still going strong.

I’m not a mushy person. Neither is Scott. Both of our anniversary Facebook posts make jokes about our marriage being a high school freshman or being eligible for its learner’s permit. That’s who we are.

But I did give him the middle roll for breakfast this morning. That’s love.

ORANGE ROLLSorange roll

For the dough:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
  • 3¼ to 3½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package instant or rapid rise yeast (about 2½ teaspoons)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg

For the filling:

  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest

For the glaze:

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Enough orange juice to reach desired consistency

For the dough: Place milk and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 1 minute and 30 seconds on high. Butter should be at least partially melted. Stir and set aside.

Whisk together 2 cups flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. When milk mixture has cooled to warm (not hot; about 105-110 degrees), add it to the flour mixture along with the egg. Beat until well combined, using the paddle attachment – about 1 minute.

Switch to the dough hook. Add the remaining flour only until dough barely leaves the sides of the bowl. It should be very soft and slightly sticky. Continue to knead dough with mixer for 5 minutes or turn dough onto floured surface and knead for 5 minutes by hand. Allow to rest about 10 minutes while to make the filling.

For the filling: combine ingredients in a small bowl.

To assemble: Roll dough into a rectangle about 12-by-14 inches. Spread filling mixture over the surface and use your fingers or the back of a spoon to gently spread around. Roll up from the longer side of the rectangle and pinch edges closed. Use a piece of dental floss to score the rolls into 12 equal pieces and then slip the floss under the “log” and cinch off each piece with the floss to cut into rolls. Place in  9-by-13-inch baking pan that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Cover pan with a clean towel and let rise in a warm place about 30 minutes or until visibly increased in size. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

When the rolls have finished rising, bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a light golden brown.

For the glaze: Melt butter in a small saucepan or in the microwave. Add the powdered sugar and enough orange juice to reach a smooth pouring consistency. Drizzle over warm rolls.

Recipe courtesy of: Savoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites by Sara Wells & Kate Jones

Cake for breakfast? Heck, yeah!

I made my first-ever Bundt cake in October, in the middle of the 2012 Apple Challenge.

It was a stressful experience and my brand-new Bundt pan has since been banished to my pantry, stored on the bottom shelf behind a stack of cooking magazine so I can’t see it.

That’s why it took me a few minutes to find it yesterday, but I was a girl on a mission.

It was a snow day.

I was working from home.

I needed to update this blog.

I had to bake something.

I had everything I needed to make Chocolate Chip Cappuccino Coffee Cake, so that’s what I chose – even though it used a Bundt pan.

(Cue dramatic music.)

I’m happy to report my second attempt with this baking dish went well. I didn’t even have to watch a YouTube video on the proper way to grease and flour a Bundt pan.

That’s progress.

CHOCOLATE CHIP CAPPUCINNO COFFEE CAKEChocolate Chip Cappuccino Coffee Cake

For the chocolate chip streusel:

  • 1 lightly packed cup of light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup finely chopped pecans (I chose not to include these)
  • ½ cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted

For the cake:

  • Vegetable oil spray, for misting the pan
  • Flour, for dusting the pan
  • 1 package (18.25 ounces) plain yellow or vanilla cake mix
  • 1 package (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ cup strong brewed coffee or water
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the topping:

  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Make the streusel: Place the brown sugar, pecans, chocolate chips, flour, cinnamon, 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder and the melted butter in a large bowl, and stir to combine. Set the streusel aside.

Make the cake: Lightly mist a 12-cup Bundt pan with vegetable oil spray, then dust it with flour. Shake out the excess flour and set the pan aside.

Place the cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, coffee or water, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until the ingredients just come together, about 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the batter is thick and smooth, 1½ to 2 minutes longer, scraping down the side of the bowl again if needed. Pour two thirds of the batter into the prepared Bundt pan and sprinkle half of the streusel mixture on top of the batter. Pour the remaining batter on top of the streusel and, using a rubber spatula, spread the batter to reach the side of the pan. Sprinkle the remaining streusel on top. Place the pan in the oven.

Bake the cake until the top springs back when lightly pressed with a finger, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer the Bundt pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Run a long, sharp knife around the edges of the cake, shake the pan gently and invert the cake onto a serving plate so that the streusel stays on the bottom of the cake. Let the cake cool completely, 25 to 30 minutes.

Make the topping: Place the confectioners’ sugar and 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder in a small bowl and stir to combine. Sift the mixture on top of the cake, and slice and serve.

Recipe courtesy of The Cake Mix Doctor Returns!: With 160 All-New Recipes by Anne Byrn

Adventures in Cooking, otherwise known as, The Week Without a Refrigerator

See that? That’s a picture of my refrigerator.

It hasn’t been that clean, or that empty, since we bought our house more than four years ago.

The reason it is so bare is because it is broken.

Sort of.

The freezer is fine. Everything is cold, everything is solid. No complaints there — except that everything in the refrigerator portion is frozen solid, too.

We first noticed it on Tuesday morning. The milk had ice in it. We figured the freezer door wasn’t shut properly, so the refrigerator overcompensated. An easy fix.

Wednesday morning, the milk was a solid cube.

By Thursday, I was googling refrigerator prices.

On Friday, I ordered our new refrigerator. Yes, I could have called a repairman, but the fact of the matter is that the refrigerator is as old as the house. I could shell out a couple hundred to see if it could be fixed, or just apply that money to a new refrigerator and not have to worry about it for many years.

I chose the second option.

(It took Scott some time to get around to the idea of a new refrigerator, but seeing as he’s out of the country this week and not dealing with the refrigerator issue, he didn’t really have much to add to the debate.)

Unfortunately, our new refrigerator won’t be installed until Wednesday afternoon. I was able to take most of our perishable food to my sister’s refrigerator, so we’ll find a way to manage over the next few days, but Thanksgiving will be delayed until Sunday this year as I refuse to buy Thanksgiving items on Wednesday night.

For now, though, I’m thankful for the white wine still in my refrigerator. It’s perfectly chilled. (Ha!) I think I’ll have a glass before I order tonight’s dinner.

Oh Snap(ple)!

Day 25: Frozen Green Apple Yogurt

It was probably not smart to make frozen green apple yogurt on the first real cold day of the month, but it looked yummy and I had a few Granny Smith apples that were going to go bad soon.

Breakfast tomorrow will be a little chilly.

FROZEN GREEN APPLE YOGURT

  • 1/3 cup honey
  • ½ cup apple juice
  • 3/4 cup finely grated unpeeled green apple (I ended up chopping mine because I couldn’t locate my peeler)
  • 16 ounces Greek-style yogurt

Stir honey and juice in a small saucepan over low heat until honey melts; cool syrup 5 minutes.

Combine honey mixture, apple and yogurt in 5 x 9 inch loaf pan. Cover with foil, freeze 3 hours or overnight.

Remove yogurt from freezer 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe courtesy of Quick & Easy Recipes With Just 4 Ingredients by ACP Magazines

Day 26: Apple, Brie and Turkey Panini

I received a Panini maker for a Christmas present a few years ago. I don’t use it that often (and yes, I hear about that all the time), but every time I do, I tell myself I need to get it out of the pantry more often. It’s easy, it’s fast – I love it!

A turkey, green apple and brie Panini is one of my favorite sandwiches. Today was a crazy-busy day, so it was the perfect sandwich for dinner.

APPLE, BRIE AND TURKEY PANINI

  • 2 slices of sourdough bread
  • 2 slices smoked turkey breast
  • ½ of a Granny Smith apple, sliced thinly
  • Thin slices of brie
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Using a pastry brush, lightly brush both bread slices with olive oil. Arrange a thin layer of brie on both sides of the bread and then lightly brush with olive oil, and sprinkle freshly ground black pepper according to taste. Place a slice of turkey breast on each of the bread slices. Arrange slices of apple on one side of the bread. Top with the other slice of bread.

Heat Panini maker and lightly brush with leftover olive oil. Place the sandwich on the grill until done. Slice in half and serve warm.

Recipe courtesy of jinkzzkitchen.blogspot.com

Day 27: Apple Nachos

My daughter is having a Halloween party tonight. There are eight 11-year-old girls in our downstairs family room, but it sounds like 50 people, and a herd of buffalo, have taken over that part of our house.

And that was before they consumed sugar.

I love Halloween parties. I love the costumes and I love the food. In years past I have made blood-shot eyeballs (deviled eggs), caterpillar pizza (pizza bread), a Frankenstein’s bride cake and a pumpkin-brownie cheesecake.

My daughter gave me a list two pages long with food suggestions for her party. We narrowed it down considerably to include ghost pizza, boney breadsticks, a jack-o-lantern veggie tray, black cat cupcakes and apple nachos.

Don’t let the name fool you. Apple nachos may be less healthy than regular nachos.

Happy Halloween!

APPLE NACHOS

  • 4 large Granny Smith apples, sliced
  • 35 large marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 35 caramels
  • 1 tablespoon evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup mini semi-sweet morsels

Slice apples and arrange on platter.

In a saucepan, melt marshmallows and butter until creamy. Set aside.

In a microwave dish, melt caramels with milk (cooking in 30 second intervals, and stirring). Set aside.

Pour marshmallow cream over apple slices, followed by caramel sauce. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Taste of Home magazine

Rotten to the core

I’m in a multimedia training class at work. They are teaching all of the print journalists how to live-breathe-think-eat digital first.

Don’t tell my editors, but it’s actually pretty fun. We just wrapped up slide show presentations and I did mine on the apple challenge — to date. I think it turned out well, but one of my colleagues had a smartass comment every time a picture of a less than challenging recipe flashed (the Instant Energy Fruit Cup, for instance).

Granted, not every apple recipe has been baked, cooked or fried. A few have been as simple as chopping up an apple and tossing it with something else, but it isn’t easy having the time, enthusiasm or ingredients on hand for a new apple recipe every day. There have been days I just want to have a bowl of Apple Jacks and call it good.

I didn’t say anything to him. I think he was just bitter he missed out on the Morning Glory Muffins I brought in that morning.

Day 22: Chicken with Tomato & Apple Sauce

I love chicken.

I’m not doing a chicken challenge.

Not next month, anyway.

Chicken with Tomato & Apple Sauce

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 eg
  • ¾ cup breadcrumbs
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, to garnish

Tomato & apple sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Brown sugar, to taste
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg
  • Scant ½ cup of water
  • Salt and pepper

First, make the sauce. Melt the butter with the olive oil in a pan. Add the shallots and apple, and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until softened. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar to taste, nutmeg, and water and season to taste with salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes, until thickened. Remove the sauce from the heat and let cool slightly.

Put the chicken between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat until thin and even. Put the flour into a shallow dish and season to taste with salt and pepper. Lightly beat the egg in the separate shallow dish and spread out the breadcrumbs in a third shallow dish.

Dip the chicken, 1 at a time, first in the flour, then in the egg, and, finally, in the breadcrumbs to coat. Melt the butter with the sunflower oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken, in batches, and cook over medium heat for 1 minute on each side, until golden brown. Reduce the heat and cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until cooked through and tender.

Meanwhile, gently reheat the sauce. Transfer the chicken to warmed individual plates and pour the sauce over them. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from 1 Sauce, 100 Recipes by Linda Doeser

Day 23: Apple Crepes

I was skimming through photos on my phone and came across a screen shot of a recipe for apple crepes. I have no idea where I got the recipe, but I know I took the photo more than a year ago because the next image was a picture of my kids with apples from last year’s trip to the orchard.

My phone makes it seem like we spend a lot of time at apple orchards.

I made the crepes for my family’s breakfast Tuesday. That’s right, I made crepes on the school day ’cause I’m awesome.

At least, that’s what I posted on Facebook. The fact that I forgot the kids’ lunches today totally negates any Mom of the Year points these crepes racked up in my favor.

Dammit.

APPLE CREPES

Crepes

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter

Filling

  • 8 apples (I used Golden Delicious and Granny Smith), peeled and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 orange rind, grated
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • Powdered sugar, optional

Beat together crepe ingredients. Cover and let stand for 30 minutes. Cook crepes in a small pan.

Cook apples in a large pan until tender. Add remaining ingredients.

Place filling in center of crepes and roll into crepe shape. Dust with powdered sugar.

Day 24: Apple Butter

I love apple butter. It is one of those foods that signifies fall. I love it on toast, on English muffins and on biscuits.

I usually buy apple butter at the farmers market, but for this challenge I took the plunge and made my own. Turns out, it isn’t that hard to do. You just need to have time, patience and the foresight not make it on a fluke fall day where the temps soar over 70 degrees and humidity is out of control.

The next time I make apple butter, I’ll do it in February. Not that I’ll need to make some any time soon. This recipe makes A LOT of butter.

APPLE BUTTER

  • 2 pounds McIntosh apples, cored, quartered and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 pounds Fuji apples, cored, quartered and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 cup Calvados or applejack
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Combine apples, cider and Calvados in a large Dutch oven, and bring to a boil, over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until apples are very soft, about 30 minutes.

Working in batches, transfer apples to food mill and process. Discard skins and transfer puree to now-empty Dutch oven. Stir in granulated sugar, brown sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture is browned and wooden spoon or rubber spatula leaves a distinct trail when dragged across the bottom of the pot, 1 to 1.5 hours.

Transfer apple butter to jar with a tight-fitting lid and let cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Apple butter can be refrigerated up to 1 month.

Recipe courtesy of The America’s Test Kitchen D.I.Y. Cookbook

NOTE: If you don’t have a food mill, you can skip that while step by peeling the skins from your apples before putting them in the Dutch oven. That’s what I did, as my husband is still giving me grief about the juicer and probably wouldn’t appreciate my bringing a food mill into the house.

A is for apple

I was talking to B about football this morning. Actually, he was talking to me about football and I was making appropriate “Uh-huh” and “Really?” comments.

I’ve told him I know nothing about football and don’t care to learn. He chooses to ignore that.

I finally got him off the subject when I asked if he’d had breakfast.

“No. We’re out of doughnuts. I’ll eat at lunch.”

B is a wonderful kid. Seriously, no complaints about him at all. Well, one. He’s stubborn. And one of the things he’s most stubborn about it being a picky eater. Once the kid decides he hates something, it will take an act of god to change his mind. Case in point: breakfast. He hates cereal. He refuses to eat in the kitchen if anyone is having cereal. He would rather skip a meal than force himself to eat cereal.

There’s no way he’ll survive college.

Being the great parent I can be at rare times, I made him pancakes. I wanted to knock out another apple recipe, so I made four plain pancakes for B, then punched up the batter to make fruit slice pancakes for the rest of us.

We just have to remember to buy doughnuts today.

FRUIT SLICE PANCAKES

  • 1 cup Bisquick
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 to 3 apple or pears, cored, sliced across into rounds approximately 1/8-inch thick

Beat baking mix, egg and milk until smooth.

Add pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and honey to batter and mix until blended.

Preheat Saladmaster 11-inch large skillet on medium heat (I don’t own one of these skillets, so I used a regular electric skillet and it worked fine). When several drops of water sprinkled on the pan skitter ad dissipate, spray skillet lightly with cooking spray.

Dip apple or pear slices into batter.

Cook until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Drizzle with syrup and serve with fruit.

Recipe courtesy of Saladmaster Corporate

Yet another one-act play

Setting: My kitchen at 6:30 a.m. Friday. I’m sipping a coffee from a cup roughly the size of my head.

Scott: How did you sleep?

Me: Not good. I didn’t get to bed until 2 a.m.

Scott: Why?

Me: I think it was that Diet Mt. Dew I had at dinner. (It was my first Diet Dew in nearly a week.)

Scott just looked at me.

Me: And maybe I screwed up on my knitting and couldn’t go to sleep until I fixed it.

Scott: Thought so.

***************

I tried knitting for the first time Thursday night. 

I’m not good at it.

Everyone at yarn shop kept saying, “You’re doing fine” and “It will get easier.”

I got home around 10 p.m. Thursday and knitted another row of my future hat or scarf. It looked awful, so I took the whole thing apart. I didn’t want to admit to anyone at the store that I took it apart, so I pulled up a YouTube video on how to cast on, and started over.

Several times.

***************

Scott: You know what that’s called, right?

Me: Trying real hard?

Despite my lack of sleep Friday, I still managed to work half a day, go to a board meeting, cook dinner for a friend and make sour cream apple bars. I even mopped the kitchen floor.

I also knitted.

I’m still not good at it.

Day 19: Sour Cream Apple Bars

SOUR CREAM APPLE BARS

  • 1 cup Land O Lakes® butter, softened
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups uncooked quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice

Filling

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 Land O Lakes® All-Natural Egg
  • 2 medium (2 cups) apples, unpeeled, shredded

Heat oven to 350°F. Combine butter and brown sugar in large bowl. Beat at medium speed until creamy. Add all remaining crust ingredients; continue beating until well mixed.

Press half of crust mixture onto bottom of ungreased 13×9-inch baking pan. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until light golden brown.

Meanwhile, combine all filling ingredients in large bowl; mix well. Pour filling over hot, partially baked crust. Crumble remaining crust mixture over filling and press down lightly.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until top is golden brown and center is set. Cool completely. Cut into bars. Store refrigerated.

Recipe courtesy of http://www.landolakes.com/

Day 20: Morning Glory Muffins

I slept in today. Because I woke up late — and had to run because I skipped my run on Friday — I had to forgo the apple pancakes I was planning to make and went with muffins instead. Muffins can be consumed at any time. Pancakes? Not so much.

Well, except for brinner.

MORNING GLORY MUFFINS

  • 2 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
  • 2 cups finely carrots
  • 1 large crisp apple, such as Fuji, Gala, or Honey Crisp
  • ½ cup shredded, sweetened coconut
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter 24 standard-size muffin cups or line them with cupcake liners.

Place the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and whisk well to combine. Add the pineapple, carrots, apple, raisins, and nuts and stir to combine.

Place the eggs, oil, and vanilla in a small bowl and whisk to combine well. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Spoon batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them almost to the brim.

Bake the muffins until they are brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.

Place the muffin pan(s) on a wire rack and let the muffins cool for 10 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan to finish cooling. The muffins can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. Let the muffins thaw in the refrigerator overnight and return to room temperature before serving.

Recipe courtesy of The Apple Lover’s Cookbook by Amy Traverso

She was the apple of his eye and he liked to sit down be cider

Three more days done, 14 to go!

My weekly apple plan is a little messed up because life got in the way, but I still think I can make it work if a switch a few recipes around.

Stupid life and it’s stupid need to come first at all times.

Day 15: Apple Cinnamon Rolls

I’m not someone who loves the edges of baked goods. I’d rather have the brownie in the middle of the pan than an edge piece. That weird pan I saw at the store that makes every brownie an edge piece? No, thank you.

(Look, Scott — a kitchen gadget I won’t buy! Aren’t you proud?)

Same with cinnamon rolls. If they are baked in a round pan, please give me the middle one. It’s the gooiest and the yummiest. There’s only one middle piece, though, so you know someone really loves you when they let you have it.

At least, that’s how it is at my house.

APPLE CINNAMON ROLLS

  • 4-1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup butter, cubed
  • 3 eggs

Filling

  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 1 cup grated peeled apple
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk

In a large bowl, combine 2-1/4 cups flour, sugar, yeast and salt. In a saucepan, heat milk and butter to 120°-130°. Add to dry ingredients; beat just until moistened. Add eggs; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly; set aside. Punch dough down. Turn onto a floured surface; let rest for 10 minutes. Roll into a 12-in. square. Sprinkle crumb mixture to within 1/2 in. of edges; top with apple and pecans.

Roll up jelly-roll style; pinch seams to seal. Cut into nine slices. Place cut side up in a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours.

Uncover and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Combine the glaze ingredients; drizzle over rolls. Serve warm.

Recipe courtesy of www.tasteofhome.com

Day 16: Chicken and Apple Curry Mayonnaise

(That’s really just a fancy way of saying chicken salad.)

Chicken salad is among my favorite go-to sandwiches. I tend to bake two or three chicken breasts weekly just so I have them on hand when I need to make a quick meal.

I love curry, too, so my chicken salad sandwich of choice is curry-flavored, but I usually use red grapes instead of apples. Not today!

CHICKEN AND APPLE CURRY MAYONNAISE

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless cooked chicken or turkey, cut into cubes (about 2 cups)
  • 2 red eating apples, cut into small cubes
  • 3 tablespoons golden raisins
  • 3 tablespoons roasted, salted peanuts
  • 6 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon medium or mild curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon mild chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Crisp lettuce leaves, to serve
  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish

Place all ingredients, except the salt, pepper, lettuce leaves and cilantro, in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Line a serving dish or individual serving dishes with the lettuce leaves and spoon in the curried chicken mixture. Garnish with the cilantro leaves.

Recipe courtesy of The Apple Cookbook: More Than Sixty Easy, Imaginative Recipes by Nicola Hill

Day 17: Apple Harvest Oatmeal

I keep a huge supply of Quaker Oats instant oatmeal in my desk drawer at work. It’s the perfect pick-me-up on days I have early morning assignments or I’m too busy to grab lunch. This recipe, however, puts those to shame. To shame!

APPLE HARVEST OATMEAL

  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 crisp apple, such as Braeburn or Crispin, cored and diced, with skin on
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar, plus more for serving
  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • ¼ cup wheat germ
  • ¼ cup ground or whole flaxseed, or a combination
  • ¼ cup dried apples, plus for dried apple rings for serving
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • ¾ cup 1 percent milk

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and the apple and cook until lightly brown and soft, 2 minutes. Add cinnamon and sugar and cook until dissolved. Add the water and bring to a boil. Add the oats, wheat germ, flax, dried apples and raisins. Stir constantly for 2 minutes until oats are cooked and dried is slightly plumped.

Divide into 4 bowls, sprinkle each bowl with more brown sugar, a drizzle of milk and a dried apple ring.

Recipe courtesy of www.foodnetwork.com