It’s like summer in a (cookie) bar

Finding the creator of a cookie recipe take s’more investigation

This recipe for s’mores cookie bars has been floating around Pinterest for weeks now. If the Website wasn’t equipped to tell me “Hey, you pinned that already,” I would have pinned it a gazillion times.

I originally planned to make these on the last day of school, sort of like a “Hey, it’s summer!” treat (because nothing says summer like s’mores), but it didn’t happen.

I had great intentions. I bought all the ingredients, but then life got busy, as it tends to do. I put the chocolate in the freezer, but that wasn’t the best hiding spot in the world from a 14-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl, so Sunday night, around 8 p.m., I decided I better make the bars while I still had some chocolate left.

Side note: I learned my kids love dark chocolate. Good for them.

Another side note: My 14-year-old had not tried marshmallow fluff until I made these bars. I am trying to understand how that happened.

This is an easy recipe. Finding out who created it was the tough part. First I visited the Website that Pinterest led me to: Six Sisters’ Stuff.

I love this site. It started when six sisters, now living apart, wanted a way to keep in touch. I own their first cookbook and it is one of my favorites. However, the recipe is credited to another blog: Sugar Cooking. I click on that and lose 30 minutes of my life exploring Sarah’s food blog (It’s like Christmas!).

Guess what? Sarah didn’t create this recipe. She credits Lovin’ From The Oven, so I click on that blog and start all over again.

I’m 87 percent sure this is the original recipe. The post was written in 2008 and doesn’t link to another blog. How awesome is it to know a recipe that appeared on the blog sphere nearly five years ago is still going strong?

One thing – all versions of this recipe say it makes 16 bars. These bakers must be better at math than I am because I only got 12 bars out of the pan, and they were pretty small, too. Size-wise, it’s OK. These are a rich treat, but I don’t want to mislead you in any way.

S’mores are a serious business.

S’MORES BARS RECIPEsmores bars

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 king-sized milk chocolate bars (I used a combination of Hershey’s milk chocolate and dark chocolate)
  • 1 1/2 cups marshmallow fluff

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square baking pan.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined.

Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan. Place chocolate bars over dough (3 king-sized Hershey’s bars should fit perfectly side by side, but break the chocolate, if necessary, to get it to fit in a single layer no more than 1/4 inch thick). Spread marshmallow creme over chocolate layer. Place remaining dough in a single layer on top of the marshmallow (most easily achieved by flattening the dough into small, flat shingles and laying them together).

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

Recipe courtesy of: Lovin’ From The Oven via Sugar Cooking via Six Sisters’ Stuff via Pinterest

Impulse buying for the win!

I decided to count my cookbook collection the other day. I stopped counting at 200.

I didn’t think that sounded like a huge number. The looks I’ve gotten from friends and colleagues suggest that they don’t agree. Apparently, in an informal poll of eight people, 10 is an acceptable number of cookbooks.

Acceptable is boring.

The following recipe comes from one of my newer cookbook purchases: Six Sisters’ Stuff: Family Recipes, Fun Crafts, and So Much More. It was recommended to me by the lovely folks at amazon.com and it’s one of those recommendations that has worked well.

(Unlike the side ponytail I tried in eighth grade. Yikes!)

The broadcast and print journalists recently moved to a new newsroom at work, so I made brownies to celebrate. The bathroom renovation may not be finished (I’m getting quite the workout running up to the second floor to use their bathroom), but we have treats!

Just don’t spill a crumb on the new carpet.

Mom’s Famous Chocolate Marshmallow Browniesbrownies

  • 1 cup margarine (2 sticks)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 (10-ounce) package of miniature marshmallows

Soften margarine and blend in sugar and cocoa. Beat together and add 4 eggs, one at a time, mixing after each one. Add flour, salt and vanilla and mix well.

Spread on large (10x15x1 inch) greased cookie sheet. Bake 22-25 minutes at 350. Remove from oven and cover entire top with 1 package of miniature marshmallows. Return to oven for 3 minutes, until marshmallows are soft and puffy. Cool and frost with chocolate frosting.

Mom’s Chocolate Frosting

  • 1 stick margarine (1/2 cup), softened
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons vanilla (depending on your taste)
  • 3 tablespoons of cocoa
  • 2 to 3 cups of powdered sugar

Mix all ingredients with a hand mixer until smooth. Add more powdered sugar or milk until you reach desired consistency and spread on top of bars.

Recipe courtesy of Six Sisters’ Stuff: Family Recipes, Fun Crafts, and So Much More by Six Sisters Stuff

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

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

“Comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love.”

Actually, I’m a little sick of apples. Especially peeling and coring them. I should have invested in one of those little contraptions that does it for you, but I’m on a kitchen utensil hiatus for the time being. Read on to find out why.

Day 12: Curried Chicken with Apples

So we all know I have a cookbook addiction. The first step is admitting you have a problem. The second step is to do something about it.

I’m not in a hurry to get moving on that second step.

I made a New Year’s Resolution to get rid of any cookbook in my personal collection that does not have enough recipes to justify leaving it on the bookshelf. In the 2 years, 10 months that have passed since I made that resolution, I have gotten rid of two cookbooks.

Two.

I’m not going to tell you how many I’ve purchased (‘cause my husband reads this blog). It doesn’t help that I receive cookbooks at work, too. Those stay at the office unless I bring them home to cook with for a review.

I’m surrounded by my obsession!

So what does all of this have to do with the Apple Challenge? Well, I bought Jenny Rosenstrach’s “Dinner: A Love Story” a few months ago. This cookbook is the result of a website Rosenstrach launched in 2010 dedicated to the family dinner. Her hope was that the recipes and stories she shared would help families stop dreading the preparation of the evening meal and embrace it at as an experience.

We’ve all been there, right? It’s 6 p.m. on a Tuesday night. We’re tired. We have to take the kids to choir or art or basketball in an hour – can’t we get away with cold cereal for one night?

This is a cookbook that reads like a diary. I kept it by my bedside table for weeks, marking recipes to try, before taking it in the kitchen to experiment.

This may just be my new favorite cookbook. The recipes are delicious, simple and FAST! I needed an apple recipe just like that during the whole apple cake saga, so I made Curried Chicken with Apples.

Yum!

Rosenstrach calls this a starter curry, as she never makes it the same way twice. I’m pretty happy with it as is. Give it a try and tell me of any additions you made!

CURRIED CHICKEN WITH APPLES

  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons oil (olive or canola)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 large stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 large apple (such as Fuji, Granny Smith), peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 3 to 4 medium-size boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size cubes
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • ¼ cup light coconut milk
  • Handful of frozen peas (optional)
  • Few dollops of plain yogurt

Heat the oil in a deep, large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until it begins to soften, about 2 minutes.

Add the garlic, celery, apple and ginger. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes and then add the curry powder, stirring to combine.

Push the ingredients to one side of the pan, add a little more oil, and brown chicken on both sides. (If your pan is too stuffed, you can do this in two batches.) Stir all of the ingredients together, then add the broth and the coconut milk. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add the peas (if using) then cover and cook about 10 more minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

Serve with basmati rice or flatbread and top with a dollop of yogurt and desired garnishes. (Suggested garnishes: Chopped cilantro or mint, sliced almonds or cashews.)

Recipe courtesy of Dinner: A Love Story: It All Begins at the Family Table by Jenny Rosenstrach

Day 13: Apple-Cranberry Breakfast Cookies

I started running again last week.

I’ve been trying to get back to where I was in my running regime when my running buddy moved to Alabama. I start, get so close, and then stop.

OK, the last time I stopped it was because I was freaked out. I run at 5:30 a.m. Now that my husband and I are addicted to “The Walking Dead,” I have a serious fear that a zombie will attack me as I’m running. I tried to run in the evening, but for some reason it hurts my body to run at night, so I stopped (because I hate running on the track at the gym).

Stupid, I know, but at least I didn’t become a slug during my last break. No, I wasn’t running, but I was strength-training. When I decided my neighborhood wasn’t filled with zombies, I was able to bounce back pretty quickly because my legs were stronger.

Yay me!

That being said, I need to attack my eating habits, so I whipped up some Weight Watchers recipes a few days ago.

I like these cookies. My daughter does not.

APPLE-CRANBERRY BREAKFAST COOKIES

  • ¼ cup margarine, no-salt variety
  • ¾ cups dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 ½ cups whole-grain wheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ cups uncooked quick oats
  • ½ cup dried apples, chopped
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ cup dried walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine margarine and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer; beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add eggs and beat for 30 seconds; add applesauce and beat just to mix.

In another bowl, stir together flour, salt, cinnamon and baking soda; add to mixer and beat to form batter. Add oats, apples, cranberries and walnuts; combine by hand.

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper or coat with cooking spray. Drop batter by heaping tablespoons 1 inch apart. Bake until cookies are lightly browned and firm, about 13 to 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes. Move to wire rack and cool completely. Yields 1 cookie per serving. (Note: Store leftovers in an airtight plastic bag or container in the freezer.)

Recipe courtesy of www.weightwatchers.com

Day 14: Raw Apple Snack

I stumbled across a blog of juice recipes a few weeks ago and have been obsessed with owning a juicer ever since.

My husband wasn’t thrilled with the idea. He pointed out all the other kitchen utensils I own and rarely use. He has a point, but with a juicer we could FINALLY consume the recommended daily number of fruits and vegetables, but in an awesome juice form that wouldn’t taste like spinach and broccoli.

He wasn’t convinced, so when I purchased a juicer (It was on sale! And I had a 30 percent off coupon!), I knew I’d have to hide it from him until the time was right.

He found it two days later.

In hindsight, hiding the juicer in the car trunk was not my brightest idea. Neither is the fact that it has sat, unopened, in our pantry since I bought it.

Determined to prove that juicer was not the rice cooker or the Chocolate Factory or even the Magic Bullet, I got it out to make fresh-squeezed orange juice and apple juice for Sunday’s apple recipe (which is a huge hit on Pinterest right now).

I think I’m going to have to use it 30 to 100 million more times to prove that this kitchen utensil will change our lives.

Raw Apple Snack

  • 1 to 2 apples – select a sweet apple like Fuji or Gala (I used Fuji and Honey Crisp)
  • 1 medium orange
  • 1 medium lemon

Juice lemon and orange into a small bowl.

Slice the apple into thin slices.

Place slices into juice bowl and make sure the juice is all over the apple slices. Place bowl in fridge for 30 minutes to 2 hours

Remove from fridge, serve and enjoy!

Note: You can use a green apple in place of one of the other apples to give the plate some contrast for your guests. A green apple will make the snack even more tart.

Recipe courtesy of www.letstalkfitness.com

A bushel and a peck of apples

I may not be blogging every day, but I’m still making my apple recipe every day. Here are days 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.

Day 6: Homestlyle Banana Bread with Applesauce and Cinnamon

I used the last of my homemade applesauce making two loaves of Homestyle Banana Bread with Applesauce and Cinnamon. I took one loaf to an Oktoberfest party and the other was given to my sons’ teachers for their parent-teach conferences potluck.

(They like my kid. I have to do what I can to make sure it stays that way.)

I had no idea how much cinnamon I’d use during this apple challenge. My spice cupboard to really getting cleaned out this month.

HOMESTYLE BANANA BREAD WITH APPLESAUCE AND CINNAMON

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Using a blender or electric mixer, mash the bananas. Add the applesauce, egg whites, vanilla and both sugars. Blend until smooth.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder. Slowly add the banana mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined, then stir in the oil gently until just blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, and bake for 50 to 55 minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe courtesy of 100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know: Engagement Chicken and 99 Other Fabulous Dishes to Get Everything You Want in Life by Cindi Leive and the Editors of Glamour

Day 7: Caramel Stuffed Cider Apple Cookies

I love caramel apples. When I was a little, caramel apples were fall. I’d always get one when my family would go to the local apple orchard and that first sticky bite meant that my favorite season was finally here.

I still love caramel apples, although I don’t let myself indulge as much as I used to. This is mainly because of all the money I’ve paid my dentist over the years. Caramel is not good for my teeth.

Still, I can’t make an apple recipe a day for 31 days without including caramel apples, right?

My dentist would probably say no, so that’s why I made these caramel stuffed apple cider cookies instead.

CARAMEL STUFFED APPLE CIDER COOKIES

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (7.4 oz.) box Alpine Spiced Apple Cider Instant Original Drink Mix (10 packets – found next to hot chocolate mix)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 (14 ounce) bag of Kraft chewy caramels

Preheat oven to 350°. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper (you need this so that the caramel doesn’t stick to the bottom of your cookie sheet).

In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.

With an electric mixer, cream together butter, sugar, salt and all 10 packages of apple cider drink mix powder, until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla and mix well. Gradually add flour mixture to butter/egg mixture. Mix until just combined.

Scoop out cookie dough ball about the size of a walnut (about 2 tablespoons). Flatten the ball of dough slightly in the palm of your hand. Press the unwrapped caramel into the center of your dough and seal the dough around it, covering it completely. Shape the dough into a ball, and place on parchment covered cookie sheets about 3 inches apart.

Bake 11-14 minutes, or until very lightly browned around the edges. They may not look quite done in the center but that is OK. Once the cookies are done, carefully slide the parchment off of the baking sheet right out onto the counter.

Allow cookies to partially cool on the parchment. When cookies are cool enough to be firm but still slightly warm, carefully twist off of parchment and allow to finish cooling upside down on the parchment or on a cookie rack. If they are not upside down while they cool they may drizzle caramel out the bottom.

Eat at room temperature or slightly warmed in the microwave. (Seriously, heat them up in the microwave or risk breaking a tooth on the hard caramel.)

Recipe courtesy of www.thecookingphotographer.com

Day 8: Apple Cinnamon Bread

More bread for my son’s teachers! Also, his middle school football team finished the season undefeated — both A and B squads. I did not expand my knowledge of football one bit attending his games, but the smile on his face after doing well was worth 45 minutes of confusion.

APPLE CINNAMON BREAD

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups peeled and chopped apples (about 1½ to 2 apples)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×4-inch loaf pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper; set the pan aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, allspice and cloves. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add in the oil, applesauce and vanilla and mix until smooth. Next, add the sugar and mix until well-combined.

With the mixer on low speed, gradually add in the flour mixture and mix until the flour is just barely combined. Gently fold in the apples with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

In a small bowl mix together 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over the batter in the loaf pan. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the loaf is golden and a thin knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the bread in the pan for 10 minutes, then run a dull knife around the sides of the loaf and turn it out on a cooling rack, remove the parchment paper and place right-side up. Cool completely before slicing. Wrap leftover loaf in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

Recipe courtesy of www.browneyedbaker.com

Day 9: Dried Apple Rings

It took time for me to build up the enthusiasm to go to my kitchen and make today’s apple recipe. It’s not that I’m getting bored with the challenge, but I am getting tired of washing dishes. With two apple bread recipes almost back-to-back, plus apple cookies and cupcakes, I was ready to make something that didn’t require a lot of dishes.

Dried apple rings was the obvious solution. All you need for this recipe are apples, a cutting board, a sharp knife and lemons. You also need a bowl to soak the apples in, a measuring cup for the lemon juice and water, plus a baking sheet and wire rack for the oven.

OK, this recipe required a lot of dishes, too, but at least most of them could be loaded in the dishwasher. It’s my kids’ job to unload that!

DRIED APPLE RINGS

  • 1 tablespoon citric acid or lemon juice
  • Firm, unblemished apples, cored, peeled or unpeeled, and cut into thin rings

Heat the oven to its lowest setting. Dissolve the citric acid in 1.2 liters cold water or you can make up a solution of one part lemon juice to four parts water. Both are effective but using citric acid will preserve the apples for longer.

Add the apples, ensuring they are completely submerged. Leave to sit for 5 minutes. Do this in batches.

Arrange the apple slices on racks and place in the oven, using a skewer to hold the door ajar. At 170 degrees, they will be read (quite chewy) within two hours.

Recipe adapted from countryliving.co.uk

Day 10: Brown Rice with Apples

Rice is a common side dish at my house. It is one of my favorite foods.

My husband won’t say it — because he’s a nice guy — but he gets tired of rice, so I try to punch it up by adding vegetables, spices, using flavored broth instead of water, etc. Rice is so simple, yet you can do so much with it.

Even add apples.

BROWN RICE WITH APPLES

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 shallots, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 ¼ cups uncooked instant brown rice (can substitute instant wild rice, too)
  • 2 ¼ cups ready-to-serve fat-free, low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 ½ cups chopped unpeeled red apple
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Heat oil in large nonstick saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add shallot and garlic; cook about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in rice, broth, apple and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook 10 to 15 minutes or until rice is tender.

Remove saucepan from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Drain and discard any excess liquid. Stir in parsley.

Recipe courtesy of Pillsbury: Fast and Healthy Cookbook: 350 East Recipes for Everyday by The Pillsbury Company

How do you like those apples?

You know what kind of person I am? I’m the kind of person who has homemade applesauce in her refrigerator.

This month, anyway.

Move days 4 (applesauce) and 5 (applesauce-spice cupcakes) of this month’s apple challenge to the “finished” column of the month-long “to make” list. So far, so good!

10-Minute Applesauce

  • 3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and quartered
  • 3 Fuji apples, peeled, cored, and quartered
  • 1 cup unfiltered apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons cognac or brandy
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a sealable microwave-safe container, combine apples with all other ingredients. Close lid, leaving one corner of lid open to allow steam to escape. Microwave on high for 10 minutes.

Using a hand blender or potato masher, blend to desired consistency. Serve hot immediately or chill for later use.

Recipe courtesy of Good Eats: The Early Years by Alton Brown

APPLESAUCE-SPICE CUPCAKES

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped (optional)
  • Brown-Sugar Cream-Cheese Frosting (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

With an electric mixture on medium-high speed, cream butter and both sugars until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Add applesauce and then flour mixture, beating until just combined after each. Stir in pecans by hand.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

To finish, use a small offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting. Frosted cupcakes can be refrigerated up to 3 days in airtight containers; bring to room temperature before serving.

BROWN-SUGAR CREAM-CHEESE FROSTING

  • 1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar

With an electric mixture on medium-high speed, beat butter, cream cheese, and brown sugar until smooth. Use immediately or refrigerate up to 3 days in an airtight container. Before using, bring to a room temperature and beat on low speed until smooth.

Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes: 175 Inspired Ideas for Everyone’s Favorite Treat by the Editors of Martha Stewart Living

Nuts for blueberries and pecans — who knew?

It’s a busy day today!

My daughter’s Girl Scout troop will me swinging by my house shortly so we can hit the mall in search of birthday items to create birthday bags for a local charity. The idea is to fill a gift bag with the items needed to a family to celebrate a child’s birthday (cake mix, frosting, candles, plates, tissue paper, a small gift, etc.). We put everything in a gift bag, deliver them to the food bank and they will be available to families in need. My daughter’s troop voted to use troop funds to create four birthday bags — two for girls and two for boys.

They are such good girls.

Before that happens, though, my daughter had to sit down and plan tomorrow night’s meeting, as it is her turn to lead. She is presenting activities for the Eating for Beauty badge and one is to determine how what you eat affects your body. She decided to research her favorite snacks and determine how she can make them healthier.

We learned there is no healthy alternative hope for Doritos. We should really stop buying those.

Darn.

The result? A cookie recipe! It’s healthy (wheat germ, pecans, wheat flour, dried blueberries) and tastes good, too. Here’s hoping the other girls like them!

BLUEBERRY OATMEAL COOKIES

  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed or wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Lightly oil or coat two large baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Whisk together the oats, pecans, all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, dried blueberries, flaxseed, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients, and stir until just moistened.

Working in batches, scoop the batter by rounded tablespoon and place on the prepared baking sheets, flattening slightly with the heel of your hand, leaving about 1 inch between.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack. Repeat with remaining batter. (They may look undercooked, but that’s OK. They’ll firm up and this is supposed to be a chewy cookie.)

Nutrition Information per Serving (1 cookie): 120 calories, 6g fat (0.5g saturated, 0.5g omega-3), 75mg sodium, 15g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 2g protein.

Recipe courtesy of Meal Makeover Moms

Chocolate and caramel goodness

I love chocolate and caramel. Ghirardelli’s chocolate and caramel squares are my most favorite candy in the entire universe, but I also love the Russell Stover chocolate and caramel candies, particularly those that pop up during the holidays in various shapes.

Caramel alone is pretty awesome, too, which is why discovering Kraft’s Premium Caramel Bits at Target the other day made a random shopping excursion a great adventure. Imagine what goodness you can make when you don’t have to take the time to unwrap dozens of caramel squares! (Especially when you are me and tend to eat one caramel square for every two you unwrap.)

I bought one bag (Look at that — restraint!) and flipped through my cookbooks for the perfect recipe. Then I turned to Google. Unfortunately, by that time I had opened the bag and discovered eating caramel in circular form was just as good as eating them as squares or covered in chocolate. Luckily, the recipe I decided to make only called for one cup of caramel bits. That’s all I had at that point.

This is a great cookie, but I do think I’ll use parchment paper the next time I make them. The caramel sticking to the cookie sheet made them difficult to remove. Then again, I kind of think I need new cookies sheets. I don’t want to spend the money if parchment paper will solve the problem, but how many batches of cookies do I potentially ruin as a search for a solution?

First world problems.

CHOCOLATE CARAMEL COOKIES

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup caramel bits or chopped up caramel squares
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Set oven to 350°F.

Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar. Add eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well. Stir in caramel bits and chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or just until set. Cool on the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

Recipe courtesy of Rookie Cookie

Happiness dipped in chocolate

It’s a good day when I receive a cookbook in the mail.

I usually get one a week, flip through it, and think of how I could incorporate the recipes into future food covers.

My copy of Lindsay Landis’ “The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook: Cookies, Cakes, Candies, and More” arrived earlier this summer. It’s sat on my desk since then, waiting for me to come up with a reason to reference it in an article.

I do have a story idea in my mind, but then my editor scheduled a features meeting/potluck, so I decided to bring a recipe from the cookbook as my contribution.

I have a lot of friends at work today.

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE DOUGH TRUFFLES

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tbsp milk or cream
  • 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 14 oz. dark chocolate candy coating

Beat butter and sugars and in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add soymilk and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt and mix on low speed (or by hand) until incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips.

Cover and chill dough for 30 minutes or until firm enough to handle.

When dough is firm enough to handle (it may help to lightly flour your hands), form dough into 1″ balls and arrange on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Place sheets in freezer and let chill for 30 minutes.

Melt chocolate candy coating in a double boiler or in microwave according to package directions. Using forks or a dipping tool, dip cookie balls into candy coating to cover. Tap fork on side of pan to remove any excess coating, and return to waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Chill until set. Store, chilled, in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Makes 3 to 4 dozen truffles.

Recipe courtesy of The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook: Cookies, Cakes, Candies, and More