Thursday, September 30, 2010

grown up cheese toast

Becca, here.

Did you ever eat cheese toast? Is that a common thing, or just in my house growing up?
My little sister, Emily, lived on cheese toast. 
2 pieces of white bread with a slice of American cheese on each one, popped in the microwave for a few seconds.  It may not sound so appetizing, but it worked for the picky eater.

Recently I made up a little more "grown up" version of cheese toast.   Emily still might not enjoy it, but I thought it was pretty darn good.

Garden Cheese Toast

You'll need:
1 loaf of your favorite savory bread (the Whole Foods Seeduction bread has been a recent favorite)
1 squash
1 zucchini
2 shallots
(Plus S&P, olive oil)
Mozzarella cheese
Crushed red pepper & garlic powder

1.  Slice zucchini and squash into thin disc-pieces.  Slice shallots just the same.
2.  Sprinkle with S&P and drizzle with plenty of olive oil
3.  Roast in oven for 10-15 minutes on 425 degrees (until lightly browned and soft)

4.  Slice bread into thick pieces. This recipe will make 3-4 servings
5.  Cut mozzarella into thin sheets, enough for each piece of toast to be completely covered
6.  When veggies are done, share their love across the toast pieces.
Sprinkle with crushed red pepper & garlic powder

 7.  Then, pile on the cheese!
8.  Broil on low for about 5 minutes, or until cheese is golden brown.

   You can be like Chad and get artsy with it, or just chomp it down. 
Either one gets your dose of veggies in!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

and the apple strikes again.

Ally, here.

I returned to the apples this week after my mother-in-law sent me a link to Southern Living's favorite apple recipes. After drooling over all of them, I decided on the caramel-apple muffins. And what a great decision that was!

We've been suffering from a bit of a drought here in Lexington, but the heavens finally opened at the beginning of this week and the rains came down. So the husband and I awoke on Monday morning to the beautiful sound of rain falling on the trees and a wonderful temperature far below 90 degrees. A cool, relaxing morning such as this deserved a warm, slow breakfast. So I got to baking.

And let me tell you, these muffins were good. And warm. And gooey. And I consider them a health food (an apple a day keeps the doctor away).

I adapted the recipe to meet my needs (and to keep the husband and myself from consuming 24 muffins in two days).

Here's what you'll need:

for the muffins:
-1 cup sugar
-1/2 cup canola oil
-2 eggs
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
-1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-shake of salt
-1 1/2 cups finely chopped apple (about 1 large apple)
-1 cup pecan pieces (you can add more or less pecans as your taste buds permit)

for the frosting:
-1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
-1/4 cup light brown sugar
-1/4 cup butter
-1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Here's what to do:

the muffins:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan.

2. Peel and finely chop apple(s).

3. In a large bowl, stir sugar, canola oil, eggs, and vanilla.

4. In another bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Once combined, add this to sugar mixture and stir.

5. Fold in finely chopped apples and pecans.

6. Divide into muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes.

the frosting:
1. Put all frosting ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until the frosting reaches a pudding-like consistency.

2. Remove from heat.

3. Poke a hole (about the width of your finger) in the top and the muffin drizzle the frosting over muffins. The hole will catch more frosting and add some extra excitement to every bite! Sprinkle with pecan pieces.

I used a super cute mini-bundt cake pan to make my muffins extra fun. Feel free to do the same! You're going to love it!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

handfuls of fall

Becca, here.

About two years ago, Meagan introduced me to something surprising.

I am not a fan of candy corn. 
I hear it's one of those "you hate it or you love it" candies. 
And I hate it.

But like other things in the culinary world, sometimes when you add just the right thing,
it turns into something spectacular. Like...

Candy Corn & Peanuts. 

it's like a little handful of fall in every bite.

All you need is 1 bag of candy corn, and 1 jar of roasted, salted peanuts.  
Mix them together, and make sure that you get a little bit of both in every bite.  
(Does the "bite of both" sound familiar? See that delicious pork chop post)

Meagan once said it tastes like eating a Payday.  Now, I've actually never had one, but I think I'll stick with this addicting munch. Trust me, you can't keep your fingers out of the jar.

What's your favorite fall eat?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

meat. fruit. brown sugar. yes.

Ally, here.

I've been eating pork chops for a few years now. I'm a huge fan of their versatility. They taste good seasoned. They taste good marinated. They taste good baked and grilled. And now I know that they taste good with apples.

In my quest to use all of the apples from our apple-picking adventure, I dove into the world of cooking, rather than baking, with apples. And it turned out quite well, if I may say so myself. I created some apple brown sugar pork chops, perfect for serving at an autumn dinner.

Here's what you'll need:

-2 pork chops (I would recommend getting a thicker variety than I used so they have more time to cook and absorb all the flavors)
-salt and pepper
-1 tbsp butter
-1 apple, thinly sliced
-2/3 cup brown sugar

Here's what to do:

1. Sprinkle the pork chops with salt and pepper. Brown the meat and remove from the pan.

2. Melt butter in the same pan.

3. Add apple slices and brown sugar. Mix together and let simmer, about 2 minutes.

4. Return pork chops to the pan and cook thoroughly.

I recommend getting some meat and some apples in each bite. The flavor is a bit reminiscent of maple syrup. Yum. You're going to love it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

waffle maker, shwaffle maker

Becca, here.

A while ago Hannah sent me a recipe that opened my eyes to the world of the waffle maker.  Problem:  I was not the proud owner of a waffle iron.  That is until the day I turned 21!
...Isn't that what all 21 year olds get for their birthday?

So with fun food adventures in mind, picture this:
A bowl of brownie batter.  A waffle iron.

Put the two together and you have love at first "waffle"
Because who said you  only used Aunt Jemima in there?
I sure never did.


(Ally has recently inspired cinnamon butter in my life.  
She's right, it does magic on everything! Including chocolate waffles.)

1. Pick your favorite brownie recipe.
2. Skip the oven.
3. Make sure you spray the plates really well before pouring the batter in!
4. Add pour straight into the waffle maker!
5. Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the indicator light goes off.
6. Unplug the waffle iron and let the brownies cool.  It's much easier to get them out when they aren't as hot!

7. Enjoy! & go add _______ batter to your "waffle" iron right this instant!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

apples to apples

Ally, here.

We are approaching the most wonderful season of fall here in the great state of Kentucky. And as far as food goes, this means apples. Lots and lots of wonderful, ripe-for-the-picking apples.

The husband and I ventured out this weekend to Evans Orchard for the apple festival. This is essentially a giant day of excitement. Booths selling everything from kettle corn to purses, a petting zoo, a corn maze, and, of course, rows and rows of apple trees.

So we picked ourselves up a bag and wandered through the apple aisles, picking the prettiest fruits of them all. We ended up filling a bag with 20-something red and green delights.

And then for the best part of the day, caramel apples. There are few things in life better than caramel apples. We ate and enjoyed. And spent the rest of the day picking peanuts out of our teeth.

So the next few posts from me will be apple-related dishes. I've already made a few breakfast (or shameless snack) items. Apple scones, using a previously-blogged recipe, substituting 1/2 cup chopped apples for the craisins, and apple oatmeal muffins.

So get out there and visit a local orchard. Pick your own apples. And check back here for some (hopefully) wonderful apple recipes!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

scones: the breakfast (lunch, and dinner) of champions

Ally, here.

What'scone on?

I was looking through the refrigerator last night and gasped in dismay when I saw that the carton of whipping cream hiding in the back was about to expire. I hate throwing things away, so I immediately searched for something I could bake.


I have always been turned off by scones. They are hard and bland and crumbly and awful.

At least that was my thought until a few months ago. My sister-in-law works for a bakery (Q&A Sweet Treats, check them out) that makes the most amazing scones. Seriously. They are wonderful. She made about a dozen of them on a weekend trip to the lake. Even the crumbs were devoured. They are that good.

Anywho, my opinion on scones has certainly changed since tasting that culinary masterpiece. So I decided to try making some for myself. I think I've discovered a recipe that is easily adaptable to your scone needs and fruit choices. I've adapted it from here.

I used craisins and white chocolate chips in mine. I tried to use the last of several ingredients that I had in the house, so this is really a hodge-podge of leftovers (proof that the right combination of random things can taste really wonderful). You can substitute the fruit of your choosing, and you don't have to add the white chocolate chips.

Here's what you need:

-2 cups pancake/waffle mix (I used Aunt Jemima's whole wheat mix)
-1/3 cup dried cranberries
-1/3 cup white chocolate chips
-3 tablespoons granulated sugar (plus more for sprinkling on top)
-1/2 cup whipping cream
-1 egg
-a tiny bit of milk

Here's what to do:

1. Preheat the oven to 425.

2. Combine the pancake mix, cranberries, white chocolate chips, sugar, whipping cream, and egg in a bowl until they form a soft dough.

3. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it on a flat surface until the dough holds together well (about 6 times).

4. Roll dough into a ball and flatten into an 8-inch round. Brush the top of the dough with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Cut the round into 8 pieces (like you would cut a pizza), but don't separate.

5. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the scones are golden brown. Break the scones apart before serving.

Now, if you desire a crunchier, drier scone, you can use a little less whipping cream, probably about 1/3 cup, rather than 1/2. But I prefer the richer texture of this scone with 1/2 cup whipping cream.

I recommend serving these for breakfast with a warm cup of coffee. (For all of you Lexingtonians, I suggest a cup of hazelnut coffee from Lexington Coffee and Tea.) Or if you aren't a coffee drinker, a tall glass of milk should do the trick.

But be warned, you will probably want to eat a scone with lunch and dinner, as well. I did just that.

Try it for yourself. You're going to love it.

a month of glorious food

Ally, here.

It's been quite a while since my last post. A lot has happened over the past month. I got married. I went on my first vacation with the husband. I moved into a teeny, tiny studio apartment (don't worry, the kitchen is quite functional). And I ate a heck of a lot of good food while doing all of the above.

So let's take a little trip down memory lane as we delve into the wonders that have been digested over the past 31 days.

It all started with the wedding, catered by my dear friend, Jackie Joseph. As a girl who grew up eating dessert first (who knows if you'll make it to the end of the meal?), I had to have a dessert reception. Pies, cookies, cheesecakes, fruit tarts, wedding cake, brownies. We had it all.

Onto the honeymoon. The husband and I ate incredibly well. I'm hoping to recreate some of these wonders in my very own kitchen. Farmer's market pizza.  Beignets with a honey marmalade dipping sauce.

Cinnamon roll french toast. Raspberry scones. Grouper. Lobster. Gelato. Barbecue. Blueberry cake doughnuts.

Let me tell you a little something about these doughnuts. I've never been an adventurous doughnut eater. I'm a Krispy Kreme purist. But the moment the husband and I saw Charlie's Donut Truck parked by the beach, my heart was won over. Never have I tasted a doughnut so glorious. In fact, ol' Charlie won our breakfast money four times that week. If you are ever in the Rosemary Beach area, tell Charlie 'hi' for us. We love him.

The glory of eating continued once we returned to Kentucky. Now the proud owner of my very own kitchen (and about a million new cookbooks, thanks to our wedding guests), I have been experimenting with everything from banana bread to gumbo. Let me tell you, there is nothing more satisfying than creating a delicious meal from scratch. Now, I've had my successes and my failures in the kitchen this month, but I've had a blast making both.

The most recent creation is soon to be blogged. You're going to love it.

Friday, September 3, 2010

local goodness

Becca, here.

At my Aunt's suggestion, I checked out Brew Ha Ha, a local coffee shop that turns out to be only a few miles from my apartment.  I went there with her enthusiasm of their cake balls in mind.  Specifically, their carrot cake flavor.
Unfortunatley there was no carrot cake flavor, but much more to my surprise were multiple other flavors that I would have never even imagined.  So here's a sneak peak at cake balls.  Have decided not to try them just yet, but bring them along to my sister's this weekend.  So enjoy the pictures, and go check Brew Ha Ha out!

It was tough to decide between flavors, but here's what I ended up with. 
 (Not sure how we'll split 6 among 4 of us this weekend either)

flavor: "shwedy" which is yellow cake with carmel and dark chocolate 
...& a dash of sea salt on top

flavor: banana's foster
(it was the last one left, so i'm hoping it's because everyone loved them)

flavor: cinnamon roll
(fun side note: the owner said she started this one at Mardi Gras and colored 
the sugar on top purple, green, and gold.  
Apparently people loved them so much she couldn't just make them once a year!)

The other 2 are called "Number 11" which are a cheesecake ball.  Oh goodness...all I can do now is wait and admire. And practice lots of self-control to save them for later on this weekend.

Now for your turn! Go check out YOUR local coffee shops!