11/25/14

Apple Pieke


Easy as a cake and as delicious as a pie, this apple pieke is one of my favorite apple desserts. I've tried many apple pie recipes through the years and though I have some I love, none of them can touch this recipe in terms of apple flavor, especially for the time invested. It is as easy as peeling apples, mixing a topping and letting it bake. Though not one of the most elegant looking desserts, it makes up for its humble looks with a mixture of sweet-tart apples with just the right amount of softness, a hint of cinnamon and a deliciously, buttery sweet topping. I don't think I have to tell you that this is also amazing topped with vanilla ice cream. If you want to add an easy, crowd pleasing apple dessert to your Thanksgiving table, this is the one.


Apple Pieke

Heat Oven To 350 Published 11/25/2014
Apple Pieke

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs Granny Smith apples (about 6-8 apples) peeled and sliced (No substitutions on apple variety or the pieke will be too sweet)
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 9 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350 and grease a 9x13 glas baking dish with butter. Add the sliced apples, 1 cup sugar and the cinnamon. Stir to combine and spread evenly across the bottom of the pan. Slice 1 tablespoon of butter into small pieces and dot evenly over the top of the apple mixture.
  2. In a medium bowl using an electric mixer, combine remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar and 8 tablespoons butter until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at at time, until mixture is smooth. Beat in the flour just until combined. (The batter will be stiff) Spoon batter evenly over apples and spread so that the apples are covered.
  3. Bake 30 minutes or until top is browned. Cool 15 -20 minutes before serving. Can also be chilled at room temperature or cold.
Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 20 mins.
Cook time: 30 mins.
Total time: 50 mins.
Recipe Source: sarahmoulton.com

11/19/14

S'mores Cheesecake


Please forgive me for not sharing this recipe years ago. I wanted to, I really did, but the problem with a recipe this good is that I always make it to share, and therefore I never get a chance to photograph it before slicing it up. Or after, since there are rarely leftovers. This time, however, I managed to do both, and I'm so excited to finally share it with you. Hopefully you will forgive me for being so selfish with such a delicious recipe.

And delicious it is, friends. So, so delicious. Buttery graham crust. Milk chocolate cheesecake. A fluffy, toasted marshmallow creme on top. It is even more delicious than it sounds. The chocolate cheesecake alone is sheer perfection, and one I've made by itself before because it turns out so well. I have never gotten cracks in it, despite not baking it in a water bath and not even being that careful most of the time knowing that the top will be covered with a fluffy marshmallow layer. True to s'mores form, the cheesecake is a sweet, milk chocolate. Don't expect dark chocolate, although you could do that if you want. For me, the milk chocolate is required for true s'mores flavor. The marshmallow topping is also delicious in its own right, and is just thick, fluffy and sweet enough to stand in for marshmallows. A little roasting under the broiler gives it the delicious toasted flavor that makes a s'more a s'more. No campfire required.




S'mores Cheesecake

Heat Oven To 350 Published 11/19/2014
S'mores Cheesecake

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from ~9 whole crackers ground fine in a food processor)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 9 ounces milk chocolate bar (not chips) chopped
  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream, at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 12 large marshmallows, cut into quarters with wet kitchen scissors (mini marshmallows have too much cornstarch coating to work well as a sub here)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. For the crust: Make sure oven rack is in the center of the oven and heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix graham crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a medium bowl. Press mixture on the bottom of a 9" diameter springform pan. Bake in preheated oven until crust is starting to brown, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Reduced oven temperature to 325 degrees.
  2. For the filling: In a double boiler or a microwave at 50% power, melt chocolate. Cool to lukewarm, stirring occasionally.
  3. In a food processor, combine cream cheese, sugar and salt and process until smooth. With the processor running, add whipping cream and process just until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, with the motor running, stopping to scraped down sides after each addition.
  4. When the last egg has been added and the mixture is processed smooth, pour it into the springform pan over the cooled crust and bake until the cheesecake is slightly puffed and has barely set in the center (It will look shiny in the very middle and jiggle slightly when the pan is gently shaken.) about 55-65 minutes. Remove cake from oven and place on cooling rack. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the sides of the pan. Cool on the counter for an hour, then place in the fridge and chill, uncovered, 8 hours or overnight. The cake can be made up to 2 days ahead.
  5. For the topping: Whisk the sugar, egg whites, 3 tablespoons water, cream of tartar and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a large metal or glass bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan of boiling water (making sure the water doesn't actually touch the bowl) and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens and is hot to touch. This can take anywhere from about 5 minutes to 15 depending on whether your bowl is metal or glass and how thick it is. The mixture will whiten as it starts to thicken but make sure it is hot to the touch before you move on to the next step.
  6. Remove bowl from heat (leave pan of water simmering on the stove) and stir in marshmallows. Let stand until the marshmallows are starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Place bowl back over simmering water and, using a hand held electric mixer, beat the mixture until stiff peaks form, about 4-8 minutes. (Again, this is variable. Go by visual clues over time.) Beat in vanilla.
  7. Spoon topping onto cheesecake, and spread with an offset spatula. Use spatula to make decorative peaks. Let stand until set, about 15 minutes.
  8. Preheat broiler. Place cheesecake 4+ inches from broiler elements and broil until topping is lightly browned in spots. You must watch this closely because it will not take long to go from lightly browned to burnt. Chill cake until cold.
Yield: 8-10 servings
Prep Time: 35 mins.
Cook time: 9 hrs. 20 mins. Includes 8 hours chilling time
Total time: 9 hrs. 55 mins.
Recipe Source: adapted slightly from Bon Appetit

11/13/14

Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash


When I first moved to Minnesota I kept the Vermont plates on my car for a little while since I was a student and didn't consider myself "permanent" there. One thing I noticed with the out of state plates was that nearly every time I was doing something with my car - filling the tank, getting a car wash, getting the oil changed - someone would ask me about the winters in Vermont. They always wanted to know how bad they were. I thought it was weird for a while until I realized that they were asking because they wanted to know how Vermont winters stacked up against Minnesota winters. They were honestly curious. And after a few years living there, I started to realize why. You see, when you get a foot of snow at the beginning of November, like some parts of Minnesota got this week, or when it is -30 below and your car won't start, or when you know what it feels like to have your eyelashes freeze together, you start to take sick pride in just how horrible the winters are. You have to tell yourself that you are surviving the worst winters possible so that you don't get depressed about the fact that you've been bundling up to go outside for months and you are still months away from wearing sandals. Other places may have tough winters, but you are surviving the toughest.

In honor of all the first snowfalls that fell across parts of the country this week, I'm posting this very wintery comfort food dish. I love squash and sausage, so trying this recipe out I was fairly certain I would like it, but I was surprised at how well the two went together. The roasted acorn squash has a sweet, mellow flavor that balances the salty, spicy sausage really well. The sour cream and cheese  mixed in give the filling a delicious creaminess that is rich without being over-the-top decadent. Celery adds crunch and mushrooms add flavor to a very simple stuffing that is easy to put together. I streamlined the recipe a little bit and started the squash cooking in the microwave while the filling was being cooked so that the overall baking time was an hour less. This recipe can also be lightened up a bit by using turkey sausage and low fat sour cream and it is still rich, delicious and filling. This is the kind of meal that makes you look forward to cold nights and staying in and watching the snow fall. Even in the middle of November.




Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash

Heat Oven To 350 Published 11/14/2014
Sausage Stuffed Squash

Ingredients

  • 2 acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • 1 pound ground sausage
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Place squash cut side down on a microwave safe plate and add 2 tablespoons of water to the plate. Microwave 5-6 minutes or until squash is starting to get tender.
  2. While squash is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir the sausage until browned, about 5-7 minutes. Drain fat and discard. Add celery, mushrooms and onion. Cook and stir until celery is softened, 5-10 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.
  3. Beat egg in a large bowl and stir in sour cream and Parmesan cheese. Stir the cheese mixture into the sausage mixture. Divide among the cooked acorn squash halves and place, upright, in a 9x13 baking dish. Bake in oven until the filling is heated through, about 20 minutes.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 mins.
Cook time: 40 mins.
Total time: 50 mins.
Recipe Source: adapted slightly from allrecipes.com

11/4/14

Cranberry Oatmeal Bars


Happy Election Day! I love Election Day partly because I just love the feeling I get after I finish voting. It makes me feel so proud to live in this country and for the right we have to vote. The good feeling makes it worth the hassle of going to polling place and waiting in a line, even the three hour wait I had a couple years ago. And the possibly horrible experience waiting for me this year when I bring a toddler and a seven month old along. Still worth it! If you've voted, you probably know what I'm talking about. 

The good feeling from voting is usually reward enough, but in case you want to reward yourself further, here are some cranberry oatmeal bars you should make, like, today. Or as soon as possible. They are super easy, super tasty, and perfect for this time of year. They are sweet and tart and perfectly soft, yet chewy. This is one of only a handful of treats I've made that my husband has eaten repeated servings of. The whole pan disappeared much faster than is healthy for our family but the gluttony certainly tasted good. This is a perfect recipe for a fall potluck or sweet treat on a chilly fall night. 


Cranberry Oatmeal Bars

Heat Oven To 350 Published 10/28/2014
Cranberry Oatmeal Bars

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter, melted (1 1/2 sticks)
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats (not the instant or quick cooking kind)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350 and spray an 8x8 pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugars, egg, vanilla and cinnamon. Stir in remaining ingredients and stir until just combined. (Mixture will be thick)
  2. Spread batter in prepared pan and bake 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool bars in the pan before cutting into squares and serving.
Yield: 16 servings
Prep Time: 10 mins.
Cook time: 35 mins.
Total time: 45 mins.
Recipe Source: adapted slightly from www.penzeys.com

10/27/14

Potatoes O'Brien


This is my favorite potato dish. More than mashed or smashed or scalloped or baked or any other way to make potatoes, this simple little hash is my first choice. It is a mixture of perfectly tender, but not mushy, potatoes, sweet and soft bell peppers, delicious onions and just enough Worcestershire sauce to make you wonder what that great seasoning is over it all. It may seem like a lot of chopping at first, but I promise that is the hardest part of making it. And there is no peeling required, which is good because peeling potatoes ranks at the bottom of my list of cooking tasks I like to do. The hash works great as a breakfast or lunch dish, but equally well as a dinner or side dish. Try it once and you'll be looking for excuses to make it again and again and again.


Potatoes O'Brien

Heat Oven To 350 Published 10/27/2014
Potatoes O'Brien

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds red potatoes chopped in 1/2 inch pieces (No substitutions here. Other potato varieties will break down and get mushy during cooking in this recipe)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, your color choice, chopped in 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 green onions, sliced thin

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add potatoes, onion and peppers and toss to coat with the oil.
  2. Stir in the broth, Worcestershire sauce and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Cover the skillet and let cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Remove the lid from the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated and potatoes are starting to brown, 12-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and top with green onions before serving.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time:10 mins.
Cook time: 35 mins.
Total time: 45 mins.
Recipe Source: Cook's Country

10/20/14

Sweet and Sour Joes with Sesame Ginger Slaw


There are so many reasons why I love these sweet and sour sloppy joes. First of all, I'm a fan of sloppy joes in general. Saucy meat on a freshly cut bun? Delicious. Second of all, the sweet in this recipe comes from maple syrup. As any good former Vermonter, I love maple syrup in just about everything. It has the most amazing, distinct sweet flavor. (I'm talking about real maple syrup here, not the Aunt Jemima stuff.) Thirdly, the sesame ginger slaw that goes on top of these joes is heavenly all by itself, but especially good with the sweet, tangy, spicy meat sauce. It's a happy combination of flavors that make this Asian take on sloppy joes as delicious as the original. Despite the long list of ingredients, the joes and the slaw are quick to put together and easy as well, making this a weeknight meal that you'll come back to again and again.


Sweet and Sour Joes with Sesame Ginger Slaw

Heat Oven To 350 Published 10/20/2014
Sweet and Sour Joes

Ingredients

  • For the Sweet and Sour Joes:
  • 1.5 pounds ground beef or turkey
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (or agave)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 16 oz jar salsa (mild, medium or hot based on your taste)
  • 6 hamburger buns
  • For the Sesame Ginger Slaw:
  • 1 package coleslaw mix (16 oz) or 1/2 head of cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, brown ground beef or turkey and chopped garlic over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink. Add garlic and cook and stir an additional minute.
  2. Stir in the maple syrup, vinegar and salsa. Lower the heat to low and cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. While meat is simmering, make the slaw. Combine the coleslaw mix, carrots, green onion, cilantro and sesame seeds in a large bowl. In a small bowl, stir together sesame oil, olive oil, soy sauce, vinegar, honey, ginger and lemon juice. Add dressing ingredients to coleslaw mix and stir to mix. Let stand 10 minutes. Taste and add more soy sauce or salt to taste if needed.
  4. When meat has finished simmering, serve over hamburger buns. Top with sesame ginger slaw.
Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 25 mins.
Cook time: 35 mins.
Total time: 60 mins.

Recipe Source: Sweet and sour joes adapted from the Vermont Maple Cookbook; Sesame Ginger slaw adapted from seasonwithspice.com

10/16/14

Thursday Thoughts - Tongue Tie


Let's talk, guys. Let's talk about tongue tie. A little weird for a food blog, but hopefully not too weird. I'm going to share some of my experience with my daughter and tongue tie just because I'm hoping it might help out some other mom reading this, and partially to explain my very long absence from posting. So let's talk, guys, in five thoughts.

1. Tongue tie isn't just forgetting your words when you are flustered. It's a real condition, officially called ankyloglossia. It is when there is an unusually short or thick membrane under the tongue that restricts its movement. There are varying degrees of severity, but basically it affects how far a tongue can stick out or up. I don't have the space, pictures or knowledge to fully explain the condition here and I don't even want to pretend to be an expert, so I will direct you to http://www.tonguetie.net if you want to find more info on the condition.

2. Tongue tie runs in families. I had tongue tie. And lo and behold, my second daughter was born with it. And chances are, she got her mommy and daddy's nearsightedness, too, poor thing. Ahhh, genetics. Let's hope she forgives me one day for not being Giselle Bundchen.


3.  Tongue tie can really mess with breastfeeding. Nursing requires a baby to use their tongue to get milk from mama, and with a restricted tongue it either means they can't get much milk or they often have a tight, not deep latch that is painful for mama. Because of this, it used to be a fairly routine procedure to clip the thick membrane under the tongue right after birth if a baby was born with tongue tie. When bottle feeding became more common than breastfeeding, this practice stopped, since a restricted tongue doesn't cause as many problems with bottle feeding. Today, the general feeling is that leaving things alone unless they are causing problems with nursing is the best practice.

4. Problem is, tongue tie can affect more than just nursing. This is where my story comes in. Clara nursed great. I knew she was tongue tied since she had been diagnosed at the hospital, but things went great feeding-wise. She gained weight like a champ. She was and is a chubby, big baby, with kissable cheeks and lovely fat rolls on her legs. So obviously she is getting the nutrition she needs. Months 1-4ish were fairly normal as far as babies go. Clara has a very happy disposition, so I didn't really notice that much that she also was fairly gassy as far as babies go. (For those that haven't had kids - gassy means fussy a lot of the time. Trapped gas is painful, and very much so for a baby who is just getting used to their little body and how everything works.) Fast forward to about 4 months old and Clara starts to get fussier. The gas problems become more evident and as she consolidates her sleep patterns it becomes more obvious that gas is making it so she can't sleep at times. Or wakes her up from sleep. She starts to protest sleep when she is gassy. This is most of the day and several times at night. Clara also starts to be clingy and only wants to be with mom because most of the time, she feels pretty miserable. All these observations have been made in retrospect because sometimes when you are in the thick of things, its hard to figure out what is going on. I tried every baby gas relief product out there, but nothing worked. By six months Clara was waking up at least once a night, often twice, screaming in pain for an hour or so and naps were 30 minute cat naps when she got so exhausted during the day that she couldn't keep her eyes open anymore. She wanted to be held most of the day and seemed scared of going to other people.

It was when we tried to start solids that I started to suspect that tongue tie might be causing some of these problems. I knew my first daughter had been unusually easy to spoon feed, so I thought the fact that Clara seemed to drool food all over her face and couldn't swallow food down was just normal baby behavior. Then I started watching her try to eat more closely and realized that she couldn't physically swallow the baby food. Her tongue couldn't touch the roof of her mouth so to get any food down she would slurp it. This also introduced more air into her system, which meant more gas. And more pain and fussiness. I stopped the solids, toughed it out with a baby that was now waking up to eat at night as well as waking up with gas pains.

Out of desperation, I decided to look up tongue tie to see if it could be affecting Clara's eating and it was like a light went on. For one, I found out that it can affect more than just the ability of a baby to latch and get milk. It can affect how they swallow and a lot of times, a tied baby will swallow more air when they are nursing. Swallowed air = more gassy. I think for Clara this showed up more when she was older because she was eating faster.


Fast forward to Clara's 6 month check up. Thank goodness for good pediatricians. For one, my pediatrician listens to me. At that point I was tired beyond tired and utterly overwhelmed. Earlier that week I had a meltdown on the phone just trying to have a normal conversation with someone from church. I went through our problems with him and he listened. I laid out why I thought it might be related to tongue tie. He listened. Now, let me say that my pediatrician in general is the type that wants to leave things alone. He would rather not revise (clip) a tie tongue unless necessary. But he listened to me and when I said I wanted it done, he agreed to do it. I'm grateful that he didn't get on a high horse on principal and tell me I was imagining things.

Within two weeks, Clara was a different baby. Within a few days she figured out how to use her newly freed tongue to swallow baby food. She loves, loves, loves eating solid food. It's like she can't imagine where this wonderful stuff has been all her life. (Yep, she probably inherited that from me as well.) She stopped getting up at night to eat. The gas pains also gradually went away. We started probiotics under the advice of our pediatrician, and that helped, and as she learned to use her tongue better she stopped swallowing as much air while she was nursing. She stopped getting up at night with gas pains, and let me tell you, sleeping through the night feels. so. good. She also started taking naps during the day, real 1-2 hour naps and not the sad 30 minute cat naps she took when she wasn't feeling well. She's no longer super clingy and lets other people hold her and play with her. She is happy beyond happy and smiles at everyone around her. In fact, I just noticed the other day that she has her first tooth. I had no idea she was even teething. She wasn't fussy and never even woke up at night. It's like life is amazing without gas pain, and I have to agree with her.


5. I'm in favor of getting tongue ties revised. This is probably no surprise after reading the experience I had with Clara. It made a world of difference for us. For the record for those of you who are thinking it is a little barbaric, revising a tongue tie means cutting the membrane under the tongue. Usually there are very few nerves or veins so it isn't that painful for the baby or even that traumatic. Clara cried as much getting her shots as she did after her revision, which was about three minutes. She smiled at the nurse on our way out. Tongue tie revision is not cutting a tongue. It's freeing an overly restricted tongue so it can work like it is supposed to. If you are a mom who thinks their baby has a tongue tie, get it checked out! And if your doctor doesn't listen to you, find someone who will. Pediatric dentists and ENTs can revise tongue ties, too.

If you want to know more about tongue tie, here are some excellent resources:

Diagnosing tongue tie in babies:  http://www.drghaheri.com/blog/2014/2/15/how-to-examine-a-baby-for-tongue-tie-or-lip-tie

General advice from moms who have been there, seen everything, as well as a list of preferred providers that are experienced in diagnosing and revising tongue tie: https://www.facebook.com/groups/tonguetiebabies/ (Closed group, just ask to join.)


So that's it for my tongue tie post. I'll be back tomorrow with a regular food post. Sorry for such a long post on a non-food subject, but I'm hoping someone can benefit from this information and my experiences. And I hope you all can forgive me for such a long break from posting. We were in survival mode for quite a while so blogging was put on the back burner.



 
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