Friday, October 28, 2016

Caramel Apple Pull Apart

So, really.....nothing screams FALL like Granny Smith apples, pecans, caramel sauce and cinnamon, right? Well, this little goody has it all. Warning - if you're counting calories (and sugar content), you might want to bypass this one and head for the carrot sticks instead. But, if your week has been one for the record books, then this dreamy, delicious caramel apple pull apart will certainly be the perfect hug on a plate. (It's all about moderation, anyway).

Caramel Apple Pull-Apart

2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 c. pecans, roughly chopped
12.25 oz. jar of caramel sauce (ice cream topping)
2 13oz. tubes of prepared cinnamon rolls (8 rolls each)
1 tsp. lemon juice
½ c. butter, melted
1 c. granulated sugar
1 ½ Tbsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°

Spray inside of a Bundt cake pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

Place apple pieces in medium bowl. Toss with lemon juice.

Add chopped pecans.

Pour caramel sauce over apples and use a spatula to stir and mix well making sure to coat apples and evenly distribute. Pour caramel apple mixture into Bundt cake pan and spread evenly.

Cut each cinnamon roll into fourths. (Tip: I stacked one cinnamon roll on top of the other. Slice through both in half and then in fourths).

Place all cinnamon pieces in bowl of melted butter. Use spatula to turn over and coat all pieces.

Pour sugar and cinnamon in 1-gallon plastic bag and either whisk or gently shake to distribute evenly.

Pour cinnamon roll pieces in plastic bag, seal the bag and shake to coat each piece.
Pour cinnamon roll pieces over top of apple mixture in Bundt cake pan. Place on middle rack in preheated oven.

Bake 35-37 minutes. Let it cool about 20-30 minutes before turning out on round dish.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Best-Ever Broccoli Cheese Soup

You will LOVE this thick, rich soup on a chilly fall evening. Great with sandwiches or wraps OR just a really big spoon! A great addition to your soup and sandwich night :) 

I created this recipe using Gainey Vineyard's Italian Seasoning and you'll be so proud of me because I did not add any additional salt. Gainey's Italian Seasoning is loaded with great flavor and there was already enough salt in the ham and the cheese. Also, I opted for reduced fat milk instead of heavy cream with this recipe. :)

Best-Ever Broccoli Cheese Soup

1 medium head of broccoli, cut into chunks leaving about half of stem with each floret
1 medium carrot, diced
2 Tbsp. butter
½ red onion, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
½ tsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 c. cooked ham, diced
16 oz. pkg of processed cheese, cut into chunks (yes, the kind in the box) J
2 c. milk (I used 2% reduced fat)

Place chopped broccoli and diced carrots in small sauce pot. Fill about half-way with water. Bring to boil. Partially cover with lid and allow to cook at a low boil for about 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Return broccoli and carrots to pot.

Use a potato masher to mash broccoli and carrots leaving some pieces larger than others. Set aside.

Meanwhile, melt butter in larger pot. Add diced onion and celery and sprinkle with pepper. Cook and stir over medium low heat until onions are opaque (about 5 minutes).

Sprinkle flour over onions and celery. Cook and stir about 8 minutes. Stir in diced ham.

Add cheese and milk. Keep the heat at medium low to avoid scorching. Stir until cheese is melted.

Once cheese is melted, stir in Italian seasoning.

Add broccoli and carrot mixture and stir well to combine all ingredients. Cover and simmer for at least 20 minutes (but don’t let it boil). Serve hot.

(NOTE: this is sort of a thick soup, but if you’d prefer it a little thinner, just add a little more milk until you reach the desired consistency).


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Fun with Pizzelles

I bought myself an early Christmas present and I’ve been having SO much fun with it. It’s a Pizzelle maker (pronounced pee-sell…..no wonder the gal at Bed, Bath and Beyond wrinkled up her forehead at me when I asked for a “pizz-elly,” lol. Bless her heart). Anyway, I ordered this little beauty online through Williams Sonoma.

I started with a basic pizzelle recipe and once I’d done all I could with that, I moved on to my own variation. I wanted to try a pumpkin version. Oh my gosh, you can do SSOOO much with this thing. I can’t wait to try a savory recipe! I have lots of ideas rolling around my flour-coated brain and, of course, I’ll share them right here.

I pulled these off the hot pizzelle plates and rolled them using the wooden dowel that came with it. I piped in (prepared) blueberry cream cheese spread.....OH, so good!

These were made using the basic recipe. Just kept them flat to cool, then spread chocolate hazelnut spread and added banana slices.

This is my pumpkin version. I put them immediately into little ramekins and used my wooden tamping tool to help shape it while it cooled. I filled these with (prepared) vanilla pudding and topped them with almond granola. 

Basic Vanilla Pizelles Recipe 
(This is not my recipe. Since I had never made these before, I wanted a basic recipe that I could learn and work from. I found this one HERE)

3 large eggs
¾ c. sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
1 ¾ c. all-purpose flour, sifted
2 tsp. baking powder
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Beat eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl approximately 2 to 3 minutes, until they’re fluffy and a light yellow color.

Slowly drizzle in melted and cooled butter and add vanilla extract.

Using a spatula, fold in flour and baking powder just until incorporated into the wet ingredients.

Bake one Tbsp per mold (I used a cook dough scoop) in pizzelle maker until golden brown, about 30 seconds. Remove and cool on rack.
My Pumpkin Version

Pumpkin Pizzelles (This one IS my recipe)

3 eggs
1 c. sugar
¾ c. packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. honey
½ c. pumpkin puree
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Cream eggs, sugar and brown sugar together in large bowl of a stand mixer. Add honey and pumpkin and continue mixing until well incorporated.

Add vanilla extract and drizzle melted, cooled butter with the machine running.

In separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder and cinnamon.

Use a spatula to gently fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients until well combined.

Bake one Tbsp per mold (I used a cook dough scoop) in pizzelle maker until golden brown, about 30 seconds. Remove and cool on rack.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Braised Boneless Pork Ribs

I wish you could smell my kitchen right now. As my dearly loved father-in-love would have said, "It smells awfully friendly in here!" (Oh, how I miss him).

I put this recipe together today for Gainey Vineyard using their delicious Rosemary Garlic seasoning mix and their amazing Riesling wine.

This was so simple and the reward SO great! Served it with rice and steamed asparagus. But really...you gotta try this one. So simple and delicious and your family will think you've spent all day on it :)

Braised Boneless Pork Ribs

3 lbs. pork rib meat
½ c. all-purpose flour
1 ½ Tbsp. Gainey Vineyard Rosemary Garlic Seasoning
1-2 Tbsp. Canola oil
Salt and pepper
¾ c. Gainey Vineyard Riesling Wine
1 Tbsp. Italian parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°

Place pork meat in a 1-gallon plastic bag. Add flour and toss to coat.

Add oil to Dutch oven on stove top over medium heat.

Work in batches adding meat to hot oil. Cook to lightly brown both sides of meat (about 1 minute per side). Sprinkle each side with seasoning mix and salt and pepper. Remove each piece of meat to a plate as it browns.

Return all the meat to the pot after it has browned. Slowly add wine and sprinkle with Italian parsley. Bring to a boil. Cover and place on center rack in preheated oven. Cook for about 1 ½ hours. Meat will be fork tender.

>>>This is great served with rice and steamed vegetables. Enjoy!


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Deep-Dish Pizza Crust

Anyone who knows me OR who follows my food blog knows that I absolutely LOVE using my cast iron skillets for baking (and, of course…cooking). So, when I opened the fridge yesterday and saw a boat-load of gorgeous vegetables staring back at me, I decided some of them would make delicious pizza toppings and immediately thought of a new use for my skillet. 

So, I threw this crust recipe together and buttered my 10” cast iron skillet (a treasured item from my grandmother’s kitchen) and my new 12” skillet, which was a Christmas gift from my daughter last year J And THIS….was the result. Enjoy!

Deep-Dish Pizza Crust (this recipe makes 2 crusts)

3 c. flour (plus more for dusting)
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. yeast
1 c. warm water
1 Tbsp. butter for pan(s)

Combine warm water, yeast and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk until yeast is dissolved. Let stand for 5-8 minutes to give yeast time to bloom.

In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and oregano. Gently whisk together.

Once yeast mixture has become frothy, attach dough hook to mixer. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix on low. Add olive oil while mixer is running. Add remaining flour mixture. Increase mixer speed to medium and let it go until dough forms a ball and pulls away from the sides. (Don’t over mix).

Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead with the palms of your hands just until it’s smooth and workable. Dough will be sticky.

Place dough in a large bowl that has been lightly coated with olive oil. Turn the dough over to coat all sides in the olive oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for about an hour or until dough has doubled in size.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead a couple more times, then split into two portions.

Roll out the first portion large enough to fit over the sides of the pan you are using. Do the same with the second portion.

Add the sauce, cheese and toppings. Pull edges of crust back into pan and brush edges with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese, if desired.

Toppings of your choice: for the vegetable pizza, I spread a thin layer of prepared pizza/pasta sauce over crust, then added about 1 cup of cheese (mixture of sharp cheddar, mozzarella and smoked gouda). For the vegetable pizza, I used about 1 to 1 ½ c. of red bell pepper slices, red onion slices, 4 asparagus spears, mushroom slices and cauliflower.

For the pepperoni pizza (in the larger pan), I spread on the sauce and added about 1 ½ c. of the same cheese mixture, then topped with pepperoni only.

I sprinkled a little dried parmesan and oregano over the tops of both pizzas. Bake at 400° for about 30-40 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is browned.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Slow-Cooker Green Sauce Beef

I've been making this for years and it never fails to satisfy. A simple "set it and forget it" meat recipe that's great for burritos, tacos, fajitas and even soup.

Slow Cooker Green Sauce Beef

2lb. Tri-tip roast
28oz. can mild green enchilada sauce
4oz. can diced green chilies
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. dried oregano
Chopped cilantro, optional

Place roast in crock pot. Add all remaining ingredients. Cook on high about 6 hours (or low about 8 hours).

These are great for green-sauce burritos with sharp cheddar cheese. Wrap meat and cheese in flour tortillas. Line them up in a baking dish. Spoon green sauce over the top with a little more cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

(NOTE: if you prefer chicken instead, this same recipe is delicious using either Jack cheese or Monterey Jack for the burritos. Yum!!)


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Pumpkin Scones with Berry Butter

I’ve been making these pumpkin scones for about three years and they are amazing. Although, I don’t cut mine into wedges. I use my 2-inch round biscuit cutter. Also, this isn’t my recipe. This is a delicious creation from Taste of Home, but I DID change up the berry butter recipe to include Gainey Vineyard’s Cranberry Honey. Oh my gosh, is this good!!!

Pumpkin Scones with Berry Butter
(adapted from Judy Wilson, Sun City West, Arizona, Taste of Home)

2 tablespoons dried cranberries
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
1 egg
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup 2% milk
2 tablespoons chopped pecans, optional

Place cranberries in a small bowl; add boiling water. Let stand for 5 minutes; drain and chop. In a small bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy. Add confectioners' sugar, honey and cranberries; mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, pie spice, salt and baking soda. Cut in butter (I grate my butter on a cheese grater to make it easier) until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, whisk the egg, pumpkin and milk; add to crumb mixture just until moistened. Stir in pecans if desired.

Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead 10 times. Pat into an 8-in. circle. Cut out scones using a 2” biscuit cutter and place on either a greased baking sheet or one covered with a silicone baking liner

Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with berry butter. Yield: 15-16 scones (about 1/2 cup butter).

(Note: view the original recipe HERE)


Saturday, October 8, 2016

Apple Crisp Tart

So....THIS happened yesterday in my joyful kitchen. I used Gainey Vineyard's aahhhmazing Maple Honey and it really pairs well with the apples in this delicious dessert :)

Apple Crisp Tart

4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2-3 tsp. lemon juice
2 ½ Tbsp. dried cranberries
4 Tbsp. Gainey Vineyard’s Maple Honey
4 Tbsp. butter
½ c. light brown sugar
1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 prepared pie crust

½ c. old fashioned oats
½ c. chopped walnuts
½ c. light brown sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
3 Tbsp. butter

Preheat oven to 350°

Place apple slices in medium bowl. Drizzle lemon juice over top and toss. Stir in dried cranberries and set aside.

Spread pie crust in tart pan (with removable bottom). Press gently into sides and trim off any excess. Set aside.

In small sauce pan combine butter, maple honey, brown sugar and cinnamon. Stir over low heat until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a minute or two. Stir in vanilla extract.

Pour mixture over apples and cranberries. Stir well to coat evenly. Pour apple mixture into tart pan spreading evenly over crust.

In separate small bowl, combine all topping ingredients using either a fork or pastry blender.

Sprinkle topping mixture over apples.

Bake for 50-55 minutes or until apples are fork tender and crust is golden brown.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for about an hour before carefully removing from pan.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Zucchini Bread (in mini loaf pan)

Maybe if you scoot way up close to your screen, you can smell the wonderful aroma of fall. It's worth a try :) So, I've waited since mid July for this day. I anticipated exactly this when I emerged from the veggie garden with basket loads of zucchini (plus a ton of other treasures). I cut them into chunks and tossed them into the food processor and then the freezer. This is a super simple recipe AND baking them up in a mini loaf pan makes them easy to share with friends and family. You'll want to bake up a few batches to keep on hand (they freeze well) when unexpected visitors arrive :)

Zucchini Bread (mini loaves)

6 Tbsp. butter, softened
1 1/3 c. granulated sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. zucchini puree
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
½ c. raw sugar
1 c. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°

Spray a mini loaf pan with a little cooking spray and lightly dust with flour. Set aside. This is the pan I use: 

In large bowl of stand mixer, cream butter and sugar. Combine eggs one at a time. Add vanilla extract. Mix in zucchini puree until well combined.

In medium bowl, sift flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix until all ingredients are well incorporated.

Fill each mini loaf well about ¾ of the way with zucchini bread mixture. Sprinkle each one with a little raw sugar and chopped walnuts.

Bake in middle rack of preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle.