Monday, October 26, 2020

Pumpkin Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies



 My sister Cathy, and her daughters, Casey and Carly and I have an ongoing text thread. Just a simple conversation that has been going on for literally years. Sometimes it's just a funny little meme, sometimes it's just an "I hate Mondays" need for some extra support, but usually it's some version of "Look at this amazing recipe!" or "Doesn't this look good?" or "When are we making this?" along with a link to the website from where it was discovered. That's exactly what happened when Casey texted us with this recipe. She was torn between this recipe and another recipe using pumpkin butter, but we picked this one! So this comes to us from a blog called Half Baked Harvest via Casey Case with the Pretty Face. She baked them up and even took the picture for us! Thanx Case!! Pumpkin pie spice? Cinnamon sugar? Chocolate chips? Yes please! We're definitely adding them to our cookie rotation for the holidays! YUM!

 2 sticks (1 cup) salted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup pumpkin butter, homemade or store bought
1 egg, at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
4 oz semi sweet or dark chocolate chunks
1/3 cup cinnamon sugar


Add 1 stick butter to a small saucepan set over medium heat, cooking until the butter begins to brown, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a heatproof bowl. Stick in the freezer to chill, 10-15 minutes, but no longer.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
 In a large mixing bowl, beat together the remaining 1 stick butter, the cooled browned butter, brown sugar, and sugar until combined. Beat in the pumpkin butter, egg, and vanilla, beating until creamy. Add the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Fold in chocolate chips and chocolate chunks.
Roll the dough into 1 tablespoon size balls and then generously roll through the cinnamon sugar and place 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.
Transfer to the oven and bake for 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and tap the baking sheet on the counter 2 times to flatten them down. Return to the oven and bake another 1-2 minutes or until the cookies are just beginning to set on the edges, but still doughy in the center. Remove from the oven and tap the baking sheet on the counter 1-2 times to flatten them down again. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet. They will continue to cook slightly as they sit on the baking sheet. Eat warm (highly recommended) or let cool and store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.


You can make LOTS of these, and then store them in your freezer! To freeze cookies, place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Once frozen, remove them to a ziploc bag, and then just take out as many as you need as you navigate the holidays. They thaw in no time at all!

Monday, October 19, 2020

Apple Dapple Cake

 Have you ever heard of an Apple Dapple Cake? I must confess that until very recently, I had never heard  of it, but apparently it's a thing. Who knew? I searched and searched for the origin of the recipe, but unfortunately didn't find many answers. All I could find is that it's an old-timey recipe that has been around for decades, and everyone's Grandmom had her own version of it. Works for me!

It's basically an apple cake with chopped nuts and a caramel glaze. Sounds amazing, right? I found many versions, and all of them were very similar. There was only a slight variation here and there. Some use walnuts, some use pecans, one even added shredded sweetened coconut (which I wouldn't mind at all). It also seemed that everyone had a different version of the caramel glaze that gets poured over the top. Another variation in all of the recipes was the kind of pan in which it was baked. Some used a tube pan, some used a bundt pan, some used a 9x13 pan. I decided to use the tube pan because it reminded me of the apple cake my Mom always made. And as much as I usually don't like using a 9x13 pan for cakes, I can see how using one for this recipe might be the smartest choice. It would work kind of like a poke cake, where you pour the glaze over a still-warm cake, and then let it sink in. YUM.

 I chose this recipe from a blog called A Family Feast. And it's delicious! The diced apples make it SO moist and the nuts added a little extra crunch. And the caramel turned out really buttery and decadent. AMAZING. Also it's a really easy cake to make! Honestly, I think dicing the apples is the hardest part. You can handle that, right??  I will definitely be making this cake again. I think you should too!

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 whole eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large Granny Smith apples (about 1 3/4 pound)
1 cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped

3 tbs butter
3 tbs brown sugar
3 tbs granulated sugar
3 tbs heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Grease and flour a 9×13-inch baking pan.
Preheat oven to 325ºF. Place rack in upper third of the oven. Sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl then sift a second time. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix vegetable oil with both sugars until well mixed. With mixer running, add one egg at a time and once mixed, add vanilla and mix and scrape the bowl. Slowly add the dry ingredients with mixer running on low. Scrape the bowl again and mix. Peel, core and cut the apples into bite sized pieces and fold into the batter. Fold the walnuts into the batter then spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Bake in top third of the oven for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, put all glaze ingredients into a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Boil and stir with a wooden spoon continuously for one minute. Remove from heat and pour over the top of the warm cake.


Full disclosure, I didn’t sift the dry ingredients as the recipe directs. I just whisked them all together in a bowl. And, like I said, I didn’t use a 9x13 pan.
I used pecans  and honey crisp apples instead of walnuts and granny smith apples, Why? Because I like them better! You do you!


Monday, October 12, 2020

Peanut Butter Apple Crumble


 So, I was recently cleaning out my pantry, and I discovered a forgotten half jar of peanut butter. Just sitting all the way in the back, thinking no one loved it anymore.  Of course, I instantly thought "what can I make with this?" Yes, I could absolutely do something with chocolate. That's a no brainer, but not exactly ground breaking. Then I thought, how about something apple? A crisp, maybe? Yes, that's exactly the right note I want to hit. But, to me, a crisp has an oat topping, and I was out of oats. I did, however, have a can of slightly salted peanuts. What if I swap out the oats for peanuts and call it a crumble?  THERE's the A HA moment! Then I found a recipe on a blog called Cookie Dough and Oven Mitt. (This is my tweaked version.) A little bit of peeling and coring and mixing, and the next thing I knew I was smelling the heavenly scent of apples baking. YUM. It really is one of life's simple pleasures, you know. So there we have it. Apples and peanut butter, with a peanut crumble topping. Add a little vanilla ice cream on top, and you're having a party! Definitely a keeper. Absolutely delicious!


6 apples
1/2 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbs flour
pinch salt

1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped peanuts
3/4 cup flour
4 tsp butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
pinch salt

Heat over to 350ºF.

For the filling:
Peel, core, and slice apples set aside.
In a large bowl, combine remaining filling ingredients. Tossing filling with apples. Place in a large baking dish.

For the topping:
In the same bowl as you tossed the apples, (no need to wash), combine all topping ingredients. Pour topping all over apples in an even layer. Place in oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 10-15 minutes. You MUST serve this with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. I'm pretty sure it's a law.

The usual “baking” apple is the Granny Smith. It’s tart so it stands up to the sweetness of the sugar, and it doesn’t turn to mush while it bakes. But I like Honeycrisp apples better, so that’s what I used. Use what you like!
If you’re using salted peanuts, omit the pinches of salt.
If you want your apples to be a little bit more saucy, sprinkle them with the sugar, and let them sit for a while until the juices form, then toss with the remaining filling ingredients.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Baked Reuben Chicken

  Ever since I learned how to ferment my own homemade sauerkraut, I've been looking for different recipes in which to use it. I mean, yes, you can't go wrong just serving it with some grilled brats, or any kind of favorite sausage, but I wanted to explore using sauerkraut as an ingredient in other dishes too, not just as a stand alone side dish.
  I thought, what if we paired it with chicken instead of pork? A quick google search led me to this recipe that I found on YES! This is exactly what I wanted! A chicken variation of a Reuben sandwich. YUM! I've always been a huge fan of a Reuben, so why not bake it with chicken instead of corned beef or pastrami? Yes please!
 It's just a few ingredients, easy assembly, and into the oven it goes. I should mention, btw, that I tweaked a couple things, but it's still basically the same recipe. The original said to bake it for 90 minutes at 325º, and that just seemed FAR too long for a piece of boneless chicken. So I decided to do less time at a slightly higher temp. MUCH better. I also tweaked some of the ingredient amounts too. Turned out perfectly! Serve it with some noodles, potatoes, or a simple veggie on the side, and there's dinner. LOVE it. This one definitely falls into the category of "why have I never thought of this?" Definitely a keeper!!

4-6 boneless chicken breast halves
S&P to taste
16 oz sauerkraut, drained and pressed
4 slices Swiss cheese, or more to taste
1 cup Thousand Island salad dressing*
1 tbs chopped fresh parsley

Heat oven to 350ºF.
Place chicken in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place sauerkraut over chicken and top with cheese slices. Spread dressing over all, and cover dish with aluminum foil. Bake for 35 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through (fork can be easily inserted and juices run clear). Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

When I first made this, I followed the original recipe, and layered the ingredients as directed. In other words, chicken on the bottom, then the sauerkraut, then the cheese, and then the dressing on the top.
 But when I made it again (because it's so freaking delicious you'll want to make it again), I decided that I wanted the cheese to be on top so it would get all melty and gooey. So I layered it, chicken on the bottom, then the sauerkraut, then the dressing, and then cheese on top. This was a MUCH better plan, in my opinion.

*To make your own Thousand Island dressing, simply stir together a half cup each of mayonnaise and ketchup along with 1 or 2 tbs of sweet pickle relish. The tiny pieces of pickles in the relish look like a thousand tiny little islands in a sea of dressing. Get it?

Full disclosure, I didn't even measure anything. As my Mom would say "Just add everything until it's enough." Cover each piece of chicken with just enough sauerkraut, just enough dressing and just enough cheese. Cook it until it's done. If you like a lot, add a lot! If you need more than 4-6 pieces of chicken, make more!! Only cooking for 2? Make less! It's very adaptable, and very simple!
Oh, one other thing.. usually, if I'm making something with cheese, I'll try different kinds of cheeses, just for a variation, or just because I like to use whatever I have on hand. In this case, though, I wouldn't swap out the Swiss cheese. That's kind of one of the best parts of a Reuben , I think. So swapping it for something else doesn't give the same Reuben experience. Just sayin'!