Monday, November 29, 2021

Harvest Apple Cupcakes



  I was recently trying to decide what to do with a couple dozen apples, and I just couldn’t make up my mind. If you know me, you know apple desserts are my very favorite (especially with vanilla ice cream on top!) Hmm.. so many to choose from. But then I thought, wait.. are there any apple desserts I haven’t already shared? I’ve done pies, cakes, fritters, brown betty, pan dowdy, blondies, cookies, crisps…. but what's left? Then I thought.. AHA! Cupcakes!!
 So here we are. The perfect apple cupcake recipe, courtesy of Betty Crocker.
 It’s very straight forward. Mix your wet ingredients, add your sifted dry, spoon into cupcake tins, and bake. Boom. Easy, right? And then you cool and frost them with your favorite frosting. The recipe calls for cream cheese frosting, so who am I to argue??  But feel free to use whatever floats your boat.
 Perfect recipe. Give ‘em a try!

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
2 cups flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups chopped tart apples
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (optional)

For the Frosting:
2 pkgs cream cheese
2 sticks butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350°F.
Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups. 
In large bowl, beat sugar, oil and eggs with electric mixer on low speed about 30 seconds or until blended. Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda, vanilla and the salt; beat on low speed 1 minute. Stir in apples and nuts (if using).
Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, using about 1/2 cup batter for each. 
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling racks to cool. 
To frost cupcakes:
Combine frosting ingredients in order listed, until well mixed. Pipe or spread frosting onto each cooled cupcake. Store frosted cupcakes or any remaining frosting covered in refrigerator. 


As you can see in the ingredients list, the original recipe adds chopped nuts, but I decided to make them optional. You do you!
When combining your frosting ingredients, be sure to turn you mixer to LOW speed, especially when adding the powdered sugar. Trust me on this!
Oh, also, the original recipe called for a can of store bought cream cheese frosting, but I prefer to make my own. Again, you do you!

Monday, November 22, 2021

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus Bundles


   This recipes is from Trisha Yearwood, and it's sort of an alternative (or maybe just a nod) to the favorite green bean casserole. They're super easy to assemble in advance and then bake while your turkey is doing its resting after roasting.
Oh! And don't forget the cheese sauce and crumbled French fried onion rings! Thats what really makes it! Absolutely delish!


1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus, ends trimmed
8 slices bacon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup crispy fried onions

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Divide the asparagus spears into 8 bundles. Wrap each bundle in the middle of the spears with one piece of bacon. Place the bundles seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Bake until the bacon is fully cooked, about 25 minutes.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and stir. Cook until the mixture is golden brown and has a nutty aroma, about 1 minute. Stir in the mustard powder, onion powder, nutmeg and remaining 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the milk a little at a time and continue cooking and whisking until the mixture thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the cheese until melted, then take off the heat.
Carefully transfer the bacon bundles to a serving platter. Pour the cheese sauce over the asparagus and sprinkle with the fried onions. Serve warm.

-I’ve decided that the whole bundle should be wrapped in bacon, instead of just the center. So, I think the next time I make this, I’m gonna wrap the bundles from end to end. That way everyone can have bacon in every bite! More is more!
-If you can’t find Gruyere, just use any Swiss cheese.


Thursday, November 18, 2021

Applesauce Pie


 OK, here’s a question for you. Are you a PIE Person?  The reason I ask is that there are people who like pie, and people who don’t really care for it. But then there are people like me…. I can honestly say that I’ve literally never met a pie I didn’t like. Fruit pies, custard pies, savory pies, meat pies, you name it, I love every one!!
 So that gives you a strong inkling of why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday!
So, what kind of pie is my favorite? Well, apple pie, of course, and for Thanksgiving, pumpkin pie is a definite must! And come to think of it, I’ll never say no to a pecan pie… or a mince pie like my Mom used to make… you can't go wrong with any of them! They’re all classics! Clearly, there’s a reason these pies have stood the test of time.. they’re all delicious!!
So that got me to thinking about what other kinds of old-timey classic type pies I could find.
 It didn’t take me long to find this recipe from one of my favorite you tubers, Miss Lori, over at Whippoorwill Holler. She has some of the BEST pie recipes, and I want to try every single one of them!
And when I saw how easy it is to make this applesauce pie, I was all in! I mean, seriously, an applesauce pie?? How can this not be good?
You literally just stir everything together, pour it into your pie shell, and bake!!! Perfect, right??
Also, the flavor is so light and fresh, you really need to taste it for yourself to believe it. That bit of lemon juice is a game changer!!
So thank you AGAIN, Miss Lori.
I'll be making this pie again and again. This just might be a new Thanksgiving favorite!!!

1 unbaked deep dish 9” pie shell
2/3 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 cup butter, melted
2 cups applesauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup flour

In a large bowl, stir all ingredients together until well combined. Pour into pie shell.
Bake at 350ºF for 45 minutes or until set.

This recipe is doubled from the recipe that Miss Lori posted. I wanted to fill up my deep dish pyrex pie plate. Worked perfectly! But if you're using just a regular 9" pie dish, you'll want to cut all the ingredient amounts by half.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Joey's Scalloped Root Veggies

I've often said that Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner is my very favorite dinner in the whole wide world. One of the reasons for this, in addition to the turkey, is all the fabulous casseroles and side dishes that go with it. Yum!
But here's the thing... sometimes those casserole are so heavy, it's no wonder everyone goes to sleep afterward. But it doesn't have to be that way! Instead of a big thick heavy cream sauce, what if we lighten things up a bit? This thought was sort of bouncing around my mind for a while, so I decided to come up with something.
I recently had some sweet potatoes, turnips, and carrots, and I thought PERFECT!
I sliced them, layered them with a delicious sauce, and then baked them. The final result has Thanksgiving written all over it!
And it has all of the flavor, but it won't send you into a food coma.
So give this one a try, even if you're not looking to lighten things. It's so good!!

3 large sweet potatoes
5 or 6 small turnips
2-3 lbs large carrots
1 stick butter
1 medium onion
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 cup flour
1-2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup bread crumbs + 3 tbs butter

Peel vegetables, and slice into 1/4 inch slices. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, melt stick of butter and add chopped onions.
Saute until they soften. Add seasonings and flour. Stir until the butter and flour are well incorporated, about two minutes.
Add milk, wine, and just enough broth to make it the right consistency. Stir well over medium heat until the sauce thickens.
Into a large casserole dish, ladle a little of the sauce, and then layer slices of each vegetable, with a little more sauce in between each layer. Pour any remaining sauce over the top.
Cover with foil. Bake in a 350 over for about an hour, or until veggies are tender. Just test with a fork.
Remove from oven. Remove foil.
Sprinkle with buttered bread crumbs. Place back in oven for 20-15 minutes until lightly golden. Let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving.

These amounts are just guidelines. If you’re cooking for a small group, maybe cut back on the amounts. Of course, if you have a GIANT crowd, then double everything!
-Be sure to use enough salt and pepper. This particular combination of veggies is very sweet, so you need that salt to balance it. Feel free to add fresh herbs, if you’re so inclined. Before you layer everything, taste the sauce to see if it needs anything.
-You may not need all of the broth. Just add it a little at a time until it's a light sauce consistency. On the other hand, If the sauce is too thick for your liking, just add a little extra broth. You want it to be nice and light.
-Be sure to let it sit after the last bake because the sauce will thicken up just a bit as it cools.
-Want to use regular potatoes? Go for it!  Don't like turnips? Leave 'em out! Try parsnips instead! Any root vegetables will work!

Monday, November 1, 2021

Halloween Hash



  So, it’s the night before Halloween, I have my bowls of candy ready for my Trick or Treaters, and I’m trying to decide what kind of casserole or soup I might make for Halloween the next day.  As I always do, I did some googling, but then I also did a few searches on Youtube.
 Well, I happened upon a channel that was taking part in a slow cooker collaboration, where a different channel would post a slow cooker recipe each day for the month of October, or rather Crocktober, as they were calling it. . So this recipe comes from a channel called Souper at 60. I thought, “oh that sounds simple enough,” so I decided to give it a try. I know, I know, why post a Halloween recipe AFTER Halloween is over? Well, I figured this would be a good one to make anytime and not JUST for Halloween. It turned out great! Very easy to do, no muss, no fuss, and it tasted great, especially with a little extra ketchup over the top. Very cheeseburger-ish. What’s not to love?
 So, the next time you’re looking to feed a crowd, give this one a try. Very delicious, and worth sharing, even on the day AFTER Halloween!

1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 10oz can cheddar cheese soup
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
2 tbs brown mustard
2 tbs ketchup, plus more for serving
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 (30oz) pkg frozen  hash brown potatoes
2 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Brown beef in large skillet. Add onion, cheddar cheese soup, sweet relish, mustard, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce until blended. Arrange 1/2 bag of potatoes in bottom of sprayed crockpot. Top with 1/2 meat mixture. Sprinkle 1 1/2c shredded cheese 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 tsp pepper Repeat layers beginning with remaining potatoes and beef. Sprinkle with 1/2 c cheese, and remaining salt and pepper. Cover: Cook on low 3 to 4 hours OR on High for 2 hours. Top with additional ketchup and green onion, if desired.

Be sure to drain any excess fat from the pan after you brown the meat. Otherwise, you might wind up with a very greasy dish (depending on the fat content of your ground beef).
The pkg of ground beef that I used was more than a pound, so I wound up doubling everything except the potatoes and cheese. it turned out fine!
Be sure you season it to your taste as you layer. I found that it definitely needed more salt on the potato layer.
I added some diced red bell pepper to the party, and I also did half Cheddar and half Mozzarella cheese, just because I happened to have some on hand. Feel free to tweak it to your heart’s content!