Friday, November 30, 2012

See's Cream Fudge

See's Cream Fudge Recipe

Let the holiday baking and cooking begin!  Fudge is one of my favorite treats during the holidays, because for some reason, I just don't eat fudge any other time of year.  Now, I've heard lots of things about making fudge, and most of those things are about how difficult and finicky fudge is to make.  However, I've made this recipe now twice, and both times it turned out great!  This creamy, chocolate-y fudge literally melts in your mouth.  And as the recipe says below, it gets better with age, so you could make this recipe now and it would still be good through the holidays, if it lasts that long!  I like to think that this fudge is waistline friendly too, not because it is healthy in any way, but because a tiny piece is all you really need to be satisfied since it is so rich.

What is on your holiday baking list?  Are you making treats to give away as gifts?  (This fudge would be a great gift idea). We'll be sharing some more delicious treats in the next few weeks, including a few others that can be given away as gifts. 

See's Cream Fudge

From a family friend

1/2 pound butter (1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
18 ounces chocolate chips
2 cups nuts (walnuts or pecans), chopped
8 ounces marshmallow cream (this is the normal sized jar)
1 can evaporated milk
4-1/2 cups sugar

In a large bowl, combine butter, vanilla, chocolate chips, nuts, and marshmallow cream. 

In a large sauce pan (make sure it's large, seriously!!), slowly bring evaporated milk and sugar to a full rolling boil (stir often to make sure it doesn't scorch).  Continue to boil and stir constantly for 5-6 minutes or until it reaches 245°F.  Pour the evaporated milk and sugar mixture over the other ingredients and mix well.  Stir until mixture begins to lose its shine.  Pour mixture into a buttered or non-stick sprayed 9x13 inch pan, cover and refrigerate.  Fudge gets better with age. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Secret Recipe Club: Cinnamon Rolls

It's Secret Recipe Club time again!  Secret Recipe Club gives us bloggers a chance to explore a new blog once a month and this month, we were assigned Colie's Kitchen.  Nicole is a blogger from Texas, sharing her "side of the table," she does weekly menu plans, has tons of giveaways and tips and tricks on her site.  Nicole also has literally hundreds of recipes to choose from, but I kind of had something in mind when I started exploring her blog.  I knew I wanted to make a delicious brunch recipe, so that I could give you all an amazing option for your holiday entertaining.  So, when I saw her recipe for Cinnamon Rolls from Heaven, I knew I had to make them.  And oh my gosh, she was right, these are so heavenly. They take a bit of time to prep, but I did it the night before, and they are worth every bit of effort.  These cinnamon rolls would be a great way to wake up on Christmas morning, because they are basically a present for your mouth.

Cinnamon Rolls

From Colie's Kitchen

1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
2 envelopes active dry yeast
1 teaspoon plus 2/3 cup sugar
1 cup milk, heated to lukewarm
2/3 cup (1 1/3 sticks) butter, softened
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons salt
7 cups all-purpose flour, or more as needed

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon milk

For the dough Combine the warm water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon sugar in a cup and stir; set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the milk, remaining 2/3 cup sugar, butter, eggs, and salt. Stir well and add the yeast mixture.

Add 3 1/2 cups flour and beat until smooth. Stir in enough of the remaining flour until the dough is slightly stiff - it will be sticky.

Turn out the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes, adding just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking.

Place in a well-buttered glass or plastic bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in volume, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Punch down the dough and let it rest for 5 minutes. Roll out on a lightly floured surface into a 15-by-20-inch rectangle.

For the filling Spread 1/2 cup of the melted butter on the dough. In a small bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the sugar and the cinnamon. Sprinkle over the dough, then sprinkle with the walnuts and raisins, if desired. Roll up like a jellyroll and pinch the edges together to seal. Cut the roll into 12 or 18 slices. If making 12 buns, use the remaining 1/2 cup melted butter to coat the bottoms of a 13-by-9-inch baking pan and an 8-inch square baking pan; if making 18 buns, use two 13-by-9-inch pans. Sprinkle the pans with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar.

Place the cinnamon bun slices close together in the pans. Cover and let rise in a warm place until the dough is doubled in volume, about 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the buns are nicely browned. Let cool slightly before glazing.

Tip: To save time in the morning, make the rolls a day ahead up to the final rise, then let them rise slowly overnight in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before baking.

Dr. Oz 3-Day Detox Cleanse: Results

I mentioned on the K&K Test Kitchen Facebook page and in last week's posts that I was doing a cleanse and I promised to write you guys a little something to share my experience with you.  This was my very first cleanse experience and I think that I've learned that cleanses aren't necessarily for everyone.  The most important thing that we can do is listen to our bodies and make adjustments to our habits accordingly.

The Dr. Oz 3-Day detox cleanse is a smoothie/juice drink based cleanse.  These drinks are packed with fruits and vegetables.  It is a relatively short cleanse and I felt like it was fairly manageable.  It definitely takes a significant amount of planning and prep work, as well as discipline... obviously.  In all, my ingredients cost approximately $70 (Dr. Oz's website claims $16 per day, so apparently the places I shop are significantly more expensive, yikes). If you click the link, you'll be able to print out the handy cheat sheet, which includes a shopping list, the recipes for the 3 drinks, and guidelines on what to drink when!  It's pretty useful and mine was covered in smoothie splatter by the end of the three days.

Overall, on the cleanse, I felt pretty much the same as I normally feel when I'm eating regular food.  However, I did feel like I had a bit more energy and I didn't really miss my coffee.  The first day, I was starving, but that may have been because I didn't drink all of my snack (it was the lunch smoothie, see below) during work.  The second and third day, I didn't feel hungry at all, even when it was time to have the next meal.

I, personally, probably won't do another cleanse for a long time.  I like to believe that I eat relatively well and exercise often enough to not have to do cleanses.  They definitely have value and I did the cleanse, in part, because I had been treating my body like crap for a few weeks - traveling, eating out, eating mountains of cookies, a few extra glasses of wine or beer here and there - and I did feel like a bit of a detox was in order.  At this time of year too, I can see the appeal of a cleanse.  However, at the risk of sounding preachy, let's all try to avoid the need for a cleanse this holiday season.  Let's make time for ourselves to workout and let's try to fit some healthy choices in between the cookies and holiday cocktail parties.

That said, I would recommend this cleanse though if you decide that you need to do one.  It is all "real food."  No weird things, no pills.

Some tips:
  • Don't double up on the lunch smoothie.  It was thick and the most difficult to drink in my and my friend Annie's opinions.
  • For the lunch smoothie, add a bit of extra water or almond milk to thin it out if you are making it in a blender, peel the cucumber and apple at least partially, and cut the celery in half (4 stalks really overwhelms everything else). 
  • Drink your smoothies with a straw. The first day I didn't do this, and by the end of the day the corners of my mouth were raw (maybe a bit of an overshare there haha).
  • I had Bio-K+ probiotic yogurt during my cleanse. I don't normally take probiotics, and they are typically quite expensive, but the Bio-K+ yogurt comes in 2, 4, or 6 packs, so it worked really well for the cleanse. It tastes a bit strange, but I have used it before and I really like it (strawberry is my favorite).  They also have dairy-free versions for those with dairy-intolerance.  I'm not sure if you can get this outside of Canada, but in Canada they sell it at Loblaws and health food stores.
  • Drink a ton of water.  Especially if you notice that you're getting a bit of a headache. 
  • Find things to occupy yourself in the evening.  I usually spend my evenings cooking, but the smoothies only take a few minutes to make, so I had to find other ways to keep myself busy.
Unfortunately, I didn't workout much during the cleanse, just the first day. I was supposed to go to a barre class at 6 am on the last day of my cleanse and while I woke up fine, I felt like I was about to pass out while I was brushing my teeth, my blood sugar felt so low and I felt really weak.  So a tough, hour-long workout didn't seem like the smartest idea.  

I also don't own a scale, so I wasn't able to determine if I lost any weight during the cleanse.  To me, that part didn't matter, especially since it all would have been water weight and essentially meaningless. But, just for fun, here is my "before" and "after" (taken the night before starting and the morning after finishing).

I know this blog isn't always a beacon of healthy eating (you'll see the other post today and laugh at me), but both Kim and I do try to eat a balanced diet and exercise often. We also have a secret weapon in our arsenal - Vemma.  Vemma is a nutritional supplement we take that is almost like a daily mini-detox. It's truly amazing.*

Here is what my friend Annie had to say about the cleanse: "I really enjoyed this detox cleanse. I've only done one in the past but it wasn't as regimented as this one. I like that all my meals are planned and I can prep things ahead of time. I really enjoy the breakfast shake/smoothie. It is my favourite. I think I will incorporate it into my regular schedule. I'm surprised at how well the spinach mixes into the drink and I can't even taste it! The lunch time smoothie is less desirable and there is so much of it. I found that I still had to chew it because it was so thick. Plus, the flavours of celery and cucumber were really potent. I couldn't finish it all on day 1. I made some adjustments to today's lunch smoothie and it is significantly better. I used only 2 stalks of celery, I peeled the cucumber and I added about 1/4 of water so it's less thick and more of a mild taste. For my snack smoothie on day 1 I made the dinner smoothie. To be honest I really wasn't hungry around "snack" time but I had half of it then waited for an hour and had the other half. This one wasn't too bad. The cayenne pepper makes it SPICY! A little bit of it goes a long way! I didn't do the night bath because baths gross me out lol.

Overall, I'm feeling really good. The smoothies are filling so I never feel hungry. I had a bit of a headache on day 1 but it went away after I drank more water. I also lost 2 pounds already. I woke up this morning feeling REALLY good. Usually I hit my snooze button a few times in the morning but today I woke up immediately and felt well rested. I really don't have any cravings either. I'll definitely be doing this cleanse again!"

*Disclaimer: Kim and I are both Vemma Brand Partners and Vemma is a network marketing based company.  However, we both got into the business after falling in love with the Vemma products and seeing the amazing results they provided to our family and friends first hand. If you are interested in learning more about the products, send us an email and we'll be happy to answer your questions! (Vemma also has a Bod-e 7-day cleanse that costs about $26, and you follow Chris Powell's carb cycling diet during the cleanse - update: Kim tried the Vemma Bod-e cleanse).

Note:  I'm not affiliated with Dr. Oz, nor am I an expert in nutrition.  Always check with your doctor for questions concerning your health or before any major diet or exercise change.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pomegranate Basil Martini

Pomegranate Basil Martini recipe

Happy Black Friday!  I have a feeling that if you braved the crowds today (or last night, eek) shopping the sales, that you will need a drink (and maybe a massage or a bubble bath) when you get home.  It's been a few years since I've been shopping on black Friday (I'll be at work today), and I do not miss it at all. Crowded, hot shopping malls, with merchandise picked through and messy, kind of make me cringe.

Anyways, if you shopped til you dropped today or if you stayed home, this is the perfect cocktail for the kickoff weekend of the holiday season.  It is lovely.  Not to sweet, slightly herbal and easy to sip and enjoy.  It happens to be a pretty pink color too, though beware, you may end up covered in pink splatters after de-seeding the pomegranates for it! (My trick is to cut the pomegranate in quarters, hold it cut-side over a bowl, and smack the peel with a serving spoon).  Cheers to the holiday season!

Pomegranate Basil Martini

Pomegranate Basil Martini

From Urban Junkies

2 ounces (60 ml) vodka
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 ounces pomegranate juice
A handful of fresh basil leaves, torn into shreds
Pomegranate seeds for garnish

To make the martini, shake all ingredients well in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Sprinkle a few pomegranate seeds into each glass as a garnish. Serve.

Makes 2 drinks.

If you missed my post on setting up a bar, click here and also check out the Bourbon Cider Cocktail in that post.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Bucatini all'Amatriciana

This might be my favorite pasta dish yet.  It really always has been, but this was the first time making bucatini all'amatriciana myself.  The sauce is smoky and spicy. The bucatini is the perfect vehicle for sauce and the pecorino adds a sharp, salty element.  I probably could have eaten the whole batch in one sitting to be completely honest.  It only takes about half an hour from start to finish (maybe less even), so this is a great option for the busy holiday season.  This time of year, it is way more fun spending time hanging out with family and friends than slaving away in the kitchen. 

And if you do hang out in the kitchen, why not bake some cookies instead!  We are excited to share some cookie recipes soon, but in the meantime check out the archives for some holiday baking inspiration (these were my favorites from last year).

To balance out the pasta, cookies, and the cocktail recipe that I'll be sharing on Friday, I will also share my experiences with the Dr. Oz 3-day cleanse either this weekend or early next week.  I had been wanting to try a cleanse for quite awhile, and my schedule made it possible for me to do it this week (though I've been dying over all the delicious food my blogger friends are sharing for Thanksgiving!).  Cleanses seem to be popular, so I wanted to do one so that I could provide you all with some insight in case you decided you wanted to try a cleanse either now, post-turkey feast and in advance of the full holiday madness, or at the New Year to detox from the holiday madness.  So, check back to see how the cleanse went (I'm only on day 2 now, so hopefully I survive to tell you about it)!

Bucatini all'Amatriciana

From The Italian Dish

3 ounces pancetta, cubed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon red hot chili pepper (or to taste)
1/4 cup of dry white wine
1 cup canned whole tomatoes and juice, crushed (use San Marzano if you can)
8 ounces Bucatini pasta (or spaghetti)
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese
salt to taste

Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook the pancetta over medium heat for several minutes until crisp but not brown.  Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and reserve, but leave the fat in the pan.  Add the olive oil, onions and chili pepper and cook for several minutes until the onions are just soft but not browning.

Add the white wine and cook for one minute.  Add the tomatoes, using your hands to crush them (you want it to be a bit rustic) and the juice and reserved cooked pancetta (I added mine at the end so it would be crispy) and cook over medium low heat, uncovered, for 15 minutes.  You want most of the liquid to cook off.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta until still a little firm.  With tongs, remove the pasta from the boiling water and place right into the tomato mixture. Thoroughly coat the pasta with the tomato mixture.  Turn off heat and add the cheese, tossing well.  Taste for salt and add if needed.  Serve immediately and pass extra Pecorino around. The Italian Dish says to be sure to serve a big red wine with this dish and I couldn't agree more.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Brussels Leaf and Baby Spinach Sauté

One of the things I have been looking forward to since moving back from Canada is celebrating American Thanksgiving.  Although both of my daughters, Kelsey and Taryn will not be with me, I will be with my cousin and her very large family for the holidays.  My cousin's daughter started on November 1st and has been posting on FB each day another thing she is thankful for.  Yesterday she was thankful for being one year from her cancer diagnosis and now being cancer free.  Besides being tears to my eyes,  her post(s) have been a great reminder to me that every day is a day to give thanks not just the fourth Thursday in November.

For our American viewers,  the Thanksgiving holiday  is coming up in a little more than 72 hours so we at K and K thought we would offer up one last suggestion for a great quick and easy side dish.  In October, Epicurious had this recipe from The Sprouted Kitchen as their recipe of the day.  Brussels sprouts and spinach are two of my favorite vegetables so this was a must try for me.  The great thing about this recipe is that all the prep can be done a day ahead and the cooking time is truly less than 4 minutes.  This dish is not only delicious but very pretty and elegant with the Marcona almonds adding great crunch!  If you are still looking for the prefect side dish, you should give the Brussels Leaf and Baby Spinach Saute a try! 

Brussels Leaf and Baby Spinach Sauté

Epicurious | October 2012
By Sara Forte
The Sprouted Kitchen 
serves 4


1 pound Brussels sprouts (hand pick your sprouts so you get good outside leaves)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon white wine or champagne vinegar

1 tablespoon maple syrup

4 cups baby spinach ( I used only 2 cups as I only was feeding 2)

2 generous pinches of sea salt

1/2 cup Marcona almonds ( I used Trader Joe's Roasted and Salted Marcona Almonds with Rosemary)


Working with one Brussels sprout at a time, peel each individual leaf, starting from the outside and working toward the middle. Continue to peel until you get to the tough core where it is just too tight to pull any more leaves. Discard the core and put the leaves in a big bowl. Repeat with the remaining Brussels sprouts.

Over medium heat, warm the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add all of the Brussels leaves and sauté for about 30 seconds. Add the vinegar and maple syrup and toss to coat. Add the spinach to the pan and toss until it is just barely wilted. It is better just slightly underdone in this case, as it will continue to cook in its own heat.

Sprinkle with the salt and Marcona almonds and serve immediately.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

Whew, I was going to wait to post this one til Monday, but then I realized that I haven't been cooking much lately.  That will definitely change this weekend.  I am going to get a head start on holiday baking this weekend! And hopefully stock up a few recipes before the holiday season gets into its full-on crazy swing.

This recipe was a nightmare, but just for me, I'm sure it will be easy and so pleasant to make for you. In the version you see below, I've made sure to make changes so that you don't have any issues when you make this.  You see I boiled the chicken broth, milk, and butternut squash together and it boiled over... and leaked into my oven... and then I turned the oven on to preheat after salvaging my squash, but I didn't know about the leak... so then my house smelled like burnt milk and chicken broth, which is not a pleasant smell, let me tell you.  Despite my disastrous experience, this mac and cheese turned out great.  It is creamy and delicious.  The squash adds a bit of sweetness and I'm not even sure if I will go back to regular mac and cheese!

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

Adapted from Martha Stewart and How Sweet It Is

1 pound Cavatappi pasta (or any corkscrew-shaped pasta)
3 to 4 cups butternut squash (my squash was on the larger size)
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup skim milk
1/2 cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
4 ounces Fontina cheese
4 ounces cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons Italian breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine squash, stock, and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until squash is tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Drain slightly (I left about 1/2 cup of broth). Mash contents of saucepan; stir in milk, Greek yogurt, nutmeg, salt, and season with black pepper. Stir to combine.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles; cook until al dente according to package instructions, about 8 minutes. Drain, and transfer to a large bowl; stir in squash mixture, cheddar, and fontina cheese.

Lightly coat a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Transfer noodle mixture to dish. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs and 2 tablespoons Parmesan; sprinkle evenly over noodle mixture.

Cover with foil, and bake 20 minutes. Remove foil, and turn the oven to broil.  Cook for another 3-5 minutes, until breadcrumbs are browned and crispy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Pull-apart Bread

Apple Cinnamon Pull-apart Bread Recipe

Promise me that you'll share this.  I didn't and I really should have.

This, my friends, is apple cinnamon gooey, yeasty, goodness.  It is perfect for sharing, because you can just pull the pieces off and serve them.  Your family might like to try this at some point during the holidays and it would make a lovely addition to a holiday brunch.  I also totally didn't even think about the fact that this is the second apple cinnamon post in a row. It seems that after all those pumpkin recipes, we are on an apple cinnamon kick here at K&K Test Kitchen. You'll forgive us though, since you will want to bookmark both recipes!

Speaking of holiday recipes, I created a Pinterest board to round up my favorite ideas, both from K&K Test Kitchen and from our blogger friends, for your holiday meals.  Thanksgiving is next week, so go check out the board for ideas, including our turkey how-to, delicious sides and desserts!

Also, I'm obsessed with Adele's "Skyfall" and after watching the video for it about a hundred times, I'm convinced that I really need to see the movie (yes, I love the song and also those one second clips of Daniel Craig's abs aren't enough).

Apple Cinnamon Pull-apart Bread Recipe

Apple Cinnamon Pull-apart Bread

Adapted from Joy the Baker

3  cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 ounces unsalted butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Filling:

1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted until browned
1 Granny Smith Apple, finely diced

I did this:  As a fail-safe, feel free to activate your yeast first.  To activate yeast, whisk yeast into 3 tablespoons of warm water.  The water should be between 105 and 115°F.  Add a pinch of granulated sugar and allow the mixture to sit for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is foamy and frothy.  Your yeast is ready to go!  If the mixture does not foam and froth, toss the yeast and try again with another package of yeast.  Add the activated yeast when you combine the wet and dry ingredients.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar, and salt.  Set aside.

Whisk together eggs and set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt together milk and butter until butter has just melted.  Remove from the heat and add water and vanilla extract.  Let mixture stand for a minute or two, or until the mixture registers 115 to 125°F.

Pour the milk mixture and the yeast into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula.  Add the eggs and stir the mixture until the eggs are incorporated into the batter.  The eggs will feel soupy and it’ll seem like the dough and the eggs are never going to come together.  Keep stirring.  Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour and stir with the spatula for about 2 minutes.  The mixture will be sticky.

Place the dough is a large,  greased bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel.  Place in a warm space and allow to rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour.  *The dough can be risen until doubled in size, then refrigerated overnight for use in the morning.  If you’re using this method, just let the dough rest on the counter for 30 minutes before following the roll-out directions below.

While the dough rises, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg for the filling.  Set aside.  Melt 2 ounces of butter until browned.  Set aside.  Grease and flour a 9x5x3-inch  loaf pan.  Set that aside too.

Deflate the risen dough and knead about 2 tablespoons of flour into the dough.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes.  On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out.  The dough should be 12-inches tall and about 20-inches long.  If you can’t get the dough to 20-inches long… that’s okay.  Just roll it as large as the dough will go.  Use a pastry brush to spread melted butter across all of the dough.  Sprinkle with all of the sugar and cinnamon mixture.  Then sprinkle evenly with diced apples.

Slice the dough vertically, into six equal-sized strips.  Stack the strips on top of one another and slice the stack into six equal slices once again.  You’ll have six stacks of six squares.  Layer the dough squares in the loaf pan like a flip-book.  Place a kitchen towel over the loaf pan and allow in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F.  Place loaf in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is very golden brown.  The top may be lightly browned, but the center may still be raw.  A nice, dark, golden brown will ensure that the center is cooked as well.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes.   Run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the bread and invert onto  a clean board.  Place a cake stand or cake plate on top of the  upside down loaf, and carefully invert so it’s right side up.  Serve warm with coffee or tea.

Apple Cinnamon Pull-apart Bread Recipe

Monday, November 12, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

As Kelsey was jetting off to the airport on Friday to catch a flight to NYC, she sent off a text "Mom, can you do a post for Monday?" Of course, I answered yes as it gave me a good excuse to bake this weekend.  I have my mother in town visiting so I decided to go with an old family favorite.  This recipe  for the Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake has been in the family for over 40 years.  It was given to my mom by a friend Carmen Vance.  My mother, Betty loves any excuse to sit down with a good cup of coffee.

Since Arlington is experiencing beautiful fall weather, we headed to the Eastern Market in DC to wander the rows of vendors to find the prefect apples.  I love farmer markets and this one is particular is a dandy!  My favorite stall is a operated by a family out of West Virginia that comes in and has a sign "pay Grandma over ther" and Grandma is sitting on the side collecting the cash and adding everything up by hand!  I only wish Tim, my photographer and husband, had gotten a picture of her.  I found my apples at the next stall as the vendor had a description of the apples with them.  According to the sign, the Stayman apples are prefect for baking as they hold their shape and they have a mildly tart and tangy flavor.  With my bags full of fresh produce and apples in hand, I was ready to head home to bake for the blog after a pleasant stroll through the Eastern Market!

This coffee cake recipe is a dense cake with mild sweetness.  Next time, I will make thinner layers to get more apples and cinnamon thru out it.  It is easy to put together but it takes an hour to cook so be aware of that.  Nice to know that an old favorite recipe still is enjoyable!

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Recipe from Betty Wright, Kelsey's Grandmother

Cake Batter:

¼ cup of orange juice
4 eggs
1 cup of canola oil
3 tsp. of baking powder
3 cups flour
2 cups white sugar


3 large apples, peeled and sliced ¼ “ thick ( I used Stayman apples)
2 Tbsp. of cinnamon and 2 Tbsp of sugar combined

1. Combine all the ingredients of the cake batter and mix well. This is a very sticky thick consistency.
2. Combine the 2 tbsp. of cinnamon and the 2 tbsp. of sugar for the topping.
3. In a 10” tube pan, layer batter, apples and cinnamon mixture; repeating layers one or time.
4. Bake for 1 hour, making sure it is dry when tested.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Beef Barbacoa Tacos

Beef Barbacoa Recipe

A bunch of food bloggers are getting together today to share home-cooked, comforting meals on our blogs, the type of meals you'd take to a neighbor in need.  Hurricane Sandy left a wide path of destruction in her wake and there are still so many people dealing with the aftermath of the storm, people who have lost their homes or seen their businesses destroyed. Jenn of Jenn Cuisine and Barb from Creative Culinary wanted to find a way to help, so Food Bloggers Support for Sandy was born. Today, all across the food blogosphere, you'll find delicious, comforting recipes. Perhaps you have a neighbor that you might actually want to make one of these recipes for. 

These beef barbacoa tacos are definitely my type of comfort food. They are rich and spicy. They cook for a long time, so by the time you're done, your house will smell amazing.

If you click the link below, it will take you to the Red Cross website where you can make a donation, if you haven't already. We also encourage you to follow #FBS4Sandy on Twitter to see what everyone else made.

For other ways to help:

Beef Barbacoa Taco Recipe

Beef Barbacoa

Adapted from Serious Eats, Skinny Taste, and the Kitchn

3 lbs. inside round roast beef
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1-1/2 small onions
5 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons cumin
1/3 cup amber ale
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
4 cups chicken broth
Juice from one lime
4 chipotles in adobo, with sauce

In a Dutch oven, brown onions in vegetable oil over medium heat for ten minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the spices and cook for an additional 30 seconds.  Pour beer into the pot, stirring well to deglaze the pot.  Add the apple cider vinegar, broth, lime juice and chipotles. Stir well and simmer for 5 minutes.  Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture in the pot.

Add the beef to the pot, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Transfer to the oven and cook, flipping occasionally for 3-4  hours or until tender.  Remove the beef from the pot and set aside to cool slightly on a plate.  Return the pot to the stove top, allowing the sauce to come to a boil.  Cook it for about 5 minutes, or until it reduces and thickens slightly.  Shred the meat while the sauce reduces, then return it to the pot, stirring to coat the meat in sauce.

Serve with corn tortillas.  Suggested toppings: sliced avocado, diced tomatoes, pickled onion, cilantro, limes etc.

I also had some of the beef with roasted butternut squash and some spinach... delicious!

Monday, November 5, 2012

White Beans and Cabbage with Grainy Mustard and Beer

White Beans and Cabbage with Grainy Mustard and Beer

A few weeks ago, I put in a hefty order on  Receiving the package in the mail was akin to opening presents on Christmas morning.  The box that arrived in the mail contained two of the most beautiful cookbooks I've ever seen, a fun cocktail handbook, and my book club book.  I immediately dove into the cookbooks and was so inspired.  This recipe is an adaptation of one of the recipes from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Everyday.  I trust that her version would have been delicious, but I happened to have a half of a beer left over from the previous evening in the fridge.  Drinking flat beer isn't really that appealing, so I figured that I could dump it into my dinner instead.  I added some grainy mustard too to round out the flavors.  A lovely, comforting vegetarian dish resulted from this little experiment.  I seriously could not get enough of this dish.  I'm so excited to try out the other recipes in Heidi's cookbook, it will definitely provide a lot of inspiration to get back to "Meatless Mondays."

White Beans and Cabbage with Grainy Mustard and Beer

Adapted from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Everyday

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces small white potatoes, scrubbed and cut into tiny cubes
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 can white beans (or 2 cups cooked white beans)
3 cups, finely shredded green cabbage
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup amber ale
1-1/2 tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet.  Add the potatoes and a pinch of sea salt. Cover and cook, stirring several times, until the potatoes are cooked through and slightly browned on all sides.  Stir in the shallot and beans.  Allow the beans to cook in a single layer for several minutes, stirring to flip the beans, then cooking for another several minutes to brown them.  Add the cabbage, cook for 2 minutes, until it starts to wilt slightly, then add the beer.  Simmer until the beer is cooked almost completely away.  Add the mustard and stir to mix it in completely.  Season with freshly ground pepper and serve.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Easy Maple Pumpkin Oatmeal

easy maple pumpkin oatmeal recipe

Happy Friday everyone!  I'm looking forward to a relaxing weekend, maybe curl up on my couch and catch up on the TV shows that I missed this week.  I will be very thankful that I have a nice, warm apartment with power and heat, and thinking of my friends and all those who are still feeling the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy.

Weekends are a great time to make a delicious, hearty breakfast, but it's also important to eat a healthy and filling breakfast during the week.  This maple pumpkin oatmeal is my latest breakfast obsession.  I go through phases with my food, music, etc. where I get stuck on one thing for a while and then I get bored and switch to something new.  During the summer and into fall, I was on a smoothie kick and now that the mornings are colder, I am moving back towards oatmeal - my winter breakfast staple.  This oatmeal is so easy to make. It comes together in under 10 minutes and it is seriously delicious, which makes my mornings so stress free and leaves me feeling full and happy. The best part about the oatmeal is that it tastes like a pumpkin pie! The recipe makes a single serving, so just multiply if you're feeding a crowd.

Easy Maple Pumpkin Oatmeal

Makes a single serving

1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup water
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
Dash of Nutmeg
Dash of all-spice
2 heaping tablespoons pure pumpkin puree (you can add more depending on your preference)
1 teaspoon ground flax (optional)
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons chopped pecans

Combine water, oats, salt, and spices in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Stir constantly until the oats are cooked (about 5 minutes).

Add pumpkin puree (and flax) and stir well to combine. Cook another 30 seconds, then add the maple syrup and brown sugar.  Transfer to a bowl and stir in the pecans, then eat!

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