Sunday, September 27, 2009

Weekend Eats

I planned a lot of cooking this weekend, but I didn't get to all of it.  The best laid plans....right?

Saturday was "National Pancake Day," so we celebrated with a dutch baby.  What's that, you say?  It's a puffy pancake that you cook in the oven in a cast-iron skillet.  They're awesome, especially with strawberry jelly!  Happy Pancake Day from our family to yours.  :)

I made the two loaves of Apple Bread, as well as the apple pie and chili on Friday night.  Then I just petered out....and put off anything else that I felt like making.  The apple bread was the best-smelling apple bread ever!  Such a heavy mix couldn't even pour it from the mixing bowl to the loaf pan.  The apple pie was out of this world!!!  I've made many apple pies, and I still think the one from "The Joy of Cooking" is the best.  It was so good, Brian and I had it with coffee for breakfast this morning.    And the chili was of course great, with plenty of leftovers for Saturday and Sunday lunch.  (I just love a meal with lots of leftovers!) chicken soup just yet.  But there's chicken and apple tacos for dinner!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ambitious Weekend (to be)

It's Friday!!!! 

All of the applesauce and apple crisp ios gone, so I need to make some more stuff.  Not that that gigantic bowl of apples doesn't look pretty as a centerpiece on my dining room table! 

I asked my friends on Facebook what we should make next and I got some great answers.  One person suggested apple fritters.  Now, I had no idea what an apple fritter was so I went to look it up.  Awesome!  Anything generally fried in butter is good in my book!  My old friend Kathy sent me an apple bread recipe that she swears is out of this world.  It makes two loaves so I'm going to give it a shot tonight and freeze one.  Maybe some more applesauce. (though I'll definitely be peeling the apples this time!)  And we're celebrating both my mom and my dad's birthdays tomorrow, and my dad's absolute favorite dessert is apple pie.  I bought some refrigerated piecrust to make that as well.

Add that to the homemade chili we're going to have tonight (thank goodness the weather is nice and cool for that, FINALLY!) and the soup that I want to make on Sunday, it's going to be an adventurous culinary weekend!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Banana Muffins

With all of the apple-ing going on, I forgot to mention the banana pecan muffins from over the weekend. 

Brian has taken on the grocery shopping until the baby's born because with sciatica, it's just too much for me to go.  Those hard floors really take it out of me and render me useless for the rest of the day, so Thanks Brian!  :)  Anyway, every week, Brian buys bananas at the grocery store.  And every week, there are two bananas left from the week before.  Now, I hate to waste food.  But a lot of weeks go by and I end up throwing out these hangers-on because I simply lack the energy to bake something with 'em.  I was already moving around the kitchen this weekend like a house afire, so hence the banana muffins.  They're really mild-tasting, not like the banana bread that I usually make.  One thing though--the recipe said that it yields 12 standard size muffins.  Not so...I filled the large muffin pan, and then followed up with 18 mini muffins!  Will was in his glory...he loves mini-muffins!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Apple Crisp

When picking the apples this weekend, this dessert is what I had in mind.  Now, I had made a peach cobbler over the summer and I just wasn't happy with the biscuit topping.  Too bland!  Here is what I was looking for....sugary, sweet and delicious.

There really is no recipe to post, because I combined two separate recipes.  I will tell you that it contains Cortland apples, flour, brown sugar, lemon juice, pecans and maple syrup.  I also never realized that Cortland apples are so HARD!!  Getting our apple cutter through them was no easy task.  And I really hate peeling apples.  I know it's worth it and all, but it stinks.  It made me lust after one of those "unitasker" devices that you usually see advertised on TV, that cranks an apple or a potato and cores and peels at the same time.  But this house doesn't believe in Unitaskers, thanks to A.B.!

We were pretty full from our dinner of Apple-Stuffed Chicken Breasts, so Brian and I couldn't manage more than a small serving.  And the only ice cream we had in the house to top it was Cookies n Cream.  Interestingly enough, it really added something.  Or maybe that's the pregnancy hormones talking.  :)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hooray for Homemade Applesauce

Later on Sunday night, I pulled out "The Bible"  (aka Joy of Cooking) to see what apple recipes were inside.  Eureka!  Homemade applesauce!

I remember making applesauce in fourth grade for a school presentation.  I also remember it not being that difficult.  "The Bible" confirmed my thoughts.  According to the Joy of Cooking, applesauce really shines when you make it with 2-3 different kinds of apples.  I chose some Cortlands and McIntoshes from the bags.  Also, it said that peeling was optional.  After cutting and peeling Cortlands for Apple Crisp, I was all about not peeling them!!  Next is simmering them on the stove with a little cider for 20 minutes.  Done.  Add some sweetener. either 1/2 cup sugar or some honey.  I opted for sugar, but my kitchen was such a disaster, I didn't have any more measuring cups.  So I did a Rachael Ray and "eyeballed it."  Adding some spices next.  I whacked at the apples with a potato masher (love those multitaskers!) and then realized that the sauce needed to go through a sieve to get rid of the peels.  Brian and I tried and tried....we pushed as much sauce through an old colander as we could.  The end result?  Delicious and soooo satisfying.  It certainly beats the pants off the jarred kind!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Apple-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I must first say, this is NOT a weeknight dinner.  It takes a bit of time for sure.  It was so delicious, I am thrilled to have leftovers for the week!

Here is the link for the Apple-Stuffed Chicken Breasts.  We also made one change, we did not grill as it was 8pm on a Sunday night.  Instead, they were baked in a 400-degree oven for 25 minutes.  Brian was also concerned that they'd fall apart on the grill and I think he's right...

Brian stuffing the pounded chicken with the apple mixture.

Toothpicked together and ready for the oven.

The finished product....with an apple cider sauce.  The rice was good for sopping up the sauce!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Our Own Personal Applefest

We went apple picking today!  I hadn't been since I was a little kid, and I honestly don't remember it.  The place was super-crowded with a folk festival, but we managed to fill up two bags with Cortland, Gala and McIntosh apples.  Will LOVED his first experience in picking apples, and thought it was super-cool that his parents let him pull an apple off a tree and take a big bite out of it.  We loaded our bounty into the car, and Will promptly conked out as we left the parking lot.  Momma wasn't too far behind, dreaming of apple crisp.  After a short nap at home, it was time to start cooking.

Tonight's apple items were Apple-Stuffed Chicken Breasts, Fresh Applesauce and Apple Crisp.  Oh yes!!  The chicken was out-of-this-world good, and fresh applesauce beats the pants out of the jarred stuff.  I'll put recipes in a separate post.

One funny thing to mention is that we put all of the apples (still in the bags) on the dining room table when we got home.  They ended up falling over and some rolled onto the floor, scaring our dog.  Hilarious to watch!!  Will tried to help out but found a Gala apple and decided to take a bite.  I asked "Do you want some sliced apple, honey?"  Yes!  I went into the kitchen to slice it  for him, and before I can start I hear another "Crunch!"  Apparently, we made a monster out of him at the orchard!  This is how we help Mommy clean up the spilled apples...gotta eat them all.  :) 

No chicken soup this weekend, or anything pumpkin-y.  I left the Rachael Ray mag at work by accident and really want to make "that" soup.  And once I got apples on the brain, there was no room for pumpkin.  So another day, the fall season is just starting!

Friday, September 18, 2009

In Season....

It's time. 

Another reason for fall being my favorite time of the year....pumpkin!  Ohhhhh how I love pumpkin.  And I know some friends of mine that are hopelessly addicted this time of year.  I made a rare stop at Starbucks this morning, and their pumpkin line is out!  I'd already had my caffeine quota for the day so no pumpkin lattes.  I "settled" for a pumpkin cream cheese muffin.  Awesome!  The pumpkin flavor was so fresh, and the cream cheese filling ...oh!  Happiness.

This weekend we're taking Will to go apple picking.  I know that I went as a little kid but don't remember, so I can call it my "first" too.  I've heard that apple crops are fantastic this year.  When we were at the Woodstock Fair, there was an apple crisp booth.  They were cutting the apples and topping them right there...and it smelled so good.  Had I not already set my sights on a funnel cake, I would've had some. 

Another thing I've liked lately that's "in season" again is soup.  I have not made a homemade soup in a very long time, but I think I might this weekend.  The new Rachael Ray mag is out and there is a fantastic-looking chicken and orzo soup that's calling my name.  I'll let you know how it turns out!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Food and Dreams

Why are dreams so suggestive??  I dreamt about english muffins with peanut butter.  I don't even really LIKE peanut butter all that much.  I mean, once in a while it's ok.  I'm never going to be the kind of person that can stick a spoon in the jar and take a mouthful..  But this morning....I want peanut butter!!  And apples.  Luckily we have both and that's some semblance of healthy. 

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Neither Brian nor I felt like cooking last night, so we took Will to our favorite burger place...Red Robin!!  They have the best, most original burgers and Will's always up for a burger for dinner.  Though he likes to eat the bun from the top and only gets a bit of meat, but at least he's eating....pick your battles!

It's always hard to choose one from the menu.  I really like their Banzai burger, which has a ring of grilled fresh pineapple.  Or the Mushroom Swiss burger with the roasted garlic sauce, love that one too.  Brian likes the "Royal Red," which has a fried egg on top.  It sounded kind of funky, but I tried a bite once and it is good.  Brian's the one that introduced me to the "Elvis Burger," a burger with only bacon and chunky peanut butter.  At first I thought the idea was disgusting, but don't knock it till you've tried it!

We have NEVER ordered an appetizer or dessert at Red Robin.  The burgers are huge, and the portions of fresh steak fries are phenomenal as well.  But I poked around the menu a little longer last night and saw that they have chili.  Mmmm......I could really go for some chili.  Then I saw it.....a chili burger!  It's served open-faced and you have to eat it with a knife and fork because of how messy it can get.  BAM, Best of both worlds!!!  It was soooooo good but I couldn't eat it all, despite my best efforts.

So there you have it....all three of us happy at the same meal.  Practically unheard of!