Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Sassy Sweets: Tipsy Apple Crumb Cake

Last weekend we went apple picking, as we do every year.  And sure I've made now a few pounds of apple sauce, apple piesapple muffins, and my favorite fall dinner.  But, I had yet to test my skills in a new and exciting way.  When John started bothering me to make crumb cake, I thought we would have to mix it up a little.  There's only so many crumb cakes and apple pies I can make until it becomes tedious.

So, I mixed it up.  A sweet layer of calvados caramel apples and crumbs, this is a really sweet crumb cake.  As you know, I frequently blur the "crumb cake" appropriateness from breakfast to sweet but this one falls directly on the sweet category.  Unless you want to get a little tipsy during breakfast, serve this one as a perfectly sweet way to celebrate the end of an autumn day.

It is finally getting chilly in NYC so there will definitely be mroe baked goods hitting the blog - stay tuned!
Tipsy Apple Crumb Skillet Cake
Serves:  8-10
1 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon
6 tablespoons butter, cut into tablespoons

Tipsy Apples:

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 apples, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons Calvados (or substitute apple brandy or applejack)

3/4 cup cake flour1/4 cup sugar1/8 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons buttermilk 

Crumb:  In a small bowl combine flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  Cut the butter in until small pebbles of dough form.  Set aside.

Tipsy Apples:  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a heavy-bottomed skillet over low heat.  Add brown sugar and cool until a dark caramel forms.  Add in the apples, being careful as the caramel will spit.  Stir in the Calvados and toss apples until they are softened.  Set aside.

Cake:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Stir together flour, sugar, and baking soda in a small bowl.  Mix in butter, egg, vanilla extract, until well-combined.  Fold in buttermilk.  Pour into a greased 9-inch cast iron skillet.  Bake for 5 minutes.  Then, remove cake from the oven and put apples evenly over the top of cake, then crumbs evenly over the top of the apples.  Bake 15-20 minutes until the cake is fully cooked through (tested with a toothpick, the toothpick should come out clean).  

Serve warm or let cool and place in an airtight container until ready to use.  

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Weeknight Dinner: Make-Ahead Enchiladas

Now that school has started, work is back with a vengeance (since, well, we don't go to school anymore), and the air is turning slightly crisper (especially late at night when I leave the office), I've been fixated on meals I can make Sundays but that are delicious and easy for us to eat whatever time that is. 

Lately work has been more hectic than normal.  It's an exciting time to be a part of my company and I really feel like we are poised for success now more than ever.  But, that means sometimes John is eating dinner without me, or me without him, and the times we do get together, well, we want to eat, not sit and make elaborate meals at 9 PM.

I know you get this.  Everyone, in their own lives, is busy with something - whether it's kids or hobbies or work like us, sometimes the dinners take a backseat to plain old life!  That's where these enchiladas are so perfect.  They are delicious, healthy enough, and easy to make.  In fact, you can freeze them in pairs or more for a quick microwave dinner that you know is healthy and wholesome because you made it!
Make-Ahead Enchiladas
Serves:  4 (8 enchiladas)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, diced
1 jalapenos, deseeded and diced
1 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can 12-ounce enchilada sauce
8 tortillas
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion and jalapeno and saute 2-3 minutes, until onion is softened.  Add turkey and brown thoroughly.  Add cumin, chili powder, paprika, chipotle powder, and 2 tablespoons water.  Stir and let simmer over low heat for 5-8 minutes.  Add kidney beans and 1/4 cup enchilada sauce.  Simmer another 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Working with 1 tortilla at a time, place 1/2 cup of meat mixture onto the middle of the tortilla.  Carefully roll it up and place, seam side down, into a greased 8x8 baking pan.  Repeat until all tortillas are rolled and sitting side by side in 8x8 pan.  Top with remaining enchilada sauce.  Top evenly with cheese.

Bake 10-12 minutes until cheese is melted.  Serve immediately.  Alternatively, let cool.  Freeze in pairs in large zip-close plastic bags.  To serve frozen enchiladas, microwave 3-5 minutes on HIGH or reheat in the oven at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes.
Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Weeknight Dinner: White Veggie Pizza

John's favorite pizza is white pizza.  He doesn't love ricotta which makes it weird that he likes white pizza but John isn't the most normal man I know so, I guess it works.  It's really nice to know that every Friday is our pizza night.  It's synonymous with relaxing and easy.  Five minute pizza dough, some sauce, cheese, and we're done!  Dinner on the table in 30 minutes and the rest of the night we get to chill out and get over the stress of the week.

Of course, doing this every week means that pizza inevitably gets boring.  Which means we try to mix it up with a number of variations.  John loves white pizza and last week I decided it would be good for both my diet and my boyfriend if we made something a bit healthier than the standard fare.

This type of pizza is my favorite.  It's literally all the odds and ends in the fridge, caramelized to perfection and placed on a family-friendly vessel (the pizza).  John eats mushrooms without complaint if they are interspersed with spinach, dough, and cheese!
White Veggie Pizza
Serves: 4 (1 pizza)
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup mushrooms, diced
1 onion, diced
1 cup spinach
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 ball of homemade dough (or premade dough)
2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon dried oregano flakes

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and onions and stirring about once a minute, cook the vegetables for 6-8 minutes, until mushrooms lose their moisture and onions are translucent.  Add spinach, let wilt, about 2 minutes.  Place over low heat until ready to use.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine ricotta, skim, and garlic.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Roll out the dough onto a greased pizza pan.  Cover with ricotta mixture and spread evenly over the dough.  Cover with mozzarella cheese, then red pepper flakes and oregano flakes.  Top the entire pizza evenly with spinach mixture.

Cook 12-15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cut into slices.  Serve while hot.

To store, place in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Time-Out: Copycat Garlic and Herb Pizza Dough

It used to be that Trader Joe's had pizza dough for 99 cents.  It was great fun when we lived in Boston to pick it up on our way back to the apartment.  Of course, these days it's easier to just make it myself when I get home from the office.  I've done all sorts of different variations but the reality is our absolute favorite is the garlic and herb.

It's almost too easy to justify paying the now $1.25+ for the pizza dough, even when we can get to a Trader Joe's.  It takes us 5 minutes and tastes absolutely delicious.  Best part of all, you likely have most everything you need already in your cabinets except for just one key ingredient, yeast!

So, do what we do.  Twice a year, we head to BJs and get a tremendous yeast can that sits in our fridge for months while I use 2 1/4 tablespoons every week.  And when we get low, well, BJs is there for us (and our pizza loving minds).  You'll never have an excuse not to make pizza at home in the same time it takes to order and wait for that pizza delivery.
Copycat Garlic and Herb Pizza Dough
Serves:  1 large pizza (1 ball of dough)
2 1/4 tablespoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons italian seasoning

In a large bowl, combine yeast, water, and sugar.  Let sit for 5-7 minutes until foamy.  Add flour and salt.  Using a large wooden spoon*, combine the ingredients until a dough forms.  Add garlic powder and italian seasoning.  Flour your hands and in the bowl, knead the dough for 3-5 minutes.  Let sit for 5 minutes, until dough has risen slightly.

Roll out directly onto a greased pizza pan in order to avoid sticking when cooked.

*You can alternatively use your stand mixer by using the dough hook in place of the wooden spoon and your hands!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Weeknight Dinner: Carne Asada Salad

This salad is like a plain taco salad on steroids.  It all started because John and I have been looking for houses in order to make my goal of having one by the time I am thirty.  Unfortunately, we're not doing too well in the choosing department.  Mainly because we are both picky about different things.

We looked at a house two weekends ago that seemed to have promise.  It's right near the Trader Joe's in our area so we decided to stop in and look around once we were finished.  They had some delicious looking meats and prepackaged preflavored meat options.  John immediately went for the carne asada steak.  I convinced him to put it back and get a normal steak that we could marinate ourselves.  Rather than have just one big steak, I put it over a taco salad that I thought sounded delicious.

John doesn't care about eating healthy as long as he is maximizing flavor.  I made sure that the steak really showed through and he gobbled up every bite without any complaints!  The Carne Asada marinade is one I have made before but it is so good that we never think of using anything else!
Carne Asada Salad
Serves;  4
1 can Ranchera Sauce, reserve 2 tablespoons
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
16 ounces strip steak

3 romaine hearts, chopped
1 carrot, grated
4 tablespoons shredded Cheddar cheese
8 tablespoons ranch dressing
2 tablespoons Ranchera sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice

Steak:  Combine the Ranchera Sauce (reserving 2 tablespoons for salad), garlic, lime juice, pepper, salt, and steak.  Marinade 30-60 minutes.  Then, preheat the grill to medium-high heat.  Cook 6-8 minutes on each side, flipping once.  The middle should be a light pink.  Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Salad:  Combine romaine hearts, carrot, and cheese in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, combine ranch, Ranchera sauce. and lime juice.  Add the Ranchera dressing into the romaine mixture and toss well until fully combined.  Plate evenly amongst 4 plates.  Spread steak evenly over the tops of each.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sassy Sweets: Peanut Butter & Jelly Cupcakes

Peanut butter jelly time, peanut butter jelly time, peanut butter, jelly...peanut butter, jelly!  I can't stop singing this song as I think about how delicious these cupcakes were.  There are a few people that you work with, I think in every company, that you really just click with.  They are the type of people you really enjoy talking to and because of their jobs and your jobs, you experience a closeness that might not have developed otherwise.

One of my favorite women in the office had her birthday last month.  I thought it would be nice to make her some delicious cupcakes (because, who doesn't love cupcakes on their birthday?!).  But, when I asked her her favorite flavor, she replied "Peanut Butter and Jelly" as if it would be obvious to anyone that this is a fantastic cupcake flavor.

I had never even heard of this type of cupcake and was so intrigued I figured I should definitely make it myself!  The result was a really intoxicating mix of that classic lunchbox sandwich.  I held off posting about it until this week because how fun would it be to send the kids off to school with these delicious treats, right?!  Believe me, you'll be missing out if you don't make them.
Peanut Butter & Jelly Cupcakes
Serves:  24 (24 cupcakes)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter, melted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup skim milk*

Raspberry Jelly Filling:
1 cup raspberry jam

Peanut Butter Frosting;
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup peanut butter

Cupcakes:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a small bowl; set aside.  In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar, about 2 minutes until light and foamy.  Gradually pour in the butter and vanilla while mixing constantly.  Slowly add half the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.  Add all of the milk, mixing until just combined.  Then, add the rest of the dry ingredients, being careful not to overmix.  Spoon the batter into greased cupcake tins (or tins lined with cupcake liners).  Bake for 20-25 minutes until the centers of the cupcakes, when poked with a toothpick, come out clean.  Let cool.

Filling:  Cut a small cone out of the middle of each cupcake and fill with raspberry jam.

Frosting:  In a large bowl, beat together cream cheese and sugar.  Beat in the peanut butter.  Meanwhile, whip the cream separately until soft peaks form.  Fold in the whipped cream.  Pipe or frost the peanut butter frosting over the tops of the cupcakes.

Store in an airtight container up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Brilliant Brunch: Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.  Give me pretty much any breakfast food and I could enjoy it breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  It's the reason to get up in the morning.  Of course, most mornings, I'm rushing out the door which makes a delicious breakfast difficult.  

John's all about the savory breakfasts.  Corned Beef Hash, Eggs, Breakfast Sandwiches.  I, on the other hand (shocking no one I am sure) are all about the sweets.  French Toast, Cinnamon Rolls, and Waffles with Whipped Cream!  These Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes fit neatly in the center of both of our likes.  The buttermilk and blueberries keep the pancakes from being overly sweet, even if you drench them with maple syrup.  And, they are light and fluffy.  

Despite the fact that I hate making pancakes because well, they take SO long, we have had these a few times this summer.  They are just that good.  And, the perfect way to start the morning!  I like to make 4 servings and save the rest in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge.  That's how my mom would make them.  Take them out, microwave them for a few minutes (or put them on the griddle) and the pancakes are ready to eat!  What a treat for a weekday morning!
Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes (adapted from Martha Stewart)
Serves:  4
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
3 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup blueberries

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a large bowl.  Add eggs, buttermilk, 4 tablespoons butter.  Whisk until just combined being careful not to overmix.  Stir in blueberries.

Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet to 375 degrees (over medium-high heat).  Spray pan with cooking spray.  Pour about 3 tablespoons of batter in the pan (I can carefully fit 3 pancakes in my large skillet).  Before pouring the next pancake, leave 1-2 inches of room as they spread.

Pancakes will bubble on the top and look dry on the edges, about 2-3 minutes.  Flip and cook the other side an additional 1-2 minutes.  Repeat with all batter; if you notice the pancakes starting to stick, respray with additional cooking spray.
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Welcome! I'm Dani (aka the Growing Foodie), just a girl balancing her career and passion for all things edible in NYC. I hope you'll join me in my adventures in life, through food. (Click for More)
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