It's time for a seasonal post from the Secret Recipe Club! Our theme was Fall Dishes and I was assigned Things I Make (For Dinner). This blog is written by Sarah who, in addition to my name, shares my love of cooking, travel, and sleeping.
Fall means pumpkin for a lot of people, myself included, and I found a Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting that looked yummy. For me, it also means apple; like this Apple Crisp or Apple Fritter Cake. But what about something a little different, like Nutella Ice Cream? Or something savory like Tex-Mex Stuffed Butternut Squash?
In the end, there was one dish that caught my eye the most: Pumpkin Maple Custards.
These custards are made with pumpkin, cream, milk, maple syrup, egg yolks, and spices. Simple and delicious. After the base is made, it is poured into ramekins and baked in a water bath, much like creme brulee.
I've joined a group called Improv Cooking Challenge, where each month 2 ingredients are chosen for us to make dishes with. This month was peaches and cream - yum! I scrolled through my saved recipes on Pinterest and found this Peach Cobbler Trifle that looked perfect for the challenge!
Pound cake is layered with a pudding mixture, peaches, and a crumble topping. My trifle dish is actually a punch bowl, so I only made 2 layers. But with a taller, narrower dish - you could make 3 layers.
I really liked that the pudding mixture used orange zest and sour cream to take it out of too sweet territory. I added a pinch of salt to the crumble mixture and the peaches to help in this regard, too.
I have a group of girlfriends that get together on a regular basis and take turns providing snacks and drinks. A few of them have a mighty sweet-tooth (we call them hummingbirds); so I knew that when it was my turn to bring a cocktail, I wanted to make something sweet. I found a quick and easy cocktail recipe that is sure to please lovers of sweets (especially cookies) - the Snickerdoodle Martini. It also features one of my all-time favorite liquors, RumChata.
adapted from Dawn Nicole
cinnamon sugar (I use 8 parts sugar to 1 part cinnamon, some people use 4:1)
12 oz half and half
4 oz RumChata
4 oz vanilla vodka
2 tsp powdered sugar
Pour cinnamon sugar onto a small plate, and honey onto another. Dip the rims of 4 glasses into the honey, then the cinnamon sugar.
In a cocktail shaker, pour remaining ingredients over ice. Shake until chilled and mixed well.
Divide evenly among cinnamon sugar rimmed glasses and enjoy!
One Year Ago - Apple Galette with Salted Bourbon Caramel
Two Years Ago - Massaged Kale Salad; Broccoli Pesto
Three Years Ago - Mini Pie Party
Four Years Ago - Roasted Salmon with Grapefruit
Five Years Ago - Moussaka
I love to make French Toast this time of year. My husband loves it, too, he says that my French Toast is the best (so sweet <3). I think the secret is to definitely use brioche or challah, that plus a million ingredients in the batter - read on!
In addition to eggs and cream, I use vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange juice, lemon zest, and sherry. So many flavors! It is so worth it. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, either slice the bread (thickly, 1 inch) the night before and leave it out to get stale, or toast it slightly in the morning. Then make the batter and soak each side of the bread for 10 minutes. Just before you cook the toast (in butter, of course), sprinkle one side with granulated sugar - this will created a yummy bit of caramelization. Do the same to the other side before you flip it over to cook.
Top with lots of butter and some maple syrup. Yum. This is definitely the perfect French Toast - custardy in the middle, little bit of caramelization, lots of flavor.
It's Secret Recipe Club time again! This month I was assigned Sarah's Kitchen - a name that I love, obviously. Sarahs of the world unite! Sarah is from England, but now lives in Texas - which is kind of funny because I'm from Texas and once lived in Ireland (which I realize is not the same as England, but is geographically/culturally similar). Spooky.
Anyway, I was clearly craving a casserole while looking through Sarah's blog because every recipe I was drawn to was one. Like this Stovetop Beef and Penne Casserole, this Eight Layer Casserole, these two Mexican Casseroles, this Chicken and Dumplings Casserole, and this Turkey Tetrazzini. They all looked tempting, but as soon as a saw a recipe for Pastitsio, I was done. This Greek lasagna like casserole is one of my all time favorite dishes. So let's make it!
Start by sauteing onions and garlic, then browning beef. I actually chose to use half beef and half lamb.
When the beef is browned, stir in tomato paste.
I finally got my act together in time to post for Food 'n Flix, ha! I really need to work on that! Anyway, this month's movie is Butter - hosted by Cheap Ethnic Eats. This hilarious movie is about wealth, race, privilege, power, family, small town America, and (of course) butter. I'd seen it before, and enjoyed it so much that I didn't mind renting it again just to look for food references. Which, by the way, are few and far between other than the ubiquitous butter.
So what was I going to make that would feature butter? I came up with a few ideas, but I kept circling back to these apple dumplings (even though I'd posted about them before). They really are perfect for this movie, though - a little bit redneck, totally unhealthy, and drenched in butter.
The dumplings are actually really easy to make. I like them best when they are fresh and the sugar on top is still crunchy, so I tend to make half a recipe one day and the other half the next day - which is why you will only see 4 dumplings in the photos. Start by peeling and coring an apple, then cutting into 8 slices.
Last month I posted about a Cranberry Custard Pie using my favorite dough recipe. I typically use a deep dish pie plate, but for that recipe I used a shallower one. So I had a lot of leftover dough to make something else with. I grabbed some apples that were on their way to getting old, and made a galette.
An apple galette in and of itself is not that exciting, but this caramel sauce - with bourbon and fleur de sel - so luscious. It really takes a basic tart over the top.
Now that we are nearing the end of Spring (that never really felt like Spring, dangit) - it's time to preserve some of that delicate seasonal fruit. I'm talking strawberries and rhubarb, people. I tried out three different jam recipes in the same day, because I am a crazy person (and because I bought way too many local strawberries at the farmers market).
First up is my mother-in-law's fresh strawberry syrup recipe (pictured in front and in the bowl on the right) - if only I had access to Oregon berries like her! Jasper loves this recipe, so I make a TON and freeze it to use all year (if it lasts that long). He loves to put it on sourdough pancakes and vanilla ice cream, I like it swirled into plain Greek yogurt. This is a raw fruit jam recipe (with more berries and less sugar to make it more of a syrup than a jam), so the taste of the fresh berries really comes through.
Next is a Raspberry and Rhubarb Jam with Cardamom (pictured in the middle and in the jar on the left) that was supposed to use apple juice, but I had cranberry on hand so I subbed that and it added a lot of cranberry flavor. It tastes very fall like to me because of the cranberry and spices. This is the only jam that I canned, so I will probably save it for the fall. If you want more of the rhubarb flavor to come through, use the apple juice instead.
And last is a Rhubarb, Raspberry, and Strawberry Jam thickened with Chia Seeds (pictured in the back and in the jar on the right). This is touted as a healthy recipe because the fruit is raw and it uses raw honey as sweetener. Because you use chia seeds to thicken it, instead of pectin, you can use much less sugar than you could for a traditional jam. This one came out pretty tart for me, but Jasper really likes it. The concept works really well, so I will probably be trying out different fruits. This recipe actually said to just puree the raw rhubarb, but I was pretty skeptical about that, so I simmered it in a little bit of cranberry juice first (since I was already doing that for the other jam).
Let's get jammin! I really crack myself up...
Merry Christmas, y'all! We went on a bit of a crazy roadtrip (which I will tell you about later, because there are restaurants involved) and didn't get back til late on the 22nd, which left us in a bit of a scramble to get ready for Christmas. We managed to get some outdoor decorations up (check out the wreath I made!), but no tree or anything indoors.
We also spent all our holiday money on travel, so no presents this year. But we did have a nice Christmas dinner (I mean, come on - how could I not, right?). Honey Baked Ham (going store bought on the main let me focus on sides); Spinach and Gruyere Strata; Sweet Potato Gratin with Caramelized Onions; and Bacon Popovers.
And a Cranberry Raisin Tart with orange zest and spices for dessert.
Oh yeah, and breakfast! Can't forget Christmas morning sweets! I made these Cranberry Orange Rolls by Smitten Kitchen - yum!