Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Apple Cake

During the fall I always crave apple desserts. Maybe it comes from growing up with lots of apples from my grandpa's orchard. Maybe it's just because my dad is the biggest fruit-a-holic of all time and he passed that on to us. This is a recipe from my mom and it just wouldn't be fall without having appple cake at least once. I started early this year and made it before the first official day of fall even hit, I just couldn't wait one more day for the delicious aroma and even more amazing taste of this cake.

Apple Cake
2 c. sugar (I used half Splenda and half regular sugar)
1/2 c. butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
2 c. flour
4 c. shredded apples (I used a mixture of granny smith, jonagold, and honeycrisp)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. nutmeg (optional--I leave this out because I have issues with nutmeg, but if you like nutmeg go ahead and add it)

1 c. chopped walnuts or pecans
2 T. melted butter or margarine
1 c. brown sugar (I used 1/2 cup brown sugar Splenda instead)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine all cake ingredients in large bowl and mix well. Pour into greased 9x13 pan.
3. Combine all topping ingredients and sprinkle evenly over cake batter.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until top is golden brown and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean or mostly clean.
5. Cool slightly and top with whipped cream. It is best warm!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mac and Cheese

Everybody loves Mac and Cheese. Only I'm not so much of a fan of the Kraft Easy Mac and stuff anymore. It just didn't grow up with me. So when I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit I knew that I had to make it (even if it is technically part of an ad). I made a few modifictions (but not many).

Kerrygold Mac and Cheese

1 pound macaroni, penne, or ziti, cooked tender and cooled
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup onion, small dice
pinch of sugar
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 cups milk (I used half whole milk and half 2 percent)
1 cup heavy cream
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chedder, grated (the original says to use the Kerrygold brand- which is great cheese, but pricey)
1 cup Swiss, grated (I subbed Jarlsburg in here)
1 1/2 cups Kerrygold Dubliner, grated (This I actually used, it's fantastic!)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 slices bacon or prosciutto (this is my addition, I used half of each)
1 cup bread crumbs
fresh parsley

1. Cook pasta and set aside to cool.
2. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, add onion and just a little salt. Add the pinch of sugar and cook until onion is tranluscent.
3. Add flour and cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Don't let it color! Whisk in milk and cream, incorporating totally. Bring mixture to a simmer and add the bay leaf and cloves.
4. Reduce heat to low. Cook for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and remove bay leaf.
5. Whisk in chedder and Swiss cheese, until incorporated. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
6. Combine the pasta, bacon and cheese sauce in a large bowl. Spoon into a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish.
7. Top with grated Dubliner, parsley and breadcrumbs (you could also add other herbs like thyme, but I like it simple).
8. Bake at 375 degrees farenheit for 8 to 10 minutes.

(In the magazine they also mention adding sauteed mushrooms for another variation. Could be tasty.)

It's very, very tasty. But not exactly healthfood.

Adapted from a Kerrygold ad in the October 2008 Bon Appetit magazine.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

My Favorites: Betty Crocker

Betty Crocker. I owe at least half (probably more) of my cooking skills to good old Betty. She was there for me when I was just a tiny kid, learning how to cook. She taught me about cookies, pancakes, cobbler, sweet and sour sauce, and meatballs. Her big red classic cookbook was always a staple in my household growing up, so when I happened upon a copy of it while at a swap meet 8 years ago, I had to snatch it up. $2 for Betty? That's definitely an offer I couldn't refuse. Since then, I've consulted her often, and she's never let me down. Since then I've also aquired other Betty Crocker cookbooks, such as the Quick and Easy cookbook, and the recipes keep getting better. If you don't have one of her cookbooks, you're crazy, but you can check her out online at http://www.bettycrocker.com/ And if you don't like to cook from scratch, you can also buy her baking mixes at the store. I definitely recommend the chocolate walnut chunk brownies, lemon poppyseed muffins, and devil's food cake mix. They're virtually fail-proof and ready in minutes. Oh Betty, where would I be without you?
***As a side note, it turns out that Betty Crocker was never an actual person, just a name created by the Washburn Crosby Company to give cooking advice and market their products. The day I learned that a little piece inside of me died.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fresh Peach Cobbler

I remember making this with my mom when I was younger. The smell is AMAZING and it tastes even better. It's perfect for breakfast (warmed up in the microwave) on a chilly fall or winter day, and makes a great dessert when you add vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. This is a classic Betty Crocker recipe, and I've never tasted another cobbler that I like quite as much. This time I made peach-raspberry cobbler with fresh peaches from my dad's orchard (aka his backyard full of fruit trees) and fresh raspberries from my in-law's garden. I also used Splenda instead of sugar and it turned out fabulous! Enjoy!

Peach Cobbler a la Betty Crocker

1/2 cup sugar or Splenda
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cups sliced fresh peaches (6 medium) or 1 large can peaches (with juice)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons shortening
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar or Splenda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 cup fresh raspberries (optional)

1. Heat oven to 400ยบ.
2. Mix 1/2 cup sugar, the cornstarch and cinnamon in 2-quart saucepan. Stir in peaches (and raspberries if desired) and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute. Pour into ungreased 2-quart casserole; keep peach mixture hot in oven.
3. Cut shortening into flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, the baking powder and salt in medium bowl, using pastry blender or crisscrossing 2 knives, until mixture look like fine crumbs. Stir in milk. Drop dough by 6 spoonfuls onto hot peach mixture.
4. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until topping is golden brown. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream if desired (and it's totally recommended, even for breakfast. Cobbler is just never as good without a big scoop of vanilla bean ice cream).

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