Monday, October 29, 2012

Cinnamon Apple Scones

I'm on an apple kick, so here is another apple recipe.  I have some pumpkin recipes coming up so there will be some variety soon - I promise!

The idea for this recipe came from this recipe at King Arthur Flour.  The first time I followed their recipe exactly.  I loved the flavor combination, but not the texture - it wasn't as biscuity as I like - so I took the flavor ideas and put them in my regular scone recipe, resulting in a perfect fall scone.

I had the bag of cinnamon chips in my pantry for about 6 months and was never really sure about them.  Everyone I know who has tried the chips loves them, but I wasn't sure if I would have the same feelings.  In my mind chips are chocolate, maybe peanut butter.  When I saw this recipe, and being in an apple state of mind, my opinion of the cinnamon chips changed slightly.  Mixed with the sweet juicy apples and the buttery scones I now understand why so many people love these chips.

These are great any time of day, but I - and the rest of the Yellow Cheetah parents - found them particularly delicious as we sat outside on a chilly fall morning watching an early morning soccer game.  I made them on  Friday afternoon, put them in the refrigerator, then popped them in the oven Saturday morning.  They made watching girls U6 soccer even sweeter.

Cinnamon Apple Scones

5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cold
2 cups All purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup diced apples
½ cup cinnamon chips
½ cup finely chopped pecans
Cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven 425°.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut butter into ¼” cubes, or smaller, place in freezer while preparing rest of ingredients.

In large bowl combine flour, baking powder and sugar.  Toss to combine.  Using a pastry cutter, or your hands, gently combine the dry ingredients and flour until the mixture resembles a coarse sand.  Add heavy cream and mix until the dough begins to form.  Pour mixture out onto lightly floured work surface and knead until mixture forms a sticky ball.  Pat into a flat circle, sprinkle apple pieces, cinnamon chips and chopped apples on top of dough, fold dough in half and shape back into a circle.  

Cut into 8 wedges and place on baking sheet.  Place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  Remove from refrigerator, brush top with milk and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until tops are a light brown.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Apple Ginger Bread

It is the peak of fall which means there has been a lot of baking with apples going on around here.  Scones, pies and bread have been coming out of the oven in the past few weeks.

 Everything has been very yummy, but this bread has been has been the family favorite.

I used a combination of shredded and diced apples.  This makes a moist bread with soft juicy chunks scattered throughout which is the perfect contrast for the crunchy Streusel topping. The addition of crystallized ginger gives a wonderful sweet heat.  Mixed with the tang of the cranberries and the nutty pecans it is a perfectly sweet, spicy fall bread.

Apple Ginger Bread Adapted from 
Yield: 1 loaf        Prep Time : 30 minutes                 Cook Time: 60 minutes


½  cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup milk
2 tsp.  apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. apple pie spice (see below)
½ tsp. salt
2 cups peeled, shredded apples*
1 apple, peeled and diced
¾ cup chopped pecans
½ cup dried cranberries
2 Tbsp. chopped candied ginger

Streusel Topping:
¼ cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
3 Tbsp.  all-purpose flour
¼ tsp.  apple pie spice (see below)
2 Tbsp.  unsalted butter
1/3 cup chopped pecans

1.       Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 9x5x3- inch loaf pan with cooking spray, line bottom with parchment paper.    Set aside.
2.       In medium bowl sift flour, apple pie spice and salt together.  Set aside. 
3.       In the bowl of an electric mixer combine butter and sugars.  Mix until light and fluffy.  Add the buttermilk, vinegar and baking powder, mix until combined.  Add eggs and vanilla, mix until incorporated.  Slowly add flour mixture, mix on low until just combined.  Fold in apples, pecans, cranberries and ginger.  Pour in to prepared pan, spread evenly.  Set aside while preparing Streusel topping.
4.       For Streusel topping.  In small bowl combine sugar, flour and apple pie spice, stir to combine.   Cut in butter until mixture resembles small pebbles, stir in pecans. 
5.       Sprinkle Streusel topping over the batter, gently pressing it into the batter.
6.       Bake for 55-60 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
7.       Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan.  Cool completely on wire rack

Wrap tightly and - if you can wait – store overnight before slicing and serving, this give the flavors a chance to blend and enhances the taste. 

* Two cups is about 4 apples.  Honey Crisp or Granny Smith apples are recommended.   For additional texture dice one apple and shred the remaining 3 apples. 

Apple Pie Spice

5 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. allspice
1 ½ tsp. ground cardamom
1 tsp. ground ginger

In small bowl combine all ingredients, stir until thoroughly combined.  Store in an airtight container. 

*this is a great spice mixture for all of your fall baking.  It also makes a wonderful gift when stored in a decorative spice jar or container. 


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Free Form Mini Apple Tarts

This week Edy and I had two "Bacon" days.  We had our usual baking day on Tuesday and then on Wednesday we got to bake with all of her classmates, as I was the parent helper in her preschool class.

This was the first time cooking with this group of kids so I planned a snack that was primarily assembly.   Cooking with a group of young 3 year old kids always requires a lot of advanced prep and flexibility, but I have learned that the first project of the year requires even more prep, flexibility and patience.  As the kids get more comfortable cooking during class I will let them do more and more, but for this one we kept it pretty simple by making free form apple tarts.

Edy and I prepped the dough the day before.  We made a simple Pate Brisee (pie crust) which is one of those great hands on recipes for kids.  They get lots of opportunities to feel the ingredients come together and even if they play with the dough a lot it is hard for them to over mix it.

After we made the dough and let it chill I broke it into individual balls and flattened them out into small discs and left it to chill again until the next day when we were ready to use it at school.  I had planned on having the kids roll the dough out, but I had forgotten to bring some extra flour and the dough was pretty moist, so I decided to have the kids press the dough between their hands instead.  This worked well.  It provided a thicker base for them to work on and eliminated the frustration that sometimes comes with rolling out dough.

For the topping I had a bowl of diced apples, raisins - that had been soaked in apple juice, chopped pecans and cinnamon sugar.  I thought the kids would load up on the apples, but as often happens I completely misjudged and the raisins turned out to be the popular item.  A few kids even skipped the apples and just had raisin tarts with cinnamon sugar.

As always I had a hard time not adjusting the tarts after the kids were done.  I wanted to add some apples to those raisin tarts and wanted to flatten the dough on the tarts that were just balls with apples stuck in it.  As hard as it is the resist the temptation to help them too much and have them do it my way, the pride on their faces when they sit down to the snack they made, makes it worth it.

Free Form Apple Tarts
makes:  12 mini tarts

1 recipe Pate Brisee
4 apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 cup raisins
1 cup pecans or walnuts roughly chopped
1/2 cup cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 350
Divide dough into 12 equal size pieces, form into small discs and chill for 30 minutes.  After chilling roll dough in to 1/2" thick rounds, forming a thick lip around the outside edge.  Top each round with apples, raisins and nuts. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.  Place on parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until dough is a light golden brown.

Pate Brisee
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, cold cut into 12 pieces
2 egg yolks
3 Tbsp. cold milk

Using a mixer with the paddle attachment, or by hand, combine flour sugar and salt.  Scatter butter pieces over top of flour mixture.  Mix mixture resembles a coarse sand.  In a small bowl whisk together yolks and milk.  Ad to the flour mixture, mix until the dough just comes together and has a shaggy appearance.  Pour onto work surface, using the palm of your hand smear the butter chunks into the dough and gather mixture together.  Gather dough into a thick disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Can be kept in refrigerator for at least 4 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Monday, October 8, 2012

SRC: Sweet Potato Falafel

I have to admit that when I got my Secret Recipe Club assignment this month I didn't spend a lot of time searching Isabelle's site - Crumb - before making a decision.  I saw the recipe for Sweet Potato Falafel Wraps and I knew immediately what I was making.  I have since spent more time checking out her site and have marked many recipes to try.

The Sweet Potato Falafel recipe looks a little intimidating at first read.  The sandwich is made up of 4 different components and while none of them are difficult to make it can be a little overwhelming at first read.

Having four separate recipes actually worked to my benefit. It was one of those days that was broken into weird chunks. I wasn't home at any one time to get everything done, but was home for enough time here and there to get parts of it done.  And, the flavors actually improve with a little bit of rest time, so if you need a make ahead recipe this is the perfect fit.

My entire family loved this dish, my son even asked if I could make it again the following week.  It is a super bright and flavorful dish, that is great anytime of year.  The creamy hummus is a perfect match with the crunch of the falafel and tabooli salad and the yogurt in the tahini sauce provides a nice tang.

With the exception of the Tahini sauce I followed Isabelle's recipe exactly. Isabelle's recipe called for half a cup of Tahini and half a cup of yogurt.  I had a a thicker Greek yogurt and the ratios of the sauce seemed a little thick, so I only used 2 tablespoons of Tahini and half a cup of yogurt.  I liked the tang the Greek yogurt provided and felt there was still plenty of the slight nutty flavor provided by the Tahini.

Homemade Falafel Wraps
Author: Isabelle Boucher (Crumb)

Printer Ready

Tahini Sauce:
½ cup plain yogurt
2 Tbs. tahini
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch salt

Homemade Lemony Hummus:
1 can (19 ounce) chickpeas
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp tahini
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp salt

Tabbouleh Salad:
1 cup roughly chopped parsley
½ cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
½ cup cooked bulghur wheat
1 cup diced tomato
1 cup diced cucumber
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

Falafel Patties:
¼ cup chopped cilantro
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (540 ml/19 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and thoroughly drained
1 cup cooked mashed sweet potato
¼ cup flour
1 tsp ground cumin
1⁄2 tsp chili flakes
¼ tsp salt
2 tbsp canola oil

4 Middle Eastern style pitas
Shredded lettuce
Thinly sliced red onion
Prepare the Tahini Sauce (up to 5 days in advance):

  1. In a small bowl, stir together all of the ingredients until smooth. Cover and set aside until ready to use.

Prepare the Hummus (up to 5 days in advance):

  1. Drain the chickpeas, reserving the canning liquid. Rinse thoroughly.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, combine chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, paprika and salt. Process until smooth and creamy, adding as much of the reserved canning liquid as needed to get a spreadable consistency. Cover and set aside until ready to use.

Prepare the Tabbouleh (up to 2 days in advance):

  1. Using a food processor pulse the parsley and mint until finely chopped.
  2. Transfer the chopped parsley and mint to a mixing bowl, and toss with the remaining tabbouleh ingredients until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then cover and chill until ready to use.

Make the Falafel Patties:

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, process the cilantro, parsley and garlic until very finely minced. Add chickpeas, and pulse until finely chopped, but not completely pureed. Transfer to a mixing bowl, and stir in sweet potato, flour, cumin, chili flakes and salt to make a dense batter that holds its shape when rolled into a ball – if it’s too wet, add more flour, 1 tbsp at a time, until it reaches the appropriate consistency.
  2. Scoop out a dozen golfball-sized portions, and shape into a rounded patties.
  3. In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, pan-fry the patties in oil for 3-5 minutes per side, or until golden and crisp (the patties are fairly fragile, so be gentle when flipping!). Transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towel to drain.

Assemble the Wraps:

  1. To assemble the wraps, carefully pull apart each pita, stopping about halfway around to form a pocket with two flaps.
  2. Spread with a generous amount of tahini sauce and hummus, then fill the pocket with a handful of tabbouleh, toppings of your choice and 3 falafel patties.
  3. To close up the wraps, lay a pita down on a plate with the open end facing away from you. Gently tuck the top flap over the filling and back into the sandwich, and continue the rolling motion to create a tight wrap. (If this sounds overly complicated, you can also cut the pitas in half cross-wise, then gently separate each half to make two individual pockets.) Serve immediately.

Be sure to check out more of Isabelle's great recipes over at Crumb

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Root Beer Chicken

I know grilling season is coming to an end for most, but for me this is my favorite time of year for it.  It is so much more enjoyable to be outside when it is in the 60's and 70's rather than in the 90's with 100% humidity.  And I find I have more of a craving for many of the traditional grilled food, this time time of year.  One of my favorite things to make on the grill is Beer Butt Chicken.

For me this is not only a super tasty food it is also a very funny food.  Starting with the name, it just sounds like a funny thing to serve someone, but it's the look of it, that I find particularly humorous.  It is very entertaining, while at the same time slightly disturbing, to open the grill and see a headless chicken looking as if it is about to run right off the grill.

If you haven't made beer butt chicken it is super easy and a great way to cook chicken on the grill.  You get a moist and flavorful chicken that is beautifully browned and golden on all sides.  Traditionally a can of beer is used, but you can use pretty much any canned beverage, and my favorite is a can of Root Beer.

For the outside I like to go with a pretty traditional seasoning mix - salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika. By keeping it simple the chicken can be used in a variety of ways and the pairing options are endless.

When making beer butt chicken you only need half a can of liquid, which means you can either enjoy the other half while cooking or use it in another dish to tie your meal together.  While I am often tempted to use it for a root beer float, I usually push the temptation aside and make a BBQ sauce instead. This sauce is incredibly flavorful with a wonderful sweet, spicy tang.  You may want to have some extra bread with dinner to sop it up with, otherwise you may find yourself digging in with a spoon and eating it right out of the bowl.

I am sorry I don't have any pictures of the delicious dinner, but it was inhaled so quickly I didn't get a chance to snap any!

Root Beer Butt Chicken with BBQ Sauce
printer ready
1 whole chicken
Chicken Seasoning (see below)
1 can root beer
1 cup ketcup
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup orange juice
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. molasses
½ tsp. ginger powder
½  tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. onion powder

Prepare grill, for indirect cooking, leave back half of burners off and turn front half of burners to medium high heat.  

Wash and pat dry chicken.  Generously sprinkle entire chicken with chicken seasoning.  Pour out and reserve, 1 cup of root beer.   Place chicken on top of open can, so chicken is standing upright.  Place chicken on back half of grill, use the legs and can as a tripod to help the chicken stand.  Close cover and let chicken cook for at least an hour or until thermometer, placed in thickest part, reads 160°-165°.  Remove from heat, let chicken rest for 10 minutes, slice and serve.  

While the chicken cooks, combine the 1 cup of root beer set aside and remaining ingredients in a small saucepan.  Place over medium high heat, stirring continuously bring to a boil.  Once mixture has reached a boil reduce temperature to medium low and let simmer for about 20 minutes.  Let cool slightly then serve with roasted chicken.    

Chicken Seasoning

2 Tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Lemon Pepper (can use plain pepper and lemon zest)
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. marjoram
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cayenne pepper

Place all ingredients in small bowl, stir until combined.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Blueberry Muffins with Streusel

It's "Bacon Day" again and this week Edy and I decided to go with another classic favorite, the blueberry muffin.

I can't even begin to count how many batches of blueberry muffins I have made.  I have been making blueberry muffins, using the same recipe since I was about 10 years old.  I make slight modifications to it depending on my mood, but it is always basically the same.

This time Edy and I decided to add a little Streusel topping.  I am a big fan of Streusel.  Not only does it provide a wonderful sugary crunch on muffins, breads or pies, but it is a great "food" for kids to make. The youngest of kids can make it all by themselves and I love being able to give kids a project that they can take complete ownership of.

I also like giving kids tasks that allow them to get get their hands dirty and get to feel and "play" with the food.  It is great for sensory development, gives them a better understanding of what the food is and the buttery sugar snack they get at the end when licking their fingers is a bonus treat.

Blue Ribbon Blueberry Muffins with Streusel Topping
printer ready

Streusel Topping
3/4 cup Sugar
3/4 cup Flour
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 cup Butter, at room temperature

1 c. Sugar
¼ c. Butter
1 c. Milk
1 Egg
1 ⅓ c. Flour
2 tsp. Baking Powder
¾ tsp. Cinnamon
¾ tsp. Nutmeg
½ tsp. Vanilla
¼ tsp. Salt
1 c. Blueberries

Preheat oven 375

Streusel Topping: In small bowl toss sugar, flour and cinnamon together. Break butter into small chunks and work into sugar mixture until crumbly. Set aside. 

Muffins: Toss ⅓ cup flour with blueberries, set aside.  In small bowl whisk remaining flour, baking powder, cinnamon nutmeg and salt together.  In mixing bowl cream sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.  Add egg, mix until combined.  Add milk and vanilla, stir until combined then gradually add flour mixture, blending until just combined.  With rubber spatula gently stir in blueberries.  Fill lined muffin tins ¾ full.  Sprinkle Strusel topping over muffins. Bake 20-30 minutes.