Applelicious Cupcakes

Applelicious Cupcakes

Channeling June Cleaver

Channeling June Cleaver

Monday, December 31, 2012

Balsamic-roasted cauliflower

Roasting vegetables is my favorite method to savor the flavor of fresh vegetables.  I go against the school of cooking thought that veggies should be crisp, al dente,  pasta yes, my veggies no. Roasted, grilled, or sauteed are my standard cooking methods for vegetables.
I love this dish because the syrupy vinegar adds a wonderful flavor to the cauliflower.  I make this dish with either cauliflower or Brussels sprouts.  The toasted pecans add added texture and flavor to the dish.  I could go on and on about how yummy this tastes!

1 head cauliflower, break florets into bite size pieces or
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half through the center
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper black pepper
1 tablespoon syrupy balsamic vinegar, I like to use fig balsamic vinegar*

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
In a large bowl toss cauliflower with oil and pecans. Place cauliflower in baking dish. Add pecans. salt and pepper. Toss to combine.  Drizzle balsamic vinegar over cauliflower and toss again.

Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the cauliflower is tender and browned.  Toss once again during roasting.  Serve hot.


* You can make regular balsamic vinegar syrupy by boiling any good balsamic vinegar until it is reduced in half.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Aunt Anna Marie's Baked Stuffed Potatoes

I remember the first time I helped my Aunt Anna Marie makes these richly flavorful potatoes when I was a young girl. Aunt Anna Marie was a wonderful cook: you know no recipes just cook by experience and instinct. She was having a large family party with one of my jobs being to make about 100 baked stuffed potatoes.  Oh did I mention that Aunt Anna Marie was an Italian war bride so following  Italian tradition we were cooking in the basement kitchen since the main kitchen is for show. As she busied herself with the more important entrees she would stop by to check on how I was progressing with the potatoes instructing me to add a little of this, a pinch of that.  I loved every minute of cooking with my aunt.
After I started cooking for my family I added Aunt Anna Marie's baked stuffed potatoes to my repertoire making them my own.  I don't remember why but I always make these potatoes for Christmas eve dinner bring back memories of helping my Aunt Anna Marie so many years ago.


four large russet potatoes, scrubbed
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 milk
1/4 cup graded Parmesan cheese, plus two tablespoons for sprinkling
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon paprika

Bake potatoes in microwave on high 4 minutes. Turn each potato over. Bake another 4 minutes. Turn all potatoes again. Bake on half power 2 minutes, turn and bake another 2 minutes. Remove from oven.  Cool 2 minutes.  Slice potatoes in half and gently scoop out the potatoes leaving a little potato attached to the skin.  Be careful not to break the skin as the potato skin is the shell.
Place scoped out potato in large mixing bowl. Mash potatoes until broken apart.  Add milk,  mash to combine, then add next three ingredients continuing until potatoes are smooth.  Fill potato skin shell with mashed potatoes. Sprinkle additional Parmesan cheese and paprika.  Bake at 350 F for 20-30 minutes until potatoes are golden on top and cheese is melted.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mandi & Elaine's Lattice Candied Apple Pie

Pies as I say over and over are so wonderfully fun to make and delicious to eat!  I made this apple pie with my daughter Mandi along with a classic pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dinner.  I changed the recipe up for a change by adding dried cranberries, pecans and brandy.

Mandi & Elaine"s Lattice Candied Apple Pie

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons shortening
4 to 5 tablespoons cold water

Measure flour and salt into a bowl. Cut into shortening thoroughly with a pastry blender.  Sprinkle in the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing with a fork until flour is moistened and dough almost cleans the side of the bowl(1 to2 teaspoons water can be added if needed).

Gather the dough into a ball, then shape, divide the dough in half and shape into 2 flattened rounds.) Roll the dough 2 inches larger all around than the inverted pie pan. 

7  Gala Apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon brandy
2 tablespoon butter

Combine sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and all spice in small bowl. In a large bowl combine apples, add sugar mixture, pecans, cranberries and brandy, tossing to coat.  Line the bottom of the pie plate with one of the dough rounds. Put filling in prepared pie plate.  Cut up butter and place on top of apple filling.  

Cut remaining round into 10 strips about 1 inch wide. Place 5 strips across the filling of the pie pan.  Weave a cross-strip through the center by first folding back every other one of the original strips. Continue weaving until the lattice is complete, folding back the alternate strips each time a cross strip is added. Trim ends of strips. 

Fold the trimmed edge of the strips, building a high edge. Seal and flute.
Brush lightly with milk for a golden crust.

Heat oven 425 F.  Cover the edge with a pie crust protector or strips of aluminum to prevent excessive browning.  Remove last 15 minutes of baking.  Bake 40-45 minutes or until crust is golden.


Christmas Morning Baked French Toast

I love do ahead recipes when you are having a large group and want to spend time with friends and family: not doing last minute cooking!  My Christmas Morning French Toast Casserole is do ahead, easy and delicious.  Did I mention that it smells heavenly baking! 

Christmas Morning French Toast

1 loaf Italian bread ( 16 ounces)
8 large eggs
2 cups half and half
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
crumb topping
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
Maple Syrup ( if desired, I don't think it is needed as the topping takes the place of maple syrup)

Slice Italian bread into 20 1-inch slices.  Arrange slices on a 9 x13 baking dish( spray with cooking spray)  in two rows, overlapping the slices.  In a large bowl combine eggs, half and half, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and beat with a mixer or whisk until blended. Pour egg mixture over the bread, slowly, making sure to evenly cover all the bread.   Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

Crumb Topping:
1/4 cup of butter( 1 sick)
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.

The next day preheat oven 350 F.  Spread topping over bread. (It will not cover all the bread)  Top with cranberries.  Bake covered for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden.  Serve with maple syrup if desired.