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Monday, October 15, 2018

October 15: Dutch Apple Pie


I’m in a great mood today. 

For one thing, I’m feeling almost back to normal after spending the better portion of the past couple days camped out on my couch nursing my first cold in 14 months. (I know. That’s an amazing streak of good health for which I’m so grateful.) And even this cold wasn’t that severe in the scheme of illnesses. I attribute my rapid recovery to a few things. (I'm sharing them because I highly recommend trying these out yourself next time you feel unwell. Hopefully they help!)

A. Tea. I drank a cup of echinacea plus elderberry tea first thing in the morning and again before bed. Then, in the afternoon I had a cup of green tea. 
B. Essential oils. I spent 10 minutes under a steam hood each day. (Place 3-4 drops each Edens Garden Immunity & Breathe Easier Synergy Blends in a bowl. Fill with boiling water. Spread a bath towel around your head and the bowl enclosing yourself in a head-tent. Breathe deeply.) At bedtime, I diffused the same blend for an hour in the diffuser by my bed. 
C. Sinus rinses. Twice daily. Basically, it’s the same concept as a neti pot, but instead of needing to tilt your head, you keep it upright.
D. Rest. The first day, when all I had was pretty much a sore throat, I skipped my normal gym routine and did yoga at home (low-intensity and also keeping my germs to myself.) The following two days, I was achy, tired, and congested, so I rested. I also made an effort to go to bed earlier than normal.
And now, like I said, I’m feeling almost back to normal. Which is glorious.

Also glorious is that today is the first day of legitimate fall temperatures and low humidity after weeks of unseasonably warm, humid, and/or wet weather. Blech! (Grant you, by the time you read this post, it will no longer be the first day of said weather, but it’ll still be new, so let’s call it even, shall we? NB: In case you were wondering, I wrote this Friday and now it's Monday.)

These happy things made me want to get in the kitchen today and do all the fall cooking! I made a wholesome, fresh tomato soup with the bumper crop of tomatoes and herbs in our garden. (I’ll share that recipe on here at some point.) But after that, I was all about dessert. My apples are still calling out to me (they say, “uuuuuuuuse ussssss”) and my Facebook memories reminded me of an apple cookie I made a couple years back and now that I’m thinking of it, I can’t stop thinking of it, and I realized I haven’t made an apple pie yet and I remembered I wanted to try making apple cinnamon rolls and OMIGOSH THIS MUST ALL BE REMEDIED ASAP. (Do you ever have those moments?) 

I decided to start with the pie. I chose a Dutch apple variety (which I saw on the Sugar & Soul blog) because I’ve never made one before and it looked fab. 

(Spoiler alert: it was!) Also, I *may* have yodeled a bit while making it. (Though in a less creepy way than that youtube example.)

This is one of those times when I’d advise you to go to the original post because the blogger took the time to give tons of interesting facts about Dutch apple pie and helpful baking tips (not that it’s particularly complicated), so I’ll include the ingredient list here and my directional-photo play-by-play.

I made a few minor changes to the original recipe (used 6 Jonagold apples instead of 5 Granny Smith; cut back the almond extract, added in pumpkin spice extract; eliminated plain nutmeg because I hate plain nutmeg, subbed in half pumpkin pie spice and half cardamom blend) and my changes are reflected below. 

Dutch Apple Pie
(Adapted from Sugar & Soul blog) 

Ingredients:  

Crust
9-inch pie crust (I used a Pillsbury refrigerated one; you can use homemade or your fave bought) 

Apple Filling
6 crisp medium to tart apples(I used Jonagolds), peeled & sliced into ¼” slices, then halved 
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cupwhitesugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice(mine was the juice of one lemon)
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon McCormick pumpkin pie extract 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Crumb Topping
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar

Process:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place pie crust in dish. Set on foil-lined rimmed cookie sheet, and set aside. 

Prepare crumble topping by combining butter, sugars, and flour in a small bowl. Cut together with a pastry blender (or your fingers) until coarse crumbs form. Set aside. 
I like to cube my butter to help it along
Coarse crumbs
Prepare your apples and put them in a large bowl.

Peel the apples. If you can do it in one long strip like I did,
more power to you. 
Look how pretty!
1/4 inch slices-- nice and thin
Cut those slices in half

Flavor up those apples with sweet and spicy goodness and toss to coat. 
This is where the magic happens (plus the sugars & flour)



Pour the apples into the pie crust. Arrange them so they fit together nicely. It'll mound a bit and that's a good thing. 

Domey goodness
Spread the crumb topping onto the apples. 


Create an aluminum foil dome to cover the top of the pie. Don't let it touch the topping.
View from under the dome
Bake on the cookie sheet and under the dome for 35 minutes. 
After 35 minutes under the dome
Closeup after 35 minutes
Remove foil dome and return to over for another 15-30 minutes. (I checked it at 15 but it was nowhere near ready. I put it back in for 10 more, then rotated it and gave it 5 more.) The topping should be golden and the filling bubbly. Warning: It smells HEAVENLY. 

That's golden and bubbly!
Remove to a wire rack to cool completely. The filling will set as it cools. 

Still domed and lovely
Hard as it will be, try not to slice into this until it's set (give it at least a few hours). Serve it warm or at room temperature, with or without ice cream or whipped cream. 


The apple filling has a sugary & warm spice, and also a fresh brightness from the lemon. And the topping? Buttery and sweet-- just how we like it! We had this still a little warm from the oven as dessert after that homemade tomato soup for dinner, and it was the perfect exclamation point for my happy fall mood! 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

October 14: Pecan Chicken with Bourbon Cream Sauce


We've had quite a run of dessert recipes this week, so I'd say it's time to get a savory going. Don't you agree? And lucky for us, it's right in time for Sunday dinner! (Believe it or not, we *do* eat actual meals at my house and don't subsist on sweets alone.)

Last winter, I discovered I like bourbon. Not all bourbon, mind you, but I do have a particular fondness for Jim Beam Vanilla. (I discovered this because, though I’m not generally a beer drinker, I fell in love with Innis and Gunn. The Scottish ale is aged in oak barrels which give it a distinctive toffee/vanilla/oak flavor that, to me, makes it the best beer. I started thinking about the power of that oak-aging process. I’d noticed I also enjoyed nice, oaky chardonnays in the summer. I wondered if I’d similarly enjoy some oak-aged spirits. I googled the flavor notes I was looking for, took a list with me to the state store, and decided to dip my toe in to bourbon with this vanilla variety. So that’s how it happened, in case you were wondering.) Aside from the yummy toffee flavor profile, I find it particularly comforting as a cooler-weather spirit. It’s an alcohol you can sort of feel working its way through your body, and it warms you from within. (It also makes a delightful hot toddy if you’re into those.) 

When I saw this chicken recipe – chicken breaded with a crumb/pecan mixture, then topped with more pecans and a bourbon cream sauce– on Spicy Southern Kitchen’s blog, I knew I wanted to try it. It seemed very “fall” to me what with the pecans and warming bourbon. Thus, I immediately booked my family’s tastebuds a one-way trip down south to Deliciousville. 

Have you been? If not, I’ve got a map. So follow along, y’all.

Pecan Chicken with Bourbon Cream Sauce
Yield: 4 breasts

Ingredients:

For the chicken:
1/2 cuppecans, finely chopped
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1.5 pounds), cut in half and pounded to about ½ inch thickness 
salt and pepperto taste
1 Tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon butter

For the cream sauce:
3 tablespoons bourbon(I used Jim Beam Vanilla!)
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1 Tablespoon butter

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Combine finely chopped pecans (since they were serving as a breading, I gave mine a quick spin in my mini chopper) and bread crumbs in a large ziptop bag. Set aside.

In a small bowl, make honey mustard glaze by stirring together 1 tablespoon each of honey and Dijon mustard. Set aside.

Prepare your chicken by cutting breasts in half along the width, then pounding to even thickness between two sheets of plastic wrap. Salt and pepper your chicken breasts, then put them in another zipper bag and pour the honey Dijon glaze in there. Massage bag so the chicken is fully coated by the glaze. (Alternately, you could do as the original recipe suggests and skip the bag in favor of brushing the honey Dijon glaze on both sides.)

Then, one at a time, add a chicken breast to the pecan/bread crumb mixture, shaking the bag to coat it well. (“It’s Shake and Bake, and I helped!”) 

Heat butter and oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add breaded chicken and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 4-5 minutes per side. (The chicken isn’t intended to cook all the way through in this step—it’s just to get a nice golden sear on both sides and lock in that tasty faux-fried flavor.)
Raw 
Nice and golden
Place pan-fried chicken in a casserole dish and bake about 10 to 12 minutes, or until cooked through.

Meanwhile, use a dry paper towel to wipe the pan in which you cooked your chicken. Add bourbon, honey, Dijon mustard, heavy cream, cayenne pepper, and pecans to pan. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter until melted. (Full disclosure: I accidentally added the butter at the beginning of this step with the rest of the ingredients and it didn’t seem to negatively impact my outcome.) 
The magic ingredients
Saucy goodness
Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, spoon sauce over chicken.
Moist on the inside and crunchy on the outside
Pre-sauce (and yes, that chicken breast has an extra little slice sidled up next to it)
Pecan bourbon cream sauce is a go!
Because this screamed southern cooking to me, I served it alongside mashed potatoes and green beans. (If you want to elevate your beans, take a bag of steam-in-bag green beans and microwave according to package directions. While they steam, sautéed a finely diced shallot in half a tablespoon of butter. It’s done when the shallot is soft translucent and some pieces start browning at the edges. Then toss cooked green beans in there with it and sprinkle with a little garlic salt and some pepper. I didn’t do it this time because I didn’t have shallot on hand, but I love enjoying my green beans this way.) 

From the slight heat of the cayenne to the warm bourbon cream sauce to its full-on southern charm, this meal will warm you from head to toe. 


**I have no affiliation or relationship with any of the brands mentioned or linked in this post. All opinions and experiences expressed herein are my own.**


Saturday, October 13, 2018

October 13: Apple Pie Oreo Fudge


Welcome to the final recipe of the party dessert series. So far we’ve traversed the fall flavors of salted caramel with chocolate, pumpkin spice, and carrot cake. Today, we’ll round things out with apple pie. In fudge form.

For years I’ve been making Oreo fudge. I found the beloved recipe in Sally’s Candy Addiction. (Do you own this book yet? If not, buy it! Her recipes are fantastic! Makes a good holiday gift, too.) In fact, it was the fudge recipe I was most excited to try when I first bought my copy. 

It did not disappoint. 

Every time I make it, people lose their damned minds over it because it really is that good. It’s earned a permanent spot in my Christmas treat boxes, and certain extended family members get it for their birthday, too. Fudge Superfans are real. 

The only other candy treat I’ve ever made that enjoyed the same general reception were Oreo truffles. (Which are basically pulverized Oreos mixed with cream cheese, formed into balls, and then dipped in chocolate.) I featured a spooky Halloween eyeball version here in 2016. They were so popular that I made them several more times with other flavor Oreos: mint, peanut butter, and, last year in October, apple pie. 

So this year, when I was brainstorming ideas for an apple pie-themed treat, I said to myself, “Self,” I said, “If Apple Pie truffles were a hit, could Apple Pie Oreo Fudge be just as big a hit?” 

Well, only one way to find out! 

And that, ladies and gents, is how I came to adapt one of my favorite candy recipes into this autumnal-flavored delight. 

Apple Pie Oreo Fudge
(adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction Oreo Fudge in Sally's Candy Addiction)

Ingredients:

2 cups sugar
½ cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 bag (12 oz) white chocolate chips (I prefer Hershey brand for this, but Toll House is fine, too) 
1 container (7oz) marshmallow fluff
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
¼ teaspoon pumpkin spice extract (it has a cinnamon flavor to it)
1 package (10.7oz) Apple Pie Oreos, crushed (I put mine in a large zipper bag and use my rolling pin to work out my frustrations) 

Pro Tip: Have everything ready to go before you start, because at certain stages you can't walk away from your fudge (like when it's boiling), and you want to work fast to make the most of your residual heat when you're trying to melt the chips and fluff. 

Directions

1. Line an 11x7 pan with heavy-duty foil, letting some hang over the sides. Set aside. (Heavy duty is a must here. Trust me on this!) 

2. In a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, melt butter, sugar, and cream together. Stir with a wooden spoon every couple minutes. 
Step one - ingredients combined 
As it starts melting
Here you can see the bubbles starting near the edges. Get that timer ready.
4 minutes on the clock. 
3. When it comes to a boil, start a 4 minute timer and stir it constantly. 
Boiling - be sure to keep stirring
The texture starts to change as the bubbles are everywhere
Nearing the end of the 4 minutes. Never stop stirring.
4. At the end of 4 minutes, remove from heat and stir in white chocolate chips. (Pro tip: I like to get them about ¾ melted before adding the next ingredient, because each ingredient brings down the temperature of the sugar mixture a little more, and white chocolate chips have an annoying tendency to want to stay in chip form.)
The burner has been turned off, but the sugar mixture is HOT.
Chips melting. It's thick but use your strength.
5. Stir in marshmallow fluff. The mixture is very thick at this point so you’re really going to work those arm muscles here.
With the addition of the marshmallow fluff
Stir that in there. Work hard to keep it moving so it gets incorporated and melty.
Smooth and creamy
6. When the mixture is smooth, stir in vanilla and pumpkin spice extracts.

7. Stir in ¾ of the crushed Oreos.
Hopefully you completed this step before you started,
but this is what it looks like
Pour in crumbs. Notice some are big chunks
After stirring
8. Pour fudge into the prepared pan and top with remaining crushed Oreos. Lightly press them down into the warm fudge. 
Pour into prepared pan
Press remaining Oreos onto surface of fudge
9. Cover and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight before cutting.

To Cut

Hold the flaps of the foil and lift entire fudge block out of the pan. Place onto a cutting board with the long side facing you. You can gently peel the foil off the entire bottom at this point if you want, but I often don’t bother. 

Working first with the long side of the fudge block, use a large knife to cut fudge into eleven (11) one-inch rows. 
You can see I've done 4 rows so far
Then, rotate your cutting board so the short side is facing you. Cut seven (7) one-inch rows. (Your knife likely won't be long enough to make it all 11 inches at once. So cut a 6-inch segment, then complete the other 5-inch segment from the other side. Just make sure to line up your cut in the other direction so it’s consistent.)
Fudge grid
Check out that delish topping!
If you didn’t peel it off before, gently peel the fudge off the foil and serve. (When I make a tray, I like to place the fudge squares into mini-muffin liners because they’re easy to grab.)


I find this fudge tastes best at room temperature (because it’s softer), but I usually store my leftovers in the refrigerator so it lasts longer. 
I still need an apple plate, dammit!

As I suspected, this fudge was a complete hit! It’s creamy and Sweet-with-a-capital-S, and easy to share or pack in lunch or even grab a bite or two (or five) from the fridge. 

Try it, and don’t be surprised if you become the newest Fudge Superfan.


**I have no affiliation or relationship with any of the brands mentioned or linked in this post. All opinions and experiences expressed herein are my own.**