Apple Fritters

Apple Fritters1

Hi everyone. It’s been a little bit since my last post and Thanksgiving has come and gone. If you were in America and were celebrating, then I hope everyone was able to cook and eat lots of delicious food with even more delicious leftovers. I was responsible for the bulk of our family’s meal, as I have been for the past few years. This year though, we got to gather at my twin sister’s and brother in law’s new house. This was awesome for two crucial reasons: first of all, her kitchen is GORGEOUS and has nearly TRIPLE the counter space that my tiny apartment kitchen does. Anyone who loves to cook knows how much this was appreciated by yours truly. Second, unlike the previous years where I end up doing most of the prep and meal cooking myself, this time I had Jas right next to me to help, and she made an awesome sous chef.

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Every year, no matter what I always get the same anxiety about the turkey.  I just do. Since it is technically the “main dish”, I feel the pressure not to mess it up.Turkey can so easily go from a great entree to a dry, chewy disaster. In the past I’ve done both a dry brine and last year, a traditional brine. This year though, I did something that was completely new and different to me:

An overnight turkey. You read that right. A turkey that cooks overnight so that by the time you wake up early on Thanksgiving morning, the WHOLE THING is already finished.

I know, I know. You’re skeptical. So was I. But just hear me out: I actually got this recipe from my grandmother, who informed me that before I took over the responsibility of cooking the bird for the family, THIS was the method she used to cook the 20-24 lb turkeys for our entire family. And judging that those birds were all absolutely delicious, I decided to go ahead and take her word for it and try it out on the turkey this year myself.

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Basically, all you have to do, is season the turkey all over with melted butter and a flavorful spice rub. Then, stuff the cavity with celery, apples, onion, chicken bouillon cubes, sage and marjoram. 4 cups of boiling water get poured into the bottom of one of those giant roasting pans, then you make sure the lid to the pan is closed tightly. The turkey is roasted at 475 degrees for one hour, then you shut the oven off and DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR FOR ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING.

That’s it. Seriously. That’s all you have to do.

I took the pan out at 9:00 a.m. Thanksgiving morning and looked inside. The whole thing was not only done, it was still moist, and the skin outside had a decently browning on it. Oh yeah, and it was delicious too. I just couldn’t believe it. It was like…magic.

I’m so impressed with it that I’m seriously considering roasting ANOTHER turkey using this method and sharing the recipe on the blog so that you guys can get in on this. Plus, with both our and my brother in law’s families over for dinner, we weren’t left with hardly any leftovers and I already miss that turkey, so another one would actually not be unwelcome here.

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What does any of that have to do with today’s post? Oh, nothing at all. In fact, I’ve had this post in my folder for a while now, but I just haven’t gotten around to sharing it yet. I made these little babies the same weekend that I made the absolutely heavenly Deep Dish Apple Pie from my last post with the rest of the apples we picked from the apple orchard. Anyone who knows me, knows I love a good doughnut. Probably the only thing I love more than a good doughnut is a good apple fritter. When it’s done right, it’s just SO good.

And these are more than good guys. Trust me on that. They’re everything that an apple fritter should be: the glaze is sweet and just thick enough to form those lovely crevices in the fritter, which is soft and perfumed with the fresh apple on the inside. Don’t let the lengthy recipe scare you- they’re really not that hard to make. It does get a little messy in cutting off the apple filled dough into portions to fry, and you do have to make sure that the apples stay stuffed in. But even if you lose a few, that’s still totally fine. Just do what I did and fry off the spare apple chunks by themselves; they taste just as good as the apples.

Guess what? I’ve already started on the 12 Days of Christmas series that I do here on the blog every year and I am SUPER excited to share the first two recipes I’ve got done for you guys. They’re probably two of my new favorite Christmas treats I’ve made- and considering how many Christmas treats I’ve cranked out in my life, that’s really saynig something. I’m thinking on actually starting before we get to the point where it’s twelve days before Christmas. In the first place,I’m just that excited to share the recipes with you guys, and in the second, it will give me a little more leeway and less pressure to have twelve recipes and posts ready to post in twelve straight days. Regardless, Day 1 is coming soon, so stay tuned for that. 🙂

(I doubt anyone’s still there, but I’m also linking this post up to Fiesta Friday #96)

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Apple Fritters


Recipe Courtesy of Chow.com

Ingredients

  • 1 Recipe for Basic Yeast Donuts (see below)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 sweet-tart baking apples, such as Honeycrisp or Pink Lady, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • Flour, for dusting

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar, also known as confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Warm water, as needed
  • Vegetable oil for frying

For Basic Yeast Donuts

  • 2 3/4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup whole milk, warmed to 105°F to 115°F
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

Directions

For Basic Yeast Donuts

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together 2 cups of the flour, the yeast, sugar, and salt. Add the warm milk, vanilla, and egg yolks. Mix until smooth. Add the remaining flour and the butter and mix until incorporated. Continue to mix on medium speed until the dough is soft and smooth (it will be slightly sticky). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a draft-free place to rise for 1 hour, or refrigerate for up to 12 hours.

To form Apple Fritters

Mix the dough and let it rise according to directions for Basic Yeast Donuts. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the apples to the pan and sprinkle with the sugar, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until tender and the liquid becomes a syrupy glaze, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely.

Roll the dough out to a 1/2-inch thickness.

Spread the apple mixture onto half of the dough, then fold the other half over the apples.

Using a bench scraper or a large knife, cut the dough into 1/2-inch strips, then cut the strips into 1/2-inch pieces in a cross pattern.

Scoop up the pieces and rearrange, cutting them again in a cross pattern. Make sure the apples are well dispersed throughout the dough.

Flour your hands really well and form the dough into a log measuring 12 inches long and about 3 inches wide

Sprinkle the log with flour and slice it crosswise into 12 pieces. Coat 2 rimmed baking sheets with flour. Transfer the uncooked apple fritters to the baking sheets, smashing the pieces of dough and apple together. Tuck in any apples that stray, and press each fritter into a flat round. (Make sure you really press the pieces together and flatten before you let them rise, or the fritters will come apart during frying.) Let the fritters rise until puffy, about 20 minutes.

To make glaze: Sift the powdered sugar into a bowl. Add the maple syrup and vanilla and stir until smooth. Add enough water to form a loose glaze. Set aside and cover with plastic wrap until you need it.

Fill a large, heavy-bottomed pot with at least 2 inches of oil (the oil should not come more than halfway up the pan). Heat over medium-high heat until a deep-frying thermometer registers 350°F. Using a spatula, carefully and gently lower 1 or 2 fritters into the oil. Don’t crowd them.

Fry for 1 to 2 minutes per side, turning a few times, until the fritters are light golden brown and cooked through.Remove with a spider or slotted spoon, drain on a wire rack over a paper towel, and let cool slightly before glazing.

Repeat with the remaining fritters. Be sure to keep the oil temperature consistent while frying. While the fritters are warm, dip the rounded side into the maple glaze, letting the excess drain back into bowl. Place back on rack to set. 

Deep Dish Apple Pie

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A few weeks ago I drove out to an Apple orchard with my family on a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon much like this one. My two year old niece had never been before and it’s actually been several years since I visited one myself. They’re really nice places to go to in the fall, especially if they’re the ones that let you pick your own apples for a small fee. This orchard was huge; it had varieties/flavors of apples that I had never even heard of before. And considering I once had an apple obsession (eating two a day, practically religiously) I found that pleasantly surprising.

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The usual suspects that I personally love were present: Honey Crisp, Pink Lady, Macintosh, Jonagold, Ida Red, Jazz, Cortlands. They also had varieties that I steadfastly avoid at all times, like Golden Delicious and Red Delicious. Then there were ones like Empire (GINORMOUS apples btw), Spy, and Mutsu that I wouldn’t know from Adam or Eve.

Pun kinda intended.

Long story short, we came outta there with a crap load of apples. Before we even got home, I knew what I wanted to do with them (I mean, besides just eat them raw. I’ve definitely been doing that too.)

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I was definitely gonna make an apple pie. There was just no way around it.

You’d think that because this was my first time making an apple pie, I’d try to play it safe and go with something…normal.

But I didn’t want to make one that was ‘ordinary’. I had too many apples for that. Plus, I had just bought myself a deep dish pie plate on clearance that I really wanted a chance to break in.

So, this happened.

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I’ll tell you guys. The smell of apple pie….a fresh, packed-to-the-brim, good, old fashioned deep dish, lattice crust apple pie really is one of the THE best aromas that could ever be in your house. Believe me when I say that.

The smell that filled not only my place, but the lobby and hallways of my apartment building are what I’m preeeeetty sure Heaven smells like.

Actually, I’m more than pretty sure. I’m positive. Heaven smells like a deep dish lattice crust apple pie.

Remember, you heard it first from here.

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Do I honestly need to continue?

Is it really necessary for me to extol and sing the praises of this pie to convince you guys how friggin marvelous it tastes? Should I tell you how flaky and buttery the crust is and describe the slightly sweet crunch that the sprinkling of sugar on top just before baking gives to it? Should I describe the way the apples form a soft, tender, slightly gooey filling, and the small hint of cinnamon your taste buds get just after the tang of that initial tartness?

Or should I REALLY drop the bomb on you and try to give an accurate description of how this baby tastes piping hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzle of caramel syrup on top?

I think not. That would just be cruel.

You’ve all got eyes. And kitchens. So, I suggest you get in em and crank this pie out for you and your loved ones. I guarantee it would make the top of someone’s list of Things to be Thankful for come Thanksgiving 😉

(I’m linking this post to this week’s Fiesta Friday #94, co-hosted by Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju and Stef @ The Kiwi Fruit.)

Deep Dish Apple Pie


Recipe Courtesy of The Complete America’ Test Kitchen Cookbook

Ingredients

For Pie Crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or butter flavored shortening, cut into 1/2 inch pieces and chilled
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
  • 6-8 tablespoons ice water

special equipment (HIGHLY recommended): a box grater

For Filling:

  • Unbleached, all purpose flour, for the work surface
  • 2 1/2 pounds firm tart apples (about 5 large), peeled, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 1/2 pounds firm sweet apples (about 5 large), peeled, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) plus 1 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest plus 1 tbsp. juice from 1 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg white, beaten

Directions

For Pie Crust: In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt with a fork and set aside.  Rub the pieces of shortening into the flour mixture either with your hands or a fork, mixing just until it looks like coarse bread crumbs. Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the butter directly into the flour mixture. Stir a few times with a fork , then make a well in the center of the mixture. Pour in the ice water, using a stiff rubber spatula/fork to make the dough come together. If it’s still too dry, you may add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time until it holds together. Divide the dough in half, then wrap each half in plastic wrap. Allow it to rest in the fridge for at least one hour, but preferably overnight.

Roll one disk of dough into a 12-inch circle on a floured surface, then fit into a 9-inch pie plate, letting excess dough hang over the edge; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Roll the other disk of dough into a 12-inch circle on a floured surface, then transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet; cover with plastic wrap ans refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Toss apples, 1/2 cup of granulates sugar, the brown sugar, zest, salt and cinnamon together in a Dutch oven. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until apples are tender when pierced with a fork but still hold their shape. Transfer apples and juices to a rimmed baking sheet and cool to room temp, about 30 minutes.

Adjust an oven rack to lowest position and preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Drain cooled apples thoroughly through colander, reserving 1/4 cup of the juice. Stir lemon juice into the reserved cup of apple juice.

Spread apples into the dough lined pie plate, and pour the lemon juice mixture over them. Loosely roll out 2nd piece of dough onto a floured surface, and cut into strips. Arrange the strips over the top of pie in a criss-cross lattice design. Trim, fold and crimp the edges. Brush the dough with the egg white and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tbsp of sugar.

Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until the crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, rotate baking sheet and continue to bake until the juices in pie are bubbling and crust is a deep golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes linger. Cool the pie on a wire rack until the filling has set, about two hours. (I let my pies sit overnight then serve them at room temp, or microwaved, just to make sure the filling isn’t runny, but that’s just my personal preference)

Apple Pecan Carrot Cake

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Guys, can I ask you all a random, but still perfectly serious question?

How old do you think I am?

Take a look at my picture to the right, or the pictures of me in my last post at my sister’s wedding. (Disclaimer: I usually ‘look’ like the picture to the right on a day to day basis, whereas at my sister’s wedding I was dolled up with lots of pretty makeup and a gorgeous hairdo which is NOT the norm for me.)

But anyway, yeah: how old am I?

Don’t be shy. I won’t be offended. Let’s hear it. Your best guesses.

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If you guys are anything at all like most random strangers I meet, my estimation is that a lot of your guesses are in late teens, early twenties. A lot of people think that I’m young enough to just be starting college or midway through at the most.

Not so.

I actually graduated from college three years ago.

And I’m not in my late teens or early twenties.

As a matter of fact, this weekend, September the 27th to be exact, I will officially be out of my ‘mid twenties’ and step into the later half of them.

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In a nutshell: my 26th birthday is on Sunday, guys.

I’ll be twenty six. In a manner of speaking, I guess I already am considering twenty six years ago I was alive and kickin in my mom’s stomach with Jas.

When I’ve informed people that I meet of this that mistake me for a teen or early twenty-something, I always get the same reaction. Shock. Disbelief. Then, immediate congratulations at having “good genes” or “aging really well.” I’m personally not sure how I feel about it. I mean, I’m sure that soon enough further down the road if I still look younger than what I really am, I’ll feel great about it. But for now, still being mistaken for someone who’s still not old enough to legally purchase alcohol, when in actuality I crossed that bridge LONG ago is…meh.

Birthdays stopped being something that were really important to me years and years ago. I typically let my own pass by without much fanfare or celebration; it just isn’t that big of a deal anymore. Still, the one tradition that I do still like to continue- especially since I learned how to cook/bake, is the tradition of having a cake. Because cake, is ALWAYS a big deal. Last year it was this Caramel Snickerdoodle Cake. This year, I knew I wanted something that really tasted like Fall. My mom had just bought me The Southern Cake Book released by Southern Living, and I picked this one out as my and Jas’ birthday cake pretty much as soon a I saw it.

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Let me break it down for you guys: small chunks of apples, pecans and grated carrots mixed into a SUPER moist cake batter with a mild spice flavor gets baked into 2 9-inch cakes. The middle filling is a GLORIOUS, smooth and easy Apple Cider caramel sauce that comes together in minutes. Sandwich the two cake layers together, then spread a light n’creamy cream cheese frosting on top and sprinkle with more pecans.

I made the cake last weekend- and we’re down to the last few slices already. Yep. It’s THAT good. If you’ve got a birthday coming up in the family or your circle of friends, I highly reccommend this one: you’ll make your loved one and anybody else lucky enough to get a slice VERY happy. I’ll be linking up this post with our host Angie at this week’s Fiesta Friday #87– that way, we ALL get cake.

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Apple Pecan Carrot Cake


Recipe Courtesy of The Southern Cake Book

Print

Ingredients

2 1/3 cups finely chopped lightly toasted pecans, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons apple pie spice
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups peeled and grated Granny Smith apples
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
2/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp. Apple Cider Caramel Sauce, recipe follows
Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows

Apple Cider Caramel Sauce

1 cup apple cider
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup whipping cream

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8-oz.) container cream cheese
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup whipping cream

Directions

For Cake:

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Sprinkle 1 1/3 cups toasted pecans into 2 well-buttered shiny 9-inch round cake pans; shake to coat bottom and sides of pans.

2. Stir together flour and next 3 ingredients.

3. Stir together eggs and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl until blended. Add flour mixture, stirring just until blended. Fold in apples, carrots, and remaining 1 cup pecans. Pour batter into prepared pans.

4. Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely (about 1 hour).

5. Place 1 cake layer, pecan side down, on a serving plate. Spread top of cake layer with 2/3 cup Apple Cider Caramel Sauce; top with remaining cake layer, pecan side down. Spread Cream Cheese Frosting over top of cake. Drizzle 2 Tbsp. Apple Cider Caramel Sauce over frosting, and swirl sauce into frosting. Serve immediately.

For Apple Cider Caramel Sauce: Cook cider in a 3-qt. saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, 10 minutes or until reduced to 1/4 cup. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly; boil, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool completely. Refrigerate up to 1 week. To reheat, microwave at HIGH 10 to 15 seconds or just until warm; stir until smooth.

For Cream Cheese Frosting: Whisk together first 3 ingredients in a large bowl just until blended. Beat whipping cream at medium speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into cream cheese mixture.

Apple Crumb Crostata

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Guys, I have a question:

Why are we generally taught that taking short cuts is a ‘bad thing’?

Think about it. From the time that we’re little kids we’ve been ingrained to believe that if you cut corners, go the easier route and make the work simpler, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Take the fairy tale, “The Tortoise and the Hare”: The fast, energetic hare challenges the tortoise to a race, confident that because he can move faster, he’ll always win and be better than the tortoise. When the race begins, the hare does indeed begin out in the lead while the tortoise maintains a steady pace. Eventually the hare gets so far ahead that he figures he can just kick back, relax and take a nap and still have enough time to beat the tortoise. While he’s sleeping against a tree, the tortoise passes him by at his slow and steady pace. By the time the hare wakes up from his nap, he discovers that the tortoise has in fact managed to beat him.

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Thus, the moral of the story: “Slow and Steady Wins the Race.”

Yeah, um…I kinda think that’s…not true.

In fact, if fables and fairy tales are supposed to be teaching kids valuable morals and lessons and whatnot…The Tortoise and the Hare is actually a load of a crap. Maybe the world was a lot more sunny, bright and idealistic at the time that it was written (though I doubt it). Maybe the ‘good guys’ won more often than the bad guys (again, more doubtful). However, these days I’ve observed that the people who are  ‘faster’and better at winning the ‘races’ of life are the ones who come out on top. It sucks, and a lot of time it’s not even fair, but it’s the way of the world.

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I know what I was taught growing up and it wasn’t the moral of “The Tortoise and the Hare”,  even though I admittedly had the book. I learned pretty quick that you needed to try and be the fastest, the best and the most skilled. If you can cut corners and take short cuts to achieve the win, take ’em. The other ‘hares’ around you probably aren’t gonna fall asleep, so don’t count on that to give you the win. Start strong and fast, end strong and fast. That’s the only way you’ll win.

I’m kinda cynical about certain aspects of life, in case you guys couldn’t tell.

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I have a point. I’m getting to it now. I CAN in fact make a post about general life philosophy and bridge it to food.

I believe in taking short cuts when it comes to cooking if need be. Yes, even in baking. It can be done. Slow and steady doesn’t always win the race.

Let me tell you a story of my own: I had six Honeycrisp apples sitting in my refrigerator with nothing to do. I wanted to make an apple pie out of them, but I was worried that what I had may not have been enough to make a full pie. Plus, I didn’t feel like making two crusts for a top and bottom layer pie. So I decided to take a short cut. When it comes to pie, the ”short cut” is the crostata.

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One big crust gets rolled out, the apples get diced and laid inside, then the edges of the crust are folded up in a rough crimp. The whole thing gets baked off and voila: you got a crostata (the thing you make when you don’t have time or inclination to make a pie).

And doesn’t it look so yummy?

See? I toldya. Slow and steady doesn’t always win the race.

This baby is going to this week’s Fiesta Friday #45, hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and co-hosted this week by  Michelle @Giraffes Can Bake and MB @Bourbon & Brown Sugar. See you guys there!

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Apple Crumb Crostata

Recipe Courtesy of Claudia Felming via NY Times

Print {Pg 1} {Pg 2}

Ingredients

FOR CRUST

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup ice cold water, more as needed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Raw sugar, for garnish

FOR FILLING

  • 6 to 8 Granny Smith or other tart apples, peeled and cut into 16 slices each (about 6 cups total)
  • 1/4cup brown sugar
  • 1tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4tsp. lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

FOR CRUMBLE

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temp.

 

Directions

1. Make the crust: Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and blend for 5 seconds. Add butter, pulsing, until mixture resembles small peas. Add ice water and continue to pulse until mixture comes together in moist clumps; if mixture is too dry add a bit more water a tablespoon at a time. Gather dough into a ball, flatten into a disc, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour or freeze for up to a month.

2. Make the filling: In a large bowl toss together sliced apples, brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, zest and vanilla. Set aside.

3. Make the crumble: In a medium bowl, mix together granulated sugar, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Drizzle in melted butter and, using a fork, stir until mixture is crumbly and all the flour is incorporated; the crumbs should be smaller than 1 inch.

4. Heat oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove dough from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 14-inch circle. Transfer to baking sheet and chill until firm, about 15 minutes.

5. Remove baking sheet from refrigerator and let soften for 1 to 2 minutes. Arrange filling evenly in the center of the dough, leaving a 4-inch border all around; reserve the juices.

6. Brush exposed dough border with beaten egg and fold edge in up over fruit, making pleats every 2 inches. Pour remaining juices over exposed fruit, brush the folded outer edge with beaten egg, and sprinkle with raw sugar. Cover exposed fruit with about 1 cup crumble.

7. Bake crostata until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling, about 40 to 50 minutes. Remove and let cool before serving.

 

Baratheon Smothered Pork Chops and Apple Gravy

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Game of Thrones Series Week 4

Okay, guys. Before we get to the food, I simply must debrief about what I think is one of the best Game of Thrones episodes that we’ve seen in all of the seasons thus far. Seriously, by the end my heart was pulse was a little faster than usual and I was more than a little miffed when the credits came on and I realized I would have to wait until next week to see the next episode. Fortunately, that happens to be today, so all is right with the world again:

  • I really don’t like Stannis Baratheon. To me he’s an opportunist that’s willing to use any means or follow any cause so long as it will make him win- for now it’s that crazy Melisandre’s “Lord of Light” cult, but if that ever stopped working for him, I’m pretty sure he would cut and run from that too. Even though his loss in the battle at King’s Landing meant Joffrey’s victory, I was still glad that he was left with barely any army and no money. It was fun to watch him get chewed and spit out by the Iron bankers. As usual, Sir Davos had to come to his rescue. Honestly, I’m pretty sure Stannis wouldn’t even still be a king if it weren’t for Sir Davos.
  • I’ve pretty much despised Theon ever since he went rogue in Season 2 and turned his back on the the Starks for the Greyjoys (who didn’t even care about him anyway.) So it kinda goes without saying that I don’t particularly pity him for how terrible he’s been treated by Ramsay Snow. It’s a shame that Yara ended up abandoning him, and that he’s kinda lost his mind and…another rather important part of his body, but what can you say? What goes around comes around, and around, and around. We’ll see how if ‘pretending’ to be Theon will actually help him towards getting back a hold on his true self- I’m thinking that that plan may backfire on Ramsay…

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  • Daenerys is starting to realize that being a queen isn’t exactly as effortless and glamorous as she probably imagined it to be. #1, she has to sit in a hard chair and spend the entire day listening to HUNDREDS of petitions from commoners who are really just there to either complain, or ask l her for money. #2 Her policies aren’t being as wholly accepted and welcomed as she had thought they would be. Just because she’s a ‘Mother of Dragons’ doesn’t mean that everyone is going to like her in her kingdoms. And #3, Speaking of dragons , ss advantageous as her dragons are for her to take over cities and destroy armies, they are proving to be a major problem in keeping them under control in the general public. I don’t know man: I have a bad feeling about those dragons- like they’re going to be like a dangerous wildfire that Daenerys won’t be able to control when it really will count.
  • I definitely don’t think that the producers of the show handled the now infamous ‘scene’ between Jamie and Cersei correctly (I’m just gonna leave it at that), but his friendship with Brienne and loyalty to Tyrion make it very difficult for me to completely despise Jamie. I also don’t think that would be fair to Nikolaj Coster Waldau’s performance of him either. Regardless of the terrible things that he’s done, Jamie’s not a one-dimensional person and I don’t feel as though he should be viewed through the lens of one particular action or crime that he did. Having said that, I thought that the deal he made with Tywin in exchange for sparing Tyrion’s life signified a very important change for his character; being in the King’s Guard has always been Jamie’s way of staying close to Cersei, and not being forced to betray the love that he has for her by marrying and having children with another woman. The fact that he’s willing to now not only leave the King’s Guard, but also King’s Landing to marry and bear children to carry on the Lannister name signify to me that Jamie has in a sense, given up on Cersei and the ‘love’ that he’s had for her all these years. I think he’s realized that her love for him was either not as strong for him as his was for her, or just never existed in the first place. His ultimate conclusion it seems is that Tyrion’s the sibling worth making sacrifices for, not Cersei.

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  •  What can I say about the trial itself? Can we just give Peter Dinklage the awards now-and I do mean ALL OF THE AWARDS. Good Lord, his performance was just outstanding. I literally was on the edge of my seat for the entire scene, the build-up to the climax was just marvelous. I could feel the sheer devastation that Tyrion felt when Shae appeared and testified against him. It almost made me wish that I was a crier so that I could cry for him, I felt so sorry for how cruel she was to do that. I think the pain of that scene was so powerful not just because it was Shae that delivered the crucial blow to Tyrion’s hopes of mercy in the trial, but also because she gave the false testimony because of hermistaken belief that he had cast her aside simply because he was tired of her when in reality he only made her leave because he wanted to save her life. I’ve always believed from the very first season that Tyrion is the heart and soul of GoT- the show just wouldn’t be the same without him, and last week’s episode certainly reinforced that belief. I can’t begin to guess what will happen now in Tyrion’s trial by combat. We can only wait and see, can’t we?

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So this recipe was begun originally as an intention to follow one of the recipes from my new Game of Thrones cookbook that I told you guys about in my last post. I got as far as sauteeing the apples before changing my mind and just doing things my own way, putting a ‘Jess Twist’ on this dish. The seasoning rub on the pork chops are inspired by the cookbook, while the cooking methods and apple gravy are my own contributions. When it was finished and I was looking for the GoT inspiration in the dish, I immediately thought of Robert Baratheon. Why? Because this is just a real ‘man’s man dish’, that’s why. Spice rubbed thick, tender meat that’s swimming in a thick, hearty apple gravy-it’s just the type of meal you would expect a ‘man’s man’ type of king like Robert to come and feast on after a hunt, joust, or whatever. I went off the script, and it just really paid off.

For those of you just now joining the GoT series, I’ll post the series existing recipes below for you to check out. Until next week, guys!

Game of Thrones Series

Week 1: Pigeon {Chicken} Pies

Week 2: Winterfell Brown Bread

Week 3: Southron Spinach & Plum Salad

Week 4: Baratheon Smothered Pork Chops & Apple Gravy

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Baratheon Smothered Pork Chops & Apple Gravy

Recipe Loosely Adapted from The Unofficial Game of Thrones Cookbook

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  •  10-12 boneless pork chops, about 4- 5 oz each
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tart apple, peeled, cored and chopped into slices
  • 1 cup white wine, divided
  • 2 tsp ground cloves
  • 4 tsp ground cumin
  • 6 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp hot paprika
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 tsp rubbed sage
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp Dijon mustard

 Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Cook the fennel seeds and apple slices in 1/2 cup of the wine in a heavy cast iron, or regular non-stick skillet, covered, for about 20 minutes. Be sure to keep  wet by adding liquid as needed. When apple is soft, add the butter and stir until melted. Remove the apples and fennel seeds from the heat and set aside.

3. In a medium size bowl, combine the cloves, cumin, hot & sweet paprika, coriander, zest, salt, pepper, cardamom and sage. Rub the mixture on the pork chops on both sides.

4. Heat about 1 tbsp vegetable oil in the skillet and turn the  heat up to medium high. Cook steak for about 3 minutes on either side. (It does NOT have to be cooked all the way through). Remove pork to a plate and cover with aluminum foil, leaving the drippings in the skillet.

5. Lower heat to medium-low and combine other 1/2 cup of white wine,, chicken broth, flour, heavy cream and Dijon mustard in skillet. Stir and allow to  cook until flour has completely dissolved and liquid is thickened to desired consistency. Stir apples and fennel seeds into gravy.

6. Spray two casserole dishes with cooking spray. Place pork chops into casserole dishes and pour the apple gravy over them, stirring to combine. Cover dishes with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes in preheated oven.

7. Remove aluminum foil and check the seasoning of the gravy, adjusting if need be. Use a fork to test the doneness of pork chops. If it slides in and out of the meat smoothly, they are done.

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Apple Cinnamon Scones

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Happy Fiesta Friday #16 all you lovely people who came out the party! I’m pleased to bring this humble offering to share: Apple Cinnamon Scones!

I think just about everyone has had a certain interest, like hobby or skill that in a perfect dream world, they would like to use that hobby or skill as a job that they could do for the rest of their lives. I admittedly, have had quite a few of these in my short 24 years on this Earth.

When I was in elementary school, I loved everything that had to do with babies, thus making me believe that I wanted to be an obstetrician- this was after I consulted with my mom and found that there WAS such a thing as a doctor that only handled labor and delivery of babies. Then I found out that I wasn’t the best at science or math- both of which you kinda have to have decent skills into become a doctor. So that was out.

When I was between the ages of 11-13 I was  sure I was gonna be an Egyptologist when I grew up- pretty much an expert on everything that had to do with ancient Egypt. You know those mysterious (and let’s face it, creepy) curators of Egyptian artifact museums you see in the movies? Yeah, I totally used to fantasize about that being me.

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When I was in high school, I did some acting in a few plays and musicals and really enjoyed it. I also saw the film adaptation of Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera” (which made me develop a mild obsession with all things PoTO related that lasted far longer than I’m willing to admit to you guys) Thus, I got the idea in my head that maybe my true calling was to become an actress on Broadway, where I would be able to become the first African American Christine Daae to a Phantom that happened to look like Gerard Butler’s twin brother. (Side note, I’ve given up on that one completely).

My main goal during my undergraduate years at Michigan State University was to go on to graduate school and become a scholar in academia of African American studies. To be honest, this is something that I’m still kinda considering for my future. I love all things that have to do with African American history, and although the prospect of grad school intimidates me, I’d still feel honored and pleased if given the opportunity to pursue the life of an academic.

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Nowadays, my dreams and aspirations for the ideal job mainly revolve around two things: writing and food. I think I’ve mentioned before that writing fiction and cooking food are the only two things in the world that I could do for free without needing any pay or compensation. I’m totally serious about that too. As a voracious reader as a girl, I finally came to the conclusion one day that instead of just envying the stories of my favorite authors, maybe I should just try creating some of my own stories and characters- so I did. My writing has really become one of the main stress relievers that I have in my life. I can’t imagine life without it. The best part is that it’s become an ongoing journey that never has to end- the more and longer that I write, the  more that I think I have and will continue to improve my skills…which leads to my ‘ideal world’ dream of becoming a bestselling author that just writes books for a living. It’s definitely a long shot, but a girl can still dream, can’t she?

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And of course, there’s my cooking. You guys ought to know by now that my cooking is my refuge. When I cook, all is well with my world. There’s just me, the kitchen, my ingredients, and the music in the background. Blogging has really just served to elevate my love and respect for cooking- I not only get to share it with my family and friends, I also get to share with you all…the pictures, that is 🙂 My friend Prudy at Butter, Basil & Breadcrumbs told me in one of my past posts that I should open a bakery. I found this to be rather coincidental, as running a small bakery is something I can half see myself doing in an ideal, care-less world. Running a restaurant- definitely not. But a bakery, I think I could do.

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So, some of you may remember a few months ago when I first made these Banana Bread Scones. (If you don’t or weren’t following my blog at the time, I highly recommend you go and check them out cause they’re friggin awesome) They were a smashing hit, and I was so impressed with them that I almost immediately decided that I would be making scones- any kind of scones- again as soon as possible. I finally settled on these- and I can’t tell you how happy I was that I did.

I didn’t think it was possible to top the Banana Bread Scones, but honestly I kinda think that these do. What else can I say? They’re thick, flaky, tender and bursting with apples and cinnamon chips. You may notice that mine are iced- technically the recipe didn’t call for it but I went ahead and decided to throw together a quick icing using confectioner’s sugar, a few teaspoons of milk, vanilla extract and a dash of cinnamon. My family always whines about how much I use icing for every baked good that I make, but I don’t care. I love icing. Icing is everything. Everything in life.

These scones make me think that maybe I should start taking my little dream world aspiration of opening a bakery a reality someday- after I’ve sold my hundreds of thousands of books on the New York Times Bestseller’s List, that is.

Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?

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Apple Cinnamon Scones

Recipe Courtesy of King Arthur Flour

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon Apple Pie Spice or ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) cold butter
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh apple, in 1/2″ pieces leave the skin on, if you like
  • 3/4 cup cinnamon chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened

Directions

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and spice.

2. Work in the butter just until the mixture is unevenly crumbly; it’s OK for some larger chunks of butter to remain unincorporated.

3. Stir in the chopped apple and cinnamon chips.

4. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and applesauce.

5. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until all is moistened and holds together.

6. Line a baking sheet with parchment; if you don’t have parchment, just use it without greasing it. Sprinkle a bit of flour atop the parchment or pan.

7. Scrape the dough onto the floured parchment or pan, and divide it in half. Gently pat and round each half into a 5″ to 5 1/2″ circle about 3/4″ thick.

8. Using a knife or bench knife that you’ve run under cold water, slice each circle into 6 wedges.

9. Carefully pull the wedges away from the center to separate them just a bit; there should be about 1/2″ space between them, at their outer edges.

10. For best texture and highest rise, place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered. While the scones are chilling, preheat the oven to 425°F.

11. Bake the scones for 18 to 22 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. When you pull one away from the others, it should look baked all the say through; the edge shouldn’t look wet or unbaked.

12. Remove the scones from the oven, and cool briefly on the pan. Serve warm. When they’re completely cool, wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to several days. (Yield: 12 scones)

 

 

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Apple Cherry Squares

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The view outside my window right now is not a very welcome sight.

It’s snowing. Again. A lot.

I know. I live in Michigan. It’s only the beginning of February. Winter here typically runs to the middle or even end of March. A sizable chunk of the of the United States is getting sucked into a polar vortex of snow storms and bitter cold temperatures. My case isn’t particularly special. I should be used to it by now. I get it.

But I don’t care. I’m not only ready for winter to go away, I’m ready for it go away then die a quick, painless death that leaves no traces or evidence behind. Maybe that’s being a little over dramatic, but it’s true.

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Complaining and getting bummed about the weather doesn’t do anybody any good, so I’ll just shift gears to a more pleasant subject. In case you guys didn’t know, Buzzfeed is one of the most effective tools of distraction/procrastination on the internet. It’s even right up there with Pinterest I think (which is really saying something). There’s just the right combination of serious topics blended with just the right amount of pure silliness that’s enough to keep you occupied at all the times when you’re feeling bored or in need of something to pass the time.

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Case in point in this particular instance would be a fun kind of personality quiz that I took today: “Which ’90’s Nickelodeon show Are You?” I don’t know how many 90’s kids are out there reading Cooking Is My Sport, but if you are a 90’s kid (or even had kids that grew up during the 90’s watching Nickelodeon shows), then this quiz would probably be just as fun for you to take as it was for me. I know everyone has their own version of nostalgia for their childhood, but I really do think that Nickelodeon was its very best during the 1990’s, as well as the first 2-3 years of the 2000’s. I won’t get into a rant about it; instead I’ll just share my results, post the link to the quiz and encourage all you guys to take it, then post your results in the comments section below so I can see what you got- sound good? Awesome.

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Oh yeah, I almost forgot about the food. Well, these are a little different than what I expected when I first decided to try out the this recipe, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t turn out nicely. They certainly did. I’m  HUGE fan of Kashi cereal, and I’ve been wanting to cook with it for a long time so I went to search on the website for some inspiration. For some reason the name of the recipe suggested to me that these would be similar to granola bars, but they’re not at all. The texture is VERY tender and soft, like a coffee cake that literally melts in your mouth. But, they’re actually not like coffee cake at all because so far as baked goods go, these squares are pretty healthy. So, if that’s your thing, then feel free to go ham on these suckers. Another thing: they practically scream for you to have an accompaniment of coffee, hot apple cider, or cocoa to go with them. So make sure there’s some close by.

Don’t forget to take the quiz, and share your results with me (because I’m nosy like that). Until next time guys- stay warm!

Which 90’s Nickelodeon Show Are You?

(My Results)

Which ’90s Nickelodeon Show Are You?

You got: Hey Arnold!

Way to go, football head! You’re city-savvy but still figuring it all out – it’s a big world out there past the stoop! You’ve encountered some crazy characters in your day, but you’ll always have your pals, and you’re as good a friend as they come. Just try to keep away from the sewer and you’ll be all set.

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Apple Cherry Squares

Recipe Adapted from Kashi.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 cups, finely crushed Kashi Go Lean Crisp Cinnamon Crumble cereal
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup liquid sugar in the raw
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute (or 2 eggs)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups apples, finely diced

 Directions

1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.

2. In a medium bowl, mix first seven ingredients. Mix well, then set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together applesauce, liquid sugar in the raw, egg substitute, honey, oil, and vanilla. Then add diced apples and mix well.

3. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture and mix well. Spread evenly in oiled and floured 8″ x 11″ bake pan and bake 40 minutes or until knife comes out clean.

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