Apple season is definitely my favorite season. It’s the juicy, crunchy bite of the end of summer, merges flawlessly into autumn, and can carry us into winter with proper storage. My apple knowledge has continued to grow and expand, new ideas merging, and at least one new and very easy recipe was shared.
This is perfect for those busy nights when you want a yummy fall dessert but next to no time, and looks impressive enough to break out for friends and family. Want to add a little pizzazz? Dollop a little ice cream and caramel sauce on it.
Defrost a roll of puff pastry. This will take about 40 minutes total, or follow package instructions.
While pastry defrosts, peel, core and slice apples. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a pan (cast iron is desirable, but aluminum/stainless works too), melt butter and cook apples with remaining ingredients for about 5 minutes. Unroll the pastry on top of the apple mixture directly in the pan. Tuck under any overhanging corners or trim off.
Place pan in oven and bake for 15-18 minutes. Let cool slightly, then flip over onto a plate.
If taking this to another location, I would recommend leaving it in the pan for transport and flipping once you arrive. The apples will settle and compact the puff pastry once flipped and it is best served close to the finished time.
Sweet peppers are finally making an appearance in the garden, which I always start to wonder if they will show up before it starts to freeze. This recipe is, as the name implies, rustic in the sense that it is rather basic and easy to make. It’s both light and filling with a side of mashed potatoes. Perfect for those in-between summer and fall days when we switch between heat, A/C and back to heat in one day.
Another alternative to this recipe is to serve it with a fresh salad!
In 1980 my dad toured around Europe and seemed to enjoy Greece most of all. When he came home and started a family he wanted to share his love for travel and adventure with us. He loves Feta cheese, Greek salads, and Gyros. As a kid, I didn’t get gyros. First, because I didn’t know how to pronounce it. Second, I didn’t get putting cucumbers (kid thinking blech), tomatoes (still wasn’t eating those either), or the sauce that sounds like the alphabet chewed it up and spit it out. No, as a kid I may have been a bit particular, not adventurous, just….well, I was probably pretty annoying. Gyros really make that point clear. What I was willing to try, and later eat was the pita bread, meat, and topped with my mom’s French Dressing.
Thankfully, around the time I hit college (collective eye-roll), I was willing to try raw tomatoes. It was a mix-up at Taco Bell to thank for it. After waiting a very long time for my order and finding it not as I had ordered it, and not willing to go back to make it right, I just ate it. Then trying tomatoes on salad, I realized they were actually pretty good. Sadly, I don’t think it was until I was feeling tremendously homesick living in Oklahoma City that I thought about trying Gyros again. By this point I was willing to eat everything but the Feta, I’m still working on that one. I found a great shop in town which allowed you to take the meat home to heat. I made them in the hot kitchen in July to find myself smiling ear-to-ear feeling a connection to my family that only food can do.
While Greece remains a spot on my travel wish list, I have yet to be. I still share Gyros with my family, and found the convenience packages in the freezer section of the grocery store to fit the bill. There is also an excellent restaurant, Athenos in Sun Prairie, that makes stellar Greek food. Opting for dine-in this week, I went the convenient route, but splurged on making my own Baklava. Whoa. That’s a little time intensive, but so very good. What I’m most looking forward to is using my own honey from my hives.
Remove phyllo dough package from freezer and place in the fridge for 24 hours to thaw. Remove from fridge 1 hour before using. (Based on package instructions)
When working with the phyllo dough, only remove the sheets you immediately need, keeping the other sheets covered in plastic wrap, then a damp cloth. They dry out really fast!
In a medium bowl, toss together the chopped walnuts and cinnamon. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly butter a rectangular baking pan. Make sure the sheets of phyllo will generally fit the pan. If the sheets much bigger, trim with a sharp knife.
Butter the top sheet of phyllo with melted butter, then grab it and the unbuttered sheet below it. Set the two sheets in the pan, buttered sheet face down. Press lightly into the pan. Repeat this twice more, so that you have six sheets of phyllo in the pan, three of the sheets buttered.
Sprinkle on enough walnuts to make a single layer. Butter two sheets of phyllo and place them on top of the walnuts. Add more walnuts, then two more buttered phyllo sheets. Repeat this a couple more times, or until you're out of walnuts. Top with 6 more buttered phyllo sheets, ending with a buttered top. Cut a diagonal diamond pattern in the baklava using a very sharp knife.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until the baklava is very golden brown.
While the baklava is baking, combine 1 stick of the butter, honey, water, sugar, and vanilla in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.
When you remove the baklava from the oven, drizzle half the saucepan evenly all over the top. Allow it to sit and absorb for a minute, then drizzle on a little more until you think it's thoroughly moistened. You'll likely have some of the honey mixture leftover. (Make some toast and drizzle with the honey mixture for an immediate snack)
Allow the baklava to cool, uncovered, for several hours. Once cool and sticky and divine, carefully remove them from the pan and serve with coffee (or give as gifts!)
Did you ever wonder if The Rolling Stones spelled “Time” wrong, and meant to spell it “thyme”? I briefly did while making this meal and singing, “Thyme, is on my side. Yes it is!” My family came running for this meal with the wonderful aromas of bacon, thyme, Italian seasoning, and chicken all collided in a pan. There was extra sauce, bacon bits and mushrooms which I saved and reused on top of mashed potatoes as a special “gravy” for lunch the next day. (Did you read that post on Vegoodles? I have tried to be good…then this happens.)
Paired with small colorful new potatoes, this meal satisfies all the nooks and crannies in your belly. I did add a salad to the plate after pictures were taken, and would recommend one to you as well. This is a rich dish. I found a recipe at therecipecritic.com which I’ve altered a little here. I think the addition of some spinach would make this really stand out.
I nearly missed any opportunity to snap a picture. It smelled so good, and I was so hungry that I nearly dove in before getting anything on record.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a pan, sear chicken with a little olive oil, and season with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes on each side, then move to the oven for 20 minutes or until cooked through. (Please use a thermometer to double-check!)
In another pan, add olive oil, and cook garlic until tender. Add mushrooms and cook until soft. Next add bacon, cream, a dash of salt and pepper, and the thyme leaves. (Taste before adding the salt. The bacon sometimes has enough depending on type). When chicken is cooked through, add it to the pan with the creamy mushrooms and cook for 1 minutes. Serve immediately.
Bacon + Anything = Love. You will love this salad.
Pea shoots are here, tender, lightly pea-flavored, green and easy to pluck from the tall tendrils in the garden. I put tiny hands on the job of collecting the leaves after a brief demonstration. My kids whether they like it or not, and so far for the most part have liked it, will learn how to grow their own food and how to cook with it. I start them young, some have commented maybe a little too young, but why would you start in middle school? Or high school? Or even college? Peas are one of the easiest things to grow, and therefore, the first thing I have my youngsters help plant. This year, Anna took the helm and made three very straight rows in one of our raised beds.
Julia (age 4), plants salad greens. Also very easy to grow, she is only now starting to try lettuce. It was a battle of the ages until she started testing it out in her beloved tacos. She’s been able to move on to salads with a bit of dressing. This recipe really challenged her, but with the addition of bacon, she loved it.
You can find pea shoot greens at a Farmer’s Market if you aren’t growing your own. It’s a limited time only, so hurry! I also added a few chive flowers, and Parmesan to the greens…plus, the bacon (a leftover from the drippings needed in the dressing recipe!)
In a skillet, cook sliced red onion with the bacon drippings until lightly browned. Add red wine vinegar, sugar, Dijon mustard, and salt, and whisk together. Simmer for 2 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
In a salad bowl, toss together the pea shoots, Parmesan cheese, and chives. Drizzle the warm dressing over the salad and top with bacon bits.
It’s finally starting to taste like summer! Strawberry season is open and we enjoyed our day today picking berries, canning, and creating. We made vanilla strawberry freezer jam, strawberry jelly, strawberry vanilla frozen yogurt, strawberry malts, and strawberry pie. We also froze a few bags. Here’s a few more ideas of delicious items you could create! Happy Strawberry Season!
What the hey is a “vegoodle”? It’s what happens when vegetables run into my spiralizer and become noodles. Also known as, delicious. I received a spiralizer attachment for my Kitchen Aid as a birthday present. The first time I used it I made sweet potato curly fries and discovered the ancient secret mystery of Hardee’s curly fries. Those were good, but I wanted to try the next idea: removing noodles from spaghetti. Say whaaaaat? Why would I do that?! Which is a fair question! I love pasta! Don’t believe me? Check me out in my swimsuit this season!!! Which goes back to why I would do that. It’s swimsuit season, and I didn’t do the preemptive work months ago. So there ya go. No more secrets folks. Vegoodles is where it’s at.
If you haven’t yet tried making your own spaghetti sauce, check this out. It’s my main go-to sauce, and for this I skipped the meat. You don’t have to, in fact a little ground pork would be awesome with this. Back to the whole swimsuit thing…I opted for less is more.
To make the vegoodles, you will need a spiralizer. I used zucchini and a little sweet potato (small left over from another meal uncooked). In a hot pan with olive oil, toss to coat and cook for about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with a tiny touch of salt and pepper. You could also add other squashes if desired.
I’ll also admit both of my kids were skeptical, with looks of, “Is she for real? I’m not eating that!” Only to be met with wide eyes of delicious surprise that, “Yes! This is gooood! Mom wasn’t trying to poison us after all!” In case you are wondering, yes, I did sit there with a smug look on my face. The classic, “I told you so.”
How many times have you went to create a blended concoction (usually with alcohol) to have a kid walk in and ask if they have some, only to be told, “No, this one is for Mommy”? It’s becoming a trend around here, especially with the HOT weather! Today after swim team practice and swimming lessons, I decided to make a Tropical Treat. The added bonus of this recipe is you can use it one of three ways! Non-alcoholic, add clear rum, or make into popsicles! Which one is which? I’ll never tell.
Creamy banana, with sweet pineapple, puckering of orange juice, and the red delight of strawberries, this drink is a crowd-pleaser. Make a batch and pour into glasses for the kids, then return to the machine and add a little clear rum (spiced rum is going to be very strong scented in this and overpower the tropical flavors). It won’t physically change your latitude, but there’s a good chance it will change your attitude!
Add all ingredients into a blender. Press smoothie or blend option. Pour into cups and enjoy! If wanting to forget about your troubles, add 2 shots of clear rum to the mixture. For popsicles, pour blend into ice cube trays, or another form with sticks and freeze 4-6 hours.
These Italian Wraps are easy to put together any time of year. We enjoy wraps at Concerts on the Square in Madison as a picnic dinner, paired with in-season fruit salads, pasta salad, and a dessert. For the kids, some of the meats tend to be a little spicy or “too flavorful”, so we also make turkey wraps for them.
Lay out each tortilla, then begin to layer the ingredients. For picnicking purposes, we leave off the dressing until our destination so we don't have soggy wraps. Have all ingredients prepped and it can become a fast assembly line kids are happy to help with!
Friday night we celebrated the ends of chapters and the beginnings of new ones. Everyone at the table was finding themselves with new projects, jobs, extended educational opportunities, moves, and changes. But that’s life, right? So naturally we toasted to Life.
The menu was broken down into four segments:
Blood Orange Sparklers
Ginger Rhubarb Shruklers (Shrub-Sparkler)
Creamy Chicken Pasta
Dessert: Vanilla bean shortcakes with Strawberries and Cream