Applelicious Sheet Cake

I started blogging thinking it would be pretty cool to share food and some recipes that we all enjoyed eating. I wasn’t sure anyone would ever read my words, make the food I was writing about or even enjoy my weekly blog. I am ever so surprised when someone I know mentions they like my blog, or made what I shared. It totally surprises me when not only friends and family but total strangers “like” a blog I’ve written. I truly appreciate all the support and encouragement.

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My daughter is the one who got me started and not only keeps me honest; I forget things and she reminds me; she also helps me when I don’t understand how social media works. She encourages me to read other blogs, if someone likes or follows my blog she wants me to go and look at theirs etc. I will admit I just recently started doing this and am so glad I finally took some time to do so. There are so many interesting people out there with great recipes and pretty neat stories to share. I hope to be able to spend more time supporting and encouraging others. I wish there more time in the day, I also would love to peruse Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter and all the other interesting social media sites; maybe someday I will figure them all out.

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So today’s recipe was one of many recipes I ripped out of a magazine or catalog, I have GOT to find a better way to store all of these. So many recipes so little time.

Applelicious Sheet Cake

2 apples – I used honeycrisps but Gala would also work well
⅓ cup butter, melted
1 ⅔ cups packed brown sugar
1 cup apple butter
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup finely chopped dried apples
1 recipe Maple icing

Maple Icing

In a small bowl stir together ½ cup powdered sugar, 1 Tbsp. melted butter, 1 Tbsp. maple syrup, 1 Tbsp. milk and ½ tsp vanilla till smooth.  

Preheat oven to 350’ F – Grease a 13x9x2 pan; set aside.

Peel, core and coarsely shred one of the apples using a box grater. The other apple thinly slice.  cover and set aside.

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In a large bowl whisk together butter, brown sugar, apple butter, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Add flour, baking powder & soda and the salt; whisk to combine. Fold in the dried apples and the fresh shredded apples reserving the slices for the top of the batter.

Spread batter in prepared dish and arrange the remaining apple slices on the top of the batter.

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Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Remove to a wire rack. Pour maple icing over the hot cake; spread evenly. Cool completely. Dust with cinnamon.

Recipe found on Better Home and Gardens

Pork Belly Steamed Buns

This week I stepped out of my comfort zone a bit on a couple of dishes I tried making for the first time. I always try a recipe the way it is written and then if needed I would change it up a bit to better suit our tastes or I would change it based on the ingredients I had on hand or could get my hands on.

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I am lucky enough to have an Asian market; not really close to me; but along my route when I make a trip to Sam’s Club. I was planning on making Pho a Vietnamese Noodle Soup and a Chinese Pork Belly Steamed bun. While I liked the Pho, my guys liked it better than I did. I am going to share with you the Pork Belly recipe that didn’t turn out how I envisioned it would, but was incredibly tasty and worth mentioning. I Kept telling my husband they weren’t how I wanted them, he said and I quote, “I don’t care they are delicious and you should cook pork like this all the time”

I was able to pick up the steamed buns in the frozen section and a Pho seasoning packet; which is a good thing since it needed 1 cinnamon stick, 1 tbl coriander seeds, 1 tbl fennel seeds, 5 whole star anise, 1 cardamom pod, 6 whole cloves all to be placed in a mesh bag and all of it came in a $1.99 packet. I thought that was awesome!!!

As I mentioned I bought the frozen buns and I was a little less than thrilled as how small they were, the taste was excellent I just wanted them to puff up more, I will try to make my own the next time I make them.

This recipe is best done in two stages. Bake the pork the day before so it has time to cool and sit tight until you need to slice it. If you want to use this today you should let it sit for at least 2 hours. It could sit in the fridge for up to 2 days.

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Pork Belly Buns

2 lb slab of pork belly

Wrap in heavy duty tin foil and place on a baking sheet

Preheat oven to 275’ and roast for 2 hours. Let it sit and cool and then put it in the fridge till you need it tomorrow. Do not unwrap as you want it to stay compact in the tinfoil.

Unwrap the pork belly, and slice into 1/2” pieces

1 tbs cooking oil

2 cloves minced garlic

1 tbs grated fresh ginger (I did not have this)

1 fresh chili pepper seeded, deveined and finely chopped (optional)

1 green onion diced

Caramel sauce

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tbs rice vinegar

3 tbs fish sauce

1 tbs soy sauce

½ cup water

Heat oil in a large saute pan or wok over high heat; once hot swirl the oil and add the pork, do not overlap, work in batches if you need to. Fry on each side till nicely browned

Put heat on low and add the garlic, onion, chili if you are using it; saute for 30 seconds just until fragrant. Pour caramel sauce into the pan and return the pork belly slices back into the pan. Let simmer for 10 minutes.

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My make due with what you have steamer

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Yes the pork was larger than the buns but they were delicious!!!

I used frozen buns but here is the recipe I am going to make the next time I make this.

2 tbs AP flour for dusting

2 cans Pillsbury Buttermilk Biscuit dough

20 parchment squares about 4×4 – keeps them from sticking

Dust work surface with flour, open and separate out the biscuits. There should be about 10 in each can. Keep the dough covered loosely with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel so they don’t dry out. Roll each biscuit into an oval and fold in half, place on parchment square, keep covered until ready to steam. Steam in batches and do not overcrowd or they will stick together.

Adapted from a Steamy Kitchen recipe my daughter sent my online

Big Debbie – Oatmeal Creme Pies

Yep I did it again; my husband was reading his weekly Sunday magazine this morning and they have a Food & Drink section with a recipe of the week.  He said “honey you should make these and blog about them”.  I can read between the lines, he really didn’t have any preference if I blogged about them for not; he did however really want me to make them; SO I did – I did mention I was an enabler right!

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I didn’t have everything on hand so he said “give me a list and I will go and get what was needed”; like it was going to be an option for me to go. I feel it is a small price to pay for someone else to bake.  Similar to whoever cooks; someone else has to do the dishes.  It’s only fair right?

The recipe of the week was a play on the Little Debbie oatmeal creme pies.  I am calling them Big Debbie because they have a tablespoon of bourbon in the cookie part and the creme asks for some of the butter to be browned. They are kind of a grown up version of the tasty little morsels, over the years I have bought the little version of them on a whim or maybe a weak moment going through the store, not very often maybe a couple of times a year if that, but they never lasted long when in the house. These are pretty darn good; well see how long these last.

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Cookie

Preheat 350′

2 cups AP flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon salt

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 cup brown sugar

½ cup sugar

2 tablespoons molasses

2 eggs

1 tablespoon bourbon – I used Jack Daniels’

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla

2 ½ cups oatmeal

Line a couple of sheet pans with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl whisk the flour, baking soda, and ½ teaspoon salt.  In a mixing bowl, beat the unsalted butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in molasses and then the eggs.  Add the whiskey and 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla. On low add the flour mixture and then the oats.  Using a tablespoon, or similar size scoop for uniform cookies; place on parchment a few inches apart. Bake 10-12 minutes.

Creme Filing

3 sticks butter, room temperature and divided

3 tablespoon heavy cream

2 teaspoons vanilla

¼ teaspoon salt

3 cups powdered sugar

Melt 2 sticks of butter in a saucepan; swirl around until butter starts to brown. Pour into a bowl/cup. Cool 10-15 minutes; place in the freezer for about 30 minutes. You want it solid but not frozen.  Add to a stand mixer add remaining butter beat until fluffy.  Stop the mixer and add the heavy cream, 2 teaspoons vanilla and ¼ teaspoon salt. Mix to combine, slowly add powdered sugar on low speed. Increase speed to medium and beat until smooth and fluffy.  Spread creme on cooled cookie and top with another. Makes about 20

Square the other cookie (Raspberry Squares)

There are a couple of types of bar cookies the typical chewy type like brownies and blondies.  Then there is a very nice alternative that is more like a pastry shortbread type that is tender, buttery and crumbly.

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Sometimes you want something sweet but you don’t have the time or patience to make individual cookies.  I will admit I do make more cookies than bars and I am not a fan of jelly filled anything but I found this raspberry bar recipe and fell in love.  I have made these many many times now, when I offer to bring them places I always double the batch just so I can leave some at home.  They are really easy to make, generally can be thrown together in about 15 minutes, not including baking I hope you try making them.  You can substitute the filling for whatever your preference is.

Raspberry Bars

1½ cups all-purpose flour

1¼ cups quick-cooking oats

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

¼ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

½ cup finely chopped pecans or almonds, or a combination of both

12 tablespoons unsalted butter softened but still cool.  Cut into pieces

1 10oz jar of raspberry preserve

 

Easily doubled – which is how I generally make them

Preheat oven to 350’

Spray 9×9 pan fold two 16-inch pieces of parchment or aluminum foil. Fold and press the first sheet into the pan pressing the corners, with the second sheet crisscross over the other.  You will want to make sure the end over hang; this is to take the bars out of the pan a lot easier.  Spray with the sheets with cooking spray.

Mix the flour, oats, sugars, baking soda, salt, and nuts in a bowl of an electric mixer on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds.  With the mixer on low, add the butter pieces; continue until the mixer is well blended and resembles wet sand; about 2 minutes.

Transfer two thirds of the oat mixer to the prepared pan; use your hands to press the crumbs evenly into the bottom of the pan. Bake until the crust starts to brown, about 20 minutes.  Using a rubber spatula spread the preserves evenly over the baked oats; sprinkle the remaining oat mixture evenly over the preserves. Bake until the preserves bubble around the edges and the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.  Cool on a wire rack to room temperature, about 1 ½ hours. Remove the squares using the foil or parchment paper handles. Transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 1 ½ inch squares.

Mother’s Day – Pain Perdu

Firstly I would like to wish all the mom’s out there a wonderful day of peace and relaxation doing whatever it is that makes you happy. I personally hope to get in 9 holes of golf this afternoon. This is my first mother’s day with nothing really planned.  My normal mother’s day consists of me making my mother and mother-in-law either brunch or dinner and sometimes both. Neither is in the state this year so I get the day off, for that matter my own kids are both out of state well actually they are both out of the country.  My son went to visit his sister in Japan; he does arrive home late tonight so off to Boston we will go, my husband and I will go out to dinner somewhere en-route.

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Looking for something a little special for breakfast? Pain Perdu can be as easy or as sexy as you want to make it.  Just the name sounds sexy; you got to just love romantic languages they can make an ordinary meal sound phenomenal.  Case in point Pain Perdu translates to “lost bread” or as we know it French toast nuff said.

My inspiration for how I made this dish was from my favorite local restaurant, they serve something similar for one of their desserts and it is amazing.  It also helps that there were a couple of bananas’ on the counter that needed another purpose and we had some leftover French bread from the previous night’s dinner.  This shows exactly how frugal I can be.  Quick story – my girlfriend was over one night and mentioned something about caramelized bananas so I whipped it up for her YUM!

Sorry a little longer than a quick story – The best French toast I ever had and forever changed the way we make it from that day forward.  For my 25th birthday my husband surprised me with a weeklong trip to the US Virgin Island of St Thomas.  We went into Charlotte Amalie for breakfast at the Greenhouse Café and I ordered French toast.  It looked pretty, but the taste was just amazing.  It was sliced elongated; it was buttery cooked to perfection and sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar.  I asked the waitress if the chef would share how it was made.  Even back then I was a foodie and didn’t know it.  His secret was the wash; it was only egg and rum.  Who knew!

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Caramelized Bananas

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 bananas

In a small sauté pan melt butter medium low heat, add sugar and sliced bananas. Cook until sugar has caramelized; watch carefully it could turn from yummy to yucky pretty quickly.

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Pain Perdu (aka lost bread)

3 Eggs

Splash of rum

Splash of Milk (yes I can’t not put some in)

Few sprinkles of cinnamon

Splash of Vanilla

Loaf of leftover French bread

Sprinkle of confectioners sugar

Slice bread, in a shallow dish add eggs, rum and cinnamon beat till combined.  Add sliced bread to egg mixture soak a minute or two, flip to soak other side.  Pre-heat griddle add soaked bread once up to temperature.  Cook till brown on both sides.  While toast is cooking; make the caramelized bananas.

My nemesis – the hard boiled egg white chocolate chip craisin cookies

Who would ever think that they would be taken down a few pegs by a hard boiled egg?

My eggs are not pretty so I thought I would share a picture of one of my Orchids

My eggs are not pretty so I thought I would share a picture of one of my Orchids

If I were ever on Iron Chef or Chopped and the secret ingredient was an egg that you had to have at least one be hardboiled in some form or fashion per dish. I would be chopped first round and it would be the biggest Iron Chef upset bar none. It’s not that I can’t cook them so they come out perfect which I can; they come out yellow, no brown rings (overcooked) or still semi raw but they are golden yellow as they should be. I for some strange bizarre reason cannot peel the damn things without making a complete and utter mess of the kitchen, the sink and worst of all the poor little egg. I have tried adding vinegar, salt separately and together.  I have tried peeling the cold, warm, hot. under water without water and even with a spoon.  Nothing works for me.

I have seen many deviled eggs in my days, not a huge fan of eating them but when I see them at parties and cookouts; trust me I look to see if the whites are a beaten up as mine when I am done with them. I have a couple of theories on this. Either everyone else has mastered the process and I am destined to never be included in that crowd OR they make twice as many as they need and only show off the pretty ones. Earlier this week I made 5 hardboiled eggs; my guys love deviled eggs which is the only reason I keep making them. I only had two that were worthy of going out in public, thankfully the guys just throw them in their mouths and don’t bat an eye at them. One was SO pathetic that there was no way that it could even be turned into a devil, that one I ended up cutting up and threw it on my salad that I made for my lunch.  I usually post a picture or two but I am embarrassed to show off my ineptitude with hardboild eggs.

My deviled eggs are traditional – a little bit of white vinegar, some dry mustard and some mayo, a little salt and white pepper Mix well and I put that into a zip loc bagie, clip a corner and fill the eggs.  Sprinkle a little paprika et voila.

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Since I didn’t take pictures of the eggs I thought I would share something that I know is yummy and looks good to boot.

1 Cup softened unsalted butter (not melted)

1 Cup packed brown sugar

1/2 Cup Sugar

Cream the above –  Beat in

2 Eggs

1 tsp Vanilla

Combine the below

1 1/2 Cup Flour

1 Tsp Baking Powder

1/4 tsp Salt

Stir in

3 Cups old fashioned oats

Add a bag of white chocolate

and a 10 oz bag of craisins

either spray a sheet pan or cookie sheet or use a silpat – drop by spoonfuls onto sheet and bake at 350′ for 10-12 minutes – do not over cook, let set on the sheet for a minute or two ENJOY!