Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Salted Caramel Apple Cider

It's the time of year I love.  The air is brisk and the leaves are starting to turn.   Perfect for enjoying a hot cup of Apple Cider.  Apple cider is one of my favorite fall drinks.  It is warm and comforting.

Apple cider is heated with a 3-inch stick of cinnamon in a saucepan.  Some  caramel sauce is stirred into the cider.  Mmm.  Next, some whipped cream and salt are beat together until soft peaks form.  Then caramel sauce is stirred into the whipped cream.   I could have sat down and just ate the bowl of whipped cream.    The whipped cream  adds extra flavor to this hot cup of cider.  

Ladle the hot apple cider in a mug and top with a dollop of the whipped cream.  If you wish drizzle some more caramel sauce on top.  In my book you can never have too much caramel.

A wonderful fall beverage to enjoy  and share with your loved ones:)

Salted Caramel Apple Cider
Adapted from "Land O Lakes"


4 cups refrigerated apple cider
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1/4 cup caramel sauce
Whipped Cream
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons caramel sauce
Carmel sauce for drizzling, if desired

1. Combine apple cider and cinnamon stick in a medium saucepan.  Cook over low heat until heated through.  Stir in 1/4 cup caramel sauce; keep warm.
2. Place whipped cream and salt in a bowl; beat at high speed until soft peaks form.  Gently stir in 2 tablespoons caramel sauce.
3. Remove cinnamon stick.  Serve hot apple cider with dollop of whipped cream; drizzle with caramel sauce, if desired.

Makes 4 servings

Friday, September 12, 2014

Senate Navy Bean Soup

This soup looked and sounded hearty and delicious.  I love a good bean soup and this recipe I found in "Cook's Country" magazine is a good recipe.  It is made with your traditional ingredients of navy beans, ham hocks, onion, celery, garlic, potatoes, and vinegar.  However, this recipe kicks the soup up a bit by using 2 ham hocks and a cut-up potato instead of precooked mashed potatoes.  Finally, instead of using butter this recipe uses vegetable oil.

The result is a very satisfying soup that is both hearty and delicious.  Make a pot of this delicious soup and taste for yourself.

Senate Navy Bean Soup
From "Cook's Country" Magazine


Salt and pepper
1 pound (2 1/2 cups) navy beans, picked over and rinsed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion chopped fine
2 celery ribs, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 whole cloves
2 (12-ounce) smoked ham hocks
8 ounces russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 tablespoon cider vinegar


1. Dissolve 3 tablespoons salt in 4 quarts cold water in large container.  Add beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.  Drain and rinse well.
2. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering.  Add onion, celery, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, 8 to 10 minutes.  Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Transfer onion mixture to bowl.
3. Insert cloves into skin of 1 ham hock.  Add 8 cups water, ham hocks, and beans to now-empty pot and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered with lid lightly ajar, until beans are tender, 45 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Stir potatoes and onion mixture into soup and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes; remove pot from heat.  Transfer ham hock to cutting board and let cool slightly.  Discard cloves, then shred meat, discarding bones and skin.
5. Using potato masher, gently mash beans and potatoes until soup is creamy and  lightly thickened, 8 to 10 strokes.  Add 1/2 teaspoon pepper and shredded meat and return to simmer over medium heat.  Stir in vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve.

Serves 6 to 8

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Baked French Toast With Raspberries and Maple Syrup

Out of the fridge and into the oven.  Bake for about 35 minutes and breakfast is ready.  That is the convenience of French Toast bakes.  You can make them the night before - three big cheers for not having to get up super early to make breakfast.  Heat and serve.

I found this recipe in "Redbook" magazine.  The original recipe called for strawberries but I did not have any so I used raspberries.  I used a loaf of homemade challah bread.  Just as the recipe instructs, I cut 6 slices of the bread and then cut the remaining loaf into cubes.  The cubes were placed in the prepared baking dish.  The bread slices were used for cut shapes.  I used a leaf cookie cutter but you can use whatever shape you have on hand.  The cut outs are placed on top of the cubed bread.  Next your pour the custard which consists of eggs, milk, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt over the bread.  Be sure the bread absorbs the liquid.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.  Next morning sprinkle some sugar over the bread and pop into a 350 degree oven and bake for about 35 minutes.  Removed from oven, sprinkle with some raspberries and serve with warm maple syrup.

A delicious way to start the day.  Enjoy:)

Baked French Toast With Raspberries and Maple Syrup
Adapted From Redbook Magazine


Butter for pan
1 (1pound) loaf brioche, challah, or pullman bread
2 cups whole milk
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 pint raspberries
Warm maple syrup, for serving


1. Butter a 9-inch square baking dish.
2. Cut 6 slices of bread about 1/2 inch thick.  Cut remaining bread into 1-inch cubes.  Place cubes in prepared baking dish.
3. Using a star-shaped cookie cutter (or other shape), cut out shapes from slices of bread.  Place them on top of cubes in dish.
4. In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix milk, eggs, vanilla, and salt.
5. Pour custard mixture over bread, pressing down gently so all the bread absorbs the liquid.  Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour, up to overnight, so liquid is completely absorbed.
6. Heat oven to 350 degrees F, with a rack in the middle position.
7. Sprinkle sugar on top of French toast.  Bake until golden, about 35 minutes.
8. Serve with strawberries and warm maple syrup.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Monday, September 8, 2014

Drop Cracked Sugar Cookies

Time to make another Care Package:)  My oldest, is doing graduate studies at Texas A&M so I send him care packages from home.  Last time I sent some Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies  This time I made some Sugar Cookies.

These cookies are drop cookies but they can still be "decorated" with colored sugar crystals if you wish.  I chose yellow and orange for fall. Tim thought a sprinkling of orange would go good on the yellow cookie - see front cookie.    I also used granulated sugar.    The results were  both pretty and delicious.  A very moist cookie with a slight chewiness that was simple yet elegantly decorated.    

Note:  This is a great recipe to make with kids.

Drop Cracked Sugar Cookies
From Savory Sweet Life

Makes 32 medium sized cookies – Adapted from All Recipes.com


1 1/4 cups white sugar

1 cup salted butter

3 egg yolks

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/3 cup coarse sugar crystals or regular granulated sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cream together butter and sugar until it is nice and creamy.  Mix in 1 egg yolk at a time and vanilla extract.   Add flour, baking soda, cream of tarter, and salt until cookie dough is completely mixed.  Be sure to scrape down the bowl to be sure everything is mixed.  Using a medium scoop, form dough balls and roll them in sugar crystals.  Place cookie balls on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper 2 inches apart from one another.  Be sure not to flatten the dough.  Bake for 12-14 minutes until the surface of each cookies have a cracked like texture.  Remove from oven and allow cookies to remain on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.  Enjoy!

Out-of-the-Oven Goodness

Friday, September 5, 2014

Chicken in Marsala Sauce

Tender, juicy, and flavorful.  A winner chicken dinner.    I have had Chicken Marsala before but it was a little dry.  Not so with this chicken. I found this wonderful recipe in Family Circle magazine.

This is a very easy dish to prepare.  It take about 15 minutes of prep time.  The cook time is 4 hours because this dinner is cooked in a slow cooker.

Start by putting some olive oil, a little chopped shallot, and some chopped garlic in the bottom of your slow cooker.  Coat the chicken with a mixture of flour, salt, and pepper.  Place the chicken in the slow cooker.  Scatter some mushrooms on top and add the Marsala wine.  Cover and cook for 4 hours.

Before serving the chicken, remove the chicken from the slow cooker and place on a platter.  Add the juice to a saucepan and add some cornstarch. I did not strain the juices.  You can if you wish.     Simmer the sauce for about a minute.  Add your chicken back to the slow cooker and pour sauce over the chicken.  I sprinkled my parsley on top of the chicken.

Dinner is ready.  I served my chicken with some mashed potatoes.  Delicious and very satisfying.
This recipe serves 4.

Chicken in Marsala Sauce
From Family Circle Magazine

Special Equipment: Slow Cooker


1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped shallot
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 3/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
3/4 cup Marsala
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoon chopped parsley

1. Coat slow cooker bowl with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Combine olive oil, shallot and garlic in bottom of slow cooker.  Combine flour, salt and black pepper; coat chicken with mixture and add to slow cooker.  Scatter mushrooms over chicken and add Marsala.
3. Cover and cook on LOW for 4 hours.  Drain liquid into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Combine cornstarch with 2 teaspoons water and stir into saucepan; simmer for 1 minute and add back into slow cooker.  Stir in parsley.

Makes 4 servings

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Peach Butter

The peaches are gone until next year.  I have eaten, canned, and made all sorts of good spreads with this years peach crop.  Today's recipe is for a delicious Peach Butter that goes great on toast, scones, muffins, biscuits, or just eaten by the spoonful.  I found this recipe on the "Smitten Kitchen" website.

Fresh peaches are first blanched and then peeled.  Cut the peaches into chunks and cook until soft in a small amount of water.  I let my peaches cool a bit before I put them in my blender.  Next, the puree is mixed with some sugar, and lemon juice.  You cook until you have  nice thick fruit butter.  The recipe is great in that it tells you various ways to test for doneness.  I used the ribbon method.

The ribbon on the surface of  the butter

Once done, I transferred my butter to 5 sterilized half-pint jars and processed them in a water bath for 10 minutes.  I let the butter cool completely and then enjoyed it spread over a Bran muffin.
A very tasty and terrific way to start my morning.    Thanks to the Smitten Kitchen for this tasty recipe:)

Peach Butter
From "Smitten Kitchen"

Yield: 4 cups

4 pounds (1.8 kilograms) peaches
1 cup (237 ml) water
2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
Juice of one lemon

Without a food mill: Cut a small “x” in the bottom of each peach. Dip each into a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds, and then into a bowl of cold water for a minute. The peels should slide right off. [If you have a food mill, skip the peeling step and I'll tell you where to use it in a moment.]

Halve your peaches and remove the pits, then cut each half into quarters (i.e. 8 chunks from each peach). Place peach chunks and water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Simmer until peaches are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure they cook evenly. If you have a food mill, run them through it to puree them and remove the skins. If you don’t have a food mill — i.e. you already peeled your peaches — you can puree in a food processor, blender or with an immersion blender. I like my peach butter very smooth, but feel free to leave any amount of texture you prefer.

Return the peaches to the large pot, add the sugar and lemon juice and bring the mixture to a good strong simmer/gentle boil, cooking them at this level for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally in the beginning and more often near the end, as it thickens up and the fruit masses risk scorching on the bottom of the pot.

There are several methods to test for doneness: You can drizzle a ribbon of sauce across the surface; when that ribbon holds its shape before dissolve into the pot, it is done. Some people use cold or frozen plates; dollop a spoonful in the middle of one and if no water forms a ring around it in a couple minutes, it is done. Others use a spoon; if the butter remains rounded on a spoon for two minutes, it is done. You can also check the pot itself; the butter is usually done when a wooden spoon leaves a clear train when scraped across the bottom.

Let peach butter cool (unless you’re canning it, in which, follow the directions below). If you’re not canning it, keep it in an airtight container in the fridge. It should be good for at least two weeks.

To can your peach butter: First, sterilize your jars, either by boiling them in a large, deep pot of water (which should cover the jars completely) for 10 minutes or washing them in lots of hot soapy water, rinsing and drying the parts well and then place the jars only in a 200 degree oven for 20 minutes. Then, divide your hot piping hot peach butter between your jars, leaving a little room at the top. Wipe the rims clean with a dry towel and cover the jars with their lids. Submerge the jars in a large, deep pot of boiling water for 10 minutes, either in a removable basket or using tongs to dip and remove them. Let cool completely on towels, a process that can take overnight. If canned properly, the peach butter should last indefinitely at room temperature.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Rich, chewy, with a very slight crackle, and a taste that floods your whole body with warmth and comfort.  That describes the perfect chocolate chip cookie.  I have made dozens and eaten dozens of this delicious cookie but the new number one recipe is the one I found in Cook's Country magazine.

These cookies are everything and more a chocolate chip cookie should be.  Like the other cookie recipes it has your basic ingredients of butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, eggs, vanilla extract, and chocolate chips.  The differences in this recipe are the  (1) amount of brown sugar used.  This recipe uses twice as much brown sugar as white.  The result is a chewier cookie.  (2) Melted butter.  This helps also to make the cookies chewy.

These subtle changes produce a cookie that will become a family favorite.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (10 2/3 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup packed (7 ounces) light brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips


1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in bowl.
2. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.  Add egg and yolk and vanilla and beat until combined.  Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 3 additions until just combined, scraping down bowl as needed.  Stir in chocolate chips by hand.
3. Working with 2 tablespoons dough at a time, roll into balls and space them 2 inches apart on prepared sheets.  Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until edges are set and beginning to brown but centers are still soft and puffy 15 to 20 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking.  Let cookies cool on sheets for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 2 dozen cookies

Note: To keep the cookies chewy longer, store them in an airtight container with a slice of sandwich bread.