Monthly Archives: October 2013

Mixed Berry Crisp

This dessert is so easy, you can make it on a weeknight. Seriously.

I happened to make this yesterday, even though I had cooking grandiose Sunday cooking plans that got quickly derailed by watching an episode of Cutthroat Kitchen on Food Network while very hungry. After watching a burrito challenge and a pie challenge, I knew what was for dinner (burritos!) and that we had to make a dessert.

One of the contestants made a crisp instead of a pie (and didn’t have to pack his knives and go), and all I could think about for the next hour was getting my hands on some mixed berries and ice cream. So I did. Well, Brent did. Good thing we moved closer to Trader Joe’s!

The contestant on the show made some crazy concoction, but I found the simplest recipe that called for a bag of frozen berries and basic stuff you likely have in your cabinets and a few tablespoons of butter.20131027-210247.jpg

Mixed Berry Crisp
serves 4   //  recipe adapted from Bon Appetite 

Ingredients
1 12-ounce packages frozen mixed berries
1 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts (I did this in a food processor)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Toss frozen berries and cornstarch in large bowl. Let stand until cornstarch dissolves, tossing occasionally, about 20 minutes.
3. Mix brown sugar, flour, oats, nuts, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt in large bowl.
4. Add chilled butter; using fingertips, blend butter into mixture until coarse crumbs form.
5. Place berries in a small pie pan or baking dish and top with the oat mixture. (You can also do four single serving ramekins) and place dish(es) on rimmed baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes (10 minutes if you are using single serving ramekins).
6. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F and continue baking until crisp topping is golden brown and fruit filling is bubbling at edges, about 25-30 minutes longer.
7. Cool crisp at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature topped with scoop of vanilla ice cream.

20131027-210302.jpg I think this dish could be made a little bit better by adding a squeeze of lemon to the frozen fruit, but it was delicious as it was and I’m (not so) secretly looking forward to eating it again tomorrow. It’s a bunch of fruit and oatmeal, so it’s basically like eating a healthy breakfast-dessert. I’ll go with that.

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Limoncello for presents!

Are you already thinking about what to make your favorite friends and family members for the holidays this year? I bet you totally are (not) so I’m here to give you the easiest gift idea all of your fancy boozy pals will like. You do need some lead time, so consider this your weekend project! K? K.

Speaking of fancy, I had limoncello for the first time in Italy. It was served freezing cold in a fancy looking shot glass. I was 22 at the time so I did what any 22 year old with what looked like alcohol in a shot glass would do… I slammed it. The waiters did not approve. So, take note: this treat is meant to be sipped slowly. Bonus: your gift receivers will think of how awesome you are for a longer duration than a shot would take!

This is a two step process, each step taking no longer than about a half hour of active time with some waiting days in between.

Limoncello
makes 10-12 half pint jars    //    recipe adapted from Imbibe
Ingredients
12-15 organic lemons
2 (750 ml) bottles 80-100-proof vodka (one for now one for later, I used Svedka)
3.25 cups granulated sugar
5 cups water
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Directions:
STEP ONE
1. Buy the lemons! I found a big bag of organic lemons at Whole Foods for a decent price. I personally wanted organic, but that decision is up to you. Choose thick-skinned lemons, they are way easier to zest. Make sure the lemons are very yellow, not green, brown, etc.

2.Wash the lemons with a vegetable brush and hot water to remove any reside of pesticides or wax; I soaked mine in a big bowl of hot before scrubbing. Pat the lemons dry.

3. Carefully zest the lemons with a zester or vegetable peeler so there is no white pith on the peel. NOTE: Use only the outer part of the rind. The pith, the white part underneath the rind, is too bitter and would ruin your limoncello.

4. Then, stick the rinds and one bottle of vodka in a jar together. Let them sit for anywhere between 10-40 days in a dark area of your house. The longer these are together, the stronger the lemon flavor will be, so I left them for the full 40 days, but I gather two weeks is enough time. The color of the liquid should be very dark and smell very strongly like lemon. 20131024-185029.jpg

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STEP TWO (40 days later)
1. Strain the infusion through a colander or moistened cheesecloth into a clean jar or bowl. Make sure to to squeeze the last drops of liquid from the peels. Add the second bottle of vodka to the lemony vodka.

2.Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved and the syrup just comes to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool.

3. Add the syrup to the infused vodka. If you are impatient, you can add the syrup while it’s still warm to make cloudy Limoncello, but I thought it looked nicer clear so I waited.

4. Pour the liqueur into sterilized bottles (tons of cute options out there, but I used ball jars), seal tightly and let rest another 10-40 days. Additional aging will result in a smoother marriage of flavors. Make sure people stick this in the fridge after a few weeks and drink it cold. It delicious alone, or as a base of a martini/cocktail type thing.

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I found tons of free printable labels online, and really loved making this as a gift for lots of summer celebrations; birthdays, housewarmings, engagements, etc.

If you start this this weekend, you would be able to follow step one and let the flavors meld for the full 40 days, complete step two, let it sit for 9-10 days and be able to give this as a Christmas gift that would be ready to drink!  Go!

Cranberry Walnut Bread

I am my mother. I was making this recipe for Cranberry Walnut Bread when I realized this for about the 1,000th time in my life.

Every year my mom would make cranberry walnut and banana bread for her work’s bazaar to raise money. It was once a year and I remember she would spend what felt like an entire weekend baking.

So what did I find myself doing last night? Making Cranberry Walnut Bread for a work bake sale to raise money for United Way. I participated in the bake sale last year and knew I’d participate again when I found fresh cranberries from Wisconsin at the farmers market.

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Looks a little too much like Christmas…

Cranberry Walnut Bread
serves 16 // recipe modified from Ocean Spray
Ingredients
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 T. canola oil
¾ cup orange juice
1 egg
1/3-1/2 orange, w/peel, ground in food processor
2 cups fresh cranberries, rough chopped (approximately)
1 cup walnuts (I like to use walnut pieces)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 and combine all dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

2. Whisk egg in orange juice, add oil and orange mixture to orange juice mix. Add to dry ingredients. Stir until mixed.

3. Add cranberries and walnuts.

4. Place in pans coated in a non-stick spray, filling the pans a little less than 3/4 full.

5. Bake at 350 until done. If you have a big loaf that serves 15 this could take 50-55 minutes. The smaller the loaf the less amount of time it takes.  The small loaves took about 30 minutes, the large loaf took almost the full 55 minutes. Make sure you stick a cake tester (or knife or toothpick) in the center to check if it’s done, if it comes out clean, take it out! Theses are awesome as muffins for breakfast too, the muffins took less than 20 minutes.

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This recipe is very easy to double, so I did. This bread is so delicious; not overly sweet, has a hint of citrus, and makes a good dessert or breakfast. Thanks to my boss and co-worker who purchased it so my bread wouldn’t be the last baked good left on the table.

Cherry Tomato + Squash Crumble

I have been making this easy summer squash and cherry tomato recipe about once a month for the past two summers and although it’s technically fall you can still find a summer squash and some (or a giant bowl full) of cherry/grape tomatoes at a store or farmers market. Right? Right.20131020-220306.jpg

This recipe is simple and can either be a main dish (as I eat it) or a side. It’s a little cheesy and has a crispy breadcrumb crust, so what’s not to like. I make this on days where I only feel like going through a few steps to cook dinner. I’d categorize this as one of our “what we’ve been eating lately” dishes.

Tomato & Squash Crumble
serves 4-6 // adapted from Vegetarian Times
Ingredients:
1 small yellow onion, chopped (1 cup)
½ lb. small yellow crookneck squash, diced (2 cups)
3 cups cherry tomatoes
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup grated parmesan or Gruyère cheese
Salt + Pepper

Topping
1 ¼ cups fresh breadcrumbs
2 Tbs. finely chopped parsley

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Mix breadcrumbs and parsley together. (If you don’t have parsley, you can also use Italian seasoned breadcrumbs… I do this often.)

2. Spray a non-stick skillet with some cooking spray, add a little olive oil if you want and put the heat on medium-high. Add onion, and cook 7 to 9 minutes, or until beginning to brown.

3. While the onion is cooking, chop the squash into small pieces. Stir in squash, and cook 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and garlic, and cook 2 minutes more, or until tomatoes are warmed through. Season with salt, if desired and add about half of the cheese. Mix and then transfer mixture to prepared baking dish.

4. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top. Spread breadcrumb mixture over cheese. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden and bubbling. Serve hot.

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So delicious. So easy.

Homemade Applesauce

I love apple picking. In college I went with my pal Anna and last year I went with a pregnant Kate and (a regular) Meg. It’s always a fun time.

This year Brent, Maeby and I went apple picking on the last Sunday in September on a whim after a fun brunch and a trip to a farmers market. We had plans to go the day before but got rained out. Glad we went, as we took a detour into a row of grapes, came home with a ton of funky looking apples and a ring on my finger!

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Anyhoo, Brent has always wanted to try Homemade Applesauce, and when my co-worker Sam alerted me to The Pioneer Woman’s latest recipe, I knew I had something to use up the last of our “engagement apples.”20131020-161749.jpg

Homemade Apple Sauce (adapted from The Pioneer Woman)

Ingredients:

  • 6 pounds apples, peeled, cored, and cut into slices
  • 1 cup water (or, apple juice or apple cider)
  •  Juice o 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, more or less depending on how much cinnamon you like

Directions:

1. Wash, peel, and chop up your apples. You can put them in the large pot you will be cooking the applesauce in, squeezing the lemon over them as you go if’d you don’t want to look at brown apples.

2. Combine all ingredients in a large pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes. It will look something like this when done:

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3. Carefully puree in a food processor or blender (don’t fill too full; split into two portions if needed) until smooth.

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Store in single portion servings in the fridge and eat or use it in a recipe! It takes a few minutes to peel the skins off of the apples, but honestly this was one of the easiest recipes I’ve made in a long time. Brent liked it, I liked it, The Pioneer Woman liked it (well… her recipe…)… we’ll see if Kate’s baby enjoys it!