Cinnamon Swirl Apple Bread

Image source: Once Upon a Chef

This is the first time I baked Cinnamon Swirl Apple Bread, but it won’t be the last! I intended to bake Coffee Cake, but didn’t have sour cream or buttermilk on hand. Searching for a recipe that contained ingredients I already had in my kitchen, I came across Jen Segal’s blog Once Upon a Chef  and found just what I was looking for. Her recipes look so good, I’m sure I’ll be referring to her blog again. The Cinnamon Apple Swirl Bread smelled amazing while it was in the oven!

Happy baking, hon.

CINNAMON SWIRL APPLE BREAD

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup peeled and finely diced tart baking apple (such as Granny Smith)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and set oven rack in middle position. Spray an 8.5 x 4.5-inch loaf pan lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Optional:  line the long side of loaf pan with parchment paper “sling” and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray again.
  2. In a small bowl, mix  brown sugar and cinnamon until evenly combined. Set aside.
  3. In a larger bowl, combine granulated sugar and eggs. Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, blend on medium speed until pale and creamy
  4. With mixer on low, gradually add melted butter followed by milk and vanilla. Mix just until evenly combined.
  5. Add flour, salt, and baking powder to batter and mix on low speed until evenly combined.
  6. Add apples to batter and fold with a rubber spatula until evenly incorporated.
  7. Spoon about 2/3 of the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle about 2/3 of brown sugar-cinnamon mixture on top of batter. Spoon remaining batter over top, followed by remaining brown sugar-cinnamon mixture. Using a butter knife, swirl layers by making a zig-zag motion through the batter once in each direction (don’t overdo it!).
  8. Bake for about 50 minutes, until bread is golden brown and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Let bread cool on rack for about 30 minutes, then use parchment sling to lift bread out of pan and onto rack. Let cool completely before slicing, a few hours or overnight. Store loosely covered with aluminum foil on the countertop for up to 4 days.

Yield:  One 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf (approx. 8-12 slices)

Hosting for the Holidays Hot Cocoa Bar

Image source: Southbound Bride
Image source: In Fine Taste

Sweater Weather!

As soon as it gets dark at 5pm and morning frost hardens blades of grass, I crave a hot drink every night. Hot chocolate is my favorite winter aperitif, so when researching ideas for an upcoming magazine article on creative hosting ideas, my favorite idea was–you guessed it–a Hot Cocoa Bar!

Easy Kids Activity: Why not ask older kids and tweens to participate? Set up a separate table with a wintery tablecloth or a cleared countertop. Supply mugs and spoons, mix-ins and containers, and labels and markers, and let the kids set up the display with a place saved for the hot cocoa. After you add the hot drink, they can be in charge of introducing the Hot Cocoa Bar to the rest of the guests.

Perk of the “job?” They get first dibs!

Supplies and Ingredients:

  • mugs, saucers, spoons
  • carafe of cocoa or hot water and powdered cocoa
  • containers with or without labels
  • mix-ins such as cinnamon sticks, chocolate shavings, peppermint sticks, toasted coconut, crushed toffee or whatever are the fan favorites
  • whipped cream and marshmallows

Note: Depending on diet preferences, ingredients may be parve (dairy free), gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan.

Happy hosting, hon!

Chanukah is Here! Potato Latkes Recipe (aka Potato Pancakes)

Potato Latkes
Potato Latkes

Chanukah Treat! 

Shout out to my niece Eli, who brought potato latkes to Thanksgiving! Why? Because, this year, the two holidays coincided. I have a love/hate relationship with these delicious Chanukah treats. I love to eat them, but don’t love making them. Trust me when I say oil splatters everywhere and energy must be reserved for a rigorous clean-up. I once heard a colleague say she fries hers outside on her deck in an electric frying pan. I own one, but am always cooking for a crowd. I’d need several electric frying pans…

Hmmm, food for thought!

IMG_2753

potatoes grated in food processor
Grate potatoes in food processor.

onions grated in food processor
Grate onions in food processor.

Latkes frying.
Fry latkes in oil until medium brown on each side.

Latkes frying.
Add more oil to frying pan when oil level drops.

Drain latkes on brown paper bags to retain their crispiness.
Drain latkes on brown paper bags to retain their crispiness.

POTATO LATKES

Ingredients

4 large potatoes, peeled and grated (I used a food processor to grate potatoes and onions.)

1 cup onions, grated

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup flour

Salt and pepper to taste

Corn, canola or vegetable oil

brown paper grocery bags, cut open and flattened on a counter

Directions

1.  Insert grating disc in food processor and grate potatoes.  Place potatoes in a colander sitting in a bowl or sink.  Drain excess liquid.

2.  Grate onions in food processor.

3.  In a large bowl, combine drained potatoes with eggs, salt, pepper, baking powder, flour and onions.  Mix well.

4.  Pour a layer of oil in frying pan and heat on a medium heat.

5.  Drop potato mixture by spoonfuls into hot oil.  (Be careful, because they splatter.)

6.  When one side of a latke is medium brown, turn and brown other side.

7.  Drain on paper bags.

Yield:  approximately 25 latkes, depending on the size of the spoon and amount of mixture you drop into the oil.

*If not serving right away, you may freeze latkes once they’ve cooled. When ready to serve, preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Place latkes in a single layer on foil-lined cookie sheets.  Bake approximately 15 minutes or until crisp.

Serve with applesauce or sour cream.

Thanksgiving Menu–Autumn, Tomato, Bean and Vegetable Soups

My Thanksgiving menu always includes soup. Velvety Vegetable Soup has been my go-to meal starter for years, but last year I changed it up by serving Roasted Autumn Vegetable Soup. It was delicious! Friday, when the house is full and lunch includes more visitors, I’ve paired Roasted Tomato Soup and Tuscan Rosemary White Bean Soup with paninis and cheese and cracker platters.

Wishing you a healthy and happy Thanksgiving! Hope it’s filled with family, friends and some time to relax.

Thanksgiving Menu–Apple, Pumpkin & Pecan Pies

Apple Pie with Basket Weave Crust.

One of the reasons I love Thanksgiving holiday food so much is that I love pie, especially if it’s pumpkin, apple or pecan! Want the recipes to some of my favorite desserts? Click on the links to find out my tried and true recipes for Pumpkin Pie and Apple Pie. I’ve posted recipes for Pecan Pie in the past, but pecans burn easily making getting the recipe right a bit finicky. I’m ready to try a new one. The link below connects to a recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

Happy baking, hon!

Thanksgiving Side Dish, Sweet Potatoes With Marshmallows

Image source: Home Made Interest
Image source: All Recipes

Thanksgiving is around the corner and that means recipes, recipes, recipes! My Sweet Potatoes With Marshmallows casserole is a family favorite, and the actual index card with the recipe is special to me because it was written by my Grandmother Ruth. It’s stained and yellowing and I keep it in a sandwich bag but, come to think of it, I should laminate it! For Thanksgiving, we prepare no less than three Sweet Potato With Marshmallow casseroles and, at the end of dinner and divvying “some to take home,” there might be about three quarters of one baking dish left over!

Happy holidays, hon!

Sweet Potato Casserole

Ingredients

  • 2 lb can sweet potatoes (light or no syrup preferred), drained
  • 1 (8 or 15 oz) can crushed pineapple, drained (either size works, depending on desired sweetness) 
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (can lower sugar quantities if desired)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 bag mini marshmallows (can use less or more of bag as desired)
  • nonstick spray or margarine or butter for greasing

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9 x 11 glass baking with non-stick spray, margarine or butter.
  2. With hand mixer, beat potatoes well. Add crushed pineapple to potatoes and mix.
  3. Separate egg and beat egg white until stiff. Set aside.
  4. Add yolk to potatoes/pineapple mixture and beat.
  5. Add brown and granulated sugars to mixture and beat.
  6. Fold egg whites into mixture.
  7. Pour mixture into greased baking dish. Dot the top with about half of the mini marshmallows.
  8. Bake for approx, 25 minutes and then dot the remaining marshmallows on top. Bake for about 15 more minutes. Remove from oven when marshmallows are lightly browned. Tip: Pay attention to marshmallows. They will puff in oven before settling. Add second half of marshmallows when first half is only slightly browned.)
  9. Total bake time is approx. 40 minutes.

Yield:  8

Prep Tip:  A day or two before the holiday, prepare casserole (steps 2-7) but do not top with marshmallows, and refrigerate. On Thanksgiving, remove prepared dish from fridge about an hour before baking. Bake following instructions to dot casserole with half of the marshmallows, bake partway, add remaining marshmallows, and finish baking.

Recipe in my Grandmother Ruth’s handwriting.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread on my hand built ceramic serving dish.

Have you heard of The Able Baker in Maplewood, NJ? It has the most delicious baked goods and the place I go to when I don’t have time to bake. Last week, I picked up a Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread and wondered why didn’t I think of that? This easy and delicious recipe can only be made better by adding chocolate!

Happy baking, hon.

CHOCOLATE CHIP PUMPKIN BREAD (OR MUFFINS)

Yield:  2 loaves

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree

3 1/2 cups flour (I used a combination of whole wheat and unbleached flour)

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground allspice

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2/3 cup water

1 cup chocolate chips, add more if desired

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Beat first 11 ingredients at low speed with an electric mixer for about 3 minutes or until well blended.  Add 2/3 cup water and beat until blended.  Stir in chocolate chips and pour batter into 2 greased and floured 9-by-5-inch loaf pans.  Or, add batter to muffin tins.  Bake for 1 1/4 hours for bread, 35 to 40 minutes for regular sized muffins, or 30 to 35 minutes for mini muffins.  Test centers with toothpicks and when they come out clean, they’re done.  Cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.

Note:  Bread may be well wrapped and kept frozen up to three months.

Roasted Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds

My co-teacher, Hannah, scooping and sharing the insides of a pumpkin.
Image soure: Joy Food Sunshine

I like roasted seeds and nuts (do I sound like a squirrel?), but have never tried sweet roasted pumpkin seeds. When we were scooping pumpkins and saving the seeds for our two preschool classes, my co-teacher Hannah said she loved the seeds with cinnamon. Mind blown! What planet am I living on? How did I not know about these? Hon, here’s a healthy, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo-friendly, kosher recipe from Joy Food Sunshine that I must try!

Happy carving, scooping and baking!

Roasted Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds

Tips Before Roasting Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds must dry completely before roasting. Remove the seeds from pumpkins and rinse thoroughly, discarding any stringy orange pieces. Drain seeds by lining a large baking pan with paper towels, spreading seeds evenly in a layer, and letting sit for 24 hours. At the 12 hour mark, change damp paper towels for dry ones, stir to air out pumpkin seeds.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups pumpkin seeds dried for at least 24 hours
  • 3 Tablespoons coconut oil or butter (or vegan butter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pur vanilla extract
  • 4 Tablespoons granulated sugar (or coconut sugar to make paleo)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Very lightly grease a large baking pan, set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Melt coconut oil or butter in a large microwave safe bowl or on the stovetop in a 4-quart pot.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
  5. Mix in pumpkin seeds until they are all evenly coated.
  6. Add dry ingredients to the pumpkin seeds and mix until all they are evenly coated.
  7. Spread pumpkin seeds on your prepared baking pan in single layer.
  8. Bake for 25-35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. They are done when they start to brown.
  9. To test for doneness: remove a few seeds from the pan and let sit on the counter to cool. If they harden up the seeds are done. If they remain soft, return to the oven, checking them after 5 minutes. Continue baking in 5 minute intervals until done.
  10. Once seeds are done, transfer them from the warm pan to another pan lined with parchment paper to let cool.

Yield: 3 cups

Store pumpkin seeds in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Farro Salad with Roasted Root Vegetables

Image source: David Malosh for Food & Wine.

One of my daughters loves to cook and another loves to bake. The third’s in college so she gets a pass until she lives on her own–lol! My son, also a self-declared chef, tells me about the dishes he puts together. When I requested he make dinner for hubby and me, he said, “When I come home, you cook!”

Morgan, the one who whips up delicious, healthy meals, introduced us to farro. I love its texture and taste and the way it forms a healthy base for an endless variety of additions. Mixing with roasted veggies are my favorite way to dress up this grain.

“Crispy roasted root vegetables like parsnips and celery root add an earthy, caramelized depth to this simple grain salad made with tender, chewy farro. Resist the urge to stir the vegetables during cooking to help the them develop the most color,” says Maria Sinskey for Food & Wine, whose recipe is shared here.

Farro Salad with Roasted Root Vegetables

Ingredients

  • 3 cups water 
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste 
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked pearled farro (about 9 1/4 ounces) 
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups) 
  • 3 medium parsnips, peeled, cores removed and discarded, and cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups) 
  • 1 small yellow onion, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 2 cups) 
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped peeled celery root (about 3/4-inch piece) 
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided 
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus parsley leaves, for garnish 
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, plus more to taste 
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste 

Directions

Step 1

Preheat oven to 450°F. Bring 3 cups water and 2 teaspoons salt to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high. Stir in farro. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until farro is tender and water is mostly absorbed, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat, and let stand, covered, 10 minutes.

Step 2

While farro cooks, toss together carrots, parsnips, onion, celery root, 1/4 cup oil, and 2 teaspoons salt on a rimmed baking sheet; spread in an even layer. Roast in preheated oven until vegetables are tender and lightly browned, 25 to 30 minutes.

Step 3

Drain any excess water from farro. Stir together farro, chopped parsley, vinegar, pepper, roasted vegetables and any residual oil from roasting pan, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Let stand at room temperature at least 15 minutes or up to 3 hours, or cover and refrigerate up to 3 days. If chilled, let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving.

Step 4

Just before serving, stir in remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and vinegar. Garnish with parsley leaves.

Tips

Farro and vegetables may be stored in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 3 days. Buy pearled farro for this recipe; it cooks more quickly than whole-grain.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Gluten-Free Women’s Bliss Bites by Aviva Romm

Women’s Bliss Bites, recipe by Aviva Romm.

These may be called “Women’s Bliss Bites,” but guys will enjoy them, too!

My niece (Shout out to the new mom!) wanted to try recipes from Hormone Intelligence: The Complete Guide to Calming Hormone Chaos and Restoring Your Body’s Natural Blueprint for Well-Being by Aviva Romm, MD. I looked up Dr. Romm’s website and I’m a fan. Why? She says, “Being a woman is not a diagnosis.” Love it!

These gluten-free, rich, chocolatey bites are a healthy way to satisfy a sweet tooth. Guess what I’ll be making more of?

Women’s Bliss Bites

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup dates, pitted
  • 2 (or so) Tablespoons almond butter
  • 1/4 cup dark cacao powder (dark unsweetened), plus 1 Tablespoon for dusting
  • 4 level Tablespoons maca powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1/4  cup coconut flakes, finely ground
  • optional, orange zest

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, grind walnuts until they are close to finely ground. Add dates and grind to from a thicker blend. Add in almond butter and mix until a dough forms. Tip:  A little extra almond butter may be needed to get the dough to form.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the 1/4 cup cacao powder, cardamom and cinnamon. Pour into food processor and blend.
  3. In a small bowl, prepare the remaining 1 Tablespoon of cacao powder, coconut flakes and orange zest.
  4. Remove blade from food processor, then form round balls using about 1 Tablespoon of “dough” per ball. Roll these in your hands, then roll in the extra cacao powder mixture. Tip:  If dough is still crumbly, add a small amount of warm water to the mixture. Alternately, wet hands to make rolling dough into balls easier.
  5. Place on a platter or into a glass storage container. These can be eaten right away or kept in the fridge for 3-4 days. 

Yield: Approximately 16.