Friday, October 21, 2016

Round Up: Cozy Comfort Food

It's all about comfort food these days! With the shorter days, longer nights and cooler temps, comfort food is what my family craves around this time of year. If you're feeling the same, here are 10 comforting recipes that we love. Check them out and maybe you'll find something comforting to make soon!

Smothered Chicken & Mushrooms

Creole seasoned chicken is lightly fried and blanketed in a savory mushroom and tomato sauce with bacon, mushrooms and garlic before slow cooking for a few hours. The result is a flavorful, hearty and comforting dish to keep you warm through the winter!

Healthier Tuna Noodle Casserole

Comforting, warm and pretty guilt free with egg noodles and a blend of vegetables, cream cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano and tuna, topped with buttery Parmesan breadcrumbs..

Creamy Turkey & Wild Rice Soup

A cream soup full of turkey, wild rice, onions, carrots and garlic was hearty and a great soup to welcome fall...

Guinness Meatloaf with Creamy Mushroom Gravy

Guinness Beer flavors a hearty meatloaf studded with carrots, onions and celery, topped with french fried onions and served with a creamy mushroom gravy for an amazing Guinness Meatloaf...

Classic Roast Chicken

I made this Classic Roast Chicken that's rubbed with a compound butter made with fresh garlic, thyme, paprika, coriander, salt, pepper and stuffed with lemon, shallots, and thyme. Fragrant, flavorful and simple...

(GF) Chicken Pot Pie

This pie is full of chunky chicken, sweet peas, carrot coins and a wonderful, luscious gravy beneath a flaky, buttery (and gluten free!) pie crust. A savory pie never tasted so good...

Drunken Chicken Parmigiana

Truly a comforting dish to me, seasoned chicken breasts are fried until golden brown before topping with a rich, flavorful tomato sauce and cheese. It's crunchy, cheesy, and definitely a great dish to serve with spaghetti...

Creamy French Onion Pot Roast

Chuck roast is seared before slow cooking in a blanket of creamy mushroom soup, onion seasoning, sauteed mushrooms and chicken stock for hours, resulting in a fork tender pot roast full of flavor...

Balsamic Beef Stew

This Balsamic Beef Stew is a slight twist on the classic in which a touch of balsamic vinegar is added just before serving for a nice and complex flavor...

Comforting Shepard's Pie

This Comforting Shepard's Pie is full of delicious, comforting ingredients that simmer in a rich, flavorful sauce before getting topped with creamy herbed mashed potatoes and baking up in casserole form. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Caramel Apple Crisp Pie

I've been having fun in the kitchen lately testing out pie recipes for the upcoming holidays. The most classic holiday pie at our house is definitely apple. It's been a favorite for the holidays since I was young and as much as I love the traditional apple pie, I wanted to give it a new twist. This Caramel Apple Crisp Pie combines two apple desserts in one! A solid apple pie is topped with a sweet crisp topping that has rich caramel to tie them together...

For this pie, feel free to use apples like Granny Smith, Jonagold, or Crispin which are great for pies. for this, I used a combination of Granny Smith and Jonagold. Together, they give a tart yet subtle sweetness, which is balanced out with the caramel sauce and brown sugar topping.

As for the caramel, you can certainly make your own... but I went the store bought route. Specifically, I used Dilettant Chocolate's Sea Salted Caramel dessert topping. (BTW, it's heavenly!) You can usually find the caramel sauce near the ice cream topping section of your grocery store.

The topping is a simple mix of four ingredients and that's really all you need for this simple pie. An extra drizzle of caramel sauce - plus ice cream if you want to go all the way - makes this simple pie that more extra special.

Caramel Apple Crisp Pie
original Joelen recipe

Pie crust dough (homemade or store bought)
1/4 cup caramel sauce (homemade or store bought) + more for serving

  • Apple Filling:
  • 5 large apples, cored, peeled & sliced
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • Crisp Topping:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 cup butter, softened

  • Preheat oven to 350 F (175 degree C).

Line a pie plate with your pie crust dough. 

In a medium size bowl, combine apples, flour, cinnamon, and lemon juice; toss until fully coated. Transfer mixture into your pie plate and spread evenly.

Drizzle caramel sauce over apples.

In another bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, oats, and butter. Spoon mixture evenly over apples.

Bake in preheated oven for about 45 minutes (apple mixture will bubble and topping will be golden brown).

Serve warm with more caramel drizzle for garnish and ice cream if you'd like!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

White Chocolate Cranberry Almond Bread Pudding

I'm loving this time of year and my oven is getting quite a work out! One of the most comforting desserts I love making is a good old bread pudding. This one is a bit on the fancier side - mini bagels are studded with dried cranberries and white chocolate chips before soaking up a sweet almond milk custard while baking...

Lately, I've been making some baby steps with swapping out various ingredients for healthier alternatives. One of the switches I've made includes using unsweetened almond milk in place of regular milk. I guess I went a bit overboard with a recent purchase - and came home with a warehouse amount of almond milk. That said, I needed to find more uses for almond milk and this recipe is one of them. Surprisingly,  I really like this version because the almond flavor really came through and complimented the other flavors I used.

Another thing you'll notice in this recipe is the us of mini bagels. I've been a fan of mini bagels in bread puddings because they hold up really well in the custard without turning into mush. Even better is how nicely it browns for a beautiful, crisp crust! But of course, feel free to use any bread of your choice - challah, sourdough and even french bread are some of the other breads I use.

Lastly, the sweet morsels of cranberries, almond slices and white chocolate chips really put this variation over the top. They add a pop of color and sweetness throughout, which ties the flavors so nicely! And if your sweet tooth is yearning for more, serve up a healthy serving with a drizzle of white chocolate sauce, usually found near the ice cream topping section of your grocery store.

White Chocolate Cranberry Almond Bread Pudding
recipe adapted from AllRecipes

1 (15oz) bag mini bagels (cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup almond slices
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups almond milk
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
white chocolate sauce (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.

Place cut up bagels in prepared pan. Sprinkle with cranberries, almond slices and white chocolate chips.

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, almond milk, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla, whisking to combine. Pour mixture over bagels in pan and allow bread to soak up mixture.

Bake in preheated oven for 55-60 minutes or untilthe top springs back when lightly tapped.

Serve with white chocolate sauce before serving.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Round Up: Meatball Mania

The fall temps are making me crave comfort foods! Meatballs are a fave comfort food in our house and I especially love how versatile they are. They aren't just for pasta and with so many seasonings out there, they are easy to pack with flavor too. Here's a round up of 10 meatballs recipes to check out!

These meatballs are tender and flavorful with a soft, creamy center of mozzarella cheese. Enjoy them as an appetizer on it's own or with your favorite pasta...

Filled with homemade meatballs, italian sausage and cheese, this recipe is sure to be a family favorite!

These are made with both ground beef and ground pork were packed with flavor from sun dried tomatoes, fresh basil, and garlic with a tender texture thanks to ricotta cheese.

I especially love the complexity of the broth because it's a unique flavor of rich beef, hints of cinnamon, ginger, star anise, clove, pepper, and even a touch of sweet and salty.

Large slices of pepperoni are topped with homemade meatballs, a zesty pizza sauce and provolone cheese all stuffed in a toasted french roll. 

Well, this version of spaghetti and meatballs is much more easier and will leave your kitchen in decent shape afterward.

Who can resist eating things on a stick? It's such a fun way to serve and eat food... and you have to love the fact there are no utensils involved! 

Making Swedish Meatballs at home is easier than you may think... and you'll save yourself some preservatives and money in the process.

What I really like about this soup is that it's hearty, flavorful and really hits the spot.

A lighter version of meatballs packed with fresh flavor!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Roasted Fall Vegetable Salad

The great thing about fall baking is being able to turn on the oven and warm the house with some amazing smells wafting from the kitchen. As much as I love baking sweets, I probably enjoy roasting savory items too. Roasted vegetables are especially wonderful and my favorite recipe as of late is for this Roasted Fall Vegetable Salad. The colorful blend of brussel sprouts, butternut squash, cranberries and toasted pecans is definitely beautiful on the table and even more delicious to eat!

I first made this dish as a vegetable side to accompany our Thanksgiving dinner last year. It was such a hit and a nice way to enjoy sweet and savory flavors together. This recipe is especially easy if you opt to use prepared vegetables in your market's produce area where brussel sprouts and butternut squash is already prepped and ready to use! Although it incorporates brown sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon, the sweetness is subtle and not overpowering. And above all, the roasted vegetables gives off a wonderful rich flavor all on its own...

Roasted Fall Salad
recipe adapted from Julia's Album

3 cups brussels sprouts, ends trimmed
3 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed into 1 inch cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups pecan halves, toasted
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Evenly divide brussel sprouts and butternut squash between the 2 baking sheets.

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, maple syrup, brown sugar and cinnamon. Drizzle mixture over sprouts and squash. 

Bake in preheated oven for 23-25 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer all sprouts and squash to large bowl.

Add pecans and cranberries, tossing to combine. Transfer to serving dish and serve hot.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Banana Toffee Snack Cake

I'm loving the fall season this year. I've been able to carve out some kitchen therapy time to work on long awaited recipes I had on the back burner. One of them included this for Banana Toffee Snack Cake. Using up my stash of ripe bananas in my freezer, this bread combines sweet banana, toffee bits and a caramel cream cheese frosting. It's perfect for a sweet snack after school or if you insist your family eats the bananas you buy...

One of my pet peeves at our house is buying a bunch of bananas per my family's request, only to realize at the end of the work week that no one has eaten any. When I ask my boys to grab a banana for a weekend snack, they scowl and complain that the bananas are just too ripe and mushy for them. As a result, it leaves me with a bunch that have nowhere else to go but my freezer. A shelf in my freezer had finally reached it's breaking point where I just needed to use up these bananas. Thankfully, my fall baking bug set in and I was happy to give these sweet bananas a home!

Banana Toffee Snack Cake
adapted from My Kitchen Craze

Banana Toffee Cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon caramel extract
1/2 cup toffee bits

Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 package (8oz) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon caramel sauce or caramel ice cream topping

1/2 cup toffee bits

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar on medium speed. Add eggs one at a time until incorporated. Add bananas and extracts. 

Switch the mixer to low speed and slowly add the flour mixture to the stand mixer bowl until incorporated. Remove from stand mixer and stir in toffee bits by hand.

Transfer batter to prepared baking pan and spread evenly. 

Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake completed on a wire rack.

While cake is cooling, prepare the frosting.

In a bowl of a stand mixer, cream the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar and caramel sauce. Mix until fully incorporated and frost cake as desired.

Garnish frosted cake with toffee bits before cutting and serving.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Round Up: Applicious!


Shake up your favorite vodka or even apple bourbon with spiced apple cider and ice for an elevated cocktail for the season...

Honeycrisp apples are tossed with brown sugar, cinnamon and a touch of vanilla and slow cooked in a sous vide until tender to create a perfectly seasonal filling for a galette drenched in buttery caramel...

These apple fritters are chockful of apples in a sweet batter that's fried and finished off with a simple dusting of cinnamon sugar or better yet, a maple glaze...

Fresh apples are seasoned with sugar and cinnamon, then topped with a walnut and brown sugar crumb topping before baking...

So you have sweet apples and a slightly sweet cornbread... 
why wouldn't they work well together?

Pockets of buttery dough are filled with chopped apples that have been seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger, then baked until golden brown.

Sliced apples are sweetened and baked with a crumbly flour, butter, and egg topping that's seasoned with cinnamon.

Who knew making this was as simple as combining butternut squash puree, apple slices, chicken broth and some aromatics, then giving it all a good whiz with an immersion blender?...

Sliced apples are tossed with vanilla and sugar and topped with a blanket of flour, butter, cinnamon and sugar before baking up to a bubbly goodness. To put it over the top, a healthy scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and a drizzle of buttery sweet caramel seals the deal...

It's a little sweet, a little savory and the glaze does something magical to plain old chicken...
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