Apple Compote

As you know we went apple picking recently and I am just now getting around to posting the recipes that I made with those yummy apples! This compote is amazing over vanilla bean ice cream, fantastic over Belgian waffles, scrumptious over pancakes, or just divine on it's own.  In short it is G. O. O. D. Good!

6 apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 cup brown sugar packed
1/2 cup walnuts chopped
2 snack packages of raisins
hand full of red hots (cinnamon flavored candy)
2 tbs butter
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves

Place all ingredients in a crock pot and turn on low.  Go out do your christmas shopping, get a massage, have lunch with the girls, do what ever you like! When you get home 5 to 6 hrs later this is what you will have waiting for you.
Then when you serve up over vanilla bean ice cream you will have this...
You will be sooo happy when you eat this!

Steven celebrated his 19th Birthday in style this weekend!  We were able to pull off a GREAT surprise birthday party for him!! For my next few posts I don't have the pictures for each step like I normally do. I was trying to work as covertly as possible all week.
This cake is super easy and anyone can make it.  You can even use a box cake if you like.

1 Chocolate Cake baked in 9 in pans
1 batch butter cream frosting tinted black (or a tub of vanilla frosting and add the black food coloring, I said it was easy)
Halloween sprinkles
1 package Halloween Oreo's

In a food processor blend the cookies to make the "grave yard dirt".  I liked the orange filling ones better I think it has an ethereal look to the "dirt". 
Level the tops of your cakes so they will stack flat.  Spread a layer of frosting on top of one cake and sprinkle the Halloween sprinkles on top.  Place the second layer of cake on top and spread a layer of frosting on top.  Don't frost the sides.  Spread the "dirt" on the top of the cake.  Place the tombstone cookies and ghost cookies on top. Halloween Sugar Cookies  Spread the rest of the "dirt" around the bottom edge of the cake.  Viola you have a Spooktacular Cake!

French Onion Soup A true Classic!

With the days getting cooler and the nights are actually cold now, a glass of a rich red wine and a hot  cheesy soup just seem perfect for dinner!  I make this soup every fall and sometimes in late winter.  The rich beef stock and sweet onions and creamy cheese are just perfect!

4 sweet onions diced
1/2 stick of butter
2 tbs flour
salt and pepper
1 tbs fresh thyme or 2 tsp dried
2 bay leaves
1 cup red wine such as Cabernet or Merlot
4 cups Beef Stock
slices of stale french bread
slices of Swiss cheese

Melt the half stick of butter in a dutch oven and add the diced onions and a pinch of salt to help release the juices in the onions.  Cook for approx 30 min stirring every now and then.  Half way through the cooking add the 2 tbs flour and cook thoroughly through.  This will thicken the onions and ultimately the whole soup.  When done they will look like this.
Nice and caramelized! Add the cup of wine and bring to a boil for 5 min. Then add the beef stock, salt and pepper and thyme and bay leaves.
Cover and reduce to a simmer for 1 hr.  If you really want a great punch of flavor chill overnight and serve the next day. Just like spaghetti this soup taste better the next day after all the flavors have really blended together.
Toast the stale french bread slices in the oven.  They need to be nice and crisp so they do not turn to mush in the soup.  If you have chilled the soup over night place back on the stove and heat back up.
ladle the soup into oven proof bowls.  Float a slice of cheese on top and then layer the Swiss cheese so it drapes over both sides a bit.
Place the bowls on a cookie sheet and place under the broiler till the cheese is melted and bubbly!

Yum Yum Asparagus

Now anyone who knows me really well, knows I am not a fan of any green vegetable (especially such a pungent one).  Spinach is my only exception.  My Husband says of all the veggies to like you like the one most people hate.  Hee Hee that is me!  The boys love love asparagus so I make it quite often and I never taste it I just serve it.  I make it for them, for family, for guests, and I even have an asparagus appetizer that people love.  And I had never tasted ONE bite of any of them!!!  I know what you are thinking, how can a cook serve something that she has not tasted?  Well I make it the same way each time with rave reviews so it must be good! I have 3 ways I make it. This is my quick stove top version. 

1 bunch fresh or frozen asparagus
olive oil to drizzle
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 of one lemon

In a saute pan over med high heat drizzle olive oil and add asparagus.  Salt and pepper to taste and drizzle a bit more olive oil. Saute approx 3-5 min.
Add the juice of half the lemon and toss the rind in the pan.  The heat will help release some of the essential oils and raise the citrus flavor.  Cook about 1-2 min more and then serve immediately.
I actually had a bite of this one.  I still don't like it..........

Not your Mom's Chicken and Rice

First things first, I am glad to be back in the world of food blogging! After Two weeks of crazy, busy, crazy, no time to think. I have things back under control and am posting again, and having time to read my e-mails, and look at all your wonderful recipes! I missed all of this! Blogging although very time consuming is my personal little getaway and my way to reach out and enrich myself in the world. I love the community and the great friends that I have made.
Although my picture is not that great. White Rice is not exactly the most stunning of subjects, this dish really is a great modern twist on the classic Chicken and Rice.  The fresh flavors of orange marmalade and the hearty rich almond cream sauce really hold together well.

4 Skinless boneless chicken breasts
3tbs butter divided
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
3 tbs orange marmalade
1 tbs dijon mustard
1 small pinch red pepper flakes
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 cups cooked white rice

Toast Almonds in a pan over medium high heat till golden brown.
Salt and Pepper both sides of the chicken breast.  Melt 2 tbs of the butter and brown both sides of the chicken approx 5 min per side. (depending on the thickness of the chicken) Remove from pan and keep warm.
In the sauce pan bring the heavy cream, marmalade, mustard, salt and pepper and red pepper flakes to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
Add the chicken and the almonds to the pan and cook till heated through.  Plate the chicken on top of the cooked hot rice and serve. I also made Asparagus as an accompaniment.
This asparagus is shown with my Chicken and Apples. A recipe coming soon so make sure to check back!!!! I post on Monday's, Wednesday's, and Friday's!

Red Wine Pot Roast

Fall is  full on here in the Midwest. The days are cooling but warm in the sun.  The nights are crisp and cool and I wore a new sweater today!! Time for some comfort food and good wine!  I like to take classic meals that we all know and love and can make in our sleep.  Then I like to take a little twist and jazz them up or bring them into the 21st Century.  Now I know I am not the first person to throw a bottle of wine (give or take a bit) into a crock pot but I don't think it is done as much as the traditional cream of mushroom (which I happen to really like).  The day I made this was the day we were out apple picking and going on a picnic and having all sorts of fun.  I knew when we got home I was not going to want to make a big meal.  Crock Pots are not my first choice to cook in.  They do however have a place in a busy woman's schedule and I do use them every now and then.  More so in the fall.  It was nice to come home and have the main dish ready to serve and I only had to make the Scalloped Potatoes  Everyone DEVOURED the whole meal in a matter of only a few Ravenous minutes so I was glad that I had not slaved over a stove all day!

1 3lb pot roast or chuck roast
1 onion diced
3 celery stalks diced
3 carrots peeled and cut into large dice
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
to taste of each: salt, pepper, thyme, marjoram, onion and garlic powders
2 bay leaves
1/2 bottle of red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon

 Salt and pepper the roast.  In a dutch oven heat 1-2 tbs olive oil and sear the roast on all sides about 2 min each side.

 Then place in a crock pot and add all remaining ingredients.
Cook on low for 5-6 hrs or high for 2-3 hrs.  When meat is tender and can shred with a fork the meal is ready to serve!
Enjoy your hearty fall meal! Don't forget to serve with the Scalloped Potatoes


Scalloped Potatoes

Rich, hearty, cheesy, creamy, savory, delightful.... let's see what other adjectives can I use to describe this dish?  I tweaked this recipe a few years ago and it has been a show stopper each time I make it.  This was the best accompaniment to my Wine Pot Roast (post coming on Friday so check back) and the whole family was super happy with dinner! I first made this the way it was posted and it was all runny and kinda blah... I have since then cut back on the amount of milk I use and added more CHEESE!

1 1/2 lbs of russet potatoes sliced thin on a mandolin. (be careful I just got my bandage off a week later.)
3 tbs unsalted butter or more
salt and pepper
3/4 cup milk
2 bay leaves
1 cup shredded Dubliner cheese (you can use white cheddar also)
1/4 cup fresh Parmesan cheese
1-2 tbs balsamic vinegar

Spray a 1 or 2 qt casserole dish with fat free non stick spray and arrange a layer of sliced potatoes and salt and pepper. Dot with a few dabs of butter.
add a second layer of potatoes and 1/2 of the dubliner cheese, then a third layer and remaining cheese.
In a small sauce pan heat the milk and bay leaves until just before a boil.  Little bubbles will appear on the edges of the milk.
remove from heat an pour over potatoes and cheese.  I always make a little flower on top with extra potato slices.
bake at 375 for 40-50 min until potatoes are tender and cheese is all melted. Remove and then sprinkle the Parmesan cheese and put under the broiler for 3-4 min until golden brown and bubbly
Drizzle the balsamic vinegar on top and you have a great side dish ready to impress!

Champagne Cupcakes

Oohh did someone say Champagne and Cupcakes?!  Oh My Goodness! Two of my favorite things combined in one little package of happiness!!! When entertaining family that have not been over in 11 years it is time to celebrate and have a little fun!  Michelle celebrated her "29 again" birthday with us and this was the delicious little treat that I served for her Celebration!
I wish I could say that this was my original recipe but I have to give proper credit to Kystina Castella and her Crazy About Cupcakes cookbook.

For the Cupcakes:
2/3 cup butter at room temp
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 3/4 cups AP flour ( I wish I had used Cake Flour as the cupcakes were very dense and I think they would have been lighter if I had used Cake Flour. So use Cake Flour not AP)
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup champagne
6 large egg whites at room temp
For the Frosting:
3/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 sticks butter at room temp
3-6 tbs champagne
4 1/2 cups powderd sugar
3 tbs merguine powder

Pre heat oven to 350 and place liners in cupcake pan.  In a large bowl cream together the sugar and the butter till fluffy.

  Add the dry ingredients alternately with the champagne on low spead to med low spead til combined.

Oh and by the way you know my saying as long as you are cooking with wine, go ahead and have a glass!
In a large bowl beat the egg whites on high until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter and then fold in the remaing egg whites.  This will be hard to do as the batter is very dense.  I really think the Cake Flour would have made a big difference.  Fill the cupcake lines 2/3 full and bake at 350 for 20 min.
Cool on a rack to keep bottoms from getting soggy.
To make the Frosting:
Combine all ingredients in a mixer with the paddle attachment
Frost with a palate knife and tap the frosting while pulling up to form the peaks.  If you don't want this look you can still frost smoothly.  These were very very good and will make a great showy centerpiece to any event!
So as I said my sister in law Michelle was in town and we had tons of fun things planned for the weekend! A picnic was one of them, and it turned out the location was a surprise even to me.  As you know we have been in Kansas City for about 9 months now, we moved here from Central California.  As you can imagine I miss my wine!!!!!!! Let's not even talk about the weather........  We have been to a couple of local wineries here and were MAJORLY disappointed! Then after a morning of apple picking and pumpkin farms we were ready for our picnic.  On the way to a park that I knew of we spotted a sign that said Winery 4 miles this way.  What the heck? How bad can it be? Nothing could be worse than the elderberry and apple wine...... Four miles later we pull into this winery that looks every bit the same as a Artisan, Craft winery in Lodi, Cali.  Hmmmm, this looks better than the others here.... Let's keep going.  The parking lot was overfull and we had to park in the field.  Busy? Oh yes this winery was crazy busy! We waited about 30 min in line just to get to the tasting room. My hopes are rising as a crummy winery wouldn't be this busy would it? I was so pleasantly surprised when I took the first sip and it was palatable! Then they had 2 wines that I actually liked!!!! You can't grow traditional wine grapes out here in the Midwest, too hot and then too cold. So they grow grapes I had never heard of, Chambourcin, Norton, and here is the kicker...... Concord.  Concord grapes are for jelly and jam NOT wine!  The Chambourcin was really quite surprising though. The winery had beautiful grounds and we had our picnic here!
Ok on to the recipe!
1-2 1lb pork tenderloins
1/2 tsp of each: salt and pepper, ground ginger, onion powder, garlic powder
2-3 tbs dijon mustard
1 large onion bachee french loaf bread
1 round of brie cheese
2 tbs truffle aoli or regular mayonnaise

Rub the seasoning on both sides of the tenderloins
Spread the mustard on both sides of the tenderloins.
Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 40-50 min.  Take out of the oven and let rest and cool till almost room temp.  Slice the onion loaf in half long wise and spread butter on both sides and toast in the oven for a couple of min.
Slice the tenderloins in half long wise also and place on the bread.
Oh by the way grey meat is over cooked meat and yucky.  Pork is juicy and flavorful when it is still slightly pink. You wont get sick, so please stop overcooking your pork. Just a friendly reminder.
Trim the Brie round and slice and place on the pork.
Place back in the oven at 350 for 5 min until brie is all nice and melty!
Spread the aoli/mayo on both halves and place back together.  Wrap the sandwich in foil and then cling film/saran wrap very very tightly! Place something heavy like a brick or a heavy pot lid on top of the sandwich to compress it.
Once you are at your picnic location, or just when you are ready to serve, slice the sandwich and serve with fresh grapes and a nice dry light wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, if you will only drink red wine Pinot Noir would be great also.

Perfect picnic sandwich!

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