Thursday, October 16, 2014

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake

We're having unseasonably warm temps in New England the last few days.   I saw this recipe on Pinterest and despite that fact that it was going to heat up the house, I couldn't resist.  

Instead of boiling the brown sugar/butter mixture on the stove, I put both into the cake pan and into the oven while it preheated.   By time I'd mixed the batter ingredients and sliced the apples, it was ready to go.    I had 2 nice sized honeycrisp, and I sliced them about 1/4" thick and overlapped them in a pretty design. 

My cake baked in exactly 50 mins, and and some point I realized that I'd forgotten to grease or spray the sides of the pan.    I got lucky, I ran a knife around the edge and I only had minor sticking.  

I did not make the whipped topping, it was a fantastic cake without it.     Thank you to Alyssa at The Recipe Critic, this one is "I don't care if it's nearly 80 degrees out, I have to bake this cake" good.  

* Exported from MasterCook *

            Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake

  Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------  ------------  --------------------------------
     1/4           cup  butter
     2/3           cup  packed brown sugar
     1/2      teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  2             medium  apples
  1 1/3           cups  all-purpose flour
  1           teaspoon  baking powder
     1/2      teaspoon  ground cinnamon
     1/4      teaspoon  salt
  1                cup  granulated sugar
     1/2           cup  butter, softened
  2                     eggs
     1/2      teaspoon  vanilla
     1/4           cup  milk
Spray a nonstick 9" cake pan (square or circular) with cooking spray.   Add butter, brown sugar and 1/2t cinnamon to the pan.   Place pan in the oven while it preheats to 325º.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, 1/2t cinnamon and salt.    Cream butter and sugar together on medium speed.  Scrape down bowl, add eggs and vanilla.  Alternately add flour mixture and milk, beating until smooth.   

Peel and slice apples into 1/4" wedges.   Remove pan from oven and lay in apples in overlapping circles.  Spread batter evenly over the apple slices.    Bake 50 to 60 mins, until the cake tester comes out clean.   

Cool on a rack for 10 to 15 mins.   Run a knife around the edge of the pan.    Place serving plate upside down onto cake pan, and flip it over.    Leave the pan for a few seconds to let the cake release.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Cider Bacon Chicken

Fall is my favorite season.   Apple picking, cider, cozy sweaters, comfort food.  But this is New England, and today summer decided to make a comeback.    I had this meal on the menu and it turned out to be the perfect choice- it tasted like fall, but was quick and easy and didn't heat the house up.  

I buy thinly sliced chicken breasts and that saved me the trouble of pounding and plastic wrap.   I only had a 1/2 cup of chicken broth, so I upped the amount of cider to make up the difference.   I used minced dried onion and dried herbs, it's what I always have on hand.    For a side, I made couscous, replacing the recommended amount of water with cider, and finishing it with some thyme.  

This was a big winner here, even my picky kid ate it and asked for seconds.    Thank you Simply Scratch for this new family favorite!

* Exported from MasterCook *

                        Cider Bacon Chicken Dinner

5 thin sliced chicken breasts
                        Kosher Salt
                        Ground Black Pepper
  5            pieces   Bacon -- diced
 3T minced dried onion
 3/4 teaspoon  dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage leaves
  2        tablespoons  flour
2           cups  local apple cider
  1/2  cup  chicken broth (low sodium)

Cook diced bacon in 14" deep sided skillet on medium heat until crispy.   Remove from pan with slotted spoon and set aside.

Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper.  Cook in bacon drippings until both sides are golden brown and no longer pink inside (3 to 5 mins per side).  Add to plate with bacon and cover to keep warm.   

Add cider, minced onion, thyme and sage, deglazing the bottom of the pan with a whisk.   To the broth, add flour, whisk to combine and add to the skillet.   Cook for about 6 to 8 mins, until the liquids bubble and the mixture thickens.   Taste and add more salt and pepper as desired.

Return chicken to the skillet, tossing to coat with sauce.   Plate chicken, spoon sauce over top and the sprinkle with reserved bacon.   Garnish with some additional thyme if desired.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

Lasagna Rolls

This is very similar to a dish I made a while back.   I changed up some of the ingredients based on what I had on hand.   Measurements are estimated, I rarely measure shredded cheeses or sauce.  I used about 1/2 of a 26 oz jar.    Italian Herb Mix from Penzey's is my go to for this type of dish, you can certainly sub Italian seasoning or your favorite blend.   This also would be great with some browned ground beef or Italian sausage! 

A lot of the pictures I see out there show the majority of the roll uncovered by sauce.   I am always afraid of winding up with crunchy pasta that way.

I ended up making sure that all of the edges were going to be covered by the sauce, and the result was perfectly cooked lasagna rolls, but not as pretty to look at lasagna rolls  :) 

* Exported from MasterCook *

                              Lasagna Rolls

  Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------  ------------  --------------------------------
  9                     lasagna noodles -- cooked and drained
  16            ounces  ricotta cheese, part skim milk
  1              large  egg
8             ounces  mozzarella cheese -- divided
     1/4           cup  shredded parmesan cheese
 1       tablespoon  Italian Herb Mix -- divided
  2               cups  Ragú Old World Style Spaghetti Sauce -- traditional
  1         tablespoon  brown sugar

Boil noodles according to package directions, drain and let cool slightly.  Heat oven to 375.

Combine sauce, brown sugar and 1 1/2t Italian Herb Mix.  Add a layer of sauce to the bottom of your baking dish.

Combine ricotta, egg, 6oz mozzarella, parmesan, 1 1/2t Italian Herb mix in a bowl.    Lay out noodles, blot dry if necessary and spread a layer of cheese mixture on each.   Roll up and place into the baking dish.   

Pour the remaining sauce over the top of the rolls.   Top with remaining mozzarella cheese.   Bake for 30 mins covered, then uncover and bake 15 mins more.   Sprinkle with parsley and allow to sit for about 5 mins before serving.

Concord Grape Jelly

We took my son out over the weekend to shoot his bow, and my husband stumbled across a treasure trove of Concord grapes.   Luckily we had a little cooler, and he filled it up pretty quickly.

I spent a while picking through, taking out the leaves, sticks, and critters, and then scurried to find a recipe.     I ended up going with this one from Sure Jell/Kraft.    It calls for a LOT of sugar, but  a good portion of the grapes we picked seemed to be underripe, so I wanted to make sure the resulting jelly was edible.

It was getting late, so I decided that I was going to get the grapes as far as juice, and then I'd complete the jam when I had some more time.      I added them to a large stockpot along with the water, mashing them with a potato masher.     It didn't take long for them to give up their juice, but I had no cheesecloth or jelly bag to strain them through.    I ended up using a very fine mesh colander, which worked, and is a total pain to clean.      I let the juice cool to room temp and then stored the whole pot in the fridge.

After a run to the store the next morning for pectin (which was not on the aisle with the jelly as the clerk suggested), I reheated the juice through and followed the recipe from there.  

* Exported from MasterCook *

                      SURE.JELL® Concord Grape Jelly

  Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------  ------------  --------------------------------
 3 1/2 lb. fully ripe Concord or other loose-skinned grapes) -- (need 5 cups or 1 1/4 qt. juice)
  1 1/2           cups  water
  1                box  SURE-JELL Fruit Pectin
     1/2          tsp.  butter or margarine (used butter)
  7               cups  sugar -- measured into separate bowl

Start by preparing necessary equipment.    Fill canning kettle 1/2 full of water, place on stove and bring it to a simmer.      Sterilize jars and bands  (I run them through the dishwasher and leave them inside on the heated setting).    Add a small amount of hot water to a bowl and add the lids.   Leave them in the water until needed.

Pick over grapes, removing stems, leaves, etc.   Place in a large saucepan, crushing them thoroughly.   Add water and bring to a boil.     Reduce the heat, cover and let simmer about 10 minutes.  Stir occasionally.     Separate juice by using a jelly bag, cheesecloth or strainer,pressing gently.    Measure 5 cups (1 1/4qt) of juice into a large stockpot.

Add pectin and stir.   If desired, add a teaspoon of butter to keep the foaming down.    On high heat, stirring constantly, bring to a full rolling boil.     Stir in the sugar and return to a full boil.   Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly.    Take off the heat, and with a metal spoon, skim off foam.

Immediately ladle into jars, using funnel if desired.   Fill to 1/4" of the top.    Wipe the rims and threads well.    Cover with the flat lid and place the screw band on, turning until tight.   Using tongs, place into the canner.   If using a rack, elevate the rack, load it up and then lower it carefully into the water).    Make sure the tops of the jars are covered by at least 1 to 2".     Cover and bring the water to a gentle boil.    Process jars for 5 minutes.    Remove jars with tongs and place upright on a dish towel to cool.    Pinging and popping is normal.     Once jars are totally cool, press on the center of the lid with your finger, if it bounces, then the seal is not good and you must refrigerate or freeze that jar.


  "8 (1-cup) jars"