Monday, October 31, 2011

Apple Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Once I get into fall mode it is not stop baking for me! My first treat was an apple cake with cream cheese icing. I've actually made this cake a few times already, but haven't been able to get a picture of it. So, finally here it is! Evan literally had to make himself stop eating it the first time I made it! It's perfect of a light dessert, and even better for breakfast with a big cup of coffee. The cake is made with apple sauce, and since they are so delicious this time of year, I decided to make my own! It turned out perfect. 

Recipe adapted from Foodista.
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups apple sauce*
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

8 ounces light cream cheese, room temperature
5 cups confectioner sugar, sifted
1 tsp cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. 
In a medium sized bowl, sift  together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and nutmeg. 
In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together the oil and both kinds of sugar. Then add the eggs, vanilla and apple sauce. Gradually add in the flour mixture and milk and beat until smooth.
Grease the bottom of two 9 inch round cake pans and divide the batter among the two.
Bake for 22-25 minutes.
In a mixer, beat softened cream cheese with confectioner sugar until just incorporated.  Add vanilla and cinnamon and beat until smooth.
Cool and spread cream cheese frosting. Store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

Homemade Apple Sauce
4 large red apples (peeled, cored, and cut into chunks)
2 cinnamon sticks
A pinch of nutmeg and salt
1 tablespoon of brown sugar

  • Combine all ingredients in a pot and add about a half inch of water.
  • Cover and bring to a boil.
  • Remove cover and reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes. Apples will become very soft. Mash with a fork until you reach your desired consistency. 

Baked Apple Chips

I love apples. What I love more is the fact that you can find them year round. Since apple season is in full swing now, I've been trying to put them in anything and everything. We went to Whole Foods last Sunday and their produce section was lined with every apple variety you could imagine. So naturally I bought a ton of them. As we were checking out I saw a bag of baked apple chips and I thought these would probably be pretty easy to make...and I figured they would taste even better fresh. Boy was I right. They were DELISH. This is the perfect healthy treat, and plus they make your house (or apartment) smell amazing! :)

Apple Chips
  • 2 gala or granny smith apples
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Preheat oven to 225 degrees.
  • Don't worry about coring the apples, just slice them super thin and remove the seeds. (A mandolin would definitely be easier to slice the apples, but I didn't have one. Patience and a steady hand are key!)
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the apple slices on the sheet. 
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon, sugar, and salt.
  • Bake for about an hour until the apple slices are crisp. If they are still soft after an hour, continue baking for another 30 minutes to an hour. Depending on the thickness of each slice it may take a little longer. 

Jalapeno Cheddar Cheese Bread

I love bread. Scratch that, I love carbs. I am definitely not one of those girls that could ever go on a "no carb" diet. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. And I do. A BIG one. When I just happened to stumble across this recipe I couldn't stop thinking about it. As soon as I told Evan about it he was on board and begging me to make it. This bread was great, easy, and delicious just like all quick breads should be. It is very similar to cornbread and is delicious with a big bowl full of chili!
Recipe adapted from Pink Parsley:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (1 cup) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno, veined and seeded (If you use pickled jalapenos make sure you rinse them well.)
Preheat the oven to 375, and spray an 8x3 inch loaf pan.
Sift together the flour, salt, pepper, sugar, and baking powder in a medium bowl.  Add the cheese and gently toss and stir until it is evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
Whisk the milk, oil, egg, and jalapeno, in another bowl. Pour the milk mixture into the bowl with the flour mixture.  Gently mix with a spatula, only until the dry ingredients are just incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and place in the oven.  Bake until the top is golden-brown, and springs back when touched in the center, about 45-50 minutes.  Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and cool completely. 

Jalapeno Cheddar Cheese Sandwich Bread
This second recipe for Jalapeno Cheddar Bread is more of a sandwich bread and is perfect for making a delicious tomato sandwich. I used to eat these all the time, and I'll never make them again unless it is on this jalapeno cheddar bread! This one is a bit more time consuming, but totally worth it.
As far as the recipe goes, it is a pretty straight forward bread recipe.  I've never really baked bread before, but I suppose there is a first time for everything! The steps are pretty standard: mix, knead, rise, shape, proof, bake.  

Recipe adapted from Pink Parsley:
  • 3 3/4 cups (18 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the work surface
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup cold buttermilk**
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2-3 jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed, diced (If you use pickled jalapenos make sure you rinse them well.)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Adjust one oven rack to the lowest position, and another to the middle position.  Heat the oven to 200 degrees.  When it is preheated, maintain the temperature for 10 minutes, then turn off the oven.

Toss the jalapeno and cheddar with 1 Tablespoon of flour in a small bowl.

Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan.  Remove from heat and add the cold buttermilk and stir to combine. 

**If you don't have buttermilk on hand (which I never do) you can make your own. Pour 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a measuring cup. Add enough milk to bring the liquid up to one cup. Let it sit for about 5 minutes and use as needed.

Mix 3 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Add the buttermilk/water mixture, butter, honey, and yeast to a liquid measuring cup.  Turn the mixer on low, and add the liquid in a slow stream, increasing the speed of the mixer as you go to medium.  Continue mixing until the dough is smooth and satiny, stopping to scrape the dough from the hook as needed.  After about 2-3 minutes add the jalapeno-cheese mixture, and continue to knead about 10 minutes total, adding flour 1 Tablespoon at a time, as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to the sides of the bowl.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead to form a smooth ball, about 15 seconds.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, rubbing the dough around the bowl to coat with the oil.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place the bowl in the oven until the dough doubles in size, 50-60 minutes.

Turn out onto the floured surface and gently press the dough into a rectangle that is 1 inch thick and 9 inches long.  With the long side facing you, roll the dough firmly into a cylinder, pressing with your fingers as you roll to make sure the dough sticks to itself.  Turn the dough seam-side up and pinch it closed.

Place the dough seam-side down in a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan, and press it gently to make sure it touches all four sides of the pan.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm spot until the dough almost doubles in size, 20-30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place an empty baking pan on the lowest rack of the oven.  Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and pour  into the empty pan.  Set the loaf onto the middle rack, and bake until golden brown, about 40-50 minutes.

Remove the bread from the pan and cool to room temperature on a wire rack.  Slice and serve!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Falling into FUN!

There's nothing better than a season change. The colors, the cool air, and the FOOD! It's officially fall, my absolute favorite season of the year. I just love the smell of apples, cinnamon, pumpkins, and a warm and cozy fire. I spent days trying to find the perfect decorations for our little apartment, but it isn't official until we pick out the perfect pumpkins to carve. This year we went to Southern Belle Farm in McDonough. 

After carving my scary spider and Evan's goofy jack-o-lantern...our next task was pumpkin seeds! 

I'm not a big fan of pumpkin flavored desserts, so I decided to stick to the seeds. Some people like the seeds without the shells, but we kept the shells on. Evan likes them spicy so I found at great recipe at Elana's Pantry.

Spicy Pumpkin Seeds
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Place pumpkin seeds on foil lined baking sheet.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
Cool and serve.
Makes 1 cup of spicy pumpkin seeds

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Birthday Celebration!!

I can't believe how fast time flies! My best friend Rachel's little girl just turned 5! I can still remember being in the delivery room the day she was born.

Marley and I at the Deep Roots Festival in Milledgeville.

I've been making cake pops for a while now and I made some to celebrate Marley's birthday. Unfortunately I couldn't attend her party...but the cake pops made it there safe and sound!

The cake pops have funfetti and chocolate flavored cake with cream cheese icing. They are dipped in white chocolate and decorated with sprinkles. Click here to get the original recipe.