Glazed Cinnamon Sugar Apple Fritter Bread

I do not think that this needs a hefty introduction.  I mean, heck, entire candle lines were built around the scent that will come from your oven…

The above being said, this will make your family happy and your neighbor’s jealous on the smell alone.  Really, what says comfort and Fall more than apples, cinnamon and brown sugar?  Exactly.

So, on your next breezy, crisp and possibly rainy day, bake up a batch of this apple bread and take in the praises from your loved ones. xoxo

The Starting Lineup

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
    2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    2/3 cup granulated sugar
    1/2 cup butter, unsalted, softened
    2 eggs 
    1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 3/4 tsp baking powder
    1/2 cup milk
    2 apples, peeled and chopped , mixed with another 2 Tbsp granulated sugar, 1 Tbsp brown sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon *I used both green and red apples, but feel free to use what you prefer.

Glaze Topping

  • 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
    1-3 Tbsp of milk, depending on thickness of glaze desired

*Chopped walnuts or pecans, optional and encouraged!

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray roughly a 9×5 loaf pan with nonstick spray.  Prepare your peeled and chopped apples tossed in the cinnamon-sugar according to the above listed ingredients (2T/1T/2t).

In a small bowl, mix together the 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 2 tsp cinnamon.  Set aside.

In a large bowl (or a KitchenAide mixer), beat the granulated sugar and softened butter together until creamy with an electric mixer.  Next beat in the eggs, one by one, followed by the vanilla extract.

Next, whisk together the flour and baking powder and add in to the creamed butter and stir will well combined.  Finally, mix in the milk till the batter reaches a smooth consistency.

To your prepared loaf pan: pour 1/2 of the batter to the base of the pan, followed by 1/2 of your spiced and chopped apples and lastly, 1/2 of the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.

REPEAT with the remaining half of ingredients.  With the tip of a butter knife, insert straight down into loaf pan, without scraping the bottom, and give a slight swirl throughout. *This will not only make it “pretty” but will incorporate the flavors throughout.

Place the pan into your preheated oven for at least 60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  *In one of my oven’s, this needed to bake for closer to 80 minutes before toothpick was clean, FYI.

Allow to sit out for about 20 minutes, transfer to a serving platter, then drizzle the prepared glaze overtop!

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Pan Seared Salmon with Sun Dried Tomato Bacon Cream Sauce

I know this is hard to believe with a recipe title as such, but this meal took less than 30 minutes to prepare and have on the table.  Yes, I tell no tale, less than a half of an hour.

What’s also great about this quick, and arguably almost healthy meal, is that since it’s so quick to cook up, it can be in your weeknight dinner rotation.  Plus, since it’s flavors are so “high-end”, it is also a no-hassle recipe for a dinner party or perhaps even an at home date with your loved one.  *One extra thing, my five year old son ate this up TWICE and even proclaimed, “I just love this stuff”.  Again, I tell no tales…

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 1/2 lbs salmon fillets
  • 3 strips bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4oz sun dried tomatoes in oil, drained, sliced (Plus 2 Tbsp of the oil)
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika (regular will work as well)
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup half & half
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup vegetable (or chicken) stock
  • Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • Fresh basil, torn (garnish)
  • Parmesan Cheese, shredded (garnish)
  • Penne pasta, for serving

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Let the Salmon come to room temperature for 15 minutes. Gather all of the ingredients and bring a large stockpot of salted water to a boil (for the pasta) while you begin to sauté the diced bacon in a large non-stick skillet.  Remove the rendered, slightly crisped bacon to a paper towel lined dish and set aside.  Also (if needed) drain all but 2 Tbsp of the bacon grease.  *When the stockpot of water is boiling, add in the penne pasta and cook to the package directions.  Drain and set aside till plating.

Bring the skillet with the bacon grease to medium heat and sear the salmon fillets for 2-3 minutes on each side.  Set aside.

To that same skillet, add in the onion, garlic, sun dried tomatoes + oil, paprika, Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper.  Sauté together for about 2 minutes.

Add in the vegetable/or chicken stock over to deglaze the pan and let simmer for a couple minutes.  Pour in the half & half along with the 1/4 cup parmesan and stir together, salt & pepper to taste.  Add the seared salmon back into the creamy, fragrant sauce to bring back up to temp.

Serve this delightful dinner individually plated or family style…Coat the cooked penne in the creamy sauce, place the salmon overtop and sprinkle the freshly torn basil, parmesan and crisped bacon overtop!  Enjoy!!

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Texas Style Jalapeno Sausage Kolaches

If you live in the great state of Texas, you can now forgo your local (albeit delish) donut shop drive-thru and make your own southern state staple!

Now yes, I am quite aware that these are also referred to as klobasnek’s/klobasniky’s and were brought to our beautiful USA from equally wonderful Czech immigrants.   I am also grateful that once they settled here, they turned the traditionally sweet pastry into a savory one…and eventually we added that kick of jalapeno!

Lastly, friends, let’s not confuse these with the so-so, flavorless aspects of a “pig-in-a-blanket”…oh no, no, noooo.  No matter where I have purchased one: many a donut shop, a gas station, a quaint mom & pop restaurant or even in West, Texas (THE self-proclaimed “Kolache Capitol” of the state) they are so much more!  The dough is baked with the most pillowy interior, the sausages are just that..sausage..no Oscar Myer hot dogs here and then a layer of gooey cheese and slightly spicy, pickled jalapenos.  Get.In.My.Mouth.  THIS is the (my) breakfast of champions!

*Feel free to omit the jalapenos for your little ones.  I usually make my batch half & half!

** Line your baking sheets with foil, parchment paper or a silpat sheet.  The cheese will inevitably ooze some of its way out and this will help with clean-up! 🙂

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 pckg highly active yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups  AP flour
  • 1 pckg of Lil Smokies sausages
  • Cheddar or American cheese slices, cut in half
  • Jalapeno slices, pickled 
  • 1 egg + splash water, beaten

    I like to prepare the dough the night before we’ll  be enjoying these for breakfast.

    So we’ll start this by mixing the yeast and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.

    Meanwhile, melt the butter with the milk in a small pot.  Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, to the slightly cooled milk, careful not to scramble.  Add this milk mixture to the yeast.  Add in the flour and salt.  Mix it together with a dough hook until it forms a ball. Put this mixture into a large greased bowl and let it rise, covered, for an hour in a warm spot.  Finally, place in the refrigerator, still covered, overnight.

    Rise and shine!!!   The next morning, set the dough out on the counter for at least 30 minutes.  Once it is no longer cold to the touch, turn it out onto a well floured countertop and roll the dough out (using more flour if necessary) to about 1/8 inch thick.  Cut into 14 equal pieces (I use my pizza cutter or bench scraper).  Lay a few jalapeno slices down the center lengthwise of each rectangular piece of dough and then a thin slice of your preferred cheese.  Lay 2 of the sausages down the center.  Fold the sides of the dough over the filling (you may have to press the dough out a bit with your fingers..it’s easy, really).  Place them seam side down on a sheet pan. Lay additional jalapeno slices on top to show which Kolaches are “spicy”.  Let them rise in a warm spot, covered loosely with a tea-towel for 30-45 minutes.

    Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk the egg with some water and brush the tops of each kolache with the egg wash. Bake them for about 20-25 minutes or until the dough is done all the way through and the tops are browned.  *My previous oven’s temperature was always off and this took more like 45 minutes, so just watch for the golden brown hue/toothpic test if needed. 

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Brown Sugar Oatmeal Pie

This longtime recipe, Brown Sugar Oatmeal Pie (also known as Amish Oatmeal Pie), is quite similar to everyone’s favorite, the Pecan Pie.  As a matter of fact, this dessert has often been referred to as “Poor Man’s Pecan Pie” since the famed nut can run up your grocery bill, but oats are a fairly inexpensive item.

There are several family variations of this classic mid-western dessert, but I happily bring you mine.  The sugars, cinnamon and vanilla mixed with the eggs and milk form almost a custard that when baked lets the rolled oats caramelize and create an almost crème brulee style crunch on top.  I typically serve it warm with a big scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, but I have to tell you…it has been known to be quite the breakfast treat, better than a donut, right?? 😉

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 store-bought pie crust, unbaked
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 Tbsp butter, unsalted, softened
  • Vanill ice cream (optional for serving)

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and pull out your pie crust (if frozen) or line your pie dish with the refrigerated unbaked pie crust dough.

In a large bowl, add in the 3 eggs and beat together.  To that same bowl, whisk in both the brown and granulated sugar, oats, milk, vanilla, salt, cinnamon and butter.  Stir till completely combined.  *The mixture may seem a bit “loose”… that’s ok!

Simply pour this mixture straight into the unbaked pie shell and transfer to the oven.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until pie is baked through..it won’t jiggle too much.

Let the pie cool for 10 minutes before cutting into and serve with vanilla ice cream…or even for breakfast at that!  Enjoy! 🙂

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Baked Spaghetti Pie

Back when we lived in hot and sunny Arizona, we would frequent a certain Italian food joint that was close to our home.  However, it wasn’t the close proximity that made us end up there, it was my husband’s love for their Baked Spaghetti that brought us.

Fast forward years and years and he still spoke of it…so I began to give it a whirl!  With much success, I give you my version which in using a spring form pan, gives many ooh’s & ah’s at dinnertime!  Looks quite impressive for such an easy recipe!

*If you do not have a spring-form, this recipe works just as well in a casserole dish or deep dish pie pan! 🙂

**Feel free to add in/change ingredients to suit your tastes and what you may have in your pantry and fridge!  I.e. Italian sausage, mushrooms, bell peppers, different cheeses, maybe no meat at all!

The Starting Lineup

  • 16oz spaghetti noodles (boiled 8-9 minutes/drained)
  • 24-32oz jar marinara sauce
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 container ricotta cheese
  • 2-3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning blend
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, shredded/grated
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh basil, torn (optional garnish)

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.  Bring a stock pot of salted water to a boil (for the noodles) while you have a large skillet browning the ground beef with the chopped onions, minced garlic and olive oil.  *Feel free to add a pinch of salt and Italian seasonings of your choice if desired.

Once the noodles have finished (slightly under cook them at about 8-9 minutes, as they’ll finish in the oven), drain and toss in a large bowl with the beaten eggs, parmesan cheese and teaspoon of Italian seasoning.  Set aside.

As the ground beef becomes browned, pour in the marinara sauce of your choosing and stir together.

Now I used a lightly greased 10″ Spring-form pan for this (what you would typically make a cheesecake in), however, you can also use a deep dish pie tin, a 2-quart casserole dish, etc.  Just make sure to spray with a bit of non-stick.  **With the spring-form pan, I wrapped the bottom in foil just to ensure no leakage, which I didn’t have anyway.

First layer in the egg coated noodles and then top with dollops of the ricotta cheese.  Pour the meaty red sauce overtop, finally topping with the shredded mozzarella cheese.   Place your prepared spaghetti pie, covered, into the oven for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil cover and let bake another 10 minutes.

Once finished baking allow to rest for a good 5 minutes before slicing into.  If desired, top with a bit more parmesan cheese and freshly torn basil.  Enjoy!

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Seared Filet with Roasted Butternut Squash & Blue Cheese Ravioli

My husband and I do not get a lot of “date nights” as we have two young boys, rarely a babysitter and he has the craziest schedule working for the railroad.  No set schedule actually.  All that combined leads me to craving fancy-dressed, wine-filled nights out even more!  That being said, I knew I could do it!  Not the literally leaving my house to enjoy a quiet kid free atmosphere, but create that upscale dining experience here at home!

I already knew I could make a fantastic steak, so I wanted to try my hand at homemade pasta.  Like REAL homemade pasta, no attachment to my Kitchen-Aide or anything.  So out came my flour coated rolling pin and I finally attacked the somewhat scary mound of welled flour and eggs.  You know what?  It wasn’t that hard.   I’ve been scared all these years for nothing!  Now, if I’m making a crockpot meal asking for the filled pasta, then frozen is fine, but for this meal all the slight extra work was sooooo worth it!!

So please, next time you can’t get away, or maybe your budget is a bit tight, please give this a whirl!

The Starting Lineup

Dough

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
    3 eggs
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Filling

  • 1 small butternut squash
    2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
    1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon butter
    1 tablespoon olive oil 
    5-6 sage leaves, minced

Protein (optional)

  • (2-4) Filet mignon or Ribeye Steaks
  • Fresh ground black pepper and kosher salt
  • 2 vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick), softened

 

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Roasted butternut squash and blue cheese filling!

 

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To begin…..

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Next, (this is a great tip!) prick your butternut squash with a fork all over.  Cut off the ends of the squash and place on a plate in your microwave for 4 minutes (if you don’t, this vegetable is extremely hard to cut).  Using a vegetable peeler, remove the skin and then cut in half length-wise.  Discard of the seeds and then cut into rough cubes.  Place on a baking sheet drizzled with olive oil, salt & pepper and place in the oven for 30 minutes until fork tender.

Meanwhile…..

Mound the flour on a clean work surface and make a well with a fork in the center, creating almost a “volcano” in appearance.  In the well, crack the eggs and add in the salt and oil.  Using your fork, slightly beat together while gathering a bit of flour at a time until it forms a dough ball.

Using your hands, start needing the dough until it forms a perfectly smooth ball with a shiny appearance (10 minutes).  Add more flour if it seems sticky or a tbsp. at a time of water if it feels too dry.  Wrap your dough ball with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 20-30 minutes.

Now that your butternut squash is roasted, transfer to a large bowl along with the blue cheese crumbles and the salt & pepper.  Mash together with a fork to your desired consistency. Cover and set aside.

With your dough ball, unwrap pasta and cut into four sections. You will work with one section at a time. Wrap the remaining three up in plastic in the mean time. Flour your work surface liberally. Roll out dough with a floured rolling pin, working from the middle and rolling out. Try to get the thinnest and longest piece of dough you can. Keep rotating and turning the dough to prevent sticking. Once your dough is rolled very thin, place a small amounts of the filling {about a teaspoon} onto the dough about 1 1/2-2 inches apart. Fold the top of the dough over the filling. Press the top piece of dough over and around the filling to remove any air bubbles. Now using either a ravioli stamp, pastry cutter or a pizza cutter, cut into perfect squares {you will need to crimp the edges with a fork if using a pizza cutter}. Place on a floured tray and cover with a tea towel as you make these. Form any leftover dough into a ball and place in the plastic wrap to rest. Continue this pattern until all the raviolis are filled and cut out.

To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Drop in your raviolis (4-5 at a time) and stir gently. Raviolis will be finished cooking once they float to the top. Drain.  Once finished add to a warm sauté pan of melted butter, oil and sage that is slightly crisped.  Toss gently to coat.

Now you can eat these delish ravioli’s as is or pair with a great steak!  If you choose the steak route, here is my favorite way..

Set the steak out of the fridge to come to room temp for 20-30 minutes {I did so while I’m preparing the ravioli’s} and heat oven to 400 degrees, rub the steak all over with oil and coat in freshly ground pepper and kosher salt.  Heat your cast iron pan on med-high heat till about smoking.  Add in the butter and then the steaks, let cook (do NOT move) for 4 minutes on each side.  Transfer the skillet with the seared steaks to the oven and let cook for 5 minutes (for medium-rare).  Remove the steaks to a platter and cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  {Here is where I cooked and sautéed the ravioli’s.}  ***Make sure you have a well ventilated kitchen as cast irons smoke something crazy.  You can absolutely grill your meat too if preferred.

So, whether you decide to make this a vegetarian inspired meal or are a true carnivore like myself, you will not be disappointed!  Serve with a great red and you have a true 5-star restaurant meal!  Enjoy!!

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Loose Meat Philly Sandwiches

Philly sandwiches are delicious, plain and simple.  Trying to find an authentic Philly or even an unauthentic one for that matter can prove challenging.  Now my version here obviously falls into the “unauthentic” grouping, but it still carries that fantastic ooey-gooey, beefy, cheesy flavor throughout AND if you’re feeling old-school, than feel free to top with a dollop of Cheez-Whiz!  Now THAT up’s the legit’ness! 😉

*Plus, it’s much, much cheaper and easier than using rib-eye steak and can spread out for a family dinner or gathering!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1lb ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 8oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp ketchup
  • Pinch each of kosher salt and black pepper
  • 8oz package of provolone cheese slices
  • 8 pack of hamburger buns/rolls
  • Cheez-Whiz (optional)

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In a large (cast-iron preferably) skillet, cook your ground beef until a deep brown crust occurs.  Next, you will carefully break apart, not too much to wear it crumbles, but is in rather larger chunks.  Again, cook these pieces to another deep brown crust.  Transfer the beef to a medium size bowl and set aside.

To the same skillet you cooked your beef in (you can leave most if not all of the grease), add in the butter along with the chopped, diced and sliced onions, bell peppers and mushrooms.  Let these veggies sit and brown for about 2 minutes, stir and let brown another 2 minutes.

Add your cooked ground beef back into the pan with the sautéed vegetables.

Meanwhile,  in the same bowl your cooked beef was in, pour in the beef broth and cornstarch and whisk together.  Pour this mixture into the skillet along with the Worcestershire, ketchup, and the salt & pepper.  Stir together and simmer for 5-7 minutes (liquids start to dissipate).

Next, cover the entire top of the beef mixture with the provolone slices.  Allow to sit for about 1-2 minutes, until cheese looks “melty” and the gently and thoroughly stir all together.  The cheese will help keep the loose beef and veggies together on your rolls…and be oh so gooey!!

Finally, I like to toast my rolls or buns just a bit and using a slotted spoon (please use a slotted spoon or else you’ll be eating your sandwich with a fork..which is ok too) and scoop a hefty amount onto the bottom bun.  Finish it off with the crusty top half and a napkin! 😉  ..maybe some seasoned French fries and dipping sauce as well.  Enjoy!

Loose Meat Philly Sandwiches

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