apple spice muffins

Why is everything exponentially cuter when small?  Kittens, turtles, children’s socks, mandarins, are all cute for one simple reason: they’re small.  Well, in an effort to cutesy things up around here, feast your eyes and hopefully taste buds on these cute little mini-muffins.  Despite their cute shape, these Apple Spice Muffins pack a punch of flavor with their cinnamon, nutmeg goodness.  I made these with some of the applesauce we canned last year (keep your eyes peeled, as this Saturday is Applesauce Canning Day again), so the apple pieces were a little extra chunky.  Soooo good.

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup pecans or walnuts (3 1/2 ounces), coarsely chopped

Topping

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Grease muffin pan.

Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together eggs and brown sugar in a large bowl until combined well, then add butter, a little at a time, whisking until mixture is creamy. Stir in applesauce, then fold in flour mixture until flour is just moistened. Stir in nuts and divide batter among muffin cups.

Make topping and bake:
Stir together all topping ingredients and sprinkle on top of muffins. Bake until muffins are puffed and golden, about 20 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes, then remove muffins from pan and cool slightly.

(From Epicurious.com)

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quiche

First recipe from my sister’s shower? Quiche.  With all the sugar we had, we tried to make sure we had some protein to keep our blood sugar from going through the roof.  Here’s the original recipe from Epicurious.com.  I just added a frozen box (small) of spinach (rinsed and wrung out), and chopped the cheese instead of shredding it.  It was wonderful!

Basic Pastry

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Large pinch sea salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut in small pieces
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons chilled water

Place the flour and the salt in the bowl of a food processor and process to mix. Cut the butter in chunks and add it to the flour. Process it, using pulses, until the butter is incorporated into the flour and the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal. With the food processor running, add the water and process briefly, using pulses, just until the pastry beings to hold together in large clumps. Turn the pastry out onto a floured work surface and gather it into a ball.

Quiche

  • One recipe for basic pastry
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream or crème fraîche
  • 1 cup milk (preferably whole)
  • 8 ounces gruyère, emmenthal, or other Swiss-type cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg – optional

Roll out the pastry to fit a 10-1/2 inch glass or metal pie plate (not removable bottom). Crimp the edges, poke the bottom with a fork or the tip of a sharp knife, and place the pastry in the freezer for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line the pastry with aluminum foil and pastry weights and bake in the bottom third of the oven until the pastry is golden at the edges, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the aluminum foil and pastry weights. Return the pastry to the oven to bake until the bottom is golden, an additional 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and reserve. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, and the milk until thoroughly blended. Season with the salt and pepper, then add the cheese and stir until it is blended, Turn the mixture into the pre-baked pastry, and spread out the cheese evenly over the bottom of the pastry. Sprinkle the top with nutmeg if you’ve used a Swiss-type cheese, and bake in the center of the oven until the filling is golden and puffed, and is completely baked through, about 30 minutes. To test for doneness, shake the quiche – if it is solid without a pool of uncooked filling in the center, it is done. You may also stick a sharp knife blade into the center of the filling and if it comes out clean, the quiche is baked through. Remove the quiche from the oven and serve immediately.

applesauce donut

Let me preface this by saying that doughnuts are not exactly my favorite thing.  They are often greasy, slimy, and leave a weird lipid-y feeling on the roof of your mouth.  But every so often you’ll find a light, crispy, fluffy doughnut that makes you remember why people love them in the first place.  Every year we go to Apple Hill (just a little past Placerville) in hopes of greedily chowing down on their sweet and spicy applesauce doughnuts.  They are unbelievable.  This year I couldn’t wait and searched for a recipe I could whip up at home.  Having never made doughnuts before, I was a little nervous with how they’d turn out.  The lesson I learned was to not be intimidated.  These are easy and amazing.  You HAVE to try them.

3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup smooth applesauce
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons shortening
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
Vegetable oil

Beat 1 1/3 cups of the flour and the remaining ingredients, except oil and cinnamon-sugar in large bowl, mixing until blended.  Stir in remaining flour.  Cover and refrigerate at least one hour until the dough stiffens. Heat oil in a large pot or deep fryer until it reaches 375 F. Divide dough in half.  Place half of the dough on a well-floured surface; gently roll in flour to coat.  Gently roll dough 3/4 inch thick.  Cut with a floured donut cutter (I bought mine at Ace Hardware for about a buck).  Repeat with the remaining dough.  Slide doughnuts into hot oil using a wide spatula.  Turn doughnuts as they rise to surface. Fry 1 to 1 1/2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Carefully remove from oil (do not prick surfaces); drain on paper towels. Sprinkle hot doughnuts with cinnamon-sugar. The key to perfect doughnuts is maintaining the oil temperature at 375 F.

Yields 18 doughnuts

(originally from newenglandrecipes.com, check it out)

cinnamon rolls copy

Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother’s house we go—-

My Grandmother makes wonderful cinnamon rolls.  Growing up, we’d spend a lot of time peering over the counter to watch her spread the butter and sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon all over these gooey rolls.  As the years went on, I sampled many cinnamon rolls, but none had the perfection that Grandmas’ offered.  Their true distinction was in the brown sugar/butter mixture that caramelizes on the bottom of the pan (which once you turn the rolls out onto a plate, becomes the most heavenly topping).  The dough itself gets popped into the bread machine and all you have to do is roll it out, spread some love all over it, let it rise, and bake.  Mmmmm….you just don’t even know until you try them.

3/4 C. Warm Water
2 T. Butter softened
2 Large Eggs
1 1/2 t. salt
2 T. Sugar
3 C. Bread Flour
2 1/4 tsp. dry yeast

1/2 C. butter, Softened
Cinnamon
Brown Sugar

Select the dough cycle on your bread machine.  Add the first set of ingredients and press start.  Once the cycle is completed (usually around an hour and a half), let rest for 5 min and then roll out the dough on a well floured surface until it is about 1.5 times the size of a 9×13 pan, or about 1/4″ thick.  Spread with butter until well coated.  Sprinkle GENEROUSLY with brown sugar (you should be able to see through to the dough/butter a little bit, but not much), and then lightly sprinkle with cinnamon (I usually just use the sprinkle side of the container).  Roll the dough lengthwise (so that it’s like a long snake) and cut 12 rolls.  Place cut side down in a buttered pan that’s been generously sprinkled with brown sugar.  Allow to rise for about an hour (or overnight in the fridge) and bake at 350 for about 20-25 min.  If you like icing, feel free to make some, but I think these babies are perfect as is.  Enjoy!

eggy basket copy

eggy basket2 copy

Remember, Remember the Fifth of November…

The words ring in my ears over the sizzle of the frying pan.  I always think of V for Vendetta whenever I have this.  If you haven’t seen the movie and are feeling out of the loop, here’s the youtube of the scene.  Egg in a basket, Rocky mountain toast, Egg in the hole, Toad in the hole, or whatever you want to call it— this breakfast treat is something that I more often find myself cooking for dinner alone than I do anything else.  There is something so wonderfully simple and often nostalgic about it, that it makes a long day seem just a little bit better (especially on a night when the husband is out and I’m cooking for one).

What you need:

Eggs, bread, butter,* frying pan, salt and pepper.

Heat the pan and butter over med-high heat until the butter is melted.  Meanwhile cut or tear a hole in the center of the bread just a little larger than the yolk of an egg.  Tilt the pan to spread the butter around evenly and place the bread in the pan.  Crack the egg and hovering very close to the bread, very gently drop the egg into the hole.  Let sizzle there for a minute or two, or until the bread is nicely toasted.  Carefully flip the bread/egg and repeat on the other side.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and eat up!

*Yes, REAL butter.  Although if you’ve just cooked up some bacon I’m sure the bacon fat will do wonderfully (side thought that I’m now drooling about).

biscuits

I think I made these once a month during a semester in college.  There’s just nothing like a good biscuit.  Enough said.

1/2 C.  Cold Butter
2 C. Flour
1 T. Baking Powder
1/2 t. salt
3/4 C. Milk

Pre-heat oven to 425F.  Mix flour, salt, and baking powder.  Cut butter with a fork or pastry cutter into the flour mixture until it resembles course meal.  Mix in Milk with a wooden spoon and then drop by the spoonful onto a greased cookie sheet fairly close together (so that they touch when they rise).  Bake for 20-25 min. or until golden brown.  (Courtesy of Williams Sonoma Baking)

By not rolling out the dough the biscuits stay tender and moist.

poached-egg1

Confession: I hate egg poachers.  I fell like they make it impossible to get it just right.  A perfectly poached egg needs to be warm throughout, the white must be all the way set, and the yolk a slightly thick, runny custard-like consistency.  It’s a specialty in our house and my husband and I have a constant competition going on to see who can make the best one.  Sure, they might not be quite as perfect looking, but I love them all the more for it.

To poach an egg:

Bring water in a saucepan just barely to a boil.  Don’t let it boil rapidly–if it does, just turn the temp. down until it’s simmering.  Then crack the egg and very, very slowly let it slide down into the water.  With a wooden spoon begin to flip the straying ends of the white back on the yolk.  Continue until cooked, about 2-3 min.  Then with a slotted spoon, or if you’re talented with the same wooden spoon, and lift the egg out of the water and drain any excess away.  Serve over toast, English muffin, etc.