Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats: August 2010

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Apple Bar Saga

Sometimes you have the best intentions for something, and then out of left field, something comes and ruins your plans.

That happened to me on Monday.

Let me start by saying we have two very sweet dogs. Duke, our black lab, whose always been the crazier of the two, loves to lick everything in sight, but is the first to cuddle and snuggle if given the chance. Kata, our golden retriever, is a bit older than Duke, but acts about 85. We call her Grandma, as she sometimes has a crotchety attitude, and would just rather be left alone. At the same time, she is very obedient and just an all around great dog.

Except for her sweet tooth.

I can now count two times where she has "stolen" something off the counter or stove. Way back when my husband and I were just dating and living in a one bedroom apartment she ate four frozen chicken breasts off the counter that we were thawing. You've got to give her credit though, she always carefully removes the plastic wrap covering it, because of course she knows she can't eat that.

So, when the little man and I came home from a SHORT walk to the post office and back (and by short, I mean 3 blocks), and I noticed plastic wrap on the kitchen floor, my heart dropped.

This is what I found:

Yep, she ate the whole pan. I will not even tell you how pissed I was. But, then I look in the corner and there she is hiding, cowering, eyes closed, just scared beyond belief. Needless, to say she knew what she did and was sent to spend the rest of the day in the laundry room.

But, after all that drama we did have a few pieces to eat and they were great! You need to make this recipe if you have a lot of apples to use up. You can easily cut these into bars and freeze half the pan, as they taste great even a month later.

But, keep your dogs away, if they like sweets.

Apple Bars
2 1/2 c. sifted flour
1 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1 c. Crisco
1 egg, separated
5 c. peeled, sliced apples
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 t. cinnamon
2/3 c. crushed corn flakes

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Cut in Crisco. Put egg in cup and beat. Add enough milk to make 2/3 cup. Add to flour mixture and mix just enough so dough shapes into 2 balls. May refrigerate if needed. Roll out on floured board. Transfer first layer to a 9x13 baking sheet. Cover with corn flakes, then apples, then sugar/cinnamon mixture.

Roll out other crust and place over apples. Pinch edges together. Beat egg white until stiff and brush over the crust. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Drizzle glaze on top (mix 1 c. powdered sugar with 2 T. lemon juice). Serves 16-20 and freezes well!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Friday Night Supper Club

How was everyone's weekend? Hopefully great?

My Friday night started out with Friday Night Supper Club - if you don't remember this is a group of girls I get together with a few times a year. We all used to work at the same company, and now this gives us a chance to catch up, since we all seem to be producing babies and our lives have gotten busy!

We met at Pam's house and it was grill out time!

I provided this:

Store bought (but deliciously good) Pumpkin Cream Cheese Whoopie Pies and an orzo pasta salad. I wasn't feeling the pasta salad once I arrived, but of course was feeling the whoopie pies.

Pam made delicious burgers on the grill with her homemade chipotle sauce. To-die-for! She said it was a combo of mayo, lemon juice, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, salt and pepper. Puree it all up and there you have it! I need to re-create this at home.

Erica brought these insanely good appetizers, and with her permission I'll be chatting about them in a few days. They deserve their own post!

All together now:

Great friends, beautiful weather, good food, can't beat it. Just wish I could see these girls everyday!

Tune in tomorrow for my Apple Bar recipe and the story behind them - there was DRAMA. Lets just say it involved one of our dogs, who spent the rest of the day in the laundry room.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pumpkin Butter

Sorry about the lack of posts lately. Usually my morning routine, is to have my post up and running no later than 9am! Well, that hasn't happened lately. A lot going on in our house!

Despite my lack of posts, I still have done some cooking. A few days ago I made a batch of homemade pumpkin butter. Fall is still on my mind - apples, football season coming, and now pumpkin.

I went all summer so far without making this, and I'm not sure why! Pumpkin seems to be the ugly step-child in the summer...

Homemade Pumpkin Butter
15 oz. can pumpkin puree
1/4 c. apple juice
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
3/4 t. pumpkin pie spice
3/4 t. cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a small crock pot and stir to combine. Cook on high for 1 hour. Then turn down to low and cook for an additional 3-4 hours, stirring every hour, until the mixture is reduced by a 1/3 and it is dark brown in color. Allow to cool, store in an airtight container and keep in the fridge.

Serve this with:
  • sliced apples

  • oatmeal

  • toast/bagels

  • vanilla ice cream

  • add to muffin or pancake batter

Speaking of fall coming (again), who is stoked about football season? Our beloved Iowa Hawkeyes are ranked pretty high in the pre-season polls, which always makes us a little nervous. We like to go in the underdog and then surprise everyone as the season goes on.

We are only a 30 minute drive from the stadium...I can hear the crowds now!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Homemade Applesauce

Fall is almost upon us, when I think of September I think of fall, although, it is usually still hot here!

It also means lots and lots of apples. Apple pie, applesauce, apple cider, whatever your little heart desires to do with that apple. I love all apples, all types, so I was very excited when my sister-in-law gave me two grocery sacks full of apples when I saw her last week.

She may, or may not have smuggled some from her city park.

I don't care where they came from because they are good! One is more of a golden delicious, while the other one is very sweet...not really sure what type it is. I used both in this applesauce over the weekend and it turned out great. We've already eaten through two batches, so I'll probably be making more today!

Homemade Applesauce (1 batch)
4-6 apples
1/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. water
1/2 t. cinnamon

Peel and dice apples, and put into a large pot. Add all ingredients and stir. Place on medium high heat to reach a low boil. Cook for 15-25 minutes, or until apples are tender.

Let cool, then mash with potato masher to your desired consistency. Keep in fridge for up to a week, or freeze for later eating!

Not only is this very simple and tasty, but it makes your house smell great! Forget those scented candles or air fresheners, these apples work even better.

Only two days left for voting for my Greek Yogurt Pancakes in the Stonyfield Yogurt Recipe Battle! Get a clickin'!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sunday Night Dinner

Another hot weekend...but there is some end in sight, lower humidity and highs only in the upper 70's mid-week!

Little man will enjoy that, as his hair tends to get unruly in this hot weather:) Or nappy as the husband calls it.

Even with it hot out yesterday, I still made a nice Sunday dinner that required the oven. It was worth the effort. Marinated baked chicken breasts, baked taters and oven roasted green beans. The chicken was put in my old standby of an Italian dressing marinade and bathed in the fridge all day. The taters were done ahead as well - pretty sure I've shared this recipe, but here it is again!

Baked Taters
4 large baking potatoes (peeled, boiled until tender)
3/4 c. milk
4 T. butter
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. parsley
1 t. pepper

Throw all ingredients into your Kitchen Aid Mixer and whip away, until all the lumps are gone and you have the right consistency. Spread in a greased casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, without being covered. This will give the top a crispy, crunchy crust.

These taters can also be made ahead and frozen for a later meal:)

Tomorrow I'll be sharing my homemade applesauce recipe so stay tuned! I made two batches this weekend and we've already eaten through one batch.

Last, but not least - don't forget to vote daily for my Greek Yogurt Pancakes in the Stonyfield Yogurt Recipe Battle! Last check I was in third place...

Have a ggggrrrrreeeeaaaaaatttttt Monday everyone! (That was my inner Tony the Tiger)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Vote for me in Stonyfield Yogurt Recipe Battle!

Hey guys! It's Friday!

If you didn't catch my late post yesterday afternoon, here it is....had a delicious lunch at the New Pioneer Co-op. Yum!

Now on to business...

I need your help!

I entered Family Fresh Cooking's Stonyfield Yogurt Recipe Battle, with my Greek Yogurt Pancakes. Trust me, they are delicious:)

But, I need your votes! You are allowed one submission, per 24 hours, so mark this page on your favorites and get a clickin'! Voting ends Wednesday, August 25th.

If I were to win, I'd receive $100 worth of Stonyfield coupons, plus a Stonyfield cooking kit. I buy their yogurt EVERY week, so those coupons would be great!!!
Thanks for voting and stay tuned for a homemade applesauce recipe!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

New Pioneer Food Co-op

I met my sister-in-law for lunch today at the New Pioneer Food Co-op in Iowa City. I have often bought groceries there, but have yet to sample their deli. Let me just say, I'll definitely be back!

Little man of course came along as well, and I'm pretty sure he thoroughly enjoyed himself! He played many games of peek-a-boo and "so big" with both of us while we were eating. He also had his first taste of tofu and gobbled it down, like he does with anything put in front of him.

We had some fresh fruit and marinated mozzarella balls and tomatoes for a side...then got out the big guns for our lunch. Turkey reuben and broccoli cheddar soup for me, and a tofu/veggie sandwich for my sister-in-law.

I said easy on the sauerkraut, as I'm always a little leery of it....but this sandwich was perfect, I could have probably even handled a little more!

There desserts are also to-die-for, but we both passed as lunch was beyond filling. So I settled for this on the ride home...

Perfect treat.

If you are in the area and haven't been to New Pioneer, I would TOTALLY recommend. Not only is everything organic and free of antibiotics, it is all made fresh daily - and you can taste the freshness. Yum.

Now we are home and I'm left with this.

Two grocery sacks full of apples (also from the sis). My plan is to make a big batch of applesauce and also freeze some slices for baking later on...and of course eat a few.

Fall is just around the corner and apple season will be upon us!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Ultimate Summer Sandwich

No, I am not talking about a burger (although, that is pretty great too).

It's the BLT. Perfect summer sandwich in my opinion. I don't eat them in the winter, and I'm not sure why, just seems like a summer thing? Kind of how I don't eat chili in the summer, only winter.

Certain foods have certain seasons you know...

Yes, BLT's are one of my favorite sandwiches, but I have to eat them alone. The husband doesn't feel like there is enough substance on them to qualify for a "sandwich". Whatever.

We had fresh garden tomatoes and crisp lettuce, along with some bacon I picked up, so it was definitely BLT time at our house this weekend.

Other variations to your BLT:
  • Add homemade guacamole to your sandwich for an even better taste, trust me it's good.

  • Use fresh basil, instead of lettuce.

  • Add garlic and other seasonings to your mayo, for a change-up.

  • Use turkey bacon for a healthier version.

Here is mine all ready to be devoured. This looks so good, I just might have another for lunch later today.

Here's a weird fact - even though I love BLT's I rarely order them out, because it seems like the toast is always cold by the time my plate gets to the table. I like warm toast!
Is there anything you eat at home, but never order at a restaurant?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Never Fail Pancake Batter

So I took a few days off and enjoyed a long birthday weekend. Nothing too exciting took place, but it was nice to not have to be anywhere, do anything, and just hang out. Finding a weekend in the summer without obligations is hard to come by!

Here is a beautiful bouquet of flowers from my in-laws. I never have fresh flowers around the house, so it is nice!

Yesterday morning, when the boys headed off to go fishing, I made breakfast for us at home. Expecting them to be home around noon, I figured they'd eat a late breakfast when they got back...but boys being boys, they didn't get home till 4pm. No food left for them!

Fresh cantaloupe and pancakes were on the menu:

This batter recipe I stole from my father in-law, whom I'm pretty sure stole from Betty Crocker, but it is the only one I use and I will probably never stray...wouldn't want to cheat on Betty.

I've also adapted this recipe for other pancake batters - Pumpkin Pie Pancakes and Greek Yogurt Pancakes, both equally as good!

Never Fail Pancake Batter
1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. baking soda
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
3 T. butter, melted
1 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt

Mix all ingredients together, adding the flour last. Stir until just combined, batter will be lumpy. Cook on griddle, flipping when golden brown.


Friday, August 13, 2010

A Day Off For Me

It's my birthday, so I'm taking the day off!
See you soon!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Two Guys, A Girl, and a Pizza Place

Remember that sitcom back in the 90's?

Well, it kind of resembled our house last night. Two guys = husband, little man. A girl = me. A pizza place = my kitchen.

I'm not sure why I started up the oven when the heat index was well above 100 degrees, but when a girl is craving pizza, there is just no stopping her.

I used Biz' pizza dough recipe. I love that you can just mix, cover and forget about it. None of that timed rising with some other yeast doughs.

Pizza Dough
2 c. flour (I used whole wheat)
1 c. warm water
1 t. salt
1 pkg yeast

Combine all with a wooden spoon in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.

I mixed mine up around noon, and just watched it ferment and rise on the counter till about 5:30pm when I decided to cook up the pizzas. Shorter or longer, I don't really think it matters.

With floured hands stretch the dough to desired pizza size. Place on baking sheet and bake 5 minutes without any toppings/sauce. I think this gives it a crisper texture. Then add all sauce/toppings and bake until melted.

For pizzas I like to keep the oven on a high heat (425-450 degrees).

Since the oven was already on and we were feeling dessert I also whipped up a quick batch of my flourless peanut butter bars.

Trust me, you'll never make peanut butter cookies with flour again. Who needs the mess of it?

Do you have a designated pizza night at your house?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Banana Crackers

Hey y'all!

It's Wednesday. Week is half over, which just brings us closer to the weekend. So far today, I've had a scrumptious bowl of oatmeal that I shared with the little man and we took our daily walk. Have to beat the heat!

I spent some time yesterday afternoon adding some new features to my blog. If you look on the right side of the page you'll notice a two new features. First a link to purchase a new book that I so desperately want to read - Women, Food and God. It was featured on Oprah yesterday and sounds very interesting!

Also, "My Favorites" section, where I have recommended some of my favorite cookbooks, along with a link to purchase them on Amazon. Trust me, these books will keep you entertained!

After, I got done re-organizing my page yesterday, I came across Angie's blog and she featured a banana cracker recipe. Who doesn't love bananas and who doesn't love crackers?

I whipped these up last night, while the little man tore through my magazine stack on the floor with avengeance. Not only is he walking, but he is destroying.

I also had to sort through this mess.

My husband's aunt gave us a set of 100 cookie cutters for a wedding gift. Last Christmas I finally figured out that they were color coordinated according to the holiday. It only took me 3 Christmas' to figure that out.

These turned out pretty good, although I will say I would call them a cracker/cookie. They landed somewhere in between. Great for kids and adults to snack on.

Banana Crackers
2 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. baking soda
6 T. unsweetened applesauce
1 banana, mashed
2 T. honey
2 T. water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine dry ingredients, then stir in applesauce. Add in banana, dough will be thick. Dissolve the honey into the water and add to the dough. Divide dough into two portions and on a floured surface roll out thinly. Using cookie cutters cut out various shapes. Lay on greased cookie sheet and prick with a fork a few times.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning once. Cook to medium brown and cool on a wire rack.

Maybe I sandwiched these between peanut butter and homemade strawberry jam. Genius.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ever had a kolache?

Yum, that is all I can say. I picked some of these up a few weeks ago at the farmer's market while visiting my parents.

Some people have never heard of a kolache, some people hate them, I love them. But only the prune variety.

I know, that sounds weird, right? The flavors range from cherry, blueberry, poppy seed, peach, and I pick prune? I don't even really like to eat prunes, but for some reason this is my favorite type of kolache.

For those not around any Czech or Slovak heritage, this is the definition of a kolache:

Kolache (also spelled kolace, kolach, or kolacky, from the Czech and Slovak plural koláče) is a type of pastry consisting of fillings ranging from fruits (including poppy seed, raspberry, and apricot) to cheeses and/or meats inside a bread roll. Originally only a sweet dessert from Central Europe, they have become popular in parts of the United States.

So now I'm on a mission to find the perfect kolache recipe. I want to master this sweet dessert.
Of course, I could easily Google kolache and find a million and one recipes, but I'd love to get one that's been passed down, tried and true, and full of mouthwatering goodness.
Please send if you have one!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Dessert Style Layered Fruit Dip

I stole this recipe from my sister, who brought this along to our family gathering this weekend. It has become one that we really like. But, who wouldn't? Cream cheese, marshmallow, chocolate, caramel...

Oh yeah, and the dippers you use are apples or pretzels. Such an easy and pretty dessert!

We had a long weekend, therefore this dessert was a welcome treat. Lot of family, lots of eating, lots of drinking, lots of everything.

I even got a few early birthday presents - this delicious cake. A new one I told my mom to make for me. We decided it kinda tasted like caramel corn?

And a cute dip bowl, spreader, and three dip mixes.

Un-pictured were my new Fit Flops! Have you heard of these? They are to-die-for comfortable. I completely recommend.

Now, on to the recipe:

Layered Dessert Style Fruit Dip
*I'm pretty sure my sister has another name for this, but Layered Dessert Style Fruit Dip is what I'm calling it*

1 block cream cheese, softened
1 small container marshmallow fluff
caramel topping
mini chocolate chips
Heath chocolate toffee bits

With an electric mixer, mix cream cheese and marshmallow fluff. Spread onto a large serving plate. Drizzle with caramel and sprinkle with chocolate chips and toffee bits. Chill for at least an hour or longer. Serve with sliced apples or pretzels.

This dessert dip will for sure be a HIT!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Fake Out Spaghetti & Meatballs

I've been meaning to make my first batch of meatballs for sometime now. Yes, I've never made a homemade meatball from scratch.

There must be something wrong with me.

When I saw this recipe on Em's Homecookedem's blog, I knew I had to try them. I mean she did say they were her mama's homemade Italian meatballs and the recipe was genius, so I figured they were good.

Aside from that, my sister-in-law gave me a huge spaghetti squash and this gave me a chance to bake that up. I've never had spaghetti squash and I was excited to use it in place of spaghetti noodles.

Verdict - delicious. I really like spaghetti squash and will be using it in other things for sure!

Oh, and the meatballs were divine.

Fake Out Spaghetti & Meatballs
adapted from this recipe

Spaghetti Squash - cut vertically, remove seeds. Place face down on a large baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake at 375 degrees for one hour. When cool to handle, turn over, shred the inside pulp with a fork and this will give you your "spaghetti noodles".

1 lb. ground turkey or ground beef (I used turkey)
1/4 c. parmesan cheese
1 egg
1/2 c. whole wheat Italian style breadcrumbs
2 T. minced garlic
2 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1/2 c. milk
1 t. oregano
2 t. parsley

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, form into 1 in. sized meatballs. Either bake on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or let simmer in spaghetti sauce for 40 minutes.

Well, I did both. I'm a little leery of letting raw meat simmer in I baked them first, then threw them in the pot of sauce and they simmered away for an hour while the spaghetti squash baked.

You need to try this dish, especially if you are doing that "no carb" thing (which I'm not!), it's a great filling meal, that leaves you satisfied.

So, guess what this weekend is for us? KOCH OLYMPICS!!!

What is that you say? Well, it is the annual gathering of my dad's side of the family. Two days of competitive, silly, weird games. Lots of drinking, lots of eating, and usually some blooper reels.

I'll be sure to bring back some pics!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Chicken & Green Chile Enchiladas

Yep, had Mexican two nights in a row and loved every minute of it. Minus pizza, this is the other food I could inhale many nights in a row.

I even made a big batch of my baja fresh salsa to go along with them. Some how yesterday I didn't get the memo about the farmer's market not I have ubber baked goods, salsas and dips to get rid of.

Thankfully, I gave a good sack full to our neighbor/babysitter, and I'm also taking a good chuck to my girlfriend today I am meeting for lunch. Her husband, along with their two young daughters recently lost EVERYTHING (house, car, belongings) to the flood of one of our local rivers.

It's devastating. I have a few boxes of clothes and other essentials to give her, and of course I'm sure they'll enjoy the home baked treats!

So, on to this meal. I'm pretty sure I've featured it before, but this time no work was involved as I made a batch of these up about a week ago and froze them into two containers. Two meals, no work last night = happy house.

Chicken & Green Chile Enchiladas
2 chicken breasts, cubed
1 can diced green chilies
1 small onion, diced
2 c. shredded cheddar
8 oz. sour cream
1 can low sodium cream of chicken soup

In a large skillet cook chicken breasts, onion and green chilies on medium high heat. Once chicken is cooked through and ingredients have come together, add in 1 c. of the shredded cheese. Spray two 8x8 casserole dishes or one 9x13 pan.

Mix together sour cream and soup. Spread some on the bottom of each pan. Take tortilla, fill with chicken mixture, roll and place seam side down in pan. Continue until all of the chicken mixture is used up. Spread remaining sour cream/soup mixture on top of enchiladas.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, adding cheese last 5 minutes to melt. Serve with additional sour cream, salsa, lettuce, etc.

The only disappointing thing about this meal is that there are no leftovers.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Coconut Macaroons

Another night, another thunderstorm...geesh! I wonder if sleep is hard to come by, with anyone living in the Midwest?

Last night we met up with some family for Mexican (nixed the park idea since it was so hot and humid), and of course ate way too much! I forgot to take some pics but I enjoyed a fried tortilla layered with garlic butter sauce, cheese, chicken, tomato and green onion. So good!

And of course chips and salsa by the gallon.

Little man enjoyed it all too - a little homemade applesauce brought by my sister-in-law, some salsa, tomatoes from my plate, a few french fries from his cousin's plate and plums brought by me.

What, you don't eat random things like that for a meal too?

I was also brought a ton of fresh frozen peaches from my father-in-law and some extra produce my husband's sister needed to get rid of (spaghetti squash, zucchini and cucumbers). Gotta love the abundance of summer produce!

So here's the new recipe I'm trying out for the farmer's market later today - coconut macaroons. I found the recipe in this magazine...

I'm all about dessert recipes that have 5 or less ingredients. Try this one!

Coconut Macaroons
2 1/2 c. flaked coconut
1/3 c. flour
1/8 t. salt
2/3 c. sweetened condensed milk
1 t. vanilla

In a small bowl combine the coconut, flour, and salt. Add milk and vanilla and mix well. Batter will be stiff. Drop by tablespoonfuls 1 in. apart onto a greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to cool on wire racks.

If you don't like coconut, sorry. Guess, I'll get ya at the next stop.