Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Slow-Cooker Apple Butter

This recipe is from The New Southern Garden Cookbook. It's so easy (other than peeling all the apples) and can be made overnight. You'll wake up to the delicious smell of spiced apples permeating your kitchen!
5 1/2 pounds apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
2 to 3 cups sugar
4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1. Toss apples with sugar and next 5 ingredients, and pack into a 6-quart slow-cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH for 1 hour. Reduce heat to LOW, and cook for 12 hours. Remove the lid, increase the heat to HIGH, and cook for 1 hour or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
2. Stir in balsamic vinegar, and puree mixture until desired consistency. (This is when an immersion blender is particularly handy.)
3. Divide mixture into sterile jars or containers, and refrigerate for up to 6 weeks. (The batch I made yielded 3 pint-size jars.)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Comfort Meatballs

This is my take on a recipe from The Pioneer Woman. The meatballs taste like meat loaves, and I think this shape is more appealing to little people. I served ours with buttermilk mashed potatoes.
1 1/2 lbs ground beef (or 1 lb ground beef and 1/2 lb Italian sausage)
3/4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup milk
3 Tbsp. finely minced onion
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 to 1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
Canola oil
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
3 Tbsp. white vinegar
2 Tbsp. Worchestershire sauce

1. Combine ground beef and next 5 ingredients. Roll into balls. (I used a 1-Tbsp. cookie scoop.)
2. Heat canola oil to cover the bottom of a large skillet. Brown meatballs, in batches. Remove meatballs to a baking dish.
3. Combine ketchup and next 4 ingredients; pour over meatballs in baking dish.
4. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until done.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


After a good amount of trial and error, I've finally arrived at, what is to me, the perfect snickerdoodle cookie. The texture is the right balance of chewy and softness; the flavor is sweet, salty, and spicy. Try these for breakfast with coffee or anytime!
1 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks)
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
2 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
Turbinado sugar

1. Beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and eggs, 1 at a time, until thoroughly blended. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; beat in to butter mixture until combined. Scoop dough into balls; roll dough balls in turbinado sugar. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
2. Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Peach Upside-Down Cake

This is probably my very favorite summer dessert—fresh peaches are a must! I first made it last year and never posted the recipe. Because of the abundance of peaches this summer, it has made a regular appearance in our kitchen. The original recipe is from The New Southern Garden Cookbook, which I’ve tinkered with a bit. If you don’t have fresh peaches, plums and nectarines also work well. The addition of cardamom is very subtle but adds a delicious warmth. Allspice is a good substitute.
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, divided
4 peaches, peeled, pitted, and cut into thin slices
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/2 cup milk

1. Melt 1/2 cup butter in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Stir in 3/4 cup brown sugar until smooth. Arrange peaches in concentric circles in the butter mixture.
2. Beat 1/4 cup butter and remaining 3/4 cup brown sugar with a mixer until fluffy. Add in eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add in vanilla. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients; slowly beat in to butter mixture, alternating with milk, until combined. Spread batter over top of peaches.
3. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until done. Allow to cool in pan 10 minutes; using oven mitts, carefully place a plate over top of skillet, and flip skillet over so the cake is released. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Carrot Cake

 For years, I’ve used the same carrot cake recipe. Lately, however, I began to be disappointed by the results, so it was time for a new one. The result is this hybrid of a couple of recipes, modified for my taste preferences. It’s perfect!
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups plus 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour, divided
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup golden raisins or dried cranberries
1 cup chopped pecans
1 pound carrots, grated
2 Tbsp. diced crystallized ginger
1 cup butter, softened
1 (8-oz.) block cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
1 (16-oz.) box powdered sugar

1. Beat the sugar, oil, and eggs together with a mixer until blended. Add in vanilla. Beat in 2 1/2 cups flour and next 3 ingredients until blended. Toss raisins and pecans with remaining 1 Tbsp. flour. Add to batter; beat in carrots and crystallized ginger. Pour batter into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking pan.
2. Bake at 350° for 30 to 40 minutes or until done. Cool completely.
3. Beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in vanilla and powdered sugar until smooth. Spread frosting over top of cooled cake.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Monster Cookies

This is my version of the popular cookie, which is so called because of it's size and because it has all kinds of goodness mixed into the batter. You can use whatever candy/nut/chips you have on hand.

Monster Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup peanut butter M&Ms
1/2 cup peanuts
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup toffee chips

1. Beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add in vanilla. Beat in flour and next 3 ingredients until thoroughly combined. Gradually add in M&Ms and remaining ingredients. Scoop dough onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
2. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Parmesan-Thyme Crackers

This recipe is from Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics. The crackers are perfect as an appetizer, and the variations are endless.
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1. Beat butter with an electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in Parmesan cheese and remaining ingredients.
Remove dough from bowl, and roll into a log; wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 30 minutes.
2. Slice the log into thin disks, and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
3. Bake at 350° for 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from pan, and cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.

Blue Cheese-Pecan-Rosemary Crackers: Replace the Parm with 3/4 cup blue cheese; substitute chopped fresh rosemary for the thyme; and add in 1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans and 1 tsp. grated lemon zest.