Friday, September 28, 2012

Turkey Meatloaf Stuffed with Mushrooms, Spinach, and Fresh Herbs


Fall is finally here with cooler temps, and that means making meatloaf, among other things.  Meatloaf has always been comfort food for me.  One of the best things that my Mom made was meatloaf. (I was a picky eater as a kid).  Believe it or not, the first thing that my hubby and I had an argument about was how we made  meatloaf.  He made his meatloaf with bread and milk, and I had always made mine with tomato sauce and oatmeal, along with the ground meat, egg, and spices.How do you make your meatloaf?

I made the meatloaf pictured above, which  is low sodium and low fat. Over the years, I have modified my recipe to be healthier. I used  ground turkey, egg, low sodium tomato sauce, oatmeal, and chopped onion. Then, I wanted to add a layer of chopped  mushrooms, and fresh spinach. My hubby grew up eating spinach from a can, so he never wanted fresh cooked spinach,  Now, he's converting to a fresh spinach lover, Yay!  I also used fresh basil and oregano from our waning herb garden. The herbs, spinach and mushrooms  add so much flavor and color, and I added no salt. I accidentally didn't add all of the tomato sauce to the ground turkey mix, so I just poured the rest of the can over the top of the meatloaf, before I baked it, and sprinkled with the fresh herbs,  We love this meatloaf which makes a wonderful dinner with sweet potatoes and a salad. My hubby takes meatloaf sandwiches for lunch, but have I have never liked meatloaf sandwiches.
My meatloaf has to be warm.
The meatloaf before going into the oven

Turkey Meatloaf Stuffed with Mushroom, Spinach, and  Herbs

Ingredients:
1 lb of ground turkey,  I used 93/7
1 egg
1 small onion, chopped
1 8 oz can low sodium tomato sauce
1/2-1 cup oatmeal, uncooked  I used rolled oats
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 cup fresh or frozen spinach, chopped  I used fresh spinach
2 Tbsp, divided,  fresh basil, chopped or 1 tsp, dried
2 Tbsp divided, fresh oregano, chopped or 1 tsp dried


Directions:
1. Combine ground turkey egg and onion in large bowl, and  1 tbsp of basil and oregano, and  mix until well combined. 
2. Add 6 oz tomato sauce until well mixed
3. Stir in oatmeal until desired consistency.
4. Pat half of meatloaf mixture into a 9 x 5 baking pan**, sprayed with cooking spray.
5. Add the layer chopped mushrooms to meatloaf in pan.
6. Layer chopped spinach on top of mushrooms.
7. Pat remaining meatloaf mix over the spinach and pour remaining tomato sauce over the top of the meatloaf.
8. Garnish the top of meatloaf with the rest of the fresh herbs.
9. Bake in 350 oven for 1 hour-1 hr 15 min, 165 degrees on the meat thermometer or until juices are clear.
10. Cool on rack for 10 min, before serving, Enjoy!

**Cooks Note
I like to bake my meatloaf, free form, in a pan larger than the meatloaf, so the juices and fat, if any,  flow away from the meatloaf. I packed the meatloaf mix in a 9x5 pan sprayed with cooking spray, then removed it from the baking pan to the casserole dish. 

I I linked up my recipe to Brandie@The Country Cook's Weekend Potluck #37
Stop by and say Hi to Brandie!


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Vanilla Cupcake with Salted Caramel Filling and Vanilla Butter Cream with Salted Caramel Drizzle


I wasn't going to make any more recipes with my Salted Caramel, but one of my readers asked for a cupcake with the caramel sauce that wasn't chocolate. I know that there are people out there that don't like chocolate, my son, Todd being one of them, so I had to make one more glorious cupcake with the wonderful ooey, gooey, caramel Sauce. Here is the Vanilla Cupcake with Salted Caramel Filling and Vanilla Butter Cream with Salted Caramel  for Mary, Christiane, and Todd, among others.


  I now have a smaller jar of leftover caramel now, so my supply is dwindling, and I haven't even made caramel apples yet;)  I may just have to make more. what is your favorite way to eat Caramel Sauce?


An update on my microwave search!  Yay! 1 I did find a new Panasonic Microwave at Best Buy that fits on the shelf, and and still has power.  We'll see how long this one lasts.  I did get the extended warranty for 2 years from Best Buy, so I'm covered for at least 2 years. I don't want anymore microwave drama for a long time.  I'll just have to eat one of these yummy cupcakes to soothe my jangled nerves:) 
Vanilla Cupcakes Adapted from Crazy About Cupcakes by Krystina Castella 

Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with liners.

2. With an electric mixer on medium speed beat the butter until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar, and vanilla, and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition.

3. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.

4. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk until combined.

5. In a small bowl with a clean mixer on high speed,  beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula stir a little of the whites into the batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining whites until combined. Do not over mix.

6. Fill the cupcake liners three-quarters full. Bake for about 15–20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in the pan
Yield: 12 cupcakes  Enjoy!

Thick Caramel Sauce From Monet@ Anecdotes and Applecores
1 cup butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
1-2 teaspoons sea salt

1. Attach a candy thermometer to a heavy saucepan. In saucepan, bring butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk to a boil over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon. this may take several minutes.

2. Carefully and slowly stir in whipping cream. Be careful, cream will boil rapidly and can burn.

3. Continue to stir mixture until caramel reaches 238 degrees, the soft-ball stage. This will take anywhere from 5-15 minutes. (It took mine about 12 min.)

4. Remove from heat and add vanilla and salt.

5. Store in a glass jar after the mixture has cooled slightly. If your caramel is too hot, there is the risk of glass breaking.

Note: As caramel cools, it thickens. If you aren’t using caramel right away, you can store for 1-2 weeks in a glass jar. When you’re ready to enjoy your caramel, spoon out a chunk (yes, it will be that thick), add a dash of cream, and then microwave in 15 second increments until smooth, or over a double boiler, just above the simmering water.
Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting
Ingredients
1/2 c butter, room temperature
2c. powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c more or less milk, or half and half I used almond milk

Assemble the Cupcakes:
Use a paring knife to cut a cone-shaped piece (about 1/2 inch deep) from the center of each cupcake and throw away the pieces, eat them, or use a cupcake corer.  I used the cupcake corer. Spoon caramel filling into the cupcake.  Frost with Butter Cream and drizzle with more of the Caramel sauce!!  Enjoy!

I I linked up my recipe to Brandie@The Country Cook's Weekend Potluck #37
Stop by and say Hi to Brandie!






Monday, September 24, 2012

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Quinoa Pilaf with Mushrooms, and More.

 
It's Fall, Yaay!!! We have had the cool Fall temps last week, and over the weekend. After all of our oppressive heat over the Summer, the cool air was welcomed. I love the crunch of the leaves underfoot. It isn't officially Fall until I buy candy corn, which I finally did this weekend, but I was disappointed in the candy.  The one that I bought, was hard and tasteless. I'll be on the hunt for some better tasting candy corn.  Do you have a favorite candy corn? Let me know!


Besides Candy Corn in Fall, I love anything with pumpkin, apples, apple cider, and Fall squashes, and cinnamon, just to name a few.  I saw this recipe with Acorn Squash stuffed with  Quinoa Pilaf last week  @ Jeanette's  Healthy Living, and I knew that I would be making it soon. We love acorn squash and have them often during the Fall months. My Mom always baked them, when she made meatloaf, so  to me they are comfort food, too. When I make acorn squash now, I usually cook the squash in the microwave, upside down in the dish with a little water and then turn them over, and fill the cavities,  if I'm in a hurry. However, last week my microwave, a  Magic Chef of 10 months, died!!! Now, I have to cook my oatmeal on the stove, and   I baked the acorn squash in the oven. The previous microwave was a Sharp, and only made it 1/1/2 years, just past the warranty. The only good thing about the Magic Chef is that it was still under warranty, and Magic Chef is sending a refund check. Now, I have to buy my third microwave in 2/12 yrs!!!  Does anybody have a reliable on the counter microwave that they like?  Please let me know. I am beginning to think that "reliable microwave", is an oxymoron. It's not easy to live without the microwave:(.  What a bummer week! My microwave died, and got bad candy corn.  This has to be a better week.


However you make this dish, which can be a side dish, if you use small acorn squashes, a main dish, if you are vegetarian, or  add a little chicken to the quinoa, you will love this dish,  We had them for lunch yesterday, and my hubby loved them, even the apples, walnuts, and dried cranberries, in addition to the quinoa, mushrooms, onions,celery, and herbs.  This dish was also very filling, but healthy at the same time, and sure beats eating a another sandwich for lunch. This is a versatile recipe because you can vary the stuffing, depending what is in your pantry.  I  didn't have any pumpkin seeds, so I used toasted walnuts, and I added the chopped apples, which added a tasty touch and color. This dish would be perfect for a vegan  or vegetarian dish for Thanksgiving. You could serve it at a dinner party or your lunch today!  Even if you aren't vegan or vegetarian, this dish appeals to all.





Roasted Acorn Squash with Quinoa Pilaf with Mushrooms, Apples, and More Adapted from Jeanette’s Healthy Living
Roasted Acorn Squash
  • 3 medium acorn squash, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
  • olive oil for brushing acorn squash
Preparation:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Brush tops and inside of squash cavity lightly with olive oil. Season lightly with salt, if desired.
  3. Roast in oven until fork tender, about 45 minutes to an hour. Roasting time will depend on the size of your squash.
  4. Remove from oven and set aside.
 Quinoa Pilaf Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 onion, finely chopped, divided
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well and drained
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 4 sage leaves, minced
  • 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds  I used toasted walnuts
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 chopped apples
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Preparation:
While acorn squash is roasting, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large frying pan. Add half the onion and cook until softened, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the quinoa, broth, water and thyme, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and cook, covered, until liquid has been absorbed, about 15-20 minutes.

In a skillet, heat remaining tablespoon of oil, and add rest of onion, mushrooms, celery and sage. Sauté until vegetables are soft. 

Toss mushroom mixture with cooked quinoa, along with pumpkin seeds or walnuts chopped apples, and dried cranberries

Stuff acorn squash halves with Quinoa Pilaf, and serve. Enjoy!
Serves 6.

I I linked up my recipe to Brandie@The Country Cook's Weekend Potluck #37
Stop by and say Hi to Brandie!




Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Filling, Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting, and Salted Caramel Drizzle


When I originally made the Salted Caramel Sauce,  it was for these cupcakes. I was going to make them for Scott's birthday.  Because we were out of town the weekend before his birthday, we are celebrating his birthday and our friend, Joanna's,  this coming weekend. I got a huge jar of Salted Caramel Sauce when I made it, so I had plenty for the Banana Oat Muffins with Salted Caramel Drizzle , the Salted Caramel Apple Cake with Fresh Apples, the Oatmeal Apple Cookies with Salted Caramel Drizzle or Not,  and lastly Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel filling, Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting, and Salted Caramel Drizzle.  September has been the month of Salted Caramel Sauce for sure, and I still have two small jars of sauce, which I'm giving away. I  never imagined that I  would have gotten so much, luscious thick, gooey caramel sauce from one recipe. Thanks, Monet for sharing this recipe. 

These are magnificent cupcakes with lots of dark chocolate with cocoa and melted dark chocolate chips and Salted Caramel Filling.  I didn't want Caramel frosting with the Caramel  filling and drizzle, because  the cupcakes would be too sweet.  I opted for a Vanilla Butter Cream topped with just a touch of Caramel Drizzle.  I had to taste one of the extras, which was so good; rich, chocolatey, and full of luscious caramel. I'm sure that the birthday guests will love them.



Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Filling and Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting and Caramel Drizzle.

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker
 350 degree oven Yield: 12 cupcakes
 Bake Time: 18-20 minutes 

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped  (I used 1/3 c dark chocolate chips)
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Cocoa)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2cup (4 ounces) sour cream (I used almond milk)


Directions:
1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line standard-size muffin pan with baking cup liners.

2. Combine butter, chocolate, and cocoa in medium heatproof bowl. Set bowl over saucepan containing barely simmering water; heat mixture until butter and chocolate are melted and whisk until smooth and combined. (Alternately, you can microwave the mixture at 50% power, stirring every 30 seconds until completely melted.) Set aside to cool until just warm to the touch.

3. Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder in small bowl to combine.

4. Whisk eggs in second medium bowl to combine; add sugar, vanilla, and salt until fully incorporated. Add cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. .Add in one third of dry ingredients to egg sugar mixture, alternately with the milk, and ending with the dry ingredients, until well combined. 

5. Divide the batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Bake until pick inserted into center of cupcakes comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes.

6. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before filling and frosting. about 30 minutes.

Thick Caramel Sauce From Monet@ Anecdotes and Applecores
1 cup butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
1-2 teaspoons sea salt

1. Attach a candy thermometer to a heavy saucepan. In saucepan, bring butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk to a boil over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon. this may take several minutes.

2. Carefully and slowly stir in whipping cream. Be careful, cream will boil rapidly and can burn.

3. Continue to stir mixture until caramel reaches 238 degrees, the soft-ball stage. This will take anywhere from 5-15 minutes. (It took mine about 12 min.)

4. Remove from heat and add vanilla and salt.

5. Store in a glass jar after the mixture has cooled slightly. If your caramel is too hot, there is the risk of glass breaking.

Note: As caramel cools, it thickens. If you aren’t using caramel right away, you can store for 1-2 weeks in a glass jar. When you’re ready to enjoy your caramel, spoon out a chunk (yes, it will be that thick), add a dash of cream, and then microwave in 15 second increments until smooth, or over a double boiler, just above the simmering water.

Vanilla Butter Cream Frosting
Ingredients

1/2 c butter, room temperature
2c. powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c more or less milk, or half and half I used almond milk

Assemble the Cupcakes:

Use a paring knife to cut a cone-shaped piece (about 1/2 inch deep) from the center of each cupcake and throw away the pieces, eat them, or use a cupcake corer.  I used the cupcake corer. Spoon caramel filling into the cupcake.  Frost with Butter Cream and drizzle with more of the Caramel sauce!!  Enjoy!

 I linked up my recipe to Brandie@The Country Cook's Weekend Potluck #36
Stop by and say Hi to Brandie!



Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Slice of Colorado!


We just got back from a long weekend in Colorado to see my brother and to celebrate my Husband, Scott's B-day.  Little did we know, when we scheduled our trip, that it was the same time that the Aspens are in color. They are gorgeous, with the golden leaves painting the green evergreens on the mountainsides. These are views from Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, CO, about one hour from my brother's house.  It was very crowded last Saturday, almost bumper to bumper, because the weather was perfect.


For 'Flatlanders", like us in Illinois, Scott and I are always in awe of the mountains.



This view is from my brother's kitchen window! Amazing!  his house is 8, 000 ft. up in the mountains. He is a mile from the main road, and you should see his driveway, all switchbacks, scary!!


Here are the "Race Car Drivers, my brother Scott on the left, and my Husband, Scott, on the right. Confusing, you bet! We went to Colorado to see my brother and his family, but also to celebrate my husband's birthday, September 17th, and cross of one othe items on his "bucket list."  My husband used to race Triumph sport cars in his early 20's, He has always wanted to drive on a racetrack again. So when my Brother got a 2013 Mustang Boss 302 , he invited us out see his new car, and go to the High Plains Raceway near Byer, CO. Needless to say, my husband was living his dream as road course race driver again.  Happy Birthday Sweetie!!!


As for the food, we mostly ate out, Mexican one night and Chicago Pizza, the other night.
On Sunday, Scott made his Chicken Creole and I made Apple Walnut Cake with Fresh Apples.  I will be posting a new recipe soon.



Thursday, September 13, 2012

Oatmeal Apple Cookies with Salted Caramel Drizzle or Not


I wanted to make these cookies, which are fairly healthy, and they turned out so well. I also added dried cranberries and walnuts, to bump the flavors, and of course cinnamon. Can you tell that I'm having fun with the Salted Caramel Drizzle? The drizzle just added a touch of fun. These cookies are all dressed up for a Tea Party or maybe you'll add these to your Christmas Cookie baking list.  They are a softer cake like cookie filled with chopped apples, dried cranberries, and walnuts, perfect flavors of Fall or the Holidays.




Now, if you don't want to dress up the cookies, they are perfect for  lunch boxes, snacks, or even dessert, and not overly sweet.  All the oatmeal, apples, and walnuts add a healthy dose of antioxidants to these cookies.  I used AP flour, but you could sub whole wheat for the AP to bump up the nutrition in these cookies. I like to make my cookies smaller, because Scott always wants more than one cookie, my secret to portion control. Whichever way you make these cookies,  drizzled or plain, they taste so good.  Enjoy!

I have a busy weekend planned, so I might not be around my computer too much, but I'll catch up with you soon.  Have a great weekend! 

Oatmeal Apple Cookies with Dried Cranberries and Walnuts

 Adapted from Quaker Oats

Ingredients:
  •  1/2  C (1 stick) butter
  • 1 C firmly Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 C Granulated Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 1/2 C All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt (optional)
  • 3 C Quaker Oats (Quick or Old Fashioned, uncooked)
  • 1 C Dried Cranberries
  • 1  C  finely chopped apples- I used golden Delicious
  • 3/4c c chopped walnuts
Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Beat together butter and sugars until creamy.
  3. Add eggs, and vanilla; beat well.
  4. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well.
  5. Stir in oats and chopped apples, dried cranberries and walnuts mix well.
  6. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.
  7. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire rack.
If you want you can drizzle the cooled cookies with the Salted Caramel Sauce, here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I will never forget 9/11/2001

9/11, Patriot Day Images, Quotes, Comments, Graphics
9/11, Patriot Day Pictures - Quotes - Photobucket

I will forever remember where I was on 9/11/2001. I was at work sitting at my computer. I had started at 7:30am that day, and I was looking over some papers drinking coffee, when someone yelled out that a plane had hit the trade center.  We all thought that it must a have a  been a small plane, that it must have been a mistake.  At first even the news reports were about a small plane.  Everyone was looking at their computer screen in disbelief. Minutes later, the second plane hit the second tower, and we all knew it wasn't a mistake.  We were glued to the computer screens with sickening horror and disbelief. Is this a movie?  How could anything like this happen?  People were then frantically trying to reach their loved ones.  No one could even think of working.  Our company let everyone leave about 10 or 10:30 am.  I went home to meet my husband.

Once we were home, we spent the rest of the day, glued to the TV.  The images were so compelling and sickening at the same time.  We wanted all of the details to try and comprehend what was happening on the screen?  How could any this horrific happen, and who would do this?  Over the next few days more details came to light. Any of our free hours from work were spent watching the TV.  Finally, by Saturday of that week, we needed a break and went to dinner at our favorite little Italian restaurant.  Sitting in the bar, waiting for our table, everyone was talking about 9/11.   We felt guilty for going out for trying to have a good time, when there were so many people elsewhere in turmoil.

We sort of had a somber dinner, but life goes on.

I felt compelled this year to write about 9/11, because of this poem that I saw in the Sunday Parade Magazine in The Chicago Tribune by Billy Collins, Poet Laureate. He wrote a poem called "Names"   about the 2,792 people who perished that day. This poem is so stirring thought provoking, I had to share it.  Here are the closing lines:

Names etched on
the head of pin

one name spanning a
 bridge, another
undergoing a tunnel.

A blue name needled
into the skin.

Names of citizens,
workers, mothers, and fathers.

The bright- eyed
daughter, the quick son.

Alphabet of names in
a green field.

Names in the small
tracks of birds.

Names lifted from a hat

Or balanced on 
the tip of the tongue.

Names wheeled
 into the dim warehouse
of memory.

So many names, there
is barely room on 
the walls of the heart.

 Never Forget!

Also, do not forget that there are Thousands of military families and soldiers deployed around the world, still fighting to keep America Free, and thousands of soldiers that have given the their life to still fight the fight!  


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Onion, Zucchini, Carrot, and Cheese Bake for #onionlove


I was at my neighbor Pauli's garden on Saturday and the zucchini are still producing, so I brought one home.  I had seen a recipe on Pinterest  for a cheesy zucchini dish with onions and Panko breadcrumbs by Care's Kitchen,   that I have been waiting to make.  After all my caramel and sugar overload last week, I needed to make something healthy.   I happened to have a bag of Panko breadcrumbs. I am a novice. when it comes to Panko Breadcrumbs.  I think that the Onion Zucchini dish is the  perfect way to start using them,  This Onion Zucchini Bake is low in carbs and fat, and fairly healthy.  I added the carrots for color, as well as the vitamins, and I love carrots. I also increased the onion from one to two for more oniony goodness.

I am making this Onion, Zucchini, Carrot, and Cheese Bake for #onionlove, which is a monthy blog hop, Love Bloghop.  Come and join us. I usually co-host this event, but I was not able to, so I'm submitting this recipe now,


First, you saute the onion and garlic, until softened.  Then add in your sliced zucchini and carrots, and cook until the veggies are soft. Sorry for the yellow pic, but that was taken on my stove, and I have to have the light on, otherwise it is too dark in my kitchen.

After the vegetables have softened, remove the veggies to a bowl to cool. Then mix the bread crumbs and cheese together, and add to vegetable mixture.  Place the vegetable-cheese mixture in a 8x8 casserole dish or baking pan. Sprinkle  the vegetable-cheese mixture with more Panko bread crumbs and  Parmesan Cheesec. Bake and enjoy!


This dish is filled with lots of onions, zucchini, and carrots with  cheesy goodness and spices.  It's easy to make and comes together in about 30 minutes. I took a bite of ths flavorful casserole, and I couldn't stop eating it.  I usually don't like cheesy dishes, but I love thes one.  I know what I'm having for lunch today!



 Onion, Zucchini, and Cheese Casserole Adapted from Care’s Kitchen
375 F oven

Ingredients:
2-3 T Olive oil (plus a little more more for drizzling at the end)
2 medium onions, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 medium Zucchini, thinly sliced
1/4 lb. of Baby Carrots, chopped
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups shredded Italian Cheese (I used a mix of Asiago, Mozzarella,  Provolone, and Romano, pre-packaged)
1/3 cup Panko Bread Crumbs, 1/4 cup Panko crumbs for topping
Grated or shredded Parmesan for sprinkling on top
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh chopped Italian Parsley for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat; add garlic, onion and sauté stirring occasionally until softened, about 6-8 minutes.

Microwave Baby carrots for about 2 min, to soften slightly.  This way they will take less time to sauté.

Add zucchini and carrots to the onion garlic mixture in frying pan, and continue cooking, until softened, about 10-12 minutes.

Add fresh grated nutmeg, pinch of salt and pepper and mix in well. Remove pan from heat and place contents into a large bowl to let cool slightly. Preheat oven to 375.

Stir in 2 c cheese and 1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs to veggies, until well combined.

Add veggie-cheese mix to a casserole dish or baking pan. (8x8)

Sprinkle the top with the remaining Panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.
Drizzle with a little olive oil.

Bake in oven about 10- 15 minutes, or until is gets bubbly around the edges.

Turn on broiler and broil (watching carefully) an additional 3-4 minutes until slightly browned on top.

Remove from the oven and let sit about 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with fresh chopped Italian parsley and Enjoy!

 



Friday, September 7, 2012

Salted Caramel Apple Cake with Fresh Apples


I had made Salted Caramel earlier in the week, and had a huge jar of caramel to use. One thing that I wanted to bake was my Apple Walnut Cake with Fresh Apples, but I wanted to give it a  makeover with the Salted Caramel sauce. You see when I think of caramel and apple, I go back to my childhood to the countless number of Affy Tapples that I consumed  For those of you  not familiar with Affy Tapples, they were caramel apples dipped in crushed peanuts sold in retail locations.  I loved the crunchy apples, sweet caramel, and the salted peanuts of the Affy Tapple.  As I read on the web now, they were from the Chicago Area.  Do any of you remember Affy Tapples?


For my makeover of my Apple Walnut cake, I swirled in some Salted Caramel Sauce into  the cake batter, and chopped peanuts. then baked the cake. When the cake comes out of the oven,  you poke holes in the cake, and pour a hot sour cream topping over the cake. I have been making the Apple Walnut Cake since 1969, so I think that this recipe might have been an original "poke cake." After the topping was poured on top, I drizzled some Salted Caramel sauce over the top of the cake., and more chopped peanuts. Oh, my!  Now this cake is even more rich and decadent. I loved my original Apple Walnut Cake, and didn't think that there was anything better, until I tasted the Salted Caramel Apple Cake. It was a bite of pure heaven, and was reminiscent of the beloved Affy Tapples.  A Success! This a good recipe to use some of those apples, that you got at the orchard or fruit stand. If you don't have time to make your own Salted Caramel Sauce, you can always buy a can of apple pie filling, and a jar of caramel ice cream syrup.  Shhh! I won't tell.  Up until last year, I had never used fresh apples for the filling. Whatever way you make this cake, you are going to love it. Moist cake with tender apples, and salted caramel with crunchy peanuts.

This was the picture of the cake right ater the sour cream topping was poured on with the Salted Caramel Drizzle and chopped peanuts. I know that I have to get this cake out of my house, before I eat it all, or put in the freezer. If anybody wants some, let me know:)



Salted Caramel Apple Cake with Fresh Apples

Apple Pie Filling
5-6  medium Apples, washed, peeled, cored and sliced.  I used Jonagold
1 c. water
1 c sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. cinnamon

In a large saucepan combine, apples, water, sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon .Bring to boil, and simmer over medium heat, until filling is thick and bubbly. Add  an additional 2 Tbsp .more cornstarch dissolved in ¼ cup cold water, if filling is too runny. Remove from heat and refrigerate until filling is cool to the touch.  You may make the filling the night before and refrigerate, until ready for use.

Thick Caramel Sauce From Monet@ Anecdotes and Applecores

1 cup butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
1-2 teaspoons sea salt

1. Attach a candy thermometer to a heavy saucepan. In saucepan, bring butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk to a boil over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon. this may take several minutes.
2. Carefully and slowly stir in whipping cream. Be careful, cream will boil rapidly and can burn.
3. Continue to stir mixture until caramel reaches 238 degrees, the soft-ball stage. This will take anywhere from 5-15 minutes. (It took mine about 12 min.)
4. Remove from heat and add vanilla and salt.
5. Store in a glass jar after the mixture has cooled slightly. If your caramel is too hot, there is the risk of glass breaking.

Note: As caramel cools, it thickens. If you aren’t using caramel right away, you can store for 1-2 weeks in a glass jar. When you’re ready to enjoy your caramel, spoon out a chunk (yes, it will be that thick), add a dash of cream, and then microwave in 15 second increments until smooth.
 
Ingredients for Cake
Fresh Apple Pie Filling
2 cups All-Purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
2/3 cup canola oil
1/3 c Salted Caramel Sauce
3/4 c chopped peanuts, divided

Topping
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4c chopped peanuts,
 1/4 c Salted Caramel sauce for drizzle
1 tsp. baking soda.

Directions
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F
Spread apple pie filling in bottom of a 9x13 pan, sprayed with cooking spray. Combine flour, sugar, and baking soda in a separate bowl.  Sprinkle over apple pie filling.

Mix eggs, oil, and 1/2 c peanuts in small bowl.  Pour over flour mixture in pan and mix well. Swirl in 1-3 c Salted Caramel Sauce.

Bake in 350 degrees F oven for 35-40 min, until golden brown.  Remove from oven, and immediately poke holes over the whole cake.  Pour hot topping over the cake, and top with remainder of 1/4 c peanuts. 

Topping
Combine sugar, sour cream, and baking soda in medium saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, just until it starts to boil.  Don't let the mixture caramelize.  Immediately pour over hot cake, which has had holes poked in it with a fork. Sprinkle with remaining peanuts. Serve warm or room temperature.  I like mine warm.

linked up my recipe to Brandie@The Country Cook's Weekend Potluck #34
Stop by and say Hi to Brandie!







Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Apple Blackberry Crisp


I had some blackberries in the fridge, that I had to use before they spoiled.  I didn't have enough to make a pie or cobbler.   I was perusing various Blackberry recipes and a recipe for Apple Blackberry Pie caught my eye.  I would have never thought of pairing Apples and Blackberries before now. but  then the light bulb went off in my head, and thought that  I could make an Apple Blackberry Crisp. I love making crisps with the rolled oats in the topping, and it's a great way to showcase the fruit. In the waning days of summer fruit, don't miss the opportunity to pair apples and blackberries.It's wonderful. In Northern Illinois, the apple harvest has been hampered by the drought.  Hopefully, I will be able to get some good apples, before the orchard apples are gone.


I have made many crisps in my day, but they have mostly been apples crisp, and a few peach crisps. I was pleasantly surprised, when I took the first spoonful of the Apple Blackberry Crisp, because of the wonderful blending of the sweet apples, and somewhat tart blackberries with the  rolled oat and brown sugar topping. Amaazing!  Also, there were fewer seeds, with an apple blackberry combo. The filling was only the apples, blackberries, and cinnamon, but the fruit had the right amount of juice.  I used Jonagold apples with the blackberries. This variety is good for baking, with a tart, sweet fruit. if you make this apple blackberry combo, you won't be disappointed.  Enjoy




Apple Blackberry Crisp- enough for a shallow 10" pie plate or 8X8 square pan- 375 degree oven

Topping:
 I use a pastry blender to make the topping.  If you don't have a pastry blender, you can cut in the butter with two knives, or use your food processor.

3/4 c. brown sugar
1 c. flour
1/2 c. old fashioned rolled oats
1 tsp. cinnamon
6 Tbsp butter
3 large Jonagold apples, or any baking apple of your choice
6 oz. blackberries
More cinnamon to taste.

1. Combine first 4 ingredients and cut in butter until crumbly, like small peas, and refrigerate until the apples are peeled, sliced and cored. .
  
2. Peel, slice and core apples. I use an apple slicer, which makes this step much easier. Sprinkle more cinnamon over the fruit, if desired.

3. Spray 10" pie plate or 8 X8 pan,, and pile apples and blackberries into pan. Take topping out of fridge, and spread the topping over the fruit..  Bake in 375 degree oven 35-40 min., until apples are tender and topping is golden. Then, turn oven up to 400 degrees for five min. to "crisp" topping. Cool on rack.
 Serve warm-Enjoy Fall!

linked up my recipe to Brandie@The Country Cook's Weekend Potluck #34
Stop by and say Hi to Brandie!






Monday, September 3, 2012

Banana Oat Muffins with Salted Caramel Drizzle


I am a novice to making caramel, to say the least.  I have never made Caramel or Salted Caramel, or had a candy thermometer, until today.  I have seen many recipes and versions of Salted Caramel across the web. but which one to use?  Dry, (sugar only), wet, (sugar and liquid), even butter, cream, and corn syrup, using a candy thermometer or not using one. My head was spinning.  My inner Pisces was coming out, being indecisive, and I just couldn't decide on which recipe to use. I have no trouble making bigger decisions, but it's the little decisions, that drive me crazy. As my Hubby would say, It's a short trip!  Some of the recipes I saw didn't use a candy thermometer, and relied on your instincts and your nose. Since I had never made caramel, I didn't have any of those instinct, so I was leary of those recipes..

 
I finally decided, after three hours of debating in my mind, and driving my husband crazy, to use a recipe that used a candy thermometer, and made thick, glorious caramel. That way, I would have a definite marker on the thermometer, when to take the caramel off of the heat. I had seen the recipe on Monet's blog@ Anecdotes and Applecores.  This recipe makes a really thick, rich, caramel sauce, that made a large jar full of caramel goodness. I'm already fantasizing about all the yummy ways to use the sauce.
  
Thick Caramel Sauce From Monet@ Anecdotes and Applecores

1 cup butter
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
1-2 teaspoons sea salt

1. Attach a candy thermometer to a heavy saucepan. In saucepan, bring butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and sweetened condensed milk to a boil over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon. this may take several minutes.
2. Carefully and slowly stir in whipping cream. Be careful, cream will boil rapidly and can burn.
3. Continue to stir mixture until caramel reaches 238 degrees, the soft-ball stage. This will take anywhere from 5-15 minutes. (It took mine about 12 min.)
4. Remove from heat and add vanilla and salt.
5. Store in a glass jar after the mixture has cooled slightly. If your caramel is too hot, there is the risk of glass breaking.

Note: As caramel cools, it thickens. If you aren’t using caramel right away, you can store for 1-2 weeks in a glass jar. When you’re ready to enjoy your caramel, spoon out a chunk (yes, it will be that thick), add a dash of cream, and then microwave in 15 second increments until smooth.




My first way to use the Salted Caramel Sauce was to drizzle on Banana Oat Muffins. These a a great breakfast treat, that are moist from the bananas and applesauce. The rolled oats give the muffins a great texture, as well as added fiber, and the Salted Caramel drizzle and the sliced bananas are a flavorful garnish. these muffins aren't overly sweet, so the  Salted Caramel Drizzle just adds a touch of sweetness. These would be great for breakfast, snacks, or brunch. Enjoy!  Be on the the lookout for more Salted Caramel goodness soon.

Banana Oat Muffins with Salted Caramel Drizzle Adapted from Allrecipes.com
Makes 12 muffins 

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1tsp cinnamon
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil, or unsweetened applesauce
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mashed bananas
Sliced Bananas
Salted Caramel Sauce, heated


Directions:
1.
Combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt.
2.
In a large bowl, beat the egg lightly. Stir in the milk, oil or applesauce, and vanilla. Add the mashed banana, and combine thoroughly. Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture until just combined. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper bake cups, and divide the batter among them.
3.
Bake at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 18 to 20 minutes. Cool on rack.  Garnish cooled muffins with sliced bananas and Salted Caramel Sauce.



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