Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Apples, Two Ways

I went apple picking last weekend, which always seems like an awesome idea at the time and then you get home and you have eleventy billion apples (not to mention the half dozen apple-cider donuts, really?? I really need those?) and you can't possibly EAT all these apples as snacks and what I am I supposed to do with all these? Here are two things I did with them: apple pancakes and upside-down caramel apple muffins.

First up, apple pancakes.

Elaine came over on Sunday for apple pancakes and I decided to use this recipe from smittenkitchen. They were really easy to put together and CHOCK FULL of apples. I wanted to snaz them up a little (and use up another apple) so I melted some maple sugar I had on hand and sauteed apple slices in the resulting syrup. I put one slice in each pancake before I flipped it.

Then, we melted butter in the leftover melted maple sugar, along with additional maple syrup to top the pancakes. Delicious.

The second thing I made were these Caramel Apple Muffins.
As you may have observed by now, I sometimes start cooking things without having all the ingredients. I THOUGHT I had enough butter. But I didn't. So I sliced up all the apples last Thursday, but didn't actually make these muffins until last night. They still turned out awesome.

A couple of'll sautee your apple slices in butter and brown sugar for the delicious caramel apple topping. I had a TON of the butter syrup left over, so I included a spoonful of it on top of the apples before adding the batter and also on top of the batter before putting the muffins in the oven. I did have a few accidents with the sugar spilling out of the muffin tins, but oh well. I also have a self cleaning oven. Second, I needed to add milk (actually buttermilk, since that what I had) to the was SO stiff that I could hardly combine it all together. I would say that I added probably a total of 1/2 cup possibly even 3/4 cup. I doubled the recipe so its possible I miscalculated something somewhere, let me know what happens for you.

Now I only have 9 billion apples left.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Baked Figs, a Fancy Snack

I love figs. I'm not going to lie, I would eat them anytime anywhere. They are so exotic yet so homey, modern and ancient at the same time. Our next door neighbors growing up had a fig tree in their yard and when the figs were in season I would stand under that tree and literally eat my fill. It was awesome. These days, I have to find them in the store and commit to paying slightly more than they might be worth, but I don't really mind because again, I love figs.

Now that we've got that covered, I acquired some figs and I wanted to do something very simple with them. David Tanis in his book "A Platter of Figs" has an easy recipe for baked figs. While I was making them, I realized I also had a beautiful block of blue cheese leftover from E's wedding which would be perfect with the figs. (I imagine the original recipe is delicious as well, but I can hardly ever resist a salty/sweet combo.)

Figs, cut in half (how ever many you want, or have on hand)
A few sprigs of thyme
olive oil
blue cheese

To Do:
Put thyme sprigs in the bottom of a glass baking dish and layer figs halves on top. The dish you bake them in should be just big enough to fit your figs. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Pop in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes, at which point you want to take the pan out of the oven and smush little pieces of blue cheese into each fig. Cook about 5-10 minutes longer, until cheese is melted. Remove from oven, let cool slightly, eat. Try not to eat them all at once. Then, eat them all at once.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Black Beans and Rice

I think we had beans and rice once a week growing up, although it definitely seemed like more. My folks were and are huge fans of making large amounts of things, freezing portions and unthawing for quick and easy dinners. I hated beans and rice night when I was a kid, but now I really appreciate this delicious and hearty dinner, especially when paired with a salad, as we always did growing up. I think you'll find this a simple, delicious, healthy and not to mention cheap staple in your repertoire.

1 lb black beans
2 cups chicken or veggie stock
Olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
2 Tbs ginger, chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
Salt and pepper to taste

To Do:
Soak beans overnight. Drain and put in large pot. Add chicken stock and water to cover by 2 inches. Bring beans to a simmer and then lower heat. Meanwhile, saute onion, pepper, jalapeno and ginger in olive oil until soft. Add cumin, coriander and s&p and stir until combined. Add veg mixture to the beans and cook until beans are done. Smash a few of the beans against the side of the pan to make a nice thick gravy. Don't forget to taste and adjust seasoning. Serve over rice. We always topped them with chopped onion, but cheese, sour cream and a nice squirt of lime would work nicely as well. ENJOY!