Thursday, October 16, 2014

Honey-sesame cashews

I've been wanting to try to re-create the honey-sesame cashews from Trader Joe's for a while now. Have you ever had these? They are roasted nuts covered in a sweet honey glaze with sesame seeds. We just got a Trader Joe's here about a year or so ago. I've only been to it twice, but what I end up buying there is nuts. They are delicious and I always want to go back and get more. I wanted to make the cashews at home for less money and with better ingredients. Mission accomplished! Mine are a little less sweet as I didn't use extra sugar. You could add a bit of granulated white or brown sugar to increase the sweetness if you want. These cashews make a great snack or even an appetizer to an Asian meal. We ate them while playing some card games and enjoyed them a lot. They are addictive though - as I find all glazed nuts to be!

Honey-sesame cashews
1-1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
2-1/2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons raw sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
2 cups raw cashews

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Mix the coconut oil, honey, vanilla, sesame seeds, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the cashews until they are well coated. Pour onto the baking sheet into a single layer.

Bake for about 15 minutes, stirring about halfway through. You want the cashews to be golden and the glaze be be thickened and sticky. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with a couple pinches of salt.

Let the nuts cool completely so the glaze will be hardened and stuck to the nuts. Serve or store in an airtight container.

What was I cooking one year ago?: slow cooker sticky Asian drumsticks with sesame savoy cabbage
Two years ago?: apple-turkey burgers with cranberry-apple relish
Three?: apple crumb tart
4?: peanut butter oatmeal cookies

Monday, October 13, 2014

Apple ring pancakes

I warned you that apple recipes would be coming since we recently picked a bushel. I canned a few batches of applesauce and we've been eating them with our lunch every day, but it still leaves plenty for cooking with as well. One thing I've been waiting for apple season to make is these apple ring pancakes. I got the idea from my Pennsylvania Dutch cookbook (which I love - there's been a free e-cookbook on Amazon for a while now. I have two different print versions and this one may be different as well). However, this recipe was for deep-fried apple fritter rings and while that sounds delicious, it wasn't quite what I wanted for breakfast. So, I decided to dip them in a spiced pancake batter instead. Served with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon, some real maple syrup, and a couple breakfast sausages made these a perfect weekend breakfast. I must say that these three turned out the nicest, that's why they are in the photo. Most of them were a little messier, but they were still delicious! 

Apple ring pancakes
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 large egg
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for cooking
2 large apples, cored and cut into 1/4-inch thick rings (I used one tart apple and one sweet apple)

Whisk together the flour through salt in a bowl until combined. Whisk together to egg through butter in another bowl until well-combined. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined.

Heat a griddle or cast iron skillet until hot. Lightly butter the hot pan.

Dip the apple rings into the batter coating both sides. Let any excess drip off. Place onto the hot skillet. Flip when the batter begins to bubble and the first side is golden. Cook until the second side is golden and repeat until all the apple rings and/or batter is gone. 

What was I cooking one year ago?: apple & pork macaroni & cheese
Two years ago?: apple crisp pie
Three?: chipotle sweet potato soup
4?: spaghetti squash gratin

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sweet potato and chocolate swirl bread

When the colder weather arrives, I tend to bake a lot more frequently. I found a can of sweet potato puree from last year lingering in the back of the cupboard recently and decided that I needed to use it immediately in some baked treat. Does this ever happen to you? You just all of the sudden get an uncontrollable urge to bake something? Maybe it's a food nerd thing... I was also in the mood for something chocolaty, which is how this sweet potato and chocolate swirl bread came to be. I used my chocolate chip pumpkin bread recipe as a starting point for this bread and was not disappointed in the results.

So if you are looking for a fall treat that's a change up from pumpkin and apple, give this sweet potato bread a try (and then go back to making pumpkin and apple things, because they are awesome). This recipe will make one 9-inch loaf of quick bread. 

Sweet potato and chocolate swirl bread
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sweet potato puree
1 large egg
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9-inch loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour through ginger) until combined. In another medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar through egg until well combined. The stir the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined. 

Transfer half of the batter back into the bowl the dry ingredients came from and set aside. In the other bowl, stir in the cocoa powder and chocolate chips until combined. 

Pour half of the chocolate batter into the pan and spread it with a spatula. Top with half the the sweet potato batter, followed by the remaining chocolate batter, and then remaining sweet potato batter. Then, using a chopstick or rubber spatula, insert it into one end of the loaf pan to the bottom and swirl batter up and down lengthwise and then crosswise.

Bake the bread for approximately 45-55 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

What was I cooking one year ago?: apple and pork macaroni and cheese
Two years ago?: apple crisp pie

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pumpkin spice snickerdoodles

These cookies were made as a snack for our annual family apple picking outing this past weekend. Every October for a few years now we go apple picking with a bunch of our family members, and I always bring some sort of autumn-themed baked treat. I have been seeing a lot of pumpkin snickerdoodle recipes popping up lately and I knew I wanted to try them out, but I also wanted to incorporate pumpkin pie spices in them instead of mainly cinnamon. Perhaps this makes them not quite a snickerdoodle anymore, but that's okay... I used a couple different recipes as a guide, but mainly this one from Sally's Baking Addiction. I changed up a few things, including the spices for the below recipe which made about 3-1/2 dozen cookies. 

 Golden russet apples - our favorite eating apple since discovering them last autumn at LynOaken Farms.

The cookies ended up being very well-received. My ten year old cousin pocketed a few before our tractor/wagon ride around the orchard. I'm glad that I made them the day before because the flavors were more prominent the next day.  

Pumpkin spice snickerdoodles
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1-1/2 cups sugar, preferably unbleached, divided
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, (I like to use the real stuff), divided
3/4 teaspoon clove, divided
1 teaspoon allspice, divided
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg, divided

In one bowl, whisk together the butter, brown sugar, 1 cup sugar, pumpkin, and vanilla until well combined.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon clove, 1/2 teaspoon allspice, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg until well combined.

Using a wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until combined. Then cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or overnight.

When ready to bake, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar with the remaining spices (1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/8 teaspoon clove, 1/4 teaspoon allspice, and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg) in a shallow bowl. Stir well and set aside.

Using a scoop or your hands, take the dough about 1 tablespoon at a time, roll into a ball, and then gently press/flatten the cookies into the sugar and spice mixture. Place the cookies, spice side up, on the cookie sheets about 1-inch apart. Continue until the sheets are filled. Put the remaining dough back into the refrigerator.

Bake the cookies for about 9-11 minutes, until the bottoms are just golden. They may appear slightly underdone. Cool the cookies on a wire rack and repeat the process with the remaining dough.

Let the cookies cool completely and store in an airtight container. The pumpkin and spice flavors become more prominent the next day.

What was I cooking one year ago?: cabbage roll soup 
Two years ago?: chocolate chip pumpkin blondies 
Three?: curried butternut squash & yellow pea soup
4?: grilled apple salad with maple-mustard vinaigrette 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Pan-fried finger dumplings

October is here! This kicks off the start of my favorite two months of the year (October and November) - Halloween, Thanksgiving, apples, pumpkins, winter squash, grapes, cool weather, colored leaves, wedding anniversary - yay! October also means that we have at least one German "Oktoberfest" dinner, including some delicious fall beers. Last fall my husband and I went to a German restaurant for our anniversary dinner and I chose finger dumplings as one of my side dishes. They looked pretty much like what I made here and reminded me of a large Spaetzle. I looked in my German cookbook to see if there was a finger dumpling (or similar) recipe. I didn't find one, so I adapted the Spaetzle recipe. If you have any interest in German cooking, I highly recommend The German Cookbook. It's not fancy, but it's full of traditional German fare and is a great book.

This recipe will make two hearty servings. Serve these finger dumplings with German sausages such as a bratwurst, applesauce, and some German Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage or sauerkraut for a perfect Oktoberfest dinner (don't forget the beer). You may also like these hot and cold versions of German Potato Salad.

Pan-fried finger dumplings
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt, plus more for seasoning
1 large egg, well beaten
about 1/2 cup water
2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
dried parsley, for garnish, optional

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Stir in the beaten egg then begin to slowly add the water until the dough just comes together and is still relatively firm. Bring the dough together into a ball with your hands.

Lightly flour a large cutting board. Press the dough into a flat rectangle that is about 1/4-1/2 inch thick (it need not be perfect, these are rustic). Cut the dough into strips about 2 inches in length and dust them with a small amount of flour if they are sticky.

Drop the dough into the boiling water (do this in two batches, if needed). Stir and cook until the dumplings all float to the top. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them into a cold cast iron or other non-stick skillet. Let them dry for a few minutes, stirring around as needed. 

Add the butter to the skillet (start with 2 tablespoons) and turn on the heat to medium. Stir once the butter melts. Let the dumplings cook in the butter until golden (don't turn the heat too high as you don't want the butter to burn - you can also add a drizzle of olive oil to help). Add the extra butter, if needed, and season with salt. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.

What was I cooking one year ago?: hot & spicy refrigerator turnip pickles
Two years ago?: creamed collard greens with crispy shallots
Three?: baked apple cinnamon oatmeal
4?: pork & pepper goulash