Apple Fritter Bread

Are you tired of apple recipes? I hope not, I have one more that’s just as good as the previous two I posted recently – Apple Pie Spice Cake & Apple Butterscotch Cookies. Today I am bringing you an Apple Fritter Bread. All the deliciousness of an Apple Fritter without the guilt of it being fried. And just for a quick recap, an Apple Fritter is a deep-fried donut filled with apples and cinnamon.

With this bread, cinnamon coated apple pieces are layered between the batter and then swirled in before baking.

The result, each slice is filled with apple cinnamon goodness. For that final apple fritter touch, the bread is drizzled with a sour cream icing. If you are not a fan of icing though this bread would be just as delicious without it.

Apple Fritter Bread

Ingredients:

For the Bread:

1 medium Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 eggs

1/2 cup milk*

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Sour Cream Icing:

3 tablespoons sour cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Milk, if necessary

*I used whole milk

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 9.25 x 5.25 loaf pan with baking spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the apples, light brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

In another medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer on medium speed, beat together the sugar and butter until combined. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the milk and vanilla until the mixture in smooth. With the mixer on low, beat in the flour mixture until just combined.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan and spread half of the apple mixture on top. Top the apples with the remaining batter and then top with the remaining apple mixture. Gently pat the apples in the batter and use a knife to swirl the apples into the batter.

Bake in the preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes and then remove from the pan and let cool completely on the wire rack.

Once cooled, make and drizzle with the sour cream icing. In a medium bowl whisk together the sour cream, vanilla extract and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. If you find that the mixture is too thick whisk in 1 teaspoon of milk at a time until it’s a consistency easy to drizzle.

Place the wire rack with the cake over a baking sheet or a piece of wax paper and drizzle with the icing. Let sit for a few minutes to let the icing set before slicing.

Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature.

Recipe from Better Homes & Gardens

Apple Butterscotch Cookies

So, I’m on a bit of an apple kick. I welcomed Fall on here with an Apple Pie Spice Cake, I recently made an Apple Fritter Bread that I will be sharing very soon and today I am bringing you a recipe for Apple Butterscotch Cookies. They do say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but, I am just not sure if that also applies to apples baked into desserts.

These cookies are perfect for Fall. Not just because of the apples, but because the cinnamon and butterscotch in these cookies would pair perfectly with a hot cup of tea or cider. Both of which are a welcome relief to combat the slight chill in the air of a perfectly crisp Fall day. As for the texture, they are firm around the edges and perfectly soft in the middle. The ideal combination of any cookie.

Apple Butterscotch Cookies

  • Servings: 36 cookies
  • Print

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup light brown sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Granny Smith apple peeled and diced

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup butterscotch chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cinnamon and baking soda and set aside.

In a large bowl, using a hand mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter and both sugars until creamy. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Add the flour mixture to butter mixture and beat on low until just incorporated.

Add in the diced apple, chopped walnuts and butterscotch chips and mix until everything is well combined.

Use a cookie scoop to drop the dough on the prepared baking sheets. Bake in the preheated oven for 13-15 minutes, until the cookies are set on top and starting to brown around the edges.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Recipe first appeared on Bead Yarn & Spatula.

Crocheted Pumpkins

Come every September I want to learn how to make crocheted / knitted pumpkins. They start popping up on my Instagram feed and I think to myself “I want to make those.” But then it never happens. I look at patterns and they just seem way too complicated or I just lose track of time and I get into Christmas mode instead. This year I was determined though.

I initially found one pattern that I thought was going to be a winner. I am not sure if I did something wrong or maybe it was the yarn I used, but, when it came time to sew what I had crocheted into the pumpkin it was a fail. I had crocheted something that sort of resembled a piece of hard candy in a wrapper. Think, wide in the middle and then tapering off on both ends. I followed the pattern and sewed it together but when it came time to stuff it with the fiber fill there was no way to make that thing look like a pumpkin! I wasn’t throwing in the towel just yet though.

I read over some other patterns and watched a video or two and figured out the best way was to crochet a rectangle and then form that into a pumpkin.

What’s great about this pattern is that gauge doesn’t matter and you don’t have to count rows. I am going to show you a nifty way to know when you have crocheted enough rows. As for the crochet hook size you should use, I would go with the size that is suggested for the yarn you decide to use. That’s what I have been doing. Just realize depending on the yarn weight you use that will determine the size of your pumpkin. You could start with the same length of your foundation chain with a chunky yarn and medium weight yarn and end up with two pumpkins that are completely different sizes.

Start by crocheting your foundation chain. Since the yarn I was using was a medium weight and I wanted a decent size pumpkin I started with a foundation chain of 25. I left a long tail since the tail is used to seam the rectangle together.

For the first row, starting with the second chain from your hook, single crochet in the back loops of each chain across the row.

For the second row and each subsequent row, ch1 and single crochet into each back loop across the row.

And, as I mentioned, there is no need to count your rows as you go. To determine if you have crocheted enough rows simply do this…

Lay your rectangle flat…

With your working row on the right, fold by bringing the top left corner of your work down to the bottom of your work to form a triangle.

Next, fold the triangle piece to the right. Once the bottom corners of the two ends meet you have crocheted enough rows. At this point you can end your row, but, be sure to leave a long tail as this tail will be used to seam the pumpkin. This tail should be longer than the tail you have from your foundation row.

Now that you have your rectangle it’s time to make your pumpkin. Fold the rectangle in half with the short ends meeting, and thread a needle on the tail from your foundation chain. Or, the shorter of the two tails. And just seam up the two sides. Make sure as you are seaming the edges that they are meeting up at the corner you are working towards. Once you are done, weave the tail through the work and end it. Since you want to hide this seam, you want to turn your project inside out for the finishing steps.

Thread your needle on the other tail and you are going to weave the yarn near the top edge to essentially create a drawstring to cinch the opening. Once you have weaved the yarn around the entire edge pull the yarn tight to close the hole. You will still have a slight opening. To close it you are just going to stitch the yarn from one side to the other to make sure the hole is completely closed. Do not end the tail.

With one end stitched closed you can now fill the pumpkin with fiber fill. Stuff it with a good amount so your finished pumpkin is firm and full. Pass your needle with the working tail through the center of the pumpkin and through the fiber fill.

Stitch the top of the pumpkin in the same manner as you did the bottom to close it.

You can leave your pumpkin like this, or, to give it a more “smooshed” look you can stitch the working tail through the center from the top of the pumpkin to the bottom a few times, ending with the bottom and then weave the tail through a few stitches on the bottom and end it.

Finally, your pumpkin needs a stem. You can either use decorative stick, that you can pick up at your local craft store, or a cinnamon stick. Just stick it in place with a small dab of hot glue.

And there you have it, a simple handmade pumpkin.

I had so much fun making these that I ended up making some to list in my Etsy shop.

Apple Pie Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Happy Fall Y’all! While I normally welcome my favorite season with a pumpkin dessert, I decided to switch it up this year with an apple one, well sort of. It’s a spice cake with an apple pie filling topped with cream cheese frosting. You get all the Fall feels with this cake… the warm spices – cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves – from the spice cake, the deliciousness of apple pie and you can never go wrong with cream cheese frosting!

To start I made the spice cake. I whisked together the dry ingredients and then beat the wet ingredients together and then incorporated both until it was just combined. To make sure I don’t overmix my batter I normally use a hand mixer and beat everything for about 30 seconds to a minute and then finish mixing everything with a rubber spatula. Once the batter was ready, I divided it among two 8-inch pans that I sprayed with baking spray and baked the cakes for about 40 minutes. After letting them cool in the pan for a few minutes I transferred them to a wire rack to cool completely. I always like to make my cakes a day or two in advance of assembling them so I wrapped them in plastic wrap and refrigerated them until I was ready to use them.

For the apple filling you can either make it a day ahead or if you plan on making it the day you intend to use it, just make sure to let it cool completely. I opted to use Granny Smith apples since these are one of the best apples for baking and can be found at pretty much any supermarket. Since you are cooking the apples you want to make sure you choose a variety that won’t get too mushy after cooking. The Granny Smith apples held up well after being boiled and simmered, they were tender but still firm.   

Next, I made the cream cheese frosting. I let my butter come to room temperature and then took my cream cheese out for only about five minutes. I don’t like using cream cheese that is too warm because I find that the frosting gets too soft then. I added the butter and cream cheese to the bowl of my stand mixer and beat it on low for a minute or two to incorporate them. I then sifted 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar right into the bowl, beat it on medium for about 30 seconds to blend it all together. And then sifted in another 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar and beat it on medium-high speed until the frosting was light and fluffy. Finally, I added in vanilla extract and beat everything on high for 30 seconds. I did find that my frosting was a little soft so I refrigerated it for a few minutes before using.

With all my components ready to go it was time to assemble my cake. I began by leveling the cakes. On the bottom cake, I spread a thin layer of frosting on it and then piped a dam around the perimeter of the cake so the apple filling wouldn’t “escape.”

I’ll admit that I didn’t pipe my dam perfectly, but, it did the trick and none of the apple filling escaped when I topped it with the other cake layer and finished frosting and decorating it!

Apple Pie Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

For the Cake:

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

3/4 teaspoons ginger

3/4 teaspoons nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2 sticks unsalted butter, melted

1 cup sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

1 cup sour cream

4 eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Apple Pie Filling:

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups water

For the Frosting:

2 8 oz. packages cream cheese

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray two 8-inch round pans with baking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves and set aside.

In a large, using a handheld mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and both sugars together until smooth. Add in the sour cream and continue beating until well incorporated. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beat well after each addition, and finally the vanilla extract.

On low speed beat in the dry ingredients until just combined.

Divide the batter among the two prepared pans and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes and then remove from the pans and place on the wire rack to cool completely.

For the Apple Filling: Toss the apples in the lemon juice and set aside.

In a medium saucepan combine both sugars, the cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Stir to combine and then add in the water and stir once again to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the apples and bring to boil once again. Lower the heat to a simmer and let cook for about 10 minutes, or until the apples are tender. Remove the pan from the heat and let the apples cool completely before using. Can make a day ahead and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the Frosting: Using a stand mixer beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed to incorporate. Add in 2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar to mixture and beat on medium for 30 seconds, add the remaining 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar and beat on medium-speed until the frosting is light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat on high speed for 30 seconds. Refrigerate the frosting until ready to use.

To assemble the cake: Level the cake layers if necessary. Lightly frost the top of the bottom layer. Fill a piping bag with the frosting and pipe a dam around the bottom layer (a ring of frosting around the perimeter of the cake). It may be necessary to pipe two layers of the frosting. Fill with the apple mixture and top with the other cake. Crumb coat the cake and refrigerate for 15 minutes (place the remaining frosting in the refrigerator during this time as well). Finish frosting the cake and decorate as desired.

Recipe first published on Bead Yarn & Spatula

Sheet Pan Greek Pita

I’m constantly printing out recipes or ripping them out of magazines. Sometimes I take a second (or third) look at them and decide that I just don’t want to make it for various reasons. Usually it’s because it requires too many ingredients or more than I feel like buying. And while the ingredient list for this Sheet Pan Greek Pita is a bit long, it was thankfully ingredients that I normally have on hand or are part of a typical trip to the supermarket.

Another plus to this recipe… It came together in less than 45 minutes. Since the salad requires a little time to sit and marinate I decided to make it earlier in the day so it would be ready by the time my chicken was done.

And when it was time to eat, it was super easy to put together. I cut a pita in half, added in some of the salad, some of the chicken and topped it off with more of the salad.  This is one recipe that I won’t be tossing. This pita was delicious and I may have discovered a new way to make my chicken for salads!

Sheet Pan Greek Pita

For the Chicken:

4 boneless & skinless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch pieces

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 1/2 teaspoons oregano

1 teaspoon salt

For the Cucumber Tomato Salad:

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 cucumber, diced

1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

2 tablespoons chopped mint

1/4 cup diced red onion

1/2 cup black olives chopped (or Kalamata olives)

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

Juice of half a lemon

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 Pitas for serving

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium bowl combine all the ingredients for the salad and mix well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Combine all the ingredients for the chicken in a medium bowl. Mix well and then spread on a large baking pan. Make sure to leave ample space between the chicken so it roasts as opposed to steam. Cook in the preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

To serve, slice a pita in half, spoon some of the cucumber tomato salad into the pita, followed by the chicken and top it off with more of the salad.

Recipe from Chef Jason Goldstein

No Churn Key Lime Ice Cream

Today marks the unofficial end of the summer. While the calendar may say that we still have a little over two weeks left to the season, with schools back in session, pumpkin spice everything popping up in stores and some cooler temps there is no doubt that Fall is just around the corner. That’s fine by me as it is my favorite season. It’s been quite some time since I posted an ice cream recipe, just under two years and surprise surprise it was for a No Churn Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream, so I decided that this unofficial end was the perfect excuse for another ice cream recipe. A flavor that can help to extend the feeling of summer… A No Churn Key Lime Ice Cream.  

If you love a classic key lime pie you are going to love this ice cream. It has all the ingredients of the traditional pie (key lime juice, lime zest, sweetened condensed milk), whipped cream (folded into the mixture as opposed to piped on top) and graham cracker crumbles. And best of all you don’t need an ice cream machine to churn up a batch of it. Just mix all the ingredients together and transfer it to loaf pan and then freeze until firm.  

No Churn Key Lime Ice Cream

Ingredients:

Graham Cracker Crumble:

4 graham crackers, crumbled

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 teaspoons sugar

Ice Cream:

1 14oz. can sweetened condensed milk

1 tablespoon key lime or regular lime zest

1/3 cup key lime juice*

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups heavy whipping cream

*Can use fresh key limes or Nellie & Joe’s Key Lime Juice

Directions:

In a small bowl combine the crumbled graham crackers, sugar and butter and mix together until well combined. Reserve 1 tablespoon and set aside

In another medium bowl whisk together the condensed milk, lime zest, key lime juice, vanilla extract and salt and set aside.

Using a hand mixer on medium speed beat the heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form.

Fold the whipped cream and graham cracker crumb mixture into the condensed milk mixture until everything is combined and no streaks of either mixture remain.

Transfer the mixture to a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Sprinkle the reserved graham cracker crumb mixture on top. Cover with a piece of wax paper and aluminum foil and freeze for at least 6 hours.

Recipe from Southern Living

Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta in a Browned Butter Sage Sauce

As I mentioned in my focaccia post earlier this week I decided to plant quite a few herbs. Today I am sharing with you what I opted to make with the fresh sage I picked… A Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta in a Browned Butter Sage Sauce. This was the first time I had planted sage and while I have purchased it a few times in the supermarket, there is really nothing like growing your own herbs and vegetables. Although, the tomatoes, cucumber and eggplant I planted are in fact fruits thanks to the seeds inside of them and because they all come from the flower of the plant. Back to the sage though, the leaves were enormous and so fragrant.

I started by peeling and chopping up a small butternut squash. I usually take the easy route and buy butternut squash already chopped, but since it’s not Fall yet it wasn’t available at my local supermarket. I did learn though that peeling and chopping up a small butternut squash is much easier than a large one. Next, I tossed it with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted it in the oven for about 35 minutes.

Next, I boiled some pasta. Now, I would stick with penne or farfalle for this dish. I just find that it mixes better with the sauce and the size of that pasta is a good ratio for the small chunks of butternut squash. And finally, I made the browned butter sage sauce. In a large skillet, I combined half a stick of butter along with my fresh sage leaves over medium-low heat. I let the butter cook until it was beginning to brown and then added in minced garlic and cooked it for a minute more. Now, you need the sage leaves to crisp up so you can crumble them into the dish. That won’t happen though until you add the garlic to the melted butter and everything begins to sizzle. Make sure you don’t overcook the butter or the garlic or your sauce will be bitter. After the minute, I removed the pan from the heat, removed the sage leaves and added in the cooked pasta and roasted butternut squash. I crumbled the sage and then added it back to the skillet. I gave everything a good toss to make sure it was evenly coated with the browned butter and then tossed in some parmesan cheese and dinner was ready!

Roasted Butternut Squash Pasta in a Browned Butter Sage Sauce

Ingredients:

1 small to medium butternut squash, 2 pounds

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

8 ounces pasta*

1/4 cup unsalted butter

18-24 fresh sage leaves

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

*Ideal pasta would be a penne or farfalle

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Peel the butternut squash, scoop out the seeds and then cut into 1/2-inch to 1-inch cubes. Transfer the cubes to a large baking sheet and drizzle with the oil and sprinkle the salt and pepper on top. Toss the cubes to evenly coat them with the olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes, tossing them halfway through the cooking time. Set aside.

Cook the pasta per the directions on the box. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-low heat add the butter and sage leaves and cook until the butter begins to brown. Add the garlic and continue cooking for an additional minute. Make sure not to let the butter or garlic burn as the flavor will become bitter then. Remove from the heat and use a fork or slotted spoon to remove the sage leaves. They should be crispy.

Add the roasted butternut squash and cooked pasta to the skillet. Crumble the sage on top. Return the skillet to low-heat and toss everything a few times to evenly coat the pasta and squash with the browned butter. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Toss the parmesan cheese in and serve.

Recipe modified from The Spruce Eats

Homemade Pickles

Pickles, you either love them or hate them. It’s one of those food items that there doesn’t seem to be an in between about. I am on the “love them” side of the fence so when my cucumber plant started producing more cucumbers that I could possibly eat or give away I decided to turn them into one of my favorite snacks.

To begin, I sliced two cucumbers into spears. I first sliced each of the cucumbers in half and then sliced those halves into halves or thirds depending on the size of the cucumbers. Next, I placed the cucumbers into a 32oz. wide mouth jar. I topped the cucumbers with chopped dill and smashed garlic cloves and tucked a bay leaf on the inside of the jar.

In a liquid measuring cup I combined water, rice wine vinegar, sugar, salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper and stirred everything together until the salt dissolved. I sampled the mixture to ensure that it had the right about of sweetness and spiciness.

I then poured the mixture into the jar with the cucumbers.

And then sealed it and refrigerated it for at least 24 hours before trying one of the pickles.

Now, my pickles were more on the spicy side than sweet side, but delicious nonetheless. If you would prefer a sweeter pickle, like a bread & butter one, increase your sugar amount, if you just want a delicious pickle without the sweet or spicy aspect I would omit the red pepper flakes. One more thing to note, make sure you are starting with cucumbers that have a nice crunch to them. They will hold up much better, and still have that crunch, after sitting in the water/vinegar mixture. You could also try this recipe with other goodies from your garden… Carrots, sting beans, or even asparagus.

Happy pickling!

Homemade Pickles

Ingredients:

2 medium-to-large cucumbers

1 cup water, at room temperature or cooler

1 cup rice wine vinegar

3 tablespoons sugar

3 teaspoons fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped

4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

1 bay leaf

Directions:

Slice the cucumbers into spears. Slice the cucumber in half. Then slice each half into quarters. If your cucumbers are on the thinner side then only slice the halves into halves as well. Use your best judgment. Alternatively, you could also slice the cucumbers into rounds

Place the cucumbers inside of the jar you will be using. Make sure the jar is tall enough to leave about 1 inch of space between the cucumbers and the top of the jar. This recipe is ideal for a 32oz. jar.

In a liquid measuring cup, combine the water, rice wine vinegar, sugar, sea salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Give everything a few good stirs until the salt has fully dissolved.

Top the cucumbers with the dill and garlic and place the bay leaf on the inside of the jar. Pour the water mixture into the jar until the cucumbers are fully submerged. Seal the jar and refrigerate at least 24 hours before enjoying.

Recipe modified from Cookie and Kate

Rosemary & Tomato Focaccia Bread

I decided to plant some veggies and herbs again this year. I passed on planting zucchini again, which I used to make these delicious zucchini fries last year, and went with cucumbers and eggplant instead. I haven’t picked any eggplant yet, but, I have picked quite a few cucumbers. Some of which I turned into some yummy pickles. That’s another post though. I also planted tomatoes again this year, but instead of beefsteak one’s I went with cherry tomatoes. And for the herbs, I went with rosemary, basil, sage and lemon thyme. I mainly planted the herbs in hopes of repelling mosquitoes. While they have been around I will say that it hasn’t been as bad as past years. Initially I wasn’t planning on picking any of the herbs, but, they grew so well that I decided it would be a shame not to use them. So, I decided to use the rosemary and some of the tomatoes to make homemade focaccia bread.

Now, I am always leery of working with yeast. I am apprehensive that it won’t proof well enough, that my final product will be tough and not flaky and whatever else can go wrong. Believe it or not, the weather also plays a factor. While you may think that a humid day will help your bread rise quicker, that’s not always the case and a very cool day can make your bread take even longer to rise. I baked this focaccia on a rainy unseasonably cool summer day that had very low humidity and it came out perfect.

I completely relied on my stand mixer to knead the dough using the dough attachment. And for the first rise I preheated my oven to 200 F, turned it off and then put my dough, that I had placed in a greased bowl, in there for about an hour so it could rise. It’s a good trick I learned and have done it every time I need dough to rise. When I removed it from the oven it had doubled in size. And for the second rise I rolled the dough out on my counter that I dusted with flour and let it rise for a few more minutes.

Once the dough was ready, I transferred it to a 9 x 13 – inch baking pan that I lined with parchment paper. I stretched the dough to fill the pan and then poked deep holes into the dough. Next, I sprinkled the dough with minced fresh rosemary and sliced cherry tomatoes. I drizzled a few tablespoons of olive oil over everything and then sprinkled it with salt.

I then baked it in a 400 F preheated oven for about 25 minutes, until it was lightly golden on top and the bread had cooked through.

I let it rest for a few minutes before removing it from the pan using the parchment paper and slicing off a piece to enjoy! The texture was spot on. It was firm with just enough chew. You can definitely customize this focaccia to your liking by using different herbs, vegetables and so forth. One thing I would avoid using though is sun-dried tomatoes. That’s what I was initially thinking of using instead of the fresh ones, but, I thought that the sun-dried tomatoes would burn while they were in the oven. The fresh tomatoes do get a nice sweetness to them while baking.

Rosemary & Tomato Focaccia Bread

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cup warm water (about 110F)

1 teaspoons sugar

1 package of active-dry yeast (0.25 ounces)

3 1/2 cups flour

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped

1/4 cup cherry/grape tomatoes, sliced

Directions:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough attachment add the water and sugar and stir combine. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water and give it a quick stir to mix it into the water. Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes until it becomes foamy.

With the mixer on low speed gradually add in the flour, olive oil and salt. Once everything has been added increase the speed to medium-low and continue mixing the dough for 5 minutes. The dough should be pulling away from the sides of the bowl. If it isn’t, this means that the dough is too sticky and you should add in additional flour, about 1/4 cup. Add it gradually until the dough is the right consistency.

Remove the dough from the bowl and use your hands to shape it into ball. Grease the mixing bowl, or another bowl, with olive oil and place the dough inside of it and coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel and place in a warm spot for 45-60 minutes so it can rise. It should just about double in size. To ensure a warm spot, preheat your oven to 200 F and then turn it off and place the bowl inside of the oven with the door closed for the allotted time.

Once the dough has risen turn it out on a floured surface and roll it into a rectangle that’s about a 1/2 inch thick. Cover the dough again with a damp paper towel (you will probably need two) and let the dough rise for 20 minutes.

While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400 F and prep a 9 x 13-inch baking pan by lining it with parchment paper leaving a slight overhang. Transfer the dough to the pan and use your hands to stretch the dough to fit into the pan. Use your fingers to poke holes all over the dough. The holes should be deep enough that you reach the bottom of the baking pan. Drizzle two tablespoons of olive oil all over the dough and then sprinkle with the chopped rosemary, sliced tomatoes and additional sea salt.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until the dough is slightly golden on top and is fully cooked through. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the bread using the parchment paper and let cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving. If you are not planning on serving all of the bread at once, slice what you are going to eat and wrap the leftovers in wax paper and store in an airtight container or resealable bag.

Recipe adapted from Gimme Some Oven

Peach Crisp

When I saw this recipe in the most recent issue of Food Network Magazine I knew I wanted to try it before peaches where nowhere to be found at my local supermarket. Truth be told though, I’ve had more bad peaches this summer than good ones. What’s up with that? I found that while I brought them home from the supermarket rock hard so I could eat them over the course of a week, within a few days the skin was wrinkling on some of them and others were completely rotten. To make sure the peaches I used for this Peach Crisp were good I opted to buy tree ripe peaches that were quite enormous but thankfully perfectly ripe (hence the name) without being overly sweet.

To start I made the crisp topping by mixing together old-fashioned oats, almond flour, light brown sugar and salt in a bowl. I then added in melted butter and stirred everything together with a fork until the mixture began to form clumps. Now, I used almond flour, as that is what the recipe called for and I had some because I want to try my hand at making macarons, but, you easily swap the almond flour out for all-purpose flour. I placed this in the freezer as I worked on the peach portion of the dessert.

I sliced the peaches in half and then sliced each of the halves into halves (basically I quartered the peach) and then sliced each piece into thirds. In the end, each peach should give you 12 slices. The peaches I used were so large that I probably could have gotten away with just using 3.

I transferred the slices to a large bowl and added in brown sugar, flour, orange juice, vanilla extract and nutmeg. The original recipe called for lemon juice, brandy (optional) and orange zest. I had already decided I wasn’t going to use orange zest in the recipe. Truthfully, I didn’t feel like buying an orange for a teaspoon of zest, but, I ended up completely forgetting to get a lemon when I went food shopping. And while I did have brandy on hand, it was apple flavored and I just didn’t think the flavors would go well together. Thankfully though I did have orange juice which is a good substitute for lemon juice and gave me some of the orange flavor the zest would have. I decided to use 3 tablespoons of the orange juice since the original recipe call for 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of brandy and since I had so many peach slices I figured the extra liquid wouldn’t hurt.

Once the peaches and other ingredients were mixed together well – I made sure that the peaches were coated by the mixture – I transferred them to my dish along with any juices that remained.

I then topped the peaches with chopped pecans and the crisp topping. I used my hands to break up the slightly frozen topping into small pieces that I scattered on top of the peaches.  

After baking it in a 350 F preheated oven for about an hour I let it cool on a wire rack. Once cooled I covered it with aluminum foil and refrigerated it. To enjoy, I heated it up a spoonful or two and topped it with vanilla ice cream.

Peach Crisp

Ingredients:

Crisp Topping:

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup almond flour*

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Peach Filling:

4 large peaches or 5 medium peaches (about 2.5 pounds)

1/3 cup light brown sugar

3 tablespoons flour

3 tablespoons orange juice**

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup chopped pecans***

* Could use all-purpose flour

** Original recipe called for 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon brandy (optional) and 1 teaspoon grated orange zest

*** Could use walnuts instead

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Make the crisp topping: In a medium bowl whisk together the oats, flour, sugar and Kosher salt. Pour in the melted butter and use a fork to stir everything together. Once the mixture begins to clump place in the freezer while working on the peach filling.

For the peach filling: Cut each peach in half and remove the pit. Cut each half in half and then slice each half into thirds. Place the peach slices in a large bowl and add in the sugar, flour, orange juice, vanilla and ground nutmeg. Give everything a few good stirs to make sure each peach slice is evenly coated.

Transfer the peaches to a 9-inch pie dish. Sprinkle the chopped pecans on top.

Remove the crisp topping from the freezer and using your hands break the topping into small pieces and scatter on top of the peaches in an even layer.

Bake in the preheated oven for an hour. Until the crisp topping is lightly browned and you can easily slice into one of the peach slices.

Remove from the oven and enjoy right out of the oven or place on a cooling rack to cool. If you are planning on refrigerating it for later, cool to room temperature and cover with aluminum foil to refrigerate until ready to enjoy.

Serve on its own or enjoy with ice cream!

Recipe from Vallery Lomas